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Friday, April 30, 2004

MCCAIN LETTER TO SINCLAIR BROADCAST ON PREEMPTION OF NIGHTLINE 


For Immediate Release
Friday, Apr 30, 2004

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued the following letter today to Mr. David Smith, President and CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, in response to the preemption of this evening's Nightline program:

I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair's ABC affiliates to preempt this evening's Nightline program. I find deeply offensive Sinclair's objection to Nightline's intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.

I supported the President's decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision. But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.

There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.



Gis Hate Mercenaries 

They travel in armoured SUVs, ostentatiously carrying powerful weapons - assault rifles, sidearms, grenades - and they shoot and arrest people just as the soldiers do but minus the uniform and legal status. They're paid around $1,000 a day, considerably more than the regular soldiers or police officers which they used to be, work six weeks on and three off with paid flights home at the end of each tour. The advantage for the US is that their deaths and injuries don't show up on the figures for troop casualties. They are the bodyguards….
….The Americans on the other hand - especially those looking after Bremer himself - were the polar opposite - loud, brash and arrogant. They wore a de facto 'uniform' which although it was of their own choosing, looked to have been formed by common consent from a depot of Banana Republic. They parade around wearing Oakley sunglasses, wearing flak jackets and vests laden with ephemera - radios, grenades, spare cartridges and magazines - curly wires trailing to their ears whilst they cradle automatic weapons aggressively in front of them. Beige cargo pants, held up by a gunbelt bearing a personal sidearm seemed to be the order of the day and their attitude made them no friends, especially amongst the soldiers and journalists who their work often brought them into contact with.

"They act like they're God's gift to combat operations" complained one soldier to me, "Swanning around with weapons and equipment every bit as powerful as anything in our armoury, but without any of the legal framework that we have to work within. They're rude, aggressive and to be honest, their attitudes piss us guys off so I dread to think how the Iraqis view them".





A Little Good News 

CNN reports that the State of California bans Diebold and will file lawsuit alleging fraud.

Tactless? 

Now, I'm sure you Democrats will roll your eyes at the Republicans hemming and hawing, and say "they were disgusted by Bush's dodging of questions and felt they were getting nowhere, so they left". Heck, that might even be the case. And if Kerrey or Hamilton were to just come out and say that, well, I would respect it. At least it would be a valid reason for walking out.


I wonder why it doesn’t bother you that Cheney creates a national energy policy and the members of the commission are kept from the public, a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Open Government Statute. Possibly, it’s a clear violation of conflict of interest statutes.

I wonder why you don’t bitch when the Commander in Chief starts a war that most of the world and half the country thought was unwise-but he can’t answer hard questions in public or alone.

You say Kerrey should have simply said “The President is bobbing and weaving and avoiding answers.”

Trajan, he did in fact say this two weeks ago.

You say when the boss sets up a meeting you should be at the meeting. But there is no mention of the incredible foot dragging and dodging and avoiding and disrespecting the 9/11 commission, the Valerie Plame investigation, the investigation into Republican operatives hacking into Democratic computer bases, or the apparent bribe and threats to actuaries who were not allowed to reveal the true cost of Medicare.

Trajan, you are right to be outraged at Kerrey leaving. You are insufficiently outraged at the other offenses that you so often label as politics-as-usual.




Tactless 

Whatever your feelings about Bush or the 9/11 Commission, doesn't the fact that Bob Kerrey and Lee Hamilton both got up and left early the Bush/Cheney interview early strike you as decidedly lacking in tact? I mean, this is the 9/11 Commission talking to the president and the vice-president, not some NSA intern. Heck, not even Richard Clarke.

But these two had prior commitments. Okay, great. When the boss sets a time for a meeting, you show up to that meeting. And you don't skip out early to meet with a coworker.

I suppose I can understand Hamilton's meeting with the Canadian PM, after all the guy doesn't get to town often. But Pete Domenici? Please. How difficult could it have been for Kerrey to have that meeting rescheduled?

Personally I'm not looking to condemn either man. I just think that getting up and leaving early from an interview, conducted by the 9/11 Commission, with the man who was Commander-in-Chief on and leading up to that terrible day, its just tacky. And, it makes me question how seriously these guys are taking this.

Now, I'm sure you Democrats will roll your eyes at the Republicans hemming and hawing, and say "they were disgusted by Bush's dodging of questions and felt they were getting nowhere, so they left". Heck, that might even be the case. And if Kerrey or Hamilton were to just come out and say that, well, I would respect it. At least it would be a valid reason for walking out.

Another thing to consider. If this situation played out in reverse, and say Don Rumsfeld got up in the middle of his testimony and said "you know, I gotta go, I've got a thing...", how quickly would the liberal attack machine (yes, there is one on each side of the fence) jump all over it? How quickly would Michael Moore and Al Franken throw their hands in the air and go "Aha!"?

I think its mulligan time. Not for Bush, but for the whole damn government. We just need a do over. Get doctors, teachers, and construction foremen in there. Get away from the two party system so that this partisan polarization crap can at least be diluted somewhat, because I'm getting sick and tired of it.

Voting Machines Hugely Flawed 

Jeffrey Liss had finished making his selections on Maryland's Democratic-primary ballot and strolled out of the polling place at Chevy Chase Elementary School on the morning of March 2, Super Tuesday. On the sidewalk, he spied a campaign poster for Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is running for her fourth term. Funny, he thought, he didn't remember voting in the Senate race.

Liss went back inside to talk to an election official. And another, and another. He was told he must have overlooked the Senate race on the electronic touch-screen voting machine. But Liss, a lawyer, finally persuaded a technician to check the apparatus. Sure enough, it wasn't displaying the whole ballot.


According to voter complaints collected by Mikulski, who won in the primary, her race didn't appear on ballots in at least three Maryland counties. As a result of snafus like that, a group of voters in the state last week sued to bar use of the machines in November's balloting. And the people of Maryland are not the only ones having second thoughts about electronic voting, the 21st century technology that was supposed to guarantee an end to elections like 2000's, with its outcome depending on subjective calls about hanging and pregnant chads. After that messy conclusion, election officials in 34 states, from Florida to California, purchased so many e-voting machines that some 50 million people, or more than one-third of registered voters, are expected to use them in November. But because of primary-season problems and a general anxiety over sending votes down an electronic black hole, a backlash has set in. Some voter activists, computer scientists and elected officials have joined a growing movement to either make the systems more accountable or pull the plug entirely. Electronic voting is "a rickety system with poor federal and state oversight," says Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. "It has produced an endless stream of bad news." In the most dramatic move against the controversial systems, a state advisory panel urged California secretary of state Kevin Shelley to prohibit the use in this fall's election of 16,000 evoting machines that four counties purchased from Ohio manufacturer Diebold Inc. at a cost of $45 million. Shelley is considering a statewide ban, as is the legislature.


Students Demand Cheney Keep Speech Off Politics  

After Dick Cheney’s embarrassing address at Westminister College in Fulton Missouri, students at FSU have asked the school to please not turn his address to them into a Republican stump speech. Apparently DICK spent the entire time attacking John Kerry.

Anything to stay in power.



GIs Call In Gunships Because They Lack Protective Armor 

Raining hell on Falluja is a tactic bursting with political danger. So why do it? The answer, according to Newhouse's David Wood, is because thin-skinned American Humvees can't handle an up-close fight.

"A shortage of armored combat vehicles in Iraq is pressing U.S. forces into a cruel dilemma: either advance stealthily on foot, or hold up at a city's outskirts and use artillery, mortars and airstrikes," Wood writes.

"Using bombs and AC-130s is a strategic defeat," given the political repercussions, said Kenneth Brower, a weapons designer and consultant to the U.S. and Israeli military. "But we've had to use them."

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Contact Sinclair Broadcasting!!! 

Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
10706 Beaver Dam Road
Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
410-568-1500 (Main Telephone)
410-568-1533 (Main Fax)


They have ordered an affiliate NOT to broadcast the Nightline segment reading the names of the dead soldiers.

Yet Another Flag Debacle  

Christ Almighty, the Iraqi flag was designed with this in mind: “to communicate to investors and tourists the country's ornate past and modern aspirations.”

That’s what happens to anything that this administration touches. It’s about talking to investors. It’s about money. It’s about attracting business.

Isn’t this one of the reasons we are there lready?

It’s about time to leave Iraq and come home.



WHEN the government of Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich emirate, asked Tariq Atrissi last year to design a logo for it, the mandate was clear: to communicate to investors and tourists the country's ornate past and modern aspirations. "How much can you represent a country by a logo and some colors?" Mr. Atrissi, a graphic artist of Lebanese origin, recalled thinking. The symbol he designed combines blue for hospitality; gold for sand, sun and luxury; and burgundy, Qatar's national color.

But creating a flag for a country at war is trickier. The flag unveiled this week by Iraq's United States-backed governing council was designed to reflect a forward-looking, inclusive Iraq free of Saddam Hussein. But many Iraqis have denounced the design, saying it lacks Islamic imagery and resembles the blue-and-white color scheme of Israel. In response, the governing council decided yesterday to darken the blue.


Again, Not Understanding A Country Before You Invade Is Disaster 

Again, It's Amateur Hour At The State Department

Sandra Mackey writes in the NYT about the tribes in central Iraq. No one, from the British to Saddam Hussein have ever really been able to control them.

This is another example of diplomacy by force, versus diplomacy by understanding.



Had the United States taken more time to understand the city — a place where even Saddam Hussein ventured cautiously — it might have been able to avoid the current showdown. Part of the misunderstanding can be seen in the way the Pentagon talks about the situation in Falluja, describing those holed up there as either die-hards of Saddam Hussein's regime or foreigners promoting the ideology of Al Qaeda. What the Pentagon is neglecting is a third group, one that could prove more deadly to the occupation: the tribes of central Iraq. They are a tough lot with a long history of resistance to any outside authority.



Our Piss Poor Supreme Court 

Gerrymandering is OK to this Supreme Court. That’s Democracy? No, that’s election rigging. It’s time for new Supremes.


Have an excerpt and link to the Gray Lady Editorial Board.


Partisan gerrymandering, drawing district lines to favor one political party, has reached a crisis point. Because of increased partisanship and improvements in the technology used to determine district lines, legislators now regularly create districts that all but ensure victory for the party that controls the redistricting process. In Pennsylvania, Republicans drew preposterously shaped districts — one is known as the "supine sea horse" — that distort the state's political preferences. Although a majority of the state's voters are registered Democrats, the district lines produced a Congressional delegation of 12 Republicans and 7 Democrats. Partisan gerrymandering does not merely distort voting; it makes it largely irrelevant. Only about one in 12 House elections in 2002 was decided by no more than 10 percentage points, and nearly 20 percent were essentially uncontested.



Modern Gerrymandering



The Mistakes We Made, In Order. 

None of these by the way were as bad as just being absolutely blind and doctrinaire. None of these mistakes were as bad as marketing a war to the public, to the troops and smearing dissenters. Blindness will make a leader run smack into a wall. But that is another long discussion.

1) First we invaded without the right number of troops, and helped usher out of the Pentagon Eric Shinseki, a decorated Army commander who said we needed at least 275,000, thus effectively telling other combat commanders that dissent would be dealt with in a career fashion: as in ending your career.

1A) We invaded under a false Cassus Beli

2) The CPA disarmed the Iraqi Army.

2) They failed to provide security. This went on until all the school houses we painted went unattended or were destroyed in warfare. All the electricity we got going again is now off. And the Iraqi Tet Offensive that started a month ago earsed most of the progress the US has made there.

3b) We failed to secure weapons stockpiles, part of that problem is related to going in under manned.

4) We said major operations were over and we won and Saddam is gone so just shut up everybody.

5) Our Army is made to smash enemies, not regentrify countries our soldiers never heard of before they invaded.

6) It took the CPA a while to find someone who could last as long as Bremer has.

7) Then to make it easier for Bush’s election, the CPA had to cut down on the two dead a day. So we closed off 62 bases and reduced them, to a dozen bases, six major areas, and the Green Zone. Billmon writes:

“But, proving there is something new under the sun, at least every now and then, the Bushies have invented a few blunders that LBJ probably would have never thought of, like turning the Green Zone into a summer camp for the Young Republicans, or relying on the spiritual heirs of the people who gave us the $500 toilet seat to manage the logistical equivalent of the D-Day invasion -- many D-Day invasions.”

You can’t provide security from behind concertina wire and bomb barricades.

8) We simply could not cobble together a reasonably cohesive coalition except in the most cynical way; “ Hey folks we do have a coalition of eighty countries. Bulgaria sent 450 soldiers and they showed up with their tank. Oh yeah, the Seychelles Islands joined us Tuesday. They are sending two requisition officers….” Our lack of diplomacy started by calling the UN useless and telling Americans we don’t need their permission to protect ourselves. Now, of course, we are going hat in hand to UN every day. We also blew any goodwill we had with people Saddam oppressed. Many of the insurgents fighting us now also hated Saddam’s guts. The administration hawks blew this one and they did it with their arrogance, and their ignorance.

9) We overestimated our combat abilities. Sure we can knock out an Army, but when we engage in street fighting, many of our technological advantages are muted. Precision munitions become less precise when used in hometowns. Our combat optics can’t see through walls or distinguish between the guilty and the innocent. I don’t how much technology you have. At some point war becomes a knife fight between people determined to kill each other. No, a 40 year old AK 47 is not as deadly as a US M-249 with a higher firing rate, better accuracy, better optics, and a 40mm grenade launcher.

Nonetheless, the AK kills.


Yestrday, after pounding insurgent positions, and calling in airstrikes, the US Marines decide not to go into Fallujah. Why? I think it’s because they can’t take it without a lot of bloodshed, their own included and they know it.

Tough talk is great in peacetime. At war, it gets people killed.


10) This is, I think, the single biggest mistake we made: We failed to understand what people in Iraq think and feel. Much the same way we failed to understand that to the North Vietnamese, that war wasn’t about Communism versus Democracy, it was about American troops on Vietnamese soil.

We completely failed to understand the humiliation we put many Iraqis through. We failed to understand that when you humiliate some, even after you’ve “liberated” them, they will hate you. Collectively we blundered so often understanding the consequences of our policies and they bit us in the ass.

This was not just the failure of the ‘neo-cons’ but the failure of the President and his cabinet who have no policy apparatus. Instead, they replace policy making with ideology. The price is being paid in blood by young idealistic soldiers who are by many measures better than the idiots who started this war and continue to run the country.


"But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp'd off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place' - some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left." Henry V


Bush’s Poll Numbers Are In Toilet 

One year after the declared end of major combat in Iraq, Americans have new doubts about the war and doubts about what the Bush Administration has said about it.

Just 32 percent, the lowest number ever, say Iraq was a threat that required immediate military action a year ago.

Less than half, 47 percent, now say the U.S. did the right thing taking military action in Iraq, the lowest support recorded in CBS News/New York Times Polls since the war began.

There are growing concerns about the long-term impact of the war. 41 percent now think the war increased the threat of terrorism against the U.S. 71 percent say the Administration’s policies have worsened the U.S.’s image in the Arab world.

The continued intensity of the fighting in Iraq surprised many Americans, and Americans believe it also surprised the Bush Administration. 44 percent say the fighting there has been harder than they personally expected, but 67 percent say it has been harder than the Administration expected. Nearly half say the war in Iraq was a mistake -- a finding similar to the public’s assessment of the Vietnam War as measured by the Gallup Poll in 1968.

The public’s assessments of the Bush Administration’s decision-making before (and after) the war are also negative.

Seven in ten don’t believe the Administration claims that the decision to go to war was made in March 2003, and say the Bush Administration had decided to go to war earlier than that.





Winning Hearts And Minds Through Torture and Humiliation. 

U.S. military police stacked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid, and attached wires to one detainee to convince him he might be electrocuted, according to photographs obtained by CBS News which led to criminal charges against six American soldiers.


Winning Hearts And Minds

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

“Terrorists. Dead-enders.” No Mr. Rumsfeld, We Are Fighting Soldiers. 

Insurgents Fighting Harder


It’s to get our troops home.


"The insurgency has worsened immeasurably," says Ahmed Hashim, an Iraq expert and professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. For example, "the new insurgents showed a dramatic improvement in small-unit fighting skills" during recent violence in Sunni towns such as Fallujah, he said, testifying before Congress as a private citizen.

Coordinated attacks on convoys and troops, such as a devastating ambush in Ramadi this month that killed 12 US Marines, show insurgents in some areas are striking virtually as military units and withdrawing under covering fire, he says. "They have shown an ability to stand and fight, rather than merely to 'shoot and scoot' or 'pray and spray' as in the past."

Coupled with urban uprisings by Shiite militia that have also recruited former Iraqi enlisted soldiers and are now stockpiling weapons in mosques, the Iraqi insurgency has emerged as a multifront war for US forces nearly a year after Mr. Bush declared major combat over last May 1.


Yes, Senator Kennedy, This War Was Concocted And Here's The Proof 

The C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies found little evidence to support the Pentagon's view of an increasingly unified terrorist threat or links between Mr. Hussein and Mr. bin Laden, and still largely dismiss those ideas. Foreign Islamic fighters have sought haven in Iraq since the American-led invasion and some Sunnis and Shiites have banded together against the occupiers, but the agencies say that is the result of anger and chaotic conditions, not proof of prewar alliances.

And with criticism mounting in recent weeks as the conflict has become more bloody, President Bush has found himself forced to defend once more how the war on terror led to Baghdad….

….
The failure to find such weapons in Iraq has prompted a series of investigations into prewar intelligence. The Senate committee plans to complete its review, including its examination of the Feith group, in the next few months. The unit has often been confused with another Feith operation, called the Office of Special Plans, which Pentagon officials say was involved in prewar planning but not intelligence analysis.

Some intelligence experts charge that the unit had a secret agenda to justify a war with Iraq and was staffed with people who were handpicked by conservative Pentagon policy makers to arrive at preordained conclusions about Iraq and Al Qaeda.

"I don't have any problem with them bringing in a couple of people to take another look at the intelligence and challenge the assessments," said Patrick Lang, a former Middle East analyst for the D.I.A. "But the problem is that they brought in people who were not intelligence professionals, people brought in because they thought like them. They knew what answers they were going to get."



Yes, Senator Kennedy, This War Was Concocted And Here's The Proof

The Wounds Our Soldiers Are Receiving Boggle Trauma Doctors. 

More and more in Iraq, combat surgeons say, the wounds involve severe damage to the head and eyes -- injuries that leave soldiers brain damaged or blind, or both, and the doctors who see them first struggling against despair.

For months the gravest wounds have been caused by roadside bombs -- improvised explosives that negate the protection of Kevlar helmets by blowing shrapnel and dirt upward into the face. In addition, firefights with guerrillas have surged recently, causing a sharp rise in gunshot wounds to the only vital area not protected by body armor.

The neurosurgeons at the 31st Combat Support Hospital measure the damage in the number of skulls they remove to get to the injured brain inside, a procedure known as a craniotomy. "We've done more in eight weeks than the previous neurosurgery team did in eight months," Poffenbarger said. "So there's been a change in the intensity level of the war."

Numbers tell part of the story. So far in April, more than 900 soldiers and Marines have been wounded in Iraq, more than twice the number wounded in October, the previous high. With the tally still climbing, this month's injuries account for about a quarter of the 3,864 U.S. servicemen and women listed as wounded in action since the March 2003 invasion.



Combat Surgeons Say Wounds Of This War Are Worse Than People Realize

Republican Richard Lugar Notices Giant Elephant In Room  

WASHINGTON - Deft diplomacy will be needed when the United States seeks a U.N. resolution to endorse its plan to transfer power in Iraq, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said Monday, but within the Bush administration, "diplomacy is deficient."

President Bush's decision to invade Iraq was opposed by many countries, including several who are represented in the U.N. Security Council. Until his recent shift to seek a U.N. resolution for on the transfer of power, Bush has resisted a significant role for the international organization in reconstructing Iraq.

"Even if the decisions are correct, the diplomacy is deficient," Lugar said at a breakfast with Washington reporters. "By that I simply mean not many people agree with us, or like us or are prepared to work with us. That will really have to change."

He laid the responsibility for the poor international relations at Bush's doorstep.

"It starts with the president and proceeds, really, through the Cabinet and those who are advising him. Each administration has to determine which kind of tone it wants to establish in these matters, and that obviously starts with the president," he said.



GOP Thinks The 9/11 Commission Isn’t Partisan Enough.  

Peter Beinart from The New Republic says:



GOP Thinks The 9/11 Commission Isn’t Partisan Enough.



Republicans say they are dismayed by the partisanship of the 9/11 Commission. And, if you define partisanship as criticism of the Bush administration -- the working definition on much of the right -- they are exactly right. But, if you define partisanship the way it's traditionally understood -- as placing party interests above national ones -- then the 9/11 Commission hasn't been very partisan at all. And that's what really irks the GOP: They're dismayed that the 9/11 Commission isn't partisan enough. Because the less partisan the Commission is, the harder it is to discredit its findings.


Oh, Come On! 

So its a common thing for the army to loan out howitzers to the local authorities in states like Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming, where they are put to the good use of all by knocking snow off of mountains and preventing massive, terrible, death-dealing avalanches.

Well, not anymore, because the army wants its howitzers back.

Apparently, get this, the howitzers are needed in Iraq.

Uh, what? How can we be short of howitzers? We built a bazillion of them during the Cold War.

Whatever the case, it is extremely troubling that we are stretched so thin that we have to steal the avalanche-busters just in order to have the artillery we need in Iraq/Afghanistan.

LINK

Stall. Drag Your Feet. Lie. Insert Qualifiers At The Last Second. Do Anything But Come Clean. 

From AP

The administration also said there would not be a complete record of Bush's and Cheney's remarks because the White House had requested that no stenographer be present during the closed-door session....Members will be allowed to take notes of their remarks, McClellan said, but there will not be an official record.

Calling The Insurgents “Terrorists” Is Just A Symptom Of Not Understanding The nature Of The Battle We Are In. 

The insurgents are being equated by the Pentagon with terrorists. No, they are insurgents and resistance fighters. If we can't understand what terrorists do and what insurgents do, is it any wonder that the Iraqi Freedom and Mission Accomplished has decayed into street fights and mounting US Casualties.


If the Americans do not respect agreements on giving complete sovereignty, "then the Iraqi people know what route to take," he said.

Two nights of battles in Fallujah have strained U.S. attempts to find a political way out of the siege of the city, avoiding a resumption of the full-fledged fighting that killed hundreds of Iraqis in early April. At least eight Marines have died in the fighting.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that continuing negotiations in Fallujah was "worth the try."

"I think that realistically if you've got some very tough people in a city that are terrorists ... that you have to expect that they're not going to be terribly cooperative," he said. "Now, does that mean that something can't be worked out? No." Joint patrols by Marines and Iraqis are a key part of the political effort, aiming to restore a semblance of control in Fallujah. Marines began training Iraqi security forces on Tuesday for the patrols, practicing in an industrial zone on the southern side of the city held by U.S. forces.



Losing The War On Terror


Intelligence Community Will “Look At” Blogs. 

Via Fulcrum

Oh that makes me feel safer. If Bush gets elected, lefty bloggers will be shut down and prosecuted. What do you want to bet? I wonde rif the intelligence agencies will look at Faux News.

Well, I Guess We Should Have Seen This One Coming

Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal online journals. Individuals post them on Web sites to report or comment on news especially, but also on their personal lives or most any subject.

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with "soft" subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.




Cheney, In Perspective  

From The Center For American Progress



Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to deliver a speech in Missouri today attacking his political opponents for supposedly trying to cut defense spending in the 1980s and early 1990s. Yet, a look back at the record shows it was Cheney who repeatedly tried to cut defense spending at this time, even publicly attacking a president of his own party. During the height of Cold War tensions, it was Cheney who told the Washington Post on 12/16/84 that if President Reagan, "doesn't really cut defense, he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town." Cheney said "the president has to reach out and take a whack at everything to be credible" and said that absent a raid of Social Security or a tax increase, "you've got to hit defense." Six years later, on 2/1/90, it was Cheney who proudly told Congress "since I became Secretary, we've been through a fairly major process of reducing the defense budget." He bragged that during the first year of his tenure, he "cut almost $65 billion out of the five-year defense program" and that subsequent proposals would "take another $167 billion out." He trumpeted the fact that "we're recommending base closures," "we're talking about force structure cuts" and "we've got a military construction freeze." And as the 8/4/91 NY Times noted, Cheney tried "to reduce active-duty troop strength" from 2.2 million to 1.6 million while making "deep cuts in the Reserves and National Guard" – a move that is now, in part, forcing the military to extend tours of duty and increase the combat burden on reservists. See an analysis of defense spending by American Progress's Larry Korb.

CHENEY ATTACKS WEAPONS CUTS AFTER CUTTING WEAPONS: In a similar speech attacking opponents earlier this year, Cheney claimed his opponents have "repeatedly voted against weapons systems for the military," including "voting against the Apache helicopter." Yet in 1990 Cheney bragged to Congress about weapons "programs that I have recommended for termination," including fighter jets, the Phoenix missile and "the Apache helicopter." Cheney also this year criticized opponents for voting "against even the Bradley Fighting Vehicle." But according to the Chicago Tribune, it is the Bush administration who is "dramatically reducing the number of Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles in Iraq," even as the fighting intensifies. That means more troops are forced to "ride in lightly protected Humvees, trucks and troop carriers" which are much more vulnerable to attack. As former Gen. Barry McCaffrey said, "This is high-intensity combat. If you have got a chance to fight this with Bradley Fighting Vehicles or fight this without them, you would be crazy to be fighting without them."

CHENEY ATTACKS TROOP PAY CUT AFTER TRYING TO CUT TROOP PAY: Earlier this year, Cheney criticized opponents for supposedly being a "reliable vote against military pay increases." Yet, as the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, it was the Bush Administration last year which tried "to cut the pay of its 148,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, who already are contending with guerrilla-style attacks, homesickness and 120-degree-plus heat." As the Army Times noted, the White House "announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones." Additionally, the White House "proposed capping pay raises" for various soldiers as a cost-cutting measure. Only when the effort became "a political embarrassment" did "the White House quickly backpedal" from the proposal.

DEFENSE CONTRACTS GEARED TOWARDS INDUSTRY NOT TROOPS: Even as Cheney claims the Bush administration is most committed to a strong defense, its defense spending decisions appear more focused on showering largesse on defense contractor cronies rather than on pressing national security needs. For instance, at the same time the White House is ignoring military commander's desperate calls for funding to fill shortfalls in "bolt-on vehicle armor, combat helmets, night sights and body armor," it is pressing ahead with a $9 billion missile defense plan, even as the government reports that the plan is untested and not ready for deployment. Similarly, the president "personally asked his aides to work out a deal" to circumvent traditional procurement rules and give Boeing a leasing deal that will "cost hundreds of millions to several billions of dollars more than it should." And it was conservative congressional leaders who, under pressure from defense contractors, fought a plan to terminate the outmoded Crusader weapons system .” Meanwhile, the administration has refused to adequately monitor the funds being spent in Iraq, fueling billions in "corruption and inflated cost to taxpayers" – much of it going to Cheney's old firm Halliburton.

BATHING CAMPAIGN DONORS IN CASH WHILE STIFFING TROOPS: A look at who finances the president's political campaigns offers insight into the Bush administration's decisions to underfund basic troop equipment while pouring cash into untested, overpriced, outdated, or unregulated defense contracts. For instance, the missile defense program includes massive defense contracts for two of Bush's major campaign and party contributors, Northrop Grumman (more than $900,000 to Bush/allies) and Lockheed Martin (more than $1.2 million to Bush/allies). Lockheed, in particular, has a special connection to Bush: the company's Vice President, Bruce Jackson, "served as financial chair and fundraiser for Bush's presidential campaign" and, at a 1999 conference, bragged that he would personally "write the Republican platform" on defense if the Texas governor made it to the Oval Office. Similarly, Boeing received the sweetheart lease deal after sending more than $800,000 to Bush and his allies. Even conservatives’ demand to keep the Crusader can be traced to financial connections: the company that reaps the most from the continuation of the weapon is the Carlyle Group – the firm that employs, among others, the president's father and former Secretary of State James Baker.



Cheney, The Truth Of It

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Drop That Crayon!!!!!  

PROSSER, Washington (AP) -- Secret Service agents questioned a high school student about anti-war drawings he did for an art class, one of which depicted President Bush's head on a stick.

Another pencil-and-ink drawing portrayed Bush as a devil launching a missile, with a caption reading "End the war -- on terrorism."

The 15-year-old boy's art teacher at Prosser High School turned the drawings over to school administrators, who notified police, who called the Secret Service…..

If this 15-year-old kid in Prosser is perceived as a threat to the president, then we are living in '1984.'
-- Kevin Cravens, friend of the unidentified boy's family


Cheney Not Constrained By law  

As Linda Greenhouse recently pointed out in The New York Times, the legal arguments the administration is making for the secrecy of the energy task force are "strikingly similar" to those it makes for its right to detain, without trial, anyone it deems an enemy combatant. In both cases, as Ms. Greenhouse puts it, the administration has put forward "a vision of presidential power . . . as far-reaching as any the court has seen."

That same vision is apparent in many other actions. Just to mention one: we learn from Bob Woodward that the administration diverted funds earmarked for Afghanistan to preparations for an invasion of Iraq without asking or even notifying Congress.

What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn't obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public.

Not long ago I would have thought it inconceivable that the Supreme Court would endorse that doctrine. But I would also have thought it inconceivable that a president would propound such a vision in the first place.




Kerry, Actual War Hero Vs. Bush and Cheney, Actually Avoided Service 


"This is a controversy that the Republicans are pushing," Mr. Kerry said on "Good Morning America" on ABC. "The Republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me, and this comes from a president and a Republican Party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I'm not going to stand for it."

Later in the day, Mr. Kerry challenged what he called attacks on his military record from Republicans who did not fight in Vietnam.

"I did obviously fight in Vietnam, and I was wounded there, and I served there and was very proud of my service," Mr. Kerry said. "To have these people, all of whom made a different choice, attack me for it is obviously disturbing."




Kerry Sticks It To Bush

Raed, the Baghdad blogger mentions that the idea that if we lave Iraq it will be worse than if we stayed is crazy 

Blogging From Baghdad


The Iraqi Road Map: Part Three: The National Reconstruction Campaign

The 1991 war was much more destructive to the Iraqi infra-structure than this one, electricity plants were destroyed, bridges and main roads, and many other important sectors, but the Iraqi national reconstruction campaign was really successful in rebuilding the entire country in no time (some months), in spite of the embargo and economical challenges. That reconstruction campaign gave the Iraqi governmental sector establishments a great experience, and enhanced the Iraqi engineers and technicians capabilities in discovering appropriate methodologies in the reconstruction work.

Iraq doesn’t need any foreigner companies to come and take a part of this post-war reconstruction. American companies must be pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible and the Iraqi people must take back their right in rebuilding their country by themselves depending on their ministries and national government, that will create hundreds of thousands of vacancies for unemployed Iraqis (maybe fighting against the occupation now), and will reduce the costs of the reconstruction to less that 25% of the current expenses; the Iraqi labor market is very cheap comparing to any foreign one, and the Iraqi reconstruction methodologies are based on local materials and practice.

The national reconstruction campaign (that should have started one year ago) must include more items than mere physical buildings construction and services reconstruction; it must reach to rebuilding the Iraqi community… the civil society its self, that can start by activating the participation of the local communities in rebuilding their neighborhoods through micro-projects programs, activating civil society institutes. I used to be the director of an Iraqi grassroots organization working in the south; we implemented over 150 projects in three months depending on the local communities and people were eager to help each other and work in their neighborhoods.

Fixing the pubic services (like electricity… that was supposed to be fixed in the first couple of weeks after the war stopped) is really important to give people a stable pattern for their life, it will give Iraqis the feeling there is an authority that controls their country.

Posted by: Raed Jarrar / 5:23 PM


We Can’t Have People Going Around Thinking That Jesus Isn’t God!!!! 

The Rev. James L. Garlow, co-author with Prof. Peter Jones of "Cracking Da Vinci's Code" and pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, said: "I don't think it's just an innocent novel with a fascinating plot. I think it's out there to win people over to an incorrect and historically inaccurate view, and it's succeeding. People are buying into the notion that Jesus is not divine, he is not the son of God."



Monday, April 26, 2004

Bush Foreign Policy Vs. Kerry 

''I think there is a fundamental difference here in terms of their approach to the world," said Samuel L. Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, who now advises Kerry. ''I think this administration believes you go it alone and you use allies when necessary, and I think John believes that you use allies whenever possible and go it alone when necessary."

Cheney Vs. The Supreme Court 

Have an excerpt and a link


Typically, there is no dispute over a judge's ability to manage discovery disputes between parties. Except in this case the White House says the courts have no authority to permit the plaintiffs to look behind the barest of explanations of the workings of the Energy Group. Moreover, the White House even has refused to permit the judges in the case to undertake a private review of the material in order to determine what to do with it. The mere act of turning over the information to the plaintiffs, the White House argues, would be virtually the same as giving up on the merits of the case. Politics ain't beanbag, folks, and this is truly hardball between the branches.

Cheney Above The Law


Josh Micheal Marshall Puts It To Karen Hughes 




What's the signature pattern of the president's life?


When he faces a challenge or a tough scrape, he lets his family and friends bail him out, do his fighting for him. You see it again and again through failed businesses, legal scrapes, the whole matter of ducking service in Vietnam and then getting help cleaning up subsequent unfortunateness while he was serving in the Texas Air National Guard.


It's even come up again and again on the campaign trail. George W. Bush has faced three opponents (McCain, Gore and Kerry) since he came onto the national political stage -- each served in Vietnam, though each under very different circumstances. He's had his lieutenants attack the service of each one.


So here we have the same pattern again -- no different. The president wants to challenge John Kerry's military service. So he gets Karen to do it for him. You can get tripped in the chutzpah of this because this not only throws light on an earlier period when the president couldn't fight his own fights, it repeats the pattern.


But here's some free advice for Kerry.


Don't get mixed up on the details. Take this directly to the president. Tell him to turn over a new leaf in life and stop being a coward. If the president wants to attack or question your war record or what you did after the war, tell him to do it himself. No special deals, no hidden help from family retainers, no hiding behind Karen Hughes. Tell him, for once, to fight his own fights.

-- Josh Marshall

- Dick Cheney quoted in the Washington Post, 12/16/84 

If Reagan "doesn't really cut defense, he becomes the No. 1 special pleader in town...The severity of the deficit is great enough that the president has to reach out and take a whack at everything to be credible...If you're going to rule out the other two [Social Security cuts and a tax increase], then you've got to hit defense."

Exactly What We Did Not Want 

From CNN

U.S. Marines patrolling a section of northwest Fallujah on Monday engaged in a raging firefight with insurgents that left 10 Marines injured, four of them seriously, according to Marines on site.

Now are engaged in a building to building street battle that has US Marines fighting well trained insurgents in their own background. This is why Iraq is in many cases exactly like Vietnam. There is no functional difference between being pinned down in a jungle that your enemy grew up in and fighting in a city that your enemy grew up in.



Stall. Silence. Obfuscate. 

Bush administration bids to silence intelligence failure witness

26.04.2004
1.00pm - By ANDREW BUNCOMBE

The Bush administration will today seek to prevent a former FBI translator providing evidence about September 11 intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al Qaeda.

Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks in New York and Washington to testify that she had seen information that proved there was considerable evidence prior to September 2001 that al Qaeda was planning to strike the US with aircraft.

The lawyers made their demand after reading the comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent.

But the US Justice Department is seeking to stop Mrs Edmonds from testifying, citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege".



Eric Alterman on Bob Woodward on President Dick Cheney  

1. For foreign policy purposes, Dick Cheney is President: Cheney wanted this war from way back when; it was Bush who needed convincing. As Slate's Tim Noah points out, "The closest Woodward comes to showing Bush making a final decision is when Bush pulls Rumsfeld aside in early January 2003 and says, 'Look, we're going to have to do this I'm afraid. I don't see how we're going to get him to a position where he will do something in a manner that's consistent with the UN requirements, and we've got to make an assumption that he will not.'" When the President is not around, Administration officials refer to Cheney as "the Man," as in, "The Man wants this" or "The Man thinks that."

2. That's too bad, because unfortunately Cheney is nuts. As Powell puts it, Cheney was in the grip of a "fever," no longer the "steady, unemotional rock that he had witnessed a dozen years earlier during the run-up to the Gulf War. The vice president was beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed." Woodward gives us the backstory: Cheney, confirmed by his equally fevered aide "Scooter" Libby, repeatedly pitched--as he does today--the apparently imaginary meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence in Prague. Powell/Woodward aptly term this contention "worse than ridiculous." It goes on. "Cheney would take an intercept and say it shows something was happening. No, no, no, Powell or another would say, it shows that somebody talked to somebody else who said something might be happening. A conversation would suggest something might be happening, and Cheney would convert that into a 'We know.'"





Karen Hughes 10 Light-Years From Normal 

"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."



Every life? How about retarded death row inmates? How about death row inmates who were children when they committed the crime? How about death row inmates who have been convicted on evidence so thin, it boggles the mind that they are even IN prison? How about death row inmates who are guilty as shit?

Every life Ms Hughes? How about the soldiers who’s deaths must be kept hidden from view lest they reduced support for the war president? How about the lives of Iraqis that we take and don’t even bother to count?

Seriously…Ms. Highes, you don’t mean every life is sacred?



Sunday, April 25, 2004

From Tristero 

...As for liberals, they've been so intimidated by this right wing assault on religious discourse and symbolism that they are afraid to so much as whisper any kind of objection when the right hides behind a scrim of phony piety to push a purely secular agenda. Kevin's post, which urges liberals to be religiously correct in the face of intimidation, is a perfect example of this.

In fact, liberals of all religious faiths support plentiful, robust religious expression as well as safeguards to protect everyone's religious freedom. To state what should be patently obvious, religious tolerance is a fundamental part of what being a liberal means, after all. Furthermore, there are very few liberals who are not religiously observant to some extent or another, contrary to right wing propaganda. As for atheists, of which there are only a few in the US, only a small minority care enough to make a big deal out of it, and they have zero political influence qua atheists.
...

From Amy Sullivan Via Suburban Guerilla 

Amy Sullivan over at The Gadflyer has something that leads credence to something I've suspected for a long time: that George Bush is about as devout a Christian as he is an ex-alcoholic:
Kerry has not made his religiosity an issue. Although I often argue that if candidates bring their religion into politics they have an obligation to explain the content of their beliefs and how those beliefs influence their political attitudes, I don't think that voters have a right to know much more. I certainly don't want my candidates squaring off to prove which one of them reads the Bible or prays more often. I don't think it's related to their fitness for office. If, however, they make their religiosity one of their selling points, if it is something they run on, then religion becomes fair game.

Which is why I want to know why these same questions aren't being asked of George W. Bush, a man who has Jesus as his running mate and who told Bob Woodward that he doesn't turn to his father (George H.W. Bush) for advice, because he's more concerned about what His Father (God) has to say. No word yet on what God actually says.

But this is not just a throw-away point. Does Bush deviate from the teachings of the United Methodist Church? Yes he does, on some crucial political issues. Has he been reprimanded by leaders in his denomination? Yes, particularly on the issue of war in Iraq. And if you want to make this a question of who's the better Christian, then it's fair to ask why President Bush doesn't go to church. You heard me – the man worships at Camp David and every so often wanders across Lafayette Park (although the park is pretty much impassable now what with all of the security construction going on) to attend services at St. John's Episcopal Church. But the man who has staked his domestic policy on the power of civil society and of good Christian individuals to change lives isn't an active member of a congregation – the very kind of organization in which he claims to have so much faith.

Democratic Catholic politicians are finally starting to get fed up with being told that they aren't "real" Catholics because they hold pro-choice positions. A number of Catholic senators and representatives have started to stand up for themselves, drawing up lists of issues on which the U.S. Catholic Church has taken positions and showing that on the majority of those issues, Democratic Catholics are actually more in line with church teaching than their Republican colleagues. They sense an opportunity here – with the church leadership weakened after the past few years of sexual abuse revelations, members of the laity are less likely than ever to base their decisions on the say-so of Catholic leaders, particularly when it involves heavy-handed bullying such as the threat of excommunication or the denial of communion. And the conversation these Democratic Catholic politicians have started is good for voters as well, who should rely on important information such as how their candidates' religious beliefs translate into political decisions instead of empty talk about the Almighty.

What good is it, indeed, if a man claims to have faith and yet has no works?

Juan Cole On The Poll: 57% of Americans Believe Saddam Gave Substantial Support to al-Qaeda 

 

A new poll shows that as of mid-March, 57% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein had given substantial support to al-Qaeda. Worse, 45% actually say that "clear evidence" has been found in Iraq to support this allegation! As for weapons of mass destruction 45 percent say they believe Saddam had them before the recent war, and 22 percent say that he had a major program for developing them.

There is no documentary or physical evidence for any of these assertions.

The only good thing about the poll is that it showed that a majority of Americans now believes the Iraq war will not bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East (56% did believe it in May 2003), and 51% believe that Iraqis want US troops out of their country (this may actually be overly simplistic).

Bush in the crosshairs of “The Families”.  

Frank Rich, one of my favorite columnists, writes in the Gray Lady that Bush and his smear machine may have taken on a fight they cannot win: that of the families of the victrims of 9/11 and the families of the captured American workers and the families of fallen soldiers in Iraq.

Mr. Bush knows how to defend himself against journalists — by shutting them out and demonizing them as elites out of touch with Joe Public. He tries to limit troubling pictures, by either forbidding them (soldiers' coffins) or superseding them with triumphalist tableaus of his own (that aircraft carrier). But faced with a revolt of The Families, he buckles. The Families are Joe Public, and you can see his fear of them from the timing of the sudden prime-time news conference that materialized on April 13. For days, TV had been overrun by the families, and on April 12 the phenomenon was at full tilt. All three morning network news shows, the programs that reach a vast audience of American women of voting age, had reports on the families or interviews with them or their immediate neighbors: either the families of 9/11 victims, the families of American troops (whether those killed in Iraq or those forced to extend their stay there) or the families of Americans taken hostage in Iraq. (Or, in the case of CBS's "Early Show," a smorgasbord of all three.)…


….But "America Held Hostage" was a tiny enterprise compared to the multi-network, multi-program coverage given to today's wartime families. Now it's all families, all the time, and the damage seems to be taking hold faster. Last Sunday, as "60 Minutes" prepared to broadcast its Woodward interview, the historian Niall Ferguson wrote in The New York Times that it was "chilling" to look at polls showing that the number of Americans who think the situation in Iraq was going well had fallen from 85 percent to 35 percent in only a year, with half of Americans already wanting some troop withdrawal. American approval of the Vietnam war, he noted, fell below 40 percent only in 1968, when the American body count was topping 20,000, not the 700 in Iraq to date.

There are many political reasons for this acceleration in national disenchantment in the months of postwar war, most of them visible on the ground in Iraq. But the cultural component cannot be underestimated. Those who apply Vietnam yardsticks to Iraq are still fighting the last quagmire. Vietnam was famously christened the "Living-Room War" by The New Yorker television critic Michael J. Arlen. But in our new living room war, the media battlefield has extended to the actual living rooms where The Families sit for interviews when the networks come calling. Those families are the underestimated guerrillas in the battle for public opinion, and they may yet prove harder for the administration to pacify than the insurgents in Fallujah.




Bush Versus Families


Ben Stein Worries Me 

First he writes an article about how we shouldn’t really worry when Japan and China buy up all our Treasury bonds, because that props up the dollar, and banks and helps to keep interests low.

But when it comes to thinking about tomorrow, he and every defender of the Bush Administration says “Hey…that’s a long way off…” The national debt? No problem there...that's your kids' problem.




Japan now holds roughly one-sixth of all Treasury debt, or more than $600 billion of it. China has bought much less but still owns about $170 billion of the stuff and is adding a few billion dollars a month…


…BUT how long can this go on? How long can we run trade deficits in the neighborhood of $600 billion a year? What happens when the Chinese and the Japanese have bought all of the Treasury debt - or when our securities market is heavily dominated by Asian buyers? Will we become, in essence, a colony of China and Japan, working a large part of the year to pay the interest and dividends on the bonds and stocks owned in those countries?

In a way, that's the problem of the Chinese and the Japanese. At some point, if you owe the bank enough money, you own the bank. And we can always print more money to pay the interest on the debt. Anyway, that is a long way off. And to those who say that running this kind of trade deficit cannot go on forever, I offer the words of my late, great father, Herbert Stein, when asked about this very problem. "If a thing cannot go on forever," he said, "it will stop."



Japan And China Are Buying America

The Zones of the Bush Administration 

Zones are a red flag concept in the context of the Bush Administration. Free Speech Zones is the first Orwellian use of the term. A Free Speech Zone is a place where you can protest the president, and say anything you want, as long as he and his camera crews and supporters don’t have to see you.

So right off the bat, a Free Speech Zone is a clear violation of the First Amendment, in spirit, if not technically. Free Speech that doesn’t have to be heard or is cordoned off is not really free.

Now comes another Orwellian use of the term, this time as a way of saying the President and the Vice President have a Zone of Authority that allows them to shield from the public the people and institutions that formed the very energy policies the public will have to live with and pay for.


The administration is arguing that the "de facto member doctrine" was never intended by Congress and should be rejected by the Supreme Court. Its brief says the doctrine turns the statute "into a general warrant to search executive branch groups and committees for contacts with outsiders who might be deemed de facto members," and that this interferes with the president's ability to obtain the advice he needs to perform his constitutional duties.

In reply, Judicial Watch says in its brief that the administration is making a "startling bid for effective immunity from judicial process." Courts should not be prohibited from taking account of a committee's "operational reality," the brief says.

While 15 organizations concerned with the environment or with access to information have joined briefs supporting the plaintiffs, the administration has attracted not a single "friend of the court." That seems odd, given that the administration is hardly without friends. But it is perhaps explainable in the culture of Washington, where any group that might be inclined to help an incumbent administration protect its secrets knows that the next time, with a different party in power, its interests might best be served by being first in line to pry the secrets loose.



Cheney Apparently Does Not Have To Answer Questions About Public Policy


Saturday, April 24, 2004

595 wounded in 14 days. That’s 43 wounded a day. That’s about 2 an hour.  

Out Damn Spot!!! 

Looks like the Bush Administration is desperately working with UN officials ( you remember them don't you? The "useless and outdated and ineffective institution" that needn't be consulted before going to war ) to redo the Iraqi Governing Council.

Out goes Chalabi, the neo-conman who somehow convinced Dick Cheney that he too, would be welcomed as a hero. Instead he has embezzled US tax payer's dollars and bribed his enemies and where is all this leading?

I wonder if anyone else in this fucking admnistration will be booted for the mess over there?

April. Day 24. 115 Dead. 

Neo-Cons Created Their Own Policy Making Groups, Ignored Time Tested Methods. 

They repeatedly tell us, in only slightly different ways, that this leadership group--or, better said, "court"--is one of "irregulars." At every opportunity, they went around our official government, around our institutions, and likely enough around the law. Across their history from the 1970s until today, this Bush neo-conservative group, backed by elements of the radical right and American supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, created alternate power centers to bypass traditional American ones. In short, they are true radicals. Think "Robespierre."

Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," for instance, how Douglas Feith, one of the most radical of the Bush-Rumsfeld courtiers, lobbied for the special intelligence planning board within the Pentagon to bypass traditional intelligence that warned against going to war in Iraq. This fact is widely known, but Woodward importantly explains: "It was a different way of doing things, first because the planners would be the implementers"--they would become the "expeditionary force" within Iraq after the war. Definitely not kosher!





The Mess In Iraq Is Because The Neo-Cons Wrested Control Of White House


General Abizaid Says Troops Are Stretched Thin And Warns That He Will Definitely Need More Troops. 

In a rare criticism of the American civilian administration in Iraq, he expressed hope that the State Department would change the 90-day rotation policy for many government civilians working in Iraq when it set up the new United States Embassy in Baghdad after June 30. Military officials have complained that the high civilian turnover has hurt the continuity of reconstruction efforts.

"Ninety days in Iraq for a senior official is not long enough," he said. "We keep our soldiers there for a year for a reason. We need to have long-term people that are going to deal with a long-term problem."

General Abizaid, who works from Qatar or his permanent headquarters in Tampa, Fla., but travels regularly to Iraq, said the next four months would be critical to the success of a new Iraq. He said Islamic militants, Baath Party loyalists and other insurgents would make an all-out effort to split the international alliance and foment a civil war.




Fighting Around Country Ties Troops Up



Five Gis Killed In Rocket Attack 

Insurgents struck a U.S. military base north of Baghdad with rockets at dawn Saturday, killing five American soldiers, an official said, while a rocket crashed into a crowded market in the Iraqi capital, killing at least three people.

Besides the deaths in the market, at least 12 Iraqis were killed Saturday in several attacks, including an apparent suicide car bombing in Tikrit, fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City, and clashes between Polish troops and Shiite militiamen in Karbala.


Five More caskets You Won't See

Friday, April 23, 2004

California Republicans Fined For Fraud- Pretending To Be Democrats 

Republicans Found Guilty Of Fraud


The campaign manager and fund-raising committee for a California Republican have agreed to pay $84,000 in civil penalties for sending out letters pretending to be Democrats during a 1998 congressional campaign, the Federal Election Commission said.

Adrian Plesha, manager of Charles Ball's campaign, agreed to pay a $60,000 fine and Ball's campaign committee agreed to pay $24,000. Plesha also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FEC and was sentenced to three years probation, fined another $5,000 and ordered to perform 160 hours of community service.


Lizza Ryan Soothes My Poll Angst Soul 

She comments on Bush poll bounce…

But Democrats should pause before they give up — and Republicans shouldn't celebrate quite yet. President Bush's vulnerabilities remain, even if they were not as apparent in this week's polls as they were in previous surveys; the question is whether Mr. Kerry can exploit them.

In none of the polls this week that purported to show the Bush surge does the president have majority support. Any politician running for re-election sweats when a poll shows him under 51 percent. Voters who say they are undecided almost always end up opposing the incumbent — they know him well, and if they were going to vote for him, they would have already decided. Thus support for Mr. Bush should be seen more as a ceiling, while support for Mr. Kerry, the lesser-known challenger, is more like a floor.






Polls Worry You? read here

You gotta wonder how TSA workers are going to actually protect us. 

From CBS News

Airport security screeners refused to let a cancer patient board a flight home to Denver because they said she no longer resembled her identification photos.

Athena LaPera, 35, finally flew out of Orlando International Airport on a Frontier Airlines flight Wednesday night, two days after she was turned away by security screeners.

LaPera said she has lost weight and hair because of chemotherapy treatments since the photos were taken for her U.S. passport and Colorado driver's license.





HOW FUCKING STUPID


Tillman 

Drudge is running a story that Pat Tillman, the NFL player who ditched a lucrative contract to join the army after 9/11, has been killed in battle.

UPDATE: MSNBC is now running the story as well MSNBC - Ex-NFL player Tillman killed in Afghanistan

Juan Cole Takes On Christopher Hitchens.  

Hitchens Questions on Iraq

A reader sent me these questions that he said Christopher Hitchens had posed. I then found them at his web site. They are:

1) Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein's regime was
inevitable or not?

2) Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would
have been better?

3) Do you know that Saddam's envoys were trying to buy a weapons
production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as
late as last March?

4) Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke's word) to the
man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?

5) Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over
northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf
War"?

6) Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all
the fighting for us?

7) Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left,
as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?


My reply would be simple. If you are arguing for war, you don't have to ask all these fancy questions. There are really only two questions you have to answer. The first is, would you yourself be willing to die fighting for this cause you have espoused? The second is, would you be willing to see your 18-year-old son or daughter killed for this cause? (I do not ask if you would be glad or satisfied; I ask if you would be willing).

My answer with regard to the aftermath of September 11 and defeating al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is, yes, I would have been willing to go fight and die myself to protect my country from another such attack. And, had my son been of age and had he enlisted after September 11, I could have accepted that and everything it entailed.

With regard to Iraq, the answer to both questions in my case is "no." I would not have been willing to risk my own life to dislodge Saddam Hussein from power. And, I would certainly not have been willing to see my son risk his, nor would I like to see him ever sent to Iraq as a draftee, because I believe the entire aftermath of the war has been handled with gross incompetence, and I certainly don't want my flesh and blood mauled by the machinations of Richard Perle and his buddies.

With regard to Mr. Hitchens's questions, most of them are logical fallacies, of the same form as "have you stopped beating your wife?" There are some questions that are traps. For instance, there are many reasons for which Saddam might have harbored one person wanted in connection with the first world trade center bombing that are not particularly sinister. It certainly is untrue that Saddam had anything to do with that bombing. It was done by al-Qaeda. The question is a trick because it tries to lead the reader in a particular direction, even though the evidence does not.

Likewise, ' Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose? ' is further tautology. The question is posed in such a way as to make the reader accept that there must have been a "confrontation" between the Baath military and the US. Gen. Zinni thought there would never have been any such thing, and that Saddam was contained. Gen. Zinni is not a milquetoast. Iraq had a weak army, a paralyzed command structure, rusting equipment, and could not even hold out in its own country against the US for more than a few days when the US launched a "confrontation." So the question can be rejected, since there may never have been such a confrontation. And, if there was, it seems obvious that the US could always win it hands down. That being the case, the US was never in any danger from the Saddam regime, which was a toothless old lion with rheumatoid arthritis and bad breath.

These word games are inconsequential. Do you, Abraham-like, offer up your first-born at this altar? That's what nearly a thousand US military families have done with regard to deaths, and thousands more with regard to permanent maimings and cripplings, and what yet thousands more are likely to be asked to do. If it had been me, I wouldn't have ordered them to do it, not in Iraq.

Another question we could throw back at Mr. Hitchens (who, it seems to me, isn't actually doing much for the war effort in Iraq), is whether, if you could only capture one, would you rather have Saddam Hussein in custody, or Usama Bin Laden? Given what we know Usama is planning, I opt for putting all our efforts and I mean all our efforts into capturing him tout de suite. Chasing around Iraq after Salafis and Mahdists doesn't make the homeland even one whit safer.

posted by Juan Cole at 4/23/2004 08:30:03 AM




Bush Administration Will Not Release Bad Household Income Numbers 

From BostonPhoenix by David Bernstein


Bush Administration Will Not Release Bad Household Income Numbers

Six months have passed since the Phoenix reported that the US Census Bureau’s latest income and poverty reports contained significant errors (see "The Politics of Poverty," News and Features, October 10, 2003). The reworked numbers, which will show that median after-tax household income declined far more in 2002 than the bureau reported, have been ready since January, according to sources in the agency. All that remained was to work out a "release strategy," according to one manager in the Housing and Household Economics Statistics Division. A follow-up call in March to find out when the new numbers would be made public yielded this information from Dan Weinberg, chief of the division: the bureau still needs to establish a "release strategy." It’s starting to look an awful lot like the "release strategy" is to not release the new numbers at all.

Even If You Close Your Eyes, They Are Still There. 

Iraq. The Next Year 

What is happening now in Iraq. The Marines are having to negotiate with the enemy. Why? Supply lines are attenuated. All the Operation Iron hammer and Iron Fist didn’t work, in fact they made things worse. The troops are exhausted, and many of the new troops are National Guardsmen and Reservists. My guess is that units have actually come close to running out of ammunition, and that’s why they are calling in air strikes and helicopter ferries. Lots of supplies on the broken highways waiting for combat engineers to shape them. Coalition partners are dropping like flies and those that are staying are even talking about leaving.

My guess is that it might not be so bad if Kerry isn’t elected. Because if Iraq doesn’t ruin W in this election, it will in the next. I predict that the US will receive the same sort of success that the Israelis have: endless bloodshed and downward spiraling money pit of resentment against the US.

From Stratfor.

In short, both sides have hit a wall of reality. The American
belief that there was no guerrilla force -- or that the
guerrillas had been crushed in December 2003 -- is simply not
true. If the United States wants to crush the guerrillas, U.S.
troops will have to go into Al Fallujah and other towns and fight
house to house. On the other hand, the guerrilla wish for a
rising wave of unrest to break the American will simply has not
come true. The forces around Al Fallujah were substantial, were
not deterred by political moves and could come in and wipe them
out. That was not an acceptable prospect.

Al Fallujah demonstrates three things: First, it demonstrates
that under certain circumstances, a political agreement --
however limited -- can be negotiated between the United States
and the guerrillas. Second, it demonstrates that the United
States is aware of the limits of its power and is now open, for
the first time, to some sort of political resolution -- even if
it means dealing with the guerrillas. Third, it demonstrates that
the guerrillas are aware of the limits of their power, and are
implicitly prepared for some solution short of complete,
immediate victory. The question is where this all goes.



By negotiating with the Sunni we now show the Shias that the Sunnis could come back to power. We have effectively united two out of three enemies. Yet, we have forced negotiations. According to Stratfor, that could be a good thing. Anyway, no one wants the Americans to leave until they can shape their own political future. But they do want us out.

In the end, the United States has limited interest in Iraq, but
the Iraqis -- Sunnis and Shia alike -- are not going anywhere.
They are going to have to deal with each other, although they do
not trust each other -- and with good reason. Neither trusts the
United States, but the United States will eventually leave. In
the meantime, the United States could be exceedingly useful in
cementing Sunni or Shiite power over each other. Neither side
wants to wind up dominated by the other. Neither wants the
Americans to stay in Iraq permanently, but the United States does
not want to stay permanently either. A few years hardly makes a
major difference in an area where history is measured in
millennia.

The simple assumption is that most Iraqis want the Americans out.
That is a true statement, but not a sufficient one. A truer
statement is this: Most Iraqis want the Americans out, but are
extremely interested in what happens after they leave. Given
that, the proper statement is: Most Iraqis want the Americans
out, but are prepared to use the Americans toward their ends
while they are there, and want them to leave in a manner that
will maximize their own interests in a postwar Iraqi world.




And the LA Times talks about how much of the Iraqi countryside is out of our control.



For foreigners — troops, diplomats, contractors rebuilding the country, and journalists — kidnappings became a daily occurrence. Shootings of people who look non-Arab — regardless of whether they were Western, Asian or African — became routine.

Numbers are hard to come by, since many incidents go unreported. But among the victims were half a dozen Bangladeshis attacked as they left Baghdad in a minivan; four died. At least seven Americans who were escorting a military supply convoy near the town of Abu Ghraib were attacked with small-arms fire. Several are believed to be dead, and at least two were taken hostage.

In another incident, four Italians were captured. The kidnappers shot one of their captives in the head and videotaped it, according to published reports.

Just three weeks ago, travel was easy outside Baghdad. There were risky stretches, but military convoys could pass. Foreign contractors could make their way from place to place, and journalists could drive to most areas of the country.

Now the roads out of the capital are so dangerous that few foreigners venture outside city limits. Nearly every day, a new area is closed or categorized as uncertain by the military.


US Loses A Bit Of Control


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Maybe There Won't Be A Draft Afterall 

Kerry Leads Bush With Students

The poll, which surveyed 1,205 college students nationwide, revealed that Senator John F. Kerry, D-Mass., leads President Bush by 10 percentage points and that 41 percent of students identify themselves as independents.





California May Get Rid Of Diebold Machines  



SACRAMENTO — California should ban the use of 15,000 touch-screen voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems from the Nov. 2 general election, an advisory panel to Secretary of State Kevin Shelley recommended today.

Rick Perry Goes For Last Place 

From Texas Freedom Network

-"I say the governor's plan is not a sin tax, but a sleaze tax."


Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, on Governor Rick Perry's proposal
to fund schools, in part, with a $5 tax on adult entertainment.


Rick Perry wants to tax cigarettes and gambling to pay for schools. Hell, isn't 48th place in school out of 50 bad enough?

Charter Schools 


The Escambia Charter School in Pensacola, Florida, has been charged with
fraud for allegedly hiring out students to work on road projects during
class time and taking a share of their wages. Students spent only an hour a
day in school but were given classroom credit for road work the rest of
each day, according to court records. State law requires students to spend
25 hours a week in class.


Courtesy Texas Freedom Network

Your Tax Dollars Used To Get W Elected. 

The U.S. Treasury says:
America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.
And the RNC also says:
America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's polices are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.

Promise To Investigate In The Typical Bush Administration Fashion: Footdragging

"What we are going to do is develop the facts and once we know what the facts are we can determine whether there was anything improper," Richard Delmar, counsel in the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, said Monday. "We are not going into this with any presumptions," he said.

Freeze!!! Police!!! Drop That Prilosec!!! 

Brazen Seniors Caught At Border Trying To Buy MEDICINE!!!!!!!


A senior Food and Drug Administration official said Wednesday that it was unfortunate his agency stopped and inspected a busload of seniors returning from a medicine-buying trip to Canada.

"This is not consistent with our current practice," said John Taylor, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "I would not expect it to happen again."

The FDA says it cannot guarantee the safety of medications purchased in Canada and has been increasing pressure on state and local programs that help people buy the lower-cost prescription drugs there .


From Fulcrum 

Tami Silicio, the woman who took the photo of flag-draped coffins in the hold of a cargo plane leaving Kuwait has been fired. She worked for a contractor providing logistical support for the military when she snapped the photo. Sending the picture to the Seattle Times, which published it, sent the military - and likely BushCo. - into a tizzy. Under unspecified pressure from the military, her company fired her.


Yeah, don't wanna see any nasty coffins and undermine the sales job we have here on the war and all.

Kevin Drum Points Out Not Only Did Kerry Serve, He Volunteered To Serve. Bush Volunteered To NOT Serve. 

A TALE OF TWO SOLDIERS....Our story so far:


George Bush, fresh out of Yale, uses family connections to join the Air National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam. After four years of a six-year term he decides to skip his annual physical, is grounded, and heads off to Alabama, where he blows off even the minimal annoyance of monthly drills for over six months.


Conservative reaction: why are you impugning the patriotism of this brave man? He got an honorable discharge and that's as much as anyone needs to know.


John Kerry, fresh out of Yale, enlists in the Navy and subsequently requests duty in Vietnam. While there, according to the Boston Globe, he wins a Purple Heart and then follows that up with more than two dozen missions in which he often faced enemy fire, a Silver Star for an action in which he killed an enemy soldier who carried a loaded rocket launcher that could have destroyed his six-man patrol boat, a Bronze Star for rescuing an Army lieutenant who was thrown overboard and under fire, and two more Purple Hearts.


Conservative reaction: Hmmm, that first injury wasn't very serious. This is something that deserves careful and drawn-out investigation, and it would certainly be unfair to impugn "craven or partisan motives" to those doing the impugning.


Are these guys a piece of work, or what?

That Nasty Supply Line Problem.  

Rebuilding Virtually Stopped

The insurgency in Iraq has driven two major contractors, General Electric and Siemens, to suspend most of their operations there, raising new doubts about the American-led effort to rebuild the country as hostilities continue.

Spokesmen for the contractors declined to discuss their operations in Iraq, citing security concerns, but the shutdowns were confirmed by officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, the Coalition Provisional Authority and other companies working directly with G.E. and Siemens in Iraq.

"Between the G.E. lockdown and the inability to get materials moved up the major supply routes, about everything is being affected in one way or another," said Jim Hicks, a senior adviser for electricity at the provisional authority.

The suspensions and travel restrictions are delaying work on about two dozen power plants as occupying forces press to meet an expected surge in demand for electricity before the summer. Mr. Hicks said plants that had been expected to produce power by late April or early May might not be operating until June 1.

Friedman Takes Meds. 

Thomas talks about the cost of militarizing airports and the INS against terrorists...


Other executives complained bitterly that the Department of Homeland Security is making it so hard for legitimate foreigners to get visas to study or work in America that many have given up the age-old dream of coming here. Instead, they are studying in England and other Western European nations, and even China. This is leading to a twofold disaster.

First, one of America's greatest assets — its ability to skim the cream off the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world and bring them to our shores to innovate — will be diminished, and that in turn will shrink our talent pool. And second, we could lose a whole generation of foreigners who would normally come here to study, and then would take American ideas and American relationships back home. In a decade we will feel that loss in America's standing around the world.



Goodbye Land Of Opportunity

The Coalition Of The Leaving 

On the Jon Stewart Show tonight, he was commenting on the number of countries that were withdrawing from the so-called coalition. He mentioned Honduras, Guatemala, Spain, Ireland, and the “other coalition” aka “most of the rest of the fucking world.”

It was funny beyond funny. Any mention of the growing disillusionment is always met with hard nosed talking points memoes about “Doing the world a favor”, and “Building Democracy in Iraq,” and it seems so shallow and disingenuous.

The fact is, not only is our supply line threatened, the costs are rising and there has been no mention of asking for new funds in the up coming budget; and now our friends who gave us bupkis in troops to begin with are all beginning to leave. Or as Jon Stewart say: premature evacuation.



Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Go To Fulcrum, Scroll Down, Read This 

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bush had decided to invade Iraq.

Bush Vs Kerry Thanks To Kos 

While at Yale
Kerry
Enlisted in the US Naval Reserves.  Feb. 18, 1966

Bush
Bush received student deferments until June 1968; that year marked the height of the Vietnam draft.  [Washington Post, 7/28/99]

Applied for spot in Texas Air National Guard in January of 1968, before graduation.  Before he graduated, Bush personally visited Col. Walter "Buck" Staudt -- the commander of the Texas Air National Guard -- to talk about the Guard.  

After Bush met with Staudt, he applied and was quickly accepted -- despite a waiting list of over 150 applicants.

Contrary to Bush's denials of special treatment, it was later disclosed that a personal friend of Bush's father had secured the spot in the Guard for Bush.

Bush later acknowledges he entered Guard to avoid going to Vietnam:  "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment.  Nor was I willing to go to Canada.  So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes." [Houston Chronicle, 5/8/94]
After Graduation
Kerry
Enters and Completes Officer Training School

Bush
Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard after his student deferment ran out when he graduated from Yale in 1968.  

"His score on the pilot aptitude section, one of five on the test, was in the 25th percentile, the lowest allowed for would-be fliers." [Dallas Morning News, 7/4/99]

Bush received a direct appointment, allowing him to become a second lieutenant right out of basic training without having to go though officer candidate school.  The direct appointment also cleared the way for a position in pilot training school. [Houston Chronicle, 10/10/92; Los Angeles Times, 7/4/99]

On Bush's application to the 147th Fighter Group at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas, Bush was asked what his "Area Assignment Preferences" were. Bush checked the box beside "Do Not Volunteer" for overseas duty. [Application for Extended Duty With The United States Air Force, 5/27/68]
First Assignment
Kerry
Deployed to Western Pacific to Support Operations in Vietnam

Bush
In the summer of 1970, Bush moved into the Chateaux Dijon apartment complex, "a popular spot for singles, it offered fancy street lamps and striped awnings and six pools filled with ambitious secretaries, students and young businessmen. Bush relished his bachelor life there. He played hard, plunging into all-day water volleyball games, but left frequently for 24-hour flight duty in the alert shack at Ellington Field." [Washington Post, 7/28/99]
Request for Second Post
Kerry
On Feb. 10, 1968, Kerry requests duty in Vietnam.  He lists his first billet preference as an Officer in Charge of a swift boat and his second as a patrol officer in a River Patrol Boat (PBR) squadron.

Bush
In May 1972, Bush gets a job on an Alabama Senate Campaign.  He leaves Houston and requests transfer to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Alabama.  Although Bush notes his aeronautical rating as "flying status," his request is turned down because the 9921 was a postal unit.  His transfer is later approved to a different Alabama unit. [AF 1288--Bush signature, 24 May 72; Approved: 26 May 72]
Second Assignment
Kerry
Kerry leaves his post on the Gridley, and becomes a student at the Naval Amphibious Base, in Coronado, California in preparation for service on a swift boat in Vietnam.  He is promoted from Ensign to Lt. JG and extends his active duty commitment by six months.

While in Vietnam Kerry is involved in more than a dozen missions receiving hostile fire.  

He is wounded three times and decorated with three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.  Kerry is ordered by Naval regulations to return home after being wounded three times.

Bush
During Bush's service in Alabama:
He is suspended from flight status for his failure to take required annual medical exam. [Washington Post, 2/15/02; Aeronautical Orders, Number 87, 29 Sept 72; AFM 35-13, Para 2-29m]

He attends the Republican National Convention in Miami, Florida with his father. [Bill Minutaglio, First Son, p. 144].  

Pay records released by the White House show that he was paid for 2 days service during the six-month period covering the Blount campaign. [White House Release: Bush Pay Records]

Bush's superior officers were unable to complete his annual evaluation for 1972 because, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of report." [AF-77, 2 May 73]
Additional Service
Kerry
Completes Full Active Duty Commitment

Bush
According to records released by the White House itself, Bush may fallen short on minimum requirements expected for Guard members. Bush served 25 days of combined active and weekend Guard duty between May 27, 1972 and May 26, 1973, even though minimum requirements were one weekend a month--24 days a year--plus another 15 days of active duty.  Moreover, in 1973 Bush received 15 extra (called "gratuitous") points toward the 50 points needed each year toward his retirement.  Guard members commonly received such extras if they had already met the minimum 50 points each year without the additional points. Bush only earned 41 points during the 1972-3 year. According to Wayne Rambo, who was chief administrative officer of the Alabama unit to which Bush was assigned, "that would have been a decided violation of the norm" because extra points were meant "only as a reward to reservists for meeting their bottom line." [Boston Globe, 2/11/04; Memphis Flyer, 2/16/04]

That $160 Billion? All Gone. 

Yep. War eats up material. Material that needs to be replaced.


More Supply Line Problems


The strains are beginning to show. Last month, all four military services began spending money halfway through the fiscal year that they were not supposed to touch until July, a senior GOP Armed Services Committee aide said. The military has asked Congress eight times in the past few months for permission to shift $619 million to urgent combat needs from less-pressing programs, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said.



Scrambling to fill its needs, the Pentagon last week diverted 120 armored Humvees purchased by the Israel Defense Forces to Iraq. Yesterday, the Army announced a $110 million contract for still more armored Humvees.


US marines down to two hot meals a day  

April 19 2004 at 02:39PM


Ramadi - Insurgents' assaults on supply convoys west of Baghdad landed a blow to United States marines' stomachs on Monday as their bases in al-Anbar province began rationing food amid fears their stocks could run low.

Since Sunday, all 1st Marine Division camps have rationed food, said spokesperson 1st Lieutenant Eric Knapp.

Some bases are down to one hot meal a day while others are still serving two, Knapp said.

On Monday, hundreds at the 1st Marine Division headquarters in Ramadi picked through the plastic-sealed field meals, known as Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) - choosing between Thai chicken, beef stew and bean and rice burrito.



chow is not more important than someone's life
The headquarters was down to a hot breakfast and dinner as it looked to cut back on food supply convoys after insurgents ambushed US military and private trucks since the marines stormed into Fallujah two weeks ago.

Several US soldiers and contractors have gone missing in the attacks on the dangerous road between Baghdad and Jordan.

"We don't want to run out so we're conserving because chow is not more important than someone's life," said Staff Sergeant Denise Ruiz, the dining hall manager at the main base in Ramadi, home to about 1 200 marines.

"It's not that there is a shortage. We just want to make sure our contractors get here safely."

The military's catering is contracted out to the American firm Kellogg, Brown and Root.

Ruiz said they had not received a food delivery in at least a week, but a shipment was expected very soon.

The MREs did not appear to be affecting morale Monday.

"I'm used to eating MREs. I'm an artillery man," said Lance Corporal Jesse Smith, as the smell of chemical heaters to warm the sealed food wafted across the cafeteria. - Sapa-AFP




supply trouble

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