Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, June 30, 2006
GOP's finger on the pulse of red meat conservatives
...and virtually no one else.

Tags: , Politics, Republicans, Congress,
posted by JReid @ 10:17 AM  
Best anti-419 action ever
A smart fellow figures out a great way to scam the Nigerian E-mail scammers. HT to BoingBoing.

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posted by JReid @ 10:11 AM  
The smackdown of King George
Call it a liberal fantasy if you want, but the Supreme Court's legal smackdown of the Bush White House's monarchical terror "war" was the first real hint of the return of oversight and sanity in at least some quarters of American government and jurisprudence. The five justices who told the Bushies that no, they can't just whisk people off to secret detention, then secretly try by military court and possibly even execute said people (oh sorry ... "terrorists...") just might be the one thing standing between us and complete tyranny. Let's just go with AJ's quote of choice from the WaPo ... only because I love it so much:

A Governing Philosophy Rebuffed
Ruling Emphasizes Constitutional Boundaries

For five years, President Bush waged war as he saw fit. If intelligence officers needed to eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls without warrants, he authorized it. If the military wanted to hold terrorism suspects without trial, he let it.

Now the Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country. In rejecting Bush's military tribunals for terrorism suspects, the high court ruled that even a wartime commander in chief must govern within constitutional confines significantly tighter than this president has believed appropriate.

For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission. This ethos is why many supporters find Bush an inspiring leader, and why many critics in this country and abroad react so viscerally against him.

At a political level, the decision carries immediate ramifications. It provides fodder to critics who turned Guantanamo Bay into a metaphor for an administration run amok. Now lawmakers may have to figure out how much due process is enough for suspected terrorists, hardly the sort of issue many would be eager to engage in during the months before an election.

That sort of back-and-forth process is just what Bush has usually tried to avoid as he set about to prosecute an unconventional war against an elusive enemy after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He asserted that in this new era, a president's inherent constitutional authority was all that was needed. Lawmakers and judges largely deferred to him, with occasional exceptions, such as the Supreme Court two years ago when it limited the administration's ability to detain suspects indefinitely.

"There is a strain of legal reasoning in this administration that believes in a time of war the other two branches have a diminished role or no role," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has resisted the administration's philosophy, said in an interview. "It's sincere, it's heartfelt, but after today, it's wrong."
Except that I don't even think it's sincere.

Meanwhile, Mash posts a salient paragraph from the ruling:

"Even assuming that Hamden is a dangerous individual who would cause great harm or death to innocent civilians given the opportunity, the Executive nevertheless must comply with the prevailing rule of law in undertaking to try him and subject him to criminal punishment. " - Justice John Paul Stevens writing the majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, et. al.
Amen, Justice Stevens. Please stay healthy.

Other reax:

Justice Clarence Thomas slams John Paul Stevens' failure to understand matters of war. Hm. Thomas must have loads of personal military experience to back that up, right? ... um... maybe not.

The recently quite reasonable Trent Lott goes ape-shit!

Delilah Boyd, who blogs for DU, has the liner of the day: If It's Friday, Bush Must Be A War Criminal. Heehee.

From the HuffPo: Harry Shearer: What The Supreme Court's Saying, Maybe

California conservative predicts the victory for the will be short-lived. And given the supine and spineless United States Congress, I wouldn't be surprised.

Tags: , Bush, SCOTUS,
posted by JReid @ 9:06 AM  
New info on the Karate Seven
From today's Miami Herald:
For months, federal agents relied on an FBI informant posing as an al Qaeda financier to build their terror case against Narseal Batiste and his band of six followers who were allegedly plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and federal buildings in Miami.

But a new figure central to the terror investigation emerged on Thursday: a Chicago man with ties to the suspected terror group, who was arrested in April after a shot was fired inside the group's Liberty City warehouse, according to court documents filed in Atlanta and Miami.

The man, Sultan Khanbey, 51, turned out to be Batiste's mentor and teacher -- and he's now providing prosecutors with an inside view of the alleged terror organization.

Authorities say the group wanted to blow up the tallest building in the United States -- the Sears Tower in Batiste's native Chicago -- along with the FBI headquarters in North Miami Beach and the federal courthouse/detention center/U.S. attorney's office complex in downtown Miami.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force first started keeping tabs on the group in October after Batiste tried to recruit a man of Arabic descent, known to regularly travel to the Middle East, to join Batiste's group.

Batiste told the local Arab man that he wanted to meet ''Muslim brothers'' from Yemen to ''wage a holy war'' inside the United States, a prosecutor said Thursday in Atlanta.

Instead of joining Batiste's fledgling Liberty City jihad, the man contacted the FBI.
I believe this is the "man" whom a relative of Lyglenson Lemorin and a childhood friend of Stanley Phanor, (two of the defendants,) who contacted me at the radio station and whom we've interviewed on-air, hinted that he and the others knew, and who "got them into this situation." The relative, whom we've had on the air twice, and who has called me repeatedly to give his side of the story, claims that the men are 100 percent innocent, and that they were "trapped" by someone he didn't name. More on the story:
With the help of the original informant, another Arab man working with the terrorism task force was introduced into Batiste's circle. The new informant, posing as an al Qaeda contact, became a regular fixture at the Liberty City warehouse that they called ``the embassy.''

Federal prosecutor Richard Getchell, speaking at the Atlanta federal court hearing, said Batiste claimed he had built an army of about 100 soldiers in Florida, Chicago and elsewhere and planned on training them on family farmland about two hours north of Baton Rouge, La.

Getchell said Batiste, a former FedEx deliveryman in Chicago, wanted to start his bombing campaign with the Sears Tower because he knew the building and the layout of its below-ground floors.

Khanbey, who was born Charles Stewart, entered the picture in early April, two weeks after most of the seven defendants had sworn a loyalty oath -- or bayat -- to al Qaeda while the hidden cameras were rolling inside the Liberty City warehouse.

In a conversation with the FBI informant on April 1, Batiste described Khanbey as his ''main man,'' identifying him as ``the Sultan.''

The Sultan, Batiste said, was generally aware of their plan, but didn't know the details because Batiste didn't want to talk about them over the phone. The FBI informant and Batiste talked about bringing ''The Sultan'' to Miami.

CALLED TO MIAMI

Batiste later called Khanbey in Chicago on a tapped phone, inviting him to Miami because he ''didn't want to make any moves'' without talking to him.

Khanbey and his wife arrived in Miami on April 11, with travel arrangements set up by his Miami protégé.

Wiretaps inside the warehouse captured Khanbey and Batiste discussing their plans to build a ''Moorish nation of 10,000 people'' and equip them with what they referred to as Moorish national security cards. They talked about recruiting, training and equipping their soldiers in green and black uniforms.

According to court papers, Khanbey said ' . . . they were `vanguards' and 'angels' here to rid the Earth of filth; that they were a nation and would do what nations do; and that as long as they stood on Islam they were impregnable.''

But within days, relations soured in the ranks. Getchell said Thursday that Khanbey openly worried that law enforcement had infiltrated the group. On April 19, the rift between Khanbey and Batiste escalated into gunplay.

Miami police responded to reports of a shot fired inside the ''embassy'' at 6260 NW 15th Ave.

Khanbey was initially charged with aggravated battery for allegedly aiming a pistol and firing one shot past the left ear of Master Ali-

Atheea -- a member of the group who has not been charged in the terror indictment, according to a Miami police report. Police recovered a loaded 9 mm Hi-Point pistol loaded with seven rounds of ammunition.

FIREARMS ARREST

Khanbey was freed on bond, but was rearrested on May 5 by an agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives and charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

That's when Khanbey, who was convicted in Illinois on rape charges in 1977, started cooperating with the terror investigation.

Khanbey, who faces up to 20 years on the new gun charge, is being held inside one of the buildings that Batiste's paramilitary group was purportedly plotting to destroy, the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

Reached by phone in Chicago, Khanbey's wife, Queen Zakiyaah, said her husband met Batiste in Chicago about five years ago. Like Batiste, Khanbey's family has roots in Louisiana, his wife said.

She said the couple traveled to South Florida in April to help teach Moorish Science principles. Moorish Science was founded in the early 20th Century by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali. The religion blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam and stresses discipline through martial arts.

Lyglenson Lemorin, a permanent U.S. resident from Haiti who was arrested last week in Atlanta, was denied bond Thursday. Lemorin, who said he has known Batiste about 18 months, is awaiting transfer to Miami.

In a post-arrest statement to agents, Lemorin acknowledged swearing the loyalty oath to al Qaeda and participating in martial arts and paramilitary training exercises at the ''embassy'' in Liberty City.

More details are expected to emerge this afternoon at bond hearings in Miami for the other six defendants.

Back to Lemorin for a second. He scrawled a sworn statement to the FBI in Atlanta, where he is incarcerated. You can read it for yourself here. He implicates Nasreal Batiste, a/k/a "Brother Nas," who was the alleged ringleader of the group, and talks about "John," who apparently is the FBI infiltrator. Says Lemorin:
I have known Brother Naz for about 1 1/2 years. I was part of a group called the Moorish Science Temple that took an oath of allegiance to Al Qaida. I was present when John gave Brother Naz a video camera to film target locations (Federal Buildings & Tower building) in Miami Fl and Chicago, IL to destroy. I attended martial arts and military discipline (marching) training at the warehouse (church) in Miami, FL and at public parks in Florida.
I definitely want to re-examine the cousin, whom I've been in contact with. His claims are definitely at odds with this statement, although I remain a skeptic on whether this group really constituted an al-Qaida threat. Again, they appear to have been dupes, easily led by a couple of strong personalities who convinced them that although they are not themselves Muslims, they could join in the global jihad. Of course, they were supposed to karate chop the infidel, I guess, since they didn't have actual weapons. And their arrests, like the Osama video, are great timing for the people in Washington who need for you to be afraid so that they can do what they want to do.

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posted by JReid @ 7:25 AM  
From the desk of: Yeah, right
Surprise! Just when the administration is in the midst of a campaign to raise the president's approval ratings on Iraq and the "war on terror," we have a new Bin Laden tape! The tape contains supposedly new audio from the invisible terror mastermind, old video, and the following curious juxtopositions: praise for the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom Bin Laden previously is supposed to have sharply criticized for his rampant beheadings (and attacks on civilians that Bin Laden now supposedly, and conveniently for the Bushies' "al-Qaida is the Iraq insurgency" storyline, defends...) and the terming of him as a "great knight," by an organization for whom the Crusades remain a very sore point. Hm. It gets curiouser and curiouser. Here's an AP story from June 24:

Indeed, al-Zarqawi's attacks on Shiite civilians in Iraq have been a point of conflict between his group and bin Laden.

Bin Laden has refrained from attacking Shiites despite the fact that his fundamentalist Sunni strain, called Wahhabi or sometimes called Salafist — like al-Zarqawi's — also considers Shiites as heretics.

"He (bin Laden) may, as an austere Salafist, have no particular love for Shiites or Hezbollah. But I'm not aware that he's ever singled them out for specific criticism," Evans said.

With al-Zarqawi himself gone and despite the vow to carry on his work, Ibrahim Bayram, a Lebanese journalist who follows Hezbollah, said he did not expect the dispute to escalate.
Hm. But now, the Salafist is cool with the attacks on civilians, and think they make the late Zarqawi a "great knight." Great ... knight... please to define:

Knight is the English term for a European social position. Knighthood is a non-heritable (with a few rare exceptions) form of gentility, but not of nobility. In the High and Late Middle Ages, the principal duty of a knight was to fight as, and lead, heavy cavalry (see also serjeanty); more recently, knighthood has been a title of honor, given to a more diverse class of people, from Sir Edmund Hillary to Sir Paul McCartney. By extension, "knight" is also used as a translation of the names of other honorable estates connected with horsemanship, especially from classical antiquity.

The history of knighthood involves, therefore, the history of the social institution, which began somewhat differently in the various European regions; the history of the word, and the corresponding terms in French and Latin; and the history of the technology which made heavy cavalry possible. ...

... From the 12th century, the concept continued being tied to cavalry, mounted and armoured soldiers, and thus to the earlier class of noble Roman warriors known as equites (see esquire). Because of the cost of equipping oneself in the cavalry, the term became associated with wealth and social status, and eventually knighthood became a formal title. Significantly the nobility, who at this time were also expected to be leaders in times of war, responded to this new class by becoming members of it. Nobles had their sons trained as gentlemen and as professional fighters in the household of another noble. When the young man had completed his training he was ready to become a knight, and would be honoured as such in a ceremony known as "dubbing" (knighting) from the French "adoubement". It was expected that all young men of noble birth be knights and often take oaths swearing allegiance, chastity, protection of other Christians, and respect of the laws laid down by their forebears, though this varied from period to period and on the rank of the individual.
And...

The Knights Templar were the most powerful military monastic order which took part in the Crusades. The Knights Templar were formed from several groups of knights by Hugh de Payens for the express purpose of protecting Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. The incorporation of these groups of knights created a powerful military force which formed the nucleus of the Crusading Army. However, these military aspects only formed a portion of their identity. The order adopted a monastic way of life based on that of St. Benedict when not in battle. This dual identity brought about the famous description of them as "fiercer than lions and gentler than lambs." The monastic life of the Knights Templar granted them the peace of mind and soul to fulfill their prescribed mission. The military successes of the Knights Templar were numerous, especially in the Third Crusade where they fought in the ranks at Arsuf under Richard the Lionhearted. The Knights Templar fought fiercely against Saracen encroachment into territory held by the Latin Kingdoms of Palestine, but were driven into Cyprus when Acre fell in 1291. From Cyprus, the Knights Templar achieved financial success which in turn brought them the wrath of King Philip IV of France. The order was persecuted from 1308-1314 and destroyed with the death of the last Grandmaster, Jaques de Molay.
And this is what Bin Laden ... who is still sore over the Crusades ... calls Zarqawi?

Whatever, man. More conveniences, via the gullible Bushbots at Wizbang and their good friends at Fox:
The 19-minute message shows an old still photo of bin Laden in a split-screen next to images of al-Zarqawi taken from a previous video. A voice resembling bin Laden's narrates a tribute to the Jordanian-born militant, who was killed in a June 7 airstrike northeast of Baghdad.
Again, how very convenient for the Bushies. They also link to this odd para from the Counterterrorism Blog:
Evan Kohlmann on MSNBC: Tape doesn't indicate that any incidents are on the horizon - OBL is jumping on Zarqawi's coattails and using his legacy - ironic since OBL always had problems and Zarqawi is more useful to OBL dead - the tape is subtitled only in arabic, so the intended audience are those primarily supportive of Al Qaeda in Mideast (tapes intended for the West are subtitled in English and American recruits are used in producing these tapes) - OBL is saying Zarqawi's death is only a bump in the road and a sign of moving towards victory, and Al Qaeda appreciates Zarqawi's role - Zarqawi is the "rock star" and Iraq became the front line since the US arrived there - Americans have nothing to fear from this but it was intentionally put out in time for July 4th, as OBL and Al Qaeda are very media-savvy.
Yes. They're media savvy, and always in a way that helps the Saudi Bin Laden's foil, the Saudi-buddy George W. Bush.

And with that, I'll put my tin foil hat on the coatrack.

Tags: , Al Qaeda, Bush, GWOT, Iraq, Terrorism, Osama,
posted by JReid @ 6:29 AM  
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Sunni insurgents make an offer
Via the Counterterrorism Blog's Bill Roggio:
Eleven insurgent groups, eight of which are being led by the 1920 Revolution Brigades, have issued a counter proposal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's plan for national reconciliation. The insurgent groups have offered to quit the battlefield if the following conditions are met:

• The United States agrees to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq in two years.
• An end to U.S. and Iraqi military operations against insurgent forces.
• Compensation for Iraqis killed by U.S. and government forces and reimbursement for property damage.
• An end to the ban on army officers from Saddam's regime in the Iraqi military.
• An end to the government ban on former members of the Baath Party — which ruled the country under Saddam.
• The release of insurgent detainees.

The Associated Press reports the groups largely "operate north of Baghdad in the heavily Sunni Arab provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala." This region is the heart of the operational area of the Baathist/Saddamist insurgency. The 1920 Revolution Brigades is thought to be a mix of Saddam loyalists and military officers, and nationalist Islamists. The 1920 Revolution Brigades is also said to be the armed wing of Islamic Resistance Movement, or Muslim Brotherhood. The Salahudeen Brigades and Mujahideen Army are two other significant elements of the Sunni insurgency (see Evan Kohlmann's chart of the major Sunni insurgent/terrorist groups).
The demands issued by the eleven groups, specifically the end to the bans on Saddam era Army officers and Baathist participation in the government, indicate a significant portion of the Baathist/Saddamist insurgency is searching for a negotiated settlement to end their involvement in the fighting.

One of the demands of this insurgent block is already being met. The Iraqi government has released 450 detainees on June 27th, and over 2,500 total are scheduled to be released "through a series of 200 – 500 person releases throughout the month." While the loyalties of those released has not been made public, the releases are likely being targeted at the eleven insurgent groups as a sign of good faith. At the same time, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq continues to try members of the insurgency for violating the laws of Iraq. The ten latest members of the insurgency have been convicted of non-violent crimes such as "possession of illegal weapons, passport violations and illegal border crossing," and several will be likely eligible for pardon.
That indeed is a hopeful sign. Let's see where it goes. I tend to be very pessimistic on Iraq, which I maintain was an unneccessary war (and poorly managed at that.) Also today, Romania says, "we're outta here!"

Tags: , Politics, Bush, War, News
posted by JReid @ 9:54 AM  
There is no Taepodong
Turns out the North Korean missile story was un poquito hoax.

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posted by JReid @ 9:42 AM  
Rumors of war
Things are getting deadly serious in the Mideast, with the Israelis now strafing the Gaza Strip and, incongruously, entering Syria's airspace to buzz the home of that country's persident, yesterday, and then arresting the deputy prime minister of the Palestinian Hamas government.

The cause of this latest conflagration? The killing of two Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of a third, 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, plus the execution of a teenaged Israeli settler by militants yesterday by the militants holding him could now trigger open war between not only the Israelis and Palestinians, but apparently, the Israelis' other enemies (i.e., Syria) as well.

The discovery of the 18-year-old soldier's body seems to have given the Israelis an excuse to attack the Hamas-led Palestinian government, and to threaten Syria's Bashar al-Assad as well. Scary stuff. Hamas' deputy prime minister, who seems to have escaped the Israeli raids so far, is now in hiding. From Ha'aretz:
IDF troops launched the major arrest operation against Hamas officials overnight, detaining 64 of the ruling militant group's ministers and parliamentarians in the West Bank and 23 military operatives.

The arrests took place in Ramallah, Qalqilyah, Hebron, Jenin and East Jerusalem, according to Palestinian reports. Soldiers carried arrest warrants signed by judges that were issued following cooperative preparatory work by the state prosecution and police.

On Thursday morning, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer hinted that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is not exempt from arrest or harm.

"No one is immune... This is not a government. It is a murderous organization," Ben-Eliezer said.

A Hamas official called the arrests an "open war against the Palestinian government and people," and said that Israel must be prepared to pay their consequences.

"We have no government, we have nothing. They have all been taken," Saeb Erekat, an ally of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said of the arrests. "This is absolutely unacceptable and we demand their release immediately."

Israel Radio quoted Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin as having told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the day of the kidnapping: "If the soldier is not returned in 24 hours, Israel will not allow the Palestinian government to survive."

Clearly, Israel doesn't recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian government, and I would question whether they would ever recognize the sovereignty of any Palestinian government. And you've got to think that as horrible as the kidnapping of this soldier was, the Israelis are using his death as an opportunity to institute as much "regime change" as they can fit into a single operation.

On the other side, Gaza militants now say they have chemical tipped rockets that they are already firing at Israel.

Wizbang has the Likudnik POV.

Tags: , Palestine, Politics, Hamas, Middle East,
posted by JReid @ 8:41 AM  
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Who's watching you?
...Fox News?

Tags: , News, fox,
posted by JReid @ 10:29 AM  
Charge big, convict small
Two stories on the Bush administration's pattern of snazzy press conference anti-terrorism, vs. their dismal record of convicting actual terrorists. First up, Pete Williams of NBC News:

Some legal experts accuse the Justice Department overselling the arrests cases as terrorism arrests, generating dramatic headlines that actually end very differently.

"Our approach tends to be, I think, prosecutions by press conferences," says Juliette Kayyem, an NBC terrorism analyst and a professor at Harvard University. "A lot is promised at the front end, and then when you actually get to the facts of the case, it tends to fall apart."

Sensitive to that criticism, the government is now defending its record.

Just last week, the Justice Department said 261 people have been convicted in terror-related prosecutions since 2001. Many were solid wins — Iyman Faris, who plotted to attack the Brooklyn Bridge, for example. Would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, and Mohammed Babar, who admitted providing support for al-Qaida operations overseas.

But of the total 261 convictions, the average sentence is only around a year, from plea agreements, to charges like immigration or document fraud. And sometimes the threat may seem remote, as with the Lackawanna Six, the group in Buffalo, N.Y., convicted of getting terror training but never charged with planning any specific attack.

Even so, in a recent speech, the deputy attorney general said all are examples of a new approach — prevention through prosecution.

"We could await further action by these men and then arrest and prosecute them," says Paul McNulty, U.S. deputy attorney general, "or we could prosecute at the moment our investigation reveals both a risk to our national security and a violation of our nation's laws,"
Next, we go to Belfast:

The alarming news flashed across America’s TV screens on Thursday evening: government agents had thwarted an al-Qa’ida plot, using home-grown American terrorists, to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago in a ghastly repeat of 9/11.

When the dust had settled barely 24 hours later, a rather more modest version of events had emerged. The seven young black men arrested at a warehouse in Miami and Atlanta had never been in touch with al-Qa’ida , and had no explosives. Their “plan” to destroy America’s tallest building was little more than wishful thinking, expressed by one of them to an FBI informant purporting to be a member of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation.

Even the FBI admitted as much. John Pistole, the bureau’s deputy director, described the plan on Friday as “aspirational rather than operational” and admitted that none of the seven (five US citizens and two Haitian immigrants, pictured) had ever featured on a terrorist watch list.

In essence, the entire case rests upon conversations between Narseal Baptiste, the apparent ringleader of the group, with the informant, who was posing as a member of al-Qa’ida but in fact belonged to the South Florida Terrorist Task Force.

At a meeting “on or about 16 December” according to the indictment made public as the men made their first court appearance in Miami, Mr Baptiste asked his contact to supply equipment including uniforms, machine guns, explosives, cars and $50,000 in cash for an “Islamic Army” that would carry out a mission “just as good or greater than 9/11”.

In fact, the conspiracy seems to have extended little further than those words. By last month, it had all but fizzled out, amid squabbling among Mr Baptiste’s followers. Even their religious leanings are in dispute. Neighbours say they were part of a group, called Seas of David, that mixes Christian and Islamic elements.

That did not deter the US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, from summoning a press conference in which he denounced an attempt to “wage war against America”. But the threat, even he admitted, was not immediate – and those who posed it were in fact merely a few semi-unemployed men, most of them petty criminals, from Liberty City, a poor black neighbourhood close to the centre of Miami.

If the case has any significance in America’s “war on terror”, it is not as a present danger, but as a harbinger of possible future risks. Despite countless scare stories in the media, colour-coded alerts from the Department of Homeland Security and grim official warnings of al-Qa’ida sleeper cells in the country waiting to do their worst, the US has not suffered a single terrorist attack since 9/11.

Nor have the authorities unearthed much of a terror threat. The Justice Department claims that 401 people have been charged with “terrorism-related offences” since the 2001 attacks, and that 212 have been convicted. In fact only a tiny number of these were true terrorists.

The tendency – duly followed last week by Mr Gonzales – has been to hype. The precedent was famously set by his predecessor, John Ashcroft, who called a press conference during a visit to Moscow in 2002 to announce the arrest of Jose Padilla, the so-called “dirty bomber” said to be preparing an attack on Washington with a radioactive device.

Mr Padilla languished incommunicado in a navy brig without charge for over three years. He has been transferred to a civilian prison, and faces trial in Miami later this year on different, much vaguer, terrorist charges. An alleged sleeper cell was unearthed in Detroit, but those convictions were quashed in 2004 when it emerged that prosecutors had manipulated evidence. In December 2005, the trial of Sami al-Arian, accused of links with Islamic Jihad terrorists, ended in embarrassment for the government when the Florida university professor was acquitted.

The biggest successes have had little to do with US law enforcement. Richard Reid, who tried to blow up an American Airlines plane with a shoe bomb in December 2001, was stopped by alert flight attendants, while Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the Virginia student serving a 30-year sentence for threatening to kill President George Bush, was caught by police in Saudi Arabia.
Could it be, that the so-called "war on terror" is a ruse, designed to keep Americans afraid and compliant, not to mention open to further abuses of our civil liberties and the wasting of our money in Iraq? Meanwhile, it turns out that fighting the threats on our streets are a law enforcement problem, not a terrorism problem, after all. More than 15,000 Americans die as a result of homicide each year, versus the grand total of TWO attacks by foreign terrorists on U.S. soil in 200 years. What does that sound like to you?

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posted by JReid @ 9:44 AM  
Okay, I swear this is for real
Republican Senator seeks ... wait for it ... a pimp tax. A freaking pimp tax!!! God, these Republicans are NUTS!

Tags: , , Politics, Republicans
posted by JReid @ 9:41 AM  
How can I quit you if you won't go away?
CapHillBlue has the hilarious tale of a guy who tried to quit AOL, and was soundly rebuffed by the customer service agent.

Tags: , Internet
posted by JReid @ 9:35 AM  
Carl Levin takes on the Bush flaks at Fox
Sen. Carl Levin did the damned thing on Fox the other day, taking on one of the president's many protectors at the "fair and balanced" network. Here's the transcript of the exchange, via ThinkP:
KILMEADE: But Senator, just one question for you. Just real quick, one last question for you: Why do you think the president would keep troops there past when they should be?

LEVIN: I don’t know. Because General Casey has said that he expects these significant reductions this year. Why the White House would then attack Democrats for proposing the same thing has no explanation that I can think of — no other explanation.

KILMEADE: General Casey said he’s going to do it by conditions on the ground, and has not said he is going to withdraw troops.

(CROSSTALK)

LEVIN: Let me read it to you. Let me just read you what Casey said…

(CROSSTALK)

KILMEADE: He said one of the plans that he brought together would be reducing troops by 7,000 in September. That’s one of the plans.

LEVIN: Let me read to you what Casey said. “I’m confident that we will be able to take reductions over the course of this year.” This is what he said publicly at the Pentagon. I don’t know whether you reported this or not.

KILMEADE: We covered it live.

LEVIN: Good. Live — and I hope you cover it with this program. “Is that still true, General, fairly substantial?” General Casey: “I think so.” Now are the Republicans going to call General Casey “Cut-and-Run George” because he says that he believes there will be substantial reductions this year? They attacked Democrats — from the White House. It was a rubber stamp Republican Senate. They attack Democrats…

KILMEADE: We’re up against a hard break, but that was a 45-minute press conference with the secretary of defense. And he went back and forth over many scenarios, and that was one of them. And, of course, the best-case scenario — which you accuse the president of taking too far, too often — was that he be able to reduce troops. And I’m sure he wants them out as much as you do. Senator Levin, thanks so much for joining us.

LEVIN: Well, thank you for your opinion. But I was hoping this would be an interview of me rather than an interview of you.

KILMEADE: Well, you know what, I did interview you. I listened to you talk. I watched you read. Senator Levin, thank you very much.
No, Mr. Kilmeade, thank YOU.

Tags: , Bush, News, fox, Iraq
posted by JReid @ 8:58 AM  
Get Daou
Hillary hires blogger Peter Daou to help her make nice with the netroots. Congrats, PDiddy! My hit count has benefited from links from Daou on Salon from time to time, and wish him all the best.

Tags: , Clinton, HILLARY CLINTON, Politics, , Blogs, ,
posted by JReid @ 8:07 AM  
Cut and run fever running wild!
What ever happened to that Karl Rove strategy of branding anyone who wants to set a timetable for beginning the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq as a "cut-and-run" coward? Well, it seems to have run smack into a brick wall called General George Casey, glanced off the semi-independent Prime Minister of Iraq, bounced off and collided into a stone pilon called the American people.

And now, an episode of "how the Democrats accidentally stumbled into the right position on the war":
Most Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that includes a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken last weekend.

Exactly half of those surveyed want all U.S. forces out within 12 months.

Some 57% say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops, while 39% say that should be left to the president and his advisers.

The percentage of Americans who say the president has "a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq" has dropped to 31%. This is a new low, but it's still higher than the 25% who say congressional Democrats have a clear plan.
And how do Americans feel about the upcoming elections?
Americans are paying unusually close attention to the congressional elections in November, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and they are more inclined to deliver big gains to Democrats than in any year since Republicans swept to control of the House and Senate in 1994.

The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, indicates that voters are more concerned about national issues than local ones — a situation that favors Democrats hoping to tap discontent over the Iraq war and gas prices — and prefer Democrats over Republicans on handling every major issue except terrorism.

President Bush looms as a significant drag: 39% of those surveyed say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Bush. Just 21% say they would be more likely.

"At this point, it certainly looks like a significant tilt to the Democrats, but it's still quite early," says James Campbell, a political scientist at the University of Buffalo and author of The Presidential Pulse of Congressional Elections.
The Dems need 15 House seats to take over that chamber, but the real action may be in the Senate, where one of the big hopefulls is in Tennessee. Clearly, the GOP is paying attention.

Meanwhile, the parties aren't really debating how to end the war. We are going to "cut and run" from Iraq. Both parties clearly want out (though clearly, Dick Cheney doesn't ... ever...) and the American people want out. I'll bet if you took a vote, most of the troops want out, too. This phony debate is really about who will benefit politically from getting the hell out of there.

Tags: Politics, News, News and politics, , Bush, War
posted by JReid @ 6:39 AM  
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
When is a Muslim extremist ... not quite a Muslim extremist?
We had Mark Hosenball on the radio show this morning, to discuss his July 3 Newsweek article on the seven Liberty City men accused of being ... ahem ... al-Qaida terrorists. His conclusion appears to be just like mine: that this case is full of ... merde.

More importantly, we had on a cousin of one of the suspects, who is also a childhood friend of one of the other defendants. He made several points: that these men are religious men, not dangerous, and not anything near terrorists. That could be called family bias. But the young man we talked to also made the following point, which I think is key:

These men are not Muslims.

Hosenball corroborates. They are members of a strange, Black nationalist religious sect called the Moorish Science Temple of Divine Soldiers, an odd sect, but not a Muslim one.

That would kinda make it tough for them to be al-Qaida...

More later.

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posted by JReid @ 9:43 AM  
It's National HIV Testing Day
Get tested, especialy if you're in South Florida. And if you're in Alabama, you could even get free games.

Tags: , AIDS, News, HIV-AIDS, Infectious Disease, Health
posted by JReid @ 9:31 AM  
Limp Biscuit
El Rushbo caught with the cabbage again -- only this time the cabbage is Viagra ... I guess for the Fat Man, serving Daryn (and apparently, this here Heritage Foundation lady...) requires ... er ... reinforcements. Says AP:


West Palm Beach, Florida (AP) — Rush Limbaugh was detained for about three-and-a-half hours today at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the 55-year-old radio commentator's luggage was examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after his private plane landed at the airport around 2 p.m. from the Dominican Republic.

Customs officials reportedly found in Limbaugh's luggage a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra, a prescription drug that treats erectile disfunction.

The sheriff's office says the problem is, Limbaugh's name was not on the bottle. Two Florida doctors' names were.

Sheriff's investigators confiscated the drugs, and Limbaugh was released around 5:30 p.m. without being charged.

Limbaugh's attorney says a doctor wrote the prescription in his name for “privacy purposes.”
This is just too easy. Thank you, Rush. Thank you for making my blog-day. Oh, by the way, no statement has been issued forth on Rush's Excellence in Broadcasting Internet crack den.

Top threeLimbaugh Viagra headlines so far:

Number three, from Dig at HulkMad: Rush Limbaugh kills imaginations (Ha!)
Number two, from Bring it On!: Talent From God Revoked?
And number one, from twostepsleft: Quick! Swallow the evidence!

And from Jesus' General, this honorable mention photo spread.

Update/Ewww alert: We have a name to go with that el Grosso slobdown. Apparently, it's a lady from "24" that Limbaugh is using to try and arouse his troops. (Hat tip to the Wiz...)

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posted by JReid @ 6:10 AM  
Monday, June 26, 2006
On the Sunday shows...
...Russ Feingold and Carl Levin hand out some truth about Iraq. Feingold was so good on MTP, it was scary. And Levin, on Fox's Sunday show, predicted that the administration would do some "strategic troop reductions" (not to be confused with "cutting and running,") prior to the November elections.

And as C&L points out, Feingold's other zinger, was his clear lack of support for Joe Lieberman.

Tags: Iraq, , Politics, , , War
posted by JReid @ 11:06 AM  
By the way...
Speaking of real terrorists, there's one in charge in Somalia now. But the Bushies wouldn't have time to pay attention to that. They're too busy protecting Liberty City from the jihadis.
posted by JReid @ 10:55 AM  
The case of the discount jihadis
The wingers are still trying so, so hard to take the Liberty City jihadis seriously:

Were members of this cell were connected to any mosques or Islamic Centers? Are they home grown terrorists? Imports? Have they been to prison? Do they have connections to any Canadian cells? Questions, questions…
But over in the real world, the questions we've got are, why are we bothering with the "Keystone Qaida" when there are real terrorists out there cutting people's heads off?

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posted by JReid @ 10:00 AM  
Sunday, June 25, 2006
BYOTP (Bring Your Own Terror Plot)

The newest war on terror tactic (which is apparently the only way the Bush administration can get terrorism prosecutions, as opposed to the previous administration, which indicted actual terrorists caught in the act...) is a doozy:

First, you find a gullable, anti-social person and their crew...

Then, you introduce a paid FBI informant to infiltrate the group...

Then, the informant coaxes the flunkie into thinking he's a real-life terrorist, complete with getting the dumbass to 'swear an oath to Osama bin Laden' ...

Then, you arrest the would-be "terrorists" and try them for conspiracy to provide material support to the FBI informant ... er ... the terrorists.

Briliant. Miami Herald, you're up:
The seven men -- Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin, and Rotschild Augustine -- have been charged with conspiring to support al Qaeda. But the closest the group got to Osama bin Laden was an FBI informant posing as an ``al Qaeda representative.''

The indictment documents several meetings between Batiste, the group's 32-year-old suspected ringleader, and the informant. The men discuss potential terrorism targets, including FBI offices in five cities, and list needed supplies, including machine guns, bulletproof vests and combat boots, the indictment said.

Perhaps just as damaging is that all seven men swore an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda, the indictment says.

But the indictment also suggests that the men were nowhere near executing their plans.

The defendants had no guns or other weapons when they were arrested last week. The informant did provide some boots and a camera for the suspects to photograph a North Miami Beach FBI office and other local targets, the indictment says.

But it's unclear from the indictment whether the alleged conspirators actually visited their most ambitious target, the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago.

These factors have led some to question whether the government went too far in its prosecution and has entrapped the men by manufacturing the crime for them.

''I don't think anyone seriously believes that these were real terrorists. We used to have agents and confidential informants creating drug deals in Liberty City. Now it looks like they are creating homegrown cells,'' said David O. Markus, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

We have been here before. The Herald article brings up the case of Imran Mandhai, a teeniebopper who was supposed to be plotting to blow up electrical transformers throughout South Florida with an equally gullible friend. Mandhai is also the poor screwball who tried to buy an AK 47 to further his nefarious plot -- but then his credit card was declined...

Yep. We're really zeroing in on the bad guy A-Team. Too bad we have to send government informants in to create the terrorists for us to catch.

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posted by JReid @ 5:46 PM  
Friday, June 23, 2006
Hunger strike ...? Not so much...
"Psst! Infidel bastard guarding person! ... The between meal snacks ... eh ... they don' counting, right..."

Okay, so now, Saddam Hussein staged the world's most truncated hunger strike. Oh my god, I need to quit blogging while I'm ahead. This has been the best blog day EVER! Between the right wing nut-jobs who still think there are WMD in Iraq, and the ones who think those Liberty City karate guys are a major terror cell, and the dictator who can't quit eating for more than four hours? Pure ... blogging ... gold. And I'm spent.

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posted by JReid @ 9:07 PM  
The global neighborhood war on terror ... with a Kung-Fu grip!

"This group was more aspirational than operational," FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said. -- From an AP story on the arrest of seven men in Miami on terrorism charges, June 23

Did you hear the one about the "aspirational", Muslim-ish, would-be "al-Qaida" terrorist cell that was so broke, they had to panhandle for food and water from the church next door, and for whom the FBI informant pretending to be an al-Qaida super-agent was the sole source of both funds, video equipment and ideas on what to blow up? (Hell, even the shoeless insurgents in Iraq have their own video cameras...)

It's a cautionary tale to paramilitary, karate-loving street movements everywhere. Be warned. The grimy warehouse you're sleeping in is crawling with informants. And best not to go about recruiting people in strength and conditioning class...

Wow. The war on terror has dragged on so long and been conducted so ridiculously, it's actually become funny.

Want more laughs? Read the indictment. It basically says that the defendants, each of whose club nickname starts with "Brother," met repeatedly with an FBI informant whom they thought was al-Qaida, and got him to buy them all some shoes. Oh, they also got a digital video camera and promised to take pictures of the FBI building in Miami. Yep. They sound mighty scary. Whoever said we have nothing to fear but fear itself didn't anticipate overly health conscious Black militant guys who sleep in a warehouse in the hood.

Meanwhile, ooh, goodie! Soviet-style propaganda posters!!! Hey guys, I've got a slogan: "The Terr'rists Do Karate! Support the Dear Leader! Get Paunchy!"

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posted by JReid @ 8:27 PM  
New info on the Karate Seven
Yeah. The gang that couldn't Al-Qaida straight:

The seven individuals indicted by a federal grand jury were taken into custody Thursday when authorities swarmed a Miami warehouse that had been used by a Black Muslim group.

According to the court documents, a man identified as Narseal Batiste was the recruiter who wanted to organize "soldiers" to build an Islamic army to wage holy war.

The others were identified as Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin, and Rotschild Augustine.

Batiste allegedly met last December in a hotel room with someone posing as a representative of al-Qaida — someone law enforcement officials say was actually an agent of a country friendly to the United States.

The indictment described the alleged scheme this way:

Batiste initially asked for "boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, and vehicles," as well as $50,000 in cash, to help him build an "Islamic Army to wage jihad.”

In February, Batiste told the foreign agent that he wanted him and his men to attend an al-Qaida training camp so as to "kill all the devils we can" in a mission he said "would be just as good or greater than 9/11" — beginning with the destruction of the Sears Tower.

At a meeting on March 16 at a warehouse in the Miami area, the seven defendants discussed a plot to bomb FBI buildings in five cities, and each swore an oath of loyalty to al-Qaida before the purported al-Qaida representative.

The person they believed to be an al-Qaida representative gave Batiste a video camera, which Batiste said he would use to film the North Miami Beach FBI building, the indictment said. At a March 26 meeting, Batiste and Augustin provided the foreign agent with photographs of the FBI building, as well as video of other Miami government buildings, and discussed the plot to bomb the FBI building.

But on May 24, the indictment said, Batiste told the foreign agent that he was experiencing delays “because of various problems within his organization.” Batiste said he wanted to continue his mission and his relationship with al-Qaida nonetheless, the document said.

The informant's ability to track the group from its early stages had neutralized the threat.

Unfortunately for the jihadis, they didn't realize that you can't run a terrorist cell from a warehouse in Liberty City, especially when you're telling everybody what you're doing...

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posted by JReid @ 1:04 PM  
An ode to the die-hards
The NYT profiles the cranks on the right who just can't let those Iraq WMD stories go.
WASHINGTON, June 22 — The United States government abandoned the search for unconventional weapons in Iraq long ago. But Dave Gaubatz has never given up.

Mr. Gaubatz, an earnest, Arabic-speaking investigator who spent the first months of the war as an Air Force civilian in southern Iraq, has said he has identified four sites where residents said chemical weapons were buried in concrete bunkers.

The sites were never searched, he said, and he is not going to let anyone forget it.

"I just don't want the weapons to fall into the wrong hands," Mr. Gaubatz, of Denton, Tex., said.

For the last year, he has given his account on talk radio programs, in Congressional offices and on his Web site, which he introduced last month with, "A lone American battles politicians to locate W.M.D."

Some politicians are outspoken allies in Mr. Gaubatz's cause. He is just one of a vocal and disparate collection of Americans, mostly on the political right, whose search for Saddam Hussein's unconventional weapons continues.

More than a year after the White House, at considerable political cost, accepted the intelligence agencies' verdict that Mr. Hussein destroyed his stockpiles in the 1990's, these Americans have an unshakable faith that the weapons continue to exist.

The proponents include some members of Congress. Two Republicans, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania held a news conference on Wednesday to announce that, as Mr. Santorum put it, "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

American intelligence officials hastily scheduled a background briefing for the news media on Thursday to clarify that. Hoekstra and Mr. Santorum were referring to an Army report that described roughly 500 munitions containing "degraded" mustard or sarin gas, all manufactured before the 1991 gulf war and found scattered through Iraq since 2003.

Such shells had previously been reported and do not change the government conclusion, the officials said.

Such official statements are unlikely to settle the question for the believers, some of whom have impressive credentials. They include a retired Air Force lieutenant general, Thomas G. McInerney, a commentator on the Fox News Channel who has broadcast that weapons are in three places in Syria and one in Lebanon, moved there with Russian help on the eve of the war.

"I firmly believe that, and everything I learn makes my belief firmer," said Mr. McInerney, who retired in 1994. "I'm amazed that the mainstream media hasn't picked this up."

Also among the weapons hunters is Duane R. Clarridge, a long-retired officer of the Central Intelligence Agency who said he thought that the weapons had been moved to Sudan by ship.

"And we think we know which ship," Mr. Clarridge said in a recent interview.

The weapons hunters hold fast to the administration's original justification for the war, as expressed by the president three days before the bombing began in 2003. There was "no doubt," Mr. Bush said in an address to the nation, "that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

The weapons hunters were encouraged in February when tapes of Mr. Hussein's talking with top aides about his arsenal were released at the Intelligence Summit, a private gathering in northern Virginia of 600 former spies, former military officers and hobbyists.

"We reopened the W.M.D. question in a big way," said John Loftus, organizer of the conference.

In March, under Congressional pressure, National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte began posting on the Web thousands of captured Iraqi documents. Some intelligence officials opposed the move, fearing a free-for-all of amateur speculation and intrigue.

But the weapons hunters were heartened and began combing the documents for clues.

Mr. Gaubatz, 47, now chief investigator for the Dallas County medical examiner, said he knew some people might call him a kook.

"I don't care about being embarrassed," he said, spreading snapshots, maps and notebooks documenting his findings across the dining room table in an interview at his house. "I only brought this up when the White House said the hunt for W.M.D. was over."
Tags: Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 9:59 AM  
Casey speak with forked tongue
Gen. George Casey says the U.S. could pull some troops out of Iraq (although he apparently hasn't presented that nugget to either the Pentagon or the Iraqis as yet).

But then he says this:
Iranian support for extremists inside Iraq has shown a "noticeable increase" this year, with Tehran's special forces providing weapons and bomb training to anti-U.S. groups, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said yesterday.

Which is it, Casey? Are things getting better, or are they getting worse?

Signs point to worse.

Tags: , Iraq, News, Iran
posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Wave the white flag
Who is calling for surrender in Iraq, Dan Bartlett?

"Uh..."

Tags: , , , Military, Iraq, GWOT, News, global-war-on-terror
posted by JReid @ 9:42 AM  
Crazies making crazies
Here we go. The FBI blow-torch raid and arrests of the Karate Seven down here in South "Flaw-duh" has launched the right wing crazy boat online.

Powerline -- surprise, surprise -- buys the story hook, line and sinker, including a totally made-up Qaida connection (even the official story says they had no ties to Bin Laden...)

Michelle Malkin says Black Muslims are muy scary... and she's got the spooky Black men pictures to prove it!

Allah Pundit can't believe Fox News is getting beaten on the story! Yeah, maybe having to break it to Santorum that the WMD story was a crocker broke the Bush-Cheney official network's spirit.

Blogs of War puts up a pic that makes the Miami raid look just the way the Bushies like it -- like it actually has something to do with the global war on terror!!! And BOW has this kid in a candy store comment:

WOW! this is sounding HUGE:
Calm down, man. You're actually drooling...

Okay, now I'm about to fall down on the floor laughing. More BOW:

Passionate America says:
We stopped them again…
LOL oh my god, these wingers are freaking NUTS!!! BOW has links to all the outlandish conspiracy theories circulating on the right.

Oh, I can't resist, here's some more crazy for ya:

They’re calling it homegrown terror but apparently these guys were lead to believe that they were helping a radical Islamic terrorist. That’s frightening.

Dan Riehl is plotting involved locations using MapQuest and Google. Very cool.
Say it isn't so, Dan! Please come back from the mothership!

Mas loca:

Bill Quick has a hunch:
Who could these people possibly be? What could conceivably motivate them?
Here’s a couple of wild-assed guesses: the “citizens” are either naturalized immigrants from the middle east, or part of the immediate families of same, and they share a particular set of religious beliefs that are Islamic in nature.
It’s just too early to tell but early reports seem to support that hunch. We’ll know soon.

CNN broadcast is reporting that one suspect took an “Al Qaeda Oath.” Bill’s hunch is sounding pretty solid. MSNBC has more info on the suspects:
The men — part of a radical Black Muslim group — were planning terror acts in Miami and Chicago, officials say. The planned targets were the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Miami.
Friday is going to be…interesting.
HA!!! then, this nutcase says that he's looking for the ... wait for it ... "tin foil beanies" on the left to begin questioning the story.

Boy do I love the right wing blogosphere. They are freaking hilarious!

I'm almost afraid to see what AJ has to say about this ...

Guys. Take a deep breath. Liberty City is not Peshwar. It's the hood, man. These are probably some militant brothas working out and doing marshal arts and fancying themseelves revolutionaries. The idea that they had a serious plot going, or that they had any conceivable ties -- familial or otherwise -- to actual terrorists, is laughable. Prediction: this will go the way of the dirty bomber and the two yokels who were supposed to blow up electrical transformers in South Florida but wound up trying to buy a couple of AK-47s with a bad credit card. They're doing 5 years apiece for some low-level violation today, after getting the Ashcroft treatment not long before the 2002 midterms.

And of course, no post on this subject would be complete without a quote from the Queen of Crazy: Debbie Schlussel. Go Debbie:
Does life imitate art in the antics of terrorists? Definitely. And details of the Miami Al-Qaeda terror cell, busted today, bolster that.

And were they busted today to avoid them bombing a building at Friday's Miami Heat victory parade (for winning the NBA Championship) in downtown Miami? The team is owned by Israeli Jews . . . er, "evil Zionists." And the Heat had a moment of silence for American victim of Palestinian terror, Daniel Wultz (more here), during the NBA Play-offs.

The Miami terrorists, Black Muslims, behaved just like the terror cell in HBO's "Sleeper Cell" (more here). (Lots of videos of arrests of the Miami terror cell members, interviews with relatives of the terrorists, and neighbors from various Miami TV stations here.)

Jeez, where's the medication.

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posted by JReid @ 8:00 AM  
Yeah, right
Now, I'm supposed to be afraid of Masonic lodge, sleeping in a warehouse, karate-kicking Black Muslim terrorists in Liberty City. Yeah. Does Karl Rove ever sleep? And how does he get the FBI to go along with this stuff?

And just to keep the cynicism going, here are the other well-timed headlines today:

And love this headline: Rick Santorum, WMD Hunter, from Urukunet...

By the way, the FBI swooped into Miami with a SWAT team, a blow torch, and all the bells and whistles to grab a bunch of cranks sleeping in a warehouse and practicing karate. Let's review, from the AP story:

"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.

And of course, what better place for Ashcroft publicity hound alumnus Robert Mueller of the F-B-I than Larry King Live!

FBI Director Robert Mueller, questioned about the case during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," said he couldn't offer many details because "it's an ongoing operation."

Then there's this:

Managers of the Sears Tower, the nation's tallest building, said in a statement that they speak regularly with the FBI and local law enforcement about terror threats and that Thursday "was no exception."

"Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions," the statement said.

And now, let's get a look at who these supposed "terrorists" are:

Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their apparently militaristic group.

The residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men, who appeared to be in their teens or 20s, had lived in the area about a year.

The men slept in the warehouse, said Tashawn Rose, 29. "They would come out late at night and exercise. It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

She talked to one of the men about a month ago: "They seemed brainwashed. They said they had given their lives to Allah."

Rose said the men tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class. "It was weird," she said.

(AP) A metal door is seen after authorities used a blowtorch to enter, Thursday, Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group had young children with them sometimes. Sometimes, he added, the men "would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans."

Yeah, Karl Rove. I'm quaking. I mean, they're wearing turbans.

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posted by JReid @ 7:03 AM  
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Ghana beats U.S. in World Cup closer
The U.S. is out -- beaten by Ghana (go Africa!) And they deserve to be. They played terribly throughout. And yes, I know the world is mad happy to see us go.

Tags: world-cup-2006, world cup
posted by JReid @ 12:44 PM  
Abramoff report released
McCain's committee issues its Abramoff rap sheet. HT to TPM Muckraker.

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posted by JReid @ 12:21 PM  
Quick take headlines: Nuke 'em Thursday
Here's an idea: throw a missile or two at North Korea (or at least threaten to). And this from two former Clinton defense officials...

Damned lemons...

Right wingers will belief anything: Ladies and gentlemen, we have found Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Just you wait until we hear the truth from the other Defense Department. I mean they have to be there. Fox News and the Corner say they are...

Consistency: Pat Roberts' lips continue to reside safely on George W. Bush's backside. In other words, there will be no probe into the misuse of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq.

Chuck Hagel continues to speak the truth.

How do you make 12,600 super-rich people very happy?

Kentucky bans web-sites that criticize the governor. You're not listening, are you, Jeb?

And mom, why are the liberals fighting? Deocon rag TNR goes after Kos, Kos spanks TNR's resident Joe Lieberman Peter Beinart with a helpful side swipe by TWN... it's all so brutal and so ugly...

Tags: News, News and politics
posted by JReid @ 11:46 AM  
The Hill
So what's the GOP-controlled Congress up to these days?

Killing a vote on renewal of the Voting Rights Act:
House leaders abruptly canceled a vote to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act yesterday after rank-and-file Republicans revolted over provisions that require bilingual ballots in many places and continued federal oversight of voting practices in Southern states.

The intensity of the complaints, raised in a closed meeting of GOP lawmakers, surprised Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and his lieutenants, who thought the path was clear to renew the act's key provisions for 25 years. The act is widely considered a civil rights landmark that helped thousands of African Americans gain access to the ballot box. Its renewal seemed assured when House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders embraced it in a May 2 kickoff on the Capitol steps.

But many Southerners feel the law has achieved its purpose and become more nuisance than necessity in several respects. They have aired those arguments for years, but yesterday they got a boost from Republicans scattered throughout the nation who are increasingly raising a different concern: They insist that immigrants learn and use English.

Hastert's office said the Republican leadership "is committed to passing the Voting Rights Act legislation as soon as possible." Several House members, acknowledging that the GOP leadership had been caught flat-footed by the intraparty ruckus, said it was unclear whether the issue will be revisited before the week-long Independence Day recess.
...enriching themselves and carousing with lobbyists...
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made a $2 million profit last year on the sale of land 5 1/2 miles from a highway project that he helped to finance with targeted federal funds.

A Republican House member from California, meanwhile, received nearly double what he paid for a four-acre parcel near an Air Force base after securing $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles away. And another California GOP congressman obtained funding in last year's highway bill for street improvements near a planned residential and commercial development that he co-owns.

In all three cases, Hastert and Reps. Ken Calvert and Gary Miller say that they were securing funds their home districts wanted badly, and that in no way did the earmarks have any impact on the land values of their investments. But for watchdog groups, the cases have opened a fresh avenue for investigation and a new wrinkle in the ongoing controversy over earmarks -- home-district projects funded through narrowly written legislative language.

For more than a year, the congressional corruption scandal triggered by former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has focused attention on earmarks secured by lawmakers on lobbyists' and government contractors' behalf. Now watchdog groups are combing through lawmakers' land holdings and legislative activities, searching for earmarks that may have boosted the value of those investments.

"The sound bites from politicians have always been that they're doing what's best for their districts, but we're starting to see a pattern that looks like they might be doing what's best for their pocketbooks," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
...raising their own pay, while killing an increase in the pitiful $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage ... (by the way, nice to see the National Association of Manufacturers blogging for The Hill.)

...and preparing to pass a law that will kill the estate tax for about 12,600 of the richest Americans -- rich folk who, more than likely, will wind up donating some of their stored up loot, to them.

Nice work if you can get it.

Tags: Politics, Corruption, , Politics, Republicans
posted by JReid @ 7:19 AM  
Give us your tired, your poor, your old ... hell, give us anyone you've got
The Army raises the enlistment age again. Yeah, all those right wingers signing up in droves is really kicking up the troop numbers ... oh, right ... right wingers don't join the military.

Tags: , Politics, Iraq, War on Terror, War
posted by JReid @ 7:16 AM  
From the desk of: AT&T
My former phone company says, silly customer, your personal data may seem personal, but in fact, it really belongs to the corporation. Everything belongs to the corporation. Starting on Friday, the following privacy policy will be in place (I finally completed my extrication from the company this week, thank God...):

The new policy says that AT&T -- not customers -- owns customers' confidential info and can use it "to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

The policy also indicates that AT&T will track the viewing habits of customers of its new video service -- something that cable and satellite providers are prohibited from doing.

Moreover, AT&T (formerly known as SBC) is requiring customers to agree to its updated privacy policy as a condition for service -- a new move that legal experts say will reduce customers' recourse for any future data sharing with government authorities or others.

The company's policy overhaul follows recent reports that AT&T was one of several leading telecom providers that allowed the National Security Agency warrantless access to its voice and data networks as part of the Bush administration's war on terror.

"They're obviously trying to avoid a hornet's nest of consumer-protection lawsuits," said Chris Hoofnagle, a San Francisco privacy consultant and former senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"They've written this new policy so broadly that they've given themselves maximum flexibility when it comes to disclosing customers' records," he said.

AT&T is being sued by San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation for allegedly allowing the NSA to tap into the company's data network, providing warrantless access to customers' e-mails and Web browsing.

AT&T is also believed to have participated in President Bush's acknowledged domestic spying program, in which the NSA was given warrantless access to U.S. citizens' phone calls.

AT&T said in a statement last month that it "has a long history of vigorously protecting customer privacy" and that "our customers expect, deserve and receive nothing less than our fullest commitment to their privacy."

But the company also asserted that it has "an obligation to assist law enforcement and other government agencies responsible for protecting the public welfare, whether it be an individual or the security interests of the entire nation."

Under its former privacy policy, introduced in September 2004, AT&T said it might use customer's data "to respond to subpoenas, court orders or other legal process, to the extent required and/or permitted by law."

The new version, which is specifically for Internet and video customers, is much more explicit about the company's right to cooperate with government agencies in any security-related matters -- and AT&T's belief that customers' data belongs to the company, not customers.

"While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T," the new policy declares. "As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others, or respond to legal process."

It says the company "may disclose your information in response to subpoenas, court orders, or other legal process," omitting the earlier language about such processes being "required and/or permitted by law."

The new policy states that AT&T "may also use your information in order to investigate, prevent or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud (or) situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person" -- conditions that would appear to embrace any terror-related circumstance.
Thanks for sharing, AT&T. And goodbye.

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Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, , surveillance, spying, Privacy, eavesdropping

posted by JReid @ 6:32 AM  
Pay hike for Congress? Yes. Minimum wage bump for the little guy? Not so much
Let me see if I understand this. Congress needs a pay hike to account for cost of living increases and to reduce the temptation to get hookers from lobbyists, but the working poor don't merit a couple more dollars an hour tacked onto the minimum wage. Ah, compassionate conservatism.

Tags: , Politics, Economics, Poverty, living wage, News, The Issues, Republicans,
posted by JReid @ 6:27 AM  
Everybody hates Yankee
Newsweek's Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey serve up the latest on how much Europeans hate the U.S. and our president.

Tags: Bush, , Politics, News
posted by JReid @ 6:12 AM  
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Bin Laden determined to attack the ... WTF???
Ron Suskind's book promises to be a must-read. Gotta love this story:
We've known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." We've known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward.

What we didn't know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

More on the book from WaPo.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 8:55 AM  
Most of the public gets it, even if the Democrats don't
Josh Marshall blogs on Iraq and public opinion.

Tags: Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 8:45 AM  
Can you read me now?
Salon unearths new details about AT&T's complicity not only in telephone spying by the NSA, but Internet spying, too.

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Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, , surveillance, spying, Privacy, eavesdropping

posted by JReid @ 8:36 AM  
This is your street on suicide bomb
There's a new weapon in the war on terror: advertising.

Tags: , War, News, Terrorism, War on Terror, ,
posted by JReid @ 8:01 AM  
The two Donald Rumsfelds
Says the Guardian:
Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, sat on the board of a company which three years ago sold two light water nuclear reactors to North Korea - a country he now regards as part of the "axis of evil" and which has been targeted for regime change by Washington because of its efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Mr Rumsfeld was a non-executive director of ABB, a European engineering giant based in Zurich, when it won a $200m (£125m) contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors. The current defence secretary sat on the board from 1990 to 2001, earning $190,000 a year. He left to join the Bush administration.

The reactor deal was part of President Bill Clinton's policy of persuading the North Korean regime to positively engage with the west.
The sale of the nuclear technology was a high-profile contract. ABB's then chief executive, Goran Lindahl, visited North Korea in November 1999 to announce ABB's "wide-ranging, long-term cooperation agreement" with the communist government.

The company also opened an office in the country's capital, Pyongyang, and the deal was signed a year later in 2000. Despite this, Mr Rumsfeld's office said that the de fence secretary did not "recall it being brought before the board at any time".

In a statement to the American magazine Newsweek, his spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said that there "was no vote on this". A spokesman for ABB told the Guardian yesterday that "board members were informed about the project which would deliver systems and equipment for light water reactors".

Which Rumsfeld is in charge of our military today? I suppose it's "unknowable."

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:42 AM  
Quick take headlines, June 21
One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers is kidnapped and killed in Baghdad. By the way, did you catch Barry McCaffrey squashing Bush-bot Norah O'Donnell's attempt at Mehlmanism last night on "Hardball," as the retired general contradicted O'Donnell's GOP talking point that "we know that 80 percent of Iraq is safe." "I just don't by that at all," McCaffrey shot back. Good man.

BTW Dick Armitage is waxing real pessimistic-like on Iraq, even telling an Australian interviewer that things are so rotten in Mesopotamia, that the U.S. could be asked by the Iraqi administration (such as it is) to leave.

The U.S. begins its controlled freak-out over North Korea's plans for a missile test. Meanwhile, yet another former diplomat is slamming the Bush admnistration's handling of the diplomacy.

Condi goes to Europe with her husb... the president ... to talk security and Iran with the EU. Unfortunately, what the Europeans want to talk about is secret CIA prisons, rendering, and Gitmo. By the way, did you hear the one about the unpopular U.S. president who went to Europe?

A Guardian commentator states it plainly: liberalism has failed (Tony Blair's variety, particularly so.) Meanwhile, the New York Times falls in love with conservatism all over again.

Former White House aide David Safavian takes the first step toward pardon-dom. Mr. Libby, your turn awaits.

The GOP takes the first step toward martyring President Bush's illegal immigrant amnesty plan.

The horror of the killing of those two American G.I.s is beginning to unfold. The American press remains loathe to go into details. I doubt that's the case overseas. And the Times serves up fodder to soothe the Pajama people's requirement for statements of support for the president's foreign policy from the families of the fallen.

And meanwhile, al-Qaida in Iraq is threatening to kill four Russian hostages after Moscow failed to meet demands to withdraw from Chechnya.

Also, Dan Rather officially gets gone from CBS. And it's not pretty.

Tags: Current Affairs, News, News and politics, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 7:03 AM  
Ugh
Okay, I'm against the Iraq war myself, but honestly, who freaking cares what the man-eating, do-gooder from hell thinks about that, or for that matter, anything else? For the love of God, media, stop feeding her attention, it only encourages her!!!

Tags: jolie, Brad, Angelina Jolie,
posted by JReid @ 6:58 AM  
Way to go, HEAT!
Dwayne Wade, Shaq Diesel and crew step up and bring a championship home for my adopted basketball city (still love ya, Knicks!) I even like Pat Riley this morning. Nice work, guys. And an extra good morning to the haters, like this guy. The HEAT are classy, unselfish, poised, and hard-working. They made it happen. Let's get the parade on.

Tags: , Sports, Basketball,
posted by JReid @ 6:14 AM  
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Obama bin Laden?

I disagree with just about everything -- no, make that EVERYTHING -- AJ Strata says on his blog. But I like him, and have a good time sparring with him on occasion. But this post is just a bridge too far for me. Frankly, it's a let down from someone I consider to be an honest conservative, if in my opinion, a thoroughly Bush-bedazzled and misguided one. Short version: I knew it was only a matter of time before someone on the right made the Obama-Osama connection, with all the implied questions about Barack Obama's underlying loyalty to this country (and apparently, to Christianity itself). I just didn't think it would be this particular blogger. Much more Malkin's or LaShawn Barber's bag, man. (It also doesn't help that Strata is relying on information from a total nut, whose theories are supported by total nuts.)

Saying that the Illinois Senator is somehow "hiding his Muslimness" in order to mislead the American people in a way that's reminiscent of al-Qaida's propensity for treachery is like saying John Kerry doesn't want you to know he's really "part Jew" (which the lunatic fringe of the right -- which I guess is now defined as most of it) did during the 2004 campaign during their "Kerry's not really Irish phase...) Come to think of it, perhaps AJ is just fitting in.

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:57 PM  
Learning to fly
Michelle Malkin thanks President Bush for his help in creating a wonderful new exchange opportunity for aspiring flight students from the House of Saud. And thank him she should. You can never have too many U.S. trained Saudi pilots, especially when you want to fight a never ending global war on terror.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 9:39 PM  
Thou shalt not kill
On the day we learn that two U.S. soldiers were tortured, beheaded and mutilated by members of al-Qaida in Iraq (the group we exported to the country by invading,) we also find out that 19 U.S. Senators would in theory, support amnesty for any Iraqis who contributed to their deaths. The HuffPo has the names of the 19:
By a vote of 79 to 19, the Senate voted to declare that it objects to any such amnesty. By 64 to 34, the lawmakers voted to commend the new Iraqi government for not granting amnesty.

Read the whole article here.

Vote Summary:
Question: On the Amendment (Nelson (FL) Amdt. No. 4265 )
Vote Number: 178 Vote Date: June 20, 2006, 03:27 PM
Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Amendment Agreed to
Amendment Number:S.Amdt. 4265 to S. 2766 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 )
Statement of Purpose: To express the sense of Congress that the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States.
Vote Counts: YEAs 79
NAYs: 19
Not Voting: 2

Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State
Grouped By Vote Position

NAYs ---19
Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagel (R-NE)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thomas (R-WY)
Warner (R-VA)

Not Voting--- 2
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Shelby (R-AL)
I'm surprised that Chuck Hagel and John Warner are among the 19. I like Hagel, and would be interested in hearing his explanation. He and Warner are about the only two Republican Senators (besides when he's ready, Linc Chaffee) who are not unadulturated administration hacks.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 9:28 PM  
Bill O'Reilly: Saddamophile
Is there some kind of medication we can give this nutjob already? Now Bill-o says that if he were in charge of Iraq, he'd run the place like Saddam ... only with felafel ... right, Bill?

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Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 9:21 PM  
A license to steal
Every voting Republican Senator, with the exception of Lincoln Chaffee, votes to reject the creation of a special committee to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in contracting for Iraq and Afghanistan. Raw Story has the hall of shame roll call vote.

BTW, contracting has become the biggest money pit in the federal government under the Bush administration, as Congressman Henry Waxman has ferreted out. According to Randi Rhodes, Waxman plans to publish all of the government's bloated, wasteful federal contracts on a website, including the findings of GAO and other watchdogs regarding the misspending of federal tax dollars, and the fact that Halliburton, for instance, has gorged itself on a 600 percent increase in contract lard since Dubya took office. So greasy is the pork runnoff from Bush's dual wars, but especially Iraq, federal contracting is now the single fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending. Also from Raw:
ASHINGTON -- A new report claims that a "shadow government" of federal contractors has exploded in size over the last five years.

The document, compiled at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and distributed to RAW STORY, indicates that procurement spending increased by over $175 billion between 2000 and 2005, making federal contracts the fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending.

500 reports, audits and investigations by government and independent bodies, including the Government Accountability Office and the Defense Contract Audit Agency, were used to compile the data.

That spending increase -- an astonishing 86 percent -- puts total US federal procurement at $377.5 billion annually. The increase means spending on federal contracts has grown more than two times as fast as other forms of discretionary government spending.

Nearly $800b in contracts questioned

Waxman claims that overcharging -- by mistake or outright fraud -- has been a frequent occurrance. In all, the report identifies 118 federal contracts worth $745.5 billion that have been found by government officials to include significant waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement.

Each of the Bush Administration's three signature initiatives -- Homeland Security, the Iraq war and reconstruction in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina recovery -- has been linked to wasteful contract spending.

Spending is categorized in the report as highly concentrated on a few large contractors, with the five largest contractors receiving over 20 percent of contract dollars awarded in 2005. Last year, the largest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, received contracts worth more than the total combined budgets of the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Congress.
So righties? Looking for government agencies to abolish? Start with the government agency called Halliburton.

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 8:58 PM  
Making Mexamericanada
What is it that the Bush administration and their corporate backers want? Do they want a sovereign, prosperous United States that is home to the largest middle class in the world? A growing, vibrant domestic eocnomy that is the envy of the world, and that produces as much manufactured goods for export as it does financial instruments and consumption demand? Or maybe a secure nation populated by the best educated people on earth? Signs, in all three cases, point to no. Instead, an interesting study requested of the Council on Foreign Relations by the administration gives us clues to what all of this talk of free trade, globalization, illegal alien amensty path to citizenship and foreign investment in American infrastructure is all about.

The study is called "Building a North American Community." You can read it here. But the May 17 press release gives you a nice preview of what the CFR and their counterparts in Mexico and Canada would like to see:
When the leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the United States met in Texas recently they underscored the deep ties and shared principles of the three countries. The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced "Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America," but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.

Pointing to increased competition from the European Union and rising economic powers such as India and China in the eleven years since NAFTA took effect, co-chair Pedro C. Aspe, former Finance Minister of Mexico, said, "We need a vision for North America to address the new challenges." The Task Force establishes a blueprint for a powerhouse North American trading area that allows for the seamless movement of goods, increased labor mobility, and energy security.
"We are asking the leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be bold and adopt a vision of the future that is bigger than, and beyond, the immediate problems of the present," said co-chair John P. Manley, Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. "They could be the architects of a new community of North America, not mere custodians of the status quo."
And how do we achieve these great goals?
At a time of political transition in Canada and Mexico, the Task Force proposes new ideas to cope with continental challenges that should be the focus of debate in those two countries as well as the United States. To ensure a free, secure, just, and prosperous North America, the Task Force proposes a number of specific measures:

Make North America safer:
  • Establish a common security perimeter by 2010.

  • Develop a North American Border Pass with biometric identifiers.

  • Develop a unified border action plan and expand border customs facilities.


Create a single economic space:
  • Adopt a common external tariff.

  • Allow for the seamless movement of goods within North America.

  • Move to full labor mobility between Canada and the U.S.

  • Develop a North American energy strategy that gives greater emphasis to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases -- a regional alternative to Kyoto.

  • Review those sectors of NAFTA that were excluded.

  • Develop and implement a North American regulatory plan that would include "open skies and open roads" and a unified approach for protecting consumers on food, health, and the environment.

  • Expand temporary worker programs and create a "North American preference" for immigration for citizens of North America.


Spread benefits more evenly:
  • Establish a North American Investment Fund to build infrastructure to connect Mexico's poorer regions in the south to the market to the north.

  • Restructure and reform Mexico's public finances.

  • Fully develop Mexican energy resources to make greater use of international technology and capital.


Institutionalize the partnership:
  • Establish a permanent tribunal for trade and investment disputes.

  • Convene an annual North American summit meeting.

  • Establish a Tri-national Competition Commission to develop a common approach to trade remedies.

  • Expand scholarships to study in the three countries and develop a network of Centers for North American Studies.

In other words, abolish the borders, create a unified economic system (can a unified currency, like the Euro, be far off? And wouldn't a sinking, flailing dollar help speed the plow?) and destroy the notion of nations altogether. It's not a one world state, but a one continent one. Looked at in that context, one begins to wonder just who the Azatlaners are, and whether they really are on the opposite side of the conservative movement.

Case in point, the co-chair of this illustrious committee of big thinkers is none other than conservative golden boy William Weld of Massachusetts/New York/wherever he thinks he can get elected. His quote:
Co-chair William F. Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts and U.S. Assistant Attorney General, said, "We are three liberal democracies; we are adjacent; we are already intertwined economically; we have a great deal in common historically; culturally, we have a lot to learn from one another."

Right...

Professional certifications are always considered to be the measurement of skill. Certification programs come in different levels. Some involves in networking, some involves in software development and some in general product skill. Cisco 642-446 CIPT1, 642-456 CIPT2, Cisco 642-873 ARCH and 642-415 UCAD are the high level certifications. They require high level knowledge and skill same as like EMC E20-001 and Juniper JN0-521 certification exam.
posted by JReid @ 7:28 PM  
Definitely ... Definitely Not
The latest CNN horserace poll has bad news ... and good news ... for Hillary ... and really bad news for Jebbie.

Tags: , Politics, , Clinton, HILLARY CLINTON, Politics, Bush, Election 2008, Democrat, , McCain, Politics, Election, Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Clinton, Republican
posted by JReid @ 2:34 PM  
Captured soldiers' bodies found
Damn. Our two missing GIs are dead. From WaPo:
BAGHDAD, July 20--Two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week have been found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to an Iraqi defense official.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, said the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed and that there were traces of torture on their bodies.
Damn, damn, damn. Everyone's prayers I'm sure are with these men's families. Here are their pics. Again, their names were Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker (shown on the left), 25, of Madras, Ore., and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston (0n the right.) May they rest in peace, though clearly, they didn't die in it. And perhaps most tragic of all, I can't figure out what exactly they died for. Not for American "freedom," since our freedom isn't tied to Iraq. Not for American values, as Abu Ghraib clearly showed. Not for American security, either, since, despite what many of our troops -- and many on the right -- still seem to need to believe, Iraq didn't attack us on 9/11, nor could they have launched any manner of war against us, since they had neither WMD nor nukes nor long range missiles with which to deliver either. Apparently, they died fighting to preserve our brand new theocracy on the Tigris. And to prop up the worst foreign policy blunder in 100 years.

Thanks, George W. BTW the U.S. death toll (from hostile activity) is now 2,505. And the Japanese aren't bickering over "cut and run" vs. "stay the course." They're outta there.

Update: Pfc. Menchaca's uncle lashes out:
"The news is going to be heartbreaking for my family," Ken MacKenzie, uncle of Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, told NBC's "Today" show. "Because the U.S. government did not have a plan in place, my nephew has paid for it with his life," he said.
'Nuff said. I guess the righties will now blast him as an unhinged Michael Moore clone who should shut up and stop enjoying his family members necessary death for the global war on terror...

Update 2: The smearing begins. And why not let it start with George W. Bush's favorite bed pillow, John "Kool Aid" Hinderaker...



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Tags: Iraq, , War
posted by JReid @ 9:35 AM  
Deading the Duke rape case?
Is the media helping the defense attorneys in Raleigh-Durham to kill the Duke rape case? Consider the following:

Headline after headline asking various versions of, "has the case collapsed?" ... "should it be dropped?" ... "is the prosecutor a political opportunist?" ... "or even dishonest...?" ... "Should Nifong recuse himself?"... and other versions of "is this hooker a liar?"

A Newsweek writer practically apologizing to the defendants for putting their names and photos on the cover, simply on the basis of defense claims about evidence they have selectively released to a solicitous media? Here is what Susannah Meadows writes in the latest issue of Newsweek. It's combination of defense spin:

The description of the rape in a police affidavit was horrendous. The alleged victim, who has not been publicly identified, was said to have been choked, beaten and kicked, to have been penetrated orally, anally and vaginally over a 30-minute ordeal. But the woman's own statements to police and to medical personnel were contradictory, and the physical evidence does not appear to support her claims or the police affidavit. As required by North Carolina law, Nifong says he has turned over all the evidence in his possession, almost 1,300 pages, to the defense, and this week he is expected to turn over another batch of documents.
... apologias to the defendants:

The media coverage of the case has been enormous. NEWSWEEK put the mug shots of two of the players—Reade Seligmann, 20, and Collin Finnerty, 19—on its cover the week after they were indicted. Some early accounts raised doubts about the guilt of the players, but the story more typically played as a morality tale of pampered jocks gone wild. Lately, as more evidence from police or medical reports have been filed or cited in court documents by defense lawyers, the national and local media have been raising questions about Nifong's conduct of the case and his motivations.
So based on information released by only one side in this case -- namely the side whose job it is to see that this case never goes to trial -- the preponderance of media (Fox, MSNBC, CNN and on and on ...) concludes that there is no case, or that what case there is, is full of holes?

D.A. Nifong hs finally had enough, and responded to Newsweek here. His basic point: the media has been thoroughly spun, and he sees no point in playing around with them anymore.

I hear him. This is Tawana Brawley all over again. The media has decided that the golden boys of Duke cannot possibly be guilty of raping this Black girl. This has so much resonance, given the ugly history and noxiouw brew or race, violence and class surrounding Black women and rape, and the fact that, as attorney Alton Maddox (who was embroiled in the Brawley case back in the late 1980s) said on the radio show this morning, it's impossible to find a single case of a white man convicted of raping a Black woman in America.

This case should go to trial. If the defense, aided by the media, (including every legal analyst on television, from Dan Abrams to Greta Van Susteren) and the online legal community, (plus the assorted bloggersnarks) succeeds in hounding this case out of court, it will be another black mark on this country's twisted legal system.

Update: LaShawn doesn't like Nifong dissing the blogs.

Tags: , Rape, Lacrosse, Race, duke lacrosse, Current Affairs, ,
posted by JReid @ 6:42 AM  
Monday, June 19, 2006
Claim of responsibility
A group tied to the late Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq outfit has claimed responsibility for kidnapping those two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.


The group, called the Mujahedeen Shura Council, also claimed it had kidnapped four Russian diplomats and killed a fifth in Baghdad on June 3.

The message, which could not be authenticated, appeared on an Islamic Web site known for publishing messages from insurgent groups in Iraq. U.S. officials have said they were trying to confirm whether the two soldiers, who disappeared Friday evening following an insurgent attack that also killed a U.S. soldier, were kidnapped.

During the search for the missing Americans, U.S. spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell also said the military killed three suspected insurgents and detained 34 others in fighting that left seven U.S. servicemen wounded.

The Web posting said: "Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahedeen Shura Council kidnapped the two American soldiers near Youssifiya." It did not identify the soldiers.

The Defense Department identified the missing men as Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.
The game is on.

Update: Dan Riehl is posting updates as they come in. My Jawa is down, for some reason, so I'm relying on Dan today!

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Tags: Iraq, , War

posted by JReid @ 10:14 AM  
John Wayne Murtha strikes again
How do I love "Jack" Murtha? Let me count the ways: One "fat back remark..." and one long list of tragic numbers (scroll down to the comments).

Tags: , Iraq, Politics, News, Bush,
posted by JReid @ 9:46 AM  
Muscling Venezuela
The Bush administration is twisting arms south of the border to prevent our LatAm "friends" from backing Venezuela for an open seat on the U.N. Security Council. Doesn't that make it all but certain that Caracas will win?

To be honest, Venezuela has already won the face off with the U.S. in one significant way:
Since the US oil regime is into the privatization of profit as fully as it is into the socialization of risk, their definition of tactical success must be the ability to lift oil from Iraq at pleasure. They can stand the loss of a few lower-class soldiers; Blacks from the urban ghettoes or the sons of Mexican agricultural workers or else the children of unemployed industrial workers in the Midwest. But our plutocracy cannot hide from itself or from anyone else its inability to lift that oil.
And therein lies the key to the defense of the national territory of the Bolivarian Republic.

Whatever else is done to defend Venezuela, and whatever else is done, make sure the gringos get less oil from Venezuela than they formerly did.
And there you go.

Tags: , Americas, Hugo Chavez, Politics, Oil
posted by JReid @ 8:13 AM  
GI's abducted in Iraq's 'triangle of death'
According to the Times UK:


THE US military mounted a huge search over the weekend for two American soldiers apparently abducted by insurgents in an area known as the Triangle of Death last Friday.

Witnesses said that the insurgents staged what appeared to be a well-planned attack that divided the pair from their colleagues so that they could be seized. If so, that would mark a sinister new development in the insurgents’ tactics.

Only one US soldier is known to have been abducted since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and he has not been seen since. If these two are found dead, or the insurgents release a videotape of their fate, it would be a serious blow to the White House, just when the formation of the new Iraqi Government and the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had boosted public support for the war.

The missing GIs were part of a team of about 12 US soldiers equipped with three Humvees who were manning a checkpoint near Yusufiyah, about 50km (30 miles) south of Baghdad, last Friday evening.

Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer, told the Associated Press news agency that the team were fired on from palm groves along the road. Some of the soldiers went after the assailants in two of the Humvees. Six masked gunmen then attacked the third Humvee, killing the driver. After radio communications went dead, an emergency team arrived at the checkpoint within minutes to find one soldier dead and two others missing. Witnesses said that the gunmen had driven the two soldiers away in cars.

The rescue operation began almost immediately. Civilian traffic was stopped and the area cordoned off. All weekend helicopters scoured the area from the air. Divers searched the River Euphrates and irrigation canals. Soldiers conducted house-to-house searches but found no trace of the soldiers.

The outlook appeared grim. The Triangle of Death, a pastoral land of date and orange groves between the Tigris and Euphrates, has been a bastion of al-Qaeda militants for more than two years. It has been afflicted by roadside murders and kidnappings since the autumn of 2003. Many Shia families have fled their homes after coming under attack from Sunni extremists. Religious pilgrims heading to the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala have often been ambushed. In turn Shia militias have taken out revenge on the Sunni population of the region.

But repeated drives by the US military to impose order have failed to tame the triangle, allowing some of its communities to become havens for insurgents. Tony Snow, a White House spokesman, gave a sober assessment of the situation yesterday. “We’re simply trying to find them,” he said. “We hope they’re alive.” The insurgents were trying to use the capture of the US servicemen to “ drive a wedge between American public opinion . . . It’s important to remember that we’re involved in a war in Iraq . . . the insurgents are going to do everything they can.”

One of the soldiers is from Houston. The other is from Oregon. The two have been identified as Army Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25.

Update: A $100,000 reward is being offered for information on the missing G.I.s.

Tags: Iraq, , War
posted by JReid @ 6:03 AM  
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Goodbye, Internet: It's later than you think
The corporate takeover of the Internet isn't coming, it's already here. And regretfully, the Congressional Black Caucus isn't barring the door, much of the Caucus is opening the windows and the cellar door, too. This piece in The Black Commentator says it better than I could. Read it, and weep.
The independence of black American leadership is under assault by a tsunami of cash. Unprecedented levels of corporate underwriting are subverting black civic organizations. Tens of millions in faith-based federal grants have been deployed to suborn black clergy. Rivers of charitable and campaign contributions have been invested in subduing or silencing the voices of African America elected officials. Predictably, the onslaught is taking its toll.

Last week the House of Representatives passed the COPE Act, which will turn the free and open Information Superhighway into a corporate toll road, and lift regulations that force cable and telephone companies to serve poor and minority areas. Only 46% of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against it. But in a stunning repudiation of its own historic claims to be the “conscience of the congress” and the authentic voice of African America in national affairs, a mere 13 out of 40 voting CBC members in the House summoned the courage to buck the tide of corporate cash and stand up for their constituents. (The two delegates from Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot vote on the House floor.) Two-thirds of the Caucus capitulated to corporate power, a more shameful showing than Democratic members as a whole. As “conscience of the congress,” the Congressional Black Caucus is pretty much over.

To comprehend the depths of this betrayal we must understand that there are absolutely no economic development cases which can be made with a straight face for turning the free Internet into a corporate toll road, or for allowing cable and phone companies to deny premium broadband service to all but the wealthiest customers.

The dirty little secret the telecommunications companies will never tell us is that despite the incessant prattle about being the most technologically advanced nation on the planet, the US ranks 16th, according to the International Telecommunications Union, in the percentage of its citizens provided with some form of broadband Internet access. When we can get that access at all, broadband Internet in the US is the slowest and most expensive in the developed world, well behind Japan, South Korea, and all of Western Europe. Bruce Kushnick of www.teletruth.org offers this useful comparison between proposed broadband services in the US and those in South Korea and Japan.

The top broadband speed available to home and business consumers in the US is only 1.5 megabits per second, and most customers pay about $30 per month for that. In France customers get 25 megabits per second for less than a third the price. Singapore is about to offer its citizens 1000 megabits per second. American telcos, on the other hand, say they cannot give us more than 6 megabits per second without the end of network neutrality as a financial incentive.

The claims of cable and telecommunications monopolies that deregulating them and handing the keys of the Internet over to them will erase the digital divide inside the US, provide universal access and keep us competitive with the rest of the world, are simply lies. US consumers have already paid AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, BellSouth, Qwest and the rest of their telecom and cable cousins hundreds of billions in corporate tax breaks and excess fees – the highest phone, cable and Internet charges in the world – to provide universal high-speed access which we have never received. ...

You simply must read the full article to get all of the links and charts on this. It's stunning, and scary.

BC has been riding the issue of net neutrality, and why it is, among other things, a Black issue. And they have named names in terms of just who is selling out ordinary Americans on the vital question of who will control the Internet. And they've done so, not without resistance:
On April 27, BC published two stories about CBC member Bobby Rush's sponsorship of this year's noxious telco legislation. We explained how the Rush-Barton Act, also called the COPE Act or HR 5252, would kill off public access TV, strip towns and cities of the right to force cable monopolies to serve blacker and poorer areas in return for being able to do business in the wealthier parts of town, and allow companies to charge web sites like this one for allowing content or email to reach users. We called attention to the acceptance of a million dollar donation by a tentacle of AT&T to a not for profit organization associated with the congressman. All this earned us a call that morning from a Chicago-based defender of the congressman.

BC was making a big mistake, the caller told us, by leading with the issue of network neutrality. Our deeply misguided caller accused us of playing into the hands of white media activists. Network neutrality, she said again and again in the course of an hour long conversation, was just not "our issue.”

But when a black member of congress accepts a million dollar telco donation for a supposed community-based project in his district, and turns up as co-sponsor of telco legislation to redline and disempower black communities nationwide, along with suppressing everybody’s freedom of access to the Internet, it is indeed a black issue. When AT&T rents black ministers and black Republican sock puppets like the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and even recruits the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation to its team, network neutrality has very definitely become a black issue.

The incongruity of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation finding itself in bed with AT&T, the American Conservative Union and the National Association of Manufacturers is downright striking when you look at who serves on the NCBCP Board of Directors. To start with, there’s Dr. Howard Dean, whose campaign for president would have been impossible without a free and open Internet. There are luminaries like Dr. Joseph Lowery and Dr. Ron Walters of the African American Leadership Institute. We counted at least a dozen representatives of labor unions, including an assistant to AFL-CIO president John Sweeny, the UAW and UFCW, AFCSME, SEIU, and both national teachers unions and the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Still think this isn't serious? Here's more:
The congressman, his donors, and their front organization, Hands Off the Internet claim that handing over the Internet to private corporations and eliminating network neutrality will lower the cost and improve the quality of Internet service for everybody. This is nothing short of an outright lie. According to Stanford University's Dr. Lawrence Lessig in a recent interview with Robert McChesney, broadband Internet access in France, Japan and South Korea and several other countries is cheaper, faster and more widely available than in the U.S. In every case, they do this by making the provision of service to everyone law and public policy, not leaving it up to “the market” or the whims of private corporations.

The whole “free competition” and “leaving it up to the market” argument flies in the face of how AT&T and other telco and cable monopolies came into existence and how they actually conduct their business. As the Univeristy of Illinois's Dr. Robert McChesney explained recently on Democracy Now:

”...the phone companies and the cable companies, which provide Internet access to 98% of Americans and almost all businesses, are viewing – you know, they are companies that were set up by the government. They're not free market companies. Their entire business model has been based on getting monopoly license franchises from the government for phone and cable service and then using it to make a lot of money. And they’re using their political leverage now to try to write a law basically which lets them control the Internet...”

”...what they want to do desperately is be in a situation where they can rank order websites. And websites that come through the fastest to us, to the users of the Internet, (will be) ...the ones that pay them money or the ones they own. And websites that don't pay them come through slower, much harder to get, or in some cases, they’ll have the power to take them off the Internet altogether.”

”...there’s no technological justification for this. There’s no economic justification. It's pure corrupt crony capitalism. They're basically using their political leverage to change this so they get a huge new revenue stream, and it gives them an inordinate amount of power over the Internet.”

In the interview, McChesney also discusses the impact of cable and Internet service to minority communities and how this will be affected by Rep. Rush's legislation.
”...one of the core fundamental aspects of telecommunications policies historically... was the requirement that the phone companies, if they were going to get these monopoly licenses to make a pile of money, they had to serve the entire community. They couldn't discriminate against neighborhoods, against cities. They had to give universal access...they hate that. They basically want to serve just wealthy and middle class communities and skip poor and rural communities. And they’re trying to write it into the law that they can basically... redline, that they can be discriminatory about which communities they offer their best services to and only offer in the most lucrative communities.

Congressman Rush concludes his defense by observing that “The real conflict here is America's unwillingness to invest much needed capital in (oppressed) communities like Englewood.” His legislation though, allows telcos to deny our communities investment in their own communications infrastructure. Cheap, ubiquitous and comprehensive broadband access is as necessary to the economic well-being of our community as good streets.

Rush's defense was essentially the same one used by Rep. Kendrick Meek when he was on the radio show earlier this week. I like Kendrick Meek, and the other two Florida Congresspeople, but all three are dead wrong on this issue. Net neutrality is vital, not just to Black communities, but to everyone who appreciates a free and open Internet. If there is still some way to stop COPE, we in the blogosphere, and those who support us, need to try and find a way to do so.

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posted by JReid @ 8:25 AM  
Friday, June 16, 2006
Why Democrats should vote against the sham House resolution, even if they get Rove'd for it
Make no mistake, the House Democrats are being set up. The sham debate and vote on a non-binding resolution declaring Iraq to be part of the war on terror, and resolving to win said war, is meant fr the sole purpose of making Republicans look resolute and Democrats look weak going into the November elections. Republicans know that they have no issues going for them in November, and so they are pulling out the old Swiftie playbook: resolve to win a war they themselves have failed mightily to weigh in on or oversee for three years, and then dare the Democrats to vote against their "call for total victory." Well, there are three reasons Democrats should refuse to participate in this sham (which the Defense Department shamefully entered into as a political player yesterday, with that politicized memo they attempted to later withdraw) -- and why they should do so even if Republicans do as they always do: use those "no" votes to try and question the patriotism of Democrats in November.

1. Iraq is not now, nor has it ever been, the central front in the war on terror. It is the location of a U.S. led war to change a regime accused, not of terrorism, but of supposed nuclear and wmd proliferation. Currently, it is a modern day Vietnam -- where insurgents, aided (in many cases by unwanted) foreign fighters who use both terrorism and asymetrical warfare to fight what they see as an unjust occupation of their country by a foreign power. What we're fighting in Iraq isn't terrorism, it's insurgency. In fact, Iraq would not be the haven for the terrorists who are there now among the insurgents, had we not needlessly invaded the country in 2003. Bush wanted a dragon to fight, so that he and his team could implement their plan to launch the first resource war of the 21st century, as former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said to us on the radio show yesterday. So they invaded Iraq, created Zarqawi, and then manipulated an intellectually lazy American public into going along with their absurd conflation of Iraq with 9/11. Democrats should not codify the GOP Iraq-terror lie by voting for its enshrinement into a resolution of the House.

2. Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 terror attacks on America. Codifying that Rovian conflation in a useless, non-binding resolution won't make it so, but it will ratify the administration's three years of word and mind games. Democrats should refuse to go along.

3. Most experts believe that we are not winning the war on terror. And while a House bill resolving to do so at some point is a lovely idea, it won't do a single, solitary thing to turn that sad fact around. If Congress wants to do something substantive to win the war against radical Islamist terror, they should try acting like a co-equal branch of government, man up and start exercising oversight over the renegade bunch in the White House. Get control of the spending and then contracting corruption and then figure out how to better use those currently wasted resources to implement real foreign and anti-terrorism policy, domestic security, and intelligent law enforcement.

Democrats intrinsically know these things to be true. They should have the strength and integrity to stand up and say so, and to say no to the sycophants across the aisle who are wasting entire days of debate finding ways to craft language sufficiently obsequious to the president to make them look like the glowing court of a rarified war president (while still figuring out how not to campaign with said war president in the fall.)

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Tags: Iraq, Congress, , Republicans, Politics, Bush,
posted by JReid @ 11:05 AM  
The Swiftboat-Rathergate patrol
Right wing bloggers are licking their chops at the prospect of Dan Rathering TIME Magazine over the Haditha story. As a back-up, some of the chickenhawk defense patrol are preparing to Swiftboat John Murtha, just in case. Murtha apparently could be called as a witness if and when a Haditha case goes to trial.

I, for one, hope that the Haditha story does turn out to be mistaken (and the righties have raised legitimate questions about the early reporting of the incident at Haditha, and no less a light than Paul Hackett has made a compelling case that Kilo Company took small arms fire after the IED blast that killed Lance Corporal Miguel Terrazas, and of course, it is entirely possible that the death scene was faked to implicate the Marines.) In fact, I hope that no more members of the United States military wind up in prison (and crushing legal debt) for carrying out orders by officers who will themselves never face justice, or even tough scrutiny, for their orders, or civilian defense leaders whose sick affection for torture, secret detentions and disturbed interrogation methods has led to this war's disturbing decline into depravity and Saddam-worthy cruelty. Prosecute the civilians in the Pentagon first, and then we'll talk.

That said, I am more than sick of the right wing blogosphere and its chickenhawk radio companions' zeal to "take down" members of the supposedly liberal mainstream media for having the temerity to every so often do actual reporting, rather than Patriotically Parroting the Talking Points of Barron von Rumsfeld and the Dear Leader. Get off it, righties. You aren't at war with the media. They are, in large part, more than willing to do the president's bidding. You are at war with your own consciences, for supporting a man so clearly inadequate for the job as president that he makes a mockery of the office, and for supporting a war so clearly ruinous to the foreign policy and good name of the United States that it makes a mockery of war. Fight that battle first, and then we'll talk.

Tags: Military, Iraq, , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:45 AM  
Debating Iran
Can Iran become the dominant player in the Middle East? (That, and who will win the spat over whether the Persian Gulf is the Arabian Gulf). The WaPo puts it to a debate:

Foreign Policy magazine editor Moisés Naím says Iran is too poor and unstable to project power.
Despite record-high oil revenues, its economy is frail and unable to create the jobs the country needs. Iran is fraught with social tensions and its politics are fractious and polarized. Its domestic problems will be important constraints to its international influence.

Iran's economy has been in the tank and shows no signs of imminent recovery -- this, despite a surge in oil prices that generate a flood of revenues for the government. [Oil provides some 80% of export earnings and around 40-50% of government revenue.] Inflation is running at around 14%, and official unemployment is 15% even though among its huge, young population it is far higher. Iran's economy is smaller than that of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, like them, it does not create enough jobs for all the young workers that each year enter the labor force. Chronic unemployment is an important and growing problem. Combine this economic frailty with a youth bulge -- 70 percent of the population is under 30 --and the potential for internal instability becomes apparent.
Moroccan newspaper publisher Jamai Aboubakr says a more powerful Iran will mean an even less stable region. Still, he sees reason to hope for a more liberal Iran in the future, if the vexing question of Israel and Palestine could be solved:
By a "dominant" Iran I guess we mean "militarily superior", which can only mean nuclearized since a nuclear Israel is in the region. Consequently, threatened countries will also strive to acquire the nuclear weapon. Countries with Shiite majorities run the risk of "Iraqisation". Hezbollah and Hamas would harden their position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making a peaceful settlement even more unlikely. Hence, less safety and stability.

This scenario, however, is deterministic and flawed. Deterministic because it is far from certain that religious and sectarian sentiments would prevail over national and ethnic ones. Flawed because it does not account for the internal dynamics of Iranian politics. If it is true that conservatives hold the levers of power in the country and have managed so far to quash the reformist movement in the political arena, that does not mean that the Iranian society's thirst for liberal reforms has disappeared. The persistence of a pro-reform current in Iran could still tone down the conservatives' hardline stance on foreign policy.

Alas, it could also produce the opposite effect, which we are already witnessing. Using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a pretext to label reformists as traitors -- soft on Israel and the US -- Iran silences them. This brings us to a major element of Iranian foreign policy: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a geo-strategic resource. A recent Zogby International poll found that 60% of respondents in Arab countries are in favor of Iran developing nuclear weapons. In the same poll, Israel and the US are perceived to be the region's biggest threats. Iran's leadership is playing to this audience.
Venezuelan journalist Ibsen Martinez puts things the most succinctly:
Venezuela -- Thomas L Friedman recently argued that "the price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions." It's his "First Law of Petropolitics." Indeed, rising oil prices work as a psychotropic drug on the minds of petro-state leaders. Here's a corollary to Friedman's First Law: the price of oil and anti-American bullyism move in the same direction.

Iran's ambivalence over time - "now we say nothing will keep us from a nuclear program," "now we think we might give the EU's proposals a chance," etc. is proof at hand. Venezuela's Hugo Chávez would not say the things he keeps saying about US foreign policy if the price of oil was $20 instead of $68 a barrel. Sadly, we cannot expect anything but high prices in the foreseeable future, and therefore even more frightening, defiant rhetoric is in store.
Ya think fears throughout the oil-bearing world that the U.S. is on a crusade to co-opt their natural resources for the benefit of U.S.-based multinationals is fueling anti-Americanism, violence and terrorism? Not to mention the quest for a nuclear deterrent? Ya think???

You can read the other Post analysts' takes on Iran here.

Tags: , , , Current Affairs
posted by JReid @ 8:24 AM  
Dems strip Jefferson
of his committee seat. Will Pelosi buy off the Black Caucus with a House Select Committee on Intelligence promotion for Alcee Hastings? I happen to really like Rep. Hastings -- he is one of the most articulate, amiable people I've come across in public life. But he should get the promotion to ranking member or chair (if the Democrats win the House in November) based on his capabilities and experience, not as some sort of cheap buy-off of Black House members (and voters) by La Femme Pelosi. Message to Pelosi: if this is true -- and that's a big if, given that this story is coming from the right wing Moonies at the Washington Times -- Black folk don't need to be bought off, and if you want to sacrifice Mr. Jefferson in order to preserve the Party's 2006 message -- such as it is -- do so without the stunts.

Tags: , Corruption, Nancy Pelosi, Politics
posted by JReid @ 8:01 AM  
The cold-hearted SOBs at 1600 PA
First, George W. makes jokes about a blind reporter during a press conference about the WAR ... that's war, Mr. President ... then his press secretary, the newly crowned King of Snark, Tony Snow, says the 2,500th death of a U.S. serviceman in Iraq is "just a number." Nice. I wonder if that nugget was in the Pentagon talking points issued to members of Congress for their great useless partisan floor fight yesterday.

Tags: Iraq, News, News and politics, , , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:52 AM  
Who's afraid of Hillary Clinton?
Apparently, everybody. Meanwhile, Tobacco explores the reasons why Hillary might be reluctant to oppose the Iraq war...

Tags: , Politics, Democrats, Hillary, 2008, Republicans, Fox News
posted by JReid @ 7:23 AM  
Here's to you, Mr. Robinson
I could say something, but WaPo's Eugene Robinson has so thouroughly, damned well said it all, that I'll just reprint as much of his column today as I can without just posting the whole damned thing and running afowl of Mother:
Stay the Course? What Course?

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, June 16, 2006; A25

Fresh from his triumphal visit to Baghdad -- a place so dangerous he had to sneak in without even telling the Iraqi prime minister -- George W. Bush is full of new resolve to stay the course in his open-ended "global war on terror." That leaves the rest of us to wonder, in sadness and frustration, just what that course might be and where on earth it can possibly lead.

This is a "war" in which three men held for years without due process at the Guantanamo Bay prison kill themselves by hanging, and their jailers are so unnerved and self-absorbed that they see the suicides as an attack. Rear Adm. Harry Harris's all-about-me lament -- "I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us" -- was worthy of delivery from Oprah's couch.

Bush claimed at his news conference the other day that he'd "like to close Guantanamo" if only the people being held there weren't so "darn dangerous." These bad people, in other words, are forcing him to hold them indefinitely under conditions that mock international norms. But if the inmates are indeed beyond redemption, why order them to be hog-tied and force-fed when they go on hunger strikes? Why not just let them starve? Why freak out when three of the evildoers hang themselves? Why not pass out rope and tell the rest to bring it on?

This is a "war" in which the United States drops two 500-pound bombs with the express intent of assassinating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group that wouldn't have existed if Bush hadn't decided to invade. But when the world learns that Zarqawi briefly survived the bombing, and rumors circulate that U.S. forces shot him dead, officials rush to release an autopsy report showing that the butcher with a $25 million bounty on his head died from blast injuries. An American medic, we are told, was about to administer first aid when Zarqawi mumbled something unintelligible and expired.

Why do your best to kill an enemy leader -- a bad, bad man, the worst of the worst -- and then try to revive him? Didn't you want him dead?

In this amorphous, open-ended "war" that we're spending precious lives and billions of dollars to wage, the rules of engagement seem to be shoot first and apologize later.

We're sorry if U.S. Marines massacred 24 civilians in Haditha. We're even more sorry than we were after U.S. military personnel tortured and humiliated those prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Bush's stalwart ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, is sorry if London police, conducting an anti-terrorist raid this month, shot and wounded an innocent man whose only "crime" was to come downstairs in his underwear to see who was breaking into his house. But not as sorry as Blair was after the London subway bombings, when commandos shot dead an innocent Brazilian electrician whom they mistook for a possible, potential, just-might-be terrorist.

Nobody's sorry, though, about secret CIA prisons or extralegal detention or interrogation by brutal "waterboarding" or an Orwellian blanket of domestic surveillance. After all, we're at "war."

The military announced yesterday that the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq has reached 2,500, another of those awful, round-number milestones. It is widely expected that the new Iraqi government will consider an amnesty for some of the insurgents who killed some of those American servicemen and women -- drawing a distinction between roadside bombs placed by Sunni Muslims in "resistance" to the U.S. occupation and those placed by foreign al-Qaeda jihadists. If this happens, we'll have taught the Iraqis well. They'll be saying "pardon me" just like their American tutors. ...
The rest is here. You put your foot in it, Mr. Robinson.

Tags: Bush, Iraq, , Politics, Media, Current Affairs, News and politics
posted by JReid @ 6:27 AM  
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Red State agonistes over Coulter
RedState takes a rather principled stand on Ann Coulter ... well, some of them, anyway.

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Tags: , Politics, Bush, Coulter, Media, conservative, GOP,

posted by JReid @ 11:17 AM  
Quick take headlines: terror-fying
The Center For American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine release the results of a study by scores of terrorism expert. Their grade for the War on Terror? F. Read the full report here or here.

The steward of Iraq, Mr. al-Maliki, starts his own little war on terror (which doesn't include getting rid of the American overlord's 130,000 troops.) Maliki's first gambit: talk to the insurgents, and pardon those whom he says are simply fighting the foreign occupation.

And that treasure trove of documents found in the Zarqawi rubble? It included indications that al-Qaida in Iraq wanted to start a war between the U.S. and Iran, something they seem to share with Bill Kristol and John Bolton.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. troops killed by hostile action in Iraq hits 2,500.

Also from Bloomberg, since the EU and U.S. made their new offer, Iran is apparently cooperating even less with the U.N. ...

Ain't that America: A federal judge in Brooklyn says the Bush administration does have the authority to "detain noncitizens on the basis of religion, race or national origin, and to hold them indefinitely without explanation."

President Bush apologizes to former Miami Herald (and now L.A. Times) reporter Peter Wallsten for remarking on his dark glasses. Wallsten is legally blind...

Tags: , Politics, Iran, Iraq
posted by JReid @ 10:26 AM  
The 'I love Keith Olbermann' reader
The "Countdown" host is forced to apologize responding to nasty emails in kind:
He was forced to apologize yesterday after more of his E-mails found their way to my inbox and exposed the host of MSNBC's "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" as insulting and frequently obscene in an acrimonious exchange with two viewers who taunted him.

Olbermann's antagonists, who asked not to be named, repeatedly claimed in their June 8 E-mails that dead Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was Olbermann's "hero," prompting the television star to advise: "Hey, save the oxygen for somebody whose brain can use it. Kill yourself."

After I forwarded that and other E-mails to an MSNBC exec, Olbermann wrote: "I apologize to anyone who might take offense at my part of this correspondence. It goes without saying that I should not have replied to these abusive and hateful E-mails, but I wonder how many of us could receive literally hundreds of them questioning our patriotism, religion and ethnic origin, without succumbing to the natural wish to confront such hate?"

Here are some examples of Olbermann "confronting hate":

"Given how far you are from knowing your a- from your elbow about my industry, you couldn't be stupider, wronger, or dumber ..."

"Go - your mother."

"You 'Americans' still watching that evil f- O'Reilly?"
Those were good ones, Keith! Having been the recipient of much the same kind of venom from right wing wackos when I was writing a freelance newspaper column, I can understand the temptation to shoot back. And I don't fault Keith for doing so. Publishing the emails was a masturbatory exercise for Lloyd Grove, I'm sure. And I hope he enjoyed it thoroughly.

Grove had earlier put Olbermann on front street for dissing husky-voiced commentatrix Rita Cosby in an email to a fan. Well I say GO KETH!! And damn you, Lloyd Grove!

(Keith Olbermann ... blue meanie? Rita Cosby ... dumber than a sack of rocks? We report, you decide. Pics courtesy of Flickr)

Tags: , CountDown, MSNBC, Iraq, Bill O'Reilly, Rita Cosby
posted by JReid @ 9:33 AM  
Memo to the media
A one percentage point increase in the president's approval ratings, when the margin of error is 4 percentage points, is not a "bump" -- not even a "baby bump." In the reality-based world of statistical analysis, it's called "no change."

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Tags: Bush, , Politics,
posted by JReid @ 7:55 AM  
Today, they debate Iraq
...but tomorrow, it's back to gay marriage and flag burning. WaPo, you're on:

Nearly four years after it authorized the use of force in Iraq, the House today will embark on its first extended debate on the war, with Republican leaders daring Democrats to vote against a nonbinding resolution to hold firm on Iraq and the war on terrorism.

In the wake of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death and President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, Republican leaders are moving quickly to capitalize on good news and trying to force Democrats on the defensive. Bush continued his own campaign with a morning news conference and a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, while House leaders strategized on today's 10-hour debate.

A memo from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) urged House Republican members Tuesday to make the debate "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats." After Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was booed this week by liberal activists for her failure to resolutely oppose the war, Republicans hope to present a united front that highlights the fractures in the Democratic Party.

"As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democratic Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world," Boehner wrote.

But the day-long debate will also give voice to some GOP lawmakers' misgivings about Bush administration policy -- and years of congressional support for it -- in an election year in which Iraq will be a central issue. The news of recent days has buoyed Republican spirits, but the party is still saddled with a war that remains deeply unpopular and is imperiling its continued control of Congress. Some House Republicans have complained that their party has taken flight from its responsibility to debate and oversee administration policy.

"I can't help but feel through eyes of a combat-wounded Marine in Vietnam, if someone was shot, you tried to save his life. . . . While you were in combat, you had a sense of urgency to end the slaughter, and around here we don't have that sense of urgency," said Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest (Md.), a usually soft-spoken Republican who has urged his leaders to challenge the White House on Iraq. "To me, the administration does not act like there's a war going on. The Congress certainly doesn't act like there's a war going on. If you're raising money to keep the majority, if you're thinking about gay marriage, if you're doing all this other peripheral stuff, what does that say to the guy who's about ready to drive over a land mine?"
It's gonna be ugly, ugly, ugly. RINF summarizes Boehner's missive in three points:
1. Exploit 9/11. The two page memo mentions 9/11 seven times. It describes debating Iraq in the context of 9/11 as "imperative."

2. Attack opponents ad hominem. The memo describes those who opposes President Bush’s policies in Iraq as "sheepish," "weak," and "prone to waver endlessly."

3. Create a false choice. The memo says the decision is between supporting President Bush’s policies and hoping terrorist threats will "fade away on their own."

So John Boehner wants a partisan rumble? The Center for American progress responds thusly:

The current debate on Iraq offers progressives an opportunity to keep the Bush administration honest. It is also an opportunity to ensure that the United States has a strategy for completing the military mission at a time of our choosing and getting the Iraq policy on the right track. Progressives need to offer responsible criticisms, outline alternatives, and ready themselves for an onslaught of unfair attacks and half-truths.

The conservative message will focus on simplistic slogans like “cut and run” and “retreat and defeat.” A memorandum sent by House majority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) (PDF) earlier this week encourages Republican members to exploit September 11th and attack opponents of the current Iraq policy as weak on national security. Conservatives will attempt to shift the frame from discussing Iraq to talking about the broader fight against global terrorism. Progressives should welcome this challenge — the Bush administration is vulnerable in its efforts to fight global terrorism, as well as Iraq.

Progressives must respond with clarity, confidence, and fact-based rebuttals. With facts on their side, progressives can make a strong case that the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have cut and run on Iraq for the past three years, and that Iraq is hurting the broader effort to defeat global terror networks.

Though a handful of conservatives may try to distance themselves from the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, it is vital for progressives to remind Americans that the current Congress has done little more than serve as a rubber stamp for policies that have not made Americans safer. All members of Congress should ask the tough questions and hold the Bush administration accountable for its mistakes in Iraq and the consequences these mistakes have had for U.S. national security.
Let's get ready to rumble...! ... because of course Iraq is all about politics, not national security.

Tags: Iraq, Congress
posted by JReid @ 6:06 AM  
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
About those raids...
I think this line says it all:

An Associated Press reporter and photographer accompanied a fugitive task force as it made Operation Return to Sender raids Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

The question is, of the 2,000 or so illegal aliens arrested in these highly telegenic and Drudgeworthy raids, exactly how many are going to actually be deported (as upposed to "C&R'd..." and more importantly, how many minutes, exactly, will it be before they sneak right back in?

Just asking.

Tags: , Politics, MEXICO, Bush, Illegal immigration, border, News,
posted by JReid @ 4:34 PM  
Bushie of Arabia III: Hogan's anti-heroesFlight of the Chickenhawks
Update: Bumped and appropriately renamed...

This is, hands down, the best picture from Bush's press-delighting Iraq photo op today. Hands ... down. That's Tony Snow (looking a bit like a mental patient) on the left, and White House advisor Dan Bartlett on the right, looking like he swallowed Karl Rove. (Please pass the airsickness bag... gurg...) What I wouldn't give for a snapshot of Dubya in one of those helmets... (Photo credit: AP/Yahoo! News)

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,
posted by JReid @ 4:30 PM  
Most unusual
Courtesy of ThinkProgress by way of neo-sometimeycon Andrew Sullivan, The National Review's John Derbyshire engages in a little bit of "truthiness":
We are not controlling events in Iraq. Events in Iraq are controlling us. We are the puppet; the street gangs of Baghdad and Basra are the puppet-masters, aided and abetted by an unsavory assortment of confidence men, bazaar traders, scheming clerics, ethnic front men, and Iranian agents. With all our wealth and power and idealism, we have submitted to become the plaything of a rabble, and a Middle Eastern rabble at that. Instead of rubbling, we have ourselves been rabbled. The lazy-minded evangelico-romanticism of George W. Bush, the bureaucratic will to power of Donald Rumsfeld, the avuncular condescension of Dick Cheney, and the reflexive military deference of Colin Powell combined to get us into a situation we never wanted to be in, a situation no self-respecting nation ought to be in, a situation we don't know how to get out of.
Read the rest of Derbyshire's article here.

Tags: Iraq, , Foreign Policy, , Bush, Politics, Cheney, War
posted by JReid @ 9:43 AM  
Jason Leopold refuses to go down
Since reporting this headline on May 13:

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

Jason Leopold of Truthout has taken a lot of hits, none bigger than the punch in the gut that was the Karl Rove apparent exoneration yesterday. So what happened? Was Leopold lied to? Did he jump the gun? So far, he's sticking to his guns.
posted by JReid @ 9:04 AM  
For a neutral 'Net
We had Kendrick Meek on the radio show this morning to respond to a caller who earlier in the week called him on the carpet for his vote against the Markey Amendment to the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement (COPE) Act. The issue -- while a bit complicated -- is net neutrality -- something very near and dear to the hearts of bloggers and anyone else who appreciates the cruiciality of a free and open Internet, not controlled by the cable and phone companies who own the broadband cable lines. Most Republicans opposed Markey, and Meek was one of a handful of Democrats who voted against it:

The amendment was rejected 269-152, with 14 members not voting.

COPE is broadly supported, including by the Congressional Black Caucus and Rainbow/PUSH (though I can't help but wonder whose nephews are getting fat Internet deals in the process.) But the Markey amendment would have put the breaks on the telecoms' plans to control the Internet, then sell it to Netcos like Yahoo! and Google based on their size, bandwith and pocket depth. The idea of a high caste/low caste information superhighway. Scary thought. Let's recall that NOT handing the Internet over to corporate titans, and not hoarding it for the Pentagon, was one of the best decisions made by the tech-savvy Clinton-Gore administration. Keeping the Internet free and open to all comers is what drove the 90s boom, and it's what has made the 'Net the global information warehouse that has empowered ordinary people (and scared the bejeezus out of the Chinese).

More on COPE:
The overall bill, known as the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act (COPE, H.R. 5252), would permit national video franchising for Internet Protocol television (IPTV) providers in hopes of spurring competition in the pay television market.

Unlike the Markey statutory language approach, under the COPE Act the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a case-by-case basis would deal with allegations of network neutrality violations.

The legislation would also prohibit the FCC from creating additional network neutrality rules beyond the non-binding principles adopted by the agency last year.

"The bill... seeks to strike the right balance between ensuring that the public Internet remains an open, vibrant marketplace and ensuring that Congress does not hand the FCC a blank check to regulate Internet services," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), author of the bill, said in introducing the legislation.

"We do need the FCC to stop the cheats without killing honest creativity. We don't need anybody to be the first Secretary of the Internet."

In addition, the legislation mandates Voice over IP providers make E911 services available to consumers and allows state and local governments the option to provide their own telecommunications, cable or information services.

The bill passed on a 321-111 vote, with 215 Republicans and 106 Democrats voting in the affirmative.

Both Verizon and AT&T have combined to invest billions of dollars into building fiber optic IP networks capable of delivering a competitive product to cable systems and millions more to lobby Congress to break from the historical treatment of Internet traffic by carriers.

Currently, all traffic is prioritized, treated and priced the same from the smallest of Web sites to Internet giants such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Amazon.

Under the cable and telco scheme, fees will be imposed for heavy users.

"[The] overwhelming vote brings our nation one critical step closer to TV freedom, where consumers enjoy the benefits of real choice and competition for their video service," Walter McCormick, president and CEO of the U.S. Telecom Association, said in a statement.

"Consumers win when companies are free to invest and compete head-to-head by offering innovative products at attractive prices."

The defeat of the Markey amendment, while not unexpected, still caught technology executives flat-footed.

On Wednesday, House and Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.), author of the COPE Act, said he saw no way the bill could be voted on before Friday. He did nothing during the day Thursday to discourage that notion.

But while TechNet, the influential nationwide political network of IT CEOs and senior executives, lunched at the National Press Club and enjoyed afternoon meetings with top White House executives and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Barton lined up supporters and the House Republican leadership punched through a surprise Thursday night vote.

With TechNet members winging their way home, lawmakers closed the debate on the House side.

"Unfortunately, the House voted today to protect the big phone and cable companies at the expense of preserving an open Internet," the It's Our Net Coalition said in a statement.

"We are not surprised at the outcome, but we are disappointed that the House has abandoned net neutrality."
Now, it's up to the Senate to act to protect the free and open Internet.

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posted by JReid @ 8:39 AM  
Quick take headlines, June 14
The U.S. image around the world takes another plunge...

Sell your stock! Global equities hit the skids, taking $2 trillion with them...

Anti-war activists give right wing bloggers, Newt Gingrich and Fox News a reason to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton...

Bill-O goes to Gitmo ... three detainees commit suicide. Connection? And the U.S. goes off the deep end:
Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, called the suicides an act of "warfare waged against us".
What???

Meanwhile, on the Factor, Bernie Goldberg continues his slide into lonely, irrelevant, diaper-wearing, shut-in insanity...

Israel denies responsibility for killing a Palestinian family who were picnicking on a Gaza beach during one of their frequent shelling raids. But a Palestinian physician and a British journalist beg to differ.

Tags: News, News and politics, , ,
posted by JReid @ 6:17 AM  
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Bushie of Arabia II: Bombs over Baghdad
I wonder what Presiden't Bush's surprise speech in Baghdad would sound like without the expert editing by Karl Rove and the Pentagon, dutifully reproduced by the White House friendly Washington press corps... maybe it would sound something like this...

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,
posted by JReid @ 9:52 PM  
Bushie of Arabia
Capitalizing on the incredible momentum of the four years too late and apparently rather useless killing of America-hyped terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and his monumental 2-point bump in the latest Gallup poll, President Bush today takes a surprise victory lap to the Baghdad Green Zone. And he tricked the Washington press corps! Hooray! Oh that sneaky Dubya, telling folks he was just gonna do a Camp David conference call...

Tags: Bush, Iraq, News,
posted by JReid @ 11:05 AM  
Bush up 2 points in Gallup: media calls it a comeback
You'd think the man had gotten way up into the 40s, rather than tipping the scales at a mind-bending 38 percent approval rating in the latest Gallup poll.

Unfortunately for the prez, all the current polls, including Gallup, CNN and CBS, show that a majority of Americans still believe the Iraq war was a mistake, and just isn't going well.

As E&P writes today, the real results of Bush's supposed Zarqawi bounce is mixed.

Tags: Bush, , Politics,
posted by JReid @ 10:47 AM  
How the grinch stole Fitzmas
According to AP, Karl Rove's pending indictment is not to be:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one of President Bush's most trusted advisers.

Attorney Robert Luskin said that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald informed him of the decision on Monday, ending months of speculation about the fate of Rove, the architect of Bush's 2004 re-election now focused on stopping Democrats from capturing the House or Senate in this November's elections.

Good thing all the left wing bloggers are at Yearly Kos, so they have a support system. Here's the statement from Joe and Valerie Wilson's camp:
Statement of Christopher Wolf, Proskauer Rose LLP, Counsel for Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson

"We have become aware of the communication between Mr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Luskin concerning Karl. Rove's status in the criminal investigation. We have no first-hand knowledge of the reason for the communication or what further developments in the criminal investigation it may signal. While it appears that Mr. Rove will not be called to answer in criminal court for his participation in the wrongful disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified employment status at the CIA in retaliation against Joe Wilson for questioning the rationale for war in Iraq, that obviously does not end the matter. The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons."
Awaitng reax from Jason Leopold... (Photo credit: BettyBowers.com)

Update: Drudge takes on RawStory, and once again proves to be accuracy challenged.

Tags: , PlameGate, fitzgerald, rove, Karl Rove, Libby, Politics.
posted by JReid @ 10:18 AM  
Christ on Crist
There he does, talking to folk again. This time, God is telling a prominent, Republican Florida minister who the next governor will be. (Rev. Dozier, an arch-conservative pastor and FOB -- friend of the Bushes -- was on the radio show this morning, btw. Hopefully we'll be podcasting soon!) Apparently it will be the very, very, not gay Charlie Crist. No irony there. By the way, if Charlie Crist is -- I mean isn't -- a homosexual, could this be the reason why?

BTW on the other side of the ledger, looks like Jim Davis had better watch for the Rod Squad in his rear-view mirror...

Tags: , , , Elections, governor, ,
posted by JReid @ 9:13 AM  
You know, it would kill her, and I think I'm cool with that...
Ad Age's Media Guy serves up TIME, Inc., for that Brangie-baby monstrosity, NBC for hating on YouTube, "Lost," -- hey, don't go there, fella... and Dr. Evil Her..m...self: Ann Coulter:

Would it kill you, Time Inc., to get off your high horse and stop pretending that making donations to charity to secure exclusive celebrity pictures isn't the moral equivalent of paying sources? First, earlier this year, People cut a reported $400,000 check to one of Angelina Jolie's favorite charities to get a cover shot of her pregnant. Then, just over a week ago, in a deal brokered by Getty Images, the magazine reportedly donated more than 10 times that amount to other Jolie-endorsed charities to secure shots of the actual spawn. I'm sorry, but if there's a check being written that benefits a news figure or that news figure's designated beneficiary, it's checkbook journalism, pure and simple. ...

Would it kill you, NBC, to actually think through what you're doing in the viral-video space? Earlier this year, the network started demanding that sites like YouTube take down clips from its shows-even though YouTube's distribution of the Andy Samberg/Chris Parnell digital short "Lazy Sunday" is credited with single-handedly reviving buzz about "Saturday Night Live." Last week, NBC launched a $1.99-a-day Jay Leno monologue-and-sketch iTunes video service. Instead of nickel-and-diming hard-core fans of Leno and other NBC shows (fewer than 200,000 clips from various NBC shows are reportedly sold or given away through iTunes each month), the network could be offering a sampling opportunity to millions of potential viewers. It's pointless and shortsighted to try to put a short leash on viral video. ...

Would it kill you, Britney Spears, to not only stop taking your sweet ol' time dumping Kevin Federline (what's the hold up?), but to issue a blanket apology for inflicting him -- and his upcoming rap record -- on us? ...
There's a bunch more in there, including the "Lost" dish, but let's jump ahead to the big finish:

Would it kill you, "Godless" author Ann Coulter, to do us all a favor and kill yourself? (Oh, well, yeah, I guess it would kill you.)

After her recent rabidly hateful, foaming-at-the-mouth, sub-human "Today" show appearance -- in which she reiterated her assertion that 9/11 widows are "enjoying their husband's deaths" -- even her former supporters began to fantasize about how much nicer the world would be if it were Coulterless.
Oweee. And I mean that in a good way.

Update: Jay Leno will definitely require a shower after this...

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Tags: , Politics, Bush, Coulter, Media, conservative, GOP,

posted by JReid @ 6:54 AM  
Monday, June 12, 2006
Pretty always wins
John Edwards beats Hillary in Iowa...
A new Iowa Poll conducted for The Des Moines Register shows that Edwards, the runner-up in the Iowa Democratic caucuses two years ago and a frequent visitor to the state since then, is the choice of 30 percent of Iowans who say they are likely to take part in the January 2008 caucuses.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York follows on Edwards' heels with 26 percent in the Iowa Poll.

Experts say it's the first poll showing anyone besides Clinton as the preferred Democrat in the race for the White House.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who used his victory in the 2004 caucuses as a springboard to the Democratic presidential nomination that year, is a distant third in the Iowa Poll with 12 percent.

Vilsack, despite getting good marks in previous polls for the job he's done in two terms as governor, receives relatively tepid support from his home state in the Register's new presidential poll, taken May 29 to June 1. Ten percent of likely caucus participants say that if the caucuses were held today, they would vote for him.
Not that this is dispositive, but it does indicate something that has occurred to me before: John Edwards may not be on TV every day, but he is criss-crossing the country spreading a very compelling message -- about abolishing poverty, uncertainty and want, and giving the little guy a fair shake -- while also bringing the pretty. Hillary, just know he's out there.

Tags: , Clinton, HILLARY CLINTON, Politics, Bush, Election 2008, Democrat, ,
posted by JReid @ 11:00 AM  
Gitmo hangings raise new questions
Europeans are jumping up and down calling for Gitmo to be shuttered after three inmates -- including a 21-year-old, Yassar Talal Al-Zahrani, who had been imprisoned since he was 18, and one, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, who was slated to be released, unbeknownst to him -- at the U.S. permanent-ish outdoor detention center hanged themselves over the weekend.

LONDON (Reuters) - Europeans seized on the suicides of Guantanamo prisoners as more proof the U.S. camp should be closed, and a top U.S. official on Monday disowned a colleague's comment that the deaths were a "good PR move".

Two Saudis and a Yemeni hanged themselves with clothes and bedsheets in their cells on Saturday, the first prisoners to die at Guantanamo since the United States began sending suspected al Qaeda and Taliban captives there in 2002.

"Guantanamo should be closed. This is an occasion to reiterate that statement," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters on arrival at a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
The prisoners apparently tricked their jailors and secreted themselves in their cells in order to commit suicide, which is leading to questions about just how long they had been left there unsupervised.

Tags: Guantanamo, Detainees, Politics, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq
posted by JReid @ 9:44 AM  
Is there something fishy about...
The Zarqawi snuffing out? How many times is the military going to change the story? First, he dies in the initial 500 pound bomb blast ... then he died on a stretcher (remarkably intact) ... then he tried to get off the stretcher ... then a witness says he was stomped out, and now he died from the bomb blast again. And the news media has dutifully regurgitated the Pentagon's ever-changing stories, mostly without much analysis, leaving some of us out here wondering what-a-gwan...

From the NY Times on Sunday, via TalkLeft:

The U.S. Military runs another delay ruse by us. Just this morning, the New York Times reported:
With rumors circulating in the Iraqi news media that Mr. Zarqawi had begun to run from the house as the first bomb struck, American officials said Saturday that two military pathologists had arrived in Iraq to perform an autopsy on his body to determine the precise cause of his death. The results from the autopsy, and Mr. Zarqawi's precise location at the time of the airstrike, will be disclosed soon, an American military official said.

And from Reuters today:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Abu Musab al Zarqawi lived for almost an hour after the first U.S. bomb struck his hideout north of Baghdad last Wednesday, a U.S. military spokesman said on Monday.

Major General William Caldwell said Zarqawi, the former al Qaeda leader in Iraq, died 55 minutes after the first of two 500-pound (227-kg) bombs hit the building and 24 minutes after U.S. forces arrived at the scene.

A U.S. medical officer, Steve Jones, told the same briefing that Zarqawi died from blast waves caused by the bombs.

He said DNA testing had confirmed Zarqawi's identify.

Anyway, at least we can all agree that he is, in fact, dead.

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Tags: , Iraq, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Bush, War, Politics, News
posted by JReid @ 8:59 AM  
Ann Coulter is a very bad man
More reaction to the single worst thing to happen to conservatives since that lady who went down on Newt Gingrich.

RedState has a nice selection of winger reax (wrapped up in a call for a boycott), including something I can actually applaud from AJ Strata! (Good thing Dubya didn't make those comments -- then Strata would have to fall all over himself defending them...)

And of course, there's the obligatory Howie Kurtz.

If Ann Coulter had a soul...
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posted by JReid @ 8:21 AM  
Friday, June 09, 2006
Censored News Network
What you won't hear from Wolf Blitzer or the other "intrepid journalists" at CNN. Soledad got it on the air, the execs took it off. And now, Michael Berg, father of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's most famous (in America) victim:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: There is a theory that as they try to form some kind of government that, in fact, it's going to be brutal, it's going to be bloody, there's going to be loss and that's the history of many countries, that that's just a lot of people pay for what they believe will be better than what they had under Saddam Hussein.

BERG: Well, you know, I'm not saying Saddam Hussein was a good man, but he's no worse than George Bush. Saddam Hussein didn't pull the trigger, didn't commit the rapes. Neither did George Bush, but both men are responsible for them under their reigns of terror. I don't buy that.

Iraq did not have al Qaeda in it. Al Qaeda supposedly killed my son. Under Saddam Hussein, no al Qaeda. Under George Bush, al Qaeda. Under Saddam Hussein, relative stability. Under George Bush, instability. Under Saddam Hussein, about 30,000 deaths a year. Under George Bush, about 60,000 deaths a year.

I don't get it. Why is it better to have George Bush be the king of Iraq rather than Saddam Hussein?

Harsh words, but also his words. That CNN doesn't have the stomach to re-air comments that will likely be replayed ad infinitem by right wing Fox News and their fellow travelers in the blogosphere, is telling.

Tags: , War, News, Terrorism, War on Terror, ,
posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Bush rockets to 33 percent!
The media just won't stop trying to spin Bush's straw into gold. Here's the latest Harris poll. Watch this number: 10 percent. That's the share that think Dubya's doing a heck of a job. And here' s AP-Ipsos. All in all, no statistical bump for the man at 1600 PA Ave. Let's see if the Zarqawi gambit helps him out next week.

Tags: Bush, , Politics
posted by JReid @ 8:59 AM  
If Ann Coulter had a soul...
... it would burn up on entry to any legitimate church. She/he should start attending services with Marilyn Manson and call it a day.

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posted by JReid @ 8:35 AM  
Iraq: Privatization on steroids
Greg Palast tempers the right wing glee over the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

UNREPORTED: THE ZARQAWI INVITATION

They got him -- the big, bad, beheading berserker in Iraq. But, something's gone unreported in all the glee over getting Zarqawi … who invited him into Iraq in the first place?

If you prefer your fairy tales unsoiled by facts, read no further. If you want the uncomfortable truth, begin with this: A phone call to Baghdad to Saddam's Palace on the night of April 21, 2003. It was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on a secure line from Washington to General Jay Garner.

The General had arrives in Baghdad just hours before to take charge of the newly occupied nation. The message from Rumsfeld was not a heartwarming welcome. Rummy told Garner, Don't unpack, Jack -- you're fired.

What had Garner done? The many-starred general had been sent by the President himself to take charge of a deeply dangerous mission. Iraq was tense but relatively peaceful. Garner's job was to keep the peace and bring democracy.

Unfortunately for the general, he took the President at his word. But the general was wrong. "Peace" and "Democracy" were the slogans.

"My preference," Garner told me in his understated manner, "was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can and do it in some form of elections."


But elections were not in The Plan.

The Plan was a 101-page document to guide the long-term future of the land we'd just conquered. There was nothing in it about democracy or elections or safety. There was, rather, a detailed schedule for selling off "all [Iraq's] state assets" -- and Iraq, that's just about everything -- "especially," said The Plan, "the oil and supporting industries." Especially the oil.

There was more than oil to sell off. The Plan included the sale of Iraq's banks, and weirdly, changing it's copyright laws and other odd items that made the plan look less like a program for Iraq to get on its feet than a program for corporate looting of the nation's assets. (And indeed, we discovered at BBC, behind many of the odder elements -- copyright and tax code changes -- was the hand of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's associate Grover Norquist.)

But Garner didn't think much of The Plan, he told me when we met a year later in Washington. He had other things on his mind. "You prevent epidemics, you start the food distribution program to prevent famine."

Seizing title and ownership of Iraq's oil fields was not on Garner's must-do list. He let that be known to Washington. "I don't think [Iraqis] need to go by the U.S. plan, I think that what we need to do is set an Iraqi government that represents the freely elected will of the people." He added, "It's their country … their oil."

Apparently, the Secretary of Defense disagreed. So did lobbyist Norquist. And Garner incurred their fury by getting carried away with the "democracy" idea: he called for quick elections -- within 90 days of the taking of Baghdad.

But Garner's 90-days-to-elections commitment ran straight into the oil sell-off program. Annex D of the plan indicated that would take at least 270 days -- at least 9 months.

Worse, Garner was brokering a truce between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. They were about to begin what Garner called a "Big Tent" meeting to hammer out the details and set the election date. He figured he had 90 days to get it done before the factions started slitting each other's throats.

But a quick election would mean the end of the state-asset sell-off plan: An Iraqi-controlled government would never go along with what would certainly amount to foreign corporations swallowing their entire economy. Especially the oil. Garner had spent years in Iraq, in charge of the Northern Kurdish zone and knew Iraqis well. He was certain that an asset-and-oil grab, "privatizations," would cause a sensitive population to take up the gun. "That's just one fight you don't want to take on right now."

But that's just the fight the neo-cons at Defense wanted. And in Rumsfeld's replacement for Garner, they had a man itching for the fight. Paul Bremer III had no experience on the ground in Iraq, but he had one unbeatable credential that Garner lacked: Bremer had served as Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates.

In April 2003, Bremer instituted democracy Bush style: he canceled elections and appointed the entire government himself. Two months later, Bremer ordered a halt to all municipal elections including the crucial vote to Shia seeking to select a mayor in the city of Najaf. The front-runner, moderate Shia Asad Sultan Abu Gilal warned, "If they don't give us freedom, what will we do? We have patience, but not for long." Local Shias formed the "Mahdi Army," and within a year, provoked by Bremer's shutting their paper, attacked and killed 21 U.S. soldiers.

The insurgency had begun. But Bremer's job was hardly over. There were Sunnis to go after. He issued "Order Number One: De-Ba'athification." In effect, this became "De-Sunni-fication."

Saddam's generals, mostly Sunnis, who had, we learned, secretly collaborated with the US invasion and now expected their reward found themselves hunted and arrested. Falah Aljibury, an Iraqi-born US resident who helped with the pre-invasion brokering, told me, "U.S. forces imprisoned all those we named as political leaders," who stopped Iraq's army from firing on U.S. troops.

Aljibury's main concern was that busting Iraqi collaborators and Ba'athist big shots was a gift "to the Wahabis," by which he meant the foreign insurgents, who now gained experienced military commanders, Sunnis, who now had no choice but to fight the US-installed regime or face arrest, ruin or death. They would soon link up with the Sunni-defending Wahabi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was committed to destroying "Shia snakes."

And the oil fields? It was, Aljibury noted, when word got out about the plans to sell off the oil fields (thanks to loose lips of the US-appointed oil minister) that pipelines began to blow. Although he had been at the center of planning for invasion, Aljibury now saw the greed-crazed grab for the oil fields as the fuel for a civil war that would rip his country to pieces:

"Insurgents," he said, "and those who wanted to destabilize a new Iraq have used this as means of saying, 'Look, you're losing your country. You’re losing your leadership. You're losing all of your resources to a bunch of wealthy people. A bunch of billionaires in the world want to take you over and make your life miserable.' And we saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities, pipelines, of course, built on -- built on the premise that privatization [of oil] is coming."

General Garner, watching the insurgency unfold from the occupation authority's provocations, told me, in his understated manner, "I'm a believer that you don't want to end the day with more enemies than you started with."

But you can't have a war president without a war. And you can't have a war without enemies. "Bring 'em on," our Commander-in-Chief said. And Zarqawi answered the call.

There's more. As the righties say, here's the rest of the story...

Tags: Iraq, Al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda, Terrorism, Zarqawi, , Bush, Iraq-War, Bush Administration,

posted by JReid @ 8:06 AM  
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Flashback: P is for "privatization"
Remember when the Nation said this?
IRAQ: Privatization in Disguise

by Naomi Klein, The Nation
April 18th, 2003





On April 6, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz spelled it out: There will be no role for the United Nations in setting up an interim government in Iraq. The US-run regime will last at least six months, "probably...longer than that."

And by the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers. "There has got to be an effective administration from day one," Wolfowitz said. "People need water and food and medicine, and the sewers have to work, the electricity has to work. And that's a coalition responsibility."

The process of getting all this infrastructure to work is usually called "reconstruction." But American plans for Iraq's future economy go well beyond that. Rather, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neoliberals can design their dream economy: fully privatized, foreign-owned and open for business.

Some highlights: The $4.8 million management contract for the port in Umm Qasr has already gone to a US company, Stevedoring Services of America, and the airports are on the auction block. The US Agency for International Development has invited US multinationals to bid on everything from rebuilding roads and bridges to printing textbooks. Most of these contracts are for about a year, but some have options that extend up to four. How long before they meld into long-term contracts for privatized water services, transit systems, roads, schools and phones? When does reconstruction turn into privatization in disguise?

California Republican Congressman Darrel Issa has introduced a bill that would require the Defense Department to build a CDMA cell-phone system in postwar Iraq in order to benefit "US patent holders." As Farhad Manjoo noted in Salon, CDMA is the system used in the United States, not Europe, and was developed by Qualcomm, one of Issa's most generous donors.

And then there's oil. The Bush Administration knows it can't talk openly about selling off Iraq's oil resources to ExxonMobil and Shell. It leaves that to Fadhil Chalabi, a former Iraq petroleum ministry official. "We need to have a huge amount of money coming into the country," Chalabi says. "The only way is to partially privatize the industry."

He is part of a group of Iraqi exiles who have been advising the State Department on how to implement that privatization in such a way that it isn't seen to be coming from the United States. Helpfully, the group held a conference on April 4-5 in London, where it called on Iraq to open itself up to oil multinationals after the war. The Administration has shown its gratitude by promising there will be plenty of posts for Iraqi exiles in the interim government.

Some argue that it's too simplistic to say this war is about oil. They're right. It's about oil, water, roads, trains, phones, ports and drugs. And if this process isn't halted, "free Iraq" will be the most sold country on earth.

Too bad for the administration their brilliant plan was upended by the incompetence of their secretary of defense.

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posted by JReid @ 11:15 AM  
Fight the father, fail the son
According to Salon, via Raw, Poppy Bush tried, and in distinctly Bushian form, failed ... to oust Baron von Rumsfeld earlier this year. From the article by Sidney Blumenthal:
...The elder Bush went so far as to recruit Rumsfeld's potential replacement, personally asking a retired four-star general if he would accept the position, a reliable source close to the general told me. But the former president's effort failed, apparently rebuffed by the current president. When seven retired generals who had been commanders in Iraq demanded Rumsfeld's resignation in April, the younger Bush leapt to his defense. "I'm the decider and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain," he said. His endorsement of Rumsfeld was a rebuke not only to the generals but also to his father.

The elder Bush's intervention was an extraordinary attempt to rescue simultaneously his son, the family legacy and the country. The current president had previously rejected entreaties from party establishment figures to revamp his administration with new appointments. There was no one left to approach him except his father. This effort to pluck George W. from his troubles is the latest episode in a recurrent drama -- from the drunken young man challenging his father to go "mano a mano" on the front lawn of the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, to the father pulling strings to get the son into the Texas Air National Guard and helping salvage his finances from George W.'s mismanagement of Harken Energy. For the father, parental responsibility never ends. But for the son, rebellion continues. When journalist Bob Woodward asked George W. Bush if he had consulted his father before invading Iraq, he replied, "He is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to."

Poor H.W. To be cursed with such a son.
Tags: Bush,
posted by JReid @ 9:35 AM  
Specterism of the day
Via the Left Coaster:
Arlen “Single Bullet” Specter once again collapsed like wet toilet paper, when he caved in to Shooter and agreed not to force telecom executives to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee on their role in the NSA spying programs. And what concession did Cheney’s bitch get out of the deal? The Administration “will consider” legislation putting the NSA programs under the judicial purview of the FISA court. Note the pointed complaint from Patrick Leahy. In response to Specter’s abdication of responsibility, CNN’s Jack Cafferty called him a “gutless Republican worm” this afternoon.
Ah, consistency. By the way, Arlen is supposedly fuming over Dick Cheney's apparent fenagling to undermine Senate hearings on domestic spygate. He even got real, real mad on the Senate floor and fired off a strongly worded letter (don't hurt 'em, Arlen...) I'm sure he'll flit around the committee room with his hair on fire for a few days and then go back home and have a warm glass of milk.

Impolitical has the best line on Specter today:
Arlen bringing his knife to the gun fight
Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, Republicans, Cheney,
posted by JReid @ 8:08 AM  
Goodbye, Al
The Jordanian terror leader who put the psycho in psychotic, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi apparently, is dead at the hands of U.S. forces. I'm not sure this statement is what you'd call ... accurate:
The 3-year-old insurgency has "lost its leader," Gen. George Casey, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, told reporters.
...since the combination insurgency/terror campaign/civil war is such a multi-headed hydra at this point in our little Mess-o-potamian dustbowl, but this is a good day for U.S. forces nonetheless. Maybe we could just go with "good omen..."

Probably good for P.R. purposes that this story comes out just in time to blow away CNN's scoop on 30 photos that apparently support the worst conclusions on Haditha. The administration definitely needs to change the Iraq conversation to one of momentum and progress (where now it's defined by three words: Fallujah, Abu-Ghraib and Haditha.) So for Dubya, finally a bit of good news, and for once, his P.R. interests actually dovetail with the interests of the troops.

BTW, the Arab media are covering the story, and not necessarily with a good look for us.

Best response to the death notice, from a BBC reader:

If he was hoping for his reward in heaven then I think he will be in for a shock.
But back to the bottom line: will this make any difference? For that, we go to the BBC:
If it significantly weakens the al-Qaeda structure in Iraq, it could open the way for easier contacts between the government and other insurgents, who are more Iraqi nationalists than Islamists seeking to set up an Islamic state not only in Iraq but across the region.

It might also lead to a lessening of tension between Sunnis and Shias, whom Zarqawi targeted.

The new government, the first constitutional one, will have to seize this opportunity if it is not to suffer the fate of its predecessor administrations, which came to office with hope and left with disappointment.

However, the death of one man does not necessarily bring a breakthrough. ...

... One recalls the euphoria after the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003.

US President George W Bush declared then: "A hopeful day has arrived. All Iraqis can now come together and reject violence and build a new Iraq."

His close ally UK Prime Minister Tony Blair echoed his words: "Let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people of Iraq."

It did not happen, as we have seen.

And even after Zarqawi's death, neither the al-Qaeda elements nor the nationalists will give up. Indeed, Zarqawi's removal might well bring about an explosion of revenge by his followers.

And getting the nationalists into talks and into politics is going to be a long-drawn out affair since they have their price to exact in the form of demands for an early US withdrawal.

The current Iraqi government and its security forces are not strong enough to stand alone.

It's not all grim, however:
If there is one sign of hope, though, it is that Zarqawi was calling for conflict between the Sunnis, of whom he was one, and the Shias, whom he despised.

Tags: , Iraq, Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Bush, War, Politics, News
posted by JReid @ 6:16 AM  
No kidding...
Google's co-founder admits the company compromised its principles by bowing to China's draconian censorship rules.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 6:11 AM  
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Dear Mr. Coulter
Most of us long ago figured out that you are a nut job who lacks the common decency God gave a cockroach... (No one with any candle wattage takes you seriously any more, and many of us are having a hard time figuring out why supposedly legitimate news outlets continue to give you air time...) That said, I was, for some reason, surprised to read and watch your latest comments in support of your book, which was appropriately released on your very special day.

My surprise comes not from the fact that you would choose to slime the widows of 9/11 as "witches" and "harpies" who are "enjoying their husbands deaths" because they have committed the sin of not supporting George W. Bush (a thing that so hurts your little Brownshirt heart). That, I would expect. What surprised me is that you would make those comments, of all places, in New York. In fact, you spend a lot of time in New York, making speeches and appearing on Fox News -- the pursuits that for you substitute for actual employment. ... If I were you, Mr. Coulter (or may I call you Ann?) I would begin spending my time somewhere else. New Yorkers probably don't like you very much today.

And by the way, I can understand why you wouldn't be able to relate to women who have had to explain to their children why their dads were immolated alive in terror attacks that turned the simple act of going to work or getting on an airplane into a date with death. You wouldn't understand that, Ann, because, in point of fact, no one actually loves you -- and particularly, no one loves you enough to actually breed with you (provided they could figure out whether you would, in fact, be supplying the sperm, or the egg...)

To put it plainly, you, sir, are a disgrace to men in short, tight skirts -- most of whom at least have the class to put their girl names in "quotes" and follow them with a campy surname like "Galore"... Your comments were not only Nazi-like in their depravity at suggesting both that anyone who criticizes either the president or the administration's preparation for, and response to terrorism should be ridiculed off the public stage, that the very act of loss in the 9/11 attacks makes the widows ineligble to speak on the subject of terrorism or public policy, and that because you disagree with them, you -- whom no sane man or woman would touch without a full course of penicilin and a hermetic body glove -- have a right to question not only their grief and sincerity, but their marriages ... they were unfit for presentation by any credible news outlet. That you were given so much air time to waddle your massive Adam's apple before the cameras yesterday is perhaps the biggest insult of all. For God sakes, even coven of bitter, fake "conservative" malcontents and your bulk-sold "best selling" books with you (pity you can't get on the Times' list one book at a time the way the real authors do...) Because if you choose to stay, I would deem it within the rights of every New Yorker (and by the way, I'm a New Yorker,) to greet you when they see you with the courtesy you deserve. And here's hoping it's laced with garlic and yesterday's hummus.

Good day, sir. Oh, and might I suggest a title for your next book: Ann Coulter -- Man of Godlessness

Update: The Jersey Girls respond, and the Hillary Empire strikes back

Update: left, right and center weigh in on Satan's Chambermanmaid, as the Left Coaster so deftly puts it:

Hugh Hewitt cuts to the chase:


Ann Coulter owes an apology to the widows of 9/11, and she should issue it immediately. This is beyond callous, beyond any notion of decency. It is disgusting.
Right Wing Nut House hits yet another rhetorical home run:


I have pretty much ignored Ann Coulter for the last year or so. As her celebrity has grown – actually since she appeared on the cover of Time Magazine – she has had to make ever more outrageous and off the wall statements in order to maintain her position as a “controversial” commentator. This has often placed her at odds with many of us who, while generally in agreement with much of her critique of American liberalism, nevertheless recoil in horror and disgust at her rhetoric.

She has descended into a black hole of necessity from which there is no escape; where she is forced to please her rabid base of red meat conservatives usually by going beyond the bounds of decency and proper public discourse in order to make a point that could have been made without resorting to the kind of hurtful, hateful, personal attacks that have become a hallmark of her war with liberals.

Make no mistake. Ann Coulter is a brutish lout, a conservative ogre who should be denied a public platform to spout what any conservative with an ounce of integrity and intellectual honesty should be able to see as unacceptable. To descend to the level of your opponents in order to criticize them is not an excuse. And for such a gifted wordsmith, Coulter does not have the excuse of ignorance.
Lew Rockwell sez:


The point Ann Coulter is trying to make is that the experience of the 911 widows, Cindy Sheehan, and other victims of the current wars is not a logical trump card to validate particular arguments against the government and these wars (although they can be rightly used in persuasion). For instance just because the Jersey girls want more Port restrictions and border controls, doesn't mean they're valid and justifiable means. Of course out of sheer idiocy and complete immaturity she goes way beyond this valid point by failing distinguish between the people and their arguments, as such weakening her point.

"These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them."

Here we see Ann the collectivist, socialist at heart. Those husbands working in the WTC don't belong to families in New Jersey, they belong to the collective national will, therefore these women are self-obsessed whinny witches. Maybe Ann's upset that the attack had nothing to do with her, so she feels the need to malign grieving widows and commandeer 911 victims for the national cause. In any case, I guess we shouldn't expect much in the way of fides, spes, or caritas from a book titled Godless by a woman not as nearly bright as most men in a mental institution

Looks like Newsbusters and the FReepers are all you've got left, Mr. Coulter...

And finally, here's one hell of an idea.

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 8:58 PM  
Bring the crazy: Katherine Harris soldiers on
The NYT puts Katherine Harris' plight of Bush abandonment on the front page.
In her insistence on running, Ms. Harris has become something of a pariah among many of the people whose power she indirectly helped ensure five and a half years ago, as overseer of the recount that sealed George W. Bush's victory.

Indirectly??? Whatever, NYT. That said, that lady is crazy. Someone please ship her some medication.

Tags:
posted by JReid @ 9:47 AM  
Keep the sleaze, just take the Mexicans
Washington lobbyist Brian Bilbray wins Duke Cunningham's greasy Congressional seat. The Dems learn the hard way that you have to spend money equivalent to your opponent, and know your issue. In the Cunningham seat, the issue wasn't so much corruption as it was illegal immigration.

Sidebar: Republican voters also kept Conrad Burns (which is good for Dems in November) and went with Thomas Kean in New Jersey.

Tags: , , Republicans,
posted by JReid @ 8:37 AM  
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Gay marriage! ...and other things nobody but James Dobson cares about
Permit me to update what I said about Dubya, the time-wasting, never-to-pass, marriage amendment (which even CATO -- in rare agreement with the Center for American Progress -- believes to be an abomination), and Methodism yesterday ... it's not that I don't think George W. Bush has a God complex -- it's that I don't think that his particular brand of religiosity is of the James Dobson - Jerry Falwell brand, which is characterized by an outsized desire to impose their psychosis on others. Dobson et. al. want their particular obsessions, and gay marriage in particular -- to be exorcised by the highest worldy law they can get theri hands on. George W. Bush, on the other hand, strikes me as the kind of man whose religiosity is purely self-centered: he thinks God speaks to him, thinks everything he does is at God's instruction, and is convinced he wield's God's power on earth. But he doesn't necessarily think you should live the way he thinks God wants you to. In fact, he probably really doesn't care how you live (nor does he necessarily live entirely right himself... but then again, as God's man, he can pretty much do as he likes.)

Previous:

Tags: Bush, Christianity, , Politics, Same-sex Marriage, Religion, News, Marriage.

posted by JReid @ 10:41 AM  
Monday, June 05, 2006
Stubborn facts and timelines
History is fascinating, in part because it's so fluid. So much depends on the mental orientation of the teller and the listener alike. But some historical facts are just that: facts. Case in point, the timeline of how we got into Iraq. This one's for you, Mark:
Jan. 29, 2002- In Pres. George W. Bush's State of the Union speech, he identifies Iraq , along with Iran and North Korea , as an “axis of evil.” He vows that the United States “will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.”

May 14, 2002- The UN Security Council revamps the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq , introducing a new set of procedures for processing contracts for humanitarian supplies and equipment. At this time, the United States is preventing $5 billion of material from entering Iraq through “holds” by the sanctions committee.

Sept. 12, 2002- President Bush addresses the opening of the UN General Assembly, challenging the body to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq ­ — or become irrelevant.

Sept. 17, 2002- President Bush releases his administration's National Security Strategy, outlining a more militarized policy relying on first strikes. It says the United States will exploit its military and economic power to encourage “free and open societies.” It emphasizes that the United States will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged, as it was during the Cold War.

Oct. 10, 2002- Congress adopts a joint resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq and gives the president authority to take preemptive, unilateral military action against Iraq , when and how he deems necessary. The bill is opposed by 133 representatives and 23 senators.

Nov. 8, 2002- The UN Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 1441, imposing tough new arms inspections on Iraq and precise, unambiguous definitions of what constitutes a “material breach.” Should Iraq violate the resolution, it faces “serious consequences,” which the Security Council would determine.

Nov. 27, 2002- Weapons inspections resume in Iraq under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency and UN experts.

Dec. 7, 2002- Iraq submits a 12,000-page declaration on its chemical, biological, and nuclear activities, claiming it has no banned weapons.

Dec. 10, 2002- International Human Rights Day, commemorated by more than 150 U.S. cities with action, rallies, and vigils opposing war against Iraq. One theme is, “Let the inspectors work.”

Dec. 21, 2002- President Bush approves the deployment of U.S. troops to the Gulf region. It is estimated that by March, 200,000 troops will be stationed there. British and Australian troops will join them in the coming months.

Jan. 27, 2003- The UN Weapons Inspectors' formal report on Iraq is critical, though not damning. Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix states, “ Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.”

Jan. 27, 2003- Bush receives a letter signed by 130 members of the House of Representatives, urging him to “let the inspectors work.”

Jan. 28, 2003- In his state of the union address, President Bush states Saddam Hussein “is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.” He goes on to claim that the Iraqi leader “has shown utter contempt for the United Nations and the opinion of the world.” He announces he is ready to attack Iraq , even without a UN mandate.

Feb. 14, 2003- In a report to the UN, Hans Blix indicates progress has been made in Iraq's cooperation. Both pro-war and anti-war nations feel the report supports their point of view.

Feb. 15, 2003- “The World Says No to War,” with massive peace demonstrations around the world, is the largest coordinated day of protest in world history, with more than 600 cities participating.

Feb. 22, 2003- Hans Blix orders Iraq to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles by March 1 because the UN inspectors have determined the missiles have an illegal range limit.

Feb. 24, 2003- The United States , Great Britain , and Spain submit a proposed resolution to the UN Security Council stating, “ Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441.” The resolution concludes it is time to authorize use of military force. France , Germany , and Russia submit an informal counter-resolution, stating that inspections should be intensified and extended to ensure there is “a real chance for the peaceful settlement of this crisis” and that “the military option should only be a last resort.”

March 1, 2003- Iraq begins destroying its Al Samoud missiles.

March 7, 2003- Hans Blix reports Iraq has accelerated its cooperation, but inspectors need more time to verify Iraq's compliance.

March 12, 2003- New York City passes a city council resolution opposing a preemptive/unilateral war against Iraq , joining more than 150 other U.S. cities, including Philadelphia , Chicago , and Los Angeles. “We, of all cities, must uphold the preciousness and sanctity of human life,” says Councilman Alan Gerson, a Democrat whose district includes the World Trade Center site, where 2,792 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Feb. 24–March 14, 2003- The United States and Great Britain's intense lobbying efforts among UN Security Council members yields support only from Spain and Bulgaria. Since nine votes (and no vetoes from the five permanent members) out of fifteen are required for the resolution's passage, the United States decides not to call for a vote on the resolution.

March 17, 2003- Great Britain's ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended. Arms inspectors evacuate. Pres. George W. Bush gives Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.

March 19, 2003- Invasion of Iraq begins when the United States launches Operation Iraqi Freedom. Called a “decapitation attack,” the initial air strike of the war targets Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders in Baghdad , with unclear results.

March 20, 2003- The United States launches a second round of air strikes against Baghdad , and ground troops enter the country for the first time, crossing into southern Iraq from Kuwait. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claims the initial phase of the war is mild compared to what is to come. “What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of a force and a scope and a scale that has been beyond what we have seen before.”

March 21, 2003- The major phase of the war begins with heavy aerial attacks on Baghdad and other cities, publicized in advance by the Pentagon as an overwhelming barrage meant to instill “shock and awe.”

March 24, 2003- Troops march within sixty miles of Baghdad. They encounter much stronger resistance from Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary fighters along the way, particularly in towns such as Nassiriya and Basra.

April 9, 2003- The fall of Baghdad : U.S. forces advance into central Baghdad. In following days, Kurdish fighters and U.S. forces take control of the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. There is widespread looting in the capital and other cities.

April 18, 2003- Tens of thousands march in Baghdad's largest protest since arrival of U.S. forces. Crowds pour out of mosques and into the streets after the first Friday prayers in a U.S.-controlled city, calling for an Islamic state to be established.

May 1, 2003- The United States declares an end to major combat operations.

May 12, 2003- A new civil administrator takes over in Iraq. Paul Bremer, a diplomat and former head of the counter-terrorism department at the U.S. State Department, replaces Jay Garner, who was seen as ineffective in stemming the continuing lawlessness and violence in Iraq.

May 19, 2003- Thousands of Shi'a and Sunni Muslims protest peacefully in Baghdad against the U.S. occupation.

May 22, 2003- The UN Security Council approves a resolution acknowledging U.S./UK as occupying powers in Iraq and lifts sanctions.

June 28, 2003- U.S. military commanders order a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq. Handpicked mayors and administrators are installed, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.

July 9, 2003- In hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admits the cost of U.S. forces in Iraq tops $3.9 billion a month – double that previously reported and not including funds for reconstruction or relief. The hearings affirm that 140,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

July 13, 2003- Iraq's interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by U.S. and British officials, is inaugurated. The council has power to name ministers and will help draw up a new constitution for the country. The U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, retains ultimate authority.

July 17, 2003- U.S. combat deaths in Iraq reach 147, the same number of soldiers who died from hostile fire in the first Gulf War. Of the total, 32 occurred after May 1, the officially declared end of combat.

Aug. 19, 2003- A truck bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad kills 20, critically wounds many more, and raises questions about the UN's future role in rebuilding Iraq. Among the dead is Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
That's how we got here. Here's where we are.

Tags: , Politics, Bush, War, News, Military
posted by JReid @ 10:47 AM  
Immigration 101: Show me the money
I've said on the radio show, and on this blog, that in my opinion, the immigration debate largely misses a very important point: many, if not most, of the illegal migrants who come to this country overland from Mexico are not coming here for citizenship, or freedom, or some other Statue of Libertyesque truism: they're coming here for cash, that they intend to send home to Mexico (to the tune of becoming that country's second largest component of GDP.) Now, for some hard facts to back up that point:
National Opinion Research Center General Social Surveys (GSS) and finds facts about groups that go against the conventional wisdom. He's been digging for info in the last couple of months about Mexicans compared to other immigrants and has dug up a lot of facts that do not support immigration myths widely promoted by the "Open Borders" crowd. I've collected up many of his posts on this topic and excerpted them below.

Some happy talkers argue that Mexicans come to the United States for freedom. I think they come to make more money. If they come for freedom you'd expect they'd be keen on becoming American citizens. Nope. Most Mexican immigrants do not place much value on American citizenship.
Mexican immigrants do not value American citizenship: An iSteve.com reader wrote that illegals don't want to be citizens, but "Mexicans with benefits." What do the data say? GSS respondents were asked how important is it to them to be an American citizen. Only one-third of Mexican immigrants said this was important. Almost twice as many immigrants from all the other countries felt this way (60%). Eighty percent of native-born Americans value their citizenship.
They don't come here for freedom. If they did they'd want to become citizens. They come here to make more money.
Blogger Randall Parker of Parapundit, who posted the links, also points out that Mexicans are the second most race-consscious group studied, second to African-Americans. We could go through a littany of reasons why Black Americans are, as Parapundit says, "race conscious" (starting with the fact that for more than 200 years, Blacks have been targeted for discrimination simply on the basis of skin color...) but point taken. There is a strong identification with "la raza" among many Mexicans, and it isn't about becoming more Aemrican. Meanwhile, Blacks are as American as apple pie, down to contributing mightily to this nation's culture, vocabulary and sense of identity. I see where Randall is going, and with the follow-ons, he seems to be suggesting a link between being Mexican, being Black and being both un-American and, further down the post, government-needy and criminal-minded. That's where his argument goes from logical to race-baiting in 60 seconds...

Tags: , Politics, MEXICO, Bush, Illegal immigration, border, News, Immigration, Illegal-Aliens.
posted by JReid @ 10:33 AM  
The Methodist way
Having been one, I can tell you that one thing Methodists are not known for is extremism. Methodists are moderate to a fault, and so casual about their religiosity, for the most part, that it's sometimes hard to associate them with religiosity at all. That's why it's always been difficult for me to square George W. Bush's supposed evangelical bent with the fact that he is supposed to be a Methodist. Rather, I think his supposed religious extremism was a concoction of Karl Rove's 2000-2004 election strategy and nothing more.

I've interviewed Matthew Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel and one of the men behind the nationwide marriage push, and he told me point blank that if he thought the evangelical movement had been lied to by the GOP -- meaning if they don't move on the gay marriage issue -- there would be hell to pay (so to speak.) Well, rev up the hellfires, Matt. You all have been fooled. George W. Bush's grimacing statements on gay marriage aren't the real deal. He's no fire breather. I doubt he really even wants to do the marriage amendment. He's doing it because he has to -- because 2006 electoral politics demand it. That's not to say that I don't believe Dubya has some wackadoo in him -- he seems to really believe that he has some sort of Godly mandate hovering over his presidency. (I said Methodists were boring -- not that none of them are nuts...) But I just don't believe that Bush buys into the more fire breathing aspects of evangelical Christianity -- he more likely hews to the collegial, live and let live Methodist way -- only with himself situated at the right hand of God -- the Christian equivalent of the Twelfth Imam ...

So anyway, without further ado, here is George W. Bush's statement on what his friend Bill Frist wants us to believe is the second most important issue facing the country (Iraq, Iran, oil prices, inflation, crime, terrorism and the like aside), next to flag burning:


THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Next week, the United States Senate will begin debate on a constitutional amendment that defines marriage in the United States as the union of a man and woman. On Monday, I will meet with a coalition of community leaders, constitutional scholars, family and civic organizations, and religious leaders. They're Republicans, Democrats, and independents who've come together to support this amendment. Today, I want to explain why I support the Marriage Protection Amendment, and why I'm urging Congress to pass it and send it to the states for ratification.

Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all.

In our free society, people have the right to choose how they live their lives. And in a free society, decisions about such a fundamental social institution as marriage should be made by the people -- not by the courts. The American people have spoken clearly on this issue, both through their representatives and at the ballot box. In 1996, Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate, and President Clinton signed it into law. And since then, voters in 19 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions that protect the traditional definition of marriage. And today, 45 of the 50 states have either a state constitutional amendment or statute defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These amendments and laws express a broad consensus in our country for protecting the institution of marriage.

Unfortunately, activist judges and some local officials have made an aggressive attempt to redefine marriage in recent years. Since 2004, state courts in Washington, California, Maryland, and New York have overturned laws protecting marriage in those states. And in Nebraska, a federal judge overturned a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

These court decisions could have an impact on our whole Nation. The Defense of Marriage Act declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. If that act is overturned by activist courts, then marriages recognized in one city or state might have to be recognized as marriages everywhere else. That would mean that every state would have to recognize marriages redefined by judges in Massachusetts or local officials in San Francisco, no matter what their own laws or state constitutions say. This national question requires a national solution, and on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come from the people, not the courts.

An amendment to the Constitution is necessary because activist courts have left our Nation with no other choice. The constitutional amendment that the Senate will consider next week would fully protect marriage from being redefined, while leaving state legislatures free to make their own choices in defining legal arrangements other than marriage. A constitutional amendment is the most democratic solution to this issue, because it must be approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and then ratified by three-fourths of the 50 state legislatures.

As this debate goes forward, we must remember that every American deserves to be treated with tolerance, respect, and dignity. All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another, and all people deserve to have their voices heard. A constitutional amendment will put a decision that is critical to American families and American society in the hands of the American people, which is exactly where it belongs. Democracy, not court orders, should decide the future of marriage in America.

Thank you for listening.
No, Mr. President, thank YOU for listening. ...

Update: Even LaShawn has had it...

Glenn Reynolds duly notes the thud with which this eagle has landed...

David Weigel puts it most succinctly:

What's the best way to describe how the once-formidable Republican Party is struggling? Is the GOP Jake LaMotta, stubbornly rushing into punches (the Iraq war) and getting pounded into a final pathetic retirement (K Street consulting firms)? Is it Doug Flutie, abandoning a tattered playbook (Rovism) and throwing a final Hail Mary pass (war with Iran) to triumph over Miami (Nancy Pelosi)?

Neither of these really evokes the ploy President Bush Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are trying out today and tomorrow. For the first time since 2004, Frist and the Republican majority will bring the Federal Marriage Amendment to a vote. In a few weeks, Frist will bring another constitutional amendment to the floor: the much-delayed, much-debated, much-distracting permanent ban on burning the American flag. The GOP is struggling, but not like a prizefighter or a football player. It's struggling like a man who cheats on his wife and buys her $1,000 worth of flowers to cushion the blow. Too little, too late, and actually kind of an insult. ...

Later:

... It shouldn't be hard for Republicans to see why they're in danger of losing their majority. Voter anger over immigration and spending has manifested itself in citizen groups patrolling the border, challenging them in primaries, and bussing reporters to the sites of shameful pork-barrel projects. Going back to the story of the failing marriage, one spouse has known for a while what the other one's up to. The source of her anger is clear. Maybe the wife doesn't want a huge bouquet and an apology. Maybe she wants her husband to quit screwing around.

Andrew Sullivan has the quote of the day:
"I think it was purely political. I don't think he gives a s--t about it. He never talks about this stuff," - an "old friend" of George W. Bush, describing the president's cynical use of a doomed amendment to gin up his religious base before an election.

Now I'm not a gay marriage proponent, but to say this issue is important to the country given what else is going on in the world? Priceless...

Tags: Bush, Christianity, , Politics, Same-sex Marriage, Religion, News, Marriage.
posted by JReid @ 6:45 AM  
Friday, June 02, 2006
The know-nothing zone

Bill O'Reilly claims to be an historian. As Keith Olbermann pointed out on "Countdown" last night, perhaps its time for a change of career. Get the video of "another episodeo of Factor fiction," complete with the hilarious Stewie intro, here.

Doug Thompson at Cap Hill Blue puts it "in polite, social conversational terms":

Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly is a lying sack of shit.

Ouch.

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Tags: , ,

posted by JReid @ 8:28 AM  
Bush wins!
Dubya tops all comers for worst president in the last 61 years, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton is deemed the second best and the third worst, depending on which side you ask, with best scoring nearly twice as high...
Strong Democratic sentiment pushes President George W. Bush to the top of the list when American voters pick the worst U.S. President in the last 61 years. Bush is named by 34 percent of voters, followed by Richard Nixon at 17 percent and Bill Clinton at 16 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Leading the list for best President since 1945 is Ronald Reagan with 28 percent, and Clinton with 25 percent.

President Bush is ranked worst by 56 percent of Democrats, 35 percent of independent voters and 7 percent of Republicans, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Best ranking for Reagan comes from 56 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independent voters. Among American voters 18 - 29 years old, Clinton leads the "best" list with 40 percent.

Among young voters, 42 percent list Bush as worst. Clinton tops the "worst" list among white Protestants - 24 percent, and white evangelical Christians - 29 percent.

American voters disapprove 58 - 35 percent of the job Bush is doing, compared to 58 - 36 percent in a March 2 survey. Even voters in red states, where Bush's margin was more than 5 percent in 2004, disapprove 52 - 39 percent.

"Democrats just plain don't like President Bush. His father, the 41st President, was voted out of the White House after one term. Nixon quit under fire. But most Democrats think Bush 43 wins the worst-president race," said Maurice Carroll, Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Kennedy and Truman get big Democratic votes, especially among Baby Boomers (45 - 64 years old) and seniors (over 65), but recent memory counts," Carroll said. "Democrats say Clinton's the best and Republicans say he's the worst. Republicans don't think much of Jimmy Carter either. There's no contest for the GOP favorite: It's the Gipper."

"Bush's job-approval numbers remain in the cellar. But he might finally have hit bottom." ...

... The main reason cited by voters who disapprove of Bush is the war in Iraq, listed by 43 percent.

Well, at least they're saying he's hit bottom.

On the subject of Iraq, when asked for the reasons why they liked or disliked the job the president is doing, most reasons on both sides scored in the single digits or low teens. One reason, however, crushed all others with 43 percent choosing it as their reason for disapproval: Iraq.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:15 AM  
Ethics 101
Will ironies never cease. The Bush administration -- of the signing statements, torture memos, secret detention facilities, humiliation-interrogations, Guantanamo teens, pre-emptive wars, tax cuts for the rich during wartime and on and on... is ordering ethics training for the men and women of the United States military who are doing all the dirty work for them in the endless "war on terror."

Here's an ethics training idea: don't send our troops into an interminable conflict without enough support or a decent war plan.

Tags: Bush, , Politics, Iraq, War on Terror, War,
posted by JReid @ 7:00 AM  
Thursday, June 01, 2006
The carrot and the carrot stick
A day after Condi Rice makes her "we'll join the Iran talks" announcement, which was clearly designed to set the table for group action with the EU, Russia and China, and after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad essentially tells her where she can stick her talks, the Gang of Six put an Iran deal on the table. It's chok full of fresh incentives for Tehran to just say no to nuclear. But most of the world believes the U.S. would much rather use the stick. Still, it gets harder and harder to see how the Bushies untie their hands enough to get much out of this. Sanctions on oil would cripple the world economy. Sanctions in general would probably be ether. So... what have we got?

Bring it On! makes a good point:
More significant, perhaps, is that Iran’s apparent willingness to talk suggests that they believe that they may have an advantage. In no small way, our invasion of Iraq and subsequent quagmiring of our troops there has emboldened Iran to puff out its chest and speed up its activities. It needs to assert its sovereignty either through nuclear deterrence or through security guarantees. Enrichment is the path to both. Given that, Iran’s new engagement signals that it either feels like an
invasion is coming OR that Western capitulation is imminent. Since our troops remain embroiled in Iraq, my guess is that Iran feels like it can probably secure a pretty sweet deal.

So while I am pleased to see that diplomacy is not dead, at least this far away from national elections anywy, I cannot help but feel insecure in our bargaining position. Bush claims that “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran but it’s impossible not to point out that we can’t invade. That option was usurped by our rush into Iraq and, as such, we are left with nothing but our shriveled diplomacy with which to do battle. Iran understands this and it’s having its way with the Six Nation Coalition that so triumphantly announced today that it has a new plan.
What do you call a stick that's orange and has leafy greens at the top? A carrot.

Tags: , , Bush, Politics, Nuclear, War, Iraq
posted by JReid @ 5:32 PM  
2004, the resurrection
BradBlog has a preview of the RFK Jr. Rolling Stone article on the "theft of Ohio..." Hellooooo Ken Blackwell...!

Tags: , Politics, Election, 2004,
posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
The Thursday funnies
Gawker sez: Drooling America says goodbye to Katie Couric.

Tags: , today, NBC, CBS, today show, News
posted by JReid @ 9:53 AM  
The double tragedy of Haditha
What happened in Haditha is as much about the corruption of the human conscience as it is about war. Michelle Malkin links to a KING TV Seattle interview with a member of Kilo Company, who describes the insurgent tactics that might be getting Iraqi children killed.

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Tags: , , Politics, War, News, Military, ,

posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
Listen now:


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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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