Sunday, September 30, 2007

Falluja - A War Crime of Epic Proportions

Incident Reports Fault Blackwater in Fallujah Ambush

You shouldn't need background, but if you do...it's all here.


Mission Accomplished

From Cursor
'No Going Back' At the end of an in-depth examination in the Boston Review of the dire situation facing millions of displaced Iraqis, Nir Rosen concludes "Iraq's human capital has fled, its intellectuals and professionals, the educated, the moneyed classes, the political elite. They will not return."

In an interview with Spiegel, Seymour Hersh argues that "The surge means basically that, in some way, the president has accepted ethnic cleansing," as historian Roger Owen details how U.S. policy has undermined sectarian cohesion and fostered warlord rivalry and chaos.


Craig Update

On Thursday, Larry Craig voted against a hate crimes bill that included violence against anyone for reasons of sexual orientation.


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


Another Big Surprise

A soldier is aquitted of murder.

A military panel acquitted US Army Specialist Jorge G. Sandoval of two counts of murder yesterday, apparently swayed by testimony from fellow Army snipers that two Iraqi men were killed on orders from a higher-ranking soldier.

Sandoval was convicted of a less serious charge of planting detonation wire on one of the bodies to make it look like the victim was an insurgent. As a result, he still could face five years in prison.

[...]

The [victim], who wore dark clothing and used a sickle to cut grass in a field, matched the general description Iraqi soldiers had given the Americans of one of two insurgents they had faced earlier in the day, according to testimony.

  Boston.com

Gee, how many Iraqi men do you think might fit that general description?

"He was just doing his job, as he was told. It's not his fault," said [squad mate Alexander] Flores, who, along with the rest of Sandoval's sniper platoon, greeted him with hugs and well wishes.

The German soldiers at Auschwitz were just doing their jobs, too.

Struggling to explain why a highly trained Army sniper unit, renowned for its lethal economy of patience and discipline, would bog down under a cloud of murder investigations, some soldiers in interviews faulted commanders for pushing units to keep their kill counts high.

  NYT

Not that any comanning officer will pay for the crimes.


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


An Opportunity to Spread Democracy

YANGON, Myanmar—Myanmar's government unexpectedly allowed the country's leading opposition figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, to leave house arrest briefly on Sunday and meet with a U.N. envoy trying to persuade the junta to ease its crackdown against a pro-democracy uprising.

But thousands of troops locked down Myanmar's largest cities, and scores of people were arrested overnight, further weakening the flagging movement. And Ibrahim Gambari, the U.N.'s special envoy to Myanmar, failed to see either the junta leader or his deputy in his scheduled meetings. The diplomat was returning late Sunday to the military government's headquarters for a possible third meeting.

  Mercury News

Too bad. If they had oil, we could help, spreading democracy being so important to us and all. And I know a lot of fundamentalist Christians who would jump at the chance to take their Bibles to Burma to convert Buddhists, because, to quote one of them, “You can’t get to heaven through the Buddha.”

Unfortunately, all Bush can offer at the moment is words.

"Every civilized nation has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under a brutal military regime," Bush said in a statement yesterday. "By its own account, the junta has already killed at least nine non-violent demonstrators."

  Bloomberg

And, in fact, I don’t think the kettle will welcome condemnation from the pot.

At least 10 dead as US soldiers fire on school protest
By Phil Reeves in Fallujah, Iraq - 30 April 2003


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


Missed Opportunity

After the Democratic "Debate" at Dartmouth, I was thinking again about the inappropriateness of Tim Russert's penultimate question asking each candidate to quote his or her favorite bible verse. I purposely did not capitalize the word there, because I want to make a point that at least the candidates had the option of quoting from something other than the Christian bible. But, of course, it was understood that was the book in question.

Here's the transcript of that line of questioning (you can see that, although they are aware of some basic stories, most of them don't know a bible verse, and I imagine pointing that out was the whole point of the exercise):

RUSSERT: I want to give everyone a chance in this. You just take 10 seconds.

Senator Clinton, favorite Bible verse?

CLINTON: The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think it's a good rule for politics, too.

RUSSERT: Senator Gravel?

GRAVEL: The most important thing in life is love. That's what empowers courage, and courage implements the rest of our virtues.

RUSSERT: Congressman Kucinich?

KUCINICH: I carry that with me at every debate, this prayer from St. Francis, which says, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace," and I believe very strongly that all of us can be instruments of peace. And that's what I try to bring to public life.

RUSSERT: Senator Edwards?

EDWARDS: It appears many times in the Bible, "What you do onto the least of those, you do onto me."

RUSSERT: Governor Richardson?

RICHARDSON: The Sermon on the Mount, because I believe it's an issue of social justice, equality, brotherly issues reflecting a nation that is deeply torn and needs to heal and come together.

DODD: The Good Samaritan would be a worthwhile sort of description of who we all ought to be in life.

RUSSERT: Senator Biden?

BIDEN: Christ's warning of the Pharisees. There are many Pharisees, and it's part of what has bankrupted some people's view about religion. And I worry about the Pharisees.

  


Sitting by the Gulf tide gazing out on the waters, thoughts sailing across the horizon as they do, it occurred to me that the Democratic candidates that night missed a great opportunity to have chosen to quote what I think would have been the most appropriate verse of all for the situation (check Bob's comment on the previous post for another possible response). Jesus, the Christ (most people seem to think that's his last name and not a title: Jesus Christ, versus Jesus, Christ) admonished his listeners to

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.
[Matthew 22:21, King James Version]
- a very clear command to separate church and state.


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


P.S. And, by the way, the transcript isn't entirely complete. It seems that every site posting it has the same thing - probably copied from an original source. But I distinctly remember one of the two following Governor Richardson seconding him by first saying, "The sermon on the mount." It may have been Dodd, but I can't recall. It may have been Biden before he spouted about too many Pharisees, endearing himself to countless American Jews, no doubt.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

al-Tunisi Is the New al-Masri Was the New al-Zarqawi Was the New al-Douri

The U.S. military announced today that it has killed a “senior leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.” Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson “identified the man as Abu Usama al-Tunisi, a Tunisian described as a close associate and likely successor to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s Egyptian leader.”

[...]

But terrorism analyst Evan Kohlman issued a “global terror alert” last year stating that al-Tunisi had died in July 2006.

  Think Progress

We've been here before. Several times. As far as my post research goes, the first time we used the capture announcement tactic on someone who either didn't exist or was already in custody or dead, it was a guy named al-Douri. It's apparently a formula that keeps on working.


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


Friday, September 28, 2007

Boundless Idiocy

The Minneapolis airport (where Larry Craig met his match, so to speak) is revamping two of its restrooms (including the one where Craig met his match, so to speak), to the tune of $25,000 (it would have cost a million to do them all) by installing new stall walls that reach to within 2 or 3 inches of the floor.

Let's take a moment here to think about that....Even if their goal of deterring bathroom sex would be met, altering only two bathrooms would just change the location of the conduct. But, this goes well beyond that inanity.

Will this measure stop toe tapping? No. Will it stop toe touching? No. Will it make sex in the stalls less visible and therefore easier to conduct? Yes.

Sometimes you just gotta shake your head and wonder.


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


Deaf

Friday, 28 September 2007

"I got my hammer ringin', baby, but the nails ain't goin' down."
-- Bob Dylan


Hammerblows of truth keep falling on the Bush Regime's propaganda campaign for war against Iran, which has been built up out of allegations so specious and shoddy that they make the manifold deceits of the Attack Iraq carnival look like gospel truth. But far from doing any damage to the engine of death now rolling toward Persia, the hammers are not even being heard above the roar.

Of course, it is actually inaccurate to refer to the "Bush Regime's propaganda campaign." As we have noted here before, the Democratic-led Congress has already overwhelmingly swallowed the Bush case for war – the Senate even accepted the Regime's mendacious casus belli unanimously. And this week, the Democrats went even further in adopting aggression against Iran as their own cause, when a majority of them joined with the obedient goose-steppers of the GOP in support of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which effectively if not officially authorized military action against Iran by declaring the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a "foreign terrorist organization" and tying it to attacks on American soldiers in Iraq.

Continue reading Lost in the Roar at Empire Burlesque.


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


Lawyers for Detainees

Fourteen “high value” detainees who were transferred from CIA secret prisons to Guantanamo have been given forms to fill out if they want to request an attorney. I don’t know who’s advising them on the filling out of the forms, but…

The Washington Post, which first reported the distribution of the forms in Friday's editions, said U.S. officials had argued against allowing the 14 access to lawyers without special security precautions out of fear that elements of the CIA's secret detention program or its interrogation techniques could be revealed.

  Yahoo

No doubt.


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


2008

After the Democrats' Debate in Dartmouth, analyzers were talking about Barack Obama having had a poor performance and suggesting he'd had a cold and wasn't feeling well. After this heavily attended speech in New York, I'd be looking for the pod.

I can't find a transcript, but there was an audio clip on NPR this morning in which Obama said there are people who can go into Washington and handle things as they stand. "We'd tinker with things," he said. And then he added that certainly, "We couldn't be worse than George Bush."

Huh? Does that inspire you? They'll tinker with things as they stand, and heck, they can't be worse than George. So, what the hey, let's give the man a shot at it. As though there is no other option.

Being worse than George Bush is not saying much. And George Bush isn't running for office anyway.

And in the words of Jerry Brown back when (paraphrased): We don't need somebody to go to Washington and tinker with things. We need somebody to go in there with a crowbar.


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


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Step in the Right Direction

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

  TPM


Dartmouth Democrats Debate

I watched the "debate" (why do they call them debates when mostly they just answer questions and rarely debate anything?) tonight, and I'm only going to tell you one thing. Dennis Kucinich said we could have a president who was right on Iraq and right on the PATRIOT act, or we could have a president who's tall. I was with him until he also said he wants to lower the drinking age to 18 and the voting age to 16.

Of course, the old argument was there that if you're old enough to fight and die in the military, you're old enough to vote and drink, but I think that's bass ackwards. Neither the drinking age nor the voting age (although it already has been) should be lowered to match the military enlistment age of 18; the military enlistment age should be raised to at least 25. And there shouldn't even be a legal - and therefore illegal - drinking age. There should just be serious consequences for drunken activity that harms someone else.

As for voting - let's get a decent, fair, reasonable system before we start throwing more people at it. (That was easy, and gets me out of having to squeal about sixteen-year-old reasoning capacity.)


Update: I'll tell you one more thing, and the rest you can read at USA Today if you didn't watch. Tim Russert, the moderator, asked the last question of every candidate: What's your favorite Bible verse?

What in the name of the Constitution of the United States has that got to do with political issues and the presidency? At any rate, most of them didn't actually quote a verse, and Senator Biden is going to be in hot water with the Jews, because he said something to the effect that there are too many Pharisees. No matter what he meant, he's going to be really sorry about his choice of descriptors.


Worse than Abu Ghraib?

In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department's authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions.

[...]

"This is a nightmare," said a senior U.S. military official. "We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we're trying to have an impact for the long term."

[...]

"This is a big mess that I don't think anyone has their hands around yet," said another U.S. military official. "It's not necessarily a bad thing these guys are being held accountable. Iraqis hate them, the troops don't particularly care for them, and they tend to have a know-it-all attitude, which means they rarely listen to anyone -- even the folks that patrol the ground on a daily basis."

  WaPo

But, for their sake, Falluja was destroyed and a surge in anti-American sentiment spread throughout Iraq.

And Waxman is claiming that Rice is trying to impede the investigation. That wouldn't be like her, would it?


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


Craig Update

Although he said he would leave at the end of September if the court hadn't overturned his guilty plea (which he had time to think about after the fact and changed his mind), Senator Larry Craig has had time to think about his statement of intent to resign and has changed his mind about that, too.

Lucky for Senator Craig, he has no shame, and also, the wheels of justice grind exceeding slow, so the judge won't be getting around to ruling on whether or not Craig can withdraw his plea by September 30.


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


The Pot Talks About the Kettle

Josh Marshall has a post quoting a speech by General Ricardo Sanchez in which the quoter (Scott Horton) concludes:

For three months now, Sanchez has been making off-the-record statements. He eventually came to the conclusion, he says, that Republican politics had trumped the national security interests of the United States in the execution of plans in Iraq. The Bush Administration had not planned to win in Iraq, but simply to keep a war running so Bush could run around and play “war president.” That is as devastating a criticism as any general has made of a president since the days of Douglas MacArthur. Unlike MacArthur’s criticisms, however, it has the advantage of being accurate.

Josh comments:

I haven't seen much published reference to this speech but it seems we can add retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to the list of former Bush appointees and Generals serving under the president who turn out to be thoroughly disillusioned with the president's conduct of the war.

[...]

Horton's right. If anything he understates it how devastating a charge that is. Does anyone know more about what Sanchez has been telling people off the record?

Well, whatever he's saying, he's got a lot of nerve.

I remember General Sanchez - the guy in charge of and approving the torture methods used at Abu Ghraib, and then lying about it to Congress.


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


Choose Again

John Rizzo, Bush's nominee for CIA general counsel, a man who had no problem with defining unacceptable torture as being something severe enough to cause organ failure or death, has withdrawn his name. He says he knew he wouldn't be confirmed and didn't think it would serve the best interests of the CIA to drag out the process.

He's still the CIA's senior lawyer, and has been acting general counsel for about six years, so I wonder why he thinks there's any problem with dragging out the process at this point. Maybe there's something else he's concerned about coming out?


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


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The War on Drugs

Like the war on terror, it is permanent. Links found at Cursor on the subject lead to the following bits:

Setting aside the spicy "mercenaries in Iraq" story for a moment, the U.S. government is getting ready to compete a multi-billion dollar contract to combat narcoterrorism, i.e. the illegal drugs financing terrorism. Five companies (check out which ones) are going to bid on this mega-contract, Defense News reports:

  Wired

Yes, Blackwater is one.

A new GAO report concludes that the war on drugs is not working, but recommends 'more of the same.' [Cursor]

  Source: Grits for Breakfast

Fall has arrived, and with it the annual effort by law enforcement across the country to eradicate the outdoor marijuana crop. Nowhere is the effort more elaborate or impressive than California, where the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) has been heading out into the countryside to rip up pot crops since 1983. CAMP, an amalgam of 110 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, racks up big numbers every year, but there is little indication that the program has any impact whatsoever on the price or availability of marijuana in California.

  Stop the Drug War


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


"The Americans Are the New Baathists"

Commentary


White Supremacist Backlash in Jena

No sooner did tens of thousands of African-American demonstrators depart the racially tense town of Jena, La., last week after protesting perceived injustices than white supremacists flooded in behind them.

First a neo-Nazi Web site posted the names, addresses and phone numbers of some of the six black teenagers and their families at the center of the Jena 6 case and urged followers to find them and "drag them out of the house," prompting an investigation by the FBI.

Then the leader of a white supremacist group in Mississippi published interviews that he conducted with the mayor of Jena and the white teenager who was attacked and beaten, allegedly by the six black youths. In those interviews, the mayor, Murphy McMillin, praised efforts by pro-white groups to organize counterdemonstrations [...]

[...]

McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist.

  Chicago Tribune


$9.11    How Unfortunate for Rudy

The Giuliani campaign is being forced to distance itself from the decision of a supporter to throw a fundraising party where supporters of the Republican candidate for president have been asked to donate $9.11.

Abraham Sofaer, a State Department adviser under President Reagan, is holding the fundraiser at his Palo Alto, Calif. home on Wednesday, but he told the Associated Press that he was not involved in coming up with the “$9.11 for Rudy” theme.


Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said that it was “unfortunate.”

  The Caucus



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


Free Speech at the UN

About a dozen anti-war protesters were arrested during a peaceful demonstration of President Bush's speech before the U.N. General Assembly. They were among about 400 people opposing the Bush Administration's war in Iraq, and its incarceration in Guantanamo Bay of more than 300 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. Many in the crowd wore orange jumpsuit in solidarity with the Guantanamo detainees.

The arrested demonstrators were taken into custody by police after kneeling on the sidewalk in an act of civil disobedience near the United Nations. One of them, 58-year-old Bill Ofenloch of Manhattan, said they were trying to serve an "arrest warrant" on Bush for "high crimes against humanity."

  AP

I would like to tell you what is illegal about kneeling on a sidewalk as a protest, but I don't know any more details. Perhaps it's the proximity to the UN?

Nope, that couldn't be it.

Thousands of protesters jammed into Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations [...] to speak out against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was in New York to attend a meeting of the General Assembly.

Carrying signs that read “Stop Iran Now” and “Israel Is On The Map To Stay,” the older demonstrators set up on the benches that flank the long narrow plaza while the younger set roved about the park with groups of friends.

  Columbia Journalist

Members of the anti-war group Code Pink performed a bit of street theater where a person wearing a Bush mask was arrested.

"What do we say?" shouted Code Pink's Medea Benjamin. "Arrest the criminal!"

The crowd picked up the chant. Once the arrests were made, the rest of the group began marching downtown. The demonstrators, in orderly fashion, walked along the sidewalks since they lacked a permit for a street march.

  AP

I would also like to tell you what's illegal about wearing a Bush mask. I'm just not very helpful today.

Cuba‘s foreign minister walked out of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday in protest of President Bush‘s speech in which he said the "long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end" on the communist island.

  News One


Luckily, he's a foreign diplomat, or he might have been arrested, too.


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


Craig Update

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) told reporters that he will not attend his hearing tomorrow in Minnesota on seeking the withdrawal of his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.

"I've been advised not to," Craig said at the Capitol. "I have very competent lawyers."

  The Crypt

What are they afraid of?


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


The Media and Politics

Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president learned that the men’s magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland.

So Clinton’s aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.

Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands.

  Politico

And that is how you rarely get the truth from the media these days.


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


Cause for Celebration

American-style governing has taken hold in Iraq.

Saying makes it so. (Just ask Dick and George.)

Civil war has been averted in Iraq and Iranian intervention there has "ceased to exist," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday.

[...]

"I can say that the greatest victory, of which I am proud . . . is stopping the explosion of a sectarian war." That possibility, he said, "is now far away."

  WaPo

And, by the way, there is nothing so fine as sovereignty.

He said cabinet ministers who have left his government in protest will be replaced, and he expressed confidence that the Iraqi parliament will pass legislation that he, the Bush administration and Congress have demanded.


Who's Your Match?

Teri sent a link to a "candidate calculator" to let you see which 2008 candidate you most closely match on major issues. Click the picture below to check it out. (There are more questions than show below, and be sure to indicate importance of the issue to you.)


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


But remember....

No matter how healthy a man's morals may be when he enters the White House, he comes out again with a pock-marked soul. - Mark Twain.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ratcheting Upwards

Iran closed major border crossings with northeastern Iraq on Monday to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official the military accused of weapons smuggling, a Kurdish official said.

[...]

The move threatens the economy of Iraq's northern region — one of the country's few success stories — and also appears aimed at driving a wedge between Iraq and the Americans at a time of friction over a deadly shooting in Baghdad involving the security firm Blackwater USA.

[...]

U.S. officials said [Mahmudi] Farhadi was a member of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that smuggles weapons into Iraq. But Iraqi and Iranian leaders said he was in the country on official business and with the full knowledge of the government.

[...]

Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the autonomous Kurdish government, said the Iranian move "will have a bad effect on the economic situation of the Kurdish government and will hurt the civilians as well."

"We are paying the price of what the Americans have done by arresting the Iranian," he said.

[...]

A U.S. military spokesman, Rear Adm. Mark Fox, also said Sunday that Iran has smuggled advanced weapons into Iraq for use against American troops, including the Misagh 1, a portable surface-to-air missile that uses an infrared guidance system and could threaten U.S. aviation.

  Yahoo

Kind of like Blackwater, then, eh?

Last week, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, demanded the Iranian's release and warned in a letter to America's top commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker that Iran had threatened to close its border with Iraq's Kurdish region over the case — a move that would cause considerable damage to trade in the prosperous Kurdish region.

And a thumbed nose to President Talabani.

No charges against the Iranian have been filed yet.

Yeah, well, "the Iranian" (he has a name, folks) can get in line behind the Gitmo detainees.


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


Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Moment of Silence

Marcel Marceau
March 23, 1923 - September 23, 2007


Your Sunday Sermon

The Republican presidential candidates might have snubbed the Gay Debate, but some of them - with the major exception of the (media) top four: Giuliani, Romney, McCain, and Thompson* - attended a "Values Voters Debate" which opened with a revised version of "God Bless America".

Steve Bennen comments:

I'm trying to imagine the response if, say, Yearly Kos hosted a Democratic presidential candidate forum, which started with a rewritten version of "God Bless America" that disparaged the United States.

It's the kind of thing Fox News would jump all over -- and every Democratic candidate on hand would be asked whether they agreed with the song's lyrical condemnation of the country. Bill O'Reilly would tell us that "God Bless America" is fine the way it is, and it doesn't need to be rewritten by liberals to serve a radical political agenda.

And I want to add: the choir is virtually all black. If black voters think the Republican party is going to serve their interests, they are being led down the proverbial garden path.


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


*Ron Paul is actually doing very well in polls and in viewer response to debates, but the media don't seem to want to include him, so it's hard to know who really is favored by the public. Of course the public is fickle, so the favorite can change in a heartbeat.

And, oddly enough, the Values Voters had a straw poll on their debate (self-proclaimed "most important straw poll yet"), and even the four no-shows got votes. Go figger. Okay, Romney didn't get any. Mike Huckabee won by a large margin. Ron Paul second.


Compañeros

On Prairie Home Companion this morning, Garrison Keillor opened with an unusually pointed non sequitor. He announced that Fidel Castro is reportedly in very bad health, but that he is determined to outlive the Bush presidency. Then Keillor added, "As are many of us." And then rather hesitantly and ominously, he expanded: Mr. Bush could win re-election. You never know. Strange things have happened. Many of them in the past few weeks. Without further comment or discussion of the week's news, he then launched a normal show.


Happy Autumnal Equinox



Saturday, September 22, 2007

It Wasn't China - It Was Mattel

And I'm sure this story will get equal time.

Mattel ordered three high-profile recalls this summer involving more than 21 million Chinese-made toys, including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed.

[...]

On Friday, [Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel's executive vice president for worldwide operations,] acknowledged that [the] "vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel's design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China's manufacturers."

Lead-tainted toys accounted for only a small percentage of all toys recalled, he said.

[...]

In a statement issued by the company, Mattel said its lead-related recalls were "overly inclusive, including toys that may not have had lead in paint in excess of the U.S. standards.

  TPM

Meanwhile China has already been convicted in the court of public opinion because of the original recall press releases blaming them.

Like linking Saddam and al-Qaeda, the first loudly repeated story is the one that sticks. Some Mattel executive is getting a bonus for his handling of this situation.


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


Clueless

On Thursday in San Antonio, Fred Thompson didn't know anything about the situation in Jena. In Florida, he wasn't able to discuss the Terri Schiavo case because he couldn't "remember the details", and worse, he didn't know there was oil in the Everglades with an attendant controversy about drilling. What more?

But why should he think a president needs to have a clue?




Costs of Privatizing War

The US military has put Blackwater back on duty in Iraq for "limited" operations, while the Iraqi government's investigation into the incident for which it banned the organization from further activity determined that Blackwater men opened unprovoked fire on Iraqi civilians (and that they have been involved in six other similar incidents over the past seven months), and now it comes out that the US government is investigating the organization on charges that they illegally smuggled arms into Iraq which wound up in enemy hands.


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


Friday, September 21, 2007

Racial Justice in Jena?

The temperature is rising in Jena, Louisiana.

Background on the Jena Six case: The current racial tensions started in December last year when black high school students sat under a tree where usually only whites sat. Amazingly, a black student actually asked for permission from a school official to sit under the tree. Permission was granted, but three white students didn't appreciate it, and the next day three nooses were found hanging from the tree. Shortly after the original incident, at a school assembly, the DA told students that with a stroke of his pen, he could take their lives away. (There are various phrasings of what he said; I don't know the actual words. It's reported as "taking their lives away", "destroying their lives", "ending their lives", etc.)

In July, an all-white jury convicted the first of the six black teenagers involved and he faces up to 22 years in prison.

Tensions have been simmering, and a series of racially sparked incidents has followed the original.

Destroying the innocent tree hasn't soothed the situation. Surprise.

Schools and businesses shut down in the face of a huge celebrity-studded protest held yesterday demanding the release of the jailed teenager, which won't be happening.

And last night, two white teenagers were arrested for driving around town with nooses on their pickup truck (inciting to riot) and DUI (one said his family is Ku Klux Klan, and he in fact has a KKK tattoo on his chest). They were carrying brass knuckles and an allegedly unloaded rifle.

Of course there's much more to it than this very simplistic presentation. I've not been keeping you up on it, so you'll have to read through some of the links.


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


Imminent Dollar Plunge?

Paul Krugman keeps watching and waiting.

Lots of buzz suddenly about the possibility of a sharp fall in the dollar.

[...]

[A]ccording to the story, one of these days there will be a Wile E. Coyote moment for the dollar: the moment when the cartoon character, who has run off a cliff, looks down and realizes that he’s standing on thin air – and plunges. In this case, investors suddenly realize that Stein’s Law applies — “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop” – and they realize they need to get out of dollars, causing the currency to plunge. Maybe the dollar’s Wile E. Coyote moment has arrived – although, again, I’ve been wrong about this so far.

I have found that to be the case with lots of things, and maybe they're all related to the economy, but it does seem like we keep going on long after it seems we should have hit the wall.


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


Politics Break

Philadelphia artist uses worms to create abstract works

But do they get a percentage of sales?


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


Thursday, September 20, 2007

I'm Feeling a Little Peevish

Maybe I got too tired at work today, but tonight I'm feeling like I won't be able to look at Bush's face with his beady eyes set way too close together and his chimp upper lip, smug, arrogant, petulant for another whole year (and that's a minimum, assuming he doesn't get that "accident", an October surprise next year that allows him to call a national emergency and suspend what's left of the Constitution - it's not as hefty since he's been in office, so suspension won't be terribly difficult).

If he doesn't go, I will simply have to give up blogging, becau.....oh wait. I bet I can find out how to get my web browser to block images. Never mind. I can keep going.





from Stinkzone




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


A Human Solution

This is (just one reason) why humans should not be permitted to live on this planet.

The town of Jena, Louisiana, has been embroiled in a racial conflict since a group of black high school students sat under a shade tree on the school grounds that white students had apparently decided belonged to them. After the black students sat there, two nooses were hung from the tree's limbs, sparking fights which ended in one white student injured and six blacks on trial for attempted murder.

The situation is still contentious, so the new school board this year decided what was needed - a year after the incident occurred - was to cut down the tree.

Sure, destroy the tree that was only there gracing the environment, cleaning the air and providing shade. Fercrissakes.

Grrrrrrrr.


Again With the New Greenbacks

You know, it has not been that long since Lincoln got his big head in an oval on the five-dollar bill. Why didn't they put the fancy-schmancy colors on it then? That design was supposed to stop counterfitters. Apparently didn't last long. So how many years ahead of the counterfitters are we? Three, four?

"We wanted this redesigned bill to scream, 'I am a five. I am a five,"' Larry Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We wanted to eliminate any similarity or confusion on the part of the public between the $5 bill and the $100 bill."

  CNN Money

Are you shitting me? Blind people won't know no matter what it looks like. Otherwise, is there anybody out there who has trouble telling the difference between a fiver and a one-hundred dollar bill??!!?? I want to meet him it.

How much is it costing us each time they change the bills to something new and improved? It's bound to be a shitload.


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


P.S. Excuse me. I got carried away. On re-reading the article, I see that counterfitters were bleaching the fives and copying one-hundreds over top of the paper. The new fives will have the security thread in a different place than the one-hundred to prevent that.

Now, let me ask you...who was the designer in charge who didn't think of changing the location of the security thread for each different denomination in the first place? No wonder the counterfitters are catching up so fast.


Steve Clemens: Bush Whitewasher?

Despite holding out a military option, ratcheting up tensions with Iran about meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deploying carrier strike-force groups in the Persian Gulf, the president is not planning to bomb Iran. But there are several not-unrelated scenarios under which it might happen, if the neocon wing of the party, led by Vice President Cheney, succeeds in reasserting itself, or if there is some kind of "accidental," perhaps contrived, confrontation.

  Steve Clemons in Salon

In other words, brace yourself, Margaret.

The president supposedly wasn't "planning to bomb Iraq" either. And then, "Lucky me! I hit the trifecta."


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


DC Star Wars

Hillary Clinton seems to think the Webb amendment was defeated at the eleventh hour by something sinister.

"Vice President Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday. You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges," Hillary Clinton said just now at a $100-a-head fundraiser at Town Hall near New York's Times Square, referring to Cheney's efforts shore up Republican congressional support for the Iraq war.

"I’m not invited to their meetings and I don’t know what he says or does," she said, in an informal conversation on stage with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and retired General Wesley Clark. "But all the brave talk about bringing our troops home, and setting deadlines, and getting out by a certain date just dissipated."

  Politico



What Constitution?

CNN asked [Senator Jim] Webb about Senator John McCain's statement that the Constitution doesn't give Congress the right to manage troop rotations and that the Webb amendment "would create chaos." Webb replied, "Senator McCain -- who I've known for 30 years -- needs to read the Constitution. There's a provision in Article 1 Section 8 which clearly gives the Congress the authority to make rules with respect to the governance of ground and naval forces."

  Raw Story

Josh Marshall comments:

I want to zero in on Sen. McCain's (R-AZ) claim that Webb's amendment is not just wrong-headed but plainly unconstitutional. [...] The idea that the United States Congress cannot make laws governing the organization, regulation and laws governing the US military is as plainly ridiculous as it is shocking.

[...]

[P]eople spout off about a lot of crap on Capitol Hill. But McCain's claim is part of a increasingly common Republican claim that the president is a virtual dictator on all questions regarding the American military.


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


The George W. Bogus Adminisration

Republicans and the Bush administration used a 'bogus' terror threat that raised specific fears of an attack on the Capitol to scare lawmakers into adopting a dramatic temporary expansion of the government's spy powers last month, a former top intelligence committee Democrat said Wednesday.

  Raw Story

And you know what? They'll fall for it every time.


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


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wrap-Up

I want to post about some things, but I'm just not in the mood. So, quick wraps:

I thought NPR said Dan Rather was suing CBS for $17 million. Turns out it's $70 million. Over the Bush Air National Guard fiasco.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked for permission to lay a wreath at the WTC. Like that was every going to be granted. the U.S. ambassador said he wouldn't be allowed to use the site for a photo op. Only Bush and Giuliani are permitted to do that.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing the Pentagon on behalf of an atheist soldier in Iraq who says he was pressured to embrace Christianity and then retaliated against when he refused. MRFF plans to file a "galaxy" of lawsuits to force the U.S. military to respect the separation of church and state. (By the way, the founder of MRFF is an Air Force veteran and a former White House lawyer under Reagan.)

Speaking of soldiers....keep on keeping on, boys. You'll be getting no rest.

And, finally, I'm looking forward to Paul Krugman's new blog. He promises to focus on what I think is the major ill in our society: the enormous inequality of classes. We're determined to be a banana republic.

share of the richest 10 percent of the
American population in total income


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


Empty Baghdad

As 'Iraqis stream into Syria ahead of visa clampdown,' internal migration data obtained by the New York Times from the Iraqi Red Crescent, "indicate that in Baghdad alone there are now nearly 170,000 families, accounting for almost a million people, that have fled their homes."

  Cursor

There has been talk since the "Petraeus" report that there have been fewer incidents of violence in Baghdad since "the surge" began. I guess if you clear the place of people, you'll eventually have no incidents.


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


Blackwater

The story on the latest Blackwater incident in Iraq is still morphing, with the Iraqi government contradicting the Blackwater report.


What Goes Around, Comes Around

On the eve of the Iraqi conflict, it was Ms Rice who said bluntly that she did not understand the Vatican’s anti-war stance. She treated John Paul II’s envoy, Cardinal Pio Laghi, with a coolness that bordered on disrespect when he was sent to Washington on 2 March 2003 on a desperate mission to avert military intervention.

  Corriere Della Sera

That was back when she had the cocksureness of the whole neocon bunch that they ruled the world. Things have changed a bit since then - as things always do - something a wiser person might have realized was possible and made allowance for.

The US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice indicated to the Vatican [in August of this year] that she urgently needed to meet Benedict XVI. She was on her way back into the viper’s nest of the Middle East and it would have been no bad thing to meet her counterparts with the credentials of a papal audience. Ms Rice had hoped that the audience could be fixed for early August at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence, when Benedict XVI returned from Lorenzago in the Dolomites, but she was told the Pope was on holiday. She insisted but to no avail. Vatican diplomats were adamant and “Benedict XVI is on holiday” continued to be the official reply.


No Clearer Metaphor

If you haven't yet found a story that depicts exactly what is wrong with the U.S. - nay, human - approach to human relations or how to change the world, I point you to W3IAI's Hiding in the Easter Basket.


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


Avast Mateys!

Since 1995.


Original TLAP Site


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

They Pretend to Investigate

We pretend to believe them.

Previously I posted on the appointment of Scott Bloch to investigate Karl Rove for political misdeeds. Here's an excerpt of the post I called 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.

And here's an excerpt from Turdblossom Gets His Own Investigation:

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.

Well, surprise, surprise. Bloch has run out of money, and can't continue the investigation. Who would have imagined anything could have gone wrong?

You may remember Scott Bloch as Bush's associate director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives before his appointment to the OSC. He's the guy who scrubbed protections for gays against discrimination in the workplace. And, just to put old political jokes into perspective, Bloch is himself under investigation. (Cue Bush's White House Correspondents' Dinner Stooge video searching for WMD in his office.)


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


Monday, September 17, 2007

New AG

It looks like Bush has changed his mind about temporary acting AG, changing to a selection that is calculated to make Congress speedily confirm his choice for AG. Josh Marshall has all the dope.

My first reaction was that the spiteful juvenile in Bush chose an idealogue to be the acting AG in retaliation for having been forced to choose an AG more palatable to everyone. Double bonus if it forced them to push through the confirmation quickly.


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


More Troubles for Blackwater

The company that ushered in the Falluja massacres has been banned from doing business in Iraq after a gun battle they were involved in killed eight civilians.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry revoked their license to operate in that country, since the Iraqi courts don't have jurisdiction over US private contractors and can't bring anyone to trial.


Update


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Touching the Monkey*

America's biggest pair
Belong to Stephen Colbert


I just wanted to watch it again....

2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner

Part 1



Part 2



Part 3



Now that was a coup.



Always cracks me up. Seen at WTF


*There's a saying in Cuba (according to Andrei Codrescu) about how much one can get away with in criticizing Fidel: "You can rattle the chain, but you can't touch the monkey." Seems very appropriate for the Chimperor as well.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Alan Greenspan's Memoirs

In a withering critique of his fellow Republicans, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says in his memoir that the party to which he has belonged all his life deserved to lose power last year for forsaking its small-government principles.

[...]

"Rising income inequality could undo "the cultural ties that bind our society" and even lead to "large-scale violence." The remedy, he says, is not higher taxes on the rich but improved education, which can be helped by paying math teachers more.

By paying math teachers? Not others?

Butthead himself parroted that idea of better education. We'll help society's dregs by educating them. For what? I want to know.

PhD degrees now get you the chance to compete for the jobs that Masters candidates are qualified for. Outsourcing even white collar work is sweeping the country of jobs. Well, at least maybe better educated poor people will stand a better chance of getting a job in some other country, but I don't think that's going to do anything about whatever ties there might be left binding our society. My bet, at this stage, would have to be on the large-scale violence.

Mr. Greenspan, who calls himself a "lifelong libertarian Republican," writes that he advised the White House to veto some bills to curb "out-of-control" spending while the Republicans controlled Congress. He says President Bush's failure to do so "was a major mistake." Republicans in Congress, he writes, "swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose."

[...]

"Little value was placed on rigorous economic policy debate or the weighing of long-term consequences," he writes.

  Wall Street Journal

When you're paving the way to Armageddon, long-term consequences are irrelevant.

Old Greenie's a little cranky in his old age, eh?


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


Anti-War Protests in DC

The first major protest against the Iraq War in Washington since January kicked off today with speeches near the White House, to be followed by a "die-in" at the U.S. Capitol featuring the playing of taps and a mock 21-gun salute.

Protesters and counter-protesters started to gather by 8:30 a.m. for the event, which is expected to be followed by a week of civil disobedience in the Washington area intended to shift the anti-war movement to a more confrontational phase.

[...]

The demonstrators were immediately confronted by several hundred counter-protesters, who came to the Mall to demand that politicians see the war through to victory. At a large stage on the Mall at 7th Street, speakers said they did not want to abandon the Iraqi people, as they said America had done in ending the Vietnam war, and that they wanted soldiers to be shown respect when they returned from Iraq.

  WaPo

There are a lot of directions to go with that line about the pro-war people not wanting to abandon the Iraqi people, but I'm not going in any of them.

Anti war protesters who approached the fringes of the counterdemonstration on the Mall were quickly chased off. One man in a tie dye t-shirt was surrounded by several screaming counterdemonstrators who called him a traitor.

Okay, well maybe I'll say this: they weren't meaning he was a traitor against the Iraqi people, I'm quite sure.

"[The counter-protest] will be a lot of bull horns, a lot of 'singing God Bless America', " said Betty Kilbride, 48, of Arlington, a writer who described herself as supporting the troops. Deborah King-Lile, 55, of St. Augustine, Fla. said the Gathering of Eagles prided themselves on not being arrested at protests. "We just want a chance to show America we don't agree with the vocal minority."

Minority?


More on Fredo's Legacy

Old Gonzo threw some good parties.
An internal Justice audit, released Friday, showed the department spent nearly $7 million to plan, host or send employees to 10 conferences over the last two years. This included paying $4 per meatball at one lavish dinner and spreading an average of $25 worth of snacks around to each participant at a movie-themed party.

There was plenty, too, for those needing to satisfy a sweet tooth.

More than $13,000 was spent on cookies and brownies for 1,542 people who attended a four-day "Weed and Seed" conference in August 2005, according to the audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. And a "networking" session replete with butterfly shrimp, coconut lobster skewers and Swedish meatballs at a Community Oriented Policing Services conference in July 2006 cost more than $60,000.

  TPM

Weed and Seed, huh? Well, that's why those brownies were so expensive.

The most expensive conference on the list was a $1.4 million meeting in Denver in May 2006, to discuss Project Safe Neighborhood. The program, which cracks down on guns, gangs and drugs, was a top priority for resigning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Planners spent $143,469 on microphones, video screens and other technical equipment; $108,866 on food and drinks; and $638,371 on travel costs to send employees to the conference, the audit showed.

If they only had used funds from their black ops budget they wouldn't have gotten caught. And what better way to spend drug money?


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


The CIA Banned Water-boarding

The controversial interrogation technique known as water-boarding, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex, has been banned by CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, current and former CIA officials tell ABCNews.com.

The officials say Hayden made the decision at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes, and received approval from the White House to remove water-boarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.

The officials say the decision was made sometime last year but has never been publicly disclosed.

  ABC

Hmmmmmm....I wonder why that would be.

Does each separate intelligence agency get to pick and choose from the list?

What a wonderful world in which there are lists of approved torture techniques.


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


Immigration, Levitation, and Homosexuality

Oh, come on. Use your imagination. I'm just trying to clean up all these draft posts.

I have never gotten much further on immigration issues than, why in the world is it legal or illegal to live anywhere? Why are people treated as government property? By birth, I am a Missourian - a somewhat arbitrary boundary thing, as all man-made boundaries tend to be. But, I've moved enough times to also have been a Californian, a Washingtonian, and now, a Texan (although they say here on Galveston Island that we are south of Texas, and further, if you are not born on the island, you are not to claim to be from Galveston - something that doesn't bother me, because I'm pretty sure this isn't even my home planet).

I was never illegal in any of those areas. Why should I be illegal if I move somewhere further away? I just think the whole idea is bizarre. Like having a license to be married. What's with that?

Anyway, The KC Blue Blog is calling for Missouri's governor to fire his chief of staff, Ed Martin, for this comment:

"I'll tell you what's available to every developer in order to figure out who's illegal. When there's a bunch of Mexicans out there, there's probably some of them who are not legal."

Racial profiling taken to its logical conclusion, I suppose.

And my choice for inane positions today comes from Rudy Giuliani.

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said illegal immigration is not a crime.

[...]

"It's not a crime," Giuliani said Friday. "I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime."

[...]

"I was U.S. attorney in the Southern district of New York," he said. "So believe me, I know this. In fact, when you throw an immigrant out of the country, it's not a criminal proceeding. It's a civil proceeding."

[...]

Illegal immigration shouldn't be a crime, either, Giuliani said: "No, it shouldn't be because the government wouldn't be able to prosecute it. We couldn't prosecute 12 million people.

[...]

He added: "My solution is close the border to illegal immigration."

  AP News

Close the border to illegal immigration? How do we do that, Rudy? Let me guess. Rudy has stock in fencing material.

And if it's not a crime, why is it called "illegal"? If it's true that it's not a crime, then maybe we need to start talking about this issue in different terms. Telling everybody that Mexican immigrants are illegal when it's not a crime for them to be here is hazing up the issue.

Oh, wait. Let's let Glenn Beck clear up that point.

[It's] not a crime. I know that's very hard for people to understand, but it's not a federal crime.

GLENN: It's a misdemeanor but if you've been nailed, it is a crime. If you've been nailed, ship back and come back, it is a crime.

  

"It's a misdemeanor, but if you've been nailed, it is a crime." Ahem. I think a misdemeanor is a crime to begin with.

Anyway, levitation and invisibility aren't just for Harry Potter.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing [the] pheneomenon known as the Casimir force so that it repels instead of attracts.

Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.

[...]

Prof Leonhardt leads one of four teams - three of them in Britain - to have put forward a theory in a peer-reviewed journal to achieve invisibility by making light waves flow around an object - just as a river flows undisturbed around a smooth rock.

  UK Telegraph

And speaking of marriage...

With liberty and justice....


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


Investigation into Bush v. AlJazeera

Thanks to Sara for her comment to the previous post:

The American Committee to Free Sami Al-Haj has just launched an online petiton to the U.S. Congress demanding his release and an investigation into the Bush Administration's campaign against Al Jazeera.

http://www.petitiononline.com/freesami/petition.html


Friday, September 14, 2007

Guantanamo

From Sami al-Haj's attorney:
Sami al-Haj, the Al Jazeera cameraman held in Guantánamo, has been on a hungerstrike for more than 230 days, more than three times as long as the IRA strikers in 1980. Sami was seized when on assignment to Afghanistan, apparently because the US thought he had filmed Al Jazeera’s famous Bin Laden interview. As has so often been the case of late, the US was wrong (though name me a journalist who would turn down a Bin Laden scoop).

[...]

Sami began his strike when his patience finally ran out on 7 January of this year, the fifth anniversary of his incarceration without trial.

[...]

Now Sami is being force-fed with a 110cm tube shoved down his nose. The military is doing it in a way that is calculated to be painful – or, to borrow General Craddock’s offensive euphemism, to make it “inconvenient” for Sami and others to continue their peaceful protest. Instead of leaving the tube in – which would be bad enough – they insert it and pull it out again with each feeding. I tried experimenting with this on myself one time and it is excruciating.

[...]

Sami has already told me what I have to say to his seven-year-old son, Mohammed, if he does not make it out of his prison cell alive.

[...]

Doctors from the US, UK and Middle East all agree that there are urgent concerns about Sami’s health, and that he needs independent medical intervention. He won’t get it, no matter what I do.

CagePrisoners


Update: From the comments section:

The American Committee to Free Sami Al-Haj has just launched an online petiton to the U.S. Congress demanding his release and an investigation into the Bush Administration's campaign against Al Jazeera.

http://www.petitiononline.com/freesami/petition.html


In Praise of Petraeus

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say.

  IPS News

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

  UK Independent

Of course, it's all hearsay.


Free to Make Ridiculous Money

Alas, poor Gonzo, we knew him too well.
On his final day, Mr. Gonzales told a crowd at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington that, since his AG tenure commenced 30 months ago, "I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible."

That has got to be the best straight line ever offered up for a comedy duo in politics. You wanna be the one to add the punch?

Last month, when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced he would resign effective Friday, The New York Times editorialized that the President Bush acolyte "has finally done something important to advance the cause of justice. He has resigned."

And that's the lead paragraph in the article which has a title that captured my fancy (which is why I chose Wired for my Gonzo retires post source): Amen: Mr. Gonzales Departs; He was 52


Coalition of the Willy-Nilly

George Bush said in his speech that there are 36 nations with boots on the ground in Iraq.

One example from the president's list of 36 is Iceland which has sent a single public information officer to serve in the NATO mission in Baghdad. More robustly, Italy has 8 officers on the NTM-I mission in Baghdad, Portugal is considering sending "up to 10."

  TPM

If you take a look at the list we were provided [by the White House], by a National Security Council official, the first heading is "Countries with troops on ground in Iraq." Only 26 countries appear in that category. The remaining 10 countries are assigned to either United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq or to NATO Training NTM-I.

So by the President's own accounting, the math is wrong. As Spencer Ackerman points out, there are other problems with the numbers. Canada is listed, for example, among the 36, but it pulled out its one and only person in Iraq months ago.

  TPM

Albania [...] has just 120 soldiers there and Bulgaria has 150 non-combat troops in Iraq.

  Think Progress

New Zealand does contribute its own soldier -- that's soldier, singular -- to UNAMI.

  TPM Muckraker

Sigh.


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


Iraqi Refugee

Yesterday I heard the tail end of a story on NPR about Iraqi refugees in Syria. Not insurgents. Iraqi civilians trying to get out of harm's way.

Since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, a young Iraqi woman has been blogging her experience at Baghdad Burning. As the years have gone by, and the situation has grown more and more desparate in Baghdad, her family has been agonizing over whether to stay or get out. They have finally made the momentous and painful decision, leaving their house in the care of a relative and taking a few possessions with them to Syria.

Read the post she created about the leaving. One thing she talks about is the choice of escaping to Jordan or Syria. She says that Jordan treats the refugees badly, but what I'm thinking about her family and other Iraqi refugees is that the choice of Syria might just be keeping a few steps ahead of the carnage. How soon before they have to find another place to go (or wish they'd gone to Jordan.) After all, the neocons always considered Iraq simply the first step on the road to Syria.


Zeno, Kid's Companion


You knew it was coming. And, hey, at an eventual target price of $200-$300, it's cheaper than another kid.

"It's a representation of robotics as a character animation medium, one that is intelligent," [creator David] Hanson beams. "It sees you and recognizes your face. It learns your name and can build a relationship with you."

  Yahoo

And, taken in context with the recent NY Times article about future computer programmers creating virtual ancestors, I think you can begin to see my point: some of you may not be real. And again, this could explain Washington.

And this could keep those GOP pedophiles out of trouble with the law, too, couldn't it? At least until we get to I Robot.


How's That Surge Going?

You know there was a speech last night, and the reason that I haven't been posting anything more about this whole hoopla is that there have been (nor will be) any surprises. Exactly what you think is happening, is happening - things are going from bad to worse in Iraq and the chickenhawks here are telling you everything they are doing is successful and they just need some more time and money.

But you can read the details of all the testimony and speeches at TPM (although I don't see anything about John Edwards' response, which turns out to have been a two-minute ad : "no timeline, no funding, no excuses" - transcript here) or, as outlined at Whatever It Is, I'm Against It, with wit and humour, which is the only way to get through this with your sanity in tact.


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


Thursday, September 13, 2007

John Edwards After Bush Tonight

Tonight, after President Bush makes yet another argument for continuing the war in Iraq, John Edwards will speak directly to the American people in a nationwide address on MSNBC.

Our campaign has bought airtime on MSNBC immediately following the President's address at 9 p.m., and John Edwards will challenge the President's remarks with a strong call to the nation to end the war now.

[...]

Its John's acid test. I hope he passes it. He has to speak directly to the most involved, he has to remind them of their duty to obey only lawful orders, and remind officers that their oath is to the Constitution, not any passing man, and that they need not wait until January 20th, 2009, for a movement order. Each and every one is free to chose to serve their country in the stockade or the brig, or to continue to serve George Bush and his delusions.

  Wampum

Amen. And that is how you support our troops.

Of course, that's not what John Edwards will do.


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


Meanwhile in Anbar

You remember Anbar - where everything is going so well, it's the model for all of Iraq; the most recent place in Iraq to which Bush paid a surprise visit - where he said he could see such great progress, even though he never left the US base; the place that inspired him to tell the Australians that we're "kickin' ass"?

The most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday by a bomb planted near his home in Anbar province, 10 days after he met with President Bush, police and tribal leaders said.

  TPM

At least we know Bush's kiss of death mojo is still working.


Prurient Interests

Does Southwest Airlines have a dress code for passengers? Recall that recently a woman was made to keep a blanket over her legs in order to stay on the flight. She's not alone. In another incident, a woman was made to wrap a blanket around her shoulders in order to fly wearing a halter-top dress.

Southwest -- which dressed its stewardesses in hot pants and called itself "the love airline" back in the 1970s -- relies on employees to decide whether a passenger's attire may offend other customers.

  CNN

And this ain't the seventies.

But what kind of policy is that? Allowing the employees to decide what the passengers can wear? Very bizarre. If it's what might offend the other passengers, then I'd suggest anyone caught in this predicament in the future demand to take a poll.

"We don't have a dress code. We rely on our employees to use common sense, good judgment and good taste," [Southwest spokesman Chris] Mainz said. "It's so rare for us to have to address a customer's clothing issue."

Apparently not. You've got some fashion nazis working your airlines, pal.

But really, this is the trend for the U.S. Our "war on terror" and the religious right's reach into politics is giving us a country of petty tyrants unleashed.


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