LATE Lazy Friday Link Post

My apologies. I finally got everything done here just before the deadline. Now I have a little bit of time for a quick link dump.

Censure hearings were contentious.

Jack Kingston (R-Ga) put out a press release calling Cindy Shehan a "Nut Case."

More details on the Congresswoman who slapped the Capitol Police Officer.

Secretary Rice has now admitted to "thousands" of mistakes in Iraq. Despite that, U.S. Troops can't buy their own body armor.

For some unknown reason, Barack Obama has given his support to Joe Lieberman. This as Joe mulls leaving the Democratic Party.
The weather here is beautiful and I have reservations at a new Thai restaurant. If I'm lucky, my fiance and I will get a table on the patio. Enjoy your weekend...

"The House that Jack Built"

Go read this and laugh. It's Friday.


Bush Knew.

Murray Waas' article in The National Journal reveals that Bush knew that the intelligence leading to the War in Iraq was flawed.

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews.
At lesat we know whether it was a crime or incompetence now.
Hadley was particularly concerned that the public might learn of a classified one-page summary of a National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush in October 2002. The summary said that although "most agencies judge" that the aluminum tubes were "related to a uranium enrichment effort," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Energy Department's intelligence branch "believe that the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons."

Three months after receiving that assessment, the president stated without qualification in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
Well, if Bill Clinton got impeached for saying "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," can we please FUCKING IMPEACH THIS GUY?

Sign of the Apocalypse

I'm using something I found on FoxNews. I'm not mocking it or using it to point out the idiocy of the Right or its supporters. I'm just using it.

It seem that the largest study ever performed testing the effects of prayer on recovering patients has found that patients with people praying for them had slightly higher rates of complications:

In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.

Researchers emphasized that their work can't address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another's behalf. The study can only look for an effect from prayers offered as part of the research, they said.

They also said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate in patients who knew they were being prayed for, in comparison to patients who only knew it was possible prayers were being said for them.

Critics said the question of God's reaction to prayers simply can't be explored by scientific study.
Obviously. That's why God's means of creating the world 6000 years ago shouldn't be taught, disclaimed, or even mentioned in Science Class. Of course a little bit of 'having it both ways' never bothered the Religous Right. Hypocrite.

The study was done by Harvard's medical school, so we'll soon be hearing about 'bias' in the scientific community.

Expect fundies to keep citing old studies (or bad studies) or just "studies" that show the effect of prayer is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Busting the Bank in Las Vegas

DefenseNews.com reports on upcoming weapons testing in Nevada:

The U.S. military plans to detonate a 700 ton explosive charge in a test called “Divine Strake” that will send a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas, a senior defense official said March 30.

”I don’t want to sound glib here but it is the first time in Nevada that you’ll see a mushroom cloud over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons,” said James Tegnelia, head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
This is a good thing. After all the discussion about developing new nuclear weapons for bunker busting (the intended use for the weapon being tested) having the military working on conventional solutions for the same problem is encouraging. The very last thing we need as Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea are developing an atomic weapons program is their embassadors to the U.N. saying "But the Americans are developing new nuclear weapons and we want a credible deterent."

You Saw it Here Second

Credit to Pam, but here's Scalia's "Scilian gesture." Rude? We report, You decide. Indidently, wasn't 'voting Republican' supposed to restore decency to the government? I mean, we've had "go fuck yourself," staffer that was shoplifting (and he wasn't there for an internship), a lawyer getting shot in the face, and now this? These guys are for common decency? I thought 'the heartland' didn't approve of rude gestures.

Either way, if I ever see Justice Scalia, I'll be sure to give him the finger and tell him to "go fuck yourself, sir."

Not that I endorse punching cops

But if our congressmen and congresswomen would show this kind of tenacity when it comes to dealing with Republicans, I'd feel a lot less pessimistic.

As I understand it now, Cynthia McKinney, Democratic Rep. from Georgia wasn't recognized as a congresswoman upon entering a congressional office building and a confrontation with a Capitol Policeman became 'heated.'

Big Bad Liberal Media

Not really funny considering that only today has Jill Carroll been released after 82 days of captivity in Iraq. Kidnapped by gunmen in an attack that killed her translator, she was held by an organization called the Vengeance Brigade who broadcast video of her in captivity while demanding the release of all female prisoners in American custody. According to Carroll, she was held but not mistreated.

I go back to a point that I've made before. If you can get killed reporting on the good news in Iraq, there are more important things to be reporting. If about 50 people a day were being killed in a conflict between Protestants and Catholics in New York City, would anybody care if Schools were being built?

You have to wonder, will the Bush Administration be able to use the 'Liberal Media' thing for the next three years without people starting to realize that it's bullshit?

Credit to Dwayne Powell for the cartoon.


Even the Fundies do it

I will now, in all seriousness, without mockery or condescension, blog about news from Agape Press:

"To a large degree, we're missing it," Weathersbee says. "The young people are receiving the data, but they're not translating it into values that result in a lifestyle of purity and holiness."
Yup, that's right. Agape Press runs the headline "Apparently True Love Doesn't Always Wait" and follows it up with a story about a study done among newlywed Baptists by the chaplain at Baylor University. Some figures:
* 100 percent professed faith in Christ
* 99 percent attended church
* 84 percent grew up in church
* 87 percent grew up in a two-parent home
* 62 percent of males had premarital sex
* 65 percent of females had premarital sex

Only 27 percent of the young people surveyed entered marriage "chaste," having refrained not only from intercourse but also from other sexual practices such as oral sex.
I'm always baffled by the hangups that these Christianists have about sex - nobody's asking newlyweds if they've refrained from planting two crops in the same field - and their incredulousness when they discover that their own kids have sex. During the time when the Christian Church had the most power over people (often referred to as the Dark Ages) it happened. Of course these kids all probably had abstinence only education and therefore didn't take any precautions. And they claim they're trying to end abortions...

Abramoff gets nearly 6 years

From Reuters:

Jack Abramoff, a disgraced lobbyist at the heart of a Washington influence-peddling scandal that has rattled top Republicans, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison on Wednesday for fraud in the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line.

Abramoff, who is cooperating in a federal investigation into whether Washington politicians gave his clients favorable treatment in exchange for campaign contributions, Super Bowl tickets and other illegal gifts, was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Abramoff, along with co-defendant Adam Kidan, was ordered to pay $21.7 million in restitution. Kidan was also sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.
Of course this jail time isn't related to any of his dealings in Washington. Hopefully we'll see similar results when he goes on trial for those.

With any luck, we'll see some of the "top Republicans" that he was dealing with be voted out of office.

Things that are important

But I'm too busy to blog about:

Saudi Arabia allegedly is working with Pakistan on a nuclear weapons program. This, if true, could be huge. I can't imagine that Bush will be able to look the other way (like he did with India) on this one. His base won't let him for one. What recourse would he have, though? Sanctions might work, but if gas goes way up, he's pretty screwed. And it's not like the rest of the world (read: China) is going to stop buying up all that oil just because the U.S. doesn't like Saudi Arabia's weapons program. And for some strange reason, the rest of the world isn't about to go out of its way to help us right now. Good strategery, Dubya.

Attywood reports on Howard Kaloogian, Republican looking to be elected to Duke Cunningham's old seat, who tried to pass off a picture of the streets of Turkey as one of the streets of Iraq to prove that things aren't as bad there as the big bad liberal media makes it look.

We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.
Too bad it's actually a picture of a Instanbul Suburb.

The AP reports that Arlen Specter's sometimes independent Judiciary Committee has broken ranks with the administration:
Five federal judges gave a boost Tuesday to legislation that would bring court scrutiny to the Bush administration's domestic spying program.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the judges reacted favorably to his proposal that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to conduct regular reviews of the four-year-old program.

[The Judges} said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has operated capably for 28 years and is fully able to protect civil liberties and give the administration all the speed and flexibility it needs to execute the war on terror.
Of course any hope this might create will be squelched in about a week when Specter abruptly stops thinking for himself and gets back in lockstep.

And finally, two gubernatorial polls:

In New York, Eliot Spitzer is a 500 pound gorilla. He leads Thomas Suozzi 69% to 14% for the nomination and "holds huge leads over every possible Republican who might face him in the general election."

In Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle (D) is ahead of Rep. Mark Green (R-WI), 45% to 40% according to the newest Rasmussen Reports poll.

Democracy in the Middle East

Was this the vision that Bush had in mind when he started his push to bring the "God given right" of democracy to the Middle East? My guess is no. (It's only a guess, God doesn't speak to me. At least he doesn't tell me to invade countries.) Via the AP:

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas formally took power Wednesday, with the Palestinian president swearing in a 24-member Cabinet that includes 14 ministers who served time in Israeli prisons.

The ceremony, which came just a day after
Israel's national election, ended a two-month transition period of ambiguity since Hamas' election victory in January.

With a Hamas government installed, the lines of confrontation with Israel were clearly drawn. Hamas insists it will not soften its violent ideology toward the Jewish state.
In the mean time, Ehud Olmert's Kadima Party started forming a government after winning 28 seats in the election. Less than the 35 expected, but enough to lead the nation towards pulling out of the West Bank by 2010.

I'm far from an expert on Israeli politics but I'll tell you one thing: Things are gonna happen.


Hotline has a story on Bush's Base. It includes a poll. It's scary.

Pam covers the RNC memo telling Republicans up for reelection they are "are now brand W. Republicans" whether they like it or not.

The Political Wire has good news and bad news. Good News: Pennsylvanians choose the Steelers as their favorite NFL team by a 51% to 19% margin over the Eagles. Bad News: Pennsylvanians choose Gov. Rendell as their choice for governor over Lynn Swann by only 44% to 41%.

And finally The New York Times reports that amidst allegations of war profiteering, Halliburton may have been trying the very same tricks on another contract.

Tom Thinks Everybody Else "Don't Get It"

Via CNN, Tom Delay explains to us how Supreme Court Justices (the Librul ones) "don't get it".

"Didn't you see the comments of Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Ginsburg over the last couple of weeks?" DeLay, R-Texas, asked reporters after a speech to a group of Christian conservatives. "There's still a problem, they don't get it. There are three branches of government. All wisdom doesn't reside in ... people in black robes."
What is it that they don't get, Tom? Please, explain to me what these people, who have spent their lives studying our legal system and Constitution, don't get that you, in your years of distiguished service have come to understand about our nation, our government, and our people?
Earlier, the former House majority leader told activists he agreed with their premise that there is a "war on Christianity.

"Our faith has always been in direct conflict with the values of the world," DeLay said. "We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage, and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition."
Oh, so that's what they don't get. They don't understand that your evangelical christianism, shared by a minority of Americans, is more important that upholding the law. Gotcha. Glad we cleared that up. I'll be watching for your presidential campaign to start soon. I hope you talk about how you want America to be ruled by christianist law. I hope you compare it to the wonderful system of government that the people of Afghanistan enjoyed until the forces of the great secularist beast came and tore down their traditions and denigrated their religion.

Or is that some how different?

Limbaugh Beats Up On 16 Year Old Girl

Rush Limbaugh, essence of corpulence and right wing masculinity, has decided that Donovan McNabb is old news and will now attack a target more befitting his station as king of all Right Wing Radio, Michelle Wie, the 16 year old golfing phenom. In an interview with BadGolfer.com:

[Wie is] a triumph of marketing. ... Do you think these PGA Tour guys really think she deserves to be a tournament with them? The political-correctness situation will just not allow them to say it. ... [Golf champion Vijay Singh, who was criticized for saying of another female player, "If I'm drawn with her, which I won'’t be, I won'’t play"“] learned like many people in our unfortunate society where political correctness is prized most. Vijay was honest and look what it got him. Attacked by a bunch of liberals and femi-nazis.
PGA champ Davis Love III said Wie "“probably has one of the best golf swings I'’ve ever seen, period,"” and two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els said, "there'’s no reason why she shouldn'’t be out here."” In one of the three PGA events she's competed in, she ranked ahead of 86 professional male golfers.

We all know that Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. I think he's just insecure. He's afraid that a 16 year old girl is a better golfer than him. And she is. She's probably a better person, too.

Regardless of the reasons for this sexist attack, it's just one more piece of evidence that the right wing doesn't consider women (or any other population other than white, Christian males) equal.

Abramoff Claims He's Broke

The fact that he's up for sentencing in Miami for his admitted fraud in the purchase of the Sun Cruz Casinos has nothing to do with it. His defense sentencing memo has this absolute marvel:

In his overly determined pursuit of helping people and charities, Mr. Abramoff spent virtually all of the funds he earned in his various business dealings. He has no real assets beyond their home and its contents. Determined to help others, and confident that he could always earn more money if needed, he ignored the guidance of his financial advisors and accountants who repeatedly warned him that he needed to put funds aside into personal savings. Now, Mr. Abramoff is broke. He is tormented daily that his wife will not be able to support the large family on her own and chagrined that, instead of being a provider and source of aid for his community, he will now see his own family needing financial assistance.
You'll have to forgive me if I don't believe a word of that.

Another wonderful bit of ass covering from the same memo:
One interesting note is that for the type of offense Mr. Abramoff has committed, various countries never incarcerate a defendant and often take age into account in deciding who should use precious penal resources. As Justice Kennedy observed: "In countries such as England, Italy, France and Germany, the incarceration rate is about 1 in 1,000 persons. In the United States it is about 1 in 143. . . . Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long."
Now, my understanding is that the right wing is vehemently opposed to the use of any foreign precedents being used by judges. I guess when it's you're lying ass is on the line, party line goes out the window.

Oh, and here's a list of 260 people who wrote letters on his behalf. Some are from prominent persons, including Congressman Dana Rohrabacher... Here's the Miami Herald's take.

Credit to Talk Left.



Page One Q has a story about Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, who's taken the position that gay couples adopt children to molest them and therefore shouldn't be allowed to adopt.

I'll let that sink in.

"We also have seen evidence that homosexual couples prey on young males and have, in some instances, adopted them in order to have unfettered access to subject them to a life of molestation and sexual abuse."
Yup, that's right. If you're gay, that means you must be a child molester and should be treated as such regardless of things like probable cause or evidence. Welcome to the world of Republicanism. And don't think this will stop with Gays. Atheists, Liberals, I'm looking at you.
In the e-mail with [to] the Vanderbilt student, Maggart said research shows most homosexual couples have numerous emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues that may not be healthy for children. [emphasis mine]
I'd like to know exactly what research. And I'm willing to bet (even if I don't have 'research' to back it up) that a lot of heterosexual couples who have children have emotional dysfunctions and psychological issues that could be unhealthy for children. But that doesn't matter, they're not icky gays. Right?

Jerry Falwell's Idiocy

My favorite crazy fundie, Pat Robertson, has been quiet lately. With John McCain speaking at Falwell's Liberty University, I thought I'd document some of the batshit crazy stuff he's said:

“I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” – America Can Be Saved, 1979 pp. 52-53, from Albert J. Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

“I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One’s misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status.” – USA Today Chat, quoted from The Religious Freedom Coalition, " The Two faces of Jerry Falwell"

“I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war.” – 60 Minutes (CBS) (September 30, 2002)

“...You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops and I am for the President—chase them all over the world, if it takes ten years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” – CNN Debate with Jesse Jackson (October 24, 2004)
"Blow them all away in the name of the Lord." Pretty scarry stuff. Somebody needs to ask Mr. McCain if he thinks that the United States should be in the business of blowing people away "in the name of the Lord."

Quotes from CampusProgress.

McCain to Speak at Falwell's Liberty University

The Lynchburg News & Advance has the story on everybody's favorite moderate who isn't.

U.S. Sen. John McCain - a likely 2008 presidential candidate who once labeled the Rev. Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance" - will be Liberty University├é’s graduation speaker on May 13.

"“I was in Washington with him about three months ago," Falwell said. "We dealt with every difference we have. There are no deal breakers now. But I told him, "‘You have a lot of fence mending to do."

Falwell, LU'’s chancellor, said McCain, an Arizona Republican, is among the presidential candidates he could support in 2008.
I must say that back in the long gone days of 2000 or so, I kinda liked John McCain. I wasn't about to vote for him, but I felt that if he were the Republican Party's nomination, the nation wouldn't be screwed if he won. (I had no such faith in 'Dubya.')

The more I paid attention to McCain, and especially over the last five years, the less I liked him. However, the majority of the electorate does not and will not pay that much attention, even during the 2008 Presidential Election. McCain will still have his (undeserved) 'outsider' status. He won't have to face questions about the conduct of the Bush Administration.
McCain'’s visit to the LU campus is, at the very least, an attempt to make peace with conservative Christians prior to the presidential campaign.

While running against then- Gov. George W. Bush in the South Carolina and Virginia primaries in 2000, McCain denounced Falwell and Virginia Beach televangelist Pat Robertson in what was seen as a move to lure more moderate voters to his campaign.

"“Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right,"” McCain said at the time.

McCain lost the Virginia and South Carolina primaries and Bush won the nomination.
McCain has learned his lesson. If you want to be president, you have to be an 'agent of intolerance.' Watch McCain slowly speak the code to the fundies while stile wearing the clothes of a moderate.

John McCain is the candidate we should be most worried about in 2008.

Everything is Relative

"I kind of like being on the same platform as Conrad Burns because he makes me sound like Shakespeare." -- President Bush

The Great Falls Tribune has Bush dropping that great compliment at a fundraiser for the "plain-spoken" Montanan.

Credit to the Political Wire, from whom I shamelessly stole the quote.

Andy Card Resigns

Via the USA Today:

WASHINGTON (AP) -— White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, an administration official said Tuesday, in a White House shake up that comes amid declining poll standings for President Bush. CNN was also reporting the news.

The move comes as Bush has been buffeted by increasing criticism of the drawn-out war in Iraq and as fellow Republicans have suggested pointedly that the president bring in new aides with fresh ideas and new energy.

Card came to Bush recently and suggested that he should step down from the job that he has held from the first day of Bush's presidency, said the administration official.
Staff shakeups happen and if this were any other administration we should be careful not to read to much into this. But this is BushCo. First, anytime a White House official resigns, there'slegitimatee reason to look for some sort of scandal or illegality that may have caused the person in question to step down. Second, as recently as last week, Bush, "does not appear to have an appetite for a staff shakeup." That's a quick turn around.

More on John Bolton as it comes in...


My Hometown Paper

It seems that Donald Rumsfeld spent today within about 3 miles of the house I grew up in. The Carlisle Sentinel, my hometown newspaper (although I always read the Harrisburg Patriot) covers his speech at the Carlisle Army War College under the headline, "Rumsfeld: We're losing battle of ideas."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld covered no new ground in a speech Monday as he thanked students at the Army War College in Carlisle for their service to America.

Rumsfeld acknowledged that a large percentage of the War College class have led troops in Afghanistan or Iraq.

"Those of you who served there will look back in 20 or 30 years with pride at what you and yur families have sacrificed for your country," he said.

A student from Jordan, one of 40 International Fellows who are members of the 2006 War College class, said Rumsfeld has talked in his speeches about having patience with the effort in Iraq. He asked if there was a limit to how long coalition troops will be in Iraq and "a limit to the amount of time you're willing to give Iraqis to stand up."

Troop withdrawal "depends on conditions on the ground," Rumsfeld responded. "I think progress that Iraqi forces are making is excellent."
Doesn't sound much like "we're losing" does it? Well, that's par for the course for the Carlisle Sentinel. Their favorite subject (at least while I was still there) was railing against the evils of the Teachers Union.

Paragraph 34 mentioned 'about 100' protesters. One Hundred protesters is a lot for Carlisle. Even the mention of "D or D+" didn't come until the 12th paragraph.

The frightening thing is that these newspapers are the print equivalent of FoxNews but because they have very limited circulation, nobody notices...

The alliteration was just too tempting...

Bush buddy Berlusconi blathers about Communists boiling babies, expected to bomb at ballot box.

FEC News

Apologies for getting a slow start on this week's news. Real life kept me pretty busy over the weekend.

That said, the boring but relevant news of the day is that the FEC will not regulate politics on the internet. From the AP:

Regulators brought Internet political advertising under the nation's campaign finance law Monday but declared that all other political activity on the Internet would be untethered by federal rules.

The three Republicans and three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission unanimously adopted a rule requiring anyone placing a paid political ad on a Web site to abide by federal campaign spending and contribution limits.

But the rule also updates existing FEC regulations to make it clear that all other Internet political activity, such as blogging, e-mail communications and online publications, is not covered by the campaign law.
I'm rather surprised that first, Republicans and Democrats agreed on this and second, I think they came to a reasonable agreement.

As media consumption moves away from TV and print, advertising will move away as well. There is no real difference between a campaign spot put in front of viewer's eyes during a TV show and one that shows up on their computer screen. I was afraid that some sort of ceiling would be put in place requiring large group blogs (DailyKos, RedState) to be subject to the FEC in some way. I expected that websites that spend more than X amount of dollars on servers, upkeep, etc. to regulated in some way.
"Individual online political activity will be protected from FEC restriction regardless of whether the individual acts alone or as part of a group, and regardless of whether the individual acts in coordination with a candidate or acts independently,"


Under the new rule, bloggers on the Internet would be entitled to the same exemption from the campaign finance law that newspapers and other traditional forms of media have long received. "There will be no second class citizens among members of the media,"
Essentially, the government has upheld free speech and stated that in the eyes of the FEC, this blog is entitled to the same rights as the New York Times. Who says the media doesn't report good news?

Chaos in Iraq

After 'The Saga of Ben and the Big Bad WaPo' I will now take extra care to say the following are not my ideas, words, or type 47 code-matrix produced here for the express purpose of bringing the aliens back. They are, in fact, from Professor Cole's site, Informed Comment. His grasp of what's going on in Iraq is far more complete than mine and (since even he's confused) I thought I'd let him speak for himself.

Monday, March 27, 2006

69 Killed in Separate Outbreaks of Violence

All hell broke loose in Iraq on Sunday, but I'm darned if I can figure out most of what happened or why. It seems possible that the US committed two major military blunders that will worsen its relationship with Iraqi political forces.

So they found 30 decapitated bodies near Buhriz, an old Baath stronghold in Diyala northeast of Baghdad. Those killed were a mix of Shiites and Sunnis.

Then a mortar shell landed near the house in Najaf of Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist Shiite cleric whose followers are already upset with Sunnis over the blowing up of the Askariyah Shrine in Samarra. There were casualties, but Muqtada wasn't harmed. Everyone just dodged a bullet along with Muqtada, since if the mortar had killed him, Iraq would have been thrown into even greater chaos.

As it is, Muqtada implied that the US was responsible. He called on his followers, according to al-Hayat, to "exercise self-restraint and to remain calm, so as to foil the plots of the Occupation authorities to provoke armed conflict, and rather to practice political resistance in order to expel the foreigners from Iraq."

Then the US and Iraqi forces say they raided a terror cell in Adhamiyah. Adhamiyah is a Sunni district of Baghdad and is still Baath territory.

But somehow the joint US-Iraqi force ended up north, at the Shiite Shaab district. They say that they took fire from Mahdi Army militiamen. But there aren't any such Mahdi Army men in Adhamiyah. I have a sinking feeling that instead of raiding a Sunni Arab building in Adhamiyah, they got disoriented and attacked a Shiite religious center in nearby Shaab instead. Iraqi television angrily showed twenty unarmed corpses on the floor of the religious center, denouncing the US for killing innocent worshippers. The US military is now saying it did not enter any mosques and that anyone killed was killed by Iraqi special ops.

The Mustafa Husayniyah, however, is not a mosque and may not have been distinguishable as a religious edifice to non-Shiites. Shiites mourn their martyred Imams, the descendants of the Prophet, in centers called Husayniyahs after the Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. As for the killing being done by Iraqi troops, if it was a joint mission, then the US forces are going to take some of the blame.

At least one of the dead was a member of the Dawa Party, the party headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. Official Iraqi television coverage was also uncharacteristically anti-American.

Since the US has been trying to unseat Jaafari, in concert with the Kurds and Sunni Arabs, he responded to the attack testily.

The incident has yet again postponed negotiations on the formation of a new government, since the Iraqi Shiites are universally extremely angry over it. Member of parliament and aide ot Prime Minister Jaafari, Jawad al-Maliki, demanded a full investigation of "this crime," according to al-Hayat.

If the US/Iraq force actually did accidentally hit a Shiite Husayniyah instead of a Sunni Arab terrorist cell, it was a horrible mistake.
Apologies to Professor Cole for reproducing large portions of his article rather than just providing a link. I though it was important and that it would have been a little difficult to understand if cut into pieces.

Rep. Murtha is looking more and more the sage...

Tom Toles, March 26


The Dearth of Outrage is Appalling

The AP reports that FEMA, "will extend, not rebid, deals with politically connected firms."

FEMA has broken its promise to reopen four multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work, including three that federal auditors say wasted significant amounts of money.

Officials said they awarded the four contracts last October to speed recovery efforts that might have been slowed by competitive bidding. Some critics, however, suggested they were rewards for politically connected firms.

Acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison pledged last fall to rebid the contracts, which were awarded to Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Fluor Corp. Later, the agency acknowledged the rebidding wouldn'’t happen until February.
I'm SHOCKED. Not that there won't be rebidding, we all knew that when it comes to dolling out federal dollars to corporations with 'friendly' boards, Republicans just love to 'speed up the process.' Poor people trying to buy food for their families are a different story. Nor am I shocked that this potentially politically damaging news came out late in the day on a Friday. Nobody's thinking about anything other than the weekend at this point.

I'm shocked that the Administration didn't classify the whole procedure, claim that if we revealed our methods of handing out contracts the terrorists would win and blather on about how people who want things like government accountability just don't understand what it means to be a patriotic American.

Anything else? Oh, yeah, this gem:
An additional $1.5 billion in work promised to small businesses also has yet to be awarded.
Thanks to grossincompetencee (or more likely maliciousness) there are people who trusted their government to make good on its promises getting shafted.


Two links, straight up

Just like I like my vodka.

Jack Abramoff is subpoenaed in Florida murder case.

Tom Delay loses his concealed carry permit.

Just for Laughs...

I don't know who did the cartoon, but credit to him or her. I don't want to be accused of plagiarism or anything.

Let me know if the numbers work.

Madeleine Albright: "Good vs. Evil not a Strategy"

The LA Times has an analysis piece by Madeleine Albright. Excerpts:

For years, the president has acted as if Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's followers and Iran's mullahs were parts of the same problem. Yet, in the 1980s, Hussein's Iraq and Iran fought a brutal war. In the 1990s, Al Qaeda's allies murdered a group of Iranian diplomats. For years, Osama bin Laden ridiculed Hussein, who persecuted Sunni and Shiite religious leaders alike. When Al Qaeda struck the U.S. on 9/11, Iran condemned the attacks and later participated constructively in talks on Afghanistan. The top leaders in the new Iraq — chosen in elections that George W. Bush called "a magic moment in the history of liberty" — are friends of Iran. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bush may have thought he was striking a blow for good over evil, but the forces unleashed were considerably more complex.


[T]he administration must stop playing solitaire while Middle East and Persian Gulf leaders play poker. Bush's "march of freedom" is not the big story in the Muslim world, where Shiite Muslims suddenly have more power than they have had in 1,000 years; it is not the big story in Lebanon, where Iran is filling the vacuum left by Syria; it is not the story among Palestinians, who voted — in Western eyes — freely, and wrongly; it is not even the big story in Iraq, where the top three factions in the recent elections were all supported by decidedly undemocratic militias.

In the long term, the future of the Middle East may well be determined by those in the region dedicated to the hard work of building democracy. I certainly hope so. But hope is not a policy. In the short term, we must recognize that the region will be shaped primarily by fairly ruthless power politics in which the clash between good and evil will be swamped by differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Arab and Kurd, Kurd and Turk, Hashemite and Saudi, secular and religious and, of course, Arab and Jew. This is the world, the president pledges in his National Security Strategy, that "America must continue to lead." Actually, it is the world he must begin to address — before it is too late
Actually, I think what Dear Leader should do is stop leading. 'W' has yet to lead us any place that is better than where we were before he weaseled his way into the White House.

Credit to Shakespeare's Sister, from whom I stole the link.

Patriot Act Oversight "Not Binding"

From the Boston Globe, we learn that BushCotm really does have no regard for the rule of law.

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.
He doesn't feel that he has to abide by the laws that congress passes? WHAT THE FUCK DOES HE THINK HE IS, A FUCKING KING?
Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.
It's Friday and I'm not really in the mood to get all pissed off, but god damn it, where does King George get off thinking that he has any ability to decide which laws passed by congress he's going to obey?
Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "
I've read the constitution. Seriously, from "We the People..." to "...until an election of Representatives shall have intervened." Article II makes no mention of the President's ability to interpret laws. This administration holds truer to the fundamental tenets of Conservatism as conceived during - and in opposition to - the French Revolution.

Those in the executive branch of our government do not 'feel' that they have any responsibility to the people they govern. They are society's natural leaders, ordained by God, and they know what's best. Because God is the source of their legitimacy, they are not beholden to earthly laws.

Bush, raised as near to a Prince as any man in America, has taken Conservatism back to it's roots - the rights of kings and aristocracy to decide the course of the ship of state without any interference from commoners.

We've Stopped Hinting about Iran

According to the Washington Post, we've come right out and made the accusation. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said this yesterday in the Greenzone of Iraq:

"Our judgment is that training and supplying, direct or indirect, takes place, and that there is also provision of financial resources to people, to militias, and that there is presence of people associated with Revolutionary Guard and with MOIS [Ministry of Intelligence and Security]."
Professor Cole at Informed Comment says that the accusation is, at best, implausible. The groups specified by the Ambassador (the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr and certain Sunni Arab guerrillas) "are mostly nativist Iraqi ghetto youth who often do not like Persians. The major force in Iraq trained by the Iranians is the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a relative American ally." He points out that the Sunni guerrillas, supposedly funded and trained by Iran, are blowing up Shiite shrines and Mosques.

So, with meetings planned between the U.S. and Iran over the future of Iraq, why would the Administration make such an inflamatory statement? Any relation to the U.N. Security Council deliberations on Iran's (possible) nuclear program?

It seems to me that there is less and less of a plan in the Middle East as time goes by. Our entire military is tied up in Iraq. BushCo. can try to use its favorite tactic, provoke and confront, but the world will quickly realize that the U.S. has no credible military 'punch' other than airstrikes. The military is stretched far to thin to add any sort of ground assault. A draft might provide the troops but it would take months to have the soldiers ready, let alone the fact that a draft would destroy any sort of support for the war and the Administration.

The New Conservative WaPo Blogger

I've largely ignored the major flap over my city's newspaper, the Washington Post, hiring a conservative blogger, Ben Domenech, founder of RedState, for 'balance.' I've been busy lately and it fell through the cracks as other more important things, like my job, kept me busy.

First, let's be clear on one thing. There is no 'left leaning' blogger at the post, just real journalists that maintain blogs. Domenech is a ideologue, a party hack, a conservative shill, and completely uninterested in or qualified to do anything resembling journalism.

Oh, and he's a plagiariser. (It's a real word, I looked it up.)

The WaPo may not care that the guy is a completely inappropriate addition to their staff, but they will care that he's been copying other people's work for years.

You can find plenty of examples of his 'inspired' writing at Atrios and DailyKos, some from the Washington Post.

This will, of course have the beneficial short term effect of getting Ben off the Post's website. The long term effect, however, is that as a community, the blogosphere, left and right, has lost credibility. You can add blogs to one more thing that the touch of conservatives has sullied.

Read what the Washington Post has to say about the whole thing here.

UPDATE: 2:33 pm 3.24.2006
He resigned.


Sometimes, they just write themselves.

The Independent is running a story with this headline:

Afghan Christian convert may escape conviction due to 'insanity'

The not at all funny situation of a man facing death for the religion he chooses does allow for some easily written jabs at our Christianist and Dominionist friends here in the United States. I won't indulge myself...

The trial of a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity might be dropped on the grounds of his "mental instability", officials have said, as Afghanistan provoked international criticism over the case.

Abdul Rahman, 41, faced an initial hearing in the country's primary courts last week, charged with apostasy. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty under Islamic Sharia law.

However, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Supreme Court, Wakil Omar, told journalists yesterday: "As far as I've noticed and been told, he might have a mental problem. If he is proved mentally ill, then he wouldn't be tried."
My understanding is that the Afghan government is desperately trying to find a way to not try this guy. According to their laws, which he is pretty clearly in breach of, he should be put to death. This is not the image the new government (or it's American backers) want. How good would it look for Bush to spend billions liberating Afghanistan from the Taliban to have the new government turn around and execute a man for being a Christian?
"He doesn't speak like normal people," Zalmai, the chief prosecutor in the case, who uses only one name, told The Independent. "We are delaying the next hearing for him to be examined by doctors to establish his sanity."
Christianists and Dominionists don't speak like normal people here either. Maybe it's all the home schooling...

Senator Specter: You Drive Me Nuts

Before I address the recent AP article about Senator Specter, a bit of background. I'm from Pennsylvania. A rather conservative part of Pennsylvania. In my dealings with people outside of the state, I defended my state's seeming political incongruity with New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland by pointing to Mr. Specter. "Even Pennsylvania Republicans are a different sort" I would say, pointing to Sen. Specter's pro-choice position, his warnings to the Administration upon becoming chair of the Judiciary Committee, his general lack of 'fundie-ness.' I'd call Santorum an aberration, disliked by a solid majority of Pennsylvania soon to be recalled from Washington in favor of a moderate Democrat. This, I said, a moderate from each party, would more fairly represent my state.

Needless to say, Senator Specter has disappointed me lately. He buckled in his role as moderate Chair of the Judiciary Committee, allowing an obviously anti-choice candidate for Supreme Court Justice to go through with his support. His independence from the Administration waned. I was saddened. I moved to Maryland. Now, it seems, Mr. Specter has shown another glimmer of 'nonfundie-ness'. We'll see if it lasts.

The AP is running a story in which the first story labels my former favorite Senator from Pennsylvania a "vocal Republican critic of the Bush administration's eavesdropping program ." Go read the whole thing, but here are enough excerpts to give you the basic idea:

A vocal Republican critic of the Bush administration's eavesdropping program will preside over Senate efforts to write the program into law, but he was pessimistic Wednesday that the White House wanted to listen.

"They want to do just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it," Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think what is going on now without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just plain wrong."


The Senate Parliamentarian last week gave Specter jurisdiction over two different bills that would provide more checks on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program.

One bill, written by Specter, would require a secretive federal intelligence court to conduct regular reviews of the program's constitutionality. A rival approach -— drafted by Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record) and three other Republicans -— would allow the government to conduct warrantless surveillance for up to 45 days before seeking court or congressional approval.

Specter said the House and Senate intelligence committees could have had authority over the program under the 1947 National Security Act, which lays out when the spy agencies must tell Congress about intelligence activities.

But, Specter said, the committees haven't gotten full briefings on the program, instead choosing to create small subcommittees for the work.

"The intelligence committees ought to exercise their statutory authority on oversight, but they aren't," Specter said. "The Judiciary Committee has acted. We brought in the attorney general. We had a second hearing with a series of experts, and we are deeply involved in it."


Specter's bill would require the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide a broad constitutional review of the surveillance activities every 45 days and evaluate whether the government has followed previous authorizations that are issued.
Is this just posturing or has my on-again-off-again Senator really had enough? Mr. Specter claims to have Democratic support for his efforts. This could be a good sign but the way that the Democratic Leadership has behaved lately gives me very little faith.

What's The Point Here?

I'm not really sure what he's trying to sell me...

Go see Shakespeare's Sister's photo montage. I laughed my ass off.

Glad I Didn't Go to College in Texas

Reuters runs a story with this headline: "Texas arresting people in bars for being drunk"

Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

"We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said.

"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.
That whole jumping from balconies into swimming pool is a HUGE problem but do we really need to put the Bush Doctrine into use by law inforcement?

Legal Abortion in South Dakota

Cecilia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux tribe of South Dakota, is going to make the GOoPers in South Dakota pretty pissed. Via Salon:

Today, Broadsheet salutes Cecilia Fire Thunder, first female president of the Oglala Sioux tribe of South Dakota and a longtime advocate of domestic violence prevention and other true family-friendliness. Here’s her response to her state’s abortion ban (which Tim Giago at Indianz.com called “a stupid law against women” created by “a state body made up mostly of white males"):

“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she told Giago. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”
Let's see what the idiot Republican legislature will do about that!

UPDATE: 12:49 pm 3.23.06
Donations (Pine Ridge Reservation doesn't exactly have a ton of cash on hand) can be mailed to:
PO BOX 990
Martin, SD 57751
To personally contact President Fire Thunder:

firethunder_president AT NOSPAM yahoo DOT com
cc:vbush AT NOSPAM oglala DOT org
Do cc it to the included address. It's her personal secretary.

Bush: I Blame the Media

Of course he does. Of course anybody who's actually listening to the media (you know, reading newspapers) would know that the whole 'blame the media' thing is a smoke screen for the mistakes BushCotm made.

Crooks and Liars has the video of NBC's Richard Engel dispelling the notion that the media fails to report on the 'good' that's going on in Iraq:

Gregory: Do we miss the overall story about what'’s going on in Iraq, or does security remain the overall story?

Engel: I think the security problem is the overall story and most Iraqi’s I speak to say-actually most reporters get it wrong-it'’s the situation on the ground is actually worse than the images we project on television.
If you can still be killed while reportion on the 'good' that's going on in Iraq, how good can the situation be?


Link Dump

Sorry, fellow 'Wonderers, work today is quite busy. A quick link dump might be all you get.

The AP reports that the U.S. Government is telling schools to prepare for an outbreak of birdflu. The question is will the schools get any extra funds?

The BBC reports that over 90 airlines have been banned from operating within the EU due to security concerns.

Go visit Professor Cole at Informed Comment for the latest on Iraq including the jail break which sprung about 32 prisoners.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wiree reports on NOW's endorsement of Alan Sandals instead of Democratic front runner Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania.

Also from Political Wire, we get the story on Tammy Duckworth, disabled Iraq Vet who's won the Democratic Primary for the 6th Congressional District in Ohio.

Go see Pam's story on George Allen being made to look the fool by a 16 year old.

And finally, via Shakespeare's Sister, there's a great chart on Alas, a blog that forever destroys the argument that the policies Anti-Choicers want implemented have anything to do with the belief that abortion is murder.


Georgia Puts Bibles in Public Classrooms

What seems to be the local NBC affiliate in Columbia SC, WIS10, is reporting that the Georgia legislature has provided for Bible Classes at public High Schools.

(Atlanta, Georgia-AP) March 20, 2006 - A bill that allows public high schools to offer classes on the Bible sped through the Georgia House Monday, passing overwhelmingly with no debate.

The legislation, which passed 151-7, would allow high schools to form elective courses on the history and literature of the Old Testament and New Testament eras. The classes would focus on the law, morals, values and culture of the eras.

State Representative James Mills, the proposal's House sponsor, said the legislation would withstand a court challenge because it treats the Bible as an educational supplement.

Under the proposal, the Old Testament and New Testament would be the primary text for each class and the local school board would decide which version of the text to use.
Right now it's an elective. My guess is that it won't take long for some Christianist Zealot principal to make it a defacto requirement. Students that opt out will face discrimination or worse.

This is the first step towards theocracy.

$1,703.09 per Day

Assuming an eight hour work day, that's $212.88 an hour. Not bad for a job whose only requirements are that you're a U.S. citizen and at least 25 years old...

The USA Today reports that the House of Representatives will spend just 97 days in Washington this year and each congressman will earn at minimum $165,200.00 for his or her trouble.

That's a full two weeks less than the "Do Nothing" Congress of 1948.

Warrantless Physical Searches

U.S. News & World Report has a story that you just knew was coming.

President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval. Meeting in the FBI's state-of-the-art command center in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the lawyers talked with senior FBI officials about using the same legal authority to conduct physical searches of homes and businesses of terrorism suspects--also without court approval..
Even the FBI wasn't too keen to go down that road. FBI Director Robert Mueller was "alarmed" that the FBI would, for the first time conducted "physical searches of any location without consent or a judicial order."
Amendment IV - Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Seems pretty clear to me, but I'm not Alberto Gonzales.
But in a little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, "a consistent understanding has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes."
If warrantless eavesdropping created a fuss, I expect warrantless searches of people's homes to cause a furor. Any real conservative will see this power grab for what it is, an extra-constitutional attempt by the Executive Branch to strip rights away from American Citizens.

Iraq Round Up

Things are bad in Iraq. The difference between what the President is saying and what the world is seeing is starting to affect his credibility. Read all about the last three years here to see what I mean.

Oh, and the Iraqis don't think we're going to leave.

March / April Straw Poll @ Daily Kos

Over at Daily Kos the March / April Straw Poll reads as such:

[as of 4:02 pm, 3.20.2006]

How do you currently prefer for 2008?

Vilsack ........................ 9 votes - 0 %
Daschle ....................... 12 votes - 0 %
Bayh ........................... 26 votes - 1 %
Kerry .......................... 35 votes - 1 %
Biden .......................... 41 votes - 1 %
Other ......................... 48 votes - 2 %
H. Clinton .................... 49 votes - 2 %
Richardson ................... 52 votes - 2 %
No frickin' clue ............... 85 votes - 3 %
Edwards ...................... 142 votes - 6 %
Warner ....................... 299 votes - 13 %
Clark .......................... 332 votes - 14 %
Feingold ..................... 1161 votes - 50 %

Votes: 2156
I'm sure if you check the link now, the numbers are slightly different. There's probably some changes in rank among the also rans. For my purposes, these numbers should be fine. It should be noted the choices were limited to candidates that have expressed interest in running.

First, there are really only four candidates with any real support. The most notable absense is Hillary Clinton, who is stuck with the also rans with Biden and 'other.' While the media may annoint her and pronounce her the leading candidate, the netroots (and I would argue all those salivating for a candidate from the left) don't like her. Her movement to the center is to blame. A lot of people in the netroots also understand that she has a very strong negative numbers among Republicans.

John Edwards, currently out of government, is running on his 'Two Americas' theme and has some support. I can't really get past the fact that he looks like he's so young. And not in a JFK sort of way. He doesn't have much experience, especially in foreign affairs which one would expect to be a theme for 2008. He's still enjoying support left over from his 2004 VP campaign. Unless he does something to get a spike of notoriety, he'll fall away early.

Mark Warner, ex-Governor of Virginia, has approximately twice the votes Edwards does. Warner was a reasonbly liberal and well like governer of a Red State. His presidential campaign is based on his ability to connect with rural voters and appeal to Red Staters. Conventional wisdom dictates that a Southern Governor is the way to go for Democratic Presidential candidates. It's not a bad option. We'll find out as we learn more about Mr. Warner.

Gen. Wesley Clark, ret. pulls into second. He's been the default Democratic choice since he floundered in the primaries in 2004. Clark, who before 2004 had no political experience, has one major advantage: it would be difficult for Republicans to paint him weak on national defense. My feelings on Clark is that he's a place holder candidate. He is the default 'most likely to win' candidate that I support until a better candidate came along. I would be hugely supportive of a ticket that had Clark as VP.

This brings us the the resounding winner, Russ Feingold who trounced his closest opponents by 36%. Feingold declared that he will be running for President from the left by introducing his censure resolution. In a Democratic Party decryed as weak and ineffectual by many in the netroots, this sort of political bravery will always be reported. Feingold is the new Dean. Russ will remain the netroots favorite for the forseeable future.

Of course we have to get through 2006 successfully before any of this means anything.


How'd that work out, Mr. Rounds?

Rounds drops from 72% approval rating to 58% in weeks.

I wonder how he managed that...

Here's the Survey USA info.

Have you Been to Cleveland?

Bush To Cleveland: ‘Anybody Work Here In This Town?’

Think Progress has the video of Bush asking a crowd in Cleveland, "Anybody Work Here In This Town?"

Unemployment in Ohio has jumped by 20% since Bush took office. Cleveland's poverty rate went from 24.3% in 2001 to 31.3% in 2006.

What do you think, Dumbass?

Healing Iraq

I've added Healing Iraq to the blogroll. Zeyad, the blogger, is a dentist in Bagdad, educated in Britian. His Bio:

My name is Zeyad. I was born from Sunni Muslim parents in Baghdad, Iraq 1979. Shortly afterwards, my parents left for the UK to pursue their Masters studies. I was raised in Colchester, Essex and also lived in both London and Bournemouth. We returned to Iraq in 1987. I was privileged to study at the Baghdad College high school which was originally built by American Jesuits in 1931, and is still considered the best public school in Iraq to this day. I originally intended to major in computer engineering, but my parents wanted me to study medicine. I settled on dentistry. I graduated from the Dentistry College at Baghdad University, and I'm presently in the fourth year of my postgraduate residency period, after which I plan to study for a M.Sc. degree in the UK, US, or Canada if I have a chance to do so.
He is living what we're blogging about, at least in regards to the War in Iraq. He posts photos that never make it anywhere near the media outlets here in America. His commentary is certainly outside the Main Stream Media's focus.

Top Ten Catastrophes of the Third Year of American Iraq

Go read Professor Cole's 'Top Ten' list of disasters of the third year of the American involvement in Iraq at Informed Comment.

Katherine Harris: Always Entertaining

"Harris tells Christian group she believes God wants her in public service"

That's the headline at Palm Beach Post.com and really all you need to know. Everyone knows that when their campaigns need a shot in the arm, Republicans pull out the "god told me to run" shtick. But this is Katherine Harris. She's always good for going that extra mile...

She said that, as a young woman, she was inspired by the movie The Last of the Mohicans because "people were willing to die for something bigger than themselves."

Harris also was moved by the Lord of Rings movies, saying they, too, suggest that sometimes your mission in life is bigger than the individual.
First: the movie The Last of the Mohicans - not the book - inspired her as a young woman. Ok, so we know she doesn't read. Common Republican attribute. Let's get back to the 'young woman' part. The movie came out in 1992. The upper limit for 'young woman' is what, 28? Harris was born April 5, 1957. In 1992 she was 35. Thirty five is not a young woman. It's certainly not the age where a woman should first be inspired by a movie that it's possible to "die for something bigger than themselves."

All due respect to women who are 35, but you shouldn't be making earth shattering discoveries about yourself or human nature by sitting in the movie theater watching blockbusters.

Bush on the "_____ in Iraq"

ABC News catches the fact that as he marked the three year anniversary of the Iraq Debacle, Bush never used the word "war."

Support the Troops! But don't actually acknowledge that you started a war that's killed 2,300 of them.

Heckuva' Job, Dubya.

Whiny Kids Turn into Conservatives

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.
Now that's surprising! The Toronto Star has the story. No American papers seemed to be inclined to report on a study done by American Scientists on American children, living in the United States regarding American politics. Strange.
The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.
Oh, right. Don't like the results? Investigate the scientist's funding. And in today's political climate, they'd probably call for the destruction of the presses of the paper that ran the story...
But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.

The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective.
The scientist's theory is that kids with insecurites look for "reassurance" in things like centralized authority, tradition and dogma. Children with self confidence are willing to look into various ways to live in the world and find liberalism more in keeping with their desire to escape from rigid orthodoxy.
Similar work by John T. Jost of Stanford and colleagues in 2003 drew a political backlash. The researchers reviewed 44 years worth of studies into the psychology of conservatism, and concluded that people who are dogmatic, fearful, intolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty, and who crave order and structure are more likely to gravitate to conservatism. Critics branded it the "conservatives are crazy" study and accused the authors of a political bias.
Of course he did. When you don't like what science says, accuse the scientist of being a damned 'Librul.

I hope this gets some pressin the United States. It's just rings true. Even the conservatives know it - that's why they hate it so much.

Like Speed Dating, but Fucked Up-er.

Via Roll Call:

Seeking to consolidate time as House Members slogged through dozens of proposed amendments to the $91.9 billion emergency spending bill Thursday, Republican leaders resurrected a tactic that hadn’t been used in nearly 20 years: speed voting.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) revived the strategy Thursday afternoon, seeking a “more efficient” way of dealing with the numerous back-to-back votes expected on the spending bill designating funds for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as hurricane relief to the Gulf Coast, a spokesman said.

“This way [Members] are not consumed with standing around on the floor and waiting, and they can get back to the bulk of the work they do here in Washington,” said Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden.

Under House rules, the Speaker may reduce the minimum time allotted to any successive votes to five minutes, as long as the first vote in the series is held open for 15 minutes...
It all got by with "unanimous consent" which is code for 'we don't want our names attached to this one." Our nation just passed a $91.9 billion spending bill with less debate than my fiance and I have over the grocery list.


How to Win When the People Hate You

The Republicans have a plan to do just that. Via a Fred Barnes article in the Weekly Standard:

Politics is pretty simple. If the debate in an upcoming election puts your party at a disadvantage, it makes sense to try to change the debate. At the moment, the 2006 midterm election is framed as a referendum on the Bush administration and congressional Republicans, putting Republican candidates on the defensive. Party strategists, led by chairman Ken Mehlman, want to rejigger the debate so it's about a choice between candidates, putting Democratic candidates on the defensive as well. In short, they want it to be a choice election, not a referendum election.

This is not a new idea. Republicans brought about a choice election in 2004. Democrats believed they were a cinch to win a referendum on President Bush's first term, and Republicans worried they were right. But Republicans were able to make Democrat John Kerry at least as much of an issue as Bush was, especially on national security.

For 2006, the Republican National Committee, the White House, and most Senate and House Republicans are on board with the choice strategy. In fact, some members of Congress are already repeating a phrase first used by Bush in meetings with congressional allies. It's an assertion that Democrats would "raise your taxes and raise the white flag" in Iraq.
Oh, and they'll use standardized conservative social issues (aka 'hot button') to bring out the base. Expect those sorts of issues to turn up in the congressional legislative stream in the next few months.

At some point, winning elections by dividing the nation against itself is going to start causing problems.

The Black Room

Via the New York Times:

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.
This is the legacy of the Bush Administration, at least in the eyes of the world. This is the loss of the good will that winning World War II and the Cold War let us enjoy.

This is what happens when you conduct a war along lines of 'good' and 'evil.' If the enemy is the embodiment of evil, they are not human and have no rights. If you are 'good' whatever you do will, by definition, be 'good' because you are the embodiment of good and you're doing it to 'evil' and 'evil' deserved it.

This is where Republicanism has lead America.

Monday Morning Surprise!

According to Time Magazine, that who 'Operation Swarmer' (Not one of the catchiest code names) was apparently a fraud.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What'’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.
This isn't reporting the side of events that favor the Administration. This is an outright attempt at disinformation, aimed at the American public. What's worse is that thought it doesn't seem that any soldiers were killed in 'Operation Swarmer,' if there had been, how would you explain it to the family?

"On behalf of a gratefull President, we thank you for your son's service. Be comforted by knowing he died honorably in an operation to raise the President's approval numbers."

Once Again, John Murtha

Meet the Press with Tim Russert had Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha as a guest over the weekend. Transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: The president picks up the phone and calls you up, and says “Jack, come on down. You voted for this war, you now think it was a mistake, but we’re in a fix. And if I get out right away, we could leave behind a civil war, we could leave behind a haven for terrorism. Tell me specifically Mr. Murtha, what should I do today?”

REP. MURTHA: Here, here’s what you should do, Mr. President. First of all, you should fire all the people who are responsible for that, which gives you international credibility.

MR. RUSSERT: Including his secretary of defense?

REP. MURTHA: Well, he, he should—well, let’s say he should offer his resignation, because he certainly...

MR. RUSSERT: And it’s sure to be accepted?

REP. MURTHA: I would accept it, that’s exactly right.

MR. RUSSERT: What about the vice president?

REP. MURTHA: Well, you can’t fire the vice president, so I think he’ll, he’ll have to handle this himself.

MR. RUSSERT: Should he offer his resignation?

REP. MURTHA: Yeah. Well, certainly the vice president has been the primary force in running, running this war, and many of the mischaracterizations have come about. You and I talked before the show about some of the things he said on your show, right before the war started. None of them turned out to be true. This is why the American public is so upset.

OK, I say fire some people, that’s the first thing.

MR. RUSSERT: Who should he fire?

REP. MURTHA: Well, he, he, he’s got to make that decision himself. Anybody that’s been responsible, first of all, for the intelligence-gathering; second of all, for the characterization; and third of all, for the maintaining and running the war. For instance, from the national security office down to the secretary of defense’s office. I mean he’s got to make that decision.
More attacks on his Patriotism by Republicans and more avoidance by establishment Dems in the week to come. Rep. Murtha knows that these attacks are coming. He knows he won't get any support from behind. And still he calls for the resignation of nearly everybody in the Bush Administration.

That's courage.


Have Republicans Always Been THIS Crazy?

Or was it that before the internet, I'd have no idea what some bat-shit loony Wingnut said in Indiana? Tony Zirkle, bat-shit loony Wingnut running for the House of Representatives in Indian, has some seriously whacked out ideas. Via the South Bend Tribune:

"If I am elected to Congress, I will introduce a declaration of war against human traffickers, porn-pimps and child rapists," Zirkle said in a campaign release. "We must put fear back into the criminals who are preying on our children."

The first stage of the battle, as proposed by Zirkle, calls for suspension of the constitutional protections of property rights for "porn-pimps."

"Every adultery (sic) book store will be immediately seized and the property will be forfeited to the taxpayers without any process of law other than a hearing within 10 days of seizure to give the porn-pimps the opportunity (to) challenge the sufficiency of prostitution evidence."

Stage 2, Zirkle said, would involve "actual arrests" for those who did not learn from Stage 1. Stage 3, if necessary, calls for "super speedy public trials with severe punishment that is swiftly carried out after a rapid appeal."

Which leads to Stage 4. "If this stage is necessary, then I am willing to debate the idea of returning the guillotine and lynch mob for those who prey on children under the age of 12; however, no capital punishment will be extended without at least four witnesses."
Four whitnesses? Why, he must be a humanitarian. It's friday, you can draw your own conclusions about the state of Republican Ruled America.

Enjoy your weekend.