spook of the ozarks

unapologetic liberal

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Endless war

The great Robert Fisk:

This was the year the "war on terror" - an obnoxious expression which we all parroted after 11 September 2001 - appeared to be almost as endless as George Bush once claimed it would be. And unsuccessful. For, after all the bombing of Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Taliban, the invasion of Iraq and its appallingly tragic aftermath, can anyone claim today that they feel safer than they did a year ago?
We have gone on smashing away at the human rights we trumpeted at the Russians - and the Arabs - during the Cold War. We have perhaps fatally weakened all those provisions that were written into our treaties and conventions in the aftermath of the Second World War to make the world a safer place. And we claim we are winning.

Let's hope 2006 is a better year.


The LATimes makes us laugh.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Expect an avalanche of this:

The U.S. Family Network, a public advocacy group that operated in the 1990s with close ties to Rep. Tom DeLay and claimed to be a nationwide grass-roots organization, was funded almost entirely by corporations linked to embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to tax records and former associates of the group.
During its five-year existence, the U.S. Family Network raised $2.5 million but kept its donor list secret. The list, obtained by The Washington Post, shows that $1 million of its revenue came in a single 1998 check from a now-defunct London law firm whose former partners will not identify the money's origins.

Levon on "Nightine."


Leslee Wright finally found a good hair stylist. She looks great.

Failing to get it

Paul Eells (without a hint of emotiton):

"That's string music."

After a made free throw. Three things: A) "String music" must be growled enthusiastically, Joe Dean-style, B) it should be a three-pointer and C) Joe Dean must be acknowledged when using his trademark phrase.

Halftime: UA 19, UTPA 12

Rick Schaeffer:

"We haven't seen a game like this since the introduction of the shot clock."

The Razorbacks can really play down to the level of the competition.

Wait till next year

Here. Monday's the federal holiday.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff consulted briefly Friday with a federal judge in Miami as they put the finishing touches on a plea deal that could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The plea agreement would secure the lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients.

Expect the details to leak before then, actually. Happy New Year.

It relents

A couple of weeks ago, we started getting increasing amounts of spam daily. At first it was a few a day -- dick pills, software, porn, counterfeit watches. By yesterday, the volume had grown to about 50 in one day, almost all going into the bulk file. Today? Zero.

Where will it end?

Dana Priest:

The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources.

All here. They're completely out of control. And the GOP Congress can't be expected to exercise any oversight. W will say he's protecting us from "the evil ones." Who's protecting us from him?

Bass ackwards

Who ratted us out?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.

There are consequences for revealing W's criminal activity.

Maybe you missed it

An interesting New York Times op-ed on underreported stories of the year. And because they get up earlier than we do, we'll just lift the Arkansas Times' link to Krugman's year-ender.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

She should sue her parents

And her friends:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- When college freshman Janet Lee packed her bags for a Christmas trip home two years ago, her luggage contained three condoms filled with flour - devices that she and some friends made as a joke.
Philadelphia International Airport screeners found the condoms, and their initial tests showed they contained drugs. The Bryn Mawr College student was arrested on drug trafficking charges and jailed. Three weeks later, she was released after a lab test backed her story,
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.
Lee filed a federal lawsuit last week against city police, seeking damages for pain and suffering, financial loss, and emotional distress. She was arrested on Dec. 21, 2003, and was held on $500,000 bail and faced up to 20 years in prison had she been convicted of the drug charges.

Too bad they couldn't prosecute her for criminal stupidity. Now the entire country knows she's a moron.

Best and worst of 2005

The Arkansas Times' annual list, by Bob Lancaster.

Horror show

Never heard of this actually happening:

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) -- A man trimming trees was killed after he apparently was pulled into a wood chipper, police said.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Who to tour in 2006

Says Pete Townshend. All shows to be Webcast, he hopes.

Bum wrap

From the Beeb:

Researchers at a Scottish university are aiming to answer the question - does my bum look big in this?
Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design has launched what is believed to be the world's first study on how clothing affects the bum.
Four female models with various sized bottoms will wear different types of clothing as part of the research.
The study will examine how designs, colours, patterns and fabric types affect perception.

Includes gratuitous J-Lo photo.

Party poop


Washington County’s ongoing burn ban will also mean a ban on First Night fireworks.

We're -15" on rain for 2005.

Iraq civil war preview

Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder reports that the Iraqi army units in the north are mostly Peshmerga, loyal to Kurdistan. They, and their Arab counterparts, foresee a civil war for autonomy. With a sidebar on the history of Kurd-Arab animosity. Not exactly the outcome the neocons expected from their excellent adventure to remake the Middle East. And now they have to figure out how this was all Clinton's fault.

It's Wednesday

Gene Lyons:

What we’re witnessing is the mainstreaming of paranoid persecution fantasies that used to be the provenance of fringe outfits like the John Birch Society and the Klan.

(No Conason today.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

W gives FISA court the finger

Seattle P-I:

WASHINGTON -- Government records show that the administration was encountering unprecedented second-guessing by the secret federal surveillance court when President Bush decided to bypass the panel and order surveillance of U.S.-based terror suspects without the court's approval.
A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.
The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.
"They wanted to expand the number of people they were eavesdropping on, and they didn't think they could get the warrants they needed from the court to monitor those people," said Bamford, author of "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency" and "The Puzzle Palace: Inside America's Most Secret Intelligence Organization." "The FISA court has shown its displeasure by tinkering with these applications by the Bush administration."

All here. Reuters has essentially the same story sans Bamford. So when the court wouldn't rubber-stamp requests for wholesale eavesdropping, the White House just said, "Fuck you, we won't bother to ask from now on." They intentionally violated the law, and arrogantly proclaim that they'll continue doing so. There are no constraints on these crooks.
Hat tip to mikevotes.

Wolcott reads warbloggers

They live in a fantasy world where the people they hate chop the heads off the other people they hate for them. We pity these people. What a miserable existence.


The auditors have announced the winners, and none of our candidates won -- except O'Reilly, in a landslide.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Jenny Craig

Every time that new commercial with the song "It's Raining Men" comes on, it reminds us of 9/11.

The road not taken -- until now

James Carroll:

AMERICAN INTELLIGENCE was proving itself inadequate to the challenge. The president appointed a special commission to make recommendations. The year was 1954. The commission chairman was James Doolittle, the retired bomber general who had led the first air raid against Tokyo.
''It is now clear," he stated in his report to President Eisenhower, ''that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and whatever cost. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the United States is to survive, longstanding concepts of 'fair play' must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counter-espionage services, and must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us. It may be necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand, and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy."
Sound familiar?

Read it all.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

WaPo Xmas quiz

Here. Sample:

Q: True or false: The abbreviation Xmas is irreligious.
A: False. This was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation, derived from the Greek letter "chi," the first letter in the word Christ, used in tables and charts in the early days of printing.


Bamford on NSA

The author of two books on the spy agency weighs in on its history and the ramifications of the illegal eavesdropping in The New York Times Week in Review.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

'McLaughlin Group'

Last night they did one of two year-enders. In the category Best Comeback, Pat Buchanan named Ahmed Chalabi, who went from suspected Iranian spy to being welcomed at the White House, and Larry O'Donnell agreed. We wondered when they taped it, because:

The politician and onetime administration and U.S. newspaper source, Ahmed Chalabi, "appears to have suffered a humiliating defeat at the recent Iraq polls," NBC News reports today, according to the uncertified preliminary results. It said that preliminary results in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad indicate that Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress scored a minuscule 0.36 percent of the votes. In the Shiite city of Basra, the results indicate Chalabi, the current deputy prime minister who some neocons thought might soon head the country, had an equally dismal showing of 0.34 percent of the vote. In the Sunni province of Anbar, 113 people voted for him.

If Chalabi's as shrewd as reputed, he'll leave Iraq before the new government stuffs him back in the trunk of a car and extradites his ass to Jordan to serve his bank fraud sentence.

Don't blog everything you hear

It was a hoax:

NEW BEDFORD -- The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

We were skeptical. via DailyKos.



The attorney general should be immune from lawsuits for ordering wiretaps of Americans without permission from a court, Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote in a memorandum in 1984 as a government lawyer in the Reagan administration.

This may be why they nominated him.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.
The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.
As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.

You have no privacy.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Challenge (partly) accepted

Since Greyhair asked. We think this is what bloggers call a meme:

Seven things to do before we die:
1) Take out the trash.
2) Get a job.
3) Get car repaired (blown fuse).
4) Get a new driver's license.
5) Renew car tags.
6) Buy that land.
7) Build that house.

Seven things we can't (or won't) do:
1) Play any musical instrument.
2) Quit smoking.
3) Quit drinking.
4) Speak Arabic.
5) Clean house.
6) Climb a pole.
7) Outrun a cop.

Seven things that attract us to blogging:
1) It's free.
2) We're news junkies anyway, therefore:
3) We spend lots o' time surfing the Web.
4) We're angry.
5) It's (sort of) anonymous.
6) We like to ridicule people.
7) Everybody else is doing it.

Seven things we say most often:
1) Hey.
2) What's happening.
3) Go Hogs.
4) Two cartons of Marlboro reds in the box, please.
5) One more St. Pauli Girl, please.
6) Thank you.
7) Tab, please.

Seven books we love:
1) The AP Stylebook.
2) Webster's New World Dictionary.
3) Bartlett's.
4) Elements of Style.
5) "The Exorcist."
6) "The Metamorphosis."
7) "David and the Phoenix."

Seven movies we watch over and over:
The word is repeatedly, and our attention span is too short to watch movies.

Seven people we want to join in too:
Everyone who reads this blog.

Townes Van Zandt

Even when you're bored with everything political, if you look around long enough, you can find something blogworthy. And so we found, in Editor & Publisher of all places, that there is a new documentary about Townes, titled "Be Here to Love Me." DVD due in March. Greg Mitchell tells about how it got made. NYTimes review.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

'Deal or No Deal'

The best thing about this dumb show is when the babes come marching over the riser with the briefcases. We initially thought it could've been better with a less-annoying host, but we're starting to think Howie Mandel may have found his calling. And still, it's fun to watch, and looks like it would be fun to play. Alas, we get the impression that you have to get all theatrical to be a contestant. We'd demand a recliner.
Re: Miss Wilkerson, we had a crone for our first-grade teacher. Had we been in Miss Wilkerson's class, we would undoubtedly have been sucked, as through a wormhole, into premature puberty.


He always "turn[s] the gun on himself." (Correct us if there's any evidence that women do this shit.)

No lunch for you

If you work for Wal-Mart:

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A California jury on Thursday awarded $172 million to thousands of employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. who claimed they were illegally denied lunch breaks.
The world's largest retailer was ordered to pay $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages to about 116,000 current and former California employees for violating a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours.

What happened to terror alerts?

Josh, responding to a reader's question, notices there hasn't been one since Election Day 2004. We'll hazard that they'll resume if Congress gets too uppity next year about warrantless eavesdropping.

BBC Magazine's Quiz of the year

It said 52 days 52 questions. It was in four parts. Each part had 12 questions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shoulda nominated Luttig to SCOTUS

He blisters 'em:

A U.S. appeals court, acting in the case of alleged "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, today rejected the administration's move to avoid another Supreme Court review of its powers of detention, blasting the government in unusually blunt terms for its behavior in the case which, it said, may have significantly damaged "its credibility before the courts."
The decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond stems from the administration's actions last month just as the Supreme Court was set to consider whether to review the Padilla case.
At that time, after holding him without charges for three-and-a-half years, it indicted Padilla on criminal charges and asked the 4th Circuit to have him moved from a military prison to a civilian prison, thus mooting the issues the Supreme Court might have reviewed on the question of detention without formal charge. On top of that, the government asked the appeals court to withdraw the opinion it issued that might have been considered by the justices, even though that opinion upheld the administration's position on detention.
Today, the panel rejected both requests in an opinion written by J. Michael Luttig, a conservative often mentioned on the administration's short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maybe the courts are deciding that rubber-stamping anything these megalomaniacs want to do isn't such a good idea. We've been skeptical about how good a case the feds have against Padilla since Ashcroft held that news conference in Russia to announce his arrest. We don't doubt that he had bad intentions. But to imprison a U.S. citizen for three-plus years, they ought to be required to produce some proof. Apparently they can't even trump some up.

Shorter Gene Lyons, Joe Conason

Lips loosening

Looking forward to 2006:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist under criminal investigation, has been discussing with prosecutors a deal that would grant him a reduced sentence in exchange for testimony against former political and business associates, people with detailed knowledge of the case say.
Mr. Abramoff is believed to have extensive knowledge of what prosecutors suspect is a wider pattern of corruption among lawmakers and Congressional staff members. One participant in the case who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations described him as a "unique resource."
Other people involved in the case or who have been officially briefed on it said the talks had reached a tense phase, with each side mindful of the date Jan. 9, when Mr. Abramoff is scheduled to stand trial in Miami in a separate prosecution.

He'll probably need the Witness Protection Program. One guy's already dead in this mess.

They're listening to everything


WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 - A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

These guys are a bottomless void.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The difference between a federal judge and God

God doesn't think he's a federal judge. This one doesn't think W's God.

A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson, one of 11 members of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, sent a letter to Chief Justice John D. Roberts Jr. late Monday notifying him of his resignation without providing an explanation.

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

"Legally questionable" is a euphemism for illegal.


Can't say we've ever read Obsidian Wings, although we've heard of it. Too bad, if this is representative. Instant every day.

Lifestyles of the corrupt and infamous

Must have been nice:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fund-raising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants - all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.
Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.
Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.
Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress.

It's gonna be tough to adjust to life in a Texas prison.


The NYTimes had the NSA spying story before the election, the LATimes reports. Thanks for holding it, guys.

Intelligent decision


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -- "Intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.
Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives, he said.

... Said the judge: "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

See Commandment No. nine.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Recovered memories

Leno was cracking wise about Pam Anderson's pole dance being cut from Elton's special the other night, and it reminded us of when, in 1978, Cher hostessed a TV special with guests Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart and The Tubes. And Fee Waybill sang "Mondo Bondage" while Cher did a pole dance dressed in black leather (or maybe latex) -- prime time. Bozo probably had an aneurysm.


Jon Alter:

[B]ush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law.

Robert Parry dismantles the speech

Fact-checking Bush's TV speech

Doyle McManus of the LATimes finds him selectively quoting from a poll.

Vinnie "The Chin" dies

What a character:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mob boss Vincent "The Chin" Gigante, the powerful Mafioso who avoided jail for decades by wandering the streets in a ratty bathrobe and slippers, feigning mental illness, died Monday in prison. He was 77.
The head of the Genovese crime family, who had suffered from heart disease, died at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., said prison spokesman Al Quintero.

Dunno about that "Vincent" part. "The Chin" reportedly didn't have anything to do with his face; it was short for Vinchenzo.
CORRECTION: Make that Vicente.

It's a good thing we don't torture

Because it means that the people in this New York Times story have clearly made up remarkably similar tales of their imprisonment in Afghanistan.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lie detector

Pegged out.

Navidad en Cuba


How did it come to this? The Post gives us an overview of a White House run amok. And the Times sat on the story about the NSA spying on Americans for a year. The only hope for our country is to throw the GOP out, starting with the 2006 midterms. It's the only way we'll ever get any congressional oversight, to hold anyone accountable for these crimes. This administration is a national disgrace.

Levon Helm

At his studios near Woodstock, N.Y., Levon hosts Midnight Rambles every couple of weeks where he and friends perform for about 90 invited guests. Read about it in The New York Times. Much more -- including links to request an invite -- at levonhelm.com.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Poor Condi

She gets to defend the indefensible:

(AP) MEET THE PRESS: Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Rice.
FACE THE NATION: Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and AOL co-founder Steve Case.
THIS WEEK: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), comedian Albert Brooks and Maj. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq war veteran who is running for Congress.

Levin, Biden and Reid will demand an independent and/or bi-partisan investigation, Graham and McCain will feign wanting to know more, Condi will tell some transparent lies, Brooks will tell some jokes and Duckworth will get elected. Steve Case: Five percent for $1 billion?

Birth of a talking point

The Sunday morning spinfests should be especially lively this week. We've been sleeping in through "Press the Meat" lately, but not tomorrow. Expect to hear this on every one:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Republican senator on Saturday accused The New York Times of endangering American security to sell a book by waiting until the day of the terror-fighting Patriot Act reauthorization to report that the government has eavesdropped on people without court-approved warrants.
"At least two senators that I heard with my own ears cited this as a reason why they decided to vote to not allow a bipartisan majority to reauthorize the Patriot Act," said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. "Well, as it turns out the author of this article turned in a book three months ago and the paper, The New York Times, failed to reveal that the urgent story was tied to a book release and its sale by its author."

It'll be fun to hear the rule-of-law gang try to defend the White House's illegal activity.

It's your patriotic duty

Voting will be open until Xmas, but to avoid long lines, we urge you to cast yours soon in The Kippies awards.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Just trust him

It's for our own good:

"We do not discuss ongoing intelligence operations to protect the country, and the reason why is that there's an enemy that lurks, that would like to know exactly what we're trying to do to stop them," Bush said.
"I will make this point. That whatever I do to protect the American people, and I have an obligation to do so, that we will uphold the law, and decisions made are made understanding we have an obligation to protect the civil liberties of the American people."

Feel safer?

70 percent

Iraqis seem to have a greater appreciation of democracy than citizens of a superpower.

Breaking news

Walter's Web site still has, one week later, a banner headline announcing, "Malzhan is new Razorback Football Offensive Coordinator." This is hardly breaking news. And they couldn't even bother to spell his name right in large display type.
ALSO: The Benton County Daily Record apparently has Yoda writing headlines.

What took so long?

Via Dr. Alterman, we see CNN has formally canned Novakula.
UPDATE: As commenters at Think Progress predicted, he's going to Fox.

W and the McCain amendment

The NYTimes editorial board explains why we're not reassured.

Too Orwellian for comfort

Ever call or e-mail internationally?

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

We have friends and relatives outside the United States. And a substantial quantity of spam that originates overseas arrives in our e-mail daily -- not that it ever gets opened. And of course we have nothing to hide, but if the feds want to monitor our calls and e-mail they should demonstrate a need and get a warrant. Congress, perform some freaking oversight.
UPDATE: Look! Purple fingers!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Not surprising

This supposedly happened before we caught their barber:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi security forces caught the most wanted man in the country last year, but released him because they didn't know who he was, the Iraqi deputy minister of interior said Thursday.
Hussain Kamal confirmed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- the al Qaeda in Iraq leader who has a $25 million bounty on his head -- was in custody at some point last year, but he wouldn't provide further details.

Cute Overload

Knight Ridder -- sufficiently skeptical


WASHINGTON - President Bush and top administration officials have access to a much broader ranger of intelligence reports than members of Congress do, a nonpartisan congressional research agency said in a report Thursday, raising questions about recent assertions by the president.
Bush has said that Democratic lawmakers who authorized the use of force against Iraq and now criticize the war saw the same pre-invasion intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that he did.

... The Congressional Research Service, by contrast, said: "The president, and a small number of presidentially designated Cabinet-level officials, including the vice president ... have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods."
Unlike members of Congress, the president and his top officials also have the authority to ask U.S. intelligence agencies more extensively for follow-up information, the report said. "As a result, the president and his most senior advisers arguably are better positioned to assess the quality of the ... intelligence more accurately than is Congress."
The CRS report identified nine key U.S. intelligence "products" that aren't generally shared with Congress. These include the President's Daily Brief, a compilation of analyses that's given only to the president and a handful of top aides, and a daily digest on terrorism-related matters.

Guilty plea from Abramoff co-swindler

Another one bites the dust:

MIAMI (AP) -- A former business partner of Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud and conspiracy in the ill-fated 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats.
Adam Kidan's plea bargain is likely to require that he cooperate in the case against Abramoff involving the SunCruz Casinos deal and perhaps even testify against his old partner.
Kidan pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud; two other felony counts were dropped. He could get up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing March 1.

Perhaps he can shed some light on this:

Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity run by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff now at the center of an influence-peddling investigation on Capitol Hill, told the IRS it gave away more than $330,000 in grants in 2002 to four other charities that say they never received the money.
The largest grant the foundation listed in its 2002 tax filing was for $300,000 to P'TACH of New York, a nonprofit that helps Jewish children with learning disabilities.

"We've never received a $300,000 gift, not in our 28 years," a surprised Rabbi Burton Jaffa, P'TACH's national director, told the Austin American-Statesman. "It would have been gone by now. I guess I would have been able to pay some teachers on time."
Federal investigators have not contacted P'TACH about the grant, Jaffa said. Representatives of three other nonprofits that supposedly received Capital Athletic money also said they have not been contacted.

The story strongly implies that about $200,000 of it may have gone to another "charity" created by Tom DeLay. Income tax evasion was what finally caught up with Al Capone.


This Joseph Raymond Loegering person is clearly one disturbed mofo:

NEW YORK (AP) -- CNN talk show host Nancy Grace has obtained a court order that directs a mental patient she accused of stalking her to leave her alone.
The man is "apparently obsessed with Ms. Grace, believes that he loves her, insists that she can solve all of his problems and will help him to meet with Osama bin Laden," Grace's court papers say.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blood in the water

John Harris, WaPo political editor, certainly deserves a lot of the opprobrium he's catching about now. But we sniff a Rather/Mapes scent, and it wrinkles our nose.

Wednesday standards

Gene Lyons explains why they're wrong to the six in ten Moron-Americans who have watched so many episodes of "24" they believe torture is acceptable. Joe Conason explains how the phony "War on Christmas" is really about separating rubes from their money, distracting them from the real war in Iraq and corruption in Washington, and yes, anti-Semitism.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Progress Report

A couple of weeks ago ours stopped arriving via e-mail, except yesterday, when it was accompanied by a solicitation.

Just to clear up any confusion

In light of the Froomkin/Post controversy we feel obliged to disclose that the spook is neither an undercover government spy nor the spirit of a dead person.

1,000 days

Today is the 1,000th day since the cakewalk began. Patrick Cockburn of The Independent looks back. By the numbers.

Tangled web

Go, Ronnie, go:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records and other information of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
District Attorney Ronnie Earle issued subpoenas late Monday afternoon for California businessmen Brent Wilkes and Max Gelwix, records of Perfect Wave Technologies LLC, Wilkes Corp. and ADCS Inc. in connection with a contribution to a fund-raising committee at the center of the investigation that led to DeLay's indictment on money-laundering charges.
Perfect Wave contributed $15,000 in September 20, 2002, to Texans for a Republican Majority, a fund-raising committee founded by DeLay, R-Texas.
Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham resigned in late November after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to companies.

This doesn't actually appear to be related to the Abramoff inquiry, except falling under the heading of general corruption.

$100 laptop introduced

It's got built-in Wi-Fi and hand-cranked power. Unfortunately, the minimum order is a half-million.


For the past couple of weeks we've been receiving about 50 e-mail messages daily offering porn, dick pills, software, slot machines etc. (Only one evaded the spam filter.) But that's OK, because we just learned that we've won 800,000 euros in the Netherlands National Lottery. (For some reason, this message originated in Italy.)

Monday, December 12, 2005


A Connecticut dentist has discovered why narwhals have those filthy-great tusks. Find out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bush in the bubble

The callow fratboy already hates Newsweek. This is unlikely to change that.

We link to Hullabaloo too infrequently


I resent the hell out of these wingnut bastards turning Christmas into a political football. Is nothing sacred to these people?

Uh, no, Digby. Armando, about Digby's post on Richard Pryor:

I saw what Digby describes in her post - this ability to deal with racial topics in a way that folks of all races understood without pulling any punches.

Her? Are we the only ones who didn't know this? Anyhow, we find this War on Christmas campaign totally incomprehensible. Here's an idea: Let's require that at least one television network must be broadcasting secular programming at any given time. It seems like there's nothing but Christmas programming on every channel. (We'll get cable or satellite if they ever make it a la carte; we refuse to patronize Murdoch.)

Wikipedia fabricator ID'd

The guy lost his job and apologized. He had inserted into the entry on John Siegenthaler Sr., a former Kennedy associate, an assertion that Siegenthaler was involved in the assassinations. Siegenthaler wrote an op-ed in USA Today about how he had had difficulty getting it corrected and had been unable to find out who defamed him. A Wikipedia critic tracked the offender down, The New York Times reports.

Xmas in hell

Count us out:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, "Dr. Phil" McGraw and American Idol Carrie Underwood were among the VIPs helping to raise money with a Christmas pageant benefiting the National Children's Medical Center.

Torture Sunday

The Observer:

An Ethiopian student who lived in London claims that he was brutally tortured with the involvement of British and US intelligence agencies.
Binyam Mohammed, 27, says he spent nearly three years in the CIA's network of 'black sites'. In Morocco he claims he underwent the strappado torture of being hung for hours from his wrists, and scalpel cuts to his chest and penis and that a CIA officer was a regular interrogator.
After his capture in Pakistan, Mohammed says British officials warned him that he would be sent to a country where torture was used. Moroccans also asked him detailed questions about his seven years in London, which his lawyers believe came from British sources.
Western agencies believed that he was part of a plot to buy uranium in Asia, bring it to the US and build a 'dirty bomb' in league with Jose Padilla, a US citizen. Mohammed signed a confession but told his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, he had never met Padilla, or anyone in al-Qaeda.

Naomi Klein:

It was the "Mission Accomplished" of George W. Bush's second term, and an announcement of that magnitude called for a suitably dramatic location. But what was the right backdrop for the infamous "We do not torture" declaration? With characteristic audacity, the Bush team settled on downtown Panama City.
It was certainly bold. An hour and a half's drive from where Bush stood, the US military ran the notorious School of the Americas from 1946 to 1984, a sinister educational institution that, if it had a motto, might have been "We do torture."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

RIP Eugene McCarthy, too

We were too young to vote:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign toppled a sitting president in 1968 and forced the Democratic Party to take seriously his message against the Vietnam War, died Saturday. He was 89. McCarthy died in his sleep at an assisted living home in the Georgetown neighborhood where he had lived for the past few years, said his son, Michael.

RIP Richard Pryor

One of a kind:

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, died Saturday. He was 65. Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. of a heart attack after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Friday, December 09, 2005

No Krugman on truthout

Looks like the Times must have put the kibosh on truthout posting TimesSelect pieces. The Modo column that was there a few days ago is gone now. You can probably find them posted on some obscure blog, like this one, but not here.

Malzahn to UA

We're finally getting an offensive coordinator. Morning News:

SPRINGDALE -- Gus Malzahn met with Springdale players Friday morning to tell them that he is leaving the school after five seasons to become the new offensive coordinator at the University of Arkansas.

No word on Mustain.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A friend of ours, on hearing about the slaying: "Why did it have to be John? Why couldn't it have been Paul?"

Burning down the House

South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

New York businessman Adam Kidan is expected to plead guilty next week to federal conspiracy and wire fraud charges in connection with the purchase of the SunCruz gambling fleet from entrepreneur Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, according to sources close to the case.
If the deal goes through, Kidan, who was looking at up to 30 years in prison, could now face a maximum of 10 years. That sentence could be reduced depending upon the extent of his cooperation as a witness, not only against his co-defendant -- embattled super lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- but also in the prosecution of three men charged in the Feb. 6, 2001, slaying of Boulis, the sources said.

Abramoff should be advised to start singing before next week.

Sidney Blumenthal calls Condi a liar

He parses her "we don't torture so back off" speech she made before embarking on her latest European trip and concludes:

Rice's legal interpretations were authoritative, bland and bogus. It is hard to say whether they should be called Orwellian for their intentional falsity or Kafkaesque for their unintentional absurdity.

Link to Salon; not found at Guardian, where it could have been paired with this:

Evidence that may have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in British courts, the House of Lords ruled today.

As if our torture victims will ever see the inside of a courtroom.

Our will be done

Word has arrived that our caustic complaint about the capital of Saskatchewan has been addressed. Thank you. Although the day we wrote that post, Nov. 25, Mr. Salser mispronounced it. The e-mail was maybe two years ago.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mission accomplished

More Iraqi readiness:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon has tentative plans to halt the scheduled deployment of two brigades to Iraq and instead send smaller teams to support and train Iraqi forces in what could be an early step toward an eventual drawdown of U.S. forces, defense officials said Wednesday.

Wank of the Year

The Editors have posted the nominees. They're all worthy.


Big Time:

"Some have suggested by liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein we simply stirred up a hornet's nest. They overlook a fundamental fact: We were not in Iraq in September 2001 and the terrorists hit us anyway."

W uses this line, too. And it's true. But so what? The reasons they hit us in 2001 are myriad, but primary among them were our troops' presence in Saudi Arabia -- where they're not anymore -- and our support for its corrupt rulers and for Israel -- which continues. And now they just have another reason to hate us: the invasion, conquest, occupation and subjugation of a Muslim country to steal its oil. But the main reason they hated us enough in 2001 to hit us was because most of us didn't even know they hated us. And most of us know now that they hate us, but haven't made any effort to learn why. So they'll keep trying to hit us again.



Luckily, the same incompetence that plagues the war effort also guarantees that this government’s “secret” propaganda will ultimately be as conspicuous as a bad toupee.

(Gene Lyons' column today is about hunting in New Jersey, and we're unsure what the point was, but it's here. Better was the Salon piece about his wife.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jurors acquit terror suspect

The feds will probably just deport him:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- In a stinging defeat for prosecutors, a former Florida professor accused of helping lead a terrorist group that has carried out suicide bombings against Israel was acquitted on nearly half the charges against him Tuesday, and the jury deadlocked on the rest.
The case against Sami Al-Arian, 47, had been seen as one of the biggest courtroom tests yet of the Patriot Act's expanded search-and-surveillance powers.

Wonder if they'll have any better luck with Arwah Jaber.
UPDATE: Eric Boehlert notes that the networks' evening news shows, despite having reported prominently Al-Arian's arrest, disgracefully ignored his acquittal.

Is Rummy insane?

Of course. Stephen Pizzo makes the case.
via Atrios.

Chickens roosting

This rendition scandal is escalating, despite Condi's efforts. The ACLU has sued the CIA on behalf of Khaled al-Masri, the German guy the agency erroneously abducted and shipped to Afghanistan. And the Italians want some answers about Abu Omar, the Egyptian refugee they were investigating when the CIA bagged him and sent him back to Egypt. And our allies are more averse to torture than our leaders.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ramsey Clark

Our initial reaction was, "WTF?" But the guiltier you are, the more you need a good lawyer. So good on Clark for representing one of the guiltiest guys around. We hear Pinochet and Mugabe are lawyer shopping. Speaking of Mugabe, aren't we terrified by brutal dictators with nuclear ambitions? Invading, conquering and occupying Zimbabwe would be a cakewalk.

Hammer time

Bad news, good news:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A judge dismissed the conspiracy charges Monday against Rep. Tom DeLay but refused to throw out the money-laundering counts, dashing the Texas congressman's hopes for now of reclaiming his post as House majority leader.

Conspiracies are tough to prove.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Speaking of the CIA

Their Iraqi pal's unpopular:

NAJAF, Iraq, Dec. 4 -- An angry crowd attacked a convoy carrying former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi in the Shiite holy city of Najaf Sunday, pelting it with shoes, bricks and rocks as gunfire echoed in the area, according to Allawi aides and witnesses at the scene.

This reminds us of our arrival in Czechoslovakia about fifteen years ago on a pilgrimage to Pilsen, the birthplace of good beer. The lead story in The Prague Post was headlined, "Havel egged in Bratislava," and it wasn't long before the Czechs showed the Slovaks the door.

'Erroneous renditions'

Dana Priest in the Post:

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.
One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

Whole thing. This practice should be curtailed. We can't have the CIA abducting innocent people and bundling them off to be tortured until they rat out some other innocent victim. It's counterproductive, regardless of whether the spies think it's "fun." And one of the victims, Khaled Masri, the German the CIA erroneously bagged in Macedonia and shipped to Afghanistan before learning they had the wrong guy, is about to sue our ass in federal court this week. He's likely to become a rich man pretty soon, because the feds won't want a trial to occur.

The Godless NYTimes

These secular progressives are bucking for inclusion on O'Reilly's enemies list with this history lesson on the commercialization of Xmas.

Rich on Woodward

How Woody's access blinded him to the mendacity, with props to Knight Ridder.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Is there anything they won't lie about? The Times:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 - There could be no doubt about the theme of President Bush's Iraq war strategy speech on Wednesday at the Naval Academy. He used the word victory 15 times in the address; "Plan for Victory" signs crowded the podium he spoke on; and the word heavily peppered the accompanying 35-page National Security Council document titled, "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."
Although White House officials said many federal departments had contributed to the document, its relentless focus on the theme of victory strongly reflected a new voice in the administration: Peter D. Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who joined the N.S.C. staff as a special adviser in June and has closely studied public opinion on the war.
Despite the president's oft-stated aversion to polls, Dr. Feaver was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented the administration with an analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believed it would ultimately succeed.

That was a rhetorical question.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Atrios crashes our browser

Sometimes, usually when Lisa de Moraes' TV column in the Post jumps, the SBC Yahoo! browser loses the ability to display photos. And when attempting to open new windows the problem persists. Today Eschaton's Paypal button apears to be the culprit. Restarting Windows isn't helping. Too bad. We usually visit Atrios several times a day.

The WaPo contributions

There seems to be a theme here -- as usual, but especially today: GOP corruption. From the Post:

That Texas redistricting that helped the Republicans pick up five House seats probably violated the Voting Rights Act.

An increasingly rare good Kinsley column.

GOP corruption overview

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn rounds it up: It's the money.

NYTimes, scandal sheet

Lots of good stuff today from the paper of record:

Abramoff prosecutors examining K Street Project, where congressional aides and wives got lucrative lobbying/consulting jobs, possibly in exchange for favors on Hill.

Fitzgerald trying to determine whether Time reporter Viveca Novak's conversation with Rove lawyer prompted Rove to "remember" outing Plame to Matt Cooper.

Human Rights Watch issues list of detainees we disappeared.

Senate wants Pentagon to explain propaganda campaign planting stories in Iraqi media.

And, via truthout, a shrill exposure of a couple of the lies in the so-called "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." Speaking of which:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A roadside bomb in Fallujah killed 10 U.S. Marines and wounded 11 others, the U.S. military said Friday, in the deadliest single attack against American forces in Iraq in nearly four months.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

They're back

Never mind:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- What a short, strange trip it was. After the Grateful Dead angered some of its biggest fans by asking a nonprofit Web site to halt the free downloading of its concert recordings, the psychedelic jam band changed its mind Wednesday.
Internet Archive, a site that catalogues content on Web sites, reposted recordings of Grateful Dead concerts for download after the surviving members of the band decided to make them available again.