Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush Thinks You're Stupid, 34 Democrats Do Too, $2 Billion a Week, Parsons Corp., $50 Billion War, Yankee Go Home and Nailing 'em to the Door.

How does it feel to know that your president thinks your stupid? Giving a speech to a group of like-minded cretins at a Republican fundraiser, he said that anyone who didn't agree with his position on the Iraq war, were "cut and run obstructionists". He also feels that anyone who agrees with the National Intelligence Estimate, that the Iraq War is a breeding ground for new terrorists, can have no other reason for thier conclusions, than political motivation.

To show just how disconnected from reality the President of the United States really is, he said,

"Saddam Hussein's regime was a serious threat," Bush said, adding that had he
not been removed from power, the former Iraqi leader would still be killing
innocent people, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and firing at U.S. pilots.

"Americans, Iraqis and the world are safer because Saddam is not in

He thinks that we are too dim-witted to realize that innocent people in Iraq are being killed everyday, that the intelligence he used on WMDs was cherry-picked and wrong and that no one is shooting at American Pilots since Mr. Bush lived out his fantasy and invaded Iraq.

And if you think that Americans, Iraqis and the world are now a safer now, trust me, you're living in right wing Fantasyland.

But Bush isn't alone in thinking that we're moronic. 34 Congressmen masquerading as Democrats, went along with the Republicans and voted to do away with due process for anyone that Bush wants to term as "enemy combatants". He's already calling us "cut and run obstructionists", how long will it be before he starts thinking we're "enemy combatants"?

The House approved an administration-backed system of questioning and
prosecuting terrorism suspects yesterday, setting clearer limits on CIA
interrogation techniques but denying access to courts for detainees seeking to
challenge their imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.

253 to 168 vote was a victory for President Bush and fellow Republicans. Bush
had yielded some ground during weeks of negotiations, but he fully embraced the
language that the House approved with support from 34 Democrats and all but
seven Republicans.

Here are the 34 pitiful excuses for Democrat Congressmen:

Robert Andrews, John Barrow, Melissa Bean, Sanford Bishop, Dan Boren, Leonard Boswell, Allen Boyd, Sherrod Brown, Ben Chandler, Bud Cramer, Henry Cuellar, Lincoln Davis, Artur Davis, Chet Edwards, Bob Etheridge, Harold Ford, Bart Gordon, Stephanie Herseth, Brian Higgins, Tim Holden, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Charles Melancon, Michael Michaud, Dennis Moore, Collin Peterson, Earl Pomeroy, Mike Ross, John Salazar, David Scott, John Spratt, John Tanner, Gene Taylor

Remember them, they're not on the same side as those of us who believe in the Constitution.

Instead of the noble cause that President Bush like to call his mess, Iraq is actually more of a money pit for American taxpayers and a slush fund for government contractors. Just like Bush, you can be completely inept and still score big in government work.

The contractor that botched construction of a $75 million police academy in
Baghdad so badly that it was deemed a health risk has produced shoddy work on 13
out of 14 projects reviewed by federal auditors, the top official monitoring
Iraq's reconstruction told Congress today.

The projects managed by
California-based Parsons Corp. are at the heart of the $21 billion U.S.-led Iraq
reconstruction program, including fire stations, border forts and health care
facilities. The one project for which construction work met standards -- a
prison -- was cancelled by the government before it was completed because of
escalating costs.

But at $2 billion dollars a week, there's plenty for these parasites to feed on.

WASHINGTON -- A new congressional analysis shows the Iraq war is now costing
taxpayers almost $2 billion a week -- nearly twice as much as in the first year
of the conflict three years ago and 20 percent more than last year -- as the
Pentagon spends more on establishing regional bases to support the extended
deployment and scrambles to fix or replace equipment damaged in combat.

Do you remember the White House pre-war cost estimates of the Iraq War? It's just so hard to believe that there are still people in this country who'll believe anything that comes out of George Bush's mouth.

All this we know. Less well remembered nowadays, though -- in fact, almost never
discussed in the major media -- was another implicit prong of the argument: that
invading Iraq would be cheap and easy, leaving plenty of resources for other
purposes. When White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey stumbled off
message in September 2002 with his prediction that war could cost $100 billion
to $200 billion, the administration flew into crisis mode. Budget Director Mitch
Daniels was trotted out to label the estimate “very, very high.” Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz opined -- in testimony to Congress, no less -- that
reconstruction would cost virtually nothing in light of Iraq’s promising oil
revenues. Daniels proffered an estimate in the $50 billion to $60 billion range,
substantially less than the $80 billion inflation-adjusted cost of the Persian
Gulf War. Lindsey, famously, was soon after fired -- for his troublesome cost
estimates and, reportedly, the President’s annoyance at his poor personal
fitness habits.

And all this, for what? A country that wants us to get the hell out of there. Iraq is apparently full of "cut and run obstructionists".

(CNN) -- Seventy-one percent of Iraqis responding to a new survey favor a
commitment by U.S.-led forces in Iraq to withdraw in a year.

majority of respondents to the University of Maryland poll said that "they would
like the Iraqi government to ask for U.S.-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq
within a year or less," according to the survey's summary.

Check out the real reasons for Bush's and the Republican's facade of concern about your security. A NYT editorial that really nails them to the barn door. And don't forget about the pond scum Democrats that vote with them, please.

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly
important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush
administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through
ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and
do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing
nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles
to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for
charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11
attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have
been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them
in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials
very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to
convict them.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the
bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign
citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite
detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply
this label to anyone he wanted.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NIE, Bill Clinton Interview, Right Wing Propaganda Blitz, Condoleezza, Hillary, Hurricanes, PR Administartion, Spys R Us, Emily Perez and D.C. Greed.

The combination of the National Intelligence Estimate and Bill Clinton's interview on FoxNews has really stirred up the right wing anthill.

Hardly suprising, since both, pretty well blows away the BS that they've been spoon-feeding the American people for years.

On top of these two blows to right wing propaganda, the President decided to release parts of the NEI to prove that his little adventure into Iraq hasn't made the terrorist problem worse.

Here's what the President released, see for yourself if you think it helped or hurt his argument. And keep in mind that the White House would probably only release what they thought would make them look good. This should give you some idea of what the rest of the report looks like.

With these attacks on the right wing's fantasyland of lies, their propaganda department brought out the big guns. They trot out Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who promptly states that Clinton's statements were "flatly false." She went on to say, and this is the clincher,

"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton
administration did in the preceding years."

"We were not left a
comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida,"

Let's check the veracity of Condi's statements.

The Bush Administration cancelled or cut back Operation CATCHERS MITT, the
highly classified ongoing CIA and FBI operation that tracked al-Qaeda operatives
known to be inside the U.S. during the summer of 2001. This was done without
notifying the existing counter-terrorism policy board in Washington, then headed
by Richard Clarke, a Clinton holdover.

This fatal decision by Bush's
national security staff was part of the planned revamping of the Clinton
counter-terrorism program, and ongoing operations were put on hold or cut off
entirely while Rice and Hadley worked with CIA Director Tenet on the
Administration's new al-Qaeda strategy.

NEW YORK, March 21 PRNewswire -- Newsweek has learned that in the months before
9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called
"Catcher's Mitt" to monitor Al Qaeda suspects in the United States, after a
federal judge severely chastised the FBI for improperly seeking permission to
wiretap terrorists. During the Bush administration's first few months in office,
Attorney General John Ashcroft downgraded terrorism as a priority, choosing to
place more emphasis on drug trafficking and gun violence, report Investigative
Correspondent Michael Isikoff and Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas in the
March 29 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 22).

Clarke, former counterterrorism chief of the national-security staff, tells
Newsweek that at an April 2001 top-level meeting to discuss terrorism, his
effort to focus on Al Qaeda was rebuffed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz. According to Clarke, Wolfowitz said, "Who cares about a little
terrorist in Afghanistan?" The real threat, Wolfowitz insisted, was
state-sponsored terrorism orchestrated by Saddam Hussein.

And according to Richard Clarke, Bush's former top anti-terrorism adviser, the Bush Administration didn't take Al Queda seriously.

Clarke also tells CBS News Correspondent Lesley Stahl that White House officials
were tepid in their response when he urged them months before Sept. 11 to meet
to discuss what he saw as a severe threat from al Qaeda.

"Frankly," he
said, "I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the
grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He
ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop
9/11. Maybe. We'll never know."

Clarke went on to say, "I think he's
done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton jumps in and turns it into a catfight. The question is why did the Democrats wait five years to call the right on their lies.

"I think my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not
going to take these attacks," Hillary Clinton said. "I'm certain that if my
husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report
entitled 'Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the United States' he would have
taken it more seriously than history suggests it was taken by our current
president and his national security team."

Think Progress has more here.

I mean really, how can anyone with two functioning brain cells to rub together, believe
anything from an administration that blocked the release of a report that says
global warming is causing more and bigger hurricanes?

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has blocked release of a report that
suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength of
hurricanes, the journal Nature reported Tuesday.

The same administration that has to rely on public relation campaigns because they have no positive results to show.

BAGHDAD A public relations company known for its role in a controversial
U.S. military program that paid Iraqi newspapers for stories favorable to
coalition forces has been awarded another multimillion dollar media contract
with American forces in Iraq.

The idea is to use the information to
"build support" in Iraqi, Arabic,
international and U.S. audiences for what
the military describes as its goals in
Iraq, such as destroying the
insurgency and helping Iraqis build a democracy,
according to contract

"I wish that our problem in Iraq was that the military wasn't
getting good
PR," Andrews said. "The problem seems to be that the country is
sliding into
civil war."

The administration that is more concerned with being able to spy on the American people,
than do anything that might benefit the American people.

At administration insistence, Senate negotiators agreed to steer legal
rulings about the president's broad surveillance to the Court of Review, a
little-known appeals court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
The three-judge court has rendered only one opinion in its 30-year
history, and
that opinion included its view that the president has inherent
authority to eavesdrop without warrants as part of the U.S.
effort against

And why would anyone believe an administration whose lies led to the death of the first minority female command sergeant in the history of the U.S. Military Academy. Emily Perez.

"For me, yeah, like, it's just an eye-opener," agreed Meghan Venable-Thomas, 21,
a senior who also ran track and sang in the choir with Perez, who graduated last
year. "She was like a little superwoman . . . so full of energy and life, and
she was just willing to do anything."

Finally, Washington D.C. remains oblivious to everything except, "What can I get out of it." My apologies to all those hard working government employees, who take their jobs seriously and actually care.

A Web site documenting the salaries of the roughly 20,000 Capitol Hill
employees went live last week -- and almost as soon came crashing down.

No, it didn't get shut down by a judge's order claiming that private
information had been leaked. By law, the salaries of Hill staffers have long
been available in thick books in the offices of the House and Senate clerks. The
site came down because of the rush of traffic from computers housed in Congress
-- and elsewhere.

"I've heard some people say they're gong to use this information as
leverage," said a House staffer who has worked on the Hill for six years.
"There's no uniformity to what people make."

Another House aide said he wished the site was available when he was
negotiating his job three years ago. "Negotiating a salary for a new job is
never a totally comfortable process, and this information would certainly give
you a leg up as a job candidate," the aide said.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Robert Kagen, NIE, BSs, Rumsfeld, Army Stretched Thin, Afghanistan, Lebanon, War at Home and Clinton vs FoxNews.

Since the release of the Naional Intelligence Estimate by the Natonal Intelligence Council, that stated that the war in Iraq is the primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, the right wing propaganda machine has gone into overdrive trying to denounce it.

For most of us the NIE just confirmed what we had already suspected and thought obvious.

For the right, however, these findings struck at the very core of their grand neocon,imperial, experiment to bring Iraq's oil fields under American control in the guise of bring democracy to the Middle East.

So, taking time off from their regular job of blaming Clinton for 9/11, they're repudiating the NIE report.

Neocon propagandist Robert Kagen has an editorial in the Washington Post today, in which he basically blows off the findings of the intelligence experts. As we've learned since Bush has become president, intelligence is just something to be ignored.

The biggest problem that Kagen finds is that, since the report hasn't been released, we should pay no attention to the statements made by the people who have seen it.

It's too bad we won't get to see the full National Intelligence Estimate on
"Trends in Global Terrorism" selectively leaked to The Post and the New York
Times last week. The Times headline read "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens
Terrorism Threat." But there were no quotations from the NIE itself, so all we
have are journalists' characterizations of anonymous comments by government
officials, whose motives and reliability we can't judge, about intelligence
assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way
of knowing or gauging. Based on the press coverage alone, the NIE's judgment
seems both impressionistic and imprecise. On such an important topic, it would
be nice to have answers to a few questions.

He neglects to mention that the reason we won't be seeing it is because President Bush won't release it.

Well, is the threat now worse because of Bush's war in Iraq? Does the NIE say
the war has made the jihadist threat more dangerous? The White House could
resolve this very quickly by declassifying the NIE. If the report contains
nuances or success stories not conveyed by the Times report (and those of other
newspapers), releasing the report will clear things up.

Kagen goes on to say,

For instance, what specifically does it mean to say that the Iraq war has
worsened the "terrorism threat"? Presumably, the NIE's authors would admit that
this is speculation rather than a statement of fact, since the facts suggest

I don't know where neocons get their facts from, but the facts that I've found suggest that the NIE report is right on the money.

2003: The State Department's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report now counts 208 terrorist attacks as having occurred in 2003, with 625 dead. When the report was released in April, it counted 307 deaths in a total of 190 terror attacks.

2004: There were 3,192 terrorist attacks in 2004, the center reported last July.

2005: The number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005 to 11,111, with strikes in Iraq accounting for 30 percent of the total, according to statistics released by U.S. counterterrorism officials yesterday.

As proof of the rise in the numbers of terrorist attacks, the Bush Adminsitration has tried, unsuccessfully, to cover them up.

Washington - The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on
international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded
that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the
first year the publication covered.

If you like right wing misdirection, enjoy Kagen's column. If you prefer the truth, read what retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste has to say on the subject.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The conduct of the Iraq war fueled Islamic fundamentalism
across the globe and created more enemies for the United States, a retired U.S.
Army general who served in the conflict said on Monday.

The views of retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste appeared to buttress a grim
assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded the war had inspired
Islamist extremists and made the growing militant movement more dangerous.

Nancy Gregg, at profiles the folks that will read Kagen's column and think it makes sense. GOP+WOT=WTF?!? It's good stuff.

These sheeple are unwavering in their belief that their president and his
administration are the smartest guys in the room, even though none of them
anticipated that planes could be used as missiles, or that there’d be an
insurgency in Iraq. As for the fact that if the levees broke in a hurricane,
water might actually find its way into New Orleans – come on, people, who could
possibly have seen that coming?

And now we have a president who still garners the worship of his do-gooder,
Jesus-loving, Bible-thumpin’ constituents when he says provisions prohibiting
torture are murky and vague, and need to be reassessed or completely done way

Of course, it never occurs to the BSers that if we were going to dispense
with every document the Idiot-in-Chief doesn’t understand, all we’d be left with
is The Pet Goat and a handful of Henry cartoons.

A Progressive Daily Beacon opinion piece explains why the right is so fired up over the NIE report.

Understanding then, that the Republican Party and administration are less
concerned with policy success and doing right by the American people, and more
with being able to maintain political power and, too, the political slights of
hand they employ as the means and methods of retaining that power; it is easier
to put into context their reaction to the National Intelligence Estimate. That
reaction, of course, was not one of concern about the security of the nation or
the safety of the American people, but rather frantic and calculated spin.

Now that a majority of Americans are starting to see the Iraq war in the cold, clear light of reality, instead of the warm, rosy glow of White House spin and with elections coming up, the NIE report couldn't have come at a worse time for the people whose lies led us into it.

Among the most visible critics of the administration's approach have been
generals, vets, parents with sons and daughters in the military, and foreign
policy realists who think of themselves as moderate or even conservative
opponents of what they see as the administration's radical direction.

That is why news over the weekend of a National Intelligence Estimate on
Iraq is especially troublesome for Republican electoral chances. By finding that
the war in Iraq has encouraged global terrorism and spawned a new generation of
Islamic radicals, the report by 16 government intelligence services undercuts
the administration's central argument that the Iraq war has made the United
States safer.

We got three retired military officers testifying on the Hill today that Rumfeld ought to resign. While I agree that Rumsfeld is about as useful as dog vomit, I see no reason for him to resign. Mainly because Bush will just replace him with another usless fool who will be just as detrimental to our military as Rumfeld is.

Three retired military officers who served in Iraq called today for the
resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, telling a Democratic
"oversight hearing" on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon chief bungled planning for
the U.S. invasion, dismissed the prospect of an insurgency and sent American
troops into the fray with inadequate equipment.

Rumsfeld's grasp of strategy can be plainly seen in the latest Army announcement. For the Bush Administration that used to brag that our military had the capability to win two wars at the same time, reality has just trumped fantasy. It's the soldiers who pay for right wing incompetence.

WASHINGTON -- The Army is stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it is again
extending the combat tours of thousands of soldiers beyond the promised 12
months _ the second such move since August


Gary Brecher has the best explanation of the war in Afghanistan that I've run across. It's also funnier than hell.

Except the new wars just don't work that way. The tough part was really just
beginning. The biggest problem once we took Kabul was tribal. Reporters are
always calling the Taliban "Islamic extremists," but it's way simpler than that:
the Talibs are Pushtun, and our allies in the Northern Alliance were their old
tribal enemies the Tajiks, Uzbeks and a few free-agent Hazaras.

The Pushtun are the biggest tribe in the country, if you can call it that,
by far. Afghanistan is 42% Pushtun, and the second-biggest group, the Tajiks,
are only 27%. Pushtuns are -- now how can I say this nicely? -- insane. The
craziest Taliban rules, like demanding every man have a beard that was at least
ZZ Top length, aren't Mohammed's rules; they're just Pushtun tribal ways.

The fighting may be over in Lebanon, but the killing goes on. Thanks to modern weapons southern Lebanon will remain lethal for quite a while.

The scourge of munitions from the cluster bombs now littering southern Lebanon,
mostly American-made but some manufactured in Israel, will be a "lasting
legacy," the United Nations has said. U.N. officials estimate that the Israeli
military fired 90 percent of the bombs during the last 72 hours of the conflict,
which began on July 12 after Hezbollah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers in a
cross-border raid and ended with a cease-fire on Aug. 14. As many as 1 million
of the bomblets are unexploded, they say, wounding or killing three people a
day. The threat of stumbling across a bomblet has paralyzed life in parts of the
south that depend on the harvest of tobacco and now-abandoned groves of bananas,
olives and citrus.

Meanwhile the war at home goes on unabated. Bush Administration and Republicans are unrelenting in their attempts to undermine the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. It's just amazing to me how they can do this and wave the flag and thump the Bible at the same time.

But civil libertarians and surveillance experts say the changes are less
significant than the senators believe. Kate Martin, director of the Center for
National Security Studies, said the legislation still amounts to a sweeping
rewrite of federal law to allow the president to conduct "massive warrantless
surveillance of Americans" with no court oversight

It's looks like they want to start calling American citizens "unlawful combatants".

The definition applies to foreigners living inside or outside the United States
and does not rule out the possibility of designating a U.S. citizen as an
unlawful combatant. It is broader than that in last week's version of the bill,
which resulted from lengthy, closed-door negotiations between senior
administration officials and dissident Republican senators. That version
incorporated a definition backed by the Senate dissidents: those "engaged in
hostilities against the United States."

Daily Kos describes these attempts to do away with your Constitional rights like this,

McCain says Bush gets to decide, and with habeus corpus now out the window, you
don't get to go to court to challenge it. This
is the compromise
those principled, independent Republican Senators reached
with Bush on who is an unlawful combatant:

The definition applies to foreigners living inside or outside the United
States and does not rule out the possibility of designating a U.S. citizen as an
unlawful combatant. It is broader than that in last week's version of the bill,
which resulted from lengthy, closed-door negotiations between senior
administration officials and dissident Republican senators. That version
incorporated a definition backed by the Senate dissidents: those "engaged in
hostilities against the United States."...

Spokesmen for John W. Warner (R-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O.
Graham (R-S.C.) -- the senators leading negotiations with the Bush
administration -- did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the new
language, but others on Capitol Hill said the three had accepted it.

Under a separate provision, those held by the CIA or the U.S. military as an
unlawful enemy combatant would be barred from challenging their detention or the
conditions of their treatment in U.S. courts unless they were first tried,
convicted and appealed their conviction.

And finally Keith Olbermann's comments on the Fox News interview with Bill Clinton. You can find a complete transcript of the interview here.

And finally tonight, a Special Comment about President Clinton’s interview. The
headlines about them are, of course, entirely wrong. It is not essential that a
past President, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster,
finally lashed back.

It is not important that the current President’s "portable public chorus"
has described his predecessor’s tone as "crazed."

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an
administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation’s
"marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant
that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit. Nonetheless.

The headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five
years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential

Monday, September 25, 2006

Iraq Successes?, Bush Anguishes, Iraq United, Talibani, Hastert Won't Budge, Gullible McCain, Lost Democrats, Bernie Ebbers and Abstinence Only lesson

I saw the headline, Negroponte Highlights U.S. Successes, and I thought "Wow! This ought to be good".

I was really looking forward to reading about what the Bush Administration considers successes in Iraq.

Now I know how to take absolutely nothing and write a whole article about it.

I read the article, and this is what I get.

"What we have said, time and again, is that while there is much that remains to
be done in the war on terror, we have achieved some notable successes against
the global jihadist threat," Negroponte said in a statement. "The conclusions of
the intelligence community are designed to be comprehensive, and viewing them
through the narrow prism of a fraction of judgments distorts the broad framework
they create."

Not one example of any kind of success was given. The reason is obvious. The headline is White House BS.

The latest White House PR campaign seems to be showing President Bush as a man who feels anguish over all the deaths that he's responsible for in Iraq.

Call me cynical, but I find this a tad disingenuous, considering his mad dash to get this war started.

Bush deals with stress through vigorous exercise, working out six days a week.
When he goes for long bicycle rides, he often invites others to join him, but he
asks them not to ride in front of him so he can have the illusion of solitude.
"Riding helps clear my head, helps me deal with the stresses of the job," he
told reporters last month after an 80-minute ride.

To those angry over the war, that can seem cavalier. "It's important for me
to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say," Bush
said last year when Sheehan began her protest. "But it's also important for me
to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life. . . . I'm mindful of what goes
on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live
and will do so."

In less than two and a half years, Bush living his own life will no longer have disasterous results for the rest of us.

In Iraq, the different political parties have reached an agreement to postpone the inevitable.

BAGHDAD, Sept. 24 -- Iraq's fractious political parties reached a deal Sunday
meant to prevent the country from splintering into a federation of three
autonomous zones until at least 2008.
The agreement forestalled concerns that the debate over federalism, a vague
concept enshrined in the constitution but defined differently by various
political groups, could cause the country's fragile multi-sect government to

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani gave an interview in which he did an excellent job of expressing the White House talking points, as evidenced by this statement:

Iraq is not in chaos. There are many provinces that are calm -- where people
live in prosperity. . . . I want to assure the American people that Iraqis are
now enjoying democracy and human rights and are struggling to secure the

Iraq's in chaos and so is the U.S. Congress. There's a defense bill that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Abramoff crony and shady real estate investor-IL) insists won't be brought up unless, an indefinite detention of some illegal immigrants who are protected from deportation by political asylum laws bill, is added to it. Most Democrats and sane Republicans are balking.

"The speaker is not going to let the bill move until these critical security
items get in," said Ron Bonjean, Hastert's spokesman.

House GOP aides are urging Durbin to bring Senate Democrats into line on the
issue. But Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said the Senate minority whip is
feeling no real pressure. The addition of the concealed-weapons provision has
soured Durbin on the court security bill, and the immigration bill is garnering
strong Democratic opposition, he said.

John McCain is either very naive or he thinks the rest of us are just stupid. He says he believes that the compromise bill will put a stop to some of the most extreme torture techniques that this country is using. Bush just has to issue a Presidential signing statement, and things will get right back to normal.

A Republican senator who played a leading role in drafting new rules for U.S.
interrogations of terrorism suspects said yesterday that he believes a
compromise bill embraced by party leaders and the White House will bar some of
the most extreme techniques said to have been used by the
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) named three measures that he said would no longer
be allowed under a provision barring techniques that cause serious mental or
physical suffering by U.S. detainees: extreme sleep deprivation, forced
hypothermia and "waterboarding," which simulates drowning. He also said other
"extreme measures" would be banned.

And just where were the Democrats while this attempt to dismantle the Constitution and Geneva Conventions was being rammed down our throats? Instead of taking a stand for what's right, they were keeping quiet and covering their worthless butts.

And the Democratic Party was nowhere in this debate. It contributed nothing. On
the question of whether or not the United States will reconfigure itself as a
nation which tortures its purported enemies and then grants itself absolution
through adjectives -- "Aggressive interrogation techniques" -- the Democratic
Party had…no opinion. On the issue of allowing a demonstrably incompetent
president as many of the de facto powers of a despot that you could wedge into a
bill without having the Constitution spontaneously combust in the Archives,
well, the Democratic Party was more pissed off at Hugo Chavez.

Yeah, that's right, the principles-challenged, gutless, weenie Democrats were having some kind of weird Twilight Zone moment in which they disregarded our freedom of speech values to rag on Hugo Chavez for calling the idiot "the devil".

It's no wonder that more than half the country don't vote. With all the problems facing this country today, the Democrats waste their time and ours trying to score brownie points with people who will never vote any other way than Republican.

The media's response isn't surprising. What surprises me, however, is that
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi felt compelled to go on record denouncing Chavez's
words. Pelosi-- someone I usually respect because I think she's been an
effective leader (and has effectively handled ridiculous and tasteless GOP
attacks)--said that "Chavez fancies himself a modern-day Simon Bolivar, but all
he is is an everyday thug."

Are we finally getting serious with white-collar crime or is Bernie Ebbers just a scapegoat to keep our attention while business goes on as usual?

Tomorrow, the man who once swaggered through the halls of his telecommunications
company as a cowboy-booted billionaire is scheduled to surrender to authorities
and begin a 25-year sentence. Federal prison policies virtually ensure that
Ebbers, who has a heart ailment, will spend the rest of his life in prison for
his role in an $11 billion accounting fraud.

And finally, Abstinence-Only Programs. Are they good? Or just good for a laugh?

"Females need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking!
The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this
reason girls have an added responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t
invite lustful thoughts.”- Heritage Keepers

"If men want to play basketball, they call their male friends. If women want
to ‘enjoy’ a shopping or a sports activity, they call their female friends.
There are important issues and activities which are enjoyed most when shared
with friends of the same sex.”- FACTS and Reasons (Senior High School

"Could condoms be just another stupid idea?”- Why kNOw’s Public School

"Sex makes you feel good, but it can kill you.”- Free Sex – NOT!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

W: Terrorist Poster Boy, Baghdad, America Feels the Love, Principles are un-American, Let's Bomb Iran, Homeland Insecurity and Americans Don't Know.

Guess who the number one recruiter of America hating terrorists is? Why, it's George W. Bush. It just goes to show, that even the intellectually-challeged can excel in this country, if given the right opportunities.

If this comes as a shock to you, I'd suggest that you spend less time watching Fox News and spend a little more time on the internet.

Now this little bombshell doesn't come from the left-wing blogosphere, it comes from the National Intelligence Council, a U.S. government agency that provides the President and senior policymakers with analyses of foreign policy issues that have been reviewed and coordinated throughout the Intelligence Community.

The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic
extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world
whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can
reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

A 30-page
National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the
U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading
inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by
little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than
contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the
situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials
familiar with the classified document.

If you listen to the President you'd think that things were going so well in Iraq that, instead of terrorists, all it would be producing is free market, young Republicans. This must be the fault of the hostile media that refuses to report on all the neat stuff that's been happening in Iraq since the Bush Revolution.

BAGHDAD, Sept. 23 -- A fiery explosion tore through a line of people waiting to
buy fuel on Saturday and killed at least 38 people, most of them women and
children, continuing the wave of tit-for-tat sectarian killings.

horrific blast sent women engulfed in flames screaming through the streets. Two
preteen girls embraced each other as they burned to death, witnesses said.
Later, wailing mourners thronged the scene of the blast, which was strewn with
the shoes of victims and a woman's bloodied cloak, and voiced doubt that the
reprisal violence would ever end.

It's starting to look like the work of a vast left wing conspiracy whose purpose is to disrupt President Bush's visionary crusade against the evil doers. It's so vast that it even reaches into the UN.

UNITED NATIONS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad grabbed headlines last week by blasting U.S. policies from the dais
of the U.N. General Assembly. But while their words were harsh, in many ways
they merely expressed in bolder terms what a number of other world leaders and
foreign diplomats believe.

Anti-Americanism never really left the United Nations, but this year's
gathering of world leaders demonstrated an unusually strident disrespect for the
United States. The United States is perceived as weakened by a draining war in
Iraq, while many of its adversaries feel emboldened with newfound oil

Resentment of American power has also been exacerbated by the United
States' close association with Israel during the recent war in Lebanon and even
the administration's campaign for greater democracy throughout the Middle East.
A theme running through a number of the speeches delivered here is that
democracy cannot be imposed through force.

Just think of the world we could have, if only George Bush could put his dream for America into effect. We would no longer have to live under the constraints of the antiquated institutions like the Constitution or the Geneva Conventions. We're Americans and we can do whatever we damned well please. And if someone disagrees, we could just torture them or lock them up until they do agree with us.

Can't the United States see that when we allow someone to be tortured by
our agents, it is not only the victim and the perpetrator who are corrupted, not
only the "intelligence" that is contaminated, but also everyone who looked away
and said they did not know, everyone who consented tacitly to that outrage so
they could sleep a little safer at night, all the citizens who did not march in
the streets by the millions to demand the resignation of whoever suggested, even
whispered, that torture is inevitable in our day and age, that we must embrace
its darkness?

Are we so morally sick, so deaf and dumb and blind, that we do not
understand this? Are we so fearful, so in love with our own security and steeped
in our own pain, that we are really willing to let people be tortured in the
name of America? Have we so lost our bearings that we do not realize that each
of us could be that hapless Argentine who sat under the Santiago sun, so
possessed by the evil done to him that he could not stop shivering?

We all know and believe that God talks to President Bush on a regular basis, so torture and unlawful imprisonment must be OK.

The scriptures of many traditions offer a version of the "golden rule": "Do
unto others as you would have them do unto you." This principle is the guide for
the lives of both individuals and nations. The moral basis is clear. Yet there
is also a simple utilitarian reason to observe this principle: abandon the rule
of law and you yourself will be subject to the consequences.

As religious leaders, we call upon our Congressional delegation and all
who would lead or represent us to stand firmly against this attempt to amend the
law of the land, to set the United States apart from international law. The
moral character and the security of our nation and its people are at

Now if Congress will just pass the laws to make the Bush dream legal, no one will have to worry about prosecution.

The United States is following the lead of “dirty war” nations, such as
Argentina and Chile, in enacting what amounts to an amnesty law protecting U.S.
government operatives, apparently up to and including President George W. Bush,
who have committed or are responsible for human rights crimes.

While the focus of the current congressional debate has been on Bush’s
demands to redefine torture and to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, the
compromise legislation also would block prosecutions for violations already
committed during the five-year-old “war on terror.”

We don't know for sure, but if it's true that Osama bin Laden is dead, it means that we won't be seeing "Osama's, Help the GOP Get Out the Vote Before the Mid-Term Elections, Terrorist Threat" video tape this year.

Washington - US intelligence agencies "can't confirm" a French newspaper
report that al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden died in August in his hideout in
Pakistan, a US official said on Saturday.

"I can't confirm that account," said the government official, who spoke
to AFP on the condition that neither his name nor his affiliation would be

If Osama really is dead, it looks like Bush and the Republicans will have to resort to Plan B for their October surprise.

As reports circulate of a sharp debate within the White House over possible US
military action against Iran and its nuclear enrichment facilities, The Nation
has learned that the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have moved up the
deployment of a major "strike group" of ships, including the nuclear aircraft
carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine escort
and supply ship, to head for the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast.
This information follows a report
in the current issue of Time magazine, both online and in print, that a group of
ships capable of mining harbors has received orders to be ready to sail for the
Persian Gulf by October 1.

Bush and the Republicans figure that if they use the same pre-war strategy that they used for Iraq, that they would probably achieve much better results. You know, if you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result, it means you're a neocon.

Here we go again. The clichés come frighteningly easy when one ponders the
recent efforts of the hawks to gin up the case for military confrontation with
Iran. The playbook is familiar: Pump up the threat, use the media as a conveyor
and watch public opinion swing toward war.

A campaign of this sort has been under way for weeks. In late August the
staff of the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee released a report on Iran that
depicted it as a pressing strategic danger. Iran "probably" has a biological
weapons program and "likely" has a chemical weapons research and development
program, it said. More alarming, the report stated that Iran was definitely
"seeking" nuclear weapons and enriching weapons-grade uranium. It conceded that
US intelligence lacked crucial information on Iran's WMDs, but it warned
intelligence analysts not to be wimps in reaching assessments about Iran's WMD
capabilities and not to "shy away from provocative conclusions." That is, don't
wait for hard-and-fast evidence before pronouncing Iran a nuclear threat.

The Bush Administration is so disconnected from reality, that they are planning a twofer this time around. Since the U.S. military ground forces are stretched beyond the breaking point, we'll have to contract Halliburton to conduct the ground war.

Confirmed by official statements and military documents, the US in close
coordination with Britain (and in consultation with its NATO
partners), is planning to launch a war directed against Iran and
Syria. US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has already initiated the draft
of a UN Security Council resolution with a view to imposing sanctions on Tehran
for its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program. Whether this resolution
is adopted is not the main issue. The US may decide to proceed in defiance of
the Security Council, following a veto by Russia and/or China. The vote of
France and Britain, among the permanent members has already been secured.

For those of you out there who think that the Bush Administration doesn't take homeland security seriously, I'll have you know, that you are absolutely right.

Eager to showcase fresh votes on national security before the fall
elections, Congress has loaded a $34 billion homeland security spending bill
with measures to beef up defenses at the nation's borders, ports and chemical
plants and to revamp its disaster management.

With few exceptions, however, the measures are less sweeping than they
appear, analysts said. Watered down to avoid controversy or budget-breaking
costs, several of the measures also run counter to the wishes of Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, reflecting how politics trumps policy come
election time, they said.

But Democrats and environmental groups said the pact is filled with
loopholes sought by industry, such as barring DHS from requiring companies to
switch to safer chemicals, failing to explicitly allow tougher state regulations
and exempting facilities such as drinking-water and wastewater plants.

In fact, the Bush Administration takes national security at least as seriously as it's education reforms.

WASHINGTON -- A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's
billion-dollar-a-year reading program says the Education Department ignored the
law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.

The government audit is unsparing in its view that the Reading First
program has been beset by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It
suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum
schools must use.

Here's proof that the propaganda machine is probably the only thing on the right that actually works.

One of the more amazing results, though much in line with other surveys, is
that almost one in three still say that Saddam Hussein "was personally involved"
in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Two other national polls in recent weeks found much the same, or even a
higher number, with upwards of two in three Republicans holding this view.

Have a good day, it'll be Monday before you know it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

French Newspaper Reports that Osama bin Laden is Dead.

It hasn't been confirmed, but French newspaper L'Est Republicain is reporting that Osama bin Laden died of typhoid in late August.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is unable to confirm a French
newspaper report that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is believed to have died
last month in Pakistan, a U.S. counterterrorism official said on Saturday.
"We cannot confirm the account," said the official, who declined to be
identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
"It's quite possible (that) there was some talk of this, but in terms of being
able to confirm this, that I can't do."

The French regional daily L'Est Republicain reported that, according to a
French secret service report, Saudi Arabia was convinced that bin Laden died of
typhoid in Pakistan in late August. The French government has said it could not
confirm the report and would investigate the intelligence leak.

If this report on the death of the mastermind of 9/11 proves to be true, it means that Bush and the GOP have lost one of their major allies in the campaign of fear that they are currently waging against the American people.

The al Qaeda leader, bin Laden, is a lot things but stupid isn't one of them.
During the 2004 Presidential campaign, bin Laden displayed a skillful knack for
releasing tapes just when the Bush campaign appeared to need them most. He is
well aware of his dark prince-like rock star status here in the United States.
Bin Laden knows the press will never pass up an opportunity to garner market
share by exploiting anything he says or in which he plays the lead role. If he
releases an audio or video tape, he gets airtime just like the President.

The President has been in a world of political hurt throughout 2006. In a
fruitless attempt to try and push up his slumping approval ratings, George W.
Bush has embarked upon a number of campaign-like tours across the country.
Somewhere in the midst of each of these campaigns, bin Laden has been certain to
release either an audio or video tape.

The French government is opening an investigation into the leak of the secret service memo. President Jacques Chirac would not comment.

President Jacques Chirac has ordered an inquiry into the leak of a French
secret service memo claiming that Osama Bin Laden had died.

Mr Chirac told reporters he was surprised the memo had been leaked, and
refused to comment on the claim itself.

FDA and Big Pharma, GOP Loves Torture, Democrats Cave, Army Job Growth, John W. Dean, Security, Afghanistan, Bush Bucks and Conservatives and Your $.

The Bush Administration allowed big energy producers to dictate America's energy policy.

We all know just how well that worked out.

The Bush Administration also allowed the FDA to become a subsidiary of the big pharmaceutical companies.

Now we're finding out just how well that's worked out.

The federal system for approving and regulating drugs is in serious disrepair,
and a host of dramatic changes are needed to fix the problem, a blue-ribbon
panel of government advisers concluded yesterday in a long-awaited report.

The analysis by the Institute of Medicine shined an unsparing spotlight on
the erosion of public confidence in the Food and Drug Administration, an agency
that holds sway over a quarter of the U.S. economy. The report, requested by the
FDA itself, found that Congress, agency officials and the pharmaceutical
industry share responsibility for the problems -- and bear the burden for
implementing solutions.

The report represents a watershed moment after two years of controversy
over the safety of such widely used drugs as pain relievers and antidepressants.
The Institute of Medicine is part of the National Academies, chartered by
Congress to advise the government on scientific and health policy issues. Its
recommendations traditionally carry great weight

You know the FDA's screwing us over when big pharma starts bragging about what a great job the FDA does.

"Though there is always room for improvements, it would be a mistake to accept
the notion that the FDA drug safety system is seriously flawed," the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement. "After
all, fewer than three percent of approved prescription drugs have been withdrawn
from the American market for safety reasons over the last 20 years."

How low can we go? In our rush to become the first rogue superpower, Republicans have become absolutely giddy over torture. They see torture as a winning issue in the mid-terms and are taunting Democrats to come out against it.

White House aides are practically daring such Democrats to oppose the
legislation. "Now the test is for the Democrats," a senior administration
official said. "What are they going to do? . . . This does show that there's a
consistent voice now on the subject coming out of our party."

And will our Democrats in Congress stand on principle and give the Republicans hell over their desire to stoop to such ineffective, inhumane and un-American practices as torture and the denial of due process for no other reason than political gain?

With Congress planning to adjourn by Sept. 30, it is possible that last-minute
snags could complicate or even prevent the bill's passage. But top Democrats in
both houses indicated that they will not stand in the bill's path and risk being
blamed for its demise.

These gutless, wusses are going to stand by and watch this country go down the tubes, because they are so afraid of being characterized as weak on terror by the Republicans. They make me sick and ashamed to be a Democrat. Anyone that is too spineless to stand up for what's right, doesn't belong in my party.

A lot of the reason for this "Torture is Good" legislation is to immunize it's practitioners and those who authorized it from prosecution. Now why would this be needed if you didn't think you were doing something wrong?

The 94-page text is dotted with language crafted not only to support future
rough interrogations by the CIA but also to improve the odds of obtaining
criminal convictions of detainees and to immunize officials for previous
violations of a federal law governing detainee abuse. The bill was introduced by
Republican leaders in the Senate yesterday after brief discussions with their
House counterparts.

A NYT editorial says it all.

Even before the compromises began to emerge, the overall bill prepared by
the three senators had fatal flaws. It allows the president to declare any
foreigner, anywhere, an “illegal enemy combatant” using a dangerously broad
definition, and detain him without any trial. It not only fails to deal with the
fact that many of the Guantánamo detainees are not terrorists and will never be
charged, but it also chokes off any judicial review.

The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of
Republicans to do the lifting. It’s time for them to either try to fix this bill
or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders
to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American
standards of justice, or further harming the nation’s severely damaged

The U.S. Army's getting ahead of the curve, by using the Rumsfeld plan of hiring civilian contractors to train all the new interrogators that this new law will create jobs for.

The greatest one-year expansion of the Army's interrogation program, from
500 to 1,000 trainees, took place in 2005, the year after public disclosure of
the scandals involving questioning of prisoners by Army intelligence personnel
at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Today, with the Army introducing a new
interrogation manual and Congress wrestling with legislation sought by the White
House that would legalize the CIA's more aggressive questioning techniques, the
number of people training to be interrogators is to rise again.

The Army is gearing up for the effort by hiring private companies to handle
the training. Last month, the service awarded contracts that could grow to more
than $50 million in the next five years to three private firms to provide
additional instructors to the 18-week basic course in human-intelligence
interrogation at Fort Huachuca.

Thanks to the right-wing propaganda machine, many Americans believe that President Bush is the only person capable of winning the "War on Terror". Take a guess about how many terrorists that the Bush Administration has brought to trial. If your answer is zero, then you are a winner.

For a good look at why Bush, the people who support it and this legislation are stupid read John W. Dean's excellent article, Thoughts on the "Bringing Terrorists to Justice Act of 2006".

For these (among many other) reasons, it makes sense to create a system of
military justice capable of dealing with these unique criminals, for the armed
services are far better equipped to deal with these problems, and they have
volunteered for such hazardous work. So why, five years into the war on terror,
has the Bush Administration been unable to bring a single terrorist to

The answer, it seems, is that politics has trumped everything for Bush.
The war on terror helps elect Republicans; bringing terrorists to trial,
however, could embarrass Republicans - for federal courts are making the
Administration play by the rules.

National security under Bush is a lot like FEMA under Bush. There's much talk, but very little action.

You'd think with the so-called stepped up security measures under the Bush Adminstration since 9/11 that something like the Capitol Building would be a fairly safe place.

Capitol Police officers warned their superiors this summer that the U.S.
Capitol needed tighter security because of construction work, but a door was
left unguarded this week, allowing the worst breach in eight years, officials
said yesterday.

A drug-addled man easily drove a Chevrolet TrailBlazer through a
partially blocked construction entrance to the Capitol grounds, according to
officials and court testimony. The man then outran two dozen police officers
into the building and went from floor to floor until a civilian employee lifted
him up and literally handed him to police. The officers found a loaded pistol in
the intruder's waistband.

You'd think that with all the bragging by Bush and Homeland Security about how secure this country is now compared to 9/11, 2001, the fact that more than 1,100 government laptops have "vanished", would seem a little incongruous.

More than 1,100 laptop computers have vanished from the Department of Commerce
since 2001, including nearly 250 from the Census Bureau containing such personal
information as names, incomes and Social Security numbers, federal officials
said yesterday.

Remember back when the Bush Administration was telling us about all the girls in Afghanistan being able to go back to school? Well, it turns out that that was just another one of those "Mission Accomplished" moments.

SHEIKHABAD, Afghanistan -- In a small, sunlit parlor last week, 20 little
girls seated on rush mats sketched a flower drawn on the blackboard. In a darker
interior room, 15 slightly older girls memorized passages from the Koran,
reciting aloud. Upstairs was a class of teenage girls, hidden from public

The location of the mud-walled home school is semi-secret. Its students
include five girls who once attended another home school nearby that was torched
three months ago. The very existence of home-based classes is a direct challenge
to anti-government insurgents who have attacked dozens of schools across
Afghanistan in the past year, especially those that teach girls.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, it's starting to look a lot like Iraq. It must be that damned media not telling us about all the good things that are happening over there, like we're winning the body count.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Militants ambushed a bus carrying construction workers in
the country's volatile south Friday, killing 19 of the laborers, while Afghan
and NATO forces said they killed 35 Taliban militants in two separate

There's good things happening in this country, if you're a Bush supporter.

“During the investigation, Secretary JACKSON’s Chief of Staff, as well as the
HUD Deputy Secretary testified that, in a senior staff meeting, JACKSON had
advised senior staff, to the effect, that when considering discretionary
contracts, they should be considering supporters of the President, language
consistent with the remarks made by JACKSON in Dallas, Texas, on April 28,

And if you've been getting that screwed over feeling lately, AlterNet has the reason. Top Ten Ways We Got Jacked by Conservatives

1) The Bush administration has created the biggest budget deficit, debt,
and trade imbalance ever while cutting funding for domestic needs like
education, Medicare, and Medicaid.

2) The administration’s tax cuts favor the rich, no matter how you look at
it. About 87 percent of tax benefits go to the 14 percent of households with
incomes above $100,000. Households with incomes below $75,000 -- three-quarters
of all households -- get just 5 percent of those benefits.

3) Bush signed the largest corporate tax break package in two decades, $136
billion. After World War II, corporations paid half the cost of running the
federal government. Today, they pay 7%.

4) The price of gas doubled under Bush. The top oil companies earned $25
billion during the quarter that Hurricane Katrina struck compared to $50 billion
for all of 2004. Former Exxon-Mobil, CEO, Lee Raymond got a $400 million exit

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Torture, Politics of Fear, Billionaires, Cutting Education and Healthcare, V.A. Screwed, Buddy Deals, Voter IDs, Semi-Clean Air, AIDS Tests and Crooks

In an attempt to cover the butts of the Bush Administration against war crime charges and in the name of party unity for the upcoming mid-term elections, McCain, Warner and Graham have joined the other Senate Republicans to take this country to the gutter and condone torture.

It's a sad day for our once great country.

The White House has pressed for the legislation partly to obtain immunity
from prosecution for government officials, including CIA interrogators, for past
acts that degraded and humiliated detainees. Its impetus was a Supreme Court
ruling in June, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , that declared some aspects of the
administration's past interrogation and trial policies illegal.

Officials' anxieties were provoked by a 10-year-old U.S. law, the War
Crimes Act, that makes violations of the Geneva Conventions' prohibitions on
degrading and humiliating detainees, as well as actions that amount to "outrages
upon personal dignity," subject to felony prosecution. Senior military officials
have told Congress those prohibitions were violated.

The agreement coalesced around two crucial issues: the GOP senators'
insistence that Bush not be allowed to reinterpret the meaning of the Geneva
Conventions, and the White House's insistence that CIA agents not be subject to
prosecution for aggressive interrogation techniques -- tactics that did not
constitute torture but were more aggressive than "simple assault."

The biggest hurdle, Senate sources said, was convincing administration
officials that lawmakers would never accept language that allowed Bush to appear
to be reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. Once that was settled, they said,
the White House poured most of its energy into defining "cruel or inhuman
treatment" that would constitute a crime under the War Crimes Act. The
administration wanted the term to describe techniques resulting in "severe"
physical or mental pain, but the senators insisted on the word "serious."

The ramping up of the Republican terrorist fear-mongering campaign and their make believe "war on terror" is starting to show results in convincing Americans that the Republicans can protect the sheep better than anyone else. It also has the added benefit of taking American minds off all of their other failed policies. Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, etc.

In this skirmish, Republicans can chalk up modest but real gains. The Pew
Research Center found that the proportion of voters who listed terrorism as the
most important problem facing the country increased from 5 percent in May to 15
percent this month. Significantly, the share of independents who listed
terrorism as the key issue rose from 5 percent to 13 percent.

The proportion of all voters listing Iraq as the most important problem
went up, too, from 18 percent to 26 percent. Much of the increase was among
Democrats -- 36 percent of them said Iraq was the central question. But among
independents, there was virtually no change in the importance of Iraq, and the
findings were similar for self-described moderates. The relative balance between
terrorism and Iraq among less partisan and ideological voters has shifted in the
Republicans' direction.

While worrying about imminent terrorist attacks, most Americans might not notice that the super rich are getting super richer. With a finite amount of wealth in this country, it means that if the rich are getting richer, that money has to come from somewhere. And guess who's losing out in this equation.

For the first time, all 400 Gotbucks on the Forbes tally are billionaires, from
Gates (worth $53 billion) down to the bottom, Los Angeles semiconductor magnate
Sehat Sutardja ($1 billion).

"I think it's very bad," said Dean Baker, a macroeconomist at the Center
for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "If the U.S. had experienced
really extraordinary growth, then maybe that would be the reason" for all the
billionaires. Baker pointed out that U.S. economic growth in the past 25 years
-- the period that hatched this crop of billionaires -- is actually slower than
in the preceding quarter-century, which produced only 13 billionaires.

"If these people pull away so much wealth," he said, "that means
everyone else has less."

The growth in the number of billionaires has been significantly aided by
cuts in U.S. tax rates that allow the wealthy to keep more of their money, said
Harvard University economics professor Larry Katz. Today's marginal tax rate for
the richest Americans is 35 percent, down from more than 60 percent 25 years

And guess whose kids and grandkids will be paying off the deficit that we have created for the benefit of these billionaires?

But the Bush Administration will help by cutting government spending, on education and healthcare.

PBS newsmagazine NOW this week plans to target what producers are calling,
"a stealth campaign for deep cuts in social services," RAW STORY has learned.

The program is to examine ballot initiatives across the nation that it
will characterize as deceptively-titled attempts to slash funding in health care
and education. "Initiatives with titles like 'Taxpayers' Bill of Rights' and
'SOS - Stop Over Spending'" will be the focus of the segment.

Another way the Bush Administration is cutting government spending is by underestimating agency budgets. Bush has really screwed up the Veterans Administration.

WASHINGTON - The government used prewar data to estimate the cost of caring
for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, contributing to a $3 billion budget
shortfall at the Veterans Affairs Department since 2005, congressional
investigators say.

Department officials said they agreed with the
findings and were working to improve. Secretary Jim Nicholson said in a
statement that the VA uses "highly reliable actuarial projections of health care
demand" but that the agency continues to "refine" its modeling.

"The bottom line is to provide the leading-edge health care and
benefits that our veterans deserve," he said.

Another Bush apointee double talking to cover his incompetence.

While everything around you may be going to Hell, as long as you're a friend of Bush, you'll be OK.

In a follow-up interview on June 8, investigators confronted her with testimony
from Cathy MacFarlane, who resigned that month as HUD’s assistant secretary for
public affairs. Ms. MacFarlane told investigators that at a senior staff
meeting, Mr. Jackson “made a statement to the effect that it was important to
consider presidential supporters when you are considering the selected
candidates for discretionary contracts.”

It seems like everybody is bending over backwards to help out Bush and the Republicans.

Former Senator Lee Hamilton is co-chair of a committee along with Bush
family consigliere James Baker called The Iraq Study Group. This so-called
"bipartisan, independent" commission is charged with getting to the bottom of
the problem with the U.S. war in Iraq and offering real solutions to the
floundering Bush misadministration. It has already been at work for 6

Lee Hamilton says that the next 3 months are CRITICAL for the survival of
the new "unity" government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, BUT THE IRAQ

Wasn't Lee Hamilton part of the 9-11 Commission? Didn't they delay certain
controversial portions of the 9-11 Commision report "not to politicize the 2004
Presidential elections"? This process always seems to work in George W. Bush's
favor. Now, American are asked to wait until after November 7th elections to
find out just how bad things are in Iraq. I say they are far worse than the
average American has been told or is aware.

It looks like the new Republican voter ID law will fix it so that we will have to pay to exercise our Constitutional right to vote.

In a report released by the National Governors Association, the National
Conference of State Legislatures and the American Association of Motor Vehicle
Administrators, state motor vehicle officials estimated it would cost more than
$11 billion over five years to implement the technology required by the Real ID

That's a lot of money to solve a problem that doesn't exist. But it will be found unconstitutional anyway.

While supporters of H.R. 4844 argue that it will combat voter fraud, the
evidence clearly shows that current anti-fraud laws work. Congress and the
states are already successful at preventing non-citizens from voting and
ensuring that voters are who they claim to be. And there is no evidence that the
type of fraud that this bill seeks to address is anything but an anomaly.

Bush's latest plan for cleaner air is just what you'd expect. A huge amount of PR for very little effort.

"It's discouraging to see the EPA take this approach, but it's not really
surprising," Morris said. "We're trying to make the air cleaner for District
residents against an avalanche of suburban sprawl and upwind factories, and this
decision isn't going to help us at all. It's really a shame."

Public health activists, who noted that 60,000 Americans are estimated
to die prematurely each year because of air pollution, were harsher in their
assessment. According to an EPA analysis, the stricter standards endorsed by the
scientific advisory panel would have reduced air pollution-related deaths in
nine cities by 48 percent; the administration's new rules would cut deaths in
those same cities by 22 percent.

"It is the single worst action the Bush administration has taken on air
pollution," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air
Watch. "With this decision, the Bush administration has abdicated its
responsibility to protect breathers from dangers in the air."

The CDC wants all Americans to be tested for HIV infection. It makes you wonder just how bad the epidemic is. No doubt, this is probably a good idea.

All adolescents and adults should routinely be tested for HIV infection in
hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices, the federal government said yesterday,
signaling a radical shift in the public health approach to the 25-year-old

Under the new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, patients would no longer have to sign a consent form and get
extensive pre-test counseling. But they would have to be told they were being
tested for the AIDS virus, asked if they have any questions and given the
opportunity to "opt out."

Even more good news, Republican Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., says the Hell with electronic voting machines, we want paper ballots. Incredibly enlightened position for a Republican.

A week after the primary election was plagued by human error and technical
glitches, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) called yesterday for the state
to scrap its $106 million electronic voting apparatus and revert to a paper
ballot system for the November election.

And the good news just keeps on coming. The top 20 crooks in the U.S. Congress.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN)
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA)
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL)
Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY)
Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA)

Bush is always saying that things in Iraq are going better than the media reports. But Bush says a lot of things that, in retrospect, are just plain wrong.

GENEVA - Torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein,
with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the
humane treatment of prisoners, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Thursday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, made the
remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee conditions at the U.S. prison
in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global
body’s top rights watchdog, on torture worldwide.

Reports from Iraq indicate that torture “is totally out of hand,” he
said. “The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in
the times of Saddam Hussein.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Treehugger Bush, Crazy Right-Wing Congress, Iraq Study Group and Bush Sets New Record.

I don't know who he's trying to fool, but the White House has presented us with a long term plan on global warming.

It's not surprising that the Bush plan will rely on big business to come up with new technology and voluntary actions to slow down the emission of greenhouse gases.

Under the Bush plan there would be basically no reductions until 2010. From there the plan the plan stretches over a 100 year time limit. The White House calls this "visionary". The rest of us would consider this as BS.

"This plan was inspired by the President's vision to harness America's strengths
in innovation and technology to transform energy production and use in ways that
significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long term," Bodman said
in a statement. "This strategic plan is unprecedented in its scope and scale and
breaks new ground with its visionary 100-year planning horizon, global
perspective, multilateral research collaborations, and public-private

As proof that this environmental plan is just more of the same old crap, here's what Margo Thorning of ACCF has to say about it.

Margo Thorning, chief economist at the American Council for Capital
Formation, said the plan is "a substantial, credible effort" to address global

"The technology-based approach is the only way to go, and the
administration's emphasis on that is the right one," said Thorning, whose think
tank accepts money from Exxon Mobil Corp.

The ACCF, or American Council for Capital Formation Center, is a mouthpiece for the major polluters in this country.

This new greener side of the Bush Administration is just a PR stunt. They still do their best to quash all environmental data that doesn't agree with their big polluter approach to clean air.

In February, there were several press reports about the Bush administration
exercising message control on the subject of climate change. The New Republic
cited numerous instances in which top officials at the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and scientists at the National Hurricane Center
sought to downplay links between more-intense hurricanes and global warming.
NOAA scientist Thomas Knutson told the Wall Street Journal he'd been barred from
speaking to CNBC because his research suggested just such a link.

At the time, Bush administration officials denied that they did any
micromanaging of media requests for interviews. But a large batch of e-mails
obtained by Salon through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that the
White House was, in fact, controlling access to scientists and vetting
reporters. (The e-mails were provided to several members of Congress for
comment; Rep. Henry Waxman's office has now published them here.)

The White House view on the environment and most other things probably comes from their dependence on right-wing lobbyists as the source of information for policy decisions.

Former associates of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff had dozens of
appointments with Bush administration staff members, according to Secret Service
visitor logs the White House released yesterday to settle a lawsuit by the
Democratic Party and an ethics watchdog group.

White House officials said Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for
Tax Reform, was cleared for 97 visits to the White House complex from 2001 to
this year, half a dozen including Bush. Reed, former executive director of the
Christian Coalition and an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in
Georgia this year, got 18 meetings, including two events with Bush.

Over in the House, Republican Congressmen are trying their best to show us what a bunch right-wing whackjobs they really are. Is anyone paying attention?

President Bush's supporters in the House narrowly defeated yesterday
efforts to sidetrack his proposal for questioning and prosecuting terrorism
suspects, but the issue continues to divide Congress in its final workdays
before the November elections.

Bush wants legislation that would declare the United States to be in
compliance with the Geneva Conventions if it abides by a federal law's
guidelines regarding the treatment of non-uniformed suspects captured in

They would rather spend your tax dollars on putting a wall around the country instead of cracking down on their supporters who hire illegal aliens. They would gladly spend all of our money to save their friends a few bucks.

Boeing proposes to construct a necklace of 1,800 towers equipped with cameras,
sensors and links to sophisticated computers along the nation's vast frontiers
with Mexico and Canada. The Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to
announce Boeing as the winner of the competition today.

They want to limit access to voting for Americans.

"This is what Americans want," said Rep. John Mica (news, bio, voting
), R-Fla., "They want safe borders and they want safe ballots."

But Democrats assailed the legislation, saying it could hurt
minorities, the poor and the elderly — groups that tend to vote Democratic — who
might have trouble producing a photo identification.

"This bill is tantamount to a 21st century poll tax," said Democratic
Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "It will disenfranchise large number of legal

They want the government to be able to spy on you.

Although it may appear as if Congress is about to put restraints on the Bush
administration's wiretapping programs, the three "reform bills" now up for a
vote all paint a deceptive picture of the massive domestic surveillance programs
that the government has up and running. Because several ongoing
invasion-of-privacy lawsuits could expose the extent of the illegal wiretapping,
the administration is seeking via these bills to shunt the lawsuits into a
secret court, where they will die.

And they want to show the world that we are just as crazy and cruel as the other terrorists.

The torture of prisoners is not only illegal under American and
international law it is, put simply, immoral and unjust. It is also un-American.

It is amazing that we are still hung up in a debate over President Bush's
insistence that we bend and break our laws and the Geneva Conventions so that
our agents can do everything short of murder to make a man talk.

The president's bill -- blocked in the Senate by three Republicans who
know war and know the law and know what's right -- would allow Central
Intelligence Agency operatives to subject prisoners to water-boarding, or
near-death by drowning; to being forced to stand for 40 hours at a time; to
sleep deprivation; to being tossed naked into a freezing cold cell for days at a

The congressionally commissioned Iraq Study Group held a press conference to report that it had nothing to report. You tax dollars at work.

If President Bush and the Iraqi government are hoping for some solutions
from the congressionally commissioned Iraq Study Group, they might want to start
thinking about a Plan B.

Former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee
Hamilton (D-Ind.), the study group's co-chairmen, called a briefing yesterday to
give a "progress report" on their activities. A dozen television cameras and
scores of reporters filled the hall -- only to discover that Baker and Hamilton
had revived Jerry Seinfeld's "show about nothing" format.

I'll help them out. The number of Iraqi civilian deaths reached record numbers in July and August. Winning hearts and minds in Iraq.

UNITED NATIONS - The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August
hit 6,599, a record-high number that is far greater than initial estimates
suggested, the
United Nations' said Wednesday