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Must be sad being a conservative blogger nowadays

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Kind of like being a mixture between the Maytag repairman and, well, someone really stupid.

(Hat tip to Kos) Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm watching "Rome." An amazingly well-written episode, this last one. The show is actually getting me curious as to how Roman society was set up. I mean, I know a lot about Ancient Greece and Rome, to some degree, but not a lot about the structures of the society, etc. Got me curious. Thing is, I don't much enjoy reading online. I do all day, but I dont enjoy it. Still not as pleasurable as a book. Anyway, it's a very good show, I highly recommend it. Read the rest of this post...

AP: Bush almost admitted for the first time that he made a mistake

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Seriously. There's an entire AP story out there about how Bush has now come the closest ever to admitting a mistake. He's a pathetic child. We're at war and we have a leader who can't admit to any mistake he's ever made, and thus refuses to make course corrections even when they're necessary, because that would be akin to admitting a mistake.

Bush would rather see our soldiers die than admit a mistake, and in the process, help make their mission more successful, or at the very least, spare their lives from a mission that's a total disaster. Read the rest of this post...

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says it is every soldier's obligation to stop torture if they see it

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Great exchange between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who seems to be a normal, real, honorable human being - and then there's idiot Rumsfeld...
When UPI's Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that "obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility" other than to voice disapproval.

But [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Pace had a different view. "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it," the general said.

Rumsfeld interjected: "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."

But Pace meant what he said. "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," he said, firmly.
Read the rest of this post...

Rudolph is on CBS now!

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I really hate cable. Too many channels, I never know when anything is on anymore. I was just channel surfing and almost missed Rudolph. Grrr... The first person who figures out how to design a new TV Guide, or whatever, to deal with the hundreds of channels we now have will make it rich.

Anyway, put on Rudolph damnit.

PS I think we should live blog Rudolph. Apparently, Herbie doesn't like to make toys...

NB The Rudolph story is so gay. I can't wait until the religious right figures out that we've been feeding pro-gay propaganda to our kids for the past 40 years. The jack in the box? Gay. Hermie? Gay. Rudolph? Bi, at best. Read the rest of this post...

New Alito memo talks of "goal" of overturning Roe

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The man is toast.

And let me remind all you gay and gay-friendly folks out there. Whether you like it or not, the major Supreme Court cases siding with gay rights - and they are few and far between - use Roe v Wade as their basis. This includes the case that recently outlawed anti-gay sodomy laws. Roe gets overturned and gay civil rights go with it. Your position on abortion is irrelevant. This is a fact.

More here. Read the rest of this post...

Shiites want to take on more aggressive role in war

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And to think we are concerned and bothered by the US tactics, I can only imagine what the Shiites want to do when they speak of getting tough. If the distubring photos of tortured Iraqis is any indication of what we could expect with this aggressive fight, Iraq is getting even closer than before to civil war. All in the name of freedom and democracy, GOP style.
During much of the interview, Hakim was critical of U.S. policies toward Iraq, though he acknowledged that U.S. forces must remain in the country as a "guest" of the Iraqi government while it builds its security forces. The Americans are guilty of "major interference, and preventing the forces of the Interior or Defense ministries from carrying out tasks they are capable of doing, and also in the way they are dealing with the terrorists," Hakim charged.

Hakim gave few details of what getting tough would entail, other than making clear it would require more weapons, with more firepower, than the United States is currently supplying.

His repeated assertion that the United States was being too weak against Iraq's insurgency, allowing attacks to mushroom, appeared to suggest that any future Iraqi government that included him would share his view.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Victory is ours! Read the rest of this post...

Dems are all over the place on Iraq

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You don't deserve a chance to lead the country until you can lead yourselves.
House of Representatives Minority leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday backed a call by Democratic Rep. John Murtha to quickly start the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and said she believed a majority of her caucus supported it as well... But she said was speaking for herself and would not press for a united Democratic position on the issue.
So what do the other leading Dems think?

Steny Hoyer, one of the top House Dems, is still living in la-la land:
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who supported the war, rejected Murtha's idea for a quick pull-out, saying "a precipitous withdrawal of American forces in Iraq could lead to disaster, spawning a civil war, fostering a haven for terrorists, and damaging our nation's security and credibility."
Then there's John Kerry:
"Jack and I and others believe that you need to approach it in the way that we've set out, where you have certain measurements for that success over a period of time," Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said at a news conference with fellow Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) of Rhode Island.
So here's my question for Hoyer and Kerry. Yes, a precipitous withdrawal will lead to chaos, and yes, we need measurements for success. But what if the war is already lost? What if there will be no success and we know it? What if there's going to be a civil war anyway and there's nothing we can do to stop it? We still sit there and let our troops get blown up every single day because none of you have the cojones to admit you made a mistake?

That's a hell of a way to show leadership. You guys are no better than Bush and Cheney.

Answer the question: What if we've already lost? Do we keep the troops there anyway? Read the rest of this post...

Jeff Gannon goes to Iraq

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Only metaphorically, sorry. Read the rest of this post...

SCHWARZENEGGER - Gays working for him? Okay! Letting them marry? Not so much.

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I'm not sure what I think of this story. To be honest, I'm personally disgusted that any self-respecting gay person would ever go work for someone like this (from MSNBC):
"We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote," the governor's press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. "Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill)."
Yeah, those unelected legislators huh? Which makes this story all the more bizarre. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- attempting to regain his political footing after a devastating special election defeat this month -- has begun a shakeup of his administration by replacing his chief of staff with a former state Democratic Party official and top adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis, Democratic and Republican sources said Tuesday.
Appointed by Davis to the California Public Utilities Commission in 2003, Kennedy had made her name as a political operative as the head of the California branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League. A longtime gay rights activist, Kennedy married her partner, Vicki Marti, in a 1999 ceremony in Hawaii attended by many California political insiders.
We know that the Republicans will judge Schwarzenegger. Should we judge Ms. Kennedy for going to work for him? Read the article and tell us what you think.

(Thanks for the heads up from Callie in the comments) Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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The "Victory" Plan is another dud. Another major speech with nothing new. No strategy. No ideas. No surprise. Read the rest of this post...

Why is the Transportation Security Agency facing a "tight budget"?

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What the hell is going on? I read this in today's Washington Post in an article explaining why they're allowing scissors and other pointy objects back on airplanes:
Faced with a tighter budget and morale problems among its workforce, the TSA says its new policy changes are aimed at making the best use of limited resources.
Limited resources? We're talking about an agency whose job it is to stop your mom's airplane from blowing up. What limited resources and tight budget problems are they facing? Who in the GOP-controlled congress isn't giving this vital agency the money they need?

Funny, but when Bush needs $300 billion to fight a war that's a lie and a quagmire, we find the money in a snap. But when we need the money to stop our commerical airliners from blowing up, suddenly the budget is tight.

The GOP, the party of treason. Osama must be so proud that the Republicans are making his job easier. Read the rest of this post...

"Victory" Deconstructed

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Think Progress already has an analysis of the Bush-Iraq "Victory" Plan:
After two-and-a-half years and 2,110 U.S. fatalities, the Bush administration finally released a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” (NSVI). The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq, it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use.” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course.”
Bush had barely started to speak when this report was released...that's some damn good rapid response from Think Progress. Read the rest of this post...

The "Victory" Plan is out

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Steve Clemons posted a link to the document at the Washington Note.

Reuters has a first look:
Terrorism and insurgencies historically take many years to defeat. "Iraq is likely to struggle with some level of violence for many years to come," it said.

Lack of a troop withdrawal timetable does not mean the U.S. stance will remain static, the White House said. "We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience," the document said.
So, nothing new. Same old. But it's a major speech today. Read the rest of this post...

Today Show sucks Open Thread

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Okay, I know the Today Show has become pretty much useless. I know. But this morning, their "expert" to discuss Bush's latest Iraq speech was Bill O'Reilly. Yeah, that Bill O'Reilly. It used to be that the Today Show pretended to try to have real news in the first half hour. Those days are long gone -- but portraying Bill O'Reilly as a remotely serious commentator was beyond the pale. They suck. They really suck. Read the rest of this post...

Global warming and the global problem

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Being an American who resides in Europe, I have heard my fair share of criticism of the US and in particular, criticism of the Bush administration and their failure to accept Kyoto and global warming. While I agree with a lot of that criticism I have always questioned the pollution across Europe which seems on par with the American problem and Europeans have always quickly dismissed the problem and focused only on the US.

The reality is that the air in Paris during the summer is disgusting not to mention dangerous to your health and many other cities in Europe such as Munich and London are hardly worth bragging about as well. There are exceptions such as Stockholm but in general European cities always seem to be as polluted as US cities. A new study by the European Environment Agency confirms that Europe, we have a problem. The US shares plenty of blame with global warming but I would like to see Europe also recognize that there is a local problem here as well.
Tony Long, director of WWF's European policy office, said this illustrated the extent to which Europeans used more than their fair share of global resources. He argued: "Europe needs to learn to consume less, pollute less and tread more lightly on the planet. Perpetuating the inequality of living at the expense of some of the poorest countries in the world makes European environmental standards nothing to be proud about. This makes the EU's sustainable development strategy even more timely to get Europe back on track to sustainability."
Read the rest of this post...

Cheney continues to alienate his new neighbors

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Big surprise there. Dick and his delightful peach of a wife have already built reputations as annoying neighbors amongst the locals in St. Michaels and now he's continuing to expand his list of pissed off neighbors with the security zone around his new house on the Eastern Shore where he seems to be all of the time. A security zone in the middle of nowhere Wyoming is one thing but down on the Eastern Shore which is just a short drive over to DC and there are so many more people around not to mention the popularity of St. Michaels among weekenders. What's next? No boaters allowed on the Miles River or near the Cheney estate? We're probably not hearing about it because it's off season and the boats are all in dry dock but just wait until next summer when Dick wants to continue spending almost all of his days down there instead of in DC.

Most people living down there prefer discretion, something that does not come naturally for the Cheneys so this is going to get interesting. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I really need to get to bed. Read the rest of this post...

GAO: House Republicans killed air marshall effort to protect commercial flights from terrorists

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This program was killed by the House, which isn't just controlled by the Republicans, in the House, unlike the Senate, the minority party has NO POWER WHATSOEVER. That means this was a Republican buzzkill, 100%.

From AP:
Efforts to train thousands of federal agents to protect commercial flights during heightened terror alerts were quietly abandoned more than a year ago because Congress objected to the cost, government investigators said Tuesday.
The AP article didn't make clear who in Congress killed the program, so I looked up the actual GAO report that was released today about this issue. It makes clear it was the House Appropriations Committee, which is run 100 percent by the GOP.

This, from the GAO report:
In October 2004, ICE suspended its cross-training efforts in response to congressional concerns that the cross-training was an ineffective use of resources and training. Specifically, in a June 2004 House Appropriations Committee report, the Committee expressed concerns regarding how ICE agents would maintain their skills as federal air marshals since they did not regularly perform federal air marshal duties. The Committee directed that each cross-trained ICE agent fly missions with a federal air marshal for a minimum of 24 hours per quarter, beginning October 1, 2004. However, in the October 2004 report that accompanied the fiscal year 2005 DHS Appropriations Act, the Conference Committee suggested that the cross-training provided to ICE agents was an ineffective use of resources. The Committee further suggested that the training of ICE agents to serve as federal air marshals in a surge capacity be discontinued. In response, DHS suspended its cross-training efforts at that time.
Osama can breathe a little easier knowing the Republicans are doing his work for him. Read the rest of this post...

Back from the American Airlines voyage of the damned

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Man. Just had a 6 hour voyage from Chicago to DC. Apparently we had a little tornado in the area here, and that shut down the airports.

And can I just say, when did the cheapskate airlines start charging 2 bucks to check your bag curbside? Because the airlines would prefer if we all lined up inside to check our bags and make their crew work twice as hard and make the lines twice as long? Apparently charging us 5 bucks for a tostito wasn't enough for the airlines, now they need to start making us pay to make THEIR job easier. And, to add their cheapness, American Airlines puts a big ole sign up informing you that not only will it cost you 2 bucks, but the gratuity isn't included, thank you very much.

I've got one word for American Airlines and all the rest of you hideous American carriers: Bankruptcy.

The surest way to get service back to the quality it used to be is to get rid of a carrier or two and let the rest start making some real revenue again. We paid $15 billion or so after September 11 to bail these useless teet-suckers out, and what did our 15 billion get us? A lousy tostito and smaller seats. I always flew American because of the bigger leg room. Apparently that's a thing of the past too, at least on the flights I've been flying lately. It's as bad as flying United now (I have 28 inch legs and I stopped flying United years ago because of their absurdly cramped seats).

I'm not impressed.

I've said this before. Fly foreign carriers to go abroad and you not only get free liquor and a hell of a lot better service, AND actually get good food (Delta's pasta surprise, in business class no less, on the way to Europe a while back made high school cafeteria food taste good). And there's another thing - I worry whether flying US carriers to go abroad entails greater risks. It's just my own personal opinion, but in the great rankings of "Great Satans," we're the greatest to these nutjobs. So if I fly a US carrier abroad - or fly domestically on a carrier that just so happens to be named after the "Great Satan" - I'd like a little appreciation for supporting the home team.

Our airlines need to learn that we have a choice as consumers. And my choice is to finally let some of these hideous wretches go bankrupt. I'm sick and tired of being treated like I'm intruding on Bill and Ted's excellent adventure every time I fly a US carrier. Read the rest of this post...

Oh, yeah, tomorrow's the speech to finally explain Iraq...again

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So, we get yet another speech tomorrow that's going to clear up the whole Iraq mess. It's really phenomenal how the media keeps falling for this:
The administration is under pressure to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the president’s strategy for Iraq is headed in the right direction nearly three years after the U.S.-led invasion. The president is to give a speech on the subject Wednesday at the Naval Academy and the White House is to release a 35-page document titled “Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.”
Yep, it's been three years in to a war we started but finally they've come up with a "victory" plan. This guy really is the WORST PRESIDENT EVER. Read the rest of this post...

Because the Speaker of the House has nothing else to worry about

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Forget Iraq, ignore the deficit, never mind the budget crisis, pretend the GOP caucus isn't self-destructing, Dennis Hastert is dealing with real issues:
Hastert, R-Ill., in a letter to the Architect of the Capitol, recommended that the annual Capitol Holiday Tree, as it has been called the past several years, be renamed the Capitol Christmas Tree.

"I strongly urge that we return to this tradition and join the White House, countless other public institutions and millions of American families in celebrating the holiday season with a Christmas tree," Hastert wrote to Architect Alan Hantman.
Read the rest of this post...

Viveca Novak's testimony supposed to help Rove

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Busy day, so we never got to the Washington Post article claiming that the testimony of Viveca Novak from Time Magazine was going to help exonerate Karl Rove:
The reporter for Time magazine who recently agreed to testify in the CIA leak case is central to White House senior adviser Karl Rove's effort to fend off an indictment in the two-year-old investigation, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Viveca Novak, who has written intermittently about the leak case for Time, has been asked to provide sworn testimony to Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in the next few weeks after Rove attorney Robert Luskin told Fitzgerald about a conversation he had with her, the two sources said.
This didn't make much sense to me. More spin from Rove's team? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Give some good thread. Read the rest of this post...

Clueless Joe

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Lieberman, the biggest cheerleader for the Bush war in Iraq, was on CNN touting the great progress he saw during his recent visit. He said, "I can only report what I saw."

However, Atrios heard some on the ground insight about Joe's perspective:
Time magazine Baghdad bureau chief Michael Ware on Morning Sedition this morning:
I and some other journalists had lunch with Senator Joe Lieberman the other day and we listened to him talking about Iraq. Either Senator Lieberman is so divorced from reality that he's completely lost the plot or he knows he's spinning a line. Because one of my colleagues turned to me in the middle of this lunch and said he's not talking about any country I've ever been to and yet he was talking about Iraq, the very country where we were sitting.
Read the rest of this post...

Warner commutes death sentence

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From Reuters:
Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will stop the execution of convicted murderer Robin Lovitt, who would have been the 1,000th person put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, CNN reported on Tuesday.
CNN is in contortions about the political implications of this decision given Warner's political aspirations. Read the rest of this post...

Froomkin looks at Bush's "safety zone"

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It's shrinking:
What does it say about the president of the United States that he won't go anywhere near ordinary citizens any more? And that he'll only speak to captive audiences?

President Bush's safety zone these days doesn't appear to extend very far beyond military bases, other federal installations and Republican fundraisers.
Couple more months and he probably won't leave the Oval office. Read the rest of this post...

Republicans now saying WMD were found in Iraq

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And we wonder why 70% of Republicans think Bush is a good president? Because they're gullible idiots who lie, and are willing to be lied to. And if you're a Republican reading this, and it pisses you off, good. Do something about it. You sit back and you let your own far-right party leaders and party organizations lie to you and lie to the public, and you do nothing to correct those lies or hold those leaders accountable.

Do something about it, or stop complaining when we rightfully point out that the GOP is a party of liars, idiots, and lemmings.

To wit: The latest email I just received from Newsmax, a far-right GOP-sucking online news-zine. The subject line of the email: WMDs Found in Iraq!

Uh huh.

According to the Newsmax email (apparently it's on behalf of Human Events, another Republican rag, and they're pushing some new book that exposes the media's bias - uh huh), we learn that we've discovered in Iraq:
1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium

1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents

Chemical warheads containing cyclosarin (a nerve agent five times more deadly than sarin gas)

Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas

This is only a PARTIAL LIST of the horrific weapons verified to have been recovered in Iraq to date. Yet, Americans overwhelmingly believe U.S. and coalition forces found NO weapons of mass destruction.

The question is... WHY do they believe this lie?
So why is that Americans don't know about this amazing truth? Two guesses. More from Newsmax:
Have you heard that Osama bin Laden is on kidney dialysis? I'll bet you have. Much of the Western media report bin Laden's presumed affliction as a matter of fact -- and most Americans believe it. But...'s just not true.

Now, you may well be thinking: "Why would the news media want to make me believe that Osama bin Laden is a very sick and perhaps dying man?" Well, here's why...

The news media are -- overwhelmingly -- against the Iraq War.
Wow, pretty amazing stuff. Only problem is, the story about Bin Laden on dialysis didn't come form the media, it came from, among others, George Bush's number one ally in the war on terror, Pakistani President Musharraf:
"I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a ... kidney patient," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on Friday in an interview with CNN.

Musharraf said Pakistan knew bin Laden took two dialysis machines into Afghanistan. "One was specifically for his own personal use," he said.
Holy crap in my pants, Batman. But there's more. The "lie" about bin Laden and dialysis also came from a senior official in the Bush administration. From the same CNN piece:
"A senior Bush administration official said.... U.S. intelligence is that bin Laden needs dialysis every three days and "it is fairly obvious that that could be an issue when you are running from place to place, and facing the idea of needing to generate electricity in a mountain hideout."
Doh! But I'm confused. Newsmax and Human Events and the far-right Republicans running the GOP wouldn't lie to us, would they?

But, hey, notice how CNN is all too happy to publish these "lies" about Bin Laden needing dialysis - so maybe Newsmax is right, CNN WANTED to get these lies out there. More from CNN:
Other U.S. officials contradicted the reports of bin Laden's health problems, saying there is "no evidence" the suspected terrorist mastermind has ever suffered kidney failure or required kidney dialysis. The officials called such suggestions a "recurrent rumor."
What? You mean CNN, a member of the liberal anti-Bush fag-loving mainstream media actually publicly doubted the Osama dialysis story? But Newsmax and Human Events told me that the mainstream media was actually PUSHING this story. I'm so confused.

Like I said. The Republican party is the party of liars, idiots, and lemmings. And don't forget traitors too. They can't handle the truth, so they'd rather just make shit up.

And by the way, I hear we're winning in Iraq. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Keep it coming... Read the rest of this post...

Bush to announce a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq"

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Huh? Three years too late.

Think Progress has the scoop and asks the right question: Shouldn’t we have had a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” before the war started? Read the rest of this post...

This is a photo begging for a caption

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"I... can't... breathe..." Read the rest of this post...

Why is the Pope so obsessed with gays?

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The Prada-wearing Pope approved one of the first major documents of his papacy today. It's basically just another theocratic slam on gays:
The Vatican published its long-awaited document on gays in the clergy Tuesday, saying men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies should not be ordained but those with a "transitory problem" could be if they had overcome them for three years.
The Vatican and other religious fanatics spend more time thinking about gay sex than most gay people I know. It's really quite odd.

I heard on the Today show that the Vatican studied this issue for 10 years. What were they doing all that time? What makes these religious types such experts on homosexuality? Their obsession is a little too creepy. Me thinks they doth protesteth too much. Read the rest of this post...

Bush on the GOP campaign trail

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Bush is out working for the GOP candidates:
Despite his low standing in the polls, President Bush is working to help Republican House and Senate candidates build their campaign war chests while promoting his own troubled agenda.

The president is expected to assume the campaign role more often in the coming months as the 2006 congressional election year begins.
Let's hope Bush can do next year for the rest of the GOP what he did for Jerry Kilgore in Virginia this year. Read the rest of this post...

Who else in the GOP profited from corrupt defense contractor MZM?

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MZM, Inc is the slimey contractor that bought off disgraced Congressman Duke Cunningham who quickly resigned yesterday and pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4M+ in bribes from MZM. Talking Points Memo is connecting the dots and our old friend, Katherine Harris and at least one other in Congress seemed to have enjoyed a flurry of campaign contributions from MZM. Oh dear, more scandal for the GOP coming in 2006. Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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Any GOP officials getting indicted or convicted today? Read the rest of this post...

Another neocon mess/scandal in Iraq?

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Good grief, do the neocons and GOP always have to have the US taxpayers fund their experiments in politics? If they want to fund the clowns that provided the US with false information about pre-war Iraq let them do it with their own money and let the neocons go and fight and die for this nonsense. The US Air Force is now recognizing that they made a mistake when they handed out a $45M+ no-bid contract to fill Iraq with translators who were political exiles, no doubt with ties to the bogus information that was used for starting the ridiculous war in the first place. It's quite clear that the GOP and their wingnut leadership cannot be trusted with US taxpayer money or any political process either at home or abroad.
"Our Defense Department has continued to pay, through pliant contractors, for a flock of Iraqi political exiles as our paid political agents in Iraq," said Charles Tiefer, a government contracting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Read the rest of this post...

Mansions, yachts, cash...all in return for government favors from GOP Congressman

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I sure hope that someone in Congress creates a special committee to investigate the full extent of this and bar any of the defense contractors from being involved in any government business, not to mention paying back all of the money that they manipulated from the system. The Senate was half right about causing a stir related to the UN oil-for-food scandal, though they conveniently overlooked the US's involvement not to mention American citizens involvement, so perhaps they want to plan press meetings to discuss and review the gross corruption within the GOP.

Good 'ol Duke can cry a river for the TV cameras but that doesn't hide the fact that the guy was a disgrace to the nation. This kind of corruption is too often considered something that only happens in other countries but with the money that the GOP has thrown around for Iraq it should come as no surprise. 2006 is going to be a tough year for the GOP with all of the corruption scandals that are now coming forward. Why does the GOP hate America? Read the rest of this post...

Dear Canada,

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Hope to see you soon in Iraq. The weather is warm. Wish you were here. And if you elect a conservative pro-Bush government next month, you very likely will be.

Signed, George Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Final nite of playing with Carmela the wonder dog. Back to DC on Tuesday... sigh. Read the rest of this post...

Are US-trained forces in Iraq executing Sunnis?

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Looks that way according to the NY Times. Ironic that this is all coming out on the day that Saddam's trial started -- or was supposed to start:
As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni males have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.
And, by the way, this is your tax dollars at work:
American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge.
Is this the "noble mission" of which Bush so frequently speaks? Read the rest of this post...

Wilkerson BLASTS Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld

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Very tough criticism from Powell's former Chief of Staff. This is one scary administration. It's as bad -- if not worse -- then we all thought:
A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees arose from White House and Pentagon officials who argued that "the president of the United States is all-powerful" and the Geneva Conventions irrelevant.

In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."
Read the whole article. It's worth it. Read the rest of this post...

Far-right religious fanatics trying to ban Maya Angelou, other famous books

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But this isn't like when the Nazis banned and burned books because, uh, the Nazis were, uh, German.

Here are the books America's Taliban are trying to ban:

1. All the Pretty Horses
2. Animal Dreams
3. The Awakening
4. The Bean Trees
5. Beloved
6. Black Boy
7. Fallen Angels
8. The Hot Zone
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
10. Lords of Discipline
11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
12. Song of Solomon
13. Stotan
14. This Boy’s Life Read the rest of this post...

Supreme Court Crumbling - Literally

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Maybe the gods are finally taking notice of what's going on in America today? From Reuters:
A chunk of marble fell from near the roof of the U.S. Supreme Court onto the stairs in the front of the building but no one was injured, a court spokeswoman said on Monday.
The marble was above the inscription near the top of the building saying, "Equal Justice Under Law" and above the allegorical figure representing "Order," one of nine sculptured figures on the pediment.
This is more than irony... Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Busy week and it's only Monday. Read the rest of this post...

Ocean County, New Jersey. Homophobia capital of America

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When lung cancer finally kills Laurel Hester -- and it will, in a matter of months -- she wants to know that her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, won't lose their home in Point Pleasant.

That legacy, however, is in doubt.

Ocean County's freeholders have refused to act on a request from Hester, an investigator for 23 years in the county prosecutor's office, to provide domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees under a state law enacted last year. Without a resolution by the freeholders, her pension benefits cannot go to Andree.

"That's not what I hoped for with the legislation," said Sen. John Adler (D-Camden), a prime sponsor. "It's a missed opportunity for Ocean County to show that it respects families. ... It's a crummy, cold decision."

The surviving spouse benefit amounts to about $13,000 a year and would be paid from the state pension fund. For Andree, an auto mechanic, the money would "mean the difference in whether or not she can stay in the house," Hester said.
More on this here. Read the rest of this post...

Please consider making a contribution to AMERICAblog

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It's that time again, our once-a-month AMERICAblog-athon where we ask you to consider making a not-tax-deductible contribution to the blog, using the yellow boxes at the top of the screen.

For any of you who are relatively new to the blog, this is a full-time job for me. I gave up 99% of my political consulting work to do the blog full-time starting this past February (during the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert White House journalist/prostitute story). Since that time, I've relied almost wholly on your donations to pay my salary, and to pay for the upkeep of the blog.

There's good news, in that regard. My goal is to eventually make the blog self-sufficient - in the future, I want the ads to pay 100% for the maintenance of the blog (tech costs, monthly bandwidth, salary, etc.). At that point, I want to only seek contributions for specific advocacy projects, such as raising money for candidates, for specific causes, for an ad campaign, i.e., for some specific "I gotcha" moment we want to take advantage of immediately and for which we need a few bucks to do it. I.e., we could pay an organizer to raise some hell, send Kyle on more trips to trouble spots (wouldn't it be cool to send someone to cover Camp Casey?). I also think it would be cool to consider doing some kind of "up and coming blogger" scholarships - i.e., raising some cash to help smaller bloggers (who already kick ass) for whom a couple hundred or a couple thousands bucks could make a world of difference in the work they do. These are all just in the planning stage, but that's the kind of cool stuff we can do when we become totally self-sufficent via the ads.

As for now, there are the technical costs of running a big blog. As many of you know, we're in the process of moving to our own dedicated server. We've pretty much grown too large for the Blogger system we now use (it's free) - we're getting a lot of traffic, have incredibly large archives, and Blogger is extremely limiting in the functionality it offers, though it's a great system and I'd recommend it for new bloggers.

Anyway, we need to move to our own dedicated server, which will also entail redesigning the entire architecture of the blog. That's pretty cool, because AMERICAblog 2.0 will have a lot more functionality for us, and you, to do lots of cool things. Moving the blog over to our own server, redesigning it, creating the blogging software that will run the site, having a part-time tech guy on staff to keep things up and running, and hosting it for the first 12 months will cost around $34,000. (And please, don't send me emails telling me this cost estimate is too high, you have no idea what our bandwidth usage is - we used several hundred gigs in just the few weeks we posted those "dead Iraqis for war porn" photos.) I've already raised over half the money to help meet that cost and am hopeful over the next year we can raise the rest.

Anyway, that's a long-winded way of saying "this is why I ask for your contributions."

As I've said before, if you'd consider buying a subscription to a print magazine or newspaper, or if you'd consider making a donation to your favorite advocacy group, then consider treating AMERICAblog the same way. We're part newspaper, magazine, advocacy group, and therapy all wrapped up in one.

Here's to bigger and better things in the year ahead :-)

JOHN Read the rest of this post...

GUILTY: Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA)

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UPDATE: He resigned.

UPDATE 2: Video of resignation speech here. Click watch video to the right of the lead paragraph.

Another one bites the dust:
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges, admitting taking $2.4 million in bribes in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques.
Read the rest of this post...

The 25th Amendment

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There's increasing chatter that Bush may not longer be mentally fit for office. There is a way to remove a president from office that has nothing to do with impeachment. It's called the 25th Amendment to the United States Constitution:
Twenty-Fifth Amendment - Presidential Vacancy, Disability, and Inability

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principle officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
The question is no longer whether Bush is an idiot. The question is whether he's mentally competent, or whether he's an unreformed alcoholic who is suffering from a massive depression combined with religious megalomania, all of which have made him totally detached from reality.

Say what you will about Bill Clinton, we never had to worry about whether he had gone crazy. Read the rest of this post...

For Lott, revenge is best served cold

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In case you missed it this weekend, the NY Times had an article about the fun Trent Lott seems to be having with some of his GOP adversaries:
So Mr. Lott is taking aim where he will. When Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court, Mr. Lott, who had been openly critical of Ms. Miers, was practically gleeful. "In a month," Mr. Lott said, in an interview on the Fox News Channel, "who will remember the name Harriet Miers?"

The senator has also thrown darts in the direction of Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser. With Mr. Bush's poll ratings dropping, Mr. Lott has said the White House might consider "bringing in some new people" - a jab at Mr. Rove, who helped engineer Mr. Lott's departure as Republican leader.

The current majority leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, also seems to be in Mr. Lott's sights. In his book, "Herding Cats: A Life in Politics," published in August, Mr. Lott wrote that he considered Mr. Frist's leadership bid in 2002 "a personal betrayal."
Lott sat back and waited. It's actually entertaing to watch him play now. Read the rest of this post...

Bush and top staff are in denial, think everything is everyone else's fault

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Just what we need during the middle of a war. A bunch of crazy people running the country. Read the rest of this post...

Why does the GOP hate the poor?

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When it was a PR crisis we heard plenty of promises to help rebuild New Orleans but now that that crisis is over the poor can go screw themselves because the GOP is more worried about handing out corporate welfare for Big Oil and Big Pharma not to mention building bridges to nowhere and propping up support from the corporate farmers who have been solid voters for them in recent years. Keeping a close reign on spending is fine but how about a little balance and follow through with the promises? Why does the GOP want to give away everything to the wealthiest and block opportunity for improvement to the poor and middle class? Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

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I need coffee. Read the rest of this post...

Hastert backpedaling on smear campaign against Murtha and Dems

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Oh how the times have changed. Someone needs to remind Hastert that it is no longer 2001 or even 2004 when the GOP could walk away laughing after any outrageous smear against Democrats who were being critical of administration policies. How else could you characterize his smear against Murtha other than it was calling him a coward?
It said that America "must not cower" in fighting the war on terror and that Mr. Murtha and other Democrats "want us to wave the white flag of surrender."
I'll tell you who's waving the white flag now and it's not Murtha. The American public no longer believes Bush and the GOP when it comes to this war (and beyond) but many in the GOP have failed to accept this reality. Read the rest of this post...

Suu Kyi to remain under house arrest in Myanmar

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As long as Big Oil continues pumping oil without any interruptions from do-gooders who worry about silly things like human rights abuses, Suu Kyi won't be leaving house arrest for a while. Lucky for the world we have leaders from the US, France and UK and other Big Oil countries who are not blinded by the silly requests by the people who actually want to see democratic results respected and enacted. Can you believe it? People want their vote to count? Oh well, maybe next century politicians will care and not worry about the oil money that finds its way into the political system.

In the mean time, Suu Kyi and her supporters can wonder why the world doesn't give a crap about freedom and democracy in Myanmar and the Myanmar government can continue its program of human rights abuses including torture, rape, slave labor and disappearing people. The West is going to have a lot of explaining to do one of these days. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Busy week or slow week ahead in politics? Read the rest of this post...

Video allegedly shows private security forces (mercenaries?) shooting innocent Iraqi civilians for fun

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Oh yeah, this is gonna be good.

Video from C&L (it's real creepy). More on the story from DKos.

But hey, please don't let this jaundice your view of the war. We wouldn't want our troops to have bad morale while the Republicans leave them for sitting ducks. Read the rest of this post...

It's soooo not over for Rove

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Despite all the spin to the contrary, there are more indications that Rove is still in the crosshairs of Patrick Fitzgerald. Another Time magazine reporter is testifying for Fitzgerald about Rove. This time it's about conversations with his lawyer:
A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.

Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue.

Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.
Read the rest of this post...

Dear British Press: Please get us the secret memo

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I have friends in the UK that can help out, and there are lots of other options. Please consider emailing me, or feel free to find another way for us to talk about this - I want that memo. I've done interviews with the BBC and lots of American media, folks know how to find me.

Something as easy as going to a public Internet cafe or library (with appropriate baseball hat and sunglasses - you guys have those crazy cameras everywhere I hear) and emailing me a photo image of the document (scanned image, digital camera image, whatever) from a Hotmail account you create on the spot, that would work too, and there's no way the govt can trace that to you. The best they can do is perhaps trace it to the Internet cafe, but if you don't sign in to the cafe under your name or pay with a credit card (even better, use a free public library's Net access), and you create the Hotmail address on the spot, the authorities will never find you. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Take it away. Read the rest of this post...

Bush says Democrats have embraced "Bush's withdrawal plan." Only problem? Bush has never offered a withdrawal plan.

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It's amazing how willing you are to lie when 66% of the country hates you.
The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own....

The statement late Saturday by White House spokesman Scott McClellan came in response to a commentary published in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he said US forces will begin leaving Iraq next year "in large numbers."....

Even though Bush has never publicly issued his own withdrawal plan and criticized calls for an early exit, the White House said many of the ideas expressed by the senator were its own.
And I guess we're supposed to forget the fact that Bush and Cheney pilloried Democrats for embracing a withdrawal plan only a week ago.

Time for the media to ask Bush what changed in the last week that suddenly makes a withdrawal acceptable?

And in fact, As Atrios has mentioned, quoting someone else whose name eludes me, this isn't a real withdrawal anyway. It's a feint. Bush is simply embracing withdrawal because he's desperate and he knows it's what the public wants. He's not going to go through with it, even a partial withdrawal. And in any case, our soldiers will continue to die because this war is a disaster and we're losing. So long as we have a significant number of soldiers in Iraq, the deaths will continue and this war will continue to be an albatross around the neck of the worst president ever. Read the rest of this post...

Chris Wallace caught covering up Bush's blatant lies

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Think Progress busts Wallace for re-writing history to cover up Bush's lies about the link between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Definitely worth a read. Shows one more time how far Fox will go to cover for Bush. Fox doesn't let the facts get in the way. Read the rest of this post...

Happy Birthday to me...

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I've learned that by a certain age if you don't hype your own birthday, no one else will :-) Read the rest of this post...

Two US congressmen hurt in Iraq

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Are we winning yet?

And whose brilliant idea was it to ride really fast down the middle of the road (i.e., into oncoming traffic)? Are they surprised that some Iraq driver basically replied "screw you" to this game of chicken?
The congressional delegation was riding in a box-like vehicle that troops call the "ice cream truck" -- it streaks through the middle of the road to deter oncoming motorists, Marshall told the paper. But shortly after dark, an oncoming truck refused to yield.

"Then, all of a sudden, brakes get slammed on. Then we hit something and go off the side of the road and tip over," Marshall said.
Hubris is not a war plan. Read the rest of this post...

One Man's Life - The Cost of the War in Iraq

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Today the LA Times has the story of the life and death of Col. Ted Westhusing. It's a portrait of a an incredibly intelligent man whose experiences in Iraq either led to his suicide or murder. No matter what you think of the war in Iraq, it has an often overwhelming human impact on those that experience it. From the LA Times:
One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.
Then there was the note.

Investigators found it lying on Westhusing's bed. The handwriting matched his.

The first part of the four-page letter lashes out at Petraeus and Fil. Both men later told investigators that they had not criticized Westhusing or heard negative comments from him. An Army review undertaken after Westhusing's death was complimentary of the command climate under the two men, a U.S. military official said.

Most of the letter is a wrenching account of a struggle for honor in a strange land.

"I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.

"Death before being dishonored any more."

"Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."
Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach is the one with the problem, not Westhusing. Our military is not intended to work for profit of private corporations - its purpose is to support U.S. foreign policy with force.

Our recent governments - both Democrat and Republican - have supported privitization of our military. This is the price.

Read the whole story. Read the rest of this post...

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam's time and worse"

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That's according to former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi. What a great moment for freedom and democracy, GOP style. I'm sure that the families of the dead soldiers will be thrilled with hearing that their loved ones died to re-create the same mess that was there before. So there were no WMD and we replaced one brutal regime with another brutal regime, we're forking over billions of taxpayer dollars to help Big Oil take back business they lost thirty years ago and we have Americans, Brits and tens of thousands of Iraqis being killed, all for this. Brilliant.
"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things."

"We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated," said Allawi, who was Iraq's first prime minister of the post-Saddam Hussein era.

"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations," Allawi said. "We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.
Read the rest of this post...

What exactly is the "noble mission"?

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Yesterday, driving back to D.C. from Maine, I listened to the news over and over. I kept hearing this snippet from Bush's radio address:
"The military families who mourn the fallen can know that America will not forget their sacrifice, and they can know that we will honor that sacrifice by completing the noble mission for which their loved ones gave their lives."
Does anyone know exactly what the noble mission is? The White House thinks if you just keep calling Iraq a "noble mission" people will think it is a noble mission even if they don't know what that noble mission is. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Morning Open Thread

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Open thread away!

I've got a hangover this morning - someone please remind me the next time I want to drink that I'm not 22 anymore... Read the rest of this post...

UK preparing for Official Secrets Act trial this week

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Blair is getting desperate and doing exactly what Bush would do, if he could do it, by going after the press for printing embarrassing stories. Remember how Blair had his thugs arrest a Labour MP a few weeks ago for vocalizing his thoughts on Blair's reasons for going to war? During that little event where the MP said "rubbish" Team Blair had him arrested by using the anti-terror laws, clearly abusing the basis of those laws to mistreat a frail old man who dared criticize. Blair and his little group are tarnishing the UK laws by using them for frivolous actions and just like his master in DC has no idea what he is talking about when he talks about freedom and democracy.

Blair is losing it and is trying anything and everything to keep his grip on power. Too bad Poodle-boy, you've crossed the tipping point just like Bush. Quit abusing the law and worry about what you are actually doing instead of those who criticize you. Read the rest of this post...

Winter has arrived across Europe

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It wasn't much compared to what I saw growing up in the northeast but for Paris and for November it was pretty surprising. After a dusting of flurries on Friday we had a nice little snowstorm in Paris yesterday leaving all of about half an inch, maybe. A little snow on the ground always looks so nice. I always miss it when it snows here because I'm traveling somewhere else so it was good fun to see the trees covered. I am still keeping my fingers crossed that our cold start to winter fizzles out and we go back to our normal mild winter, just like every other winter. Read the rest of this post...

Keeping Track Of Bush's Lies: A Full-time Job

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Here's the latest on the NYT columnists you can't read for free anymore.

Frank Rich does a great rundown of the latest info on how Bush lied to the American people in the runup to war. He provides links to that engrossing LA Times story from last Sunday on how the Bush administration knew the Iraqi informant Curveball was a discredited source but kept championing his lies anyway. Rich also links to the new National Journal article that lays out the Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney lies linking Iraq to Al Quaeda and what they were being told by the CIA et al at the time. Then Rich links to a terrific Rolling Stone piece on John Rendon, Bush's "general in the propoganda war." Yep, staying on top of Bush's lies is a full-time job.

Nicholas Kristof continues to focus on the genocide in the Sudan, where the death toll is already in the hundreds of thousands. Anytime Bush claims to be promoting a culture of life, bring up the Sudan.

And David Brooks writes a truly idiotic article about a brave US captain who took part in a battle for an Iraqi town. Brooks writes about the battle in detail and then notes that it all proved in vain because the soldiers won the battle but didn't have enough troops to secure the town and had to do it all over again weeks later. Brooks writes: "Every time you delve into the situation in Iraq, you come away with the phrase 'not enough troops' ringing in your head, and I hope someday we will find out how this travesty came about."

Then he complains that the media never tells stirring stories about warriors like this captain. Uh, this "travesty" came about because you supported a President who ignored the advice of his generals, punished anyone who called for more troops and tried to secure Iraq on the cheap, regardless of the cost in blood to our soldiers. And the media doesn't tell stirring stories about bravery because -- as you just described -- they take place in a backdrop of incompetence and futility.

As a conservative myself, I can't decide who I hate more -- Brooks or Tierney. Can you? Read the rest of this post...

Iraq's Human Rights Abuses Worse Than Under Saddam, Says Allawi

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Bush wants to claim victory and get the hell out, but Iraq's first Prime Minister says the country is rife with death squads and torture centers and could soon eclipse Hussein's reign of terror. Bush's one-time ally Ayad Allawi is making it very difficult for the President to pretend everything is hunky-dory, thanks to this interview with UK's The Observer. Read it. It's a bombshell. Allawi is a secular Shiite who has been reaching out to Sunnis. Some highlights:
'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison.'

'We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.'
And how's this for a kicker?
[Allawi] added that he now had so little faith in the rule of law that he had instructed his own bodyguards to fire on any police car that attempted to approach his headquarters without prior notice, following the implication of police units in many of the abuses.
Read the rest of this post...

Even Frist Condemned Alito's Narrow-Minded Far Right College Group

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The latest on Alito: that far-right college group he belonged to -- Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- was condemned by none other than Senator Bill Frist way back in 1975 for presenting a "distorted, narrow and hostile view" of Princeton. In 1985, when Alito championed his ties to the group, it was sputtering to a halt, with even its own members calling the group's stances possibly racist and certainly antiquated and embarrassing.

Naturally, Alito's allies now say we shouldn't read anything into his membership in a group that even Frist thought was divisive and backwards, a group that championed a "more traditional undergraduate population," ie, a whiter one with more alumni and fewer minorities. Is there anything about Alito he hasn't distanced himself from? Read the rest of this post...

The Pentagon is now spying on US citizens

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Big story in Sunday's Washington Post. Democratic Veteran blog has the coverage.

Gotta love the quote at the end of the blog entry:
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reich-Marshall at the Nuremberg Trials
Read the rest of this post...

Top Gay Bigot in Mass. Legislature Won't Seek Reelection

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Rob's Note: An article from a couple of weeks ago that got lost in the shuffle.

See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya. From the Boston Globe:
The most vocal critic of gay marriage in the state Legislature will not seek re-election next year, according to a published report.

Rep. Philip Travis, D-Rehoboth, told The Boston Globe he wants to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests, including teaching at a community college and researching Native American history in his district.
Travis, 65, has led the fight against same-sex marriage since the state's Supreme Judicial Court legalized gay marriage in November 2003.

He led the way in getting the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and when support for that waned, he got behind another proposal for a gay marriage ban aimed at the 2008 ballot.
Conservative groups, including the Massachusetts Family Institute, will be losing an ally.
He also had his struggles. In 1998, while serving as chairman of the legislative Banking Committee, he solicited financial contributions for an Indian tribe in his district from several banks at a time when his committee was considering banking legislation.

He paid a $1,500 fine and lost his chairmanship.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out, unless it's a door labeled equality for all.

This is a good development for gays and lesbians. At least in one state in this country, the trend is towards gay marriage and it looks more and more like it won't be overturned by the legislature. Why? Because critics of gay marriage lost their seats in the last election cycle and more were ready to go down this time, hence the "spend more time with my family" argument. Read the rest of this post...

Off to play with Carmela, the wonder dog

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It's Saturday night on a holiday weekend. Just not in the mood to publish a bitchy post :-) Enjoy.

Read the rest of this post...

A telemarketer just called on my cell phone, I'm not happy

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This is the first telemarketing call I've received in 5 years or so of having this phone, I'm not pleased. It was for some "survey" or something. At 5pm on a Saturday on my CELL PHONE?


Isn't anybody up on this? I'd heard that they were going to start going after cells phones soon, and lo' and behold here we are. Is something up? Have telemarketers indicated they're now going after cell phones? These calls are COSTING US MONEY NOW, I pay for my cell phone minutes as does pretty much every American (in Europe, receiving calls is free).

For what it's worth, the telemarketers were at this number: 609-279-1327

So, anybody up on this? The status of the legality of such calls to cells, and what's being done about this?

Any political party that wants to score a bunch of points, fast, jump on this issue. Read the rest of this post...

Late Afternoon Open Thread

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Open Thread Away!

I'm enjoying a lazy day on Nantucket watching The Adam Carolla Project. Later tonight I'm off to chow down on some lobster for dinner. Maybe I'll bump into John and Theresa again tonight after seeing them shopping on Main Street last night. Read the rest of this post...

Further evidence that Bush is a coward caving to terrorists, planning significant withdrawal from Iraq

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Even more evidence now that Bush is caving to terrorists and political pressure and is planning to reduce a significant amount of US troops from Iraq next year.

The sad part is that he's only doing this because of the political pressure, and not because he thinks the job is done. What will result is that we will have even fewer US troops to do an impossible job - they're talking about still leaving 100,000 there next year - and those troops will face even more chaos and more danger, with fewer fellow service members to watch their back.

So, basically, in order to save his political behind, Bush will put even more US soldiers in danger by trying to split the baby in half. And, within days of Dick Cheney suggesting anybody advocating a troop pull out is a coward and emboldening the terrorists (even though most of the folks we're fighting in Iraq aren't terrorists, but are actually Iraqis we've pissed off), Bush is now proposing the same thing.

So, when will the media ask Dick Cheney why he thinks Bush is a coward who enables terrorists? Read the rest of this post...

US Military Did Burn Afghan Bodies

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From AP:
Four U.S. soldiers face disciplinary action for burning the bodies of two Taliban rebels, but they will not be charged with crimes because their actions were motivated by hygienic concerns, the military said Saturday.

The military started its inquiry into the incident last month after TV footage showed U.S. soldiers using the cremation to taunt other Islamic militants Â? an act that sparked outrage in Afghanistan.

Islam bans cremation, and the video images were compared here to photographs of U.S. troops abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

The U.S.-led coalition's operational commander, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, said two junior officers who ordered the bodies burned would be officially reprimanded for showing a lack of cultural and religious understanding, but he said the men were unaware that what they were doing was wrong.

Kamiya also said two noncommissioned officers would be reprimanded for using loudspeakers to taunt Taliban rebels believed to be lingering in a nearby village after a clash with the troops. The two men also would face nonjudicial punishments, which could include a loss of pay or demotion in rank.

"Our investigation found there was no intent to desecrate the remains, but only to dispose of them for hygienic reasons," Kamiya said.
Yeah, sure. Think any Muslims are buying that one? Read the rest of this post...

FOX News: Bush approval now at 28%

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UPDATE: I can't find this poll anywhere. I saw it live on FOX cable this morning, they even had it written at the bottom of the screen throughout the entire story, I kept looking at it because I couldn't believe it dropped that low. The only reference I could find online to Bush being 28% in the polls was an Al Jazeera story. It'd be funny if FOX repeated an Al Jazeera story! Anyway, I'm striking this headline until someone can backup the number.

This needs to stop or I'm just going to hyperventilate laughing.

The good news for Bush? Amongst insurgents in Iraq, his approval rating has soared. Apparently, they think he's doing a heck of a job - helping them. Read the rest of this post...

Bush and al-Jazeera - Insane Story

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Looks like the Bush wanting to bomb al-Jazeera story isn't going away. From the BBC:
The head of al-Jazeera is delivering a letter to Tony Blair demanding the facts on reports that President Bush suggested bombing the Arab TV station.

He wants a memo published which is alleged to show Tony Blair dissuaded President Bush from bombing its HQ.

Last week the Daily Mirror reported what it said was the contents of a memo showing Mr Blair had talked the US President out of the attack last year.
According to press reports, the memo includes a transcript record of Mr Blair attempting in April 2004 to persuade Mr Bush not to bomb al-Jazeera's HQ in Qatar.

Qatar is an ally of the US and was the location of US military headquarters during the Iraq war.
If this is true, that Bush wanted to bomb a building in the very same country as his military headquarters in a time of war, he would have to be absolutely insane. Congress should seriously consider what this would mean if the Commander in Chief was that reckless.

Update 1:
Video here. (Hat tip to Dave and dionysus) Read the rest of this post...

Washington Post examines the Abramoff Scandal

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This thing is breaking open. Everyone's involved: Congressman and their wives, Senators, staffers, Bush administration officials. This was the epitome of the GOP's K Street project:
The 35 to 40 investigators and prosecutors on the Abramoff case are focused on at least half a dozen members of Congress, lawyers and others close to the probe said. The investigators are looking at payments made by Abramoff and his colleagues to the wives of some lawmakers and at actions taken by senior Capitol Hill aides, some of whom went to work for Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, lawyers and others familiar with the probe said.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R), now facing separate campaign finance charges in his home state of Texas, is one of the members under scrutiny, the sources said. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and other members of Congress involved with Indian affairs, one of Abramoff's key areas of interest, are also said to be among them.
Read the rest of this post...

Early AM Open Thread

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So how was everyone's Black Friday? Get in any fights at Walmart yesterday? From The Mercury News:
Police were eventually called to calm unruly shoppers who climbed over a display case and shouted in a desperate effort to get their hands on one of a couple-of-dozen Hewlett-Packard notebook computers -- on sale for just $22 off the regular price of $400.
Here's a great wrap-up of Great Days in Black Friday History from The Baltimore Sun:
Such spirited scuffles have become a predictable, if perverse, part of the season - as traditional as fruitcake and eggnog. The shopping skirmishes can be traced back at least a generation, when the desire for an adorably homely Cabbage Patch Kid doll outweighed the desire to follow the Golden Rule. Even embarrassment spurred by media reports about the combatants hasn't been enough to deter the fights over toys and parking spaces.
Open Thread Away! Read the rest of this post...

Vatican cuts singer from Christmas concert due to violation of "moral doctrine"

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No, we're not talking about pedophilia...they are still active in diverting attention and responsibility on those countless violations of the law and most peoples moral doctrine. This gross violation of that strict moral doctrine the church likes to promote is all about condoms and saving lives. Oh the horror, get her off of that lineup immediately! Just say no to condoms and just say no to saving lives in the war against AIDS. What would the world do without those morals in the Catholic church? Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid blogging

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Okay, I'm a wee bit late. This is a plant that I don't exactly have - well, I don't have the Paph sanderianum species itself, I have several crosses with sanderianum in it (kind of like the genetic difference between owning a pure breed dog and a mixed breed).

Here is an example of Paph sanderianum Shin-Yi (I have this, again, as a cross with another plant):

And here's a slow-mo picture of a sanderianum flowering over a 21 day period. This one is supposedly the world record holder for longest petals. You can read more about it here.

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Open Thread

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Speak clearly. Read the rest of this post...

Abramoff scandal's tentacles really do reach really deep

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Today the Wall Street Journal did a major expose on the growing Abramoff scandal. The WSJ is subscription only...but now Reuters is reporting on that article, so here's the good stuff:
Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions are looking into Abramoff's dealings with four Republicans -- former House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, Rep. John Doolittle of California and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, the paper said, citing several people close to the investigation.

Abramoff is under investigation over his lobbying efforts for Indian tribes with casinos. He has also pleaded not guilty to federal charges in Florida that he defrauded lenders in a casino cruise line deal.

The prosecutors are also investigating at least 17 current and former congressional aides, about half of whom later took lobbying jobs with Abramoff, as well as an official from the Interior Department and another from the government's procurement office, the Journal said.
Congressman, a Senator, Administration officials, hill staffers....Jack Abramoff just keeps giving. And, remember, his former partner -- who is also a former DeLay staffer -- Michael Scanlon is singing like a canary.

This is going to keep going for a long time. Read the rest of this post...

Alito has problems with ethics -- as in telling the truth to the US Senate

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Bush thinks Scalito is the best choice for the Supreme Court. Bush also harbors traitors at the White House so why should we believe him? Alito told the Senate under oath that he WOULD NOT rule in cases involving Vanguard:
Alito serves on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and has most of his money in mutual funds. When he joined the court in 1990 he told senators he would avoid cases in which Vanguard Group was a party.
Alito heard a case involving Vanguard anyway. Then, he was indignant when challenged. You know he's busted because the spinmeisters at the White House can't come up with an answer:
Senators questioned him about the 2002 Vanguard case, which was the subject of a conflict of interest complaint filed by the woman who lost her lawsuit. Alito withdrew after first ruling against her and the decision was reaffirmed without his participation.

Alito and the White House have offered several explanations: that a computer glitch allowed the disqualification issue to slip through undetected, that Alito's 1990 pledge to stay out of Vanguard appeals only applied to his initial service, and that the promise was "unduly restrictive."
Bottom line: Scalito told the Senate one thing, then did the opposite. He can't be trusted. Being honest with the Senate should be a prerequisite for serving on the highest court in the land. Read the rest of this post...

If Bush is telling the truth, and we went to war because of a massive intelligence failure by the CIA, then why did he give the CIA director a medal?

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So, tell me again how Bush is now claiming that it was the intelligence that was flawed, rather than the White house outright lying to the American people? Because I'm confused. How does the CIA allegedly so screw up that it leads the nation wrongly into war, and then the head of the CIA is given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the American equivalent of a knighthood?

Seriously, this makes no sense. Bush is lying. He wouldn't have given Tenet a medal if Tenet is to blame for this entire mess.

Shall we all hold our breaths until the MSM asks Bush why he gave a medal to the guy who supposedly got us into this entire mess? Or is Bush just lying again about this being an intelligence failure? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Sloooowww news day.

Hearing anything interesting? Read the rest of this post...

Yet another reason to loathe Ann Coulter

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Just in time for the holidays, that paragon of virtue is trashing Murtha now we learn via Think Progress:
It is simply a fact that Democrats like Murtha are encouraging the Iraqi insurgents when they say the war is going badly and it’s time to bring the troops home…[T]hey long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle. They fill the airwaves with treason…These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.
She really is beneath contempt. Who has done more to serve their country: Coulter or Murtha. In her warped mind, it's her.

Let's keep our troops in a country where the government lets the insurgents knows it's acceptable to kill them. That shows support. Read the rest of this post...

Black t-shirts are here, finally!

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We're finally selling black t-shirts in the AMERICAblog shop. I've only got the Treason's Greetings and the "Worst. President. Ever." ones ready so far in black - it takes a few hoops to get the image ready for the black printing. The shirts are only in one style so far, and they're more expensive because the printing process is more expensive for black shirts (Lord only knows why).

Anyway, here they are:

Merry Fitzmas

Happy Fitzukkah

And there are six different versions of the "Worst. President. Ever." - this is just one:

Read the rest of this post...

She's Baaacck: Cindy Sheehan Joins Bush in Texas

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From AP:
The fallen soldier's mother whose August vigil near President Bush's ranch reinvigorated the anti-war movement returned to Texas to resume her protest Thursday as the president celebrated Thanksgiving a few miles away.

"I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," Cindy Sheehan said as she arrived at an airport in nearby Waco. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."
Read the rest of this post...

Alito's has problems with one man, one vote

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Okay, the fact that the concept of "one man, one vote" is even at issue in the nomination of Scalito should be disturbing enough to derail his nomination:
One of the mysteries still hanging in the confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. is his view of a landmark case that established the legal principle of one man, one vote. The answer varies depending on when you ask -- not to mention whom you ask.

In 1985, when Alito was applying for a political appointment in the Reagan administration, he wrote that he disagreed with decisions by the Warren Court in the 1960s involving "reapportionment." Those rulings required electoral districts to have equal populations and helped ensure greater representation of urban minorities.
Now, the White House is claiming that Alito is telling Senators he's fine with one man, one vote. But how can they trust anything Alito says to them? Alito has a proven track record of telling the Senate one thing, then doing the opposite. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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What were you saying? Read the rest of this post...

Is "last throes" Cheney in his "last throes" in DC?

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With favorable ratings below 20% and the mouthpiece for the many lies about Iraq, Cheney seems to be in trouble. With all of his predictions about Iraq now proven to be false and his leadership in the pro-torture movement he now represents the epitome of all that wrong about this failed adventure in Iraq. Perhaps that is why he spends so much time at his new home on the Eastern Shore instead of in Washington, though the locals would rather Dick and Lynne found a new location to annoy people. Considering the conservative nature of the Eastern Shore where the GOP is strong, it's impressive to think that they have become so unpopular so quickly with their new neighbors.

So what's up with Cheney? Is he too much of a political liability or is he sick again or perhaps he's occupied with the Plame-gate scandal. With the administration already having crossed the tipping point with the US public, maybe he is only sticking around to maintain those core supporters because he certainly is not helping with the other 80%. More power to him and I hope he sticks around for a while. Especially through the 2006 elections. Read the rest of this post...

Unfortunate turn of events in France

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The rioting has stopped, for now, but looking at how the government is reacting to the root cause of the problems of racism it is only a matter of time before this pops up again. In the middle of the crisis Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy made a number of inflammatory statements which aggravated the situation but for me came as a surprise since he has consistently been the only French politician to discuss racism (well before the riots) and correcting the problem via affirmative action.

The government, led by Chirac, had put together a team to study the problem and surprise, surprise, they rejected any affirmative action plan because in their eyes it runs counter to the theory that everyone in the state is equal. Hmm. France loves math and logic and racism somehow fails to fit into the theory (and god knows they love theory) that everyone is equal already. This rejection of affirmative action is absolute rubbish and guarantees a continuation of the festering problem of racism here.

If anyone takes any time to look at racism in France, new visitors will be welcomed at immigration by blatant cases of discrimination, where anyone that is not white will regularly be questioned and whites will pass through without question. Look around on the streets and see who is pulled over by the police and all too often, they are not white people. Go into an office in France and look who is sitting at a desk and who is cleaning up. It's disgusting, it's archaic and has no place in the modern world in this day and age.

This committee and their response is a sham and a disgrace to equality. I really hope that in 2007 Sarkozy learns to control his outbursts and instead focuses his energy on fixing this problem of racism. Dismissing the problem of racism and talking about theory is so last century. Get with the times. Read the rest of this post...

With no sign of progress in Iraq, Bush plans more campaign speeches

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The White House War Room is in full operational mode. Not the War Room to deal with the war. No, the War Room to deal with the spin about the war.

The Washington Post takes a look at Bush's upcoming campaign. He faces a huge problem with Iraq. It's a war he started for the wrong reasons and without a plan for how to extricate the US. So now he's stuck and Americans are being killed every day:
Bush's historical burden is that there is no recent precedent for a leader using persuasion to reverse a steady downward slide for a military venture of the sort he is facing. Only clear evidence of success in Iraq is likely to alleviate widespread unease about the central project of this presidency, public opinion experts and political strategists said.
So there's no sign of progress on the horizon. As the Post notes, speeches alone won't solve the problem. So what's the Bush solution? More speeches:
Bush plans to use the time before the December elections in Iraq to talk about the U.S. stake and make the case that he has a strategy that is working, beginning on Wednesday with a speech in Annapolis that will focus on what the administration says is clear progress in training of the Iraqi security force. Other speeches will follow as White House officials attempt to use the final weeks of this year and early next year to shape public opinion.
Read the rest of this post...

Happy Thanksgiving Open Thread

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Just finished Thanksgiving dinner with the family. My niece and nephews are over, so it's basically one big zoo - though a big nice zoo. It's a balmy 18 degrees outside - ah the joys of Chicago :-) Tomorrow I'm off Christmas tree hunting with my sis and a cousin visiting from college (he's from Panama, part of the Latin American contingent of the Greek clan, we've got 'em in Panama and Brazil). Sis wants us to chop down our own tree, though I suspect that's because she's never had to do the chopping. Maybe we'll make the Panamian do the chopping - so long as he's never read Tom Sawyer. Read the rest of this post...

Brownie has a new job

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Place this one in the "I can't believe it's for real" category and don't read on an empty stomach. Read the rest of this post...

Why does Archbishop O'Malley hate the poor and disadvantaged so much?

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Talk about pathetic, O'Malley has canceled his plans to participate at the upcoming Catholic Charities annual Christmas dinner because the event will be honoring Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a Catholic who supports abortion rights and gay marriage. Yea, that's the way to show 'em! Screw those poor people and let them go find another charity event. Way to go for putting aside your differences for an evening and thinking about the people who will be impacted the most by your stroll down wingnut path. And the church wonders why they have problems and are in steep decline. Oh the moral leadership... Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Thread away. Read the rest of this post...

Joe Lieberman stays the course with Bush on Iraq

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Joe the sanctimonious Hawk is in Iraq reciting the Bush administration talking points. One question, Joe, since you're so supportive of the war: What the hell is the mission in Iraq of which you speak?:
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Iraq's prime minister Wednesday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until their mission is complete, despite growing unease in Congress about the progress of the conflict here.

"We cannot let extremists and terrorists, a small number, here in Iraq deprive the 27 million Iraqis of what they want which is a better freer life, safer life for themselves and their children" Lieberman said after his meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
And, Joe, yesterday, the Iraqi government said that they want us to leave and that killing our troops (the occupying force) isn't terrorism. Since you are the first US official to meet with the Iraqi government since that happened, did you discuss those developments with the Prime Minister?

Lieberman also downplayed the Murtha speech. And he probably wonders why his presidential campaign was such a disaster. Read the rest of this post...

Bush & Pentagon sell out to terrorists because they hate our troops

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Sickening. Why do George Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff hate our troops?
The Bush administration and military leaders are sounding optimistic notes about scaling back U.S. troops in Iraq next year, as public opposition to the war and congressional demands for withdrawal get louder.
Mr. President, cowards never run, and runners never, uh, coward. Read the rest of this post...

European Union asking about those CIA "detention" centers

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How quaint. Thinking they can get answers from the Bush administration:
The European Commission will seek answers from Washington on reports the CIA ran secret detention centers in Europe, the bloc's Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said on Thursday.

The Washington Post newspaper reported this month the CIA had been interrogating suspected al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in eastern Europe that was part of a covert global prison system with sites in eight countries.
Read the rest of this post...

Alito's was member of club with nasty sexist, racist and homophobic leanings

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Oh yes, and he was proud of it. You see, according to the club:
"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place," fretted a 1983 Prospect essay titled "In Defense of Elitism." "Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic, the physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports, and homosexuals are demanding that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."
Ah yes, all those uppity brown and yellow people, the gimps, the fags. And this man was proud of his association with a group that thought their ought to be strict limits on the number of women permitted to attend Princeton, since they were changing the student body "drastically" for the worse.

More at Kos. Read the rest of this post...

Thanksgiving Morning Open Thread

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Okay, it's a holiday. Off to a slow start. What's going on? Read the rest of this post...

Another day, another troop withdrawal rumor

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Hope runs eternal as yet another round of troop cut stories makes the rounds. Haven't we heard it all before and then nothing? Why do those creating these rumors believe that the next Iraqi election will actually calm down Iraq? I have yet to see anything that says this next election will reduce tension in Iraq and it's not like the US has been very effective with training Iraq troops to take over combat situations. Rumors are all these people have to minimize their sagging support so I'll believe it when I see it. There have just been too many lies to believe anything out of DoD or the GOP. Read the rest of this post...