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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

M******F***** 

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[In early 2001] the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country. The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco, and, almost prophetically, a terrorist attack on New York City.

Bush Cut Levee Funding


In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.

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morning 

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In 2004, Bush cut the levee funding and put the money in homneland security

It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

--- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.


Poverty is Up Under Bush

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 - Even as the economy grew, incomes stagnated last year and the poverty rate rose, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. It was the first time on record that household incomes failed to increase for five straight years.

The portion of Americans without health insurance remained roughly steady at 16 percent, the bureau said. A smaller percentage of people were covered by their employers, but two big government programs, Medicaid and military insurance, grew.



Making Prisons Worse

Faced with high prison costs, the states have been desperately seeking ways to make sure that people who are released from prison will forge viable lives outside - and not end up right back behind bars. Part of the solution is to help former inmates find training, jobs and places to live. In this context, the increasingly common practice of jacking up the costs of inmates' telephone calls to bankrupting levels, and then using the profits to pay for some prison activities, is self-defeating and inhumane. It also amounts to a hidden tax on prisoners' families, who tend to be among the poorest in American society.



Hillary may get caught flat-footed. Or she may be right in betting that there's no need to do anything rash now, like leading.

But now Hillary's voice is often pianissimo on the current hot issue: how to get out of Iraq. Once we made sure Saddam was armed against Iran. Now we may have to arm an Islamic protégé of Iran if we want to pull out.

But Hillary's not playing the vocal peacenik this time - she's the cagey hawk. She knows if she wants to be the first woman president, she can't have love beads in her jewelry box.

She has defended her vote to authorize the president to wage war, even though it was apparent then that the administration was snookering the country. And she has argued for more troops in Iraq, knowing it sounds muscular but there's no support for it from the public - or Rummy.

She figures the liberals will stay with her while she scuttles to the center, even if they get angry when she's not out front on stopping the war or preserving abortion rights. No one knows how she'll vote on John Roberts, so this could be her own Sister Souljah moment - will she break with the hard-line left on Judge Roberts?

What Hillary has going for her is exhaustion. Exhaustion kicks in with any party in power for eight years, let alone one that tricked the country into war. And at some point, voters may be too exhausted to resist Hillary's relentless ambition any longer.

But by hanging back and trimming her positions, by keeping her powder dry until a more politically advantageous time, she may miss the moment when Americans are looking for someone to emerge from her cowering party to articulate their anger about Iraq or their fear about a Supreme Court that will scale back women's rights and civil rights here, as Islamic courts do the same in Iraq.


More On Louisiana Guardsmen In Iraq

With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday -- calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military.



I visit Baghdad at least four times a year, to see how things are developing. Since the fall of Saddam in May 2003, and the capture of Baghdad, after which major operations were declared over, I have been here eleven times. Each time the security situation has been markedly worse than the time before … It has become a civil war, fought out with car bombs and shots to the head, while the foreign forces, US and British and the rest, look on, incapable of stopping it. This isn't how things were supposed to turn out here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Get us home, please 

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"I don't rightly know what your US news is saying, but here are a few of my own observations... The US Army is putting forth its main effort to train Iraqi soldiers... It will realistically take years before their Army and police are sufficient to protect the people and resist internal corruption. The reports that the commands are making to the higher-ups are biased and sugar-coated. The corruption is underplayed and the achievements/milestones exaggerated. The results however, may convince Congress and that a successful pull-out is close."

At this point I'd appreciate [it]. I've done my part. I've personally come to the law-of-diminishing-ret

Captain Daniel Green, battlefield surgeon.

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Goodbye Purple Finger, hello Disappointment 

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Iraqi activist taken up by Bush recants her views


By Andrew Buncombe
Published: 28 August 2005

She was the Iraqi activist who became a symbol of the possibility of a brighter future for Iraq.

Back in February, with blue ink on her finger symbolising the recent Iraqi election in which she had just voted, Safia Taleb al-Souhail was invited to sit with the first lady, Laura Bush, and listen to the President claim in his state of the union address that success was being achieved in Iraq. Her picture went round the world after she turned to hug Janet Norwood, a Texas woman whose son had been killed in Iraq.

But now it appears Ms Souhail, an anti-Saddam activist who became Iraq's ambassador to Egypt, may be having second thoughts about the "success" she celebrated with a two-fingered victory sign.

Having seen the negotiations for the country's constitution fall into disarray and the prospect of a secular constitution severely undermined, she expressed her concerns last week.

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution."

Although, in practice, many Iraqis end up having recourse to religious authorities or informal tribal law, the idea of a united civil code is central to the modern state, she said.

Ms Souhail, whose actions during Mr Bush's February address were noted by Billmon.Org, a political website, added: "This will lead to creating religious courts. But we should be giving priority to the law."

Mr Bush claimed last week that women's rights were not being threatened by the negotiations in Baghdad.

"There is not, as I understand it, the way the constitution is written, is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognised in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about, you know, not 'the religion' but 'a religion'," he said.

"Twenty-five per cent of the assembly is going to be women, which is embedded in the constitution."

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A Rare Win For Us, and other stuff. 

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Camp Casey was a clear win for the growing anti war constituency in America. It unapologetically put a bereaved Mom in Bush’s face and brought the war home for many of us.

Despite the “Bitch in the Ditch” crowd, and the pro war chickenhawks who are healthy enough to serve but would rather spit invective from the ditch across the street- this was a PR win for us. Cindy held up despite the full-bore wrath and senseless lies told about her by billion-dollar “news” organization.

When Bush’s black-windowed Suburbans and bulletproof limousines flew past Cindy and her cardboard sign, it was the perfect metaphor for the extremists who took over the country and the people who are finally opposing their policies.






Halliburton’s Bad habits


Greenhouse had repeatedly challenged the Army Corps' commanding officers on their decision in 2003 to give a contract worth up to $7 billion to repair oil infrastructure to Halliburton, the Houston-based oil services company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

""They went after her to destroy her," said Michael Kohn, her attorney, who added that the demotion was "absolutely" retaliation for her complaints about the Halliburton contract.

Democrats, who had invited Greenhouse to testify about her concerns at a June hearing, asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a letter today to reinstate her pending an investigation.




Helen Thomas Says

WASHINGTON -- It's time for the Democratic Party to take a courageous stand and call for the withdrawal of troops from the senseless war in Iraq.

Its human cost and the billion-dollars-a-week tab in Iraq should give all Americans pause.

Would the Republicans have hesitated to challenge the Democrats if the shoe were on the other foot? Did the opposition party give President Clinton any slack while he was in office?




"There's a certain ferocity in motherhood."

-Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Ms. Sheehan's antiwar group, Gold Star Families for Peace.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

mo 

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Shit

"The symbols have never been more stark: no screenwriter (even those who write farces) could have sold such a script in 2000, before the national election was pickpocketed by James Baker. Too unbelievable. A blithe, play-acting President on a bicycle on the ranch, under siege from a growing camp of aggrieved Americans while the finest, middle class youth of the nation is bled white thousands of miles away in the midst of a religious civil war triggered by the United States - with no hope of victory, no hope of Jeffersonian democracy, no hope for honor. Yes, this does sound like 1968 - minus the bicycle, and with lower approval ratings and a more mainstream opposition.

"Yet, of course, the toothless, political cowardice of the Democrats must not slip away into the night of history. Particularly in this Congress, lockstep support for national security in the "time of war" has given the Administration the social checkbook it needs to write the bills for this war. Far too many Democrats went along for the ride, bought too easily into the argument that everything is different after 9-11. They missed the fact that one thing didn't change, despite the panic of the President and his little yelping terriers: we still have some national character in this country, we can't be sold a bill of goods forever, we know when to hold 'em and to fold 'em.

"And folks, it's time to fold 'em. When the argument for continuing war is to merely to honor the dead that have gone before with more dead, with more wounded, with more destruction, you know the jig is up, that the military maneuver is merely in the form of a forlorn hope, destined to die for nothing. The Iraqi civil war will rage until there is no Iraq. There never was an Iraq, except as the construct of an empire and a dictator; we had no business in the squabbles of religious tribes. And we have no business in helping to write a consitution that places the lives of women at the mercy of a medieval code of sexist, moralist, symbolist system of humiliation and punishment. Conspiring with the mullahs against women may be George W. Bush's greatest act of treason against the world's people - and it will live in infamy.



Rove Guilty As Sin



Still, more is likely to come out after Labor Day. A special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, is expected to finish his two-year investigation this fall. His goal was to find the person who leaked Plame's identity as an undercover CIA agent -- a serious offense in the view of Bush's father. He and many other commentators have deplored the idea that the leaker may have been seeking political retribution at the expense of national security.

So attention will inevitably turn back again to Karl Rove, who did talk with Novak and other reporters who wrote the story but who is now being portrayed by some as a neutral researcher in the Valerie Plame case. Yes, and sometimes dogs do eat homework.

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Every Child Left Behind 

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First the bad news: Only about two-thirds of American teenagers (and just half of all black, Latino and Native American teens) graduate with a regular diploma four years after they enter high school.

Now the worse news: Of those who graduate, only about half read well enough to succeed in college.

Don't even bother to ask how many are proficient enough in math and science to handle college-level work. It's not pretty.

Of all the factors combining to shape the future of the U.S., this is one of the most important. Millions of American kids are not even making it through high school in an era in which a four-year college degree is becoming a prerequisite for achieving (or maintaining) a middle-class lifestyle.

The Program for International Assessment, which compiles reports on the reading and math skills of 15-year-olds, found that the U.S. ranked 24th out of 29 nations surveyed in math literacy. The same result for the U.S. - 24th out of 29 - was found when the problem-solving abilities of 15-year-olds were tested.

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morning 

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Creationsists Say They Are Taking Dinosaurs Back.

"We're putting evolutionists on notice: We're taking the dinosaurs back," said Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group building a $25-million creationist museum in Petersburg, Ky., that's already overrun with model sauropods and velociraptors.



Fascism? Propaganda…Who?...Us?

If you subscribe to the State Department press lists, an e-mail would have popped into your inbox on Sunday attributed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The text was a message from the Secretary congratulating the Iraqi people on finishing the draft of their new constitution. If you also read the Sunday papers, or perused the news on the internet, you would have probably already read that the “finished” constitution had been presented to parliament over the objection of the Sunnis, and the likelihood of its rejection in a referendum planned for October was now rather high.
But in the surreal world of the Bush administration, even bad news is now good news (once, at least, the administration only complained about the lack of media attention to the good news out of Iraq; not that bad news was actually good).

Anyone who has witnessed or experienced a dictatorship’s manipulation of the news (or watched too much of the Fox News Channel) would find the Bush administration propaganda on Iraq, and in particular Secretary Rice’s statement, uncomfortably close to the kind that totalitarian states employ. In totalitarian states, the people often assume that the government always lies and that its statements are not to be trusted. In America, where we tend to want to believe our government, we rely on the free press (or late night comedians) to expose government lies; a job the mainstream media seems to be finally warming up to. I wonder how much ridicule the Secretary of State will be exposed to in the coming week.




Who Would Jesus Assassinate?


The head of the Christian Broadcasting Network did not claim that Chavez violated or threatened any core Christian values; nor that Chavez was destroying family values, in Venezuela or elsewhere. And Robertson's concern was certainly not about democracy since Chavez was duly elected (unlike the military officers whose coup attempt against Chavez was praised by Robertson).

Indeed, Robertson's words made clear that Chavez should be disposed of because of his anticapitalist views and his resistance to American domination of the western hemisphere. (By the way, someone should tell Robertson that the Monroe doctrine was aimed at European powers, not at indigenous Latin American radicals.) And also, of course, because Venezuela has alot of oil, which we might need.

To advocate removing a foreign leader (even peaceably) for such reasons expresses a crude political and economic agenda, not a moral one: Robertson's statement vibrated with Cold War hostility to the political left, while also voicing the fantasy that the left is somehow allied to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorists. Is this what the Christian right is becoming -- very right and not very Christian?



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Sunday, August 28, 2005

sabbath 

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James Wolcott Remembers The Neo-con Chickenhawk War Planners


"Forget the 250,000 figure, Perle said: 'The Army guys don't know anything. They said we needed 500,000 troops in 1991 [for the Gulf War]. Did we need that many to win? No.'

"What's the Perle Plan? I asked.

"'Forty thousand troops.' he said.

"To take Baghdad? Nah, he replied. To take control of the north and the south, particularly the north, where the oil fields are. Cut off Saddam's oil, make him a pauper, that should do the trick.

"'We don't need anyone else,' he said, in a distinctly imperial fashion."


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Wolcott makes the point about Cowardly Democrats

If there's a moment that could stand for the Democrats' irrelevance it came on July 14, the day Americans woke up to learn of the suicide bomber in Baghdad who killed as many as 27 people, nearly all of them children gathered around American troops. In Washington that day, the presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a press conference vowing to protect American children from the fantasy violence of video games.

The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes. Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America's ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Jumping The Couch 

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As the news correspondent Dan Harris noted on ABC on Wednesday, the mood is much different now from what it was when the Dixie Chicks got pilloried for criticizing the president just before the war began.

The No. 1 music video requested on MTV is Green Day's antiwar song, "Wake Me Up When September Ends," about the pain of soldiers and their families. On Sunday, Joan Baez sang peace anthems at Camp Casey, including "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" The N.F.L. did not cancel its sponsorship of the Rolling Stones tour, even though the band has a new song critical of Mr. Bush and the war.

Gary Hart began his Washington Post op-ed piece this week by quoting from an anti-Vietnam War song, "Waist-deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on."

The former campaign manager for George McGovern's antiwar campaign in 1972 wrote: "We've stumbled into a hornet's nest. We've weakened ourselves at home and in the world. We are less secure today than before this war began. Who now has the courage to say this?"

Anxiety is growing among politicians on both sides of the aisle. More and more Americans don't want to stay-the-course on stay-the-course.

You'd think that by now, watching the meshugas in Iraq, the Bush crowd would have learned some lessons about twisting facts to suit ideology, and punishing those who try to tell the truth. But they're still behaving like Cinderella's evil stepsisters, who cut their feet to fit them into the glass slipper: butchering reality to make the fairy tale come out their way.


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Friday, August 26, 2005

Lunchy 

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The Shitty Press


Later, Bush asked, "We've got somebody from Fox here, somebody told me?"

"Does the administration's goal -- I'll ask you about the Iraqi constitution. You said you're confident that it will honor the rights of women."

"Yes."

"If it's rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be -- is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?"

"I've talked to Condi, and there is not -- as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about, you know, not 'the religion,' but 'a religion.' Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a -- is embedded in the constitution. OK. It's been a pleasure."



Media “Elite”


In any case, whoever they're shtupping, they share a mindset: the government and corporate media self-consciously see themselves as a governing elite that runs things hand in hand. That's why Nicholas Kristof is anxious that if the hoi polloi keep calling George Bush a liar, it may make America "increasingly difficult to govern." And it's why Katherine Graham famously said this, in a speech at the CIA to new recruits:
"There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets, and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows."

William Greider explained the perspective of people like Graham and Kristof and their political cuddlebunnies in his book Who Will Tell the People: In many private quarters of Washington, Alexander Hamilton's derisive dictum—"The People! The People is a great beast!"—has become an operating maxim. Survival in office requires a political strategy for herding "the beast" in harmless directions or deflecting it from serious matters it may not understand. Now and then, to the general dismay of political elites, Hamilton's "beast" breaks loose and tramples the civility of the regular order, though this usually occurs on inflammatory marginal issues that have little to do with the real substance of governing.

Weirdly, in fact, the media may be more invested in the status quo, and more concerned about "the people" going berserk, than actual politicians. Officeholders come and go, but the Washington Post is eternal.

So anyway, here's a funny little story illustrating all this:

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen came to talk at Yale in 1988, just after I arrived. Following schmancy Yale tradition, he had tea with a small group of students and then ate dinner with an even smaller group. I weaseled my way into attending.

Gary Hart had recently flamed out in the '88 presidential race because of Donna Rice. And at dinner Cohen told all us fresh-faced, ambitious, grotty youths this:

The Washington press corps had specifically tried to push Hart out of the race. It wasn't because Hart had had extramarital affairs—everyone knew this was the norm rather than the exception among politicians. So Hart wasn't at all unusual in this respect. Instead, Cohen said, it was because the press corps felt that Hart was "weird" and "flaky" and shouldn't be president. And when the Donna Rice stuff happened, they saw their opening and went after him.

(I wish I remembered more about what Cohen said about the specific gripe of the press corps with Hart, but I don't think he revealed many details.)

At the time, I remember thinking this:

1. How interesting that the DC press corps knows grimy details about lots of politicians but only chooses to tell the great unwashed when they decide it's appropriate.

2. How interesting that the DC press corps feels it's their place to make decisions for the rest of America; ie, rather than laying out the evidence that Hart was weird, flaky, etc., and letting Americans decide whether they cared, they decided run-of-the-mill citizens couldn't be trusted to make the correct evaluation.

3. How interesting that Cohen felt it was appropriate to tell all this to a small group of fresh-faced, ambitious, grotty Yale youths, but not to the outside world. And how interesting that we were being socialized into thinking this was normal.

Now, this doesn't mean Gary Hart wasn't weird and flaky. I assume he was. To me, the desire to be President of the United States in itself means you're a psychopath who should never be President of the United States. Unfortunately, of course, this desire is a job requirement. You have to be Catholic to be Pope, and you have to be dangerous and sick to be president.

But the point is the powerhouse media and their politician lovemates truly do feel there are things normal, grubby Americans simply can't handle. Moreover, it has nothing to do with political parties. Everything I've seen in my life confirms that, with few exceptions, they feel this way across the (extremely narrow) political spectrum.

If you're not part of their little charmed circle, believe me, all your worst suspicions about them are true. They do think you're stupid. They do lie to you. They do hate and fear you. Most importantly, they think you can't be trusted with the things they know—because if you did know them, you'd go nuts and break America. They are Thomas Jefferson's aristocrats:



It doesn't happen often, so when high-profile figures in the mainstream news media express the same frustration with their industry that the rest of us feel, it's noteworthy.

For example, sports broadcaster Bob Costas routinely sits in for Larry King on CNN. But last week, he decided he couldn't, in good conscience, guest host the program.

The cable news fixation on Natalee Holloway's disappearance in Aruba has at least one high-profile dissenter.

Veteran sports broadcaster Bob Costas declined to fill in as host on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday night because of the program's focus that night on the missing Alabama teenager and on Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer.

Costas — who has been serving as an occasional substitute for King since June — bowed out of the Thursday show after he could not persuade producers to change the program's lineup, which included an interview with Beth Holloway Twitty, the mother of the high school senior who disappeared in Aruba in late May.

"I didn't think the subject matter of Thursday's show was the kind of broadcast that I should be doing," Costas said in a statement, adding that he "respectfully declined to participate."

Good for him. The truth is, yet another hour on Holloway and the BTK serial killer on CNN primetime isn't the kind of broadcast anyone should be doing. Costas' refusal should be a wakeup call to producers. It won't, of course, but it should.

Also note, Costas wasn't the only one to voice these concerns publicly recently.

As C&L noted, CNN's Jack Cafferty also blasted the media's obsession with sensationalized nonsense. To his credit, Cafferty did so on the air.

"It's like the world's gone mad, Wolf. I mean, what a charade. The BTK killer actually shed a tear or two during this sentencing hearing, this circus today. That was on the outside. He had to be laughing hysterically on the inside. We, the news media and the criminal justice system played right into his hands. A two-day sentencing hearing that was televised live around the world after he'd already confessed.

"We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. Publicity is this monster's gasoline. It's what kept him going during the years he was playing cat and mouse with the cops and murdering innocent people. He loved being the BTK killer. He loved reading about himself in the newspapers, watching the television stories on the local news in Kansas, on the nights before he got caught.

"Doesn't anybody get this? This thing should have been sentenced in a closed courtroom in 30 seconds and thrown into a hole to rot. I'm a little embarrassed to be a part of the media on a day like this."

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to check to see if a shark has attacked Michael Jackson….





Changes For parks Will Hurt Parks


A series of proposed revisions of National Park policy has created a furor among present and former park officials who believe the changes would weaken protections of natural resources and wildlife while allowing an increase in commercial activity, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

National Park Service employees warn that the changes, which were proposed by the Department of the Interior and are undergoing a Park Service review, would fundamentally alter the agency's primary mission.


"They are changing the whole nature of who we are and what we have been," said J.T. Reynolds, superintendent of Death Valley National Park. "I hope the public understands that this is a threat to their heritage. It threatens the past, the present and the future. It's painful to see this."

The potential changes would allow cellphone towers and low-flying tour planes and would liberalize rules that prohibited mining, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.




Free Speech Still Alive.

An overwhelming number of people say critics of the Iraq war should be free to voice their objections — a rare example of widespread agreement about a conflict that has divided the nation along partisan lines.

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John Cleese's Letter to the USA 

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To the citizens of the United States of America, in light of your
failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern
yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your
independence, effective today.


Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II resumes monarchical duties
over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah,
which she does not fancy.

Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the
97.8% of you who have, until now, been unaware there's a world outside
your borders) will appoint a Minister for America. Congress and the
Senate are disbanded. A questionnaire circulated next year will
determine whether any of you noticed.


To aid your transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following
rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. Look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Check
"aluminium" in the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how
wrongly you pronounce it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words
such as 'favour' and 'neighbour'. Likewise you will learn to spell
'doughnut' without skipping half the letters. Generally, you should
raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary."


Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such
as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of
communication. Look up "interspersed." There will be no more 'bleeps'
in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad
language then you should not have chat shows.


2. There is no such thing as "U.S. English." We'll let Microsoft know
on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take
account of the reinstated letter 'u'.


3. You should learn to distinguish English and Australian accents. It
really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney,
upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). Scottish dramas such
as 'Taggart' will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. You must learn
that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the
county is "Devon." If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all
American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire,
Louisianashire.


4. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The
Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1.


5. You should stop playing American "football." There's only one kind
of football. What you call American "football" is not a very good game.
The 2.1% of you aware there is a world outside your borders may have
noticed no one else plays "American" football. You should instead play
proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the
girls.

Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby
(which is similar to American "football", but does not involve
stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body
armour like nancies).


You should stop playing baseball. It's not reasonable to host an event
called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of
America. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game
called "rounders," which is baseball without fancy team stripe,
oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.


6. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns, or anything more
dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because you are not
sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you need a permit
to carry a vegetable peeler.


7. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new
national holiday. It will be called "Indecisive Day."


8. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for
your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what
we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and
you will start driving on the left. At the same time, you will go
metric without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and
metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


9. Learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are
not real chips. Fries aren't French, they're Belgian, though 97.8% of
you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not
aware of a country called Belgium. Potato chips are properly called
"crisps." Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The
traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm
and flat.


10. The cold tasteless stuff you call beer is actually lager. Only
proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer." Substances once
known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen
Gnat's Urine," except for the product of the American Budweiser company
which will be called "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine." This will allow
true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech
Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.


11. The UK will harmonise petrol prices (or "Gasoline," as you will be
permitted to keep calling it) for those of the former USA, adopting UK
petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon, get used to it).


12. Learn to resolve personal issues without guns, lawyers or
therapists. That you need many lawyers and therapists shows you're not
adult enough to be independent. If you're not adult enough to sort
things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, you're not
grown up enough to handle a gun.


13. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.


14. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you
shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to
1776).


Thank you for your co-operation.



* John Cleese

[Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers, Torquay, Devon, England]

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Morning 

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Justin Frank Says

George W. Bush remains an untreated alcoholic. The untreated alcoholic who has simply stopped drinking treats anxiety as an enemy. Bush’s current enemy, the primary cause of his anxiety, is Cindy Sheehan.
Nobody talks about it – the press is afraid of it — but we are all enabling a man whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best.

Anxiety is always challenging; but when an untreated alcoholic’s behavior is challenged, his anxiety increases dramatically - and with it, the need to numb its sting. Anxiety is then a threat to his abstinence. Instead of learning new means to manage feelings, he has to spend energy fighting his fears. In Bush’s case, he fiercely rides his mountain bike.

Managing his anxiety is one reason presidential briefings have been so simple. USA Today reports on August 25 that Bush’s foreign policy briefings were, until very recently, presented to him with “snappy headlines” and simplistic perspectives leaving “little room for doubt or nuance.” No wonder it was so simple to invade Iraq.

Bush himself said that he doesn't do nuance. The truth is, he can't. Evading anxiety over all these years – whether with alcohol, religion, or exercise – has compromised his ability to think. Instead, Bush relies on daily routines. His bicycling routine is rigidly adhered to; but thinking—and a mechanism to facilitate it—are nonexistent.

The Financial Times of London had a headline on August 25 saying that the “US Army looks to leave Iraq” despite Bush himself saying things to the contrary. His rigidity of thought is not motivated by stubbornness, or by a fear of being wrong. It is safer for Bush to hold onto an idea that has served him in the past than to try a new one that might not work. His need for consistency leads to swift and vigorous responses to any threats that may challenge it.

Unfortunately for Bush, already in retreat in Crawford, the challenge posed by Cindy Sheehan has been too much - it pushed him to run to Idaho. He cannot bomb her, but he can unleash his minions – from Drudge to the American Legion – to attack. The Livestrong motto which made Lance Armstrong an American hero means something different to Bush – Livestrong to protect against being overwhelmed by fear and anxiety.


General Karpinski Says


JK: And Cambone and all of these people have literally taken control of the inner workings of this Administration. It's just insane that - does anybody think that Lynndie England came to Iraq with a dog collar and a dog leash, with the idea of putting one around the prisoner's neck, and having a photograph taken? They were using these photographs to get - to cut to the chase, for lack of a better expression. The plan was to use these photographs to show newly-arriving prisoners: hey, start to talk or tomorrow you're on the bottom of the pile.





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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Tra- refute this 

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A Shot Across the Bow




Employers certainly aren't having trouble finding workers. When Wal-Mart announced that it was hiring at a new store in Northern California, where the unemployment rate is close to the national average, about 11,000 people showed up to apply for 400 jobs.

Because employers don't have to raise wages to get workers, wages are lagging behind the cost of living. According to Labor Department statistics, the purchasing power of an average nonsupervisory worker's wage has fallen about 1.5 percent since the summer of 2003. And this may understate the pressure on many families: the cost of living has risen sharply for those whose work or family situation requires buying a lot of gasoline.

Some commentators dismiss concerns about gasoline prices, because those prices are still below previous peaks when you adjust for inflation. But that misses the point: Americans bought cars and made decisions about where to live when gas was $1.50 or less per gallon, and now suddenly find themselves paying $2.60 or more. That's a rude shock, which I estimate raises the typical family's expenses by more than $900 a year.

You may ask where economic growth is going, if it isn't showing up in wages. That's easy to answer: it's going to corporate profits, to rising health care costs and to a surge in the salaries and other compensation of executives. (Forbes reports that the combined compensation of the chief executives of America's 500 largest companies rose 54 percent last year.)



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evening 

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John Bolton Shits on the UN
The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging members of the United Nations to strengthen language in the 29-page document that would underscore the importance of taking tougher action against terrorism, promoting human rights and democracy, and halting the spread of the world's deadliest weapons.




Generals: We're leaving

Last week, Gen Peter Schoomaker, US army chief of staff, said his office was planning for the possibility that troop levels could be maintained until 2009. But Maj Gen Lute said such a worst-case scenario was unlikely.

“I will tell you this, as the operation officer of Centcom, if a year from now I've got to call on all those army troops that Gen Schoomaker is prepared to provide, I won't feel real good about myself,” he said. Gen George Casey, commander of allied forces in Iraq, made similar comments last month on reductions that could come by early next year but they were quickly played down by the White House.

Bush dogged on vacation by critics  

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BOISE, Idaho - When is a presidential vacation not a vacation?

When the country is at war and some members of the public are expressing vividly their disenchantment with it.

Try as he might to get away during the almost five weeks he's scheduled to be out of the White House, mostly at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, President Bush has had his August vacation shadowed by anti-war demonstrators.




WASHINGTON, Aug 24 (IPS) - While Republicans voice growing unease over U.S. President George W. Bush's vow to "stay the course" in Iraq, Democrats remain deeply divided about their position on a conflict that most of them privately describe as a major foreign policy disaster.

Despite the plunging popularity of the war -- and of Bush's approval ratings -- leading Democrats, particularly the party's brahmins in the Senate, have so far refused to countenance talk of withdrawal, preferring instead to attack the president over tactical issues rather than the war itself.

But their reticence -- no doubt inspired by their fear of being depicted as "soft on terrorism" and the memory of their disastrous Vietnam War-era splits between hawks and doves in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- is appearing increasingly untenable as the party's grassroots activists enlist in what is becoming, thanks to the mother of one fallen soldier, a serious, new anti-war movement, and as prominent Republicans themselves demonstrate a growing willingness to question the war.


Here’s Your Liberation


BAGHDAD — As Iraq's transitional National Assembly prepares to approve a new draft constitution as early as today, legal experts and some political leaders warned Wednesday that the charter's explicit endorsement of Islam could give religious hard-liners a tight grasp on a country that was once one of the Middle East's most secular.




Forty guerrillas in Baghdad launched a coordinated attack on police that included suicide bombings, killing 15 and wounding 56. It is always worrisome when you see a whole platoon of guerrillas operating openly in daylight in the capital. It appears that the guerrillas were targeting a visiting high level police commando from Samarra, but missed him.

In Samarra, guerrillas blew up the house of a police commando and executed one of his relatives. I'd guess this is the guy who was visiting Baghdad, and who was targeted there. I don't know exactly what a "police commando" is, but I suspect he is actually a member of one of the elite Interior Ministry security forces, which have recruited especially from the Badr Corps, a Shiite militia.

In Baquba, guerrillas attacked three sites and killed 8.




Bush’s cocoon

This early example of the U.S. news media building a protective cocoon around George W. Bush’s presidency is relevant again today as many Americans try to understand how Bush was able to lead the nation so deeply into a disastrous war in Iraq and why the U.S. news media has performed its watchdog duties so miserably.

The history of the mis-reported Election 2000 recount also attracted the recent attention of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. After referencing Gore’s apparent Florida victory in one column, Krugman said he was inundated by an “outraged reaction” from readers who thought they knew the history but who really had learned only a false conventional wisdom about how the recount supposedly favored Bush.

In a second column entitled “Don’t Prettify Our History,” Krugman argues that “we aren’t doing the country a favor when we present recent history in a way that makes our system look better than it is. Sometimes the public needs to hear unpleasant truths, even if those truths make them feel worse about their country. …

“Election 2000 may be receding into the past, but the Iraq war isn’t. As the truth about the origins of that war comes out, there may be a temptation, once again, to prettify the story. The American people deserve better.” [NYT, Aug. 22, 2005]

Whether Americans can expect better is an open question, however.

A strong argument even could be made that Krugman is wrong suggesting that the news media just wanted to “prettify” American history or that I was wrong in speculating that the distorted reporting on the Election 2000 recount was just a case of putting patriotism over professionalism.

A harsher interpretation is that journalists put their careers – not their love of country – ahead of their duty to tell the American people the truth. In other words, big media personalities may have understood that challenging Bush would put their big pay checks in harm’s way. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Answer Is Fear.”]

--snip--

Even though Powell’s speech was riddled with falsehoods and questionable assertions, none of the many journalists who safely positioned themselves at Powell’s feet suffered professionally for their lack of professional skepticism. Many of the same columnists are still holding down lucrative jobs on the Washington Post op-ed page or as pundits on TV talks shows.

There’s also little indication that skepticism has been ramped up to the levels that would seem justified by the long list of Bush’s discredited war rationales.

Last March, for instance, many commentators – including New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and the editorial boards of the Times and the Post – were hailing Bush’s new Iraq War rationale, that is was the instrument to advance “democratization” in the Middle East.

Just as the pundits had bought into the WMD claims in 2002-2003, they fell for Bush’s argument that the invasion of Iraq would spread democracy across the Islamic world and thus destroy Islamic extremism. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocon Amorality” or “Bush’s Neocons Unbridled.”]

Since then, as the optimism about “democratization” has receded – from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Iraq and Lebanon – the Bush administration and the pundit class have shifted rationales again, this time to a modern version of the “domino theory” – that a quick withdrawal from Iraq is unthinkable because it would undermine U.S. credibility.

Just as it was nearly impossible to find a prominent U.S. pundit who challenged Bush’s original WMD claims, there’s now a scarcity of commentators who dare to make the argument that a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq might undercut Islamic terrorism (by driving a wedge between Iraqi Sunni insurgents and outside jihadists who have come to Iraq to kill Americans). That wedge, in turn, could help stabilize Iraq, while Washington could focus on removing other root causes of Islamic anger, such as the Israel-Palestinian conflict. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Iraq & the Logic of Withdrawal.”]

Repositioned Pundits

Still, self-interest remains the driving force behind Washington punditry. So, some columnists seem to be repositioning themselves in the face of Bush’s slipping popularity, by sniping at Bush about style while continuing to support him on substance.

For instance, a Washington Post column by New Republic editor Peter Beinart chides Bush for refusing to meet with Cindy Sheehan, a mother of a soldier who died in Iraq. But Beinart, who supported the Iraq invasion, adds that Bush “is right to refuse” Sheehan’s call for a U.S. withdrawal because “it would be a disaster for national security and a betrayal of our responsibility to Iraq.” [Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2005]

David Ignatius, another Post columnist and war supporter, struck a similar theme: “Let’s look at what the president is doing right: At a time when anguished Americans are calling for a quick withdrawal from Iraq, Bush is telling them a painful truth. ‘Pulling the troops out [now] would send a terrible signal to the enemy,’ [Bush] said.” [Washington Post, Aug. 17, 2005]

Perhaps one of the most remarkable facts about the Iraq War is that despite all the errors and misjudgments, the Washington pundit class, which cheered the nation off to war, remains remarkably unchanged.

Though the Iraq War may be the most glaring example in decades of the U.S. government and the national news media letting down the American people and especially the troops sent off to fight, virtually no one responsible for this catastrophe has been punished.

While journalists have been fired for far-less serious errors, there’s been no known case of a media personality being publicly punished for buying into the Bush administration’s bogus arguments for invading Iraq. Instead, many of these same media personalities continue to lecture the American people about what needs to be done in Iraq.

But this Bush cocoon started years ago, when journalists forgot that their first duty in a democracy was to give the people the truth as fully and fairly as possible, even if some Americans didn’t want to hear it.



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All Hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster! 

Trajan here. I don't post often these days, but felt this one was worth the effort.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is, bar none, the best response I have yet come across to the silliness that is Intelligent Design.


Intelligent Design is a fraud. It is faith masquerading as science. I have no problem with believing that some deity created the universe, created the Earth, and has some role in directing evolution. Hell, I believe it myself, but that is a matter of faith, and it cannot be proven or disproven by the scientific method (if it could, it wouldn't be faith, now would it?).

I could go on, but I won't. Instead, I'll just let you read an excerpt of the outstanding open letter written to the Kansas School Board regarding the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD

I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

To read the rest of the letter, as well as responses from the Kansas School Board, check out the link above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Embolding Terrorists 

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Bush tells us that leaving Iraq now would be appeasment.

Are we actually talking about terrorists or are we talking about Iraqis who have had it with their country being occupied? Everyone who attacks us is not a terrorist. And everyone we kill is not a terrorist.

Next, are we supposed to stay in Iraq because it would "look bad" to the Iraqis? Or to the rest of the world? Or to the insuirgents? Or to the voters?

It's easy to say stay the course when you have no dog in the fight. Bush went AWOL and has nothing to lose, seeing how his twin daughters are still not enlisted.

No. Let's stay and send a message to the world that we will make the worst possible decision we can for our young soldiers only in light of the PR value.



Wake up everyone.

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Lunch 

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A Sports Writer Speaks Up

Ian O'Connor, in his USA Today column today, blisters the president for his bicycle riding escapades, and other alleged missteps, while Americans are dying in Iraq in greater numbers. He recalls a better Bush moment at the 2001 World Series, after 9/11, contrasting it with the past weeks.

Then, turning to biking with Lance Armstrong over the weekend, he writes: "The president couldn't have looked weaker, more distant, more out of touch with a nation tiring of a war its leader can't adequately define....

"Bush is a man who cares about fitness — this is good....
But nobody wants to hear about his impressive pulse rate and body-fat percentages when American boys and girls are dying overseas, and when lawmakers start throwing around the dreaded V-word — Vietnam — in the daily dialogue on Iraq.


Pentagon Puts Slogans on Gravestones

ARLINGTON, Va. - Unlike earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the slogan-like operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts.

Families of fallen soldiers and Marines are being told they have the option to have the government-furnished headstones engraved with "Operation Enduring Freedom" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" at no extra charge, whether they are buried in Arlington or elsewhere. A mock-up shown to many families includes the operation names.

The vast majority of military gravestones from other eras are inscribed with just the basic, required information: name, rank, military branch, date of death and, if applicable, the war and foreign country in which the person served.


Here’s What We Fought For

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."




Bush Fuel Economy Plan Stuck in Neutral
Administration fails to relieve pain at the pump


WASHINGTON, August 23—The Bush administration today proposed a minuscule change in fuel economy standards that would do virtually nothing to reduce our dependence on oil or to address high fuel costs. The proposed standards would not even compensate for the oil lost through fuel economy loopholes in the president’s recent energy bill. More troubling, the plan creates additional leaks in the nation’s primary oil security program with a new structure based on vehicle size that sets up the potential for automakers to upsize their trucks to take advantage of weaker standards.


FUBAR

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, the military said it has arrested more than 40,000 people. The population today at the three U.S.-run prisons -- Bucca, Abu Ghraib and Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport, where former President Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants are being held -- is 10,600, double the number of a year ago. The average incarceration at Bucca is a year. The military attributes the surge in detentions to an increase in combat operations and the inability of the nascent Iraqi justice system to handle the crushing caseload.


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The Deafening Silence of the Christians. 

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You have to ask yourself what could a clearly recognized national Christian leader mean by calling for the assassination of a democratically elected president of a sovereign nation. You know, in my household, when Dad began beating someone, we just all jumped on him. It didn’t always work, but at least he knew this was not kosher.

Is this proclamation OK with everyone? No? Then where is the dissent amongst Christians? Where are they? Where is the Pope on this?

In my mind I see the following passion skit as a play in one act that summarizes the blood thirsty Christian Right.

This play is called The Theological Restaurant.


Two Black Suburbans with Texas plates pull into the parking lot of The Theological Restaurant. Two White Christian Lobbyists come in and sit doen. A waitress come sup to them.

Waitress: “Hey Friends. Can I take your order?”

Christians: “Yeah, we’d like the Eye For An Eye Special.”

Waitress: “ We have a lovely Thou Shalt Not Kill Sandwich”.

Christians: “Naw. The Eye For An Eye…”

Waitress: “The managers make us tell you all the Specials.”

The Christians grin and bear it.

Waitress: “We have a lovely Thou Shalt Beat Thy Swords Into Ploughshares and Thou Shalt Make War No War.”

The Christians shake their heads.

Waitress: “We have a Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself.”

Christians: “Eye For An Eye, Please.”

Waitress: “Sure thing.”

The Waitress scratches the order onto her pad and walks off.

Christians: “ Oh yeah, do you have any Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Homosexual To Live?”

She shakes here head ‘yes’.

Christians: “ Two of those, please.”



OK, here’s the point. The Bible is not a menu. You can’t just decide it’s OK to kill people. I mean, where is the outrage amongst Christians? Who will speak out from the other side? This is beyond the pale.

Come on Christians, let us hear that Joyous Noise.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

lunch 

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This is the “Democracy” We’ve Created

The political system is republican, parliamentary, democratic and federal.

1. Islam is a main source for legislation.

-- a. No law may contradict Islamic standards.






Meeting briefly with reporters Monday aboard Air Force One, Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman subbing for Scott McClellan, said that President Bush believes that those who want the U.S. to begin to change course in Iraq do not want America to win the overall "war on terror."





Woops!.....No WMDs here

"The biggest smoking gun that everyone was waving is now eliminated with these conclusions," said a senior official who discussed the still-confidential findings on the condition of anonymity.




Yesterday, Reverend Pat Robertson, the influential American religious leader and former presidential candidate, said that the United States should kill President Chavez for spreading “communism.”
Yes. Our ultimate Christian said that we should kill the man dead.



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Mo 

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High Gas Prices Hurt Schools


Iraq Oil Power Shut (Insert Ironic Quip Here)

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Morning 

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(No W, you're not that great)

Iraq Just Like WWI and WWII. Yeah, just like ‘em. In other News, I am Betty Crocker

President Bush compared the fight against terrorism to both world wars and other great conflicts of the 20th century as he tried to reassure an increasingly skeptical public on Monday to support U.S. military involvement in Iraq.


Pat Robertson Calls For Assassination

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming ''a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.''

''We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,'' Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's ''The 700 Club.''

''We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,'' he continued. ''It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.''



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Monday, August 22, 2005

The Squawk of a Chickenhawk 

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Posted by James Wolcott

Senator Chuck Hagel has never been high on NRO's The Corner's Hit Parade of favorite Republicans. While it's true that he lacks the stature and intellectual rigor of a Rick Santorum or WFB's hunky heart-throb Bill Simon, it does seem a trace unfair to call him the Senator from France, as some Cornerites have done in the past, and hint that his loyalities lie other than in the land we all love.

His patriotic steadfastness was questioned yet again after his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, where he made the dread comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, and brought Michael Ledeen out of his badger hole.

"RE: HAGEL [Michael Ledeen]
Senator Hagel has certainly earned the Jimmy Carter Appeasement Award for 2005. As I've noted before, the man has never met a tyrant he didn't want to negotiate with. Maybe he should run for president with Jesse Jackson as his mate.
Posted at 11:31 PM"

Let's review, shall we?

Chuck Hagel, two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his Vietnam War service.

Jimmy Carter, seven years in the Navy, including serving under Admiral Rickover in the development of the nuclear submarine program.

Michael Ledeen? Let's just say he won't be regaling them at the VFW lodge anytime soon. Indeed, the closest he's come to combat has been listening to Roger L. Simon's Hollywood war stories from his heroic screenwriting days.

Memo to Ledeen: There's a stature gap between you and Hagel/Carter that puts you in the pygmy shade.

Moreover, accusing anyone at this point of "appeasement" is just so dated, so played-out, so 2002. And dragging the puffy, irrelevant Jesse Jackson into your insult train--truly, truly stale.

The appeasement slur won't work anymore, nor will invocations of Neville Chamberlain and quislings. Give it up, pack it in, put it away.

Two years ago, Ledeen sneered about Hagel's "wimpery" about Iraq (a sneer I'd wager Ledeen wouldn't dare be man enough to repeat to Hagel's face), but it's Hagel who's been vindicated. The fact is that Ledeen and his neocons got the war they wanted, it was waged according to their blueprints, and it's their fuck-up, their moral responsibility, their historical bloodstain, their arrogant, ignorant, blundering, inexcusable mess. It says something about Ledeen's depraved indifference toward the consequences of his own lobbying efforts that he still thinks at this late date that he can get away with being droll.



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more kvetching 

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The “Nuh Uh" Administration

I just can’t help marvel at the ability of the press to get bogged down in detail. If you want to rate Bush on antiterrorism, the case is simple. Since he became president, there have been two major terrorist attacks on the US.
The first one, the one everyone keeps talking about, happened on September 11, 2001. The mastermind was head of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. No one disputes this. Yet here we are, almost 4 years later, and Osama is still out there, heading Al Qaeda, and has masterminded several worldwide terrorist attacks. I’d say that pretty much makes Bush a failure on that count. But this is the “nuh uh” administration. Faced with this simple fact and being accused of failure, they just say, “Nuh uh! Osama isn’t really that important and we’ve hamstrung Al Qaeda so that they aren’t as effective.” Tell that to the London subway victims.

The other terrorist attack, the one no one talks about anymore, is the anthrax attack. Someone out there has apparently committed the perfect crime. As far as the press and Bush administration are concerned, it’s the attack that never happened. But once again, the bottom line is that the perpetrator of the “other” terrorist act is still out there and still capable of similar acts.

The simple, incontrovertible fact is this: in the only score that counts, it’s Terrorists – 2, Bush – 0.




The Defening Silence From Christians


• We now know this president had contemplated the benefits of being a “war president” even prior to his election and that he and members of his administration were moving toward war with Iraq from even before 9/11.
• In spite of the evidence, they continue to claim there was a link between 9/11 and Iraq.
• We now know the intelligence regarding Iraqi WMDs was wrong and that this should have been known at the time.
• 15,000 plus American and coalition soldiers have been killed or maimed, and latest estimates put the loss of Iraqi non-combatants at over 100,000.
• With the recent agreement to an Iraqi Islamic state (think about that), the final pretense for the war (spreading democracy) has slipped away.
• They used the popularity gained by “wartime administrations” to push through massive tax cuts that have disproportionately benefitted the well-to-do.
• They have shredded the social safety net which has provided a minimal level of support for the most vulnerable members of our society.
• Military spending has eaten so many resources desperately needed for schools, highways, etc.
• They have overseen the rise of budget and trade deficits that are unsustainable.
• They have supported so-called “Clean Water” and “Clean Skies” legislation that increases pollutants,
• They have repeatedly misused scientific data for partisan benefit.
• They have operated with an unprecedented level of secrecy.
• Notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, it is now pretty clear that the Bush team (specifically, Karl Rove) outed Valerie Plame in attempt to discredit Joe Wilson though there has been no serious challenge to the substance of his report.
• The president has refused to honor his commitment to dismiss the leaker once found.
• The environment has been repeatedly sacrificed to corporate interests.
• The debate on global warming–both as to its reality and the basic underlying causes–is over... Well, for everyone but this administration and some of its supporters.
• This administration has led the push to open the Arctic reserve for oil drilling–frequently, with the very dishonest arguments...
• The president opted for unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto protocols aimed at improving green house gas emissions.
• This administration has continually underplayed the extent to which it has empowered torture and detainee abuse.
• They have unilaterally withdrawn from treaties aimed at curtailing nuclear proliferation and have put the use of nuclear weapons back on the table.
• This president’s policy of “pre-emptive war,” surely unwise, simply does not meet just war criteria (the basis Christians use to determine whether a given war is just).
• Unilateralism has led to remarkable deterioration in international good will.
• The recently signed energy bill, as admitted by even its supporters, does nothing to provide solutions to our long term energy needs, though it does benefit already highly profitable oil companies.
• At the core of all these concerns are fundamental issues of character. For example, this president has exhibited nothing of that virtue we claim to prize so highly: humility.


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lunch 

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Oy

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 21 -- Four U.S. soldiers were killed and three were injured Sunday when an improvised explosive device ripped through a convoy of armored Humvees driving in a remote area of southern Afghanistan, marking the deadliest attack against U.S. forces in the past two months, U.S. military officials said.

Canadian warships were sailing towards the Arctic yesterday in the latest act of gunboat diplomacy over control of the frozen wastes there.

Ottawa has launched a series of Arctic sovereignty patrols to assert its territorial claims and fend off rivals, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.

Canadians Try Bush Diplomacy


Christ is coming…like it or not


The true underlying agenda of Justice Sunday II was undisguised in the rousing speech given by Bishop Harry Jackson. "We need to tell both parties, 'It's our way or the highway,'" Jackson told the cheering crowd. "You and I can bring the ruling reign of the cross to America."

Bob Costas Refused To Cover Holloway Story On CNN- at they Fox News scratch their heads


Bob Costas was scheduled to do an hour on Natalee Holloway story while filling in for Larry King but he told producers that he would rather deal with another topic. CNN chose Holloway over Costas. Today on Fox and Friends the group took some subtle but clear jabs at Costas for his decision.



We are fighting for an Islamic Republic

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snack 

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The Sole Republican Realist



"Stay the course is not a policy.... And so I think by any standard when you analyze two and a half years in Iraq where we have put in over a third of a trillion dollars, where we have lost over 1,900 Americans, over 14,000 wounded, electricity production down, oil production down... any measurement, any standard you apply to this, we're not winning.... The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have."




All of this spending will need to be financed by adding to the federal debt. Extra interest payments will total $200 billion or more even if the borrowing is repaid quickly. Conflict in the Middle East has also played a part in doubling the price of oil from $30 a barrel just prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to $60 a barrel today. Each $5 increase in the price of oil reduces our national income by about $17 billion a year.

Even by this simple yardstick, if the American military presence in the region lasts another five years, the total outlay for the war could stretch to more than $1.3 trillion, or $11,300 for every household in the United States.



Bush’s Other Invasion


A central component of the Bush economic agenda is foreign corporate access to, and privatization of, Iraq's once state-run economy. Thus, an early Bremer order allowed foreign investment in and the privatization of all 192 government-owned industries (excluding oil extraction).




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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sabbath 

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Anti- USA sentiments growing in Australian Academia



There is a big difference between being patriotic and being un-American. Cowards. Poligamous cowards.

SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah television station is refusing to air an anti-war ad featuring Cindy Sheehan, whose son’s death in Iraq prompted a vigil outside President Bush’s Texas ranch.






1st Cav soldier discusses "the real deal" in Iraq and calls for an end to the occupation

Heavily Excerpted. Go to Kos everyday


by Sharon Jumper [Subscribe]


This was just posted on the website of Veterans against the Iraq War, www.vaiw.org (Please forgive the wholesale cut and paste I'm about to do, but this soldier deserves to have his words disseminated as widely as possible).

My Experience In Baghdad 2004-2005
"A Baghdad MP shares his experiences in Iraq and his thoughts about the Iraq War."
By Bill
August 7, 2005

Hello, my name is Bill. I'm 24 years old and live in NJ. I fought in Sadr City, Baghdad Iraq from Feb. 2004 to Feb. 2005. I served in C. Co 759th MP Bn 89th MP Brigade. I still wholeheartedly support the decision to remove Saddam from power, however I am completely against the continued occupation of Iraq.


--snip—


I can definetly say nothing in suburban America ever EVER prepared me for anything I saw over there. Besides the actual combat, the simple fact that instead of just watching one of those UNICEF commercials with the babies with flies all over them, I was actually in one.

I can't tell you how dirty and malnourished the small children were. Begging for food and eating whatever we threw out of our MRE's. I'll never forget this girl probably like 8 years old came up to me with probably a 2 month old asking me to help the baby because it had some sort of nasty looking scabby rash. I told here I didn't have anything. It's not like I was a medic or like we even had one with us, but she was so insistent and so upset, and the baby was just motionless, flies all over her face. It was probably the most heartwrenching thing I ever saw over there. So just to make here feel better I gave her some alchohol pads, just so she thought she had something. When i went back to base I hit the medics for some sort of antibacterial cream which they gave me, but I never ended up going back to that area.

There was also this family of 3 girls that lived next to a police station, which their father happened to work at. All the guys in my unit would give them candy when they stopped by on their way home from school. We knew these kids for like 3 months. Then we left and about 2 weeks later a car bomb blew up their father when he was at a checkpoint. A mother and 3 girls dont have much to look forward to in Iraq when they are alone. That bothered me and the guys alot.

It just amazes me now that I'm home that for the most part (except families affected by the war), people don't even pay attention to it anymore. It's like we come home get a pat on the back and a smile and then poof, that's it. You're just supposed to get on with your life.

I just don't understand America anymore. People spending $100 on shoes, that's what the average Iraqi makes a month. People worrying about stupid stuff like their clothes or cars. They need to see a woman throw out a chamber pot into the street at 6am and then 2 hours later her kids are playing in it naked. Or for example the inordinate amount of birth defects I saw in Sadr City. I have never seen more physical deformities, not even on television in my entire life, than I saw in Iraq. There were people with chicken wing arms, people that were basically just a torso and a head. It amazed me.

I dont know, America just isn't what I wanted to come home to.

--snip—

It was an odd thing because when someone shoots at you for the first time you can't really believe that you just go "Oh Sh*t!!" and return fire. My first firefight consisted of roughly 15 other MP's at a police station in Sadr City under seige by approximately 50 Iraqis of Muqtada Al Sadr Mahdi army milita. It lasted 3 hours and was ended by the arrival of bradleys from the 1st Cav division. During the course of the firefight, I killed a man shooting at me from an apartment window with an AK47, and 3 other of my friends saw that they had hit and killed people, although with all the rounds we expended, between regular 5.56, .50 cal and MK19 grenades, I'm sure the Iraqi toll was much higher.

Our only casualty was one of the gunners in a humvee was shot in the arm. We had 11 RPG's shot at us and 3 mortars, none really came to close. The Iraqi police we were protecting (the ones that didn't leave minutes before the firefight, thus obviously knowing something was up) refused to go out and fight. That was my first glimpse of how ruined Iraq was.

For the next 3 months other platoons had firefights. We were mortared almost every night, and had suffered some wounded through IED attacks. That all changed in June when we were at the same police station I had previously been in a firefight at. Roughly 2 hours after we arrived all hell broke loose. I was driving an ASV when a RPG exploded on the passenger side window horribly wounding my friend in the passenger seat. In addition to the vehicle being on fire, he was unconcious with blood pouring from his face from the shrapnel he recieved (I later found out his left lung was deflated from shrapnel going through it, and he had a broken collar bone.) My gunner was hit in the rear by shrapnel. I miraculously wasn't injured at all, even though it exploded only 6 inches to the right of my head.

After what seemed like 15 minutes (I was later told it was nearly instant) I reversed the vehicle back to our perimeter, My gunner jumped out the side hatch and ran to our lines. I popped out the top hatch and yelled for a medic and then dragged my friend out of the still burning vehicle and started administering first aid into what I then realized was a raging firefight. The medics arrived soon after I got my friend out and bandaged him up all around his head and evac'd him.

I then stayed there for another 16 hours getting shot at. During the course of the firefight 20 MP's were attacked by over100 Mahdi army soldiers. More RPGs were fired than I could count. One of my friends who was previously wounded in an IED attack was hit by shrapnel when an RPG exploded on the side of his Hummvee. Another soldier was shot in the foot.

We were basically leveling buildings shooting back. One store exploded when the propane in side caught fire. I killed 3 people during that fire fight. 2 men with an RPG with a M203 grenade and a little girl that was in the area of the blast. Because whenever the Iraqis attacked, they made sure they had plenty of women and children around them in order to discourage us from firing back. I could care less about the men I killed, but I almost daily think about the girl. I received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor device for my actions that day, although I could care less. ( I found out I did not receive the bronze star because I was only an E-4 Specialist)

2 of our men were killed transporting supplies to us by an IED on the 2nd day of the battle and another 2 were killed the 3rd day (by which time I was relieved and back on base). The total of that firefight was 4 dead, 12 wounded from my company. It really struck me during the firefight though was when 2 apaches were circling overhead and left. I later found out that they couldnt receive permission to fire because it would cause too many civilian casualties.

For the most part the Iraqi's are glad america is there, but they are the silent majority. They are too scared that if they speak out for us they would be kidnapped or murdered. One Iraqi asked me why America doesn't build schools or donate cars like the Japanese did. I told him it's because every time we try to build something either the workers get scared and don't show up because they are working for Americans and scared of retribution or because it is constantly attacked by one of the various militias.

I was never once in my entire year in iraq, attacked by Saddam loyalists or Al Qaeda, I was attacked by shiite milita that was sick of the American military bullying its way through traffic, never delivering on any promises it said it would keep, and just generally sick of a foreign military presence. Yes they were also religious extremists, but most were just disillusioned with America's presence.

Just imagine if George W. was a dictator and all of a sudden Canada invaded. We would be happy at first, but after almost 2 years of them still hanging around and nothing getting done, I'm fairly certain we would rise up against them too.

Another thing is that Iraq has been ruled by a dictatorship for basically its entire history, from Hammurabi to King Faisal to Saddam Hussein. All they know is ruling by fear, that is why either someone in the the new government is going to become another Saddam only with US backing, or some Iraqi General will stage a coup. It will take at least 2 generations for any sort of democracy to come to iraq, and it won't help when they direct all their energy into killing Americans.

I'm glad we ousted Saddam, but we should not still be in Iraq. I, to this day, have no clue why I fought over there, have no clue what I fought for, and am upset because my friends were maimed and killed for nothing.

=======

The one of the biggest problems I deal with is the fact that even though we fought a three day battle to secure an IP station and we won. We abandoned it the next day and within a week the Mahdi army bullied all the Iraqi police out of it, placed demo charges and blew it up. And our leadership didn't even bat an eye. Can't figure out why we would fight so hard for something that had 4 guys killed and 12 wounded just so we can let it get blown up.

And it happened all the time, we'd go somewhere, hang out long enough for stuff to quiet down, move on and then the place we left would be just the same as before we showed up. I think the only people that had any sort of morale were the officers and higher NCO's (E-8 and up) that didn't have to go out and face the possiblity of getting blown up every day. We had guys breaking down left and right and had to go see psychiatrists because they couldn't deal with being out in the city for 7 days straight in a shot with 12 hours up and 4 hours down. Towards the end of our deployment if we didn't go home in about another month or two there would have been a rebellion.

I tried to explain it to people at work and they pretty much nod and say well that sucked and then when i showed them pictures of what was done over there and then they realize its not just some little 3 minute spot on the nightly news.

That's another thing that I think most americans dont understand, when you hear about a bombing or attack in Iraq on the news, there are about 20 other bombings or firefights that you don't hear about. I would call or email home about a carbombing or shooting to see if they heard anything about it on the news and until our 4 guys were killed the answer was always no. So it astounds me as to how little information really filters down to the american people. There is sometimes days that go by now that I'm home that I wont hear anything about Iraq, and I can promise you something happens every day. My camp was mortared so frequently during one week it was as if we were underseige, like 20 mortars a day for 5 days straight, and when your camp is only about 1square mile those booms sound awfullly close.

And you never hear about how many Iraqi civilians are killed just because they work for Americans and are trying to provide for their families. We had a restaurant on our FOB run by haji's that we used to go to whenever we were either sick of the chow hall food or if we came in too late to get dinner. One night a bunch of us went there to get dinner and we ordered french fries. The guy that took the order, who was also the owner said he didnt have any french fries, so we started ribbing him about how we could give some kid that lives under a bridge $2 to get us fries but yet here he is with a restaurant without a fairly basic item, so after about 2 minutes of busting this guy a little he gets red and says, " I will tell you why we have no fries, man that delivers fries was killed because he works with americans". When he said that it just floored us. We couldnt imagine some one who delivers french fries would be killed just because he delivers food to a guy that works for americans.

We had interpretors' relatives killed, let alone interpretors themselves for working with us. Our interpretor whom i still talk to through email on occasion (badly wants to come to the US) only told his immediate family who he works for, his neighbors all think that he does construction work.

Whatever you do, don't take what you have here for granted.

I heavily excerpted this because I think it is very important to realistically face what our soldiers are seeing. Then, when we can look it in the eyes and call it what it is, we can to fix it.



Steve Gilliard Slam Dunks The Chickenhawks



A letter to a young Republican




The problem with young Republicans is that they reduce matters of life and death into policy debates.

When challenged on their enlistment status, many Young Republicans cite the service of others, or how they're fighting liberals and for lower taxes.

It is not the same.

It isn't even close to the same.

Walking point in Ramadi is not the same as writing a policy paper at the Heritage Foundation.

What you need to be told, repeatedly is that it is disrespectful in the extreme to compare such work to serving in combat. It trivializes and demeans those who risk their lives daily in Iraq.

Claiming you support the military while demeaning their service with your facile comparisons indicate the opposite.

Thomas Paine supported the Revolution with a rifle as an infantryman.

He didn't support it from Starbucks over a nasty blog post.

If a cause isn't worth serving, what is it worth? Cheap words?

You demand sacrifice from everyone but yourself. So why should we take you seriously. I can play Risk as well. I just don't ask people to die for me in the process.

When the left wanted to save the Spanish Republic, they fought in Spain.

When they wanted to stop Hitler, they joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army. They didn't publish nasty articles in PM. They risked and some lost, their lives.

Why? Because they felt freedom was more important than anything else in their lives.

What did the right do? Praise Hitler and ignore his crimes.

We know you are blowhards, cowards, who expect others to do what you want done.

But don't compare your selfish lives with military service unless you wear Kevlar to work and dodge mortars off the highway. We have sent our men and women into harms way with less than what they need. Even men.

Oh, you can spout your twaddle all you want, to whomever you want, you have that right.

But don't pretend you support the military. You don't. You just support the war. The military is besides the point to you. Not to their families, but to you. So save the lectures on patriotism and who wants us to lose the war. You do. You aren't serving. Neither in the military or the interest of this country. Just in your sad, febrile fantasy world of dead brown people and Marines slaying dragons.







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Friday, August 19, 2005

Midnight Snack 

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Cause….

Club Footed Threatening Rhetoric



…Effect

Russia and China join forces to challenge US dominance




WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned this week that China must make significant structural changes in its economic policies, lest it remain "a problem for the international economy."

In an interview on Wednesday, Ms. Rice also laid out the administration's concerns about China's military buildup, its human rights record and its restrictions on religious freedom. Her unusually sharp criticism was a clear indication of the administration's ambivalence and frustration with China, even as officials prepare for a state visit next month by the president of China, Hu Jintao, his first visit since taking office in 2003. In her speeches and news conferences, Ms. Rice usually maintains a positive tone about China. She often says relations with the government in Beijing "are at their best ever."


Our Barney Fife State Department


BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Aug. 18 - Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.

The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions.

To the Bush administration, the aid cuts are the price paid for refusing to offer support in an area where it views the United States, with its military might stretched across the globe, as being uniquely vulnerable.

But particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to 12 nations that have been penalized, the cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy, officials and diplomats in seven countries said.

--snip—

"We now risk losing contact and interoperability with a generation of military classmates in many nations of the region, including several leading countries," General Craddock told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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"Get Out!!!" 

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Afghan Insurgency Rebounding


Cheney Says US “Will Not Relent” Of Course Cheney Relented With 5 Deferments

Vice President Cheney declared yesterday that the United States "will not relent" in the war in Iraq and will hunt down insurgents there "one at a time if necessary," implicitly rebutting escalating pressure on the Bush administration to bring U.S. troops home.


Conservative Says get out of Iraq

RALEIGH, N.C. - Congressman Walter Jones said Thursday he has about 50 co-sponsors on a joint resolution that calls on President Bush to announce by year's end a plan for withdrawal from Iraq.


Hagel Is Adamant. Get Out Of iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska on Thursday said the United States is "getting more and more bogged down" in Iraq and stood by his comments that the White House is disconnected from reality and losing the war.


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