Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Two words on Bush's speech today:
Nothing new.

Bush released a new "victory plan" which basically is the same as the old plan -- "stay the course" and ignore the pitiful pace of training Iraqi security forces.

Elsewhere: Sunni tribes who met with U.S. Marines in Ramadi recently support the idea of a U.S. withdrawal...

Tags: , Bush, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 10:41 AM  
The Passion of George W. Bush

In the current issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh drops the most disturbing article I think I've ever read about George W. Bush. Among his reportage: four and five-star generals are increasingly uneasy with the U.S. war plan in Iraq, but they're afraid to tell the president or Rumsfeld ... the military is even more uneasy about the idea, apparently now on the table, of pulling American ground troops and replacing them with air force units who would provide close air support to Iraqi troops -- possibly enlisting us, as Chris Matthews put it on Hardball tonight, as proxies for one side in a bloody civil war:
...For one thing, Air Force commanders, in particular, have deep-seated objections to the possibility that Iraqis eventually will be responsible for target selection. “Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame someone else?” another senior military planner now on assignment in the Pentagon asked. “Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of Al Qaeda, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?” [Emphasis added]

Bush is, according to Hersh, impervious to the news coming out of Iraq, and even to the casualties. Hersh told Matthews tonight that Bush basically doesn't care how many body bags come home -- he means to stay in Iraq for the long haul, until he gets the God-divined democracy he seeks. That strikes me as beyond neocon delusional, and belies what most analysts, including Lawrence O'Donnell, who clearly outmatched David Frum and Kelley Ann Conway tonight on Scarborough's show, saying "we will cut and run from Iraq," just before the midterm elections next year. (I tend to believe that, too, and that Congress will force the issue even if Bush resists, but Hersh's conclusions are much scarier...)

And then there's this very disturbing passage, which correlates with much of what we've come to learn about our president:
Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: “I said to the President, ‘We’re not winning the war.’ And he asked, ‘Are we losing?’ I said, ‘Not yet.’ ” The President, he said, “appeared displeased” with that answer.

“I tried to tell him,” the former senior official said. “And he couldn’t hear it.”

There are grave concerns within the military about the capability of the U.S. Army to sustain two or three more years of combat in Iraq. Michael O’Hanlon, a specialist on military issues at the Brookings Institution, told me, “The people in the institutional Army feel they don’t have the luxury of deciding troop levels, or even participating in the debate. They’re planning on staying the course until 2009. I can’t believe the Army thinks that it will happen, because there’s no sustained drive to increase the size of the regular Army.” O’Hanlon noted that “if the President decides to stay the present course in Iraq some troops would be compelled to serve fourth and fifth tours of combat by 2007 and 2008, which could have serious consequences for morale and competency levels.”

Many of the military’s most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but they say nothing in public, because they don’t want to jeopardize their careers. The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were fucked up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves.

One person with whom the Pentagon’s top commanders have shared their private views for decades is Representative John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The President and his key aides were enraged when, on November 17th, Murtha gave a speech in the House calling for a withdrawal of troops within six months. The speech was filled with devastating information. For example, Murtha reported that the number of attacks in Iraq has increased from a hundred and fifty a week to more than seven hundred a week in the past year. He said that an estimated fifty thousand American soldiers will suffer “from what I call battle fatigue” in the war, and he said that the Americans were seen as “the common enemy” in Iraq. He also took issue with one of the White House’s claims—that foreign fighters were playing the major role in the insurgency. Murtha said that American soldiers “haven’t captured any in this latest activity”—the continuing battle in western Anbar province, near the border with Syria. “So this idea that they’re coming in from outside, we still think there’s only seven per cent.”

Murtha’s call for a speedy American pullout only seemed to strengthen the White House’s resolve. Administration officials “are beyond angry at him, because he is a serious threat to their policy—both on substance and politically,” the former defense official said. Speaking at the Osan Air Force base, in South Korea, two days after Murtha’s speech, Bush said, “The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. . . . If they’re not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, and to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I’m going to make you this commitment: this is not going to happen on my watch.”

“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”

Other lowlights:
  • Hersh reports that the CIA, state department and the Tony Blair government are backing Iyad Allawi as Iraq's next prime minister, perhaps in some sort of coalition with, you guessed it, Ahmad Chalabi...
  • Hersh also seems to confirm the stories about Shia Iraqi troops "rounding up any Sunnis on the basis of whatever a Shiite said to them” and in some cases, killing them...
  • And according to the report, the air war in Iraq has already begun spilling over into Syria.

Read the whole thing, preferably with a good stiff drink. Couple this with the recent reporting from the NY Daily News about the bunker mentality that's growing inside the White House and you begin to see a truly scary picture of what's going on at the heart of our government. Bush's supporters can spin this all they want, and David Frum can whine that we just gotta win in Iraq, but the facts are pretty clear: we can't get anywhere in Iraq unless the president is willing to hear honest appraisals and adjust his course, but he can't adjust his course if he lost in a messianic haze.

Related: Richard Cohen on Democrats, Iraq, and "mistakes..."

Tags: , Bush, War, religion, Foreign Policy

posted by JReid @ 12:40 AM  
No thanks, we'd rather not
The formerly condemned, Robin Lovitt

Virginia's governor decides not to let his state become the home of America's 1,000th execution since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. (More proof that Mark Warner is running for president). The torch is passed to the Carolinas, both of which have killings planned. Meanwhile California will get its turn at the switch, unless Arnold Schwarzenegger decides that the life of a clearly reformed gang member is worth letting that state take a pass, too.

Interesting note: Governor Warner has never before commuted a death sentence, and his state ranked second, behind Texas, in 2004 in the number of people put to death in its prisons, according to the group Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Tags: Death penalty
posted by JReid @ 12:30 AM  
High crimes?
Larry Wilkerson tells the BBC that Vice President Cheney may be guilty of a war crime over the abuse of prisoners in American military custody, and over U.S. policy regarding torture. According to the Guardian:
Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, singled out Mr Cheney in a wide-ranging political assault on the BBC's Today programme.

Mr Wilkerson said that in an internal administration debate over whether to abide by the Geneva conventions in the treatment of detainees, Mr Cheney led the argument "that essentially wanted to do away with all restrictions".

Asked whether the vice-president was guilty of a war crime, Mr Wilkerson replied: "Well, that's an interesting question - it was certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror and I would suspect that it is ... an international crime as well." In the context of other remarks it appeared he was using the word "terror" to apply to the systematic abuse of prisoners.
Wilkerson also had lots to say on hyped pre-war intelligence. Where was this guy before the 2004 election? I'm with Chris Matthews on this one -- people like Wilkerson, and his former boss at State, Collin Powell, should have spoken out when it could have done the country some good... Anyway, here's the BBC version of the story, and the transcript of the Wilkerson interview.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Torture, Foreign Policy, Wilkerson
posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Memogate II.1
Steve Clemens has the text of a letter sent from Al-Jazeera's managing director to Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding the Bush-bombing plot allegations. Is there any doubt that the following Clemens statement is true?

"Eventually, the memo will be made public, and it will add yet another few news cycles of attention to this matter and potentially implicate all of those who said that Bush said no such thing.
No doubt about that. And an alert TWN reader unearths an interesting development: According to a site called BlairWatch, there are likely two, not one, bombshell Jazeera memo, and the Blair government, despite the Prime Minister's denials, is clearly spooked about the possibility of their coming out in full.

We have had our suspicions (argued below) that the Times memo and the Mirror memo citing Bush's plans to bomb al-Jazeera are entirely different documents confirmed by Peter Kilfoyle MP, who has seen both documents.

He was naturally reticent, but when we aked Peter if the source for the Mirror article was related to the 'prosecution' of and Keogh and O'Connor over last years leak to the Times he said:

Wholly different sources.
The Times used 'official' leaks; the current document remains top secret - they are livid it is out.
We have also had it confirmed that Keogh and O'Connor are only facing one set of charges, over one document.
The folks at Blairwatch are building a list of bloggers willing to risk jail to publish the memos if, or more to the point, when, they leak.

The move was inspired by Boris Johnson, who was the first to take the leap. I don't think I can be prosecuted under Britain's Official Secrets Act, but hell, if someone were to pass me the memo, you'd better believe I'm putting it up....


Tags: , Middle East, War, Al-Jazeera

posted by JReid @ 11:51 PM  
In case you missed it...
From last week's Guardian:
MPs seek independent inquiry into Iraq war
Michael White
Wednesday November 23, 2005

A fresh attempt to win an independent inquiry into the conduct of the Iraq war will be launched today by a cross-party group of MPs, including Kenneth Clarke, the former chancellor of the exchequer and failed Tory leadership contender.

A Commons motion, signed by MPs from all three main parties plus Welsh and Scottish Nationalists, will be tabled to test the water for the creation of a seven-strong committee of privy councillors to prevent what one MP called "other botched military interventions in Iran or elsewhere". It is hoped to attract MPs from all parties to force action.
Just in case Ole Tony Blair gets any funny ideas about Mullahs on his way out of power...

Tags: , War, Blair, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 10:00 PM  
Focus on your mama
CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has filed an IRS complaint against Focus on the Family for interfering in the 2004 election:
“Mr. Dobson’s egregious violations of IRS code demand an investigation into his improper activities that break both the spirit and the letter of IRS law,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today.

Recently, the IRS has actively pursued investigations against several perceived liberal groups. The IRS targeted the NAACP’s chairman Julian Bond for a July 2004 speech in which he criticized the Bush administration's policies on civil rights and the war in Iraq. Additionally, the IRS has threatened to revoke the tax-exempt status of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California because of an antiwar sermon there during the 2004 presidential election. In his sermon "If Jesus Debated Sen. Kerry and President Bush," the Rector Emeritus of the church, George Regas, never encouraged parishoners to vote for one candidate over another, but only to vote their deepest values.

Sloan continued, “The IRS has established a track record of scrutinizing organizations, in particular liberal ones, that have purportedly violated electioneering regulations. We hope that the IRS will fully investigate Focus on the Family activities as vigorously as it has targeted those of progressive organizations.”

You go girl...

Tags: , politics, href="">Dobson, church, elections, ethics
posted by JReid @ 4:07 PM  
Iraq hostage videos surface

A video showing the four peace activists taken hostage in Iraq is out and on Al-Jazeera. Separately, video of a German woman, Susanne Osthoff, also apparently taken hostage in Iraq was sent to a German television station, prompting high level meetings of the new Merkel cabinet (still of what is claimed to be Osthoff and possibly her driver below).

According to AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Al-Jazeera broadcast an insurgent video Tuesday showing four peace activists taken hostage in Iraq, with a previously unknown group claiming responsibility for the kidnappings.

The Swords of Righteousness Brigade said the four were spies working undercover as Christian peace activists, Al-Jazeera said. The station said it could not verify any of the information on the tape.

The aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams has confirmed that four of its members were taken hostage Saturday.

German TV broadcast photos Tuesday showing a blindfolded German woman being led away by armed captors in Iraq. Six Iranian pilgrims, meanwhile, were abducted by gunmen north of Baghdad.

The pictures of Susanne Osthoff were taken from a video in which her captors demanded that Germany stop any dealings with Iraq's government, according to Germany's ARD television. Germany has ruled out sending troops to Iraq and opposed the U.S.-led war.

Two U.S. soldiers assigned to Task Force Baghdad were killed when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb north of the capital, the U.S. command said. At least 2,109 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Christian activists include one Briton, two Canadians and an American. The Briton has been ID'd as 74-year-old Norman Kember. More on that angle of the story from the BBC.

Separately there are reports that two female Iranian pilgrims also kidnapped in Iraq have been freed. I believe two male pilgrims are still being held...

Also, it's now confirmed that the U.S. will seek Iran's help with security in Iraq. Lovely.

Update: All four Christian aid worker hostages have now been identified. They are: 74-year-old Kember of the U.K. (the older gentleman in the picture at top), "Tom Fox, 54, of Clearbrook, Va.; James Loney, 41, of Toronto; and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, a Canadian electrical engineer." (Source: AP)

More on the peace group from the Jawans, and according to MPJ, the organization is blaminig the U.S. and U.K. for the hostage grab...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 3:48 PM  
Assassination stories
Was Syria really involved in the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon as the U.S. has claimed? Maybe, maybe not... a witness who helped make that case now says he was bribed...

Tags: Tags: , Middle East
posted by JReid @ 1:48 AM  
A disturbing picture of 'the new Iraq'
From today's NYT:

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 28 - As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

Bayan Jabr, the interior minister, and other government officials denied any government involvement, saying the killings were carried out by men driving stolen police cars and wearing police and army uniforms purchased at local markets. "Impossible! Impossible!" Mr. Jabr said. "That is totally wrong; it's only rumors; it is nonsense."

Many of the claims of killings and abductions have been substantiated by at least one human rights organization working here - which asked not to be identified because of safety concerns - and documented by Sunni leaders working in their communities.

American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge.

But they also say it is difficult, in an already murky guerrilla war, to determine exactly who is responsible. The American officials insisted on anonymity because they were working closely with the Iraqi government and did not want to criticize it publicly.

The widespread conviction among Sunnis that the Shiite-led government is bent on waging a campaign of terror against them is sending waves of fear through the community, just as Iraqi and American officials are trying to coax the Sunnis to take part in nationwide elections on Dec. 15.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 1:37 AM  
Plamegate update
The Jim Vandehei piece teased on "Countdown" last night is up. Reports Hei:
The reporter for Time magazine who recently agreed to testify in the CIA leak case is central to White House senior adviser Karl Rove's effort to fend off an indictment in the two-year-old investigation, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Viveca Novak, who has written intermittently about the leak case for Time, has been asked to provide sworn testimony to Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in the next few weeks after Rove attorney Robert Luskin told Fitzgerald about a conversation he had with her, the two sources said.

It's not clear why Luskin believes Novak's deposition could help Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, who remains under investigation into whether he provided false statements in the case. But a person familiar with the matter said Luskin cited his conversations with Novak in persuading Fitzgerald not to indict Rove in late October, when the prosecutor brought perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges against Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"This is what caused [Fitzgerald] to hold off on charging" Rove, the source said. But another person familiar with the conversations said they did not appear to significantly alter the case.
But says Raw:
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will present evidence to a second grand jury this week in his two year-old investigation into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson that could lead to a criminal indictment being handed up against Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, attorneys close to the investigation say.

Rove has remained under intense scrutiny because of inconsistencies in his testimony to investigators and the grand jury. According to sources, Rove withheld crucial facts on three separate occasions and allegedly misled investigators about conversations he had with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

The attorneys say that Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. As Rove’s assistant, Ralston screened Rove’s calls.

But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.
Curiouser and curiouser...

Tags: , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:31 AM  
Dangerous thinking
Steve Clemons uncovers neocon Frank Gaffney's Sept 2003 call to bomb Al-Jazeera... Plus, Larry Wilkerson breaks down the torture cabal ... By the way, Charles Krauthammer joins Harvard's Prof. Alan Derschowitz in coming out for torture...

The bad news bombs
Secrets, lies and bombing Al-Jazeera
Memogate II

Tags: , Middle East, War, Al-Jazeera
posted by JReid @ 1:16 AM  
Culture of corruption watch: It was all about cash
Forget the high-minded ideals of the Republican Revolution of the mid-1990s. It's more and more apparent every day that it was 100 percent about getting rich... or richer...

Two items from Capitol Hill Blue: Buying Congress, and a peek inside the DeLay strategy for good livin'... Plus, WaPo on the possible backlash a-comin' at the polls...


Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 1:04 AM  
Flashback: Who are you calling a coward?
From Capitol Hill Blue, August 1, 2002:
In an odd twist of roles, the civilians in the Bush administration want to go into Iraq with guns blazing while military officers advise restraint.

“It really is odd,” says one Pentagon military planner. “We want to weigh our options carefully and the political types over at the White House want to go in and bomb Saddam out of existence.”

Leading the charge to invade Iraq are Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but military leaders from the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down are urging the administration to slow down and tone down the strong rhetoric.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is also urging restraint.

“This is not the time,” Powell told Bush and Cheney this week. “We are not ready.”

But Cheney and Rumsfeld are urging Bush to approve military action, saying every day of delay increases the odds of another terrorist attack against the U.S. Recent intelligence reports place Al Queda leaders operating in Iraq with training camps and funding from Saddam Hussein.

“The place is a goddamned time bomb,” an angry Rumsfeld told his staff in a recent meeting.

The differences over Iraq mark the sharpest disagreements among senior staff since the Bush administration took office with the Cheney and Rumsfeld calling those who oppose military actions “cowards.”

“It’s getting nasty,” says one White House source. “Meetings over Iraq now turn into shouting matches.”
The more things change...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 12:58 AM  
Monday, November 28, 2005
The theory that dare not speak its name
Justin Raimondo breaks down in detail, the Libby/neocon conspiracy theory that blogger Mickey Kaus has called "so radioactive that nobody wants to talk about it." The bottom line: did American interests drive the Iraq war, or was it the interests of some other country? Hint: it's a country we're not supposed to mention... I'll just let you read it for yourself.

And then read this and this (on the latter link, some of the suppositions seem a bit widely drawn, but read through it anyway) and keep these questions in mind:

1. Since everyone acknowledged even before the war that even if he did have WMD and even God forbid nuclear weapons, Saddam Hussein's Iraq lacked the long range missile delivery systems to use such weapons outside the region, let alone thousands of miles away in the United States. So who would he target? Maybe Kuwait? Unlikely, since what he wanted was to annex Kuwait, not destroy it and its oil fields. What about Iran, or Israel, which has an unanswered nuclear deterrent (while Iran is widely thought to be building one)? If Saddam was indeed interested in acquiring WMD, isn't it more logical that he wanted them in order to increase his leverage within the region?

2. Which country or countries had the strongest motivation to get Saddam out of power in Iraq? I'd say Iran, which is now reaping the benefits of the Iraqi Shia ascendance, dep, and Israel, which has long cherished the notion of getting rid of Saddam in order to further expand its leverage in the region, not to mention removing a known supporter and financier of Palestinian suicide bombers. Add to that the fact that many neocons really do believe that "the road to Mideast peace goes through Baghdad, not Jerusalem..." Removing one of the Palestinians' most vocal and belligerent friends would have been in Israel's strategic interest.

3. Would those countries -- Iran and Israel -- ever work toward a common goal, since they are avowed enemies? Well, they have before, during Iran Contra, which was brokered by an American, Michael ledeen on the Israeli side, and an Iraqi with such close ties to Iran that he is thought to be an Iranian spy: Ahmad Chalabi. (BTW the U.S. is now preparing to swallow our pride and ask the Iranians for help in securing Iraq, just like Chalabi forecast during his U.S. visit...)

4. Where did the forged Niger documents come from? Who would benefit from producing or procuring them?

Remember Pat Buchanan saying that the neocons had served the untutored president a "pre-cooked meal" in the invasion of Iraq after 9/11. Read the Raimondo piece and the others and then think about it. (BTW, Christopher Hitchens supports the war but is an avowed foe of the Israeli state. What gives? Hitchens isn't a neocon, but rather it seems is what they were before they became Republicans: a Trotskyite ultra-leftist who believes in permanent proletarian revolution, in this case, on the part of his friends the Kurds and their fiercely secularist, leftist intelligentsia...)

President Bush is often accused by the right of selling out the interests of American workers to Mexican immigration. Could he also have sold out American interests to the Likud? Anything is possible, though few besides Chris Matthews, Buchanan, Mickey Kaus (whom I believe is Jewish himself) and a handful of other public figures will even bring up the topic, for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic...


Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Israel
posted by JReid @ 10:50 PM  
Coalition for responsive blogging: the curse of Black's Perle
Per request, more on the connec between Richard Perle and Lord Conrad Black, and remember this report in March? Perle has long faced the prospect of being dragged into the Hollinger legal/financial meltdown. That's why he and other notable members of the Hollinger board, like Chilean death squad expert Henry Kissinger, departed that board recently. Neither of these guys wants to be deposed by an actual attorney -- not ever ever ever. In case you're not up on te Hollinger thing, here's the rub:

Hollinger International's board ousted Black as chief executive in November 2003, sued him and stripped him of the chairman title the following January. Hollinger International sued Black to recover more than $425 million that it accused him and his associates of stealing to finance lavish lifestyles.

Black was also sued by his holding company, Hollinger Inc., and by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was charged Nov. 17 with mail fraud and wire fraud in an 11-count indictment.
The members of the board, including the dearly departed Kissinger and Perle, are also being sued. To add more tin foil to the fire, Black's former company, Hollinger, used to own the Chicago Sun-Times, where the Prince of Darkness, Robert Novak lives, plus the conservative UK Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post. It's kind of a European Fox News, but for print...

More on Lord Black here. And giddy gloating from Justin Raimondo of here.


Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 10:30 PM  
Culture of Corruption Watch: Down goes the Duke
From AP:

SAN DIEGO - Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty to graft and tearfully resigned Monday, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors.
And from Fox News 6 in San Diego:

"I'm resigning from the House of Representatives because I've compromised the trust of my constituents," he said. "The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office.

"I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, (and) most importantly, the trust of my friends and family," he said, his voice wavering.

The decorated Vietnam War Navy fighter pilot, who was first elected in 1990, indicated that he made the decision "some time ago" to plead guilty and begin serving a prison term.

"(As) I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends," he said. "And I will."

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said Cunningham enriched himself through his position, and violated the trust of the voters who put him there.

"It is a crime of really the worst magnitude," Lam said.

The evidence that Cunningham received bribes from four unnamed and uncharged co-conspirators between 2000 and 2005 was "fairly overwhelming," she said.

The co-conspirators were identified in the plea agreement as the majority owners of two defense contractors, an individual who controlled a financial company in New York state and the president of a New York mortgage firm.

The bribes were paid in a variety of methods, including checks totaling more than $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, boat repairs, moving costs and vacation expenses.

In return, Cunningham worked to influence the awarding of tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts, Lam said.

The MSM isn't mentioning it, but much of this case of old fashioned political corruption was dragged out into the sunlight in large part by a blogger, pajamaporter style. Joshua Micah Marshall, you got your man. And guess who else TPM says was on the gravy train of one of the Duke's kickbackers, defense contractor Mitchell Wade:

Why good old Katherine Harris, running to replace (snicker) Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. Apparently, Kathy isn't above a little hardball fundraising her damn self...

Will Harris get dragged into finance scandal?
Sun & Weekly Herald

Eleven years ago, employees of the Riscorp insurance company made campaign contributions totaling $20,292 to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. It was later discovered the employees were illegally reimbursed for their donations. Five Riscorp executives pleaded guilty to a range of charges and the company's president served a brief prison sentence. Harris denied any knowledge of the scheme, was never charged with any crime and was cleared of wrongdoing by a state investigator.

Fast-forward to 2004, when 16 employees of a company called MZM Inc. sent checks for $2,000 to her campaign -- 14 of them on the same day. The $32,000 was in addition to $10,000 the company's political action committee gave to her campaign. Last week, three employees told the San Diego Union-Tribune they were forced by the company's chief executive to donate to the firm's political action committee.

The company, MZM Inc., is a defense contractor that has received millions of dollars in classified defense contracts in recent years. Harris is taking a lay-low approach. Her congressional office is referring reporters to her campaign consultant, Adam Goodman, who did not return calls Monday seeking comment. ...

Again, what was that Republican Revolution about again? Kaching...

Update: ThinkProgress has the skinny on MZM's interesting ties to the White House:
[O]ver the past three years it [MZM Inc.] was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified “intelligence services.”

Why did the White House hire MZM, a “defense and intelligence firm,” to buy office furniture for the White House?

Good question...


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posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
Run for the border
I wonder if the righties are buying Dubya's "immigration reform"/seize the news cycle gambit... hm, let's see ...


Immigration gadfly Michelle Malkin is unmoved (I swear that girl would deport herself if she could...) while her man John Mann sums it up like this:

TRUE Enforcement is the antidote to the Bush Administration’s Big Lie that another massive illegal alien non-deportation scheme and foreign worker importation program is necessary to make America more secure. This propaganda was peddled most recently by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff to the Senate Judiciary committee and to his own employees. In contrast, TRUE Enforcement looks like a knight in shining armor.

But what is "true" immigration law enforcement anyway?

Answer: Real immigration law enforcement is arresting aliens, deporting them, and making sure they stay out.

That means summary removal, not perpetual federal litigation. That means officers with guns removing as many interlopers and criminals as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Damn! Malkin better keep her foreign parents away from that guy...

More reax:

Freewheelin' Joe is angry at Bush today...
The FReeper Big BRother actually locked this thread to stop the anti-Bush no-nos ... including this picture in his post will probably get ole Travis McGee banned...

...they don't allow that kind of thing on the FReep you know...

The really sad thin about it is that Bush really has nowhere to go on the immigration issue. He's got McCain nipping at his heels and, being from a border state, pushing for some form of amnesty (McCain is co-sponsoring a bill with Ted Kennedy of all people, which would give illegal immigrants visas for up to six years, after which they'd have to get straight or get deported. Not sure how you'd enforce that, so in other words, amnesty...) He's got Ken Mehlman sto;; trying to build a GOP rainbow coalition based mainly on a cobbled together coalition of angry white guys, right wing Black ministers, Cubans who don't get that Fidel is going to die of natural causes, still running Cuba, plus socially conservative, Catholic Mexicans who think it's cool that Dubya can sort of speak Spanish. He's got the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and his corporate farm cronies practically demanding cheap slave labor from Mexico and other parts south. And then he's got the Pat Buchanan/populist right creaming him on his "failure to live up to his Constitutional duty to protect the United States from invasion." All of this just wrecks what was supposed to be a signature issue for him -- his appeal to Hispanics (which is really his appeal to Cuban-Americans, but there you go.)

So what to do? Bush can't satisfy all of his base on this one, and as a result, he's pissing the whole base off. I almost feel sorry for the guy. Almost.

Update: Bush capped off his Mexicali junket with a speech on his desire for a "new" immigration policy. Unfortunately it sounds a lot like the old one:

He said the program he's proposing would create a legal way to match foreign workers with American employers to fill jobs that Americans will not do.

What sorts of jobs would that be? Restaurant workers? Construction workers? Delivery drivers? Those kinds of jobs often pay crappy wages, mostly because illegal labor has driven down the price of labor to the point where Americans can't afford to take them. I'm not saying they were necessarily illegal, but every single one of the workers who build my house was a non-English speaker from South or Central America. Not one anglo or Black construction worker in the bunch. Didn't American men used to feed entire families on construction jobs? Or Mr. Bush must mean those killer jobs picking fruits and vegetables -- the agrucultural labor jobs that helped build this country because of free labor (slaves), cheap immigrant labor, and now, slave wage-like illegal immigrant labor. Mr. Bush can't do much about that as long as the business lobby tells him not to...

And what about the subject of the "security" in border security? Couldn't, say, a terrorist just sneak across the border the way even Mexican teenagers do? One would think so. Bush's balancing act just gets hairier and hairier...

Update 2: Human Events reports that give 'em Hell Harry's" has called on President Bush to "stand up to the right wing" on immigration. And according to the same article, the White House used to treat poor Tom Tancredo like a crazy auntie (if they're not still treating him that way, they're in more trouble than I thought...)

Update 3: Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

La Nueva Orleans

NO MATTER WHAT ALL the politicians and activists want, African Americans and impoverished white Cajuns will not be first in line to rebuild the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Latino immigrants, many of them undocumented, will. And when they're done, they're going to stay, making New Orleans look like Los Angeles. It's the federal government that will have made the transformation possible, further exposing the hollowness of the immigration debate.

President Bush has promised that Washington will pick up the greater part of the cost for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." To that end, he suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act that would have required government contractors to pay prevailing wages in Louisiana and devastated parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. And the Department of Homeland Security has temporarily suspended sanctioning employers who hire workers who cannot document their citizenship. The idea is to benefit Americans who may have lost everything in the hurricane, but the main effect will be to let contractors hire illegal immigrants.


Mexican and Central American laborers are already arriving in southeastern Louisiana. One construction firm based in Metairie, La., sent a foreman to Houston to round up 150 workers willing to do cleanup work for $15 an hour, more than twice their wages in Texas. The men — most of whom are undocumented, according to news accounts — live outside New Orleans in mobile homes without running water and electricity. The foreman expects them to stay "until there's no more work" but "there's going to be a lot of construction jobs for a really long time."

Because they are young and lack roots in the United States, many recent migrants are ideal for the explosion of construction jobs to come. Those living in the U.S. will relocate to the Gulf Coast, while others will come from south of the border. Most will not intend to stay where their new jobs are, but the longer the jobs last, the more likely they will settle permanently. One recent poll of New Orleans evacuees living in Houston emergency shelters found that fewer than half intend to return home. In part, their places will be taken by the migrant workers. Former President Clinton recently hinted as much on NBC's "Meet the Press" when he said New Orleans will be resettled with a different population.

Newsweek concurs... Fred Barnes: El Grande Olde Party?

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posted by JReid @ 5:51 PM  
The next shoe to drop?
Even with the war on the table, the really big scandal of the Bush II years might yet be the broad-based ethics probe centering around Jack Abramoff and former publisher Conrad Black, both of whom are heavily tied into the architects of the Republican Revolution of the mid-1990s (people like Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist), begging the question: was the revolution really about ideals, or was it about raking in huge amounts of cash...? RawStory has the WSJ particulars on the Abramoff scandal, which is now apparently sucking four GOP congressmen into the vortex: Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, Rep. John Doolittle from California, Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana and our old friend Tom DeLay.

U.S. News and World Report says the Abramoff scandal could suck in as many as a dozen members of Congres who are being "scrutinized by a small army of federal prosecutors and FBI agents..."

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has more on the hit on Gus Boulis, the Fort Lauderdale tycoon who became mixed up with Abramoff and who lost his SunCruz Casino business to the lobbyist with the help of Congressman Ney...

More on Conrad Black, neocon, here...

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posted by JReid @ 1:33 PM  
Memogate II
A British MP says he'd go to jail to leak the Bush/Al-Jazeera memo. Tony Blair is already on the defensive over his government's decision to play hardball against anyone who leaks the memo, with the Independent asking: So what have they got to hide? and his approval ratings sinking lower than President Bush's.

Good question. Expect that memo to eventually hit the web...

Update: Tony Blair now says he knew nothing of any Bush administration plan to bomb Al-Jazeera.


Tags: , Bush, War, Al-Jazeera, Tony Blair

posted by JReid @ 1:12 PM  
Die hard for the cause
First the million-dollar bounty, now the movie. Bruce Willis is set to make a war pic depicting the heroic exploits of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Interesting quote, though, and I think subtle and accurate:

The 50-year-old actor said he was in talks about a film of "these guys who do what they are asked to for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom".

That about sums it up. U.S. sentiment is one thing, the sentiment of the guys fighting over there is another. When you talk to them, they focus on the day to day successes and their belief in what they're doing. Even the ones who know that the premise of the war was faulty (or even the ones who'll admit it was cooked up) believe in what they're doing overall for the Iraqi people. That might be the most painful thing about this war -- it exploited, twisted and wasted the United States military's basic desire to do good around the world. I like Bruce Willis (despite his politics) and I'll probably see the flick (it's by the same guy who directed "Armageddon," which I loved). But if it devolves into a gauzy, pro-Bush love-fest, or even includes one scene of Dubya strutting around on an aircraft carrier, I'm outta there, no matter how much the tickets cost... I enjoy laughing at Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bush's other Monicas on the radio for a little while every day, but I ain't sitting through two hours of that crap...

...On a totally unrelated note: outside looking in, I can sooooo see why Bruce and Demi ultimately couldn't get on...

Tags: , movies, War, Bruce Willis
posted by JReid @ 1:02 PM  
Macho men for a peaceful tomorrow
Newsweek has the scoop on the new macho men of the Democratic Party: war veterans. Interesting that the Dems have always seemed to have more of them -- especially combat veterans who know what war is like up close -- logically, that's why Dems are more dovish, while Republicans, who are more into planning and launching, rather than fighting or having their kids fight, wars, are more gung-ho.

And did you know? Country singer Merle Haggard joins the "John Wayne" Murtha gang on Iraq.

Forget Cindy Sheehan. She made her impact in the beginning, but the central question of the war has shifted away from whether or not it should be "stopped." We are getting out of Iraq, neocons be damned. It's just a matter of how, and how quickly. History seems to have already passed judgment on the Bush team's dishonest selling of the war, no matter how hard Fox News and others try to rewrite it in real time. The Bushies want out just as much as Ms. Sheehan does. They just want out in a way that will salvage what's left of Mr. Bush's presidency.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Democrats
posted by JReid @ 12:39 PM  
EU may suspend members housing secret prisons, and other lowlights from the War on Terror
From the wires today:

BERLIN Nov 28, 2005 — The United States has told the European Union it needs more time to respond to media reports that the CIA set up secret jails in some European nations and transported terror suspects by covert flights, the top EU justice official said Monday.

Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini also warned that that any of the 25 bloc nations found to have operated secret CIA prisons could have their EU voting rights suspended.

Interesting that the U.S. seems to be stalling for time on this inquiry, isn't it? Why the delay tactics? To find a way to cover allies, perhaps, or to find a way to cover themselves...? Here's the rub:

... Frattini said suspending EU voting rights would be justified under the EU treaty which stipulates that the bloc is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and that a persistent breach of these principles can be punished.

Clandestine detention centers would violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
How is it that the United States finds itself wallowing among the ranks of the world's human rights violators? And why is the right in this country still living outside the bounds of reality (or shame) on this? Maybe ask Laura Ingraham next time you run into her.

Ingraham spent this morning arguing that the president and his team never made the case that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with al-Qaida or 9/11, using the vanishing newsman Charlie Gibson as her wing-man... Yes, Laura, Charlie and other delusionals on the right, President Bush has conceded there's no link, but only after he and his possee spent months building public support for the war on just that basis (here are a few administration statements for your perusal)... to the point where by September of 2003, 70 percent of Americans believed there was a link. (Hell, Stephen Hayes and the other neocons still believe it, despite ample evidence to the contrary...) And yet, the righties have gone whole hog on this new track: pretending that in fact, the administration never made such a case.

Meanwhile, is that Saddam Hussein getting all feisty with the judge at his on-again, off-again trial in Iraq? Oh no he didn't!

Tags: , Middle East, War, CIA, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
The Stepford Newscast
I can just picture Matt, Katie and their jolly weatherman friend staring blankly into the camera, reading canned float marketing script and pretending it's all just not happening, while the M&M float was careening into the pannicking crowd below. Way to elevate the news business, guys...

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posted by JReid @ 12:07 PM  
Well, vacation's over... how are things going in Iraq?
Update: The Saddam Hussein & Friends trial is off again...

Original post 12:02 a.m.: Four Western aid workers kidnapped in Iraq... British peace activist among those abducted...
Sy Hersh is reporting that the U.S. may substitute air power for ground troops and that the generals are 'worried' about the plan ...
Saddam Hussein's trial will resume after the killing of two defense lawyers sparked delays ... (former AG and war critic Ramsay Clark is joining the defense team...)
Eight people were nabbed in an alleged plot to kill the Saddam trial judge.
Two U.S. politicians were injured after their vehicle flipped over...
Private security crews have become the latest 'feared element' in Iraq.
Ex-Iraqi P.M. Iyad Allawi claims that human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam ... althought the current president begs to differ ...
The family of a military ethicist who apparently commited suicide after volunteering to go to Iraq are raising questions about his death ... .

Damn... how about inside the White House?

All disquiet on West Wing front
Aides: W must right ship


WASHINGTON - Embattled White House aides have begun to believe President Bush must take the reins personally if his evaporating agenda and credibility are to be salvaged.

"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.

So aides have circled the wagons as Bush's woes mount, partly hoping they can sell the President on a December blitz of media interviews to help turn the tide.

"The staff basically still has an unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing," a close Bush confidant said. "They're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

If you caught MTP today you know that David Broder nailed it -- the president has to right his policy or continue to leave allies like Sen. Warner of Virginia to twist in the wind, defending indefensible policies on television... The NYDN add this zinger:
The problem for Bush, advisers admit, is that the ongoing leak probe reinforces allegations that the White House allegedly hyped prewar intelligence to justify a war most Americans no longer support.

So far Team Bush doesn't know how to separate the two issues, and compounding its woes is the fact that aides aren't talking to each other as much as they once did.

Gone from the schedule are weekly cholesterol-laden breakfasts at Rove's home where top Bush hands discussed strategy. Also missing are Sunday "message meetings" with outside thinkers like GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman, campaign pollster Matthew Dowd and superlobbyist Ed Gillespie.

A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."
And yes, it is a river in Egypt...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 12:02 PM  
Drudge is reporting that CNN has fired the operator who berated a put-on caller who recorded the convo as part of the latest media "gotcha!" over the Xing of the Vice President. Says Drudge, elevating the once-invisible Turner Broadcasting Co. call center operator to the status of full-blown CNN staffer in the process:

A CNN switchboard operator was fired over the holiday -- after the operator claimed the 'X' placed over Vice President's Dick Cheney's face was "free speech!"

"We did it just to make a point. Tell them to stop lying, Bush and Cheney," the CNN operator said to a caller. "Bring our soldiers home."

The caller initially phoned the network to complain about the all-news channel flashing an "X' over Cheney as he gave an address live from Washington.

"Was it not freedom of speech? Yes or No?" the CNN operator explained.

"If you don't like it, don't watch."

Laurie Goldberg, Senior Vice President for Public Relations with CNN, said in a release:

"A Turner switchboard operator was fired today after we were alerted to a conversation the operator had with a caller in which the operator lost his temper and expressed his personal views -- behavior that was totally inappropriate. His comments did not reflect the views of CNN. We are reaching out to the caller and expressing our deep regret to her and apologizing that she did not get the courtesy entitled to her. "
So does that prove that the switcher glitch was really a vast MSM conspiracy to embarrass the vice president for several excruciating nanoseconds? Why yes it does, says Pardon My English, refusing to relinquish the tin foil hat:
While it appeared that the infamous 'X' that appeared over Vice President Cheney's face on CNN was just a "glitch," and even though many conservatives even conceded that it must have been so, I always maintained that the 'X' was never a glitch, never a computer error. Today, it appears as though that assumption is looking more and more accurate, as a CNN operator claimed it was "free speech" and they "did it just to make a point." ...

...CNN came back with some damage control and fired the switchboard operator for explaining the apparent truth behind the 'X' so as to cover the ass of CNN.
Oh Pardon, Pardon, Pardon... isn't that a bit like blaming "Steve," the call center guy in Kuala Lampur for his shoddy excuses for Dell's rotten third quarter? Have some more turkey leftovers and forget about this story. It's so pre-Black Friday...


Tags: , Media, Cheney

posted by JReid @ 12:01 AM  
Sunday, November 27, 2005
... Day four of the Thanksgiving break from all things serious, and I'll just sum up the leftover happenings in two words: turkey soup. It's the bomb...
posted by JReid @ 11:50 PM  
Thursday, November 24, 2005
The Thanksgiving Celebrity Minute
I'm not going to be blogging today ... But I just had to give you this:

...That woman truly needs Jesus. And how on earth did Mariah Carey get beat by Tom Cruise for tackiest celebrity? (Same way she got whupped at the AMAs after being one of the few pop stars to show up, maybe? I don't know, I didn't watch...) Okay, actually, I think Cruise deserves the honor. But she's close! Other tacky honorable mentions that should have been:
  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (tackiest man stealer, edging out Julia Roberts... and tackiest ex, for the pitiful attempt to say he wasn't dating Jolie before the divorce. But the duo actually win the tackiest of the tacky award for exploiting the world's poor as a way to get positive ink for their home wrecking romance...)
  • 50 Cent (for tackiest book project. Hip-hop novelas. Give me a break! ...and for having his shirt whipped off by a video vixen in the "Candy Shop" video. Tacky and just a little bit stripper-camp for you, Fitty...)
  • T.O. (for failing to remember that ultimately, everyone's dispensible...)
  • Michael Jackson (for moving to Bahrain, dressing up in a burka and getting caught in the ladies toilet, for blaming the Jews -- rather than his own tackiness -- for his money problems, for those tacky come-ons to pre-adolescent boys, for his last three albums, and for just general tackiosity...)

and the number one tacky people of all time? You guessed it:

Seems Briney may soon be helping Broadway to reach tacky Nirvana ("Cats" can't do it alone forever...) Thanks Brit 'n Kev... thanks for keeping tacky in business, even on a holiday.

Gobble gobble!

Tags: , Entertainment, Music, Television, News, gossip
posted by JReid @ 12:51 AM  
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
This just in
Iran pledges $1 bln loan, security help to Iraq - Reuters
Rice Says Iraq Troop Levels May Draw Down - AP
Senior Iraq Sunni Leader Slain in Home AP
Protesters Arrested Near Bush's Ranch - AP
Jobless Claims Surge, Market Seeks Traction - AP
posted by JReid @ 1:17 PM  
X-treme makeover: Dick Cheney edition
Those wacky pajama people are at it again! They're hunting CNN like a three-legged dear in a man-made clearing, and they think they've got the "liberal media" bastards in their sights! The proof(!)... that a chyron glitch that X'ed out the vice president for about a tenth of a second (you'd think it was up for an hour...) was actually a sinister plot to send a suspiciously subtle, war on terror undermining message to the American people about their vice leader of the free world? A recording of a supposed call to the CNN help desk made by a group calling themselves "an international marketing and consulting company" otherwise known as "Team Hollywood" and obtained by the pajama sleuth Bill Quick of the Daily Pundit (and author of the "SHOCKING CONSPIRACY NOVEL" Inner Circles...!) Hat tip to Wizbang, which also posts an easy-access recording, in which, according to Wizbanger Kevin Aylward:
"The poor schlub answering the phone attempts to engage the caller in a rhetorical argument about whether CNN's placing a large letter "X" over Vice President Dick Cheney during a speech Monday was free speech. ... Getting nowhere with that approach he finally just confesses his true feelings."

... which are that Bush and Cheney are liars ... So according to Quick, the $8, maybe $9 an hour call center guy (whom Aylward refers to as a "CNN minion" -- I'll bet he's not minioning around with Soledad O'Brien in the CNN cafeteria...) speaks for the network, and his poor phone manner is proof of the larger coonspiracy! Here's hoping you sell a lot of copies of that audiobook, Quick old boy.

As for Team Hollywood, they put out a press release accusing CNN of X'ing Cheney intentionally and claiming they've got legions of followers ready to boycott the network at any moment now (by continuing to exclusively watch Fox News, no doubt). Perhaps they should borrow one of those tech experts the PJs used to sleuth the Dan Rather memo story, and have that person explain to them the meaning of the word "key frame..."

Update: At least one wingblogger who's been wasting precious hours sleuthing the story now thinks the tapes may not be authentic... the mystery deepens...!!!

Uppdate 2: Jessu, Mary and Joseph ... THE Preska of Team Hollywood SPEAKS!!! ... and she says oh no, it's no hoax... Go pajama people ... GO!!!

Other PJP's on the case: Michelle Malkin (mostly glitching), Six Meat Buffet (with more suggestions on attractive face coverings for the veep), Junkyard Blog (raining on the pajama parade)...


Tags: , Media, Cheney

posted by JReid @ 11:15 AM  
Upgrade-Downgrade: pre-holiday political edition

Barack Obama calling on the Bush administration to admit its mistakes and throwing his immense popularity behind the growing calls for troop reductions in Iraq: upgrade!

Jean Schmidt looking for a way out of the doghouse and finding only a raggedy chew toy: downgrade... !

Happy holidays everybody! (Schmit photo credit: Cincinnati Enquirer)


Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt, Obama

posted by JReid @ 10:37 AM  
Strangely familiar...
Reported in the WaPo today:
Barring any major surprises in Iraq, the Pentagon tentatively plans to reduce the number of U.S. forces there early next year by as many as three combat brigades, from 18 now, but to keep at least one brigade "on call" in Kuwait in case more troops are needed quickly, several senior military officers said.
Hm... where have we heard that before? Ah, yes, Rep. John Murtha's proposed resolution:

Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;

Therefore be it

1) Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in

2) Congress assembled,

3) That:

4) Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is

5) hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable

6) date.

7) Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines

8) shall be deployed in the region.

9) Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq

10) through diplomacy.

And here is the plan put forward by former Reagan administration defense official Larry Korb and Brian Katsulis for the Center for American Progress, entitled "Strategic Redeployment: A progressive plan for Iraq and the Struggle Against Violent Extremists." Among other things, it says the following:
The best answer among bad options is to begin redeployment in January 2006, right after Iraq’s next national elections.

The Bush administration has left us with no better choice. It has become clear that if we still have 140,000 ground troops in Iraq a year from now, we will destroy the all-volunteer Army.1Keeping such a large contingent of troops there will require the Pentagon to send many units back to Iraq for a third time and to activate Reserve and Guard forces a second or third time. Toparaphrase Vietnam-era Army General Maxwell Taylor, while we sent the Army to Iraq to save Iraq, we now have to redeploy the Army to save the Army.

As redeployments begin, the remaining forces in Iraq would focus on our core missions: completing the training of Iraqi forces; improving border security; providing logistical and air support to Iraqi security forces engaged in battles against terrorists and insurgents; serving as advisors to Iraqi units; and tracking down terrorists and insurgent leaders with smaller, more nimble Special Forces units operating jointly with Iraqi units. Strategic Redeployment will enable the United States to operate with a leaner force that is more effective in rooting out the insurgents and terrorist networks.

Strategic Redeployment will also strengthen the Army and minimize the drawbacks of our eventual withdrawal from Iraq. It will also enable us to respond to other emerging threats in the broader battle against violent extremists. Redeployment from Iraq will enable us to prevent other countries from becoming terrorist havens and enable us to address other threats our country faces. Military realignment.

Approximately 140,000 US forces are operating in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom – this overall figure increased slightly in the run-up to Iraq’s October constitutional referendum and will likely increase again as the December national elections approach. Of those troops, about 90,000 active duty forces, 33,000 National Guard, and another 13,000 Reserves forces are deployed in Iraq. In addition to the US troop presence, approximately 24,000 non-US forces from 26 countries support the ongoing operations in Iraq.

At the start of next year, the United States should begin a slow and irreversible drawdown of military forces to make us safer by preserving our all-volunteer Army and refocusing all elements of American power on the real threats our country faces.The redeployment of US forces should take place in two phases. Phase one would take place in 2006, with the drawdown of 80,000 troops by the end of the year, leaving 60,000 US troops in Iraq by December 31, 2006. Phase two would take place in 2007, with most of the US forces departing by the end of 2007.

United States troops would immediately and completely redeploy from urban areas, with Iraqi police, troops, and militias, like the Kurdish pesh merga, taking responsibility for security in these areas. This redeployment from urban areas – which has already begun in places like Najaf and Tikrit – will decrease the number of insurgents motivated by the US occupation. It will also free up the remaining US forces in Iraq to dedicate their efforts in 2007 to high-priority tasks related to our core mission.

Phase two of the drawdown would begin in January 2007. By the end of 2007, the only US military forces in Iraq would be a small Marine contingent to protect the US embassy, a small group of military advisors to the Iraqi Government, and counterterrorist units that works closely with Iraqi security forces. This presence, along with the forces in Kuwait and at sea in the Persian Gulf area will be sufficient to conduct strikes coordinated with Iraqi forces against any terrorist camps and enclaves that may emerge and deal with any major external threats to Iraq. ...
("The General," Wes Clark, has a plan up at his Securing America site, too.) There seems to be a consensus among military experts on this. We need to begin drawing down forces, and we need to leave a much smaller "rapid reaction" force behind, partly in Iraq, mostly in Kuwait. Even the wildest winger surely knows we will be pulling significant numbers of troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later, mostly because of the politics.

Of course, you could go with the John McCain/Bill Kristol "plan" of pouring still more troops into Iraq and hoping for the best... but even the Bushies know that dog won't hunt with the American people, and it's pretty clear that it's too late to get the force structure right. America is leaving Iraq, one way or another. The only question is how, and even that is becoming pretty clear at this stage.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media, Bush, Murtha
posted by JReid @ 10:22 AM  
Picture of the week
Hands down, this is the funniest pic going.

And in all the focus on the lock-in, you might have missed the rest of the story (most of the TV media didn't play the video of what happened before Dubya tried the door and found it wanting):
At the end of a day of meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Chinese officials, Bush held a session with a small group of U.S. reporters and spoke at length about issues like religious freedom, Iraq and the Chinese currency.

The final reporter he called on critiqued Bush's performance earlier in the day when he stood next to Hu in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square to deliver a statement.

"Respectfully, sir -- you know we're always respectful -- in your statement this morning with President Hu, you seemed a little off your game, you seemed to hurry through your statement. There was a lack of enthusiasm. Was something bothering you?" he asked.

"Have you ever heard of jet lag?" Bush responded. "Well, good. That answers your question."

The president then recited a list of things of that he viewed as positive developments from his Beijing meetings, including co-operation on North Korean nuclear disarmament and the ability to have "frank discussions" with his Chinese counterpart.

When the reporter asked for "a very quick follow-up", Bush cut him off by thanking the press corps and telling the reporter "No you may not," as he strode towards a set of double doors leading out of the room.

The only problem was that they were locked.

"I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work," Bush quipped, facing reporters again until an aide rescued him by pointing to him towards the correct door.
Next time, Mr. Bush might want to hold his major announcement presser at the Lock'Em In... At least he's now more likely to have an exit strategy.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 10:00 AM  
Rumsfeld's Thanksgiving wisdom
Courtesy of MikeV at Born at the Crest of Empire:
When the political tensions arise at the dinner table, just remember what Rummy Sez:

"You go to Thanksgiving with the family you have, not the family you wish you had."

There's a picture too. Go check it out. Truer words were never spoken.
posted by JReid @ 1:30 AM  
Color me skeptical...
... about the Padilla indictment. We covered this case a lot when I was at channel six down here in South Florida, and it always struck me as fairly week in terms of substance.

Here you have a 31 year old former Chicago gang banger who moves to South Florida and winds up in trouble, goes to jail in Broward County and converts to Islam, then gets out in 1993 and gets a job at a local Burger King. ... There, he meets his new mentor, who takes him to a mosque, where he supposedly meets other terrorist wannabes. From there, he's supposed to have filled out some sort of job application to become an al-Qaida terrorist or trained to be a terrorist, and with others, inlcuding a Guyanese man named Adnan Shurkrijumah, plotted to set off a "dirty bomb" inside the United States -- something the feds acknowledge he never even began to do. All they had on him was that he supposedly cased some Florida Power & Light buildings with others. No matter -- he was scooped up by John Ashcroft's publicity wagon the summer before the 2002 midterm elections and spirited off to a military prison, where he has languished for three odd years, mainly because the government didn't have anything solid to charge him with.

With a federal appeals court ruling in December 2003 that the president doesn't have the power to seize a U.S. citizen and hold him out of the reach of the courts on U.S. soil, and ordered, more than a year later by a federal judge to either charge Padilla or release him, and facing a supreme test of the president's unilateral ability to hold an American citizen in indefinite limbo simply on a hunch that he might be thinking about doing bad things, the government decides to abort the legal fight and charge him. But they don't charge him with plotting to set off a dirty bomb, or with planning any sort of terror attacks inside the United States. Nope. They charge him with "being part of a "North American support cell" that worked to support violent jihad campaigns in Afghanistan and elsewhere overseas from 1993 to 2001," and for that, they could jail him for life.
It's too bad this didn't go to the Supreme Court. We need to work out at the federal level just how much power we are willing to invest in a president, and whether in a democracy it's wise to give one man (or one woman) the power to imprison a U.S. citizen without charges, and essentially circumvent the legal process to effectively declare them guilty of terrorism simply because the president or his justice department say so. Recall that part of the Ashcroft grand vision was to house people like Padilla and Yasser Hamdi (remember him? He was also a U.S. citizen, though he's since been deported ...) in internment camps... That sounds more like Cuba than America to me. But I guess we'll have to wait for the next "home grown terrorist" disappeared by the Bush administration to have that fight.

The High Court has ruled on some of this stuff, particularly in the Hamdi case, where the 6 in the majority split the difference by saying the president has the right to hold U.S. citizens under the extensive powers granted by Congress under the Patriot Act, but that those held had a right to challenge their detention in court... But Padilla's situation has remained impervious to court rulings, and even the new, Ashcroft-free Justice Department won't give up the ghost. Maybe they're smarting from the fact that not a soul has been indicted for the 9/11 plot, with the exception of clearly mad Mr. Moussaoui, who was in prison when the attacks took place, and whom the government can't even charge with taking part in the plot, but rather with failing to alert FBI investigators to the plot, and so failing to help the government save 3,000 lives. Maybe they're just hanging on to all the presidential prerogatives they can wrestle out of Congress' slippery hands. Or maybe they're just hoping a nice, juicy terror indictment will distract from all the legal spotlights pointed at the GOP...

I guess we'll never know.

Tags: , , , Terrorism, Padilla, enemy combatant,
posted by JReid @ 12:37 AM  
Secrets, lies and bombing Al-Jazeera
If the "Bush's wish to bomb Al-Jazeera" story is so "outlandish," then why did the British arrest this guy for violating the National Secrets Act? And why are they now doing this:

By Kevin Maguire

THE Daily Mirror was yesterday told not to publish further details from a top secret memo, which revealed that President Bush wanted to bomb an Arab TV station.

The gag by the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith came nearly 24 hours after the Mirror informed Downing Street of its intention to reveal how Tony Blair talked Bush out of attacking satellite station al-Jazeera's HQ in friendly Qatar.

No 10 did nothing to stop us publishing our front page exclusive yesterday.

But the Attorney General warned that publication of any further details from the document would be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

He threatened an immediate High Court injunction unless the Mirror confirmed it would not publish further details. We have essentially agreed to comply.
and this:

Editors are threatened over TV station bombing claim
By Rosemary Bennett and Tim Reid

NEWSPAPERS editors were threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act last night if they published details of a conversation between Tony Blair and George Bush in which the President is alleged to have suggested bombing al-Jazeera, the Arab news network. Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, informed newspapers editors including that of The Times that “publication of a document that has been unlawfully disclosed by a Crown servant could be in breach of Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act.”

The Blair Government has obtained court injunctions against newspapers before but it has never prosecuted editors for publishing the contents of leaked documents.

Under a front-page headline “Bush plot to bomb his ally” in the Daily Mirror yesterday, a secret minute of the conversation in April 2004 records the President allegedly suggesting that he would like to bomb the channel’s studios in Doha, capital of Qatar. Richard Wallace, the Editor of the Daily Mirror, said last night: “We made No 10 fully aware of the intention to publish and were given ‘no comment’ officially or unofficially. Suddenly 24 hours later we are threatened under Section 5.”

According to the Mirror, the transcript turned up in the office of former Labour MP Tony Clarke, who lost his Northampton South seat in May.

His former researcher and a Cabinet Office official, accused of breaking the Official Secrets Act, will appear at Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.

Downing Street refused to comment on the matter yesterday, saying that it was sub judice.

Last night Peter Kilfoyle, the Labour MP for Liverpool Walton and a former Defence Minister, tabled an early day motion urging Mr Blair to publish the conversation. He said that what Mr Bush said was a “matter of great interest” to MPs and the public.
You said it Kilfoyle -- and to the American public, too... Just what is in that memorandum? Those must be some pretty damning conversations between Bush and Blair, and no telling which man they're more damaging to. There are really only two choices here: either the memos prove that Bush did indeed mention bombing Al-Jazeera (either for real or in jest, either of which would burn like hellfire thorugh the Arab world) or he didn't but he and Blair discussed things in their April 2004 meeting that are equally, or even more, damaging.

Normally I'd say nobody could be dumb enough to hatch such a plan, but I've long since stopped bothering to lower the bar with this war planning crowd. The bar has officially hit the floor.

Update: The timing of the supposed Bush-Blair convo is interesting: "The Mirror said Bush told Blair at a White House summit on April 16 last year that he wanted to target Al Jazeera. The summit took place as U.S. forces in Iraq were launching a major assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah." Wasn't this the same assault where U.S. forces allegedly dropped white phosphorus as a munition? If one thing is clear, it's that Fallujah was the Alamo, the Fort Sumpter, the Waterloo ... the turning point for this war, for the Iraqi insurgents and for us. Losing Fallujah the first time, and having to try and retake it belatedly after yanking our Marines out, might have been the moment we began to lose Iraq.


Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media, Bush, Al-Jazeera

posted by JReid @ 12:25 AM  
Duck season
This must have just been eating away at Tony Scalia for years -- to hell with the appearance of neutrality -- he's finally letting the partisan dam burst:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the high court did not inject itself into the 2000 presidential election.

Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."

But he said the court had to take the case.

"The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"

The conservative justice, who grew up in Queens, contended there would have been a difficult transition had the court not stepped in.

He also pointed out that studies by news organizations after the election showed Bush still would have won a Florida recount. [N.Y. Post, 11/22/05]
There, now doesn't that feel better? I mean what's the harm in putting aside all prior precedent and inventing a whole new meaning for the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution so you can let your duck hunting buddy and the little rich kid he hangs out with run the country? And never mind that it was the "Bush people" -- not the Gore people -- who took their challenge of the Florida Supreme Court's decision to the Supreme Court. Details, details...! And why pay attention to those pesky Washington Post and Tribune studies that show Gore would have won Florida, when you can just invent murky "studes by news organizations" of your own (he must have meant a show of hands "study" at Fox News Channel...) Well I know I feel better! Come on, soon-to-be former Justice O'Connor! Your turn...! (Photo courtesy of Bartcop)

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:00 AM  
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The uh-ohs keep coming
Murry Waas has another scoop for National Journal. This time, it's the grim but unsurprising news that within 10 days of 9/11, President Bush was told by his intelligence advisors that Iraq had nothing to do with it. Long story short: they pushed ot invade anyway, in part due to Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to the terrorists who took down the Twin Towers...
The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.

One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.

The September 21, 2001, briefing was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

ThinkProgress has more on the claims made by the president and his administration about Iraq and al-Qaida. If you look back at the polls showing support for the Iraq war, they almost exactly mirrored the percentage of Americans who believed that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Using that emotional lever, the administration garnered enough public support, and enough of a hammer over doubters in Congress, to get the war the neocons were demanding.

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, September 11
posted by JReid @ 8:59 PM  
Anger management
Bob Novak threatens to knock someone's teeth out during a plane trip to Hawaii. Lesson: never keep a crazy old right wing codger from his first class seat. ... Well at least he's taking a break from disclosing the identities of covert CIA operatives...

posted by JReid @ 8:53 PM  
Schmidt for brains
Poor Jean Schmidt. Soon to be cut loose like a minnow on a marlin boat by her party after making one of the dumbest fresman mistakes ever in the halls of Congress: calling out a 37 year Marine veteran and implying he's a coward for wanting to redeploy troops from Iraq.

Now it seems "Danny" -- State Rep. Dan Bubp -- the guy from back home whom Schmidt claimed she was quoting when she let loose with "cowards cut and run, Marines never do" -- is throwing her back with the gimpy fish, too. Bubp today denied he ever made the disparaging comment about Jack Murtha, saying Schmidt obviously misconstrued their conversation. (BTW somebody tell Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson that Bubp is not in Iraq, and never has been. He's in Ohio...)

Karen Tabor, spokeswoman for the Ohio House GOP caucus, said Bubp, a Republican from West Union in southwest Ohio, never intended his remarks to be used against another serviceman.

''I don't think he ever made reference to Congressman Murtha with Congresswoman Schmidt,'' Tabor said.

Bubp did not return calls to his office Tuesday seeking comment.

Tabor said Bubp was concerned that the remarks attributed to him by Schmidt, whose district is east of Cincinnati, would be taken as an attack on Murtha and American veterans.

''That's certainly not how they were intended,'' Tabor said. ''The intent of his conversation with Congresswoman Schmidt was to express his concern with immediate withdrawal and the potential to leave (MIA) American forces behind.''

Barry Bennett, Schmidt's chief of staff, said Bubp did not know Schmidt was going to use their conversation as the basis of her House floor comments.
For her part, Schmidt has released a statement saying she regrets that the controversy has "become about her" and "choice of words." (I'll bet she also regrets that SNL didn't even use one of the cute actresses to play her in the parody -- wouldn't have been realistic, honey...) She's also trying the Hail Mary gambit: claiming that ... why ... she didn't know Murtha was a Marine (apparently she wasn't actually in the House chamber when she made her remarks -- she was having an out of body experience from her true post at Arlington National Cemetery, where she diligently keeps the crypts... sorry, couldn't resist...):
Murtha’s resolution was the subject of intense national news coverage because of Murtha’s military background and his 34-year history of supporting American troops while in Congress.

But Schmidt said Tuesday she had not seen any of the news coverage.

“I don’t listen to the news in D.C. because it’s not my news environment,’’ said Schmidt, who conducted the interview with The Enquirer with her chief of staff, Barry Bennett, sitting nearby. “I watch something light-hearted and then I go to bed.’’

Schmidt said she delivered her one-minute floor speech minutes after speaking on the phone to Bubp, who told The Enquirer Monday he did not mention Murtha by name in his talk with Schmidt and would not call a fellow Marine a coward.

“After I talked to Danny, I wrote down some notes and went to the floor to ask for time to speak,’’ said Schmidt, who said she did not run her remarks by staff or Republican legislative leaders before delivering them.
Something lighthearted? Like what? Endless reruns of Michael Jackson's "Thriller???"

Sigh. Really, Jean, you've got to do better than that. No doubt your political career is over, although there's always a shot at that Katherine Harris makeover... Maybe one of your many supporters could cover the cost of the ops! You could even call them "special ops" so you'll feel even closer to the troops...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt
posted by JReid @ 8:12 PM  
The bad news bombs
So the Daily Mirror says Tony Blair had to talk President Bush out of authorizing U.S. forces to bomb the Al-Jazeera television network in Doha, Qatr. Never mind that Qatr is a supposed U.S. ally (and the base for U.S. operations in Iraq during the invasion), and so bombing their official news satellite network would put a strain on the friendship, to say the least... not to mention the effects on the Muslim world given that Jazeera is the most popular news net. Anyway, the story has produced an indictment -- of the civil servant who leaked the secret bombTV memo to the Mirror. It has also produced a denial from the White House. And well they should. This kind of thing could make them look stupid ... ahem...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media, Al-Jazeera
posted by JReid @ 2:06 PM  
Cheney X

Right wing bloggers have better things to do than to follow actual news today: they're busy climbing over themselves and the Drudge Report to pajamacize the X over Dick Cheney's mug on CNN (don't worry control rooom guy, I would have laughed too). File it under: who gives a crap? (Raise your hand if you've ever worked in a newsroom! I have -- it's a switcher, lamebrains, a switcher... there is no conspiracy...)

Besides, Malkin, ACLU stopper, Wizbang Mary Ham and the rest of you tin foil hatters/Cheney back scratchers (he may need you yet, given how quickly he backed down from a fight with "John Wayne" Murtha...) there are much worse things CNN could have done to Dour Dick on-air:

1. Ask him to discuss his Vietnam-era experience...
2. Inquire whether he was entirely forthcoming with his purported boss, the president, about pre-war intelligence...
3. Ask whether he has any remaining financial ties to Halliburton...
4. Ask him why he comes off as such a Dick ... on TV...
5. Ask if he's talked to Scooter Libby lately ...
6. Ask if he's talked to Patrick Fitzgerald lately, and whether he was under oath ...
7. Ask if he's convened his oil industry ... I mean energy task force of late ...
8. Ask him how he sleeps at night knowing he pushed to send other people's children to war despite having avoided service himself ...
9. Superimposed this picture over his grill, rather than the X...
10. Whip out a stethoscope and check him for a heartbeat...

See? All those things would have been much worse than X-ing out Cheney's chagrin for a few seconds...
posted by JReid @ 1:08 PM  
Blog news blackout: Who wants a timetable?
Apparently, it's not just Murtha and a growing group of nervous Republican politicians (plus basically everyone who served under the first George Bush). It's also the Iraqis -- all three factions. (printer version).

So what now, Bush/war supporters? Who exactly are the cowardly curs who want to "cut and run" from Iraq? War heroes, military experts, the top Army general in charge of the war, this Republican veteran of the Reagan administration (whom I spoke to about this as far back as December 2003, and he was saying almost precisely what Hagel and Murtha are saying now: that Iraq can't be "won" by military means, and we need to find a way to save face and get out...) and veterans of previous Republican administrations, including Bush's father's regime?

Laura Ingraham studiously avoided the headline on her show this morning ... Michelle Malkin is too busy trying to pajama sleuth who at CNN put a big old X on Dick Cheney's face ... Scott at Powerline appears to need a booking at the rubber at this point, as he relentlessly flogs the "Atta in Prague" turkey (Iraq DID do 9/11! They DID!!! They DID!!!!!) ... I can always count on my boys at Wizbang to get on a big headline ... but not today...

Despite the right's disinterest in this inconvenient piece of news, this is actually a big story, mostly because of the questions it raises about why Iraqi leaders would call for a timetable now, after having backed off it so many times before (under U.S. pressure). One answer could be Chalabi, who wants to take over the country and so would have every incentive to use shock and awe tactics to break the U.S. grip on the country. Even if all hell broke loose, Chalabi might be banking on being the only "strongman" who can put the egg back together, and he may be telegraphing as much to his former (and current?) patrons in the U.S. Sounds far fetched? Consider who else is urging the Iraqi quasi-government to push for a date certain: Iran, and more specifically, Shiite religious don Ayatollah Khameini:

Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to press for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

On Tuesday, Khamenei also argued it was the US that was to blame for the ongoing violence in Iraq, amid efforts by Talabani to win Iranian help in combatting the fighting ravaging his country.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran holds the American government responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people and all the crimes and assassinations now being committed in Iraq," Khamenei was quoted as saying by official media.

"The presence of foreign troops is damaging for the Iraqis, and the Iraqi government could ask for their departure by proposing a timetable," Khamenei said, adding: "The US and Britain will eventually have to leave Iraq with a bitter experience."

Khamenei told Talabani, the first Iraqi head of state to visit Iran in nearly four decades, his country "would be empowered by the development, security, independence and the empowerment of Iraq". ...
Kind of reminds me of a joke I used to over-do during the run-up to war: what do you call Iraq without Saddam Hussein? Iran.

Update: National Review's The Corner posts two entries on the headline; one in which Rich Lowry dismisses the Iraqi call for a timetable as a sign of comity among the parties but not serious about withdrawal (I thought conservatives trusted "the people" to make their own decisions -- I suppose unless those people are Iraqis living on top of our oil... and a second which emphasizes the supposed stunner that the joint Iraqi communique cautioned against labeling insurgents as terrorists. Well, duh, neocons: the insurgency is against us, the "occupying foreign power." What would you expect the Iraqis to say? The Iraqis are threading the needle: they want to keep the domestic insurgents in the fold for the long run, while singling out the foreign jihadis who blow up weddings...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media, Blogs
posted by JReid @ 12:23 PM  
Happy holidays, bitches
I haven't blogged in a day or so (had a couple of web projects to finish), and this is what I come back to? GM and Ford have got to be the two worst examples of American corporate governance going. Between the recalls (I've had a nasty personal experience with that one, but that's a long, miserable entry for another day) and the layoffs, we're speeding toward the day when America is an almost exclusive consumer of goods, producer of none -- or rather, a waystation for the production and distribution of foreign goods to the spendthrift American consumer.

Talk about a holiday fruitcake under the tree:

Automaker to cut jobs, plants
By Associated Press
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

General Motors Corp., pounded by declining sales and rising health-care costs, said yesterday it will cut more than a quarter of its North American manufacturing jobs and close 12 facilities by 2008. The United Auto Workers called the plan “devastating” and warned it will make negotiations more difficult, but some Wall Street analysts said GM’s actions may not go far enough.

To get production in line with demand, GM will cut 30,000 jobs, which represent 17 percent of GM’s North American hourly and salaried work force of 173,000, and will close nine assembly, stamping and powertrain plants and three parts facilities. GM’s U.S. market share fell to 26.2 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 33 percent a decade ago, the result of increasing competition from Asian rivals. GM lost almost $4 billion in the first nine months of this year.

GM said the plant closings are part of a plan to shave $7 billion off its $42 billion annual bill for operations.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't GM just announce 25,000 job cuts in June? How can a company that once dominated the global automobile market be losing $4 billion? By building cars few people want, that's how (key line above "to get production in line with demand...) Or in the case of Ford, by building crap that catches on fire.

Meanwhile it's not just GM and Ford who are showing their workers the door. GM's former major parts supplier Delphi also announced Nov. 20 that it's laying off 24,000 workers, cutting workers' average hourly pay from $27 an hour to $9 and hour, and ... get this ... paying out bonuses to managers worth $90 million:
Delphi CEO Steve Miller, who received a signing-on hello bonus of $3.7 million last summer, said that he hasn't received union counteroffers to his proposal, which includes reducing wage levels from an average $27 per hour to as low as $9 and slashing up to 24,000 jobs over a three-year period. Motor union UAW President Ron Gettelfinger called Delphi's offer an "insult."

"We are going to try and save as many jobs as we can, but at the current wage rates, we would have to close down all of our US plants," Miller said. Delphi will pay an average US wage of $26.97 an hour in 2005. ...

...Delphi plans to pay almost $90 million in bonuses for 486 top managers as a fair reward if the company emerges from bankruptcy. It also said a recently improved severance program is necessary to keep 21 key officers from leaving.
Well, they can't just let them leave...

Charles Kramer was right in what he said on "Scarborough Country" last night (yes, I watched Scarborough Country...) We've returned to the 19th Century -- becoming a Dickensian nightmare of greedy, cloistered corporate barons and struggling workers -- both of whom vote Republican...

Tags: , News, Business, , , General Motors, Ford, Volvo,
posted by JReid @ 10:17 AM  
Canary Eats Cat (and other upside down headlines)
Blogger Joshua Micah Marshall is hiring ... two journalists, in fact. And they said the blogs wouldn't last. Blogging might still not generally be journalism, but it's hard to argue that it isn't slowly crowding in on journalism's territory.

Tags: Blogging, Weblogs, Blog, Internet, Media, News,
posted by JReid @ 10:14 AM  
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Getting to the truth about Iraq
I love John Murtha.

On MTP today, he made it plain -- no John Kerryesque quizzling. He used to support the invasion and "staying the course." Events on the ground have made him change his mind. Asked if his vote to authorize the war was a mistake, Murtha didn't putz around: "of course it was a mistake!" he told a credulous Tim Russert. And Murtha made it clear: Bush shouldn't be lashing out at his critics, he should be firing people, probably starting with Donald Rumsfeld (Murtha added that he thought Bush should have fired "professor" Wolfowitz long ago, rather than "promoting" him to the World Bank...) Murtha also said that when he talks to commanders and other senior people inside the uniformed military, they tell him in private what they wouldn't dare say publicly: that the war is going badly, that the troops don't have the equipment they need, and that we don't have enough troops. The interview started with this stunner from Russert that by itself should be reason enough to hand Rumsfeld a pink slip:

MR. RUSSERT: Congressman, according to our military experts, there are only 700 Iraqi troops who are fully independent and combat ready. That being the case, if we withdraw our troops quickly from Iraq, won't the Iraqi citizens be overwhelmed by the al-Qaeda and Saddam loyalists? Are the Iraqis capable of defending themselves without the U.S.?
Only 700 Iraqi troops who are combat ready??? WTF have we been doing over there for a year and a half...??? Sheesh... Murtha's answer:

REP. MURTHA: Tim, I'm absolutely convinced that we're making no progress at all, and I've been complaining for two years that there's an overly optimistic--an illusionary process going on here. They keep trying to measure Iraqi troops by our standards. They don't need to meet our standard. And until we turn it over to the Iraqis, we're going to continue to do the fighting. Our young men and women are going to continue to suffer.

I go to the hospitals almost every week. I'm going to go out there again this week, and I see these young people doing the fighting and it's time to turn it over to Iraq. Give them the incentive to do the fighting themselves. They'll have to work this out themselves. This is their country. We've become the enemy. Eighty percent of the people in Iraq want us out of there. Forty-five percent say it's justified to attack Americans. It's time to change direction.
And later:

MURTHA: ... There's no question we're going in the wrong direction and we're not winning. The incidents have increased and the economic indicators--oil, which was supposed to pay for all of this, is below prewar levels. There's nothing that's happening that shows any sign of success.
No signs of success. ... And that's from a war hawk. ... Mr. Rumsfeld? Are you fired yet?

And speaking of Rumsfeld and insufficient troop levels, TIME has some new information that cracks the door open just a little further in terms of the truth about Iraq.

Getting the Lowdown on Iraq

Posted Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005

If the Repulblican Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to get a second opinion on how the war in Iraq is going, where does he turn? To the Pentagon, but not to the top brass this time. In an unusual closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill last week, Virginia's John Warner, joined by Democratic Senators Carl Levin of Michigan and Mark Dayton of Minnesota, sat across the table from 10 military officers chosen for their experience on the battlefield rather than in the political arena. Warner rounded up the battalion commanders to get at what the military calls "ground truth"--the unvarnished story of what's going on in Iraq.

"We wanted the view from men who had been on the tip of the spear, and we got it," said John Ullyot, a Warner spokesman who declined to comment on what was said at the meeting but confirmed that some Capitol Hill staff members were also present. According to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, the Army and Marine officers were blunt. In contrast to the Pentagon's stock answer that there are enough troops on the ground in Iraq, the commanders said that they not only needed more manpower but also had repeatedly asked for it. Indeed, military sources told TIME that as recently as August 2005, a senior military official requested more troops but got turned down flat.

There are about 160,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq, a number U.S. commanders in the region plan to maintain at least through the Iraqi national assembly elections on Dec. 15. But the battalion commanders, according to sources close to last week's meeting, said that because there are not enough troops, they have to "leapfrog" around Iraq to keep insurgents from returning to towns that have been cleared out. The officers also stressed that the lack of manpower--rather than of protective armor or signal jammers--posed one of the biggest obstacles in dealing with roadside bombs, which have caused the majority of U.S. casualties in Iraq. The commanders, according to the meeting sources, said there are simply "never enough" explosives experts on the ground. So far, no officer has been willing to go on record to complain about the need for more troops. ...

So when you hear Rummy say that more troops would have been sent if only the military commanders had asked for them, now you have further evidence that he's full of it. Rumsfeld used this war as a petrie dish to try out his kooky theories on transformation, just as the neocons used it to try out their crazy theories on U.S. domination of the Middle East on the road to the "New World Order." All should be cleaned out of the administration with a quickness, if Bush wants to salvage any credibility. While he's at it, he should convince Dick Cheney to spend more time with his family in Wyoming and put someone in his chair who doesn't think you should write torture into the Army field manual.

Oh, and questioning Murtha's and other critics' patriotism? That dog won't hunt anymore, so the White House and its friends in the media sound machine will have to try something else... Make no mistake, we are getting out of Iraq, no matter what the president and Bill Kristol say. It's just a matter of how many troops we can safely yank by election day 2006 (Murtha concurs with the out by election day projection.) On the question of how we're getting out, here's Joe Klein's counterpoint article in TIME here, in which he makes it pretty clear that the Pentagon wants out just as badly as the House and Senate GOP, though he argues -- with the obligatory bouquets to John McCain (gag), that we shouldn't be too hasty...) Says Klein:

the Senate resolution reflected not only poll-driven politics but also military reality. There is strong sentiment within the Pentagon to reduce the number of troops soon—no matter the continuing vehemence of the President's rhetoric—in order to avoid forcing exhausted troops into longer tours of duty. The current level of 160,000 troops could be cut in half by next summer. "The future of our military is at risk," Murtha said in his emotional press conference, accurately reflecting the views of the uniformed brass. "Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment."

Murtha, a Marine combat veteran of Vietnam, was speaking from the heart. He makes weekly visits to Washington-area military hospitals. He has spent a lifetime devoted to what he perceives to be the best interests of the U.S. military. But unlike McCain, Murtha does not seem to believe that the war against Islamist terrorism is the highest national priority. He said Iraq threatened to drain resources from "procurement programs that ensure our military dominance." On the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, he wondered if China were the real threat "down the road" and expressed dismay that "we only bought four or five ships this year."

In an odd way, Murtha sounded an awful lot like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who, according to high-ranking military officials, has seemed slightly annoyed that the war in Iraq has diverted resources from his real goal of "transforming" the military into a high-tech outfit that can scare the bejeezus out of China. Rumsfeld's Pentagon has refused to undertake the violent reordering of priorities—more special forces, more intelligence, zero boats—needed to fight a scruffy, labor-intensive struggle against an enemy that thrives in shadows in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Rumsfeld's relative indifference to the shooting war since the fall of Baghdad, combined with the President's garishly bellicose rhetoric and refusal to ask wartime sacrifices of the public, has led to a national embarrassment—a cloddish superpower that talks big and acts small—and is leading to an inevitable, irresponsible sidle out of Iraq.
Video: Rep. Murtha responds to GOP criticism (Meet the Press)
John Burns writes fo the NYT on the return of torture and terror to Iraq, and the complicated U.S. military mission
posted by JReid @ 11:27 PM  
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Who wants to be out of Baghdad
Who else is thinking about a quick withdrawal from Iraq? Why, Don Rumsfeld, that's who. I wonder if the House Republicans will now decide to investigate him... or maybe they should probe Gen. George Casey, who while telling the media no, no to pullout, submitted the get out of Dodge plan to Rummy in the first place... investigate him too... And while you're at it, maybe you can use the Patriot Act to track down the "cowards" who participated in this CNN poll. They look like they could use some looking into as well...


Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt

posted by JReid @ 3:11 PM  
A scientific deduction
Even the Vatican says "intelligent design" isn't science. And this is the same church that denounced Copurnicus!

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 3:06 PM  
Murtha's muscle
The Washington Times scores a great writeup of the madness in the House Friday. The whole thing is worth a read, but here's the best part:

Pullout rejected 403-3

...At one point during the debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, Ohio Republican and the newest member of the House, said she had received a call from a veteran and member of Ohio's state legislature , who said to send a message to Mr. Murtha: "Cowards cut and run, and Marines never do."

nstantly, two dozen Democrats shot to their feet and demanded her words be "taken down," a precursor to House punishment, because she insulted Mr. Murtha. Rep. Vic Snyder, Arkansas Democrat, said the use of Mr. Murtha's name and "coward" were in "too close a proximity" to let the matter go.

Ms. Schmidt withdrew her words, but not before Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., Tennessee Democrat, seemed to be headed for a fight with Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican. Mr. Tancredo afterward said he had been arguing with another Democrat over some of the charges Democrats had hurled at Republicans during yesterday morning's budget vote, and said Mr. Ford must have thought the argument was about Mr. Murtha.

"Say it to Murtha," Mr. Ford repeatedly shouted at Mr. Tancredo while he was being restrained by other members. Mr. Tancredo said he replied he wasn't talking about Mr. Murtha and told Mr. Ford to go sit down.

"You guys are pathetic. Pathetic," Rep. Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, shouted.

Those on both sides said they had never seen an atmosphere so charged.
I just LOVE Harold Ford! Hat tip to this really whiney blogger...


Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt

posted by JReid @ 2:55 PM  
From the WashPost:
Facing a backlash on Iraq at home and abroad, President Bush was planning to declare Saturday that an early withdrawal would be "a recipe for disaster" and to vow to stay in the war until "we have completed our mission."

His sharp retort, which was to be delivered at a U.S. military base south of Seoul, followed an unexpected setback. Just hours after Bush hailed South Korea for contributing more troops to Iraq than any other ally except Britain, South Korean defense officials revealed plans to withdraw one-third of their force.

Aides traveling with the president sought explanations from their South Korean counterparts while politely playing down the development in public.
Hm, don't ya just hate it when that happens?

Tags: , Middle East, War, troops, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 12:21 AM  
A Merry Fitzmas after all
Fitzgerald is coming with a second grand jury:
Legal experts said Fitzgerald's decision to call upon a new grand jury is all but certainly because he is considering additional criminal charges in the case.

Two sources close to Karl Rove, the top Bush aide still under investigation in the case, said they have reason to believe Fitzgerald does not anticipate presenting additional evidence against the White House deputy chief of staff. Instead, lawyers involved in the case expect the prosecutor to focus on Woodward's admission that an official other than Libby told him about Plame one month before her identity was publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert D. Novak.

Not exactly the holiday gift the White House was looking for, I suspect...

Tags: , , , White House, PlameGate, Woodward
posted by JReid @ 12:04 AM  
Friday, November 18, 2005
Murtha update
"John Wayne" Murtha is on Hardball right now kicking ass and taking names. ...

Update: It starts. According to Roll Call:
GOP Lawmakers Float Ethics Probe of Murtha
By John Bresnahan
Roll Call Staff
Friday, Nov. 18

Republican lawmakers say that ties between Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and his brother’s lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee.

They didn't even waste time, with one congressman shrugging his shoulders and saying Murtha "put himself on the front lines" by criticizing the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Here we go...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy

Also, in case you haven't read it, here's the Christopher Dickey piece again.

Are they cowards, too, Ms. Schmidt? The Pentagon is drawing up plans to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq.

Here's the AP version of the House shenanigans, with video. With 28 votes outstanding at nearly 10 p.m., the vote on the phony resolution is tied at 203 with six Republicans crossing over.
posted by JReid @ 7:12 PM  
Support this Marine!
John Murtha is a war hero - the recipient of two purple hearts and the Bronze Star, a 37 year veteran of the Vietnam War. Murtha is as strong as it gets on national security, and he, unlike the chicken hawk vice president and his merry band of neocons, has seen combat, as opposed to just sending other people's sons into the action while racking up deferrments for themselves. For the Republicans to call him a Michael Moore devotee advocating U.S. surrender, or worse, a coward, is as low as it gets. The White House has said it praises Murtha's service, but as usual, they talk a good game for the TV cameras, while countenancing the smears on the Internet, in print and on radio by their allies like Rush "boil on the butt/deferrment" Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and now, the Crypt Keeper herself, Jeanne Schmidt.

So what can we do about it? Let's send John Murtha some love. Call his office or write to him and say "you're the man, Murtha. Don't let the bastards get you down!" Not that he would let them get to him -- unlike the people he's doing battle with on Capitol Hill, John Murtha is a Marine, not a politician dressed up in a flight suit. Here's Murtha's vitals:

Honorable John P. Murtha
2423 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable John P. Murtha
P.O. Box 780
Johnstown, PA 15907

Update: Christopher Dickey says -- Murtha is right.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt
posted by JReid @ 6:50 PM  
Out of order
Stunning doesn't begin to describe this one ... Ohio Congresswoman Jeanne Schmidt calls decorated, 37-year Marine veteran John Murtha a coward on the House floor... saying she was speaking for an Ohio non-combat officer and elected official in her state. ... On Ed Schultz's radio show just afterward, the man Schmidt barely defeated for her Ohio seat, Marine veteran Paul Hackett, calls her a "gas bag" and says the rest of his comments about her aren't suitable for radio ... Paraphrased, this is what Schmidt said:
"... a few minutes ago I received a call from a state representative in the 88th district of my state, Colonel Danny Buck. He asked me to send a message to Congress: don't cut and run. He also asked me to convey a message to Representative Murtha: cowards cut and run, Marines never do..."
Long story short, the place when ape shit. Democrats started screaming bloody murder and a congressman from Arkansas demanded that Schmidt's comment be read into the record. The hearing was gaveled to order, eventually, but there were immediate demands that the Crypt Keeper apologize. (Apparently she later withdrew her towering insult to a man with more courage in his little finger than her wizened up old ass has in her entire body...) Ed Schultz just played the entire thing on his show a few times, and I will definitely be watching for it to hit CSPAN's website. (Photo of the Crypt Keeper courtesy of Crooks and Liars).

What caused all this? Murtha rocked the GOP's world with the common sense admonition to begin pulling American troops out of Iraq. He wanted a resolution that would call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops, with a smaller number of forces kept in the Gulf area to serve as a rapid reaction force. The cynical hacks on the other side of the aisle substituted their own, two-line "sense of the Senate" amendment written by dimwit Duncan Hunter (and apparently dreamed up by uber-hack J.D. Haywarth), calling for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops -- not what Murtha proposes at all -- as a way to goad Democrats (and off the ranch Republicans) to either support it and get ploughed by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove's spin machine tomorrow, or vote it down and "repudiate" Murtha. (Given the treatment of McCain, Hagel, Murtha, Max Cleland, Hackett and so many others by this crowd, isn't it time to conclude that the right wing of the Republican Party hates the uniformed military?)

The Washington Note has the GOP's ridiculous resolution, and "John Wayne" Murtha's original.

Bottom line, Washington has descended into madness. Forget Baghdad -- there is no functioning government in our capitol right now. The Iraq war has blown it all to hell.

And speaking of blown all to hell...

Update: If you'd like to call the Crypt Keeper and give her a piece of your mind (and your little dog's, too...) here's her digits: (202) 225-3164.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Murtha, Foreign Policy, Schmidt
posted by JReid @ 5:44 PM  
The passion of Mel Gibson's lawyers
How many lawsuits are there gonna be over "The Passion of the Christ?" Already, Gibson has been sued by the group Campus Crusade for Christ, which claimed ... and this is a true story ... that his Jesus crucifixion movie ripped off their Jesus crucifixion movie... okay, how can you tell...? Gibson has sued two movie theater chains, Regal and Muvico, over "Passion" profits, he was threatened with a lawsuit from a Russian human rights group that didn't like the film, and now he's suing a Christian group that censors the blood and gore (and the sex) out of movie DVDs (in this case, it's just about the blood and gore...) Jesus, is this movie law-jinxed, or what? (Photo credit: Jim Caviezal as "Pretty Jesus" in the brilliantly shot, bloody violent but well-done movie "The Passion of The Christ")

Tags: , Entertainment, Mel Gibson, The Passion, Lawsuits
posted by JReid @ 12:45 PM  
I see red people
There's an e-mail going around, asking Americans who support U.S. troops to wear red every Friday. I just got a copy of it today from a frequent winger emailer who has me and a bunch of local columnists in his permanent cc list, but it has been actually around since the war started in April 2003, credited to a James Rivera of somewhere in Illinois. It must not have caught on too well, because the plan keeps being relaunched, as I suppose it has been again.

The campaign's basic point is great -- it would be nice if more Americans took time to note the sacrifice of the one-in 300 or so Americans who are serving in the armed forces. But the campaign also carries the snide implication that people who don't support the Iraq war, and of course, the "biased" media, don't support the troops.

How tired am I of this "slavishly support the Iraq war and President Bush or you don't support the troops" canard? Very. It's ridiculous to assume that those of us who feel the troops are being misused in Iraq somehow don't support them. Are there genuine peacenicks out there? Yes. Anti-military types? Sure. There are mindless warmongers out there, too, but there's also a whole, wide spectrum of people in between who simply dispute the notion that nation building in Iraq is a legitimate cause for which American troops should be put in harm's way, and who question the means by which we were sold the Iraq war. The other side apparently doesn't mind seeing "the troops" blown up in Iraq so long as they vote "red" for Republican.

Tags: , War, public opinion, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 12:20 PM  
Laura Ingraham's deep thoughts, vol. 1

Talk show host Laura Ingraham has apparently checked her brain into the same feel-good convalescent clinic Danny Bonaduce's wife schlepped him into on his VH1 reality show.

On her radio show today, while taking calls from Republicans who now feel misled on Iraq, Laura went to the Dick Cheney well to criticize retired Marine John Murtha for stating the obvious point that the war is going very, very badly for the U.S., and she tried to make the case that Murtha has made common cause with Michael Moore (apparently, Americans only think things are going badly in Iraq because they're being forcibly kept from all the great good news that's going on over there! Woo hoo!) ... But the real kicker in Ms. Ingraham's eternal quest to give Dartmouth College a bad name (David Brock famously called her "the only person I knew who didn't appear to own a book or regularly read a newspaper...") came in response to back-to-back callers who made two thoroughly sensible points:

1) Dick Cheney and the administration have zero remaining credibility even with fellow Republicans after having succssfully sold the bill of goods that not only did Iraq have WMD that posed a "grave and gathering threat to the continental United States but that we knew where it was; that Muhammad Atta was in Prague with the Iraqi intelligence services and a candlestick and so Iraq was involved in 9/11; and that once we invaded we would be "greeted as liberators" and

2) we didn't have enough troops going in and so we (and the Iraqis) are thoroughly screwed now.

To that, Ingraham had the following two-party reply: "there are always disagreements among experts during war planning" and besides, "where were we gonna get more troops, man?"


There were no disagreements among those who know something about war (which obviously excludes Mssrs. Bush and Cheney) -- people like Collin Powell and the leadership of the United States Army, including its then chief, Gen. Shinseki (but not former Navy pilot Don Rumsfeld, who seemed more concerned with trying out his theories on "transformation" than about actually achieving Mr. Bush's quickly inflating war aims) -- about the fact that we would need hundreds of thousands of troops to pacify the 22 million-person nation of Iraq. Read this (from James Fallows), this (from Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings) and this (also from O'Hanlon, for the Army War College). And the only people who believed we would be "greeted as liberators" were the military service-free neocon think tankers, their Iranian spy friend Ahmad Chalabi, and their patrons inside the Bush administration (Rumsfeld and his cabal-mate, Dick Cheney,) who having hijacked American foreign policy, clearly misled the president on that score, because despite not being a "nation builder" or a neocon himself, he seemed to believe it too. As for the WMD, it is for good reason that the Pentagon is finally investigating the likes of Douglas Feith for his role in massaging the facts that went both to the president and to the pliant Congress before they voted this president a blank slate to go to war...

And where were we gonna get the troops??? Laura, are you HIGH??? The U.S. sent half a million troops to the Gulf region in 1991 just to kick Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard out of northern Kuwait! What happened to those troops? Were they beamed up into outer space with Gene Roddenberry's remains? Apparently Ms. Ingraham's fact checkers don't read books or newspapers either, because to date, more than 1 million -- that's million -- members of the United States armed forces have already been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (but mostly Iraq), many of them more than once -- some of them more than twice. You don't have to take that from me, or from the "liberal" media, either, Laura, the staggering number was first reported by the Moonie UPI and the right-wing Washington Times last December...!

The United States currently has some 1.4 million active duty armed forces personnel -- plus hundreds of thousands of Guardsmen and Reserves. We have the troops, it's just that they've been deployed and redeployed and re-redeployed to Iraq in Rumsfeldian force sums of 135,000 to 160,000, rather than the overwhelming force called for under the now thoroughly proven Powell Doctrine (which is now as solid as ... well ... the theory of evolution ...) Had we sent them in in overwhelming numbers to begin with, as Laura's astute callers pointed out, we might not find ourselves stuck in an intragensigent insurgency -- against us, by the way -- today. And even if Laura's absurd statements had been absolutely true -- as both her callers pointed out: if we didn't have the troops to go in heavier than we did, we had no business invading Iraq.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media, Laura Ingraham
posted by JReid @ 11:56 AM  
Most influential
Esquire names Bill Clinton the most influential man in the world. (And you neocons thought it would be Ahmad Chalabi...) FReepers, feel free to begin the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Meanwhile, as if to make Esquire's point, Clinton's remarks about the "big mistake" of how we invaded Iraq (not "that" we invaded, folks, how...) is "echoing around the world..."

More Esquire covers for your viewing pleasure.

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 1:43 AM  
What we've lost
The war in Iraq has cost America so much, in terms of lives lost, young men and women maimed, untold psychic damage to those who served and to their families (witness the skyrocketing divorce rate for our troops), but also in terms of the loss of our national standing, our principles and our honor. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe that my parents' adopted country -- and mind you, my father is from the freaking Congo -- would be associated with officially sanctioned torture, "secret detention facilities," and with the use of chemical weapons on human targets. I really didn't want to believe the white phosphorus story -- I really didn't... But now I have no choice. The Pentagon has admitted it -- and defended it. ["Willy Pete" is supposed to be used as an incendiary -- a legit use, but apparently we deployed it as a weapon in Fallujah. Nice.]

What next? Even the Iraqi torture chambers will be laid at our doorstep -- we certainly can claim no moral high ground there... What the hell have these people turned this country into? President Bush and the neocons he let run wild under his unsupervised vice president, and their mutual obsession with Iraq, have injected absolute madness into the veins of our democracy. They have destroyed not only George Bush's presidency, but also our military's and our country's good name. Enough already.

More unhappy Iraq headlines:
And one piece of good news: The Army is halting the call-up of inactive soldiers to be shipped off to Iraq.


Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, ,
posted by JReid @ 1:11 AM  
Thursday, November 17, 2005
On 'cutting and running'
So why shouldn't we just leave Iraq? Call it "cutting and running" or whatever you want, but there's a compelling case for pulling out, and starting to do so now.

Nir Rosen makes it in this month's Atlantic, and it goes something like this:

-- We're supposedly still in Iraq to quell the insurgency, but our presence is fueling the insurgency. If we left, the insurgency would lose it's forward momentum and Iraqis would largely abandon it. (Besides, this is supposed to be a sovereign country. Let the Iraqi government deal with the insurgency -- hell, they've already proved they can go gulag for gulag with anybody we've got in the Pentagon, and churn out a denial at least as spiffy...);

-- Our leaving won't ignite a Shiite-Sunni civil war, because there's already one under way. The only question is, how long we choose to remain in the bloody middle of it. (What we should be doing, as writer James Fallows points out in the same Atlantic issue, is getting a lot more serious about training Iraqi forces -- maybe even outside Iraq -- so they can protect their own country);

-- We can't stop the Kurds from seceding anyway, so there's no reason to stay on their account;

-- At this point, most Iraqis want us, and our checkpoints and house to house searches and roadblocks GONE. We should accommodate them;

-- There aren't enough Sunnis to really take over Baghdad. With us gone, they're more likely to join the political process and give up fighting; There are even fewer foreign fighters, and with us gone, they'll have no place to hide and no good reason to be there. Let the Iraqis take care of them...;

-- Iran won't take over the country with us gone because Iraqi Shia are too proud to become their neighbor's proxy state. (Now Chalabi is another story -- if he becomes prime minister, he'll likely sell them down the river faster than you can say "aluminum tubes..." Hopefully he'll meat some form of frontier justice of his own one of these days -- maybe even in a Jordanian jail!)

And most important of all, in Rosen's own words:

"What about the goal of creating a secular democracy in Iraq that respects the rights of women and non-Muslims?"

Give it up. It's not going to happen.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy

posted by JReid @ 6:51 PM  
One bad Murtha...
When one of the most hawkish Democrats in the Congress -- a decorated Vietnam veteran who visits troops at Walter Reed weekly -- says enough is enough... you've really got to start thinking it's time to pull out of Iraq. Says the SF Chronicle:
D.C. -- In another sign of rising discontent in Congress over the war in Iraq, perhaps the House's most influential Democrat on military issues called today for the immediate withdrawal of all American forces from that nation.

"The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a former Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam and the senior Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees military spending.

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,'' said Murtha, who in October 2002 voted for the resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action to oust Saddam Hussein. "It's a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of the members of Congress.''

Murtha's outspoken stand, which he shares with only a minority of House Democrats, shows the growing discontent within Congress over the war's progress.

Earlier this week, the Republican-led Senate passed a resolution calling on Bush to report every 90 days on the war in Iraq and for Iraqi forces to assume more control of security in their country starting next year. But the Senate voted down a Democratic proposal for a phased withdrawal.

Murtha's comments, announced in a Capitol speech carried live on cable new stations, came as Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have counter-attacked against their critics, saying charges that pre-war intelligence was falsified or hyped to justify war are outrageous and that pulling out of Iraq before the job is done would be disastrous.

Murtha, who retired as a reserve lieutenant colonel in 1994 after he had already served 20 years in the House, said the war had sapped the Army's strength, threatened its ability to meet other threats and ballooned the federal budget deficit.

The Bush administration is already required to send the House quarterly reports on the war, under a provision attached to spending legislation by Murtha and House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-S.F.

The latest report made for disheartening reading, Murtha said, and convinced him that the U.S. presence in Iraq is fueling the insurgency, not helping to pacify the country. Oil production is still below pre-war levels. Much of the appropriated reconstruction money can't be spent because of the poor security situation. Unemployment is estimated at 60 percent, he said.

Most importantly for Murtha, the number of insurgent attacks is running at 700 a week, up from about 150 a year ago, and casualties continue, with more than 2,000 Americans killed and almost 16,000 wounded.

"We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region,'' said Murtha, who every week visits wounded service personnel at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington or at the Bethesda naval hospital in suburban Maryland.

Murtha said troops should be withdrawn in stages, so their safety is not jeopardized. He suggested that all 148,000 could be withdrawn within six months, but that a "rapid deployment force'' should be kept somewhere else in the Middle East.

To anti-war Democrats in the House, Murtha's new position was a major boost.

"I think it's just perfect. It makes us closer to bringing our troops home. Hurrah!,'' said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who early this year introduced a House resolution calling for withdrawal.

She said Murtha's stand may influence more Republicans to join the handful who already back withdrawal proposals in the House.

Murtha's call for withdrawal actually makes him more outspoken than the House's Out of Iraq Coalition. That group is circulating a petition among members calling for a floor debate and vote on a resolution that calls on Bush to give Congress a plan for withdrawal, and to start those withdrawals by next October, just a month before the mid-term congressional elections.

The coalition includes five Republicans, along with about five dozen Democrats.

Woolsey said Bush and Cheney are striking back at critics because "they're absolutely panicked and are trying everything they know to discredit those who tell the truth.''
Not that all the Cheney fire and brimstone is working...

Apparently, after his comments met with grumbling from Cheney, Murtha shot back in fine fashion:
Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam combat, lashed back at Vice President Dick Cheney, who in a speech to a conservative group on Wednesday night condemned critics of the Iraq war. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone, but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," Mr. Cheney said in an address to the group, Frontiers of Freedom, in Washington.

Mr. Murtha was disdainful of the vice president's remarks, saying that "people with five deferments" had no right to make such remarks. Mr. Cheney, like millions of other young men of the era, avoided military service during the Vietnam war.
That's five deferments, Laura Ingraham (and all you other chicken haw apologists). FIVE.

Get 'em Murtha! More on Woodward, the war, and Murtha's tour de force turnaround from the International Herald Trib.

And ya think Murtha's being heard? Try all around the world.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Murtha, Bush, Cheney
posted by JReid @ 6:15 PM  
Note to Prez: When you repeat it, you make it into a soundbite
"I think people ought to be allowed to ask questions," the president said. "It is irresponsible to say that I deliberately misled the American people." -- President Bush answering his critics from South Korea.

"War criminal!" -- hecklers taunting Dick Cheney at a Wednesday event in Knoxville Tennessee. (The Bush-Cheney ticket carried Al Gore's home state with 57 percent of the vote in 2004. Bush's approval rating in the state stands at 40 percent today -- better than the national average of around 37 percent, but still not good in a red state...)

Tags: , War, Bush, Cheney, protests
posted by JReid @ 1:52 AM  
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Celebrity shizzle
Michael Jackson dressed in drag and applying makeup in the ladies room in his new, Arabian homeland...? Not surprising.

50 Cent can read? Okay, just kidding. But I'm not reading no damned hip-hop "novelas..." I'm getting enough gangsta knowledge reading Sy Hersh's book on how we wound up torturing people at Abu Ghraib...

Chelsea Clinton: party girl! Apparently, Hils has put the kaibosh on Chelsea's partying with her new gal pal ... Tara Reid? Observe:
Chelsea met Tara while she was in Europe filming for her now cancelled show ‘Taradise’.

By all accounts the pair hit it off straight away, and as Chelsea had just split up with her long term boyfriend Ian Klaus they got down to some heavy duty partying.

Tara was seen staying at Chelsea swanky New York pad and they were partying the night away.

A ‘source’ told The Bosh: "It's almost like Chelsea dumped Ian for Tara. All of a sudden Tara was staying at Chelsea's in New York, and they were going out to Bungalow 8 and Nobu every night,"

However, after a wild weekend in Las Vegas, Chelsea’s mother, Hilary Clinton heard that the pair had been hanging out and put a stop to their friendship.
Can't have those photos wagging around the presidential tour bus... Oops! Here the girls are again, paired up in this scoop roundup including news on Chelsea's new beau...

You Go girl: Guess who's going to be the new face for Versace? Halle Berry. Good for her. Halle also bagged Mario Testino, the guy who did those breathtaking photos of Princess Di (sorry Camilla, you just can't hold a candle) to shoot her first round of pics.

Tags: , News, gossip, Celebrity
posted by JReid @ 8:46 PM  
Who's punching Saddam?
Apparently, court clerks at his trial. Oh, go on, you know you want to...

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 8:41 PM  
FEMA to evacuees: F*** off
Kicking evacuees -- who have nothing, by the way -- out of their hotel shelters? Priceless.

Tags: , Katrina, New Orleans, Politics, News
posted by JReid @ 8:38 PM  
Prosecutor by day ... cheeky mystery law blogger by night... Only in New Jersey, folks... only in New Jersey...

Tag: , News,
posted by JReid @ 8:33 PM  
Welcome to the nuclear neighborhood
Sources say Iran is reprocessing uranium. No, it's not the neocons saying that this time, so it might actually be true... But 40 years ago, it was Israel the Nixon administration was worried about, and their predictions that the Jewish state's development of nuclear weapons would touch off a regional arms race seem pretty prescient now. (The same released papers shed new light on Nixon's election-fueled lies about Cambodia, and the administration's seeming opinion that Jimmy Hoffa could be good for ballot box business... also are interesting in light of what's going on these days... )

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posted by JReid @ 8:23 PM  
Cue the backlash
Bill Clinton calls the invasion of Iraq a big mistake! (Red State version); or, Clinton says what we all understand by now: that the invasion of Iraq was handled very, very badly (reality based version).What Clinton said:
“Saddam is gone. It’s a good thing, but I don’t agree with what was done,” Clinton told students at a forum at the American University of Dubai.

“It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country.”

Clinton’s remarks came when he was taking questions about the U.S. invasion, which began in 2003. His response drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session.

Clinton said the United States had done some good things in Iraq: the removal of Saddam, the ratification of a new constitution and the holding of parliamentary elections.

The mistake that they made is that when they kicked out Saddam, they decided to dismantle the whole authority structure of Iraq. ... We never sent enough troops and didn’t have enough troops to control or seal the borders,” Clinton said.

As the borders were unsealed, “the terrorists came in,” he said.

Clinton said it would have been better if the United States had left Iraq’s “fundamental military and social and police structure intact.”
Sounds pretty obvious to me. Of course, that's not how it will be reported by Laura "I'm a hillbilly, really I am!" Ingraham and her crowd...

Tags: , Clinton, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 8:17 PM  
So when does he apologize to the rest of us?
When I posted the "Baby Face Jim" Vandehei WaPo story on Bob Woodward's admission that he -- and not Bob Novak -- was likely the first to receive the leak of Valerie Plame's identity from an unknwown government official who isn't Scooter Libby and probably isn't Karl Rove either, (Woodward also says it's not Andy Card) I admit that my head was elsewhere and I didn't entirely grasp the significance. Well I'm wide awake now.

Woodward -- the ultimate insider and the foremost high level leak recipient in Washington (not to mention one of the most self-aggrandizing reporters ... ever... has since apologized to his editor, Leonard Downie, Jr. for keeping him in the dark about his deep contacts. But it seems that Woodward also owes his readers an apology. He has been hanging back all this time, knowing that he wasn't just another reporter following the story -- he was an integral part of the story.

This disclosure is particularly scummy in light of Woodward's on-the-record open disdain for Pat Fitzgerald's prosecution. It makes his vigorous defense of Judy Miller make much more sense, though (he is playing on the same team as Ms. Miller in this scandal).

Woodward tried to drag Walter Pincus into the matter, saying he told Pincus about the disclosure without naming the source, but Pincus says no way, and adds that Woodward asked him point blank to keep his name out of Plamegate.

And Woodward has snapped to the Judy Miller defense, saying he can't tell his readers what gives because his source says so, and that he's just "an aggressive reporter" in this case, and nothing more.

So what's so bad about all this? The Washington Note pins the tail on the outrage:

But the MOST OUTRAGEOUS statement by Bob Woodward follows, and I credit the Washington Post for exposing this man's vanity and idiocy. The Post reports that Woodward pooh-poohed the Fitzgerald investigation into the Valerie Plame/CIA case -- even though he had vital information that was relevant to the investigation all along -- and knew it.

The President put his credibility on the line regarding this CIA case. The first White House official in 130 years was indicted because of this case -- and Bob Woodward is saying that it is an insignificant matter. And now he has a "smoking gun"?
So besides proving that Woodward is as vainglorious and shady as he has always seemed to be (oh goody! We get to play "who is Woodward's deep throat?" again!), what does this all mean? It definitely updends Patrick Fitzgerald's timeline ... It has the appearance of Woodward interceding to thwart a prosecution he doesn't like, something a member of the media shouldn't be involved in ... It probably means that whoever told Woodie to go talk to the grand jury, but not to the press, is someone Libby is protecting, and who is now returning the favor (or someone who is in line to be indicted...) If Woodward got the leak from someone other than Libby, before Libby got the leak, then Libby just may be able to argue that he really did hear the leak from a reporter -- he just maybe mixed up Woodward and Tim Russert in his otherwise stell trap mind. So who would Libby lie to protect, and who has the greatest incentive to reach back and try to protect him before he goes to a messy, embarassing trial?

Signs (hopeful ones, admittedly) once again point to Dick Cheney, although Rawstory says it's Stephen Hadley...

Update: Watergate-era Post editor Ben Bradlee defends Woodward.

Update 2: AP is spinning the turn of events the way Libby's lawyers are: as a win for Libby (John Dean on "Countdown" tonight wasn't so sure. It all depends on what the meaning of "first known official" is ... Decision 08 has the blog reax and the best title of the day: "Bob Woodward: The Grinch Who Stole Fitzmas..." (cliff notes: unhappy Kos...)

Tags: , , , , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 7:40 PM  
Sunshine State space cadets
Hm... I wonder why Katherine Harris isn't doing better in the polls ... what could be wrong ... could it be the 2000 election ... no ... too long ago ... maybe the breast surgery rumors ... no, that should help her in the Panhandle... ah, yes, there it is ! ... she's nuts:

Florida tested ‘Celestial Drops’ to see if they warded off citrus canker

By David Park Musella, Skeptical Inquirer

Florida's citrus crop contributes billions of dollars to the state's economy, so when that industry is threatened, anything that might help is considered. Back in 2001, when citrus canker was blighting the crop and threatening to reduce that vital source of revenue, an interesting — if not quite scientific — alternative was considered.

Katherine Harris, then Florida's secretary of state — and now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives — ordered a study in which, according to an article by Jim Stratton in the Orlando Sentinel, "researchers worked with a rabbi and a cardiologist to test ‘Celestial Drops,' promoted as a canker inhibitor because of its ‘improved fractal design,' ‘infinite levels of order,' and ‘high energy and low entropy.'"

The study determined that the product tested was, basically, water that had apparently been blessed according to the principles of Kabbalic mysticism, "chang[ing] its molecular structure and imbu[ing] it with supernatural healing powers."

...The Florida state government is frequently bombarded with new supposed cures and preventatives [for citrus canker]. Most of them are not tested by the state with government funds. But in this one case, at least, it appears that an exception was made: Six months were spent establishing testing protocols and, finally, testing Celestial Drops. In a letter to the state government, Wayne Dixon, the head of Florida's Bureau of Entomology, Nematology and Plant Pathology, reported that the "product is a hoax and not based on any credible known science." He added, "I wish to maintain our standing in the scientific community and not allow [the developers of Celestial Drops] to use our hard-earned credibility" to promote their product.

...It was a Kabbalah rabbi, by the way. Ashton and Demi would approve... If I say "oh, good heavens," does that imply an endorsement...?

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posted by JReid @ 3:46 PM  
New rules
You don't have to be exciting to get elected, you just have to not be a Republican...

Quinnipiac takes Florida's temperature (the keyto the reading -- independents...):

Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson begins his reelection year with a 55 - 31 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, the only announced Republican challenger in the 2006 Florida U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 57 - 33 percent Nelson lead in an August 31 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN uh-pe-ack) University.

Democrats back Sen. Nelson 83 - 7 percent, while Republicans back Rep. Harris 63 -22 percent and independent voters go with Nelson 59 - 25 percent.

Florida voters have mixed opinions about Nelson, with 37 percent who say he should be reelected, 33 percent who say he shouldn't be and 29 percent undecided. He gets a 49 - 18 percent approval rating, with 33 percent undecided.

"Even though Florida voters are not enthusiastic about sending Bill Nelson back to the Senate, he will do fine as long as Katherine Harris is his opponent. Congressman Mark Foley would be almost as strong a Republican candidate for the Senate seat even though he is relatively unknown statewide compared to Harris," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Florida Republicans say 46 - 29 percent that they would prefer Rep. Harris over U.S. Rep. Mark Foley as their Senate candidate. Nelson leads Foley 55 - 27 percent.

Looking at the 2006 Governor's race, 56 percent of Florida Democrats are undecided on who should get their party's nomination, with 25 percent backing U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and 15 percent backing State Sen. Rod Smith.

Among Republicans, 38 percent pick Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, while 36 percent pick State Attorney General Charlie Crist, a tie, with 24 percent undecided.

In possible general election matchups:
- Davis gets 40 percent to 39 percent for Crist, a statistical tie;
- Davis gets 41 percent to 38 percent for Gallagher;
- Crist beats Smith 41 - 36 percent;
- Gallagher beats Smith 41 - 36 percent.

"Tom Gallagher and Charlie Crist are tied in the battle for the Republican nomination for Governor, but either would be equally effective in the general election against a Democrat. 'Don't know' is still leading the Democratic race for Governor with U.S. Rep. Jim Davis a distant second, ahead of State Sen. Rod Smith," Richards said.

Keep in mind that few outside the political junkie set are really paying much attention to these races at this point, and "undecided" is still the leading vote getter among Democrats (and there's the matter of a certain marriage amendment working its way toward the ballot for next fall, which could hurt the Democrat more if he faces family man Gallagher, but which could conceivably ding the suspiciously single -- and super duper tan and yet totally not gay -- Republican Charlie Crist...) But at the moment, it looks like Florida voters feel much the way voters in the rest of the country do: bearish on the GOP -- especially on hardline Bushies like Kathy Harris.

And though Florida delivered for George W. Bush twice (once on purpose, and once because the Supreme Court told it to) Democrats hold a slight registration advantage over Republicans (40.8 percent to 37.7 percent) with 3.9 percent cleaving to various third parties and a whopping 1.9 million voters out of about 10.4 million, or 18 percent -- choosing no party affiliation. That makes independents serious players in the general election (the primaries are party only) and while last year they tilted slightly toward Bush, indies are souring on the president and his party in Florida, just like everywhere else. Good news for Nelson (I'd say he's a lock at this point) and surprisingly good news for the Democratic nominee for governor, who will probably be the unexciting, but safe, Jim Davis. (Though who knows what the GOP will throw at the general election...)

Hey, at least the folks down here think the GOP-led state did a good job with the hurricanes. If there was a vote for hurricane czar next fall, maybe Ms. Harris could go for that...

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posted by JReid @ 12:28 PM  
Quick take headlines - Wednesday
Oil chiefs met with Cheney on energy policy as suspected...

Bob Woodward testified in the CIA leak case that a "senior admnistration official" told him about Valerie Plame two years ago. Interestingly, Woodward did not share this knowledge with the paper's managing editor (et tu, Judy Miller II...?) Says WaPo:
Woodward's testimony appears to change key elements in the chronology Fitzgerald laid out in his investigation and announced when indicting Libby three weeks ago. It would make the unnamed official -- not Libby -- the first government employee to disclose Plame's CIA employment to a reporter. It would also make Woodward, who has been publicly critical of the investigation, the first reporter known to have learned about Plame from a government source.

The testimony, however, does not appear to shed new light on whether Libby is guilty of lying and obstructing justice in the nearly two-year-old probe or provide new insight into the role of senior Bush adviser Karl Rove, who remains under investigation.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said that Rove is not the unnamed official who told Woodward about Plame and that he did not discuss Plame with Woodward.

And apparently, Pat Fitzgerald intends to dig deeper into what journalists were told during the upcoming Libby trial (assuming it happens). Hear that? That's the sound of reporters getting ice in their veins...

From the "I wonder where they got that idea from?" file: U.S. troops are now guarding a prison where Sunni men were apparently starved and tortured in gulag-like conditions by assailants unknown. (Tossup between the idea coming from Saddam or from the Pentagon...)

Friends of Rudy: Bernie Kerik is said to have abused his post as NYC corrections commissioner in the late 1990s...

Disgraced former Jersey governor Jim McGreevey is hitting the gay circuit in NYC...Hm, I wonder how his second wife is gonna manage to get her groove back...

American attitudes about the Iraq war are starting look a lot like Vietnam (thankfully, without the anti-soldier vibe). Not good news for the president or the neocons...

And how does the modern Jewish teen spend her bat mitzvah? Why, with Irv Gotti and his soon to be rudderless label icons, Ashanti and Ja Rule, plus Omarion and about half a million dollars of your parents cash, that's how. Oh, and you use the night to launch you're own clothing line, too. Bling bling!

Tags: , , Media, , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 2:01 AM  
Ya think???
Mr. "Axis of Evil" David Frum comes to a startling conclusion:
The Washington Post and ABC News are reporting continuing erosion in the president's support, with 58% now doubting his honesty and trustworthiness. Of all the criticisms of the president, this last seems to me most unfair and inaccurate - but when the public gets mad at a leader, they get mad at him for everything.

The administration seems to believe that they can correct the situation by advancing a strong domestic agenda. I hope this is true - and I hope it is true that they still have a strong domestic agenda to advance. But I fear that the president's low numbers derive from Iraq, from the perception that the war is not going well, and from the administration's continuing failure to explain or justify the war in convincing terms. And for that reason I fear that these numbers will be very hard to reverse.
Next he'll be telling us that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or that Republicans are running away from the neocon war like it has fleas (even if they've only got enough spine to do it when Dubya's back is turned ... and in China ...)

Go write your book, Frum. Maybe you can put a chapter in it about how you and your neoconservative buddies destroyed the United States armed forces, the social fabric and international reputation of this country, and a presidency, all with the help of an Iranian spy and a decade-long obsession with a tin-pot Stalinist wannabe. Sheesh...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Bush, Foreign Policy, polls
posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
You're off the hook, Federline...
This is officially the worst song of 2005. You can now stop laughing, Britney. Hat tip to Keith Olbermann. How do you find this stuff, kid?

Tags: , Britney Spears, Bush, Music, Entertainment
posted by JReid @ 12:55 AM  
The O'Reilly crazy factor
In a bid to quiet the furor over his previous, incendiary remarks about San Francisco, Bill O'Reilly ... okay he made it worse...

First, the guy from "Hard Copy" (or was it "Inside Edition?") tried to whitewash his invitation for al-Qaida to attack San Francisco, both on his web-site and on his show to leave off the "if you wanna bomb San Fran, go ahead" part (in fairness, he did say the rest of the country was off limits...) and he used the word "guttersnipe" - cute for Stewie, not manly for O'Reilly... Then he wrote his remarks off as a "satirical riff," and blamed left wing critics for making a big deal about them... Then he defended himself on a friendly Cali radio talk show, and later invited the hosts onto his show, on which he embellished his previous comments by suggesting that Frisco raise itself a Village People-style militia to defend the city... okay that visual is funny, but I digress ... Now, the sex harasser with syndication says he's going to publish an enemies list on his web-site of bloggers who attack him! Agitprop is taking names (requesting admission shortly)...

The San Francisco supervisor wants The Falafel fired from his radio and TV shows (that won't happen. Remember Bill Bennett and the Black mass abortion gambit? Rush Limbaugh and the "mothers little helpers?" Let alone the Donovan McNabb flap? Both still working... as is Mad Marion himself) Most San Franciscans I'm sure could give a damn about O'Reilly's opinion (really, does anyone with a mind of his or her own really listen to this guy?) Besides, if Bill loses his gainful employment, he's liable to start hanging around the ladies dressing rooms at Macy's during the days, with a trenchcoat and fedora on and a video cellphone hidden in his pants, and who wants that?

Update: My letter to Bill O'Reilly:
To: Bill O'Reilly, O'Reilly Factor Host :
cc: John Moody,
Senior Vice-President, News:

Dear Mr. O'Reilly:

Please add me ( to your list of enemy bloggers. As much as I hate to consider myself to be anyone's enemy, you are simply out of your mind, and therefore, I feel it's my duty to oppose you -- well, not so much you, as the fact that you're nuts...

Have a wonderful day. Oh, and remember: if they bomb San Francisco, technically, they're still bombing America.


Joy Reid

Good night, and good luck.


Tags: , , , Terrorism, .

posted by JReid @ 12:05 AM  
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Former Public Broadcast chair in the hot seat
Looks like he did break the law by interfering with broadcast operations for political reasons. Go figure.
posted by JReid @ 4:06 PM  
Disturbing headlines
Sunnis accuse Iraqi government of ethnic cleansing.

Tags: , Middle East, War
posted by JReid @ 3:57 PM  
Rawstory scoop on Iraqi detainees
Rawstory is reporting that leaked Centcom data has given the site the scoop on just how many detainees the U.S. is holding in Iraq (some 35,000), and how few have actually been convicted of crimes (around 2 percent). Here's the info.

Also, the article raises the question of whether large numbers of Iraqi detainees who are ultimately released back into the population are joining the insurgency, particularly if they are subject to some sort of abuse...

And the breakdown by facility is also highlighted, including the fact that about half of the detainees in U.S. custody are being held at Camp Bucca, about a third at Abu Ghraib, and smaller numbers at Camp Cropper -- considered the most dangerous facility, and the place where troops were recently accused of shooting five unarmed detainees -- Fort Suse, which I've never heard of, and various Brigade Interment Facilities around Iraq. Bucca is the camp that I actually know the most about, since a local Guard and a local Reserve unit from my area served there for the better part of two years. I interviewed a soldier from the MP unit that guarded the prison in mid-2003 and he described wide swings of positive and negative -- from the nicknames soldiers gave some of the prisoners and the interesting food requests to attempted escapes... Anyway, says John Pike of
“The overall number is in the ballpark I would have expected, but that's a much bigger number at camp Bucca than I would have anticipated," Pike said. "You just don't hear that much about Camp Bucca. You would not have thought of it as being the primary holding facility.”
Well, I guess we can be thankful that the main facility isn't Abu Ghraib at this point.

Tags: , Middle East,
posted by JReid @ 2:09 PM  
No means ... not so much
Judge Alito takes one giant step away from his Reagan-era abortion statements. That likely won't help him with the ladies of NARAL or the wig that roars at Pfaw.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., an abortion rights supporter and the only woman on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she asked the conservative judge about a document released Monday showing Alito in 1985 telling the Reagan administration he was particularly proud to help argue that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

"He said first of all it was different then," she said. "He said, 'I was an advocate seeking a job, it was a political job and that was 1985. I'm now a judge, I've been on the circuit court for 15 years and it's very different. I'm not an advocate, I don't give heed to my personal views, what I do is interpret the law.'"

Yknow, I'm much more ready to give him a pass on his winger job application than on his curious dismissals of promises to Congress regarding Vanguard or his interesting take on the Supreme Court's right to limit Congress' authority to regulate interstate commerce in a certain machine gun case...

Tags:, , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, Abortion
posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
Heckle me this
Cheney gets the treatment again.

Tags: , protests, war
posted by JReid @ 1:59 PM  
Things that would never happen in America
11 Jordanian officials, including the country's national security adviser, have resigned in the wake of the Amman suicide bombings.

Tags: Terrorism, , Middle East
posted by JReid @ 1:56 PM  
Terror watch
Keith Olbermann raised some interesting questions about the Iraqi woman paraded on Jordanian TV as the alleged fourth bomber in the Jordanian hotel attacks. Just how close was she to her husband when he blew himself up, and how did she manage to escape the hall without a scratch? And why was she still wearing her suicide belt? Hm... Anyway, the Jordanians are now giving more detail, saying her part in the attack was fueled by the deaths of three of her brothers at the hands of U.S. forces in Fallujah...

Debka is reporting that of the 57 people killed in the suicide attacks on three American hotels, 27 were Palestinians including 17 from a single village on the West Bank. The independent, pro-Israeli news site also says one target of the attacks was actually the Palestinian Authority:

The Radisson was selected, according to our sources, because a Palestinian wedding party there was the opportunity for a mass-casualty strike on similar lines to the Passover Seder massacre of 17 Israelis at Netanya’s Park Hotel in March 2002. The attack on the Grand Hyatt struck the lobby where a group of senior Palestinian, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence officers were communing secretly and wiped out the entire group. Riyadh and Amman have not identified their officers. The Palestinians were Maj-General Bashir Nafeh, head of Palestinian military intelligence on the West Bank and Abed A-Lon a senior facilitator between the PA and Western intelligence. Palestinians were also hit at the Days Inn hotel.
Could it have something to do with Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, concluded in an E.U.-blessed deal sealed yesterday by Condi Rice, for opening Gaza? Who knows. Interestingly enough, the Debka site is also claiming (as of last week) that Zarqawi has moved his headquarters right onto the heart of U.S. operations: Baghdad. ...

Meanwhile, the U.S. use of white phosophorus in Fallujah won't die as an issue. The Independent is running two stories today, one on the overall issue of U.S. use of this nasty incendiary, and one quoting an alleged witness who claims to have treated Iraqi patients who'd had their skin burned off...

Who are the targets of the latest terror attacks? American interests of course: hotels in Jordan, an American fast food restaurant in Pakistan (the Karachi bomb was across the road from a hotel where the English cricket team is scheduled to stay next month. Also according to the Times of London: "It was unclear whether the KFC outlet, which was closed at the time, was the intended object of the blast. Two branches of the franchise have been attacked in Karachi in recent months but the restaurant, on Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road, shares its building with several oil companies, which police said could have been the target.")

In the oddball category, last week al-Qaida also issued a seemingly tangential threat against the Queen of England.

And in the most pathetic reach of the day, the desperate neocons at the Weekly Standard grasp at the Jordan bombings as proof that yes, yes, yes! Iraqis have always been suicidal al-Qaida terrorists! ...We just didn't actually see any before because they were pretending to be Saudis, maybe...? It would actually be funny if this crowd wasn't so dangerously influential... More from the Standard today: a tired rehash of long-debased neocon claims that Saddam Hussein wasn't a typical, secular Stalinist after all: he was Osama bin Laden without the funny hat!

Tags: Terrorism, , Middle East
posted by JReid @ 10:56 AM  
The end of the experiment
The neoconservative experiment in Iraq is all-but over. And it's the Republicans in the Senate who are unbarring the door for a crisp exit. Priority one for the nervous nellies in the GOP: end this damned war before the 2006 elections.

What the GOP needs next summer are G.I.s rolling down the avenue in ticker tape parades, not funeral processions. And in order to hold onto power in both houses, and to prevent a full-scale descent into Democrat-led investigations, and even the possible censure and (in a very long shot) impeachment of this president (deceiving Congress, let alone to start a war, is a "high crime" if I've ever heard one...) the Republican Party must stop this war, or at least signal to the American people that it's fast coming to an end. It's even arguable that they want it over more than the dithering Democrats do. ... Patiently awaiting Bill Kristol's meltdown. ...

The GOP plan is being wrapped in the required "no cut and run" lingo, even though it's essentially a John Warner "edit" of a pull-out plan written by Senat Democrats. And guess who helped "the other Virginia Warner" write said GOP plan:

The proposal on the Iraq war, from Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, and Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would require the administration to provide extensive new quarterly reports to Congress on subjects like progress in bringing in other countries to help stabilize Iraq. The other appeals related to Iraq are nonbinding and express the position of the Senate.

The plan stops short of a competing Democratic proposal that moves toward establishing dates for a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. But it is built upon the Democratic approach and makes it clear that senators of both parties are increasingly eager for Iraqis to take control of their country in coming months and open the door to removing American troops.

Mr. Warner said the underlying message was, "we really mean business, Iraqis, get on with it." The senator, an influential party voice on military issues, said he did not interpret the wording of his plan as critical of the administration, describing it as a "forward-looking" approach.

"It is not a question of satisfaction or dissatisfaction," he said. "This reflects what has to be done." [NYT 11/15/05]
More signs of the intrusion of realpolitik on the neoconservatives' dreams of "benign empire":

A bipartisan group of senators reached a compromise yesterday that would dramatically alter U.S. policy for treating captured terrorist suspects by granting them a final recourse to the federal courts but stripping them of some key legal rights.

The compromise links legislation written by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), which would deny detainees broad access to federal courts, with a new measure authored by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) that would grant detainees the right to appeal the verdict of a military tribunal to a federal appeals court. The deal will come to a vote today, and the authors say they are confident it will pass.

Graham and Levin indicated they would then demand that House and Senate negotiators link their measure with the effort by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to clearly ban torture and abuse of terrorism suspects being held in U.S. facilities.

"McCain's amendment needs to be part of the overall package, because it deals with standardizing interrogation techniques and will reestablish moral high ground for the United States," Graham said.

Such broad legislation would be Congress's first attempt to assert some control over the detention of suspected terrorists, which the Bush administration has closely guarded as its sole prerogative. By linking a provision to deny prisoners the right to challenge their detention in federal court with language restricting interrogation methods, senators hope to soften the administration's ardent opposition to McCain's anti-torture provision -- or possibly win its support.

The Justice and Defense departments have expressed strong support for legislation that would curtail a flurry of civil litigation coming out of the military's detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to some senators involved in the negotiation. "The truth is, this is something the administration would dearly like," Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said of the language curtailing detainee access to the courts.
Never mind that Cheney won't like it. I think at this point it's probably safe to say that few around the White House care what he doesn't like.

The Coalition of the Ever Less Willing

Not to be left behind, Tony Blair signals that Britain could reduce its troop strength in Iraq next year, too...

The new and less U.S.-friendly Spanish government says it's still looking into those 10 secret CIA flights that may have made stopovers in Spain while ferrying terror detainees to America-friendly gulags across Europe, and that if the allegations are true, it could "damage U.S.-Spanish relations."

And apparently, the lingering war in Afghanistan isn't exactly going great guns either...

Back in Iraq, trying Saddam Hussein is turning into a game of "keep the lawyers alive and in the country..."

Tags: , Middle East, War, Bush, Foreign Policy, Republicans, GOP
posted by JReid @ 10:32 AM  
Christy Todd Whitman slept here (but come visit anyway)

New Jersey is looking for a new slogan. And yes, it does always smell like that...

Tags: , Advertising, Marketing,
posted by JReid @ 8:33 AM  
Monday, November 14, 2005
The chronicles of Mad Marion

Andy Borowitz puts forth his theory of Pat Robertson's evolution (hat tip to Jay Tea at Wizbang, who joins Mark from Tempus Fugit in declaring their blogs a a "Robertson free zone." Y'know, I'd love to do that, too, but the guy is just too much fun to watch...

Up next, some guy in Dover, Pennsylvania actually takes Robertson seriously... Ohmigod, there's another one! But not the York Disptach -- they give Old Marion the thumbs down. And Robertson's folly prompts Leonard Pitts to reveal that he was a "C" student in science! Hey, doesn't that make him presidential timber...? And last but not least, we go as far away from home as the Sydney Morning Herald to learn that not only does Pat Robertson insult God's intelligence, "intelligent design" does too...


Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 1:13 PM  
Time for censure?
Not that the back-scratching, GOP-led United States Congress would do it, but Prof. Martin Halperin makes a good point. Given what we now know about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Congress should, at the least, censure President Bush.

President Bush used the occasion of Veteran’s Day to attack critics of the Iraq war as unpatriotic. In the face of the overwhelming evidence that the war was started on false premises, the president has the audacity to state that anyone who raises questions about the origins of the war are hurting our soldiers and giving aid and comfort to our enemies. The president makes no sense and has no shame.

Bush makes no sense because he pulled a bait and switch and asks us not to notice. He asked Congress for a blank check to use force if necessary against the government of Saddam Hussein because they supposedly had weapons of mass destruction which they might use against us. Since this was false, we had no reason to attack Iraq. Indeed, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has pointed out that the war was illegal.

The original bait was false, but the switch is equally outrageous. What is the mission now? Hussein is in jail so we are no longer there to fight him. Bush is acting like a drunk who stumbles into the wrong house in the subdivision and then pulls out his gun and starts shooting when the homeowners start bickering among themselves about the best way try to drive him out. Why not just leave and let everyone live a little longer?

Of course, Bush is not himself bearing arms. It is our young men and women who are doing so. It is Bush who has cavalierly sent our volunteer soldiers, overwhelmingly working class, into harm’s way on false pretenses and keeps them there without justification. He demands the rest of us cheer on this misuse of our own sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, friends and neighbors. But the truly moral thing to do is to stand up and speak truth to power, insist that our young not be sacrificed to an ignoble cause in which torture becomes as routine as drinking a few beers on Saturday night.

Bush calls out Senator John Kerry by name because he was one of those who voted to give him a blank check and now criticizes the war. But John Kerry is following the fine example of Senator J. William Fulbright, who shepherded the Tonkin Gulf resolution through Congress and then led in criticizing the Vietnam War and the false pretenses that President Lyndon Johnson used to escalate it. ...
As Professor Halperin points out, it is not necessary for Democrats or Republicans for that matter, to have originally opposed the war in order to oppose its continuation in its present form (or at all). In fact, it's the supporters of the war, people like Kerry, Jay Rockefellar, Chuck Hagel and former Senator John Edwards, who may have the most powerful anti-war argument of all. Read the rest here.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Bush, Foreign Policy, Congress
posted by JReid @ 1:00 PM  
Confessions, part two
U.S. forces may at one point have held one of the alleged Jordan hotel bombers, an AP story says. And many Jordanians just aren't buying the creepy female wedding bomber confession.

Previous: Confessions (part one)

Tags: , Middle East, bombings, Terrorism, Jordan
posted by JReid @ 12:52 PM  
Dick Cheney: King of the 'Dark Arts?'
The Village Voice tees off on Dick "Torture Guy" Cheney... and says Bush should fire him.

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:45 PM  
Hack attack
The administration and its friends in media, including hacks like Fox News' Chris Wallace and radioland's Laura Ingraham (who's still trying to pretend to be a soldier-lovin', pro-"intelligent design" bumpkin even while telling her radio audience that the movie she went to see over the weekend was "Capote" -- it's about Truman Capote for gods sakes! I guarantee not one soul in her audience even knows who that is!!! Does Laura think playing a little country music at the top of the hour is going to cover her tracks? Back to the think tank with you, lady! You're not fooling anybody!!!) Ahem... is that it wasn't the poor, hapless Bush administration who claimed that Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States -- oh no -- it was Jay Rockefellar... Hm...How to explain this stuff, then:

"There's no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States."
• White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, 8/26/03

"We ended the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
• President Bush, 7/17/03

Iraq was "the most dangerous threat of our time."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 7/17/03

"Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States because we removed him, but he was a threat...He was a threat. He's not a threat now."
• President Bush, 7/2/03

• White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat," 5/7/03

"We gave our word that the threat from Iraq would be ended."
• President Bush 4/24/03

"The threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be removed."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 3/25/03

"It is only a matter of time before the Iraqi regime is destroyed and its threat to the region and the world is ended."
• Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, 3/22/03

"The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."
• President Bush, 3/19/03

"The dictator of Iraq and his weapons of mass destruction are a threat to the security of free nations."
• President Bush, 3/16/03

"This is about imminent threat."
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

Iraq is "a serious threat to our country, to our friends and to our allies."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/31/03

Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/30/03

Iraq "threatens the United States of America."
• Vice President Cheney, 1/30/03

"Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country. His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/29/03

"Well, of course he is.”
• White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question “is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03

"Saddam Hussein possesses chemical and biological weapons. Iraq poses a threat to the security of our people and to the stability of the world that is distinct from any other. It's a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East and to the international peace and stability. It's a danger we cannot ignore. Iraq and North Korea are both repressive dictatorships to be sure and both pose threats. But Iraq is unique. In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the United States and our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

"The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. ... Iraq is a threat, a real threat."
• President Bush, 1/3/03

"The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands."
• President Bush, 11/23/02

"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?"
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02

"Saddam Hussein is a threat to America."
• President Bush, 11/3/02

"I see a significant threat to the security of the United States in Iraq."
• President Bush, 11/1/02

"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein."
• President Bush, 10/28/02

"The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace."
• President Bush, 10/16/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
• President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."
• President Bush, 10/2/02

"This man poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined."
• President Bush, 9/26/02

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
• Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"Iraq is busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents, and they continue to pursue an aggressive nuclear weapons program. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam Hussein can hold the threat over the head of any one he chooses. What we must not do in the face of this mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or to willful blindness."
• Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/29/02
Source: Center for American Progress
Now let me ask you, before we invaded Iraq, did you feel that the administration was projecting that this was a threat somewhere way out in the distance, or one we had to take care of YESTERDAY? To now try to portray the administration as LESS alarmist than the Democrats in Congress is so funny I forgot to laugh.

Related: Richard Clarke told: find the link between Iraq and al-Qaida!
Woodward: Five days after 9/11, Rumsfeld already eyeballing Iraq...
Guardian: Powell had doubts going into U.N. speech...
Downing Street Memos reveal Bush-Blair plans to invade Iraq as early as July, 2002... (more from Sunday Times UK)...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Bush
posted by JReid @ 12:21 PM  
The Bushies' Big Time historical re-write
It was Ken Mehlman vs. HoDo on MTP this week, dueling over the run-up to the Iraq war (although Mary Mapes on Kurtz's "Reliable Sources" was much jucier -- Mapes is a pitt bull -- I like her! And Powerline's guy tanked with his sort of sad re-defense of Bush's now widely known sometiminess with the National Guard... (more on Mapes here). Anyway, I can't analyze the goings-on better than the Center for American Progress, so here's their write-up, to which I'll simply say "ditto":
On Veterans Day, President Bush chose to forgo the traditional Veterans Day activities and instead "hit back" against his critics – those calling for a strategy for success in Iraq. President Bush was joined in his offensive over the weekend with remarks by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadleyand RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. Bush’s latest case is based on three flawed points: 1) that Congress had the same pre-war intelligence as the White House; 2) that the Senate investigation found no administration manipulation of the intelligence; and 3) that world intelligence agencies agreed with the administration’s assessment of the Iraqi threat. While President Bush is entitled to try to defend his record, he is not entitled to his own facts.

Congress did not have the “same intelligence” as the White House. In his speech, Bush claimed that Congress "had access to the same intelligence" as his administration. This is false. According to the Washington Post, Bush and his aides had access to “much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material.” Even Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) acknowledged that the differences in intelligence seen by Congress and the White House “may be a concern to some extent.”

The Senate Intelligence Report showed that there was manipulation of the evidence. President Bush claimed that "abipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs." This claim is wrong on two counts. First, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence “has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions.” Second, the Senate Intelligence Committee's Phase I report found, according to the LA Times (7/10/04), that the unclassified public version of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was manipulated. "[C]arefully qualified conclusions [in the classified NIE] were turned into blunt assertions of fact. "

The entire world was not in agreement with the Bush administration. Bush defenders all say that other intelligence agencies agreed with the administration’s findings. "Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russians, the French ... all reached the same conclusion," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on CBS' "Face the Nation." The truth is many of our friends and allies believed that, based on the intelligence they had, the threat of Iraq did not rise to the level of justifying immediate force. France, Germany and Russia all believed that the evidence presented did not justify utilizing their last resort – declaring war.
... just what kind of Neocon hash is John McCain smoking, anyway?

BTW I just re-read a May 2004 Vanity Fair piece (exerpt here) that described the run-up to war with Iraq, from September 11, 2001 onward, in depth, and lo and behold, it contained the same characters and scenarios, from Wilkerson and Powell's doubts to Cheney and Libby's pressure, to Feith and Wolfowitz's zeal, to Rumsfeld's blythness and Condi Rice's cluelessness (Condi is described in the article as a "courtier" with "no opinions of her own" -- some presidential material, that...) that are now being "discovered" by the major media. Where have they been all this time?

More stuff to read: Four lessons from the Iraq WMD report, from the April 7, 2005 Village Voice (Lesson 2: Never, never, never trust Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress...)

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 12:03 PM  
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Decoding Donald Rumsfeld
The David Von Drehl piece on Rumsfeld and his iffy stance on Iraq in today's WaPo is the must-read of the day (also referenced in the post below.)

Tags: Rumsfeld, , Middle East, href="">War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 2:47 PM  
This is a fascinating and disturbing story -- the real-life Bonnie to an Iraqi suicide bomber "Clyde" confesses her failed attempt to blow up a Palestinian-Jordanian wedding. Here's the AP version, packed with details about the alleged crime, including how the woman -- whose brother was described as Zarqawi's "right hand man" in Iraq before he was killed by U.S. forces in Fallujah -- crossed over the border from Anbar province where she and her husband were from, into the Kingdom of Jordan. The BBC version also carries a fuller description of the ball bearing and bomb device, plus maps of the targeted area and a picture of the suicide belt itself. Scary stuff.

Tags: , Middle East, bombings, Terrorism, Jordan
posted by JReid @ 1:42 PM  
On reflection
John Edwards becomes the first pro-war Senate Democrat to stand up and say forthrightly: 'I was wrong' to give the president the authority to invade Iraq. (I think John Kerry minced out some sentiments to that effect at some point, but because he has been so typically oblique, it's hard to give him any credit for it). Edwards has taken a huge and principled step forward; it's one that many in this country will have to take for themselves, as the reality of just how badly our leadership in Washington erred -- in the White House and in the absentee Congress --sets in, and he should be congratulated for it. From Edwards' op-ed in today's Washington Post:

The Right Way in Iraq
By John Edwards
Sunday, November 13, 2005; B07

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

The urgent question isn't how we got here but what we do now. We have to give our troops a way to end their mission honorably. That means leaving behind a success, not a failure. ...
Edwards goes on to explain how he would improve the situation in Iraq, including a drawdown of American forces proportional to the number of Iraqi troops we certify as properly trained. He makes the painfully obvious point that our presence there, including the overbearing (and too often scandalized) presence of U.S. contractors is eating away at this country and making things worse in Iraq. Once a government is formed -- for the third time -- in December, it is time for us to leave that country.

Good for you, John Edwards. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

There's no such reflection apparent from Don Rumsfeld, who is also featured in the WaPo today, in a front page story. The rub:
...Military experts and strategic thinkers differ over whether the insurgency in Iraq can be quelled and a legitimate government stabilized on a timeline and a budget that the American people will support. Will it turn out to be "the greatest strategic disaster in our history," as retired Army Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, the Army's chief of intelligence and director of the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration, recently asserted? Or will it someday be seen as "a hard struggle" toward an eventual victory, albeit a struggle through "the crucible with the blood and the dust and the gore," as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers said in his final congressional testimony in September before retiring? Myers acknowledged that "we've made lots of mistakes along the way." But, he said, that was because "we are trying to do in Iraq what has never been done before."

But there is broad agreement now that if the United States salvages a victory in Iraq, it will come in spite of the initial war planning, not because of it. Rumsfeld's own advisory think tank, the Defense Science Board, took a long look at this issue last year and concluded that the architects of the Iraq war -- led by Rumsfeld -- lacked necessary knowledge of Iraq and its people, and that they failed to factor in well-known lessons of history.

"It is clear that Americans who waged the war and who have attempted to mold the aftermath have had no clear idea of the framework that has molded the personalities and attitudes of Iraqis," the board declared in a report bearing the official seal of the Department of Defense. "It might help if Americans and their leaders were to show less arrogance and more understanding of themselves and their place in history. Perhaps more than any other people, Americans display a consistent amnesia concerning their own past, as well as the history of those around them."

Rumsfeld may not be taking much stock because he has been putting not-too-subtle distance between himself and the failed Iraq policy all along.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 1:25 PM  
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Disturbing headlines: conspiracy theories
Today's entires: Many in Jordan aren't blaming Iraqis for the suicide attacks on four American hotels, as many ex-pat Iraqis have feared, they're blaming the Israelis...Says the Times:

While it appears that most Jordanians have accepted that Mr. Zarqawi was involved - with many saying they are sickened by his actions - there is little criticism for those who scapegoat Israel. A former prime minister, Tahir Masri, who said it was clear that Israel was not involved in this attack, said he understood why so many people blame Israel.

"You have to understand, Baghdad was the capital for Arabs and Muslims for 1,000 years," Mr. Masri said. "It is occupied by Americans now. Jerusalem and Baghdad are both occupied. It is too much for ordinary people to bear. If you add to it the misery that people are facing because of the lack of democracy and humiliation by their rulers, that kind of scapegoat we have to have."
Never mind that al-Qaida has taken credit for the bombings, and that, according to Debka, the group released a statement in which "Jordan was termed “Israel’s buffer zone.” It will not be long, said the statement, “before raids by the mujahedeen come to the Jewish state itself.” Still, these theories have been fueled by the inevitable "Jews warned of bombings beforehand" stories, which echo the Netanyahu escape stories when the London bombings took place in July (not to mention 9/11). In some cases, those stories are fueled by actual reporting, such as this Haaretz article that states that Israelis were evacuated from the Jordan hotels before the attacks. But of course, the root of the misdirected rage lies in the continued conflict over Palestine...

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin links to this story about a BYU professor who's speculating that the WTC was felled by explosives planted inside the buildings, not by the planes that hit them (see physics prof Steven Jones paper on the subject here. Note to "moonbat watchers," he doesn't say he thinks the Bushies did it, that's you saying that...) Anyway, Jones clearly wouldn't be the first to raise doubts about what happened on 9/11. There are also those persistent "hunt the Boeing!" queries about the Pentagon (pretty thoroughly debunked here and here) ...

So what's behind the conspiratorial thinking? Rage and frustration at not being able to change policy, whether it's Arabs and Israel or anti-Bush civilians and the administration. Now, the queries on the Trade Center probably go beyond that -- there is a certain amount of ireesistability about probing the engineering behind what for many people, myself included, was the most horrific single image we've ever had in our heads: the twin towers collapsing like two damsels fainting into the dust. It was extraordinary and mentally jarring, and the mind wants to say it couldn't possibly have been done by a small band of outsiders whose leader lives in a cave. (What is equally extraordinary is that the perception of an American president could be so low that some people whould sooner believe that he was responsible for the deaths of some 2,000 people on 9/11 than Osama bin Laden. In life, I guess we pick our villains.)

Now if you really want to talk conspiracy, what about the cheeky late Ayatollah Khomeini, who apparently issued a fatwa that has since turned Iran into the sex change capitol of the world? And it may have all been a clever way to stamp out "alternative lifestyles..." Now that's something to write a BYU paper about...

Tags: News, , Bush, Jordan, Israel
posted by JReid @ 11:19 PM  
The boys who cried 'nuclear'
So now the Bush administration is trying to prove Iran has nuclear weapons. Sadly, they may even be right, though who would believe them now...?

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 10:05 PM  
State of the union
You know its bad when they go from showing you off in your flight suit to taking pictures of you in your leotard...

President Bush is at 36 percent approval in the latest Newsweek poll, which shows that the proverbial dam has broken on Americans' abject trust in the guy from the fireman's mound. There's lots of advice going around on how Bush can fix this, but I'm not sure how he does it.

When Reagan had the Iran-Contra problem, I remember the questions being more about whether he was even in the loop, or whether he was taken advantage of as his mental acuity declined. Either way, Reagan publicly took responsibility and that vaporized many of the questions about his honesty. ...

with Bill Clinton, the scandal was about sex, and most people already perceived him as a guy with, shall we say, healthy appetites for the ladies, so most of us didn't care (and certainly didn't want a good president impeached over it). So again, the scandal didn't resonate (interestingly, Clinton's 36% approval rating came not during the impeachemnt fiasco, but in May of 1993, when he was mired in stumbles over nominations -- particularly Lani Guinier's. But once his budget of that year passed and the economy started to pick up, Clinton's poll problems mostly went away, and they stayed away as long as he was perceived as a competent manager of the economy.

Bush II couldn't recover from his 30-something rating late in 1992 because the economy sucked, and things Bush did -- particularly during Hurricane Andrew -- revealed him to be unsympathetic to average Americans. And he broke his "no tax increase" pledge (which helped the economy but not him).

Seeing a pattern here? Bush II's problem isn't nominations -- the Miers flap was ultimately more about him and his judgment than it was about her. It isn't about a bad news cycle either. It's about a perception of incompetence, on a host of issues (the economy, the middle class squeeze, foreign policy, and especially Iraq). And it's about his having been revealed to have the hurricane and economic sensitivity of his father, but not his father's acumen on dealing with foreign policy. Not to mention the lying before the war, and the now ingrained perception that he and his administration -- especially his vice president -- would have done anything and said anything in order to invade Iraq, with the result being more than 2,000 dead G.I.s and tens of thousands injured (not to mention the countless Iraqi dead and the deaths of coalition troops). How do you turn that around?

And speaking of perceptions on lying, in case you missed the Friday WSJ poll, here are the bottom lines:

  • 54% of Republicans happy with Alito ... Liberals unhappy by 40% to 16% ...
  • "21% say their mid-term election vote will reflect support for the president, 39% say they'll be sending signal of opposition; amid 1998 Lewinsky scandal, just 23% said they'd be signaling opposition to Clinton."
  • "Congress draws 57% disapproval, highest in nine years." ... "a 43% plurality of rural and small-town voters wants Democrats to control Congress. Republican Party is viewed negatively overall by 43% to 32% margin, but so are Democrats, 36% to 33%."
  • Bush sporting "net negative approval ratings of seven percentage points among white men, 25 points among senior citizens, and 33 points among independents."
  • "Six in 10, including 43% of Republicans, say there should be a public investigation and hearings into exposure of operative Valerie Plame's identity. ... Among conservatives, 60% say other administration officials aside from Libby may have acted illegally. Fully 69% of Americans hold Cheney personally responsible for the matter; 54% hold Bush responsible."
  • "Better news for the president: 55% say administration has "taken the right course" on treatment of terror-war prisoners abroad, compared with 30% who say tactics have "gone too far.""
  • Just a third want fast approval of immigrant guest-worker plan, blanket spending reduction, or making tax cuts permanent. (Emphasis WSJ's)
  • "After publicity in CIA-leak case, White House adviser Rove has name recognition among almost two-thirds of Americans. Overall, his 35% negative rating dwarfs his 10% positive mark. Bush's 2004 supporters divide: 19% positive, 18% negative."

There's more stuff on the 2008 pretend presidential match-ups and more which you can read here. Enjoy.

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posted by JReid @ 9:23 PM  
What's the gayest thing in boxing?
Even if it was Layla Ali you wouldn't hear it from me because I know she could whup my behind. Now Queen Latifah I don't know ... she's kinda big, I might be able to run away from her... Cue the lap dance music! (Wink).

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 5:33 PM  
Mining the wedge
Howard Fineman has a terrific analysis of Democratic strategy during the president's current crisis. Cliff notes: "Get Cheney."

Tags: , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 5:30 PM  
Signs of the times...
Robert Scheer was fired from the LATimes this week. Among the new LAT columnists: three from the house of Neocon: Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations, Johnathan Chait of the Deocon mag the New Republic, and Jonah Goldberg from National Review. Scheer will now write for the HuffPo. Interesting...

Quotable: "If I would do another 'Terminator' movie I would have Terminator travel back in time and tell Arnold not to have a special election." Arnold Schwarzenegger on his self-made California election debacle.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff sought a $9 ... er... "fee" from the president of chronic human rights abuser Gabon (or should I say "fellow human rights abuser... hm ... better consult John McCain on that one later...) to set up a meeting between President Bongo and President Bush. Yes, his name really is President Bongo...

Muhammad Ali may be getting on in hears, but he knows crazy when he sees it. Keep laughing and passing out the Freedom medals, President Bush, laughing and passing...

And who's raising money for Tom DeLay? Why, top lobbyists for the oil and energy industries of course. Is there such a thing as a "cancelling effect" of mutually bad P.R.? Now if DeLay could just get Abramoff to fork over some of that $9 million, he'd be golden...

Oh, and the president's approval rating? It's at 36 percent, according to Newsweek. "Half of Americans believe he's not honest and ethical." Only 29 percent think Cheney is honest/ethical, and 26 percent of Republicans believe otherwise. The pain keeps coming:
Fifty-two percent of Americans believe Cheney “deliberately misused or manipulated pre-war intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities in order to build support for war,” including 22 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents.

Most worrisome for the White House: the base seems to be cracking. When asked whether anyone in the administration “acted unethically” in the case involving the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name, a 54-percent majority of Americans said they did—and 30 percent of Republicans said they did. And 45 percent of Americans believe someone in the “Bush administration broke the law and acted criminally”—including 22 percent of Republicans.
And this one is just for Chuck Todd at the Hotline: "When NEWSWEEK asked registered voters whether they planned to vote for a Democrat or a Republican in those elections, 53 percent said a Democrat and 36 percent said a Republican." Yes, Chuck, they're just not benefitting from Dubya's troubles...

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posted by JReid @ 5:03 PM  
Our spinoff, ourselves

Liberia, the country founded by African-American slaves, has elected its first woman president. Barring a successful bid to decertify the election by the former soccer star who opposed Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (unlikely since her lead is apparently "insurmountable,") Ms. Johnson-Sirleaf will take her place as the first female head of state in Africa since Guinea-Bissau elevated a woman to chair of the National People's Assembly for all of two days in 1984 (Burundi had a female "acting president" for about six months in 1993-94). Good for her, and what a great day for the women of Africa, who can always use a psychic lift. Now, here's a list of other countries have had women heads of state (not counting queens, so we'll also have to nix New York City... sorry, Mr. Bloomberg...):

  • Mongolia
  • China
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Iceland
  • Malta
  • San Marino (several)
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Philippines (2)
  • Haiti
  • Germany
  • Nicaragua
  • Ireland (2)
  • Sri Lanka
  • Guyana
  • Swizerland
  • Latvia
  • Panama
  • Finland

Prime Ministers:

  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka (at least twice)
  • Israel
  • Central African Republic
  • Portugal
  • Dominica
  • Norway
  • Yugoslavia
  • Lithuania
  • Bangladesh
  • France
  • Poland
  • Canada
  • Turkey
  • Burundi
  • Rwanda
  • Bulgaria
  • Haiti
  • Guyana
  • New Zealand
  • Mongolia
  • Senegal
  • South Korea
  • Finland
  • Peru
  • Mozanbique
  • Macedonia
  • Ukraine


  • The United States

Yes, there are others, but it's still interesting ... Here's the complete list.

Tags: women, presidents

posted by JReid @ 4:30 PM  
Once more, just for clarity
Seems the right is pleased with GWB's forceful, Podhoretzian defense of the Iraq war this week. Seems the neocons and their fellow travelers like it when Bush is in "campaign mode." ... Too bad Bush's defense is so full of holes. From WaPo today:

President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions. [Wash Post, 11/11/05]
In fact, the administration argument makes no sense, because they are essentially arguing that lawmakers are guilty of agreeing with the information they were given by the administration. Is their point that Congress should have disbelieved the White House? Actually, that's my argument, not theirs, because from day one, many of us civilians out here thought the Congress was too quick to cede its sole right to declare war, and were much too quick to believe the hoakum coming out of the Vice President's office, the NSA and the blinkered political appointee in charge of the CIA. Had the Congress more jealously guarded its prerogatives, and insisted that the assertions being made to it be backed up by more than just Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld's word, we might not have careened into an ill-planned, ill-advised, unnecessary war in Iraq.

Indeed the broad "Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq" signed by more than 100 members of Congress will go down in history as another act of self-sabotage by the branch of government that was founded to be preeminent among the three -- just a nother stinking Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which is and was a shame on the Congress.

That said, it was the president who chose to use the resolution -- which did not demand an ivasion, but which left him the lattitude to carry one out for only two purposes: "(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq." Iraq clearly posed no such national security threat, and it is becoming abundantly clear that the administration had reason to know that, and the United Nations never authorized, nor did it want, us to go to war to defend its resolutions.

The only question left for my money, is why on earth this is not broadly considered to be impeachable by the Congress. Maybe if Dubya had an affair with Saddam's sister...?

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Bush
posted by JReid @ 4:01 PM  
The burping of the president
More and more evidence is emerging that President Bush has not just been ill-served by his staff, he has been outright infantalized by them. When adult decisions are made, he seems to be in the dark. Consider the following:

Larry Wilkenson says a memo saying hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to pacify Iraq may have been kept from the president. He points the finger at Condi Rice or her successor Stephen Hadley. Burp...

The Prince of Darkness reports in his column that President Bush was livid with his staff over the scheduling during his South American tour. "The crowning indignity for Bush was the Friday night state dinner starting at 10 p.m., an hour when the president normally is in bed. He left the dinner early, but it was midnight by then." Burp...

And then there is the allegation that the president relied on yet another forged document for a major speech -- this time on Veterans Day, when he came out swinging in defense of the war.

Well, at least he had more pre-war intel than congress...

Tags: , , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
The tail is wagging the dog
From the web-site of the Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution (hat tip to Rawstory):
Chalabi Pushes Iran Card in Last Ditch Self-Promotion Offensive

Washington D.C. – Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi has been playing hard ball with Bush administration officials during his eight day trip to Washington D.C.

According to senior associates of the Iraqi official, who have accompanied him to meetings with Bush administration officials, Mr. Chalabi has been threatening his friends in the Bush administration that if they do not support his candidacy to become the next prime minister of Iraq that there will be no way to contain Iran. He has told them in no uncertain terms that he is the only one who can make the Iranians behave.

Such threats, whether accurate or not, ring sweetly in the ears of an administration desperately in search of solutions for a troubled region. Under harsh pressure from Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon to do something about Iran, the White House has approved a series of “highly intrusive and provocative’ intelligence operations against the government of Iran”, according to a highly placed official who formerly worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. These intelligence monitoring operations consist of everything from aerial surveillance missions that straddle Iranian airspace that are launched from Iraq and Kazakhstan, to even more controversial operations that shall remain nameless for the time being.

Last Monday, the Iranian government announced that it had found the wreckage of two U.S. unmanned spy planes. Iranian officials described the crash of a Shadow 200 RQ-7 drone in Ilam Province and of a Hermes drone in the Khoram Abad area of Iran. The Pentagon issued no comment to the Iranian claims.

Mr. Chalabi, a convicted embezzler in Jordan, is a known friend of Iran. He visited that country before arriving in Washington D.C. earlier this week. In his last ditch quest for power, Chalabi reiterated to U.S. officials that Iran’s unpredictable President Ahmadinejad may decide to play the oil card as a weapon against the United States. Specifically, he told them that President Ahmadinejad might team up with President Chavez of Venezuela, thereby withholding substantial amounts of oil from the international marketplace, as a means of driving up the price of a barrel of oil. At present, the United States relies on 7.4% of its petroleum products from Venezuela. Meanwhile, Iran provides 5% of all oil production globally. “If Iran and Venezuela decided to team up and squeeze the United States, Uncle Sam might have to scream uncle,” explained one of Chalabi’s friends.

Chalabi also took advantage of uneasiness within the Bush White House over Iran’s desire to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Though he acknowledged U.S. and European efforts to move Iran’s nuclear activities to Russia, he said he was the only one to convince Iran not to use uranium enrichment conversion for unsafe purposes.

The Bush administration knows Chalabi is a friend of Iran, perhaps too close of a friend, given that he is currently under investigation for passing vital U.S. intelligence secrets to Tehran. Nevertheless, much of what Mr. Chalabi has told his old friends in the Bush administration has pleased them. For example, he has talked openly here about the nature of the future government of Iraq, as to whether it should be Islamist or secular. This is a topic Washington and Iran are worlds apart on.

Furthermore, Chalabi also told Washington of the growing unhappiness in Tehran, among certain classes, with President Ahmadinejad. He reported that billions of dollars in capital has been removed from Iran and placed in banks in Dubai by fearful Iranians. In addition, he told U.S. officials about Iranian concerns over a poorly constructed Russian nuclear research reactor in Bushehr, Iran that Iranians fear may trigger another Chernobyl-like disaster. Lastly, he relayed the degree to which Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was growing increasingly unhappy with President Ahmadinejad.

In spite of Chalabi’s record as a double-dealer and a record of being an unreliable source, the Bush administration is becoming increasingly interested in backing a coalition government in Iraq that places Chalabi and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, as the rightful leaders of that country.

So tell me, David Frum, still think your boy Chalabi is benign? And how did it happen that Iran, Iraq and Israel's Likud Party gained the whip-hand over the foreign policy of an American president? Is this what the Bush doctrine is about? And I suppose it should be of some comfort that Jack Straw says the U.S. and U.K. have no intention to invade Iran. ... not that we could, with our military bogged down in Iraq...

Tags: , Middle East, Chalabi,
posted by JReid @ 1:35 PM  
Saturday morning cartoons: 'Their status ain't hood...'
... but Bush, Cheney and Rummy still need some soldiers. No, really, they need some soldiers... Watch and enjoy. Hat tip to Talkleft.

Tags: , War, comedy
posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
Friday, November 11, 2005
Bill O'Reilly invites terror attack on San Francisco!
... not to be outdone by Pat Robertson, Bill O'Reilly takes Mad Marion's Godly damnation and raises it a Bin Laden:

"You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds,' " O'Reilly said Tuesday on his radio show as San Franciscans were approving the two measures. Perhaps, he didn't realize that he'd be speaking mostly to foreign tourists and suburbanites if he were standing in Union Square.

"Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead," O'Reilly went on. "And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."
Oh the O'manity!!! Best response to Louis the Loofah's latest bout of verbal diarrhea:

"It sounds like he's on the same medication Rush Limbaugh is addicted to, and he should go see a therapist,'' [San Franciso Board of Supervisors President Aaron] Peskin said.
Wrong again, people. Limbaugh's hooked on pain meds. O'Reilly? He prefers the crack...

Update! Firefighters invite O'Reilly to run into a burning building!

Updated Update! O'Reilly not backing down, still maximizing turkey neck in still photographs!

Double secret update background! Right wing media blogger clarifies: O'Reilly didn't say al-Qaida should blow up San Francisco ... he said after they blow up the city, don't expect FEMA to come running to the wrong city two days later with trailers full of ice! Thanks for the clarification, Newsbusters!

Actually, in fairness to O'Reilly, when he made his statement, he wasn't speaking as himself -- he was channeling a rejuvenated President Bush, whom O'Reilly suggested should make the anti-Frisco statement from his "little podium" in Union Square... Now that's some fine speechwriting. Top that, David Frum!

Tags: , , , Terrorism, .
posted by JReid @ 11:30 PM  
Jared Leto, public enemy number one?
Uh-oh... the right isn't going to like this... at the MTV Europe Awards, actor Jared Leto took a shot at President Bush while handing out the Best Alternative Band award. Leto asked the crowd in Portugal to repeat the following: "war," "peace," "poverty," "charity," "George Bush" -- at which point the crowd roundly booed. Then Leto said, "luckily, there's an alternative." Not exactly a Susan Sarandon moment, but it still will probably get his movies banned from the FReeper "go see" list...

Tags: , War, entertainment, Hollywood, actors, MTV
posted by JReid @ 10:32 PM  
Mugged by colleagues ... or by reality?
Judy Miller finally has a defender ... at the NY Post!

Tags: , , , , PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 8:08 PM  
Bush fights the neocons' battles ... again
At the start of this week, the neocons apparently tired of watching the president take a beating in the polls over their Iraq war, and urged him to fight back. Five days later, just as they previously did with Charles Krauthammer on the Miers yanking, the Bush team picked up the necon playbook and followed it.

Today, President Bush and his neocon NSA advisor Stephen Hadley lead the charge to rebut critics of the war. Their argument: the critics are rewriting history, since, just as the neocons (Stephen Hayes, David Frum and Kristol principally) have been urging the Bushies to argue, they saw the same intel the president did, and they believed it just as the president did. (The argument sounds a lot like my kids' argument for why one has hit the other -- he hit me, too!) The implication of the argument is that any of them -- John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Hagel, Jay Rockefellar -- would have launched the invasion had they been in Bush's place.

But here's the problem: those members of Congress, including Democrats, who voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq if he deemed it necessary, did not see the same intelligence that the White House did. In fact, there's reason to believe that the White House didn't see all of the intelligence, but rather a version of the intelligence that was picked clean of dissent by the Likudnik cabal operating out of Dick Cheney's and Donald Rumsfeld's offices. (More on the cabal's present dilemmas here, and an excellent summary of the president's dilemma by none other than William F. Buckley here).

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 2:21 PM  
Crazy ole' Pat Robertson - PA hellfire edition

Hello friends, and happy Intelligent Design Friday!

I'm Pat Robertson, and I'm often on TV! I'd like to share with you today some of what God had to say to me during our morning tea! I try to have tea with God every morning, when I'm able, especially on Fridays, when I eat only loves and fish... in commemoration of Jesus' powers of multiplication... Now, I mention multiplication because it's math! ... and math is often linked to science, which when utilized in school, is often lashed to the devil...!

Friends, do you believe in God? Great! Then you also believe that God created man by touching his finger to Adam's on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel! Eve before that, God created the whole world, 6,000 years ago, in just seven, 24-hour days! You believe that, right? Well I sure hope so. Because if you let yourself get all tangled up with all that "science" malarky, and start questioning how God could do something in seven days before there actually were any days, or wondering if perhaps Genesis isn't exactly literal, you might start doing other dangerous things: like believing in fossils and dinosaurs who weren't tamed by Adam in the Garden of Eden, and of course, playing with yourself and going blind...! If you let that happen then friends, I hate to break it to you, but you're on the fast track to Hell...

And as for you voters in Pennsylvania, I sure hope that God doesn't have to come calling on you with a FedEx delivery of hellfire and damnation today, on account of your dabbling with the wicked practice of scientific teaching. Why, you people actually voted God right out of town ...! ... treated him like a paroled prison convict, shoved a bus ticket and a crumpled $20 bill into his hands and chased him onto the Greyhound at the business end of a shotgun! Any why? Why? I won't even use that "E" word, because just saying it might expose me to the firey lick of hell's flaming inferno, where I would have to eternally burn with the likes of yew... I'm so sorry you did that. But if you ever need God again, I'm sure he'll be there for you ... NOT!

Well friends, that's all for today! Hopefully I'll see you again, when I'm on TV! I'm often on TV, friends, very, very often. And my real name is Marion, and I went to Yale! Did you know that, friends? Did you? You know I think I've gone and gotten off topic, like when I stop talking about Jesus on my TV show and start trying to sell you salad dressing and shakes! Do you ever shake, friends...? I do!

Well, God loves you! Unless you live in Pennsylvania, in which case he doesn't even know your name...

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:59 PM  
They're bullish on Warner!
Forget John Kerry and whoever else might be running in the Democratic primary in 2008. Hillary Clinton's real competition may be Mark Warner. Warner emerged as a media-annointed "big winner" in Tuesday's Virginia election, because in the end, his endorsement of Tim Kaine mattered where the president's endorsement of Kilgore didn't (btw, Giuliani's endorsement of Doug Forrester in New Jersey didn't either...)

Warner's strengths: he was a very popular Democratic governor of a red state, he's not so liberal (his "conservative positions on the death penalty, gun control, immigration, the economy and abortion" are deemed "Republican lite" by the snidely and leftly), he's very, very rich (and presumably has rich friends who could donate money to his campaign) and perhaps most importantly, he's not tainted in any way by the Iraq war (he wasn't in Congress and so didn't have to vote for or against it.) Needless to say, the neocons are clamoring to know where he stands on their beloved invasion, but so far, no one knows. (What seems clear is that between his positions on domestic issues and Hillary's on the war, Cindy Sheehan will loathe them both, which, of course, helps them both...)

The best scenario for Hillary would be that Warner runs a good primary campaign, but because of her far superior name recognition (she doesn't even need to use her last name), he winds up settling for a spot as her veep (he's young, 51, and so could be in line for the top job before he turns 60). Worst case: the media falls madly in love with Warner the way they have with John McCain, and he wins it all...

Update: In the intersting trivia department -- Warner co-founded Nextel, and no, he's not related to Va. Sen. John Warner (though he did run against him for Senate once, in a Warner vs. Warner druge match that the elder Warner won.) Source: Wikipedia, of course.

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posted by JReid @ 11:21 AM  
Kerry and McCain's Iraq smackdown

It seems Kerry and McCain are now dueling over Iraq -- Kerry now seems to regret voting for the war and has put forward a plan for phased withdrawal, while McCain is in full neocon mode, defending the invasion and calling for more troops, even as he makes a show at criticizing the president's war strategy.

Message: neither man is electable as president at this point. The American people have already rejected John Kerry (though I think he's right about withdrawing from Iraq); and even if McCain could get through the primary, having alienated much of the GOP right, and as right as he is on the question of torture, the Arizona Senator is at odds with public opinion on the war. Most Americans don't want to prolong the disaster in Iraq, let alone send more of our young men and women over there, no matter how desperately the necons try to argue for staying the course. Besides, there's a certain lusty hug McCain might want to eradicate from the Internet before moving on to the primaries...

Tags: Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 11:19 AM  
The Iraq effect - honesty and integrity edition
New poll, more pain for Dubya. Apparently, only southern, white evangelicals still think he's honest. Most Americans apparently still think Bush is "likable" (52-47) but a minority think the president is ethical (47-51), and even fewer think he's honest (42-57). And that's just the AP-Ipsos poll. A Nov 8-9 Fox/Opinion Dynamics poll found that 29 percent of respondents felt that the Bush administration is more ethical than recent presidential administrations, but 39 percent thought it was less so.

We all know what this is about: Iraq -- the necon's presidency-killing obsession, for which they continue to cling to a delusional version of reality, let alone to Ahmad Chalabi. Bush sent his nanny to Iraq to try and generate good press on this Veterans Day, but if you think that the sight of Condi with a pith helmet on is enough to turn public opinion in this country around, I've got a nice bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Tags: , Middle East, War, polls, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:52 AM  
Big Bill fights back
Former President Clinton defends his presidency at Hofstra U, and rightly slams the farce that was his impeachment over a sex scandal. Clinton asks, if infidelity is the key historical measure of leaders, than how many other leaders would you have to downgrade, Doug Brinkley?

From ThirdAge:
Infidelity affected the lives of David and Bathsheba in Biblical times, as well as those of Paris and Helen of Troy in ancient Greece. No less than four U.S. presidents--Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and most notoriously, Bill Clinton--have succumbed to its lure. So have civic leaders (Martin Luther King, Jr.) and royalty (Prince Charles and Princess Diana).
And let's not forget the allegations against former President Bush, whose more than a decade-long relationship with Jennifer Fitzgerald was rumored to be of the sexual kind...

Bottom line: the Republican Congress went after Clinton because they couldn't beat him the old fashioned way -- at the ballot box or in the public square. They hired a special counsel who would do anything to bring Clinton down, and wound up with nothing but a tawdry, half-assed affair with a chubby gal. For that, Clinton was impeached? Clinton is right to defend himself. The whole impeachment affair was a stain on the Congress, not the president.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 10:39 AM  
Texas hold-em
The same Senate (minus nine) that voted to disallow torture now votes to strip detainees of any legal options or rights, restoring them to the legal limbo the administration prefers. The vote was 49-42 with five Democrats crossing over to vote for the Lindsey Graham plan (Joe Lieberman of course, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon) and four Republicans crossing over in the other direction (Arlon Specter, John Sununu, NH, Gordon Smith, Oregon, and RI's Lincoln Chafee.

Tags: Iraq, Military, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:26 AM  
Happy Veterans Day -- now kindly go away
For the first time in 55 years, America's veterans will not be afforded the opportunity to testify before a joint congressional committee to explain their priorities and tell Congress where services may be falling short. Read on:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), announced plans to eliminate annual congressional hearings for Veterans Service Organizations. Under Buyer’s plan, The American Legion and other Veterans Service Organizations would no longer be afforded the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.

"I am extremely disappointed in Chairman Buyer's latest effort to ignore the Veterans Service Organizations. Eliminating annual hearings before a joint session of the Veterans Affairs Committees will lead to continued budgetary shortfalls for VA resulting in veterans being underserved," said National Commander Thomas L. Bock.

Chairman Buyer announced this change at a "Veterans Summit" he hosted at the Carlisle Barracks, Pa. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars were unable to attend. Although The American Legion was not in attendance at the meeting, National Commander Bock spoke to Chairman Buyer by phone today and expressed strong opposition to the Chairman's proposal. "While I am grateful for the Chairman's phone call, I failed to understand the logic behind denying veterans service organizations their voice before the very Committees charged with ensuring the care and well-being of America’s veterans," stated Bock.

Traditionally, Veterans Service Organizations have presented not only their budgetary recommendations, but also their overall legislative priorities to the members of both the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees during the annual joint hearings. These hearings provide the single opportunity for the leaders of the veterans community to directly address the members of the Committees that have jurisdiction over the programs created to serve America's veterans. To deny that opportunity is to deny this nation's veterans.
Why would the GOP want to do such a thing on the eve of Veterans Day? Hmmm... Could it have something to do with not wanting to give veterans -- including OIF veterans -- the chance to talk about -- and get media coverage for -- the failures of the Bush administration and Republican congress on subjects like veterans healthcare, issues over compensation for PTSD for troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, job losses and financial crises for those returning from the wars, continued equipment problems in Iraq and more of the stuff you can read about here, but not, say, here or here?

The chairman of the Veterans Affairs committee, Republican Steve Buyer, tried to put a positive spin his decision to yank the VSOs testimony in his own release, but by putting off the veterans groups until just before the presient submits his budget to Congress in February, Buyer has basically frozen the groups out of the process, limiting their ability to influence the president's budget before it gets to Congress. And of course, he's dodged one heck of a bad publicity bullet.

Happy Veterans Day, indeed.

Tags: , Iraq, Military
posted by JReid @ 9:54 AM  
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
... Judy Miller's career at the Times is dead...(she has "retired.") Now who will the administration partner with to disseminate questionable intel? Ah, change...

  • Here's a preview of Miller's farewell letter tomorrow. (Hint -- she did not have sexual relations with that man, Scooter Libby, or presumably, his pet bear...)
  • Oh to hell with the hint: Judy's already posted the full text on her verty own web-site, along with the text of editor Bill Keller's letter to her defining what the meaning of "entanglement" is (take that, Mr. Keller!) And scroll down for a juicy letter to Maureen Dowd...("Dear Maureen, I’m glad you always liked me...") Hat tip to Romanesko...
  • Here's the NYT version of the departure story.
  • Ariana: Don't let the door hit you on the way out...
  • Paul Krassner: Retired? Why wasn't that crab indicted?
  • TNR's Franklin Foer sees more Milleresque embarassments for the Times, right ahead... ("Miller doesn't play by the same rules or operate under the same set of mores as the rest of us. She overflows with so much gumption and so much ambition that she will always claw her way back...")
  • Will Bunch: Keller and Wolfowitz, sitting in a tree...

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate

posted by JReid @ 5:48 PM  
Suicide bombers target Jordan hotels
Just breaking...

Tags: , Middle East, Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 3:50 PM  
FIMWA: French Interior Ministers With Attitude
Interior Minister Sarkozy's latest fatwa against the suburban anarchists: "deport them all!"

Paris - Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday issued orders for non-French rioters convicted in the wave of urban violence to be deported - a measure directed at youths of Arab and African background living in the high-immigrant neighbourhoods involved in the unrest.

Sarkozy told prefects, or regional governors, to apply the order to foreigners including those who have valid French residency visas.
Pat Buchanan would probably approve. But once they're deported, what's to stop them becoming even more radicalized and sneaking back in ... maybe with similarly pissed off friends...? And then what?

Update: Paris' get-tough policies seem to be working, and meanwhile, French officials are holding two bloggers in the riot probe...


Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 2:56 PM  
Baghdad Bobbies
Why are there still so many on the Bush/neocon right who refuse to give up the ghost on the subject of Iraq's non-existent WMD? (They do exist, they do, THEY DO!!!) Even smart rightie bloggers like Jay Tea can't resist, but this time the Wizbanger has gone too far: quoting a new book from quack publisher Regnery that claims that -- get this -- Iraq's banned weapons were in fact found, but the MSM, and apparently the Bush administration, are too chicken to admit it.

The book is by Richard Miniter (Sourcewatch bio), a prolific former business journalist and fellow at the Centre for the New Europe, an Exxon-Mobil funded think tank mainly dedicated to debunking global warming, who since he switched to national security reportage has continued relentlessly in peddling the Iraq-9/11 connection fairy tale to pro-Bush bloggers in need of psychic uplift (and in this interview with the GOP's Crazy Uncle, Pat Robertson) ...

Crack is wack, my friends. Whitney said so.

So here, for all you true believers out there, is every known piece of published and non-published information on Iraq's supposed WMD and nuclear programs, including PDFs of the red hot Niger documents/forgeries. Read it link to link and cover to cover, and if you find one thing there that proves that Saddam Hussein actually had banned weapons when we invaded in the spring of 2003, I'll write a 600-word column and submit it to National Review, retracting every unkind word I've ever written about George W. Bush, the neoconservative movement, and Iraq.

... And I'll buy you three six-packs of Corona. The Iraq-WMD "meme" is bollucks, rubbish and otherwise not true. Don't take it from me: ask former CIA director George Tenet, or George W. Bush's weapons inspector, Iraq, Middle East, War, WMD, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 2:46 PM  
Anderson Cooper: 'I still refuse to admit I'm g...ray'
Apparently, acquiring the salt and pepper look is like a certain boudoir bodily function, too... Yes Anderson, you really are edgier than Aaron Brown...

Tags: ,Media, Celebrities, Anderson Cooper
posted by JReid @ 12:44 PM  
More unhappy headlines for the GOP



In 1999, Santorum took President Clinton to task for the Kosovo conflict. Santorum said, “President Clinton is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy.” No Americans were killed in combat during the Kosovo conflict. [Associated Press, 3/24/99; CNN’s “Live This Morning,” 9/18/01]


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posted by JReid @ 11:30 AM  
Capitol schizophrenia
...So the same Republican Congress that voted major league tax breaks for the oil industry is now "grilling" oil executives about the record profits they're not paying taxes on thanks to the Republican Congress? I confuse...

And have you notice that after raising prices nearly every week since last summer's series of hurricanes, including a massive price hike following Hurricane Katrina this year, there have been NO gas hikes in the last five weeks, leading right up to today's hearings? The editor of has...

Tags: , Oil, Gas Prices, Fuel, Cars, Prices.
posted by JReid @ 11:10 AM  
Not you again...
Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert want an investigation into who leaked the skinny on secret CIA prisons around the world, including one in a real, live former Soviet gulag! Psst....! Psssssst!!!! Denny ...! Dr. Video Diagnosis...! Opstay the eechespay...! It was Ickday...Eneychay...!

Damn, damn, damn you, evil vice president and your band of sinister leakers!

"Hey Rumsfeld ... wanna know something secret...?"

Tags: , href="">War, , , , , , White House
posted by JReid @ 11:00 AM  
A sober election assessment
You're right, Kevin Aylward, it's time for a calmer, more clinical analysis of last night's election results that stays away from overhyping the positive results for Democrats. So here it is:

You lost, bitches!

Okay, seriously: governor's races do not referendums on 2006 make. And the sound defeat of two ideas whose time apparently hasn't come -- redistricting and gay marriage -- in Ohio, California and Texas (not to mention the defeat of union "paycheck protection") is probably more important to the political bottom line. (Though it's not exactly a shocker for a marriage amendment to pass in Texas of all places -- the real importance there is the momentum it gives to traditionalist movements in future marriage battlegrounds like Florida, which has a referendum cooking for next year, and the fact that it edges the country toward the possibility that a significant number of states (well, at least 18) could theoretically ratify a federal constitutional amendment)...

But -- and it's a big "but" -- because Bush and Rove were invoked as campaign themes in both the New Jersey and VA races -- and given Bush's inexplicable decision to needlessly inflict losses to his political "capital" (which is in overdraft at the moment) by injecting himself into the Kaine-Kilgore race at the last minute, like it or not, last night's statewide wins will be judged as a slap at the White House and the GOP, and an inarguable momentum boost for Dems going into next year. (The squeaker win of a Republican attorney general in VA doesn't strike me as a real counterbalance to Kaine's win.) Democrats also now have a nice playbook to work from: lash President Bush to the GOP candidate, field a solid candidate with strong religious/social values and take it from there. (Same gambit worked with Salazar in Colorado last year...)

Besides, this is a rare moment of electoral glee for Democrats, and Republicans, Bush-bots and assorted "conservatives" will just have to deal with it for a day or so (including stuff like this from the "so sick of you" press corps...) Enjoy it, bitches!

Also in the news:
Voters reject Schwarzenegger reforms ...
... and Diebold machines nearly cost Ahnold his vote...

Update: Larry Kudlow seems kinda depressed. Somebody get him a nice tax cut to cheer him up ...

A couple of days ago, Craig Crawford wrote about the growing permafrost between the Governator and the bad-luck POTUS. How prescient...


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posted by JReid @ 10:11 AM  
Hot damn!
Update: I thought he told you that he won't stop... Kilpatrick wins in the end, proving that it's not how much bling you charge on your city credit card, it's how much GOTV you pull in the hood... Interestingly, the following note is running on the Detroit Free Press web-site, which will make sense as you scroll down to about the middle of the original post...
Why did it take so long for the Free Press to call a winner in Detroit's mayoral race?
Like other local news organizations, we had results from a telephone survey conducted Tuesday afternoon and evening. We looked at returns from key precincts around the city. Our reporters were out all day, talking to voters as they emerged from the polls.

But as the deadline approached for each edition and it came time to make the decision, there wasn't a consistent pattern in the results.

The challenge was a huge discrepancy between people who voted absentee -- who, according to our survey, strongly favored Freman Hendrix -- and people who went to the polls in person on Tuesday.

Kwame Kilpatrick led among those who voted Tuesday, but not by a large enough margin to overcome the Hendrix vote cast by absentees, our survey showed. However, our results were within the survey's margin of error -- between 5 and 6 percentage points for people who voted Tuesday, and between 4 and 5 percentage points for both absentee and Tuesday voters. Indicator precincts were inconclusive.

In the end, it came down to predicting what proportion of the total vote was cast by absentees. The math said changing the share of absentee vote by just 1 or 2 percentage points changed the outcome of the race.

With memories of the Chicago Tribune's infamous "Dewey Beats Truman" headline, we decided to wait for more complete returns.

Bottom line: the exit polls were wrong ... again...

Original post 1:08 a.m.: It's a great day to be a Democrat (or to be Michael Bloomberg, which essentially is the same thing...) Congrats to Corzine and Kaine for their big victories in New Jersey and Virginia, respectively (sorry Kilgore, you really should have told the Prez to stay away...) Hotline blog has the beeeeautiful results. (Flashback: predictions)

It will probably be tomorrow before we find out if Kwame Kilpatrick can come back from the bling scandals to retake his place as the P.Diddy of mayors... (or is it the Marion Barry of Detroit? Probably better go with Diddy...) The race is still too close to call as of 1 a.m., and there are absentee ballot issues there... Essentially, all the white voters went for the challenger, Hendrix, and Kilpatrick needs about two-thirds of the Black vote to pull it off. Here's the running tally for you political junkies, courtesy of my old buddies at IBS (damn, I used to operate this gizmo... ah, memories...) Hendrix was ahead 51-48 with 61 percent reporting...

Here's the page to watch for the Cali tally. Looks like most of what Arnold wants, Arnold ain't gonna get (with the exception of restrictions on political use of union dues). Interesting for my adopted state (Florida) -- it so far doesn't look good for the redistricting initiative. Look for the same arguments that are likely going to defeat this measure to resurface in the Sunshine State, though with the Dem-GOP players reversed (Gov. Bush not for it, Democrats, who don't control the FL state house, for it, with the exception of Black elected officials, also Dems, who side with Jeb.) BTW a redistricting measure in Ohio failed, too...

here are the OH results:
Initiative 1: economic growth stimulation - YES
Initiative 2: expand access to absentee ballots - NO
Initiative 3: set new limits on political contributions from individuals and PACs - NO
Initiative 4: turn the job of redistricting over to a non-partisan panel - NO
Initiative 5: take the job of administering elections away from Hizzoner Ken Blackwell and future secy's of state, and turn that job over to an appointed panel. - NO
...btw the NO's were on the 70-30 level across the board, while initiative 1 passed by around 54-46...

Texas becomes the 18th state to constitutionally ban gay marriage (FL will probably become the 19th state next year) proving that when its left up to state voters, rather than appeals courts, this issue is mostly a non-starter (outside New England). Texas also approved a proposition denying bail to any person accused of a felony who had previously been released on bail on the same charges. Probably a common sense thing...

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posted by JReid @ 10:00 AM  
The ghost of Richard Nixon
CapHillBlue accuses the WH of compiling an enemies list far larger and more extensive than Nixon, and of using that list, and the Patriot Act, to spy on Americans. Kos, Wonkette apparently included (yes, I'm hurt...) as are Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, Michael Moore and others. Blue says Karl Rove began compiling the list back in Dubya's Texas governor days, and that the WH uses the list to "wage war" on those who disagree with its politics...

Tags: , , , Karl Rove, White House,
posted by JReid @ 2:20 AM  
Of 'them' and 'us'...
Europe's Venus mission blasts off... while here in the U.S ... evolution suffers setback in Kansas.

Tags: , technology, News, Culture, Science, Religion.
posted by JReid @ 12:52 AM  
Bush and Cheney growing apart?
The Daily News says yep, and that the relationship has been cooling "for some time..."
Other sources familiar with Bush's thinking say Cheney's zealous advocacy for what has become a troubled Iraq policy has taken a toll - especially since Cheney's predictions about how Iraq would play out have proven optimistic.

These sources also said Libby's indictment was a wakeup call for White House aides who have long believed the Cheney national security operation has enjoyed too much of a free hand in administration policymaking.

"The vice president's office will never be quite as independent from the White House as it has been," said a key Bush associate. "That will end.

"Cheney never operated without a degree of [presidential] license, but there are people around who cannot believe some of the advice [Bush] has been given."

The source declined to offer any specifics, citing the extraordinary sensitivity surrounding the Bush-Cheney relationship.

The News reported on Oct. 24 that Bush has told associates Cheney was overly immersed in intelligence issues in the runup to the 2003 Iraq war.

A highly placed source said the President believes Cheney "got too deeply concerned with being portrayed as the source of the Wilson trip."

"It's not clear if Cheney was trying to protect Bush or trying to protect Cheney," the source added.

I guess a president can only take so much bad counsel before even an incurious sort like Dubya begins to catch on...

Tags: , , , , , , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 12:11 AM  
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The liar in winter
Dick Durbin had this to say about Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile trickster who's paying a call to his friends in the Bush administration today:

I don’t understand this. While the Department of Justice is actively investigating this man for wrongdoing that could have endangered American troops and American lives, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury are hosting him like some sort of dignitary. So don’t be surprised if you watch the Chalabi motorcade speed up when they pass the Department of Justice. I guess they’re concerned whether an FBI agent will come out and pursue this so-called active investigation.

It is very difficult to track how this man, who gave us such misleading information before the invasion of Iraq, now under active investigation for endangering American troops is now under active investigation for endangering American troops is now the toast of the town at the Department of Treasury and the Department of State

Hat tip to ThinkProgress. Meanwhile, Frist and Hastert are ready to get to the bottom of the U.S. secret detention facilities scandal: namely, who leaked it to Dana Priest at the Washington Post... Your government dollars in action.


Tags: , Politics, War, Middle East, ,
posted by JReid @ 4:06 PM  
White line
NBC military analyst Col. Jack Jacobs (longer bio) is responding to the white phosphorus story on MSNBC's "Connected" now. He says the cannisters in question are used for marking terrain and that they've been used since Vietnam (as other bloggers have been pointing out today), though they're neither banned nor used as weapons against civilians. He also acknowledges how damaging such a story can be.

The BBC has picked up the story as well. has more details on white phosphors, aka "Willy Pete" -- including the fact that it's not a banned substance:
White phosphorus is not banned by any treaty. The United States retains its ability to employ incendiaries to hold high-priority military targets at risk in a manner consistent with the principle of proportionality that governs the use of all weapons under existing law. The use of white phosphorus or fuel air explosives are not prohibited or restricted by Protocol II of the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC), the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects .
The NATO manual includes instructions on the safe handling of the substance when used as an "incendiary" -- or to illuminate territory, as Jacobs described, so clearly its something that is used by NATO forces (as an "incendiary" not a weapon, at least when countries are playing by the rules).

Again, this is a highly inflammatory report that could have devastating consequences to the United States -- to our image, and to our troops in the field. It should be taken seriously and investigated seriously, and if it's wrong, it should be rebutted immediately and effectively (though I have no confidence that the crowd running Washington can do it -- surely Karen Hughes and Condi Rice have proven they are about as effective as a rubber sword, and the Bush administration hasn't exactly inspired confidence with its assumption of the near-dictatorial power to detain, abuse and in some cases, tolerate the torture of prisoners...)

Also important to note: this is not a new story. These pictures have been all over the Arab world since late last year, when the U.S. sent 10,000 troops in to retake and pacify the city of Fallujah, which had fallen back into insurgent hands following the clumsy insertion and retraction of American forces. Check this out from November 16 of last year, about a week after U.S. forces launched "Operation Al Fajr" (Arabic for "dawn.":

When the [New York] Times quoted Marine battalion commander Gary Brandl in another front-page story, on Nov. 6, the lieutenant colonel sounded straightforward: “We are going to rid the city of insurgents. If they do fight, we will kill them.”

However, on the same day, the Associated Press reported that the same Lt. Col. Brandl said: “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He’s in Fallujah, and we’re going to destroy him.” //

George Bush, in opening the war on terrorism, put the issue immediately into a religious context by using the word "crusade". Lt Col Brandl is just following Bush's lead.

During this crusade, the US Army is using chemical weapons - phosphorus rounds. They are designed to burn through enemy metal bunkers, and cannot be extinguished by water. Doctors are reporting casualties with phosphorus burns, and in some cases, melted bodies.

In addition to phosphorus, troops have used napalm and cluster bombs.
The story includes this link, which further charges the U.S. with using not just white phosphorus, but Napalm on the city of Fallujah:

Doctors and hospitals have been erased so that they cannot be a nuisance and provide independent account of the events inside the city as they did previously in April. The US artillery has fired white Phosphorus rounds [1] that create a screen of fire that cannot be extinguished with water. It is designed to burn through metal bunkers; imagine what it can do to human flesh. Not surprisingly one of the doctors that have managed to stay alive in Fallujah has already reported burned corpses and some completely melted.

The US has also used Napalm [2] once again in this war, another ‘horrible’ weapon in the words of Pentagon that also sticks to your skin and melts it. If you were unlucky and managed to get attacked by such weapons you would beg Musab Al-Zarqawi to behead you to end the sufferings. Or you would plead for a suicide-bomber to come and ‘rescue’ you from the situation.
And a Google search of "white phosphorus+weapon" brings up streams of articles making the same accusation regarding Fallujah, over and over again, including this pdf file, which also contains the grim still pictures of alleged white phosphorus victims that were included in the Italian TV report (and my link above). What's new this time, is that the accusation is coming from an Iraq war ally -- an Italian media outlet (although this isn't the first time Italian journlists have gone after the Iraq war... remember ex-hostage Giuliana Sgrena who witnessed the death of an Italian intelligence director and then squarely blamed the Americans?).

The article accusing the U.S. do seem to misstate the notion that white phosphorus is a banned chemical weapon -- it appears to be an allowed chemical, if a nasty one -- like depleted uranium (which is likely wreaking even more havoc on the soil and environment of Iraq). But the persistent accusation that U.S. forces deliberately used it as a weapon is unbelievably harmful to us. We have to get to the bottom of it and get the facts -- whatever they are -- out. Soon.

Update: We still don't know much about Jeff Eglehart, the alternately designated ex-Marine or ex-Naval officer quoted in the RAI24 report. In this Google translation on an Italian anti-war web-site, he is said to have told the reporters that troops in the city were under orders to treat everyone -- aged 10 or aged 60 -- as a "target" and he is said to have described the taking of the city as "a genocide." But again, who is this guy? Has any U.S. outlet interviewed him? Inquiring minds want to know ...

Previous: Going medieval...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, ,
posted by JReid @ 12:23 PM  
Pat Buchanan's torch song for the West
Buchanan sounds the death toll for Western civilization -- unassimilated immigrants, Babylon within the borders and a clash of religious civilizations -- and not just in France. (...I just finished reading "Where the Right Went Wrong" and it's excellent, by the way. I was surprised at how much of it I absolutely agreed with. Buchanan knows his history, and he's a very smart guy.)


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posted by JReid @ 12:10 PM  
Insecurity everywhere
Over here: Capitol Hill staffer attacked ...
Over there: France declares a state of emergency ... Algerian war-era curfew law invoked ...
Way over there: a second Saddam trial lawyer is shot dead -- this time it's the deposed vice president's counsel ... Defense says no fair trial without security.

posted by JReid @ 10:47 AM  
Throwing open the church doors
It's not just liberals who are outraged at the IRS' targeting of church speech. Conservatives see the slippery slope, too. But here's the thing: the preachers who threw open the doors of the church to let the government's money in, via the Faith Based Initiatives -- including people I respect, like Rev. Eugene Rivers -- let the government in with the money. You can't shake hands with the state and think the state is going to let go. The administration now believes they own the pulpit, and now they're exacting the discipline ...

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posted by JReid @ 10:36 AM  
More proof of the imminent end of the world
CBS and NBC will begin hawking their reruns at 99 cents a pop.

Tags: , Entertainment, Television
posted by JReid @ 10:24 AM  
Off to the races
The NJ governor's race is down -- and dirty -- to the wire... The Hotline blog is covering all day.

Predictions --

Winners: Bloomberg (NYC mayor), Kaine (VA gov, though Marc Ambinder at the Hotline blog touts Kilgore's bad-ass GOTV op), Corzine (NJ gov).

Losers: Arnold -- decent turnout will terminate the propositions he supports, with the possible exception of redistricting.

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posted by JReid @ 10:03 AM  
The Cheney and Chalabi reunion
They meet again ... Ahmad Chalabi will meet with Cheney while hanging out in the country he tricked into invading his exiled homeland, and he'll also quit his Ritz-Carlton suite long enough to meet with Stephen Hadley, another of the neocons implanted in Bush's government, plus Treasury Secretary John Snow and Condoleezza Rice. (What? no Judy Miller???)

I'll bet there won't be a repeat of this photo op, though...

Not on your life... However according to the Independent, Chalabi comes bearing advice, and possibly messages from his friends in Iran.

Tags: , Politics, War, Middle East, ,

posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
NYT to Bush: Get your act together!
Say the editors:

After President Bush's disastrous visit to Latin America, it's unnerving to realize that his presidency still has more than three years to run. An administration with no agenda and no competence would be hard enough to live with on the domestic front. But the rest of the world simply can't afford an American government this bad for that long. ...

On Friday, Fox News posted a different piece of advice to the president, which seems to be a generalized GOP talking point these days: CHANNEL BILL CLINTON.

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posted by JReid @ 1:30 AM  
Just as the administration's troubles are mounting, and with presidential war powers about to come under Supreme Court scrutiny, the Bush administration suddenly decides to charge five Gitmo detainees with war crimes. Oh, and Australia "stopped a major terror attack" but can't say exactly how or what they stopped from happening. ...

Tags: , , Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 1:13 AM  
Democrats seek wider probe of pre-war claims
Rockefellar is on a roll.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, , White House,
posted by JReid @ 1:08 AM  
Going medieval on us
According to a diarist named Paper Tigress at DailyKos, the Italian media will broadcast on Tuesday "documentary evidence of the use by US troops of phosphorus and a new formulaton of napalm [MK77] on the Sunni civilian population." I checked out and Google translated the Repubblica article linked to by the Koskid, and it read (very roughly) like a "Dateline" style documentary which will purport that white phosphorous used to illuminate night targets was somehow deployed against enemy insurgents and civilians in and around Fallujah. I don't know what the evidence of this is, but the news organization RAI 24 is claiming they have photographs. We'll see if this gets beyond Kos and the HuffPo tomorrow.

Update: Shit. It already has. Here's the Indpendent's version for Tuesday:

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Some news accounts have claimed that US forces have used 'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfo website said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. US forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, including hideous photographs and videos and interviews with American soldiers who took part in the Fallujah attack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorus shells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italian state broadcaster, this morning, a former American soldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard the order to pay attention because they were going to use white phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it's known as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone ... I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes and forms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres is done for." ...(click the link above to read more)
The story and video are up at This ain't good, folks. In the RAINews piece (don't know if this translated link will work, but here it is) the "American solider" quoted above is credited as a "Jeff Eglehart," and he goes on to describe the supposed use of white phosphorous and its "irreversible damage" to human flesh.

Honestly, I don't know how believable any of this is (I'm sure Eglehart will be well researched in a couple of days). I watched the video, and it's absolutely impossible to tell if it's real or a put-on. "Eglehart" is not credited by rank or unit, or even which branch of the military he's supposed to be in, so you can't even tell if he's really a member of the American military at all.

But you know what? It doesn't matter whether it's believable. This will be as damaging as Abu-Ghraib -- if not worse. And this while the president and vice president dicker back and forth about whether or not we're going to be a nation that employs torture as a matter of policy.

Meanwhile, this all comes just as it's time for the U.S. to go back to the United Nations to try and extend the American mandate to have our troops in Iraq (despite that country now supposedly being self-governing.) Why we would want to stay there another year is beyond me (I'm for pulling out the bulk of our troops and leaving only expert trainers behind to polish up the Iraqi forces). But how on earth do we ask for that mandate with so many clouds hanging over our prosecution of the war so far? Thus far, we've been accused of torture, of allowing the widespread looting of Iraq's treasures, of cheating the Iraqi government out of some $200 million, of just plain incompetence ... and now, of using the same kinds of weapons against the Iraqi people that we supposedly went to war to punish Saddam Hussein for.

For Willy Pete's sake what next???

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Torture
posted by JReid @ 12:23 AM  
The seduction of Tony Blair
A damning piece in Tuesday's Guardian lays out charges from Britain's former ambassador to Washington that Prime Minister Blair was every bit the toadie in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq... And from Harper's Magazne: Harper's: A History of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies. (Hat tip to the HuffPo...)

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Tony Blair
posted by JReid @ 12:16 AM  
Monday, November 07, 2005
Matthews vs. the neocon war
Hardball tonight was actually spot on. Chris Matthews seems to have finally had it with the admnistration's neocon war, and he's running stories this week about the "marketing" of the invasion of Iraq to the congress and to the American people.

Steve Clemons at TWN liveblogged the show and has an excellent roundup while you're waiting for the transcript. The nightly David Schuster piece was an excellent compilation of events leading up to the war and zeroed in on how the administration coordinated stories fed to the NYT's Judy Miller by Scooter Libby and Ahmad Chalabi with appearances by a phalanx of administration officials who would cite that very article on the Sunday talk shows to reinforce the point.

Matthews tried to get Tony Blankley to answer the question of whether Collin Powell believed the case for war that he was making with intel from a source the DIA had surmised to be a liar a year before Powell destroyed himself at the U.N. And Blankley lamely tried to use the same stovepiped National Intelligence Estimates as proof that Bush and Co. believed what they were saying about Iraq's nuclear threat. Matthews even caught Tom Daschle flat footed on one of the key reasons I for one never bought into the administration's case for war -- namely, just what delivery system did the Congresspeople who voted for the war think Iraq was going to use in order to strike the U.S. with their supposed quickie nuclear arsenal?

Sen. Carl Levin was clear, concise and made a strong case that Congress and the American public were manipulated by the administration in order to bring on the war (Levin wasn't, though, he voted against it.)

John Fund tried the Clinton defense on Iraq, and y'know, it's really getting old...

One low point: The Hotline's Chuck Todd joined Matthews for their obligatory "pound the Dems" routine with a twist: arguing that if Democrats say they were misled on Iraq, that's a sign of weakness, but if a Republican -- say, Chuck Hagel -- says the same exact thing, it's a revelation... Matthews has strong Bush-bot tendencies, though he's clearly against the Iraq war (and has been from the start). Somehow his self-hating Democrat/GOP-schmoozing reflexes just can't help kicking in (it usually happens when the words "Clinton", "Rudy", "Reagan" or "Arnold" are brought up... especially when aided by ole' reliable Dem-doubting Todd. (Not that the Democrats have been profiles in courage on Iraq ...)

Update: Here's the online version of the Schuster piece.

Tags: , , , , Foreign Policy, , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:38 PM  
Gin Rummy
From the "that went over well" file:
Bush and Truman Just Don't Match Up

By Al Kamen
Washington Post, Monday, November 7, 2005; A19

Seemed like a valiant effort last week by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to put President Bush 's free fall in the polls into some historical perspective.

"President Harry Truman," Rumsfeld said at a press briefing, "now remembered as a fine president, would leave office in 1953 with an approval rating of about 25 percent, one of the lowest recorded ratings since folks started measuring those things." That's even lower than Bush's 35 to 39 percent ratings these days.

"Back then," Rumsfeld recalled, "a great many people questioned whether young Americans should face death and injury in Korea, thousands of miles from home, for a result that seemed uncertain at best. And today the answer is the Korean peninsula."

So Iraq is just like postwar Germany and also like Korea?

We hear folks at the White House were most unhappy with Rumsfeld's Truman invocation. A half-century is a long time for a politician to wait for vindication.
...yes, especially since Truman is now best remembered for a smoking gun that turned into a mushroom cloud...

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posted by JReid @ 11:24 PM  
The O.C.
The LAT focuses on "Shirtless Guy" ... and misses the rest of the story: (printer friendly)

Caption on your own.

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posted by JReid @ 4:10 PM  
Baghdad on the Seine?
From Debka:

The violent riots spreading across France took several worrying directions Sunday night, Nov. 6, and Monday. The mostly Muslim gangs of youths began surging out of the immigrant suburbs to invade town centers; they fired their first gunshots at policemen; the number of torched cars peaked to 1,400; and disturbing new slogans were hurled, depicting Paris as ”Baghdad-on-the Seine” and their campaign as the start of Europe’s Ramadan Intifada.

A single slogan made a mockery of president Jacques Chirac’s efforts of the last three years to distance France from President George W. Bush’s Iraq war. Furthermore, the French government’s helplessness in quelling the trouble is encouraging other European communities to follow suit - in Denmark, Belgium, Spain and Sweden, for starters.

Chirac, after lying low for 10 days, finally called an emergency security meeting in Paris Sunday, Nov. 6. He then promised arrests, trials and punishment for those who “sow violence or terror” across France. But politics as usual held him back from instituting tough measures or naming those responsible for the violence, let alone deploying the necessary forces. French police are still under orders not to open fire unless fired on first. No names have been released of ringleaders despite several hundred arrests.

Saturday, Nov. 5, as the disorders went into their second week, the French prosecutor-general Yves Bot said he had detected an organized hand and a strategy behind the riots. Witnesses reported vehicles without number-plates distributing petrol bombs. A fuel bomb factory was in fact discovered Sunday in Paris with 150 bottles and gallons of gasoline ready to distribute to the bands of arsonists. Also found there were masks to hide rioters’ faces. In Clichy-sour-Bois, where the accidental electrocution of two teenagers in flight from the police ignited the first protests, residents said: This is just the beginning.

There are plenty of indications that the riots are not simply spontaneous outbursts of frustration by disadvantaged youths of North and black African descent, but centrally organized mayhem, an “intifada” activated by Muslim networking.

The Chirac-de Villepan government, trying to live down interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy’s provocative pledge to deal with what he called “scum,” is not acknowledging this. Because they refuse to recognize the rampage for what it is, they are withholding the forces required to restore order and so letting the danger get out of hand. Police, firemen and paramedics are no match for a fast developing civil war. The army will have to be brought in at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. For a start, marksmen need to be posted to pinpoint the ringleaders and the bottle-bomb wielders targeting cars, schools, shops, warehouses and public buildings.

France’s leaders, like the British and Dutch, are clinging to the hope that sympathetic dialogue with moderate Muslims will calm the street, despite all the evidence that radical, activist Muslims do not heed established Islamic authorities. On Nov. 6, the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, UOIF, issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims to seek “divine grace” by blindly attacking private and public property and urging meditation and calm.

The following night, bands of marauding Muslim youths extended their areas of attack from outlying city districts to urban centers and started shooting at police officers.

The controlling hand, far from being legitimate Muslim authority, is beginning to emerge as the very organization that has for several years been recruiting young fighters in French Muslim ghettos fight al Qaeda’s wars against the West in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and other sectors.

Read the rest here. (How typical of the folks at Debka to recommend sending in the Army ...)

On the other hand, the Independent mocks les idées Francaise:

LIBERTÉ? French Muslims banned from wearing headscarves in school. ÉGALITÉ? France's non-whites twice as likely to be unemployed.
FRATERNITÉ? French government admits integration policies have failed.
RÉALITÉ: Riots erupt for eleventh night.
... and the paper's John Lichfield offers a completely different take on the conflagration:

Is this France's intifada? Do the riots have wider significance for the West?

Talk of an intifada is absurdly misleading. Firstly, the rioters are far from being all Muslim (although more than half are from Islamic backgrounds). Second, they have no sense of political or religious identity and no political demands. Their allegiance is to their quartier and their gang. Their main demand, so far as can be established, is to be left alone by police and the Interior Minister, Nicolas Sark-ozy, to continue with their life of low-level violence and drugs trading. The wider significance is therefore not politico-religious but a warning of what happens if problems of deprivation and violence are allowed to fester.

Who are the rioters? How valid are their grievances?

Judging by the youths who have been arrested, and by comments by social workers and "big brothers" - older, more responsible young people - the rioters are almost exclusively kids involved in permanent gang violence, theft and drug dealing.

They are mostly aged 17-22 with some as young as 10. Depending on the district, maybe half of the rioters may be second or third generation. French-born young people of Arab descent. Maybe 30 or 40 per cent are black, often from families which have migrated to France more recently, legally or illegally. The remainder are local French youngsters or from eastern or southern European immigrant families.

Their immediate grievance is a threat by M. Sarkozy to "clean out" the suburban gangs as "scum". Many residents, of all races, in the banlieus would agree with M. Sarkozy's sentiments, but not his inflammatory language.

Such an approach fails to grapple with the question of how these kids came to be so viciously asocial in the first place. They tend to be from troubled or broken homes or to be willing educational failures in the often chaotic school system of the poor suburbs.

Are they as well organised as M. Sarkozy suggests?

M. Sarkozy has spoken darkly of organisation of the riots by drugs overlords or Islamist radicals. His own senior police officers, and social workers dismiss this as luridly unrealistic. The gangs from different areas detest, and fight, one another. But there is evidence of an organised, and tactical, approach in each district, with leaders directing groups by texts. ...
Lichfield then goes on to generally endorse the de Villepin plan of more jobs and more infrastructure investment, and to call on the French to "end the undeclared colour bar in French society which keeps brown and black faces off mainstream television, out of politics and even some public sector jobs. ..." (I take it Britain is much better? Well, not according to the relatives...)

So which is it? An economic riot or an al-Qaida incursion? I admit I'm waffling on this one. I just don't know...

Update: Sebastien Blanche blogs from the Paris suburbs (in English and en Francais, so you can even work on your language skills.

Update 2: TalkLeft gets in on the debate (preview: think racist police.) The jury's still out for me.


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posted by JReid @ 4:08 PM  
Let me get this straight ... is now a violation of a church's tax-exempt status to preach against the war? How can that be, when both candidates for the presidency last year were in favor of invading Iraq? Even the FReepers aren't buying this one...

Update: The LAT has more detail on the sermon that caused all the controversy:

In the sermon, Regas said, "President Bush has led us into war with Iraq as a response to terrorism. Yet I believe Jesus would say to Bush and Kerry: 'War is itself the most extreme form of terrorism. President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq.' "

Later, he had Jesus confront both Kerry and Bush: "I will tell you what I think of your war: The sin at the heart of this war against Iraq is your belief that an American life is of more value than an Iraqi life. That an American child is more precious than an Iraqi baby. God loathes war."

If Jesus debated Bush and Kerry, Regas said, he would say to them, "Why is so little mentioned about the poor?''

In his own voice, Regas said: ''The religious right has drowned out everyone else. Now the faith of Jesus has come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and pro-American…. I'm not pro-abortion, but pro-choice. There is something vicious and violent about coercing a woman to carry to term an unwanted child."

When you go into the voting booth, Regas told the congregation, "take with you all that you know about Jesus, the peacemaker. Take all that Jesus means to you. Then vote your deepest values.
Now how is any of that an attempt to influence the election? The sermon endorsed neither Bush nor Kerry and addressed both with the same issue: the questionable morality of the war. Perhaps what offended the IRS officials who went after the church is the aspersions cast on the religious right -- or maybe the church rubbed an anti-abortion auditor the wrong way ...

Even more troubling than the fact that the case is being brought at all, is the attempt by the IRS to get the church to essentially cop a plea by "admitting to interfering in an election." That's a brand of big-brotherism that would be more at home in the old Soviet Union than in the United States in 2005.

So much for a conservative government that's respectful of religious liberty.

By the way ...

Did the IRS ever follow up on the Archbishop of St. Louis and other Catholic leaders who urged churches to deny communion to John Kerry should he show up? Or what about the North Carolina church that voted to kick out any members who were Democrats? And what of the hundreds of fundamentalist churches that all but order their congregations to vote Republican? I guess they only merit scrutiny under Democratic administrations? We have a large "mega-church" down here in South Florida whose leader is a die-hard Republican booster, al-la T.D. Jakes. And what about Jakes himself? He is practically a counselor to the president!

Let's face it, there is no way to truly separate churches from politics (especially now that the ministers can line up at the public troth for some of that Faith Based Initiative cash). If such a separation were enforced 40 years ago, there would have been no civil rights movement. 200 years ago, there would have been no abolition movement. Churches have always weighed in orn moral/political issues, and what is more a moral issue than war? Dr. King opposed the Vietnam war, didn't he? When individual churches take sides in a moral/political issue, there should be no jeopardy attached. Where they cross the line is in directly telling parishioners which parties and politicians to vote for and which not to. The California church doesn't seem to have crossed that line. The "join the GOP or leave this church" pastor did (and lost his pulpit, rightly, for it).

Something fishy's going on at the IRS...

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posted by JReid @ 2:28 PM  
When pirates attack
The Somali pirates who attacked a Miami-based cruise ship may have previously attacked a United Nations vessel and taken its crue hostage in June. I've said it before: keep an eye on Africa...

Tags: , , Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 1:01 PM  
France's Intifada
Eleven days ago, the rioting in Paris struck me as an isolated explosion of youth temperament, perhaps mixed with immigrant frustration, and I'll admit, I didn't pay too much attention. Now, it's starting to look like something else ... something out of Gaza. Consider the source, but a Muslim analyst on Laura Ingraham's show this morning described what is happening in Paris and 300 suburban towns (with more than 1400 and some are saying 3000 cars torched, one person dead and some 35 police officers injured) as an "Intifada" or uprising, not unlike those spearheaded by groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. There and in France, the issue, this analyst said, is self-determination -- a desire for the religious leadership to take control of these North African immigrant neighborhoods, and for the "interference" of the French authorities and police to be withdrawn. Again, consider the source...

Ingraham links to this article by columnist Mark Steyn, which ran in the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times. It reads in part:

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands

Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. ''By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night,'' I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February.

Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule. As Thursday's edition of the Guardian reported in London: ''French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest.''

''French youths,'' huh? You mean Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse? Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as ''French'': They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East. After four somnolent years, it turns out finally that there really is an explosive ''Arab street,'' but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois.

The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.
Steyn goes on to recount the 8th century rout of Muslim Moors by the heroic Franc called Charles Martel (the previous "Hammer") which repelled what could have been a Muslim conquest of Europe, and how that expulsion 200 miles from the gates of Paris prevented a complete rewriting of the history of that continent, which might have been all Mohammad and no pope had the "other side" been victorious. But now, says Steyn (in agreement with Laura's caller this morning) Islam has found another way into Europe: immigration. And Europe is losing the second millenial battle for religious supremacy on the continent. Europeans are, in fact, in fear of their own streets -- the "disaffected youths" from North Africa literally control the psychology. (Which explains why, when France does try to fight back, it starts by battling relious head coverings). Says Steyn:

Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They're in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort.
Not everyone agrees. The WaPo described the riots as an outpouring of youthful frustration at immigrant socio-econominc stagnation and government neglect and says the unrest:

"underscores the chasm between the fastest growing segment of France's population and the staid political hierarchy that has been inept at responding to societal shifts. The youths rampaging through France's poorest neighborhoods are the French-born children of African and Arab immigrants, the most neglected of the country's citizens. A large percentage are members of the Muslim community that accounts for about 10 percent of France's 60 million people."
Meanwhile, there's a war of words going on between government officials and left- and right-wing newspaper writers who alternately condemn and pity the rampagers.

For its part, the BBC comes down squarely on the side of a burgeoning Intifada, which now seems to think it can take down the interior minister, who is widely reported to have called the rioters "scum," but whose words the BBC more carefully translates as "rabble." If that's true, than this is rioting with an underlying political purpose, not just random urban freestyling. (To quote Trader Rob at the Jawa Report, "so much for the prevailing narrative of spontaneous and uncoordinated acts by poor French youths who want jobs.")

Chirac, for his part, is talking tough about restoring order. The rest of Europe, which has its own "Muslim problem" just seems to be popping the Pepcid and hoping their turn won't come, rationalizing that Paris' problem is the drab apartment complexes where immigrants feel warehoused. (Having had theirs already, the British are locked in a fierce debate over how far to go in cracking down on civil liberties in order to prevent another 7/7, or a copycat Paris.)

Of course, America has been here, too. During the 1960s, and at times the 1970s and '80s, urban riots tore at the heart of this country, as disaffected Black "youths" torched their own cities in rage at some combination of racism, econimc deprivation and political impotence -- all touched off by some inflamatory incident. In Paris, it was the deaths of two young Muslims who ran from police and hid inside an electrical sub-station. In Watts or other cities in the U.S., it was the death of Dr. King (or a generation later, the beating of Rodney King). But one crucial difference between 1960s America and 2005 Europe, is the religious element, plus the added factors of immigration and assimilation. France is a far more homogenious society than the U.S. -- almost all white (of one ethinicity, rather than polyglot European) and Catholic -- and the North African immigrants stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. But I think there is something to the idea that Muslim leaders within these neighborhoods are advancing a kind of Intifada-like movement to "take control" of thier mini-societies and drive the French authorities toward some political goal. And of course, the Watts rioters didn't have bomb-making factories...

Update: Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister who supposedly fueled the ire of the rioters, is actually quite liberal on the issue of immigrant rights, including, apprently, the right of "long-term foreign residents" to vote in French elections...

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posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
Sunday, November 06, 2005
The Niger connection
Did the British government really discover that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger? Depends on who you ask...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 1:17 PM  
Mr. Bush goes to Latin America
Independent: Bush rebuked by the 'hand of God.' ... Plus, Vicente Fox says of Bush's focus on the issue of curbing (or encouraging?) illegal immigration (or guest workers?) from Mexico during this week's LatAm trade summit: "He wasn't interested, and I wasn't either." Oh, the base won't like that...

Tags: , Chavez, Cuba, Current Affairs, South America,
posted by JReid @ 1:12 PM  
... and speaking of history's judgment...
The Neocons are out in force, attempting to push the president to protect himself -- and them -- from history's judgment on Iraq. They know, and now, the American people should be told clearly and without political-speak, that it was they who pushed the policy of invading Iraq on this president, just as they tried to do with the previous two, and that Iraq's failure isn't just Bush's failure, it's their failure. The neoconservatives are squarely in the bullseye of history's damnation over Iraq (not to mention their disastrous larger agenda), and now, they want the president to once again marshall his political resources to bail them out. Let's start with Bill Kristol, whose headline article in the Weekly Standard this week is entitled "Fight back, Mr. President." Says Kristol:
the administration paid a price for its virtual silence on Iraq during the spring and much of the summer. Now the administration seems to understand not just that they have to do everything they can to win in Iraq--but also that they must make, and remake, the case for the war. Do they also realize that they have to aggressively--not to say indignantly--confront the "Bush lied" charge now emanating from leaders in the Democratic party?

Last Tuesday, Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate and asserted that the Bush administration had "manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions." This is a serious charge; if it were true, it might well be an indictable offense. But it is, in reality, a slander. Shouldn't the president defend his honor?

After all, the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission found no evidence of political manufacture and manipulation of intelligence. The administration's weak and disorganized attempts to respond to Joe Wilson's misrepresentations put the lie to the existence of any campaign to "destroy" opponents of the war. In fact, the administration has done amazingly little to confront, and discredit, attacks from antiwar Democrats. It was a shock last week when White House spokesman Scott McClellan emerged for a few moments from his defensive crouch to point out that Clinton administration officials and Senate Democrats also believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Will he, and others in the administration, return to this theme? Will they call the now antiwar Democrats on their disreputable rewriting of history? Incidentally, are the Democrats ready to defend the proposition that we should have left Saddam in power? Is it okay with them if Zarqawi drives us out of Iraq? Will the administration challenge them as to what their alternative is? Will the administration take the time to put spokesmen forward, and recruit surrogates, to make the case for victory? Or do they enjoy being punching bags at the White House?
Kristol ads that "Bush owes it to himself, to his supporters, to the soldiers fighting in Iraq, and to the country to fight back." He fails to mention one other group who feels Bush "owes" them a debt: the ideologues who have been jonesing to invade Iraq for some 15 years.

Also at the Standard, Stephen Hayes continues his useless effort to convince Americans that the pr-war intelligence on Iraq was actually correct (despite all available evidence to the contrary.) Hayes' latest target: a NYT piece today revealing that intel from a key source, presumed to be a "high al-Qaeda official," was doubted by the CIA even before we invaded Iraq. Hayes tries to argue in his piece rebutting the Times, that Democratic claims that the Bush administration went far beyond the known facts in making the case for war are spurious for three reasons: George Tenet made the same allegations Bush did, Senate committees that investigated the intelligence found it credible, and the tried and true "the Clinton administration believed it too." Well, since Tenet is now pretty well known to have been a useless sycophant, who gave Bush "slam dunk" because Bush wanted "slam dunk," and since the GOP-controlled Congress has shown a clear pattern of refusal to draw conclusions on Iraq that could hurt the administration, and since Hayes and his ilk don't trust either the CIA or the Clinton administration in the first place -- it's hard to understand how those three sources become the underpinning for a sound case for war.

Nice try tough, Hayes.

Take three: Fred Barnes tries an even bolder approach: dissing Ronald Reagan. Hayes argues that the advice being given to Bush by "establishment" Republican ex-officials like David Gergen, and on the op-ed pages of the WashPost and New York Times, is political poison being doled out by the hacks who helped Reagan limp out of the White House in weakness following Iran Contra. Yes, that's convincing, Barnes: openly suggest Ronald Reagan's weakness as a way to convince the current administration to be more Reaganesque. Barnes has whisked the cover off a dirty little necon secret: they are not the heirs to the Gipper that they claim, or are assumed, to be.

What none of the Standard writers seem to be interested in is self-reflection. They don't address their own dogmatic campaign to get successive presidents to invade Iraq, and their history of mischief-making inside previous presidential administrations -- always to the detriment of the president they were serving, not to mention to the reputation of the United States. But then, they don't care about those things any more than they care about the beleaguered men and women of the military. These they see as little cogs in their great wheel of history. In the neocon vision, they roll the wheel, the rest of us just get rolled.

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posted by JReid @ 1:08 PM  
Twilight in America
From this week's TIME, pondering a Roveless future at the White House:
Sunday, Nov. 06, 2005
A White House Without Rove?
He's not gone yet, but his Texas-size ambitions are giving way to smaller goals

He's weary. his wife and only child, who is approaching college, miss him. He has monstrous legal bills. His unique bond with the President is under stress. His most important work is done.

Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect. A Roveless Bush seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. But that has changed as the President's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff remains embroiled in the CIA leak scandal.

Despite Rove's flashes of ebullience in recent days and the insistence of friends that he is out of legal jeopardy, several of the most important lawyers who deal with special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said they saw more clues last week that Fitzgerald is continuing to look into the possibility of charging Rove with lying to investigators or the grand jury or both. If that happens, Rove almost certainly would resign immediately, as did I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, when Libby was indicted two weeks ago. Otherwise, Rove is likely to wait for a chance to minimize the perception that he is being hounded out or leaving under a cloud. And he's got one constituency rooting for him, the conservatives who rely on him to be their voice. If he leaves, he will not be alone. Several well-wired Administration officials predict that within a year, the President will have a new chief of staff and press secretary, probably a new Treasury Secretary and maybe a new Defense Secretary.

The expected departures are among a host of new signs suggesting that Bush's sixth year in office—the last one before midterm elections and a turn in attention toward the 2008 race to succeed him—will be very different from his first five. The sunny optimist who loved to think big is now facing polls in which for the first time a majority of Americans say they do not trust him. "It's like it's twilight in America," says one frustrated conservative.
And could Libby cut a deal for a pardon that would keep Cheney off the witness stand? An interesting option. It seems Libby does hold some cards here, and one that he and his lawyers could play is to agree to plead out in exchange for a promise of a later pardon. But most of the legal talking heads I've heard have insisted that Libby would have to give up something significant in order to cut a deal, and the most significant thing he has to give, is the vice president.


Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate

posted by JReid @ 11:41 AM  
The judgment of history
Last December, TIME Magazine asked several noted historians to anticipate how history would judge Geroge W. Bush as president. A year later, their answers are still telling. A sampling:

Creating His Own Troubles in Iraq

Historians evaluating George W. Bush's first term will focus on foreign policy and, most of all, 9/11. I think they will criticize him for his early reaction, for not returning at once to Washington, D.C. Although the White House says it was worried about threats to Air Force One, it's worth noting that Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill didn't hesitate to enter war zones during World War II. And Lyndon Johnson, who didn't know at first whether a conspiracy might be behind the killing of John F. Kennedy, didn't hesitate to return to the capital. That said, Bush subsequently responded fairly well to 9/11, speaking effectively for the nation and then going into Afghanistan in a measured and sensible way that gave the country some sense of an appropriate response to 9/11.

With Iraq, it's difficult to imagine that historians will give him anything but poor marks. Bush took the country to war on false intelligence. His defenders will say a President has to go with the information he has and the advice he receives. But that's a cop-out. The greatest Presidents have been those who demonstrated astute judgment in times of crisis--often despite the advice they were getting. Bush was told that 140,000 troops would be sufficient for the occupation of Iraq. This turned out to be wrong. As Truman said, the buck stops here. Success in past U.S. conflicts has not been strictly the result of military leadership but rather the judgment of the President in choosing generals and setting broad strategy.


Trumanesque, in His Audacity

Having watched his first term, we know this about George W. Bush: he is an important President. We don't know the long-term consequences of his policies, particularly his pre-emptive war in Iraq, but we know that he matters. Truman, in Korea, similarly embraced a military doctrine that was radically unlike what Americans were accustomed to. If you accepted the need to contain communism, then Truman's "police action" in Korea was a critical part of the economic, social and diplomatic war between the West and the Soviet Union. Truman paid a heavy political price: his poll ratings in 1951 were lower than Richard Nixon's at resignation. Yet 50 years later, Truman is widely admired as a President who had the vision to define the realities of the postwar world.

We can't know yet whether Bush's doctrine, born in the rubble of the World Trade Center, is a 21st century version of Truman's containment, a strategic vision that will shape and define not only our politics but also our very way of life for decades to come. We don't know if Iraq is another Korea, or to what other nations Bush's doctrine might yet apply. Likewise, we can only surmise the cost, if any, in terms of alliances weakened by his policies. But we do know that Bush's approach is no less audacious than the one Truman undertook at considerable risk a half-century ago.


Bold, Certainly. Wise? We'll See

Watching a President in real time, historians can identify clues as to whether later generations might see him as an important leader. Does he change the terms of the foreign- and domestic-policy debates? Is he willing to take bold and innovative steps that might be politically risky? With Bush, the answer to both questions is yes. But only with the clarity that history provides will later Americans know for certain whether the President's major decisions--and the way he made them--were wise or not.

Someone other than Bush might have responded to the 9/11 attacks more incrementally. Bush almost immediately declared a worldwide war on terrorism, fully aware that it would probably take decades to fight, that Americans might grow frustrated and impatient with it, and that it might provoke brutal retaliatory attacks for which Americans might blame the President. Bush waged the Iraq war knowing that if optimistic assurances about finding weapons of mass destruction should prove wrong he might lose re-election. You see the same willingness to break the envelope on domestic issues, in tax policy, Social Security reform, conservative social issues.

In the end, however, great Presidents are those later viewed as both bold and wise. If Americans in 2034 believe that with his boldness, Bush successfully used a moment of U.S. global pre-eminence to make the world more peaceful and democratic, he will probably do well before the bar of history. If not, he'll have a tougher time.


The President and The Rest of Us

Presidencies are defined in part by the challenges that confront them. Dramatic events, like wars or 9/11, create openings for Presidents to be remembered. We will remember President Bush for having been in office during great events, but we will finally judge him on his response to those events. His signature event, the war in Iraq, will ultimately be judged on whether it brings greater freedom, democracy and security to the world and to our nation. World War II did all of that; Vietnam did not.

Presidents who succeed in wartime have been able to sustain their countrymen's spirits during the long years of struggle. F.D.R. understood that he could no longer be a partisan leader, that he had to reach out to all Americans. He appointed Republicans to top positions in his Cabinet; he put out an olive branch to business; he created countless ways for ordinary Americans to be involved in the war, through buying war bonds, joining the civilian-defense corps, bringing scrap rubber and aluminum to village greens, accepting increased taxes to ensure that soldiers had all the supplies and equipment they needed. And, of course, the draft meant that nearly everyone knew someone overseas. This war has been waged in a very different manner. It remains to be seen if Bush will be able to sustain our spirits if the war continues to defy the expected hope for victory.
A year later, you can add one more major, catastrophic event to the tally: Hurricane Katrina.

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posted by JReid @ 11:26 AM  
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Things we do at Fox News Channel
Spring for our friend Tom DeLay's travel expenses to the tune of around $14,000.

Tags: , , , Media, Fox News
posted by JReid @ 3:09 AM  
Mr. Torture
No wonder Dick Cheney appointed torture memo author David Addington to replace the indicted Scooter Libby as his new chief of staff. This guy seems to have some kind of jones for war, torture and cruelty ... Besides pushing for a CIA exemption to Senate-passed anti-torture rules, there's this from former Collin Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson:

Cheney’s appeal came two days before a former senior State Department official claimed in an interview with National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” that he had traced paperwork back to Cheney’s office that he believes led to U.S. troops abusing prisoners in Iraq.

“It was clear to me there that there was a visible audit trail from the vice president’s office through the secretary of defense down to the commanders in the field,” Lawrence Wilkerson, a former colonel who was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff during President Bush’s first term, said Thursday.

Wilkerson said the view of Cheney’s office was put in “carefully couched” terms but that to a soldier in the field it meant sometimes using interrogation techniques that “were not in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and the law of war.” He said he no longer has access to the paperwork.
Why is it that so many trails of bad things lead right to the vice president? This comes as an audit finds that the U.S. likely owes Iraq millions of dollars for work done at inflated prices or done so poorly it wasn't worth doing at all, by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root.

Tags: Tags: , torture, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Halliburton
posted by JReid @ 1:58 AM  
Meanwhile ... back at the prosecutor's office ...
Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean finally makes sense of the Fitzgerald indictments/non-indictments. His verdict: Dick Cheney may yet be the prosecutor's real target, and the one in jeopardy for disclosing classified information and outing a covert CIA operative (sorry Deborah Orrin, you may be a pure, unadulterated hack for the Bush administration, but "secret, no foreign" translates into "this operative's identity is classified"...)

The blockbuster is a subhead in the Dean FindLaw article that seems to explain what has been curious to many, namely the lack of indictments on the underlying crime of disclosing classified information. The subhead: "Libby's Obstruction Has Blocked An Espionage Act Charge." Says Dean:

In short, because Libby has lied, and apparently stuck to his lie, Fitzgerald is unable to build a case against him or anyone else under Section 793 (the Espionage Act), a provision which he is willing to invoke, albeit with care.

And who is most vulnerable under the Espionage Act? Dick Cheney...
So in Dean's formulation, Libby lied to protect Cheney (which was one of the two available options -- the other being that he lied to protect himself or someone else -- the third option, he forgot, just doesn't fly...) Dean also weaves a scenario in which suppositions about Libby's intelligence and cleverness are left in tact (as opposed to, how could someone so smart be so dumb?) In Dean's formulation, Libby told investigators a very careful and clever lie that shielded the vice president from charges that Cheney violated the Espionage Act by disclosing classified information to him, for the purpose of having it distributed to the media.

Now that, at least, makes sense. And if it's true, then Fitzgerald is throwing the book (and 30 years in prison) at Libby in order to "penetrate the firewall" between the neocon and his patron.

Update: In another interesting development, the WSJ is going to court to try and unseal the eight redacted pages of mateiral Fitzgerald showed to judges in order to jail Judy Miller for contempt. The Journal says the pages could put those nasty conspiracy tales to bed. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I for one would sure like to know what else Mr. Fitzgerald knows...


Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate

posted by JReid @ 1:57 AM  
BYOJ (Bring Your Own Judge)
Tom DeLay gets his trial judge picked by a political crony who has participated in his suspect PAC, after forcing out the original judge because he donated to in a presidential season? Owning large chunks of the Texas justice system: priceless...

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posted by JReid @ 1:55 AM  
Fancy footwork for Freddy
Fernando "Freddy" Ferrer ... you may be on your way to getting horse-whipped in the New York mayor's race by an incumbent with more money than God, but your hilarious TV commercials featuring George Bush and Michael Bloomberg on horseback, and lots of people -- like Al Sharpton -- doing the salsa, are having the BEST WEEK EVER!

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posted by JReid @ 1:50 AM  
What's in a photo?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but in the "class picture" from the troubled Summit of the Americas opener in Argentina on Friday, staffers obviously were careful not to place President Bush anywhere near Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But what's with the equal physical distance between Bush and two of America's closest trade allies, Paul Martin of Canada and Vicente Fox of Mexico? Instead, Mr. Bush is shown standing beside Argentina's President Nestor Kirchner and Bolivia's President Eduardo Rodriguez (just to Mr. Bush's right). In between Fox and Kirchner is Chile's President Ricardo Lagos. (For true junkies, those on the top row are, left to right: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Paraguay's President Nicanor Duarte, Peru's President Alejandro Toledo, and Suriname's President Runaldo Venetiaan. (Info and Scott Appplewhite photo courtesy of AP/Yahoo! News)

BTW, best line from the AP account:

Despite goading by Venezuela's Chavez — who has joked about his rivalry with the U.S. president and even suggested he might try to sneak up and scare Bush at the summit — Bush promised to be on his best behavior.

Boo! Now that would have been a great picture...


Tags: , Chavez, Cuba, Current Affairs, South America,

posted by JReid @ 1:47 AM  
Says you, Powerline
So much for the economy being in great shape. Just 56,000 jobs in October, and experts say things aren't getting better, they're getting worse (which most of us know just by looking at our own communities...)

Tags: economy, jobs
posted by JReid @ 1:46 AM  
Golly, be good
President Bush has ordered all White House staffers to attend ethics briefings, to be conducted by ... the Texas lotto scandal lady (and former "best possible choice for the Supreme Court,") Harriet Miers.

Tags: Tags:, News, , White House,
posted by JReid @ 1:38 AM  
No bias there
Remember Kenneth Tomlinson, the conservative Republican who made it his mission to root out "liberal bias" on public television as the Bush-appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? When he stepped down this week, many people -- myself included -- assumed it was the result of the controversy over Tomlinson's political meddling with the purportedly apolitical broadcasting organization. It appears that's not quite all there is to it. Says the NYT:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 - Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, is the subject of an inquiry into accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday.

Mr. Tomlinson was ousted from the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday after its inspector general concluded an investigation that was critical of him. That examination looked at his efforts as chairman of the corporation to seek more conservative programs on public radio and television.

But Mr. Tomlinson remains an important official as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The board, whose members include the secretary of state, plays a central role in public diplomacy. It supervises the government's foreign broadcasting operations, including Radio Martí, Radio Sawa and al-Hurra; transmits programs in 61 languages; and says it has more than 100 million listeners each week.
The board has been troubled lately over deep internal divisions and criticism of its Middle East broadcasts. Members of the Arab news media have said its broadcasts are American propaganda.

People involved in the inquiry said that investigators had already interviewed a significant number of officials at the agency and that, if the accusations were substantiated, they could involve criminal violations.

Last July, the inspector general at the State Department opened an inquiry into Mr. Tomlinson's work at the board of governors after Representative Howard L. Berman, Democrat of California, and Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, forwarded accusations of misuse of money.

The lawmakers requested the inquiry after Mr. Berman received complaints about Mr. Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said. People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for corporation activities, using board employees to do corporation work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees.
And guess who turns up in the State Department and inspector general's inquiry into possible wrongdoing by the right's new sheriff in public broadcasting town?

In recent weeks, State Department investigators have seized records and e-mail from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, officials said. They have shared some material with the inspector general at the corporation, including e-mail traffic between Mr. Tomlinson and White House officials including Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President Bush and a close friend of Mr. Tomlinson.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Tomlinson became friends in the 1990's when they served on the Board for International Broadcasting, the predecessor agency to the board of governors. Mr. Rove played an important role in Mr. Tomlinson's appointment as chairman of the broadcasting board.

The content of the e-mail between the two officials has not been made public but could become available when the corporation's inspector general sends his report to members of Congress this month.

That inspector general examined several contracts that were approved by Mr. Tomlinson but not disclosed to board members. The contracts provided for payments to a researcher who monitored the political content of several shows, including "Now" with Bill Moyers, and payments to two Republican lobbyists who were retained to help defeat a proposal in Congress that would have required greater representation of broadcasters on the corporation's board.

The inspector general also examined the role of a White House official, Mary C. Andrews, in Mr. Tomlinson's creation of an ombudsman's office to monitor the political balance of programs.

Mr. Tomlinson has said he took those steps to counter what he called a clear liberal tilt of public broadcasting. But broadcasting executives and critics of the corporation say the steps violated the corporation's obligations to insulate broadcasting from politics.

On Thursday Mr. Tomlinson was forced to step down from the corporation, which directs nearly $400 million in federal money to public radio and television, after the board was briefed about the conclusions by its inspector general. In that inquiry, examiners looked at accusations that Mr. Tomlinson improperly used corporation money to promote more conservative programming.

State Department officials said on Friday that al-Hurra, the Arabic language satellite television network set up by the board of governors, was also being examined by the inspector general for possibly problematic procurement practices. That audit was first disclosed on Friday by The Financial Times.

Not that any of this is surprising. Controlling the media has been a key component of administration strategy since almost immediately after 9/11, and reigning in public broadcasting must have been a key challenge, since it is the one news entity that can't be directly controlled by corporate welfare from the GOP controlled Congress. So Rove implanted Tomlinson to straighten out the Bill Moyers set, and to insert pro-American -- which in Rovian parlance means pro-Bush -- propaganda on the nation's last clean information outlet. And Tomlinson hired Fred Mann, a guy from the same ideological chop shop that brought you Ann Coulter to keep an eye on Moyers' show. From MediaMatters:

In a June 20 speech on the Senate floor, Dorgan said that he had received the "raw data" Mann provided Tomlinson and was "struck and disappointed" by the methods he used in conducting the study. For example, Mann labeled certain segments of the show "anti-Bush," "anti-DeLay" and "anticorporation." In addition, Mann classified all the guests appearing on NOW as either "conservative" or "liberal," labeling Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as "liberal." Dorgan inferred that Hagel had "apparently said something that wasn't completely in sync with the White House" and concluded: "That is not the prism through which someone should evaluate whether something makes sense."
And then there's Mary C. Andrews (the "C" is for Catherine) -- she's the $115,000 special assistant to the president who moonlighted as one of Tomlinson's bias-busters. Tomlinson originally denied ever having hired her, and then denied that her work for him conflicted with her very political job as a White House staffer. Well folks, he did, and it does.

Of course, conservatives will likely see no real problem in all of this, since they seem to have a difficult time finding their moral compass when the integrity of their own is found to be shaky. But Americans should care. When this or any White House engages in widespread attempts at turning America's sources of information into tools for political propaganda, those actions are both un-democratic and un-American. Americans on all sides of the political spectrum should be able to agree on that.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:26 AM  
Friday, November 04, 2005
It's been a rough start to the Summit of the Americas for President Bush. First, tens of the thousands of peaceful protesters, fanned on by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and even a Latin American soccer star, and now, the not-so-peaceful protesters, complete with fires and smashed store windows. Not an auspicious start... The summit starts against the following backdrop: Bush's approval rating among Argentinian and Brazilian leaders, to take just two countries, is in the teens...

Update: MSNBC just reported that Cindy Sheehan was in Argentina today and had some participation in the (earlier peaceful) protests ... if that's true, what is she doing down there??? Will look for updates on this later...

Update 2: The Miami Herald had reported that Cindy Sheehan was slated to attend the protests. This juxtoposition won't help those seeking to push her toward political ambition:
Among the thousands of protesters expected were Maradona, now an outspoken supporter of Cuba's Fidel Castro. The Associated Press reported that Sheehan -- who became a symbol of U.S. opposition to the war in Iraq after her soldier son was killed there -- was also expected to join the street demonstrations.
USA Today columnist Richard Benedetto had more on Sheehan's "Stalking of the President" tour on Friday ... okay, that was mean --but is it just me, or is Ms. Sheehan becoming a more and more troubling figure every time I see her? Already, her presence on the speakers list alongside Chavez and Fidelisto former soccer star Diego Maradona has pro-Bush factions fuming... The plusses and minuses of globalization aside (and I'm becoming less and less fond of unrestricted free trade these days) Sheehan's ability to align herself with the most extreme elements on the left is becoming alarming. How did she produce a son who wanted to join the United States military? Casey Sheehan must have beent he Alex P. Keaton of the Sheehan household... Sheehan is right about the Iraq war, in my opinion, but I'm not sure anti-globalization is her bag.

Tags: , Chavez, Cuba, Current Affairs, South America,
posted by JReid @ 4:53 PM  
Stall and stonewall ... or, the land where no records are kept
One of the most extraordinary -- and distressing -- things about the last five years has been the absolute collusion between two branches of government that are supposed to jealously, and competitively, guard their own interests. When Congress and the White House do that, they also protect our democracy, each by ensuring that the other cannot become too powerful. But with the current administration and Republican Congress, that idea has been thrown out in favor of what Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek today called "the Potomac two-step."

It goes like this:

On September 16, Meeks asks a staffer to contact the Congressional Research Service to find out how many subpoenas were issued to White House staffers, or to the president himself, during the eight years of the Clinton administration, versus how many have been issued during the five years of the current administration. Sounds simple, right?

According to Meek, who along with Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (one of the first Democrats to speak out against the war and a major supporter of Paul Hackett), and South Florida's Kathy Wasserman-Schultz, took to the House floor this afternoon to decry the stonewalling by the Republican leadership on the issue of the CIA leak (aka Plamegate), his staffers were met with "shudders" at the CRS, where people "were concerned, because they're saying, 'you're asking for something that we have to go over and ask them..." -- them being the Bush administration -- and the CRS folks were thinking they wouldn't be too well received...

So the staffers were told that such a request usually takes one or two days.

One or two days later, Meek's staffers call back and are told that the CRS folks contacted the office of the House's general counsel, and were told that the records are not complete. Says Meek, obviously the general counsel has to keep records, but somehow "they're not complete."

Meek's people call repeatedly between Sept 19 and the 29th, and are told that the CRS staffers have spoken to four House committees and were told variations on:

"Someone is asking for the records...", "the first committee does not have the records...", "the second committee does not have the records of previous congresses..." , "the third committee is not sure it ever had those recorsds; they could be in the National Archives..." fourth commtttee does not have recoreds for previous years, either. Maybe they really are at the Archives."

Well now, Meek says he's putting the majority on notice: "if those subpoenas are in this Capitol. If they're in this building, someone better get an intern and run them over to the National Archives because we're on our way over there."

Let's see what they find when they get there...

Tags: Tags: , War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media, , ,
posted by JReid @ 3:04 PM  
Born in the U.S.A.
More swill from the addled mind of Tom Tancredo: His new plan for curbing illegal immigration? Put up a fence along the southern border ... okay, okay, makes sense ... and END birthright citizenship! I wonder who Tancredo envisions deciding which persons born on U.S. soil get to call themselves Americans and which do not? Maybe he could give the job to this guy.

As the American-born child of two immigrants who came to this country to go to graduate school, and whose foreign-born mother worked hard to build a life in this country until the day she died, I take this one personally. Under Tancredo's formulation, when my sister, brother and I were born in Iowa, Denver and Brooklyn, respectively, our birth certificates would have been stamped with something other than "citizen," right? And then, what, some loon like Tancredo would decide if we were worthy?

Look, I understand, and sympathise, with the Lou Dobbs argument about illegal immigration and the correlation between border security and national security. And I take particular offense at the importation of cheap/slave laborers form Mexico and other countries into places like Louisiana, where they line up for low-paying jobs that should have been high-paying rebuilding jobs for Americans from Louisiana. The Bush administration has been startlingly lax on the subject of border security, as people like Dobbs and Pat Buchanan have ably pointed out. But citizenship tests are not the answer. Most startling is that advocates of this solution are citing European law as the justification for their preferred change of policy. Since when does the right look to Europe for the formation of American laws? If it's good for the wingnuts, why is it bad for the Supreme Court when it comes to human rights law?

More proof that the notion of an "ideas-based" conservative movement are bunk. What we have is a coalition based on the naked pursuit of power and personal interest, at the expense of Americans and American values.

So what's my solution to America's illegal immigration magnet? Tancredo and his friends in congress should do their job and fund real border security, an increase in personnel at the border, better checkpoints and technology and a real, get-tough policy with Bush's sometime-pal in Mexico. Once people get here, like it or not, any kids they have here are Americans.

Tags: , Politics, , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:41 AM  
Separated at birth?

On the left: would-be Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito ... on the right: Niles from Frazier. I report, you decide.

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,

posted by JReid @ 8:59 AM  
If George W. Bush were a CEO ...
...he'd be Michael Eisner. Short take: worst polling numbers ever... (ABC version) And now it's not just Bush's competency that's in question, it's his character.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 1:58 AM  
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Brownie, you're one heck of a putz (part duex)
Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Michael Brown worried about his outfit. Read the emails for yourself here.

Flashback: Putzy is as putzy does ... part one

Tags: , , Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, News
posted by JReid @ 3:26 PM  
The untalented Mr. Federline
More proof that we are in the End Times, from AP: "The dawn of Kevin Federline's hip-hop career has begun." Great. Hip hop was pretty much dead anyway, so what's one more wanna be gangsta between friends?

Kevin is even trying to play the role, straight out of the BET playbook: he's an absentee father to the two kids he fathered with the "baby mama" he never married, and to whom he doesn't always pay his child support ... he plays golf dressed like a hobo in some sort of vain attempt to rub the "thug life" in the face of "the man," and when he's not hitting the public fairlanes, he spends more time partying, getting drunk and shopping with his current lady's money than helping the wife take care of his latest offspring (sorry, Brit, but as Shar Jackson said after Kev dumped her at eight months pregant to get with you, “C’mon, kiddo, did you think things were going to be different. ... Kevin was there for (daughter) Kori every single day of her life until I told him to go out and get a job.”) ... he dresses like he's 14, even though he's about twice that age ... his first single was produced by somebody calling himself "Disco D" ... in 2005 ... and contains memorable lyrics like: "Back then, they called me K-Fed, but you can call me Daddy instead," and "Steppin' in this game and y'all ain't got a clue. Getting anxious? Go take a peep/ I'm starrin' in your magazines now every day and week. ... "But maybe baby you can wait and see/ Until then all these Pavarottis followin' me."

Um ... "K-Fed"? darling ...?... The people who follow you around popping flashbulbs in your face -- well, the ones who follow your wife around, anyway -- are called paparazzi. Pavoratti sings opera. Maybe Britney could spring for a re-record??? Or maybe not. Apparently, when she heard Kev's rap stylings, Brit (who's no Pavarotti herself) laughed in his face. (BTW, could K-Fed soon have two baby-mamas he's not married to? Now THAT's what I call gangsta!!! Maybe Bill Cosby could condemn Kev personally and really get his career going...)

Yep. Cue the four horsemen and the many-horned beast. It's over.

BTW, all you cynics out there, please stop calling my boy K-Fed the new Vanilla Ice. He'd have to sell about 1 million copies of his debut album, "The Truth," in order to be Vanilla Ice. He probably won't even sell 1/100th of that amount... which means it's all over but the revoked Amex Black card and the reposessed bling. One saving grace for K-Fed: he apparently is psychic, having written the following along with the previously reported gems:

"My prediction is that y'all gonna hate on the style we create, straight 2008."

Your prediction is correct, sir. We hate it, and will still hate it three years from now.

Update: If you think you can take it, here's the product, entitled, "Y'all ain't ready." ... don't say I didn't warn you...

Tags: , Britney Spears, Britney, Music, kfed, Entertainment, Shar Jackson

posted by JReid @ 1:06 PM  
On the other hand
Paris is burning ... but at least the "gang of 14" isn't breaking up.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 1:03 PM  
He said it (bound and gagged edition)
"I never even considered the fact that our country would be debating whether or not we could continue to torture prisoners around the world in secret prisons. This is something that's inconceivable. " -- former President Jimmy Carter on the deterioration of American values under the current occupant of the White House

Update: On "Connected" just now, Tom Tancredo just proved why he's one of the Congress' most embarassing members, as he tried vainly to defend the use of torture by the same country that invaded Iraq, supposedly in part becuase its then leader tortured people. More on Tancredo's decidedly undemocratic beliefs here, and flashback to the Tank's musings on "taking out Mecca" here.

Tags: Jimmy Carter, , War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, torture

posted by JReid @ 12:50 PM  
Libby rolls the dice
The pundits were wrong: there will be no plea bargain -- Libby will go to trial. That means that either he has separated the issue of his defense from the issue of protecting the White House, or he is still protecting Cheney by refusing to plea, because he knows he would have to tell Pat Fitzgerald something he doesn't know -- probably about Cheney. Either way, the White House can't be happy about this.

Tags: , , , PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 12:15 PM  
The brotha from anotha legal team
Maybe this is only interesting to me, but did you notice that Libby is going to trial in D.C., where the jury pool will likely be largely African-American, where the judge is Black, and where one of Libby's two attorneys is, too? (The other Libby lawyer is a Baker Bott...)

So who is the brother who will be representing Scooter, Ted Wells? Just two months ago, he had some interesting things to say about the interplay between corporations in jeopardy and indivuals in jeopardy:
“Ten years ago, it was – save the individuals and plead the corporation,” Wells said last week at a conference on white-collar crime sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. “Now, things have radically changed and it’s totally reversed.”

“Now, the government has set up a system where it’s – save the corporation by sacrificing the individuals,” Wells said. “The independent directors hire a law firm, which becomes in effect a deputized prosecutor. And the individual executives are sacrificed to save the corporation.”

“In the old days, there used to be a close relationship between executives and the corporation,” he said. “Today, they are separated.”
So how will Wells save this individual when his corporation -- the MBA-driven Bush administration -- might be all-too willing to let him go to prison to save their hides?

By the way, what other high profile clients has Wells represented? Try the tobacco industry, whom he claimed, with a straight face, did not conspire to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking ... former New Jersey Senator Robert Toricelli, accused of taking bribes ... Michael Milkin, and others. According to people in the know, he's not the kind of lawyer who settles.

Tags: , , , PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 11:46 AM  
The ghost of Tom Daschle
Hey Bill Frist! Remember the guy you broke historic precedent by campaigning against when he was minority leader? Gotcha:
Senate's Closed-Session Move Borne Out of Daschle's Strategy

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 3, 2005; A06

It took Democrats about five seconds to trigger the parliamentary move that forced the Senate into a rare closed session this week, but it was more than a year in the planning.

The final decision to employ the tactic, which infuriated Republicans and exacerbated partisan animosity, was made in the Democratic leader's second-floor Capitol office Monday night, in a small gathering of his lieutenants. Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) considered the strategy to be so sensitive that only four of his colleagues knew what he intended when he entered the Senate chamber at 2:25 p.m. Tuesday, party aides said yesterday.

Reid invoked Senate Rule 21, which allows any senator to order all non-members from the chamber. The rule's existence was widely known, and closed sessions had been held by bipartisan agreement as recently as 1999, regarding President Bill Clinton's impeachment. But the notion of one party springing the rule on the other party without warning was so alien that senators could not cite a previous example. Republican leaders quickly denounced it as a stunt, an affront, a trust-killing slap in the face.

Reid's aides said yesterday that their boss decided on the dramatic, attention-grabbing ploy because he was weary of GOP foot-dragging on a promised inquiry by the Senate intelligence committee into the Bush administration's handling of prewar intelligence on Iraq. "We'd had enough press conferences and requests, public and private," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. "Now it was time to act."

But Reid did not have to start from scratch. His predecessor, former Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), had considered going into closed session to discuss intelligence use and to spur the inquiry launched in early 2004. But he wanted the cooperation of Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

"For the past couple of years, Senator Frist and I had agreed to hold an executive session," Daschle said yesterday. But Frist "kept putting it off." Daschle said several Democratic senators "threatened to do it over his opposition during that time, but it never got to that point."

Daschle's staff researched exactly how Rule 21 might be used, aides said, and its findings were at Reid's fingertips when he convened the weekly meeting of his leadership team at 6:15 p.m. Monday. Present were party Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), conference Secretary Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and campaign committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.). In an interview yesterday, Schumer said the group decided on the closed session out of frustration over the Bush administration's "stonewalling" and their anger over the White House's failure to apologize after senior aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted Friday on perjury charges connected to claims that prewar intelligence on Iraq was manipulated.

"There's nothing more poisonous to a democracy than the refusal to listen to facts," Schumer said.
You said it, Chuck.

Tags: , , , , , PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 11:39 AM  
The gulag's the thing
The CIA running secret prisons around the world, including in Europe and former republics of the old Soviet Union? Get outta here! WaPo put the story on page A1 yesterday, and since then, a string of denials have come from purported base-holders Slovakia and Thailand, plus eight other mostly European nations, but curiously, not from the U.S. or from the CIA, which supposedly operates such gulags -- including some housed in actual former Soviet gulags -- in Afghanistan, Gitmo and elsewhere. The EU and Red Cross will now investigate us, and our already stained human rights record. That's how far we've fallen, folks.

And for what? For Iraq? Hardly. We've further destabilized the neighborhood where Saddam Hussein used to be the big bully, and if the bloody mess that that disintegrating country has become is the future of freedom, allow me to live in the past, thanks. Have we captured Bin Laden? Nope. We supposedly have caught this guy (I guess it's off to the Polish gulag for Mr. Nasar...) and you know where he was found? In Iraq? Nope. In Afghanistan? No again. We found him in Pakistan, right where we also found an actual nuclear program, loads of dangerous Islamist extremists and an unelected, undemocratic government. All results that could have come without killing more than 2,000 of our own G.I.s in order to indulge the neocons' fantasies in Baghdad.

Thank you, Mr. President. It should be clear to you why your ratings are where they are. Enjoy your trip to South America.

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 11:00 AM  
Bit by bit, putting it together
Raw Story pulls together the threads (previously thought to be unraveled) between the leak, the "undersecretary" and The Mustache, and justifies the Washington Note's meditations on Fred Fleitz.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 12:31 AM  
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
But what is this?
A new Gallup poll has some not-so-nice news for Alitophiles everywhere:

Gallup said that about the same number of Americans rate Alito's selection either excellent or good (43%) as rate it fair or poor (39%). Harriet Miers initially received a very similar rating, but John Roberts' rating was more positive: 51% excellent or good, 34% fair or poor. ...

--“It doesn't bother most Americans (75%) that Alito is a man nominated to replace the first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court.”

--“If it becomes clear Alito would vote to reverse the abortion ruling Roe v. Wade, Americans would not want the Senate to confirm him, by 53% to 37%.”

--“If most Senate Democrats oppose the nomination and decide to filibuster against Alito, 50% of Americans believe they would be justified, while 40% say they would not.”
This jibes with the findings in just about every poll you can think of, that Americans may be squeamish about the issue of abortion, but most don't want it banned, Operation Rescue style.

And speaking of the little nuthouse operation in the Sunshine State, Randall Terry and Co. might not be pleased to learn that Alito isn't necessarily a "slam dunk" -- to use a Tenetism -- on the abortion issue. He is, however, a slam dunk on puck-checking his mama:
"He is against abortion," Rose Alito replied quickly. "We both are."

She said her son "still carries his Roman Catholic values with him. He is a very ordinary person, very conservative."

Less than half an hour later, she received a phone call from her son.

"Oh Sam, there are people all over the house and in front of the house," Rose Alito said excitedly.

There was no exchange of pleasantries. On the other end, Alito apparently was telling his mother not to say anything further and to order reporters out of the house.

"I hope I did not do anything wrong," she replied. "Now I'm upset. Call me back later, Sam."

At that point, a shaken Rose Alito began urging reporters to leave, and shut the door.
Poor mama. Such a son!

More on Alito:

Norm Ornstein sez -- 'he's no John Roberts.'

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
posted by JReid @ 11:16 PM  
They're just not that into you
The bastards! Leave it to CNN to drop the one guy I enjoyed watching on the network. Godspeed, Aaron Brown. Hey, and what's this supposed to mean?

"You don't want an anchor who's just so over it," he added. "Too many on TV, like overpriced NBA stars, are just phoning it in. Anderson gets in the game. It's infectious."
Yeah, well what's not to be over? All those TV monitors on Blitzer's torture chamber of an afternoon show? And sure, Anderson is cute, but can Gloria Vanderbilt's baby boy formulate a four-minute question... and hold for a follow-up? I didn't think so.

On a more serious note, I worked with a former Aaron Brown mentee who's doing very well in the news business 'round these parts, and from what I hear, Mr. Brown is as congenial and intelligent as he seems to be on the tube. ...Sure wish he could have gotten Nightline...

Tags: Media, , , Anderson Cooper
posted by JReid @ 9:04 PM  
The president requests the pleasure of your company ... and bring your girlfriend, too...
Double sourced by Drudge and the Washington Note, spot the girl-girl couple at the White House British Royals state dinner:
GUEST HIGHLIGHTS AT WHITE HOUSE DINNER FOR PRINCE CHARLES AND DUTCHESS: Miss Jenna Bush/ Mr. Henry Hager (Guest); Tom Brokaw; Michael Beschloss, Historian; Mary Cheney, Ms. Heather Poe (Guest); Kelsey Grammer; Nancy Reagan, Mr. Merv Griffin (Guest); Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Gene A. Washington, Director of Football Operations, National Football League (Guest); R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., Editor in Chief, The American Spectator...Medallions of Buffalo Tenderloin, Roasted Corn, Wild Rice Pancakes, Glazed Parsnips and Young Carrots; Mint Romaine Lettuce with Blood Orange Vinaigrette, Vermont Camembert Cheese and Spiced Walnuts; Petits Fours Cake, Chartreuse Ice Cream, Red and Green Grape Sauce...
And they call that Dubya a conservative ... BTW, how did Mary get an invite and not Dick? Could the boys be growing apart?

Tags: , , , White House
posted by JReid @ 8:50 PM  
Angry Dubya
Is George W. Bush getting squirly again? Sources say "hide in the West Wing bathroom until he goes away..." Exerpt:


Bush's Increasing Mental Lapses and Temper Tantrums Worry White House Aides
Nov 2, 2005, 05:26
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An uncivil war rages inside the walls of the West Wing of the White House, a bitter, acrimonious war driven by a failed agenda, destroyed credibility, dwindling public support and a President who lapses into Alzheimer-like periods of incoherent babbling.

On one side are the dwindling numbers of die-hard loyalists to President George W. Bush, those who support his actions and decisions without question and remain committed to both Bush and scandal-scarred political advisor Karl Rove.

On the other side are the increasing numbers of those who say Rove must go and who worry about the President's declining mental state and his ability to restore credibility with Congress, our foreign allies and the American people.

The war erupted into full-blown shout fests at Camp David this past weekend where decorum broke down in staff meetings and longtime aides threatened to quit unless Rove goes. Insiders say Chief of Staff Andrew Card now leads the anti-Rove legions and has told Bush that he wants out of the high-pressure job

White House staff members say the White House is “like a wartime bunker” where shell-shocked aides hide from those who disagree with their actions and office pools speculate on how long certain senior aides will last.

Bush, whose obscenity-laced temper tantrums increase with each new setback and scandal, abruptly ended one Camp David meeting by telling everyone in the room to “go fuck yourselves” before he stalked out of the room.

Senior aides describe Bush as increasingly “edgy” or “nervous” or “unfocused.” They say the President goes from apparent coherent thought one moment to aimless rambles about political enemies and those who are “out to get me.”

“It’s worse than the days when Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s began setting in,” one longtime GOP operative told me privately this week. “You don’t know if he’s going to be coherent from one moment to the next. What scares me is if he lapses into one of those fogs during a public appearance.”
Meanwhile, Trent Lott continues his war on the forces that done him in, becoming the first Senator to suggest that maybe it's time for Turd Blossom to go...

Tags: , Politics, News, War, President, Republicans,
posted by JReid @ 10:37 AM  
Harry Reid for president
I think the state of affairs in Washington can be safely summed up in four words: don't mess with Harry. Reid closed down the Senate yesterday, proving that Democrats do understand war strategy. (Update: ThinkProgress has the video and a transcript.)

RawStory has the details on just how much blocking the GOP has been doing when it comes to getting to the bottom of intelligence use by the admnistration in the build-up to war...

WaPo has the GOP bursting a capillary. ...they're also apoplectic ...

Culture Kitchen sez: it was surely foretold...

Newsbusters says the media missed the real story: this procedure is rarely used -- and mostly for impeachments...

Op-ed News is pleased with the new, macho Dems ....

Achoo! ABC News says the new level of rage inside the halls of Congress could hobble everything from bird flu legislation to your mama ...

RedState observes Frist's whiney response and finds evidence of malpractice. RedRuling: Frist has got to go ...

Tags: , , Republicans, Politics, Iraq, Bush Administration
posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
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