Congratulations, Bushies: We've Exceeded Saddam Hussein's Level of Tortures To Civilians in Iraq

Really, President Bush, VP Cheney, and Secretary Rumsfeld: you're to be marveled at. For all the talk you gave us about how terrible it was for the good people of Iraq to suffer so badly under the torture and indignities of Saddam Hussein, it really took hard work and much effort to actually increase the torture level and numbers for Iraqi citizens under your occupation of the country.

Heck of a job, "Brownie" (shirts)!

Say Hello to


God knows we should be watching them because the Bushies are too busy awarding this corrupt corporation no-bid contracts and handing them sweetheart deals to bother to analyze their overpriced abysmal performance.

Our Government is Patently Hopeless

More than 1,100 government laptops just missing, likely with confidential data.

We don't need an al Qaeda: our government is enough of a terrorist endangering our lives and our future.

Females of Afghanistan Back in Hiding

Two people wrote me email yesterday objecting to my comments that Mr. Bush, who took credit on the U.N. stage on Wednesday for how gosh darn great life is in Afghanistan now, is lying because that country is far more dangerous (to its citizens) than ever before and that women have been driven right back into the shadows.

Well, here's the Washington Post telling us what I said last night and for the better part of five years: girls have largely been driven out of schools (and the streets and jobs and...)

GOP "Upbeat" On Terror-Torture Bill

I kid you not. This is a headline at the Washington Post. I don't blame the Post for it, of course, since they can't help the fact that our "elected reps" in Washington practically drool with delight that they can hand their (Bush is certainly not our) president another power and get just giddy about the fact they can torture in doing so.

Sick shit, really.

But today's brand of righteous Republican is pretty damned twisted.


Bernie Kerik: Grandstanding and Getting Out

The NY Daily News tells us how a new book informs us of how much Bernard Kerik "helped" in Iraq when he was dispatched there, meaning not at all.

This does not come as a surprise to me because at the time Bernie went over there, reports coming back said he was basically just getting his picture taken a lot and meeting with some important people, but nothing that could be construed as actual training of Iraqi police. And then - and I seemed to be the only one to notice - Bernie came home waaaaaay early announcing mission accomplished when at that time, Iraq had fewer "trained" police after Bernie left than before he arrived.

No, Kerik was sent to Iraq for a high profile, highly paid promo from the Bush-Rudy Giuliani team. Not long after his strangely early return, he was patted on the back ("Heck of a job, Bernie"?) and offered the Department of Homeland (In)Security post until someone FINALLY dug up the dirt that I'd known about for some time (the mistresses, using cops to do his personal errands, taking kickbacks, non-performance).

In fact, the harder you look at what Giuliani and Kerik did after 9-11, the more you realize that lining their pockets and demanding fat cat appointments was really their only interest. Sad, but I think true.

Winning By Hook, Crook, Or Voter Suppression

From Roxanne at Rox Populi (voter suppression as we've seen in the last few cycles also includes Republican workers manning polling stations to issue challenges that a person is not eligible to vote, deliberately telling folks to vote at the wrong place, jamming phone lines, and so much more:

In normal times, I wouldn't be too worried about our courts upholding nasty voter suppression legislation. But with the current make-up of the Supremes, we shouldn't be overly enthusiastic about their will to uphold the most basic tenets of the Constitution:
    One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party’s strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic. The Senate should not go along with this cynical, un-American electoral strategy.

    The bill the House passed yesterday would require people to show photo ID to vote in 2008.

    Starting in 2010, that photo ID would have to be something like a passport, or an enhanced kind of driver’s license or non-driver’s identification, containing proof of citizenship. This is a level of identification that many Americans simply do not have.
Read the rest ...

Poor Bill O; Pathological Lying Has to Hurt

As you've no doubt heard, either through folks talking about the Radar Magazine article yesteday or Bill O'Reilly's interview with Barbara (bah-bwa) Walters on 20/20 tonight, Bill's claiming that he's on an al Qaeda death list per information he was given directly by the FBI.

Except the FBI - several agents and supervisors - says that just isn't the case. That they know of no death lists for the media let alone specific TV hosts. That they never went to O'Reilly and told him this.

Hell, even a spokeswoman for Faux seemed to imply this was a goofy thing for him to say. I'm sure that it's just coincidence O'Reilly came up with this silly story when he has a new book out and it's not going to the top of the charts (and probably shouldn't).

Personally, my favorite take on this is one shared by Keith Olbermann Thursday night: that if this story has any truth to it, this is because O'Reilly IS on an al Qaeda list, but not to kill him, instead expecting him to help their cause.

The Republican "Compromise" On Torture and Geneva Conventions Reached Yesterday

The text is here. I don't like it one bit.

Anyone else have a different take?

Just As Soon As Bush Takes Credit On U.N. Floor for "His" Great Job in Afghanistan

A bunch of workers have been killed in Afghanistan by fighers. Recently, many foreign troops have been killed there as well in continuing violence with warlords, the Taliban, and probably defense contract workers.

Afghanistan is a far worse hell now than it was when we landed there in early October 2001 and we still are no closer to having Osama bin Laden in custody.

Why is that, Mr. Bush? A little less bragging and smirking and a little more smarts might help, Cowboy.

I'll Meet Your Habeas and Raise You a Corpus

Following up the post by Mataliandy at Green Mountain Daily on the subject of torture, Rhetoric 101 has this to say (go here to read the rest):

While we focus on the immoral "torture" part of the new torture bill, we're missing a more insidious little tid-bit: removing the right to a trial.

In England, way back in 1679, it was made illegal to stuff people in prison without charges and leave them there to rot. This was done because imprisonment had become the government's favorite means of suppression. Parliament thought this was a really bad idea, mostly because the peasantry had become so fed up with being silenced in this way, that the Lords who ran Parliament were in fear for their lives. So Parliament wised-up and passed a law to stop the practice.

Rosh Hashanah

Sundown this evening starts the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. My best wishes to all of this faith.

If others like me who are not Jews do not know, Jewish holidays usually are rich with meaning and thought well beyond mere symbolism alone. For example, during the days of atonement that come with Rosh Hashanah, the faithful are obliged to ask forgiveness to anyone whom they believe they may have wronged during the past year. I do not expect to receive an apology because I recall no Jew wronging me, either in the past year or at any time before.

A lovely old Jewish woman took the time to tell me about this holiday - and others, including the meaning of each candle on a menorrah that comes with Hanukkah - when I was a freshman in college. From what I learned, I suspect all of us - even atheists - could benefit from celebrating Rosh Hashanah. While you do see me post concerns about Israeli politics (a truly secular matter), you will not find me taking issue with Judaism itself which I believe is quite beautiful and rich. Every personal experience I have had with it among friends, teachers, and so on has done nothing but enrich my life and further my knowledge and understanding, not just of the Jewish faith but of humankind and life itself.

And on a similar note, to my Wiccan and pagan friends - or just plain naturalists - a joyous vernal equinox (aka "fall" or autumn) which arrives at 12:03 AM tonight (technically, the first moments of Saturday).



Every night, I say a little prayer that the Bush years are just a nightmare from eating pistachios as a complete meal.

But every morning, I wake up to...

aw shit

Bush Vs. Reality (Guess Which Wins?)

From Dan Froomkin blogging at WaPo:

On the dominant issue of our time, the president is in denial.

By most reliable accounts, three and a half years into the U.S. occupation, Iraq is in chaos -- if not in a state of civil war, then awfully close. But President Bush insists it's not so.

He says the people he talks to assure him that the press coverage about how bad things are in Iraq is not to be trusted.

You might think that the enormous gulf between Bush's perceptions and reality on such a life-and-death topic would be, well, newsworthy. But if members of the Washington press corps consider it news at all, apparently it's old news. They report Bush's assertions about Iraq without noting that his fundamental assessment of the situation is dramatically contradicted by the reporting from their own colleagues on the ground.

And in the rare circumstances when they directly confront the president with observations that conflict with his own, they let it drop too quickly.

Case in point, Wolf Blitzer's lackluster interview with the president on CNN yesterday. (Here's the transcript ; here's some video .)

"BLITZER: I'll read to you what Kofi Annan said on Monday. He said, 'If current patterns of alienation and violence persist much further, there is a grave danger the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of a full-scale civil war.' Is this what the American people bought into?
"BUSH: You know, it's interesting you quoted Kofi. I'd rather quote the people on the ground who are very close to the situation, and who live it day by day, our ambassador [Zalmay Khalizad] or General [George] Casey [the top U.S. military official in Iraq]. I ask this question all the time, tell me what it's like there, and this notion that we're in civil war is just not true according to them. These are the people that live the issue. . . .

"The Iraqi government and the Iraqi military is committed to keeping this country together. And so therefore, I reject the notion that this country is in civil war based upon experts, not based upon people who are speculating. . . .

"That's how I learn it. I can't learn it -- I can't -- frankly, can't learn it from your newscasts. What I have got to learn it from is people who are there on the ground."
I'm sorry. Mr. Bush hasn't learned a damned thing since... hell, I don't know how long. But it sure as hell hasn't happened once since he took (and I do mean took office.

And trust me, I do MEAN sorry.

Must-Read David S. Broder: "Independence Days"

Probably the best information I've gotten off Chris Matthews' MSNBC LardassHardball all year was to read this (Thursday) article by David S. Broder who cuts through a lot of happy horseshit and you should read it all:

American politics reached a critical turn last week. The revolt of several Republican senators against President Bush's insistence on a free hand in treating terrorist detainees signaled the emergence of an independent force in elections and government.

This movement is not new, but the moral scale of the issue -- torture -- and the implications for both constitutional and international law give it an epic dimension, even if it is ultimately settled by compromise.

The senators involved -- John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John Warner -- were also instrumental in forming the "Gang of 14," the bipartisan bloc that seized control of the Senate last year and wrote the compromise that prevented a drastic change in the filibuster rule that otherwise would have triggered a bitter partisan divide.

These are not ordinary men. McCain, from Arizona, is probably the leading candidate for the 2008 presidential nomination. Graham, from South Carolina, is the star among the younger Republican senators. Warner, from Virginia, embodies the essence of traditional Reagan conservatism: patriotism, support for the military, civility.

They were joined in their opposition to Bush's call for extraordinary interrogation techniques by Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is still, despite the controversies over his role in Iraq policy, one of the most admired Americans.

That these Republicans -- and others -- were ready to join the Democrats in rejecting Bush's plan caused the White House to scramble for alternatives and House Republican leaders to postpone a scheduled vote. The revolt goes well beyond three men.

What it really signals is a new movement in this country -- what you could rightly call the independence party. Its unifying theme can be found in the Declaration of Independence's language when Jefferson invoked "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."

When Powell wrote that Bush's demand would compound the world's "doubt [about] the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," he was appealing to Jefferson's standard.

It is a standard this administration has flagrantly rejected. Bush was elected twice, over Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry, whose know-it-all arrogance rankled Midwesterners such as myself. The country thought Bush was a pleasant, down-to-earth guy who would not rock the boat. Instead, swayed by some inner impulse or the influence of Dick Cheney, he has proved to be lawless and reckless. He started a war he cannot finish, drove the government into debt and repeatedly defied the Constitution.

Now, however, you can see the independence party forming -- on both sides of the aisle. They are mobilizing to resist not only Bush but also the extremist elements in American society -- the vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left and the doctrinaire religious extremists on the right who would convert their faith into a whipping post for their opponents.
The center is beginning to fight back.

Wal-Mart's Cheap Drug Trick

What I am afraid the Wal-Mart announcement on cheap drugs will do is simply kill all competition and send you to a store which knowingly and happily lets its pharmacists decides which drugs they morally feel you should have while destroying every other pharmacy in the nation.

The $4 price they tout is probably for a very, very, very limited number of drugs, too. And where does this help the majority of Wal-Mart workers who CANNOT afford any health care except through welfare because Wal-Mart won't take care of their own employees to make the Walton family richer.

I sadly buy a lot of prescription drugs. But even though I can already save money buying at the local Wal-Mart pharmacy, I won't go.

Say Hello to

Vermont Woman, with a nod to Odum of Green Mountain Daily for a point to a publication I knew not about (if there's a Vermont Man, I haven't heard of it).

Specifically, Odum was pointing to an interview with former Vt National Guard leader Martha Rainville who could very well win Bernie Sanders' House of Representatives' seat unless Pete Welch pulls farther ahead.

Sorry Martha: you aren't the worst of the worst, but you keep talking about a change in Washington when:

  1. I don't think having another military person in DC is any change. I want LESS military in Washington and certainly less military in government.
  2. Your ideas are recycled, like the Vermont health care initiative.
  3. I can't help but think that for you to get to the post you held before you ran for office, you did a lot of things I probably cannot respect.

I Don't Buy George Allen's Story About His Sudden Loving Embrace of His Jewish Mother and Grandparents

Y'know, I can't think for the life of me why it's always such a huge shock to people that they have Jewish lineage. It shouldn't be. I would think it's every bit as much to be proud about as anything else. Hell, I'll trade one of my two US Supreme Court justice ancestors or the ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence for an Einstein, a Noam Chomsky, or the endless other distinguished Jews (including those whom I know today).

But I'm sorry, Washington Post story about his mommy aside, I do NOT buy Allen's story about suddenly, at his age, sitting down and having this oh so heartwarming talk about his silly-named grandparents who - oops, were Jews - and how he (wipe a tear) loves his mommy anyway.

Virginia? If you haven't figured it out yet, George Allen is one hell of a big macaca that needs to get flushed ASAP. Find a very large toilet. Pick him up by his Hair Club for Men hair plugs. Drop Allen in and flush him down.

Then elect a human senator, s'ok?

Bernie Sanders, the Arcade Game

I was going to post something about this (Bernie, the Arcade Game), but odum at Green Mountain Daily beat me, proving one picture does speak a... well, I'm not sure it's a full thousand words but it's more than I'm gonna type here, kidderoos.

Men? You Won't Forget The Date of Your Anniversary Ever Again

Not if your wife buys you this new "anniversary" reminder ring which "alerts" you when the date approaches.

Yeah, well, if you think this is bad, wait till you see the cock ring they have in development to cut off all blood supply to your penis should you come within striking distance of another female.

Never Again

Now, while world leaders are still assembled, go to SafeDarfur.org to send a message to them to stop the death and misery in Darfur.

Take the moment.

What? The Bible On Your Cell Phone?

That's what this story says: the virtual and ultimately "handy" Bible right on your cell phone.

However, the article does NOT indicate whether the Rapture is available as a ringtone OR whether, if you're late paying your cell bill, they send the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to get you out of the Moneylenders' temple.


Sing it, baaaa-aaaa-bies!!!

I don't care if it rains or freezes
long's I got my virtual Jesus
ridin' in the Flash mem of my cell
I can talk a hundred miles an hour
long's I got the almighty power
right in there with my Beyonce MP3

Welcome to Readers Coming From Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) Daily

Nice to have you visit.

For others who wonder what I'm talking about, CJR Daily gave me a surprising note regarding the Chavez-Bush-Devil-sulphur comments (as you might imagine given my journalism background, I visit them a lot):

At the same time, some left-leaning bloggers seemed saddened by their belief that Chavez's comments contained more than a nugget of truth.
    "What hurt yesterday was how many and how loudly attendees at the UN laughed when Chavez said this," Cut to the Chase remarks. "Not the kind of laugh where they thought Chavez was a little bonkers, but the kind of laugh that tells you, 'Oh, look! Someone finally said the truth, if colorfully!'"

Bush Can Say Whatever, But God Forbid Anyone Else

The whining going on, especially from the far right in the media and on the blogs, about the criticism leveled at President Bush on the floor of the UN General Assembly just strikes me as enormously blind considering Bush's own behavior and love to oversimplify and demonize people.

First, we keep hearing, "How dare Chavez call Bush the devil on American soil?"

Well, the U.S. - specifically, lower Manhattan in the shadow of the ghosts from the twin towers that fell on 9-11-01 - does house the United Nations. I believe the U.S. pretty much insisted on having the U.N. on its soil when it was started. So yeah, the Bush criticisms have taken place by foreign leaders on American soil.

But within the U.N. itself, this is not an American stage - except that we try to bully the U.N. at every turn.

Second, there's an issue of context. You can't look at what Chavez and Ahmadinejad have said without examining what Bush has done.

Bush has used this very same U.N. stage to entreat the world to join his war on terror which has done nothing but terrorize the entire world, to demonize whole nations and/or specific other national leaders, and to lie expressly (either directly or through his agents like Colin Powell and John Bolton and John Negroponte, to name but a few) for the purpose of trying to force the rest of the world into its actions in Iraq.

Remember Axis of Evil? Remember all the "crusade" talk that made it sound like American Christians were about to ride in and slay Islam?

And no, I won't even give time to Rush Limbaugh's insistence that "Hollywood" types like Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover as well as progressives and columnists like Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd are the ones who "benefit" from everyone dumping on Bush.

The Look On McCain's Face

Did anyone catch Sen. John McCain's face as he said, with completely flat affect, come out on the agreement between Republican senators and the White House to permit torture of "terror suspects"?

The dead look in his eyes, the flat affect, tell you he did not believe what he was saying when he told the American public that this agreement "preserves the basic integrity of the Geneva Conventions."

This is just another reason why McCain can never be allowed near the presidency. Fortunately - oddly enough - most of the far right would agree.

So McCain, Warner, and Graham Just Caved to the "Torture" of Frist, Rove, and the White House

I am disgusted that Senators Warner, Graham, and McCain (way to go, Johnny - let Bush get farther with torture than you ever endured, eh?) for caving to White House pressure to allow torture and rewrite the Geneva Conventions (how does ONE signatory to the Geneva Conventions get to rewrite them?).

No, the exact wording is not yet released, but it's pretty clear that these three men caved almost as soon as they were summoned into Frist's office with Rove, Stephen Hadley and others. So if your son or daughter gets captured and tortured, please remember whom to "thank".

If You Thought The Washington Times Was Nasty Before

From Max Blumenthal writing in The Nation:

These are edgy times at the Washington Times.

Still one of the most important right-wing organs in the nation, the paper has a circulation base of around 100,000. According to a source close to senior management, in the past two decades it has burned through far more than the $1.7 billion previously reported. During that time its editorial stance has consistently leaned to the hard right, as its favorite targets have ranged from liberal comsymps to President Bill Clinton to, most recently, "illegal aliens" and their allies in the "open borders lobby." Throughout, the Times has served as a major key on the conservative movement's Mighty Wurlitzer.

A nasty succession battle is now heating up at the paper, punctuated by allegations of racism, sexism and unprofessional conduct, that has implications far beyond its fractious newsroom. According to several reliable inside sources, Preston Moon, the youngest son of Korean Unification Church leader and Times financier Sun Myung Moon, has initiated a search committee to find a replacement for editor in chief Wesley Pruden--a replacement who is not Pruden's handpicked successor, managing editor Francis Coombs.

CDC Recommends Routine AIDS Testing For Every American Starting At Age 13

I was shocked at first when I heard that the Centers for Disease Control have today recommended that every American get an AIDS test as part of any routine medical exam starting at age 13. But I think it makes sense.

My first AIDS test came not because of risky sex but because of an accidental used needle stick where the needle was used on a man with Karposi's sarcoma which - in circa 1984 - was only beginning to be associated with the AIDS virus (I worked in hospital admin in my early 20s which is how I inadvertently got exposed. Later, when the patient was sent to a larger hospital and diagnosed with full blown AIDS, I immediately sought testing.

I've continued to be tested because while I am long past the risk from that needle stick and I operate "safely", I certainly never want to pass something on to anyone else. Not just through sex, of course; I have a relatively rare blood type, and used to donate blood frequently. For a long time, blood banks were not testing for AIDS and only slowly began to ask if donors had risks.

Interestingly, I've read that AIDS is up in senior citizens along with other sexually transmitted diseases. Know why some say this is happening? Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra, allowing men over 65 to remain "tomcats" far longer. Guess it's never too late for sex or STDs.

So for those of you who cringe at the idea of your first test, don't. It's just like any other blood test, the likelihood for HIV is quite low (unless you take unnecessary risks, which include unsafe sex and dirty needles), and it just makes sense.

"When The Time's Right", Bush Says He'll Go After Osama bin Laden

This is what he told Wolf Blitzer of CNN, despite the whole Pakistan, hands-off the area where Osama is supposedly hiding deal.

When the time is right? More than five full years ago, we were told Mr. Bush was going to get him.

If not then, and not now, when?

Say Hello To...

Another iteration of Buzzflash, this one Buzzflash.org where you may both read and comment.

Chavez Calls Bush "The Devil" on UN General Assembly Floor

There has been much outrage expressed because Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez appeared before the UN GA yesterday and, standing at the podium where Bush had stood the day before, called Bush "the devil" and said he still smelled the sulphur.

For me, however, it was not Chavez's words that hurt because Chavez is entitled to his opinion, even if it broke rules of decorum. I happen to remember too that Mr. Bush tried at least once to force a coup in Venezuela to unseat Chavez.

No, what hurt yesterday was how many and how loudly attendees at the U.N. laughed when Chavez said this. Not the kind of laugh where they thought Chavez was a little bonkers, but the kind of laugh that tells you, "Oh, look! Someone finally said the truth, if colorfully!"

Mind you, this winter, ironically it will be Mr. Chavez who will do more for lower income Americans than Mr. Bush will: Chavez is already committed to delivering huge volumes of 40% below wholesale low cost home heating fuel to a record number of parts of the country, including New York City. Many of those who benefit will be families of service men and women now overstretched and underpaid in Bush's wars.

Think what you want of Chavez, but it's clear where Mr. Bush's agenda lies... and it is NOT with the American people, not with its Armed Forces, and not with the best interests of the world. That he has come to symbolize someone who can earn wide derision at the U.N. is not good for any of us.

Almost 7,000 Civilian Deaths Reported in Iraq in Less Than Two Months?

Mind you, we know from Iraq that the reported deaths probably represent a fraction (granted, likely a large one but still does not likely count hundreds in less organized or communicative areas) of the whole. But 6,599 reported deaths are what we admit.

Yet all we get from our government is military press releases insisting deaths will be sharply reduced (which then turned out to be because they were not going to report deaths from car bombs and other dramatic acts of insurgency), and the blather of "Stay the course."

If your car has been careening down an icy mountain pass for a bit now, wouldn't you assume you're not in control of your car and you need to do something different so you don't like - you know - (fucking) die?

So why are we doing this to Iraq?


Senators Seek to Declassify Iraq Report

I support this measure by senators seeking to declassify so-called "secret" Iraq information that could probably tell us more truth about Iraq than we've been getting anywhere else (except in media outside the U.S. or Great Britain - and with Tony Blair still leading it, I'm not sure what's so great with Britain).

Bad, Bad Bottle Blondes, Part Duh

It's really hard to figure out which is worse here:

Nancy Grace who is still trying to raise her ratings on the suicide of Melinda Duckette who committed suicide soon after Amazingly Graceless (who makes a vicious, tortured pitbull seem kind) interrogated her and made it clear this young mother was her prime suspect in the disappearance of Duckette's two-year-old son Trenton.

Unfortunately, Trenton still has not been found and now that his mother is dead, authorities cannot use whatever Duckette may have known to help find him.

There is also Anna Nicole Smith who has raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars for "last pictures" of her son alive before his mysterious death in Bermuda.

On a Lighter - Certainly Bleached Blonder - Note (Or Two)

Note to folks still so outraged about the arrest of Duane "The Dog" Chapman, the bounty hunter:

Chapman was not arrested because - at least this last time - he caught the Revlon heir Andrew Luster. He was arrested because he posted bond in Mexico when he was arrested for "kidnapping" and then failed to return to Mexico for his court appearance.

Mr. Chapman, I hear, should know the drill since he collects big bucks and much fame for "catching" bond jumpers here in the U.S. - fame he really didn't have much before he "caught" the Luster case. Chapman went to Mexico knowing that he had no authority to "take" someone in Mexico.

You can rail that it's wrong, but Chapman above all knows the risk for jumping bond and failing to appear.

White House: House GOP Keeps Voting Til They Get it Right - White House Right

How the White House kept sending Republicans back to vote for torture and weakened humanity until they got what they wanted.

When One UFO Orbits Atlantis, Postpone Shuttle Return; When We Reach Five UFOs, Send Atlantis Home?

Did you catch this today?

When only one piece of unidentified "crap" was found floating around the space shuttle Atlantis, NASA (quite rightly, I would think), postponed the shuttle's return. Now that we're up to five - and not all so small - it's fine for them to return, NASA says.

Why is it I would never trust my government to supply me with a safe trip anywhere?

When You Take the Pledge of Allegiance, Take the Whole Pledge

Buzzflash points us to Gerald Plessner's where he suggests that when we take the pledge, we do more than pick and choose the phrases we like while we ignore all the rest:

I pledge allegiance to the flag,
Of the United States of America,
And to the Republic for which it stands,
One nation under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.

Too many Americans take more seriously their obligation of "allegiance to the flag" rather than their commitment to "liberty and justice for all."

The American flag is a wonderful and engaging symbol. Every child learns the lessons of our colonial past and the miracle of our nation's success through our flag.

As it has evolved over 225 years, our flag has held fast to thirteen stripes paying tribute to our founding colonies. And as America has grown, the flag's accumulation of additional stars has been a symbol of our nation's growth, providing a better life for all its peoples and the inclusion of those who come to America.

The symbolism of the flag's stars make it easy for our children to understand and our adults to admire. But as beautiful as it is, our flag is still but a symbol of a greater truth, American's obligation to guarantee "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to all.

Our national commitment to our founding principles is encapsulated in the Pledge's final phrase, "with liberty and justice for all". It commands us to defend the goals of our Declaration of Independence to promote "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", calling upon every American to defend our Founders' dream of a fair, honest, honorable and egalitarian democracy embodied in our Constitution and reaffirmed in our Bill of Rights.

Maureen Dowd: Hostage to Iran Again?

For the rest, read here:

It was galling to be lectured on ethics, truth, justice, virtue and respect for human rights by a Holocaust-denying, Iraq-meddling, American-hating pipsqueak. A guy who showed up to address the United Nations without bothering to wear a tie, so casual in a disco-looking cream suit and open-necked pink shirt he looked like he would kick back later in Chelsea.

If President Bush was bland, oblique and condescending in his U.N. remarks, bypassing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak directly to the people of Iran, the Iranian leader was more blunt — referring to America and Britain disdainfully as “the occupiers.” “Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood,” he said.

Iranian leaders love nothing more than taunting American presidents, as we learned when Jimmy Carter was emasculated during the hostage crisis. And so it was with Mr. Ahmadinejad, who took W. and Dick Cheney’s refrain about how Republicans are needed to stiffen America’s will and threw it back at them.

“There is no indication,’’ he needled, “that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability.”

All day the White House team went through gyrations not to run into the Iranian leader, fearful to be caught in the same frame, perhaps haunted by memories of that picture of a smiling Rummy shaking Saddam’s hand in 1983. It seemed a little silly, given what a tough guy W. acts like. If he ran into the punk, he could have just told him to quit processing uranium, and moved on. Bush aides assured reporters with asperity that they were not studying the Iranian president’s route or bathroom schedule, that such a fixation would only build up a foe they were trying to cut down to size.

But it’s a little late for that, with Mr. Ahmadinejad staring from the cover of Time with a story on “What War With Iran Would Look Like,” and with Senator George Voinovich calling him “Ah-mad-in-a-head’’ and “a Hitler type of person’’ at a Senate committee hearing yesterday. (Can’t pols just have little Post-its on their microphones reminding them not to compare anything to the Nazis?)

Mr. Bush played down Osama for five years, while he focused on Iraq. But his ill-fated detour into Baghdad just ended up magnifying another enemy and giving Mr. Ahmadinejad a huge strategic opportunity to stoke the growing fundamentalist and radical Shiite surge unleashed by the bungled occupation. Because W. blew off diplomacy with Iraq, he is now hostage to diplomacy with Iran.

The Iranian president sounded more scornful of the U.N. than Mr. Cheney does. “If the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom, who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the U.N. can take them to account?’’ he said, complaining that they “arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner.”

With their usual cultural tone-deafness, W. and Vice failed to appreciate the shrewdness of the nemesis they won’t talk to, and continued to arrogantly act as though everything were going along great in their clash of civilizations.

W. went through a gauzy litany of progress on democratizing the Middle East, and speaking to auto dealers yesterday morning, Vice applied a Harry Truman phrase about the cold war, calling the war against terrorists a “war of nerves.”

Vice said this is “a test of our character,’’ and then went on to defend all the administration’s attempts to put itself above the law on the wiretapping, torture and detention programs that have undermined America’s moral repute in the world.

John McCain seems untroubled with those who say that his stand on torture might hurt him with the Republican base in 2008. After making nice with his former rival, W., for so long, the war hero probably enjoys getting in National Guard boy’s face a little on an issue of principle.

W. has now put so many bad actors in the terror stew — some of whom hate each other — and has justified so many sketchy programs under the war-on-terror rubric, that the word “terror” is losing all meaning and just becoming a marketing slogan. Even the Republican columnist Peggy Noonan says that W. can be “a historical drama queen.”
Gee, maybe we can manufacture a new "hostage" crisis so a latter day Ronald Reagan can make nasty deals behind the scenes to "release" them just before the 2008 presidential vote.

Cynical? Nah, just historical.

Jeff Gannon Fired (Again?) For Imitating a Journalist?

Media Bistro - a media information service to which I subscribe - reports that the Washington Blade has "parted ways" with GOP mock-u-journalist Jeff Gannon (aka J.D. Guckert, aka Military Stud for Hire).

Uh... how did The Blade confuse him with a journalist? Or hell, consider him human?

A Personal Statement on My Own Experience With Torture

I will not pretend for a moment that I can know what it is like to be tortured by consummate terror professionals. But I can speak - briefly - about personal experience with torture and what I know it does to "elicit the truth".

My mother - posthumously, I was told by several shrinks that she was schizophrenic but whether she was or was not, I cannot say - had come herself from a most difficult life when she was widowed, at age 40, with still small children at home including myself who was four. This itself is sadly not so unusual. What came soon after, however, I'm told is more rare.

As a child, my mother placed a very high value on complete obedience and on "truth" (although, if she was indeed a schizophrenic, there's an explanation for why the truth was never satisfactory). As early as four, I recall my mother chasing us around the home with sharp implements (chef's knives, big meat forks) to get us to "confess" some transgression. I recall my head stuck in toilets and full bath tubs, my head pushed through a wall, forced to eat feces, handed a gun and told to either shoot a family cat or myself (I did neither), have Mom goad my younger brother to beat me up (which he continued to do after she died) and many other physical abuses to get the truth on subjects that a child between 4 and 10 is likely not going to express as clearly as an adult. I almost never got spanked.

Having been nearly drowned many times by a woman who was supposed to love me (and I believe did in her capacity) while she screamed for me to confess for something I either had never done or had not done in the manner in which she perceived it, I can tell you that sometimes, you just give up and say what you're expected to say.

You search for the appeasing answer rather than the true one ("I don't know" - "Why are you doing this since I don't know what you're talking about?") just to be able to breathe once more or to stop having your head slammed so harshly that you wonder if you will become brain damaged. (And, oddly enough, I'll tell you I prefered toilet "waterboarding" to the psychological abuse my mother mastered later.)

Of course, after a time, I learned that there was no right answer. If I admitted culpability or promised never to do something again that I had never actually done anyway, I got hurt and if I refused to say, I got hurt. So after awhile, I would just speak the truth (no, I didn't, or "yeah, I did") because I was going to pay for it anyway. I suspect those tortured under Bush and Rumsfeld's orders know this routine all too well.

Later, in high school, an elder classmate of mine, a slight and sweet boy named Peter Reilly (you can still find references about him along with some old movies and books) was "tortured" into giving a confession that he had killed his mother when he had not. He was convicted and then, miraculously, this verdict was set aside and Reilly released. Our prisons contain many Peter Reillys, people who could not stand up to interrogation or the techniques used to elicit confessions.

Even later, I investigated cases where "torture" of one kind or another was used to "get" information. Invariably, what was obtained from such methods just didn't hold up. Former CIA and military experts, among others, tell us this as well.

So I'm sorry. I do not believe that torture "works" to elicit correct information. In my personal experience, and everything I've read from psychological sources as well as military and security experts, torture doesn't "get the job done." It's not a means to an end. All it is, is torture and the complete and utter attempt to "break" another person.

And A Thousand MORE Taliban Fighters Killed

I'm so glad that Mr. Bush has claimed any number of times that all Taliban in Afghanistan are defeated, because it gives such perspective everytime I read a headline like, "NATO forces kill another 1,000 Taliban fighters" and I hear about girls long since forced out of the schools we so loudly touted we made available to them.

Torture: The "Father" of Our Country Refused to Employ It Against the Brits

Mataliandy has a beautiful post up on the subject of torture and the fighter of our first great war, George Washington, at Green Mountain Daily, which I quote liberally (as is my wont) here:

See, the President has spent the last 5 years promoting and ordering torture. Torture is immoral. That's why 194 countries, led by the United States (back in the days when we actually held the moral high ground in the world), cobbled together the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions prevented thousands of our soldiers from torture in the dark days of WWII.

The Geneva Conventions were heralded as a sign of humanity's commitment to true and lasting civilization. It was a commitment to the belief that as humans, we are better than frightened animals; a commitment to the belief that we are better than petty, cruel, murderous barbarians.

The Father of our country, George Washington, did not allow his troops to torture the British. Washington understood something that the stunted adolescents now occupying office in the city that bears his name don't: torture is wrong, inhumane, immoral, and counterproductive.

    "Always some dark spirits wished to visit the same cruelties on the British and Hessians that had been inflicted on American captives.

    But Washington's example carried growing weight, more so than his written orders and prohibitions. He often reminded his men that they were an army of liberty and freedom, and that the rights of humanity for which they were fighting should extend even to their enemies. ... Even in the most urgent moments of the war, these men were concerned about ethical questions in the Revolution."
Now, in the city named after the man who started the uniquely American trend away from petty cruelty and vengence, the current President and his apologists are playing the game of "Pardon Me."
Read my comments on torture next (that's UP).

The House on Torture of Detainees: Feeling the Heat of November's Elections?

The House did not completely roll over for Bush on the much-wanted torture provisions of detainees the Bushies want. That anyone agreed, to me, is just beyond the pale.

Remember, anything we agree as a nation to do to anyone gives permission for your country or another country to do to us.

Thousand Points of Light...

You've got to imagine when George Bush I was babbling on again and again about "a thousand points of light", he was not referring to any of his sons, and particularly not his namesake, Dubya.

3.3 Million Year Old Find of Three-Year-Old Female Ape-Human Mix Found

This finding of a Lucy-species skeleton is fascinating and may ultimately give researchers more information about the jump humans made along the evolutional tree from apes.

Yes, Washington! Yes, Ultra Righters! Yes, Mr. Bush: even YOU are products of evolution.

But, as with anything, not everything - or everyone - evolves at quite the same pace.

Are U.S. Defense Contractors Getting So Rich Off Bush's Wars...

they have to go to Europe and elsewhere to launder money?

GOP Senate Lead Threatens The Dissident Group of Republicans Graham, McCain, and Warner

Bill Frist is such a Bush pussy that an MD demands torture for his president. And I have never called anyone a pussy before (except one of my cats).


Macaca George Allen Now "Embraces" His Jewish Ancestry

Sen. George Allen of Virginia had a problem with embracing his Jewish ancestry before?

What the $%& is wrong with Jewish ancestry? I'll happily trade in at least 20 of my born-again, pray-for-the-rapture relatives

More Corporate Welfare and Bushie Tax Breaks

Yup, the Bushies are giving out more corporate welfare.

Crooks and Liars Asks: Why Doesn't The IRS Investigate James Dobson?

Please, IRS: Why don't you investigate "Dr." Dobson?

I tell you, since I started this blog, I've had the IRS just show up at my house. Seems only fair they visit Dr. Dobson, too..

And Speaking of Vermont's Religious Righter

Here's the link to Blier Watch to keep tabs on what Kevin Blier does.

Vermont Ties to the New Hampshire GOP Dirty Trick Phone Jamming?

From Odum at Green Mountain Daily:

The folks at the controversial blog Blier Watch are back with a splash. It seems the long-elusive missing link between Vermont and the felonious New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, whereby Republicans intentionally jammed the GOTV calls of the Democratic Party (former NH GOP Executive Director Chuck McGee went to prison for it), is - Kevin Blier. According to NH's Union-Leader, Vermont's local Religious Right wannabe-big dog (Blier heads the Center for American Cultural Renewal - you know, Rich Tarrant's crowd) was very much in the know:
    In the FBI interview report (also from the Talking Points Memo Document Collection) the then Executive Director for the NH Republican State Committee, Charles "Chuck" McGee, "believes that he told... Kevin Blier," among others who McGee called his confidants, "about the idea" to jam the phones at NH Democratic Regional Offices for the purpose of disrupting their communications on the forthcoming Election Day (see pgs 4 & 6 of the FBI interview docs).
Skanky. But that these people have ties to Tarrant is sadly no surprise.

Funny.. just got more spam from Rich Tarrant's campaign asking me to help Vermont. But I am. I'm trying to keep Tarrant out of office.

The "Let America Vote" Act

Read all about it at American election central, BradBlog.

Thailand: A Coup, Blogged

Say hello to Thailand: A Coup Blogged.

WNBC-TV Promotes Interview with Iranian President Denying the Holocaust Happens... Yet Does NOT Show That in Its Exclusive Interview

[Ed. note: I know the holocaust happened. I've interviewed one ranking Nazi in Hitler's ranking command, another of much lesser rank (both who admitted freely that people were exterminated in camps in mass volumes), and both spoken with and formally interviewed both survivors and survivors' families. This, however, is about the media distortion of what someone said when they do not show an interview that indeed reports what they said he said.]

Tonight, WNBC-TV - the New York flagship station for the NBC network - spent some time promoting the fact that Iranian president Ahmadinejad had, in an interview with Brian Williams, denied the holocaust ever occurred. They cut quickly from their own report on the UN General Assembly opening and the public remarks of Bush and Ahmadinejad to this Williams' interview.

Strangely, however, this interview never showed Ahmadinejad denying it. He does say (to paraphrase) that 60 million people died in the global experience of World War II and, when pressed by Williams, says that so many people died of so many races and religions, why is there a need to segregate only one group of people as special victims.

Now, I point this out for a couple of reasons. The strongest is the fact that I've seen a huge volume of reports that indicate that the U.S. and British media often assign words to Ahmadinejad that he has not himself uttered - these reports are by translators who say there is something quite wrong in the translations used by publications like The New York Times, to name a few.

I don't happen to speak fluent Iranian. I bet few of you do, either. So it's really hard to say what Ahmadinejad does actually say since he speaks only a few words in English. Personally, at this point, I'd like some kind of independent confirmation of these translations rather than take the government or media's word which means bupkis.

But I can say how badly words ascribed to Ahmadinejad play, not only in the Jewish community but among others, including the Romas (so-called gypsies), and even among someone like me who feels that not only is the Holocaust a most terrible event that we cannot repeat (but sadly, have - we knew about the Jews for a long time before we acted which is UNCONSCIONABLE and yet we probably killed far more millions of civilians in the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo, and the atomic and hydrogen bombings of a Japan we knew was about to fall anyway).

Second is the fact that I'm very concerned that we're doing everything possible to demonize Iran. Israel today claimed Iran was just weeks from a major nuclear program. It's bullshit, but it got attention.

Ted Rall Writes Ann Coulter's Obit

Editor & Publisher has the story about how the cartoonist and blogger was commissioned to write Ann Coulter's obituary.

"Coulter died from injuries sustained on September 11, 2006, when the historic replica of a dirigible in which she was riding exploded over the Hudson River near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan," wrote Rall.

"Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board believe that Coulter initiated the accident when she fired a pistol as she stormed the airship's flight deck in the mistaken belief that its bearded pilot was an Islamic hijacker."

Rall continued: "President Bush awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, for her 'valorous Valkyrie-like vigilance.'" He added, referring to Coulter: "Although privately shy, she struggled against the demons of introversion in thousands of television and lectures before packed, rapt audiences of admirers. 'I'm dreadfully afraid of the limelight,' she once confessed during an interview with Larry King, 'but if not me, who? I have a duty.'

"The lengthy mock-obit runs more than 15 paragraphs.
Lengthy? Anything about Coulter is too long by more than half.

Strange. I don't wish Coulter dead.

No, I want her to live a very long life in the hell of her own making. Stephen King's got nothing on this uber bitch.

While Halliburton CEO Pockets $100 Million in Profits...

...former Halliburton workers testify about the indefensible nature of Halliburton's practices (and war profiteering?)?

OK, Does Pennsylvania Actually Have A Sane Senator?

Or is that like an oxymoron?

And speaking of both insane AND moron, Rick Santorum is blaming the press for his lack of popularity.

Maybe Arlen should be wiretapping "Man on Dog" Ricky.

On The Anniversary of Anthrax

Somewhere out there tonight, likely right here in America, the person or persons who sent those anthrax-laced envelopes and packages in the immediate wake of 9/11 is out there.

But why? Why is he or she still out there?

Why hasn't the government ever identified anyone except someone who seemed rather obviously NOT a serious candidate?

Is this homeland security?

Thailand In State of Emergency After Coup Attempt

I just hope we (meaning America) doesn't have its smudgy little fingerprints all over the situation in Bangkok, Thailand.

At this point, considering what we know of what the Bushies are capable of, how do we dismiss anything?

I mean, if your mother or father or son or daughter is a pathological liar, do you believe what this person - regardless of your deep feelings - tells you? Well, this administration has the market cornered on whatever level of lying actually exceeds pathological.

U.S. General: America Is Fighting In Iran NOW

We've heard this before (months ago)... and I very well believe it may be true. Think Progress reports:

Just now on CNN, Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner (Ret.) said, “We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now. The evidence is overwhelming.”

Gardiner, who taught at the U.S. Army’s National War College, has previously suggested that U.S. forces were already on the ground in Iran. Today he added several additional new points:

1) The House Committee on Emerging Threats recently called on State and Defense Department officials to testify on whether U.S. forces were in Iran. The officials didn’t come to the hearing.
2) “We have learned from Time magazine today that some U.S. naval forces had been alerted for deployment. That is a major step.”
3) “The plan has gone to the White House. That’s not normal planning. When the plan goes to the White House, that means we’ve gone to a different state.”

Say Hello to

The Divided States of Bu$hmeriKa2.

Who's Really Bad for Defense and National Security?

I mentioned Jack McCullough's "Rational Resistance" blog earlier; here's a recent post from him which is part of why I strongly recommend him:

Here are a few of the facts: [Source noted here.]

* Fully two-thirds of the active U.S. Army is officially classified as "not ready for combat."

* The National Guard is "in an even more dire situation than the active Army but both have the same symptoms; I just have a higher fever."

* The Army has almost no nondeployed combat-ready brigades at its disposal.

* The equipment in Iraq is wearing out at four to nine times the normal peacetime rate because of combat losses and harsh operating conditions.

* The total Army--active and reserve--now faces at least a $50 billion equipment shortfall.

* After failing to meet its recruitment target for 2005, the Army raised the maximum age for enlistment from 35 to 40 in January--only to find it necessary to raise it to 42 in June.

* The number of Army recruits who scored below average on its aptitude test doubled in 2005, and the Army has doubled the number of non-high school graduates it can enlist this year.

* Basic training, which has, for decades, been an important tool for testing the mettle of recruits, has increasingly become a rubber-stamping ritual. Through the first six months of 2006, only 7.6 percent of new recruits failed basic training, down from 18.1 percent in May 2005.

* Thousands of white supremacists may have been able to infiltrate the military due to pressure from recruitment shortfalls.

Howard Dean used to point out that the Republicans can't be trusted with our money. Now we know they also can't be trusted to keep our people safe.

U.S. Navy to Prepare to Blockade Iran? Is This Our October Surprise?

Time Magazine appears to be reporting that the U.S. Navy is being told to deploy personnel to prepare for a naval blockade of Iran.

Had a good look at a street in Tehran these days? Birkas are bigger in Iraq (where they were rare before the Bushies landed troops) than in Iran.

Connecticut Religious Leaders Stand Against Torture, Dilution Of The Geneva Convention

From Katrina Vanden Heuvel at The Nation with a note about how fast Joe Lieberman can try to jump sides:

In Connecticut today, a statewide interfaith network of religious leaders--Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice-- working with with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, is calling on the state's Congressional delegation to take a firm stand against weakening the United States' commitment to Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

"Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake," said the Reverend Allie Perry, "not to mention the rule of law."

Senator Joe Lieberman--who might soon join forces with the Decider to serve as his official sidekick, the Moral Equivocator--has seized the opportunity to (somewhat) oppose President Bush's torture proposal. "I think McCain's got it right," said Lieberman. "I think we're probably in agreement in about 90 percent on how we should treat them."

But what Jolting Joe can't cut and run from--as Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith point out in their recent article on The Nation.com--are his votes to strip Guantánamo captives of the right to habeas corpus, and to confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, essentially endorsing Gonzales' infamous torture memo.

Wonderful - I Have An Extra Week to Go Up The Street To Canada Without A Passport

This is so fucking ridiculous. I live a long spit from the Canadian border (and the spit doesn't seem so damned long come those months of the Siberian Express barreling down from Hudson's Bay).

Throughout this area, each and every day, there are Canadian trucks and cars. It's the same on the Canadian cars with U.S. vehicles.

The greater threat comes from two men in Washington: Bush, Cheney.

Robert Greenwald's "Iraq For Sale"

Buy a copy at Iraq for Sale.org.

See how war profiteers are hurting our country, our servicemen and servicewomen, our national security, and how we are seen in the world.

Say Hello to...

fellow Vermont blog, Rational Resistance.

Oh Goody! Did a Part of the Space Shuttle Fall Off?

That seems to be the speculation tonight and will delay the return of Atlantis (oh, good, nothing ever happened to anything named Atlantis).

Every American should be damned proud that the U.S. government sold NASA to outsourcing - oh yes - American corporations (not that they would ever cut corners at the expense of human safety (oh shit - Halliburton nor KBR isn't a NASA outsource, is it?)).

What Torture Gets Us: Innocent People Fighting For Their Lives

This story has always been shameful even before a Canadian court shook its finger at us; that we sent this man, under cover, to Syria to be tortured for no good reason is unconscionable.

Did Israel Attack Companies in Lebanon in Direct Competition With Israeli Firms?

Those were the charges leveled by at least two companies on Democracy Now! today.

Unfortunately, I would not be at all surprised. Unhappy, yes. Surprised, no.

I'm afraid the government running Israel is a little too much like what we have here at home, which means many nasty things get done under an umbrella of happy horseshit. So I would not be surprised if any Lebanese corporations were bombed specifically (in addition to all the random acts of homicide committed outside of known Hezbollah strongholds).

Could Bush Have Sat Any Farther From the French Delegation?

At the press conference I saw, Bush was waaaaaay off on his own right wing (apt somehow) of an inverted L with Chirac and company today.

Chris Graff - Fired Vermont Bureau Chief Leaves Journalism

John Bauer at Green Mountain Daily points us to a press release that tells us where Chris Graff has ended up. As some may recall, Graff got axed for "daring" to do something he'd done before: provide information from Sen. Patrick Leahy on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, also called the Sunshine Act).

If there's anything this administration doesn't like more than true information, it's.... geez, I'm not sure what.


Frank Rich: "The Longer The War, The Larger The Lies"

Excellent Frank Rich; snippet but go here to read the rest:

RARELY has a television network presented a more perfectly matched double feature. President Bush’s 9/11 address on Monday night interrupted ABC’s “Path to 9/11” so seamlessly that a single network disclaimer served them both: “For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.”

No kidding: “The Path to 9/11” was false from the opening scene, when it put Mohamed Atta both in the wrong airport (Boston instead of Portland, Me.) and on the wrong airline (American instead of USAirways). It took Mr. Bush but a few paragraphs to warm up to his first fictionalization for dramatic purposes: his renewed pledge that “we would not distinguish between the terrorists and those who harbor or support them.” Only days earlier the White House sat idly by while our ally Pakistan surrendered to Islamic militants in its northwest frontier, signing a “truce” and releasing Al Qaeda prisoners. Not only will Pakistan continue to harbor terrorists, Osama bin Laden probably among them, but it will do so without a peep from Mr. Bush.

You’d think that after having been caught concocting the scenario that took the nation to war in Iraq, the White House would mind the facts now. But this administration understands our culture all too well. This is a country where a cable news network (MSNBC) offers in-depth journalism about one of its anchors (Tucker Carlson) losing a prime-time dance contest and where conspiracy nuts have created a cottage industry of books and DVD’s by arguing that hijacked jets did not cause 9/11 and that the 9/11 commission was a cover-up. (The fictionalized “Path to 9/11,” supposedly based on the commission’s report, only advanced the nuts’ case.) If you’re a White House stuck in a quagmire in an election year, what’s the percentage in starting to tell the truth now? It’s better to game the system.
The untruths are flying so fast that untangling them can be a full-time job. Maybe that’s why I am beginning to find Dick Cheney almost refreshing. As we saw on “Meet the Press” last Sunday, these days he helpfully signals when he’s about to lie. One dead giveaway is the word context, as in “the context in which I made that statement last year.” The vice president invoked “context” to try to explain away both his bogus predictions: that Americans would be greeted as liberators in Iraq and that the insurgency (some 15 months ago) was in its “last throes.”

The other instant tip-off to a Cheney lie is any variation on the phrase “I haven’t read the story.” He told Tim Russert he hadn’t read The Washington Post’s front-page report that the bin Laden trail had gone “stone cold” or the new Senate Intelligence Committee report(PDF) contradicting the White House’s prewar hype about nonexistent links between Al Qaeda and Saddam. Nor had he read a Times front-page article about his declining clout. Or the finding by Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency just before the war that there was “no evidence of resumed nuclear activities” in Iraq. “I haven’t looked at it; I’d have to go back and look at it again,” he said, however nonsensically.

These verbal tics are so consistent that they amount to truth in packaging — albeit the packaging of evasions and falsehoods. By contrast, Condi Rice’s fictions, also offered in bulk to television viewers to memorialize 9/11, are as knotty as a David Lynch screenplay. Asked by Chris Wallace of Fox News last Sunday if she and the president had ignored prewar “intelligence that contradicted your case,” she refused to give up the ghost: “We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq,” she insisted, as she continued to state again that “there were ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda” before the war.

If Only We Could Run Our Cars and Home Energy On GOP Hot Air

Remember Bush's "tough talk" on America's addiction to oil, and his push for "hydro", thermal and other alternative powers? So why has he stripped their funding?

Thanks to Buzzflash for the pointer.

What Did We Get For Our $130-150 Billion?

There are close to 40,000 companies - most big Bush contributors - with homeland (in)security contracts and - depending on whom you read - $130-150 Billion spent. Yet we're no safer.

Why IS that?

Bob Herbert, Bush, Cheney and "The Kafka Strategy"

Read it here.

With Senator George Allen, the Macaca Just Keeps Getting Deeper and Deeper

Crooks and Liars shows you just how deep the macaca is getting for Sen. George Allen.

Maureen Dowd: "Awake and Scream"

Like the rest of us since he took office, Mr. Bush should "awake and scream", writes Maureen Dowd:

I wish W. would let me help crystallize him.

But, alas, I’m not one of his chosen crystallizers, because he is loath to be exposed to anyone who doesn’t agree with him. He roams the country but never strays from Bushworld, going from military bases to conservative powwows to Republican Hill allies to sworn Bush supporters to sympathetic columnists.

“It helps crystallize my thought to answer your questions,” he told conservative columnists called to the Oval Office this week. But he made it clear that his thoughts were contentedly calcified: “Let me just first tell you that I’ve never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions. I’m oftentimes asked about, well, you’re stubborn and all this. If you believe in a strategy, in Washington, D.C., you’ve got to stick to that strategy, see.”

Aside from Dick Cheney and Rummy, who don’t have all their buttons, we all long for W. to find better strategies on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, pretty much the rest of the world and national security.

He’s facing a rebellion from big shots in his party who don’t want him to rip up the Geneva Conventions. Lindsey Graham calls it a fight over “who America is in 2006.” John McCain, who has been trying so hard to play nice with W. for the sake of his political future, said the president’s plan risks “our moral standing and the lives of those Americans who risk everything to defend our country.”

Colin Powell, his conscience about Iraq clearly stinging, agreed that “the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism” and that undermining the Geneva Conventions “would add to those doubts” and “put our own troops at risk.” (Tony Snow deemed Mr. Powell confused, which is how the Bushies dismiss those who don’t grasp their invisible genius.)

Whenever W. does something legally sketchy and morally ambiguous — from pre-emptive war to spying to torturing — he claims he’s doing it to protect Americans from terrorists. But there’s a more visceral agenda: Vice and Rummy have persuaded W. he will not carry a big stick if bound by Lilliputian legalities, tiresome checks and balances and Kumbaya international conventions. Rather than being alarmed at their battiness, the president naïvely admires what he sees as bravado.

Just as Vice lurked at Langley before the Iraq war, trying to bully reluctant C.I.A. analysts to come up with a Saddam-Osama link, now the White House has maneuvered reluctant J.A.G. lawyers into supporting its dream of undermining justice.

Catching terrorists and protecting Americans can be done without trashing American ideals. This is about throwing off laws to prove that W. is “the Man,” as Vice likes to say, not some wobbly, wavering, multilateral metrosexual.
Read the rest here.

Paul Krugman: [Bush The Torturer] The King of Pain

Paul Krugman on the president's desire to make torture the greatest thing since sliced bread:

Why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?

A lot has been written and said about President Bush’s demand that Congress “clarify” the part of the Geneva Conventions that, in effect, outlaws the use of torture under any circumstances.

We know that the world would see this action as a U.S. repudiation of the rules that bind civilized nations. We also know that an extraordinary lineup of former military and intelligence leaders, including Colin Powell, have spoken out against the Bush plan, warning that it would further damage America’s faltering moral standing, and end up endangering U.S. troops.

But I haven’t seen much discussion of the underlying question: why is Mr. Bush so determined to engage in torture?

Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. According to an ABC News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators have included forcing prisoners to “stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours”; the “cold cell,” in which prisoners are forced “to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees,” while being doused with cold water; and, of course, water boarding, in which “the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet,” then “cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him,” inducing “a terrifying fear of drowning.”

And bear in mind that the “few bad apples” excuse doesn’t apply; these were officially approved tactics — and Mr. Bush wants at least some of these tactics to remain in use.

I’m ashamed that my government does this sort of thing. I’d be ashamed even if I were sure that only genuine terrorists were being tortured — and I’m not. Remember that the Bush administration has imprisoned a number of innocent men at Guantánamo, and in some cases continues to imprison them even though it knows they are innocent.

Is torture a necessary evil in a post-9/11 world? No. People with actual knowledge of intelligence work tell us that reality isn’t like TV dramas, in which the good guys have to torture the bad guy to find out where he planted the ticking time bomb.
Read the rest here.

Why Is Arlen Specter Lying About His Own "Monitor All Americans' Phone Calls" Bill

Glenn Greenwald shows you exactly how Specter is lying about the bill to legalize the NSA wiretapping on domestic phone calls of American citizens charged or suspected of NO crime just to make the Bushies happy.

The Hallmark of the Bush Administration is Public Distrust

Hey, the Bushies accomplished something anyway: a few Americans are a little less complacent, a bit more questioning. From the Contra Costa Times:

THE NATION'S foremost 9/11 conspiracy theorist was on "Meet the Press" last week. And we all thought conspiracy theorists got no face time in mainstream media.
Well, it helps when you are vice president of the United States.

That would be Dick Cheney. Next possibly to Fox News, he's the chief agent behind the belief held by so many, including many in our fighting forces, that we attacked Iraq because it had something to do with 9/11.

Months after President Bush said that it wasn't so, a Senate Intelligence Committee report said it again this month. Saddam Hussein not only detested al-Qaida but apparently tried to capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Pressed about this by NBC's Tim Russert, Cheney said he hadn't read the report. That's amazing. Then again, it's not.

When I mentioned 9/11 conspiracy theorists, you thought first about people who believe that the U.S. government was behind 9/11 or did nothing to prevent it.

These individuals are dismissed as kooks and crazies. But those who send young men and women off to war based on politically calculated leaps of reasoning get treated with deference and motorcades.
Read the rest here.

Wow! Newsflash: Willie Nelson Found With Marijuana!

Forget the terrorists! Forget all the violent crimes.

Police in Louisiana have stopped Willie Nelson's tour van (with five musicians aboard, all over the age of 50 and some, like Nelson, in their 70s) and found a cache of more than a pound of pot and a supply of psilocybin mushrooms (I'm more of a portobello or shiitake person myself; if I want altered consciousness, I watch a Bush or Cheney talk).

America can rest better tonight.

Letterman on Bush and Rove

"Tomorrow night on Ventriloquist Week, we'll have Karl Rove and George W. Bush."

Y'know, it would be interesting to see if Bush can still talk while Rove is being waterboarded...er... drinking water.

This "No Fresh Spinach" Nutcase

Now, I won't tell you to eat your spinach... although I'll certainly eat mine.

And I'll tell you why.

It matters very much WHERE and from WHOM you get your fresh spinach.

Many more commercial farmers - for reasons that are almost entirely economic - are spreading raw sewage on their fields. Now... I'm not saying any of the so-called "organic" farmers selling to Wal-Mart would do this. ::cough::cough:: But you can damned straight imagine some corporate farms do. Again, I'm not saying a place like Dole would do this, but then, I would never eat anything that came from a company that did to Hawaii what Dole did.

But I suspect that if you shop outside a big place like Wal-Mart in a store that deals directly with its providers (and not faceless middlemen), the farmers, you can each your spinach quite safely. A true farmer - organic or not - knows that you cannot spread shit on your family's survival and ... you know, survive.

Cynthia Tucker: Bush's Foreign Policy Based on American Hunger for Oil

Quite the elephant in the room.

As You May Have Noticed... Or Not...

Many of the sites who bravely supplied at least some of the text of New York Times columnists such as Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and Bob Herbert - strangely far more popular than John Tierney or David "Babbling" Brooks - have been identified and told to cease and desist.

This is understandable. The Times put all its braver voices behind a subscription wall and they want people to purchase the "Select" subscription service. Also, it can be very difficult to get a letter from counsel for an organization like The Times and think you can stand up to Goliath (a David did it once, but it sure wasn't David Brooks ::smirk::smirk::).

Yet, as often happens in cyberspace, where one stops, another begins. This too is understandable.

An Arizona Resident Says No to Bush, No to McCain

Formerly a frequent supporter of Republicans, this Arizonian will NOT vote for Bush's people or for Sen. John McCain. I've read that Arizona may vote far more blue than ever before.

Goodnight, Patricia Kennedy Lawford

In the Kennedy tradition, the children of Joseph Kennedy Sr. (not such a good man) contributed usually more to this country than they took.

Good night, Mrs. Lawford. Thank you.

Text From Olbermann's Special Comment Sept. 19th on Bush

Here's the text from the afore-referenced video from Keith Olbermann at Countdown at MSNBC on Bush's insistence that "It is unacceptable to think..." that Bush cannot do any damned thing he wants, at any damned time, in any damned way, and no matter how badly it abuses the U.S. Constitution, the principles on which this great nation was founded, and regardless of how much it endangers our future.

Bush Owes Us An Apology

The President of the United States owes this country an apology.

It will not be offered, of course.

He does not realize its necessity.

There are now none around him who would tell him or could.

The last of them, it appears, was the very man whose letter provoked the President into the conduct, for which the apology is essential.

An apology is this President's only hope of regaining the slightest measure of confidence, of what has been, for nearly two years, a clear majority of his people.

Not "confidence" in his policies nor in his designs nor even in something as narrowly focused as which vision of torture shall prevail -- his, or that of the man who has sent him into apoplexy, Colin Powell.

In a larger sense, the President needs to regain our confidence, that he has some basic understanding of what this country represents -- of what it must maintain if we are to defeat not only terrorists, but if we are also to defeat what is ever more increasingly apparent, as an attempt to re-define the way we live here, and what we mean, when we say the word "freedom."

Because it is evident now that, if not its architect, this President intends to be the contractor, for this narrowing of the definition of freedom.

The President revealed this last Friday, as he fairly spat through his teeth, words of unrestrained fury directed at the man who was once the very symbol of his administration, who was once an ambassador from this administration to its critics, as he had once been an ambassador from the military to its critics.

The former Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, had written, simply and candidly and without anger, that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."

This President's response included not merely what is apparently the Presidential equivalent of threatening to hold one's breath, but within it contained one particularly chilling phrase.

Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?

“If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic,” Bush said. “It's just -- I simply can't accept that.

It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and
children to achieve an objective.

Of course it's acceptable to think that there's "any kind of comparison."

And in this particular debate, it is not only acceptable, it is obviously necessary.

Even if Mr. Powell never made the comparison in his letter.

Some will think that our actions at Abu Ghraib, or in Guantanamo, or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, are all too comparable to the actions of the extremists.

Some will think that there is no similarity, or, if there is one, it is to the slightest and most unavoidable of degrees.

What all of us will agree on, is that we have the right -- we have the duty -- to think about the comparison.

And, most importantly, that the other guy, whose opinion about this we cannot fathom, has exactly the same right as we do: to think -- and say -- what his mind and his heart and his conscience tell him, is right.

All of us agree about that.

Except, it seems, this President.

With increasing rage, he and his administration have begun to tell us, we are not permitted to disagree with them, that we cannot be right. That Colin Powell cannot be right.

And then there was that one, most awful phrase.

In four simple words last Friday, the President brought into sharp focus what has been only vaguely clear these past five-and-a-half years - the way the terrain at night is perceptible only during an angry flash of lightning, and then, a second later, all again is dark.

“It's unacceptable to think," he said.

It is never unacceptable to think.

And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context, he takes us toward a new and fearful path -- one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries.

That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think.

Thus the lightning flash reveals not merely a President we have already seen, the one who believes he has a monopoly on current truth.

It now shows us a President who has decided that of all our commanders-in-chief, ever, he alone has had the knowledge necessary to alter and re-shape our inalienable rights.

This is a frightening, and a dangerous, delusion, Mr. President.

If Mr. Powell's letter -- cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive -- can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance, what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter, or written to you by a colleague?

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush.

They were the words of Thomas Jefferson.

He put them in the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that anti-thetical to the status quo just now?

Would you call it "unacceptable" for Jefferson to think such things, or to write them?

Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued - a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger; that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone who disagrees.
Or what will next be done to them.

On this newscast last Friday night, Constitiutional law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, suggested that at some point in the near future some of the "detainees" transferred from secret CIA cells to Guantanamo, will finally get to tell the Red Cross that they have indeed been tortured.

Thus the debate over the Geneva Conventions, is in fact not about further interrogations of detainees, but about those already conducted, and the possible liability of the administration, for them.

That, certainly, could explain Mr. Bush's fury.

That, at this point, is speculative.

But at least it provides an alternative possibility as to why the President's words were at such variance from the entire history of this country.

For, there needs to be some other explanation, Mr. Bush, than that you truly believe we should live in a United States of America in which a thought is unacceptable.

There needs to be a delegation of responsible leaders -- Republicans or otherwise -- who can sit you down as Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott once sat Richard Nixon down - and explain the reality of the situation you have created.

There needs to be an apology from the President of the United States.

And more than one.

But, Mr. Bush, the others -- for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago -- they are not weighted with the urgency and necessity of this one.

We must know that, to you, thought with which you disagree -- and even voice with which you disagree and even action with which you disagree -- are still sacrosanct to you.

The philosopher Voltaire once insisted to another author, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Since the nation's birth, Mr. Bush, we have misquoted and even embellished that statement, but we have served ourselves well, by subscribing to its essence.

Oddly, there are other words of Voltaire's that are more pertinent still, just now.

"Think for yourselves," he wrote, "and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."
Apologize, sir, for even hinting at an America where a few have that privilege to think and the rest of us get yelled at by the President.

Anything else, Mr. Bush, is truly unacceptable.

"The President Owes Us An Apology"

You can watch the video from Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on Bush's Friday press conference in which he lambasted Former JCS Chairman and his own former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, for his comments to Senator John McCain against Bush's demands for military tribunals the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled illegal.

The text from Olbermann's comments as he answers Bush's charge, "It is unacceptable to think..." is powerful, and I'll post it next.

What? More Than 14,000 "Secret" Detainees in America?

That's what the Associated Press is reporting.

This is antithetical to ALL the United States was founded upon and still says it stands for as an open and brave democracy.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comments On Bush's Statement, "It Is Unacceptable to Think"

I'll post a transcript in a bit, but this - Olbermann's latest Special Comment on Countdown on MSNBC tonight - is the very best response to the president's hateful, wrong press conference on Friday.

"tyrannical tantrums more suited to a three-year-old..."

[emblematic of] "...a White House coming unglued..."

If Your President Must Keep Telling You That You Are At War...

Another time (more rare than you might think - Bill Maher is more a libertarian than a progressive) when I happen to agree with Bill Maher:

"If your president must keep telling you that you are at war, it's a good sign that you are not."



Could not get into Blogger over the weekend; hope to do a round-up of several pieces later today.