Voting in Baghdad was linked with receipt of food rations, several voters said after the Sunday poll.
Many Iraqis said Monday that their names were marked on a list provided by the government agency that provides monthly food rations before they were allowed to vote.
”I went to the voting centre and gave my name and district where I lived to a man,” said Wassif Hamsa, a 32-year-old journalist who lives in the predominantly Shia area Janila in Baghdad. ”This man then sent me to the person who distributed my monthly food ration.”
Mohammed Ra'ad, an engineering student who lives in the Baya'a district of the capital city reported a similar experience.
Ra'ad, 23, said he saw the man who distributed monthly food rations in his district at his polling station. ”The food dealer, who I know personally of course, took my name and those of my family who were voting,” he said. ”Only then did I get my ballot and was allowed to vote.”
”Two of the food dealers I know told me personally that our food rations would be withheld if we did not vote,” said Saeed Jodhet, a 21-year-old engineering student who voted in the Hay al-Jihad district of Baghdad.
There has been no official indication that Iraqis who did not vote would not receive their monthly food rations.
Monday, January 31, 2005
I don’t have a lot to say about the Iraqi elections because it’s way too early to know exactly what happened and what its ultimate effect will be. Yes, the pictures are moving, but really, a little perspective please. Reporting out of Baghdad in 2005 mirrors reporting out of San Salvador in 1984. That was said to be a magnificent success and an expression of a people’s willingness to brave violence in order to express their commitment to Western style democracy. We heard the same stories; people waiting on long lines; telling off guerrillas, walking miles for the right to exercise their democratic rights. Most of this turned out to be an illusion, created by the U.S. military and intelligence forces there, and the voting percentages turned out to be a fraction of what a quiescent media reported at the time. U.S. supported (and perhaps created) death squads continued to exercise their campaign of mass murder, unconcerned with the results of meaningless elections.
A U.S. judge ruled on Monday that the Guantanamo military tribunals for terrorism suspects are unconstitutional.
In a setback for the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green also ruled the prisoners at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have constitutional protections under the law.
"The court concludes that the petitioners have stated valid claims under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that the procedures implemented by the government to confirm that the petitioners are 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite detention violate the petitioners' rights to due process of law," Green wrote.
And compare this:
Bush administration attorneys argued the prisoners have no constitutional rights.
"From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights." - George W. Bush, Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2005.
Even those in Guantanamo, George?
I didn't think so.
Here is an interesting take on it from the Liberal Oasis.
They wanted a convoluted caucus system (discussed here in 11/03) that would be easier to manipulate, but they relented under pressure from Ayatollah Sistani.
However, that doesn’t mean the Bushies gave up on influencing the outcome.
They gave CIA-buddy Iyad Allawi, who has his own slate in the elections, a leg up by maneuvering to appoint him interim prime minister.
Giving Ahmed Chalabi some anti-American sheen by driving a public wedge between him and White House, easing his transition to being a prominent member of the Sistani-endorsed slate.
In turn, the US has old friends on two rival slates, the two expected to win the most votes. Very convenient.
That coupled with this lovely quote from GOP pollster Frank Luntz:
"Americans will watch the pictures over the next few days and you'll see supportmakes it pretty obvious to me that the whole thing is manipulated.
for the war increase. The pictures over the last few months have been negative. These are the first positive visuals and it will have an impact on American public opinion."
So forgive me if I curb my enthusiasm.
Something approaching 20 percent of them were simply blank. Others began with, or consisted entirely of, the preamble "(Please delete these words and type your own message here.)" Others referred to Dr. Dobson as Dr. Dobsin, Dr. Dobsen, or Mr. Dobbins. Many were cut-and-paste repetitions of one another, and about 20 percent were from false e-mail addresses.
One particularly useful one included the actual instructions on the Website as to how to conduct the campaign...
Firstly, you wouldn’t think a member of this group could misspell “Christian,” but sure enough, one of the missives had the word as “Christain” three times. I think just about every word you could imagine was butchered at some point (and we’re not talking typos here - we’re talking about repeated identical misspellings):
Spong, Spounge, Spnge - presumably meaning “Sponge.”
Dobsin, Dobsen, Debsin, Dubsen, Dobbins - presumably Dr. Dobson.
Sevility— I’m not sure about this one. This might be “civility,” or it might refer to the city in Spain.
The best of them was not a misspelling but a Freudian slip of biblical proportions. A correspondent, unhappy that I did not simply agree with her fire-and-brimstone forecast for me, wrote “I showed respect even though I disagreed with you and yet you have the audacity to call me intelligent.”
Well, you have me there, Ma’am. My mistake.
DUBYA: How old is your child, Carl?
CARL: Fourteen years old.
DUBYA: Yes, 14. Well, if she were --
CARL: He, sir.
DUBYA: He - excuse me. I should have done the background check. She will -- when she gets ready to -- when she's 50, the system will be broke, if my math is correct. - Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2005
He just told TOLD you it was "he," numbnuts, not "she."
If your math is correct? You can't even keep gender straight.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
President Bush cautioned that Iraq's elections will not put an end to terrorist violence. But he said the vote will mark the beginning of peace, stability, prosperity and justice for the troubled country.
George? It is a "troubled country" because you invaded it.
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Democratic leadership and Ranking Democratic Members sent a letter to President Bush asking him to direct the release of all contracts for secret publicity campaigns to promote Administration policies.
The text of the letter follows.
January 28, 2005
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to request that you direct each department and agency of the Executive Branch to disclose to the appropriate Committee of the House of Representatives all public relations and advertising contracts signed during your Administration.
Over the past year, multiple investigations have revealed that federal agencies have employed secret publicity campaigns to promote administration priorities.
· In separate analyses, the Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy violated the congressional prohibition on publicity and propaganda by distributing fabricated video news reports.
· An investigative report by USA Today revealed that the Department of Education paid a conservative commentator to support the No Child Left Behind Act in television and radio appearances.
· Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported the Department of Health and Human Services had a contract with a syndicated columnist who promoted the President’s marriage initiative.
· A newly released congressional report found that public relations spending has more than doubled during the Bush Administration.
· And today, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and Salon.com reported that the Department of Health and Human Services paid another conservative commentator thousands of dollars to support the marriage initiative, including by speaking about the importance of marriage to churches and community organizations.
These developments raise serious concerns. Covert propaganda campaigns are unethical and illegal. Those disclosed to date mislead the American people about public policy and deceive the news media and press about the credibility of critiques of Administration policies. We very much hope the contracts revealed to this point are an aberration and not part of a pattern across federal agencies.
To assist us in understanding the scope of public relations and propaganda contracted for by federal agencies, we request that you provide to the Democratic Leader, and to the appropriate Committee of jurisdiction, the following:
(1) All contracts executed during the Bush Administration with public relations firms, advertising agencies, public opinion research firms, media organizations, and individual members of the media, including any modifications of such contracts.
(2) All subcontracts executed under the contracts identified under (1), including any modifications of such subcontracts.
(3) Any documents or communications that describe or assess the work performed under these contracts and subcontracts.
(4) A copy of the justification and approval documents for any of these contracts entered into using less than full and open competition.
The possibility of a widespread practice of covert propaganda raises the most serious of concerns. The Congress, the press, and the American people all deserve a full disclosure of the Administration’s policy on such propaganda.
It has already been nearly one month since the Democratic Leader and Ranking Members Henry Waxman, George Miller, David Obey, and Elijah Cummings wrote to you requesting full disclosure of these contracts. To date, we have received no reply to that inquiry. Now that there have been additional revelations, we would appreciate your cooperation with this inquiry, and would appreciate a complete response by March 1, 2005.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, House Democratic Whip
Rep. Robert Menendez, Chairman, House Democratic Caucus
Rep. James E. Clyburn, Vice Chair, House Democratic Caucus
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Co-Chair, Steering and Policy Committee
Rep. Dave R. Obey, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations
Rep. Ike Skelton, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Armed Services
Rep. John M. Spratt, Jr., Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Budget
Rep. George Miller, Ranking Minority Member Committee on Education and the Workforce
Rep. John D. Dingell, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Government Reform
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Homeland Security
Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on House Administration
Rep. Tom Lantos, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on International Relations
Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Rules
Rep. Bart Gordon, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Science
Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Small Business
Rep. James L. Oberstar, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Transportation
Rep. Lane Evans, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Ways and Means
If one of your Congressmen is among the signees, send him or her a note of thanks.
Harold Ickes, a leading Democratic activist and former aide to President Clinton, said Friday he is backing Howard Dean to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee - giving a powerful boost to the front-runner.
I think Howard Dean may be just what the Coalition of the Spineless needs to wake them up.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Democrats Bash Bush Social Security Plan
By LAURA MECKLER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats lashed out Friday against President Bush's plan to add personal accounts to Social Security and accused his administration of improperly using the Social Security Administration to promote the plan.
In the first place, it describes what the Democrats are doing as "bashing." Those nasty Democrats - they bash, bash, bash. And poor George is the bashee. Don't you feel sorry for poor George, being bashed like that?
And in the second place, they call them "personal" accounts instead of private accounts. As you probably know, Bush has been trying to get journalists to stop using the word "private" when describing privatization, since the word doesn't poll well - even though Bush himself and the Republicans used it as their own word of choice BEFORE they found out that it didn't poll well. And, sure enough, you won't find the word "private" anywhere in the article. So apparently, the "liberal media" is allowing Bush to dictate their vocabulary.
One wonders if Laura Meckler, the author of the article, is one of the reporters that Bush is paying to repeat spin points.
But my guess is that she whores for free.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I still have many Christmas bills to pay. So I'd like to send a message to the administration: THIS SPACE AVAILABLE. I could write about the strong dollar and the shrinking deficit. Or defend Torture Boy, I mean, the esteemed and sage Alberto Gonzales. Or remind readers of the terrific job Condi Rice did coordinating national security before 9/11 - who could have interpreted a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" as a credible threat? - not to mention her indefatigable energy obscuring information undercutting the vice president's dementia on Iraq.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
At least that's what Bush said back in 1978, according to USA Today (and picked up on by Josh Marshall)
According to a July 28th, 2000 article in USA Today, back in 1978 when President Bush was running for congress in Texas, "he predicted Social Security would go broke in 10 years and said the system should give people 'the chance to invest money the way they feel' is best."
As Marshall points out, you can't just Google news from 1978. But there IS Microfilm of the Plainview Daily Herald available somewhere (Heck, it might be available in the New York Public Library, let alone Plainview, TX). So some intrepid Texan should dig up that microfilm. Because if that statement is accurate, it can be used to beat Bush until he squeals.
The United States has become totally parochial. It isn't that the rest of the world is advancing without us and leaving us behind, as Lind argues. It is that that is obvious to everyone in the world except us, because it's happening outside of our borders, and our press keeps us totally ignorant of what is happening outside our borders.
Here is the entire article.
In a second inaugural address tinged with evangelical zeal, George W. Bush declared: "Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world." The peoples of the world, however, do not seem to be listening. A new world order is indeed emerging - but its architecture is being drafted in Asia and Europe, at meetings to which Americans have not been invited.
Consider Asean Plus Three (APT), which unites the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations with China, Japan and South Korea. This group has the potential to be the world's largest trade bloc, dwarfing the European Union and North American Free Trade Association. The deepening ties of the APT member states represent a major diplomatic defeat for the US, which hoped to use the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum to limit the growth of Asian economic regionalism at American expense. In the same way, recent moves by South American countries to bolster an economic community represent a clear rejection of US aims to dominate a western-hemisphere free trade zone.
Consider, as well, the EU's rapid progress toward military independence. American protests failed to prevent the EU establishing its own military planning agency, independent of the Nato alliance (and thus of Washington). Europe is building up its own rapid reaction force. And despite US resistance, the EU is developing Galileo, its own satellite network, which will break the monopoly of the US global positioning satellite system.
The participation of China in Europe's Galileo project has alarmed the US military. But China shares an interest with other aspiring space powers in preventing American control of space for military and commercial uses. Even while collaborating with Europe on Galileo, China is partnering Brazil to launch satellites. And in an unprecedented move, China recently agreed to host Russian forces for joint Russo-Chinese military exercises.
The US is being sidelined even in the area that Mr Bush identified in last week's address as America's mission: the promotion of democracy and human rights. The EU has devoted far more resources to consolidating democracy in post-communist Europe than has the US. By contrast, under Mr Bush, the US hypocritically uses the promotion of democracy as the rationale for campaigns against states it opposes for strategic reasons. Washington denounces tyranny in Iran but tolerates it in Pakistan. In Iraq, the goal of democratisation was invoked only after the invasion, which was justified earlier by claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was collaborating with al-Qaeda.
Nor is American democracy a shining example to mankind. The present one-party rule in the US has been produced in part by the artificial redrawing of political districts to favour Republicans, reinforcing the domination of money in American politics. America's judges -- many of whom will be appointed by Mr Bush -- increasingly behave as partisan political activists in black robes. America's antiquated winner-take-all electoral system has been abandoned by most other democracies for more inclusive versions of proportional representation.
In other areas of global moral and institutional reform, the US today is a follower rather than a leader. Human rights? Europe has banned the death penalty and torture, while the US is a leading practitioner of execution. Under Mr Bush, the US has constructed an international military gulag in which the torture of suspects has frequently occurred. The international rule of law? For generations, promoting international law in collaboration with other nations was a US goal. But the neoconservatives who dominate Washington today mock the very idea of international law. The next US attorney general will be the White House counsel who scorned the Geneva Conventions as obsolete.
A decade ago, American triumphalists mocked those who argued that the world was becoming multipolar, rather than unipolar. Where was the evidence of balancing against the US, they asked. Today the evidence of foreign co-operation to reduce American primacy is everywhere -- from the increasing importance of regional trade blocs that exclude the US to international space projects and military exercises in which the US is conspicuous by its absence.
It is true that the US remains the only country capable of projecting military power throughout the world. But unipolarity in the military sphere, narrowly defined, is not preventing the rapid development of multipolarity in the geopolitical and economic arenas -- far from it. And the other great powers are content to let the US waste blood and treasure on its doomed attempt to recreate the post-first world war British imperium in the Middle East.
That the rest of the world is building institutions and alliances that shut out the US should come as no surprise. The view that American leaders can be trusted to use a monopoly of military and economic power for the good of humanity has never been widely shared outside of the US. The trend toward multipolarity has probably been accelerated by the truculent unilateralism of the Bush administration, whose motto seems to be that of the Hollywood mogul: "Include me out."
In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.
In 1998 Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state, said of the U.S.: "We are the indispensable nation." By backfiring, the unilateralism of Mr Bush has proven her wrong. The US, it turns out, is a dispensable nation.
Europe, China, Russia, Latin America and other regions and nations are quietly taking measures whose effect if not sole purpose will be to cut America down to size.
Ironically, the US, having won the cold war, is adopting the strategy that led the Soviet Union to lose it: hoping that raw military power will be sufficient to intimidate other great powers alienated by its belligerence. To compound the irony, these other great powers are drafting the blueprints for new international institutions and alliances. That is what the US did during and after the second world war.
But that was a different America, led by wise and constructive statesmen like Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who wrote of being "present at the creation." The bullying approach of the Bush administration has ensured that the US will not be invited to take part in designing the international architecture of Europe and Asia in the 21st century. This time, the US is absent at the creation.
President Bush on Wednesday ordered his Cabinet secretaries not to hire columnists to promote their agendas after disclosure that a second writer was paid to tout an administration initiative.
The president said he expects his agency heads will "make sure that that practice doesn't go forward."
Bush said that he had NO IDEA it was happening. Knock him over with a feather. That nasty old cabinet - which, of course, he picked himself - just don't tell him shit. He doesn't know a damned thing about what's happening in his own cabinet until he reads about it in the newspaper, and it's turned into a scandal.
You'd think that would be a firing offense, wouldn't you?
Apparently, it doesn't even warrant a reprimand.
Unless he's lying of course, and he knew all about it.
You know my money is on the latter.
"All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda."
Then why were you?
"Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."
It can't, George.
It can stink from its own rot, though.
"Alberto Gonzales's nomination as attorney general goes before the Senate at a time when the Republican majority is eager to provide newly elected President Bush with the cabinet of his choice, and the Democrats are leery of exposing their weakened status by taking fruitless stands against the inevitable."
I hope to God that the Times is dead wrong. There is no earthly reason for the Democrats to be "leery of exposing their weakened status." Everybody KNOWS that they have a weakened status. Are they under the illusions that it's some sort of secret? Voting with the Republicans and against your principles just because you don't want to lose the vote doesn't HIDE your weakened status; it demonstrates it.
The Democrats absolutely should vote their principles on every single vote, and LOUDLY, even if they lose, lose, lose. Because the purpose of voting, for a minority party, is not just to win votes. The purpose is to buikld a narrative. Send a message. Make a statement. And back your opponents into a corner. The Republicans understand this; it's about time the Democrats figured it out. Remember the flag-burning amendment? The Republicans didn't bring it up because they thought it stood a chance in hell of passing. They brought it up to make the Democrats vote against it.
You vote for your principles even if you lose to force your opponents to back unpopular decisions and to be on record as doing so. This requires that the Democrats stick together in order to force the Republicans into being the ONLY ones responsible for the decisions that they make, and the inevitable fallout from those decisions.
In other words: Alberto Gonzales is going to be a TERRIBLE Attorney General. When that happens, make sure that the Republicans, and only the Republicans are standing there holding the bag. When the next torture scandal breaks in the press, make sure that they OWN it. Because it is GUARANTEED that they will say, "Some Democrats voted for him, too!" if they possibly can.
And you vote your principles to create a narrative about what you believe in and what you stand for that penetrates through to the public.
Introduce Bills that guarantee the protection of Social Security. Make the Republicans vote against it. Be on record as the party that tries to protect Social Security. By voting, you are not merely trying to win or lose, you are stating who you are and what you stand for. By voting AGAINST their principles so they DON'T lose, the Democrats reinforce the perception that they don't stand for much of anything. And it is that perception, more than anything else, that has caused them to lose elections.
If the Democrats keep voting and supporting what they actually believe in, they will lose and lose. But in 2006, they will WIN.
And if they DON'T vote for their principle, the Republicans will win now AND two years from now.
As Harry Truman said, "Give people a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they'll vote for a Republican every time."
Thirty-one U.S. troops were reported killed in a helicopter crash and five more died in insurgent attacks Wednesday in the deadliest day for American forces since they invaded Iraq 22 months ago.
While Condoleeza Rice is on the stand, somebody should tell her to her face that her lies caused these people to die.
And somebody also should tell her George W. Bush that he isn''t even fit to shine their shoes.
He parties; they die.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
"In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.
The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."
This is the mindset of delusion, and delusion permits no facts or analysis. Blind emotion rules. Americans are right and everyone else is wrong. End of the debate."
SpongeBob receives 'unequivocal welcome' from United Church of Christ
Joining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus' message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants - the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.
"Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."
The U.S. budget deficit will reach $368 billion this year before any war costs are added in, the Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday, according to a source familiar with the worse-than-expected numbers.
The previous CBO forecast called for a $348 billion shortfall for the 2005 fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.
Due to a technical quirk, the latest number does not include billions of dollars needed to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and analysts said these must be added in to get a true picture of the red ink.
Hmmmm - "due to a technical quirk." What an interest way of saying "Due to trying to fudge the numbers so they don't look so bad."
Rich Little performed at the inaugural ball, and here's from the Washington Post, spotlighted by David Corn:
"Little said he missed and adored the late President Ronald Reagan and "I wish he was here tonight, but as a matter of fact he is," and he proceeded to impersonate Reagan, saying, "You know, somebody asked me, 'Do you think the war on poverty is over?' I said, 'Yes, the poor lost.' " The crowd went wild."
That isn't something I made up: those are the real Republicans. Laughing their heads off about defeating poor people while indulging in gluttonous excess at a fancy party.
And most of them probably claimed to be Christians.
Reid is not the sort of attack dog that I like, but the man does seem to have some sense and political savvy, which is a rarity in a Democrat these days.
The American Promise
A Future of Security, Opportunity and Responsibility
The Democratic Agenda for the 109th Congress
Senate Democrats open the 109th Congress steadfastly committed to keeping the promise of America, the promise that all Americans who work hard can build a stronger and brighter future for their families. By embracing and affirming our core values of security, opportunity and responsibility, Democrats are united to help America fulfill this promise.
It is the promise of security, that the American way of life and our freedom will be protected by using all the tools to take the fight to the terrorists and standing with those who have served. It is the promise of opportunity so that every American can get the education they need to compete in the 21st century; live in an economy with well paying jobs and high quality health care; and participate in our democracy. Keeping the promise of America also means meeting our responsibilities both to future and past generations by providing our seniors what they have spent a lifetime working for; acting responsibly with taxpayer’s dollars and with our children’s future by restoring fiscal discipline; and enabling women to take responsibility for their health. It is these values that will continue to guide the Democratic agenda as this Congress moves forward.
PUTTING AMERICA’S SECURITY FIRST:
S.11: Standing With Our Troops. Democrats believe that putting America’s security first means standing up for our troops and their families. Democrats will work to increase our military end strength by up to 40,000 by 2007. We will create a Guard and Reserve Bill of Rights to protect and promote the interests of our dedicated citizen soldiers. Democrats will also fight for the families of those who serve our country. This includes providing income security and immediate access to affordable health care.
S. 12: Targeting the Terrorists More Effectively. Keeping America secure means stepping up the fight against the radical Islamic fundamentalism. Democrats will work to increase our Special Operations forces by 2,000 to attack the terrorists where they are and to protect our freedoms here at home. We will further enhance our efforts against enemies by targeting the institutions that spawn new terrorists. Democrats are also united to ensure that the world’s most dangerous weapons stay out of the hands of terrorists. We will expand the pace and scope of programs to eliminate and safeguard nuclear materials, enhance efforts to keep these and other deadly materials out of the hands of terrorists, and assist state and local governments in equipping and training those responsible for dealing with the effects of terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
S. 13: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans. A key component of keeping America secure is protecting the rights of our veterans. Since the time of Lincoln, Americans have made and kept a sacred commitment to those who served this nation in the defense of freedom. As a new generation of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats are united to fulfill that promise. We will ensure that all veterans get the health care they deserve while also expanding the availability and accessibility of mental health care. We will ensure that no veteran is forced to choose between a retirement and disability check. We will also make the same commitment to the soldiers of today that was made to past veterans with a 21st Century GI Bill.
EXPANDING OPPORTUNITY TO ALL AMERICANS:
S. 14: Expanding Economic Opportunity. Democrats understand that the most effective means of increasing opportunity for our families is a high quality, good paying job. Democrats will fight to restore overtime protection to 6 million workers and increase the minimum wage for 7.4 million workers. We must do more to create good jobs today and in the future and the Democratic bill does so by eliminating tax incentives for companies that take jobs overseas, creating new jobs through an expansion of infrastructure programs to repair America’s backbone, and encouratrongging innovation in the American economy. We are also determined to pursue a trade policy that protects American workers and addresses our record trade deficit. Democrats will work to strengthen enforcement of our trade agreements while assisting those workers who have been unduly burdened by unfair trading practices of other nations.
S. 15: Quality Education for All Democrats are committed to providing a quality education to all Americans because we recognize that education has always been the cornerstone of equal opportunity. Democrats will keep our promise to our children by increasing support for pre-school education, fully funding No Child Left Behind and improving its implementation. We are committed to providing safe and reliable transportation for our rural school children and meeting the Federal commitment to children with disabilities. Democrats will also address the shortfall of math, science and special education teachers by creating tuition incentives for college students to major in those fields. We will help expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition, increasing the size and access to Pell Grants and supporting proven programs that encourage more young people to attend and succeed in college.
S. 16: Making Health Care More Affordable. Spiraling health care costs are putting the opportunity of America at risk, making it harder for families to buy health insurance and placing a difficult burden on small businesses and manufacturers. Democrats will address these concerns by making prescription drugs more affordable through the legalization of prescription drug reimportation and more safe by ensuring drugs are monitored after they are approved for use. Democrats will ensure that all children and pregnant women will have health care and protect Medicaid. We will reduce the growing cost of health care to small businesses by offering tax credits while also modernizing health care to cut costs for patients and businesses.
S. 17: Democracy Begins at Home. Equal opportunity in this country is based upon equal representation and fair voting. Democrats are determined to reforming the voting system in this country to create Federal standards for our elections. The bill adds verification, accountability and accuracy to the system. It increases access to the polls with Election Day registration, shorter lines and early voting. The bill also aims to modernize our election equipment and increase impartiality and provides the resources to our states to implement the bill.
MEETING OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THE FUTURE AND THE PAST:
S. 18: Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries. Democrats will take the special interests out of the Medicare law by repealing the provision that prevents Medicare from negotiating better prices for seniors and eliminating the slush fund for HMOs. We will also improve the prescription drug benefit by phasing out the current doughnut hole where seniors pay a premium but get no benefit. We will buy down the Part B premium so premium increases are not too steep. We will address incentives that encourage employers to drop retiree benefits and we will ensure that no seniors are forced into HMOs while helping seniors in their transition to the new benefit.
S. 19: Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future. Democrats know that fiscal mismanagement today only leads to greater problems for our children. It is our responsibility to address the fiscal irresponsibility of the current Administration by imposing discipline today and Democrats are united to strengthen budgeting rules that require the government to live within its means.
S. 20: Putting Prevention First. Democrats are committed to reducing unintended pregnancies by increasing access to family planning services and improving contraceptive coverage. We will increase funding for family planning and empower states to enable more women to take responsibility for their health. We will also improve contraceptive coverage by assuring equity in prescription drug insurance.
Iraqi authorities routinely torture prisoners, a leading human rights group said on Tuesday, citing examples of abuse which will sound all too familiar to those who suffered under Saddam Hussein. Prisoners have been beaten with cables and hose pipes, and suffered electric shocks to their earlobes and genitals, the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch said. Some have been starved of food and water and crammed into standing-room only cells.
"Detainees report kicking, slapping and punching, prolonged suspension from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back, electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body ... and being kept blindfolded and/or handcuffed continuously for several days," the group said in a report.
"In several cases, the detainees suffered what may be permanent physical disability."
Why don't the Iraqi people love us?
Let's see if the Democrats have an ounce of sense. They should use the request for 80 billion to launch a critique of how the money has been spent so far.
They should plainly demand to know EXACTLY where this money is going. They should ask why they have approved 120 billion - so far - and why the troops are digging for scrap metal to armor their vehicles.
Personally, I suspect that we are throwing money down a great big hole, and it's lining the pockets of criminals. And it's up to the Democrats to demand that the White House not just ask for money, but actually account for it.
Monday, January 24, 2005
The falling dollar coupled with the rising deficit. We are playing a game of financial chicken. Our deficit is being financed by the willingness of the overseas community to buy our bonds - according to the article linked, 83% of it.
83 per cent.
And the only reason they are willing to buy our bonds because of the perception that our currency is strong. And our currency is rapidly becoming less strong.
What if they stop buying our bonds? And why wouldn't they?
"If new official flows to the US were to be curtailed, the dollar would plunge, creating a huge hole in the accounts of central banks holding dollars.
"The risk exposure for Asian central banks is already great," concluded Matthew Higgins and Thomas Klitgaard of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a recent paper.
It is sobering to remember that the Soviet Union fell because Osama Bin Laden roped them into bankrupting themselves fighting a foreign war.
"A detailed survey out today suggests that central banks are increasingly moving official reserves out of the dollar and into the euro.
Asian central banks are unlikely to pull the plug on dollar assets altogether. But they may be close to ending their willingness to provide cheap financing for an ever increasing US current account deficit."
This has the potential for genuine disaster, and nobody seems to be doing a damned thing to curtail it.
"Democracy is buying a big house you can't afford with money you don't have to impress people you wish were dead.
And, unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties.
Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold on to -- usually a mop or a leaf blower.
It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money.
Democracy means free television. Not good television, but free.
And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with 13 arrows in one claw, 13 leaves on a branch, 13 tail feathers, and 13 stars over its head -- this signifies that when the white man came to this country, it was bad luck for the Indians, bad luck for the trees, bad luck for the wildlife, and lights out for the American eagle."
"From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights." - George W. Bush, Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2005.
""We believe that there are certain categories of people, like Al Qaeda, who were not covered by Geneva." - Condoleeza Rice, January 18, 2005, Senate Confirmation Hearings.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
A group of nationals from tiny Iceland slammed their government's support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, apologizing to Iraqis in a full-page advertisement in The New York Times on Friday.
The advertisement, paid for with donations from more than 4,000 citizens which constitutes about 1.4 percent of the population, demanded "that Iceland be immediately removed from the list of invaders in the 'coalition of the willing."'
"We apologies to the Iraqi people for the Icelandic ministers' support for the invasion of Iraq," the ad said.
Four out of five Icelanders want their country off the list, according to a Gallup opinion poll published earlier this month.
Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives on FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC during primetime inauguration coverage on January 20, just as they had done earlier in the day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, as Media Matters for America documented. Appearances made by Republicans and conservatives outnumbered appearances made by Democrats and progressives 25 to 4 on FOX, 7 to 1 on CNN (not including a Republican-skewed panel featuring Ohio voters), and 9 to 5 on MSNBC.
President Bush is readying a new budget that would carve savings from Medicaid and other benefit programs, congressional aides and lobbyists say, but it is unclear if he will be able to push the plan through the Republican-run Congress.
But lobbyists and lawmakers' aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he will focus on Medicaid, the health-care program for low-income and disabled people. Medicaid costs are split between Washington and the states.
Nothing like cutting into the medical care of sick poor people right after throwing yourself a giant party. Christianity in action, that.
Many expect him to propose giving states more flexibility in using the $180 billion in federal Medicaid funds each year.
George? You cut money to the states and now they have less "flexibility" than they've ever had. The States are scrounging for money even more than the Federal Government is, thanks to you.
Here's a radical suggestion: stop treating the public treasury as a personal pig trough for your cronies, and use the money for something that's actually decent and helps America.
"Authorities will arrest prominent politician Ahmad Chalabi after the current Islamic religious holiday for allegedly defaming the Defense Ministry, the defense minister said Friday." - Boston Globe
Remember: this was our chief source of information for what we would encounter in Iraq.
But that wasn't a mistake. Bush makes none.
The White House has scrapped its list of Iraq allies known as the 45-member "coalition of the willing," which Washington used to back its argument that the 2003 invasion was a multilateral action, an official said on Friday.
The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the White House replaced the coalition list with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.
The official could not say when or why the administration did away with the list of the coalition of the willing.
Does this mean:
1) The inclusion of 17 members on that list was total bullshit, and the other 28 are just semi-bullshit?
2) 17 of them have since said "THIS is what we agreed to? What were we THINKING?" or
3) The U.S. decided that they didn't want Lower-Speckistan-or-whoever-they-are to call in markers for having donated half a dozen eggs and a frying pan to the Sacred Cause of Endless War?
Friday, January 21, 2005
Somebody actually managed to snowball Dick's car. Heh.
1) How did a guy actually manage to cock his arm and throw something at that car without suffering serious repercussions - like being shot?
2) That car has better armor than any vehicle in Iraq, where they throw bombs, not snowballs.
Bush: I said what?
Too F'in Bad.
Although personally, I think we should agree to this - and start calling it "corporatization," instead.
That would tighten the elastic on Karl Rove's shorts.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Ms. Boxer explained bluntly why she had been so persistent in pressing the national security adviser on what Ms. Boxer portrayed as the administration's misleading and misguided rationale for the war in Iraq.
"The fact is we've lost so many lives over it," she said. "So if we do get a little testy on the point, and I admit to be so, it's because it continues day in and day out, and 25 percent of the dead are from California. We cannot forget. We cannot forget that."
Say that again, and say it loud and say it clear: this ISN'T just political gamesmanship. People have been killed - thousands of them - because of the actions of Condoleeza Rice (and many like-minded cronies, of course).
And unlike Bush, Senator Boxer actually HAS a mandate. She won re-election by twenty points. Not 3.
"The people of California knew exactly what I stood for and said to me, 'Barbara, go and be a truth teller,' " she said in an interview after the hearings.
Had she not been willing to take on Ms. Rice over the buildup to the war, Ms. Boxer said, she would not deserve her seat in the Senate. All she did, she said, was confront the nominee with her own words and the record.
Thank you, Senator. The citizens have the RIGHT to answers. We have the right to a plain explanation of WHY 1300 Americans have been killed, why tens of thousands of American have been wounded, and why ten of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed for reasons that turned out to be FALSE.
Now if we could only get the rest of the Democrats to stop acting like there is something extraordinary about confronting Republicans with their own words and the record.
"Even Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House of Representatives and a supporter of private accounts, says, ``The combination of higher birth rates and more immigration makes the United States the healthiest of developed nations. This is not a crisis.'"
Bush seems to think that being re-elected means he has "political capital," and he can spend it. And he apparently want to spend it on scaring the bejesus out of America by creating a phony crisis.
But gutting Social Security is not something that the Republicans are exactly clamoring for. The issue fractures the Republicans. They are quite sure why in the hell they would WANT to gut an extremely popular program for the sake of a lame-duck President.
I think Bush may wind up squandering that "political capital" like he's squandered the contents of the public treasury.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
An American contractor gunned down last month in Iraq had accused Iraqi Defense Ministry officials of corruption days before his death, according to documents and U.S. officials.
Dale Stoffel, 43, was shot to death Dec. 8 shortly after leaving an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad, an attack attributed at the time to Iraqi insurgents. Also killed was a business associate, Joseph Wemple, 49.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Senate Democrats will filibuster Rice's confirmation in the Senate on Thursday by reading "one hour speeches" according to CNN.
Here's a news article courtesy of IN-FORUM:
Senate Democrats intend to delay Condoleezza Rice's confirmation as secretary of state at least until next week rather than grant her Inauguration Day approval, a spokesman said Wednesday.
"There are a number of Democrats not on the committee that want to have a chance to debate her nomination a couple of hours," said Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
He said Democrats would not seek to prevent Rice's confirmation as the nation's top diplomat, and he predicted her approval within a matter of days. Rice cleared the Foreign Relations Committee earlier in the day, 16-2, a lopsided vote that belied hours of skeptical questioning by Democrats critical of President Bush's foreign policy and his conduct of the war in Iraq.
By contrast, Manley said he expected that Democrats would assent to confirmation on Thursday just after the inauguration of two members of Bush's second-term Cabinet. They are Mike Johans, nominated as secretary of agriculture, and Margaret Spellings, named to take over as education secretary.
The Senate developments unfolded as the nation's outgoing top diplomat, Secretary of State Colin Powell, bid farewell to the workers he called his "family" at the State Department. Powell has not yet formally resigned his post, and isn't expected to do so until Rice is formally sworn in.
"You were my troops, you were America's troops," the former Army general told the workers. "You are the carriers of America's values."
He called Rice "a dear friend" and said she would bring "gifted leadership" to the department.
Rice surmounted two days of sometimes contentious questioning - mostly by Democrats - on the administration's prosecution of the war.
1) Only two Democrats voted against her.
2) One of them was John Kerry.
Kerry has always been a Democrat who was part of the system, as opposed to being a maverick. So I was surprised - and gratified - that he joined Barbara Boxer (who has more balls than *I* have) as a voice of dissent. I would love to see him as a consistent voice of dissent. Unlike many of my fellow left-wing bloggers, I refuse to trash John Kerry for losing an election.
But only two voted against it? Why? Is it some sort of unwritten rule that Democrats must confirm Bush's choices unless they've done something specifically disqualifying - like an ax-murder or something?
The Democrats believe - almost to a person, I think - that Condoleeza Rice has done an atrocious job as National Security Adviser. They need more than that? You've done a bad job. Therefore you don't get promoted. Just like every other job in the entire world. But apparently, they don't think general incompetence and routine dishonesty is enough of a negative.
Sen. John Kerry, who made Bush's management of postwar Iraq an issue in his losing presidential campaign, told Rice Tuesday that "the current policy is growing the insurgency and not diminishing it."
"This was never going to be easy," Rice said in response. "There were going to be ups and downs."
>sigh< He didn't SAY "I thought this was going to be easy." He said "The current policy is growing the insurgency and not diminishing it." What are you responding to? The voice in your head? Or do you always repeat back something differently than what was aksed, and pretend that that was the question?
She then explained this:
"I think the goal is to get the mission accomplished."
Gee, and here I thought that the mission WAS accomplished:
Yes, yes, I know: George only meant that this particular ship had accomplished this particular mission. Or maybe the crew decided on their own to place the banner there, and poor innocent George had nothing to do with it. Or maybe there's some OTHER post-fuckup rationalization that we haven't been given yet.
"The anguish on the faces of these children is raw; the blood on their clothes is fresh. It is likely their parents' blood, though many of the details behind this series of photographs were still unknown Tuesday night." - New York Newsday
The only place I saw this story was in this photo series of one relatively minor newspaper.
"A wave of car bombings shook the Iraqi capital Wednesday, killing at least nine people as rebels stepped up their offensive to block the Jan. 30 national election. Other attacks were reported north and south of the capital, but the U.N. election chief said only a sustained onslaught could stop the ballot." - AP News
Why, thank you, U.N. election chief, for telling the bombers what was required. One sustained onslaught, here we come.
It's become a commonplace of the news media that the increase in bombing is an attempt to stop the election. But I don't think they expect to stop the election. They are bombing because they can. They are increasing the bombing because they are increasing their control. If there were no impending elections, but everything else was the same, you'd still be seeing an increase in the bombings. Because they will bomb as much as they can, of course, elections or no elections.
Will the elections take place? Well, something that they CALL an election will almost certainly take place. If all the candidates drop out, they will still have an election. They will have one with no candidates OR voters, if they have to. For P.R. purposes, Bush has to have something that he can call an "election" on January 30, even if it's ludicrous. And no matter how big of a sham it turns out to be, he will swear that it is the very essence of "democracy."
But after the election takes place, does anybody think the bombing will stop? Why would it? All it is likely to do is to give the bombers a clearer target.
Democrats have vowed to fight many of his proposals. But Bush said his second term offered the chance for unity because "I'm no longer a threat politically."
"In other words, since I'm not going to run for office again people don't have to view me as a threat and hopefully that will enable people from both parties to come together to get some big things done for the country," he told Fox News.
There are times when I find it amazing that he thinks like this. Does he think that people only oppose him because of politics? Does he actually not get that people are against his policies because they believe that they are WRONG?
I honestly don't think that mundane considerations like true and false or right and wrong even occur to Bush. I think HE regards everything as political, so he thinks everyone else must, too.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Barbara Boxer gets that. To my surprise, Joe Biden seems to also.
"You sent them in there because of weapons of mass destruction. Later the mission changed when there were none," Boxer told Rice. "Let's not rewrite history, it's too soon to do that."
"It wasn't just weapons of mass destruction," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein supported terrorism, attacked Kuwait and Israel and needed to be removed given the new U.S. threat perception after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
When the hell was that ever given as a justification? That was 12 years ago.
"Weapons of Mass Destruction" was the ONLY damned reason that Americans supported the military action in the first place. That's WHY Bush used it. If Bush had said "We have to go to war in Iraq because he attacked Kuwait 12 year ago" nobody but a handful of lunatics would given that a moment's consideration. The justification for this war has done nothing but shift, and the press has refused to make a big deal out of it.
"We can have this discussion in any way that you would like, but I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity," Rice told Boxer. "I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly."
We really hope that you STOP taking the truth lightly. If you don't want people to impugn your integrity, demonstrate some.
Rice said she believed there were more than 120,000 trained Iraqi forces -- acknowledging problems of absenteeism and desertion -- but drew a quick rebuke from Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, who said he thought the number was closer to 4,000.
Bull's eye. Would anybody like to take a bet that the press won't do it's job, and point up such bald-faced lies, nor will they bother to check the facts and determine how many Iraqi troops actually HAVE been trained? I'll give you odds.
"We must use American diplomacy to help create a balance of power in the world that favors freedom," Rice told the committee. "And the time for diplomacy is now."
Biden shot back: "Despite our great military might we are in my view more alone in the world than we've been in any time in recent memory. The time for diplomacy, in my view, is long overdue."
"I want to start by saying, Karen Hughes is manning the ear piece today. That's right. I'm wired for sound. But who gives a flying shit when you've got political capital and a mandate, right? (Laugh) I can do whatever I want and my fellow Republicans will back me up. Like with that torture stuff. Hell, when that one broke loose, I thought, "Crap! Game over." But leave it to the friendlies. They're actually digging the torture – even that waterboard thing. Thanks for the back-up, El Rushbo!"
"President Bush figures that as long as current retirees are assured that their checks will keep coming in for the next decade or two, that they really don't care what sort of America their young grandchildren will be living in half a century or more from now. In other words, he looks at them and sees himself. But I think America is better than that." - Josh Marshall
Iraqi officials announced Tuesday that they will seal the nation's borders, extend a nighttime curfew and restrict movement inside the country to protect voters during the Jan. 30 vote, which insurgents are seeking to ruin with a campaign of violence. - Attribution
Pardon me for asking, but if they have the ability to seal the borders, why haven't they been sealed up to now?
Monday, January 17, 2005
PRES. ROOSEVELT: Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, my friends, you will understand and I believe agree with my wish that the form of this inauguration be simple and its words brief. We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of our courage, of our resolve, of our wisdom, of our essential democracy. If we meet that test successfully and honorably, we shall perform a service of historic importance, of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time.
MR. RUSSERT: Roosevelt very much did not want a big parade, a lot of pomp and circumstance because we were in war.
MR. MEACHAM: He was in a press conference shortly beforehand. And Congress had appropriated $25,000. And he said, "I can do it for $2000," and made a point of that. When someone asked, "Well, how long will the parade be?" He said, "Who's here to parade?" because so many people were overseas. I think that's a remarkable speech.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
As for perhaps the most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, the administration has so far been unsuccessful in its attempt to locate the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Asked why, Bush said, "Because he's hiding." Attribution
This is EXACTLY the same sort of thinking that Bush showed before 9/11: "When I said there were no warnings, I meant we had no idea of the details." Bush couldn't imagine WHAT he might have done unless the terrorists called him on the telephone and told him the time and place. Same thing. He can't imagine WHAT to do to get Bin Laden unless the guy stands there with a neon sign yelling "Here I am."
Saturday, January 15, 2005
"Graner said a lieutenant in his unit told him, "If (military intelligence) asks you to do this, it needs to be done. They're in charge, follow their orders."
Which lieutenant? What was his name? Who in military intelligence gave the order? And is anybody going to show any interest in finding out? Or is it going to be like the Valerie Plame investigation where nobody investigates too thoroughly because one of Bush's buddies is responsible?
And nobody wants to mention the real tragedy: the only chance that there ever was of turning this situation into anything but a disaster was by winning the support of the Iraqi people. And that's GONE. It has become impossible. And therefore any chance of anything good coming out of this is gone also.
"Iraqi detainee Hussein Mutar, in videotaped testimony shown as the sentencing phase began Friday evening, said he had supported the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein until he was abused.
"The Americans came to free the Iraqi people from Saddam," Mutar said. "I didn't expect this to happen. This instance changed the entire picture of the American people (for me)."
Friday, January 14, 2005
It has come to my attention that your organization has begun running an advertising campaign to promote President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security and cut benefits. The advertisements that are currently being aired feature President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his signing of the original Social Security legislation. I find the use of my grandfather's image and legacy in your campaign to be highly inappropriate.
For seventy years, Social Security has been the bedrock of retirement security for millions of Americans thanks to the efforts of President Roosevelt. My grandfather would surely oppose the ideas now being promoted by this administration and your organization. Not only that, but to compare the courage it took to provide a guaranteed insurance program for our seniors and the disabled to the courage it will take to dismantle the most successful social program in history is simply unconscionable. We should be working to protect and promote Social Security, not cutting benefits for our seniors.
On behalf of my family, I would ask that you cease using my grandfather's image in your advertising campaign.
James Roosevelt Jr.
And, when the terrorists spilled over the border of Iraq - which we left unprotected - they found tons and tons of weapons, right there for the taking, because we left those unprotected too. We were too busy guarding the oil fields to bother guarding unimportant things, like stockpiles of munitions, or the frigging border.
"Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.
Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."
But as instability in Iraq grew after the toppling of Hussein, and resentment toward the United States intensified in the Muslim world, hundreds of foreign terrorists flooded into Iraq across its unguarded borders. They found tons of unprotected weapons caches that, military officials say, they are now using against U.S. troops. Foreign terrorists are believed to make up a large portion of today's suicide bombers, and U.S. intelligence officials say these foreigners are forming tactical, ever-changing alliances with former Baathist fighters and other insurgents.If there is one fact that makes me think that even the Bushies knew that their claims of WMDs were bullshit, it's that they left sites with REAL weapons completely unguarded upon invading. How the hell could you DO that if the reason you're there is to look for weapons? You CAN'T. It's not possible.
Military officers say the administration's estimates do not include the investment that will be necessary to fix what they say they fear is becoming a broken ground force.
"We're going to be paying for this war for years to come," Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat and member of the House Armed Services Committee, said by telephone yesterday from the Middle East, where he has been touring US military bases in Iraq. "We are not preparing for much of the cost."...
Yet the Bush administration's current practice of only asking Congress for money to cover the operating costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars does not account for the need to fund readiness for future missions.
"The cost of the war will continue for a decade," said Brett Lambert, a defense budget specialist at Defense Forecasters International, a Washington consulting firm. "The roughly $500 billion we spend annually on defense is just the retainer.
President Bush said he regretted sending the wrong impression of the United States when he used phrases like "Bring 'em on" and "dead or alive" in his first term and pledged to be more diplomatic.
In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters to be broadcast on Friday, Bush said some of his past remarks were too blunt.
"'Bring it on,' was a little blunt," the president said in a transcript of the interview released on Thursday.
Georgie, you are right about one thing: "Bring it on" was, indeed, one of the single stupidest things that any President has ever said. But saying you'd get Bin Laden "dead or alive" wasn't. The problem wasn't that you said that and didn't do it. The problem was that you decided you'd rather occupy Iraq - for God knows what reason - than actually getting Bin Laden "dead or alive."
The problem isn't that you're blunt, you fool. The problem is that all the tough talk is just that - talk. Somebody should tell you that plain-spoken bullshit is not "bluntness."
Thursday, January 13, 2005
They'll use the image of FDR in an ad to gut Social Security.
And they'll call it "strengthening" it.
War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Destroying is Strengthening.
"First, this nation must preserve the integrity of the Social Security trust fund and the basic benefit structure that protects older Americans." - Ronald Reagan - Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Social Security System --May 21, 1981
You Know You're a Republican When...
You fire someone for supporting the troops.
From a North Jersey Record editorial:
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., lost his post as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs this week for the worst possible reason: He spoke out loudly against cuts in veterans programs at a time when House GOP leaders - and President Bush - were touting the party's wartime support for the troops.
Next time you see someone driving around with a "support the troops" ribbon on their car, let them know what Republicans think of the troops.
"We know where they are. They're in Tikrit and Bagdhad." - Donald Rumsfeld
"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories....And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." - Bush, May 29, 2003
New FBI Software May Be Unusable
A new FBI computer program designed to help agents share information to ward off terrorist attacks may have to be scrapped, the agency has concluded, forcing a further delay in a four-year, half-billion-dollar overhaul of its antiquated computer system.
The bureau is so convinced that the software, known as Virtual Case File, will not work as planned that it has taken steps to begin soliciting proposals from outside contractors for new software, officials said.
Seriously: has this administration actually succeeded at ANYTHING that wasn't pure politics?
Just think what a great job they'll do with Social Security.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
According to the D.C. mayor's chief of staff, this is the FIRST TIME the city was required to foot the inaugural bill.
So WHERE are they going to get the money from?
Bush says they should take it out of homeland security.
You heard that right: they should take the money earmarked to protect them from attack, and use it on his party, instead.
What an unbelievably selfish little prick.
Ron Sider (a Professor of Theology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of a GREAT book called "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger") has an article in Christianity Today called "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience," asking why evangelicals don't live what they preach?
[T]he polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses just as often as their secular neighbors. They beat their wives as often as their neighbors. They were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their pagan friends.
By their daily activity, most "Christians" regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate allegiance to money, sex, and self-fulfillment.
The findings in numerous national polls conducted by highly respected pollsters like The Gallup Organization and The Barna Group are simply shocking. Divorce is more common among "born-again" Christians than in the general American population. Only 6 percent of evangelicals tithe. White evangelicals are the most likely people to object to neighbors of another race. Josh McDowell has pointed out that the sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only a little less outrageous than that of their nonevangelical peers.
American Christians live in the richest nation on earth and enjoy an average household income of $42,409. The World Bank reports that 1.2 billion of the world's poorest people try to survive on just one dollar a day. At least one billion people have never heard the gospel. The Ronsvalles point out that if American Christians just tithed, they would have another $143 billion available to empower the poor and spread the gospel. Studies by the United Nations suggest that just an additional $70–$80 billion a year would be enough to provide access to essential services like basic health care and education for all the poor of the earth. If they did no more than tithe, American Christians would have the private dollars to foot this entire bill and still have $60–$70 billion more to do evangelism around the world.As evangelicals we claim to embrace the Bible as our final authority.
One of the most common themes in the Scriptures is that God and his faithful people have a special concern for the poor. Why this blatant contradiction between belief and practice?
Before the Abu Ghriabe scandal broke, Sociology Professor Martha Huggins submitted an editorial to the Albany Times Union predicting that torture would occur in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. Her predictions had nothing to do with the people involved, but were entirely based on objective criteria and an analysis of what conditions prevailed when torture occurred previously. According to Professor Huggins, the ten criteria which cause torture to occur are:
1. The word “torture” is mislabeled or avoided by perpetrators and responsible officials.
2. Evidence of torture is ignored, hidden, denied and lied about.
3. Ad-hoc legalism is employed.
4. Ideologies of ‘national security’ are advanced.
5. Torture is systemic, and not the work of a few ‘bad apples.’
6. Multiple actors are deployed
7. Responsibility is diffused.
8. Competition rages.
9. Insularity and secrecy hide torture.
10. Impunity is widespread.
A fascinating study. I especially find her mention of #3 interesting: "Ad-hoc legalism is employed." Ad-hoc legalism is exactly what Gonzales was doing, at the behest of Bush. I also find it interesting that someone was able to see this coming so clearly before it ever happened.
Bush “Town Hall” Tidbits: #1
Dubya had one of his patented invite-only “town halls” yesterday, with all attendees die-hard backers of Social Security privatization.
How scripted was this event? Check out this exchange:
MS. STONE: I would like to introduce my mom. This is my mother, Rhoda Stone. And she is grandmother of three, and originally from Helsinki, Finland, and has been here over 40 years.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Same age as my mother.
MS. STONE: Just turned 80.
Of course, the script probably told Bush to say, “same age as my mother” after Ms. Stone mentions her mom is 80.
Armstrong Williams is a Crack in the Matrix
"This preposterous situation, where conservatives completely dominate the news media while simultaneously convincing the American public that the media is dominated by a so-called "liberal elite" can be dealt a significant blow if we take immediate media action on talk shows, newspaper columns and other forms of public access to point out that there is nothing uncommon about Armstrong Williams whatsoever. To use a crude analogy, we must attempt to use the crack in the matrix represented by the Armstrong Williams incident to reveal to the public that the matrix does, in fact, exist.
"This is perhaps the best chance we have ever had to hold the Republican Noise Machine up to public scrutiny and do real damage to the "liberal media" narrative. We must take immediate action on this story."
Read the whole thing.