Saturday, May 21


Wingnut radio hosts want to burn down Newsweek and WaPo (owner of Newsweek). Michael Isikoff and Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. (owner of the NY Times) are traitors and should be executed, says Michael Savage, host of The Savage Nation. Hannity and the crew are foaming at the mouth about the evils of mainstream journalism. In the past few days I've heard some of the ugliest, hate-filled speech I can ever remember, and it's all because the press ONCE IN A WHILE doesn't cooperate with the right-wing's systematic attempts to control all the information the American public and the world receive about this administration and the consequences of its policies.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

The Founding Fathers obviously agreed. The VERY FIRST amendment to the Constitution included protections for the press: "Congress shall make no law ...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Note there are no exceptions for times of war or other national crises; it reads NO LAW.

Republicans and other right-wingers are waging a kind of jihad against our media, while the world asks, "How can the Americans not already know these things?" It seems they are better informed and better served by their media than we are. And they know where the blame for the recent riots in Muslim countries should more properly be levied.

I'm constantly amazed at how abysmally uninformed some of the brightest people I know seem to be about current events at a time when our nation is in crisis and the entire world threatens to erupt in flames. But then I reflect that that may be precisely why they are the way they are. Our people are so full of fear that they find it easier to carry on their lives if they're not daily faced with another looming disaster or outrage. It's why they're more interested in Michael Jackson's trial or the tale of a runaway bride -- those kinds of reports offer no threat to their own lives. The Bush administration and its allies have successfully reduced our populace to quivering wusses, and the people would just as soon the media not intrude upon their protective bubbles of cognitive dissonance.

Even as the furor fades, the specter of self-censorship weighs heavily on the U.S. press. Journalists are now under intense pressure to avoid reporting other items about abuses in detention that might incur the wrath of the White House, or be used by as kindling by radical politicians in the Muslim world. The silence of a free press about the U.S. record of detention abuses, and how this abuse has hurt America's standing abroad, would be yet another tragedy to add to the lives lost in the riots.

Thursday, May 19


Bush's Bud.

When not personally gunning down his opposition, Karimov keeps busy by instructing his security forces to boil, rape or asphyxiate political prisoners.

Luckily for Karimov, he's a key US ally in the war on terror.

An ally in the war on terror??? The man IS a terrorist! The hypocrisy surrounding the administration's embrace of this thug, the new Saddam Hussein, is reminiscent of our history of support for brutal tyrants UNTIL we decide its against our own interests. But hey! If we speak out against the tragedies in Uzbekistan, where will we go to "rendition" our terror suspects? If Karimov can't get the info out of ya, nobody can, right?

Heated criticism was growing last night over 'double standards' by Washington over human rights, democracy and 'freedom' as fresh evidence emerged of just how brutally Uzbekistan, a US ally in the 'war on terror', put down Friday's unrest in the east of the country.

Outrage among human rights groups followed claims by the White House on Friday that appeared designed to justify the violence of the regime of President Islam Karimov, claiming - as Karimov has - that 'terrorist groups' may have been involved in the uprising.

Critics said the US was prepared to support pro-democracy unrest in some states, but condemn it in others where such policies were inconvenient.

Witnesses and analysts familiar with the region said most protesters were complaining about government corruption and poverty, not espousing Islamic extremism.

Bush speaking a couple of weeks ago in Latvia:

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations, appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability," the president said.

I would wonder how he sleeps at night, only I know the answer: he doesn't have a clue what's happening in the world. He's an empty suit of clothes who just knows and does what Karl and Dick tell him.

Tuesday, May 17


From an Alabama newspaper editorial:

Politics have no place in America's churches. Politics will destroy the holiness of civilization's greatest institution if Americans don't stop this dangerous movement.

Church congregations are allowing their leaders to grow calluses on Christ's greatest commandments. It's difficult to love God with all of one's heart, soul and mind, and your neighbor as yourself when ministers persecute non-conforming Christians.

Not to mention people of other faiths, agnostics and atheists.

Hat tip to Public Christian.


Pelosi speaks:

"Democrats are setting forth the new ethical standard containing these six principles:

* Ban Members from accepting any gifts from lobbyists.

* Ban Members from secretly working with corporate lobbyists to write legislation.

* Ban lobbying by Members of Congress and high level staff for two years after leaving Congress.

* Enforce the ban on Members and staff soliciting privately-funded travel.

* Ban lobbyists from arranging and financing travel.

* End the 'K Street Project' - ban Members and staff from threatening lobbyists with official actions."

These are so reasonable and basic it's hard to understand why we're just now getting there. You'd think "no conflict of interest" would be the baseline, wouldn't you?


Riverbend says that at home she and her family refer to Condi Rice as "The Vampire," that she looks "utterly evil."

Detainees coming back after weeks or months in prison talk of being forced to eat pork, not being allowed to pray, being exposed to dogs, having Islam insulted and generally being treated like animals trapped in a small cage. At the end of the day, it's not about words or holy books or pork or dogs or any of that. It's about what these things symbolize on a personal level. It is infuriating to see objects that we hold sacred degraded and debased by foreigners who felt the need to travel thousands of kilometers to do this. That's not to say that all troops disrespect Islam- some of them seem to genuinely want to understand our beliefs. It does seem like the people in charge have decided to make degradation and humiliation a policy.

By doing such things, this war is taken to another level- it is no longer a war against terror or terrorists- it is, quite simply, a war against Islam and even secular Muslims are being forced to take sides.


The inimitable Molly Ivins:

So where does all this leave us? With a story that is not only true, but previously reported numerous times. So let's drop the "Lynch Newsweek" bull. Seventeen people have died in these riots. They didn't die because of anything Newsweek did -- the riots were caused by what our government has done.

Get your minds around it. Our country is guilty of torture. To quote myself once more: "What are you going to do about this? It's your country, your money, your government. You own this country, you run it, you are the board of directors. They are doing this in your name. The people we elected to public office do what you want them to. Perhaps you should get in touch with them."

It sounds so good, Molly, and it used to even be true. But today we DON'T own this country -- the corporations and politically-connected do. Yes, they're acting in our name, but they don't do what we want them to. They obey their most generous campaign donors. The Repugs have got a big majority in Congress, and the only ones who are horrified by the torture being committed in our name are people who didn't, and would never, vote for them, so they don't give a fig what we think.

We've got to focus on '06 and the campaign to toss the rascals out. It's our only recourse. Take the country back.


This whole blame-Newsweek thing is just so dumb, and the magazine is even dumber for retracting its story when people all over the world are saying the same thing their source told them.

The LA Times gets it right:

The more interesting question may not be how Newsweek goofed, but why the Muslim world is so ready to believe the story. For all the administration's huffing and puffing about Newsweek getting the story wrong, it has produced such a catalog of misdeeds at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo that almost any allegation is instantly credited abroad. The administration itself has said that 11 soldiers have been disciplined for abusing prisoners at Gitmo.

The United States has already been convicted in the court of world opinion for its treatment of its prisoners, and that's the administration's fault, not Newsweek's. Shutting down Guantanamo and giving suspected terrorists legal protections would help restore our reputation abroad. Crowing over Newsweek's mishap won't.


Also priceless. Read his whole rant.

Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.

Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.
Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way - and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.

Monday, May 16


Look, does anyone really believe that "Any disrespect to the Koran and any other religion is not tolerated by our culture and our values," as Col. Jim Yonts is quoted as saying? Especially among the military? At a time when we're told that our own Air Force Academy is proselytizing cadets for the religious right and harrassing non-evangelicals? When one of our most visible generals, Jerry Boykin has described the War on Terror as a "holy war against Islam"?

This whole debacle is not the result of a short paragraph in a Newsweek report, which was previously alleged in many, many other reports; it's the result of a pattern of religious warfare being waged not only against foreign cultures and non-Christian faiths, but against our own people.


Just walked into an interesting exchange on Lou Dobbs Tonight. After a discussion of the Newsweek frenzy, in a gruff, cynical manner, Lou asked reporter Ed Henry if Bush administration officials had remonstrated with Pakistani leaders for firing into a crowd protesting alleged incidents of U.S. military interrogators abusing the Koran at Gitmo. "For now, no, they're just blaming Newsweek," replied Henry. Lou harrumphed.

So typical of this take-no-responsibility-but-find-a-patsy-to-scapegoat administration.

Then Lou asked another correspondent what the administration is saying about the Iranian nuclear situation. After she replied that the U.S. is declining to comment (for what reason, I missed), then followed it with an almost-apologetic remark that that's the usual position, Lou grumphed, "The usual position, not to comment on one of the [most important issues facing us]." (My memory reconstructing the essence of his comment.)

I know we like to torture Lou from time to time, but honestly, he increasingly shows more disgust with the Bushies than most any other on-air personality. Keith Olbermann would trump him in that regard, but he has too much humor to qualify -- it's a case of disgust vs. contempt, with disgust being more impressive.

UPDATE: Lou just told Howie Kurtz that he's disturbed by the fervor of blame-Newsweek since the U.S. government hasn't condemned Pakistani government actions against its people. He asked Howie, "Do you think the context will become part of the story?" Howie doubts it, he thinks for now Newsweek IS the story. Lou shows disapproval.


You can read it here.

Clark, a former NATO commander who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination last year, said it worried him to see the military planning to close national guard armories. He said shuttering bases and moving jobs from smaller cities shatters an important connection between the military and civilians.

"Small communities lose sight of the armed forces," he said. "I like for the Army and the armed forces to be representative of the people they protect, not an elite organization."

But of course that's what Rummy's been after all this time -- an elite squad of mindless robots he can play games with. Real people are too messy, and you have to think about their needs too much.


By Li Po
Translated from the Chinese by Shigeyoshi Obata

Last year we fought by the head-stream of the So-Kan,
This year we are fighting on the Tsung-ho road.
We have washed our armor in the waves of the Chiao-chi lake,
We have pastured our horses on Tien-shan's snowy slopes.
The long, long war goes on ten thousand miles from home.
Our three armies are worn and grown old.

The barbarian does man-slaughter for plowing;
On his yellow sand-plains nothing has been seen but blanched skulls and bones.
Where the Chin emperor built the walls against the Tartars,
There the defenders of Han are burning beacon fires.
The beacon fires burn and never go out.
There is no end to war!--

In the battlefield men grapple each other and die;
The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven,
While ravens and kites peck at human entrails,
Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.
So, men are scattered and smeared over the desert grass,
And the generals have accomplished nothing.

Oh, nefarious war! I see why arms
Were so seldom used by the benign sovereigns.


Why has the press failed to cover the "story of the century"??? Can you imagine a document that proves, mind you, not suggests, that the Bush Administration took us into a bloody awful war in Iraq, killed 1600 American troops and upwards of 100,000 Iraqis, ON A WHIM AND WITH A "THIN CASE" and then "fixed the facts and intelligence around the policy" NOT being trumpeted on every news broadcast, discussed at every water cooler, and resulting in a NEW investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee that starts with this new evidence?

I'm with John Atcheson, it's time to go to our windows, stick our heads out and scream, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!"

The news media is unwilling to hold the President accountable, but we can and must hold the press accountable...

It’s time for a national boycott against newspapers who are content to ignore outrageous lies, and seem to believe an occasional mea culpa will make up for it. It’s time to write those who advertise and underwrite the likes of O’Reilly, Scarborough, Limbaugh, the Washington Times and the rest of the later day Pravda imitators and tell them, "It’s your right to advertise where you want, but as long as you underwrite lies and the lying liars who tell them, we’re not buying your stuff."

After all, as President Bush himself once said, "Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice ...uhhh... you can’t get fooled again."

Let’s do our part to make him right for once.



Has anyone seen or heard former CIA agent ?Gary Schroen on TV or radio promoting his newly released book, "First In: How the "? He's pretty credible, calm and knowledgeable (he was former station chief in both Kabul and Islamabad). He says he is surprised that the CIA has still not managed to track down Bin Laden after all this time. He's convinced he's in the tribal areas of Pakistan, but says the Pakistanis won't cooperate with us on Bin Laden -- the people of the region where he's hiding consider him a hero.

Little Tim interviewed him on MTP yesterday:

MR. RUSSERT:  How did he get away?

MR. SCHROEN:  We had done--followed the same lead we had taken since September of '01 in defeating the Taliban.  We were attacking with U.S. military forces against the al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, and we hired local tribal leaders to guard the escape routes into Pakistan.  Unfortunately, many of those people proved to be loyal to bin Laden and sympathizers with the Taliban and they allowed the key guys to escape...
MR. RUSSERT:  Should we have had [as John Kerry declared during the presidential campaign] more U.S. troops in Afghanistan circling Tora Bora to prevent his escape?

MR. SCHROEN:  In hindsight that would have been ideal.  We fought a special operations war.  It was CIA and Army Green Berets on the ground directing the bombing campaign.  It was only late in the campaign that U.S. ground forces came in, and the evolution, I think, simply we didn't take it far enough.  If we'd have had one more battle after Tora Bora, we probably would have gotten it right.

MR. RUSSERT:  Again, in October of 2004, in the presidential campaign, after John Kerry made those charges, General Tommy Franks offered this observation. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001.  ...Mr. bin Laden was never within our grasp."

You just disagree with that?

MR. SCHROEN:  I absolutely do, yes.

MR. RUSSERT:  And President Bush and Vice President Cheney all quoted General Franks, saying:  "We don't know if bin Laden was at Tora Bora."  You have no doubt.

MR. SCHROEN:  I have no doubt that he was there.

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn again to your book.  "The United States is continuing to pour billions of dollars and sacrifice the lives of American soldiers in order to bring peace and democracy to Iraq.  This is being done at the expense of Afghanistan. ... Given the total preoccupation with Iraq, I am not confident that the U.S. government will make the policy adjustments necessary to improve conditions for the success of the democratic experiment in Afghanistan, or refocus diplomatic and military efforts back to the South Asia region in order to capture Osama bin Laden and defeat al-Qa'ida.  The opportunity to make these changes exists now; if we fail in these efforts, we do so at our peril."

Are you suggesting--do you believe that Iraq is a distraction, a preoccupation, and it is really limiting our ability to capture Osama bin Laden and secure Afghanistan?

MR. SCHROEN:  I absolutely do.


The DCCC is taking the fight to Tom DeLay's district.


The answer is oil and gas.

The bodies of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Uzbekistan are scarcely cold, and already the White House is looking for ways to dismiss them. The White House spokesman Scott McClellan said those shot dead in the city of Andijan included "Islamic terrorists" offering armed resistance. They should, McClellan insists, seek democratic government "through peaceful means, not through violence".

But how? This is not Georgia, Ukraine or even Kyrgyzstan. There, the opposition parties could fight elections. The results were fixed, but the opportunity to propagate their message brought change. In Uzbek elections on December 26, the opposition was not allowed to take part at all.
The airbase opened by the US at Khanabad is not essential to operations in Afghanistan, its claimed raison d'être. It has a more crucial role as the easternmost of Donald Rumsfeld's "lily pads" - air bases surrounding the "wider Middle East", by which the Pentagon means the belt of oil and gas fields stretching from the Middle East through the Caucasus and central Asia. A key component of this strategic jigsaw fell into place this spring when US firms were contracted to build a pipeline to bring central Asia's hydrocarbons out through Afghanistan to the Arabian sea. That strategic interest explains the recent signature of the US-Afghan strategic partnership agreement, as well as Bush's strong support for Karimov.

So the Uzbek people can keep on dying. They are not worth a lot of cash, so who cares?


As pointed out on Daily Kos, this blame-Newsweek theme that's being run with is an absurd smokescreen. We already knew from several sources, before the Newsweek allegation, that interrogators at Gitmo had disrespected the Koran and the religious practices of the Muslims detained there, most egregiously. So now Newsweek confesses that its source for the report isn't sure anymore exactly where he saw the confirmation of the allegations. He doesn't say he didn't see it at all. And mindful of Rathergate, they're backpedaling as fast as they can.

The flak reminds me of when Woodward and Bernstein, reporting on the Watergate scandal for WaPo, got their behinds kicked by the Nixonites and their media competitors for erroneously reporting that Hugh Sloan had named Haldeman to the Grand Jury as one of the inner circle of the Committee to Re-elect the President controlling the huge slush fund. When Haldeman denied having told that to the Grand Jury, Woodstein went back and asked him, what did we get wrong about the story? Sloan told them, I never told you I named him to the Grand Jury. I told you I WOULD HAVE named him to the Grand Jury. But they didn't ask.

In other words, the essence of the story was solid. Haldeman, among others, DID control the slush fund, and he was later indicted, convicted and served time. Just as in Rathergate, the story was patently true. It was the sourcing that was troublesome.

In the old Woodstein glory days, editor Ben Bradlee insisted on at least two sources confirming the same reporting. This practice of relying on a single anonymous source is irresponsible and a career-breaker. And lazy journalists after a scoop are going to keep getting reamed for the practice. But in the Newsweek case, I don't get why they didn't do a little research and include those who had already gone on the record with the same allegations so they could avoid the single-source charge. Are they even lazier than we think?

Sunday, May 15


Little Russ actually called the Republican threat to change the rules of filibuster "the nuclear option."

David Broder says the senior senators don't want to see the Senate change, it's the youngsters, especially those who've come over from the House, who are anxious to see this go ahead. He says the pressures on them from outside groups, and the White House, are enormous. So he imagines that if the Dems filibuster, the Rethugs will vote for the rules change.

On Bolton: BBC's Katty Kay reflected that the foreign press feels the Bolton nomination sends a message from Bush. "Why," she says they ask, "would Bush deliberately choose someone so hostile to the world community, international law and the U.N. itself?" She speculates that a Bolton confirmation (which she and the rest of the panel expect) will foster more anti-Americanism. Broder thinks a 52-48 vote on Bolton will send a message to Bush that there are limits to how far he can push the Senate, and hopes Bush will heed the message.

Little Russ played excerpts from the Tom DeLay tribute dinner. WSJ's Paul Gigot says the Rethugs have forgotten why they were sent to the House, to sweep it clean. It was "very embarrassing" when they tried to change the ethics rules.

The panel got giggles about the "odd couples," Bush I and Bill Clinton, Hillary and Newt. Katty Kay thinks it's all upside for Hillary but problematic for Newt's wingnut followers. Broder points out that this isn't the first time Newt has shown willingness to work with the Dems when he cares about the issue. WaPo's Gene Robinson states that this is probably more a matter of each borrowing each other's "star power."

Re Tony Blair's recent re-election, Katty Kay reports that the only question in Britain is not if, but when Blair will step aside. The party has won, they've just got to find another leader.


That partisan whore, Speaker Tom Craddick of the Texas House, refused to appoint a single Democrat or minority representative to the panel charged with working with the Texas Senate on reconciliation re the crucial school finance bill.


Frank Rich is on. And you'll want to read the entire thing.


Outstanding summary of our military failures in Iraq:

The greatest failure of the US in Iraq is not that mistakes were made but that its political system has proved incapable of redressing them. Neither Mr Rumsfeld nor his lieutenants have been sacked. Paul Wolfowitz, under-secretary of defence and architect of the war, has been promoted to the World Bank.

Almost exactly a century ago the Russian empire fought a war with Japan in the belief that a swift victory would strengthen the powers-that-be in St Petersburg. Instead the Tsar's armies met defeat. Russian generals, who said that their tactic of charging Japanese machine guns with sabre-wielding cavalry had failed only because their men had attacked with insufficient brio, held their jobs. In Iraq, American generals and their political masters of demonstrable incompetence are not fired. The US is turning out to be much less of a military and political superpower than the rest of the world had supposed.

It can't be said too often, since the truth of it still hasn't sunk in, not with the Bush administration and not even with many Democratic politicians: Iraq is a VietNam-like quagmire. You can't win a war without the popular support of the people. The neocons intended for a display of military might in Iraq to cower our enemies; instead, the opposite is taking place. Our enemies are thinking that the big bully USA hasn't nearly the punch they thought we had.