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AP's John Solomon publishes ANOTHER misleading hit piece on Harry Reid

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Okay, this one is truly outrageous coming from anyone working for an "independent" news organization like AP. The Associated Press is a c3 non-profit - in my view, they are entering very interesting legal territory in terms of their non-political non-profit status.

AP's Solomon just published a story stating in the first sentence:
Reversing course, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's office acknowledged Wednesday night he misstated the ethics rules governing his acceptance of free boxing tickets and has decided to avoid taking such gifts in the future.
Any reader who speaks a lick of English is clearly going to understand Solomon's sentence as saying that Harry Reid claimed the Senate ethics rules said it was okay for him to accept the boxing tickets, and now Reid realizes the ethics rules say he cannot accept such tickets.

The problem? That's a flat out lie - Reid never said any such thing. Of course, in the way that only AP can do, they bury the "real" explanation of what they mean towards the end of the story so you'll walk away thinking something totally different than the truth.

Reid misstated the Senate ethics rules alright. He unintentionally painted the rules as MORE restrictive than they actually are. But you won't find that out until the end of the story.

In a nutshell, the ethics rules say a Senator can take something of value from a state agency (in this case, Reid accepted access to 3 boxing matches from a state of Nevada government agency - there weren't any "tickets"). Reid misspoke in saying that you had to be the Senator from the state in question to accept the "something of value." I.e., McCain of Arizona couldn't accept something from the state of Nevada, or so Reid thought. In fact, Reid today informs us that ANY Senator can accept something of value from ANY state's agency - i.e., it's okay for Arizona's John McCain to get boxing access from the state of the Nevada.

This isn't a small point. Harry Reid mistakenly claimed that the Senate ethics rules were MORE stringent in this area than they really are. And he wasn't refering to how the rules covered him - which is what AP claims - he was refering to how they covered John McCain. Harry Reid was absolutely correct in how he stated the Senate ethics rules' application to him, and he has not changed his position on that. The AP outright lied, or is one of the sloppiest publications on the planet, in their description of this issue in their lead (which is often the only thing people read).

To Reid's credit, he's said tonight that if it's going to create any appearance of impropriety, he'll pay for such boxing access in the future. And good for him. But for AP to paint this as though the Reid was wrong and the Senate ethics rules say he was wrong - and that's exactly what AP implies in its lead - is itself flat out wrong, and unethical, and frankly smacks of politics. And if the AP wants to have a partisan agenda, then they should change their tax status, or maybe someone should do it for them.

Here is the statement from Reid's office tonight about the issue:
"Senate ethics rules specifically permit any senator to accept something of valuefrom a state agency. Senator Reid misspoke when he said the rule applies only tosenators who represent the state agency. It was therefore entirely permissible forSenator Reid -- a Senator from Nevada -- to have attended a major Nevada sportingevent as a guest of Nevada officials. But in light of questions that have beenraised about the practice, Senator Reid will not accept these kinds of credentialsin the future in order to avoid even the faintest appearance of impropriety. Senator Reid will continue to fight for his federal boxing bill and otherlegislation that will benefit Nevada and the nation."
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Santorum is 23% behind Casey in PA Senate race

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Holy cow. Read the rest of this post...

Another reason we [heart] Atrios

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"The willingness to send others off to die for a misguided war because you wet your pants after 9/11 is called 'cowardice' not courage." - Atrios
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Former chair of the Kansas Republican party switches, becomes a Democrat

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Pretty "red" state to have this high level a defection. Anybody up on Kansas politics, like to tell us more about this?
The former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party jumped ship in a big way Tuesday, switching his affiliation to Democrat amid speculation that he would become Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' running mate.
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New Politics TV is Up. Today's topic: Haditha and more

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Check out today's broadcast here. Read the rest of this post...

Batwoman is a lesbian

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Not kidding. The new Batwoman in DC Comics is going to be gay. Falwell is going to have a fit. Read the rest of this post...

Republicans running for Alabama Supreme Court embrace Segregationist legal arguments, will ignore US Supreme Court if they don't like a decision

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Sure, why not? Screw the Supreme Court. Screw the Constitution. Screw the rule of law. It's only the entire basis of our system of governance in America. So what if it's now in vogue in Republican and religious right circles to renounce America's entire system of checks and balances, our entire system of government.

Feel-good Republicans don't do things because they're legal, they do 'em because they feel good. In fact, what these Republicans and the religious are proposing sounds an awful lot like sedition and a call to civil war.

And thus democracies perish. Read the rest of this post...

More errors found in Associated Press hatchet job story on Harry Reid

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Sucks to be you.

(Additional background here.) Read the rest of this post...

U.S. troops in Iraq kill pregnant woman racing to hospital to give birth

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It's over. Read the rest of this post...

Iran: How bad logic became bad policy

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NOTE FROM JOHN: AJ is our newest addition to AMERICAblog. He's a former Department of Defense intelligence officer whose duties included covering Iraq.

Since we talked Iraq last week, and Iran is back in vogue this week – apparently we're in the "Iran phase" of the immigrants-gays-Iran SCARY rotation – let's look at why the administration seems to be seriously entertaining the notion of some kind of armed conflict with Iran.

Administration policies and tactics regarding Iran are increasingly focused on brinkmanship, which they're happy with because, to them, it's both good policy and good politics. I think the Bush administration honestly believes that Iran's leadership is both irrational and expansionist – the Hitler analogies fly fast and furious on the religious and neocon right – and the only thing one can do with such people, the conservative talking point goes, is confront them. Concurrently, all this talk of war with Iran takes the focus off of Iraq and makes people believe there's another imminent boogeyman out there (The Scary!). And scaring the public, the administration believes, is always a good strategy for helping Republican electoral prospects this fall.

But the Bushies have a warped view of the international political implications of the Iran situation, which is leading to grievous political (and potentially military) missteps. One of the many mistakes they are making is one of the same critical errors they made with Iraq: forgetting that all politics is local. Iranian leaders will always be more focused on their own population than on their region or the U.S. - nationalistic rallying cries are beneficial to oppressive regimes. But, if they can get something that benefits them, some acceptable settlement, they will back off.

The Bush administration perspective, however, is that it's yucky to negotiate with Evildoers. Although I don't disagree with that general sentiment, sometimes talking to people you don't like is necessary to achieving greater interests. Shocking, I know.

The leaders of Iran are sending out all sorts of signals that they are interested in negotiating, but no nation, especially a prideful, honor-based one, can come forward hat in hand. International diplomacy is usually a subtle game, so it's hard for me to imagine how many discreet signals were sent before Iran resorted to rambling open letters and publicly revealing a slowdown in uranium enrichment to try to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table.

Iran is a genuine danger, both to regional stability and potentially to American interests. Even though Iran's religious leadership has said it doesn't want a nuclear arsenal, historically Iran isn't a particularly trustworthy nation. But the fact that this is a genuine international problem makes it even more important that skillful diplomacy – rather than ideological posturing and saber-rattling – be used, or at least attempted.

This kind of situation is where one hopes that smart, capable people can work something out - whether a secret deal, face-saving compromise, or whatever (good luck disaffected State Department careerists!). But for the True Believers, I imagine the idea of compromise with Iran is anathema, so it's up to the reality-based community to call bullshit when necessary... which is going to be often. Read the rest of this post...

NYT: Ned Lamont's challenge to Lieberman "should be taken seriously"

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I really think there's a danger of Lieberman bolting the Democratic party AFTER he's elected. It's just my gut, but I think Bush has already spoken to him about taking Rumsfeld's job at Defense. And Lieberman told him to wait until after the primary, or the election. Lieberman loses the primary or the general election, he takes the job. But what's even more troublesome is what happens if Lieberman wins the election, then takes the job anyway?

There has to be a reason Lieberman has been sucking up so badly to Bush over the war. To say, today, that the war is going well and still was a good idea, you'd have to be either insane or angling for something. And I don't think Lieberman is insane.

He should be forced to state categorically that he will never bolt the Democratic party and he will never accept a job offer from George Bush, or people shouldn't even give his candidacy the time of day.

Anyway, great NYT article on Lamont. Read the rest of this post...

GOP doing MORE tax cuts next week, worth $1 trillion over ten years

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Hey, what a better way to divert the nation's attention from war crimes than to cut taxes AGAIN and plunge us further into debt.

These "credit card Republicans" need to go. Read the rest of this post...

Scathing editorial on Santorum in the Pittsburgh paper

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Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore...
Read the rest of this post...

South Dakota abortion ban repeal now on ballot

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A funny thing is happening on the right wing's campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade using the South Dakota abortion ban. Led by the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the people of South Dakota are intervening. They have collected enough signatures to get a measure on the ballot to repeal the ban:
An abortion rights group Tuesday submitted more than twice the number of the signatures needed to hold a statewide vote in November on whether to repeal South Dakota's ban on abortion.

The Legislature earlier this year passed the strictest abortion law in the nation, banning all abortions except those necessary to save a woman's life. The law, scheduled to take effect July 1, makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The measure was aimed at sparking a court fight that supporters hope will lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion.
Great work. Now the campaign begins.

A couple months ago, I saw the sponsor of the SD ban, Roger Hunt, on CNN. He maintained that his law would overturn Roe. He's calculating that by the time the case got to the Supreme Court, there would be another new Bush appointee on the Court:
CROWLEY: Roger Hunt has always believed abortion is wrong. And South Dakota has a long history of antiabortion legislation. What gives this particular bill its juice is a reconstituted, more conservative U.S. Supreme Court, and one liberal member Justice John Paul Stevens about to celebrate his 86th birthday.

HUNT: So that means President Bush is probably going to have the opportunity in the next two to three years to appoint a third nominee to the United States Supreme Court..
These guys think long term. They have an agenda. Their agenda affects the privacy of all Americans, not just on choice. That's the tip of the iceberg.

SD can stop them in their tracks. Read the rest of this post...

Dissecting the Haditha cover-up

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The New York Times has a front page article about the cover-up of the Haditha massacre:
A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.

Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines' story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.

The investigation, which was led by Col. Gregory Watt, an Army officer in Baghdad, also raised questions about whether the marines followed established rules for identifying hostile threats when they assaulted houses near the site of a bomb attack, which killed a fellow marine.

The three-week inquiry was the first official investigation into an episode that was first uncovered by Time magazine in January and that American military officials now say appears to have been an unprovoked attack by the marines that killed 24 Iraqi civilians. The results of Colonel Watt's investigation, which began on Feb. 14, have not previously been disclosed.
They don't beat up John Murtha in the Times article. They actually get to one of the key aspects of the scandal: the cover-up.

And for all those who think Murtha is somehow "politicizing" this issue because he's not covering it up, check out this quote:
"This was a small number of Marines who fired directly on civilians and killed them," said Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican and former Marine who was briefed two weeks ago by Marine Corps officials. "This is going to be an ugly story."
Read the rest of this post...

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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Yesterday, Congressman Murtha did several interviews on CNN about the Haditha massacre. Both John and I were struck by the combative tone from Paula Zahn and, we hear, Anderson Cooper (both of whom we actually like, and have been quite fair on a number of issues in the past).

For some reason, both anchors seemed to adopt the GOP talking points to make Murtha the story all about Murtha's credibility. Murtha handled it very well, of course. The guy is a pro -- and he knows of what he speaks (and clearly has amazing sources). But how did CNN decide that Murtha was the controversy -- and not either the actual massacre or the massive cover-up?
As Murtha himself noted, repeatedly, we wouldn't even be talking about this story, and there would be no investigation, if Murtha hadn't been so outspoken about it.

Classic example of the media missing the story. They wanted a controversy about the messenger instead of exploring further what he was bringing them. And what he was bringing them were war crimes.

With that, what else is going on? Besides Katie's last day? Read the rest of this post...

Images of Mugabe's destruction now available

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Amnesty International has published satellite photos of Porta Farm, a poor community of 30,000 outside of Harare, which was removed from the map last year as part of Mugabe's effort to squash dissent and disperse strong pockets of opposition. Like Pol Pot, Mugabe engaged in a broad program to break apart urban areas and relocated citizens to the country where resources were already limited. The photos of the devastated area are shocking.

Just a few days ago, a high ranking member of the Mbeki team governing South Africa launched into an offensive on the West/rich countries, blaming them for overlooking the positives that the continent had to offer and then whined about the brain drain. (Hint: if the environment is there, people will stay and work. I have heard the same story in France for years.) I agree that all too often stories in the Western media are exaggerated but this new story is precisely why foreign investors are nervous about Africa. When the economic powerhouse of South Africa sits on its hands and does nothing when its neighbor is wiping communities off of the map, what do you expect?

Take a stand for mankind and against insanity and perhaps foreign perceptions will be different. Otherwise, just accept the results of the environment that you created. Read the rest of this post...

May has been bloodiest month for British troops in Iraq

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Remember when the British-controlled areas were the calm regions? Considering the movement of additional US troops into the country, Iraq appears to be going backwards. How will Blair spin the increased UK death toll? Read the rest of this post...

Did I mention September 11?

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It's hard work using dead people for political gain. Read the rest of this post...

Associated Press caught deleting line in news story, makes story more biased against Senator Reid

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UPDATE: It gets worse.

This is rather serious. The Associated Press ran a story yesterday (byline John Solomon) attacking Senator Harry Reid for accepting tickets to a boxing match in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada state government (something that appears totally fine under Senate ethics rules).

AP then comes under some rather severe criticism from bloggers, this blog included, because the article notes in its second paragraph that rather than doing the bidding of the Nevada boxing folks, Reid was in fact pushing legislation they didn't like - i.e., Reid was not in the pocket of the Nevada boxing folks.

Today, Josh Marshall discovered that AP appears to have edited its story and deleted the sentence that makes clear that Harry Reid was pushing legislation the Nevada boxing folks didn't like. I.e., AP just happened to delete the key line of their story that proves that Harry Reid isn't dishonest. And AP happens to delete this line from their story right after we all criticize them, using the line as proof that AP's story doesn't hold water.

This is what AP was saying yesterday about Harry Reid in the second paragraph of their story. Note that this version mentions that the legislation Reid was pushing was not favored by the boxing commission:

And here is what the AP story NOW says after someone edited it. Note that there's no longer any mention that Reid was at odds with the boxing commission over the legislation - i.e., he was his own man:

What you will find in the "edited" story is a mention of this "usurping" of state authority in the 30th paragraph. It was initially in the 2nd paragraph of the story. It comes as no surprise that in some versions of the "new" story, the 30th paragraph was cut out entirely by local papers trying to conserve space.

It is very difficult to believe that this was anything other than intentional on the part of the Associated Press. They appear to have changed a story - taken the most significant piece of information out of a story - in order to better smear a sitting US Senator. And before the AP says it was a simple mistaken edit, a number of the top blogs wrote about that very sentence yesterday, showing how that sentence proved the AP story was a hatchet job. Would AP now have us believe that they never heard of the criticism, and the sentence simply disappeared by accident?

The Associated Press and its reporter John Solomon need to issue an immediate correction along with a statement explaining why this key line of the story was deleted, and apologizing to Senator Reid. And if you don't think this is important, CNN and MSNBC already got the story wrong, and it appears they may have relied on the "new" AP story.

The Associated Press, under the byline of John Solomon, has an ever-growing history of smears against Democrats, including Ambassador Joe Wilson, Senator Dorgan, and Senator Reid. One of the adults at the AP needs to step in now and find out what the heck is going on. Read the rest of this post...

Nice to meet you. You killed my cousin.

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It was live on CNN, I saw it. Fresh from meeting President Bush at the White House, the new Iraqi ambassador went on CNN today and accused US troops of intentionally killing his cousin in Iraq without cause.

Let me try to explain how big a deal this is. This is the new Iraqi ambassador. Our stooge. He just met with Bush (our other stooge, but more in a Three Stooges kind of way). You just don't SAY things like this on CNN when you're the ambassador of a friendly country (especially a puppet country) and especially after you've just met the US president.

This is, as we say on AMERICAblog, rather huge. I think the Iraqi ambassador just Sister Souljah'd the US president to buttress the Iraqi government at home.

Here's the transcript from CNN.
BLITZER: But even months before the incident in November, you lost a cousin at Haditha in a separate battle involving United States Marines.

SUMAIDAIE: Well, that was not a battle at all. Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them.

His mother, his siblings were there. He led them into the bedroom of his father. And there he was shot.

BLITZER: Who shot him?

SUMAIDAIE: A member of the Marines.

BLITZER: Why did they shoot him?

SUMAIDAIE: Well, they said that they shot him in self-defense. I find that hard to believe because, A, he is not at all a violent -- I mean, I know the boy. He was [in] a second-year engineering course in the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work.

Totally unbelievable. And, in fact, they had no weapon in the house. They had one weapon which belonged to the school where his father was a headmaster. And it had no ammunition in it. And he led them into the room to show it to them.

BLITZER: So what you're suggesting, your cousin was killed in cold blood, is that what you're saying, by United States Marines?

SUMAIDAIE: I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe that he was killed unnecessarily. And unfortunately, the investigations that took place after that sort of took a different course and concluded that there was no unlawful killing.

I would like further investigation. I have, in fact, asked for the report of the last investigation, which was a criminal investigation, by the way.

[Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq] is aware of all the details, because he's kept on top of it. And it was he who rejected the conclusions of the first investigation. I have since asked formally for the report, but it's been nearly two months, and I have not received it.
(Hat tip to The Dan Report.) Read the rest of this post...

1,500 more US troops on their way to Iraq, Kabul is in anarchy, so what does Bush do? Calls a press conference about gay marriage.

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At some point, will someone please tell the Republicans the rest of us are dying out here. Read the rest of this post...

"Ashamed to be American"

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This is a comment that one of our readers wrote and posted earlier today. For all of you folks who don't understand blogs (msm, ahem) I did not write this, one of our readers wrote this and posted it in the comments earlier today:
I had a friend die on 9/11 in Tower One, and the son of another friend in the Pentagon (I live in Maryland). I was heartbroken and angry as hell at Osama. I felt more patriotic than usual -- and I am usually very patriotic (even if what we did to Native Americans always pissed me off). But now, unfortunately, Bush has ruined my feelings for this country. I'm ashamed. 9/11 has become a sort of bastardized event where the sadness I feel now is directed at how 9/11 has been used and abused. Osama wanted to destroy our infrastructure and Bush played right into his hands. I'm so angry. And why this man is not impeached just kills me. I believe America has been lost. It started under Reagan, and now it is complete. I have no more hope. I think 9/11 actually destroyed us. The problem is it really wasn't Osama that did it -- it was Bush, the media, and the scores of ignorant Americans that have forgotten what we stand for. I actually hate the America that now exists. Thanks, George.
Read the rest of this post...

Surprise! Officers reportedly not subjects of investigation of Iraqi civilian massacre, only enlisted men being investigated

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Yes, the Bush administration is again making the enlisted men the fall guys.
Pentagon investigations into the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians are focused on about a dozen enlisted Marines and do not target their commanding officers, the lawyer for one of the officers said Tuesday.
Forget about the fact that Rep. Murtha said this past weekend that there was definitely a cover up of this seeming war crime, a cover up that goes far beyond the men involved:
"This investigation should have been over two or three weeks after the incident."...

Murtha, a Marine veteran who six months ago called for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, added, "There's has to have been a cover-up. ... There's no question about it..."

"There's no question about what happened. ... The problem is: Who covered it up, why did they cover it up and why did it take so long?"
But funny, the DOD apparently isn't interested in investigating anybody above the grade of staff sargeant. After all, in the Bush administration, we don't hold bosses responsible for their mistakes, we simply blame their employees. And preferably the lowest employees on the totem pole.

Ah yes, one step closer to creating that banana republic military that Bush and Rummy and General Pace seem so fond of. Speaking of General Pace, how did he suddenly get out of this investigation? According to Murtha, the cover-up could go as high as Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So why aren't any officers at all being investigated, let alone Pace himself? Again, per Murtha quoted by ABC, a network that didn't censor the Murtha quote to protect Pace:
"It goes right up the chain of command right up to General Pace. ... Did he know about it? Did he cover it up? I'm sure he didn't, but we need to find out."
Yes we do need to find out, but we won't. Because General Pace and all of his officer flunkies won't be touched by this investigation - it's all the enlisted men's fault, per Bush and Pace, it always is. Bush and Pace would have us believe that if it weren't for those bad-apple enlisted men who supposedly also came up with Abu Ghraib all by themselves (even though the same practices were being done at other US military prisons around the world - coincidence, I'm sure) we wouldn't have all of these human rights abuses going on.

And in any case, we can't have an honest investigation of whether General Pace and any officers were involved. That simply is not the way the military works in a banana republic. If our military leaders were actually accountable to international law, we'd be a democracy and a shining beacon around the world. And we just couldn't have that.

What's a war crime between friends, eh General Pace? Read the rest of this post...

House holds hearing on how to keep FBI out of their offices

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The House Judiciary Committee had a hearing this morning about the raid on Jefferson's office:
Back on Capitol Hill, Sensenbrenner signaled that he would not be joining those who had softened their criticism of the raid and in fact planned two more hearings on the subject. He also suggested he might introduce legislation codifying any guidelines for such searches.

One hearing, Sensenbrenner said, would include Gonzales and Mueller.

"They didn't get it right this time," Sensenbrenner said during the first session, titled "Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?"
For the GOP, trampling the Constitution is only an issue when it directly affects them.

And, given all the corruption in the GOP, it's no wonder their leaders are worried about the FBI doing raids on Congressional offices. AMERICAblog put together this handy list for investigators of the sleaziest GOP members and their offices:
Roy Blunt: 217 Cannon or go right to the Majority Leader's Office right in the Capitol

Ken Calvert: 2201 Rayburn

Tom DeLay: 242 Cannon (Note to FBI:you only have until June 9th, he's resigning)

John Dolittle: 2410 Rayburn

Tom Feeney: 323 Cannon

Jerry Lewis: 2112 Rayburn and check out 2359 Rayburn which is the Appropriations Committee office, too. (He's the Chair.)

Gary Miller: 1037 Longworth

Bob Ney: 2438 Rayburn (get to him fast, everyone wants a piece of Ney these days)

Richard Pombo: 2411 Rayburn

Charles Taylor: 339 Cannon
Is it any wonder that the GOP leadership is apoplectic that the FBI may be cracking down on Congressional corruption.

UPDATE: Based on testimony in the Safavian corruption trial (by an aide of Bob Ney's who went to work for Abramoff), here are a couple more GOP members of Congress for the FBI to keep an eye on:
The aide, Neil Volz, who was a partner of Abramoff's at the time, also outlined how the Abramoff team received assistance from several Republican congressmen including, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio.
Read the rest of this post...

On the anniversary of "last throes," Bush sends more troops to quell Iraq. This is a VERY bad sign. Here's why...

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NOTE FROM JOHN: AJ is an ex military intelligence officer now writing on AMERICAblog about security issues. He has extensive experience on Iraq policy both here and in country.

CNN reports that 1,500 troops are being moved from Kuwait into Iraq's Anbar province, the Sunni stronghold in the west. WaPo and NYT put it at either 3,500, or a full brigade. (The discrepancy, I think, is that CNN is reporting the troops that have already moved; NYT and WaPo are reporting the total number in Kuwait that will eventually be deployed.)

This is a tremendously bad sign, and indicates that Anbar province, and likely the city of Ramadi in particular, are beyond out of control.

There is no indication that the move is in response to any particular increase in numbers of fighters from other parts of Iraq or neighboring countries, meaning that the surge in violence is home-grown. Although the insurgent learning curve has thus far been surprisingly gradual, they're getting better at their deadly craft and we don't appear to have an answer.

The articles also indicate a disturbing trend of Al Qa'ida recruitment successes among the indigenous Sunni population. As that occurs, huge swaths of western Iraq will become terrorist havens, camps, training areas, etc. If we can't control the cities, we're certainly not controlling the countryside.

In a particularly awful irony, exactly a year ago our Vice President declared that the insurgency was in its last throes. Unreal. Of course, when a government (or occupier) fails to provide any kind of security or basic services for the people, it shouldn't be surprising when they get pissed, lash out, and turn to anyone that can protect and serve them. Call it the Hamas model.

Most importantly, though, if the strategy being implemented with 130,000 troops isn't working, why would it work with 3,500 more? Deficient strategy. Deficient Secretary of Defense. Deficient presidency. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Go for it Read the rest of this post...

Republican tax bill raises taxes on Americans living abroad

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Now they don't just hate France, they hate Americans living in France.

So much for no new taxes.

I think I smell a campaign issue - the GOP voted to raise taxes, and Bush agreed.

Ah, like father like son. Read the rest of this post...

I'm all for the War on Terror. When does it start?

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Seems the folks at Firedoglake have stirred up a hornet's nest of freepers by suggesting there is no war on terror, nor should there be. I think they're both right and wrong, kind of.

First, there is no war on terror - anymore. There was a war on terror, for a few months or so in late 2001, and it went quite well, for the short while it lasted. As you'll recall, America got hit and we retaliated, smartly, by going after the folks enabling Al Qaeda, the Taliban. Things went well in Afghanistan (for a while), then things went horribly wrong.

Since that time, whether by intent or neglect, the actual war on terror has been missing in action. We invaded Iraq for all the wrong reasons - Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror. Lots of us knew that before Bush invaded. All of us know it now.

And at home, Bush has been systematically dismantling the very freedoms he keeps telling us that Osama hates and our soldiers are defending. Watering down the Bill of Rights, tearing up the Constitution, and ignoring the rule of law have nothing to do with the war on terror, unless you count Osama's very goals in that war.

Bush has been trying to sell our ports to countries that enabled the attacks on September 11. Containers coming in to our country still go unchecked (oops, there goes a nuke). And how about mail packages that travels on domestic airlines - last time I checked, lots of mail on planes wasn't being checked for bombs either, has that changed? FEMA still remains totally unpreprepared for another national disaster. We're not prepared for smallpox. Airline passengers still aren't screened against all the name on the terrorist watch list. Homeland Security money is doled out as pork. And on and on.

And after all that, Bush still hasn't learned his lesson. He talks tough against Iran, preparing the nation for another war, while Iran has nothing to do with the attacks on September 11 or Osama. Where is Osama bin Laden? Have we taken care of Al Qaeda? Have we taken care of ourselves?

Not a word from Bush.

There was a war on terror. But now, there is no war on terror. Bush's foreign and domestic policy, when he has a coherent one, is geared towards helping his corporate allies profit at the expense of regular Americans - not geared towards protecting the nation against terrorism or fighting any supposed war on terror. Iraq was about oil and avenging Bush's father. Iran is about oil and the neo-conservative fixation with rewriting the world. North Korea (a massive threat to the US, though not in the "terror" sense, rather in the "they can nuke us and they're crazy" sense) is... forgotten. And the depressing rollback of civil liberties and the rule of law at home are about establishing an imperial presidency in order to entrench conservativism in American government for decades.

What happened to the war on terror?

Here is where I differ with Firedoglake. The semantics of the phrase "war on terror" don't bother me as much as it does them, though clearly the phrase is used by Bush in a manner that would make the best propagandists from Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or Orwell's Oceania proud. (We are at war with Iraq, we have always been at war with Iraq (other than that time Rumsfeld, at the behest of Ronald Reagan, shook Saddam's hand), we will (sadly) always be at war with Iraq.) The problem isn't the war on terror, it's what Bush and his coterie of conservatives ideologues have done with the war on terror. They've taken a valid campaign, a valid battle, and twisted it beyond recognition in order to help push every agenda other than the actual war on terror itself.

Just as bad, to the degree you believe Bush has actually been trying to fight the real war on terror, it's still a wash because he's been so incompetent at it. Whether it's the invasion of Iraq (oops, wrong country, and worse, Bush turned Iraq into the very Al Qaeda playground he claimed he was trying to destroy), or the dismantling of civil liberties at home, which flies in the face of everything our country stands for (not to mention, it doesn't appear to have helped the "war" much either), George Bush is simply too incompetent of a man to effectively fight a war on terror.

Imagine during World War II, had America invaded Mexico instead of attacking Germany and Japan. Could we really claim the war on Mexico was a part of the war against the Axis when Mexico wasn't a member of the Axis, nor did it have anything to do with them? Sure, we'd THINK we were fighting alongside the Allies in World War II, but we wouldn't be really.

Just because Bush says we're fighting the war on terror doesn't make it so.

Whether by misdirection or incompetence, the president who ran and hid for 12 hours on September 11, has been running and hiding ever since. A real, competent president would take the war on terror to the actual enemy. Rather than just say it (repeatedly), he'd actually do it. A real president would recognize our freedoms as our strength, as the very thing we're fighting to protect, rather than marking our liberty as a part of the problem.

So, I'm all for the war on terror.

When does it start? Read the rest of this post...

Bush named new patsy for Treasury

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What kind of self-loathing fool is this guy who wants to take this job under Bush? Things must be going poorly for him at Goldman Sachs if he's ready to make a move like this. Read the rest of this post...

US sending more troops to Iraq

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Despite all the talk of "progress" in Iraq, the United States has actually increased the number of soldiers in that country:
The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

Although some soldiers from the 3,500-member brigade in Kuwait have moved into Iraq in recent months, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has decided to send in the remainder of the unit after consultations with Iraqi officials in recent days, the officials said.

The confirmation that the number of American forces in Iraq would grow came on a day of soaring violence in Baghdad.
Read the rest of this post...

John Snow is quitting...or getting canned...or something in between

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Does it really matter? CNN just reported that Henry Paulson who heads Goldman, Sachs is taking the job as Secretary of the Treasury. Bush will make the big announcement at 9:15 a.m.

UPDATE: Think Progress reports that Paulson not only acknowledges global warming exists, he endorsed the Kyoto protocol and believes that failing to address this problem actually undermines American competitiveness. Not quite the Bush Administration policy. Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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Let's get it started... Read the rest of this post...

Trouble continues in Paris suburbs

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When the riots stopped last year, I was quite sure that it was only a matter of time before problems re-started because no real actions were taken to address the serious problems of racism and lack of opportunity within the poor suburbs. It's hard to say if last nights clashes will expand but until the government gets serious about this problem it will not just go away. Read the rest of this post...

EU court knocks down airline passenger data law

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The US had been forcing airlines flying into the US from overseas to turn over passenger data which would then be screened. An EU court today has struck down that law because it claims that once in the hands of the US the data can not be protected. Too bad we don't have anyone in DC that is as interested in protecting individuals personal data. With the steady stream of data that is being lost or stolen, you might think that someone might take action, but obviously that's asking for too much. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Hitting the sack early for once. At least gonna try. Nite nite. Read the rest of this post...

Three more AP John Solomon articles faulted for taking pot-shots at Dems, leaving out key facts

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It seems AP's John Solomon has a history of writing anti-Democrat hit pieces that don't really hold water:

1. John Solomon's AP story about Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan leaves out key information. From Media Matters:
A November 29 Associated Press article by John Solomon and Sharon Theimer omitted a key claim by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) that could undermine allegations that he received a political contribution arranged by lobbyist Jack Abramoff "shortly after" writing a letter in support of a tribal school program that would benefit the American Indian tribes that Abramoff represented.
2. John Solomon's February AP story attacking Harry Reid was exposed as having unfairly slanted the story by not noting the not-insignificant fact that Harry Reid never took any action on behalf of the folks who AP claims bought him. This time from Josh Marshall:
In this case, despite the AP story's narrative of lobbyist contacts, there doesn't seem to be any evidence whatsoever that Reid ever took any action on behalf of Abramoff's Marianas clients. Wasn't that worth a mention?
3. After being shown to have written a sloppy story attacking Harry Reid (point 2 above), AP's John Solomon writes a third story again refusing to include key information favorable to Reid. More from Josh Marshall:
Nowhere in the new article can the AP writers bring themselves to note that Reid never adopted Abramoff's clients' position on the issue. So whatever quids Abramoff's folks were offering up, Reid never gave them a quo. From start to finish he was the co-sponsor of the bill Abramoff's clients wanted to defeat.

That's key information -- arguably, the central piece of information in the whole case. But the AP keeps pressing their misleading narrative while omitting this key point.

This is a good example of what happens when getting (or in this case, not losing the story) becomes more important than getting the story right.
And more from Media Matters about Solomon's second poorly-written hit piece on Harry Reid.

AP, is there something you'd like to tell us? Read the rest of this post...

More on John Solomon, the Associated Press writer who wrote the bogus hit piece on Harry Reid today

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You might recall that this isn't Mr. Solomon's first brush with truthiness. From AMERICAblog last July, 2005 we learn of John Solomon's untrue reporting about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson:
The Associated Press totally botched a rather significant part of the Rove-Plame story today.

Basically, AP is now supposedly quoting Wilson as saying his wife was NOT an undercover agent when Rove outed her. Here's what AP wrote today:
But at the same time, Wilson acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak's column first identified her. "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity," he said.
NO, AP, that's not what Wilson said - I watched the interview live. What he said was that the day Bob Novak outed his wife she ceased to be an undercover operative. Not that she wasn't an undercover operative on that day, but rather that she sure wasn't undercover anymore once Rove and Novak outed here. Big difference there.

At the very most, one can argue that Wilson's comments were confusing - that it wasn't clear which interpretation he meant. But AP simply quoting this as fact, that's simply factually wrong on its face. (It sounds to me like the GOP fed that quote to AP and no one thought twice about what it really meant - haven't you guys learned yet about trusting this administration on this stuff?) And you know that AP line is going to be used by the wingnuts to "prove" that Plame wasn't an undercover agent.

And as Atrios notes, Wilson can't come right out and say his wife was an undercover operative, because legally he probably can't. That's why he wasn't clear. But for AP to just presume that Wilson meant his wife wasn't undercover at the time, there is simply no basis in fact - that's a rather big screw-up.
Read the rest of this post...

Lay and Skilling testimony helped tip the balance

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The arrogance of power in action. I'm glad to hear that Lay and Skilling helped the jury decide that they were guilty.
Speaking shortly after a federal judge read their verdict, jurors said Lay's indignant outbursts while testifying in his own behalf made him seem "that he very much wanted to be in control -- he commanded the courtroom," said Wendy Vaughan, a Houston business owner.

As for Skilling, who spent days explaining the tedious financial inner workings of the once high-flying energy company, the jurors couldn't understand how he could know so much about that and not be aware of illegal business maneuvering, whether or not he was responsible for it personally.
And if you really want to be disgusted with Kenny-boy...
During the trial prosecutors had played tapes of conference calls to investors, which Lay and Skilling held several hours after they released quarterly earnings reports, as well as the tape of an employee meeting during which Lay encouraged his employees to buy more Enron stock, calling it "an incredible bargain." Government prosecutors revealed that Lay sold millions of dollars worth of Enron stock the same day.
Read the rest of this post...

Democratic Senator from Nevada attended Nevada event as guest of the state of Nevada along with Nevada constituents. Oh the humanity!

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What kind of world do we live in when the Senator from Nevada is the guest of the state of Nevada at a Nevada event with his Nevada constituents.

I mean, really now - what does ANY of that have to do with Nevada?

Yes, this is the big scoop of a story just breaking from the Associated Press. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) attended three boxing matches in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada Athletic Commission, the state agency that regulates boxing. Even though this appears on its face to be permitted under Senate ethics rules (it's okay to accept gifts from the federal, state, or local governments), the AP apparently thinks they pulled a "gotcha" on Harry Reid.

Perhaps my favorite part of the article:
Reid, D-Nev., took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
Wow, so you mean Harry Reid accepted tickets from a state agency that he had no intent on helping - an agency, in fact, that Reid was actually working to undercut (in the agency's view). Wow, hell of a conflict of, uh, conflict of, uh, well, it's not really a conflict of anything when you accept tickets from somebody for which you're doing the exact opposite of what they want. That's like "unbribery" - give me the money and I'll screw you over. If anything, this proves Reid's independence - it ain't a bribe when you take the tickets with no intent whatosever to help.

Now, one could argue, as AP does, that this case is different - you see, the state had an interest in legislation Reid was working on. Well newsflash, the state has an interest in EVERY piece of legislation a Senator works on. If that's the criteria for a Senator never being the guest of the state government, then he could accept NO gifts from the state government ever - and under the Senate ethics rules, Senators are specifically permitted to take gifts from state and local governments. So AP's argument just doesn't hold water.

And in any case, Reid went to a boxing match. He didn't accept a Caribbean vacation or gold ingots or millions in retirement benefits or direct millions to his buddies' businesses, he went to a bloody boxing match in his own state when boxing is one of the major industries of that state - hello, Vegas anybody?

Now, let's compare this story to the tale of Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham - since the AP is in the market to paint Reid as just as corrupt as all the Republicans.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) resigned from Congress... after tearfully confessing to evading taxes and conspiring to pocket $2.4 million in bribes, including a Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode....

Prosecutors said Cunningham, an eight-term House member, "demanded, sought and received" illicit payments in the form of cash, home payments, furnishings, cars and vacations from four co-conspirators, including two defense contractors, over the past five years.
Yes, one man accepted tickets to a boxing match from his own state government when boxing is one of the top state industries. The other man "demanded" $2.4 million in bribes. Oh yeah, awfully similar stories.

And finally, there's this little fact that I didn't even realize until someone pointed it out in the comments:
Take Harry Reid, for example. The leader of the Senate Democrats is so tough he took on the Mob -- drove the Mafia out of the Las Vegas casinos. They planted a bomb in his car, and he never flinched, never backed down.
Oh yeah, definitely sounds like the kind of guy you buy with a couple of boxing tickets.

Sounds to me like the Associated Press is trying to protect the Republicans by "proving" that the cultural of corruption in Washington isn't predominantly a Republican problem - even though it is. Read the rest of this post...

Afghanistan is erupting

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Afghanistan has "an insurgency" and we should expect more combat there according to Barbara Starr who is reporting from Kabul on CNN. Today's events don't instill much confidence:
Thousands of angry demonstrators rioted across the Afghan capital today after an American military truck crashed into a dozen cars on the north side of town, killing and wounding several people.

Gunfire rang out across the city as the police and army soldiers tried to control the violence while rioters rampaged through the streets burning and looting a dozen offices, cars and police posts. At least 14 people were dead and scores injured by the end of the day, hospital officials said.
Wasn't this supposed to be Bush's foreign policy success? He didn't finish the job in Afghanistan. No, he had to invade Iraq. Everything the guy has done is a disaster. Everything. Read the rest of this post...

Flip flopping Frist

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Frist was against the FBI's raid of Jefferson's hill office before he was for it. Frist is quite possibly the most craven pol around -- at least as craven as McCain. Read the rest of this post...

It's hard to cover the "good news" when you're dead

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2 CBS Crew Members Killed in Iraq Bombing

Then again, a truly unbiased media would have reported the story thusly:

"FOX News crew uninjured in Iraq attack." Read the rest of this post...

Major media still afraid to call it quits in Iraq

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From E&P. Read the rest of this post...

Blair is not just Bush's poodle

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He's also toeing the line for Rupert Murdoch as well. It's no wonder Murdoch has been so supportive of Blair. When Murdoch wanted to move into the Italian media market, he relied on Blair to fish around for information about the political ramifications of such a move. More than that, Blair also helped squash competition in the market in the finest tradition of the new right. It makes you wonder why Hillary and Murdoch are getting along so well.
Mr Blair has also recently been accused of blocking competition which would have affected Mr Murdoch's policy of cutting the cover price of his newspapers.
Read the rest of this post...

Ralph Reed work for Abramoff exposes his hypocrisy

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Ralph worked with Abramoff to prevent US worker safetly laws from being implemented in the Northern Marianas Islands. I never really understood the back story on this particular aspect of the Abramoff scandal. The Washington Post gives some insight today. It wasn't just corruption.

The Reed/Abramoff team claimed in 1999, importing Chinese workers was a way for them to become "exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ." I don't claim to know the bible the way Ralph does, but I don't remember anything about Jesus promoting the sex-tourism industry:
A year earlier, the Department of the Interior -- which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory -- presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.

It also alleged that the garment industry and other businesses set up facilities on the Northern Marianas to produce products labeled "Made in the USA," while importing workers from China and other Asian countries and paying them less than U.S. minimum wage under conditions not subject to federal safety standards.
Yes, that's what the boy wonder of the Christian Coalition was defending. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

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Memorial Day. Read the rest of this post...

Indonesia earthquake death toll almost 5000

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I can't even imagine how much worse it might have been if aid organizations were not already in the area, preparing for an eruption at Mt Merapi. Food and temporary housing are arriving though they are still in need of medical assistance. Read the rest of this post...

Just when you thought it was safe

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...more talk of Bush III. How much can America take of this family? I'm not interested in voting for any of the American royal families. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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This one is for the cumbaya chorus.

(If a joke is told to someone who won't get it because that's the joke, is it really not a joke at all, or is it an especially good one?) Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Many of you may know that Anderson Cooper is the official media mascot of AMERICAblog (well, he's actually neck and neck with Mo Dowd). Anyway, check out this video from World News Now in 1999, I believe. Read the rest of this post...

GOP Senate's top priority is passing constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and flag burning

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There's an election this November. The Republicans who currently control the US House and the US Senate think flag burning and gay marriage are the top two issues in America today. Check out your wallet, your gas tank, your health care plan, and the condition of your friends and relatives fighting in Iraq, then think real hard about whether gay marriage and flag burning are the top two issues on YOUR agenda.

Then vote. Read the rest of this post...

Like father, like son after all

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Despite all his very visible and obvious efforts to the contrary, W is his father's son:
Through his presidency, George W. Bush has worked hard to avoid repeating the mistakes of his father. He has done almost everything differently, yet now finds himself in the same hole despite trumping his dad by winning a second term.

He is roughly at the same place in the polls where the elder Bush was at the low point of his presidency, with only about three of every 10 Americans registering approval. Like his father before him, this president faces a rebellion among conservatives, an uncertain economic outlook and the prospect of Republican losses in November.
Read the rest of this post...

Pope asks why God let Holocaust happen

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Get a mirror. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Chat amongst yourselves. Read the rest of this post...

Murtha says Dept of Defense covered up potential US war crime in Iraq

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It's one thing to claim that this is one terrible incident that doesn't reflect who are troops really are. But it's another thing when, yet again, the military command is covering it up. And it's not the first time. There was the Tillman death - the family still can't get honest answers from DOD - Abu Ghraib, and more.

The culture of corruption in this administration doesn't stop at the Capitol steps.

More from AP.
The fallout from the killing of as many as two dozen Iraqi civilians by Marines could undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq more than the Abu Ghraib prison scandal did, a lawmaker who is a prominent war critic said Sunday.

The shootings last November at Haditha, a city in the Anbar province of western Iraq that has been plagued by insurgents, were covered up, said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.

"Who covered it up, why did they cover it up, why did they wait so long?" Murtha said on "This Week" on ABC. "We don't know how far it goes. It goes right up the chain of command."
Read the rest of this post...

Bush changing spin, not policy, on Iraq

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The media is still ruminating about what they viewed as the major admission from Bush this week that he shouldn't have said "bring it on" and "dead or alive." Russert actually called that "remarkable." Just because he apologized for saying a couple things, doesn't mean he's changed any policy. He's spinning the press again. Reuters seems to understand the difference:
President George W. Bush, beset by public doubts about his leadership, has opted for a more humble tone in discussing the Iraq war, including admitting mistakes, as a way to rebuild his credibility, analysts said on Friday.

Bush's shift in attitude during a Thursday news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair was an indication he understands the depth of public discontent with the war and the criticism that he is too stubborn to adjust his policies, they said.

Bush's change in tone did not signal a change in policies, however. He and Blair refused to set a timetable for withdrawing troops and Bush said conditions on the ground would dictate future decisions about troop levels and commitments in Iraq.
Somewhat different tone to appease the media. No change in policy. And most of the press fell for it.

Maureen Dowd understood this in her column yesterday (yes, it's hidden from the public at Times Select:
While it was nice to hear President Bush admit he had made mistakes, he was talking mostly about mistakes of tone. Saying he wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive" would have been O.K. if he had acted on it, rather than letting Osama go at Tora Bora and diverting the Army to Iraq.

At his news conference with a tired-looking Tony Blair, Mr. Bush seemed chastened by Iraq, at least. But he continued to have the same hallucination about how to get out: turning things over to the Iraqi security forces after achieving total victory over insurgents and terrorists.
Tone is not policy. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Morning Open Thread

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Kinda slow holiday weekend, but I imagine the talks shows will give us something to talk about. Looks like Iraq and immigration are the subjects of the day (although, not kidding, the Today Show just opened with the "news" of the Jolie/Pitt baby -- is that really the top story?):
FOX NEWS SUNDAY...: Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Staff Sgt. Alfred Lanier , head honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

THIS WEEK (ABC...: Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), musician Tony Orlando and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr .

FACE THE NATION (CBS...: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC...10:30 a.m.: Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), Kate O'Beirne of the National Review and Post columnists David S. Broder , David Ignatius and Eugene Robinson .

LATE EDITION (CNN), 11 a.m.: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa , Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih , Jordan's Prince Hassan bin Talal and Tim Russert of "Meet the Press."
Russert's got a new book out that he's peddling. Is it me or is Russert becoming a caricature of himself? Read the rest of this post...

Bush to block NSA lawsuits

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Screw democracy and rule of law. Let's just hide everything behind "national security" and a rubber stamp congress - Democrats included - that only gives a damn when they are being investigated. This latest move by the White House reminds me once again of what an absolutely pathetic job Democrats in congress did when they allowed Hayden to pass right through. Go ahead and let the WH run roughshod over the law and the American public but don't come looking for voter support in November when you let this happen. Where were the Democrats when we needed them? Read the rest of this post...

EU gives itself yet another year for constitution

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What the hell, why bother to consult with voters? Just keep trying to ram through a piece of crap that means everything to everyone, without listening to concerns of voters and maybe sooner or later they can find a way around democracy and just make it happen. The undemocratic supporters of this constitution somehow think that there are shared values throughout the region but I don't see them as clearly as they like to think. It was a mistake to just force, without proper consultation from voters, Eastern European countries and then plan to add in even more. It's a great idea in theory, but way too soon in practice, showing the Gallic adoration of theory over practice.

I'm all for the EU being a single political union but this was done too quickly and this sorry excuse for a constitution was more of a dream of the older generation than the younger generation. It looked to me like a last ditch effort of that older generation to make something happen before they all retired. The new generation of EU leadership should have taken a step back and re-thought what it was all about and how Europe has changed since WWII. Instead, they just towed the line for the retiring generation, forgetting who is going to have to live and work with the consequences. The problems of the dead EU constitution are all self-inflicted.

You might notice that none of the member state leaders who were pushing the constitution, actually offered to remove power from the country level (i.e. from themselves) and centralize it. No, they all preferred talking about the new EU and how great it would be but just how effective could a loose confederation be when power was still at the state level? They all wanted to talk, but nobody was really interested in giving up their local power. This process is in desperate need of fresh ideas and new leadership. This middle ground pleases no one and too many answers are still left unanswered. What we have on offer today is a waste of taxpayer money and it's going nowhere. Read the rest of this post...

Video of Russian police breaking up gay pride (warning, the CNN coverage is incredibly homophobic)

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Unfortunately, an otherwise good story is marred by some incredibly homophobic editing from CNN.

They took an otherwise serious story and injected as many pictures of drag queens and half naked guys as they could find - and the footage isn't even from Russia, so how is it relevant? The actual Russian pride gathering was incredibly conservative, judging by the footage CNN did show. That must be why they felt the need to include lots and lots and LOTS of additional footage from around the world of half-naked guys undulating and big big BIG drag queens.

Now, I love a good drag queen, and I also love a good guy. But this kind of "aren't the gays such cute freaks" kind of coverage is meant to shock, that's why they choose those images. And it's an anti-gay news bias that went by the wayside years ago. Other than FOX, no one pulls the drag queen half-naked-guy card when doing a serious report on gays anymore - and certainly when there didn't appear to be either drag queens or half naked guys in Moscow today anyway, so why inject them in the story at all (repeatedly, no less). It only serves to reinforce the very prejudices that led to the problems the story is covering.

CNN is better than this. Read the rest of this post...

Suu Kyi's house arrest to continue

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Damn. The thugs continue to rule Myanmar with an iron grip. Earlier in the week many were hoping that the house arrest would be lifted, but no luck, again. Read the rest of this post...

Pat Robertson story continues to get coverage

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Now remind me again if it is a sin to tell a lie? Pat was hoping to hawk his snake oil and instead seems to have been exposed. Oh dear.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says he has leg-pressed 2,000 pounds, but some say he'd be in a pretty tough spot if he tried.

The "700 Club" host's feat of strength is recounted on the Web site of his Christian Broadcasting Network, in a posting headlined "How Pat Robertson Leg Pressed 2,000 Pounds."

According to the CBN Web site, Robertson worked his way up to lifting a ton with the help of his physician, who is not named. The posting does not say when the lift occurred, but a CBN spokeswoman released photos to The Associated Press that she said showed Robertson lifting 2,000 pounds in 2003, when Robertson was 73. He is now 76....

This photo provided by the Christian Broadcasting Network shows religious broadcaster Pat Robertson leg pressing what is claimed to be 2,000 pounds at the fitness center at the Founders Inn on Regent University campus in Virginia Beach, Va., Feb. 1, 2003. A CBN spokesman claims the photo is from 2003 even though the date stamp on the photo says 8/1/1994.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Off to dinner. Read the rest of this post...

Intolerant Canada

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How sad. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd be writing something about Canada being an intolerant society.

You folks who helped elect this new Prime Minister, you're getting the same lesson in democracy that we got here in the states. You have no one to blame but yourselves for the government you chose to put in power. These conservative governments tell you what they're going to do, then you act surprised when they do it. They tell you quite clearly that they do not believe in tolerance, they do not believe in an open and free and liberal society. Then when they get elected and slowly destroy your freedoms, who you are as a country, you act surprised. Or worse, you don't act at all.

Canada's once pristine image as the much kinder and gentler America is quickly being destroyed by your own Prime Minister.

Congratulations, and welcome to the club.

I hope you find being hated around the world as lovely and helpful as we do. But don't worry, you can always just pretend you're American. Read the rest of this post...

Mass arrests, violence, injuries reported in Moscow

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Revolution? Chechen rebels? Terrorists?

No. Gay pride parade.

Our wonderful allies, the Russians - you remember them, George Bush saw Vladimir Putin's "soul" and it was good - well, that wonderfully free and Democratic Russia banned gay Russians from holding a pride parade. And the courts upheld the ban. Apparently gays are now as dangerous as Chechens in Moscow.

Well, the parade was today. And initial reports from gay journalist Rex Wockner are that there were mass arrests, violence and injuries. They sent 1,000 cops to meet the parade. 1,000 cops.

Then again, who are we to complain. Putin is simply following the anti-Democratic lead of his favorite buddy, George Bush.

I'm just so darn proud of the beacon of hope we've spread around the world.

Disgusting. Read the rest of this post...

Alberto Gonzales trying to invade more of your privacy online

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Imagine the Postal Service keeping a copy of every single letter you've ever written (for those of you who are older than 30, you'll appreciate what I mean).
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller on Friday urged telecommunications officials to record their customers' Internet activities, CNET has learned.

In a private meeting with industry representatives, Gonzales, Mueller and other senior members of the Justice Department said Internet service providers should retain subscriber information and network data for two years, according to two sources familiar with the discussion who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Yes, what we need is MORE tracking of everything you do online. And my favorite part of this, Gonzales is claiming it's to help fight child pornography.
Supporters of the idea say it will help prosecutions of child pornography because in many cases, logs are deleted during the routine course of business.... It was not immediately clear what Gonzales and Mueller meant by suggesting that network data be retained. One possibility is requiring Internet providers to record the Internet addresses their customers are temporarily assigned. A more extensive mandate would require companies to keep track of e-mail messages sent, Web pages visited and perhaps even instant-messaging correspondents.
I guess it's no longer kosher justifying the creation of a police state on the threat posed by Jews (though I hear Mexicans are still acceptable fodder). Read the rest of this post...

Open thread... and... who sent me that cats vs dogs list last summer?

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When I was cat-sitting last summer, someone emailed me a hysterical list of descriptions of cats vs dogs (it was like 30 different things, describing how a cat would react and a dog would react, or something like that). I was trying to find it the other day, I usually save things like that, and can't. And forget google, there are a bazillion bad cat jokes online. Anybody out there remember sending me this? Or anyone else know what I'm talking about?

Thanks, JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Iraqi athletes murdered in Baghdad for wearing shorts

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Yeah, much better place without Saddam. Read the rest of this post...

25 worst tech products

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It's a funny article for the weekend and brings back plenty of memories. No surprise that AOL is on top of this list. I still never know when I will succeed in sending a mail to friends who still use it because they block out mail from entire ISPs when they have spam problems. I understand the problem but everyone? Sheesh. Who do you think deserves to be on the list? Read the rest of this post...

"Especially cantankerous conservative" Sensenbrenner ready to battle White House over immigration

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The Republican immigrant bashers, led by Tex Sensenbrenner (described by the Washington Post as an "especially cantankerous conservative"), are girding for battle with their Republican counterparts led by Bush. This will be a very ugly and divisive intra-GOP battle. Tex even did a little Rove bashing at his press conference yesterday too:
The immigration issue threatened to cleave the Republican Party yesterday, as a key GOP House member chided President Bush's top political adviser and labeled a central element of the Senate's hard-fought immigration bill a "non-starter."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a prominent player in the approaching House-Senate negotiations over immigration legislation, told reporters that the two chambers are "180 degrees apart" and that compromise is possible only if the Senate jettisons some of its bill's most prized provisions. The Senate proposal to allow millions of illegal immigrants to pursue citizenship, he said, amounts to amnesty, and "amnesty is wrong, because amnesty rewards someone for illegal behavior."
Bush has no political capital. And, the hard core right wingers are relishing their chance to kick around Karl Rove. If this issue didn't affect the lives of 12 million immigrants and key segments of our economy, it would almost be fun to watch. Read the rest of this post...

Ney and Ralph Reed ties to Abramoff exposed in court

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The trial of David Safavian, the White House aide, is keeping Abramoff and his GOP cronies in the news:
The names of Rep. Bob Ney and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed spilled onto the public record in a federal criminal trial Friday, highlighting the peril politicians face in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

In the first case arising from the Abramoff influence-peddling probe, an FBI agent read out the names of the participants on a weeklong golf excursion to Scotland and London that Ney, R-Ohio, Reed and two of Ney's congressional staffers went on with Abramoff in August 2002.
They're all so dirty. Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Morning Open Thread

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Yeah, it's early...and it's the weekend...but we need to know what's going on. Read the rest of this post...

6.2 earthquake hits Indonesia

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It's been a tough time lately in Indonesia. The tsunami wasn't that long ago and more recently Mount Merapi has been acting up for weeks, threatening the lives of those nearby. Today an earthquake struck near Yogyakarta, with 450 people being reported as dead so far. Read the rest of this post...

Hate crimes in Germany on rise, just before World Cup

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But I wonder if it is just making more news now because the world spotlight will soon be on Germany. Europe in general has struggled and failed miserably with immigration and integration, not quite appreciating the reality that Europe has a substantial percentage of immigrants. Germany still has those creepy "blood laws" that often deny foreigners the ability to become German citizens and despite a substantial population of Turks and other foreigners (though I would not consider second and third generation Turks just Turkish any more), integration seems far off, it is no wonder there are problems. Read the rest of this post...

Judge says TIME must turn over some reporter documents to Libby defense team

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Interesting. Read the rest of this post...

Bush team drama: Gonzales threatened to quit

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A LITTLE ASIDE FROM JOHN: I think the Republicans in Congress just got Sista Souljah'd by Gonzales and the White house. "If those horribly corrupt congressmen make us give up our investigation of them, we're gonna quit because we're such a principled administration." And then watch Bush's approval ratings rise. Denny Hastert, you just got thrown to the wolves in order to save Bush.


There's trouble in paradise. Congress finally woke up to the abuse of power by the Bush administration. Course, they only woke up after it happened to them. But, Gonzales is not backing down. He is absolutely committed to the power grab. So much so that he was supposedly willing to quit if Bush backed down:
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senior officials and career prosecutors at the Justice Department told associates this week that they were prepared to quit if the White House directed them to relinquish evidence seized in a bitterly disputed search of a House member's office, government officials said Friday.

Mr. Gonzales was joined in raising the possibility of resignation by the deputy attorney general, Paul J. McNulty, the officials said. Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty told associates that they had an obligation to protect evidence in a criminal case and would be unwilling to carry out any White House order to return the material to Congress.
Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

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Paph lowii (type)

This probably isn't a Paph lowii, but rather something close (probably the child of a lowii crossed with another orchid). Anyway, these are the kind of plants that grow rather large (in terms of leaf spread), and they tend to like a good deal of bright light. It's a bit too large for my little apartment, and in any case, I don't really have the lighting for it. Still, imagine this thing on a stalk (spike) coming up a couple of feet high, and then having several of these flowers side by side like a flock of birds in flight. Amazing. Some day, I'm getting one.

Enjoy. Read the rest of this post...

Scientists ponder invisibility cloak

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Totally cool. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 5/26/06

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

Sometimes the beltway cognoscenti have their heads buried so far up their asses I’m not sure how they don’t wet their faces sipping their chardonnay. Much has been written about Chris “George W. Lincoln” Matthews or Even Bigger Russ and their faux-macho-lunch-pale love for the chest pounding of a president who’s now ready to admit that, well, smoking cigarettes next to penis piles at Abu Ghraib probably wasn’t such a good idea.

But were they the only myopic magistrates of political conventional wisdom in a town where incorrect narratives are more frozen in place than Elizabeth Dole’s face or wads of hundreds in a congressman's freezer.

This week we discuss Stuart Rothenberg, he of his self-named report, which predicts who will end up winning congressional races every two years. If he would just stick to being wrong about that, then I would have no beef with him. But Mr. Rothenberg decided to wade into the deep end of the pundit pool this past week, telling all of us “angry Democrats” why we are wrong for participating in the “unseemly” behavior of practicing democracy by supporting a primary challenger to Joe Lieberman. Rothenberg seems despondent that such treachery could indeed occur, as “His defeat, unlikely as it may be, would be a sad, sad chapter in American politics.”

First of all, get a room. Second of all, let’s help you with your analysis Stu, because shockingly you echo the talking points of the majority of the dimwit pundit parade who all breathlessly claim that the opposition to Joe Lieberman is all about his support for the War in Iraq.

Yes, that is certainly a large part of the story, and I know you can’t understand why people might question the judgment of someone who not only voted to support this travesty, but is delusional enough to still agree with the Bush Administration’s assessment that downtown Baghdad is beginning to look a bit like Greenwich Village. But you see Stu, if you think this is all about Iraq, well, you then you understand the situation much like George Bush understands fractions.

The fact of the matter is, that Joe Lieberman, a senator from one of the bluest states in the nation, spends most of his time playing hide the salami with Hannity, writing op-eds to the right-wing Wall Street Journal criticizing his own party and basically reinforcing whichever false stereotype of Democrats he can fit into a fifteen minute television appearance before the rouge starts to fade (the weak on security and values comments are always especially helpful).

Lieberman was the first Democrat, and one of the few, to engage in the histrionics about President Clinton’s downright awful behavior with that intern. President Bush’s trashing the constitution, however, well we best not question a president during wartime according to Joemania (I guess Al Qaeda’s bombing our embassies in Africa and our having troops in the former Yugoslavia doesn’t register on Joe’s “criticize” the president scale).

So he fucked Clinton and then kissed Bush.

You need more examples Stu? Samuel Alito, that crappy energy bill, the word Joementum, school vouchers, in the pocket of the pharmaceuticals, that ridiculous bankruptcy bill and his willingness to sit close enough to Bill Bennett to cause acute renal failure in any normal mammal.
Oh yeah, and his great position on abortion which you refer to—you might want talk to the women in Connecticut who he thinks should be carted off to remote hospitals post-rape, if the one they happen to be closest to doesn’t feel “comfortable” offering emergency contraceptives.

In short, Lieberman is the reason people like you go on CNN and say the Democrats don’t stand for anything. So go back to your day job treating elections with consequences as if they’re the next installment of American Idol. Read the rest of this post...

If it's good enough for Stalin

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Open thread

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Okay. Updates please. Read the rest of this post...

Iraq: Bush's Plan for Victory is really a Plan for Politics

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Thanks to John for the kind introduction and for the opportunity to add to the discourse on these issues. Thanks also to the AMERICAblog community for allowing me to be part of something special and valuable.

As John said, I'm a former Intelligence Officer with the Department of Defense, and I hope my entries on AMERICAblog will bring some insight into national security, intelligence, and foreign policy issues. A necessary disclaimer: None of my observations or analyses will be based on classified or non-public information, nor will they represent current or former positions of the U.S. government (which will be pretty clear, I imagine!).

So without further ado, let's talk Iraq.

Despite incessant rhetoric about the "Plan for Victory," and indefensible claims of improvement from his administration, Bush is quietly pursuing a "Plan for Politics" in Iraq by slowly but surely moving troops out of populated areas and into so-called superbases. These few huge bases, virtual mini-cities with tens of thousands of troops, are in isolated areas, meaning the troops have little ability (or responsibility) to affect daily life in Iraq.

This strategy clearly shows that the Administration has given up on true counter-insurgency tactics, which necessitate working with and among the people, and instead defaulted to focusing on preventing full-scale civil war and total governmental collapse. From the superbases, troops can deploy to stop major conflict, perform targeted strikes, and make large shows of force when necessary, but cannot regularly engage the population.

The mainstream media is not very good at explaining military strategy, and the shift to superbases was mostly covered as evidence that the U.S. isn't leaving anytime soon. While that is true, the shift is also a tacit admission from the Pentagon, if not Bush himself, that our objective has devolved from establishing a functional civil society to preventing large-scale sectarian battles in the streets. There are plenty of possible reasons for this -- the most likely, I think, being that the Pentagon realizes our nation-building efforts have failed and further needless casualties should be avoided, something the "shrill" among us have been saying for a while -- but the result will be more anarchy. Imagine, for example, if every police department in America decided they would only leave the station if there was a full-on gang war in the streets. Originally, American troops in Iraq were like the police, but now they’re more similar to our domestic National Guard units: primarily for emergency use. Nobody, however, is replacing the law enforcement mission.

This means that while civil society breaks down (crippled infrastructure, no electricity, oil production below pre-war levels, etc.), the overarching U.S. strategy is to avoid the kind of big eruptions that get media attention . . . in other words, trying to create an Iraq that American voters will ignore.

The shift may or may not be good strategy, but it would be nice if the Commander in Chief owned up to such a significant change so it could be recognized and evaluated. Assuming, of course, that he's even aware of it. Read the rest of this post...

Former DOD Intelligence Officer joins AMERICAblog

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I don't mean to take attention away from the fact that absolutely nothing is happening on Capitol Hill, but I have some good news to report on our end of the city.

Starting today, a good friend of mine, AJ, will be writing on AMERICAblog about defense issues, mostly Iraq and Iran.

AJ is a former Department of Defense civilian Intelligence Officer (yes, he was a spook). He is an Iraq expert who was decorated for his recent service in Iraq, and he is also an authority on Iran, democratization/nation-building, Middle East politics, intelligence, and national security matters. He is a consultant on these and other political subjects, and joins AMERICAblog to write about defense issues, and as he put it, to improve his karma.

AJ has incredible insight into what's going on in Iraq and Iran, and more generally about US defense issues since he's worked on the inside with some of our favorite people on those very issues. He's going to be a great addition to the blog. I hope you agree.

He'll be posting his first post shortly.

JOHN Read the rest of this post...

Gunshots fired, or not, on Capitol Hill

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UPDATE: Now they're saying two women came out of the gym inside the Rayburn building claiming there was a man with a gun in there.

I hate stories like this. I really have a feeling it's going to be yet another "oops, not story here" story. But we'll see. Press Conference at noon. Read the rest of this post...

Religious right using Mary Cheney's name for anti-gay fundraising

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One of the lead religious right groups, the Family Research Council, is attacking Mary Cheney by name in a fundraising letter, and accusing the openly-gay daughter of the vice president of "working to undercut the importance of marriage to our survival as a society."

Here's a bit more from the email solicitation they sent out yesterday (full solicitation is below):
We have our work cut out for us as you know. In the past few weeks, the media have been filled with appearances by Mary Cheney and others who are working to undercut the importance of marriage to our survival as a society.

The media have delighted in the fact that Vice President Cheney's daughter publicly opposes the very convictions that brought her father's political party into the White House.
Wow, using the vice president's daughter to fundraise. That takes guts. Or a total lack of brains.

Will Mary Cheney stand up to the religious right (just as she did to John Kerry and John Edwards) and defend her longtime partner Heather Poe? Will Vice President Dick Cheney, the president of the Senate, defend his daughter and tell the religious right to stop trying to make money by taking pot shots at his family? Or will Mary and Dick do what they usually do - sell out their family members for political gain?

Oh, it's going to be a nail biter over the next few weeks as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist prepares to force the Senate to vote, yet again, on an amendment to the US Constitution that would make Mary Cheney and Heather Poe nothing more than good friends.

It's all about Mary now.

(Click image below to see readable copy of religious right fundraising letter.)

Read the rest of this post...

Krugman. Brilliant. Again.

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In two paragraphs, he sums it all up:
Since 2000, we've seen what happens when people who aren't interested in the facts, who believe what they want to believe, sit in the White House. Osama bin Laden is still at large, Iraq is a mess, New Orleans is a wreck. And, of course, we've done nothing about global warming.

But can the sort of person who would act on global warming get elected? Are we — by which I mean both the public and the press — ready for political leaders who don't pander, who are willing to talk about complicated issues and call for responsible policies? That's a test of national character. I wonder whether we'll pass.
Read the rest of this post...

Oil rising again

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Remember when the trading was in the $40-$60 range? It is looking like oil has found a new range and won't drop dramatically any time soon. Asian trading moved up to $71.43 today. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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Last night, the media went gaga because they think Bush admitted a mistake. As if. The big admission: he shouldn't have said "bring it on" or "dead or alive." Wow. The president said he shouldn't have talked like he was in a drunken bar fight. The media, of course, is lapping it up. Russert just said that was "remarkable." Huh?

Bush still hasn't admitted any real mistakes. Bush didn't apologize for any of his actions -- like starting the war or lying to the American people or not providing enough support for our troops. When that happens, it will truly be "remarkable." Instead, he's played the media again. Perfectly. How pathetic are the media if they can still be played by George Bush?

Got that off my chest.

What else can we talk about? Read the rest of this post...

GOP House votes for Alaska drilling

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When in trouble, the GOP always has a few classics that they like to drag out to give the impression that they are doing something. A flag burning constitutional amendment really doesn't work right now and gay bashing just isn't delivering like it did in the past, so it must be time to roll out the ANWR drilling legislation and give it a try. So when this fails in the Senate, what's next or does the cycle start all over again? Read the rest of this post...

London police not happy about "repressing dissent"

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The incident earlier this week in Parliament Square when the Metropolitan Police arrested anti-war protestor Brian Haw has triggered outrage and embarrassment within the police. Parliament even went as far as to pass a law to get rid of Haw, the christian anti-war protestor. This week when the Met removed Haw, it required 78 cops at a staggering cost of �£7,800 (roughly $14,500). Not everyone was pleased with the actions and the results.
Members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, which oversees the Met, criticised its scale. One member, Damien Hockney, said it gave the impression that Britain was "suppressing dissent by people opposed to the Iraq war". Another member said it had brought the force into disrepute.
And that's where they're both correct. What an embarrassment for democracy. Read the rest of this post...