Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can I Get a Witness!

We’re facing, [Bush] said, an “ideological struggle of people who use asymmetrical warfare.” It’s not a religious conflict, he insisted. “And I’ll tell you why: because one of the tactics, and the main tactic of those enemies of freedom, is to murder the innocent to achieve their objectives. Religious people do not murder the innocent.” Religious people do not murder the innocent. I’m telling you, the principle on which this country is run is government of the people who slept through history class, by the people who slept through history class, and for the people who slept through history class.



Check out that W3IAI blogpost. The first picture in the post cracked me up. Somebody poured a bucket of water on him? He's melllllllllting.

Update: Dependable Renegade has the same picture set into an amusing series.

What Recession?

Thank goodness somebody is doing well. Shell Oil company is reporting a record-breaking $27.6 billion profit.

The Worthless Commission Had a Ringer

Would you believe it?

Max Holland, a D.C. area blogger and author got hold of an advance copy of The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation

A lot of what has been "censored," it turns out, revolves around the commission's executive director Philip Zelikow. According to Holland, Shenon reports that Zelikow 1) hid the depth and breadth of his relationship to key members in the administration, 2) had a number of private conversations with Karl Rove (funny how he keeps popping up) while he was on the panel, and 3) succeeded in softening the final report's judgment on the Bush Administration's responsibility.

  TPM Muckraker

What a surprise.

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

Dear Lord

Raw Story headliners:

Catholic League president wants to take on Bill Maher in a fight because Maher says he could more easily believe in UFOs than in Jesus' divinity; thinks he "could take him," and complains that "guys like Maher want a brawl."

One-third of the 290 Methodist minister delegates to the United Methodist South Central Jurisdiction oppose building a Bush library on the campus of Southern Methodist University because it will promote his policies that conflict with church teachings.

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

We're All Just Too Stressed Out

Last fall, the American Psychological Association released a major study that told us what we already knew—21st-century America is the most stressed-out place on Earth. A third of American adults are living with "extreme stress," and nearly half believe that their stress levels have increased in the past five years.

  Men’s Vogue

9/11 changed everything.

But, we can all calm down now. For the price of another gadget – about $300. Remember biofeedback? It used to be for hippies.

The little biofeedback machine, which is about the size of a BlackBerry, has an infrared fingertip sensor that monitors the way you breathe by translating pulse beats into waves that you can watch roll across the StressEraser's LCD.

I didn’t get into the extra fine print, but it looks suspiciously like a gizmo that tells you to breathe.

Hey, just in time for your tax rebate. (This week’s Newsweek has a little helpful article on what to do to “survive” our current economic woes advising you to pay down any loans or save that rebate. I dare say the government will not be too happy with that, since the purpose of the rebate is to have people spend some money, but anybody with any basic instinct and concern about a recession will already understand that socking away any give-back might be a good choice. )

Did you know there was such a publication as Men’s Vogue? Me neither.

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

Support Our Troops

Platoon of new recruits, January 2008

As many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, a jump of more than 20 percent over the year before, officials said Thursday.


Which was already higher than any other year in any war.

Thirty-four percent were suicides by soldiers serving in Iraq, up from 27% the year before.

The report also showed an increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries — some 2,100 in 2007 compared to less than 1,500 the previous year and less than 500 in 2002.


The total of 121 suicides last year, if all are confirmed, would be double the 52 reported in 2001, before the Sept. 11 attacks prompted the Bush administration to launch its counter-terror war.

It seems the Army only started keeping track of suicides in 1980. The lowest count (nine out of every 100,000 soliders) was in 2001. But then September 11 changed everything, eh George?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


It was a minor part of a forgettable speech, but President Bush touched on his second-favorite fossil fuel during Monday’s State of the Union Address: coal. “Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions,” he said to applause.

How ironic then that the day after Bush’s soft-focus call to action, his Department of Energy pulled out of its signature “clean coal” project.


Environmentalists suspected that FutureGen was little more than an expensive greenwashing tactic to delay real action to curb carbon emissions from coal. They’ve been proved partially right.


Meanwhile, coal is cooking the planet. Hands-down, the black rock is the most carbon-intensive fuel for generating electricity available. Globally, coal power pumps almost 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. More important, if all the plants on the drawing board are built they will, by 2030, emit more carbon than all the coal burned since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, according to Scientific American. That scenario will doom any effort to halt runaway climate change.

  Texas Observer

What do those scientists know anyway?

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


Congress just can't seem to get a handle on the FISA legislation, so they've extended their time to debate it an extra 15 days.

Senator Russ Feingold will explain it to us.

Another Interest Rate Cut

Stocks Jump Following Interest Rate Cut

Oil Prices Rise on Hopes of Fed Rate Cut

Gitmo Lawyers Endorse Obama

More than 80 attorneys who have been offering free-of-charge legal services to Guantánamo detainees issued a statement Monday supporting Democrat Barack Obama's presidential bid.

  Miami Herald

That’s an endorsement that could possibly do some damage. To Obama.

On second thought, probably not. Anybody who'd be against providing attorneys to Gitmo prisoners wouldn't be likely to be voting for Obama in the first place.

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

Signing Statement

This is just so insane. "Signing statements" permit Bush to sign laws and yet ignore portions of them. What was wrong with the veto system? Well, I suppose you had to keep fighting proposal after proposal. This way, you just put them through and ignore the parts you don't like. There is something fundamentally wrong with this, and I don't know why it is permitted.

In the latest, Bush will be ignoring a ban on permanent military bases in Iraq, control over Iraq's oil money, a commission to probe contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, expansion of protections for whistleblowers working for government contractors, and a requirement that U.S. intelligence agencies promptly respond to congressional requests for documents. So what part of the bill is he okay with? Why, the money for the military industry, of course.

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

Bush Is Charging Congress for Copies of His Budget

In a move it says is aimed at saving money and trees, the Bush administration plans to charge lawmakers $200 for copies of this year's federal budget.

Democrats and Republicans alike groaned about the decision, telling The Hill that the extra expenses will not be easy to find in already strained budgets.

  Raw Story

Well, I don’t know how that saves money – it redistributes it – so I guess he’s talking about saving money for his department. And it sure doesn’t save trees, unless the reports are made to order and nobody orders.

Surely it’s a computerized document that can be made available on the network. They could print it out for a lot less than $200, couldn’t they?

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

Oh, If Only Brattleboro Had Warm Ocean Breezes

A town petition making President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney subject to arrest for crimes against the Constitution has triggered a barrage of criticism from people who say residents are "wackjobs" and "nuts."

In e-mail messages, voicemail messages and telephone calls, outraged people are calling the measure the equivalent of treason and vowing never to visit Vermont.

  Raw Story

Oh, and that's not nuts.

"Be American, not a sniffeling liberal town that sleeps under the shield of safety provided to you by your President," said [one] e-mail. "Vacation to VT CANCELLED!"

I’m sure the state of Vermont will miss you. “Sniffeling.” Well, it is cold in Vermont in winter.

The petition — with more than 436 signatures, or at least the 5 percent of voters necessary to be considered — was submitted Thursday and the town Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put it on the ballot. It goes to a town-wide vote March 4.

It reads: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?"

Is there a “Hell yeah” choice on the ballot?

The petition prompted Brent Caflisch to go to his computer in Rosemount, Minn. "Maybe the terrorists will do us all a favor and attack your town next, our country would be much safer with several thousand dead wackjobs in Vermont," he wrote.

It went on to say terrorists could kidnap the three Select Board members who voted in favor, "cut their heads off, video tape it and put it on the internet.

Perfectly sane fellow there.

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

Our Iraqi Ambassador's New Digs

Well, Baghdad may be a hell-hole, and Iraqis may have to do without electricity (and how’s that water supply system?), but the palatial U.S. embassy is about to be christened. At least we’ve been constructing something.

For two years, stories about the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad have talked about its looming size—a 104-acre expanse—and extreme isolation. More recently, though, the stories have turned to sensational reports of human trafficking, slave labor conditions and a dangerously unsafe structure.

The allegations have been strong enough to put the entire project in doubt. Yet the State Department has plowed ahead and is finally saying that the embassy will soon be completed—far away from the glare of continuing Justice Department and congressional investigations.

  Washington Independent

Torture: That's So Ancient History

The National Journal caught an interesting slip from John Negroponte, former director of national intelligence , who uttered The-Torture-Technique-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named”: waterboarding. While Attorney General Mukasey continues to say that he is still thinking about waterboarding months after his seemingly false testimony before Congress, Negroponte admitted in an interview that indeed it was used — but encourages people not to look back at such small things as a torture program.

  Jonathan Turley

Negroponte says we’re okay because we haven’t used waterboarding “in years.” And we believe him, a sterling character of conscience like John Negroponte. So how did the waterboarding subject come up and make such a big and continuing splash if it's so old hat?

Nevertheless, Negroponte’s comments may make it more difficult for Mukasey. One approach to continue to avoid acknowledging that President Bush ordered the commission of a crime was for Mukasey to pretend that he was not sure if our torture program was “true” waterboarding. That is an increasingly difficult task with Negroponte and one of the chief interrogators admitting that it was waterboarding.


Fortunately for the White House, with leading Democrats […] continuing to scuttle any serious investigation into torture behind the scenes, we will continue the “forwarding looking” approach that Negroponte advocates.

Tournament Results

Yes, it is. Just like a tournament. And why not? We treat our politics like a sport. Team Blue! Team Red! But! Before you get the showdown, you've got to have the elimination tournament.

The press has a strange role here. They obviously pick favorites no matter what the voting populace actually indicates, and so it makes for a rather large disconnect to watch and read the news. At any rate, McCain and Clinton took Florida, and as you probably already know, Mr. 9/11 and John Edwards will be dropping out. Funny that Mr. 9/11 was the darling of the press not too long ago, and John McCain was a big loser.

So, okay, John McCain is still a big loser, but he's doing very well in the tournament. It wasn't that long ago that he was way down and his campaign was broke, which makes me wonder why anyone would drop out of the race after seeing just how low a contestant can go and make a major come-back.

It appears that the press is loathe to give Hillary her dues on winning Florida by a very tidy margin. They get to downplay it because Florida was stripped of delegates. Remember now, it's a game. No matter if the majority of the people vote for you, you've got to have those delegates. Or, in the case of the presidential election, the Supreme Court. But, since Bill's feet of clay trod all over Hillary's campaign and the Kennedys crowned Obama heir to Camelot, I think the press has found their prince. McCain will have his work cut out for him.

Somebody tell Ron Paul he's not here.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We Won't Have George to Kick Around Any More

Juan Cole wants to take issue with George before he leaves.

As usual, most of what [Bush] said in the State of the Union address was transparent lies. He praised private groups for doing charity work in Louisiana because he hasn't followed through on his own promises after Katrina. He did that phony thing of reporting the average tax "increase" if his "tax cuts" were allowed to expire. If I'm in the room with someone who made a billion dollars last year and Bush doesn't cut my taxes at all but he cuts those of the billionaire such that he saves 5% of his income, then the two of us in the room have an average tax cut of $25 million apiece. But in the real world, I get bupkus and the billionaire gets $50 million. That shell game sums up the Republican "tax cut" scam they keep running on the American middle class, which always falls for it.

  Informed Comment

I agree wholeheartedly with Juan; however, I believe it’s Congress that should be between Bush and the fall guys, isn’t it? Read Juan’s “last arguments” with George.

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

Blackwater Convictions

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration's favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The "criminals" in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad's Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater's 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity -- and apparent immunity -- in their names and those of every American.


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

Next Up...Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Islamic militants known as the Pakistani Taliban have extended their reach across all seven of Pakistan's frontier tribal regions and have infiltrated Peshawar, the provincial capital, heightening U.S. concerns that an insurrection may be broadening in the nuclear-armed nation.


Well, that should comfort you.

Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, who is the government’s prime suspect in the killing of Benazir Bhutto, says that the Pak army is illegally invading tribal areas and treating the people unjustly, so the Taliban had to organize. He also says that it’s not the Taliban who have used nukes, and people would be better advised to worry about nukes in the hands of people who have proven their willingness to use them. Or words to that effect.

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

Suharto Goes to His Reward

The killer of up to a million fellow citizens and brutal dictator of Indonesia has passed away in luxury and comfort.

”President Suharto led Indonesia for over 30 years, a period during which Indonesia achieved remarkable economic and social development," [U.S.] ambassador Cameron Hume said in [a] release.


"Though there may be some controversy over his legacy, President Suharto was a historic figure who left a lasting imprint on Indonesia and the region of Southeast Asia," the statement read.


Indeed he did leave a lasting imprint. "Some controversy."

Democracy Now! looks at the 30-year reign of terror and U.S. support for Suharto. Left I comments on the press whitewash.

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

Not So Happy in Mosul

In recent weeks, much of Iraq - especially Baghdad - is quieter, safer. Insurgents have cut and run.

Not in Mosul. Five-thousand U.S. troops sweep a scared city of almost 2 million scared people. And five U.S. troops were killed in the area within recent days.

Cptn. Hunter Bowers's Lightning Troop patrols the city's West Side. Its worst side.


Fighting could last for months.

  CBS News

Fighting could last for months, but since we are not getting out, it will last for years.

When are they going to stop repeating the government B.S. that Baghdad (and other parts of Iraq) are quieter and safer? On January 10 I posted the report that we just bombed the crap out of certain areas of Baghdad. “Recent weeks” must mean the past 18 days since that particular cleansing. There’ll be another. And another. And another. And it will continue as long as we are there.

"This city [Mosul] is just so unpredictable now," Strassmann said.

"Yes, sir," Bowers said. "It's very unpredictable. One area can be fine one day. And the next it can be the worst area you've ever been in."

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.

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

Not Going Back to the Ranch??

In a meeting with mayors on Wednesday, President Bush confirmed what's been an open secret: He'll move to Dallas when his term is over a year from now.


What!? You mean, he's not going to keep pretending to be a cowboy out on Rancho Fabricata? Who will clear the brush? Who will drive the pickup around?

Oh, okay. McClatchy is jumping the gun in their headline ("Bush says he and Laura will move to Dallas when term ends") and that lead paragraph. Read a little further:

Arlington, Texas, Mayor Robert Cluck, who also attended the meeting, said that when Bush sat down to talk to the mayors about free-trade deals and the economy, he said, "I want to make sure I do a good job today because my mayor's in the room." Cluck said he believes that Bush also said, "I'm moving to Dalls."


The White House has refused to confirm any of the speculation.

"The president and Mrs. Bush have made no announcement about their post-White House plans," said White House deputy press secretary Gordon Johndroe, "except that they'll be spending a lot of time in Crawford," where the president's ranch is located.

"Spending a lot of time" doesn't sound like "living in" though, does it?

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

Just What You Always Suspected

Middle age is depressing.

[R]esearchers analyzed data on depression, anxiety levels and general mental health and well-being taken from some 2 million people in 80 countries.


The British and U.S. researchers found that happiness for people ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe follows a U-shaped curve where life begins cheerful before turning tough during middle age and then returning to the joys of youth in the golden years.


If one gets through the tough part. And by the way, the other name for joys of youth in the golden years is "senility".

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

Matt Blunt Redux

A friend from Missouri offers an addendum to my post on Matt Blunt:

From what I read in the Tribune he mentioned that “his work was done” and he’d “accomplished his goals”. I do think that the perks of being a governor are probably small potatoes compared to what you can reap from being a Congressman. He certainly showed that he wasn’t afraid to balance a budget on the backs of the poor and handicapped. And he showed that he wasn’t afraid to blatantly show favoritism. When one of his staff gently pointed out that destroying e-mail was possibly violating the sunshine law he smeared and fired the guy into oblivion. All-in-all he shows great promise in continuing either Roy’s or Bond’s legacy. It’s all in the timing.



How anyone could sit through it is beyond me, but here's our hero at W3AIA synopsizing. Enjoy yourself.

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

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's Justice Note

In a positively mind-blowing decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided to allow 20 people who flunked the bar to become lawyers rather than inform one individual that he had been incorrectly told that he had passed.

  Jonathan Turley

Thank goodness South Carolinians have God taking care of them.

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

Kennedys for Obama

I guess Bill pissed off Ted. Caroline, Pat and Ted Kennedy are endorsing Barack Obama.

I suppose whatever gloves the Clintons still had on will be off now.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mardi Gras, Galveston

Well, Mardi Gras has officially begun down here in Galveston. I've managed to sit here at the computer through two parades. Maybe I'll drag myself out for the evening one. If you aren't in the neighborhood, you can get a little glimpse of the shindig in this video.

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

Still the Same Old Babs

Mrs. Bush, on President Bush 41: "He does a lot of things, although he just had a back operation and he's recuperating. I used to always say I wanted more quality time with him - not any more."


I often marvel that they still let Babs go out in public.

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

Matt Blunt "Retires"

Missouri's 37-year-old single-term governor, after working to fund a new campaign, has suddenly decided he needs to spend more time with his family. Yeah. Right.

The only thing I've seen (admittedly I have not been looking) that might remotely be a clue is the recent Sibel Edmonds publication of photographs presumably of people involved in covertly (and illegally) trading nuclear secrets. The governor's father, Congressman Roy Blunt, is on the list (State Secrets Privilege Gallery - second picture, third row; Brad Blog lists him as Roy Blount).

Whatever it is, Matt's got more reason than his family to make a hasty 180.

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

Update: A little digging:

Four months after pleading guilty to two federal immigration fraud counts, former state representative Nathan Cooper will learn today whether he will spend time in prison.


Former state Rep. Nathan Cooper was sentenced Monday to 15 months in a federal prison by a U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton. From her St. Louis courtroom, Hamilton also ordered Cooper to pay a $6,000 fine and go on supervised release for two years following his prison term.



"First they started trading tax credits for campaign contributions, then they sold fee offices to political allies, and now we learn that Rep. Nathan Cooper — one of Matt Blunt’s top lieutenant in the legislature — has been handing out visas to illegal immigrants for personal gain," said Jack Cardetti, Missouri Democratic Party spokesman. "Today’s guilty plea pulls back the curtain on the culture of corruption created by Matt Blunt and his legislative allies.

When Gov. Matt Blunt teamed with Rep. Nathan Cooper to appoint two of Cooper’s clients as fee office holders, the scheme proved lucrative for all parties involved. Cooper’s clients made hundreds of thousands of dollars and, in return, thanked Blunt with thousands in campaign contributions. The Cooper-Blunt relationship is typical of the cronyism and corruption that has come to define Blunt’s tenure in office.

  Missouri Dems

Then there's the stories on Blunt's father:

Given Roy's friendship with a known crook like Abramoff, perhaps it's a little less difficult to explain why his Governor-son Matt would appoint ;a convicted thief to serve as his administration's Director of Business Development.

  Fired Up Missouri

Here's a page outlining Roy Blunt's "connections" and his son Matt's lobbying efforts that put money into the father's coffers.

Here's one on his ties to K Street and Tom DeLay.

Like father, like son?

On the other hand, Matt Blunt's decision could be something as simple, and easily believable as hearing that Kit Bond may be stepping down for health reasons, and Blunt's looking to campaign for that seat.

Rep. Jim Guest, R-King City, predicts that U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, also will step down soon for health reasons. If U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, Matt Blunt’s father, is appointed to the senatorial post, Mr. Guest said he believes the current Missouri governor will go after a federal congressional seat.

  St. Joe News

But then why would you claim the need to spend more time with your family? How would you explain that when you went straight-away to campaigning for U.S. Rep? And, is there more power/prestige in being a US representative than in being a state governor? Maybe his father wouldn't be appointed to the Senate position? Maybe he would? I don't know how they fill in resigned legislative positions. All I remember from Missouri legislative politics is that John Ashcroft lost his Senate bid to the deceased Mel Carnahan.

Little mysteries.

Further update:

Come to think of it, that Sibel Edmonds hint about Roy Blunt possibly being in on the scheming around nuclear secrets and shady Middle East dealings could have some connection to Nathan Cooper, arrested for providing visas to illegals, mentioned above.

Cooper Clients Have Contributed Thousands To Blunt — Reaped Hundreds Of Thousands From Fee Office Contracts Awarded By Blunt.
Damir Huskic and Abid Nisar have contributed a combined total of $2,975 to Matt Blunt’s campaigns over the years. The South Kingshighway office, which was awarded to Damir Huskic, reaped $617,423 in fee agent fees in FY2005 and $429,719 in FY2006. The Bridgeton office, which was awarded to Abid Nisar, reaped $271,153.50 in agent fees during FY2005 and $233,410.50 in FY2006. [Missouri Department of Revenue; Missouri Ethics Commission]

  Missouri Dems

Am I reaching here?

Update 01/28/08

Input from a friend in Missouri:

[T]hanks very much for the excellent post on Matt Blunt. From what I read in the Tribune he mentioned that “his work was done” and he’d “accomplished his goals”. I do think that the perks of being a governor are probably small potatoes compared to what you can reap from being a Congressman. He certainly showed that he wasn’t afraid to balance a budget on the backs of the poor and handicapped. And he showed that he wasn’t afraid to blatantly show favoritism. When one of his staff gently pointed out that destroying e-mail was possibly violating the sunshine law he smeared and fired the guy into oblivion. All-in-all he shows great promise in continuing either Roy’s or Bond’s legacy. It’s all in the timing.

Anti-Terror Profiteering

A post-9/11 program aimed at turning America's truckers into anti-terror highway patrolmen, has been deemed to be "wasteful".

“Our audit reveals how trucking security was outsourced, without oversight, to lobbyists who spent more on overhead and marketing than on actually training truck drivers to improve security,” said Lautenberg, who joined the House Homeland Security Committee in requesting the inspector general’s report.


Well, Ms. Condoleezza Rice might say, "I don't think anybody could have predicted...."

GOP Toons

Supersize it

Justice, Texas Style

A San Francisco friend of mine recently informed me that an attorney friend there went to Rwanda at the height of the Tutsi/Hutu massacres to try to sort out the criminals from the innocent in the subsequent sweeping roundups (a la post 9/11 sweeps) that netted thousands in jail without charge or representation, a system they referred to as 'Texas'.

And well they might. And well they might.

The lastest here in Texas justice involves justices doubling as criminals. Or vice versa.

Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina is charged with funneling $57,000 of campaign contributions into his own personal expenditure account, a charge to which he responds by saying, "Now that this matter is before the ethics commission, I plan to review the matter and take the appropriate steps," indicating he'll pay back the money. Now that it's "before the ethics commitee." Texas Supreme Court Justices Paul Green and Nathan Hecht have also been charged with the same violation: using campaign funds to pay for their commuting expenses between Austin and their home towns.

But another interesting little note about Justice Medina is that his wife was recently charged with setting fire to their house, a fire that also destroyed a neighbor's home, and he was charged with tampering with evidence. (The Medinas have been having a little trouble paying their house payments and insurance premiums.) Luckily for Medina, Harris County (Houston) DA Chuck Rosenthal had the grand jury indictments dropped (hmmm...who brings a case to a grand jury but the DA's office?), saying there was insufficient evidence to get a conviction. (The end has not yet been heard of that case, though.)

Oh, and did I mention that DA Rosenthal has just been busted for some scandalous and apparently illegal emailing activity brought to light in a case involving alleged improper arrests of two guys who were filming their neighbors' house being raided by police?

Meanwhile, Galveston County Federal Judge Samuel Kent (who has admitted publicly to having a "drinking problem") is charged with sexually assaulting his case manager, and in court favoring attorneys who are friends of his.

Hey, this is Texas, people. Texas.

Rewards for Justice

Pilots are charging that the Bush Administration doled out $5 million as an award to flight instructor Clarence Prevost in the [Zacarias] Moussaoui case without seriously inquiring into who was actually responsible for bringing the terrorist-wannabe to the attention of the government. Members of Congress are asking for explanations on why other instructors credited with the disclosure were ignored.


Bush Administration officials at the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program only recognized Prevost and handed out a huge award for his actions in a closed ceremony.

The reason appears to be that Prevost testified in the Administration’s absurd trial of Moussaoui. As noted in this earlier column, Moussaoui did not prove to be the claimed 20th hijacker. Instead, he proved to be a barking lunatic.

  Jonathan Turley

On Thursday, Moussaoui held his most riveting performance yet by insisting that he wanted to plead guilty and confess to everything short of the Lincoln assassination. Moussaoui not only confessed to being the 20th hijacker on Sept. 11 but proclaimed his allegiance to Osama bin Laden.


In the very same hearing, Moussaoui proclaimed his innocence (as he has since his arrest) and confessed in a peevish fit. He has refused to admit that he is clueless about how to defend himself and has repeatedly made petulant, childlike outbursts.


His legal motions are often little more than ravings, bearing titles such as “Zacarias Moussaoui Muslim v. U.S. Godless government” or “Motion to see what the scam is about.” He has demanded hearings on such subjects as “those Jews who incurred the curse of Allah and his wrath and those who He transformed into monkey and swines.”

  Jonathan Turley

Despite the statements from government officials and foreign intelligence services that he was not the 20th hijacker, the government continued in court to make such claims and refused to accept life in prison as a sufficient punishment. In the end, the Administration spent millions in years of prosecution only to receive the life sentence that they could have acquired soon after he admitted to be part of a terrorist organization. The government had promised that Moussaoui would die for 9-11, even if he did not play a role in the attack.

  Jonathan Turley

Yeah, well they promised that they'd bring in bin Laden dead or alive. They promised they'd restore dignity to the White House. And we do need our blood and pound of flesh.

Five million dollars?!?

I don't know if that qualifies as a reward for justice so much as a witness bribe.

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

Friday, January 25, 2008

Don't Know Much About History...Don't Know Much Trigonometry...

In today’s press briefing, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Dana Perino about the new CBO estimate on the skyrocketing deficit. Perino didn’t have much of an answer, however, and simply replied, “Well, I don’t know how they come to all of their numbers at CBO. It’s a little bit — math is not my strong suit.”

  Think Progress

Yes, this is coming from the same woman who recently, without a bit of shame, told the radio public that she didn't know what the Cuban Missle Crisis was about. La-la land. It might be funny if this were a movie instead of real life.

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

Priceless and Poetic

Dubya's autobiography (well, I'm sure he didn't actually write it) is titled "A Charge to Keep", which is a religious phrase that Bush appropriated, claiming that the painting pictured above, which he acquired after being "born again", inspired that thought in him. [Later: It turns out that his story about the painting has morphed with time until it has become not just that it inspired him to think of that phrase, but that it was actually painted to represent that phrase - a complete fabrication as you will see.]

"I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves."

It turns out, however, that the painting actually depicts the story of a "smooth-talking horse thief" attempting to escape from a lynch mob. It was painted by William H.D. Koerner for a 1916 Saturday Evening Post short story titled "The Slipper Tongue," and in the magazine, the caption printed beneath it was:

“Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

Ha. It's said (by George himself) that the horseman looks like George, and I would love to know how he got this painting. Did someone present it to him, knowing of its origins, and walk away with a sly smile?

Here's an entertaining video of George taking us on a tour of the Oval Office trying to be poetic and lofty, and telling the whopper tale he's made up about the painting. (As has been noted, everything about this man is a fabrication.)

P.S. Aside from the tale of the painting, there are two other notably glaring and interesting points in the video. 1) the White House video editors didn't see fit to edit out the several spots he stumbled in his presentation and repeated phrases; and 2) when presenting the photos on the table behind his desk (that people see when speeches from the Oval Office are filmed) he describes them as pictures of his family, telling us how important his family is to him. He points out "our daughters", Laura and "other members of the family" (naming Barney the dog and other animals), "my grandparents", and "my dad". There's an obvious omission of that creature who spawned him - no mention of Mom. I couldn't make out if there's really no picture of her.

British Troops Have Learned a Lesson

A report into alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops claims soldiers were given only "scant" guidance on how to treat civilian detainees.

Troops must be taught "a better understanding between right and wrong", according to the report issued today following a two-year inquiry.

However, the author, Brigadier Robert Aitken, said there was no evidence of endemic abuse.


Who the heck are these troops who have to be “taught” that abuse is “wrong”? I thought they might be discussing “legal”, but “wrong”? Who past the age of 3 thinks abuse is “right”?

I’m not buying it. The much better explanation is that they were “taught” that abuse was not just legal, but proper. They already knew it was wrong.

The inquiry was commissioned after the deaths of Baha Mousa, a hotel receptionist who died in British custody with 93 separate injuries, and 16-year-old Ahmed Jabber Kareem, who drowned after allegedly being forced to swim across a river.


The head of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, insisted lessons had been learned and he was "satisfied that the standards of behaviour are now understood by all our people".

They were understood before. The lessons learned were that abusive behavior isn’t quite yet ready for prime time audiences.

By the way, Kareem couldn’t swim, so they watched him drown.

Six out of seven soldiers charged in relation with Mousa's death were cleared but one soldier, Corporal Donald Payne, pleaded guilty to inhumane treatment. Two soldiers were acquitted of involvement in Kareem's death.

Yeah, that’ll teach ‘em a lesson.

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

Top Ten Campaign Promises: Barack Obama

Just Asking

The U.S. will ask the Iraqi government for the right to conduct combat operations and detain prisoners and will seek legal protections for American troops in an agreement that defines a long-term relationship between the two countries, a U.S. defense official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said those provisions will top the list of U.S. demands in talks with Iraqi officials for an accord that will extend beyond the presidency of George W. Bush.


"The way to think about the framework agreement is an approach to normalizing the relationship between the United States and Iraq," [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said at a Pentagon news conference.


Don’t we already have those rights?* Funny that. Asking rights of a country you essentially occupy. I think the “demands” choice of words is more accurate.

But, let's pretend we don't actually occupy Iraq. Let's pretend they have a functioning independent democratic government. Or even that they might have one some day in the foreseeable future. If you can conduct combat operations, detain prisoners, and have immunity for your soldiers in a foreign country, what does that make the relationship, please? Is this the Iraqi sovereignty about which the Bushites wax poetic?

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

*It seems that we do, under a UN resolution, but that will expire at the end of this year.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Deceptive Killers

As the saying goes, you just can't make this stuff up., an online safety database, was created in 2003 in conjunction with the federal Department of Homeland Security. Now, DHS is paying a Pennsylvania ad firm to pitch “pre-written” winter-weather-preparedness articles to the national press.


Along with winter-storm information, they include references to a 1991 U.S. Department of Commerce report that likens winter storms to “Deceptive Killers.”

  Seven Days

Even the weather is out to get you. Jealous of your freedoms, no doubt.

Meanwhile, Those US Attorneys....

The federal investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys could jolt the political landscape ahead of the November elections, according to several people close to the inquiry.


Two inquiries by the House and Senate ethics committees are examining whether several congressional Republicans, including one running for the Senate this year, improperly interfered with investigations.


One source close to the investigation expects the offices to issue a scathing report within the next three months, but they have not announced a timeline for their joint inquiry.

“I think it could be historic,” said David Iglesias, former U.S. attorney in New Mexico, who was one of the nine ordered to resign by the Bush administration. “Arguably it’s the most significant investigation OPR and OIG have done in a generation, or maybe ever.”


Investigators from these offices have been questioning whether senior officials lied to Congress, violated the criminal provisions in the Hatch Act, tampered with witnesses preparing to testify to Congress, obstructed justice, took improper political considerations into account during the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys and created widespread problems in the department’s Civil Rights Division, according to several people familiar with the investigation.


Justice Department investigators also interviewed Allen Weh, chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, last year.

Weh reportedly complained about Iglesias in 2005 to Karl Rove, who was then White House deputy chief of staff.

Weh said last week that his interview with the investigators was brief, and he didn’t expect inquiries to amount to anything significant. “People don’t care about this; this is yesterday,” Weh said.

  The Hill

Sadly, I must agree with that statement.

Stimulus Package

They had to tell George that when they said stimulus package they weren't talking about Jeff Ganon/Guckert's goods, or whatever his name was.

House leaders and the Bush administration reached agreement yesterday on a $150 billion economic stimulus package that would quickly send hundreds of dollars to poor and middle-class workers while offering businesses one-time incentives to invest in new equipment.

The deal, announced by House leaders and President Bush after arduous, late-night negotiations, was a work of difficult compromise, and the fight will continue in the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acceded to Republican demands, jettisoning plans to extend unemployment benefits and food stamps for now but concluding that the issue could be revisited if the economy continues to slide.

"I can't say that I'm totally pleased with the package, but I do know that it will help stimulate the economy," Pelosi said. "And if it does not, then there will be more to come."


She knows it will, but if it doesn’t….Obviously she knows diddly squat.

Unless the Senate Democrats are a little more helpful than Ms. Pelosi, you unemployed folk can start looking for a park bench, and Mike Huckabee can give you his fried squirrel recipe.

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

Speaking of Recession

Jim Hightower:

For economists, a “recession” is a clinical term defined as two or more consecutive quarters of decline in the GDP. For several years, America's economy has been expanding, while the incomes of the majority of people have been falling, but economists haven’t cared. For them, the measure of a healthy economy is simple growth – not whether we all benefit from it.


[R]eal wages have been declining for more than five years.


When George W first ran for president, he was asked what his economic plan might be. “We ought to make the pie higher,” he answered. People laughed, thinking it was another of his verbal stumbles. Seven years later, we can see that he was serious. His plan was to put our national economic pie on the highest shelf, so only the elites can reach it. Now that the economy is falling into an “official” recession to go along with the unofficial recession that ordinary folks have long been experiencing, even the economists and politicians can see that Bush’s plan worked just as he wanted.

  Jim Hightower

Barbara Ehrenreich:

Now if those great and solemn economic indicators -- growth, productivity and employment rates -- have become de-coupled from most people's lived experience, then there's something wrong with the economists, the economy, or both. The clue lies in the word "most." We have become so unequal as a nation that we increasingly occupy two different economies -- one for the rich and one for everyone else -- and the latter has been in a recession, if not a depression, for a long, long time.


[A] revealing 2001 study by McKinsey also credited America's productivity growth to "managerial innovations" and cited Wal-Mart as a model performer, meaning that we are also looking at fiendish schemes to extract more work for less pay. Yes, you can generate more output per apparent hour of work by falsifying time records, speeding up assembly lines, doubling workloads, and cutting back on breaks. Productivity may look good from the top, but at the middle and the bottom it can feel a lot like pain.


What is this fixation on growth anyway? As a general rule of biological survival, any creature or entity that depends on perpetual growth is well worth avoiding, lest you be eaten alive. As Bill McKibben argues in his book Deep Economy, the "cult of growth" has led to global warming, ghastly levels of pollution, and diminishing resources. Tumors grow, at least until they kill their hosts; economies ought to be sustainable.



In 2006, the latest year for which Census Bureau figures are available, 12.3 percent of Americans were living in poverty, compared with 11.7 percent in 2001, the year of the last recession.

"It's unusual in an economic recovery that ... we still have poverty higher than it was in the recession that preceded it," said Sharon Parrott, a policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank in Washington.


That would be the recovery where the rich recovered what little the poor had.

There's George's legacy: a war with no end, two recessions and an extra two million poor people. Nice job.

There Goes Dennis

Kucinich drops out.

What's Good for America

I have a really great blog post for you. Unfortunately, it's not here. Fortunately, it's at W3IAI. Read. Enjoy.

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

Recession A-Comin'

Feels to me like we've been in one for some time now. At least those of us who aren't in the "upper" classes haven't been seeing much in the economy to cheer about for several years (although they've been telling us it's going along swimmingly the whole time).

I hear that Congress and Bush are arguing amongst themselves as to what is the best way to deliver tax rebates. When to do it is a problem, since the IRS is in the normal tax return season and swamped as it is. But how about how much and to whom? Some are saying the Bush package leaves out the millions of poor people who don't pay taxes. But they're not really worried about the poor; they're figuring that they will be the ones who have no choice but to spend it, which is the aim after all. Some, however, are worried that they will spend it on things that won't boost our economy. As one congressman said, they'll spend it on things made in China - maybe they'll boost the Chinese economy.

Gee, could that possibly be one of the real problems with our economy? Everything affordable to the millions of poor and many of the "middle class" is made in China for American corporations. I mean, it's not like the poor people have a choice and buy direct from China.

Somebody else worried that the middle class would be tempted to sock their rebate away into savings instead of spending it. Wise move, I'd say. Particularly when the economy is tanking.

Now they have to figure out just the right amount so that people will figure it's not enough to save, but just enough to buy something made in America that they've always been wanting. Congressin' is hard work.

Could it be that, as is so often the case, we are treating the symptom and not the cause? Could it be that we waited until the situation was dire before trying to address the many problems that create our economic situation? Could it be that we are not practicing good management, but simply putting out fires? Or trying to.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

UFOs in Texas

Reportedly about 40 people in Stephenville, Texas, including a pilot, insist they saw a UFO a couple of weeks ago. It seems people in nearby towns had been seeing the same thing, but nobody wanted to speak up. I can't imagine why.

The military initially said none of its planes were in that area the night of Jan. 8, but now officials say they made a mistake.

  Raw Story

They made a mistake. Uh-huh.



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Study: Bush Lied

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

  MN Star Tribune

You don’t say! Not exactly a scoop.

The administration count: 935 lies. Bush himself led with 259. He is indeed a leader.

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

Let Sibel Edmonds Speak

It’s Sibel time again.

THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.
The assertion follows allegations made in The Sunday Times two weeks ago by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower, who worked on the agency’s investigation of the network.
[Edmonds] says the FBI was investigating a Turkish and Israeli-run network that paid high-ranking American officials to steal nuclear weapons secrets. These were then sold on the international black market to countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.
  Times Online

Edmonds says the file existed while she was working for the FBI.
[The FOIA request] was made […] by an American human rights group called the Liberty Coalition, acting on a tip-off it received from an anonymous correspondent.
I suppose that anonymous correspondent could in fact be Sibel Edmonds.
Edmonds is the subject of a number of state secret gags preventing her from talking further about the investigation she witnessed.
“I cannot discuss the details considering the gag orders,” she said, “but I reported all these activities to the US Congress, the inspector general of the justice department and the 9/11 commission. I told them all about what was contained in this case file number, which the FBI is now denying exists.
“This gag was invoked not to protect sensitive diplomatic relations but criminal activities involving US officials who were endangering US national security.” [Ed: It’s five years now that Edmonds has been under gag order.]

[The Edmonds story is one of] allegations of a wide network of "moles" in place at U.S. nuclear installations, who were stealing and selling information on the foreign nuclear black market, as U.S. officials either looked the other way or were complicit in the criminal activities.
Though there has been worldwide coverage of the recent blockbuster in the Rupert Murdoch-owned British paper, the U.S. media have remained entirely mum, a point which has drawn great consternation from both Edmonds and the 70's-era "Pentagon Papers" Daniel Ellsberg.
As The BRAD BLOG reported along with the Times two weeks ago, the operation also includes allegations that high-ranking U.S. officials --- such as Marc Grossman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, who served as the #3 official in the State Department under Colin Powell and Richard Armitage from 2001 to 2005 --- were involved in the sale of those secrets and may have accepted pay-offs from agents in the black market network in the bargain.
[The Sunday Times] reports that they've "obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file" referred to in the anonymous letter.
Edmonds denied being the source for the anonymous letter, telling The BRAD BLOG "absolutely not," when we asked her directly if she was its author...
In addition to references in the letter to "Recorded wiretaps pertaining to conversations between Mr. Marc Grossman...and a Turkish official at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC, between August 2001 and December 2001," there are references to "Internal communication within the Department of Justice between December 2005 and march [sic] 2007." Edmonds points out she has no information on such internal communications at any period after 2002, when she was fired by the FBI after whistleblower complaints to her superiors about infiltration within the translations department.
After the initial story in the Times two weeks ago, Edmonds posted a number of photographs of high-ranking U.S. officials and members of think tanks, on her website, without names or comment. The photos are believed to be those she alleges are involved in the criminal activities described in the various coverage of her explosive allegations.
Last October, in a BRAD BLOG Exclusive, Edmonds had announced she was willing to defy her gag order, in order to give the entire story to any American mainstream broadcast outlet who would allow her to do so. Not a single media operation in this country took her up on the offer.
  Brad Blog

Now that’s strange. But wait….

"I have had [American] reporters call me and tell me that I have 'stumbled on some big time national security, covert operation'," she continued, explaining that as the reason given by some for staying away from the story.
"Well, Iran-Contra was a goddamn covert operation too! Even if that's what they're telling reporters in the U.S., it doesn't make the operation any less illegal.
So the U.S. media has been told by the government that this is all a “covert” operation? Is that also the story why nobody cares about A.Q. Khan?
If you’ve looked at that page of photos, you’ve recognized some of our old friends you aren’t surprised to see. Some with experience in other bribery cases. Dennis Hastert. He had to suddenly and mysteriously spend time with his family, didn’t he? And wasn’t his name in the pot for bribery charges on the Abramoff scandal?
Larry Franklin – already busted in another case selling state secrets to Israel.
Richard Perle, who had to leave his post because of the heat surrounding his profiteering from the Iraq invasion – improperly mixing business and politics, someone called it.
Others better known, others less.
But you know, I could believe that there is a covert operation to sell nuclear plans around the world. And it could even be that there is something about the plans they’re selling that is sabotaged. They’ve done it with computer programs. But if that is what they’re doing, it seems to me that nuclear “secrets” information is a pretty dangerous game.
On the other hand, I could also believe that they’re selling nuclear secrets in hopes they can control who gets the information and who doesn’t. Because they are just that stupid some times.
As Daniel Ellsberg says:
"Sensitive" and "covert" are often synonyms for "half-assed," "idiotic," and "dangerous to national security," as well as "criminal." All of these would apply to the pattern of activities revealed by Edmonds if it were truly presidentially authorized, as is being whispered. Such activities persist, covertly, to the point of national disaster because the press neglects what our First Amendment was precisely intended to protect and encourage it to do: expose wrongdoing by officials.
Let Sibel Edmonds Speak
Just a Citizen (Sibel Edmonds website)

UPDATE 2/20/18:  Glenn Greenwald Twitter thread regarding Sibel Edmonds, calling her a "pathological liar and an insane person."

The Way It's Done

"The killing of innocent civilians is policy," veteran Mike Blake said. "It's unit policy and it's Army policy. It's not official policy, but it's what's happens on the ground everyday. It's what unit commanders individually encourage."


[A] group, part of the national organization called Iraq Veterans Against War [is] planning an event to be held in Washington, D.C. this coming March called "Winter Soldier" that will have veterans all speaking about war crimes they committed or witnessed during their tours of duty.


IVAW hopes to have 100 veterans speak at the event. Once it ends, they'll document the testimony and package it for Congress.

IVAW says it expects a number of veterans from Fort Drum to be at the event and it is hoping to get more veterans to attend and speak at the event and will help pay for any active duty soldier who wants to go and listen.

  News 10 Now

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

How About That Economy?

Housing market collapse. Huge deficit. Out the roof military spending. Stocks diving. Recession on the way. Emergency interest rate cut. And the EU economic chief says we're mucking up the European market in the bargain.

Who wants to be president?

One More Out

Fred Thompson has dropped out of the race, and we are so very sorry to see him go, I'm sure.

Just between you and me...I don't think he really tried very hard.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It’s Sunday, so….

Beam Me Up, Jesus [subtitled: A Heathen's Guide to the Rapture] isn't for believers of the Rapture. It's for you. You know who you are. Doubter. Unbeliever. Heathen. Satanist. French-kissing liberal democrat. AlterNet reader. (If you're a Christian and have never heard about the Rapture, well, shame on you, you didn't read the Bible all the way to the end.) If you're curious to find out what a hundred million people find so compelling about the Rapture, the nightmare that follows it called the Tribulation and what the evangelists call "the End Times," the book will do the trick.

If you're a secular humanist who believes in reason rather than magic fixers, this book will provide that warm feeling of smug superiority. If you're a fence-sitter who likes to cover all his bases, or even a closet Christian, this book will give you some practical tips on how to survive the Rapture ... in the unlikely event that it happens and you're Left Behind. And if that happens, well, good luck to you.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

St. Ronald Weighs In

Lee Stranahan video

Mike Huckabee, Not a Crook, Or a Weirdo, Or a Mormon

Lee Stranahan video

For the Women's Vote

Lee Stranahan video

The Twit Takes the Gambling State

Mitt Romney won the Nevada Republican caucus Saturday — hardly a surprise because virtually no other GOP candidates competed there.


Hey, you take ‘em any way you get ‘em. Besides, he just won Michigan (and Wyoming!), so let’s not be so stingy. Considering the results, the headlines should be Romney sweeps Nevada, or something like that.

In early returns, Romney had 46 percent of the vote. Arizona Sen. John McCain was second at 15 percent, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the only other Republican to make a major effort here, on McCain's heels at 14 percent.

It probably means nothing that Nevada has the fourth highest Mormon population in the country. They were only 20% of the caucus voters.

Let's give the Twit his propers.

The Rodney Dangerfield of the Democratic Party

Poor John Edwards just can't get no respect.

Maybe YouTube can help.

Raygun on Rushmore?

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

Depose Dick?

It'll never happen. Attorney for Steven Howards wants to depose the Dick in a lawsuit his client has brought for false arrest.

Howards was in Beaver Creek [Colorado] with his family in June 2006 when he spotted Cheney on the street. The vice president, in town for a conference sponsored by former President Gerald Ford, was surrounded by people, shaking hands and posing for photographs.

Howards, an environmental consultant, approached the vice president.

According to a lawsuit Howards later filed in federal court, he was two to three feet away from Cheney when he addressed him.

“I think your policies in Iraq are reprehensible,” he said.

Howards told the Rocky that he may have lightly touched Cheney’s arm or shoulder, though the lawsuit makes no mention of any contact.

After the encounter, Howards continued walking down the street with his son. About 10 minutes later he was approached by Secret Service agents who accused him of assaulting Cheney.

Howards denied the claims, but was taken to the Eagle County Jail, where he was held for about three hours and issued a summons for misdemeanor harassment.

The Eagle County District Attorney’s office dismissed the charge in July 2006, after District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said it became clear Howards hadn’t pushed Cheney.

In October 2006, Howards filed a federal lawsuit, claiming he was arrested in retaliation for speaking his mind about the government’s policies in Iraq — a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.


In court filings responding to Howards’ lawsuit, attorneys for Virgil “Gus” Reichle Jr., the agent who initiated the arrest, said that while Reichle didn’t see the encounter, he believed he had probable cause to arrest Howards because other agents told him there had been an assault.

The lawyers also say Howards became beligerent when Reichle questioned him about the incident.

In the months since, accounts of what occurred have gotten even muddier, and have included allegations of misconduct by the agents.

Reichle, who was based in Denver at the time, told Lane during a deposition that the other agents told him there was an assault, then later changed their story, presumably because Cheney didn’t want to be inconvenienced by a court case.

Another agent, meanwhile, said Reichle contacted him a few hours after the arrest and asked him to trump up the encounter to make the arrest appear legitimate, according to the deposition.

  Rocky Mountain News

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

Mission Accomplished

George takes a jaunt around the Middle East playing with swords and spouting about knocking heads together and how he’s sure there’s going to be great progress toward peace now that he’s there to get everybody in line. And immediately….

JERUSALEM, Jan. 18 -- Israel blocked shipment of food, fuel and all other supplies into the Gaza Strip on Friday and intensified airstrikes on the Palestinian territory, calling the steps a response to increasing rocket attacks into Israel.


Nice work, George.

We've Got Canada Very Scared

Reuters headline: "Canada takes U.S. and Israel off torture watchlist."
Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the manual, which also classified some U.S. interrogation techniques as torture.

"It contains a list that wrongly includes some of our closest allies. I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," Bernier said in a statement.


Don't think you can mess with us, boy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

We've Got Canada Scared

The Canadian government has put the United States on a watch list of countries that could practice torture. The mention is made on a secret Canadian government document not intended for public release. The document cites the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and lists U.S. interrogation techniques including “forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation.” Other countries on the list include Israel, Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan.

  Democracy Now!

And, speaking of torture, I hope the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" by Alex Gimbey who brought us "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room", gets a lot of play. I won't be able to watch it myself, as seeing images of torture makes me physically ill and unable to sleep (which, when you think about it, is probably the appropriate response), but I don't think this topic should stop being pushed to the public until the practice is stopped and amends are made, to such extent as they could ever be. I heard Gimbey say on a radio program that this documentary shows images worse than any of the Abu Ghraib photos that have been released, and that they decided against showing some that were even worse than the ones they do show. He says his goal in making this documentary is to provoke outrage. I hope he succeeds, but I am not holding my breath.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wexler Speech to Impeach Dick Cheney

Monday, January 14.

If you haven’t signed the Wexler petition already, you can still do it here. Your name will be listed in the Congressional record. I suppose you could see that as either a plus or a minus.

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

Final Word on the Boat Taunt

The bottom line is that the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the call to play up the incident, which had happened the day before, and was nothing more than common occurrence, and according to an anonymous Pentagon consultant "just not a major threat to the U.S. Navy by any stretch of the imagination".

An official in the U.S. Navy Office of Information in Washington, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that decision was made in the office of the secretary of defence.


That decision in Washington was followed by a news release by the commander of the 5th Fleet on the incident at about 4:00 a.m. Washington time Jan. 7. It was the first time the 5th Fleet had ever issued a news release on an incident with small Iranian boats.


The decision came just as President George W. Bush was about to leave on a Middle East trip aimed in part at rallying Arab states to join the United States in an anti-Iran coalition.


The Navy apparently decided it was best to distance itself from the report, knowing full well the truth would become all too obvious all too quickly.

The commanding officer of the guided missile cruiser Port Royal, Capt. David Adler, dismissed the Pentagon's story that he had felt threatened by the dropping of white boxes in the water. Meeting with reporters on Monday, Adler said, "I saw them float by. They didn't look threatening to me."

The naval commanders seemed most determined, however, to scotch the idea that they had been close to firing on the Iranians. Vice-Adm. Kevin Cosgriff, the commander of the 5th Fleet, denied the story in a press briefing on Jan. 7. A week later, Comdr. Jeffery James, commander of the destroyer Hopper, told reporters that the Iranians had moved away "before we got to the point where we needed to open fire".

The original press release didn’t say anything about any audio threat or boxes dropped in the water. But when the news media did not pick up on the release, a new and improved one was put out . Aren’t you surprised?

Venezuelan Oil Heats American Homes

Joe Kennedy III has made a commercial for the Citgo program, wherein is noted that American oil companies refused to help and the Bush Administration cut household heating subsidies.

Go Joe.

Violence Is Down in Iraq?

I'm pretty sure that's what they've been saying. I suppose after we've blasted the last man, woman and child to kingdom come, there won't be any violence.

The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power.

Top commanders said that better intelligence-gathering allows them to identify and hit extremist strongholds with bombs and missiles, and they predicted that extensive airstrikes will continue this year as the United States seeks to flush insurgents out of havens in and around Baghdad and to the north in Diyala province.


Because bombing in cities is a good way to limit killing untargeted people and destroying homes and infrastructure.

The U.S.-led coalition dropped 1,447 bombs on Iraq last year, an average of nearly four a day, compared with 229 bombs, or about four each week, in 2006. [Emphasis mine]

And in case you’re wondering, twice as many airstrikes were made in Afghanistan in 2007 over the previous year (20 times that of 2005).


The GAO report – now that’s an official report by the accounting offices of our government, you understand – for January 15, 2008, on Iraq doesn’t sound like anything we've been hearing the Bush administration say. It begins by saying the administration reported (read: lied) actual funds spent on capital projects as quite a rather larger amount than the Iraqi government reports, and continues from there with a sad tale of the improbability of any improvement on the situation.

Unlike George, Condi, et al., however, the GAO will not be televised.

In its September 2007 Iraqi benchmark assessment, the administration reported that Iraq's central government ministries had spent 24 percent of their 2007 capital projects budget, as of July 15, 2007. However, this report is not consistent with Iraq's official expenditure reports, which show that the central ministries had spent only 4.4 percent of their investment budget as of August 2007. The discrepancies between the official and unofficial data highlight uncertainties about the sources and use of Iraq's expenditure data. The government of Iraq faces many challenges that limit its ability to spend its capital project budget. Violence and sectarian strife delay capital budget execution by increasing the time and cost needed to implement contracts. Recent refugee flows and the de-Ba'athification process have contributed to the exodus of skilled labor from Iraq. In addition, U.S. and foreign officials also noted that weaknesses in Iraqi procurement, budgeting, and accounting procedures impede completion of capital projects. […] [I]mproving Iraqi government budget execution is part of a broader U.S. assistance effort to improve the capacity of the Iraqi government. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has trained 500 ministry officials in procurement or budget execution. USAID also led an effort to implement an automated financial management information system for the Iraqi government, although this program was suspended in June 2007 following the kidnapping of five contractors involved in the project.

In Praise of St. Ronald the Reagan

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

Who said that?

Barack Obama. That’s right. Barack Obama.

What excesses is he talking about? Civil rights struggles? Attempts to get equal rights, equal pay for women? Protests for peace? Environmental awareness?

Has anybody publicly called this guy an Uncle Tom yet? He certainly wants to be part of the machinery.

It’s not that he’s wrong about Reagan changing the trajectory of America. He certainly did. And we’ve been hurtling along that trajectory ever since, and it has not been good. Not for us, not for the world. That Barack Obama thinks we were put on the right course by Reagan ought to scare the pants off all those Democrats planning to vote for him.

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

And While We're Cloning Cybrids....

A California company announced Thursday that it has created cloned human embryos from adult skin cells, a breakthrough which could ultimately lead to the development of cures for Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's, and other untreatable ailments.

  Raw Story

And not only that…all those Holy Joes are going to have to be very, very careful about their skin, aren’t they? Because if a baby can be made from a skin cell, each and every day they are aborting untold numbers of them.

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

And, while we're on the topic, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a child born from in vitro fertilization performed after the father had died is not a legal heir.