Saturday, March 18


Riverbend asks, "How did this happen?"

I don’t think anyone imagined three years ago that things could be quite this bad today. The last few weeks have been ridden with tension. I’m so tired of it all- we’re all tired.

Three years and the electricity is worse than ever. The security situation has gone from bad to worse. The country feels like it’s on the brink of chaos once more- but a pre-planned, pre-fabricated chaos being led by religious militias and zealots.
...The children have been at home this year more than they’ve been in school.
The real fear is the mentality of so many people lately- the rift that seems to have worked it’s way through the very heart of the country, dividing people. It’s disheartening to talk to acquaintances- sophisticated, civilized people- and hear how Sunnis are like this, and Shia are like that… To watch people pick up their things to move to “Sunni neighborhoods” or “Shia neighborhoods”. How did this happen?

I read constantly analyses mostly written by foreigners or Iraqis who’ve been abroad for decades talking about how there was always a divide between Sunnis and Shia in Iraq (which, ironically, only becomes apparent when you're not actually living amongst Iraqis they claim)… but how under a dictator, nobody saw it or nobody wanted to see it. That is simply not true- if there was a divide, it was between the fanatics on both ends. The extreme Shia and extreme Sunnis. Most people simply didn’t go around making friends or socializing with neighbors based on their sect. People didn't care- you could ask that question, but everyone would look at you like you were silly and rude.
Three years later and the nightmares of bombings and of shock and awe have evolved into another sort of nightmare. The difference between now and then was that three years ago, we were still worrying about material things- possessions, houses, cars, electricity, water, fuel… It’s difficult to define what worries us most now. Even the most cynical war critics couldn't imagine the country being this bad three years after the war... Allah yistur min il rab3a (God protect us from the fourth year).

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Friday, March 17


Blogger has been one big pain all day. The RSS feed is messed up, I'm losing posts, I can't publish, it's one thing after another. Now it's blank. Woo-woo.

If I've lost 2500 posts I'm not going to be a happy camper.


A great reminder of the kind of thinking and courage we need from our Democratic leadership today.

In a speech Dean made at Drake University in Des Moines the year before, as the campaign began to heat up and we were getting ready to invade Iraq, he had this to say:

“I believe it is my patriotic duty to urge a different path to protecting America’s security: To focus on al Qaeda, which is an imminent threat, and to use our resources to improve and strengthen the security and safety of our home front and our people while working with the nations of the world to contain Saddam Hussein … .
“That the President was given open-ended authority to go to war in Iraq resulted from a failure of too many in my party in Washington who were worried about political positioning for the presidential election.

“The stakes are so high, this is not a time for holding back or sheepishly going along with the herd.”
“If we go to war, I certainly hope the administration’s assumptions are realized and the conflict is swift, successful and clean. I certainly hope our armed forced will be welcomed like heroes and liberators in the streets of Baghdad.

“It is possible, however, that events could go differently… . Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.

“Anti-American feeling will surely be inflamed among the misguided who choose to see an assault on Iraq as an attack on Islam, or as a means of controlling Iraqi oil.”

Is that spot-on, or what? The guy was right in every particular -- and he might have been our president right now but for the idiotic machinations of a mainstream media that is so juvenile in attitude that it turned a simple rallying cry into evidence of serious nuttiness. I, for one, am very, very glad that Howard is our DNC Chairman. He continues to turn in one impressive performance after another on the Sunday talk shows, much better than Dem party Beltway insiders, and he's doing the right, and farsighted, thing once again in building a party organization with a 50-state strategy.

The American press – “media” they call it these days – has become an embarrassment to the First Amendment. It habitually inflates the trivial and trivializes the significant.

Thus, when Dick Cheney failed to report his shooting incident promptly, the press responded with loud outrage. I thought they were going to storm the lectern in the White House briefing room.

But when Cheney met in secret session with energy experts to craft a national energy policy, then refused to divulge names of the people in the room with him, there was hardly more than a peep from our watchdog press.

Dean was also the guy, you’ll remember, who said the capture of Saddam Hussein – much heralded as a turning point in the war – wouldn’t matter much. The press’s response was to ridicule him.

How’s the Saddam thing working out, by the way?

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Bush praises himself for advancing the rights of women internationally. Counterpunch fact-checks him.

But what was most obviously missing from the President's remarks was any mention whatsoever of what his administration is doing for women in this country. The reason for this omission is not hard to comprehend, he just doesn't have much to brag about. As Ms. Magazine Money Editor Martha Burk points out, Bush's budget proposal says it all. After signing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with great hoopla, President Bush's budget proposal proceeded to cut $20 million in VAWA funding and provided no funding for new programs created by the legislation that would assist victims of domestic violence. The food program run by the Agriculture Department that provides nutrition for pregnant women and babies would be cut and Medicare benefit reductions of $29 billion would hit women the hardest. Ironically, as Burk notes, there is still plenty of money for marriage promotion and erectile dysfunction drugs.

The reality is that this administration has significantly jeopardized the lives of women both here and around the world. President Bush's fawning attempt to frame himself as a champion of women is not only delusional, his remarks on International Women's Day were an affront to women everywhere.

For a nice wrapup of how women's rights have fared under Dubya, check this out.

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Thursday, March 16


I was just thinking about the stupid characterizations of the Republican Party as the "Father" party and the Democrats as the "Mother" party. You've probably read or heard the theories that the Rethugs have an image of a tough, protective father while the Dems are perceived as nurturers.

If it's mommie memories vs. daddy memories, who would you rather have in charge? I mean, think about your own experience and that of others you know, and tell me whether you'd want your image of a mommie or a daddy running your home, your business, a committee, the nation...


I listen to right-wing talk radio so you won't have to. Today's feature is Dallas KLIF host Greg Knapp, who right this minute is working on a segment about Bush's low approval numbers. The media is "gleeful," he says, because their five years of incessantly beating Americans over the head with the memes, "Bush is wrong, Bush lied and people died, Bush is a moron" finally seem to be paying off. But that's not really why Bush's popularity has taken a nose dive.

Knapp claims to know why Bush's numbers are low: it's because he's lost his base! Dubya has angered conservatives by his excessive spending, government intrusion into our privates lives where it's inappropriate and no government meddling where it SHOULD be done, failure to secure our borders, wrong-headed proposals regarding illegal immigration, the disastrous Dubai Ports World deal. And as a good conservative Greg has totally, he says, been on the right side of all those issues, while Bush was wrong. BUT... there's a big difference between THIS president and every Democratic politician you ever heard of. BUSH WILL NOT BE DETERRED BY POLLS FROM DOING WHAT'S RIGHT.

He turned to the subject of today's huge U.S. air raid in Iraq. [Is this our appointment in Samarra? -- sorry, bad joke.]. The media, he ranted on, are so cynical they actually think a dip in the polls -- terror alert! Bush gets record low numbers -- air raid! They think every politician is like Bill Clinton, who would order a military attack to get a boost in the polls.

But NOT GEORGE BUSH! Nosirreee!! He proved that polls play no part in his decision making when he decided to declare war on Iraq. That was politically risky! If it didn't turn out right, he'd pay for it in the polls! But he did it anyway, because it was the RIGHT THING TO DO.

Now here's how Knapp envisions Bush making a comeback: Bush has to reverse gears on all the issues dear to conservatives related above, and he has to get out the real truth about all the good stuff that is happening in Iraq. Today's air raid is an example of that good stuff. Something like 800 Iraqis are participating and they're standing up so we can eventually stand down. But listen. You should know that there are some people who hate Bush so much they're determinedly asserting that there was no connection between Saddam and terrorism. And we know that's a lie. But if it was true it would ruin our core justification for invading Iraq. But we know it's a lie of those nefarious Democrats who hate America, and the truth is not in them.

I've channeled Greg enough for now, I think. I'm too tired to address his strange syllogism (the one I bolded). Just read and see if you have the same head-spinning reaction I did.

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A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that medical patients in the U.S. receive the recommended care only 55% of the time. And no segment of the population is exempted from this poor standard of service.

The RAND study's authors stated that a well-functioning health care system should provide recommended levels of care 80 to 90 percent of the time. Interestingly (in view of the conservative argument that privatization trumps government services every time), VA patients get proper recommended care about 66 percent of the time.



The Freepers have taken over, that's what.

So the Missouri legislature votes to ban state funding of contraceptives for low-income women and to prohibit state-funded programs from referring those women to other programs.

Contraceptives. For women. I guess that includes married women since none of the language is to the contrary. Of course we KNOW that unmarried women should be punished for the sin of having unwedded sex. But this legislation doesn't seem limited to those sluts, it extends to the righteous (but poor, which is a sin in itself to these people) married ladies as well.

The great state of Missouri has decided in its infinite wisdom that we should turn the clock back to pre-Margaret Sanger days and force the same poor women who are derided by conservatives for having children they can't afford that then feed from the public trough to have those children freepers don't think they should have. No no, that's not what they're saying. They're saying those women SHOULDN'T HAVE SEX if they (or their husbands) if they can't afford their own contraceptives or don't make enough money to support the children who would result if they continue to have sex.

No no, that's not it either. They're not even willing to let these women get counseling on "natural" birth control methods. So we're back to the days before the Catholic Church approved (or winked at) the rhythm method.

Are we seeing the real religious-right agenda here, finally exposed? The message I'm getting from recent developments is:

* If you're poor, you must have done something to deserve God's judgment, so you don't count. (Wealth is a sign of His blessing.)

* If you can't afford children, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE SEX, marital or extra-, because sex is only for the purpose of procreation. (If not, we wouldn't oppose the use of contraceptives.)

* If you have sex and a pregnancy results, you're disgusting if you're not married and the sooner you and your little bastard starve to death, the better for the great state of Missouri (and the USA).

* If you have sex and a pregnancy results because you didn't have access to or the moral degradation to use birth control, but you're married, then you have to bear the child no matter what and just tighten the belt. Since the little wifey and mother of eight won't be able to afford to bring in that extra paycheck because it'll be overwhelmed by the costs of child care, we'll end up with more women staying at home and raising their children, which is the way God ordained it and is one of our real goals anyway, getting women back into their place. But don't expect any help with healthcare costs for all those kids. Couldn't you have controlled yourself?

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Wednesday, March 15


According to a just-released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, just 26 percent believe the nation is headed in the right direction.

Bush scores a 37% approval rating. Of those polled, 58% believe Bush is facing a long-term setback from which he’s unlikely to improve. They think we've seen the best performance we're likely to see out of Bush.

Think about that for a moment. The succession of disastrous judgments and actions by GWB over the past five years is the best he's got to give us. Does that mean it's going to go DOWNhill from here? Reminds me of one of the greatest novel titles ever, "I've Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me."

Dems scored on the question, "What is your preference for this year’s election, a Republican or Democratic controlled congress?" a solid 50%, Rethugs, 37%. (Keith Olbermann just said that in that poll, no party ever before got 50% or above.)

Which prompts one to pondering the irresistible question, "Can we really regain control of one of the Congressional houses in '06?" My gut tells me that one of two things will happen:

(1) The nation will be so tired of the ineptitude and venality of Bush/Cheney and the Rethugs, they'll vote the bastards out. They'll take out their disgust and disappointment about Bush on Congressional Republicans.
(2) They'll be weary and wary of Bush but still vote for their local Congressthug, and the makeup of Congress won't change much.

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Pew Research poll has Bush approvals at 33%.

Hear that? Only ONE IN THREE polled approve of Bush's performance.

That's down from a 40% approval in the February Pew poll. His disapproval is 57%, up from 52% last month. 35% of those polled said he's a "good manager" and 38% say he is "well informed."

30% said Democratic Congressional leaders showed better judgment on the Dubai ports deal than their Republican counterparts (20%).

Bush's support is waning across his base: among conservative Republicans (from 87% to 78% approval); moderate/liberal Republicans (from 71% to 65%); 2004 Bush voters (from 81% in February 06 to 68% in March); white Evangelicals (approvals drop from 64% to 54%); his approvals also dipped significantly among those with annual incomes of more than $75K, Southerners, rural, whites both men and women.

Rating Bush's personal characteristics, 56% said he is "out of touch" with what is going on in the government.

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Tom Harkin signs on as co-sponsor of Feingold censure resolution.

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With apologies to Rodgers & Hammerstein:

It’s a very ancient saying
(And a true and honest thought)
That if you do what’s illegal
There’s the chance you might be caught.
As a voter I’ve been learning
When old Dubya breaks the law
There’s a privilege in Congress
That affords more shock and awe:
Getting to clear him.

Getting to clear him,
Changing the law to protect him
Rushing to clear him
That is their priority
“We are at war!” and
Putting it their way concisely
That is precisely
Why he gets off free.

Eager to clear him,
They abdicate their sworn duty
Won’t get their booty
Daring to investigate
Haven’t you noticed
Everything’s just rootin’-tooty?
So why should any Republican obsess
Should the president transgress
They dictate.


Nice shot from the NYT:

The founding fathers understood that there would be times in American history when the country lost confidence in the judgment of the president. Congress and the courts are supposed to fill the gap. But the system of checks and balances is a safety net that doesn't feel particularly sturdy at present. The administration seems determined to cut off legitimate court scrutiny, and the Republicans who dominate the House and Senate generally intervene only to change the rules so Mr. Bush can do whatever he wants. (If the current Congress had been called on to intervene in the case of Mr. Allen, it would probably have tried to legalize shoplifting.)



Charges that Bill Clinton, in opposition to his wife Hillary, consulted with the United Arab Emirates about how to get the Dubai Ports World deal through are untrue, according to the Big Dog.

Separately, former President Bill Clinton, at a news conference in Harlem, answered questions about his role in the ports deal. He said news reports that he had worked to support approval of the deal were "not true," and said that he shared the views of his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, that the United States should block the takeover.

Mrs. Clinton co-sponsored legislation that would prevent the acquisition of any port operations by companies that are owned by foreign governments. She also called for a more thorough review of the DP World deal and repeatedly inveighed against the security threat that the takeover might represent.

But Mr. Clinton also confirmed that he had advised Dubai on the modernization of its economy and that he had given some advice to the country about how to respond to the uproar over the deal.

"I had one phone conversation with them, in which I said I thought there would be enormous public opposition and I couldn't understand why they'd want to operate the ports given the poor state of port security and the recent Congressional committee reports criticizing the homeland security program," Mr. Clinton said.

"The only advice I gave them, the only thing I said," he continued, "is if you are determined to press ahead with us, do not try to jam it through. Submit it to full review, and offer proposals to increase port security."

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Tuesday, March 14


We're never getting out of Iraq if BushCo has anything to say about it.

US policymakers have replaced the Cold War with the Long War for Global Empire and Unchallenged Military Hegemony. This is the lens through which we must view Iraq to better understand why there are permanent US bases there.

In the Quadrennial Defense Review Report released on February 6, 2006, there is a stated ambition to fight "multiple, overlapping wars" and to "ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system." The report goes on to say that the US will "also seek to ensure that no foreign power can dictate terms of regional or global security. It will attempt to dissuade any military competitor from developing disruptive or other capabilities that could enable regional hegemony or hostile action against the United States or other friendly countries, and it will seek to deter aggression or coercion. Should deterrence fail, the United States would deny a hostile power its strategic and operational objectives."

In sum, what is the purpose of permanent US military garrisons in Iraq and the implicit goals of these government documents?


That's a perfect scenario for Dubya. He just loves costumes/uniforms, professional perks and people bowing down to him. And it's a lot easier than governing a democratic republic.

Anybody up for a contest to name the new American hegemony? How about the Wholly Christian Empire?

UPDATE: Abizaid says U.S. may want to keep permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.

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I was about to post about how sick I am of the ever-present and ever-useful excuse of "We're at war!" when I discovered that Skippy had already spoken for me:

there are three prongs of logic that defeat the entire "he's a wartime president, so don't be mean to him" defense. and they each one depend on which "war" the repubbbs are talking about when they parrot this talking point, to wit:

* the iraq war: awol started this one his own self, and convinced us all ("all" being the loosest definition possible, certainly not you or us) to attack iraq based on false evidence; at best he is incompetent, at worst he is a liar; in either case he doesn't get a "king's x from criticism" out of a war he himself initiated.

* the afghanistan war: this one is a slight corollary to the above. if awol had concentrated on actually finding bin laden, instead of diverting focus, energy, resources and lives into the iraq debacle, we'd most likely have that terrorist sitting in the cell where saddam currently resides, and there would be no war for awol to hide behind.

* the war on "terror": this one is our favorite, because it's so incredibly outrageous on its face, that it's fun to simply state the facts and watch the hardly-ever-rightwing logic melt away, like so many wicked witches of the west after a bucket of water.

setting aside the impossibility of waging a "war" on a technique (a "war on left flanks!" a "war on garroting!"), rather than an actual recognized political state or country of human enemies, the "war on terror," if it exists, has been waged by the united states at least since the attack on the marine base in beirut during reagan's administration.

by the current definition of "war on terror," every modern president since the 80's has been a "wartime president," including awol's daddy, as well as (and this is important), bill clinton (witness the the first attack on the wtc and uss cole).

yes, bill clinton, whom the repubbbs had no problem impeaching for a sexual relationship. we'll repeat that: bill clinton, a wartime president as defined by the current standards being used now, was impeached by the repubbblican party (and the vichy democrats) for a sexual relationship.

How long has the "war on drugs" been going on? Would you believe since 1880? Or, at the very least, in the modern era since 1971 under Nixon. Boy, a lot of presidents sure missed out on co-opting THAT excuse, didn't they?

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Dubai Ports World has no intention of selling its U.S. port operations. It was all just a ruse to let the political furor die. How Rovian.

What will it take to convince Dems, the media and more of the American populace that you can't trust anyone in the Bush administration or anyone that does business with them? If their lips are moving, they're lying. If their lips aren't moving, they're plotting the next lie.

And as far as suggestion that the UAE company take on a U.S. venture partner, believe me (and my company has lots of experience in this area), if they do it will be an on-paper deal to provide political cover and no more. The U.S. company will get a fee for the use of their name; they'll have no power, no operations authority, and no ability to affect U.S. port security.

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Follow the bouncing ball.

President Bush vowed for the first time yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year, setting a specific benchmark as he kicked off a fresh drive to reassure Americans alarmed by the recent burst of sectarian violence.
What constitutes control, however, depends on the definition, since no Iraqi unit is currently rated capable of operating without U.S. assistance. And vast swaths of Iraq have never been contested by insurgents, meaning they could ultimately be turned over to local forces without directly affecting the conflict.

Bush said 130 Iraqi battalions are participating in the battle with radical guerrillas, with 60 units taking the lead, an increase from 120 battalions and 40 in the lead when he last delivered major speeches on Iraq at the end of 2005. But Democrats pointed out that a Pentagon report last month showed that the number of Iraqi units rated "Level 1," or fully independent of U.S. help, has fallen from one to zero.

Bush says his goal is to have Iraqis control more territory than the "coalition" by the end of the year. Let's see. The total area of Iraq is 437,000 km. The Kurdish region amounts to 36,300 km, or about 8% of the total area (and the Kurds are, of all the Iraqi forces, the best prepared and positioned to police their own territory). The west and south of the country is desert and takes up 35% (we're up to 43% already). Almost 75% of Iraq's population live in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast from Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf.

See where I'm going with this? Bush could fulfill his "goal" of turning over more "territory" to the Iraqi forces than the "coalition" supervises just by ceding to the ill-prepared Iraqis the desert and the unoccupied territories.

Don't see how that would help our troops, though, do you?

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Senior British diplomatic and military staff gave Tony Blair explicit warnings three years ago that the US was disastrously mishandling the occupation of Iraq, according to leaked memos.

"No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis."

That about sums up British envoy John Sawyers' impressions of the U.S. execution of the Iraq war.

The memos - written in the immediate aftermath of Mr. Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" photo op on the USS Lincoln - detail a devastating ineptness and indifference at every level of the occupation. The Guardian's laundry list of Sawers' observations include:

* A lack of interest by the US commander, General Tommy Franks, in the post-invasion phase.
* The presence in the capital of the US Third Infantry Division, which took a heavyhanded approach to security.
* Squandering the initial sympathy of Iraqis.
* Bechtel, the main US civilian contractor, moving too slowly to reconnect basic services, such as electricity and water.
* Failure to deal with health hazards, such as 40% of Baghdad's sewage pouring into the Tigris and rubbish piling up in the streets.

Sound familiar? As SusanG points out, it's the Bush administration standard M.O. Whether it's foreign policy or domestic initiatives, this is the way the Bush gang governs, folks.

[Emphasis mine.]

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The LA Times reports that for the first time Iranian reformers and conservatives agree that talks with the U.S. on the nuclear and regional security issues are in the best interests of Iran. But, the report continued, at the same time the Iranians are moving towards talks, the U.S. appears to be moving in the other direction.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John R. Bolton said Monday, "I don't think we have anything to say to the Iranians."

Here we go again. The Bushies would rather rattle sabers, finance revolution and talk trash than try to exercise diplomacy. Somebody should have made Georgie and Dickie take conflict resolution classes in college instead of letting them slack off in the fraternity houses planning hazing activities.

The nuclear issue would not be the most important item to be resolved in talks with the United States, Hadian added. For the Americans, he said, the key issues are cooperation on Iraq and curtailment of Iran's support of groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The Iranians would like security guarantees and a push for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, he said.

Strategically, he said, the United States and Iran share many aims, including stability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as free movement of oil through the Persian Gulf.

"Both sides have demands," he said. "For a fundamental resolution of the problem, the U.S. should engage, and other issues should be on the table."

The two nations "need one another. They just cannot ignore one another," he said.

As a matter of pride, many Iranians would like to be taken seriously enough by the United States to be engaged directly.

Moreover, diplomats said that what Iran wants most, only the U.S. can give: security guarantees and access to technology and foreign investment.

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Monday, March 13


Oh, this is just surreal. Bush is telling us to stockpile food under our beds to prepare for an outbreak of bird flu?

This SO brings back memories of my early childhood in Florida during the Cuban Misssile Crisis. Daddy was an Air Force officer, we lived on one AF base in north Florida, only 45 miles east of largest Air Force base in the nation and 95 miles east of the huge, strategic Pensacola Naval Air Station (famous for Top Gun training). As you can see, the idea of Cuban nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. would definitely make the denizens of all northwest Florida a trifle nervous and behaving for that time as if bullseye-targets were painted on their foreheads. Especially the military families.

Anyway, the reason the stories relate is that during those 14 days in October 1962 my mother bought huge quantities of canned foods, which she hid in what we called the "dirty clothes closet" behind the laundry bins. She filled the bathtubs in our house with water and wouldn't allow us to use them. We had to take "sponge baths" from the sink during that time. The bathtub water was to be our drinking water in an emergency.

This is one of my favorite Mama stories. She was so much what in my later, romantic-English-literature-influenced teens I thought of as the "chatelaine" -- the woman responsible for the family's domestic comfort and well-being, and the upkeep of the castle. In our shabby-genteel Southern military family, Mama took upon herself all that and the family's survival, too, if necessary. She'd done it so many times when Daddy was on a temporary duty somewhere for months at a time. And now, when we were being told that there were Cuban missiles pointed directly at our home, Mama was going to do all she could to see that our family survived.

She swore us children to secrecy about our food and water stash. For days we kids struggled with the idea of "What if a neighbor came to the door pounding and asking for food, would we deny them?" We shared those thoughts with Mama, but she invariably insisted that we couldn't support more than our own family, and that if we tried to feed everybody we'd all starve.

Then one day, about three or four days before the crisis was resolved and we all felt safe again, we found Mother emptying the bathtubs. We watched breathlessly as she took all the canned goods out of the dirty clothes closet and moved them to the kitchen cabinets. When she was done she looked at us directly and said she'd got to thinking about what she'd do if one of our neighbors (who were all like family) came to the door. She realized there was no way she would ever be able to deny anything she had to any one who needed it, and she decided, she said, that the healthiest thing would be just to live our normal lives and quit trying to make plans for a survival that didn't include all of us.

It's the same reason she gave my dad later for not wanting a bomb shelter. "Who would we keep out?" she asked.

That's not to say that it's not a nice feeling to have a whole lot of preserved food and water stashed somewhere in your house. Just in case you get hungry or thirsty.


More bad poll news for Bush. 36%
approval, 60% disapproval. Some highlights:

Two-thirds of those surveyed told pollsters that history will remember Bush most for the March 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the battle against a persistent insurgency that followed the Hussein regime's collapse.
With congressional elections approaching, public discontent with the war appeared to be taking a toll on Bush's fellow Republicans.

Only 32 percent polled over the weekend said they thought Bush had a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, while 67 percent said he did not.

Only 25 percent said Democrats had a clear plan -- but 48 percent said Democrats would do a better job managing the issue, while 40 percent favored Republicans.

Those figures, along with weakened support for GOP handling of the battle against terrorism, have given Democrats a 16 percentage point lead over Republicans when registered voters are asked which party they will support in November.
Republicans held a 4-point advantage over Democrats on dealing with terrorism, 45 to 41 percent. And despite increasing optimism about economic conditions, Democrats held a strong lead over the GOP, 53-38 percent, when asked which party would better manage the economy.
The latest poll found 51 percent of Americans believed the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, while 46 percent disagreed.


Keith Olbermann just reported that before Russ Feingold could introduce his resolution for censure against President Bush:

(1) Dick Cheney had already responded to the remarks, condemning it in Wisconsin, Feingold's home state, calling it an "outrageous proposition that we ought to protect our enemies' ability to communicate."

(2) Bill Frist had already fought over when to vote on the resolution that hadn't been introduced.

(3) Arlen Specter interrupted Feingold's remarks several times asking to get a copy of the document that Feingold hadn't yet introduced.

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What are they thinking?

Harry Reid declines to endorse, says he "hasn't read it."

Nancy Pelosi declines to endorse and says, "the House and the Senate must fully investigate the program and assign responsibility for any laws that may have been broken." AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN WHILE THE RETHUGS CONTROL CONGRESS. Just ask Sen. Pat Roberts.

John Kerry says he will "need to take a closer look at a proposal that would censure President Bush over the president's domestic spying program before he decides whether to support it."

I suppose these Democratic leaders are hoping against hope that we'll take over control of the House or Senate in the 2006 midterm elections and that then they'll get the opportunity for a little oversight. At the rate of events under Bush, the illegal wiretapping will be an old story and dead issue something along the lines of the Downing Street Memo. Bush is still breaking the law RIGHT NOW, the current Congressional leadership won't investigate it (are you kidding?) honestly, and Feingold's resolution is the best thing we've got going to refocus media and public attention on this issue. There's no real debate: almost every legal expert has declared that Bush is breaking the law, he's flaunting it, and he's pledged to continue doing it. A responsible Senate HAS NO CHOICE but to bring such a resolution to the floor AND TO PASS IT. Any Senator opposing it says by doing so that he/she doesn't care if the president violates the Constitution and the law of the land as long as that president is George W. Bush.

Dems better rethink, and think fast, about opposing the resolution, especially those eyeing the presidency in 2008.

One Democratic political organizer, Joseph Trippi, told The New York Sun that Mr. Feingold's call will require some response from other contenders for the 2008 nomination.

"Regardless of the public opposition and of how many people roll their eyes, this is pretty serious stuff," Mr. Trippi said. "I think it's going to have an effect on the rest of the field."

Mr. Trippi said he thought Mr. Feingold's motivations were sincere and consistent with his long track record in favor of civil liberties. The senator is already popular among online activists, sometimes called the "netroots," and will gain ground with his latest move, the analyst said.

Mr. Trippi warned that any potential candidate who dismisses the censure idea risks being flamed online. "Anybody who says this is going too far is somebody who's probably writing off that side of things," he said. "Anybody who writes off the netroots or says you don't have to pay attention is really playing with dynamite."

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Do you find you are hearing more news and enjoying it less? (sorry, bad play on old cigarette commercial)

There's a reason. And you already know what it is. Instead of investigating stories, most are reading the same talking points and echoing them ad nauseum or transcribing government-issue press releases, while broadcasting interviews with the same small cast of characters over and over. The Project for Excellence in Journalism, an institute affiliated with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has issued its third annual review of the state of American journalism. It calls cable news coverage "shallow." And while bloggers "did almost no original reporting," the study cited blogs as addressing "broader, longer-term issues." The MSM is so busy jumping from one story to the next (unless the disappearance of a pretty young white woman is involved), it is left to the blogs to digest, parse and provide context for what news emerges from the corporate-sponsored echo chamber.

As part of the review, a special study looked at how a variety of outlets, including newspapers, television, radio and the Internet, covered a single day's worth of news and concluded that there was enormous repetition and amplification of just two dozen stories. Moreover, it said, "the incremental and even ephemeral nature of what the media define as news is striking."

On May 11, 2005, a date that was chosen randomly, Congress was debating the appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, the actor Macaulay Culkin was testifying in Michael Jackson's molestation trial and car bombs in Iraq killed 79 people.

On that day, the study said, " Google News offers access within two clicks to 14,000 stories, but really they are accounts of just 24 news events."
The blogosphere, meanwhile, shrugged off most of the breaking news, focusing largely on broader, longer-term issues.

"Contrary to the charge that the blogosphere is purely parasitic," the study said, bloggers raised new issues.
Cable news was the "shallowest" and most "ephemeral" of the media, the study said. Newspapers, which are the biggest news-gathering organizations, covered the most topics, provided the most extensive sourcing and provided the most angles on particular events, it said, "though perhaps in language and sourcing tilted toward elites."

Many of the national broadcast reports quoted the same few people.

"More coverage, in other words, does not always mean greater diversity of voices," the study said. "Consuming the news continuously does not mean being better informed."

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the project, said that reporters seemed to be increasingly shunted off to an isolated area while covering events, as they were during the recent mining disaster in West Virginia, giving them little first-hand access.

"The irony is that having more reporters doesn't mean more coverage," he said. "It means more reporters crowded into one corner of the scene."

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Is Katharine Harris going to end her Senatorial campaign in Florida?

The Longboat Key Republican's campaign is barely stumbling along after revelations that she took thousands in illegal contributions from a defense contractor who bribed a California congressman.

And while she has had little to say about the matter, many others are talking, including Republicans worried about losing the Senate race and Democrats emboldened by the financial and political woes confronting Harris.

It's a cinch she won't find running as much fun as previously if more photos like the one above are published. Katherine, as we all know, finds bad pictures "personally painful."

I find most everything about her personally painful.



Angry judge recesses Moussaoui trial. Why is she angry? Because over the weekend the prosecution informed her that, contrary to her prior order that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance, an FAA lawyer actually coached four government FAA witnesses.

"In all the years I've been on the bench, I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses," she said.

Brinkema noted that last Thursday, Novak asked a question that she ruled out of order after the defense said the question should result in a mistrial. In that question, Novak suggested that Moussaoui might have had some responsibility to go back to the FBI, after he got a lawyer, and then confess his terrorist ties.

Brinkema warned the government at that point that it was treading on shaky legal ground because she said she knew of no case where a failure to act resulted in a death penalty as a matter of law.

The government's success rate in convicting terrorists is less than impressive. Inflated charges, flimsy evidence, and prosecutorial/governmental misconduct have characterized most of the cases tried so far. That robust, critical U.S.A. Patriot Act and NSÅ domestic spy program sure are making me feel safer, how about you?

An analysis of the Justice Department's own list of terrorism prosecutions by The Washington Post shows that 39 people -- not 200, as officials have implied -- were convicted of crimes related to terrorism or national security.

Most of the others were convicted of relatively minor crimes such as making false statements and violating immigration law -- and had nothing to do with terrorism, the analysis shows. For the entire list, the median sentence was just 11 months.

Taken as a whole, the data indicate that the government's effort to identify terrorists in the United States has been less successful than authorities have often suggested."

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Former SCOTUS justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republlican and Reagan nominee, utters an electrifying warning in a closed forum, with only one reporter (NPR's Nina Totenberg) present. No recording, no transcripts, just Nina's notes. So the Guardian's Jonathan Raban asks why?

O'Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
These are peculiar times, and when Republican politicians appear to endorse the killing of judges who make rulings of which they disapprove, it's maybe understandable that a distinguished judge like Sandra Day O'Connor, expressing views calculated to enrage Republican politicians, might sensibly look to a small podium with a weak sound system for fear of being heard too clearly by the likes of Cornyn and DeLay.

That last paragraph is chilling, isn't it?

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Sunday, March 12


George Stephanopoulos has been asking his political guests whether or not they would sign the South Dakota abortion ban legislation that was signed into law last week by Governor Mike Rounds.

AZ Senator John McCain, MA Governor Mitt Romney, AR Governor Mike Huckabee, all say they would sign the South Dakota abortion ban.

VA Senator George Allen said he would not sign it, and Bill Frist dodged the question.

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Just heard on This Week.

In an exclusive interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on the Senate to publicly admonish President Bush for approving domestic wiretaps on American citizens without first seeking a legally required court order.

"This conduct is right in the strike zone of the concept of high crimes and misdemeanors," said Feingold, D-Wis., a three-term senator and potential presidential contender.

He said President Bush had, "openly and almost thumbing his nose at the American people," continued the NSA domestic wiretap program.
"We, as a Congress, have to stand up to a president who acts like the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on Sept 11, [2001]," Feingold said.

UPDATE: Sign here to be a citizen co-sponsor of Feingold's resolution of censure.

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McCain cheerleads for Bush during Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Listen, my independent friends who think John McCain is an acceptable compromise between voting Democrat and voting Republican. John McCain is an opportunist who thinks George Bush is right on nearly all the issues; he just believes he'll be more effective at implementing policy. Where McCain disagrees with Dubya, his principles are flexible enough to allow him to knuckle under as long as he's satisfied that the impression is left that he's a tough maverick (case in point: the U.S. use of torture). If you're unhappy with Bush policy, you'll be unhappy with John McCain. And personally, he's mean as a snake and nearly as sly -- is that the sort of man you want to be president? Oh, I forgot, that's right, it is -- you voted for Bush/Cheney in 2000 and 2004.

On one side, Senator John McCain of Arizona offered a full embrace of a president he has quarreled with over the years — Mr. Bush defeated him for the presidential nomination in an acrid campaign in 2000 — as he urged Republicans to rally around Mr. Bush in a difficult time and to focus on the midterm elections ahead.

"We must keep our presidential ambitions a distant second to standing with the president of the United States," Mr. McCain said.
The extent of Mr. McCain's embrace of Mr. Bush was striking, and Republicans here suggested it reflected two political facts: that he needed to reassure conservatives of his loyalty to Mr. Bush, and that, at this point, he was in a strong enough position in this field to have flexibility in presenting himself.

Mr. McCain went so far as to condemn the collapse of the port deal, saying that Congress had served Mr. Bush poorly by not permitting a 45-day review of security concerns, though he did not mention that the deal was sunk by fellow Republicans.

"The president deserved better," Mr. McCain said.

Mr. McCain praised the president for his failed effort to rewrite the Social Security system, said he supported the decision to go into Iraq and blistered at critics who suggested the White House had fabricated evidence of unconventional weapons in Iraq to justify the invasion.

"Anybody who says the president of the United States is lying about weapons of mass destruction is lying," Mr. McCain said.

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