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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

from the comment section of huffington post 

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Welcome to American Facism in action. A true one party system ruled by a facist cabal. All else is denial. It remains to be seen how long it will take for the public to become radicalized but I wouldn't wait around for it. Until they are disillusioned they will not demand a change of government and there is no longer any news information, its all quite literally lies and propaganda and irrelevant nonsense. What is to be done?

Remember that even with bombs raining on their cities, the idiot German lemmings of the 40s clung to so many of Hitler's biggest lies as hope. The only way we see change is to first experience the implosion of the American experience. There is no other realistic way. It is sad but it is a historically strong tendency and it will take years for the Empire to finally implode and for a rebirth of anything resembling a true republic in my opinion. I doubt seriously it will happen in my lifetime. Corporations have a stranglehold on what once was 'America' and they aint letting go anytime soon. The political 'process' is dead and the democrats are merely the small corporate party of Amerikanna.


Posted by: johnnyboy on January 31, 2006 at 05:42pm

the Slogan 

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the slogan that the Bushies found so disturbing was the number of soldiers dead in iraq.


what

fucking

cowards


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bush speech 

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ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


.. seriously


almost as boring as texas monthly talks

Fake 

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"They average about two per week," said Susan Walsh, an AP photojournalist and president of the White House News Photographers Association, after directing that review. "The White House staff photographer's role is to document the president. They have now crossed the line and become public relations photographers for the administration."




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speech commentary by kevin drum 

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10:05 — 52 minutes. And a stirring wrapup. Except that Bush really doesn't do "stirring" all that well. Oh well.

9:57 — Human-animal hybrids? Huh?

9:55 — "We must never give in to the belief that America is on the decline." How Carter-esque.

9:54 — Fewer abortions than anytime in the past three decades? Is that true?

9:51 — The increase in basic research funding sounds good. I wonder if it's for real? The investment tax credit stuff will be popular in Silicon Valley.

9:49 — The R&D stuff he's talking about for clean energy research doesn't really sound like much. I wonder what those percentage increases come to in actual dollars?

9:47 — HSA watch: Bush wants to make them available to small businesses and make them more portable. Is that it? That's not much for all the HSA hype we've been hearing for the past couple of weeks.

9:44 — Now a reference to Clinton. That makes the score 4-1 in favor of references to former Democratic presidents. Aren't there any former Republican presidents he wants to give a shout out to?

9:41 — Still with the business about cutting the deficit in half by 2009? Sheesh. I think Kash took care of that one a couple of days ago.

9:39 — "Roosevelt to Truman to Kennedy to Reagan"? What happened to Ike and Nixon and Ford and Dad? Is Bush embarrassed of his own party?

9:37 — By the way, Matt lost ten bucks a few minutes ago....

9:34 — Yep, he's on the offensive about the NSA's domestic spying program — complete with lies about previous presidents doing the same thing and federal courts having approved it. Points for chutzpah, though.

9:32 — Who are these "isolationists" Bush keeps talking about?

9:23 — In Iraq, "we've changed our approach to reconstruction." Didn't we just cut the budget for reconstruction to zero? That's more than just a "change," isn't it?

9:17 — Hmmm, the Palestinians were left out of Bush's list of emerging democracies in the Middle East. Isn't that odd?

9:00 — Wolf Blitzer on Dick Cheney and Dennis Hastert: "They look mighty good there together, don't they?" Give me a break.

8:59 — Cindy Sheehan tried to unfold a banner and got arrested by Capitol Police? Sheesh.

8:56 — Let's see, George Bush has already adopted John Kerry's Iran policy, and tonight he will apparently adopt Jimmy Carter's energy policy as well. "America is addicted to oil," we are reliably informed he will tell us. Let's keep a sharp eye out for FDR references too, shall we?

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oy veys mere 

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It really doesn't matter what the crisis is. The response these days is predictably the same. You have thirteen men stranded in a mine disaster in West Virginia? Think of it as the Katrina rescue operation gone underground. Rescue teams were once mandated to be located at mines. Under this President, they can be up to two hours away. As it happens, the team heading for the Sago mine took a mere six hours to get itself together and arrive, while the trapped miners wrote their goodbye notes and all but one slowly died. No surprise there. After all, in recent years the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has been FEMAted, and heck-of-a-job-Brownie-ized. Then again, what hasn't?...


…. Whatever the term might be for having a knack for being incapable of governing, the record thus far indicates that the Bush administration has a corner on the market, both at home and, when it comes to ruling as a global superpower, abroad. What its top officials are, however, intensely capable of -- so much so that some critics have claimed this to be their intent -- is sowing chaos everywhere. They arrive, guns literally (or metaphorically) blazing; bring in their cronies, corporate buddies, and former lobbyists for various industries or institutions about to be overseen; seed confusion; strip mine the neighborhood; dump tons of money into "security" that only generates more insecurity; create -- whether inside Baghdad's Green Zone or at their dream agency, the Department of Homeland Security -- the bureaucracies from hell; and then more or less abandon ship. And you don't have to be an Iraqi to notice this phenomenon, either.

the real SOTU


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AMANPOUR: You know, I think -- well, certainly there's been a lot of reporting about it. Perhaps not enough for that view of it. As you know, there's not enough international reporting on American television anyway.

But I think to the bigger point, why are we there? We're there because if we're not, whose word are we going to take for it? For instance, over the bombing in Pakistan, and for instance, over the constant atrocities in Iraq.

Are we going to take the Pentagon paid Lincoln Group who are paying positive stories to be written in the Iraqi press? Are we going to take what the administration tells us? Do you remember at the beginning of this war, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, told us that these insurgents were just a bunch of dead enders who amounted to absolutely nothing.

Well, that was three years ago. You remember on your own show, not so long ago, the vice president of the United States said that the insurgency was in its death throes, in its last throes.

Well, we're there to report what's actually going on and we pay a heavy price for trying to get to the truth. And the truth is what our business is all about. And that's why we're out there, despite the enormous, enormous personal cost to us, to our families, and to our networks.


Christiane

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Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

Women Fear being Raped in the Army

Tricky Dick Says 

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As some of you know, I recently returned from Iraq. This Bob Woodruff story has been bothering me. Something about it stinks.

I have a theory about what likely happened. I think it's worse than we know.

Update - I suspect that Bob Woodruff was set up by insurgent spies working within the Iraqi Army, and that the US Military was unable to protect him. I want to be clear, this is no conspiracy theory. I am in no way suggesting that Bob Woodruff was working on behalf of the US government, as some are suggesting in the comments. I have the utmost respect for Bob Woodruff and do not question his journalistic integrity. I wish him a speedy recovery.
tricky dick's diary :: ::


The biggest problem with Iraq is that the Iraqi Army (IA) is a complete joke. This is why the US Military is stuck there for the next decade, guaranteed. The GOP will get clobbered in the mid-terms if they can't figure out a way to convince the gullible Amercan public that things are improving. That means some artificial troop reductions and a carefully orchestrated PR campaign... along with a significant amount of praying. We know the US is involved in negotiations with various insurgent groups, hoping to cut a deal with them. In short, the Bush Asministration is terrified of losing the mid-terms and will do anything necessary to turn the tide with regards to the domestic political situation. They are desperate.

Tonight is the State of the Union Address. I believe that Woodruff was meant to be embedded with an IA unit in order to give the impression that the IA is making "good progress" in "standing up" so that the US can "stand down". Of course it's all a con game. I believe Bob Woodruff fell victim to an ill conceived attempt at propaganda.

First of all, I should tell you that while in Iraq, I was stationed at an IA training base in Diyala Province. I saw the IA train everyday. What first grabbed my eye about this story was that Woodruff was riding in an armored vehicle which was supposed to belong to the IA. The problem is that the IA doesn't have any armor. They drive around in Toyota pickup trucks. They are white with brown stripes and usually have M-60's (or a Russian equivalent) mounted on the back. They have zero tactical vehicles. I can't imagine they have aquired them in the last 90 days.

So where the hell did they get the armor?

My guess is that some IA unit was selected for a crash course in "how to drive a 113" or whatever in the hope of giving ABC News the impression that the IA was indeed becoming mechanized, which is an absolutely vital step towards them becoming effective. In short, this would have been very irregular and conspicuous activity for the IA to be engaged in. Again, the IA NEVER TRAIN IN OR OPERATE ARMORED VEHICLES!!!

Second, the IA is completely compromised by the insurgency. Once insurgents within Woodruff's embedded unit saw what was going on, it would have been all too easy for them to get the word out and set up an ambush. It certainly would have been in their interest to do so, they well understand the information war that is going on. They are probably aware that the US Government is actively engaged in PSYOPS against the US Public. They would have desperately wanted to kill Woodruff even as the US Military hoped to show "progress in Iraq".

Now look, I know I am speculating. But I don't think you people know how unlikely this attack was to be random. The area Woodruff was in is not that bad. It's not as if every single convoy gets nailed every time out. In 11 months, my vehicle was never directly targeted. The odds that the insurgents would happen to hit that particular convoy in that particular area is remote. The odds that they would hit Woodruff's vehicle is also a long shot. And they must have hit it hard. They inflicted serious injury on personel who were riding in a well protected vehicle. Naturally the Army wouldn't send Wooodruff out in a Toyota, they sent him out in a vehicle that was a hard target.

You see, most of the IED attacks in Iraq are ineffective. They usually wouldn't kill an armored vehicle. They are becoming more and more lethal, to be sure. But it is actually unusual, in my experience, to come across one that is potentially this destructive. This, however, was a complex attack. It was an (especially effective) IED attack followed by small arms fire. That, contrary to what you might think, simply does not happen every day. I don't believe that this is a coincidence.

For Woodruff to be out on patrol with an armored IA unit (which is something I have NEVER heard of) the day before the SOTU address, and then for him to be nailed by a devastating complex-IED attack... it stinks to high heaven.

I think the fix was in. One of the hajis compromised Woodruff's mission, and he got hit with a well laid ambush. I've been screaming this to anyone who would listen, even the fools over at RedState (until I was banned), that this is the biggest problem with the Iraq War Strategy. The IA absolutely cannot be trusted. They are ineffective and unreliable. They are completely compromised by the insurgents.

It was another cheap, clumsy PR stunt from the Bush Administration. I believe Bob Woodruff has paid the price for it.

A sure sign you are in a repiglican nation 

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WASHINGTON — A new provision tucked into the Patriot Act bill now before Congress would allow authorities to haul demonstrators at any "special event of national significance" away to jail on felony charges if they are caught breaching a security perimeter.



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Monday, January 30, 2006

Christiane Amanpour Says 

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Well, I think it's an incredibly good question. The caller is absolutely right. And, as Bob Schieffer has just said, of course we focus on very well known people and members of our own community.

But the reason that the deaths and injuries of the American soldiers don't get as much publicity is because we are by and large banned from seeing it.

The United States government has made a decision that we are not allowed to see the coffins, that we're not allowed to see the burials, that we're generally not allowed to go to any of the areas where there are wounded, U.S. military hospitals.

Perhaps you can see a little bit more in Landstuhl in Germany. Perhaps when we go to the hospitals in the United States. But it's very, very difficult to get close to that kind of real tragedy that the American servicemen and women are going through as well.

afternoon idiocy 

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In 2003 the top 1 percent of households owned 57.5 percent of corporate wealth, up from 53.4 percent the year before, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the latest income tax data. The top group's share of corporate wealth has grown by half since 1991, when it was 38.7 percent.

Rich are richer. The poor are poorer. A sure sign you are living in a Christian nation.

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Even amid an unusually mild winter, a huge spike in oil and natural gas prices - spurred by speculators - is sending the cost of staying warm skyrocketing, leaving homeowners, well, out in the cold.

Americans are suffering. A sure sign you are living in a Christian nation.

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clinical evidence that republicans are racists

stop giving my money to christians 

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President Bush's $15 billion effort to fight AIDS has handed out nearly one-quarter of its grants to religious groups, and officials are aggressively pursuing new church partners that often emphasize disease prevention through abstinence and fidelity over condom use.


asshats


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Sunday, January 29, 2006

from the comment section of atrios 

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Sometimes you eat the bears, sometimes the bears eat you. It's an odds game. The reporters who go over there play the numbers, just like the troops.

have skunk

Great read 

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Spies, Lies and Wiretaps


A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies.

The first was that the domestic spying program is carefully aimed only at people who are actively working with Al Qaeda, when actually it has violated the rights of countless innocent Americans. And the second was that the Bush team could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if only they had thought of eavesdropping without a warrant.


Sept. 11 could have been prevented. This is breathtakingly cynical. The nation's guardians did not miss the 9/11 plot because it takes a few hours to get a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mail messages. They missed the plot because they were not looking. The same officials who now say 9/11 could have been prevented said at the time that no one could possibly have foreseen the attacks. We keep hoping that Mr. Bush will finally lay down the bloody banner of 9/11, but Karl Rove, who emerged from hiding recently to talk about domestic spying, made it clear that will not happen — because the White House thinks it can make Democrats look as though they do not want to defend America. "President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why," he told Republican officials. "Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Mr. Rove knows perfectly well that no Democrat has ever said any such thing — and that nothing prevented American intelligence from listening to a call from Al Qaeda to the United States, or a call from the United States to Al Qaeda, before Sept. 11, 2001, or since. The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act simply required the government to obey the Constitution in doing so. And FISA was amended after 9/11 to make the job much easier.

Only bad guys are spied on. Bush officials have said the surveillance is tightly focused only on contacts between people in this country and Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed it saved thousands of lives by preventing attacks. But reporting in this paper has shown that the National Security Agency swept up vast quantities of e-mail messages and telephone calls and used computer searches to generate thousands of leads. F.B.I. officials said virtually all of these led to dead ends or to innocent Americans. The biggest fish the administration has claimed so far has been a crackpot who wanted to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch — a case that F.B.I. officials said was not connected to the spying operation anyway.

The spying is legal. The secret program violates the law as currently written. It's that simple. In fact, FISA was enacted in 1978 to avoid just this sort of abuse. It said that the government could not spy on Americans by reading their mail (or now their e-mail) or listening to their telephone conversations without obtaining a warrant from a special court created for this purpose. The court has approved tens of thousands of warrants over the years and rejected a handful.

As amended after 9/11, the law says the government needs probable cause, the constitutional gold standard, to believe the subject of the surveillance works for a foreign power or a terrorist group, or is a lone-wolf terrorist. The attorney general can authorize electronic snooping on his own for 72 hours and seek a warrant later. But that was not good enough for Mr. Bush, who lowered the standard for spying on Americans from "probable cause" to "reasonable belief" and then cast aside the bedrock democratic principle of judicial review.

Just trust us. Mr. Bush made himself the judge of the proper balance between national security and Americans' rights, between the law and presidential power. He wants Americans to accept, on faith, that he is doing it right. But even if the United States had a government based on the good character of elected officials rather than law, Mr. Bush would not have earned that kind of trust. The domestic spying program is part of a well-established pattern: when Mr. Bush doesn't like the rules, he just changes them, as he has done for the detention and treatment of prisoners and has threatened to do in other areas, like the confirmation of his judicial nominees. He has consistently shown a lack of regard for privacy, civil liberties and judicial due process in claiming his sweeping powers. The founders of our country created the system of checks and balances to avert just this sort of imperial arrogance.

The rules needed to be changed. In 2002, a Republican senator — Mike DeWine of Ohio — introduced a bill that would have done just that, by lowering the standard for issuing a warrant from probable cause to "reasonable suspicion" for a "non-United States person." But the Justice Department opposed it, saying the change raised "both significant legal and practical issues" and may have been unconstitutional. Now, the president and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are telling Americans that reasonable suspicion is a perfectly fine standard for spying on Americans as well as non-Americans — and they are the sole judges of what is reasonable.

So why oppose the DeWine bill? Perhaps because Mr. Bush had already secretly lowered the standard of proof — and dispensed with judges and warrants — for Americans and non-Americans alike, and did not want anyone to know.

War changes everything. Mr. Bush says Congress gave him the authority to do anything he wanted when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan. There is simply nothing in the record to support this ridiculous argument.

The administration also says that the vote was the start of a war against terrorism and that the spying operation is what Mr. Cheney calls a "wartime measure." That just doesn't hold up. The Constitution does suggest expanded presidential powers in a time of war. But the men who wrote it had in mind wars with a beginning and an end. The war Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney keep trying to sell to Americans goes on forever and excuses everything.

Other presidents did it. Mr. Gonzales, who had the incredible bad taste to begin his defense of the spying operation by talking of those who plunged to their deaths from the flaming twin towers, claimed historic precedent for a president to authorize warrantless surveillance. He mentioned George Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. These precedents have no bearing on the current situation, and Mr. Gonzales's timeline conveniently ended with F.D.R., rather than including Richard Nixon, whose surveillance of antiwar groups and other political opponents inspired FISA in the first place. Like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Bush is waging an unpopular war, and his administration has abused its powers against antiwar groups and even those that are just anti-Republican.


The Senate Judiciary Committee is about to start hearings on the domestic spying. Congress has failed, tragically, on several occasions in the last five years to rein in Mr. Bush and restore the checks and balances that are the genius of American constitutional democracy. It is critical that it not betray the public once again on this score.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

unbelievable from nyt 

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him

By ANDREW C. REVKIN
The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," he said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

Mr. Acosta said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel whom the public could perceive as speaking for the agency. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, is a leading authority on the earth's climate system. He directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute on Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled, and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives affecting his statements had come through informal telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet." The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.

Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal." Normally, Ms. McCarthy would not be free to describe such conversations to the news media, but she agreed to an interview after Mr. Acosta, in NASA headquarters, told The Times that she would not face any retribution for doing so.

Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's supervisor, said that when Mr. Deutsch was asked about the conversations he flatly denied saying anything of the sort. Mr. Deutsch referred all interview requests to Mr. Acosta.

Ms. McCarthy, when told of the response, said: "Why am I going to go out of my way to make this up and back up Jim Hansen? I don't have a dog in this race. And what does Hansen have to gain?"

Mr. Acosta said that for the moment he had no way of judging who was telling the truth. Several colleagues of both Ms. McCarthy and Dr. Hansen said Ms. McCarthy's statements were consistent with what she told them when the conversations occurred.

"He's not trying to create a war over this," said Larry D. Travis, an astronomer who is Dr. Hansen's deputy at Goddard, "but really feels very strongly that this is an obligation we have as federal scientists, to inform the public, and this kind of attempted muzzling of the science community is really rather dangerous. If we just accept it, then we're contributing to the problem."

Dr. Travis said he walked into Ms. McCarthy's office in mid-December at the end of one of the calls from Mr. Deutsch demanding that Dr. Hansen be better controlled.

In an interview on Friday, Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric chemist and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's leading independent scientific body, praised Dr. Hansen's scientific contributions and said he had always seemed to describe his public statements clearly as his personal views.

"He really is one of the most productive and creative scientists in the world," Dr. Cicerone said. "I've heard Hansen speak many times and I've read many of his papers, starting in the late 70's. Every single time, in writing or when I've heard him speak, he's always clear that he's speaking for himself, not for NASA or the administration, whichever administration it's been."

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists' points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.

One example is Indur M. Goklany, assistant director of science and technology policy in the policy office of the Interior Department. For years, Dr. Goklany, an electrical engineer by training, has written in papers and books that it may be better not to force cuts in greenhouse gases because the added prosperity from unfettered economic activity would allow countries to exploit benefits of warming and adapt to problems.

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Dr. Goklany said that in the Clinton administration he was shifted to nonclimate-related work, but added that he had never had to stop his outside writing, as long as he identifies the views as his own.

"One reason why I still continue to do the extracurricular stuff is because one doesn't have to get clearance for what I plan on saying or writing," he wrote.

Many people who work with Dr. Hansen said that politics was not a factor in his dispute with the Bush administration.

"The thing that has always struck me about him is I don't think he's political at all," said Mark R. Hess, director of public affairs for the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., a position that also covers the Goddard Institute in New York.

"He really is not about concerning himself with whose administration is in charge, whether it's Republicans, Democrats or whatever," Mr. Hess said. "He's a pretty down-the-road conservative independent-minded person.

"What he cares deeply about is being a scientist, his research, and I think he feels a true obligation to be able to talk about that in whatever fora are offered to him."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Everyone hates W 

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President George W. Bush warned, "And the Iranians have said, we want a [nuclear] weapon."

Unchallenged Claim

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The question for journalists is how to report this. President Bush says it's a great idea and he's proud of the secret spy program? Attorney General Gonzales explains breaking the law is no problem? Dick Cheney says accept spying, or Osama bin Laden will get you?

Or might we actually have gotten far enough to point out that the series of high-profile security events is in fact part of a propaganda campaign by our own government?
Should we report it as though it were in fact a campaign tactic, a straight political ploy: The Republicans say spying is good for you, but the Democrats say it is not -- equal time to both sides?


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Washington, D.C., January 26, 2006 - A secret Pentagon "roadmap" on war propaganda, personally approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in October 2003, calls for "boundaries" between information operations abroad and the news media at home, but provides for no such limits and claims that as long as the American public is not "targeted," any leakage of PSYOP to the American public does not matter.

Propaganda Roadmap

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As the Bush Administration ratchets up domestic spying the FBI is collecting 'research' reports on 'direct action' environmental groups produced by right wing think tanks

W is a loser 

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Russert refuses to come clean with his audience about his role in Plamegate. He is a participant. He was interviewed under oath by Fitzgerald. But he continued to report on Plamegate as if he were a disinterested observer rather than a major player. And he still refuses to come clean and explain why he fought to keep from testifying in front of the Plamegate grand jury about his fateful chat with Scooter Libby -- even after Libby signed a waiver allowing him to do so.

Even Tim Russert is an asshat


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``There's definitely something wrong,'' said Gina Lucchesi, a 36-year-old office worker from Woodstown, New Jersey and a Republican, who participated in the survey and was interviewed afterwards. Marion McLaughlin, a 78-year-old retired government worker from Hanover, Connecticut, and a Democrat, complained that Bush is ``totally off-track'' and ``out of touch with reality.'' Both cited health care, economic adversity, and the Iraq war as top concerns.

Bush Off Track


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A strong bipartisan majority of the public believes President Bush should disclose all contacts between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and White House staffers despite administration claims that media requests for details about those contacts amount to a "fishing expedition," according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

People Don’t Like Bush

Thursday, January 26, 2006

lots of shit today 

Call it by name. The national press has been corrupted, by a combination of inducements and threats. Like many cases of corruption, it happened in such small increments that most of them don't realize themselves that they've been corrupted. But then, that's how it usually works in the real world. All this is well known, but it hasn't been named yet.
This phrase should enter the public dialog: "press corruption."

The Merriam-Webster definition of corruption is as good as any:

1 a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : DEPRAVITY b : DECAY, DECOMPOSITION c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery) d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.

The core moral principles of journalism are fearless dedication to the truth and a willingness to challenge the powerful in pursuit of that truth. Who can disagree that those principles, and the "integrity" and "virtue" that support them, are seriously "impaired" in today's media? Or that the talking heads on cable TV or the editors at the Washington Post aren't a "departure from the original" model of journalism represented by John Peter Zenger or Emile Zola?

Corruption doesn't always come in the form of million-dollar checks or lavish parties, Ambramoff/DeLay style. It can come in a thousand small inducements - "we'll make your life easier, friend" - and a thousand small threats. We can do this the easy way, or ...

That's exactly how it came to the Washington Press Corps. The media don't skew facts toward the Bush Administration because they're ideologically right-wing. They do it because they know that the cabal in power is ruthless and cruel when you make it angry, but indulgent (if patronizing) when you appease it. Play ball and the President will give you a nickname. Refuse, and Scotty will never call on you again.

The fact that dollars haven't changed hands doesn't mean the press isn't corrupt. It just means it can be bought cheap - for a good seat at the press conference, for the occasional exclusive, for not being frozen out like Helen Thomas.

There is no more clear-cut example of the press's corruption than than the spectacle of the scripted presidential press conference, where reporters repeat lines scripted by Rove for no greater reward than seeing their own faces on live television. That's what the national press corps has become: vain camera hounds selling their professional integrity for the next on-camera shot, the next exclusive, the next moment of attention from Scottie.

We get so damned angry every time the corruption shows its face again, as it did recently with the Washington Post, when Deborah Howell repeated lies about Democrats and Abramoff and editor Jim Brady pretended the real issue was surly commenters on the paper's blog. (And the sample of deleted comments in Jane's latest post are a powerful indictment of the Post's behavior.)

Occasional appearances of something resembling "spine" don't mean the press isn't still corrupt. It just means that when the President's popularity falls they sense weakness. Opportunism isn't courage, and refusing a mob boss because he's not in charge anymore isn't integrity.

I use the word "corruption" more out of sorrow than anger. My anger at each separate incident has given way to a recognition of the underlying problem. As one who's always valued the role of journalism in our society, these are sad days.

No point belaboring the obvious more than this - except to say that next time this corruption shows its face don't get mad, get organized. Those of us who respect the power of words - as the press once did - know that if you want something identified and changed, you must first give it a name.

Recognize each case like the WaPo incident as the symptom of an underlying disease - corruption - and call it by name. Do it again and again until the public begins to recognize that America has a corrupt press corps.

Then, and only then, will public perceptions begin to change.
All AMERICAN PRESS IS CORRUPT


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impeach talks

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"Who's lying?" asked Lou Dobbs. "It's either the Bush administration or it's the author of a Pentagon-commissioned report on the state of our Army."


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While abandoning much of its Cold War-era bases in Europe and Asia, the US military is relocating to Africa and the Middle East to "fight terrorism" and "protect oil" resources. In Africa, US bases are to focus on Uganda, Djibouti, Senegal and São Tomé and Príncipe, where flexible, small-scale "jumping off points" exist or are to be built.

Bases in Africa


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Who's leeching off whom?


But this isn't about the health-care crisis. It's about corporate welfare. It's about how one of the world's most profitable companies has figured out how to get us to pick up its tab.

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CAVED IN 

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said Thursday it would release five Iraqi women detainees, a move demanded by the kidnappers of an American reporter to spare her life. A U.S. official said the release had nothing to do with the kidnappers' demand.

wow. this new blogger world is freaky 


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

lots of stuff today 

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Why Some Stay Silent
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By JOAN ROELOFS

The military-industrial complex is elephantine, yet it is rarely taken into account by political commentators. Connected to almost everything, it is one reason why the home front sustains our aggressive, illegal, military interventions and occupations throughout the world. Many good people are in thrall to the military-industrial complex, and consequently are silenced, unwilling to become active opponents. These include liberals, social justice advocates, and even professional soldiers who question our illegal interventions. There are, of course, some protesters in our nation, but not enough to make militarism the main issue in Congressional and Presidential elections, or to give the subject much visibility on a daily basis.

Militarism is promoted through the relentless manipulation of public opinion in all media: Hollywood films (aided by DOD armament loans), TV, video games, the public relations army of the DOD, newspapers, magazines, parades, etc. For the intellectuals, there are articles in "liberal" magazines alleging that violence is genetically implanted in humans, and a generally positive force. This barrage normalizes violence and war. Most people want to regard themselves as normal, and not fuzzy idealists or crackpots, so they increasingly view aggression as inevitable, and perhaps a good thing. Bombing people into democracy (as in Yugoslavia) becomes a reasonable proposition; overthrowing governments (as in Haiti) just a routine world improvement activity. Both these actions were widely accepted or ignored by liberals, among others.

Fear motivates human behavior; many people eschew protesting wars as they are afraid of being considered unpatriotic, and subjected to government harassment, discrimination in employment, social penalties, or beatings by local thugs. Even those who suspect that war is not normal may be convinced that nothing they can do will change anything.


The Defense Industry as a monster




McClellan: Good afternoon, everyone.

I know there's a lot of interest in the purported bin Laden tape. But let me just say we continue to act on all fronts to win the war on terrorism. We are taking the fight to the enemy. We are working to advance freedom and democracy to defeat their evil ideology. We are winning.

Q: How can you say we're winning when the leader of the organization that attacked us is still threatening us?

McClellan: The fact we haven't been attacked again in four years shows we are putting al-Qaeda out of business. Clearly, our strategy is working.

Q: But they waited eight years to finish off the World Trade Center.

McClellan: Look, bin Laden is clearly on the run and under a lot of pressure.

Q: How do you know he's on the run? I mean, you don't know where he is, so how can you be certain he's in flight? Couldn't he be making all these tapes from the comfort of a safehouse?

McClellan: The last time we heard from him was a year ago – in another audiotape. Clearly, he's unable to communicate like he'd like to.

Q: But why isn't it just as possible he's trying to avoid giving U.S. intelligence clues to his whereabouts?

McClellan: I think it's clear from all indications he's hiding in a cave somewhere thanks to the pressure we've put on him.

Q: But what do you make of all the references he makes in his tape to "opinion polls," "documents," "Pentagon figures," "humanitarian reports," and obscure books like Rogue State? Sounds more like he's been hanging out in a municipal library than a cave.

McClellan The Idiot


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The jury apparently agreed with defense arguments that Welshofer had believed he was following orders to use creative interrogation techniques when he put Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush face-first in a sleeping bag, wrapped him in electrical wire and sat on his chest in November 2003. The 57-year-old general died after 20 minutes in the bag.


No Torture Here


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“In 2000 Bush promised to bring dignity to the White House. He brought Jack Abramoff instead.”

--Harry Reid


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Bush the Incompetent

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, January 25, 2006; A19

Incompetence is not one of the seven deadly sins, and it's hardly the worst attribute that can be ascribed to George W. Bush. But it is this president's defining attribute. Historians, looking back at the hash that his administration has made of his war in Iraq, his response to Hurricane Katrina and his Medicare drug plan, will have to grapple with how one president could so cosmically botch so many big things -- particularly when most of them were the president's own initiatives.

In numbing profusion, the newspapers are filled with litanies of screw-ups. Yesterday's New York Times brought news of the first official assessment of our reconstruction efforts in Iraq, in which the government's special inspector general depicted a policy beset, as Times reporter James Glanz put it, "by gross understaffing, a lack of technical expertise, bureaucratic infighting [and] secrecy." At one point, rebuilding efforts were divided, bewilderingly and counterproductively, between the Army Corps of Engineers and, for projects involving water, the Navy. That's when you'd think a president would make clear in no uncertain terms that bureaucratic turf battles would not be allowed to impede Iraq's reconstruction. But then, the president had no guiding vision for how to rebuild Iraq -- indeed, he went to war believing that such an undertaking really wouldn't require much in the way of American treasure and American lives.

It's the president's prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D), though, that is his most mind-boggling failure. As was not the case in Iraq or with Katrina, it hasn't had to overcome the opposition of man or nature. Pharmacists are not resisting the program; seniors are not planting car bombs to impede it (not yet, anyway). But in what must be an unforeseen development, people are trying to get their medications covered under the program. Apparently, this is a contingency for which the administration was not prepared, as it has been singularly unable to get its own program up and running.

Initially, Part D's biggest glitch seemed to be the difficulty that seniors encountered in selecting a plan. But since Part D took effect on Jan. 1, the most acute problem has been the plan's failure to cover the 6.2 million low-income seniors whose medications had been covered by Medicaid. On New Year's Day, the new law shifted these people's coverage to private insurers. And all hell broke loose.

Pharmacists found that the insurers didn't have the seniors' names in their systems, or charged them far in excess of what the new law stipulated -- and what the seniors could afford. In California fully 20 percent of the state's 1.1 million elderly Medicaid recipients had their coverage denied. The state had to step in to pick up the tab for their medications. California has appropriated $150 million for the medications, and estimates that it will be out of pocket more than $900 million by 2008-09. Before Jan. 1 the Bush administration had told California that it would save roughly $120 million a year once Part D was in effect.

California's experience is hardly unique. To date at least 25 states and the District have had to defray the costs to seniors that Part D was supposed to cover. What's truly stunning about this tale is that, while officials may not have known how many non-indigent seniors would sign up of their own accord, they always knew that these 6.2 million seniors would be shifted into the plan on the first day of the year. There were absolutely no surprises, and yet administration officials weren't even remotely prepared.

No such problems attended the creation of Medicare itself in the mid-1960s. Then, a governmental agency simply assumed responsibility for seniors' doctor and hospital visits. But, financially beholden to both the drug and insurance industries, the Bush administration and the Repsublican Congress mandated that millions of Americans have their coverage shifted to these most byzantine of bureaucracies.

This is, remember, the president's signature domestic initiative, just as the Iraq war is his signature foreign initiative.

How could a president get these things so wrong? Incompetence may describe this presidency, but it doesn't explain it. For that, historians may need to turn to the seven deadly sins: to greed, in understanding why Bush entrusted his new drug entitlement to a financial mainstay of modern Republicanism. To sloth, in understanding why Incurious George has repeatedly ignored the work of experts whose advice runs counter to his desires.

More and more, the key question for this administration is that of the great American sage, Casey Stengel: Can't anybody here play this game?

Bush the Incompetent


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Tensions flared yesterday between World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz and bank employees, as the bank's staff association criticized some of Wolfowitz's recent appointments and Wolfowitz fired back that he was trying to correct lax enforcement of the bank's internal corruption rules.

The controversy is the starkest sign of discontent among the staff nine months after President Bush chose Wolfowitz to head the bank. Wolfowitz is a former deputy defense secretary best known for his role in planning the invasion of Iraq.

In a letter circulated yesterday evening to bank staffers, the staff association chair, Alison Cave, raised pointed questions about last week's appointment of Suzanne Rich Folsom, a bank official with Republican party ties, to head the Department of Institutional Integrity, a unit that investigates misconduct and corruption at the bank. The letter also cited the recent naming of Kevin S. Kellems, a former aide to Vice President Cheney, as the bank's top communications strategist.

Well more cronyism?

Conservatives With Money 

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A new audit of American financial practices in Iraq has uncovered irregularities including millions of reconstruction dollars stuffed casually into footlockers and filing cabinets, an American soldier in the Philippines who gambled away cash belonging to Iraq, and three Iraqis who plunged to their deaths in a rebuilt hospital elevator that had been improperly certified as safe.

Your Tax Dollars

Here's Your Commitment To New Orleans 

The White House's stance on storm-related documents, along with slow or incomplete responses by other agencies, threatens to undermine efforts to identify what went wrong, Democrats on the committees said Tuesday.

"There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate committee investigating the response. His spokeswoman said he would ask for a subpoena for documents and testimony if the White House did not comply.

In response to questions later from a reporter, the deputy White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said the administration had declined requests to provide testimony by Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff; Mr. Card's deputy, Joe Hagin; Frances Fragos Townsend, the domestic security adviser; and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.


The Administration doesn’t want anyone to know what went wrong. And there’s your commitment to New Orleans. Coverups. Stalling. Staged Promises. You have top ask why Dems can’t capitalize on this. Because the media is all brought and sold and pro-Bush. They have bigger paychecks when the Bushies are covered than when they're challenged.


Cowards

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

idiots asshats and more 

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Cuba strikes back

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Mo shit 

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It’s been exposed that Bush and Co have been spying on Peace Groups. Not spying to stop al-Qaeda, but spying to silence dissent. These are the tactics of a dictator. Constitutional scholars agree that Bush broke the law, clearly violating the Constitution.

Spying to stop dissent

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Media uncritically reported Rove's false claim that Democrats don't want to eavesdrop on Al Qaeda


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DESPITE force feeding by the American military, several hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay may be close to death, according to lawyers acting for the detainees.


America Has lost Its Mind

Hitler Liked Art. You Like Art. You Must Be A Nazi. 

Cenk Uygur has an important and funny piece on the latest think tank talking points techniques.

Saying your political opponents are helping the enemies of the state -- whether they are communists or terrorists - is the oldest trick in the book. It's a pathetic and desperate debating tactic. This infantile argument is easily countered - as every third grader knows - with the clever retort: "So are you!" This debating ploy is the equivalent of: Hitler liked art. You like art. So you must be a Nazi.


Link is here -http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur/republicans-are-just-like_b_14345.html

This is priceless. And the point here is something completely other. The point here is that the right wingers need willing disseminators of their shit. I believe all the news media in this country is grain-of-salt quality, and paper-thin. Add a worthless, lost, corporate media that gives 100 times more play to a local event than to important national events, stir in a largely uneducated public, bada bing. You get facism and nationalism. Heroes are shat upon and nobodies who sit and read teleprompters become heros and social icons. Remember that scene from the Ten Commandments when Moses came down and discovered the Israelites were all drunk and worshipping goats....It looks like that to me right now.
Chris Matthews says Michael Moore and Osama bin Laden sound similar because they both warn of American war profiteers. Dwight Eisenhower also warned of the military industrial complex in America. Is he now retroactively a terrorist?

Harry Truman started a commission to investigate war profiteers during World War II. Truman, clearly a terrorist sympathizer.
It sounds like the refrain of the neo-McCarthyites is: "Do you now or have you ever agreed with a terrorist?"

This heinous new Republican talking point not only insults Democratic leaders, but it is also gravely offensive to a majority of Americans who share their point of view.

Just about every poll in the country now shows a majority of Americans believe the Iraq war was a mistake and that we should withdraw as soon as practical. Are they all terrorists? Is this what we have come to? Senator Joe McCarthy understood that you could intimidate your political opponents if you accused them of being traitors to this country and being in league with our enemies. But he also came to understand that this cheap political parlor trick only lasts so long. And history is not kind to its purveyors.

Monday, January 23, 2006

more shit 

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DURHAM -- A Duke University professor who has edited the statements of Osama bin Laden is sticking by his opinion that the al-Qaida leader is dead or incapacitated.

Bruce Lawrence made his comments Friday, the day after the release of an audiotape the U.S. government says is by bin Laden.

In December, Lawrence said bin Laden's public silence for the preceding year meant the terrorist leader was seriously ill or dead, perhaps among the casualties of October's massive earthquakes in the area of Pakistan where he is believed to have hidden.

Probably not Bin Laden

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The punditocracy's ignore-except-to-attack attitude toward liberals is a far greater impediment to our ability to mount an alternative to the ruinous rule of George W. Bush than the attitudes of Americans themselves, who in poll after poll disagree with the President on almost all significant issues. Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby gleefully announces that "attacking Bushonomics"--the policies of the party that controls the government and has abandoned even the pretense of fiscal responsibility--"is too easy, like shooting a lame duck." He prefers "to focus instead on Democrats' response."

most Americans disagree with Bush

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34131

Scott Ritter Says 

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Stung by growing criticism of his Iraq policy which has manifested itself in all-time low public opinion ratings, President Bush last month embarked on a tour in which he delivered five speeches outlining his "Plan for Victory" in Iraq, as well as offering a defense of his decision to invade Iraq. "It is true that much of the intelligence [used to justify the invasion] turned out to be wrong", Mr. Bush said in the fourth of these speeches. "As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq."

While taking responsibility for his actions, Mr. Bush has not taken well to any criticism of his role in over-selling the case for war, and in his speech was quick to attack those who dared hold him to account. "Some of the most irresponsible comments about manipulating intelligence", he said, "have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence we saw, and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. These charges are pure politics."

But it is the President, through his speeches, who is engaged in politics of the most puerile sort. Mr. Bush failed to address his role in the Niger yellowcake forgery, the aluminum tube exaggeration, the rush to embrace "Curveball", or any of the myriad of politicized intelligence pushed by the White House in the lead up to war with Iraq. The President continued to exploit in the basest fashion the death of nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. As has been his style since that horrible day, Mr. Bush hid behind the memory of so many fallen to mask his administration's shortcomings and disguise its true intent.

"Given Saddam's history", the President said (conveniently omitting that the CIA today states that Iraq had destroyed all of its WMD by the summer of 1991), "and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat -- and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power." But even the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, used by the Bush administration to sell its Iraq war to the US Congress, failed to identify Saddam Hussein as a threat.

The White House pushed hard to find intelligence information that backed the assertions made by President Bush in the fall of 2002 that Hussein's regime was an "ally of al-Qaeda" and posed a direct terrorist threat to America. "This is a man that we know has had connections with al-Qaeda," he said, referring to Saddam Hussein. "This is a man who would like to use al-Qaeda as a forward army. And this is a man that we must deal with for the sake of peace."

Again 

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They are going to the 9/11 well again. They say that Democrats are sending talking points to Osama and giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Rove says we don't believe that the government should monitor al Qaeda's telephone calls. The next several months will be spent fending off accusations that if we don't let the president do anything he damned well pleases we are all going to die.

I don't know if it will work again. But I also don't know if I can take this campaign one more time. Five years of hearing the same thing over and over again and watching American sheeple fall for it over and over again is just too depressing. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to January 20, 2009 (and I'm of an age where rushing the future is no longer wise.) The day I no longer have to listen to one more word from this immoral, dishonest, incompetent, delusional prick will be the best day of my life.

Paul Krugman Says 

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In short, U.S. officials thoroughly botched their handling of Iraq's electricity sector. They did much the same in the oil sector. But the Bush administration is determined to achieve victory in Iraq, so it must have a plan to rectify its errors, right?

Um, no. Although there has been no formal declaration, all indications are that the Bush administration, which once made grand promises about a program to rebuild Iraq comparable to the Marshall Plan, doesn't plan to ask for any more money for Iraqi reconstruction.

Another Los Angeles Times report on Iraq reconstruction contains some jaw-dropping quotes from U.S. officials, who now seem to be lecturing the Iraqis on self-reliance. "The world is a competitive place," declared the economics counselor at the U.S. embassy. "No pain, no gain," said another official. "We were never intending to rebuild Iraq," said a third. We came, we saw, we conquered, we messed up your infrastructure, we're outta here.

Mr. Shlash certainly sounds as if he's given up expecting more American help. "The American donation is almost finished," he said, "and it was not that effective." Yet he also emphasized the obvious: partly because of the similar failure of reconstruction in the oil sector, Iraq's government doesn't have the funds to do much power plant construction. In fact, it will be hard pressed to maintain the capacity it has, and protect that capacity from insurgent attacks.

And if reconstruction stalls, as seems inevitable, it's hard to see how anything else in Iraq can go right.

So what does it mean that the Bush administration is apparently walking away from responsibility for Iraq's reconstruction? It means that the administration doesn't have a plan; it's entirely focused on short-term political gain. Mr. Bush is just getting by from sound bite to sound bite, while Iraq and America sink ever deeper into the quagmire.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

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Spy Scandal Not Going Away


Katherine Harris Not Going Away


Iraq Violence Not Going Away


Colin Powell Not Going away



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Saturday, January 21, 2006

mark schmitt says 

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Cynicism and the Anti-Entitlement

I used to be obsessed with the Medicare Prescription Drug bill, especially when I was starting my blog more than two years ago, but I haven"t written anything about it since the law took effect this month and all manner of chaos ensued. Why not? Aside from the usual excuses (Where"s that promised follow-up on lobbying reform? What about my half-finished takedown of the "unitary executive" theory?), none of this feels like news to me. Every single thing that"s happened this month was entirely predictable at the time the bill passed. Not just predictable, it was predicted, not just by me, but by everyone who wasn"t engaged in trying to get the bill passed or profit from it.

That"s a very important point to get across to the seniors who are now so predictably outraged. Their GOP representatives will blame it on "unintended consequences" and glitches in implementation, but that spin must not be allowed to stand. Every problem they are encountering was built in from the start in the structure that forces elderly and disabled people, their adult children or helpers, to make immensely complicated financial and medical choices, for a benefit that amounts to nothing more than a modest discount on wildly inflated prices. This is what they voted for, and they know it.

But this brings me to my main point: They really did know it. The Republican leaders who forced this bill through in a three-hour vote are many things, but they are not, in the main, complete idiots. They have their ideology about market systems and they don"t necessarily have an Yglesian appetite for analysis of policy detail, but they surely knew that there would be a backlash when this bill took effect. They had to have known it, at least some of them. They"ve got mommas. And yet as far as the public record shows, and accounts such as one published in The Hill on the anniversary of the three-hour vote which included a lot of the private conversations, none of this seemed to play any role in the debate. Advocates for the bill largely touted its immediate benefit for the President"s and their own reelection -- delivering on a promise, capturing the senior vote, never mind the details -- while opponents, or those who needed to be "persuaded," challenged the expense, or the betrayal of small government ideology, but for some reason never seemed to doubt the political calculation.

I"m skeptical, though. I think they expected a backlash and thought they could either ride it out or benefit from it. Sometime after the bill passed, I tried to write an essay called, "Bad government is good politics." It turned out not to be publishable because it was largely speculative and because the Medicare bill was really the only example I had at the time. But I wish I"d stuck with it. . My thesis was that Republicans knew there would be a backlash against the Medicare bill, but they understood that it would take the form of a backlash against government in general, and that would be to their advantage. Seniors struggling over a dining table covered with complicated forms, small-print prescriptions, and no-win choices weren"t going to be muttering, "Goddamn Dennis Hastert, I"m never voting for his party again." They would be muttering, "Damn government, can"t do anything right."

Seniors have been bonded to government, and hence to the Democratic Party, by the painless single-payer health system known as Medicare. The Medicare drug benefit would, in effect, reverse this bond. In another piece last year, I referred to the prescription drug benefit as an "anti-entitlement," because it takes all the advantages of an entitlement -- predictability, fairness, efficiency -- and turns them on their head. As I see it, the political goal of the Medicare drug bill was not to cement a new alliance between seniors and the Republican Party around a government program, but primarily to destabilize the old alliance.

Granted, this is a very different interprepretation of the political calculus than that advanced by Robert Novak, who claims that this was all a plan by Rove to capture the loyalty of lower-income seniors and it merely backfired. If that is true, the word "genius" must never again appear in the same sentence as "Karl Rove," and Tom DeLay"s reported contempt for Rove as a direct-mail guy with an outsized ego seems spot on.

As rage against the Medicare drug bill built, I predicted, Democrats would be unable to take advantage of it because of the Robert Samuelson-type conventional wisdom that the only good thing about the Republican bill was that it was cheaper and simpler than whatever expensive mess the Democrats would produce. Never mind that that wasn"t true. After all, Bill Clinton had proposed a plan in 2000 that, without cooking the books, was estimated to have cost $253 billion over ten years, had no donut hole, and, unlike this plan, would have covered every dime above $4,000 in prescription costs so no senior would be bankrupted by drug costs alone. That would have been a true entitlement, fair, efficient and predictable. Unfortunately, rather than pulling out that well-vetted plan, House Democrats played to expectations, treating the bill as a bidding war and opening the bidding at $1 trillion.

The backlash against the Medicare drug bill may or may not be a backlash against the people responsible for the Medicare drug bill. If it merely increases cynicism and deepens the sense that government can"t do anything right, then the ground remains fertile for the Republican anti-government message -- even if it is Republicans themselves who betrayed their own anti-government message. Democrats have a very complicated (but absolutely true) story to tell here: They have to show that the Medicare bill was a guaranteed disaster from the start, that its consequences were not accidental but imtimately related to the corruption of the Republican majority, and that there is an alternative that would do more an cost less, and that Democrats would make it happen. We cannot assume that this story will occur automatically to people as they struggle with the program.

There"s a similar problem with issues of corruption. The current scandal is huge, probably the biggest congressional corruption scandal ever, and provably a Republican scandal. But it"s nonetheless possible that, with the happy cooperation of the media, it will just increase the general sense that politicians are crooked, and some evidence from polling that that"s the case.Again, the story has to be clear, and accurate: The level and type of corruption in this enterprise were something we have never seen before, and they were endemic to this particular congressional leadership. This is not a natural thing that happens when one party holds power, and if Democrats hold power, things will be different. The rules, written and unwritten, will change.

But people have a natural inclination to believe in concepts like good intentions gone awry (Medicare) or that power inevitably corrupts. Those natural inclinations are right now a barrier to understanding the real true stories behind these two scandals.


http://markschmitt.typepad.com/decembrist/

James Wolcott Says 

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What a pathetic, posturing, blowhard country we've become. Yesterday a new audio surfaces from Osama bin Laden, the man many speculated was dead. The media and political response was a phony show of "strength" and an embarrassing self-contradiction. Now it doesn't take a terrorist expert to understand that when a charismatic figure who was instrumental in the deaths of 3000 Americans and remains apprehended four years later extends a "truce" to the U.S., that this is hardly a sign of weakness. It is a gesture of supreme, serene hauteur.
Mentally Ill Really Suffer From Bush Medicare Plan.

Friday, January 20, 2006

please sir....more 

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The mainstream media —at last catching up with the administration’s spin and mendacity—recently revealed that the Lincoln Group covertly paid Iraqi newspapers to print articles composed by the U.S. military but published as straight news items. The inside-the-Beltway group operated this program thanks to a $5 million dollar Pentagon contract. The story, first broken by the Los Angeles Times on November 30, is yet another illustration of the administration’s moral bankruptcy and failure to win hearts and minds abroad.

Both the ends and means of the Pentagon’s made-to-order Lincoln Group propaganda are, to say the least, questionable. The ostensible purpose of this propaganda—to obtain Iraqi support for the U.S. occupation of their country—is by the day becoming increasingly unjustifiable. A growing number of Americans who want our troops to withdraw from Iraq would agree with this view.

I suspect there is another, more down to earth motive for the just-exposed Pentagon propaganda, probably found among mid-level bureaucrats there whose careers depend on negotiating contracts with private, politically-connected PR firms peddling their Iraq “expertise.” These bureaucrats want to demonstrate to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the top brass that “something is being done” about moving the needle of Iraqi public opinion in favor of the U.S. They hope this evidence will shield the Secretary and his high-ranking military—traditionally little concerned about what civilians think—from criticism by Congress and elsewhere that they aren’t winning the ideological side of the so-called war on terror.

idiots


.....

house ethics committee all but defunct

Scheuer sets o Liely straight 

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BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: More threats from Bin Laden. In an audio tape broadcast by Al-Qaeda's best friend, Al-Jazeera, the terrorist Bin Laden says Al-Qaeda is planning a new attack on American soil. Joining us now from Washington, Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, and author of the best-selling book, Imperial Hubris. Mr Scheuer, it looks like a real tape. CIA says it's real, says this guy's still alive, and what do you think he's trying to accomplish here?

MICHAEL SCHEUER: What he's doing here, Mr O'Reilly, is again, as he did with the Europeans, giving the Americans one last warning before he attacks us. And he's very much speaking not only to Americans but to the Islamic world. Warning your enemy before you attack him is very much a tradition in Islam, from the Prophet to the times when Saladin was fighting the Crusaders. He would warn them, he would offer them a truce, he would try to go the extra mile before attacking him. So I think it's very important that we understand the context in which Bin Laden is speaking. Because I've heard other people today already saying that he's offering a truce because it's a sign of weakness, because we're beating him. And I think that's pretty far from the truth.

O'REILLY: But doesn't he have to save face in the Arab world, after the drone attack in Pakistan, and the Pakistani authorities say that a couple of big-shot Al-Qaedas were knocked out. It looks like the insurgents in Iraq are fighting Al-Qaeda. It looks like they are taking it on the chin. Doesn't he have to do something to rally his terror forces?

SCHEUER: I think, Mr O'Reilly, that in total we've overestimated the damage we've done to Al-Qaeda, and certainly in Iraq I think a lot has been made of one or two instances of conflict between one set of fighters and Al-Qaeda fighters. But in the bigger sense, it's always been a belief in the American government that, if someone doesn't attack us when we think he's going to, that he'll lose support in the Islamic world. And of course nothing happens in the Islamic world unless God wills it. If there's a failure, it's not exactly the failure of a person to carry out an attack. It's that God's will didn't, wasn't in favor of the attack at that moment. So, we very often try to put our way of thinking onto the enemy's way of thinking.

O'REILLY: I got it. So there's never a setback for Bin Laden. It's always Allah saying, for whatever reason, well I really didn't want anything to happen now.

SCHEUER: That's exactly right, sir. That's what gives them their steadfastness and their determination.

O'REILLY: Right. It wasn't our fault. It's that Allah just didn't sign on to murdering babies today.

SCHEUER: Well I think that might be a little strong, but--

O'REILLY: Well, I mean, you say it's a little strong, but aren't the Al-Qaedas murdering babies today? Are they not doing that?

SCHEUER: Well sure, sir. But I think we only bring that up because we somehow have convinced ourselves that war doesn't involve killing, and killing innocents.

O'REILLY: No no no, but I'm not bringing it up for that. I'm bringing it up to show the Islamic world, those Muslims who are watching us right now, the inconsistency of their thought. That, if there was a God that was actually wanting them to do whatever, how could He possibly want them to kill babies on any day? You know what I'm talking about?

SCHEUER: I don't quite follow it, sir. Because as much as I'd like to believe that human life is sacred in all instances, war, whether it's conducted by Americans or by British or by Chinese or by Muslims, war is just war. And it kills innocent people. And that's the way it is.

O'REILLY: But there's a way to wage it, and the way that the Al-Qaedas are waging it is by killing civilians. They are not waging in the conventional way, as you know.

SCHEUER: Well they are waging war in the conventional way that we waged war until 1945, sir, which is the last war we've won. Once we stopped waging war in the American fashion, we haven't won a war since.

O'REILLY: Well, I mean that's a good debate for another day. But I think that Americans in war wear uniforms, and fight for a flag. Al-Qaedas do not, and they attack civilian targets. And I'm not aware that Americans have done that in any of our wars, as a strategy. But I want to get one more--we had Dick Cheney in here talking to Neil Cavuto today.

SCHEUER: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: Cheney comes in, and--number one, do you believe he's the chief architect in the War on Terror? Do you believe Cheney is the chief guy?

SCHEUER: I think the President is the chief guy, sir. But I certainly think that Mr Cheney has an awfully big role in both Iraq and the War on Terror.

O'REILLY: OK. Now he comes in, and he's very cool and confident, as he usually is. He doesn't do a lot of media, but when you see him he's cool and confident. And he basically says, look. We could get attacked, but we have done a tremendous amount of damage to Al-Qaeda. This is Dick Cheney saying this to Neil Cavuto. Do you believe that?

SCHEUER: No, sir. He's whistling past the graveyard, sir. They have a body count of how many people we've killed in Al-Qaeda, but they never have had an idea of how big Al-Qaeda was, or is. So when Mr Cheney says that, it's simply to me a sign of panic. Because if Al-Qaeda attacks us again in the United States, the United States has absolutely nothing to respond against. Unless we're willing to take out a city like Riyad or Cairo. The President and the Vice-President and Mr Clinton before them play a very dangerous game here. Because if we are attacked again, what do we respond against? And to think that somehow we're winning this war is really to fly in the face of reality, sir.

O'REILLY: Is there anything we can do to win it?

SCHEUER: Yes, sir. We certainly have to kill more of the enemy. That's the first step.

O'REILLY: Any way we can?

SCHEUER: Anywhere we can, whenever we can, without a great deal of concern for civilian casualties. As I said, war is war. The people who got killed when they were hosting Zawahiri to dinner were not the friends of the United States.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr Scheuer, always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you very much for taking the time.

SCHEUER: It's always my pleasure, sir. Thank you.


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steve Gilliard says 

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It's really simple in the end.

Bush and Cheney are not Musolini or Stalin or Pinochet. They are Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocrat which ran Zaire into AIDS, Ebola and Civil War.

No need to blather on. Just consider these points:

* Despite a very expensive war, the President insists on tax cuts.

* In the days after 9/11, the Office of Management and Budget wanted to limit pain and suffering awards to $250,000

* Despite warnings, Bush placed industy allies throughout the government. Then he added on Republican cronies and friends.

* The Medicare D drug plan cannot bargain for lower prices, and requires seniors to get information from the Internet.

* The Coalition Provisional Authority which was supposed to help run Iraq's government, lost track of hundreds of millions of dollars, and hired from the Heritage Foundation resume pool.

* Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former employer, and subsidiaries have been accused of everything from serving bad food to overcharging for oil in Iraq

* The Bush Administration fired the US Attorney for Guam after he investigated factories on the island accused of slave labor and sexual slavery

* The New bankruptcy law may force millions into court to save what assets they can.

* Sen. Rick Santorum wanted to bar the National Weather Service from releasing it's data and competing with private weather services. Not two weeks later Katrina hits.

* The Federal Government directed charity relief to cronies like Pat Robertson.

* US soldiers are barred from private purchase body armor, despite it being more effective, and costing $6,000. Generals, however, are allowed to keep their versions.

* While thousands of servicemembers have died and been injured in Iraq, not one senior member of the Bush Administration has a family member serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan. To the best of anyone's knowledge, the Bush daughters travel with their mother on trips.

* Up to 60 Republican members of Congress may face investigation for corruption, while senior White House aides are still under investigation for releasing the name of a CIA officer.

* Despite a lack of armored vehicle and body armor, no move is made to find new suppliers or change the contracts, forcing soldiers to make do in combat.

* Think tank staffers, "journalists" and others are paid to create pro-government propaganda in US and foriegn media.

* Ohio's elected officials are ensnared in a scheme to buy coins as a pension investment with a Republican supporter, losing millions.

* Ohio's Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, is supported by churches accused of violating the law to support him.

This is a Kleptocracy, where Bush and the GOP try to enshrine a government of cronyism and incompetence, regardless of the harm caused.


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Fuck Chris Matthews 

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"You'd think the only focus tonight would be on destroying Osama Bin Laden, not comparing him to an American who opposes the war whether you like him or not. You want a real debate that America needs? Here goes: If the administration had done the job right in Tora Bora we might not be having discussions on Hardball about a new Bin Laden tape. How dare Scott McClellan tell America that this Administration puts terrorists out of business when had they put Osama Bin Laden out of business in Afghanistan when our troops wanted to, we wouldn't have to hear this barbarian's voice on tape. That's what we should be talking about in America." -- John Kerry

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Nation of Idiots 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearing a diploma, most college students cannot handle many complex but common tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food.

Those are the sobering findings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers.

More than 50% of students at four-year schools and more than 75% at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization.

Most students at community colleges and four-year schools showed intermediate skills, meaning they could perform moderately challenging tasks. Examples include identifying a location on a map, calculating the cost of ordering office supplies or consulting a reference guide to figure out which foods contain a particular vitamin.



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great day for controversy 

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The Democrats were throwing haymakers at the White House this week, but they will never succeed as long as they’re perceived as the party in skirts.”

--Maureen Dowd


Bob Somerby Says

During Campaign 2000, Gore “allowed himself to be painted as a girlie man,” Dowd laments. But she forgets to say who provided the paint—a harpy by the name of Maureen Dowd.

Yes, when it came to painting Gore as girlie, few were more deeply involved than Mo Dowd. Along with Frank Rich, she invented the ludicrous Love Story nonsense back in the fall of 1997. And two autumns later, she stood in the forefront as her class charged Gore with “girlie-man” crimes for dealing with vile Naomi Wolf. Dowd had long had a problem with Wolf, who is smarter, more sincere, and better-looking than she. Result? When it turned out that Wolf was advising Gore (she had also advised the ’96 Clinton campaign), Dowd invented fake facts and phony quotes, putting the skirts on poor Al. “[W]hen a man has to pony up a fortune to a woman to teach him how to be a man, that definitely takes the edge off his top-dogginess,” Dowd deliciously wrote—reciting the utterly fatuous line the RNC was enthusiastically pimping. Al Gore paid a woman to teach him to be a man! All the flunkies and hacks were reciting—but none with more feeling than Dowd.

For ourselves, we marveled this week as the liberal web thrilled to Monday’s speech by Gore. For ourselves, we were somewhat less impressed; we think Dems must do a better job of explaining what’s wrong with the eavesdropping matter. (Explaining to voters, not to themselves. Today’s fiery liberals are extremely good at knowing how to convince each other.) But how they all love Gore today! And how they all shut up when it mattered, when Dowd and her crew were waging the war which put George Bush in the White House!

Fuck Modo



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Baiji has emerged as a critical priority for the U.S. military because of its importance to Iraq's oil industry, a fact underscored last month when insurgent threats forced officials to shut down the country's biggest oil refinery here, which handles 200,000 barrels a day.

But the city was virtually unknown territory when Davis's platoon -- part of Bulldog Company of the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment -- and hundreds of other 101st Airborne soldiers were dispatched into the heart of Baiji for the first time last fall, Army officers here say. The knowledge deficit has proven to be deadly.

Like many small cities and towns in Iraq, Baiji, with a population of about 60,000, has long festered as an insurgent haven while U.S. commanders concentrated their limited forces in large cities such as Baghdad and Mosul. Previous American units stayed mostly outside the city, and intelligence was minimal, officers say.

Insurgents In Charge


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The evidence showed that abusive interrogation cannot be reduced to the misdeeds of a few low-ranking soldiers, but was a conscious policy choice by senior U.S. government officials. The policy has hampered Washington’s ability to cajole or pressure other states into respecting international law, said the 532-page volume’s introductory essay.

“Fighting terrorism is central to the human rights cause,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “But using illegal tactics against alleged terrorists is both wrong and counterproductive.”

Official Policy - Not Abberation


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One of the puzzles if you're in the news business is figuring out what's "news." The fate of your local football team certainly fits the definition. So does a plane crash or a brutal murder. But how about changes in the migratory patterns of butterflies?

Scientists believe that new habitats for butterflies are early effects of global climate change -- but that isn't news, by most people's measure. Neither is declining rainfall in the Amazon, or thinner ice in the Arctic. We can't see these changes in our personal lives, and in that sense, they are abstractions. So they don't grab us the way a plane crash would -- even though they may be harbingers of a catastrophe that could, quite literally, alter the fundamentals of life on the planet. And because they're not "news," the environmental changes don't prompt action, at least not in the United States.

What got me thinking about the recondite life rhythms of the planet, and not the 24-hour news cycle, was a recent conversation with a scientist named Thomas E. Lovejoy, who heads the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. When I first met Lovejoy nearly 20 years ago, he was trying to get journalists like me to pay attention to the changes in the climate and biological diversity of the Amazon. He is still trying, but he's beginning to wonder if it's too late.

Is it me or is it getting warm in here?

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WASHINGTON - Six former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency — five Republicans and one Democrat — accused the Bush administration Wednesday of neglecting global warming and other environmental problems.

EPA heads come out against Bush

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

ron kovic says 

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Thirty-eight years ago, on Jan. 20, 1968, I was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam. It is a date that I can never forget, a day that was to change my life forever.
Each year as the anniversary of my wounding in the war approached I would become extremely restless, experiencing terrible bouts of insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks and horrifying nightmares. I dreaded that day and what it represented, always fearing that the terrible trauma of my wounding might repeat itself all over again. It was a difficult day for me for decades and it remained that way until the anxieties and nightmares finally began to subside.

As I now contemplate another January 20th I cannot help but think of the young men and women who have been wounded in the war in Iraq. They have been coming home now for almost three years, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals all across the country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, over 16,000 of them, a whole new generation of severely maimed is returning from Iraq, young men and women who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx veterans hospital in 1968.

I, like most other Americans, have occasionally seen them on TV or at the local veterans hospital, but for the most part they remain hidden, like the flag-draped caskets of our dead, returned to Dover Air Force Base in the darkness of night as this administration continues to pursue a policy of censorship, tightly controlling the images coming out of that war and rarely ever allowing the human cost of its policy to be seen.

Mosul, Fallouja, Basra, Baghdad, a roadside bomb, an RPG, an ambush, the bullets cracking all around them, the reality that they are in a war, that they have suddenly been hit. No more John Wayne-Audie Murphy movie fantasies. No more false bravado, stirring words of patriotism, romantic notions of war or what it might really mean to be in combat, to sacrifice for one's country. All that means nothing now. The reality has struck, the awful, shocking and frightening truth of what it really means to be hit by a bullet, an RPG, an improvised explosive device, shrapnel, a booby trap, friendly fire. They are now in a life-and-death situation and they have suddenly come face to face with the foreign policy of their own nation. The initial shock is wearing off; the painful reality is beginning to sink in, clearly something terrible has happened, something awful and inexplicable.

All the conditioning, all the discipline, shouting, screaming, bullying and threatening verbal abuse of their boot camp drill instructors have now disappeared in this one instant, in this one damaging blow. All they want to do now is stay alive, keep breathing, somehow get out of this place anyway they can. People are dying all around them, someone has been shot and killed right next to them and behind them but all they can really think of at this moment is staying alive.

You don't think of God, or praying, or even your mother or your father. There is no time for that. Your heart is pounding. Blood is seeping out. You will always go back to that day, that moment you got hit, the day you nearly died yet somehow survived. It will be a day you will never forget--when you were trapped in that open area and could not move, when bullets were cracking all around you, when the first Marine tried to save you and was shot dead at your feet and the second, a black Marine--whom you would never see again and who would be killed later that afternoon--would carry you back under heavy fire.

You are now with other wounded all around you heading to a place where there will be help. There are people in pain and great distress, shocked and stunned, frightened beyond anything you can imagine. You are afraid to close your eyes. To close your eyes now means that you may die and never wake up. You toss and turn, your heart pounding, racked with insomnia ... and for many this will go on for months, years after they return home.

They are being put on a helicopter, with the wounded all around them. They try to stay calm. Some are amazed that they are still alive. You just have to keep trying to stay awake, make it to the next stage, keep moving toward the rear, toward another aid station, a corpsman, a doctor a nurse someone who can help you, someone who will operate and keep you alive so you can make it home, home to your backyard and your neighbors and your mother and father. To where it all began, to where it was once peaceful and safe. They just try to keep breathing because they have got to get back.

They are in the intensive-care ward now, the place where they will be operated on, and where in Vietnam a Catholic priest gave me the Last Rites. Someone is putting a mask over their faces just as they put one over mine in Da Nang in 1968. There is the swirl of darkness and soon they awaken to screams all around them. The dead and dying are everywhere. There are things here you can never forget, images and sounds and smells that you will never see on TV or read about in the newspapers. The black pilot dying next to me as the corpsman and nurse tried furiously to save him, pounding on his chest with their fists as they laughed and joked trying to keep from going insane. The Green Beret who died of spinal meningitis, the tiny Vietnamese nun handing out apples and rosary beads to the wounded, the dead being carted in and out like clockwork,19- and 20-year-olds.

There is the long flight home packed with the wounded all around you, every conceivable and horrifying wound you could imagine. Even the unconscious and brain-dead whose minds have been blown apart by bullets and shrapnel make that ride with you, because we are all going home now, back to our country. And this is only the beginning.

The frustrations, anger and rage, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety attacks, terrible restlessness and desperate need to keep moving will come later, but for now we are so thankful to have just made it out of that place, so grateful to be alive even with these grievous wounds.

I cannot help but wonder what it will be like for the young men and women wounded in Iraq. What will their homecoming be like? I feel close to them. Though many years separate us we are brothers and sisters. We have all been to the same place. For us in 1968 it was the Bronx veterans hospital paraplegic ward, overcrowded, understaffed, rats on the ward, a flood of memories and images, I can never forget; urine bags overflowing onto the floor. It seemed more like a slum than a hospital. Paralyzed men lying in their own excrement, pushing call buttons for aides who never came, wondering how our government could spend so much money (billions of dollars) on the most lethal, technologically advanced weaponry to kill and maim human beings but not be able to take care of its own wounded when they came home.

Will it be the same for them? Will they have to return to these same unspeakable conditions? Has any of it changed? I have heard that our government has already attempted to cut back millions in much needed funds for veterans hospitals--and this when thousands of wounded soldiers are returning from Iraq. Will they too be left abandoned and forgotten by a president and administration whose patriotic rhetoric does not match the needs of our wounded troops now returning? Do the American people, the president, the politicians, senators and congressmen who sent us to this war have any idea what it really means to lose an arm or a leg, to be paralyzed, to begin to cope with the psychological wounds of that war? Do they have any concept of the long-term effects of these injuries, how the struggles of the wounded are only now just beginning? How many will die young and never live out their lives because of all the stress and myriad of problems that come with sending young men and women into combat?

It is so difficult at first. You return home and both physically and emotionally don't know how you are going to live with this wound, but you just keep trying, just keep waking up to this frightening reality every morning. "My God, what has happened to me?" But you somehow get up, you somehow go on and find a way to move through each day. Even though it is impossible, you go on. Maybe there will be a day years from now, if you are lucky to live that long, when it will get better and you will not feel so overwhelmed. You must have something to hope for, some way to believe it will not always be this way. This is exactly what many of them are going through right now.

They are alone in their rooms all over this country, right now. Just as I was alone in my room in Massapequa. I know they're there--just as I was. This is the part you never see. The part that is never reported in the news. The part that the president and vice president never mention. This is the agonizing part, the lonely part, when you have to awake to the wound each morning and suddenly realize what you've lost, what is gone forever. They're out there and they have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives and children. And they're not saying much right now. Just like me they're just trying to get through each day. Trying to be brave and not cry. They still are extremely grateful to be alive, but slowly, agonizingly they are beginning to think about what has really happened to them.

What will it be like for them when one morning they suddenly find themselves naked sitting before that mirror in their room and must come face to face with their injury? I want to reach out to them. I want them to know that I've been there too. I want to just sit with them in their room and tell them that they must not give up. They must try to be patient, try to just get through each day, each morning, each afternoon any way they can. That no matter how impossible and frustrating it may seem, how painful, regardless of the anxiety attacks and nightmares and thoughts of suicide, they must not quit. Somewhere out there there will be a turning point, somewhere through this all they will find a reason to keep on living.

In the months and years that are to follow, others will be less fortunate. Young men and women who survived the battlefield, the intensive-care ward, veterans hospitals and initial homecoming will be unable to make the difficult and often agonizing adjustment.

Is this what is awaiting all of them? Is this the nightmare no one ever told them about, the part no one now wants to talk about or has the time to deal with? The car accidents, and drinking and drug overdoses, the depression, anger and rage, spousal abuse, bedsores and breakdowns, prison, homelessness, sleeping under the piers and bridges. The ones who never leave the hospital, the ones who can't hold a job, can't keep a relationship together, can't love or feel any emotions anymore, the brutal insomnia that leaves you exhausted and practically unable to function, the frightening anxiety attacks that come upon you when you least expect them, and always the dread that each day may be your last.

Marty, Billy, Bobby, Max, Tom, Washington, Pat, Joe? I knew them all. It's a long list. It's amazing that you're still alive when so many others you knew are dead, and at such a young age. Isn't all this dying supposed to happen when you're much older? Not now, not while we're so young. How come the recruiters never mentioned these things? This was never in the slick pamphlets they showed us! This should be a time of innocence, a time of joy and happiness, no cares and youthful dreams--not all these friends dying so young, all this grief and numbness, emptiness and feelings of being so lost.

The physical and psychological battles from the war in Iraq will rage on for decades, deeply impacting the lives of citizens in both our countries.

As this the 38th anniversary of my wounding in Vietnam approaches, in many ways I feel my injury in that war has been a blessing in disguise. I have been given the opportunity to move through that dark night of the soul to a new shore, to gain an understanding, a knowledge, an entirely different vision. I now believe that I have suffered for a reason and in many ways I have found that reason in my commitment to peace and nonviolence. We who have witnessed the obscenity of war and experienced its horror and terrible consequences have an obligation to rise above our pain and suffering and turn the tragedy of our lives into a triumph. I have come to believe that there is nothing in the lives of human beings more terrifying than war and nothing more important than for those of us who have experienced it to share its awful truth.

We must break this cycle of violence and begin to move in a different direction; war is not the answer, violence is not the solution. A more peaceful world is possible.

I am the living death
The memorial day on wheels
I am your yankee doodle dandy
Your John Wayne come home
Your Fourth of July firecracker
Exploding in the grave




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