Thursday, August 30, 2007

Red State Update: Larry Craig

Defense Department pays $1B to outside analysts

The Defense Department is paying private contractors more than $1 billion in more than 30 separate contracts to collect and analyze intelligence for the four military services and its own Defense Intelligence Agency, according to contract documents and a Pentagon spokesman.

LSB: Say what? We're OUTSOURCING our intelligence? I'm sure that's not problematic at all!

Rep. Porter cites gas prices as reason to stay in Iraq.

Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV), who recently returned from a visit to Iraq, said he was told that an Iraq withdrawal would cause gas prices to rise to $9/gallon. “To a person, they said there would be genocide, gas prices in the U.S. would rise to eight or nine dollars a gallon, al-Qaida would continue its expansion, and Iran would take over that portion of the world if we leave,” Porter said Wednesday in a phone interview from Las Vegas. “Porter did not elaborate on the assessment that gasoline prices could spike. His spokesman, Matt Leffingwell, said afterward that the scenario ‘makes sense if Iran moves into Iraq.’”

LSB: Bush told us that oil was NOT the reason for going into Iraq and removing Saddam, so if this fool is now telling us that oil is a reason for the U.S. invasion of Iraq it means my nephew died there to give us cheap gas. Too high a price has been paid!

Conservative ‘Homophobic Hypocrisy’ In Craig Scandal

Earlier this month, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) pleaded guilty to “misdemeanor disorderly conduct” for “lewd” sexual conduct in a men’s public restroom. In July, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) also admitted to the “sin” of a sexual crime — frequenting an escort service run by the DC Madam.

To date, five Republican lawmakers have called on Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to resign:

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN): “Senator Craig pled guilty to a crime involving conduct unbecoming a senator. He should resign.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “I believe that he — that he pled guilty and he had the opportunity to plead innocent. So I think he should resign.”

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI): “However, he also represents the Republican Party, and I believe that he should step down as his conduct throughout this matter has been inappropriate for a U.S. senator.”

Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN): “While additional concerns are being raised, Senator Craig already demonstrated that he is unfit to serve in the U.S. Congress when he pled guilty. I believe that he needs to step down.”

Reps. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), and Ron Lewis (R-KY): [A handful of Republicans] urged Craig to step down…including Jeff Miller and Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Mark Souder of Indiana, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Ron Lewis of Kentucky.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also stripped Craig of his committee leadership positions and called for a Senate ethics investigation into the affair.

In contrast, none of these nine lawmakers reprimanded Vitter after he admitted to soliciting a prostitute. He even received “‘thunderous applause‘ from Senate GOP colleagues during a policy lunch held a few days after his admission.” Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force explains the hypocrisy:
Let’s see - one Republican senator is involved in soliciting sex from a man and the Republican leadership calls for a Senate investigation and yanks the rug from underneath him. Another Republican senator admits to soliciting the services of a female prostitute and there’s not only no investigation but the senator is greeted with a standing ovation by his Republican peers. What explains the starkly different responses? I’d say rank and homophobic hypocrisy.
The nonpartisan watchdog group CREW has called on Vitter to resign his committee seat. Glenn Greenwald has more on the right-wing blogosphere’s hypocrisy.

Gates Marginalized By White House, Not Informed Of New $50 Billion Iraq Funding Request

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that President Bush will soon request an additional $50 billion from Congress for the war in Iraq. The request, which is expected to be made after Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testify to Congress about Iraq, “appears to reflect the view in the administration” that Bush’s escalation strategy “will last into the spring of 2008 and will not be shortened by Congress.”

On Fox News’ Special Report last night, host Brit Hume revealed that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was unaware of the White House’s plans. “A Pentagon spokesman said Defense Secretary Gates saw the published report this morning and said, quote, ‘this is news to me,’” reported Hume. Watch it here.

Gates’ admission of being out of the loop on the funding request coincides with a report by McClatchy that military brass are trying to “distance themselves” from the President on Iraq strategy:

The Pentagon said Wednesday that it won’t make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month’s strategy assessment, but instead will allow top commanders to make individual presentations. […]

Military analysts called the move unusual for an institution that ordinarily does not air its differences in public, especially while its troops are deployed in combat.

“The professional military guys are going to the non-professional military guys and saying ‘Resolve this,’” said Jeffrey White, a military analyst for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “That’s what it sounds like.”

White said it suggests that the military commanders want to be able to distance themselves from Iraq strategy by making it clear that whatever course is followed is the president’s decision, not what commanders agreed on.

The White House’s marginalization of the Pentagon comes on the heels of a report that Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff, will recommend reducing “the U.S. force in Iraq next year by almost half.” Gates’ position on continuing the escalation “is not known, but he was a member of the Iraq Study Group, which advocated a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.”

Additionally, the marginalization of the Pentagon on Iraq by the administration is not a new development. In December, when the White House was first discussing an escalation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were in “unanimous disagreement” with the administration, arguing that “any short-term mission” would create “bigger problems when it ends.”

We're the Republicans. And We're Looking for a Few Good Men.

Maybe you've heard the news lately: The Republican Party - the party of Lincoln, of Ike, of the Gipper, yes, that Republican Party - has gone homo.

The party of God, guts, and guns has become a soiree of poufs, pansies, and pederasts.
Well, it ends here. It ends now.

It ends with you - if you've got what it takes.

Think you do? Think you can cut taxes for billionaires by day and by night have regulation, procreative sexual intercourse with an actual woman - in the missionary position; no unguents; no "oral;" no diapers - and not fantasize about some Panamanian pool boy from that in-room video last week?

Think you can undergo the demanding, life-changing rite-of-passage we call "marriage" (to a woman), and not secretly yearn for the understanding touch of that sweet, crew-cut Congressional aide from Liberty U. on the Ways and Means staff? And then get up the next day and work to gut environmental rules and regs?

Think you can manage to get through a single lifetime without wearing women's clothing? In public, at least?

If you can, then we'd like to speak with you.

If thinking about women gets you physically aroused, however sporadically, and thinking about men doesn't, or doesn't all that much, there's a place for you in today's Republican Party. If you're a man, that is.

Because we want you on our team. We want you to be part of a new tradition - a tradition of Republican men who are proud to stand up and say, when asked by anyone, from a newspaper reporter to a vice cop to a Senate Ethics inquiry, "That's right - I'm married. To a woman. What do you think of that?"

Join our team, and you'll learn what "discipline" means. Not the discipline of ordinary conservative men - the recreational kind, the kind they refer to when the cloak room chatter turns to talk of state-of-the-art gear, and weapons, and "equipment."

We mean real discipline. The kind that trains the whole mind, the whole body, and the whole system of genitalia and so forth. The kind of discipline that separates ordinary men from Republican men, and Republican men from each other, God willing.

Join our team, and you'll learn what "courage" means. Because courage doesn't mean, not being afraid of a naked woman. Real courage means being afraid of a naked woman but doing what you have to do - what you've been trained to do, or paid to do, or maybe hypnotized to do - anyway.

Succeed, and you'll find resources you never knew you had. Institutes. Slush funds. "Consultancy positions." Lobbyist jobs that ask only that you eat lunch. And foundations with fellowships that can last a lifetime.

See your RNC recruiter and hear what he has to offer. Be straight with him and he'll be straight with you. We can all but guarantee it. Usually.

Join our team and, if you've got what it takes, you'll learn what the Republican motto means, and has meant for generations, or, rather, will have meant for generations, generations from now: Semper Hetero. Forever Straight.

The Few.
The Straight.
No, really.
The Republican Party.

Ellis Weiner was an editor of National Lampoon, a columnist for Spy, a contributor to ten thousand magazines, and a writer of children’s television. He is author of The Joy of Worry, the unjustly neglected but hilarious Drop Dead, My Lovely and The Big Boat to Bye-Bye, and Santa Lives! Five Conclusive Arguments for the Existence of Santa Claus.

Opinion: The GOP's crowded closet

The party's culture of concealment has led to embarrassment and personal destruction. Isn't it about time for the right to cure its homophobia?

(Pictured clockwise: Roy Cohn, Mark Foley, Jim West and Ed Schrock)

Joe Conason: "Is everybody gay?"

That was the cry of the lovelorn schoolteacher in the classic 1997 film "In and Out," after her diffident fiancé reveals his true orientation (and dumps her for Tom Selleck). Ten years later, more than a few discombobulated Republicans must be muttering the same question, despite the fervent denial of Sen. Larry "Wide Stance" Craig that he is, indeed, gay. As one embarrassing episode follows another, with almost predictable regularity, perhaps it is time for Republicans and conservatives to ask themselves an obvious question: What makes the Republican Party -- and the conservative movement more generally -- so attractive to closeted homosexual men?

Somewhere in the textbooks of psychosexual pathology there may be a straightforward answer, so to speak. Does the party draw closeted men because they can hide behind Republican homophobia? Or does the party promote homophobia as a political ruse while closeted men run the show? Whatever the answer, the result is routine humiliation and personal destruction. Even worse, the party's culture of concealment encourages right-wing gay-bashing, such as Tucker Carlson's grotesque boast that he and another adolescent thug beat up a gay man who "bothered" him in a bathroom years ago. (More)

Opinion: Ari Fleischer's misleading message

Freedom's Watch, the former press secretary's new pro-Iraq war group, has little to do with veterans and everything to do with politics.

Joe Conason: Unlike, the organization founded by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans that has emerged as one of the most effective critics of the war, Freedom's Watch uses killed and wounded veterans and their families in its advertising, but is not operated or supported by actual veterans. Instead, the founders of Freedom's Watch include notable Republican fundraisers such as Melvin Sembler, the shopping mall magnate whose rewards have included ambassadorial posts in Australia and most recently in Italy; Anthony Gioia, a Buffalo, N.Y., macaroni manufacturer who served as ambassador to Malta; Howard Leach, a wealthy California grocery distributor who served as ambassador to France; and Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is among the richest men in the world. The supporters listed in Freedom's Watch's first press release also include at least eight more major Republican donors.

But all those generous gentlemen are probably just providing the money for the national advertising rollout. The brains behind this operation are former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who spent many hours on the press podium repeating the same misleading messages now promoted by Freedom's Watch, and Brad Blakeman, a former White House and campaign scheduling director for President Bush who frequently appears on cable TV to advocate administration policy as a "Republican strategist." Executing their strategy are the sharp public relations consultants at Jamestown Associates, a nationally known Republican firm whose clients have included dozens of GOP officeholders, a variety of conservative organizations and fronts, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

With people like these in charge, the Freedom's Watch advertising campaign – expected to cost as much as $15 million in its first phase – obviously has nothing to do with "politics."

Or else [the ads] have everything to do with politics, namely to bolster the embattled base of support for Bush and intimidate Republicans who might defect during the next phase of the congressional struggle over the war.… (More)

Opinion: The waning power of the War Myth

As Iraq dies, Bush is falling back on his old standby: Patriotic blackmail. But this time it won't work.

Gary Kamiya: Bush's entire presidency has been propped up by the War Myth. By aggressively presenting himself as a war leader, by wrapping himself in the sacred robes of patriotism, the military and national honor, Bush has taken refuge in the holy of holies, the ultimate sanctuary in American life. He has made criticism of his policies tantamount to criticism of the one institution in American life that is untouchable: the military. He uses the almost 4,000 new crosses in military cemeteries as a talisman against his opponents – notwithstanding the fact that he is wholly responsible for those crosses. (More)

Opinion: The dismal legacy of Bush's top yes man

Alberto Gonzales' successor will face a heckuva job rectifying the damage the attorney general did to American justice.

David Cole: What will President Bush do without Alberto Gonzales around to tell the president he can do whatever he wants? Maybe he'll finally get some good legal advice. For someone who held the top two legal jobs in the country (and possibly the world) for almost seven years – first as White House counsel and then as attorney general – Gonzales’ track record as a legal advisor is stunningly poor. Despite taking an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, Gonzales seemed to see his job instead as pleasing his boss. That may be a good strategy for bureaucratic success, but shouldn't we demand more from the nation's top law enforcement officer? Gonzales' yes-man strategy has left the reputation of the Justice Department – and the United States – in tatters. If we are to have any chance of restoring the credibility of the Justice Department and our standing as a nation committed to the rule of law, Gonzales' replacement needs to have the independence and integrity that Gonzales sorely lacked. (More)

Monday, August 27, 2007

How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer is ten (unless the light bulb is in New Orleans):
  1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced.
  2. One to shred the documents talking about the ways to not change the lightbulb.
  3. One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb.
  4. One to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb.
  5. One who outs an undercover electrician to Tim Russert.
  6. One to organize the "fair and balanced" "main stream media" organizations to begin a non- stop campaign to vilify the impoverished, minimum wage earning, hardworking people who earn their meager incomes changing light bulbs so "the new corporately owned privatized prisons" can start making a profit from having their prisoners take over light bulb changing duties nationwide.
  7. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.
  8. One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton one million dollars for each light bulb.
  9. One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag.
  10. And finally, one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

You'll also need one Democrat to break all the lightbulbs to demonstrate to the Republicans that none of the light bulbs were gay, lesbian or transgender.

LSB: Dr. Zaius and the commentators at this post just made my day!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ted Haggard's Cash-For-Heaven Offer

Colorado Confidential:

Have some extra cash? Feel like going to heaven? Then you might consider sending Ted Haggard and his family some monthly checks for the next two years while they move into a halfway house and get psychology and counseling degrees from the University of Phoenix.

If you haven't had enough of the Haggard/New Life Church saga, this week KRDO Channel 13 in Colorado Springs aired a story about a letter that Haggard sent to consumer reporter Tak Landrock, letting him know of the Haggard family plans to move into the Phoenix Dream Center to minister to ex-cons, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, and "other broken people," Haggard writes. "I identify."

Baaron Pittenger, assistant news director of the ABC affiliate, says that Landrock has been communicating with the fallen former pastor of New Life Church via e-mail. The station broadcast the story about Haggard's new life and request for donations on the 10 p.m. news last night. Pittenger says he's not aware that there's been much response to the story.

Haggard, the charismatic former head of the National Association of Evangelicals, was fired last Nov. 4 from the 14,000-member New Life Church that he founded after he admitted buying meth and getting massages from a male escort. After three weeks of intensive "restoration" therapy, Haggard claimed he was "completely heterosexual"; he and his family subsequently moved to Arizona.

In his most recent communiqué with the Colorado Springs TV reporter, Haggard indicates that he and his wife Gayle, along with their two underage younger sons, are planning to move into a one-bedroom apartment in a Phoenix halfway house to minister to the residents. They are both, he wrote, enrolled at the University of Phoenix.

In what is clearly a fundraising letter, Haggard indicated, "we need to raise our own support." However, he doesn't mention that when he left the church, New Life Church leaders agreed to pay his salary through 2007 - estimated at about $138,000 annually.

In addition, as Colorado Confidential reported earlier this month, El Paso County Assessor property records show that the Haggard's still own their 5-bedroom, 3-bath home in Colorado Springs. Sitting on 5.1 acres, its current market value is listed at $715,051.

The home is not currently on the market for sale.

LSB: Isn't the University of Phoenix just an ONLINE diploma mill? Is there a reason (other than to get out of town) for the Haggard clan to move to Phoenix to attend this "school" since the website for the University of Phoenix lists two campuses for classes in Colorado? Is this alleged move to a one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix legit, or is this "move" a ruse for those poor souls assuming Ted and his wife are actually attending classes at a university in Phoenix, AZ? Color me cynical, but this is another sorry tactic by yet another money-grubbing charlatan to take advantage of the goodness of those they supposedly were serving. Men like Haggard give Christianity a bad name!

UPDATE: In a handy bit of sleuthing, a blog team at the Stranger in Seattle has followed up this story with some interesting info about the organization that Haggard is asking people to send money to, Families With a Mission.

An independent confirmation with the Colorado Secretary of State's office shows that the organization's corporate offices were moved from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii to the Town of Monument, north of Colorado Springs, in July, 2003.

Its Colorado Springs mailing address is the same one to which Haggard is asking people to send donations. However, Secretary of State records show that Families With a Mission was administratively dissolved earlier this year, on Feb. 23.

And the man who is listed as the president of Families With a Mission, Paul Gerard Huberty, appears to be the same Paul Huberty who was convicted in 1996 of having sex with a 17-year old girl while he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force stationed in Germany, and who later registered as a sex offender in Hawaii. The organization Family Watchdog, which tracks sex offenders, currently lists Huberty at the same Monument address that was the principal address of Families With a Mission.
LSB: Oh, Ted, as Ricky would say to Lucy, "You got some esplainin' to do!"

American Whistleblowers Tortured: Lives And Careers Ruined By Their Own Government


One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted. Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

For his trouble, he says, he got 97 days in Camp Cropper, an American military prison outside Baghdad that once held Saddam Hussein, and he was classified a security detainee.

Also held was colleague Nathan Ertel, who helped Vance gather evidence documenting the sales, according to a federal lawsuit both have filed in Chicago, alleging they were illegally imprisoned and subjected to physical and mental interrogation tactics “reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.” Read more.

Please take the time to read the rest of this article, the criminal activity by our government and military goes well beyond these two men. It will enrage and disgust you, but we cannot forget about these brave Americans and their efforts to bring the truth of corruption to the surface.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Daily Show: Three Generations of “America to the Rescue”

( Click the pic for the vid.)

How can anyone question that unfair treatment is given to celebrities?

Lohan Gets 1 Day in Jail on DUI Plea

Lindsay Lohan reached a plea deal Thursday on misdemeanor drunken driving and cocaine charges that calls for her to spend one day in jail, serve 10 days of community service and complete a drug treatment program.

Nicole Richie spent just 82 minutes behind bars at the Century Regional Detention center this afternoon after she reported to serve a four-day sentence. She had pleaded no contest to driving under the influence charges.

Bonuses on Wall Street Threatened by Credit Crunch

The credit-market freeze that's paralyzing leveraged buyouts, mergers and myriad computer-driven trading strategies may cut Wall Street bonuses for the first time in five years.

"There's a lot of pessimism out there,'' said Gary Goldstein, chief executive officer of executive-search firm Whitney Group in New York. "Looking at the world today as we see it and the impact the crunch is likely to have, it looks like bonus pools will decline.''

Bonuses, the financial industry's annual rite of compensation typically calculated as a multiple of salary, probably will decline as much as 5 percent from 2006, according to Options Group, the New York-based firm that has tracked pay and hiring trends for more than a decade. While the payouts often far exceeded the average of $220,650 at the biggest U.S. securities firms last year and increased as much as 20 percent from 2005, the subprime-mortgage collapse already has drained the punch bowl.

Hardest hit will be employees who create and sell securities backed by mortgages or pools of debt, Options Group said. One out of every three people in those roles may lose their jobs unless business picks up by the end of the year, the firm estimates. Bonuses may fall as much as 40 percent.

Gergen smacks Bush on his speech: “Mr. President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?”

GERGEN: Well, he may well have stirred a hornet’s nest among historians, because there are so many differences between this struggle and what we faced in past, and I think by just invoking Vietnam, something he has tried not to do. He’s tried all along to say this is not Vietnam. By invoking Vietnam he raised the automatic question, well, if you’ve learned so much from history, Mr. President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire? Why didn’t you learn up front about the perils of Vietnam and what we faced there?And Vietnam and Korea, of course, were not victories for America. Korea ended in a draw and Vietnam ended in a loss. So it’s surprising to me he would go back to that to make — and I think he’s going to get a lot of criticism, or a lot of critiques, that will disagree with him and point out differences. (Click the pic for the vid.)

David Shuster Dismantles President Bush’s Viet Nam Rhetoric

This evening on “Hardball” MSNBC’s David Shuster started off the hour with a dead on debunking of President Bush’s rhetoric from his speech earlier today in which proclaimed that a U.S. pullout in Iraq would have the same consequences as our withdrawal from Viet Nam. The president says that America’s departure sparked the Khmer Rouge’s murderous rule, but as Shuster points out, the killings started well before the U.S. pulled out and that it was a mistake to go into Cambodia in the first place as we only made the violence worse. As for Bush’s claim that pulling out of South East Asia emboldened America’s enemies, Shuster had this to say:

SHUSTER (click the pic for the vid): “…But he wasn’t talking about our enemies at the time, including communists and the Soviet Union during the cold war. Instead, President Bush spoke of Osama Bin Laden who mentioned Viet Nam a few years ago in declaring America would be weak in fighting al Qaeda. …Bin Laden, however, is running al Qaeda from somewhere along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, not from inside Iraq.

VoteVets launches ad against GOP Iraq-war-enabler Susan Collins

Former "Christian" group leader pleads guilty to solicitation

Pam Spaulding: My, my, it is a busy week. I can hardly keep up with these guys...

Former NC lawmaker, retired Baptist minister -- and now-former Christian Action League president -- Coy C. Privette pleaded guilty yesterday to six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution. He has to perform 48 hours of community service and receive counseling.

In July he was busted for doing the no-tell motel dance, paying to have sex with someone other than his wife. Pious Privette receives bonus Darwin points:* he paid for the hotel rooms under his own name on six occasions; * the prostitute took pictures of her with the former minister using her cell phone camera. That left Privette with little other choice than to admit the hanky-panky.

Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Privette passed out a statement that sounds vaguely familiar, right out of the Conservative Sexual Hypocrisy Manual. Privette said he is going to dedicate considerable time and effort to "repair" himself.

"I am already seeking professional attention to this end," he said. "As I undergo much needed personal and spiritual reflection, I sincerely ask everyone to keep me in their thoughts and prayers on my journey to earn back the trust that I have lost."

A sad irony of the story is that the sex worker involved was arrested for prostitution by authorites, even though she cooperated with them on the bust, which involved a forged check case investigation.

According to the prosecutor the case started June 27 when a Cabarrus County bank refused to honor a check being drawn against Privette's account because it seemed high and called Kannapolis police.

A police investigator interviewed Tiffany Summers who said she had received the check from Privette. She also said she had sex with Privette on a number of occasions in two hotels.

For a touch of fun, take a look at the statement on morality on the Christian Action League's web site...

We are in the General Assembly of North Carolina with a full-time presence promoting legislation that is consistent with a Christian worldview. We advocate
for those measures that strengthen the family and oppose legislation that would
erode the family structure. We are the voice of conservative evangelical
Christians in the State Legislature.

We discourage the promotion and use of beverage alcohol and other drugs, pornography, sexual immorality and other sinful practices that not only undermine the spiritual lives of those who participate in them, but also undermine the strength of our State and National character.

Ari Fleischer didn't even know the name of the Iraq vet in his ad

Joe Sudbay (DC) : Ari Fleischer comes from the GOP school of "support the troops." In their world, the troops are only good as campaign props and for sloganeering. Fleischer proved that tonight. Fleischer is the spokesperson for a Bush-backed pro-Iraq war that's attacking Republicans. If you haven't read Tom Matzzie's open letter to Ari, check it out. Last night on Hardball, Ari could not even name the vet featured in the negative ads. Think Progress has the video and the outraged response from Paul Rieckhoff:

Later in the program, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America executive director Paul Rieckhoff ripped into Fleischer’s offensive ignorance. “What bothered me the most is that Ari Fleischer didn’t even know the guy’s name.” said Rieckhoff. “He’s willing to run a multi-million dollar campaign, utilizing the personal story of a soldier, and he couldn’t tell you on national TV what that soldier’s name is.”Rieckhoff described it as part of “a problematic trend” that Freedom’s Watch is using the soldier’s “personal story” as “a backdrop for political rhetoric”.

People on both sides of the aisle, but especially the president and this administration, have continued to use troops as a political prop. As a backdrop for political rhetoric. It’s why the president gave such an impassionate speech today in front of the VFW. It’s why this ad carries so much weight on a visceral level. And it really bothers me because our troops are not political props and they’re not chew toys.

The Bush team doesn't see the troops as real people. That's why they never gave them the right equipment. That's why Walter Reed was such a disaster. That's why Bush has no problem keeping our soldiers in an endless war. And, that's why Ari Fleischer couldn't be bothered to know the name of the man in his ads.

Bush's Defense Dept. sending only half the armored vehicles promised for in Iraq

Joe Sudbay (DC): Because in Bush world, "support the troops" doesn't mean actually giving the troops the support they need. From Reuters:
U.S. troops in Iraq will receive at least 1,000 fewer special armored vehicles than expected this year due to the amount of time needed for shipment, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the Defense Department expected defense contractors to produce 3,900 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles this year. But only 1,500 would make it to the war zone -- down from the Pentagon's previous shipment target of 2,500 to 3,000."If we could get 1,500 to theater by the end of this year, that would be a positive development," Morrell said.The new goal of 1,500 was first reported by Stars & Stripes, the newspaper for troops overseas that is partially funded by the Defense Department.

A little less support for the troops - Tim Grieve asks, “Is this how we support the troops?”

U.S. report sees precarious Iraqi government

The Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months and its security forces have not improved enough to operate without outside help, intelligence analysts conclude in a new National Intelligence Estimate.

Despite uneven improvements, the analysts concluded that the level of overall violence is high, Iraq's sectarian groups remain unreconciled, and al-Qaida in Iraq is still able to conduct its highly visible attacks.

"Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively," the 10-page document concludes. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Thursday.

Joe Sudbay (DC): Reid and Pelosi on the NIE: Bush's "surge" failed. We need a new plan for Iraq. Now. Bush really seems to hate it when anyone questions his failed Iraq strategy. For years, the Republican leaders of the House and Senate never challenged him. Today's release of the National Intelligence Estimate just provides further proof that Bush has failed. We need a change of course. Most of America gets it. Bush still doesn't.

Majority Leader Reid: Today's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq confirms what most Americans already know: Our troops are mired in an Iraqi civil war and the President's escalation strategy has failed to produce the political results he promised to our troops and the American people. Our troops have done everything asked of them and more. Unfortunately Iraq's leaders have not. And as today's NIE makes clear, a political solution is extremely unlikely in the near term. Further pursuit of the Administration's flawed escalation strategy is not in our nation's best interests. Every day that we continue to stick to the President's flawed strategy is a day that America is not as secure as it could be. As the intelligence community reported in another NIE just weeks ago, America's attention is distracted from Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which has regenerated its capacity to its pre-9/11 levels. That is why it is so essential that this September, Republicans join with Democrats to change course in Iraq and work to restore our nation's security.

Speaker Pelosi: In today’s National Intelligence Estimate, the American people were presented with yet more evidence that the Iraqi government has failed to take the necessary steps to reach political reconciliation. Our military has performed their duties excellently, but the purpose of the escalation in Iraq was to create a secure environment in which political change could occur, and it is clear that the Iraqi leaders have failed to make progress.We need a New Direction to bring our troops home from Iraq so that America can refocus its efforts against terrorism worldwide.

See also: Director of National Intelligence McConnell: Debating FISA in Congress will kill Americans [LSB: Apparently even the mere mention that we have surveillance measures sets off a spate of unAmerican invectives by W's minions.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New poll finds Napolitano would best McCain in Senate race

Associated Press: [Arizona] Gov. Janet Napolitano would beat Sen. John McCain if the two went head-to-head in an election, according to a new poll.

The Rocky Mountain Poll of 629 voters across the state also finds the Democratic governor is the most popular statewide elected official. She was ranked as doing an excellent or good job by 59 percent of those asked, and only nine percent gave her a poor or very poor rating. That's the lowest negative rating for Napolitano since she took office in 2003.

The poll found that 76 percent of Democrats think she's doing an excellent or good job, while 51 percent of independents and 41 percent of Republicans give her that ranking.

In a hypothetical head-to-head race for McCain's Senate seat, 47 percent of those polled would vote for Napolitano, 36 percent for the sitting Republican senator, and 17 percent were undecided.

The poll, conducted by the Behavior Research Center of Arizona, was conducted between July 27 and Aug. 4 and has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

LSB: Hmmm... might this be McCain's last hurrah?

Jon Stewart's nostalgic look at 'Karl Rove's Greatest Hits'

Jon Stewart did a follow-up story on Tuesday's Daily Show concerning the resignation of Karl Rove. "But before leaving for good - and I use the term literally," Stewart began, "last week Rove went on his farewell tour to defend himself and his president."

Some things to think about courtesy of

Gen. Batiste’s Op-Ed That The WSJ And The Washington Times Didn’t Want You To See As a conservative, I am all for a strong military and setting the conditions for success. America goes to war to win. I am not anti-war and am committed to winning the struggle against world-wide Islamic extremism. But, I am outraged that elected officials of my own party do not comprehend the predicament we are in with a strategy in the Middle East that lacks focus and is all but relying on the military to solve the diplomatic, political, and economic Rubik’s Cube that defines Iraq. Our dysfunctional interagency process in Washington DC lacks leadership and direction. Many conservatives in Congress have allowed the charade to go on for too long.

Bolton: I ‘Absolutely’ Hope The U.S. Will Attack Iran In The Next ‘Six Months’ Bolton’s calls for strikes against Iran mirror those of other neocons, such as Bill Kristol and Michael Rubin, who also pushed for the Iraq invasion. Bolton’s claim that “Iran is interfering in Iraq and is posing a direct threat to our troops” is not a reason to strike the country. In reality, both Gen. Peter Pace and the National Intelligence Estimate have confirmed that Iran is “not likely” to be a major driver of violence in Iraq.

International criminal flew U.S. supply missions in Iraq. “The U.S. government paid a wanted international criminal roughly $60 million to fly supplies into Iraq in support of the war effort,” alleges the new book “Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Plans, and the Man Who Makes War Possible.” Arms merchant and international trafficker Viktor Bout is considered “one of the greatest threats to U.S. interests,” yet in 2003, he managed to get a job with KBR “flying supplies into newly-invaded Iraq as a subcontractor to U.S. military contractors.”

Voinovich refuses to comment on Iraq trip. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) just returned from a quick 10 to 14 hour trip to Iraq, in which he met “with soldiers, civilians, Iraqi officials and U.S. military leaders including commanding Gen. David Petraeus.” But, unlike most lawmakers who return from the war-torn country, Voinovich is refusing to offer an assessment of what he saw on his trip. “He’s not going to get into that right now — what’s working, what’s not working, is the surge working,” his spokesman, Chris Paulitz, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s not really interested in a soundbite response.”

Fox Attacks: Iran. Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films has released a new video as part of its ongoing Fox Attacks series. “Fox Attacks: Iran” reveals the network’s efforts to beat the drums for a war against Iran. The ad shows Fox fear-mongering and inflating the threat much the way it did prior to the Iraq war. Watch the ad below.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent -- just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."

The "Presidential Advance Manual," dated October 2002 with the stamp "Sensitive - Do Not Copy," was released under subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of two people arrested for refusing to cover their anti-Bush T-shirts at a Fourth of July speech at the West Virginia State Capitol in 2004. The techniques described have become familiar over the 6 1/2 years of Bush's presidency, but the manual makes it clear how organized the anti-protest policy really is.


Did Reagan call G.W. Bush a ne’er-do-well?

This paragraph supposedly written by Ronald Reagan is currently circulating widely around the internet:

Direct quote from the just published REAGAN DIARIES.

The entry is dated May 17, 1986.

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'

Did Reagan really write this? Nope, he didn't. The quotation is pulled from an article titled "My Lunch with Reagan" by Michael Kinsley in the New Republic (vol. 237, issue 1, 7/2/07). And, not surprisingly, the quotation is taken out of context.
LSB: Ok, it's an Internet hoax, but still it's pretty funny!

WingNutDaily: Nuke 'Dem Mosques

Joe.My.God.: Here's the result of a poll on WingNutDaily (via Pam's House Blend), asking their readers, "Should U.S. threaten nuclear annihilation of Muslim holy sites for deterrence?" Frightening. Funny how they characterize Muslims as "religion-driven fanatics", innit? Much as I used to watch 700 Club, I now read WingNutDaily for the pure entertainment value of watching how completely nutso the right wing can get.

Their top story today rails: "Global Warming: 'Hot Air'. And then right below it, "NYC Faces Record-Breaking Cold Today." Not that the two are necessarily related, but still. Funny. And you have to giggle when their "end of times" pieces (usually about how the immorality of America means the apocalypse will occur any minute) are wedged between shills for long-term investment advice books. Jeebus is coming right away, but make sure you trade long, just in case he, you know, doesn't.

Jenna Bush gets engaged

Jenna Bush, 25, President and Laura Bush's daughter, is marrying Henry Hager, 28, a former White House aide who used to work with Karl Rove.

LSB: I usually reject this kind of "news" for the blog, but I have heard one too many on-air, air-heads speculating about the possibility of a White House wedding. (I thought one particularly pathetic bitch was gonna orgasm on camera, as she sounded so excited to be talking about this.)

OF COURSE this will be a White House wedding - anyone who has ever watched network television knows that when a show isn't doing well in the ratings the writers add a wedding (or a baby) to spike the ratings. Well, have you seen this President's rating lately? And since an out-of-wedlock baby wouldn't exactly help the wingnut cause, a wedding was selected. 2008 is an election year, so the electorate will need to be repeatedly hit over the head that the Republican Party is (REALLY! I'M NOT KIDDING!) the "Family Values" party.

Besides, does anyone really think Bush wants his legacy to be Iraq and his lasting image to be that of swaggering on the flight deck in front of the Mission Accomplished banner? No, it would be better to be reminded that he is a husband and father by holding up his drunkard daughter as she staggers down the aisle. Jenna is being used as the sacrificial "virgin" in this melodrama and, of course, the stooge selected to marry her is the Dark Lord's protégé. I can't wait to see the ugly bridesmaid dress Jenna picks out for Ann Coulter. Will Jeff Gannon or Cpl. Matthew Sanchez (a.k.a Rod Majors) be the best man?

Cynical? Moi?

Bush Compares Iraq To Vietnam In Speech To Vet Convention

President Bush, who avoided military duty in Vietnam, will open a new theme in support of sticking with the battle of Iraq today by warning Iraq critics against committing the errors of Vietnam.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded that “the fundamental difference” between the conflicts is that Bush generated support for “the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses.

See also: Bush "was against Vietnam before he was for it."

Original Iraq War Propagandist Ari Fleischer Returns To Flack For Bush’s Escalation

ThinkProgress: Beginning today, Freedom’s Watch, a new right-wing front group for the White House, “will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaignto pressure Congress to continue supporting President Bush’s disastrous Iraq strategy. The group, which is “funded by high-profile Republicans who were aides and supporters of President Bush,” is headed by a familiar face from the Bush war effort: former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.

The privately-funded ad campaign will run in 20 states, featuring Iraq war vets and families of fallen soldiers arguing that the war should continue. The four ads produced so far by Fleischer’s Freedom’s Watch group contain little more than fear-mongering about an Iraq pullout. “They attacked us and they will again. They won’t stop in Iraq,” one ad says. “It will mean more attacks in America,” says another. Yet another ad warns, “We’ve already had one 9/11, we don’t need another.”

... Below are some examples of Fleischer’s well-established record of propagating false assertions and rosy predictions about Iraq:
  • “[T]here’s no question that if force is used, it will achieve the objective of preserving the peace far faster than the current path that we’re on.” [2/14/03]
  • “[G]iven the chance to throw off a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, people will rejoice.” [3/21/03]
  • “[W]hen you take a look at the level of violence inside of Iraq, it is impossible to argue anything other than violence has, indeed, come down as a result of America’s military operations.” [6/25/03]
  • “My point is, the likelihood is much more like Afghanistan, where the people who live right now under a brutal dictator will view America as liberators, not conquerors.” [10/11/02]
  • “There have been contacts between senior members of — senior Iraqi officials and members of the al Qaeda organization, going back for quite a long time. … Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development. There are contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda.” [1/27/03]
  • “There is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly. … And all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.” [3/21/03]
  • “The fact of the matter is, one of the reasons the Iraqi people are supportive of the efforts we’ve had there is because of the effort that’s been done in the reconstruction phase.” [7/1/03]
  • “I think that if you look at the Iraqi people, the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly pleased with the fact the United States has helped them to get rid of the Saddam Hussein regime. That was clear from their dancing in the streets, from the way they tore down the statues. And I think that is the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.” [7/1/03]
  • “[N]o, I don’t think there’s any chance of losing the peace, but it is going to be a battle to continue to win the peace.” [5/19/03]

Not content having misled the nation into war, Fleischer and his White House front group are now set to argue that the bloodiest summer of the war yet is a sign that “that the buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq is working.”

SEE ALSO: An open thank you letter to Ari Fleischer from Tom Matzzie, Washington Director of, and a listing of the politicians targeted by Fleisher.

Iraqi PM Lashes Out at U.S. Critics

Iraq's prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country "can find friends elsewhere."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed the U.S. presidential campaign for the recent tough words about his government, from President Bush and from other U.S. politicians.

Bush on Tuesday said he was frustrated with Iraqi leaders' inability to bridge political divisions. But he added that only the Iraqi people can decide whether to sideline al-Maliki.

"Clearly, the Iraqi government's got to do more," Bush said. "I think there's a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work - come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections."

LSB: Then find some... quickly! Because we're tired of carrying the load alone, you ingrate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

‘Compassionate conservatism’ for kids

Not only has the Bush White House strongly resisted a bipartisan congressional effort to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Plan to include 4 million uninsured American children, now our “compassionate conservative” president is forcing states to limit access for kids, too.
The Bush administration, continuing its fight to stop states from expanding the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program, has adopted new standards that would make it much more difficult for New York, California and others to extend coverage to children in middle-income families. […]

After learning of the new policy, some state officials said yesterday that it could cripple their efforts to cover more children and would impose standards that could not be met.
“We are horrified at the new federal policy,” said Ann Clemency Kohler, deputy commissioner of human services in New Jersey. “It will cause havoc with our program and could jeopardize coverage for thousands of children.”

Apparently, that doesn’t matter. For Bush, it doesn’t matter that more U.S. children would go without healthcare; it doesn’t even matter that this latest effort would impose burdensome regulations from the federal government on states (some of which are run by Republican governors) who want to do more on their own to expand healthcare access. What matters is Bush’s philosophical resistance to a popular government program that offers uninsured children a chance.

Apparently, when you’re a failed, lame-duck president with a Nixon-like approval rating, rigid ideology is all you have left.

- Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"No End In Sight"

The War as We Saw It

New York Times Op-Ed by Army Specialist Buddhika Jayamaha; Sargeant Wesley D. Smith; Sargeant Jeremy Roebuck; Sargeant Omar Mora; Sargeant Edward Sandmeier; Staff Sargeant Yance T. Gray; and Staff Sargeant Jeremy A. Murphy.

Viewed from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

LSB: Anyone think the "Petraeus" (wink-wink) Report will be nearly as insightful?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gonzales perjured himself AGAIN to Congress. Do the Dems care? Or have they no backbone?

There's a general perception in America that Democrats are weak and have no backbone. Democrats can't be trusted with defense, with our military, with the war on terror because they don't know how to fight, lack the will to fight. As an acquaintance said to me before the 2004 elections, she hated Bush, but with regards to Kerry said: "He doesn't defend himself, how is he going to defend my kids?"

So today we find out from the Washington Post that Attorney General Gonzales perjured himself again last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The number of times Gonzales has committed this crime - and it is a crime - is heading towards ten or so, if not more.

From today's Washington Post:

Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday.

One of Mueller's entries in five pages of a daily log pertaining to the dispute also indicated that Ashcroft's deputy was so concerned about undue pressure by Gonzales and other White House aides for the attorney general to back the wiretapping program that the deputy asked Mueller to bar anyone other than relatives from later entering Ashcroft's hospital room.

Mueller's description of Ashcroft's physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.

So what does Judiciary Committee chair Senator Leahy plan to do about it? Hold more hearings? Ooh, scary. We have a criminal as the top law enforcement officer in the land and you people do nothing about it except hold hearings and issue press releases. He has lied to you. He has even lied to you when you asked him about his previous lies. Yet you do nothing. We have a word for people like you. It's "chump." You have the power of the purse. You have the power to defund Gonzales 100% if he doesn't step down. You have the power to defund the US attorney for DC if he won't file charges. You have the power to impeach Gonzles. But instead you hold hearings. When I worked for Ted Stevens, in the minority in the early 90s, with Clinton as president, we simply moved ahead with plans to cut the budget of a senior agency official who crossed our path. It worked wonders.

No Bush official should give the Democrats the time of day. They should just lie, cheat and steal - break the law when they don't get their away, and tell the Dems to go to hell. Hell, it's what the Bushies are already doing, with impunity. Everyone knows the Democrats won't do a damn thing anyway. So if they're going to act like chumps, why not play them like chumps? I really think the only way things are going to change in our country is for everyone and everything to hit rock bottom. The Republicans are going to have to destroy our country in order for Democrats to start defending it.

And the Democrats wonder why people label us the party of wimps?

- John Aravosis,

MORE: Why Mueller’s Notes Matter

Following up on news from late yesterday, FBI Director Robert Mueller agreed to share (redacted) notes he took about the now-infamous hospital visit with John Ashcroft in 2004 with the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Conyers emphasized revelations about the White House seeking Ashcroft’s authorization for Bush’s warrantless surveillance program.

But let’s not overlook that Mueller’s notes have also caught Alberto Gonzales in yet another demonstrable lie.

Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was “feeble,” “barely articulate” and “stressed” moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday. […]

Mueller’s description of Ashcroft’s physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was “lucid” and “did most of the talking” during the brief visit.

Got that? Gonzales publicly testified (remember, lying to Congress is a crime) that Ashcroft was cogent and communicating what Gonzales and Card when to his hospital room to take advantage of him. James Comey has already testified under oath that Gonzales was lying, and now FBI Director Mueller is confirming Comey’s account.

I’ve long since given up keeping track of all the times Gonzales has been caught lying, so I no longer hold any hope that the mendacity will reach a critical mass that will force the AG’s departure. But I am curious how Gonzales’ backers can continue to rationalize obvious falsehoods.

Anonymous Liberal digs even deeper with a terrific post.

- Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars

Friday, August 17, 2007

Giuliani: 'Leave my family alone'

John Aravosis,

Let me get this straight. Rudy Giuliani can pontificate about MY family. He can retract his support for gay civil unions because of his judgment of the worth of my family. But when we look at Giuliani's family, in order to discern his family values, that's off limits.

Then there's Mitt Romney. He's running as the religious right candidate. He wants America to live under religious law. But don't ask Mitt about his own religion, Mormonism - the religion he's going to use as a basis for all those religious laws he's promising to pass. Oh no.

The extremists running the Republican party have two sets of values. The ones they live under, and the ones they expect YOU to live under. They spend like drunken sailors, but they expect you to tighten your belt. They send our troops off to wars based on a lie, without the proper equipment, and you hate the troops. They have more divorces and marriages and affairs than Zsa Zsa Gabor, but you're the threat to family values. And September 11 happens under their watch, but you're the one who's weak on terror.

Family values? I'd like to know if today's Republicans have ANY values.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

US anti-war group ordered to take down Iraq demo posters

A US anti-war group has been warned it will be fined 10,000 dollars if it does not remove posters in Washington announcing a march in the capital next month against US involvement in Iraq, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"The ANSWER Coalition has received citations from the authorities in Washington threatening to fine us 10,000 dollars unless several hundred posters announcing the September 15 march on Washington DC are removed," Sarah Sloan, the staff coordinator for the anti-war group, told AFP.

"We have until Thursday to take down the posters," she said.

Several hundred yellow posters have been put up around Washington announcing the protest, which is timed to coincide with the release of a report by the US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, on progress in the US "surge" strategy of raising troop levels.

Washington city authorities said the posters have to come down because they were stuck on with adhesive that did not meet city regulations.

"The charge about adhesives is false," Sloan said.

"This is a definitely a calculated political move aimed at disrupting the demonstration, which has been organised on a day when the world's eyes will be on Washington for the Petraeus report," she said.

Demonstrators from at least 90 cities around the United States and Canada have already pledged to come to Washington for the march, which will be part of a week of anti-war protests led by veterans of the Iraq war, according to Sloan.

A petition calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, allegedly carrying one million signatures and endorsed by former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, will also be submitted to officials during the week's activities.

ANSWER Coalition website: The fines come after a campaign led by FOX news calling for the DC government to take action against those putting up posters for the September 15 demonstration. Bush’s Interior Department is threatening similar actions against ANSWER. The September 15 posters are legal and conform to city regulations. We will not allow the government's intimidation tactics to slow our outreach or silence the antiwar movement.

FBI Scrutinizes Unlikely Veco Contracts

The FBI wants to know why oil services company Veco Corp. won federal contracts worth $170 million to provide the National Science Foundation with polar and arctic research support, despite having no experience in the field, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

Veco won the federal awards right around the time CEO Bill Allen oversaw the remodeling of Stevens' Girdwood home, another field in which Veco had no prior experience.

Stevens, who has long supported NSF arctic research, would have had authority over NSF funding as a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, though no evidence has surfaced holding Stevens responsible for directly securing the contracts for Veco.

The Daily News spoke with former chairman of the Arctic Research Commission, George Newton about the contracts:

Newton said that when it came time in 1999 to award a polar logistics contract,
it was believed within the NSF and in polar research circles that Veco's
relationship to Stevens' son might give the company an advantage.
Stevens' son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, was identified as one of the state lawmakers namelessly described in Bill Allen's bribery guilty plea. According to the plea, Stevens' company received $243,250 in "consulting fees" from Veco.

Over the years, Veco has won many federal contracts, but throughout the course of the Stevens scandal so far, it's been unclear what exactly the company has allegedly received in exchange for all of the nice gifts and favors sent the way of state and federal politicians. We asked what it is Veco receives back in June and noted the NSF contracts, but this is the first specific contract we've heard of facing FBI scrutiny.

- Laura McGann, TMP

Senator Says He Will Block C.I.A. Nomination

The New York Times:

A Democratic senator said he would indefinitely block President Bush’s nominee to become the C.I.A.'s top lawyer.

“I’m going to keep the hold until the detention and interrogation program is on firm footing, both in terms of effectiveness and legality,” said Senator Ron Wyden (pictured) of Oregon.

Mr. Wyden said he was troubled that John Rizzo, who is the Central Intelligence Agency’s interim general counsel, did not object to a 2002 memo authorizing interrogation techniques that stop just short of inflicting pain equal to that accompanying organ failure or even death.

Mr. Wyden also said he was concerned that an executive order issued last month by Mr. Bush did not clarify legal guidelines regarding detentions and interrogations.

BACKGROUND - ThinkProgress, June 19, 2007:

Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a confirmation hearing for John Rizzo, President Bush’s nominee to become the C.I.A.’s general counsel.

Rizzo has served as an acting general counsel “off and on for the past six years, serving without Senate confirmation.” During his tenure, the CIA has engaged in a wide variety of highly questionable and potentially illegal interrogation practices.

In 2002, Rizzo approved of a memo drafted by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee that stretched the definition of torture in order to make torture permissible in the course of an interrogation. To be torture, the Bybee memo concluded, physical
pain must be “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”

Sen. Ron Wyden asked Rizzo at the hearing, “Do you think you should have objected at the time?” to the Bybee definition of torture. Rizzo answered, “I honestly — I can’t say I should have objected at the time.” To which Wyden replied, “I think that’s unfortunate because it seems to me that language on a very straightforward reading is over the line. And that’s what I think all of us wanted to hear — is that you wish you had objected.” Watch it here.

Also during the hearing, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) asked Rizzo “whether we’ve ever rendered detainees to countries which use torture.” Rizzo said “it’s difficult to give a yes or no answer” in a public hearing and asked that he provide an answer in closed session. Levin noted that in Dec. 2005, Bush said “we do not render to countries that use torture.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mine Safety Czar Richard Stickler: Another Bush Fox Guarding the Henhouse

Max Follmer, Huffington Post:

The man who will oversee the federal government's investigation into the disaster that has trapped six workers in a Utah coal mine for over a week was twice rejected for his current job by senators concerned about his own safety record when he managed mines in the private sector.

President George W. Bush resorted to a recess appointment in October 2006 to anoint Richard Stickler as the nation's mine safety czar after it became clear he could not receive enough support even in a GOP-controlled Senate.

In the wake of the January 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia, senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concern that Stickler was not the right person to combat climbing death rates in the nation's mines.

LSB: No doubt he'll do a "heckuva job" for W.

In 2003, when safety inspectors ordered the owner of a Utah coal mine where six workers have been trapped for more than a week to shut down one of his Ohio operations because of repeated safety problems, local press reports say he did not hesitate to flex his political muscle to get the inspectors off his back.

West Virginia Public Radio reporter Jeff Young filed a story at the time that said Murray Energy Corp. CEO Bob Murray (standing behind Stickler in the photo above) had a meeting in Morgantown, W. Va. with Tim Thompson, then a district manager for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Young obtained notes from the meeting which showed Murray threatening to have MSHA employees fired.

"I will have your jobs. They are gone. The clock is ticking," Young quotes Murray as saying at the meeting.

The notes then go on to say Murray dropped the name of a pair of powerful Republicans in order to underscore his own political clout.

"Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and last time I checked he was sleeping with your boss," Murray told the inspectors, referring to the senior GOP senator from Kentucky.

The quote was repeated in an Oct. 2006 Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader article on McConnell's political influence.

McConnell - the Republican leader in the Senate - is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, who oversees MSHA. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, McConnell has received $176,800 in campaign donations from mining interests since 2001.