spook of the ozarks

unapologetic liberal

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Historian foreshadows Iraq exit

Saw this Forward piece by "Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University [and] author of 'Transformation of War' (Free Press, 1991) [who] is the only non-American author on the U.S. Army's required reading list for officers" excerpted on Altercation today. Then again tonight by Wolcott. No excerpt here; as the bloggers say, read the whole thing. It's called, "Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War."

O'Reilly's gone totally insane

Read all about it.
UPDATE: St. Pete Times reacts to inclusion on idiotic enemies list.

Shorter W

Three more years:

"Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. The many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing are sincere. But I believe they're sincerely wrong.
Pulling our troops out before they achieve their purpose is not a plan for victory. ...
"To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge, America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief," Bush declared.

We're not going anywhere.

Lyons, Conason

Gene doesn't think Catholic homophobia's very Christ-like. Joe thinks current GOP corruption surpasses that of past generations.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We like Hillary

But an endorsement by Susan Estrich should be the kiss of death. And she thinks Joe Biden would be a good running mate.

FCC chief endorses a la carte cable

It's about time. Why should anyone be forced to pay for crap like Fox News? Religious broadcasters are again' it. This at a hearing on whether to censor pay TV services:

The FCC chief also said a study the agency issued last year -- showing that consumers would end up paying more if they were allowed to pick and choose the cable channels they subscribed to -- was flawed. He said an a la carte subscription TV service could be economically feasible.

Monday, November 28, 2005

AP interviews Lawrence Wilkerson


[F]ormer Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

The answer is C.

Bozo = coward


Thanks for the heads-up, Don. Hope to see you Saturday. Sy Hersh had to cancel because weather bloggered his flight from Atlanta. They may reschedule. Oh, well. This saves us the trouble of relearning how to program the timed-recording feature of the VCR and deciding what to tape over. Because we're not missing the season finale of "Prison Break."

Romantic love only lasts a year

Italian scientists say so. It probably varies from person to person, we think.


The harder they fall:

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges involving the sale of his home two years ago to a defense contractor at an inflated price.
Admitting to a judge that he took bribes, Cunningham entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

The AP apparently thinks his being a Republican is irrelevant.
UPDATE: He resigned, and they note that he's a Republican.

Sy Hersh tonight

At the Walton Arts Center. Here's his latest New Yorker piece. He reports a possible scenario for a U.S. exit strategy for Iraq. His sources tell him the White House may shift the burden for fighting the insurgency to Iraqi forces on the ground with U.S. air support. The Air Force is wary of trusting Iraqis to select targets for airstrikes. He also includes some stuff about W being divorced from reality:

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.
“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”

Where's Colin Powell when we need him?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Frank Rich


George W. Bush is so desperate for allies that his hapless Asian tour took him to Ulan Bator, a first for an American president, so he could mingle with the yaks and give personal thanks for Mongolia's contribution of some 160 soldiers to "the coalition of the willing." Dick Cheney, whose honest-and-ethical poll number hit 29 percent in Newsweek's latest survey, is so radioactive that he vanished into his bunker for weeks at a time during the storms Katrina and Scootergate.
The whole world can see that both men are on the run. ...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

'Black Friday' kabuki

Digby, as usual, nails it.
via Kevin.

News you can use

The Guardian publishes instructions on how to make the perfect paper "aeroplane." (flash presentation)

LATimes: instant Iraqi readiness

Just add water:

WASHINGTON — Even as debate over the Iraq war continues to rage, signs are emerging of a convergence of opinion on how the Bush administration might begin to exit the conflict.
In a departure from previous statements, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week that the training of Iraqi soldiers had advanced so far that the current number of U.S. troops in the country probably would not be needed much longer.
President Bush will give a major speech Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in which aides say he is expected to herald the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for pulling out U.S. forces.

Sounds like this time they're actually writing some new lies that will constitute a "major speech."

Lawmakers' wives make great employees

And other developments in the Abramoff investigation, reported in the Post. It's nice how the permanent GOP domination of the federal government is unraveling itself. The Democrats still need to craft and articulate a popular agenda, but the absolutely powerful and equally corrupt Republicans are doing their share. Let's toss them an anvil.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The capital of Saskatchewan

KHBS/KHOG Chief Meteorologist Charles Salser and his second louie, Drew Michaels, for some reason feel compelled to report occasionally to a Northwest Arkansas audience the weather conditions in Regina. If they're trying to demonstrate their geographical acumen, they're doing the opposite: The name of the city is pronounced rej-EYE-nuh, not reh-JEE-nuh. And if Salser, who continually plugs their Web site, thehometownchannel.com, and Michaels, whose e-mail link bounced back when we tried to tell them, read their e-mail they'd know it. Actually, if we want to know how cold it is in Regina, we won't wait for the 10 o'clock news here to find out.

This was surreal

CBS, from Times Square, had the accident live, reporting that someone had been hurt. NBC, reporting from from Herald Square, where the parade ends, was cluelessly reading standard scripted parade banter. The Times reports:

At 11:47 a.m., about 7 minutes after the accident, the screen image faded from live coverage of a high school marching band from Kennesaw, Ga., to last year's tape of the M&M balloon. Ms. Couric, advising the audience that it was now looking at old tape, riffed on the balloon's concept of M&M's in distress.
"Now, because of today's windy conditions," Ms. Couric told viewers, "these characters are on video, and if we told you they were not in a panic, we'd be full of hot air."
Mr. Lauer, Ms. Couric's co-anchor on the "Today" show, chimed in: "You may be thinking 'color us clueless' as they flirt with trouble, with Yellow hanging on by a thread and Red struggling to keep his best buddy from flying off into the blue."
Mr. Roker then spoke his lines: "Will these classic candymen get out of this delicious dilemma? Hard to say, but when it comes to sweetness, Yellow and Red continue to melt your heart, but not in your hand."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Cheney became president

Sidney Blumenthal chronicles his career path.

Hadn't heard this one


In the end, the distortion of intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq may be the lesser of Cheney's sins. He rammed his friend Ahmad Chalabi's version of reality in Iraq down everyone's throats and made it impossible for anyone in the Pentagon to properly plan for postwar occupation and reconstruction.
Then, when it all threatened to come undone and American soldiers were dying at the rate of three or four per day in Iraq, Cheney poked his finger in Powell's chest outside a principals meeting in the White House, according to a senior administration official, and yelled: "It's all YOUR fault. If you had let us put Chalabi in charge none of this would have happened."
We will visit this greater sin in next week's column. Stand by.

We'll be here, Joe.

Deja vu

The M&M'S balloon knocked a streetlight down on someone watching the parade. Times.

Another problem with torture

This New York Times story explains why Jose Padilla's not charged with the crimes they accused him of before. The evidence is inadmissible (probably unreliable, too) because it was obtained by torturing Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bombing al-Jazeera

Does anyone doubt that the guy who said, "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out," a year before the war started would have done it? After all, we bombed their Kabul and Baghdad bureaus. Perhaps Qatar won't be quite so accommodating to the U.S. in the future.


So when Ashcroft held that news conference in Russia, of all places, to announce they had foiled a "dirty bomb" plot, apparently they didn't have much of a case. And when they changed their story last year to accuse him of plotting to blow up apartment buildings with natural-gas leaks they seem not to have had much evidence. Because now, having charged him to avoid the prospect of arguing before the Supreme Court that they should be able to imprison Americans indefinitely without charge, he's not accused of any of that stuff. It'll be interesting, when and if he goes to trial, to see what evidence they present. But don't they have some "speedy trial" issues?

Mission almost accomplished

We've partly won.

Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.
Pentagon authorities also have set a series of "decision points" during 2006 to consider further force cuts that, under a "moderately optimistic" scenario, would drop the total number of troops from more than 150,000 now to fewer than 100,000, including 10 combat brigades, by the end of the year, the officers said.

By the end of the year, they mean Election Day.

The verdict's in

They're liars:

A majority of U.S. adults believe the Bush administration generally misleads the public on current issues, while fewer than a third of Americans believe the information provided by the administration is generally accurate, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.
While the telephone survey of 1,011 U.S. adults indicates about 64% of Americans believe the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends," opinion on the topic is clearly divided along party lines. A large majority (68% to 28%) of Republicans say the Bush administration generally provides accurate information. However, even larger majorities of Democrats (91% to 7%) and Independents (73% to 25%) think the information is generally misleading.

Lyons, Conason

Gene gloats a bit about voters tossing out the wingnut school board in Dover, Pa., that mandated teaching "intelligent design" in science classes. Joe says it's time for an Iraq exit strategy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

They knew

Murray Waas for National Journal:

Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

Fast forward one year, just before the congressional vote on authorizing the war, Waas notes:

"You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror," President Bush said on September 25, 2002.
The next day, Rumsfeld said, "We have what we consider to be credible evidence that Al Qaeda leaders have sought contacts with Iraq who could help them acquire … weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities."

It would be dishonest, reprehensible, corrupt, even shameless to suggest they were lying.


Link Wray died. Richard Harrington of the Post wrote a good appreciation piece. Lots of people are called "visionaries" upon their passing. Wray earned it.

Let's go

They have spoken:

CAIRO, Nov. 21 - For the first time, Iraq's political factions on Monday collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces, in a moment of consensus that comes as the Bush administration battles pressure at home to commit itself to a pullout schedule.
The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq's government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.
About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election on Dec. 15, signed a closing memorandum on Monday that "demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces," the statement said.

The Bush administration won't admit it, but they have no intention of leaving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

November sweeps

KFSM just did an irresponsible, sensational scare piece on avian flu. We're aware of the potential dangers, but we hate sensationalism. Nothing we can find on their Web site yet.

Rundgren to replace Ocasek in Cars redux

Via Reuters:

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Cars principals Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes are teaming with veteran singer/songwriter Todd Rundgren in a new incarnation of pioneering new wave rock act the Cars, which will tour and possibly record an album next year. Rundgren will step in for Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, who has no plans to participate in the project. Cars bassist/vocalist Ben Orr died of cancer in 2000.

Never a big Cars fan, but we've seen more Rundgren concerts, mostly w/Utopia, than any other artist.

Scanlon pleads guilty


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Scanlon, a former partner to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to bribe public officials, a charge growing out of the government investigation of attempts to defraud Indian tribes and corrupt a member of Congress.
Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle and agreed to pay restitution totaling more than $19 million to the tribes.
Scanlon, who is expected to cooperate in the investigation of Abramoff and members of Congress, could face up to five years in prison.

... Abramoff's lobbying network stretched far into the halls of Congress. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show nearly three dozen lawmakers helping to block an American Indian casino in Louisiana while collecting large donations from the lobbyist and his tribal clients.

Three dozen.

The man who sold the war

James Bamford tells the story in Rolling Stone of John Rendon and the Rendon Group, a consulting firm that contracts with the Pentagon to create and disseminate propaganda to sell, among other things, the Iraq war. Rendon created the Iraqi National Congress.

Time to leave Iraq

The shrill one makes the case.

Maybe we missed it

But we're pretty sure we didn't. You might think Your 5NEWS at Noon on KFSM would have led with this story:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Nursing home operator Beverly Enterprises Inc. said Monday it has agreed to be acquired by a private-equity firm for about $1.5 billion after a previous sale fell through because financing couldn't be lined up in time.
Fillmore Capital Partners will pay $12.50 per share for the Fort Smith, Ark.-based company. Including debt to be absorbed by Fillmore, the deal is worth about $1.8 billion. North American Senior Care Inc. had pledged $13 a share but Friday's financing deadline passed without the deal being completed.

Instead, we got a report on those shootings at a mall in Tacoma. The biz segment led with the GM job cuts, which include closing a plant in Oklahoma City.

Missed him by that much

In an AP story about U.S. troops mistakenly killling three Iraqi civilians, including a child, we find this:

Earlier Monday, U.S. forces left a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a weekend gunfight, and the White House said it was "highly unlikely" that terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

Each a shame.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sharon to quit Likud?


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to quit his ruling Likud party, Army Radio reported on Sunday, quoting unidentified party sources.

Story says he'll form new party to contest new elections after Labor ditched coalition.

This would be nice

Let's hope this pans out:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight - some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

Not that it would end the insurgency, but it could lessen the terror attacks on Iraqi civilians. DEBKAfile (insert salt) says the bodies are burnt beyond recognition, but we have Zarqawi DNA.

Was Hadley Woodward's source?

Greyhair and Mikevotes were leaning that way. The Times of London says it's so.

How Curveball suckered the CIA

The LATimes:

BERLIN — The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.
According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

It's long, but read the whole thing to see how we got into this mess, how "military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."



Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006.

We've had Iraq fatigue here lately. Let's check in:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- An ambush on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol northwest of Baghdad left 15 civilians, eight insurgents and a U.S. Marine dead from a roadside bomb and the firefight that followed, a U.S. military statement said Sunday.
... At least 2,092 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
... Since Friday, at least 125 Iraqi civilians have been killed in bombings and suicide attacks. They include 76 people who died in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin along the Iranian border.
... On Saturday, a suicide bomber detonated his car in a crowd of Shiite mourners north of Baghdad, killing at least 36 people. ... Police said about 50 people were injured.
Earlier, a car bomb exploded among shoppers at an outdoor market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, killing 13 people and wounding about 20 others, police reported.

This is a course we cannot stay.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What's wrong with this story?

The hypocrisy.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Daniel Alvarado said he was kidnapped by government agents in El Salvador, hung blindfolded from a ceiling, shocked with electrical wires and repeatedly beaten. More than two decades later, a federal jury in Tennessee has held a former Salvadoran Army colonel responsible for the torture.
Nicolas Carranza, 72, failed to stop crimes against humanity when he was a top commander of El Salvador's security forces, the jury found Friday. He was held responsible in civil claims by Alvarado and three others who said they were tortured or that their family members were killed by soldiers under Carranza's command.

... Carranza was ordered to pay $500,000 to each accuser, plus $4 million in punitive damages - $1 million each.
... Carranza was sued under U.S. laws giving federal courts jurisdiction over civil claims of human rights abuses abroad.

On appeal, maybe Carranza can demonstrate that the CIA slipped him some cash, grandfathering him into their torture exemption.

AP still can't get it right


The revelations from Woodward, who shared this information under oath with Fitzgerald on Monday, contradict Fitzgerald's earlier portrayal of Libby as the first government official to leak Plame's identity to reporters.

The Times:

The final effort, Mr. Woodward told the magazine, occurred after Mr. Fitzgerald's Oct. 28 news conference announcing the indictment of Mr. Libby, when the prosecutor said Mr. Libby was the first administration official known to have discussed Ms. Wilson's identity with a reporter when he spoke to Judith Miller, then a reporter for The New York Times, on June 23, 2003.

Not that complicated.


No. 24.

MIAMI (AP) -- Tropical Storm Gamma blew along the coasts of Belize and Honduras on Saturday as it threatened to turn onto a path that could threaten South Florida this coming week.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Guaranteeing it won't happen

Paraphrasing David Sanders' quick take on Iraq during "Arkansas Week":

Ahmad Chalabi was in town this week and said American troops could begin returning home in 2006.

Right. They'll be replaced with guys starting their third tour.

Abramoff's partner charged

Here it comes:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Scanlon, partner of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged Friday with conspiring to defraud Indian tribe clients of millions of dollars in a scheme that lavished golf trips, meals and campaign donations on a member of Congress.
In a one-count criminal information filed by the government, Scanlon was charged with conspiring with another lobbyist, who was identified only as "Lobbyist A." It has been a matter of public record for more than a year that Scanlon and Abramoff had a fee-splitting arrangement and represented several Indian tribes.
Documents filed Friday say that Scanlon and Lobbyist A recruited a member of Congress, identified only as Representative No. 1, with gifts, trips, meals, entertainment and campaign contributions to aid their effort to pass legislation.
Among the people subpoenaed in the Scanlon and Abramoff investigation was Rep. Bob Ney, whose name surfaced almost a year ago in a Senate Indian Affairs Committee as having extensive dealings with the two lobbyists and their tribal clients.
Ney, a Republican House member, has denied any wrongdoing and says he was duped into backing Abramoff's clients and into taking a golf trip paid for by Abramoff.
The filing of a criminal information, rather than an indictment, often means prosecutors have reached a plea agreement with a defendant.

Scanlon was DeLay's chief of staff. Sounds like he's singing.

Who is Woodward's "Mr. X?"

We're guessing it's also Novakula's first source. Downie tells the Times that if another Post reporter ID's him, they'll publish the name. The Journal seems to rule out a bunch of candidates, including Smirk and Snarl and Card and Bartlett and Condi and Rove and Libby and Hadley and Feith and Tenet and McLaughlin and Powell and Bolton and Ford and Grossman -- but not Rummy or Wolfie (he denied it, as did Karen and Ari and Andy to the Times) or Armitage or Wilkerson -- unless someone's lying, which can't be ruled out. We're running out of senior administration officials here. We think we'll find out sooner rather than later.
UPDATE: Or maybe not:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sign he may seek new or revised charges in the CIA leak case, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said on Friday his investigation would be going back before a grand jury.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Miserable failure

Wall Street Journal:

President Bush's positive job rating continues to fall, touching another new low for his presidency, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.
Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.

... At the same time, only a quarter of Americans polled give Democrats a positive rating in the latest poll, compared with 31% in August, while Republicans' approval ratings fell to 27% from 32%.

All here.

For what it's worth

We hate the redesign of CJR Daily, and not just because we hate Helvetica.

Through the looking glass


In Washington you can ordinarily rely on some basic measure of truthfulness and good faith in the conduct of political debate.
But in the last several weeks we have seen a wild departure from that tradition.
And the suggestion that's been made by some US senators that the president of the United States or any member of this administration purposely misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city.

History repeating


WASHINGTON - What's a president to do when his approval ratings have tanked, the special prosecutor is still rooting around under the rocks in his garden, and the same Republican senators who once wrote him a blank check are threatening to put a stop-payment on it?
Well, he can take a page from Dick Nixon's worst days and hit the road to foreign lands.

Our Knight Ridder stock lost 20 percent of its value before we sold it. Still, we hope somebody doesn't ruin its Washington bureau after they buy the company.
Here, they fact-check the Bush administration's counter-attacks on war critics:

ASSERTION: In his speech, Bush noted that "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate - who had access to the same intelligence - voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power."
This isn't true. ...

Good journalism, that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Zarqawi eludes Iraq-wide manhunt

The LATimes reports on how the Jordanian jihadi manages to stay a step ahead of the Americans. Fascinating stuff. Apparently he's so bloodthirsty no one will even think about ratting him out, even for $25 million. Maybe they think the U.S. would stiff them. They must also worry about their families.

White House Briefing

Dan Froomkin wraps up the Washington news in the Post. Today's is really comprehensive.

No gas bill all this winter

Just opened the latest gas bill. The gas company demanded a $120 deposit when we turned on the service last year. Now, it has applied that $120, with interest, as a credit. The bill averages $10-12 a month. We heat a one-bedroom apartment with a DeLonghi Magnum electric radiant heater, so it should be next fall before another gas bill with a payable balance arrives. The electric bill, meanwhile, should jump from about $35 to $105 if it gets really cold. Last winter's highest was $90 and AEP just filed for a 14 percent hike. Not too bad.

Wednesday starters

Gene Lyons and Joe Conason mount the bandwagon of Veterans Day-speech refuters. W's speechwriters don't even bother to make up decent lies anymore. What a sad, pathetic little excuse for a president we're stuck with. Thanks, voters. President Gore would never have wrecked our country and ruined our international reputation like this. He might have bored us, but that sounds pretty good about now.

Mr. Shit, meet Mr. Fan

This should be all over the wall by the time we arise on the morn.

Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed.
In a more than two-hour deposition, Woodward told Special CounselPatrick J. Fitzgerald that the official casually told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive, according to a statement Woodward released yesterday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

So what's the penalty?

Ethics? He's a Republican. They don't do ethics.

WASHINGTON -- The former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting repeatedly violated the organization's contracting rules and code of ethics in his efforts to promote conservatives in the system, according to an internal investigation released today.
The 42-page report — the culmination of a six-month investigation by Kenneth A. Konz, the corporation's inspector general — described former Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson as a rogue politico who overstepped the boundaries of his position to right what he viewed as a liberal tilt in public broadcasting.

All here.

This would really piss W off

If he read newspapers. E.J. Dionne:

The big difference between our current president and his father is that the first President Bush put off the debate over the Persian Gulf War until after the 1990 midterm elections. The result was one of most substantive and honest foreign policy debates Congress has ever seen, and a unified nation. The first President Bush was scrupulous about keeping petty partisanship out of the discussion.
The current President Bush did the opposite. He pressured Congress for a vote before the 2002 election, and the war resolution passed in October.

Dad was a superior president, but so were the other 42.

Israel, Palestinians make deal on Gaza

This is a good thing:

JERUSALEM, Nov. 15 - Israel and the Palestinian Authority clinched a rare agreement and settled a bitter dispute today when they resolved to allow Palestinians to travel in and out of the Gaza Strip with relative freedom.
Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice announced the deal after mediating marathon negotiations that lasted through the night.

Apparently Condi deserves much of the credit for twisting arms to broker it. We commend her.

Bill O'Reilly is deluded

Can we be on his enemies list?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Resolved: To visit McSweeney's more often

Because we miss gems like this, by Paul Kellett: "Hiding the Ball in Presidential Interviews: How the Liberal Media Can Finally Ask the Questions They're Dying to Ask." Excerpt:

In my journalistic pursuits, I have traveled the nation, interviewing Americans in small towns to try to get a feel for the attitudes of the masses toward their elected officials. As you have undoubtedly heard, Mr. President, support for the war in Iraq is waning, not only in big cities but in the heartland as well. I'm reminded of an older gentleman I encountered in the tiny hamlet of Hale, Missouri -- fairly solid Bush country in both 2000 and 2004. He tells me that many of his doubts and fears about the war could be assuaged if you would accept the Hale Town Council's standing invitation for you to come speak at the local high school, laying out the successes in Iraq not reported by the liberal media. So I ask you, President Bush, why don't you just go to Hale?

The other three.

'A gift that keeps on giving'

Juan Cole:

The Fallujah campaign of 2004 is a gift that keeps on giving. At the time, some groups there said they would find a way to take revenge in the American homeland. It is something to worry about for years to come.

He's referring to this. Creating terrorists faster than they can blow themselves and innocent victims up -- that's the Bush administration's strategy for winning. God help us.

Rummy's role model revealed: Josef Stalin

This New York Times op-ed breaks some new ground:

Washington — How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.
The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.
Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.
The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Read it all. They used 9/11 as a justification for barbarism. Our leaders are shameless sociopaths.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Something different

A friend once tried, unsuccessfully, to use "atlatl" during a Scrabble game. Should've had a better dictionary.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- An ancient weapon that struck fear in the hearts of Spanish conquistadors, and that some think was used to slay wooly mammoths in Florida, may soon be added to the arsenal of Pennsylvania's hunters.
The state Game Commission is currently drafting proposed regulations to allow hunters to use the atlatl, a small wooden device used to propel a six-foot dart as fast as 80 mph. The commission could vote to legalize its use as early as January.
It's unclear which animals atlatlists may be allowed to hunt, but the proposal is being pushed by people who want to kill deer with a handmade weapon of Stone Age design. The name, usually pronounced AT-lad-ul, is derived from an Aztec word for "throwing board."

Interesting article.

It's going to be a long three years

The LATimes wonders how they can recover:

WASHINGTON — With President Bush's popularity sagging, the White House is getting plenty of advice from Republicans who want to help pull him out of his slump.
There's only one problem: They often disagree with each other.

Whole thing. Apparently they're counting on one great State of the Union address. Best of luck with that.

John Edwards: 'I was wrong'

You sure were. It should have been clear to senators, of all people, that that authorization resolution guaranteed a war. The weapons inspectors should have been allowed to finish their job. But admitting a mistake is more than some Democrats are willing to do. For that, you deserve credit. And also for having a plan to get us out of this quicksand pit. The neocons will have us there in perpetuity.

Libby was shielding Cheney

This WaPo story suggests that Scooter intentionally perjured himself as part of a cover-up. Why they still feel like they should get a "nobody-did-anything-illegal" comment from GOP apologist Victoria Toensing every time they report on this eludes us, but it's in there. Anyway, Atrios is right. Cheney let his loyal aide walk the plank.

KHBS/KHOG programming

Does it make any sense to sandwich "NBA Inside Stuff" between "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" and "The Chris Matthews Show"? Weird.

Francisco Rico


If it weren't tragic it would be a New Yorker cartoon. The president of the United States, in the final stop of his forlorn Latin America tour last week, told the world, "We do not torture." Even as he spoke, the administration's flagrant embrace of torture was as hard to escape as publicity for Anderson Cooper.
The vice president, not satisfied that the C.I.A. had already been implicated in four detainee deaths, was busy lobbying Congress to give the agency a green light to commit torture in the future. Dana Priest of The Washington Post, having first uncovered secret C.I.A. prisons two years ago, was uncovering new "black sites" in Eastern Europe, where ghost detainees are subjected to unknown interrogation methods redolent of the region's Stalinist past. Before heading south, Mr. Bush had been doing his own bit for torture by threatening to cast the first veto of his presidency if Congress didn't scrap a spending bill amendment, written by John McCain and passed 90 to 9 by the Senate, banning the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners.

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, "We do not torture" -- a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib -- you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment. The answer is not complicated. When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it. And for a long time, Mr. Bush and his cronies did. Not anymore.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Our lying president

Washington Post analysis:

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.
Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

Whole thing. AP-Ipsos poll:

Almost six in 10 now say Bush is not honest, and a similar number say his administration does not have high ethical standards.

Scroll down to 'Slippery slope'

Or click here.

WASHINGTON - For almost eight centuries the "great writ" of habeas corpus has been a bedrock principle of English and American law, from the Magna Carta to today's jails and courts. It's the means for a prisoner to contest his imprisonment before a judge.
That's one reason legal experts were stunned when the Senate, after an hour of debate, voted Thursday to overturn the Supreme Court's extension of habeas corpus protection to 500-plus detainees at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

Opponents vowed Friday to fight the measure, and negotiators on the issue said the Senate may reconsider it early next week. The White House, which previously has opposed oversight of Guantanamo by Congress and the courts, supports the Senate action, spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said Friday.

Whole thing. They do a lot of dumb shit on Capitol Hill, but usually the Senate acts as a buffer against truly unwise blunders. Let's hope cooler heads prevail next week. And shame on five Democrats for voting for this abomination. White House support should be a red flag.

Atrios, we think, first theorized that there are a subgroup of Americans who were so enraged by 9/11 that they went totally batshit mad and have never recovered their senses. That sounds about right. This would be an example.


Right here.

NEW ORLEANS - It may have been the most disturbing story of death that emerged after Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans and its suburbs.
A week after Katrina hit, Knight Ridder and other media outlets reported on Sept. 5 that 22 bodies had been found tied to a single rope near tiny Violet, La., in devastated St. Bernard Parish.

Didn't happen.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lather, rinse, repeat

This is pretty pathetic.
This is mendacious.

Can he really be so stupid?

Sounds like he incriminated himself:

Lawyers for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) tried unsuccessfully in late September to head off felony criminal indictments against the then-majority leader on charges of violating Texas campaign law by signaling that DeLay might plead guilty to a misdemeanor, according to four sources familiar with the events.
The lawyers' principal aim was to try to preserve DeLay's leadership position under House Republican rules that bar lawmakers accused of felonies from holding such posts. ...

The last-minute negotiations between the lawyers and Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle were arranged after DeLay made what Earle considered a seriously damaging admission about his fundraising activities during an Aug. 17 meeting with the prosecutor in Austin.
At that session, DeLay acknowledged that in 2002 he was informed about and expressed his support for transfers of $190,000 in mostly corporate funds from his Texas political action committee to an arm of the Republican National Committee in Washington and then back to Texas, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition that they not be named.

Apparently they hope to convince a jury either that what he did was legal or challenge the validity of the law. He has good lawyers, so who knows. We think his goose is cooked.

Happy Veterans Day

We offer our heartfelt respect and gratitude for your service to and sacrifice for our country.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

At last

Long overdue:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former FEMA chief Michael Brown is no longer on the agency's payroll, the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday, ending nearly two months of compensation after he resigned under fire.

Shitty job, Brownie.
via Think Progress.

Good news from Washington

It's been slim pickin's lately. Nevertheless:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A solid phalanx of Republican moderates drove House GOP leaders to drop a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wilderness area to oil drilling as a sweeping budget bill headed toward a vote Thursday.
A plan to allow states to lift a moratorium on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts was also axed.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress is moving to curb some of the police powers it gave the Bush administration after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including imposing new restrictions on the FBI's access to private phone and financial records.
A budding House-Senate deal on the expiring USA Patriot Act includes new limits on federal law enforcement powers and rejects the Bush administration's request to grant the FBI greater authority to subpoena records without a judge's approval.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The GOP's tax cut agenda hit a snag Thursday when the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, lacking enough Republican votes, postponed debate on $78 billion in tax reductions.

They'll resurrect these after the midterms, of course.
UPDATE: They're imploding:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republican leaders scuttled a vote Thursday on a $51 billion budget-cut package in the face of a revolt by lawmakers over scaling back Medicaid, food stamp and student loan programs.
The development was a major setback for the GOP on Capitol Hill and for President Bush, who has made cuts to benefit programs a central pillar in his budget plan.

Slippery slope


What are we doing creating a prison system into which a prisoner disappears, perhaps for life, with no trial, no conviction, no legal protection, no nothing? And no one will ever know he is in there or his name.
Once we begin doing this to foreigners, how long until we are willing to do it to American citizens? When do we start suspending habeas corpus and all those other protections for individual Americans in the name of some greater need, as determined by political leaders?

Good questions.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Read this

From Chris Nelson.
via Josh.

Via e-mail

New doorbell for Jehovah's Witnesses.

Judith Miller resigns

Bigtime sadist

Georgie Anne Geyer:

The Washington Post titled its devastating editorial "Vice President for Torture." I would say that the deceptive man from sunny Wyoming has become the Marquis de Sade of America. Think about it -- he is insistent upon making torturers of many of our young soldiers -- your children.

Sy Hersh coming to town

Do the Waltons know about this?

Journalist Seymour Hersh, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Magazine Award, will deliver the University of Arkansas' fall distinguished lecture Nov. 28, the Fayetteville campus announced Tuesday.
The lecture, titled "Chain of Command: How We Got from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib," is scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Walton Arts Center.

This will necessitate a night out.

This sends a message

Quit trying to impose your religious beliefs on everyone else.

All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.

Think they'll get it?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Open mouth

Insert foot. Priceless.

'Fallujah -- The Hidden Massacre'

Watch it here. Have tissues and something to barf in handy.

Now they tell us

Times editorial:

After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long.

Thanks for noticing -- six years too late. We're confident the Gore administration would've done better. No acknowledgement of the Times' role in helping install W in the White House by letting Kit Seelye trash the Democratic candidate in its pages throughout the campaign. And still uncorrected is this incorrect headline. We'll link when Somerby weighs in.

Public-access TV

The New York Times reports on federal legislation that "may affect the future of public-access TV." It seems like it's designed to create more competition by allowing phone companies to deliver cable TV. But the bills originated from the GOP, so we're wary. There's some fighting going on locally over the channel here. Our take is that mainly one guy saw something on the channel he didn't like and decided it would be better if he ran it, so he's waging an attempted takeover.

Top spy blabs intel bud


WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 - In an apparent slip, a top American intelligence official has revealed at a public conference what has long been secret: the amount of money the United States spends on its spy agencies.
At an intelligence conference in San Antonio last week, Mary Margaret Graham, a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and now the deputy director of national intelligence for collection, said the annual intelligence budget was $44 billion.

Actually, there's no good reason it should be secret. We're surprised it's not more.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Deconstructing Cheney

James Carroll:

THE INDICTMENT of the vice president's chief of staff for perjury and obstruction of justice is an occasion to consider just how damaging the long public career of Richard Cheney has been to the United States.

Unadulterated evil.

Remember health care reform?

The Clintons were roundly ridiculed for attempting it. We need it more every day. Krugman explains why. Herbert reminds us that we're still in a quagmire: 2,035 and climbing, he says. He's right: AP says 2,047.

War on Terror Follies

We're confused. We don't torture.

President Bush, rebuffing international criticism of a secret U.S. prison system abroad for terrorism suspects, said today he will continue to "aggressively pursue" terrorists and insisted that "any activity we conduct" in that effort is lawful and does not include torture.

So what's this about?

Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.

These guys must have been in protective custody.

Three Yemeni nationals who were arrested in late 2003 say they were transferred to U.S. custody and kept isolated in at least four secret detention facilities that Amnesty International officials believe could be part of a covert CIA prison system.
The three detainees have not said they were physically abused while in U.S. custody, but they describe being whisked away in airplanes to unknown locations where they were interrogated by Americans in civilian clothes, according to an Amnesty International report. At one prison, the detainees were guarded by people in all-black "ninja" suits, who communicated using hand gestures.

In Japan, apparently.
UPDATE: This is a debate that shouldn't even be happening in America. Torture is immoral. Torture doesn't yield reliable intelligence. And until this administration, at least, torture was illegal. Jane Mayer explains how the sadistic bastards have defined torture down to the point where even killing a guy won't get anyone prosecuted. And Fareed Zakaria says the United States won't regain its international reputation as an advocate for human rights until it ends.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Missing Frank Rich's columns

String of lies unravels

Somebody should be held accountable.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 — A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.
The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Whole thing. We long ago determined that we would assume any members of the Bush administration were lying and wait to be proven wrong. We're still waiting.

Shorter Pat Roberts

We won't torture them. We just need to make them think we'll torture them.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


The WaPo homepage.

Afraid they're screwed on this

Even if they repeal it, which probably won't happen.

The highway bill seemed like such a good idea when it sailed through Congress this summer. But now Republicans who assembled the record spending package are suffering buyer's remorse.
The $286 billion legislation was stuffed with 6,000 pet projects for lawmakers' districts, including what critics denounce as a $223 million "Bridge to Nowhere" that would replace a 7-minute ferry ride in a sparsely populated area of Alaska. Usually members of Congress cannot wait to rush home and brag about such bounty -- a staggering number of parking lots, bus depots, bike paths and new interchanges for just about every congressional district in the country that added $24 billion to the overall cost of maintaining the nation's highways and bridges in the coming years.
But with spiraling war and hurricane recovery costs, the pork-laden bill has become a political albatross for Republicans, who have been promising since President Bush took office to get rid of wasteful spending.
... Conservative groups, government watchdogs and ordinary folks around the country are so offended by the size of the legislation -- signed into law by Bush in early August -- that efforts are underway in the House and the Senate to rescind or reallocate a portion of its funds.

Drunk with power, they thought they'd get away with this. Even if they try a do-over, voters will remember, because we'll remind them. But does anyone really think Ted Stevens is going to give up that bridge now that it's passed? Us either.

The Waltons' philanthropy

The Nation explores their charitable giving:

From 1998 through 2003 the [Walton Family Foundation] contributed $25,000 to the Heritage Foundation, $15,000 to the Cato Institute, $125,000 to the Hudson Institute, $155,000 to the Goldwater Institute, $70,000 to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, $300,000 to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, $185,000 to the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy and $350,000 to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

Read all about it. They also support school voucher advocates and, as you might expect, repeal of the estate tax.