While The Bush Twins Party And The Bush Twit Pats Self On Back For "Selling" His Surge...

Saturday was a most deadly day in Iraq, and we're only talking about U.S. soldiers (the civilians are dying at a record pace as well, for even less reason.

But first, here's Bush congratulating himself since he gets endless do-overs (even though he somehow manages never, ever to get anything right):

Bush insisted on Thursday his reworked Iraq strategy could succeed as he worked on a State of the Union speech expected to include a new defense of his much-criticized policy.
And then there's this:
U.S. forces had one of their costliest days in Iraq on Saturday when 21 troops were killed, including 13 in a helicopter and five in a clash in a Shi'ite holy city the U.S. military said was triggered by militiamen.

The battle at a government building in Kerbala was the bloodiest for U.S. troops in the Shi'ite south in two years and occurred as President George W. Bush presses leaders of the Shi'ite majority to crack down on militias from their community.

Hours after reporting three deaths in separate incidents and the loss of all 13 passengers and crew aboard a Blackhawk transport helicopter, the U.S. military said five soldiers were killed and three wounded in the Kerbala clash.

It was the deadliest day for U.S. forces since Bush announced 10 days ago he was sending about 20,000 troops to Iraq to try to prevent sectarian civil war between Shi'ites and the once- dominant Sunni Arab minority. His plans have run into resistance from opposition Democrats who now control Congress.
But hey, I'm glad Barbara and Jenna, the Bush twins, still have the luxury of continuing to party to celebrate their graduation from college... three fucking years ago.

Congratulations On New Position for Christian Beckner

Christian Beckner, the blogger who has been operating Homeland Security Watch (if there is any group that needs watching, it's the Department of Homeland (In)Security!), announced yesterday he will be leaving his blog for a very good reason (the blog looks like it will continue, however): he has joined the Democratic staff of Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), chaired by Sen. Joe Lieberman (well, you can't always choose your boss, y'know).

Good luck to Christian and we look forward to "hearing" from his new blog contributors.

Bill O'Reilly, About To Speak Before Group Supporting Missing and Exploited Children, Suggested Found Missouri Teen Was Having Too Much Fun

This story disgusted me even more than all the other disgusting, pathetic things Fox News boast host, Bill O'Reilly, spews. As usual, he's denied he said this, pretending that the videotape recording was (of course) expertly manipulated by everyone who hates him (like France). Posted on Mirror on America (also read the Media Matters' coverage of it here):

Conservative Spokesman Bill O’Reilly Attacks Missouri Kidnapping victim Shawn Hornbeck. Just when you think this scumbag could not go any lower, he outdoes himself.

Bill O’Reilly stated on his program that Shawn’s “experience in captivity was fun"….and that "he liked it”. According to O’Reilly, Shawn Hornbeck enjoyed being victimized by his captor…. A man who will go down in history as one of the worst child predators of all time.

O'Reilly was asserting that since Hornbeck did not try to get away.... he must have liked it.

I have seen a lot of outrageous things from Bill O’Reilly, but this just goes over the top. This goes way beyond anything that I have seen from this guy before.

Fox News should get rid of this creep or, at the very least, they should make him apologize. However, Fox News is unlikely to take this step because O’Reilly generates high ratings for the company…. and Fox has no moral character whatsoever. By keeping O’Reilly on the network after this, Fox will show a lot of people what they are all about (those who didn’t already know).

This guy is the face of the Republican Party.

[...] It’s clear that he does not know what the hell he is talking about. His profound ignorance is clear in his statements.

[...] I could not let this go without challenging it, and neither should anyone else.

Watch The Video of Bill O'Reilly Making His Sick Comments

Vermont Links of Possible Interest to All

[Ed. note: Cross-posted at our sister Green Mountain blog, Vermont Now & Zen.]

Some interesting bits posted by Brattlerouser at Green Mountain Daily in his weekend link dump:

NEW BALLOT QUESTION CALL FOR NEW INVESTIGATIONS INTO 9-11 ATTACKS: Looks like the city of Burlington will get a chance to vote on a non-bindling resolution calling for new investigations into the attacks on Sepetember 11th, 2001. The Burlington Free Press has the story.

NEAT NEW SITE: For those of you interested in Entergy Vermont Yankee or other issues related to nuclear power in Vermont and elswhere check out Green Nuclear Butterfly. The sister site to Entergy Watch, Green Nuclear Butterfly is an excellent site for news and "quirky" views, anti-nuke sources & organizations, pro-nuclear sources & organizations, Chernobyl, and green suppliers. The guy who runs it is Royce Penstinger and he's not afraid to take on Greenpeace or their views on nuclear power. He invites you to join in the struggle.

A MOST UNLIKELY SUPPORTER FOR IMPEACHMENT: Ever heard of Bruce Fein? Fein served as an associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan Administration, where he helped formulate conservative arguments on key legal issues that are still current today. He had stints as a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He also writes a regular column for The Washington Times newspaper, one of the country's leading conservative dailies. But his bona fides don't end there. He has trashed the Roe v. Wade abortion decision and is on record saying:

    "President George W. Bush should pack the United States Supreme Court with philosophical clones of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas and defeated nominee Robert H. Bork," Washington Lawyer, February 2005
He voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and he applauded the nomination of John Roberts as Bush's "finest hour." He EVEN drafted the arguments for the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton in 1999.

So why the hell would he support investigations into impeachment for Geroge W. Bush? Find out more in this interesting article from The Progressive magazine. A most excellent interview in my book!

Barack Obama: The Right Man To Clean Up White Frat Boy's Huge Messes?

Whatever else has to be true of the next president, he or she will have a completely unprecedented (perhaps in the history of the world) mess to clean up behind Bush, who was so ill equipped to do any aspect of his job (except swaggering) that he kept making new messes to try to distract us from the previous ones.

But African American Political Pundit posting at Mirror on America (strong, good blog from all I read this evening - sorry I didn't find it sooner) makes some smart points about Barack Obama and the presidency that may echo some of the feelings many of us have right now:

I just finished reading a great post by Jack and Jill Politics about Barack Obama -- America's Magical Negro?.

For me Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics hit the issue of Barack Obama right on the head. I've been wondering for some time why I'm not feeling Barack Obama presidency ambitions. There are many reasons. But one of the most important reasons that came to mind after reading her post was, I candidly don't want to see a black man go into the white house to clean up the white man's mess.

For hundreds of years black men have been cleaning up the mess of white men. Is it not time for blacks to say, hey, you made this mess you clean it up? Bush is currently screwing the nation.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Bush has "dug a hole so deep he can't even see the light on this" and calling the buildup "a stark blunder."

Can and should Barack Obama be the clean up man for Bush and his administration? Or, if he is elected, would Obama become America's scapegoat for the failures of Bush, Cheney, Condi and the other neo cons ?

You know how it is in scary movies; the black man always gets killed first. Or is Barack Obama a spook that sat by the door?

Maureen Dowd: "The Ballad of Bushie And Flashy"

Read it all here (danke, Rozius!), but I cut you a generous slice for your immediately, undelayed gratification:

George Bush may have lost his swagger, but Harry Flashman hasn’t.

Maybe the president presiding over a quicksand empire got a vicarious thrill out of the fictional Victorian brigadier general who roamed from Chillianwalla to Isandlwana to Abyssinia at the height of the British Empire, always making conquests in love and war despite his cowardly, caddish behavior.

In our continuing odyssey of discovery through the president’s reading list, we learned that he perused two of George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books, “Flashman at the Charge” and “Flash for Freedom.”

There are those who are skeptical of the president’s souped-up reading list, a result of a book-reading contest with Karl Rove.

“I don’t think he understands the world,” Jay Rockefeller, the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Times’s Mark Mazzetti. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does. Every time he’s read something he tells you about it.”

I just wish W. had read more about the perils of empire before he naïvely dived into one. Mr. Fraser agrees that W. should have read the original “Flashman” before invading Afghanistan. It could have given him invaluable, if politically incorrect, insights that might have helped in the effort to catch Osama at Tora Bora and in the new push to stop the Taliban slouching toward Kandahar.

On a recent visit to Afghanistan, Robert Gates told nervous military commanders that he was open to sending more troops to thwart the Taliban from regrouping. Congressman John McHugh, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan with Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, said that everyone they talked to had warned “that when the snows melt in the mountains, it will bring a new onslaught from Al Qaeda and the Taliban … one that directly threatens not just the Karzai presidency, but threatens Afghanistan itself, and logically, it follows, threatens our investment in blood and treasure.”

“Flashman” is based on a devastating British defeat during one of their wars in Afghanistan. After invading Kabul in 1839 and setting up an unpopular puppet shah, the British trekked through the snowy mountains to Jalalabad. Of more than 16,000 troops and camp followers, only one doctor survived; the rest were picked off in ambushes by Afghan warriors.

The lesson is that Afghanistan is a no man’s land that can’t be tamed by gringos. The British Empire, on which the sun never set, never succeeded in occupying Afghanistan even as it engaged in the Great Game with the Russians for influence there. It was terra incognita and terra fuggedaboutit.“You could never forget that in Afghanistan you are walking a knife-edge the whole time,” Harry Flashman notes, adding that, like himself, the Afghans could be “cruel and bloodthirsty,” turning on you with no warning.

Mr. Fraser echoed those sentiments when I tracked him down at his home on the Isle of Man. “No one has ever succeeded in invading Afghanistan,” the octogenarian who fought in Burma in World War II boomed with a trace of Scottish accent.

“The Afghans are extraordinary fighters, tough and resourceful and cruel, and they know their business inside out,” he said. “On their own territory, they’re unbeatable. They love fighting and dealing with invaders. It’s almost a game to them. The country is Death Valley 10 times over. You see them on television in their robes with their weapons and that’s all. The American and British troops are loaded with rubbishy equipment.

[...] “It wouldn’t do Bush any harm to read Kipling,” he concluded before signing off.
Rest here. Colorful emphasis entirely mine.

How Bush Can Guarantee Himself a BiPartisan Standing Ovation at State Of Union Speech: Say "I Resign!"

Thanks to Caro at Blah3 for pointing this one out, a great cartoon from Mike Luckovich published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

I like! I like! I love!

Dan Froomkin on Bush: No Retreat From (Unconstitutional) Spying

From Froomkin at WaPo on the whole FISA/eavesdropping/domestic wiretap debacle:

On Wednesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote a letter to senators announcing that "any electronic surveillance that was occurring" as part of the administration's controversial warrantless eavesdropping program " will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."

Many observers jumped to the conclusion that the administration had been forced into a major retreat in its battle to expand executive power. (See yesterday's column.)

But over at the White House, President Bush, who was granting interviews to a handful of regional broadcasters, was telling another story altogether.

In a brief sit-down with Sabrina Fang of Tribune broadcasting, Bush had this to say:

"Actually the courts, yesterday, the FISA court, said I did have the authority. And that's important. And the reason it's important that they verify the legality of this program is it means it's going to extend, make it more likely to extend beyond my presidency. And this is a really important tool for future presidents to have. . . .

"I felt yesterday was a very important day for the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Nothing has changed in the program except for the court has said we analyzed it, it is a legitimate, it is a legitimate way to protect the country."

In other words, the only thing that's changed is that the Bush administration found one anonymous judge on the secret panel to say that what it was doing was legal all along.

That seems contrary to Bush's earlier insistence, at his January 26, 2006 press conference, for example, that the program could not be conducted under judicial supervision because existing law was too limiting.

Of course it's possible Bush has it wrong this time, or is oversimplifying things. Who knows for sure? Not us. The best we can do is try to triangulate the truth.

Your Daydreams Are Your Brain's "Screensavers"

Er... uh... wow.

This study reports that daydreaming is actually the brain's default mode, and your flights of fancy kick in whenever nothing else is going on.

Which tells me, once again, my brain isn't quite normal. ::wheeze::


The Supremes Tackle Political "Issue" Ads


Jumping into a heated free-speech dispute a year before the presidential primaries, the Supreme Court on Friday accepted a pair of appeals over a sweeping campaign-finance reform law that limits "issue ads."

Oral arguments in the cases will be held in late April, with a ruling expected by late June -- six months before the 2008 election officially kicks off with primaries and caucuses in such states as Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

The question for the high court is whether issue ads aired mainly on television -- and funded by businesses, labor unions, and other groups -- can be banned 60 days before a general election, and 30 days before a primary.

That restriction was a key part of the McCain-Feingold congressional bill setting strict limits on political spending and the message behind it.

The issue ads are widely used to promote particular causes such as environmental protection or tax reform, and they specifically cannot endorse or even mention any particular candidate or political party.

Did You Know There Was An Island Off Greenland?

No? Well, there is; global warming showed us!

From TheBHC at Anything They Say:

There's a new island off the coast of Greenland. Well, it's not really new, it's just that no one knew it was an island. Until now, glacial ice covered the Arctic Ocean and it had always been assumed that the island was a peninsula. Twenty years ago, the region looked frigid, frozen solid, just as we have long expected the Arctic to look.
Today, writes TheBHC, there is this (see picture above).

Join Us on Monday, January 22nd: Blog For Choice

Please join progressive bloggers -men as well as women - throughout this nation on Monday, January 22nd, when we Blog for Choice.

The message? Why we believe in a woman's right to choose for herself.

When The Man Who Ran From Vietnam Can't Get Enough War: From Iraq to Iran

Reported by Reuters tonight:

U.S. contingency planning for military action against Iran's nuclear program goes beyond limited strikes and would effectively unleash a war against the country, a former U.S. intelligence analyst said on Friday.
While Think Progress noted yesterday (and my apologies, I can't seem to locate the link again, that experts say there is really no way to actually win a war with Iran in any meaningful way.

Think Progress also brings us this on Iran (and no, Matthews was not vocally opposed to Iraq from the beginning; at best, he seemed to ride the fence - he certainly seemed the buy the "great moment" of the staged toppling of the Saddam statue which the Chalabi folks helped organize - until matters there degraded swiftly):
Chris Matthews not interested in being the ‘big shit.’

He was “against this bullshit war from the very beginning.” Tonight, Hardball host Chris Matthews argued, “If you want America to be a hegemonic power in the Middle East, you’re out of step with the American people. We’re not going to fight it out with Iran for the next 30 years to see who the big shit — I’m sorry — the big name is on the block.”

And There Karlo Goes Again: Inserting Common Sense That Is Never Appreciated In a Capitalist Society!

Karlo from Swerve Left is the same fellow who opposes Friday cat blogging on moral grounds yet is fine when kittens are used as snipers (to reduce the high cost of assassinations, I'm sure):

They're must be a large segment of our society with far too much money to spend. There is now a diet drug for dogs! Instead of drugging poor Fido, wouldn't it be easier to simpy put less dog-food in his bowl? People could then send the extra money to feed the hungry or cure blindness in some less frivilous corner of the planet.
And no! Of course there is no truth to the rumor that Karlo has not blogged in the last 12 days or so because he's appearing - in cognito, naturally - as a contestant on the L.A. version of "The Apprentice."

And if he was - not that he is! - I'm sure it would only be because he needs to ascertain that Osama bin Laden is not hiding in that hideous "The Donald" Trump comb-over (and comb-under, and comb-around).

(Attorney General) Gonzalez (and Girls!) Gone Wild!

Forgive me, but I had to add this pathetically amusing bit from Glenn in another post at Unclaimed Territory re: the FISA/domestic spying-wiretapping hearings yesterday:

The one important fact which I neglected to mention was that Gonzales -- in order to placate Hatch's deep and intense pornography "concerns" -- proudly touted what he called "the Girls Gone Wild prosecution," the epic criminal case where the DOJ prosecuted the producer of that series for failing to keep his paperwork in compliance with the onerous document provisions imposed by one of Mark Foley's many new pornography laws.

So in the middle of the Epic, Overarching, Greatest and Most Important War of Civilizations of this Time and Any Other Time, Alberto Gonzales and Orrin Hatch spent their time at a Congressional hearing designed to exercise Justice Department oversight talking solmenly about Girls Gone Wild.
Hatch strikes me as a very creepy old queen. Gonzalez is extremely creepy in a whole different way.

More From Glenn Greenwald

Glenn appeared briefly on Democracy Now today talking about the FISA/Bush/domestic spying-eavesdropping program today with the transcript here. You also may want to check out Glenn's article on the Bush Administration's love affair with wiretapping in Salon here.

FISA Courts, Domestic Spying/Eavesdropping On Americans, And The U.S. Constitution

[Ed. note: Hayden, as you may recall, is the genius who argued about a year or two ago that the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution does NOT contain a "probable cause" clause regarding unreasonable search and seizure. To emphasize his words, Hayden then told us, "If there is anyone who is an expert on the Constitution, it's the NSA, and if there is any amendment we know best, it's the 4th amendment." Uh. Right. Feel better? Neither do I. Then, of course, to reward Hayden for a job well done (wiping the president's ass with the constitution), Bush promoted him to an even more important position.]

As you might expect, lawyer/constitutional expert/blogger Glenn Greenwald is looking for the answers to some very large questions regarding President Bush's decision to violate the U.S. Constitution by conducting illegal eavesdropping on domestic phone calls between Americans who have not yet been shown to have done anything to warrant (ah, that double-edged word) it. Wrote Glenn yesterday:

(1) Why couldn't the new rules simply have been instituted years ago, as part of a newly amended FISA (which the administration requested and obtained from Congress in 2001 and which Congress repeatedly asked to do multiple times both prior and subsequent to revelation of the President's lawbreaking)?
(2) If, as Attorney General Gonzales claims, they were seeking to develop new rules as early as the Spring of 2005 to enable eavesdropping under FISA, why didn't they say so when the controversy arose over their lawbreaking?
(3) For those who claimed that our national security was jeopardized and that The Terrorists were given our state secrets when The New York Times revealed that the President was eavesdropping without warrants, didn't Alberto Gonazles just "give the terrorists our playbook" by telling them how we are eavesdropping, i.e., that we are doing so with warrants?
(4a) Could they possible think that this "concession" (what we call "obeying the law") is going to forestall or preclude Congressional investigations into all of the eavesdropping they have been doing over the last five years without anyone watching?
(4b) And relatedly, is this magnanimous assent to comply with the law supposed to relieve them of the consequence from their lawbreaking?
(4c) And related further, are they now going to tell the Sixth Circuit that there is no reason to bother with figuring out if Judge Diggs Taylor was correct when she ruled that the President violated both the Constitution and the law by eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without the warrants required by law?

UPDATE: In January, 2006, current CIA Director and former NSA director Michael Hayden warned that even discussing eavesdropping issues helps the Terrorists because it reminds them that we eavesdrop:
    GEN. HAYDEN: You know, we've had this question asked several times. Public discussion of how we determine al Qaeda intentions, I just -- I can't see how that can do anything but harm the security of the nation. And I know people say, "Oh, they know they're being monitored." Well, you know, they don't always act like they know they're being monitored. But if you want to shove it in their face constantly, it's bound to have an impact.
And so to -- I understand, as the Reverend's? question just raised, you know, there are issues here that the American people are deeply concerned with. But constant revelations and speculation and connecting the dots in ways that I find unimaginable, and laying that out there for our enemy to see cannot help but diminish our ability to detect and prevent attacks.

Alberto Gonazles said this repeatedly, too -- that merely by raising the issue of eavesdropping, we remind the Terrorists that we eavesdrop. As a result, the ones who forgot that we eavesdrop won't make the calls that they otherwise would have made to talk about their plots, and we won't know what they're doing and we won't be able to catch the Terrorists. That's how the administration explained how our national security had been so gravely harmed by the Times article that "told" the Terrorists that we were eavesdropping without warrants.
Emphasis mine.

Paul Krugman: "Surging and Purging"

Unless you've been vacationing in Osama bin Laden's favorite cave - or worse, mired yourself in front of the TV watching the return of Fox's dreck called "American Idol" and "24", you've likely heard that the Justice Department is busy firing any federal prosecutor who had the nerve to investigate any Republican wrong-doing, such as the prosecutor who brought the successful case against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

In his latest column, economist and Times' OpEd columnist extraordinaire Paul Krugman promises the next two years are going to be a "rolling constitutional crisis." Can there be any possible doubt he is right, given the fact that before Mr. Bush first got the opportunity to fart in the Oval Office, he was already threatening not only the U.S. Constitution, but the intestinal constitution of every citizen, whether "with him or agin' him"?

Read the Krugman piece in its entirety here at Rozius Unbound, but let me cut you a generous slice:

In Senate testimony yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to say how many other attorneys have been asked to resign, calling it a “personnel matter.”

In case you’re wondering, such a wholesale firing of prosecutors midway through an administration isn’t normal. U.S. attorneys, The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “typically are appointed at the beginning of a new president’s term, and serve throughout that term.” Why, then, are prosecutors that the Bush administration itself appointed suddenly being pushed out?

The likely answer is that for the first time the administration is really worried about where corruption investigations might lead.

Since the day it took power this administration has shown nothing but contempt for the normal principles of good government. For six years ethical problems and conflicts of interest have been the rule, not the exception.

For a long time the administration nonetheless seemed untouchable, protected both by Republican control of Congress and by its ability to justify anything and everything as necessary for the war on terror. Now, however, the investigations are closing in on the Oval Office. The latest news is that J. Steven Griles, the former deputy secretary of the Interior Department and the poster child for the administration’s systematic policy of putting foxes in charge of henhouses, is finally facing possible indictment.

And the purge of U.S. attorneys looks like a pre-emptive strike against the gathering forces of justice.Won’t the administration have trouble getting its new appointees confirmed by the Senate? Well, it turns out that it won’t have to.

Arlen Specter, the Republican senator who headed the Judiciary Committee until Congress changed hands, made sure of that last year. Previously, new U.S. attorneys needed Senate confirmation within 120 days or federal district courts would name replacements. But as part of a conference committee reconciling House and Senate versions of the revised Patriot Act, Mr. Specter slipped in a clause eliminating that rule.

As Paul Kiel of TPMmuckraker.com — which has done yeoman investigative reporting on this story — put it, this clause in effect allows the administration “to handpick replacements and keep them there in perpetuity without the ordeal of Senate confirmation.” How convenient.
Think it's any coincidence this happens right between the start of the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill and the commencement of the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby trial revolving around the Valerie Plame (as in PlameGate)/CIA Leak where our steamed ::cough:: esteemed Creep Veep, Dick Cheney will be called as a witness?

Bush Must Be Tantrumming Tonight With News Fidel Castro May Be Recovering

I've said it 3,000 times before and here, I'll say it again: the only reason Fidel Castro is still alive and still in at least marginal power in Cuba is because the United States has spent the better part of five decades trying to kill him or at least overthrow him.

From the Bay of Pigs disaster to the really low point where the Cuban exile nutwing joined with the far right Republican nutwing to hold five year old Elian Gonzalez captive in Miami, away from his father, after his mother kidnapped him, just to shaft ol' Fidel again (and one of the few high praises I have for then Attorney General Janet Reno is that she went against the nutwing to return the boy), Fidel will no doubt have the last laugh.

So I have no doubt whatsoever that Bush is kicking the shit out of his desk in the oval office tonight (yeah, right, like he'd be at work on a Friday) at the news that Castro is making slow but steady progress.

Trust me, I'm no big advocate of Castro. But the Cubans would not have been in any better shape if the ruling class - who treated the citizens of Cuba like their God-given slaves - had remained there rather than fleeing to Florida after Castro's revolution.

Military Recruitment: Let's Make Their Day, Give Them More Than They Ever Dreamed

Was just listening to the tail end of Jim Hogue's "House on Pooh Corner" program on WGDR (streaming here; community radio for Central Vermont broadcast out of the Eliot Pratt Center of Goddard College in beautiful downtown Plainfield - if you spit, you'll miss it).

While I didn't hear who had put forth the idea, whether Hogue (who often dresses up at Ethan Allen for the Second Vermont Republic - our secession from the States' movement) himself or someone else, I sorta like it. To whit:

Military recruiters are scrambling to try to get every warm body they can get to serve in Bush's "surge". So let's give them more than they ever dreamed.

Although Hogue's piece recommended every man 58 or over show up at recruiting offices to volunteer their services - and keep the recruiters from talking to the hungry 18-year-olds also waiting - I say, let's not be sexist here.

Any women care to join me at the local recruiting office (which I think is in not-quite-so-beautiful-downtown Barre - the only place around here with actual chain stores)? The more the merrier. I'll even drive!

The older, the more infirm, the better! If you're 75 or older, the coffee's on me!

Don't speak English? No problemo in Bush's surge!

And yes, I am quite serious. I'm available next Thursday. What about you? Can't make it then? That's fine. I think maybe I'll be making this a regular excursion! Join me when you can.

Oh, and we don't have to limit our offer to the Army. I'm thinking the Navy, the Marines, and maybe the Air Force. Let's give 'em all a shot!

Damn. What should I wear? It's too cold for my purple silk and the heels. I've never enlisted before, unless you count the Young Republicans (and I wouldn't, if I were you).

Think NYC Ritzy Store Owner Who Sues Homeless For A Million Bucks Is a Loyal Bushie?

I do.

Story here.

Hope the person has a real change in circumstances real soon now. Bush, too.

Welcome to Pottersville: "Behind Blue Eyes"

Jurassic Pork at Welcome to Pottersville offers another of his excellent picture "albums", this one entitled "Behind Blue Eyes", which I encourage you to experience for yourself.

The Christian Mafia? Hillary's Spiritual Adviser? Eh?

Also from Wayne Madsen, offered without (much) comment (unless you can hear my disgruntled harumphing):

"Christian Mafia" spokesperson tossed out of high-tech firm's leadership.

WMR has highlighted in the past the activities of the secretive "Fellowship," a group of wealthy "Christians" who are headquartered in Arlington, Virginia and whose tentacles reach into the White House (the Fellowship sponsors the annual National Prayer Breakfast in February), the Congress, the Pentagon, and foreign governments. The Fellowship is led by Douglas Coe, who Sen. and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton referred to as her "spiritual adviser" in her biography. Senator Sam Brownback, another presidential candidate, is a follower of the Fellowship.

The Fellowship's anointed spokesman, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Richard Carver has been effectively expelled, along with his colleagues, from the governance of Competitive Technologies, Inc. (AMEX: CTT) as the result of a stockholders' meeting held January 16, 2007. With enough proxy votes, former CTI corporate officials managed to vote out Carver's group and take back control of the company. After the vote, Carver and his associates reportedly snuck out of the building where the shareholder meeting was being conducted. An altercation between the outgoing corporate officials, the rebels led by ex-CEO John B. Nano, and Fairfield, Connecticut police took place on January 18 when the CTI officials voted out refused to concede control to the victorious insurgent stockholders. CTI incumbents claimed that a quorum was not present for the proxy fight while the insurgents said a quorum was, in fact, present.

The scene in Connecticut is emblematic of the Fellowship, also known as the "Christian Mafia."

The Time Has Come: The Nuremberg Declaration

From The Wayne Madsen Report:

Read and endorse the Nuremberg Declaration calling for the United States to accede to the International Criminal Court and bring U.S. war criminals to justice.

When Santorum Called Bush's Speech "Lincolnesque"...

was he perhaps referring to how well Abraham spoke after he was shot in the head by Booth at the theater? That is the only possibility I can come up with.

Posted by My State at State of the Qusan:

Dude is on meth!
    Today on Fox News, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) said President Bush’s approach to the war in Iraq, particularly his recent speech, was “Lincolnesque.”Fox Host Martha MacCallum asked Santorum what he thought of the criticism that President Bush “is just going his own way, not listening to the people, not listening to Congress.” Santorum responded, “Good for him.” Santorum also added that Bush understands, but most people aren’t aware, that we are already at war with Iran.
Of course, Rick Santorum is the brain trust behind "man on dog" sex and having five kids but being unable to support them on his $160K senator salary without having mom and dad send their retirement checks to him.

But I disagree slightly with My State; I don't think Rick is bright enough to take a terrible drug like meth. He strikes me more as a crack genius.

Still Have Holiday Gift Cards With A Balance Doing Nothing?

The general - that's Jesus' General who scores an 11 on the 1-10 manliness scale, thankyouveddymuch - has a great idea for what (possibly) very smart thing you can do with those gift card balances you can't imagine how to use:

Do you receive one of those visa gift cards for Christmas and don't want to hassle with the $4.27 balance left on it. Consider contributing to one of the Presidential candidates at the General's Act Blue site (I haven't contributed yet, because I'm waiting for my aluminum redemption check, but when I get it, I'll pony up too).

Blue Hampshire tells you how to check your balance.

Of course, I'm hoping that Our Leader uses his secret Article II powers to seize a third term, but if he'd rather go into retirement so he can watch cartoons full time, I'll settle for some other Republican.
Seize? Ouch.

If It's January 19th - And It Is -

then it must be contributor CK's birthday.

Hope you have a nice glass of single malt Scotch in your birthday plans there, CK.

Can We Assume He'll Enter Rehab?

Uh.. I don't even know who he is.

The heated controversy at ABC's top show, "Grey's Anatomy," boiled over Thursday as the network rebuked co-star Isaiah Washington for an anti-gay comment and Washington issued a lengthy apology.

"We are greatly dismayed that Mr. Washington chose to use such inappropriate language at the Golden Globes, language that he himself deemed `unfortunate' in his previous public apology," the network said in a statement.

"His actions are unacceptable and are being addressed," the statement conclude.

During a backstage interview Monday at the Globes gala, Washington denied involvement in a heated on-set incident in October during which an anti-gay remark was reportedly uttered.

"No, I did not call (co-star) T.R. (Knight) a faggot," Washington told reporters. "Never happened, never happened."

In his apology Thursday, Washington acknowledged "repeating the word Monday night."
"I apologize to T.R., my colleagues, the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community for using a word that is unacceptable in any context or circumstance. I marred what should have been a perfect night for everyone who works on `Grey's Anatomy.' I can neither defend nor explain my behavior. I can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help."

Gee, The Rabid Right Isn't Challenged With The Idea of Barack Obama Running in 2008, Are They?

From Ann Coulter, as noted on Media Matters (audio clip available):

Democrats are "stunned" that a "black man can walk and talk"

While fat boy Rush Limbaugh says of Obama (also available on hellish audio clip at Media Matters) (at least he didn't call him Osama as Fox and CNN seem to do too frequently for it to be sheer coincidence):

"If he's got fire in his hands, what has he got in his pants?"

Why is it that fat old white men are always so worried about what younger men of color have in their pants?

No, don't answer.

I probably don't really want to know.

Also On Subject Of Cancer, While President Boasts Of Reduced Cancer Deaths, He Lies About Cutting Funding

My previous post about Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake reminds me of this nasty state of affairs: As Keith Olbermann noted on Countdown on MSNBC tonight, President Bush found yet more to lie about this week as he scrambled to take credit for two positives he had absolutely nothing to do with (Bush and positive progressive action cannot co-exist, it seems).

While bragging this week that cancer deaths were down for the second year in a row (and this is not something that happens just because he implemented something - which he didn't - but perhaps more because chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma are claiming far more lives now without medical systems in place to stop it), Bush said he had increased money for cancer research.

Only, Bush didn't increase cancer research funding. In fact, he did quite the opposite.

Yes, cancer research dollars contributed by the federal government have increased slightly. However, these increases were not ones ordered by Bush, but a carry-over of a multi-year research increase set forth by Bill Clinton when he was still in office. [As we know, the Bushies only credit Clinton with negatives.]

In fact, Bush CUT federal funding for cancer research for this past year. And, right after he bragged and boasted and claimed to increase funding this week, he actually slashed MORE federal money from cancer research for the coming budget year.

Scum-sucking worm.

Wish Jane Hamsher Your Very Best For A Full Recovery

Pointed by Jesus' General, I saw the note posted earlier this week by Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake that she has the dubious "honor" of being diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time.

Having been through a breast cancer scare myself now a few times, although never into full-blown, I can only begin to imagine how tough this is for her and those who love and care about her.

Join me in wishing her the best as well as supporting causes that work to combat breast cancer and bring us closer to more effective treatments and cures.

Ohio Vote Rigging - Too Little, Way Too Late

Reported by DBK at Skippy (International):

the asspress reports that an ohio prosecutor is prosecuting three election workers for rigging the vote in the 2004 presidential election.
    "the evidence will show that this recount was rigged, maybe not for political reasons, but rigged nonetheless," prosecutor kevin baxter said. "they did this so they could spend a day rather than weeks or months" on the recount, he said.
Oh, the rigging went much deeper - just ask former Ohio Secretary of State and Bushie Butt Smoocher , Ken Blackwell (who, just like Katherine Harris in Florida in the cooked voting there in November 2000, was coordinating Bush's campaign while also in charge of the voting process as a whole).

Why isn't a prosecutor going after Blackwell? And the Bushes, for that matter.

Jesus' General Writes Virginian Who Tells Blacks To "Get Over Slavery"

The General has, as always, been busy. I was thinking of writing this idiot bastard from the Virginia House of ReprobatesDelegates to protest his comments telling blacks to get over slavery, while also saying something like, "It's like asking Jews to apologize for killing Jesus." [Er... why do I suspect Frank the Wank Hargrove really does want this apology, too?)]

Then I saw Jesus' best, most heterosexual (not to mention manliest, general had beat me to it:

Frank Hargrove
Virginia House of Delegates

Dear Delegate Hargrove,

I salute you, sir. It takes a lot of courage to stand up on Martin Luther King Day and tell the brown people of your state that they just need to get over that whole slavery thing. That's especially true in these times when the white Christian male suffers from so much persecution.

That act alone is enough to earn you a spot in local heritage appreciation society's Great Hall of Kleagles. But you didn't stop there; you went on to indict the Jews for murdering Jesus. It was a shrewd move on your part. By doing so, you angered one of the Jewish delegates, causing him to accidentally betray their greatest weakness, a weakness you then immediately announced to the world: Jews have thin skin.

Now that you know their weakness, you can use it against them. All you need to do is take your brown people whacker--the stick you use to beat uppity brown people when they try to drink from your water fountains or complain about the deer heads you stuff in their mail boxes--and turn it into a Jew poker, just like the ones your ancestors used in the old country.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Sending Bloggers To Prison

I will go on record now as saying I will NOT comply with any program that lumps bloggers - the vast number of us unpaid and without any political affiliations -together with fatcat corrupt lobbyists or requires us to "register". If that means I'll be one of the token first to face prison, so be it. It won't be the worst thing this administration has done to me, trust me.

This is in follow up to my immediately previous post here on how the White House Correspondents group does not want any criticism of Mr. Bush at its dinner.

From InfoWars (and thanks to the many folks who sent me this link Thursday):

You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was some new restriction on free speech in Communist China. But it isn't.

The U.S. Government wants to force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress in the latest astounding attack on the internet and the First Amendment.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of GrassrootsFreedom.com, a website dedicated to fighting efforts to silence grassroots movements, states:
    "Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself."
In other words Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats may redefine the meaning of lobbying in order that political communications to and even between citizens falls under the same legislation.

Under current law any 'lobbyist" who 'knowingly and willingly fails to file or report." quarterly to the government faces criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year.

The amendment is currently on hold.

This latest attack on bloggers comes hot on the heels of Republican Senator John McCain's proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards.

McCain's proposal is presented under the banner of saving children from sexual predators and encourages informants to shop website owners to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities.
It keeps getting worse. Read it all here.

OK, So We're No Longer Even Pretending This Is a Democracy Protected By A Constitution That Guarantees Free Speech?

This is all I can glean from this post and the next news article I will bring you.

Posted by John in DC at AmericaBlog:

So much for an impartial press. This is actually quite serious. If the White House Correspondents Association is so afraid of doing anything that criticizes the president, even in jest, then how does this affect their reporting? How can these people write fair, accurate and impartial stories about the increasing woes of this administration if they are so fearful of any speech that may upset this administration? From Attytood:
    Little said organizers of the event made it clear they don't want a repeat of last year's controversial appearance by Stephen Colbert, whose searing satire of President Bush and the White House press corps fell flat and apparently touched too many nerves.

    "They got a lot of letters," Little said Tuesday. "I won't even mention the word 'Iraq.'"

    Little, who hasn't been to the White House since he was a favorite of the Reagan administration, said he'll stick with his usual schtick -- the impersonations of the past six presidents.

    "They don't want anyone knocking the president. He's really over the coals right now, and he's worried about his legacy," added Little, a longtime Las Vegas resident.
Poor embattled president. Gosh, someone might tell a joke about him. I mean, sure, he tortures people for a living, throw out habeas corpus, illegally spies on our phone conversations and the US mail, and oh yeah, killed 35,000 civilians in Iraq this past year alone - but having a joke told about him... now that crosses the line.

The White House Correspondents Association is pitiful. You call yourself journalists. And you wonder why we criticize you? You people are pathetic. Journalism isn't about getting people to like you. It's about reporting the news, the facts, the truth, and hopefully making the world a better place while so doing.
Emphasis mine.

Complete disgust, however, should be shared by us all.


Full Detainee Trial Manual Online For Your Reading (Dis)Pleasure

Discourse.net points us to the full text of the disastrous and just patently completely and horribly wrong detainee court manual the Pentagon/Department of Defense(less) has put together to insure that trials of detainees they hold will not only find the defendants guilty even when there is no evidence, but also make sure that whatever remained of a notion of fairness in American jurisprudence is completely and utterly shot to hell. [Here is my earlier post from the AP article.]

So many times, especially since Bush took office, I have been ashamed of what people who represent my country have done.

But this manual - and everything done at Gitmo - increases that shame a thousand fold.

Find it here in PDF form. And then you should let your feelings be known.

What they will do to the least of us, they will do to the rest of us. Remember that when they knock on your door and drag you out.

Good Night, Art Buchwald

Art Buchwald, the political humorist, has died.

Buchwald had been moved to a hospice some two years ago because his death was expected at any time. Several months ago, however, he beat the odds and left.

Good night, Art, and thank you.

Heinous: Detainees' To Be Tried Based On Hearsay And Co-erced Testimony, With Penalty of Death

This is heinous - and heinous simply is not a strong enough word to describe a Pentagon detainee "trial manual" that undercuts every safeguard in American jurisprudence which, if you go back and look at the documents upon which the American justice system is based, do NOT set different standards for non-Americans. And understand that once you allow a Muslim or someone else to be tried on lesser, highly questionable standards, you open the door to allow yourself, your family, your friends, and your community members to be tried as shoddily as well:

The Pentagon has drafted a manual for upcoming detainee trials that would allow suspected terrorists to be convicted on hearsay evidence and coerced testimony and imprisoned or put to death.

New U.N. Chief: Wants Good Relationship With U.S. But Not At Expense Of All Others

I really like what Kofi Annan's replacement as United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, had to say this week re: the Bush empire and the U.N.'s role with all other players. From Reuters:

New U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Tuesday for a strong partnership with Washington but said this must not be at the expense of others, regardless of the size or wealth of a member state.

In his first meeting with President Bush since becoming head of the world body, Ban said he hoped the United States would provide strong financial and political support to the world body.
But he said in a speech to a Washington think-tank that a "constructive partnership" with the United States could not exclude other U.N. member nations.

"Every one of our member states has the right to be heard, whatever the size of its population or its pocketbook," he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Nor can our partnership flourish in a climate of fear and mistrust," he added, a reference to tensions in recent years between the Bush administration and the world body, particularly following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Before Bush, many of the wildly right wingers like Jesse Helms made it clear they considered the U.N. America's bitch. Since Bush, there has been a major effort to transform the U.N., if it won't just play Charlie McCarthy to Cheney's Edgar Bergen, into a non-entity.

I think the U.N. has more value than the U.S. gives it credit for and that it is a serious mistake to try to invalidate it here and in the rest of the world.

Hey, Kentucky? Why Bother To Have A Museum If You Use It To Misinform?

Brain trusts in Petersburg, KY have opened a "creationism" museum which depicts humans and dinosaurs as co-existing at the same time, something you rarely see outside of very bad Hollywood scripts and President Bush's mind.

Douglas Turner: "Warmongers Move On, Soldiers Continue To Die"

Turner is right: compassion is missing. So is any hint of intelligence in the new "surge" plan. Read the entire column at The Wealthy Frenchman:

Missing from all the talk from the Republican White House about the "surge" in Iraq is compassion.There should be pity for the helpless human beings on the ground over there, and especially for the fallen and wounded servicemen and women and their families.

A vast callousness has settled on the capital. The contrast between how we showcased President Gerald R. Ford's entombment and the way we still brush off our war dead can't be explained in any other way.

People sat transfixed in front of their TV sets watching the repetitive rituals for Ford. And under the cover of Bush administration secrecy, our war dead are processed through the military's mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware like so many uncounted crates - nameless commodities.

No pictures are allowed there, nor any public rites for the 3,018 unlucky personnel as of this writing who got stopped cold in the war of choice pushed by President Bush and the so-called neo-conservatives.

Compare the anonymity of these dead boys and girls with the fame and wealth enjoyed by those who urged this war on America and the Middle East.

The most famous of the jingoists is Vice President Cheney. One, William Kristol, is weekly featured as an expert on Fox News. Another, Paul Wolfowitz, one of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top henchmen, became president of the World Bank.

Still others, such as former CIA director George Tenet and former Rumsfeld aide Douglas J. Feith, found safe haven in the faculty of Georgetown University.Washington is so forgiving. Bullets and improvised explosive devices in Baghdad are not.

Undaunted by the blood and sacrifice of the less fortunate, Bush announced there will be more men and women sentenced to mediating a sectarian civil war in a country that we broke.


Impeach The Cheerleader, Save The World

Have you noticed that I words are very, very, very big this year?

Words like:

idiot illiterate imbecile impotent incapable
incapacitated incoherent incompetent incorrigible
indecisive indifferent inept infamous inferior
inflammatory insolent intimidated inundated

And then there's the word impeached. From JP at Welcome to Pottersville:
Case in point: Back in 1998, somewhere between the stinky finger and prostate of America, from the asshole of the Americas known as Midland, Texas, began murmurs from its Governor that God told him that He wanted him to be the Preznit. He went on a whirlwind tour over the next two years defending his lack of a state budget with, "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it" and defended not knowing Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s first name (his guess was “General?”) by claiming that such things shouldn’t be expected of him since he had yet to be elected Preznit (“What is this, 50 Questions?” he asked the incredulous Boston Globe reporter), as if the Presidency of the United States had a learning curve that could comfortably start from the ground up, as if it was totally an OJT position. He mocked a woman on death row in front of a reporter by pursing his lips and saying, “Please, don’t kill me.”

And we and the mainstream media. Took. Him. Seriously.

We actually thought that this guy could do better than a vice president who was in the center of one of the most successful administrations in modern American history, one that left with a sizable surplus after undoing in three years a dozen years of ceaseless gang-banging under Reagan and Bush I, one that for the most part kept us out of wars and did its best to combat terrorism. One that did all this against a mostly hostile Republican Congress after 1994.

Now, I don’t believe for a minute that we as a somewhat informed electorate actually elevated this wet brained rube to the highest office in the land but the vote was close enough so that Diebold could fiddle-fuck with the votes and who’d know the difference and be able to prove otherwise? If Bush had gotten crushed by Gore like Goldwater in 1964, we’d have known something was rotten in the state of Florida if the election results had suddenly lurched toward Bush.

That alone qualifies the American public at large as being the dumbest motherfuckers in the solar system, perhaps in all 27 of the dimensions known to Star Trek’s Q.

But then the 2004 election came and America grasped its collective dunce cap as tightly as Joe Lieberman his Senate seat. By then, we’d been hit on September 11th not once, not twice, not thrice but four times in spite of our brand-new Chief Executive who vacationed more than Johnny Carson and shrugged off warnings about bin Laden striking the US by using our own planes against us. In response, he’d stripped our civil liberties with ours and Congress’s blessings with something called the USA PATRIOT Act. We’d been in Iraq for over a year (two, if you count the bombing campaign that softened up Iraq for eight months prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony of Shock and Awe on 3/19/03) and progress had been minimal to nonexistent. The economy was in the shitter due to four consecutive years of tax breaks for bloated fucks during a war that Congress had not declared. We’d received nothing in return for the giant sucking sound in our Treasury, for the holes in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, nothing in the way of competent leadership.

And we and the mainstream media. Cried. Out. For. More.

[...]This is a man with a black hole in place of a soul that sucks in campaign contributions and human lives, one who broke his campaign promise to faith-based organizations to give them eight billion dollars in federal money (they got, according to David Kuo, less than eighty million, or less than 1%). Yet these same people exhort our children to pray to a cardboard cutout effigy of George W. Bush with a tearful, rapturous joy akin to that of John McGiver’s Mr. Daniels and his electric Jesus shrine in Midnight Cowboy. And yet this Appalachian pharaoh had done his damnedest to turn 180 degrees from the teachings of the Jesus whom he claimed had saved him by enriching himself and his base, soiling the earth like a 500 foot tall Pigpen and killing and allowing to be killed perhaps millions and still fool these evangelistic pudding heads into thinking that Jesus would name him his successor.

People, we are way past the point where we should’ve asked ourselves, “America, what the fuck is the matter with you?!”

America, to quote a line from the Simpsons, he’s getting away… very slowly.

He’d already told Helen Thomas last March that we’re keeping the troops in Iraq until after his “presidency.” The only thing that’s changed since then is that at least 21,500 more troops will get stranded when he passes this Gordian knot to the legitimate 43rd President.

I've said it before and I will continue to say it until it either happens or until January 20th, 2009: Impeach the cheerleader, save the world.

Patrick Lang: "War Against The Boogey Men"

From former DIA colonel Pat Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis blog, some interesting observations:

After watching the Sunday newsies with clips of Bush, Cheney on camera and Hadley the functionary, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that we, Americans are chasing phantoms in the world, phantoms carefully cultivated in a surfeit of seminars and an excess of Jungian memory.

The president says that we are locked in an ideological struggle ----- OK, So what are the ideologies involved?

!- Freedom? On our side? That includes the Pakistanis, Saudis, Israelis, The Siniora government in Lebanon, Abu Mazen in Palestine, the Shia government of Iraq? The Iraqi Kurds? Turkey? Libya? Egypt? Yemen?

2- "Islamic Fascism" On the other side? Hamas, Syria, Iran, The Sunni insurgents (various), the jihadis?

This is tricky stuff. The Saudis? The administration's "pet" Lebanese? The "freedom" list looks more like a list of our client states than anything else. Saudi Arabia has no consitution other that the Quran, no law except for Sharia and that of the Hanbali variety. Pakistan is one man's life away from being a Shariah state. Yemen? Libya? My God! The Israelis? Sorry folks, but Carter is right. From the point of view of the the Palestinians Israel/Palestine is not a free place.

"Freedom" and "Islamic Fascism" clearly have "special" meanings here. I say that "freedom" as the bushies use the term is code and really means westernization and "globalization" in the sense that we want to see the world "ironed out" flat so the it meets the egregious Friedman's dream of a homogeneous world. "Islamic Fascism" means, I think, simply "Islam." That is, Islam as it has been understod by millennia of Muslims. That is, as an all encompassing view of the world and man's relationship to God. "Ah, but these are not real Muslims," I can hear the outcry now. Rubbish. We non-Muslims can not dictate to any particular group of Muslms what Islam means to them. We want an Islam similar in its role in life to the emasculated role that Christianity plays for most Americans in their lives? Sorry! We do not get to choose for them.

What Would You Do With $1.2 Trillion?

[Ed. note: The graphic at right is also from The Times showing the annual cost of the Iraq war (however, this can only be an estimate since the Bushies hide much of the war expenditure).]

Writes Pudentilla at Skippy International:

hey kids,

what would you buy if you had a trillion dollars? We know aWol would buy destruction and devastation - but how about you? healthcare for all americans? energy resources that don't force the u.s. to rely on tyrannies? decent schools? what would you buy?
Now let's take a look at The Times article by David Leonhardt to which she refers (I'll give you three (3) guesses how the Bushies have spent it, and the first 21 don't count):
The human mind isn’t very well equipped to make sense of a figure like $1.2 trillion. We don’t deal with a trillion of anything in our daily lives, and so when we come across such a big number, it is hard to distinguish it from any other big number. Millions, billions, a trillion — they all start to sound the same.

Likewise, some of their cost estimates — like those covering health care and disability payments for veterans — have risen since the article appeared.
At the outset of the war, William Nordhaus, an economist at Yale, wrote an essay examining why countries typically underestimate the cost of wars.

The way to come to grips with $1.2 trillion is to forget about the number itself and think instead about what you could buy with the money. When you do that, a trillion stops sounding anything like millions or billions.

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

The final big chunk of the money could go to national security. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have not been put in place — better baggage and cargo screening, stronger measures against nuclear proliferation — could be enacted. Financing for the war in Afghanistan could be increased to beat back the Taliban’s recent gains, and a peacekeeping force could put a stop to the genocide in Darfur.

All that would be one way to spend $1.2 trillion. Here would be another:

The war in Iraq.

In the days before the war almost five years ago, the Pentagon estimated that it would cost about $50 billion. Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed. Lawrence Lindsey, a White House economic adviser, was a bit more realistic, predicting that the cost could go as high as $200 billion, but President Bush fired him in part for saying so.

These estimates probably would have turned out to be too optimistic even if the war had gone well. Throughout history, people have typically underestimated the cost of war, as William Nordhaus, a Yale economist, has pointed out.

But the deteriorating situation in Iraq has caused the initial predictions to be off the mark by a scale that is difficult to fathom. The operation itself — the helicopters, the tanks, the fuel needed to run them, the combat pay for enlisted troops, the salaries of reservists and contractors, the rebuilding of Iraq — is costing more than $300 million a day, estimates Scott Wallsten, an economist in Washington.

That translates into a couple of billion dollars a week and, over the full course of the war, an eventual total of $700 billion in direct spending.

The two best-known analyses of the war’s costs agree on this figure, but they diverge from there. Linda Bilmes, at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and former Clinton administration adviser, put a total price tag of more than $2 trillion on the war. They include a number of indirect costs, like the economic stimulus that the war funds would have provided if they had been spent in this country.

Into Every Life, A Little (10 Ton Shitload of) Blogger Errors Must Fall

I see this message more often everyday than I see my dog:

Blogger Problem

This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate.

Status code: 1-500-21

Uh huh.

Speaking Of Life-Sucking Cold

Editorial silliness: I try never to use the word frigid when referring to extreme cold. Women have to be careful about words like that. ::cough::]

You know how the weather people keep telling you that we're not having winter?

Well, I beg to differ.

Right now, we're struggling in the double digits. As in, negative double digits. On the "warmest" reporting outdoor thermometer, it's -12.9. While we made it above zero today, it lasted about 27 seconds and then, it only reached 2.7.

The last time I let Ben (my precious pup) out for a bathroom break, I swear he came in with icicles dangling from his... er.. uh... equipment.

Now excuse me while I try to fit myself into the woodstove to thaw my toes.

On A Lighter (?!?) - And Colder! - Note: James Brown, The Hardest Working Dead Man in Show Business

Sometimes they refer to dead people as being on ice. In the case of the late "godfather of soul", this is uncomfortably close to the truth.

Twenty-three (23) days after Brown gave up the ghost, he may be dead but he's not exactly buried. Nor - apparently - will he be anytime soon.

There have been a number of quirky bits of information that have come out since his death was announced, including that his youngest son (age 5) was disinherited from Brown's will. But the oddest by far is the fact that, for various reasons, he has not been laid to rest anywhere except a chilly room in his home.

Kept in a "salon" of sorts that is kept at a constant cool temp of between 36 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit, the family is supposedly awaiting the completion (or even the start of building) of a special tomb which may take another six (6) weeks or so before Brown will finally "leave the building." Apparently this is all perfectly legal, if a tax bizarre. Laws where he lived require a body be embalmed but somehow does not require the remains to be buried or prevent keeping dead ol' Dad in a room off the kitchen.

And on a separate but no less extraneous note, did you know that The King (no, not Bush, but Elvis Presley) makes on average $40 million a year? Thirty years after his death, and he can't even rest in peace (or pieces).

I See I'm Not The Only One Aghast That Bush Could Demand Gratitude From the Iraqi People

From the Boston Globe op/ed page, "Amid The Bloodshed, Bush Wants A 'Thank You'":

ON "60 MINUTES," President Bush was asked, "Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?"

Bush eventually answered, "Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant."

If Bush stopped there, all he would have been was arrogant. But he kept going: "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude."

That is inhuman. We destroyed a nation under the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction. Between our invasion and the ensuing civil war, at least 53,000 Iraqi civilians and over 3,000 American soldiers have been killed. Nearly 23,000 US soldiers have been wounded. Tyrants are being hanged, and tyranny is still in the streets.

And the Iraqi people owe us a debt of gratitude?

Bush continued, "I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."

And people thought President Johnson was deluded about Vietnam?

On the same day, on Fox News Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney sputtered out more lies. Long after bipartisan commissions and committees found no ties between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and 9/11 or Al Qaeda, Cheney was still talking domino theory with the same intensity as Johnson and his minions once did.

"Iraq is just part of the larger war," Cheney said. "It is, in fact, a global war that stretches from Pakistan all the way around to North Africa. We've been engaged in Pakistan. We've been engaged in Afghanistan . . . remember what (Osama) bin Laden's strategy is. He doesn't think he can beat us in the stand-up fight. He thinks he can force us to quit. . . . Iraq is the current central battlefield in that war."

...Forty years later, Bush is even further removed from reality. Polls of Iraqis themselves, including one done last fall by the State Department, show that they want a pullout of US troops. Bush cannot claim a "victory psychology" is beginning to emerge. Instead, he scolds the Iraqis for not being grateful for his destruction. That is a sign of a president so lost in the forest, he no longer recognizes a tree.

Cartoonist Tom Toles Channels Bush On Subject Of Iraq

As I've said, I'm not really "big" on cartoons, but this Tom Toles cartoon in the Washington Post which seems to be channeling Bush's insane comments on Iraq is a must-see.

If The Pentagon Can't Do What It's Charged With Doing, Why Are They Watching Us?

The Pentagon has had any number of objectives since September 11th, 2001, including:

  • Capturing Osama bin Laden "dead or alive"
  • Capturing his second-in-command, Dr. Al Zawahiri
  • Defeating Al Qaeda
  • Defeating the Taliban
  • Capturing Saddam Hussein (the Pentagon didn't do this; the Kurds did and turned him over)
  • Capturing Afghanistan and creating conditions so the country would become a democracy
  • Capturing Iraq and creating conditions so it could become a free democracy
  • "Winning the Global War on Terror" (Calling it the War on Terror, Donald Rumsfeld told us on the eve of his departure, was silly and bogus)
Now, as it happens, the Pentagon has achieved NONE of these objectives. So why the hell does the Pentagon have time to identify, track, and keep in a database those who peacefully protest Mr. Bush's many wars of empire?

From Common Dreams, by Walter Pincus, originally from the Washington Post:
A Defense Department database devoted to gathering information on potential threats to military facilities and personnel, known as Talon, had 13,000 entries as of a year ago – including 2,821 reports involving American citizens, according to an internal Pentagon memo to be released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Pentagon memo says an examination of the system led to the deletion of 1,131 reports involving Americans, 186 of which dealt with "anti-military protests or demonstrations in the U.S."

Titled "Review of the TALON Reporting System," the four-page memo produced in February 2006 summarizes some interim results from an inquiry ordered by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after disclosure in December 2005 that the system had collected and circulated data on anti-military protests and other peaceful demonstrations.

The released memo, one of a series of Talon documents made public over the past year by the ACLU under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, said that the deleted reports did not meet a 2003 Defense Department requirement that they have some foreign terrorist connection or relate to what was believed to be "a force protection threat."

The number of deleted reports far exceeds the estimate provided to the Washington Post just over a year ago by senior officials of Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the Defense Department agency that manages the Talon program. At that time, then-CIFA Director David A. Burtt II said the review had disclosed that only 1 percent of the then 12,500 Talon reports appeared to be problematic.

The ACLU said in its own report that past disclosures about Talon "cried out for congressional oversight yet Congress was silent." It said the new memo indicated there "may be even more disturbing" information to discover and declared "it is time for Congress to act."

The ACLU noted the memo showed that Talon reports had a much wider circulation than previously disclosed, with about 28 organizations and 3,589 individuals authorized to submit reports or have access to the database. The organizations with access include various military agencies as well as state, federal and local law enforcement officials.

A Pentagon spokesman said there are 7,700 reports in the Talon database. Some involve U.S. citizens, but the spokesman declined to say how many.
Perhaps we need to shut down the Pentagon since they aren't performing their jobs while collecting more money than any other American institution (and more than most others rolled together).

Ha'aretz: Has The War With Iran Already Begun?

Shmuel Rosner, a regular contributor to Slate, writes in his blog at Haaretz that serious questions abound re: whether the U.S. has already started its war with Iran, word we've been getting on and off for nearly six months from many, including former UN weapons inspector and Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf's second in command in the first Iraq war.

My latest Slate article (published just before the weekend) deals with the aftermath of President Bush's speech, and asks whether it amounted to a declaration of war against Iran. You can read the piece in full here, or just a couple of paragraphs here:

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., spotted it. At the end of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Biden looked sternly at the secretary and made one last point: "If the president concluded he had to invade Iran ... or Syria in pursuit of these networks, I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that and he does need congressional authority to do that ... I just want to set that marker."

So, the marker was set, but on the ground, events were already moving ahead of it. On Thursday, U.S. forces raided Iranian targets in Irbil, Iraq, and detained five Iranian officials. As he mentioned in Wednesday night's speech, President Bush has ordered a second aircraft carrier, along with its support ships, to the Gulf. "Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges," said the president. "This begins with addressing Iran and Syria."

No doubt old comparisons will soon be made: If Bush was once Lyndon Johnson and Iraq Vietnam, the president will now become Richard Nixon and Iran will serve as neighboring Cambodia. "Some of us remember 1970, Madam Secretary," Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told Rice. "And that was Cambodia, and when our government lied to the American people and said we didn't cross the border going into Cambodia, in fact we did."

Some of the reasons for escalation are strikingly similar: supply routes, material support, insurgency sanctuaries. It's a tempting comparison. But it is also misleading, as the president recognized in his speech when he declared, "We will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region." Cambodia never tried to acquire nuclear weapons, nor did it pursue regional dominance.

National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte expressed his concern during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday: "Iran's influence is rising in ways that go beyond the menace of its nuclear program," he said. If threatened, it might retaliate with terror attacks - with the help of its ally Hezbollah - "against U.S. interests." The rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Greece Friday morning serves as a sobering reminder of the many options terrorist organizations can quite easily pursue.

Also In Israel: IDF Chief Resigns, PM Olmert Told To Quit and 2nd In Command Perez May Leave, Too

As I wrote about last summer and early fall, many in Israel on both the right and the left were not at all happy with the way Israel conducted the invasion in Lebanon, a war that although Israel commanded much bigger and better fire power, the Israeli Defense Forces or IDF took a substantial number of losses (nothing like the slaughter of hundreds of Lebanese civilians, but still considerable considering what Israel had: the best weapons the U.S. could and did provide.

Today, yet another IDF chief (Halutz) announced his resignation (thousands in Beirut, Lebanon, celebrated the news) and the calls keep coming - as they have since the Lebanon debacle - for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon's hand-picked replacement, to leave office. We also learn from Ha'aretz that Olmert and his second in command, Shimon Peretz, have clashed over the "right" replacement for the IDF's Halutz and that Peretz may leave the government.

A Worthy Read: It's Time For Israel To Work As Hard For Peace As It Works to Provoke Its Neighbors & Occupy Their Land

It's their blog(s) and other articles in Ha'aretz like this one, by Uzi Benziman, that keep me reading Ha'aretz and keep me hopeful that, aside from a bad government with bad leaders, the Israeli people want peace as much as many of us in the U.S. do.

Here's a snip, but I encourage you to read all of the short Benziman piece with the major point being that unless Israel agrees to give up the Golan (which they really should not be occupying anyway), it invites yet more war:

It is enough to observe the panicked responses in Jerusalem to the report by Akiva Eldar yesterday in Haaretz on the outlines of an agreement between Israel and Syria cobbled together in unofficial talks, to feel yet again that generations of governments of Israel, including the present one, are responsible in no small way for prolonging the Israeli-Arab conflict. Unlike the first 30 years of the state's existence, when the Arab world refused to recognize Israel, its neighbors have gradually come to terms with the reality starting in 1977. And since then, the Arab world has also started to bear responsibility, at least partially, for fanning the embers of the conflict.

Olmert's bureau raced yesterday to deny any connection, even a passive one, to the talks that took place in Europe on the Israel-Syrian conflict. Associates of Ariel Sharon, who, according to the report, was aware of the secret negotiations, did the same. The insulted added their voices to the deniers: A senior minister told Israel Radio that he is privy to all secret diplomatic moves and if he was not party to this, then there was nothing to be party to. And MK Yuval Steinitz said that he had spoken at the time with Sharon, who told him he ruled out any relationship with the present Syrian regime because of its ties to terror. A united front of deniers emerged, as if on command, to clarify that the Israeli government was not involved nor is it tainted by an attempt to come to an arrangement with Bashar Assad. This is a ludicrous spectacle, the irony of which fades in light of its depressing significance: Israel's leaders are trying hard to prove to its citizens that they are not involved in a move to end 60 years of hostility with its Syrian neighbor. These leaders are kowtowing to residents of the Golan Heights, the settlers and the American government. The desire to mollify them seems to be the government's top priority; otherwise, it is impossible to understand the complete and utter denial of the efforts reported by Eldar. It is as if Olmert decided that a confession on his part to any involvement in a channel of communication with Assad is politically lethal.

...The Israeli public has the right to demand that its government try to reach an agreement with Damascus.

...Despite differences in regimes and political culture, Israel has managed to establish peaceful relations with Egypt and Jordan; therefore, it should not cling to these difference to get out of negotiations with Syria. Official Israel is behaving this way to avoid paying the price of peace - giving up the Golan. But in unofficial Israel there is a substantial public that prefers peace over territories.

Big Question: IF Israel And Syria Are In Secret Peace Negotiations, Why Are Bushies Increasingly Posturing For Showdown With Syria & Iran

When I first read this - a report of secret peace negotiations between Syria and Israel - in my daily trip to Ha'aretz, one of Israel's best newspapers, I was encouraged if a tad skeptical. Israel is great for talking about peace deals but not too hot on keeping their end of the bargain. [Example: Israel agreed to get out of Lebanon if international peacekeepers moved in; as soon as peacekeepers were in place, Israel started bombing Lebanon and performing other actions designed to provoke the ire of more than the Lebanese.]

But then my brain finally kicked in and I wondered why the hell the Bush Administration is beating the drums ever louder toward a war/showdown with Syria as well as Iran if Israel and Syria are trying to work something out? I mean, Bush always uses Israel as one of the many excuses to attack mostly-Muslim nations.

Nor should these negotiations be any surprise to the Bushies. According to Ha'aretz, these talks have been going on for more than two years and now-former PM Ariel Sharon knew of them. There is really no chance the Bushies did not.

Here are the understandings Syria and Israel have supposedly reached:

  • An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.
  • As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.
  • At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.
  • Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.
  • The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel's favor.
  • According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.
  • Click for map of territorial arrangements

Thoughts? Comments?