Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush plan for Iraq - all hat, no cattle

I'm working this week so I didn't have to watch Bush's speech. The beauty of the internets is that so many others do it for you. The Center for American Progress posts the immediately apparent flaws in the 38 page "plan." Read them all but most striking is this point.

Ignoring the Facts: Insurgent attacks on US forces are occurring at an all time high of 100 per day according to the Pentagon’s own most recent estimates. The size of the insurgency has actually remained the same or grown over the last year (ranging from 15,000 – 20,000), despite months of military operations aimed at killing and capturing insurgents.
Think Progress of course was even quicker to the draw saying, "it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document."

Heretik deconstructs the spin in his usual inimitable manner, while Shakes Sis calls it crap and has the photo. What makes these idiots think a big sign will cover the same tired crapola anyway?

Meanwhile, Mahablog has been following it live all day including the rebuttals, with approximate transcripts of the pertinent dialogue.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Rummy has an epiphany

This is priceless. Rummy had "an epiphany" - his words - over Thanksgiving turkey. He's finally figured out who the "enemy" in Iraq is.
"This is a group of people who don't merit the word `insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon press conference. "I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe."
Really. Those darned ingrates. Don't appreciate being liberated from a stable dictatorship and being gifted with a chaotic Islamic republic complete with factional genocide and enforced by an armed occupation of foreign forces. But it's hard to give up that ingrained terminology.
Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term `insurgent.'

After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word `insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."

Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"
Is it me or does this remind you of the time they tried to rename/reframe the war on terror as Serial Attacks on Vengeful Extremists?
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Go read

Every time I begin to lose hope for humanity, I go over and read The Heretik. He has this way of reminding me that goodness and mercy still exist in the hearts of men.
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Monday, November 28, 2005

Moyers on the money

Bill Moyers has a thoughtful post in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Texas Observer. It ties into a discussion we're having at this post on how the mainstream press is failing in their duty to inform the public.

It's a really long piece but well worth the time to read in full. Here's a couple of quotes to get you started. First a quote from the inaugural editorial of the Observer.
"We will have a good time, and we hope you do. We will twit the self-important, and honor the truly important. We will lay the bark to the dignity of any public man any time we see fit. Telling the whole truth is not an exercise to be limited to children before they reach the age of reason. It is the indispensable requirement for an effective democracy. If the press and the politicians lie to the people, or hide those parts of the truth which trouble the conscience or offend a friend, how can the people’s falsely-based decisions be trusted? Here in the Southwest there is room for a great truth-telling newspaper, its editor free, its editorials cast in a liberal and reasonable frame of mind, its dedication Thoreau’s ‘The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth.'"
Bill and I both wish we had wrote that. Meanwhile, it's difficult to pick one quote from Moyers, but here it is.
Everything President George W. Bush knows, he learned here, as the product of a system rigged to assure the political progeny needed to perpetuate itself with minimum interference from the nuisances of liberal democracy. You remember liberal democracy: the rule of law, the protection of individual and minority rights, checks and balances against arbitrary power, an independent press, the separation of church and state. As governor, Bush was nurtured by the peculiar Texas blend of piety and privilege that mocks those values. With the election of 2000, he and his cohorts arrived in Washington like atheists taking over the Vatican; they had come to run a government they don’t believe in.
Moyers doesn't pull any punches in the rest of the piece and is not afraid to use the "N" word. Read it all for yourself. It makes you wish he wasn't about to retire.
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Terror attack practice?

Under the heading don't these people have something better to do?
Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.
One expects this tactic has about as much chance of nailing a terrorist as I have of winning the lottery and wouldn't you think there's enough real crime in Miami without them wasting man hours on play acting, particularly in light of the fact there has been no credible threat made against the city? And have they learned nothing from the colored terror alerts? People have become so inured to false alarms that no one pays attention to them anymore. It seems to me these sort of over reaching police surveillance tactics make us less safe, not more.

Of course it's dandy practice for when they declare martial law.
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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Reading list

The Abramoff Files. The sinkhole widens. Yesterday it was six, today it's rumored a dozen legislators will be dragged into the gutter.

You have to give the Scientologists credit for one thing. When they plan for the future, they really mean the future.

What climate change? Bush will snub 156 countries by refusing to attend a meeting of world leaders on the subject. And you wonder why there's so much anti-Americanism around the world?

Here's one for climate change skeptics. Gas bubbles in arctic ice reveal CO2 and methane levels rising at unprecedented levels. Not to mention, sea levels are also rising twice a fast as in all previous centuries.

The boss of US telecoms firm Savvis, Robert McCormick, has resigned in the face of revelations coming from court documents alleging that he charged a night out at a strip club on his company credit card and then disputed the charges. The really sick part is the guy probably makes a hefty six figure income. Why the hell is cheating on a $250.00 bill?
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Who's reprehensible now?

Get your Frank Rich fix for free at Alternet today. Rich pens a stellar op-ed on Iraq and the White House lies that got us into this mess. Read it all but here's a couple of choice quotes.
The web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House. The real point of the Bush-Cheney verbal fisticuffs this month, like the earlier campaign to take down Joseph Wilson, is less to smite Democrats than to cover up wrongdoing in the executive branch between 9/11 and shock and awe.

The more we learn about the road to Iraq, the more we realize that it's a losing game to ask what lies the White House told along the way. A simpler question might be: What was not a lie?
A simple question perhaps but not an easy answer to find in an administration that lies even when it could tell the truth. I think, looking at the list of players Rich assembles, that what protected them -- a conspiracy so big it's almost impossible to believe in its existence -- will be what takes them down. Because it's impossible to keep a secret with so many players in on the game.
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I believe in miracles

I believe in a universal higher power but I'm not a religious person. I think most of the Virgin Mary sightings in grease stains and potato chips and such are mostly just so much silliness over random natural phenonmenon. I mean I have a tree that looks it swallowed the Grinch. However, I like this particular miracle.

A church on the outskirts of Sacramento has a statute that appears to be crying tears of blood. Even if it can be explained as a natural occurence, the timing and the perfection of the image is moving to me and seems to be an omen.

I can think of many reasons Mary might be crying right now, from the wars to the polarized attitude of the public. Heck, by the time I get through reading the day's news, I feel like crying myself, so I can believe her tears are real. I can't remember another time when the world looked so souless.
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New journalist called to testify on Plame leak

This should have been on the front page. Yet another journalist called to testify in Fitzgerald's investigation. Viveca Novak, of Time's Washington bureau, testified "under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported." Wouldn't that be the ultimate irony if Rove's attorney was the one to take him down with those carefully calculated "leaks" of their own on the investigation?

It's heartening to see that Rove has not yet escaped Fitzgerald's scrutiny but this case is becoming as much about the failure of the White House press corps as it is about the deceit of our government. You have to wonder how many more reporters are stonewalling when they could come forward with information material to the investigation?
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Blogs grade the pop quiz

The right wing bloggers are abuzz over the high school teacher in Vermont that used Bush's name in a vocabulary test. Professor Bainbridge beats up on Kevin Drum for making light of it.
As a teacher, you're an authority figure with a captive audience. Your job is to educate students, not to serve up propaganda. By introducing political biases into the classroom, you create a coercive and hostile learning environment that may impede some students from doing their best work. In particular, when it comes to assigning grades, you can't let students think that their grade depends on appeasing your political preferences rather than the merits of their answer.
I wonder where Mr. Bainbridge stands on teaching ID instead of science? He goes on to admit he uses controversial methodology in his own classes but claims, "there's a difference between that and using the power of the podium to score cheap political points."

To that I say, lighten up Professor. Maybe you need one of these. We're talking about a tiny high school in a town you would never have heard of if the AP hadn't picked up the story on a slow news cycle - not the campaign trail. It's not like Bush's proclivity for mangling the language isn't well known already. Not to mention these are youngsters who will never have the opportunity to vote for Bush anyway.

It's difficult enough to engage teenagers in learning, much less current events. I doubt most of them have political views, much less worry whether their teacher will penalize them for taking contrary ones. Good for Mr. Chenkin for bringing some humor and context into what otherwise would have been a boring exercise in rote learning.
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Yes Virginia, it is a police state

The Bush administration assaults our freedoms in so many ways at once, it's hard to keep track of everything. As if sneak and peek tactics enabled by the Patrioit Act was not enough, today's disturbing development from the WaPo reveals the Pentagon is pushing to expand domestic surveillance even further over the lives of ordinary Americans.
"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings already aptly analyzed the impact of this latest ploy, so I won't repeat it except to reiterate that the blurring of the line between intelligence gathering about potential crimes for the purposes of national security and the investigation of crimes already committed, a function reserved for domestic law enforcement agencies and the FBI, should be a matter of serious concern to anyone who values our civil liberties.

Meanwhile, Captain Ed doesn't see it as a privacy concern so much as bureauracy dangerously run amok. I think we should be concerned about both, but he hits home here.
All of this mischief started with the Commission's celebration of bureaucracy as the salvation of intelligence. Rather than demand a complete restructuring of the myriad intelligence entities in the US into two or three agencies -- one each for foreign, domestic, and military intel -- the Commission claimed that data-sharing was hampered not by artificial divisions of labor between bureaucracies but not enough layers of bureaucracy above the agencies themselves. It demanded (and received) two additional layers of management between the actual intel gatherers and the decision makers of the government.
A good point but Jo Fish finds the money quote.
Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the data-sharing amendment would still give the Pentagon much greater access to the FBI's massive collection of data, including information on citizens not connected to terrorism or espionage.

The measure, she said, "removes one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies." She said the Pentagon's "intelligence agencies are quietly expanding their domestic presence without any public debate."
Not to mention operating without any public oversight. It's like I always say, facism doesn't arrive overnight. It creeps in by degrees and this takes us one step closer to Big Brother.
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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ashcroft now petitions the Lord with prayer

I didn't know this. I found out from MikeVotes. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft teaches at Pat Roberts Regents University. Not only that, he's out publicly praying.
Ashcroft spoke to about 1,100 people at the annual South Hampton Roads Leadership Prayer Breakfast at the Scope exhibition hall. The breakfast, sponsored by the Law Enforcement Officers Fellowship, was billed as part of a national movement “to support prayer in government at all levels.”
I think that might be his actual job since according to their mission statement, "Regent University is an institution of higher learning that exists to bring glory to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit." It's hard to think of the man responsible for the misery of thousands of inmates suffering mandatory sentencing under his harsh administration of the guidelines, as a man of God.

And speaking of petitioning his Lord with prayer, check out Mike's pic of the day featuring the Lord of Darkness himself.
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What's in a name?

As my sweet little tyke is fond of saying lately, "Oh No!" From thehim at ReLoad comes the awful news, the Pentagon is running our of cute names to call their military offensives.
No one in the Defense Secretary's office expected us to be in Iraq for this long, so our list is running out," said Pentagon Spokesmen Cpl. Bryant Ernst. After 'Operation Rabid Squirrel', 'Operation Drunken Jets Fan', and 'Operation Speed Freak on Springer', the next operation will be 'Operation Alpha', unless an alternative is found.

He has some new suggestions in the comments there. I left a few of my own. Operation Get Zarqawi Again. Operation It's Not Napalm - Really. Operation They're all Insurgents Once They're Dead. Operation Imperfect.

Feel free to chime in.
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Saturday funnies

Mad Kane has a bunch of new laugh provoking limericks up and links to other hilarious items on her bountiful holiday menu of fun stuff. And don't miss this tasty side dish - The Sexy Politics Dance.

Meanwhile, at Last One Speaks I'm serving up, Which Sci-fi crew are you?
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The Abramoff Files

The culture of corruption crowd is in deep doodoo this week. The ongoing investigation into the wholesale bribery of the Beltway has widened to include another half dozen legislators and their wives. One expects this number may rise once the plea deals are made and the rats start turning on each other to save their own skins.

All parties facing indictment of course are protesting their innocence, claiming the buckets of money they received through various entities under the control of Abramoff had absolutely nothing to do with their subsequent legislative actions favorable to Jack's clients - a point on which one expects the newly indicted Michael Scalon, (Abramoff's partner in crime), to dispute. Meanwhile, the biggest winner in the corruptothon would appear to be Tom Delay's wife.
Richard Cullen, an attorney for the DeLays, said Christine DeLay was hired by Buckham, an old family friend, to determine the favorite charity of every member of Congress. She was paid $3,200 to $3,400 a month for three years, or about $115,000 total, he said.
What a great job. As Hilzoy figured out, Mrs. Exterminator received over $3,000 a month for making the equivalent of one phone call a day.

Guess I missed the casino boat. If only I had been born a morally bereft Republican instead of an honest progressive liberal, I could have been living high on the hog with the rest of the congentially corrupt.
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Fly me to the moon

Is the space program being privatized?
A new rocket designed by a company that wants to offer low-cost space launches was poised to make its maiden flight Saturday.

If the launch is successful, the Falcon 1 will become the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit.
Ironically the first payload for this private rocket will be on a government contract.
The rocket's payload is a satellite for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Academy. FalconSat-2 will measure space plasma phenomena, which can impair space-based communications.
I wonder how many of tax dollars that cost? Money that will aid research and development for a private company instead for the whole of the country.
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Friday, November 25, 2005

"Christian" Network battles for control of public TV

This is how the religious right is taking over the dialogue. Rather than allow a California college to sell to a vendor of its choice who would keep the programming local, the largest Christian network, Daystar, upped their bid on the day after the bidding closed and then successfully sued in court to have their tardily revised bid for the college's radio station accepted. Daystar is more likely to air only national content and will almost certainly have less diverse programming.

This I think is how the religious extreme right have managed to get their will imposed in spite of their minority status among the population. They became the big businessmen of God instead of the poor preachers of the Gospel and with money comes influence. They use their money in thinly veiled political PACs and as the current SCOTUS battles illustrate, lobby for amenable judges at every level, who allow them dubious legal leeway in court rulings and elect legislators who ease regulatory safeguards designed to keep any one group from obtaining control of the media. This is how they corral their "base" and is why so many deluded souls still believe to this day there were WMDs in Iraq when we got there.
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The loneliness of the long term patent officer

Who knew. They really are still reinventing the wheel. More than 30,000 wheel patents have been issued since 1790 and Russell Stormer has reviewed 124 of them annually for the last 23 years. The WaPo makes it sound almost a noble occupation but Stormer had more pragmatic reasons for getting in the "art of patentry." He said, "this is the only job offer I had when I graduated."

Being a patent examiner is more interesting than you might think. It struck me as being rather forensic in nature, sort of the CSI of inventions.
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CIA unveils Open Source media

Well the rumors are true. Everybody's jumping on that Open Source logo, including the CIA who just started hosting its own weblogs.
The blogs are posted on an unclassified, government-wide Web site, part of a rechristened CIA office for monitoring, translating and analyzing publicly available information called the DNI Open Source Center.
However, it looks like the new Open Source media haven't really got the hang of it yet. It appears there's a great deal of interagency snobbery about publicly available information and apparently it's going to take the old guard some time to catch on to the technology.

Come to think of it, that could sort of describe the old Open Source Media as well. Meanwhile I think I'll head over to the HuffPo to see what's going on in the world.
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Being president is hard work

Much as I dream of impeachment, there is a downside to removing Bush from office early. All these guys will be out of a job.
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Ex-FEMA Head Starts Disaster Planning Firm

Truly the headline of the day. And if you need someone to turn a serious emergency into a complete disaster, "Heckva Job" Brownie is your man. He's available to start immediately as his former gig as "consultant" to FEMA finally ended a couple of weeks ago. And who wouldn't pay for this advice.
Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.
Perfect how to avoid the appearance of incompetency, because taking responsibility is such hard work. Like taking charge and making phone calls instead of emailing your friends asking about how you looked on TV. And maybe watching some other news reports besides the ones you appeared in?

But incompetence is its own reward in BushAmerica and Brownie says he already has prospective clients and plenty of support.
"My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me."
Heck, Bush will probably give him a Medal of Freedom too.

Heretik has much more to say on this Disaster, Inc. and a few related items. He's looking for some Creedance but doesn't really find any.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving thanks

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I don't like turkey and could care less about football. Besides, the whole "eat until you're sick" thing has always put me off when there are so many people around the world who will go hungry today. And then there's the irony of celebrating a holiday that was created out of the largess of Native Americans, whom our government screwed over a short time later.

Nonetheless, I do like the theme of giving thanks and I am thankful that I will be having dinner with my family for the first time in many years instead of my usual lonely celebration with a TV dinner. I'm especially grateful that I don't have to cook anything. Considering the decline of my cooking skills, I'm sure my family is also grateful that I didn't insist on trying. I'll bring flowers instead.

Looking at the greater world, I'm thankful that George Bush can never be president again and SCOTUS aside, that this nightmare administration can't last longer than three more years. I'm thankful that Americans are waking up and the deceit and corruption of this White House is finally being exposed in so many ways that only its most die-hard supporters still feel it's appropriate to wave the flag in its name. I'm thankful for the courageous and patriotic Americans that worked tirelessly to expose the liars and frauds that populate the Beltway. And thank you to those who determinedly seek to impeach the current "regime of terror."

I'm thankful for our troops in the Iraq and around the world for bravely honoring their word to serve their country even when their government reneged on their side of the agreement. I'm thankful for all those soldiers who will survive this day and come home to make their famililes whole again. I'm thankful that even in the White House circle, talk of a draw down is finally becoming serious.

I'm thankful that our First Amendment rights haven't been lost entirely and that we can still criticize our "leaders" even when they seek to label disagreement as repehensible or traitorous. And I'm really thankful for blogging and the miracle of the internets. Thanks to Blogger for allowing any regular schmuck like me to become an insta-pundit. Thanks to Buzz Flash, to all the other bloggers and my discussion lists, without whom I'd have nothing to say. And most of all, I'm thankful for all of you readers for your encouragement and your commentary. Without you, I'd be talking to myself and since I'm not rich - people might call me crazy.

Happy holiday to those who celebrate and to those who don't, it's still a good day to remember what you're thankful for. Wishing you all peace, happiness and a better world.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A grim Thanksgiving tale

Mark Morford describes a White House Thanksgiving. Makes you feel like you're really there.

[May be offensive to Republicans]
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My novel is finished

I love it when Heretik posts this game. Write a novel in six words. Today's theme is Thanksgiving.

My entry: Only three years left. Or less.

Go ahead. Give it a try.
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For the kids who have everything

I've been hanging around at Mr. Sun's place lately . His Omnipresence has a list of gifts for the conservatives that will amuse. My favorite:
Trickle Me, Elmo. It's never too early to start teaching your children about the benefits of supply-side economics. Your kids will squeal with delight when tax cuts for the rich trickle-down to middle class Elmo. Living wage not included.
But don't feel left out, he promises to offer an alternate list for liberals soon. He's kind of ecumenical that way.
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The Xing of a Vice President

I suppose by now you all know the story of the X'ing of Cheney at CNN. The Bush bloggers jumped over it like wolves on raw meat but it was pretty immediately debunked, as I posted this morning at the Detroit News blog. But that doesn't stop the most rabid apologists from trying to make it an issue. I saw this on Newswire and I was embarassed for them. I don't know how they could have posted it really. It's so ridiculous, I thought at first it was a joke. Here's my favorite quote.
...Callers were repeatedly told by CNN, "Tell the President and Vice-President Dick Cheney to stop lying." Team Hollywood's conversation with the newsdesk was recorded. When the tape is played back, amongst political statements being made by the network were the words that the "X" was intentional, as an act of free speech by CNN.
Give me a break. When's the last time you called to complain to a cable company, or any corporate HQ and were engaged in any conversation? For Pete's sake, the first thing they do is put you on hold. When and if a human finally talks to you, they transfer you to voice mail.

Unsurprisingly, Cookie Jill at Skippy's place discovers Team Hollywood, the PR firm that issued the release, is just another Republican funded slime machine.

It speaks volumes I think, about how acceptable outright falsehoods are among the far right noise machine. I suspect their tactical manual reads something like, "When cornered with the facts, distract - distract - distract. In other words, lie your ass off and start an obtuse argument.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Quick bytes

Murray Waas nails our President of Last Resort. So much for his contention, "Congress voted on the same intelligence I had."

Joe at Americablog has the ultimate undermining of our troops by the new Iraqi government. While Cheney is here sliming Americans who ask questions, the Iraqi powers that be issued a statement asking us to get the heck out of Baghdad and tacitly condoned violence against our soldiers. This is what almost 2,100 soldiers died for.

Tom DeLay is looking for a speedy dispatch of his money laundering case but the judge isn't budging. Doesn't sound good for a dismissal but we'll all be keeping an eye on this one - something the good judge can't fail to notice I'm sure.

Yet another explosive document leaked out of the UK. The five-page transcript of a conversation between Bush and Blair indicates Tony talked George out of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters. Tell me again how a record number of journalists died accidentally in Iraq so far. Word has it the leaker on this one has been caught and will be prosecuted.

Tas at Loaded Mouth thinks a certain somebody owes Eason Jordan an apology over this. So does the gang at Shakes Sis. I have to agree. So how about it Glenn? What's your insta-defense this time?
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Chavez delivers promised oil

The White House and its allies love to trash Hugo Chavez but back in the Commonwealth of Mass, one Congressman is willing to give the President of Venezuela the respect he deserves. Rep. William D. Delahunt met with Chavez in August, to take him up on his offer and now will be delivering discounted oil to the poor shivering masses in New England.

A lot has been made of Chavez' leftist leanings, but all I know is he delivers what he promises, unlike most of our politicians. Yeah he nationalized the oil company but he passing on the benefits to those who need it the most. That's more than I can say for our privatized system. They could freeze to death for all Exxon cares.
Asked if he was subverting State Department policy toward Chávez, Delahunt said, ''I don't work for Condoleezza Rice. I don't report to the State Department. I report to the people who elected me in the state of Massachusetts. I belong to an independent branch of government."
Good for him for remembering that.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]
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Just bring the troops home

I don't read H.D.S. Greenway but I'm told he's normally conservative and he's jumped on Murtha's bandwagon.

HAVING COME recently from Iraq, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania. American troops have become ''a catalyst for violence," and therefore more part of the problem than the solution. ...I believe now that we no longer control events in Iraq and that in the end we cannot hold the country together.

...Iraq today is ''a black hole," as France's antiterrorism judge, Jean-Louis Brugiere, said, sucking in impressionable youths from all over the Muslim world and radicalizing them. Donald Rumsfeld is said to have asked if we were creating terrorists faster than we can destroy them. The answer is yes. The Iraq war is harming us in the greater struggle against Islamic extremism and making the United States less secure.
There's much more but here's the tipping point, he says, ..."we can declare victory and go home...," and I wholeheartedly agree.

Welcome to my reality H.D.S. and I forgive you for taking so long. I won't even mention that I predicted it would turn out this way.

[hat tip JZS]
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What is this anyway

Alright. I admit it. I'm just not hip and I'm clearly out of the loop. I've been seeing this all over Blogtopia and I can't figure it out. What the heck does (y!tlctp) mean?
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Monday, November 21, 2005

War and treason

My schedule changed and I'm working for the next two days so posting will be a little light. I'm just going to send you to the best of what I've seen today. Best being a relative word when you're reading about the atrocities of this administration.

Torture must be contagious. Brits bringing new meaning to the word "drill sargent." Just ick.

There are WMDs in Iraq after all. The trouble is we brought them with us. As if the DU weapons, white phosporous and "new" naplam weren't bad enough, here's another instrument of mass destruction they're not talking about - shoulder mounted assault weapons that pulverize buildings with shock waves.

And what's up with this? Prime time politicos are rallying around Scooter Libby, pledging to his defense fund. Treason supporters include, Jack Kemp, Steve Forbes, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and our old pal, child torturer Mel Sembler.
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US loses in church vs. science

Here is more collateral damage of the White House war on science. The best stem cell researchers in the country turned down a prestigious position at Stanford University and are going to Singapore instead because their work won't be so restricted there.

This couple is likely to come up with significant breakthroughs in the field of cancer research. Any commercially or medically valuable applications will be patented and used in Singapore instead of benefiting Americans. The couple would have loved to stay here but the funding for the program seemed liable to be blocked or even withdrawn, at least partly because of religious extremists who would destroy all scientific inquiry in the name of God.
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Outsourced "intelligence"

So technically, the White House didn't directly mislead us into war. They paid John Rendon $311.26 per hour to mislead them into it. Rendon and his highly secretive company are still on the payroll. So far they've soaked the taxpayer for $56 million in false propaganda. Think Progress has the links and more.

Meanwhile, Rendon probably shouldn't count on a Christmas bonus this year. Now that the propaganda is falling apart, word has it there's some grumbling about the program being too expensive and ineffective. What did they expect when they privatized un-intelligence?
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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Abramoff Files - Scanlon charged, will likely roll over

When Abramoff was first indicted I thought it just another token arrest, a Rovian trick to distract from worse news but it's clear now this case is no planned smokescreen. It's beginning to look like a full fledged conflageration that's liable to the burn the Beltway to the ground. Abramoff's partner in crime, golden boy Michael Scanlon, has just been charged and it appears he's ready to turn star witness for the prosecution.

This is going to be big. There's not a major GOP pocket this pair doesn't have their hand in and one suspects a few Dems may have also succumbed to the charms of the dastardly duo. If this investigation is conducted honestly and fully, we stand a chance on ridding the Beltway of enough corruption to make the government sorta functional again. I feel kind of like I'm in a Disney movie and all my wishes are coming true. Redd has a lot more on this well worth reading.

Meanwhile, my favorite player so far in the unfolding drama is this scandal's obligatory blonde, Italia Federici. Here's a girl looking for a Hollywood contract. The compleat opportunist. Maybe she'll even get to play herself in the made for TV movie.

But I kind of like her spunk. She fronted for a GOP skeptic-based anti-environment agency, took a quarter of a mil in bribes and then skipped out on her appearance before a Senate Select Committee. McCain had to send the marshalls after her and as he said, her testimony was bizarre. One hopes he asked her to define decorum.

Pensito reports, "despite the continental sound of her name, Italia came off in the hearings as a product of American suburbia, an emanation in the same vibe as Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Kellyann Fitzpatrick and the late Barbara Olsen." But here's the delicious part. "She wrote at least one op-ed piece for GOPUSA, the propaganda “news” site that “employed” the Republican prostitute/reporter, Jeff Gannon."

What a story. It's got tabloid TV written all over it. And that's exactly what this story deserves. A 24/7 feeding frenzy would give it the stature it so richly deserves in the public eye.
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No way out

This is surely the pic of the day. Series here. Apparently he doesn't even have an exit strategy for getting out of a room.

Maybe that's why he did an about face on the propaganda today.
After fiercely defending his Iraq policy across Asia, President Bush abruptly toned down his attack on war critics Sunday and said there was nothing unpatriotic about opposing his strategy.

"People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq," Bush said, three days after agreeing with Vice President Dick Cheney that the critics were "reprehensible."
You think somebody finally figured out the reprehensibles pretty much covered 2/3 of the US population and the greater part of the rest of the world?
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Cross with the Boss

Just when you think politics couldn't get any more petty, there's this.
An effort by New Jersey's two Democratic senators to honor the veteran rocker was shot down Friday by Republicans who are apparently still miffed a year after the Boss lent his voice to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

The chamber's GOP leaders refused to bring up for consideration a resolution, introduced by Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine, that honored Springsteen's long career and the 1975 release of his iconic album, "Born to Run."
These sort of resolutions are normally routinely passed without debate. Could this bunch of GOP losers get any more pathetic?
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Bunny Greenhouse complaint moves forward

This in interesting. Bunny Greenhouse's allegations have been kicked over to the DOJ by the Pentagon. It appears to me her story gained too much steam on the internets for them to ignore with the expectation they could just "disappear" her charges of fraud.
Two former Halliburton workers have been charged with taking kickbacks while working for the company in the Middle East. And Pentagon auditors have questioned more than $1billion in costs for the company's work there.

"The company continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department's investigation of certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq," Halliburton said in a written statement. "As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."
That last will become the defining phrase of the Bush presidency.
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Sunday Sermon

[via Jules Siegel]
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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Headline of the Day

Car bombs kill 48 in Iraq; Bush says war on track

[Reuters via the essential Buzz Flash]
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We get comments

I get most of my hate mail at the Detroit News blog. My favorite of the week.
Libby; I try to read you everyday. I also listen to Rush Limbaugh. I'll tell you, that to me, Rush makes alot more sense than you do. If someone is spewing hate it is you.
Hey, at least he reads me. I suppose I should have said thanks.
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Still a free country?

Via The Agitator, here's one I almost missed. Forget about Bill O'Reilly's list. You haven't truly arrived, as Doug Thompson found out, until you make the White House enemy list for having “written and promoted opinions that are contrary to the government of the United States of America.”
My file begins on September 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. A Marine guard standing post at the Navy Yard in Washington jotted down the license number of my Jeep Wrangler after I was spotted taking pictures of armed guards at the locked-down military facility.
He was subsequently visited by the FBI.
I thought the matter was dead until a few weeks ago when an old friend from Washington called, said he was in the area, and suggested lunch. At lunch, he showed me the 100-plus pages of the file on me that grew out of that first encounter with Agent Ryan of NCIS.

“Much of this information was gathered through what we call ‘national security letters,’” he said. “It allows us to gather information from a variety of sources.”

...According to my file, the banks where I have both business and checking accounts have been forced to turn over all records of my transactions, as have every company where I have a charge account or credit card. They’ve perused my book borrowing habits from libraries in Arlington and Floyd Counties as well as studied what television shows I watch on the Tivos in my house. They know I belong to the National Rifle Association, the National Press Photographers Association and other professional groups. They know I attend meetings of Alcoholic Anonymous on a regular basis and the file notes that my “pattern of spending” shows no purchase of “alcohol-related products” since the file was opened in 2001.
There is much more intimate detail, some unknown even to his family, but no evidence of criminal activity in the file, which pre-Bush would have seen it destroyed by now. Now by executive order, the file is kept indefinitely and shared with all government agencies and also “appropriate private sector entities” although the order does not explain what those entities might be.

One suspects it's probably those private contract intelligence agents no one bothered to tell us about. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is pushing for ever expanding powers to spy on Americans, with no oversight whatsoever.

Rightwingers keep telling me that I should be grateful I live in a country where I'm free to criticize my government. Tying up FBI assets for four years spying on a law abding American, on the basis of his "writing and promoting contrary opinions" suggests that may not be as true as it once was.

Ready to believe in the police state yet?
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Dear Mr. O'Reilly...

Well all the cool kids are doing it, so though I'm late to the party, I just had to make a pitch for Bill O'Reilly's enemies list. What the hey, I've been bashing Bill for years, even before I had a blog. Via News from Davison, I see Pensito Review is archiving posts. Here's my pitch.

Dear Bill,

Please add me to your enemies' list. I know it's getting rather long now that you've been inundated with volunteers but I believe as a long standing smear artist of little renown, I deserve a slot at the top of your roster.

My credentials are impeccable. I'm a progressive liberal who thinks the occupation of Iraq will go down in history as the most dunderheaded policy move ever recorded and was only made possible by self-serving blowhards like yourself.

I hate America so much that I promote the right of gay people to marry, a woman's right to choose abortion, the legalization of drugs as an alternative to a failed prohibition system and the citizens' right to freely assemble and publicly air their dissent to a corrupt government.

Furthermore I think any duplicitous lamebrain who doesn't know the difference between a falafel and a loofah shouldn't be opining about sex, much less government policy. I would say in the world of political punditry, The O'Reilly Factor is the carnival freak show thanks to your immoderate moderation. I blog about your idiocy and your painfully apparent inadequacies regularly.

In closing, I would like to suggest the next time you think about opening your mouth on any issue of importance to our country, you shove the Coit Tower down your throat and think again.


Libby Spencer

Proudly smearing Bill O'Reilly since 1998

Do you think I'll make the cut?
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Hey Bush Bloggers - you "won" the round - what are you going to do next?

I've been blogging my reaction to the latest GOP dirty parliamentary trick at the Detroit News blog here and here. In reading over the Bush blog corps glee over this Phyrric victory, I'm struck by the irony of this statement made by their ringleader.
(Murtha's statement that U.S. troops are magnets for insurgent attacks is demonstrably untrue -- in fact, those attacks are now almost always against Iraqis, civilian or military or police, and this fact is making the insurgents increasingly unpopular).
And Glenn knows this because he spent so much time in Anbar province as Murtha recently did? Perhaps Bush has loaned him Air Force One so he can make secret night time reconnaisance runs? One wonders how he can speak with such bloody certainty.

But it gave me an idea. I've given up on suggesting the keyboard warriors go fight the cursed war themselves. According to them, it's going so swimmingly there's hardly a need for more soldiers. Besides how many of them are even fit enough to be useful?

However, there is still a way for them to help out the cause. No one can dispute that somewhere between 40 to 60 percent of the Iraqis are jobless. Since they can't start up manufacturing industries without an infrastructure that provides reliable water and electricity, the war bloggers could do their part by creating a tourism industry for them.

So how about it Bush bloggers and I think Glenn should lead the way on this. Since they're not really targeting Americans and the insurgents are so unpopular, I'm sure the civilian population would welcome an influx of US touro dollars with sweets and roses. How about all these "true believers" take their next family vacation in Baghdad or Fallujah instead of Disney World or the beach. I know there's no rides or cabana bars there but it's the least they can do to support our troops.

Show up in person and show them that you believe we are winning. Check out all that good news that doesn't make it to the "liberal press," right up close in person. If you can afford to throw a party at the Rainbow Room, you can afford a suite at the Palestine hotel, I'm sure. I'll be looking forward to the live blogging of your day trips to Anbar.
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Police state creep

Rolling Stone digs up the dirt on the propaganda war and unearths John Rendon. It's a must read, detailing the chain of misinformation planted by this perception management professional in order to sell the war and what a surprise. One of his "little helpers" is Judy Miller.

This however, is the most disturbing paragraph.
Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy.
Do you recall being asked by our government if it's okay with us, for them to spend our tax dollars outsourcing intelligence work to private contractors who require no oversight from the Congress? I don't either because if they had asked, I'm pretty sure I would have said no.
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Treasongate still open

This seems like good news. Looks like Paddy is going to come through for us.
In filings obtained by Reuters on Friday, Fitzgerald said "the investigation is continuing" and that "the investigation will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment" against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Oh that cute little son of an Irishman. How could I have ever have doubted him?
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Rovian Tactics: 101

Lesson one: When caught in incompetency, attack the messenger.
The Republican National Committee will begin broadcasting television ads in key markets nationally this weekend that suggest Sen. Harry Reid is "playing partisan politics" with the war in Iraq.
Reid has an answer to that.
"Instead of giving our troops a plan for success or answering the serious questions of the American people, they've decided to start up the Rove/Cheney attack machine," Reid said Thursday on the Senate floor. "We're at war. We need a commander in chief, not a campaigner in chief. We need leadership from the White House, not more white-washing of the very serious issues confronting us in Iraq." [via Americablog]
Lesson two: If lesson one doesn't work, kill the message.
House Republicans, sensing an opportunity for political advantage, maneuvered for a quick vote and swift rejection Friday of a Democratic lawmaker's call for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.

"We want to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. "We will not retreat."
Yeah, except from a full and fair debate on the merits. And what's with this "we" shit? Did Denny waddle up to the recruiting office and enlist when I wasn't looking?
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Substandard offer rejected by UN

Acoustic Dad points us to a UK Guardian article on the UN rejecting an offer from the US to tour Guantanamo because of the restrictions placed on the visit. The UN rightly thinks it's rather a waste of time to investigate the repeated claims of abuse, if they are not allowed to interview inmates in private.
"We deeply regret that the United States government did not accept the standard terms of reference for a credible, objective and fair assessment of the situation of the detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility," they said in a statement.

The special investigator, Martin Nowak, added that the US's stance compared poorly with that of China, which had allowed unrestricted access to its jails.
As Acoustic Dad said, "Less cooperative than China huh? Do you guys realise how stupid you look?" Unfortunately Dad, some of us do.
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Talk about your Greek chorus....

Is this funny or is just me? A bunch of right wing bloggers being "wooed" by a bunch of far right extremist politicians, (the very leaders of the thugocracy), sitting around for two hours complaining about how the major media, (that up until Katrina were "playing their song"), are so one-sided in their coverage.

Really, don't you just hate when people go "off message" with stupid stuff like opposing facts? So what else can great new "citizen journalists" do to remedy this horrible inequity, but repeat the party line and link to each other - repeatedly?

Good for them. Somebody had to solve this problem and heck, I needed a laugh today.
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The left's answer to The Right Brothers has come out with a new song. As far as I know, they're not trying to get on MTV with it, so get it here and enjoy the new White House anthem, You're an Asshole.
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Are we better off today?

Shakespeare's Sister has a great post on whether Bush's 2nd term is a blessing in disguise. I've been thinking this for a while myself and believe over the long run it will be. But Shakes Sis says it better than I ever could. Excerpts:
Yes, it's better, in retrospect, that Kerry lost. But not solely, or even primarily, because of some benefit to the Democrats. It's better because it will, I suspect, hasten the demise of the current thread of conservatism wreaking havoc on America (and elsewhere).

...Conservatives have been doggedly pursuing this moment for a generation, and I don’t think anything was capable of stopping them, except for what’s happening now—an exposure of their radical and heartless agenda for exactly what it is. It’s not just that Bush is incompetent (although he is), but that the conservative philosophy is fundamentally flawed and irreparably ill-suited to a liberal democracy. Only in its wanton and unchecked application were its intrinsic defects and hypocrisies laid bare to the average American; it’s wise to remember, the first widespread revolt against the current power-holders centered around a woman named Terri Schiavo. She was the beginning of their (domestic) end, long before a hurricane named Katrina.

The conservative movement reached its ugly pinnacle, pulling America along with it, and now it’s starting its long fall, taking America with it. Appropriate, I suppose, we’re hitting rock bottom with a dry drunk leading the way. Hopefully, on our way down, we’ll collectively learn something about this particular brand of conservatism, and be a bit more wary of its vile purveyors in future.
Read it all for yourself.
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

The making of a president

Via Paul the Spud at Shakes Sis, the funniest Dubya Tribute video - ever. I laughed out loud.

And via Skippy, in a rare win over the imcomparable Heretik, photoshop of the week goes to Billmon. Keep reading, you'll find it. Fair warning - it's kind of disgusting.
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Murtha is da man - calls for immediate troop withdrawal

This is huge. Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine Corps colonel with 37 years of service under his belt, including serving in the Vietnam war, introduced a bill today calling for for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and redeployment within six months. Having come back from a trip to Anbar province, where the "insurgency" is at its worse, he says that the troops have done all that can be militarily accomplished and it's time to light a fire under the Iraq government to get them to take care of themselves.

He also says 80% of the Iraqi people are ready for us to get out of Baghdad and has this to say to White House attempt to smear the patriots who question bad policy.
"I resent the fact that on Veterans Day, they criticized Democrats for criticizing them," Murtha said. "This [the war] is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public knows it, and lashing out at critics doesn't help a bit. You've got to change the policy. That's what's going to help the American people. It's time to change direction."
He endured the usual GOP smear job from draft dodger Hastert among others, and Heretik has the details on his response. Murtha didn't actually say chickenhawk, but the implication was pretty clear.

Meanwhile, Murtha had a lot more to say, but here's the money quote.
U.S. troops "don't deserve to continue to suffer," he said. "We're the targets. We're uniting the enemy against us. And there's terrorism all over the world that there wasn't before we went into Iraq."
Too bad when Bush promised to be uniter he meant, of terrorists instead of the American people.

Murtha says this is own gig; he doesn't speak for the party with this bill. That's too bad because I'm liking this Democrat and I'd like to believe in his party again. They should be supporting him outright and none of this namby-pamby waiting to see what the polls do to him first. This is a time to show some balls, not for balking.
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Cliff's Notes version - Plame scandal

Think Progress has put together a video outlining the basics of the Plame leak scandal in an easy to follow timeline.

Meanwhile, AmericaBlog hears Bob Woodward's latest excuses for acting as a White House flack and finds them lacking.

Bobby boy hasn't told us who his source is, but Raw Story has an inside tip that it's National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. That would make sense considering earlier widely reported rumors that Hadley expected to indicted with Libby in the first place.

Redd at firedoglake advises those who think Bob's "confession" helps Scooter, to stop holding their breath before they pass out - it doesn't make any difference to his case. Also, in agreement with my latest take, Redd suggests that Fitzgerald is still rattling cages around the halls at 1600 and this story is far from over.
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Frauds R US

The latest entry to the White House scandal-a-thon is this charge of bid-rigging in Iraq reconstruction projects. A US businessman, Philip Bloom, is charged with using "'bribes, kickbacks and gratuities, amounting to at least $200,000 per month,' in order to obtain reconstruction contracts through a bid-rigging scam."
According to the complaint, Bloom "conspired with United States government contract employees and military officials to obtain fraudulently government contracts."

...Bloom, according to the complaint, ran several companies in Iraq and Romania, including one called GBG Logistics.
This is separate investigation from an earlier audit of work done in that region that found $100 million tax payers funds were unaccounted for.

This is why Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. This "war" in Iraq was never about WMDs, or freedom, or democracy or terrorism. It is and always has been about money.
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Pajamas Media disrobes

I missed the grand opening but having looked at their roster of almost exclusively far right wing bloggers, (token liberal David Corn what were you thinking?), I don't have much to say about it. It's all so confusing that even the key players couldn't explain it. At the moment it looks like a formalized version of the open post/link to each other thing, that is so popular among the Bush blogging crowd these days. I'm sure it drives traffic but how it informs the public escapes me. Perhaps it will evolve. Anyway, whatever it becomes eventually, it sure ain't no Huff Post.

I do find the new name particularly curious. Open Source MediaTM would suggest free content, just as open source software is free to all users. OSM's stern copyright warning would belie the name - but I guess if you're supporting an administration that routinely uses Bushspeak, where for instance, clear skies and clean water translates to allowing more pollution, you may as well play to your audience. Especially when your chief funder is a hard core neo-con with strong ties to the White House.

Kos has more on the name, Brad Blog has background and Tas at Loaded Mouth has some pointed commentary worth reading.

Update: More links. Photos of key players here. I think the woman who is so offended by James Wolcott having noticed the shots have this quality of soft porn is the one who posted them. Wolcott is right of course, forget the breast fondling, I haven't seen a mouth that wide open since the last time I watched a porno flick.
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Cheney attacks war critics

Nothing new about that but what is new is that Knight Ridder deconstructs and exposes Cheney's lies. They debunk the already tired claim that Congress had the same intelligence as the White House was privy to and the administration's ridiculous assertion that Congress authorized the removal of Saddam when in fact they merely authorized defensive action against what we now know were the ficitional WMDs. And this point is particularly good.

ASSERTION: In a Veterans Day speech last Friday, Bush said that Iraq war "critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs."

CONTEXT: ..."Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that was not part of our inquiry," Silberman said when he released the panel's findings in March.

...the committee found that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, analysts were under pressure to avoid missing credible threats, and as a result they were "bold and assertive" in making terrorist links.

In a July 2003 report, a CIA review panel found that agency analysts were subjected to "steady and heavy" requests from administration officials for evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaida, which created "significant pressure on the Intelligence Community to find evidence that supported a connection."
So in other words, while the committee concluded the intelligence community was not pressured to change it's findings, it was pressured to come up with findings that supported the foregone conclusions of the White House.

More at Talking Points Memo and Mahablog.
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Not a parody...

...but it should be. Via Avedon, Crooks and Liars has the video Keith Olberman created to help out the Bush apologists apologists, They've written a hysterically terrible song, called "Bush Was Right" that they're going to try get on MTV.

On their site they claim if MTV won't play it, it will prove a liberal basis. Apparently, it didn't occur to them that talentless hacks don't usually get on television. On the other hand, there was that talentless Japanese guy that became a big hit because he was so bad he was funny. Maybe they can jump on that genre.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Say it with pictures

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Cheney and oil execs caught with their pants down

Now we know why the GOP chair refused to swear in the oil execs at the recent hearing over price gouging. Now they can't be indicted for their documented lies to the Senate. Proof emerges that they did in fact secretly meet with Cheney in 2001.

I have more on this and channel an oil exec at the Detroit News Blog.
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Woodward lies down with the dogs

How far the mighty have fallen. In case you were wondering what happened to the ideals of the 60s, they were mostly sold out by their champions, as sadly evidenced by Bob Woodward's admission that he was told the identity of Valerie Plame by a White House source a month before Novak outed her in his column.

Now this isn't exactly a shock. It's been clear Woodward had become a White House embed since his first book on the administration, but it does make his past attempts to minimize the importance of the Fitzgerald investigation all the more nauseating. Not to mention it casts a new light on his defense of fellow White House steno, Judy Miller, since it's now revealed he also kept this knowledge of governmental malfeasance from his editors at the Washington Post.

The Bush bloggers have jumped on this development with glee, seeing in it some vindication of Scooter Libby. You can't blame them for trying, but their premise fits the material facts of this case about as well as Cinderella's ugly stepsister's feet fit into her glass slipper. I find it more an new indictment of the entire White House press choir and one has to wonder how many more so-called journalists are harboring White House secrets and just haven't been ratted out yet. It would certainly explain why the mainstream press continues to mock and/or marginalize its importance.

Furthermore, I find the mystery official having "voluntarily" disclosed this information to Fitzgerald a bit suspicious. I mean, really. Who volunteers to confess a crime unless they suspect they're about to be implicated in it? I'm thinking my prediction on a St. Patrick Fitzgerald Day miracle just got some new steam. This latest wrinkle suggests to me that Fitzgerald is still actively pursing a wider investigation and merely closed out the grand jury to shut up the noise machine on both sides of the fence.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Archived lies online

Here's a useful research tool. Commissioned by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Iraq on the Record, is an interactive database of 237 White House lies that led us to war. Searchable by keyword, speaker or subject, and featuring the public statements of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell.

More info on the contents in my post at the Detroit News Blog.
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Bush lies don't spin

EJ Dionne piles on, remarking on the president's latest tactic of blaming his critics for his own failures. Money grafs:
The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.

The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

...The bad faith of Bush's current argument is staggering. He wants to say that the "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate" who "voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power" thereby gave up their right to question his use of intelligence forever after. But he does not want to acknowledge that he forced the war vote to take place under circumstances that guaranteed the minimum amount of reflection and debate, and that opened anyone who dared question his policies to charges, right before an election, that they were soft on Hussein.
Somebody should tell Bush you can't "correct" the record by repeating the propaganda. Even the slowest pate in the electorate has caught on to that trick.
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Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...

Echoing his "welcome" in Argentina, Bush was greeted in South Korea by protestor's carrying signs saying "We are against Bush's visit." Local law enforcement is bracing for even bigger protests expected to come.

Meanwhile, they're still organizing protests against his "free trade" travesty across Central America. Costa Rica has a nation-wide rally against the treaty scheduled for Thursday. The fallout from protests in Panama is still occurring.

No wonder the guy is so paranoid.
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Reading the record - Bush's 2nd term

Thanks to ExPat Brian for pointing me to this Think Progress post that I missed , reviewing Bush's "accomplishments" since Diebold returned him to office. Read 'em all but some of my personal favorites:
11/9/04: Presidential Election Revealed Major Voting System Failures.

1/12/05: Search for Iraq’s WMD Comes To Quiet End.

3/21/05: Bush Interrupts Vacation to Fly Back to Washington and Sign Schiavo Bill In the Middle of the Night.

5/31/05: Vice President Cheney Says Iraq Insurgency In Its “Last Throes.”

7/26/05: For The First Time, Majority Says Bush Misled America Into War.
Links and much more at the post and it's not even that comprehensive a list.
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Spy drones to police US civilians

Oh great. This from the Drudge Report no less, military spy drones to fly over US cities for domestic law enforcement.
The device, a hovering robot carrying video cameras and other sensors, is being created and tested at HONEYWELL's Albuquerque, NM plant.

...The battery powered craft can stay in the air for 50-60 minutes at a time, and moves around at up to 55 kilometers an hour. The Micro Air Vehicle has flown more than 200 successful flights, including flying in a representative urban environment.

...Troops in Iraq could get the craft in a year or two. The spy drone would be deployed for domestic use shortly thereafter.
Coming soon to your neighborhood. How much more Orwellian can it get?
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Cheers for nursing home residents

Only the Irish would think of this.
DUBLIN, Ireland - A nursing home in Ireland has hit on a cheering way to keep up the spirits of its elderly patients -- by providing its own pub.

St Mary’s Hospital in County Monaghan, near the Irish border with Northern Ireland, believes ready access to a good pint may help its patients -- average age 85 -- actually live longer.
The thinking being that the patients still like to socialize and have a nip and it will prevent them from being "bored to death." I think they're probably right. In any event, it's a huge success with the facility reporting an increase in visitors. Good for the resident's morale, I would think.
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The Santa Clause

Say it ain't so. News from Davison breaks the awful story. Santa Claus lost his endorsement contract with CocaCola and will not appear on holiday packaging this year out of solidarity with WalMart's new "Happy Holiday" diversity program.

The toymaker's union, International United Enchanted Toy Producers (IUETP), are understandly upset. According to a spokeself,
After Wal-Mart, which many consider to be the standard bearer for "values", decided to drop all mention of Christmas in its stores, in favor of signs wishing "Happy Holidays", we thought something like this might happen. After all, what's more representative of America around the world than Coca-Cola? If Coke abandons Christmas, what's next? You're going to fire Santa? Why not just knock down the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Square?
Some rank and file elves speculated Santa may have sold them out. However, officials contacted at the Diversity Enforcement Agency (DEA), denied rumors that Santa refused to sign a renewal contract under pressure of threatened indictment and extradition from the North Pole for criminal association with snowmen.

As of press time, The Impolitic was unable to independently confirm either allegation. On a brighter note we hear Bad Elf beer will still be employing Santa's services. Maybe.
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PJ corps set to deploy

Pajamas Media, or whatever they might call themselves someday, is about to launch their "product" on Wednesday...zzzzzzzzzzzz. I'm already bored comatose with the whole sorry attempt to create a "new media," but the Poor Man Institute has an amusing recap on the machinations to date within the merry band of 70 keyboardists who "will accept you if you defend American Terrorism, torture, perjury, outting of CIA agents, deficit spending, lies, traitors, and foul play… but titties on dvds is over the line."

Seems like rather bad timing to me. I think they should have launched a lot sooner. The market for Bush apologists is not exactly bullish at the moment.
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Burr proffers political payola for pharma corps

The biggest trouble with living in North Carolina is my senators stink. Liz Dole goes without saying but I'm still figuring out Richard Burr and the more I know, the less I like him. His latest ploy to exempt the pharmaceutical industry from oversight under the guise of "protecting the public" is a case in point.
The North Carolina Republican has introduced legislation to create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, a new bureaucracy that would help spur research and development of drugs and vaccines to blunt the impact of a pandemic or bioterrorist attack. The agency, to be part of the Department of Health and Human Services, would get something no other agency has: a full exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.
That's less oversight than is required of the CIA, the National Security Agency or any military or intelligence organization. And before you're swayed by his explanations as to why this is a reasonable precaution, it's useful to remember that North Carolina is pharma corp central. The Research Triangle is the foundation of the economy in this part of the state and Burr is disturbingly cozy with its overlords.
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GOP losing their faith in their leader

If you needed any further proof that the White House is in trouble, than Rick Santorum's breakout from the party line last week where he stated "mistakes were made" in the runup to war - there's this. Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, GOP obfuscator John Roberts says "that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that senators would take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war."

Roberts is still hedging his bets though.
He said that agreement has been reached on the Phase 2 review that the intelligence panel is doing to look into whether the Bush administration exaggerated or misused prewar intelligence. The review may not be finished this year, he said.
Big surprise there. What do you want to bet it won't be "finished" before the midterm elections?
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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lies of the week

For your holiday reading pleasure. I don't know how they do it, but ToppleBush has Frank Rich on lies about torture and other funny stories.

Josh Marshall has the rundown on Ken Mehlman who is lying faster than the speed of sound on Tim Russert's program.

The WaPo remembers its mission and posts an article showing how Scooter Libby's lies cleverly provide cover for Cheney.

The CSJ notices there's a lot of lies left to be exposed in the Abramoff scandal. Damn those pesky emails.

Across the pond, they don't waste any time in the UK. Word has it impeachment proceedings could start in two weeks against Blair for lying his country into Iraq.

And Judy Miller (yawn), fires off some whining rants defending her whole lying life and takes a swipe at MoDo.

[via the essential Buzz Flash]
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Business as usual for Bush

Bush meets in secrecy with the Dalai Lama hours before leaving on a trip during which he will meet with China's President Hu Jintao. The president gave no advance notice of the meeting, the press was not invited to take photos nor did Bush make a statement about the meeting or Tibet's plight afterwards.

I'm sure His Holiness met in good faith but the tete-a-tete was obviously meant to generate a White House photo and press release to be seeded in the foreign press prior to the tour - to give the appearance of concern over human rights.

In truth, the subject is unlikely to come up in Beijing although China is legendary for its abuses . As Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) put it, the driving force behind the White House policy with China is: Business, business, business, business, business, business."
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Who's paying for this?

I read this and thought, Saddam's defense team has more than 1,100 lawyers on it? I can understand why these guys don't want to stay on the team after two of the lawyers have been murdered, but what are they all doing anyway?
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Blog party

Regular readers will notice that I finally did some work on the template and put some links on the side bar. I'm so pathetically techno-inept that it just dawned on me today that I could simply cut and paste the links from the other blog. I'm not sure I like the look of it - it seems somewhat untidy and I don't know how to do borders. This template a lot more complicated than my old one at Last One Speaks. I can't even figure out how to change the pitch on the font. It's set with this asterisk chain I don't understand. But enough about my techno-problems.

Say hey to ExPat Brian, blogging from Singapore, who links to The Impolitic - keeping us international since that scoundrel Rohit at Qatar Diary ritually delinked me. The young are so fickle. Now that he made some new friends in Qatar he throws away the old. Nonetheless I'm keeping him on both of mine because -well- I don't delink and I still like knowing what's going on in Qatar.

Anyway, Brian doesn't post a lot about politics but he's keeping his eye on the state of The States and I like his blog. He appears to be living a pretty good life in the Far East and he posts lots of photos. Check out this cool wine bar.
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GOP wishes for another 9/11

Be afraid, be very afraid. Capitol Hill Blue has unearthed a highly confidential GOP memo suggesting that "a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and 'restore his image as a leader of the American people.'"
The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

The memo outlines other scenarios, including:

--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead);
--A drastic turnaround in the economy;
--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war.

GOP memos no longer talk of “victory” in Iraq but use the term “successful resolution.”

“A successful resolution would be us getting out intact and civil war not breaking out until after the midterm elections,” says one insider.
The GOP is in chaos after their trouncing at the polls last week and their desperation is palpable. One can't fail to remember Bush was tanking in the polls when 9/11 saved him. Fortunately, the GOP powerbrokers realize it could backfire and the saner members see the connection between the fringenuts and the downfall of the party.
As Republican political strategists scramble to find a message – any message – that will ring true with voters, GOP leaders in Congress admit privately that control of their party by right-wing extremists makes their recovery all but impossible.
Nonetheless, you might want to avoid public transportation for a while - just in case.

[hat tip to Bruno]
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Save the Habe

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how vital Habeas Corpus is to our judicial system. You know that without habeas, our government can arrest us without a warrant, deny us a trial and hold us indefinitely without charging a crime. You remember that Padilla has been held incommunicado for the last 3 and a half years and still hasn't been charged with a crime.

I'm sure you're aware the Senate fringenuts, led by Graham, just passed a last minute amendment denying habeas protection to the prisoners at Gitmo. That's horrifying enough but it gets worse.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing on S. 1088 (pdf), a bill that would gut habeas corpus rights for [all] Americans.

Fortunately there are still some senators willing to protect our freedom. The Bingaman Amendment was immediately introduced to counter Sen. Graham's insane attack on our legal protections. Please visit One Million Phone March to Save Habeas a new website formed in response to this latest threat on due process and use their easy click and send letter to reach your legislators.

Be prepared to write your own letter on behalf of the Bingaman Amendment. And while you're at it, you may as well mention that you don't want them to support S. 1088 either, even if they're not on the committee. A little pre-emptive dissent couldn't hurt.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

John Edwards finds his inner progressive

John Edwards kicks some serious butt in an op-ed in the WaPo. He starts out with the words our president is incapable of uttering.
I was wrong.

He apologizes for supporting the invasion of Iraq and he lays the blame squarely on the White House doorstep. But he doesn't wallow in recriminations. He instead lays out a workable plan for salvaging this occupation gone so very wrong.

This piece makes me wonder if Edwards isn't sending out some feelers for 04. It's difficult to pick a single quote to illustrate but doesn't this sound campaign-like?
It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.
And it only gets better. He calls on kicking Halliburton and KBR out, calls the current policy imperalist and calls Iraq a mess and a failure. Sounds like he's reaching out to the progressives to me. Either it's for himself or for the party. Either way - give me more of this kind of talk.

This is what I've been waiting to hear from the Democratic Party. I don't even mind that they waited until the polls were abysmally clear to act, as long as they keep following through.
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Democracy dead in Ohio

Just in case you needed another reason to fight like hell to get the diabolical Diebold out of the election business, there's these astounding statistical anomalies arising out of last Tuesday's round of referendum voting in Ohio.

Just as in 04, well respected pollsters were somehow so wildly off the mark that their predictions were almost reversed in the tallies. Notably 44 counties in the state had Diebolds newly installed prior to the vote. Draw your own obvious conclusion.
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Give 'em that all time religion

The Air Force just doesn't get it. Hot on the heels of the scandal over religious discrimination against non-Christians at the Academy, a private group of fundie evangelists called the Navigators has been allowed to establish a 24/7 ministry there in order to train recruits to to evangelize among their peers. While this skirts the newly enacted guidelines prohibiting officers from proselytizing and the Academy does allow various other religions a few hours a week to minister to their members, the fundies are the only one allowed full time access to the cadets.

Odd coincidence. Do you suppose this has anything to do with the fact that the fundies are so well organized politically and deliver voting blocs to the polls?
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Friday, November 11, 2005

All the corn in Kansas...

Mother of God. It's not Dorothy and Toto's Kansas anymore. The state has gone over the rainbow to fantasyland. The US state of Kansas has ruled that science classes in public schools should include the teaching of intelligent design and the doubts it casts on Darwinian evolution.

God help us all. This shouldn't happen in America.

[hat tip Mycos]
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DeLay cut his own throat

Despite DeLay's campaign style defense of literally advertising himself as a victim of an overzealous prosecutor, new details emerge that show it was DeLay's own remarks to investigators, made at a time when he was trying to plead to a lesser offense in order keep his stranglehold on the House intact, that nailed the lid on his indictment.
At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.
His lawyers say he was under duress at the time. Yeah, I suppose being guilty of a crime is pretty stressful - especially when you get caught.
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Rove back on the attack?

Word has it that Rove is back to his old self, strutting around the halls of 1600 but how lame is this response to the growing evidence that Bush lied us into war.
The White House's effort to stop the erosion is centered on defining the president's critics as Democrats who voted for the war based on the same intelligence Mr. Bush saw but have switched positions, often under pressure from their party's left wing.

"I point out that some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Thursday at a news briefing. "They stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements, exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."

Ummm, let's see, the critics are guilty because they were given false evidence and believed their president wouldn't lie to them, or is it that our president is so stupid and lazy, he didn't bother to check out the credibility of the intelligence and just really believed God handed him what he had wanted for years - a chance to take out Saddam?

I think Rove might be slipping. It's such an obivous swiping of the critic's talking point on hypocrisy and past GOP statements on perjury and pre-emptive wars, but it doesn't hold water in this case. It's almost laughable that they think they can fool the public with the same tired and now debunked lies.
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Hell hath no fury like an evangelist scorned

Pat Robertson, self-proclaimed voice of God, is at it again. He's threatening the city of Dover, PA with God's wrath for having voted out the school board in retalition for their dunderheaded insistence on bringing "intelligent" design into the science classroom.

It seems the readers of MSNBC are not impressed. In a reader's poll, 73% of the respondent's said Pat is an idiot.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Poor folks get temporary reprieve from GOP slashing

Whoa. Big update on this post. The vote on the "starve the hungry" budget slashing bill was scuttled "in the face of a revolt by lawmakers over scaling back Medicaid, food stamp and student loan programs."

In explanation comes what one expects is the understatement of the week.
"We weren't quite ready to go to the floor," Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said five hours after recessing the House for closed-door meetings aimed a picking up votes from wavering Republicans.
Here's hoping the "rebels" stand their ground and please let this be a sign that the fringenuts' stranglehold on the process is finally losing its grip.
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A shift in the body politic

I've been working so much lately that I'm barely able to keep up with the breaking news, so this comes as a delightful surprise this afternoon. In the wake of an off-year warning from the voters in Tuesday's elections, it seems the true moderate conservatives in the GOP have found their conscience and perhaps a couple of other vital body parts and joined the Democrats in blocking the amendment that would have allowed Bush and Co. to sully our last pristine wilderness in Alaska beyond repair. ANWR is dead in the water, as the mods forced the fringenuts to back off by threatening to block a budget bill.

This is of course is another body blow to the Bush agenda since the administration had made destruction by oil rig a cornerstone of their "energy reform" plan. This is good. Not so good is the bill the amendment was attached to is the inhumane budget slashing measure that protects tax cuts for the rich by taking food out of the mouths of hungry children. This now seems destined to pass over the Democrats objections and despite the fact "several moderate Republicans have said they still would oppose the bill, which would allow states to impose new costs on Medicaid recipients, cut funds for student loans and child support enforcement, trim farm supports, and restrict access to food stamps."

Still perhaps all sanity is not lost on those who value their seats. The budget cuts are not a clear winner yet and the extension of Bush's tax cuts for the rich are facing unexpectedly stiff opposition.
In the Senate, a similar showdown will occur today, as the Finance Committee moves on a five-year, $60 billion bill that would extend expiring tax cuts from President Bush's first term. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) told Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) she would oppose the measure as fiscally unwise and an unfair boost to the affluent as Congress cuts programs for the poor.

Snowe's opposition would sink the bill. Even if she changes her position, the measure faces an uncertain future on the floor. Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) announced his opposition Tuesday.

"I do not know how anyone can say with a straight face that when we voted to cut spending last week to help achieve deficit reductions we can now then turn around two weeks later to provide tax cuts that exceed the reduction in spending," he said. "That is beyond me, and I am sure the American people."
You can say that again Senator.
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