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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More idiots 

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Europeans Don't Like What We Are Doing

European and American officials say Ms. Rice is beginning to realize that the issue has become so inflamed that she will probably have to prepare a more lengthy response before traveling to Europe next week.

"It's becoming one of the public issues she's going to have to address on her next trip," said a European official, asking not to be identified in discussing the delicate matter of pressures on the United States. "The mood in Europe is one of increasing concern over what people call the American 'gulag' and the reports of all these stopovers in Europe for prisoners."

European and administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity both out of protocol and because they are legally barred from discussing intelligence matters, say that no matter what has occurred, the standard practice of not commenting on clandestine operations has made the United States vulnerable to harsh, even potentially debilitating criticism.

"The truth is these are only allegations within newspapers at the moment, but they are allegations that are playing strongly in Europe," another European official said. "What European leaders are doing right now is asking questions and hoping for some clarifications."





Mainstream Media

Which brings us back to attention-span issues. Starting in March 1999, we spent five years presenting a mountain of information about the way the mainstream press corps waged its twenty-month War Against Gore. But career liberal writers have kept their mouths shut, and most American voters have heard nothing about this. (Instead, they constantly hear about the corps’ liberal bias.) This has set us up for another round, in which Clinton is slammed as two-faced and inauthentic while we hear about the deep heroics of principled men like Saints Rudy and John. Now that Kevin understands the problems caused by his incessant blogging, maybe he can go back and read through the mountains of information we provided about Campaign 2000. Citizens won’t recognize a new pro-GOP script if they’ve heard nothing about the old ones. What a shame—that Career Liberal Writers have been such good boys, compliantly keeping their traps tightly shut, keeping the voters barefoot and pregnant, setting us up for what may be to come.

Joe Scarborough said it: If anyone had treated a Republican hopeful the way the mainstream press treated Gore, we’d have heard all about their vile bias. But voters have been kept in the dark about Campaign 2000—setting them up for more spin.

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Fuck Cheney


The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed flight restrictions over Dick Cheney's new Maryland home, angering private pilots who say they can't fly overhead even when the vice president isn't around.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association spokesman Chris Dancy said Tuesday the FAA only imposes restrictions at Cheney's Jackson Hole, Wyo., home when he's there. He questioned the need to have the restrictions in place at all times over a home in Maryland, which has much more air traffic.


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Jesus H Christ 

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White House Watch: GOP advisers urge resignations in Abramoff scandal


As the Abramoff-Scanlon lobbying scandal unfolds with greater speed, congressional Republican advisers are urging leadership officials to call on those linked to it to consider resigning long before the 2006 midterm elections.


"They should step aside now," said one adviser with ties to the House Republican leadership and the White House. "If they leave now, we could still hold their seat."

GOP officials are worried that the lobbying affair could include more than a dozen lawmakers and potentially spell disaster for the Republican majority in the House. Political strategists said that if members suspected in it leave early enough, they won't become issues in the fall 2006 election. One Republican strategist cited the New Jersey governor's election, in which Democrat Jon Corzine was able to replace a scandal-hit Democratic governor, Jim McGreevey, who had resigned months earlier

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Torture Scandal Gets Worse


Former Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s recent declaration that the extent of human rights abuses in Iraq is the “same” as under Saddam Hussein is a devastating indictment of all those, including Allawi himself, who planned, organised and collaborated with the illegal US conquest of Iraq.

The invasion of March 2003, which the Bush administration cynically codenamed “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” is responsible for creating a nightmare of death squads, torture chambers, random bombings and fratricidal sectarian violence.

Allawi told the British-based Observer on Sunday: “People are doing the same as Saddam’s time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things. We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated. A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.”

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White Phosphorus Anyone?

The ongoing trial of Saddam Hussein could prove increasingly uncomfortable for the Bush administration. The first crime of which the deposed dictator is accused, the secret execution of 143 Shiites arrested in 1982, seems an odd choice for the prosecution, and politics may be behind it. Hussein is accused of using poison gas against Iranian troops, of genocide against the Kurds and of massacring tens of thousands to end the 1991 uprising after his defeat in the Gulf War. The problem for the Bush administration with these other, far graver charges, is that the Americans are implicated in them either through acts of commission or omission.

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Republicans Approve of Torture - What Does That tell You?

NEW YORK Most Americans believe that U.S. troops or officials have tortured prisoners in Iraq or other countries, and oppose the practice, even if it helps gain information on possible terrorist attacks, the Gallup Organization announced today in releasing poll results.

The survey found that 74% believe the U.S. has tortured prisoners, with 20% disagreeing--with storng majorities of both Democrats and Republicans holding that view.

Asked if they would be willing to have the U.S. torture suspected terrorists "if they may know details about future terrorist attacks against the U.S.," 56% said no, vs. 38% saying yes. The party gap is bigger here, with only 27% of Democrats signing off on torture in that case, vs. 51% of Republicans.

Gallup pointed out that while President Bush recently said, "We do not torture," most Americans "think otherwise."


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"Duke" Cunningham 

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I respect Duke Cunningham more than any Republican in the Congress. Yes, he took bribes. He also admitted it and apologized.

That's more than any of the decadent Repuglicans have ever done.

Duke was the top US fighter pilot in Vietnam. He shot down Col. Tomb, a North Vietnamese pilot who had shot down upwards of 40 US Aircraft.

He also, unlike all the chickenhawks: he actually served.


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Iraqis Love Cindy 

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The people of Fallujah love Cindy Sheehan," declared Farouk Abd-Muhammed, a candidate for National Assembly in Dec. 15 elections, referring to the mother of a slain Marine who became a U.S. antiwar activist. He spoke Tuesday at a pre-election meeting of local leaders in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, scene of the largest U.S. offensive of the war in November 2004.
Abd-Muhammed described watching recent television reports with his family showing Americans waving banners that read "Stop the war in Iraq."
"I salute the American people because we know after watching them on satellite that they are ready to leave," Abd-Muhammed said.
"We know that there are now voices, even in the Congress, that want America to leave Iraq as soon as possible," said Fawzi Muhammed, an engineer who is the deputy chairman of Fallujah's reconstruction committee. "It makes us feel very happy and comfortable because it is the only solution to the problems in Iraq." [snip]
The Americans said they called the meeting to discuss security, talk about what conditions would lead to a U.S. withdrawal from the province, and encourage Sunni participation in the upcoming national elections.
But the clerics in the audience said they came for one reason: They were told the Americans wanted to discuss plans for a U.S. military pullout.
"We want them to withdraw from the province," Muhammed Dulaimy, an Arabic professor at Ramadi's Anbar University, said as about 200 of the province's elders settled into their seats. "They called the meeting. We came to see why they are talking to us. We didn't come to talk about the election. If it's about the election, we'll leave."
The American pitch was simple: Encourage tribal members to join the military, so that Iraq's national forces can build to a strength that would allow U.S. forces to withdraw, and to discourage attacks on American and Iraqi forces.
The Anbar elders' demands were equally straightforward: Allow the tribes to build up their own army division for Anbar. Leave, and the attacks will stop.
Linguistic Divide
But the disconnect ran strong, and as always for Americans in Iraq, the inability to speak the language didn't help. Marine interpreters, Arabic speakers hired from outside Iraq, repeatedly bobbled the point.

people of Fallujah love Cindy Sheehan," declared Farouk Abd-Muhammed, a candidate for National Assembly in Dec. 15 elections, referring to the mother of a slain Marine who became a U.S. antiwar activist. He spoke Tuesday at a pre-election meeting of local leaders in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, scene of the largest U.S. offensive of the war in November 2004.
Abd-Muhammed described watching recent television reports with his family showing Americans waving banners that read "Stop the war in Iraq."
"I salute the American people because we know after watching them on satellite that they are ready to leave," Abd-Muhammed said.
"We know that there are now voices, even in the Congress, that want America to leave Iraq as soon as possible," said Fawzi Muhammed, an engineer who is the deputy chairman of Fallujah's reconstruction committee. "It makes us feel very happy and comfortable because it is the only solution to the problems in Iraq." [snip]
The Americans said they called the meeting to discuss security, talk about what conditions would lead to a U.S. withdrawal from the province, and encourage Sunni participation in the upcoming national elections.
But the clerics in the audience said they came for one reason: They were told the Americans wanted to discuss plans for a U.S. military pullout.
"We want them to withdraw from the province," Muhammed Dulaimy, an Arabic professor at Ramadi's Anbar University, said as about 200 of the province's elders settled into their seats. "They called the meeting. We came to see why they are talking to us. We didn't come to talk about the election. If it's about the election, we'll leave."
The American pitch was simple: Encourage tribal members to join the military, so that Iraq's national forces can build to a strength that would allow U.S. forces to withdraw, and to discourage attacks on American and Iraqi forces.
The Anbar elders' demands were equally straightforward: Allow the tribes to build up their own army division for Anbar. Leave, and the attacks will stop.
Linguistic Divide
But the disconnect ran strong, and as always for Americans in Iraq, the inability to speak the language didn't help. Marine interpreters, Arabic speakers hired from outside Iraq, repeatedly bobbled the point.




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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fuck Christopher Hitchens 

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Brilliant

Jack Daniels Best Friend says : "Those who said it was impossible, by definition, to have an alliance between Saddamists and fundamentalists might care to notice what they had utterly failed to foresee." (i.e. there is now an alliance of said groups in Iraq.)

Now, I feel strongly about what I am about to type, so as you read it, please imagine a thirty-something, slightly overweight political cartoonist with bad posture screaming it at the top of his lungs:

The question wasn't whether Saddamists and fundamentalists were BY DEFINITION incapable of forming an alliance; the question was whether Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship with al-Qaeda. The latter question was dishonestly answered in the affirmative by Dick Cheney and others in the run-up to the Iraq war. The former question is stupid ("by definition?") and nobody gave a damn about it. But now, thank God, because the Iraq war has been such a BLOODY, MISMANAGED DISASTER, we indeed know for sure that Saddamists and fundamentalists are capable of forming alliances! HOORAY! We possess a new factoid! The peaceniks "UTTERLY FAILED TO FORESEE" this alliance! It's almost like they had no idea what tragic consequences would spiral out of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Thank Christ it was President Bush planning the war, and not those menopausal ninnies at Code Pink.

There's nothing more wrenching than polemicists' cries for intelligent debate once their pies in the sky are demolished by facts on the ground.

Afternoon 

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You pay For Cheney’s Think Tank Speeches

In a report this month, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity said Cheney and his staff have sidestepped regulations that require annual reporting of travel expenses of more than $250 received from outside groups. The center, which focuses on ethics and public service issues, said previous vice presidents routinely disclosed such payments for lodging, travel and food when the veep and his staff made appearances at colleges, think tanks and trade associations.

"The private sector reimburses elected officials and bureaucrats for such trips, but laws require officials to disclose where they went, how much it costs and who paid for it," the report said, citing provisions found in Section 1353 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

Cheney's office says nothing is amiss. In three letters since 2002 to the Office of Government Ethics, which collects the travel reports, David S. Addington, then Cheney's general counsel, noted that the reporting requirement applies to the "head of each agency of the executive branch."


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reporters 3rd trip to Iraq shows it’s worse off than 2 years ago



This time, Powell's bubble -- and ours -- was much smaller. America's top diplomat didn't leave the Green Zone and U.S. security wouldn't let the press out, either. I did manage to travel inside the four-square-mile zone with then-Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih to his residence.

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Bush will change course on Wednesday


Brace yourself for a mind-bog of sheer cynicism. The discombobulation begins Wednesday, when President George W. Bush is expected to proclaim, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, that the Iraqi security forces—which only a few months ago were said to have just one battalion capable of fighting on its own—have suddenly made uncanny progress in combat readiness. Expect soon after (if not during the speech itself) the thing that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have, just this month, denounced as near-treason—a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.

And so it appears (assuming the forecasts about the speech are true) that the White House is as cynical about this war as its cynical critics have charged it with being. For several months now, many of these critics have predicted that, once the Iraqis passed their constitution and elected a new government, President Bush would declare his mission complete and begin to pull out—this, despite his public pledge to "stay the course" until the insurgents were defeated.

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The worm has turned 

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I now confidently believe that while the Bush Administration still has the power to continue destroying America, despite this, we are now watching the slow motion meltdown of the Bush Administration.

Now the news is out that there is good evidence that Bush indeed did negotiate the bombing of Al Jazeera. The people who we are torturing are rounding up lawyers and filing petitions across Europe to prosecute our leaders.

The more the news about the perfidiousness of this administration will just make more enemies, and embolden them. The more the economic underpinnings of our massive debt, the more resistance we see across the world to accomodate our economic authority, abide by our own tariffs and rely on the dollar to make everythying better.

My guess is that Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and W will one day find that they cannot go to Europe because there are warrants out for their arrests. We will see days when Italy or France says, OK, you can visit Europe, but only a chosen few. Our executives will dread going to Europe and hearing the questions and seeing the contempt in their eyes as they look at us.

I will bet you that Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are gone before the end of the administration.

I predict that we will see a stubborn president refuse to end the war and the Repuglicans will pay for it for the rest of their lives.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Poet Sharon Olds Said No To Laura  

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From Kos



The letter that follows is an open letter from the poet Sharon Olds to Laura Bush declining the invitation to read and speak at the National Book Critics Circle Award in Washington, DC. Sharon Olds, winner of National Book Critics Circle Award and professor of creative writing at NYU, was invited along with a number of other writers by First Lady Laura Bush to read from their works.


Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House. In one way, it's a very appealing invitation.
tkn10015's diary :: ::


The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers.

Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.

When you have witnessed someone nonspeaking and almost nonmoving spell out, with a toe, on a big plastic alphabet chart, letter by letter, his new poem, you have experienced, close up, the passion and essentialness of writing. When you have held up a small cardboard alphabet card for a writer who is completely nonspeaking and nonmoving (except for the eyes), and pointed first to the A, then the B, then C, then D, until you get to the first letter of the first word of the first line of the poem she has been composing in her head all week, and she lifts her eyes when that letter is touched to say yes, you feel with a fresh immediacy the human drive for creation, self-expression, accuracy, honesty and wit--and the importance of writing, which celebrates the value of each person's unique story and song.

So the prospect of a festival of books seemed wonderful to me. I thought of the opportunity to talk about how to start up an outreach program. I thought of the chance to sell some books, sign some books and meet some of the citizens of Washington, DC.

I thought that I could try to find a way, even as your guest, with respect, to speak about my deep feeling that we should not have invaded Iraq, and to declare my belief that the wish to invade another culture and another country-with the resultant loss of life and limb for our brave soldiers, and for the noncombatants in their home terrain--did not come out of our democracy but was instead a decision made "at the top" and forced on the people by distorted language, and by untruths. I hoped to express the fear that we have begun to live in the shadows of tyranny and religious chauvinism--the opposites of the liberty, tolerance and diversity our nation aspires to.

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. 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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More oy 

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War Will Get Worse


"We're not planning to diminish the war," Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told me. Clawson's views often mirror the thinking of the men and women around Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting -- Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of airpower. The rule now is to commit Iraqi forces into combat only in places where they are sure to win. The pace of commitment, and withdrawal, depends on their success in the battlefield."

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Cheney Losing His Moorings

Dick Cheney was the misleader in chief prior to the war in Iraq, and in a recent speech in which he chastised people for suggesting that, he made yet another whopper of a misleading statement.

"Those who advocate a sudden withdrawal from Iraq should answer a few simple questions," Cheney said, such as whether the United States would be "better off or worse off" with terror leaders like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri in control of Iraq.

Dearly beloved, that is akin to saying that if Eliot Ness hadn't come along, Al Capone would have been the dictator of the United States. Zarqawi is a miserable little terrorist with a small band of fanatical followers and a life span that is shrinking by the day. To suggest that there was even a remote possibility of him taking control of Iraq is, well, grossly misleading. Zarqawi is a Jordanian, not an Iraqi; he has been denounced by his tribe and his family; and he has killed more Iraqis than Americans. It is just a matter of time before some Iraqi drops a dime on him and he's packed off to Islamic hell.

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Neo Cons Have Struck Before



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Oy 

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Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

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Bush "remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq," according to The New Yorker magazine.
Deaf To The Truth..... President Bush will hear no evil on the Iraq war - even when the bad news comes from military brass and top government officials, a new report says.


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In or Out of Iraq?

If no more troops are going in, and the only question is, how many U.S. and coalition troops are coming out, starting after the December elections, the conclusion seems inescapable: The United States is disengaging from the Iraq war before victory is at hand, or even in sight. Hence, a defeat, not of American arms, but of the U.S. policy in Iraq, is now a distinct possibility.

The signs America has had enough are everywhere. Bill Clinton now calls the war a "big mistake," an opinion shared by 60 percent of the nation. Thirty-nine Senate Democrats voted for an exit strategy, with timetables. Half the country wants withdrawals to begin. Only a third of the nation approves of Bush's war leadership, while 42 percent, in a Pew poll, want America to start minding her own business.

Bush has three years left, but the time is approaching when debate on a new U.S. foreign policy for the post-Bush era must begin. One lesson from this war is already clear: Americans will not long support spilling the blood of their soldier sons in a war for ideals like democracy in the Arab world unless they are convinced national security or U.S. vital interests are imperiled.

Months back, as opponents of the war became the majority, I predicted a Gene McCarthy would rise to lead the antiwar movement. No one expected it to be Rep. John Murtha, a combat veteran with 37 years in Marine Corps service. But Murtha's emotional call for withdrawal has proven a catalyst for Congress and the country.

The argument suddenly seems over and the nation appears to have reached a consensus: earliest possible withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, consistent with the avoidance of a strategic disaster.

But here is the rub: We are not going to get out of Iraq without suffering terrible consequences for having gone in. And when we come out, we no longer control what goes on within.

Once we depart, there is no guarantee the insurgents will be defeated, no guarantee that thousands of those who cast their lot with us will not be massacred, no guarantee Iraq will remain one nation, no guarantee there will not be chaos and civil war.

There is no guarantee that after having invested $200 to $300 billion and the lives of thousands of splendid young Americans, we will not end up with an Iraq that is a strategic ally of Iran and a Sunni Triangle that is a base camp and training camp for terrorists larger than the one we destroyed in Afghanistan.

The impending U.S. troop withdrawals are a roll of the dice, demanded by the American people and now acceded to by the Bush administration. No one can know for sure what the dice will deliver.

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Scott McClellans Credibility Gap


But even if McClellan resigns, the White House will still need to offer a public accounting of the circumstances that led to the October 7, 2003, briefing where McClellan said Rove and Libby "were not involved" in the leak.

Without a full explanation, McClellan's successor could face a similar credibility gap. "I hope the credibility is restored because the next person is going to be in a pretty tough position if [it's not]," Byars says. "They'll be responding to the same questions that Scott was responding to. Until a White House official comes out and restores that microphone's credibility, that job will always be responding to that question."

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Aaron Freeman on Quitters 

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I’m not going to argue with the Vice President; Representative John Murtha is a patriot and granite on the side of the US soldier. But there are these other nattering nabobs of negativity. They always blame America first. When some Islamist excuse maker claims that “The perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” We can’t let—well actually that was George Casey, Commanding General of the Multinational Task Force in Iraq.

OK, but the bad guys want us to think regular Iraqis want us to just leave. The enemies of Iraqi democracy claim, “The great desire of the Iraqi people is to see the coalition forces on their way out.” Alright… that was the elected Prime Minister of Iraq Ibrahim Jaffari.

But whatever Iraqi leaders may think, the important thing is that our American leaders remain resolute and optimistic here at home. We have to send the right messages. So when you’ve got liberals throwing in the towel already, getting on national media saying, “the coalition is not going to defeat the insurgency.” ... To tell the truth, that was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on NPR.

But at least, every now and then, the press will report some positive news about the spread of democracy. I found this gem from a bit ago in The New York Times: “United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in the election despite a terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from the Capitol, 83 percent of the registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the terrorists. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in the President’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.”

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Oy veys mere 

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I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in the Army Reserve and National Guard units... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country.
— Colin Powell


“I think none of us can really understand Bob’s silence for two years about his own role in the case...
....He’s explained it by saying he did not want to become involved and did not want to face a subpoena, but he left his editor, our editor, blind-sided for two years and he went out and talked disparagingly about the significance of the investigation without disclosing his role in it. Those are hard things to reconcile."

Wahington Post Journalist David Brooks


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Nine Iraqi Vets Run

Sunday, November 27, 2005

thanks to ThinkProgress 

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[T]hat specific quote there where you say he couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t saying that they were linked at all. He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn’t saying that they would like to use al Qaeda. So you’re making a link there that the President never made.

Chris Wallace, Fox News, November 27th, 2005



Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. And an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases.

George W Bush, Feb 8 2003

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White House Suddenly has withdrawal plan 

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WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House has for the first time claimed ownership of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.



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Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Big Bluff 

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Unwilling as ever to admit any mistakes, or give the 2-digit IQ/33% backers of Bush a chance to see weakness, the Bush administratin is preparing to draw down troops.

In public it's all a big fucking show. "Won't leave until the job is done.....yada yada yada."

But behind close curtains, the Pentagon has put its foot down and said let's get the fuck out.

Beyond that it's all bluster, and of course some hope that the Rethuglicans will pull out in time to save thier own asses in the midterms.


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Friday, November 25, 2005

Oy veys mere 

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This is America Boys


Hello all. This is Jeff Seemann. Yes, the real Jeff posting under his own screenname. Jenn, Michelle and January have all been alerted.

I'm all finished, as of 6pm Wednesday night. 72 hours into it, I had to go home. Didn't want to, but had to. I was approached by a police cruiser and was told that I had to go home or be arrested for vagrancy (originally, the charge was loitering, but the officer misspoke and clarified it during our conversation).

The officer was very nice, and told me that I had to find shelter or I was going to jail right away. I had checked with a shelter earlier in the day, and they did not have any open space for the night. Yes, there were other options, but I wouldn't know if I could get in until about 10pm. I explained this to the officer, and he told me that I would have to go to jail if I didn't already have a place to sleep inside. I believe the police were doing a sweep of the streets. They were not being aggressive, I think they were just getting everybody inside. It's getting very bad out here tonight, LOTS of snow on the ground, and temperatures dropping fast.

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Hard to beleive this appeared in MSM


How Ragtag Insurgents Beat the World's Sole Superpower

Most Americans were unaware that we had botched Afghanistan; most still are. I watched the Pentagon send in a miniscule 8,000-troop complement where, according to its top strategists, at least half a million occupation soldiers (stationed for at least 20 years) would have been needed to control the nation's roads, pacify the provinces and establish the security essential for building an economy and political system. Banditry and looting soon made the average Afghan nostalgic for the security that accompanies tyranny. On the other hand, since U.S. soldiers quickly gained a reputation for shoving, kidnapping, robbing and even torturing innocent Afghans, perhaps their small number was a good thing.

If Afghanistan was a dry run, I observed at the time, there was little reason to expect that Iraq would turn out less disastrously. But no one, especially not the newspaper editors who'd been conned into supporting the Fourth Afghan War, wanted to hear that argument.

Four years later, little has improved. Most Afghans, Peter Baker wrote recently in The Washington Post, "still grind out the subsistence lives they did under the Taliban." Women still wear the burqa. "Corruption is widespread," The Week reports. "Outside Kabul, the country functions like a group of independent fiefdoms from the Middle Ages." Ordinary Afghans "are angry at the continuing war, the widespread malnutrition, and the snail's pace of progress."

As I'd feared he would, Donald Rumsfeld deployed the same low-rent approach to Iraq. There were too few troops to secure the Iraqis or themselves. As inexperienced weekend warriors shot up carloads of civilians from rooftops above invisible checkpoints, it soon became apparent that our forces were undereducated, poorly trained and excessively preoccupied with their own safety. The Americans' cultural insensitivity, often beyond the point of brutality, transformed people grateful to be liberated into insurgents in a matter of months.

Now even the hawks say that Iraq is lost. "The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily," admitted Representative John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), a Vietnam vet who sparked the serious debate Congress ought to have held back in 2002--when he voted for the war. "It is time to bring them home."

Thomas Edelman, whose letter to the editor appeared in the New York Times the same day Murtha's speech rocked the House of Representatives, articulates the last logical reason not to cut and run. "Regurgitating the notion of 'dancing Iraqis throwing flowers before American tanks' has no merit when the brutal enemy to be defeated assumes with good reason that it is bound to win. All it has to do is to wait us out," he wrote.

True, Iraqi resistance factions would wait for us to leave before turning on each other. Then again, isn't that what they're doing now?

Edelman again: "The rhetoric of aspersions cast on our leaders for having deliberately misled us; the repeated dangling of terrible mistakes; and the rumblings about the impatience of the American people not only give the terrorists hope but also convince them that what is in their minds a weak and contemptible society of 'infidels' lacks the fortitude to see its mission completed."

He's partly right: If the United States could prevail against its fearsome Axis foes in World War II, it could surely beat--even after countless errors of omission and commission--a rag-tag assortment of ad hoc cells of moonlighting jihadis. But if wealth, education and weaponry were the sole determining factors in war, we would have won Vietnam. What was missing was political will.

Edelman's plea for compartmentalization is appealing, but we can't separate the way we went into Iraq from the challenge we face now. Winning a war requires a politically unified society, something the United States hasn't enjoyed since 1945. Since then our fractured nation has been unable to summon the unity to issue a formal declaration of war, much less win one. Bush-era America is highly fractured. Because the Administration can't count on most citizens to help, it has had to fight its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the cheap.

After 2000 most Americans told the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll that Bush had not won "fair and square." After 2004, the pollsters found, "the nation seemed nearly as divided as it had been in Bush's first election." How can he convince the half of the country that considers him an illegitimate usurper to risk their lives, or those of their sons and daughters? How can he get them to tighten their belts for a real war effort--one with sufficient troop strength to win?

Bush might have earned Democrats' fealty after the disputed 2000 election by convening a sort of national unity government, one that recognized the deep and even ideological divide in the electorate, appointed Democrats to key cabinet posts and ruled from the center. Bush's radical-right policies and appointees, coupled with his habit of impugning his critics as traitors, instead increased the alienation of those who thought he'd cheated. "Not my president," the bumper-sticker read. And not their war.

The Republicans' decision to forego consensus made it easy to start their war. It also made it impossible to win.

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Fuck Republicans. I mean really. 

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Innocent Child Executed

Texas executed its fifth teenage offender at 22 minutes after midnight on Aug. 24, 1993, after his last request for bubble gum had been refused and his final claim of innocence had been forever silenced.

Ruben Cantu, 17 at the time of his crime, had no previous convictions, but a San Antonio prosecutor had branded him a violent thief, gang member and murderer who ruthlessly shot one victim nine times with a rifle before emptying at least nine more rounds into the only eyewitness -- a man who barely survived to testify.

Four days after a Bexar County jury delivered its verdict, Cantu wrote this letter to the residents of San Antonio: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case."

A dozen years after his execution, a Houston Chronicle investigation suggests that Cantu, a former special-ed student who grew up in a tough neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, was likely telling the truth.

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Will Likely All Be Indicted

Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, Rep. John Doolittle of California and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana

Criticism Is Not Treason 

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"One might also argue," Vice President Cheney said in a speech on Monday, "that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort." That would certainly be an ugly and demagogic argument, were one to make it. After all, if untruthful charges against the president hurt the war effort (by undermining public support and soldiers' morale), then those charges will hurt the war effort even more if they happen to be true. So one would be saying in effect that any criticism of the president is essentially treason.
Lest one fear that he might be saying that, Cheney immediately added, "I'm unwilling to say that" -- "that" being what he had just said. He generously granted critics the right to criticize (as did the president this week). Then he resumed hurling adjectives like an ape hurling coconuts at unwanted visitors. "Dishonest." "Reprehensible." "Corrupt." "Shameless." President Bush and others joined in, all morally outraged that anyone would accuse the administration of misleading us into war by faking a belief that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear and/or chemical and biological weapons.
Interestingly, the administration no longer claims that Hussein actually had such weapons at the time Bush led the country into war in order to eliminate them. "The flaws in the intelligence are plain enough in hindsight," Cheney said on Monday. So-called WMD (weapons of mass destruction) were not the only argument for the war, but the administration thought they were a crucial argument at the time. So the administration now concedes that the country went to war on a false premise. Doesn't that mean that the war was a mistake no matter where the false premise came from?

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Letter From Ramadi 

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Paul,

I wish I had the time or energy or memory capacity to describe to you how wrong this whole thing has gone. It's just as you described it a couple years ago. We *can* make a difference here, and i believe in the mission as it looks on paper. But your president and his brain-dead colleagues aren't even trying to give us what we need to do it. the add-on armor HMMWVs are a joke. The terrorists target them b/c they know they offer no protection. The M1114s have good armor, but every time we lose one (i had one blown up monday, driver had his femoral artery cut -- will recover fully -- b/c there apparently is no armor or very weak armor under the pedals) it's impossible to replace them. So now I have to send yet another add-on armored vehicle outside the wire daily. The M1114s also have certain mechanical defects, known to the manufacturer, for which there is apparently no known fix. For example, on some of them (like mine) if it stalls or you turn it off, you cannot restart it if the engine is hot. We have to dump 3 liters of cold water on a solenoid in order to start it again. Not that much fun when your vehicle won't start in indian country. I wonder if DoD is getting a refund for the contract. Speaking of contracts, KBR is a joke. I can't even enumerate the problems with their service, but I guarantee they do not receive less money based on how many of the showers don't work, or how many of us won't eat in the chow hall often because we get sick every time we do.

There is so much. I could go on forever. the worst thing, which we have discussed, is that they are playing these bullshit numbers games to fool America about troop strength. If they stopped paying KBR employees $100,000 to do the job of a $28,000 soldier, maybe they'd have enough money to send us enough soldiers to do the job. As it stands we have no offensive capability in the most dangerous city on earth. General Shinseki should write an Op/Ed that basically says, "I told you so." Idiots.

Where are the AC-130s? The apaches? They have them in FAR less active AOs (areas of operations). All we ever get is a single Huey and Cobra team, both of which are older than I am. it's such a joke. They're not even trying. At all. They have apaches in Tikrit but Hueys in Ramadi.

I wish every american could see this for him/herself. Registering your frustration at the ballot box isn't nearly enough. There should be jail terms for this.


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Hope you had a great holiday 

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Torturer Gets His Comeuppance

SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - One day before his 90th birthday, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was under house arrest on Thursday and facing tax fraud and human rights charges in his toughest legal situation yet.
ADVERTISEMENT

On Wednesday, Pinochet was placed under house arrest and charged with tax fraud, forging passports and documents, and incomplete reporting of his assets in a case involving an estimated $27 million hid in foreign bank accounts.

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Norman Solomon Says


Countless pundits and politicians continue to decry the Bush administration's failure to come up with an effective strategy in Iraq. But the war has not gone wrong. It was always wrong. And the basic problem with the current US war effort is that it exists.


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Kevin Drum says 

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THE MORAL ARGUMENT AGAINST TORTURE....Over at Unfogged, Ogged picks up on my biggest frustration with the current state of the torture debate: namely that it's almost impossible to convincingly make the moral case against torture to anyone who's not already predisposed to think it's immoral. Stripped to its core, I realize that the only real argument I have against torture is "But don't you see that it's wrong? Don't you?" And that's just immensely frustrating, because if you don't see it then I have no ammunition left.

I wish I could do better. In the end, though, the strongest argument I can make is the one Dick Durbin made: if you didn't know better when you hear about U.S. practices in the war on terror, you'd think we were talking about Nazi Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union — and a big part of the reason that we judge those regimes to have been immoral was because of their use of routine, state sanctioned torture. Is that really the company we want to keep?

I supposed it's best not to feel too frustrated, though. Changing public opinion takes a long time, and continual repetition of the simple assertion that torture is morally repugnant — along with public disclosure of how commonplace it's become — might eventually do the trick even if movement in the right direction often seems imperceptible.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving everyone 

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Dread


FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq — A handful of Delta Company soldiers leaned against a barracks wall the other night, smoking. The subject of conversation: what limb they would rather part with, if they had a choice. On the door of a portable toilet a few feet away, someone was keeping the company death toll amid a scribble of obscenities: five KIA.


This nightmare has just begun


The war in Iraq is still in its early stages and US and British troops are likely to be bogged down in the conflict for decades, a report by the Oxford Research Group said on Wednesday.

The independent think tank’s report will make unwelcome reading for the British and US governments, both of which have indicated that they hope to begin reducing the number of troops in Iraq after the next Iraqi parliamentary elections in December.

Under growing pressure from domestic opponents of the war, both governments have suggested that the improved capabilities of the Iraqi security forces - now numbering 200,000 - may allow them to reduce their military commitment in Iraq next year.

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Oy veys mere 

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Our Lazy Fucking Press

“The problem is that people aren’t publishing the work,” said Stefan Zaklin of the European Pressphoto agency. Mr. Zaklin recalled taking a picture of a fallen U.S. Army captain during the November 2004 assault on Falluja. The soldiers, he said, “were O.K. with me taking that picture,” and it ran in Paris Match, the Bangkok Post, and on page 1 of Germany’s Bild-Zeitung, Europe’s highest-circulation newspaper. Its only exposure in the U.S., he said, was a two-hour spin on MSNBC.

“The U.S. press is even worse in terms of not publishing the complete story,” Mr. Zaklin said, “and I think it’s because of the perceived taste or tolerance levels of their audience.”

“Corporations don’t want and don’t feel particularly a responsibility to aggressively rock the boat,” said Michael Kirk, a documentary producer working for PBS’s Frontline. “I think that’s certainly true. Why would Viacom want to rock the boat?”…

…. If the public mood about the war is turning, it is turning less on the work of the press and more on the outrage of Mr. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and combat veteran who called for the troops to be withdrawn as soon as practicable. The Bush administration, which never hesitates to lash back at critical stories in the media, was left praising Mr. Murtha’s credentials while trying to counter his complaint.





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Rice vs Times


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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

This is not going away 

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PARIS - The head of an investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe said Tuesday he was checking 31 suspect planes that landed in Europe in recent years and was trying to acquire past satellite images of sites in Romania and Poland.

If the European probe uncovers evidence of covert facilities, the potential impact ranges from major embarrassment for the United States to political turmoil in countries that might have participated, even unwittingly. Countries found housing secret detention centers also could be suspended or expelled from the 46-member Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog organization.



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Jean Schmidt’s Mouth 

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WASHINGTON - Three days after Rep. Jean Schmidt was booed off the House floor for saying that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do," the Ohioan she quoted disputed the comments.

Danny Bubp, a freshman state representative who is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, told The Enquirer that he never mentioned Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., by name when talking with Schmidt, and he would never call a fellow Marine a coward.

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no way out 

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Cheney's umbrage aside, there are legitimate questions about whether the nation was snowed into a costly war. Even if you give the administration the benefit of the doubt and assume that the prewar intelligence failures stemmed from incompetence, not dishonesty, there's still no defense for the mistakes that were made in the conduct of the war. And the abuses that have been committed in the name of the United States -- arbitrary and indefinite detention, wholesale flouting of the Geneva Conventions, a string of secret prisons, interrogation by torture, Abu Ghraib -- should result in more people being sent to jail than a couple of ill-trained enlisted reservists.

No way out
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oy 

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We might need to bomb just to leave


In the United States, while the lies behind the Iraq war become ever more obvious and victory seems increasingly unreachable, much of the opposition to the war has focused on the death and suffering among US soldiers. That emphasis has a sharp political edge at home, but it can also cut another way - defining the war as primarily deplorable because of what it is doing to Americans. One danger is that a process of withdrawing some US troops could be accompanied by even more use of US air power that terrorizes and kills with escalating bombardment (as happened in Vietnam for several years after President Nixon announced his "Guam Doctrine" of Vietnamization in mid-1969). An effective anti-war movement must challenge the jingo-narcissism that defines the war as a problem mainly to the extent that it harms Americans.

Countless pundits and politicians continue to decry the Bush administration's failure to come up with an effective strategy in Iraq. But the war has not gone wrong. It was always wrong. And the basic problem with the current US war effort is that it exists.

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Generals, Not Bush Want Withdrawal


There's much analysis out there about what might have motivated a hawk like John Murtha to come out against the war.

I think what we're seeing is the uniformed military saying "enough," and Murtha's the messenger.

Turns out it WAS for oil



LONDON (Reuters) - Big oil firms may rob Iraq of billions and grab control of its oilfields unless ordinary Iraqis can have a greater say in how their country's riches are tapped, U.S. and British campaigners said on Tuesday.



Big oil is being lured by the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), promoted by Washington and London, which gives them huge returns on investment, but deprives Iraq of up to $194 billion (113 billion pounds), according to "Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth".

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OK. They are asking us to leave nicely.

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Predictions 

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By the end of Bush's term, Cheney, Rove, and Rummy will be out of office.


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Scroll Down For Magazine Cover 


Go here, too, insomniacs!!! 


Go Here Everyday 


Monday, November 21, 2005

Superpower? 

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Maybe the clearest sign of our "superpower" status was that the right wing and the press could beat up on Bill Clinton with absolutely no effect on US power or the perception of US power. Beating up on Bill Clinton was a kind of parlor game that the participants cared about, but was in the end of no international import. The most surprising thing, then, about the last five years is how quickly and absolutely the US has ceased to be a superpower.

We are a country that can no longer pay our bills, no longer wage an effective military action, and no longer protect our citizens from disaster. And it doesn't matter what fiscal responsibility individuals show, what bravery individual soldiers show, or what generosity individual Americans show. As a nation-as a geopolitical entity-we have been stripped of all of our superpowers and many of our powers, and it has been done quickly and efficiently, in the name of blind patriotism, by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and their neocon advisors. The very powers that these people thought they were going to enjoy exercising have slipped out of their grasp. It's laughable now to remember the name of the campaign against Baghdad, "Shock and Awe". No one in Iraq feels any "shock and awe" toward the US presence there any longer. "Fear and Loathing" is more like it.

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Senator Byrd’s Unedited Speech 

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Mr. President, if we look out the window in most of our great country, we can witness the season change. The air has become crisp with autumnal chill. The leaves on the trees change color: from the exuberant, green lushness of the summer months, to the tired brown, yellow and red of autumn, much like the graying hair of a man advancing in age.

Nature can sometimes mimic human events with a subtlety that no words can quite convey. As our country heads into the season that is celebrated with the love of family and home, Americans should also look across the landscape of America and reflect upon the loss of so many young Americans in the twelve months since autumn last fell upon us. In the past year, more than 820 service members have lost their lives in Iraq.

The evening news features pictures of American troops who have perished in service to our country. I am struck by these colorful mosaics of these troops: the green and blue of their uniforms, set against the background of the bold colors of our flag. Each of these proud troops holds an expression of pride and courage, even though many of them appear to be so young - - 18 or 19 years old.

I can only imagine the grief of their loving families during this time of the year, as the somber tones of fall contrast with the joy of being with family during the upcoming holidays. I pray that God will comfort those who have suffered losses, that He will bless the fallen in their everlasting life, and that His hand will protect those who still serve in harm's way.

That so many have sacrificed during this war in Iraq is reason enough to ask questions about our government's policy in that faraway country. Our troops continue to shed their blood, and our nation continues to devote enormous sums of our national wealth, to continue that war. Whether one supported or opposed the war at its outset: no American must ever surrender the right to question the government.

The Constitution protects the American people from unjust laws that seek to stifle the patriotic duty to question those who are in power, but it is the courage of the American people that compels them to actually speak out when those in power call for silence. If anything, attacks on the patriotism of freedom-loving Americans may result in even more Americans fighting against attempts to squelch the Constitutional protections of freedom.

Since our country was sent to war on March 19, 2003, two thousand and seventy-three Americans have been killed. Nearly 16,000 troops have been wounded. Our military is straining under the repeated deployment of our troops, including the members of the National Guard. More than $214 billion has been spent in Iraq. Urban combat takes place each and every day in Baghdad. Veterans hospitals in our own country are threatened by budget shortfalls. And yet, Americans are still left to wonder, when will our brave troops be coming home?

I opposed the war in Iraq from the outset. But our troops were ordered to go to Iraq, and they went. The question is now: When will they come home? The Administration has so far laid out only a vague policy, saying our troops will come home when the Iraqi government is ready to take responsibility for its country. That sort of political doublespeak is small comfort to the mothers and fathers of our fighting men and women.

Wednesday evening, the Vice President of the United States even claimed that criticism of the Administration's war in Iraq was "dishonest and reprehensible." The Vice President's comments come on the heels of comments from President Bush, who said, "What bothers me is when people are irresponsibly using their positions and playing politics. That's exactly what is taking place in America."

The President and the Vice President need to reread the Constitution. Asking questions, seeking honesty and truth, and pressing for accountability is exactly what the Framers had in mind. Questioning policies and practices, especially ones that have cost this nation more than 2,000 of her bravest sons and daughters, is a responsibility of every American. It is also a central role of Congress. We are the elected representatives of the American people. We are the men and women who are tasked with seeking the truth. But instead of working with the Congress, instead of clearing the air, the White House falls back to the irksome practice of attack, attack, attack, obscure, obscure, obscure.

The American people are tired of these reprehensible tactics. Circling the wagons will not serve this Administration well. What the people demand are the facts. They want their elected leaders to level with them. And, when it comes to the war in Iraq, this Administration seems willing to do anything it can to avoid the truth -- a truth that I believe will reveal that the Bush Administration manipulated the facts in order to lead this nation on the road to war.

The Administration claims that the Congress had the same intelligence as the President before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that there was no misrepresentation of the intelligence. But neither claim is true.

The intelligence agencies are in the control of the White House. All information given to the Congress was cleared through the White House, and the President had access to an enormous amount of data never shared with the Congress. There was a filter over the intelligence information that the Congress received, and that filter was the Administration which was actively engaged in hyping the danger and lusting after this war in Iraq. Remember the talk of weapons of mass destruction, mushroom clouds, and unmanned drones? The so-called proof for war was massaged before it was sent to the Congress to scare members and leaked to reporters to scare the people.

No independent commission has stated that the case for war was indisputable. Commissions have looked at how the intelligence fell short. But none have yet examined possible political manipulation.

Even the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence stalled in its examination of possible White House manipulation. My colleague from West Virginia, the Ranking Member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller, is rightly pressing for answers.

Right now, we are engaged in a mission with no definition. That is troubling, because without a clearly defined mission it is impossible to determine when our mission is truly accomplished.

This week, the United States Senate had the opportunity to establish some very basic benchmarks for progress in Iraq, benchmarks that would have clearly outlined goals and provided accountability in meeting them. The proposal, offered by the Senior Senator from Michigan, Senator Levin, was a modest, flexible approach that would have given our troops, their families, the American people, and the Iraqi people some basic guide posts. Unfortunately, the Senate could not see the wisdom of this approach.

It is vital that we have benchmarks against which to gauge our progress. That is how we can measure effectiveness and, most importantly, how we know when the job is done.

The Administration's strategy of keeping our troops in Iraq for "as long as it takes" is the wrong strategy. Who knows how long it will take for the Iraqi government to institute order in that fractured country?

Unfortunately, the questions that the American people are asking about the missteps and mistakes in the war in Iraq are not being answered by the Administration. Vice President Cheney has dismissed these important questions as "making a play for political advantage in the middle of a war."

Perhaps the Vice President should question White House aides about using war for political advantage. For example, on January 19, 2002, the Washington Post reported that Karl Rove advised Republicans to "make the president's handling of the war on terrorism the centerpiece of their strategy to win back the Senate and keep control of the House in this year's midterm elections." Does the Vice President have anything to say about that?

The Vice President also lashed out at those who might deceive our troops: "The saddest part is that our people in uniform have been subjected to these cynical and pernicious falsehoods day in and day out." Was the Vice President was trying to clarify some of his past statements on Iraq?

On March 24, 2002, the Vice President said that Iraq "is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time."

On August 26, 2002, the Vice President said, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

On March 16, 2003, the Vice President said, "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."

Are these the "pernicious falsehoods" that the Vice President believes our troops have been subjected to? That is, of course, a rhetorical question. Far from questioning his own statements about the war in Iraq, the Vice President's comments are a ham-handed attempt to squelch the questions that the American people are asking about the Administration's policies in Iraq. The American people should not be cowed by these attempts to intimidate us. The American people should not allow the subject to be changed from the war in Iraq to partisan sniping in Washington. Instead, the American people must raise their voices even louder to ask the Administration the same simple questions: What is your policy for Iraq? When will the war be over? How many more lives will this war cost? And when will our troops return home?

Mr. President, the holiday season is almost upon us. Americans will soon gather together to give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon our families. But as we gather, there will be an empty seat at many tables. Some chairs will be empty because a service member is serving his country in a faraway land. Other seats will be empty as a silent tribute to those who will never return.

Each of these troops has fought to protect our freedoms, including the freedom of Americans to ask questions of their government -- the people's government.

The whole picture -- the truth -- is that the continued occupation of Iraq only serves to drive that country closer to civil war. American troops are now perceived as occupiers not liberators. The longer we stay, the more dangerous Iraq becomes, and the more likely it is that we will drive the future government farther from a democratic republic and closer to religious fundamentalism and, not insignificantly, the more American and Iraqi lives will be lost.

I for one believe that it is time to say "well done" to our brave fighting men and women. May Almighty God bless them -- one and all. Let's say, job well done, and start to bring the troops home.



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idiots again 

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As the worm turns


To say the least, the debate in the US House of Representatives on the 18th of November was interesting, in a pathetic sort of way. Republicans took the floor vocalizing the desires of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld to stay in Iraq until it is truly conquered; and the Democrats whined, calling the GOP resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of US forces from a Iraq a political ploy. Words and accusations flew and some members had to be restrained. A couple higher level military officers supposedly called their congresspeople asking that Congress continue to fund and support the imperial folly that is the Iraq war. Members who served in the last major US military folly in Vietnam had their patriotism called into question by other members who never wore combat fatigues in their lives unless it was in a paintball game. As usual, nobody asked the US voters or the men and women killing in dying in the war itself..

title goes here

This came the day after Cheney threw mud in the direction of critics who gave Bush his war authorization. Cheney accused them of making ''irresponsible comments." He accused them issuing ''cynical and pernicious falsehoods" to make ''a play for political advantage."

He said, ''The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory -- or their backbone."

This was the same Cheney who gave us some of the greatest falsehoods of this generation with ''There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction . . . We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons," and that we would be ''welcomed as liberators."

Murtha clobbered Cheney's words the next day, saying, ''I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

This hawk still soars, above the scrounging chicken hawks.

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Nothing accomplished

BEIJING, Nov. 20 -- When President Bush was flying toward Asia a week ago, his national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, predicted to reporters in the back of the plane that the four-nation trip would yield no "headline breakthroughs." He turned out to be right.

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Oz indeed


It's finally Wizard of Oz time in America. You know -- that moment when the curtains are pulled back, the fearsome-looking wizard wreathed in all that billowing smoke turns out to be some pitiful little guy, and everybody looks around sheepishly, wondering why they acted as they did for so long.


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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Jimmy Carter Says 

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These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organisations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements, including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.


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Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the US has repudiated the Geneva accords and supported the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition programme. It is embarrassing to see the President and Vice President insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate 'cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' on people in US custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them and, therefore, abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms-control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of 'first use' of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favours to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialised nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have promoted during the last 230 years.


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And on the 7th day, God Rested. 

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I hate saying this but knowing what we know now maybe it was for the best that Bush was "re-elected".
Jonathan Chait wrote a piece in LA Times endorsing Bush. Chait is a liberal and it was a tongue in cheek piece. He argued that Bush had fucked up so badly that it would be unfair to ask a Democrat to clean it up. He said Bush had done most of the damage he could possibly do. He had ruined the honor of the country. Bankrupted the treasury with massive debt. Gotten the country into a ruinous war. In a second term he would not be able to launch another war because he didn't have enough troops. Chait said if a Democrat took over Iraq would become a Democratic defeat. The GOP would argue that Democrats lost the war. He said Iraq is already lost, let Bush and the GOP get the blame for the defeat.
I am starting to think Jonathan Chait was right. Kerry would have been in a very difficult situation now especially with a GOP congress.
BTW, a family member who hates Bush made the same argument to me. He hoped Bush would win in 2004 and said only then would the country understand the magnitude of Bush's fuckup.

The Silver Lining of the Bush Presidency

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From Comment Section

It will be interesting in the short run (4.00 / 2)
to watch the tightrope the Republicans will have to walk to end this war. On one hand, they have to end it before the next election, but on the other hand, they can't have all those returning soldiers running around telling the American people what it was really like over there. In the long run, the price we will pay will be unthinkable. For the first time in 28 years I am sorry I have children. How's that for the American dream?
I have one other suggestion on a semi-related topic. The shit is hitting the fan in the investigation into the bid rigging and theft of millions of dollars earmarked to rebuild Iraq. These are American felons that we allowed to go over there and steal. The crimes were committed on Iraq soil. We should demand that these rats be turned over to the Iraqi government to be tried and sentenced. I doubt there will be any pardons handed out.

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Front Page Kos

FIVE DEFERMENTS:
1st deferment: Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963 -- he turned 22 that month -- and sought his first student deferment on March 20.
2nd deferment: (student), after transferring to the University of Wyoming on July 23, 1963.
3rd deferment:(student)on Oct. 14, 1964.
4th deferment: attended graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.
5th deferment: On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Cheney had his first daughter. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the ''hardship''exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Just Discovered This Badass blog 

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“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by dodging the draft, going to business school and making the other poor dumb bastard die for your country.”

-DickCheney



“…and here’s the strategy: Form an irrational prejudice against a tyrant, wait for a disaster, blame it on him, build a case by ignoring your own intelligence sources and lie about him and his country by taking the word of a convicted bank robber and forger and his alcoholic friend, then invade that country against all objections, safely take the tyrant into custody, kill the civilians with bullets, mortar fire and white phosphorous, lose $9,000,000,000 earmarked for the provisional puppet government, out a CIA agent because her husband exposes you for the lying scumbag that you are, protect those who did the outing, force rigged elections on a people that hasn’t known democracy in living memory, refuse to lift the economic sanctions imposed by your Dad to keep the people starving, train the security forces in the middle of a battle zone where they’re killed before they’re trained and the police stations are blown up before they’re built, give the Iraqis weapons that they can’t secure, deny your troops after three years body armor, lie about all the figures, ignore the US casualties more and more as they grow, use terrorism as a pretext for turning our nation into an impoverished police state while enriching your corporate cronies, then build a Preznidenshull libary with pop-up books at taxpayer expense.

Any questions?”

-W

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Letter from Micheal Moore To W 

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11/19/05

Dear Mr. Bush:

I would like to extend my hand and invite you to join us, the mainstream American majority. We, the people -- that's the majority of the people -- share these majority opinions:

1. Going to war was a mistake -- a big mistake.

2. You and your administration misled us into this war.

3. We want the war ended and our troops brought home.

4. We don't trust you.

Now, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow. Iraq was going to be your great legacy. Now, it's just your legacy. It didn't have to end up this way.

This week, when Republicans and conservative Democrats started jumping ship, you lashed out at them. You thought the most damning thing you could say to them was that they were "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party." I mean, is that the best you can do to persuade them to stick with you -- compare them to me? You gotta come up with a better villain. For heaven's sakes, you had a hundred-plus million other Americans who think the same way I do -- and you could have picked on any one of them!

But hey, why not cut out the name-calling and the smearing and just do the obvious thing: Come join the majority! Be one of us, your fellow Americans! Is it really that hard? Is there really any other choice? George, take a walk on the wild side!

Your loyal representative from the majority,

Michael Moore
www.michaelmoore.com
mmflint@aol.com

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Friday, November 18, 2005

"Shut Up And Clap Louder" Doesn't Work Anymore 

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from Kos

Incredible diary.



by Hunter
Fri Nov 18, 2005 at 04:10:52 PM PDT

Wow. Has their ever been a better example of the whole Iraq War debate, and management, and accounting, in a single televised debate? Has there ever been a better example of the lengths Republicans will go to in order to shut down even the hint of a true American debate on the costs, implications, failures, and incompetence of the war?
The Republicans don't want a debate over the war. They never wanted a debate over the war. They have gone, throughout the entirety of the last four years, to great lengths to impugn the patriotism, the courage, and even the Americanness of any citizen or politician that demands any such debate from their government.
They believe merely debating the current state of the war is an act against patriotism. Cheney blusters that questioning him, or the President, amounts to being anti-American. If you're a Republican, you have only two choices in this war: Clap Louder, or Shut Up.
No, after a blocking of every avenue of debate, after questioning the patriotism of every critic, this is now the Republican War, through and through. If you're a Republican, you like this war just fine, and you don't care how long it takes, how many American troops get killed, or how incompetently the war is run. If you're a Republican, you think of the war as a vehicle of nationalist virtue, not to be questioned by the likes of fellow Americans who demand answers better than "everything is fine". If you are a Republican, you meet the calls for an exit strategy with cries of cowardice. You meet calls for investigation into prewar failures with the brazen and shallow admonishment that anyone requiring accountability for failure does not adequately "support the troops". It is raw nationalism, and raw partisanship, of the ugliest and most cowardly fashion. Men who would send the sons and daughters of others across the world to die for a still never-quite-defined principle, but lack the courage to themselves defend their own convictions and actions to their fellow Americans.
So now -- faced with the real threat of a debate over the war -- they turn to whatever partisan maneuvering they can muster in order to block that debate, yet again, and attack those that demanded it. Clap Louder, they demand, or Shut Up.
Democrats: Enough of this theater. Fight the fight, but if the Republicans are insistent, yet again, on turning every condemnation of administration incompetence, every questioning of administration exit strategies, and every exploration of the powerful and damaging implications of the failures of this war with cries of cowardice and antiAmericanism, just get up and leave.
"Clap Louder" is not a credible or noble "pro-American" point of view, and never was.

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Why the Chickenhawk Point Is Valid  

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Rep. John Murtha made a widely reported speech Thursday about Iraq. Whether or not you agree with his call for immediate withdrawal, he was certainly correct with his disdain for Cheney, Wolfowitz and the others who conceived the war, but had never been in the military themselves. This is the AP description:

"Underscoring the rising emotions of the war debate, Murtha uncharacteristically responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's comments this week that Democrats were spouting "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges" about the Bush administration's use of intelligence before the war.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," said Murtha, a former Marine. "I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

The warbloggers went crazy. Hugh Hewitt said, "That's fever swamp stuff, the old "chickenhawk" charge that would be equally applicable to hundreds of Democrats in Congress as well as great war time leaders like FDR. It discredits the Congressman, not his targets. Murtha's 30+ years in the Marines make him a great American. But he's a lousy Congressman today and a cheap shot artist to boot." (Instapundit linked to this earlier today, but for some reason the link is gone.)

Let me try to explain this. It appears that those who pushed and operated this war were very cavalier with the lives of our servicemen. First, there was a rush to war that was not necessary for its stated purpose, but could be explained by the neo-cons' near-religious belief that a good ass-whipping of Sadaam would be a panacea for the Middle East undoubtedly synergizing with the President's pique at the assassination attempt on 41. Second, there were too few troops with too little protection. Third, continuing the faith-based theme, there was virtually no planning, it appears, for what to do as occupiers beyond the belief expressed on Meet the Press by Vice-President Cheney that "we will be greeted as liberators."

So, the point is that it is particularly galling when the people who have put American lives at greater risk than necessary have never taken the risk themselves. That is not to say that one must have been in the service to be a war-time leader. It is to say that the leaders who botched this war should have been as concerned about our soldiers' lives as they previously were about their own. Additionally, as far as I know, Cheney has never discussed his failure to serve beyond saying that he had "other priorities." We know considerably more about Bill Clinton's attempts to smoke hashish.

Gut Gesocht 

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"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
--Congressman John Murtha on Dick Cheney


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Thursday, November 17, 2005

dolts 

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Truth to power


WASHINGTON — An influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.

"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."


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Vets Speak Out


(Washington D.C.)- The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.


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Is Whitey Pete a Weapon of Mass Destruction?



HOW damaged is the US by the row over its use of white phosphorus in Fallujah last year? On the facts available now, it is within the letter of the law, even though it has not signed the most relevant protocol on the use of the weapon.

But that assertion depends on the US claim that there were few civilians left in Fallujah by the time the assault began last November. There is strong evidence to support the US position. But conflicting reports, inevitable in the circumstances, leave room for debate, and even more for rumour.

Even if the US is right on the legality, there is no question that it has inflicted a serious propaganda blow on itself. No matter the technical explanations of how useful the chemical is in flushing out insurgents from cellars. In using a weapon notorious in Vietnam, with effects on the human body straight from a science fiction film, it has given a gift to its enemies. It is now loudly accused of hypocrisy: justifying the war partly by Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, but then using particularly nasty ones itself.


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Reconstruction halted. What a shock…


WASHINGTON — The rapid turnover of American officials in Iraq has slowed efforts to rebuild the country, disrupted key relationships with Iraqis and led to frequent and abrupt shifts in U.S. policy, current and former government officials say.

Between July and September, all six U.S. agencies involved in the reconstruction effort lost all or some of their senior staff, according to an auditor appointed by Congress. Also, diplomats and military leaders have been rotated in and out of the strife-torn nation at swift intervals, complicating the U.S. effort, critics say.

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Gilliard Says and it is true 

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Henri Petain

Sometimes, heroism mutates into something else.

It is clear that Petain saved France in the spring of 1917. By stemming the mutinies of the war weary French Army, he saved France. But Petain was a pessimist. He always believed the worst. And when Germany invaded France in 1940, Petain was chosen to once again save France.

But his instincts were wrong, and he would allow the Nazis free reign and watch as a fascist movement was created in his name.

Ultimately, he failed France.

In this way. Bob Woodward has failed both the Washington Post and journalism.

Woodward was a hero for a long time, someone who represented the best of American journalism.

Now to have him revealed as corrupt as Judy Miller. maybe even more so, is just the latest example of the cancer which is Beltway journalism.

Once, access with sources was about getting information. But from the time of Joe Alsop, Washington reporting was about social entry. The parties of Sally Quinn, the school recommendations, hopping back and forth between government and journalism. This all bred an incestuous culture which ill served the American public.

Judy Miller, in many ways, was an easy target. Her sex life, her lack of manners made her many enemies. Woodward, otoh. was liked and respected. He was a hero to a generation of reporters, while Carl Bernstein faded away.

Now, it turns out, Woodward may have lied about a criminal investigation, misled people purposely, and hid this from his bosses.

At least we knew where Miller stood.

No one saw this kind of betrayal coming from Woodward, not even his editors.

But it's about a culture, one where duty to a source is more important than duty to the paper or the reader. They have taken sides, and it's against us.

Washington journalism is corrupt beyond redemption. Journalists are supposed to serve the public, not be part of the team. It will take a new generation of reporters to change this . Business as usual journalism has failed this country when we needed real journalism most.



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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

John Shelby Spong to Fox News  

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Dear Christina,

Pat Robertson has said so many silly and ridiculous things that I wonder why anyone would pay much attention to him on any subject.

He warned Orlando, Florida, that God would send a hurricane to destroy them when Orlando's decision makers added "sexual orientation" to that city's civil rights ordinance making it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person because of race, ethnicity, gender, creed or "sexual orientation." He suggested that Hollywood would be the victim of an earthquake because that is where Ellen Degeneres works. With Jerry Falwell he agreed that the 9/11 disaster was brought upon this nation as God's judgment for harboring "feminists, abortionists, homosexuals and the American Civil Liberties Union." He suggested that the CIA should assassinate the duly elected President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. He has said that the feminist movement is about those women who want to "leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft and become lesbians." The tirade of absurdities goes on and on.

This country treasures the precious gift of free speech and Pat Robertson can obviously say any foolish and ignorant thing he wishes. When he pretends to speak in the name of God, however, I think his fellow believers have a right, indeed a necessity, to speak a word of judgment on his behavior since his words slander the Christian definition of God as Love, given to us first by the author of the First Epistle of John, and even more important, lived out by Jesus, who called us even to love our enemies.

I want to make only two points about this issue. First, I wonder who, other than Pat himself, designated Pat Robertson to be God's spokesperson? How dare Pat assume that the God revealed in the Jesus I serve is filled with all of Pat's peculiar prejudices. Why does he not understand that God is God and Pat Robertson is not? Why does he not see that when he tells the world with an unashamed certainty what God thinks and what God will do, he is only revealing what he thinks and what he would do if he had God's power? Pat needs to understand that he is acting out the very meaning of idolatry. He has confused God with himself.

Second, someone needs to inform Pat Robertson that the idea of God sitting on a throne above the clouds manipulating the weather in order to punish sinners is so primitive and so naïve that it is staggering to the educated imagination. It is bad enough that his mind cannot embrace the thought of Charles Darwin from the 19th century, but Pat has yet to embrace the thought of Copernicus from the 16th century or Galileo from the 17th century.

No educated person today believes that the earth is the center of the universe and that God lives above the sky, playing with low-pressure systems and planning revenge on those who are not believers in Intelligent Design. Indeed why would anyone be drawn to the demonic deity who emerges in Pat's thinking and teaching?

It is surely not a God of Love who punishes New Orleans' poorest citizens with a hurricane that New Orleans' wealthiest citizens could and did manage to escape at least with their lives, because they had cars. Did God kill the poor in New Orleans in order to send a message to New Orleans's prostitutes and those who create its raucous nightlife? Is that a rational concept? Did God cause two tectonic plates to collide under the Indian Ocean because there were some 350,000 evil people, with fully one-third of them children, whom God desired to kill in a tsunami wave? Is that how God communicates divine displeasure? Is that a God worthy of worship? Were the 3000 who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 or the 2100 members of our Armed Forces who have thus far died in Iraq during this war somehow worthy of this ultimate punishment either because of their own evil or because God sacrificed them to send a message to someone else?

Those ideas are so ludicrous as to be laughable, except for the fact that for anyone to suggest such incredible things is still painfully hurtful to those who are the victims of both natural and human disasters to say nothing of their surviving loved ones. I, as a Christian, am embarrassed by the public face that Pat Robertson puts on the religious tradition to which my life is dedicated.

I have known the Robertson family for a long time. His father was the Democratic Senator in my state of Virginia from 1946, when he was first appointed to succeed Senator Carter Glass who had died in office. He was re-elected by the people of Virginia in 1948, 1954, and 1960. In the Democratic Primary in 1966 he was defeated in a very close vote by my first cousin William Belser Spong, Jr., who went on to fill that seat in the United States Senate.

Pat is a 1955 graduate of the Law School at Yale University and received a Master in Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary in1959. He cannot possibly be as dumb as he sounds in his wild and thoughtless utterances. If ignorance is not his excuse, then one has to wonder what motivates him. In academic theological circles he is treated as a buffoon. No one takes his thoughts seriously. It is a pity that some people do actually believe the things he says, but they are far fewer than he imagines. It is an even greater pity that the news media think that his continued utterances are worthy of any public attention at all.


Bishop Spong
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