Sunday, July 31, 2005

Delay overdue for a public barbecue

Lex Alexander points us to Think Progress who has the latest on Delay's dirty tricks. He cuts a prime cut of pork for the rogues back home from the convoluted energy bill that's about to make its way into law .
DeLay slipped “a $1.5 billion giveaway to the oil industry, Halliburton, and Sugar Land, Texas” into the energy bill.
But this isn’t a normal case of government pork. DeLay has completely dispensed with the democratic process. From a letter Rep. Henry Waxman just sent Speaker Dennis Hastert:
The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure.
The $1.5 billion won’t be administered by the government by a private consortium in DeLay’s district:
The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Ordinarily, a large fund like this would be administered directly by the government.

I can't figure out if the guy is simply amoral or so divorced from reality that he thinks he can get away with any bloody outrageous breach of ethics he likes. I'm inclined to think he's simply lost his mind altogether. After all, this is the guy who thinks he is the government.

Hello Congress. Isn't it about time to skewer this porker?
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What we're really fighting

Unfortunately, it's simple disinterest in public policy.
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The power of jury nullification

You usually hear of this in the context of drug cases but in these days of draconian sentencing and the prosecution of political dissenters, it's a subject worth discussing outside of that frame. Radley Balko posts a brilliant column on jury nullification. This is the check on the balance of power available to ordinary citizens. I urge you to read the whole thing, it's not long, but here's the money quotes.
The doctrine of jury nullification rests on two truths about the American criminal justice system: (1) Jurors can never be punished for the verdict they return, and (2) Defendants cannot be retried once a jury has found them not guilty, regardless of the jury's reasoning.
The first point is not necessarily true. I'm aware of at least one case in Massachusetts where a lone juror was arrested on other charges after having evoked nullification. While she wasn't directly punished for exercising that right, the arrest was clearly linked to her decision. I'm also reminded of arrests made outside of courthouses of pamphleteers who attempted to distribute information to incoming jurors on the subject. The court clearly doesn't relish having it's authority undermined. Nonetheless, although it takes courage to employ this tactic, it is our right as citizens to do so.
Here in America, the Founding Fathers understood the importance of allowing juries to determine not just the guilt or innocence of the man on trial, but the justice and fairness of the law he's charged with breaking. John Adams said of jury nullification, "It is not only [the juror's] right, but his find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, said "The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy."

...In recent times, the doctrine has become almost obsolete. Judges routinely instruct jurors that they are not to determine the justness of the law in question, only whether the defendant is guilty of breaking it. This is simply not true.

...In fact, the Supreme Court has since repeatedly upheld the doctrine of nullification. In 1952, for example, the Court found that "juries are not bound by what seems inescapable logic to judges." And in 1972, that "The pages of history shine on instances of the jury's exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge."

...Serve when you're called to jury duty, and while there, refuse to enforce unjust laws. If a defendant is guilty of harming someone else, certainly, throw the book at him. But if he's guilty of violating a bad law, or if you feel the law has been unjustly applied to him, by all means, come back with "not guilty," no matter what the judge, the prosecutor, or the evidence says.

We have the power, it's up to us to use it.
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A simple sorry would suffice

A week ago, a deafening howl of righteous indignation arose from the right wing media machine about the vandalism of 20 American flags at the funeral of a fallen soldier from Iraq. Ever so quick to seize the spin and assign blame, the blog headers shouted - Leftists hit new low, burn funeral flags - blah, blah, blah....

Now that the truth has come out, the silence is equally deafening.
Two teenage boys were charged Thursday with burning 20 small American flags set up in honor of a soldier who died from injuries suffered in the Iraq war.
Police said the boys apparently did not know the significance of the flags they took from the yard and set afire under a car belonging to the soldier's sister-in-law. The vehicle was destroyed.

...The boys, ages 15 and 13, were arrested Thursday and charged with one count of arson and two counts of criminal mischief before being released to their parents.

Police did not identify the boys, but said they also were involved in other vandalism that morning.
Perhaps if the war debt wasn't bleeding our municipal coffers dry, our communities could afford to institute recreational programs for teens to keep them away from such boredom induced troublemaking.

As we said at the time, the vandalism could have been committed by anyone. The righter-than-thou "higher beings" of the ecoblogical order owe us an apology. I have a Kennedy half dollar that says we won't get one.

Update: Well there goes another fifty cent piece and well spent. Glenn Reynolds, had not seen the story and to his credit, says he will correct the record. To that The Impolitic can only say, thanks.

Update two: Gee whiz, just when you think these guys are going to ignore you as usual, they come through and do the right thing. Thanks to Captain Ed for a kind and really classy apology. I don't think it's all about me, but somehow I feel a lot better.
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Condi stands at center of Traitorgate

Time to add an overlooked name to the burgeoning list of potential players in this reality show. Jeralyn points us to an excellent timeline put together by Roger Morris at Common Dreams on just how Condi Rice fits into the Plame puzzle.

Starting in 1995, within the same time frame that saw PNAC proponents begin to consolidate their power, Morris traces the "motive, means and opportunity" that suggests Ms. Rice was a key spider in spinning this web of deceit that led us to war.

Morris untangles the complicated strings and lays out a straight line of evidence that ties Condi to the rest of the White House rogues who perpetrated this fraud on the American people. A must read for those who are hacking through the rhetoric to find the truth about treason.
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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lies or inaccurate information?

Don Surber checks into comments on this post to disagree with my position. He says, "No investigative reporters do not lie. Sorry. They investigate."

I have to differ, particularly in this case. I'm the last one to defend dishonesty, but at a time when undercover police routinely mix into student bodies in order to effect small time drug busts, I don't see how you can expect a 17 year old kid to make a moral judgment about conducting a sting investigation.

The cop is lying by Don's standard and yet he is praised for exposing a crime. The teenager is criticized for emulating authority figures and effectively doing the same thing. What's the difference? One could argue any such operation requires a disguise.

Sorry, but the kid exposed a serious breach of ethics in our military recruiting practices that you can be certain is being played out across America, even in West Virginia. I can't think of another way he could have accomplished it and he documented his work meticulously.

My praise stands. We owe him a debt of thanks for exposing a corrupt practice.
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Power from the people

The White House assault on state's rights continues.
Congress is about to enact a new energy bill that would severely limit the power of coastal states and municipalities to veto the construction of massive, and potentially dangerous, liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals in their harbors. If it becomes law, federal authorities would gain the power to overrule states and municipalities in choosing locations for these terminals.
Think of this in context of the Raich and Kelo decisions. Then remember Pat Robert's known record to date. Still having trouble imaging the new federal police state?
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I had a dream

It wasn't a nightmare exactly, but last night I dreamt that I was hanging around with George Bush. We were sitting in the bleachers of an empty stadium. I don't remember what we talked about but it was a cordial conversation. He gave me a roach clip, one of those electrical clippy things we used to use in the 60s. He reached over and clipped it to the bottom of my jacket.

I think I need a vacation.
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Troops suffer for their service

The VA is overwhelmed and the Republican controlled Congress is only just now scrambling to restore funding they abolished in a Democrat sponsored bill of last year.
Thirty percent of U.S. troops returning from the Iraq war have developed stress-related mental health problems three to four months after coming home, the Army’s surgeon general said Thursday.
Meanwhile, a new study released in May reveals, "Combat veterans of three major wars were significantly more likely to become heavy drinkers, heavy smokers, and obese than non-combat vets were."

Clearly military service is not good for your health.
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Friday, July 29, 2005

Must be the planets

I haven't seen such a rousing debate over at the Detroit weblog since election 04, both on the front page and in the comment section.

If you never visit me over there, now is the time to check it out. My personal favorite line of the last two days worth of posts, is immodestly my own. In defense of the CIA, I said,

Our current morass is the result of our President's willful ingnorance. To paraphase the old saw, you can lead a man bent on war to good intelligence, but you can't make him think.
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Somebody give this guy a job

Well this can't be good. Cookie Jill sends us to Wired today for this disturbing report.
A bug discovered in an operating system that runs the majority of the world's computer networks would, if exploited, allow an attacker to bring down the nation's critical infrastructure, a computer security researcher said Wednesday against threat of a lawsuit.

"There are people out there looking for it, there are people who have probably found it who could be using it against either national infrastructure or any enterprise," said Ali-Reza Anghaie, a senior security engineer with an aerospace firm, who was in the audience.
Even a technodope like myself can appreciate the seriousness of this problem.
The flaw that Lynn described would also allow more subtle attacks, because it permits a sophisticated attacker to gain complete control of the router. An attacker could sniff all traffic going over a network and alter it to, for example, read e-mail, prevent it from reaching its recipient or even change words in a message without the correspondents knowing.
It's serious enough that the company didn't want it disclosed until after they came up with a fix. As if pretending it doesn't exist would make it go away. Good for this guy for putting his principles and the public safety ahead of his personal security.
Lynn closed his talk by directing the audience to his resume and asking if anyone could give him a job.

"In large part I had to quit to give this presentation because ISS and Cisco would rather the world be at risk, I guess," Lynn said. "They had to do what's right for their shareholders; I understand that. But I figured I needed to do what's right for the country and for the national critical infrastructure."
I hope he gets a lot of offers.
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Oh, he forgot to tell the truth

What is it with Bush nominations and faulty memory problems? Are they all early Alzheimer's victims? Today's announcement of pre-dementia comes from the State Dept, who acknowledge that John Bolton "gave inaccurate answers," when he submitted written testimony to the Congressional Foreign Relations Committee.
"When Mr. Bolton completed his form during the Senate confirmation process he did not recall being interviewed by the State Department inspector general. Therefore his form as submitted was inaccurate in this regard and he will correct the form," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Earlier, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware said he had information Bolton was interviewed as part of a State Department-CIA joint investigation on intelligence lapses that led to the Bush administration's pre-Iraq war claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.
Honey, where I come from that's called bald faced lying and it's painfully apparent he's only owning up because he was caught red-handed. Not surprising that Bush will now circumvent Congress and slide the BS throwing Bolton into the ambassadorship behind Congress's back, via a recess appointment.

And how interesting that Bolton's memory lapse centers around that fictional Niger yellowcake uranium. It appears the entire White House has miraculously forgotten the details of just who started that whole lying mess, a mere two years later. I guess they must have all dipped into the same bad batch of Kool-Aid.

How many more lies will it take before reasonable Republicans stop supporting this White House? Seems to me, we're long overdue for a coup.
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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Protect the internet

The LAT reports the FCC received over 10,000 emails on Wednesday objecting to the acquisition of Adelphia Communications Corp. by the nation's two leading cable TV providers — Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp.
FCC officials say the outpouring of disapproval was unusual for a media merger and was more commonly associated with issues such as media ownership.

Despite the objections, however, analysts said regulators were unlikely to block the $17.6-billion deal, which was struck in April pending approval of regulators and the Bankruptcy Court. Adelphia filed for bankruptcy protection three years ago amid an accounting scandal.
What? Why do they bother to solicit public opinion if they intend to ignore it? Fortunately, with the agency short a member and evenly split with two Republicans and two Democrats, any controversial decision will be stalemated until September when they can stack the deck again with another Republican.

This buys us some time to make our preference known on new media consolidation rules, which are pending. Free Press has an easy to send form letter but even better to send your own.
The Adelphia deal would give Comcast nearly 24 million subscribers, or about 26% of the nation's 92 million pay-TV customers, while giving Time Warner more than 13 million customers, or a 15% market share.
This is especially troubling in light of the fact that Comcast, in cahoots with Symantec, successfully conspired to block emails in the week prior to their third anniversary event - adversely impacting attendance at the events.

You have until August 8th to contact the FCC. Do it now.
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Jessica Simpson does Iraq

I'm so out of touch with pop culture, although I recognize the name, I honestly don't know who she is. Nonetheless, I posted on this in Detroit this morning on the premise it would be of interest to my Motown readers. Jessica and her husband were in Iraq as part of a recent ABC TV variety special.
But all the controversial moments and harrowing footage of the trip didn't appear in the fun-filled TV show.

Simpson says, "It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced.

"It put everything in perspective for me. It really did teach me the definition of sacrifice. I can't even fathom being out there right now. I was ready to come home."
I wasn't going to post it here, however Don Surber's post on the subject brought the story into a new light.

Don is the editor of a West Virginia newspaper. He just started a blog, and he's become a new fav of Glenn Reynolds so he can hardly be called a liberal, but he had such a non-partisan and civilized take on it, that I want to pass it on. He says in part:

Her complaint seems valid. If television can fixate on her confusion over Chicken of the Sea being tuna instead of poultry, surely it has room for footage that defines sacrifice.

Mrs. Lachey's complaint is a reminder of some great human beings in the entertainment industry who are showing their support of the troops by taking USO tours.

Some of them no doubt oppose the war. Well, who the hell really likes a war? Robin Williams was one of the first to visit Afghanistan. He's done Iraq.

Since 9/11, USO tours have included such stars as:

Coolio. Mariah Carey. J. Lo. Kid Rock. Ja Rule. Wayne Newton. Jessica Simpson. Neal McCoy. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.Sherri Saum. Cheryl Ladd. James Reynolds. Dennis Farina.Cast members from "Stargate SG-1." Joan Jett. Chris Isaak. Dwight Yoakam. Cedric the Entertainer. Willie Barcena. Jay Leno. Drew Carey. Gary Sinese.

Some of these stars probably oppose the war. But they support the troops. For what it's worth, I support the stars. They are heroes.
It's so refreshing to hear something that positive coming from the "other" side. It almost restores my hope for the return of civilized discourse.
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Work for us and like it - or else

This kind of says is all about what's ailing, as editor Don Surber puts it, the Dead Tree Media. It's one thing to prohibit criticism of the boss at the workplace. Their place, their rules, but when management wants to make bitching about the boss over a beer after work, a fireable offense - that treads on sacred ground.

Putting aside that an industry that operates under the grace of the first amendment has no business abridging free speech, attempting to destroy such a time honored tradition is short sighted and dangerous. If employees aren't allowed to vent a little steam about their greivances after work, they'll hold them until they explode in the workplace someday. I believe the term is called "going postal."

Come to think of it, I wonder if the post office enforces that rule themselves? It could explain the inordinate number of workplace shootings.
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Friedman and O'Reilly dance for Bush

The White House has a new media dream team. FAIR reports on Tom Friedman and Bill O'Reilly, who do a little pas de deux for Bush and call for the suppression of dissent.

In support of the newly renamed Eternal Struggle against Violent Extremism, Friedman calls us one step below terrorists and calls for the creation of a government blacklist. O'Reilly takes it a step further and calls for the jailing of anyone who dares suggest there is a nexus between our current foreign policy and the rise in worldwide terrorism.

According to these guys, we're at war and we're going to bring freedom and democracy to the "heathens" if we have to kill every last one of them to do it. In their minds, any calls for reasoned responses, diplomacy or understanding of other cultures is tantamount to treason.

You think they made that up themselves, or do you think Rove wrote that stuff for them?
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Traitorgate cracks open a little wider

Curiouser and curiouser. The WaPo reports on the newly emerging witness list. It seems Fitzgerald interviewed George Tenet and various other CIA and State Dept. brass back in 04. Not to mention a "stranger" that approached Novak on the street. Anybody else thinking it might have been Jeff Gannon?

Barbara O'Brien collects the pertinent facts and finds shots fired across the bow between the CIA and the White House with Fitzgerald is in the crosshairs as well. Must read post of the day along with the links.

Now I don't want to get my hopes up and put too much stock in this, but remember that in the end, it was the CIA that really took down Nixon. It may well be the agency is tired enough of playing the goat for this White House, that history will repeat itself.
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Rummy does Iraq

Lessons of history. Agitprop says it all a few words and couple of pictures. What a difference a couple of decades make - or not.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It's a teenage wasteland

This bothers me. A quote from the latest coverage on David McSwane, the teenage journalist who ran a sting on his local recruiting office.
McSwane says his scrupulous documentation has for the most part prevented naysayers from calling his investigation false. Still, he says, some have questioned the ethics involved in a deceptive operation like the one he orchestrated: "Any undercover investigation, you're going in there as a lie. And a lot of people don't like it."

I don't understand that logic. How can anyone offer anything but praise for this kid? Sure he misrepresented his circumstances, but he was exposing a much greater lie. Isn't that the job of an investigative journalist?

What was he supposed to do? Ask the recruiter if he would be willing to be taped, while he was breaking the law? Should he have asked for a signed confession? Don't undercover cops lie for the same reason?

For myself, I hope there's about 2000 more budding journalists just like him. They might just save the mass media from extinction.

God knows the old model is becoming obsolete.
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See you in September

Well they're late to the party but suddenly Republicans in the House and Senate have cleaned the wax out of their ears and heard the public outcry for an investigation into Treasongate. Call me suspicious, but it doesn't sound like they're so much into investigating the current wrongdoing, as they are in investigating how to define future crimes of this nature. It's one way to manage the story I suppose, by focusing on process instead of the instant crime.

And this little nugget tucked in at the end of the Boston Globe piece raises my alarm system. The Repubs want to investigate the CIA's use of covert agents in general and more significantly, "Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years." Sounds like they want to second guess Fitzgerald and perhaps even derail the investigation.

However for the moment, I'll pretend it's not all grandstanding for the midterms and take it at face value that the GOP have finally realized they've lost their credibility with the voters and might want to restore some before 06, by holding full and fair hearings.

Hey a girl can dream, can't she?
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Monday, July 25, 2005

Gap in the time line

Underreported story of the weekend is the bombshell Al Gonzales dropped on Treasongate during an interview yesterday.
Gonzales told Bob Schieffer on the CBS show “Face the Nation” that he had been given permission by the Justice Department to hold off overnight if he saw fit, which he did. But he did tell one man that night: Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
Card was the Chief of Staff at that point in time. Twelve hours is a long time for damage control. Quite the unexpected admission. The response however, was predictable.
The White House did not respond to questions Sunday about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation.
This gives the Frank Rich theory on why Gonzales got passed over for the SCOTUS nomination, a lot more impetus.

Adding to the evidence, the Dems have put up a Treasongate clock and a nifty little time line of their own.

It appears the burden of proof is finally starting to shift to where it belongs - right on the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
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Not a Luddite...

...just a technodope.

Mad Kane is versifying about SCOTUS and more. Check out her latest limericks and don't forget to sign up for to her podcast renditions. Sorry Mad, I still haven't figured out to access those myself but I'm certain they're fabulous.
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Jane rides again

From Agitprop. Although I love the spirit of it, I'm not so sure this is going to help.

Too much bad history from Vietnam behind the name and besides, I just saw her speak on some late night talk show recently and she's no Tom Hayden. I'm afraid this could only draw attention to her personally and distract from the issues at hand.
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Hearing voices

If you're not reading The Heretik regularly, you should be, if only for the fabulous graphics. He gets the award for photoshop of the day - again - with WHITE HOUSE PRESS ROOM . And it's not Playboy folks, read the post as well. No one says it quite like The Heretik does.

And as long you're there, don't miss Indiana Bush and The Last Crusade for the graphic and his take on the mission of a man of "faith."
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The loneliness of a long distance blogger

A new discovery in the referral logs today. Thanks to conman of Qatar Diary for taking us international and putting me on his blogroll. If I ever get around to putting up one of my own, I'd put his quirky blog on it.

He's a young blogger from India, living in Quatar, who writes books in his spare time. It's not clear to me why he's in Qatar, but we have the same sort of restless natures and we both have slept through earthquakes. I liked him. Check out his blog.
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Forget the facts, just blame the left

You know what, I'm a lefty and this makes me sick. Furthermore, I don't know a single progressive liberal who would participate in or condone such an action.
FAIRFIELD - American flags, lining the lawn of the mother- and father-in-law of fallen U.S. Army Pfc. Timothy Hines Jr., were heaped in a pile early Saturday and burned under a car parked in front of the home - less than 24 hours after Hines was buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery.

Jim Wessel, Hines' father-in-law, said he thinks that the fire was a random act of vandalism.
Of course the right wing noise machine immediately went into overdrive and there's probably a thousand posts out there already blaming this senseless vandalism on "leftists." Maybe some of these clairvoyant bloggers could help out the local police then, since they don't seem to know who the perpetrator was.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Fairfield Police Department tip line at 896-8200.
Seems to me, it's just as likely that some crazed war-loving rightie could have committed this act. It's the right that glorifies war and excuses its atrocities. Leftie's are anti-war because we're against senseless violence - remember?
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Roberts must reverse rebuttals

It's never good when they start out with little white lies. Now maybe he really did forget, I mean it was six years ago, and there are times I couldn't tell you what I had for dinner yesterday but I usually remember stuff once it's been written down somewhere.
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. has repeatedly said that he has no memory of belonging to the Federalist Society, but his name appears in the influential, conservative legal organization's 1997-1998 leadership directory.

In and of itself, this wouldn't have been as big a deal if the Roberts team hadn't insisted on having references to his membership "corrected." Now those people are splitting hairs over whether he actually paid dues.

Give me a break, he was part of the organization and playing the lost memory card doesn't give me much confidence in his integrity or competency for the bench. SCOTUS justices kind of need an ability to hold onto details, don't you think?
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Technical problems

I'm at the family homestead this week and having some internet access problems here. If I'm not back this afternoon, I'll be posting this evening from home.
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Putting a face on collateral damage

I've read about a dozen different news accounts and probably two dozen blogs about the unfortunate death of Jean Charles de Menezes. The accounts differ greatly on key details and there is only one point of agreement on this tragedy. Menezes is a victim in the GWOT.

One other theme stands out. Everyone who jumped on the story when it happened and pronounced this 27 year old, (and in my world that's still a kid), a terrorist, are now backpedaling to make excuses about why it was necessary and okay to kill an innocent civilian. I even read one overwrought post trying to push the meme that the fault lies with those complaining about conditions at Gitmo.

But it's fruitless to assign blame. This was a tragedy that occurred because both the kid, and the cop, panicked. Frankly I feel just as sorry for the cop as I do for the family of the victim. I doubt he's feeling very good about happened. The question now is how to avoid such incidents in the future. This doesn't help.

The Moderate Voice links to a statement announcing that it's official policy to shoot suspects in the head.
There is no point in shooting somebody's chest because that's where the bomb is likely to be. There is no point in shooting anywhere else because if they fall down they detonate it. This is drawn on the experience from other countries including Sri Lanka," London's Police Chief Ian Blair said about the way Jean Charles de Menezes was killed on Friday in South London's Stockwell underground station.
This hardly explains why Menezes died. One of the few common points in all the conflicting details is that he was already on the ground when he was shot by a plain clothes officer.

Out of all the confusion, only this is clear. If we are willing to kill innocent civilians first and ask questions later - out of fear, effectively doing the terrorist's work for them, then they have already won.

For myself, I'd rather take my chances on dying in a terrorist blast to save an innocent life, than have to live in fear of my government to save my own.
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A question for Captain Ed

Captain's Quarters posts an apology of sorts for the unfortunate cop who pumped five bullets into a man on the ground and I'll leave aside his expanding that to include justifying torture because he asks a good question. What if your family was in the subway car the guy ran into? Would you want the cop to kill him?

Well, I think my answer would be no because I think my kids would be pretty damn traumatized by watching an unarmed man get his brains blown out. And I would pose a counterquestion. The unmentioned detail here is that ordinary London cops don't carry guns. The cop that killed this innocent civilian was not in uniform. What if it was your son who panicked and ran because five men in plain clothes pulled guns and started chasing him. Would you still excuse his death so easily?

Avedon Carol, who lives in London, says it better than I can.
I don't know about you but this whole thing is making my stomach hurt. If we're going to be terrorized by police, what the hell is the point?
None that I can see.
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Name change

Oh great. Another fiasco in the making. Shakespeare's Sister has a terrifying and eloquent post on the war. The scary part is, it's about the war in Iran, not Iraq.

Scott Ritter said it began a month ago, and now the Sister sends us to Matt Yglesias at the TPM Cafe for the latest development. Does this sound like they're "fixing" to make peace?

Justin Logan excerpts an article that's apparently in the print issue of The American Conservative:

"The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States.

The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option.

As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."

Now, unfortunately, I have no idea whether or not that's true or even what context the assertion appears in. I should probably try and get a comp subscription, this kind of seems like a big deal.
One can only hope this is a hoax because the implications are too horrible to contemplate. If it is true, I can't think of a more compelling reason to impeach this administration immediately before they get us into a nuclear war.

Shakespeare's Sister raises a point that troubles me as well.
If I'm honest, one of the things that most bothers me about that excerpt is the last sentence, noting that none of the senior Air Force officers who are appalled by this plan are willing to damage his career by posing an objection. I know that military men and women are trained to follow orders... But at the same time, it seems contradictory to their pledge to die for their country, if necessary. What if going along with the machinations of the government fundamentally alters the country for which they're willing to die? What if in their absolute dedication to America, the America they know is lost? Surely there's a difference between what's best for America, and what America's government wants them to do. ...But in the end, there's something that seems rather cowardly about men who are willing to consider their careers, but not consider the fate of the country to which they have pledged their service. I'm just not sure we can be the land of the free if we're not the home of the brave, too.

...If I were in such a position, I would like to think I'd be more concerned about my country - and my conscience - than my career, once nuclear weapons are on the table. Three years from now, I would prefer not to be wishing an unhappy birthday to memos being written now, outlining plans for an unprovoked nuclear war with Iran.

I'd like to think that as well. I feel rather certain we both would.
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Saturday, July 23, 2005

No respect

So is it me or is Wonkette stealing my stuff without giving me credit?

Of course, she did come up with the photos but I would have done that as well if Gawker was backing me.
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Princess of Propaganda makes a comeback

This is interesting. Like Stan Laurel, to Rove's Ollie, Bush's image maker Karen Hughes, is back in the saddle again. She will apparently be confirmed without a murmur of protest from the Dems, which is not that surprising to me. Hardly worth fighting about when she fits in so well with the rest of the White House deceivers and hell she has a worthwhile mission.
Karen Hughes, returning to Washington to take charge of State Department efforts to improve the nation's tarnished image abroad, said at her confirmation hearing yesterday that she wants to enlist the private sector -- including the music, film and travel industries -- in a reinvigorated effort to help the Muslim world understand America.
Of course, it would probably work better if she could explain America to Americans first. I for one just don't get this country anymore. I doubt that we've been more polarized at any time since the Civil War. In the half century I've been alive on this planet, I certainly can't remember a time when society has been quite so uncivil.

I mean what does it say about us when there are so many celebs making a good living on hurling such epithets as "moonbat" and "liberal slime" and having it pass for "intelligent analysis" of our common problems?
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Didn't we debunk this already?

This goes a long way towards explaining why so many Americans still believe Saddam Hussien had WMDs and that he was trying to buy uranium from Niger. The White House still posts those spurious claims on its website.
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No competence necessary

What do you do with a state level elections official who has demonstrated ineptitude? Why appoint her to a federal level position overseeing other's equally dismal performance of duties of course.
President Bush said Thursday he intends to appoint Colorado Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, who has been criticized for state election blunders, to the four-member federal Election Assistance Commission.
Among other complaints,
She also was criticized after the names of 6,000 state parolees and prisoners popped up on voter-registration rolls and as many as 68,000 state voters - including Davidson - were registered more than once.
Only in the Bush White House can incompetence be so richly rewarded.
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White House on Line One

The White House calls MSNBC and says "jump." Joe Scarborough asks, "How high?"
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Just do it

Rep. Jan Schakowsky offers some timely and worthwhile advice to Progressive Democrats.
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Did you make the list?

You'll never know until they won't let you on the airplane. This speaks for itself.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Transportation Security Administration violated privacy protections by secretly collecting personal information on at least 250,000 people, congressional investigators said Friday.

The Government Accountability Office sent a letter to Congress saying the collection violated the Privacy Act, which prohibits the government from compiling information on people without their knowledge.

The GAO reported that about 100 million records were collected.
And as we all know, once you're on the list there appears to be no way to get off it, nor will anyone tell you why you're on it, although there does seem to be a preponderance of political activists who are being snared by this trap if you look at the anecdotal evidence. Your Homeland Security at work. Keeping the government safe from Americans.
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Did Bush open the Treasongate?

Thom Hartmann asks the $300 billion tax dollar question today. "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
It's unlikely that Colin Powell would have called Rove and Cheney (to give instructions to Libby) with the information in the memo - that was above his pay grade. Ditto for Ari Fleischer. And it's extremely doubtful that the pilots on the plane even knew about the explosive information they were carrying as they flew across the Atlantic.

Which leaves George W. Bush, as the only other person on that plane with the means, opportunity, and motive.

Thus, perhaps, the reports that Patrick Fitzgerald has now subpoenaed the phone logs of Air Force One.

...The urgency Bush brought to deciding on and releasing the name of John Roberts coincided relatively closely with a growing press awareness that the Sop Secret-S/NF memo with Plame's identity started it's long path to Bob Novak on Air Force One.

Time - and an awakened press corps (and hopefully an awakened Congress) - will tell if Bush's own fingerprints are all over this treasonous act of political revenge.

It would explain a lot. It makes no sense to think that all these players would have spontaneously woken up one day and decided to betray our national security on their own. The orders had to come from somewhere and if Rove didn't do it, the only other obvious explanation would be our president himself.
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Unearthing the foundation of Treasongate

Here's a new angle in the Rove scandal. Buried at the bottom of this Guardian report is the news that someone is finally looking at the forged Italian memo on Niger yellowcake that set the groundwork for Treasongate in the first place.
Meanwhile, a parallel investigation is under way into who forged the Niger documents. They are known to have been passed to an Italian journalist by a former Italian defence intelligence officer, Rocco Martino, in October 2002, but their origins have remained a mystery. Mr Martino has insisted to the Italian press that he was "a tool used by someone for games much bigger than me", but has not specified who that might be.

A source familiar with the inquiry said investigators were examining whether former US intelligence agents may have been involved in possible collaboration with Iraqi exiles determined to prove that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear programme.
It says something about the sorry state of our government when a statement like that is so easy to believe.
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Today is Downing Street Minutes Day and events will be held across the country. There will be live-blogging of the events posted here. If you want to attend an event this afternoon, you'll find a list here.

Show up and find out how you can help take back America from "Bush's people" and return it to all Americans.

Update: Pam's House Blend has a must read post on the subject of the anniversay.
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Friday, July 22, 2005

"A true patriot would shut up"

David Corn has the must read of the day. He posts the transcript of retired CIA case officer and former prosecutor, James Marcinkowski's testimony at an unofficial Senate Democratic Policy Council hearing on the Plame leak. The Dems were forced to conduct the hearing in this manner because the GOP controlled Senate refuses to hold official hearings.

Marcinkowski likens the outing to a local police chief announcing the list of his undercover drug officers. Read the whole thing, but here's the money quotes.
And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

...There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.
As Corn notes this should be required reading for every White House apologist. Among that number are some whom I love and respect and call friends, and I know they are well-meaning but this is too serious to put aside for the sake of amity.

So especially to them I say, you can either hold on to partisan loyalty and ignore or excuse treason on legal technicalities to save this President or you can uphold the present and future good of our country, and ask for accountability. You can't do both.
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Fashion Police rise again

Didn't they disband the fashion police around 1967? As far as I can see, this is so much ado about nothing but it's a slow news day for the right. All the good stories are about Treasongate so perhaps that explains the over-reaction on Robin Givhan's critique of the Roberts' family attire in their official portrait.

Frankly I love retro fashion and don't find it offensive that they dressed like refugees from a 50s sitcom, although I do think it's a little cruel to dress what appears to be maybe a six year old boy in knee pants and saddle shoes like some John-John Kennedy wannabee. One can imagine the teasing he'll endure on the playground if his friends get a hold of that photo.

But who cares? My interest in the story is the bizarre and venomous response to Givhan's review. For God's sake that's her job. All this talk of attacking conservatives seems to ring a little hollow when one remembers the ringing endorsement she gave to that slutty dominatrix outfit Condi Rice wore on her first outing as Secretary of State. Givhan found it fashion forward. I thought the short black leather skirt and spike heel boots sort of screamed whore.

The point is I didn't notice any huge outrage from this crowd over Givhan's fashion sense then. As I recall they were falling all over themselves to agree how "commanding" Condi looked. And they accuse my side of playing partisan politics?

I wish these bloggers could get as worked up over the Thought Patrol and the complete destruction of our civil rights under the Patriot Act, which I hear was just renewed by our clueless Congress, as they do over a kid's knickers. But I guess I might as wish for go-go boots and Nehru jackets to come back into style.
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Rove and Libby stretch credibility

Bloomberg has the big news in Treasongate this morning. There appears to be some amount of discrepancy between the White House line and the reporter's accounts of who told who about the unfortunate Ms. Plame. I really don't understand how the White House rogues could make such ridiculous statements. Unless the reporters are also covert CIA agents, how on earth would they have obtained the information except via an inside source?

The more complicated the alibis get, the more apparent it is to me how carefully the betrayal of Plame was planned. You don't get this many performers in a three ring circus and as at the circus, no way you watch every detail of every act simultaneously. It seems to be designed to create as many potential culprits as possible so they can all escape in the confusion. As long as nobody cracks, it may even keep them out of jail.

It remains to be seen if this strategy will work. The leaks keep coming and it's getting more difficult for the hard core Bush supporters to carry that water. Even Kevin Aylward at Wizbang, who is "still underwhelmed" by this story of treasonous lies committed by highly placed White House officials, says it's time for the liars to "take one for the team" and step down.

The peanut gallery over at Wizbang, on the other hand is priceless. There's apparently some misguided souls out there that will never be able to admit they were wrong about their guy and one expects nothing, not even a signed confession would dislodge them from their fantasy world.

Meanwhile, the White House is going to have to put so much spin on this story to manage the perception of the reality based Republicans (yeah there really are a few), that the whole lot of these dissemblers are likely to become dizzy enough to fall off the face of the planet.
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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thoughts on Roe v. Wade

They're not mine, but they might as well be. Thanks to long time supporter KS for this comment at the Detroit News.
John, you asked, “Does the elevation of Judge Roberts to Justice Roberts mean the end to legal abortion?” and you answered, “Not quite.” You went on to point out correctly that even if Roe v Wade were overturned, the question would be turned back to the states. In the case of Michigan, abortion would immediately be illegal (except to save a mother’s life) based on a law still on the books dating back to 1931.

If all these scenarios play out, Roe v Wade is overturned, and Michigan and the majority of other states outlaw abortion, the only outcome will be the end of "legal" abortion. Sadly, abortions will continue, albeit the number may be reduced. Abortions will continue because the circumstances driving women to seek abortions in the first place will not have changed, and woman will now have to deal with the added stress of being a lawbreaker too.

I’m pro-life and don’t advocate taking any life (I’m also against capital punishment and unnecessary wars, as you know), but I think the voices that seek to protect the lives of the unborn are going about it the wrong way. Our churches and politicians send mixed messages when they speak out loudly in defense of fetuses, but barely whisper about the conditions that lead many women to seek abortions, i.e. poverty, marital pressures.

A report by the Guttmacher Institute circulating among major newspapers this week has been reporting the good news that abortions continue to decline and are at their lowest rate since 1976. They point out that possible factors for this reduction could be reduced access to abortion services, but pregnancy clinics and abstinence programs could also have contributed. This reduction came about despite Roe v Wade. However, abortions still continue, and about 1.29 million US women had abortions in 2002, although the Institute did point out:

“The incidence of abortion spans the economic spectrum, but low-income women are over-represented among those having the procedure. Sixty percent of women who had abortions in 2000 had incomes of less than twice the poverty level --below $28,000 per year for a family of three, for example. This is in part because "low-income women have lower access to family planning services" such as contraception and counseling provided by health departments, independent clinics or Planned Parenthood…”

Family income doesn’t have to be at poverty levels to put stress on a woman either. I have a Christian friend who carried the burden of an abortion around for years. She and her husband already had three children when she found out she was pregnant again. Her husband told her point blank to end the pregnancy or he was out of there. He couldn’t deal with the added responsibility and financial pressures of another mouth to feed. My friend did what she thought she had to do in order to keep her family and marriage intact. She was so ashamed that she never stepped foot in another church until her oldest child got married. It took her years to make peace with God and her conscious.

So, let Judge Roberts be elevated to Justice Roberts. Abortion may become illegal, but it won’t eradicate abortions, it won’t address the reasons many women seek abortion in the first place, and it certainly won’t help heal the pain of women who have had abortions.
Well said, as always KS.
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You know what bugs me about the flypaper theory?

If Bush was really trying to win the war on terror, why the hell did we leave Afghanistan in the first place?

Sidney Blumenthal in The Guardian tells us, "the situation in Afghanistan is one of barely managed chaos. Democracy was an afterthought."

You'll of course recall we invaded that country because of 9/11 and we had revenge, not democracy, on our minds. For the record, I was against that invasion as well. I thought then as I do now, that an overgunned military response to guerrillas - that's what they used to call terrorists - was not going to solve the problem. I wish I hadn't been right.

Blumenthal tells us why and I urge you to read it all but here are some highlights.

"I was horrified by the president's last speech [on the war on terror], so much unsaid, so much disingenuous, so many half truths," said James Dobbins, Bush's first envoy to Afghanistan, now director of international programmes at the Rand Corporation. Afghanistan is now the scene of a Taliban revival, chronic Pashtun violence, dominance by US-supported warlords who have become narco-lords, and a human rights black hole.

From the start, he said, the effort in Afghanistan was "grossly underfunded and undermanned". The military doctrine was the first error. "The US focus on force protection and substitution of firepower for manpower creates significant collateral damage." But the faith in firepower sustained the illusion that the mission could be "quicker, cheaper, easier". And that justification fitted with Afghanistan being relegated into a sideshow to Iraq.

...Democracy was an afterthought for the White House, which believed it had little application to Afghans. At the Bonn conference establishing international legitimacy for the Kabul government, "the word 'democracy' was introduced at the insistence of the Iranian delegation", Dobbins points out.

... Dobbins believes that the operation in Afghanistan has improved, but that the administration "hasn't readily acknowledged its mistakes, and corrected them only after losing a good deal of ground, irrecoverable ground ... most of the violence is not al-Qaida type, but Pashtun sectarian violence. It's not international terrorism."

Facts on the ground cannot alter Bush's stentorian summons to the Gwot. "This is a campaign conducted primarily, and should be, by law enforcement, diplomatic and intelligence means," Dobbins said. "The militarisation of the concept is a theme that mobilises the American public effectively, but it's not a theme that resonates well in the Middle East or with our allies elsewhere in the world."
The number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled last year, according to U.S. government figures, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks that the State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week [April 27, 2005]. The latest report I read this week put that number at around 3,500 incidents.

Karzai has lost control of his home province and is losing his command even in Kabul, which until now has been the safe haven that Baghdad dreams of becoming. It doesn't take a military genius to see our current policy is not working.

So far the administration has been only been right about one thing. It's been happening somewhere else. I'll save the full lecture on how somewhere else is the same as here for another day. For now I'll just say the London bombings should remind us that the distance from there to here is not that great.
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More explosions in London

In case you were stuck somewhere without any access to media today, there were more explosions in the London subway and one on a bus. Although the media seems to making a big deal out of this, it appears they can barely be called bombs since they involved detonators but no apparent explosives as far as I can tell, in my own limited review of the press.

Only one injury is being reported but no property damage to speak of, so I'm wondering if that person was hurt in the panic, rather than the explosion. The bus is reported to have suffered none at all. The incident is quickly being linked to the 7/7/05 bombings but it feels more like a copycat thing to me. I won't be surprised to find out it was some kids trying to scare people just because they can.

If that is the case, they surely succeeded. If it turns out to actually have an AQ connection, then it's sort of good news in that it seems they are becoming less competent at executing these operations. I mean don't they usually try to kill a lot of people? Either way, the Londoners are understandably upset by the incident.

However, the last report I saw, said the metro system was up and running and life appears to be returning to what passes for normal in these troubled times.
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Rove above the fold

I'm tied up with family stuff so it's read your own links day. Must read of the day is this front page item from the WaPo with much more info on the classified State Dept. Memo that was circulated on Air Force One that we've been talking about.

If you need analysis of the time line, I managed to get a lengthier post up on this at DetNews this morning.

The other must read is this excellent editorial at The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Bush's somewhat, shall we say flexible, standards of accountability for his pals.

[via Mahablog]
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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ann Coulter snarls

I already feel dirty enough from reading Drudge's report so I'll let you go there if you're actually interested in what the Princess of Vile Bile has to say on the Roberts nomination. I can't bring myself to click on anything that would bring me to her site.

Interesting tactic. Couldn't get a rise out of the nomination from the left, so Rove sics his mad dog of the right, Ann Coulter, to try to pick a fight. Noise, he must have some noise.

Just goes to show that you should never underestimate the diabolical cleverness of the man behind the president. I was thinking it was a pretty dumb nomination yesterday based on the Roe v. Wade comments. Now I understand.

Of course, Roger L. Simon figured it out before I did.
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I called him Scotty

Actor James Doohan, best known as Scotty, the feisty, Scottish-accented chief engineer on television's original "Star Trek" series, died on Wednesday at his home in Redmond, Washington, his manager said. He was 85.

I've already put up two sappy posts at my other blogs about this but I can't shake the sense of loss, so out of proportion to my knowledge of the man. Jack Grant has a moving post on how he was inspired by him. I 'm essentially grieving for his television character. In a way I've been grieving him since the day the show shut down.

Loved the series. I waited impatiently for every new episode. I knew him and I thought of him as Scotty. I loved his character. He was more familiar to me than some distant relatives. After all he showed up in the living room every week and he always saved the warp core from doing something unpleasant.

I never knew Doohan as a person, and frankly I never thought about him by name until today. Nonetheless, it kind of feels like a member of the family has died. I'll miss him.

Rest in peace James.

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Say it with pictures

The People's Republic of Seabrook has the photoshopped pix of the day.
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Peers speak for Plame

Josh Marshall has a copy of a letter written by 11 former intelligence officers and delivered to the House and Senate asking that affirmative measures be taken immediately to cease the attacks on Wilson and Plame's credibility.

They state in no uncertain terms that she was undeniably under cover when she was outed and that the safety of the entire intelligence community and national security was compromised by this leak. They further request that immediate action be taken to rout out and discipline the perpetrators in order to restore the confidence of the community that their safety will be protected by our government while they are risking their lives for our country.

[via BuzzFlash]
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How soon they forget

PM Carpenter attempts to track the ever shifting rationales and rhetoric coming from the White House. No easy task when you're trying to read this son of a Bush's lips.
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Working the bugs out of the system

Forget about the fly paper. Jeri at Seething in the Wilderness updates the concept and brings it into the new age with "The Bug Zapper theory." Unfortunately, it doesn't work any better than the old fashioned sticky stuff.
So what it comes down to is this: bug zappers (military invasions) do little to address mosquitos (terrorism) and in fact end up destroying populations that are not only innocent but are also one of the best weapons against the beasts themselves. Not only do zappers not solve the problem, they exacerbate it.

Yet people still buy these products because it makes them feel like they're taking action, like they're fighting them "over there" (near the clothesline) so they don't have to fight them "here" (on the picnic table).

They relish the sounds and sights of death, any death, because in their tiny little minds, all insects are bad. Who cares if a few moths (or a few hundred moths) bite the dust? Collateral damage! Who cares if the kids get sick from breathing fly guts? They knew the risks when they signed up! Who cares if more mosquitos thrive as a result? More mosquitos means more mosquitos to kill! Yeeeeeeeee-haaaaa!
Great post. Read it for yourself.
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The memo that roared

Hah. It's like I told my friend Sarah yesterday. The memo will be the Bush administration's undoing. No, not the Downing St. Memo. The highly classified State Department memo that circulated among the inner circle on Air Force One during their "let's see if we can make the Niger yellowcake fiction stick" trip to Africa shortly before Novak published the story that outed Valerie Plame.

The State Department wasn't buying the lie either and was urging the administration to back down from their spurious claim. Kind of makes the right wing noise machine's frantic assertions that Wilson was wrong, all the more pathetic and the Downing Street Minutes all the more credible, don't you think?
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So who is John G. Roberts?

Forget the Roe v. Wade litmus test. We know he is anti-choice and I expected no less from any nominee Bush would tender. He had to keep his religious extremists happy and he's hoping like hell that the left will get into a panic about this and forget about Karl "The Plaminouter" Rove.

But lets look at the bigger picture and see what else informs Roberts ideology. In his short judicial career, he upheld the arrest of a 12 year old child for eating a single french fry in the DC metro station. He's against the separation of church and state, he's sneered at Fourth Amendment rights, he apparently finds habeas corpus protections quaint and unnecessary and he doesn't think POWs really need due process.

In his life as a corporate attorney he's argued against environmental protections and he has no discernible concern for voter's rights, apparently preferring judicial selection over election to seat a president.

What does it all mean? Not a bloody thing. As was so amply demonstrated in the recent Kelo and Raich decisions, you can judge the nominees by their history but in practical terms, you may as well be using tarot cards to figure out how they're going to rule once they sit on the bench.

Kos and Jeralyn take a level-headed approach. I'm with them. It's way too early in the process to get worked about it. Me, I'm waiting until Roberts answers Pennywit's very important questions before I go into a tizzy about this thinly disguised ploy to roust Rove from above the fold.

[Links via The Moderate Voice]

[Hat tip to Jamie Sonneberger for the inspiration on Karl's new nickname.]
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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wheel of Fortune

I don't know anything about this guy so I don't have anything to say about it yet but Ana Marie Cox is always ready for any possibility. Only Wonkette could work in an anal sex angle to a post on the newly nominated Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and get away with it.
So: we do know that he looks like Pat Sajak and that he hates abortion. The good news is that we don't know how he feels about sodomy. So for those of you upset about his anti-choice stance, remember: There's more than one way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. Ass-fuck while you still can. Also, from now on we're calling that "buying a vowel."
Pretty ballsy choice on Rove's part to put up an anti-choice candidate to take the heat off his own sorry butt. I wonder if our newly resurrected press have enough consonants in their notebooks to keep both names on the front page.
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Truth stranger than fiction

I don't watch much TV but I love scifi and I've been watching this new series on USA called The 4400. The plot line is deteriorating, it's turning into a nighttime soap, but I love the whole spooky premise. For some reason, the sudden appearance of actual reporters at the White House press briefings reminds me of that program. It's like the gaggle was lifted into space, restored to human form and brought back to earth in a bubble of light.

Wonkette tells us they outright laughed at the President yesterday but Preemptive Karma has the last word on the press corps antics of the day.

Q: What about the RNC, though, Scott?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said, I'm not going to get into discussing matters relating to an ongoing investigation. We'll let the investigation come to a conclusion, and then I'll be more than happy to talk about it, as will the President.
PREEMPTIVE KARMA: I am going to repeat the same non-sequitor and get very irriated with you for asking a question about the RNC. Besides, I can't talk about it. If I do, the nice man who controls my mouth levers will never allow me to become a real boy.
I was just thinking yesterday that if noses really grew like Pinocchio, the Bush administration would have to hire Paul Bunyan to keep them trimmed enough to get through doors. And how funny would it be if they all turned into donkeys like the wicked boys did on Pleasure Island?
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Letter to a friend

I have a friend I left behind in the Happy Valley that gets discouraged by the ability of the White House to literally get away with murder and push their destructive agenda. She doesn't think we can stop them. Every once in a while I send her an encouraging email. This is what I told her about Plamegate today.
Whatever happens to Rove doesn't even matter. He won't get indicted for treason. There's a chance he'll be charged with a felony although my money is on Scooter Libby to take the fall. I don't care if Rove is punished. He'll still be calling the shots, from a jail cell if necessary.

The point is it establishes even more firmly, a greater pattern of deceit within this administration, in order to take us into an unnecessary war. The president lied. He lied about WMDs, he lied about Plame and he lied about the cover-up. The memo on Air Force One will be their undoing. I have this half-assed hope that we may still be able to impeach him.

In any event, as I told you on the phone, at least we're slowing them down. Only so many hours in the day and they have a spend a few of those doing damage control which robs them of the time for some other more nefarious scheming and also makes it more difficult for them to sneak around when they're under so much scrutiny.

Take heart my dear, all is not lost yet.
In fact, dare I hope we might even be gaining some ground in the public consciousness? I just read somewhere today that 75% of the respondents of somebody's poll thought that Rove was guilty as sin.

Update: Recovering Liberal has the poll.
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Monday, July 18, 2005

Back to the bad old days

It's official - the Bush administration will go to any lengths to abridge your civil rights in order to maintain their veil of secrecy and deceit and hold onto to their political power. The Patriot Act, allegedly enacted to "protect" us from terrorism has not resulted in a single meaningful terrorist conviction but has been used to prosecute ordinary crimes that are covered under other statutes and is being used to spy on activist groups engaging in lawful political speech. The FBI confirmed it has at least 1,200 pages of records stemming from their surveillance of the ACLU, Greenpeace and other similar activist groups like MoveOn.

Those are the ones we know about because the ACLU forced the admission with an FOIA request. Chances are, if you're blogger or journalist that hasn't been a dutiful steno for the White House press releases, they have records on you as well. I doubt Rush, O'Reilly, John Hindracker, Glenn Reynolds, or the Mudville Gazette for instance have anything to worry about, but for the rest of us, if you've been wondering why your phone or computer is running erratically, don't discount that you're on the White House enemies list. Feels like the 60s all over again.

Be concerned. As Joe Wilson can attest, these thugs are willing to go to any extreme, and spare no cost - including breaching national security - in order to exact their petty revenge.

Pam's House Blend has more details on this story and on the launch of the ACLU's new activist site built around Patriot Act reform. A must read post.
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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Democracy is messy - Donald Rumsfeld

This is big. Iraq's transitional PM Ibrahim Jaafari, in a historic meeting with Iran's President Mohammed Khatami restored relations between the two countries and reached an agreement "to discuss security and the control of their long border." They will also share intelligence.
The political symbolism of restoring relations is huge, says the BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran.

After decades of no diplomatic relations, Iraq now has a prime minister who has spent years in exile in Iran and heads a Shia-dominated government sympathetic to its neighbour, she says.
Isn't that comforting. Our new democracy in Iraq makes a pact with the devils in the Axis of Evil. I hope the silver lining here is that Bush at least won't be able to open up a new front in this mad war on terror in Iran.

Bill Quick, who points us to this news is pissed.
We sacrificed almost two thousand troops for this? War is peace. Surrender is victory. Great.
I would amend that to say, war is folly and speedy withdrawal is victory. After all the lies that brought us into this war, an honest assessment is in order. We can wait two years, ten years, we can turn it into a 100 year war, but we're never going to win. There will always be terrorists.

It time to cut our losses, bring our troops home and remove the deceiving schemers in the White House who got us into this mess in the first place from office.
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Fly paper theory gets sticky

I'm posting at Pennywit today. I think BatOne is mad at me, he's very cranky today and I don't think PW likes my post enough to promote it to his front page, so I'll cross post here. It's an important story.

The Boston Globe reports today on two new studies that reveal the vaunted "fly-paper theory" has morphed into a breeding program.
New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank -- both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States -- have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.

The studies, which together constitute the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the ''central front" in a battle against the United States.

Using interrogations of captured suspects and case studies of suicide bombers and foreign insurgents, researchers found, "the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq."
Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study said, ''I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world."

I never put much stock in that fly-paper theory anyway. Having used it myself on the farm, I can tell you it's messy. It's just as likely to stick to you as not and while it does accumulate a satisfying number of carcasses, it never catches all the flies.
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Shaken, not stirred

The Heretik as usual, says a thousand words with a single graphic and adds a few more bon mots to the mix.
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Petition the Lord with prayer?

My co-blogger at the Detroit News, Kevin McKague blogs a response to this post at his own News from Davison. This is how I replied.

You skipped the quote that made my point Kevin. From the main site's statement of faith:
We believe in the mission of the Church to go to all the world and make disciples of all nations.
This doesn't sound like an endorsement of Bush's foreign policy to you? It does it to me and it sure doesn't ring of "love they neighbor as thyself." And show me in the Bible where it says thou shall pray for judges who understand the constitution? You immediately made the leap to equate that with Roe v. Wade. It's not that subtle.

As I recall my childhood Bible classes, God taught us to pray not for specifics, but for his will to be done, so shouldn't the prayer read something like, Please God, guide Bush into making a decision that reflects your will?

This has nothing with to do with persecution complexes, it has to do with blurring the line between church and state for political gain. And is it really appropriate for a prayer group to be teaching politics on its web site? You couch it as teaching civic responsibility but you fail to mention the "bios" on Porter Goss and John Negroponte. Probably lifted from the White House site. If they want to mix politics and religion they should be asking God to forgive Negroponte for all the innocents who died under the death squads he commanded in Central America.

The adult site is no better. They reprint Bush's remarks. I wonder if that qualifies as an in kind contribution? They're discussing G-8 and I see White House talking points there, not debate. All well and good for religious people to have political discourse but not on the taxpayer's dime.

They are a non-prof who pays no taxes under the claim, "It holds no affiliation with any political or religious organizations, nor will it ever be used for political purposes." Further they're incorporated as non-profit, non-partisan organization. Do you see them giving equal time to praying for any Democrats on that site? See any Democrats on the boards? I didn't but I did see two sitting Republican lawmakers, one of which is a US Senator. They're a political front group and as such should be registered as a PAC.

As far as the constitutional issue, I didn't raise it. According to the site, that's the reason the President didn't specifically endorse them but they certainly imply his consent and blessing.

And by the way Kevin, you say you left the Catholic church "because American Catholics were excommunicated for supporting Democratic candidates, since they were pro-choice. I have always been a Christian."

Christian churches that expel their members for supporting Kerry don't offend you? The judge in Florida who was kicked out of his congregation for not ruling on the side of the Schiavo mob and forced to hire body guards to protect himself from the "faithful" doesn't give you pause? They say they're Christians too.

As the Bible says, "Beware of false prophets," or in this case, beware of false non-profits.

Update: The debate expands to include BlueStateRed.
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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Republicans return "dirty" money

This is cute. Two Florida Republicans returned a total of $4,000 worth of campaign contributions from Penthouse and an establishment called Peek-A-Boo lounge.
"Once we realized where they were from, they were refunded immediately," said Alberto Martinez, a spokesman for the Gallagher campaign. "We are not accepting contributions from individuals and entities that are not part of our vision for the future of Florida."
That's funny. It sure didn't bother Bush to accept money from the adult entertainment industry. Maybe he has a different vision for America because what she's doing with the flag in this photo is probably illegal.
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So much for the First Amendment

Leonard Clark is serving on the streets of Baghdad in the National Guard. He is a Kindergarden teacher and a former Democratic Candidate for State House in Arizona.

Leonard has a blog. He doesn't blog the good news in Iraq. He can't find any. He blogs the truth about his day to day experiences and urges the folks at home to fight to end this insane occupation and bring the troops home. He generally uses stronger language than that.

He was arrested on Monday. They didn't tell him why but they let him go on Tuesday. The local media report he is under investigation. The Guard is tentatively trying to spin it as a query into campaign violations since he filed his intent to seek a Senate seat when he returns. A required filing under a certain timetable that I assume, like in other states, is not validated unless and until the candidate files petitions with the appropriate number of signatures. There's no indication he's done that yet.

He did however "urge in a June 30 e-mail posting, "Fight non-violently for the just and righteous cause of Not One More American Soldier's Life Being Lost. N.O. M.A.S.!"
Maj. Eileen Bienz, a spokeswoman with the state Army National Guard said she could not say whether the investigation in Iraq focuses on Clark's blogging or issues related to running for political office.
Which do you think it is? Meanwhile, in a moment of truly bizarre coincidence, the name of Republican Sen. Jon Kyl comes up for the second time today. If you scroll down you'll see he's also on the honorary board of the Presidential Prayer Team . Ironically, Leonard intends to run for his seat. That is if they don't put him in jail for telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, first.
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And the point is...

The award for best punchline of the week goes to..... skippy the bush kangaroo. He reminds us that the whole point of the Plame case is not who told who, what, when, but rather that the entire sorry affair is one big fat lie. Read the whole post for the punch line though. I'm still chuckling.

As I said in the comments there, you would think a guy that is so good at screwing the American people would know what that thing is for.
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Onward Christian Soldiers?

Don't get me wrong. I believe in a higher power and I think prayer is a good thing but Agitprop points us to a site this afternoon that scares the bejesus out of me.

The Presidential Prayer Team claims to be non-partisan and intends to pray for this president and every president thereafter but a look at their ministry suggests an agenda designed to support Bush's war policies.

Take this for instance from their "Statement of Faith."
We believe in the mission of the Church to go to all the world and make disciples of all nations.
And this from their even more frightening affiliate site, The Presidential Prayer Team for Kids that asks children to:
Pray that God will guide the President as he chooses a new judge for the Supreme Court, helping him select the person who will please God and rule justly. Ask God to help the President choose the right person—someone who has great judgment and who really understands the Constitution.
Looks more like thinly disguised political indoctrination than religion to me. Furthermore, it appears to be little more than another evangelical moneymaking scheme that is collecting a lot of funds - allegedly spent on the website and sending out stickers. You have to call for a copy of their financial statement, which I didn't do, but the existence of an "inner circle" initiated to recognize major donors suggests they're accruing millions. Seems hard to believe it costs that much to send out emails on a daily basis.

They've long surpassed their goal of getting 1% of the US population to join their organization and according to the site, it continues to gain members daily. Seems to me they're dancing on the thin edge between a non-prof and a PAC - not that anyone in this administration would stop them.

The main site notes that they're not endorsed by the President, (although he personally supports their work), on account of constitutional issues. Interestingly that hasn't stopped two lawmakers, US Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona and Arizona Congressman John Shadegg, from joining their "honorary board."

I'm all for freedom of religion but I fail to see why people who want to pray for politicians can't figure out how to do that on their own, without being issued a daily script with such loaded text. It smacks of the same kind of subliminal conditioning that has done so much damage to young people in anti-drug programs such as Straight, Inc. This organization blurs the line between church and state in dangerous ways that will only become apparent when it's too late.

As Agitprop notes, "When the theocrats take over the government after the new Supreme Court effectually merges church and state, will our children be forced to pray for war criminals in public schools?"

Does that sound far-fetched? Consider this. The group is allowed to distribute its materials to our soldiers in Iraq, including pamphlets with tear sheets to be sent to the President, pledging to pray for his welfare. I'd be willing to bet money that Buddhists and Jehovah's Witnesses don't get the same privilege. Sounds like the first step to state sponsored religion to me.
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Rove lies don't fly

No legal analysis of Plame is complete without Jeralyn's input. Just start at the top at Talk Left and keep scrolling for the tantalizing details about the 7/10/03 State Department Memo that Colin Powell was seen pacing around with on Air Force One on the inbound trip to Africa with our Boy George and his entourage of 300 high placed officials, including Condi, Ari and Andrew Card, scattered among 3 planes. There was some interesting plane hopping as well.

Jeralyn goes on to build a timeline of deceit and analyze Fitzgerald's targets. A must read for Rove watchers.
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Fanning the Plame

Another interesting Plame theory from Atrios via The American Street. Hesoid dissects the logic of Fitzgerald's tactics and find Judith in the hot seat with Rove going down. He also floats an very interesting theory about an alternate source for Miller.

Links at the end to Lawrence O'Donnell and ThinkProgress.

Meanwhile, my latest twist is at The Detroit News.
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And no one called Santorum

This one of those stories you don't really want to post because it's horrible but you can't not pass it on. Read at your own peril. This is all I'm going to tell you. Thirty-three states have laws banning sex with animals. Forida is not one of them. Neither is Washington State.

[via BuzzFlash]
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Rove-ing the blogosphere

The Big Brass Alliance is a prolific group and there's no way to read 700+ blogs a day. Nonetheless I've discovered a lot of fine blogs there and I'm going to try to do at least a weekly post highlighting some of them. Since Rove is on everyone's mind - a look at what other Alliancers are saying.

Banana at Liar Paradox, looks at the legalities under the interpretation of strict intent and liability and sees an apt analogy between Rove and statutory rape. God knows he's been screwing us without consent for long enough. Bulldog sees a connection between Plame and the Downing Street Minutes that provides grounds for throwing the whole sorry lot of them out of office. Randy J. Bull at Words Have Power rounds up the Rove roundups and wonders if Bush has clammed up because he already knows the answer. And finally Blue Collar Politics has a photo lineup of mug shots head shots, and brings the news that the scandal has now officially been dubbed "Plamegate."
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Novak refutes Rove

This just in from Americablog. Shortly after Novak published the story that exposed Valerie Plame, he had this to say about his source.
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
As Americablog points out, somebody is lying or there are three treasonous leakers in the White House inner circle. Either way it's difficult to believe that three different people would simultaneously decide to out Plame. There had to be a mastermind and one doubts a single CIA agent or even Wilson was really the target of their spite.

The evidence, such as it is, strongly suggests this was part of a larger campaign to intimidate and discredit all critics of the White House's efforts to "fix the intelligence" around their push for war. Remember the Downing St. Minutes were originally authored almost a year earlier and skepticism about the WMD claims was growing at the time Plame was betrayed.
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Pentagon fails to provide report

There's little buzz in the media about this important deadline for a mandated "set of performance indicators and measures of stability and security in Iraq." As per an amendment attached to the emergency funding authorized by Congress, the Pentagon was to deliver by yesterday "a comprehensive set of metrics and timelines." They failed to do so."

Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA) released a letter in response calling on the Pentagon to comply saying, "It is long past due for the administration to provide Congress with meaningful information to evaluate our progress in Iraq."

In a press briefing yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, had this to say.
It's a wide range of things that the Senate has asked for, that the Congress has asked for. And all of -- most of that information was being compiled in other places and kind of moving it into a single report and ensuring that what moves out of one report and into this report is consistent. It's -- we're just trying to be very careful that with all the amount of -- we've provided an enormous amount of information to the Congress on progress in Iraq, and we want to make sure that this consolidated submission is consistent with the disparate submissions that we've provided over the months and years. So it's just taken time to kind of get it in one place and make sure that we're comfortable that it's consistent with the various reports we've provided. ...I expect it to be probably before the Congress recesses in August.
What does that mean exactly? That they have to be sure everyone has their stories straight? It sounds more like a group of felons plotting their alibis than an honest assessment of our military strategy.

DiRita goes on to describe what they expect to deliver.
...we've provided the Congress a lot of information. And the public -- you. And a lot of this is kind of boiling that amount of information into a single place, and that's -- and so it's not going to be new information, it's going to be information in a new -- newly packaged format. And that's -- and so it's -- don't look for new information. Just look for it in one place.
Do I need to remind him that is not Congress asked for? If the previously disseminated information was sufficient to judge progress, they wouldn't have asked for a new report. It sounds less like accountability and more like a cover-up with every word out DiRita's mouth.

In the words of the immortal Mark Twain, If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. Perhaps if they followed that advice, it wouldn't take as long to comply with the Congressional mandate.
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