Saturday, November 26


I'm ready to be honest with a thought I've had for some time now.

The Global War On Terror is a fraud designed, or at least being used by the current administration, to change the face of America and the world.

There have been terrorist activities for as long as l have been alive. The periodic acts of various violent political groups have provided fodder for many films, from Black Sunday to True Lies. There was Baider-MeinhofOne by one, the groups faded from the national, and world, consciousness. Not until 9/11 did we let terrorism, and the threat of terrorism, change the way we live, think, and conduct our government. It's ironic that the Soviet threat, which was much greater, failed to change the way America thinks and acts, but that single act of Bin Laden's small, rootless group so frightened us that we have become a different nation, one heading for that which would be unrecognizable and unfathomable by the founding fathers.

Why the difference? I believe that, like so many things, it's a result of the leadership we had in place at the time of 9/11. Another president, another administration, would have led the nation in grieving but would have insisted that the country, and the world, vow that the acts of madmen and bad men will never dictate the course of our future. Instead, our faux cowboy president set out to remake our country in the very mold that is most likely to nurture more unrest, insecurity and ultimately terrorism. The fact that our costly misadventures are necessarily reducing our opportunities to enact needed reforms in healthcare, education, and environmental safety, and destabilizing our economy, is just an added benefit to an administration determined to secure an oligarchy of the wealthy and connected.

Never before in the entire history of the United States has a single presidential administration affected such abrupt alterations in our laws, attitudes, and discourse. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their enablers are a poison that may take decades to eradicate from our brain food supply.

9/11 was a terrible, terrible day. The unthinkable happened. And I am not suggesting that it could not happen again. I AM suggesting that our course since then has not been designed to prevent another occurrence since, four years later, our borders are still unsecured; our intelligence and national law enforcement agencies are in disarray and prosecuting on the basis of public relations, not national security; the monies allotted to our states for anti-terrorism protection are distributed not by likelihood of attack but by the rules of pork; and our military is being destroyed by inept civilian leadership and an unrelated and disastrous ideological misadventure in the Middle East. Our government has used the excuse of 9/11 to curtail our civil liberties, divide our people, and advance economic policies that are further burdening the middle class and adding millions to the ranks of the poor while further enriching the uber-wealthy. Our people have experienced a series of bogus "terror alerts" that have raised national anxiety to a fever pitch.

At the very least, it's time for Democrats to declare the truth, that the War On Terror is a failure because it was bogus from the beginning. It's time for us to get truly macho again and say that America will continue to be America, that "We will not be moved."

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Friday, November 25


As I posted earlier this month, the suspicious results of the Ohio referenda is a story that must not die. Elections are American liberty's equivalent of a market correction, and if they are stolen, or just invalidated by faulty machinery, we'll crash. And it won't be pretty. Why isn't this story being followed up in the media?

Not even the Columbus Dispatch, the origin of the polls that were so "wrong," is interested.

The Columbus Dispatch’s survey of voters, conducted by mail, has historically been a reliable poll; it has been cited for its precision in the scholarly journal Public Opinion Quarterly and is considered far more accurate than telephone surveys. There is no faulty O-ring, in other words; the methodology doesn’t need changing.

And that’s why there’s a story here that must not be allowed to vanish.

The story is about how America votes, and evidence that pandemic chaos and perhaps even centrally orchestrated malfeasance are accompanying the spread of electronic voting machines to the nation’s precincts. We know there’s cause to worry about the state of our democracy because of the historical accuracy of the Columbus Dispatch voter poll.
Why, I wonder, in a state that made a national spectacle of itself with widespread irregularities and voter disenfranchisement a year ago, would there be so little interest in investigating whether the “voting chaos” reported by the Toledo Blade or the “night of surprises” reported by the Dayton Daily News could have produced tainted results?

“One problem discovered Tuesday: Some machines began registering votes for the wrong item when voters touched the screen correctly,” wrote Jim Bebbington in the Daily News. “Those machines had lost their calibration during shipping or installation and had to be recalibrated.”

But the spark won’t jump in the media mind. You know: Hmm, we have widespread confusion in the voting process, a recent GAO report that cites many glaring insecurities in e-voting, and our own polls indicating big victories that turn into big defeats. Could it be …? Nah! What are we thinking? This is the world’s greatest democracy.


UPDATE: Brad Friedman has more to say: "Democracy in America Has Officially Become a Privatized Circus."

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The definition of chutzpah. Dick Cheney:

"Would the United States and other free nations be better off or worse off with (Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi, (Osama) bin Laden and (Ayman al-) Zawahiri in control of Iraq?" he asked. "Would be we safer or less safe with Iraq ruled by men intent on the destruction of our country?"

Well, Dick, there'd be no possibility (unlikely as it is now) of such an occurrence had we not invaded Iraq. In other words, at the cost of more than 2000 American lives and more than 15,000 maimed troops plus $200 billion and counting, we displaced one despot only to provide a launch site for still others who are "intent on the destruction of our country?" How, in any scenario they can spin, can the Bush administration count that as a success? Are we to believe that if we "stay the course" and Zarqawi et al are "defeated," Ahmed Chalabi or another Bush/Cheney-favored Saddam-like politico won't rise up to assert the same kind of iron rule that was the only proven means of controlling the various religious and political factions that comprise the nation of Iraq, or that an Iranian-like cleric won't establish an Islamic republic that, by its nature, despises the "Great Satan" United States and is itself "intent on its destruction"?

So what will we have won after so much American sacrifice of lives and fortune? How will our interests have been protected or even improved on?

I fear and believe that the Bush administation's definition of success in Iraq is simply this: control of Iraq's oil resources and higher poll rankings among American voters. Happily, their cynical misadventure seems to be losing on at least the latter count.

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A Justice Department investigation into possible influence-peddling by prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff has spread a wider net.

The Justice Department's probe is far broader than previously thought. Though it remains smaller than the congressional influence-peddling scandals of the 1970s, its focus on prominent Republicans raises the risk of serious embarrassment to the party before next year's congressional elections. Those involved in Mr. Abramoff's case say that the Justice Department investigation could take years to complete.

Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions -- separate units that report to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division -- are looking into Mr. Abramoff's interactions with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation.

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Re the Daily Mirror's explosive revelations, the charge that Bush wanted to take out Al Jazeera is not "outlandish."

A day before Bush's meeting with Blair, Donald Rumsfeld slammed al Jazeera in distinctly undiplomatic terms:

REPORTER: [C]an you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
REPORTER: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing.

What al Jazeera was doing in Fallujah is exactly what it was doing when the US bombed its offices in Afghanistan in 2001 and when US forces killed al Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent, Tareq Ayoub, during the April 2003 occupation of Baghdad. Al Jazeera was witnessing and reporting on events Washington did not want the world to see.

Eason Jordan, you may be vindicated yet.

UPDATE: Al-Jazeera employees have called for an inquiry.

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David Ignatius writes about the changed views of America held by the world.

What a sorry state Bush has brought us to. A world that once admired, respected and envied the American way of life now reviles and fears us. We have adopted the tactics of the Soviets and other repressive regimes and lost credibility for our unique values.

Bush and Cheney are not alone in their culpability for bringing us to this shameful stage of our history. Rush Limbaugh,
Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and their adoring followers and the rest of the haters are enablers. Indifferent voters who chose BushCo for two terms of office are also.

What can we do to reverse this dangerous course? Well, the first thing is to totally and overwhelmingly repudiate the politicos who have sponsored it. The elections of 2006 and 2008 will be a test of whether or not this country will be able to regain its footing in the world. Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans must find enough common ground to "throw the bastards out" -- and our historical American values ought to provide such common ground. No administration or supporter that advocates torture, endless war, and the reduction of our civil liberties should find approbation among the vast majority of American people.

If they do, we are become the enemy we once opposed.

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The Sage and I fell into bed last night, happy but exhausted, to the sound of the kiddos shrieking with laughter as they played "Balderdash" -- the perfect ending to a blessed day.

It was a typical Thanksgiving at our house. I cooked (my choice -- I dearly love holiday cooking) while Dad and our youngest son went to the Cowboys-Broncos game (we lost). Oldest daughter and I chatted while she cleaned up (her contribution since she doesn't cook) and cousin Joe took a nap on the family room couch, then she picked up oldest son from the airport. Middle daughter and her boyfriend arrived bearing mashed potatoes, sweet corn pudding, pecan pie and olive dip. Adopted daughter came in with her hubby and three-year-old son. (Youngest daughter called from Austin to wish us a happy Thanksgiving -- she and her husband and three-year-old son spent the day with T's parents there.) We exchanged calls with family and friends throughout the day, sending messages of love and wishing each other a happy Thanksgiving Day. Dad carved the turkey and ham while the boys moved the breakfast room table into the dining room to join with the dining table so we could all eat together. The girls set the places, and everyone fixed their plates from the buffet. We made a circle and gave thanks to God for the blessings of the year -- Dad's surviving his heart attack, my recovery from a complicated broken leg and the ensuing surgery, our family, the love we share, all the tender mercies God has shown us.

We all sat down to eat a Southern feast of roast turkey with giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, ham with redeye gravy, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, fruit salad, asparagus surprise, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, sausage balls, mashed potatoes, sweet corn pudding, yeast rolls, and dutch apple, cherry, pumpkin and pecan pies. Politics was banished from the dinner conversation. Remembering and laughing at family stories was the order of the day.

After dinner we played Trivial Pursuit and Balderdash (which Dad and I finally bailed on) and generally had a wonderful time just laughing and being together. It was a smaller crowd than usual, with S----- and T----- not there and M------ without a boyfriend this year, and no in-laws or friends attending. Up early just now and sneaking into the kitchen for a Popsicle, I felt a sense of contentment that the house is full of sleeping children again (they'll always be children to us). Today we're going to shop for our Salvation Army Angels, put up Christmas decorations, eat leftovers, and look forward to the next holiday.

Thursday, November 24


A quick post before I start stuffing the turkey.

The Sage and I just got off the phone with our daughter's boyfriend, who is stationed in Iraq. Someone was passing a satellite phone around, so he took the opportunity to call, and we were thrilled to hear from his voice. "We just ate Thanksgiving dinner, and it sucked," he said. He's currently at Camp Cook, which is in Taji, north of Baghdad.

"Oh, C----," I said, "I'm so glad to hear your voice and to know that you're safe."

"Safe? I'm not safe," he replied. They spend every other day in Tarmiya, which he called "the next Fallujah." He's living in a water treatment plant and said that every day they "ride around (they do police action) and try not to get blown up." They're constantly being sniped at by insurgents. "I'm definitely not safe."

"We've got to get out of here," were his closing words to me before I passed the phone to The Sage. "Get us out of here."

So much for "our troops want us to finish the 'mission'."

Wednesday, November 23


Anyone remember the film Three Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford?

The story goes like this: a CIA researcher reads books, all kinds of books from all over the world, to see if their plot lines reveal any current or planned CIA activities ("We read everything that's published in the world. And we... we feed the plots - dirty tricks, codes - into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, I look for new ideas... We read adventures and novels and journals. Who'd invent a job like that?"). One day the researcher, Joe Turner, returns from lunch and finds all of his co-workers have been murdered. He tries to get the Company to bring him in from the cold, but when he starts getting shot at he realizes that one of the reports he submitted to his superiors outlining the plot of a book in which the CIA plans an invasion of a Middle Eastern country in order to secure their oil is true, and everyone he knows is being killed to wipe out any tracks to that truth.

Memorable quotes:

Joe Turner (to CIA boss): Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

Higgins (CIA boss): It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. Maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?
Joe Turner: Ask them?
Higgins: Not now - then! Ask 'em when they're running out. Ask 'em when there's no heat in their homes and they're cold. Ask 'em when their engines stop. Ask 'em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won't want us to ask 'em. They'll just want us to get it for 'em!

Sound eerily prescient?

Well, the denouement of the film is Joe giving the whole story to the New York Times, confident that they'll print it and preserve his life by doing so.

Higgins: Turner! How do you know they'll print it? You can take a walk. But how far if they don't print it?
Joe Turner: They'll print it.
Higgins: How do you know?

Feel the shivers running up your spine?


On the fiftieth anniversary of the Texas Observer, Bill Moyers pens a tribute rife with reminiscences about the past fifty years in the Lone Star State.

No Texas liberal should miss it. No one else should, either. A sample:

Some years ago the classicist scholar, William Arrowsmith, writing in The Texas Observer, described the “worst of Texas attitudes—the rock-bottom conviction, expressed in stone throughout the state and in the hearts of politicians, that what counts is always and only wealth, that everything is for sale and can be bought.” Including now the Faith of Our Fathers, the Old Time Religion, the Rock of Ages. Right-wing religion provides the political and corporate forces running America a cloak of “moral values” with which to camouflage the plunder of America. It is the Texas machine duplicated many times over. For, as The Texas Observer once put it, “The men who run the Lone Star State, through a tacit but powerful interlocking directorate of politicians and corporation executives [joined now by preachers] are perpetrating and perpetuating a monstrous deception on the public” —namely, the illusion of self-government.

Everything President George W. Bush knows, he learned here, as the product of a system rigged to assure the political progeny needed to perpetuate itself with minimum interference from the nuisances of liberal democracy. You remember liberal democracy: the rule of law, the protection of individual and minority rights, checks and balances against arbitrary power, an independent press, the separation of church and state. As governor, Bush was nurtured by the peculiar Texas blend of piety and privilege that mocks those values. With the election of 2000, he and his cohorts arrived in Washington like atheists taking over the Vatican; they had come to run a government they don’t believe in.

The results have been disastrous: reckless tax cuts, a relentless assault on social services, monumental debt, pre-emptive war, an exhausted military, booming corporate welfare and corruption so deep and pervasive it has touched every facet of American government.

Much has been made of the president’s inept response to Hurricane Katrina. His early response was to joke the fun he had as a frat boy in now-grieving New Orleans. When a reporter pressed him on what had gone wrong after the hurricane struck, he sarcastically asked: “Who says something went wrong?” His attitude would surprise no one who read the 1999 profile of Bush by a conservative journalist who reported how the then-governor had made fun of Karla Fay Tucker’s appeals to be spared the death penalty. The journalist—a conservative, remember —wrote that Bush mocked and dismissed the woman, like him a born-again Christian, as he depicted her begging him, “Please don’t kill me!” But this is not what she had said. Bush made it up.

Such contempt for other people’s reality is embedded in a philosophy hostile to government except as an instrument of privilege and patronage. This is the crowd, remember, that was asleep at the switch in the months leading up to 9/11 when the intelligence traffic crackled with warnings about terrorist attacks (look it up in the official commission report). It’s the same crowd that made a mess of the occupation of Iraq—and then awarded themselves Medals of Freedom for the wreckage they had created. Their mentality was well summed up by Donald Rumsfeld, who, after Baghdad’s libraries and museums were sacked, shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Stuff happens.'

Hurricane Katrina uncovered what the progressive advocate Robert Borosage calls the “catastrophic conservatism” of the long right-wing crusade to denigrate government, ‘starve the beast,’ scorn its purposes and malign its officials. We are seeing the results of an economic policy focused on top-end tax cuts and deregulations to reward private investors, as opposed to public investments in the country’s vital infrastructure. On the day that Katrina struck the coast, the census bureau reported that last year, one million people had been added to the 36 million Americans living in poverty. A few weeks earlier, the Labor Department had reported that while incomes had grown impressively last year, the gains had gone mostly to the top—the people with stocks and bonds and income other than wages. But the 80 million people who live paycheck to paycheck barely stayed even. It took a natural disaster to expose the stunning inequality and poverty produced when people are written off and shoved to the margins. And to remind us, as Borosage writes, of the dearth of basic investment in the boring but essential public works vital to civilization—schools, public transport, water systems, public health, and yes, wetlands and trees.

We are seeing now the results of systemic and spectacular corruption and cronyism and the triumph of a social ideal—the “You get yours/I’ll get mine” mentality—that is diametrically opposed to the ethic of shared sacrifice and responsibility.


We've known for quite some time that the Bush administration's prized captive, accused "terrorist" Jose Padilla, was probably a nobody. We do know he was a former Chicago gang member AND AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. The intelligence that led to his arrest was provided by a captured Al Qaeda member whose information is reported by at least one U.S. law enforcement official to be less than truthful under interrogation (but torture is necessary to get information, right Big-Time?) and was being "treated with skepticism" as far back as 2002. The fact that the government has changed its story on Padilla's alleged offenses repeatedly is at least an indication that they just haven't got any real evidence against him.

The important part of the story is that Padilla, AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, has been held without charge, stripped of his constitutional rights, for over three years, simply because the president labeled him an "enemy combatant." Yesterday he was indicted for "being part of a North American terror cell that sent money and recruits overseas to 'murder, maim and kidnap.'"

The charges are the latest twist in a case pitting the Bush administration's claim that the war on terrorism gives the government extraordinary powers to protect its citizens, on one side, against those who say the government can't be allowed to label Americans "enemy combatants" and hold them indefinitely without charges that can be fought in court.

By charging Padilla, the administration is seeking to avoid a Supreme Court showdown over the issue. In 2004, the justices took up the first round of cases stemming from the war on terrorism, and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring, wrote, "A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Eric Freedman, a professor at Hofstra Law School, said the Padilla indictment was an effort by the administration "to avoid an adverse decision of the Supreme Court."

Jenny Martinez, a Stanford law professor who represents Padilla at the Supreme Court, said, "There's no guarantee the government won't do this again to Mr. Padilla or others. The Supreme Court needs to review this case on the merits so the lower court decision is not left lying like a loaded gun for the government to use whenever it wants."

Padilla's lawyers had asked the justices to review his case last month, and the Bush administration was facing a deadline of next Monday for filing its legal arguments.

Padilla's appeal argues that the government's evidence "consists of double and triple hearsay from secret witnesses, along with information allegedly obtained from Padilla himself during his two years of incommunicado interrogation."

If they can do it to him, they can do it to any one of us.

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Republicans steal Thanksgiving.


I've been meaning to post this but haven't gotten around to it. George Will this past Sunday on "This Week With George S." --

"We are conducting an imperial foreign policy, that since 9/11 our American foreign policy has been that our national well-being depends upon many projections of power far from our shores for protracted periods of time to effect substantial changes in the world. Now, this is what empire looks like, what we're seeing on television. And the question is, can a modern democracy with instant graphic journalism conduct this kind of foreign policy? And if this was a tipping point, we begin to answer, no. Today. ...Because what Mr. Rumsfeld said to George was, 'Yes, it's a good idea we've gone to war because the world's going to be better off (a) without Saddam, a sufficient reason for going to war, and (b) a second sufficient reason, with a democracy up an running...' Now, building democracies is not peacekeeping, the phrase you used, there's no peace to be kept, this is nation building, and conservatives, these are all conservatives, cannot believe in that."

Ivan Eland would say that Will is correct.

Eland argues that the concept of empire is contrary to the principles of both liberals and conservatives. Conservatives should oppose an American empire, because war is the primary cause of Big Government—including the growth of nondefense spending—which in turn requires increased taxes. Hostile relations with other nations also breed protectionism and controls on financial flows, thus undermining the principles of free trade. Bloated government, high taxes, and restricted international commerce slow economic growth, undermining the prosperity and well-being of American society. Over time, lower U.S. economic growth rates could cause the United States to fall into relative decline, as happed to the overextended, overtaxed British Empire in the last century.

Conservatives worry about the nation’s security, but the United States does not need an empire to ensure it; America has two great oceans as moats, weak and friendly neighbors, and the most potent nuclear arsenal on the planet.

Liberals should oppose an empire, Eland argues, because many of the so-called “humanitarian” military interventions of the United States often have unhumanitarian consequences. The abysmal track record of attempts to bring democracy and free markets to countries coercively shows that such interventions usually fail to restructure fractured and violent societies. In the long term, violations of nations’ sovereignties—even for “humanitarian” ends—undermine international norms against cross-border aggression and encourage separatist groups to revolt. Over time, therefore, more people are likely to be killed than saved by U.S. interventions into failed states. Instead of placing the lives of U.S. soldiers between two opposing sides not yet ready to make peace, the international community should focus on helping nations in which all parties to a conflict are exhausted by war and are ready to stop fighting.

“Humanitarian” military interventionism, Eland argues, also faces strong moral objections: If a military intervention is unnecessary, then killing innocent civilians even accidentally is immoral. Furthermore, foreign wars erode civil liberties at home. Finally, many vested interests—including the arms industry—turn war fervor into corporate welfare. Humanitarian rationales for military intervention are often employed to cloak motives of realpolitik.
The republic’s founders realized that America’s geographical remoteness vis-à-vis other nation-states allowed the luxury of distancing itself from entangling alliances and foreign quarrels, defining its vital interests narrowly, and adopting a policy of military restraint. In an age of catastrophic terrorism, the founders’ original foreign policy is more relevant than ever. Profligate intervention overseas is not needed for security against other nation-states and only leads to blowback from the one threat that is difficult to deter—terrorism. In short, the U.S. empire lessens American prosperity, power, security and moral standing. It also erodes the founding principles of the American Constitution.

Americans have ignored the economic, political and security costs of the burgeoning empire at great peril. As Eland writes in the book’s introduction, “The fuzzy criteria that the U.S. government uses to determine whether American forces should intervene indicate that the American foreign policy is askew. Unlike the empires of old, which limited their military interventions to certain parts of the world, the United States is trying to police the entire globe.

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Sooner or later the question will be answered, "Did Bush really plan to bomb the Al Jazeera HQ in Qatar?"

If Tony Blair had to "talk him out of it," that certainly doesn't sound like Bush was making "a joke."

But I have to hope that's just what it was. If it's true, then we are seriously f-----. The leader of the free world is a madman or an evil genie.

UPDATE: Juan Cole has more.

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Excellent story by Murray Waas on the content of Presidential Daily Briefings immediately following 9/11 that are being kept from the Congress. It also has a good rundown of the way the administration mishandled and manipulated intelligence about Iraq, Al Qaeda and WMD pre-war, and the roots of the Wilson-Plame affair.

A must-read and must-share. It's a primer for those who are late adopters of the "Were we lied into Iraq?" argument.

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Tuesday, November 22


Just how flatulent can Rush Limbaugh get? Now he's hawking his newsletter via a scheme called "Adopt a Soldier." This is how it works. A loyal Rushan (hmm...could we do something with that?) can sign up to adopt a soldier by paying $50 for a subscription to Rush 24/7 and the Limbaugh Letter, which will then be sent to a a member of the U.S. military that has signed up to be "adopted." It's all in the name of suppoting the troops, folks, and don't get cynical about Rushbo making a buck off this -- the profit potential is paltry compared to the money others have made from the "war on terror."

Hat tip to Democratic Underground.

Monday, November 21


Uggabugga has a failsafe plan to end the war in Iraq:

Here's the plan -

Withdraw troops from Iraq as soon as logistically possible. - That will meet with approval by most Americans.

Install Ahmed Chalabi as head of the Iraqi government. - Something the PNAC / AEI / Weekly Standard crowd would love to see.

Pay Haliburton $30 billion to facilitate the transition. - To get Cheney & Co. on board.

Give Fox News Channel, Limbaugh, and Open Source Media* exclusive rights for covering the glorious withdrawal. - That way, the right-wing media will paint a positive picture (and get big ratings).

Have top fashion designers create a fabulous new military outfit for the president to wear throughout this process. - In order to satisfy Bush's uniform fetish.

Send Judy Miller and Bob Woodward to a secret CIA detention facility. - So that we can determine, once and for all, just how effective torture is in extracting information from determined secret-holders. This has nothing to do with an Iraq withdrawal; it's just a crowd-pleaser.

$100 million to Jack Abramoff. - To organize a never-ending series of golfing trips to Scotland and the Marianas, keeping the Republicans away from the House and Senate (and media) until after the '06 elections.

Presidential Medals of Freedom for everybody! - With the proviso that recipients take the Tenet Pledge (to remain silent about all Iraq-related decisions). That should eliminate any remaining opposition.

Put Karen Hughes in charge of a new public awareness campaign. - Slogan: Retreating with Respectability.

* - or whatever they're calling themselves now.


I can't believe we're being subjected to this stupid argument again.



Woodward said he only realized the full importance of what he knew when Libby was indicted.

"The indictment said the first disclosure was on June 23 to Judy Miller. I went, woa! because I knew I'd learned this 10 days before. So I said something's up, there's a piece that the Special Counsel doesn't have in all of this. I went into aggressive reporting mode during the next week and said to my source, Do you realize what was said? And the source said, I have to go to the prosecutor, I have to tell the truth. So I realized that I was going to be dragged into this, I was the catalyst, so I asked the source, do I have your release to tell this if you go to the prosecutor? And the source said, yes."

Call me cynical, but it sounds to me as if Woodward's motivation (and that of his source) was to discredit Libby's indictment.

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Charlie Cook of The Cook Political Report and National Journal and Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report were guests on Chris Matthews' Hardball tonight.

All agreed that the "Get out now" demand by some Democrats is good for Republicans, while the open-ended Republican argument "not till our mission is accomplished" works to the advantage of Democrats.

Chris asked, who's advising the president NOW? Cook said two groups, one of talented, experienced people who are fried, exhausted, and a group of younger ones who aren't ready/tested yet (Dan Bartlett, for instance), the ones who brought us Harriet Miers. Both said Bush needs to start with a whole new bunch. It would buy him a couple of months, get people off his back for a short while. Chris asked if Bush shouldn't dump Cheney. Stu replied that he needs him now, he's the guy out making the case for Dubya.

Then came the shocker. Tweetybird countered with, But gee, Cheney's looking like the guy in charge again. Remember 9/11? The VP was here, the president wasn't.

Never thought I'd hear a MSM journalist admitting THAT, much less Tweety, who couldn't contain himself with the manliness of Commander Codpiece on the day of the "Mission Accomplished" landing.


Wingnuts to the contrary, many, many devout Christians accept the theory of evolution as advanced by Darwin. We don't see any conflict between a spiritual explanation and a scientific one for creation.

Remember the old riddle, What's greater than God, meaner than the devil and will kill you if you eat it? The answer is Nothing. And that's the way we see it. God isn't bound by physical laws, He made and supports them at His will. When my son asked if carbon dating was fallacious since some religionists insist the world was created 6,000 years ago, The Sage replied that he didn't know if it was 6,000 or 6,000,000 years ago, and he didn't see a problem with that. "Do you think God couldn't make a day that lasted a milion years if He wanted to?" he posed, "or manipulate carbon levels, either?" His point was, when God says something, we accept it. When science proves something else, we accept that too. They aren't mutually exclusive.

This article in AlterNet agrees that "it's okay for Christians to believe in Darwin."

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I don't often do this, but I think it's important. This is a comment about my post Earth to America: Stop Global Warming, and my response:


Why are they blaming one political party or one president? IF there is a global problem it has been long in the making and the blame of no particular person or group of people. I thought the show was a disaster. The stars obviously knew next to nothing about the issue. Cedric the Entertainer said he "Googled" global warming to find out stuff, and the others just gave cheap laughs and never talked about the problem, if there is one. It was typical Hollwood trash.

And about conservatives being "selfish"... is it selfish to preserve the religious rights of citizens? Is it selfish to save the lives of children whose Constitutional "right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is ripped from them before the "right to life" can even be obtained? Rethink your position.
1:38 PM


Thank you, but I'm happy with my position. Cedric is a COMIC like many of the others -- they were brought on board for their entertainment value to attract an audience for the more important message.

You question whether or not there is a problem. There are so many resources to prove that it is a disaster in the making that I won't try to list them here, but suggest that YOU try Googling the issue.

Abortion has nothing to do with this matter, and I can't imagine why you chose to inject it into the discussion. The "selfishness" the speakers last night were referring to is the short-sighted focus on immediate profits by business, the "I believe Jesus is coming soon so it doesn't matter if we cut down all the trees" thought pattern, and the "I'll drive a Hummer if I want to" mentality, that have persuaded our lawmakers they are better off avoiding environmental issues if they want to get re-elected and have thus exposed the entire planet to future crises.

You know, "Spaceship Earth" wasn't coined last night by the comics. It's a perspective that has been around for a long time. As Jim Lovell said, we're all passengers and we'll crash or survive together. There's no bailing out.
3:23 PM


You know, Andrew, I should add for your edification that my husband attended seminary for two years, that we have five children and are devout Christians. I've been driving a Hybrid for almost three years (BEFORE gas prices rose dramatically).

And a serious reading of the scriptures clearly demonstrates that we are stewards of the earth that God created and should nurture, not plunder, it.

I would refer you to Target Earth Resources for a Biblical perspective on environmentalism and a Christian's duty regarding it.

God bless the earth and all who dwell therein.
3:40 PM

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The Boston Globe examines the difference in Congressional oversight between the Clinton and Bush administrations. And it can't all be racked up to partisanship. In the years 1993-94, when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, his own party never let up on Bill Clinton. The same cannot be said for the Republican-controlled Congress, which has asked for little to no accountability by George W. Bush and has blocked the opposition party from their own examinations.

Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, aggressively delving into alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration, logged 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether former president Bill Clinton had used the White House Christmas card list to identify potential Democratic donors.

In the past two years, a House committee has managed to take only 12 hours of sworn testimony about the abuse of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

The jarring comparison reflects the way Congress has conducted its oversight role during the GOP's era of one-party rule in Washington.

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They've done it again.

Say this much for House Republicans' budget. It leaves no doubt who the conservatives expect to swallow hard while the party continues its wild indulgences in tax cuts, deficit spending and weapons programs.

The poor, students and farmers can all step up to take a dose of bitter medicine. As part of the budget measure passed by two votes on Friday, growth in Medicaid spending will be curbed. Food stamp eligibility will be tightened. Farm conservation programs will suffer. And the party that likes to boast of its belief in building a strong economic future will make higher education tougher by imposing steeper interest rates on parent and student loans, raising fees and cutting subsidies to lenders.

The cuts of $50 billion were designed to look like a package that benefits the country's economic future by containing the explosion of the national debt. In reality, the House Republicans want to impose the pain on the poor and the middle class so they can pander to the rich with $70 billion in tax-cut extensions.

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Did anyone catch the two-hour special Earth to America on TBS last night? It was basically a star-studded two-hour anti-Bush administration political infomercial. Awesome.

The event, featuring Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Larry David, Tim McGraw, Bill Maher, Eric Idle, Ray Romano, the real Apollo 13 commander, Jim Lovell, Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Leo DiCaprio, Dustin Hoffman, and closing remarks by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was an attempt to get Americans to recognize the perils of global warming and other environmental hazards that must be addressed, and soon, if we are to avoid a global climate-related disaster. The added benefit was the comedy routines, and the serious statements, centered around the failures of BushCo, and sent a clear message: if you value your planet, your lives and your children, you will join the "Virtual March" at and send a message to Congress that later is too late. We need action now to protect our planet.

FYI, Will Farrell was hilarious as Dubya trying to talk about global warming as if he knew anything about it or had any interest whatsoever. I haven't found anyone at work who actually saw the show, so I'm wondering just what kind of audience it received.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Scientists say the icecap on Greenland is disappearing much faster than they had anticipated.

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Sunday, November 20


Now this man has credibility. A few excerpts from today's Meet the Press transcript:

And the biggest problem is this illusion that--I remember going to Iraq a month or so after the invasion when they said it was all over. And one of the members said to Ambassador Bremer, "What do you think about this cleric named Sistani?" And he turned to his expert, and you know what she said? She said, "Oh, he's just a minor cleric." Now, two weeks later that guy had 100,000 people in the street. That's the kind of information they were acting on. They've been overly optimistic and illusionary about their policy.
MR. RUSSERT: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said he's given the troops, the commanders on the ground, everything they've requested, including troop levels.

REP. MURTHA: Tim, Tim, come on. They fired Shinseki when he said they needed 200,000 troops. They had 44,000 shortage of armored vests. They had no--one brigade had one jammer in it. They had no--I mean, that's what the troops told me. I came back and they started to come up with that stuff. People had to buy their own armor.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you straight, do you have confidence in Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld?

REP. MURTHA: Well, I'll put it this way: There have been an awful lot of mistakes made, and I don't know whether it's his fault, but when he forced the military--now this is what I hear from the military. He forced them to go in with inadequate forces. Then he thought we were going to be able to go through Turkey. You remember we had the best division, the most technologically advanced division, sitting off Turkey. And so, fortunately, we had enough troops to get through. But then for the transition where he completely miscalculated the transition--and so the president has to look at that and--and then Abu Ghraib. They had inexperienced people without super vision in Abu Ghraib and that caused us--that's when the tide turned. The casualties have gone from one a day to two a day to the last month, four a day casualties, and that's happened because you got to win the hearts and minds of the people. We are not winning the hearts and minds of the people.
REP. MURTHA: Well, it's not--this is not a party issue, Tim. This is something that I'm offering as an individual, and it's only been out there for two or three days. Let me predict this: We're going to be out of there, we're going to be out of there very quickly, and it's going to be close to the plan that I'm presenting right now.

MR. RUSSERT: You think we'll be out of Iraq by the end of 2006?

REP. MURTHA: I think we'll be out of there; if not completely out of there, we'll be very close to being out of there. I think we could be out--yeah, I predict we'll be out of there--it'll be 2006.

MR. RUSSERT: By Election Day 2006?

REP. MURTHA: You--you have hit it on the head.

MR. RUSSERT: In hindsight, do you now believe your vote for the war in Iraq in 2002 was a mistake?

REP. MURTHA: Obviously, it was a mistake. I mean, all of us were misled by the information that we had...We have increased terrorism in the Middle East, is what we've done.

MR. RUSSERT: Well...

REP. MURTHA: And since we're the target, we've increased instability in the Middle East. So the only way to do this is redeploy our forces outside and let the Iraqis handle this themselves.

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Thanks to Lambert for catching Bush asking God to "bless the Christians of China."

Let's see..."For God so loved THE WORLD"..."Jesus loves the little children, ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD"...nope, can't remember anything about God just loving Christians...wonder where Dubya got his Christian education.

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The Sunday Times says it's Hadley.

THE mysterious source who gave America’s foremost journalist, Bob Woodward, a tip-off about the CIA agent at the centre of one of Washington’s biggest political storms was Stephen Hadley, the White House national security adviser, according to lawyers close to the investigation.
Two years ago, when Plame’s identity was first revealed, Hadley was Condoleezza Rice’s deputy at the NSC. He is also thought to have been a key source for two books by Woodward on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

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Jonathan Chait gets it wrong before he gets it right:

The sad thing is that there is, or was, a prospect to get Democrats onboard with the war effort. I believe that liberals loathe the war because they loathe Bush, rather than vice versa. What they want above all is for Bush to admit he made some huge mistakes in Iraq. It's not a big thing to admit; everybody knows it's true.

A simple admission of the obvious would sate his foes — or enough of them, anyway. That would also let Bush make the honest case for carrying on in Iraq. That case is that Iraq is in danger of becoming a failed state and terrorist haven, like Afghanistan. Yes, our invasion caused it to be so, but here we are. If terrorists gain access to Iraq's state power and oil wealth, we'll face dire consequences down the road. The liberals and moderates who supported the war in Afghanistan would support a campaign in Iraq that's based on similar grounds.

Of course, this strategy would also require the administration to care more about building support for the war than propping up the myth of Bush as courageous and indispensable war leader. I guess we know which one of those things this White House cares about more.

It is not true that liberals loathe the war because they loathe Bush. We loathe Bush because we loathe his policies. It is true that the White House cares more about the Bush myth than the fate of the nation and the world.

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What could account for the CIA's willful embrace of discredited intelligence?"

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.

"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."
An investigation by The Times based on interviews since May with about 30 current and former intelligence officials in the U.S., Germany, England, Iraq and the United Nations, as well as other experts, shows that U.S. bungling in the Curveball case was worse than official reports have disclosed.

The White House, for example, ignored evidence gathered by United Nations weapons inspectors shortly before the war that disproved Curveball's account. Bush and his aides issued increasingly dire warnings about Iraq's biological weapons before the war even though intelligence from Curveball had not changed in two years.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, officials embraced Curveball's account even though they could not confirm it or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability before the war, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after the invasion.
The senior BND officer who supervised Curveball's case said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball's claims as a justification for war.

"We were shocked," the official said. "Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven…. It was not hard intelligence."

In a telephone interview, Powell said that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, and his top deputies personally assured him before his U.N. speech that U.S. intelligence on the mobile labs was "solid." Since then, Powell said, the case "has totally blown up in our faces."

The CIA itself is not going to answer the question.

The Kerr report's commentary on the politicization of intelligence, a criticism it rejects, is the key content. Kerr notes that the case is less one of a pre-fabricated policy seeking out only useful intelligence judgments than it is of "policy deliberations deferring to the [Intelligence] Community in an area where classified information and technical analysis were seen as giving [intelligence] unique expertise."

This might have been the case if the CIA and other agencies had developed their judgments unfettered by Bush administration officials, but the report itself notes the wide variety of contacts and the constant push for data-demands that were "numerous and intense." The Kerr report tries to finesse the issue by noting that in major crises "serious pressure from policymakers almost always accompanies serious issues." That is certainly true but it does not excuse the CIA from caving to the pressure, or Richard Cheney, Scooter Libby, Condi Rice, Robert Joseph, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith and others from making the kinds of demands they did in the way they made them. The Kerr report argues that pressures were more "nuanced" because intelligence judgments on Iraqi WMD were in accord with policy preferences. But, significantly, the Kerr panel could not bring itself to fully exonerate Bush officials despite the sensitivity it knew attached to this issue. Rather, the report ultimately punted: "Whether or not this climate contributed to the problem of . . . analytic performance . . . remains an open question."

Still, the Kerr report for the first time breaks the wall of denial: admitting the effects of pressure are an open question concedes that pressures existed. Boltonization is real. That is a most important development. Nevertheless, self-censorship remains at work here—the Kerr group could not bring itself to express a clear conclusion. That too says something about readiness to speak truth to power, and the level of candor that watchdogs and the American public should expect from their intelligence community.

Should the Senate Intelligence Committee fulfill its promise to investigate the manipulation of pre-war intelligence, I suspect they'll find that the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans holds a key part of the responsibility.

I can't see George W. Bush, in the mold of Richard Nixon, actually strategizing with Cheney and Rove on this. He's never been one for "nuance" and doing his homework. He's a slacker, a stooge, albeit a malevolent one. I think it's more a case of the boy king saying, "Get me a war" and his henchmen delivering. That doesn't excuse him in any way -- to the contrary, it highlights his failure as president. As the nation's CEO and Commander In Chief, it's his duty to run the government, not just to delegate his responsibilities to others. The U.S. government is no think tank where the president has been hired to dream up ideas that others plan and execute without his oversight.

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Howard Fineman summarizes all the president's troubles.

The drama on the floor was a shabby—at times, farcical—finale to a season that nevertheless had produced something serious: a transformation of the politics of the war in Washington. Some of the change had little to do with the war per se. From the bungling of Katrina disaster relief to the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, the White House had faced a run of bad news that would buckle support for any of the president's policies. But as they watched the continued deadly attacks by Sunni insurgents—and the continued erosion of Bush's numbers as a war leader and honest man—Democrats were encouraged to up the ante in Congress.
But it's unclear how calling Democrats hypocrites will help revive Bush's personal reputation. Rather than undermine Bush's foes, the strategy seems unlikely to do more than remind voters of the undeniable fact that the WMD simply weren't there. And to make their case at all, White House strategists have been forced to use a tactic they studiously avoided in the campaign: deploying Bush himself as the attack dog.
They recently dispatched one of their best operatives, Steve Schmidt (no relation to the Ohio congresswoman), to Baghdad to look for ways generate positive press. His answer: build better relations with the reporters. But they may be preoccupied these days by the need to dodge terrorist attacks on their hotels.

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