Monday, January 31, 2005

U.S. Civilian Contractor Deaths 

232 dead. In addition to 1435 U.S. soldiers. Yes, they signed up to go there, to make money, but they still died. You can call them victims of Bush's economy.


The Arcade Fire 

A welcome addition to any iPod-Amazing stuff. Art-Rock/Post-Punk/Pop, you name it, and it's there. The Village Voice says it best:
Funeral is a remarkable record, hard to hear at first, then hard to stop hearing.
Check them out.


Bush's Lex Luther? 

I certainly believe that Zarqawi exists, and is a terrible person, but is he really the terrorist mastermind that we make him out to be? Or, is "just" a terrorist that we built up to serve as the mastermind of anti-US resistence/terror in Iraq? Sort of a face-behind-the-terror type of thing? I really have no idea, but some of the things he says are so good for propoganda purposes, I find it hard to believe he is real.
If President Bush wanted to conjure up someone from central casting to act as a foil to his inauguration call for worldwide freedom, he couldn't ask for a villain more fitting than the terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, who, on the eve of Iraqi elections, denounced democracy as an "evil principle."

In a widely disseminated Internet audiotape, Zarqawi didn't merely say that he opposed the mechanics or timing of the U.S.-run elections being held today in Iraq to choose a 275-member assembly and transitional government. And he didn't say he thought Iraqis should wait and vote after U.S. occupation forces depart. No, Zarqawi said that he opposes any elections under any circumstances...

The good news is that the anti-democratic rhetoric by Zarqawi and bin Laden crystallizes the political choices facing Muslims worldwide. The jihadis' antidemocratic stance is unpalatable to the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Mainstream clerics and Islamists have condemned the kidnapping and beheading of civilians and other abuses. After the U.S.-led assault on the insurgent stronghold in Fallujah in November, Zarqawi lashed out at senior Muslim scholars and clerics for their silence and tepid backing. "You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy," he reportedly said on an audiotape.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Neocons: Red, Blue or Green? 

Interesting piece on Neocons going Green for fuel efficiency.
President Bush has a simple policy about energy: produce more of it. The former oilman has packed his administration with veterans of the oil and coal industries. And for most of the first Bush term, his energy policy and his foreign policy were joined at the hip. Since the Bush administration believed that controlling the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf was critically important to the American economy, the invasion of Iraq seemed to serve both the president's energy goals and his foreign policy ones.

But a curious transformation is occurring in Washington, D.C., a split of foreign policy and energy policy: Many of the leading neoconservatives who pushed hard for the Iraq war are going green. James Woolsey, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and staunch backer of the Iraq war, now drives a 58-miles-per-gallon Toyota Prius and has two more hybrid vehicles on order. Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy and another neocon who championed the war, has been speaking regularly in Washington about fuel efficiency and plant-based bio-fuels.

The alliance of hawks and environmentalists is new but not entirely surprising. The environmentalists are worried about global warming and air pollution. But Woolsey and Gaffney—both members of the Project for the New American Century, which began advocating military action against Saddam Hussein back in 1998—are going green for geopolitical reasons, not environmental ones. They seek to reduce the flow of American dollars to oil-rich Islamic theocracies, Saudi Arabia in particular. Petrodollars have made Saudi Arabia too rich a source of terrorist funding and Islamic radicals. Last month, Gaffney told a conference in Washington that America has become dependent on oil that is imported from countries that, "by and large, are hostile to us." This fact, he said, makes reducing oil imports "a national security imperative."

It's good to see they're at least consistent. Moreover, it's a policy that Democrats that are serious about the environment should take up. This issue could be a major aspect of the so called "War on Terror"-disengaging ourselves from our Saudi-oil dependency. Al Gore, please pick up the white phone....


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Strenuoulsy Object 

To Alberto Gonzales as AG. Say no to torture and no to lying under oath about Bush's DWI arrest.

"With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him."


Reid and Abortion 

Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid wasted no time in trying to change the Democratic language/strategy regarding abortion. The Bill listed below was just introduced in the Senate. The text isn't available just yet.
S.20 : A bill to expand access to preventive health care services that help reduce unintended pregnancy, reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care.Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry M. [NV] (introduced 1/24/2005) Cosponsors (17)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 1/24/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

In my mind, key words are "reduce unintended pregnancy" and "reduce the number of abortions". It's not an extremist position, they are not trying to become "Republican-lite" and be anti-abortion, they are just trying to inject some common sense on the issue. Keep it safe, legal and rare. Bush has been in office for 4 years now, with a Republican Congress and Supreme Court, and abortion is still legal. That's not going to change. We've won. Keep vigilant on it, but let's frame the debate better. That's what Reid's doing. And for those anti-Reid Dems, who think he's too conservative (he's not), look at the liberals who cosponsored:

Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] - 1/24/2005 Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 1/24/2005
Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] - 1/24/2005 Sen Corzine, Jon [NJ] - 1/24/2005
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 1/24/2005 Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] - 1/24/2005
Sen Inouye, Daniel K. [HI] - 1/24/2005 Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] - 1/24/2005
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 1/24/2005 Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 1/24/2005
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] - 1/24/2005 Sen Levin, Carl [MI] - 1/24/2005
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] - 1/24/2005 Sen Murray, Patty [WA] - 1/24/2005
Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] - 1/24/2005 Sen Stabenow, Debbie [MI] - 1/24/2005
Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] - 1/24/2005

Now, look at the bill that was just introduced in the Senate by the Republicans:

S.51 : A bill to ensure that women seeking an abortion are fully informed regarding the pain experienced by their unborn child.Sponsor: Sen Brownback, Sam [KS] (introduced 1/24/2005) Cosponsors (31)
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Major Action: 1/24/2005 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


No Rice for Bayh 

From Blogging for Bayh:
"'Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana says he also will oppose Ms. Rice's nomination because, as he put it, he cannot support the promotion of someone who promises only more of the same failed policy in Iraq.

'Those in charge must be held accountable for mistakes. We must learn from them, correct them so that we may succeed in Iraq. Mr. (Senate) President, if the President of the United States will not do this, then those in the Senate must,' he said."

From the NYTimes

Senator Bayh said that it was not often that he opposed his friend and fellow Hoosier, Senator Lugar, but that he felt he would have to vote against Ms. Rice. Mr. Bayh said she was partly responsible for failures in Iraq, some of them caused by inadequate troop strength. "Those in charge must be held accountable," Mr. Bayh said."

Some good Presidential maneuvering there... (nod to Josh Marshall)


New World Order? 

Prepare to be scared. Despte some assurances to the contrary, much of the World is organizing without us, and most of the time, against us:
Consider, as well, the EU's rapid progress toward military independence. American protests failed to prevent the EU establishing its own military planning agency, independent of the Nato alliance (and thus of Washington). Europe is building up its own rapid reaction force. And despite US resistance, the EU is developing Galileo, its own satellite network, which will break the monopoly of the US global positioning satellite system.

The participation of China in Europe's Galileo project has alarmed the US military. But China shares an interest with other aspiring space powers in preventing American control of space for military and commercial uses. Even while collaborating with Europe on Galileo, China is partnering Brazil to launch satellites. And in an unprecedented move, China recently agreed to host Russian forces for joint Russo-Chinese military exercises.

The US is being sidelined even in the area that Mr Bush identified in last week's address as America's mission: the promotion of democracy and human rights. The EU has devoted far more resources to consolidating democracy in post-communist Europe than has the US. By contrast, under Mr Bush, the US hypocritically uses the promotion of democracy as the rationale for campaigns against states it opposes for strategic reasons. Washington denounces tyranny in Iran but tolerates it in Pakistan. In Iraq, the goal of democratisation was invoked only after the invasion, which was justified earlier by claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was collaborating with al-Qaeda.

Nor is American democracy a shining example to mankind. The present one-party rule in the US has been produced in part by the artificial redrawing of political districts to favour Republicans, reinforcing the domination of money in American politics. America's judges -- many of whom will be appointed by Mr Bush -- increasingly behave as partisan political activists in black robes. America's antiquated winner-take-all electoral system has been abandoned by most other democracies for more inclusive versions of proportional representation.

In other areas of global moral and institutional reform, the US today is a follower rather than a leader. Human rights? Europe has banned the death penalty and torture, while the US is a leading practitioner of execution. Under Mr Bush, the US has constructed an international military gulag in which the torture of suspects has frequently occurred. The international rule of law? For generations, promoting international law in collaboration with other nations was a US goal. But the neoconservatives who dominate Washington today mock the very idea of international law. The next US attorney general will be the White House counsel who scorned the Geneva Conventions as obsolete.

A decade ago, American triumphalists mocked those who argued that the world was becoming multipolar, rather than unipolar. Where was the evidence of balancing against the US, they asked. Today the evidence of foreign co-operation to reduce American primacy is everywhere -- from the increasing importance of regional trade blocs that exclude the US to international space projects and military exercises in which the US is conspicuous by its absence.

It is true that the US remains the only country capable of projecting military power throughout the world. But unipolarity in the military sphere, narrowly defined, is not preventing the rapid development of multipolarity in the geopolitical and economic arenas -- far from it. And the other great powers are content to let the US waste blood and treasure on its doomed attempt to recreate the post-first world war British imperium in the Middle East.

That the rest of the world is building institutions and alliances that shut out the US should come as no surprise. The view that American leaders can be trusted to use a monopoly of military and economic power for the good of humanity has never been widely shared outside of the US. The trend toward multipolarity has probably been accelerated by the truculent unilateralism of the Bush administration, whose motto seems to be that of the Hollywood mogul: "Include me out."

In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.

In 1998 Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state, said of the U.S.: "We are the indispensable nation." By backfiring, the unilateralism of Mr Bush has proven her wrong. The US, it turns out, is a dispensable nation.

Europe, China, Russia, Latin America and other regions and nations are quietly taking measures whose effect if not sole purpose will be to cut America down to size.

Ironically, the US, having won the cold war, is adopting the strategy that led the Soviet Union to lose it: hoping that raw military power will be sufficient to intimidate other great powers alienated by its belligerence. To compound the irony, these other great powers are drafting the blueprints for new international institutions and alliances. That is what the US did during and after the second world war.

But that was a different America, led by wise and constructive statesmen like Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who wrote of being "present at the creation." The bullying approach of the Bush administration has ensured that the US will not be invited to take part in designing the international architecture of Europe and Asia in the 21st century. This time, the US is absent at the creation.


CNN rumor 

Inside sources tell me that new CNN President Jonathan Kline, is planning a new program with National Security issues as its theme. Kline wants the show to have an "edgier" feel than past CNN programs, in hopes to bring back viewers that left CNN for Fox News and MSNBC..well, nobody left for MSNBC. The new show will be more "reporter based" than normal, with reporters calling in from hotspots around the world, as opposed to the usual Aaron Brown-type sitting behind a desk. The set will be designed to look like the Oval Office, offices in the CIA building and the Pentagon.

I like the idea of a National Security driven show, especially, since CNN is getting rid of the Crossfire type shows. But, a National Security show, in my mind, seems a better fit in a two hour time slot on a Saturday morning or afternoon, as opposed to an hour-a-day five-days-a-week. There always seems to be something to report on regarding National Security/Foreign Affairs, but what if there's not? Will the reporters call in to say "there's nothing happening in Libya today"? Or, will they just make shit up like the real CIA?


And the Nominees Are... 


Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
Jamie Foxx - RAY


Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
Clive Owen - CLOSER


Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE


Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
Laura Linney - KINSEY
Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
Natalie Portman - CLOSER


















"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS





Full list here.


Monday, January 24, 2005

What's the Point? 

I call attention to Kevin Drum's piece on Bush's inaugural speech:
POLITICAL BUFFOONERY....George Bush's inaugural speech was fine as far as it went. We're all in favor of freedom and democracy, after all.

But I've now read — what? At least half a dozen stories trotting out Bush confidants and senior aides, both named and unnamed, to assure us that Bush was just talking smack. He didn't really mean anything he said, and friendly dictators around the world don't have a thing to worry about. Poppa Bush is the latest.

Even accepting that rhetorical BS is a politician's stock in trade, this is inexplicable. What's the point in giving a speech like this if you're going to spend the next week telling everyone to ignore it? This is political buffoonery of a high degree.

Well put. How can anyone-reporter, pundit or politician, go on a talk show, and tout this as a great speech, or one that will be remembered for years to come, if it doesn't really mean anything?!? I just don't get it. Sure, most political speeches have to be taken with a grain of salt, but why does it have to be that way? Will he be saying the word "Freedom", next time he stands next to Putin or Uzbek strongman Karimov? Absolutely not. As Chris Suellentrop says, "rather than criticizing Bush's speech, Democrats should nod vigorously and then hold him to it."


Sunday, January 23, 2005


Jacksonville Here We Come!!

Fly Eagles fly, On the road to victory.
Fight Eagles fight, Score a touchdown 1,2,3.
Hit 'em low, Hit 'em high,
And watch our Eagles fly.
Fly Eagles fly, On the road to victory.




14-10 Eagles at the Half!


Friday, January 21, 2005


Shorter Krugman:
President Bush is like a financial adviser who tells you that at the rate you're going, you won't be able to afford retirement - but that you shouldn't do anything mundane like trying to save more. Instead, you should take out a huge loan, put the money in a mutual fund run by his friends (with management fees to be determined later) and place your faith in capital gains.

That, once you cut through all the fine phrases about an "ownership society," is how the Bush privatization plan works. Payroll taxes would be diverted into private accounts, forcing the government to borrow to replace the lost revenue. The government would make up for this borrowing by reducing future benefits; yet workers would supposedly end up better off, in spite of reduced benefits, through the returns on their accounts.


George W. Kennedy? Not quite. 

Slate's Fred Kaplan analyzes Bush's Inaugural address, and hears no sacrifice being asked of us.
The template, clearly, was John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address, which began, "We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom" and went on, more famously, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

But George W. Bush is not John F. Kennedy and, more to the point, 2005 is not 1961. It is doubtful that even Kennedy's words—so flush with idealism at the time—would have come off so stirringly had they been written, say, eight years later, at the height of the Vietnam War. They would have raised questions, set off alarm bells. And so should Bush's paraphrasings in the middle of the present war in Iraq.

At least Kennedy made no bones of the fact that his crusade would carry a "price," impose a "burden," inflict "hardship," and continue to require sacrifice through (as he put it later in the speech) "a long, twilight struggle." Where in President Bush's speech was there any such recognition, any plea for all citizens to ask what they can do for their country? There was one sentence where he urged young Americans, "Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself." Just before this plea he saluted our soldiers, diplomats, and intelligence personnel. Was he suggesting these jobs—joining the military, the foreign service, or the CIA—comprise the full range of ways that we can (in JFK's words) ask what we can do for our country? For the rest of us, he offered not the slightest hint of a proposal. In fact, immediately after his urging, he linked the advancement of America's freedom with "the dignity and security of economic independence," and then segued into a promotion for the privatization of Social Security—hardly a notion that fits the broader theme of one-for-all and the-world-is-one.


Monday, January 17, 2005

"I just want to thank my hands for being so great,"  

No, thank YOU Freddie.


Intelligent Service 

Very intersting piece on how the Ukrainian spies worked against the Government, when they realized they were being led astray. It's a shame they weren't following the CIA's lead.
More than 10,000 troops scrambled toward trucks. Most had helmets, shields and clubs. Three thousand carried guns. Many wore black masks. Within 45 minutes, according to their commander, Lt. Gen. Sergei Popkov, they had distributed ammunition and tear gas and were rushing out the gates.

Kiev was tilting toward a terrible clash, a Soviet-style crackdown that could have brought civil war. And then, inside Ukraine's clandestine security apparatus, strange events began to unfold.

While wet snow fell on the rally in Independence Square, an undercover colonel from the Security Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., moved among the protesters' tents. He represented the successor agency to the K.G.B., but his mission, he said, was not against the protesters. It was to thwart the mobilizing troops. He warned opposition leaders that a crackdown was afoot.

Simultaneously, senior intelligence officials were madly working their secure telephones, in one instance cooperating with an army general to persuade the Interior Ministry to turn back.

The officials issued warnings, saying that using force against peaceful rallies was illegal and could lead to prosecution and that if ministry troops came to Kiev, the army and security services would defend civilians, said an opposition leader who witnessed some of the exchanges and Oleksander Galaka, head of the military's intelligence service, the G.U.R., who made some of the calls.


Friday, January 14, 2005

Breaking News 

From the White House. The President has come up with a different nickname for Senator Bill Nelson, who was unhappy with his old nickname. Nelson, will no longer be called "Nellie", and will now go by "Benny". The President will continue to go by "Dumbass".


Breeding Ground for Terror 

Is that Sunni Iraq that I hear chanting "We're #1!"?
Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.
At least we have soldiers there who can stop it, right?

Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills," said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. "There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries."

But, the Iraq war is a major battle in the "War on Terror", and will destroy Saddam's terror base, right?

President Bush has frequently described the Iraq war as an integral part of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. But the council's report suggests the conflict has also helped terrorists by creating a haven for them in the chaos of war.

"At the moment," NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said, Iraq "is a magnet for international terrorist activity."

Before the U.S. invasion, the CIA said Saddam Hussein had only circumstantial ties with several al Qaeda members. Osama bin Laden rejected the idea of forming an alliance with Hussein and viewed him as an enemy of the jihadist movement because the Iraqi leader rejected radical Islamic ideals and ran a secular government.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sinn Fein and the IRA 

Will there be a split between the two because of the colossal bank robbery a few weeks ago? The Irish and British governments claim to have the evidence that would show that the IRA lied to Martin McGuinness. McGuinness has asked to see it. This could get very interesting, and hopefully not very ugly.
The raid itself would be no reason for splitting. Few members of Sinn Fein and/or the Provos would have a political or moral problem with snatching millions from a bank. They are by no means alone in entertaining this attitude.

No. The wedge would be driven into the movement by the subsequent words of some of its public leaders - most importantly, Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness.

Last week, Kelly described the raid as "wrong." This week, McGuinness went further. Whoever carried the robbery out was "hostile" to the Sinn Fein agenda. "Anything that sees innocent people held hostage in their house is a criminal act," he added.

Whether or not they knew of the job in advance, Kelly and McGuinness will have known by the time they made these comments whether the IRA was responsible. Any IRA unit involved has, then, been publicly denounced as "criminal" by Sinn Fein's chief negotiator.

There is no precedent I know of for any such thing. The closest I can think of came in July 1988 in reaction to the killing at the Falls Baths of Elizabeth Hamill (60) and Eamon Gilroy (24), both local residents, caught by an IRA bomb intended for a British Army patrol.

Pressed by journalists at the time, Gerry Adams said that he was "shocked and "saddened". But he accepted the IRA's word that the deaths had been "accidental."

McGuiness recently:
"The IRA are not criminals, never were criminals and in my opinion never will be criminals"


Monday, January 10, 2005

DeLay will Probably go to Hell (anyway) 

Just when you thought Tom DeLay couldn't get any worse, at a prayer breakfast, in which prayers for the victims of the Tsunami were said, the Congressional leader of "God's Own Party" says this:

Not every one who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?

"Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you: depart from me, you evil doers.'"

Everyone who listens to these words of mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man, who built his house on a rock:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, but it did not collapse; it has been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine, but does not act on them, will be like a fool who built his house on sand:

The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew, and buffeted the house, and it collapsed and was completely ruined."

(A reading of the Gospel, in Matthew 7:21 through 27)


Sunday, January 09, 2005

President Newt? 

And he's working on a 21st Century Contract with America.
Newt Gingrich is taking steps toward a potential presidential bid in 2008 with a book criticizing President Bush's policies on Iraq and a tour of early campaign states.

The former House speaker who led Republicans to power a decade ago said he soon will visit Iowa and New Hampshire to promote his book, try to influence public policy and keep his political options alive.

"Anything seems possible," including a White House race, Gingrich told The Associated Press.
If I was a Democratic hopeful, I wouldn't start panicking, but Gingrich does have a plan ready to go. Do any Democrats? Probably not, other than some autobiography, that nobody will read. Last time Gingrich had a plan, it was the end of a Democratic congressional era. They better work on a plan of their own.



Uh oh:
The writers are wondering what on earth the Democratic senator is doing buddying up to the likes of Alberto Gonzales. Is this the first sign of a Ben Nighthorse Campbell-style defection to the Republican ranks after using the Democratic Party to get elected?

After all, when Salazar introduced President Bush's nominee for U.S. attorney general - a guy opposed by retired generals, veterans groups, civil rights organizations, even the Mexican American Political Association - it was one of his very first official acts as a senator.

And given that Gonzales' confirmation is virtually guaranteed by the Republican majority in the Senate, Salazar's support was wildly unnecessary.

Sure, Gonzales would be the first Latino to head Justice. But this guy brings plenty of smelly baggage to the job.

Among other things, he was a partner in the Texas law firm that represented Enron and Halliburton, both under federal investigation. He said he "spent hours grilling" Bernard Kerik and recommended him for secretary of homeland security. And Kerik is the guy who had to withdraw from consideration after his nanny problems, his girlfriend problems and his relationship with a guy indicted for mob activities were revealed.

Even more disturbing, Gonzales advised the president that the Geneva Convention outlawing the torture of prisoners of war was "quaint" and "obsolete," and signed off on a memo that defined torture as "injury such as death, organ failure or serious impairment of bodily functions," a definition narrow enough to authorize most of the abuses at Abu Ghraib or even those inflicted by the Viet Cong at the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

So what does Salazar see in this guy?

"I'm particularly moved by his historical upbringing," the senator said, "the fact that he came from a place with 11 in his family all cramped into two rooms, his father with only a second-grade education." He went on to graduate from Harvard Law School, to become a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, to advise the president. Salazar said he was impressed with "the fact he's overcome those kinds of very significant obstacles to become a successful lawyer."

The lessons from a hardscrabble childhood are invaluable, Salazar said. "And his real-life experience will inform him in his role as attorney general," he said.
Let's just hope it's a case of one Latino who overcame a tough upbringing, sticking up for another, but to talk warmly about Gonzales's "real-life experiences"?!? Come on.


Friday, January 07, 2005


Last night I attended Tucker Carlson's farewell party (more like "Screw you CNN" party) at the Palm. Some notable sightings: Former "Crossfire" host, now MSNBCer, Bill Press, Democratic Party Chairman Terry Mcauliffe, Democratic Party Chair wannabe Donna Brazile, and Homeland Security Honcho Tom Ridge, who was there for dinner, not the party.



Interesting piece on MSNBC.com about what's going on in Iraq, and the culture of death that's taken over.
So now the two acted like reunited cousins. The driver explained that he lived in Mahmoudiya, but came every day to Baghdad to work the cab, which he used for his "real job."

"And what's that?"

"I specialize in killing women," he said.

A long bloody blade
The atmosphere in the car turned stifling and tense, as if an inconsonant note had been played on an unseen piano.

"I kill whores, women who go to the Green Zone and have sex with the Americans," the driver added as a justification.

The Green Zone is the sprawling American headquarters in Baghdad; Saddam Hussein's erstwhile Republican Palace, then and now, a forbidden city within the Iraqi capital where rumors continue to circulate about what goes on behind its high concrete walls.

My friend eyeballed the road for a place to get out.

"I use this," continued the driver, taking a nearly foot-long folding knife from under his seat. He opened the long blade. It was encrusted with blood.


Kerry Cheered in Iraq 

Perhaps he should have gone there during during the campaign.
U.S. soldiers approached Kerry inside the restaurant of the Rashid Hotel, asking him to pose for photographs and sign T-shirts. The star-struck restaurant manager insisted on serving Kerry the restaurant's specialty, a plate of grilled chicken and lamb.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

How many Insurgents? 

"I think the resistance is bigger than the U.S. military in Iraq,"
According to Iraqi Intelligence, maybe 200,000, of which 40,000 are a hard core.
The spy chief also questioned the success of the November campaign to retake Fallujah, which U.S. forces have hailed as a major victory against the resistance.

"What we have now is an empty city almost destroyed ... and most of the insurgents are free. They have gone either to Mosul or to Baghdad or other areas."

That's obviously not a good sign. No matter how many insurgents are killed or captured, the numbers are swelling. Desperation will do that. I wonder how many foreign terrorists have joined the ranks? I recall an anecdote I read about the Soviet-Afghan War, where it seemed that for every jihadi that was killed, 10 more seemed to take his place. They are seeking death, so it's hard to discourage them.


Deputy Secretary of State 

FPN hears that Richard Armitage's replacement at the State Department will be a former Bush cabinent official, who recently resigned from his post. I've promised not to reveal his name, but his initials are also those of a prominent news organization. No, not CBS...


Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year! 

I'd like to take a moment to wish all readers of FPN a Happy New Year. Because of computer problems, I decided to take most of last week off from blogging, but expect to be back in full force today (or tomorrow). Here's to a great 2005, filled with many (good) news worthy events!


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