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Friday, September 30, 2005

Nooner 

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Dems Need To Wake Up re: Iraq


Mindful of the American public’s sharply declining enthusiasm for squandering more blood and treasure on his failed Iraq enterprise, President Bush is once again adopting his administration’s preferred prophylactic strategy for spinning the slow moving disaster. Thus, his warning on Wednesday that insurgent violence will increase ahead of next month’s constitutional referendum. Just as he warned that it would increase before the handover of sovereignty to Iyad Allawi last year, and also in the runup to January’s election. Perfectly true, of course, but that’s not the point: The purpose behind the spin is, firstly, to convey a message to the American public that although the situation looks out of control, it is, in fact, evolving according to expectation.




Oh what a difference a hurricane makes.
Katrina exposed something we couldn't know before: Bush's claim that he would keep us safer than that wishy-washy senator from squishy Massachusetts is false. Not only are we not safer than we were before Bush took office, we're worse off.


The Crumbling Presidency

Cent Says  

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(From Huffington Posts)

Everyone is wrong -- from the arrogant neo-clowns who brought you this war to the mindless bureaucrats who maintain it to the well-intentioned intellectuals that are grasping for a decent and humane way out. Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Iraq back together again.

Whether people want to leave or stay, the assumption is that they have what is best for Iraq in mind.
But there is no Iraq.

Today General Casey and General Abizaid admitted in the United States Senate that after two and a half years, they have only been able to train one Iraqi battalion. One! You could blame this on the incompetence of the Pentagon or the administration – and one is tempted to because that is usually the correct answer these days – but there is a better explanation. The Iraqis have no allegiance to their central government. They do not wish to serve in its army or to die for its goals.

That is because the West misunderstands the local culture of Iraq. An Iraqi Sunni is a thousand times more loyal to his fellow Sunnis than to some theoretical Iraqi government. The same is true of Shiites and even more true of Kurds. They don’t care about Iraq – we do.

The Iraqis are perfectly capable of fighting with passion and effectiveness. Just look at the insurgency – those are Iraqi fighters (at least 90% according to the various Pentagon sources). Look at the Kurdish peshmarga militia that maintains order in the north. Look at the Badr brigades and the Mahdi army of the Shiites in the south. All of these forces are perfectly capable and willing to fight – just not for the Iraqi army.

They are ready to fight for their sects. The only thing keeping them together in the short run is the US occupation. But the US occupation won’t last forever and can only keep a lid on sectarian ambitions for so long. At some point, the levees will be breached.

The Sunnis have already rejected the constitution and the Shiites don’t appear to be overly concerned about their lack of approval. It is wishful thinking bordering on fantasy to think that these different sects will get back together and live peacefully ever after. Eventually, the Shiites will have just as much trouble controlling the Sunni areas as we do. Their occupation will not be any more effective than ours. The Kurds will drive the Arabs from Kirkuk, and the separation will be complete.

There is no Iraq. It does not exist in the minds and souls of the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. There will be three different countries in the place we call Iraq, whether we like it or not.

Now, the question isn’t whether our troops stay or withdraw. Neither action would help towards a long term solution because we are headed the wrong way. If we stayed a thousand years, we couldn’t keep Iraq together. If we left now, there would be instant, horrific bloodshed. Neither accomplishes anything.

What we should be doing is working towards a realistic goal – a relatively peaceful transition towards three different countries in the area. We might not be able to keep these people together but we could probably help them to separate.


Of course, there are tremendous downsides to this solution. Allies like Turkey will be enraged, the Sunnis will rebel (so, what’s new) because they will be left without oil, there will be displacements and small massacres. Believe it or not, that is now the best case scenario. If you don’t believe me now, you will believe me many years from now after thousands more have perished trying to do the undoable. And then we’ll go through the painful transition I’m referring to anyway, because it is inevitable.

Of course, the real downside to this solution that is going to prevent us from doing what is necessary has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with American politics. If we say now that we should split up the country, we will look like we made a mistake by going in the first place. It will be a major admission that we were wrong in thinking we could keep the country together. Our politicians would lose face. And that is the one price they are not willing to bear.

That is why we must make them bear it. The longer they protect their pride, the longer we keep on dying. All the while, going the wrong way.

As any sports player or fan knows, if your team’s heart is not into it, you will lose the game. Right now, the Iraqi army – all one battalion of it – doesn’t have its heart into it. They keep running from fights and battles because it is not their battles. Nor is it ours.

Let’s start fighting a fight we can win. Let’s create countries that people care about and are willing to protect not only through violence, but also through peace. The Sunnis might not care about keeping Basra or Mosul safe because they are Shiite and Kurdish towns, but they will care about bringing peace to Ramadi and Tikrit once they have ownership of them. Let’s give them a reason to care.

This war is a disaster of epic proportions. Iraq presented no threat to the United States before the invasion, now it presents a tremendous threat. There was almost no al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the war, now there is a tremendous presence. Iran was in a position of weakness before the war, and now it has a powerful new ally in Shiite led Iraq. Terrorism is on the rise. Osama bin Laden has been left alone to pursue his new attacks. There is instability in the Middle East. And this administration has absolutely no idea how to make it better.

George Bush still talks about freedom and democracy, as if they have relevance in the complicated sectarian strife in Iraq. Whose freedom, George? Whose democracy? It doesn’t feel like freedom to the Sunnis when they have been squeezed out of the Shiite and Kurdish controlled Iraqi government. That’s why they are fighting us – not because they hate their freedom but because they want it back.

In this quagmire full of nuance we have a president who is proud that he “doesn’t do nuance.” We’re in a lot of trouble. Our president is overmatched. Not by the Iraqis, but by the gravity of his office. The man is a simpleton in complicated times.

Our only recourse is to elect a completely new Congress that will force him in the direction of reality. The people who voted for this war and brought you this debacle are not going to be the ones who bring you out. We need new direction here at home so that we can have a new direction in Iraq, or what’s left of it.


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Must Read 

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( a response to Peggy Noonan warning Democrats not to play with matches)


Your party has set aflame the entire political landscape, and now, once burned, you warn sternly from the branches of a burnt-out tree about "playing with fire". You used the ashes of one of the great liberal cities of America, New York City, as war paint for your own sick, racist dreams. You shudder at a burning flag, yet are willing to snip-and-cut basic tenets of the Constitution as needed or convenient.

And now, you're outraged, not by any of the rest of it, not by anything that has come before, but because a few prominent Republican faces have -- shock of shocks -- been indicted in probes that have spanned years of investigation, and interrogation, and deposition. That, you say, represents the underpinnings of a civil war.

You poor, hollow, blood-painted clowns. Cheering the trials and failures of your country with the same pennants and giant foam hands that you wave at your favorite sports teams. Willing to accept the most outrageous of lies, if they are spoken from your favorite talking heads, and soothe your own notions of America for you, and only for you.

And as for the audacity of Democrats speaking up during this process... the redfaced, flatulent fury with which you declare Republicans off-limits to that which you so gleefully hurl yourself...

Welcome to the world of the politics of personal destruction, you tubthumping, chin-jutting, Bush humping gits. Welcome to the nasty and partisan world that Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, and a legion of insignificant lowest-rung toadies like yourselves nurtured into fruition daily with eager, grubby hands, and now look upon with dull-faced faux horror.


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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Pentagon out of Control 

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Republicans See Signs That Pentagon Is Evading Oversight
By DOUGLAS JEHL


WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 - Republican members of Congress say there are signs that the Defense Department may be carrying out new intelligence activities through programs intended to escape oversight from Congress and the new director of national intelligence.

The warnings are an unusually public signal of some Republican lawmakers' concern about overreaching by the Pentagon, where top officials have been jockeying with the new intelligence chief, John D. Negroponte, for primacy in intelligence operations. The lawmakers said they believed that some intelligence activities, involving possible propaganda efforts and highly technological initiatives, might be masked as so-called special access programs, the details of which are highly classified.

"We see indications that the D.O.D. is trying to create parallel functions to what is going on in intelligence, but is calling it something else," Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview.

Mr. Hoekstra said he believed that the purpose might be to obscure the extent of Pentagon intelligence activities and to keep them outside Mr. Negroponte's designated orbit.

Even under the new structure headed by Mr. Negroponte, the Pentagon's activities are widely understood to make up about 80 percent of an annual intelligence budget whose details remain classified but that is widely understood to total about $80 billion a year. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Pentagon is understood to have carried out a major expansion of its intelligence programs, including human spying efforts by Special Operations Forces and an arm of the Defense Intelligence Agency, whose missions have expanded into areas traditionally the purview of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been pressing Stephen Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence, for more information about the Pentagon's human spying. But the concerns now being voiced by Mr. Hoekstra and others appear to extend more broadly.

In the interview, Mr. Hoekstra declined to be specific, citing concerns about classification and the general sensitivity of the issue. But as an indication of the committee's sentiments, another Republican lawmaker cited an unclassified report issued by the committee in June, which said the panel believed that "it does not have full visibility over some defense intelligence programs" that do not clearly fall under particular budget categories.

The report said the committee believed that "individual services may have intelligence or intelligence-related programs such as science and technology projects or information operations programs related to defense intelligence that are embedded in other service budget line items, precluding sufficient visibility for program oversight."

"Information operations" is a military term used to describe activities including electronic warfare, psychological operations and counterpropaganda initiatives.

A version of the intelligence authorization bill that was passed by the House this summer calls on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in consultation with Mr. Negroponte, to provide Congress with "a comprehensive inventory of Department of Defense intelligence and intelligence-related programs and projects." Those who would receive such a report would include the House Intelligence Committee, its Senate counterpart and the armed services committees in both chambers of Congress.

As part of the intelligence overhaul that Congress ordered last year, Mr. Negroponte, as director of national intelligence, is supposed to oversee 15 intelligence agencies whose activities fall under a budget category known as the National Intelligence Program. Mr. Negroponte has less authority over programs that fall under another category, the Military Intelligence Program, which are intended to provide tactical and strategic support to military commanders.

But the concern expressed by Mr. Hoekstra and others is focused on a third category of programs involving intelligence activity but not labeled as such, and included within the budgets of the individual military services.

"Greater transparency into these programs and projects will enhance Congressional oversight and permit identification of potentially duplicative programs in other services," the committee said in its recent report, issued in June to accompany the intelligence authorization act for the fiscal year 2006.

In the interview, Mr. Hoekstra said the committee had been told that the Pentagon was creating parallel structures "so they don't have to deal with the D.N.I.," the abbreviation for the new intelligence chief.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Conway, declined to comment on the issue, referring questions to Mr. Negroponte's office. A spokesman for Mr. Negroponte, Carl Kropf, described coordination between Mr. Negroponte's office and the Pentagon as "excellent" on budget issues.

"Successfully integrating D.O.D.-unique intelligence programs and missions into the National Intelligence Program requires full transparency," Mr. Kropf said. "Such transparency exists today."


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lunch 

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If This Is Integrity

Delay, Frist, Abramoff, Safavian... Wasn't this the crowd that was going to "restore honor and integrity" to Washington? If this is what integrity looks like, let's bring back Oval Office blow jobs.


Karen Hughes Gets An EarFul


WASHINGTON -- As Karen Hughes works to repair the United States' image in a trip overseas, her State Department colleagues have received a report underscoring how tough a task she faces.

Based on their own travels to the Persian Gulf, Egypt and Britain, a nine-member advisory committee headed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff found widespread hostility toward the United States and its policies, especially the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

"For what can be heard around the world, in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the controversy over the handling of detainees at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, is that America is less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered," the report said.

"This assertion, repeated in newspaper columns, on radio and television broadcasts, and via the Internet, diminishes our ability to champion freedom, democracy and individual dignity," said the report by the Advisory Committee on Public Diplomacy.


Helping Osama


With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists, is the author of "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," and recently briefed the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center. "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."


This is why they hate us


LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq, including increasing detention and accidental shootings of journalists, is preventing full coverage of the war reaching the American public, Reuters said on Wednesday.

In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate. The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday.

Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq."



PR does not counter torture

We've been treated to the spectacle of a Republican-controlled House and Senate abdicating their constitutional responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of actions and failings of the executive branch of government. This has gone on for the four-plus years that George W. Bush has occupied the White House, and it looks as if we'll get more of the same for three more years and a bit.

There have been 17 separate investigations of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other prisoner abuse scandals. All have gone straight to the bottom of every case. All have consistently claimed that no one higher up the chain of command, including the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, bears any responsibility for any of this.

Digby says. 

Criminals Much?

So, we have a federal probe implicating the president's number one political advisor and the vice president's chief of staff in the violation of laws protecting CIA agents and possibly lying to federal investigators.

We have a multi-pronged investigation into a lobbyist who happens to be a very close associate of Tom DeLay,Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove and the entire Republican leadership going back to their youth as members of the College republicans. This lobbyist is now implicated in a mafia murder plot and has been arrested on charges affiliated with that crime.

A member of the Bush administration who is a good friend and associate of all of the above was arrested this week for lying to the Feds about his good friend the lobbyist.

The majority leader of the Senate is now officially under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors for insider trading involving potentially many millions of dollars.

The majority leader of the House was just indicted by a Texas Grand jury for violating laws prohibiting the use of corporate money in campaigns.


I am so relieved that the Republicans restored honor and integrity to Washington. There hasn't been even one blow job in that town since they took power.



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The pitiful pathetic fucks who “run” this government 

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WASHINGTON - Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq

--snip--

'Not good enough'

"Your expectation is that when you are sent to war, that our government does everything they can do to protect the lives of our people, and anything less than that is not good enough," said a former Marine who spent nearly $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower-body armor for his son, a Marine serving in Fallujah.

The father asked that he be identified only by his first name -- Gordon -- because he is afraid of retribution against his son.

"I wouldn't have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it," said Gordon. "But I think the U.S. has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don't support Donald Rumsfeld's idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don't go to war until you are prepared."

Under the law passed by Congress last October, the Defense Department had until Feb. 25 to develop regulations for the reimbursement, which is limited to $1,100 per item. Pentagon officials opposed the reimbursement idea, calling it "an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden."

In a letter to Dodd in late April, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel, said his office was developing regulations to implement the reimbursement, and would be done in about 60 days.

'Serious shortages'

Soldiers and their families have reported buying everything from higher-quality protective gear to armor for their Humvees, medical supplies and even global positioning devices. ...



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And that's just THIS week. 

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Tom DeLay is indicted for campaign finance fraud.

Bill Frist trades inside.

William Bennett suggests that if you aborted Black babies the crime rate would go down.

Micheal Brown blames the Mayor of New Orleans for the Katrina debacle.

A slow motion civil war has begun in Iraq.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

afternoon oys 

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It’s Only A Matter of Time

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 -- A car bomber penetrated the heavily fortified Green Zone in the center of the capital on Tuesday but was stopped by U.S. Marines at a checkpoint before he was able to detonate the vehicle, the military said.

Equality Comes to Iraqi Women


When We Were Psychos

Christians? hardly
America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior

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Wonder If Anyone Noticed 

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So the company that made W''s less than secure body armor is now being pursued by Bushies.

I wonder why there is no investigation or scapegoating when the underarmored Americans are nameless faceless soldiers.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Helicopters and help and prisoners. 

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My wife was watching CNN. I walked in and saw a short segment where an Air National Guard pilot described the agony of being out of room and having to shut down ferrying operations at night and knowming that she left people behind. And I wondered how many people could have been saved if FEMA had allowed the dozen or so foreign helicopters donated by France and Germany and Mexico to fly rotation.

These people are quite literally the most dangerous nincompoops who ever were installed in a coup.

On another note, it now appears that prisoners were allowed to drown in their cells in the aftermath.

And it is at this time that I say “Look what has become of us. Good lord we're without souls."



afternoon oys 

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Bush To Americans In Debt- FUCK YOU


When Congress agreed this spring to tighten the bankruptcy laws and crack down on consumers who took on debt irresponsibly, no one had the victims of Hurricane Katrina in mind.

But four weeks after New Orleans flooded and tens of thousands of other residents of the Gulf Coast also lost their homes and livelihoods, a stricter new personal bankruptcy law scheduled to take effect on Oct. 17 is likely to deliver another blow to those dislocated by the storm.

The law was intended to keep individuals from taking on debts they had no intention of paying off. But many once-solvent Katrina victims are likely to be caught up in the net intended to catch deadbeats.

Right after Hurricane Katrina struck, several lawmakers - mostly Democrats but including some Senate Republicans - suggested that storm victims along the Gulf Coast should get relief from the new law's stricter provisions, which are intended to screen filers by income and make those with higher incomes repay their debts over several years. Under the old law, which remains in effect until mid-October, many more filers can have their debts canceled quickly in federal bankruptcy courts.

But House Republicans, who fought off a proposed amendment that would have made bankruptcy filings easier for victims of natural disasters, said there was no reason to carve out a broad exemption just because of the storm.




W’s Mojo

At the end of the day, though, he must have taken a moment to wonder how his mojo could have deserted him so completely. Rita turned out to be no Katrina, so there was no massive relief effort to command. The president still couldn't find his bullhorn moment. Meanwhile, his capital was overrun by the opposition in a spectacular demonstration of how unpopular the war in Iraq has become.


Oh Bull Shit-He Wishes His Shit War Was This Important

WASHINGTON — Defeating the Iraqi insurgency is as important to the United States as winning World War II was 60 years ago, the Pentagon's top officer said Monday.



Little Noticed Shoot Out Could have Been Incredibly Expensive

Oct. 3, 2005 issue - The shoot-out earlier this month around a seafront villa in the Saudi Arabian city of Ad Dammam lasted almost 48 hours, and ended only when security forces brought in light artillery.



Bob Dylan On new Orleans

There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside.

oy 

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Blair Surprised By Insurgency That Surprised No One Else

The Prime Minister admitted he had underestimated the insurgency, but insisted his strategy was right. "I didn't expect quite the same ferocity from every single element in the Middle East that came in and was doing their best to disrupt the political process,"



Commanders Planning Drawdown of Troops

That quote sums up an important shift in U.S. military strategy on Iraq that has been emerging over the past year. The commanders who are running the war don't talk about transforming Iraq into an American-style democracy or of imposing U.S. values. They understand that Iraqis dislike American occupation, and for that reason they want fewer American troops in Iraq, not more. Most of all, they don't want the current struggle against Iraqi insurgents, who are nasty but militarily insignificant, to undermine U.S. efforts against the larger threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists, who would kill hundreds of thousands of Americans if they could.


Religion Not Always Good

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.



we’re even fucking up the oil part of this

QARMAT ALI, Iraq — The failure to rebuild key components of Iraq's petroleum industry has impeded oil production and may have permanently damaged the largest of the country's vast oil fields, American and Iraqi experts say.

The deficiencies have deprived Iraq of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue needed for national rebuilding efforts and kept millions of barrels of oil off the world market at a time of growing demand.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

afternoon oys 

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More Protest Signs

Here's just a modest sample of those that caught my eye, reflecting as they did humor, determination, and more than anything else, outrage: "Yeeha is not a foreign policy"; "Making a killing"; "Ex-Republican. Ask me why"; "Blind Faith in Bad Leadership is not Patriotism"; "Bush is a disaster!" (with the President's face in the eye of a hurricane); "He's a sick nut my Grandma says" (with a photo of an old woman in blue with halo-like rays emanating from her); "Osama bin Forgotten"; "Cindy speaks for me"; "Make levees not war"; "W's the Devil, One Degree of Separation"; "Dick Cheney Eats Kittens" (with a photo of five kittens); "Bush busy creating business for morticians worldwide"; "Liar, born liar, born-again liar"; "Dude -- There's a War Criminal in My White House!!!"; "Motivated moderates against Bush"; "Bored with Empire"; "Pro Whose Life?"; "War is Terrorism with a Bigger Budget."


Protest Signs

That's not to suggest that the anti-war movement has come down with anything resembling military discipline. In the frequently carnivalesque march that looped around the White House and downtown, one could spot just about any slogan imaginable, from the 9/11 conspiracy theorists to the simply unintelligible: Riding a green ladies' bicycle, a white-bearded hippie sanctimoniously coasted down a line of stationary D.C. cops, holding aloft a poorly lettered sign reading "WHY? Motherfucker$." Four of D.C.'s finest double over laughing in his wake. "The city prefers the officers to keep a straight face," their sergeant said. "Sometimes that's hard."



Republicans are the fastest growing Part of the antiwar movement

The NYT/CBS poll breaks responses down along party lines, and the results are pretty astounding:

Republicans who want to increase the troops level: 12 percent – Democrats, 8 percent. The super hawks are (1) a tiny minority, and (2) not noticeably partisan one way or the other.

Republicans who want troop levels to remain the same: 41 percent – Democrats, 15 percent. This shows how out of touch with their base the Democrats are: most Democratic members of Congress would take the majority Republican position.

Republicans who want to decrease the number of U.S. troops in Iraq: 29 percent – Democrats, 29 percent.


Iraq Constitution In Present Form Likely To Spawn Civil War, Not Erase It.

LONDON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Iraq's rushed constitutional process has deepened ethnic and sectarian rifts and is likely to worsen the insurgency and hasten the country's violent break-up, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Monday.

"The constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen insurgency," said Robert Malley, head of the think-tank's Middle East and North Africa programme, introducing an ICG report.

"A compact based on compromise and broad consent could have been a first step in a healing process. Instead it is proving yet another step in a process of depressing decline."

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morning oys 

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The Neener Neener Neener Administration


There's a doctoral dissertation to be written about Bush appointees named during the administration's frequent fits of Petulant Pique. These PP appointments are made in the immortal childhood spirit of "nanny-nanny boo-boo, I'll show you." Susan Wood resigns in protest over the politicization of women's health care? Ha! We'll show her -- we'll put a vet in charge instead!


Just Tell The Truth And Get Over It


A Chronicle review of more than 2,000 pages of testimony, as well as interviews with Pat Tillman’s family members and soldiers who served with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and what appears to be the military’s attempt at self-protection.

For example, the documents contain testimony of the first investigating officer alleging that Army officials allowed witnesses to change key details in their sworn statements so his finding that certain soldiers committed “gross negligence” could be softened.

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.

Unlike Cindy Sheehan — who has protested against President Bush because of the death of her son Casey in combat in Baghdad — Mary Tillman, 49, who teaches learning-disabled students in a San Jose public junior high school, and her ex-husband, Patrick Tillman, 50, a San Jose lawyer, have avoided association with the anti-war movement. Their main public allies are Sen. John McCain, RAriz., and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who have lobbied on their behalf. Yet the case has high stakes because of Pat Tillman’s status as an all-American hero…

… Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen White — a Navy SEAL who served with Pat and Kevin for four months in Iraq and was the only military member to speak at Tillman’s memorial — said Pat “wasn’t very fired up about being in Iraq” and instead wanted to go fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He said both Pat and Kevin (who has a degree in philosophy) “were amazingly well-read individuals … very firm in some of their beliefs, their political and religious or not so religious beliefs.”


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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Ammo 

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John Pike, director of the Washington military research group GlobalSecurity.org, said that, based on the GAO's figures, US forces had expended around six billion bullets between 2002 and 2005. "How many evil-doers have we sent to their maker using bullets rather than bombs? I don't know," he said.

"If they don't do body counts, how can I? But using these figures it works out at around 300,000 bullets per insurgent. Let's round that down to 250,000 so that we are underestimating."



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OK, now this is funny 

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Apparently the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, pro Bush/Cheney/Iraq War, had a fund raising drive to help with the reconstruction of Iraq.

$600.00.

For Iraq.

Wow. That will last about .006 seconds and will go into Halliburton's enormous Black Hole of funding.

And these are the first people who will corner you with a lecture on geo-politics and why Bush policy is right on and why we should stay the course, and of course, theyll lecture you and I on "sacrifice".

What Asshats.

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Britain pulls out in May. 

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What’s the difference between a Cut and Run and a Timetable for Withdrawal and a Set of Target Dates?



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Saturday, September 24, 2005

The 23rd Qualm 

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Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find
no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou annointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of
Thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

Where is the fucking press? 

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300,000 in anti war march and almost no coverage.

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Oy 

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This
Is
Just wrong
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33 dead since katrina 


Friday, September 23, 2005

noon 

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What Does The Bush Administration Do When They Encounter an Actual Journalist? They bar him from entering the country


The internationally renowned correspodent for The Independent -- the great British journalist Robert Fisk (right) -- has been banned from entering the United States. Fisk has been covering war zones for decades, but is above all known for his incisive reporting from the Middle East for more than 20 years. His critical coverage of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation that has followed it, has repeatedly exposed U.S. and British government disinformation campaigns. He also has exposed how the bulk of the press reports from Iraq have been "hotel journalism" -- a phrase Fisk coined –


Civil War


This time, it’s the simmering battle between two Shiite paramilitary armies: the forces of the Badr Brigade, the 20,000-strong force controlled by the Iranian-supported Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and the Mahdi Army, the thousands-strong force that worships the fanatical Muqtada Al Sadr. The battle, which might flare into a Shiite-Shiite civil war in advance of the October 15 referendum on Iraq’s divisive, rigged constitution, could put the final nail in the coffin of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy.



Bush Bashed


ASPEN, Colo. -- For two full days, George W. Bush was bashed. He was taken to task on his handling of stem cell research, population control, the Iraq war and, especially, Hurricane Katrina. The critics were no left-wing bloggers. They were rich, mainly Republican and presumably Bush voters in the last two presidential elections.

The Bush-bashing occurred last weekend at the annual Aspen conference sponsored by the New York investment firm Forstmann Little & Co. Over 200 invited guests, mostly prestigious, arrived Thursday night (many by private aircraft) and stayed until Sunday morning for more than golf, hikes and gourmet meals. They faithfully attended the discussions presided over by PBS's Charlie Rose on such serious subjects as "global poverty and human rights" and "the 'new' world economy." The connecting link was hostility to President Bush.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias ships 1,000,000 barrels of petroleum to the United States


The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C. issued a press release late this morning to inform that Venezuela President Hugo Chavez’ pledge to ship approximately an additional one million barrels of gasoline to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation will begin to come to fruition on September 25 with the arrival at Port Everglades (Florida) of the bulk tanker 'B/t Energy Pride' with a first shipment of 240,000 barrels.


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bullshit 

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WASHINGTON — President Bush said Thursday that mistakes made by three of his predecessors, including the Reagan administration's restraint after the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, had emboldened terrorists and helped set the stage for the Sept. 11 attacks.


Not My Fault, Bush points out. ( How unlike him to point fingers)


Then again, my guess is that if Carter had a document on his desk entitled “Bin Laden Intent On Attacking Inside The United States” he would have acted.

But this is such a red herring/chicken and egg first argument. First, he claims that 9/11 led to Iraq. Although he couldn't prove beyond a preponderance of the doubt that it did. Now he is claiming that if we leave iraq it will cause more 9/11s.

In other words, no end to war or there'll be more war.

Think about this facist doublespeak for a second.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

eve 

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Where is the media?


That time has come again.


There will be a march on Washington this Saturday, a ritual rallying of the anti-war faithful who will come by the busload as they have twice a year, once in the fall, once in the spring, for decades, on issue after issue.

This mobilization promises to be a big one. The war has lost public support, with only a minority of Americans now endorsing it. The outrages we saw on television after the Katrina catastrophe have stirred even more anger.




Anti War Movement Moves


Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Peggy Smith, a retired legal secretary from Terre Haute, Indiana, is coming to Washington for her first anti-war march this weekend. She has one question: ``You think they'll put a 61-year-old lady in jail?''

``I've never been to jail before,'' said Smith, who has been taking classes in non-violent civil disobedience. ``I was married to a lawyer for 31 years. I'm a peaceful person.''



War or Hurricane?


Sep. 22, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina and its wrenching aftermath have turned public attention and already-dwindling support away from President Bush's Iraq policy. And that was before Hurricane Rita took aim at Texas.

The devastating storms are increasing pressure around the country and in Congress for an Iraq exit strategy and prompting calls for reining in spending on an increasingly unpopular war, one which could bedevil Republicans in the 2006 midterm congressional elections.

"It's a tangled picture" that will get even more complicated as those elections near, said Stephen Cimbala, a political scientist at Pennsylvania State University. "It's like Osama bin Laden's running the weather," he added, referring to the fugitive al-Qaida terror leader.


No Telling How Much This Costs

The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday.

The Defense Department has reported spending $191 billion to fight terrorism from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks through May 2005, with the annual sum ballooning from $11 billion in fiscal 2002 to a projected $71 billion in fiscal 2005. But the GAO investigation found many inaccuracies totaling billions of dollars.


Southern Iraq Is Already A Rightwing Iranian Style Theocracy

BASRA, Iraq -- While the United States battles Sunni extremists in northern Iraq, different but potentially more enduring Islamic radicals - many with close ties to Iran - have been allowed to take root in the South.

This was painfully evident Monday, when the British Army attacked the Iraqi police force they had trained for two years, only to find the police had handed two British soldiers over to the most hardline Shia militia.



War Not Interesting Anymore


NEW YORK--Sectarian civil war, long predicted by yours truly and other antiwar types, has arrived in U.S.-occupied Iraq. Sunni bombs killing a hundred people a day, spurred on by Al Qaeda and a declaration of "all-out war" in retaliation for the Shiites' refusal to allow Sunni representation in the next government, have become routine. Kurds and Arabs are assassinating each other over oil rights. A year ago these developments would have sparked accusations, counterarguments and fierce debates in the U.S. over what to do next. Now no one cares.

Passions that burned hot during the build-up towards and immediate aftermath of the spring 2003 invasion have cooled and hardened into bitter, silent, mutual disdain. Supporters of the war, their ranks dwindled to a hardcore 44 percent in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, remain true believers regardless of its $2,000-a-second price tag, intentionally unquantified carnage among Iraqis, and continued failure to locate weapons of mass destruction. For those opposed to America's adventure in nation-building, neither Saddam's reported confessions nor any number of "things are better in Iraq than the media says" reports (in the media, natch) can change their minds.

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morning oys 

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Pussy Democrats

That's when it it hit me. Democrats are always ready to fight the next battle.
Republicans are the complete opposite. They fight every battle, no matter how large or small. They have Fox News and all the right wing talk shows and half a dozen members of the executive and legislative branch hammer out the same point all day, every day. (Why did the whole country start using terms like "finger pointing" and "blame game", all on the same day? Because Republicans used it over and over.)





Sound Familiar?


"America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated," Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, "We shall stay the course."

--snip—

"Our nation was not born easily. There were times in those years of the 18th century when it seemed as if we might not be born at all," Johnson said in a speech on Aug. 16, 1967.
"Given that background, we ought not to be astonished that this struggle in Vietnam continues," Johnson said. "We ought not to be astonished that that nation, wracked by a war of insurgency and beset by its neighbors to the north, has not already emerged, full-blown, as a perfect model of two-party democracy."


Bob Says

Remember, there was already a war going on when Katrina came to call. I've always believed that war is a serious matter. But the president was on vacation. Dick Cheney was on vacation. And Condi Rice was here in New York taking in the sights and shopping for shoes. That Americans were fighting and dying on foreign soil was not enough to demand their full attention. They were busy having fun. So it's no wonder it took a good long while before they noticed that a whole section of America had been wiped out in a calamity of biblical proportions.


Oink

“It's sorta cute when the the right wingers start spinning their wheels over something not entirely awful. But they obviously haven't been paying much attention to what happens when a reporter gingerly questions these people on their pork. I saw Chuck Grassley on CNBC looking like he swallowed a giant slug when the host gingerly asked him about his indoor rainforest. It was actually yet another reminder about how little the Republicans have been challenged on any issue over the past few years - Grassley looked shocked that anyone would dare question him over such a thing.

The real test is what happens when they realize that the Republicans, who do indeed control the government, aren't going to give up a damn bit of their hard-earned pork. I'm sure the Clenis will make an appearance, somehow.

To put it another way, would YOU have the guts to get between Dennis Hastert and a bacon sandwich?

I thought not.”

-atrios


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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

after noon 

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Life and Death as US Marine



Welcome to a typical day in Iraq for 1st Platoon, Fox Company. Their unit: the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment. The 2-2 operates in what passes for the suburbs of Fallujah, the city that saw the heaviest fighting of the war in April and November of 2004. It's calmed down a little since the last time Aziz was in town—like most of the other Marines in his platoon, he's on his second tour in Iraq—but in the largely Sunni town insurgent activity is still high. Daily bomb attacks, mortars, suicide bombers, and the occasional ambush are the norm. And F irst Platoon spends a good chunk of its time patrolling the area on foot.


--snip—


The long day is winding down. Dusk falls and the temperature drops. A half dozen Marines pull up chairs outside the house, in the fluorescent glow of "chem" lights—civilian campers call them glow sticks. These young Americans don't want to get blown up, they want to go home. And they don't want to kill civilians. They talk about the rules of engagement, stricter than when they fought in Iraq in 2004. That was "the Wild West," says Aziz. A recent shooting left a nasty impression, he recalls. A car carrying two women, two men and two kids failed to stop at the extensive barriers before the checkpoint at OP2. The driver ignored both warning signs and the multiple concrete blocks. The car came forward even after the tires were shot out. Eventually, a Marine opened fire. The two women were killed. The bullets blew the back of one woman's head off, says Franklin, adding: "It was even worse than the s—- I saw last time I was here." But the enemy knows the Marines can't fire first. Lately, the Marines say, cars probe the defenses, driving up to the post to see how far they can get before being shot at. "You're supposed to wave, throw a flash bang, say hi, make a baloney and cheese sandwich, shoot in front, shoot the tire, shoot the other tire, have some tea, shoot the engine, then shoot the windshield," says Aziz.



Little Oil Coming From Iraq


And there is no question where this additional oil will have to be procured: in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, the Andes, and other areas beset by chronic instability and conflict. These are the only areas capable of increasing oil output sufficiently to satisfy rising U.S. demand, and so these are the areas that will attract the greatest American attention and potential Pentagon involvement. If past experience is any indication, U.S. policymakers will respond to the dilemma of our growing dependence on unstable foreign providers by sending more and more American military forces to these areas in a desperate attempt to ensure uninterrupted access to oil. This is, in fact, the underlying reason for the Pentagon's search for new military bases in Central Asia, the Persian Gulf, and Africa.

Despite the debacle of Iraq, most senior policymakers appear to retain their blind faith in the efficacy of military force as a tool for securing access to foreign sources of petroleum. This, as Iraq makes painfully clear, is delusional. Yet they persist in risking the lives of young Americans and others in their continued adherence to a failed and immoral strategy. Any attempt to reconstruct American foreign policy on a more rational and ethical basis must, therefore, begin with the repudiation of the use of force in procuring foreign oil and the adoption of a forward-looking energy strategy based on increased conservation and the rapid development of alternative fuels.




Al Quaeda Wants To Negotiate?

Yet developing a strategy for the next phase of the global response to Al Qaeda requires understanding the enemy - something Western analysts have systematically failed to do. Sept. 11 was not an unprovoked, gratuitous act. It was a military operation researched and planned since at least 1996 and conducted by a trained commando in the context of a war that had twice been declared officially and publicly. The operation targeted two military locations and a civilian facility regarded as the symbol of U.S. economic and financial power. The assault was the culmination of a larger campaign, which forecast impact, planned for the enemy's reaction and was designed to gain the tactical upper hand.

Overwhelmingly centered on the martial aspects of the conflict, scholars and policy makers have been too focused on Al Qaeda's "irrationality," "fundamentalism," and "hatred." The sway of such explanations is particularly surprising in the face of unambiguous statements made by Al Qaeda as to the main reasons for its war on the United States, which it has offered consistently since 1996.



Anti War Sentiments In a War Town

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- In military communities across the United States, a debate over the Iraq war is being waged by reluctant, neophyte activists. Their microphones chirp and squeak, or don't pick up their quiet voices at all. Their signs are too small. They forget the banners.

"This is my community. I don't want to offend people here. But my husband is a soldier; he can't say anything. So it's my duty as a citizen to speak up," Kara Hollingsworth, a D.C. native and Army wife at Fort Bragg whose husband served two tours in Iraq, said as she took a seat on a panel of antiwar activists last week.



Old Growth Forests Are Next

Like Rumsfeld's Pentagon, the Forest Service under George W. Bush runs on pr, corporate cronyism, an obsession with secrecy and the rapid-fire deployment of fabricated justifications for cutting down old-growth forests.

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No Fiscal Policy Part II 

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If Mr. Bush wants to make anything of his second term, he'll have to do his own Nixon-to-China turnaround, reframe the debate and recast the priorities of his presidency. He seems to think that by offering to spend billions of dollars to rebuild one city, New Orleans, he'll get his leadership halo back. Wrong. Just throwing more borrowed money at New Orleans is not leadership. Mr. Bush needs to frame a new agenda for rebuilding all our cities and strengthening the nation as a whole. And what should be the centerpiece of a policy of American renewal is blindingly obvious: making a quest for energy independence the moon shot of our generation.

The president should have done that on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001. The country was ready. But the president whiffed. Katrina - nature's 9/11 - has given him a rare do-over. Imagine - I know it is a stretch - that the president announced tomorrow that he wanted an immediate 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax - the "American Renewal Tax," to be used to rebuild New Orleans, pay down the deficit, fund tax breaks for Americans to convert their cars to hybrid technology or biofuels, fund a Manhattan Project to develop alternatives for energy independence, and subsidize mass transit systems for our major cities.

And imagine if he tied this to an appeal to young people to go into science, math and engineering for the great national purpose of making us the greenest nation on the planet, to help liberate us from dependence on the worst regimes in the world for our oil and to help ease the global warming that is heating up the oceans, making our hurricanes more intense and our lowlands more vulnerable. America's kids are hungry to be challenged for some larger purpose, which has been utterly absent in this presidency.

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morning oys 

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Zero Fiscal Policy


Trying to allay mounting concerns, White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten met with Republican senators for an hour after their regular Tuesday lunch. Senators emerged to say they were annoyed by the lack of concrete ideas for paying the Hurricane Katrina bill.

"Very entertaining," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said sarcastically as he left the session. "I haven't heard any specifics from the administration."

"At least give us some idea" of how to cover the cost, said Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who is facing reelection in 2006. "We owe that to the American taxpayer."



Losing Basra


A surge of violence in Basra, Iraq's second-biggest city, has raised new doubts about the U.S.-led coalition's strategy for pacifying southern Iraq by giving free rein to Shiite religious militias with ties to neighboring Iran.

Backed by the U.S., the British forces in southern Iraq have effectively looked the other way as Shiite Muslim religious parties solidified their control over the city's government and as militia members joined the local police force while maintaining loyalty to militia leaders. The policy choice rested on an unspoken trade-off, with the British banking on the militias' ability to prevent insurgents from sowing instability or endangering Basra's ports and oil fields.


This is what we’ve become


A prisoner in Afghanistan was beaten to death over a period of five days, hanging from chains in a public place in a detention facility and only a private first class goes to jail? In all that time, the Army is trying to tell us that no one higher than a private first class walked that hallway, accounted for that prisoner, delivered meals, supervised work details? If he was truly the only one that witnessed that, then there is a whole chain of sergeants, lieutenants, and captains that obviously were derelict in their duty, simply for not checking on their soldiers! The system that doesn't provide for a proper chain of movement to the rear, the shortage of military police and transport, the situations that require a soldier assaulted by a detainee to then guard that detainee over a period of days are all evidence of a systemic failure and the naiveté of the plan that engenders those situations.

Lynndie England may be of diminished mental capacity, but so is our system. And on days like this, so is our national conscience.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

James Wolcott 

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Lance Mannion pointed out recently that the smalltime David Halberstams in the media were enthusiastically complicit in the heroic makeover of Bush from pre-9/11 diddler to post-9/11 Wartime President. "After all, all writers love their own creations, and Bush the War President is their creation as much as he's the creature of Karl Rove. Even now, as Bush's almost sociopathic ineptitude and stubborness are being laid bare, the press is still waiting for Bush to make like Kirk Douglas in Young Man with a Horn and blow an inspirational trumpet. Writing about Evan Thomas' Newsweek cover story about Bush's Katrina clusterfuck, Mannion notes, "The fact that Thomas lapsed and reverted to writing about the President with the Bullhorn in the middle of describing the bungling by the President with the Guitar makes me think they're going to have a hard time giving up the Great Narrative."


The press is going to hold on to that narrative line long after most Americans have let go. Bush's declining poll numbers attest to the fact that the American people are past the point of being moved by the sort of stagecraft that makes an Elisabeth Bumiller tingle. Bush rallied the nation after 9/11. Rallied it against Saddam Hussein and WMDs. The American people are now all rallied-out. They just want their government to work, to not resemble a Banana Republic in full rot.

Eve 

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What’s A Little Mobility When You Consider All The Stem Cells You Might Hurt

Mice with severe spinal cord injuries regained much of their ability to walk normally after getting injections of stem cells taken from the brains of human fetuses, scientists in California reported yesterday.

More Bush Crime Family Stuff

I could go on, but to tell you the truth, now that I've run down what everyone else has reported about Safavian and the the slime trail linking him to Davis, Norquist and Abramoff, I don't have anything original to add -- other than my deeply held suspicion that God has subcontracted the fashioning of reality to the spirits of Mark Twain and Franz Kafka, who are sitting around in heaven like a couple of coked up screenwriters, dreaming up ever more ridiculous characters and swapping increasingly absurd story lines.



Counting Explosions

[Reuters] Chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita urged people not to gauge the war based on the volume of rebel bombings. "That's not a good way to determine how good or bad things are going -- by (counting) how many things are exploding," Di Rita said.

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lunch 

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More Dead Americans

BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. military said Tuesday that four U.S. soldiers died in two roadside bombings near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi and a fifth died in a blast north of Baghdad, pushing the toll of American forces killed in Iraq past 1,900.


Julie Myers, Another GOP operative Put in a position of power

The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.

The push to appoint Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.



Reaction to news about an anti obscenity squad

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Political Cover Up Operative II

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 - President Bush has named Frances Fragos Townsend, his domestic security adviser, to lead an internal White House inquiry into the administration's performance in handling Hurricane Katrina, Scott McClellan, Mr. Bush's spokesman, said Monday.

Mr. McClellan said Ms. Townsend's job would be "to follow through on the president's commitment to determine what went wrong, what went right and lessons learned."

Ms. Townsend, a former federal prosecutor, has undertaken a number of sensitive and high-profile tasks for Mr. Bush, most recently overseeing the reorganization of the nation's intelligence services after the intelligence failures about Iraq's weapons capabilities.



Big Media Props Up W

If big media look like they’re propping up W’s presidency, they are. Because doing so is good for corporate coffers — in the form of government contracts, billion-dollar tax breaks, regulatory relaxations and security favors. At least that wily old codger Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, parent company of CBS, has admitted what everyone already knows is true: that, while he personally may be a Democrat, “It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic “It happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.”


A Poets Letter To Laura Bush

I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting "extraordinary rendition": flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it.

Sincerely,

SHARON OLDS

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morning 

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Waste and Shame and Stupidity

And unless the bureaucratic mess is cleared up soon it could be sent for incineration.

One British aid worker last night called the move "sickening senselessness" and said furious colleagues were "spitting blood".

The food, which cost British taxpayers millions, is sitting idle in a huge warehouse after the Food and Drug Agency recalled it when it had already left to be distributed.

Scores of lorries headed back to a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, to dump it at an FDA incineration plant.

The Ministry of Defence in London said last night that 400,000 operational ration packs had been shipped to the US.

But officials blamed the US Department of Agriculture, which impounded the shipment under regulations relating to the import and export of meat.

The aid worker, who would not be named, said: "This is the most appalling act of sickening senselessness while people starve.

"The FDA has recalled aid from Britain because it has been condemned as unfit for human consumption, despite the fact that these are Nato approved rations of exactly the same type fed to British soldiers in Iraq.

"Under Nato, American soldiers are also entitled to eat such rations, yet the starving of the American South will see them go up in smoke because of FDA red tape madness."



Occupied vs Occupier

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A British armored vehicle escorted by a tank crashed into a detention center Monday in Basra and rescued two undercover troops held by police, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.


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Monday, September 19, 2005

what's a little posse comitatus when you have facism? 

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Krugman 

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By all accounts Ronald Reagan, who declared in his Inaugural Address that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," wasn't personally racist. But he repeatedly used a bogus tale about a Cadillac-driving Chicago "welfare queen" to bash big government. And he launched his 1980 campaign with a pro-states'-rights speech in Philadelphia, Miss., a small town whose only claim to fame was the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers.

Under George W. Bush - who, like Mr. Reagan, isn't personally racist but relies on the support of racists - the anti-government right has reached a new pinnacle of power. And the incompetent response to Katrina was the direct result of his political philosophy. When an administration doesn't believe in an agency's mission, the agency quickly loses its ability to perform that mission.

By now everyone knows that the Bush administration treated the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a dumping ground for cronies and political hacks, leaving the agency incapable of dealing with disasters. But FEMA's degradation isn't unique. It reflects a more general decline in the competence of government agencies whose job is to help people in need.

For example, housing for Katrina refugees is one of the most urgent problems now facing the nation. The FEMAvilles springing up across the gulf region could all too easily turn into squalid symbols of national failure. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which should be a source of expertise in tackling this problem, has been reduced to a hollow shell, with eight of its principal staff positions vacant.

But let me not blame the Bush administration for everything. The sad truth is that the only exceptional thing about the neglect of our fellow citizens we saw after Katrina struck is that for once the consequences of that neglect were visible on national TV.

Consider this: in the United States, unlike any other advanced country, many people fail to receive basic health care because they can't afford it. Lack of health insurance kills many more Americans each year than Katrina and 9/11 combined.

But the health care crisis hasn't had much effect on politics. And one reason is that it isn't yet a crisis among middle-class, white Americans (although it's getting there). Instead, the worst effects are falling on the poor and black, who have third-world levels of infant mortality and life expectancy.

I'd like to believe that Katrina will change everything - that we'll all now realize how important it is to have a government committed to helping those in need, whatever the color of their skin. But I wouldn't bet on it.




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mo 

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Gitmo Hungerstrikes




James Says


September 19, 2005
Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005 - 6, we're going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become.

What we will leave behind is the certainty that we have made the right choices. Was it a good thing to buy a 3,600 square foot house 32 miles outside Minneapolis with an interest-only adjustable rate mortgage -- with natural gas for home heating running at $12 a unit and gasoline over $3 a gallon? Was it the right choice to run three credit cards up to their $5000 limit? Was I chump to think my pension from Acme Airlines would really be there for me? Do I really owe the Middletown Hospital $17,678 for a gall bladder operation that took forty-five minutes? And why did they charge me $238 for a plastic catheter?

All kinds of assumptions about the okay-ness of our recent collective behavior are headed out the window. This naturally beats a straight path to politics, since that is the theater in which our collective choices are dramatized. It really won't take another jolting event like a major hurricane or a terror incident or an H4N5 flu outbreak to take things over the edge -- though it is very likely that something else will happen. George W. Bush, and the party he represents, are headed into full Hooverization mode. After Katrina, nobody will take claims of governmental competence seriously.

The new assumption will be that when shit happens you are on your own. In this remarkable three weeks since New Orleans was shredded, no Democrat has stepped into the vacuum of leadership, either, with a different vision of what we might do now, and who we might become. This is the kind of medium that political maniacs spawn in. Something is out there right now, feeding on the astonishment and grievance of a whipsawed middle class, and it will have a lot more nourishment in the months ahead.

There are two things that the newspapers and TV Cable News outfits are not covering very well. One is that the Port of New Orleans is not functioning, with poor prospects for a quick recovery, and with it will go much of the Midwestern grain harvest. Another thing that has fallen off the radar screen is the damage done to the oil and gas infrastructure around the Gulf Coast, especially the onshore facilities for storing and transporting stuff, and for marshaling the crews and equipment to fix stuff. The US is going to run short of its customary supplies for a long time. The idea that these things will not affect an economy of ceaseless mobility is not realistic.

These serious problems on-the-ground are going to affect the more ephemeral elements floating around in the financial ether: the value of the dollar, the hazard in hedge funds, the credibility of institutions. By October, the hurricane season will be ending and the stock market crash season will be underway. It is hard to imagine that companies like WalMart really believe they will keep their profits up when their customers are paying twice as much as they did a year ago to heat their houses and fill their gas tanks.

Meanwhile, does anybody remember a place called Iraq? A bomb that killed thirty people was reported on page 12 of the Sunday New York Times. That's how important Iraq has become. But, I guess, a nation can hardly pay attention to a bullet in the foot when it has a sucking chest wound.

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afternoon 

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Insurgents control major neighborhoods

"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out.

The government will respond feebly. It will go into a contested neighborhood, and then just like Fallujah, Ramadi, Tel Afar, the insurgents will flee to take over another area on another day. Bit by bit they are taking over the main parts of Baghdad. The only place we are sure they cannot control is Sadr City, unless of course they want to take on Jaish Mahdy [Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army], and that would be bloody.

A few minutes ago Jaafari came on television to tell everyone in Baghdad to stay home. Can't wait for his next bold move.


Thieves Running Iraq Programs

One billion dollars has been plundered from Iraq's defence ministry in one of the largest thefts in history, The Independent can reveal, leaving the country's army to fight a savage insurgency with museum-piece weapons.





Yet they rarely do. And nowhere is this more true than in the United States. Scholars and soldiers alike have often used the phrase "the American way of war" to describe not just a predilection, but a virtual strategic obsession, which holds that wars are fought by gathering the maximum in manpower and materiel, hurling them into the maelstrom, and counting on swift, crushing victory. While this approach may work against a conventional army, it's nothing short of disastrous when fighting insurgents engaging in unconventional guerrilla warfare. Thus far in Iraq, the U.S. effort, though not entirely devoid of successes, has been hallmarked by overwhelmed and underprepared troops effecting heavy-handed, large-scale roundups of civilians (in some cases errantly or overzealously harming them); or the destruction of large swaths of cities and towns. Meanwhile, cycles of insurgent attacks continue to effectively target current and newly recruited Iraqi police, soldiers, and politicians, as well as Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers.

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morning 

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The U.S. Congress is a national embarrasment, except that no one is embarrassed. There are a few men of conscience left, like John McCain, but McCain's pleas against pork seem to have absolutely no effect. They are beginning to have the feel of a quaint hobby, like collecting exotic stamps.

Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest. So we shovel out billions on "Homeland Security" to stave off nonexistent threats to Wisconsin, Wyoming and Montana while New York and Los Angeles remain unprotected. We mismanage crises with a crazy-quilt patchwork of federal, local and state authorities—and sing paeans to federalism to explain our incompetence. We denounce sensible leadership and pragmatism because they mean compromise and loss of ideological purity. Better to be right than to get Iraq right.

Hurricane Katrina is a wake-up call. It is time to get serious. We need to secure the homeland, fight terrorism and have an effective foreign policy to advance our interests and our ideals. We also need a world-class education system, a great infrastructure and advancement in science and technology.

For all its virtues, the private sector cannot accomplish all this. Wal-Mart and Federal Express cannot devise a national energy policy for the United States. For that and for much else, we need government. We already pay for it. Can somebody help us get our money's worth?




"We have never taken this operation seriously enough," says a retired senior military official with experience in Iraq. "We have never provided enough troops. We have never provided enough equipment, or the right kind of equipment. We have never worked the intelligence part of the war in a serious, sustained fashion. We have failed the Iraqi people, and we have failed our troops."
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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Sabbath 

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ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush.

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On Saturday 8,500 American and Iraqi troops entered the city and, by Wednesday, had won a major victory in the campaign to restore peace and stability to Iraq.

On the same day in Baghdad 12 suicide bombs were detonated, killing more than 154 people and wounding 542, showing that Col McMaster's enemy was far from beaten.

Two and a half years after their invasion, American and British forces are in danger of winning the battles but losing the war. The military plan to force insurgents out of their havens and train Iraqi forces to replace coalition forces is credible but has yet to provide signs of lasting achievement.

When American troops stormed the insurgents' original stronghold, Fallujah, last November, most of Mosul fell to rebels at the same time.

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WASHINGTON - A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to identify the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

Weldon declined to identify the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as “2.5 terabytes” — as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.


A Senate Judiciary Committee aide said the witnesses for Wednesday's hearing had not been finalized and could not confirm Weldon’s comments.



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Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Prop Presidency 

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Roll sound....roll cameras...and action!!!

In a ruined city - still largely without power, stinking with piles of garbage and still 40 percent submerged; where people are foraging in the miasma and muck for food, corpses and the sentimental detritus of their lives; and where unbearably sad stories continue to spill out about hordes of evacuees who lost their homes and patients who died in hospitals without either electricity or rescuers - isn't it rather tasteless, not to mention a waste of energy, to haul in White House generators just to give the president a burnished skin tone and a prettified background?

The slick White House TV production team was trying to salvage W.'s "High Noon" snap with some snazzy Hollywood-style lighting - the same Reaganesque stagecraft they had provided when W. made a prime-time television address from Ellis Island on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On that occasion, Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer, and Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman and a lighting expert, rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used for "Monday Night Football" and Rolling Stones concerts, floated them across New York Harbor and illuminated the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop for Mr. Bush.

Before the presidential address, Mr. DeServi was surveying his handiwork in Jackson Square, crowing to reporters about his cathedral: "Oh, it's heated up. It's going to print loud."

As Elisabeth Bumiller, the White House reporter for The Times, noted in a pool report, the image wizards had put up a large swath of military camouflage netting, held in place by bags of rocks and strung on poles, to hide the president from the deserted and desolate streets of the French Quarter ghost town.



I call this the prop presidency because that is what it is. Bush is just a front for the war profiteers and media manipulators at the outer edge of the thugs who took over this country. It’s all about appearances and honestly, the film crews and make up artists assembled by Rove’s Shop of Propaganda are deaf to the cries of the suffering right outside their razor-wire and Skeletor-like protectors. The idea that they can commandeer in seconds the resources to alleviate suffering but keep them all hidden until a PR war is fought is so offensive to me that I just cannot believe more people don’t see this.


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Lunch 

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Cindy says


Well, we all know now that George Bush never came down the road to talk to me. Thank God! Many people have been saying that I am the "spark," "catalyst," "face of the anti-war movement" etc. I beg to differ. George Bush and his arrogant advisers are the spark that lit the prairie fire of peace activism that has swept over America and the entire world. If he had met with me that fateful day in August it would not have been good for him (because I knew he was going to lie and I would have advertised that fact) but it would have had less of an impact on the peace movement if he had.

Upon reflection on the events of this past August, I have come up with two reasons why George could not meet with me: He is a coward and there is no Noble Cause. If George had as much courage and integrity in his entire body as Casey had in his pinky, he would have met with me. But, ironically, if George had that much courage and integrity he never would have preemptively invaded a practically defenseless country. His syncophantic cabinet and hangers-on are also incontrovertible evidence that he is a coward. No one better dare disagree with him. How dare a mom from Vacaville, Ca. have the nerve to contradict the emperor of Prairie Chapel Road!!??

All of the "Noble Cause" reasons that George has variously given for the invasion and continued illegal occupation of a sovereign nation are also patently false and ridiculous. He has been claiming recently (since he admitted a long time ago that Iraq had no WMDs or links to 9/11) that this occupation of Iraq is spreading "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. Really? Does he have any idea that the constitution that the Iraqi governing body is working on is based on Sharia and that it undermines the freedoms of women? Does he realize that for over 50 years women had equal rights with men in Iraq? Does George realize (of course he does) that the puppet government the US put in place in Iraq is comprised of the very same people who encouraged the invasion to line their own pockets? What kind of freedom and democracy is this? If George is so hell bent on freedom and democracy for Iraq, then why doesn't he practice it here in America? Up to 62 percent of Americans believe that what George has done in Iraq is a mistake and we should begin to bring our troops home. Well, George, 62 percent is a clear majority and you should begin to listen to the people who pay your salary.

He has also claimed that what we are doing in Iraq is "making America safer." Another statement that is easier to disprove than the "freedom and democracy" baloney. To disprove this little bit of deception, all we have to do is look at the Gulf States. Ask the people of New Orleans, especially, if they feel safer. By misappropriating all of our personnel, equipment and pouring billions of dollars into the sands of Iraq, George has made our country more vulnerable to attack by outside forces. Also, from the cold and callous statements of people like Michael Chertoff and George's own mama, the people of New Orleans seem to be "acceptable" collateral damage to the ruling elite of this country. It is my humble opinion that the only thing that will make America safer is to get George and his unfeeling and dangerously incompetent supporters out of our White House.

We all now know the reason that we are in Iraq. George told us so from a break he was taking from Crawford in San Diego on the same day that Katrina was hitting the Gulf States: it is for oil. It is so George, Dick, and their evil buddies can rape more profits from our children's flesh and blood. This is not a Noble Cause, as a matter of fact, it is the most ignoble cause for a war that has ever been waged. We as Americans knew either in the front of our brains, or in the back of our consciousness, that this war was to feed the corporations. 15 brave young Americans have been killed so far this month while our attention has been focused, and rightfully so, on the Gulf States. Over 200 innocent and unfortunate Iraqis have been killed in this week alone. How much more blood are we as Americans going to allow George, Congress, and the corporations to spill before we demand an end to this war and an accounting for the lives that have been needlessly ruined?

It is also time to stop hemorrhaging money in Iraq. I witnessed the abject poverty and sense of abandoment the less fortunate people of New Orleans were living in even before the levees broke. It is time to start pumping hope back into our own communities. It is time to start taking care of Americans. How many millions of our tax dollars are we going to allow George, Congress and the corporations to misuse and waste in Iraq?

Not one more drop of blood. Not one more life. Not one more penny for killing.

If you love our country and want to see a change for the better, come to DC on the 24 th of this month and stand up and be counted for peace. The entire world is counting on you.

Feds were l;ate says National Guard



WASHINGTON - Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.

But orders to move didn't reach key active military units for another three days.

Once they received them, it took just eight hours for 3,600 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi with vital search-and-rescue helicopters. Another 2,500 soon followed from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.




The Bush Economy


There was never any doubt prior to Katrina that, statistically, the paycheck-to-paycheck sector were the truly forgotten middle class, much poorer than 40 years ago, and according to a recent AC Nielsen survey, ranked a sorry #1 in the industrialized world when it comes to not having enough money left over after covering essential living expenses. 28% of Americans now claim to be living paycheck to paycheck, in worse shape than economic fiefdoms like Portugal (24%), and Brazil (23%), with an astounding 42% of Americans now making less than $25,000 a year. Most in that pay-grid (a favorite Cheney term, not mine) don’t have insurance or are woefully under-insured (new meaning has been given to that term by insurance carriers refusing ‘flood’ claims as separate, non-covered events in their hurricane policies) and a recent USA Today/Harvard School of Public Health survey revealed that 62% of Americans who consider themselves ‘struggling’ to pay medical bills are doing so despite having health coverage.

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Five People George W. Bush Should Meet in Heaven  

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Granted, some of these folks will be representative of an entire class, sort of like a heavenly version of a class action suit. As Bush meets these people, I’d like Laura to be there to explain how a “good man” is compatible with policies or actions related to these people.

#1. A representative of the 5 million people who have fallen into poverty during Bush’s first five years as president.
As Bush meets this person, it should be explained to him that people who are just above poverty level live paycheck to paycheck. Even a small rise in their cost of living can sink them financially. So these pennies-on-the-dollar raises in sales tax or health insurance or gas that have a moderate effect on wealthier people create a financial disaster for people in this class.

#2. A floating corpse from New Orleans. Or maybe the elderly woman who died in her wheelchair.

#3. Karla Faye Tucker. Yes, she was a murderer and according to the laws of Texas, she was legally put to death. But I would like Bush to explain to her how a Christian could mock a fellow Christian just before executing her.

#4. John Kerry. A merciful God would stand these men opposite each other and judge their souls and their personal merit. Let them be judged without spin, without slime, without lies. I don’t know how that comparison would turn out, but I like the idea of an irrefutable judgment day between the two of them.

#5. Casey Sheehan. He would represent the soldiers killed and the soldiers maimed in the unjustified war in Iraq. He would also represent all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, and children of those soldiers. And he would represent the thousands of Iraqis killed or wounded and their families. And Laura could stand there and explain how George is a good man.

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Now New Orleans is Occupied 

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I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

It is impossible to over-emphasize the extent to which this area is under government occupation, and portions of it under government-enforced lockdown. Police cars rule the streets. They (along with Humvees, ambulances, fire apparatus, FEMA trucks and all official-looking SUVs) are generally not stopped at checkpoints and roadblocks. All other vehicles are subject to long lines and snap judgments and must PROVE they have vital business inside the vast roped-off regions here. If we did not have the services of an off-duty law enforcement officer, we could not do our jobs in the course of a work day and get back in time to put together the broadcast and get on the air. As we are about to do.



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