Thursday, September 30, 2004

Oh, If Only It Were Possible

What Kerry Should Say (Rude Version):
If, at tonight's "debate", when Kerry is asked, "What would you have done differently in Iraq?", he doesn't answer, "What the fuck kind of question is that, Jim? Jesus Christ, how many corpses of children need to be piled at the door of the White House to know that any reasonably well-trained terrier could do a better job managing this war than that motherfucker at the other podium? How many dead soldiers need to clog the pool at the 'ranch' in Crawford before anyone in this goddamned administration admits that things are more fucked-up than a thalidomide baby with warts? Here's what I would have fuckin' done different: Short answer - I wouldn't have fuckin' gone to Iraq, and if this squinty fuckface wants to accuse me of leaving Saddam Hussein in power, then he can fuckin' ask the mom of some kid blasted to shit by a roadside bomb if she gives a rat's ass whether or not Saddam's in power and Iraq is gonna have fake elections to prop up its fake ass government. Long answer? Yer askin' me a fantasy question, Jim, and if you wanna get into fantasy, here's my fuckin' fantasy - so get your wish-fulfillment bell ringin': I'd've gotten a large gay black man to get into William Rehnquist's shower back in late November 2000 and had him scare the Chief Justice into a coma with his raging black hard-on. I'd've fuckin' sent the SEC probin' Bush's asshole for evidence that he fucked over the shareholders of Harken. I'd've sent his fuckin' drunken, coked-out, duty-skippin' ass to Vietnam, where the men of his platoon would've used him for practice before raping the village girls in the Mekong. I'd've yanked down his pants at a Skull and Bones meeting and paddled his butt bright red with the wooden plank that had 'Bitch' carved in it so the word would be scarred on his ass forever. I'd've spiked pregnant Barbara Bush's drink with an abortifacient so she would eject the goo that would become George W in her womb. I'd've gotten George, Sr.'s nuts ripped off when he ejected from his fighter jet. I'd've made sure Prescott's dick was mustard gassed into disuse in the Meuse-Argonne. That's what I would have done differently in Iraq. Now, you little semi-conscious cuntface, get Karl Rove to shove a talking point up your ass about that or do you want me to make you suck my cock in front of a national audience?", then the debate will be worthless.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

It's Official

Our taxes would be safer with a crackhead.

Pentagon spent at least $362 billion on no-bid contracts since '98
Moreover, the Pentagon awarded $255 billion in controversial "cost-plus" contracts that allow companies to spend as much as they want on a job, tack on an agreed upon profit and pass the bill to taxpayers, concluded the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative nonprofit group in Washington.

The 10 biggest contractors, which earn 38 percent of all defense contracts, got more than half of all the no-bid and cost-plus contracts issued by the defense department.

And thanks to the war in Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm, Halliburton, managed to go from an also-ran 37th on the contract list in 2001 and 2002 to No. 7 in 2003, the Pentagon's own procurement statistics show. In 2003, Halliburton received more than $4.3 billion in defense contracts, according to the Center.

Taxpayers just aren't getting their money's worth, experts said.

"The system is not competitive enough," said Angela Styles, who from 2001 to 2003 was head of procurement for the Bush administration's Office of Management and Budget, and did not take part in the Center's report. "There are people who make a lot of money off this ... It does worry me when agencies hire the same contractors over and over, when they're not really competing."

The Center studied $900.8 billion in Defense Department spending, using the Pentagon's own procurement online database, from fiscal years 1998 to 2003 and looked at companies that received more than $100 million in government money.

It found:

-The top 10 defense contractors got $209 billion, for 58 percent of the $362 billion no-bid contracts. The same big contractors got $133 billion in cost-plus contracts, accounting for 52 percent of the Pentagon's cost plus awards.

-The 10 biggest defense contractors spent $414.6 million on lobbying the government and $35.7 million in campaign contributions.

-In the past 20 years the Pentagon has gone from spending two-thirds of its contracts on hardware to spending 56 percent for services, much like those that Halliburton provides in Iraq, such as food, laundry, gasoline and other logistical support.

-100 of the 737 top defense contractors were foreign entities.

-Defense records show the Pentagon doesn't know where billions of taxpayer dollars are going. Records inaccurately identified the firms getting more than $35 billion in spending.

-The Pentagon also doesn't know how many contract employees or contractors are working for it and ended up hiring a consultant to find the answer to that question.

"This is a Keystone Kops situation," said Center executive director Charles Lewis. "No one is watching these people."

That's not true, said Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood: "We have control of the situation as far as the big picture of everything. With (about 10 million contract items) a year, there's bound to be some that fall through the cracks."

Turning over more jobs that aren't directly related to fighting wars to private contractors is the Pentagon's goal, Flood said. But he said: "There is oversight."

The number of federal workers overseeing Defense contracts was cut about in half in the 1990s, while spending has soared in the past few years, Lewis said.

The problem, said Steve Schooner, co-director of the government procurement law program at George Washington University, is "that the lack of oversight is exacerbated by the increased pace of spending and the nature of what we're buying."

Defense contractors - through political action committees, so-called "soft money" and contributions by individual employees - were big contributors to political candidates and parties, with two-thirds of the money going to Republicans.

President Bush is the No. 1 campaign recipient since 1998, getting about $5.4 million. Sen. John Kerry, was way down on the contribution list but moved to No. 2 after he became the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, with $1.6 million in contributions between January and July. He now has just under $2 million from big defense contractors.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Not a Man, But He Plays One On T.V.



From Pete Kotz:
If Bush understood the rules, there would be no swagger. The toughest fight of his life probably came in the third grade, when a tall girl kicked his ass and the Secret Service came to the rescue. The guy never earned his bones.

If Bush was a real man, he'd keep his sights on the real enemy, Osama, not pick an easier, more convenient fight with Saddam. It's like the guy who's called out by a big man in a bar, but decides to beat up a midget in the parking lot instead.

It was no sin to seek revenge on Saddam, who tried to kill his father. Real men understand the beauty, the necessity, of vengeance. But Bush had his chance before the war, when Saddam challenged him to a duel. A real man would have relished the opportunity, demanding to fight with knives, so he could kill Saddam up close, with his own hand. Yet Bush was a coward, choosing instead to burn 1,000 American lives and billions of American dollars, then play the cheerleader from thousands of miles away, lauding the heroics of men and women who were brave enough to do what he would not. A real man would never say "bring 'em on" from the safety of the sidelines.

If Bush was a real man, he would kick his swift-boat lapdogs in the head. It was no sin to stay clear of Vietnam; it wasn't our fight. But a real man never calls out the courage of those who went, and he sure as hell doesn't let his lapdogs do it. He does it himself, face to face.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't side with pharmaceutical companies against grandmas who can't afford medicine. There's only one choice in this fight: You go with Grandma. A real man would rather stick his face in an arc welder than abet the suffering of old people.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't run up deficits like a trophy wife. He'd respect and fear debt for the curse it is. He'd understand that he must pay his own way, leave a little extra for his children. Only a trust-fund kid believes he can spend without borders, knowing that someone else will pay.

If Bush was a real man, he wouldn't talk about the economy rising. He'd understand that a man's highest calling is a real job, with real pay, so he can put food on the table of his children, a roof over the head of his wife. He'd know that everything else is bullshit.

If Bush was a real man, he'd never pick a fight with gays. He'd understand the embarrassment in beating down those without power. It's like punching out a guy in a wheelchair, then pretending you're Shaka Zulu.

If Bush was a real man, he'd know there's no honor in being a country club tough guy, one who believes the work of men is to rattle their lips, then play another round of golf. He'd also know there's no righteousness in following the badass CEO model, guys who lays off hundreds to Wall Street cheers for making the tough call, but never do any of this face-to-face, and never put themselves on the line.

Because if Bush was a real man, he'd know this code transcends left and right, rich and poor. It's been around forever, and has nothing to do with the squawking parrots in the Capitol or on cable. It's about standing up. Doing what's right. Honor.

And if Bush was a real man, he'd know that even an Ivy League cheerleader can achieve it. All you gotta do is try.

But if Bush was a real man, he'd man up right quick. Because he'd know he's embarrassing us right now.

I Love the 80s

An Iran-Contra conspirator joins the Swift Boat crowd. It was bound to happen

Voter Suppression. It's Bigger Than You Think




Forget about felon lists. Forget about intimidating blacks. Forget about voter registrations rejected because of paper weight. The Bush Administration is working on a much more universal form of vote suppression.

Fear.

You think all this talk about possible terrorist attacks on or before the election is being brought up simply to warn us? Forget it. If people are scared to leave their house, they won't vote. If voters in major cities are told that they could be next, they won't go to the polls. And who do major cities usually vote for? Democrats. It sounds crazy. I feel crazy saying it. But given all that I have seen over the last four years, I don't doubt for a second that Rove and Cheney are capable of it. They absolutely do not respect our democratic process. Hell, they admitted that they think of us as unruly ten year olds. Simpletons who just don't understand what they're doing for this great country.

So beware. The warnings will increase. The media will run with them. It'll be all terror all the time. Don't believe it. Get your asses to the polls.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Freedom: On The March

Remember Afghanistan?

Human-rights organizations criticized the Bush administration Wednesday, saying in the three years since the Taliban was ousted from most of Afghanistan, the U.S. has not fulfilled promises of safety, freedom, education and health care for Afghan women.

"They have failed, misguided and betrayed Afghan women by giving them false hope," said T. Kumar, an Amnesty International advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, at a news conference addressing Afghan women's issues. "Three years later, they are still dreaming, and it may be a pipe dream."

CBS Officially Karl Rove's Bitch



Rather (no pun intended) than actually informing the American public before the election, CBS has decided not to run an Ed Bradley report on the rational behind the war in Iraq. Their reason? It would be "inappropriate".

Oh sure. It's not like the war has killed over 1,000 of our kids or anything. And it's not like it's seriously wounded another 7,000. And it's certainly not like Iraq has turned into Terrorists-R-Us. Or that U.S. Corporations like Haliburton have made a literal killing on the "reconstruction." And it's absolutely positively not like this administration flat out lied to the American people about WMDs and Saddam's threat to us.

I sure hope CBS bought stock in Astroglide, because Karl Rove's gonna be riding them all the way until November 2nd. And they've got no one to blame but themselves.

Friday, September 24, 2004

A Must Read

The single most revealing and troubling expose of the neocons agenda in Iraq.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

i-toons




Fear Itself



In their attempt to get the word "terror" into every possible news story between now and the election, Ashcroft today urged vigilance in the weeks leading up to the election.

Ashcroft and Deputy Attorney General James Comey took the unusual step of holding a conference call with all 93 U.S. Attorneys last week for a "pep talk" to urge them not to let down their guard in light of a potential terror threat, a senior Justice Department official said on Thursday.

The official, who took part in the call, said Ashcroft and Comey reiterated concerns that top U.S. officials have been voicing since the spring -- that al Qaeda may try to attack the United States in the run up to the November election.

"We need to make sure everybody understands that this is not a New York or a (Washington) D.C. thing, this is an everywhere thing," he said.

Is Alan Greenspan on The Crack?



U.S. Economic Gauge Signals Weakness

A key gauge of future economic activity weakened for a third straight month in August as costlier oil spread worry among consumers and businesses, a report from a business research group showed on Thursday .
Its steady decline contrasts with a view expressed on Tuesday by Federal Reserve policymakers, who voted to raise U.S. interest rates for a third time in three months, that economic output has "regained some traction" since summer.

"We doubt this signals an imminent further sharp downturn in growth but the data make uncomfortable viewing and are not consistent with the Fed's view that the economy is regaining traction," said economist Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics Ltd. in Valhalla, N.Y.

How Can I Be Broke? I Still Have Checks Left.



Study: Bush Budget Adds $1.3T to Deficits

Responding to an election-season request by Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Thursday that some of President Bush's budget policies plus other costs would add $1.3 trillion to federal deficits over the next decade.
. . . .
The budget office expects deficits to total $2.3 trillion in the decade ending in 2014 if current tax and spending laws continue unchanged. The office has projected that the shortfall will hit a record $422 billion this year alone, with the government's budget year running through Sept. 30.

The red ink would total almost $3.6 trillion over 10 years under the assumptions that Spratt asked them to calculate, the budget office said.

Those assumptions included:

_Bush's plan to extend expiring tax cuts and his other tax-cut proposals;

_The costs of keeping the alternative minimum tax, designed to ensure that the wealthy owe some taxes, from affecting growing numbers of middle-income earners. Bush's budget ignored those expenses;

_Bush's proposed spending restraints on most domestic programs;

_A gradual reduction of U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's budget proposed nothing for those activities.

Under that scenario, projected annual shortfalls during the decade would drop no lower than $312 billion in 2006, rising gradually to $439 billion in 2014, the budget office calculated.

Oops, They Killed You Again

This study exposes the real reason that the health care industry and their bitches in the Republican party are chomping at the bit for medical liability caps.

Report: Half of patients get bad care

Wild variations in medical care led to 79,000 avoidable deaths and $1.8 billion in additional medical costs last year, the private National Committee for Quality Assurance said in its annual report released Wednesday.

The report described a substantial gap in quality between the best providers and the national average for treating a range of common conditions that would not be tolerated in almost any other sector of the U.S. economy. For example, failure to control high blood pressure resulted in up to 26,000 deaths last year that could have been avoided with competent medical care, the report said.

The differences in health care quality persist even as health insurance premiums have risen by more than 10 percent annually for the past four years. "This report underscores that all too often we are not getting good value for that money," said Peter V. Lee, president and chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health, a coalition of businesses that provide health insurance to 3 million people.

The Stakes Couldn't Be Higher

House bill would block Supreme Court on Pledge
If you don't think they'll be coming after the rest of our rights if this is successful, you're living in a fantasy world.

I Haven't Laughed This Hard In Weeks

From Counterspin Central:

Thursday, September 23, 2004:

DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ WATCH: I guess Iyad Allawi was right, after all!
"Overthrown Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who was arrested by US forces last December, reportedly plans to run as a candidate in the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 2005.

Saddam's lawyer Giovanni di Stefano told Denmark's B.T. newspaper that Saddam decided during one of their discussions that he would declare his candidacy for the elections.

Stefano said that there was no law that prevented Saddam from appearing on the ballot. He added that Saddam hopes to regain his presidency and palaces via the democratic process."
BWAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Can you imagine the egg of Dubyah's face if Saddam actually got more votes than his handpicked puppet, Iyad Allawi?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Daily Show



Just watched Gov. Marc Racicot on The Daily Show. I have to say I was underwhelmed by Jon Stewart's interview. As sharp and hard-hitting as the first two thirds of the show usually is, I find Jon usually goes relatively easy on the guests - no matter how ridiculous they sound (the exception being his interview with Wolf Blitzer). Racicot insisted that they were running a positive campaign. Bullshit. And he promised three times that there was no October surprise in the works. Again, Bullshit. I know Jon just plays a journalist on t.v., but he's such a smart, sharp guy, I find myself wishing he didn't want to get along with his guests so much.

Michael Moore Strikes Again

I don't usually like to post in totem but this is TRUTH.

Mr. Bush and His 10 Ever-Changing Different Positions on Iraq: "A flip and a flop and now just a flop."

9/22/04

Dear Mr. Bush,

I am so confused. Where exactly do you stand on the issue of Iraq? You, your Dad, Rummy, Condi, Colin, and Wolfie -- you have all changed your minds so many times, I am out of breath just trying to keep up with you!
Which of these 10 positions that you, your family and your cabinet have taken over the years represents your CURRENT thinking:

1983-88: WE LOVE SADDAM. On December 19, 1983, Donald Rumsfeld was sent by your dad and Mr. Reagan to go and have a friendly meeting with Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq. Rummy looked so happy in the picture. Just twelve days after this visit, Saddam gassed thousands of Iranian troops. Your dad and Rummy seemed pretty happy with the results because ‘The Donald R.’ went back to have another chummy hang-out with Saddam’s right-hand man, Tariq Aziz, just four months later. All of this resulted in the U.S. providing credits and loans to Iraq that enabled Saddam to buy billions of dollars worth of weapons and chemical agents. The Washington Post reported that your dad and Reagan let it be known to their Arab allies that the Reagan/Bush administration wanted Iraq to win its war with Iran and anyone who helped Saddam accomplish this was a friend of ours.

1990: WE HATE SADDAM. In 1990, when Saddam invaded Kuwait, your dad and his defense secretary, Dick Cheney, decided they didn't like Saddam anymore so they attacked Iraq and returned Kuwait to its rightful dictators.

1991: WE WANT SADDAM TO LIVE. After the war, your dad and Cheney and Colin Powell told the Shiites to rise up against Saddam and we would support them. So they rose up. But then we changed our minds. When the Shiites rose up against Saddam, the Bush inner circle changed its mind and decided NOT to help the Shiites. Thus, they were massacred by Saddam.

1998: WE WANT SADDAM TO DIE. In 1998, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and others, as part of the Project for the New American Century, wrote an open letter to President Clinton insisting he invade and topple Saddam Hussein.

2000: WE DON'T BELIEVE IN WAR AND NATION BUILDING. Just three years later, during your debate with Al Gore in the 2000 election, when asked by the moderator Jim Lehrer where you stood when it came to using force for regime change, you turned out to be a downright pacifist:

“I--I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president [Al Gore] and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I--I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place. And so I take my--I take my--my responsibility seriously.” --October 3, 2000

2001 (early): WE DON'T BELIEVE SADDAM IS A THREAT. When you took office in 2001, you sent your Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and your National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in front of the cameras to assure the American people they need not worry about Saddam Hussein. Here is what they said:

Powell: “We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they have directed that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was 10 years ago when we began it. And frankly, they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” --February 24, 2001

Rice: “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” --July 29, 2001

2001 (late): WE BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US! Just a few months later, in the hours and days after the 9/11 tragedy, you had no interest in going after Osama bin Laden. You wanted only to bomb Iraq and kill Saddam and you then told all of America we were under imminent threat because weapons of mass destruction were coming our way. You led the American people to believe that Saddam had something to do with Osama and 9/11. Without the UN's sanction, you broke international law and invaded Iraq.

2003: WE DON’T BELIEVE SADDAM IS GOING TO KILL US. After no WMDs were found, you changed your mind about why you said we needed to invade, coming up with a brand new after-the-fact reason -- we started this war so we could have regime change, liberate Iraq and give the Iraqis democracy!

2003: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!” Yes, everyone saw you say it -- in costume, no less!

2004: OOPS. MISSION NOT ACCOMPLISHED! Now you call the Iraq invasion a "catastrophic success." That's what you called it this month. Over a thousand U.S. soldiers have died, Iraq is in a state of total chaos where no one is safe, and you have no clue how to get us out of there.

Mr. Bush, please tell us -- when will you change your mind again?

I know you hate the words "flip" and "flop," so I won't use them both on you. In fact, I'll use just one: Flop. That is what you are. A huge, colossal flop. The war is a flop, your advisors and the "intelligence" they gave you is a flop, and now we are all a flop to the rest of the world. Flop. Flop. Flop.

And you have the audacity to criticize John Kerry with what you call the "many positions" he has taken on Iraq. By my count, he has taken only one: He believed you. That was his position. You told him and the rest of congress that Saddam had WMDs. So he -- and the vast majority of Americans, even those who didn't vote for you -- believed you. You see, Americans, like John Kerry, want to live in a country where they can believe their president.

That was the one, single position John Kerry took. He didn't support the war, he supported YOU. And YOU let him and this great country down. And that is why tens of millions can't wait to get to the polls on Election Day -- to remove a major, catastrophic flop from our dear, beloved White House -- to stop all the flipping you and your men have done, flipping us and the rest of the world off.

We can't take another minute of it.

Yours,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com

Get Ready For Their Worst

I have known for weeks that once the polls got close again the Rethuglicans would go for broke. Well it's starting. And Kerry better get ready for this:

RedState scoop: The SwiftVets come out swinging
By: krempasky · Section: Election 2004

The SwiftVets - remember them? Well, I wrote yesterday that they're coming out with a new ad - focusing on John Kerry meeting with the North Vietnamese (read: the Enemy) while still a naval officer.

Well, I said it was going to be a big ad buy - and it is. We're talking about a pile of advertising. Since their largest previous purchase, according to news reports was $800K during the Republican convention - and this is apparently bigger - this is a whole lot of pain for Mr. Kerry.

Now - onto the commercial. It's brutal. Up till now, the ads have focused on Kerry's honesty about he did in Vietnam - honesty about what he did with his medals. Is he flip flopping or just exaggerating things?

Well, that's enough of that - the new ad clearly focuses on something no one disputes (even Kerry himself, as far as I can tell) - that Kerry met with the enemy while that enemy was engaged killing Americans.

To sweeten the pot, my understanding is that a familar villaness will make an appearance in the ad with the tagline, "She later apologized. He refused." That's right, a Jane Fonda cameo!

Toss all the medals, all the swift Boat controversy - that all pales in comparison to this. Remember - this ad paints John Kerry to the LEFT of Jane Fonda on issues of war and peace.

Keep an eye out for the commerical - tonight or maybe tomorrow.
It's gonna be a streetfight.

Rude Pundit Rules

The Teeny-Tiny President Visits the Great Big Hall:

Our teeny-tiny President visited the great big hall at the United Nations yesterday. The teeny-tiny President tried to make himself feel bigger with a great big motorcade and great big security measures that forced the gigantic huge city to come to a halt. But, in the end, when he entered the great big auditorium of the General Assembly, where leaders of nations teeny-tiny and great big, he was, as always, a teeny-tiny president.

Oh, how the teeny-tiny President, in his teeny-tiny body, flailed about and tried to convince the others there that his teeny-tiny way was the best. When the teeny-tiny President declared, "Since the last meeting of this General Assembly, the people of Iraq have regained sovereignty," somewhere in the hall the delegation from Liechtenstein chortled at the teeny-tiny President for saying such cute lies with his teeny-tiny tinny tinhorn voice.

When the teeny-tiny President waved his teeny-tiny finger and said, "Through the Millennium Challenge Account, my nation is increasing our aid to developing nations that expand economic freedom and invest in the education and health of their own people," somewhere in that great big hall, the representative from Nauru shook his head at the idea that the United States gets to judge the morality of other nations in giving aid.

When the teeny-tiny President felt his teeny-tiny-weeny cock grow to just teeny-tiny as he stated, "AIDS is the greatest health crisis of our time, and our unprecedented commitment will bring new hope to those who have walked too long in the shadow of death," the delegate from Guinea-Bissau sadly, slowly nodded in recognition of the promises made, broken, made, broken, a great big cycle from the teeny-tiny President speaking on the great big dais.

The teeny-tiny President spoke of great big ideals - human rights, democracy, social progress. But teeny-tiny words coming from a teeny-tiny mind yield only teeny-tiny reactions. The only reason anyone listened in that great big hall is that the teeny-tiny President is the leader of a great big country filled with teeny-tiny people who think that the teeny-tiny President is much, much more than a teeny-tiny man who got smaller and smaller with every word he spoke in the great big hall.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I Hope Bush Can Swim


Antarctic Glaciers Melting Faster -Study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Glaciers once held up by a floating ice shelf off Antarctica are now sliding off into the sea -- and they are going fast, scientists said on Tuesday.

Two separate studies from climate researchers and the space agency NASA show the glaciers are flowing into Antarctica's Weddell Sea, freed by the 2002 breakup of the Larsen B ice shelf.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers said their satellite measurements suggest climate warming can lead to rapid sea level rise.
. . . .
"If anyone was waiting to find out whether Antarctica would respond quickly to climate warming, I think the answer is yes," said Theodore Scambos, a University of Colorado glacier expert who worked on one study.

"We've seen 150 miles of coastline change drastically in just 15 years."

Bush tells U.N. 'all must fight the murderers'

Unfortunately, that's most of the Arab world considers us at this point.

Monday, September 20, 2004

That’s All He’s Got?

So I go to CNN.com and see two posts side by side. The first (on the left) says something like Kerry slams Bush on Iraq. The second (on the right) says something like Bush Fights Back. So I click on the first one and it's all about Kerry's speech at NYU. - an incredibly detailed and powerful diatribe on everything that's gone wrong in Iraq and the many ways Bush is responsible. Then I click on the second story and all it says is Bush warns that the nation needs "consistency" in its leadership. And that's it. Yeah there's something else about Kerry's inconsistency, but even that seemed half-hearted. The rest of the article was literally all about Kerry's speech and the republicans who came out against Bush's handling of the war over the weekend.

Is this seriously all they've got to defend the war? Because I gotta tell you, this is literally the easiest claim in the world to dispute; and it can be done in terms that all red-blooded, red state males can understand. Football. Let's use the Green Bay Packers for our example. (I know, I know a current sore spot for Kerry.) Brett Favre is our quarterback. A future hall of famer. One of the great quarterbacks in NFL history. Let's say the Packers are in the Superbowl. Favre comes out throwing and he's terrible. Just awful. Two interceptions in the first quarter. Three in the second. Suddenly, we're going into half-time and the Packers are losing 31-0. Do they change quarterbacks for the second half? Well, you say, it's a tough call. Favre is a future hall of famer. The Packers live and die with him. If he suddenly comes alive in the second half he could get it all back and then some.

But wait.

Is George Bush Brett Favre? I mean does anyone in this country look at W and think future hall of famer? Possibly best president ever? Not even close. A recent survey of historians overwhelming called him a failure. One went so far as to call him the most irresponsible, unethical, inexcusable occupant of our formerly highest office in the land that there has ever been." Still don't believe me? Look at the polls. The number of people who think Bush is doing a great job can be counted on my penis. Bottom line, Bush is third string at best.

Now go back to my little football analogy. Plug a third string quarterback into the equation. The Superbowl. Down by 31. 5 interceptions. Is that quarterback taking the snaps when the 3rd quarter starts? Are you crazy? He's in the locker room, floating face down in the whirlpool.

Kids are dead here. Our kids. Their kids. Thousands and thousands of them. And every day, more and more are dying still. Sons who won't be coming home. Fathers whose kids will never know them. Brothers and uncles and cousins. All for what? A little man who thinks God is talking to him. Well I've got news for you Mr. President. Those voices in your head? They ain't God. They're the other guy.

Holy Crap, Part II

The Defense Department has established a new military headquarters whose mission is to defend the U.S. capital and to assist civil authorities in responding to a terrorist attack here.

Are we being invaded and no one told us? Are there going to be tanks in the streets of Washington D.C.? Has Al Qaedi managed to smuggle a hundred thousand troops in through Canada? Is it all to keep Michael Moore outside the bounds of the restraining order. Or maybe to keep Bush from being evicted come January.

Tune in and find out.

Secret White House Tapes, Part I



Through a source whose name must remain anonymous for obvious reasons, I have recently received secret tape recordings made in the Oval Office over the course of the last few days. A partial transcript follows.

September 18, 2004
9:14 a.m.

SECRETARY
Mr. President, sir. Mr. Rove and Vice President Cheney are here to see you.
BUSH
Awesome. Send ‘em in.
CHENEY
Good morning, Mr. President.
BUSH
Fatty Heart Guy! Hey, help me out here. How many Ts in Cat?
CHENEY
Excuse me?
BUSH
Cat, you know. Whiskers. Floppy ears. See I’m doing this crossword in my bible magazine. It wants to know what you call an animal that’s got that radar stuff. Flies around at night.

Pause

ROVE
Mr. President, cats can’t fly.
BUSH
You’re kidding me.
ROVE
No, sir.

Long pause.

BUSH
You sure you’re not pulling my leg?
ROVE
Yes, sir.
CHENEY
He’s right, sir.
BUSH
Damn, that sure would explain why Mr. Muffins didn’t wanna go out that window.
ROVE
Mr. President—
BUSH
Hell, I always wondered why he never came back. I just figured he flew south for the winter--
CHENEY
Yes, sir. Look, Mr. President. We’ve just agreed to three debates. I feel it’s important that we start preparing early. With things being so…challenging with the economy and war and all--
BUSH
Are you flat out positive? Cause I could swear he started flapping those little legs on the way down—
ROVE
Mr. President, please. If we could shift focus from your puzzle to the debates--
BUSH
Oh, don’t get your panties in a twist, Creepy Cadaver Guy, I’m just tryin’ to better myself. Like I did in the Air Force.
ROVE
Mr. President. We’ve talked about this. You weren’t actually in the Air Force.
BUSH
You know I remember this one flight. I was flat-out hammered on some tasty Peruvian stuff I stole outta this guy’s footlocker. I hit Mach 20 in that baby - sucked a whole flock of cats into my engine. You ever try to clean cat out of a turbine engine, Fatty? It ain’t pretty.
CHENEY
Sir, please. The debates really are coming up soon. Karl and I feel very strongly that you have to go on the attack. Senator Kerry’s going to be coming after you about Iraq spiraling out of control, the negative job creation numbers, exploding heath care and Medicare costs—
BUSH
What was that middle one again?
CHENEY
Negative job creation?
BUSH
That’s the one. Sounds like a lotta bullshit to me.
ROVE
I agree, sir. But the reality is there are actually one million fewer jobs now then when you took office.
BUSH
You know anyone doesn’t got a job, Creepy?
ROVE
What?
BUSH
I mean personally. An unemployed guy.
ROVE
Well, no sir.
BUSH
How ‘bout you, Heart Guy?
CHENEY
No, sir. But I don’t see what this has to do with—
BUSH
See I was thinkin’ about this last night while I was clearing brush in the residence. I mean I got a job. You got a job. Hell, everyone we know’s got a job. What if this whole unemployment thing is just one of them big conspiracy things? Like Tupac being dead.
CHENEY
Sir, I really don’t think--
BUSH
I’m not sayin’ it’s a damn fact. I’m just sayin’ you should look into it. Is that too much to ask, me being the President and all?
ROVE
Of course not, sir. If we could please just focus on--
SECRETARY
Mr. President, I have your wife on the line.
BUSH
Awesome. Look guys, I gotta take this. Get back to me on that conspiracy thing.
ROVE
Yes, sir. We’ll just leave you these talking points. If you could look them over before the debate prep this afternoon.
BUSH
Sure thing. Just drop ‘em on my desk.

Pause.

ROVE
You’re not going to read them, are you, sir?
BUSH
(laughing)
Hell, no. But I sure had you goin’ there for a second, didn’t I?
ROVE
(sigh)
Yes, sir.

They leave.

BUSH
Laura? Honey? I think we should get us a kitty cat…You’re damn right they’re cute. And those suckers can fly.
End of Transcript.

Spreading Democracy To Everyone But Us

In a decision that could affect Americans abroad who are not yet registered to vote in the Nov. 2 presidential election, the Pentagon has begun restricting international access to the official Web site intended to help overseas absentee voters cast ballots.
And the money quote:
"There are certainly elements outside our country who would want to disrupt our voting procedure, and interfering with a voter registration site would certainly affect that," Kuo said.

"It would disenfranchise all those people who would want to vote using this process," he said.
For those with strong stomachs and the appropriate sense of irony please see this.

Can You Say Civil War?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Latest Bradblog Classic



Another in Brad's series of truth-telling videos. Click HERE to watch.

Came You Blame Them?

"I think before we deploy we should be allowed to go home and see our families for five days, because some of us might not come back," said Spec. Wendell McLeod, 40, a steelworker from Cheraw, S.C. "Morale is pretty low. . . . It's leading to fights and stuff. That's really all I got to say."
As noted at First Draft's excellent site (from a Washington Post article - subscription needed):
The 635 soldiers of a battalion of the South Carolina National Guard scheduled to depart Sunday for a year or more in Iraq have spent their off-duty hours under a disciplinary lockdown in their barracks for the past two weeks.

The trouble began Labor Day weekend, when 13 members of the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment went AWOL, mainly to see their families again before shipping out. Then there was an ugly confrontation between members of the battalion's Alpha and Charlie batteries -- the term artillery units use instead of "companies" -- that threatened to turn into a brawl involving three dozen soldiers, and required the base police to intervene.

- - - -
Gamble, who at age 51 is a 33-year veteran of the Guard, said he is not worried about putting an already stressed unit into the cauldron of Iraq duty. "I haven't ever been deployed before, myself," he said. But, he concluded, "I feel like this unit will handle this well. Once we get in-country and get into missions, I think the stress will level off."
With all due respect, is he crazy?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Talkin' Loud, Ain't Sayin' Nothin'



The Bush Administration's singular defense to widespread concerns about the state of the Iraq war seems to be name calling. What's fascinating in today's White House Briefing (other than how many times McLellan manages to use pessimist and naysayer in a sentence) is the impressive ratio of words to information contained therein, i.e., a lot to absolutely none. Do you think he walks out of every press briefing thinking "I'm going to Hell for sure"?
Q Scott, does the President believe that the National Intelligence Committee assessment of the situation in Iraq that he received in July was an accurate assessment?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's talk about what the role of the CIA is. The role of the CIA is to look at different scenarios. That's what intelligence reports are about. The role of the policy makers is to determine how to address challenges so that we accomplish our mission. So that's -- the National Intelligence Estimate looks at different scenarios for Iraq's future when it comes to their political future and economic future over the course of a year-and-a-half, I believe, in this case.

Q Three fairly dim scenarios, ranging from civil war to delaying -- the most optimistic said that we probably --

MR. McCLELLAN: It talks about the great challenges to Iraq's peaceful and democratic future. And the President has talked about how transition -- the transition to a democracy is hard work. But it is for an important cause. The NIA really states the obvious in what the President has said many times. But it makes clear that it's important to stand with the Iraqi people as they face these challenges. The stakes are very high in Iraq. There is progress being made on the five-point plan that the President outlined for success. There are certain areas where there are ongoing difficulties and security threats. The Prime Minister of Iraq has made it clear that he is determined to address those situations. They have addressed the situations in Najaf and Kufa, and have made a lot of progress in Samarra, as well.

But the pessimists and the nay-sayers have said that Iraq wouldn't -- the Iraqi people wouldn't be able to agree to a transitional administrative law that established the rule of law and protected people's individual rights. The Iraqi people --

Q The TAL no longer exists.

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, Joe. I'm talking. The Iraqi people proved them wrong. The Iraqi -- the pessimist nay sayers said that they -- that we would not be able to transfer sovereignty by June 30th. The Iraqi people proved them wrong. And we did it early. The pessimists and nay sayers said that Iraq wouldn't be able to establish an interim representative council at their national conference. And the Iraqi people proved them wrong. And they said -- the pessimists and nay-sayers said that the Iraqi leaders wouldn't be legitimate. Well, they are being proved wrong again. Prime Minister Allawi is going to be standing before the United Nations next week as the representative of the interim government in Iraq.

Q It sure sounds like the President doesn't think much of that report, then.

MR. McCLELLAN: No -- no, actually, I told you, that's what it -- it states the obvious, and it talks about the challenges and the different scenarios that we face. That's what intelligence reports are supposed to do. That's the role of the CIA, to look at those issues. The role of the decision-makers is to make sure that we work to address those challenges so that we accomplish our mission because the mission in Iraq is critical for the world and for the American people.

Q But isn't it disingenuous for the --

Q Scott --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think there are any plans about -- I don't think there are any plans to do so.

Q And in the other part -- quick question. Does the President believe that the TAL is the rule of -- rule of the land in --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's what the Iraqi people agreed to, that established the rule of law. It is in place.

Q It is right now?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's what they agreed to. Yes, it is in place.

Q But for the President to accuse the press and others for being pessimistic, which he does commonly in his speeches -- referring to The New York Times article from '45, et cetera -- isn't that disingenuous when there's reports from NIA which paint these sort of scenarios?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people have proven the pessimists wrong every step of the way. I just pointed to the examples, and I pointed to -- most of the country in Iraq has made significant progress. There are areas where difficulties remain and there are ongoing -- there are ongoing security threats. There are dangers that remain. We made it very clear, and the President has spoken about how it is hard to transition to democracy, particularly in a region that has been very volatile and very dangerous. But the Iraqi people are determined to build a free and peaceful future. And they're -- they have shown their commitment to realizing a brighter future. We're there to partner with them and help them as they transition to democracy.

Our own democracy took some time to build. It's never easy transitioning to democracy, but particularly in a dangerous region of the world like Iraq.

Q So the President doesn't agree with the outlook?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those are different scenarios. They're different -- they're different scenarios and that's why it's important -- and that's why --

Q -- those scenarios are possible or likely?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Iraqi people are proving that those -- those scenarios are wrong by the progress that they are making to build a better future and the coalition is there helping them as they do so.

It's Official

Iraqi police. Worst job in the world.



Clueless

A senior CIA officer says bad decisions, understaffing and infighting among intelligence agencies stifled efforts to stop Osama bin Laden and his network. More than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency remains short-staffed, he says.
In a time where the American public would pretty much be willing to spend anything and everything on their safety, I just don't understand what the hell the Bush Administration is doing. In public it's all terror all the time, with Tom Ridge trotting out to scare the hell out of us on an almost weekly basis. Yet inside, where the actual investigative and preventative work is supposed to be taking place, they don't seem to be doing shit.
"There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September," Scheuer writes, referring to the CIA's most famous division, its clandestine service. "Today, the unit is greatly understaffed because of a 'hiring freeze' and the rotation of large numbers of officers in and out of the unit every 60 to 90 days."

He says experienced officers do less work and become trainers for officers who leave before they are qualified for the mission. Senior CIA managers running operations against al-Qaeda have made pleas for more officers, Scheuer says.
Could it truly all be a front to raid the treasury for themselves and their cronies? Some days it sure as hell feels that way.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Holy Crap



And the media buys it hook, line and sinker.
 ...for the most part, spending time on the trail with Bush is like being transported to a parallel universe. The only music is Christian rock and country tunes about plain-talking everymen. The only people who ask the president questions are his most feverish supporters, never the press. In this alternate universe, Iraq and Afghanistan are marching effortlessly toward democracy. The economy is, in the words of former Broncos quarterback John Elway, who introduces Bush in Greenwood Village, "the best in the world." John Kerry, whose platform is to the right of Clinton's in 1992, is calling for a massive expansion of government. Meanwhile, Bush's two most radical ideas, the ones that House Republicans privately insist will top the agenda in Washington next year if Bush wins--a shift toward privatizing Social Security that will cost at least a trillion dollars and a move toward a flat tax--are mentioned only in passing, buried in a laundry list of minor proposals. 

And it is all working brilliantly. The key to Bush's success is that, on the stump, he is a master at turning his simple speaking style into a political virtue. Indeed, if you listen to him carefully, much of Bush's case for a second term rests on the idea that he speaks more clearly than John Kerry. "Now, when the American president says something, he better mean it," Bush says at almost every stop. "When the American president says something, he's got to speak in a way that's easy for people to understand and mean what he says." Bush is obsessed with his plainspoken image. If he accidentally uses what he regards as a complicated word, he catches himself and defines it for his audience. "You ask docs what it's like to practice in a litigious society," he tells the crowd in Muskegon. "That means there's a lot of lawsuits. I'm not even a lawyer, and I know the word 'litigious.'" Later, speaking about a health care proposal, he says, "It's commonsensical. In other words, it makes sense to do it this way." 

He delights in reciting long, complicated quotes from John Kerry that allegedly reveal the senator's shifting stances. The crowd-pleasing climax of the Bush stump speech is his mocking of Kerry's now-famous line, "I actually did vote for the eighty-seven billion dollars before I voted against it." This is invariably followed by a head-shaking line about Kerry being out of touch with the locals. ("Now, I know Holland, Michigan, well enough to know not many people talk like that around here." "Now, I've spent some time in Colorado. The people out here don't talk like that.") Bush has been so successful at linking Kerry's convoluted speaking style to charges of flip-floppery that even the most innocuous Kerry statements are now ripped out of context and used to assault Kerry's character. Speaking about an important local issue at one stop, Bush says derisively, "Earlier this year, my opponent said a decision about Great Lakes water diversion would be 'a delicate balancing act.'" Bush pauses and gives the crowd a can-you-believe-it look. "That kind of sounds like him, doesn't it? My position is clear: My administration will never allow the diversion of Great Lakes water." Never mind that Bush and Kerry have the exact same position on the issue--neither favor redirecting water to needy states. 

Isn't It Ironic?

The Latest From Iraq. And It Ain't Pretty

A post from Christopher Allbritton's outstanding site Back To Iraq. For those of you who don't know him, he's a former AP reporter who is "the Web's first fully reader-funded journalist-blogger". He's been reporting from Iraq since March, 2003.

I don’t know if I can really put into words just how bad it is here some days. Yesterday was horrible — just horrible. While most reports show Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra as “no-go” areas, practically the entire Western part of the country is controlled by insurgents, with pockets of U.S. power formed by the garrisons outside the towns. Insurgents move freely throughout the country and the violence continues to grow.

I wish I could point to a solution, but I don’t see one. People continue to email me, telling me to report the “truth” of all the good things that are going on in Iraq. I’m not seeing a one. A buddy of mine is stationed here and they’re fixing up a park on a major street. Gen. Chiarelli was very proud of this accomplishment, and he stressed this to me when I interviewed him for the TIME story. But Baghdadis couldn’t care less. They don’t want city beautification projects; they want electricity, clean water and, most of all, an end to the violence.

And in the midst of all this violence, most of the Iraqi Interim Government is out of town. Security Advisors, heads of important ministries and the chief of the new Mukhabarat are all mysteriously absent. The Iraqi security forces are a joke, with the much talked about Fallujah Brigade disbanded for being feckless and — worse — riddled with insurgents who were being paid and trained by the U.S. Marines.

Thousands of Iraqis are desperate to get a new passport and flee the country. These are often the most educated Iraqis — the have the money to get new passports and travel — so the brain-drain will accelerate.

The poor and the disenfranchised are finding their leaders in the populist and fundamentalist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr or in the radical Islam of the jihadis, who are casting a long shadow on this formerly secular country. Iraq has its own home-grown Wahhabists now, something it didn’t have 18 months ago.

In the context of all this, reporting on a half-assed refurbished school or two seems a bit childish and naive, the equivalent of telling a happy story to comfort a scared child. Anyone who asks me to tell the “real” story of Iraq — implying all the bad things are just media hype — should refer to this post. I just told you the real story: What was once a hell wrought by Saddam is now one of America’s making.

[UPDATE Sep 14, 2004 1210 +0300 GMT: I got the below email from an MP who served in Baghdad. He’s been back home for some months in American and gave me permission to print his views provided I strip the identification from it.

I saw your comment about not seeing much good being done by the US. I don’t know what’s going on now, but that sounds about right.

From my perspective as a grunt who was on the ground, we wanted to do all sorts of things to help, but we couldn’t. No matter what we wanted to do, my squad was not going to restore electricity to Iraq. Every day for several months we had to drive past a blown up power tower with lines dangling about 20 feet off the ground. (You may be able to spot this one: it’s new now, on the western side of Tampa around bridge 18 or so). It was disgusting to see it sit there on its side for so long.

So, all we got to do were hand out crayons and soccer balls to school kids. What else could we do? We wanted to help, but we were in the middle of a war and stuck in a behemoth of a bureaucracy. Our little efforts were indeed puny on a national scale, but it’s what we could do.

I don’t disagree with what you said or how you said it. I had the same frustration. However, if all those particular people can do is open a park, well, that’s all they can do, and I can see how they would be proud of it within their own little sphere of possibility.


I should expand on some of my thoughts. I’m not blaming the soldiers or think of them as evil bastards. I feel sorry for them, being put in a horrible position, and my anonymous soldier is right: If all they can do is open a park, then I will not begrudge them that. It doesn’t hurt, and if it makes it easier for the soldiers to get through the day, more power to them. It’s better than waiting around for the next attack. And they desperately need to feel they’re doing something. Otherwise, I would think they’d go mad. At least I get to feel that I’m bearing witness or something. And I’m here voluntarily. I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel if you were sent here against your will and then told what you were doing was a big fat waste of time and lives. I feel for the soldiers as deeply as I feel for the Iraqi people. As I said once before, we are all prisoners here.]

Duh

Cause My Hummer's A Little On The Small Side



The latest winner in the tiny penis compensator competition. Weighing in at a measly 14,500 pounds, this bad boy is guaranteed to get you all the ladies you want (who you won't be able to satisfy but what the hell do you care because you won't have time for sex anyway since you'll be working two jobs just to pay for gas.)

On Track



Kerry is doing exactly what he needs to here. Make Bush defend the War. With the situation in Iraq getting worse every day, Kerry needs to keep hammering at Bush's failure. Every time Bush has to defend the war it's a little piece of his armor chipped away.

On Track


lthumb.wigh10809151812.kerry_wigh108
Originally uploaded by Fin1.
Kerry is doing exactly what he needs to here. Make Bush defend the War. With the situation in Iraq getting worse every day, Kerry needs to keep hammering at Bush's failure. Every time Bush has to defend the war is a little piece of his armor chipped away.

Cut and Run

Plan to channel funds from reconstruction to security signals focus on shorter-term goal of holding elections.

Casualties Part II

Looks like I spoke too soon with regards to the ultimate casualty count for the month. In the 20 hours since I posted this, another 7 soldiers have died. Bringing the death toll up to 51 for the month of September and raising the monthly average to just shy of 3.5. At this rate we will crack the 100 mark by September 30th.

Karl Rove's Worst Nightmare

A woman wearing a T-shirt with the words "President Bush You Killed My Son" and a picture of a soldier killed in Iraq was detained Thursday after she interrupted a campaign speech by first lady Laura Bush.

Police escorted Sue Niederer of Hopewell, N.J., from a rally at a firehouse after she demanded to know why her son, Army 1st Lt. Seth Dvorin, 24, was killed in Iraq. Dvorin died in February while trying to disarm a bomb.

As shouts of "Four More Years" subsided, Niederer, standing in the middle of a crowd of some 700, continued to shout about the killing of her son. Secret Service and local police escorted her out of the event, handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a police van.

The first lady continued speaking, touting her husband's record on the economy, health care and the war on terror to those attending the rally in this suburban community of 90,000 people near Trenton.

Mrs. Bush made several references to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks during her speech. She said that many in New Jersey, including some in neighborhoods near the firehouse, lost family members that day.

"Too many people here had a loved one that went to work in New York that day," Bush said. "It's for our country, it's for our children, our grandchildren that we do the hard work of confronting terror."

New Bush Records On The Way?



In this morning's press briefing, the following bit of calculated foreshadowing occurred.

Q Scott, can you say for certain that -- are you aware of any other documents regarding President Bush's service in the Guard that have not been released?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, we talked about this earlier today -- some questions came up this morning. And if you'll recall back in February, the President directed the Department of Defense to do a comprehensive search, gather all the records, so that we can make them available publicly. The President's personnel, payroll and medical records were released in their entirety -- I notice you had a comment the other day, I just want to make sure that's clear and that's what I referred to back then. Since that time, there were some further media inquiries. The Department of Defense went back and did -- apparently they didn't do as comprehensive a search as we had requested, and they found some additional documents that weren't in any of those files. And so they have continued to scour through additional files that aren't part of the President's personnel, payroll, and medical files to see if there are any records relating to the President. And my understanding is that that work has continued. I don't know the latest update on it at this point.

Q Have you or others in the White House seen documents that have not yet been released?

MR. McCLELLAN: I have not. I'll try to check. We've been traveling, but I don't know of any other specific documents that have been found at this point. But I know that they're -- I know they're continuing to look at that, so that's a very real possibility.

Why would he even bring it up if it wasn't to lay the track for the "discovery" of something new?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Those Damn Activist Judges

From The NY Times:
A federal judge in New York, complaining that the Bush administration "shows an indifference" to the freedom of information laws, has ordered the Pentagon and other agencies to produce a list of all their documents on the detentions at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by Oct. 15.
- - - -
He stopped short of ordering the Pentagon to turn over the actual documents by the October deadline, after Assistant United States Attorney Sean Lane argued at a hearing on Friday that there were too many of them - at least 20,000, he said - to produce that soon. (emphasis mine)

Kidnap Central

Denial Ain't Just A River

A classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush in late July spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq, government officials said Wednesday.

The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.
- - - -
As described by the officials, the pessimistic tone of the new estimate stands in contrast to recent statements by Bush administration officials, including comments on Wednesday by Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, who asserted that progress was being made.

"You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done," Mr. McClellan said at a news briefing. "And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
He failed to add: "If there are any of them still left by the time we're done over there."

Priceless

Slate highlights Kitty Kelly's book. My personal favorites:

Page 253: At Andover, George W. Bush writes a morose essay about his sister's death. Searching for a synonym for "tears," he consults a thesaurus and writes, "And the lacerates ran down my cheeks." A teacher labels the paper "disgraceful."

Page 49: Prescott Bush frequently shows up drunk at the lavish Hartford Club and never tips the bellboys. "Finally we figured out how to exact revenge," says one bellboy. "Whenever he came in drunk and wanted to go upstairs, we'd take him in the elevator and stop about three inches from his floor. He'd step out and fall flat on his face."

Page 22: W. isn't the first Bush with a dubious war record. Prescott writes a gag letter to an Ohio newspaper detailing his mock-heroics in World War I, which the newspaper takes as fact and prints in full on the front page. His mother later apologizes and the paper retracts the story.

Page 271: Joke excised from Bush's 2001 Yale commencement speech: "It's great to return to New Haven. My car was followed all the way from the airport by a long line of police cars with slowly rotating lights. It was just like being an undergraduate again."


Ten Years In The Making

Among the Fidayeen

A fascinating article from Mother Jones.

For This They Get A Pay Raise?



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans on a House committee squelched a Democratic attempt on Wednesday to seek information on Vice President Cheney's energy task force, in a rowdy session punctuated by cries of "Shame!" from Democrats.

On a party line vote of 30-22, the panel voted down the Democratic motion for the committee to ask the White House for the names of members and other information about the 2001 task force that formulated energy policy.
. . . .
Rep. Henry Waxman of California, walked out of the room in disgust, announcing that lawmakers were acting like teenagers.

Casualties

The current death toll of American personnel in Iraq stands at 1,022. It seems just yesterday that we reached the 1,000 milestone. A visit to Iraq Casualty Count shows that 44 soldiers have been killed so far this month in Iraq, an average of over 3 a day. At this rate, by September 30th the casualty count for the month would reach 92 - the second highest monthly total of the entire war. Given the increase in coordinated attacks by the Iraqi insurgency in recent weeks, this total seems a depressingly achievable possibility.

From Bad To Worse

The scale and sophistication of militant attacks in Iraq are steadily increasing, with coordinated strikes and complicated ambushes that increasingly hit their targets, officials and analysts said Wednesday.
. . . .
American commanders, however, insist the stepped-up attacks and the possibility of increased cooperation among militant groups are signs that the insurgents have realized time is running out for them with the onset of elections in January.
. . . .
In places like Fallujah, a hotbed of resistance west of Baghdad, the insurgents have endeared themselves to the local population by spearheading a religious revival and taking over some law enforcement tasks.

"I was very optimistic when the Americans entered Iraq ... but then I was so shocked by their practices that I even joined Fallujah residents in their war against them," said Haqi Esmaiel Ibrahim, 25, an accountant at a Baghdad stationery store. "Because of the bad security situation and kidnap cases, I had to make my two sisters quit school and stay at home."

"It Doesn't Matter How Many We Kill...

they'll always keep coming back. They've all got cousins, brothers. They have an endless supply."

So said Pfc. Mario Rutigliano, 19, of Clifton, N.J in this Washington Post article. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this supply will only continue to grow with news like this:
U.S. forces have controlled Tall Afar since Sunday, after battles last week that killed an estimated 104 Iraqis and displaced 50,000 to 100,000 residents.

The Language of Terror

The few translators that our intelligence services actually employ are faced with a big problem in performing their jobs. Not all Arabic is the same. Different regions produce different dialects and colloquialisms. Especially troubling:
It doesn't take much to mistranslate words, because many Arabic words use the exact same letters. Arabic does not have vowel letters. Vowels appear as short lines or symbols above or below each letter, indicating pronunciation. These markings can change the meaning of the words. Often in official or handwritten documents, these vowel marks are not shown. Thus, the reader must derive the word's meaning.

Meanwhile, when spoken, many words sound alike, but have various definitions.

For example, the word meaning "appear" sounds like bada. The word meaning "start" sounds like badaa, with a slight guttural inflection. When pronounced quickly in news reports or in conversations, these two words sound almost identical.

But there is a big difference in saying, "He appeared to shoot," and "He started to shoot." It could mean the difference between an acquittal and a conviction.
Now for the really scary part:
A bipartisan State Department advisory panel on public diplomacy, headed by Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Israel and Syria, found that only 54 of 279 Arabic speakers employed by State are fluent. Of those, only six were fluent enough to appear on Arabic television programs. As of December 2003, the Army had approximately 1,300 active-duty soldiers who it said can read or speak some Arabic. The FBI has raised concerns over the shortage of Arabic translators, which has created a backlog of thousands of documents that require translation.

Different Government translators and contractors must implement a standard checking system to guarantee the most accurate translations possible. Current translators must take more intensive refresher courses, especially in colloquial Arabic, to familiarize themselves with the nuances of different dialects. Translators must also enter immersion programs, allowing them to live in, understand, and experience the cultures from which they are translating or interpreting. Finally, better incentives must be offered to attract high-quality translators.
What do you think the odds are we can get terrorists to start speaking slower?

This Comes Out of Our Pockets



It's bad enough that we're footing the bill for Bush and Cheney to roam the country lying their asses off (I understand it's a long-standing political reality, it just bugs me), but now the list of Cabinet members using their position to campaign for the President is growing. Like Tom Ridge before him, today Tommy Thompson used a government event to go after John Kerry. This time the topic was Medicare and Kerry's recent criticism of the Administration's whopping 17% increase in premiums.

A War Dante Could Be Proud Of

"The gates of hell are open in Iraq" So said Arab League chief Amr Mussa yesterday.




Analysts agreed. "There is a risk of a Somalia-isation of Iraq," said Hasni Abidi, an Algerian analyst.

"Each political party has its own armed militia; the country is in the hands of gangs," he said.

He said the so-called "Green Zone" in Baghdad -- a highly fortified area accommodating the US embassy and the provisional Iraqi government -- showed "the transfer of sovereignty was illusory".

International terrorism had taken root and neighbouring countries had no incentive to encourage stability, he said.

British expert Michael Codner said there was a real "risk of proliferation of groups with different leaderships" staking their claims in Iraq.

Mark Heller, an analyst with Israel's Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies, said the only options were "brutal repression" or some sort of power-sharing deal between Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds.

Daniel Neep, an analyst at Britain's Royal United Services Institute, said militants were drawing upon a general sense of frustration among Iraqis and, in some cases, foreign fighters trying to turn the conflict into a wider ideological struggle.
For a first hand look into this hell, visit Baghdad Burning

i-toons



To borrow a feature from my friend (and inspiration) Brad:

Required Reading

Why?

These fucking guys and their egos. Does he think this is going to help Kerry's campaign? You don't see the Rethuglicans talking out of school because Karl Rove would plant them in the Potomac. This is a pure ego thing. He wants to be in the news. I'm sure as the big important democrat he is, he's tight with someone in Kerry's campaign. Couldn't he have made a phone call? Maybe he did and nobody listened to him. Either way, we need a united front now. The stakes are too high. So for the next 48 days, if any of these "high level" democrats want to see their face on t.v. they should audition for a fuckin' reality show.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

We've Turned The Corner

Too bad there's a cop standing there checking to see if we're the right color.

Friends Don't Let Friends Destroy The World

Tony Blair plans to urge the U.S. to take a tougher stance on global warning. I see the call going something like this:

BLAIR"
George, it's Tony Blair.
DUBYA:
"Hey, Funny Accent Guy, how ya doin'?
BLAIR:
"Not so good, George. Seems we're in for a lot of nasty weather if you don't start cutting back on your emission of green house gasses.
DUBYA:
Hell, can ya smell it all the way over there? Woo doggie, I told the cook not to put so much chili powder in my eggs. Damn near killed Laura this morning when I face-farted her. (laughter)
BLAIR:
(sigh)
We're totally buggered.

Click.

DUBYA:
Accent Guy? You still there? Accent Guy?... I think he hung up.

It's The (Wrong) War, Stupid

Just watched the new DNC ad. I can't help but feel this whole push on Bush's lack of service is a loser. People know what he did. They don't really care. Mostly, I think, because he's already the president and (whether they voted for him or not) the American people feel like they've been there and done that with regards to his past.

Unless the DNC finds video of Dubya snorting coke off Jane Fonda's ass, I think their best bet is to hammer George on the mess he's making right now. Let some of the fringe players and bloggers keep his service record alive if you must, but focus the big guns on the things that are hurting most Americans including the sacrifices they are forced to make every single day in George Bushes America.

Open For Interpretation

The Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating article on the life on an Iraqi interpreter:

Like many of the hundreds of Iraqi interpreters serving the US military, Ahmed leads an anguished life. Hounded by taunts and the threat of death from fellow Iraqis, he is also troubled by the abuses and mistrust of some US soldiers. But his job is as crucial as it is wrenching, especially as US and Iraqi forces increasingly mount joint combat operations to shore up Iraq's new government.

"Sometimes, when I'm alone, I cry," says Ahmed, an English literature graduate of Mosul University. "It's so contradictory because I'm proud of what I'm doing, but I hide my face," he says, withholding his real name. Since he cast his lot with US forces in the first days of their occupation of Mosul in April 2003, Ahmed has faced the extremes of Iraqi popular attitudes toward the American military. Initial euphoria has given way to a grim daily effort to survive, he says.
. . . .
Working for the Marines and later the 101st Airborne Division and Stryker brigade, Ahmed was impressed by much of what he learned about American culture. In managing propane distribution, for example, he discovered US soldiers were highly egalitarian.

"Before the war, we had important people and not-important people. But the soldiers were fair to everyone," he says. "I learned a lot from those guys. I learned that you judge each individual by what he does" rather than by his family, tribe, or group, he says.

Still, he says the US occupation also brought chaos because Iraqis lack a sense of ownership for their country. "Saddam psychologically and physically damaged people's patriotic feeling for the country, to the point that it wasn't their country, it was Saddam's country and they lived in it," he says. Just as stuffing oneself after a Ramadan fast can cause a stomachache, he says, "you can't give us all that freedom at once or we will hurt ourselves and behave abnormally and randomly."
Yet another reminder of how uneducated the people who planned this war were of the mindset and culture of the people we were trying to "liberate".

Dick Cheney - Wacko

Is it me or is Dick Cheney coming on more and more like that crazy uncle your parents never talk about (and certainly don't invite over for Thanksgiving dinner)? David Shuster over at MSNBC highlights another of Cheney's seemingly daily moments of lunacy - this time about the Russians:

Talking about European nations and the war on terror, Cheney said, and I quote:  "I think some have hoped that if they kept their heads down and stayed out of the line of fire, they wouldn't get hit. I think what happened in Russia now demonstrates pretty conclusively that everybody is a target. That Russia, of course, didn't support us in Iraq, they didn't get involved in sending troops there, they've gotten hit anyway."

The first two sentences are not the issue... it's the third sentence -- the idea that if Russia had only supported us in Iraq, had only sent troops there, they wouldn't have gotten hit.  That is insane.  Russia got hit because of their conflict in Chechnya.  It had nothing to do with whether they did or did not send troops to Iraq.  Every Republican I've spoken with today has expressed "displeasure" at the vice president's remarks  Furthermore, most of them are feeling awfully "queasy" about Mr. Cheney using the murder of hundreds of children in Russia to make an argument about U.S. involvement in Iraq.
Maybe if we all chipped in we could send him a copy of How To Win Friends And Influence People - it's clear he's never read it.

Kitty on Today

From First Draft:

Here is a transcript of Kitty Kelley's first two Today Show appearances this week. She handles Lauer well, but he is a real dick.
I couldn't agree more.

It's The Least We Can Do - A Quantity The Bush Administration Specializes In

From Centcom:

September 14, 2004
Release Number: 04-09-44


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


IRAQI POLICE SERVICE OFFERS 'DEATH BENEFITS' TO FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN

BAGHDAD, IRAQ – Iraqi Police Service officers received “death benefits” assistance, Saturday, for family members of personnel killed in the line of duty, effectively ending the previous pension system.

The benefits, immediately directed by Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, amount to direct dependent payment of 1 million Iraqi dinars, upon death, and additionally pay families the decedent’s full salary until what would have been the officer’s 63rd birthday.

Only officers killed in the line of duty qualify for the benefit – retroactively extending back to personnel killed in the line of duty since early April 2003. Cause of death is established by a five person team.

Prior to Saturday’s implementation, families of officers could expect just six months of full pay after the service member’s death, followed by a lesser pension system draw.

Since the end of the war, nearly 600 Iraqi Police Service officers have been killed in the line of duty.

Given the appalling number of Iraqi policemen killed today alone, I wonder whether Bush has allocated enough money in his budget to cover the cost.

Don't Look At The Man Behind The Curtain

Rep. Henry A. Waxman has released a comprehensive examination of secrecy in the Bush Administration. I haven't read it yet, but the gist is that:
there has been a consistent pattern in the Administration’s actions: laws that are designed to promote public access to information have been undermined, while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or to operate in secret have repeatedly been expanded. The cumulative result is an unprecedented assault on the principle of open government.
For those who appreciate irony, please reference my previous post on Colin Powell.

Being There

Bush doesn't strike me as a guy who thinks well on his feet. In fact, if any President ever seemed like he suffered from A.D.D. it's Dubya. Which is why this story from The AP is particularly troubling. Bush hasn't spent an entire day at the White House in almost a month and a half. Instead, he's being shuttled to and from campaign stops in "21 states in 44 days, including three stays at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and some time at his family's home on the Maine coast.

Say what you will about Clinton, he was a president who micromanaged. He had his finger on the pulse of every issue on his plate. You knew when Clinton was out kissing babies, he was paying attention to his job. But I just don't picture Bush having the focus for it. As a man who claims never to read a newspaper or any source of independent information, I can only believe that Bush is now (more than ever) at the mercy of his handlers - specifically Cheney and Rove. And though Bush has somehow managed to slack his way into the White House, the thousands of dead and wounded soldiers in Iraq and the millions of Americans out of work or without health care deserve a leader who's paying attention.

You Reap What You Sew

The 800 lb gorilla that is Kitty Kelly has landed and as much as I hate her kind of sensationalist journalism, I find myself almost gleeful at the muck she's raking.

"Alcoholism, she writes, runs deeply in the family and among its victims, according to one Bush family friend, was Prescott, a "major-league alcoholic", who was in the habit of checking himself into his men's club and country club to go on benders. And Kelley writes that George W Bush is not the only one in the first family who enjoyed illegal substances. While a student at Southern Methodist University in the 1960s, first lady Laura Bush was known "as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana".
. . . .

"But, as one of W's Yalie frat brothers tells Kelley, it's not the substance abuse in Bush's past that's disturbing, it's the "lack of substance ... Georgie, as we called him, had absolutely no intellectual curiosity about anything. He wasn't interested in ideas or in books or causes. He didn't travel; he didn't read the newspapers; he didn't watch the news; he didn't even go to the movies. How anyone got out of Yale without developing some interest in the world besides booze and sports stuns me." New Yorker writer Brendan Gill recalls roaming the Kennebunkport compound one night while staying there looking for a book to read - the only title he could find was The Fart Book." (Emphasis mine.)
. . . . .

"George HW Bush and wife Barbara dismissed Bill Clinton as a pathetic hillbilly when he challenged the incumbent in 1992. But, Kelley writes, Clinton was one of the few Bush opponents who knew how to back them down. As colourful stories from Clinton's sexual past in Arkansas began to surface during the campaign, a Clinton aide began digging into the senior Bush's own robust adultery. This included, writes Kelley, two long affairs.

The Clinton aide told Kelley: "I took my list of Bush women to his campaign operatives. I said I knew we were vulnerable on women, but I wanted to make damn sure they knew they were vulnerable too." After the eruption over Clinton's mistress Gennifer Flowers died down, sexual infidelity did in fact become a moot issue in the campaign.


Kerry needs to hire that aide today.