Saturday, April 03, 2004

What's a sock puppet without a hand? 

So, aWol and Dick "Dick" Cheney are going to "visit" with the 9/11 Commission together. Touching.

The arrangement confirms Bush’s inability to articulate anything without a script--or a tutor by his side. There’s a reason lawyers don’t take testimony in groups. The whole idea is to get individual recollections and then compare stories to uncover contradictions. Try thinking about it this way: can anyone imagine Bush’s father in a similar situation bringing his vice president? (For those who need a refresher course, the elder Bush was a rocket scientist compared to his son, and the vice president was Dan Quayle.)
Even President Reagan testified alone on the Iran-contra scandal. He didn’t insist on having Vice President Bush sit beside him.
(via TBogg from Eleanor Clift here)

Heh. A Republican strategist calls the letter of agreement on this goofy arrangement "the Wizard of Oz" letter—Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

Speak for yourself, George! Or can't you?

UPDATE From alert reader MJS:

GEORGE: Take your hand out of my ass.

DICK: What, and give up Show Biz?

[Applause. Laughter.]

Hey, is there any reason to believe the Fallujah mercs were really delivering food? 

I know that's how the story reads, but is there any evidence it's true?

UPDATE Apparently not. See Body and Soul.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC Nobody deserves to die, and the mercs didn't deserve what happened to them.

Bring back marital capture! It's in the Bible! 

Allen at The Right Christians quotes a nice take on Bible authority and gay marriage:

Many are now lifting up the Bible to prove that God does not want loving people of the same sex to enjoy the privileges of marriage, though an argument might be mounted on biblical grounds that marriage is a spiritual union of two people who are dedicated each to the other. Or not.

Perhaps we can mount a crusade in favor of marriage by capture, a form popular for centuries in the ancient biblical world, or the habit of powerful biblical characters to have a house full of both wives and concubines.

Or should we pursue marriage by purchase? Neither Rachel or Leah seemed to appreciate it, charging their father with selling them.

A form of marriage very popular among some groups then and now is the patriarchal, where the wife is subservient to the husband. In the most extreme forms, the wife becomes chattel property of the husband. Even in the Ten Commandments the wife is listed along with the house, slaves, donkeys, oxen, or anything else owned by the husband.
(via The Right Christians)


Jobs report: 300,000 down, 2,700,000 to go 

Remember, Bush promised us 300,000 jobs a month a year ago, and he's lost 3,000,000 since being in office. And a lot of the 300,000 is California grocery workers coming back from their strike.

(Perspective from Oliver WIllis.)

FTF [draft] 

Vulgar. "Fuck the Fundamentalists."

Usage example: "My tax dollars are paying for a book in the Grand Canyon gift shop that claims the earth is 6000 years old. FTF."

See also "Campaign Against Fundamentalism," here

Republican donors giving to Nader 

I wonder why?

In February, the first month of the Nader campaign, it received generous donations from 11 people who had previously given money to Mr. Bush or to the Republican Party.
(via The Times)

Being Republicans, they've all got a plausible deniability thing going for them, but... Come on.


Productivity is how much work for how much money. And the employers have been stealing the money! 

No wonder the productivity numbers are high!

Experts on compensation say that the illegal doctoring of hourly employees' time records is far more prevalent than most Americans believe. The practice, commonly called shaving time, is easily done and hard to detect — a simple matter of computer keystrokes — and has spurred a growing number of lawsuits and settlements against a wide range of businesses.

Another reason managers shave time, experts say, is that an increasing part of their compensation comes in bonuses based on minimizing costs or maximizing profits.

"The pressures are just unbelievable to control costs and improve productivity," said George Milkovich, a longtime Cornell University professor of industrial relations and co-author of the leading textbook on compensation. "All this manipulation of payroll may be the unintended consequence of increasing the emphasis on bonuses."

In the punch-card era, managers would have had to conspire with payroll clerks or accountants to manipulate records. But now it is far easier for individual managers to accomplish this secretly with computers, payroll experts say.
(via Times)

Why? Like so much else in Bush's America: As the punchline to the old joke goes, "Because they can!" Sounds like the old punch cards protected us just like mechanical voting machines did. When computers came in, everything got easier to fake.

Because Bush guts our protections, those who can steal from us, do. Yech.

Flashmob supercomputers 

AP here.

Wonder what a supercomputing flashmob could do at the RNC ... Probably simulate the whole thing, since it's going to be very predictable anyhow.

Or provide a central nexus for hundreds of bloggers doing "live play by play" and cell phone sending live pictures...

Surely more interesting than breaking windows and giant puppets? Just a thought....

You'll never win the NASCAR dads without Merle Haggard 

And what is the WhiteWash House going to do? Threaten to fire him?

Country singer Merle Haggard says he's as red, white and blue as they come, but has been disappointed by how President Bush responded to the panel probing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Haggard, 66, has been critical in songs and in interviews of the Iraq war and of what he views as an erosion of individual freedom. ...

On Thursday he cited the administration's flip flop on National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's requested testimony to the Sept. 11 panel as another example of poor leadership.

"There have been some things, like saying no with (Condoleezza Rice) to begin with and then having a White House reversal," Haggard said in a telephone interview from California. "I don't think a White House reversal looks good anytime."
(AP via The Chicago Tribune)

Funny, you'd think an "outlaw" like Merle Haggard would identify with Bush. Maybe Haggard is mellowing...

A vision of the liberal body politic at the Reading Terminal Market 

The Reading Terminal is one of Philadelphia's great institutions. It's a combination of a Central Market and a food court—except, unlike at a mall, none of the restaurants and stands are chains, they all sell real food, and because they're local, the money stays in Philly. And it's right in Center City, so you can walk or take the train to it. And now the Reading Terminal has free WiFi.

So this morning, I've been blogging from the Reading Terminal ($2.00 home-made ginger snaps described, of all places, in the Times).

All around: Tommy Dinic's Roast Beef and Pork. Johnny Yi's Fish Market; in neon: "Eat Fish, Live Longer." Famous Philadelphia Hoagies (run by Koreans). Food for the Skin (Bath - Body - Spirit) by Terralyn. Mezze Mediterranean Foods. Martin's Fancy Meats and Sausages.

And lots of Philadelphians—old, young, black, white, rich, poor, local, out-of-town—sitting down at the smae table and happily chowing down the food of their choice. You want lean? We got lean. Cholesterol bomb? We got that too. Kosher? No problem.

This is, I think, a paradigm of the body politic as a liberal conceives it. People get to choose their own food, and all sit down together. Also, a lot of small businesses making it on a playing field that the government makes sure is level by providing the right infrastructure.

This is, I think, also the opposite of how the Fundamentalists conceive the body politic. If they had their way, there would be only one kind of food, and only those who wanted it would sit down together. Everyone else would be out in the cold. "They only have one book, and it tells them to burn all the other books," as Neil Stephensen observed in another context in The Diamond Age. FTF ...

Bush leaks more selective intelligence—and it doesn't even help him! 

I thought KaWen would have gotten these guys all straightened out by now. Apparently not; the WhiteWash House just isn't on top of its dirty game right now. Probably too busy getting themselves lawyered up for the criminal investigations....

The Bush administration has released a previously classified document about its plan to attack Osama bin Laden in an effort to protect its beleaguered National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, against claims that she failed to recognise the threat posed by al-Qa'ida.

After a week of damaging allegations that the administration failed to heed warnings that al-Qa'ida was planning to attack the US, the White House released information which showed that a week before 11 September 2001, President Bush ordered his military planners to draw up plans to strike the terror network.
(via IIndependent)

And that's the point! This "defense" of Condi proves Clarke's point! He had plans to strike AQ ready from Day One. It took him eight months to get a meeting. And it took them nine months to give the order even to draw up a plan.

Some defense of Condi. I guess they really are going to heave her over the side.

And, oh yeah, it's OK to declassify intelligence if it helps the Bush election campaign, and it isn't, when it doesn't. So there are rules. Now I feel better.

Times editors pen the most thumbsucking headline ever, bar none. Wait for it... 

"The Mystery Deepens"
Here's what the brainiacs on the editorial board of The World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) can't understand:

The Bush administration's handling of the bipartisan commission investigating the 9/11 tragedy grows worse — and more oddly self-destructive — with each passing day. Following its earlier attempts to withhold documents from the panel and then to deny its members vital testimony, we now learn that President Bush's staff has been withholding thousands of pages of Clinton administration papers as well.

This latest distressing episode followed the White House's pattern of resisting the commission in private and then, once the dispute becomes public, reluctantly giving up the minimum amount of ground.

it is astonishing that it would still withhold anything that did not pose an immediate and dire threat to national security. The American people would like to know that they have a government that freely gives information to legitimate investigations on matters of grave national interest, not one that fights each reasonable request until it is exposed and forced to submit. The White House is serving no public purpose by acting less interested than the rest of us in having this commission do its vital work. Its ham-handed behavior is also gravely damaging the entire concept of executive privilege.
(via The Times)

Tut tut!


For shame!

Readers, can anyone help the Times editors solve this mystery?

NOTE: FWIW, my speculation is that the heart of the mystery is in the PDBs (Tom, back). My guess: Condi passed on a PDB, probably when Bush was on vacation, which said that AQ would use airplanes as missiles (a well-known fact anyhow, back), and that Bush either initialled the PDB or added some annotation that would prove that he read it. This would explain why Bush won't even give the commission copies of the PDBs.

Why doesn't anyone ever ask Bush if he thinks the earth is only 6000 years old? 

Scientists, of course, know differently.

Fossil Illuminates Evolution of Limbs from Fins

The discovery of a 365-million-year-old forelimb is helping scientists better understand how ancient creatures made the transition from water to land. A report published today in the journal Science describes the fossil, which represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of fish fins into vertebrate limbs.

Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago and his colleagues recovered the bone, which was encased in a brick-size piece of red sandstone, from the side of a highway in north central Pennsylvania.
(via Scientific American)


And make up your own jokes. Of course, the obvious one would be along the lines of the wingers not needing limbs, since they're still crawling in slime... But that is the sort of cheap shot that we here at Corrente pride ourselves in not taking.

A Republic of Mercenaries: Why billions for planes and tanks but no body armor for troops? 

Why is it that Bush hasn't gotten the troops their body armor yet? You'd think a war preznit could arrange that kind of thing with a stroke of the pen through an Executive Order. After all, just because John Kerry says to do it doesn't make it a bad idea.

Why is it that Bush screws up their payrolls, screws up their combat pay, screws up their health care, and screws up their benefits? Why does he send troops who aren't combat-ready into combat? (Guardian)

The answer came to me this morning: I think it's a variant of Starve the Beast. This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out.

Under Bush, the big defense contractors will never be privatized, in the sense of being forced to compete—and a great power does need weaponry (though perhaps not so very much, and it would be nice if it all worked).

However, the work that the troops, the grunts, do can be privatized, and is being so. The strategy is to keep wages and working conditions lousy (see above), keep turnover high, and cream off a percentage of those who leave the military into mercenary armies, like Blackwater. The mercenary armies are (a) doubtless large Republican contributors and (b) allow the President to make war whenever and however he wants, without being subject to all that pesky Congressional oversight.

Needless to say, that's not the kind of military a Republic can have, and stay a Republic. Praetorian Guard, anyone?

Now, Blackwater brings me to the events in Fallujah. In my original post on this, (Gruesome pictures, back), I wrote that I doubted that the contractors knew what they were really signing up for. Several alert readers wrote in to say that the victims were from Blackwater, and that they knew exactly what they were signing up for.

Those readers were right, though nobody deserves to be burned to death and hung from a bridge, whether it's a risk they knew they were taking or not.

But I think the distinction I tried to draw still has force. When a citizen joins the military, he or she takes an oath (ibid) to protect and defend the country. When an employee joins a mercenary army, he or she signs a contract. It's wrong to confuse an oath to defend the country with a contract to perform certain services for money, and to give both equal status.

In fact, to say that the oath which the troops take is the moral equivalent of the contract which mercenaries sign is to open the door to a privatized military: A Republic of Mercenaries. Mercenaries are now the third largest international force in Iraq, after the US and the UK. So Kos (thanks to alert reader Ricky Vandal) has this one exactly right.

Of course, the SCLM is behaving even worse than usual on this. As Kos points out, the deaths of contractors got more coverage than the deaths of the troops. That's wrong, and the SCLM was clearly (despite the handwringing) driven to push the story because of the photos which were, indeed, gruesome. So the SCLM is contributing, in its own way, to a Republic of Mercenaries as well.

You know, every so often a hiker gets lost in the woods, and the government has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to helicopter them back to civilization and treat them for exposure. The story is then generally treated by the wingers as a little parable of moral hazard, since if the hiker had known they would die if lost in woods, instead of being rescued, they would have taken care not to get lost in the first place.

Isn't using the full force of the US military to rescue or avenge mercenaries exactly the same case of moral hazard writ large? Shouldn't we be seeking to "pacify" Fallujah (if such a thing is possible) because the country has foreign policy goals it undertakes on behalf of its citizens, as opposed to "responding" on behalf of mercenaries who knew what they were getting into?

So, the future: Big Defense pocketing billions, mercenary armies pocketing billions, no democratic oversight, and all for the buck. After lying, looting is what Republicans do best!

UPDATE Kos to the wingers on this issue: Bring it on! Steve Gilliard has some heated commentary on the issue here.

Why do they hate America? 

The reaction to Bush's stonewalling tactics:

A CBS News poll taken this week said seven in 10 Americans believe the Bush administration is either hiding something or lying about what it knew before the Sept. 11 attacks about possible terrorist attacks against the United States.
(via AP)

It's the coverup that kills you. Either these people haven't learned anything from Nixon, or too much power makes you stupid. I wonder which it is?

Friday, April 02, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Tomorrow is another day.

Bush "release" of Clinton files to 9/11 Commission: I knew there'd be a catch 

"All" never means "all" with these guys, does it? (back)

But even as the White House tried to convince the panel that it was not withholding valuable information, administration officials refused to make a commitment to let the commission have copies of the Clinton-era documents.

So what is the Commmission supposed to do? Use shorthand? Memorize them?

And the officials suggested that similar, highly classified Bush White House documents might also have been withheld from the panel.

Well. Now the Commission doesn't really know what it has, does it? And Kean traded away the right to recall witnesses. Smart move!

The disclosure by the White House on Thursday that it had withheld thousands of classified national-security documents gathered by the National Archives from the files of the Clinton White House drew protests from members of the commission, Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as Congressional Democrats.

Mr. Lindsey said he had reviewed many of the 10,800 documents gathered by the National Archives, where Mr. Clinton's files are stored, and found them to be valuable to the commission's work. He said they included many documents about Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the government's counterterrorism policies.

But the final decision on whether the documents could be handed over was left to the Bush White House, which decided to block transfer of three-quarters of the nearly 11,000 pages of material, said former Clinton aides who say they were concerned that so many documents had been withheld.
(via The Times)

Just more stonewalling.

Why do the 9/11 families stand for it? And Lindsey must be able to make an educated guess about what Bush is withholding, and why—why doesn't someone just ask him?

More burglaries from The Goon Squad 

First Kerry's FBI records, now this. Anyone sensing a pattern?

Scottsdale Democratic Party officials feel targeted after a computer hard drive with donors' information and mailing list was stolen last month and the office was vandalized Wednesday.

"The fact that we've had two in the last three weeks is very, very suspicious," said Leon Chusid, District 8 treasurer, headquartered at 8350 E. McDonald Drive. "And it's also very terrifying."

The only thing taken in the first incident was a computer's hard drive with information about precinct committee members, mailing lists and fund-raising.

The computer monitor and keyboard were left behind and there were no signs of forced entry in the burglary, said Detective Sam Bailey, a spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department.
(The Arizona Republic via Pandagon)

Actually, first (that we know of) the theft of the Democratic files on the Judiciary, then Kerry's FBI records, now this.

Oh, and Arizona is a swing state. Of course.

Yawning Boy to be on Letterman tonight! 

See Tyler Crott here (back)

Hey, I wonder if his Pioneer Dad prepped him better this time!

Readers, I don't have a TV.... So if any of you can fill us in on how it goes, that would be great. Thanks!

UPDATE The Orlando Sentinel has the video.

Bush caves on Clinton documents he sought to hide from 9/11 commission 

Of course, with Bush, "all" is a very elastic term.

The Bush administration gave the federal panel reviewing the Sept. 11 attacks access Friday to thousands of classified counterterrorism documents from the Clinton administration.

Bush officials granted the Sept. 11 commission's request to review the material after Bruce Lindsey, former legal adviser to President Clinton, said the administration failed to turn over all of Clinton's records to the panel.

Lindsey said Thursday that the commission isn't getting a full picture of Clinton's terrorism policies because the Bush administration had only forwarded 25 percent of the 11,000 records it wanted to provide the panel.

(via eh Guardian AP)

Ha. I wonder if Lindsey has given them any clues about where to look?

Does anyone feel safer yet? 

Three years on, the busses and trains aren't safe. Of course, the shadow government has its bunkers, so they're OK....

Bombs hidden in luggage could be used in a plot to attack buses and railways in major American cities this summer, U.S. security authorities said on Friday.

"We assess that buses and railways could be targeted," the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said in a bulletin issued to law enforcement agencies, local governments and the transportation industry.

"The plot calls for the use of improvised explosive devices possibly constructed of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and diesel fuel concealed in luggage and carry-on bags to include duffel bags and backpacks," according to the bulletin.

It said, "al Qaeda and other groups have demonstrated the intent and capability to attack public transportation with conventional explosives, vehicle-borne bombs and suicide bombers."
(via Reuters)

Interesting that little mention of "other groups"... Sounds like the FBI has been reading their Orcinus, who has consistently pointed out how Bush and the FBI ignore the home-grown right wing threats—heck, they might need the militias to kill liberals!—and will reap the whirlwind if the wingers ally themselves with AQ, as they are showing signs of doing.

Impeach Bu$h - Now More Than Ever 

April 2, 2004
John Dean Tells Bill Moyers that Bush Should Be Impeached

NOW with Bill Moyers - PBS tonight, April 02, 2004
BILL MOYERS: Let me go right to page 155 of your book. You write, quote, "The evidence is overwhelming that George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney have engaged in deceit and deception over going to war in Iraq. This is an impeachable offense."

JOHN DEAN: Absolutely is. The founders in the debates in the states-- I cite one. I cite one that I found -- I tracked down after reading the Nixon impeachment proceedings when-- Congressman Castenmeyer had gone back to look to see what the founders said about misrepresentations and lying to the Congress. Clearly, it is an impeachable offense. And I think the case is overwhelming that these people presented false information to the Congress and to the American people.

BILL MOYERS: John, I was, as you know, in the Johnson White House at the time of the Gulf of-- Tonkin when LBJ escalated the war in Vietnam on the basis of misleading information. He said there was an attack in the Gulf of Tonkin. It subsequent turns out there wasn't an attack.

Many people said then and have said that LBJ deceived the country and concealed the escalation of the war. You even say in the book that he hoodwinked Congress. Are you saying that that was not an impeachable offense but what is happening now is?

JOHN DEAN: No. I'm saying that was an impeachable offense. In fact, it comes up in the Nixon debates over whether the secret bombing would be an impeachable offense. That became a high crime or offense because Nixon had, in fact, told privately some members of the Congress. Johnson didn't tell anybody the game he was playing to my knowledge.

And these are probably the most serious offenses that you can make-- when you take a country to war, blood and treasure, no higher decision can a President of the United States make as the Commander-in-Chief. To do it on bogus information, to use this kind of secrecy to do it is intolerable.

Impeach Central: Petition / Articles of Impeachment


When hell freezes over! 

Nancy Pelosi:

"The president should stand tall, walk in the room himself and answer the questions."
(via AP)

But what's sock puppet without a hand?

Hey, maybe Kerry could debate both Bush and Cheney at the same time! 

It's a tag team concept! And that way, Bush and Cheney could keep their stories straight! Just like Bush and Cheney "visiting" with the 9/11 Commission together....

Jobs numbers finally improve, despite Bush policies 

For all the people who were finally able to get jobs this month, I'm happy.

For Bush, who will now claim, based on one month's numbers, that he's made his numbers for his whole term, I'm happy.

For the millions who have left the work force entirely because they don't feel they can ever get jobs, I'm not happy.

For the millions of US citizens working on the minimum wage ($10,000 a year), I'm not happy.

For the millions who depend on overtime to pay their bills, and who Bush is still trying to screw, I'm not happy.

For the millions who are putting in more hours and working harder for the same money because of "the lash," (back), I'm not happy.

When will the total number of jobs under Bush gets back to where it was under Clinton? When that happens, maybe Bush can claim some success. Note that unemployment is at the same high rate as it has been, since people who were formerly discouraged have returned to the jobs force.

As it is, we're still in "the operation was a success, but the patient died" mode.

UPDATE An interesting final paragraph from the AP article touting Bush's elation:

West Virginia had the lowest labor force participation rate in the United States last year, 54.6 percent. Many people simply stopped looking for work and were no longer counted among the unemployed.

Like Edwards said: Two socities.

Gary Hart also warns White House, prior to 9/11 

Thanks to Elvis56 for pointing me to this article in Salon.com by David Talbot. [excerpt and link follows]

Condi Rice's other wake-up call - Former Sen. Gary Hart says he, too, warned Rice about an imminent terror attack on two occasions before 9/11. ~ By David Talbot [ See:Salon.com ]

Also, noticed this interview Hart gave to Australian radio program PM. Excerpts follow.

This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio. You can also listen to the story in REAL AUDIO and WINDOWS MEDIA formats.

US national security commission terror warnings pre-September 11
PM - Friday, 26 March , 2004 18:30:00
Reporter: Geraldine Doogue


Gary Hart was a Democrat Presidential candidate in the 80s. More recently he's been the co-chairman of the US Commission on National Security for the 21st Century. The Commission issued strong warnings throughout 2001 about America being at risk of a terrorist attack, including one just five days before September 11.

Geraldine Doogue asked Gary Hart if the Commission's warnings were the kind that the Bush administration could reasonably have acted on.

GARY HART: Well, yes and no. There were specific enough, and I quote our first report in September 1999:

"America will be attacked by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, and Americans will lose their lives on American soil, possibly in large numbers", end quote.

[...] [more at ABC Online Australia HERE

Backtrack February 2002 Five months after 9/11, VP Cheney addresses a Council of Foreign Relations gathering:

Throughout the time that I've been a member of the council, most of our debates were defined by the Cold War. When America's great enemy [Soviet Union] suddenly disappeared, many wondered what new direction our foreign policy would take. We spoke, as always, of long-term problems and regional crises throughout the world, but there was no single immediate, global threat that any roomful of experts could agree upon.

All of that changed five months ago. [9/11] The threat is known and our role is clear now. ~ [Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to a Council of Foreign Relations benefit in February 2002.] - Source: CFR transcript - Earlier reference: Flower of the Lupine


I'm with you, Tyler! 

This is before Acting President Rove left the horse's head in his bed, of course.

(via Wonkette)

Hey, wasn't it child abuse to leave a horse's head in The Yawning Boy's bed? 

The Yawning Boy is, well, the boy (Tyler Crotty) who yawned during a Bush campaign speech (fancy!). Krugman summarizes:

On Monday, Mr. Letterman ran a video clip of a boy yawning and fidgeting during a speech by George Bush. It was harmless stuff; a White House that thinks it's cute to have Mr. Bush make jokes about missing W.M.D. should be able to handle a little ribbing about boring speeches.

CNN ran the Letterman clip on Tuesday, just before a commercial. Then the CNN anchor Daryn Kagan came back to inform viewers that the clip was a fake: "We're being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video." Later in the day, another anchor amended that: the boy was at the rally, but not where he was shown in the video.

On his Tuesday night show, Mr. Letterman was not amused: "That is an out and out 100 percent absolute lie. The kid absolutely was there, and he absolutely was doing everything we pictured via the videotape."

But here's the really interesting part: CNN backed down, but it told Mr. Letterman that Ms. Kagan "misspoke," that the White House was not the source of the false claim. (So who was? And if the claim didn't come from the White House, why did CNN run with it without checking?)
(via The Times)

Well, now the control freaks in the WhiteWash House have take control of media access to the poor kid (and God knows what else. They'd better get him to sign a contract he'll never write a book). Probably the same team that handled the Jessica Lynch thing so well...

The White House, trying to get out in front of the Yawning Boy story, is now in charge of media access to the young man who was seen on David Letterman's show this week yawning his way through one of President Bush's less robust speeches.

OK, the horse's head got left at that point. Now we hear this:

"He's a young person who strongly supports the president and is excited about getting a chance to talk about it," White House assistant press secretary Reed Dickens told The TV Column yesterday.

But of course, there's no problem. After all, the Bush campaign is famous for being able to take a joke!

Dickens says the Bush campaign was tickled about the whole thing: "We think it's all in good nature, very good-humored."

That's certainly what the boy's Dad thought (not!):

[The elder Crotty, Richard, Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell] says, "was anxious when I first talked to him; he was deadly serious about this, saying, 'I accept full responsibility; I should have prepared him better.'

"Maybe he thought the wrath of the Bushes was going to come down on him.... Then he started to loosen up."

"I think whatever problems the Bushes might have had with the [Crotty] son they got over with pretty quick as soon as Dad reached 'Pioneer status,' " Maxwell says.

Yes, money talks. Letterman's reaction:

"This whole thing just smells. Doesn't it smell a little bit?" Letterman asked his audience last night.

"I mean, it just seems all just a little too tidy, just a little too neat. And now, the guy, the kid in Florida -- and his old man -- was really upset in the beginning. . . . Well, now everybody down there loves it. Everybody couldn't be happier; everybody thought it was hilarious. So you see, it's just a little too tidy. Stuff like this never ends happily, certainly not happily for me. I was waiting for the lawsuit, I was waiting to be arrested, I was waiting to be beaten to a pulp, and now, oh . . . we couldn't be happier."
(via WaPo)


An Open Letter To MoveOn.org 

Dear MoveOn,

Richard Clarke is right.

I refer to that ad you've made that makes use of Clarke's words and voice in a frontal attack on the Bush administration. Mr Clarke's discomfort was predictable and is entirely understandable. Not that there's anything wrong with being partisan; those of us who remain unpleased with our current President's performance in office are and should be proudly partisan.

My disagreement with your position takes nothing away from my admiration and support for MoveOn as a uniquely hopeful organization that is reviving American democracy from the grass roots up.

But Richard Clarke is about something else. He has taken pains to be clear that he is not a "partisan," that in writing his book and testifying before the 9/11 Commission he has acted without personal rancor, his single purpose, to inform, to enlighten, and not to take sides anywhere but in the voting booth. And since he clearly had some idea of the kind of personal attacks his going public was bound to unleash against him, I don't think it's excessive to view him as heroic.

Not that your ad claims him for our side. It doesn't. But let's be honest with ourselves; unfairly or not, your ad is bound to undermine his credibility, the maintenance of which, for the time being, is a far more important goal for us partisans than is the dissemination of his views, especially in thirty second soundbites. Hey guys, it ain't worth it. Nor is it fair to Richard Clarke.

The counter arguments you’ve made in response to his wish you withdraw the ads are good ones, both legally and ethically. But when all is said and done, aren’t they really beside the point?

This story isn't over. Let it play out. There will be time enough to use intelligently what we've learned from Mr. Clarke, and without drawing his ire, or giving such ready ammunition to those determined to attack his integrity.

As noted at TAPPED, this was the week that the SCLM seems to have discovered those four young 9/11 widows from New Jersey who're are the main reason there is a 9/11 Commission. One of them, Kristin Breitweiser, appeared last Thursday on Hardball (scrowl down) and made this statement about her response to the commission hearing at which Clarke appeared:

BREITWEISER: Frankly, the commissioners, I think, need to do a self-examination and determine who they‘re really representing on this commission. Are they representing the interests of the families and the rest of the nation? Or are they representing certain Washington individuals?

And I think that they really need to make that decision prior to their writing of the final report. The families want a transparent definitive comprehensive final report removed from politics.

It is such an insult to sit through hearings that we have waited two and a half years to have and have to bear witness to such partisan politics.

When Chris Matthews tried to get her to attack the Republican commission members to whom she was clearly referring, she refused to take the bait. But that didn't keep her from saying this about Condi Rice in regards to her statement that in the summer of 2001, no one could have imagined a terrorist attack using airliners as missiles.

You know, Chris, the families would like Dr. Rice to testify under oath in a public hearing. She made a very public statement and I think one of two things. Either she flat out lied or she‘s incompetent, because the historical record is replete with instances of planes being used as missiles.

I can hold up the joint inquiry report. You see all the post-its on here, indicating instances of planes being used as missiles, of al Qaeda being interested in using plane as missiles of attacks in the homeland.

It's sting is directly proportional to Kristen Breitweiser's insistence on a stance of strict non-partisanship.

"A transparent definitive comprehensive final report removed from politics..." Isn't that what we all want? That the White House appears not to want that, whatever they claim, says everything about how they view in whose genuine interest such a document will prove to be.

Kristen Breitweiser's articulation of what should be the goal for all of us gives you a graceful way to withdraw the ad. May I respectfully submit that this is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.

As ever, your loyal MoveOn member

More loot for the insiders? 

Were those (good) job numbers leaked (Atrios)? If so, it would sure have meant a big windfall for whoever had advance notice and put money into the market before it jumped....

UPDATE WaPo was a very detailed story about the BLS Process, which indicates that the figures are to be released at 8:30AM, exactly. So (as Atrios asks) how was Reuters able to release them at 8:28AM?

Looting the 9/11 sites: FBI to restore Tiffany globe looted by underling, says nothing of Rumsfeld's looting 

I guess this is one looted item the FBI didn't give to "dignitaries" (back, Pioneers and Rangers?)

The Justice Department is looking for the owner of a Tiffany globe paperweight at the center of an investigation into FBI agents taking rubble from the World Trade Center.

An investigation by Fine concluded that an FBI agent improperly removed the globe from a debris collection site at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, N.Y. In all, the probe found that 13 agents improperly took items ranging from chunks of concrete to pieces of New York fire trucks, leading the FBI to adopt a new policy barring agents from taking anything from crime scenes.

The Tiffany globe, which wound up on the desk of an FBI secretary in its Minneapolis field office, was the item that sparked the initial investigation into removal of Sept. 11 debris. Tiffany sells the globes for about $350, but officials estimated that as a Sept. 11 artifact it could be worth $5,000 or more.
(via AP)

So, have the agents been discisplined?

And if they have, why hasn't Rumsfeld, who looted aircraft parts from the 9/11 site, which is a felony for which others have been prosecuted?

Could it be that under Bush, there is one law for high administration officials, and another law for everyone else?

Plame Affair: It's the coverup the gets you 

Bush officials? Lie? Huh?

Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.

The broadened scope is a potentially significant development that represents exactly what allies of the Bush White House feared when Attorney General John Ashcroft removed himself from the case last December and turned it over to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago.

Republican lawyers worried that the leak case, in the hands of an aggressive prosecutor, might grow into an unwieldy, time-consuming and politically charged inquiry, like the sprawling independent counsel inquiries of the 1990's, which distracted and damaged the Clinton administration.
(via The Times)



With one exception, of course. In the Plame Affair, laws could actually have been broken, and the whole thing isn't ginned up by The Goon Squad attack machine. Other than that....

The suspicion that someone may have lied to investigators is based on contradictions between statements by various witnesses in F.B.I. interviews, the lawyers and officials said. The conflicts are said to be buttressed by documents, including memos, e-mail messages and phone records turned over by the White House.

That's because the FBI wouldn't let them be interviewed together, so they could keep their stories straight! Bush and Cheney aren't going to make that mistake again...

At the same time, Mr. Fitzgerald is said to be investigating whether the disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity came after someone discovered her name among classified documents circulating at the upper echelons of the White House. It could be a crime to disclose information from such a document, although such violations are rarely prosecuted.

Funny how the WhiteWash House threatens to prosecute Clarke and O'Neill, but when they release classified information, there's never a peep. Why is that?

UPDATE Josh Marshall has a very interesting posting and memo that suggests why Acting President Rove may want to get himself lawyered up.

WhiteWash House supppressing Clinton-era documents from 9/11 commission 

I wonder why? Could it be they are trying to protect Clinton? Joke, son.

The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job" Mr. McClellan said.
(via NY Times)

The icing on the cake for the latest cover-up is Scott "Sucka MC" McClellan's statement—surely it is up to the 9/11 Commission to determine what it needs, not the WhiteWash House? Wouldn't that be why the Commission has subpoena power?

Barbie and that "friend" of Barbie's 

Via Reuters: "Barbie Is a Lesbian......."

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City public schools will allow students to wear clothes with political slogans after settling a lawsuit with a teen-age girl who was suspended for wearing a T-shirt that said "Barbie is a Lesbian," her lawyer said on Thursday. LINK

Well duh. Like thats some surprise? Like ain't it pretty obvious that Ken is a lesbian too. Sheesh.

Team B 43? ~ Redux 

This post is essentially an addendum to one of Digby's recent posts titled There He Goes Again. The "He" in this case is Jim Wilkinson, deputy national security adviser for communications, who is attempting to defy the laws of empirical physical evidential reality by claiming that the Bush administration's primary foreign policy priority upon seizing the White House, and bolting the doors and drawing the shades, was the delicate task of crushing the al Qaeda menace. Not, as critics claim, selling defrosted Star Wars/NMD fantasias, stomping the Anti-Ballistic Missile Teaty to death, and chasing Saddam Hussein down a hidey hole. Heavens no.

So, before you read the rest of this post you probably should read Digby's post first, if you haven't already, because it essentially provides the background for what will follow here. Read: There He Goes Again

Digby cites a June 2002 Jason Vest article titled "Why Warnings Fell On Deaf Ears" which appered in The American Prospect. (See link to Jason Vest article available via Digby's post which is linked above).

Vest also wrote an earlier piece titled Darth Rumsfeld which appeared in the Feb. 26, 2001 issue of The American Prospect and also goes right to the point with respect to the designs Rumsfeld and the neocons had in mind long before they entered the White House in 2000. And those objectives and agendas have everything to do with trotting out rogue-state nuclear threat scare scenarios and reanimating space based missle defense programs and disposing of the ABM Treaty as a necessary step in realizing such objectives. Everything to do with what they were unboubtably focusing on prior to 9/11 when they should have been listening to guys like Richard Clarke who were emphasizing the dangers and threats posed by global terrorism networks such as al Qaeda in particular. See: Darth Rumsfeld

For example - Vest notes:
In 1998 Gaffney [Frank Gaffney - Center for Security Policy] gave Rumsfeld CSP's "Keeper of the Flame" Award for producing the document that revitalized the Reagan Star Wars concept.

That document was "The Rumsfeld Report" (1998). No surprise, Gaffney's CSP was funded by defense contractors who profit from those very same NMD programs being shined up by the Rumsfeld Report.

With respect to the ABM Treaty Vest relates:
Perhaps worst of all, for missle defense to become a reality, the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty needs to be amended-something the Russians are not eager to do. No matter, says Rumsfeld; at his confirmation hearings, he dismissed the ABM treaty as "ancient history" and said he had no compunction about abrogating it.

In July of last year I posted a long item to Eschaton called Team B 43?. It is essentially a summary of this same information - Vest's Darth Rumsfeld article mentioned above - so, if anyone wants to look at it, to glean any additional info you may find there, heres the link. Team B 43?" It's also mirrored here for some reason: Team B 43?

Just above my Team B 43? post, on the same Eschaton archive page, is a post written by Leah which details the increase in threat assessments as they relate to Iraq.
The January-June 2002 report, however, raised alarm at unprecedented levels rhetorically, though it provided little new evidence of increased capability. This report, which moved the nuclear program from the last program mentioned to the front of the assessment, devoted six long paragraphs to the nuclear weapons, mostly detailed narrative of Iraq's nuclear history and the IAEA inspections and dismantlement process. [See: Antidote to Instacrap Eschaton archives, July 2003]

Another article by Vest which can be found at The American Prospect, and details the "Rumsfeld clique" thinking on national defense and security as it relates to the above, can be found here: Punch-Drunk on Hardball: Online Sidebar to "Darth Rumsfeld" -- Vest writes:
While Rumsfeld's clique is hot on missile defense, weaponizing space, demonizing China and funding the Iraqi opposition, there are career officers and civilians leery of weapons programs with a ridiculous burn rate, who don't see a need to create additional enemies. Their views are closer to Powell's, and how they interface across bureaucratic lines will be interesting to watch. "If Powell and Rumsfeld come together and say, 'Let's use the collective capability of Defense and State and the power of the CINCs to do cohesive and coherent things in the service of sound policy,' it could be pretty awesome," the Pentagon veteran says. "But that depends on a lot of factors that aren't clear yet, and the picture could be much more fractured. Because one of the problems with defense modernization figuring out who the fuck the enemy is. Expect Rumsfeld and his people to create enemies."

So, as I said. This is just an addendum to what Digby posted. Just more reminders from the memory hole for anyone who wants to go back and take a second look at what the Bush cronies were really bothering about prior to 9/11.

And, as an added timely reminder, as it relates to the upcoming Dick and "W" one show only performance before the 9/11 Commission, consider this prediction by Vest in Feb 2001:
Conventional wisdom holds that the Bush administration will be unlike any other, with Bush as president and Cheney as CEO, or Bush as president and Cheney as prime minister (with oversight of the defense and diplomacy portfolios). In a sense, Ford all over again: Rummy back at the Pentagon, Cheney as the sitting president's right hand man, and a secretary of state who's potential trouble. [Darth Rumsfeld]

Ther ya have it. Jason Vest restoring the wise to the conventional wisdom.


What will the 5:00 horror be today? 

As we know, Bush tends to release information that's really for for him on 5:00 Friday, in the hopes that we'll all ignore it and he'll have plenty of time to get it spun by the talking heads on Sunday.

I have to say, the atmosphere inside the WhiteWash House must be getting more and more crazy and bunker-like.

First, the concept that Cheney and Bush are going to "visit" the 9/11 Commission together. Truly, truly weird. Bush can't speak for himself? They're worried the earpiece will get jammed?

Then, there's the whole Letterman thing: A kid yawns during one of Bush's campaign speeches (the Dad, a Pioneer, says he should have "prepped" the kid better). Letterman runs the tape. Bush says Letterman faked the tape (!!). It goes on from there, but isn't that weird enough already? I mean, as if Letterman had to do it, when Letterman can and does nail Bush whenever he wants. (Started by Atrios, but now it's made it to Krugman.)

And then, there's the whole sick jokes about WMD things.

I tell you, weird. I think these guys think they've already won, and they're giddy, and think they can do and say anything. It's up to us to prove them wrong.

What will the 5:00 horror be, this week?

"A" is for Alpha - "W" is for Weenie 

Steady Cheerleadership in Times of Change. Rah rah rah, sis boom bah...G. Weenie Bush, hah-hah-hah!

Gimme a "W"! (one for the yearbook)


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

A good day, yes? And tomorrow the unemployment figures.

The Boston Globe gets letters 

A reader stands up for liberal, enlightenment values:

There was a Bush campaign ad on TV recently in which the president, facing the camera, gave a list of problems facing the country and in each case said, "I know" how to deal with these issues. The message given was that he had the answers.

Several months ago President Bush stated the the United States had a "calling" to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. In Bush's fundamentalist Christian world, that word has a special meaning. It is something preordained, not action taken after investigation and sober reflection of facts and alternatives. It is something dictated by a higher power.

Add this to his frequent statements that there is no middle ground between good and evil, his administration's plan for "faith-based initiatives," and his opposition to freedom of choice and his attempts to define "marriage." Do we not have a government moving toward decision-making based on someone's interpretation of certain religious teachings and beliefs?

How does this differ, except by degree, from the message of the imams and ayatollahs that government exists not to carry out the will of the people, but the will of the prophet as they choose to interpret it?

Dover, N.H.
(via the Boston Gblob)

We don't need a War on Terror. We need a Campaign Against Fundamentalistm—at home and abroad.
(See back here for WOT versus CAF analysis.)

Bush guts IRS power to track down AQ funds 

Is there something I'm missing?

So I'm catching up at Jerome Dolittle's fine blog, and I come upon this astonishing question:

Did you know that Bush just turned down an IRS request for 80 more criminal investigators to block the flow of funds to Al Qaeda?

No Jerome, and surely you jest, I think to myself. How could that possibly be true? Now? In the midst of what Richard Clarke has to say about their less than vigorous anti-Al Qaeda efforts? Not even this crowd would dare....and why would they risk...Risk? Risk what? When have they ever been called to account for anything, any outrage? Good God, the questions begin to answer themselves.

Turns out that Mr. Dolittle has sharp eyes indeed, because the NYTimes story he's discussing, by one of the paper's most trustworthy reporters, David Cay Johnson, whose book on the astounding tax iniquities the Reagan/Bush revolution hath wrought you shouldn't miss, appeared on page C3.

It's Jerome's catch, so go visit his excellent blog, Bad Attitudes, and do take his advice to read the actual NYTimes article carefully, twice if necessary. The White House response is especially amusing; yes, the eighty positions were zeroed out, but that doesn't take away from the "robust" increase in funding that demonstrates the President's "robust" committment to disrupt the financing of terrorism. That's so Bush & Co, isn't it? Every policy, with the possible exception of waging a war, is essentially symbolic, a shell without actual substance, an indicator of what you are supposed to believe about this President, because all actual policies, what actually gets done, is driven exclusively by politics, by the will to acquire and maintain power. And they're good at it, their sooo damn good at it.

Why is Bush afraid to debate Kerry? 

Does he think he'll have to take a medical exam first? Does he think someone will jam his earpiece? Funny what money can't buy, isn't it?

Saying it's time to "raise the level of dialogue," Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign called on President Bush's re-election campaign Thursday to agree to six debates in key battleground states.

"Democrats in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Washington, Ohio, Missouri and Florida plan to hold press conferences over the next several days to highlight the importance of a substantive discussion on issues affecting all Americans -- national security, homeland security and veterans' issues; education; environment and energy policies; the economy; health care; and equal opportunity for all," said campaign chair Jeanne Shaheen in a written statement.

Bush campaign spokesman Taylor Griffin told CNN Thursday, "The Bush-Cheney campaign looks for a vigorous debate at the appropriate time. But John Kerry should finish the debate with himself first -- being on both sides of each issue."
(via CNN)

That would be "a" debate as in "one"? Kinda like the "one" hour Bush was going to give to the 9/11 commission?

As for the "flipflops"—more winger projection! See back here.

Say, why doesn't someone ask Bush if he thinks the earth is 6000 years old? 

Or if there's some kind of question that it isn't?

Today researchers announced their discovery of a 365-million-year-old fossil limb bone of an ancient tetrapod. Tetrapods, including humans, are four-limbed animals with backbones. The fossil was found during road construction that revealed an ancient streambed.

Scientists say the find will help shed light on how early animals evolved limbs from fins. This crucial adaptation enabled Earth's animal life to crawl from water to land.
(via National Geographic)

Although, I grant you, not all wingers walk upright...


Thanks, Ralph 

Small difference isn't the same as no difference.

An Idaho lawyer nominated to the federal appeals court won narrow approval Thursday from the Senate Judiciary Committee despite fierce opposition from environmentalists.

The committee voted 10-9 along party lines in favor of President Bush's nomination of William G. Myers III to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A straight-party line vote likely means that Democrats will attempt to make him the seventh Bush judicial nominee to be blocked in the full Senate.

Democrats cited Myers' opposition to environmental protections while Interior Department solicitor from 2001-2003 and as a private lawyer and lobbyist for cattle and mining interests.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she was disturbed by his "extreme" comments, including when Meyers wrote that environmental groups are "mountain biking to the courthouse as never before, bent on stopping human activity wherever it may promote health, safety and welfare."

Myers acknowledged during his confirmation hearing of sometimes using a "poor choice of words." He didn't immediately return a message for comment Thursday.
(via AP)

What a load of bollocks. As if environmental protections didn't make jobs too.

Bush losing the Beltway vote? "Dean" Broder's slightly stale CW on Bush flipflops 

Broder seems surprised that Bush would heave Condi over the side. Where has he been?

For nine days the White House and its allies did everything in their power to discredit Clarke, while trying to shield his old boss, Rice, from the commission's unanimous request that she give sworn public testimony in response to Clarke's stunning indictment.

When the effort to shoot the messenger failed to halt the political erosion, Bush did what he never should have done: He threw Rice to the commission. And, worse, he failed to do what he could have done long before: Offer the American people and the world a clear, coherent and detailed account of his own activities and state of mind in the months leading up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Instead of acting as the man in charge and saying to the commission, "No, you may not put my national security adviser on the mat, but I will answer to the public for what happened," he did just the opposite. He gave up Rice and then turned on his heel and walked out of the briefing room even as reporters were trying to ask him questions.

At a time when the American people -- and the world -- desperately need reassurance that the government was not asleep at the switch, Bush has clenched his jaw and said nothing that would ease those concerns. Instead, he has arranged that when he answers the commission's questions in a yet-to-be-scheduled private session, he will not face it alone. He and Vice President Cheney will appear together. It will be interesting to learn who furnishes most of the answers.
(David Broder via WaPo)

Of course, MoDo has the answer to that one. And to think that I thought Bush's letter to the Commission was beyond parody:

The Commission must agree in writing that it will not pose any questions directly to the President. Mr. Bush's statements will be restricted to asides on Dick Cheney's brushoffs, as in "Just like he said," "Roger that" and "Ditto."

(MoDo here)

Pass the popcorn!

Bush losing the Beltway vote? WaPo's O'Neal on Bush flipflops 

Of course, "flip flop" is a little polite for what Bush does. I prefer "cave" or "wuss out."

This week, President Bush, who is bashing Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry on the campaign trail as a typical politician who lacks principle and changes his mind often for political expediency, reversed his decision on allowing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify under oath in public before the 9/11 commission.
(via WaPo)

Bush flipflops? Film at 11! Here, I think it's a good time to reprint Kos's list of Bush flipflops here:
  • Bush is against campaign finance reform; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against a Homeland Security Department; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against a 9/11 commission; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against an Iraq WMD investigation; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against nation building; then he's for it.

  • Bush is against deficits; then he's for them.

  • Bush is for free trade; then he's for tariffs on steel; then he's against them again.

  • Bush is against the U.S. taking a role in the Israeli
    Palestinian conflict; then he pushes for a "road map" and a Palestinian

  • Bush is for states right to decide on gay marriage, then he is for changing the constitution.

  • Bush first says he'll provide money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then he doesn't.

  • Bush first says that 'help is on the way' to the military ... then he cuts benefits

  • Bush-"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin
    Laden. Bush-"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really
    don't care.

  • Bush claims to be in favor of the environment and then secretly starts drilling on Padre Island.

  • Bush talks about helping education and increases mandates while cutting funding.

  • Bush first says the U.S. won't negotiate with North Korea. Now he will

  • Bush goes to Bob Jones University. Then say's he shouldn't have.

  • Bush said he would demand a U.N. Security Council vote on
    whether to sanction military action against Iraq. Later Bush announced
    he would not call for a vote

  • Bush said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors.  Bush later admits it was his advance team.

  • Bush was for fingerprinting and photographing Mexicans who enter the US. Bush after meeting with Pres. Fox, he's against it.

  • Flip flops? I'd say Bush is a "Black Belt" flipflopper! (image source).

    More proof that we're winning 

    What to say?

    A roadside bomb injured three American troops on Thursday near Fallujah, a day after the grisly killing and mutilation of four American contract workers in the city. The top U.S. administrator in Iraq aid the deaths would not go unpunished.

    [Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt] said U.S. troops would hunt down those who carried out the killings.

    "We will pacify that city," he said. "We will be back in Fallujah. It will be at the time and place of our choosing."

    (via AP)

    "Cakewalk," anyone?

    Why do these people hate America? 

    The poll by the Los Angeles Times found that 52 percent of Americans agreed with charges by the former official, Richard Clarke, that Bush "failed to take the threat of terrorism seriously enough" before the attacks, while 40 percent disagreed.

    An even larger share, 57 percent, agreed with Clarke that Bush placed a higher priority on invading Iraq than on combating terrorism.
    (via Reuters)

    Drip, drip, drip....

    UPDATE Polling results from the LA Times. Very interesting. Looks like that money-driven bounce Bush got from all those ads isn't reflected in this poll...

    Those gruesome pictures... 

    Well, what happened to those contractors shouldn't happen to anyone.

    But it also makes me think that maybe the Republican idea to privatize war as much as possible isn't all that fair to the people actually doing the work. Our service men and women take the oath of enlistment. But these guys were contractors—did they really know what they were signing up for, and does this country have a right to ask that of them? Even the Blackwater guys, I don't think they asked for this...

    UPDATE More from the Times of London on what to expect over the long, hot, Iraqi summer:

    "Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of the United States coalition force in Iraq, has just given a press conference to explain why US Marines didn't react immediately to yesterday's attacks on four American contractors. He's said that any response from the United States would have made a bad situation worse.

    "The General was today defending the decision not to go in to retrieve the bodies. He has told reporters that the it was established that the four contractors were dead, and that charging in could have resulted in more bloodshed.

    "It seems that there was also concern that the insurgents were patrolling the bodies and there was a genuine fear that there may have been some kind of boobytrap to kill more US troops had they gone in during or immediately after the attacks.

    "A Marine that a I spoke to today, who is based just outside Fallujah, said that the violence had not deterred American troops. He said that they were not afraid to go back in to the city. The Marines are gung-ho about that. They believe that these troubles are the result of a small minority of the people.

    "But many people in this city that I have spoken to are unrepentant. They say that American forces have threatened them ... and they want revenge.

    "There is a lot of hatred in Fallujah. They have had no aid, no assistance, there's major unemployment and the people have had enough. They're fighting back.

    "There's very much a feeling that this will be a blood vendetta. But the American coalition has laid down the gauntlet. They've said that the cycle of violence can end when those who perpetrated yesterday's acts are handed over to the authorities; or it can continue until they are found out.

    "General Kimmitt was quite firm and has said that there will be a response from the United States and in his words that response would be 'deliberate and precise and overwhelming'.

    Jobless claims fall very slightly while Bush lackies push Tinkerbelle theories on job creation 

    Wow. What a surprise.

    WASHINGTON -- The number of U.S. workers filing first-time applications for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, signifying little improvement in the country's long-battered job market.

    Initial jobless claims fell by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 342,000 in the week ended March 27, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average was unchanged at 340,250, the lowest level since the week after President Bush was inaugurated.
    (Dow JOnes Quicken)

    Look for Bush to puff the figures up, of course. Wonder if they've threatened to fire any Labor Department statistiticans yet?

    And here's the (faith-based) CW:

    "Two-and-a-half years into the economic recovery, the pace of job creation in the United States has been distressingly slow," Federal Reserve Governor Ben. S. Bernanke said this week. Still, he said, "I continue to believe [With Tinkerbelle?—Lambert] that steady improvement in the labor market over the remainder of this year is the most likely outcome."

    We don't.

    The labor market is flatlined for the very good reason that Bush and the Pioneers, Rangers, and CEOs who own him want it that way. (See "Jobs flatlined under Bush—a touch of the overseer's lash", back.

    Poll: Bush mishandling WOT 

    "You can fool some of the people some of the time..."

    Fewer than half of all Americans think the country is safer now than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and more than three-quarters expect the United States to be the target of a major terrorist attack at home or abroad in the next few months, according to a new poll.

    The survey findings come at a time when national security is a central issue in the presidential campaign, and after the Bush administration waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of fighting terrorism and making the United States safer from foreign threats. The findings follow by one year the creation of the Department of Homeland Security to better focus government resources on the task of keeping Americans safe at home. And they exist in an environment in which numerous buildings and airports have been fortified with security checkpoints to ward off potential attacks.

    "These numbers present a big challenge," said Patricia McGinnis, president of the council, "because less than 50 percent feel more safe today than they did after September 11, after all that's happened."

    A spokesman for the Bush administration's National Security Council declined to comment on the record on the survey results.

    The council commissioned the poll by Hart/Teeter Research as part of a larger homeland security initiative that included a series of town hall meetings and will result in recommendations on what government, citizens and businesses can do to improve the fight against terrorism.

    The survey numbers show that the country is making progress, McGinnis said.

    Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in homeland security issues, said despite the progress, President Bush and other policymakers should not find much comfort in the poll results.

    "If I were in the White House, I would be worried because the essence of what I'm arguing is that I am now safer than I was before," Daalder said. "The total money that we have spent on the war on terrorism writ large is well over $200 billion. And if I can't get people to see that we're safer, that either means that I'm not spending the money well or my message is not getting out or, in fact, they've given up. They don't think we can actually do much about it."
    (via WaPo)

    Looks like our war preznit has some 'splainin' to do....

    It would be interesting to have a red/blue breakdown of this, given that the big blue cities are the ones actually in danger, from a loose nuke or a dirty bomb, for example. What would the averages in this poll conceal?

    "Important but not urgent" 

    On 9/11, the very day Condi-lie-zza was scheduled to give a speech on that winger boondoggle, missile defense. You know, that faith-based program Bush wants to throw billions at without actually testing?

    On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.
    (via WaPo)


    It's great this information has come out, and of course the sleepy Times newsroom missed it, but why didn't this information come out when it was news?

    WhiteWash House seeking to pull Republican strings on 9/11 Commission through "ex parte" contacts 


    President Bush's top lawyer placed a telephone call to at least one of the Republican members of the Sept. 11 commission when the panel was gathered in Washington on March 24 to hear the testimony of former White House counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke, according to people with direct knowledge of the call.

    White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales called commissioner Fred F. Fielding, one of five GOP members of the body, and, according to one observer, also called Republican commission member James R. Thompson. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, wrote to Gonzales yesterday asking him to confirm and describe the conversations.

    Waxman said "it would be unusual if such ex parte contacts occurred" during the hearing. Waxman did not allege that there would be anything illegal in such phone calls. But he suggested that such contacts would be improper because "the conduct of the White House is one of the key issues being investigated by the commission."
    (via WaPo)

    Naturally, the topic of conversation was how to attack Clarke.

    I'm only surprised it took so long to come out. Are these guys clumsy, or what?

    Sad Realities of Cheap Labor Conservatism 

    "They said that President Bush's war in Iraq has cost the former Spanish Prime Minister his job. So President Bush isn't losing American jobs anymore, he's branching out to other countries."
    - Jay Leno

    "President Bush is now focusing on jobs. I think the one job he's focusing most on is his own. The White House is now backtracking from its prediction that 2.6 million new jobs will be created in the U.S. this year. They say they were off by roughly 2.6 million jobs." - Jay Leno

    Ha Ha! Funny. But really fuckin' sad too. And Rick Perlstein of the Village Voice explains why:

    Outsourcing and the sad little movement to stop it
    The Jobs of the Future Are a Thing of the Past

    Then there is garden-variety apathy. Recently an angry thread broke out on a listserv of tech workers in North Carolina after a company called Keane (slogan: "We Get IT Done") began boasting, on the underwriting ads it broadcasts on National Public Radio stations around the country, of its prowess at helping American companies move jobs overseas. A letter-writing campaign was proposed, and it shouldn't have been hard to achieve. NPR invites listeners to e-mail ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin front and center on its website; Dvorkin receives some 4,000 such missives a week. He's gotten all of five complaints about Keane's underwriting on NPR.

    The ancient, everyday anxieties of workers suddenly finding themselves dispensable in a "dynamic" economy may finally be making it onto the cover of Time magazine; but the kind of people who read Time are turning out not to be very effective advocates for their own anxieties. Part of the problem is structural. Unions could be doing more to help. But the way the law works in the United States, you can't join a union if you serve in a "managerial" capacity. Service-oriented companies respond by classifying more and more of their workers as "managers"—where Charlene used to work, the official ratio of "managers" to "managed" is an unlikely 20 to one. [ Much more to read: Read the whole article ]

    Unleash the missives! Fire away at NPR.

    "In his annual economic report to Congress President Bush said that the transfer of American jobs overseas is actually part of a positive transformation that will enrich the U.S. economy over time. So basically, losing your job to someone else can be a good thing. Of course we'll see how he feels about that in November." - Jay Leno

    Screw the Cheap Labor Laissez Faire Conservative Swindle!
    Unionize it!


    Wednesday, March 31, 2004

    Good night, moon. 

    It's been another good day, hasn't it?

    Oh. And after two glasses of wine at Cosi: "F.T.F."

    My equivalent of "Carthago delenda est." Readers, can you expand the acronym I have in mind?

    The Wreckovery: So where are the jobs? 

    Hey, "the economy" is doing great—it's just my personal economy that's screwed.

    Anyhow, the numbers don't look good for aWol:

    Job creation stalled surprisingly in the U.S. Midwest in March, a report showed on Wednesday, tempering optimism that Friday's national employment report will show hiring at last picking up.
    (via Reuters)

    Who's surprised? Not us.

    Why is it that every month for this entire recession, all the experts keep being surprised?

    See "Jobs flatlined under Bush—a touch of the overseer's lash", back.

    Bush is the new Nixon 

    Except that Nixon was altogether a better, braver man, and probably history will judge him a better President. Anyhow, "executive privilege" worked so well for Nixon, it looks like Bush is going to try it, too:

    Citing executive privilege, the White House refused to allow President Bush's chief health-policy adviser, Douglas Badger, to testify Thursday before the House Ways and Means Committee about early administration estimates that the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit would be far more costly than many lawmakers believed when they voted for it.

    White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the decision not to let Badger testify was justified by the longstanding principle that exempts assistants to the president from testifying before Congress.

    Executive privilege, while not mentioned specifically in the Constitution, has been recognized by the Supreme Court as necessary to, as Duffy put it, "preserve the White House's ability to get the best information possible and to speak candidly."

    Knight Ridder reported on March 11 that former Medicare administrator Thomas Scully threatened to fire his chief actuary, Richard Foster, if Foster shared the far higher estimate with members of Congress. The alleged firing threat, which Scully contends was not serious, sparked sharp bipartisan criticism from lawmakers, editorial writers and interest groups, as did the administration's effort to keep the higher cost figure out of the congressional debate. Lawmakers in prior years had free access to Foster's estimates.
    (via the San JoseMercury News)

    I love it when Republicans do things like claiming "I was only joking!" when they threaten to fire people. I mean, come on, where's your sense of humor? I know when my boss threatens to fire me, I just laugh along! Sheesh.

    And I really love it when the Bushies claim they want to "get the best information possible." Since they already know what they want to hear (faith-based intelligence on WMDs, cost of the Iraq, et cetera et cetera), what more information could they possibly need?

    And the best part of all is, Bush made all the same arguments on Condi, and then wussed out. So let's roll him on this issue too!

    Bush-pere Fights The Power 

    Words fail me:

    An emotional former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday defended his son's Iraq war and lashed out at White House critics.

    It is "deeply offensive and contemptible" to hear "elites and intellectuals on the campaign trail" dismiss progress in Iraq since last year's overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein the elder Bush said in a speech to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association annual convention.

    "There is something ignorant in the way they dismiss the overthrow of a brutal dictator and the sowing of the seeds of basic human freedom in that troubled part of the world," he said.

    The former president appeared to fight back tears as he complained about media coverage of the younger Bush that he called "something short of fair and balanced."

    "It hurts an awful lot more when it's your son that is being criticized than when they used to get all over my case," said Bush, who has often complained about media coverage of both Bush presidencies.


    The former president, who waged the first Gulf War (news - web sites) against Saddam in 1991, described progress in Iraq as "a miracle."

    "Iraq is moving forward in hope and not sliding back into despair and terrorism," he said.

    If you doubt that this is an actual story, as opposed to a spoof, here's the Reuters' link.

    There is much to be said about the ex-President Bush's emotions, and I intend to say them.* But not today. Not on a day when this happened.

    In fairness, Mr. Bush spoke yesterday, but the juxtaposition is still something of a cheap shot, I admit. Other possible cheap shots I could have taken but will refrain from can be found here, and here, and here, and here. Together, they suggest the train wreck toward which our occupation is steering the Iraqi people.

    So, no cheap shots, but how about an expensive one? Not costly to me, of course; costly beyond any of the easy measures by which we ordinarily count up pluses and minuses to the Iraqis whose experience it describes. It's a story that also involves tears.

    From Riverbend:

    At precisely 5 p.m., yesterday afternoon, my mother suddenly announced that we were going to go visit a friend of hers who had recently had a minor operation.


    Just as we were settling down, a figure sitting at the other end of the living room rose in a hurry. "Where are you going?!" cried out my mother's friend, Umm Hassen. She then turned to us and made a hasty introduction, "This is M.- she's a friend of the family… she's here to see Abu Hassen…"


    "How old are you,M. ?" My mother asked kindly. "Nineteen." Came the reply. "And are you studying? Which college are you in?" The girl blushed furiously as she explained that she was studying Arabic literature but postponed the year because… "Because she was detained by the Americans." Umm Hassen finished angrily, shaking her head. "She's here to see Abu Hassen because her mother and three brothers are still in prison."

    Read the whole thing to find out some part of what it means to be an occupied people.

    But don't think it's meant, by me, as an attack on the US military. It isn't. Our military personnel on the ground in Iraq are also victims of the maddening internal contradictions of both President Bushs' Iraqi policies, also a subject I intend to address in the near future.*

    An alternate title for this post - A Tale Of Two Sets of Tears?

    By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do was repeat, "I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry..." and a lot of other useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, "It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat me."

    For what it's worth, not much I know, I'm sorry, too, Riverbend, I'm so sorry...

    *An apology: I've previously referred to coming installments on specific topics that have never been posted; that has been due almost entirely to technological problems associated with my initiation into the world of the DSL connection. Though the problem is not entirely solved, I should be able to maintain a more regular presence and will try to make good on this and previous promises.

    Family Valuables 

    Bu$h Dynasty war profiteers roll in the loot.

    All in the (Profiteering) First Family
    By Margie Burns

    St. Louis-based Engineered Support Systems Inc. (EASI), where William H.T. Bush, an uncle of George W. Bush, joined the board of directors in 2000, is a major military contractor. Following the 2000 election and 9/11, the company, which declined to comment for this article, has seen its federal contracts, revenues, and stock price increase.

    Engineered Support Systems receives contracts from all branches of the military. The Defense Department listed EASI in its top 100 contractors in 2001, with $330 million in contracts; and in 2002, with $380 million in contracts. Estimates for 2003 are over $380 million.

    As luck would have it, company products include "Field Deployable Environmental Control Units" (FDECUs) to deal with weapons of mass destruction. On Jan. 17, 2003, the company announced orders from the Air Force and the Marines for these units, complete with Nuclear Biological Chemical Kits, in preparation for secret arsenals of WMDs hidden, the White House insisted, by Saddam Hussein.

    More on Bush family members profiting from war in Iraq. Full article HERE

    $$$ Update $$$

    Receives $16.3 Million Contract for Up-Armoring of Military Vehicles - 03/02/2004

    ST. LOUIS, March 2, 2004 -- Radian Inc. (Radian), a subsidiary of Engineered Support Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: EASI), has been awarded a $16.3 million, firm-fixed-price redetermination contract to provide 272 armor protection kits for the U.S. Army's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV). The U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Combat Support and Combat Services Support (PEO, CS&CSS) awarded the contract through the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) in Warren, Michigan, for Operational Unit Force Protection.


    The current order is expected to be completed by June 2004. The Company's Systems & Electronics Inc. facility at West Plains, Missouri, will be providing packaging for and shipment of the kits.



    Bush AWOL: $10,000 reward for eyewitness account still not claimed 

    Or if it has been, we haven't heard about it. Funny how this isn't a story, isn't it? (Back.)

    We didn't hear a peep on Bush's oddball Alabama dental records, either, did we? (Back, also) Now there's an unanswered question for the tinfoil hat crew....

    UPDATE Oh, and lest anyone (you know who you are) think this is a "Bush-hating" site, here is the link (back) that gives the Top 10 Reasons Not to Hate George Bush.

    So why a joint Bush/Cheney appearance in front of the 9/11 commission 

    There's no constitutional reason for it. In the midst of the furor over Condi-lie-zza, Josh Marshall asks the key questions:

    [1] The first -- and most generous -- explanation is that this is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions.

    [2] Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight.

    (It's a basic part of any criminal investigation -- which, of course, this isn't -- to interview everyone separately, precisely so that people can't jigger their stories into consistency on the fly.)

    [3] The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong.

    Gee, is the WhiteWash House scared that Bush's earpiece will get jammed?

    Readers, what do you think? 1, 2, 3—or some other explanation? Tinfoil hats optional....

    UPDATE Alert reader Brad points out:

    Hey, when he went on Russert he screwed up and promised to release all his Guard records. They can't trust him alone and unscripted.

    Words of the founders: the United States should not establish any religion 

    We've got to take this back from the enemies of freedom, the Fundamentalists.

    As farmer hammers home (back) the notion that the United States was founded as a "Godly" nation totally pins the bogometer, if we look at the historial record.

    And I wish the Fundamentalists would stop lying about this one. Isn't their faith strong enough to stand on its own? Anyhow:

    Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries," James Madison argued in 1784. "A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate" liberty, "needs them not." This future drafter of the Constitution wrote with some urgency. Patrick Henry was pushing a bill in the Virginia legislature that would dip into tax revenues to employ ministers from a variety of churches. The long struggle to determine the place of religion in American politics had begun.
    (via Michael Kazin in The Times)

    So Patrick Henry thought my tax money should pay for ministers, eh? Now I know why the theocon madrassa, Patrick Henry "University," (back) has the name that it does.

    Phew! Not just a slush fund for SICs who are also Republican operatives, like that Faith-based crapola Bush has been peddling, but full-fledged establishment of religion. That's what Patrick Henry wanted, and we seem to be fighting the same battle against ignorance, hypocrisy, and lust for power two hundred years on. Good thing history is on our side. We won then, and we'll win now.

    corrente SBL - New Location
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