Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why We Support the Troops and Not the Administration

There is a good reason that many Americans are willing to fully support the troops, but give a vote of no confidence to the civilian military leadership. I think the discourse between Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Donald Rumsfeld:

When UPI's Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that "obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility" other than to voice disapproval.

But Pace had a different view. "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it," the general said.

Rumsfeld interjected: "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."

But Pace meant what he said. "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," he said, firmly.

God, I wish we had a President and Secretary of Defense that spoke and acted like General Pace. I am so sick of listening to Bush and Rummy talk about how we are in Iraq to put an end to Saddam's torture chambers and then turn around and refuse to condemn, ban, or even give more than lip service to torture. Do they really think that they will be seen as credible about our role in Iraq when they refuse to actually support the rationale for our invasion. Unfortunately, if either of the two were to lose their jobs, it would most likely be General Pace and not Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld's War On 'Insurgents'

You Have Taken From Us Which We Have Rightfully Stolen

I was eating breakfast this morning, watching the morning fluff news when they had on Jerry Farwell condemning municipalities and companies for calling Christmas trees - Holiday trees. When I put up a Christmas tree, I put it up to celebrate Christmas. But, I also do it knowing that it is a pagan tradition, not Christian.

Christians did not invent the Christmas tree. Nor did they invent the use of holly and mistletoe. In fact, the only reason we celebrate Christmas when we do is because it coincided with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. There is no way that Jesus was born on December 25th. According to the bible, he was born sometime in the spring, not winter.

Throughout Christian history, the use of the Christmas tree has been very controversial because it was taken from the pagans and was even banned by early Christians. The tradition of bringing evergreens into the home over the winter solstice dates back the the Egyptians and the practice was even condemned in the old testament:

Jeremiah 10:2-4: "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."

The first use of a fir tree was done by the heathen Greeks to worship the god Adonia, who allegedly was brought back to life by the serpent Aessulapius after having been slain.

The Romans also used evergreens in their own pagan traditions with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life.

The Druids of England used fir trees during their winter solstice rituals
and used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life because they were able to stay 'alive' during the winter when other trees became barren. They also placed wreaths of evergreen branches over doors to keep out evil spirits.

The Druids of Scandinavia tied fruit and candles to fir trees to celebrate their god, Woden (where the name Wednesday comes from) and also used the yule log (another pagan tradition) to celebrate the rebirth of the world on the shortest day of the year.

In early American history, pilgrims banned the use of Christmas trees because it was a mockery of Christianity to use pagan traditions to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In Puritan England, the use of holly and mistletoe were decried as well as the Christmas trees as anti-Christian.

So, go forth and put up a Christmas tree in your home to celebrate a merry Christmas, but please stop complaining about Christmas trees being stolen from us when it was never our tradition to begin with. If anything, it is the pagans who can claim that the 'holiday' has been taken out of the 'holiday tree' by Christians.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More Criticism of Bush by Lawrence Wilkerson

More Criticism was heaped on to Bush by Powell's former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, about how Bush handled the prelude and the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. His criticism ranges from allowing faulty intelligence to be used to having no plan for the post invasion phase of the war. Wilkerson also gives us a glimpse into Powell's mind set prior and post invasion as well as reasons Powell probably left public service.

Criticism of the Presidents unpreparedness is wide spread (What's the Plan?). Bush is now trying to claim that his critics are actually his plans even though he has never really publicaly put forth a plan. Hmmm... We have never seen Bush do something like that, have we... (cough, cough) 9/11 commission (cough) Homeland security (cough).

Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Bush on Iraq

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
Tue Nov 29, 6:58 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff says President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of post-war planning, allowing underlings to exploit Bush's detachment and make bad decisions.

In an Associated Press interview Monday, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of White House and Pentagon aides who argued that "the president of the United States is all-powerful," and that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. Wilkerson said that Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

Wilkerson suggested his former boss may agree with him that Bush was too hands-off about Iraq.

"What he seems to be saying to me now is the president failed to discipline the process the way he should have and that the president is ultimately responsible for this whole mess," Wilkerson said.

He said Powell now generally believes it was a good idea to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but may not agree with either the timing or execution of the war. Wilkerson said Powell may have had doubts about the extent of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein but was convinced by then- CIA Director George Tenet and others that the intelligence girding the push toward war was sound.

Powell was widely regarded as a dove to Cheney's and Rumsfeld's hawks, but he made a forceful case for war before the United Nations Security Council in February, 2003, a month before the invasion. At one point, he said Saddam possessed mobile labs to make weapons of mass destruction that were never found.

Wilkerson criticized the CIA and other agencies for allowing mishandled and bogus information to underpin that speech and the whole administration case for war.

He said he has almost, but not quite, concluded that Cheney and others in the administration deliberately ignored evidence of bad intelligence and looked only at what supported their case for war.

A newly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002 said that an al-Qaida military instructor was probably misleading his interrogators about training that the terror group's members received from Iraq on chemical, biological and radiological weapons. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi reportedly recanted his statements in January 2004.

A presidential intelligence commission also dissected how spy agencies handled an Iraqi refugee who was a German intelligence source. Codenamed Curveball, this man who was a leading source on Iraq's purported mobile biological weapons labs was found to be a fabricator and alcoholic.

(Full Story)

You've Got Mail

That is, unless you were a victim of Shawn Gementera, who was convicted of stealing mail from mailboxes in San Francisco in 2001. Mr. Gementera's punishment was two months in jail, and to stand in the local post office with a double sided sign stating that he was a mail thief and this was his punishment.

Mr. Gementera appealed the ruling as cruel and unusual punishment. While this may be unusual in today's legal system, I don't think it is cruel by any means. Public humiliation has been used for years to punish criminals. And, this punishment serves as a double edge. Not only does it punish the thief, it is a deterrent to others who might consider committing such a crime.

Mr. Gementera's attorney has appealed this to the Supreme Court. I doubt it will be heard.

'I stole mail'
By James Vicini
Mon Nov 28,11:40 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed a California man to be sentenced to spend a day outside a San Francisco post office wearing a signboard stating, "I stole mail. This is my punishment."

The justices rejected an appeal by Shawn Gementera, who argued that this was designed to publicly shame and humiliate him. He said it violated the Sentencing Reform Act and the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Gementera pleaded guilty to mail theft after the police arrested him and an accomplice in 2001 for stealing letters from several mailboxes in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in 2003 sentenced Walker to two months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

The conditions for his release required Gementera to spend four days at a post office observing patrons inquire about lost or stolen mail, to write letters of apology to the victims of his crime, to give three lectures at high schools about his crime and to wear the two-sided sign for one eight-hour day.

Gementera appealed the legality of the signboard requirement, but a U.S. appeals court panel, by a 2-1 vote, ruled against him in August.

The appeals court said the record in the case showed that the judge imposed the condition for the legitimate purpose of rehabilitation.

It said the judge could have imposed a lengthier prison term instead of the signboard condition, and added that crimes and the resulting penalties nearly always cause shame and embarrassment.

(Full Story)

H/T Linnet

Republican Congressman Pleads Quilty to Bribery

In a not so surprising event, GOP Congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, resigned from Congress yesterday as he pleaded guilty to taking bribes from defense contractors. I guess you can mark this one up on the growing list of Republican "culture of corruption." It can be argued the the Democrats deserved to lose the congress in 1994. If that is the case, then the Republicans deserve to lose it in 2006.

Congressman Admits Taking Bribes, Resigns
By Charles R. Babcock and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 29, 2005; Page A01

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned from Congress yesterday after tearfully confessing to evading taxes and conspiring to pocket $2.4 million in bribes, including a Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode.

The decorated Vietnam War-era fighter pilot, 63, entered his guilty plea at a federal courthouse in San Diego and then choked up as he proclaimed: "In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame."

His plea marks the second conviction in a week to emerge from a wave of federal investigations into the cozy -- and potentially illegal -- relationships between leading members of Congress and lobbyists and contractors working to curry legislative favors. In an unrelated investigation, former public relations executive Michael Scanlon, an associate of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Nov. 21 to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials. Scanlon agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribes.

(Full Story)

Update: Just to prove that I am an equal opportunity basher of corruption in congress (regardless of party affiliation) I am adding a story about Sen. Byron Dorgan, who is being tied into the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal. Good riddance to all of them.

Abramoff Tied to Dorgan Donation, Tribe Says

Monday, November 28, 2005

Blog Review

I have never done this before, but I wanted to point out a blog that I think is very well written and insightful. This, is by no means a dis to any of the other great blogs I have on my roll, but I spent some quality time reading Pedro's blog over the weekend and just thought that I would point it out (I will try to get some blog reviews up from time to time on the other blogs on my roll also). We don't agree on everything, but he puts his arguments out there in a very intelligent manner and on some things I have never given much thought to.

So, take a moment and visit the Quietist

The Indians Aren't So Happy With the Chief

As I have pointed out before, the president seems to be just bouncing along from day to day in a pointless meander through his presidency. With news that Rove might be getting a second look from Fitzgerald, things will only get worse.

"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

On many occasions, I have said the first priority on Bush's agenda should be bringing in new blood to the Pentagon. Apparently, I am not the only one.

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.

Without a shake up, the same people who constructed the failing agenda also fail to admit mistakes have been made or a change of course could help renew confidence in the administration

A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."

And with the growing dismay brought on by all of the events, I have also noted that Bush appears to be getting more and more paranoid.

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

As much as I dislike Bush, it is almost sad to watch Bush come unhinged like this.

All disquiet on West Wing front

The Irony of Democracy

Obviously, democracy is the preferable form of government. But a government that is answerable to the populace is not without consequence to the functionality of those elected officials. Ironically, the same forces that got Bush his war are the same forces that are now undercutting his war.

In 2002 Bush pushed the war as an immediate need because it was just prior to the 2002 midterm elections. He knew that Congress would be forced to vote for a war resolution or face looking soft on terrorism in the upcoming elections. It is no secret that Bush chose that moment to push the war because the prospect of voting against the war and facing re-election was not fun.

Now, the 2006 mid-terms are fast approaching and the tide of public opinion has turned. It is no longer politically expedient for Congressmen to support Bush's request for unhindered deference. The same political force of re-election that got Bush what he wanted in 2002 is now calling for a definable limit to the war.

I guess if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving.

P.S. please stay off the road if you are in the North East. I have to drive tonight and I hate traffic. Thanks for your cooperation in my travel planning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's Time

As much as I think we need to stay in Iraq longer, it is now time to get out.

Reaching out to the Sunni Arab community, Iraqi leaders called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The Iraqis want us out and they have greenlighted insurgents to continue to attack U.S. troops. It is time for our troops to come home.

Iraqi leaders call on U.S. to set withdrawal schedule

Fomer DeLay Aid Fingers Republican Bob Ney

Former Tom DeLay top aid, Michael Scanlon, plead guilty yesterday to to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials and is now cooperating with prosecutors. At the top of Scablon's list is Republican Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio. Ohio Republicans are already reeling from a number of other ethical and criminal charges over the last year that go all the way up to the Governor, Bob Taft.

As I pointed out before, there will be lot that shakes out of this tree. Most will be on the Republican side of the isle, but, undoubtedly, there will be some Democrats wrapped up in this as well. Good riddance to them all.

Abramoff Partner Pleads Guilty

By James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 22, 2005; Page A01

A onetime congressional staffer who became a top partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to bribe a congressman and other public officials and agreed to pay back more than $19 million he fraudulently charged Indian tribal clients.

The plea agreement between prosecutors and Michael Scanlon, a former press secretary to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), provided fresh detail about the alleged bribes. The document also indicated the nature of testimony Scanlon is prepared to offer against a congressman it calls "Representative #1" -- who has been identified by attorneys in the case as Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio).

Scanlon, a 35-year-old former public relations executive, faces a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but the penalty could be reduced depending on the level of his cooperation with prosecutors. His help is expected to be crucial to the Justice Department's wide-ranging Abramoff investigation, which began early last year after the revelation that Scanlon and the lobbyist took in tens of millions of dollars from Indian tribes unaware of their secret partnership to jack up fees and split profits.

(Full Story)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ex-DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty in Conspiracy

Any surprises there? Nope. Now we will soon see what shakes from this tree.

Ex-DeLay Aide Pleads Guilty in Conspiracy
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Michael Scanlon, a former partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to bribe public officials, a charge growing out of the government investigation of attempts to defraud Indian tribes and corrupt a member of Congress.

Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle and agreed to pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to the tribes.

Scanlon, who is expected to cooperate in the investigation of Abramoff and members of Congress, could face up to five years in prison.

(Full Story)

More on White Phosphorus

I have written a couple of post on the U.S. military's use of White Phosphorus in the battle of Fallujah. My position is, if they used it for legitimate purposes, such as battle field illumination or smoke screens, I have no issue with its use. If the Army used it as a weapons against insurgents in a civilian area, than it was completely and totally wrong.

Now I have come accross this little tid bit from a 1995 Pentagon intelligence document.


BROTHER (SUBSOURCE) [ (b)(1) sec 1.3(a)(4) ][ (b)(7)(D) ]


I think there is two very relevant points to this:

First, if our justification for going to war was to stop Saddam from using chemical weapons, this pretty much is a proof that WP should be classified as a chemical weapon.

Second, as according to the memo, Saddam used WP instead of a nerve gas precisely because the US does not consider WP to be a chemical weapon, per se. This leaves open the option for other governments to use WP against "rebels" (i.e. civilians) or, even our own troops because the U.S. cannot claim they are using a chemical weapon (by our own definition). The U.S. needs to immediately renounce the use of WP as a battle field weapon. If not for the protectino of civilians in places like Darfur, for our own troops sake.

H/T Kos

More Bad New for DeLay

As the investigation of DeLays buddy, Jack Abramoff, gets into full swing, many Washington D.C. politicians are hiding under the rugs. The most to loose, of course, is Tom DeLay who has the closest ties to the indicted D.C. lobbyists. It looks like Abramoff did pay for DeLays plain fare and other expenses for the infamous trip to Scotland and DeLays office did most likely know who was paying for it (something he has always denied).

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.

Multiple sources, including DeLay's then-chief of staff Susan Hirschmann, have confirmed that DeLay's congressional office was in direct contact with Preston Gates about the trip itinerary before DeLay's departure, to work out details of his travel. These contacts raise questions about DeLay's statement that he had no way of knowing about the financial and logistical support provided by Abramoff and his firm.

DeLay Airfare Was Charged To Lobbyist's Credit Card

I think DeLay is done in Republican leadership. Between his indictment in Texas and his whole host of other ethics violations, other Republicans are clamoring over each other to have a new leadership structure in place by the beginning of next year. If DeLay were somehow to claw his way back into a leadership seat, the GOP would be killed hit by the "culture of corruption" label that is hanging like a 50 pound weight in the 2006 elections. Republicans are already back on their heels. As they say, "in politics, we are all in this alone."

Revisionist Hosetory?

In a speech today, Cheney gave a speech to the American Enterprise Institute where he starts out by attacking Democrats as doing a little revisionist history. Moments later, he starts talking about terrorist who kill Americans to change U.S. foreign policy. He noted two instances. One, the bombing in Berruit that killed over 200 marines. The other is the 18 soldiers killed in Somalia during a raid on a hotel in Mogadishu (see Black hawk Down if you need the story line).

Yes, apparently now, the 18 soldiers who were killed in a terrorist plot to target American personnel just like in Lebanon. I guess now it was a trap where the warlord Aidid lured us in to his lair. It was all just part of a brilliant plan to force the pullout of American troops.

Talk about revisionist history.

Sharon Dissoves Parliament

Big shake up in Israel. Sharon is breaking with the right wing Likud party to start a new centrist part. Sharon has dissolved parliament in order to do this. It is unknow how many of his Likud party members will follow him or if any of the Labor party members will join him (a possibility)

Israel's Sharon to quit Likud party - PM's office

Rupublican Congressman Thinks McCarthy was a Swell Guy

Unfortunately, Republicans seems to be embracing Joe McCarthy more and more these days. Ann Coulter, mistress of the dark side, wrote a whole book praising McCarthy and calling anyone who stood up to him Traitors. It is sad to see the conservatives head in the direction of endorsing a man who was little more than a thug and a fascist. This all stems from a Democratic Congresswoman who was seeking a resolution to name a post office after a 94 year old city council woman. King actively blocked it, claiming the the council woman had communist ties. The Democratic Congresswoman then called the black neo-McCarthyism. To this, King responded.

"If she studied her history, she'd recognize Joe McCarthy was a great American hero," King said of Lee, in an interview.

Some people argue that McCarthy was just defending American against the communists. This is true. That was his intention. But in practice, he used intimidation and abused the power of the U.S. Congress to crush the lives of countless Americans. Of the 205 people McCarthy accused of being national security threats, only 2 were actually threats (as shown by the Verona project). That is a whopping 1% success rate. Not only was he right only 1% of the time. He also missed 347 of the people who where spies. An even more dismal success rate.

If a cop arrest 100 people for being drug dealers and only one of them were, he would not be a "great cop".

If a surgeon had only a 1% success rate at removing a gall bladder, he would not be a "great doctor."

If a lawyer only wins 1% of his cases, he would not be a "really great jurist."

Regardless of McCarthy's intentions, if you haul 203 innocent people in front of the congress and accuse them of being communists and destroy their reputations, their livelihood, and their all around lives, you are no "great American hero." You are a great American tyrant. It is too bad that a growning number of Republicans can't see this.

'McCarthy' comment by Steve King stirs debate

Bush in Perspective

Bloomberg News does a good job of looking at Bush's leadership style and the events that have shaped the last 5 years. It is a good summary/wrap up.

Bush Trust in Cheney, Rove Tested as Public Confidence Declines

This is an interesting piece after Bush has had to walk back the comments by Cheney, Hastert and Rumsfeld that went on the attack against Democrat John Murtha after he called for an Iraq withdrawal. Seeing that the attacks were not sitting well with the American people, I think the White House's campaign mode attack on critics is going to have to be reorganized. The attacks by Cheney and crew will do nothing to garner more support for the war. It will only go to further draw partisan lines.

I have said it before, and I will say it again - the only winning strategy Bush has is to shake up leadership. Otherwise he will continue to slide if he continues to attack. Leaving the leadership the same gives no confidence to the American people and continues to give Democrats easy targets.

Cheney Again Defends Bush's Iraq Policy

Bush Tries to Tone Down High-Pitched Debate on Iraq

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Uh-Oh! Fitzy is Not Done

Looks like the CIA leak headache for the Bush Administration is anything but over. This will definitely take the wind out of the sails of Republicans who have been on the offensive for the past three days against the Iraq war critics. This means Bush will come out swinging even harder which will further alienate those war supporters sitting on the fence, or he will retreat and dig deeper into his bunker.

A lot of their tactics will be dependant on who Fitzgerald is looking at. Undoubtedly, they already know who Woodward's source was. If it is Rove or Cheney, the administration will probably have to retreat for the time being. If it is a lower level official, I foresee the Bush offensive continuing.

Another Grand Jury for Leak Case

By Carol D. Leonnig and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 19, 2005; Page A01

The prosecutor in the CIA leak case said yesterday that he plans to present evidence to another federal grand jury, signaling a new and potentially significant turn in the investigation into the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Three weeks after indicting I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and declaring the investigation nearly complete, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald announced a new phase in the investigation after the disclosure this week that a senior administration official revealed Plame's CIA connection to Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003.

Legal experts said Fitzgerald's decision to call upon a new grand jury is all but certainly because he is considering additional criminal charges in the case.

Two sources close to Karl Rove, the top Bush aide still under investigation in the case, said they have reason to believe Fitzgerald does not anticipate presenting additional evidence against the White House deputy chief of staff. Instead, lawyers involved in the case expect the prosecutor to focus on Woodward's admission that an official other than Libby told him about Plame one month before her identity was publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.

Woodward, who was questioned by Fitzgerald on Monday, has refused to reveal the source's name publicly, but a person familiar with the investigation said the source had testified earlier in the case. The source came forward to the prosecutor again after Woodward started asking questions for an article on the CIA leak late last month and reminded the person of their 2003 conversation, Woodward said yesterday. That raises the possibility that the source faces legal problems if he or she provided false or incomplete information during previous testimony, according to legal experts.

Fitzgerald's decision to present information to a new grand jury, contained in a court filing and announced publicly at a court hearing on the Libby case yesterday, is the latest twist in an investigation that has rattled the White House and threatens top administration officials. "The investigation will involve proceedings before a different grand jury" from the one that indicted Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, on perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges, Fitzgerald said. "The investigation is continuing."

(Full Story)

The Torture Quandry

The has been a lot of talk about Dick Cheney being the sultan of torture because he has adamantly opposes any ban on the practice. There is already a ban on torture in the U.S. military pursuant to the Geneva convention. But Cheney opposes the CIA being banned from using it.

Here is the deal. If we ever go to war again (which I am sure we will), when one of our fighter pilots gets shot down or a mechanics brigade gets captured. All the enemy has to do is turn over our soldiers over to their secret police, and (according to U.S. doctrine) are free from the Geneva convention. It is plain and simple as that. We have these international to protect our own troops, not vice-versa. Not only is it morally wrong. Not ouly does it hurt our international standing, but publicly opposing a ban on torture is a slap in the face to our own soldiers safety.

CIA agents reveal interrogation tactics

WASHINGTON, (AFP) - CIA agents have revealed details of six interrogation tactics approved by top brass for use at secret CIA jails in Asia and Eastern Europe, ABC News reported.

The techniques have lead to questionable confessions and the death of one man since March 2002, the network said, after interviewing current and former CIA officials.

Former CIA officer Bob Baer told ABC the techniques amounted to "bad interrogation. I mean, you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."

CIA sources speaking on condition of anonymity described six techniques: "Attention Grab, Attention Slap, Belly Slap, Long Time Standing, Cold Cell, Water Boarding."

The six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," as sources called them, were used on a dozen top Al-Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe, ABC said.

In "Belly Slap," interrogators deliver "a hard open-handed slap to the stomach" intended to cause pain but not internal injury.

In "Long Time Standing," prisoners are forced to stand handcuffed and shackled for more than 40 hours.

In "The Cold Cell" a prisoner is made to stand naked in a cell kept near 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) and is continually doused with cold water.

Water Boarding brings results within seconds, the sources said. A prisoner is tied onto a board with his feet higher than his head, and his face is wrapped in cellophane. When water is poured over him, he begins to gag and begs to confess, sources told ABC.

"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told ABC.

After investigating the claims, the network asked CIA officials for comment, but they "would neither confirm nor deny the accounts. They simply declined to comment," ABC said.

(Full Story)

Friday, November 18, 2005


Dennis Hastert and Dick Cheney called John Murtha a coward. That is like Paris Hilton calling Mother Theresa a selfish spoiled brat.

New Concept

Pulling out of Iraq is not an option...

Staying the course is not an option...

I think it is time for the Democrats to stop criticizing the president on pre-war intelligence and start demanding Bush dump Rummy and other top officials to bring in people with new ideas. The majority of American people want to support the war in Iraq, but the Bush administration has given them little to support and implying that anyone who does question him, traitors, is not the way to start. If Bush were to drop Rummy and others and bring in new faces, Americans would give the shake up a chance to succeed before calling for our withdrawal.

It is also time for Republicans to stop blindly supporting Bush on a war effort that continually blunders its opportunities. There are good things happen, but there are a lot of things that should not have happened, happen. The Republicans also need to stand up and demand that Bush bring in new leadership and accountability. Rummy has been and will continue to be a failure. Accept it.

This is actually an issue that parties can be bipartisan, responsive to their constituents and continue the best course of action, which is to stay in Iraq until it is stabilized.

What Bush doesn't seem to realize is that chastising all critics and implying they are traitors is not going to bring back their support. It only further alienates moderates on both sides who are growing weary of poor leadership. We don't want more speeches about how we are "turning the corner." we have turned so many corners that we are back in the same spot we started.

Vatican Official Refutes Intelligent Design

This is one of the reasons I am still a Catholic. The church has come a long way since Galileo. It is now one of the biggest funders of research into the big bang. I wonder if Pat Robertson will now claim a tsunami is going to take out the Sistine Chappell.

Vatican Official Refutes Intelligent Design
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's chief astronomer said Friday that "intelligent design" isn't science and doesn't belong in science classrooms, the latest high-ranking Roman Catholic official to enter the evolution debate in the United States.

The Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, said placing intelligent design theory alongside that of evolution in school programs was "wrong" and was akin to mixing apples with oranges.

"Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be," the ANSA news agency quoted Coyne as saying on the sidelines of a conference in Florence. "If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science."

His comments were in line with his previous statements on "intelligent design" — whose supporters hold that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Proponents of intelligent design are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism — a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation — camouflaged in scientific language, and they say it does not belong in science curriculum.

In a June article in the British Catholic magazine The Tablet, Coyne reaffirmed God's role in creation, but said science explains the history of the universe.

"If they respect the results of modern science, and indeed the best of modern biblical research, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God or a designer God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly."

Rather, he argued, God should be seen more as an encouraging parent.

"God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity," he wrote. "He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves."

The Vatican Observatory, which Coyne heads, is one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. It is based in the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo south of Rome.

(Full Story)

Veto Threat Number Two

Bush is threatening his second veto within the last two weeks. The first one was threat to veto any bill that would outlaw the use of torture (even though he claims we don't torture).

Now, this veto threat on a bill just passed through the Senate on $60 billion in tax cuts. Why is he threatening to veto it? Is it because it would raise taxes on the middle or lower class? No. Is it because it hurts family owned farms? No. Is it bebause it cuts $700 million in spending on food stamps for the working poor? No. Is it because it did not eliminate the alternative minimum tax? Nope.

It is because it would increase oil companies taxes by $4.3 billion dollars. This is for an industry that recently received billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives just prior to reaping the largest profits in corporate history.

Is it really a mystery as to why the majority of Americans don't believe Bush has their interests in mind?

$60B Tax-Cut Bill Faces Bush Veto Threat


WASHINGTON - A $60 billion bill the Senate passed to continue expiring tax cuts and shelter 14 million families from higher taxes faces a White House veto threat because it also includes a hefty tax increase for oil companies.

The legislation passed by senators early Friday would spare millions of families from paying increased taxes through the alternative minimum tax. Much of the bill, passed 64-33, preserves tax cuts approved in previous years that are set to expire unless lawmakers keep them alive.

But unlike a bill assembled by the House tax writing committee, it does not preserve lower tax rates for capital gains and dividends scheduled to disappear at the end of 2008. Congress lowered the maximum tax rate on that investment income to 15 percent in 2003, and many Republicans want to act this year to keep those rates in place in 2009 and 2010.

It was doubtful whether the House would vote on its bill before leaving for the Thanksgiving holiday. "It's a possibility that we'll move it if we're ready to move it," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said early Friday. "We'll have to see where the votes are."

Most Democrats oppose the tax cuts for investment income. Senate leaders dropped an extension from their bill because a key moderate Republican balked at its inclusion.

GOP leaders vow it will reappear before the final tax bill reaches President Bush's desk.

The White House wants to see another change in the Senate bill: elimination of a $4.3 billion tax increase on oil companies.

"This provision would result in a retroactive tax increase by changing a long-accepted accounting practice," the White House said in a statement warning that senior advisers would recommend that President Bush veto the legislation if it's not removed.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bush's PBS Pick Broke the Law...

... go figure

Kenneth Tomlinson, the former Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was out from the beginning on a war path to root out anything not in line with the GOP talking points on NPR and PBS. Tomlinson was convinced that PBS and NPR had the most liberally biased new on the airwaves. Even after his own internal research survey found that Americans trusted news on PBS more than any other news source in America, and found it to be the most balanced, he still stuck to his partisan push to turn PBS into a publicly funded Fox News.

Yesterday, a report by the inspector general, Kenneth Konz, found that Tomlinson had broken the law in several aspects while he was the Chairman.

Rove Discussed Programming With Public TV Chief, Konz Says

Presidential adviser Karl Rove and Kenneth Tomlinson, then chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, discussed creating a ``conservative'' talk show and adding it to the public television lineup, the organization's top investigator said.

Kenneth Konz, inspector general of the nonprofit company that oversees government funding of public TV, said in an interview yesterday that Tomlinson and Rove exchanged e-mails on programming and that Tomlinson also wrote to Rove about ``shaking up'' the agency and recruiting Republican staff.

In a report two days ago, Konz said Tomlinson broke federal laws and internal rules by hiring corporation President Patricia Harrison, a former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman, based on her Republican ties. The report discussed the e-mails but didn't identify Rove as one of the people involved.

``I didn't see anything coming out of the White House showing that they instructed him or ordered him what to do,'' Konz said in the interview.

Tomlinson also improperly helped develop ``The Journal Editorial Report,'' a conservative talk show, for public TV, the six-month probe found.

The issue was ``the use of political tests that were seeking people from one party or from a conservative viewpoint,'' Konz said yesterday.

Konz said he tried to interview Rove and two other White House officials who engaged in e-mail exchanges with Tomlinson about Harrison's hiring and other matters.

The fact that Tomlinson was consulting with Rove is absolutely outrageous. PBS is meant to be free from political influence and pressure. You cannot have the Chairman consulting the top White House policy advisor and claim any kind of impartiality.

The Wall Street Journal has a curious defense of the accusations in their editorial, discussing the creation of the Wall Street Editorial Report.

The real story is that Mr. Tomlinson was a rare political appointee who took seriously CPB's mandate to pursue balanced programming.

Now, don't get me wrong. I watch the Editorial Report quite regularly. I is not a bad show, and quite often has interesting and intelligent discussions. But it is by far the least balanced show on PBS. If you ever wanted to hear what an echo Chamber sounds like, watch the Editorial Report. I have never heard one commentator disagree with another one on the show. Most of the time is goes pretty much like, "I think capital gains taxes are bad." Followed by, "Why, I also think capital gains taxes are bad. How 'bout you Bob?" "Concurred whole heartedly, Bud. Bill?" "Ditto on that one, Bob & Bud."

I support keeping the show on the air, but I would also like to see some fleshing out of the topics with some alternative opinions. Having 4 liaise faireist discuss business is not balance. Hell, throw in a pinko-commie-bastard in there every once in a while to liven things up a bit.

BTW, not that Paul Gigot would ever read my blog, but if he should happen upon this someday - "Tony vs. Tacky" is tacky. Moving along...

CIA Leak Case Gets Second Wind

Yesterday, Bob Woodward admitted that he had been told by a high ranking White House official the identity of Valerie Plame and her position at the CIA working on weapons of mass destruction earlier than than any other reported to date. This muddies the water and gives fresh cause for Patrick Fitzgerald to dig deeper and continue the investigation.

Woodward claims that is was not Libby that divulged the classified information to Woodward. So, the question is then, who did? Does this put the spotlight back on Rove (a man can dream, can't he)?

Woodward says that he was passed the information in a casual manner and did not think twice about it. But if it was so casual, why did he have to promise confidentiality to his informant. I can't think of why a casual conversation would start of with, "hey Bob, how 'bout those Red Skins? Oh, and did you know that Joe Wilson's wife works at the CIA... but, ah, promise me to keep that just between you and me, ok pal. Atta boy Bobby." Woodward's statements yesterday definitely raise more questions than they answer.

Some in the bloggoshpere are saying that this acquits Libby of his indictment. This really doesn't do anything about that. He is still charged with perjury, and this revelation doesn't change the discrepancies in his testimony. I can see several ways this could be used to Libby's advantage, but in the end, it just says, "hey, I wasn't the only leaker."

What this does do, is to re-introduce the issue that multiple people were involved in outing Plame and that the White House has been anything but forthcoming in the investigation as they claimed they were going to be. Woodward's admission is probably not what Bush was looking for as he is trying to hit back on critics of the Iraq war. This will put him on the defensive again.

Woodward Apologizes to Post For Silence on Role in Leak Case

Woodward Could Be a Boon to Libby

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Clinton Calls Iraq a Big Mistake

Clinton announced today that he feels Iraq was a "big mistake." This is what you get when Rummy and Bush keep invoking Clinton's name in defense of the war. Clinton did not challenge Bush on the pre-war intelligence, but did say that the lack of planning before the invasion and the lack of a coherent plan afterwards has made Iraq a big mistake.

"Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done," Clinton told students at a forum at the American University of Dubai.

"It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country."

Clinton said the United States had done some good things in Iraq: the removal of Saddam, the ratification of a new constitution and the holding of parliamentary elections.

"The mistake that they made is that when they kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure of Iraq. ... We never sent enough troops and didn't have enough troops to control or seal the borders," Clinton said.

As the borders were unsealed, "the terrorists came in," he said.

Clinton said it would have been better if the United States had left Iraq's "fundamental military and social and police structure intact."

Gee, that also sounds exactly like the recommendations in a report written by a member of the Army War College prior to the war that Bush and Rummy completely ignored. I wonder if Bush is going to call Clinton a traitor now also?

Bill Clinton Calls Iraq 'Big Mistake'

This is Why We Put People Under Oath

I commented last week about how useless it was for the Republicans to bring the Oil Company CEO's in to appear before congress and then refuse to swear them in.

It is precisely because of this - Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

It is no surprise that Cheney would lie. That is what he does. It is like asking a dog not to bark. He has always claimed that oil companies were not involved or consulted in his energy plan. But, it also appears that Republicans gave the oil execs a chance to lie also before congress, also. When the CEO's were specifically asked bout the issue, they all said either "no" or "I don't know."

Why would Cheney lie about this? Because the law states that when non-governmental persons participate in a government task force, the notes of that task force must be made public. The intent is to stop under the table or closed door deals because we get to see what private citizens are advising the government on. But then again, transparency in government has never been a big concern to the Bush administration.

How to be a Moron by George W. Bush

Hello all,

You may know me. I am the president of these here United States of America. I would like to speak to you today about an issues very close to my heart - Moronicism.

Have you ever wanted to be a moron? Well kids, if you ever did hold that dream, you have come to the right place. I have been perfecting the art moronicism for many decades and I want to pass on my moronicalness to you so you can also be a moron.

You may say to yourself - but George, isn't being a moron tough work? Yes, it is hard work, but you can over come that by hard work and confidence. I get up every morning, look in the mirror and say to myself, "Georgie-boy, you are the biggest moron in this whole wide world and no one can stop you. Now get out there and prove how moronic you are."

I like to prove how moronic I am at least once a day. Let me give you some fer instances:

Take my speech yesterday when I visited the country of Asia. It is a strange and mysterious place where the people are so different that they genetically never developed the ability to say the letter R... but look at me. I digress. When I was in Asia, I gave a speech to all the leaders in Asia. I got up there and told one country, China, that it needed to be more like this other country, also called China, but a different China... I think. I guess in the other China's dialect, they pronounce it Taiwan. Anyhoo, one is the big mainland China, and the other is a small island China. They used to be one country a long time ago, but they don't like each other now.

The big China still considers the island of Taiwan to be part of big mainland China and thinks of Taiwan as a renegade province, not an independent country. Big China has threatened to invade Taiwan if they ever try to assert their independence from big China. The one consistant message big China has always sent is not to interfere with their dealings with Taiwan.

Kinda sounds like big China is a big meanie, doesn't it? Well, they definitely are. They abuse and kill their own people and their citizens don't get to vote on their leaders. And China doesn't get along with many people in the world either. It hates the British, the French, Russians, Japanese, etc. Why? Because these countries all used to be imperial powers that from time to time subjugated China and killed her people. Those Chinese sure have a long memory, don't they kids? One of the reasons the U.S. has always had a good relationship with the Chinese is because we are one of the few big countries not to ever have had an imperial presence there. Chinese leaders even believe that having good relations with us was one of their most important goals even after they became communists in 1954.

But, the situation is much more complicated than it appears. You see, China is also one of our biggest trading partners. Almost everything you can buy at wal-mart was produced in China. China and the U.S. are very interdependent on each other economically. China also helps us out a lot on diplomatic and economic issues when we put a little pressure on them. They know that they need us more than we need them, so they often do they things we ask even if it doesn't seem that way on the surface. Take North Korea for instance. North Korea is a really, really bad meanie who is developing nuclear weapons to vaporize your mommy and little sister. We have been trying to get North Korea to stop doing this for quite some time now. Unfortunately, I had another moron, John Bolton, as the head of the negotiations, so nothing happened for 4 long years. But we got China to cut of North Korea's oil supply in April of 2005 which helped force North Korea back to the negotiating table. Without China's help, negotiations with North Korea are nearly impossible.

So, how was saying China should be more like Taiwan such a moronic move? Because Taiwan is China's biggest thorn in its side you could possibly imaging. How big of a thorn is it? Well, lets put it this way. It would be like people pointing and laughing at us and saying 50,000 dead American soldiers is what we deserved for fighting the Viet Nam war. There is not a possible insult worse than saying what I said to China in their eyes. I could have not chosen a government in the entire world that would have been worse to say China should be like. I could have said "you should be more like Kerzecimeccablachistan," and it would have been better. Ah, I'm just joshing with you. Kerzecimeccablachistan ain't really a country... At least that is what Conddie tells me.

My little moronic blunder could seriously jeopardize the bigger issue of national security and stopping North Korea from building more nukes. It may have jeopardized our ability to push China to liberalize its market economy and to help keep jobs here at home so you daddy can put food on the table and you don't have to eat dog food for dinner.

Yes, I could have said many things, but I chose to say the most moronic thing possible to throw the biggest insult possible at a country that we really, really need right now. It is like calling you little sister a big poopie head right after she caught you stealing from the cookie jar and you have to then try to convince her not to tell mom and dad. Only a moron would call her a big poopie head in such a situation. I am that moron.

That, kids, is how you prove you are a moron. Say the exactly worse thing at the exactly worse time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Altio and his Anti-Abortion Job App.

something weird is going on here and it is making me ill at ease. Yesterday, a memo written by Judge Alito in 1985 firmly states that he is against abortion and believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. I don't want to get into the discussion of "has he changed" will he show "deference to precedence" here. But what is making me nervous is the lack of jubilation from the wingnuts. It is like what parents with kids will always tell you - when there is silence in the house, you know something or someone is up to no good.

Wingnutters, throw me something here... give be a big WA-HOO or something.

Alito abortion remarks concern some

And another thing... If Alito was not really as adamantly against abortion as he now says he was, does that mean he lied to get a job?

Bush in the Hole

Reports of this have always popping up from time to time about Bush's hostility to adverse opinion. In the last six months, reports have become more and more frequent of Bush's self imposed exile from the outside world. There have been report after report that Bush has become more and more unbearably hostile to those he works with. Unverifiable quotes from Capitol Hill Blue include:

According to it, the worried White House aides describe Bush as a man on the edge increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home. "It reminds me of the Nixon days," it quoted a long time GOP political consultant as saying adding "Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That's the mood over there...

One troubled aide was quoted as saying: "The mood here is that we're under siege, there's no doubt about it. In this administration, you don't have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President." He added that he was looking for work elsewhere to avoid Bush's remarks...

Two weeks ago, Capitol Hill Blue revealed that a growing number of White House aides are concerned about the President's mental stability. They told harrowing tales of violent mood swings, bouts with paranoia and obscene outbursts from a President who wears his religion on his sleeve.

The latest reports are that an large strain has been placed on the relationship between Bush and Cheney over the Libby indictment - Dubya-Cheney ties frayed by scandal - and that he is rarely even talking to Cheney these days.

The reports continued today with Bush in the bunker: Reduces access, rarely speaks to father. We already knew that relations were strained between Bush and his father over his foreign policy decisions. The article reports that Bush has closed himself off to all but four people (first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes) and has even stopped talking to his father because he believes his father was behind the Skowcroft attack on Juniors foreign policy.

Paranoia has been reported and "Bush is living from hour to hour," said a senior Republican source who visits the White House frequently. I don't know if things are as bad as reported, but knowing his dissatisfaction with dissent, I can only imagine. His slow and steady unhingement has been apparent in his public speeches. The confident swagger is gone, replaced by an almost instinctive defensiveness. I really can't condemn his for his growing paranoia. His polls are abismal, his reputation as honest is shattered, and there are actually people out there trying to get him.

If he is ever going to get himself out of this hole, he needs to shake things up and get outside the box. Fresh ideas, fresh faces. He is going to have to get out of the self imposed bubble before he pops.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pat Robertson - Tsumani Will Wipe Our Dover, PA

I seriously wonder if people watch the 700 club for spiritual guidance, or is it for the same reasons people watched Jerry Springer - in order to reaffirm that we (the viewers) are not the dumbest or least sane people on the planet. Every time Pat opens his mouth, it becomes more apparent that it is the latter (at least I hope so).

Pat had this to say about the people of Dover, PA, who voted out all of the Republican school board members that had been pushing intelligent design into the curriculum.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

It hurts... oh, it hurts so much. Please! Someone put him out of my misery!

Televangelist Robertson warns town of God's wrath

Update: Just a thought - Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas all voted for Bush and/or banned gay marriage and have all had hurricanes... The heathen North East has been free of natural disastrous for years and years... just a coincidence, Pat???

Updated Update: Robertson calls for the assasination of Dover. Pa.

A Clarification on My Stance on the War

I received a comment from Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy the other day in regards to fundraising she was doing for injured vets. Beth and I diverge vastly on many issues. She loves Bush. I hate him. She believes in the conservative model, I believe in the liberal agenda. She is SEC, I am Big 10. She believes that Barry Manilow is the greatest musician of all time, while I don't think anyone will ever come close to matching MC Hammer's raw talent.

But, there are also some things we do agree on. Classic coke over New Coke, Pat Robertson and Micheal Moore are both idiots, and Penn State is a much better football team than Alabama. We also both believe that reasoned discourse, even if in disagreement, is both healthy and patriotic.

Any time some wingnut gives you shit about the war ("support the troops, not the war" or whatever), you let me know. Not that you need it, but I've got your back. :-)

After reading her comment, I think I need to clarify my position on the war in Iraq. I fully support the troops, and I, very reluctantly, support the Iraq war. I never thought we should have invaded in the first place. Unfortunately, all of my predictions came true. No weapons were found. We were not accepted with the open arms Rummy claimed we would. We have provided terrorist with a real life training, getting them out of those dusty camps in Afghanistan. We have ignored Afghanistan at crucial times. And, we are now seen as the big bully on the block and not the benevolent big brother.

The Iraq war was the ill conceived theoretics of a groups of people who still believe that trickle down economics actually is a viable model. This was as much to do with the Neo-con idea that they could restructure the middle east as it was to do with oil, WMD, and getting rid of a tyrant. Unfortunately and as usual, Neo-con theory is as based as much in reality as the Easter Bunny or Keanu Reeves belief he can act. In order for the Iraq war to have ever progressed as envisioned by the neo-cons, we would first have had to completely secure, rebuild, and then leave Afghanistan. Only after we had provided a smaller scale model, learning from our mistakes, and fully withdrawing to show that occupation was only a means to an end, could we have invaded Iraq as successfully as they envisioned. Instead, the Neo-cons got too greedy and moved too quickly.

I have no doubt that Bush honestly believed that he would find WMDs in Iraq once we invaded. I also believe that he knew that his intelligence was not as solid as he presented it. And, for the record, no, Senators do not get the same intel as the president. They never have and never will (not would we ever want them to), so please stop making that claim. You are just making yourself look foolish.

I believe that this war was going to happen one way or another. This was obvious due to Bush's ever increasing demands on Saddam. It started with weapons inspectors and culminated in Bush demanding that Saddam leave the country. Bush knew that Saddam would capitulate to the weapons inspectors (as he did), but would never capitulate to leaving his thrown. Thus, even if inspectors had access to every inch of Iraq, the Neo-cons were going to get their war one way or another so they could finally play their version of a real life sim-city. I really whish they would have contacted me first. I would have gladly bought them a copy for $19.99 for them to play with instead of the $300 + billion version they opted for.

Unfortunately, invading Iraq was like crossing the Rubicon. There is not turning back until we have forced Rome into submission. I do not support pulling troops out of Iraq any time soon. This will come at a great cost to out treasury and American life. But Bush has committed us, for good or bad, to a war that we are stuck with until we have accomplished our objective. Pulling out now, as much as I would like to, would prove even more disastrous that sticking it out for the next 5 to 10 years.

But, at the same time I personally support the war, I also support the right of any American to stand up and speak out against the war. Anyone who does is neither un-patriotic nor do they "love terrorist" as many people on the right will claim. As much as those on the right might dislike the long haired hippie types, they have as much right to speak out against a war they never agreed with, as a supporters of the war has a right to speak in favor of it. It is only those on the right and left who wish to silence their opponents who are un-patriotic.

On the flip side, I will not support anyone on the left who claims that American soldiers are baby killers or other sort of mass murderers. Undoubtedly, things that could be classified as "war crimes" have been committed and will continue to be committed in Iraq. I know there are many out there that will never believe this, but the rest of based in reality know that there has never been a war where atrocities have not occurred. It was tough on me when I first acknowledged that my parents had sex, but I moved on. Denial doesn't cange reality.

While any suffering of innocent civilians is always a tragedy, to the great credit of our US troops, there has probably been far less committed in this war than in any prior war in human history. While no tragedy is ever completely excusable, overall, our troops have fought one of the most humane wars that is possible given the fact that war is never, ever humane. I will not condone tactics that will intentionally inflict harm to civilians. Nor will I restrict our troops from using necessary force to ensure that they come home alive to their spouses and children. Leave it to the enemy to be martyrs. I want out troops to be able to march as soon as possible in their home town veterans day parade. At the same time, I will continue to demand from our civilian and military leaders that they do every thing possible to kill enemy, and only the enemy. For our leaders to knowing commit atrocities is never acceptable. The decisions made from HQ is never comparable to decisions made from a foxhole.

So, in summation, I, like many other Americans, are reluctant supporters of the war. That is why it is imperative that Bush and his administration stop trying to blow smoke up our ass, get some new leadership (Rummy) with respectability and integrity, and get their act together. It would be a lot easier for me to support the war if I had leaders, whom themselves, were worth supporting.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Moronic Right Wing Media

Cliff Kincaid, right wing nut case, ironically writes a story about journalistic ethics, attacking Time Magazine because they had a homosexual write a story about a homosexual issue:

In a blatant violation of journalistic ethics, Time magazine assigned a homosexual reporter, John Cloud, to write the recent Time cover story on homosexual teenagers but did not disclose his conflict of interest to its readers. The story, The Battle Over Gay Teens, was the cover story in the October 10 issue.

So, Mr, Kincaid. Every time a straight report rights a story about a homosexual issue, do they have to disclose that they are heterosexual and thusly have a conflict of interest and are biased against homosexuals... because, obviously if they are straight, how on God's earth could they be objective when writing about homosexuals?

I guess every time an African-American writes a story about race or poverty affecting minorities they should disclose their obvious bias in favor of the minority perspective. Inversely, every time that a white male writes a story about minority affairs, they should disclose that they have a conflict of interest and could never write an un-biased story, because obviously they would be automatically anti-minority due to the conflict of interest.

Shouldn't a Christian disclose their religion and obvious bias every time they right a story about Islam?

Mr. Kincaid is writing a story about journalistic ethics. Shouldn't he disclose his conflicts of interst since he has none himself?

Project Valour IT

Update to prior post: for veterans day, please consider donating to Project Valour - IT. I believe today is the last day.


Beth and MacStansbury over at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy are helping out with Project Valour-IT, a new project within Soldiers Angels that is working to provide laptops and voice software to our soldiers wounded with hand/arm injuries that cannot use their hands to type or write letters.

Beth and I disagree with each other on almost all issues with one very big exception - the support of our troops who have served with honor and dignity. While it is neither un-patriotic to agree or disagree with the war in Iraq, the support of our troops is non-debatable.

So, please pay Beth and/or Project Valour a visit and donate if you can.

Clarification on the White Phosphorus Debate

There is a lot of talk about whether or not White Phosphorus is a chemical weapon and whether or not it can be used in military operation. I want to set the record straight on this.

First - yes, white phosphorus is a banned weapon under international law. That means any use of white phosphorus cannot be used in any situation, whether it be for smoke or on hard targets (trucks, etc). The U.S. is not a signatory to that part of the Geneva convention.

Second - The U.S. is a party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Protocol III - Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.

The U.S. can use WP as a smoke marker, or against a hard target. It can use it as an incendiary weapon deployed by artillery or air craft as long as it is not in a civilian area, and, it is not being used as a weapon against people. If the primary use of WP is to kill people, it is not allowed to be used as a weapon in either a civilian area or not. If it is being used to stop trucks or to mark targets, it can be used in a civilian area if and only if it can be specifically targeted. The entire issues (legally) turns on the question of what was the primary use of the WP and how it was delivered.

Third - regardless of legality of using WP in Fallujah, the question still remains, was it the right thing to do in a civilian area.

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
Protocol III
Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.
Geneva, 10 October 1980
Article 1

For the purpose of this Protocol:

1. Incendiary weapon" means any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons through the action of flame, heat, or combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target. (a) Incendiary weapons can take the form of, for example, flame throwers, fougasses, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary substances.
(b) Incendiary weapons do not include:
(i) Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling systems;
(ii) Munitions designed to combine penetration, blast or fragmentation effects with an additional incendiary effect, such as armour-piercing projectiles, fragmentation shells, explosive bombs and similar combined-effects munitions in which the incendiary effect is not specifically designed to cause burn injury to persons, but to be used against military objectives, such as armoured vehicles, aircraft and installations or facilities.

2. Concentration of civilians" means any concentration of civilians, be it permanent or temporary, such as in inhabited parts of cities, or inhabited towns or villages, or as in camps or columns of refugees or evacuees, or groups of nomads.

3. Military objective" means, so far as objects are concerned, any object which by its nature, location, purpose or use makes an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.

4. Civilian objects" are all objects which are not military objectives as defined in paragraph 3.
Feasible precautions" are those precautions which are practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.

Article 2
Protection of civilians and civilian objects

1. It is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population as such, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons.
It is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons.

2. It is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.

3. It is prohibited to make forests or other kinds of plant cover the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural elements are used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives, or are themselves military objectives.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Willy Pete and the Rest of the Gang

There is a lot of news today, but to be honest, I don't have much heart for opinion writing today after I found out that the US military did in fact use white phosphorus in Falluja as a chemical weapon. March-April Field Artillery Magazine ran an article recounting the offensive by a Army Captain, 1st Lt. and Sergeant 1st class.

"WP [i.e., white phosphorus rounds] proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired 'shake and bake' missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

I had seen the the video showing the use of white phosphorus, also know and Willy Pete by field techs, but I still wanted to believe that there was another explanation... I didn't believe the initial reports that was used as a weapon, passing it off as some far left wing conspiracy was just burn off from other munitions, or only being used for illumination. But once again, my hopes were dashed. White phosphorus is a banned chemical weapon by the Geneva Convention because it burns the skin off of people. And, once it mixes with water, it turns into a poisonous gas. The use of WP in civilian areas is un-excusable. I think this sums it up for me:

I think the United States should avoid dropping munitions on civilian neighborhoods which, as a side effect, melt the skin off of children. You can call them "chemical weapons" if you must, or far more preferably by the more proper name of "incendiaries". The munitions may or may not precisely melt the skin off of children by setting them on fire; they do melt the skin off of children, however, through robust oxidation of said skin on said children, which is indeed colloquially known as "burning". But let's try to avoid, for now, the debate over the scientific phenomenon of exactly how the skin is melted, burned, or caramelized off of the aforementioned children. I feel quite confident that others have put more thought into the matter of how to melt the skin off of children than I have, and will trust their judgment on the matter.

Now, I know that we may be melting the skin off of children in order to give them freedom, or to prevent Saddam Hussein from possibly melting the skins off of those children at some future date. These are good and noble things to bring children, especially the ones who have not been killed by melting their skin. - Hunter D

It is growing more and more difficult to support a war that I never agreed with in the first place. So, please, if you plan on leaving a comment that defends or condones the use of WP as a weapon in civilian areas - Don't. I just really don't need to hear any of that crap today.

In other news, Jack Abramoff is still making news - Lobbyist Sought $9 Million to Set Bush Meeting -

The lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked for $9 million in 2003 from the president of a West African nation to arrange a meeting with President Bush and directed his fees to a Maryland company now under federal scrutiny, according to newly disclosed documents. The African leader, President Omar Bongo of Gabon, met with President Bush in the Oval Office on May 26, 2004, 10 months after Mr. Abramoff made the offer.

WoPo also has a story about the Abramoff investigation - August in Libreville?

As I suspected in my post from yesterday, Senator Frist and Congressman Hastert may have opened up a can of whoopass on themselves - Senator Seeks to Defer Probe of CIA Prison Leak.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said he will "respectfully" request that Senate Frist back off a strongly worded demand that a bicameral investigation into the disclosure be convened immediately. This is after revelations that it may have been one of their own Republican Senators probably was the leaker. With seemingly half of the Republicans in Congress either indicted or under investigation, roasting one of their own is probably not on the top of their agenda. Curiously, both of the leaders are more concerned about the leak than about the fact that we do indeed have secret prisons - Frist Worried About Leak, Not Prisons - or that Frist is one of only 9 Senators to vote against a ban on torture. I guess he is more concerned about keeping torture secret than actually stopping from happening.

On the same note, Roll Call's Paul Kane has an angry Sen. Trent Lott saying the Vice President should no longer be allowed to discuss sensitive topics at weekly party luncheons. It doesn't seem that anyone can keep their mouths shut these days... So much for being strong on national security.

Of course, I would still like to know that if we don't commit torture as Bush says, why is he and Cheney so opposed to a ban on it. No one in my apartment building has ever intentionally tried to burn it down, but I still have no problem about there being a law against it... I guess I am just funny that way. And please stop with the "but what if there was a bomb timed to go off in 20 hours." I think if that extreme scenario were to present itself the president could easily stand up and take responsibility for it and no one would hold him adversely responsible. I highly doubt that the Congress would impeach on such an extreme situation. If Bush went on TV and said, "today, I authorized the use of torture on a terrorist who had information about a nuclear bomb set to detonate in the US in the next 24 hours" only the extreme of the extreme would have a problem with that. 99% of Americans would not only forgive him, but thank him. But, torturing a man who might know someone who might know someone who might have a list of other terrorist is too far removed to justify torture. Sorry, but it just is.

I also find it interesting that McCain, who spent seven years being tortured and knows the actual effects of torture is so oppsed by Cheney who received 5 deferments for Viet Nam.

On the Alito front, Democrats are looking at a 2002 case where there may have been a cause for Alito to recuse himself, but did not - Democrats Query Nominee On Ethics. Apparently, Alito had a lot of money invested with Vanguard and still decided a case where Vanguard was the defendant.

I am sure we have all seen the Republican bluff to look like they care about high gas prices in ways other than just getting re-elected - Senate grills Big Oil, but answers lie elsewhere. Just like with the tobacco CEO's the Republicans dragged the Oil CEOs in front of the Senate, but refused to swear them in. Basically, Senator Stevens of Alaska gave to the Oil companies an opportunity to lie in front of the American people while Republicans could look like they gave a rats ass. Testifying in front of congress without being sworn in is about as useless as you can get. But then again, so is Senator Stevens.

Update: Tommy has provided me with some links that are suspicious of the claims that the US military used WP as a weapon. I have read them all. Some of the claims might have some merit, but others are quite bunk. I am still not convinced one way or the other on this. If you would like to do your own further reading from the opposing view point, here are the links here, here, here, here and here

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The French Riots - Why Won't They Learn?

Now, I'll be the first to admit that France and many other EU countries have a lot of problems. I have seen a tremendous amount of bloggers talking about the riots in France and how it is emblematic of much deeper problems with French social policy and economic structure. Bloggers have been using the riots to attack France on all sorts of policy and societal issues. France has taken all of this negative criticism bitterly, which seems to have fueled the critics attacks even more because it lends to the idea that the French might be a bit snooty and arrogant.

That's what I love America. Because, I am sure that if any of our allies ever had harsh criticism about our policies, we would never get defensive, call our friends traitors, start boycotts against their beverages, or re-name food to spite them. We would never turn a deaf ear to our critics and say "you are with us or you are against us," or "you have no right to criticize us, we always know what is right." We, in America, take all criticism constructively. We would listen to our friends and try to learn from their different perspective, even if in the end we decided not to agree with them. That is what makes us so much better than them. We would never hold to the illusions that we are infallible or anything.

Additionally, it is a good thing to know that we would never gloss over the fact that we have had numerous riots in the U.S. by disgruntled/disenfranchised groups when criticizing the French riots and the causes. That would be just darn ol' hypocritical.

GOP Jumps the Shark

For those of you who do not know what jumping the shark means, it is the term given to the episode of any long running TV show when the show begins its downward slide into cancellation. Specifically, it refers to the Happy Days episode where Fonzi jumps over a shark on water skis. Most shows, it is marked when they bring on a new cast member to try to get new blood and a new storyline going. For the Brady Bunch, it was when they brought in cousin Oliver. similarly, the Cosby Show jumped the shark when it brought in cousin Olivia. Other shows, it is with the death of a character, like the death of Dr. Greene on ER. Jumping the shark is not an exact science, and many people will disagree when the show actually jumped.

The Republican Congressinoal Ledership may have very well just jumped the shark yesterday. I am sure that many people would argue that the GOP jumped the shark long ago. But if it didn't, I think it may have done so now.

Senate Leader Frist, and House Leader Hastert came out swinging yesterday, calling for a full investigation into the leak of information regarding the secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe. I will put aside the fact that they completely glossed over us even having a secret prison. That is an issue entirely in and of itself. But I will note that after they came out condemning the leak, Senator Trent Lott was quick to point out that the leak probably came from the Republicans themselves.

Another Republican, Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, said that senators from his party might have given information to the Post. Lott told reporters that the existence of the prison system was discussed last week at the Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, which was attended by Vice President Dick Cheney and held the day before the Post published its report.

"Information that was said in there, given out in there, did get into the newspaper," Lott said. "I don't know where else it came from…. It looked to me that at least one of those reports came right out of that room."

Trying to stop the leaking of top secret information, of course, is not a bad thing. We do have to protect our national security. But, Frist's and Hastert's quick public reaction not only opens them up to more criticism for opposing a ban on US torture of prisoners, but could expose the party to further tarnishment of its already sullied reputation. They have put themselves in a loose-loose situation. If they back off the investigation, they look like they are trying to cover the tracks of a party already pummeled by another leak investigation. If they go forward and find it was one of their own, they could be delivering a knock out blow to themselves.

This could be the political blunder that cost Frist and Hastert their leadership positions. When you come out swinging, make sure you know what your are trying to hit.

GOP Leaders Urge Prison Leak Inquiry

C.I.A. Asks Criminal Inquiry Over Secret-Prison Article

GOP Leaders Urge Probe in Prisons Leak

2005 Election Round Up

Overall, it was a resounding victory for Democrats yesterday on many fronts.

In New Jersey, Democrat nominee Jon Corzine easily defeated Republican nominee Doug Forrester by more than the expected margin.

Virginians elected Democrat Timothy Kaine over Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore yesterday as the state's next governor, choosing him to continue the centrist legacy of popular Gov. Mark R. Warner. It turns out that Bush's last minute stop in Virginia actually helped to bring out more Kaine supporters. I wonder if the DNC will start paying for Bush's travel expenses to "go help" more Republicans in 2006.

The social conservative Republicans that tried to push Intelligent Design on the Dover School system were all swept off of the Dover School Board by Democrat challengers. Of all the 16 candidates, Mr. Bonsell, the driving force behind the intelligent design policy, recieved the fewest votes.

The proposition in Maine to repeal anti-discrimination laws against homosexuals was defeated.

All of California Governor Arnold's propositions were routed. Some of the props I actually agreed with (especially the redistricting prop), but I was glad some of the others went down in flames.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the Democratic Mayor that backed Bush was crushed by fellow Democrat Chris Coleman 69% to 31%

The two defeats to Democrats were expected. In Texas, they passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage (no surprise there). And, Mayor Bloomberg easily won a second term in NYC. I have recently changed residency, so could not vote in NYC, but I probably would have voted for Bloomberg myself. He is a social progressive and would be considered a flaming liberal in states like Mississippi, so I don't really consider that a defeat.