Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yet Another Military Scandal Brewing?

Pentagon Is Probing Veterans Home

By Steve Vogel and Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 22, 2007; Page A01

Reports of a rising death rate and rooms spattered with blood, urine and feces at the Armed Forces Retirement Home prompted the Pentagon yesterday to begin investigating conditions at the veterans facility in Northwest Washington.

The Government Accountability Office warned the Pentagon this week that residents of the home "may be at risk" in light of allegations of severe health-care problems. Residents have been admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center with "the most serious type of pressure sores" and, in one case, with maggots in a wound, according to a GAO letter sent to the Defense Department.


Timothy Cox, the chief operating officer for the retirement home, said yesterday that the accusations are "without merit," and he blasted the GAO for making "inflammatory allegations" without investigating them.


Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a joint letter to Gates on Tuesday saying they were "dismayed" by the GAO letter and calling on Defense "to immediately undertake an independent investigation."

So, apparently "just" allegations at this point, but if the GAO went public with this, I suspect that there is some fire behind the smoke.


A Theme Song For Our Times - Written in 1964

The Times They Are A Changin' - Bob Dylan, 1964

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway

Don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There's a battle outside

And it is ragin'.

It'll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin'.

Between Gonzogate and articles like:

9 officers cited for mishandling Tillman's death

"A Pentagon investigation has found that nine officers, including as many as four generals, were at fault for the bungled aftermath of the friendly-fire killing of former football star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman in 2004, according to news reports Friday evening."

I'm finally beginning to muster a little optimism that positive change is on the way. Let us all hope that it continues. The Tillman story hopefully provides some measure of satisfaction to a family that faced the pain of losing their son and sibling and then were made fools of.


Quote of the Day

Our pal Montag:

... Remember, to a "loyal Bushie" black is white and up is down. If they say they are innocent, it is time to build the scaffold and oil up the hanging rope ...

Oh, the whoring!

The first couple chapters of The Fourth Estate are up at The Practical Press.

If you missed my previous novel The Captains, you can check it out here.

Oaths ...

Leahy on Olbermann's show:

... "The reason I want to do it under oath..remember in the Valerie Plame thing, nobody had anything to do with this. Noboby outed her name. Nobody said she was a CIA operative, nobody at the White House did, until some of these people were under oath and then we find out, gosh, they did. It's amazing how that focuses ones attention." ...

NYT (unfirewalled) via Atrios:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in an hourlong meeting last fall, according to documents released Friday that indicate he was more involved in the dismissals than he has claimed.

Last week, Gonzales said he ''was not involved in any discussions about what was going on'' in the firings of eight prosecutors that has since led to a political firestorm and calls for his ouster.

A Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Gonzales' aides said late Friday.


Truth has always been the first casualty of the Bush administration.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quote of the Day 2

Cdr. Huber on the funding bill passed by the House today:

... As to the criticism that the House bill passed because it threw pork to U.S. spinach and peanut farmers: I'd rather see farmers profit from this war than to see Halliburton and its subsidiaries make another dime from it ...


This is rare enough that I felt it merited a post.

I was watching Lardass this afternoon, and Chris Matthews was talking to some idiot Rethug congressman about the house passing the supplemental Iraq bill with its conditions. The congressturd was going on and on with the usual talking points, "the Democrat Party doesn't support the troops, they shouldn't micro-manage the war", blah-blah-blah. At one point he mentioned the 'lefty' Washington Post.

To his credit, Matthews said, from my memory:

"The Post isn't liberal any more, Congressman. I've been reading it for a long time and it's a neocon paper now."

Mrs. G was home for lunch. I don't smoke in the living room so I was watching it in another room. We both applauded at the same time.

Occasionally even the gasbags get off a good point.

Gag me with a Security Letter

WaPo prints an anonymous editorial by a recipient of a possibly illegal yet somehow binding FBI Security Letter.

It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.

I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing.

In this lawless arrogant administration which has utter contempt for the rule of law and the Constitution, every agency they have control over is a criminal organization. Things rot from the head down.

They all need to go. Now.

Don't expect the truth from Karl Rove

James C. Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential", is an expert on that slimeball and sounds off:

Whether Rove chats or testifies, Congress will surely be frustrated. Asking Rove questions is simply not an effective method of ascertaining facts. Reporters who, like me, have dogged the presidential advisor from Texas to Washington quickly learn how skilled he is at dancing around the periphery of issues. Any answers he does deliver can survive a thousand interpretations. Few intellects are as adept at framing, positioning and spinning ideas. That's a great talent for politics. But it's dangerous when dealing with the law.

Rove's famous memory, which recalls precinct results from 100-year-old presidential elections, often seems trained only to serve his political ends.[...]

If Rove winds up under oath before Congress, members will get a command performance by a man with masterful communications skills. They can expect to hear artful impressions, bits of information and a few stipulated facts.

But they should not expect the truth.

Thanks Jim, but we know that. What we want is for him to step on his weenie by perjuring himself under oath so we can lock him up.

With friends like us, who needs enemies?

Mother Jones

They cheered the U.S. invasion; they offered to help, signed on as translators, risked everything they had to work for the United States. But when they had to run for their lives, America slammed the door.

In the past, notes Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch, the United States has often aided those persecuted for supporting it; since the Vietnam War, 1 million Vietnamese refugees have been resettled in the United States, including tens of thousands of South Vietnamese army veterans. But the Bush administration "has abdicated that obligation," says Frelick. "The people who have fled are the ones the administration was relying on to build democracy in Iraq; it would rather ignore them than acknowledge that its initiative has failed.

That is how Bush wins 'hearts and minds': Thanks a pile for helping my stupid plans fail. Tough shit all your countrymen want to kill you. It's your goddam fault it didn't work. Whaddya expect us to do, welcome you with open arms? Kick rocks, 'Raqs.

I'm ashamed of us.

Al Qa Qaa Revisited

A quote from my post of 27 October '04:

Not only have we not heard the last of this, I think we have barely heard the beginning. Every time a car bomb goes off, or a Humvee carrying American soldiers gets blown away, think of George W. Bush. Be angry, be very, very angry.

Here's an earlier one:

Don't worry, Bush. Our soldiers will find the explosives. Oh, yes. They'll find them the same way they found missing or "dud" explosives in Vietnam - one piece at a time. Each time they find a little of it, one or more of them will die or be horribly maimed, just like Vietnam. Each soldier, and his family, can thank Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld for his death or lifetime as a cripple.

These explosives may turn up anywhere in the world for many years to come. We won't know where until it's too late to do anything except police up the carnage.

This could have been prevented, but Bush didn't do it. There is absolutely no excuse or reason for not securing these caches. Incompetence doesn't begin to cover it. Criminal negligence is closer to the truth.

Bush, if anything you've ever done consigns you to Hell, this is it. You motherfucker.

Me'n Fixer posted several times in blind rage that month on the theft of explosives and weapons from the cache at al QaQaa. Kindly ignore the predictions of Kerry's victory. We thought reality would trump stupidity. It almost did...

But I digress. Here's from WaPo on the GAO report just out:

The U.S. military's faulty war plans and insufficient troops in Iraq left thousands and possibly millions of tons of conventional munitions unsecured or in the hands of insurgent groups after the 2003 invasion -- allowing widespread looting of weapons and explosives used to make roadside bombs that cause the bulk of U.S. casualties, according to a government report released yesterday.

The GAO report pointed to several critical assumptions underlying U.S. military war plans in 2003 that proved invalid -- including expectations that Iraqi resistance was unlikely and that the Iraqi army would capitulate and continue to provide security.

As a result, widespread looting of munitions took place, including at the majority of Iraqi Republican Guard garrisons as well as 401 other sites, according to the GAO.

Pentagon programs have secured or disposed of more than 417,000 tons of munitions, the report said. But it said an unknown quantity -- ranging from thousands to millions of tons of conventional munitions -- remain unaccounted for.

Our troops are still finding them, a little bit each day, just as we predicted. The Government Accountability Office took their own sweet time to agree with us, but they finally did.

And our Soldiers and Marines and Iraqis are still dying because of Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney and his neocons' insanity, evil, and sheer incompetence. May God damn them all.


The Air Force Times weighs in as well:

But the Pentagon provided no witnesses to the hearing despite repeated requests, much to the chagrin of the chairman, Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass.

"This is troubling at a number of levels," Tierney said. "There are people tasked with having their act together to protect our troops going forward. What does this say, if they don't even have their act together to put forward a single witness to talk to us about these issues?"

Yeah, if you don't talk about it, it'll go away. Might take a while, but the insurgents can only build bombs so fast...

House OKs timetable for troops in Iraq

Yahoo! News

Ignoring a White House veto threat, lawmakers voted 218-212, mostly along party lines, for a binding war spending bill requiring that combat operations cease before September 2008, or earlier if the Iraqi government does not meet certain requirements. Democrats said it was time to heed the mandate of their election sweep last November, which gave them control of Congress.

The bill marks the first time Congress has used its budget power to try to end the war, now in its fifth year, by attaching the withdrawal requirements to a bill providing $124 billion to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of this year.

"If you want peace, stop funding this war," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio.


Shifts ...

[Welcome to all of Shakes' readers stopping by. ~ F.]

People are starting to get it*.

WASHINGTON -- Public allegiance to the Republican Party has plunged since the second year of George W. Bush's presidency, as attitudes have edged away from some of the conservative values that fueled GOP political dominance for more than a decade, a major new survey has found.

The survey, by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press, found a "dramatic shift" in political party identification since 2002, when Republicans and Democrats were at rough parity. Now, half of those surveyed identified with or leaned toward Democrats, while only 35% aligned with Republicans.

What's more, the survey found the public attitudes are drifting toward Democrats' values: Support for government aid to the disadvantaged has grown since the mid-1990s, skepticism about the use of military force has increased and support for traditional family values has edged down.

Those findings suggest that Republicans' political challenges reach beyond the unpopularity of the war in Iraq and Bush. [my ems]


Values are only values when they are put in practice. Rethug 'values' are nothing more than a 'do as I say, not what I do' load of bullshit and Americans are seeing that in a big way now.

By the way, as Spring arrives, do you catch a faint scent of Watergate on the breeze lately? Heh ...

*Great thanks to the inimitable Oliver Willis for the link.

Quote of the Day

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Big Brass Balls):

"What we're told we can get is nothing ... Nothing ... Nothing," complained Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) growing visibly hot under the collar about a "take-it-or-leave-it" offer the White House has made about Karl Rove and others appearing before Congress in its investigation of the firings of federal prosecutors.

"The White House will determine what the agenda is," the chairman complained today. "That to me is nothing."

"Fuck me? No, fuck you!"

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Got this by e-mail from Mrs. G:

A drunk man who smelled like beer sat down on a subway next to a priest. The man's tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket.

He opened his newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes the man turned to The priest and asked, "Say Father, what causes arthritis?"

The priest replies, "My Son, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol, contempt for your fellow man, sleeping around with prostitutes and lack of a bath."

The drunk muttered in response, "Well, I'll be damned," then returned to his paper.

The priest, thinking about what He had said, nudged the man and apologized. "I'm very sorry. I didn't mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?"

The drunk answered, "I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does."


They have to be Republicans

Only they would put the lives of beloved family pets second to profits. I'm sure most folks' pets nowadays are like our Princess Shayna, more children than pets.

The Canadian pet food giant, Menu Foods, knew about problems with pet illness and death for nearly one month before they ordered the products recalled from store shelves, and instead conducted their own tests resulting in pet illness and deaths before making a decision to order a public recall of the products.

Fresh evidence proves that back as far as February 20, 2007, Menu foods knew about problems with at least some of their 88 brands of cat and dog food, and instead of taking immediate action to remove the dangerous products, began a series of tests on animals instead. Only after a number of animals, mostly cats died, then Menu decided that perhaps they should take some stronger action. Normally most companies that find glass or some other foreign material in a line of products will isolate what run of foods has been compromised, and immediately order a recall of that run of foods to protect the public. Why Menu waited for days while more animals became sick and some died, leaving their owners with big vet bills or loss of animal companionship is a very good question. But corporations don't like taking huge financial hits, and recalling around 60 million cans of food is a huge loss for a company. [my ems]


Heartless bastids.

Scary ...

When you look at how your taxes are spent by the federal government, not in dry accountant-speak or eye-glazing spreadsheets, but for guys like me, it really hits home. Karlo has graphs!

Belarus invades Ukraine!

Sort of ...

You know you're in trouble ...

When your coworkers know where you blog.

Get 'im, Babs!

Think Progress

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has said Al Gore is "full of crap" and compared people who believe in global warming to "the Third Reich." During today's Senate hearing, Inhofe used a considerable amount of time to attack Gore's use of carbon offsets and try to convince him to sign a sham "energy ethics pledge." (Find the real facts on Gore's energy usage HERE and HERE.)(Links at site - G.)

Inhofe asked Gore for his reaction, but then quickly cut him off saying Gore had taken up too much time. When Gore tried to go on, Inhofe repeatedly interrupted, adding, "I don't want to be rude, but from now on, I'm going to ask you to respond…in writing." Inhofe said Gore could respond verbally only if it was a "very brief response."

Committee chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) finally intervened. "Would you agree to let the Vice President answer your questions?" Inhofe said Gore could respond when he was done talking, but Boxer wouldn't have it: "No, that isn't the rule. You're not making the rules. You used to when you did this. Elections have consequences. So I make the rules." The hearing audience applauded loudly. Watch it:

By all means watch it! Check a few of the comments, too. Heh.

Yo, Inhofe: Babs ain't a bitch, but she bitch-slapped the fuck outta you, asshole! 'Bout fuckin' time somebody did, oil-whore.

I ♥ Barbara Boxer! I'd like to ♣ Inhofe.

All Three And Then Some

Here's a post at Designated Import about Walrus Man's appearance on The Daily Show:

While discussing the current president's penchant for surrounding himself with people of a like mind, Jon Stewart suggested that it's actually a benefit to have members of the president's cabinet who don't actually agree with him. He used the example of Abraham Lincoln, who had men in his cabinet who were not only rivals but who in some cases actively disliked him.

In response, John Bolton said that Jon Stewart was historically in error, basically stating that Jon Stewart's characterization of Lincoln was wrong. It was at this point that I let out a stream of expletives. The nicest word I used was "bullshit"!

Tonight, Jon Stewart took up this point. He had, via telephone, a talk with Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals, an excellent book about Abraham Lincoln's presidency. As she pointed out, Jon Stewart was right and hundreds of historians would agree with him. Amen!

I watched on both nights. I had a hunch Stewart wasn't going to let Bolton's whopper pass, and he didn't disappoint.

Ms. Goodwin used LBJ's quote, "It's better to have yer enemies inside the tent pissin' out, than outside the tent pissin' in".

Doris! Sich langwidge! I think I love her.

This is a classic example of what's wrong with political discourse in the United States. John Bolton was clearly, demonstrably wrong. If he honestly believed his position, Bolton is woefully ignorant on Lincoln's presidency. If he didn't know whether or not Stewart's comment was wrong, but stated categorically that Stewart was wrong, then he is incredibly arrogant... and ignorant. On the other hand, there's the possibility that Bolton knew Stewart was right, but said he was wrong anyway in order to toe the party line; lying his teeth out in order to make a political statement in favour of the current president.

So Bolton is either ignorant, arrogant, a liar, or all three.

See title of post.

The Dead-Enders

This is an article at about neocons and Christopher Hitchens, subtitled "Being a neocon means never having to say you're sorry". Here's a coupla quotes I found interesting:

Yet Hitchens doesn't concede an inch. "Was the terror connection not exaggerated?" he asks, and, like some crazed homeless guy wandering down the street muttering imprecations at invisible demons, he answers himself:

"Not by much. The Bush administration never claimed that Iraq had any hand in the events of Sept. 11, 2001. But it did point out, at different times, that Saddam had acted as a host and patron to every other terrorist gang in the region."

I have to say I agree with him on this point, if only to a limited degree. While Hitchens has absolutely no evidence to show links between the Iraqi government and Islamists of the al-Qaeda type – the author is, as usual, linkless as well as clueless – he is right that Saddam did harbor one terrorist group. The Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MeK, is a weird neo-Marxist cult made up largely of Iranian women – at least in the top leadership – who are followers of Maryam Rajavi, the self-proclaimed president of "liberated" Iran. The MeK participated in the 1979 revolution that overthrew the shah and installed the Khomeini regime, but fell out of favor and went into violent opposition, launching terrorist attacks (including against U.S. interests and personnel) in Iran from Iraqi soil. Saddam gave them Camp Ashraf, where they remain to this day – under the protection of the U.S. military, which is reportedly using them for expeditions into Iran, the scene of several recent terrorist attacks.

Ohmigod! There must be something in the Geneva Conventions about using a PMS Brigade! Oh, the horror!

And this chiller:

The problem for Perle and Hitchens is that few are listening. Even in Washington, where both parties collaborated in bringing this disastrous war about, the ranks of the War Party are noticeably thinning. In the country at large, the war is wildly unpopular. The electorate longs for an antiwar presidential candidate like evangelicals pining for the Messiah's return. Deliver us from evil! appears to be the general sentiment, although what sort of evil the American public is just beginning to learn.

It's turning out to be a very hard lesson about accountability, oversight, and complacency in the face of power-mad warmongers of whatever stripe. The rest of us are gonna lose before we win.

Good article. Many links.

Bushland Über Alles

Available as a fridge magnet.

The E-mail The White House Doesn't Want Us To See

From Don Davis

From: Karl Rove

To: Alberto Gonzales

Fredo, if we don't fire this Gang of Eight, it's only a matter of time before they put us behind bars.

Ya got that one right, Turdblossom. It's still just a matter of time, and time's runnin' out...

Saddam Has the Last Laugh

Robert Scheer on the latest poll of Iraqis.

Yep, you did it, George - mission impossible accomplished. Unbelievably, four years of a bungled occupation have managed to make Saddam Hussein's tyranny look good in comparison with "liberated Iraq."

At least, that is the view of the Iraqi weightlifter made famous through a video of him taking a sledgehammer to Saddam Hussein's statue. "I really regret bringing down the statue," Kadhim al-Jubouri said on British television this week. "The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day."

I can relate to that guy. Scroll down at the link for his story. He was also a mechanic, and Uday threw him in prison when he complained about not getting paid for fixing Uday's motorcycle. I'm sure he realizes now that he should have stayed quiet and just "fixed" it again so the wheels would do interesting things at speed, like come off...

Don't fuck with yer bike mechanic, even if you think you own the joint. Your life is in his hands way more than it is in your car guy's.

What Bush has managed to do is to place the United States in a no-win position as the most likely target for failed Iraqi expectations, which he did so much to raise. He is asking Iraqis to take his word for it that the invasion was not post-9/11 posturing or a grab for oil or a blow undertaken on behalf of Israel, yet he has nothing tangible to show as proof of his sincerity.

Bush? Sincerity? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! Sincerity is important - when you can fake that, you've got it made, and Bush is the biggest fake I've ever seen. I can see his fakery by looking at him and listening to him and knowing about him, but he's fooled a lot of people. They're catching on, albeit a little slow, but you gotta be a little slow to fall for his shit.

Of course, the coffers of a handful of American mercenary, construction and energy corporations have swelled, despite this lack of credible achievement. More than $20 billion in "reconstruction" contracts were given to Vice President Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, alone.

It would have been a hell of a lot cheaper to just give them the money.

Go read about the poll numbers.

I might not be Shakespeare ...

Maybe a male Jackie Collins, but if you quote a line from one of my 14 novels, I'm gonna recognize it. I certainly won't deny what I put on paper. Hell, quote me something from one of the 7500 posts at the Brain and I'll recognize it. Seems Ol' Bugman forgets what he wrote about his former colleagues. So how much of his own writing did he actually do?

Hey ... wait a minute

The great TRex makes us think about this whole law and order thing ... twice:


Given that the Republican Party has roughly the same prognosis as Terri Shiavo in the upcoming elections and that we may see the GOP brand sullied and disgraced for a generation as a result of the Bush Administration, I think we may be acting a bit hastily on this proposed roll-back of Executive Powers. No, no, seriously, I mean it. Just think what President Obama could do with those powers.

Ah, yes. Now you're with me.

Or let's say President John Edwards has just been sworn in and he decides it's time for a little payback. He picks up the phone and calls his people at the NSA and says, "I need to see all of Bill Donohue's cell-phone records, taxes, credit card transactions, and checking account records for the last ten years. Oh, and freeze his assets. I think he may be involved in terrorist activity."

See, if you throw in the T-word, all those provisions of the Patriot Act come into play. No need to go to a judge. No need for a subpoena. That stuff's for sissies. Let's just get his records, find the data we need (or not!), change his status to "Enemy Combatant", and off he goes to our secret interrogation facilities in Romania. Ta-daaaaaaah!

"But please!" Donohue would beg, "Let me speak to an attorney! Let me at least know what charges are being brought against me!"

Nope. Too bad, so sad, but all that went out the window when the Bush administration gutted habeas corpus.


How loud you think the whiny Rethugs would scream? Would we hear the old chants of 'rule of law! rule of law!' begun when Clinton was in the hot seat? Would we hear 'misuse of the executive'? Of course we would, and of course it would be nice to turn the tables on them ... as a fantasy. It would be even nicer if we could make this nation work the way it was supposed to.

Thank God this is still America. Thank God I'm not a Rethuglican. It's how I know I'm on the right side.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Senator Harry Reid (D-Testicles):

... After telling a bunch of different stories about why they fired the U.S. Attorneys, the Bush administration is not entitled to the benefit of the doubt ...

Great thanks to Maru for the link.

Just a thought . . .

Before I run out to dinner with Mrs. F.

Since the Rethugs are whining about the subpoenas and executive privilege, let's turn their other whine around on 'em. Instead of "it's Clinton's fault". Just tell 'em "hey, you did it to Clinton".

See yas later ...

Wounded Warrior Bill Passes Committee

Army Times

A bill aimed at making immediate improvements in the treatment - medical and otherwise - of wounded combat veterans passed the House Armed Services Committee by a 59-0 vote Tuesday, with some concerns that lawmakers may be moving too fast.

The bill, called the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007, is a blueprint for fixing many of the problems that have surfaced for outpatients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but it also does more.

Michael Higgins, an armed services committee staff member, described the bipartisan bill as representing solutions - some of them only temporary - to problems uncovered over several years of studying the care for wounded service members. Cutting red tape, or at least getting help for wounded service members and their families in reducing the snarl, is a key part of the package.

A step in the right direction. We'll see how well it is implemented.

I really hope the Dems spine is stiff enough . . .

. . . because I have a feeling deep in my gut. If we win this one, we get the keys to the kingdom. He will be out of there.

Bush nearing constitutional showdown, Subpoenas likely today

"WASHINGTON— A defiant President Bush warned Democrats yesterday to accept his offer to have top aides speak about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath, or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.

Democrats’ response was swift and firm: They said they would start authorizing subpoenas as soon as today for the White House aides. “Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That’s the formula for true accountability,” said U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "


I can't wait

WASHINGTON - President Bush warned Democrats Tuesday to accept his offer to have top aides testify about the firings of federal prosecutors only privately and not under oath, or risk a constitutional showdown from which he would not back down.


Heh ... To quote the Moron in Chief, "bring it on", bitchez. Nixon thought the same way. To quote our pal Shakes:


Dear Senator Leahy,

Please tell Fred Fielding to go fuck himself and write up those damn subpoenas.

Shakespeare's Sister


Indeed. Executive Privilege ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Off to the shop ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Soldier's Heart

PBS Frontline is going to be on PTSD.

Military and mental health experts talk about war's psychological toll and how the military is handling the problem.

Frontline is usually pretty right on. If you're interested, check your local listing.

Fun with PhotoShop

TheCultureGhost has a new toy. He uses it to devastating effect. Go and scroll.

Pillow Talk

CJR Daily

James Rainey has an interesting piece in the Los Angeles Times this morning that runs through a partial (my em) list of big-name journalists who are married to advisers to 2008 presidential candidates.

Hit the link and read. Carville-Matalin is the tip of the iceberg.

The Women's War

In an article in NYT Magazine about Suzanne Swift's prosecution by the Army, I ran across this gem:

[...] "You're one of three things in the military - a bitch, a whore or a dyke," says Abbie Pickett, who is 24 and a combat-support specialist with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "As a female, you get classified pretty quickly."

I'm sure that not all male soldiers feel that way, but it doesn't take many to make life miserable.

Senate limits Gone-zales' hiring authority

Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to end the Bush administration's ability to unilaterally fill U.S. attorney vacancies as a backlash to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Essentially, the Senate returned the law regarding the appointments of U.S. attorneys to where it was before Congress passed the Patriot Act, including the unilateral appointment authority the administration had sought in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Note to Congress: Save us some trouble in future. READ the goddam things before you sign 'em into law.

Actually, although I am of course glad it's gone, I'm kinda glad the provision was in there. It let the administration take one more step too far off the pier. Another thing to get 'em for. Thank God for the elections. They forgot who has the subpœna power now.

Get a rope...

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's Most Despicable Confession

"I cast the deciding vote in Bush v. Gore - it earned me Al Qaeda Man of the Year."

Come to think of it, get four ropes, four elephants, and a slightly dull, but large, knife...

Salt Lake City Mayor calls for Bush's impeachment


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- He's a mayor in a state that President Bush carried by 46 percentage points in the 2004 election, but Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson told CNN Monday he thinks it's time the president should be impeached.

"We think if impeachment were ever justified, this certainly is the time," Anderson, a Utah Democrat, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "This president, by engaging in such incredible abuses of power, breaches of trust with both the Congress and the American people, and misleading us into this tragic, unbelievable war, the violation of treaties, either international or our Constitution -- our own domestic law, and then his role in heinous human rights abuses, I think all of that together calls for impeachment and certainly would communicate to the rest of the world that is not who we are as the American people."

Get 'em, Rocky!

Court 'can envisage' Blair prosecution

Telegraph (UK)

Tony Blair faces the prospect of an International Criminal Court investigation for alleged coalition war crimes in Iraq.

The court's chief prosecutor told The Sunday Telegraph that he would be willing to launch an inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the Prime Minister and American President George W Bush could one day face charges at The Hague (my em).

Luis Moreno-Ocampo urged Arab countries, particularly Iraq, to sign up to the court to enable allegations against the West to be pursued. Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations said that his country was actively considering signing up.

It's gonna come down around yer ears one of these days, Georgie boy.

The next real President should sign us up with the ICC right after his/her inauguration speech.

Supporting the Troops - A Modest Proposal

It seems to me that a lot of people have profited of the last 4 years of Bush's Folly while many have suffered. I was talking to Mrs Jersey about this at dinner tonight and came up with a simple proposal. Congress should pass a bill with a couple of provisions. Gifts to families of troops that have given their lives or come home with serious lifelong injuries in the service of Bush's lies can pass, in any amount, tax-free to the donor and tax-free to the families. Pressure should be then brought to bear on companies and individuals that have profited from the war to give, say, 1-5% of their post-tax profits to the families. Another use that some of the Bush billionaires could put their money to would be to fund a state-of-the-art medical facility for treating the troops that are not being well-served by the military hospitals. The possibilites are endless and chump change compared to the profits that have been made.


The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors

Max Blumenthal

In September 2006, just weeks before pivotal Congressional midterm elections, Paul Charlton, US Attorney for Arizona, opened a preliminary investigation into Republican Representative Rick Renzi of the state's First Congressional District for an alleged pattern of corruption involving influence-peddling and land deals. Almost immediately, Charlton's name was added to a blacklist of federal prosecutors the White House wanted to force from their jobs. Charlton is someone "we should now consider pushing out," D. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez's chief of staff, wrote to then White House Counsel Harriet Miers on September 16. In his previously safe Republican district, Renzi had barely held on in the election. On December 7, the White House demanded Charlton's resignation without offering him any explanation.

The Justice Department and the White House offered a scattershot of alibis for firing Charlton. The Bush Administration's case against Charlton rested ultimately on the account of a little-known Justice Department official named Brent Ward, who claimed in a September 20, 2006 e-mail that Charlton was "unwilling to take good cases." Ward's allegation was vague in its claim, mysterious for its submission and vacant in context.

Ward's endless stream of mandates, the source revealed, were a source of frustration to many US Attorneys. "There were countless child obscenity cases crying out to be prosecuted," the source told me, "but [Brent] Ward wanted to focus on cases involving consenting adults. That's just not a good way of dedicating resources. When you have so many children being harmed, why not allocate your resources towards that?"

Ward's heedless prosecutions of legally available pornography reflected more than his ideology; they also defined his power within the Justice Department. Once Bush began his second term in the White House, Gonzales declared the prosecution of pornography portraying sex acts between consenting adults "one of the top priorities" of his department. He signed off on an FBI headquarters memo that recruited agents for an anti-porn task force. That memo stated that prosecutions would focus particularly on material depicting "bestiality, urination, defecation, as well as sadistic and masochistic behavior." These acts, according to the memo, were most likely to offend local juries.

To support Ward's task force, Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller diverted eight FBI agents and other staff. Ward soon secured his biggest score, the successful prosecution of the Girls Gone Wild series producer Joseph Francis for knowingly including footage of two young women without receiving legible documentation, on paper, of their ages. Francis's company, Mantra Films, Inc., was slapped with a $500,000 fine--a drop in the bucket for an operation that rakes in at least $40 million a year.

Many veterans of the FBI consider Ward's efforts a burden on their ability to fulfill serious departmental priorities. "I guess this means we've won the war on terror," an anonymous FBI agent sarcastically remarked to the Washington Post about agents diverted to Ward's task force. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

The revelation of Ward's participation in the dismissals arrived as the Christian right clamored that more resources be funneled to him. "Give him some gas and he'll win the war," Burress told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I wish the Department of Justice was full of Brent Wards." The prosecutor purge may have backfired, but Burress and his allies can take heart that the Bush White House is devoted to their culture war, even at the expense of its "war on terror."

Not getting signatures from drunk college girls may not be as important as prosecuting Repuglican corruption cases, but it's less dangerous to The Party and plays well to the base.

And they damn sure don't want any U.S. attorneys following the money to terrorists.

Was Carol Lam Targeting The White House Prior To Her Firing?

Follow the money that got Duke Cunningham thrown in jail right to Cheney's office at Think Progress.

The media reports this morning that among Lam's politically powerful targets were former CIA official Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA). But there is evidence to believe that the White House may also have been on Lam's target list. Here are the connections:

– Wade's company MZM Inc. received its first federal contract from the White House. The contract, which ran from July 15 to August 15, 2002, stipulated that Wade be paid $140,000 to "provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney."

– Two weeks later, on August 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht for $140,000 for Duke Cunningham. The boat's name was later changed to the "Duke-Stir." Said one party to the sale: "I knew then that somebody was going to go to jail for that...Duke looked at the boat, and Wade bought it - all in one day. Then they got on the boat and floated away."

– According to Cunningham's sentencing memorandum, the purchase price of the boat had been negotiated through a third-party earlier that summer, around the same time the White House contract was signed.

Duke. Stir. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

I hope either she gets her job back or that her replacement picks up where she left off.

Rep. Lewis is very popular in his Riverside County district because he brings home the bacon, but he's crooked as a dog's hind leg.

Fitzgerald ranked


U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

The ranking placed Fitzgerald below "strong U.S. Attorneys . . . who exhibited loyalty" to the administration but above "weak U.S. Attorneys who . . . chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.," according to Justice documents.

The chart was the first step in an effort to identify U.S. attorneys who should be removed. Two prosecutors who received the same ranking as Fitzgerald were later fired, documents show.

I'm kinda surprised they didn't fire him just prior to Libby's trial. Musta thought that woulda been a little too obvious...

As if we didn't know ...

March 19, 2007— New e-mails released this evening by the Justice Department reveal the in-depth conversations Department of Justice staff members had about the eight U.S. attorneys fired last year. The department released more than 3,000 pages of documents late Monday ...

We always expect the worst from this administration, but why is it the truth is always worse than we can imagine? Wait until the bloggers sift through this data dump and find the juicy shit. I guarantee you this originated in the Office of the Vice President.

Hat tip to Atrios.

A small request

Something light for a change. I have a friend, John, in Calgary who is the scribe/photographer for the Glenlake Hawks, a PeeWee Hockey team for which one of his sons plays. Well the Hawks went from being the league doormats last year to winning the division championship this year. John tells them they have an international audience, but they don't believe him. This is his request verbatim.

For the boys, could y'all drop by

And post some congrats with where you live. They don't believe me
that people around the world follow them . . .

Take a few minutes, if you will, to stop by and give the guys a little love. If you have more time, John is an ace photographer and an extremely good writer and there is plenty of his stuff there to examine. Thanks to anyone who takes the time.


Monday, March 19, 2007

4 Down, ? To Go

Just so we remember what all the fuss is about as we go into year 5. I'll bet a dollar that whoever fired up this unit of 3rdBn,8th Marines (my old outfit)in Ramadi wishes they hadn't.

What it's all about ...

In case you had any doubts:

Price of a share of Halliburton stock:

March 19, 2003: $20.50
March 18, 2007: $64.12 (adjusted for a split in 2006)

Off to work ...

4 years

So, the balloon went up 4 years ago today. Oh yay! We're going to war! When Johnny comes marching home again ...

So, 4 years on and we're still there. The folks I was listening to on TV yesterday believe we'll have a military commitment in Iraq for the next fifteen years. We were assured this war would be over before we knew it. "6 days, 6 weeks, 6 months ..." Rummy said. When Johnny comes marching home ...

What have we seen in the last 4 years? We've seen our medical technology in action, men and women surviving injuries that would have left them dead on the battlefield in Vietnam, even when I was in. We have seen the gallantry and professionalism of the Hawkeye Pierces, the Trapper Johns, and Margaret Houlihans whom I believe should all get a medal for the work they do. But we've also seen the soldiers who they've given a second chance at life kicked to the curb by the people who are supposedly 'compassionate' and 'supporting'. When Johnny comes marching home ...

We've seen families and veterans groups in this country rise to the occasion, having bake sales and raffles to supply equipment to the troops because the 'compassionate' and 'supportive' went to war with 'the Army they had' as opposed to 'the Army they needed'. The wealthiest nation in the world cannot see its troops protected adequately, yet we 'support' them. And when their limbs are blown off and their minds destroyed, we warehouse them in deplorable conditions and make them wade through layers of red tape in order to get barely adequate care. When Johnny comes marching home ...

The 'compassionate' and 'supportive' said this war will be paid for from revenue from Iraqi oil. 4 years on and a half-trillion dollars later, our wallets are still open, but not for the wounded, not for the families struggling to keep their heads above water, and not for those who would provide care, but for those who make the weapons, for those who drill the oil, and for those who kill for the highest bidder. When Johnny comes marching home ...

When Johnny comes marching home, he comes home to a broken marriage, broken finances, and inadequate care for his broken body. He comes home to a nation who shows their gratitude by sticking a magnet to their cars. He comes home to a nation who will send him back to the war because they can't talk anyone but criminals and psychopaths into enlisting at this point. He comes home to a nation who sees him as nothing but a figure on a force strength chart, as nothing more than a trigger finger.

When Johnny comes marching home, he comes home to a nation that treats its pets better than they will treat him. Whether the Iraq War was right or wrong, moral or not, legal or illegal, the disgrace of this nation is the way we treat those who have fought for it. When Johnny comes marching home, we will be dealing with the consequences of that treatment for decades to come.


Read this too.


Today is really a day to remember the men and women whose lives ended for the lies of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and their NeoCon cabal. This is also the day to remember the families of those men and women and the men and women who have come back and need our help as a nation to become whole again after their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Advice for all 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates

From one of the best, "Give 'em Hell Harry", a.k.a. Harry S. Truman:

"Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the
defensive and don't ever apologize for anything."

This should be somewhere where every Democratic candidate can see first thing every morning, last thing evey night, and at the beginning and end of each meal. It should be burned into their consciousness. Every time they apologize, whatever it is for, the other side gains at least a small victory. Politics is street-fighting, not fencing.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Uniform of the Day

Since spring is day after tomorrow or some shit (can't tell looking out my window), we go to desert digital.

¡Richardson es mi Gente!

I know it's too soon to be making this choice. Fuck it. I said it and I'm glad.

I am not for Bill Richardson. I prefer the more personally committed Mexican style: I am with Bill Richardson.

Yo soy con Bill Richardson por Presidente en '08. Bad Spanish, but you get the idea.

From the bumper sticker site:

Representative, Ambassador, Envoy, Secretary, Governor: Bill Richardson has a diversity of experience -- an experience that gives him the kind of perspective that parochial George W. Bush could only dream of. Isn't it time we had someone at the helm of the country who has the ability to consider issues from more than one perspective? Bill Richardson not only has the political skills and practical knowledge necessary to make a great president; he also has a strong commitment to taking core Democratic principles and seeing them through to fruition in policy.

Plus he's a Westerner and seems to be a good guy with a sense of humor. We don't need any more southerners, actors, ideologues, or retards.

Bill Richardson For President.

Please forgive me for this outburst. I'll go back to sleep now for a year or so.

Oh, Timmeh ...

How, at this time, with scandals breaking around the Republicans left and right, can you actually, with a straight face, have an indicted, disgraced ex-congressman and the architect of the failed war and resultant occupation on your show for anything other than to be the objects of derision and ridicule, let alone as credible commenters on anything? Dude, after the Libby trial, you're on thin ice as it is. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Today's Quote - 2007-03-18

“A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops.” –General John J. Pershing


Cross-posted at Jersey Guy

The new Baghdad Bob ...

You remember him. Well, our good friend Mimus found the American version:


I really do love Fred Barnes. His demeanor is so... upbeat. No matter how badly things are going for the neo-conservative experiment in empire-building -- or how many people's lives are wasted or shattered because of it -- he never gives up on it, never loses his powers of positive thinking. He must be incredibly... healthy, in body, mind, and spirit, to be able to look at all that terrible suffering with a smirk and a chuckle, just like his buddy Bush does. The way Barnes retains his good cheer in the face of all that horror just... revs me up. It's... infectious.



I forgot to mention Pauly and RSB were in Washington yesterday.

Quote of the Day

An anonymous Dem via C&L:

We've only had subpoena power for the last six weeks and every tree that we've barked up so far has a cat in it. Imagine where we'll be in 6 months.