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Wash Post: Top officials at Walter Reed knew about problems for years; GOP congressman's complaints ignored, soldier found sleeping in his own urine

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A US soldier was sleeping in his own urine at Walter Reed, the wife of a Republican congressman witnessed it and complained, and nobody did a damn thing.

God bless Dana Priest. THIS is what reporting looks like. It's not about being partisan. It's about doing your job, and hopefully making the world a better place at the same time.

From the front page of tomorrow's Washington Post:
Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years.

A procession of Pentagon and Walter Reed officials expressed surprise last week about the living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares faced by wounded soldiers staying at the D.C. medical facility. But as far back as 2003, the commander of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, was told that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds, according to interviews.
GOP congressman was rebuffed when he brought problems to the attention of the authorities at Walter Reed:
In 2004, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife stopped visiting the wounded at Walter Reed out of frustration. Young said he voiced concerns to commanders over troubling incidents he witnessed but was rebuffed or ignored. "When Bev or I would bring problems to the attention of authorities of Walter Reed, we were made to feel very uncomfortable," said Young, who began visiting the wounded recuperating at other facilities.

Beverly Young said she complained to Kiley several times. She once visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, "I went flying down to Kevin Kiley's office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else."
Kiley is now the US Army's Surgeon General. What is this man still doing with a job?

Someone is going to be on the short list for a Pulitzer.

Actually, in all fairness to Salon, they had this story on Tuesday. Read the rest of this post...

Laura Bush's daily car bomb

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Nothing to see here, move right along. After all, it's only a car bomb killing women and children while they shop. I wonder if Mrs. Bush would say the same thing about women and children being murdered in Israeli shopping malls on a daily basis: that it's only one car bomb a day, so the Israelis should be pretty darn chipper. Read the rest of this post...

Was Att. Gen. Gonzales finally sworn in under oath when he testified in January about US Attorney firings?

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According to Salon, Attorney General Gonzales and the Deputy Attorney General both told Senate committees in January and February that the firings weren't political. But today we're hearing from the Washington Post that the evidence is growing that in fact the firings were political.

Now, I'm just going to assume that Gonzales was sworn in under oath when he testified, and we finally may have caught him perjuring himself, since the Democrats have long let it be known that they've had it with Gonzales' never-ending lies while testifying, and in fact the Democrats tried to force Gonzales to be sworn in under oath last year while testifying BECAUSE he's such a liar. So clearly he had to be sworn in, right? Can someone find out if Gonzales was in fact sworn in?

This from Salon:
"I would never, ever make a change in the United States attorney position for political reasons," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in Senate testimony in early January. In a Feb. 6 hearing, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told lawmakers, "When I hear you talk about the politicizing of the Department of Justice, it's like a knife in my heart."
Read the rest of this post...

Fired US Attorney from New Mexico says two members of Congress put pressure on him to expedite case against Dems before the election

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While the fired U.S. Attorney, David Iglesias, didn't say the two members of Congress who called to pressure him were Republicans, he apparently made it sound that way -- and it sure sounds like a GOP tactic. He didn't succumb to the political pressure, then he got fired. Go figure.

This whole issue of the fired U.S. Attorneys is going to get really, really ugly. From the Washington Post:
The fired U.S. attorney in New Mexico says he was pressured by two members of Congress prior to the November elections about the pace of an ongoing public corruption probe that targets local Democrats.

David C. Iglesias -- who is leaving today after more than five years in office -- said he received separate calls in October from two federal lawmakers, whom he declined to identify. Iglesias said he suspects the episode led the Justice Department to include him in a wave of firings of federal prosecutors late last year.

"They were fishing around for information in terms of the status of the investigation," Iglesias said in an interview, referring to the lawmakers. "They were fishing around for a timetable. Those are things I'm prohibited from talking about."

Iglesias said the callers seemed focused on whether indictments in the case might be issued prior to the elections.

"I didn't give them what they wanted," Iglesias said. "That was probably a political problem that caused them to go to the White House or whomever and complain that I wasn't a team player."
Someone isn't telling the truth about this whole mess. And the fired U.S. Attorneys aren't the ones lying. Read the rest of this post...

Casualty numbers may be grossly under-reported

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The special on Bob Woodruff last night was fascinating, and while I was a little skeptical about such a focus on one newsman when tens of thousands of troops are suffering from injuries, the program did a good job of integrating the broader issues into showing a process of recovery for Woodruff that was, frankly, miraculous. The head injury he suffered in an IED attack was so severe, doctors ultimately had to remove 14 centimeters of his skull, replacing it with a "plastic rendition." The footage of him relearning words through his little kids showing him flashcards was heartbreaking, as was much of what his family went through.

Woodruff, of course, got the absolute best available care, and has a massive media outlet through which to talk about his story. Regular readers of this blog know that a huge number of those injured in Iraq are not so lucky. And it turns out, according to Woodruff's reporting, there may be many more injured than the government is reporting:
While the U.S. Department of Defense says that there have been about 23,000 nonfatal battlefield casualties in Iraq, Woodruff discovers -- through an internal VA report -- that more than 200,000 veterans have sought medical care for various ailments, including more than 73,000 diagnoses for mental disorders.

Nicholson plays down those figures, telling Woodruff, "A lot of them come in for dental problems. We're providing their health care."

Woodruff reports that even these numbers may not tell the whole story: According to unreleased data from the Department of Defense, at least 10 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have sustained a brain injury during their service.

The ABC News anchor reports: "That could mean that of the 1.5 million who have served or are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 150,000 people could have a brain injury that may be undiagnosed and unrecognized by the casualty numbers from the Department of Defense."

While everyone with symptoms of a brain injury may not need extensive treatment, Woodruff learns that the Department of Defense is not screening all returning soldiers, despite recommendations from the Defense Department's own Defense and Veteran's Brain Injury Center.

Woodruff says that he and others at ABC News will continue to report on this story because "the human cost of war is sometimes overlooked," and injured veterans "need support that matches their sacrifice."
Certainly some of those numbers are not Iraq casualties, and many may in fact be "dental problems," but I don't think 73,000 mental disorders include any dental work, and it's offensive to hear so many soldiers needing medical care being so easily dismissed. The fact that returning soldiers aren't even being screened for brain injuries -- which are exactly the kind of injury most likely from the vast majority of attacks in Iraq, bombs and other explosions, and which often don't present obvious symptoms but can have crippling long-term effects -- is disgraceful.

Woodruff gets this part exactly right: Injured veterans "need support that matches their sacrifice." I guess this administration disagrees. Read the rest of this post...

Please feed the AMERICAblog

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If the spirit moves you, please consider making a donation to the blog. This is my full-time job, I pay my daily correspondents/writers/bloggers, we now have $900/month in server costs, tech costs associated with the revamp, and more. Long story short, your donations help make AMERICAblog work. So please use the red box in the right-hand column where you can make a one-time donation in the top box, or a recurring monthly donation (i.e., same amount each month automatically charged to you) via the bottom box. Note that donations are NOT tax deductible. And while you're at it, feed some other blogs you love as well. Thanks, JOHN Read the rest of this post...

House Committee Chair scolds DOD for punishing maimed vets who helped expose Walter Reed scandal

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Punishing the very war heroes that the Bush administration was already treating like dogs. Classy way to treat the troops.

And there's going to be a Hosue field hearing next week at Walter Reed. Read the rest of this post...

First US Marine injured in Iraq war comes out as gay

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ABC News, via Andy Towle:
"Alva...was a decorated staff sergeant who had served in Somalia and Japan. As troops began to push into Iraq, on March 21, 2003, Alva was leading 11 Marines among 75 or so sailors and Marines in a 50- to 55-vehicle convoy on its way from the desert in Kuwait to Basra, Iraq. It was a logistical convoy moving through the desert at night, lights out, night-vision goggles on. The sand was so kicked up it was nearly impossible for Alva to even keep track of the vehicle in front of him. At one of three stops along the way, Alva, who hadn't eaten for a full day, was heating up an MRE when he went to get something out of his Humvee. 'I took maybe a step or two,' Alva said, 'and that is when the explosion went off.' It was a land mine."
More from the Washington Post. Read the rest of this post...

Largo, Florida to fire city's top official for 14 years because he says he's transgender, will get surgery

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I'm sure it came as a surprise, even a shock to some, that the city official is transgender. But after 14 years of stellar service, this is what one person had to say about him:
Commissioner Mary Gray Black said Stanton's surprise announcement last week "caused stress, turmoil, distraction and work disruption" in the city. His contract says he can be fired without cause at any time.

"I do not feel he has the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect, nor the confidence to continue as the city manager of the city of Largo," said Black, who introduced a resolution to fire Stanton on Monday.
The integrity? Well, if Largo, Florida wanted to sweep this one under the rug, they just created one hell of a scandal. Read the rest of this post...

Pentagon punishing maimed Iraq vets at Walter Reed who helped media expose abuse scandal

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They hate the troops and love the war. Absolutely disgusting. Read the rest of this post...

Where has Karl gone?

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Read the rest of this post...

Dear Laura, it's not one attack a day in Iraq, it's 230

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Laura Bush, ace Iraq expert, made a little bit of a whoopsie on Larry King the other night. She said that Iraq was really going well, but that the big bad biased liberal media keeps reporting that one attack a day in an effort to make things look bad. Well, seems it's more like 180 attacks a day, and that's just against our troops. There are 50 attacks a day or so against civilians, making that 230 attacks a day. Looks like Mrs. Bush may have to return her PhD in Counterinsurgency.

From Stars and Stripes:
Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq averaged nearly 180 a day in January, the highest level since major combat operations ended and more than double the rate one year ago, according to intelligence officials.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday said the attacks matched the previous high, set in October 2006.

Attacks on civilians also reached a new high, with almost 50 per day in January, according to the agency. Attacks on Iraqi Security Forces remained consistent with recent months, at about 30 a day.
In all fairness to Mrs. Bush, she really mentioned "one bombing a day." Though we're clearly hearing about more than one bombing a day against civilians and our troops, and let's not forget to add in helicopter shoot downs and more. And in any case, if a shopping mall or a university a day were getting blown up in the US, would Mrs. Bush reassure us that it's only one a day? And speaking of comparisons with the US, Iraq has less than one-tenth the population of the US, so "one bombing a day" - and let's be clear, what she means is "one suicide bombing a day" - would be equal to 10 suicide bombings a day in the malls and universities and kids' soccer fields of America.

Yeah, no big deal, Laura. Read the rest of this post...

Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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What's happening in the world?

Get cranking. Read the rest of this post...

Only 2 super-efficient cars available in US compared to 113 in Europe

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Doggone socialists have all of the choices while the free market US economy has only two options. Sounds a lot like the old Soviet days when the Lada offered either with or without a radio. So where are all of the so-called free market Republicans? Oh that's right, they've been on the "let industry dictate policy" bandwagon and made sure they were lending a helping hand with the Soviet-ization of Big Auto, ridding them of any need to offer fuel efficiency. Who could ever forget Reagan starting the removal of fuel efficiency standards and then the Gingrich Congress implementing the final blow to any hope of minimum standards? Once again, witness Republican economics at work and try hard to figure out how it differs with Soviet style economics.
The research from the Civil Society Institute, a not-for-profit think tank that focuses on energy and ecological issues, shows a growing “fuel-efficient car gap.”

CSI found that the number of vehicle models sold in the United States that achieve combined gas mileage of at least 40 miles per gallon actually has dropped from five in 2005 to just two in 2007 — the Honda Civic hybrid and the Toyota Prius hybrid.

Overseas, primarily in Europe, there are 113 vehicles for sale that get a combined 40 mpg, up from 86 in 2005. Combined gas mileage is the average of a vehicle’s city and highway mpg numbers.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that nearly two-thirds of the 113 highly fuel-efficient models that are unavailable to American consumers are either made by U.S.-based automobile manufacturers or by foreign manufacturers with substantial U.S. sales operations, such as Nissan and Toyota.
The debate by some is that the European cars are using diesel which is dirty, though the new breed of diesels are much cleaner so relying on that excuse is no longer valid. Read the rest of this post...

Shanghai market has mild bounce, rest of Asia tumbles

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Plenty of mixed messages in the Asian markets with most of the trading down and China slightly up. The question today is whether this is a correction or the start of a downward trend. All of that said, we use the word "bubble" for a reason and bubbles do not last forever. As for the US market, the economics of funding a war with tax cuts and selling the debt to a bubble economy is certainly a novel idea and one that will no doubt be a case study in econ classes in the future. Read the rest of this post...

Troops missing counterinsurgency training because of Bush's "surge"

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They hate the troops and love the war.
Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases....

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on year-long tours.
Right, they're not missing out on anything important on their way to fight Iraq's insurgency - other than their counterinsurgency training.

Hat tip, Markos. Read the rest of this post...

Strom Thurmond "did many wonderful things for black people"

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Name one. Read the rest of this post...

Just look at the guy, clearly a perv

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From the Bay City Times. Read the rest of this post...

US military carries out "controlled explosion" near soccer field, wounds 30, including 9 children. Conflicting reports as to whether many kids died.

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This is a weird story. Earlier today, a blast near a soccer field in Ramadi kills scores of children. Also today, apparently, the US military conducted an explosion near a soccer field in Ramadi that hurt a bunch of children. But the US military is saying the deadly attack couldn't have happened, because they'd have known about it. At the same time, both of these attacks sound awful similar - like they may be the same explosion, i.e., one we caused.

Here's the OTHER blast in Ramadi that killed 18 boys near a soccer field:
A car bomb exploded Tuesday near a park popular with young soccer players, killing at least 18 boys in [Ramadi] a city west of Baghdad known as a center of the Sunni insurgency, police said.
And here's the blast the US military caused in the same town near a soccer field, injuring kids:
The U.S. military said its soldiers had carried out a controlled explosion in Ramadi, near a soccer field, that wounded 30 people, including nine children.
But here's where it gets stranger. The US says they can't imagine the deadly attack is real since they weren't aware of it:
Iraq's government and police said a bomb blast near a soccer field in the western city of Ramadi on Tuesday killed 18 people, mostly children, but the U.S. military said it was unaware of such an attack....

"I can't imagine there would be another attack involving children without our people knowing," said Major Jeff Pool, a spokesman for U.S. forces in western Anbar province. The wounded had cuts and bruises, he said [referring to the explosion the US caused near a soccer field].
So, is the attack that killed the children "real" or didn't it happen at all? And if it real, is it the SAME explosion that US caused, and if so, did we also kill children and no one is telling us? Read the rest of this post...

Stock market drops 9% in China, Dow falls more than 4%

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So who owns this economy? What brain trust thought that Guns & Butter II would somehow work better than the original which sunk the US into an economic quagmire for years? Let's remember that there have been voices out there who have criticized this administration for waging war while handing out tax cuts to the wealthiest and just running a tab on China's expense account so now that China is stumbling and the war debt is increasing, this most recent fiasco falls squarely in the hands of the Bush administration. When the other shoe drops and the real estate bubble bottoms out, it will be another fine mess these clowns got us into. Republican economics in action, also known as the perfect storm. Read the rest of this post...

House Republicans keeping terror tainted money

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The House Republicans must be desperate for funds. Clearly, they're really desperate for money because, despite criticism from both progressives and right wingers, the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) is keeping donations made by one of their major contributors, Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari. According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Alishtari was arrested "on attempt charges of terrorism financing, material support of terrorism, and international money laundering, as well as additional charges of conspiracy and wire fraud." Despite that, the House Republicans are keeping on to Alishtari's contributions.

The DCCC Stakeholder has more.

Okay, let's just ask: how loud would the outcry be if Democrats held on to terror-tainted money? Read the rest of this post...

Another edition of: We have no idea what's going on in Iraq

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The news that U.S. forces arrested a close relative (reports have varied, some saying son and others saying nephew) of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is infuriating for a number of reasons. Last week we arrested a convoy of people traveling from Iran to Iraq, which sounds to me like an intelligence tip-off rather than a random operation. There is a huge amount of traffic between Iran and Iraq, so to coincidentally go after a group that includes an extremely influential member of SCIRI, a leading Shia political party, seems unlikely. It's also unlikely that we knew it would include Ammar al-Hakim, judging by his swift release and subsequent official apology, so I'd be very curious to know how the operation was established.

However it happened, it is yet another clear sign that our executive and military leadership has no idea how to handle Iraq, either tactically or strategically. We can't identify people, we don't recognize political or tribal affiliations, and it's impossible to trust intelligence tips when there's a good chance they're being used to settle scores. In this case, we couldn't even figure out whether we were sorry or not -- Ambassador Khalilzad apologized but the military defended the arrest the very next day.

Hakim also alleged mistreatment, and reportedly some of the group is still in custody, but the quick release also brings up an important point: either he did something wrong, in which case we should have proven his wrongdoing instead of releasing him, or, much more likely, we arrested him for no good reason. Reports circulate widely (and wildly) that we incarcerate hundreds or thousands of people without charge or anything resembling due process, which is just horrendous as a counterinsurgency tactic, a bad way to establish democracy, and, of course, a disgrace for a country that values freedom and the rule of law.

Finally, we don't even know what side (or sides) we're taking in this ongoing debacle. Just a few weeks ago reports indicated support for an "80% plan", i.e., supporting the Shia (60% of the population) and Kurds (20%), and now we're apparently backing Sunnis across the region to repel some mythical Shia expansionism. So we toppled a secular and manageable Sunni regime to install a majority (Shia) government, and now the administration is mad about this? It really is unbelievable. Read the rest of this post...

Is Laura Bush getting top secret briefings on Iraq, or is she just a liar?

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Laura Bush is either getting top secret briefings on the situation in Iraq, or she's a liar. I think the public deserves to know which.

As Joe reported last night, the White House dragged Laura Bush out before the cameras, again, and as they always do when things aren't going well for them. This time, Laura went on Larry King as an expert on Iraq policy. Here's what she had to say:
Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.
Really? And how does the happy homemaker know this? How does Laura Bush know that many parts of Iraq are stable - and apparently she knows this through other sources that are NOT the media, since she informs us that the media isn't telling us the "real" story about Iraq.

So if Laura know the "real story" about Iraq, that isn't available to the public through the media, then Laura must be privvy to insider information about Iraq, classified information, and I'd like to know why. Because if she's not being fed classified information that we aren't privvy to, then the woman is a liar. And if Bush is going to use his wife to justify the biggest foreign policy disaster in decades, if not ever, then the public has the right to call her on her bullshit. Read the rest of this post...

Mostly kids killed by Iraq car bombing at soccer game

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Last night, Laura Bush told the world that many parts of Iraq were, in fact, stable. She blamed the media for covering that "one bombing a day that discourages everyone."

Easy for Laura Bush to say. This bombing isn't just discouraging, it's horrifying:
A car bomb exploded Tuesday near a park popular with young soccer players, killing at least 18 boys in a city west of Baghdad known as a center of the Sunni insurgency, police said.

The bomb-rigged car blew apart in central Ramadi late Tuesday afternoon while the boys were playing, and police said those killed were ages 10 to 15. The attack was also reported on Iraqi state television. The Interior Ministry did not immediately comment.

Young people are often caught in Iraq's daily bloodshed. On Sunday, more than 40 people, mostly college students, were killed in a bombing outside a mostly Shiite college in Baghdad.
Young Iraqis dying. Young soldiers dying. Too bad the media is discouraging everyone. Read the rest of this post...

Owners of Seattle Sonics/Storm gave $1.1 million to Gary Bauer's anti-gay marriage campaign

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Dan Savage's "Slog" uncovered the rather disturbing fact that two of the owners of the WNBA team in Seattle, the Seattle Sonics/Storm, appear to have donated most of the budget to religious right homophobe Gary Bauer's anti-gay marriage campaign. From Slog:
The campaign finance records I’ve reviewed show that Sonics/Storm co-owner Tom Ward has contributed $475,000 to Gary L. Bauer’s Americans United to Preserve Marriage.

And another Sonics/Storm co-owner, Aubrey McClendon, contributed $625,000.

Both men made their first contributions to the group, $250,000 apiece, on September 8, 2004—the day after the group was formed.

As I said, the controversial group doled out $1,056,962 in the 2004 election cycle, which means Storm owners Ward and McClendon basically bankrolled the whole thing. Indeed, records show that between the 2004 and 2006 cycles the group spent $1.3 million total while Ward and McClendon’s donations total $1.1 million.
Savage's paper contacted the team for comment, they didn't get back to him, but did to the local paper. Check out their response:
People are entitled to have their views, they are not views that I happen to agree with but they are not trying to impose them on anyone out here.
Yeah, $1.1 million for a campaign to jam conservative Christian laws down our throats, to force all Americans to live under Baptist religious principles - that, according to the Seattle Sonics/Storm is "not trying to impose" your views on anyone.

Kiss that team goodbye. It's bad enough to be massively huge bigots. It's even worse to get all pissy and lie about it. And as Dan mentioned to me, "their games are attended mostly by lesbians."

Not anymore. Read the rest of this post...

Maryland promoting environmentally friendly cars

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Once the new Democratic governor signs the bill, Maryland will become the eleventh state to follow the California model.
The measure is designed to force manufacturers to sell fewer gas-guzzling SUVs and other large vehicles and to instead market more hybrids and other cars with fuel-efficient engines.

Automakers must cut fleetwide emissions of global warming gases -- that is, the average emissions of all the cars they sell in Maryland -- by 30 percent by 2016 or face fines.

To meet this goal, car companies will have to offer financial incentives to encourage people to buy smaller cars and vehicles that emit less carbon dioxide, a gas that scientists have concluded is warming the atmosphere.
Read the rest of this post...

Food problems connected to GOP cuts

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While the Republicans love selling themselves to their core supporters as the team who have made important cuts in the federal government, here is yet another example of the end result and what it means in the real world. We already know what they've done to US vets and with this most recent outbreak of food illness related to the American kids staple peanut butter, it has become painfully obvious that GOP cuts continue to risk the lives of millions of Americans.
The federal agency that’s been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage of high-profile food recalls.

“We have a food safety crisis on the horizon,” said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.

Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety inspections dropped 47 percent, according to a database analysis of federal records by The Associated Press.
But at least the Republicans got another round of tax cuts and the richest Americans are doing just fine. Read the rest of this post...

Tuesday Morning Open Thread

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I guess the intelligence reports about a resurgent Taliban are accurate. Maybe now the Bush Administration will take these reports seriously. Not that they can do anything since Bush and Cheney have the U.S. pinned down in Iraq. Maddening.

Get it started. Read the rest of this post...

Bomber attacks Bagram Air Base during Cheney visit

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But not to worry, Cheney will still not be able to admit that there's a problem.
The attack occurred inside one of the security gates surrounding the heavily guarded base some 60 kilometres (37 miles) north of the capital Kabul.

"It was a suicide bombing. It took place between the main gate and the gate guarded by American soldiers," said Bagram district governor Kabir Ahmad.

"We don't have an exact figure but it's said that two have been killed and about 18 wounded," he said. A local police officer said the area had been sealed off by US troops.
It's hard to say what it would take for this crowd to admit their failures but for most, this attack would be a red flag. Let's see what Cheney's office has to say later on today. Read the rest of this post...

Bush and GOP are breaking the military

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The new report detailing the problems created by the botched war in Afghanistan and unnecessary war in Iraq comes straight from the top.
Strained by the demands of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a significant risk that the U.S. military won't be able to quickly and fully respond to yet another crisis, according to a new report to Congress.

The assessment, done by the nation's top military officer, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represents a worsening from a year ago, when that risk was rated as moderate.

The report is classified, but on Monday senior defense officials, speaking on condition on anonymity, confirmed the decline in overall military readiness. And a report that accompanied Pace's review concluded that while the Pentagon is working to improve its warfighting abilities, it "may take several years to reduce risk to acceptable levels."
Any normal, level-headed person might think this is the time for discussions and dialog with Iran, but that's not the case with the GOP leadership who just don't seem to get it. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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I'm exhausted. Will give you my CNN stories in the morning, including my thrill at realizing the man standing next to me in the Green Room was Bill Donohue. You remember him: The guy who went after the Edwards campaign bloggers and who thinks that Christian-hating Jews run Hollywood (and apparently like anal sex). Read the rest of this post...

A couple miles from Walter Reed, Bush claims to support the troops at a GOP fundraiser

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When those Republicans get together, they like to pretend they support the troops:
"Our men and women in uniform risk their lives to carry out our plan to support this new democracy and to secure Baghdad," Bush said. "And wherever members may stand on my decision, we have a solemn responsibility to give our troops the resources and the flexibility they need to prevail."
Sure. Give the troops what they need -- like they do out at Walter Reed, which is just a couple miles from the site of the big GOP fundraiser where Bush spoke tonight.

Bush hasn't given the troops the resources they've needed for four years now. Do the words "body armor" ring a bell? Hell, resources shmesources. How about giving them a plan for victory?

Republicans don't support the troops. They say they do, a lot. But, just because they say it, doesn't make it true.

George Bush's motto is "Hate the troops, love the war." Read the rest of this post...

Laura Bush: Iraq is mostly stable, it's just that "one bombing a day that discourages everyone"

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Laura Bush, Iraq expert, just now on Larry King Live:
Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.
Yeah, it's such a great place that Iraq. So stable, well, except for that pesky "one bombing a day." Once again, Laura Bush blames the media -- and Larry King let her get away with it, of course. Laura should talk to CNN's Michael Ware about that -- actually Larry King should talk to him, too.

That damn Reuters said there were at least two bombings today:
Iraq's Shi'ite vice president and a cabinet minister were wounded in an apparent assassination attempt on Monday when a bomb killed six people at a ministry in Baghdad where they were attending a ceremony.

Near the volatile western city of Ramadi, a suicide bomber blew up an ambulance at a police station, killing 14 people including women and children, a local hospital official said.
Otherwise, it's a really stable place.

Larry asked Laura Bush about the twins, but he didn't ask the most important question: Since, things are going so well in Iraq, Laura, have your daughters signed up for a tour of duty yet? Read the rest of this post...

Congress needs to support the American people by opposing the escalation and adopting the Murtha plan

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More numbers from the Washington Post-ABC News that show the country is way ahead of the politicians on the war. Two-thirds of Americans oppose the escalation of the Iraq war; 53% of Americans want a deadline for withdrawal; and by a wide margin, Americans support Murtha's plan:
There was clear support, however, for the kinds of conditions proposed by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who wants to establish requirements for the training and resting of military units that would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available to send to Iraq.

Murtha's plan has drawn fire in the House, including from some of his Democratic colleagues, after it was unveiled on a liberal Web site. The Post-ABC News poll, which did not associate the plan with Murtha, found that 58 percent of Americans said they support such new rules. Even some Americans, 21 percent, who supported the president's troop surge said they would favor rules for training and resting troops.
The American people want this war over. Read the rest of this post...

Open Thread

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John is on CNN's Paula Zahn show tonight commenting on some of the news of the day. What are your comments on the news of the day? Read the rest of this post...

Blog that called for execution of gays nixed

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Good. Read the rest of this post...

Dissension in the ranks

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60 Minutes:
To many in America's armed forces, these men and women are doing the unthinkable: active duty soldiers, sailors and marines speaking out against the ongoing conflict in Iraq. They've signed on to what's called "An Appeal for Redress" - and they say it's time for U.S. troops to come home. Lara Logan has the story.
Read the rest of this post...

FOX's John Gibson chooses Anna Nicole Smith over Iraq

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Woah. Just when you think the talking heads at FOX can't sink any lower, they do. During his radio show, FOX's John Gibson mocked reporters (namely Anderson Cooper) who are covering the war instead of Anna Nicole Smith. Think Progress has the transcript and the audio.
[CLIP ANDERSON COOPER] There’s a war on, there’s a war on, there’s a war on.

GIBSON: My complaint about this is what you’re listening to when you hear that guy lecture the audience, is you’re listening to news-guy snobbery. Essentially saying, “I’m better than you. I know what you want to hear about, but I’m better than that story. I’m too high class for that story. I won’t stoop to what you want to hear about.” I’m not playing that. People want to hear about the Anna Nicole story, I’m happy to tell them.
I guess if I worked at the GOP's media mouthpiece, I wouldn't want to talk about the failed war policy of George Bush either. But to malign reporters who are covering the work and sacrifice of U.S. soldiers is outrageous. Another classic example of right wingers actually dissing the troops they claim to support.

If the media gave nearly as much attention to the deaths of U.S. soldiers as they have given to the death of Anna Nicole, the U.S. would be out of Iraq. The American people are already over Bush and his war -- even with the limited coverage Fox wants the war to receive. Read the rest of this post...

Senate to hold hearings on Walter Reed debacle

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Excellent. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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On my way to NYC to be on Paula Zahn's TV show again tonight, 8pm Eastern (it's usually 3 segments throughout the hour). The topics are a bit odd, including the Sorority kicking out ugly members, and a discussion of whether black people can be "too white." Yes, definitely my expertise :-) Read the rest of this post...

Bush's "Iran-Contra"?

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From ThinkProgress
New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the “single most explosive” element of his latest article involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.

Hersh says the U.S. has been “pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight” for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to “stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.” Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of “three Sunni jihadist groups” who are “connected to al Qaeda” but “want to take on Hezbollah.”

Hersh summed up his scoop in stark terms: “We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11.”
Read the rest of this post...

Governors worry that Bush is breaking the National Guard

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Uh, yeah. Read the rest of this post...

Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq

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There is very strong opposition to Bush's Iraq policy. The American people are against the war. That's the overwhelmingly mainstream position these days:
Although trimmed, the Democrats maintain a substantial edge on the war in large measure because of Bush's low ratings on handling the situation in Iraq. Two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how the President is handling the Iraq war; 31 percent approve. And intensity continues to run against Bush on the issue: Fifty-five percent "strongly disapprove" of his work there, while only 17 percent "strongly approve" of it.
The American people have been way ahead of the politicians on Iraq for awhile.

But watch the Republican Senators shut down any effort to curtail Bush's failed policy. The GOP won't rein in Bush. They are, in fact, supporting Bush. If they want to be the 31% party, so be it.

The American people want action to stop the war. Read the rest of this post...

Bush and Cheney admit Democrats are forcing them to get tough on terror

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Okay. This is rich.

Last week, Dick Cheney was trashing Democrats claiming wrongly that any effort to get the U.S. out of Iraq would enable al Qaeda.

This week, Dick Cheney is on a "secret visit" to Pakistan. His purpose is to tell Pakistan's leaders that Democrats are forcing the Bush Administration to get tough on terror:
Vice President Dick Cheney made an unannounced trip to Pakistan on Monday to deliver what officials in Washington described as an unusually tough message to Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces become far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda.
Yes, the Democrats are forcing the Bush Administration to take a tougher stance on Al Qaeda. Read the rest of this post...

Monday Morning Open Thread

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This should be another interesting week. The Republican Senators can reaffirm their unyielding support for their President and his failed war. Bush is leading his party off a cliff. Unfortunately, he's taking the country with him.

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

Health care for children: "It's a matter of doing the right thing"

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So which party is saying such words related to the Bush plan to hack health care for America's children? Both, actually, though this particular quote is from Republican governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Bush and his team would rather hand over tax breaks to the wealthy over basic health care for those who our own children who are indeed America's future. As someone who has experienced both the US health care system as well as the system in France, I wish the extremists on the GOP right would quite demonizing basic coverage for citizens and get serious about addressing a problem that even conservatives recognize.

Of course the system in France is expensive and taxes are needed to fund the system, as there is no magic that create it out of nothing. Besides the taxes paid to fund the system plus private health insurance, our costs are still considerably less compared to friends and family in the US. With so many people being uninsured in such a wealth country and with bipartisan support from across the country, it is high time our politicians put aside the pandering to extremist groups and think about the good of the country. Read the rest of this post...

Another ugly day in Iraq - 41 killed at university

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What kind of a person can still see this war as a good thing? It never seems to get better, but only more of the same at best, worse and worse many days.
A female suicide bomber triggered a ball bearing-packed charge Sunday, killing at least 41 people at a mostly Shiite college whose main gate was left littered with blood-soaked student notebooks and papers amid the bodies.

Witnesses said a woman carried out the attack at the business school annex to Mustansiriyah University. Interior Ministry officials said they were still investigating those reports. The school’s main campus was hit by a string of bombings last month that killed 70 people.

The attack came as the powerful Shiite militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr said an ongoing security crackdown in Baghdad was doomed to fail because of U.S. involvement and suggested he was rethinking his cooperation. He bitterly complained that “car bombs continue to explode” in the capital despite the new security push.
Read the rest of this post...

Always assume the camera is on you

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Read the rest of this post...

An Oscar for Al Gore

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UPDATE FROM JOHN: Best Oscar quote ever, from Chris Connolly, moments ago, at 11:57pm Eastern, "now it gets interesting." It would have to. This is the WORST Oscars ever. They put practically every good award off to the end, didn't even bother scattering them throughout the show. Horrendous.

Best Documentary for "An Inconvenient Truth."

The Washington Post profiled the former Vice President today suggesting he is "America's coolest ex-Vice President ever." It's true (but there's not a lot of competition.) Read the rest of this post...

Oscars Open Thread

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We're busy watching over dinner with friends. Thoughts? Read the rest of this post...

Condi says over 60% of the American people want to appease Hitler

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That's the percentage of Americans who think the war is mistake. Condi thinks you like Hitler. We think Condi likes quaaludes. Read the rest of this post...

GOP didn't investigate Walter Reed to prevent embarrassing Bush

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Think Progress has a post with video that says everything we need to know about the GOP:
On NBC’s Meet the Press today, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) argued that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not conduct oversight of the treatment at military facilities in recent years because “they did not want to embarrass the President.”
Support Bush, not the troops is the GOP's new mantra. Read the rest of this post...

Report: Top generals/admirals will resign in protest if Bush launches war with Iran

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From the Sunday Times (London)
SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”

A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.

“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”

A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
Read the rest of this post...

Bush/Cheney ignoring the war on terror -- again

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George Bush and his cronies are constantly puffing out their chests and talking tough about Iraq and terror. Dick Cheney invoked al Qaeda in a vicious attack on leading Democrats. They're sounding like they did in 2002. Same language, same threats -- but it's mostly just for political purposes. Bush and Cheney should be thinking back to 2001 when they ignored Bin Laden and al Qaeda the first time. Frank Rich shows us that it is 2001 all over again:
The White House doesn’t want to hear it now, either. That’s why terrorism experts are trying to get its attention by goingpublic, and not just through The Times. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the C.I.A. bin Laden unit, told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann last week that the Taliban and Al Qaeda, having regrouped in Afghanistan and Pakistan, “are going to detonate a nuclear device inside the United States” (the real United States, that is, not the fictional stand-in where this same scenario can be found on “24”). Al Qaeda is “on the march” rather than on the run, the Georgetown University and West Point terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman told Congress. Tony Blair is pulling troops out of Iraq not because Basra is calm enough to be entrusted to Iraqi forces — it’s “not ready for transition,” according to the Pentagon’s last report — but to shift some British resources to the losing battle against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

This is why the entire debate about the Iraq “surge” is as much a sideshow as Britney’s scalp. More troops in Baghdad are irrelevant to what’s going down in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The surge supporters who accuse the Iraq war’s critics of emboldening the enemy are trying to deflect attention from their own complicity in losing a bigger battle: the one against the enemy that actually did attack us on 9/11. Who lost Iraq? is but a distraction from the more damning question, Who is losing the war on terrorism?

The record so far suggests that this White House has done so twice.

Note to the media: Just because Bush says he's fighting the war on terror, doesn't mean it's true. Yesterday, the Army's Chief of Staff said of capturing or killing Bin Laden, "I don't know that it's all that important, frankly."

Frankly, that was the attitude of George Bush and Dick Cheney back in 2001. Look where that got us. Read the rest of this post...

Sunday Talk Shows Open Thread

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Iraq, Iran and the already fast-paced Presidential race are swirling around the Sunday shows today. The Senate Democrats are gearing up to rescind the 2002 war authorization -- the Republicans are still talking like it is 2002. Condi Rice is going to report on (or spin) yet another unsuccessful Mideast trip, which included a "surprise visit" to Iraq to survey the "success" of the escalation. Here's the line up:
FOX NEWS SUNDAY...: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D).

THIS WEEK (ABC...: Rice and former president Jimmy Carter.

NEWSMAKERS (C-SPAN), 10 a.m. [EST]: U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

FACE THE NATION (CBS...: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC....: Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.).

LATE EDITION (CNN), 11 a.m.[EST]: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie and former secretaries of state Madeleine K. Albright and Henry Kissinger.
Provide commentary and the real analysis. Read the rest of this post...

Prodi government survives, for now

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If Italian PM Prodi manages to survive in power for another year, it might be a miracle. Tripped up by a vote that related to the US, members of his varied coalition grumbled and handed him a defeat. After thinking more about what happens if Prodi is ousted brought back memories of Berlusconi, who could possibly take power again. The result is a temporary victory for Prodi, who will return to power, but the big question is how long Prodi's delicate hold on power will continue. Read the rest of this post...

16 million Americans living in "deep or severe poverty"

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Just as a select few executives are hitting highs never seen before, millions of others are dropping to depths not seen in decades. Even more predictably the negative growth has accelerated during the Bush years.
Based on the latest available US census data from 2005, the McClatchy Newspapers analysis found that almost 16 million Americans live in "deep or severe poverty" defined as a family of four with two children earning less than 9,903 dollars -- one half the federal poverty line figure.

For individuals the "deep poverty" threshold was an income under 5,080 dollars a year.

"The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005," the US newspaper chain reported.

"That's 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period," it noted.

The surge in poverty comes alongside an unusual economic expansion.

"Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries," the study found.
Well, at least our corporate executives are doing better than ever and that's all that really counts, right? Read the rest of this post...

Pentagon drafting plans to bomb Iran

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What the hell. We can't win two wars, so let's have three! These people are seriously nuts. Oh, but the plans are to "just" bomb Iran's ability to help the insurgents in Iraq. Uh, ok. And what do we do when the Iranians decide to flood across the boarder and hit us back? Of course, this is exactly what Bush wants to have happen - he wants all out war with Iran. The problem is the Iranians know that we don't have the ability anymore to fight a third war against them. So what the hell is Bush doing? We have an idiot as president. Read the rest of this post...

"I need to wake up" Open Thread

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We all need to wake up. Below is the video of "I need to Wake up," which is the Academy Award nominated song from Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Gore has been in the news a lot lately. I can't stop thinking how different the world would be if Al Gore was actually been elected in 2000. How many people would still be alive? Thousands. Gore knew Bin Laden was a threat. And, we wouldn't be in Iraq. New Orleans would still be a vibrant city. And, maybe the polars bear wouldn't be drowning.

Thanks Digby. Read the rest of this post...

Secret club of right wingers and theocrats can't find a GOP candidate to love

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Life's tough these days for the hard core leaders of the hard core right wing. They're having a hard time anointing the next GOP nominee. They've been huddling at a top-secret meeting in Florida trying to find someone to love:
The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign.

But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election.

Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, who once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, a liberal on abortion and gay rights issues who has been married three times.

But many were also deeply suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; the council has been distributing to its members a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights and gun control. Mr. Romney says he has become more conservative.
So, try as they might, apparently, McCain, Giuliani and Romney can't pander enough to the wingers.

This AP article about Romney's polygamist ancestors probably won't help him with the theocrats. And, a new Quinnipiac poll that Josh Marshall posted showing homo-loving, anti-gun, pro-choice Rudy with a big lead is probably making some heads explode down there at the secret club meeting in Florida. Read the rest of this post...

Death of a gay rights pioneer

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Washington Post editorial:
EVERY MOVEMENT for equal rights has its pioneers. Some are well known: Rosa Parks, César Chávez, Betty Friedan. Then there are those who display unparalleled courage but never get the recognition they deserve. Gay rights activist Barbara Gittings was one of those people. She died of breast cancer at her home in Pennsylvania on Feb. 18; she was 75.

The Austrian-born daughter of a U.S. diplomat, Ms. Gittings came out in the 1950s, a time when few homosexuals were seen or heard openly. In May 1965, four years before the Stonewall Riots in New York City that ushered in the modern gay rights movement, Ms. Gittings and 25 other homosexuals picketed the White House to protest employment discrimination in the federal government.

The sign she carried -- "Sexual preference is irrelevant to federal employment" -- is now at the Smithsonian....
Read the rest of this post...

Bush and Rumsfeld broke the Army. Now, they're breaking the lives of soldiers.

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Never, ever should anyone in the Bush Administration be allowed to utter the phrase "we support the troops." This week, we saw just how the Bush Administration has neglected and abused the troops who were injured in the Bush-led war. The Washington Post series on Walter Reed has exposed the brutal treatment experienced by injured U.S. soldiers and their families at the hands of the Bush-led government that sent them to war. Unfortunately, Walter Reed, the flagship medical facility in the Army, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Columnist Ann McFeatters visited Walter Reed this week. She isn't buying the spin from the military leaders:
But the point is that crumbling infrastructure, inhumane bureaucracy and inadequate treatment for mental disorders have been known about for years and have been permitted to continue.

The month before The Post’s series ran, a conference on “quality of life” problems faced by soldiers, their families and civilian staff at Walter Reed found a long list of “issues.” They included: soldiers not getting benefits to travel as scheduled; lack of direction for emergency family care; unequal benefits based on the locale where a soldier is injured and not on the extent of injuries; and no overall plan to help wounded warriors through their convalescence.
While the Army is responsible for Walter Reed, there is a larger problem. And, that starts at the top.

Given that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld had no real plans for the post-war period, it's not a surprise that the care of our soldiers never registered with them. "Support the troops" makes a great slogan. But, as we all know, actions speak louder than words with that crowd. McFeatters nails the situation:
When former defense chief Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush were planning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, did they never think to determine how the wounded would be helped? Did they not know that today’s injured soldiers are dealing with far more horrific injuries than in the past because battlefield medicine keeps more of them alive?

Walter Reed is supposed to close in 2011. But facilities to handle its patients have not been built, renovated or expanded. Funds may not be scarce for cool new weapons, but they are exceedingly scarce for real soldiers.

If the Army is broken, as many believe, Rumsfeld and Bush broke it. And fixing it is proving more difficult than fixing the courageous soldiers the administration sent to war and who came back broken.
Bush's administration broke the Army. They're breaking the lives of wounded soldiers. Ultimately, they're breaking this country. Aren't we really better than all of this?

Thanks to (Army Vet) John in Boston for the heads up on this one. Read the rest of this post...

If Al Gore wins an Oscar on Sunday will he run for the presidency, should he?

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From CNN. Would you like to see Al Gore enter the race? Read the rest of this post...

Top Pentagon official says getting Bin Laden -- who has "re-established significant control" over Al Qaeda -- is no big deal

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Wow. Seriously. Osama Bin Laden launched an attack on the U.S. that killed 3,000 people. Looks like the Bush Administration is prepared to let him get away with it. The U.S. Army's highest ranking officer said getting the terrorist who led the attack is not that important. What kind of message does that send to the terrorists?

Earlier this week, The NY Times reported that Bin Laden and his allies have "re-established significant control" over a resurgent Bin Laden:
American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.
That disturbing report makes sense now that we know our leaders don't think capturing Bin Laden is worth the effort according to a report in today's Washington Post:
The Army's highest-ranking officer said Friday that he was unsure whether the U.S. military would capture or kill Osama bin Laden, adding, "I don't know that it's all that important, frankly."

"So we get him, and then what?" asked Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the outgoing Army chief of staff, at a Rotary Club of Fort Worth luncheon. "There's a temporary feeling of goodness, but in the long run, we may make him bigger than he is today.

"He's hiding, and he knows we're looking for him. We know he's not particularly effective. I'm not sure there's that great of a return" on capturing or killing bin Laden
The Bush Administration didn't take Bin Laden seriously in early 2001. They're not taking him seriously now.

Instead, Bush and Cheney only invoke Bin Laden and al Qaeda for their own warped political purposes. Just this week, Dick Cheney had the audacity to bring up al Qaeda in yet another partisan political attack on Democrats. What a fraud. If Bush and Cheney had done their jobs, al Qaeda wouldn't be a force anymore. Instead, the Bush Administration has enabled and emboldened the terror network. Now, apparently, it's Bush policy to let Bin Laden get away with the mass murder of Americans. Beyond shocking.

Bush and Cheney have not only enabled Bin Laden, they've made him a legend. Read the rest of this post...

New Dept of Justice program for the religious right

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It's designed to help spread the word that religious freedom is a-okay in America (because, being the good communist country we are, we need a propaganda campaign to ensure our "freedom"). Attorney General Gonzales is also urging Americans to come forward and report when their religious liberty is being curtailed.

Great, I'll go first. Where's the form to report that Attorney General Gonzales and his boss, President Death and Incompetence, want to force the rest of us Christians (and otherwise) to live under laws, constitutional amendments, and executive branch policies written to conform with the Baptist faith? Read the rest of this post...

Saturday Morning Open Thread

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Okay, get it cranking. There's plenty to discuss....but what's the latest? Read the rest of this post...

Obama targets Cheney

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Time to bring Cheney back to the real world.
Obama, speaking at a massive outdoor rally in Austin, Texas, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision this week to withdraw 1,600 troops is a recognition that Iraq's problems can't be solved militarily.

"Now if Tony Blair can understand that, then why can't George Bush and Dick Cheney understand that?" Obama asked thousands of supporters who gathered in the rain to hear him. "In fact, Dick Cheney said this is all part of the plan (and) it was a good thing that Tony Blair was withdrawing, even as the administration is preparing to put 20,000 more of our young men and women in.

"Now, keep in mind, this is the same guy that said we'd be greeted as liberators, the same guy that said that we're in the last throes. I'm sure he forecast sun today," Obama said to laughter from supporters holding campaign signs over their heads to keep dry. "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."
Read the rest of this post...

Blair now the "I didn't do it" guy

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I thought Bush had that ground pretty well covered, but Blair is now getting defensive about his role in the miserably failed war in Iraq. It's no wonder he has dragged the entire Labour Party down since he is as out of touch with reality as Bush and Cheney.
"No American general ... was given the accountable responsibility to make sure that the first duty of any government — and we were the government — was to keep law and order on the streets," Greenstock said. "There was a vacuum from the beginning into which the looters, the saboteurs, the criminals, the insurgents, moved very quickly."

Blair rejected suggestions that U.S.-led coalition forces were unprepared for the invasion's aftermath, particularly the sectarian violence, in a BBC radio interview.

"When we removed Saddam and his police and army, of course part of the establishment of repression, then we had to rebuild it," Blair said. "Where I don't agree with Jeremy is that no one was thinking about rebuilding it. We actually were."
Touchy, touchy. There is a considerable difference between thinking about a problem and acting on those thoughts. Blair was all too happy to charge into war with Bush but despite the rumors (that his own team no doubt started) that he was there to moderate Bush, he did nothing and still has nothing to show for his supposed efforts. Combined they all convinced themselves that flowers would be welcoming them and that somehow things would all just take shape the way Chalabi and the neocons said it would. Guess again. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Orchid Blogging

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Colmanara Wildcat (now called Odontocidium Wildcat - ridiculous new name)

This is a relative, kind of, of the plant I showed you last week, the Sharry Baby. They're both oncidium type orchids, grow long spikes with lots of flowers. I just love Colmanara Wildcat, but it doesn't love me, or rather it didn't. Until I got some grow lights, the poor thing just died, and finally it's coming back. Hopefully mine will bloom in a year or so. This picture, I think, is from mine when I first got it (though it might be someone else's, I can't recall now!). Anyway, it's a gorgeous plant, supposedly not hard to grow, but that's not my story. You can see another picture I found online that shows more of the flowers and some of the plant here. There are a number of different types of Colmanara Wildcats, I think mine is Carmela (like the wonderdog), but not sure.

Enjoy. JOHN Read the rest of this post...

72-year old Gay bashing victim dies from injuries

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Earlier this week, Andy at Towleroad made us aware of the brutal and senseless gay bashing of a 72 year old resident of Detroit. Today, the victim, Andrew Anthos, died from his injuries:
Though Anthos, 72, was visiting with friends as recently as Wednesday, his condition declined rapidly in the past two days and he was administered the last rites late Thursday in Detroit Receiving Hospital.

The attack, which left Anthos paralyzed from the neck down and virtually without speech, shocked the gay community, which reached out to his family with love and support -- as well as anger and a resolve for justice.

"There's going to be a great deal more attention now that this, unfortunately, has become a homicide," said Jeffrey Montgomery of Michigan's Triangle Foundation.

"We have worked with prosecutors here for many years, and all the buttons that can be pushed are being pushed right now," Montgomery said.
Don't tell us hate crimes don't matter. Don't tell us we don't need protections. Don't tell us we need to move on. Don't tell us that while members of our community are still being bashed. And, don't be mistaken: We're still not safe in America.

And a quick note: The religious right is lying to you. They say they oppose hate crimes legislation. No they don't. There already is a federal hate crimes law, and it covers the religious right (race, color, religion or national origin). What we're proposing is that the current federal law be broadened to include everyone (gender, disability and sexual orientation). The religious right is crowing about how this will make it a crime to criticize gay people. News flash, I criticize the religious right - they're a bunch of hateful loons - every day on this blog, and I'm obviously not going to jail. They're liars. If we're going to have a hate crimes law, it should cover everyone. Fair is fair. Read the rest of this post...

Small world

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I'd posted eralier tonight a link to a Trompe l'Oeil expert who draws 3-D images on sidewalks. Well guess what, I photographed him at work in Edinburgh, Scotland and didn't even realize it was him until moments ago when I found the scene I photographed on the artist's Web site.

The scene, photographed by me from the correct side (and actually there's a better photo of it on his Web site).

The same scene, photographed from the wrong side.

You can check out lots more of his work here. And this one might be my favorite. Read the rest of this post...

Cliff's Corner

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The Week That Was 2/23/07

Another week, more preposterousness to report.

So The Nevada Democratic Party somehow thinks it makes sense to have the closest living relative to Burmese State Television, the FoxNews Channel, televise a debate that will help choose our presidential nominee.

C'mon guys, you can tell us, is this secret plan to seduce Bill Bennett to the Luxor so you can plan for some major slots-based revenue enhancements? Because if there's one thing we know, it's that what happens to Bill Bennett's money in Las Vegas is that it stays in Las Vegas.

Yet, if this is not part of the plan, then this idea is so stupid, so very stupid, I am left speechless--kinda like Ted Stevens pondering the various complexities and spiritual implications of that series of tubes known as the Internets. The one and only Robert Greewald (discosure: we have worked together on projects and he has actually followed the capitalist ethic of paying me for my work) has just released a short film that is devastating, as his films always are, in displaying the level FoxNews will go to to discredit Democrat Barack Obama in his presidential quest.

I mean, does the Republican Party hand over its debates to the AFL-CIO? Does George W. Bush hand over his weekly radio slot to Jim Webb? Does Karl Rove plan his political campaigns around attacking gays because of a secret self-loathing due to his father's open homosexuality, a gap he fills by compulsively eating, growing his head to Zeppelinesque proportions and then developing a kindergarten plan for 2006, only to lose his enduring Republican majority to his own greed and stupidity?

Bad example.

Ok, doo I go on Rush Limbaugh's show? Well, no, because he doesn't seem to like me much. Here's what he had to say about me today (for real):
RUSH: Last night on CNN's Paula Zahn Now they were talking about hip-hop, the music, the culture, and the lyrics. Somehow my name came up in this discussion. The guest was somebody named Cliff Schecter, an expert. Never heard of him. He's from, and this is what he said.

SCHECTER: There's misogyny throughout our culture. We just elected a new speaker of the House and Nancy Pelosi is a woman and all we heard all week were on her pantsuits, what this one looked like, what that one looked like. We didn't hear things about policy. You've got people on the right who are going out and screaming every day, people like Rush Limbaugh who scream feminazi, feminazi, feminazi.
He, of course, left out the part where I said after that last quote something like "and that's even when he's not on his usual pound of Oxycontin" (yes, I really did). Read the rest of what Limbaugh had to say about me, he's completely flummoxed.

Yet, in any case, go check out Robert's petition to OutFox the Fox folks and have the debate be covered by a less-biased source, like the White House. The petition should be easy to find when you get to the web page. Now, equally amusing, is Bill O'Reilly's recent paranoid, bed-wetting inspired hysteria over how NBC is "so liberal." Because, that's what I think when I look at a former sportscaster on MSNBC who leans left, whose time slot is surrounded by a right-wing pundit (Tucker), a former Democrat who voted for Bush in 2000 (The Hardball himself) and a former uber-conservative GOP Congressman (Scarborough). I guess you're so used to seeing the airwaves filled with extremist ideological diarrhea, Bill, that having one person with a different view than yours for one hour an evening would be just crazy diverse.

Oh and Bill, you may have missed it, but NBC weekend anchor Campell Brown is married to former CPA Administrator in Iraq, overall Bush lackey and new FOX CONTRIBUTOR Dan Senor. She must be a flaming liberal!

But in the spirit of your challenge, let's just examine the backgrounds of some of the big cheeses at Fox (and we'll even leave you out Bill, as a courtesy, because I'm good that way).

Rupert Murdoch, Owner of NewsCorp - Gives lots of dough. I am guessing 75-85% goes Republican by the looks of it (you do the math). His son was a really crappy distance runner on my high school track team and it still pisses me off.

Roger Ailes, President of FoxNews - Former Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush media advisor. Looks like the Hamburglar without his mask on.

Tony Snow, Bush Spokesman - Former editor of the Washington Times and Bush I speechwriter. Then became Fox weekend anchor. Then conservative radio show host. Now Bush spokesman.

Brit Hume, Washington Bureau Chief - Brit was in the past an editor of the American Spectator while masquerading as a journalist. You may remember this putrid rag as the home of the Arkansas Project, a many-years effort to dig up dirt on Bill Clinton so he might eventually be impeached. It appears as if whatever was left over after Greta Van Susterin's extreme facial forms his current mug.

Sean Hannity - Ostensibly a host of a political show but still chooses to raise money for the GOP, a new low, even for your "news" station.

Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Newt Gingrich, Dan Senor, Michelle Malkin. All contributors. All dumber than malnutrition.

So you see Bill, you need to watch Robert's film. You zone has been spun pal.

For more on this and other stories go to Read the rest of this post...

Senate Dem Iraq legislation may codify Baker-Hamilton recommendation to remove combat troops from Iraq by March 2008

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Let the Republicans freak out over the proposed Democratic plan. Pulling our combat troops out of Iraq by March 2008 is what the Baker-Hamilton Commission recommended. Let the Republicans, the White House, Dick Cheney call James Baker an Al Qaeda enabler, then watch the sparks fly. I had the pleasure of sitting in a small meeting with James Baker and a group of Senators once in the early 90s. Ornery Republican Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) made a bit of a personal attack on Baker in the meeting, and Baker scolded Wallop like the Senator was some piddly schoolboy. It was a joy to watch. If the White House and the Republicans make Baker their enemy, this could get very interesting. Not to mention, the American people already supported the Commission's findings. The American people will have little problem giving the Bush administration ANOTHER YEAR to fix this mess, then call it quits. Having the Republicans yet again try to stymy a bipartisan consensus will not go over well. Read the rest of this post...

Open thread

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Trompe l'oeil pavement art. Brilliant.

More on trompe l'oeil here. Read the rest of this post...

Defense Secretary contradicts Army Surgeon General who contradicted top Army officials who contradicted the general in charge of Walter Reed

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They really need to get their propaganda straight over there at the Pentagon. Apparently, things have changed - again - and the Walter Reed scandal is back into scandal status. This morning, you'll recall, it was lies all lies, per the Army Surgeon General. Yesterday those lies were being rectified and many already were fixed, per top Army officials. And the day before that the head of Walter Reed said the expose about Walter Reed was pretty much all lies.

Kind of hard to spin a 600,000 case backlog in veterans disability claims. But God knows they'll try. Read the rest of this post...

Financial guru Suze Orman is gay

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She wishes she could marry her girlfriend. Wow.
In an interview for The New York Times Magazine this coming Sunday, financial guru and TV host Suze Orman gets on Deborah Solomon's case for not looking out for her own money, partly because "you are a woman." This inspires Solomon to ask Orman if she is married.

Orman says she "has a relationship with life," so Solomon presses her, and Suze then reveals that her "life partner" is Kathy Travis and, "We're going on seven years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I'm still a 55-year-old virgin."

Orman says they'd like to get married, and both "have millions of dollars in our name. It's killing me that upon my death, K.T. is going to lose 50 percent of everything I have to estate taxes. Or vice versa."
Good for her. That was rather gutsy. Read the rest of this post...

Tony Blair reportedly hired psychics to find bin Laden

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Obviously he didn't talk to Nancy Reagan, or he'd have gotten the RIGHT psychics. Read the rest of this post...

British draw-down from Basra a positive development

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I read Juan Cole regularly, which anyone who reads me regularly knows. I rarely have analytical disagreements with Juan's assessments on Iraq. His blog is an invaluable resource, and his judgment has proven prescient repeatedly over the past few years. With that said, I have to disagree with his article at Salon today.

Juan begins by saying, rightly, that Vice President Cheney calling the British decision to redeploy 1,600 troops from southern Iraq by May "an affirmation of the fact that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well" is quite absurd. This administration never tires of twisting premises to fit already-determined conclusions -- such as the dichotomy of rising insurgent attacks being a good sign because "they're desperate" or in "last throes" while reductions in attack levels are also a good sign because "we're winning", for example -- and the Vice President's most recent comments are no different.

The piece then goes on, however, to elaborate upon why things are not "going pretty well" in Basra to the extent that it seems like an argument against the troop withdrawal. Juan explains that supply lines for both Coalition troops and Iraqi oil supplies will be vulnerable, and warns that troops in the rest of Iraq, especially Baghdad, will be increasingly vulnerable to the intra-Shia conflict in the south. The article cites three battles just in February to show that Basra remains unstable, but the first includes an admission from British military sources that they might be doing more harm than good in Basra and the other two explicitly describe the violence as being between British troops and the Mahdi Militia. It's unclear to me that this violence would necessarily continue between Iraqis rather than lessening as British troops depart, taking with them the incentive for anti-occupation attacks.

And really, we're not talking about a huge number of troops. The British have just 7,100 forces in Iraq, and they plan to remove 1,600. Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, has roughly 2.5 million people. Not exactly numbers that are going to make or break the security situation, and I remain unconvinced that the troops there are having a significant effect upon the levels of violence. In summer 2006, Iraqi officials announced that deaths were occurring in Basra at the rate of one every hour, and it's not like there's been an influx of British troops (or effectiveness) since then.

I would not ask British troops to get in the middle of Iraq's southern civil conflict any more than I want U.S. troops in the midst of sectarian violence in the rest of the country, and I'm skeptical of the idea that this withdrawal is going to precipitate a precipitous decline for Basra's security. Are the Vice President's statements about the withdrawal demonstrating success completely full of it? Absolutely. Does this involve risks? Yes. But is it the right thing to do for the future security of both Iraq and the U.K. (and perhaps U.S.)? I think it is.

In his closing paragraph, Juan says, "Without a United Nations peacekeeping force or the like to tamp down violence, the British retreat from Basra is unlikely to produce positive results." I respectfully disagree, at least in the mid- and long- term. While worst-case scenarios are possible, I think this will ultimately be a positive development -- not because it reflects positive changes, but because it could portend them. If the security situation in Basra declines precipitously in the late spring and early summer (beyond the usual seasonal cycles of violence), I'll stand corrected, and I would have to reevaluate my support for significant Coalition withdrawal. But it's my hope -- and belief -- that this will begin to demonstrate that troop redeployment may not be quite the apocalypse remaining war supporters claim. Read the rest of this post...

Army Surgeon General: "More than half" our wounded vets aren't treated like animals

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Well, don't I feel warm all over. As Joe noted below, the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, is now telling us that the Washington Post expose about the horrendous problems at Walter Reed is a pack of lies. (Ignore for a moment that the top military brass has already apologized for that pack of lies, and has assured us that the pack of lies are being fixed and that many of the lies have already been fixed (which isn't really true because one of the biggest problems is that they're 600,000 disability claims behind)).

But my favorite part of the Army Surgeon General's interview is the following statement:
But, remember, more than half the [soldiers'] rooms were actually perfectly OK.
Wow, more than half! That's really super! That's a bit like bragging that more than half of the pages WEREN'T sexually abused by Republican congressmen, or assuring your spouse that more than half the time you're NOT cheating on her (or as one of our readers commented, "And more than 95 percent of American cities HAVEN'T been flooded because of federal neglect of levees!")

Yes, this is the standard of excellence that George Bush and the Republicans have brought to our military. In the greatest country on earth, more than half of our wounded and maimed veterans aren't being treated like scum.

Heckuvajob, Kiley. Read the rest of this post...

Nancy Pelosi, smarter than Denny Hastert

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Snappy little column in the Philly Inquirer about Speaker Pelosi.
In her first month as House speaker, Nancy Pelosi is demonstrating the spine and skill that prove she is no female lummox of the left.

Sorry, GOP, she's not just another nothingburger Dennis Hastert in a skirt.

Based on her performance, she is much smarter than her undistinguished Republican predecessor, who was little more than a superficially amiable front-man for the narrow-minded right-wingers who really ran the party.

She is more collegial, focused on getting serious things done. And heaven knows, she has far more in the way of personality, energy and collegial instincts to keep her diverse caucus moving.
UPDATE: Even more praise for Speaker Pelosi, this time from U.S. News (subscription only)
The White House Bulletin
February 22, 2007
Pelosi's Smooth Operation Surprises Even Some Supporters

House Republicans aren't the only ones expressing surprise at how effective and steady new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been. Now top Democrats and their aides are complimenting Pelosi for running a smooth operation during her debut. "I've been surprised at how well it's gone," said a top Democratic aide and Pelosi ally. "I think we all thought something would go wrong but it's very steady," added the aide. Early expectations by both parties were that Pelosi would let her liberal politics pull her out of the mainstream or that intra-party differences would create an opening for Republicans to skewer the speaker. In fact, the only mistake so far has been Pelosi's belated explanation of her staff's bid for an Air Force jet to take her home, a mini-scandal that was quieted after Democratic aides set up a war room to fend off non-stop attacks from the GOP. Pelosi's success has stymied the GOP, which has moved to change its strategy of laying low. It was a plan endorsed in January by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich during a Republican retreat, but a plan he later rejected, as Pelosi appeared to be gaining strength and confidence. -- Bulletin exclusive from U.S. News
Read the rest of this post...

Cheney, whose policies have helped rebuild al Qaeda, continues over the top attacks

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Let's review:

1) Just this week, we learned that Al Qaeda is back; Bin Laden has reasserted his authority;

2) Last fall we learned that the nation's 16 intelligence agencies concluded that the Iraq war has hurt the U.S. efforts to fight terrorism while serving as a recruiting boon for jihadist terror networks;

3) The Iraq war is a monumental failure and there has never been a real plan from the Bush/Cheney Administration to get the U.S. out of the quagmire.

So, what does Dick Cheney do? Continues his irrational and hysterical attacks on the Speaker:
Vice President Dick Cheney refused Friday to take back his charge that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's opposition to President Bush's Iraq war buildup is playing into the hands of the al-Qaida terrorist network.

"If you're going to advocate a course of action that basically is withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, then you don't get to just do the fun part of that, that says, 'We'll, we're going to get out,' and appeal to your constituents on that basis," Cheney said.
Now, we know Dick Cheney will never admit he's wrong. They don't do that.

I have heard from several reliable sources that if the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, the Sunnis and Shias would both work to destroy al Qaeda in their country. If that's true, then the Bush/Cheney administration is actually playing in to the hands of al Qaeda. No surprise, Bush and Cheney have been played by al Qaeda for six years now. Read the rest of this post...

Army now attacking Wash. Post reports over the Walter Reed scandal

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Because in the Bush Administration, one never takes responsibility for any mistake, a top Army official attacked the Washington Post for writing the Walter Reed articles:
The Army's surgeon general yesterday criticized stories in The Washington Post disclosing problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, saying the series unfairly characterized the living conditions and care for soldiers recuperating from wounds at the hospital's facilities.

"I'm not sure it was an accurate representation," Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, chief of the Army Medical Command, told reporters during a news conference. "It was a one-sided representation."
One-sided? It was the side of wounded troops.

Took them a week to come up with this "blame the messenger" strategy. These are the people running the war in Iraq. Read the rest of this post...

Friday Morning Open Thread

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Rescind the war authorization. Perfect. Let the Republicans go on the record saying they want Bush to keep that authorization that he lied to get in the first place.

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

Give your brain a chance and skip your next meeting

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Sounds like corporate "think outside the box" meetings really are rubbish after all.
People have a harder time coming up with alternative solutions to a problem when they are part of a group, new research suggests.

Scientists exposed study participants to one brand of soft drink then asked them to think of alternative brands. Alone, they came up with significantly more products than when they were grouped with two others.
Read the rest of this post...

UK moving towards investigation into Iraq mistakes

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This is probably not how Blair wanted to leave office though this is his legacy. The debate now is about the timing, with some wanting to review later when emotions are less involved while others have seen enough and want to move now. At the earliest it sounds like the investigations will not start until after Blair is gone in the summer which his successor Gordon Brown dislikes because it will divert attention from his own agenda. With Blair boldly denying any responsibility for the catastrophe in Iraq, it might be difficult to avoid bringing him back to reality as he departs.
The Government is under mounting pressure to hold an early inquiry into the mistakes made in Iraq as Tony Blair refused to apologise for the chaos engulfing the country.

Heavyweight demands for a wide-ranging investigation came in a five-hour debate in the House of Lords led by the former foreign secretary Lord Hurd of Westwell, who won the backing of several other former cabinet ministers.
Read the rest of this post...

Wimbledon joins US Open and Australia Open with equal pay

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One of the finest sporting events just became better. Tennis great and pioneer Billie Jean King laid the groundwork for this decades ago and is obviously pleased with this announcement. There is no reason why men and women should be paid differently. Who knows, maybe the corporate world will catch up one of these days as well with equal pay. Read the rest of this post...

Senate Dems plan to rescind 2002 war authorization

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Now we're talking.
"We gave the president that power to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein," Biden said of the 2002 resolution in a speech last week before the Brookings Institution. "The WMD was not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.

Biden and Levin are drafting language to present to their colleagues when the Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, following a week-long recess.

The new framework would set a goal for withdrawing combat brigades by March 31, 2008, the same timetable established by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Once the combat phase ends, troops would be restricted to assisting Iraqis with training, border security and counterterrorism.

Senior Democratic aides said the proposed resolution would be sent directly to the Senate floor for action, without committee review, possibly as an amendment to a homeland security bill scheduled for debate next week."
Anyone who was concerned that non-binding resolutions were too nice, well Harry Reid just gave you your answer. The non-binding resolution was a necessary first step. A legislative shot across the bow. And the Republicans killed it. So now we have no choice but to try sterner stuff. The Republicans can't complain that what we're proposing is too extreme, too risky, when they refused to let us try the non-extreme, non-risky alternative. Anyone who complains about Democrats "micro-managing the war" will need to explain why, then, they didn't let the Congress pass a bipartisan resolution that wasn't micro-managing the war at all. We gave Bush and the Republicans a chance and they blew it.

I like this, a lot. And I suspect a majority of the American people are going to like this. And that matters now, and through 2008. The American people no longer support this war. As George Will said recently, there is no anti-war movement, we are an anti-war nation. Republicans oppose our ongoing, ever-increasing efforts to stop the madness at their own peril. Read the rest of this post...