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Friday, 28 October 2005
A culture of corruption!
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. He has just resigned. So far, the word is Karl Rove is still under investigation and might be indicted later on. Actually, this is even worse for the White House because they'll have this Rove thing hanging over their heads maybe for months more to come. W. scooted out of DC this morning to make a speech on terrorism---always stick with the classics---but how long can W. stay out of Washington? Well, I guess for quite a while, he's pretty good at that sort of thing. Right now, I'm just going to focus on the other White House disaster, the Harriet Miers cave in, because this news is too new and we'll all need to take a deep breath and see what this is all about.

p.s. I can't wait for the very public trial right around election time!

David Brooks, big time douche bag:

The consensus on the failure of the Miers nomination seems to be in pundit-world that Bush yanked her out under pressure from his right wing, nut job, koo-koo base; it wasn't about documents as some Republicans and their pundit minions still insist. Last night on the NEWSHOUR David Brooks was sitting there with that cat-that-ate-the-canary-smile on his face---looking all warm and cozy over all the good work he did in killing the nomination---when out of nowhere Mark Shields goes medieval on him accusing him and the other right wingers of having their fingerprints all over the scene of the crime. He called Brooks and his ilk "hypocrites," for flunking Miers' on her litmus test, before she could even defend herself in front of the Judiciary Committee.

That wiped the self satisfied smirk off Brook's face for a minute: he, being a poor little old Op-Ed writer, could hardly have derailed a judicial nomination! "Do you think she was qualified?" he asked Shields. Of course, that's not the issue. The question isn't whether she was qualified, but rather, what about giving her 'an up or down vote?' Senator Sam Brownback (A major douche bag.) had been interviewed in the previous segment and he had maintained the fiction that without more documentation on her judicial philosophy, he couldn't have backed her and this is where the hypocrisy comes in. Isn't that always the right wing mantra when W. has sent these rabid nominees up in the past, give the nominee an up or down vote? When Democrats have requested documents on past nominees in order to divine their philosophy and the White House has stonewalled them, the right wing pulls out the "litmus test" bugaboo and demands an up or down vote. For Brooks to say his Op-Eds along with the avalanche of negativity orchestrated by David Frum and William Kristal had nothing to do with the killing of this nomination is just beyond the pale.

For my part, it's not that I was happy with the nomination either, but my concerns were more about her being a lapdog for Bush on the Court, backing his draconian policies on the war on terror; a concern barely brought up by the Democrats. I didn't agree with the notion that the Democrats should have gone ahead and backed her confirmation because it "could have been worse:" There was still the danger of her being very deferential to corporate interests and there wasn't any guarantee she wouldn't help overthrow Roe.

The strategy of standing back and letting the Republicans cannibalize each other, though, seems to have been effective both at killing the nomination and making the Dems look like the reasonable ones. On the one hand, I was irked that Democratic leader Harry Ried came right out and backed her, but on the other hand, whether intentional or not, his praise for Miers got the right wingers thinking there must be something wrong with her even before David Frum & Co. rolled out the guillotine. So, I'm happy she's out of there but the question is what is coming in her wake.

The fire breathing types on the other side have made their point, though: 'we got you into this position, now do our bidding, or else.' I would expect Attila the Hun to be the next nominee because this is what happens when an administration decides to govern solely from its most radical base of support and leave the moderates out in the cold. At this point they have no choice but to choose a divisive candidate. Bush may have been able to get Miers confirmed with the votes of the Democrats and moderate Republicans, but he decided to cave to the worst angels of our nature, again, and he's paid a big price for it.

The right wingers can't contain their glee over their big victory and are now girding for the battle of the century over whoever Bush picks next, who they fully expect to be their kind of guy. (And it will be a guy.) This might not turn out to be the Rapture they're anticipating, though, elections are coming up very soon and if they come off looking like the frothing at the mouth religious fanatics they really are, they might wind up alienating more moderate voters and independents. If they go too far, they could push themselves right out of power and into the political wilderness. I've already heard right wingers saying if the Dems want a filibuster fight 'bring it on,' and I hope they keep it up; that kind of arrogance it just the thing most Americans are really getting sick of.

Crazy Iranians:

Speaking of religious extremists...Iran, another country with a problem of being run by a radical minority, is getting racked over the coals for President Mamoud Ahmandinejad's comments that Israel should be wiped off the map. Today they held their annual post Ramadan "death to Israel, death to America, death to Britain" rally and gave the finger to the world community who have rightly condemned Ahmandinejad's anti-Israel tirade. The traditional burning of the Israeli and American flags will, of course, wind up being used by Tony Blair to make hay with his calls for something to be done about a country that is seeking nuclear weapons while calling for the destruction of Israel. "If they continue down this path, then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world security and stability." [BBC] The question is what can be done? Israel is calling for Iran to be thrown out of the United Nations, but none of this will amount to much in the long run.

I still say this is much to do about nothing, because this has been Iran's policy all along, nothing has changed, except that now they have a president who is obviously oblivious to foreign policy concerns. The real powers that be in Tehran won't allow this type of thing to continue, they have too much at stake. They can't afford to have a loose cannon blundering around pissing off India and China while at the same time trying to make money selling their natural gas and oil to them. War is bad for business, in this case, especially since Iran's position in the region right now is so strong.

Crazy Iraqis:

If we were to do something militarily about Iran, we might find ourselves in the funny position of having to shift our support to the Sunnis in Iraq, because the Iranians have more sway with the Shiites than we do these days. If we attacked Iran they just might start an insurgency of their own against us. I thought it was interesting that during the opening of the trial against Saddam, the Shiite prosecutor, Jaafar al-Musawi, started to go into a litany of Saddam's "odious crimes" including "a war with no justification against our neighbor Iran." Sadoun al-Janabi, the defense lawyer who was kidnapped and killed later that day, asked al-Musawi in objecting to the listing of crimes not included in the Dujail case, "What are you, an Iraqi or an Iranian?" To me, that was a very interesting line of defense, pulling out the nationalism card. (And is probably what got him killed.) The nationalism issue brings up even more serious questions about our supposed democratic friends the Shiites, or at least the faction of Shiites who are beholden to Iran and where their loyalties really lie.

The Sunnis main objection to the new Constitution was their fear that it would lead to the disintegration of Iraq. They seem to be the only Iraqis that want to remain Iraqis: the Shiites and the Kurds appear to be very comfortable with the possibility of an emasculated Iraq. The Kurds are justifiably leery of a strong government in Baghdad because of what's happened to them in the past, which is understandable. Besides, they're not even Arabs and have made no secret of their ambition to have their own country in the future. The Shiites on the other hand, might prefer to have a fragmented and weak Iraq with a strong Iran dominating the region. If it's our policy to have a secure, democratic Iraq being the shining light of the Middle East, we'd better think about making up with the Sunnis, because they seem to be the only ones who really want to be Iraqis.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:25 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005 2:41 PM EDT
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Thursday, 27 October 2005
Crashing and burning: W.s gone fishin'.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Just when we're all biting our nails to the nub over what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is going to do about the Plame leak case, Harriet Miers steals the show by withdrawing her name from consideration for the her nomination to the Supreme Court. W., meanwhile, is in Florida with the Jebster helping him to take responsibility for the slow distribution of water, ice and food to people who are lined up for blocks waiting hours for it, sometimes overnight. Jebster wants you to know that, it’s not FEMA's fault! If you all are real good and don't ask any hard questions about the Miers nomination, W. will put on his tool belt and hammer some nails.

Anyway, Miers told Bush in her resignation letter that she felt that since W. had said he wasn't going to cross that "red line" of turning over internal White House documents describing her work involving torture and Gitmo detainees, in particular, she would find it difficult to answer questions that were likely to be asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, especially by Arlen Specter who wrote to Miers yesterday letting her know he was going to ask her some very involved questions about Guantanamo and her closeness to the president and whether she would have "any special deference on any matter involving him" that might come before the court. (I think what really pushed her over the edge, though, was Concerned Women for America pulling their endorsement. See, they're women and they're concerned, concerned for America. That was a bridge too far for this administration.)

Naturally, keep in mind this was totally Miers' decision, Andy Card had nothing to do with it at all. Asked yesterday whether the White House would withdraw the nomination, Specter said, "Anything is possible, but my sense is her nomination will not be withdrawn. I think it would be a mistake and a sign of weakness on the part of the administration for that to happen." Since she fell on the sword herself, the White House comes out looking like roses, right? That's why W. is out of town today. (Where's the president of Macedonia when you need him?)

The real question about this nomination is why did it take them so long to withdraw her name? ATC had no problem finding Republican senators who had a real tough time saying anything good about Miers and I'm sure the White House has been hearing this for weeks. Richard Wolf, senior White House correspondent for Newsweek, said on Radio Times today that the timing of this had something to do with managing the bad news, getting it all into one bunch, assuming bad things come out of the Plame Grand Jury today or tomorrow and more importantly they need her back in the WH counsel’s office more than they need her in the Supreme Court right now.

The Counsel’s office is completely overwhelmed with defending the administration against FEMA's disastrous management on Katrina, among other things, and it's going to get a lot busier if Libby and Rove need legal help. At present the office is without a head and things are a little chaotic, although word is Miers was partly responsible for a lot of chaos before she left. Wolf also says there's a perverse sense of the "boil being lanced," not having to take a beating from their base over this nominee anymore.

I don't think this administration can take one more thing going wrong. There's Katrina, Iraq, Plame, Miers, DeLay, Frist, and God knows what's going to come out of the Jack Abramoff investigations. There is a definite tipping point here; is Andy Card up to it, because W. is probably going to be out of town a lot.

On the Karina/FEMA front:

The administration had extended Michael Brown's job for another 30 days at his annual $148,000, according to DHS director Michael Chertoff, in order to, "allow the new people who have responsibility...to have access to the information we need to do better." So we're paying this jackass to tell DHS how not to fuck things up next time? It will be interesting to see if they keep paying him when he gets hauled in front of congress to explain the inconsistencies in his testimony under oath, which were exposed by FEMA employee Marty Bahamonde's emails, which show that while he was the only FEMA employee in New Orleans---Brown said there were a dozen and a medical team---while everything fell apart at the Superdome. According to Brown's press secretary he was too busy trying to get some dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant while the levies were flooding the Big Easy. "OH MY GOD!!!!!!, I just eat an MRE and crapped in the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants." Classic!

On the Gitmo front:

This hunger strike story just won't go away. There are at least 20 detainees on hunger strike, what the pentagon calls, "voluntary fasting," who are being force fed through tubes down their noses. Letta Taylor of Newsday, reports, "The Pentagon has engaged in a new form of medical abuse at Guantanamo Bay by force-feeding detainees on a hunger strike in ways that are deliberately painful and that cause life threatening vomiting and weight loss, defense attorneys say." Lawyers for the detainees have filed complaints in federal court which allege that, "doctors and guards intentionally trust feeding tubes covered in blood and bile from one detainee’s nose into another inmate's nose and that they deny prisoners anesthesia."

A day after John McCain got the anti-torture measure passed, FT reported, "Amnesty International called for an independent body to be given full access to the facilities [at Gitmo] to investigate and report on the allegations," of hunger strikers being force fed by tubes. [BG] "Amnesty said, 'it fully supported' the goals of the hunger strikers---which include the right to a fair trial, contact with families, access to sunlight, and a central demand to observe and report openly on their conditions." How crazy is that? Just because some of them have been in detention for years without any proof that they've ever done anything wrong, why should they be able to talk to their families or see sunlight?

On the day we hit the 2000 benchmark, W. said that these terrorists are as "brutal an enemy as we have ever faced, unconstrained by humanity and by the rules of warfare." So, why should we be constrained by any silly rules or treaties we've signed and have been ratified by the Senate, that the Constitution says is the law of the land? Dick Dick Cheney went up to the Hill last Thursday to try to get McCain to change the language of his anti-torture measure to exempt the CIA from having to abide by the Army's field manual's rules on the treatment of prisoners. The exemption Cheney wants and what McCain rejected, said the measure---passed by the Senate 90-9--- "shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense and are consistent with the Constitution and the laws of the United States and treaties to which the United States is a party, if the president determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack."

That a pretty big loophole. McCain said, "I don't see how you could possibly agree to legitimizing an agent of the government engaging in torture. No amendment at all would be better than that." This White House provision would basically endorse torture. Of course, not that the government has ever engaged in torture: just because the ACLU has found from the government’s own records that 21 prisoners have been killed in custody, that's no reason to tie the president's hand in the war on terror. [Hear Tom Wilber, a lawyer for Kuwaiti prisoners at Gitmo, on the feeding tube issue on Here and Now today.]

Crazy Iranians:
Reuters reports newly elected Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said at a "World Without Zionism" conference that Israel was a "disgraceful blot" and should be "wiped off the map." Scott McClellan was quick to respond that, "I think it reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions." Number one; I think we should be a lot more concerned about the various Iranian groups operating inside Iraq and their influence on the Iraqi "government" which they appear to have a lot more of than we do these days. Iran's introduction of new and more deadly roadside bombs into Iraq are a much bigger threat to us than whatever some figurehead says at a rally designed for domestic consumption.

What he said was, "There is no doubt that the new wave in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world." It's just the same old lip service every autocratic government in the Middle East pays to the Palestinians. I don't see any imminent threat of a nuclear attack on Israel. Suicide bombers in Israel aren't about to burn Israel in "a fire of the Islamic nation's fury." This Ahmadinejad character is a joke, he doesn't make policy or have anymore pull than Mohammad Katami did. This is much to do about nothing.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:30 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005 2:39 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 26 October 2005
Never listen to the mob, they never know what they want.
Topic: General News.

A new poll out taken by a Republican pollster, Ed Goeas, and a Democratic pollster, Celinda Lake, that was sponsored by George Washington University found that 58% of voters said the federal government did a poor job responding to hurricane Katrina. That's not much of a surprise, but what is interesting is how they said they would pay for Katrina relief: As we know W.'s plan is to slash social programs that help the poor and make tax cuts to the rich permanent. Voters surveyed in this poll, reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, had other ideas; 73 percent said they would, "cut highway spending that did not go directly to roadwork, 68 percent said they would raise taxes on people earning $200,000 a year, and 63 percent said they would start withdrawing troops from Iraq and pull all of them out by the end of next year."

These are pretty large majorities, why are the Democrats so terrified of forcefully calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq? Hillary won't even say whether she regrets voting to give W. authority to go to war, so she's not likely to start a "class war" by calling for more taxes on the rich.

China's nukes:

The Ap reports that, "The U.S. government is trying to help China's booming nuclear-power industry tighten security by conducting demonstrations this week of measures meant to prevent the theft of radioactive material." Before they sign on to this deal the Chinese might want to think about checking out the ABC News report that found nuclear reactors on university campuses around the country are almost defensless. Among its findings: "unmanned guard booths, a guard who appeared to be asleep, unlocked building doors and, in a number of cases, guided tours that provided easy access to control rooms and reactor pools that hold radioactive fuel. The report found none of the college reactors had metal detectors, and only two appear to have armed guards."

Windfall taxes anyone?

The LA Times reports, "When major U.S. energy companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. announce their third-quarter earnings in the next few days, the results are certain to be staggering. Exxon Mobil alone is expected to report quarterly profit of about $8.7 billion." House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is said to have really taken the bull by the horns and told the oil companies to invest some of that money in building new refinaries, in order to "ease the pain" of high prices. (Whoa there, Dennis, don't get all marxist on us.) They could just stop gouging consumers, but you know...By the way, didn't congress already pass the no-oilman-left-behind Act that was supposed to help them out with refinary construction?

Apparently, some in congress want to "slap the industry with a windfall-profit tax like the one imposed in 1980." But, they're so generous! Remember that, all the major oil companies as a group gave $11 million whole dollars to Katrina relief!!!! So what if "together, the 29 major oil and gas firms in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index are expected to earn $96 billion this year, up from $68 billion last year and $43 billion in 2000," big deal, they're broke. Don't you know all those government environmental laws are just killing them, otherwise they'd be more charitable. No doubt, that W. and congress will charitable to the oil industry and we'll hear no more about wind fall profits taxes.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:22 PM EDT
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Wanna buy some wood?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Not that we've never had problems with the Great White North, but the relationship between Canada and us looks pretty bleak these days, even with a new conservative government led by Paul Martin that the right wingers predicted would be a lot more cozy with W. This happy vision of solid North American front behind George W. Bush and all his works may have been a tad overly optimistic, in retrospect. (Besides, W. & Co. are hardly conservatives.) From the beginning, things started off on the wrong foot when W. went to Canada to meet Martin and insisted on pressuring him on missile defense. Martin was reportedly furious that Bush leaned on him when he had already told Condi that he didn't want to discuss, what for him, is a very touchy political hot potato. Rice had assured Martin it wouldn’t come up before the meeting, but you can't tell W. anything; he, having never had trouble always getting everything we wants handed to him on a silver platter, doesn't understand some governments in the world really are democracies and their politicians actually have to answer to their constituencies. A large majority of Canadians are not on board with spending a bunch of money on a technology that hasn't worked, after many billions already spent so far (And appears unlikely ever to work.), and they want nothing to do with Star Wars, period.

When you factor in the long running trade dispute over softwood lumber imports from Canada and the $ 4 billion a NAFTA ruling says the US owes them for unfairly collecting duties on those imports, it's easy to see why Condi's visit to Ottawa this Monday was a bit strained. Paul Martin has been pretty undiplomatic about the whole thing and has said the administration's behavior on the lumber trade is "a breach of faith," and demands the "duties must be refunded." Joel Brinkley in the NYT writes that partly as a result of the lumber issue Canada is, "Working hard to build its relationship with China...some officials are saying Canada may shift a significant portion of its trade, particularly oil, from the United States to China." China is already buying up major Canadian oil companies like a kid in a candy shop----it's odd that there are no panicked investigations going on congress over the Chinese take over of our biggest energy importer's oil industry---a State Department official says, though, "Petroleum is a fungible resource, are we are going to fill our energy needs from wherever we can get oil." There you go, 'don't worry be happy:' that's their great plan; screw a friendly country that provides most of our energy needs, lets protect a miniscule special interest, instead. (Is there a country out there that we haven't alienated yet, particularly one that exports oil to us? Oh yeah, Saudi Arabia; they're still our best buddies.)

Condi says she's willing to talk about the lumber issue with the Canadian's but, "it’s important to keep it in perspective." It's true that lumber is only 3% of Canada's overall trade with the US, but I think the real issue is; they are tired of being pushed around by us (About half the world could probably relate to that.). If it really is such a small matter to Condi, then why are we pushing away such an important ally to protect a relatively small industry compared to our desperate need for fossil fuel? When you consider Canada is planning to send one-quarter of what they're now sending us to China instead, this intransigence seems just slightly counter-productive. Oh well, never mind, we'll just wait on Iraq to become a stable democracy and then they'll make up the difference in what we're losing to China.

The twinkie defense:

John Tierney wrote an Op-Ed in the Times yesterday condemning the Democrats for "gleefully suggesting" Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are getting their just deserts for claiming Saddam had WMD. He writes, "No one deserves to be indicted on conspiracy charges for belonging to a group that believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction." That's such a red herring: if indictments do come down, for either of them, it won't be because the WIGs "believed" Saddam had WMD, it will because an orchestrated whispering campaign was launched by Rove and Libby against Joseph Wilson, who dared to contradict the party line, and in the process they outed a covert agent, his wife, who was considered "fair game," and then, most importantly, tried to cover their tracks when they were hauled in front of a Grand Jury.

The Bush defenders would like to make this an argument about whether the CIA and other country's intelligence services thought Iraq had WMD---Bill and Hillary believed it!---but this time around they're not going to be able to hide behind that lame excuse. Just like when the Clinton bashers had no problem with Ken Starr sniffing Monika's stained blue dress during the Whitewater investigation, they can't turn around now and say Patrick Fitzgerald should focus exclusively on whether Karl Rove and Scooter Libby violated the law by outing a covert agent. A Special Prosecutor can't look the other way when he has evidence of a crime being committed, especially when it's obstruction of justice and perjury. (Isn't that what they slick Willy on?)

By the way, it would have been nice if this "group" had actually known Iraq had WMD, instead of just believing they did, before launching a war that has cost $200 billion, 2000 dead Americans and over 20,000 wounded. The terrible results of this foreign policy mistake---this little boo boo---one could certainly argue, as Howard Dean has, does qualify as a crime, if not treason: Our military is a shadow of its once formidable self, daily being bled white of man power and materiel; our diplomacy is a shambles, we can't even convince other countries that a nuclear Iran is a problem; and we're so broke from this slight miscalculation, that our entire country is in hock to the Chinese for at least the next century.

Tierney can question the motives of Joseph Wilson and make fun of Howard Dean all he wants, but that's pretty weak tea compared to the enormity of the political fallout that's coming from this case. The right wingers are desperately trying to find some justification for Rove and Libby's despicable behavior, but they can't, this time the "twinkie defense" won't do.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:07 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 25 October 2005
A landmark day in Iraq!
Topic: General News.

Reports out today say the Iraqi Constitution has been passed by the Iraqi people. Those rotten Sunnis almost spoiled the show by nearly defeating it by voting "no" in three provinces by a 2/3 vote. The Province of Nineveh turned out to be where the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission investigated irregularities in the tallies but eventually found that only 55% of the vote went against the document and there was no fraud after all. This being Iraq, I take this news with a grain of salt, it's not like they ever get anything else right, but what are you going to do? Now, we move on the December elections for a new parliament where, presumably, the Sunnis will go and vote again but will still have no say in anything because they represent only 20% of the population. Of course, now that the Iraqi people have endorsed what the Shiites and the Kurds have been up to, they can go along and amend the constitution all over again and put in whatever crackpot religious laws they want in and outlaw the Sunnis, for starters. Naturally, in the "run-up" to the election we can expect an "upsurge in violence" that will settle down after the insurgents see they have been massively defeated by democracy and Pease will then reign; we'll bring our troops home and the Shiites will get to massacring the Sunnis without anymore interference from us.

By the way, didn't I hear something the other day about the various military offensives in Anbar province and along the Syrian border having succeeded in crippling the ability of insurgents to use car bombs? I was just wondering if I was dreaming because yesterday the Palestine hotel was almost launched into space by a coordinated, three car bomb attack that luckily failed in its apparent attempt to kill a lot of western journalists. Iraqi national security advisor Mouwafak al-Rubaie claimed the attacks had been a "very clear" effort to take foreign journalists hostage and I kept hearing this repeated all day on the NPR news reports, but if it was a hostage taking plot, why wasn't there any evidence of hostage takers being involved? This al-Rubaie fellow ought to look into getting a job as national security advisor in the Bush administration; I think they'd like the cut of his jib. Steven Hadley said he blew the "16 words" in the state of the union speech and he got promoted; Condi blew 9/11 and she got to be Secretary of State. This Iraqi might go far with his wild assertions based on nothing.

The AP reports also, "The U.S. military said two Marines were killed by a roadside bomb during fighting with insurgents on Friday near Amiriyah, a village in western Baghdad. That raised to 1,999 the number of members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003." Scott McClellan said the news of the constitution passing was a, "Landmark day in the history of Iraq." Some might say hitting 2000 dead is a landmark in the histroy of Iraq, too.

Speaking of NPR: has anybody, besides me, ever noticed the stories they decide to go with on the weekends are a little odd? This past Saturday they ended one update with a story about a speech Gorbachev gave and the report went something like this: "In a speech today, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbechev said the US and Russia were both victorious at the end of world war 2." End of story, that was it! What was that all about, who decided this was worthy of the time it took to read?

Central Asia News:

In another lurch towards the good old days of Stalinism, Vladimir Putin has banished tycoon Mikhail Khordorkovsky to a prison in Chita, Siberia. (You really got to love the classics.) There he will serve out the rest of his 8 year sentence on tax evasion and fraud charges, which were basically trumped up because Putin viewed Khordorkovsky as a political threat. Khordorkovsky's business partner, Platon Lebedev, has also been sent to Siberia. This ridiculously heavy handed treatment should be an example to others in Russia who think there should be any other leader besides Czar Vladimir.

What does the great Soviet expert Condoleezza Rice have to say about this? I don't know, she's too busy making kissy faces with Kazakhstani autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev, who she knows from his days in the Soviet Politburo and her days at Chevron making oil deals with him. Nazarbyev is busy getting ready for next year's elections where he will try to win the election by 100%, instead of the usual 96%. Since Kazakhstan is drowning in oil and the Chinese are very interested in all that oil and natural gas, I don't think Condi will be looking too closely at this particular cult of personality. Here's a good rundwon of what went on when Condi made Nazarbayev answer questiosn from the US press: Gateway Pundit.

Uzbekistan:

Uzbek dissident Elena Urlaeva has been delared insane by the Usbek government and is being forced to take forced psychiatric treatment, Human Rights Watch says. "The Uzbek government has shown its willingness to use Stalinist-era tactics in its campaign against human rights defenders," says Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Her great crime, according to the Uzbek police, was being caught with "four copies of the caricature in her possession, as well as 75 copies of a pamphlet describing the Ozod Dekhon ("Free Peasants") party, an unregistered independent political party of which she is a member. The government said she was also carrying 65 pages of printed text "critical of the policies of the president and government of Uzbekistan." [HRW]

"On May 14, the State Department certified that Uzbekistan made “substantial and continuing progress” in meeting its human rights and democracy commitments under the “Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework,” signed in March 2002," according to Muslim Uzbekistan, which gives a rundown of US whitewahing of that countries human rights "progress." No word that I can find, yet, on what the US is doing about the Elena Urlaeva case.

More Azerbaijan news:

Assistant Secretary of State, Daniel Fried, said there were "disturbing reports" of pre election abuses and excessive use of police force in the run-up to the Nov. 6 elections in the oil rich country. The US urged the Azeri government to run free and fair elections and noted signs of backsliding on its commitment to do so. Well, I'm sure Daniel Fried has just struck fear into the heart of Ilham Alyev and he'll get right on cleaning up his act.

Holy Toledo!

I, along with everybody else, probably said to themselves when they heard about the riots there last week: 'Whaaa?' All I heard was that Nazis had showed up to march in LaGrange, a black neighborhood in Toledo and there had been so much opposition to their presence that the police told them they couldn’t march and at some point rocks got thrown and teargas was released. According to Time, it turns out this story started a while back when, "Thomas Szych, who is white, complained that local African-American children were dealing drugs and made hundreds of calls of complaints to local police. In interviews with Toledo media, Szych described two African-American police officers as 'gorillas with guns.' But the police found little evidence of gangs in the neighborhood."

This obsession with one particular woman's pre-teen children, who he regularly video taped, eventually led to Szych getting some local press which wound up attracting the attention of this Nazi group who decided to get some press of their own by marching in support of this jackass. Times writes, "Many in LaGrange, including members of the police, now believe Szych may have had something to do with the Roanoke Nazis' deciding to visit Toledo. Szych denies any involvement. But soon after the police cordon began pushing back against the Saturday crowds, sending mobs of people through the neighborhood, one of the first buildings attacked was Szych's house, about three blocks away. Rocks and bricks were hurled through the windows and Szych appeared on his porch, firing warning shots into the air, according to news reports by the Toledo Blade."

Afterwards, Szych said if the Toledo police wouldn't do their job then more power to the Nazis, this after denying he had anything to do with them coming. [I heard that on CBS' Sunday Morning program but I can't find the link. Their web site sucks!]

Darfur, again.

With all the disasters going on in the world, including the latest hurricane, Wilma, that wrecked southern Florida, along with my parent's house, the world has been ignoring what's going on in Sudan, which has gone from bad to worse. Read about this at Eric Reeves web site www.sudanreeves.org, who says the crisis is about to get to biblical levels within the next few weeks.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:53 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005 12:07 PM EDT
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Monday, 24 October 2005
A Cheney/Rummy cabal in the White House?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Colin Powell's former chief of staff has said Bush administraion policies are run by a "cabal!" He said, "What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues." Before you go saying Lawrence Wilkerson a yapping dog of liberalism, keep in mind he is retired Army colonel and former director of the Marine Corps War College and thinks W.'s daddy was, "one of the finest presidents we've ever had."

Wilkerson feels the government is totally dysfunctional and warns that,"if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence." This is a pretty stark warning coming from someone who worked in the administration and has solid military and Republican credentials. Not that this is a big shocker, but he also says, Bush "is not versed in international relations, and not too much interested in them, either." [NYT][Transcript of speech]

Of course, Wilkerson isn't the only person who has said this administration is incompetent, but coming from such a high level official with a solid military record and Republican pedigree, he ought to be taken very seriously. From the Chinese/EP-3 incident in April 2001 to 9/11 to Iraq to Katrina; there is undeniable proof that this presidency is a danger to all of us. Whether you're a Bush hater or a Bush lover, you have to admit honestly that it's critically important that the leadership of our country is actually capable of doing their jobs. I don't think this bunch is. If there were ever a better time an impeachment, I can't think of one.

Yes, I loath Bush & Co. and the Republicans in congress, but if you've read this blog for a while you know I'm not necessarily overwhelmed with the Democrats either. Hillary and her band of "centrist Democrats," in particular, are pretty high up on my shit list, too. So, lets have our debates on social issues and whether the war has made us more or less safe, but lets at least agree that as Americans we can do a lot better than George W. Bush and his puppeteer Karl Rove, who are apparently the only ones at this point that think the emperor has a stitch of clothing on.

Our perfect little war with Syria: Who knew?

In the second to last paragraph of a story in the NYT on the pentagon's very dubious estimates of foreign fighters being held in Iraq, Dexter Filkins writes, "The United States military is considering plans to conduct operations inside Syria, using small, covert teams for intelligence gathering." Not that I'm particularly surprised by this, I'm sure we've been going into Syria since the beginning, but what I am stunned by is the revelation that, "A series of clashes have occurred between American and Syrian troops in the last year, including prolonged firefights this summer that killed several Syrians." That's interesting; we've killed Syrian soldiers in combat? Why haven't we heard more about this?

It would seem if Rummy is signing off on these covert missions and is aware of fairly significant battles going on between our troops and the Syrians, he ought to be hauled up in front of congress and be made to explain why we're operating in another country, why he hasn't told anybody about it and what the plan is if things don't go according to plan and we get sucked into a regional conflict. Before you start sending troops into a sovereign nation, especially in that crazy neighborhood, you'd better have thought it through and if we're to judge by Rummy's stellar track record so far, you just know he hasn't. In order to prevent another potential disaster that could go on for decades and destabilize the Middle East----and our energy supplies!---Rummy must be held to account, right now, before he's allowed to go off half cocked on yet another military adventure, which will, no doubt, lead to more untidiness.

In other Rummy news:

This Saturday on his way to Lithuania, Rummy said he wanted this Taliban burning story cleared up as soon as possible, because this bad press going on for weeks over an "unverified allegation" could hurt our standing in the world. [Reuters] An "unverified allegation?" That's a funny way to put it. The pictures seem to be pretty clear.

By the way, the Australian journalist who took the video of the burning corpses, Stephen DuPont, said in an interview that he thought the soldiers involved were simply acting on orders and had no idea they were doing anything other than disposing of some decomposing corpses. (The bodies were returned to the Afghans and buried afterwards.) I'm sure that's true, so the very questionable actions of the Psy-Ops guys should be the real focus of the "investigation," which I'm sure will be very thorough and hard hitting, like all the other pentagon investigations that never find any wrongdoing.

If these Psy-Ops characters are so good at their jobs, being trained in cultural sensitivity etc., why didn't they know that employing the dubious tactic of trying to smoke out some Taliban fighters by taunting them with the bodies of their fallen comrades was destined to backfire? In terms of winning the hearts and minds of the villagers who had to endure the loud rock music they bombarded them with and the crudity of the language they used, I should think this mission was pretty much not accomplished. If this is how our most experienced officers are behaving, I can see why the Taliban are finding it so easy to operate effectively pretty much everywhere in the southeast of the country.

Do I think this is a huge deal, by the way? No, not really; I think, though, the same bunch of lunatics who can always use more recruiting tools will milk this for all its worth, which is why Rummy ought to come down hard on these Psy-OPs idiots, but I'm not going to hold my breath. I feel bad for those poor suckers who were standing around the bodies and will doubtless wind up paying the price.

Harriet Miers and her big Texas payoff:

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it appears Harriet Miers got 10 times the market value for a piece of Superfund land she owned. The judge who appointed the panel that would determine how much the state would pay for the land had taken thousands in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm and he went ahead and picked a business associate of Miers and a fanatical anti-emminent domain advocate. And wha tdo you guess happened? She got $5 an acre when the land was only only really worth about .30 cents an acre. The Inquirer article writes that some feel "Miers handling of conflicts of interest doesn't bode well" for any future entaglements she might have will administration policies that might go before the Supreme Court. Another odd thing about this story is that the state later decided it had paid too much for the land, $106,915, and asked for $26,000 back from Miers. This was back in 2003 and Texas is still waiting. There has been no explaination by the White House as to why she hasn't paid the state of Texas what she owes.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:57 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005 3:29 PM EDT
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Friday, 21 October 2005
Syria to be taken out to the woodshed.
Topic: General News.

The Mehlis Report on the death of Rafik Hariri has come out and it's a shocker. Not that there's any surprise Syria was involved, but what is kind of mind boggling is that Bashar al-Assad actually threatened to blow Hariri and his family up at a meeting the two had in August 2004, this according to the BBC World Service report this morning. You'd think if the Syrians were going to kill someone of such prominence they would at least attempt to provide Assad with some sort of plausible denial. As interesting as that fact is, though, what's even more amazing is that the explosive laden van that killed Hariri was brought into Lebanon on a secure Syrian military road and the suicide bomber that drove it was an Iraqi who was told his target was Ayad Allawi. This use of an Iraqi suicide bomber isn't going to make the Syrian argument that they don't have anything to do with the Iraqi insurgency any easier. Looks like the Syrians have a few diplomatic problems on the horizon.

Even before the UN report Robin Wright in the WaPo writes that the US and France were preparing to introduce two resolutions to the UN next week holding Syria responsible for the Hariri assassination and the flow of illicit arms and individuals into Palestinian camps in Lebanon. The US wanted to include language condemning Syria for supporting terrorism in Iraq but France has nixed that because of Algerian concerns on that matter, in particular, and the Arab world's opposition to the US invasion in general. Word is that the US had been looking at Gen. Kanaan to possibly replace Assad in the event international pressure forced him out over the Mehlis report, but since Kanaan has gone ahead and committed "suicide" US planners are at a loss. Not that that is unusual, I just hope that now that the US has the moral high ground on this issue the brains trust in the administration don't do something stupid like try to pull a coup or bomb Damascus.

More progress in Afghanistan:

What is not going to help our standing in the Muslim world is the desecration of two dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan by burning them. [ABC] Pointing the bodies toward Mecca and calling the Taliban fighters "lady men" is not only an incredibly stupid thing to do, in free and sovereign Afghanistan, but also shows amazingly bad judgment on the part of the Psy-Ops officers responsible for this who should have known better. I don't know if this is as bad or worse as Abu Ghraib but it makes a great recruiting poster for every Muslim extremists group in the world and has done nothing to garner sympathy for our global struggle against violent extremism. (Killing four Afghan policemen last Monday in Maywand and other police shootings in the past month don’t really endear us to the people were supposedly fighting to liberate, either. [Daily Times])

Its a lie, we are not Nazis!

Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine has caused the Chinese to cancel a scheduled visit by Japan's foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura to Beijing. Also, about 100 Japanese parliamentarians and their aids followed his example by going to the Shrine that contains the remains of some of Japan's most notorious war criminals. When is the US going to read the riot act to these history deniers who seem to be ascendant in Japan these days? If Angela Merkel ran on a platform of blaming the "November Criminals" and the Jews for WW II what do you think the reaction would be from the US? I guess we owe the Japanese a lot more money than we do the Germans. Its easy to see why the US is losing its influence in North Asia and South East Asia to China. Every other country that suffered under the Japanese looks at us ignoring Japan's war guilt and arming them to the teeth and looks to China to be a counter to Japan's colossal military. [South Korea has canceled an offical visit to Japan over the Shrine visit.BBC]

Bye, bye South Korea:

Meanwhile we're pulling more troops out of South Korea---down to below 30,000---not because we think the South Koreans can defend themselves from the North Koreans, but because we need the troops in Iraq and if the North Koreans were to attack the South our troops would be sitting ducks anyway, so what's the point of keeping them there? [BBC]

We won't torture anyboby, we promise.

I read that the Brits have come to an agreement with Muammar Gaddafi to take back Libyan nationals suspected of being terrorists deported from the UK. This is a part of the new terror legislation B-liar has come up with. The Libyans have promised not to torture these deportees and you can take that to the bank. This follows a similar agreement with Jordan and you can be sure Jordan and Libya will abide by international human rights standards just like the British used to. [Keep in mind that while the US and UK was negotiating with Gaddafi, who Jack Straw called a "great statesman," to give up his WMD, he was busy paying an old friend of Grover Norquist to assassinate then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Very trustworthy, no?]

Baku=Oil:

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev tells theNYT that he's confident his party will post an overwhelming victory in upcoming parliamentary elections next month. Just like his 95% election win when he took over from his father in 2003, its obvious the Azeri people love him and hate the opposition. The fact that Azerbaijan is soon expected to be pumping as much as a million barrels of oil has nothing to do with the US looking the other way as he uses the levers of government to stifle dissent and manipulate the vote tallies. The opposition has taken to wearing orange in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters in Ukraine, but the chances of them recreating that triumph of people power in Azerbaijan is very remote. Condi is all for stability when it comes to the stable, oil rich government in Baku and any rocking of the boat in that very sensitive part of the world is not likely. The Ukrainians for their part are enabling Aliyev and his band of oligarchs by having Azeri opposition leader Rasul Guliyev held in custody for extradition back to Azerbaijan on charges of embezzlement, which are largely seen as politically motivated. Everybody is doing the Putin these days in the former USSR, and the Dept. of State has nothing much to say on the subject.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:38 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005 10:30 PM EDT
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Thursday, 20 October 2005
White House rogues gallery
Topic: Bush Administraiton

The senate Judiciary Committee has given Harriet Miers an "incomplete" on her job application for Supreme Court judge. White House spokesperson Dana Perino said Miers had told Spector that "She had years of files to go through," (I'm so sure.) and she might have to provide "follow-ups" to the questionnaire. Are we sure that's what she told Spector? The other day Spector thought she told him she agreed with Griswold v. Connecticut and then she said she didn't tell him that. Spector said, "I've never walked out of a room and had a disagreement on what was said." There are a number of things she left out of her questionnaire like whole cases that even the Judiciary Committee knew she worked on. Also, she's still a little shaky on her recollection of when or if she paid her dues to keep her license to practice law. All the work she has done for W. in the White House is missing, which is going to make it kind of tough for her to get nominated I would think. I mean, are these senators just going to sit back and pass her through on the president's word alone? I think not. What are they thinking inside the White House? From the word 'go' this nomination has been on the rocks and it just gets more and more farcical. She is supposedly this big time legal heavy-weight but the White House hasn't done anything to prove it.

Lindsay Graham wants to know what work she did on military prisoner questions, "Any writings that are not clearly attorney-client privilege should come before the committee," he says. I think this is more important than whether she's a good Christian or not: what did she do about the torture issue? If the Jose Pedilla case comes to the court it's pretty much a no brainer she will back the president on all matters involving the war on terror. That's the scariest thing to me: 'The president wants to round up the Nisei again? Go ahead. Chinese Americans are a threat? Round them up! Left wing bloggers are a national security risk? Throw away the key!'

To the question of whether the brains behind Bush are distracted by impending indictments and such Karen Hughes says, "It's not something that's affecting, I don't think, the daily business of the White House." Well, since they always say the opposite of what is actually the truth, I would say it is. If it really isn't then they're just complete idiots, because this Miers thing is a total political disaster. If W. digs his heels in on this and is determined to spend his political capital on getting his close friend in, no matter what, it could get a lot worse. I hope he does.

Meanwhile, congress is busy doing the business of business:

Yesterday they passed the "chessburger bill," preventing victims of the fast food industry from suing for the damage their crappy food causes. In the senate today, they passed the 'gun industry protection act' making it almost impossible for victims of gun violence to sue for damage caused by guns. You add in the Transportation Bill, the no oil man left behind act,' which passed by two votes, despite Tom DeLay's extending the vote and arm twisting, and the lack of action on helping the poor who are under constant attack by the Republicans and you have a congress that has been bought lock, stock, and barrel by corporate America. Is there anything they do in congress these days that nvolves running the country and not giving hand-outs to special interests? I can't think of any.

Rummy in the Middle Kingdom:

General Jing Zhiyuan, the commander of the Second Artillery, told Rummy that in an armed conflict, China would not use nukes first.[AP] That's reassuring, isn't it? There's no word on whether Rummy promised the same. The question is what Jing meant by "armed conflict." Taiwan might be a likely target, especially with Lee Teng-hui, who is on a "personal visit" to the US, bumbling around the US like a bull in a China shop, saying things like, Taiwan needed to acquire "some kind of long range missiles" to counter the 700 missiles aimed at Taiwan. He said, "The psychological effect is important" in deterring China from attacking the island. (Never mind that the second those missiles were loaded on to a ship Taiwan would cease to exist.) In a move to calm the cross strait dispute, the WaPo's Glen Kessler writes that Lee said, "Taiwan is already an independent country," and what was needed for the country to change its name to the Republic of Taiwan. That's a good way to get those missiles raining down on Taipei.

This sort of talk may make the neocons happy, but their track record on foreign policy is a little shaky these days. I understand their viewpoint on Taiwan, but unfortunately reality has a nasty habit of intruding on their grand plans for an independent and democratic Taiwan. I used to actually have a neocon roommate---who probably has already met with Lee---and we talked quite a bit about US China policy---that's really my strong suit---and I found myself more often than not agreeing with him. But the result of that sort of thinking is a war with China over a country most Americans have never heard of. The funny thing about this neocon, by the way, is that he's a Canadian. He's all for us using our military might, what's let of it, to democratize the world but he's not even a citizen. I say the Canadians should go fight this one out with China!

DeLay gets booked:

This has got to be another good sign for the Republicans. I wonder how long it will take to get his mugshot on the web?

AP: HOUSTON - Rep. Tom DeLay turned himself Thursday in at the Harris County sheriff's office, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and released on bond on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

His lawyer said DeLay turned himself in because what they were trying to avoid, "Ronnie Earle having him taken down in handcuffs, and fingerprinted and photographed." That would have been to good to be true, but just the fact that he was booked is good enough for me. Next on the agenda is Karl Roved being frog-marched out of the White House!

The WaPo reports that another possible target of Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's Plame investigation might be an aid to Cheney, John Hannah, who "has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials." How could all this stuff be going on in Cheney's office and he not know anything about it? Along with Hannah and Libby, "Fitzgerald and his investigative team interviewed Mary Matalin, a former top Cheney adviser; Catherine Martin, his former communications adviser; and Jennifer Millerwise, his former spokeswoman." It was Cheney who was still talking about Saddam's WMD long after it was proved there weren't any, but he never told anyone to do anything about Joseph Wilson, right? "Scooter" and Rove all on their own just came up with this outing plan. Hey, couldn't that be considered a conspiracy?

Along those lines the Post says, "One person in the probe said Fitzgerald showed considerable early interest in the White House Iraq Group, a task force created by Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. in August 2002 and charged with "marketing" the war in Iraq to the public. The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Its regular participants were Rove, Libby, Hadley, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, adviser Karen Hughes, Matalin, and White House director of legislative affairs Nicholas Calio." Isn't that intersting?

If the Republicans didn't run the congress this might be a good place to start an impeachment investigation. If the GOP were to lose the Senate in '06 the White House would still be in the clear because by then presumably Harriet Miers will be safely on the Supreme Court in a position to protect the president and his band of liars and thieves.

Radio notes:

Yesterday on The World Lisa Mullins talked with Dan Murphy of the CSM who was at Saddam's trial. Murphy wasn't very impressed by the whole thing. Security was so tight he said, that reporters weren't allowed to bring in pens and paper, instead they were given pencils and legal pads after they were inside. They had to get through about 10 check points and when the proceedings actually got under way he couldn't hear anything for about 10 minutes. The "trial" wasn't anything he would consider to be up to international standards. [CSM]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:43 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005 3:53 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 October 2005
Who is on trial and who ought to be.
Topic: Iraq

Big news today from Iraq, the trial of Saddam Hussein has started. If he is convicted, of which there's no doubt, he will be put to death. What I don't understand is how they will put him to death for all the other crimes he's committed if he's convicted and put to death for only the massacre of Shiites in Dujail. After all, the Kurds want him to pay for the decades of killings they suffered under him, too; so they might demand he be kept alive a little longer. Not that the Iraqi "government" makes things up as they go along, but it's not too far fetched to see them holding another trial or adding charges right in the middle of this one to appease the Kurds.

If they really want to get Saddam and all those behind his regime, though, they might want to haul Rummy in along with George Bush Sr. I can't think of anyone who is more responsible for the mass killing of Shiites in the south, after the Gulf War, than George H. W. Bush---and maybe General Schwartzkopf, who let the Iraqis retain the use of their helicopters as a condition of surrender. And what about the tens of thousands who died in the Iran/Iraq war which Reagan and Bush were more than happy to allow to keep going for 8 years because it kept Iran busy? So he gassed some Kurds, big deal, Bechtel wanted that Aqaba pipeline built, that's why Rummy didn't mention the gassing thing to Saddam. 'Don't upset him; get him to sign on the dotted line.' [Shimon, the check is in the mail.] By the way, where is Taraq Aziz?

Since the Bush administration tends to eschew international tribunals the Shiites and the Kurds have been left to have their revenge. Unfortunately, some might say the judges have no experience in international law and this is just basically a kangaroo court with no standing in the rest of the world. The US says it's all on the Iraqis, we don't have anything thing to do with it, but you know if it gets more farcical than it was today---with Saddam giving speeches and DVD players not working etc.---you can bet Zalmay Khalilzad will be right there to get things back on track.

Speaking of Rummy: did anyone catch The Torture Question on Frontline last night? Pretty incredible! I have been writing about all this stuff for over a year but to see it all put together in one show was shocking. The totality of the crimes committed by the US military under the direct supervision of Rummy is astounding. How does this guy still have his job? Why isn't he bunking with Milosevic? W. might think the Rumster is doing a great job, but the rest of the world can see what a travesty our "war on terror" is. It's not only us, though; the Brits have seen our techniques and decided they want to do it too. Tony B-liar's new anti-terrorism legislation will certainly lead to the same sorts of abuses the US is guilty of.

Rummy is in China right now lecturing them on transparency, which is pretty funny. I don't know if he's going to mention the human rights thing, though; he probably shouldn't, his Chinese counterparts might not be able to maintain their inscrutable stares and might burst into hysterical laughter. It could be an embarrassing international incident. [Not that saying "we're very, very, sorry" for the death of their pilot in the 2001 EP-3 midair collision was the least bit embarrassing. Far from it, America was standing tall as our top spy place came back in crates.]

Anyway, Rummy doesn't need the Chinese to tell him what they're up to, it's obvious. They want to counter the US 7th fleet by completely controlling the South China Sea and they want to project their power way out into the Pacific to protect their shipping lanes. And they really, really, want to stick it to the Japanese. That might be a long time coming. Just because the Japanese call their army and navy the "self defense force" doesn't mean they can't get real offensive if they want to. Japan has one of the biggest militaries in the world. (And they can get nukes if they want them too.) So, Junichiro Koizumi can visit the Yasukuni Shrine anytime he wants to and if the Chinese don't like the school text books that forget to mention WW II, they can suck it. What are they going to do about it?

When are the Democrats going to attack the Harriet Miers nomination on civil rights grounds? As Bush's legal counsel she was involved in all the torture memos, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo etc. As Dick Polman in the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, she is in a perfect position as a Supreme Court Justice to preserve Bush's legacy on the War on Terror. If she gets in, you can bet Jose Padilla will be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. And all those "voluntary fasters" at Gitmo will have hoses down their noses for a long, long time. Why aren't the Democrats----and the Republicans who are afraid of over reaching government power---speaking out? We already know she's a religious nut, big deal. There's a lot more at stake here than Roe v. Wade.

Radio notes:

Give a listen to Marty Moss-Coane of WHYY's Radio Times who interviewed Marci Hamilton, professor of constitutional law at Yeshiva university and author of "God Versus the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law." She was a lawyer involved in the Grand Jury that exposed the serial abuse of children by the Philadelphia Archdiocese. It was very interesting: Did you know the Catholics aren't the only ones who abuse children? The Fundamentalist Mormons----there's such a thing?---in order to keep the ratio between men and woman in the men's favor, take young boys out and dump them on the streets and tell them never to come back. They transport 13 year old girls to Canada so they can become wives for other Mormons. The problem is the government is afraid to do anything that might make the religious nuts mad.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:41 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005 1:07 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 18 October 2005
Fraud.

The BBC reports this morning an Iraqi election official has said that voting irregularities being investigated in the referendum election on Saturday might be fraud. Imagine that, fraud in Iraq? What a great day for democracy! The Iraqis certainly are quick learners and they have the best teachers: who knows more about stealing an election than the great liberator himself, George W. Bush?

The US military said they killed 70 insurgents in two air raids in Ramadi on Sunday. The local hospitals tell a different story; at least 25people were killed including 18 children. [WaPo] The air raids came in response to the killing of 5 Marines by an IED on Saturday; supposedly the majority of the dead "insurgents" were caught planting another bomb. One wonders why it would take 20 insurgents to plant an IED; obviously they would make a very tempting and easy target. If this is their usual MO, I don't see how we haven't wiped them all out yet. The most likely explanation is that the second air strike was to keep possible insurgents that might have been in the crowd of gawkers from taking anything of military value.

This happened before in 2004 when a US helicopter fired a missile on a crowd in Haifa street----they blowed-them-up-reeeel-good----who was cheering over a blown up humvee. The pentagon claimed then the crowd was all insurgents but that was later proved false because they also killed a prominent Arab reporter. [Independent] I don't know whether this is just an honest mistake or if this was a little pay back for the Marines getting blown up. In either case, killing innocent civilians like this, just for revenge, only makes more insurgents. [Vietnam 101]

[Today, two more Marines were killed and "9" "insurgents" were killed in a fire fight near Rutbah. Centcom.]

I'm sure every blog in the universe has already been over the Judith Miller thing, but I want to have my crack at her.

Her own personal account of her conversations with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is a little puzzling; that is to say a bunch of crap. She says Libby never told her the name of Joseph Wilson's wife but "Valerie Flame" is written in her notebook in the same spot where her notes on Libby are. Even if Libby didn't tell her what the name was, it wouldn't be too hard to find out who Wilson's wife was. Don't you get the impression Miller is trying to protect Libby, which would track with her obvious glee in printing Ahmad Chalabi's propaganda before the war. She was a real trooper for the cause.

Miller relates Libby's bogus story about how the CIA was "selectively leaking" to "hedge" in case there were no WMD found. The CIA was engaging in "a perverted war" over the war in Iraq. (Lord knows the White House frowns on leaking.) Miller writes that Libby said the evidence coming from the CIA on Iraq's WMD was unequivocal, but if you had been reading Walter Pincus in the WaPo instead of the Chalabi/Miller section of the NYT, before the war, you would have known there was quite a lot of dissention inside the CIA on this point. (If it is so that the CIA was solidly behind the now infamous National Intelligence Estimate, why then did Libby need to create the "Office of Special Plans" to make stuff up?)

I find this especially funny: Miller says Libby kept steering her back towards the administration's nuclear claims, "Although I was interested in primarily in my area of expertise [,] chemical and biological weapons." That's rich, her "expertise?" Just because Chalabi introduces you to a bunch of "eye witnesses" who claim to have worked on Saddam's weapons programs but are actually charlatans and drunkards on Chalabi's payroll and can put on a convincing act, doesn't make you an expert. A sucker, maybe. A co-conspirator, probably.

It's a fact the NYT let Miller "run amok" with no editorial controls, they allowed her to put whatever outrageous lie came into Chalabi's head and give it the credibility of the great New York Times. She and the NYT were as responsible for getting us in this war as Bush & CO. were. What credibility does Miller or the NYT have left at this point? Her editor has seriously endangered the sterling reputation of the paper over this Judith Miller matter and a lot of people can't even figure out why. What great principle was she defending? Why did she stay in jail for 85 days? Why have they defended her to the exclusion of all else? There are so many unanswered questions in this whole thing and the Times is not being very forthcoming. Sooner or later the truth is going to come out and the Times is going to take a blow. It would be truly sad if a great newspaper like the New York Times was destroyed by that self serving bitch.

Barbara Ehrenreich on Miller and the Times from an interview on Democracy Now yesterday.

"...I have to wonder why the power of this one woman, Judith Miller, in the Times, and all I can think of is that like many other mainstream media outlets, they're very, very concerned with access to the highest places in government and, you know, power wherever it is.

Judith Miller had that access, and that was more important to them than truth, apparently. There is a problem, you know, of getting too much access, getting too friendly with those people you're interviewing, getting embedded and in bed with them, which in a sense, you know, she was, and that's where mainstream journalism very easily crosses the line into becoming spokespeople for those in power. And that's what the Times became."

News notes:
Seth Borensterin from Knight Ridder reports that, "The chief Pentagon agency in charge of investigating and reporting fraud and waste in Defense Department spending in Iraq quietly pulled out of the war zone a year ago -- leaving what experts say are gaps in the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:34 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005 4:02 PM EDT
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