Tuesday, September 07, 2004

From Josh Marshall

[T]he Ben Barnes interview is running Wednesday evening. But, I'm told by several sources that the Barnes' interview is only a relatively small part of the package 60 Minutes is running. There's other stuff that CBS has -- newly discovered, or at least newly-revealed, documents that shed light on Bush's guard service or lack thereof.

And this:

The text of a letter former President Carter sent to Zell Miller over the weekend ...
You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as lieutenant governor and as governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. Senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, and Sam Nunn disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a “Democrat,” and it’s quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.

Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations.

...Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited
I contacted President Carter's office for comment and his press spokesperson Deanna Congileo told me that the letter was a private communication and that President Carter would not be issuing further comment.

The rest of the letter is here. I don't know how Josh got hold of it if it is indeed a private communication. "Leaked", I guess.

Greg Palast film screenings

This is not new work, but it's Greg Palast's investigative reporting on the Bush Crime Family - stuff that only made the press in the UK, and has been ignored in the US. After Michael Moore's film (which made use of some of Palast's reporting) made such a big splash, the door has been opened a little. Screening locations and dates are here. Or you can purchase a DVD and have a house party. Or....you can watch it on a little window here, courtesy of Information Clearinghouse. (I've got the link to it on my webpage here: Greg Palast on the Bush Family. It's well worth the time to watch. There are other links to good info on the BCF on that page, as well.) Now that it's on sale and being screened in the U.S., I don't know whether Information Clearinghouse will keep it freely available on the internet, but it's still there at this time. It's also possible that the DVD is a different edition than the video at Information Clearinghouse. I don't know.
At least watch the IC video.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

What Arnold really said

Jay writes:

The word debate was not in Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech!!!

"I finally arrived here in 1968. I had empty pockets, but I was full of dreams. The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon and Humphrey presidential race on TV."

Believing Blanton's & Ashton's post really got me flogged while arguing with a conservative. He pointed out my error and I was sorta embarrassed.

The Arnold Memory has come up before. Following is a commentary from one of the readers of the South Knox Bubba/West Knox Momma RNC blogathon:

Actually Arnold did say race.... this time. He has altered his lie for the convention.

"The Curious Nixon-Humphrey Debate
From Times Staff Reports

August 20, 2003

Fresh from Austria, a socialist country, Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to become a Republican after listening to "the debates of Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon when they were debating for the presidential race," or so he told television talk show host Bill O'Reilly in May 2001.

"Hubert Humphrey spoke about things I heard in Austria under socialism."

But there was no presidential debate in 1968. Although Humphrey challenged Nixon to a debate, Nixon, who won the election, demurred.

Schwarzenegger previously recounted his version of history during an interview at the 2000 Republican National Convention. "When I came to this country, I was sitting in front of the television set, and I watched a debate between Humphrey and Nixon, and I didn't even understand half of it because my English wasn't good enough then. I had a friend of [mine] translating"


He has repeated the same story to many journalists. Obviously somebody vetted his speech. Was he lying then? Obviously. Was he lying last night? Probably.

He lies, he gropes, he was drug user, recreational and steroids. Just the guy to represent the family values of the GOP. And this is the guy everybody wants to pass an amendment for?

And there's this about seeing tanks in the streets of his socialist home:

Whopper: Arnold Schwarzenegger
What were Soviet tanks doing in Austria's British-occupied sector?
ByTimothy Noah
Posted Friday, Sept. 3, 2004, at 3:56 PM PT

When I was a boy, the Soviets occupied part of Austria. I saw their tanks in the streets. I saw communism with my own eyes. I remember the fear we had when we had to cross into the Soviet sector. Growing up, we were told, "Don't look the soldiers in the eye. Look straight ahead." It was a common belief that Soviet soldiers could take a man out of his own car and ship him off to the Soviet Union as slave labor.

My family didn't have a car—but one day we were in my uncle's car. It was near dark as we came to a Soviet checkpoint. I was a little boy, I wasn't an action hero back then, and I remember how scared I was that the soldiers would pull my father or my uncle out of the car, and I'd never see him again. My family and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot. Today, the world no longer fears the Soviet Union and it is because of the United States of America!

As a kid I saw the socialist country that Austria became after the Soviets left. I love Austria and I love the Austrian people—but I always knew America was the place for me.

—Arnold Schwarzenegger, Aug. 31, 2004

"It's a fact—as a child he could not have seen a Soviet tank in Styria," the southeastern province where Schwarzenegger was born and raised, historian Stefan Karner told the Vienna newspaper Kurier.

...Discussion. The AP story quotes Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson saying, "Never in there did the governor reference that the tanks were where he grew up. It was a reference to visiting Soviet-occupied Austria." But he sure as hell implied having lived on an everyday basis with both the risk and the reality of encountering Soviet goons.

...I can't let pass Schwarzenegger's smarmy implication that postwar socialism, to whatever extent it was practiced in Austria, was the legacy of Soviet occupation. There was and remains a big difference between European-style socialism and communism. The former boasts a long and proud tradition of anticommunism. That would have been especially true in Austria, where every chancellor between 1945 and 1970 was a conservative. The characteristic vice of Austrian conservatism isn't softness on communism. It's softness on Nazism.


Jay, you're quite the optimist if you're still arguing with conservatives.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saudi - 9/11 connection

Here we go again - or still.

Senator Graham's book is coming out today. In it, he confirms that resources were shifted from al-Qaeda to Iraq, in spite of the intelligence up to and after 9/11, and that the White House covered up evidence pointing to Saudi involvement.

Graham, who was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from June 2001 through the buildup to the Iraq war, voted against the war resolution in October 2002 because he saw Iraq as a diversion that would hinder the fight against al Qaeda terrorism.

He oversaw the Sept. 11 investigation on Capitol Hill with Rep. Porter Goss, nominated last month to be the next CIA director. According to Graham, the FBI and the White House blocked efforts to investigate the extent of official Saudi connections to two hijackers.

Graham wrote that the staff of the congressional inquiry concluded that two Saudis in the San Diego area, Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassan, who gave significant financial support to two hijackers, were working for the Saudi government.

Al-Bayoumi received a monthly allowance from a contractor for Saudi Civil Aviation that jumped from $465 to $3,700 in March 2000, after he helped Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhdar -- two of the Sept. 11 hijackers -- find apartments and make contacts in San Diego, just before they began pilot training.

When the staff tried to conduct interviews in that investigation, and with an FBI informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who also helped the eventual hijackers, they were blocked by the FBI and the administration, Graham wrote.

The administration and CIA also insisted that the details about the Saudi support network that benefited two hijackers be left out of the final congressional report, Graham complained.

Bush had concluded that ''a nation-state that had aided the terrorists should not be held publicly to account,'' Graham wrote. ``It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.''

Saudi officials have vociferously denied any ties to the hijackers or al Qaeda plots to attack the United States.

...[Graham] has said he hopes his book will illuminate FBI and CIA failures in the war on terrorism and he also offers recommendations on ways to reform the intelligence community.
Miami Herald article

Excuse me? He just said that the president was covering the Saudi butts. And now he hopes that the book will illuminate FBI and CIA failures. Is everybody in a space/time warp?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Bush '04 - Save the love-practicing doctors

At a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo., [Bush] was breezing through his domestic agenda when he came to a favorite: what he calls medical liability reform.

"We got an issue in America," he began, in a folksy diction aimed at his small-town crowd. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business."

Mr. Bush then turned to another point he has been making lately to appeal to women - that among those doctors being driven from the business are many obstetricians and gynecologists.

But Mr. Bush seemed to get derailed on the way to his point.

"Too many good OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their" - he paused a split second, as if searching for a word, then continued - "their love, with women all across this country," he said.
NY Times article

Maybe that was his point.

No, I take that back. His point is on the top of his head.

Update 2:25: P.S. G.D. Frogsdong got a letter from his representative with this message:

For America's veterans, this year's budget is another slap in the face. It is a betrayal of what they have been promised and earned. It provides $1.3 billion less than what the House Veterans' Affairs Committee has said is needed--on a bipartisan basis--to maintain vital veterans' programs. Over the next five years, this budget cuts $1.6 billion from the total funding needed to maintain current services. In practical terms, this shortfall will imperil health care for at least 170,000 veterans. It will also result in 13,000 fewer doctors, nurses, and other caregivers needed to treat veterans. No wonder then that the Disabled Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and AMVETS, among other national organizations, are all strongly opposed to this budget.
[Emphasis mine]

So I guess George's concern ends with the loss of gynocologists practicing their love on women.

No more Mr. Nice Democrat

Susan Estrich (Dukakis campaign manager) has said she's tired of the crap, and it's time to fight crap with crap.

Texans for Truth are having a go at it.

....hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

How's that war coming?

The good news was that combat deaths (66), while the highest total since May, were not climbing as fast as the number of injured. Officials created the reintroduction of "heavy armored" equipment, like Abrams tanks and the Bradley fighting vehicles, for keeping the death toll down despite the intense fighting. There are no official figures available for the number of Iraqi insurgents and civilians killed or hurt.
Christian Science Monitor article

Talk about spin! The "good news" is that number of combat injuries is increasing faster than the number of deaths.

It's just getting worse. Back go the heavy armored tanks. Who the hell cares how many Iraqi "insurgents" and civilians get hurt or killed?

Newsday reports on Tuesday that over the weekend Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, one of the highest-ranking US generals in Iraq, did not dismiss the concept of holding January elections throughout the country while "leaving out any lone rebellious enclave." The Los Angeles Times reports that Lt. Gen. Metz feels fair elections could be held without cities like Fallujah being included.

'We'd have elections before we let one place like Fallujah stop [national] elections,' said Metz, the number two US military official in Iraq. 'The rest of the country can go on about a process that heads right for an election.'


AP notes that Metz also said major US assaults on one or more of these cities controlled by insurgents is likely before any elections would be held in January.

Like, when did the major U.S. assaults on those cities stop?

Yeah, well, we're just gonna have to bomb the crap out of 'em and let what's left vote. Certainly can't let any of those people in areas that are trying to get rid of us vote. What do you think we are? Stoopid?

The Daily Star of Lebanon reports Tuesday on how many Iraqis don't see the interim Iraqi National Assembly as representative of them. The Star says that one of the toughest tasks Iraqi politicians face is changing the attitudes of people "unaccustomed to involvement in governing." But members have already been discussing giving themselves pay raises and immunity from prosecution.

Well those guys sure figured out the American dream of democracy in short order.

I'm not so sure the people unaccustomed to involvement in governing are going to get accustomed to it if they don't get to vote.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

RNC recap

I'm catching up on South Knox Bubba's coverage of the RNC, since it all happened while I was lolling about on the Gulf of Mexico (and wouldn't have had the stomach to watch it anyway).

You can find all these quotes at the Crosswire blog-debates with the pathetic "opponent" West Knox Momma. Wasn't a fair match-up, but then WKM and her husband put forth the challenge, so I'm short on sympathy for her.

Cheney says the Bush tax cuts are working. Yes, the thirty-five million people living in poverty, including the millions who joined them on Bush's watch, are benefiting tremendously from paying less taxes than the no taxes they were paying before. And the millions who lost their jobs on Bush's watch got a huge tax cut.


But what's not understandable is the Republican Party portrayed at this event. All these minorities, all this compassion, all these government programs to help people… where did all that come from? I thought I was watching flashbacks of the 1996 Democratic convention there a few times.

And the supreme irony is that they had to get a "Democrat" as their keynote speaker to reveal the true nature of the party and the soul of the GOP.

I guess it all fits in with their "say one thing, mean another, do something else, then lie about it" approach to politics and government. Clear Skies. Healthy Forests. Medicare Reform. No Child Left Behind. Strong Economy. War on Terror. Weapons of Mass Destruction. And so it goes.

This convention was a river of hypocrisy and lies, running through a jungle of intolerance, emptying into a sea of failed polices in the Oval Office. (As Zell "Spitball" Miller would say, that there's one of them metaphors. Don't get your panties in a wad, or else… pistols at dawn!)

A nation of courage? That's their theme? From a bunch of guys who dodged the draft and hid out in Alabama mail rooms while Kerry got shot up on the Mekong Delta? By a president who sat there like a stunned mullet after being told the nation was under attack, and flew away and hid in Nebraska?

...The 9/11 families, well, I won't go there.

But why didn't the Bush administration give them a voice before now? Why is it the only recognition they have received until last night was from Richard Clarke during the 9/11 hearings? Why all of a sudden is it politically expedient to hear from them?

...And then Giuliani. What can you say? The guy who rushed down to ground zero while Bush sat like a deer in the headlights then ran off to an underground bunker while the nation was under attack. I used to respect Giuliani. But talking about people jumping out of buildings? Is there anything these guys won't politicize? He completely lost me when he said he came out of a building, watched the cloud of debris roiling down the block, grabbed the arm of the police chief, and said "I'm glad George Bush is our president." Yeah, right. I'm sure that's exactly what he said. What a crock.

...Memo to Bush. You say Kerry shouldn't have made his service in Vietnam an issue. Well, you shouldn't make 9/11 an issue. Kerry served honorably and came back and spoke his mind. 9/11 happened on your watch and you ran off and hid, and dodged the families afterwards. 9/11 happened to America, not the Republican Party.

And this good comment from a reader:

Ok, the world did NOT change on 9/11. (John Asscroft, come get me now...) And I'm sick of hearing that it did.

Things changed significantly here in the United States. We suffered the biggest attack ever on our own soil, and realized that our defenses against terrorism were inadequate (they still are, btw, since we've wasted effort & $$$ in Iraq that should have gone into strengthening our defenses here at home).

But the whole freaking bloody world did not change. Much of the world had been used to dealing with terrorism already. Much of it is in such bad shape in other ways that it doesn't give a flying fart about terrorism. For us to keep saying that "the world" changed because we personally got attacked is just the height of hubris and self-centeredness.

Want to know why the whole world hates us (another exaggeration, although sadly, not by enough)? Look no further than this attitude.

And even at home, the "whole world" didn't change, unless maybe you live on Manhattan or in D.C. My whole world didn't change. Yes, I'm a bit more anxious. Yes, I pay a bit more attention to what's going on in the world. But I still care just as much about whether my spouse will survive the TVA job cuts, how much my medical premiums will go up, and whether my nieces and nephews are getting decent educations in our public schools.

In other words, I want to do more than just be alive and safe from having a terrorist car bomb explode outside my house (unlikely here in Knoxpatch in any event). I want my life to be have quality, and meaning, and economic security. I want to look to a future that's better in all those ways.

That's not any different from the way I felt on 9/10.


One more from Bubba - as the convention got underway:

On a more serious note, there will be at least one dramatic announcement during Bush's acceptance speech when he reveals a new arsenal of weapons for the "War on Terror". The weapons include a new type of radar that can detect terror on land, at sea, or in the air, a new smart bomb that targets terror, and a new portable device capable of projecting a beam of energy that destroys terror. The weapons system, which Bush is said to be personally involved in designing after being inspired by a Star Trek: Next Generation episode, is expected to cost $900 billion and will be funded by another round of tax cuts.

OK, then.

America's love affair with democracy

When did that begin?

Go ask some gays, some blacks and some women. I'll wait.

Okay, I'm tired of waiting.

It wasn't when the country was founded. For all those screamers about sticking to the founding fathers' view of God (which they really didn't research before they started screaming, or they'd shut up), the founding fathers weren't too crazy about democracy. But then, neither are the screamers.

And neither were the Congressmen in this country for many years. In fact, neither are many of them now. But what is really shameful is the instance of Congresswomen who are proponents of unequal rights and corporate rule.

I got an interesting e-mail forward this morning. I'll share excerpts.

How Women Got To Vote

A short history lesson on the privilege of voting...

The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

Fr weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

...Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged...HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD....It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse.

Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Just a quick point here - the e-mail starts with the subtitle: A short history lesson on the privilege of voting. I'd like to know how voting can be considered a "privilege" in a democracy. In a true democracy, it is a right. A democracy is not a democracy without the right of every participating citizen to vote. Let's not be confused about that.

To my shame, I didn't know who Alice Paul was. So I did a little Googling. One of the reasons (perhaps the main one) Wilson and his cronies were trying to shut her up was no doubt her strong peace stance.

At first, the suffragists were politely ignored. But on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I. The suffragists' signs became more pointed. They taunted Wilson, accusing him of being a hypocrite. How could he send American men to die in a war for democracy when he denied voting rights to women at home? The suffragists became an embarrassment to President Wilson. It was decided the picketing in front of the White House must stop.

...By the time Alice Paul was sent to prison, the fight for women's suffrage had been going on for almost 70 years. It had started in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, at a small Women's Rights Convention. These early feminists wanted the same opportunities as men. They wanted the chance to attend college, to become doctors and lawyers, and to own their own land. If they could win the right to vote, they could use their votes to open the doors of the world to women.

For the next 50 years, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony led the women's rights movement. Thanks to their efforts, the women's suffrage amendment was presented to Congress for the first time in 1878. But Congressmen refused to allow a vote on the issue. The amendment was reintroduced every year for forty years. During that time, it was never voted upon.

...Finally, on January 9, 1918, Wilson announced his support for suffrage. The next day, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Susan. B. Anthony Amendment, which would give suffrage to all women citizens. On June 4, 1919, the Senate passed the Amendment by one vote. And a little more than a year later, on August 26, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. That made it officially the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

American women at last had the right to vote. But Alice Paul and her colleagues did not stop their campaign for women's rights. Instead, they began to push for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, which would guarantee women protection against discrimination. Some 80 years later, the battle for such an amendment is still being fought.

The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923, is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.

The ERA has been ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states. When three more states vote yes, the ERA might become the 28th Amendment.

In these pages, find out about this historic amendment ... and join the effort to achieve equal rights for women and men. Equal Rights Amendment.org

Sudan update

Our answer to the Janjaweed terrorism in Darfur is to threaten the Sudanese government with sanctions if they don't put a stop to it.

"Sudan is not afraid of the threat of sanctions by the United States, which is using the crisis in Darfur to weaken and destroy the government of Sudan in a similar fashion in which they devastated Iraq and Somalia," said Angelo Beda, Deputy Speaker of Sudan's parliament.
CNN article

These things are always so complex. I don't pretend to know what's really happening. I've read that the Sudanese government is actually supporting the Janjaweed. I've read a lot of lies about the Venezuelan government (which we have been covertly trying to overthrow) supporting Colombian drug lords (when actually the CIA is involved with them) in American press, too. And about the former Haitian government (which we successfully overthrew) supporting terrorists in their country. To name two.

I have this constant nagging suspicion that when anything like this is happening anywhere in the world, the U.S. has its hands in it for its own advantage. Paranoid? Or am I just recognizing a pattern? We eventually learned that our country created the Taliban in Afghanistan to defeat the Russians. We eventually learned that our country illegally, covertly funneled money to the Contras in Nicaragua. In light of this statement by Mr. Beda, I can't help but wonder if we have been supporting the Janjaweed as well.

Don't forget Sudan has oil.

U.S. Ambassador John Danforth has warned that the threat of sanctions was not going to go away and the European Union said on Saturday it would draw up sanctions against Khartoum, including possible measures against its oil industry, which could be enacted at the request of the United Nations.

Khartoum has said it does not control the Janjaweed, who it brands as outlaws, and is not responsible for their actions.

"Sudan has done everything humanly possible to meet the demands of the United Nations and the international community within the given 30 days," Beda said.

Putin's predicament

Putin said each time Russia complained to the Bush administration about meetings held between U.S. officials and Chechen separatist representatives, the U.S. response has been "we'll get back to you" or "we reserve the right to talk with anyone we want."

Putin blamed what he called a "Cold War mentality" on the part of some U.S. officials, but likened their demands that Russia negotiate with the Chechen separatists to the U.S. talking to al Qaeda.

These are not "freedom fighters," Putin said. "Would you talk with Osama Bin Laden?" he asked.

Putin said the Chechen separatists are trying to ignite ethnic tensions in the former Soviet Union and it could have severe repercussions.

"Osama Bin Laden attacked the United States saying he was doing it because of policies in the Middle East," Putin said. "Do you call him a freedom fighter?"
CNN article

Actually, if you're Arab, you might.

But, let's get back to the U.S. dealing with Chechen separatists. The U.S. only flirted with leaving the "Cold War". It sounded good to say that Reagan brought down the Communists and made the whole world into a lovely American-freedom-style happy planet. But of course, behind the scenes, nothing really changed. The CIA and the Neocons continued their overt and covert activities, and a "predictable" idiot was installed in the White House to expedite the march to global domination, which means that Russia not be permitted to recover any of its former military strength or control Pipelinestan, where Chechnya sits.

Putin's comments came a few weeks after the U.S. granted asylum to Ilias Akhmadov, the "foreign minister" of the Chechen separatist movement.

The Russian president also justified the rescue operation in Beslan, conceding that it took time to mobilize the operation.

He said Russian special forces stormed the school knowing they themselves were likely to be killed.

In one dramatic moment, Putin said Russian security forces overheard a disturbing walkie-talkie conversation between the terrorists:

"What are you doing? Why? I hear some noise. What's going on? I'm just in the middle of shooting some children."

"They were bored," Putin said. "So they shot children."

Sure. Evil people do that. Who's to argue that never occurred? Why would they release hostages and then when the Russian security forces storm the place start shooting children out of boredom? What do we have here? Putin's Waco? On the other hand, professional hired "terrorists" might actually get bored and shoot children.

In other comments, Putin said Russia would take its own approach to democratic reform.

"We'll do this at our own pace," he said. Democracy can mean different things in different countries, he said.

"In Russia, democracy is who shouts the loudest," he said. "In the U.S., it's who has the most money."

Ah, Diogenes would be proud.

Of course, everything is about the U.S., isn't it?

Asked about the U.S. presidential race, Putin was complimentary of President George W. Bush, saying he likes him. He is a friendly, decent, predictable person, but "it is not about personalities," Putin said.

He said polls in Russia show 7 percent support for Bush, and 25 percent for Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Well, it's apparently about personalities over here where we are actually doing the voting. But once His Slowliness the Dope is reinstated, we may well just dispense with the voting bit. It's time consuming and wastes a lot of money. On the other hand, if we can run Zell Miller against Jeb Bush in the 2008 race, maybe they'll still let us vote. Come to think of it, if Butthead's numbers get too low in October, we may find ourselves in an emergency lockdown and have to call off this election.

Just tell your redneck Republican friends that the Russkies like John Kerry. See how much of that Cold War mentality is gone.

He insisted that Chechnya was a vital part of Russian territory, and that his government would pursue a political solution.

"We will strengthen law enforcement by staffing the police with Chechens, and gradually withdraw our troops to barracks, and leave as small a contingent as we feel necessary, just like the US [did] in California and Texas," Putin said.
Jerusalem Post article

Of course, just like the situation with California and Texas, if you weren't taking the land from someone else in the first place, you wouldn't need to leave any troops there.

Just saying.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Monday, September 06, 2004

George Bush motto

Words speak louder than actions.

From the Daily Show.

A nervous poodle?

Toy poodle, I guess.

It appears that Mr. Blair might secretly be quite relieved to be rid of the Bush leash.

No 10's silent support for Kerry

Book Review

The new book Guantanamo: What The World Should Know is an interview between author/editor Ellen Ray, and Michael Ratner, an eloquent human rights attorney and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Mr Ratner and his colleagues at the CCR have the distinction of being the first Americans to mount a legal challenge of the Kafkaesque detention and interrogation facilities the Bush Administration uses at the US military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, to incarcerate suspects in the war on terror.

This is a tight, well-organized book. The discussion proceeds in logical order, and right away we learn that Ratner is eminently qualified to speak about the subject of human rights abuses.


It's the GOP way

You can look it up, boys and girls, men and women, and those of you who aren't quite sure. There were no debates between Nixon and Humphrey in 1968. Richard Nixon was afraid of debates. He and his team knew that Nixon looked very bad on television, and that no amount of makeup would protect him from his own appearance after an hour under the glare of the bright lights. Nixon had been badly hurt by the debates in 1960 against Kennedy and he wanted no part of another set of debates. In 1960, Nixon was the vice-president to a popular president, Dwight David Eisenhower. It was unlikely that Ike's VP would lose to the upstart Senator from Massachusetts when the candidates had finally been nominated. Those debates were a turning point for many, as they showed the energetic, bright, quick, and above all, telegenic and cool young Senator in a stunning light. TV became a great ally to the Kennedy administration as a result of these debates, as they discovered just how well he worked a camera. At the same time, it became the enemy of Richard Nixon.

Arnold Schwarzenegger declared last night that watching the Nixon-Humphrey debates in 1968 made Arnold a Republican. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a big f***ing liar. Excuse me for using that expression, but he is.
Blanton's & Ashton's post

Well, lying has worked very well for the Party so far. Why not go with what works?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Left Hook

Here's a website that I wish I had more time to check out.

Presidential Auction 2004

Swiftboat Stories

Another Swiftboat vet is a bit peeved about the Swiftboat Liars Veterans for the Truth. Bob Anderson says they used his name on a letter complaining about Kerry on their website, without his permission.

"I don't know enough about Kerry to say whether I will vote for him," Anderson said. "I know enough about Bush that I won't vote for him."

Regardless of political loyalty, Anderson said he has a message he'd like to pass along.

"Don't believe everything you read. All it tells me is there is some politics going on there."

Two of the Kerry-smear vets sit on Bush's advisory panel for Department of Veterans Affairs. One of them is Ken Cordier (French, eh?), who had to resign from the Bush campaign after it was revealed that he served in that position - Bush campaign denying that they had anything to do with the Swiftboat smear ads and all.

Another vet, who vouched for the Swiftboat Liars, claiming he was in command of the boat Kerry was on, is also a lobbyist whose client recently won a $40 million grant from the federal government, and a Bush campaign donor in 2000 and 2004. And, his colleague is chairman of the RNC.

Now, are you getting enough information on Kerry's performance in battle in Viet Nam to enable you to determine whether or not to vote for him in November? Because if not, we can surely keep expounding.

Campaign Bits

Bush campaign chairman is Gov. Marc Racicot. That sounds awfully French.

Former Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich is ready to pull out all the stops -Swiftboat-type ads from the Dem side.

Lies move numbers.

Remember the one about Dukakis suffering from depression after he lost the governorship? We lost six points over that lie, planted by George W.'s close friend and colleague in the 1988 campaign, Lee Atwater. Or how about the one about Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an anti-war demonstration, another out-and-out lie, which the Bush campaign denied having anything to do with, except that it turned out to have come from a United States senator via the Republican National Committee? Atwater later apologized to me for that, too, on his deathbed. Did I mention that Lee's wife is connected to the woman running the Swift Boat campaign?

What do you do, Democrats keep asking each other.

The answer is not pretty, but everyone knows what it is.

The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Too much is at stake to play by Dukakis' rules and lose again. That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.

Speaker Slander

Dennis Hastert has publicly hinted that George Soros, who has pledged to spend every last dime of his millions if he has to in order to unseat George Bush, gets his money from drug cartels. Mr. Soros is not pleased.

Majority Leader Madness

Is DeLay just nuts?

“If Israel falls to the terrorists, the entire free world will tremble. To forsake Israel now would be tantamount to forsaking Great Britain in 1940.”

..."My friends, there is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is only the global war on terrorism,” DeLay told [2,000 Jewish Republicans] at the Plaza Hotel Monday.

DeLay. That's mighty damned French.

Liberal Media

CNN has informed the Log Cabin Republicans that it will not air their new television advertising campaign, which is a response to the politics of fear and intolerance. Unlike CNN, other broadcast outlets are airing the ad. The network claims that images in the ad are "too controversial."

If you're not familiar with the Log Cabin Republicans, they are an organization of gay Republicans. Yes. Like being Roaches for Raid, to coin a phrase from John Leguizamo, referring to Latino Republicans.

The girls are out campaigning.

The daughters of both President Bush and John F. Kerry were unexpectedly greeted with boos along with the expected cheers Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards in Miami. But the Bush daughters, Barbara and Jenna, got the better of the exchange because their remarks had been videotaped in advance, and MTV turned down the audience noise while broadcasting their remarks. Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry were not so lucky. Startled and angered by the boos, the Kerry daughters "scowlingly delivered their please-vote talking points," according to the Village Voice. The Kerrys were less provocatively dressed, the magazine reported

Zell Suckered by GOP

No one deserves it more.

Set him up to be the rabid, mean-spirited one. I've only read from Republicans great praises and yee-haws for whatever Zell spewed (I didn't hear or read it myself). So the GOP got what they were after, and can refuse to take credit for it, just like the Swiftboat shit.

After gauging the harsh reaction from Democrats and Republicans alike to Sen. Zell Miller’s keynote address at the Republican National Convention, the Bush campaign — led by the first lady — backed away Thursday from Miller’s savage attack on Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, insisting that the estranged Democrat was speaking only for himself.

Late Thursday, Miller and his wife were removed from the list of dignitaries who would be sitting in the first family’s box during the president’s acceptance speech later in the evening.

How long before these guys got tossed?

(Seen at WTF?)

Josh Marshall said that a woman who pulled on a pink slip sitting a couple chairs away from him at the convention was immediately nabbed and removed. He speculated that she was getting ready to shout something anti-Bush, but it could be she was simply a member of Code Pink, and anyone who knows anything about them would understand.

Touchy, touchy GOPugs.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Oh hey - here she is. She is a member.

Soon to be best-seller hits the shelves this month

On September 14. This should be some fun.

" This book makes Fahrenheit 9/11 look like pablum. It is real raw meat. "

More articles

One clip Michael Moore should have put in his movie that I think would have been the two in a one-two punch right after that clip of him joking about his "base" (the haves and the have-mores) would have been the one of him with his slide show cracking jokes about not being able to find WMDs. If the movie needed more punch, that is.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

The World's Shortest Blog

"The microblog dedicated to one simple question."


A Shenanigans Who's Who would be nice

Perhaps the Bushist upper eschelon is going to permit the purge of some of the more rabid neocons? I suppose that would be expected. Lose some balast. But, frankly, I don't know what to make of all this. I'll just keep trying to collect information. And if the dust ever settles, we'll see who winds up where. It would be nice to see a score card and a flow chart. TJ at Project for the Old American Century does a good job of compiling info-bios. (Check the sidebar under "Profiles".)

FBI investigators in recent weeks have conducted interviews to determine whether Pentagon officials gave highly classified U.S. intelligence to a leading Iraqi exile group, the Iraqi National Congress, which may in turn have passed it on to Iran. INC leader Ahmed Chalabi has denied that his group was involved in any wrongdoing.

The linkage, if any, between the two leak investigations, remains unclear.

But they both center on the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the Pentagon's No. 3 official.
  Houston Chronicle article

Feith, you may remember, headed up the Office of Special Plans, the group created to provide Iraq invasion justification.

It appears the Prince of Darkness was involved in the Hollinger deals - something I passed over back when Lord Black was booted under a scandal.

[An SEC report] said it did not consider Mr. Perle to have been an independent director and called on him to return $5.4 million in pay he received after "putting his own interests above those of Hollinger's shareholders."

...Mr. Perle was criticized for his involvement in Hollinger's Internet subsidiary, in which he, Lord Black and others were granted 22 percent of profits on successful investments — a total of $8.3 million — even though the subsidiary lost money over all. His share came to more than $3 million.

The report said Mr. Perle "repeatedly breached his fiducicary duties" as a member of the board's executive committee, in approving improper deals to benefit himself and Lord Black. It said Hollinger had made a bad investment in a partnership run by Mr. Perle. "As a faithless fiduciary, Perle should be required to disgorge all compensation received from the company," the report said.

Josh Marshall quotes some news sources on Perle'sconnections to Chalabi.

He also earlier had this to say about Franklin, the "spy" under investigation in the spying-on-Iran-for Israel affair:

He's an important person in Feith's operation -- which isn't surprising really since he's an analyst on a topic -- Iran -- at the center of Feith's concerns. And Iran policy is already a dicey matter since this is the same shop that used to be the main locus of Chalabism in the governmnet. And of course Chalabi later ended up to have been feeding US intelligence to the Iranians.

Feith's operation has been at the center of a number of bizarre intelligence snafus and embarrassments -- at least two of which have now spawned criminal investigations. One of the more memorable ones was being in charge of post-war planning for Iraq, which didn't pan out that well. Feith's office is also closely tied to Vice President Cheney's office, which is the focus of the Plame investigation.

Let's see....how many investigations are currently circling the White House?

Iraq WMD
Abu Ghraib
Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson
Bush's AWOL years
Israeli spy

There are probably more. But that should be enough to have the GOP on the ropes, shouldn't it? Well, it doesn't appear to. So, judge our country's "goodness" and "greatness" on the basis of how well we can turn a blind eye to the corruption within.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Only two presidential debates?

GOP strategist Scott Reed was quoted by the Reuter news agency this week as saying the Bush camp's position is that "two debates are sufficient and will not dominate the entire fall schedule."

Sure. That's the reason. It couldn't be because El Dopo can't be trusted speaking spontaneously not to totally blow it.

Anyway, I'm not so sure there's any need for any debates. Choose either war candidate according to your moral values on domestic issues. Why waste your time watching "debates" between a bore with no personality and a complete idiot?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Fighting the perpetual war on terror

It's become a bit of a problem in a campaign year. How to balance perpetual war with the need to claim a victory.

Monty Bush Python: "What I meant to say...."

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Bush-Cheney campaign

LaBelle says she got an invitation to hear the dynamic duo in Missouri today (is it today?). She won't be going. Chicken. And my comment was something about how incredible it is that Cheney is still in the running. With all the investigations going on that lead to Cheney's office, and his Halliburton involvement, at a sane time in our history, or if we hadn't completely taken leave of our senses in this country, the man would already be drummed out of office in shame at the very least.

Josh Marshall commented from the RNC:

I hustled my way up to the seventh floor to listen to Vice President Cheney’s speech in the hall itself. My first thought was, bold words for a man whose office is the subject of an on-going criminal inquiry. But apparently that’s not the subject of polite conversation.

LaBelle says she read that Josh is from Missouri. So, while we do spawn evil in the likes of AssKKKroft and Limpbowel, we turn out some counterbalance, as well.

Good vs. Evil

It's the American mantra these days. Sheesh. And a big sigh.

Campaigns always have the game of catching each other out on awkward quotes. But it used to be that if one got caught calling the other 'evil', that meant some staffer was about to get tossed out on his ear. No more apparently...

If I were a Republican, I'd be thoroughly embarrassed to admit it.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Winning the war on terror

Josh Marshall posts the obvious. However, it seems to me that the success the Incompetent Oaf of Office is crowing about is simply being misrepresented. It's a success for the Bushists all right. They've created a war on terror - a perpetual money-making war - where none existed before.

And some people (Josh Marshall here) are starting to catch on:

I’ve been listening closely to the way these [RNC] speakers talk about war – its immanence and ever-presence, often in ways that don’t jump out at you. In his speech on Monday Sen. George Allen --- current head of the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee --- called this election “the most important since 1980” and then went on to describe this one and that one both as “elections decided in the midst of war.”

The ‘war’ he was talking about for 1980, of course, was the Cold War. But the tenor of the comparison to me had an ominous feel, a retrospective redefinition of the past aimed at making war seem like a permanent, ever-present condition.

Update: Spying on Iran for Israel

FBI counterintelligence investigators have in recent weeks questioned current and former U.S. officials about whether a small group of Iran specialists at the Pentagon and in Vice President Cheney's office may have been involved in passing classified information to an Iraqi politician or a U.S. lobbying group allied with Israel, according to sources familiar with or involved in the case.
  WaPo article

Gee, you think?

Catching up on Greg Palast

Normally, Palast's e-mail articles are sporadic, but while I was gone this past week, three came in. I'll excerpt some bits for you, but for the full accounts and more of his investigative reporting, visit Greg Palast's website.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

...This week, former Lt. Governor Ben Barnes of Texas 'fessed up to pulling the strings to keep Little George out of the jungle. "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas Air Guard - and I'm ashamed."


That's far from the end of the story. In 1994, George W. Bush was elected governor of Texas by a whisker. By that time, Barnes had left office to become a big time corporate lobbyist. To an influence peddler like Barnes, having damning information on a sitting governor is worth its weight in gold – or, more precisely, there’s a value in keeping the info secret.

Barnes appears to have made lucrative use of his knowledge of our President's slithering out of the draft as a lever to protect a multi-billion dollar contract for a client.

Just after Bush's election, Barnes' client GTech Corp., due to allegations of corruption, was about to lose its license to print money: its contract to run the Texas state lottery. Barnes, says the Justice Department document, made a call to the newly elected governor's office and saved GTech's state contract.

The letter said, "Governor Bush ... made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid [the GTech lottery contract] because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign."

In that close race, Bush denied the fix was in to keep him out of 'Nam, and the US media stopped asking questions. What did the victorious Governor Bush's office do for Barnes? According to the tipster, "Barnes agreed never to confirm the story [of the draft dodging] and the governor talked to the chair of the lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid."

And so it came to pass that the governor's commission reversed itself and gave GTech the billion dollar deal without a bid.

The happy client paid Barnes, the keeper of Governor Bush's secret, a fee of over $23 million. Barnes, not surprisingly, denies that Bush took care of his client in return for Barnes' silence. However, confronted with the evidence, the former Lt. Governor now admits to helping the young George stay out of Vietnam.

...By the way: I first reported this story in 1999, including the evidence of payback, in The Observer of London. US media closed its eyes. Then I put the story on British television last year in the one-hour report, "Bush Family Fortunes." American networks turned down BBC's offer to run it in the USA. "Wonderful film," one executive told me, "but Time Warner is not going to let us put this on the air." However, US networks will take cash for advertisements calling Kerry a Vietnam coward.

I know you won't believe this, but our President told a whopper in New York
by Greg Palast
An update of our report from last Labor Day.

Monday, September 6, 2004

...President Bush announced in his convention acceptance speech in New York this week that he was changing overtime rules to give workers "comp time" off, instead of pay. He forgot to mention that a couple of days before, on August 23, his Labor Department had already put in half the plan -- eliminating overtime pay for millions -- while failing to put into the regs one word about comp time. In the pre-September 11 days, we used to call what the President said, "lying."

Nevertheless, workers getting their pay snipped shouldn't complain, because they will all be receiving promotions. These employees will be re-classified as managers exempt from the law. The change is promoted by the National Council of Chain Restaurants. You've met these 'managers' - they're the ones in the beanies and aprons whose management decisions are, "Hold the lettuce on that."

...My favorite of Chao's little amendments would re-classify as "exempt professionals" anyone who learned their skill in the military. In other words, thousands of veterans will now lose overtime pay. I just can't understand why Bush didn't announce that one when he landed on the aircraft carrier.

...I can hear the moaners and bleeding hearts saying this sounds like the Labor Department is telling Big Business how to evade the law. Yep, that's what the Department is doing. Right there on page 15,576 of the Federal Register it says,

"Affected employers would have four choices concerning potential payroll costs: ... (#4) converting salaried employees' basis of pay to an hourly rate that result in virtually no changes to the total compensation paid those workers."

And in case some employer is dense as a president and doesn't get the hint, Comrade Chao repeats, "The fourth choice above results in virtually no (or only a minimal) increase in labor costs."

...And there is good news for our sporting President. Word from the White House is he'll be golfing on the Labor Day weekend. Under Chao's rules he need not worry if he wants to replay that hole. "Exempt professionals" who cannot earn overtime - once defined as doctors, lawyers and those with specialized college degrees - will now include anyone who provides skilled advice ... like caddies ("You might try the other end of the club, Mr. President").

President Declares "Ownership Society"
Tells Convention He's Ordered Invasion of Social Security Trust Fund
by Greg Palast

September 2, 2004

...Social Security is an insurance plan. You pay in, you get back. But it's hard to get your money back when there's a war where the Clinton surplus used to be. It's not the war on terror, or the war in Iraq, though Lord knows those have cost us a bundle with nothing to show for all the lost loot. I'm talking about the class war that Dubya and his Dick Cheney have waged on the average working person.

We're talking an economic Pearl Harbor here. While firemen and policemen went running into falling buildings, the Bushmen were preparing to relieve some gazillionaires, such as say, the Bush family, of the need to pay the taxes that the rest of us pay. Work as a teacher, you pay Social Security and income taxes on every darn penny. Sit on your yacht and speculate in the stock market casino and you are off the hook on taxes on the "capital gains."

Bill Clinton proposed putting his big surpluses into a Social Security "lock-box" for that predictable rainy day. But tonight, Bush instead proposes to give the stock-options class a boost by lopping off a chunk of Social Security insurance revenue for gambling in the stock market.

...Here's the latest report from the front lines of the class war: The World Bank reports the USA has more millionaires than ever -- we'll see them at the Garden tonight. Median household income's down -- most of us are median -- while the bottom has fallen out for those at the bottom. Our poorest 20% have seen incomes drop by a fifth. America's upper one percent now own 53% of all the shares in the market.

And now the uppers want to crack open your retirement piggy bank, cut some of your retirement benefits, then "allow" you to give them the remainder of your money to fund their latest stock float schemes.

If betting trillions on stock market ponies doesn't produce a big win, what does Mr. Bush propose to do with all the hungry old folk? I think I heard George say, "Let them eat Enron certificates."

...And the future market fall, Mr. President, is a slam-dunk certainty. Let's do the math. OK, class, we all buy stock this afternoon to fund our retirement. In fifteen years, baby-boomers are ready to kick back, take it easy and retire on the stock they're about to sell. Did I say, "SELL"? And HOW. Around 2020, tens of millions of "owners" will be selling their shares … to whom? CRRRRASH!

A deliberate policy of aiming for another 1929 is appropriate for the top-hat and pinky-ring party of Herbert Hoover.

The big problem is that supposedly non-partisan and even Democratic poobahs are rushing to "reform" Social Security. We have Alan Greenspan, who has barely a word to say about the multi-trillion dollar deficit wrought by Mr. Bush's tax cuts, yet is already warning about some disaster in Social Security based on "trends." Well, if we go by his own trend, the Fed chief will soon be marrying a 12-year-old Girl Scout.

Hey, Alan, back to Economics 101 for you. As the boomers hit retirement age, we're going to need added borrowing for transfer payments like Social Security to maintain purchasing power to keep the economy alive while millions of old folk dump assets.

Listen, Mr. President, we had an "ownership" society once before. Luckily, it came to an end when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Maybe Mr. Greenspan is counting on offsetting that problem with boomers reaching retirement age by upping it to age 67. And maybe Mr. Greenspan is getting senile.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

African-Latin American unity?

Here's an interesting article (to me anyway). An African nation leader (and V.P. of the African Union) has asked Venezuela's Hugo Chávez for help in resolving conflict with another African nation. I don't know what qualifies Venezuela's president for this role, but how interesting. Mr. Chávez has repeatedly portrayed himself as the great challenger and antidote to George Bush in world economics and political affairs. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but with China making deals with Venezuela (and Cuba?) for oil and trade (and presumably military support), and the ever-strengthening alliances of Latin American/Caribbean countries around Chávez' "revolution", it seems as though we are in the midst of a steady shift in world power. And when I look at the whole picture, it seems to me that we may well be in the beginnings of the end of the U.S. as the dominating force. Time will tell, I suppose. It could also simply be more of the great global mitosis - the dance of genes aligning along two sides of a separating line, as the world becomes acutely polarized. See? Polarization is not necessarily a bad thing. It happens when a "daughter" cell is being created.

Abdelazi took the opportunity to tell President Chavez Frias of general conditions in the African country and about his role as vice president of the African Union ... "we have agreed on the need for Latin America and the African continent to collaborate and conduct joint actions."

And gain freedom from Corporate rule? That would be an interesting daughter indeed. You go, girl.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Okay, so it wasn't al-Douri

Got your hopes up there, didn't they? In fact, the Iraqi puppet government is in synch with American media. Announce it with fanfare, and people will believe it forever. So the Bush's RNC campaigning on winning the war on terror got its boost. Never mind that it was another lie that gave it.

In the meantime, Falluja is still paying for the sins of Mohammed, but not going down without a good fight.

Seven US marines and three Iraqi national guards were killed Monday in the deadliest anti-coalition attack in months, as Iraqi officials sheepishly retracted claims Saddam's deputy had been captured.
  Turkish press article

As for the al-Douri fiasco, the Salaheddin province governor apparently hasn't been clued or clubbed. Loose canon there.

"Today, I am happy to say there was a person arrested. But after making appropriate checks, it was not Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri. It was one of his relatives. He is also wanted but he is not on any major lists," interior ministry spokesman Sabah Kadhim said.

Doubts over the initial claim first emerged on Sunday.

"There was no operation to arrest Izzat al-Duri in my province and I have no idea where all this false and irresponsible information came from," said Hamad Hmud al-Qaissi, the governor of Salaheddin province.

...Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office announced Sunday that DNA tests were being carried out on a suspect, but an official from the health ministry denied such tests were being carried out on any detainee.

All for the press. To feed the coalition of the willing to believe Bush. (Better club that health ministry official, too.)

Meanwhile, attackers set ablaze a pipeline providing gas to a major electrical plant south of the northern city of Kirkuk, threatening power shortages in large swathes of northern Iraq, local officials said.

And here's a very interesting account of the Falluja offensive from Arabic News...

Two Iraqis were killed and other 8 were injured in an American artillery bombardment that targeted a military barrack for the Iraqi forces which assume peace keeping in Faluja city to the west of Baghdad.

The American tanks opened fire from its artillery intensively at al-Shuhadaa ( martyrs ) quarters to the east of the city. The bombardment came following demonstrations that took place in the city following Friday's prayers in protest of the American raid on Wednesday when some 20 Iraqis were killed.

The demonstration was called for by mosques preachers in Falluja who also asked for the need of keeping the Iraqi police and army forces in the city.

It may be propaganda. However, it would certainly fit in with what I believe is actually happening in Falljua, which is that we are committing genocide. And it seems odd that they would offer the information that the U.S. bombed Iraqi peace-keeping forces without any explanation or comment, as though no one would question it. As though it were simply part of the U.S. program. Falluja has been specifically targeted for bombing into submission ever since the four mercernaries were killed and their bodies were strung up from a bridge amidst great celebration.

For more on the systematic razing of Falluja, I've got a listing of my posts on the subject here.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

New York, New York

I really don't want to care about what's going on right now. I just got back from a week off, and I liked it. Or at least, I liked it better. And when I win the lottery, I'm going to find a secluded place somewhere on an ocean beach somewhere and just hang out until the end comes. I guess I'll have to start buying tickets.

But I did catch this from Bob linking to Dave Barry, and found it amusing:

You may be wondering why the Republicans decided to hold their convention in New York.

According to an explanation issued by the GOP site-selection committee: "We considered such factors as hotel space, meeting facilities, transportation and the financial incentives offered by the city. Then we smoked crack."

That's the only way it makes sense. Because if you're looking for cities that would be appropriate hosts for a large national gathering of Republicans, New York is going to be pretty far down your list, somewhere below Havana.

Yeah, the wingnuts slam New York every time they write about it. Often call it Blue York City. But of course, you know the Bushits would never use 9/11 for political gain.

Apologies for not getting the new Blogger format cleared up with LaBelle, or she would have posted while I was gone.

Oh well.

You know what happened. Same old shit. More of it.

Great timing! Again!

Man, oh man. That George has the best of luck. Catching the evilest of those evil doers at precisely the right moments - DNC, RNC...

Old #6 - Izzat al-Douri: I've been waiting and watching for his capture.

Mr. Ibrahim, an uneducated ice peddler who became one of Mr. Hussein's most feared henchmen, was apprehended at a medical clinic where he had gone to receive treatment for leukemia, Iraqi officials said. One Iraqi official said that Mr. Ibrahim was accompanied by a large team of bodyguards, and that the ensuing battle left as many as 70 people dead and 80 wounded.
  NY Times article

Well, wait a minute...

BAGHDAD, Sept 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Confusion reigns in Iraq's government over whether the most wanted Saddam Hussein aide, ex-Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, had been caught on Sunday.

Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan told Lebanon's LBC television that reports of the arrest of Ibrahim, who was sixth on a US list of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam's administration, were baseless.

However, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office later said that they captured "someone" and a DNA test is needed to confirm whether the man is Ibrahim.

We caught someone.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Remember to vote


I receive emails from Greg Palast whenever he has an update to his website.

I'll post this one in its entirety. And then I'm off for a week. La Belle may have some goodies for you while I'm gone, so check in.


Madame Butterfly Flies Off with Ballots
Florida Fixed Again? Absentee Ballots Go Absent
by Greg Palast

Sunday, August 29, 2004.

On Friday, Theresa LePore, Supervisor of Elections in Palm Beach, candidate for re-election as Supervisor of Elections, chose to supervise her own election, no one allowed. This Tuesday, Florida votes for these nominally non-partisan posts.

You remember Theresa, "Madame Butterfly," the one whose ballots brought in the big vote for Pat Buchanan in the Jewish precincts in November 2000. Then she failed to do the hand count that would have changed the White House from Blue to Red.

This time, Theresa's in a hurry to get to the counting. She began tallying absentee ballots on Friday in her own re-election race. Not to worry: the law requires the Supervisor of Elections in each county to certify poll-watchers to observe the count.

But Theresa has a better idea. She refused to certify a single poll-watcher from opponents' organizations despite the legal requirement she do so by last week. She'll count her own votes herself, thank you very much!

And so far, she's doing quite well. Although 37,000 citizens have requested absentee ballots, she says she'd only received 22,000 when she began the count. Where are the others? Don't ask: though she posts the names of requesters, she won't release the list of those who have voted, an eyebrow-raising deviation from standard procedure.

And she has no intention of counting all the ballots received. She has reserved for herself the right to determine which ballots have acceptable signatures. Her opponent, Democrat Art Anderson, had asked Theresa to use certified hand-writing experts, instead of her hand-picked hacks, to check the signatures.

Unfortunately, while Federal law requires Theresa to allow a voter to correct a signature rejection when registering, the Feds don't require her to permit challenges to absentee ballot rejections.

I know what you're thinking. How could Madame Butterfly know how people are voting? Well, she's printed PARTY AFFILIATION on the OUTSIDE of each return envelope. That certainly makes it easier to figure out which ballot is valid, don't it?

And dear Reader, please take note of the implications of this story for the big vote in November. Millions have sought refuge in absentee ballots as a method to avoid the dangers of the digitizing of democracy. Florida and other states are reporting 400%-plus increases in absentee ballot requests due to fear of the new computer voting machinery. Some refuge. LePore is giving us an early taste of how the Bush Leaguers intend to care for your absentee ballot.

If there's no safety in the absentee ballot, how about the computerized machines? The LePores of America have that one figured out too.

On Friday, the day on which Theresa began her Kremlim-style vote count, the New York Times ran a puff piece on Jeb's Palm Beach political pet. Cub reporter Amy Goodnough derided fears of Democrats who painted "dark scenarios" about the computer voting machines Madame Butterfly installed over the objections of the state's official voting technology task force.

If you're wondering why the experts told her not to use the machines, I'll tell you -- because the New York Times won't. It's not because the voting specialists are anti-technology Luddites. The fact is that Florida counties using touch-screens have reported a known error rate 600% greater than the alternative, paper ballots read by optical scanners. And those errors have occurred -- surprise! -- overwhelmingly in African-American precincts.

First Brother Jeb has teamed with LePore to keep the vote clean and white. Together they have refused the Democrats request for the more-reliable paper ballots as an option for voters.

In Leon County, by contrast, Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho insisted on paper ballots and did not lose a single vote to error in the March presidential primary. Sancho told me it's a slam-dunk certainty that the computer screens will snatch away several thousand Palm Beach votes.

Theresa and the Jebster have been quite close since LePore came out of the closet. The Republican-turned-Democrat, nominally independent, this year accepted the sticky embrace of the Republican Party. One really has to wonder if she ever truly left the Blues in the first place.

It's a shame that Supervisor LePore was too busy counting her votes and rejecting ballots to respond to my phone calls. I wanted to be the first to congratulate her on her election victory -- two days before the election. Or maybe she fears I might be the early birddog who catches the butterfly as she turns back into a worm.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His article on vote manipulation in Florida for Harper's Magazine, was nominated for a 2002 National Magazine Award.

Enjoy the RNC and the insanity. Remember, there are other worlds than this.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Another attack on Iraqi oil pipeline

In the constant stream of pipeline attacks...

Iraqi oil officials yesterday said that insurgents blew up a cluster of pipelines in southern Iraq, though they said they did not expect oil exports to be significantly reduced.

The pipelines carried crude oil from the Rumaila oil field, one of the two largest in Iraq, which is estimated to have 115 billion barrels of oil reserves. Television footage showed flames and smoke billowing into the air around Basra in southern Iraq.

And in case you've forgotten - we're still in trouble in Afghanistan.

Mission Accomplished

Damage done. Time to move on.

NEW YORK - President Bush [related, bio], seeking an end to the bitter infighting over John Kerry's medals before the start of his convention today, called Kerry's war record ``more heroic'' than his own.

Bush, in his strongest rebuttal yet of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that have dogged the Bay State senator for three weeks, credited Kerry for stepping into ``harm's way'' while he did not.

Asked in an interview to be broadcast this morning on NBC's ``Today'' show whether he believed he and Kerry served with the same level of heroism, Bush said, ``No, I don't.

``I think him going to Vietnam was more heroic than my flying fighter jets. He was in harm's way and I wasn't.'' The president said it's time to move on.

``I think that we ought to move beyond the past. . . . The real question is who best to lead us forward,'' Bush said.

He could have said those things a long time ago, when the Swiftboat Liars for the Truth ads first came out.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Brit wit

If I have to read about devious and outrageous politics, I'd just as soon read it dry wit British style...

To lift your depression, perhaps I may report a happier event. Baroness Thatcher's son, Mark, has been arrested in South Africa in connection with a plot to overthrow the dictatorship in Equatorial Guinea for the entirely noble purpose of clearing the way for Western oil companies to exploit the deposits of oil off the coast.

Since March, plotters have been arrested, and some found guilty, in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Guinea, among other places. It was a really high-class plot, organised by old Etonians, one of whom is the heir to the Watney Mann English beer fortune. Mark Thatcher apparently tried to buy a helicopter as part of the plot. He was arrested in his pyjamas as he was getting ready to leave his palatial home in South Africa (where else?) to take up residence in Texas (where else?)

Thatcher, who is a baronet (a hereditary knight, courtesy of his mother) is commonly regarded in Britain as being 'as thick as two short planks', but like George W Bush, he made a lot of money when no one expected him to.

John O'Farrell in Friday's Guardian was grateful that Sir Mark hadn't followed his mother into politics, as Bush followed Bush into the White House; he remarked:
"In fact, episodes like this remind us of the type of morality that prevailed during the greedy Thatcher years. Thank heavens things have moved on. Can you imagine our current prime minister being associated with the sort of people who'd embark on some ill-thought-out military adventure because they hoped to install a regime that would allow them to get their hands on the country's oil reserves? It's completely unthinkable."

More of this week's news at the Jamaica Observer.

Olympics conclude

A man from the crowd of spectators stole the marathon gold from the lead runner, a Brazilian.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Source: BBC

You can read the sign. I can read the sign. But the BBC reporter and editors can't.

The protester, wearing a kilt and a green beret and a white placard with the words "The Grand Prix priest. Israel fulfillment of prophecy says the bible, the second coming is near," on it, was immediately arrested and taken to a police station.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer identified the man as Portugese. The BBC account says this:

He appears to be Cornelius "Neil" Horan, a former priest who disrupted last year's British Grand Prix. He was then jailed for two months following his race track protest at Silverstone.

A police source said: "The man says he is Irish, he is also drunk. He had been to a taverna earlier. Police are going through his stuff."

I don't know who you want to believe, but I'd withhold my conclusion for a while. It doesn't look as though anybody's all that reliable. Best guess at this time is that it is indeed the Irishman. Gotta keep us Irish away from the Guinness.

Such is the ignominious end to the Olympic games.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

At this rate...

US forces have fought with an Iraqi police unit in the centre of Kirkuk in a clash that police describe as a "mistake".

Two Iraqi policemen were badly wounded and US occupation forces arrested six of their comrades after the overnight battle, police Colonel Farhat Qadir said on Friday.

"The battle happened by mistake," he said, declining to elaborate.
Aljazeera article

I really wonder what we're not being told. Are the police actively rebelling?

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Razing Falluja

The continuing story...

An Iraqi was killed and 13 wounded in overnight fighting on Saturday as US forces conducted their latest raids on the city.

The attacks struck the city's eastern al-Askari neighbourhood as well as the industrial area at the eastern entrance of Falluja, in addition to the Niaamiya district.

At least four homes were destroyed and people were seen being rushed to hospital.

"The attack set a textile factory in the industrial quarter on fire while plumes of smoke were seen rising from some of the targeted areas," sources told Aljazeera.
Aljazeera article

Previous Falluja posts.

Iran-Contra II? - Part II

Juan Cole has another post on the Israeli spy case. (His earlier post is here.)

It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the United States, and then Iran.

... Matthew Yglesias has already tipped us to a key piece of information. The Niger forgeries also try to implicate Iran. Indeed, the idea of a joint Iraq/Iran nuclear plot was so far-fetched that it is what initially made the Intelligence and Research division of the US State Department suspicious of the forgeries, even before the discrepancies of dates and officials in Niger were noticed.

...Franklin, Ledeen, and Rhode, all of them pro-Likud operatives, just happen to be meeting with SISMI (the proto-fascist purveyor of the false Niger uranium story about Iraq and the alleged Iran-Iraq plot against the rest of the world) and corrupt Iranian businessman and would-be revolutionary, Ghorbanifar, in Europe. The most reasonable conclusion is that they were conspiring together about the Next Campaign after Iraq, which they had already begun setting in train, which is to get Iran.

But now The Jerusalem Post reveals that at least one of the meetings was quite specific with regard to an attempt to torpedo better US/Iran relations...

...Franklin's movements reveal the contours of a rightwing conspiracy of warmongering and aggression, an orgy of destruction, for the benefit of the Likud Party, of Silvio Berlusconi's business in the Middle East, and of the Neoconservative Right in the United States. It isn't about spying. It is about conspiring to conscript the US government on behalf of a foreign power or powers.


Josh Marshall's take provides the title (Iran-Contra II) from my earlier post.

I expect some developments in this while I'm away this week. You'll most likely be finding the best commentary and analyses at Juan Cole's Informed Comment, and Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo.

There are times when I think the world of intrigue has gotten beyond even the best imagination of Hollywood writers, and that it would be impossible to sort it all out. I wonder if the players themselves ever do. Maybe the game is what is attractive - not to mention the power stakes, of course - but personally, I'd prefer a thatched hut on a Caribbean island, and some books.

Maybe some good bourbon.

And I wish they'd find a way to play the game without turning the world into a toxic wasteland. Somehow, that part never concerns them.

Protester legal rights and information

For anyone planning on protesting this week, know your rights and what to do if....

Information at United for Peace and Justice.

RNC protests

I haven't got the time to watch this 30-minute video about the planning for protests in New York City, but you might want to. I'll try to get to it when I get back from the Gulf. It's at Bag News Notes, with this note:

With the Republican's spinning the demonstrations as unpatriotic and even anarchistic, this piece makes it clear how difficult it has become to exercise the right to protest and why the events this week have such potential for trouble.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Which war is it?

Or is it just one war in different places?

The Vietnam War was, and is, many things to many people. America was torn apart by the war and the wounds of separation have not entirely healed. There will always be a national scar from that war. Someday it's redness may fade to pink, just as the scar of the Civil War has faded. But the scar will always be there, and the disagreements about the war will always exist in the historical memory of our country.

Some will try to influence that historical memory to suit their own political agenda or personal needs. Some of us will try to emphasize one aspect of the war or another for the same reasons. Some will want the historical memory to reflect their own experience, and others will want it to reflect just the facts.

But what are the facts? There are as many facts about the war as there are points of view. But certain facts are incontrovertible: The United States won all the battles, but lost the war. The US lost over 58,000 American lives. The Vietnamese lost over a million lives. Billions of dollars were spent. Millions of tons of bombs were dropped. There were countless mental and physical injuries to the American and Vietnamese people. And there were countless deaths and injuries to animal and plant life. The North Vietnamese won the war, and the government that exists in Vietnam today is one of their own creation. The United States has survived the loss of the Vietnam War, and Communism did not take over the world.

...The United States has taken on a new war in Iraq. In November the American People will choose a President. In the American media an argument has been engaged that pits those veterans of the Vietnam War who spoke against the war when they came home against those who resent them for it. Most of those who spoke against the war support John Kerry. Most of those who resent them support George Bush. Those who support Kerry play up his war record and play down his protest. Those who support Bush play down his National Guard record and play up his war against terrorism.

Personally, I don't begrudge John Kerry for protesting the war -- I did it too. And I don't begrudge George Bush for joining the National Guard -- I found a way of avoiding combat in Vietnam also. What I do begrudge them both for is their unwillingness to fully admit to why they did what they did. And even more, I resent their unwillingness to discuss, honestly, what's happening in Iraq.


Which brings us back to AWOL's war record.

Former Texas Lt. Governor Barnes' recent taped admission isn't exactly news. Back in 1999, the Washington Post had this article:

The speaker, Ben Barnes, intervened on Bush's behalf sometime in late 1967 or early 1968 at the request of a good friend of Bush's father, then a Republican congressman from Houston, the sources said. The friend, Sidney A. Adger, was a prominent Houston business executive who died in 1996. The Guard official contacted at his behest, Brig. Gen. James M. Rose, died in 1993.

Both Bush, now governor of Texas and front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, and his father, the former president, say they did not ask for any help with Guard officials and have no knowledge of any assistance from Adger or anyone else.

"Gov. Bush did not need and did not ask anybody for help," said a Bush campaign spokesman, Scott McClellan. "President Bush has said he did not seek any help for his son in getting into the National Guard."

Jean Becker, a spokeswoman for former president Bush, confirmed that the senior Bush and Adger were good friends, but she said Bush firmly denies talking to Adger about helping his son get into the Guard.

I would think someone in the former president's position wouldn't have to actually ask. I imagine there are some unwritten rules of engagement when it comes to these matters - political favors might not require an actual verbal or written request.

The question of how George W. Bush got into the Texas Guard as a pilot trainee less than two weeks before his graduation from Yale has been a recurring issue in his political campaigns and has now been raised in a contentious lawsuit in which Barnes, who retired from politics after serving as House speaker and then lieutenant governor, is scheduled to give a deposition in Austin Sept. 27.

Barnes said in an interview this summer that when he was speaker he sometimes received requests for help in obtaining Guard slots, but never received such a call from then-Rep. Bush or anyone in the Bush family. But he declined to comment when asked if an intermediary or friend of the Bush family had ever asked him to intercede on George W. Bush's behalf.

I believe the maxim is "silence gives consent".

Barnes has refused to make any further statement. However, he has told associates in Texas that Adger once called him seeking his help for George W. Bush.

...The suit involving Barnes was brought by former Texas lottery director Lawrence Littwin, who was fired by the state lottery commission, headed by Bush appointee Harriet Miers, in October 1997 after five months on the job. It contends that Gtech Corp., which runs the state lottery and until February 1997 employed Barnes as a lobbyist for more than $3 million a year, was responsible for Littwin's dismissal.

Littwin's lawyers have suggested in court filings that Gtech was allowed to keep the lottery contract, which Littwin wanted to open up to competitive bidding, in return for Barnes's silence about Bush's entry into the Guard.

Barnes and his lawyers have denounced this "favor-repaid" theory in court pleadings as "preposterous . . . fantastic [and] fanciful."

...But while the Barnes camp has scoffed at the assertions of a payback for a 30-year-old favor, they have been more circumspect about the "favor" itself. In a motion seeking to block the deposition, Barnes's lawyer, Charles R. Burton, simply contended that whatever Barnes did in recommending "qualified candidates for service in the Guard" was irrelevant, private and privileged.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin rejected the argument, saying he was "unpersuaded" by what amounted to a last-minute pleading that Barnes could have submitted weeks earlier.

You know, you think 30 years is enough time to bury whatever little indiscretions you might have committed.

But, at least it's sometimes enough to make the indiscretion heat for somebody other than yourself, eh Barnes?

And Greg Palast has some background information on the affair.

Just after Bush's election, Barnes' client GTech Corp., due to allegations of corruption, was about to lose its license to print money: its contract to run the Texas state lottery. Barnes, says the Justice Department document, made a call to the newly elected governor's office and saved GTech's state contract.

The letter said, "Governor Bush ... made a deal with Ben Barnes not to rebid [the GTech lottery contract] because Barnes could confirm that Bush had lied during the '94 campaign."

In that close race, Bush denied the fix was in to keep him out of 'Nam, and the US media stopped asking questions. What did the victorious Governor Bush's office do for Barnes? According to the tipster, "Barnes agreed never to confirm the story [of the draft dodging] and the governor talked to the chair of the lottery two days later and she then agreed to support letting GTech keep the contract without a bid."

And so it came to pass that the governor's commission reversed itself and gave GTech the billion dollar deal without a bid.

The happy client paid Barnes, the keeper of Governor Bush's secret, a fee of over $23 million. Barnes, not surprisingly, denies that Bush took care of his client in return for Barnes' silence. However, confronted with the evidence, the former Lt. Governor now admits to helping the young George stay out of Vietnam.

Take a look at the letter yourself - with information we confirmed with other sources.

The letter is unreadable unless you move your cursor over it (it should change to a magnifying glass icon) and click. It's still difficult to read, but it's doable.

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.