Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bush Destroyed The Taliban

Sure he did.

Its becoming more common recently to read about Taliban attacks. The Taliban is back with a vengeance and Bush doesn't have the troops needed to fight them. Maybe invading Iraq might have been ill-advised?

So now does Bush throw more troops into Afganistan? What about his intent to attack Iran? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Good thing Bush is adept at decision making (sarchasim).

I would love to have an honest talk with Bush Sr and find out what he truly thinks about this idiot son of his.
Taliban gunmen have shot dead the former governor of an Afghan province along with four of his guards, and hours later tried to kill the province's current governor.

The administrative chief of Ghazni province's Andar district said the gunmen shot Taj Mohammad, the former governor of Ghazni and an outspoken opponent of the Taliban, near his home.

Four of Mr Mohammad's bodyguards were also killed.

A Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul, claimed responsibility for the attack.

I've never been much for isolationism. Never been much for invasion either. And certainly am not a proponent for going into a couple (so far) Middle East countries and fucking things up for generations to come.

I'm often surprised when a state governor is elected president and then does a creditable job of forming foreign policy. I believe they succeed because they choose competent advisors and ask the right questions. But that hasn't been Bush's style. He thinks he knows it all. The few times he does ask for assistance, he takes the advice of other idiots who think he can shove democracy down people's throats. He knows so little about the history of the Middle East he can't ask intelligent questions. For instance, he should have asked what to do after the "liberation". A plan would have been a nice touch.

Folks, democracy comes from the people. They choose it and fight for it. It isn't something an outsider can push on them. Will Bush ever learn? Probably not.

(read more)

Alaska Arctic Wildlife Refuge Oil

Jesus H Christ. If you have children you know how they will pester and pester you until they get what they want. They just wear you down. And that's exactly what the Bush administration does to the American people. Oil in Alaska, intelligent design, abortion, and the list goes on. They never relent.
A last-minute deal to secure the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., on a $2.8 trillion budget plan has given new life to the Republican drive to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling.

The budget blueprint for fiscal 2007, which will begin in October, includes a $10 billion Gulf Coast restoration fund that would be financed from the leasing of Arctic-refuge drilling rights, revenue from new drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico and further sales of the broadcast spectrum.

With that provision in hand, Landrieu cast the only Democratic vote for the budget resolution, which squeaked through Thursday night, 51-49.

I hope Landrieu sleeps well after this. The bitch didn't have to capitulate.

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Domestic Spying Again

Wonder where this will lead. The inter-connections are often staggering.
A Pentagon intelligence agency that kept files on U.S. anti-war activists hired one of the contractors who bribed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., to help it collect data on houses of worship, schools, power plants and other locations in the United States.

MZM, headed by Mitchell Wade, also received three contracts totaling more than $250,000 to provide unspecified "intelligence services" to the White House, according to documents obtained by Knight Ridder.

The White House didn't respond to an inquiry about what those intelligence services entailed.[emphasis mine]

What is interesting is whether this is one of the illegal spying activities Bush doesn't want the American public to know about.

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The disclosure that CIFA was storing information on anti-war activities added to concerns that the Bush administration may have used its war on terrorism to give government agencies expanded power to monitor Americans’ finances, associations, travel and other activities.

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Cat Blogging

I don't have a cat!

Take That Bush

Several states and cities took the Environmental Protection Agency to court and won, thus preventing a weakening of the Clean Air Act. It ain't much, but we'll take whatever victory we can in this fight against Bush and his administration.
A federal appeals court Friday blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from easing clean air rules on aging power plants, refineries and factories, one of the regulatory changes that had been among the top environmental priorities of the White House.

The new rules, strongly supported by industry representatives, would have allowed older plants to modernize without having to install the most advanced pollution controls.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington declared that the EPA rules violate the Clean Air Act and that only Congress can authorize such changes.

Fourteen states and a number of cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, had sued to block the change in 2003, saying it allow more air pollution.

Don't ya just love it when people like this judge do their job well?

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Sweet Jesus

This is the whole post less the picture. Shit!
One of [lobbyist] Mr. Ashcroft's newest clients is ChoicePoint, a broker of consumer data that is increasingly being used by the government to keep tabs on people within the United States. The company received millions of dollars in contracts from the Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft as part of the war on terror and has now hired him to find more.

"The Ashcroft Group contacted us and we initiated a relationship," said Chuck Jones, a ChoicePoint spokesman. "He's got a lot of knowledge that could benefit ChoicePoint."

Wish I believed in capital punishment. It would be too good for 'em.

Ok, maybe he didn't technically break any law, but...

Gotcha Again! Bush, You Loony Guy

Athough it is a short post, there's just too much there to cut and paste and I can't steal the whole thing. Take a look. More smoke and mirrors, folks. That "attack" you heared about was just a kabuki dance for your pleasure. Ok, maybe one short snippet.
That sounds exciting! But according to a colleague of mine from TIME who traveled up there today on a U.S. embassy-sponsored trip, there are no insurgents, no fighting and 17 of the 41 prisoners taken have already been released after just one day. The “number of weapons caches” equals six, which isn’t unusual when you travel around Iraq. They’re literally everywhere.

These people are never honest...about anything...ever.

Friday, March 17, 2006

When should U.S. attack first? Only as last resort.

That title is a headline of an excellent article. I recommend you read it.

US Support For Troops In Iraq Hits New Low: Poll

That title is a headline in Agence France-Presse and, allowing for benefit of the doubt, it is poorly written if not just plain wrong.
Two thirds of Americans believe the United States is losing ground in Iraq, and less than half believe that US-led forces can leave a stable and democratic regime in Baghdad, according to a poll.

The error is stating Americans don't support the troops. The fact is most Americans, well not us terrorist sympathizing, troop hating, puppy killing, anti-religion progressives, but all those other Americans do support our troops. What we don't support and the poll shows it, is Bush and his wrong headed insistance on staying the course in an illegal war that is killing so many human beings.

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Feeling Secure? Well Don't Redux II

Need to transport bomb-making supplies? Just take an airplane. Homeland Security won't stop you.
Security screeners at 21 U.S. airports failed to find bomb-making materials during recent government tests, NBC Nightly News reported on Thursday.

Federal agents carrying materials that could be used to make bombs escaped detection in airport screening during tests conducted between October and January, NBC said, citing government sources.

"In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one stopped these materials," the report said.


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had no comment on the report but said in a statement that detecting explosive materials and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) at the checkpoint was the agency's top priority. [emphasis mine]

It seems detection is their top priority. So how lousy are they performing on their lesser priorities? Wait, I think I have that info.
Two billion tons of cargo move through U.S. ports every year, mostly in containers. Before 9/11, only 2 percent of those containers entering the U.S. were inspected. Today, that number has increased to 5 percent.

But this means that, 41/2 years after we were attacked, 95 percent of all containers entering U.S. ports go without inspection.

There ya go. They're falling on their collective asses.

(read more - TSA)

(read more - ports)

Republicans Wise Up Or Posture?

Perhaps sanity is leaking back into the Repug party. Or can we tell 8 months before an election? Maybe its just temporary distancing from Bush.
Even as it presents an updated national security strategy, the Bush administration is facing fresh doubts from some Republicans who say its emphasis on promoting democracy around the world has come at the expense of protecting other American interests.

The second thoughts signify a striking change in mood over one of President Bush's cherished tenets, pitting Republicans who call themselves realists against the neoconservatives who saw the invasion of Iraq as a catalyst for change and who remain the most vigorous advocates of a muscular American campaign to foster democratic movements.

"You are hearing more and more questions about the administration's approach on this issue," said Lorne W. Craner, president of the International Republican Institute, a foundation linked to the Republican Party that supports democratic activities abroad. "The 'realists' in the party are rearing their heads and asking, 'Is this stuff working?' "

Of course a true neocon would put realists in quotes. The neocons have no respect for anyone who doubts their agenda. I love this from Henry Kissinger.
Mr. Kissinger noted in a commentary last year, for example, "The United States is probably the only country in which 'realist' can be used as a pejorative epithet."

I think every time we can identify a Repug as having an intelligent position on Bush's neo-imperialism we should immediately add the adjective realist to any mention of them.
Mr. Bush's intent is clear from the very first sentence of the national security strategy paper issued yesterday: "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

But the brighter minds in the Repug party are finally seeing the plan for the bullshit it is.
The concern, expressed by Representative Hyde, chairman of the International Relations Committee, is that the administration views democracy as a "magic formula."

"Implanting democracy in large areas would require that we possess an unbounded power and undertake an open-ended commitment of time and resources, which we cannot and will not do," he said.

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House Passes $92B Spending Bill

The House has passed the emergency spending bill for the war in Iraq and Katrina recovery.
The House voted overwhelmingly today to give President Bush $92 billion more for Iraq and Gulf Coast hurricane relief, despite bipartisan worries about the ballooning costs of the war and the recovery effort.

In a releated event today, the Senate passed a $2.8 trillion spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1
Of particular interest to me is, for now, the bill includes blocking Dubai-owned DP World from US ports.
The spending bill also includes, in defiance of Bush, a provision that would block Dubai-owned DP World from running or managing terminals at U.S. ports. That ban probably would not make it into the final bill now that the company has promised to sell its U.S. operations in the face of bipartisan congressional pressure.

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Giving Selling Away The Farm

Bush is pushing his plan to sell US forests.
The U.S. administration formalized its plan to sell more than 120,000 hectares of national forest to help pay for rural schools in 41 states, submitting legislation to Congress on Thursday to funnel $800 million to the schools over the next five years.

But is this more smoke and mirrors to draw attention away what he is really doing - shortchanging US school children?
"I am beginning to suspect that the administration is working overtime to keep land sales the issue that everyone debates, so that the public never focuses on the massive loss of funding for rural counties," Kardon said.

The administration's plan would result in a 55-per-cent cut over five years, compared with current spending, which totalled nearly $400 million this year.

You can bet on it. He's offering this stupid plan because he knows it will be the lightning rod.

"No child left behind"? Give me a fucking break. There is nothing good at all about the forest sales or the funding plan for the schools. It is amazing how many ways Bush can find to destroy as much of America as possible.

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The Religious Reasonable View

This from Thoughts of a minister. The subtitle of his blogsite is - Thoughts from a Baptist minister in Virginia who is trying to raise an alternate voice to the Religious and Theocratic Right. He is posting about Bush's reaffirming his belief in the pre-emptive strike doctrine. Which, I might add, has worked so well thus far.
Jesus was once reported as saying "Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall inhert the earth." But according to the Bush translation of the Bible, a Peacemaker is a type of long-range missle. How silly of me to think it was about people who try to stop fighting and conflicts. Silly me.

I take comfort in the fact that if the world survives another two years of Bush's bullying the whole world, that history will not look kind on the Bush administration.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Iran Oil Bourse Not End Of Dollar

I read about this months ago and busted a nut trying to find it again. But you are lucky because I succeeded...finally.
Of all the things that could wreck the US dollar - and there are many - the projected Tehran oil bourse, which is tentatively scheduled to open on March 20 to trade Iran's crude and other petroleum products in euros rather than US dollars, is probably not among them.

The much greater threat to the US currency is the US current account deficit, which ballooned to 7% of gross domestic productin [sic] the fourth quarter of 2005. The announcement drove the euro up to 1.202 against the US dollar as skittish traders renewed their concerns about the world's fiat currency.

Obviously I hope this analyst is more correct than the Bulgarian university professor Krassimir Petrov who calls this "The ultimate nuclear weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American empire". Oh my!

Almost everyone has bought into Petrov's theory, but what if he is wrong? If Bush buys Petrov's arguments, he will invade Iran to protect the dollar.

Please read John Berthelsen's article. He has compelling arguments and even has a couple neato tables for those of you who like visuals.

2008 Bumper Sticker Poll

Actually it ranks Dem presidential contenders by how many items such as buttons and bumper stickers the company sold in the last month for each possible candidate. Its different.

Oh yeah, Barack Obama is in the lead at 36.9% followed closely by Hillary Clinton at 33.2%. The rest are far behind.

While there, you can buy stuff if you want. And a disclaimer...I'm not affiliated with nor receive any compensation from this company.

DHS Gets 3rd F For Computer Security

Oh yeah, this really instills me with confidence in government agencies.
Most federal agencies that play key roles in the war on terror are doing a dismal job of protecting their computers and information networks from hackers and viruses, according to portions of a report to be released by a key congressional oversight committee Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with setting the government's cyber security agenda, earned a grade of F for the third straight year from the House Government Reform Committee. Other agencies whose failing marks went unchanged from 2004 include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, State, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs. [emphasis mine]

And we all know Al Queda is made up of cave dwelling ludites who would never try to hack DHS or Defense.

(Read More)

Taliban Leader Promises "Unimaginable" Violence

Things aren't going exactly well in that other country we sent troops to.

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar vowed a ferocious offensive against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, saying on Thursday they would soon face unimaginable violence.

An insurgency that has killed more than 1,500 people since the start of last year has intensified in recent months with a wave of suicide bombings, including at least 12 this year.

Ten U.S. troops have been killed in combat this year and U.S. commanders have said they expect violence to increase in coming months as the weather warms, snow on mountain passes melts, and Afghanistan's traditional fighting season begins. [emphasis mine]

Those bold words are the problem. Afghanistan has a traditional fighting season. When generation after generation knows nothing but fighting, it becomes a way of life and an end unto itself.

Next Question Please

President Bush was discussing Medicare prescription drug benefits in Maryland when he was asked the following.
I do have a question. When this law was passed with your encouragement -- almost immediately after the bill was enacted by Congress, the chief auditor at Medicare came out and spoke on TV and said that he had compiled a projected cost significantly higher than what Congress had been told. And he was threatened with immediate dismissal if he allowed that information to come out. Is that -- did that man speak the truth? And if so, why would you not want facts like that to come out to the American people? [emphasis mine]

Bush's answer to that question was...well, uh, he didn't answer it. He claimed the actual costs are 20% lower than was estimated. But that isn't the point. The point is a government auditor was threatened with dismissal if he gave his estimate. I too would like to hear the answer to the question.

Harris Is In The Race

No, not a horse race. The Senate race. She'll show those guys at the RNC who's really in charge.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris plans to spend $10 million she inherited from her father in her race to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, she announced Wednesday night.

Now the Repugs are trying to come into the Senate with possible bribery connections. Teh funny.
Harris ended speculation that she would quit the race on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes." Rumors swirled that she would withdraw after her name was associated with a defense contractor who bribed another congressman.

"I'm staying. I'm in this race. I'm going to win," she said. "I'm going to put everything on the line."

(Read More)

Iran Hasn't A Chance

Is there any doubt? All these things occurred on the same day. They aren't even being subtle anymore.

The goddess over at Echidne of the snakes said she never thought she would live long enough to see World War III, but now isn't so sure.
Making no apologies for the war in Iraq, the United States reaffirmed a right to preemptive military action and vowed to confront threats like North Korea and especially Iran.

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran," the White House said in a 49-page blueprint called the "National Security Stategy" of the United States, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

(Read More)

This is an especially endearing little ploy. They always tie Iraq to 9/11 which isn't really possible with Iran. No wait, maybe if they...yeah, they tie 9/11 to Iran. Run a little reverse on it. Very clever.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on Wednesday compared the threat from Iran's nuclear programs to the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

"Just like September 11, only with nuclear weapons this time, that's the threat. I think that is the threat," Bolton told ABC News' Nightline program.

(Read More)

[Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice called Iran a "troublesome state" and the "central banker of terrorism," though she didn't elaborate on that, and said it was time for the country to "heed the international community's call" to resume negotiations on its nuclear program.

(Read More)

US Troops In Iraq Given Bad Water

You knew the name of the company involved immediately. Didn't you? Yep, its Halliburton.
Halliburton Co. failed to protect the water supply it is paid to purify for U.S. soldiers throughout Iraq, in one instance missing contamination that could have caused "mass sickness or death," an internal company report concluded.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press, said the company failed to assemble and use its own water purification equipment, allowing contaminated water directly from the Euphrates River to be used for washing and laundry at Camp Ar Ramadi in Ramadi, Iraq.


"Countrywide, all camps suffer to some extent from all or some of the deficiencies noted," Wil Granger, Theatre Water Quality Manager in the war zone for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary, wrote in his May 2005 report.

Technically it was subsidiary KBR as identified in the story. Anyway, its still Halliburton, who was overcharging our government at the time while not doing their job.

There's much more to the story. The details make one wonder if Halliburton could, as has been suggested, adequately operate the US ports which DP World was going to operate.

Dems Lead By 55% To 39% On Generic Ballot

May we please hold the mid-term elections NOW!

A Couple Quotes

I may make this a regular or recurring thing. That is, I will if not too lazy or I forget.

"One would like to think that this White House would be too sane to launch a ground war on Iran while still mired in Iraq, but no gambler has made money recently betting on Washington's rationality." -- Ian Williams -author of Deserter: Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans and His Past, Nation Books, New York.

"The situation in Iraq is still tense." -- George W Bush - President of the US.

Molly Does Bush

Hey, I'm getting tired of reminding you. You have to read Molly Ivins. This Texas gal could have saved US from Bush if only enough voters had listened to her. Now we're stuck with the idiot-in-chief.

Today she disects Bush's tendency to flip-flop (hate the term, but love to use it on Repugs) about whether we are internationalists or isolationists depending on his whims.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Clear Heads Will Prevail In Iran-US Face-off?

Could this be the political cover Ahmadinejad needs to temper his rhetoric? It seems important people in Iran are critical of the hard line their president has taken. This will allow him the opportunity to rely on good council and soften his stand. Will he take it?
Just weeks ago, the Iranian government's combative approach toward building a nuclear program produced rare public displays of unity here. Now, while the top leaders remain resolute in their course, cracks are opening both inside and outside the circles of power over the issue.

Some people in powerful positions have begun to insist that the confrontational tactics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been backfiring, making it harder instead of easier for Iran to develop a nuclear program.

I've posted many times building a case about Bush's building a case to invade Iran. I've also posted several times about Ahmadinejad's masochistic tendencies to dare Bush to attack.

Perhaps now all-out war can be avoided...for now.

(Read More)

Oh, This Is Clever And Rotten

It seems Bush needs to keep gays out of government jobs that require security clearances.
The Bush administration last year quietly rewrote the rules for allowing gays and lesbians to receive national-security clearances, drawing complaints from some civil-rights activists.

The Bush administration said security clearances cannot be denied "solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual." But it removed language saying that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance."

So it is ok to consider sexual orientation as one factor leading to denial of clearance so long as it isn't the only factor. Ever get the idea we're already half way to being a theocracy?

But I forgot. This is the "trust us" administration. They won't be doing anything differently. They're just trying to make sure the language is clear.
"The minor language change did not and was not intended to alter the way sexual orientation is treated," National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said Tuesday. "The U.S. government policy has not changed in any way."

Now why the hell didn't Jones' statement calm everyone down? He says they won't really be using this new loophole they just wrote into the rules.

[all emphasis mine]

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Kidnapped Reporter Jill Carroll Alive

In an exclusive interview from Associated Press posted at there is hopeful news about Ms Carroll.
Jabr [interior minister] said Jill Carroll was still alive...and being moved from place to place by her captors. He would say nothing more about the case.

Little news, but good.

Marijuana Again Tied To Memory Problems

In Reuter's weird news they have a story about ganja and...uh, shit, what was I going to say?

Who Should Bush Help?

This from an excellent post at Capitol Hill Blue.
The White House has rejected hurricane disaster-recovery loans at a higher rate than any other administration in the last 15 years, according to a congressional study by Democrats.

The report, expected to be released Wednesday, said business and home loan approval rates averaged about 60 percent after Hurricane Andrew devastated much of south Florida in 1992. The trend continued through the rest of President George H.W. Bush's administration and into the Clinton administration, according to Democratic members of the House Small Business Committee.

After Hurricane Wilma surged ashore in south Florida last year, the approval rate for low-interest, taxpayer-guaranteed loans by the Small Business Administration had dropped to barely 15 percent. Overall, Democrats said, approval rates for home and business disaster loans since 2004 have averaged about 35 percent.


The SBA has tripled its staff over the past year to deal with the series of major Gulf Coast hurricanes. Despite the increase _ from 1,500 employees to 4,500 _ the report found the agency's approval rate has continued to drop with each disaster.

Where to start?

Where's the compassion?

Why are Bush's approval numbers falling?

Whatever happened to smaller government?

Why does this administration hate Americans?

Did the response to Wilma piss of brother Jeb?

How can the Dems, come the mid-terms, give the Repugs a pass on disaster relief?

Oh, they will, but just how?

I wish someone would step in and offer to initiate a class action suit on behalf of these people.

The moral repugnance of this is breathtaking. These people don't have money, influence, oil or power so they can be written off.

Well, someone should remind the Repugs that these people do have votes. And I'm hopeful those votes won't be going to the red team.

When Would Jesus Bolt?

This from the April Washington Monthly via

The subtitle of the article by Amy Sullivan: Meet Randy Brinson, the advance guard of evangelicals leaving the GOP.

Dr. Randy Brinson is one of the leading advocates of an elective Bible course for high school students presented to Alabama legislators.

The Republicans were filibustering the Bible bill. On a Tuesday afternoon in early February, Republican legislators in Alabama took to the crimson-carpeted floor of the state house to oppose legislation that would authorize an elective course on the Bible in public high schools. The recommended curriculum for the course had been vouched for by Christian Right all-stars like Chuck Colson and Ted Haggard, but so far as Republicans were concerned, there was only one pertinent piece of information about the bill: It was sponsored by two Democrats. And now Republicans were prepared to do everything in their procedural power to stop it, even if that meant lining up to explain why they could not—could not!—stand for this attempt to bring a class about the Bible into public schools.


To win the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry needed just 59,300 additional votes in Ohio—that's four percent of the total evangelical vote in the state, or approximately 10 percent of Ohio's moderate evangelical voters. And if the Democratic Party changed its reputation on religion, the result could alter the electoral map in a more significant and permanent way.

That's why, insiders say, the word has gone forth from the Republican National Committee to defeat Democratic efforts to reclaim religion. Republicans who disregard the instructions and express support for Democratic efforts are swiftly disciplined.


But as for Brinson himself, he's already gone. “Oh, they're ticked at me,” he says. “But it's because they're scared. This has the potential to break the Republican coalition.”

This is a fine article and, if you don't know about him already, gives a nice introduction to who Dr. Randy Binson is and why you should know about him.

Just A Funny

US Spending Billions To Stop Iraq IEDs

Ok, let me get this straight. We've been in Iraq for three years, lost thousands of troops to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices or car bombs) and now we're putting in the money to stop them? What the fuck is wrong with this picture?
The United States is pouring billions more dollars and fresh platoons of experts into its campaign to "defeat IEDs," the roadside bombs President Bush describes as threat No. 1 to Iraq's future.

The American military even plans to build special, more defensible highways here, in its frustrating standoff with the makeshift munitions — "improvised explosive devices" — that Iraqi insurgents field by the hundreds to hobble U.S. road movements in the 3-year-old conflict.

Not enough personal protection, insufficiently armoured vehicles and supposedly no spending on IED prevention up to now. Just tell me how Bush is "supporting the troops"?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Baghdad Still Calm Despite Revenge Deaths

Jesus, we're living in unbelievable times. I stole that headline from the Associated Press via Yahoo! News.
Scorched pavement, destroyed shops, burned out cars and four men shot in the head then hanged from electricity pylons — victims of revenge killings — awaited Shiite residents emerging from their homes Monday in Baghdad's Sadr City slum.

The scene, although gruesome, was not what many had feared: That deadly explosions the previous night in Sadr City would ignite all-out civil war, pitting majority Shiites against minority Sunnis.

Oh, I understand now. People are calm because four deaths aren't a big deal. My gawd! Can you imagine leaving your home tomorrow, seeing four viciously executed people and calmly go on your way?

Truth is, if we don't leave Iraq we must deal with Muqtada al-Sadr. He has unbelievable influence over the Iraqi people. And he has many guns.
A key to Monday's relative peace was anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's refusal to be provoked. With thousands of his Mahdi Army militiamen ready to fight, the Shiite leader called for calm and national unity. It was the second time in less than three weeks that Iraqis stood at the precipice of civil war but pulled back.

Britain? I call bullshit. There is no way you could feel confident the Iraqi forces can replace you. Every knowledgable military analyst I've read contradicts you.
Britain, the United States' largest military partner in
Iraq, showed its confidence Monday by announcing a 10 percent — about 800-troop — reduction by May.

"This is a significant reduction which is based largely on the ability of the Iraqis themselves to participate and defend themselves against terrorism, but there is a long, long way to go," British Defense Secretary John Reid said in London.

I do favour withdrawl (not redeployment to Iran) because Iraq has no chance of stablising with US occupational troops on the ground.

Bottom line, which should catch the eye of Republican "business types", is this is a shitty mess and it will only get worse before improving and US troops are not improving the fucking situation.

Ok, a couple words back I felt the need to throw in gratuitous profanity. So sue me.

DP World Ports Deal Gets Murkier

DP World apparently has no intentions of divesting itself of the seaport in Miami.
The Dubai-owned company that promised to surrender its U.S. port operations has no immediate plans to sell its U.S. subsidiary's interests at Miami's seaport, a senior executive wrote Monday in a private e-mail to business associates.

They are taking the stand that under US law, divestiture in Miami is not necessary.
"As for the 'pending situation,' I myself am not aware of anything about it that would alter the ownership of POMTOC [Port of Miami Terminal Operating Co.], so unless one or both of our esteemed partners have separately advised you that they plan to sell their interests, you should assume for your own purposes of managing the company that ownership of POMTOC is not going to change," Scavone wrote.

"And even if they do plan to sell, that would probably take a while," he wrote. Scavone's e-mail responded to an earlier message proposing a formal review of the port company's budget, "once the pending situation is resolved and ownership of POMTOC is established."

Scavone is executive vice president for security at P&O Ports North America Inc. and would seem to be short on intelligence if he's writing e-mails like this at this time.

Meanwhile lawmakers are threatening action if DP World doesn't sell off its US holdings.
... leading congressional critics have threatened to intervene if DP World's plans fall short of a full divestiture of its U.S. operations.

(Read More)

Loony ideas on the rise in China's `parliament'

This from the Taipei Times. So is the title.
China's parliament is widely seen as a rubber-stamp for the nation's Communist Party rulers, but that doesn't stop delegates and advisors from raising bold and sometimes wacky proposals.

This year has seen calls to introduce the mandatory use of edible toothpicks, pleas to professional footballers [socker players in US] to avoid sex with prostitutes and proposed laws to legalize same-sex marriages and euthanasia.

I've provided a link for your amusement, but I posted for the title. Not sure I would include "wacky" and "euthanasia" in the same piece with "loony" in the title, but what do I know.

I love the title. Loony is a great word and one I have to start using as an adjective with "Bush". He is loony. He is the villiage idiot who got out. Maybe if I start using loony more often I can avoid, idiot Bush, lying Bush and fucking Bush. Should make my posts more civilised.

Should Cause Much Debate

In an attempt to reconstruct the war from the Iraqi perspective, three people have written a history of the war for the US Joint Forces Command. The study has been partially de-classified.
Ousted president Saddam Hussein did not plan the insurgency in Iraq because he thought the United States would never invade the country, a US military history has concluded.

Which means we didn't have the only delusional leader. But here is the controversial stuff.
... US intelligence in 2002 misinterpreted internal Iraqi messages about weapons of mass destruction, thinking they were being hidden when in fact the messages were about complying with UN inspections.


... misread Iraqi message also from 2002 referred to instructions to "search the area surrounding the headquarters camp and (the unit) for any chemical agents, make sure the area is free of chemical containers, and write a report on it."

"US analysts viewed this information through the prism of a decade of prior deceit. They had no way of knowing that this time the information reflected the regime's attempt to ensure it was in compliance with UN resolutions,"

The controversy will arise because eye witness weapons inspectors were saying there were no weapons. That info should have been considered when those internal Iraqi messages were being interpreted.

Trial Judges Formally Close Milosevic Case

This from Associated Press.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal on Tuesday formally closed the case against Slobodan Milosevic and expressed regrets that the victims of the Balkan wars will be deprived of a verdict.

Yeah, I guess when the defendent dies the case does become rather moot.

All Hail The Mighty Ruler

When Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (ret.) in a recent speech mentioned dictatorship, a bell went off with me. It seemed I had been running into that word a lot lately. So I Googled and cut and pasted. These are some heavy hitters who warn of impending loss of freedom and liberty. Maybe its time we started paying more attention.

Sandra Day O' Connor

[A]ttacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms.”
"I, said O’Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into
dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

Dean Hartwell - political scientist and the author of Truth Matters: How the Voters Can Take Back Their Nation.
I would suggest impeachment but the Republicans control the House and the charges would never get out of the Judiciary Committee. I would also suggest we plan to vote the Democrats back into control of the House and the Senate in 2006. But that assumes the vote won’t be rigged.

We are the victims of a conspiracy brought about by our government. If this were happening in any other nation, we would call it a dictatorship or a “banana republic.” The least we can do is to tell ourselves the truth. Only then can we seek the freedom we deserve.

Ted Rall - Columnist
Creeping militarism leapt into full view with Bush’s October 4 request to Congress to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the use of the military in domestic policing except for the purpose of quelling a revolution.

Citing the theoretical possibility that Asian avian flu, now only transmittable from bird to human, could mutate into a human-to-human form, Bush said: "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that’s able to plan and move. I think it’s an important debate for Congress to have."

But what if military dictatorship could be proven a more efficient form of government than old-fashioned democracy? What if a standing army could do what a bunch of namby-pamby bureaucrats can’t? Would it be worth it?

That’s the choice George W. Bush is asking Congress, and thus us, to make.

The fact that he hasn’t been impeached for daring to ask it highlights the dictatorial tendencies of those who share his contempt for personal liberty.

Paul Craig Roberts - Chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury.
America is headed for a soft dictatorship by the end of Bush’s second term. Whether any American has civil rights will be decided by the discretionary power of federal officials. The public in general will tolerate the soft dictatorship as its discretionary powers will mainly be felt by those few who challenge it.

The congressional elections this coming November are the last chance for for Americans to reaffirm the separation of powers that is the basis of their civil liberties. Unless the voters correct their mistake of putting both the executive and legislative branches in the hands of the same party and deliver the House or the Senate to the Democrats, there is nothing on the domestic scene to stand in the way of more power, and less accountability, being accumulated in the executive [dictatorship].

Someone from Bush's own camp.
Republican Congressman Ron Paul has gone on record with his prediction that the impeachment of George W. Bush is right around the corner but warned that in the meantime the US was slipping perilously close to a dictatorship.

Gore Vidal -author of more than twenty novels and five plays.
And now here we are planning new wars, ongoing wars in the Middle East. And so as he [Bush] comes with his State of the Union, which he is going to justify eavesdropping without judicial warrants on anybody in the United States that he wants to listen in on. This is what we call dictatorship. Dictatorship. Dictatorship. And it is time that we objected. Don't say wait ‘til the next election and do it through that. We can't trust the elections, thanks to Diebold and S&S and all the electronic devices which are being flogged across the country to make sure that elections can be so rigged that the villains will stay in power.

Truth is, I could go on indefinitely (over 16 million hits). Are these the tinfoil hat crowd? Nope. I would say some of the other 16 million articles might fall in that category because they think Bush is out to be dictator of the world. Pretty tall order even for him to shoot for, but dictator at home is very doable.

Please follow the links. There is much more and many intelligent arguments to make these cases. In particular, I found a huge number of sites that link to or reproduce Paul Craig Roberts' article.

[all emphasis mine]

[Update sort of] Welcome all Digby fans. Love to see you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

We Are Serious On Terror?

This post includes the whole article from The Independent Online.
Judge halts Moussaoui trial over prosecution 'misconduct'

By Michael J. Sniffen [great reporter name], AP
Published: 13 March 2006

An angry federal judge today halted the trial of confessed al-Qa'ida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, calling an unexpected recessed to consider whether US government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option.

The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial. The Government had informed the judge and the defence over the weekend that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration had coached four witnesses from the government agency in violation of the rule set by US District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The rule was that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.

"This is the second significant error by the government affecting the constitutional rights of the defendant and the criminal justice system in this country in the context of a death case," Brinkema told lawyers in the case outside the presence of the jury.

What were they thinking? I assume the judge was quite clear in her instructions.

My take? I like this judge. There are rules and you will follow them.

There are gonna be a whole lot of outraged wingers if this guy ends up avoiding the death penalty.

For the record, I am almost always anti-death penalty. Maybe always.

Why You Should Insist On Freedom

This is about an animal rights activist. Before 9/11 and Bush, he was an innocent.
Kevin Kjonaas is an unlikely casualty of George W. Bush's war against terror.

No one, including the U.S. government attorneys who just finished prosecuting him for so-called animal enterprise terrorism, says that the 28-year-old Minnesota native killed anyone — or even hurt anyone.

He's never planted a bomb or sent anthrax through the mail.

The government doesn't claim Kjonaas damaged property — or knowingly provided material assistance to anyone who did.

Kjonaas admits he made mistakes with his website and would do things differently, but he never advocated violence or intimidation. In fact, he specifically included a disclaimer advocating peaceful actions.
However, earlier this month, Kjonaas and five others ranging in age from 27 to 31 became the first people convicted under a 1992 U.S. law — significantly beefed up after 9/11 — that defines as terrorists those who damage firms involved in the animal business.

Along with another case in Oregon, this one involving radical environmentalists, the New Jersey trial marks a significant step forward in the Bush administration's decision to bring the war on terror home for use against those it views as its new domestic enemies. [emphasis mine]

So who should be the targets? Are animal rights advocates the scum of the earth?
FBI spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan says there have never been any deaths or injuries in the U.S. attributable to animal rights or environmental terrorism.

By comparison, radical right-wingers killed 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Since then, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report, police have uncovered 60 more right-wing plots, including plans to assassinate judges, bomb synagogues and destroy mosques. [emphasis mine]


And the FBI says illegal activities of the extreme right have been eclipsed by the "special interest terrorism" of the animal rights and environmental movements.

Yeah, the wingers get a free pass. Forget about the facts.

Catholic Charities of Boston Less Than Charitable

Gay rights groups are up in arms over this, as well they should be.
Last week, Catholic Charities of Boston said that it was ending its century-old adoption-services program because Massachusetts law requires it to keep the program open to homosexuals. The announcement followed months of internal turmoil and was met with outrage and accusations of bigotry and hypocrisy from gay-rights groups.

Well you might think that is the end of that, but you would be wrong. It seems the governor is Republican and he has a Republican solution. Exempt the church so it can do what it wants.
Reacting to the Boston Archdiocese’s decision, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) promised Friday to seek an exemption from state law for religious organizations.

Hell's Angels And Disney

Did that get your attention? From The New Zealand Herald.
There is only one's Hells Angels.

So at any rate believes the legendary California-based motorcycle club, which is suing Walt Disney for using the group's logo and trademarked name in a film which has not even started production.

There's a joke in there somewhere. I just can't find it.

Feeliing Secure? Well Don't Redux II

It seems it's possible to order up a list of covert & non-covert CIA employees. You can also find out where the CIA has facilities.

CIA employees and the locations of two dozen of the agency's covert workplaces in the United States can be found easily through Internet searches, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper obtained the information from data providers who charge fees for access to public records and reported on its findings in Sunday editions. It did not publish the identities or other details on its searches, citing concern it could endanger the CIA employees.

Not all of the 2,653 people the newspaper said it could identify as CIA employees were supposed to be covert, an issue raised in the Justice Department investigation of whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.

Some in fact were non-covert analysts or senior executives, such as former CIA Director George Tenet. But the newspaper said it shared some of its findings with the CIA, and that the agency acknowledged the partial list of names included covert employees. [emphasis mine]

It gets even more interesting.
The investigation also uncovered internal office phone numbers of the agency and covert mailing addresses used by undercover operatives. [emphasis mine]

(Read More)

(Update) DO NOT Read more, at least not at that link. Larry Johnson points out it isn't quite what it seems. My apologies to my readers (both of you), but sometimes being quick with a story has consequences. Rather than trying to verify the accuracy of the story, I trusted the Chicago Tribune.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Surprise, surprise!

I never would have guessed this of one of Bush's people. How naive can I be?
Donald Rumsfeld has made a killing out of bird flu. The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.

I'm being facetious here, folks.

Love Them Windows

Ever wonder why people have a problem with Windoz? Well, it could be because guys like this are at the source. From Overheard at the Office.
Presenter: If you knew what I was thinking, what I just said would make perfect sense.

1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, Washington

1 Microsoft Way would be Microsoft headquarters.

Can't Write So Good?

A little personal rant because this is my blog and I can do whatever in hell I want here.

What has become of good writing? Why does every scandal have to be "fill in the blank gate"? We had Plamegate and now England has Jowellgate.

Why can't reporters and authors really use the language? I'm incapable and know it, but others are not.

I lay down the gauntlet. When the next scandal comes up (Claude Allen?), let's see some real writing.

Feeling Secure? Well Don't Redux

We have no problems allowing a foreign country to control our ports. Well, not so much.
Lapses by private port operators, shipping lines or truck drivers could allow terrorists to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States, according to a government review of security at U.S. ports.

The $75 million, three-year study by the Homeland Security Department and still in progress included inspections at a New Jersey cargo terminal involved in the dispute over a Dubai company's bid, since abandoned, to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports.

(Read Much More)

Dare We Hope?

An objective analysis of the Dems' chances of taking over the House.
Democratic pollster Mark Mellman writes that poll numbers show a major wave building for Democrats in the midterms.

He points out that Democrats lost 54 House seats in 1994 when President Bill Clinton’s approval rating was at 38 percent, Democrats lost 29 seats in 1950 when President Harry Truman’s rating was 39 percent, and GOPers lost 26 seats in 1982 when Ronald Reagan was at 42 percent.

He says that no president with an approval rating below 50 percent has lost fewer than the 15 seats Democrats need to retake the House.

Be still my heart.

Via The Kansas City Star

Kinky Is As Kinky Does

This guy is, to use a really old term, a hoot. Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas. What the hell, he can't be worse than others who were elected.
An independent candidate for Texas governor rode in a St. Patrick's Day parade car Saturday with his trademark black hat and burning cigar — plus a beer in his hand, an apparent violation of the state's open container law.

Kinky Friedman's spokeswoman acknowledged that he drank from a can of Guinness handed to him. Photographs taken by The Dallas Morning News showed Friedman, who wasn't driving, holding the beer and appearing to take a drink.

State law prohibits opened alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. The Class C misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $500.

Hey, he broke the law. Sounds like he's the perfect politician. So why isn't he running as a Republican? I think I know. He didn't deny he had done it.

(Read More)

I Need 3 States And More Countries

If you know anyone who lives in:


Please send them my URL. I have visitors from all states except those three.

Also, if you have friends in other countries, please do the same. My visitors are now 80% Americans and I love it when people from all around the world visit.

You do realise there are prizes to be won for this. You didn't? Silly you.

I'm reminded of an incident I had once. I was lighting a cigarette while waiting to cross a street and a homeless man asked for one. I obliged him and started crossing to the other side. He yelled at me, "Thanks man. When I have a million dollars I'll share it with you."

Then, after a perfect comedic pause he added, "Don't hold your breath."

Same goes for that prize I mentioned earlier.

Idiot To Idiot

Jesus. Iran has an idiot president as stupid as Bush.
Iran said on Sunday it was no longer considering a Russian compromise deal intended to defuse an international dispute over whether Tehran is seeking to build an atomic bomb.

Russia had proposed that it make nuclear fuel on Iran's behalf in order to ensure uranium was enriched only to the low level needed for power stations and not to the higher weapons-grade needed for warheads.

However, Iran was unwilling to surrender its right to enrich uranium on its own soil.

Why doesn't Ahmadinejad just email Bush and ask him to attack? It would make things much simpler.

Everything Ahmadinejad does plays right into the neocons' hands. Why does he want his people killed? It is pretty obvious the first strike will be bomb runs and many innocents will die. Is there no end to this insanity?

Feeling Secure? Well Don't

I try to always keep up with I, Cringely. You might want to also. This is his latest offering.
The IT Infrastructure of U.S. Homeland Security Might Never Come to Be

He opines Homeland Security is bust, but no one will notice.
After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the United States threw its considerable fortune into the War on Terror, of which a large component was Homeland Security. We conducted a couple wars abroad, both of which still seem to be going on, and took a vast domestic security bureaucracy and turned it into a different and even more vast domestic security bureaucracy. We could argue all day about whether or not America is more secure as a result of these changes, but we'd all agree that a lot of money has been spent. In fact, from a pragmatic point of view, ALL the money has been spent, and that's the point of this particular column. For a variety of reasons, there is no money left to spend on homeland security – none, nada, zilch. We're busted.

(Read More)

Frist First? Come On Now

Ok, if you want to vote for power this makes sense. By any other measure it is just plain stupid.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - With home-field advantage, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist placed first in an informal poll of 2008 presidential hopefuls at a Republican conference Saturday night.

The two-term Tennessee senator received 526 first-place votes, or 36.9 percent, in the Southern Republican Leadership Conference's "straw poll" sponsored by Hotline, a political digest. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished second with 14.4 percent and Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) of Virginia finished third, tied with President Bush — who cannot seek a third term.

Sorry, I forgot these are Republicans here. Silly me.

Seriously though, don't these people have any sense of nation? Why back a partisan lacky who cares nothing about what is best for US, but only what is best for Bush and the Repugs?