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Open thread & funniest comment in a very long time

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I mentioned that I was out buying gifts today for my return trip to the US tomorrow, and AMERICAblog reader Ferd posted the following comment suggesting what I might buy:
Get everybody a Marcel Marceau mime outfit. Wear your's on the plane, and periodically strike annoying bad mime poses -- walk "against the wind" to the lavatory. When you get home, make sure to use that nasal laugh like Maurice Chevalier for a few months.
Read the rest of this post...

Bush's agenda: Scaring up votes, literally

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Bush's latest speechifying seems to have been met with skepticism by the traditional media. The Chicago Tribune's article on the campaign kick-off today challenges Bush's assertion that this wasn't about politics:
Yet observers say the president's new offensive appears more precisely timed for the start of a fall election campaign in which the war in Iraq has become a pivotal issue in many congressional districts and Senate races and the Republican Party is struggling to maintain control of Congress.
Could it be that at least some reporters are tired of being duped by the White House? The Trib's article contains a pretty straight-forward analysis of how Bush is basically trying to frighten the American people for votes -- again:
John Mueller, a professor of political science and national security at Ohio State University who has studied the impact of casualties on public support for war, suggests that Bush is playing to his political strength with this new offensive but has passed the point of regaining support for the war in Iraq.

"It's his strongest suit, and terrifying people over terror can win votes for him and his party," Mueller said. "There is an election coming. Terrorism is his strongest suit. The standard thing in an election is to focus on your strongest suit."

Mueller cites the words of a 20th Century social critic, H.L. Mencken: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed."

Yet, "judging from polls," public support for the president's argument that the war in Iraq is the central front of the war on terror "is starting to wane," Mueller said. "I don't think they have any new arguments, so people may not pay much attention, because they've already heard this 400 times… What happens is, as people drop off, they tend to stay off."
Funny how Bush said yesterday his speeches weren't political, but everyone else seems to think that's they are. We've been in this war on terror for five years and mired in Iraq for over three years. Yet, only now, right before the elections, has it become "the ideological struggle of the 21st century." They must have spent a lot of time and money focusing group that one. Read the rest of this post...

47 more Iraqis dead today from "staying the course"

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And George Bush and the Republicans think this is what victory looks like. Read the rest of this post...

Bush ups number of US forces in Iraq by 13,000

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Things are going so well that we're moving EVEN MORE American troops into Iraq. We now have 140,000 men and women there. I guess success loves company. Read the rest of this post...

More feeble jobs numbers

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The new numbers like the old numbers from last month, not to mention what is due to come out at the end of the week, look really weak. Maybe it's too hard to hire people when all of the profits are finding their way into the hands of the lucky few at the top of the food chain. Once again we are looking at well under the 150K+ per month of new entrants into the market. And the GOP thinks the American public wants more of this? Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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What do we need to know? Read the rest of this post...

"Iraq for Sale": an exceptional new film

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Last night I was able to view "Iraq for Sale," the new film by Robert Greenwald (of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" and "Outfoxed" fame), and I was blown away. It is a riveting, powerful production that should be at the top of everyone’s list to see, and then buy for everyone you know, when it comes out next month. It is already getting richly-deserved buzz, both in corporate media and blogs, and you can view a trailer, order the DVD, and check out screenings at

The film is a searing indictment of how massive defense contractors are exploiting the war in Iraq for billions of dollars of profit at the expense of U.S. troops, Iraqi civilians, and American taxpayers. The damage these defense contracting companies do to the Iraq mission – and, more broadly, to American security – is stunning, and Iraq for Sale explains difficult and emotional issues in a measured way that will resonate with people regardless of their background knowledge or political beliefs.

Something news and political junkies occasionally forget is that not everybody reads five newspapers and a dozen blogs every day. People who closely follow the news know that there are huge problems with defense contractors, both with money and with their actions, but millions of Americans see the issue as just another partisan argument that doesn't really have that much impact. Iraq for Sale explodes this myth, revealing the extensive harm and exploitation these companies wreak. As such, it provides new and insightful information for experts, and even more importantly, a comprehensive but accessible outline of the deceit and exploitation that all Americans should be aware of.

When I was in Iraq, contractors were nearly universally reviled. Their intel people often had no idea what they were doing, and there was no discernable chain of command, so even when somebody was terrible, their nominal military overseers didn’t know how to correct the problem. The security people were cowboys, acting without consequence in service of murky ends. There is no oversight for contractors, no controlling legal authority, and no incentive for them to follow any rules. Alan Grayson, who the Wall Street Journal says "is waging a one-man war against contractor fraud in Iraq," explains in the film,
If you are a U.S. soldier and you hurt an Iraqi civilian and that becomes known, you will be court-martialed. But if you are a U.S. contractor and you kill an Iraqi civilian and that becomes known, you will be sent home. And then, you can come back the following week, and you can work for a different contractor.
There is certainly room for contractors in defense, and some of my friends and colleagues at the Pentagon were smart, hard-working contract employees, working within the structure and oversight of a normal office. Without that structure, bad things happen. Further, the companies themselves are predatory. Although some contractors act badly in Iraq, many go over honestly believing that they’ll be helping reconstruct the country, or protecting virtuous officials, and the movie shows how their companies betray that trust and hope. Some of the most compelling statements come from contractors themselves . . . or family members who now mourn their deaths.

Considering the material, I thought the film was remarkably understated. I give the production team a ton of credit for letting the content speak for itself, having the focus on people telling their stories, augmented and reinforced by an incisive collection of data and reporting. It is mercifully free of the kind of Michael Moore-esque political sledgehammer approach that can overwhelm the facts, and here the facts are devastating. In fact, some of the best commentary comes from conservatives, such as Ralph Peters (an uber-conservative writer for the New York Post) who says,
Conservatives, especially, who favor a free market system, should be outraged about the degenerate state – the lack of competition in defense industry. The American way is competition. And I cannot sufficiently stress that in defense industry, when it comes to the big programs, there's not competition. It's monopoly and cartel behavior. It is corrupt, it is corrupting, it is corrosive to national defense.
Iraq for Sale starts by providing background information, patiently unraveling strands that make up an incestuous and tangled system, and gains momentum as it goes. The narrative moves effortlessly between informative and accessible experts and the personal stories of troops, contractors, and their families, hitting emotional and intellectual points with equal power. Like an expert boxer, the film starts with seemingly small, unrelated blows, gathering strength in the middle rounds as the strikes start to accumulate. By the time you realize that the hits are converging, all part of a greater narrative, an overwhelming combination of punches is inevitable, and the final part of the movie is a knockout. I can't recommend Iraq for Sale highly enough, and I’m grateful to the patriots who made it. Read the rest of this post...

Keith Olbermann on Donald Rusmfeld and fascism

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Wow. Just watch it. Please. Read the rest of this post...

Bush, Cheney and Rummy are just making stuff up

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They've got no plan, they've got no agenda. So what's their strategy? Make stuff up:
Bush suggested last week that Democrats are promising voters to block additional money for continuing the war. Vice President Cheney this week said critics "claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone." And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, citing passivity toward Nazi Germany before World War II, said that "many have still not learned history's lessons" and "believe that somehow vicious extremists can be appeased."

Pressed to support these allegations, the White House yesterday could cite no major Democrat who has proposed cutting off funds or suggested that withdrawing from Iraq would persuade terrorists to leave Americans alone.
The fact that Bush and his team cannot support their allegations doesn't mean they won't keep making them. Interesting that the traditional media seems more on to their game this time. Read the rest of this post...

On the upcoming anniversary of Sept. 11, let's talk a walk down memory lane

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Courtesy of Wonkette:
While the president can hardly fall down without saying “September the 11th,” the truth is that Sept. 11 wasn’t all that great a day for an administration that was widely seen as a bunch of old Nixon-Reagan Era crooks who had managed to slither into the White House one last time.

With Bush on the run like a little girl, Cheney holed up in his bunker, Rumsfeld hiding in his office and the entire U.S. military curiously unable to halt the progress of a few hijacked passenger jets lazily looping over dozens of Air Force bases, Americans were so desperate for some kind of leadership that they turned to an opera-loving New York mayor with gay roommates.
Read the rest of this post...

GOP Senator Burns, with Laura Bush at his side, says cab drivers are terrorists

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Time to ask Laura Bush what she thinks about those terrorist taxi drivers:
Burns talked about the war on terrorism, saying a "faceless enemy" of terrorists "drive taxi cabs in the daytime and kill at night."
Read the rest of this post...

Bush gives "not political" speech at political rally

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Yesterday, Bush told reporters that his upcoming speeches on terrorism weren't political:
"They're not political speeches," Bush said Wednesday when asked if they might have an impact on the congressional elections just over two months away. "They're speeches about the future of this country, and they're speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation would become even more in jeopardy. These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn't politicize these issues that I'm going to talk about."
Yet, later that same day, Bush found himself at a political campaign rally giving his terror speech:
Thousands of Utahns cheered Wednesday night as President Bush arrived in Salt Lake City to deliver the first of a new series of speeches aimed at shoring up support for the Iraq war.

Air Force One touched down at 8:52 p.m., and Bush stood atop the stairway waving to supporters, estimated at 3,000 by the Secret Service. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. stood on the tarmac with his youngest daughter, Gracie Mei, 7, to greet the president along with Utah's congressional delegation, other officials and Sam Delis of Saratoga Springs, who was recognized for helping organize a clothing drive last year for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Bush thanked the throngs for "a fantastic Utah welcome," saying he wished first lady Laura Bush could have come. The president then launched into a preview of why he came to talk to the American Legion.

"These are challenging times, and I wish I could report to you that all is well. But there are still enemies who still want to hurt America," he said, referring to terrorists. "Our most important duty is to protect American people from further attack."
So, basically he lied...again. Bush is in campaign mode as is his entire cabinet. Rummy, Cheney and Condi are all giving the same kinds of political speeches. Imagine, just imagine, if this crowd put as much time thinking about ways to solve the Iraq crisis as they do in to politicizing Iraq. A lot fewer American soldiers would be dead. A lot more Iraqis would be alive. Read the rest of this post...

Why do I need an ad campaign to remind me about September 11?

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There's a new ad campaign meant to apparently remind us that September 11 happened and was a really bad thing.
Where were you when you heard about Sept. 11?

Kiara Bradley was driving a bus. Gary Robertson was on his farm in California. Fire Department Lt. Mickey Kross was at New York's Engine Company 16, before he went to the burning World Trade Center and survived the north tower's collapse.

A national ad campaign being launched on Thursday features the stories of people who remember where they were when they heard of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Hell, why stop there? Why not have ad campaigns targeted towards specific people? Judy Smith, where were you when you found out your child had leukemia? Joe Anderson, where were you when your wife was killed by a drunk driver? Let's have ad campaigns to remind all of us all the time about every single loved one who died tragically. And not a campaign to remind you of the loved one and how great they were - oh no - a campaign to remind you of the horrible moment of their horrible death. It's like memorializing your dead mother each year not by recollecting about how she used to bake those wonderful ginger cookies, but rather, making an annual ritual out of talking about how every bone in her body was smashed by a semi-truck. What a great way to remember mom.

What the hell is our obsession with remembering September 11? We remember it, ok. I don't need a TV commercial to remind me of that day or how I felt. I was there. It took me a long time to get over it. And I most certainly don't need my politicians, or anyone else, trying to drag me back to that day kicking and screaming several times a year as if I don't remember it, and as if it's somehow healthy to keep bringing it up.

Last year when I was in Paris I was out to dinner with friends at a really nice restaurant. Suddenly right behind me an entire tray of dishes went smashing to the floor. I jumped, like anyone would, but then I felt more. My head started to go a little numb and I started to feel boxed in by the booth I was sitting in. My friends continued jabbering away, but all I could think of was how the hell I was going to get out of that restaurant as quickly as possible. Well, I was boxed in by other diners, there was clearly no escape, so I broke into tears. I don't cry, it was very weird. And I immediately knew that I was having a September 11 flashback - no question at all.

I don't need anyone reminding me of September 11, thank you very much. In fact, as last summer's plate crashing episode reminded me, I could still use a little more forgetting about September 11.

Unfortunately we live in a country and a society where the dead aren't just eulogized, they're propagandized.

You want an ad campaign? Here's an ad campaign:

Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Flying back to DC tomorrow. Off to buy gifts for the friends. I was thinking something gelatinous. Read the rest of this post...

A legend in his own mind

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Who else could it be? Read the rest of this post...

General Casey gives optimistic view of Iraq months before US election

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Wow, like we haven't seen enough of this routine. Does Casey think that the American public is a bunch of idiots? Same, same and it's getting really old. Read the rest of this post...

Bush can't fight crime in America because we're fighting terrorists over there

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According to the Deputy Attorney General in the Bush Justice Department, we can't fight crime in the US, because we're fighting the "war on terror." In Bushspeak, the means Iraq where there really were no terrorists before we invaded. So, while our soldiers are dying over there, our citizens are dying over here:
"I'm well aware that there are many needs and desires on the part of law enforcement that we have not been able to serve well," McNulty said at the national crime summit organized by the Police Executive Research Forum.

He said the Justice Department was seeking more funds for its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives division to stem gun trafficking. But reclaiming money that was diverted from crime-fighting to anti-terror efforts may be difficult, he said.

"I wish I could stand here and say all that will be restored in the next year or two," McNulty said. "We are facing some big challenges. I see the challenges in fighting the war on terror. I see it is very expensive to fund soldiers overseas. At the same time, we have to find ways to get resources to win here at home."
If you get mugged or robbed or assaulted in America, blame the terrorists. It's their fault. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Have at it...there's never of a lack of material... Read the rest of this post...

Here we go again -- another series of speeches on Iraq, but still no plan

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Clearly, it's campaign season because Bush is planning a "series of speeches to counter opposition" instead of trying to solve the crisis in Iraq. To Bush, it's just a political problem, not a quagmire that's killing lots of people. Even the Associated Press seems to have caught on to his game plan:
It is the third time in less than a year that Bush has launched a public relations offensive to try to rally support for the war in Iraq and his effort to spread democracy in the Middle East. He did it in November and December 2005 and again in March on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Back then, the speeches were aimed at countering news reports of daily bombings in Iraq, where more than 2,300 U.S. troops had died. The death toll has risen to more than 2,630 and in July, about 3,500 Iraqis died violently - the highest monthly civilian toll since the war began.

The new addresses come two months before congressional elections and at a point when Bush's approval rate is at 33 percent in the August AP-Ipsos poll. His approval on handling of Iraq also was at 33 percent in the poll.
With those numbers in mind and the elections looming, Bush is just plain lying about the purpose of his little speech blitz:
"They are not political speeches," Bush said earlier Wednesday outside a restaurant in Little Rock, Ark., where he made his first campaign stop of the day. "They're speeches about the future of this country and they're speeches to make it clear that if we retreat before the job is done, this nation will become even more in jeopardy.
Sure, they are not political speeches. I'm sure there weren't any polls or focus groups conducted to find just the right language. How can the media not just laugh when he says something that ridiculous? Everything the man does is political.

It's all politics with the Bush crowd....they got no plan for Iraq, but they got speeches and campaign rhetoric. As my friend Nina from Austin always said, "Bush is all hat and no cattle." Read the rest of this post...

Dean on Olbermann Tonight - And Olbermann himself!

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Just saw Howard Dean on Keith Olbermann - he sounded like the in-their-face Howard Dean that was so attractive when he was running for President. He started swinging with "the whole government has sort of become ridiculous" didn't let up. He sounded "on message" and if that's the Fall message, it sounds good.
-- Rob in Baltimore

P.S. - Olbermann's closing was incredible. Incredible.

UPDATE: Here's the video and transcript of the Olbermann close tonight. Read the rest of this post...

The boys who continue to cry wolf and the 10 August arrests

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The article in the Times about details on the so-called UK terror case that is blocking out UK visitors is quite an interesting read and well worth a read. While on holiday this month I made it a point to avoid the news, email, phone, etc so when someone at a dinner party mentioned the 10 August arrests in London, I immediately dismissed it as yet another over-hyped warning that Bush and Blair have come to use all too often. Only hours before hearing about it, I remember seeing a headline at a newsstand about Labour having some sort of problems and thought that would probably mean something scary had to happen to help pick up the ratings.

After reading the Times article, once again I am fuming. I'm sick and tired of the fear campaigns for political purposes. Who could forget Tom Ridge doing his best to terrify the nation in the summer before the 2004 election with his so-called terror alert that wasn't really much of anything? Let's reflect on all of those over-hyped, let's scare-the-shit-out-of-everyone campaigns to keep everyone in line and drinking the Kool Aid, whether we are talking about lies about reasons for invading Iraq or the more recent insanely silly Miami arrests. As information on the 10 August arrests trickle out, it looks like US leaders have chosen, again, to opt for reckless fear and hysteria for political benefit. Read on and you decide.
Hours after the police arrested the 21 suspects, police and government officials in both countries said they had intended to carry out the deadliest terrorist attack since Sept. 11.

Later that day, Paul Stephenson, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, said the goal of the people suspected of plotting the attack was mass murder on an unimaginable scale. On the day of the arrests, some officials estimated that as many as 10 planes were to be blown up, possibly over American cities. Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, described the suspected plot as getting really quite close to the execution stage.
Hmmm, sounds like some pretty scary stuff.
But British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers.
Hmm, sounds like it's not quite as scary as Chertoff suggested.
...British investigators have still not determined whether there was a target date for the attacks or how many planes were to be involved. They say the estimate of 10 planes was speculative and exaggerated.
Despite the charges, officials said they were still unsure of one critical question: whether any of the suspects was technically capable of assembling and detonating liquid explosives while airborne.

A chemist involved in that part of the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was sworn to confidentiality, said HMTD, which can be prepared by combining hydrogen peroxide with other chemicals, in theory is dangerous, but whether the suspects ?had the brights to pull it off remains to be seen.?

While officials and experts familiar with the case say the investigation points to a serious and determined group of plotters, they add that questions about the immediacy and difficulty of the suspected bombing plot cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the public statements made at the time.

?In retrospect, said Michael A. Sheehan, the former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism in the New York Police Department, there may have been too much hyperventilating going on.

Over-hyping terror alerts for political purposes is one of the lowest forms of manipulation and only helps to weaken democracy in our countries. I've had it with the Soviet style, one party rule in the US that is all based on fear.

Read the rest of this post...

CREW says new Armitage allegation has no effect on Valerie Plame lawsuit

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From CREW which serves as counsel to Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson in their lawsuit against Cheney, Rove and Libby:
Despite all of the unfounded right-wing rhetoric, the allegation this week that Richard Armitage was the initial source who told both Bob Novak and Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA does not affect the lawsuit that Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson have brought against the White House officials responsible for leaking Ms. Wilson's identity as a covert CIA operative. That lawsuit is premised on the deliberate and unlawful actions of top White House officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, his former chief of staff I. Lewis Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove, to publicly discredit Mr. Wilson and retaliate against him for his public statements regarding the administration's justification for going to war against Iraq by deliberately disclosing to selected reporters the classified CIA identity of Ms. Wilson.

Mr. Armitage's conduct in no way alters the fact that Vice President Cheney, Mr. Libby, and Mr. Rove were engaged in a concerted effort to violate the rights of Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson that they should be held liable for their actions.
Read the rest of this post...

Apparently it's now illegal to fly in the US if you have any Arabic writing on your t-shirt

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Who needs Islamofascists when we can buy American? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Has GOP Senator George Allen offended any other races while I've been away? Read the rest of this post...

Donna Edwards for Congress, definitely

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The Washington Post endorsed Donna Edwards in her primary challenge to Al Wynn:
REP. ALBERT R. WYNN has represented Maryland's 4th Congressional District since 1993, and in that time he has never faced a serious challenger. This year, in Donna Edwards , he does. Ms. Edwards, a lawyer and foundation executive with a distinguished record of civic activism, is Mr. Wynn's opponent in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. Tough, articulate and knowledgeable, she is one of the smartest and most impressive newcomers in Maryland politics.
This gives Donna great momentum heading towards primary day. She is going to make a superb Member of Congress -- and will truly represent her constituents.

A win by Donna will keep the progressive momentum moving towards November.

If you want to give Donna some help, check out her website. Read the rest of this post...

State Department report shows massive corruption of senior Bush official

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And he just keeps getting more and more plush jobs. Why? Because George Bush and the Republicans are corrupt. They think the federal government coffers are their own personal bank accounts. And George Bush is so incompetent and arrogant that he refuses to ever hold anyone accountable for anything. Whether it's the largest military disaster in 100 years, or rampant corruption at the head of an agency, George Bush refuses to fix problems because that might suggest he made a mistake.

The Republican culture of corruption is our government. Read the rest of this post...

Cheney tried to use CIA in 2004 to mislead the American public about Iraq

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I'm just finishing up Ron Suskind's excellent book, "The One Percent Doctrine." It contains lots of infuriating scoops, including the following on pp. 340-341:
"In mid November 2004, a few weeks after the President's reelection... Cheney wanted a portion of a particular CIA report declassified and made public. [CIA analytical chief Jami] Miscik knew the report - it was about the complex, often catalytic connections between the war in Iraq and the wider war against terrorism. The item the Vice President wanted declassified was a small part that might lead one to believe that the war was helping the broader campaign against violent Jihadists. The report, she knew, concluded nothing of the sort. To release that small segment would be willfully misleading. She told the briefer to tell Cheney that she didn't think that was such a good idea. The Vice President expressed his outrage to Porter Goss."
Porter Goss then had one of his deputies call the analyst and tell her "Saying no to the Vice President is the wrong answer."

So many things at work here. First, Cheney is caught red handed trying to falsely link Iraq to the larger war on terror (something he'd done repeatedly). And second, when he gets caught doing it, Cheney still pushes ahead.

At what point will Dick Cheney be held responsible for intentionally misleading the American public about the war in Iraq and the overall war on terror? Is this nothing more than a propaganda war to the Bush White House? Read the rest of this post...

Embattled GOP Senator George Allen tied to white supremacist hate group

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Max Blumenthal at the Nation has the story
Descended from the White Citizens' Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South, the CCC is designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In its "Statement of Principles," the CCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
Read the rest of this post...

Good morning open thread

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Or good "just getting home really late stone drunk" open thread on the west coast. Read the rest of this post...

ATT the latest to reveal personal data theft

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It's only "less than 19,000" so it's really not a big deal. When you add it to the previous list of 80,000,000 in the past 18 months, it just looks so small so why don't we all just forget about these stories and pretend like everything is OK? Hell, that still means a few hundred million Americans have not yet been touched by this so everything must be alright. Read the rest of this post...

A new day and yet another stock option probe

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So is anyone ready to get serious about building confidence in Wall Street or would everyone just prefer acting like there's nothing wrong?
The company said the results were preliminary because it has begun a voluntary review of its historical stock-option grant practices, which could lead to adjustments in its accounting.

Novell said its audit committee launched the investigation in the light of news about irregularities in the way that dozens of other companies accounted for stock options grants.

Read the rest of this post...

Kill 3,000 people, win a new computer

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Damn, I was hoping to win the Jeffrey Dahmer iPod. Read the rest of this post...

Katrina's Emotional Scars

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We're seeing the pictures on TV reminding us of the physical devastation caused by Katrina. Let's also remember the less visible emotional scars. From USA Today:
A year after Hurricane Katrina scoured the Gulf Coast, the storm still rages in the minds of survivors, who now suffer twice as much severe mental illness as existed in the region before landfall, researchers reported Monday.

Katrina forced 500,000 people to evacuate and carved its initials in a swath of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The first major attempt to probe survivors' mental status found that about 15% of residents of the counties and parishes struck by the storm, or 200,000 people, have depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of mental illness, twice as many as before.
Read the rest of this post...

Katrina Anniversary open thread

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A year ago, Hurricane Katrina was devastating the Gulf Coast. Our government failed to meet its most vital mandate: to provide for the welfare of its people.

Today, the long-term survival of New Orleans, one of America's great cities, is in serious doubt. If it does survive, it will be because of hard working locals, committed charities, and instances of individual courage and effort, and in spite of -- rather than thanks to -- our federal government.

One despairs . . . but one also remembers. Read the rest of this post...

Frist may have lied to continue reign as Video Doctor

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Oh what they'll do to keep that prestigious "MD" outside the Senate office door.
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged Tuesday that he may not have met all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active — even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had.

The state of Tennessee requires its licensed physicians to complete 40 hours of continuing medical education every two years. Frist, a heart-lung surgeon who is considering a 2008 presidential run, submitted a license renewal with the Tennessee Health Department stating he has fulfilled that requirement.
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Bombings in Turkey will add to difficulties in Iraq

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Two consecutive days of deadly bombings in Turkey are a tragedy for a nation that is desperately trying to be accepted into the Western world. Turkey is fighting institutional racism and economic protectionism in its attempt to join the EU, and it has been a vital U.S. ally for decades -- a NATO member since 1952 and a crucial partner during the Cold War. Its geography has huge strategic importance, including shared borders with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Greece, and Bulgaria, as well as control of the straits that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, through which Russian oil passes. Turkey has a modern democracy, economy, and culture, and demonstrates that an overwhelmingly Muslim state can embrace liberalism. It has its flaws, of course, but it really is a great (and very beautiful) country and a solid ally.

It also has a problem, though, with its restive Kurdish minority, which mostly resides in the East, near the border with Iran, Iraq, and Syria. There are roughly 15 million Kurds in Turkey, representing about 20% of its population and over 50% of all Kurds in the Middle East. Many Kurds in Turkey, like their brethren in Iraq, want their own state, and Kurdish militant organizations have attacked both military and civilian targets in the past. In particular, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as Kongra-Gel), is a terrorist group committed to establishing a Kurdish state that would include territory from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and has terrorized Turkey for years in pursuit of this goal. The PKK isn't especially popular among most Kurds, but even with relatively few members, it's a brutal and deadly bunch of thugs. It's a good bet that they're behind these latest bombings as well.

Turkey is convinced, and probably not wrongly, that the PKK is using northern Iraq as a base for terrorist operations, which have increased since the war began. While Kurds are sensitive to Turkish influence in the north, and also in Baghdad, it's unlikely that they'll seriously crack down on the PKK in the near future. This is Turkey's number one international priority, and Turkish officials are constantly pressing Iraqis on it, including just over a week ago when Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (pronounced "Erdowan") met with Iraqi Deputy President Hashimi.
Erdogan and Hashimi also discussed presence of PKK in the north of Iraq. Hashimi said that Iraq will not allow acts that will cause uneasiness in Turkey regarding this issue. Hashimi committed to exert every type of effort to prevent such acts. Regarding Kirkuk issue, Erdogan said, "Kirkuk should have a special status. This is important for Iraq's unity."
Turkey understands that Kurdish territory has to be given special status so Kurds won't (immediately) move towards an independent state, which would create huge problems for Turkey in terms of politics and security. These latest bombings, however, will force a Turkish response that is likely to extend into northern Iraq. There are already many reports that Turkey is operating in Kurdistan, and any augmentation of that effort will worsen an already-sensitive situation in Kurdistan.

I know this is slightly below the first-tier attention (and interest) of many observers, but these kinds of under-the-radar developments have a huge impact in the daily events in Iraq, and this is another worrisome sign. Read the rest of this post...

Donald Rumsfeld and Pedophilia

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Donald Rumsfeld, our Secretary of Defense who oversaw the worst US military defeat in 100 years, and personally sentenced nearly 3,000 US soldiers to death in a war based on a lie, is now just making stuff up rather than addressing the real problem America faces in Iraq.

According to Rumsfeld, the problem in Iraq isn't that we're losing. It's that "some" unnamed Americans (who don't exist) want our country to "appease" the terrorist in an effort to make them like us, so they'll bring us lemonade, or something.

Of course, Rumsfeld has entered crazy land here, just like Dick Cheney did yesterday. No one I can think of has ever talked about the need to appease the terrorists. But in George Bush's America, when you kill 3,000 US troops for a big mistake and then aren't man enough to admit it, you have to come up with something to sleep at night - or to win re-election. So the Republicans are now trying to create an enemy within our own ranks that is to blame for their own loss in Iraq.

The big question is whether the media will have the balls to demand Rumsfeld and Cheney list, with quotes, the major American politicians who have called for us to "appease the terrorists." And if they can't, they should resign. Read the rest of this post...

Noon open thread

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Chris and I had breakfast with Cyrille, the French blogger who runs Bonjour America! (you may recall I posted one of his videos yesterday, explaining French cheese to Americans).

Anyway, he posted a comment on the blog, I sent him an email, and this morning we were sharing croissants and strong coffee at a corner cafe. He's a very interesting guy - comedian, of course - but has an excellent marketing mind (I'd almost say political mind). And the accent is for real. He put me in touch with some other French political bloggers, which is great, since I've been wanting to establish more ties with other bloggie types around the world.

Oh, and he really wants to meet Jon Stewart, who he watches religiously over here (uh, legally I'm sure), and Clint Eastwood (seriously). So if anybody can help... Read the rest of this post...

Gonzales in Iraq to promote rule of law

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And to think that some find the administration arrogant, clueless and hypocritical. Maybe one of these days the rule of law might once again return to the US.
Gonzales told reporters after the meeting with Saleh that his visit was aimed at providing "what we can ... to help promote the rule of law and also help promote security in this country."

He reiterated the "commitment of the United States government and helping you with the dreams of your government."

Gonzales planned to meet with Justice Department officials working in Iraq before he returned to Washington.

The attorney general has been criticized for his position on the treatment of non-American prisoners held outside the United States.

Read the rest of this post...

Dear Media, ask Dick Cheney WHO suggested we should appease the terrorists?

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I'd like to know who Dick Cheney was talking about when he said yesterday that "some" Americans say we should appease the terrorists so they don't hit us again. I've never heard any American suggest any such thing, and certainly no Democrat. (Was Cheney talking about a Republican, perhaps even someone in the White House?)

So please, dear media, just like you pestered John Kerry incessantly about who those supposed "world leaders" were who didn't want Bush to win re-election, please demand that the vice president name names and provide us with quotes. The American people deserve to know who among us has outright said that we should "appease the terrorists" in the hope that if we make them happy they won't hit us again.

Because if he can't prove what he's saying, then that means Dick Cheney is lying to the American people about the war on terror in an effort to sway the election. And that, if true, is big news and a serious offense. Read the rest of this post...

Rumsfeld now says US troops DIDN'T kill civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan

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I thought about not posting such graphic photos on the blog, but since we know now, via Rumsfeld, that none of these photos are of real dead people or real US troops, I guess it's okay.

You see, you've heard about the death at the hands of US troops in Haditha, at Abu Ghraib, the guy the US troops ran over in Afghanistan, but it's all a lie. And an al Qaeda lie at that. And America's media has bought into it 100%, being the terrorist sympathizers that they are.

Here Rumsfeld outright lies
about the findings made by his very own Defense Department:
"What bothers me the most is how clever the enemy is," he continued, launching an extensive broadside at Islamic extremist groups which he said are trying to undermine Western support for the war on terror.

"They are actively manipulating the media in this country" by, for example, falsely blaming U.S. troops for civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.

"They can lie with impunity," he said, while U.S. troops are held to a high standard of conduct.
Yes, it is the mark of a totally corrupt man to lie with impunity. It's also a mark of an ailing democracy.

PS I'm just assuming the other abuses at Abu Ghraib never happened:

And oh yeah, we never had that US military photos-of-dead-Iraqis-traded-for-porn scandal, so ignore this picture:

Read the rest of this post...

US appeases al-Sadr again

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It's Neville Chamberlain all over again. Appease, appease, appease. How many free passes is the Bush administration planning to dish out to al-Sadr? Wasn't this what was talked about the first and second time Bush had the troops pull back from conflict with the al-Sadr militia? Maybe this is why the administration is trying again to bring up the Democrats-are-appeasing-the-terrorists routine so they hope people miss that it's Bush that is the appeaser. Read the rest of this post...

Investor optimism plummets 40 points in 2006

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Wow. What's not to love about this "golden era" where profits remain in the hands of the select few? Who cares if most wages are on the decline as long as we continue to have retirement packages for the ruling elite while most Americans no longer have company sponsored retirement programs and perks? Funny how America "won" the Cold War courtesy of competition, free enterprise and money in the pockets of working families but those values seem so far away these days in the GOP-run United States. Go figure why investors are no longer very confident in the economy, but then again, Wall Street prefers Democrats in the White House anyway. Read the rest of this post...

Some say...

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"Some say it's patriotic to be cavalier about the deaths of nearly three thousand of our young brave troops, lying about the reasons for going to war with Iraq and then running the war incompetently, rather than concentrating on the real 'war on terror' and capturing Osama bin Laden.

"And some say they'd rather see a quagmire in Iraq, and put our troops in the middle of a civil war in order to protect their sensitive, overblown egos, than admit they've orchestrated the biggest American military defeat in 100 years."

- AMERICAblog reader "cowboyNEOK" (with a little poetic license from me)
Read the rest of this post...

Saddam forced to watch the South Park movie

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Okay, I have watched the South Park movie "Bigger, Longer, Uncut" over and over and over. Apparently, so has Saddam:
Saddam Hussein has been forced to watch South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, according to the film's co-creator Matt Stone.

The former Iraqi leader is portrayed in the movie as a homosexual who is in a relationship with the devil, and Stone claims the prisoner is being forced to watch it "repeatedly" as he is held by US Marines.
I wonder if he gets "Blame Canada" and "What would Brian Boitano do?" stuck in his head.

Hat tip to Raw Story for this one. Read the rest of this post...

Buchanan: Bush should be impeached (over Immigration, not Iraq)

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Pat was on CNN today spewing his hate rhetoric. He's apoplectic about the immigration issue and was using the "i-word" against Bush:
BUCHANAN: I think the president is not going to be impeached, but he's guilty of an impeachable offense. The Constitution commands the president of the United States to defend the states from an invasion.

When he himself says six million people have been stopped, we don't know how many have gotten in. Most people think about half that number. You've got an invasion.

He hasn't been enforcing the immigration laws and he hasn't been defending the border against an invasion, John. He ain't going to be impeached, because the Democrats are going along with the program, because both of them are beholden to the same corporate people right down there on K Street who want limitless immigration and who want cheap labor, and who want to be able to go abroad and bring in foreign workers into this United States.

So I think that the president of the United States has been derelict in his duty, unlike Dwight Eisenhower who put together something called ["]operation wetback" excuse me, on the border when he had a million immigrants coming in from Mexico. He said we have to stop this, he sent down a general to do it, and they deported those folks. Something has happened to the elites in this country if they can't defend America's border.
He's a real hater, that Pat Buchanan. And he does love kicking that Bush family. Is he preparing for another failed presidential campaign? He does love the limelight . The key plank in his platform this time will be immigrant bashing, although I'm sure we could count on Pat's gay bashing, too.

Buchanan is despicable. The news channels sure give him a lot of air time to spew his venom. Read the rest of this post...

He didn't do it.

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That dude didn't kill JonBenet - big f'ing shock. The media right now look like the asses they are. ASSES.

Fire every producer who led with JonBenet for the last week and a half instead of covering:
Care to add to the list? (Just in case producers complain that they have nothing to fill all those 24 hours with...) Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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What were you doing a year ago tonight -- as Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf Coast? We know the Prez was enjoying his vacation in Crawford. The Veep was enjoying his vacation in Wyoming. Condi was getting ready for her NYC shopping spree. And Brownie was getting ready to do a heckuva job. Read the rest of this post...

Nine US soldiers killed this past weekend in Iraq

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This weekend, Bush was enjoying his vacation in Maine and getting ready to survey the damage from his biggest domestic disaster. This weekend, in Bush's biggest foreign policy disaster, Iraq was exploding in increased violence and Americans soldiers were dying:
Shiite militiamen battled Iraqi forces for 12 hours Monday, leaving at least 40 people dead and underlining the government's difficulties as it tries to rein in the sectarian forces of an anti-U.S. cleric.

The fighting in this southern city dominated a bloody day that saw at least 20 other people killed in Baghdad, including 16 in a suicide bombing targeting the Interior Ministry complex. The U.S. military announced that nine U.S. soldiers were killed over the weekend in and around Baghdad, eight by roadside bombs and one by gunfire.
Read the rest of this post...

Some say Dick Cheney is wrong to have sex with a six-year-old boy

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There are some who say Dick Cheney is right to want to have sex with a six-year-old boy. To them I say, you're wrong.

Now, sure, I don't know for a fact that Dick Cheney wants to have sex with a six-year-old boy, but I also don't know for a fact that he doesn't, or hasn't. But judging by what Cheney just said today about Democrats, and what Patricia Wilson of Reuters reported as apparent truth, Cheney being a practicing pedophile is just as true as what Cheney or Wilson allege. Here's what Dick had to say:
"Some in our own country claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone," Cheney told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nevada. "A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be ... a ruinous blow to the future security of the United States."
And America's own Pravda, also known as Reuters, in the shape of "reporter" Patricia Wilson, simply quotes Cheney's words as though anyone in America, other than Mohammad Atta, has ever said anything about needing to "satisfy the appetite of the terrorists." Cheney has entered the land of the delusional, and Reuters the land of FOX News.

But Patricia Wilson of Reuters couldn't just leave it at that. No.

Her next paragraph, as inartful as she could make it, suggests that Democrats actually have said that we should appease terrorists:
Cheney did not use the word "Democrats," choosing instead the anonymous "some," but he rejected the argument many have made that by invading Iraq in March 2003, the United States simply "stirred up a hornets' nest."
Now Wilson and Reuters will claim that this previous paragraph really refers to the NEXT paragraph that follows. Well guess what Sherlock? You never bothered mentioning anything about how no one has ever suggested that we need to appease the appetite of the terrorists, so your reader is going to assume that you meant the Democrats.

Seriously, you people call yourself journalists? And you wonder why your credibility keeps dropping.

Do your damn job.

(Hat tip to MattMcD in the comments for the first paragraph.) Read the rest of this post...

Backdoor draft continues

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Having a professional military is a moral and strategic good. While I'm a big fan of national service, I don't think it should be compulsory unless absolutely necessary, and nobody -- especially after Vietnam -- wants people in the military who haven't volunteered to be there. Certainly soldiers may not like what they're asked to do once they're in, but having that initial choice goes a long way towards the professionalism and skill that the vast majority of our troops bring to the table.

Which is why it's a huge problem when people are getting involuntarily yanked back into service. This first line really says it all, but it goes on to explain the increasingly drastic steps the military has taken up to this point:
The Marine Corps announced this week that it will involuntarily activate 2,500 reservists. [...] Some of those in uniform are on their second or third deployment to the war zones. From time to time, the Army has had to recruit more soldiers from the "lowest acceptable" category based on test scores, education levels, personal background, and other indicators of ability. Some military recruiters - always under pressure to produce - have been reprimanded for illegally inducing clearly unqualified young men and women into signing up. "Citizen soldiers" in the National Guard have played an extraordinarily large role on the ground in combat areas. To some experts, the call-up of Marine Corps reservists indicates that the war is likely to last longer and be more hard-fought than earlier official predictions.
Some experts? Some?? It's like parts of the article were written in 2003 and spliced in. Uh, yeah, last week was really the turning point which showed that all those rosy predictions were wrong. Ohhhhhkay.

But the greater point is that troops aren't coming home in any significant numbers for a long, long time. The media can scream about how Democrats can't agree whether we should start to reduce troop numbers in 2006 or 2007 ("Ohmygod! They're so divided!"), Republicans can run away from the Bush administration for this election cycle, and the pundit class can bash leaders' incompetence, but it's all academic. The President will make those decisions, and he's said with both word and deed that we'll be there, in force, for years to come. If you want the same perspective, but with hilarious understatement, from the same article:
Troop strength in Iraq today is back up to 138,000, notes military analyst John Pike of, a research and consulting firm specializing in security issues. "All that happy talk earlier this year about getting below 100,000 by the end of this year now seems premature."
Yeah. Seems premature. Read the rest of this post...

Oh what a difference a Macaca makes

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Webb leads Allen in latest poll.

Honey I shrunk the epithet. Check out how Zogby describes "macaca." A city in South Africa? Yeah, that was why it was such a big story. You know how much we hate South African cities. Especially when they move in to our neighborhoods.

Read the rest of this post...

Real wages in Republican America and the "golden era"

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Back in late 2004 when I tried to find the silver lining to the pathetic showing by the Democrats, I used to think that at least Bush and the GOP would have no excuses when things went south. With such complete control in DC, the GOP may try to wiggle out of ownership and the Democrats often let them get away with it, but the reality is that the GOP owns the government in Washington.

This story about real wages and the sorry state of the American working class is coming at a very interesting time since the election is just around the corner. There is nobody out there to blame for this one because the current business model in the US, where the select few profit while most don't, has been the result of years of GOP assistance. The American public may have been fooled for a while, but I'm guessing people have had enough and want some balance once again.
With the economy beginning to slow, the current expansion has a chance to become the first sustained period of economic growth since World War II that fails to offer a prolonged increase in real wages for most workers.

That situation is adding to fears among Republicans that the economy will hurt vulnerable incumbents in this year in midterm elections even though overall growth has been healthy for much of the last five years.

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity - the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation's living standards - has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960's. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as the golden era of profitability.

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

Oh what a golden era...for the select few.

Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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What's new? Read the rest of this post...

While George Bush is on vacation, US Iraq vets have to take the 20 hour bus home

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The military can't be bothered to actually fly our veterans home. They put them on 20 hour bus rides like cattle.

You get the government you vote for, folks. Half of America preferred false patriotism to actual substance, and they got it in spades. Republicans don't give a damn about our troops, unless it's a photo op right before the election. But we Democrats knew that back when the Republicans sent our troops to war based on a lie, in inadequate numbers, and without the necessary body armor. Oh, but the Republicans said THEY were the ones who REALLY loved the troops. And the American people fell for it.

The rest of America is finally waking up. Republican talks tough, then screw everything up.

(Hat tip to Virtual Matter blog.) Read the rest of this post...

Another hurricane is coming, and Bush is staying on vacation

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Yep, it's the one-year anniversary of Katrina, another hurricane is coming, and Bush is STILL on vacation, AGAIN - just like he stayed on vacation for a full three days after Katrina destroyed New Orleans.
...with Bush's image as a leader still tarnished by the halting federal response to Katrina, the president wants to make clear that he has been fully engaged in planning for Ernesto as he vacationed over the weekend at his family's summer home on the Maine coast.
Yes, he's fully engaged... while on vacation at his rich daddy's "summer" home. Too bad the folks in New Orleans still don't have spring, summer, winter or fall homes. Read the rest of this post...

In early American public schools, there was no separation between church and state

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From the Wall Street Journal
In early American public schools, there was no separation between church and state. Tenets of Christianity were embedded in almost every lesson and book, including spelling, reading, history, grammar, arithmetic and science.
Yeah, and we had slaves. And women couldn't vote. And no one would hire the Irish. And children made great factory labor.

Oh yeah, we also burned witches.

Your point would be? Read the rest of this post...

Start the day with a French humor blog

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It's good. A French comedy writer does a video blog for Americans about France. This one is about cheese. Get beyond the intro, it takes off from there. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I got up early today. Chris and his wife are coming back shortly, need to clean the house. Read the rest of this post...

Blogging -- and communicating -- through war

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Interesting article in the Washington Post about bloggers in Israel and Lebanon communicating with each other during the recent war -- often communicating for the first time ever with someone in the other country:
The Lebanese government forbids its citizens contact with Israelis. But keeping a lid on the Internet is a bit like trying to shovel sand with a sieve. And in the midst of war, scouring online for views from the other side has been one way for Lebanese and Israelis to alleviate the terrible sense of the impotence of standing by as their countries bled. Thousands of people, often posting in English, seem compelled to try to make some sense of the chaos -- or, through personal narratives, to help debunk stereotypes and misperceptions.

"Bloggers from both sides of the border . . . have been providing live updates, commenting on one another's blogs and sometimes linking to posts by bloggers on the other side of the border," wrote Lisa Goldman, a Canadian-Israeli blogger and journalist, on her site On the Face six days into the war. "Will this turn out to be the first time that residents of 'enemy' countries engaged in an ongoing conversation while missiles were falling?"

The war, paradoxically, provided the common ground, and blogging -- a roughly three-year-old medium unavailable in previous conflicts -- offered the space for it.
Blogging seemed to helped some citizens in both countries understand that there were actually human beings on the other side. Read the rest of this post...

The rise of the right-wing Thought Police in Japan

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Not surprisingly they seem to have taken a page from the George Bush/Republican play book. Read the rest of this post...

Another very deadly day in Iraq

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Carnage continues:
A wave of bomb attacks and shootings swept Iraq Sunday, killing dozens of people despite a massive security operation in the capital and appeals from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an end to sectarian fighting.
But don't worry. The Iraqi PM has adopted the Bush talking points. Everything is fine:
And yet, in remarks closely following similarly upbeat statements by American military officials in Baghdad, the prime minister also sought to lend optimism to his government’s efforts to bring security to Baghdad and other violent parts of the country, and to rule out the possibility of civil war.

“We are not in a civil war. Iraq will never be in a civil war,” Mr. Maliki said, through an interpreter, in an interview with CNN on Sunday. “The violence is in decrease, and our security ability is increasing.”

Mr. Maliki’s statement stood in contrast to a far bleaker assessment he made in a speech to Parliament on July 12, when he said the country had one “last chance” to eliminate the sectarian and insurgent attacks destabilizing the country, and warned lawmakers that “if that fails — God forbid — I don’t know what will be Iraq’s fate.”
Now the Iraqi Prime Minister is trying to spin his way out of this crisis, just like Bush. Read the rest of this post...

GOP Senate candidate once said gays' eyes are "devoid of life"

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Ah, the party of God keeps on giving and giving.
All the homosexuals I've seen are sickly and decrepit, their eyes devoid of life."
Read the rest of this post...

Bush is setting up Colin Powell to take the fall on Valerie Plame

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Only explanation for where the story is heading.

You'd kind of like to give Powell a "told you so," but then again the man did sell out his people and his country by working for, and then defending, a bunch of liars. So, it's hard to feel too bad for a very bright man who dug his own political grave.

And now the Bush crowd is getting one last dig at Powell even though he's already out of the picture. Will Powell respond, or yet again take the fall for an administration that never fully trusted him? Stay tuned. Read the rest of this post...

Bush's FBI again harasses environmental activist while leaving Pat Robertson and Ann Coulter alone

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If an environmental activist endorsing one of the options the Army Corps presents for dealing with a damn is a potential terrorist, then why aren't Ann Coulter, Pat Robertson, and other far-right conservatives investigated when their comments seem to endorse terrorism against Americans?

Oh that's right, in George Bush's Republican America the federal government only harasses Democrats and it never actually investigates the real terrorists.

Speaking of which, where is Osama? Read the rest of this post...

Mel Gibson Katherine Harris clarifies anti-Semitic comments by saying she recognized the Holocaust

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That's nice. Read the rest of this post...

Frank Rich talks about George Bush's return to the scene of the crime in New Orleans

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Classic Frank
A representative and poignant example, brought to light by The Los Angeles Times, is Patrick R. McCaffrey, a Silicon Valley auto-body-shop manager with two children who joined the California National Guard one month after 9/11. He was eager to do his bit for homeland security by helping protect the Shasta Dam or Golden Gate Bridge. Instead he was sent to Iraq, where he was killed in 2004. In a replay of the Pentagon subterfuge surrounding the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman, another post-9/11 enlistee betrayed by his country, Mr. McCaffrey’s death was at first officially attributed to an ambush by insurgents. Only after two years of investigation did the Army finally concede that his killers were actually the Iraqi security forces he was helping to train.

“He said we had no business in Iraq and should not be there,” his mother, Nadia McCaffrey, told the paper. Last week’s belated presidential admission that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on America that inspired Patrick McCaffrey’s service was implicitly an admission that he and many like him died in Iraq for nothing as well.

Mr. Bush’s press-conference disavowalof his habitual efforts to connect 9/11 to Saddam will be rolled back by the White House soon enough. When the fifth anniversary of 9/11 arrives in two weeks, you can bet that the president will once again invoke the Qaeda attacks to justify the Iraq war, especially now that we are adding troops (through the involuntary call-up of reservists) rather than subtracting any. The new propaganda strategy will be right out of Lewis Carroll: If we leave the country that had nothing to do with 9/11, then 9/11 will happen again.
Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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On the way to the restaurant last night I had to stop and capture this shot just north of St. Michel (Notre Dame is behind me about a block). Don't worry, I come back home on Friday, so no more pretty pics to taunt you after that (well, no more of Paris anyway). Click the photo to see an enlargement of the shot. Read the rest of this post...

Drug companies paid for the Chamber's pro-GOP ads touting bill that benefitted drug companies

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Busted. The DCCC Stakeholder outed the drug companies for hiding behind the Chamber of Commerce to run their pro-Medicare drug bill ads -- that bill, of course, benefitted those same drug companies while screwing America's seniors. They're a dirty bunch:
The pharmaceutical industry quietly footed the bill for at least part of a recent multimillion-dollar ad campaign praising lawmakers who support the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, according to political officials.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims credit for the ads, although a spokesman refused repeatedly to say whether it had received any funds from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Several campaign strategists not involved in the ad campaign said no legal issues were raised by the pharmaceutical industry's involvement. In political terms, though, the disclosure is likely to embolden Democratic critics of the Medicare drug program, who charge it amounts to a Republican-engineered windfall for drug companies.
Read the rest of this post...

Anything interesting happening on the Sunday morning shows?

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Discuss Read the rest of this post...

US soldiers' killing of Reuter's journalist called "unlawful"

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Remember when that CNN guy lost his job after talking about US troops targeting journalists. Of course, at that point we'd already blown up (apparently intentionally) the Al Jazeera station in Afghanistan. (Then there was that Italian journalist we shot.) Well, now there's a Reuter's journalist dead (apparently killed last year) and an independent inquiry found that the killing was "unlawful." Reuters wants the Pentagon to investigate, the Pentagon has refused. And guess what, the Pentagon even "lost" key footage of the incident that could have proven what really happened. When in America does someone get to orchestrate that big a cover-up and get away with it? When it's the Pentagon, and when it's George Bush's America. They break the law because they can.

What right do we have to tell anyone else in the world how to live, what is right and wrong, when our own government has become lawless? Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Good morning Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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Keep threading. Read the rest of this post...

US Government not sure if the rebuilt levees will hold

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This is insane:
Despite aggressive efforts to repair the New Orleans levee system following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, it isn't clear yet whether it could withstand a hurricane with heavy storm surge this year, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers conceded Saturday.
Everything Bush says this week about progress on Katrina is undermined by the fact that he can't vouch for the levees. Enough said. Read the rest of this post...

Wash. Post examines Bush and Katrina -- only through eyes of the GOP

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Today the Washington Post took a look at the political damage Bush suffered because of Katrina. Funny thing, most of the people they talked to thought Bush has recovered quite well and that a lot of the criticism was unfair. Well, it's not that funny. They ONLY talked to Republicans -- not one Democrat. The reporters did talk to two pollsters, one historian -- but the rest of their interviews were with a who's who of GOPers including:
White House Aide Dan Bartlett

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino

Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry from North Carolina

Republican Congressman Jim McCrery from Louisiana

Republican Congressman Jack Kingston from Georgia, and

Republican Congressman Tom Feeney from Florida.
We expect the White House and the GOP to spin Washington Post reporters have to do all their work? Read the rest of this post...

Obama gets the star treatment in his family village in Kenya

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

Open Thread

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I know it's a weekend in August, but what's the buzz? Read the rest of this post...

Patricia Todd is the victor in Alabama -- finally

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Wow. Big news from Alabama. The Alabama Democratic Party today voted to dismiss the challenge to Patricia Todd's primary victory.

Birmingham Blues put it best: WE WON.

The Victory Fund released a statement from Chuck Wolfe:
"Finally, the voters have prevailed. We are enormously proud of the courage and tenacity Patricia showed throughout this ordeal, and equally proud of her supporters in Alabama and beyond who stood by her unfailingly. The Victory Fund and its network of donors have worked to ensure Patricia had a level playing field and a fair chance to show that a qualified, committed public servant can win the trust of the voters regardless of her sexual orientation. We have no doubt her career in the legislature will reflect the same determination and skill she showed in her campaign."
Congrats to Patricia Todd and all the folks who made her victory possible. The Victory Fund did a tremendous job....and thanks to Kathy at Birmingham Blues for the great coverage and for keeping us informed of the shenanigans. And I need to thank David L. for getting AMERICAblog hooked on this race in the first place.

Patricia Todd with be the first openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature. That's some big history to make.

UPDATE: Kathy from Birmingham Blues wrote up an account of the Alabama Democratic Party meeting. I thought this was especially interesting:
Patricia was all smiles, and her supporters were ecstatic. I walked out with party Executive Director Jim Spearman, who told me that Howard Dean had called eight times during the meeting to find out what happened. He said he’d been on the phone with Dean all week, and that the DNC was frantic because of all the negative feedback. People were ticked off, and no funds were coming in.

So thanks to all of you who contacted the DNC, the Alabama Democratic Party, your local committee members, and anyone else who would listen to insist that justice be done.
Read the rest of this post...

Lieberman is refusing to support Democratic House candidates, endangering Dem effort to take back the House

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Okay boys, it's time to take Joe Lieberman down. And I'm not talking to the bloggers here, I'm talking to Democratic Senators and congressman. This man's ego is now endangering our efforts to take the House back. (The latest is that respected DC number-crunchers are predicting the Dems will win the House.) That is unacceptable behavior from any Democrat. Lieberman doesn't care about who controls the congress because, face it, he's happy George Bush is president so why shouldn't he be happy that the Republicans control congress.

This man isn't a Democrat. He needs to be destroyed now. The Democrats need to tell him in no uncertain terms that he loses his seniority in the Senate if he doesn't endorse the Democratic candidates, now. Then watch Lieberman tell the people of Connecticut how much his seniority has done for them when he doesn't have it anymore. It's time for the Dems to play hardball before Holy Joe destroys them.
"It's a little awkward for me now" to endorse the Democratic candidates in the general election, [Lieberman] said, "since they all endorsed my opponent," Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont.

The comment was significant because analysts from both major parties believe that Lieberman's campaign could help the three Republicans keep their jobs in the face of tough challenges. Lieberman's strongest support -- 75 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac poll -- comes from Republicans. If he succeeds in drawing more Republican voters to the polls to support his candidacy, that could help the Republican Congressional candidates. Those three races are considered among the 10 most competitive Congressional races in the country; both parties consider the races key to deciding which party controls the House in 2007. National Republican strategists and donors have come forward to help Lieberman's campaign; party leaders have abandoned the nominal Republican in the Senate race, Alan Schlesinger. Prominent Republicans like Shays and former Republican House leader Newt Gingrich have endorsed Lieberman.
Read the rest of this post...

I went back to the Musee d'Orsay

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Silly me. I got home from the museum the other day, asked friends where the best Impressionism exhibit was in town, and they said the Musee d'Orsay. Doh. I missed 90% of it. So, I went back yesterday. Truly a wonderful museum. These are just a handful of the photos, above and below. And remember, click the photos to see enlargements. Enjoy.

And this last one is a view from the top of the museum. You're looking at the Seine, with Sacre Coeur in the background, and the Louvre to the far right.

Read the rest of this post...

GOP Senate candidate, and friend of Bush, Katherine Harris thinks Jews shouldn't be elected to public office because they'll "legislate sin"

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Oh yes. The GOP, the new "Party of God" - also called Hezbollah in Arabic.
"If you are not electing Christians, tried and true, under public scrutiny and pressure, if you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," she told interviewers, citing abortion and gay marriage as two examples of that sin.

"Whenever we legislate sin," she said, "and we say abortion is permissible and we say gay unions are permissible, then average citizens who are not Christians, because they don't know better, we are leading them astray and it's wrong..."
I wonder what she thinks of Jews swimming in our pools? Read the rest of this post...

Embattled GOP Senator George Allen (R-VA) cancels event after dogged by monkey and banana

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Oh, just imagine if Allen ever runs for president, which he reportedly has plans to do. The man will NEVER be left alone ever again. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Good morning. Read the rest of this post...

Woah, two days after George Allen's campaign manager said Allen did nothing wrong, George Allen is now calling his racist remark "insenstive"?

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That's nice:
"I've said all I care to say about it - and I'm moving forward," Allen told the AFP. "I've apologized for the insensitive remark - and that's all I'm going to say about it. There's nothing more that needs to be said. I've said all I need to say - and I'm moving forward."
Funny, but earlier this week George Allen's campaign manager wrote in a memo that Allen did nothing wrong, and that the entire incident was the work of the "liberal media."
It is very clear that the news media created what they call a "feeding frenzy", with the Washington Post alone doing major stories on the same issue for 5 consecutive days.

Literally putting words into Senator Allen's mouth that he did not say (by speculating, defining and attributing meanings and motives that simply are not true), the Webb campaign and the news media seeming worked hand-in-hand to create national news over something that did not warrant coverage in the first place.
So which one is, Senator? You were wrong for making an "insensitive" racist remark, or is this all the fault of the liberal media (and you know who controls them)? Read the rest of this post...

Remember that American city that George Bush wiped off the map? Still screwed

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George Bush doesn't care about black people. Read the rest of this post...

Dynamite on a flight, no big deal

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Bush's Homeland Security at its usual efficiency:
A stick of dynamite was found in a college student's checked luggage on a Continental Airlines flight from Argentina, authorities said, in one of six security incidents Friday affecting U.S. flights.

Federal authorities were investigating why the student, who got off the Continental plane in Houston before it continued to Newark, N.J., had the explosive, FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said. She said the student did not appear to be connected to terrorism.

Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Omero Longoria said the man told authorities he works in mining and often handles explosives. Longoria said federal officials were investigating whether the explanation was true.
Ya think? A stick of dynamite and you don't think the kid was connected to terrorism? Unless this kid just came out of a cave, no one is going to put a stick of dynamite in their luggage unless they want to kill a lot of people, or they're a fool who deserves a little jail time. We're putting Muslims in prison for 5 years with no trial and no attorney for no good reason, and the dynamite kid is okay? Are these people for real?

Oh, it gets better:
In Buenos Aires, Marcelo Sain, head of Argentina's Airport Security Police, told local TV that authorities found "a Coca Cola bottle with mud, and inside it was a tube with ammonium nitrate, a little bit of dynamite and a detonator."

Mark Mancuso, deputy director for public safety at Houston airports, said the man told authorities the items were souvenirs purchased at a mine in Bolivia.
Right, because they were all out of dirty-bomb souvenirs. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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"So this is how liberty dies . . . to thunderous applause."

Stupid HBO was keeping me from my important blogofascisting today. Who turned on the TV?!? Oh, wait . . .

Anyway, it's been a long day, you all deserve some chat time. Have at it. Read the rest of this post...

Freedom is on the march . . . oh, wait, that's 'flogging,' not 'freedom'

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Reflecting increasing imposition of strict religious rule, Islamic fundamentalists publicly lashed a woman in Somalia yesterday, punishing her for allegedly selling $1.00 worth of cannabis.
The woman, who throughout the beating insisted she was innocent, was flogged alongside five other men at the Yassin Square in Mogadishu in front of several hundred people.
The most mind boggling thing, though, is this paragraph, practically an aside in the article:
Somalia has not had a police force or judiciary for 16 years since the warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 and then turned on each other
I mean, on the Top Ten Signs Your Country is a Failed State, no police or judiciary for 16 years has got to be pretty high on the list, yes? No? Yes? Read the rest of this post...

Bush thinks there's "no point" in considering whether we've lost Iraq

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It's just a philosophical discussion, according to Bush, whether we've lost and need to find a way out. How is it philosophical when we have over 100,000 troops in that country and they're getting shot at every day? How is a cost of $100 billion a year "philosophical"?

The man has lost touch with reality. And he's running our country. And the Republican controling the congress are giving him a rubber stamp to do whatever he wants. Read the rest of this post...

Why was George Allen willing to let Bush close down VA highways for 6 hours just so Allen could fundraise?

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From Attywood:
On Tuesday, the Secret Service asked Virginia officials if they would be kind enough to shut down all of the HOV lanes on I-395 from 1 to 7 p.m. the next day so President Bush could get where he needed to be, according to state officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of discussing the president's travel.

The request was made ahead of a fundraiser for Sen. George Allen (R) held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at a house near Mount Vernon -- a good hour's drive from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. during a typical rush hour.

The request came into Virginia's Smart Traffic Center on Tuesday morning, one official said. "We were sort of dealing with it all day," the official said.

All day because they couldn't shake the image of what closing the HOV lanes would do: Buses that normally use the high-speed lanes would have to be rerouted or canceled; commuters who hitch rides in carpools would be stranded; and thousands of cars would be added to the congested regular lanes of I-395.
King George finally decided to take a helicopter and avoid closing down the highway. Putting aside the question of why the White House couldn't have done this in the first place, where was George Allen when all of this was going on? The Senator from Virginia didn't have an opinion about practically shutting down his own highway for six hours, including rush hour, in order to help him raise money while the little people suffered?

Senators are supposed to help their states when they get into jams with the federal government. They're not supposed to help facilitate the jam itself. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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I'm in Maine for the weekend visiting family.... as is our President. It was a year ago this weekend that he stayed on vacation while Katrina destroyed the lives of millions along the Gulf Coast. I'm sure Bush will be reflecting on that as he zips around Kennebunkport over the next few days. Read the rest of this post...

Bush tells low-income students they don't need to learn about evolution

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Classic move from the incompetent idiot-in-chief.
Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students.
But to be fair, I understand they added "speaking in tongues."

More from Jon Swift. Read the rest of this post...

NYT editorial on "scary" intelligence

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Wanted: Scarier Intelligence Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 8/25/06

Another week. More preposterousness to report.

God I am getting sick and tired of writing about sycophantic, self-important, GOP nipple-suckler Joe Lieberman. But every time I think the cybernetic, pseudo-ecclesiastic, corporate wet-dream is done screwing the Democratic Party -— to deafening silence from elected Democrats in Washington (with notable exceptions Russ Feingold, John Kerry and Maxine Waters) only broken by methane backfires emanating from Bush’s alimentary canal and the guffaws of a circle of Pioneer offspring giving each other handies—Little Joey one-ups himself on the quisling scale.

These days Joe is not only repeating nauseating Cheneyisms (maybe he too can soon have his heart pump Exxon leaded), using a right-wing pollster who works for the troglodytic Rick Santorum and Connecticut Republicans Rob Simmons (one of the most vulnerable GOP House Incumbents) and Jodi Rell, but he has finally completed his quest to sink as low as it takes for electoral self-preservation by campaigning with these very same GOPers. Please Joe, tell us again how you’re really a Democrat?

Because it would seem to be as comfortable for you these days as riding shotgun with Mel Gibson after a fifth of Southern Comfort while writing a screenplay about Torquemada.

Joe also thinks the current terrorist threat is more dangerous than were the Nazis or Soviets, which leads me to conclude that he has ascended a full four-levels of crazy, all the way from Jean Schmidt past Katherine Harris, John Mark Carr and up to James Inhofe. It will take some effort to get past Inhofe, however, who thinks global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated upon the American people” and extols what has been accomplished in Iraq as a “nothing short of a miracle.”

Funny, that is the word I would use to describe how this cretin occupies a US Senate seat instead of being used as a crash-test dummy.

But back to my main point. Joe, I am really asking nicely now, please do us all a favor and just go away, so we can write about a new topic, preferably involving someone who doesn’t talk like they need a napalm inhaler. I know Saturday night cocktails aren't as good in Waterbury as Georgetown. And what would Karl Rove do without his "date rape" Democrat?

He had Bob Bullock back in Texas to convince people a right-wing changeling governor was accomplished and bipartisan. Then he found Crazy Zell, fresh off of an encounter with a pack of rabid kinkajous. Now he needs you, Joe, to provide the similar facade of “unity,” which just happens to be your campaign message (I know, major coincidence there).

But Karl can find someone else for the part. Ben Nelson is certainly auditioning. Or maybe we can make Al Wynn a Senator. Hell I’d take Tom Cruise in a trade at this point (I hear he has some free time). Please Joe, a lot of people in Connecticut already tried to subtely imply they don't really like you. And I promise, there is a kicking career waiting for you as a mortician if you’d just give it half a chance. Read the rest of this post...

Washington Post does a massive profile of "Macaca"

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George Allen needs to learn that if you let your aides blast the media, the media gets the last laugh. Read the rest of this post...

TV show "Survivor" plans battle of the races

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Sounds creepy to me. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Gday. Read the rest of this post...

Rove's imagines different outcomes for 9/11 -- how about if his boss was paying attention?

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Karl Rove is in full campaign mode. It's terror, terror, terror. He's always speculating about all the ways 9/11 could have been prevented:
Presidential adviser Karl Rove criticized a federal judge's order for an immediate end to the government's warrantless surveillance program, saying Wednesday such a program might have prevented the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rove said the government should be free to listen if al-Qaida is calling someone within the U.S.

"Imagine if we could have done that before 9/11. It might have been a different outcome," he said.
It might have been a different outcome if we had a President who didn't ignore the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S." Imagine if we had a President who took terrorism seriously back in 2001. We didn't. The reason Bush and Rove accuse everyone else of being weak on terror is because they were weak. They ignored the warnings. And, Al Qaeda did strike in the U.S. -- as predicted by the CIA.

Bush got a free ride after 9/11...his failure to protect America was never fully exposed. If anyone challenged him, they were unpatriotic. As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and the first anniversary of Katrina, the White House will be in spin overdrive. Never forget that both of these disasters happened on Bush's watch. Read the rest of this post...

Racist Republicans say the darndest things

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CNN's Jack Cafferty has a few words about them. Read the rest of this post...

Alabama Democratic Party disqualifies Patricia Todd --and her opponent

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A Democratic Party committee has disqualified an openly gay candidate for the Alabama Legislature and the woman she defeated in the primary runoff.

Committee members ruled tonight that both women violated a party rule that party officials say no other candidate has obeyed since 1988.

The committee voted 5-0 to disqualify Patricia Todd and Gaynell Hendricks. Todd was attempting to become the the state's first openly gay legislator.
As usual, Birmingham Blues has the inside scoop. Kathy went to the hearing today and explains the whole process.

The full Democratic Party state committee will make a decision on Saturday. It's a lot simpler if they do the Democratic thing and decide that the person who got the most votes is the winner.

Keep in mind, this is all happening within the confines of the Democratic Party. It's really embarrassing. Doesn't the DNC even try to prevent this kind of inanity?

UPDATE: The NY Times is now covering this Democratic mess in Alabama. It's a national story now... Read the rest of this post...