Buncha potty-mouths in comments too. Tsk, tsk ...
I started keeping track of this list in September 2005 after noticing our frequent success at catching top lieutenants/associates/#2’s/etc. of al Qaeda in Iraq’s then leader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi ...
In his President’s Day commentary, USA Today founder Al Neuharth says that he once disputed the idea the George W. Bush was America’s Worst President Ever - but now he has seen the light ...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. general commanding the security crackdown in Baghdad said Friday that he has asked for reinforcements beyond the 17,000 U.S. combat troops already committed to the Iraqi capital as part of President Bush's emergency build-up.
The final number of reinforcements will be determined by the Pentagon - and possibly by Bush - as part of plans to expand the number of U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.
Although the devices were not IED’s like those found in Iraq, the explosions were in the area a group sponsored by the United States may be operating. The area in Iran is Sistan-Baluchestan near the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sy Hersh and a number of other reporters have said this is the area in which the MEK (or the mouthful name Mujahedin-e Khalq) have been operating.
This morning a Chinese newswire is reporting that the Iranians have evidence linking the attacks to the United States.
Even if the United States were behind the operation, it is unlikely the Iranians would find weapons and materials that would be identifiable as American. US organizations that are involved in covert operations are very good about not leaving signatures that can be traced.
That is even more of a concern. The Iranians are choosing to make an issue.
"Politics is like football. If you see daylight, go through the hole." --John F. Kennedy
That is why they are so eager to equate criticism of them with treason and to stifle debate. They have not only lost the debate over Iraq and general Middle East militarism, but their continuous extremism and deceit is being exposed, and they fear being held accountable. It is only natural that they want to render criticism of their war and their conduct impermissible.
And that was the point of Gaffney's column as well -- that it should be considered not only un-American, but actually criminal, to criticize the war and the people such as Frank Gaffney and Doug Feith who concocted it and sold it to the country. But ultimately, that tactic will get them nowhere. Americans are not going to be persuaded by the idea that they are obligated to refrain from criticizing Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and the wars they have spawned, to say nothing of the new ones they are attempting to foist on the country.
It is insufficient simply to have persuaded Americans that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. It was not merely a mistake. It was the by-product of extremely deceitful ideologues who exploited the 9/11 attacks to implement a very destructive agenda that long pre-dated 9/11 and that has nothing to do with combating terrorism other than the fact that terrorism is the pretense used to justify that agenda.
Department of Veterans Affairs doctors are furious over a recent decision by the Pentagon to block their access to medical information needed to treat severely injured troops arriving at VA hospitals from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"My JPTA account has been disabled within last few days," [Dr. Shane] McNamee wrote. "I called the hotline and was told that all VA accounts have been locked. Could not get a good answer why. Anyhow -- I have 4 [Iraq/Afghanistan] service members to arrive within the next 2 days. This information is terribly important," the doctor wrote.
The greatest threat America faces is not Iran or the terrorists or weapons of mass destruction or Russia or China. It is the purposeful and focused internal campaign, being conducted by right wing ideologues, to destroy the citizenry's capacity for critical thinking.
To make us so confused and so afraid that at the end of the day, we have no choice but to believe what Big Brother tells us, even if we know he's contradicting himself and making no sense whatsoever.
PBS Soundstage is airing Real Live Roadrunning March 1, 2007 at 10:00 PM ET (check local listings). (Emmylou and Mark Knopfler live in concert, from LA's Gibson Amphitheater, performing favorites from their album All the Roadrunning, such as "This is Us," "Right Now" and "All The Roadrunning," as well as favorites from each of their respective solo catalogs, like "Red Dirt Girl" from Emmylou and "Romeo and Juliet" from Mark)
"The Catholic Church is ripping the city's condom giveaway.
New York Archdiocese Cardinal Edward Egan and Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio released a joint statement calling the condom distribution program “tragic” and “misguided,” saying it promotes an "anything goes attitude."
The city began handing out free subway themed condoms on Valentine's Day - and plans to hand out some 26 million."
Not only is the administration sending them to risk their lives in a war that shouldn't have been fought in the first place. It sends them without appropriate equipment for the job they are being asked to do. How many more deaths in this illegal war is it going to take before Congress finds the spine to pass binding resolutions? Binding resolutions of impeachment. Bush and Cheney (and a few more) in shackles. They are nothing more than murderers and should be treated that way.
"How do you explain to the thousands of American troops now being poured into Baghdad that they will have to wait until the summer for the protective armor that could easily mean the difference between life and death?
It's bad enough that these soldiers are being asked to risk their lives without President George W. Bush demanding that Iraq's leaders take any political risks that might give the military mission at least an outside chance of success. But according to an article in The Washington Post this week, at least some of the troops will be sent out in Humvees not yet equipped with FRAG Kit 5 armor. That's an advanced version designed to reduce deaths from roadside bombs, which now account for about 70 percent of United States casualties in Iraq." [more . . .]
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday denounced President George W. Bush's Iraq troop buildup in a symbolic but politically potent challenge to his unpopular war strategy.
The Democratic-controlled House voted in favor of a resolution opposing the Republican president's decision to send another 21,500 troops to Iraq. The measure does not force Bush to act, but supporters hope to pressure him to reverse course and start bringing troops home."
During House floor debate on the Iraq War resolution Thursday, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) fell into a trap that's caught plenty of other Iraq war supporters -- misquoting Abraham Lincoln as advocating the hanging of lawmakers who undermine military morale during wartime.
"Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged," Young quoted the 16th president as saying.
The only problem: Lincoln never said such a thing. It was actually J. Michael Waller in a piece he wrote for Insight magazine in December of 2003. Waller later told Annenberg's FactCheck.org that the "supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one."
Annenberg counted 18,000 subsequent references to the Lincoln "quote" by people who typically support Bush's war policy and, moreover, oppose critics of the president's war policy.
Shortly after he left the House floor Thursday, Young found out that -- woops -- he had mistakenly put words in Abe's mouth. Young's spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, said the congressman took the quote directly from an article he read in The Washington Times on Tuesday, which as of Thursday had not been corrected.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon, vowed to "get to the bottom" of the administration's December purge of federal prosecutors, and said that if they found that the prosecutors had indeed received positive job evaluations from the Justice Department before being booted, "there will be real trouble."
Inside the Beltway, they call politics show business for ugly people, but absolutely no awards are given out to our hardworking representatives. Unless you call the honor of serving us, the unwashed hoi polloi scurrying about their districts, a just award. "Being elected to serve to good people of (insert place name here) is all the award I need." Gag. But some of these guys and gals have gone the extra mile and deserve to be recognized for their unstinting effort in making my job as a political humorist as easy as slam dunking from a step ladder.
And although attempts to secure a television deal for the awards ceremony this year were less than successful, our salivating expectations of extreme schadenfruede will not be absorbed by the bib of lamentation, as we hand out for the 14th time, the prestigious TGFTLSBIAC awards. The "Thank God For These Liquid Squeezebags Because I'm a Comic" Awards. Your gift bag is in the mail.
THE BEST IMPRESSION OF A SLEEPY LIZARD IN SEARCH OF A WARM ROCK AWARD: and the winner is... I'm sorry, we're all winners. The award goes to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, edging out 6-time winner Vice President Dick Cheney.
THE MOST IMPORTANT MAN IN AMERICA AWARD: For the 7th year in a row, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' doctor.
THE COMEDIC TIMING OF AN END TABLE AWARD: It's a tie! Hugo Chavez and John Kerry.
THE UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT OF PAYBACK AWARD: is given to the entire Republican Party Congressional Caucus for whining about the Democratic Party cutting them out of the legislative process.
It would be perhaps more precise to call paid-GOP-propaganda-shill-on-FOX News-turned-paid-GOP-propaganda-shill as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, a smarmy prick.
But he's also a daily hypocrite in his arrogant and deceitful dealings with the lapdogs of the White House Press Corps. He's their male dominatrix. He cracks the whip of mistruths as he casts out snide asides and the well-paid stenographers of the status quo roll over and retreat to their submissive stenography.
For a week and a half in April 2005, one of the favorite warlords of fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was sitting in a room at the Embassy Suites Hotel in lower Manhattan, not far from where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center once stood. But Haji Bashar Noorzai, the burly, bearded leader of one of Afghanistan's largest and most troublesome tribes, was not on a mission to case New York City for a terrorist attack. On the contrary, Noorzai, a confidant of the fugitive Taliban overlord, who is a well-known ally of Osama bin Laden's, says he had been invited to Manhattan to prove that he could be of value in America's war on terrorism. "I did not want to be considered an enemy of the United States," Noorzai told TIME. "I wanted to help the Americans and to help the new government in Afghanistan."
For several days he hunkered down in that hotel room and was bombarded with questions by U.S. government agents. What was going on in the war in Afghanistan? Where was Mullah Omar? Where was bin Laden? What was the state of opium and heroin production in the tribal lands Noorzai commanded--the very region of Afghanistan where support for the Taliban remains strongest? Noorzai believed he had answered everything to the agents' satisfaction, that he had convinced them that he could help counter the Taliban's resurgent influence in his home province and that he could be an asset to the U.S.
He was wrong.
As he got up to leave, ready to be escorted to the airport to catch a flight back to Pakistan, one of the agents in the room told him he wasn't going anywhere. That agent, who worked for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told him that a grand jury had issued a sealed indictment against Noorzai 3 1/2 months earlier and that he was now under arrest for conspiring to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. from Afghanistan. An awkward silence ensued as the words were translated into his native Pashtu. "I did not believe it," Noorzai later told TIME from his prison cell. "I thought they were joking." The previous August, an American agent he had met with said the trip to the U.S. would be "like a vacation."
Valuable intelligence assets are seldom paragons, and the best are valuable precisely because they have traveled down the darker alleys and know where opportunities and danger lie. However unsavory the résumé, says Alexis Debat, senior fellow at the Nixon Center and an expert in counterterrorism in South Asia, "it is always a smarter move to leave someone in place as long as you are getting reliable information." Noorzai's story is both a symbol and an example of this critical debate over means and ends. [...]
Noorzai has a flair for the dramatic gesture. In January 2002, to convince the Americans that he wanted to work with them and demonstrate not only his worth but his influence over his tribe, he delivered 15 trucks loaded with weaponry, including about 400 antiaircraft missiles, that the Taliban had concealed in his tribal villages. The gesture apparently had the desired effect. Over the next few months, Noorzai said he met with U.S. military and intelligence officers five times. The purpose, he says: "To make the situation in Afghanistan stable and also to help the Americans negotiate with the moderate members of the Taliban to reconcile with the [new] government."
The trial can be seen as a test case for the costs and benefits of arresting and prosecuting a man like Noorzai. Does the potential cost to the battle against terrorism in Afghanistan outweigh the benefit to the war on drugs? These are the kind of wrenching questions that the U.S. must weigh in its new twilight struggle for stability both at home and abroad.
For his part, Noorzai insists that his offer to help stabilize Afghanistan was sincere. He is also certain that he offered his help to the right people: "I still believe American and NATO forces are the only ones who can help Afghanistan rebuild." They will just have to do it without him.
"Much of the pre-war intelligence that led to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 came from the popular fortune-telling toy known as the Magic 8-Ball, according to documents released today.
As Congress debates the war in Iraq, scrutinizing the pre-war roles of such former administration figures as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, the news that a small plastic ball shaped the decision to go to war came as nothing less than a bombshell." [more . . .]
They will pat our troops on the back, throw them a parade, and then send them half-the-world away to die - who cares as long as these fake heroes back at home don't have to do a damn thing except stick a fucking magnet on their car and attack us so-called "liberal hippie leftists".
Leaders of Sunni Arab states are embarking on a military spending spree in an attempt to contain the growing threat from Iran.
Alarmed by the progress of Iran's nuclear programme and the prospect of a military clash between its Shia regime and the United States, Gulf leaders intend to use billions of dollars of oil revenue to purchase a huge array of military hardware.
Frances Kissling, head of Catholics for a Free Choice, talks about the right-wing activist who forced the John Edwards campaign to part with one of its bloggers.
What happened is [the Swiftboating of John] Kerry repeated, in a way. I think that's the goal. What you have are these right-wing Catholic groups, the Catholic League and Priests for Life and Fidelis, which came out after Donohue went after [Marcotte] calling for Obama and Hillary to repudiate Edwards for hiring them. What it is is part of the 2008 attack by conservative Catholics against Democrats, whether they're Catholic or not: Anything they can do to discredit the candidates is what they're going to do.
Any comment, any statement, and he's right there to claim that it's anti-Catholic. And one is used to this kind of thing getting attention from Fox [News]. But it's surprising that it's now being treated seriously by the mainstream press.
Now, were those bloggers pushing the envelope? Yes they were. Is it surprising that Edwards would hire them? Yes! From my perspective was that a good thing? Yes! From a mainstream perspective? Maybe not.
But what Amanda wrote is certainly no different from what prominent Ph.D.s, tenured professors of theology, are saying when they're talking about sex and Christianity. But this is it, Donohue doesn't like serious scholarly examination of Christian principles, or stories, or myths any more than he likes satire of it. He is an equal-opportunity bully when it comes to those things. It's a basic belief, whether it's about this or the Danish cartoons, put forward by some in the religious community, which says that what we believe is off-limits; it cannot be criticized because we have said it is sacred. And then there are the rest of us in democratic societies who say nothing is above criticism and that democracy even includes the right to ridicule.
There is something about this man and his attacks on women that is frightening. There was a while when I refused to go on air with him [for television appearances] because -- you know I am a very strong person -- but I felt physically threatened by this man. He never physically threatened me, but I felt like I was in the presence of an abuser. So for a long time I just refused because it was too degrading to be in his presence. I got over it eventually and have done a few things with him since. I understand that he is so offensive that he does himself damage; as long as I can maintain my equilibrium with him attacking me in the most vicious ways possible -- that only does me credit and makes him look like the abuser that he is. But the glee with which he went after Vanderslice and the glee with which he has gone after these women marks him as an abuser.
Donohue throws fire bombs for a living.
He takes aim at popular culture that invokes, spoofs or criticizes Catholic (read: Christian) symbols or tenets. The trouble is, he can't differentiate between healthy debate -- or meaningless entertainment stunts -- and real religious bigotry.
Donohue is also just as guilty of using overblown language and expressing bigoted ideas as the bloggers he criticizes.
Consider his remark, reported above, about Hollywood and Jews who hate Christians, made on the MSNBC program "Scarborough Country" in 2004.
Consider this statement made in 2005: "The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done -- for contaminating the blood supply in New York City and around the country."
It's hard to take someone that uninformed seriously when they see anti-Catholic bias behind every tree.
What it comes down to is this: People like Bill Donohue are bullies. They use fear and derision to derail views and ideas different from their own. That's dangerous. It short circuits the fundamental right of free speech.
Donohue runs an ongoing medicine show of disingenuous outrage, charging that any criticism of the Catholic Church -- if it comes from progressives or Democrats -- is "anti-Catholic bigotry," while defending all manner of bigotry so long as it comes from conservatives.
Again and again, all it has entailed is a call from Bill Donohue -- whom Mark Silk, the director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, described as "a thug" -- to set reporters' fingers tapping on their keyboards, another "controversy" made to order.
Despite there being some factual element buried deep within the story -- the two bloggers, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, were, in fact, working for John Edwards, and they had previously written strong, even intemperate words criticizing the Catholic Church -- this controversy was at its heart no different from the madrassa fiction.
Both were attempts by right-wing operatives to create a scandal out of nothing in an attempt to damage a Democratic presidential candidate; in both cases these right-wing operatives sought to enlist the help of the media to do their dirty work.
And in both cases, the liberal blogs fought back (albeit for slightly different reasons; it wasn't Edwards they were defending, but two of their own). They spread the facts, they put pressure on the media to report them accurately and they generally made the kind of ruckus the right wing has been much more effective at creating. In the end, Edwards did the right thing and refused to fire Marcotte and McEwan. Still, Donohue got the scalp he wanted: Marcotte quit the Edwards campaign this week. (You can read her explanation.)
The 2008 election will be a test of whether blogs have the power to enforce some standard of truth and shame on those news organizations that buy into made-up tales like the Obama madrassa story.
During the 2004 campaign blogs were still a novelty, an emerging information source and organizing tool with mostly unrealized potential. Four years later they have become a major player, and journalists -- terribly threatened though they may be by the idea that ordinary, uncredentialed people might be checking their work and calling them on their mistakes -- have finally realized that blogs can't be ignored. And if there's one thing bloggers don't hesitate to do, it is calling journalists to account when they have sinned.
As many a blogger has argued, they are much more accountable than traditional journalists -- write something inaccurate on your blog, and within minutes others will fact-check you and demand a correction (which on blogs is put right with the original post, not buried deeply somewhere in the publication a week later). So we can hope that that spirit of accountability will extend to the reporters currently booking hotel rooms in Des Moines and Manchester.
You don't have to let the right-wing smear machine lead you around by the nose. You can exercise your own judgment about what's true and what's a lie. You can give the public something better than what they've gotten in the last few campaigns. You can be true to your profession's noble ideals and the demands of democracy.
In a September 19, 2003, article on the annual game, the Columbia Daily Spectator, Columbia's student newspaper, reported that at the 2002 contest, the "Columbia University Marching Band, long known for its clever and often off-color jokes, made one that eventually gained national media attention." According to the Spectator, Hao, who was the "Marching Band Poet Laureate," "referred to 'Fordham tuition going down like an altar boy,' angering many students and fans from the Jesuit Catholic-run university."
Donohue subsequently appeared on Donahue with Hao to discuss the joke and promised to "demonstrate that the kid's a phony." Donohue then added that he had mentioned a hypothetical to Hao earlier that day on a different MSNBC program: "[W]e could hypothesize that there'd be a Columbia University pingpong team made of Asians, and somebody goes out there and says 'All gooks go home.' " Donohue finished his demonstration by asking: "Now, what's wrong with a gook joke?" After Hao responded that "the gook joke's completely irrelevant," Donohue stated: "All I'd ask for you is show the same degree of respect for Catholics as you would for Asians. You don't like the gook jokes? I don't like them, either. So just wise up." After a commercial break, Donohue returned to his argument and asked: "What about the gook jokes? I want to know, why don't you have a sense of humor about gook jokes?"
DONOHUE: Why don't you lighten up a little?
The perjury trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr., former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, has drawn every major news organization in the country to the federal courthouse in Washington. But none has fielded a bigger team - or was more openly crushed by the defense decision this week not to put Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby on the stand - than Firedoglake.com.
Even the Web-savvy may ask, Fire dog what? A collective of liberal bloggers, fueled by online donations and a fanatical devotion to the intricacies of the Libby case, Firedoglake has offered intensive trial coverage, using some six contributors in rotation. They include a former prosecutor, a current defense lawyer, a Ph.D. business consultant and a movie producer, all of whom lodge at a Washington apartment rented for the duration of the trial.
With a yeasty mix of commentary, invective and inside jokes, Firedoglake has seen its audience grow steadily during the trial, reaching 200,000 visitors and requiring an additional computer server on its busiest days - like Tuesday, with the revelation that Mr. Cheney would not appear.
"After all that, Shooter lets me down," wrote Jane Hamsher, creator of Firedoglake and organizer of its trial team. Mr. Cheney is nicknamed on the blog for his infamous hunting accident, which handily rhymes with the nickname for his former aide, Scooter.
At Firedoglake and other sites on the left, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, comes across as a righteous avenger, exposing the perfidy of Mr. Libby in particular and the Bush White House in general.
Politico blog Shenanigans is reporting that Helen Thomas, long-time Presidential correspondent, may be about to lose her front row seat in the Press Briefing Room.
Apparently, being the first woman officer of the National Press Club, the first woman member(and president) of the White House Correspondents Association, and the first woman member of the Gridiron Club, not to mention covering every president since John F Kennedy, does not necessarily entitle Thomas to a front row seat. But at this point it' s up in the air; White House Correspondents' Association President Steve Scully says only "I can tell you categorically no decisions have been made."
The rationale for such a move? It seems the latest White House Press Room renovations will only create one extra seat per row but many of the cable news networks having been hankering after a front row seat for some time. Who will be the winner in this reverse game of musicals chairs? Well, if it's between CNN or Fox, then, a Politico source wondered, "how do you choose between the two?" (Hmmm, how, indeed.)
This isn't the first time Thomas has been moved to the back of the room. A number of years ago she was given back row status for Press Conferences because she
gave Bush a hard timeno longer worked for a wire service (she's technically a columnist now).
According to Thomas it makes no difference where she sits, "I know how to shout". After watching her chase down Steven Colbert at last year's White House Press Association Dinner, we have no doubt.
"When we were putting the board [of directors] together, somebody [Fred Malek] came to me and said, look there is a guy who would like to be on the board. He's kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. Needs a board position. Needs some board positions. Could you put him on the board? Pay him a salary and he'll be a good board member and be a loyal vote for the management and so forth.
I said well we're not usually in that business. But okay, let me meet the guy. I met the guy. I said I don't think he adds that much value. We'll put him on the board because - you know - we'll do a favor for this guy; he's done a favor for us.
We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years - you know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.
He said, well I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board.
And I said, thanks - didn't think I'd ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category. So you never know. Anyway, I haven't been invited to the White House for any things."
-- David Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group
Google Earth: helpful for evading death squads in Iraq
BBC News Baghdad correspondent Andrew North reports that some people in Iraq are using Google Earth to avoid sectarian violence in Baghdad.
Bill Donohue Defended Bush Catholic Outreach Staffer Who Was Outed As Sexual Predator
During the 2004 presidential campaign, George Bush's Catholic outreach coordinator, 54-year-old Deal Hudson, was outed as a sexual predator for taking advantage of a drunken 18-year old while he was a professor. The National Catholic Reporter reported:
According to documents obtained by NCR, Hudson invited a vulnerable freshman undergraduate, Cara Poppas, to join a group of older students for a pre-Lenten "Fat Tuesday" night of partying at a Greenwich Village bar. The night concluded after midnight in Hudson's Fordham office, where he and the drunken 18-year-old exchanged sexual favors. The fallout would force his resignation from a tenured position at the Jesuit school, cost him $30,000, and derail a promising academic career.
Yet at least one prominent right-wing figure came to Hudson's defense: the Catholic League's Bill Donohue (Surprise, surprise! My em.), who has spent the last several days calling for the heads of two John Edwards bloggers. Donohue ardently defended Hudson in a statement, even invoking the Virgin Mary in downplaying his sexual assault:
In a press release, Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, minimized the charges against Hudson and attempted a joke at the Virgin Mary's expense. "Effective today," Donohue wrote, his organization had "a new requirement for all future employees: all candidates must show proof of being immaculately conceived, that is, they must demonstrate that they were conceived without sin."
The American Spectator reported later, "Responding to complaints, the Catholic League has removed the press release from its website."
Someday, you are going to read a whole lot about the shenanigans of one Douglas J. Feith and an elaborate scheme to get the United States to invade Iraq. That is because Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has been determined to get to the bottom of this sordid tale and is now, fortunately, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee and thereby empowered to get at the truth.
Last week, his focus led to the partial declassification of a report produced by the Pentagon's inspector general. Although its shocking revelations did not get the coverage they deserved - what with a jealous astronaut under arrest and the death of a certain voluptuous stripper/heiress - efforts such as Levin's eventually will uncover the full picture of why President Bush committed to a war costing tens of thousands of lives and an expected $1 trillion that served no valid national security purpose.
So was the White House in on this hustle? It is hard to imagine it wasn't, because Feith was selected by Cheney and Rumsfeld to run the "alternative" intelligence operation precisely because they knew he was an inveterate hawk, long committed publicly to a rollback strategy that would ensure Israel's security through regime change in the Arab world, beginning with Iraq.
More important, why did the president raise Feith's analysis over that of the government's lavishly funded intelligence agencies? That is the basic question, and one that truth-diggers such as Levin eventually may be able to answer.
"Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan I know he is going to vote against me." --Harry Truman
The president spent much of the hour-long televised session in the East Room addressing skepticism about his government's assertions regarding Iran and fears of a widening regional conflict. "The idea that somehow we're manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing [explosives] is preposterous," Bush said. Repeating a reporter's question, he added: "Does this mean you're trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I'm trying to protect our troops."
But bottling the lightning of blogger authenticity is not easy. Many blogosphere activists suspect anyone signing on with a campaign of selling out. And in the era of drum-tight message control, campaigns are not inclined to tolerate the independence bloggers need to maintain their credibility.
Getting the marriage between campaign and blogger right is probably more important for Edwards than for any other Democratic candidate. The former vice-presidential candidate is moving hard to the left to differentiate himself from Clinton and Obama ahead of next year's primary contests. The blogosphere, with its surfeit of Democratic base voters, is a natural target audience: almost a third of the estimated 5 million daily political blog readers identified themselves as strongly liberal in a George Washington University study published last October.
The least tangible, yet most important, asset that bloggers bring to a campaign is their credibility with their fans, which is earned over years and gives their endorsement of a candidate real weight. Joe Trippi, who as Dean's campaign manager in 2004 employed up to six bloggers, says that letting the bloggers operate freely while on the payroll is crucial: he remembers cringing as he read Moulitsas' criticisms of Dean even as the campaign kept writing $2,500 monthly retainer checks.
Marcotte's pre-Edwards blogging oeuvre may have been provocative and profanity-laced, but it was still not far from the mainstream of the blood sport that is political blogging. And there is a welcome wonkishness to Marcotte, who, unlike some star bloggers, is not afraid to parse policy with her readers. Those qualities helped earn Pandagon, which will continue in the care of other bloggers while she's gone, a dedicated and sizable fan base. Marcotte has made it clear to her fans that working for a campaign requires a change in tone. "I know how the game works," she wrote in a recent post. "I'm more interested in helping my candidate win than anything—luckily we see eye to eye on most issues."
Soldiers who were paralyzed, suffered brain damage and lost limbs owe the government enlistment bonus money.
They must pay the money back because they didn’t fulfill their tour of duty.
But a leaked letter obtained today by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-MD) office reveals that conservatives have formulated a strategy to avoid talking about the central question of the debate.
In the letter, leading conservative Reps. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) inform their allies: "The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily." Shadegg and Hoekstra warn, if conservatives are forced to debate "the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose."
Instead, they write, "the debate must be about the global threat of the radical Islamic movement." The problem is they lose that debate too.
Amid accusations that it would give comfort to America's enemies, the California Senate approved a resolution Tuesday calling for a halt to boosting the number of troops in Iraq or spending any more taxpayer dollars on the war without explicit approval from Congress.
Republicans stood to oppose the resolution, which expresses the opinion of the Legislature but is legally meaningless.
One said the Democratic Party should be ashamed of supporting terrorists, who could soon be attacking California cities.
Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a Santa Monica Democrat, responded: "Balderdash. If anything is supporting and emboldening our enemies, it is this war... This war was a mistake, and the rest of the world knows it."
Well the denizens of Crazyville – who are all terribly brave when it comes to threatening women, and yet for some reason seem collectively and conspicuously unable to find their way out of Mommy’s basement and down to the recruiting office to demand a Surge Billet in their Dear Leader’s Excellent Iraqi Adventure – should know that Shakes has lots of friends.
Lots and lots and lots of friends.
And we are all Spartacus.
Freedom, especially freedom of speech, is never lost in one big Hollywood moment, instead it trickles away, a grain of sand at a time until we suddenly find the vessel of freedom empty. Joe McCarthy knew this as he set about methodically picking away at individuals who were the 1950s equivalent to Amanda Marcotte, ruining their lives--in some cases forever.
Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan have been the victims of a hate campaign as vicious as any Joe McCarthy conducted. They will survive this because they are survivors, but the wounds are deep. If John Edwards will not speak out against this as the Minnesota Democrats failed to defend Rick Kahn, then he may well have derailed his presidential train.
I am sorry for John Edwards, sorry for the Democratic Party and most sorry that as much as I keep hoping the Party will change it seems to keep shooting itself in the foot. There are too many bullets there already, which may be why the party keeps limping along.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army and Marine Corps are letting in more recruits with criminal records, including some with felony convictions, reflecting the increased pressure of five years of war and its mounting casualties.
According to data compiled by the Defense Department, the number of Army and Marine recruits needing waivers for felonies and serious misdemeanors, including minor drug offenses, has grown since 2003. The Army granted more than double the number of waivers for felonies and misdemeanors in 2006 than it did in 2003. Some recruits may get more than one waiver.
The course of this war has been a consistent scene of carnage with ever-changing underpinnings. Uncover weapons of mass destruction, lay hands on Saddam Hussein, oversee elections, teach the Iraqis to police themselves. Bring stability to the region. The last has been an illusion. Over the last year many Americans have finally realized how thoroughly they were sold a bill of goods. The picture of the peaceable kingdom painted by the Bush administration nearly four years ago was that of a country, riven by religious and ethnic violence for centuries, suddenly turned into the equivalent of a Connecticut suburb: town meetings, friendly neighbors, a common purpose, perhaps a shopping mall.
No one tries to sell that snake oil anymore. Now the party line is that American forces will get out, but they cannot get out now. They cannot get out now because Iraq would become a place of civil war, of untrammeled violence, of complete chaos.
Iraq has been a place of civil war, untrammeled violence, complete chaos for a long time now. American intervention has not made that better. It has made it worse.
Get out now. Provide plenty of consultants to organize police forces and help with reconstruction. Persuade the Iraqi government, such as it is, to ask for peacekeeping assistance from other nations. Put the arm on allies in the Middle East to participate for the sake of stability in the region. Recognize that much of this is about access to oil, and negotiate accordingly while trying to persuade Americans to go to rehab for their fossil-fuel addiction.
The most tangible pact America made with the Iraqi people was to capture Saddam Hussein and bring him to justice. Done. The most nonsensical and paternalistic one was to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. That they must do themselves.
The people who brought America reports of WMDs when none existed, and the slogan "Mission Accomplished" when it was not nor likely to be, now say that American troops cannot leave. Not yet. Not soon. Not on a timetable. Judge the truth of that conclusion by the truth of their past statements. They say that talk of withdrawal shows a lack of support for the troops. There is no better way to support those who have fought valiantly in Iraq than to guarantee that not one more of them dies in the service of the political miscalculation of their leaders. Not one more soldier. Not one more grave. Not one more day. Bring them home tomorrow.
If Bush wants to support the troops, why doesn't he get them some fucking armor?
The Army is working to fill a shortfall in Iraq of thousands of advanced Humvee armor kits designed to reduce U.S. troop deaths from roadside bombs -- including a rising threat from particularly lethal weapons linked to Iran and known as "explosively formed penetrators" (EFP) -- that are now inflicting 70 percent of the American casualties in the country, according to U.S. military and civilian officials.
U.S. Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan lack more than 4,000 of the latest Humvee armor kit, known as FRAG Kit 5, according to U.S. officials. The Army has ramped up production of the armor, giving priority to troops in Baghdad, but the upgrade is not scheduled to be completed until this summer, Army officials said. That is well into the timeline for major operations launched last week to quell violence by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias, which the U.S. military now views as the top security threat in Iraq.
"The US is totally dependent upon foreigners to finance its budget and trade deficits. By financing these deficits, foreign governments are complicit in the Bush Regime’s military aggressions and war crimes. The Bush Regime’s two largest lenders are China and Japan. It is ironic that Japan, the only nation to experience nuclear attack by the US, is banker to the Bush Regime as it prepares a possible nuclear attack on Iran.
If the rest of the world would simply stop purchasing US Treasuries, and instead dump their surplus dollars into the foreign exchange market, the Bush Regime would be overwhelmed with economic crisis and unable to wage war. The arrogant hubris associated with the “sole superpower” myth would burst like the bubble it is.
The collapse of the dollar would also end the US government’s ability to subvert other countries by purchasing their leaders to do America’s will.
The demise of the US dollar is only a question of time. It would save the world from war and devastation if the dollar is brought to its demise before the Bush Regime launches its planned attack on Iran."
Might just work, but I doubt it will happen.
"When Australian Prime Minister John Howard openly hoped that Senator Barack Obama would never become our president for fear that he would hurt the war on terrorism, Obama fired back by demanding that Howard either send 20,000 more troops to Iraq or shut his mouth . . ."We need more of that from democratic candidates! The New York Press, unfortunately, spends the rest of the article dissembling and missing Obama's point entirely.
In the last few days we've been subject to a p.r. campaign by the administration and their allies in the media focused on supposed Iranian funding of the Shiite faction in the Iraqi civil war. But at the same time, Saudi Arabia is funding the Sunni side. Once again, Saudi Arabia gets a pass.
Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.
Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.
But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.
A total of 100 HS50 Steyr-Mannlicher rifles were discovered during raids in Baghdad, the British Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday quoting US military sources. The guns come from a batch of 800 of the 50-calibre rifles sold by Steyr-Mannlicher to the Iranian security forces in 2005. A representative of Steyr-Mannlicher said the matter would be investigated.
The 12-kilogramme Steyr-Mannlicher HS50 is a large-calibre precision gun which can be easily assembled and disassembled, the manufacturer said. It can pierce body armour or armoured troop transporters from a distance of up to 1,500 metres.
Each gun costs around 15,000 euros (19,500 dollars).
After five years of fart-offs, the Bush Administration has pretty much gotten the North Koreans to agree to the same deal (Oil for shutting down reactors) that the Clinton Administration got -- the deal they decried as a horrid sell-out.
WARNING to political candidates: the Internet isn't always your friend. Ask John Edwards, Democratic presidential contender.
He had hired a pair of progressive women bloggers, thinking they'd help buff his street cred as the plain-talking advocate of liberal policies.
But past writings by the pair were never fully vetted and contained insulting posts on Catholic leaders and policies. After two days of cogitating, Edwards tried to finesse things: He was offended by the writings, but wouldn't fire either one.
Bloggers, hired or not, are creeping ever closer to the center of the political ring. They bring huge followings, unfiltered views and plenty of swagger. Edwards, struggling for oxygen in a crowded political tank, can't be blamed for trying them out.
Watch out, candidates. Bloggers don't submit their work to campaign central. They do their own homework and write it up their way. They're fun, fascinating and completely untamable. The blogosphere confers a definite hip factor, but needs a buyer-beware label, too.
It may be the first cyber-dust-up of the 2008 campaign. But given the growing role of the Internet in fundraising, direct messages and hired blog commentators, candidates and voters may be in for different campaign season.
One of the chief campaign bloggers for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards quit Monday after conservative critics raised questions about her history of provocative online messages.
Amanda Marcotte posted on her personal blog, Pandagon, that the criticism "was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign." Marcotte said she resigned from her position Monday, and that her resignation was accepted by the campaign.
"No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it," Marcotte wrote Monday night.
The top American military officer, General Peter Pace, declined Monday to endorse the conclusions of U.S. military officers in Baghdad, who told reporters on Sunday that the Iranian government is providing high-powered roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq. General Pace made his comments during a visit to Australia, and VOA's Al Pessin reports from Canberra.
General Pace said he was not aware of the Baghdad briefing, and that he could not, from his own knowledge, repeat the assertion made there that the elite Quds brigade of Iran's Republican Guard force is providing bomb-making kits to Iraqi Shiite insurgents.
1). Reporters met with experts and analysts who would not provide their names, background, or any identifying information - even off the record. There is no way to know who these unnamed experts were, what made them experts, or anything that could be used to confirm or debunk their allegations. In other words, the sources were not vetted and unknown.
3). The White House led officials present at the briefing would not give their names either, despite this presentation being cleared by the White House. In other words, despite this not being a leak, no one would stand by the story. [my ems]