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March 31, 2006

Cazzis

I wasn't gonna blog on this story of how Nino Scalia made an obscene gesture and remark while receiving communion because it seemed like just another example of the obscene and arrogant behavior typical of conservatives.

But now the archdiocese that plays host to this piece of scumbag that dares call himself a Supreme Court Justice is piling on to the shitstorm of hypocracy by firing the photographer for the mortal sin of telling the truth:

A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday.

Peter Smith, who had freelanced for The Pilot newspaper for a decade, lost the job yesterday after the Herald ran his photo on its front page. Smith said he has no regrets about releasing it.

“I did the right thing. I did the ethical thing,? said Smith, 51, an assistant photojournalism professor at Boston University.

Smith snapped the photo of Scalia flicking his hand under his chin after a Herald reporter asked the conservative jurist his response to people who question his impartiality on matters of church and state.

Smith wouldn’t give up the photo earlier this week but chose to release it when he learned Scalia said his gesture had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald. Smith, who was standing in front of the judge, said the Herald “got the story right.?

Welp, I guess it's safe to say that if I go to church next week and declare "fuck you in the ass" in church, I will be protected not only from criticism, but exposure, right?

March 30, 2006

"A Little Warning"

the raid by U.S. forces on a Shiite mosque, now the center of a huge clusterfuck, looked like it was the result of American dick-wagging:

The U.S. military was trying to send a "little reality jab" to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr when American and Iraqi troops raided a Shiite community center and shrine over the weekend, says a top U.S. military official.

The joint assault killed at least 16 people, most of them believed to be tied to Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army. U.S. officials insist the center was being used as a base for insurgent activities and was not a mosque. But many Iraqis say the complex did indeed include the Shiite equivalent of a mosque, and the raid has drawn harsh condemnation from Shiite politicians and prompted Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to launch an investigation.

The mayor of Baghdad promptly cut off cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, and Shiite politicians suspended their negotiations to form a new government. The U.S. military has long contemplated taking tougher steps against Sadr and his troublesome militia but has held off in the past because it did not want to antagonize his many fervent supporters. This raid, officials say, was intended as a reminder to Sadr of the U.S. military's reach in Iraq.

Is Mosul Next?

FIrst Fallujah was turned into a parking lot, then Tal Afar was converted into a prison. Is an operation in Mosul next?


Saadi Pire, until recently the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Mosul, says bluntly that the 12,000 police "are police by day and terrorists by night. They should all be dismissed and other police brought in from outside."

He thinks that Mosul, the northern capital of Iraq with a population of 1.7 million, could erupt at any moment. He points out that it is difficult to pacify because so much of Saddam Hussein's army - some 250,000 soldiers and 30,000 officers - was recruited from there.

General Muthafar Deirky, the ebullient commander of the 3rd Brigade, is more confident about the government's grip the city. He has been stationed there since 11 November 2004 when, in one of the least publicised disasters of the US occupation of Iraq, insurgents captured the city as the police and army deserted en masse. Some 11,000 weapons and vehicles worth $40m (£23m) were lost.

The American media was almost entirely embedded with the US Marines who were engaged in the bloody battle for Fallujah, population 350,000, so the outside world did not notice that the anti-American resistance had captured a city five times as large.
General Deirky, a peshmerga veteran, was called in a panic by the army commander in Baghdad who told him that "Mosul was under the control of terrorists". He gathered 700 men and, having fought off two ambushes, advanced into the city just in time to prevent the capture of the television station. He was dismayed to discover that out of an 1,800-strong Iraqi Army unit all but 30 Kurds had deserted.

Vete a la verga

Fellow freeper Darren Bernard pens a non-inflammatory op-ed today extolling the virtues of a guest-worker program.

Considering the issue itself, I'd favor the guest worker program IF we actually have a surplus of jobs. It's not jobs that Americans don't want, it's jobs that employers don't pay Americans enough to do. That's why they employ illegals to drive down the wages.

In any case, this whole "illegal imm-i-gants" schpiel is just to distract discontented conservatives from the disasters in Iraq and in the Medicare bill, and that's just that. Someday Darren Bernard and his other freeper buddies will have to contend with those simple facts, or be discredited for a long time.

March 29, 2006

The "I Didn't Do It" President

ididntdoit.jpg


Worst President Ever blames Iraq violence on O-Saddam Bin Laden:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein, not continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence that is threatening the formation of a democratic government.

In his third speech this month to bolster public support for the war, Bush worked to counter critics who say the U.S. presence in the wartorn nation is fueling the insurgency.

Bush said that Saddam was a tyrant and used violence to exacerbate sectarian divisions to keep himself in power, and that as a result, deep tensions persist to this day.

"The enemies of a free Iraq are employing the same tactics Saddam used, killing and terrorizing the Iraqi people in an effort to foment sectarian division," Bush said.

Maybe later I'll find out that this is an Onion article instead of real life.

Baghdadinople

Howard Kaloogian, the Republican heir-apparent to Duke Cunningham's seat in San Diego, posted this picture up on his website in an attempt to counter the criticisms that the war in Iraq is failing:

DowntownBaghdad.jpg

Gee, look how nice, pristine and peaceful the Baghad street looks like, notice the yellow taxi, the underdressed woman, the lack of blast walls, the Roman letterings,

waitaminute, there are no Roman letterings in Iraq, unless the signs were specifically in English. There's also a cedilla on the "s" in "carsin" and "noter" is not an arabic word. That would mean that the image posted on the website is from (*drumroll*)

119848830_edb9682dc4.jpg

Turkey!

Or specifically, the suburb of Istanbul called Bakirkoy, where the Turks had abandoned the Arabic script for a modified version of the Roman alphabet in order to better accomodate their language (or as claimed by Kemal). I know, lying Republicans are a dime a dozen, but this one is pretty brazen on its face.

March 28, 2006

Bush "Doesn't Want, Doesn't Support, Doesn't Accept" Purple Fingers

I guess those racist nebulous figures who keep saying Muslims are not capable of forming democracies are actually influening Worst President Ever's policies is just him projecting again:

Shiites Say U.S. Is Pressuring Iraqi Leader to Step Aside By EDWARD WONG BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 28 — Senior Shiite politicians said today that the American ambassador has told Shiite officials to inform the Iraqi prime minister that President Bush does not want him to remain the country's leader in the next government.

It is the first time the Americans have directly intervened in the furious debate over the country's top job, the politicians said, and it is inflaming tensions between the Americans and some Shiite leaders.

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting last Saturday to pass a "personal message from President Bush" on to the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who the Shiites insist should stay in his post for four more years, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite politician and member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on the issue of the candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

An American Embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Khalilzad and Mr. Hakim had met, but declined to comment directly on what they had spoken about.

The Americans have harshly criticized the Jaafari government in recent months for supporting Shiite militias that have been fomenting sectarian violence and pushing Iraq closer to full-scale civil war. Ambassador Khalilzad has sharpened his attacks in the last week, saying the militias are now killing more people than the Sunni-led insurgency.

There is growing concern among American officials that Mr. Jaafari is incapable of reining in the private armies, especially since Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric who leads the most volatile of the militias, is Mr. Jaafari's strongest backer.

Haider al-Ubady, a spokesman for Mr. Jaafari, said the prime minister had heard of the ambassador's verbal message through officials in his party, and accused the Americans of trying to subvert Iraqi sovereignty and weaken the Shiite ranks.

"How can they do this?" Mr. Ubady said. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

"The perception is very strong among certain Shia parties that the U.S., led by Khalilzad, is trying to unseat Jaafari," he added.

The American Embassy spokeswoman, Elizabeth Colton, confirmed that the ambassador did see Mr. Hakim on Saturday. The two meet regularly to discuss Iraq's political situation.

"The decisions about the choice of the prime minister are entirely up to the Iraqis," Ms. Colton said. "This will be an Iraqi decision."

March 23, 2006

Finally, A Breath Of Fresh Air

More of this please:

PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island education officials have banned from public schools a federally funded abstinence program that civil rights advocates said embraced sexist stereotypes and included a voluntary student health survey that violated privacy laws.

Lawyers at the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union first complained last year that a now-abandoned textbook used by Heritage of Rhode Island taught students that girls should wear clothing that doesn't invite "lustful thoughts" from boys. The book described men as "strong" and "courageous" while women were called "caring."

A speaker on an accompanying videotape said abstinence helped him "honor my relationship with Jesus," although Heritage officials said the tape wasn't used in public schools.

"The curriculum had these incredible sexist viewpoints about men and women and boys and girls that seemed to come out of the nineteenth century," said Steven Brown, executive director of the state's ACLU.

Damn. . .Those Democrats Are More Powerful Than I Thought

Bill Frist sent this in an e-mail to supporters:

“The Democrat alternative to Republican efforts to restrain spending is clear: Continue to spend beyond our means, mortgaging our children’s future by saddling them with a debt of $8 trillion … and continue to ratchet up taxes to pay for their fiscal irresponsibility, stifling the American economy,? Frist wrote.

That's despite the fact that Republicans have controlled Congress since 1994 (the brief respite in the Senate notwithstanding).

And that's after Bill Frist voted to add $7 billion to unspecified social programs, increasing our debt.

I was almost conflicted whether to label this post "Conservative Politics" or "Crooks and Liars," but we all know when it comes to conservatives, there are no distinguishing the two.

Why Have A Congress?

That's what Bernard says in his latest tongue bath to the Bush administration concerning the seemingly aborted ports deal with Dubai. Why must he and his kind be so hopelessly out of the maintstream?

It's clever how Bernard starts off his column with Senator Chuck Schumer's comparison of the U.A.E. with skinheads, despite the fact that the U.A.E. refuses to recognize Israel. And it's funny how he decries the use of the terror boogieman to scuttle the deal when he of all people knows too well how Bush and his ilk used terrorism to scare people into voting for them and supporting their disaster in Eye-Rack. It is said that the definition of chuzpah is a child who kills both his parents and demands sympathy because he's an orphan. The way Bernard and his kind cannot find the irony within their arguement amounts to genocide.

Nevermind the fact that Dubai is a notorious smuggler and that the royal family had ties to Osama Bin Laden, making their scrutiny justified. What takes the cake, and reveals the omnousness of these right-wing radicals, is the fact that he insists that Congress (while citing their corruption and inefficiency without mentioning that it's fully controlled by Republicans) should be kept out of deals like these, despite the fact that Constitution gives Congress the power to control commerce. This concentration of power to the executive, aided and abetted by these Bushbots should be troubling to us all.


"Why Can't The Liberal Bush-Hatin' Media Report The Good News In Eye-Rack"?

Yesterday, brownshirt radio personality Laura Ingraham appeared on the Today Show in order to slam the media for their lack of coverage of the "good stories" coming from the war zone and implies that they are too cowardly to do so. NBC Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel quicky responds by showing us what reporters have to go though in order to get any kind of story (which includes leaving the balcony) and Keith Olbermann provides the appropriate put-down of such a craven harpie.

We all know that the warmongers have only the troops to hide behind which is why they are shrill in their criticism of the media in order for them to showcase stories that fit their biases. But Jack Tapper, the ABC News correspondent in Baghdad, provides a harrowing example of how such a feel-good story can quickly turn awry in the New Eye-Rack:

Struck by this phenomenon, my producers and I called Iraqi TV and spoke to Amjad Hamid, the manager of the entertainment division. He seemed very proud of a new sitcom set to debut next month. In 15 half-hour episodes, "Me and Layla" - starring Odei Abdel-Sattar, an Iraqi Danny DeVito - will show the misadventures of a hapless Romeo. Hamid invited us to visit the set to interview the producer, director and actors. He was convinced that what they were trying to do was important.

. . .For us, it was a chance to cover something besides car bombs, carnage and body counts. That perhaps understandable focus as well as concerns for our own security have clearly hindered the ability of journalists to tell stories about Iraqi society, about the less obvious ways that Iraqis are trying to rebuild their country.

. . .For us, it was a chance to cover something besides car bombs, carnage and body counts. That perhaps understandable focus as well as concerns for our own security have clearly hindered the ability of journalists to tell stories about Iraqi society, about the less obvious ways that Iraqis are trying to rebuild their country.

. . .Yet tragedy still has a way of rearing its head.

We had been on the set for less than an hour when Mustafa got a phone call that clearly upset him. Grabbing Abed-Jasim by the arm, Mustafa took him aside and told him that gunmen had assassinated Hamid, the entertainment-division chief, outside his Baghdad home just minutes earlier.

The director told the cast and crew. Shock and grief turned to terror. Everyone on the set immediately became restless, anxious. Eyes moist with tears began darting about the street. Iraqi TV is widely perceived as being pro-Shiite and pro-government; the Sunni-leaning Baghdad TV had just had one of its anchors shot and killed a few days before. Not that any of the violence in today's Iraq needs a reason.

Mustafa told the crew to break down; within minutes everyone had jumped into cars and minivans and fled. My crew and I weren't far behind. Iraqi TV put a black band of mourning on the top left corner of its screen and spent much of the rest of the day covering Hamid's funeral.

It is American journalists' duty to try to look at the broader picture in Iraq - telling the stories about those brave souls who seek to restore normalcy and laughter into the daily routine here. But there is no denying that the horrific violence will often make that task impossible.

March 21, 2006

"You Can't Distinguish Between Al-Qaeda And Saddam Ahmadinejad"

This steaming pile of liquid coprolite sounds sadly familiar to what the Worst President Ever said in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Some U.S. Officials Fear Iran Is Helping Al Qaeda They say intelligence suggests that the regime lets key figures plot. But the picture is cloudy. By Josh Meyer, Times Staff Writer March 21, 2006

WASHINGTON — U.S. intelligence officials, already focused on Iran's potential for building nuclear weapons, are struggling to solve a more immediate mystery: the murky relationship between the new Tehran leadership and the contingent of Al Qaeda leaders residing in the country.

Some officials, citing evidence from highly classified satellite feeds and electronic eavesdropping, believe the Iranian regime is playing host to much of Al Qaeda's remaining brain trust and allowing the senior operatives freedom to communicate and help plan the terrorist network's operations.

And they suggest that recently elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be forging an alliance with Al Qaeda operatives as a way to expand Iran's influence or, at a minimum, that he is looking the other way as Al Qaeda leaders in his country collaborate with their counterparts elsewhere.

"Iran is becoming more and more radicalized and more willing to turn a blind eye to the Al Qaeda presence there," a U.S. counter-terrorism official said.

The article was careful in juxaposing these charges to the ones made three years ago regarding Iraq, and in reporting that other officials believe that a Shiite government would ever cooperate with an ultraorthodox Hanbalist Sunni organization that regards Shiites as apostates, but still they made this into a major story. Shame on them.

Worst President Ever

Bush's only exit strategy out of Eye-Rack appears to be having other adults clean up his messes:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Tuesday refused to give a timetable for the pullout of American troops from Iraq and suggested they many remain there beyond his term in office.

Asked about full troop withdrawal from Iraq, Bush told a news conference: "That of course is an objective and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."

He reiterated that troop withdrawal decisions would be made by commanders on the ground.

I think this has GOT to be the first time that any president has deliberately relegated the finishing of a war to future presidents. Neither Truman, Kennedy, Johnson or Clinton has come out and made public their desires that their successors finish what they started.

He has made it clear. If we are going to win this war, or at least reach a definite conclusion, it will not be with this small, small, leadership deficient little man.

How Unpopular Is Darth Cheney?

What about so unpopular that the candidate he raised $400,000 for can't be in the same room as him:

Cheney, but no candidate, at fundraiser NEWARK, N.J., March 21 (UPI) -- Democrats are saying U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is so unpopular that a candidate he raised funds for didn't appear at the event until Cheney had left.

"It's true that Dick Cheney is radioactive and it's true that his political affliction is contagious," New Jersey Democratic Party spokesman Richard McGrath told The New York Times.

By other standards the fundraiser was a success -- raising about $400,000 for the campaign of state Sen. Thomas Kean Jr., R-Union. Kean is running against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and is fighting a substantial deficit in fundraising, the Times said.

Kean said he wasn't able to get to the Monday early evening event because he was voting on several issues in Trenton. He arrived, having taken perhaps not the most direct route, the Times said, about 15 minutes after Cheney left.

Democrats said it was so Kean wouldn't be photographed with Cheney; Republicans pointed to the New Jersey Senate schedule.

The Times said that Cheney's trip to New Jersey for the fundraiser was an indication that the Senate seat isn't completely safe for the Democrats.

He's Got My Vote

No need to wait for the Democratic primary, Russ Feingold says what finally needs to be said:

Shades of October 2002. These are the same pundits, consultants, and spin miesters who said you've gotta vote for the Iraq war or George Bush is going to hang you out to dry and he's gonna show that you don't care about the troops and you don't care about the fight against terrorism.

They pull it every time. And the Democratic insiders in Washington and the consultants fall for it every time. They don't realize that the thing that bugs people about the Democratic party right now is that we don't seem to stand strongly enough for what we believe in.

How can we be afraid at this point, of standing up to a president who has clearly mismanaged this Iraq war, who clearly made one of the largest blunders in American foreign policy history? How can it be that this party wants to stand back and allow this kind of thing to happen?

And then add to that the idea that the president has clearly broken the law --- and a number of Republican senators have effectively admitted that, by saying "you know, we need this program so let's make it legal," --- so they are admitting it's illegal.

The idea that Democrats don't think it's a winning thing to say that we will stand up for the rule of law and for checking abuse of power by the executive --- I just can't believe that Democrats don't think that isn't something, not only that we can win on, but it does, in fact, make the base of our party, which is so important, feel much better about the Democrats. The Republicans care deeply about making the base of their party feels energized. What about the people of our party who believe in the Democratic Party especially because they fight for the American values of standing up for our rights and civil liberties?

Sure, Feingold went ahead with his censure resolution without consulting the rest of the Democrats, but too many of them acted in a way that he predicted: by calling for more investigations when Pat Roberts had already effectively shut it down on March 7th. If the other Democratic candidates do not realize that they are in no position to be overly cautious, then they really have learned nothing.

John Yoo Was Against Dictatorial Powers Before He Was For It

I meant to blog on this when it first came out, but here's John Yoo, infamous and outspoken architech of the "theories" the Bush gang is using to justify their expanded presidential powers, on the prospect of Bill Clintoon ever exercising that option:

President Clinton exercised the powers of the imperial presidency to the utmost in the area in which those powers are already at their height — in our dealings with foreign nations. Unfortunately, the record of the administration has not been a happy one, in light of its costs to the Constitution and the American legal system. On a series of different international relations matters, such as war, international institutions, and treaties, President Clinton has accelerated the disturbing trends in foreign policy that undermine notions of democratic accountability and respect for the rule of law.

John C. Yoo, The Imperial President Abroad, in Roger Pilon, ed., The Rule of Law in the Wake of Clinton 159 (2000)

So instead of a wrongheaded academic, he's been exposed as a shameless partisan. Quell surprise.

March 19, 2006

Feeling Depressed? Let's Ship You Back To Iraq!

Wow, what's next? Are we going to mine amputees for warm bodies too before we enact a politically unpopular draft?

Some troops headed back to Iraq are mentally ill

By Rick Rogers
STAFF WRITER

March 19, 2006

Besides bringing antibiotics and painkillers, military personnel nationwide are heading back to Iraq with a cache of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

The psychotropic drugs are a bow to a little-discussed truth fraught with implications: Mentally ill service mem-bers are being returned to combat.

The redeployments are legal, and the service members are often eager to go. But veterans groups, lawmakers and mental-health professionals fear that the practice lacks adequate civilian oversight. They also worry that such redeployments are becoming more frequent as multiple combat tours become the norm and traumatized service members are retained out of loyalty or wartime pressures to maintain troop numbers.

Sen. Barbara Boxer hopes to address the controversy through the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, which is expected to start work next month. The California Democrat wrote the legislation that created the panel. She wants the task force to examine deployment policies and the quality and availability of mental-health care for the military.

“We've also heard reports that doctors are being encouraged not to identify mental-health illness in our troops. I am asking for a lot of answers,? Boxer said during a March 8 telephone interview. “If people are suffering from mental-health problems, they should not be sent on the battlefield.?

Stress reduces a person's chances of functioning well in combat, said Frank M. Ochberg, a psychiatrist for 40 years and a founding member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

“I have not seen anything that says this is a good thing to use these drugs in high-stress situations. But if you are going to be going (into combat) anyway, you are better off on the meds,? said Ochberg, a former consultant to the Secret Service and the National Security Council. “I would hope that those with major depression would not be sent.?

Wow, I Sure Feel Safe

After five years of fearmongering, this is what we got to show for it:

Airline screeners fail government bomb tests 21 airports nationwide don’t detect bomb-making materials

By Lisa Myers, Rich Gardella & the NBC Investigative Unit
NBC News
Updated: 1:53 p.m. ET March 17, 2006

WASHINGTON - Imagine an explosion strong enough to blow a car's trunk apart, caused by a bomb inside a passenger plane. Government sources tell NBC News that federal investigators recently were able to carry materials needed to make a similar homemade bomb through security screening at 21 airports.

In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one discovered the materials.

NBC News briefed former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 commission, on the results.

"I'm appalled," he said. "I'm dismayed and, yes, to a degree, it does surprise me. Because I thought the Department of Homeland Security was making some progress on this, and evidently they're not."

Investigators for the Government Accountability Office conducted the tests between October and January, at the request of Congress. The goal was to determine how vulnerable U.S. airlines are to a suicide bomber using cheap, readily available materials.

Investigators found recipes for homemade bombs from easily available public sources and bought the necessary chemicals and other materials over the counter. For security reasons, NBC News will not reveal any of the ingredients or the airports tested. The report itself is classified. But Lee Hamilton, the vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the fact that so many airports failed this test is a hugely important story that the American traveler is entitled to know.

NBC News asked a bomb technician to gather the same materials and assemble an explosive device to determine its power. The materials for the bomb that exploded a car's trunk fit in the palm of one hand. NBC News showed the results to Leo West, a former FBI bomb expert.

"Potentially, an explosion of that type could lead to the destruction of the aircraft," said West.

The Transportation Security Administration would not comment on the tests Thursday (NOTE: The TSA did comment Friday. To read that story, click here), but issued a statement to NBC News, saying "detecting explosive materials and IEDs at the checkpoint is TSA's top priority." The agency also said screeners are now receiving added training to help identify these materials.

That’s not soon enough for Tom Kean.

"They need to do it yesterday," Kean said, "because we haven’t got time."

Given hardened cockpit doors and other improvements, experts say explosives now are the gravest threat posed by terrorists in the sky.

Lisa Myers is NBC's senior investigative correspondent.

Can't these morons do ANYTHING right?

"A Few Bad Apples"

I don't know what to say anymore, I truly don't

March 19, 2006

Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees
By ERIC SCHMITT and CAROLYN MARSHALL

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

. . .The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.

It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp.

Yosemite Sam Yells "Boogah! Boogah!"

The unelected embarrassment of an ambassador to the UN Josh Bolton is now comparing the "threat" coming from Iran to 9/11. Do these people have any shame at all?

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on Wednesday compared the threat from Iran's nuclear programs to the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

"Just like September 11, only with nuclear weapons this time, that's the threat. I think that is the threat," Bolton told ABC News' Nightline program.

"I think it's just facing reality. It's not a happy reality, but it's reality and if you don't deal with it, it will become even more unpleasant."

Bolton ratcheted up the rhetoric as the five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council failed again to reach agreement on how to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions after a fifth round of negotiations.


March 18, 2006

The New Afghanistan: Now WITHOUT Stadium Beheadings

This is the fruit of WorstPresidentInTheWorld's efforts in "liberating" Afghanistan?

Afghan Man Faces Execution After Converting to Christianity By Benjamin Sand Kabul 18 March 2006

An Afghan man who recently admitted he converted to Christianity faces the death penalty under the country's strict Islamic legal system. The trial is a critical test of Afghanistan's new constitution and democratic government.

The case is attracting widespread attention in Afghanistan, where local media are closely monitoring the landmark proceedings.

Abdul Rahman, 40, was arrested last month, accused of converting to Christianity.

Under Afghanistan's new constitution, minority religious rights are protected but Muslims are still subject to strict Islamic laws.

And so, officially, Muslim-born Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and not for practicing Christianity.

Appearing in court earlier this week Rahman insisted he should not be considered an infidel, but admitted he is a Christian.

He says he still believes in the almighty Allah, but cannot say for sure who God really is. "I am," he says, "a Christian and I believe in Jesus Christ."

Rahman reportedly converted more than 16 years ago after spending time working in Germany.

Officials say his family, who remain observant Muslims, turned him over to the authorities.

On Thursday the prosecution told the court Rahman has rejected numerous offers to embrace Islam.

Prosecuting attorney Abdul Wasi told the judge that the punishment should fit the crime.

He says Rahman is a traitor to Islam and is like a cancer inside Afghanistan. Under Islamic law and under the Afghan constitution, he says, the defendant should be executed.

The court has ordered a delay in the proceedings to give Rahman time to hire an attorney.

Under Afghan law, once a verdict is given, the case can be appealed twice to higher courts.

This is the first case in which the defendant has admitted to converting and is refusing to back down, even while facing the death penalty.

If convicted, the case could ultimately force President Hamid Karzai's direct intervention.

The president would have to sign the papers authorizing Rahman's execution, a move that could jeopardize Mr. Karzai's standing with human rights groups and Western governments.

So far, President Karzai has not commented on the case.

But political analysts here in Kabul say he will be under significant pressure from the country's hard-line religious groups to make an example of Rahman.

Hmm, looks like Babs and Karen Hughes didn't give them a stern enough talking to.

Support Our Troops With Propoganda

According to Time an army unit in Iraq received a $15,000 plasma television so that they can watch the Worst President Ever do his daily briefings. The problem is that the TVs kept breaking down so they got nine replacements. Yes, they complain about the conspicuous lack of armor, but instead they get their daily dose of Bush.

So even the neocon fuckwits who got us into this quagmire in the first place are now admitting the war will cost us over a trillion dollars (a cost I could have predicted FOUR YEARS AGO) but they can only afford high-definition propoganda? The incompetence of these people go beyond mere words.

The firewalled article is here, Michael Moore reprinted it.

Get Used To Decisions Like These

Since the courts are filled with Bushbots of all kinds:

The state would be within its rights to issue specialty license plates reading "Choose Life" while denying a plate encouraging abortion rights, a U.S. appeals court ruled yesterday.

Messages on Tennessee license plates are government speech, not a public forum as the American Civil Liberties Union argued, the majority decision of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

While one-sidedness may be "ill-advised" on politically charged issues like abortion, the court ruled there's nothing in the First Amendment that prohibits it.

These would be interesting times to be a law student.

How Are Republicans Tough On National Security

Tough enough to deny funding for port security, apparently.

So these morons would like a war to prevent a nooklular Iran, but can't give 2 squirts of piss about protecting our own country? If we had an opposition party, Republicanism would have been a dead letter a long time ago.

Via Kevin Drum

Operation: Save Falling Poll Numbers

Time reporter Brian Bennet reports that Operation:Swarmer is 100 percent hype with little results:

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

The operation, which doubled the population of the flat farmland in one single airlift, was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces, says Lt Col Skip Johnson commander of the 187 Battallion, 3rd Combat Brigade of the 101st Airborne. "They have the lead," he said to reporters at the second stop of the tour. But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers. Iraqi Army General Abdul Jabar says that Samarra-based insurgent leader Hamad el Taki of Mohammad’s Army was thought to be in the area, and Iraqi intelligence officers were still working to compare known voice recordings and photographs with the prisoners in custody.

With the Interior Ministry's Samarra commando battalion, the soldiers had found some 300 individual pieces of weaponry like mortars, rockets and plastic explosives in six different locations inside the sparsely populated farming community of over 50 square miles and about 1,500 residents. The raids also uncovered high-powered cordless telephones used as detonators in homemade bombs, medical supplies and insurgent training manuals.

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.

Typical, just typical. What a way to celebrate the third anniversary of Bush's Excellent Disaster, by shamelessly recreating the Shock 'n Awe videogame theatrics that hypnotized the public and the news media in the beginning?

Back to Iraq has more.

March 17, 2006

Why Not Just Give Him A Crown Already

Glenn Greenwald reports that Mike Dewine of Ohio introduced a bill yesterday that will make the illegal wiretapping the president is doing, well, legal:

Michael DeWine yesterday introduced what he is calling The Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (.pdf), co-sponsored by those independent maverick Republicans Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel and Lindsay Graham. The purpose of the bill is to render legal the illegal warrantless eavesdropping program ordered by the President more than 4 years ago. This bill is based upon the Richard Nixon Theory of Executive Infallibility, famously expressed in Nixon's 1977 interview with David Frost:


FROST: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

FROST: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position.

He describes a whole bunch of provisions that are horrifying, like the president can spy on a whole group of people based on the suspicion of one person, and the president can spy based on political beliefs, just as long as it isn't the sole reason.

The Democrats who were so craven in the face of Feingold's censure resolution can redeem themselves by filibustering the hell out of this bill if it ever comes to vote. If they allow this to become law, I will boycott every Democratic election as long as I live, because what is the point if both parties are going to roll over for a dictatorship?

They Don't Care About Us

news03132006003.jpg
America's Nightmare

Here is what seven-year-old Autumn Ashante recited when she was invited to speak at some middle-schoolers in New York:

Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse. They took the gold, the wisdom and all the storytellers. They took the black women, with the black man weak. Made to watch as they changed the paradigm of our village. Yeah white nationalism is what put you in bondage. Pirates and vampires like Columbus, Morgan and Darwin.

Yeah, I wish I was a tenth that eloquent when I was her age (and then some). Yet the price for her eloquence was her "unofficial banning" by the district from ever performing again. Good thing the education system are imposing a testing regime on the black kids, or else they might start noticing the disparate power structure for themselves and question how it got to this point.

When Fashionable Ethnic Groups Go Bad

I remember when the plight of the Kurds was cynically used to pull at our heartstrings in order to support the war to further enslave the Iraqi people, but how will the warmongers explain this?

HALABJA, Iraq, March 16 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Kurdish protesters destroyed a memorial to the 1988 gas attack in the Iraqi town of Halabja on Thursday, setting the museum ablaze on the 18th anniversary of the deaths of 5,000 local people.

A hospital official said one man was shot dead when a gathering to commemorate the attack turned into a protest over poor local services.

A local journalist working for Reuters said he saw police and Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen fire shots to disperse the protesters after they rampaged through the one-storey, circular museum that serves as a potent reminder of the 1988 attack.

..."The Kurdish government exploited Halabja to draw world attention to the plight of the Kurds and get donations that have never reached us," one angry protester said.

Witnesses said residents had gathered outside the museum to mark the attack but began shouting angrily when Shahu Mohammad Saed, a representative of the Kurdish government, appeared.

Residents complain many buildings in Halabja are dilapidated and that electricity and water supplies are poor. They said the museum was the only new building to have been constructed in the town by the regional government in more than a decade.

People stormed into the museum, pulling down ceilings and smashing displays reconstructing the gas attack. One rioter used a metal chair to smash the polished black stone memorial bearing the names of each of the 5,000 victims.

If the war can't control the Kurds, what is under control?

March 15, 2006

Do You Think The Democrats Will Save Us?

The Daily Show sketch last night had Paul Hackett and Ed Helms lampooning the Beltway Democrats who torpedoed his Senate run by having the DSCC back Sherrod Brown by mocking the way they and their pathetic consultants discourage outspokeness in their candidates and instead advise them to take safe positions ("I'm Paul Hackett, and I'm for small children and puppy dogs.") and allow the Republicans to implode on their own. Ed Helms had me rolling when he said (paraphrasing) "I once had a fight with a bum, and even though he was pummeling me with an empty liquor bottle I waited until he hit himself. Sure enough he did and I won that fight, although I was unconscious at the time."

That sketch fit into the same thread as the hoopla over Russ Feingold's censure proposal that had the Democrats scurrying in their usual fashion. Perhaps Feingold asked the Democratic leadership in the Senate if he could go ahead with his censure proposal before he went public, and I think Harry Reid and others discouraged him, taking away the opportunity for other Democrats to coordinate their message and remain unified. If the Democrats retake the Congress this fall, it won't be the doing of the ones that are in office right now.

The problem right now is that the Democrats in Washington have been change-averse for a long time, and have lost a lot of the ideals that one would think you need to run the country. This story by Eric Blumrich tells the sad tale:

At this conference, there were 20-something veterans who had served in no less than three major campaigns- and lemme tell ya- they knew it ALL...

They all had doctorate degrees- they came from all over the country, but had emerged into the world of politics, fresh from places like George Washington U. These were to be the inheritors of the political establishment.

And they had no souls.

Looking into their eyes, was looking into the windows of an abandoned house. When you spoke to them about matters of import, they would spew their talking points, by rote, devoid of any passion, or care. I wish I could say that this cold indifference was exclusive to the republican side, but alas, the democrats were equally empty:

Me: Why doesn't the democratic party just come out, and say the obvious- that we were lied into a war against Iraq, and it was a mistake, from the beginning?

Democratic neophyte: Well, the issue is far more complex, than just that, and we just don't have the time to re-hash old issues- we try to keep focused on what's down the road.

Me: Old Issue? There was another car bombing over there, just today! Last month, we lost 58 soldiers!

Democratic neophyte: And we abhor that, of course, but that's not germane to the issue...

Me: Say what now?

Democratic neophyte: It all boils down to the reality that a lot of finger-pointing gets us nowhere, in relation to this issue.

Me: I'm sorry, but that's just f**ked up- the democrats need to stand up, like John Edwards did, admit that voting for the war was a mistake, and tackle the republicans head-on.

Democratic neophyte: Again, we don't like to dwell on old issues- right now, we have to be focused on success in Iraq, blah, blah, blah, quack, quack, quack.

And so it went.

When you pressed them on any issue- poverty- healthcare- war- education- they would obfuscate, re-contextualize, and natter on and on in a bizarre washington dialect that has high on syllables, but empty of substance.

I finally realized that to them, this was just a job- like the marketing desk jockeys in their power ties that made life on the train nearly unbearable, these folks were in the business of selling war, greed, and lie after grotesque, murderous lie to the american public. They were there, not because they particularly cared about the issues that are so vital to the american people- they just saw politics as a big advertising agency from which they could retire at 40, and spend their remaining years serving as "policy expert" talking heads on CNN or Fox.

What was most frightening, was the rigid orthodoxy in thought and demeanor that was present, in every one of these future movers and shakers of our democracy. I mean no joke, or irony, when I say that it reminded me of "Invasion of the body snatchers"- and the pods are apparently being distributed, widely.

What do you expect from a bunch of politicians and the political establishment who don't even care enough about the city they do business in? This is why real substantive change is going to take more than one election.

Update: It appears that Feingold never consulted with the leadership about his plan because they would have "developed a strategy to blunt it". Well, that's a pretty good reason to go out with it alone, but I wish the Democrats will just sit down and create a strategy and not look like chickens with their heads cut off.

March 14, 2006

From A Times Staff Writer

During Bush's Save My Approval Ratings speaking campaign, he blamed an LA Times report describing a new device to neutralize IEDs for helping "the enemy". Well, it turns out that the article was very circumspect, was only very general in its description and did not reveal any technical details of the device.

The article did not provide specific information about the technology, and The Times deliberately withheld some details about the neutralizers from its report.

"We knew about some of the technical details of the program, but voluntarily omitted them because they were not germane to the story," Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus said.

The Times spoke to several Defense Department officials before the article appeared. None expressed concern that publication could endanger U.S. troops.

Even before The Times published its article, the technology was featured in several news reports. Last year, NBC News broadcast a segment about the neutralizers, showing video footage of the device detonating improvised explosives in its path.

"We do not knowingly publish information that puts troops in danger," McManus said. "The government often asks us not to publish sensitive facts. They made no such request in this case."

Before Bush mentioned the report Monday, no U.S. officials had contacted The Times to raise those concerns.

"No one in the U.S. government came to us after the story was published to complain about it," McManus said. "Even now, no official complaint has been made directly to us."

But what is most interesting is that the person writing this article decided not to use his or her name on the byline. Are they really THAT afraid of the Bushies?

How To Cheat On NCLB In 3 Easy Steps:

1. Give third-grade test to third graders

2. Give same third-grade tests to fourth graders

3. Combine number of third and fourth-graders who passed the test and report yourself as a "miracle school".

via Atrios.

Modern Religion In A Nutshell: If You Don't Do As I Say, You're Going To Hell (Booga! Booga!)

Jerry Falwell clearing up any misconceptions on what he feels about Jews:

Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue....

Like the Apostle Paul, I pray daily for the salvation of everyone, including the Jewish people.

via Americablog

March 13, 2006

Color Me Surprised

Gas prices up even as crude goes lower High demand and government rules mean they'll stay up

Monday, March 13, 2006; Posted: 2:35 a.m. EST (07:35 GMT) .

The hike obliterates the 9-cent drop that had begun January 20, said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey.

"Those five weeks of declines were due largely to our being at the bottom of our gasoline-demand curve," she said.

The price rise came even as the cost of a barrel of crude fell from $62.91 on February 24 to $59.96 last Friday -- a 7-cent-per-gallon drop.

Lundberg said an expected increased demand for gasoline in the spring and new government gasoline formulation requirements conspired to drive up prices at the pump.

Prices are not likely to fall any time soon, she said.

"With our demand building and those new recipe requirements coming into effect, gas prices will most likely surge much higher," she predicted.

Could it get any more obvious?

Why Does The Guy I Just Poisoned Look So Sick?

Some Republicans are just so appalled that fear of A-rabs would torpedo the Dubai ports deal:


GOP lawmakers: Fear fueled ports criticism
United Arab Emirates
By LARA SUKHTIAN
Associated Press Writer

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Four U.S. legislators visiting this city at the heart of a collapsed ports management deal stressed Sunday the United Arab Emirates remained one of America's strongest allies in the fight against terrorism.

The deal gave the Emirates-based Dubai Ports World control of six U.S. ports, but an uproar from the American public and Congress pushed DP World to withdraw.

The lawmakers, all Republicans from Georgia, said the controversy over the ports deal was largely a result of lack of knowledge about the transaction, and political expedience.

. . .Isakson, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and congressmen Phil Gingrey and John Linder agreed the Emirates would remain a strong ally.

"Our countries have been friends and will continue to be friends," Chambliss told The Associated Press after meeting with executives from Dubai Ports World and Emirates Vice President Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

Publicly, some U.S. officials said they had security concerns over having foreign companies control American ports. A Sunday editorial in one of the Emirates' leading English-language dailies accused the United States of racism and double standards.

"Other foreign-owned companies run U.S. ports _ but they were not Arab. That is the message. And we got it," said the Gulf News editorial.

Linder said the use of fear tactics by some politicians to garner support was key in provoking the uproar.

"The American people thought it was a bad deal because they have been made to fear it. The Democrats jumped on it a couple weeks ago because we're in a political season, and Republicans responded to try and outdo them," Linder said.

So Democrats were the ones who have been exploiting and fanning xenophobia against Arabs? I must have missed the part where they ran a campaign ad comparing their opponent to Osama bin Laden or where they said to arrest every Muslim that enters Georgia.

March 11, 2006

"I Was Always Against That War"

If these warmongers aren't blaming liberals for the war, they are shamelessly distancing themselves from it.


Morons.

Twin Cities StarTribune & Pioneer?

McClatchy makes the top bid for the Knight-Ridder news chain. That conglomerate already owns the StarTribune, and now it's going to go after the Pioneer Press, creating a one-newspaper monopoly in the Twin Cities. Although I do like the Strib's liberal leanings, my respect for the Press is based on its independence from the former. Having a carbon copy across the river will just invite redundancies that's unhealthy for media consumption.

March 9, 2006

Speaking of Fat Cats

Number of billionairs surges from 102 to 796 this year.

So when will the tricking down begin?

Corporate Accountability is HARD WORK!

That should be the title of Bernard's new offering today. Basically he's saying those poor, poor, mom-pop, family-owned barely-scraping-by multimillion-dollarpublicly traded corporations are complaining about the new "complexities" of the Sarbanes-Oxley law that was passed on the wake of the Enron/Worldcom/Tyco scandals. Actually a few of them are since he admitted that only 20 percent of them considered skirting the law and making their public companies private. And apparently only 316 out of 15,000 public companies went private in 2002, or two percent, which is pretty much the same percentage that went private the previous year. If there is a big exodus from Wall Street because of the bill, I'm not seeing it.

So is this how the cons stick up for the little guys, especially those who were shit out of luck because of the corporate scandals, only to see their bosses carrying golden parachutes? Does carrying water for the fat-cats improve their street cred with the regular folks? If the effective federal corporate tax rate is 17 percent while the rest of us pay 23 percent, is it too much to ask for the corporate fat cats to actually fill out more forms to make sure they are not screwing with us? Apparently it is for out-of-touch conservatives like Darren Bernard.

March 8, 2006

US Releases Three of Spades And Ten of Hearts

I guess those people on the playing cards aren't as much of a threat as they made them out to be:


US forces release two former Iraqi officials

Baghdad, March, 8 (BNA) The US Forces in Iraq have recently released Former Iraqi Minister of Military Production , Abdultawab Haweesh, and Foreign Undersecretary, Saad Al Faisal.
Radio Sawa said Al Huwaish and Al Faisal left Baghdad soon after being released and headed to a European capital. It is noteworthy that the former Minister of Military production was on the list of the 55 most wanted officials of the former Iraqi regime.

Which begs the question, what about all the other detainees, of whom the U.S. only convicted one and a half out of more than 40,000?

March 6, 2006

Fertility Clinic Conundrum

Jane Hamsher offers up a stumper for the "protect the fetus" brigade:

If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you can only save a petri dish with five blastulae or a two-year old child, which do you save?

Apparently when this question was posed to a typical right-wing radio monkey, he screamed he'd let the baby burn and save the five bundles of stem cells. Jesus these people are evil.

Give Them The Ports, Dubai's Not THAT Bad

Here's the Jeffersonian democracy that's behind Dubai Ports World:

Dubai Ports World tonight is making what I consider to be a rather astonishing new attempt to silence me and our coverage of this ports deal and our reporting of what at least I consider to be legitimate national security concerns about this transaction. Dubai Ports World has actually refused to grant CNN anymore interviews from Washington or London, and it's refused to allow CNN to videotape its operations in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong if we were to show you the video on this broadcast.

This is not the first time that Dubai Ports World has tried to silence me. Last week, a spokesman for the public relations firm that represents the company, Mark Dennis, declared, "CNN won't shut up Lou Dobbs." And as a result, they weren't going to cooperate.

Well, let me assure you that this latest attempt to silence our reporting and to explore the national security interests just like their last effort won't succeed. CNN's management, to its great credit, says it won't comply with any of Dubai Port World's demands, and I'll guarantee you that we're going to continue to report on the facts of this deal, we're going to continue to analyze it, we're going to continue to absolutely scrutinize our elected officials and administration officials who, in some cases, are not being straightforward about the national security interests and the reasons motivating this deal.

Time Magazine Blog Of The Year, 2004

This is Assrocket's rebuttal after the ThinkProgess blog methodically and patiently prove that every single one of their arguments against Jack Murtha is demonstrably false:

Are liberals really this dumb? Do they really think that the administration believed that Saddam had nuclear weapons, but forgot to mention it except on a single occasion when Vice-President Cheney referred to "reconstituted nuclear weapons"--what does that mean?--while at the same time saying that it was "only a matter of time" until Iraq had such weapons?

Sadly, I think a great many liberals are this stupid. Worse, I think that many liberals--like the proprietor of the hate site that resurrected the Cheney quote earlier today--are so far gone in hatred of President Bush that everything they say and do is said and done in bad faith. Like Jack Murtha, they have lost any ability to distinguish truth from fiction, and any desire to do so.

Yep, when the entire thing comes apart, these jackasses will continue to blame the liberals who never initiated or conducted this war in the first place.

Is It Civil War Yet?

Believe the Bush mouthpiece, aka Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, the answer is an emphatic "no". There's still progress even if we can't put a "smiley face" on the situation. However, other experts paint a less sanguine picture:

Expert on Iraq: 'We're In a Civil War' U.S. Officials Deny Violence Has Risen to That Level, but ABC News Analysts See a 'Serious Lack of Realism' By JAKE TAPPER

BAGHDAD, March 5, 2006 — - As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, "If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they'd say we've been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004."

Since the elections last year, Cordesman says, more radical Islamist insurgents have made "a more dedicated strike at the fault lines between Shiites and Sunnis." And they have succeeded.

As Jack Murtha said in response to Peter Pace on "Face The Nation", they lied about almost everything else in Eye-Rack, why should we believe them here?

Neoconism Defined

There's an op-ed in the Daily today by someone named Aaron Solem which basically claimed that Adri Mehra is wrong, that the two conservatives Bush appointed to the Supreme Court not neocons since Mehra is concerned that they will rewrite domestic policy instead of foreign policy.

My how the neocons have fooled the masses.

According to an essential article that recently appeared in Harper's, Earl Shorris clearly marks the birth of the neocon doctrine to one Leo Strauss, a longtime lecturer at the University of Chicago who spent his last days at St. John's College. He used to be a student of the more recent philosophers, most importantly Martin Heidegger. All that changed when Heidegger allied himself with the Nazis, betraying his overall philosophy and his follower, Leo Strauss, who fled to the U.S. to teach at the New School, itself a refuge for Jewish scholars. According to Strauss, the fall of Heidegger is the fall of modernism, an arc that he claimed was started by Machiavelli, whom he denounced as a "teacher of evil" for abandoning the principles of ancient philosophy.

It was the classics such as Plato, Aristotle and other ancients who revealed immutable truths and realities of how men lived that Leo Strauss found comfort in. And in these texts he formulated his principles that will later become neoconservatism. Among these principles that Shorris outlines is that "wise men tell noble lies", "all men are not created equal", "democracy is the rule of the wise over the unwise", all of which leads to the conclusion that "the answer to the human question is to avoid it." This basically means that those in the upper class should be free to rule over us with an iron fist, while fooling us into believing that we have some control over our own destinies, that democracy and self determination is anathema to the neoconservative cause, and the way to avoid such "nihilism" is to force upon us the doctrines of the Christian right. Even though a lot of the neocons don't buy into the Christian right doctrines, they felt it's necessary in order to keep the masses in line.

So that is why the two Bush appointees are neocons, since among Strauss's students were William Bennett, Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, as well as the usual suspects like William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. Therefore the neocon philosophy is twofolds: keep the masses stupid while they fulfill their unitary goals abroad and at home. Also John Robert's last decision before being nominated to the Supreme Court was to overule a lower-court's decision on Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld that the way the military tribunals were run was unconstitutional, making Roberts a total neocon.

March 3, 2006

How Useless Is The New Iraqi Government?

You can't dial 911 without getting yourself killed.

The dysfunction works its way down to the street, too, which becomes apparent on a visit to the home of Bakr (he asked that his last name not be used), an engineering student who lives in the middle-class Waziriya neighborhood. One morning, as he was studying, Bakr explains, he looked out his window and noticed men setting up a mortar in the middle of the street. As the government encourages all Iraqis to do, he called the Interior Ministry's emergency line, 130, to report the insurgents. "They didn't answer," Bakr recounts.

"The next day, my friends warned me not to call, because your telephone number appears and they sell it to the insurgents." He insists we drive his Opel--the Humvee of the Sunni, as Iraqis call it--to an adjacent neighborhood so he can prove the point. There, faded on a wall, hangs the picture of a young man and the announcement of his death. The dead man, Bakr explains, got through to the emergency line.

Of course, the New Republican writing the article, Lawrence Kaplan, says the worsening disfunction is the very reason why we must STAY in Iraq. All right, I hope he is putting on a uniform and grabbing a gun because the current policy is just not going to fly. At this point, it's not a case if we are going to "declare victory and leave", but when.

Iraqnam

I think we are making a transition from "nation building" to "kill em all and let Allah sort em out."

AP: AC-130 gunships returning to Iraq

By CHARLES J. HANLEY
AP SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

AN AIR BASE IN IRAQ -- The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes - the lethal "flying gunships" of the Vietnam War - to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.

An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.

The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan's general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.

(snip)

The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal - 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as "Spooky," also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.

The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops. In Vietnam, for example, they were deployed against North Vietnamese supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the Air Force claimed to have destroyed 10,000 trucks over several years.

The use of AC-130s in places like Fallujah, urban settings where insurgents may be among crowded populations of noncombatants, has been criticized by human rights groups

The Right Kind Of Rape Victim

Oh, you didn't really think the cretins in South Dakota passed the anti-abortion law for the sake of women, didja? From tonights PBS News Hour:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Well, I guess if his wife got raped and impregnated, she's shit outta luck because she committed the sin of bedding with this jackhole. Him and his kind know exactly what they want to turn this country into, one big fucking hicksville where shotgun weddins are mandatory:

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Much of what she fears as an assault on basic rights Senator Napoli sees as a return to traditional values.

BILL NAPOLI: When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn't allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You really do?

BILL NAPOLI: Yes, I do. I don't think we're so far beyond that, that we can't go back to that.

Aye-yi-yi, why do are these people allowed to breathe our air?

Update: Crooks and Liars now has the video up. Yep, that guy sounds like one of those serial killers with a faux-friendly Mr. Roger's type voice.

"We Don't Torture"

Remember how that lovable maverick John McCain boldly introduced legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of detainees held by this country, which was then overwhelmingly approve by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President? Well, looks like the Bushies are insisting on a loophole:

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

And it looks like the Bush bastards just might get away with it too:

"Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts."

I could say Congress should do something like this, except Congress is led by a bunch of rightwing Bush enablers and that legislation is just a stunt by McCain to look "moderate" when he's anything but. At least we now have the Bushies on record saying that they do torture and there is nothing that the victims can do about it.

March 2, 2006

"Fuck Saddam, We're Taking Him Out"

This new National Journal article by Murray Waas details two new classified memos that directly contradicts the rational for the current clusterfuck in Iraq. One from October 2002 contained dissent from the Department of Energy and the intelligence branch of the State Department against the claim that the aluminum tubes could be used for nuclear weapons. They said it's for conventional uses like for missles. The other memo from January 2003 contained a summary of the National Intelligence Estimate which include a unanimous assessment from all intelligence agencies that Iraq posed little or no threat to the U.S. unless it was attacked first. Yet there goes Bush in the State of the Union shaking that OSaddam Bin Laden boogieman to our faces.

I could explicate how disgusted this all makes me, but I've been running on outrage exhaution for a while. I'll leave RedHedd to fume for me.

Nancy Grace: Worst Person In The World

At least according to Keith Olbermann and only on March 1st.

We all know Nancy Grace, that one-woman lynch mob of which every suspect is guilty as far as she's concerned. Af far as the criminal justice system, she only supports one side, the side of the victims, especially white female ones, and she vilifies those who would dare defend a suspect in a trial, likening them to prison guards at Auchwitz.

Her rise to fame rests upon her personal story of victimization when allegedly her fiancee was shot and killed by a random 24-year-old mugger, who had a history of crime but the liberal touchy-feely criminal justice system was too incompetent to lock up long enough. This animal also had the gall to claim innocence, yet Grace spared him the death penalty, an option he never left for her fiancee.

Well, the truth has come out, although it's already there except the credulous media kept believing her lies. That her fiancee was killed by man in Georgia now serving a life sentence, all that is true. But the fiancee was killed by a former co-worker, not a stranger. The guy was 19, not 24. The guy confessed to the killing, so it was an open-and-shut case with the jury convicting in a matter of hours, and the prosecuters couldn't get a death penalty because the guy was mildly retarded.

I know I shouldn't be harsh to those who lost a loved one, nevertheless. But if this doesn't stink of taking unwarranted advantage, or lying about a death in order to forward a retrograde agenda, then i don't know what this is.

Tortures In Eye-Rack Worse Than Under Saddam

This will be Bush's legacy on Iraq:

Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq said Thursday.

John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths.

"Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK," Pace said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone."

Goodie, I Got My Letter Published

as usual, the Daily is almost a week late in terms of the letter's relevance to current events, but it is the first one featured:

Innocent detainees

The February issue of Harper's Magazine reported that out of the more than 48,000 Iraqis detained by coalition forces, only 1.5 have been convicted of any crime. The Feb. 13 issue of the National Journal has several features that revealed how many, if not most, of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are likely innocent of any crime or ill intent against Americans. At most, 20 percent of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners are members of Al-Qaeda, the rest were merely Taliban foot-soldiers or individuals unfortunate enough to be randomly captured and handed over to Americans by bounty hunters. Indeed, eight Gitmo prisoners have been cleared of being "enemy combatants," but still they remain arbitrarily detained with little hope for due process.
For Tom Kuehn to justify the documented abuses against these prisoners by demonizing the innocent along with the bad in his Friday letter to the editor is unequivocally unconscionable and makes me question his worth as a human being. Perhaps he can redeem himself and prove the sincerity of his beliefs by making a reservation in any one of our extrajudicial detention centers for an indefinite period of time. If sodomizing, torturing and locking up innocent people is necessary to protect people like Kuehn, then he of all people should have no problem with the proposition.

Gad Onyeneho
University undergraduate

I was responding to this letter.

Darren Bernard Has A Bunch Of Term Papers

That would explain this yawner of a rethread about how shitty the UN is. He basically wrote the same opinion piece three times already, it's like he just broke into his hard drive, moved around some definite articles, then fired it off as a new opinion piece.

I'm not going to dispute that the UN has a bunch of problems it need to address, but that's basically what you are going to get when you have nuclear powers controlling the all-important Security Council. Those other Third-world nations are going to hang on to their influence on whatever councils they make up, whether it's the Human Rights Council or others.

Also his main criticisms of the UN could just as easily be appllied to the U.S. when it comes to "saving the world". Sexual abuse by peacekeepers? Never mind Abu Ghraib, what about how our soldiers have been charged for rape in the Phillipines or Okinawa? Oil-For-Food? Eye-Rack is just one huge scandal machine. How many billions of reconstruction money has been unaccounted for? And Darfur never received the attention of the U.S. so how the hell can the U.N do anything about it when it's annual budget for peacekeeping missions around the world is less than what the U.S. spends per day subsidizing the civil war in Eye-Rack ($3,870,000,000 vs $4,100,000,000).

It seems that the latest implosion by the administration, be it the civil war, the ports deal, or now the Katrina revelations (see below) has left the right-wing clutching at straws trying to take a wack at easy targets. Well, not this time. You are gonna have to face up to the crises of your own making one of these days.

Bill O'Reilly Don't Like Black People

If you are wondering why New Orleans just cannot be fixed up and why Katrina victims continued to be screwed over, it is because people like Bill O'Reilly continue to run this country:

During the segment, the caller said to O'Reilly:

CALLER: George Bush doesn't care about American people. After Katrina, he passed a law making it so his contracting buddies could bring in a bunch of illegal immigrants, instead of putting Americans to work, plus it took them five days to get down there.

In response, O'Reilly said: "On the rebuilding of New Orleans, you've got to use contractors that can do the job. So, you can't -- you know, if you've got contractors who specialize in infrastructure rebuilding, you've got to bring them in." He then added, "And the homies, you know, who you don't know -- I mean, they're just not going to get the job."

George Bush Don't Like Black People

Remember back in September when Bush was just shocked (SHOCKED!) that the hurricane could have flooded New Orleans?

Well, per usual, the Worst President Ever was lying back then. The video of Bush being briefed by Drownie and meteorologist Max Mayfield of the strong possibility that New Orlean's levees will be breached is posted at Crooks and Liars.

You think I'm too harsh when I say "Worst. President. Ever."? Normal presidents would prepare emergency plans in the face of such briefing, or at least PRETEND to care. Worst Presidents Ever would do this:

Bush_guitar.jpg

via Daily Kos