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Thursday, 6 October 2005
Is it just me or is this administration losing it?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

These are not happy times in Morning-in-America-land. It seems like just yesterday W. was taking a 5 week vacation---getting lots of bike riding and bush whacking in---and Ann Coulter and her crew of misfits and bloglodytes were happily attacking Cindy Sheehan for having all sorts of dark associations with "hard left" groups whose agenda was the overthrow of the US government etc. and now in the blink of an eye all the neocons and nincompoops are accusing W. of cronyism and incompetence! This Miers nomination is going to go down as one of the biggest presidential blunders in history, right next to FDR's court packing plan. I mean, right after all the bad press associated with the Michael Brown and the Katrina fiasco and in the midst of the DeLay/Frist/Abramoff scandals W. picks a close personal friend and adviser, who has no experience as a judge and has no discernible record one way or the other on all the great legal questions of the day, to be the one to solidify the right wing vote on the Court? How politically tone deaf can you get? (This is just the scenario many thought would happen if he picked Alberto Gonzalez; the right and left attacking the administration from both sides.)

Maybe Cheney's leg splints and Karl Rove's gall stones, or whatever his problem is, along with his impending indictment, are effecting the brain truster's judgment? Here's an extremely right wing, ultra religious president with two Supreme Court vacancies, the fanatic's wet dream, and he blows it. It's going to be said that Bush betrayed his most rabid right wing supporters, the ones who gave him his "political capital" to begin with, just like daddy did to the Pat Buchanans of his day. These people wanted Clarance Thomas on steroids and this is what they get: SNL's church lady?

The Democrats are going to cross their fingers and hope she's another Sandra Day O'Connor, which isn't exactly a good thing, but is better than the Attila the Hun they were expecting. They would be mistaken to be so sanguine, they ought to fight this thing into the '06 elections. Filibuster it, do whatever, just hold up the vote in the senate. Make the fight as bloody as possible, ask for those legal briefs on torture! It's not a given that Miers will be confirmed, the Democrats ought to seize this opportunity to start acting like the opposition. There's a weak president, getting weaker by the day, the "Hammer" is trying to stay out of the slammer and the senate Republicans are split. (This would also be a good time for the moderate Republicans to try and take back their party from the bomb throwers.)

Remember, there is still the Republican agenda that must be stopped: the Patriot Act, making tax cuts permanent, Social Security, the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast etc. an entire swath of destruction they could be blocked or mitigated if the Republicans were on their heels. I say kick them while they're down, they would do the same. (You don't sit on a 3 point lead in the 4th quarter by running out the clock, you keep throwing down field.)

What's beautiful about this situation, too, is the various right wing "grass roots" religious groups are in a quandary over this whole thing. On the one hand, if they support Bush and Miers turns out to be another David Souter- type they'll look like idiots in the eyes of their flock, and if they don't support Bush on this they'll be leaving themselves out in the political wilderness, because they're all on the same sinking ship. They should have taken Paul Weyrich's advise and gotten out of politics a long time ago.

[Well, at least, Pat Robertson has endorsed the Miers nomination. Bush has him on his side, which must be quite reassuring. But, wasn't Miers in the ABA? Aren't they some sort of communist group or something?]

More scandal:

Yesterday, pentagon analyst Larry Franklin pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in giving government secrets to two AIPAC officials. He will be testifying against the two, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, as the star witness for the government in exchange for a reduced sentence. He said he also met with Naor Gilon, a political officer at the Israeli embassy, 8 or 9 times, this being the unnamed foreign government official listed in the indictment. He said his motivation was to help push a harder line against Iran by leaking this information to the press. Not that Israel would ever spy on us or anything, but I guess they did. The Israel official, of course, was recalled to Israel just in a nick of time.

And more scandal:

David Safavian, the Bush administration's ex-chief procurement official, was indicted yesterday on charges of making false statements and obstructing Senate and executive branch investigations into Jack Abramoff. The investigations Safavian allegedly obstructed involved him helping Abramoff acquire property by the General Services Administration while he worked there. Was he influenced by the August 2002 trip Abramoff tokk him on to St Andrews Scotland with Ralph Reed (I'm sure he preyed the whole time.) and rep. Bob Ney? Safavian's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, says he will plead not guilty, of course. She says it's all a frame up: "If this case did not involve Mr. Abramoff, the government would have never indicted Mr. Safavian on these charges." So, if Safavian had just been giving away public property to some schmuck, rather than Abramoff, that would have been ok, the government generally looks the other way in those cases, right? [AP]

Speaking of Jack Abramoff:

And Tom DeLay, too: The AP has found that Tom DeLay raised a whole bunch of cash for the 2000 GOP convention. In fact, he raised way more than he actually needed and then diverted it to Roy Blunt and his son, Matt, to his private charity, to a consulting firm where his wife just happened to work, but mainly to himself and to Roy Blunt. (Do I feel another Republican House leadership change coming on?) The AP article says long time Blunt aide Gregg Hartley felt that "the fact that DeLay's charity, Christine DeLay's consulting form and Blunt's son were beneficiaries was a coincidence." Of course, they planned on raising extra money and helping themselves to it, but it's all a coincidence, stuff happens.

There was a lot of money moving around: Blunt sending it to DeLay, DeLay sending it to Blunt, Blunt and DeLay sending it to DeLay's co-indictee Jim Ellis, from this place to that charity, to PACs no one has ever heard of etc., much like the Texas 2002 campaign laundering case.

And don't forget about Jack Abramoff: if there's a shady deal and money to be made, he's in the picture, His business clients in the Marianas islands gave DeLay money to fix certain legislation they didn't like, which no doubt made it's way back to Abramoff. [Remember the Guam investigation?] The AP says a former Federal Elections Commissioner they consulted for thier story said "investigators should examine whether the pattern of disguising the original source of money might have been a bid to hide simultaneous financial and legislative dealings with Abramoff and his clients." You think? This story just goes deeper and deeper, what's next? But, it's all a coincidence, you're all a bunch of partisan fanatics!

McCain and Graham in 2008!

To their great credit, John McCain and Lindsay Graham have successfully got their anti-torture amendment onto a defense appropriations bill. The Senate voted 90 to 9 to ban cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners in US military hands. The idea of the amendment is to make sure everybody is on the same page when it comes to interrogations. McCain said, "we demanded intelligence without ever clearly telling our troops what was permitted and what was forbidden." Of course, that's just the way Rummy wants it; if there are no rules, you can't be blamed for anything. [No rules, just right.]

W. said before and he's saying again, he will veto the 440 billion dollar defense spending bill if the provision is included. The great "conservative" president who never saw a spending bill he didn't like, who has never vetoed a bill---ever---is going to veto this one if it says we can't beat helpless prisoners to a pulp anymore. So, what's wrong if people are kept up for a while, made to stand for over 8 hours---Rummy stands for 8 hours---what the big deal? This bill will tie the president's hands and, as I heard some jack ass on the BBC this morning say, if there's another 9/11 style attack investigators will ask why we passed this bill. We have to have the ability to throw our moral authority out the window, to break every law, to do whatever we feel like, because we can, to fight this war on terror. Don't you understand, these people hate our way of life, even though is starting to look a lot like theirs.

In any case, it just shows how much a lame duck W. is starting to become; that two Republican senators pushed this amendment, against his direct threat of a veto, and 90 senators voted for it. Now, the House is another matter: in conference committee this is going to be a tough sell. It might have a chance, now that DeLay is out of the picture. Who knows, between now and then, when the two houses get together to hash this out, maybe Blunt will be gone too. I question the ability of Dennis Hastert to keep his troops in line. Hopefully the Democrats won't fold, like they usu sally do. It will be a long hard slog, as someone once said, but I'd love to see the look on W.'s face if it comes to his desk!

Aaaaa chooooo:

At his press conference on Tuesday W. said in answer to a question about the threat of an avian flu pandemic that he's "thought through all the scenarios of what an avian flu outbreak could mean. I'm not predicting an outbreak. I'm just suggesting to you that we'd better be thinking about it." First of all, I'm kind of surprised that he had such a ready answer for the question, but the notion of him having "thought through all the scenarios" seems a little hard to believe. I think he said he read a book on the issue, or he had someone read it to him, at least, but looking back on the Katrina debacle I'm not holding my breath---or maybe I should---that he's got a clue about how to deal with such an eventuality.

Science isn't his administration's strong suit, I expect any science advise he got would have to come from a faith based approach. 'Let us all pray.' When he opined---he likes that word, Oh Pine----"If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not quarantine that part of the country, and how do you enforce a quarantine?" Naturally, a military solution is the first thing that came to my mind: "One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move." We've gone from "having a discussion" about getting rid of the Posse Comitatus law of 1878, just a few weeks ago, to using the 82nd Air Borne to quarantine an entire section of the country! Germs are kind of like terrorists, they strike unexpectedly and they hate our form of government, they hate our freedom.

I think most public health experts would opt for something a little less Patonesque and a little more targeted and more likely to actually work. W. says while he was at the UN he used his visit to "talk to as many leaders as I could find" to report outbreaks as quickly as possible. What, were they all running from him, how hard was it to find leaders to talk to? Perhaps they had some inkling he might deal with an outbreak with shock and awe and didn't want to get in his sights.

Like I said before, I think most people nowadays are just crossing their fingers, toes, legs, eyes, whatever they got, and hoping this idiot doesn't get us all killed.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:03 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005 12:20 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 5 October 2005
W. is putting us on, right?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

A reporter asked W. if he really thought Harriet Miers was the most qualified person for the Supreme Court job, out of all the lawyers and judges in the US. "Yes, otherwise I would have not put her on." I think he's putting us on: this nomination is so clearly yet another political pay off for services rendered it's embarrassing. What must other countries be thinking of our government? We just experienced a very painful lesson in New Orleans of the consequences of putting people in positions of power that they are in no way qualified for and W. goes along and does something like this. No doubt, Ms. Miers is a very good lawyer and is good at what she does but is she really the best this country has to offer for the highest court in the land?

Utah senator Orrin Snatch, for one, things so. "A lot of my fellow conservatives are concerned, but they don't know her as I do. She's going to basically do what the president thinks she should..." I don't know if that's exactly a ringing endorsement of the nominee; I mean, I thought judges weighed the evidence and made fair and balanced judgments free of any preconceived prejudices. I think it is pretty well established already that she is anti-abortion, is a born again Christian and owes her high position and now her potential appointment to the Supreme Court to George W. Bush. When he and Orrin Hatch say 'trust us' I get real worried.

As if the Republicans in congress don't have enough to worry about with DeLay and Frist, now they have to grin and bear it and vote for this very weak candidate that their fearless leader is foisting on them. Miers is such a mixed bag it's hard to tell how her upcoming nomination hearings will go. Either the Republicans are going to jump ship over her past support for civil rights for gays and other moderate transgressions or the Democrats are going to actually grow a pair for once and fight the appointment over something like the anti-abortion thing or maybe even her, as yet unknown, views on the torture memos and the rights of detainees at Gitmo. This is a real Achilles heal for Bush & Co. if the Dem's can get a hold of any of her legal papers.

Again, I say, the mind boggles at the state of our country and the pathetic condition of our governing institutions. This kind of corruption and patronage was fine back in the Grant administration when we were basically a small and unimportant country in the grand scheme of world affairs, but now we're the center of the universe and these idiots running our country are running it into the ground and taking the whole world along for the ride.

In Iraq news today:

The Shiites and their Kurdish co-conspirators have relented on their sneaky plan to prevent the Sunnis from vetoing the referendum, due to pressure from the UN and the US. This is not to say it will make that much of a difference; I'm sure the various Shiite militias and Iraqi "security forces" will be out in force in the Sunni areas on Oct. 15 the make sure the polls are "secure" from voting. The idea that the Sunnis will be able to veto the Constitution by getting enough votes to block it in at least three of their four provinces is a little far fetched anyway.

In related story, I hear today that the Iranian foreign minister has postponed a trip to meet with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia. The reason given is technical difficulties, but one has to wonder. I hear the Iraqi Interior Minister, Bayan Baqer Sulagh, called the Saudi foreign minister a "Bedouin on a camel," the other day, which sort of highlights the growing tensions between the Sunni Saudis and the Shiite Iranians and their Iraqi clients. The Saudis have been making noises for weeks about their discomfort with Iranian influence in the south of Iraq, but it is unknown what the US is going to do about it. [News flash: Brits blame Iran for all their casualties this year. BBC]

We might have the largest army in the Middle East right now, but we're nothing more than just another militia in the already raging civil war in Iraq. At some point, we're going to have to decide who we're allied with: the Saudis who fund the foreign Sunni al-Qaeda elements, but also give us tons of oil: or the Iranians who are helping our allies in the Iraqi government, like Ayatollah Ali-Sistani and Ahmad Chalabi. Our only other option is to go with the Kurds, but then we'll alienate the Turks who we are trying to get cozy with again. Its a very sticky wicket, but I'm sure our foreign policy is in the capable hands with Condi Rice.

Able Danger. Again.

In the NYT on Oct. 1, Douglas Jehl reported that, " a second Republican member of congress had said that Steven Hadley, who was then the deputy national security director, was given a chart shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that showed information collected about Al-Qaeda before the attacks by a secret military intelligence program called Able Danger." Representative Dan Burton (Once on the cover of Sanity Fair), said that on the 25th of Sept. 2001 he attended a meeting with Hadley along with Rep. Curt Weldon at which Weldon showed Hadley the chart.

After initially refusing to comment on this account, Hadley's spokesperson has now said that Hadley did see the chart but didn't recall seeing it with Weldon and that no record of the chart has been found: "Mr. Hadley did in fact meet with Congressman Weldon on Sept. 25 2001. He recalls that in that same time period receiving a briefing on link analysis as a counter terrorism tool. But he does not recall whether he was shown that chart in the meeting with Mr. Weldon or in another meeting. Either way Mr. Hadley does not recall seeing a chart bearing the name or photo of Mohammed Atta."

The 9/11 commission doesn't recall seeing it and neither not does the pentagon, but Weldon keeps whacking away at this story, mainly because he wants the government to pump a bunch of money into data mining something that's controversial because it involves fishing around in people's personal information in order to maybe get lucky and find a terrorist. John Poindexter tried it and got fired.

One of Weldon's chief sources for this Atta-on-a-chart story, who supposedly worked in Able Danger, is Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. The AP reported, also on the 1st, that Shaffer had his top security clearance revoked a day before he was to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the 21st of Sept. for breaking numerous military rules."The reported infractions by Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, 42, include obtaining a service medal under false pretenses, improperly flashing military identification while drunk, and stealing pens, according to paperwork from the pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency that his attorney showed the Associated Press."

Shaffer's lawyer says the pentagon is trying to discredit him because of his speaking out about Able Danger. He claims that these charges were a long time ago and were merely "youthful indiscretions." Oh, I'm so sure, but stealing pens? This story is so farcical, when is Weldon going to get a real job and stop wasting our time?

[post post post: reports are today that Iraqi president Talabani doesn't think PM Jaafari should resign: "I don't think Mr Jaafari should resign, I think he should correct his method of work," Talabani said at a news conference in the Czech capital. "We asked him to respect the law and to respect the equilibrium between the Kurdistan alliance and Shiite alliance, that's all." AFP]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:20 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005 12:27 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 October 2005
Miers a weiner?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

The president had a press conference in the Rose Garden today, which is unusual, and talked about his new nominee for the Supreme Court Harriet Miers, the White House Council and longtime Bush crony. What struck me was his insistence that twenty years from now she would have the same philosophy that she has now. Obviously, he was trying to keep the fanatic wing of the party sweet and assuage their fears that he was appointing another David Sutter, but what does it say for the nominee that she is so fixed in her views that over twenty years she won't budge an inch on her preconceived notions of whatever it is she believes in?

If I were a Democratic senator I would be very afraid of this woman. First of all, if W. thinks she's all that and a bag of chips, you have to wonder how far out there in la la land she really is. There's no doubt the judiciary committee is going to get even less of a paper trail on her than they did on John Roberts and if she's a good lawyer she'll be able to double talk her way out of answering any meaningful questions on what it is she actually will do once she's confirmed, so voting to confirm is going to be a real shot in the dark.

Having Roberts on the Court is one thing, he's just replacing another right winger, but this is the crucial swing vote, if she turns out to be one of these rabid what-would -Jesus-do types, with a propensity of deferring to corporations on questions of the environment and labor issues, she could really turn the clock back quite a ways.

Perhaps, even back to the beginning: she said yesterday, "It is the responsibility of every generation to be true to the founder's vision of the proper role of the courts in our society." She said she had a "tremendous responsibility" to "ensure that the courts meet their obligation to strictly apply the law and the Constitution." Does that include the Negroes being 3 fifths of a person thing too? The constitution has been amended a few times, I'm just wondering how strict she's going to be in her interpretation of what the founders wanted. (I'm assuming she knows Moses wasn't one of the founders.)

Dick Polman in the Philly Inquirer thinks judging by the reaction of the right wingers that her nomination is a potential wedge the Democrats can exploit to separate W. from his extremist right wing base. He points out that while right wing nut jobs like David Frum are saying things like, "[Bush] has based his personnel decisions upon a network of personal connections in which competence plays no very large part" (Worked out OK for him.), Democratic senate leader Harry Reid is saying, "I like Harriet Miers."

You can't help thinking part of the strategy involved in this pick is the fact that W.'s political capital, which he's so fond of spending, might be pretty much in the same state as his ballooning federal deficits, and he's trying to avoid a bloodbath in the senate over a real fire-breathing-bible-thumper that would appeal more to his "conservative" base.

Just like our military, I think Bush & Co. are stretched a little thin these days with all the scandals and sinking polls numbers and they want to use what little political pull they might have for other fights like making tax cuts for the very rich perminate. The rich are a constituency he has to keep on his side, too; it's not all about the wacko fringe who read the Weakly Standard's editor Bill Kristal who says the Mier's pick is, "a combination of crony ism and capitulation."

Of course, Kristal is correct, it most assuredly is, but Billy boy and his bunch can go bay at the moon because all his neocon brothers are out in the cold after the Iraq fiasco. Rove and the brain trust probably calculate Kristal and his ilk will get over it, as long as W. keeps doing what Sharon tells him to do. And that goes for the rest of them too: the Limbaughs, the Dobsons and the Robertsons, they're all going to have to eat shit on this one because they've got no one else to turn to.

In Iraq news:

It looks like the Shiite and the Kurds are really learning the Rovian style of democracy; they've very quietly put a provision into effect that will disenfranchise the Sunnis no matter how they vote on October 15. They've made it almost impossible for the Sunnis to reject the constitution in the referendum by saying that, according to the AP, "two-thirds of registered voters must vote "no" — not two-thirds of those who actually vote. The interpretation raises the bar to a level almost impossible to meet. In a province of 1 million registered voters, for example, 660,000 would have to vote "no" — even if that many didn't even come to the polls." The US is reportedly desperately trying to get them to go back to the original formula, but Zalamy Khalilzad might have better luck making a call to Tehran, because the're the ones running the show over there.

Operation Iron Fist is over and Operation River Gate is on. The new offensive is taking place about about 93 miles down river of where OIF was and is the largest to date with 2,500 US troops along with those crack Iraqi units, according to the AP. Although, I'm sure this new offensive will up the body count and cause the insurgents to redeploy, I'm still not clear on what this does to stop car bombings in Baghdad. Particularly in the Green Zone, where another car bomb blew up today.

Speaking of the Green Zone NPR's Ann Garrels was able to sneak this report out of the heavily guarded enclave. Very interesting, what goes on in the Green Zone stays in the Green Zone.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:56 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005 2:49 PM EDT
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Monday, 3 October 2005
Delay the Iron Fist.
Topic: General News.

Tom DeLay says he can do his “job with or without the title” and that he’s still running the show. Poor guy, he’s a little deluded, he thinks all he’s lost is his title, but he’s also lost his fancy office and his staff and it’s not exactly like his party is falling over themselves to defend him. (I’m sure the Democrats are hoping the GOP lets DeLay continue to run things.) DeLay says he and House “leader” Dennis Hastert are of one mind on their grand Republican agenda of lowering gas prices, cutting taxes and enforcing immigration laws. He says Hastert and him are “simpatico,” but I think a more appropriate metaphor for their relationship would be of a puppeteer and a puppet.

Without DeLay pulling the strings Hastert is pretty much left powerless to do anything. We’ll see what Roy Blunt can do but he doesn’t have the relationship with Hastert that DeLay does and he doesn’t have the money and K-Street connections. Speaking of the K-Street project, what are Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed up to these days? Probably laying low hoping that whole Jack Abramoff thing doesn’t come back to snap them in the ass.

Operation Iron Fist update:

The US military says they’ve killed 28 insurgents in around the towns of Karabilah and Sadah on the Euphrates River valley area in their latest offensive Operation Iron Fist (See below.)[AP]. When did they bring back the body count, by the way, and why do they always seem to kill insurgents in even numbers? It’s a little odd to me that they’ve decided to revive the practice, discredited in the Vietnam War, of making up phony evidence of progress by counting bodies. They’ve repeated every other mistake made in Vietnam, so I guess this is par for the course.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed they had taken two Marines prisoner and would kill them in 48 hours unless the Iraqi government released all female detainees. (I assume they’re referring to Dr Germ and Mrs. Anthrax?) The Multinational Force West says, “There are no indications that the al-Qaeda claims are true,” and said they were checking to make sure “all Marines are accounted for.” Well, that’s reassuring.

In political news: Iraqi president Jalal Talibani is calling for PM Ibrahim Jafaari to resign. Talibani accuses Jafaari of monopolizing power and dragging his feet on the de-Arabization of Kirkuk. I’m sure this is all political posturing but the issue of Kirkuk is a big keg of TNT sitting right in the middle of room that’s got its fuse lit. No matter what else happens, Kurdish independence and Kirkuk are going to have to be dealt with one way or the other.

There is no question that the Turks are serious about not allowing the Kurds to control Kirkuk but the Iranians have their own population of troublesome Kurds and they are no doubt up to their necks in the issue of Kirkuk as well. They obviously have a major beachhead in the Iraqi government in the form of Jafaari’s Shiite bloc and their infiltration of Basra gives them a powerful hand to play. Talibani’s concerns about Jafaari’s power play inside the government are most likely linked to Iran’s meddling.

I don’t see how we’re going to circle this Kirkuk/Kurdish independence square without several other countries in the region getting involved in the fighting inside Iraq, including Israel who is reported to have sent Mossad agents to train Kurdish rebels inside Iran.

This is what happens when you let your foreign policy be run by a bunch of ideologues with a nice theory but no practical knowledge of the how to implement it. Raw military power has its limits, especially when there is no provision made for the political and diplomatic requirements of a monumental undertaking such as transforming a backward Arab country with a toxic ethnic and religious history into a modern western democracy.

Where are Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristal when you need them? Any new theories in where we go from here guys?

Saturday notes:

The US announced the beginning of Operation Iron Fist today, a military offensive aimed at supposedly preventing al-Qaeda from entering Iraq from across the Syrian border. It’s good to finally see some truth in advertising in this new operation’s nomenclature; it really invokes memories of Fallujah II. (So much or winning hearts and minds.) I wonder why so much attention is being focused on the Syrian border if, as the pentagon says, only about 2 percent of the insurgency is of foreign origin? I thought the main threat was former Ba’athist Sunnis, Rummy’s Saddam regime “deadenders “

Do we really have to bomb Tal Afar and Qaim into the Stone Age to get at these terrorists, or al-Qaeda, or whatever they’re calling them this week? [If we get into the way-back machine and go back to Saigon in 1962 or so, we’ll see the US information agency in Vietnam coming up with the bright idea of calling the Vietminh the Vietcong, in order to make the them more commie sounding. Branding them as the “Cong” helped reinforce the image of a Godless yellow peril.]

From what I can glean from the media reports coming from pentagon briefings in the Green Zone, there seems to be quite a lot of insurgent activity and the resulting mass casualties going on in around Baghdad and not so much out in the western deserts.

Operation Sword, Operation Steel Resolve, Operation Futile Flailing and all the other heavy handed “Operations” being launched every other week on the border don’t seem to be accomplishing much beyond moving desert Iraqis, already living in squalid conditions, into Red Crescent refugee tent cities and providing plenty of rubble for the insurgents to find cover in. [Remember the Russians in Stalingrad, don’t the Generals read history books?]

The Iraqis and Syrians have been smuggling in that area for a millennia or more, I don’t see how we’re going to put a stop to it with these ad hoc offensives.

Even though Robert Kagan is basically a more scholarly Ton Clancy type, he makes a good point when he says our assets over there could be used more intelligently and effectively if we stopped employing WW II set piece tactics and started fighting the insurgency on their level. We do have the ability and know how to fight these guys with the Special Forces.

Ultimately, however, even this sort of warfare is only going to accomplish so much, but we can’t just keep going on sending our troops out there to die like sitting ducks on needless supply convoys.

Lets do more with less. Most of our people in Iraq are not even fighting; they’re just hunkered down in heavily defended “fire bases.” Lets get some assets in there who are trained and equipped, make them light and mobile and drop the static base strategy.

But it worked so well for William Westmoreland in Ka Sanh and General Leclerc at Diem Bien Phu. (n'est-il pas?) God! We’ve recreated the Colonial Highway system! I’m not with Kagan on staying the course, though, we have to get out; find an opportune moment, declare victory and adios!

And just one more thought: When are we going to stop playing paddy cake with the Saudis? I read today in the WSJ that the US State Department has postponed for six months imposing sanctions including trade restrictions on Saudi Arabia for their brutal crushing of religious freedoms. The only difference between the Saudis and the Taliban is that the Saudis drive Mercedes not donkeys. Oh, and by the way, all those al-Qaeda types coming across the border, that we’re spending so much time and ammunition trying to stop, are mainly Saudis.

Sending all their young fanatics to Iraq is good for preserving the royal family’s gilded hides, but is generally bad for the average Iraqi and keeping all his body parts intact. If I were the president, I’d tell the Saudis to knock it off or we’ll stop buying their oil, an embargo in reverse. It takes two to tango and even the Chinese can’t buy that much oil, King Abdullah will have to either deal with his homegrown religious nuts or think about shutting down a few dozen of his palaces for a while.

Between the Canadians and our strategic oil reserve and maybe thinking about making nice with Hugo Chavez---he’s really just a screwball, he’s not trying to kill us---we can sweat them out. Every dollar we put in the tank goes right into Jihad Inc. As Tom Friedman pointed out last week on Tim Russert’s show, we’re funding both sides of the war on terror. It has to stop.

Fuck the poor, they don’t vote for us anyway!

I know W. is all about ending inequity and poverty and maybe even showing us some of his scars these days, but unfortunately congress is not in such a Johnsonian state of mind. On Friday, just as everybody was packing up for the weekend, the senate passed by a voice vote, a bill to continue spending levels from this year until November 18th, because they couldn’t pass government pending bills before the end of the fiscal year. The newspapers all dutifully reported this in their “briefing” sections, the focus of the story being this is the 9th year in a row the congress hasn’t been able to pass their spending bills before October first. After 9 years, this isn’t really news.

What is news, is that the House the day before passed a “continuing resolution” which included Republican cuts to community grant programs across the board in some cases 50 to 75%. [NPR]

Tom Harkin (D.Iowa) told his colleges that voting for the bill would cut money for those most desperately in need of it. Some 1.8 million without high school educations, 3.7 million poor children, millions of disabled Americans rely on these programs and Harkin called for an amendment to be added the senate bill to restore the funding. The Republicans would have none of it. Mississippi senator…..said that in order to vote on an amendment attached to the bill the House would have to be called back to vote for it, which was too much trouble.

Harkin counted that it wasn’t too much trouble for the House to come back on Easter Sunday to vote for the Terry Schiavo bill, but in the end, Harkin’s efforts were to no avail. The Republicans rammed the bill through on a very dubious voice vote, which is their usual tactic when they know they might lose an honest tally. And then W. signed it. Now, the senate can go home and if anybody bothers to point out that the rhetoric coming out the White House about caring for the poor is somewhat undermined by this legislative lynching of the country’s most vulnerable, they’ll blame it on the House.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:00 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005 1:33 PM EDT
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Friday, 30 September 2005
Principles and governance.
Topic: General News.

Big news today: Judith Miller is out of jail. She is going to testify to the grand jury investigating the leaking of a CIA agent’s name about what Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, told her about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger.

She says that by going to jail rather than reveling a source she was upholding a time honored journalistic principle. What she didn’t explain is why she spent 85 days in an Alexandria lock up (Wasn’t she in a DC jail before?) when she could have testified, because Libby signed a waiver for her to do so.

Libby’s lawyer said, “ We were very surprised to learn this had anything to do with us and wish we had known this earlier, that it was her position that she wanted to talk to Libby directly.” (Do these guys read the newspaper?) He said Miller’s lawyer approached him last month to ask if Miller could ask Libby if the waiver was genuine and not coerced. By and by, she was able to get the ok from Scooter and here we are.

This all is kind of fishy to me, there’s something defiantly rotten in Denmark. Knowing Miller’s connection to the neo-cons (John Bolton visited her in prison.) and their agenda it’s not a big surprise that her lawyer says he expects her testimony to be consistent with what other journalists have said and that it will “be helpful to him,” meaning Libby.

Yes, that’s what this was all about; journalistic principle and helping Libby and Rove avoid an indictment. She’s done her job; I can see a plumb ambassadorial appointment to Liechtenstein in her future, can’t you just?

In other Bush administration scandal news:

Lawrence Franklin, the pentagon analyst indicted on charges of giving classified documents to two AIPAC officials, will plead guilty in a plea agreement next Wednesday. All along he had professed his innocence, but now it seems he’s decided to play ball with the government and will, no doubt, testify against the two AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.

These two are charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US defense information for their own political agendas and for an unnamed foreign government. I’ll give you one guess on which one. There are still some lingering questions about how Franklin got the information and what role if any deputy undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith had in this whole affair. [Inquirer] See my previous posts on this subject for more on that and this article in Tom Paine by Robert Drefuss for more on Doug Feith.

Casey at bat:

The AP reports that the pentagon’s top brass testifying to the Senate Armed Services committee yesterday wasn’t exactly a rousing success. Senators appeared to be skeptical about the pentagon’s claims of progress in training Iraqi forces after General George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, said that the readiness of Iraqi battalions able to fight insurgents on their own without US military help had gone from 3 to 1. (How much do we want to bet that one is mainly Peshmerga?)

Susan Collins, a republican, said, “It doesn’t feel like progress when we hear today that there is only one Iraqi battalion fully capable.” A rational person might come to that conclusion but from the pentagon’s point of view the good news is that 75 percent of the US trained Iraqi army was at least capable of engaging in combat, albeit with US troops providing support in most cases. Yes, that’s great news; we’re at least maintaining the status quo.

Casey “declined to give a break down of Iraqi combat readiness, which he said was classified as a secret.” I’ve asked this before, but why is this information a secret? I’m sure the insurgents knows exactly what the relative readiness and strengths are of all Iraqi forces including, home addresses of the commanders and how many bullets each soldier has. The only ones in the dark about this are congress and the American people.

So, what does this mean for General Casey’s prediction that major troop withdrawals could start to happen in early 2006? He wasn’t quite as sure this time around; he said it would depend on the political situation after the referendum. General John Abazaid assured the Senators that there were encouraging signs in the insurgency shifting to the west of Iraq, “which is a good sign, a good indicator that Iraqi and US forces are having an effect elsewhere.” Where? In Baquba where a hundred Iraqis died yesterday, or in Ramadi where a roadside bomb killed 5 Marines? I quess, Ramadi is kind of in the west, so its good to see the insurgents are staying put.

The problems with governance:

I heard Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kuba on the BBC this morning and he was pretty sanguine about the level of US troops currently in Iraq. He said attacks by insurgents were down, presumably because of all the progress being made, but the lethality of the attacks was up. So, that’s good, right? Robert Kagan was on Radio Times this morning pushing his new book, “Imperial Grunts” and he made the point that in a country of 23 million, a hundred blown up here or a hundred dead there, was an intafisimisble number in the great scheme of things.

His contention is the problem in Iraq is one of governance. He’s probably right about the governance issue, but I don’t see that problem being solved any time soon. AP reports that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador, as of yesterday was still “struggling to negotiate changes to the charter in hopes of winning Sunni support. ” Wasn’t this charter supposedly agreed to almost two weeks ago, which was two weeks late to begin with?

Remember, the TIA said that if a constitution couldn’t be submitted to the national assembly by the deadline given a new government had to be elected. They just threw that whole thing out and they’re still fiddling around with the thing. Getting the Sunnis on board is only window dressing, I don’t think the US cares if the mainly powerless and ineffectual former Ba’athists are unhappy with the final result or not, I think the real worry the State Department has is what the Saudi reaction to a Shiite dominated government in Iraq is.

The mind boggles.

Extra points:

I wrote a few days ago that NASA had announced they were going to spend $100 billion on a manned mission to Mars. I was wrong. It’s really a manned mission to the moon, which is even more pointless if you think about it in light of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rebuilding of a major US city. (The moon is just as good of a place to build W.’s presidential library, though.) In any case, the Chinese have their own ideas for a mission to the moon, they’re not exactly going to write us a check to beat them to it.

What if we had owed trillions to the Russians in the 60’s? I think they would have put a man on the moon, and maybe returned him safely to earth, before we did. Meanwhile, we’re asking the Russians for help with supplying the ISS because we’re SOL in the space shuttle department. How embarrassing! A US millionaire will be going up to the ISS on a Soyuz-TMA spacecraft tomorrow, by the way. Man, you know when it’s safer to travel to space on a Soyuz.

Condi in Haiti:

Back on the 27th,
Condi made a trip to Haiti to make sure upcoming elections there would be “open, inclusive and fair,” and there would be no funny business going on about allowing former democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in. “The Haitian people are moving on,” she said. Well, that’s nice of her to say, but what about the sizable number of Haitians who still support him and are still pissed off about us ousting him in a coup?

She’s got the big title now, but she’s still the same old incompetent nincompoop she always was. Tell us the one about you not knowing that terrorists would use planes to attack the US again, Condi.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:38 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005 2:10 PM EDT
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Thursday, 29 September 2005
Sweep the scoundrels out!
Topic: General News.

Ok, so I was gloating a little when I heard the news about Tom DeLay’s indictment, I admit, but now I’m sticking strictly to business. David Brooks on ATC yesterday put it all into perspective for me when he in effect said, ‘big deal,’ the Republicans weren’t happy with DeLay anyway. He caused them too much grief and “he skated to close to the edge.” And having said that: what did DeLay do anyway? No one has said what he did, so let’s not get too far ahead of this.

You know, Brooks is right, all this “hysteria” over DeLay is much to do about nothing and anyway he didn’t do anything. I’m sure the Republicans are perfectly happy to have their defacto leader under indictment and they welcome the challenge of convincing America that Ronnie Earl is a “political zealot.” DeLay says, “I’m innocent,” and we all should believe him. What more needs to be said?

And while we’re at it, the Republicans welcome an SEC investigation into Senate leader Bill Frist’s sale of HCA stock, which just happened to come days before the price of the stock plummeted. Frist says he was only trying to comply with ethics regulations and now he’s being crucified by a pack of partisan fanatics at the SEC for trying to play by the rules. How unfair.

And what about Michael Brown? He’s just a regular guy who is being used as a scapegoat. There’s a lot of evidence that Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin blew it before Katrina hit, Brown tried warn them! He was frantically calling the White House again and again to tell Andy Card that Katrina was “going to be a bad one.”

He’s overseen over a 150 presidentially declared disasters and he did a heck of a job! Of course, this last disaster was pretty much of his own making, but he still did a heck of job. If you really look at the response to the aftermath of Katrina objectively, it was a tremendous success.

And there’s an upside to this whole thing for the Republicans. They’re likely to win more congressional seats from Louisiana now that a large portion of democratic voters from New Orleans has moved on to other parts of the country, the oil companies are buckling under an avalanche of profits and all the big government contractors, like KBR and Shaw, are going to be able to bilk the American taxpayer for decades even after we’re out of Iraq. Win win!

Speaking of corruption and cronyism, Timothy Flanagan is on the hill today to begin his confirmation hearings to become a deputy Attorney General. His little and inconsequential lobbying job at Tyco which involved hiring Jack Abramoff to lobby Karl Rove is hardly an impediment to his confirmation. So what if his new job at the DOJ might mean he oversees all the various criminal investigations into Abramoff?

There’s no conflict of interest there, unless you’re a jackbooted, partisan fanatic like Ronnie Earl. So what that Karl Rove is also embroiled in the Valerie Plame scandal, big deal! I’m sure Flanagan is just a regular guy who will apply the law fairly without attempting to go easy on Abramoff like John Ashcroft is suspected of doing in the Guam judges case. There will be no partisan witch-hunts on this blog!

Enough of all this scandal and corruption, John Roberts is likely to be confirmed today, which is a big win for W. Hopefully W. will be in town when the vote comes down, I think it’s been at least 24 hours since he last made a trip down to the Gulf Coast. He’ll probably stick around DC today to conserve energy, and besides, Cindy Sheehan is gone. No fancy motorcades for W. anymore. He’s taking the Metro from now on and he’s making sure to turn off his X-box after he’s done playing.

Roberts will probably be sworn in soon after confirmation and will get right to work making public schools safe for “intelligent design” and eviscerating all those pesky environment regulations that are preventing the private sector from coming to the aid of all those hurricane Katrina victims. Another big win, right under the noses of those brain dead democrats. High five!

News Items:

Here are just a few news clips I’ve seen in the past few days that have coaught me attention, not in any particular order:

Luis Posada Carriles

Reuters reports a federal judge has ruled that Luis Posada Carriles cannot be deported to Cuba or Venezuela because he faced the threat of torture in those countries, which would violate the UN Convention Against Torture. His lawyers have said that Carriles will apply for American citizenship!

So, now the government is concerned that a terrorist and mass murderer might be tortured if he’s extradited to face trial for his many crimes. They’re all about that UN convention against torture when the terrorist is one of theirs but not so much for innocent types like Maher Arar.

What if the US government got one of those letters from Fidel that said he promised not to torture him? I hear we’ve ok’d renditions to Egypt and Syria when they crossed their hearts and hoped to die if they tortured al-Qaeda suspects, I think Hugo Chavez is about as trust worthy as Bashar al-Asad.

Faces of death:

Ton Shanker in the NYT reports that the US military is investigating a web site that provides free porno for US troops and also lets them post photos of dead Iraqis. The Online Journalism Review identified the operator of the site as Chris Miller from Florida (Of course.) who says the photos, “are from the soldiers slant. This is directly from them.

They can take the digital cameras and take a picture and send it to me, and that’s the most raw you can get it. I like to see it from their point of view, I think it’s newsworthy.” Some namby pamby Islamic rights group says the photos of Iraqi body parts and corpses burned to a crisp “bring dishonor to the military,” and the military has admitted that this type of thing undermines the war effort in Iraq, but this is war.

The photos shouldn’t just be on some porno site, they should be on the front pages of all the major US newspapers. Up till now the military hasn’t even wanted pictures of flag draped coffins being shown. If we’re ever going to get out of this war and prevent other such wars of choice, the American people need to see the actual results of their faux patriotic air punching. We’re number one!

If you’re a parent, do you want your 19 year old going to a war where the standard boredom killer is playing with corpses and viciously beating helpless prisoners? I wonder why they never mention this sort of thing in the recruiting ads? It’s your patriotic duty, mom, sign your kid up or we will.


In Iraq, by the way, it’s all going to hell, but W. is confident all will go well. Bush says the insurgents will, “do everything in their power to try to stop the march of freedom. And our troops are ready for them.” Bring ‘em on! Hell, we just killed Zarqawi’s number two, Abdullah Abu Azzam, the supposed al-Qaeda leader responsible for the bombings in Baghdad; don’t you feel another corner being turned?

There have been 8 US soldiers killed since Sunday [make that 12], a car bomb was found less than a mile away from the US embassy inside the green zone, a woman suicide bomber killed 6 army recruits in newly liberated and secure Tal Afar, five school teachers were lined up and shot in their class room, but other than that, it’s going pretty well.

Once this referendum is done with, of course, there will be another round of violence as the country prepares for elections in December, which will doubtless lead to even more furious Shiite infighting between the Iraqi and the Iranian factions and don’t forget about the Saudis.

Don’t you get the feeling at this point with all the various Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni militias running around Iraq killing each other, that we’re just one of the bigger militias? It’s like in the Lebanese civil war, but this time we’re involved. And maybe, in the near future there will be other militias coming to the party. Despite the good news coming out of the White House spin machine, the Saudi foreign minister says the Iraq is hurtling toward disintegration according to Joel Brinkly in the NYT. Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters at the Saudi embassy in Washington that,” There is no dynamic now pulling the country together. All the dynamics are pulling the country apart.”

He says he’s been warning the Bush administration about the dire situation in Iraq and they respond that things are getting better and use the elections and the constitution as examples. Al-Faisal says, “ But what I’m trying to do is say that unless something is done to bring Iraqis together, elections alone won’t do it. A constitution alone won’t do it.” I think what he means by bringing Iraqis together has more to do with the Sunnis and their alienation from the process by branding them all as Ba’athists.

The most important thing al-Faisal is saying to Condi & Co. is that the other countries in the region aren’t going to sit back and let Iraq become three different countries, especially a Kurdish one. This could, “ bring other countries in the region into the conflict.” Turkey considers an independent Kurdistan a red line, one that cannot be crossed.

I hear lately we’ve been cozying up to Turkey, National Security Director Stephen Hadley was just there, and have offered to help them with their PKK problem in the South-East of Turkey. Again, I say, bad idea. We’ve got enough problems without getting involved in Turkey’s ethnic cleansing.

No matter how you look at it, the future of Iraq has more potential looming disasters in store rather than happy outcomes. Who got us into this mess in the first place?

Extra notes:

John Roberts is the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 78-22. Way to lay back and take it democrats!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:30 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 28 September 2005
The shit hits the fan!
Topic: General News.

Thanks to the Free Library of Philadelphia I haven’t been able to post for almost a week because the computers have been down and no one seems to know why they’re down or when they’ll be back up.

This is kind of ironic since the Library system just had a big to-do about the great new web site they put up. It’s a shame the people who use the library the most, the people without computers, which is probably the majority of people in Philly, since it’s the 6th poorest city in the US, can’t actually see the great new Library web site. They probably could have used the money it took to create this great new web site for better things like extending hours and being open on the weekends and more computers. But that’s just me, what do I know?

Stop the presses!!!

As I'm posting this news has come that shithead Tom DeLay has been indicted by a Texas grand jury investigating campaign rules violations in the 2002 elections. Glory Hallelu!

AP reports: "A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post."

Scott McClellan says,"Congressman DeLay is a good ally, a leader who we have worked closely with to get things done for the American people. I think the president's view is that we need to let the legal process work." Right, like he's letting the Plame investigation work its way through the legal system before he fires Karl Rove.

Boy, what a horrible month for Bush & Co.! I'm lovin' it!

In a nutshell, this indictment revolves around DeLay taking corporate donations for his PAC "Texans for a Republican Majority," sending $190,000 of it to the republican party in Washington and then laundering it back to Texas. You'd think they could use a different amount just to hide it a bit. The Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earl, even has the check!

Kevin Madden, DeLay's spokesperson says, "This indictment is nothing more than prosecutorial retribution by a partisan Democrat." Right, Earl has tried 4 republicans and 12 democrats for coruption. Very partisan.

Looks like someone must have fingered deLay because he's being charged with conspiracy and you need two to tango, so I wonder who broke.

And speaking of corruption what about one of Tom DeLay's closest friends Jack Abranoff?

There’s a lot in the news the past few days about the rampant cronyism going on in the Bush administration but that hasn’t stopped Bush & Co. from going right ahead with doling out government largess to their monied clients.

All the big contractors are racking in the taxpayer money from the noble efforts of the former head of the government procurement office David Safavian who was arrested on the 19th in relation to yet another Jack Abramoff investigation.

Safavian, who has been called the most unqualified person for the head of the office of government procurement, made it much easier for the likes of Shaw Group and Halliburton to get no-bid contracts for hurricane reconstruction.

He may have been unqualified to manage over $300 billion in government contracts, but that wasn’t really his job. Giving it all away to well-connected corporations was the real job and he did a heck of a job.

Speaking of a heck of a job, Brownie the Clownie was at it again yesterday at the House select committee on whitewashes. The hearing on the Katrina disaster being conducted by the mainly republican committee, because democrats are boycotting it, focused on blaming Louisiana governor Blanco and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.

Brown said his only failure was not getting Blanco and Nagin to stop bickering and order an evacuation in time. He didn’t realize Louisiana was so “dysfunctional,” he said. That’s a good one, who doesn’t know Louisiana is a poor state run by political hacks?

In any case, the real issue is why it took so long for Michael Chertoff to issue the proper orders for the federal government to come in and why it took so long for W. to call up the 82nd Airborne. It took three days for them to get there, when they could have deployed within 8 hours anytime after the hurricane passed. But that’s not what these hearings are about. It’s all about placing the blame somewhere else.

Meanwhile FEMA has announced they’ll be giving taxpayer money to faith based charities for all their good works.

According to the WaPo “after prodding from Republican lawmakers and the Red Cross, FEMA said yesterday that it would reimburse churches and other religious organizations that opened their doors to provide shelter, food and support to survivors of hurricane Katrina.”

I think it says somewhere in the Bible that the good Samaritan got the Roman Senate to pay him back for helping that guy on the road. The next time you think about giving to the Red Cross, just remember they pushed for this. Do they really need your donations after all? If we’re going to be footing the bill out of our pay checks anyway, let’s just get the government to actually do their damn job the right way to begin with, then we won’t need these religious charities asking for a hand out for something they should be doing out of the goodness of their own hearts. Douche bags!

Speaking of Douche bags:

How about this Jack Abramoff? Two more stories about him have come to light in the past day or so. We already know about his ripping off the Indians on their casino deal, which involves all the big neo-con players in Washington, including Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist, and you’ve heard about his Sun Cruz Casino deal with Gus Boulis, which involved not paying for the deal, but have you heard about the effort by John Ashcroft to stop a prosecutor in Guam from investigating him?

The FBI is looking into whether the demotion of prosecutor Federick A. Black was related to his 2002 alert to the Justice Department that he was opening an investigation into Abramoff relating to his lobbying for some judges in Guam.

Philip Shendon writes in the NYT that, “ Mr. Abramoff’s internal email messages show he boasted to his clients about what he described as his close ties to John Ashcroft…and others at the department.” Just days after Black informed his superiors about his inquiry into Abramoff’s shady dealings he was reassigned and taken off public corruption cases. Democratic representative of California George Miller, whose special interest is US territories, said, “What this starts to suggest is that Abramoff’s ability to corrupt the system was far more pervasive.” This isn’t even the half of it I’m sure.

In a related story involving Gus Boulis and Jack Abramoff:

This Abramoff investigation has the potential to blow the Bush administration and the whole Republican take over of the country into smithereens. This is political dynamite!

Gus Boulis, a Ft. Lauderdale businessman, restaurateur and gangster was gunned down in 2001. At the time he was having a feud with Jack Abramoff and his business partner Adam Kidan over the sale of the SunCruz fleet. Ft. Lauderdale prosecutors have finally brought a case against three reputed gang members of the Gambino crime family in Boulis’ killing.

As of yet, Abramoff hasn’t been named in connection in this case, even though he has been indicted in the ship deal in Ft Lauderdale, but Kidan gave two of the three gangsters $250,000 right after Boulis was killed, which, of course, was just a legitimate business expense related to the running of the gambling ships. Kidan says, “ There was never any secret about these payments. If I’m going to pay to have Gus killed, am I going to be writing checks to the killers? I don’t think so.” Well, maybe so, if you thought they wouldn’t be caught. I’m sure Abramoff had nothing to do with this, right?

And in regard to putting people into important government positions based on how much they gave versus how much they know, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a new boss.

Cheryl F. Halpern, who is one of the biggest hard money contributors to the Republican Party, has been elected to the chair of the CPB. Of course, she’s a right wing ideologue; of course she thinks NPR and PBS are infested with liberals.

In particular, she thinks NPR is anti-Israel and has said she believes the CPB should have the authority to penalize broadcasting journalists who air biased programs. Paul Fahri for the WaPo writes, “When she was a member of the federal agency that oversees Voice of America and Radio free Europe, she said during her confirmation hearing: ‘We were able to remove physically somebody who had engaged in editorialization of the news.’”

The CPB board also elected another right wing nut, Gary Hart Gaines, who worked for Newt Gingrich back in the GOPAC days. So, look forward to NPR becoming the domestic version of VOA in the near future. David Brocanccio better watch out, because they’re going to be coming for him!

I apologize for all those nasty letters I’ve written to NPR, except for the ones on the outrageous, over the top, coverage of the Reagan funeral.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:48 PM EDT
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Friday, 23 September 2005
Fighting terror and hurricanes. Bullets and Butter.
Topic: General News.

Things are really going from bad to weird, as Lou Reed would say. Another US city is being evacuated and this time more than a million and a half people are being displaced. (This on top of the million or so from New Orleans.) As if this whole evacuation wasn’t crazy enough already, just a few hours ago a bus with 45 elderly evacuees blew up on the highway out of Houston killing at least 24.

Just unbelievable. There are traffic jams that go on for 20 miles, people are moving at 10 miles an hour, if they’re lucky, and some are getting stuck on the roadside because they’ve run out of gas, which is in short supply, or they’re breaking down from overheating and there’s no water.

This hurricane is going to be rolling through in just a few hours, what are the local authorities going to if people are still stuck on the highway? You can already start to imagine something much worse than Katrina coming.

Not to say that I don’t have confidence in the gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight being capable of handling another crisis, or anything. [They’re already gassing up Air Force One for a fly over of Houston, when it’s all over.] I just hope this time, someone at the White House, or at FEMA, is watching CNN.

W., with his usual firm grip on reality, said in a speech on Wednesday, that he’s been “thinking a lot” (It’s hard work. Hard work!), about 9/11 and Katrina and the terrorists are “the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We’re in a war against these people.” Wait, we’re in a war against hurricanes? I’m confused, what did he just say?

So, we should trust him to be able to handle another crisis because so far his leadership on the “war on terror” has been so stellar? This is Karl Rove’s strategy to resuscitate the Boy’s poll numbers? I think right now most people are just crossing their fingers desperately hoping this idiot doesn’t get us all killed.

Butter, Bullets, and a manned mission to Mars.

In a spectacularly well-timed announcement, NASA says they’re going to spend $100 billion for a manned mission to Mars. These guys can’t even pick up the trash at the International Space Station without a 1 in 52 chance of the shuttle blowing up and they’re going to Mars? Good location for a George W. Bush presidential library, though.

Don’t worry, be happy. W. says now is not the time to pull out of Iraq. We can have bullets and butter we can afford it all. No act of terror or nature is going to force us out of Iraq. “No matter how many car bombs there are, these terrorists cannot stop the march of freedom.”

So, he’s basically conceding that we can’t stop the car bombs. So, bring ‘em on! In an interesting bit of history revision, W. said yesterday “to leave Iraq now would be to repeat costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001.” Before the invasion, we had to go in to prevent another 9/11, now we have to stay to prevent another 9/11.

Congress says money grows on trees:

I keep hearing the like’s of William Cristal and David Brooks droning on about how we’re ‘the wealthiest nation on earth’ and we can have two wars and recover from two massive hurricanes. If my only source of money is a Visa card, am I wealthy? I would like to know how we’re going to afford to rebuild New Orleans, rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan and pay for Don Young’s bridge to nowhere.

This is just insanity, sooner or later our creditors are going to seriously ask themselves if we’re good for it. Congress’ solution is tax cuts and set asides, but I don’t see how sticking it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is going to solve our financial problems. Cutting social programs and diverting taxpayer money to politically connected faith-based charities is not an answer.
Doesn’t it just seem like our government has just lost its ability to function?

This administration and the congress are totally incapable of dealing with this crisis we’re in. The hurricanes, the wars, the raising oil prices----and we’re not even into the winter heating oil crisis yet----this government just can’t deal. This is how coups get started in banana republics and we’re starting to look like the wackiest banana republic in the west. In 1931 the government pretty much threw up its hands two years into the Depression and Hubert Hoover suggested what the country needed was a poem. At that time, the only question was who would take over after Hoover, the communists or the fascists? I don’t know, you think another day of prayer will do the trick?

Cloaca Catholica:

Just do what the Catholic Church does in a crisis, ignore it. I wrote yesterday about the Philadelphia Archdiocese and their little pedophile problem, which a Philadelphia Grand Jury called “A continuous, concerted campaign of cover up.” Cardinal Justin Rigali, the current head of the Archdiocese, says no one should read the Grand Jury report. “I don’t think it’s of value to families…It’s prolonged explanations of abuse” are “very graphic.”

Yeah, it not family reading material, for sure. Having to read about Father John Mulholland and his bondage, scat fetish and little boys isn’t very conducive to keeping the donation plate full.
Mulholland is still a priest, even though the Church concluded that a letter he sent to a boy with pictures of painful bondage and a message saying, “prepare to break me on vacation,” showed that he was “a disturbed individual in need of mental health intervention.” One report had Mulholland stringing up a boy and “piercing him or at least jabbing him with some instrument over his body.”

Cardinal Rigali says it’s a shame the Grand Jury report doesn’t show the “great efforts by the Archdiocese” to prevent further sexual abuse. Mulholland was cleared of any wrong doing in 2004, and is now ministering to a nursing home, so it would appear their efforts aren’t good enough.
I wonder what the Pope has to say about all of this. He after all, has a little cover up problem of his own.

Herr Ratzinger has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in Texas involving the cover up of the abuse of three boys by a seminarian named Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, who is currently on the lam. The AP writes that, “the lawsuit alleges that the former cardinal, who headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith before becoming Pontiff, was involved in a conspiracy to hide Patino-Arango’s crimes and help him escape prosecution.” Imagine that!

In any case, the US State Department has stepped in to keep the Holy Father from having to deal with it. Assistant US Attorney General Peter Keisler has told the judge in the case that to allow the lawsuit to proceed would be “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests,” because the Pope enjoys the immunity as head of state of the Holy See. So, how did we get away with arresting Manuel Noriega, he was a head of state too, right? And Saddam, wasn’t he a head of state? But in this case, it’s in our foreign policy interest to keep priests from having to stand trial for sexually abusing children.

Nazis, child abusers, what the diff?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:57 PM EDT
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Thursday, 22 September 2005
The moral sewer that is the Catholic Church.

As I worte on the 16th, Pope Benedict XVI is going after all the fags in the Church and is going to toss them out, in order to prevent more child abuse problems. Of course, most gays don't abuse children, but don't confuse the Holy Father with the facts. The sun revolves around the Earth and thats that!

It appears, he might be a little late. A Grand Jury in Philadelphia just issued a report on the rampant abuse of children over many decades in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. [PI]

"Sexually abusive priests were left quietly in place or 'recycled' to unsuspecting new parishes - vastly expanding the number of children who were abused," the grand jury concluded."

The Grand Jury wrote that the Church hierarchy, "excused and enabled the abuse" for decades. In its callous, calculating manner, the archdiocese's 'handling' of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself. What we have found were not acts of God, but of men who acted in His name and defiled it."

And here's a heads up for the Pope, in one case a preist who repeatedly raped an 11 year old girl took her to have an abortion. So it's not a about gay sex, its about sexual predators in collars.

But the Church is ready to admit guilt and make changes. Not really, their responce to the report went like this: the report is "incredibly biased and anti-Catholic" and a "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe."

Oh yes, poor Catholic Church. Call Rick Santorum for a donation.

A list of abuses by 63 preists who did this for decades goes like this:

"According to the report, victims of the abuse included:

An 11-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by a priest who took her for an abortion when she became pregnant.

A fifth grader who was molested by a priest inside a confessional.

A teenage girl who was groped by a priest while she lay immobilized in traction in a hospital room.

A priest who offered money to boys in exchange for sadomasochistic acts of bondage and wrote a letter asking a boy to make him his "slave." The priest remains in ministry.

A priest who abused boys playing the roles of Jesus and other biblical characters in a parish Passion play by making them disrobe, don loincloths, and whip each other until they had cuts, bruises and welts.

A priest who falsely told a 12-year-old boy his mother knew of the assaults and consented to the rape of her son.

The grand jury found that many victims were abused for years and that many priests abused multiple victims, sometimes preying on members of the same family."


As usual the Church moved these guys around and didn't tell anyone that they were moving a child molester into their parish.

Archbishop Anthony J. Bevilacqua, who was in charge of hiding these molesters from 1988 to 2003,
had a "strict policy, according to his aides, that forbid informing parishioners... about any problems in a priest's background."

Unfortunatly, no one is going to be prosecuted for these horrible crimes because the statute of limitations has run out. The Inquirer writes that, "The panel said it had considered charging the archdiocese with endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, victim/witness intimidation, hindering apprehension, and obstruction of justice. But again, it said, the statute of limitations on any crimes had expired.

So the panel was left with what it described as "a travesty of justice, a multitude of crimes for which no one can be held criminally accountable."

They got that right. But I'm sure the Holy Father in his wisdom will make this right for the hundreds of victims of his Church, right?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:55 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2005 3:06 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 21 September 2005
Can do president.
Topic: General News.

Our can-do president made yet another trip to the Gulf Coast yesterday to highlight the progress being made in the recovery effort. Here we go again with the rose-tinted glasses approach to the problem. Towns throughout the Gulf region are still leveled, they haven’t been rebuilt, the levies aren’t repaired, there is an entire city that is still deserted and astoundingly; there are hundreds of children still missing!!! (And what happened to those $2000 debit cards?)

No one is expecting the administration to wave a magic wand and make it all better over night, but don’t give us this ‘we’re making progress’ crap, when its so obvious what all these trips down there are really all about.

If Karl Rove thinks the “mission accomplished” model is going to work in pumping up Bush’s poll numbers this time around, he’s got something else coming. Journalists in the US don’t need to be embedded in military units to report on what’s going on in Louisiana and Mississippi. It won’t take too long for people to match up the rhetoric coming from W. with the pictures of destruction.
But it’s not all about poll numbers, is it? More importantly it’s about giving a helping hand to Bechtel, Halliburton, Fluor and every other corporation with its hand out.

Oh yeah, and pushing the right wing agenda. Promoting school vouchers and giving government money to “faith-based” charities (Rick Santorum says, they’re the real first responders when the federal government is late with help.), is what it’s all about. Rove is an expert when it comes to manipulating a national crisis for political advantage; there isn’t any depth he won’t sink to. He’d sell us out to the Chinese if there were some benefit to the republicans in it. (I’m assuming he hasn’t already.)

Rita on the rocks:

So, there’s another hurricane coming down the pike. It’s all perfectly normal, though, we usually have 20 Cat. 5 hurricanes in a year, don’t worry be happy. Exxon/Mobil is pretty happy; they’re planning on buying the Sun with all the extra money their making from their crisis profiteering. We’ll all be getting bills for sun use in the near future. On cloudy days, naturally, they’ll need government disaster relief.

I say, that this time, if W. really wants to show everybody what a big man he is, he’ll ride out hurricane Rita wherever it hits and monitor the response time from the federal government, just to make sure he knows what’s going on.

[By the way, what the hell was Ray Nagin thinking when he encouraged people to go back to New Orleans? I understand he wants to get the city back in business, but even EPA is saying this time that it’s too dangerous, what with all the gasoline, oil and God knows what else floating around and caked on everything. This is a departure from the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when reports of asbestos in the air around the Ground Zero area were suppressed to get those brokers back to playing the market. To say nothing of the firefighters who were allowed to work without masks while digging for bodies under the collapsed buildings.]

Speaking of progress:

The US military reported the deaths of 12 more Americans yesterday, bringing the total death toll so far to 1,907. Stay the course, don’t let their deaths be in vain.

Also, on Tuesday, a British military attempt to rescue two special forces commandos from an Iraqi jail in Basra resulted in several British armoured vehicles being destroyed by fire. Iraqi “policemen” had detained the two commandos after being caught on the street dressed in Arab garb. Presumably they were engaged in some sort of undercover operation. While the British foreign service people were negotiating the release of these detainees with the “government” in Baghdad, the British military got wind of a transfer of these soldiers to a local militia, the Mahdi army, a report the Iraqi interior minister says was just a rumor. (Of course, he’s a part of the Badr organization, so he might be slightly biased.)

This is when the Brits cordoned off the area around the jail and launched an extraction operation by plowing a hole through a jailhouse wall with a tank. (During the cordoning off operation, the citizens of Basra started throwing rocks and Molotov Cocktails at the British troops who were caught on camera fleeing their burning tanks.) The Brits say they found their commandos at another house where they had been transferred, but the Iraqis say the house was part of the jail and they weren’t in the hands of the Mahdi army. It’s difficult to tell what really went on because most of the ring leaders of this whole mess in Basra are in the Iraqi government. In this case, I guess the British version is probably less of a lie.

This is a very embarrassing situation for the British military and the “coalition” which claims that they’re only there to help a “sovereign” Iraqi government. Violating the sovereignty of the government by attacking one of its police stations isn’t exactly acting like a good neighbor.

Maybe, we should ignore the media filter here and see what the prime minister’s office has to say on the subject: “In response to recent events in Basra, the Iraqi government wants to clarify that there is no crisis---as some in the media have claimed----between it and the British government.” So, this one incident doesn’t blow the whole facade off the lie that the British have really been in control of Basra over the past three or four months?

I was going to say, that this must be quite an eye opener for the British who thought everything was going relatively smoothly in the south, but I stand corrected. There is no crisis. And little children in Baghdad are begging their mommies to get them American military uniforms to dress up in because to them the US soldier is a super hero! (Yes, Susan Dakak actually said this on Radio Times.)

It’s difficult to say what the commandos were up to. Were they after Muktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army? Or was it an Iranian group led by Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani, who is suspected of introducing the new and deadlier “shaped” explosive roadside bomb, which has been killing Brits, contractors and Americans in a much more efficient way lately.

There is little doubt now, as if there was before, that the Shiite militias of Muktada al Sadr, the Badr Brigade, and various other militias, all run by members of the present Iraqi government, are the real power in Basra. The Iranians also have a very large foothold in the south. Even before the war began, Iran had made sure as the chaos took hold in the early hours of the American invasion they were there to fill the void.

Michael Ware writes for TIME that, “as many as 12,000 armed men, along with Iranian intelligence officers, swarmed into Iraq.” A 2004 British military inquiry found that the Badr organization and other militias were already so deeply entrenched in the area that, "it quickly became clear that the coalition needed to work with them to ensure a secure environment in the province.” A student at Basra University, an institution which is a frequent target of Shiite religious police, says, “these guys with beards and Kalashnikovs showed up saying they'd come to protect the campus, the problem is, they never left.”

If the new Iraqi constitution winds up giving the Shiites autonomy in the south, you’ll see Sadr, Sistani, and Chalabi all vying for Iranian influence and fighting over oil revenues. The civil war in Iraq that the newspapers keep saying the US is trying to avoid is already in full swing and the Iranians and the Shiites in the south are really fanning the flames. The Sunnis aren’t necessarily the only ones fighting against the occupation, though.

Progress in Afghanistan:

Now that there have been successful parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, Rummy has declared, “Afghanistan is a democracy,” So, in that case, he won’t mind handing over the keys to president Hamid Kharzai, right? (Karzai is getting pretty uppity, these days, some one ought to remind him that we’re paying for his security detail.) He says the US needs to change its strategy in Afghanistan. “I don’t think there is a big need for military activity in Afghanistan anymore. The US should stop their air raids in the country; stop launching major offensives in the country and, “no coalition forces should go to Afghan homes without the authorization of the Afghan government.”

He seems to feel the real problem comes from other countries. The focus should be on “on where terrorists are trained, on their bases, on the supply to them, on the money coming to them.” Hmmm…which country could he be talking about? It couldn’t be Pakistan, because Pervez Musharraf launched a big raid in the tribal areas just before he came to the US for the UN summit.

Surely, Karzai isn’t saying these raids were just for show to keep the Americans happy? He must be talking about Syria. We’re really losing patience with them!!!

Since we’re celebrating this momentous occasion in Afghanistan, I thought it would be good to look back at all the success there’s been since the invasion in 2001. It’s been a very successful four years, full of great success, so much so that our point man in Afghanistan, the very successful Zalmay Khalilzad, has moved to Iraq to repeat his great success there.

WaPo:” After US-led military forces routed the Islamic Taliban militia from Kabul, large sections of Afghan territory remain in the grip of local militias, while the southeast has become the target of violent attacks and political wooing by insurgent Taliban forces based along the Pakistani border…coalition troops launched Operation Mountain Resolve, a high altitude offensive, in Kunar and Nurestan provinces, adjacent hilly border regions, that are believed to shelter a network of fighters loyal to the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the renegade militia leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.”

That was from the WaPo on Nov. 16, 2003. A day before, two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters collided over Mosul killing 17 soldiers and injuring five others. This is also the day after the US and Iraq announced their “radical new plan for the country’s political transition that would end the US-led occupation by July 1 and could facilitate a significant withdrawal of US troops next year.”

As we know, the country’s sovereignty was turned over two days early! Of course, that was because they were afraid if they did it on the day they said they’d do it, there might have been a huge attack.

During this part of 2003 and into early 2004, you’ll remember, there was an upsurge in violence in the run up to the transfer of power. Then there was another surge of violence in the run up to the successful elections in January 2005, which included two very costly attacks on Fallujah, which is now a free city. Free of its citizens and buildings, but free of terrorism!

Then there followed a successful formation of a government, a successful drafting of a constitution and then the withdrawal of significant numbers of US troops.

Well, that last part didn’t happen, they’re still there fighting so that the deaths of the previous 1,907 won’t have been in vain, in the run up to the constitutional referendum in October. There might be an upsurge in violence, which is why there are a couple more brigades of US troops on the way. Leading up to a significant withdrawal, of course.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:36 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005 1:43 PM EDT
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