Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
South Florida buzz: Hip hop and husbandry
Welcome a new feature on the ReidBlog. Today's hot list:

1. Joaquin Phoenix is out of his freaking mind

Filed under: "this whole rap thing has got to be a publicity stunt. I can't wait for the movie." Joaquin seeks hip-hop street cred at a ... nightclub in the Fontainbleau Hotel?

2. killer stereotypes

Filed under: "never, ever jump onto the hood of someone's car". Check out the opening sentence of the Sun Sentinel story:
Fearful that he had rear-ended drug dealers in a "duded out" 1966 Cadillac DeVille with whitewall tires, Abdelaziz Bilal Hamze didn't stop, his attorney told jurors Wednesday.
Duded out??? Who wrote this story, Michael Steele? We continue...
The Cadillac's owner, Sandra Hall, 44, was dragged two miles to her death after confronting Hamze at a stop light, jumping spread-eagled onto the hood of his minivan and clutching the windshield wipers as he drove away.
It gets worse: (the descriptions, I mean...)
Hamze, a native of Lebanon, acted out of "absolute fear and self-defense," Jeffrey Voluck said. "They've got him surrounded like a crazy mob. Fearing that eventually they will break the windows and drag him out of the car and either beat him unmercifully or kill him, he takes off."

Hall, "a big woman," and her boyfriend, Michael Hall, "a big, scary guy with dreadlocks," intimidated Hamze, a quiet, diminutive young man, Voluck said.

Holden, the prosecutor, conceded Hall was upset, screaming and cursing. While pursuing Hamze through a residential neighborhood, Holden said, Hall called 911 to report the hit-and-run and told the operator: "I'm gonna kill that s-- of a b----."

But once faced with Hall clinging to the hood of his minivan, Hamze drove, swerving "as if to get the lady ... off the van," Holden said.

"The van kept going, folks," Holden told jurors. "The van never stopped, it kept going."
"Fear of a giant black woman who with one other person forms a "crazy mob." It's a defense...

3. Animal husbandry

Filed under: "No, Larcenia, no!"
TALLAHASSEE -- The act of bestiality is a step closer to becoming illegal in Florida now that a Senate agriculture committee voted to slap a third-degree felony charge on anyone who has sex with animals.

Florida is one of only 16 states that still permit bestiality -- a fact that animal-rights activist and Sen. Nan Rich learned to her horror three years ago when a Panhandle man was suspected of accidentally asphyxiating a family goat that he held by the collar during a sex act.

... Rich's legislation would target only those who derived or helped others derive ''sexual gratification'' from an animal, specifying that conventional dog-judging contests and animal-husbandry practices are permissible.

That last provision tripped up Miami Democratic Sen. Larcenia Bullard.

''People are taking these animals as their husbands? What's husbandry?'' she asked. Some senators stifled their laughter as Sen. Charlie Dean, an Inverness Republican, explained that husbandry is raising and caring for animals. Bullard didn't get it.

''So that maybe was the reason the lady was so upset about that monkey?'' Bullard asked, referring to a Connecticut case where a woman's suburban chimpanzee went mad and was shot.

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posted by JReid @ 12:13 PM  
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Nice monkey ... niiiice...
So the victim the Travis the Chimp Xanax attack now has no nose, no eyes, and now jaw...

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posted by JReid @ 3:23 PM  
Crazy lady alert: chimp mama says Travis loved the lobster
Um ... chimps aren't supposed to eat lobster, fillet mignon and Xanax, right...? Travis' "mom" begs to differ...

And while we're talking crazy, you simply have to watch through to the end of this report. The stand-up at the end will be well worth the wait. Trust me.

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posted by JReid @ 1:20 PM  
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
When Travis attacks: the 911 call
Connecticut authorities have released the 911 call in the Travis the chimp human attack. According to the NYDN:

The 15-minute recording captures the bizarre horror of Monday's attack, which left a 55-year-old woman critically injured and the 200-pound ape dead in a hail of police gunfire.

"Hurry, please! He ripped her face off," the ape's frantic owner, Sandy Herold, 70, is heard telling the dispatcher on the tapes released last night.

"Listen to me, you have to shoot him."

The terrifying screeches of Travis the chimpanzee are heard as he mercilessly pounces on Herold's pal, Charla Nash.

"He killed her!" Herold told the dispatcher. "He ripped her apart. He tried attacking me. How fast can you get here?"

The dispatcher sounds incredulous as Herold describes how she had to stab the burly ape and only aggravated him.

"He's eating her," Herold screamed. "Please have them go faster."

When cops arrived at Herold's Stamford home, she can be heard yelling for them to "Shoot him!"

Nash was so disfigured that a cop on the scene mistook her for a man, telling the dispatcher, "He's got no face."

Fighting back tears Tuesday, Herold mourned the death of her beloved chimp and expressed concern for her friend.

"He was all I had," Herold said outside her home.

Scary stuff! ... um ... question: WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU HAVE A CHIMP IN YOUR HOUSE THAT YOU FEED WINE AND XANAX TO???? (Ahem. ) My dog weighs about 3 pounds, is less than a foot tall, and HE would attack people if he got loose. Having a 200 pound chimpanzee in the crib just strikes me as, shall we say, short sighted.

Meanwhile, cue the Morgan Fairchild reaction:

"This is not at all the personality I worked with," Fairchild told the Daily News. "It was like having a very bright child on the set that wanted to be a part of everything. He was just an amiable little guy, friendly and just loved to be the center of attention."

Yep. We're going to hell in a handbasket. (Carrie Donovan, the fabulous former New York Times Magazine fashion editor who starred in the Old Navy commercials with Fairchild, passed away in 2001. Otherwise, she too would be devastated.)

Here's the audio of the 911 call. Is it just me, or does the dispatcher sound like he thinks its a joke?

Meanwhile, the truly stupid among us are calling in death threats to the chimp's owner because ... wait for it ... they're mad that Travis was killed. Seriously.


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posted by JReid @ 8:05 AM  
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The literal definition of 'going ape-sh*t'

Message: don't have a chimp in the house. No seriously, DON'T HAVE A CHIMP IN THE HOUSE!!!!

Aged 14, and weighing a formidable 200 pounds, Travis had been brought up to all intents and purposes a human. His owner, Sandra Herold, aged 70, who had raised him since he was an infant, trained him to water the flowers, drink wine, brush his teeth and watch baseball. "He loves baseball. He likes anything with action," Herold once told an interviewer.

He also appeared in adverts for Coca-Cola and retailer Old Navy.

Though he had no record of violence, he had escaped once before – an event that only adds to his fame locally as he jokingly held up the traffic for hours.

Yesterday, though, there was no joviality. Police reported that the animal had been behaving oddly at home, and Herold had tried to calm him with tea laced with a sedative. But he grabbed her keys and let himself out of the back door, then started banging on local cars as though signalling he wanted to go for a drive.

Worried, Herold called her friend Charla Nash for help. As soon as the neighbour arrived, Travis turned on her, maulling her and biting her face, causing serious injuries.

Okay, stop right there. The drug? It was Xanax. She gave the chimp Xanax. (sigh) and she taught him to surf the Internet. Too bad the "act like a human" lessons didn't include DON'T MAUL MOMMY'S FRIENDS!

And while it's totally not funny that a woman was mauled, you've got to admit the Travis the Xanaxed, Raging Chimp thing is a Comedy Central pilot waiting to happen. I mean it's hard not to write this funny. Example:

The Connecticut woman viciously attacked by a 200-pound chimp who inexplicably went bananas remains in critical condition this afternoon and faces "life-changing, if not life-threatening injuries" to her face and hands, officials said.

Okay, stipulating that that was the New York Post... In fact, staying with the Post, you simply can't beat the original version of the story:

Police aren't sure what triggered Travis' wild-in-the-jungle rampage, though Conklin said the ape had been acting odd in 70-year-old owner Sandra Herold's home, and neighbors claim he suffered from Lyme disease.

He said she gave him Xanax in tea to quiet him, but the chimp grabbed the keys to open the kitchen door, went outside and started banging on car doors to indicate he wanted to go for a ride.

"He's a very clever chimp," Conklin said.

To repeat: she gave him Xanax. (sigh). When will we humans learn?

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posted by JReid @ 10:03 PM  
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Crazy lady alert! The octuplet mom
See? Told ya Angelina Jolie was a bad influence...

I wonder which one of those octuplets is gonna take your man...???

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posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
Friday, December 05, 2008
When is 15 more like 33? The O.J. Simpson sentence confuses

O.J. Simpson is plenty stupid, but I don't buy that he's an actual armed robber. Still, after nearly 15 years, the American public finally get their man. But what's with the seemingly divergent, and much more dramatic, AP take:
LAS VEGAS – A broken O.J. Simpson was sentenced Friday to as many as 33 years in prison for a hotel armed robbery after a judge rejected his apology and said, "It was much more than stupidity." The 61-year-old football Hall of Famer stood shackled and stone-faced as Judge Jackie Glass rattled off the punishment. Moments before, Simpson made a rambling, five-minute plea for leniency, simultaneously apologizing for the holdup as a foolish mistake and trying to justify his actions.

He choked back tears as he told her: "I didn't want to steal anything from anyone. ... I'm sorry, sorry."

Simpson said he was simply trying to retrieve sports memorabilia and other mementos, including his first wife's wedding ring, from two dealers when he stormed a Las Vegas hotel room on Sept. 13, 2007.

But the judge emphasized that it was a violent confrontation in which at least one gun was drawn, and she said someone could have been shot. She said the evidence was overwhelming, with the planning, the confrontation itself and the aftermath all recorded on audio or videotape.

Glass, a no-nonsense judge known for her tough sentences, imposed such a complex series of consecutive and concurrent sentences that even many attorneys watching the case were confused as to how much time Simpson got.

Simpson could serve up to 33 years but could be eligible for parole after nine years, according to Elana Roberto, the judge's clerk.

Whoa ... 33 years? Are you sure AP? Let's try it again from another news organization, the UK's Telegraph:
Judge Jackie Glass ordered the shackled Simpson be returned to jail immediately, rejecting an application for bail pending an appeal.

She told him he would not be eligible for parole for at least five years.

The 15-year sentence, handed down for kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, could be followed by a consecutive sentence of up to 72 months, she added.

Oh, that's how it works. And as for that ... well ... murder acquital thingy? The judge denied there was a connection:
Simpson was convicted of 12 counts in relation to the botched raid in October, 13 years to the day he was dramatically acquitted of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles.

The judge stressed that despite the fact many disagreed with the 1995 verdict, she accepted it and was not sentencing Simpson for what had happened "in his life previously in the criminal justice system" but solely for the events that took place in Las Vegas.
Uh-huh ... riiiight... And while right and left-leaning talk radio are on fire over the story, O.J. is at this stage, more a pathetic figure than a menacing one. And given the lack of credibility of some of the witnesses against him, and the all-white jury that convicted him, I wouldn't be surprised if his sentence was reduced on appeal. Still, for a day at least, non-Black America is cheering (and black America mostly doesn't care anymore.) Video:

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posted by JReid @ 4:46 PM  
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
To do list: prank call Ileana, stat

This is what happens when you try too hard not to be Sarah Palin:
On Wednesday, the Republican congresswoman got a call from President-elect Barack Obama, didn't believe it was him, and hung up on him. Twice.

According to Ros-Lehtinen's flack Alex Cruz, the congresswoman received the call on her cell phone from a Chicago-based number and an aide informed her that Obama wanted to speak to her. When Obama introduced himself, Ros-Lehtinen cut him off and said, "I'm sorry but I think this is a joke from one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks." Then she hung up.

Moments later, Obama tried again, this time through his soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

"Ileana, I cannot believe you hung up on the President-Elect," Emanuel said. And then--yes, you know what's coming--she hung up on Emanuel saying she "didn't believe the call was legitimate."

A short time later, Ros-Lehtinen received an urgent call from Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who informed her that she indeed hung up on Obama.

So, Obama tried again and this time he was successful. (Phew!)

"It is very funny that you have twice hung up on me," Obama said. Ros Lehtinen responded by telling Obama that radio stations in South Florida always make these sorts of jokes. Obama said similar pranksters reside in Chi-town.

"You are either very gracious to reach out in such a bipartisan manner or had run out of folks to call if you are truly calling me and Saturday Night Live could use a good Obama impersonator like you," Ros-Lehtinen joked with the president-elect.


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posted by JReid @ 7:37 PM  
Monday, November 10, 2008
Morning 'doh!'
Joe Scarborough dropped the F-bomb this morning, to the horror delight of his co-host and panel, which included Jay Carney, Mike Barnacle, Chuck Todd and our favorite Sarah Palin devotee, Mika Brzezinski. Scarborough was making a point about Rahm Emanuel, who will be chief of staff in the Obama White House. Chuck Todd had just finished explaining that Emanuel's main job may be reining in Nancy Pelosi and other House members on the left, to look out for the interests of some 50-55 House members who won in red or swing districts. Here's how Joe responded:
JOE: And Mike Barnacle, also, the nature of this campaign has really been the steady nature of Barack Obama, the steady nature of David Axelrod, the not-so-steady nature of Robert Gibbs, only because he went to Auburn. I mean these are good, decent, steady men, who don't go around flipping people off or yelling "f*** you"at the top of their lungs."
At that point, the split screen was showing Mike Barnacle's face, and his eyes and mouth were abut equally wide open. Joe, however, kept on humming.

"You missed the Jay Carney story earlier," said Joe.

No, Joe. You missed the fact that there is no seven second delay in live televison. At least not yet.

After a lot of hemming and hawing on-air, Joe's wife sent a two word text message response to her husband's verbal profligacy: "oh my."

Oh my, indeed. Joe quickly apologized, and then apologized again. All in all, great television (sorry, FCC!)

Update: Here's the video:


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posted by JReid @ 8:26 AM  
Monday, May 12, 2008
Chinese quake kills thousands
Added to the Burma disaster: a killer quake in China's Sichuan province.


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posted by JReid @ 4:33 PM  
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Death toll in Burma could reach 100,000
Chilling new numbers following that killer cyclone.


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posted by JReid @ 3:02 PM  
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Burning in Belgrade
Huge crowds (hundreds of thousands of people) are protest-rioting in Belgrade, Serbia, reacting to Kosovo declaring independence. The protests are being stoked by Servian political leaders, and much of the ire is directed against the U.S:
PM Vojislav Kostunica told the crowds that Kosovo would belong to the Serbian people "as long as we live".

Meanwhile several hundred protesters attacked and broke into the city's US embassy, where flames were seen.

One protester is reported to have climbed onto the first floor and ripped the US flag from its pole. The building is currently closed.
Gen. Wesley Clark was just on MSNBC explaining some of the history that preceded today's violence (Col. Jack Jacobs went all the way back to World War I, which started because of Serbia, too,) and both analysts see major Russian fingerprints on the conflagration in the last vestige of Yugoslavia. Ethnic Serbs comprise about 10 percent of the Kosovar population, with the vast majority being Albanian (and Muslim.)

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posted by JReid @ 1:53 PM  
Friday, November 30, 2007
Arrests in Taylor homicide
The arrest of two very young men -- aged 19 and 21 -- and the police search for a third suspect who's just 17, caps the tragedy in the Sean Taylor homicide. The killers apparently were a few young thugs who knew Taylor's younger sister, and who came to Taylor's house for a birthday party. Apparently, you can't open your house to the hood. It's a lesson a lot of brothas who come into money, based on their talent, need to learn. And soon. From today's Miami Herald:

Relatives of Jason Mitchell, 19, told The Miami Herald that he attended a birthday bash for Sasha Johnson, who is Sean Taylor's sister. Johnson dates Christopher Devon Wardlow, 21, Mitchell's family said. His brother, Charles Wardlow, 18, was also being interviewed by Miami-Dade homicide detectives. No one has been charged.

An unidentified 17-year-old was also being questioned at Florida Department of Law Enforcement Headquarters in Fort Myers. Police were looking for two other men, but no one has been charged.

According to Scottie Mitchell, 19, Jason's twin brother, Johnson and Christopher Devon Wardlow invited Jason Mitchell to the birthday party within the past two months. He even did work around Taylor's house, Scottie Mitchell said: ``He cut his grass and everything.''
The Herald also has chilling details of the murder:

Police believe bragging about Taylor's wealth may have attracted the intruders to the NFL star's home. Taylor was shot early Monday by a burglar who surprised him in the bedroom of his Palmetto Bay home.

Taylor wielded a machete as he tried to protect his fiancée, Jackie Garcia, and their 18-month-old baby girl. The two were hiding under the covers as Taylor was shot.

One bullet pierced the wall. The other struck Taylor in the groin, severing his femoral artery and causing massive blood loss. He died at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

It's a tragic story, and one that a lot of young men launching lucrative sports and entertainment careers should pay attention to. Why do you think so many rappers live in the freaking Hamptons???

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posted by JReid @ 8:24 PM  
The I (heart) Hagel reader: les incompetents
Damn, I love Chuck Hagel! My favorite Republican lawmaker (and a man who should be running for president) is at it again, calling out the Bushies in no uncertain terms:
"This is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen personally or ever read about," the always blunt and frequently quotable Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said yesterday during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"This administration in my opinion has been as unprepared as any administration I'm aware of," Hagel added, "not only the ones that I have been somehow connected to and that's been every administration -- either I've been in Washington or worked within an administration or Congress or some way dealing with them since the first Nixon administration. I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus -- almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade. ...

"And you know, I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp. Every poll in the world showed 90% of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America. They squandered a tremendous amount of opportunity."

Hagel, who toyed with the idea of running for president himself, also said:

He would be open to the idea of either working in a Democratic administration or even running as the vice presidential nominee on a Democratic ticket -- though, he conceded, "I probably won't have to worry about it" because he's unlikely to be asked.

"If there was an area that I thought I could make a difference and influence policy, leadership, outcome ... then I would entertain" those possibilities, Hagel said. ...
Don't count on not being asked, Chuck. You're one of the few clear-thinking, independent-minded Republicans in Congress, and one of only a handful of people who truly embody the term "Senator" -- quite the opposite of the kow-towing, royal boot-licking Joe Liebermans around you. If you ran for president, I would seriously consider crossing political lines to support you.

The full transcript of Hagel's remarks can be found on the CFR website.

Previous I (heart) Hagel readers:

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posted by JReid @ 6:12 PM  
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Way to go
When you get to be a certain age, sometimes its best to leave the commentary to your memoirs. Memoirs, you can edit.

James Watson, who headed the U.S. part of the Human Genome Project, and who is credited with discovering the DNA double-helix, has retired.
Dr. Watson, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for describing the double-helix structure of DNA, and later headed the American government’s part in the international Human Genome Project, was quoted in The Times of London last week as suggesting that, overall, people of African descent are not as intelligent as people of European descent. In the ensuing uproar, he issued a statement apologizing “unreservedly” for the comments, adding “there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

But Dr. Watson, who has a reputation for making sometimes incendiary off-the-cuff remarks, did not say he had been misquoted.
Editing, old fellow ... editing... Watson's statement upon his retirement. His flight from Britain is documented here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:44 PM  
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The verbal hit list, take one
Dan Rather to CBS: "Take a $70 million lawsuit in your backside!"

Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama, regarding Barack's failure to get on the bus to Jena: "turn in your Black card!"

U.S. officials say "hell now, you won't go" ... to Ground Zero, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...

Americans to Congress: "we hate you" (and your little president, too...)

The Pope to Condi Rice: "I'll get back to you on that meeting..." not... sorry but I've got to give this bit to you:
Pope Benedict XVI refused to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August, saying he was on holiday, an Italian newspaper reported Wednesday.
Rice "made it known to the Vatican that she absolutely had to meet the pope" to boost her diplomatic "credit" ahead of a trip to the Middle East, the Corriere della Sera daily reported without citing its sources.

She was hoping to meet the pontiff at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo at the beginning of August, it said.

"'The pope is on holiday' was the official response," the paper said.

It said the reply "illustrated the divergence of view" between the Vatican and the White House about the "initiatives of the Bush administration in the Middle East."
Oh, Condi, you pathetic little dear ... at least you can pick up some fabulous shoes while in Italy...

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posted by JReid @ 8:18 PM  
Quick take headlines: the war on terra
Let's start with Iraq. The government there has moved to expel the mercenary contrator firm Blackwater USA from their country, following a shooting incident that killed eight Iraqis. Now, the scoop is that such an expulsion could complicate any plan to pull U.S. troops out of that country.

Closer to home, the Liberty City Seven trial is under way, with jury selection having started yesterday. We spoke with the attorney for one of the men on the show this morning, and I'll be watching this one. In my opinion, this is as clear cut a case of government railroading in order to prove that there really is a war on terror (requiring us all to be surveilled) as I've ever seen.

What's hot on the blogs? Taser Guy (of course, it all happened in FLORIDA!) He's out of jail now, but some people -- myself included -- are asking: why the hell didn't John Kerry stop talking and do something??? Meanwhile, the wingers, including Drudge and Breitbart, are on the war path against Andrew Meyer. The hot phrase of the day: "Don't tase me bro!"

Why won't the major GOP presidential candidates debate in front of a Black audience at Morgan State? The debate will be broadcast live on PBS and hosted by Tavis Smiley, and now Republicans are starting to worry that their party appears not to be interested in pursuing the Black vote. Cornel West? Please advise.

And finally ... it's one thing not to believe in evolution ... that's retrograde enough. But to not be sure whether the world is flat or round? Damn!

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posted by JReid @ 9:43 AM  
Friday, September 07, 2007
Three things that begin with "O"
Today's theme: three things that start with the letter "O" ...

Thing 1 that starts with "O": Osama bin Laden! Supposedly, he's back, and advertising a new video release, timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Yeah, right. Like he hasn't been dead for like, 12 years... So I wonder how long it will take for that video to wind up in a Rudy Giuliani commercial? ... or a Bush administration secret briefing to select members of Congress on a brand new warrentless surveillance program? And which way will the media go on the story: "Bin Laden still free after six years" ... or ... "Terror threat still acute! Vote Republican!"

Thing 2 that starts with "O": Osama bin Laden! ... but not the real one. This time it's an Australian comedian dressed like bin Laden who managed to get past President Bush's crack security team during Bush's visit to an economic summit in Australia. So let me get this straight: we're facing a dire ongoing threat of terrorism from al-Qaida, which is led by Osama bin Laden, but the threat hasn't prompted the POTUS' security team to protect him from Osama ... in a motorcade? Well that's interesting.

Thing #3 that starts with "O": Oprah! ... and another: "Obama!" (hey, that's FOUR things that start with "O"...) Apparently, the queen of all media, is taking her endorsement of Barack Obama a step further. Maybe, two steps. First she's throwing a major fundraiser for him -- star studded and priced at $2,300 a ticket. And second, she may actually be taking a larger role in his campaign. CNN has it this way:
It remains to be seen if the popular talk show host's role may go beyond raising money from her Hollywood friends, but the prospect of seeing Winfrey in campaign commercials or on the stump is already causing widespread speculation on the effect she may have. Watch how Winfrey could boost Obama

"I think what Oprah can do is potentially bring out the congregants of the church of Oprah," Marty Kaplan, a communications professor at the University of Southern California, tells CNN. "She is a charismatic leader of a lay congregation."

"People buy books when she tells them to. They will watch her shows, and buy her magazines when she asks them to," Kaplan added. "So the question is, are enough of them willing to follow her lead not with a consumer good, but with a ballot cast?"

Moreover, Kaplan says, Winfrey's core audience is women, and her endorsement could help Obama compete with his chief presidential rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, for women's votes.

"One of his campaign officials in California told me Oprah is everything," Kaplan added. "So they have high hopes for the endorsement."

Obama and Winfrey's close relationship may also increase the chance she will be willing to take a visible role in the campaign.

"They met way back here in Chicago in the African-American social circuit back in, I believe, either the late 1990s or around 2000 when he was running for Congress," David Mendell, an Obama biographer tells CNN.
Could this be a threat to Hillary? Time will tell.

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posted by JReid @ 7:22 AM  
Friday, August 17, 2007
Mr. Mueller strikes again
FBI Director Robert Mueller's notes following the now infamous March 2004 visit to the bedside of then-ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft provide fresh contradictions between Mueller's and then-acting A.G. James Comey's accounts of the "Godfather"-esque attempt to strong arm a sick man into Okaying an illegal domestic wiretapping program, and the "recollection" of Alberto Gonzales. The Washington Post reports:
Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday.

One of Mueller's entries in five pages of a daily log pertaining to the dispute also indicated that Ashcroft's deputy was so concerned about undue pressure by Gonzales and other White House aides for the attorney general to back the wiretapping program that the deputy asked Mueller to bar anyone other than relatives from later entering Ashcroft's hospital room.

Mueller's description of Ashcroft's physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.

"Saw AG," Mueller writes in his notes for 8:10 p.m. on March 10, 2004, only minutes after Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had visited Ashcroft. "Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."

The typewritten notes, heavily censored before being turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, provide further insight into a tumultuous but secret legal battle that gripped the Justice Department and the White House in March 2004, after Justice lawyers determined that parts of the warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency were illegal.

Although Mueller did not directly witness the exchange between Ashcroft, Gonzales and Card, his notes recounted Comey's personal statement that Ashcroft at the outset said that "he was in no condition to decide issues." Ashcroft also told the two men he supported his deputy's position on the secret program, Mueller said Comey told him.

Comey had precipitated the confrontation by informing the White House days earlier that the Justice Department would not approve the wiretapping program's continuation in its present form. Gonzales and Card then decided to see if they could get Ashcroft to sign a certification that it was legal.

After the meeting concluded without success, the Bush administration decided to proceed with the program anyway. But Comey, Mueller and half a dozen or so other Justice Department officials threatened to resign if it was not changed. The standoff was averted after President Bush agreed to make changes, Mueller and others have testified, but the changes have never been described.

In his notes, Mueller recounts Comey's statement that Ashcroft complained to Gonzales and Card at the hospital about being "barred" from obtaining "the advice he needed" about the NSA program because of "strict compartmentalization rules" set by the White House. Although Ashcroft, as attorney general, had been fully briefed about the program, many of his senior legal advisers were not allowed to know about it, officials said.

Gonzales was White House counsel at the time of the hospital visit and replaced Ashcroft as attorney general in 2005. "We never had any intent to ask anything of him if we did not feel that he was competent," Gonzales testified, adding later: "Mr. Ashcroft talked about the legal issues in a lucid form, as I've heard him talk about legal issues in the White House."...
Drip ... drip ... drip ... can anyone argue with any credibility that we have a functioning office of attorney general at the moment, while it's being helmed by a perjurer?

Mueller's notes were released by the House Judiciary Committee, may God bless them. Whether they'll actually do anything about Gonzales' perjury is another matter.


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posted by JReid @ 8:49 AM  
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Fox News by any other name
No one really expects The Drudge Report, or any of its winger accolytes, to deliver the actual news. But this kind of blatant inaccuracy is bad, even for Matt and friends. Today, Drudge linked to his favorite "news" source, champion headline linker and right wing pundit Andrew Breitbart's self-titled link portal. The headline: US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring: poll

The story is from AFP, and it goes like this:
More than half of Americans say US news organizations are politically biased, inaccurate, and don't care about the people they report on, a poll published Thursday showed.

And poll respondents who use the Internet as their main source of news -- roughly one quarter of all Americans -- were even harsher with their criticism, the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said.

More than two-thirds of the Internet users said they felt that news organizations don't care about the people they report on; 59 percent said their reporting was inaccurate; and 64 percent they were politically biased.

More than half -- 53 percent -- of Internet users also faulted the news organizations for "failing to stand up for America".
Sounds like straight reporting, yeah? Well, maybe not.

Heading over to the actual Pew Poll, we find something slightly different.

It turns out that the public as a whole has an overwhelmingly positive view of the news media, with 78% viewing local TV news favorably, 75% feeling the same way about cable TV news, 71% for network news, 78% for daily newspapers and 60% for national newspapers.

As for perceptions of bias, the percentage of Americans saying that the news media as a whole is moral has dropped from 54% to 46% between 1985 and 2007, the percentage saying the media "protects democracy" has dropped from 54% to 44% in that time, with a minority of 36% saying they "hurt democracy" and 20% saying they don't know ... and 66% now saying the media is "highly professional", down from 72% in 1985 and versus just 22% who now say the media are "not professional." Where the Breitbart headline almost sounds coherent is in the areas of factuality and bias: 30% of respondents to the Pew poll said the media "gets the facts straight" versus 53% who say stories are often inaccuate. Back in '85, the numbers were 55% for factuality and 34% for frequent error. That is a problem for the media, which has been subject to various "gotchas" in recent years, from everything from blogswarms to in-house liars like Jayson Blair.

And on the subject of bias, just 31% of respondentss said the media are "careful to avoid bias," versus 55% who called the media politically biased. In 1985, however, those numbers weren't much different: then, 36% said the media were careful to avoid bias, versus 45% who detected bias. In other words, the percentage of doubters, down from 19% to 14%, has declined, and the percentage of those who are certain that the media is out to trick them, has climbed, though the impact on those who consider the media honest is almost within the margin of error.

And what accounts for the increased certainty of bias? According to the poll, two things: the Internet, and Fox News.

Respondents who get most of their news from the 'net scored the highest in the poll in terms of perceiving bias in the news. Both on the left and the right, people who see the media as hopelessly tilted to one political side or another, have in many cases turned to getting most of their news online, sussing out information for themselves rather than relying on the talking heads. These folks tend to be younger, not nursed on the three major networks' nightly news, and highly skeptical of the official story presented by the often lap-dog press (have I revealed too much...?)

According to the Pew analysts:
People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical of press performance. As many as 38% of those who rely mostly on the internet for news say they have an unfavorable opinion of cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, compared with 25% of the public overall, and just 17% of television news viewers.

The internet news audience is particularly likely to criticize news organizations for their lack of empathy, their failure to "stand up for America," and political bias. Roughly two-thirds (68%) of those who get most of their news from the internet say that news organizations do not care about the people they report on, and 53% believe that news organizations are too critical of America. By comparison, smaller percentages of the general public fault the press for not caring about people they report on (53%), and being too critical of America (43%).

Indeed. But the even bigger drag on the poll in terms of perceptions of the media is Fox News. It has fed an almost hysterical revulsion for the "mainstream media," from the New York Times to CNN, and has led many Republicans to conclude that they -- and thus, America -- are under seminal attack by the left wing hordes of the press. Say the Pew researchers:
Across every major news source, Democrats offer more favorable assessments than do independents or Republicans. The partisan divide is smallest when it comes to local TV news, which 83% of Democrats rate favorably along with 76% of Republicans. The differences are greatest for major national newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Fully 79% of Democrats rate these newspapers favorably compared with just 41% of Republicans, based on those able to rate them.

While Republicans have long been more skeptical than Democrats about major media sources, the magnitude of the difference is a relatively recent phenomenon. In Pew's first measure of media favorability in 1985, there were modest differences of opinion across party lines.
And as for the "Foxified viewers" as described in the poll:
those who cite the Fox News Channel as their primary source of news stand out among the TV news audience for their negative evaluations of news organizations' practices. Fully 63% of Americans who count Fox as their main news source say news stories are often inaccurate – a view held by fewer than half of those who cite CNN (46%) or network news (41%) as their main source.

Similarly, Fox viewers are far more likely to say the press is too critical of America (52% vs. 36% of CNN viewers and 29% of network news viewers). And the Fox News Channel audience gives starkly lower ratings to network news programs and national newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
And why do Fox viewers feel so put upon?
Politics plays a large part in these assessments – Republicans outnumber Democrats by two-to-one (43% to 21%) among the core Fox News Channel audience, while there are far more Democrats than Republicans among CNN's viewers (43% Democrat, 22% Republican) and network news viewers (41% Democrat, 24% Republican).
It's no wonder Roger Ailes can double as the network head and Rudy Giuliani's principal advisor. More from the poll:
Not surprisingly, the Fox News Channel audience is far more likely to say that news organizations have been unfair in their coverage of George W. Bush (49%) than those who cite CNN (19%) or network news (22%) as their main news source.

Further analysis of the data shows that being a Republican and a Fox viewer are related to negative opinions of the mainstream media. The overlapping impact of these two factors can most clearly be seen in the favorability ratings of network TV news, major national newspapers, and the daily newspapers that respondents are most familiar with. For all three, Republicans who count Fox as their main news source are considerably more critical than Republicans who rely on other sources. For example, fully 71% of Fox News Republicans hold an unfavorable opinion of major national newspapers, compared with 52% of Republicans who use other sources, and 33% of those who are not Republicans.
Of course, none of that makes it into Breitbart's news churner, let alone Drudge's.

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posted by JReid @ 9:42 PM  
Monday, July 30, 2007
Roberts' fall was a seizure
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is in the hospital. The seizure is from an unknown cause...

Update: More details have been released about Chief Justice Roberts' seizure:
St. George Ambulance responded to a call at about 2 p.m. Monday of a man who had fallen 5 to 10 feet and landed on a dock, hitting the back of his head. The patient was ashen and was foaming at the mouth. National news report quotes a Supreme Court spokeswoman as saying that Roberts was conscious the entire time of the incident. That spokeswoman has not returned a telephone call to the newspaper.

PBMC issued a statement at about 7 p.m., saying that Roberts was being kept overnight as a precaution and was recovered. He suffered some minor scrapes from the fall, the hospital stated. A comprehensive neurological examination was administered to the chief justice and the seizure was determined to be a benign one, the hospital stated. The chief justice suffered a similar seizure in 1993.

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posted by JReid @ 7:43 PM  
Monday, July 09, 2007
Quick take headlines: to Panama and beyond!
Supporters of Manuel Noriega are anticipating his possible release from a Miami prison in September ... but all I want to know is whether or not he was a CIA informant...

Hearing alert! The Senate judiciary committee plans to call Patrick Fitzgerald to testify in their investigation of Libby commutationgate.

Inside the neoconservative mind: Bill Kristol likes George W. Bush more when he's Machiavellian. And he loves it when the president goes to the tired Clinton well for cover for his own disgraceful actions. Kristol's explanation of the timing of Bush's Libby rescue: he did it because the Clintons were in Iowa, and he wanted to distract the media into talking about them, and about Bill's pardons. And Kristol says, that's a good thing...

I can't think of a more horrible crime. A gang of teenaged hoodlums ambush and gang rape a woman -- a mom -- and then force her 12-year-old son to join in, at gunpoint. The two out of about 10 masked, gun-wielding monsters that Palm Beach, Florida police have caught? They're aged 16, and 14. Yep. 14. Unbegoddamnedlievable. Meanwhile, the father of one of the teens, who apparently come from the requisite screwed up backgrounds, is standing by his boy. Yeah. Figures. Blah blah blah... send them to jail for life...

Meanwhile, violence in Baghdad hits a new high ... or a new low... 100 dead in a single suicide bombing this weekend.

On the campaign front, Nixon stooge Fred Thompson comes down to bore the young people of South Florida... I wonder how the young consevatives will feel about Freddie's past lobbying in favor of abortion rights...?

Rudy gets jeered over his anti-flat tax stance ...

And Barack Obama's campaign has its own private Watergate break-in.

...and on airplane, somewhere high above Studio City, it's Clay Aiken, you little bitch...

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posted by JReid @ 7:07 AM  
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Quick take headlines: Thursday as Monday
What a strange thing it is to have a day off in the middle of the week ... it's enough to make Thursday feel like a Monday. Oh well ... here's what-a-gwan:


Al Gore to Tipper: "Well, at least the boy was in a Prius..." (after his son gets pinched for possession of marijuana, Xanax, Adderol, Soma and more. And just days before daddy's 7-7-07 global warming concert? Duuuude...

Venus Williams to Maria Sharapova: "Thwak!"

Fort Lauderdale's mayor to gay men: "No sex in the champagne room public restroom!" Cue the robot toilet!!!

Robert Novak to Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson: screw you.

Historian to Bush: you're no Harry Truman.

Close calls?

A man is arrested outside Barack Obama's hotel in Iowa holding an eight-inch knife. Scary, with shades of Bobby Kennedy, or a security detail overacting? I hope for the latter but fear the former is more on the money.


The British government says the idea that the eight doctors and others who were arrested in the recent attempts at creating 'splosions at Glasgow and London airports were al-Qaida isn't quite accurate... now THIS is al-Qaida, if you still believe they are the boogeyman the administration wants you to believe they are...

Not so smart?

Some Iraq war protesters are pulling a thoreau and withholding federal taxes. Good luck with that one...

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posted by JReid @ 9:01 AM  
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Quick take headlines: only in Miami edition
Only in Miami, take one: the head of the city's affordable housing agency shares the wealth -- doling out lucrative housing contracts to her felonious ex-husband. That and the no-bid contracts, and all we need down here is Haliburton.

Only in Miami, take two: the Mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, sees no evil. I guess he figures it's just par for the course. Then again, his friends are benefiting from the largesse, and Diaz has his own history to deal with:
Manuel C. Diaz, another Jeb Bush business associate, runs a commercial nursery with headquarters in Homestead, Florida. Manny Diaz's previous business sidekick, Charles Keating, Jr., is now sitting in a California prison. But during Keating's days at the helm of the $6 billion Lincoln Savings, Diaz became a Keating insider, confidant, and beneficiary. For example, in 1987, as federal regulators closed in on his crumbling empire, Keating instructed his attorneys to transfer a large chunk of prime Phoenix real estate to Diaz, for just $1. And right before filing for personal bankruptcy, Keating transferred his $2 million mansion on the island of Cat Cay in the Bahamas to Diaz.

At the same time Diaz was palling around with Keating, Jeb, then serving as Florida's secretary of commerce, arranged a private meeting for Diaz with Florida's Republican governor Bob Martinez. Promptly afterward, Diaz Farms landed a lucrative, $1.72 million, state-highway-landscaping contract -- despite the fact that Diaz had little prior highway-landscaping experience. This raised howls of protest and charges of political influence-peddling from other contractors. But state officials explained that the extraordinary speed in issuing the contract had occurred because the state was anxious to spruce up 113 miles of freeway for the coming visit of the pope.

Did Jeb know about Diaz's business association with Charles Keating? Did he have reason to believe Diaz was qualified for the Florida highway contract that he helped Diaz land? These are the kinds of detailed questions that the Florida chairman of the Bush re-election campaign refuses to answer. [Source: Mother Jones, 9/1/92]
Only in Miami, take three: the lieutenant governor gets his blog on, deleting unflattering facts about ... the lieutenant governor.

Only in Miami, take four: the JFK geriatrics are tied to a disappeared Iranian:
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- As murder mysteries here go, few are as intriguing as the execution-style killing of an Iranian Muslim cleric with links to a key suspect in the alleged JFK airport bombing plot.

Mohamed Hassan Ibrahimi was abducted by two gunmen in April 2004. His body was found several weeks later, face down in a shallow grave. He had been shot twice in the head. His mouth was taped and his hands and feet were tied.

The homicide made a brief splash and then turned into a cold case over the next three years -- until earlier this month, when prosecutors in New York charged three Guyanese men and one Trinidadian with plotting to bomb the city's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Ibrahimi was a close friend of one of the men accused, Abdul Kadir, a former opposition member of Guyana's parliament. Ibrahimi received money from Iran and changed it at a currency exchange business where another of the accused, Abdel Nur, sometimes ran errands, and where a suspected al Qaeda member and former South Florida resident wanted by the FBI, Adnan el Shukrijumah, was spotted in 2003. The business' owner was slain last month.

Kadir, Nur and Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahiim are jailed in Trinidad pending U.S. extradition requests. The fourth man accused, Russell Defreitas, a Guyanese-born U.S. citizen, is being held in New York. Two of Kadir's sons were arrested in Guyana on Sunday on charges of illegal possession of ammunition.

At the time of Ibrahimi's disappearance and death, Guyana's Muslim organizations were quick to deny speculation that the case was linked to international terrorism or clashes between Shiites and Sunnis. Other speculation centered on a robbery attempt gone bad or a settling of business scores.


Acting Guyana Police Chief Henry Greene told The Miami Herald he would not speculate on who killed Ibrahimi or why.

''Initially, we felt it was a kidnapping. But there was no demand for a ransom,'' said Greene, who was head of criminal investigations at the time. ``We could not find a motive for the killing. Just another one of those strange killings.''

But the slaying was certainly of importance to the Iranian government. Four Iranian police officers and Tehran's ambassador in neighboring Venezuela came to ask about the case. Even television crews from Tehran turned up in this South American nation.

''We don't know if it was normal practice,'' Greene said of Iran's interest. ``It looked to me like there was a national interest.'' ...

Only in Miami, take five: Rush Limbaugh, talent on loan by the devil, winds up in the center of the hurricane ... coverage ...

It must be the sunshine.

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posted by JReid @ 11:00 AM  
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Those darned media narratives
The media operates off of broad narratives, which are usually only belatedly shaken, and then, only by major explosions of fact. For example, even as his poll numbers continued to decline throughout 2004, President Bush was still routinely tagged as "a very popular president," with that line almost obligatory in any story about him. Other narratives that became common, even when common sense dictated otherwise included:

"John McCain is a maverick!" -- even as he became more slavishly devoted to the president and more cagey with the media ...

"The Bush administration is the most disciplined in recent history!" -- even as leaks continued to pour out of the White House and disarray was clearly evident in their policies, especially Iraq ...

"The Clinton administration was corrupt!" -- that used to be the narrative back in the 1990s, when fulminations over the Whitewater scandalette, in which no White House officials were indicted was whipped up into a serial story, while the more recent CIA leak scandal, in which the top aide to the vice president of the United States was both indicted and convicted, received only scant coverage. To add to the outrage, to this day, one major "liberal media" outlet -- CBS News -- has still declined to cover the firings of eight U.S. attorneys in unprecedented fashion by the Justice Department, and only MSNBC has bothered to delve into the larger implications regarding minority communities' right to vote.

"The Clintons are involved in a marriage of political convenience!" -- even though they have chosen to remain together, and are each other's only spouse, and despite the fact that their closest friends and associates insist that they truly are in love.

The Bush narrative was totally exploded with Hurricane Katrina, and since then, a new narrative has emerged: The Bush administration is in disarray, leaning toward incompetent. The media, therefore, has finally given itself permission to critique them. After 9/11, that permission was voluntarily withdrawn, and the "Bush is popular" narrative took over.

Let's try another, which still hasn't broken its stranglehold on the mainstream media elite:

"Rudy Giuliani is the hero of 9/11!" -- this one is the most irksome to me, because I lived in New York City under Giuliani's administration, and know him to have been less a heroic than a tyrannical and hated figure, loathed by most New Yorkers on September 10, 2001, yet given credit on that terrible day for being the only public official talking -- George W. Bush having scurried out of that Florida classroom to go into hiding. Beside the fact that any other mayor would have, and should have, done the same thing, and the fact that the mayors of Washington D.C. and Shanksville, PA did, Giuliani was tagged, not only "America's mayor," but someone considered instantly qualified to be president of the United States -- with "credibility on the war on terror" to boot -- despite never having served in the military, led a single aspect of the actual war on terror, and despite having not an ounce of foreign policy experience. What's the disconnect, here? Add to that that the likes of Chris Matthews on MSNBC has continued to obsess over the Clinton marriage, but will not discuss the relationship "issues" inherent in the multiple Giuliani marriages, even dismissing Gloria Borger this weekend on his "Chris Matthews show" on NBC with a "nobody's perfect" side swipe when she tried to counter his Clinton marriage obsession by asking who on the Republican side would serve as the family values candidate, thrice married Rudy...???

But I digress.

Back to the MSM's narrative building. Witness a recent story about Giuliani -- who is loathed by NYC firefighters for his calousness after 9/11 in not allowing sufficient time for the bodies of their brothers to be retrieved from the wreckage of the Twin Towers -- being heckled by families of those same firefighters. The story appeared in an obscure New York newspaper, and notedly, not in Giuliani's home paper, the New York Times, which on the same day chose to run the feel-good Rudy headline: To Temper Image, Giuliani Trades Growl for Smile. How nice. Here's the story from the Long Island Press:

Rudy Giuliani’s campaign fundraising was marred by critical questions on Tuesday, as reporters and protesters demanded answers about his role in the Sept. 11, 2001 proceedings.

During Giuliani’s visit to City Island in the Bronx Tuesday morning, one stop in his visit to four of the five New York City boroughs, he was accused by a radical group of being one of the “criminals of 9/11.”

After conversing with a reporter outside the Sea Shore restaurant, Giuliani was approached by a woman claiming to be a relative of a firefighter who perished when the World Trade Center towers fell in the Sept. 11 attacks. The woman wanted to know why Giuliani did not try to stop police and firefighters from attempting rescue. She added that he allegedly told Peter Jennings the towers would not collapse but knew they would, thus sending rescue workers to their deaths. A young man from the same group voiced similar accusations, cutting Giuliani off when he tried to correct the woman. ...
Okay, let's break that down. Later in the story, they point out who the "radical group" was: the Skyscraper Safety Campaign. Here's what the group says on its website:

The Skyscraper Safety Campaign, (SSC), is a project of parents and relatives who lost loved ones in the September 11th attack at the World Trade Center. While condemning the terrorists' attack, the campaign is dedicated to finding out why and how the WTC collapsed, to ensuring that quality, safety and security are priorities in rebuilding lower Manhattan and to reforming New York City building codes. SSC represents several hundred family members of firefighters and other victims who since October 2001 have pressed for an independent federal investigation to examine the interrelated events that lead to the WTC disaster, identify failures that were preventable, and make specific recommendations for improved building codes, regulations and procedures.

On September 11, Christian Regenhard, a 28-year old firefighter, was killed in the rescue effort at the WTC. His mother, Sally Regenhard, began asking questions convinced that tower construction and fire safety had been inadequate. Unable to get answers from the agencies involved, she began uniting widows and parents to form the Skyscraper Safety Campaign and reached out to fire engineering experts. At a press conference at City Hall, she presented a petition signed by relatives of WTC victims and firefighters calling for "an independent federal panel to study the building construction, the integrity of the materials used and all the conditions that combined to cause the tragedy." SSC also organized delegations to congressional hearings in Washington, D.C. In June 2002, a federal investigation was launched to examine weaknesses in the WTC, evaluate fire-prevention systems and fire department response.

Joining Sally in the SSC is Co-chair Monica Gabrielle, who lost her husband Richard, an employee of AON Corp., WTC2/103floor. He was last seen alive, waiting to be rescued, on the 78th Floor of Tower 2. Both Christian and Richard have not been recovered.
So the group isn't all that radical, and they're not "claiming" to be related to New York City firefighters, they ARE related to New York City firefighters. But of course, if they are questioning the heroism and purity of America's mayor, they must be either radical, liars, or insane. Oh, and check out their PhD filled board of directors. Muy radical...

WNBC were kind enough to call the "radicals" "activists" instead. Thanks, guys.

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posted by JReid @ 6:53 AM  
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Quick take headlines: Wednesdays in the park with Dick
Dick Cheney goes to Baghdad ... shopping spree not included. Today's toll so far? Three more U.S. troops killed, more car bombings ... you know, stuff that proves the surge is working.

An air raid in Afghanistan is causing controversy.

An overturned, overcrowded boat loaded with Haitian migrants becomes an international incident. And the they said, they said over whether the boat was being towed, or being rammed, by the Turks and Caicos Navy and/or police, at the time it sunk sending 61 people to their deaths by sharks or drowning, has drawn in the U.S. Coast Guard. Will this incident impact the debate over Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the U.S.? Probably not. But the conversation needs to be had.

Cult leader / civic angel Yahweh bin Yahweh has died of cancer at the age of 71. Probably my funniest co-worker, Edgar, just asked "how could God die of cancer?" Christopher Hitchens beware.

...and Barack Obama has a bit of a bad verbal day. It happens.

Over in La Republique Francaise, Nikolas Sarkozy fiddles while Paris burns. Or ... can't a brother get a vaycay?

By the way, have you done Bill Clinton's crossword? You should. Here it is...

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posted by JReid @ 9:19 AM  
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Quick take headlines: The Tuesday lineup
Somoe 35,000 troops get their orders: prepare to be deployed to Iraq.

Six people are arrested in an alleged plot to attack Fort Dix.

On the diplomatic front, George W. Bush probably won't getting any invites to vacation at Bal Moral...

Over to Florida: seal's travel.

Anna Nicole's Broward judge says, "sorry 'bout that weed!"

In politics, Rudy Giuliani begins to feel the tug of gravity.

... Fred Thompson begins to look a bit less conservative.

... vulnerable Pols may finally be beginning to see the danger ahead on Iraq. The result: George W. Bush may have a deadline on his hands after all. So what to do: Send Dick Cheney to the Middle East! Maybe he can become a dictator of his very own country and leave ours alone...

Paul Wolfowits hears the clock ticking, and sticks his fingers in his ears. But the scandal over his girlfriend could severely damage the World Bank.

On the flip side, the Clinton Foundation does good works, lowering the cost of AIDS drugs in the developing world.

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posted by JReid @ 12:06 PM  
Friday, April 27, 2007
Worst person in the world

This might be the most hated man in America (George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, feel free to thank your lucky stars.)

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posted by JReid @ 4:07 PM  
The Friday (not so) funnies
Miami-Dade's housing crisis continues, with a little shantytown having become a central pivot point. That shantytown burned down this week. Now the activists involved are planning their next move. We talked with Max Rameau, the lead activist, this morning.

Speaking of burning down the house, Don Imus' fired producer Bernard McGuirk says he didn't get the memo on dem nappy headed hos...

That drag thing? Living with that gay couple when Donna Hanover kicked him out for cheating? Forget all that. Rudy Giuliani is totally opposed to gay civil unions. No, really. Seriously. I mean, like, really opposed...

During the Democratic debates last night, the issue of South Carolina's continued use of the Confederate flag came up. It was handled deftly by both Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who pointed out that the reason the debate was being held at South Carolina State was that James Clyburn, and alumnus of the historically Black college invited them, despite the NAACP's flag-orignated tourism ban. Obama, for his point, said the flag belongs in a museum, not the capitol.

Apparently, some Black guy was outside the debates all dressed up in Confederate regalia. I wonder if it was this guy... and he's got a book... which led me to wonder, just what about those alleged Black Confederate soldiers? I suspect that few, if any, were really believers in the Confederate cause.

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posted by JReid @ 8:02 AM  
Thursday, April 26, 2007
On the radar
Those Rovian political briefings at 15 federal agencies to discuss the political prospects of key Republicans, and how your taxpayer dollars could be used to help them out. Name to watch: Lorita Doan.

George Tenet's historical rewrite. Can he escape being the fall guy for Iraq? No. Can he revive his reputation? What reputation? Will scads of people tune in to 60 Minutes on Sunday to hear his rant? Yep. As ABC News' online headline writers put it for the homepage, "now he tells us..."

The newly passed war funding bills on Iraq and the coming veto. The bills are not as futile as the veto threat suggests.

On tonight's debates, the base can call it for Obama all they want. The conventional wisdom among the press corps out of this debate will be that Hillary Clinton won tonight's debate. She seemed the most prepared and the most presidential, and she's the only one who responded to the question on an al-Qaida attack with an answer that makes political sense. Update: The National Review's Byron York agrees, and says the number two and three candidates did themselves no favors with securityphobic Republicans.

Also on the debates, it didn't resonate immediately, but look for John Edwards' rejection of the idea of a "war on terror" to begin bubbling up online, and among the right wingery (Limbaugh is already slamming his 12 second brain fart on who his moral leader is.) Edwards is running hard to the left, which is why his failure to raise his hand in answer to the question of whether there is a GWOT, was joined only by Dennis Kucinich and Kooky Mike Gravel.

McCain's pivot. He skipped the vote on the timetables bill, and has now called both for Alberto Gonzales to step down, and now, called the Iraq war "a great tragedy." Take one giant step away from the Bushies...

Condi Rice signals that she may fight the Democrats on their subpoena of her. This could set up a seminal showdown.

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posted by JReid @ 9:58 PM  
Friday, April 20, 2007
Quick take headlines: Impeach me, my sweet impeachable you
RawStory says it has an anonymous source on Capitol Hill who says ultra-long shot presidential candidate, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, will introduce articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney next Wednesday. The source reportedly tells Raw that Kucinich delayed the introduction of the articles out of respect to the Virginia Tech families. Would such articles go anywhere, when Mother has said she ain't havin' no stinkin' impeachment talk? We shall see...

A pioneer in not only Miami, but also the entire southeastern United States, died this week. Mr. White, as everyone called him, desegregated the Miami Police Department three years before Jackie Robinson desegregated baseball. His funeral is today at noon.

Voted off or not, Sanjaya clearly has a big -- even if time limited -- career ahead of him in the immediate future. His sister likely does too. Next stop, Nickelodeon, with a quick detour at the White House. Seriously.

Harry Reid states the obvious on Iraq, and catches hell from the right...

The U.S. can't abide terrorists, except in Miami...

The good news: Rapper Cam'Ron has a code of ethics. The bad news: it includes not "snitching" on the serial killer next door...

The religious wing nuts who brought you protests at the funerals of our Iraq war dead now plans to bring its particular brand of lunacy to the Virginia Tech students' final ceremonies.

The owner of the online gun shop that sold Cho Seung Hui one of his two guns "feels terrible" about the killings... Here's thought: STOP SELLING GUNS OVER THE INTERNET TO INDIVIDUALS WTHOUT A GUN DEALER'S LICENSE! That way, you won't have to feel terrible ever again...

Irony alert! Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who jilted his wife for sordid sexual liasons with men, never bothering to tell her -- or his previous wife -- that he, in fact, isn't into women ... is now teaching ethics, law and leadership at Kean University. I'm thinking if I'm a Kean parent, I want my tuition money back.

And now, a word from President Bush:
"There are jobs Americans aren't doing. ... If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."

Makes you proud, doesn't he?

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posted by JReid @ 7:01 AM  
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Mind games
I suspect that trying to understand the mind of a serial killer is rather like trying to figure out the ingredients in a hot dog. You might be able to figure it out, but you probably don't want to know.

The media, and the psychiatric community is now pouring over the "multimedia manifesto" left behind by Cho Seung Hui, the VTech killer. Online, the hunt is still on for the derivation of the phrase "Ismail Ax," which was scrawled in red ink on one of his arms when he was found dead by suicide after the shooting.

One clue might be the package that was sent to NBC News, probably by Cho, between the first and second shootings. As BlogHero points out, it had an interesting return address:

So could we be reading the phrase backward? He appears to have made this second reference, not to "Ismail Ax" but to "A. Ishmael." I'm sure that will be the next highly googled phrase. Cho made references to "dying like Christ" in his video message.

More on the "manifesto" from NBC News:

It was mailed from Blacksburg at 9:01 a.m. the day of the shooting, minutes before he went on his second shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

What the nondescript package did contain was a printout of.pdf file titled “axishmiel”, a Cho’s 1,800-word manifesto broken up by the now famous photographs -- 43 total: 29 of them showing Cho with his weapons: the Glock 9mm automatic and the .22 caliber handgun as well as a hunting knife. But two images seemed incongruous: smiling portraits. The more appealing of the two was the first image shown in the manifesto. It was almost as if he wanted to show himself as non-threatening, as a good guy. Of the remaining 14, all but one were of the weapons, the other a photo of a blue sky.
NBC also delves into the timestamps, which say much about just how long this slaughter was planned:
But what was as revealing about the manifesto was the time and date the .pdf file was last modified: 7:24 a.m., April 16, minutes after he had shot and killed his first two victims, and nearly two hours before he went on his second rampage.

Beyond the .pdf file were two other files with time stamps hinting at just how long he had been thinking about the attacks: two Microsoft Word files, and a six-minute .avi file. The Word files were drafts of the two sections of the manifesto, which he had written earlier, one being last modified on April 13 at 3:45 p.m. and on April 15 at 8:22 a.m. The sole .avi file of him reading the manifesto, titled “letter1” was recorded even earlier, at 9:40 a.m. on April 10, a full six days before the massacre. ...
Back to "Ax Ismail," or "Ishmael," I did separate Google searches for Ax and Ishmael, and found one interesting thing. Cho was an english major, having switched from business. Wikipedia has the following on a book entitled "Ishmael," by Daniel Quinn:

The story begins with a newspaper ad: "Teacher seeks pupil, must have an earnest desire to save the world". A nameless character (who is identified in a later book as Alan Lomax) responds to the ad out of nostalgia. He seeks the teacher and finds himself in a room with a gorilla.

To the man's surprise he finds that the gorilla can communicate telepathically. At first baffled by this the man quickly learns the story of how the gorilla came to be this way and he accepts the gorilla, Ishmael, as his teacher. The novel continues from this point as a socratic dialogue between the man and Ishmael as they hash out what Ishmael refers to as "how things came to be this way" for mankind and the environment.

Ishmael begins by telling the man that his life, which began in the wild, was spent mostly in a zoo and a menagerie, and since had been spent in the gazebo of the man that extricated him from physical captivity. He tells his student that it was at the menagerie that he learned about human language and culture and began to think about things that he never would have pondered in the wild. Subsequently, Ishmael tells the man that his subject for this learning experience will be captivity, primarily the captivity of man under a civilizational system that forces him to exploit and destroy the world in order to live.

The narrator has a vague notion that he is living in some sort of captivity and being lied to in some way but he can not explain his feelings.

Ishmael uses the example of Nazi Germany as he attempts to show his student that the people of his culture are in much of the same situation. Either held captive with the mythology of being superior, or " an animal swept up in the stampede" of the captivity of those around them.

Before proceeding Ishmael lays some ground definitions for his student so they can be on the same page as they continue to discuss. He defines:

"Takers" as people often referred to as "civilized." Particularly, the culture born in an Agricultural Revolution that began about 10,000 years ago in the Near East; the culture of Ishmael's pupil "Leavers" as people of all other cultures; sometimes referred to as "primitive."

A "story" as an interrelation between the gods, man, and the Earth, with a beginning, middle, and end. To "enact" is to strive to make a story come true. A "culture" as a people who are enacting a story Ishmael proceeds to tease from his pupil the premises of the story being enacted by the Takers: that they are the pinnacle of evolution (or creation), that the world was made for man, and that man is here to conquer and rule the world. This rule is meant to bring about a paradise, as man increases his mastery of the world, however, he's always screwed it up because he is flawed. Man doesn't know how to live and never will because that knowledge is unobtainable. So, however hard he labors to save the world, he is just going to go on screwing it up.

Ishmael points out to his student that when the Takers decided there is something fundamentally wrong with humans, they took as evidence only their own culture's history- "They were looking at a half of one-percent of the evidence taken from a single culture-- Not a reasonable sample on which to base such a sweeping conclusion."

One more line:
Ishmael makes the point that this story of the Fall of Man, which the Takers have adopted as their own, was in fact developed by Leavers to explain the origin of the Takers. If it were of Taker origin, the story would be of liberating ascent, and instead of being forbidden to Adam, the fruit of the Tree would have been thrust upon him.
BTW, one expert is speculating that Cho was schizophrenic. Could he have internalized some fictional world, and manifest it in rage against the student body at Virginia Tech?

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posted by JReid @ 9:20 AM  
Quick take headlines: Maudlin Thursday
Baghdad faces its deadliest day since the start of the U.S. "surge." Somebody had better tell John McCain before he takes another stroll or says something stupid... The targets of the carnage were Shiits, this days after Moqtada al-Sadr pulled his people out of the Maliki government, after its failure to agree to a timetable on Iraq withdrawal.

Meanwhile, on this side of the world, Alberto Gonzales: It's your day! Gonzo's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee jumps off this afternoon. He's got a lot to answer for ...

Surprise! An anonymous group of Justice Department employees has blown the whistle on the Gonzo shop's political litmus tests for hiring. Unfortunately, this is hardly news coming out of this administration.
A former advisor to Ronald Reagan shreds the Bush administration on spending, adding that, he's not even sure Dubya and his father are blood relatives.

MSNBC takes full advantage of its Cho scoop, even as the chattering classes ask tough questions about whether to broadcast a clearly demented killer's manifesto, giving him the fame he sought.

TV Newser defends the network, and urges other members of the media to do the same. Some VTech family members are upset with the Peacock network. NBC faces the multimedia age.

Meanwhile, could a movie have influenced the VTech killer? Only because he was already sick...

Maybe it's part of the reaction to the massacre, but Florida has finally done something smart on gun control.

Art Teele, who famously killed himself in the lobby of the Miami Herald building, has been posthumously exonerated on at least one charge -- that he threatened a plain clothes police officer whom he thought was threatening his life. This was another case that caused the media to do a good bit of self-examination, not that it changed much that goes on in this 24 hour media environment.

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posted by JReid @ 7:49 AM  
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Ismail Ax
The blogosphere is buzzing with frenzied attempts to ferret out information about Cho Seung Hui, America's latest infamous mass murderer. Much of the focus currently is on the phrase "Ismail Ax," which Hui scrawled in red ink on his forearm sometime before he committed suicide by slaughter at Virginia Tech. That phrase is now a hit on Technorati, and I'm sure on Yahoo! and Google, too. News organizations are scrambling, too, even posting Facebook and MySpace pages trolling for information from anyone who might have known Hui. (The Chicago Tribune appears to have the hot hand at the moment...)

Surprise, surprise, the extremists on the right are taking this case to another (lower) level:
Right-wing reaction to the shootings: The National Review’s John Derbyshire asks, “[W]hy didn’t anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake–one of them reportedly a .22.” Right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel speculated that Cho
Seung-Hui, “who had been identified at that point only as a man of Asian descent, might be a ‘Paki’ Muslim and part of ‘a coordinated terrorist attack.’”

Look, Debbie, I made an internal pledge never to mention you again on this blog, because, frankly, I think you're a blithering idiot, and I like to comfort myself with the notion that no one with any sense actually listens to you, but that comment just begs for a response. First of all, dear, Hui was a naturalized American citizen permanent resident who had been in this country for 15 years. He went to high school in the red state of Virginia (Centreville). If he learned how to be an Islamofascist terrorist, he learned it there, not in "Paki"stan. And by the way, that little slur is beneath even you. ... Or then again, maybe it's just your speed.

And as for the Derbyshires and Nathaniel Blakes of the right ring world, I picture you sitting there in your bow ties and specs, probably about 120 pounds soaking wet and with the only fight experience in your life being the several times a week you were beaten up in elementary school for your lunch money, and can't help but snicker at the idea that you are calling out the men of Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, Europe takes a piece out of America's hide (sorry, Charlton Heston. They don't like you. They really don't like you.)


Eight years after Columbine, a familiar profile of a killer: angry, alone, depressed. Even his roommates didn't know him.

And Hui's parents are hospitalized, suffering from shock. But reports that they had attempted suicide are apparently untrue.

The gun shop owner feels badly. Well, I'm thinking that a clearly troubled 23-year-old. who would have had difficulty renting a car, should have gotten something more than an instant background check.

Barack Obama goes way, way, way out on a limb ... (Don Imus must be saying "damn! I thought this was going to be my week off!"

An Asian student at VTech goes online to clear his name.

And none other than The Smoking Gun, has Hui's writings.

Related: Ten states see campus threats. All of the schools involve respond with a novel idea: lockdowns.

And Tom Tancredo disputes the "worst school massacre" meme. We had a couple of callers to the morning show yesterday who angrily contested the "worst massacre in U.S. history" too, saying that massacres of Black residents in Oklahoma and Rosewood, Florida were worse. Question: does that really matter? The VTech massacre was bad, man, can we all agree on that?


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posted by JReid @ 6:48 AM  
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
VA Gunman unmasked
Who is Cho Seung-Hui? A 23-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from South Korea. A student who lived in the dorms at Virginia Tech. And a cold blooded mass murderer.

Update: conspiracy theories are already starting to proliferate online, including the Second Gunman Theory ... and on our air this morning, the wacked out "this was a CIA black ops" theory. Seriously. Someone called in and said that.


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posted by JReid @ 11:30 AM  
Virginia Tech becomes the scene of carnage as a gunman, who apparently was a student at the university, shoots two people (apparently, his estranged girlfriend and a student advisor) in a dorm, and then goes berserk, two hours later, killing 30 people across campus at Norris Hall, where students were attending class. The gunman then shot himself.

This is a story of immense tragedy, but it also contains elements of true heroism, such as 75-year-old Liviu Librescu, an Israeli immigrant by way of Romania, who shielded students with his own body, giving students time to escape out a window in Norris Hall before he was fatally shot himself.

There are also stories of apparent incompetence. The shootings began sometime around 7:20, when the gunman, who has been identified only as a Chinese immigrant in his early twenties, shot and killed the girlfriend he was apparently quarreling with, along with 22-year-old Ryan Clark, a student and apparent dorm advisor who tried to break up the argument. The gunman waited two hours before making his way across campus to the classrooms at Norris Hall, where he chained the doors shut and systematically murdered 30 people, according to one report, lining some students up against a wall and executing them. Pannicked students scoured the Internet for information after getting emails from the campus administration that a gunman was loose on campus. Some jumped out of windows to escape. Others played dead. The police weren't called until 9:30, two hours after campus police responded to the dorm shootings.
I can't help but wonder where he got the two guns he used. Probably with ease at a local gun store, eh? (Time to turn America's college and high school campuses into gun free zones, wouldn't you say? And increased security and a better warning system would be nice...)

The shooting has put off Alberto Gonzales' turn in the hot seat, and President Bush will attend VTech's convocation today.

And on the campus, students are reacting with fury to the university's lack of action after the initial shootings, including the failure to make a public address system announcement that a gunman was on the loose:

"I think the university has blood on their hands because of their lack of action
after the first incident," said Billy Bason, 18.
That sentiment is all over the Internet this morning ...

Update: ABC News is reporting that the gunman has been identified as "Seung Hui Cho, a permanent resident of the United States, a Korean national and a Virginia Tech student ..."

The student left a "disturbing note" before killing two people in a dorm room, returning to his own room to re-arm and entering a classroom building on the other side of campus to continue his rampage, sources said.

Cho's identitiy has been confirmed with a positive fingerprint match on the guns used in the rampage and with immigration materials. It is believed that he was the shooter in both incidents yesterday. Sources say Cho was carrying a backpack that contained receipts for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol, sources said. Witnesses had also told authorities that the shooter was carrying a backpack. Sections of chain similar to those used to lock the main doors at Norris Hall, the site of the second shooting that left 31 dead, were found inside a Virginia Tech dormitory, sources confirmed to ABC News.
I wonder when the beef began between Cho and his girlfriend. I wonder if it correllates with when he bought the gun... Also, he's not Chinese, he's Korean...

Update 2: Hours after the massacre at Va Tech, a bomb scare triggers an evacuation at the University of Tennessee.

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posted by JReid @ 7:00 AM  
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Quick take headlines
Baghdad's Green Zone, safe? Oh go on!

The D.A. in the Duke rape case has cleared the three lacrosse players and apologized to them. Now, particularly in the wake of the Imus imbroglio, many on the right are demanding apologies from the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and going after the accuser with guns blazing...
In a surprising development, a now not running for re-election Mark Nifong apologizes, too ...

Bring on the lawsuits...

Al Franken calls out CNN and asks, can we fire Glenn Beck, too?

Surprise! The Bush administration's obsession with voter fraud ... is a fraud...

Oh, and one American Idol note: "thank you, America. Thank you very, very much."

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posted by JReid @ 8:51 PM  
Saturday, April 07, 2007
While you were out
I took a couple days off blogging to deal with "other issues" (you just ponder that one for a minute... cause I'm not giving details...) Strangely enough, the political universe didn't shift that much since Wednesday :)

So what's new in the world as of today?

Fred Thompson is getting serious about maybe, possibly running for president, while Rudy Giuliani is still catching softballs, even from the blog press... (Roger Simon of Politico apparently didn't find the time to ask the former New York mayor about his caustic relatioonship with firefighters, his cozy relationship with probable felon Bernie Kerik, his problems with "the race issue" in New York City, or his poor decisionmaking on security prior to 9/11 (who moved the logistics and communication nerve centers of the city into the WTC before the attacks? Why Rudy, of course! But don't hold your breath waiting for the media to ask him about it. They're too busy chasing stories about his Cruella de Ville wife and his bad management of his marriage to Donna Hanover ... SIDEBAR: I got it on good authority from a prominent person who knows Rudy very well that Donna doesn't just resent Rudy, she HATES him, and so does his son. The person I spoke with talked to Donna recently and got it straight from the jilted spouse's mouth. ... but I digress...)

John Edwards has pulled out of the Fox News debate to be put on by the Congressional Black Caucus. And now many are wondering, what the hell is the CBC doing partnering with the Faux News network anyway?

Clinton-hating TIME columnist Joe Klein calls Bush "unfit to lead" and the head of "one of this nation's worst administrations" but says talk of impeaching him is "a bit nutso..."

An Iranian diplomat freed -- quite coincidentally, I'm sure -- around the same time the Iranians freed 15 British military personnel is now claiming torture at the hands of the CIA...

Meanwhile, the now freed Royal Naval and Marine personnel are talking about their ordeal, including being blindfolded, tied up, and threatened with execution. The group explained that in their determination, "fighting back was not an option." Seems like a reasonable enough explanation to me, but then again, I've never worn the uniform.

And now for a completely different view, from Col. Jack Jacobs, who slams the Britons for clearly making their top priority "going home," rather than preserving their honor as military men and women... Whatever your opinion of the Royal Navy/Marines, I think it's clear that in the propaganda war between Iran and Great Britain, Iran won this one, just as Hezbollah beat Israel over their captured soldiers, and Hamas did the same (neither group has returned the Israelis, despite a reign of military horror by the Israeli military...) I feel badly for the Brits, they are young, and clearly they weren't in this for an ideological fight. I tend to wince at chickenhawk winger slaps at them, and brash statements about what the Limbaughs, Hannities and Savages of the world claim they would have done in their place (cower and beg are my best guesses). These guys did what they had to do to get home. But I can understand why a guy like Jack Jacobs -- a hero and Medal of Honor winner -- would feel the way he does.
Final note, it must really cheese off the Brits to recall stories such as this one:

June 13, 2004 - ... Last week, a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq rescued three Italian hostages - Salvatore Stefio, Umberto Cupertino and Maurizio Agliana - who since April 12 had been held captive by terrorists calling themselves the Green Brigade. When the Italians returned home, they said they had joked with one another to ease the tension and quell their fears. Although they told reporters they had not been physically abused, their lives were constantly threatened. Only after the rescue did the former hostages discover that their captors had murdered their friend, a fourth hostage Fabrizio Quattrocchi. Just before the terrorists shot and killed Quattrocchi, he tried to pull off his hood and yelled, "This is how an Italian dies." He was buried in his home city of Genoa on May 29. Dying with dignity - and honor - is brave.
But that said, if you were in the place of the 15, what would YOU have done? In all honesty??? And before you wingers get too giddy, let's also recall that there have been Americans in this situation, too, both military and civilian. And in some cases, they too have chosen to comply... It is a basic human instinct to want to live. When one can force oneself to deny that basic instinct, we either call it bravery, or stupidity (recall that suicide bombers also deny that instinct.) I don't personally fault these guys, because in their shoes, I really don't know what I would do.
Meanwhile, the WaPo's Kathleen Parker ponders Iran's humiliation of the West, and wonders why Britain and other Western powers, including the U.S. make our women so vulnerable to degradation and capture in the military.

Here's one I completely missed: Geraldo vs. O'Reilly, the grudge match... Scroll down and watch the video ... the REAL comedy here is the segway that the ladies of Good Morning America manage to makde after the Fox News scream-fest was over. Trust me, it's worth listening until the end...

Unemployed former U.N. Ambassador (sans Senate confirmation) John Bolton snaps at the Saudi King for criticizing his pet project in Iraq.

Bafflingly still employed U.S. vice president Dick Cheney continues to take up residence in LaLa Land over the issue of the late Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to al-Qaida, despite the rheems of evidence, from the intelligence services of his own government, that there were no such links. Of course, you can say just about anything to Rush Limbaugh ... what the hell does he know...

Don Imus has apologized for his "nappy headed hos" remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team. On his April 4 program, Imus, his executive producer Bernard McGuirk and sportscaster Sid Rosenberg got into a stupid discussion about the teams that delved into the supposed manishness of the Rutgers girls (apparently Rosenberg feels they favor the Toronto Raptors). It quickly devolved from there. Imus did not, however, take back the comments on the same program which called the Tennessee women "cute..."

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posted by JReid @ 1:48 PM  
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Quick take headlines: Sadr, Sadr everywhere
The Washington Post foreign desk provides in-depth explication of the way militants like Moqtada al-Sadr actually win the battle for hearts and minds in Iraq.

The U.S. gets a guilty plea from Australian Qaida suspect David Hicks, who will likely be returned to his home country to serve his sentence. Why the quick capitulation by Hicks, who had been prepping for a fight? Time, and perhaps the Red Cross, will tell. My guess is the Howard government, already teetering under the weight of the "global war on terror" and the unpopularity of the Iraq war, brokered a deal. Aussie media take: Hicks pleaded out to escape "hell..."

Mitch McConnell, come on down! You're the next contestant on, "voters: fire this Bush-bot!"

The New York Times continues to carry water for the Bush administration on the war in Iraq, this time back-stoking the "Iran is arming the terra-rists" meme in a front page story.

Meanwhile, Tony Blair continues to fulminate, and do little else, on the subject of those captured sailors in Iran. Blair says Iran must follow international law or face unnamed consequences (a good, stern talking-to, maybe?)

There's more thieving uncovered in Miami-Dade.

And the Prince of Darkness calls Dubya Mr. Lonely.

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posted by JReid @ 9:31 AM  
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Quick take headlines: the Saturday not-so funnies
Jay Rockefellar actually does the job of Senate Intelligence Committee chair (a refreshing change from Pat Roberts, whose chosen role was more like pathetic White House toadie...) Rockefellar is raising important questions about whether the Whie House's high value detainee program (encompassing both renditions to secret CIA prisons and foreign countries known for torture, and Gitmo, apparently also known for toture...) should continue. Ironically, Congress is awaiting a rewrite of the White House's policy on the Geneva Conventions that will come in large part via the advice of Mr. Torture/prosecutor head chopper Albertcito Gonzales... yet another reason that he should go - any advice he gives will have little currency with the Dem controlled Congress.

Meanwhile, amid from EU demands that they be immediately freed, Iran is claiming that the 15 detained UK Royal Navy members (including one woman) have "confessed" to being in Iranian waters when they were captured and detained. The BBC reports the group are being "interrogated" but are "safe" according to Tehran officials. How stupid a move was this on the part of the Iranians? I'm guessing pretty damned stupid, given the tensions in the region being fanned by both Tehran and Washington. The British up to now have expressed no desire to join the U.S. in even entertaining the idea of attacking Iran. My guess is that this incident will help the hawks in the Bush administration to drag the Blairites closer to their point of view...

And this as the U.N. prepares to vote on possible sanctions against Iran for its continued nuclear program.

Another day, more carnage in Baghdad. I guess the surge isn't exactly working...

And the killed cricket coach controversy continues in Jamaica.

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posted by JReid @ 1:24 PM  
Friday, March 23, 2007
BREAKING: U.K. demands Iran return its sailors
From the BBC News:
Fifteen British Navy personnel have been captured at gunpoint by Iranian forces, the Ministry of Defence says.
The men were seized at 1030 local time when they boarded a boat in the Gulf, off the coast of Iraq, which they suspected was smuggling cars.

The Royal Navy said the men, who were on a routine patrol in Iraqi waters, were understood to be unharmed.

The Foreign Office has demanded the immediate and safe return of the men, who are based on HMS Cornwall.

The frigate's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert, said he was hoping there had been a "simple mistake" over territorial waters.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they [British personnel] were in Iraqi territorial waters. Equally, the Iranians may claim they were in Iranian territorial waters.

More on this development from the Independent UK:
The MoD said the incident happened at around 10.30am local time.

"The boarding party had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters," a spokesman said.
Hopefully it's just a misunderstanding ... and not a dress rehearsal for another "coalition of the willing" ...

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posted by JReid @ 11:22 AM  
Quick take headlines: the Friday follies
Obama may be distancing himelf from the Hillary 1984 ad guy, but he can't really be all that unhappy about the incredibly viral ad, which was both well done and effective at communicating the "don't be a drone, Hillary's not the only choice" message the Obama campaign is trying to convey. Oh, and don't worry about the ad guy, whose actual name is Philip de Vellis. The spot was so good, he'll definitely get another job. Madison Avenue, here he comes!

I don't care what they say, I still believe in The Politico! Their latest buzz: it's not just the Democrats who are relishing the impending Gonzalesgate rumble...

Things pre-schoolers shouldn't do: eat paste ... use the microwave without adult assistance ... use cocaine...

Best headline of the day: Ship jumper: Yup, I was drinking

A murder mystery gives new meaning to the phrase "that's not cricket..."

... and Crazy Mel is at it again...

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posted by JReid @ 11:09 AM  
Guiuliani family values
Third time's the charm! I've lost track of how many times Rudy Giuliani has been married. But Judi Nathan? Her number's just growing ... and growing ... and growing ...
Rudy Giuliani's wife, Judith, made a shocking revelation yesterday that stunned even those close to the White House hopeful - he isn't her second husband, but her third.

"Something I will share with you is that, since I haven't done [many] interviews . . . Rudy and I have both been married three times," Judith told The Post.

It was the first time she has publicly disclosed the bombshell information.

Several longtime Giuliani supporters said they had thought he was her second husband, and profiles about Judith Giuliani - who has revealed little about herself publicly before - have always referred to her as twice-married.

"We both married young," she told The Post yesterday in an interview. "And then we were both married again. And it took us until this stage in life to realize and find the person that we eventually wanted to grow old with." ...
... at least, until they marry again...

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posted by JReid @ 10:02 AM  
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The punch-out hall of shame
Bad, drunk, off duty cop punches tiny bar-maid. And the bystanders? Well, they should probably be arrested too. Watch, and cringe... and then, of course, it get worse:
Shocking surveillance video shows off-duty Chicago police officer Anthony Abbate, 38, a 12-year veteran of the force, brutally beating a female bartender.

He punches and kicks her.

"He was drunk in a bar. She refused to serve him anymore so he went behind the bar and threw her around like a sack of potatoes," said Attorney Terry Ekl who represents the alleged victim.

The woman was working at Jessie's Shortstop Inn Tavern on the city's northwest side where the alleged assault happened.

Video shot by the tavern in February shows Abbate's attack on the woman, who is half his size, was so violent the bar itself shakes.

Bystanders looked on, but no one stepped in. No one helped the woman until she was back on her feet again.

"The Chicago Police Department made a unilateral decision that they were going to charge him only with a misdemeanor without telling the State's Attorney’s Office," said Ekl.

But prosecutors took over and filed felony aggravated battery charges.

"It's one of the most brutal and savage attacks that I have seen caught on tape," said David Navarro, a prosecutor in the case.

Prosecutors are investigating adding possible obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness charges.

"Another individual came in moments after the attack and attempted to offer the victim money in order for her not to prosecute the defendant," Navarro said. ...
It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. And of course, there's even more:
The February attack, caught on the Tavern's surveillance camera, was Abbatte's second assault of the evening, say prosecutors.

"The defendant had attacked another customer earlier that evening. He placed him in a headlock and punched that individual repeatedly,” Navarro said.

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posted by JReid @ 5:11 PM  
Two things Rudy doesn't do
Talk to firefighters, and talk to Black people. Why? Because neither group has much use for him.

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posted by JReid @ 8:39 AM  
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Quick take headlines: pretty always wins?
Obama to Edwards: "aren't you cute" ... I'm guessing Edwards' reply would probably rhyme with "bite me" ... oh, okay, it WOULD BE "bit me..."

Meanwhile, Barack and Hillary get a bit hung up on the issue of the morality of gay lifestyles.

And as if it wasn't enough for Democrats to have to watch out for the real Fox News and Bill O'Reilly, now, apparently, they have to beware of the fake one as well...

The Senate's Republican minority beats back yet another attempt to craft an Iraq pullout plan, thanks to the Bush-backing votes of Democratoc Sematprs Nelson (Nebraska) and Pryor (Arkansas) and the perennial Bushophile, Joe Lieberman. On an up note, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon voted with the Dems. Maybe we could do a trade -- give us Smith and hand "Shuck 'n Joe" over to the GOP.

Meanwhile, the Senate, by an 86-16 vote, passed a resolution pledging not to cut off funds for the war. Only 16 Senators voted against the resolution.

Clearly, despite the big win last November, the Dems simply do not have the votes to stop this surge, let alone the war. The answer: get rid of more Republican Senators next election day (a Lieberman recall wouldn't hurt, either...)

Tomorrow, Valerie Plame takes her turn in the witness chair before Henry Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

A new poll finds that how much you like George W. Bush depends largely on how much money you have. Not surprising.

Meanwhile in Africa, Zimbabwe's Dictator de jeur, Robert Mugabe gives his critics the finger.

And surprise! There's some skepticism out there regarding the Bush administration's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed war on terror windfall.

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posted by JReid @ 6:07 PM  
Monday, March 12, 2007
Quick take headlines, Monday, Monday
Subprime lender New Century Financial is on the brink of bankruptcy, as the housing bubble keeps leaking and ARM loans begin imploding...

The announcement about the announcement. One word to Chuck Hagel: "Huh???" I await the dirt on what REALLY happened to make him back down today. Desperate call from a fellow Vietnam vet, perhaps from the bathroom of the Straight Talk Express... perhaps...?

Meanwhile, Fred Thompson could bring something different to the party ... let's see... he's anti gay marriage, anti-abortion, and for Bush's escalation in Iraq, so it's not that ... hm ... oh, that's right, he's an actor! ... he's on "Law and Order," you know ... and he was that hillarious judge in "My Cousin Vinny!"

Meanwhile, the vigorousness of the Draft Fred movement ... okay, maybe "vigorousness" isn't a word, or an accurate description ... could be rooted in the fact that GOPers currently have no good choices in the primary beauty pageant. I mean, three adulterers, two nobodies and a Mormon flip-flopper isn't exactly a field of dreams...

Oh, and Rudy? This kind of thing is NOT going to help you. Just saying...

and THIS??? This is just going to KILL your cred, dude...

On the Dem side, Sharpton no likey Obama ... no likey at all...

On the international front, Iran no likey the movie 300, which by the way, is KILLING at the box office.

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posted by JReid @ 8:32 PM  
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Quick take headlines: Thursday follies
Goodbye, Mister. Three papers drop Ann Coulter's column.

Meanwhile, the new game among the denizens of the right in the wake of the Scooter Libby verdicts: attack the juror. According to the righties, Denis Collins has multiple conflicts of interest, having worked for the Washington Post and lived near Tim Russert. Unfortunately, you can't throw a rock in Washington D.C. without hitting somebody who has ties to government or the press.

Meanwhile, speaking of bias, another juror whinges to the New York Post that Libby should get himself a pardon.

So will Libby get his pardon? Robert Novak -- the man who started the Libby ball rolling by outing Valerie Plame in his column and then spilling his guts to the special prosecutor -- says if he gets it, it won't be until after the 2008 elections.

U.S. war games focus on a possible mass exodus from Cuba.

Apparently, conservative Republicans aren't enjoying Rudy Giuliani in his queenly visage.

John Edwards flips Fox News the bird. He will not participate in the August 14 Nevada Democratic Party debates hosted by the House of Bush.

From Raw: Poland's complicity in secret CIA prisons exposed.

And Salon exposes the shockingly high incidence of rape faced by female

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posted by JReid @ 9:33 AM  
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Quick take headlines: hazy Tuesday
The 17-year-old uncle of the two toddlers who were videotaped smoking weed has tried to justify his actions by telling reporters in Texas that, well, that's just the way they do it in the hood. Folks just give their kids weed like white people serve their toddlers beer. Well, alrighty then! Meanwhile, he and the mom, Shattoria Russell's mother is bemoaning the fact that the boys, aged 2 and 5, were taken from the home and put in state custody. And the mom? Well, she says her younger brother shouldn't have to do "hard time" and that her children should be returned to her. She was asleep in the other room while her brother, Demetris McCoy, and his apparent robbery partner, 18-year-old Vanswan Polty passed the blunts around to her kids -- apparently, she had a toothache -- and a 16-year-old friend videotaped. Nice.

And speaking of a toothache, who'd have thought a 12-year-old boy could die of an abcessed tooth in the United States of America in 2007. Who indeed.

And what sets off a crazy astronaut? Love mail, man. love mail.

Hey, if it's Tuesday, it must be time for another stupid comment from Rush Limbaugh!

And the atrocities of the Japanese during World War II are illustrated in stark, chilling fashion, by some of the soldiers themselves.

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posted by JReid @ 8:20 AM  
Monday, March 05, 2007
Girl talk, etc.
So why does no-talent wonder Antonella Barba get to stay on Idol while Frenchie, from years past, got the axe for HER near-nudie online pix? It's called Googlability, folks. Barba is commercial with a "capital K"... still, that hasn't stopped one activist from taking decisive action...

And is there someone even dumber than the Coltergeist? Yes ma'am, and her-m...'s name is Shamela. Meanwhile Slate explains why Mr. Coulter is the dude in a skirt who will not be ignored...

Yee-haw! Hillary is dog-gone Kentucky frahd ... in Selma! But is her fake southern accent more hilarious than Madonna's phony British twang? It's a tough call...

Now this is wierd ... a drill sergeant accused of forcing recruits to dress up like Superman and submit to sex acts ... yeesh...

And for "worst persons in the world" ... Israel and Iran, followed closely by the U.S. and North Korea. Well, at least we didn't top the list this time.

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posted by JReid @ 9:14 PM  
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Quick take headlines: Thursdays in the park with Cheney
There will be no indictment against the white woman who pointed out 14-year-old Emmit Till to her husband and brother in law, who later murdered the boy and threw his body into the Tallahatchee River. Even 50 years later, the case is chilling. And while the jury found "not enough evidence" of Carolyn Bryant Donham's guilt, she knows that guilt full well. The good news is that God will deal with her.

Speaking of evil, Dick Cheney is back in the news following his Afghan brush with death. And apparently, he isn't good at being an anonymous source...
Take the person who briefed reporters aboard Vice President Cheney's plane after his secret stay in Afghanistan. He didn't want his name used when he talked to reporters, but he kept using the words "I" and "me" as he referred to Cheney and to the reason for the vice president's visit.

For example, the source said, "The reason the president wanted me to come, obviously, is because of the continuing threat that exists in this part of the world."

And when it comes to the reports that Cheney went in to "beat up on" the Pakistani president and to get him to crack down on al-Qaida and Taliban fighters on the border with Afghanistan, the official said, "That's not the way I work."

Howard Kurtz of the WaPo asks in his column whether reporters should have refused to go along with Cheney's "anonymous source" fakery, and he lambastes blog commenters who seemed to wish that suicide bomber had succeeded. Earth to Kurtz! People were joking, and let's recall that it was right wingers who started us down this path to hating the president of the opposite party...

Meanwhile, the poster child for the Sovietization of America, Jose Padilla, has been ruled competent to stand trial. Padilla's case is an embarassment to the now quaint notion that the United States is a nation of laws, where the president is prevented from wielding dictatorial power over helpless citizens.

Over to Iraq, where U.S. troops are moving out of fortified bases, and into the violent, chaotic neighborhoods they usually patrol. Sounds like a recipe for more U.S. casualties. And the U.S. continues to insist that no children were killed in a soccer field bomb blast in Ramadi this week. But a local sheikh says differently.

Meanwhile, Africa has become a key transit point for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine and heroine trafficking. Just what they need.

And just what do we know about North Korea's nuclear program? Apparently, not much more than we knew about Iraq.

Happy Thursday!


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posted by JReid @ 8:30 AM  
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Just what every discriminating young girl needs
Introducing, the Britney rehab doll.

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posted by JReid @ 9:04 AM  
Quick take headlines: hump day edition
Is Iraq in a civil war? According to the new director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, it most certainly is.

And will the Bush administration reverse course and talk to Iraq's neighbors, Syria and Iran? Yes ... and no ... Condi Rice continues her turn as spin-mistress, attempting to explain how we're going to sit down in the same room with the two bad actors in the Middle East, but only because the Iraqis invited them. I can just hear the negotiations now:

U.S.: "Could you please tell the Syrian ambassador that I said he's a horse's ass?"

IRAQI: (sitting between U.S. and Syrian reps): "Certainly, madam." (turns to Syrian, sitting beside him.) "she says you're a horse's ass."

SYRIAN: "Kindly tell the lady to bite me."

IRAQI: "Quite."

Meanwhile, that hellified market correction yesterday (which extended in Europe and Asia today) has spooked everyone, but there's more bad news out there, starting with the mortgage market, where it's about to get a lot tougher to get a loan. Also, America's homeless population is growing and hardening, at a time when the Bushbots are claiming we have the best economy ever...

A groundbreaking survey of homelessness being released today found that 704,000 people nationwide sought shelter at least once in a three-month period.

Families with children accounted for one-third of those seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing between February and April 2005, the most recent period studied, according to the report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The rest were individuals, mostly adult men. Nearly half were black.

The count covered only those seeking shelter, not people living on the street, so the total number of homeless people would be higher.

"This first-of-its-kind study is a huge leap forward in our understanding of not only how many people are homeless, but also what their needs are," HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson says. The report says, for example, that at least a quarter are disabled.

HUD, which briefed USA TODAY on the report Monday, says it is the most comprehensive government estimate ever of homelessness. Previous counts looked only at the number of people homeless on a given day or week.

The three-month figure — equal to the population of South Dakota — is an estimate based on a sample of 80 communities. It will serve as a baseline for annual reports to Congress and may be expanded to include people living on the street.

And about that economy: it isn't nearly as good as the righties say it is...

On a much lighter note, could anything or anyone have saved Anna Nicole Smith? Quoth Travolta, Scientology.

The Largo, Florida city manager who wants to go from Mr. Manager to Mrs. Manager is about to get fired.

And last but certainly not least: nothing says "hit stage play" like showing off your Harry Potter...

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posted by JReid @ 8:03 AM  
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Quick take headlines: Tuesday blues edition
BREAKING: Foxy Brown says she was dragged off the potty by The Man at that Pembroke Pines beauty shop. Film at 11.

A judge says, "now usually I don't do this but ... go ahead and color in the courtroom, killer pedophile..."

Antonella Barbara may not be able to sing worth a damn on "American Idol," but right now, she's the most famous Idol ever...!

Hugo Chavez pulls the plug on nearly a half dozen foreign oil co's.

Where have all the honeybees gone?

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff is back, and he has a cause: telling the stories of wounded Iraq and Afghan war veterans.

For former Vice President Al Gore, it's Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Dubya and the governors spat over who should pay for child healthcare. Do the governors really want cheese-eating socialist universal healthcare? Pray, tell!

A member of the Scooter Libby jury is dismissed, but the deliberations go on. ... I wonder if it had anything to do with her refusing to wear a festive, pink shirt on Valentine's Day? And what about that alternate... hm???

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posted by JReid @ 9:20 AM  
Monday, February 26, 2007
Quick take headlines: Monday, Monday
America: You'll come for the Bush administration, you'll stay for the poverty.
A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 -- half the federal poverty line -- was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.

Kentucky's deep poverty rate increased 26 percent from 2000 to 2005, adding 59,305 people to the ranks of the severely poor according to the study. Kentucky's poverty rate, 16.8 percent, and deep poverty rate, 7.1 percent, for 2005 are both higher than the national averages of 13.3 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

'Permanent underclass'

The plight of the severely poor is a distressing sidebar to an unusual economic expansion. Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind and the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries. That helps explain why the median household income of working-age families, adjusted for inflation, has fallen for five straight years.

These and other factors have helped push 43 percent of the nation's 37 million poor people into deep poverty -- the highest rate since at least 1975. ...

Meanwhile, across the pond, the British government considers classifying an 8-year-old boy as abused, because his parents have allowed him to balloon to 14 stone -- that's 196 pounds in America-speak.

If you want to feel really bad about what's going on in Iraq, read this.

And how FUBAR is American foreign policy in this hemisphere? Colombia, on whom we've pinned all our hopes of avoiding a totally leftist region, turns to an old card that will be familiar to the Bushies: death squads.

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posted by JReid @ 9:42 AM  
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Vlad the impaler

When I was in high school, one of my favorite passtimes was reading Russian novels (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, etc. and yes, I read "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" -- I'm THAT nerdy... apparently, Russian novels are an interest I share with my ideological nemesis, Condi Rice...) Well now, there's a real life Russian novel playing out in real-life Russia, where as the Guardian reports, about a dozen of Vladimir Putin's enemies have mysteriously, ominously, turned up dead.

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posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
Quick take headlines, insomniac edition
Christian leaders begin to doubt their party of choice's presidential contenders...

Fidel's innermost thoughts from nearly fifty years ago revealed.

Hillary throws down the gauntlet on the subject of her husband's impeachment. Mention Monica in public at your own risk...

A new study finds that poverty has reached record numbers in the U.S. over the last six years:
The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 -- half the federal poverty line -- was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005. That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period. McClatchy's review also found statistically significant increases in the percentage of the population in severe poverty in 65 of 215 large U.S. counties, and similar increases in 28 states. The review also suggested that the rise in severely poor residents isn't confined to large urban counties but extends to suburban and rural areas.
A bit more, if you can take it:
The Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation shows that, in a given month, only 10 percent of severely poor Americans received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 2003 -- the latest year available -- and that only 36 percent received food stamps.

One in three Americans will experience a full year of extreme poverty at some point in his or her adult life, according to research by Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

An estimated 58 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 75 will spend at least a year in poverty, Rank said. Two of three will use a public assistance program between ages 20 and 65, and 40 percent will do so for five years or more.

Lastly: is allowing your child to become fat a form of child abuse? That question is being asked in Britain in the case of the 14 stone boy:
AN eight-year-old boy who weighs 14 stone, more than three times the average for his age, may be taken into care if his mother fails to improve his diet.

Connor McCreaddie, from Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, has broken four beds and five bicycles. The family claims to have a history of intolerance to fruit or vegetables.

On Tuesday his mother and grandmother will attend a formal child protection conference to decide his future, which could lead to proceedings to take him into care.

Connor could be placed on the child protection register, along with victims of physical and sexual abuse, or on the less serious children in need register.

And speaking of abuse, that's what I'm doing to my brain right now. It's way past time to go to bed.

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posted by JReid @ 3:44 AM  
Friday, February 23, 2007
Quick take headlines: TGIF edition
Timothy McVeigh's co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, files an affidavit in a Utah inmate's death case, claiming that he and McVeigh had help planning the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City -- from a "high level FBI agent." Could Oklahoma City become a conspiracy theory magnet the likes of the JFK assassination? Time will tell.

The Bush administration's torture policy -- including sleep deprivation, administration of drugs like LSD and PCP, threats of execution and isolation -- finally drives Jose Padilla over the edge.

In Washington, Democrats are planning moves to revoke the authority the Congress foolishly and recklessly gave President Bush in 2002 to wage war "'as he determines to be necessary and appropriate ... to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq' and to enforce relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions."

As Somalia continues to descend into chaos, the NYT has word that the U.S. used a base in neighboring Ethiopia to launch military strikes against suspected al-Qaida.

Condi Rice issues threats to Iran. ... real, serious, never gonna happen threats.

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posted by JReid @ 8:37 AM  
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Random acts of journalism
Chris Wallace ... wait a minute ... you mean THAT Chris Wallace ?????? actually pauses for a moment from his normal role as Fox News' most skilled pretend neutral journalist, to actually behave like a neutral journalist... debunking the claims of innocence of one Douglas Feith, who insisted on an earlier program that, but of course he never claimed Iraq's Saddam Hussein had an operational link with al-Qaida! When a Fox News host is calling out the neocons, you KNOW the world is slowly coming to an end.

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posted by JReid @ 2:51 PM  
Friday, February 16, 2007
Not so Foxy

Foxy Brown is at it again. Her beauty shop antics continue with her latest arrest, this time in my neck of the woods, Pembroke Pines, Florida. The Herald has the story, and the arrest report:
...Police say the rapper was hauled to the Broward County jail last night after squirting hair glue at a beauty store owner, swearing and spitting at him, knocking over display shelves and tussling with an officer.

The charges: battery and resisting an officer -- with violence. ...

Thursday's alleged smackdown happened at Queen Beauty Supply, 12105 Pembroke Rd. in Pembroke Pines. Police and the owner gave this blow by blow:

Brown showed up just before closing with a female companion, wearing a neon green jacket, jean miniskirt and knee-high stiletto boots.

She bought a squirt bottle of hair glue, then went to the bathroom at the rear of the store to apply it.

But it was closing time. Hayssam Ghoneim, the proprietor, knocked on the bathroom door and told her it was lights out.

No answer. He knocked again and became more insistent. The rapper indicated she wasn't finished with the hair glue.

'I said to her, `This is not a beauty salon. You need to leave. The store is closed,' '' Ghoneim recalled.

He said she opened the door and he grabbed it. She tried to push him out of the way, and then, spewing profanities, tried to squirt him with the glue.

She missed, but managed to get the glue all over the floor.

Brown then knocked over two display shelves of spray bottles and ''was throwing everything in sight.'' Ghoneim said. ``I was afraid it was going to get out of hand.''

According to Ghoneim, Brown then declared: ``I'm going to send some guys to hurt you and the store. You're in big trouble.''

She spit on the floor and the store owner before leaving.

Roughly three minutes later, Ghoneim said, he heard loud screaming and cursing in the parking lot. He believes that was the arrest.
And indeed, it was.

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posted by JReid @ 12:44 PM  
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
News you can use ... for something
George Tenet writes a book ... and critics say he's gonna have to throw someone under the bus, most likely Dick Cheney.

The late Anna Nicole beds a Bahamian!

Kim Jong Il says "give me back my Cristal!!!"

Another reason to stay the hell out of the mall.

Meanwhile, in Florida, we see the cruel nexus of bullying and liberal gun laws.

and Vlad spanks the prez...

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posted by JReid @ 9:25 AM  
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The week in crazy

Crazy astronaut lady dons wig disguise, raincoat, and diaper to stalk and threaten romantic rival...
A new charge of attempted murder will be filed against a NASA astronaut who allegedly drove from Houston to Central Florida -- armed with a BB gun and wearing diapers -- as part of a bizarre plot related to a possible love triangle, officials said.

Lisa Nowak, who already faced lesser charges and had been expected to be released on bail, was still being held this afternoon and will be charged with attempted first-degree murder, officials said shortly after noon.

''Nowak said that she just wanted to talk to the victim,'' said Barbara Jones, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department. 'But everything we found associated with it puts it in a different perspective than `I just want to talk to you.' '' ...

...According to a police affidavit, Nowak drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando, donned a wig and a trench coat and was armed with a BB gun, pepper spray and other equipment when she confronted Colleen Shipman shortly after 3 a.m. Monday at Orlando International Airport's Blue Satellite Parking Lot.

''Somebody looked at the details based on the facts that she had a steel mallet, a brand new four-inch knife and rubber tubing,'' Jones said. ``They decided that the additional charge should be added.''

Nowak believed that Shipman, an Air Force captain stationed at Patrick Air Force Base near the Kennedy Space Center, was a rival for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, according to the affidavit.

Nowak, who triumphantly lifted off from the space center on a shuttle mission last summer, appeared at a hearing earlier this morning in shackles and a blue prison uniform. She kept her head bowed throughout the appearance and rarely spoke.

... he 43-year-old Nowak is married and has three children -- a 14-year-old son and twin 5-year-old daughters. Her husband, Richard, works for NASA as a flight controller.

According to the police report, Nowak said she and Oefelein were involved in a relationship that ``was categorized as more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship.''

The ambiguity of that statement left open the possibility that neither Oefelein nor Shipman were aware of Nowak's feelings.
Okay, now here's where it really gets crazy:
According to the affidavit, Shipman told police that she spotted Nowak stalking her, heard ''running footsteps'' as Shipman entered her car and became particularly alarmed when Nowak slapped on the window and attempted to open the door.

''Can you help me please?'' Nowak allegedly asked Shipman. ``My boyfriend was supposed to pick me up and he is not here.''

Shipman told police that she refused, but opened her window about two inches after Nowak began to cry. At that point, Shipman said, Nowak sprayed her with a chemical substance, apparently pepper spray.

Shipman drove hurriedly away and sought help from police officers.

Within a few minutes, officers detained Nowak, who matched a description provided by Shipman.

Police said they also found a wig and a trench coat used as a disguise, a folding knife with a four-inch blade, six Latex gloves, at least three feet of rubber tubing and several large garbage bags.

They said Nowak denied that she was attempting to kidnap Shipman, saying she only wanted to speak to the other woman.

Asked about the alleged use of pepper spray, Nowak reportedly told officers: ``That was stupid.''

Police said Nowak told officers that she wore adult diapers during the long drive from Houston so she wouldn't have to stop to use bathrooms. Shuttle astronauts wear similar diapers during launches and landings.
Diapers, man ... diapers...

Oh, my damn, now I suppose the Seniors who wear Depends lobby will be blog-whining to the New York Times and demanding an apology. I guess I'll get started writing one...

Next up in 'The Week in Crazy': Charlize Theron wants to make out with Rick Sanchez! ... and she's going to teach you about hip-hop...

Here's some background video.

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posted by JReid @ 2:06 PM  
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Tomorrow's news today
The Senate moves us closer to a still pitiful, but higher, minimum wage...

Outgoing Iraq top general George Casey says the troop surge should be cut in half ... even as the Congressional Budget Office reveals that the actual size of Bush's troop surge could really be some 48,000 troops, once you count the support troops needed to back 21,500 combat forces.

Meanwhile, John McCain no likey Casey for new Army chief of staff...

And Fox "News" reports two Iraqi generals are suspected of aiding an attack on U.S. troops... surprise!

Number of U.S. levees at risk of failing, Katrina style: 122

Percentage of American men dealing with erectile dysfunctin: 18

Number of Harry Potter books left: 1

Chances of Rush Limbaugh's fat, drug-addled ass actually EVER getting a Nobel Peace Prize: 0 ... (chances these morons will eventually see the irony in some winger think tank trying to nominate El Rushbo: about the same...)

Mary Cheney says "I'm keeping my babay..."

Meanwhile, sorry fellas. Don't let the marriage flap from a couple years ago fool you. San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom is so very definitely, totally and completely not gay ... not by a longshot. Can we call him the male Angelina Jolie now?

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posted by JReid @ 8:34 PM  
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Quick take headlines: Tuesday
New Bush, same as the old Bush -- the prez seeks more power, this time over domestic affairs.

What's the latest on the domestic spying front? Why it's the FBI, conducting widespread surveillance that's akin to the NSA warrentless wiretaps. Groovy! No wonder 58 percent of Americans just want the Bush term to be over, already.

Ari Fleischer testifies at the Scooter Libby trial -- contradicting Dick's right hand man on the subject of just when Scooter found out about Valerie Plame's identity (he testified that Scooter told him three days before Scooter's fabled convo with Tim Russert -- you know, the one where he heard about Plame for the "first time" -- during the one and only lunch Libby ever invited Ari to...) BTW, the Ari-Libby convo was "hush hush, on the QT..." On the stand today: Judy Miller.

South Dakota lawmakers try it again on abortion.

Shiite pilgrims attacked on the high holiday of Ashura in Iraq. And how about this sunny outlook on Iraq:
The US must draw up plans to deal with an all-out Iraqi civil war that would kill hundreds of thousands, create millions of refugees, and could spill over into a regional catastrophe, disrupting oil supplies and setting up a direct confrontation between Washington and Iran.

This is the central recommendation of a study by the Brookings Institution here, based on the assumption that President Bush's last-ditch troop increase fails to stabilise the country - but also on the reality that Washington cannot simply walk away from the growing disaster unleashed by the 2003 invasion.

Even the US staying to try to contain the fighting, said Kenneth Pollack, one of the report's authors, "would consign Iraqis to a terrible fate. Even if it works, we will have failed to provide the Iraqis with the better future we promised." But it was the "least bad option" open to the US to protect its national interests in the event of full-scale civil war.

US troops, says the study, should withdraw from Iraqi cities. This was "the only rational course of action, horrific though it will be", as America refocused its efforts from preventing civil war to containing its effects.

The unremittingly bleak document, drawing on the experience of civil wars in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Congo and Afghanistan, also offers a remarkably stark assessment of Iraq's "spill-over" potential across the Persian Gulf region.

It warns of radicalisation and possible secession movements in adjacent countries, an upsurge in terrorism, and of intervention by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Ending an all-out civil war, the report says, would require a force of 450,000 - three times the present US deployment even after the 21,500 "surge" ordered by President Bush this month. ...
Meanwhile, who's to blame for Iran's dramatic rise in power and influence in the Mideast? George W. Bush, start talking to the man in the mirror... And Europe, which blames the U.S. for Iran's rise, is balking at Bush administration attempts to force Western countries to cut ties to Tehran.

And let's not forget Afghanistan, where civilian deaths are on the rise, too.

Over on Capitol Hill, experts will testify today before a Russ Feingold-led Senate committee today that Congress does indeed have the authority to end the Iraq war. Who knew?

And last but not least, guess whose picture Russian special forces like to use for target practice?

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posted by JReid @ 10:20 AM  
Thursday, January 25, 2007
The Thursday run-down: Obamarama
We had The Hotline's Mike Memoli on the Big radio show this morning, talking about the latest news in the Obama v. Faux News. Apparently, Obama ain't going for the okey doke.

Here's the latest news from the mercenary war in Iraq: four Blackwater contractors were killed execution-style this week by Sunni insurgents.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the curious tale of the missing Michael Vick tape...

Famed reporter Carl Bernstein calls George W. Bush more destructive to the U.S. than Richard Nixon.

If you're protesting the Iraq war in Austin, Texas, the Bush administration is watching you.

Meanwhile, the Prince of Darkness pronounces Mother's first 100 hours a crashing success! And says Team Bush is D.O.A.

A freshman Congresswoman tells Dubya: "you're just too good to be true ... can't keep my hands off of you..."

Throwback cases on both sides of the racial divide: eight Black men faces charges in the shooting death of a police officer and other assorted crimes while they were members of the Black Liberation Army in the early 1970s ... and a Mississippi man thought to have been dead, is alive and well and under indictment for the murder of two Black teens in 1964.

A continued breakdown of civilization in Sudan.

And the kicker for today: adventures in bad ass kids.

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posted by JReid @ 7:09 AM  
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The Tuesday (not so) funnies
What do you call a white guy who wants to join the Congressional Black Caucus? Out of luck.

Today's theme, meanwhile: Bush in the toilet. His poll ratings are at Nixon lows, and that's only in this country (here's an even worse result for Dubya)... Wait till you get a load of the international numbers...

So Bush will try to help himself out tonight during the State of the Union. As long as he doesn't try to preempt American Idol, at least he won't go to 15 percent... at least he hopes not... Look for the Democrats to hold back -- way back -- on the applause, and maybe the Republicans, too.

Meanwhile, Bush prepares to deplete our European theater of 8,500 troops.

And John McCain plays cover your bases.

Oh, and then there's the superbug... which we accidentally cooked up in Iraq.

Happy Tuesday!

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posted by JReid @ 11:01 AM  
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Quick take headlines, January 18
Another low in jock culture...

Another high for Obama... plus new polls on how Barack and Hillary stack up against Rudy and Bush's butler, John McCain... Meanwhile the Hotline's Chuck Todd says, "welcome to the O-C..."

Jury selection continues in the Scooter Libby trial...

AG "Torquemada" Gonzales says, um ... about that NSA spying without a warrant thing ... ways-out... Although some are asking what exactly has changed... well, here's one thing, with new management in town, the Bushies are apparently in retreat, at least in part:
Under pressure from Congress and the courts, Bush in the past six months has closed secret overseas CIA prisons, transferred previously unidentified detainees to regular military custody, negotiated congressional approval for tribunals to try foreign terrorism suspects and accepted at least some regulation of how harshly such prisoners could be interrogated.

Bush has hardly surrendered his effort to broadly define the commander in chief's authority to wage war in the modern era. Just last weekend, he and Vice President Cheney told Congress that it has no business trying to stop the president from sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq. But in other ways, Bush has engaged in a series of strategic fallbacks intended to preserve what authority he can while fending off escalating political and constitutional challenges.

"You can only be at odds with two-thirds of the people on a limited number of issues," said Jack Quinn, who was White House counsel under President Bill Clinton. "He has his back to the wall. He really has depleted his political capital and he simply can't afford to be at odds with most of us on a number of issues. He is conserving what limited political capital he has to see through this final effort on which he's embarked in Iraq."

Bush has backed off other confrontations with the new Democratic Congress as well, even as they square off over Iraq. He gave up efforts to confirm John R. Bolton to be permanent ambassador to the United Nations, offered qualified support for a Democratic move to raise the minimum wage, endorsed a Democratic goal of balancing the budget by 2012 and withdrew the nominations of four would-be judges bitterly opposed by Democrats.
And in another version of the same song here, comes the suggestion that Bush's big push for power may trigger the law of unintended consequences:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 — The Bush administration’s abrupt abandonment on Wednesday of its program to eavesdrop inside the United States without court approval is the latest in a series of concessions to Congress, the courts and public opinion that have dismantled major elements of its strategy to counter the terrorist threat.

In the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, President Bush asserted sweeping powers to conduct the hunt for operatives of Al Qaeda, the detention of suspects and their interrogation to uncover the next plot. But facing no new attack to justify emergency measures, as well as a series of losses in the courts and finally the Democratic sweep of the November election, Mr. Bush has had to retreat across the board.

“I think there’s no question that both politically and legally, the president has been chastened,” said Douglas W. Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University and generally a supporter of the administration’s interpretation of executive power.

Harold Hongju Koh, the dean of Yale Law School and a critic of the administration’s legal theories, said the president’s strategy might have provoked so strong a judicial and Congressional rebuff that it would ultimately accomplish the opposite of his goal. “I think historians will see it as an exorbitant and extreme theory of executive power that ended up weakening the presidency,” Mr. Koh said.
Welcome to the new world order, where the first branch of government has actual power and authority to check a runaway executive... actually, welcome to the old world order...

And while we're at TPMM, let's see what Arlen Specter has to say about his role in giving Bush more power...

Remember the Freedom Fries guy? He's making a bid to halt a Bush administration push for war with Iran.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad is mocking the Bush administration again, saying Iran is ready to rumble...

The Missouri sicko pleads not guilty... meanwhile Missouri police now suspect him in the kidnaping of a third boy, who has never been heard from since... to heighten the creepy, the third missing boy, who disappeared back in 1991, reportedly bears a striking resemblance to Sean Hornbeck.

The I heart Hagel love-fest continues, as Hagel let's Dubya know, "This is not a monarchy, bitch..." okay, he didn't say the bitch part. But Hagel has co-sponsored a non-binding resolution in the Senate (with Joe Biden and Carl Levin) expressing disapproval of Bush's surge plan. (Of course, the non-binding part is a bit wimpy, given Hillary's new gambit to put teeth into Congressional oversight of the war by capping the number of American troops and putting stricter requirements on the money, and John Edwards calls any claim by Congress that they can do no better, total horse shit ... okay, he didn't say horse shit...) Meanwhile, Hillary's backing Hagel to the hilt, even as she pushes her own plan. (Another smart move.)

So who will win the showdown: Congressional Dems and their Republican allies, or the White House? I wouldn't bet on Bush right about now... even if he manages to begin his injection of additional troops, he will do so with the world knowing he lacks the confidence of the American people, and the Congress, and that will only speed the exit -- which is already underway -- by the so-called "coalition of the willing."

Meanwhile in Iraq, the Maliki government detains 40 Mahdi members as a show of force and will, and blames the U.S. for the mess that Iraq is in now.
And one columnist in Texas asks of the Maliki government, with friends like these Iraqis... who needs Iranians...?

And the Arab world continues to fume over the Saddam hanging fiasco.

Last but not least, Jimmy Carter continues to call for sanity and balance in the battle over Palestine. He'll be roundly slammed for it, but I, for one, agree with him.

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posted by JReid @ 9:55 AM  
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Quick take headlines, Wednesday
Slavery? This guy says "get over it..."

Cue the doomsday clock ...

Iran reportedly shoots down a U.S. spy drone... hm ... I wonder what Jack Bauer would do in this situation ... and who would he torture...?

The Pentagon's leading advocate for a Soviet-style government apologizes for calling on U.S. corporations to boycott law firms who provide pro bono counsel to Gitmo detainees.

And you want a surge? How about Afghanistan? Seems Bob Gates is considering it.

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posted by JReid @ 12:13 PM  
Friday, January 12, 2007
What's new in the Global War on Terror?
U.S. troops voice skepticism about Bush's troop surge escalation augmentation. And the folks on the Hill aren't exactly singing its praises, either... or in Baghdad, among the Iraqis.

Zbigniew Brzezinski points out the five flaws in Bush's escalation plan. My question: there are only five?

BTW, speaking of our oil wars... if oil is below $52 a barrel, why am I still paying $2.32 a gallon for regular?

And remember when President Clinton "bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan" and tried to hit Osama bin Laden and didn't get him? The right called it a pin prick, or dropping bombs on a camel's butt (so did Condi, by the way...) So ... um ... with U.S. aircraft strafing Somalia, and U.S. forces on the ground there, too, and failing, utterly, to get their man... shouldn't we say the same thing?

Oh, and did you see Chris Matthews smack down Tony Snow on the issue of what he called the threat of an "extra-constitutional war" agaisnt Iran?

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posted by JReid @ 9:50 AM  
Thursday, January 11, 2007
The stage managing of the president
From an elucidating article from the WaPo:
FORT BENNING, Ga., Jan. 11 -- The pictures were just what the White House wanted: A teary-eyed President Bush presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to a slain war hero in the East Room, then flying here to join the chow line with camouflage-clad soldiers as some of them prepare to return to Iraq.

There are few places the president could go for an unreservedly enthusiastic reception the day after unveiling his decision to order 21,500 more troops to Iraq. A military base has usually been a reliable backdrop for the White House, and so Bush aides chose this venerable Army installation in western Georgia to promote his revised strategy to the nation while his Cabinet secretaries tried to sell it on Capitol Hill.

Assuring there would be no discordant notes here, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the base commander, banned the 300 soldiers who had lunch with the president from talking with reporters. If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent.

"It's going to require sacrifice, and I appreciate the sacrifices our troops are willing to make," Bush told the troops. "Some units are going to have to deploy earlier than scheduled as a result of the decision I made. Some will remain deployed longer than originally anticipated."

Among those going early will be members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from the 3rd Infantry Division based here. Theirs was the division that spearheaded the invasion into Iraq in March 2003 and captured Baghdad. They returned in 2005 and lost 34 troops. Now, instead of heading back in May or June, they will return to Iraq in March.

Soldiers being soldiers, those who met the commander in chief Thursday saluted smartly and applauded politely. But it was hardly the boisterous, rock-star reception Bush typically gets at military bases. During his lunchtime speech, the soldiers were attentive but quiet. Not counting introduction of dignitaries, Bush was interrupted by applause just three times in 30 minutes -- once when he talked about a previous Medal of Honor winner from Fort Benning, again when he pledged to win in Iraq and finally when he repeated his intention to expand the Army.

Bush's speech essentially repeated his address to the nation the night before, and he appeared a little listless as he talked. Aides said he was deliberately low-key to reflect the serious situation. Whether the audience was sobered by the new mission or responding to Bush's subdued tone was unclear, because reporters were ushered out as soon as his talk ended.

White House officials had promised reporters they could talk with soldiers. But that was not good enough for Wojdakowski. "The commanding general said he does not want media talking to soldiers today," spokeswoman Tracy Bailey said. "He wants the focus to be on the president's speech." Only hours later, after reporters complained, did the base offer to make selected soldiers available, but the White House plane was nearing departure. ...
Why the lack of enthusiasm? Try the endless deployments, which just got a bit more endless with Bush's speech, and with this announcement from the Pentagon:
The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq.

The day after President Bush announced his plan for a deeper U.S. military commitment in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the change in reserve policy would have been made anyway because active-duty troops already were getting too little time between their combat tours. ...
Meanwhile, Fineman has truly fallen out of love. His online commentary says Bush looked like a scared rabbit during his speechie.

Actually, he looks like he could use a drink...

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posted by JReid @ 9:26 PM  
The I heart Chuck Hagel reader
Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, is the REAL maverick in the Republican Party. I haven't caught the CSPAN replay yet, but CNN just played back a portion of Hagel's grilling of Condi Rice at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, and he told Condi to her face that in his opinion, Bush's speech last night was "dangerous," and that his escalation strategy, if implemented, would constititute "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam." Damn. Here's the link.

Apparently, Senator Voinovich of Ohio, who has been known to lose spine from time to time, is with Hagel.

Also, the first post-speech poll is in, and it's not good news for Dubya:
A majority of Americans oppose sending additional troops to Iraq as outlined by President Bush in his nationally televised address Wednesday night, and just one-in-three Americans said the plan for more troops and a stepped up combat efforts by Iraqi forces make victory there more likely, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The findings of the survey, conducted after Bush's primetime speech, represent an initial rebuke to the White House goal of generating additional public support for the mission in Iraq. The poll found that 61 percent of Americans oppose sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, with 52 percent saying they strongly oppose the plan. Just 36 percent said they back the president's new proposal.

Bush fared better among the 42 percent of Americans who actually watched the speech. Among that group, 47 percent support sending more troops, while 51 percent oppose. But the President's supporters were disproportionately represented among the audience. ...

...The poll found sharp partisan divisions on nearly every question relating to Iraq, which grows out of the political polarization that has occurred during Bush's presidency. On the question of whether congressional Democrats should cut off funds for additional forces, 83 percent of Democrats said yes and 81 percent of Republicans said no. Among independents, 51 percent support a cutoff in funding while 47 percent oppose it.

Democrats almost universally oppose Bush's plan. In the poll, 94 percent of Democrats said they were against sending more troops. Republicans were far more supportive, with 73 percent supporting Bush's plan. But nearly a quarter of Republicans in the poll said they opposed more troops, and those signs of dissent with the president's party are being echoed by some Republican lawmakers.

Although majorities of men and women oppose sending more troops to Iraq, there is a gender gap on that issue. Fifty-six percent of men oppose the president's plan while 66 percent of women oppose it. Women also are more likely to support efforts in Congress to cut off funding, with 57 percent saying they would back Democratic moves to do so compared to 48 percent of men.

Sixty percent of Americans between ages 18 and 39 support cutting off funding, compared to 51 percent of those between 40 and 59 and 43 percent of Americans over age 60.

This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 10, among a random national sample of 502 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin.

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posted by JReid @ 1:05 PM  
Quick take headlines, Thursday, January 11
Pretty Harry's got a brand enw bag.

The Bushies are apparently spoiling for a fight with Iran:
U.S. troops raided an Iranian consulate in northern Iraq late Wednesday night and detained several people, Iran's main news agency reported today, prompting protests from Tehran just hours after President Bush pledged to crack down on the Islamic Republic's role in Iraqi violence.

Iran released news of the raid through its Islamic Republic News Agency in a dispatch that was broadly critical of Bush's plan to deploy about 21,500 more troops to Iraq.

The IRNA report said that U.S. forces entered the Iranian consulate in Irbil, in Iraq's Kurdish-dominated north, and seized computers, documents and other items. The report said five staff members were taken into custody.

The Iranian foreign ministry appealed to the Iraqi government to obtain the release of its personnel.

U.S. officials have not confirmed the raid, but did say that they had taken six people into custody in Irbil during the course of "routine security operations."

Coming to America: David Beckham!!!

Trump is right. Barbara Walters is a duplicitous wench. She now is pretending to just wuv Rosie O'Donnell. Earth to Babs: nobody loves Rosie O'Donnell.

And Trump ain't through, baby!

Meanwhile, two men got into a gun fight over ... wait for it ... the height of the late Godfather of Soul James Brown.

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posted by JReid @ 10:23 AM  
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Bush rolls the dice

Well, President Bush has given his speech (full text here), and as far as I'm concerned, he made only one piece of news: he acknowledged moving an additional carrier group into the Persian Gulf to essentially stare down Iran, which Bush tonight accused, along with Syria, of funding, training, and supplying Shiite insurgents inside Iraq. Bush, tonight, has delivered the coup de grace to the apparent waste of time that was the Iraq Study Group. There will be no detente with Iran, only threats, that involve stopping them from getting their "nucular" materiel, and waiting with a hair trigger for them to step out of line in Iraq. The only recommendation from the ISG that has gone into his "new" strategy is to embed American forces with Iraqi units, who he claims are preparing to filter through Baghdad afresh, going from house to house to "regain the confidence of the Iraqi people."

Here's the problem: U.S. forces don't quite trust those Iraqi forces, which Larry Korb from the Center for American Progress just pointed out to me by telephone, aren't multi-sectarian: they're either Shiite regiments or Sunni, and more than a few Americans have suspected some of them of taking part in the ethnic cleansing that's tearing Iraq apart. So we're going to filter about 16,000 troops into these units, with another 4,000 additional troops going to Anbar Province, which Bush tonight called the "most violence province in Iraq outside of Baghdad." So, what can 4,000 troops do in the second most violent province in Iraq? Dr. Korb and I agreed on this one: not much.

And since our force level in Iraq is now at around 135,000, adding 21,000 more bumps it up to 156,000, and guess what folks, we've been there before, and even at higher troops levels. It didn't work then, it won't work now.

So what were the highlights of Bush's tete a tete with America?

9:01 - Bush blames al-Qaida for fomenting the initial violence in Iraq ... in 2006! So what was going on before then, Dubya? And by the way, THERE WAS NO AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ BEFORE WE INVADED. Ah, memories...

Bush links Iran and Syria to Shiite mess-making.

Bush says that mistakes were made, including not sending enough troops in initially, and says "the responsibility for the mistakes lies with me."

9:04 - Bush gets in the obligatory 9/11 reference. Earth to Bush: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11...

Bush also claimed that 80 percent of the sectarian violence in Iraq is taking place within 30 miles of Baghdad -- hence, the need to pour on the troop numbers there.

9:05 - Bush says the initial strategy failed because of too few troops, and too many restrictions on the ones who were there. Later in the speech, he says the Iraqi government, led by the untrustworthy (my word) Mr. Maliki, has agreed to turn the U.S. GI's loose, with no restrictions on entering sectarian neighborhoods. Well that oughta endear us to the natives...

Bush says the Iraq government will appoint some new military commandersand such, and deploy 18 brigades of military police types across the 9 districts in Baghdad, apparently with embedded American troops therein. The total U.S. troop commitment Bush is looking for amounts to more than 20,000 troops, including, as mentioned before, 4,000 for Anbar Province. (Even the neocons and their new king, John McCain, acknowledge that if you're surgin', 20,000 ain't enough. But as Dr. Korb just pointed out to me, we haven't got more than the 20,000 Bush is calling for, if we even have that many...)

Bush claims that what's new here (recall, this would be about our third bite at the surge apple,) is that U.S. troops will be unfettered by "political" restrictions, and they'll have the forces necessary to "clear and hold" areas of the city. I guess we'll just have to lean on the Lord for hope there.

9:08 - Bush says he has told Mr. Maliki that the U.S. commitment in Iraq is "not open ended," and that if the Iraqis don't play ball, they'll "lose the support of the American people..." Um ... Mr. Bush ... there IS no more support from the American people.

Bush says that "reducing ther violence in Iraq will make reconciliation possible," and that the U.S. will "hold the Iraqis" to his magic benchmarks." Goodie!

9:10 - You knew this was coming. Bush said the U.S. will give commanders on the ground more flexibility to spend reconstruction funds, and .. he plans to DOUBLE the number of so-called "reconstruction teams" (read civilian contractors) who will teach those poor buggers in Iraq how to run their oil economy and rebuild the country we f---ed up for them.

9:13 - Bush claims that a captured document proves that al-Qaida is seeking to create a new base in Iraq's Anbar province. So, 4,000 troops are going to clean that up? Fabulous!

9:13 - this was the point where Bush essentially threw out the threat to Iran, and secondarily to Syria. We're steaming into the Gulf, bitches. And we're tagging you for every Shiite-led attack on Iraqis and Americans. Boo!

Meanwhile, on Friday, Bushie is sending his gal pal Condi to the region to ... um ... well, it's probably mostly for a photo op, or to mollify that puffter Tony Blair. Oh, Palestine, Israeli crisis, moan, moan, moan...!

Big finish - Bush gravely warns the American people that "the terrorists" will make the next year a bloody, violent one. "We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties." He says that "victory in Iraq will not look like the wars our fathers fought. ... there will be no surrender on a battlefield" or some such malarky. No shit, Sherlock. In fact, there likely will be no victory at all.

And Bush warns that those who are looking for a withdrawal from Iraq would need to tell us what happens next. Says Bush, if we were to break for the exits, the Iraqi government would collapse, and it would be deep doo-doo for the region. He appeared to be trying to put not just Democrats and renegade Republicans on the spot, but also the named governments of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere, who have been cold comfort for him during the long, strange crapshoot in Iraq.

Oh, and there's going to be a new "bi-partisan working group" on "winning the war on terror." And guess who's going to be on board? Well, here's a hint: he's the only member of Congress mentioned by name tonight in Bush's speech, he used to be Democrat, thinks Dubya is a "great leader", and it's someone the Prez has been known to smooch from time to time.

If I'm a Connecticut Democrat, I'm feeling like quite the dumbass tonight. And I'm thinking recall...

Related: Interesting note, the Dems rolled out Barack Obama to the chat shows (Larry King Live and MSNBC) to respond to Bush's speechie. I know Hillary must just want to choke him...

Related 2: Dems, and many Republicans are on the record with their disdain for the president's plan.

Update, 10:16: On Scarborough, Lawrence O'Donnell just pointed out that in New York City tonight, there are 45,000 police on patrol. So adding less than half that number to Baghdad is almost completely meaningless...

Update: Sam Brownback, the conservative Republican who's also running for president, jumps ship

ABC News repots Bush isn't waiting for Congress. His surge is already under way ... Meanwhile, while Bush escalates, the British are cutting bait.

10:27 update: Hillary Clinton has issued a statement opposing the troop surge. It has begun in earnest. As Pat Buchanan says, the right position on Iraq is anti-war.

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posted by JReid @ 9:24 PM  
Quick take headlines
Sharpton for president?

Jason Kidd socks his spouse in the eye ... legally...

James Brown is cooling his heels at his home, rather than in the grave...

SMU may not be so thrilled about housing Dubya's library.

What happened in Somalia? Accounts differ...

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posted by JReid @ 11:04 AM  
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Quick take headlines, Tuesday
The U.S. wags the dog hits al-Qaida targets in Somalia, a day ahead of Dubya's "stay the course, only better!" speech.

And how are those poll numbers looking, Dubya?

Meanwhile, the Dems are still muddling over how to stop the president, or whether to stop him at all...

Speaking of the speech, it appears it was crafted, along with the strategy that goes with it is your resident nut-job, who once wanted to go to war with North Korea.

There's new Saddam death video...

First up on the oversight hot plate: Condi Rice.

Geraldo is eventually going to get his sorry ass kicked by Keith Olbermann.

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posted by JReid @ 10:10 AM  
Monday, January 08, 2007
The wonderful thing about Tigger...
... is that he'll beat your behind and keep on smiling. Let's go to the videotape:

Ha! If you ask me, the kid did something. He probably tried to

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posted by JReid @ 10:27 AM  
Friday, January 05, 2007
The Rehnquist files
Digging further into the files on the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is interesting, to say the least. I linked to it yesterday, but in case you missed it, here's just a taste:

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s Senate confirmation battles in 1971 and 1986 were more intense and political than previously known, according to a newly released FBI file that also offers dramatic new details about Rehnquist’s 1981 hospitalization and dependence on a painkiller.

The FBI file on Rehnquist, released last week under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that in 1971, as Rehnquist’s confirmation hearings for associate justice approached, the Nixon Justice Department asked the FBI to run a criminal background check on at least two potential witnesses who were expected to testify against Rehnquist. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover approved the request.

In July 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Rehnquist to be chief justice, the Justice Department asked the FBI to interview witnesses who were preparing to testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona in the early 1960s. According to a memo in the Rehnquist file, an unnamed FBI official cautioned that the department “should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats’ witnesses.” But then-Assistant Attorney General John Bolton — who more recently served as ambassador to the United Nations — signed off on the request and said he would “accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI.” It is unclear whether the FBI ever interviewed the witnesses.

Also in 1986, the FBI conducted an intensive investigation into Rehnquist’s dependence on Placidyl, a strong painkiller that he had taken since the early 1970s for insomnia and back pain. Rehnquist’s bout with drug dependence had been made public in 1981, when he was hospitalized for his back pain and suffered withdrawal symptoms when he stopped taking the drug.

The FBI’s 1986 report on Rehnquist’s drug dependence was not released at the time of his confirmation, though some Democratic senators wanted it made public. But it is in Rehnquist’s now-public file, and it contains new details about his behavior during his weeklong hospital stay in December 1981. One physician whose name is blocked out told the FBI that Rehnquist expressed “bizarre ideas and outrageous thoughts. He imagined, for example, that there was a CIA plot against him.” ...
Read on, it gets better.

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posted by JReid @ 8:39 AM  
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Quick take headlines, January 4th
Guess who thinks he can read your mail!!!

PresidentSenator Hillary Clinton gets in touch with her inner Obama as she plots her course back to the White House...

Democrats are weighing what to do about Iraq, and whether to stop Bush, or enable him.

Meanwhile, McClatchy's Washington bureau reports that Bush's troop bump may not be all it's cracked up to be:
WASHINGTON - President Bush plans to order extra U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a new push to secure Baghdad, but in smaller numbers than previously reported, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The president, who is completing a lengthy review of Iraq policy, is considering dispatching three to four U.S. combat brigades to Iraq, or no more than 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, the officials said. Bush is expected to announce his decision next week.

Typically, a combat brigade comprises about 3,500 combat troops and more than 1,000 support personnel.

"Instead of a surge, it is a bump," said a State Department official. He spoke on condition of anonymity, because Bush hasn't yet unveiled details of what the White House is calling a "new way forward" in Iraq.

Bush had been considering proposals to send a much larger contingent into Baghdad -- as many as 30,000-40,000 soldiers and Marines.

Some experts doubt that the smaller deployment would be sufficient to halt Iraq's escalating civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
Ya think???
To marshal even 15,000 to 20,000 additional troops, Bush would have to accelerate the return of some units to the battlefield, cutting their time to train between deployments.

Advocates of a "surge" in U.S. troop levels have argued that to be effective in halting the violence, the United States would have to send a significant number of troops for an extended period of time.

Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy research center, recently briefed the White House on his plan to send 32,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Baghdad and volatile Anbar province. The troops would remain in Iraq for 18 months.

On Wednesday, Kagan cautioned against over-interpreting the number of troops being sent. More important, he said, is the number of individual combat brigades and battalions sent to Iraq and how they're deployed.

The State Department official said that, even at this late juncture, administration officials are debating what the extra troops would do.
So the neocons still in charge of U.S. policy want a full-on escalation, but Team Bush hasn't even gotten straight what the extra forces would do? Priceless... And what happens if we surge and it doesn't work, Mr. Kagan? ... hm....

On another matter not directly related to the McCain doctrine:
“I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on supporting a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border to placate anti-immigrant hardliners. Via ThinkP.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... John "Death Squad" Negroponte is stepping down as DNI in order to head over to State. What's that about?

Via RawStory and the Legal Times, was Justice Rehnquist a drug addict, in the Limbaugh sense of the word?

The Pentagon wants to make science .cool. Hope it works.

And Obama, Osama, tomato, tomahto... you know...

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posted by JReid @ 10:14 AM  
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Quick take headlines, Tuesday, Janurary 2
The Denver Broncos loose far more than a playoff berth.

Dubya is eulogizing Gerald Ford today, then he'll start gearing up for how to break it to the American people that he's going to escalate the war in Iraq. Not that his fellow Republicans are down for it.

Then there's word from CNN that the U.S. reportedly sought to delay the execution of Saddam Hussein for a few weeks ... to time it for George W. Bush's state of the union speech ... er ... to prevent it looking like the latest Shia revenge killing.

Bring out the nut jobs ... they're seeing UFOs in Chi-town...

Rudy's battle plans revealed... and HE calls it a dirty trick! Ha!

Goode ... still bad.

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posted by JReid @ 10:41 AM  
Saturday, December 30, 2006
U.S. troops continue to sour on the war
The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown in creasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s han dling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, ac cording to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll re spondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slight ly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While ap proval of the president’s war lead ership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.
Another interesting bit of info from the article, two thirds of those surveyed in the poll have been deployed to Iraq at least once. But in the overall active duty force, an incredible 72 percent of U.S. military personnel have been deployed at least once to Iraq. Bush's approval rating among the military remains relatively high, at 52 percent according to this poll, but that's down sharply from 71 percent in 2004. And then there's this:
While Bush fared well overall, his political party didn’t. In the three previous polls, nearly 60 percent of the respondents identi fied themselves as Republicans, which is about double the popula tion as a whole. But in this year’s poll, only 46 percent of the mili tary respondents said they were Republicans. However, there was not a big gain in those identifying themselves as Democrats — a fig ure that consistently hovers around 16 percent. The big gain came among people who said they were independents.

Similarly, when asked to de scribe their political views on a scale from very conservative to very liberal, there was a slight shift from the conservative end of the spectrum to the middle or moderate range. Liberals within the military are still a rare breed, with less than 10 percent of re spondents describing themselves that way.
Interesting. How did the media fare?
The poll asked, “How do you think each of these groups view the military?” Respondents over whelmingly said civilians have a favorable impression of the mili tary (86 percent). They even thought politicians look favorably on the military (57 percent). But they are convinced the media hate them — only 39 percent of mili tary respondents said they think the media have a favorable view of the troops.
Ouch! And what about the leadership in Washington?
The poll also asked if the senior military leadership, President Bush, civilian military leadership and Congress have their best in terests at heart.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed said the senior military leadership has the best interests of the troops at heart. And though they don’t think much of the way he’s handling the war, 48 percent said the same about President Bush. But they take a dim view of civilian military lead ership — only 32 percent said they think it has their best inter ests at heart. And only 23 percent think Congress is looking out for them.
Actually, I think the fact that fewer than half of respondents thought the president has their best interests at heart is shocking, while the Congressional number isn't really surprising, given the clear fact that it's the military contractors the 109th Congress showed the greatest concern for over...

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posted by JReid @ 2:34 PM  
Friday, December 29, 2006
Saddam Hussein executed in Iraq

CNN is reporting, based on news reports in Arab media, that Saddam Hussein was hanged shortly after 10 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time. At this point the reports are unconfirmed, but Iraqi TV is reportedly broadcasting that information to the citizens there. I guess Bush won't get his State of the Union split screen after all...

Although the U.S. has taken pains to distance itself from the event, so that it doesn't look like it's being carried out by mere viceroys (good luck convincing the Muslim world of that...) there was a bizarre twist at the last minute, with Hussein's lawyers appealing in U.S. district court to try and stay the handover of the former dictator from U.S. to Iraqi custody. There's a lot of rich irony in this paragraph from a Bloomberg account:
Gilman told the judge that Hussein is petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus to force the U.S. government to let him argue that his rights are being violated.
I guess Hussein's lawyers didn't realize that in the Bush era, the U.S. doesn't do habeas corpus ... sort of like a certain dictator we know...

10:33 update: CNN now reporting that Iraqi state run TV is confirming that Hussein is dead. His half-brother and intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, who was chairman of the Revolutionary Court that ordered 148 Shiite villagers in the village of Dujail, north of Baghdad in 1982, after an assassination attempt there, also are (or already have been) on the gallows. I can't help but wonder if it's significant that Hussein was hanged on the day of the high point of the Muslim Hajj (he wasn't exactly a model Muslim, though not surprisingly, he seemed to find religion at the end...)

True to form for our violent little duchy in the desert, Iraqi state run television couldn't even get the scoop on the Hussein execution -- that honor went to U.S.-run al-Hurrah TV, the Bush administration, and outfits like CNN (which broke the story first.) The BBC concurs that the U.S. trying to portray this as a purely Iraqi event, but it appears that story isn't going to be quite believable. More on that and reax from London here. This reaction is typical:
Kamil Mahdi, Iraqi expatriate, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter university

Quite honestly, I don't think much of it any more, given what's happening in Iraq. It will be taken as an American decision. The worst thing is that it's an issue which, in an ideal situation, should have unified Iraq but the Americans have succeeded in dividing the Iraqis.
Iraqi Shiites and Kurds will no doubt rejoice at the execution of their tormentor, who ran Iraq like his own private fear factory. Sunni reaction, both in Iraq, and around the world, remains to be seen., by the way, does the videotape. And I suppose Dubya will make some sort of sober sounding statement, as soon as he and Laura and the puppies are through hiding in the armored car from that tornado alert in Texas... (ahem) But will Bush benefit from Saddam's offing? signs point to no, according to John Zogby and other analysts, unless Iraq is somehow magically pacified, stat.

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posted by JReid @ 10:19 PM  
Quick takes for Friday, December 29
Tomi Rae says she's James Brown's wife... the fourth wife, that is... and adds more meat to the matter of just why she want the keys to the padlock on the Godfather of Soul's home...

Duke rape prosecutor Mark Nifong gets a smack from the North Carolina Bar. The Smoking Gun has the docs.

Saddam Hussein's death appears to be imminent and that his death by hanging will likely be videotaped. In fact, the U.S. may hand the former Iraqi dictator over to Iraqis as early as today. Assuming he survives long enough to make it to the gallows, the execution could take place in days, weeks, or maybe on Dubya's State of the Union speech day!

Ford, Nixon were BFFs... And Ford's pardon of Nixon may not have been the bald escape from justice that some have judged it to be:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 — President Gerald R. Ford was never one for second-guessing, but for many years after leaving office in 1977, he carried in his wallet a scrap of a 1915 Supreme Court ruling. A pardon, the excerpt said, “carries an imputation of guilt,” and acceptance of a pardon is “a confession of it.”

Mr. Ford’s decision to pardon Richard M. Nixon for any crimes he might have been charged with because of Watergate is seen by many historians as the central event of his 896-day presidency. It also appears to have left him with an uncharacteristic need for self-justification, though friends say he never wavered in his insistence that the pardon was a wise and necessary act and that it had not resulted from any secret deal with his disgraced predecessor.

“I must have talked to him 20 times about the pardon, and there was never a shred of doubt that he’d done the right thing,” said James Cannon, a Ford domestic policy adviser and author of a 1994 book about his presidency. During one of their discussions, Mr. Ford pulled out the 1915 clipping, from Burdick v. United States. “It was a comfort to him,” Mr. Cannon said. “It was legal justification that he was right.”

Over the last three decades, as emotions have cooled, many who were initially critical of the pardon have come to share Mr. Ford’s judgment that it was the best way to stanch the open wound of Watergate. In 2001, a bipartisan panel selected Mr. Ford as recipient of the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library, singling out for praise his pardon decision, which Mr. Ford later said he believed was a major factor in his failure to win election to the presidency in 1976.

In a 2004 interview with Bob Woodward, reported Thursday night on The Washington Post’s Web site, Mr. Ford offered another, less lofty motive for the pardon: his friendship with Nixon, which lasted for two decades after the pardon and which letters show was closer than publicly understood.

“I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon,” Mr. Ford told Mr. Woodward, “because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn’t want to see my real friend have the stigma.”

Few dramas in American political history remain more riveting than that of Nixon’s exit and Mr. Ford’s reaction, at first halting and then decisive, to the looming possibility of a former president on criminal trial for months on end.

“At the time, I thought this was going to cause a problem with the public and the press, and of course it did,” said Robert T. Hartmann, a former Ford aide. “I thought he was right. But it’s also important to be seen as right and remembered in history as having done the right thing.”
Meanwhile, here's an interesting picture, from the Times today:


Welcome back to Mogadishu...

Someday we may find out what Bush's new strategy on Iraq will be...

And I don't care what the FDA says, I'm not eating cloned animal food...

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posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Quick takes Thursday, December 28
Gerald Ford disagreed with President Bush's decisions regarding Iraq. He told Bob Woodward, but had Woodward pledge not to reveal the information until after his death. Before he died Ford had expressed support for Bush's war.

An American general says "this is no longer our war in Iraq."

Meanwhile, Bob Novak says what I've been saying all along, that John McCain's war stance is hurting him.

The Pentagon is preparing for escalation ... they may have to go through Joe Biden to get it.

Chuck Hagel apparently thinks Bush is out to lunch when it comes to Iraq, where the latest news is on the killing of Moqtada al-Sadr's top deputy.

The Somali government claims victory over Islamists in Mogadishu.

James Brown will lie in state at the Apollo.

Edwards is all in.

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posted by JReid @ 9:35 AM  
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Death of the 'accidental' president

Gerald Ford has died at 93 years of age. He was the longest living ex-president, and the only president to serve, never having been elected (Bush's 2000 "election" notwithstanding...) Whatever the hallmarks of his tenure (those images of the last choppers rising away from a desperate Saigon as Ford brought an end to the tragic Vietnam war, the Helsinki accords, surviving not one, but two assassination attempts -- ironic as he was a member of the Warren Commission -- being the first "Saturday Night Live" president, and making Chevy Chase a star, and his being among the last of a dying breed of relatively moderate Republicans. ... oh an add one more: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens ... may he live to torment the wackadoo right for many years to come... and yeah, gifting the world with the public careers George H.W. Bush, his CIA director, Don Rumsfeld, his SecDef, and ... yeesh ... then Chief of Staff Dick Cheney...) he will forever be known for his most controversial decision: the "full, free and absolute pardon" of Richard M. Nixon on September 8, 1974, avoiding what could have been a savage and ugly court battle. (read the full text of the pardon without commentary here.)

Ford defended the pardon to the end, and many historians agree with him, that like Lincoln after the Civil War, Ford chose the path of national healing. After Watergate, Vietnam, Roe v. Wade, the civil rights struggles and more, America was an exhausted, beaten down, angry nation, desperately in need of healing. And Gerald Ford was the healer in chief. Maybe the historians have a point, though the questions, about whether there were back-room deals with Alexander Haig, or with party leaders, or with Nixon himself, will always linger over the pardon, along with the unrequited yearning for Nixon's confession of guilt (he claimed until the end, to have been impeached because he "lost political support...")

Although, there is something to the argument that Nixon should have been made to answer for his crimes, and give the country their catharsis that way. But given how bitterly divided we were then, and the 30 year outgrowth of partisan hatred and retribution that followed the pardon (including the "revenge impeachment" of Bill Clinton by hysterical, ultra-partisan Republicans in Congress), imagine the civil war that would have erupted between Democrats and Republicans had Nixon been clapped in irons. (More on Ford's "fast, clean start" here)

I guess it's a question for history. Ford, for his part, is now at rest. (Image credit:

Links: What Bush can learn from Ford

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posted by JReid @ 6:23 PM  
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The big payback?
You knew there was going to be some big drama in the wake of James Brown's death, as if passing away on Christmas Day after breathing "I'm going away now" in a hospital bed, following a diagnosis of walking pneumonia at the dentist's office wasn't dramatic enough... So here it is:

James Brown had a girl right up until the end of his life. His children from previous unions and their attorney have allegedly locked the woman, backup dancer Tomi Rae Hynie, out of the home she shared with The Godfather of Soul and their five year old child.
Padlocked, that is...

Brown's lawyer Buddy Dallas told The Associated Press. "I have not even been in the house, nor will I until appropriate protocol is followed." He also stated on Tuesday that the late singer and Tomi Rae were not legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for estate legal reasons.

Apparently Tomi Rae Hynie was already married to a Texas man in 2001 when she married Brown according to the attorney, making her marriage to Brown illegal, attorney Dallas said. He said Hynie later annulled the previous marriage, but she and Brown never remarried.

"I suppose it would mean she was, from time to time, a guest in Mr. Brown's home," Dallas said.

On Monday, the 73-year-old Brown died at an Atlanta hospital, and Hynie, 36, discovered that the gates to their Beech Island, S.C., home was padlocked. Hynie claims to have a legal right to live in the home with the couple's 5-year-old son.

"This is my home," Hynie told a reporter outside the house. "I don't have any money. I don't have anywhere to go."

Attorney Dallas stated to the AP that Brown's estate was left in trust for his children. No further word was revealed on how the property was to be diviided.
However, there were strong indications it would not be divided with Ms. Hynie...

Dallas said Brown and Hynie had not seen each other for several weeks before his death. ...
(Sigh.) I'll tell ya there's no scorn like the scorn of the previous baby's mama's kids... Now, other news reports have said that Brown and Hynie split in 2003, taking out a very public ad saying so, and then supposedly remarried in 2004 (or planned to...) but this article throws that into question. And then there's this, from another wire service story:

Dallas said legal formalities need to be followed now, adding that Brown's estate was left in trust for his children. He declined to elaborate on Brown's final instructions.

“It's not intended and I hope not interpreted to be an act of unkindness or an act of a lack of sympathy,” Dallas said. “Ms. Hynie has a home a few blocks away from Mr. Brown's home where she resides periodically when she is not with Mr. Brown. She is not without housing or home.”
So which is it? Does she have nowhere to go or doesn't she? Curious. BTW the AP story above refers to Ms. Hynie as Brown's "partner" -- maybe it's a Cali thing. The first fire story, via Monsters and Critics, calls her his "common law wife."

Anyway, on a different note, here's the reax from Rev. Al Sharpton, who cited Brown as a semial influence.

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posted by JReid @ 3:20 PM  
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