Saturday, May 29, 2004

This Week 

I'll be in Las Vegas this week for a conference, so I don't expect to get the opportunity to do any blogging, but keep you eye out for updates, from Sin City! Fake Plastic News will be back in action June 7!


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Fighting in Najaf Suspended. 

Yeah, what Tacitus said:

" Remember Moqtada al-Sadr? He's the paranoid Islamist who ordered the murder of his clerical rival early last summer; staged deadly ambushes of Americans in Baghdad last fall; and ignited a full-scale insurrection prosecuted by his "Mehdi Army" this past April. A thoroughly malign force in Iraqi politics, and a man utterly deserving of the "capture or kill" interdict (very belatedly) placed upon him by the CPA. As for the Mehdi Army itself, the CPA had vowed to destroy it.

The fight against Sadr had been going fairly well: his militia was forced to quit several cities, rival Shi'a had begun denouncing and even killing his followers, and the US Army was slowly winning a deliberate battle of attrition pushed into the very heart of the Shi'a holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Note that the latter would never have occured without the tacit approval of the non-Sadrist Shi'a power structure. It was a fight we were winning, and an end we were surely going to achieve.

But as with Fallujah, so with Sadr: it appears we are choosing an illusory political solution and abandoning our original stated goals. The BBC reports that the CPA has agreed to suspend offensive operations and drop the arrest warrant against Sadr in exchange for....well, it's unclear what we get in return. BBC says the Mehdi Army will leave Najaf. NYT says that only some of the Mehdi Army will depart. WaPo states only that the Mehdi Army is "pulling back." But where will they go?

Sadr City, of course.

Expect CPA rhetoric shortly on how Najaf, et al., are "secure," and how the "fighting has ended," or something very similar. These things will be presented as victories, as if they were our aims all along. But they weren't: Najaf was never a wholesale city in arms the way Fallujah was, and we had no interest in holding it for its own sake; and our stated aims in this campaign were the death or capture of Moqtada Sadr, and the destruction of the Mehdi Army. Neither of these aims were achieved. This is not victory.

The Mehdi Army remains a force in being. Moqtada al-Sadr walks free. And, as in Anbar province, home of Fallujah, we can expect that the killing will simply shift elsewhere. Another American failure to secure victory begins its slow transformation into a perceived American defeat. Question: are we at all capable of articulating and sticking with a coherent strategic or operational goal? Why not?"


Got Him! 

Captain Hook gets the hook, and will probably wind up in Guantanamo Bay.

Update: More on Hamza and his alleged plans to start an Oregon terror camp.


Hack the Hacker? 

Slate ponders if it's time to execute computer hackers, in the name of deterrence:

"Let's do the math. What do we get out of executing a murderer? Deterrence. A high-end estimate is that each execution deters about 10 murders. (The highest estimate I've ever seen is 24 murders deterred per execution, but the closest thing to a consensus estimate in the econometric literature is about eight.) That's 10 lives saved, with a value—again a high-end estimate—of about $10 million apiece. (The closet thing to a consensus estimate in the economics literature is about $7 million per life. I am rounding up.) So let's say the benefit of executing a murderer is roughly 10 times $10 million, or $100 million—and that's probably at the high end.

Compare that to the benefit of executing the author of a computer worm, virus, or Trojan. There seems to be no good name for such people, so I'll make one up—at least until some reader sends in a better suggestion, I'll call them "vermiscripters." It's estimated that vermiscripting and related activities cost the world about $50 billion a year. So if a single execution could deter just one-fifth of 1 percent of all vermiscripting for just one year, we'd gain the same $100-million benefit we earn by executing a killer. Anything over one-fifth of 1 percent, and any effects that last beyond the first year, are gravy."

Somewhere in Washington...George W. Bush hears the word "execute" and gets excited.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A GOP Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand 

From Tapped, more pissed offGOP'ers.

"But it doesn't look far off. A number of moderate Republican senators -- and I'm not just thinking of everybody's favorite McMaverick -- are inching closer to full-on condemnation of the president and his advisors. The top candidate for committing party treason on the Senate floor seems to be Chuck Hagel, the Nebraskan who sits on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees. He's been off-message for a while, but the past week has brought some strikingly disapproving comments. In an interview with Prospect columnist Terence Samuel, published in U.S. News & World Report, Hagel said: "We need new ideas, new thinking. That's what I would tell the president: 'Mr. President, you've got to spend some time by yourself... go run or look out a window.' "

Now, it should be noted that Hagel also said he would support Bush's re-election, but he has to know that this sounds like a call for Bush to follow in the great Texan tradition of declining to run for a second term. He's also repeatedly criticized key Bush advisors, though rarely by name; Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle are all named in the U.S. News article. Speaking on CNN Late Edition, Hagel said that Bush "essentially hold[s] h<"imself hostage to two or three key advisers," and expressed support for more Democratic involvement"



More on the NeoCON double agent Chalabi's Iran links, from War and Piece:

VINCENT CANNISTRARO: Oh yeah, I think that's the case, but in this instance, it's not CIA that is the action agency, it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is a law enforcement agency, because the evidence has pointed quite clearly, not only the fact that Chalabi might be an agent of influence of the Iranian government and that Karim may be a paid agent of the Iranian intelligence service, but it is shown that there is a leak of classified information from the United States to Iran through Chalabi and Karim and that is the particular point that the FBI is investigating...

TANYA NOLAN: And what was the nature of that highly classified information that was allegedly being passed to Tehran?

VINCENT CANNISTRARO: Well, there are differing reports but some of it I'm told centres on highly compartmented information of US military order of battle for one thing, and other special compartmented information that may have been passed.

I'm not privy to the classified information myself but I am told that the investigators are operating on the basis that very, very sensitive and highly classified information the US Government had, was given on an unauthorised basis to Chalabi and Aras.


Failure to Finish the Job 

Our decision to pull out of Fallujah, thus giving the insurgents a feeling of victory have already led to horrible repercussions:

"With U.S. marines gone and central government authority virtually nonexistent, Fallujah resembles an Islamic mini-state - anyone caught selling alcohol is flogged and paraded in the city. Men are encouraged to grow beards and barbers are warned against giving "western" hair cuts.

After all the blood that was shed, and the lives that were lost, we shall only accept God's law in Fallujah," said cleric Abdul-Qader al-Aloussi, offering a glimpse of what a future Iraq may look like as the U.S.-led occupation draws to a close. "We must capitalize on our victory over the Americans and implement Islamic sharia laws."

The departure of the marines under an agreement that ended the three-week siege last month has enabled hardline Islamic leaders to assert their power in this once-restive city 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Some were active in defending the city against the marines and have profited by a perception - both here and elsewhere in Iraq - that the mujahedeen, or Islamic holy warriors, defeated a superpower."

Many of the mujahedeen who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan also believe that through their belief in Allah(NOT through help from the U.S and others), they defeated a Superpower. That led to more chaos, then the Taliban.


The Strange Case of Brandon Mayfield 

So Brandon Mayfield is a former U.S. Army soldier who has converted to Islam, become a lawyer, and is now representing members of the "Portland Seven", who were arrested on terrorism-related charges. Recently, he was picked up on charges that his fingerprints matched prints found in Madrid:

"Days after the train bombings in Madrid last March killed 191 people, the Spanish authorities, unable to find a match with a set of fingerprints found on a plastic bag full of detonators, sent the Federal Bureau of Investigation a digital copy, hoping the bureau could find what they could not.

The F.B.I. quickly and confidently found a match to a Portland-area lawyer, setting in motion a chain of events that led the authorities in the United States to link the wrong man to those fingerprints, tie him to Islamic terrorists, arrest him on a material-witness warrant, jail him for 14 days, drop the entire case on Monday and then face withering questions about how the investigation could have gone so wrong.

Court records unsealed Tuesday showed that the Spanish authorities had raised questions about the F.B.I.'s fingerprint match to the lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, 37, weeks before his May 6 arrest. Yet F.B.I. officials were so confident of a match they described as "100 percent," the court papers show, that they never bothered to look at the original print while they were in Madrid on April 21, meeting with Spanish investigators."
Pretty bizarre. Was he in Spain around the time of the March 11 bombings? Do any of the bomb materials trace back to him? Of the billions of people in the world, how did the FBI come up with what they thought were his fingerprints? The NYT even says:
"The people in the lab looking at the fingerprint had no idea what Mr. Mayfield's background was," said an F.B.I. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That had absolutely no role in any of this."
If that is true, it is as coincidental as Nick Berg's random encounter with an acquaintance of Zacarias Moussaoui, which I still find hard to believe. I wonder if the FBI is trying to taint him, in order to hurt his defense of one of the "Portland Seven"? I assume we will hear more about this, but it's already getting a little weird.



Apparently the use of torture is more widespread:
"But Maj. Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, said Spc. Sean Baker's medical discharge last month was not related to the head injury he received during training at the detention center, where the U.S. government is holding suspected terrorists. She declined to elaborate, citing medical privacy laws.

Arellano's comments came a day after Baker said he posed as an uncooperative prisoner and was beaten so badly by four U.S. soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury, requiring a medical discharge.

Baker, of Georgetown, said the soldiers only stopped beating him when they realized he might be American

Castro would be proud.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bush's Speech 

Here are President Bush's 5 steps to building a democratic Iraq:
1. Handing over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government.
2. Establishing security.
3. Continuing to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
4. Encouraging more international support.
5. Moving toward a national election in Iraq that "will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people."

Pretty good huh? That list sort of reminds me of my "5 year plan":

1. Go Back to School.
2. Get a good job.
3. Save money to buy a house.
4. Get married.
5. Plan to have kids.

It's a solid list, with my main objectives to "success", but what has to happen for me to accomplish each? In order to go back to school, I have to get a loan, get my undergrad transcripts, get letters of recommendations, etc. Of course, at that point, I still have to get my Masters, then hopefully get a "good job".

Bush's first point, "handing over sovereignty" sounds good, but who are handing over power to? I hope we can "Establish security", but if we continue to do like we did in Fallujah, and allow the insurgents to get away with standing up to our troops, and then send in Iraqi forces, who are made up of Iraq insurgents, that's no way to establish security. "Encouraging more International support"? Good luck, after the Bush administration ran around calling France and Germany "Old Europe", does he have the guts to ask them for help? Will they help?

Nobody(except the NeoCONS and Bush), thought this would be easy, but I think even Bush's toughest critics, didn't think we would be so inept.

Tapped has a good analysis of the "Full sovereignty" coming soon to Iraq. Or is it?


Monday, May 24, 2004

K Street 

The new arena for Tom DeLay Vs. Dick Armey. Well worth the read.

"Although he is out of Congress and the GOP leadership, Armey makes his comments at some personal risk; he is now a lobbyist on Washington's fabled K Street, which is ruthlessly patrolled by DeLay and his key ally, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. For years, Norquist and DeLay have worked to purge the nation's corporate lobby shops of Democrats, and companies that fill GOP campaign coffers with money are rewarded with access to lawmakers. Enemies don't get their calls returned, and without access, they lose clients. Access is coordinated by the White House, often through the office of another powerful Texan, political strategist Karl Rove.

For two years, the assistant who answered Rove's phone was a woman who had previously worked for lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close friend of Norquist's and a top DeLay fundraiser. One Republican lobbyist, who asked not to be named because DeLay and Rove have the power to ruin his livelihood, said the way Rove's office worked was this: "Susan took a message for Rove, and then called Grover to ask if she should put the caller through to Rove. If Grover didn't approve, your call didn't go through."


Training Wheels 

This is what I like to hear from John Kerry. He can't be afraid to pull any punches. It certainly was a "Dean like" statment. If Bush said this about Al Gore in 2000, the press would have loved it, and cited it as an example of Bush being a "regular guy" or "plain spoken".

Also, it appears Kos has exposed another lie. Can Bush tell the truth about anything?


Strategic Necessity makes Strange Bedfellows 

Another example of U.S. hypocrisy, this time in Uzbekistan:

"At the same time, many observers believe the government’s refusal to implement reforms has the country on the brink of an economic collapse. Until now Karimov has stonewalled US pressure for reforms, believing that Washington needs the Uzbek air base as much as he needs American assistance. He seems to be counting on the fact that strategic necessity trumps human rights practices in the eyes of US policy makers. Whether or not his calculation is correct; the fact is that he has still not felt sufficiently motivated to make any substantive effort to reform.

The chief danger for the United States is that of being seen as Karimov's accomplice. US officials may not like what's going on in Tashkent, but strategic considerations -- specifically the fact that there is an American base in southern Uzbekistan - has prompted the Bush administration to keep any criticism of Karimov mainly under wraps. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

With Karimov seeming to defy US pressure for reform, it appears as if Washington supports his policies. Given the growing dislike for Karimov's administration, the United States may easily come to be seen as an anti-popular force in Uzbekistan. But even beyond the danger of being seen as excessively attached to Karimov, the violence in March revealed what is the most serious danger -- namely the threat of Uzbekistan becoming a failing state. Such a development could create a void quickly filled by Islamic militants.

We're essentially giving the extremists recruiting talking points, by appearing to support the Karimov regime. How can we expect to win the "War on Terror", when we support a government that terrorizes its own citizens?


Saturday, May 22, 2004

Who let the Saudis leave? 

Looks like Bush hasn't been as helpful as we thought:

"Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), vice chairman of the independent, bipartisan commission, disclosed the administration’s refusal to answer questions on the sensitive subject during a recent closed-door meeting with a group of Democratic senators, according to several Democratic sources.

However, former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican appointee who also attended the meeting, said in an e-mail to The Hill that he told the senators the White House has been fully cooperative.

Democrats suspect President Bush, who met privately with the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, on the morning of Sept. 13, 2001, may have personally authorized the controversial flights, several of which took place when all other U.S. commercial air travel had been halted.

The White House communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If Bush or members of his inner circle are shown to have approved the flight of the prominent Saudi Arabian citizens, it could be damaging to Bush, who has staked his re-election campaign in large measure to his carefully built image as the steady leader of the war against terrorism."


Friday, May 21, 2004


How does this guy still have a job?

"Abu Ghraib is only the latest of the Pentagon's Feith-based problems. During the buildup to the war, Feith oversaw the two offices that have since been criticized for politicizing intelligence and for inadequately planning for the occupation. The first group was known as the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Unit, and it was established to find links between terrorist organizations and their state sponsors. The group issued a report about connections between Iraq and al-Qaida that Rumsfeld had Feith deliver to CIA Director George Tenet in August 2002. This was reportedly the same report that Vice President Cheney recently called "your best source of information" on the links between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein...

The other office Feith oversees, the Office of Special Plans, probably wrought even worse damage that the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Unit: Its job was postwar planning, which even many conservatives now admit has been a disaster. As USA Today's Walter Shapiro put it this month when he summed up a one-year anniversary panel discussion on Iraq at the American Enterprise Institute (hardly a bastion of the antiwar left): "An easy summary of the overall impression fostered by the panel would be: Right war, wrong postwar plan."


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

When Bullies Reigned Supreme 

It was 30 years ago today.


The Incredible Stretching Army 

It's wrose than we think:

"The question is often asked, Can we really build up the Army now through a volunteer system? Would we not have to restore the draft to increase the force? The answer is that we can certainly recruit more soldiers. Amazingly, recruitment has not suffered significantly from the war or the impositions on soldiers today. But additional troops will not be picked up instantly. It takes time to recruit and train new soldiers. This is why we should make haste. The longer we delay, the longer it will take before any relief comes into sight for our weary and overworked soldiers.

Instead of providing for such relief, congressmen, often claiming to be bold, are proposing budgetary band-aids, while the secretary of defense justifies their claims by steadfastly objecting even to those band-aids. This behavior is difficult to comprehend in an administration that took office promising that help was on the way to a military starved by the Clinton administration. Yet even today, with the Army at the breaking point and Iraq on the edge of catastrophe, there is no help coming from the Bush administration."


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Sweet Jumping Jesus 

From the Village Voice (Via Atrios):

"Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios...

They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth....

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel'sdisengagement from the Gaza Strip."


U.S. Troops crossing Into Pakistan? 

Election year is heating up, and I guess, so is the hunt for "high valued targets":

"On Monday, according to tribal sources who spoke to Asia Times Online, US forces intruded into North Waziristan, resulting in the death of two tribals in a skirmish.

Prior to this, there have been reports of US forces crossing over to villages in the Datakhail area, and a tribal chief by the name of Malik Noor Khan was arrested in the Bacha Mela area (North Waziristan) . He is being interrogated in connection with the whereabouts of Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani - a former Taliban minister and now a key resistance figure - and other foreign fighters. According to sources in North Waziristan, Pakistani Army and paramilitary forces turned a blind eye to the US patrols, which returned to Afghanistan of their own accord."


When will they know the truth? 

From Josh Marshall's Q&A with a friend who is a retired military intelligence officer, now a contractor in Iraq:

Unlike the wars of the past 20 years where the Army encouraged (needed) soldiers, NGOs, allies and civil organizations to work together to resolve matters and return to normal society, the US Forces only trust themselves here and that means they set their own limits and tolerances. Abu Ghuraib are good examples of that limit. I told a Journalist the other day that these kids here are being told that they are chasing Al Qaeda in the War on Terrorism so they think everyone at Abu Ghuraib had something to do with 9/11. So they were encouraged to make them pay. These kids thought they were going to be honored for hunting terrorists"


Monday, May 17, 2004

The Boss vs. the Prez? 

This would be cool:

"Democratic operatives are buzzing that the Boss has been talking about staging a free concert somewhere on Sept. 2, when President Bush is due to address the Republican National Convention.

Besides getting out the vote, Springsteen hopes to provide "counterprogramming to the message the Republicans will be broadcasting," says a source.

A spokeswoman for Springsteen would only say, "There are no confirmed Bruce shows for 2004."


Zell Miller  

Senate turncoat on John Kerry:

"This man could not find Main Street with both hands. You can't make a chicken swim and you can't make John Kerry anything but an out-of-touch, ultra-liberal from Taxachusetts." (Miller on Imus in the Morning)

Zell Miller on Kerry, just a few years ago (from Kerry for President):

"While U.S. Senator Zell Miller has signaled his support for George Bush, the facts are Miller and Kerry have the exact same record when it comes to defending the nation and Miller even called Kerry an "Authentic American Hero" who has "Worked to Strengthen Our Military."

"I've been going to Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners in Georgia since the 1950s, so I've seen a lot of speeches," says Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), easily the Senate Democrat most supportive of the Bush agenda. "Kerry's was by far the best speech I have ever heard given at a function like that. He talked about citizen-soldiers and he talked about the flag raisers at Iwo Jima. It was a very good, touching speech." (Salon, Aug. 10, 2001)

"My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend. He was once a lieutenant governor - but he didn't stay in that office 16 years, like someone else I know. It just took two years before the people of Massachusetts moved him into the United States Senate in 1984. -- U.S. Senator Zell Miller (Remarks to the Democratic Party of Georgia Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2001)"

"In his 16 years in the Senate, John Kerry has fought against government waste and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington. Early in his Senate career in 1986, John signed on to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Bill, and he fought for balanced budgets before it was considered politically correct for Democrats to do so. John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment." -- U.S. Senator Zell Miller (Remarks to the Democratic Party of Georgia Jefferson Jackson Dinner 2001)

Kerry & Miller Have Supported the Exact Same Intelligence Funding in the Senate -- Since joining the Senate in 2000, Zell Miller and John Kerry have supported the exact same funding levels for America's Intelligence agencies. John Kerry served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for 6 years and is the former Vice Chairman of the Committee. Kerry joined the Committee in early 1993 and served until early 2001. Zell Miller has not served on the Intelligence Committee, Armed Services Committee or the Foreign Relations Committee in his four years in the Senate.

FY04 Intel Authorization (2003, Unanimous Senate Voice Vote 11/21/03) FY03 Intel Authorization (2002, Unanimous Senate Voice Vote 09/25/02) FY02 Intel Authorization (2001, Unanimous Senate Voice Vote 12/13/01) FY01 Intel Authorization (2000, Unanimous Senate Voice Vote 12/06/00)

FACT: John Kerry & Zell Miller Have Both Supported Increases in Defense Funding -- including the Largest since the 1980's

John Kerry & Zell Miller are Both Strong Supporters of America's Military & Voted for the "Largest Increase in Defense Spending Since the Early 1980's" -- John Kerry and Zell Miller are strong supporters of the U.S. Armed Services and has consistently worked to ensure the military has the best equipment and training possible. In 2002, John Kerry & Zell Miller voted for a large increase in the defense budget. This increase provided more than $355 billion for the Defense Department for 2003, an increase of $21 billion over 2002. This measure includes $71.5 billion for procurement programs such as $4 billion for the Air Force's F-22 fighter jets, $3.5 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter and $279.3 million for an E-8C Joint Stars (JSTARS) aircraft. Kerry's vote also funded a 4.1 percent pay increase for military personnel, $160 million for the B-1 Bomber Defense System Upgrade, $1.5 billion for a new attack submarine, more than $630 million for Army and Navy variants of the Blackhawk helicopter, $3.2 billion for additional C-17 transports, $900 million for R&D of the Comanche helicopter and more than $800 million for Trident Submarine conversion. (Kerry for President)


Who Is Abu Zarqawi? 

Besides the man blamed for every anti-Coalition attack in Iraq...
From the Weekly Standard:

"In his camps, Zarqawi dispensed his specialized knowledge of chemical weapons and poisons to loyal followers, who then dispersed to the Middle East and Europe. The week of April 19, Jordanian police broke up a Zarqawi-financed and orchestrated plot they estimate would have detonated 20 tons of chemicals and released a cloud of poisonous gas into central Amman. The blast could have killed some 80,000 civilians and destroyed the U.S. embassy and Jordanian intelligence headquarters. In a videotaped confession shown on Jordanian TV, the head of the cell admitted, "I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning."


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Troy II 

I saw Troy last night, and I wish I saw the Olsen Twins movie instead. Troy was too long, too predictable (yes it's an ancient story) and too poorly written. Brad Pitt is no Russell Crowe, and to make up for that, Director Wolfgang Peterson shot several scenes of a naked Pitt lying around, just to guarantee some females will check out Troy just to see that. If someone asks you to go see it, I highly recommend doing laundry instead, you'll get more out of it.


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Police Endorse Kerry 

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers have endorsed John Kerry for President.
"After three and a half years of disappointing leadership under George Bush, we need to change course in November and elect a president with a real record of supporting police officers and a lifetime of standing with law enforcement," IBPO President David Holway said in a statement provided by the Kerry campaign."

You can say that again. So now, the Firefighters union and the Police Officers union have endorsed Kerry. I guess Bush's 9-11 Photo ops didn't work.



More Kerry-McCain ticket talk, this time from the New York Times.

"This kind of open speculation suggests that Democrats are so eager to regain the White House in November that they are willing to overlook members of their own party, and to accept a candidate who disagrees with one of the core tenets of their platform, the right to an abortion. At the same time, the Kerry-McCain talk is testimony to the close friendship between the two, and the cool relationship between Mr. McCain and President Bush. The senator from Arizona is co-chairman of President Bush's re-election campaign there, but it is no secret in Washington that Mr. McCain has not quite forgiven Mr. Bush for the attacks on him during the 2000 Republican presidential primaries."


Friday, May 14, 2004


I'm looking forward to seeing Troy this weekend. Can Brad Pitt be as good as Russell Crowe was in Gladiator? Look for a review on Monday.


Bush Loves Votes, not his Daughters 

Bush will NOT be attending his daughters graduation ceremonies, citing security concerns, but instead will give a commencement address at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis.

Hmm...Louisiana, a State that Kerry could win, Wisconsin a State that Bush hopes to win and of course, the Air Force.

"Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, said they did not want to subject other families to the disruptions of a presidential visit when Barbara Bush graduates from Yale University on May 24 in New Haven and Jenna Bush graduates from the University of Texas on May 22 in Austin."

Bush doesn't want to subject Yale families to the "disruptions of a presidential visit", but he's more than willing to disrupt the ceremonies at the other schools?


Oil Prices at Record High 

So much for having an Oil industry President and Vice President. I thought the war in Iraq was supposed to help keep oil prices down.


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Tom Friedman finally wakes up:

"Yes, that's true. I still believe that. My mistake was thinking that the Bush team believed it, too. I thought the administration would have to do the right things in Iraq — from prewar planning and putting in enough troops to dismissing the secretary of defense for incompetence — because surely this was the most important thing for the president and the country. But I was wrong. There is something even more important to the Bush crowd than getting Iraq right, and that's getting re-elected and staying loyal to the conservative base to do so. It has always been more important for the Bush folks to defeat liberals at home than Baathists abroad. That's why they spent more time studying U.S. polls than Iraqi history. That is why, I'll bet, Karl Rove has had more sway over this war than Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Bill Burns. Mr. Burns knew only what would play in the Middle East. Mr. Rove knew what would play in the Middle West."

Update: CNN's Tucker Carlson joins the club:
“I think it’s a total nightmare and disaster, and I’m ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it," he said. "It’s something I’ll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who’s smarter than I am, and I shouldn’t have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I’m enraged by it, actually."


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Iraq Prisoner Abuse-What Do You Think? 

Simple answers from normal people.


The Rocket 

"Clemens, who will soon turn 42, is pitching like someone half his age. He's off to a 7-0 start with a 2.11 ERA and opposing batters are hitting a paltry .193 against him"

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that is arguably the best pitcher all-time. He just keeps getting better.


Broken Engagement 

The great General Wesley Clark, compares Reagan's Cold War strategy to Bush's Middle East strategy, and there's a BIG difference.

"Bush, of course, has accompanied his invasion of Iraq with similarly bold and eloquent rhetoric about the prospect of peace and democracy throughout the Arab world. But it is hard to exaggerate how differently his words and deeds have been received in the Middle East, compared to Reagan's behind the Iron Curtain. While heartening some advocates of democracy, Bush's approach has provoked perhaps the fiercest and most alarming anti-American backlash in history. To take but one example, a March poll conducted by the Pew Center found that the percentage of people in Muslim countries who think suicide bombings are justified has grown by roughly 40 percent since the American occupation of Iraq. Even the most Western-friendly, pro-democratic media outlets in countries such as Jordan and Lebanon now openly question whether the Americans are anti-Islamic crusaders bent on assisting the Israeli occupiers of Palestine. This is a long way from Prague, circa 1989. "

Dear Senator John Kerry,

Please pick Wesley Clark as your Vice President.




Coke is it 

More from our friends the Saudis. This time cocaine smuggling.

"The stench of cynicism wreathes the actions of both conservative Western governments. For the Bush administration, Saudi cooperation in the war on terrorism (a major electoral issue) was more important than bagging the smuggling prince — which could well have jeopardized U.S.–Saudi relations, given Nayef’s high-level position in the royal family. Moreover, the book suggests that the real motivation of the already wealthy prince — a non-drinker and non-smoker who is said to be a strict observer of the Koran — in turning smuggler was to assure a secret source of funding for Wahabiite fundamentalism (just as the sanctimonious Taliban trafficked heroin to support their jihads)."


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Nick Berg 

Terrible story here

It raises some questions though: His family rushed to file a lawsuit against the US Military in Fed. Court on April 5. He is released on April 6. He then is "missing" and "out of touch with anyone on April 9, through today, but the family makes no efforts to do anything during the entire month?

Clearly, the US authorities knew about this guy, how did we not hear about him being held hostage, or as a POW?

I imagine will be hearing more from the Berg family.

From Sullivan:
"Let's start an internet campaign to insist that the major media - including the New Yorker, the networks, the major newsweeklies, and every major paper - run a picture of Zarqawi holding up Nick Berg's severed head. It's time to release the Pearl video and stills too. Enough with the double standards. The media were absolutely right to show the abuse photos. But they are only part of the story. It's about time the media gave us all of it, however harrowing it is."

I haven't seen the Berg video, but I have seen the Pearl video. It is as horrible as can be imagined. I think this Iraq war was an incompetently planned distraction from the War on Terror, but NOW, to an extent, they are one in the same. The average American (and Westerner)does need to know who we are up against. I do see Sully's point. There's an excerpt in Charlie Wilson's War, where it is said that during the Soviet-Afghan War, Soviet soldiers always carried an extra bullet with them-to use on themselves, if they were ever caught by the mujihadeen. Because if they were caught, there fate would be much worse than a bullet...

Update: Before the Iraq war, the Bush administration passed up several chances to get Zarqawi (the culprit behind this latest murder), because if they destroyed his terrorist camp in Northern Iraq, it would've undercut their justification for going to war!

Something about Zarqawi doesn't seem right to me. He could very well be responsible for much of the violence over there, but it's so easy to find a scapegoat.



Via Josh Marshall

"Clothing himself in shame, Sen. Inhofe on Abu Ghraib: "I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment ... These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals."

Of course, according to American military intelligence officers who spoke with the ICRC, 70% to 90% of the detainees in Iraq were there by mistake.

Another example of how liberal democracy can't be spread by the most illiberal elements in American society.

According to CNN, McCain walked out during Inhofe's statement."


This is a Highly Readable Book 

If I ever choose to write a book, I never want those words to be in a review of my book. Washington Times's chief White House butt kisser Bill Sammon's(you may remember him from Bush's last press conference, when he was called on as one of the President's "Must asks". Of course, he gave a softball question, after Pretzel Boy stumbled on all serious questions.) new book is out, just in time for the election and to act as a counterweight to Richard Clarke/Bob Woodward's damning book on Bush and his Administration. I don't believe anyone will read this one.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Here We Go Again 

Just in time for campaign season, your latest terror threat! Coming off the bench, the dreaded Dirty Bomb! With the usual cast of characters: the ex-Soviet agents, Al Qaeda's Weapons of Mass Destruction Committee (are the members of the committee appointed, or is there an election?), and other assorted "evil doers".

I wonder if the press just recycles old news, or do we really have something to worry about?


Friday, May 07, 2004

An Amazing Story 

True story of a U.S. soldier who parachuted into France during D-Day, twice escaped a Nazi POW camp, and later fought alongside the Red Army.


What Iraq Policy? 

Juan Cole goes ballistic on the Bush Administration and their Iraq "policy":

"The Bush administration keeps talking about bringing democracy to the Middle East, but a key element in democracy is always the accountability of public officials to the public. That is why we have elections, that is why we have a division of powers, that is why Congress can impeach the executive and the Supreme Court could order Nixon to hand over his tape recordings. When high officials commit improprieties, they must resign. When they run a loose ship and it founders on the shoals of scandal, they must resign. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz must resign. It is the only way the United States can recover even a shred of credibility in the wider world, at a time when this country desperately needs the esteem and the cooperation of allies and friends."


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Bad Idea 

Hopefully Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig comes to his Spider Senses and realizes that putting ads on the bases is a bad idea. The current plan of putting Spiderman 2 ad on the bases for a few days in June, sets a bad precedent that could cause baseball to sell out more, and put ads everywhere they can. It's a slippery slope that I fear, could happen.

Congressman Nethercutt's letter to Selig.

Update: The Yankees will put ads on the bases only during batting practice, and then just for one game.


Fire Rumsfeld  

Friedman calls for Rumsfeld's firing. I second that.

"We are in danger of losing something much more important than just the war in Iraq. We are in danger of losing America as an instrument of moral authority and inspiration in the world. I have never known a time in my life when America and its president were more hated around the world than today. I was just in Japan, and even young Japanese dislike us. It's no wonder that so many Americans are obsessed with the finale of the sitcom "Friends" right now. They're the only friends we have, and even they're leaving...

This administration needs to undertake a total overhaul of its Iraq policy; otherwise, it is courting a total disaster for us all.

That overhaul needs to begin with President Bush firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld — today, not tomorrow or next month, today. What happened in Abu Ghraib prison was, at best, a fundamental breakdown in the chain of command under Mr. Rumsfeld's authority, or, at worst, part of a deliberate policy somewhere in the military-intelligence command of sexually humiliating prisoners to soften them up for interrogation, a policy that ran amok."

I don't understand how nobody has been held responsible (i.e. fired) for the intelligence failure of 9-11 and theincompetentlyy conducted War in Iraq. For a President who wants to be the "CEO President", he sure hasn't learned how to run a business. I guess that was obvious when his oil companies went bankrupt, and had to be bailed out by his daddy's friends.


Some Things Never Change 

Justice, in Bush's new BFF (best friend forever) Moammar Gadhafi's Libya:

"Prosecutors had demanded death sentences, accusing the Bulgarians of intentionally infecting more than 400 children with HIV-contaminated blood as part of an experiment to find a cure for AIDS. Twenty-three of the children reportedly have since died of AIDS.

Human rights groups charged Libya concocted that story, despite a lack of evidence against the Bulgarians, to cover up a lack of safe practices in its medical clinics.

Libya initially claimed the infections were part of a conspiracy by the CIA and Israeli intelligence, but later backed away from those allegations.

The suspects have said they were jolted with electricity, beaten with sticks and repeatedly jumped on while strapped to their beds. Two of the women said they were raped."


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Swift Boat Veterans for Lies 

A nice evaluation on the frauds who have come out against Kerry.

"Their call for Kerry to release his Naval records is a little odd, because, uh, Kerry's already released all his Naval records. The original documents can be downloaded from his web site here. I emailed "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" to let them know where they can find the records (although the exact words I used were slightly less polite). You may want to do the same. "


Magic Bus-Picture of the Day 

Is that a FRENCH flag Bush is leaning on? Who knew he was a Francophile.

From the convervative Tacitus:

"So the Prez is off on his bus tour, or at least he flies to spots along the way, and gets on the Prevost bus for a photo op. Anyway, it turns out that GW is riding...Canadian. French Canadian. Good god, man. Don't they make buses for fake bus tours in America? Just wondering. In case we're done talking about Kerry's SUV. "



Last night, the Flyers finished off the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2, to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. They will face the Tampa Bay Lightening, who the Flyers haven't beaten this year. However, the Flyers seem to be running on all cylinders, so I expect that streak to end. Flyers in 6.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004

More on Catholic Kerry 

Andrew Sullivan weighs in on the Kerry-Catholic "scandal"


George Will 

Bush has even lost George Will.

"This Administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts. Thinking is not the reiteration of bromides about how "all people yearn to live in freedom" (McClellan). And about how it is "cultural condescension" to doubt that some cultures have the requisite aptitudes for democracy (Bush). And about how it is a "myth" that "our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture" because "ours are not Western values; they are the universal values of the human spirit" (Tony Blair)."

But don't forget, our President still can't think of any mistakes he has made.


Technical Difficulties 

Due to technical difficulties (yes, being hungover counts as a "technical difficulty") and a death in the family (cat), I haven't been able to do much blogging. Hopefully, things are under control now (with my computer, not the booze) and there will be some regular posts. Thanks for your patience.


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