Thursday, September 28, 2006

Edward R. Murrows Flips Over in his Grave

LSB: In case you just missed it, moments ago – literally – following a story about the sale of original STAR TREK memorabilia, Katie Couric signed off the CBS Evening News telecast with the Vulcan salute and “Live long and prosper.” What a proud moment for the CBS news team! Can anyone imagine Walter Cronkite doing anything so lame? I’m so glad I was flipping the channel early and didn’t miss it. I was a Katie fan when she was on the TODAY show, but I hope the blogosphere lets this bubblehead have it!

October 5 - Day of Mass Resistance

On October 5, people everywhere will walk out of school, take off work, and come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to join us - making a powerful statement: "NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!"

Dallas/ Ft Worth, TX – October 5th – Dealy Plaza – 7:00pm
Come one come all to protest the Bush Regime and begin the process of driving him out of office.

With 8 million diverse residents, the DFW metroplex is a great place to start any kind of movement. In fact it is my opinion that the politics of the Republikan Party was started right here in North Texas. This is the home of Walker Texas Ranger, the George Bush Turnpike and Exxon/Mobil. I only want to lead the way to participation. It is my opinion that this is every American’s protest, so let’s all plan it.

Musgrave: Gay Marriage ‘Is The Most Important Issue That We Face Today’

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), the lead sponsor of the constitutional ban on gay marriage in the House, spoke this weekend at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.” (Other virulently anti-gay speakers were featured at the event.)

Musgrave declared that gay marriage “is the most important issue that we face today.” She told the audience that “when you’re in a cultural war like this, you have to respond with equal and hopefully greater force if you want to win,” and warned that the “future is grim” if gay marriage is not banned. (Watch the video here.)

ThinkProgress: Nine of the 11 annual laws that fund government agencies have not yet been passed by the current Congress. A long list of critical national security legislation remains unresolved. And yet, thanks to hard-right members of Congress like Musgrave, Congress wasted time this session debating fringe issues like gay marriage, flag burning, and repealing the estate tax.

LSB: Gay marriage is "the most important issue that we face" - really? Have you read the NIE report, lady? How could the marriage between a small percentage of same-sex individuals possibly affect your daily life? Have you considered how increased terrorism could affect your daily life? How the revoking of civil liberties could affect you? Get real!

Republican Senate tries to hijack "cell phone privacy" bill to help Bush's domestic spying program, and help telcoms keep you less safe

You gotta love the Republicans. Never miss an opportunity to throw some pork onto legislation that should be a no-brainer and shouldn't be partisan.

Their latest? Taking the cell phone privacy legislation that they've been sitting on for nine months and finally moving it forward. Oh but there's a catch. They'll only pass the bill if it somehow saves George Bush's domestic spying program (why are the two related? I'm a bit creeped out now.) AND, they want the federal legislation to pre-empt state legislation already in place on the matter – why? – because many states require the telcoms to actually have better procedures in place to protect your privacy. And God forbid the phone companies actually protect their customers' privacy. So the Republicans controlling the Senate are working out a deal to repeal those state laws. Nice. Never miss a chance to help a donor.

Honestly, this smacks of an effort to kill the legislation, a poison pill. And it stinks. Why doesn't the Republican congress want to protect your phone records from complete strangers who can simply buy them on the Internet?

Differences over whether to pre-empt existing state laws reportedly is the sticking point to a Senate consensus on a federal bill against "pre-texting," a practice in which Internet-based brokers fraudulently obtain and sell telephone records, sources said late Tuesday.

Several Capitol Hill sources and consumer watchdogs said that Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is insisting that language negotiated with the Senate Judiciary Committee pre-empt state laws on the subject.

Stevens' measure, S. 2389, would override state mandates that require telecommunications carriers or Internet-enabled voice services to "develop, implement or maintain procedures for protecting confidentiality of customer proprietary network information," according to a staff working draft...

If a pre-texting bill with state pre-emption is enacted, it could halt state investigations by utility commissions into the lawfulness of electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the American Civil Liberties Union argues.

This is absolutely disgusting. Kill this bill. I'd rather have pre-texting remain legal – and I'll start buying member of Congress' phone records – than to have them use this legislation as a chance to let the phone companies off the hook on protecting our privacy, AND to use this to somehow exonerate George Bush's domestic spying. That is just sick. And people wonder why the Republicans are losing control of the Congress.

- John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cindy Sheehan: Commas for Profit

Our "compassionate conservative" misleader was on CNN with Wolf Blitzer and he had the following to say about the heartache and pain that he has caused the world since his illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq began.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war--if not already a civil war--We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see - you see it on TV, and that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there's also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people.... Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is - my point is, there's a strong will for democracy.

That is 123 commas.

With 2701 of our children killed and over 20,000 injured, I would have to type 180+ lines filled with commas. Then if we take in to account the low figure of 100,000 innocent Iraqis killed, I would need pages of commas.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that: "Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." I believe that anyone who still supports George and his war of terror on the world have to be going out of their way to ignore the facts, or are profiting some way from this occupation: politically or financially.

I want George and the conscientiously stupid people who avoid evidence like the plague to know that my son was not a comma. Casey was not a cardboard figure, or the one dimensional figure of his widely printed boot camp picture when his cheeks were still chubby from good and plentiful food.

Casey was three dimensional and had hopes and dreams. He wanted to finish college and teach elementary school. He wanted to marry and have babies. I wanted him to marry and have babies. I wanted to hold his children and spoil them and love them like a grandmother should.

Casey loved his brother Andy and his sisters Carly and Janey. He loved our dogs Buster and Chewy and our cats Emily and Molly. Casey watched professional "wrestling" on TV and called it: "male soap operas." He collected toys and we have many boxes of unopened action figures and other collectibles in a storage now.

Casey breathed air, drank water, ate food and everything else that all other human beings do. Above all, he loved God and wanted to serve God his entire life as a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church. He also bled and died like a human when he was shot in the back of the head.

Conservatively, the "commas" that the Bush Regime has killed by their lies would fill many pages, but in reality, the once breathing human beings are filling thousands upon thousands of graves and lying under tons of rubble.

I am sorry that the leader of our once great nation is so callous towards the people whose lives he has destroyed. If one agrees with President Chavez of Venezuela, or not, it is inherently evident in our country and the world that we should agree with him when he says democracy is not imposed by "bombs and Marines." Democracy rises from the people. Great Britain did not go to war with our forebears to impose democracy, but to stop it.

Killing innocent people, torture, draining our treasury, stealing elections, spying on American citizens without due process, leaving the people of the Gulf States hanging on their roofs for their dear lives, etc, do not bestow democracy and the people harmed should not be reduced to punctuation marks.

My son and the others will not go down in history as "commas" but as more victims of the war machine... and I hope as the last victims of wars for profit. How can George keep a straight face when he talks about the enemy being willing to "kill innocent people?" When has BushCo ever shied away from murdering innocents?

George Bush* will be an asterisk in history.

*Impeached, removed from office, imprisoned for crimes against humanity.

The sooner the better.

Thank you, President Bush

Sometimes you just have to let an idiot hang himself.

As you all now know, George Bush made public the executive summary of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq late yesterday. Bush claimed that the NIE was going to exonerate him and show how peachy everything was in Iraq and in the war on terror. In fact, the document was horrifically pessimistic, and said just what the NYT said it said – namely, that Bush's quagmire in Iraq is fueling more terror and making us less safe.

The thing I can't fathom is what possessed Bush to make this document public AND to claim that it is was going to be a really happy and peppy assessment… how did he get off thinking he could just lie about it, and then release it three hours later, like nobody would notice?

And now the rest of the media weighs in.

– John in DC, AmericaBlog

Okay, let's review. Bush and the GOP are claiming that they've made the world safer. Now the U.S. Intelligence entities – all 16 of them – have shown that they're lying.

Iraq has been a double whammy. Not only did that war distract the U.S. from the real war on terror, Iraq has mobilized the jihadists. We're further behind than we were in 2003. We have a President who thinks violence in Iraq is a comma. For the jihadists, it's a "cause celebre."

And you gotta love the feigned outrage from the GOP that people are politicizing the terror issue.

– Joe in DC, AmericaBlog

Andrew Sullivan: The NIE

It's an excruciating read. Here's my summary: we've made real progress against the organized professional leadership of al Qaeda. Everywhere else, we've lost ground. One reason we've lost ground - both strategically, ideologically and politically - is because of the bungled war in Iraq, which has produced the worst of all worlds: an ineffective occupation that doesn't bring democracy, has turned the image of the U.S. into Abu Ghraib, and has inspired many more decentralized and dangerous Jihadists across the globe. As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it's clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam's vile regime. Whether this was inevitable or a function of the way it was conducted will be debated for decades. But this much we know: it was conducted dreadfully anyway, on the cheap, and without even minimal strategic intelligence and care. At this point in time, there's no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future. The only arguments the Bush administration has left is that in 2050, historians may regard it as a turning point, and that leaving now would be even worse. The first argument is pathetic; the second argument is true but only underscores their unforgivable recklessness.

The NIE further concludes that our continued ineffective presence in Iraq is spawning more terrorism, and that our departure would also be a huge morale boost to the Jihadists and foment even more hell. Great. (What the war has done to increase Iran's power and potential danger is not addressed in the sections I've read. But it surely adds to the negatives.) What's clear to me is that we therefore have a gamble ahead of us: do we withdraw from Iraq in some way - either completely or to Kurdish areas - or do we seriously try and get the occupation right? At this point, I'd say the argument is very finely balanced. Obviously, the first step must be to get rid of the people so far responsible for the Iraq disaster. Until Rumsfeld is dismissed, we have no hope for any improvement. General Casey needs to be fired as well, along with several other military leaders who have presided over this mess. For the first time in this administration, we need some accountability. Then we have a decision to make. Do we have the troops necessary to make this work? Or do we not? If we need a draft, do we have the guts to say so and debate it?

My own view is that we should either drastically up the ante in Iraq - by adding tens of thousands of new troops in a serious, concerted attempt to provide order for the first time; or we should withdraw. Anything in between continues the same worst-of-all-worlds nightmare. We knew occupying a Muslim country would be a very high-risk venture. Which is why it had to be done with overwhelming force, meticulous planning, and an equally painstaking political strategy for the aftermath. We know now that Rumsfeld and Cheney just wanted to bomb the crap out of the place to prove they had more testosterone than the Democrats and to scare a few leaders in the Middle East. But the time for their amateurism is over. Either get serious or leave, guys. And make up your mind soon.

- Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish

(Photo: U.S. troops in Baghdad this month, by Yuri Kozyrev for Time.)

Bush: My Pet (Scape) Goat

Harman Calls for Release of Second Secret Iraq Report

There's a second damning Iraq report floating around the intelligence community.

At least, that's according to Rep. Jane Harman (CA), the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. At an event this morning, Harman disclosed the existence of a classified intelligence community report that gives a grim assessment of the situation in Iraq, and called for it to be shared with the American public – before the November elections.

The report has not been shared with Congress, although sources say a draft version may have circulated earlier this summer. It is a separate report from the one revealed by major news outlets Sunday, which is said to conclude that the war in Iraq has made the U.S. less secure from terrorist threats…

Democratic sources on the Hill confirmed that the report has been a topic of discussion, particularly because of concerns that its release was being "intentionally slowed" by the administration…


LSB: "intentionally slowed by the administration…” – until after the election, you think? SOP, babe, it’s just SOP. But you and the other Dems have got to keep pushing for this to be released, until the drum beats are so loud the WH has to declassify and release it. Otherwise the major media outlets will continue to run the WH press releases with little-to-no fact checking.

UPDATE: Harman has sent a letter to intelligence director John Negroponte demanding that he complete the second NIE on Iraq quickly, and release a declassified version before the elections in November. An excerpt:

NIEs have been produced in as little as several weeks, as in the case of the 2002 report on Iraqi WMD. While I understand the desire to be thorough, events in Iraq make it urgent that the Intelligence Community produce this NIE immediately. If your intention is to delay this report until after the November elections, I do not think that is appropriate given that U.S. troops are at risk at this moment. …

I urge you to expedite completion of the NIE and to release it in both classified and publicly releasable unclassified forms.
White House advisor Fran Townsend said yesterday, “My understanding is the planned release date, given the work that must be done to have it be comprehensive and complete, is January of ‘07.”

Bush Suggests Evil Media Conspiracy

From CNN, on the National Intelligence Estimate:
'Bush suggested parts of the report were originally leaked for political purposes, and that media accounts were meant to confuse Americans'
'Meant to confuse Americans'? What an extraordinary statement. The press is intentionally trying to confuse the public about national security. To what end, Mr. Bush? Because the global corporations that run the newsrooms are all headed by Democrats? Um, I don't think so... Either Mr. Bush has his tinfoil conspiracy hat on there – a Nixonian 'they're all out to get me' – or he thinks we're all as blitheringly stupid as his base.

I can read, and comprehend, the NIE report, therefore I am not at all confused. The conclusions are quite clear to anyone with a brain – the war in Iraq is making the entire world more volatile and dangerous. It's really quite simple.

Ask Musharraff, our alleged ally:
'The Iraq war has not made the world safer from terror, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told CNN, saying he stands by statements he makes in his new book. Musharraf -- often portrayed as being in agreement with President Bush on the war on terror -- writes he never supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. "It [the war] has made the world a more dangerous place," he said.'
How long before the republicans respond to this by trying to divert our attention to prosecuting the leaker? I would bet as soon as today Limbaugh and the other shrieking harpies will start howling for his head on a pike, for telling us the truth.

- Claudia Long, Smirking Chimp

LSB: Claudia, I don’t think we have to worry about Shrub et al diverting our attention to prosecuting the leaker of this report. Remember what happened to the Valeria Plame leaker(s)? Exactly nothing. Don’t misunderstand me – in my opinion leaking classified intelligent documents is as treasonous as identifying a CIA agent, – but even through the prism of hypocrisy, with which this White House operates on a daily basis, they can clearly see that going after one leaker and not another would be a losing PR tactic. And let’s face it – Bush is all PR and no substance.

Daily Show Rips Cable News for Clinton Coverage

The Daily Show host spanks most cable news outlets for focusing on anything except the substance of Bill Clinton’s Fox News interview. (Click on the pic for the video.)

MSNBC, for example, decided to forego substantive discussion of terrorism and instead focused on the fact that former President Bill Clinton’s sock had slipped and part of his “white” leg was showing during his interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. The MSNBC host asked her guests, “Is this a travesty or what?” Watch it

Condi Lied, Bush Smirks – Anyone Surprised?

A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday, RAW STORY has learned.

"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told a reporter for the New York Post on Monday. "Big pieces were missing," Rice added, "like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan."

Rice made the comments in response to claims made Sunday by former President Bill Clinton, who argued that his administration had done more than the current one to address the al Qaeda problem before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She stopped short of calling the former president a liar.

However, RAW STORY has found that just five days after President George W. Bush was sworn into office, a memo from counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke to Rice included the 2000 document, "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects." This document devotes over 2 of its 13 pages of material to specifically addressing strategies for securing Pakistan's cooperation in air strikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Rice also falsely claims Bush’s pre-9/11 anti-terror efforts were ‘at least as aggressive’ as Clinton’s efforts. Not so, according to a 2002 Washington Post analysis of the Bush Admin’s failure to take Bin Laden seriously. The 9-11 Commission Report also seems to contradicts Condi’s claims.

What’s happening with Alec Station, you ask, that special Bin Laden task force at the CIA initiated during the Clinton Admin? Closed by the Bush Admin.

And where is our close ally, Pakistan, on locating Bin Laden? Oh, yeah – they signed a deal with the warlords in the area where Bin Laden is “allegedly” hiding.

And when given the opportunity to directly respond to questions about his pre-911 anti-terror efforts at a press conference yesterday, Bush refused to give any evidence that he did anything to stop Bin Landen.

LSB: Liar, liar, Dr. Rice…Pants are on fire, Mr. President. You DID NOT try!

A Christian on Torture

As a Presbyterian pastor, I continue to be stunned by the unthinking support of many evangelicals for a policy that permits torture. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when the so-called "Traditional Values Coalition" decided that torture was among the traditional values that they feel compelled to support.

When Jesus was put on trial and handed over to Pontius Pilate, he rejected violence and said, "My kingdom is not of this world." He was then tortured and brutally murdered (three hours in a "stress position" on the cross, as one of your readers aptly noted). "Caesar", of course, went on to torture and brutally murder innocent Christians who were "threats to the state." Now, 2,000 years later, in their wordly lust for power, Christians are hopping into bed with Caesar and signing off on anything Caesar wants, especially if Caesar takes care of the Christian "base".

In my Presbyterian tradition, we are called to stand outside the halls of power and speak truth to those in power, no matter what party is in control. We are not called to become that power ourselves; Jesus' kingdom is not of this world; his values are not Caesar's values.

Last year on Good Friday, my church had our traditional worship service at which we read the story of Jesus' torture and execution. To make the story more than just a past event, we read three contemporary accounts of innocent individuals who had been tortured. If we were going to shed tears for our innocent Lord Jesus, we also needed to shed tears for other innocent victims of torture. One story we read was about Christians in China - "threats to the state" - including a mother who was brutally interrogated while hearing the cries of her son being tortured in the next room. Interestingly enough, the Christian Right would join me in expressing outrage against innocent Christians.

Another story was of a man who described these conditions:
"I saw a cell almost the size of a grave. 3 feet wide, 6 feet deep, and 7 feet high. The cell had no light in it; it only had two thin mattresses (two thin blankets) on the ground ... I was kept in that dark and filthy cell for about 10 months. The worst beating happened on the third day ... they were asking the same set of questions and they would beat me 3-4 times. They would sometimes take me to another room where I could hear other people being tortured ... at the end of the day I could not take the pain anymore and I falsely confessed of having been to Afghanistan."
We read that story last Good Friday. The man's name? Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, who was arrested at JFK airport in New York. He was then deported by the American government via Jordan to Syria, where he was detained in the cell described above. Just last week Arar and his claims of innocence were completely vindicated by the Canadian government. The Traditional Values Coalition would probably respond: an unfortunate mistake, but torture is still a necessary policy.

And What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus wept.

- A reader at The Daily Dish

Sullivan: Well done, Osama

Talking and thinking this over, I'm trying to look on the bright side. The [torture] bill allows this president to continue torturing detainees (and possibly innocent ones). But it doesn't actually authorize the torture methods. And it doesn't formally breach Geneva. So "the program" continues in the shadows of Bush's shadow government.

The truly disturbing part is that the only criterion for detaining anyone without charges - citizen or non-citizen, at home or anywhere in the world - is the president's discretion. If Rumsfeld decides you're an enemy combatant, you can be whisked away into a black hole, tortured, or have to prove your innocence in a military commission while he insists on your guilt. The "battlefield" is everywhere; and the war is endless.

This is not, to put it mildly, what the founding fathers had in mind. It is one of the darkest hours for Western liberty in a very long time. And most conservatives are cheering. Watching habeas corpus go down the plughole is not something I ever thought I would have to contemplate.

Well done, Osama. You won this one big time.

- Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish

LSB: By the way, where is Osama?

Most Iraqis Favor Immediate U.S. Pullout, Polls Show Leaders' Views Out of Step With Public

BAGHDAD, Sept. 26 -- A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.

In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.

Cafferty: “Sometimes Politicians Say Really Dumb Things”

Jack Cafferty just had some real choice words about Bush summing up Iraq as a "comma" during his interview with Wolf Blitzer. (Watch Jack’s comments by clicking on the pic.)

Jack hits the nail on the head when he puts the tally of lives, security and money on the cost of this "comma". I wonder how the families of the 2,700 soldiers lost in Iraq feel about their sacrifices being reduced to a portion of a "comma," according to the Commander-in-Chief? Considering the fact that Iraq has been a major part of Bush’s presidency, does that mean his legacy will be a "comma"?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

George Bush knew Al Qaeda was a problem for just as long as Bill Clinton did. So why didn't Bush take Osama on before September 11?

It's a cute game the Republicans like to play, claiming that George Bush didn't have enough time to take on Osama before September 11. But that's bull.

Bush and his neo-con cronies would like you to believe that somehow history started fresh on the day Bush took office in January of 2001. But it didn't. Bush knew, just like all the rest of us knew, that the World Trade Center was attacked in February of 1993 and that the threat to the Trade Center continued unabated. Bush knew that our embassies were attacked in Africa in 1998. And Bush knew that the USS Cole was bombed on October 12, 2000.

None of this was "news" when the Bush team came into office just three months after the Cole attack, and a good eight years after the first WTC attack. George Bush didn't have 8 months warning that terrorists were trying to get us. He had eight years warning.

So why didn't Bush do anything? Especially in view of all the criticism the Republicans like to heap on Clinton, claiming he didn't do enough to respond after the first WTC (uh, yeah, he only captured the guys who did it).

The Republicans also criticize Clinton for not invading Afghanistan after the attack on the USS Cole. Of course, the attack was 3 weeks before the US presidential election of 2000 - no president starts a major war with that little time left in his term, only to saddle the next president with the military mess he's just created. (Oh, I stand corrected - George Bush senior invaded Somalia right before leaving office and handed the mess to Clinton - yes, Somalia was the failure of yet another Bush.)

But putting all of that aside, George Bush entered office in January of 2001 "knowing" (per the neo-cons) that Clinton supposedly didn't do enough after the WTC attacks in 1993, eight years before, so why didn't Bush do something?

Bush "knew" in January of 2001 that supposedly Bill Clinton didn't do enough following the embassy attacks in 1998, 3 years before, so why didn't Bush do something?

And Bush "knew" in January of 2001 that supposedly Bill Clinton didn't act quickly enough in declaring war on Afghanistan following the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. So why didn't Bush attack Afghanistan? Clinton had 3 months in office following the attack on the Cole and he didn't invade Afghanistan. Yet Bush had nearly nine months in office before September 11 and he didn't invade Afghanistan either. Why is that?

The simple fact is that George Bush and the Republicans did nothing to "fix" Bill Clinton's alleged "errors" in dealing with Al Qaeda and the war on terror. George Bush sat on his ass (and spent 40% of his time on vacation, true fact) while Osama was preparing to kill 3,000 Americans, just as he promised to do. (Osama bin Laden determined to strike in the US, ring a bell?)

So FOX News wants to have this debate, let's have it.

Why didn't George Bush do everything he could to stop Al Qaeda before 9/11?

- John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

Bush didn't try to stop Bin Laden in 2001, now he's made terrorism worse

The White House is in a panic mode. They're trying to rebut the one-two punch thrown at them by Bill Clinton and the US intelligence community showing Bush is a complete failure at fighting terror:

Mr. Clinton noted that he rarely criticized Mr. Bush on the battle against terrorism, but then asserted that the Bush administration had done too little to fight Al Qaeda in its time in office before the Sept. 11 attacks.“They had eight months to try,” Mr. Clinton said. “They did not try.”The new intelligence report, the National Intelligence Estimate, implicitly questioned assertions from Bush administration officials that the United States is now safer from terrorism than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, if not yet entirely safe, and that it would be less so under Democratic leadership.

Bush has failed on national security since he took office, [even though he] intends to campaign for Republicans this year on his alleged anti-terror credentials. Every time he speaks about terror, the media better cover the truth: Bush has made the terror problem in the world worse because of Iraq. Instead of going after the real terror threat, he went to war against Saddam Hussein who had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush never goes after the real terror threat.And, it's not like he wasn't warned. Clinton mentioned Richard Clarke's book, Against All Enemies, during his interview on FOX. Read that book and you realize that Bush was warned that invading Iraq would incite the jihadists. This passage from Clarke on page 246 comports with the new intelligence report:

Nothing America could have done would have provided al Qaeda and its new generation of of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country. Nothing else could have so well negated all our other positive acts and so closed Muslim eyes and ears to our subsequent calls for reform in their region. It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting "invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq."

Frightening words from the former terror czar that have proven to be true.

- Joe in DC, AmericaBlog

Bush's Iraq War "has made the overall terrorism problem worse"

Not only did Bush ignore the terror threat prior to 9/11, as Bill Clinton pointed out to FOX News, the American intelligence community is now saying that Bush has made the terror situation worse because of the war in Iraq.

The Washington Post weighs in on the NIE report with an article headlined "Spy Agencies Say War in Iraq Spread Terrorism Globally." The Post article points out that the NIE was completed in April. Yet, last month, as part of his political offensive, Bush was spinning a different story:

"Together with our coalition partners," Bush said in an address earlier this month to the Military Officers Association of America, "we've removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, killed and captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in America and other nations, and stopped new attacks before they're carried out. We're on the offense against the terrorists on every battlefront, and we'll accept nothing less than complete victory."

But the battlefronts intelligence analysts depict (sic) are far more impenetrable and difficult, if not impossible, to combat with the standard tools of warfare.

Bush has been on a full-scale campaign to link Iraq to the war on terror. Looks like he's got a point, but not the way he wants people to think. Bush's Iraq War has made the terror situation much worse:

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks. The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

Bush wants to campaign on terror this year. Let him. By going to Iraq, Bush has been the biggest recruiter for terrorists. He's made the world less safe:

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,” it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

Anything Bush says about terror means nothing. His own government says he's made it worse. Now, we need to hold Bush and the GOP accountable for this record.

Wash Post:

The conclusion of U.S. intelligence analysts that the Iraq war has increased the threat from terrorism is only "a fraction of judgments" in a newly disclosed National Intelligence Estimate, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.

The NIE, completed in April, reflects the consensus view of 16 government intelligence services, including the CIA. The Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the classified document concludes that the invasion and occupation of Iraq has fueled Islamic extremism and contributed to the spread of terrorist cells.

If the White House isn't lying, again, then let them declassify the National Intelligence Estimate and prove it. I'd love to know what else the NIE allegedly says that could make up for the established fact that the entire US intelligence community has concluded that George Bush has increased the threat of terrorism and made America less safe.

- John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

And then there is this lingering question: Has Bush read the NIE? In July 2003, a White House official acknowledged that Bush and Condoleezza Rice did not read the full National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq before going to war. Jon Schwarz wonders whether White House reporters will ask Tony Snow if Bush read the most recent NIE.

James Dobson's Values Voters Summit: Top Five Bizarro World Moments

This weekend's values voter summit, serving as a front for Republican electoral activism but claiming to promote nonprofit advocacy, had a lot of strange moments -- and was there blogging about it to give you the scoop. Here are the top five bizarro world moments from the conference this weekend.

5) The absence of a single Democratic speaker at a supposedly nonpartisan conference about values. Even if one were to grant that the only values that matter in this world involve abortion, gays, and school prayer -- which we don't -- surely, there were plenty of Democrats to invite. What about the pro-life Bob Casey, who is running for Senate against Rick Santorum in PA? What about the anti-gay marriage Harold Ford Jr., another Senate candidate, from TN? Our own co-chair Sen. Roy Herron could have talked about all three. None of them got the call.

4) Rep. Mike Pence of IN acknowledging the biblical call to treat illegal immigrants with respect -- ignoring the instruction to treat them as our own, but at least giving it a college try -- then going on to say we should kick them all out in order to "preserve our culture." That's one way to apply Scripture. He even invoked the inscription under the Statue of Libery -- "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses..." -- to prove his point. Whaaaa?

3) Jerry Falwell suggesting that his supporters hate Hillary Clinton more than they hate the devil. "I certainly hope that Hillary is the [presidential] candidate... Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." Now let's have some reasoned discourse.

2) The Rocky theme playing when James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), and Alan Sears (Alliance Defense Fund) went up to the stage for a panel. As our blogger Asthenia put it: "Three guys with massive war-chests and a media reach of more than 220 million listeners daily walking out to the ultimate underdog music. It doesn't get more ridiculous than that."

1) The existence of Gary Bauer. His litany of strange comments include statements that liberals "hate women" just as Islamo-fascists do, that feminism is a sick form of radicalism, that America will lose the war against terrorists because of our country's approach to same-sex marriage and abortion (isn't our country against gay marraige?), that all American Muslims should be polled (involuntarily, it seems) to see if they sympathize with Islamo-fascists (Joe McCarthy would be proud), and that many European cities are on their way to falling to the "armies of radical Islam." 'Nuff said.

- Asthenia,

LSB: It's good to find a more liberal, faith-based website!

Olbermann Smacks Down Bush

Once again, Keith Olbermann knocks it out of the park! His anger with the President was palpable. Watch for yourself (click the pic), or read the full transcript. Here's a sample of the commentary:
..Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!
President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs—some of them, 17 years old—before Pearl Harbor.
President Hoover was correctly blamed for—if not the Great Depression itself—then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.
Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War—though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.
But not this president.
To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11th, 2001 -- or the nearly eight months that preceded it.
That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the executive…
…Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:
You did not try.
You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.
You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.
Then, you blamed your predecessor.
That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice…
The "free pass" has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush.
You did not act to prevent 9/11.
We do not know what you have done to prevent another 9/11.
You have failed us—then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.
You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.
And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.
And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate...

ABC News: US has only 7,000 to 10,000 combat troops fully trained and equipped to respond quickly to a crisis

From ABC's World News:

The reason senior Army leaders want a bigger army, they are worried about the Army's ability to fight future threats. One official tells ABC News, other than the troops now in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are only about two or three combat brigades, seven to ten thousand troops, fully trained and equipped to respond quickly to a crisis.
Like that? We went from a million and then some troops to ten thousand. Ten thousand? North Korea drops a nuke, we've got ten thousand troops fully ready and available to respond, that's it?

This is George Bush's legacy. He's made us into a third world country. But hey, Republicans love the military. To death, it would seem.

- John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

Newsweek Cover in America versus rest of the World

LSB: Why the difference in the front covers? Does NEWSWEEK think we "can't handle the truth?" Are they responding to what they think their readers want (in-depth analysis of the war in Iraq for international readers, and dumbed-down fluff for U.S. readers)? Or are they responding to political pressures (‘Include the story inside, if you have to, but just don’t promote the article too much – we can’t have an informed public voting this November’)? Maybe NEWSWEEK assumes their U.S. readers are nothing more than gossip-crazed, celebrity-lovin’ and reality-TV obsessed morons who will more likely gravitate to a glossy pic of a celebrity photographer rather than a hard-hitting article about an unpopular war? Let me give NEWSWEEK a newsflash: the gossip-crazed, celebrity-lovin’ and reality-TV obsessed morons are reading PEOPLE, not NEWSWEEK! Know thy audience!!

UPDATE: Jon Stewart, TDS, attached the "can't handle the truth" line (from A FEW GOOD MEN) to the NEWSWEEK cover story tonight (Wed., 9/27). Thanks for reading my blog, Jon!

Colbert Shames McCain

Stephen Colbert put McCain and friends to shame on Monday by exposing the Republican senators’ torture protest as pseudo-opposition and their compromise with the Bush administration as an abject cave-in. (Click the pic to view the video.)

Sullivan: What Bush Has Wrought

Under this president, America has become a nation increasingly known for torturing, murdering and disappearing "terror suspects." In the future, when history is written, just remember: it's not that we weren't told what was going on. It's that we looked the other way.

- Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish

Generals Blast Rummy

Alternet: Uber-decorated Major General John R.S. Batiste, who retired last year "on principle," delivers a bruising point by point indictment of Sect. of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld: “[Donald Rumsfeld] violated fundamental principles of war… set the conditions for Abu Ghraib and other atrocities that further ignited the insurgency…”

Via, here are select video segments from yesterday's Democratic national security hearing on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld:

Bush 'derelict in his duty': Former NATO commander Wesley Clark told Kentucky Democrats yesterday that President Bush has been "derelict in his duty as commander in chief." Read the full story here.

Monday, September 25, 2006


A piece in The New Yorker this week relates the story of a gay couple who caused a recent furor for public displays of affection on an American Airlines flight from Paris to New York. One of the guys was dozing off and was resting his head on his partner's shoulder. They also had exchanged an on-flight kiss at some point.

After a flight attendant asked them to "stop touching each other," the guys started asking for name, rank and serial number of the airline staff who were harassing them. The situation escalated to the purser and even to the captain, both of whom threatened to, get this, divert the plane (to where? Fire Island?) if the men didn't fall into line:

Half an hour later, the purser returned, this time saying that some passengers had complained about Tsikhiseli and Varnier’s behavior earlier. The men asked more questions. Who had complained? (She couldn’t say.) Could they have the stewardess’s name, or employee number? (No.) Would the purser arrange for an American Airlines representative to meet them upon landing at J.F.K.? (Not possible.) Finally, the purser said that if they didn’t drop the matter the flight would be diverted. After that, Leisner said, “everyone shut up for a while.”

Maybe an hour later, the purser approached Tsikhiseli and said that the captain wanted to talk to him. Tsikhiseli went up to the galley and gave the captain his business card. The captain told Tsikhiseli that if they didn’t stop arguing with the crew he would indeed divert the plane. “I want you to go back to your seat and behave the rest of the flight, and we’ll see you in New York,” he said. Tsikhiseli returned to coach.

Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American Airlines, said that the stewardess’s injunction to the men was reasonable, and would have been made whether the couple was gay or straight. “Our passengers need to recognize that they are in an environment with all ages, backgrounds, creeds, and races. We have an obligation to make as many of them feel as comfortable as possible,” he said. (He added, “Our understanding is that the level of affection was more than a quick peck on the cheek.”)

But a customer-service representative named Terri, reached last week on the telephone, offered the opinion that kissing on airplanes is indeed permissible. “Oh, yeah! Sure. I’ve seen couples who are on honeymoons,” she said. “They just don’t want you to go into the bathroom together.”

There are several reasons why this story is disturbing. The first is that it's a reminder that gays are still, in so many ways, every day, second-class citizens. Will and Grace and Ellen and Rosie and Lance Bass and all the others aside, there is a homophobic force in straight society that doesn't want to see gay people as we really are – meaning, just like them: people who kiss their loved ones and hold each other's hands. Straight people get to do that without a thought in the world as to who's watching.

Unfortunately, gay men and lesbians often do have to think about who's watching. And that's the second and more personal reason this story got my heart beating fast as I read down the page. It forced me to confront the internalized homophobia that I allow to enter my own thoughts each time I go to kiss my husband in public or hold his hand. Yes, I am often affectionate with him in public, but I also stop myself from doing it more times than I care to admit. Why? Personal safety, I like to tell myself, but if I really examine it, there's a piece of me that's uncomfortable in that situation because I know holding hands walking down the street, or planting a lip-lock on my husband in public, isn't socially acceptable – even though straight people do it all the time. So I hold back.

That's not an easy thing to admit, but it's true.

If there's a lesson in the story about American Airlines Flight 45, it's that we do have the right to be who we are, every day, in every way – and we need to be, even if we have to fight for it.

- Kenneth Hill, Managing Editor, AOL Gay & Lesbian’s Worth Repeating

NY Times: "Clinton Faults Bush Team Efforts to Get bin Laden Before Sept. 11."

This headline probably isn't what FOX News and Chris Wallace had in mind from their Clinton interview. [Click on the pic to watch the video of the interview; here is the transcript.] But, FOX provided the forum and asked the questions. Clinton told them the facts that have been ignored by the media for the past 5 years:

In the interview for “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Clinton defended the steps he took after the bombing of the destroyer Cole in 2000 and faulted “right-wingers” for their criticism of his efforts to capture Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda leader."At least I tried," Clinton argued. "That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying."

"They had eight months to try," he continued. "They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy, and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted."

The Sept. 11 attacks occurred almost eight months after President Bush succeeded Mr. Clinton in January 2001.
Bush ignored the terrorism issue when he became President. That's well documented. He was warned about the threat from Al Qaeda repeatedly. He was told there were probably sleeper cells in the United States, but stayed on vacation after he got the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that warned "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S."
Now, we've learned from the US Intelligence community that Bush's war in Iraq has made terrorism worse around the world:
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Clinton's right. But, there's more to it. Not only did Bush fail to get Bin Laden before 9/11. Since then, Bush has made the terrorism situation worse. He's a complete failure when it comes to national security.

- Joe in DC, AmericaBlog

Think Progress fact checks Chris Wallace. Verdict: Wallace is Lying Moron

Summarizing the article: During his interview with former President Bill Clinton, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."

The full text of this article outlines the dozens of Fox Sunday interviews over the past five years with senior Bush aides. Despite their access to these administration officials, Wallace and former host (and current WH Press Secretary) Tony Snow repeatedly failed to ask pressing questions regarding the Bush administration's efforts to pursue Al Qaeda in the eight months prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and in the years since. The full text of this article asks all of the questions you wish Wallace (and other MSM reporters) would have asked! has these additional links, which further disputes Wallace's assertion that Fox News asks the tough questions of the Bush Admin:

Joe in DC, AmericaBlog adds: In just his second question to President Clinton, Wallace asked Clinton about a book that's not out yet, called "The Looming Tower." Wallace says this book lays the blame for 9/11 at Clinton's feet. Wallace hid behind "his viewers," saying essentially that they wanted to know why Clinton hadn't gotten bin Laden. Anyone know anything about this book or its author? And why Wallace was up on the book and/or mentioning it? Clearly the Republicans, with the help of Disney/ABC, have decided that the only way to save their pitifully corrupt and incompetent party is to, yet again, try to shift the blame to Bill Clinton.

And this, too, from During the interview, former President Bill Clinton noted that the political right, which now accuses him of not doing enough to stem the al Qaeda terrorist threat, criticized his 1998 missile strikes in Afghanistan as “wag the dog.” Clinton said:
The people on my political right who say I didn’t do enough spent the whole time I as president saying, Why is he so obsessed with bin Laden? That was wag the dog when he tried to kill him.
Originating from a 1997 movie, Wag the Dog was a phrase used by the right to suggest Clinton’s airstrikes were driven by ulterior motives in an effort to distract the public. (Read the ThinkProgress article for examples.)

P.S. Click on the pic above to see a list of the Top 10 Conservative Idiots (compiled by DU).

Bush's Own Church Has Called For The Withdrawal Of Troops From Iraq

United Methodist Church leaders helped launch a week of protest and civil disobedience against the war in Iraq by signing a declaration of peace in the capital, urging President Bush to pull US troops out of the country.

The Declaration of Peace, signed on 21 September 2006, is described as a call for nonviolent action to end the war in Iraq. The Washington DC event was one of 350 staged nationwide to promote the peace initiative.

More than 500 groups, almost half of them faith organizations, are involved in the declaration of peace effort, which recently retired Bishop Susan Morrison said includes "acts of moral witness to seek a new course for our country."

By signing the peace document in front of the White House, the United Methodists and other protesters also hope to influence congressional races in November 2006 by forcing candidates to outline where they stand on the war.

Santorum Debates Non-Candidate Romanelli

Today at noon local Pennsylvania cable channel PCN featured a debate between GOP Senator Rick Santorum and Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli.

But guess what -- Pennsylvania voters can't vote for Romanelli, even if they want to.

This morning he was tossed from the ballot by a judge who found that the Greens fell almost 9,000 signatures short of the 67,000 they need to keep a spot on the ballot.

As TPMmuckraker's Paul Kiel reports, "that strikes a deadly blow to Pennsylvania Republicans' gambit to draw votes away from Democrat Bob Casey by fielding a Green candidate." [LSB: ROFLMAO! Hundreds of thousands of dollars sent in my Repub funders to support Romanelli in order to draw votes away from Casey were wasted! Even Romanelli only suported his campaign with a $30 gift!]

So why did they debate at all? A rep for the channel says the judge's decision came down when Romanelli “was already in the studio,” so the decision was made to go ahead with the forum.

- Will Menaker

Joanne Morrison of Reuters, please get your story right

In your article about Bill Clinton you say the following:

Earlier this month, Clinton dismissed as "indisputably wrong" a U.S. television show that suggested her (sic) was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal to confront the Islamic militant threat that culminated in the September 11 attacks.

Bill Clinton didn't "dismiss" the allegations. The September 11 Commission Report dismissed the allegations, and had you read even one single story about that entire debacle you'd have known this. The way your story is currently written presents the issue as he-said she-said, when in fact, Clinton wasn't the one rebutting the allegations, the 9/11 Commission Report states categorically that the allegations have no basis in fact. You set up a false equivalence that lessens Clinton's claim and strengthens those who defamed him. Which is more than ironic since the story itself is about FOX News trying to defame Clinton by rewriting history.

Ms. Morrison, what you wrote is not fair, it's not correct, and it misleads the reader into thinking the issue is somehow murky when it definitively is not.

Please correct your article.

P.S. Clinton is a "he" and not a "her."

- John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

Name Calling as a Republican Right

I’ve hesitated mentioning this because it’s basically had 24/7 coverage on the MSM channels since Thursday, but Jeff Cohen at Alternet brings up a valid point about the Right’s outrage over Hugo Chavez calling Bush "El Diablo" at the U.N.:

Among those exercised (and exorcized) about Chavez’ name-calling were some of the loudest name-callers in American media today — including Rush Limbaugh and other rightwing talk hosts. Limbaugh tried to equate Chavez’ remarks with the alleged Bush-bashing that comes from top U.S. Democrats. In case you’ve forgotten,

  • It was Limbaugh who ridiculed Chelsea Clinton, then 13, as the "White House dog;"
  • It was Limbaugh in 2001 who routinely referred to Democratic leader Tom Daschle, literally, as "El Diablo." Along with "Devil in a Blue Dress" theme music, Limbaugh would carry on at length about how Daschle may well be Satan in soft-spoken disguise. Bellowed Limbaugh in July 2001: "Just yesterday, as Bush winged his way to Europe on a crucial mission to lead our allies into the 21st century…up pops ‘El Diablo,’ Tom Daschle, and his devilish deviltry, claiming that George Bush is incompetent."

(Read the rest of this story…)

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars

Theocrats use dirty tricks and lie in elections

The "Values Voters" met in DC for their election conference this weekend. The meeting was filled with their usual hate rhetoric. But, they gave some insight in to their tactics, which include deception and lies:

In a workshop, Connie Marshner, a veteran organizer, distributed a step-by-step guide that recommended obtaining church directories and posing as a nonpartisan pollster to ask people how they planned to vote.

“Hello, I am with ABC polls,” a suggested script began.

Some attendees complained that the script seemed deceptive, Ms. Marshner said in an interview afterward. She said that such disguised calls were a common campaign tactic, that it was just a suggested script and that she never recommended answering a direct question with a lie.

And these are the people who pride themselves on their devout religious views. They'll do anything it takes to impose their theocratic agenda.

- Joe in DC, AmericaBlog

Torture Nation

Ask yourself this question: in the days after Abu Ghraib was exposed, did you believe that within a few years, the Congress of the United States would be formally decriminalizing exactly the techniques depicted in many of those photographs - and allowing the president to use his discretion to order them? Now absorb the fact that they are on the verge of doing just that. If this bill is passed, Abu Ghraib will be American policy, and integral across the world to the meaning of America. That's a devastating self-inflicted wound in this war of ideas.

- Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish

LSB: Given this President's proclivity for signing statements that basically say, "Fuck you!" to the legislation he is signing, why would McLain, Graham, Warner and others even entertain a compromise on this torture legislation? They've got to know that what ever deal has been struck with the White House is meaningless.

Sen. Goldwater, R-AZ: Leftist?

"Our tendency to concentrate power in the hands of a few men deeply concerns me. We can be conquered by bombs or subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect - by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government. Our defenses against the accumulation of unlimited power in Washington are in poorer shape, I fear, than our defenses against the aggressive designs of Moscow. Like so many other nations before us, we may succumb through internal weakness rather than fall before a foreign foe," - Barry Goldwater, "The Conscience of a Conservative."

LSB: Anyone that was conscious in the 60's knows about Barry Goldwater. He was the Conservative's Conservative. This makes this long forgotten quote is remarkably on target.

Retired officers to criticize Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON - Retired military officers on Monday are expected to bluntly accuse Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of bungling the war in Iraq, saying U.S. troops were sent to fight without the best equipment and that critical facts were hidden from the public.

"I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq," retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste said in remarks prepared for a hearing by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

A second witness, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, is expected to assess Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically ...."

"Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision-making," said his testimony prepared for the hearing, to be held six weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections in which the war is a central issue.

The conflict, now in its fourth year, has claimed the lives of more than 2,600 American troops and cost more than $300 billion.

LSB: How many retired generals does it take to get the message through to the Bush Admin that their Secretary of Defense is a dud? He won't be recalled before the election - that would just be admitting "W" were wrong and Repubs would pay the price at the ballot box. But after the November election...

Hillary Clinton could outdraw the devil, Falwell says

Los Angeles Times (Washington) — Nothing will motivate conservative evangelical Christians to vote Republican in the 2008 presidential election more than a Democratic nominee named Hillary Clinton — not even a run by the devil himself.

That was the sentiment expressed by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, longtime evangelical icon and founder of the once-powerful Moral Majority, during private remarks Friday to church pastors and activists as part of the "Values Voter Summit" hosted this weekend by the country's leading Christian conservatives.

A recording of Falwell's comments was obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell said, according to the recording. "She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton."

Cheers and laughter filled the room as Falwell continued: "If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't."

LSB: Falwell - what a slimeball!

UPDATE: Sunday (09/24/06) on CBS Face the Nation, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for calling President Bush “the devil” in a speech at the United Nations. But he dismissed Jerry Falwell’s statement that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) would energize conservative voters more than Lucifer, stating, “I think he was joking.”

Watch it here.

LSB: McCain - what a jackass!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another Lapse in Judgement

LSB: This past weekend it appeared that I had lost some of the template settings for my blog page. However, rather than copying the html coding for the links and add-ons that were a part of my blog and saving them like I know better to do, I stumbled right into the "upgrade" that wiped out all of these items. Do I remember all of the links? No. For the ones I do remember, do I remember where I found the JPGs and links initially? No. Has this frustrated me? Immensely! I'm working to find these items and put them back as quickly as possible. No doubt some of the links be different, but I will learn to live with them. Once the links are posted again and you notice a favorite is missing, please let me know and I'll do my best to find that link and include it again. In the meantime, if you'll be patient with me I, too, will try to be patient with me, and I hope to resume posting shortly. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards: Thanks for being a GREAT Governor!

Karl Rove's cutthroat tactics on behalf of George W. Bush eventually defeated her, but not before Ann Richards made a huge impact on American politics. The sharp-witted former Texas governor became a household name with a Democratic convention speech poking fun at George H.W. Bush.

During her four years as governor, Richards developed a reputation as an effective and compassionate reformer, fighting for expanded rights for women and minorities. She streamlined the state government, revitalized Texas' corporate infrastructure, fought to reform the education system in Texas, established the Texas state lottery as a means to fund the public schools, and changed the Texas prison system by creating inmate substance abuse programs.

"I did not want my tombstone to read, 'She kept a really clean house.' I think I'd like them to remember me by saying, 'She opened government to everyone,' " the feisty and flamboyant Democrat told an interviewer shortly before leaving office in January 1995.

Ann lost her battle with cancer this week. As we prepare to say our final good-byes this weekend, here is a snippet of her winning wit.

How to Be a Good Republican:

  1. You have to believe that the nation’s current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday’s gasoline prices are all Clinton’s fault.

  2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.

  3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.

  4. You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don’t deserve theirs.

  5. You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.

  6. You have to believe…everything Rush Limbaugh says.

  7. You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.

  8. You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.

  9. You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn’t diminish your opportunities, but you still won’t vote for Alan Keyes.

  10. You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.

  11. You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don’t pray to Allah or Buddha.

  12. You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.

  13. You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.

  14. You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.

  15. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.

  16. You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.

  17. You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.

  18. You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher.
Thanks for everything you did for Texas, Ann - we'll miss you!

Powell on Bush’s Torture Policies: You’re Putting Our Troops at Risk

LSB: Bush was attempting to bully Congress by fast-tracking his legislation for torture policies. Colin Powell’s letter [shown above] blindsided him and released Bush’s grasp on the balls of Warner, McCain, and Graham. Now instead of battling with the weak-kneed Dems, Bush/Cheney/Rove are squaring off against former military Republicans. Let’s see how this plays out in the pre-election “circus.”

UPDATE: White House Held Military Lawyers In 5 Hour Meeting and ‘Tried To Force Them To Sign A Prepared Statement’. This morning, President Bush was questioned about Gen. Colin Powell’s letter criticizing White House legislation that would authorize torture. Bush tried to downplay Powell’s letter by pointing to another letter signed by the military’s top uniformed lawyers saying they supported Bush’s plan:

BUSH: There’s all kinds of letters coming out — and today, by the way, active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the JAG, supported the concept that I have just outlined to you.
But during today’s White House press conference, a reporter cited comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — a former JAG and an opponent of the Bush’s detainee policies — claiming that the White House had placed extreme pressure on the military lawyers to sign a statement, and that the lawyers had refused to sign the initial statement crafted for them by the White House:
REPORTER: Sen. Graham is telling reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House had them in a meeting for five hours last night and tried to force them to sign a prepared statement and he said reading this JAG letter they ended up writing leaves total ambiguity on interpretation, this is Sen. Lindsey Graham. What’s your response to that?
Snow acknowledged “they were asked to write a letter” but said, “if you start going into who asked whom to write letters, I don’t know.”

A question for Disney/ABC: Are Christo-fascists better than Islamo-fascists?

Rosie O'Donnell is being attacked by, well, Christian fascists for saying, correctly, that hate wrapped in the guise of religion is just as wrong and just as evil when the source is Muslim or Christian or Arab or American. And she's right - hate is hate, and no amount of wrapping oneself in the mantle of God will change that simple fact. We real Christians have had it with the phonies. [See the video of Rosie’s comments.]

Just curious if one breed of religious extremism is considered worse than the other because one guy is white and the other is brown. Or are fascists only fascists when they're non-Americans?
  • Was the Inquisition really kinder and gentler than Al Qaeda terrorism?

  • Was Hitler the Christian really a better guy than Osama the Muslim?

  • When Christian conservatives quoted the Bible to justify racism (and let's not even talk about lynchings in the south, since I'm sure the lynchers were probably all Muslims), were those Christians any better than Osama citing the Koran to justify violence?

  • In the grand scheme of things, should blacks consider themselves lucky they only had to endure 300 years of slavery rather than the unthinkable burden of having to turn in your lip gloss at the airport?

  • Were Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson any better than the 9/11 hijackers when they said that America brought September 11 on itself?

  • When religious right leaders call the prophet Mohammad a pedophile, and Islam a religion of hate, how does that make them more tolerant than radical Islamists who hate all Christians?

  • When Christian right followers murder American abortion providers is that less wrong than when Islamic right followers murder American tourists?

  • Is Fred Phelps really a nicer guy than Mohammad Atta? Was Timothy McVeigh?

It will be interesting to see if ABC/Disney, which refused to censor historical revisionist lies about September 11, now tries to censor Rosie for simply telling the truth about intolerance.

- John Aravosis or AmericaBlog is a Washington DC-based writer and political consultant, specializing in using the Internet for political advocacy. He is the creator of, Matthew Shepard Online Resources, and, among other activist Web sites.

Sectarian killings increasing in areas where troops are unavailable

So let me understand this "new" yet often repeated situation. The US has had a security campaign going on since 7 August to clamp down on violence in Baghdad so the violence just moves to another part of town or nearby area, out of reach of the program. That sounds to me like we do not have enough troops on the ground. Haven't we seen this kind of movement around the country since almost the beginning? Send troops into location X and violence moves to location Y. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Yes, Bush is consistent alright. Hoo ha, hooray for being consistent. Too bad for everyone that the guy is consistently wrong. As Newt suggested, had enough?

- Chris in Paris, via AmericaBlog (Chris is an ex-pat American with an expertise in helping tech companies establish a foothold in Europe; he follows US and European politics avidly.)

GOP Senator George Allen voted against giving our troops the body armor they need

Truth trumps “swift boating” in this case. (View the video by clicking on the pic.)

Novak Accuses Plame Source Of Distortion

Washington Post:
Columnist Robert D. Novak, who first revealed Valerie Plame's employment by the CIA and touched off a lengthy federal leak investigation, is accusing his primary source of misrepresenting their conversation to make the source's role in the disclosure seem more casual than it was.

In an unusual column that appears today, Novak says his initial source, former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage, was more sure of Plame's ties to the CIA than the source has indicated. Novak adds that Armitage linked her directly to her husband's CIA-sponsored trip to Niger and suggested the disclosure would be a good item for Novak's column.

This differs from Armitage's assertions last week that his disclosure was made in an offhand manner and that he did not know why Plame's husband was sent to Niger.

Armitage, in an interview yesterday, said he stood by his account and disputed Novak's.
LSB: Whatever happened to Bush’s assertion that the White House was investigating and anyone caught leaking to the press would be fired? Not only has no one gone to jail for these treasonous leaks, but no one has even been reprimanded. (Libby was indicted for lying to the prosecutor, not for his part in the leaks.) Had this been the Clinton White House, impeachment proceedings would have been playing out on live TV during these final weeks before the election. Where is the MSM in all of this?

IAEA: US Report on Iran is a Lie

A recent House of Representatives committee report on Iran’s nuclear capability is "outrageous and dishonest" in trying to make a case that Tehran’s program is geared toward making weapons, a senior official of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has said—The dispute was reminiscent of the clashes between the IAEA and Washington over whether Saddam Hussein was trying to make weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. American arguments that Saddam had such covert arms programs were given as the chief reason for invading Iraq and toppling Saddam…
Read the complete article here.

Ironically, Bush himself delivers the best response to the U.S. House of Representative committee report.

Sen. Landrieu Strikes Back

Mere days after Majority Leader Bill Frist and Republican leadership ironically vowed to "rise above politics," Republican Senators Jim DeMint (S.C.) and John Ensign (NV) this morning echoed yesterday's scurrilous attack on Democrats from House Majority Leader John Boehner. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), for one, decided she'd had enough.

"In light of the rantings that went on for 30 minutes by two colleagues from the other side, I'd like to state for the record that America is not tired of fighting terrorism; America is tired of the wrongheaded and boneheaded leadership of the Republican party that has sent six and a half billion a month to Iraq while the front line was Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. That led this country to attack Saddam Hussein, when we were attacked by Osama bin Laden. Who captured a man who did not attack the country and let loose a man that did. Americans are tired of boneheaded Republican leadership that alienates our allies when we need them the most. Americans are most certainly tired of leadership that despite documenting mistake after mistake after mistake, even of their own party admitting mistakes, never admit they do anything wrong. That's the kind of leadership Americans are tired of."

She concluded,

"I'm not going to sit here as a Democrat and let the Republican leadership come to the floor and talk about Democrats not making us safe. They're the ones in charge and Osama bin Laden is still at loose."

See video here

LSB: You go, girl!

GOP Senate Leader Frist Trying to Impose restrictions on Internet Gambling

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is attempting to impose strict regulations on the growing online gambling industry by tying a measure to the Defense Authorization bill, today's issue of National Journal's Technology Daily is reporting.

LSB: What does internet gambling have to do with a defense bill? Isn’t there anyway to stop these unrelated amendments from being attached to bills that have nothing to do with the legislation being proposed? With less than three weeks before recessing the 109th Congress for the mid-term elections, is this really a top priority for our government? Maybe it's the cynic in me (!!!), but this appears to be yet another brazen attempt to deflect attention from the missed opportunities and play to a conservative base desperate for some reason to go to the polls. Is Internet gambling the best he can do – are there no gays or flag-burners to kick around one more time? This shit is exactly why we need to throw out ALL of the bums and get some new representatives in the House and Senate!

Bush Tells Barnes: Capturing Bin Laden Is ‘Not A Top Priority Use of American Resources’

Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes appeared on Fox this morning to discuss his recent meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office. The key takeaway for Barnes was that “bin Laden doesn’t fit with the administration’s strategy for combating terrorism.” Barnes said that Bush told him capturing bin Laden is “not a top priority use of American resources.” Watch it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Anbar report reveals continued failures in Iraq

The intelligence report written by a Marine Colonel in Iraq's Anbar province is a uniquely ominous sign amidst the recent torrent of bad news coming from Iraq. The report essentially says that we've lost Anbar, a Sunni-dominated province about the size of Louisiana, both militarily and politically. The insurgency is strongest in Anbar and Baghdad provinces, but the size and landscape of Anbar makes it an especially attractive and useful base for militant activity and organization. Anbar lacks the oil reserves of the Kurdish north or the Shia south, and without that lucrative resource, and facing a Shia government that seems intent to ignore (at best) the Sunni minority, the Sunni region is descending into a kind of Mad Max environment. They're likely to turn to anyone who can establish a modicum of stability and governance, and so far, that hasn't been the U.S. or the Iraqi government.

For a long time, I thought it unlikely that transnational terrorist groups like al-Qa'ida would be able to set up shop in Iraq because the Islamists in Iraq are usually Shia (whereas al-Qa'ida is overwhelmingly Sunni) and the Sunnis are generally secular and far more nationalist than Islamist. [LSB: Fortunately, Anbar is overwhelmingly Sunni and, without their ‘favored’ status since the fall of Saddam, totally without a connection to the new government in Baghdad.] Through U.S. incompetence and Iraqi neglect, terroristic groups are apparently using the Hamas/Hezbollah strategy of providing basic services to establish themselves within the social structure. Previously comprised of mostly foreign fighters, al-Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI, a.k.a. al-Qa'ida in the Land of Two Rivers, or QJBR) is gaining indigenous support. This has very little to do with historical disposition and everything to do with desperation and anger from the past few years.

As the situation has deteriorated, insurgent attacks have increased. The report describes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as an "integral part of the social fabric" of Anbar. The organization, which is predominantly made up of fighters who are native Iraqis, is flush with cash, much of it earned from black market or criminal activity.

Even if we had the manpower, I'm not convinced the U.S. could effectively root out these fighters; this is the kind of issue that Iraqis will have to deal with themselves -- understanding the language and the culture is crucial to that kind of operation. Still, even if we had the expertise, we don't have the troops, despite the Bush administration's continued claim that they respond to commanders in the field.

"What we recommend and what we get is going to be two different things," Colonel Gridley said. "In our perfect world, we could use some more infantrymen to be able to patrol the streets and partner with the Iraqi Army." Since the intelligence assessment was prepared in August, however, no reinforcements have been sent. To the contrary, the strain on the American troops in Anbar has increased. An American Stryker unit, which was under the overall Marine command, has been sent from Rawa to Baghdad to help with the operation there. Also, military police who had been earmarked for training the Iraq police in Anbar have also been sent to Baghdad. The Marines have sought to make up the shortfall by using existing troops.

This is what the Bush administration strategy is in reality: deny, deceive, demagogue… and then clap harder. In November, Americans will have one day, one chance to tell this administration and its backers what we think of their policies and practices, one chance to hold them accountable. Let's do it. Let's change the course.

- AJ in DC, AmericaBlog (AJ is a former Department of Defense civilian Intelligence Officer who was decorated for his recent civilian service in Iraq. He is an Iraq expert, and an authority on Iran, democratization, nation-building, Middle East politics, intelligence, and national security matters. He is a consultant on these and other political subjects, and writes on AMERICAblog about defense issues.)

NOTE THIS CONVERSATION with between CNN Correspondent Michael Ware in Iraq and Wolf Blitzer on Situation Room:

WARE: … I’m quite stunned that people are so surprised by this report. I mean, the situation has not deteriorated. It’s been like this for over a year, perhaps even two… But certainly what the Marine general in charge of Al Anbar said tonight on the conference call is he admitted for the first time that right now, today, through the combination of the U.S. and/or Iraqi forces, he does not have enough troops to win against the al Qaeda insurgency. His mission is to train, he said. If his mission was to change and that to be to win, then his metrics, his troop numbers would have to change. This is not new. Al Qaeda has owned Al Anbar for quite some time. And the soldiers out there are being left out there undermanned just to hold the line. They’ve been screaming for more troops for at least a year and a half — Wolf.

BLITZER: But it seems like the U.S. military has put a priority, as you know, Michael, on getting the job done in Baghdad and the surrounding areas of Baghdad. That’s where they are bringing reinforcements. That’s where they are moving troops. And they are sort of relegating the Anbar Province out in the west, which is a huge part of Iraq, to a lesser priority. Is that accurate?

WARE: That’s certainly what I’m being told by senior military intelligence officials. They are saying that Al Anbar and Ramadi (INAUDIBLE), like a saw, as long as we win Baghdad. But that’s very shortsighted. I mean, if this is the global war on terror, President Bush put Al Anbar in the center of the war on terror. And they are undermanning it. I mean, this is making al Qaeda stronger, not weaker. This is giving them the oxygen they need to breathe — Wolf.

BLITZER: …Give us a little flavor, Michael, of how the U.S. men and women, the military personnel who are deployed to the Anbar Province, how they are dealing with this…

WARE: …[T]hey stand by their resolve to fight where the president needs them. But the toll it has taken on them out there. I mean, Ramadi is referred to as the "Meat Grinder." And that’s really what it’s been… it’s just so hard to express, Wolf, what the — what the battle is like out there. And it’s a false measure. I mean, America, at the end of the day, in terms of fighting al Qaeda here in Iraq, is not committing to the fight. And it’s the same across the country. Al Anbar does not have enough troops. Iraq does not have enough troops. You either do this war, or you don’t. And that’s the feeling of the men on the ground — Wolf.

LSB: Let me make sure I understand this: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and the other GOP chickenhawks have, in effect, “cut and run” from oil-poor Anbar province, leaving vulnerable a small number of U.S troops to train Iraqi security sources in a large territory which is conveniently situated between the weapons and funding sources of Syria and Saudi Arabia and is relatively open to Al Qaeda training camps… AND they want the U.S. to stay with this course of action. What could possible co wrong with this plan? I am, however, a little confused about the message this sends our troops, the fledgling Iraqi government Bush installed, and the families of the U.S. troops killed there. But then again, if you just say "Stay the Course" enough times and call anyone who questions these policies unpatriotic or anti-military you'll get enough people who will believe you.