Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh, and Iowa...

I told you those newly freed to marry someone of the same sex ought to act quickly. And how. One couple managed before the Judge who threw out Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage was petitioned and placed a stay on his decision. Everybody else in line will just have to wait until an appeal process is heard.


Continuing Haditha Whitewash

Four of the eight marines involved in the retaliatory rampage on Haditha were charged with murder. Charges were subsequently withdrawn against two of them.

Lance Corporal Humberto Mendoza is claiming in preliminary testimony that Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who is facing charges of murdering 17 people, gave orders to shoot whoever opened the door in the house-by-house raids the marines conducted after a roadside bombing killed one marine.

Mendoza also testified that Lance Corporal Stephen Tatum gave orders to kill seven frightened women and children who were huddled in a back bedroom in one of the houses. It is is expected that charges will be dismissed against Tatum, because, as a defense attorney claimed, Mendoza's evidence is too weak.


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


Same-Sex Marriage Okay in....

Iowa! A judge struck down Iowa's ban on same-sex marriage as the result of a lawsuit brought by six gay couples, who should immediately apply for a license and have the ceremony performed, because I'm sure they haven't heard the end of this. This is Iowa we're talking about.


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


Update: Well, that was quick.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Leaked Report to "Lock In" the Bad News

"Bring me the head of whoever leaked this one!" Bush can be heard to be screaming in the halls of the White House.

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.

The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

[...]

A GAO spokesman declined to comment on the report before it is released. The 69-page draft, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is still undergoing review at the Defense Department, which may ask that parts of it be classified or request changes in its conclusions.

[...]

Asked to comment on the GAO draft, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are there on the ground every day in Iraq, and it's important to wait to hear what they have to say."

  WaPo

And so, after the "Petraeus" report, Bush is going to ask for $50 billion more to press the war in Iraq, and Congress will give it to him.


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


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bush in New Orleans

Of course we all know that he is simply trying to capitalize on the anniversary of Katarina's devastation with a photo op, but check this quote:
"There's always a more blessed day in the future and that's what we're here to celebrate."

Let me translate:

You are not going to be getting any satisfaction in this lifetime.

And from what I'm reading and hearing, that certainly looks to be possible, with federal and local officials still bickering about who is to do what, and even (according to NPR this morning) who is to blame for what went wrong.


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


Rove's Jaguar Awaits His Return to DC

Story here, but I'm having a hard time believing that he'd leave his expensive vehicle anywhere that would leave it exposed to pranks. So...maybe this is real, and maybe it isn't.


Update: Apparently it was the work of "friends".


Political Scandals, Republican Style

Larry Craig's arrest seems an opportune time to tally. TPM has a current post and an ongoing docket keeping track.


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


Applying the Brakes

The RNC is planning to refuse to seat delegates from five states at the 2008 national convention to punish them for screwing with the primary dates.


The Surge Must Be Working

Al-Sadr has ordered a (maximum) six-month vacation for his militia to reorganize.

That should hold the fighting down a little. Until they come back bigger and badder, eh?


A Different Kind of Politics

Take a look at artist Phil Hansen.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

City Room

I have to admit that I don't read the New York Times either in print or online at any time other than when a news story on which I'm posting comes from something at the NYT online and I've read about it somewhere else. But, once in a while, I do look at the statistics for this website (YWA) just to see what traffic is like and what stories people are currently searching. So that's how I learned there is a NYT blog called City Room, and that blogger Roja Heydarpour must take random strolls very far and wide through the blogosphere. How else to explain a You Will Anyway post showing up in the New York Times web pages?


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


Update 10/17/07: It's happened again. This time, Slate has quoted and linked to a YWA post. They must be getting feeds from some service and quoting the first that get blogged. Because I'm pretty darned sure these guys aren't regular YWA readers.


And Speaking of Education

"All I can say is this: Thank you Jesus for South Carolina!"

Prepare to be amazed by this video from the Miss Teen USA pageant.

And I was just whinging in the previous post about the things our media focus on. It only took me a heartbeat to leave the important news behind, eh? Well, actually, the education of American children could easily be one of the most important issues in this country. We never talk about it much.


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


Larry Craig Resigns

Not from his Senate seat, but as co-chairman for Twit Romney's presidential campaign.

Either the current GOP presidential hopefuls are having a rash of bad luck, or there just aren't that many non-sexually hypocritical GOP members to choose from.

In the latest on the story, Craig is still denying that he's gay. Of course, he's married with grown children, so he's probably bi-sexual and therefore, denying that he's gay would be a technical truth.

But this isn't the first time the question has come up.

Since this story has been simmering for a while before breaking, do you suppose it has anything to do with the timing of Gonzo's resignation...taking the opportunity when something else will occupy the headlines? Craig and Vick together give pretty good cover, considering the way our media focuses.


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


Monday, August 27, 2007

Requiem for a Bottom Feeder

Since Fredo gave such a short speech notifying the country of his resignation and neither took questions from reporters nor claimed he needed to spend more time with his family, it has been noted in many reports that there was no reason given for his departure or for the timing of his leaving.

Maru cleverly suggests that he simply can't recall.

David Brooks of the NY Times gave a less witty, but logical suggestion tonight on the PBS news. He said it was a matter of waiting until the calls for him to leave had died down so they could pretend it was his decision to go.

NPR reported that Mr. Brooks also lamented that under Gonzo's leadership, the Department of Justice, which should be able to draw on its prestige to recruit people for work there, had been "notably unsuccessful" at getting top attorneys. I'd say they'd been notably unconcerned about getting top attorneys. After all, they hired 150 graduates of Regent University. Come to think of it, it seems less like unconcern than a full out drive to hire attorneys for reasons other than their brains.

NPR also reported that two weeks ago Gonzo, talking to a group of young attorneys about the pride of working in the public service, answered the question of how they were to pay off big school loans by saying they didn't need to stay in public service; they could just put in two years and then go to work in the private sector and earn lots of money. In fact, he said, that's just what he was going to do.

And David Iglesias said that when Gonzo talked to a group of U.S. attorneys, he told them they worked for George Bush. Unfortunately, Iglesias was under the impression that they worked for the people of the United States, which I guess is essentially why he got canned.

Steve Benen sums up Gonzo's record.

On warrantless-searches, the Military Commissions Act, policy on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and the Geneva Conventions, Gonzales was a disaster. On actual law enforcement, crime rates went up under Gonzales’ watch. On managing the Justice Department, he filled his staff with Pat Robertson acolytes, feigned ignorance while structural disasters unfolded, and showed shocking tolerance for corruption and politicization of a department that, for the benefit of the nation and the rule of law, needed to maintain independence.



I Haven't Got a Title for This One

A Bush political appointee and former Silicon Valley executive who has faced opposition in his bid to bail out Iraq's struggling factories is under investigation by the Defense Department on mismanagement allegations.

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul A. Brinkley, who heads an economic task force in Baghdad, is accused of mismanaging government money and engaging in public drunkenness and sexual harassment, a Defense Department spokesman said last week.

  LA Times

You know, I just don't even want to comment on that aspect. I'm really getting tired of the same old story. I'm moving on to something more interesting.

Brinkley is asking U.S. department stores to create "Buy Iraqi" sections in the holiday season to market leather coats and handbags from Baghdad, hand-woven carpets from Kirkuk and clothing with hip-hop motifs from Mosul.

JC Penney and Wal-Mart aren't buying.

I wonder if those rugs will sell five for five bucks.


Unfortunate Analogy

Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military in 2003 and 2004 was asked about Bush's recent speech to veterans comparing the war in Iraq with the war in Viet Nam.

"It's a very unfortunate trip back into history," says Eaton. "It reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Vietnam war was about. Our enemy there was the North Vietnamese Army and their proxy forces, the Viet Cong.

The issue in Iraq is a religious-based civil war with al-Qaeda thrown in there to complicate the affair."

Eaton calls Bush's analogy "unfortunate," citing "untidy parallels" between the behaviors of senior civilian leadership in Vietnam and Iraq.

[...]

"My father's name is engraved on the Vietnam War Memorial -- killed in action after missing in action for 38 years. I thought it was a bad idea to start going down this link to Vietnam during this speech. It did not serve the country well, it does not serve the American fighting man and woman in Iraq well, and it certainly doesn't serve veterans well."

In that same speech, Bush also compared the war with the events of Pearl Harbor and our entry into WWII, to which Jon Stewart remarked on the Daily Show that if there truly were a comparison there, after the Japanese attacked, the U.S. would have invaded China.

However, I think Bush may have been closer in that analogy, considering the evidence and stories about the government knowing in advance of the attack and not preventing it. I don't think that's what he was aiming at, though.


New Weapons, New Ways to Torture

A new 'super-weapon' being supplied to British soldiers in Afghanistan employs technology based on the "thermobaric" principle which uses heat and pressure to kill people targeted across a wide air by sucking the air out of lungs and rupturing internal organs.

[...]

According to [Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies] Campbell, the deployment of the weapons was not announced to Parliament.

[...]

Officials told the Guardian the new weapon was classified as a soldier launched "light anti-structure munition" and that the bombs would be more effective because "even when they hit the damage is limited to a confined area."

  RawStory

That's what they said about the smart bombs - they could be aimed to enter a specific window in a building. Yeah, right. And if it's true, I ask you, why then is the soldier launching the weapon dressed like this?



Often it does seem a pity that Noah and his party did not miss the boat. --Mark Twain


Still Another One!

Okay, I don't know about this...

First of all, don't tap your foot in a public restroom stall, men. That's a sign you want to have illicit homosexual sex.

Secondly, I would never imagine that tapping your foot in a public restroom would get you arrested, but it happened to Republican Senator Larry Craig (Idaho) at the Minneapolis airport. There must be more to the story, because he pled guilty to charges of disorderly conduct, even while claiming his actions were "misconstrued".

The guilty plea makes me think that indeed he was trying to have illicit homosexual sex. And if so....what in the world is it with all these Republican political officials getting caught in similar conduct lately? I might ask why so many closet Republicans, but I'm more concerned about why so many frigging stupid Republicans. With these types of scandals coming one after the other, wouldn't you be a little more cautious? Lay low for a while?


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


Update: A little more information makes it appear that Craig knew all the moves.


Pace Denies Suggesting a Troop Withdrawal

General Peter Pace says the story was wrong. It was speculation. Leaving us to wonder just what the real story was/is.


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


Gone Fishin'

Some reactions (courtesy the AP) to Fredo's resignation. Apparently, the effective date of his resignation is September 17. That will get him through the "Petraeus" report scheduled for September 11. What else?


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


STOP THE PRESSES!

The NYT is reporting that Alberto Fredo Gonzales turned in his resignation on Friday.

"The unfair treatment that he's been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department."

So unfair. Incompetent liars whose job it is to protect the illegal activities of their boss want fairness, too.



Sunday, August 26, 2007

Iraq Benchmark

Three years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, only one major U.S. building project in Iraq is on schedule and within budget: the massive new American embassy compound.

The $592 million facility is being built inside the heavily fortified Green Zone by 900 non-Iraqi foreign workers who are housed nearby and under the supervision of a Kuwaiti contractor, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Construction materials have been stockpiled to avoid the dangers and delays on Iraq's roads.

"We are confident the embassy will be completed according to schedule (by June 2007) and on budget," said Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman.

  USA Today April 2006

Well, there were some delays.

Two former employees of First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting, the company that's building the new $592 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, testified to a House of Representatives panel Thursday that they'd observed abuses of construction workers.

  McClatchy July 2007

But maybe that June date was hasty.

The United States' largest and costliest embassy, a heavily fortified compound in Baghdad with its own power plant and lighted softball field, is on track to be completed next month, on time and within budget.

[...]

[Charles Williams, director of the State Department's overseas building operations] said he expects the State Department to perform final inspections by Sept. 24 or 25. Diplomats could move in after that, he said.

[...]

The 65-acre compound will be largely a world unto itself, insulated as much as possible from problems that plague the rest of Baghdad.

[...]

The embassy will have a separate set of 9-foot-high concrete walls to protect it against car or truck bombs. Many of the buildings also will have specially made bulletproof doors and windows, Williams said.

Baghdad experiences frequent utility outages, but the compound will have its own power, water and sewage plants.

[...]

Building the facility in the middle of an insurgency was costly, but Williams said it will not exceed the $592 million budgeted. By having workers live inside the Green Zone, the U.S. government avoided a lot of the security costs that have hampered other construction projects throughout Iraq.

The builders, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, headquartered in Kuwait, brought in about 2,500 mostly non-Iraqi workers who lived in trailers in the Green Zone.

[...]

It was easier than trying to bring locals into the work site, he said. "The Iraqis were difficult to vet," Williams said.

  USA Today August 2007

I have nothing to say. You can make your own comments.


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


Al-Maliki Responds

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki (justifiably) is not impressed with Americans calling for his ouster.

"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses."

  Yahoo

Unfortunately, their senses are the problem.

"Concerning American raids on Shula (a northern Shiite neighborhood) and Sadr City (the Shiite slum enclave in east Baghdad). There were big mistakes committed in these operations. The terrorist himself should be targeted not his family.

"When they want to detain one person, they should not kill 10 others. These are mistakes which we have to deal with. We will not allow the detaining of innocent people. Only the criminals should be detained," the angry al-Maliki declared.

Well, now he's just getting carried away. We're killing insurgents, not civilians. And those people harboring insurgents are not innocent. And the stray kid or two is just collateral damage.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the reports I've been reading and pictures I've been seeing commonly have the Iraqi police doing some pretty intensive cleaning up of the population as well.

And, Al...the whole world is one of our villages. Do what you're told, be quiet, and let us do what we want.


....we will anyway.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Who Is John Galt?

You may already know that recently there was a fire that killed two NYC firemen, and later a scaffolding collapse that injured two more, at what's left of the Deutsche Bank Building 130 Liberty Street in New York. The New York Times is reporting that an "obscure" demolition company was used to take down that building in the wake of the WTC collapse. It's prompted Geoff Manaugh at Bldg Blog to offer some conspiracy/movie ideas:

[T]he John Galt Corporation "has apparently never done any work like [this]," the New York Times reports. "Indeed, Galt does not seem to have done much of anything since it was incorporated in 1983."

Public and private records give no indication of how many employees it has, what its volume of business is or who its clients are. There are almost no accounts of any projects it has undertaken on any scale, apart from 130 Liberty Street. Court records are largely silent. Some leading construction executives in the city say they have never even heard of it.

[...]


[T]here are so many potential novel plots in this set-up, I can hardly believe it.

There's the Nicolas Cage/National Treasure 3 version: the John Galt Corporation is actually a front for some rogue group of foreign archaeologists – because there is something inside the building... and they need to recover it.

There's the Loose Change version: 130 Liberty Street contains far too much chemical evidence that thermite really was used on 9/11 – and so the John Galt Corporation was brought in by Langley to clean up the job...

There's the Ghostbusters/Grant Morrison version: the building is not a building at all... it is a valve, built directly above the Pillar of Manhattan, and it is only there as a way to vent subterranean steam. The John Galt Corporation is really a team of Columbia-trained paranormal investigators...

And Keach Hagey at CBS leaves us with this note:

Who is John Galt? I mean, besides the shadowy male hero of the Ayn Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged", which manages to convince thousands of teenagers every year that greed is good?

The New York Times leads with an exhaustive investigative piece revealing that the John Galt Corporation, hired by the city to demolish the 9/11-contaminated Deutsche Bank building where two firefighters died on Saturday, is every bit as shadowy and nearly as fictional as its namesake.

[...]

The Galt corporation was fired yesterday for safety violations, according to the New York Post. The firefighters died as an out-of-control fire grew to seven alarms while they waited nearly an hour for water to arrive.

John Galt is one of the main characters in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. An engineer by trade, Galt is the male hero of the story; his actions include withdrawing his talents, 'stopping the motor of the world', and leading the 'strikers' against the 'looters'.

The question "Who is John Galt?" is asked repeatedly throughout the story.

[...]

The phrase becomes an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of the world.

  Wikipedia

Very interesting.


Slightly Suspicious

Yesterday, I made this comment in a post:

I could be wrong, but I suspect George's remark about it being up to the Iraqi people to decide who their leader is was a nod to having Maliki removed, without having to call for it.

This evening, I see an article on CNN dated yesterday:

A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN has confirmed.

This comes as President Bush is publicly taking great pains to reiterate his support for the embattled Iraqi leader.

Oh what a surprise.

One Republican congressional aide who received the e-mails this week expressed surprise that a lobbying firm with such close ties to the White House would attack al-Maliki at such a pivotal time on the debate over the war, just weeks before Bush provides a progress report to the nation.

[...]

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told CNN the Bush administration continues to support al-Maliki and the Iraqi Presidency Council, "and we'll continue to work with them on the best way forward in Iraq."

"I don't think they asked the White House before they signed their contract with Mr. Allawi," he said.

Asked earlier why Republican lobbyists would want to undercut the administration's public statements, Johndroe said, "Maybe it's a really good contract."


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


Update: TPM has a quote from the website of one of the same lobbyists' other money-making projects:

New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Soldier Props

On MSNBC’s Hardball tonight, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who is leading a White House front group to defend Bush’s escalation, was unable to name the wounded Iraq veteran featured in his organization’s pro-war ad. “I don’t have his name in front of me,” said Fleischer when asked by host Mike Barnicle if he knew the soldier’s name.

Later in the program, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America executive director Paul Rieckhoff ripped into Fleischer’s offensive ignorance. “What bothered me the most is that Ari Fleischer didn’t even know the guy’s name.” said Rieckhoff. “He’s willing to run a multi-million dollar campaign, utilizing the personal story of a soldier, and he couldn’t tell you on national TV what that soldier’s name is.”

  Think Progress

Name? The soldiers are real people with names?

Hey, when that boy signed up to serve his country, he became the property of the U.S. Government. His name is now Soldier.

Actually, if you read the article, you will find the soldier's name.


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


Friday, August 24, 2007

General Peter "Cut and Run" Pace

Joining the ranks of those calling for troop removals, the recently removed Peter Pace says half out to be brought out of Iraq by 2008.


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


Update August 27: Pace denies it.


Making Space for the Political Process to Work

I'm sorry to inform you that the political situation in Iraq is getting even worse, despite the surge that was supposed to give it room to blossom.

Escalating a political crisis that has paralyzed the Iraqi government, three secular cabinet members will formally resign Saturday.

  WaPo

I could be wrong, but I suspect George's remark about it being up to the Iraqi people to decide who their leader is was a nod to having Maliki removed, without having to call for it - after all, he personally ushered in Iraqi democracy, did he not? He can't very well now just come out and say about al-Maliki what he said about Saddam.

Senators Levin and Warner are calling for Maliki's removal. And it looks like our old pal Iyad Allawi is hankering for another go at running things himself. Allawi, the guy who pulled out a gun and shot suspected insurgents in cold blood. Allawi, the guy who broke his wrist pounding on a table in a rage. Allawi, the "former" CIA man. Allawi, the guy who was appointed interim Prime Minister by the American government in advance of elections in Iraq and who lost big when the votes were counted.

I have a better idea. We could trot out Chalabi. He's bound to still be around under some rock somewhere.


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


"Friendly Fire" Takes Down Three More

U.S. F-15 fighter jets called in to provide close air support mistakenly bombed a British patrol, killing three soldiers and seriously wounding two others in southern Afghanistan, officials said Friday.

  NPR

Of course this is not a unique case in our current Middle East wars. The most famous is perhaps Pat Tillman (and we're still not sure that was even an "accident"), but there have been others. One of our own, Nathan White. And who knows how many have not been reported because they neither involved a costly airplane or a famous name?

There are several other British and Canadian troops who have died at the wrong end of an American gun. Brit Matty Hull (plus four others wounded). Canadian Mark Anthony Graham (plus 30 wounded). Canadians Marc Leger, Ainsworth Dyer, Richard Green, and Nathan Smith. Brits David Williams and Kevin Main.

I didn't find any cases of "friendly fire" from any of our allies killing any American soldiers.


Waste of Breath

The White House is already downplaying Sen. John Warner’s (R-Va.) suggestion of a small drawdown by Christmas. Asked whether Bush would leave the door open to setting a timetable, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, “I don’t think the president feels any differently about setting a specific timetable for withdrawal. I just think it’s important that we wait right now to hear from our commanders on the ground about the way ahead.”

  The Carpetbagger Report

John Warner, who cheered on the invasion of Iraq and who said the arrest of Saddam Hussein justified the invasion, is finally catching on. However, even though Mr. Warner wants only a small number of troops withdrawn in time for Christmas only to send the Iraqi government a message that we won't wait forever for them to get their act together, George will be waiting for the Petraeus report before he makes any decision. A report that George himself will write.

Thanks for your input Senator Warner. Now sit down.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

What a Difference a State Makes

BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT

Among the items on the agenda at last night's meeting of the Brattleboro Selectboard was a vote to permanently ban public nudity in the famously tolerant Vermont town. [...] The proposed ordinance--which defines nudity as "the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a full opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion of the areola"--was voted down 3-2. [...] Brattleboro's nudists will remain citation free.

  The Smoking Gun

In the words of [Brattleboro] Town Manager Jerry Remillard, if you're naked in public, and you're minding your business, you're legal.

  Boston.com

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs would be illegal under a proposed amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws. The amendment, sponsored by city councilman C.T. Martin, states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.

[...]

The proposed ordinance states that "the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments" would be unlawful in a public place.

  Yahoo

We'll be waiting to see how that turns out. An "epidemic" that's becoming a "major concern" around the country. Because Atlanta has its finger on the social and moral pulse of the nation.

Indecent exposure of undergarments, indeed.

Councilman Martin ought to take a moment to think about this. If people want to dress in a manner that makes them look like fools and inhibits their freedom of movement, he should recognize the positive aspects. 1) You know immediately that you're dealing with someone whose sensibility is in question, and 2) if they happen to be into criminal activities, they can't run as fast as you while trying to hold up their pants, and they have only one hand free to attack with.

One of the funniest things I ever saw was a young man trying to pick himself up off the ground after falling off his skateboard wearing pants with the crotch hanging below his knees.

I'm not particularly concerned about what people wear, but I have to say that that is one fashion statement I thought wouldn't last, because how can it not be as uncomfortable as it is impractical? But it's lasted longer than any other "fad" I've seen. The first time I saw the baggy pants fashion was when I was living in Seattle about 15 years ago. I remember feeling sorry for the young man I saw, because I thought his family was too poor to buy him pants that fit and he was having to wear his father's clothes. (Yes, it's been over 15 years since I had any clue about what was fashionable or not.)

And don't even get me started on the fashion policing going on at Landscape Services back at the University of Missouri ten years ago. For the love of Pete, why do grown people think they need to make rules about how other grown people should dress themselves?


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


Oh wait... I have more. You know. You know there is an epidemic of plumber's crack in Atlanta that needs to be addressed.


Ooops wait again... I guess I wasn't thinking about spike heels when I implied that droopy drawers might be the longest running fashion that is both uncomfortable and impractical. Like droopy drawers, spikes make running difficult, but getting back up after a fall isn't as tricky. And both hands are still free. So I guess my vote is still droopy drawers for the most ridiculous long-running fashion. (Neckties can enter the running, but they'll stay in third place, and mostly they're just pointless. And I'm limiting this to western fashion, or we'd lose hands down. Or hands holding up our pants.)


Cut and Run Warner

John Warner (R-Va) (yes, that's R) comes back from Iraq saying the administration needs to start pulling troops out and bringing them home.


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


Another One Bites the Dust

On the heels of Brad Schlozman, Wan Kim is resigning from the DoJ's Civil Rights Division. My, my, the list just keeps growing. The purge that was intended by the DoJ to get rid of "disloyal" federal attorneys seems to have backfired into a purge of the DoJ itself.


All Right, Who Leaked This One?

AUGUST 1:

[Barack] Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government, a move that would likely cause anxiety in the already troubled region.

"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said.

  Reuters

AUGUST 2:

Q: I gather, Tony, from your answer to Martha that you don’t think very much of Barack Obama’s suggestion, he’d send U.S. troops into Pakistan to take care of those safe havens.

TONY SNOW: Well, let me just say we think that our approach to Pakistan is one that not only respects the sovereignty of Pakistan as a sovereign government, but is also designed to work in a way where we are working in cooperation with the local government. So we think that our policy and our approach is the right one.

  White House press release

AUGUST 23:

Newly uncovered "rules of engagement" show the U.S. military gave elite units broad authority more than three years ago to pursue suspected terrorists into Pakistan, with no mention of telling the Pakistanis in advance.

[...]

The documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a detailed glimpse at what Army Rangers and other terrorist-hunting units were authorized to do earlier in the war on terror. And interviews with military officials suggest some of those same guidelines have remained in place, such as the right to "hot pursuit" across the border.

[...]

Other grounds for incursions into Pakistan, according to this summary, were "personnel recovery," including rescuing troops after the downing of aircraft; and troops "in contact with" the enemy, meaning under fire.

[...]

Told of the guidelines, Pakistani military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said, "This is all nonsense. Pakistan never allowed the coalition forces to enter into our territory while chasing militants. There was no such agreement, there was no such understanding."

  

Dude, I don't think you get it....it was authorized without an agreement. Just like Obama would have it.


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


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Daily Show Correspondent in Iraq

The Daily Show's Rob Riggle is entertaining the troops in Iraq, and reporting for the show on Comedy Central all this week.

Click the picture to view a clip. Other clips are at Comedy Central.


Minnesota Bridge Collapse

The last of the missing bodies has been pulled from the wreckage of the I-35 bridge, and documents detailing what officials knew about its weaknesses have been revealed.

MnDOT officials said that if the bridge was simply inspected, the benefit would be: "Don't have to pay for steel, stockpile steel, or install steel."

The downside of such a decision, MnDOT officials acknowledged in the meeting, was that "If a crack is found it will take 4 months to order steel and reinforce the bridge, and the bridge will be closed to traffic for this duration. But there is a further risk that the damage is beyond fixing, and the bridge will have to be condemned. This means 35W will be closed for a minimum 5 years until the new bridge is finished."

  STar Tribune

If they only had Dick Cheney on board, they could have refused to release those damning documents.

It seesm that the decision they came to was to repair the bridge, but then an unexpected expense came up, and they changed their minds. An apology was sent to one of the engineers on the project.

"We regret the additional work this has caused you and others in the district," Peterson wrote in an e-mail, "but I'm sure you agree that based on this new information it [is] appropriate that we postpone the project until we can determine if another option may [be] as safe and a more cost effective approach."

[...]

[At] least three internal documents suggest that money was a consideration.

I don't know if the engineer did indeed agree at that time, but I dare say they are now going to be spending a whole lot more money in lawsuits and rebuilding than they would have paid to go ahead and repair it. A whole lot more.


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


About Those Subpoenas

Cheney actually told the Republican-controlled Congress when they questioned the warrantless wiretapping game that they were not allowed to issue subpoenas. So they didn't. Amazing.

But the Democratic-controlled Congress is only slightly more in line with the Constitution. They'll issue subpoenas. But they won't back them.


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


Court Orders Bush Administration to Publish Climate Data

A federal judge ordered the Bush administration to issue two scientific reports on global warming, siding with environmentalists who sued the White House for failing to produce the documents.

[...]

The judge set a May 31 deadline to produce a national assessment containing the most recent scientific data on global warming and its projected effects on the country's environment, economy and public health. The government is required to complete a national assessment every four years, the judge ruled.

The last one was issued by the Clinton administration in 2000.

  Yahoo

Of course, we've already seen that the Bush Administration is not above ordering government scientists to fudge data. So getting the reports isn't the same as getting the truth.


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


Monday, August 20, 2007

Couldn't Stand the Heat

Must still be hot in the US attorney purge kitchen.

Following White House liaison Monica Goodling, chief of staff Kyle Sampson, Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and his chief of staff Michael Elston, Brad Schlozman has resigned.

Does he need more time with his family?


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


Iraq Report

A roadside bomb on Monday killed the governor of Iraq's Muthanna province, making him the second governor in as many weeks to become a casualty of violence between rival Shiite Muslim militias in southern Iraq.

[...]

In a joint statement, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee's chairman, and John Warner, R-Va., the committee's senior Republican, said that while a surge of U.S. troops had tamped down violence in some parts of Baghdad, there was no sign of political reconciliation between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite rivals and "we are not optimistic about the prospects." They said U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker shared their views.

Levin later told reporters during a conference call from Tel Aviv that he believed the Iraqi parliament should replace Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. "The Maliki government is nonfunctional and cannot produce a political settlement because it is too beholden to religious and sectarian leaders," Levin said.

  McClatchy

Oh, and we thought it was going so well.

It seems Senators Levin and Warner aren't the only ones jumping the gun on General Petraeus' (September 11) report.

VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day.

Read more of this article in the NY Times written by a group of soldiers who are there.


Okay, Just One More

Remember this post of mine on August 8?

Leahy says he really means it this time. The WH better turn over those documents pertaining to the warrantless wiretap program. I bet they're just scared enough now to do it, too.

In the immortal words of Mike "Wayne Campbell" Myers, "And monkeys might fly out of my butt."

Well, guess what? No monkeys.

Leahy first gave the White House until July 18 to produce the documents, and then he agreed to give the administration until Aug. 1 to comply. The letter to Fielding sent Wednesday sets Aug. 20 at 2:30 p.m. as the "new return date" for the subpoenas.

That was headlined: Leahy sets final deadline for White House on wiretapping docs, and that prompted my sarcastic August 8 post.

And, 2:30 pm on August 20 has come and gone, the White House has asked for more time, and Senator Leahy has said okay. Again. And threatened the White House. Again.

During a press conference this afternoon, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that the White House had still not responded to the committee's subpoena for documents relating to the legal basis for the warrantless surveillance program.

[...]

"I prefer cooperation to contempt." But if the administration has still not responded to the subpoena by September when Congress returns from recess, he said that he would pursue contempt proceedings in the committee "if that's what it takes."

  TPM Muckraker

Oooh. Doubly scared now.


Incredible

General Petraeus will give his report on....wait for it....September 11.

Suppose that was one of Karl's brilliant moves?

They're laughing at you, you know.


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


George "Macaca" Allen

Will he be running for Governor of Virginia?

from Jesus' General


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


American Psych Association Says No to Torture

The American Psychological Association ruled yesterday that psychologists can no longer be associated with several interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism detainees at US facilities because the methods are immoral, psychologically damaging, and counterproductive in eliciting useful information.

Psychologists who witness interrogators using mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions, or sleep deprivation are required to intervene to stop such abuse, to report the activities to superiors, and to report the involvement of any other psychologists in such activities to the association. It could then strip those professionals of their memberships.

[...]

Psychologists who have their membership revoked can lose their licenses, because many state licensing boards require psychologists to be in good standing with the national association.

  Boston.com

The military will probably not have that requirement, and they can be lifers.


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


Who Said This?

“There is life after government…even after you have been thrown under a bus by the leader of the free world.”

That would be Michael Brown, ex-director of FEMA.

Apparently "Brownie" harbors some bad feelings about being handed a job he wasn't prepared to do and then left to hang in the breeze when things went south.

He's now in a pretty good position to be the last man smiling, though...all the way to the bank...selling disaster relief and data-mining services to government agencies.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Outmatched

Democrats are apparently having second thoughts on the new powers they handed Gonzo just before they went on vacation. I'm going out on a limb here and suggesting they're only having those second thoughts because of the public outcry.

Aug. 18 — Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said.[...]The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.

  NYT

In fact, if they were following their normal course, they didn't even read it. That's our Congress. It's a crying shame, but there's no surprise there.

Democratic leaders have said they plan to push for a revision of the legislation as soon as September. “It was a legislative over-reach, limited in time,” said one Congressional Democratic aide. “But Democrats feel like they can regroup.”


Where they get that belief is beyond me. They haven't been showing very well so far.

Though many Democratic leaders opposed the final version of the legislation, they did not work forcefully to block its passage, largely out of fear that they would be criticized by President Bush and Republican leaders during the August recess as being soft on terrorism.

Hand them the power, and they're still afraid of being criticized by the people the power was meant to be taken from, including the man who's credibility with the public is tanking into the toilet and from whom presidential candidates in his own party are distancing themselves. Infuckingcredible.

Yet Bush administration officials have already signaled that, in their view, the president retains his constitutional authority to do whatever it takes to protect the country, regardless of any action Congress takes.

[...]

At a tense meeting last week with lawyers from a range of private groups active in the wiretapping issue, senior Justice Department officials refused to commit the administration to adhering to the limits laid out in the new legislation and left open the possibility that the president could once again use what they have said in other instances is his constitutional authority to act outside the regulations set by Congress.

[...]

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do."

So, really, it doesn't make a whit's difference what legislation the Congress might pass. George will do as he pleases. Waste all the time you want passing laws. He's above them. And "impeachment is off the the table," according to Ms. Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Well, why not? You can't impeach a king.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Today's Treat - On Me (and Link12227 at YouTube)

One of my favorite all-time TV shows was a British Sci-Fi comedy called Red Dwarf. Here's one of the older episodes - "Tikka to Ride".

Background for the show is this: Three million years into the future, after a nuclear accident aboard a mining station in space, the sole occupants travel around the cosmos looking for other life. Those occupants include Dave Lister, a ship's mate who survived by having been serving time in stasis when the accident happened; Arnold Rimmer, the one hologramatic form the ship can support; Cat, a humanoid life form evolved from a pregnant cat that was exposed to the radiation on board the ship; and Kryten, a service android rescued from a junked space ship.

In this episode, Part 2 picks up with Dave Lister tricking the others into traveling back in time with him in search of a curry dinner. They land in Dallas, 1963. (Click the pix.)

(Part 1 is here if you like.)


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


Ron Paul

Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul plays "Not My Job" on Wait, Wait! Don't Tell Me.


He Does Read, After All

We already know that George doesn't read much, or even pay much attention to what's read to him (Bin Laden Determined to Attack US, for example). Just what does the president read? Newspapers reporting on his fashion sense, apparently.

Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American- Statesman wrote a short piece about the president's sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation.

[...]

"The president has two distinct looks when he's in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he's opted to look more like 'Walker, Texas Ranger' than a sweaty, tough ranch hand." In the piece, an image consultant offered that Bush needed to "step it up" to keep his "bravado image" on the ranch.

[...]

Harper received a phone call that morning from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.

  WaPo

Here's the article reprinted in the Kansas City Star. It ends:

In his Western duds, Bush easily could model for Ralph Lauren. But if his popularity is still low through the end of his presidency, he could always try Wrangler.

What was the purpose of calling the style reporter and informing him of the president's displeasure? There's a joke here somewhere about the Emperor's New Clothes, but I can't think what it is.

And speaking of the presidential vacation...

The French first lady feigned a sore throat so she didn't have to attend the picnic with the Bushes.

And, in an article titled "The Vacationer-In-Chief", Capitol Hill Blue reports that, as of last week, George has been on vacation more than a year (418 days) in his less than six years as president.

Finally, for the curious:

As of December 1999, President Bill Clinton had spent only 152 days on holiday during his two terms, according to CBS News.[...] While we couldn't find the exact tally for Clinton's last year in office, it's reasonable to expect he didn't increase his vacation rate. And in barely three years in office, George W. Bush [had] already taken more vacation than Clinton did in seven years.

[...]

George Bush Sr. took all or part of 543 vacation days at Camp David and in Kennebunkport. Ronald Reagan spent 335 days at or en route to his Santa Barbara, California, ranch during his eight years in office. Of recent presidents, Jimmy Carter took the least days off -- only 79 days, which he usually spent at his home in Georgia. That's less than three weeks a year, which is closer to the average American's paid time off of 13 days per year.

  Yahoo


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


The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who can't. --Mark Twain


Baaaaaaaaa

Click to enlarge

Here


Cough 'Em Up

In an unprecedented order, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the Bush Administration to respond to a request it received last week by the American Civil Liberties Union for orders and legal papers discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in the secret wiretapping of Americans, according to an ACLU press release late Friday.

  Raw Story


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


Bill Moyers on Karl Rove

Karl Rove figured out a long time ago that the way to take an intellectually incurious draft-averse naughty playboy in a flight jacket with chewing tobacco in his back pocket and make him governor of Texas, was to sell him as God’s anointed in a state where preachers and televangelists outnumber even oil derricks and jack rabbits.

[...]

You may think God summoned Billy Graham to Florida on the eve of the 2000 election to endorse George W. Bush just in the nick of time, but if it did happen that way, the good lord was speaking in a Texas accent.

Check out Bill Moyers at Raw Story.


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


Friday, August 17, 2007

A History of Abuse

DES MOINES, Iowa - The state has agreed to pay $925,000 to unwitting subjects of an infamous 1930s stuttering experiment — orphans who were badgered and belittled as children by University of Iowa researchers trying to induce speech impediments.

[...]

Over a six-month period, Dr. Wendell Johnson, a nationally renowned pioneer in the field of speech pathology, and his staff tested his theory on 22 children who were in the care of the state-run Iowa Soldiers' Orphans' Home. Some were subjected to steady harassment, badgering and other negative therapy in an attempt to get them to stutter; the rest served as a control group.

  Yahoo

The same minds that brought you torture lite. When people talk about abductions and cold-hearted experiments, why do they think it's aliens?


Oh, Rudy

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday [August 9] he had exposed himself to the same health risks as workers at ground zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and spent as much time at the site as those involved in the recovery.

  Digg.com

So rescue workers spent an average of 29 hours over three months there?


2008

In response to claims that he's inexperienced, Barack Obama has hit upon the perfect response:
"No one had more experience in Washington than Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld."



Hat tip to POAC.

Ooops

She was wearing a Mayan dress, the traditional attire of indigenous people in central America, and the hotel's response was also traditional: throw her out.

Staff at Cancun's five-star Hotel Coral Beach appear to have assumed this was another street vendor or beggar, so without asking questions they ordered her to leave. Except the woman was Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel peace prizewinner, Unesco goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights.

[...]

The human rights activist was in the Mexican coastal resort at the request of President Felipe Calderón to participate in a conference on drinking water and sanitation and was due to give interviews at the hotel.

[...]

Commentators noted the irony of upmarket resorts discriminating against real Maya while trying to attract tourists with fake Mayan architecture and spectacles.

  UK Guardian

Andrew Bolt at Australia's Herald Sun will say she set them up.

I saw this in resorts in Mexico, and I'd suggest that they didn't necessarily think she was a beggar or street vendor. They just knew she wasn't a wealthy light-skinned patron. Whatever else she was didn't matter. The light-skinned vacationers, Mexican and foreign both, don't want the peasant class to mar the scenery. It's typical resort treatment of the "natives."

President Calderón might want to think about trying to change that. But I doubt it.


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


The Padilla Verdict

Aside from whatever evidence there was or was not in the Padilla case, the fact that he was tried and convicted leads Glenn Greenwald to ask a good question: What now becomes of the WH claim that accused terrorists are too dangerous to be permitted a regular trial in US courts according to our Constitution?


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


Rats from a Sinking Ship

WH press secretary Tony Snow is leaving. Seems like he just got there. He's claiming a different cause than we usually hear: financial reasons. Maybe he doesn't have a family.

He says he's running out of money. They don't pay him?

He also hints at "a couple" more "high-level" resignations in the months ahead.

I might chalk up all the departures as end-of-the-lame-duck-season maneuvers as people are lining up other jobs in anticipation of a house-cleaning when the new president comes in, if it weren't for all the current scandals and investigations.


I Love Galveston

In case you didn't know, Texas is trying to drown itself now that Karl Rove is coming back.

Last night I caught little bits of the flood reports out of Houston on the TV, but found them too annoying to stick with. One of the newscasters started out by saying, "Who could have imagined a day like this?" Frankly, there probably isn't a person in Houston whose memory doesn't reach back to the time, two or three weeks ago, when the town was flooded in pretty much the same fashion under the last deluge. At least, to my eye, the news clips look the same.

We are on notice that the City of Galveston may call an evacuation Tuesday morning, depending upon the ultimate course that Hurricane Dean takes.

I only moved to Galveston last October and so haven't gotten the pleasure yet of evacuating - something I understand was a nightmare of waterless, fuel-less automobiles full of people and pets stretching for miles and days the last time it happened. I will be filling my gas tank tonight.

I know it's not considerate of me to hope that Dean goes south, so that people down the way have to get hit, but....

I imagine the Gulf will be beautiful - the last couple of days it's been churning - and I would like to watch, but I wouldn't like to get crushed. I'm used to Missouri weather, where you had tornado season, but you didn't spend days wondering and preparing and anticipating. When a tornado hits, you can see it, and you get down. Now! I think I like that better. (Although, when I was a kid, and there were tornado warnings, I always had visions of my father being trapped out plowing the fields with no ditch for shelter. Those were terrible moments, but they didn't last long.) Now, I'm just annoyed at having to make sure everything is up off the floor, and the idea of getting trapped in traffic for days really does not appeal to me.

But I do love Galveston. It's an amazing place. I just don't understand the people here. I think they've been steamed too long and their brains are cooked.

Who knew trying to hire help for a simple, easy job would be so difficult? They don't show up for their interviews. If they do, you hire them right there. And then one day (soon), they don't show up for work. Maybe they're in jail. Maybe they just didn't feel like coming to work.

I was talking with someone about it yesterday - a woman in an administrative office. She said her favorite was the woman who came to apply for a job wearing pink fuzzy house-slippers. Well, why not? That's pretty much the energy level around this island. Fast food? Hah! They'll stand and discuss their recent night out with each other right in front of you across the counter. They'll get to you, when they get to you.

My favorite application story from the administrative woman, though, was the woman who came in to apply and asked the administrator to fill out the application for her.

"No, ma'am, I can't do that," she said.

"Weeeeellll, I couldn't find my eyeglasses this morning. Do you have any I could borrow?"

"No, ma'am. I wear contact lenses."

"Well, can I borrow your contacts?"

If Dean does hit here, I hope Galvestonians have a little more sense when it comes to evacuating. I'm not holding my breath. Unless I don't get out in time, I suppose.




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


Just the Wo/Man for the Job

Okay, I have finally composed a post about the "inappropriate" appointments of George W. Bush.

An investigative reporter for the Denver Post found that more than 100 of the high-level officials appointed by Bush in his first term alone were overseeing the industries they used to represent as lobbyists, employees or lawyers.

[...]

If Bush had tried to name a dedicated pacifist as secretary of defense, the public would have been outraged. But he has been doing virtually the same thing in many other agencies by appointing officials who are ideologically dedicated to subverting the purposes of the agencies they have joined.

  Mount Holyoke

In no particular order, here are a few of the "inappropriate" appointments:

Richard Stickler: to head mine safety, from mine manager with poor safety record (recess appointment)

Karl Zinsmeister: to Domestic Policy Adviser, from editor in chief of the American Enterprise Institute's magazine, knocking left politics, women in general, and diversity, and advocating racial profiling

Michael Baroody: to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from lobbyist for the powerful National Association of Manufacturers successfully watering down requirements for consumer safety

Michael Wynne: to Air Force Secretary, from involvement in a corrupt lease deal with Boeing for which one Air Force officer was sent to jail

John Bolton: to UN Ambassador, from a proponent of doing away with the UN, international law and multilateralism (recess appointment)

Julie MacDonald: to Fish & Wildlife, from a civil engineer who went on in her position at F&W to overrule scientific studies on endangered species and had F&W staff alter reports, urging them to give more weight to industry concerns

Elaine Chao: to Labor Secretary, from board member of five major corporations and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell who is backed by campaign contributions from the coal industry

Gale Norton: to head the Department of the Interior, who once argued to the Supreme Court that the Endangered Species Act and the Surface Mining Act were unconstitutional (both of which the Interior Dept. is charged with carrying out)

Steven Griles: to Deputy Interior Secretary, from coal and oil industry lobbyist sentenced to prison for his involvement in the Abramoff case)

W. David Hager: to the FDA's Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, from OB/GYN practice in which he refused to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women, opposed to emergency contraception, abortion and premarital sex

Daniel Troy (since resigned): to chief counsel for the FDA, from attorney opposing the FDA in industry lawsuits attempting to restrict FDA powers

Michael Brown (famously resigned): to FEMA chief, from (fired) attorney for Arabian Horse Association

Rodney Paige: to Education Secretary, from superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, advocate of "Christian Schools" who referred to the country's largest teachers association as a terrorist group


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


Things Change

We've often wondered how Cheney went from advising that a war in Iraq would be a terrible mistake when he was Secretary of Defense to George I to advocating just that and throwing in Iran, to boot, under Baby George. Well, now we've finally got our answer: He wasn't Vice President then.

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?


Bush and the Economy

President Bush said Wednesday the U.S. economy is thriving and he is doing what it takes to keep it strong.

[...]

"My administration follows a simple philosophy: Our economy prospers when we trust the American people with their own paychecks," Bush said.

  Money.CNN

Apparently, that trust is not a two-way street.

Overall, 23% of Americans say that they approve of the way George W. Bush is handling the economy, 73% disapprove, and 4% are undecided. Among registered voters, 23% approve and 72% disapprove of the way Bush is handling the economy.

  American Research Group

But they must be wrong...there's a headline on the White House web site they must not have seen:

The President's Pro-Growth Policies Are Helping Keep Our Economy Strong, Flexible, And Dynamic

Maybe they should stop reading that liberal rag, The New York Times.

Penned the New York Times, "the sober forecasts reverberated across Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index down by nearly 2 percent, with the Dow dropping more than 200 points. Shares of both Wal-Mart and Home Depot fell around 5 percent.

"Economists said the sluggish performance of the chains — Wal-Mart missed its profit forecast and Home Depot’s earnings dropped — could signal broader troubles in the economy."

Buried in the article was a sobering remark indeed: “Many customers are running out of money at the end of the month,” said H. Lee Scott Jr., the chief executive of Wal-Mart.

In Los Angeles, economic concerns hit close to home.

Anxious customers of Countrywide Bank jammed its phone lines, branches and website after the nation's largest mortgage lender -- which owns the bank -- announced it was facing problems from a credit meltdown.

  Raw Story

Meltdown.


Heckuva Job, Brownie

Why is it that Bush nearly always manages to appoint the worst possible person for the job? It's not a rare thing or a matter of luck. He's good at it.

Three rescue workers have died and others were injured in another collapse at the Utah mine. I'm not going to harp on the many safety violations this particular mine was supposed to have had, because it's my understanding that violations could be as minor as a wrench laying out when it should have been put away. I do understand that safety rules are made because there is some risk involved, but I also know that when I was working in research labs at a University, it was a violation of safety rules to have a soda can in the lab, even if it were unopened, because it might indicate that people were eating in a room that contained (properly stored) chemicals. So, it's possible some of the safety violations were of that type. On the other hand, it does seem this particular mine owner has a problematic record.

But of course, if you're a "small government" proponent, you also won't care that the country's head of mine safety couldn't get approval for his position, so Georgie, as he did so many times, placed him on the job by recess appointment. And I say that about "small government" because the appointment seems to have been made in order, not to actually oversee mine safety, but to make sure that the government kept its nose out of mine owners' business.

The man who will oversee the federal government's investigation into the disaster that has trapped six workers in a Utah coal mine for over a week was twice rejected for his current job by senators concerned about his own safety record when he managed mines in the private sector.

President George W. Bush resorted to a recess appointment in October 2006 to anoint Richard Stickler as the nation's mine safety czar after it became clear he could not receive enough support even in a GOP-controlled Senate.

  Huffington Post

It's almost as if George has intended to bring down the house, so to speak, by making incompetence and unconcern the hallmark of his administration. Makes him feel among peers, I guess. At least, if he isn't actually trying to destroy everything this country has managed to build up, he couldn't do a much better job if he did try.


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


Diplomacy

A career U.S. diplomat indicted this week for sending threatening messages to an Arab political organization has retired from the foreign service, the State Department said Thursday.

Patrick Syring retired last month, about a year after he allegedly left racist and intimidating phone and e-mail messages with the Arab American Institute, but before his Wednesday indictment on federal charges of threatening and violating civil rights laws, spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"Mr. Syring has chosen to retire from the State Department," McCormack told reporters. He declined to comment on the specifics of the matter, citing privacy concerns but stressed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would not tolerate the behavior in which Syring is alleged to have engaged.

  TPM

One of the statements this "diplomat" made was, "The only good Lebanese is a dead Lebanese. The only good Arab is a dead Arab."

Syring [...] also praised Israeli forces for "bombing Lebanon back to the Stone Age where it belongs" and said "Arabs are dogs," according to an e-mail cited in the indictment.

My question is why, if the threats from which the indictment was handed down happened a year ago, did we have to wait for Mr. Syring to voluntarily step down? The man left his name on the phone messages and sent the emails from his personal account. It's not like he was hidden behind some anonymous wall and perhaps innocent. Apparently State will indeed tolerate that behavior.


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


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Do the Words "Heat Stroke" Mean Anything To You?

I don't know who's more pathetic in this scenario - Bush or his staffers. Georgie setting people up with some machismo crap just because he's a pampered, mean-spirited bullying little prick (some day I'll tell you what I really think of him) is nothing new, but the fact that it could easily kill them, as it might in this case, is actually cruel. Despite Yahoo's misleading headline ("Bush leads aides on sweaty ranch run"), we don't have to worry about his heart - number one, he's not participating in the challenge, and number two, shriveled, black stones don't overheat.

Appropo of nothing....you have probably seen the picture of George picking his nose at a Rangers game before. I had never seen the video until today. Laura is sitting beside him at the same time wiping and picking at her nose, too. Check it out. Is there anybody who doesn't think they've just been snorting cocaine?


Mueller's Notes

FBI Director Robert Mueller took notes on the night that Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales tried to pressure a very sick John Ashcroft into signing off on the warrantless wiretaps. John Conyers is now asking for an unredacted version of those notes which include the information that one of the reasons John Ashcroft refused to sign anything was that he wasn't allowed to see all the pertinent information about the program! TPM Muckraker has details.


What's a Christian to Do?

Rev. Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., is asking his supporters to use "imprecatory prayer" to curse Americans United and its leaders.

The argument centers on whether Drake violated federal tax law by "electioneering" when he recently endorsed the presidential candidacy of Republican Mike Huckabee. Americans United on Tuesday asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate.

  USA Today

Imprecatory prayer? That's one I was not familiar with. So...

What is a Christian to do when the government protects criminals and criminal activity such as the abortion clinic? What is a Pastor to do when the government, or the news media, or well funded liberal hate groups persecute and bad mouth him because of his doctrine? What is a Christian to do when he can not go to the courts, police, and government for justice? What if the courts, police and government are the criminals.

  moseshand.com

That's easy. I remember it from Bible School: Turn the other cheek.

The answer is imprecatory prayer. Here is the definition found in most dictionaries.

Imprecation: A curse, denunciation that conveys a wish or threat of evil).

Imprecatory prayer: To pray for evil or misfortune (malediction, anathema, execration) Information on imprecatory prayer is extremely rare and that definition is so poor that it could almost be called a 'government' definition. Why is this definition poor? What is a better definition?

[...]

Imprecatory prayer is a last resort appeal to God for justice. The so called 'curses' are simply the just penalty called for in the scriptures for the alleged crime. Imprecatory prayer is an appeal to the court of divine justice (1) for protection and (2) the appropriate punishment for the criminals.

So...the "appropriate punishment" for asking the courts to investigate possible election law violations is a curse from God?


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


Pentagon-approved News Analysis

CNN news boss Eason Jordan's comment on CNN's "Reliable Sources" about getting the Pentagon to approve the network's military analysts was "equally troubling" as his silence-for-access admission. "Based on Jordan's own words... the news chief had asked the Pentagon to sign off on personnel assigned to a key element of CNN's war coverage, the equivalent of consulting with the White House in advance about political or policy experts it planned to use on the air," writes Rosenberg. "And he regarded the Pentagon's endorsement as 'important.' Not the best way to inspire confidence in the media's independence."

  Poynter Online

Oh, I think we're way beyond that.


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


Police State

The Washington Post has more on those spies in the skies that we learned about recently. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, says: "They are laying the bricks one at a time for a police state."

And just on the outside chance that that's true, let's have a look at somebody who's trying to defend against state spying.

Oakland lawyer Jon Eisenberg calls the case of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. George W. Bush the strangest he has ever handled. How strange? Eisenberg was required to write one of his briefs in a windowless government office, without notes or lawbooks, under the watchful eye of two federal security guards.

When he got hungry, one of the guards brought him a banana. And when he finished, a security official shredded all his drafts — and even the banana peel, Eisenberg said.

  LA Times

The case claims illegal spying by the government. There are others like it. The government's defense in these cases is that it can't say anything about the spying for national security reasons; then it files for dismissal.

But in the Al-Haramain case, the Treasury Department inadvertently disclosed National Security Agency call logs stamped "top secret" indicating that the charity and two of its attorneys had been surveilled. Last year, U.S. District Judge Garr King ruled that the logs -- referred to in the court papers as "The Document" — gave the charity standing to sue in federal court.

Fine, but they aren't finding it easy.

Many of the government's motions have been filed under seal, and those lodged publicly contain gaps; one government brief reads: "REDACTED TEXT. PUBLIC TEXT CONTINUES ON PAGE 6."

Some of Eisenberg's briefs have been redacted as well, because they are considered too sensitive for the public to see. But although Justice Department lawyers can see Eisenberg's redactions, he isn't allowed to see theirs.

In the Al-Haramain case, Eisenberg has had to respond to a government filing he was not allowed to see.

Asked Monday if there was any way, under the government's interpretation of the law, that someone could contest the surveillance program, a senior Justice Department official replied, "In the current context, no."

Tough luck.

Oversight of the department's use of the overhead imagery data would come from officials in the Department of Homeland Security and from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and would consist of reviews by agency inspectors general, lawyers and privacy officers. "We can give total assurance" that Americans' civil liberties will be protected, Allen said. "Americans shouldn't have any concerns about it."

  WaPo

I think you can imagine what I might have to say to that.


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