comsc US Politics | AMERICAblog News: 02/2006 - 03/2006
Join Email List | About us | AMERICAblog Gay
Elections | Economic Crisis | Jobs | TSA | Limbaugh | Fun Stuff

Consumer confidence drops - MA housing sales hit 10 year low

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Lots of mixed signals in the economy at the moment. There is plenty of information that suggests an improving economy in the short term but with the deficit and high oil prices sticking around for a while it is still very delicate. Add to that the tanking real estate market and it's no surprise that there is some concern out there, rightly so.

One of the hottest real estate markets in recent years is now falling off of a cliff, hitting a ten year low. I always thought that Greenspan's rubbish about frothy markets and not a national bubble was one of his lowest and most ridiculous moments. If the bubble bursts in the middle of Wyoming, sure, who cares? But when it bursts in a major state and is followed by another major market, what the hell do you think will happen? Well for starters, consumer confidence drops. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Anything interesting before bed? Read the rest of this post...

"Assassination Ann" cancels GOP speaking gig after complaints from Republicans

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Someone's getting a little toxic. Read the rest of this post...

AP: "Civil war looms" in Iraq

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Absolute utter disaster.
Headline: Civil War Looms With 68 Killed in Baghdad

Text: Iraq began to tilt seriously toward outright civil war after the Feb. 22 bombing of the important Shiite Askariya shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad.
Read the rest of this post...

Bush is still lying about Katrina

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bush tells ABC News, in an interview to be broadcast on World News Tonight, Nightline and Good Morning America, that the problem with Hurricane Katrina was that the White House didn't have enough "situational awareness" of what was happening on the ground in New Orleans:
BUSH: Listen, here's the problem that happened in Katrina. There was no situational awareness, and that means that we weren't getting good, solid information from people who were on the ground, and we need to do a better job. One reason we weren't is because communications systems got wiped out, and in many cases we were relying upon the media, who happened to have better situational awareness than the government.
That's a lie. The White House new the levies were breaking and did nothing about it. We now know that for a fact. In addition, Bush was on vacation and didn't get any substantial updates about the situation on the ground until Thursday and Friday of the week (the hurricane hit Monday morning). Bush CHOSE not to get updates about Katrina, he was ON VACATION and chose to STAY on vacation.

And he wonders why he's at 34% in the polls. Because he's a liar who refuses to ever take responsibility for anything.

Then we get this little tidbit about 9/11:
I thought, for example, the reaction to the 9/11 attack was a remarkable reaction, positively. When the terrorists attacked and destroy two buildings, there were rescue teams rushing in to save lives. There was a response by the city that was a coordinated response.
Yes, the response from the city of New York was incredible, especially since you were in hiding the entire day up until 6:15PM that evening when you finally returned to the White House. And New York City's brave and effective response is a reflection on you how?

More about Katrina. The big problem, according to Bush, is that the government didn't "comfort people." Comfort people? What, you mean like give em a hug?
VARGAS: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?

BUSH: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help. It looked Â? the scenes looked chaotic and desperate. And I realized that our government was Â? could have done a better job of comforting people.
The people of New Orleans didn't need comfort. They needed a helicopter to get them out of trapped buildings that had no food and water. Comfort them?

Then Bush starts lying about Iraq:
And as you know, we've reduced troop levels this year, and that's because our commanders on the ground have said that the security situation in Iraq is improving because the Iraqis are more capable of taking the fight.
That's another outright lie. US troops levels just went down to the levels they were at right before the elections two months ago, when we sent in additional troops to help keep the peace. We didn't reduce troop levels because things are going better, we simply withdrew the troops associated with the election. Read the rest of this post...

Homophobic, anti-Semitic 'Christian' activists who promote hate literature are now trying to get Desperate Housewives thrown off the air

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The radical religious right group, the American Family Association, has become the book burners of the new century. They don't simply have a gripe with a few things in our culture, a few companies, a few TV shows. They want America to be forced to live under their warped, minority view of an extremist Biblical lifestyle that doesn't even comport with the majority of mainstream American Christianity.

And now they're trying to kill the hit show "Desperate Housewives."

You'll recall that this is the same group that "boycotted" Ford, then lost, after we exposed the organization as gay-hating, having a terrible record of anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim writings, AND the fact that the AFA actually promotes the "Nazi Germany era" science of known hate groups on their Web site.

It's hard to believe that any American company, or politician, would want to be associated with such fringe haters.

Let me share with you, and the folks who run Desperate Housewives, the exact message the American Family Association is promoting:

Does a "Jewish upbringing" lead to a life of crime?
In the March issue of American Family Association Journal, a publication of Donald E. Wildmon's right-wing evangelical activist group, the American Family Association (AFA), author Randall Murphree suggested that a Jewish upbringing leads to hatred of Christians, and by extension, a criminal lifestyle.
Were gays the real evil behind the Holocaust?
Scott Lively, California chapter director of the AFA, is co-author of a book titled, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality and the Nazi Party, in which he claims that “homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.” Lively makes explicit links between his claims about the Nazi party and the modern gay equal rights movement, claiming that “From the ashes of Nazi Germany, the homo-fascist phoenix has arisen again, this time in the United States.”
Is Europe "infested" with Muslims who breed "faster than we do"?
"The problem we have with Europe is that [it] is infested with the Muslim population. The reason why is because they multiply at a much faster rate than we do," she says. "When we Christians get married, we have two, three, maybe four children -- after they're born, we start thinking about what college we're going to send them to, what education we're going to give them. The Muslims, on the other hand, are allowed to marry up to four wives at a time," she says, noting that terrorist Osama bin Laden had 27 children.
Is AIDS a "gay plague"?
Some time ago, you see, Thacker called AIDS "the gay plague," which everyone knows but no one will admit, particularly homosexuals and their friends in the Bush Administration.
Are gays responsible for the "end of times"?
The president of one pro-family group feels the battle in Massachusetts over legalizing homosexual marriage is a clear example of the struggle between good and evil as the end times approach.
Are Muslim-Americans trying to "take over our cities"?
Muslim newcomers are engaging in what area realtors call "block busting." In other words, he says, "They came in, paid outrageously high prices for some of our homes that you wouldn't give $20,000 for, paying 60 and 70 thousand, which then entrenched a number of [Muslim families] on every block." Golen believes this is part of a "concerted effort" on the part of Muslims to use their financial power take over the city, and he says, "they're doing a heck of a job because nobody's standing up to them."
Are gays "deviants"?
" immoral, deviant lifestyle."
Are gays a "public health" threat?
As a family physician, I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that homosexuality brings into the lives of patients that have chosen to live this way.... To promote homosexuality and even consider the sanctioning of it through “marriage” is irresponsible and is a danger to the public health of the entire country, spiritually and physically.
Do Jews control Hollywood?
The AFA Journal has long served as a platform for anti-Semitic theories and innuendo. For instance, Wildmon warned of Jewish control over popular culture, an old anti-Semitic canard, in a January 1989 article, "What Hollywood Believes and Wants." "The television elite are highly secular," Wildmon wrote. "The majority (59 percent) in the Jewish faith." In a separate article in the same issue, titled "Anti-Semitism Called a Serious Problem," Wildmon, a longtime opponent of gay rights, pointedly remarked that "Jews favor homosexual rights more than other Americans."
Are gays diseased perverts who die early? - I'm not even going to quote this crap from AFA, read it for yourself and then tell me how any American company or politician would ever want to listen to these people.

I'm starting to think we may need a new word for these religious right groups: Christian supremacists.

(PS You can find more American Family Association homophobia here.) Read the rest of this post...

GOP thinks exposing their ethical violations is unethical

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Speaking of GOP corruption which we seem to do an awful lot of these days....we've finally learned what the GOP thinks is unethical: reporting on the GOP ethics violations. From The Hill:
The House Republicans’ campaign operation is charging that a recently released Democratic report on Republican corruption violated ethics rules.

The 103-page report, “America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption,” was compiled by the Democratic staff of the House Rules Committee and released by the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), last week.

The report reiterates repeats many of Democrats’ long-held concerns about Republicans’ actions on healthcare, energy, the environment, homeland security and Hurricane Katrina.
Congresswoman Slaughter did a post on the report over at DailyKos when she released the report last week. The full report is available in a pdf version here. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Have at it. Read the rest of this post...

Is it true you're that either an activist or a journalist?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I've been "accused" over the years of being an "activist" and not a "journalist." What I think my accusers meant by that was that activists are biased and not necessarily truthful, while journalists were objective and tell the truth.

A few problems with this argument. First, I've talked to more than my share of journalists and they all have political beliefs, most as strong as mine, so how does that make me biased and them objective simply because I let my political leanings hang out and they keep theirs to themselves?

Second, why are being an activist and a journalist mutually exclusive? This came up in the context of CNN's Lou Dobbs going after the Dubai Ports. CBS News' blog quoted a media observer making the following point:
"To me, you're either an advocate or a journalist. You shouldn't pretend to be both."
Now, I don't pretend to be an expert on the history of journalism, but I did watch the movie "Good Night, and Good Luck" yesterday. It's about CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow taking on red-scare-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. Now, I don't pretend to be as great as Edward R. Murrow, though I can certainly aspire. But much of what he had to say to and about McCarthy reminded me of a lot of what we do on the blogs, and in our activism work, every day.

And to take this off of myself, how did Murrow's public criticism of McCarthy differ in any way from Lou Dobbs' criticism of the Dubai deal? I can't find any difference.

What's unfortunate, and what I think is really going on here, is that FOX News and other Republican surrogates have so prostituted what it means to be a journalist - including using real prostitutes as journalists - that any journalist with an opinion is now suspect. The GOP sycophants have so crossed the line into pro-government propaganda that anyone who tries to criticize government is considered equally, if not more, suspect. Read the rest of this post...

Religious right wants Christians in Israeli parliament

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
It's an interesting question. But troublesome, to me, because I think the religious right is looking far beyond "equal representation" here. This is part of a larger long-term scheme to involve themselves in Israel's affairs since, after all, they think Israeli is theirs come Rapture time. Read the rest of this post...

72% of US troops in Iraq want us to withdraw in a year

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
That's the Murtha plan, a Democratic plan, that our troops are supporting. Remember that, oh Democrats who were afraid to support Congressman Murtha (Mr. Hoyer, uh hum). Democrats represent mainstream American values now. Believe it, and trumpet it. You don't get credit for coming to the party late - embrace these policies now.

From the NYT via E&P:
A poll of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq—reportedly the first of its kind—shows that 72% advocate a U.S. pullout within a year, with only 23% for staying as long ”as necessary,” reports Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column today. Some 29% urge withdrawal “immediately.”

Kristof recently came out for setting a deadline for withdrawal at the end of next year.

The poll of 944 service members was conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College. Recent Gallup and CBS News polls have shown that most Americans at home also advocate the beginning of a pullout.
And one more thing, our troops think Bush has short-changed them:
Asked what it would take to “control the insurgency,” those surveyed strongly suggest that it would take doubling the number of ground troops and bombing missions.
Democrats need to abandon this failed war NOW, or just like Tom Daschle endorsing the $1.3 bn tax cuts, you can't criticize the other guy later on for a policy you too supported. Read the rest of this post...

Top Bush aides have ties to Dubai port company

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Is that why a deal that poses questionable risks to national security was allowed to sail through, even against the objections of the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard? Read the rest of this post...

Dubai port company boycotts Israel

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Yes, Dubai Ports World is part of the Arab boycott of Israel. Ah, such a developed and civil democracy they are.

And last time we checked, it was illegal for the US to help anyone facilitate that boycott. Will Dubai Ports World be stopping Israeli ships from coming to US ports? Read the rest of this post...

John Thune adds another angle to GOP ethics sleaze

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
South Dakota's Senator John Thune, who was elected with the aid of male prostitute Jeff Gannon, has provided yet another example of just how ethically bankrupt the GOPers on the hill can be. It sures seems like he has a lot in common with his infamous campaign operative:
It might be said that Senator John Thune went through the revolving door — backward.

Former Lives of Members of Congress As a lobbyist in 2003 and 2004, Mr. Thune earned $220,000 from the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, a small but ambitious company in South Dakota. The railroad hopes to rebuild and rehabilitate 1,300 miles of track, the nation's largest proposed railroad expansion in more than a century.

Now, as a junior senator from South Dakota, Mr. Thune is working to make that happen, raising questions about whether there should be curbs on lobbyists-turned-lawmakers in the same way that there are on those who take the more traditional route of leaving Capitol Hill for K Street.

Last year, his first in the Senate, Mr. Thune wrote language into a transportation bill expanding the pot of federal loan money for small railroads, enabling his former client to apply for $2.5 billion in government financing for its project. The loan has yet to be approved; Mr. Thune said he was trying to promote economic development in his home state.
Their callous disregard for impropriety really shows no bounds. Read the rest of this post...

Sectarian violence claims 1,300 lives in Iraq

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bush keeps talking about freedom and democracy but once again, the realities on the ground in Iraq escape him. How many people have to die in Iraq before Bush recognizes his mistake? With renewed allegations against al-Sadr and his supporters, what is the plan for addressing him or are we going to continue to hear about bloody fighting over and over and over? Well, it must be time to blame the media again for their self-created mess.
But at the morgue, where the floor was crusted with dried blood, the evidence of the damage already done was clear. Iraqis arrived throughout the day, seeking family members and neighbors among the contorted bodies.

"And they say there is no sectarian war?" demanded one man. "What do you call this?"

Morgue officials said they had logged more than 1,300 dead since Wednesday -- the day the Shiites' gold-domed Askariya shrine was bombed -- photographing, numbering and tagging the bodies as they came in over the nights and days of retaliatory raids.

The Statistics Department of the Iraqi police put the nationwide toll at 1,020 since Wednesday, but that figure was based on paperwork that is sometimes delayed before reaching police headquarters.

The disclosure of the death tolls followed accusations by the U.S. military and later Iraqi officials that the news media had exaggerated the violence between Shiites and Sunnis over the past few days.
Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Here we go again. Read the rest of this post...

Poor planning the reason for problems in Iraq

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Just because Bush and the GOP repeat their story a million times doesn't mean that they are correct. A new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says what the Democrats have been saying all along. The planning was poorly organized, leading to chaos in Iraq.
Thanks to inadequate planning, the report said, early occupation officials lacked enough reconstruction staffers who knew what they were doing.

While reconstruction has cost American taxpayers about $30 billion three years after the overthrown of Saddam Hussein, the country still lacks reliable electricity, water and other services. Monday's report Â? covering the time the country was under control of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority Â? said early efforts were greatly affected by personnel problems.

"Pre-war reconstruction planning assumed that Iraq's bureaucracy would go back to work when the fighting stopped," it said. "When it became clear that the Iraqi bureaucracy was in widespread disarray," occupation authorities "had to find coalition personnel to perform these tasks."

"The U.S. government workforce planning for Iraq's reconstruction suffered from a poorly structured, ad-hoc personnel management processes," the report said, calling hiring practices "haphazard."
Read the rest of this post...

Going up or down?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Where is the under-45 generation going economically? I don't know how often people in the US discuss this issue but I find that here in France, this subject can really set off a fire storm of debate. (I should note that in general the French love to debate just about anything and everything with strong emotion, but this is really a hot one with my friends.) Older generations had a growing economy, purchasing power and relative stability with work, not to mention benefits (retirement, health care) that have changed radically more recently for workers. With the baby boomers starting to join the ranks of retirees, the economic impact has now arrived.

So is this just a case of "things were better in the old days" or is it the reality of the under-45 generation that we will have to make do with less? Read on and debate. Read the rest of this post...

Questions the press still needs to ask about 9/11 and intelligence

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
From NeimanWatchdog:
Paul R. Pillar, the former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year, writes that the press was insufficiently questioning both in the run-up to war and in its coverage of the 9/11 Commission. He proposes questions reporters should ask -- retrospectively and prospectively -- about the use and abuse of intelligence by policymakers.
Read the rest of this post...

Dubai is now trying to censor CNN's Lou Dobbs

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I'm not kidding.

The Dubai state-owned company that wants to get control of 6 key US ports is now trying to silence CNN's Lou Dobbs. Apparently Dobbs' coverage of the port deal struck too close to home, so now Dubai is trying to force CNN to shut him up.

Well, here's a little advice for Dubai: In developed democracies the government doesn't get to tell the media to shut up or else. Sure, your good buddy George Bush has tried to censor the US media for years, but he's a failed president and an idiot and as a result is now at 34% in the polls. You've picked the wrong role model.

Dubai just proved once and for all how undemocratic and not-ready-for-prime-time it is. Scratch just a little bit and you uncover just another two-bit despot. But in this case, the two-bit despot has a checkered past with terrorism and wants to control the port of New York City.

You're doing a heck of a job, Dubie. Read the rest of this post...

More and more and more on Dubai

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
It's still heating up, and the Republicans are fleeing like rats. This is what happens when a failed presidency is at 34% in the polls. Incumbents run away from the president, and fast. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

My new buddy BicycleMark helped me do my first podcast this weekend in Amsterdam. Mark is a Portuguese-American blogger, a very cool blogger, and very cute, and very single (and very straight - just adding that for any single liberal women out there, since he's available and quite eligible).

Anyway, Mark has been living in Amsterdam for a while now and was one of our two den mothers who adopted us this week in Amsterdam. Mark runs his own blog and podcast which you can find here, and you can find his podcast with me here. He was just great, showing me and the other bloggers around all week, took me to my first squat-bar, and more. Just a great new friend, the kind of new friends you meet when you travel (and then leave). Sigh.

Anyway, check out his podcast, he's really good.

And here's Mark in all his glory (see, told you he was cute).

Read the rest of this post...

Bush approval at all-time low 34%, Cheney at 18%

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Will be interesting to see if the public starts demanding that Bush step down as president. I'm serious. Three more years of this? The potential devastation the Republicans may face in the November elections, this could be quite serious.

34%. Jesus. Read the rest of this post...

Under Bush Budget Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Tell me again how much Republicans love our troops? Hey, if you guys like being sent to war with no plan and no exit strategy, then have your veteran services cut, you go right ahead and vote Republican and knock your socks off.
At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.
And one more thing. This is what happens when you have a president who launches wars of convenience on the wrong enemy without a plan for victory. You spend $300 billion the country doesn't have, then have to cut necessary services for patriotic Americans in order to pay for the failed war. Bush's mistakes come at a price. Read the rest of this post...

The media, politicians, and academics do NOT understand who bloggers, and what blogs, are

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Markos goes off, rightly on, on an article that talks about bloggers being "extreme" and "activists." The idea that liberal bloggers are mostly far-left blood-throwing loons has been a common misconception that's been repeated by the media, politicians, and pundits.

First problem, you're mixing up the conservative blogs with the liberal blogs, and lumping them all together, when in fact both sides are quite different.

The top conservative blogs are very conservative, and do represent the far-right of the Republican party.

But on the liberal side of the blogosphere, things are completely different. On average, I'd say, the top liberal blogs are not far-left, nor are they conservative Democrats. The top bloggers tend to be middle of the road Democrats (or liberals) who occasionally veer left and right of Democratic center depending on the issue (I for example am very pro gay rights, but I also tend to be more hawkish on foreign and defense policy - though I don't appreciate being lied to and tricked into unnecessary wars costing $300 billion and thousands of American lives).

The problem the media, politicians and pundits make when calling the left side of the blogosphere "extreme" or "far left" is that they confuse anger and activism with a particular wing of politics. They're not the same thing. And in today's Democratic party, or rather, in today's America, to be angry at the way the country is heading, to think President Bush is a failure as a president, is not the same thing as having a particular political affiliation, let alone one to the "extreme."

Those who would call us "extreme" confuse our extreme anger with extreme politics. And they're two entirely different things.

Markos, for example, was a Ronald Reagan Republican as a kid. So was I. Markos is former military, and I even worked for a Republican Senator. Sure, we've both strayed from our political upbringing, but still, it's a bit difficult to pigeonhole us as per se "extreme" far lefties. I'm sure if you go through the bona fides of other "top" bloggers on the left, you'll run the gamut of those with far-left, center left, and perhaps even "right" left (i.e., conservative dems).

And in fact, if you look at many of the top folks on the online left nowadays - Markos, me, David Brock, and Arianna, for example - the one thing many of us share in common isn't our far left politics, but rather our being former Republicans who grew fed up with far-right politics. And that fed-up-ness, I think, we share with a growing segment of America, left and center.

Once upon a time, to be a liberal activist was, perhaps, to be per se a VERY liberal activist. That just isn't the case any more. Certainly there are many VERY liberal activists, and more power to them, and many of them are bloggers. But today's Democratic/liberal/independent activist is, I believe, less motivated by a particular ideology as he/she is by a growing horror as to the direction our country is heading. If anything, rather than being "extreme" ourselves, we have become activists and bloggers as a RESULT of the extreme turn that Republican politics has taken over the past few decades, and the extreme direction it has taken our country.

I'm jet lagging massively, so I may not be enunciating this as clearly as I'd like, but journalists, politicians and pundits are naive and old-thinking if they believe that liberal bloggers are per se "liberal," meaning to the far-left extreme of the Democratic party. I do believe that only a few of us, if any, are to the far right of the Democratic party, and thank God for that - but only because conservative Democrats aren't Democrats at all. Conservative Democrats are pretty much akin to far-right Republicans. The mainstream of Democratic activists is (are?) politically mainstream and lefty Democrats (i.e, a mix). Whereas the mainstream of Republican party activists are far-right and Christian-right (no mix at all).

Thus, please don't confuse the current make-up of the Republican party and its activists, and its polarization of power to the far-right extreme, with the current make-up of the Democratic and Independent parties and its activists, with its polarization to the very very very angry of all political stripes.

And somewhere down the line, I'm going to write a second piece about how "angry" does not equal "crazy." Read the rest of this post...

Open thread - I'm back

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Just got back from Amsterdam, got in from the airport a bit ago.

Really amazing trip. It truly is a gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous city, fun, and filled with surprisingly nice people (since they often get a bad rap - but do watch them on the streets, they have a nasty habit of bumping right into you when walking towards you on the sidewalk).

The food was good (again, it gets a bad rap), and they had really good ethnic food - we had Italian, Indonesian, and Moroccan, all really good. The town seemed incredibly safe - you can walk around at night, seemingly without much worry - we even walked through a park at 2am, without a problem (local friends said it was totally safe). Folks working in stores, the hotels, etc., all speak English and were terribly nice to us little ole tourists, which also made the trip really nice.

And finally, there's a ton to do. Yes, yes, you can get high etc., but that's only a small part of the town. It's a quite walkable, beautiful city, practically every street is on a canal, the buildings are each a bit different and equally beautiful and strange, and the nights are made for walking - everything has a soft glow, beautiful for a romantic stroll or some great night photography.

My hotel was amazing, the Amsterdam Centre Hotel, I highly recommend it - it's near the Leidespleine (or however you write it), which to me at least is much preferable to Dam square and all the tourists. My hotel in particular, the people working there could NOT have been nicer, and the beds were the most comfortable thing you'd ever slept on.

The Amsterdam taxis, however, are the biggest rip-off on the planet - seriously, I haven't seen a taxi system this corrupt since I lived in Buenos Aires, or perhaps NYC circa the 1980s. Several of us got seriously ripped off by cabs, and I won't even tell you how much a cab charged me to go from the main train station to my hotel - let just say, 5 times the normal price would be about right. And not having a clue as to cab fares, I paid it. I know several others that also got screwed. Had it happened to one or two of us, it could written off as bad luck - but when several people I meet get screwed within a period of days, that is one corrupt taxi system. It just bugs me because apparently it's the big joke in town, how corrupt the cabs are - we went to a comedy show and it was all funny funny funny how the cabs rip off tourists - well, it really wasn't funny after they took me for a ton of money. Amsterdam needs to take the problem seriously, and I get the sense it doesn't, and it really left a very bad taste in my mouth.

Then there's KLM. Incredibly nice folks working there, the food was fine, the service was great, but the coach seats rank up there with one of the most painful flying experiences of my life (and I'm told we had coach plus, or whatever it's called). The seat in front of you is RIGHT in your face, and that's before they recline. Then some brainiac got the bright idea of taking up half of the under-the-seat space of the seat in front of you to deal with the in-flight movie apparatus. I fly a lot, and this was one of the most uncomfortable pain flights of my life, it was literally painful how bad the seats were. I hate to say it, because they seem an awfully nice airline, but I honestly wouldn't fly KLM again, the seats were that bad - literally painfully cramped. Someone is trying to eek out a bit more cash out of that airline, and they're ruining it just like the US carriers have become second rate boxcars that I also won't touch (if you fly a lot, you know what I'm talking about, our flight was almost nine hours from Amsterdam to DC, that's a long time to be in pain). Let's hope the merger with Air France doesn't poison that airline as well, since so far the seats on Air France have been great, but I hear they're shrinking as well.

But aside from the thieving taxis and the unfortunate KLM, I really loved Amsterdam. Had a ton of really interesting political conversations as well with folks, I'll get to those later. But suffice it to say that the Netherlands have a conservative government that is doing some things even further to the right of George Bush, in terms of "homeland security." I'll get to that later.

Anyway, good to be back. Kind of :-)

JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Coast Guard had serious concerns about Bush's UAE port deal

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
This scandal just keeps growing. A report released today showed that the Coast Guard had serious concerns about the UAE deal. This issue gets worse for Bush every day. The entity charged with port security was ignored when they raised questions about the deal:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration that it was unable to determine whether a United Arab Emirates-owned company might support terrorist operations, a Senate panel said Monday.

The surprise disclosure came during a hearing on Dubai-owned DP World's plans to take over significant operations at six leading U.S. ports. The port operations are now handled by London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

"There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment of the potential" merger," an undated Coast Guard intelligence assessment says.
The Coast Guard actually raised terror concerns -- and it got them no where. Read the rest of this post...

Hillary: Karl is obsessing about me

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Hillary hit the nail on the head. The GOPers are obsessing about her. And, Karl Rove does have a creepy feel to him. Seems like the kind of guy you'd see lurking:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that President Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove "spends a lot of time obsessing about me."

The former first lady and potential presidential contender was reacting during a radio interview to a new book quoting Karl Rove as saying she will be the 2008 Democratic nominee for president,

"He spends more time thinking about my political future than I do," Clinton said, noting that Rove and other White House aides have met regularly with her possible opponents in November's 2006 Senate race.

The junior Senator from New York said she believed Rove, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and other Republicans are focusing on her to divert attention from Republican problems as the 2006 congressional elections approach.
Somehow, it's just seems creepier to know that Ken Mehlman is obsessing about you. Read the rest of this post...

Bush still has a pre-9/11 mindset on port security

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
For all the talk Bush has done about national security, he's really failed when it comes to port security. For the Bush Administration, the issue with the ports is first and foremost economics, not security. Isn't that what Bush and Cheney would call a "pre-9/11 mindset"?: Bush thinks it makes economic sense and that's all that matters:
Bush has pledged to veto any measure blocking the deal. "The president's position remains the same," McClellan said. After the review, it will be up to Bush to decide whether the deal takes effect.

Schumer said Monday he is skeptical of the review panel's ability to evaluate the deal, saying the panel has been more focused on economic development rather than national security.
Let's be real. Bush has already made up his mind about the deal with the UAE company. The delay "requested" by the company -- which is ostensibly to review security matters -- is really a farce. Read the rest of this post...

No traction for Bush -- and the bad news keeps coming

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
AP has an article out today that states Bush:
just can't seem to find traction for his second-term agenda.
There should be no traction for his agenda. Given the Bush record, there's nothing in it that could be good for America anyway. In lieu of an agenda, AP points out the hallmarks of Bush's second-term:
The bad news has been coming in waves, from furors over Hurricane Katrina and warrantless wiretapping to the error-plagued rollout of the new Medicare prescription drug program, Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, growing civil strife in Iraq, and now the Republican revolt over the administration's Dubai port decision.

The controversies have rocked the White House and caused alarm among Republican strategists. Their party's electoral hopes in November may depend on whether Bush is able to right his troubled presidency.
The Democrats have to do everything they can to make sure Bush's presidency stays troubled...although, he seems to be doing a good job of that himself. Read the rest of this post...

DeLay used IRS against political opponent

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
How Nixonian:
The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas nonprofit group that was critical of campaign spending by former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay's political allies in the House.

The lawmaker, House Ways and Means Committee member Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), was in turn responding to a complaint about the group, Texans for Public Justice, from Barnaby W. Zall, a Washington lawyer close to DeLay and his fundraising apparatus, according to IRS documents.
Read the rest of this post...

William F. Buckey: Our mission in Iraq has failed

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
"[the] mission has failed....different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat." - William F. Buckley, Jr., The National Review
It's over, folks. Cong. Murtha's "extreme" position of only some three months ago is now mainstream conservative conventional wisdown. Only time will tell if the rest of the Dems join in, or whether the conservatives will get credit for "saving us" from Iraq. And only time will tell if the Dems are smart enough and crafty enough to label the Republicans as abject failures.

If Iraq was key to the war on terror, as Bush has said so many times, then his failure there has put our country at even more risk. Just like the Dubai ports deal, George Bush is making life in America and this world more dangerous by the day. It's not clear America can afford three more years of a failed presidency.

Finally, as E&P notes, now that Buckley recognizes we've failed, when will the New York Times (and the Washington Post) admit the same? Read the rest of this post...

Bush and GOPers on the Hill aren't feeling the love right now

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
If Bush and the GOPers in Congress are having issues, now is the time to exploit them. Keep up the pressure. They might fight among themselves, but it won't last long. They deserve each other -- and those weak-kneed Republicans on the Hill will never stray too far from Bush. Bottom line is their failures are mutual failures:
Though the tensions were somewhat defused Sunday when the company agreed to a 45-day national security review, the problem continues to exact a steep political price from Mr. Bush, exposing divisions between the White House and Congressional Republicans in a critical election year and further weakening a president already reeling from a series of setbacks, from Hurricane Katrina to the war in Iraq.

"We've defended them on wiretaps, we've defended them on Iraq, we've defended them on so many things he's tried to accomplish, that to be left out here supporting this thing in a vacuum is kind of offensive," Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, said Sunday in an interview after the company's agreement to the review was announced. He added, "If it's just about saving face and letting us humor ourselves, we won't be satisfied."

Sunday's agreement is likely to forestall, at least for the time being, a confrontation between Congress and the president over legislation, which Mr. Bush threatened to veto, blocking the Dubai contract. But with Republicans worried about their own re-election prospects, relations are clearly strained.
Thanks to Bush's failures in Iraq, with Katrina and now on port security, the GOP has lost their edge on national security. The Republicans on the Hill know they've got nothing else for the election year. Nothing. But, they'll stick with Bush in the long run. They always do. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
It's 18 degrees in DC right now. Yikes.

Anything happening yet? Read the rest of this post...

Halliburton gets slap on wrist for $250M in questionable charges

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
One might think that when the Pentagon puts its top auditors on a case involving $250M in excessive or unjustified costs, someone is going to be in trouble and have some answering to do. If the target is Halliburton, all bets are off and this is just a little speed bump on the road to riches. It sure does pay to have friends in the right places.
The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified.

Later that year auditors began focusing on the fuel deliveries under the contract, finding that the fuel transportation costs that the company was charging the Army were in some cases nearly triple what others were charging to do the same job.

That means the Army is withholding payment on just 3.8 percent of the charges questioned by the Pentagon audit agency, which is far below the rate at which the agency's recommendation is usually followed or sustained by the military Â? the so-called "sustention rate."

Figures provided by the Pentagon audit agency on thousands of military contracts over the past three years show how far the Halliburton decision lies outside the norm.

In 2003, the agency's figures show, the military withheld an average of 66.4 percent of what the auditors had recommended, while in 2004 the figure was 75.2 percent and in 2005 it was 56.4 percent.
Read the rest of this post...

New plan to revive democracy in the UK

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
You may recall the outrage in the last UK election when Blair's Labour Party won a significant number of seats despite only winning 37% of the vote. Britain's "first past the post" election system, not to mention the public concern with the concentrated power of the PM as opposed to Parliament has chiseled away at democracy in recent years. Now, a new report is coming out that will review new programs to re-introduce democracy in the UK. Maybe it's about time the Democrats think of something like this for the US.
The independent Power commission calls for sweeping changes to prevent a dangerous gulf between politicians and the people becoming even wider. Its ideas include allowing the public to initiate legislation and a shift of power back from the Government to Parliament, following criticism that Tony Blair has neutered it.

Power to the People, the commission's 311-page report, demands a new electoral system "to ensure that all votes count by having some influence on the final outcome of an election."

However, the inquiry concludes that electoral reform is only "one part of a wider 'jigsaw' of change required to re-engage the British people with their political system".

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws said: "Politics and government are increasingly in the hands of privileged elites as if democracy has run out of steam. Too often citizens are being evicted from decision-making - rarely asked to get involved and rarely listened to. As a result, they see no point in voting, joining a party or engaging with formal politics.
Read the rest of this post...

Flying back to DC in a few hours...

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

A final Amsterdam photo for the evening. I took this one yesterday (Sunday). I like the sense of unity and power and confidence, and style. Very "new Europe." Encapsulates a lot of how I feel about this place.

Oh yeah, and their coffee rocks too. Read the rest of this post...

Late Night Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Let's thread through the night. There's so much to discuss. Read the rest of this post...

Bush is weakening National Guard say the Governors

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
George Bush may claim that he is making America safer -- that's just not true. Here's another example courtesy of the nation's Governors -- both Republicans and Democrats:
Governors of both parties said Sunday that Bush administration policies were stripping the National Guard of equipment and personnel needed to respond to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and other emergencies.

Tens of thousands of National Guard members have been sent to Iraq, along with much of the equipment needed to deal with natural disasters and terrorist threats in the United States, the governors said here at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.
Bush is a national security disaster. Read the rest of this post...

Will Bush wait for a smoking mushroom cloud over the Port of New York City before taking the Dubai issue seriously?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Los Angeles Times:
President Bush may not like the arguments that critics are raising against the Dubai company attempting to take over cargo and cruise operations at ports in six U.S. cities. But he should recognize them. The arguments marshaled against Bush closely echoed the ones he deployed to defend the Iraq war.

The president, in other words, is stewing in a pot he brought to boil....

"Facing clear peril," Bush declared in his starkest expression of this argument, "we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

....By Bush's own logic in Iraq, the Dubai port deal is suspect. But Congress needs to think carefully about whether the deal's potential risk justifies the clear and present danger of twisting that spiral a notch higher.
Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Things really got stirred up today. Let's keep it going. Read the rest of this post...

United Arab Emirates actually taking over 21 U.S. ports, not 6 as Bush has claimed

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bush is toast. Read the rest of this post...

Dubai admits that Bush didn't do thorough review of the national security implications of proposed ports deal

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
This is an outrageous admission by the government of Dubai/United Arab Emirates.

According to the article Joe quotes below, the government of Dubai is offering to let the Bush administration conduct a "broader review of security issues in its deal to take over major operations at six U.S. ports." Which begs the very large question as to why such a review, if necessary, didn't happen BEFORE Bush decided to give the go ahead to this deal?

Rather than a "gift," as the Associated Press so naively puts it (not to mention, this "gift" was likely arranged by the Bush administration itself as a public relations move, and AP knows it), what this "gift" really says is that Bush did not conduct the appropriate security review before selling off control to some of our most important ports to a country that has ties to the September 11 attacks.

Or, if Bush tries to say he DID conduct the national security analysis, then this "new" analysis is simply a CYA publicity trick that means nothing.

So which is it? Did our president not conduct the extensive security analysis he should have before selling off control of our ports to people having ties to Osama, or is this "new" review just a whitewash typical of the Bush administration?

Either way, no American should take comfort in a gift that's beginning to look a lot like a Trojan Horse. Read the rest of this post...

UAE has "asked" their friend, George Bush, to follow US law and review their agreement

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
This is too much. AP, and clearly the White House, are viewing the fact that the UAE owned company is "asking" for a review to be a positive step for Bush. A gift? We're talking national security here, folks. The Bush team is trying to be clever here, but they make their guy look emasculated:
The White House got a gift in the ports security debate, a chance for the president to sidestep a battle with members of his own party and to tone down bipartisan criticism of the deal.

The offer by Dubai-owned DP World to submit to a broader review of security issues in its deal to take over major operations at six U.S. ports also could salvage a business deal critically important to its economic future.
This episode should once and for all put an end to the idea that Bush is a leader who can deal with keeping his country safe. He ignored the warnings that Al Qaeda was going to attack in the U.S. He has completely screwed up in Iraq. The response to Katrina was a catastrophic disaster. Now, Bush is letting a foreign country "save" him from a major political scandal because his administration put economic concerns before national security.

We'll have to see if the wimpy traditional media buys this one. They're used to being spoon fed story lines from Karl Rove.

And, it will be interesting to watch all those GOPers on the Hill, starting with Bill Frist, parrot the White House lines -- even though they know this is a political loser. Every step the Bush team takes on this makes them all look worse. But, hey, they're the ones who wanted to make national security a big political issue this year. And, the GOP has basically ignored port security. Karl Rove and the GOP wanted a political debate. Have at it. Read the rest of this post...

Hyatt Hotels embraces racist white supremacist group

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
UPDATE: Correct link to article.

Hyatt says it doesn't "discriminate" against guests.


I hope we'll be seeing the Klan holding its annual conference at the Hyatt next.

More importantly, this is a theme far-right religious extremists have grabbed on to, and it's been repeated by different factions on the right: You must tolerate our intolerance.

The way it goes is this: If you have a problem with the Klan, then YOU'RE the one who's intolerant. If you find the American Family Association's history of anti-Semitism unsavory, then YOU'RE intolerant of their intolerance. And if the homophobes at the Concerned (wo)Men of America and the Family Research Council make you sick, then you're intolerant of their homophobia.

You see, the way to show your civil rights stripes in George Bush's America is to embrace hate and show how diverse you really are.

Seig Hyatt! Read the rest of this post...

GOP Congress sells off America's national security to the United Arab Emirates

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
As Joe notes below, it only took Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist a matter of days to retract his criticism of Bush's plan to sell control over several key US ports to the United Arab Emirates. Frist was one of the most scathing in opposition to the plan to sell off US security to a middle eastern country with sketchy ties to terror. And now Frist is the first to cave to White House pressure.

And before I begin my tirade, let's not forget that Bush cut these guys a deal on security - they're NOT even having to provide the same standard guarantees that OTHER port operators in the US have to provide. Apparently, enabling the finances of the September 11 hijackers gets you special bennies with the Bush administration. Kind of like a coupon.

Not only do Republicans in Washington have no backbone whatsoever, they clearly have a pre September 11 mentality that simply does not enable them to understand the threats America faces in the new age. The Republican leadership in Washington, that controls the US Senate, the US House and the White House, believes that money comes before safety, that helping corporate interests is more important than keeping America safe.

Just look at Iraq. It's been one big corporate feeding frenzy from the beginning, and who has benefitted the most, Dick Cheney's energy company. And now that it's a choice between protecting America's ports from terrorists trying to sneak in nuclear bombs, a deal that even the US Department of Homeland Security objected to, George Bush steps in with his Republican congressional enablers and says there's suddenly no problem handing over the safety of our families, our children, our nation to a middle eastern country that had ties to, and financially enabled, the September 11 attacks.

Initially, it looked like the Republicans in Congress had finally found their spine. Rather than genuflect to the Bush White House as they've been doing the past five years, the Republicans who control the US House and the US Senate finally started acting like real Senators and real House members. They spoke up in opposition to the deal. They started to exercise a mind of their own, started to finally conduct oversight over the White House and the executive branch, started to question yet another of Bush's bizarre policies that undercut rather than enhance national security in an age of terror.

But with just a few days of White House pressure, the Republicans have now caved.

GOP Senator Bill Frist, who thinks he's going to be president after Bush's term is over, is now caving to big money, big oil, and big special Middle Eastern special interests. He'd rather line the pockets of the Emirates than protect the security of American citizens in the face of ongoing threats from Osama bin Laden.

If ever there was an issue that finally exposed the current Republican leadership for the shills they are, people who are simply out to funnel money to their friends, even when their friends have uncomfortably ties to the terrorists who attacked our country on September 11, George Bush and Bill Frist say to hell with our country, this is the issue that finally exposes how little the Republican leadership cares about Americans' safety and well-being.

Every American - Democrat, Republican and Independent - should be outraged at this betrayal of our national security during wartime. Our president, with the collusion of the Republican congressional leadership, is selling us out. If anything shows how badly the Republicans do not understand the lessons of September 11, this is it.

If you like what you're seeing. If you like that America is now selling control of its ports in New York, New Jersey, and beyond to a country that enabled the 9/11 terrorists, then vote this fall to continue the Republican control of Congress (and yes, the Republicans have the majority in the US Senate and the US House). But if you're an American who actually cares about your country, who is tired of the lies and the empty promises and the lectures about how you're just too stupid to understand that President Bush knows what's best, even when he seems to be getting worse by the day, then throw the bums out this November and vote Democratic.

It's time to stop these un-American traitors before their negligence, incompetence, and pandering to foreign interests leads to another September 11. If George Bush and Bill Frist aren't man enough to defend our country against the next 9/11, then we're going to need to force them to do their job by stopping this sale in its tracks, before we pay the ultimate price. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Talk Shows Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
What's the news from the talk shows?

Saw McCain on This Week. After Stephanopolous showed a clip of Hillary Clinton saying port security needed to be treated more like airport security -- meaning, among other things, no foreign ownership -- McCain led with an economic defense of the existing situation. Sounded like money trumped national security from the way he answered.

Think Progress has outspoken Iraq War supporter/defender Bill Kristol now saying we haven't had a serious effort there for three years. Huh? Then why do we have almost 2,300 dead soldiers?

What other outrages? Read the rest of this post...

US Chamber of Commerce gives DeLay award, endorses his re-election

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Because the US Chamber of Commerce truly has no scruples whatsoever. Read the rest of this post...

Frist now backs Bush deal to let UAE guard ports

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
You knew that the GOPers would bow to White House pressure and start supporting Bush on the UAE deal. It didn't take long for Frist to be one of the first to fall in line with the White House. It's what usually happens to that spineless, gutless GOP leader of the Senate:
Frist said Republicans trust the Bush administration and think its determination that the port deal doesn't threaten American security is "in all likelihood absolutely the right one."
This is one of those times that it's fun to see the GOPers in Congress cave to the White House. Let's hope that Republicans keep trusting Bush on this one. Bush cut a deal to let a country with ties to terror guard American ports. If the GOP thinks that's a winning issue, so be it. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Joe tells me the news has been slow. Read the rest of this post...

FOX's Sean Hannity fundraising for Rick Santorum

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Ah FOX. Fair and balanced fundraising. Read the rest of this post...

Is Katherine Harris lying or just an idiot?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Think Progress has the facts. You make the call. Read the rest of this post...

Bush Justice Dept. still wants Google records

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
This is the most intrusive government in the history of America. The Bush administration wants to know every detail of everyone's lives. Nothing is sacred, not even Google:
Google Inc.'s concerns that a Bush administration demand to examine millions of its users' Internet search requests would violate privacy rights are unwarranted, the Justice Department said Friday in a court filing.
There is no such thing as privacy when it comes to Bush and his cronies. If they're not eavesdropping on Americans, they want their Google records. If they're not trying to intrude on families making intensely personal decisions as in the Schiavo case, they are trying pack the Courts with anti-privacy judges.

The Justice Department says they won't invade anyone's privacy if they get Google's records. They claim to have the noble purpose of stopping child porn. Can you trust any of what they say? This administration is obsessed with other people's sex lives. And really, has anyone in the Bush administration ever told the truth? Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Evening Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Threading our way through a Saturday night. Hearing anything interesting? Doing anything fun? Read the rest of this post...

More Progress in Iraq -- Bush style

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
For the Bush team, stunned and thwarted are the new shock and awe:
American officials have been repeatedly stunned and frequently thwarted in the past three years by the extraordinary power of Muslim clerics over Iraqi society. But in the sectarian violence of the past few days, that power has taken an ominous turn, as rival hard-line Shiite clerical factions have pushed each other toward more militant and anti-American stances, Iraqi and Western officials say.
But he got that Saddam, didn't he. Read the rest of this post...

Does Virginia GOP Senator George Allen agree with John Warner that the Dubai port deal is a-okay?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
According to the NYT, Virginia Republican Senator John Warner is doing the dirty work for the Dubai ports, working behind the scenes to help them get a hold of our ports.
The action came after the Bush administration and leading members of Congress, including Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, quietly told the company that more time was needed to derail congressional action to block the deal.
I'm just wondering if Virginia GOP Senator George Allen, who is up for re-election and who wants to run for president in 3 years, agrees with Warner that we should sell out America's national security to the highest foreign bidder? Read the rest of this post...

Progress in Iraq -- Bush style

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
This one fact says so much:
The number of Iraqi army battalions judged by their American trainers to be capable of fighting insurgents without U.S. help has fallen from one to none since September, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
Read the rest of this post...

A week in the life of the Bush/Condi failed foreign policy agenda

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Banner week for the Secretary of State. Everything she touched --- on behalf of her hapless, clueless boss -- was a disaster. This shouldn't come as a surprise. Bush and Condi were in charge of national security when we faced the worst attack ever on American soil. They missed that despite all the warnings. Bush and Condi led us in to a war. They've screwed that up. I'm no foreign policy expert, but it's pretty clear that Bush and Condi are the architects of a failed -- and dangerous -- foreign policy:
It was probably Condoleezza Rice's unhappiest week as secretary of state, one so disappointing that it raises questions about the Bush administration's ability to shape Middle East events in the near term.

During her three days in the region, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian leaders — with Rice standing awkwardly at their side before the news media — refused to support the U.S. financial boycott of the militant group Hamas as it takes control of the Palestinian parliament.

In Iraq, sectarian violence threatened to turn into a civil war, setting back efforts by President Bush and Rice to construct a democratic government that would shine as an example for the entire area.

And a deal with the United Arab Emirates, one of America's few close Arab friends, to operate some terminals at six major U.S. ports unexpectedly ignited bipartisan anger in Congress and forced at least a delay of the transaction.
Thanks to Bush and Condi (and Cheney and Rummy and Wolfie...), the world is a much more scary place.

The sickest part is that those are the people who many Americans trusted to make them safer. They were so wrong. Read the rest of this post...

Off to a comedy club

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
But more pics from today in Amsterdam first.

Read the rest of this post...

AP picks up the story about that dirty little Ricky

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Ricky is getting some national attention. And don't forget that Santorum, who spends a lot of time obsessing about gay sex, is also the GOP's beacon of ethics in the Senate:
Sen. Rick Santorum's charity donated about 40 percent of the $1.25 million it spent during a four-year period, well below Better Business Bureau standards - paying out the rest for overhead, including several hundred thousand dollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll.

The charity, Operation Good Neighbor, is described on its Web site as an organization promoting "compassionate conservatism" by providing grants to small nonprofit groups, many of them religious.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance says charitable organizations should spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on program activities.

Operation Good Neighbor is based at the same address as Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum's campaign office in suburban Philadelphia, and some of the same people who have worked on his campaign are working for his charity and collecting money from it, records show.
He's in big trouble. Read the rest of this post...

Profile in spinelessness: Paul Bremer

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
One of the most disturbing aspects of the last few years under Bush has been the cowardice of people like Bremer, Colin Powell and Tony Blair who all have had countless opportunities to publicly speak out but have failed to do so. Bullies like Bush rely on this and this lot somehow think that it is respectful or somehow beneficial to just be quiet. Hardly. This is a crisis of democracy and these people deserve no credit at all for going along with the madness, the incompetence and the ignorance of the Bush team.

As an outsider, I did not get bombarded with the American media spin that went 24/7 after September 11 so when I visited the US afterwards, I would listen and then question the madness that I would hear. Even just questioning caused problems just about everywhere I went in the US. It has always bothered me to hear that people like these guys did not really buy into the Bush story, but were somehow playing along for the sake of unity. Bullshit. They are all cowards, plain and simple. They should all feel ashamed of themselves and quite frankly be embarssed to show their faces in public because they failed democracy.

Today's NY Times book review of Bremer's book is worth a read. Why he is only now admitting that the US was well under-manned in the field is a mystery but I suppose he was too interested in playing the game. Say-nothings stick around for the long haul and those who question are sent packing. Bush did not want to admit that more troops were needed because it did not fit with his campaign strategy and Bremer and others were only too happy to tow the line.
Bremer turned to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top American commander in Iraq, and asked him what he would do with two more divisions, as many as 40,000 more troops. General Sanchez did not hesitate to answer. "I'd control Baghdad," he said. Bremer then mentioned some other uses for the soldiers, like securing Iraq's borders and protecting its infrastructure, to which General Sanchez replied: "Got those spare troops handy, sir?"

Yet for most of the 14 months that Bremer oversaw the occupation, he and his aides, and General Sanchez and his, often seemed the only people in Iraq who refused to acknowledge the anarchy in the streets. Though confronted by the growing guerrilla insurgency and the brazen behavior of armed militias, Bremer and other senior American officials routinely batted down any suggestion that they needed more soldiers.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Off to the market. Read the rest of this post...

Pentagon report on Iraqi troops is not good

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Last September there was one Iraqi battalion capable of going it alone into battle. That alone was pretty sad news after all of the time, effort and money that had poured in to Iraq but now that number is zero. (Strangely enough, the Washington Post somehow gives this article the title of "US Report on Iraqi Troops is Mixed" as if going backwards is somehow "mixed.") This is even down from the previous number of three battalions. The booby prize is that the number of Iraqi battalions that can go into battle with US support has increased. So the US is nearly three years into this disaster and this is what they have to show for the effort? Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.

The other jewel in the report is that the insurgency is losing steam and should not even be called an insurgency. Uh huh, right. Those TV images of people marching in the streets with guns everywhere must not have really happened. That looked to me like a country that had a lawlessness problem. The insurgency may be changing to a civil war, so you can call it whatever you like, but there is an obvious problem that only the Pentagon and Bush can overlook. Read the rest of this post...

South Dakota extremists win vote in state house

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The American Taliban votes to ban all abortions in South Dakota. Who says American extremists can't be as nuts as foreign extremists?
Republican Gov. Mike Rounds said he was inclined to sign the bill, which would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman's life. The measure would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.(Bold added.)
Read the rest of this post...

Friday Night Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Threading towards the weekend. What's the latest? Read the rest of this post...

Where's the Washington Post article with the charge that Bush's foreign policy is based on "geopolitical fantasy"?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Earlier tonight, the Washington Post had a pretty blistering article on Bush's foreign policy speech today to the American Legion. There was no question from reading that piece that Bush really thinks things are going well with his foreign policy. And, it left no doubt that Bush's optimism is not widely shared. I started to write a post because I was struck by this passage:
Outlining what he called a "forward strategy for freedom," Bush painted a generally optimistic picture of events overseas that have led critics to charge that his foreign policy is built largely on geopolitical fantasy.(my emphasis, not the Post's)
I cut and pasted the paragraph above and started to write the post. But, when I went back to the Post to get the link, the article was gone. The link is now to another story that incorporates Bush's foreign policy speech today in to the Iraq debacle.

So, where's the "geopolitical fantasy" article that was critical of Bush? It was there at 8:30 p.m. But now, it's nowhere to be found. Can't find that term using the Post's search engine...and it doesn't show up on Google. I'm not making this up. I cut and pasted that paragraph from the Post..and now, it's gone. It's probably the most accurate line that has appeared in the Washington Post about Bush's foreign policy. The Post editorial board were ardent supporters of the Bush Iraq policy. So, I just think it's curious, to say the least. Read the rest of this post...

9/11 Commission Chair says UAE deal is mistake

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Not that Tom Kean would know anything about terrorism besides the fact that he co-chaired the 9/11 Commission:
Thomas Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the bipartisan probe of the Sept. 11 attacks, said the deal was a big mistake because of past connections between the 2001 hijackers and the UAE.

"It shouldn't have happened, it never should have happened," Kean said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

The quicker the Bush administration can get out of the deal, the better, he said. "There's no question that two of the 9/11 hijackers came from there and money was laundered through there," Kean said.
Do you think anyone in the White House read the 9/11 Commission Report? I'm just asking.

Almost surreal that Bush views UAE as his pals, but they laundered Al Qaeda money. It's good to be a friend of W. Read the rest of this post...

A little more Amsterdam blogging

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

You never get old of each incredibly unique building bordering the canals.

Ce-ci n'est pas un coffeeshop.

A better view of the Cafe Americain and its art deco grandeur. The poseur in front is none of than busblog's Tony who is the most fun of anyone I'd never imagined hanging out with. (True, I couldn't quite get down the super secret jive handshake when we said goodnight.)

"I see Dutch People."

A little girl in the Rembrandt museum with the unspellable name.

Windows and windows and windows and windows along a canal.

Just a lovely canal view to make you feel historically pathetic.

And another lovely canal view. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
The Week That Was 2/24/06

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

This week Republicans proved once again why they simply suck more than Dick Morris facing a pair of newly pedicured toes on national security. What do Iraq’s current eruption into Civil War and his plan—on hold—to turn port management over to some of Osama’s buddies in the UAE have in common? Namely that the same dolts are in charge who’ve been using candy cigarettes to “smoke” Osama out of his cave and think a PDB warning that “Bin Laden is Determined to Attack in the United States” should be archived alongside Bush bicycle mishaps and Ken Mehlman’s ABBA collection. You know, the Neocons, who know as much about national security as Mary Matalin does about not looking like you could pick her up under the Brooklyn Bridge for spare change. Let’s just say you know you’re fucking things up when putting Bernie Kerik in charge is starting to look good.

Face it: We’re all Brittany’s baby now.

Back to the situation in Iraq for a moment, if you’ll indulge me. Keith Olbermann— someone who actually thought up the novel idea of doing real reporting on his show each night about non-blonds not missing in Aruba—ends each broadcast by reciting the number of days since Colonel Klink put on a military suit for the first time since hiding from the Alabama Air National Guard and declaring “Mission Accomplished.” I think we’re somewhere around 1028 days or so. But hey, not all is lost. I mean Bush did get to pose for a photo-op next to a plastic turkey!

Since Bush’s premature declaration we have seen roadside explosions, pitched gun battles and violent assaults on unarmed civilians. And that was just when Dick Cheney went hunting in Samarra. The sad truth is that in addition to an increased number of U.S. troops killed, kidnappings of Westerners, attacks on journalists, a complete lack of security, and a degraded infrastructure, all we have to show for our efforts is a few people with purple fingers. And you can achieve that by simply spending a night with Jeff Gannon.

But of course the worst is yet to come. Sectarian violence has now led to the bombing of a holy Shiite shrine and reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques. At least 130 people have been killed. The Sunni bloc has suspended talks with the main Shiite alliance. In some countries they call this CIVIL WAR. Karl Rove probably calls it a consulting opportunity for those seeking office in Iraq. I mean just think of those weak-on-shrine-bombing attack ads he could put together.

Regardless, it makes you think that maybe all those voices in the military from General Zinni to General Clark may have had a clue what they were talking about when they said this war would lead to chaos and civil strife. Not to mention millions of other Americans who knew that Iraq and Afghanistan were different countries. One had terrorists that attacked us. The other had land that Richard Perle wanted to occupy (via cable modem).

Finally, what can we say about this whole UAE deal? It was sure a shock to find out the War President would let a company to manage American ports that is run by one of three countries to officially recognize the Taliban, whose banks laundered Al Qaeda money, whose capital is still considered an Al Qaeda hub where 11 of the 19 September 11th hijackers flew through to get to the United States and who sent some of its EMIRS TO VISIT BIN LADEN IN AFGHANISTAN before 9/11. But in Bush’s defense, his family does have financial ties to the ruling elite. I’m just surprised he hasn’t held hands with them at the ranch.

Yet, with Republicans in revolt, the deal is now on hold, at least until the UAE does something to push it over the top—like offer their best hookers for Neil. The ones missing their tongues for offering unsolicited opinions just aren’t in Neil's league. He’s been to Thailand.

So what are those wily Republicans going to do next, make Rick Santorum the point man on ethics? Oh, right. Read the rest of this post...

"The Smiths" singer Morrisey reportedly questioned by FBI

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
He says it's because he criticized Bush and Blair. Read the rest of this post...

IRS investigating religious organizations

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I still hope that a few get slapped hard to prevent the events of 2004 happening again but I am not holding my breath. I've had it with the American Taliban who want to mix religion and politics.
The vast majority of charities and churches followed the law, but the examinations found a "disturbing" amount of political intervention in the 2004 elections, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said.
Read the rest of this post...

Friday Squatter Blogging

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

No orchids on the traveling laptop, so we're squatter blogging this evening.

I took this photo tonight at a "squatter bar" in Amsterdam. What's a squatter bar? A bar that started by a bunch of squatters taking over some land, declaring it a bar, and well, I don't quite understand the rest, but there you have it. The bar has a restaurant as well, and it's apparently quite popular (you need reservations). The beers were good and cheap (organic beer only), and they didn't have Coke (too evil corporate, I suspect), but they had some great fruit-flavored sodas for 1 euro 20.

I did ask whether anyone had ever tried to squat in the squatter bar, but I'm not sure the joke went over real well.


PS No, I didn't get high - not really my thing - but people were. Read the rest of this post...

Another case where the White House leaked national security info. for political gains

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
That's the story Murray Waas has uncovered. Senator Rockefeller is making that claim in a letter to the White House (Think Progress has a pdf of the letter). Rockefeller points the finger at the Bush Administration officials for leaking national secrets to further their own political agenda :
Given the Administration’s continuing abuse of intelligence information for political purposes, its criticism of leaks is extraordinarily hypocritical. Preventing damage to intelligence sources and methods from media leaks will not be possible until the highest level of the Administration cease to disclose classified information on a selective basis for political purposes.
At the center of the controversy is Bob Woodward who, you will recall, did not think the Plame leak was a big deal even though we all belatedly learned he had a central role in that scandal. This all starts to make sense once you read the post on Murray Waas' blog,
Did the leaks to Woodward damage national security? Michael Scheuer, the CIA’s former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit, wrote in his book Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror:

“After reading Mr. Woodward’s Bush at War, it seems to me that the U.S. officials who either approved or participated in passing the information—in documents and via interviews—that is the heart of Mr. Woodward’s book gave an untold measure of aid and comfort to the enemy.”

What was not known by Scheuer at the time was that officials on the “seventh floor” of the CIA were literally ordered by then-CIA director George Tenet to co-operate with Woodward’s project because President Bush personally asked that it be done. More than one CIA official co-operated with Woodward against their best judgment, and only because they thought it was something the President had wanted done or ordered.

One former senior administration official explained to me: “This was something that the White House wanted done because they considered it good public relations. If there was real damage to national security—if there were leaks that possibly exposed sources and methods, it was not done in this instance for the public good or to expose Watergate type wrongdoing. This was done for presidential image-making and a commercial enterprise—Woodward’s book.”
What is sickeningly clear is that Bush and his team leak classified national security information -- thus endangering the nation -- for blatantly political reasons. That's so far beyond the pale it really is almost incomprehensible. But, they've done it time and time again.

National security is nothing but a political football for the Bush team. They use it to their advantage in any way possible. The reality is that Bush is a failure when it comes to making us safer. Read the rest of this post...

US Ambassador tells Iraqis to save their country

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
I'm sure the Iraqis appreciate being told to save their country by the ambassador of the country who destroyed their country:
The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, made his remarks as sectarian fury in the streets appeared to ebb after two days of reprisals over the bombing of a major Shiite mosque. The violence prompted the most powerful Sunni Arab political group to suspend talks with Shiite and Kurdish politicians on forming a new government. "What we've seen in the past two days, the attack has had a major impact here, getting everyone's attention that Iraq is in danger," Mr. Khalilzad said in a conference call with reporters.

The country's leaders, he added, "must come together, they must compromise with each other to bring the people of Iraq together and save this country."
Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Let's get it started...again.... Read the rest of this post...

London mayor suspended for Nazi comparison

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Ken Livingstone has been suspended for four weeks for an exchange last year with a Jewish reporter, comparing him to a Nazi camp guard. Livingstone's problem seemed to be his absolute failure to catch on to the mistake and move on. I really like certain aspects of Livingstone, his continuing fight against Blair for starters, but comments like this really have no place in public politics. Read the rest of this post...

NYT: US port security under Bush is already such a joke, Dubai can hardly make it worse

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Bush is telling us to trust him, he's got US port security under control and he's checked everything out and it's a go. So, just how good a record does Bush have verifying the security of US ports? According to the NYT article below, only 4 to 5 % of all containers coming into US ports are checked to see if, uh, they contain a frigging nuclear weapon.
In the political collision between the White House and Congress over the $6.8 billion deal that would give a Dubai company management of six American ports, most experts seem to agree on only one major point: The gaping holes in security at American ports have little to do with the nationality of who is running them....

The administration's core problem at the ports, most experts agree, is how long it has taken for the federal government to set and enforce new security standards ? and to provide the technology to look inside millions of containers that flow through them.

Only 4 percent or 5 percent of those containers are inspected. There is virtually no standard for how containers are sealed, or for certifying the identities of thousands of drivers who enter and leave the ports to pick them up. If a nuclear weapon is put inside a container ? the real fear here ? "it will probably happen when some truck driver is paid off to take a long lunch, before he even gets near a terminal," said Mr. Flynn, the ports security expert....

That is where concerns about Dubai come in. While the company in question has not been a focus of investigations, Dubai has been a way station for contraband, some of it nuclear. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear engineer, made Dubai his transshipment point for the equipment he sent to Libya and Iran because he could operate there without worrying about investigators....

That port, along with the five others Dubai Ports hopes to manage, are the last line of defense to stop a weapon from entering this country. But Mr. Seymour, head of the subsidiary now running the operations, says only one of the six ports whose fate is being debated so fiercely is equipped with a working radiation-detection system that every cargo container must pass through.
So what this issue really is about is whether George Bush is serious about stopping a nuclear weapon from being smuggled into the US by terrorists and blown up in a major American city (our bets are on NY or DC). That's the issue here, folks.

The Bush team couldn't save New Orleans, bumbled Iraq, let Osama go, can't even shoot straight, and now they want us to trust them regarding the nuclear threat when we already know they've dropped the ball regarding setting up a plan to effectively stop terrorist nukes from being snuck into the US through our ports. So instead of coming up with a real plan to protect our ports, they're putting the foxes in charge of the hen house - the very country that has helped spread nuclear weapons to unsavory countries.

So what exact part of this fiasco screams "trust me"? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Thread through the night...or til John wakes up in Amsterdam. Read the rest of this post...

Bush is "completely adamant" about the UAE deal

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
UPDATE 11:33 PM: What a coincidence. Rove goes on Fox to say the deal may be delayed and, lo and behold, the UAE government-owned company makes a "surprise announcement" that they want to delay the deal.

"Completely adamant." Your President is not backing down. He's right and he knows it, damn it:
A senior White House official said, however, that Mr. Bush was still adamant that he would veto any effort by Congress to overturn the deal, and insisted that the president would stand by his threat to veto any legislation intended to kill the deal.

"He's completely adamant about this," another of Mr. Bush's aides said. If a Dubai company is treated as less trustworthy than a British one, the aide said, "he thinks that the signal in the Mideast would be disastrous."
So, now we have the standard for what Bush thinks would be a disaster in the Mideast. Not the Iraq war. No, a disaster is denying a contract to oversee American ports by a foreign country with ties to terror. Bad business deal -- that's a disaster in his eyes. Country we invaded on the brink of civil war -- not so much. This whole episode clarifies once again why Bush is a disaster. Read the rest of this post...

Remember the Victory Plan?

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Today in Iraq:
As the country careened to the brink of civil war, Iraqi state television announced an unusual daytime curfew, ordering people off the streets Friday in Baghdad and the nearby flashpoint provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddin, where the shrine bombing took place.

Such a sweeping daytime curfew indicated the depth of fear within the government that the crisis could touch off a Sunni-Shiite civil war. "This is the first time that I have heard politicians say they are worried about the outbreak of civil war," Kurdish elder statesman Mahmoud Othman told The Associated Press.
It was less than three months ago, November 30, 2005, that team Bush gave us the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." That's when they told us their strategy was working. And they defined victory:
Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages

Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.
Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.
Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.
Not sure where civil war fits in to their "victory" plan. It's hard to find the words to convey how horrible this Administration is. He is the WORST PRESIDENT EVER. Read the rest of this post...

I really need to weigh in on this asshole Gordon England

View Comments | Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK
Joe, in a post below, quotes our illustrious Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England:
If the furor over the port deal should go on, Mr. England said, it would give enemies of the United States aid and comfort: "They want us to become distrustful, they want us to become paranoid and isolationist.
Now, my mom reads this blog. And I don't like gratuitous profanity because it's the easy way to evoke emotion when you don't have the right words. But Gordon England, you're a total asshole.

How fucking dare you invoke Osama and September 11 in order to get us to support an administration policy that is in fact CONTRARY to our national security interests? Just because Bush is in bed with the Middle Eastern oil producers we're supposed to roll over and play dead while you guys just give away that store to your petro-buddies?

How fucking dare you preach to us about being distrustful and paranoid?

You son of a bitches have raised distrust and fear to a high art. You have repeatedly violated the legitimate shock and horror Americans felt after September 11, abused our collective grief and pain and psychosis in order to push your own petty, personal political goals, and now that we catch you red handed, you have the balls to invoke September 11 again?

Gordon England, how fucking dare you, you un-American piece of shit.

You want to talk about giving aid and comfort to our enemies? How about your boss single handedly ripping the US Constitution to shreds, spying on American citizens, lying to the American public in order to get us to support his failed wars of convenience that have now so overstrapped our military we're unable to defend ourselves where and when it really matters?

How many World Trade Centers do you think Osama would have been more than willing to bomb in order to achieve all that? You people fucking handed Osama the dismantling of our entire democracy, and he didn't even need to fire another shot. And you lecture us about aiding and comforting the enemy?

How fucking dare you even have the nerve to speak to us about what's best for American ports when your God damn administration still hasn't secured container traffic coming into those very same American ports from abroad? What's the latest figure of the percentage of foreign containers shipped into the US that are actually screened (you know, for innocent little things like nukes)? Is it 5% max that gets searched, all the rest just go merrily on their way into our country containing God knows what?

And you have the nerve to lecture us about port safety and paranoia?

When the president of the United States is so out of touch that he goes on vacation for three days while a hurricane is wiping an entire American city off the map, you better believe I get paranoid.

When the president of the United States is so out of touch that he doesn't even know until the next day that his own vice president nearly killed a man, you better believe I get paranoid.

And when the president of the United States runs and hides for the entire day on September 11 while millions of us are forced to turn to Peter Jennings and Rudy Giuliani to be our presidents-by-proxy because George Bush is too much of a chicken shit to show his face for 12 fucking hours while we thought the world was ending, you better believe I get paranoid.

Gordon England. Go fuck yourself. Read the rest of this post...