Monday, April 30, 2007

After All, They Bought the Phony WMD Evidence

Wolfowitz is going to argue that the ethics panel at the World Bank knew of and approved the promotion and healthy pay raise he gave his girlfriend Shaha Riza.

What's his evidence? He has a letter.

The panel's chairman, Ad Melkert, said in the "Dear Paul" letter that an allegation relating to "a matter which had been previously considered by the committee did not contain new information warranting any further review."

The letter didn't specifically mention Wolfowitz or his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, by name. However, Wolfowitz's attorney, Robert Bennett, said the letter is proof that Melkert was aware of Wolfowitz' role in securing the compensation package. "There is no question that he knew," Bennett said Sunday.

  Yahoo article

Okay, then.


....do what you want....you will anyway.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

2008

On All Things Considered, I just heard Hillary Clinton shout to a cheering crowd in California: "The very first thing I will do upon taking office is end the war in Iraq and bring the troops home!"

That's pretty unequivocal.

A guy at the library told me that May 15 is "don't buy gasoline" day. If you want to participate.


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


(Nice segue from one topic to the other, eh?)


The Baghdad Wall


story


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Because It Has To

The NYT referred today to remarks made by Bush in a January meeting with Congressional leaders which I don’t seem to have caught at the time. 1) “I said to Maliki this has to work or you’re out.” You have to wonder if he really said that to Maliki in those words. You also have to wonder what the congresscritters said. 2) Asked why he thought the surge would work, Bush responded, “Because it has to.” You have to wonder if he believes that’s actually some sort of logical argument.

Sigh, no you don’t.

  W3IAI post

Sigh, indeed.

How will we survive two more long years of pathos?




Bushie Award

In typical Bush Administration fashion (think George Tenet, Tommy Franks and Paul Bremer receiving Medal of Freedom awards), Robert Coughlin, who just resigned from the Justice Department, was given last year's Attorney General Award for Fraud Prevention.

David Kurtz comments:

In September, Coughlin was honored for his work on fraud and white collar crime. By the following April, he was out because of his alleged connections to the one of the largest white collar crime investigations in DOJ's history. Only in the Gonzales Justice Department.


P.S. If you need more evidence to connect the Gonzales DoJ to efforts to prevent Democratic votes, Kurtz also points out that another lawyer to receive an award (including cash) earned it by being the only one of four in the civil rights division to vote in favor of a voter identification law that was later struck down as being discriminatory to minorities.


Bill Moyers

Fortunately for us, and for all the world, including generations to come, Bill Moyers has come out of retirement. Moyers says he starts his day with Josh Marshall and ends it with Jon Stewart. Not bad bookends, those.

If you click the picture below, you can watch his excellent interview with Jon Stewart (the Daily Show) which aired on TV last night. From the same link, you can watch his report on the US Attorney purge, which includes an interview with Josh Marshall of TPM. And if you click here, you can watch an interview Moyers did with Jon Stewart in 2003.

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


Purge

Josh Marshall has been posting little bits about the situation in Missouri. Somebody else has been looking there, too. But from another angle that includes Medicare fraud, medical supplies, and the PATRIOT ACT.
Why didn't the Senate Judiciary Committee ask Gonzales under oath, WHAT the US Attorneys were investigating before they were fired, or in this particular case, included the death of 2 assistant US Attorneys? WHY didn't they bring up the fact that the entire fraud division of the US Attorney's office in Dallas/FtWorth was wiped out?


Check it out.


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


Friday Document Dump

So, okay, it's Saturday. But here's what happened yesterday...

Josh Marshall posted a letter from one of his readers who astutely observes,

So. It's Friday, and the Pentagon leaks word that a top al-Qaeda operative has been captured. Or, actually, that he was captured last year, but that he's just been transferred from the custody of the CIA to DoD. Wait, that's not quite right. He was transferred earlier in the week. But still. It's important news. Right?

Only here's the thing. When you have a story like this, you don't release it on a Friday. There's nothing time-critical about it. There's no reason to squander the positive headlines on the slowest media day of the week.

Maybe you've already heard something. Or maybe we'll get the word in the next few hours. But I can't think of a surer sign that the administration will be releasing some information later today that it would rather we all ignored.

Who knows? It could be a post-Gonzales testimony DoJ document dump. It might be word of another probe into Rove. Maybe the RNC will be turning over some e-mails. But you can take it to the bank - something's coming down the pike.

Fast forward a bit to later in the day (you think the admin is getting a bit too predictable?)...

A big new bundle of documents just got dumped by the Department of Justice.

  TPM Muckraker post

...and a bit further...

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.

[...]

On Thursday, Tobias told ABC News he had several times called the "Pamela Martin and Associates" escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage." Tobias, who is married, said there had been "no sex," and that recently he had been using another service "with Central Americans" to provide massages.

[...]

As the Bush administration's so-called "AIDS czar," Tobias was criticized for emphasizing faithfulness and abstinence over condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS.

  ABC News

Marshall has a quote that I can't source (other than Marshall, and I'm not sure he means it as a true quote, or a sarcastic paraphrasing): "I was using one service that sent Thai broads. Now I get 'em to send Central Americans."

Broads. At any rate, we do have the sourced quote calling them "gals". His attitude toward these women does seem a little pimpish, or at least quite casual. (Would you refer to a professional legitimate masseuse as a "gal"? Especially in an interview.)

This current gang of Republicans give new meaning to the name Grand Old Party.

By the way, the limousine service that shuttled girls to and from Duke Cunningham's "parties" is suing the Department of Homeland Security for the loss of their contract.

But, back to the matter at hand of the Friday news they'd just as soon you didn't notice (and indeed most people won't - Friday after lunch is the beginning of our weekend of All American fun)...

A senior Justice Department official has resigned after coming under scrutiny in the department's expanding investigation of convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to federal law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case.

Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Justice Department, Robert E. Coughlin II was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the department's probe of Abramoff.

  McClatchy article

In fact, he resigned April 6, although you won't find the news of it until yesterday. He said he was simply resigning because he was relocating to Texas. (Where crooks are more welcome than many other places.)

That was yesterday.

This is today:

A federal task force investigating the activities of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has in recent weeks been looking into whether one of Abramoff's colleagues improperly traded favors with a Justice Department lawyer.

[...]

[Robert E.] Coughlin had worked in the criminal division since 2005 but was recused from the Abramoff inquiry because of a longtime personal friendship with Kevin A. Ring, one of Abramoff's lobbying colleagues whose actions are under investigation

[...]

Coughlin and Ring were friends on Capitol Hill in the 1990s when both worked as staffers to then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), who became attorney general in 2001.

[...]

Ring took Coughlin to sporting events with tickets provided by his lobbying firm, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

The task force has tracked millions of dollars in meals, trips, tickets, gifts and campaign contributions that the Abramoff lobbying team lavished on lawmakers and staffers. The investigation has so far resulted in 11 convictions and guilty pleas from lobbyists, staffers, two administration officials and a congressman.

[...]

Coughlin is the second Justice Department official whose name has surfaced in the wide-ranging Abramoff investigation. Earlier this year, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, deputy assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, abruptly resigned when her boyfriend -- now her husband -- was notified that he was a criminal target. J. Steven Griles, former deputy secretary of the Interior Department, has since pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Abramoff.

[...]

Coughlin's resignation and the surfacing of his name in the Abramoff investigation were first reported yesterday by McClatchy Newspapers.

  WaPo article

In the real world, nothing happens at the right place at the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to correct that. --Mark Twain

If you watched the Bill Moyers documentary Buying the War, you will know that McClatchy Newspapers now has working for them the two most prominent major media journalists (maybe the only two) actually digging into the run-up to Operation Iraqi Liberation and reporting the administration's lies and deceits: Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. At the time, they worked for Knight-Ridder papers. And at the time, no major media inside Washington picked up their stories or cared to do any investigating themselves.

So, you might want to get your news from McClatchy.


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

Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel
McClatchy photo


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Buying (and Selling) the War

Bill Moyers' "Buying the War," now online, generates an "overwhelming response," despite being buried by the New York Times, and falsely attacked on Fox.

After Moyers tells "Democracy Now!" that "the press ... has yet to understand its role," David Sirota argues that "What's really disturbing" is "what the Moyers documentary "says about the state of journalism today." More on 'our failed and barren press.'

  Cursor April 26 post - links embedded

You got lucky. You can see Moyers' TV show online by clicking the picture below, which will take you to a Bill Moyers' Journal page where you can choose to watch the video or read the transcript.


Leaving Home

Iraqi blogger Riverbend, living in Baghdad, who has been blogging since before the invasion, is shortly to be a refugee.


A Moment of Reality

General Petraeus thinks, "This effort may get harder before it gets easier."

He also acknowledges that it's going to take an "enormous" commitment - over time. And he thinks Syria and Iran - particularly Iran - are being "exceedingly unhelpful."

His assessment of the "key to success" is "disrupting [the] attacks."

What was it the kids used to say about grasping the obvious?

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down That Wall

Well, we're a long way from Reagan, and the last I read about the proposed wall in Baghdad, it got too much bad publicity and a thumbs down from the Iraqi government (although I did read somewhere that the wall was actually in the process of being built before the Iraqi government was consulted).

Still, this is for me the best and most creative Jon Stewart piece I've seen - and I've seen some good ones.

Have a look (at Raw Story).



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


Purge

If you have been reading about the latest presumed addition to the attorney purge story, Paul Charlton of Arizona (in connection with the Renzi House seat), Wampum has a post of merit, succinctly laying out the issue and considering the merits of inclusion.


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


Campaign of Terror

Keith Olbermann rips Rudi Guiliani. Among other things, Olbermann asks in response to Giuliani's insistence that only a Republican president can keep us "safe", whose party held the mayorship of New York City immediately after the first attack on the World Trade Center and made no priority of counter-terrorism measures for the next eight years until after the second attack?

You can watch Keith at Canonfire.


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


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Fox Appointed to Guard the Hen House

The decision to have the Office of Special Counsel investigate Karl Rove has Karl Rove's fingerprints all over it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Scott Bloch, who will be investigating Karl Rove, is not exactly a paragon of virtue. He is a Bush appointee to take the place of the openly gay Clinton appointee Elaine Kaplan. The facts that the Office of Special Counsel doesn't normally handle this type of investigation (the news folks have been referring to this as "a little known" agency in the government), and that Bloch is who he is, make me greatly suspicious that Karl himself ordered this particular investigation to avoid having the Democrats inevitably demand an independent counsel investigation into his activities.

Bloch's appointment wasn't popular with the Log Cabin Republicans (a gay organization - and how any gay could be a Republican is beyond me, but...) nor other people concerned with civil liberties. But it was in fact a typical Bush choice.

Yesterday, in testimony before the United States Senate, Bloch said that he did not believe current law protects federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

[...]

"Scott Bloch has made it clear that he is not enforcing the law and is openly defying the President, accordingly he should resign immediately," said Log Cabin Political Director Chris Barron.

  SourceWatch 2005 article

I have to say here that, although the President may avoid officially enacting gay discriminatory laws, one would not actually be defying him by practicing discrimination. He wouldn't have appointed this particular man to a whistle-blower protection agency if he were really concerned about gay rights.

Scott Bloch, is decimating the ability of government employees to turn in their bosses for wrongdoing -- which is apparently the way George W. Bush wants it. After all, Bush has spent five years replacing the government's inspectors general -- each agency's watchdog for investigating whistleblower complaints -- with partisan hacks.

[...]

The Office of Special Counsel exists to protect federal workers from job discrimination and whistle-blowing retaliation. Here's how Scott Bloch turned it into a haven for gay-bashing and partisan politics.

  Alternet article

Bloch, from Kansas, was appointed to the OSC in 2003 after serving in Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

WaPo photo


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Post-election Planning?

...[A]s these various investigations move forward -- how are Al Gonzales and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and a lot of other people ... what arrangements are they making for their safety and immunity after January 2009? Immunity from prosecution in the US? Abroad? We should pay close attention to the details of legislation the White House puts forward over the next eighteen months. You may not be thinking about this issue. But they are.

  Josh Marshall post

True, but they also may be thinking about another 9/11 or something big to scare people back into the fold.

Just saying.


Turdblossom Gets His Own Investigation

[T]the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

  LA Times article

More explanation for Karl's recent testiness.

The list of the Rove investigation topics includes the missing emails, US Attorney firings, and use of government agencies to promote party politics scandals.

This isn't a Democratic party initiated investigation from Congress. It comes from within the executive branch - "The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency." Therefore, I'm thinking the investigation is a ploy to "exonerate" Rove on all counts. Either that, or like I mentioned in an earlier post, an effort to protect the Boy Who Would Be King by sacrificing the guy next to him.


Update :

No sooner penned....

The guy heading up the OSC's investigation of Rove is under investigation himself:

The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general has been investigating allegations by current and former OSC employees that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch retaliated against underlings who disagreed with his policies -- by, among other means, transferring them out of state -- and tossed out legitimate whistle-blower cases to reduce the office backlog.

[...]

The probe is the most serious of many problems at the agency since Bloch, a Kansas lawyer who served at the Justice Department's Task Force for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, was appointed by President Bush three years ago. Since he took the helm in 2004, staffers at the OSC, a small agency of about 100 lawyers and investigators, have accused him of a range of offenses, from having an anti-gay bias to criticizing employees for wearing short skirts and tight pants to work.

  WaPo article

The employees are complaining that Bloch has been steadily obstructing the investigation.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking my first thought about the Rove investigation was probably the correct one.


Election Fraud

On November 3, 2004 -- the day before election day -- the Hosting History [of the Ohio Secretary of State’s webpage] reports a switch from OARnet to Smartech Corporation of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The hosting switches back to OARnet on November 5, 2004 -- the day after the election.

  Cannonfire post - sources credited

Why would that be? And who is Smartech?

For one thing, Smartech hosts the gwb43 web server of the RNC, where members of the administration and the DoJ have been sending emails to avoid going through the White House servers, which are subject to public (and Democratic) scrutiny. You remember - the "lost" emails that the Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed.

On Election Night 2004, the Republican Party not only controlled the vote-counting process in Ohio, the final presidential swing state, through a secretary of state who was a co-chair of the Bush campaign, but it also controlled the technology that allowed the tally of the vote in Ohio's 88 counties to be reported to the media and voters.

There are plenty of allegations of and investigations into fraud in Ohio 2004, including Bush victories in three counties with 120, 124 and 131 percent voter turnouts, and one precinct having 638 presidential voters, but 4,258 votes for George W! Cannonfire quotes a source that says these results "were routed by county election officials through Ohio's Secretary of State's office."

And Smartech?


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


Cosmic Discovery

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

  Yahoo article

Memo to potentially inhabitable planet:

RUN!!!!!!


Just Like Indiana!

And we made such fun of Mike Pence. Well, I guess he's getting the last laugh.

Inmates staged a two-hour riot at a medium-security men's prison Tuesday, injuring two staff members and setting fires in a courtyard.

[...]

Helicopter pictures showed officers in riot gear standing outside the prison fence and at least two fires burning in the courtyard.

  Yahoo article


Abramoff Strikes Again

Convicted felon lobbyist Jack Abramoff's gifts keep on giving.

Florida Representative Tom Feeney regrets an "embarassing episode" in his career.

Federal agents also have asked the St. Petersburg Times for an email sent to the newspaper by Feeney's office describing a golfing trip the congressman took with Abramoff to Scotland in 2003.

Feeney did not return calls for comment Monday. But his Washington office released a statement to the Times late Monday.

"Rep. Feeney considers this an embarrassing episode in his 17-year career as an elected official and an expensive lesson for him as a public servant," according to the statement.

  St. Petersburg Times article

Yes, since his fellow golfers Bob Ney and Tom Delay are respectively in the slammer and under investigation, and John Doolittle (R-CA) just gave up his House seat after being raided by the FBI last week, Tommy is (at least pretending to be) contrite. (And pretending to be a public servant, as well.)

Not so much about the episode where he allegedly attempted to contract a man to rig voting machines. (You should know that he denies it, and that the man who claims he was approached switched parties and ran against Feeney in the 2006 election.)

Feeney's biggest expense this year: legal fees - $23,000. Oh, and he just recently gave $1,000 of his Abramoff donated money to charity. Perhaps $1,000 is all he had left.

Maybe you know Mr. Feeney by his other distinction: named by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as one of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress.


Monday, April 23, 2007

We Prefer Freedom Fries

And France has all the trappings of a fair and democratic election.

Wouldn't it be neat if every candidate, Nader included, got the same amount of paid radio and television media? Wouldn't it be cool if we had run-off voting, so that one could vote "Green" or "Socialist" or "Anarchist" or ... and still vote for the better of the two major parties? Wouldn't it be wicked if the media had to STFU before calling Florida for Bush or Ohio for Bush or where ever the next SCOTUS-promoted fraud steals the election?

That's how it works in France

  Wampum post


It Coulda Happened to Anybody

My friend Tom sent me a link to this story. It seems a man being held in prison in Kentucky on assault charges was set free after prison officials received a fax ordering his release. Trouble is, it was a fake fax. Complete with spelling errors. On paper with no letterhead.

And the fax was received from a nearby grocery store.

The prison's director said their policies do not require them to check the source of faxes.

D'oh!

Barney Fife is alive and well in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mr Taylor said spelling mistakes are common on court documents.
Could that be Andy Taylor?


....Laugh or cry. Your choice.


Support Our Troops

Sgt. Jim Wilt wonders why Bagram air base - our largest in Afghanistan - flew the American flag at half-mast as ordered by President Bush to honor the dead students at Virginia Tech, when the flag is never lowered when an American soldier is killed there.


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


Purge

What we're really getting down to in the Attorney Purge case is vote manipulation, election fraud. And that lies squarely in Karl Rove's bailiwick. It's been speculated that eventually Bush will let Gonzo go in an effort to protect Turdblossom. (Yes, I know Bush says he has full confidence in Gonzales, but that's what he said about Rumsfeld, Mike Brown and Tenet before him.) But, Karl could be getting snappy these days, not only because the handcuffs are getting close to him (and he's just had a very close brush in the Valerie Plame outing case), but because, in the case that Bush himself might be implicated, it would then stand to reason that the Turdblossom would get the axe in an effort to protect the turd.

The administration has given as a prime reason for firing the eight US attorneys that they weren't sufficiently prosecuting voter fraud claims. These "voter fraud" issues took on special urgency after the Democrats took over Congress in '06, but were important to the administration as soon as the Bush band of marauders set foot in the White House, having just "won" Florida through a combination of scrubbing voter rolls in heavy Democratic counties and Supreme Court interference.

On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the [Justice Department's] Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.

  Columbia Tribune article

I guess you could argue that that's because the Republicans' side is right. However, that wouldn't be the considered opinion of Joseph Rich, chief of the Voting Rights Section until 2005:

“As more information becomes available about the administration’s priority on combating alleged, but not well-substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens."

As I quoted in an earlier post, out of all the civil rights cases the Bush DoJ prosecuted, only one was in favor of the minority African American cause.

Despite its efforts to make the Republican party the permanent Congressional majority, the GOP realized it was in hot water when the 2006 elections came around.

In Missouri, where Republican Sen. Jim Talent was fighting to hang onto his seat and hold the U.S. Senate for the GOP, a Republican-backed photo ID requirement cleared the state House of Representatives by one vote in May 2006 after an intense lobbying effort in which backers alleged voter fraud in heavily Democratic St. Louis and Kansas City.

“The White House was heavily involved” in the effort to win passage, state Rep. Bryan Stevenson, the Republican floor leader, said in a telephone interview.

At the moment, we are waiting for further information about how far into the White House the attorney purge reaches. We've heard that both Karl Rove and George Bush were personally involved in the firing of US Attorney David Iglesias for refusing to bring charges against a Democratic candidate for a seat in the New Mexico House in 2006. The Scoop lays it out:

Cong. Heather Wilson (R-NM) trailed her Democratic opponent in the first congressional district. She needed help. It appears that she requested a boost from U.S. Attorney Iglesias in the form of a timely pre election scandal involving a prominent Democrat. That’s how Iglesias read her phone call concerning a pre election indictment.

Sen. Pete Domenici, (R-NM) called Iglesias as well. According to Iglesias, there was a clearly implied request for a pre midterm Democratic sacrifice at the altar of election injustice. Iglesias reports that when he refused on the grounds that he lacked evidence (one of those minor details that tends to annoy those in power), Domenici simply stayed on the phone … silent.

Iglesias was gone in a heartbeat for not cooperating with a prosecution that would influence the 2006 midterm elections in his state. But who made the decision? Fingers were pointed but nothing stuck until last week. The Albuquerque Journal reports that during talks with Sen. Domenici, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to fire Iglesias unless the president gave the OK.

Well, Iglesias was fired wasn’t he?

Indeed he was.


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


Sunday, April 22, 2007

NOAA image



Sheryl Crow met Karl Rove at the recent Correspondents' Dinner. Here's a bit from the Huffington Post describing Sheryl's attempt to talk to Karl about global warming....

We asked Mr. Rove if he would consider taking a fresh look at the science of global warming.

[...]

We reminded the senior White House advisor that the US leads the world in global warming pollution and we are doing the least about it. Anger flaring, Mr. Rove immediately regurgitated the official Administration position on global warming which is that the US spends more on researching the causes than any other country.

We felt compelled to remind him that the research is done and the results are in (www.IPCC.ch). Mr. Rove exploded with even more venom. Like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum, Mr. Rove launched into a series of illogical arguments regarding China not doing enough thus neither should we.

[...]

In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." [...] Unphased, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people."

[...]

Drama aside, you would expect as an American citizen to be able to engage in a civil discussion with a public official. Instead, Mr. Rove was dismissive, condescending, and quite frankly a bully.

Ultimately, we were left wondering what on Earth Mr. Rove was talking about when he said "the American people." If more than 60% of American voters, the Supreme Court, over 400 cities, the US National Academy of Sciences, numerous major US corporations, and others don't constitute the American people, then what does?

Right wing Bush supporters?

Karl had more fun at the last dinner.


Karl and Osama

Cannonfire comments on Karl Rove's statement that Osama bin Laden started the pre-emptive war business.

I cannot agree completely, since evidence indicates that the invasion of Iraq was in the planning stages well before 9/11. However, when Osama got the memo, I'm sure he wrote the Arabic equivalent of "I love it!" in the margins.

The invasion of a secular government detested by Al Qaeda? A government that had never attacked the United States? A military action against Arabs that would make Bin Laden look like a prophet throughout the Islamic world? An action that would radicalize all Muslims and magnify anti-U.S. sentiment?

From Osama Bin Laden's point of view, what was there not to love?

What makes us so sure bin Laden is a former CIA agent? Or at the very least, a man who made a deal.


WH Correspondents Dinner

“We’ve got to learn to laugh in this town," but then instead of going into the usual jokes, surprised the crowd by saying, "I had looked forward to poking fun tonight but in light of this week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech, I decided not to try to be funny.”

  Editor & Publisher article

Yes, that would be a surprise coming after that year he thought joking about finding WMD under his office desk was appropriate in light of invading Iraq and killing scores of innocent men, women and children. I imagine the audience would have figured no tragedy was enough for him to stop tyring to be funny, or even to simply dismiss in favor of self-aggrandizement. "Now watch this drive."

Of course, the audience, judging by its response to the WMD jokes, was probably very disappointed that Butthead got a conscience this year.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Shine On

We interrupt this blog to bring you a message from the author's alter ego, who knows a different truth.

There is work to be done in the dark before dawn.


Daisy May and Seth




Nothing Left to Say

As my all time favorite forum comment stated: "Well, as is so often the case with the Bush team, reality has simply outrun mockery."

Raw Story carries the Jon Stewart moment depicting that sentiment.


Today in Iraq

In another attack on a top city official on Saturday, a roadside bomb killed the mayor of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, and one of his bodyguards, police said.

Separately, one American soldier was killed and two were wounded by a roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad, the military said. A separate roadside bombing, in Diwaniyah about 80 miles south of the capital, killed a Polish soldier late Friday.

  Yahoo article

Well, at least one place we bombed to dust in order to drive out the "insurgents" has been gotten under control - Falluja.

The chairman of Fallujah's city council, an outspoken critic of al-Qaida who took the job in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold after his three predecessors were assassinated, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Saturday, police said.

And, about that wall....

"A few days ago, we met with the U.S. army unit in charge of Azamiyah and it asked us, as a local council, to sign a document to build a wall to reduce killing and attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces," said Dawood al-Azami, the acting head of the Azamiyah council.

"I told the soldiers that I would not sign it unless I could talk to residents first. We told residents at Friday prayers, but our local council hasn't signed onto the project yet, and construction is already under way."


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


More BushSpeak

Shortly after Sept. 11, George W. Bush interrupted his inveighing against evildoers to crack a joke. Bush had repeatedly promised to run an overall budget surplus at least as large as the Social Security surplus, except in the event of recession, war or national emergency. "Lucky me," he remarked to Mitch Daniels, his budget director. "I hit the trifecta."

  Common Dreams article


Bush in Ohio, April 2007:

Nobody ought to ever hope to be a war President, or a presidency -- a President during war.

Well, you get the idea. "It just, poof!"

Bush's "speeches" seem to have gotten noticeably more incoherent lately. Have they quit giving him his meds, or have they just slowly started abandoning him to his own devices? Whoever was providing the prompting on his wire - has that person been removed? What are Karl and Dick up to?

Bubble Boy just doesn't know when to stay in the bubble within his bubble (the inner bubble) - but then, in the past, somebody's always bailed him out when he screws things up; perhaps he is conditioned to believe it will always happen.

This bit is just beyond my interpretive abilities:

It's an interesting war, isn't it, where asymmetrical warfare is -- and that means people being able to use suicide bombers -- not only, obviously, kills a lot of innocent people, like which happened yesterday in Iraq, but also helps define whether or not we're successful.

[...]

If the definition of success in Iraq or anywhere is no suicide bombers, we'll never be successful.

Does that mean that he realizes we have no chance at success in the "war against terror"? Because, the existence of suicide bombers somewhere would surely mean there was still terrorism, wouldn't it?

Think about that: if our definition is no more suiciders, you've just basically said to the suiciders, go ahead.

I'm trying to think about it. I just can't. I am incapable of understanding that. But I vote we preserve this man's brain for future scientific study, unless we're sure he isn't just syphilitic, in which case we probably already have enough specimen brains. Maybe it's my brain that's the problem, but it seems to me that if you allow for success to include some suicide bombing, then that's when you've said to the suicide bombers, go ahead.

Something else is "interesting" (and I really love this bit):

I like to remind people that my dad was a 18-year-old kid when he signed up to -- for the United States Navy in World War II, and went off to combat in a really bloody war. And yet, his son becomes the President, and one of his best friends in the international scene was the Prime Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Koizumi was a partner in peace. Isn't it interesting? I think there's a historical lesson there, that liberty has got the capacity to transform enemies to allies.

His father was just a kid who fought in the war, and yet his son became president. !! No mention at all that the father himself became president. Not even subliminal, that self-reference. Just slipped it in there, in a totally irrelevant context. The fact of the son becoming president has nothing to do with the "interesting" bit he is conveying about the Prime Minister of Japan becoming a "partner in peace" and best friend of Bush Sr. Is this guy all about himself, or what? (No mention of the son getting a pass on going into the really bloody war of Viet Nam due to his father's pulling strings, either.)

Iran wants to -- they've stated they'd like to have -- let me just say, we believe they would like to have a nuclear weapon.

I have to hand him some credit there for pulling back before he got off into that lie again. He did it again shortly, saying what he was describing is a real scenario, and immediately rephrasing it as "a real possibility for a scenario." Then again, I suppose it is only a matter of time before a new Office of Special Plans offers him cooked up evidence of the hints he's dropping. Worked before.

And then, again, since he said it a second time:

This is a nation that has said they want to have a nuclear -- or we believe wants to have a nuclear weapon.

The possibility exists that he's repeating the lie, knowing that even if he corrects it, the lie will be imprinted. But that's giving him credit for knowing what he's saying, and it's hard to make that judgment when you've got such overwhelming evidence against it.

He claims that he actually told Iraq's president that he, the President of Iraq, has an obligation to U.S. citizens to show people he's capable of moving Iraq toward reconciliation amongst conflicting factions. Yes, Iraq is obliged to satisfy us here.

But, if we were to leave before accomplishing that mission that we accomplished already...

[T]here would be a violence -- level of violence that would spill out beyond just the capital, could spill out beyond Iraq. And then you would have ancient feuds fueled by extremists and radicals competing for power -- radical Shia, radical extreme Sunnis, all competing for power. They would happen to share two enemies: one, the United States and Israel, for starters, and every other moderate person in the Middle East.

Where have you been George Van Winkle? From all accounts I've been reading, that's exactly what's happening - the competition for power amongst rivaling factors. And, aside from the fact that he has counted two enemies while listing many, to use one of George's favorite expressions, isn't it "interesting" that he refers to the United States and Israel as one?

By the way, just in case you didn't think the people in the audience are reading from cue cards provided by the White House, have a look at this question:

Mr. President, how would you respond to the rather mistaken idea that the war in Iraq is becoming a war in Vietnam?

His priceless answer was to enumerate some ways in which they are very different, and then to add, "There are some similarities, of course -- death is terrible." (And the other similarity: they're televised. Although I would debate that particular similarity, considering the televised reporting in Iraq is from embedded reporters. Not quite the same: in Viet Nam, the real war was televised.)

Anyway, this post has gotten way too long, so I'll finish with a question: What is it with this buffoon and the "I call it this - you can call it this or that or whatever" stuff? Is he doing musicals now? Tomato, tomahto, potato potahto. What?

I call it a global war against terror. You can call it a global war against extremists, a global war against radicals, a global war against people who want to hurt America; you can call it whatever you want.

[...]

I call it, reinforce, you can call it, surge, there's all kind of words for it.

You can read the "speech" - well, he calls it speech, you can call it a mindbender, garble, alcohol-induced blubbering; whatever you want - here. I certainly couldn't read it all. And there's another transcript of a later speech in Grand Rapids. A very quick perusal looks like they either put him back on his meds or gave him back the wire after that fiasco in Ohio.

You can check it out for yourself.


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


The Arrogance of Paul Wolfowitz

Since the old combsucker left DoD for the World Bank, he hasn't been in such public view, and therefore, many of us have tended to put him out of our minds. Now that he's back in the media viewfinder, we get to take a fresh look at his egregious behavior as it was back then and continues (and why should we imagine it would be otherwise?). Sidney Blumenthal reminds us of his litany of offenses (the least of which may be "grandiosity, cronyism, self-dealing and lying ") in a Salon article.

Blumenthal reminds us that SAIC (the company getting megabuck contracts from the US government) was ordered by Wolfowitz underling Doug Feith to give a contract to Wolfowitz girlfriend Shaha Riza, and points out that Riza, a British citizen, was given access to areas that require a security clearance in the US government, without having been given that clearance, and without even the special qualifications necessary to receive one (which, I suppose is why she didn't have one) - an unprecedented move. (Clever WB staffers have donned Riza: Wolfowitz' "neoconcubine".)

It turns out that the old combsucker not only got Riza her new job at State with her fantastic salary, but part of the deal was that in her job reviews, her performance would automatically be "outstanding". The position she was given was with Liz Cheney (yes, the daughter of Himself), and Karen Hughes (Texan, W's communications czarina while he was governor and counselor during his presidency).


Wolfowitz insulated himself at the World Bank from the career staff. There, as at the Pentagon, Wolfowitz pushed aside the professionals and replaced them with a small band of politically reliable assistants. Wolfowitz rewarded them, too, on his own authority, with enormous tax-free salaries.

Standard operating procedure for the New Lords of World Order, sometimes referred to as Bushies.

Consider Kevin Kellems, his public affairs officer at the Pentagon, who had guided conservative media from that perch and is known as "keeper of the comb," for having been the person to hand Wolfowitz the infamous comb he licked before slicking down his hair in the Michael Moore film "Fahrenheit 9/11." Kellems was given a salary of $240,000, at least equal to what World Bank vice presidents with years of service earn.

Nice work, if you can get it.



The Bush Dictionary

Via W3IAI from a recent Bushpeech:
“Diplomacy works when people sit down at the table and need something from you. That’s how diplomacy works.”

That would have come under "got you over a barrel" or "holding the purse strings" in my dictionary. But his is different. I understand that.

Bush also ascribes the phrase that all men are created equal, contained in our Declaration of Independence, to Abraham Lincoln. Of course, he considers the Constitution of the United States to be an obstacle to his own high ideals, so it's really no wonder he's a little fuzzy about the foundations of his country. (He only knows that it's "his", whether you agree to call him King or not. In fact, in his dictionary, president of the US is defined as the man who makes all the decisions - for the world, actually.)

Furthermore he has a "strong belief that freedom is universal" (unless he has already declared you an enemy noncombatant in the light of his fuzzy judgment).

You really should read the entire W3IAI post. You'll be amazed, even though you are thinking you cannot ever again be amazed at the astounding incomprehensibility of the Boy Who Would Be King.

“You can’t make your decisions, however, based on something that just changes; it just, poof.”

Take it up with the Pope, dude.


Friday, April 20, 2007

The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh Away

I understand that the two most taboo topics of conversation are politics and religion. I keep YWA pretty well lopsided toward politics, so in an attempt to achieve a little balance, I'll hereby give a sermonette of my own, inspired by a bit of this weekend's news. (I was going to save it for Sunday, being the usual day of sermonizing, but that would be inappropriate for me in so many ways, and more to the point, I need it in place for the next post I'm going to make.)

(That should be fair enough warning.)

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

Pope Benedict, himself a top theologian who before his election in 2005 expressed doubts about limbo, authorized the publication of the document, called "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised."

  Yahoo article

One option removed at the stroke of a pen. I guess Jesus wasn't the only one who could perform miracles, eh? Poof! Limbo gone!

And I was just talking about the Pope, was I not?

It said the study was made all the more pressing because "the number of nonbaptised infants has grown considerably, and therefore the reflection on the possibility of salvation for these infants has become urgent."

The possibility of salvation for the infants who've been stuck in limbo for the past several centuries before it started getting crowded was of no pressing concern to anyone but the infants stuck there, I suppose.

To be fair, the Church now says that those babies didn't need to be baptised. (Is the Church getting rational in its old age? Or is this like the old comedian who used to pretend to train his dog, when in fact he just gave orders according to whatever the dog happened to be doing on its own?)

Don't get too excited, though, because the Church says it disappeared Limbo only because God will surely not condemn the babies who didn't have a chance to be baptised, but that doesn't excuse any baby who lives long enough to get to a priest. I wonder, where are the babies going who live long enough, but whose parents don't get them to a priest before they die? How long does babyhood last in that case? Can you be five years old? Ten? Until you get your driver's license?

"People find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness, whether they are Christian or non-Christian," the document said.

Therefore, we must change God's mind for Him. We proclaim Him now able to realize that Limbo isn't such a good idea if He wants people to accept his justness and mercy.

Please don't ask how he could have been perfect if he didn't understand that to begin with, okay?

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. This is God talking.

In the Divine Comedy, Dante placed virtuous pagans and great classical philosophers, including Plato and Socrates, in limbo.

[...]

In writings before his election as Pope in 2005, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made it clear he believed the concept of limbo should be abandoned because it was "only a theological hypothesis" and "never a defined truth of faith."

Oh, well. That's okay then. God never said it in the first place. You were only fooled into believing it existed by centuries of .....oh never mind. It's gone. Okay?

Divine Comedy, indeed.

I wonder how many people just got a light-bulb going off over their heads and realized that this is how you can tell if somebody actually does talk to God or know God's will - the ones that make stuff up as they go along, aka theological hypotheses, don't.


P.S. to the Catholics out there: don't feel special. I'll get around to the rest of the religions sooner or later. It all depends on the news.

My personal preference is that we all just try to think for ourselves. And if we can't do that, then at least try to talk to God for ourselves, which makes a whole lot more sense than asking somebody else to do it for us.

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


Going, Going, Gonzo

Raw Story has a clip from Comedy Central: Jon Stewart recaps the Alberto Gonzales testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I recommend you go have a look.


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


Dear Andy

"On April 16,2007, you appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and discussed the leak of [former covert CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson's] identity. [White House Counsel Fred] Fielding's position appears to be that it is appropriate for you to discuss these matters on The Daily Show, but not before a congressional committee. You will not be surprised to learn that I take a different view of this matter."
Affectionately,

Henry Waxman

source


Impeach!

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the former mayor of Cleveland who is seeking the 2008 Democratic nomination for president for the second time, has selected a date to introduce articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney.

  Raw Story article

That date would be April 25.

The senate in the northeastern US state of Vermont passed a resolution Friday calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush, senate officials said.

The largely symbolic move, which stands little chance of going much further, was approved by 16 votes to nine and followed a public rally this week in the state capital Montpelier calling for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to go.

[...]

"The neat thing about the Vermont legislature is that we listen to citizens," [Senate President Peter Shumlin] told the newspaper.

  Raw Story article

They have really good syrup, but it's just too cold in Vermont for me to consider moving.

I like how the article tells us where Vermont is, just in case we're under 40 and educated in the United States.

Besides the impeachment resolution, other business on the state legislature's agenda this week included "an act relating to home-fermented beverage competitions."

Of course, I could get a heavy coat.


Hogs Are So Darned Dumb

Hogs fed pet food rejected as unsuitable for sale ended up eating a product laced with an industrial chemical, federal authorities said yesterday, expanding a food safety investigation that had been primarily focused on cats and dogs.

It remains unclear, however, whether products made from the hogs will be considered safe for human consumption.

  Boston.com article

What remains unclear is how in the name of Sam Hill anyone would decide it’s okay to feed their hogs food that has been killing dogs and cats.

Not, “the hogs were fed”, but, the hogs “ended up eating” the tainted food. It was just a bad decision by the hogs. Stupid swine.


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


Meanwhile in Iraq

I caught the end of an interview on this morning's NPR with a General in Iraq about Iraqi police/army progress. It seems that a Sunni officer was arrested by someone (nobody seemed to know who, exacty), jailed and replaced. The General said Shias arresting Sunni outlaws is okay, but when Sunnis try to arrest Shias, they find trouble. "This attitude has got to change," said the General.

So, if we're waiting for an attitude change, how many generations will we be there?

Apparently, other less optimistic minds are dealing with the problem in another way.

Soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area "trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," the military said.

[T]he concrete wall, including barriers as tall as 12 feet, "is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence" in Baghdad.

  Yahoo article

Yeah. That should work. Works in Palenstine.

Go ahead. I'll wait while you beat your head against a wall.

Back?

At least somebody's thinking, though. And I believe providing a nice out should anybody care for one....

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Bush administration will take into account Iraq's political progress when deciding this summer whether or not to bring home some of the thousands of extra troops the U.S. has sent to tamp down violence there.

  Yahoo article

I hear you, Bob. Just tell them they haven't made enough progress. It's their fault entirely. Home free.

The story about the wall did have at least some encouragement in quotes from a couple of Iraqis.

"It is good from one hand to curb violence and have control of terrorists. But it's bad on the other hand to be separated from others. We should live in one area like brothers, not be separated from one another," said Bashar Abdul Latif, a 45-year-old teacher.

"I don't think this wall will solve the city's serious security problems," said Ahmed Abdul-Sattar, 35, a government worker. "It will only increase the separation between our people, which has been made so much worse by the war."

Indeed.


Bush Babble

In Ohio.

Will they ever get his meds adjusted?


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


Insane McCain

Update: McCain's response to criticism:

"Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends," he told reporters in Las Vegas. "My response is, Lighten up and get a life."

Asked if his joke was insensitive, McCain said: "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?"

No comment necessary, I should hope.




Good Grief!

And his audience loves it.


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


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Only a Pawn in the Game

NRO's Byron York: "It has been a disastrous morning for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales..."

It's really true. Quite apart from the substance of what we've learned since mid-January and Gonzales' past false statements, Gonzales has been surprisingly unable even to keep his made-up stories straight. As near as I can tell, only two Republican members of the committee have been even remotely sympathetic to his testimony. At least two Republican senators called him a liar. One gently -- Graham, and another not so gently, Specter.

  TPM post

If he goes, he'll be a pawn sacrifice.

Josh Marshall is following the AG's testimony, so there's no point in me trying to cover it. Keep up with the blow by blow at Talking Points Memo.


And while I'm passing the buck, W3IAI does a nice job of explaining the abortion decision and what's wrong with it.


The Abortion Decision

Made by the Decider's activist court.

You know, I've been avoiding posting on this topic at all, but this statement of the King's just makes my head spin when I thought nothing else he actually would say - and, more to the point, get away with - could do that.

Dependable Renegade blogs it:

Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America. [...] -G.W. Bush, 4/18/07

Well, thank goodness we got that Constitution out of our way.


"Don't Bother the Oil Companies"

A former top auditor at the Interior Department has accused senior officials of prohibiting him and other investigators from recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in underpayments from oil and gas companies that drill on federal land and in federal waters.

"There's hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars out there, and I don't think we should be scared of the oil companies," said Bobby Maxwell.

  International Herald Tribune article

Bobby. If Dick Cheney invites you to go hunting, I suggest you decline.


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



Surge and Purge

In a week that has seen "several spectacular attacks on the capital," four bombs killed at least 178 people in Baghdad, following reports that U.S. troop deaths are 'climbing,' and that the war has taken the lives of '600 U.S. Contractors.'

  April 19 Cursor post - links embedded

Gonzo testifies today, and Patrick Martin wonders if the White House will sacrifice Gonzales to save Rove.


Who Says the Democrats Are Wimps?!

House Democrats are considering revising the language in the Iraq war spending bill regarding the proposed troop withdrawal timetable so that the dates are "advisory" and no longer binding, reports the Washington Post.

  Raw Story article


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


Update: W3IAI comments:

Congress thus lays claim to exactly as much power as a lowly blogger, the power to give impotent advice.

But maybe I should look at it the other way around. Let’s give it a try: I, WIIIAI, hereby advise that we get the fuck out of Iraq.

Dude, that was awesome! I’m totally as powerful as Congress now!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cold Hard Cash

Well, cold anyway.
The subpoena is part of a 16-month international bribery investigation of [Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.)] who allegedly accepted $100,000 from a telecommunications businessman. Of that, $90,000 was later recovered in a freezer in the congressman's D.C. home.

  The Hill article



Sibel Edmunds Is Waiting

Okay, listen up. Sibel Edmunds has been ignored long enough. For some background on the former translator working for the FBI just prior to 9/11, if you need it, you can go here. And for information about the legal case she has brought to try to get her testimony aired, you can go here.

Now, ex-CIA agent, Phil Giraldi, has some more to say about it.

Via a post by Lukery at Wot Is It Good For, we’re informed that Henry Waxman’s oversight committee is not interested in what Sibel has to say possibly due to Waxman's attachment to Israel and AIPAC.

Even though Waxman is seemingly hot to investigate the Bush administration on the forged Niger documents and Iraq contracting fraud, he apparently has no desire to look into Sibel’s claims of illegal arms sales in high government places. Has it been so long since the Iran-Contra arms deals that we should think that’s unlikely?

[Ms. Edmunds claims] that investigations already carried out by the FBI would demonstrate that three former senior officials were involved in illegal weapons sales and other activities that would justify charges of espionage and possibly even treason against them.

Who would these three be? Our old friends Doug Feith and Richard Perle, and a former State Department official, Marc Grossman. (She also puts Dennis Hastert and our buddy Paul Wolfowitz in the pot.)

Edmonds’ testimony in the past has been considered credible, but most of it has been kept under wraps, and she has been under a gag order since giving it. Giraldi speculates that Waxman is avoiding Sibel’s claims

[…] possibly because Israeli officials and the country’s defense industry are believed to have been involved in the weapons diversion activity.

Congressman Waxman is regarded as close to Israel’s principal lobby, AIPAC, and even promised Jewish voters back in November 2006 that there would be no Democratic congressional committee chairmen involved with Middle Eastern policy who were not completely supportive of Israel.

Lukery ends his post in the comments section arguing for the possibility that a slow resolution of all these types of inquiries and investigations might be best in the long run to essentially dig out the toxin that is the current administration and GOP from its roots, but that…”If it is business as usual, and Waxman is just bowing to AIPAC’s wishes, then we have truly been taken over and it is time for pitchforks.”

Sibel’s claims are all about illegal arms deals, money laundering and drug trafficking. And it’s been my belief from way back that when you look at those three things, you’ll find essentially all of the corrupt people in top positions of power in our country, and that’s their connection to 9/11. Not too hard to figure – that’s where the money and the power are all around the globe: drug trafficking and arms dealing.


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


Abramoff Strikes Again

The FBI have raided the home of Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA).


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


Looking to Practice Law at the DOJ?

Seems like a variation of the K-Street Project. If you have liberal leanings, you need not apply, even if you went to Harvard or Yale. You won't even get an interview.

Students at fourth-tier religious institutions, however...

It would seem that the DoJ screens applicants for things like spelling errors on their applications, and "inappropriate information about them on the Internet." Inappropriate information in the case of the DoJ screeners appears to be any liberal activity.


Questions for Gonzo Tomorrow

We'll be watching for answers to these questions:
How does Mr. Gonzales reconcile his assertion, in a USA Today op-ed on March 7, that the prosecutors were fired "for reasons related to policy, priorities and management -- what have been referred to broadly as 'performance-related' reasons" with the reported testimony by Michael A. Battle, who headed the office overseeing U.S. attorneys, that he was "not aware of performance problems with respect to several" of the prosecutors until just days before he called to seek their resignations?

How and why was New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias's name added to the hit list at the last minute? What was the nature of the attorney general's conversations on this topic with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), White House aide Karl Rove and President Bush? Did Mr. Gonzales, as the Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday, tell Mr. Domenici that he would fire Mr. Iglesias only on the orders of the president?

  WaPo article


Science Break

Not that your current government administration puts any stock in science...

It seems that a new study shows that chimps are more evolved genetically than humans.

And in a number of other ways, too, I might venture.


The Missing E-Mails

Rove to the Rescue!

The White House wants to see the emails before they're turned over to the investigating committee. (Assuming the good folks who "lost" them "find" them.)

There "exists a clear and indisputable Executive Branch interest" in the emails on the RNC-issued accounts, wrote Emmet Flood, Special Counsel to the President.

Conyers isn't buying it:

  TPM Muckraker article

I must say, I agree that there is "a clear and indisputable" Executive Branch interest in those emails. Namely Rove's and Bush's participation.


Purge

Sampson couldn't say who had put Bogden on the list (even though he was the "keeper of the list") or why. He'd never looked at Bogden's performance, and neither did Alberto Gonzales. The only thing he can remember is that there was "a general feeling among senior staffers at the Justice Department that a 'stronger leader' could be put in Nevada." So [Bogden] was fired. And then the Justice Department told Congress that he'd been fired for "performance" reasons.

All that remained, apparently, was to find out what those were.

The story at TPM Muckraker says Gonzo's assistant McNulty balked at firing Bogden because, "he was concerned about Bogden, 50, getting a job outside government after 16 years at Justice and being able to care for his family." When someone in the meeting (including Sampson and Goodling) pointed out that Bogden wasn't married, McNulty withdrew his objection, and Bogden went down. Nothing improper here.


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


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bill Moyers' Journal

It's rare times like this I wish I had a television.

Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I’ve watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you’ll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.

  ZNet article

You will watch it, won't you?


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


In Re the Combsucker's Woes

Abu Spinoza (an alias) reminds us that Wolfowitz' war crimes responsibilities are being overlooked in light of his World Bank crimes. Of course, the Combsucker isn't the only one whose war crimes are being overlooked.

But this isn't a post about Iraq war crimes, so...

Early reports held that several African finance ministers were coming to Wolfowitz' defense with high praise for him. Apparently, there are some who don't quite see it that way.

"Don't try to make Africa his saving grace," Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Executive Director of Nairobi-based Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center, told 50 Years is Enough. "The impact of the World Bank's policy impositions of the last 20 years still devastates us every day."

[...]

Nita Evele, a Washington-based activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said, "Corruption and the World Bank, corruption and Paul Wolfowitz: these are not new, and are not limited to his girlfriend. Congolese in the U.S. protested outside the Bank on Saturday – a protest that called for Wolfowitz's resignation. But our initial and overriding purpose was to call attention to the way the World Bank, under Wolfowitz's direction, has facilitated the turning over of our country's vast mineral resources to multinational corporations for a song.

  AllAfrica.com article

Indeed, that, I believe fulfills the unstated mission of the World Bank.

SAIC, a cauldron of slimy dealing itself (see previous posts), is distancing itself from Wolfowitz, saying that the Defense Department's policy division "directed" SAIC to hire the Combsucker's girlfriend Shaha Riza as a consultant. (Rats in a cage syndrome?)

As to whether WB General Counsel Ana Palacio (whose immediate response to the accusation against Wolfowitz regarding Ms. Riza's outrageous fortune since the Combsucker took over as president was to call for the head of the leaker) can perform an unbiased investigation, several WB staffers think not. I'd say they're probably right, considering that Ms. Palacio is also a Wolfowitz appointee. At any rate, there's a lengthy intranet discussion amongst WB staffers (here in aspx format) with several comments about Palacio and Riza's friendship. One comment from April 10 states:

Ms. Ana Palacio and Ms. Shaha Riza are personal friends, call each other on the cell phone, have dinner regularly, and see each other socially. Should Ms. Palacio be in charge of the investigation? My take is no. I urge the Board to consider the above information, for the credibility of this Institution.

Apparently, the rotten stench of the investigation goes even deeper than Ms. Palacio.

[R]eports are circulating that Williams & Connolly LLP, the law firm World Bank General Counsel Ana Palacio hired to investigate the leak of Board documents to Fox News earlier this year, has close ties to Paul Wolfowitz. "On April 12 staff learned that Robert Barnett, a lawyer at Williams & Connolly LLP, is Paul Wolfowitz's personal lawyer," the blog wolfowitzmustresign has posted.

  Bank Information Center post

And finally, amongst the WB staffer comments on the Bank's intranet site, there's this gem:

if the [bank's] president stopped shooting himself in the foot that often...he would not have that many holes in his socks.

AP photo


Paul Wolfowitz playing the Wolfowitz Blues
on a Wolfowitz Harmonica
- aka a comb


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


So Where Was the Fire?

Too bad for New Jersey's governor Jon S. Corzine. Wasn't wearing a seat belt. Now on a ventilator.

The state trooper-driven SUV was in the left lane with its emergency lights flashing when a pickup tried to get out of its way. Instead, it set off a chain reaction that resulted in the crash.

  Yahoo article

Governor Corzine was apparently taking advantage of the fact that his bodyguards/drivers are troopers. Apparently flaunting the law because they could. They were going 91 mph in a 65 mph zone.

The article I cite here doesn't say all those things exactly like that, but having had a son who was a state trooper in the governor's guard division (different state), I'd say it's a pretty safe bet that's what was happening here.

I admit to speculation.


....but hey, you may as well let me do what I want....I will anyway.


My Last Word

Well, on the Virginia Tech killings, my last word. And it won't be to say anything about The Opportunist In Chief going to the school to preach, pray and have his picture taken. (How long did it take him to get to New Orleans when Katrina drowned thousands of U.S. citizens?)

Oh. I guess it will be to say that.


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


Slam Dink

Tenet is back, with a book. He says Cheney lied, Condi lied, and the CIA tried their best to get the Bush Administration to pay attention and do the right thing.


Purge

Today is was the day Alberto Gonzales has been rehearsing for (postponed until Thursday due to the Virginia Tech shootings - yes, I know, one has nothing to do wtih the other). And it looks like Monica Goodling will get immunity in exchange for her testimony. Which may be why she insisted she'd take the fifth - knowing she's guilty of something big enough to need immunity from prosecution, eh?


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


Monday, April 16, 2007

What's With SAIC? - Part III

Following up on an earlier post about Wolfowitz and Riza, I'm doing what I can to try to piece together some interesting "coincidences". The Wolfowitz/Riza scandal has a connection to the Attorney Purge scandal, with the crossing juncture being voter registration. And the rarely mentioned company SAIC is not getting the attention it deserves.

Let me first go back and fill in some background from a post I made back in January of '05 (on another blog service) called FBI just can't catch a break.

A new FBI computer program designed [by SAIC] to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped [...]

  Yahoo article

The project was originally scheduled to be finished by the end of 2003. It seems that the Justice Dept had tried using the same computer program and scrapped it, too. Why would the FBI take on a program (Virtual Case File software), costing upwards of $600 million to put in place, that the DoJ already decided was no good?

And then there's the failed contract with the NSA...

SAIC won the initial $280 million, 26-month contract to design and create this [computer] system, called Trailblazer. Four years and more than a billion dollars later, the effort has been abandoned. [...] Happily for SAIC, it will get the chance for a comeback in the second half. The company has been awarded the contract for a revised Trailblazer program called ExecuteLocus. The contract is worth $361 million.

  Vanity Fair article March 2007

Amazing, isn't it?

But, that's not all. The Defense Department also had some problems with a SAIC software contract.

March 25th, 2004

Defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. has agreed to pay $484,500 to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act when designing a computer system program for the U.S. Department of Defense.

  Corp Watch article

The allegations included misrepresentation of project progress and overpayment for services.

SAIC also fell down on its contracts in Iraq to create an Iraqi Media Network (modeled on the BBC). That particular contract was a $15 million giveaway with no competitive bidding, nor even an acquisition plan. It was awarded in March of 2003, and by September, the cost had risen to $82.3 million. Ooops.

At the time I wrote that '05 post, I had wondered "how this company keeps getting contracts."

Quick review: Wolfowitz was Deputy Defense Secretary in the run-up to the Iraq invasion and until his appointment to the World Bank presidency in 2005, during which time he was intimate with Ms. Riza, who was consulting for SAIC while working for the World Bank (and without the requisite permission from the Bank to do so).

Who are the people at SAIC who are reaming the U.S. taxpayers, aided and abetted by the U.S. government?

Christopher "Ryan" Henry left a senior position at SAIC in February 2003 to become principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.

[...]

Executive vice president for Federal Business and director Duane P. Andrews served as assistant secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993, when he joined SAIC.

  Public Integrity article

Robert M. Gates, the new secretary of defense, whose confirmation hearings lasted all of a day, is a former member of SAIC's board of directors.

  Vanity Fair article

The Associated Press describes Science Applications International Inc. (SAIC) as "the most influential company most people have never heard of." The Asia Times calls it "the most mysterious and feared of the big 10 defense giants."

[...]

The company's ranks overflow with former or retired government person, many from the military and intelligence agencies. Much of SAIC's work is highly classified.

[...]

[William] Owens also served as president, chief operating officer and vice chair of SAIC. And, Owens is a member of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's internal think-tank, the Defense Policy Board.

[...]

At any given point in time, SAIC's board of directors represents a Who's Who of former military and intelligence officials.

  Veterans for Peace 10/03 article

SAIC personnel were instrumental in pressing the case that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the first place, and that war was the only way to get rid of them. Then, as war became inevitable, SAIC secured contracts for a broad range of operations in soon-to-be-occupied Iraq. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, SAIC personnel staffed the commission that was set up to investigate how American intelligence could have been so disastrously wrong.

  Vanity Fair article

SAIC has a long line of fraud and deception charges (which are enumerated in the Vanity Fair article), but still gets the big government contracts.

Now, let's shift gears just slightly. SAIC is also involved in the electronic voting business.

"The American vote count is controlled by three major corporate players, Diebold, ESS, and Sequoia. There's a fourth, SAIC, Science Applications International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies, all four of them, are hard-wired into the Bush power structure and they have been given God knows how many millions of dollars by the Bush regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines that were just used in the 2004 election.

  Ratical article

These ostensibly competitive businesses interconnect with one another and with major corporate sponsors, especially the famed Carlyle Group, of the Bush administration. Their people are his people, so to speak. And vice versa.

  Reason to Freedom article

Bush appointed Wolfowitz to the World Bank presidency in 2005, at which time, he felt it necessary to move his girlfriend out of the World Bank offices and over to the State Department, while still keeping her on the Bank payroll (with a fat raise, $47,300 - 35.5% - to $180,000, followed by a second rase of 7.5% to a total salary of $193,590 ). (Wolfowitz lied that the Bank board had approved the raise.) During the lead up to the Iraq War, and continuing, Riza at the World Bank was acting as a consultant to SAIC.

It may be coincidental, but there is also connection between the Wolfowitz/Riza story and the Attorney Purge story, and that is the issue of voter repression and control over the machinery of voting in America. While the Bushies in the DoJ were reshaping voter fraud issues to make it harder for Democratic votes to be cast and counted, the Bushies at the Defense Department were coming and going through the revolving door at SAIC, one of the top four companies in the control of the voting machines, with Mr. Wolfowitz and Ms. Riza in the middle of it.

Oh, and one more thing...

In January of 2005,

burglars managed to break into SAIC's headquarters, pry open 13 private offices, and walk out with one desktop-computer hard drive and four laptops. By SAIC's account, the computers contained personal data on thousands of present and past employees, presumably including the company's many former C.I.A. operatives, N.S.A. executives, and Pentagon officials. To date, the burglary remains unsolved.

[...]

[T]the building "is patrolled by DOD certified security" and that "the interior lights are on motion sensors and would have been activated by the suspects."

  Vanity Fair article

[ed: the Vanity Fair article has an in-depth look at SAIC's history. And there's another comprehensive account at Scoop.]

And don't expect SAIC to be suffering any time soon, not even with a change in administrations.

As one former SAIC manager observed in a recent blog posting: "My observation is that the impact of national elections on the business climate for SAIC has been minimal. The emphasis on where federal spending occurs usually shifts, but total federal spending never decreases. SAIC has always continued to grow despite changes in the political leadership in Washington."

  Vanity Fair article

Although it's possible their interest in the voting machine business might indicate they figure their chances are more favorable with a Republican administration.

And the revolving door never stops spinning. One of the biggest contracts ever for SAIC is in the works right now. It's for a Pentagon program called Future Combat Systems, which is described as "a complex plan to turn the U.S. Army into a lighter, more lethal, more mobile force" and also as "the most difficult integration program ever undertaken by the U.S. Department of Defense." The contract runs into the billions of dollars. The man who helped craft this program at the Pentagon was Lieutenant General Daniel R. Zanini. Zanini recently retired from the army, and he now has a new job. Can you guess where it might be?

P.S. A bit off topic, but speaking to the question of whether Wolfowitz should be permitted to remain president of the World Bank, and indeed whether the U.S. should be the appointer of Bank presidents, the old combsucker denied a loan to Uzbekistan after that country kicked the U.S. military off the Uzbek base used for operations in Afghanistan. Apparently, the gross human rights abuses of the Uzbek government weren't problematic enough, but the refusal to let us keep the base was (although Wolfowitz claimed the reason for denying the loan was indeed human rights violations - interestingly timed).

Since taking office, Wolfowitz has spearheaded a campaign to fight corruption, cronyism and promote good governance in Bank projects and loans in developing nations.

  Common Dreams article

It would seem he's just the man to do it. At least he's intimately familiar with the problem.

Tomorrow, I'll try to get to a post on the rest of the story about Paul Wolfowitz' egregious behavior at the World Bank. Come back then.



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