Pet Food Recall

If you own a dog or a cat, I highly recommend you read this about a huge recall.

I unfortunately served my dog a serving of one of these listed products today an hour before I saw the article. I'm worried.

Khalid Sheikh Muhammed Was One Busy Boy!

I was going to write up something similar to what Jon Ponder already did, so let me bring you this from Pensito Review:

Facing scandals and controversies everywhere it looks, the Bush Administration released a confession yesterday made over a month ago by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — one of dozens of Osama bin Laden’s “number two” men:
    “I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.” He also confessed orchestrating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid’s December 2001 bid to “down two American airplanes.” Many of the plots Mohammed … took credit for planning never occurred, but were of a similarly grand scale as the September 11 attacks. Mohammed said that he plotted second wave attacks targeting U.S. skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower, as well as the assassinations of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Pope John Paul II, and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Other crimes he confessed to, according to humorist Don Imus, included the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and the character of J.R. on the soap opera, “Dallas,” in the 1980s. Another cynic suggests he also confessed to the Watergate burglaries, stealing all the “W” keys off White House computers in the early days of the Bush Administration, killing Chandra Levy, causing the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, as well as forcing Scooter Libby to lie to the FBI, firing eight U.S. Attorneys last December and being the “third party” who has caused problems in the Bushes’ marriage.

What? KSM hasn't yet admitted to:

  • the anthrax scare?
  • the Y2K virus?
  • Microsoft Bob (now there's a reference few will know!)?
  • Britney Spears shaving her head?
  • the success of Paris Hilton (ick poo)?
  • Bush's failure to satisfy his National Guard requirements?
  • Bush choking on pretzels, falling off scooters and bikes, et al?
  • the success of Wal-Mart as a way of costing American jobs?
  • most of Imus' pathetic material?

Cartoonists Get It!

This great cartoon on the U.S. attorney firings, complete with Karl Rove and Bush, by Mike Luckavich, just arrived in email from the Center for American Progress.

"What 'Israel's Right To Exist' Means to Palestinians

Although I read the Christian Science Monitor online several times a week, thebhc, posting here in comments, points out an excellent summary of what we "miss" in the way Palestinians and their Arab/Muslim sympathizers interpret "Israel's Right to Exist" vs. "Recognizing Israel's Existence."

It's quite smart analysis; I highly recommend it.

We really must look behind the rhetoric used by lawmakers and others regarding the Middle East problem, where Israel is always the good guy and anyone we looks like a Muslim the bad guy. In truth, both Jews and Muslims in the Middle East have the right to exist and the U.S. and Great Britain, among others, have made the situation since we established (carved out) the state of Israel much worse, almost guaranteeing the hatred and bloodshed we've seen for years.

Until America can stop taking sides, we help guarantee there will be no Middle East peace.

Veteran Dies After Refused Treatment At VA Facility

Monty at Buzzflash brings us this terrible story from Democracy Now about just how well vets - and active duty soldiers - get (mis)treated under the Bush Administration.

"Impeach Bush" Bumperstickers Everywhere

I mentioned back in early January that someone had peppered the area across from the federal building in Burlington with "Impeach Bush" stickers. But now, in fairly heavily Republican neighborhoods here in north central Vermont, and on cars of people that back in 2000 sported "Bush Cheney 2000" stickers (few seemed to boast Bush-Cheney 2004 stickers), I'm seeing "Impeach Bush" stickers everywhere.

Many, interestingly, have the "Impeach Bush" sticker right next to the yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbon sticker (I do not have such a sticker; I try to support troops more directly and not through some company that gives a fraction if any of the sales to troop organizations).


Replace AG Alberto Gonzalez with Federal PlameGate Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald

Steve at The Carpetbagger Report brings us this, by way of WaPo:

a crazy thought: replacing Alberto Gonzales with Patrick Fitzgerald. The WaPo’s Andrew Cohen writes, “Can you think of a better candidate to restore honor and integrity to the Justice Department than the man who just took on the White House, and won, with the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby? Can you think of a person more likely to erase the standing charge of cronyism that seeps through the current administration like a stink bomb?” (thanks to B.P. for the tip)
It's a thought, sure.

Only two major points bother me about the idea. First and foremost, I felt like Fitzgerald kept the investigation and the resulting indictments and later prosecution pretty limited when it's clear that the corruption related to the leak of the name of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame as political payback to her husband, Joe Wilson. Why was Karl Rove not called to account when his name appeared all over the damned place, for example.

Second, he was a major prosecutor in a region that seemed to be caring and feeding - and not prosecuting - one of the assassins of Sadat who also factored into 9-11 and more. Granted, it was the CIA who let this guy in, but Fitzgerald and his then-colleague Rudy Giuliani (ah, there's a name) may have been really cozy with this fellow.

Still, I wouldn't exactly jump in front of a train racing to shed Gone-Gone-Gonzalez and substitute Patrick Fitzgerald in his place.

Valerie Plame: "I Was Outed For Purely Political Reasons"

If you didn't happen to catch former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame - the woman Scooter Libby and perhaps also Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush's Brain, Karl Rove exposed by leaking her identity to the press - testify on Capitol Hill today, you can read the transcript at Think Progress which also has the video of Plame's testimony (I'm sure Crooks and Liars also has the video available - yup, click here).

Here's a sniplet:

I’ve served the United States loyally and to the best of my ability as a covert operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

I worked on behalf of the national security of our country, on behalf of the people of the United States, until my name and true affiliation were exposed in the national media on July 14th, 2003, after a leak by an administration official.

Today I can tell this committee even more.

In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified. I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policymakers on Iraq’s presumed weapons of mass destruction program.
While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.
Meanwhile, far right wing and rabid anti-Clintonite Victoria Toensing (the voice of authority pretty much exclusively for Geraldo) is pissing all over herself insisting that even the head of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, is wrong to admit Plame was a covert spy. Toensing has the ethics of a Bushie and is truthful just about as often (meaning, less than 0%). However, Henry Waxman was ready to grill her most ably.

Valerie Plame: "I Was Outed For Purely Political Reasons"

If you didn't happen to catch former CIA covert operative Valerie Plame - the woman Scooter Libby and perhaps also Vice President Dick Cheney and Bush's Brain, Karl Rove exposed by leaking her identity to the press - testify on Capitol Hill today, you can read the transcript at Think Progress which also has the video of Plame's testimony (I'm sure Crooks and Liars also has the video available - yup, click here).

Here's a sniplet:

I’ve served the United States loyally and to the best of my ability as a covert operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency.

I worked on behalf of the national security of our country, on behalf of the people of the United States, until my name and true affiliation were exposed in the national media on July 14th, 2003, after a leak by an administration official.

Today I can tell this committee even more.

In the run-up to the war with Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified. I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policymakers on Iraq’s presumed weapons of mass destruction program.
While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.
Meanwhile, far right wing and rabid anti-Clintonite Victoria Toensing (the voice of authority pretty much exclusively for Geraldo) is pissing all over herself insisting that even the head of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, is wrong to admit Plame was a covert spy. Toensing has the ethics of a Bushie and is truthful just about as often (meaning, less than 0%). However, Henry Waxman was ready to grill her most ably.

Videotape Proof of Attorney General Gonzalez Flat Out Lying To Congress

And the White House scoffs of Senator Patrick Leahy's insistence that the Senate Judiciary Committee will subpoena and force these Bushies to testify under oath (not that an oath and a pledge to God not to lie will ever stop the Bushies from lying):

As ThinkProgress noted earlier this week, on Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that the Bush administration never intended to take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows the President to appoint “interim” U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period of time, without Senate confirmation.
    I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.
The Washington Post published a front-page story yesterday on these remarks. ThinkProgress has located video of Gonzales apparently lying to Congress.
You can watch the video of the AG's lies under oath (caught on tape) ... er.. testimony at Think Progress.

Gee, a Bush Administration bigwig lying. That NEVER happens (more than 100 times an hour).

Yet More Damned Lies The White House Told Us: Bushies Never Investigated PlameGate

Remember how many times they told us that the White House was aggressively investigating the CIA covert operative leak case and would FIRE anyone they found culpable? Well, as always, this was another lie the White House told us, just like the leak of Plame's name was NOT political playback for the exposing of earlier lies by Plame's husband, former Iraq ambassador Joseph Wilson. From Think Progress:

Dr. James Knodell, director of the Office of Security at the White House, revealed today that to his knowledge the White House has never ordered a probe, report, or sanctions as a result of the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. “I have no knowledge of any investigation in my office,” he said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said he was “shocked” by Knodell’s testimony, adding that the White House’s lack of action was a “breach on top of a breach.”

Knodell claimed the White House did not investigate because there was an outside investigation taking place. But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) noted that the investigation “didn’t start until months and months later, and [only] had the purpose of narrowly looking to see whether there was a criminal law violated.” Waxman asked, “But there was an obligation for the White House to investigate whether classified information was being leaked inappropriately, wasn’t there?” Knodell answered, “If that was the case, yes.”
So nobody got investigated there and sure as hell, no one was ever fired for it.

Also, the White House SAID it was investigating BEFORE the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation and THEN, when the Fitzgerald probe came about, tried to STOP it.

From Siberia To Mud Season To Blizzard Yet Again?

For the first time in three months, temperatures here in Vermont hit above freezing which was great cause for celebration. However, we hit aboving freezing here in South Woodbury with well more than two feet of snow still in place from the St. Valentine's Day record blizzard and a big snowstore after that, which meant that Mud Season (one of the two additional seasons Vermont boasts besides the standard four; Black Fly Season is the other one) commenced.

Now, after days of trying to move along dirt roads where the ruts are two-feet or more deep, in a ride that was FAR more harrowing than anything any amusement park can or would dream up, we're back to just over single digit temps, the mud has frozen and now, we're told to expect a possible blizzard starting before midnight.

Oh goodie. More snow. More stuff to melt next time temps hit the seasonal average of a day-time high of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. So we can either stop freezing our asses off or be forced to stay home OR risk a bad accident OR have frozen toes while you're able to get out of the driveway in the car.

Oh joy. Oh bliss. Oh $@*$!


Bob Herbert: "Indentured Servants In America"

Don't think for a minute that this abuse of poor, often immigrant, workers is few and far between. We have very rich folks, for example, who hire these folks only to then treat them like very real prisoners, locking them into the homes, forcing them to pay extravagant prices for small amounts of food and cigarettes, and making up phony "tax" and other charges along with lies to make sure their "employees" feel their very lives are endanger if they so much as walk out the door on their own.

Read all of Bob Herbert's column here or content yourself with my byte:

A must-read for anyone who favors an expansion of guest worker programs in the U.S. is a stunning new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that details the widespread abuse of highly vulnerable, poverty-stricken workers in programs that already exist.

The report is titled “Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States.” It will be formally released today at a press conference in Washington.

Workers recruited from Mexico, South America, Asia and elsewhere to work in American hotels and in such labor-intensive industries as forestry, seafood processing and construction are often ruthlessly exploited.

They are routinely cheated out of their wages, which are low to begin with. They are bound like indentured servants to the middlemen and employers who arrange their work tours in the U.S. And they are virtual hostages of the American companies that employ them.

The law does not allow these “guests” to change jobs while they’re here. If a particular employer is unscrupulous, as is very often the case, the worker has little or no recourse.

One of the guest workers profiled in the report was a psychology student recruited in the Dominican Republic to work at a hotel in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The woman had taken on $4,000 in debt to cover “fees” and other expenses that were required for her to get a desk job that paid $6 an hour.

But after a month, her hours were steadily reduced until she was working only 15 or 20 hours a week. That left her with barely enough money to survive, and with no way of paying off her crushing debt.

The woman and her fellow guest workers had hardly enough money for food. “We would just buy Chinese food because it was the cheapest,” she said. “We would buy one plate a day and share it between two or three people.” She told the authors of the report: “I felt like an animal without claws — defenseless. It is the same as slavery.”
The rest is available here.

Sheik Mohammed And The Beheading of Journalist Daniel Pearl: How Do You Trust The Confessions Of The Tortured

Today, the Bushies purposely let slip that Sheikh Mohammed, whom we've had in custody for more than a few years and whom we apparently torture on a near daily basis (Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld both noted he was an excellent candidate for "waterboarding" torture to find the truth, has claimed he was responsible for the kidnapping and videotaped execution of American journalist Daniel Pearl. They also claim he's admitted to being one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Reports AP:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's capture four years ago didn't shut down al-Qaida or bring the Americans to Osama bin Laden. But if his mega-confession is to be believed, his arrest was a crushing blow to bin Laden's plans for even more deadly attacks in the wake of 9/11.
But after more than four years in custody, and exposed to torture-torture-torture, how can we be sure what he really did or didn't do? That's one of the huge problems with torture; the information you get is notoriously unreliable. I don't buy that these admissions are true when they were elicited so very long after his capture.

Actually, I can say that there have been at least four or five separate statements/alerts offered up by Sheikh Mohammed in the past that turned out to be completely false, including some of the silliest possible attack on America scenarios. Yet now, the Bushies insist we believe him. Right.

Was Corruption And Extreme Human Rights Abuses Reason For High Profile Soldier Suicide in Iraq?

I recommend everyone read Greg Mitchell's latest "Pressing Issues" column at Editor and Publisher because it casts light into some very dark and murky corners of the whole Iraq war and the Bush Administration's management of it:

Col. Ted Westhusing, a West Point scholar, put a bullet in his head in Iraq after reporting widespread corruption. His suicide note -- complaining about human rights abuses and other crimes -- was addressed to his two commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, now leader of the U.S. "surge" effort in Iraq. It urged them to "Reevaluate yourselves....You are not what you think you are and I know it."

Israel Refuses To Work With Palestinian Coalition

I hear what Israel says about the Palestinian groups not fully recognizing the Jewish state, but at the same time, Israel does not recognize them so we'll continue to see the same cycle of violence. From AP:

The Islamic militant Hamas and its Fatah rivals forged a unity government Thursday to end a year of political wrangling, isolation and bloodshed. Israel quickly rejected it, saying it failed to recognize the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said he hoped the new government would "launch a new era" for the Palestinians, putting an end to bloody infighting while satisfying international demands ahead of a crucial Arab summit in Saudi Arabia at the end of the month and a visit to the region this weekend by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israel urged its Western allies to maintain an aid embargo imposed after Hamas won election in January 2006 and set up a government by itself.

Initial U.S. and European reaction to the new Palestinian team was cool, while Russia was relatively upbeat.

The West cut off aid to the Palestinians a year ago, labeling Hamas a terror group and forcing it to agree to bring Fatah, the movement of moderate President Mahmoud Abbas, back as a junior partner. Both sides said the main goal was to stop clashes that have taken more than 140 lives in recent months, but restoration of aid and resumption of the peace dialogue with Israel remained high priorities.

A dormant Saudi peace plan from 2002 is expected to resurface at the March 28-29 Riyadh summit, putting pressure on Israel to respond. The plan offers Israel recognition if it withdraws from the West Bank and east Jerusalem and refers to the right of Palestinian refugees from the 1948-49 Mideast war and their descendants to return to their homes.
We've heard rumblings that Condi Rice is having her first real fight with George Bush because she supposedly feels that Israel is deliberately blocking peace efforts while Bush just says, "Anything Israel does is great with me, no matter how extreme!"

Beware The Ides of March

Ah, but too bad that President Bush today didn't have his Julius Caesar moment, where two of his own cut him to the quick while he lay dying and uttered, "Et tu, Brute?"


So More Than A Million Documents Go In The Deep Freeze?

Mind you, for the record amounts - in the hundreds of billions - spent on so-called homeland security, we KNOW we aren't any safer (in fact, with Bush's charge, likely far LESS safe) but these bozos pull all these documents anyway:

More than 1 million pages of historical government documents — a stack taller than the U.S. Capitol — have been removed from public view since the September 2001 terror attacks, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Some of the papers are more than a century old.

In some cases, entire file boxes were removed without significant review because the government's central record-keeping agency, the National Archives and Records Administration, did not have time for a more thorough audit."We just felt we couldn't take the time and didn't always have the expertise," said Steve Tilley, who oversaw the program. Archives officials are still screening records, but the number of files pulled recently has declined dramatically, he said.

The records administration began removing materials under its "records of concern" program, launched in November 2001 after the Justice Department instructed agencies to be more guarded in releasing government papers. The agency has removed about 1.1 million pages, according to partially redacted monthly progress reports reviewed by the AP. The reports were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The pulled records include the presumably dangerous, such as nearly half an enormous database from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information about all federal facilities. But they also include the presumably useless, such as part of a collection about the Lower Colorado River Authority that includes 114-year-old papers.About 80 cubic feet of naval facility plans and blueprints — on microfilm, about 200,000 pages — were withdrawn since the agency said it didn't have time to go through each individual document.

With Friends Like "Friends of Israel", Does Israel Need Any More Enemies?

The previous post re: Israel and civil rights reminds me of this scary story in Talk2Action, one of those evangelical fanatical rightwing groups "dedicated" to the Israeli state in a way that only sees Israel as a necessary component in their rush to "End Times/Rapture":

"Christians United For Israel" founder John Hagee blames Jews for the Holocaust, says the Nazis worked for God, and warns of an "Illuminati", international banker "One World Order" conspiracy. "Friend of Israel" Hagee got a standing ovation from Senators and Congress members at AIPAC last Sunday. Here's what some of his allies envision for Jews.
So senators and congressmen just love this "final holocaust" scenario as they brown nose for votes and donations? Doesn't matter that in the "Friends of Israel" scenario, they don't want any Jew left standing; all must convert to Christianity or perish forever.

Sickening. Beyond sickening.

"Civil Rights Under Siege In Israel"

This letter from Mark Hage of Montpelier in the Time Argus, I believe, states some excellent points:

Thank you for your editorial ("Israel's Dilemma," Feb. 23) on the controversy in Israel over a manifesto that calls for the country, officially a "Jewish state," to become a bi-national state with full equality for all citizens.

Since the mid-90s, Palestinian citizens have intensified their political and legal efforts to achieve the same rights as Jews. There are more than one million Palestinian citizens in Israel, and they live under apartheid-like conditions. Hundreds of rural communities have been established since Israel was created in 1948, but are closed to Arab citizens. For 60 years, vast tracts of private Arab landholdings have been confiscated by government authorities to benefit Jews exclusively.

Most Palestinian children, prior to the university level, attend segregated, inferior and under-funded schools. Arab towns, the poorest in the country, are short-changed annually when it comes to municipal budgets and funding infrastructure projects.

Palestinians are no strangers to police brutality, and Israeli cops, like Jewish soldiers, are prone to being trigger-happy when their weapons are aimed at Arabs. In October, 2000, police shot dead 12 unarmed Palestinians and a man from Gaza during protests against Israel's repressive measures in the occupied territories. No Jewish officers were indicted for this atrocity.

Job discrimination against Palestinian workers is widespread, and substantial sectors of the Israeli economy are off-limits to them. The civil service is the country' largest employer, but in 2004, just 5 percent of its 55,000 workers were Palestinian. Islamic and Christian holy sites get a pittance of their funding from public coffers, and according to English journalist Jonathan Cook, "almost all of the Muslim and Christian holy places that existed in Israel before 1948 have been destroyed, fenced off, locked up or converted for the use of Jewish communities."

Israel is confronting a civil rights movement within its 1967 borders, and a national liberation struggle in the West Bank and Gaza. Both challenge the fundamental tenets and structures of Zionism, which elevate Jewish blood, privilege and religion over democracy, equality and the rule of law.

Mark Hage


Double Tragedy in Cabot

Those who watch Vermont news no doubt heard of the death by hit-and-run driver of a 27-year-old Cabot man, Jason Bear, Sunday evening, left to die in a ditch along the side of Route 215. The tragedy was compounded when it was discovered that the person who hit this by all accounts sensitive young father of a five-year-old son was none other than his stepfather, a man my age, also of Cabot, William Luther.

I realized I was probably in the same store when the dead young man was looking at DVDs and was traveling along that same road myself that evening. I wish I had some sense of what had happened so I could have gotten this young man assistance since he may have lived for some time after he was hit.

Many locals have criticized Luther for the action - not just leaving the scene of an accident and not trying to get his stepson help - but also for trying to cover up his crime by damaging his Jeep by first running it into a cement buttress and then into trees before he arranged to have the vehicle towed some distance away. But I suspect this was just a very sad case of someone panicking and then, as a result, doing absolutely everything wrong. I doubt those who make such mistakes ever believe ahead of time they would be capable of going to such lengths but, in truth, tragically, it happens all the time.

The only part of this that angers me is that Luther, like so many others, used, "I was drinking" as an excuse for what happened. But drinking and driving is a conscious act, so when you drink alcohol (or take drugs) and then get behind the wheel, "I was drunk" simply is no excuse. It enrages me everytime I hear someone use drugs or alcohol as a defense against an act they commit.

Otherwise, however, this case just saddens me: one life destroyed, another well on its way to such, and the rest of the family and close friends left to grieve for what might have been if Luther had not been drinking or out driving, or if he'd sought help for Bear immediately.

Bush's Personal Goon Squad

As raised here, in Paul Krugman's op/ed in The Times on Monday, and throughout hundreds if not thousands of blog entries around the blogosphere, virtually no one is surprised by the revelations that Bush and his henchhog, Karl Rove, have basically used U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the entire (In)Justice Department as their personal goon squad: wiping out any federal prosecutor who would not bend to their will, who refused to "invent" indictments against Democrats (not that Dems don't engage in bad behavior, mind you, but it's clear the Bushies and Republicans were willing to resort to fiction here) or continued - damn them! - to investigate the many abuses by Republicans who took their Congressional majority as a license to loot and plunder and rape American laws, American taxpayers, and whoever else they could.

But we need not only to look long and hard at what the Bushies did with these fired federal prosecutors - and what Scooter Libby and his pals did to CIA covert operative Valerie Plame - but also beyond to the many other means and agencies have been called upon to serve the dark masters of the Bush Administration. Agencies like the IRS (whose mandate to go after ever smaller taxpayers often means creating fear in such taxpayers to speak out) and others. I suspect we'd be bowled-over by what they find even if they just rub a tiny bit at the surface. After all, the Bushies have been so certain of their "mandate" that they rarely have bothered to hide their tracks well, since they felt assured they were in control of those who would investigate.

Neat trick.

Paul Krugman: "Overblown Personnel Matters"

Paul Krugman - if you'll excuse the phrase (and note, I should get 10 cents royalty fee anytime anyone uses the phrase "cut to the chase - ha!) - cuts to the chase on the issue of the fired U.S. attorneys general, Karl Rove and the White House's fingerprints all over running Alberto Gonzalez' Justice Department like it was Bush's own personal goon squad* (see next post), the investigations into GOP lawmaker corruption and voting fraud the firing of the federal prosecutors was done to squelch, and much, much more.

Read it all at Rozius Unbound or satisfy yourself with this hearty byte:

Nobody is surprised to learn that the Justice Department was lying when it claimed that recently fired federal prosecutors were dismissed for poor performance. Nor is anyone surprised to learn that White House political operatives were pulling the strings.

What is surprising is how fast the truth is emerging about what Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, dismissed just five days ago as an “overblown personnel matter.”

Sources told Newsweek that the list of prosecutors to be fired was drawn up by Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff, “with input from the White House.” And Allen Weh, the chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, told McClatchy News that he twice sought Karl Rove’s help — the first time via a liaison, the second time in person — in getting David Iglesias, the state’s U.S. attorney, fired for failing to indict Democrats. “He’s gone,” he claims Mr. Rove said.

After that story hit the wires, Mr. Weh claimed that his conversation with Mr. Rove took place after the decision to fire Mr. Iglesias had already been taken. Even if that’s true, Mr. Rove should have told Mr. Weh that political interference in matters of justice is out of bounds; Mr. Weh’s account of what he said sounds instead like the swaggering of a two-bit thug.

And the thuggishness seems to have gone beyond firing prosecutors who didn’t deliver the goods for the G.O.P. One of the fired prosecutors was — as he saw it — threatened with retaliation by a senior Justice Department official if he discussed his dismissal in public. Another was rejected for a federal judgeship after administration officials, including then-White House counsel Harriet Miers, informed him that he had “mishandled” the 2004 governor’s race in Washington, won by a Democrat, by failing to pursue vote-fraud charges.

As I said, none of this is surprising. The Bush administration has been purging, politicizing and de-professionalizing federal agencies since the day it came to power. But in the past it was able to do its business with impunity; this time Democrats have subpoena power, and the old slime-and-defend strategy isn’t working.

You also have to wonder whether new signs that Mr. Gonzales and other administration officials are willing to cooperate with Congress reflect the verdict in the Libby trial. It probably comes as a shock to realize that even Republicans can face jail time for lying under oath.

Still, a lot of loose ends have yet to be pulled. We now know exactly why Mr. Iglesias was fired, but still have to speculate about some of the other cases — in particular, that of Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for Southern California.

Ms. Lam had already successfully prosecuted Representative Randy Cunningham, a Republican. Just two days before leaving office she got a grand jury to indict Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor, and Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the former third-ranking official at the C.I.A. (Mr. Foggo was brought in just after the 2004 election, when, reports said, the administration was trying to purge the C.I.A. of liberals.) And she was investigating Jerry Lewis, Republican of California, the former head of the House Appropriations Committee.

Was Ms. Lam dumped to protect corrupt Republicans? The administration says no, a denial that, in light of past experience, is worth precisely nothing. But how do Congressional investigators plan to get to the bottom of this story?

...In other words, the truth about that “overblown personnel matter” has only begun to be told. The good news is that for the first time in six years, it’s possible to hope that all the facts about a Bush administration scandal will come out in Congressional hearings — or, if necessary, in the impeachment trial of Alberto Gonzales.
The rest is here.


For Halliburton, There Is No Such Thing As "Too Skanky"

As if Halliburton hasn't done enough to American taxpayers and soldiers - and the White House hasn't done way more than enough FOR Halliburton - comes two "way past low" additions to Halliburton's resume:

1) Someone at the White House (could it possibly be Vice President Dick Cheney who just happened to be Halliburton's CEO just before he went to Washington and started handing over the Treasury to them?) pressured the Army to privitize health care for sick and wounded GIs, which meant much of Walter Reed patient care got entrusted to Halliburton which (for a company willing to double-and-triple bill American taxpayers to serve spoiled food to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan) helped create the crisis at Walter Reed and similar GI health institutions (Hat tip to Prairie Weather)

2) Halliburton, already avoiding paying taxes here by incorporating in the Cayman Islands while collecting tens if not hundreds of billions in U.S. defense contracts is now going to set up its base of operations in Dubai (a very strange country filled with people who are NOT U.S. friendly) to escape MORE taxes AND try to evade subpoenas for all the crap it's done in its U.S. contracts


Frank Rich: "Why Libby's Pardon Is A Slam Dunk"

Sadly, I fully agree with Frank Rich: it is not a question of whether President Bush will grant Vice President Dick Cheney's former senior staffer, Scooter Libby, a full pardon, but WHEN. As much as experts say he really can't do this until he ends his presidency in January 2009, I would not be surprised if it happened within weeks from now. Read all of Rich at Rozius Unbound, or settle for this big snip:

Even by Washington’s standards, few debates have been more fatuous or wasted more energy than the frenzied speculation over whether President Bush will or will not pardon Scooter Libby. Of course he will.

A president who tries to void laws he doesn’t like by encumbering them with “signing statements” and who regards the Geneva Conventions as a nonbinding technicality isn’t going to start playing by the rules now. His assertion last week that he is “pretty much going to stay out of” the Libby case is as credible as his pre-election vote of confidence in Donald Rumsfeld. The only real question about the pardon is whether Mr. Bush cares enough about his fellow Republicans’ political fortunes to delay it until after Election Day 2008.

Either way, the pardon is a must for Mr. Bush. He needs Mr. Libby to keep his mouth shut. Cheney’s Cheney knows too much about covert administration schemes far darker than the smearing of Joseph Wilson. Though Mr. Libby wrote a novel that sank without a trace a decade ago, he now has the makings of an explosive Washington tell-all that could be stranger than most fiction and far more salable.

Mr. Libby’s novel was called “The Apprentice.” His memoir could be titled “The Accomplice.” Its first chapter would open in August 2002, when he and a small cadre of administration officials including Karl Rove formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a secret task force to sell the Iraq war to the American people. The climactic chapter of the Libby saga unfolded last week when the guilty verdict in his trial coincided, all too fittingly, with the Congressional appearance of two Iraq veterans, one without an ear and one without an eye, to recount their subhuman treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

It was WHIG’s secret machinations more than four years ago that led directly to those shredded lives. WHIG had been tasked, as The Washington Post would later uncover, to portray Iraq’s supposedly imminent threat to America with “gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.” In other words, WHIG was to cook up the sexiest recipe for promoting the war, facts be damned. So it did, by hyping the scariest possible scenario: nuclear apocalypse. As Michael Isikoff and David Corn report in “Hubris,” it was WHIG (equipped with the slick phrase-making of the White House speechwriter Michael Gerson) that gave the administration its Orwellian bumper sticker, the constantly reiterated warning that Saddam’s “smoking gun” could be “a mushroom cloud.”

Ever since all the W.M.D. claims proved false, the administration has pleaded that it was duped by the same bad intelligence everyone else saw. But the nuclear card, the most persistent and gripping weapon in the prewar propaganda arsenal, was this White House’s own special contrivance. Mr. Libby was present at its creation. He knows what Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney knew about the manufacture of this fiction and when they knew it.

Clearly they knew it early on. The administration’s guilt (or at least embarrassment) about its lies in fomenting the war quickly drove it to hide the human price being paid for those lies. (It also tried to hide the financial cost of the war by keeping it out of the regular defense budget, but that’s another, if related, story.) The steps the White House took to keep casualties out of view were extraordinary, even as it deployed troops to decorate every presidential victory rally and gave the Pentagon free rein to exploit the sacrifices of Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman in mendacious P.R. stunts.

The administration’s enforcement of a prohibition on photographs of coffins returning from Iraq was the first policy manifestation of the hide-the-carnage strategy. It was complemented by the president’s decision to break with precedent, set by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter among others, and refuse to attend military funerals, lest he lend them a media spotlight. But Mark Benjamin, who has chronicled the mistreatment of Iraq war veterans since 2003, discovered an equally concerted effort to keep injured troops off camera. Mr. Benjamin wrote in Salon in 2005 that “flights carrying the wounded arrive in the United States only at night” and that both Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda barred the press “from seeing or photographing incoming patients.”

A particularly vivid example of the extreme measures taken by the White House to cover up the war’s devastation turned up in The Washington Post’s Walter Reed exposé. Sgt. David Thomas, a Tennessee National Guard gunner with a Purple Heart and an amputated leg, found himself left off the guest list for a summer presidential ceremony honoring a fellow amputee after he said he would be wearing shorts, not pants, when occupying a front-row seat in camera range. Now we can fully appreciate that bizarre incident on C-Span in October 2003, when an anguished Cher, of all unlikely callers, phoned in to ask why administration officials, from the president down, were not being photographed with patients like those she had visited at Walter Reed. “I don’t understand why these guys are so hidden,” she said.

The answer is simple: Out of sight, out of mind was the game plan, and it has been enforced down to the tiniest instances. When HBO produced an acclaimed (and apolitical) documentary last year about military medics’ remarkable efforts to save lives in Iraq, “Baghdad ER,” Army brass at the last minute boycotted planned promotional screenings in Washington and at Fort Campbell, Ky. In a memo, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley warned that the film, though made with Army cooperation, could endanger veterans’ health by provoking symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The General Kiley who was so busy policing an HBO movie for its potential health hazards is the same one who did not correct the horrific real-life conditions on his watch at Walter Reed. After the Post exposé was published, he tried to spin it by boasting that most of the medical center’s rooms “were actually perfectly O.K.” and scapegoating “soldiers leaving food in their rooms” for the mice and cockroach infestations. That this guy is still surgeon general of the Army — or was as of Friday — makes you wonder what he, like Mr. Libby, has on his superiors.
The rest is here.

PSA: Spring Ahead...

Uh... you need to change your clocks to reflect this far-earlier-than-normal Daylight Savings Time arrival at 2 AM Sunday (presented to us by a Congress that insists:

1) global warming is a myth,
2) that the supply of fossil fuels is infinite as long as we
a) keep attacking and "liberating" oil producing nations and
b) pretend that dinosaurs live concurrently with humans and
3) won't do anything more useful to address the energy crisis than fuck around with the time while they drive their honkingly huge SUVs around with nobody else in the vehicle)

This public service announcement (PSA) is brought to you by the same person who tells you that the only mankind-contemporaneous dinosaurs among us are in Congress.