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March 27, 2008

News roundup

I should be working, but haven't yet licked my blog addiction. News of note:


Finally, from earlier this month: How Bush's delusional incompetence brought Hamas to power in Gaza (Vanity Fair)

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September 23, 2007

How George Bush became the new Saddam: The view from Canada



Patrick Graham reports from Iraq for the Canadian newsweekly Maclean's:

Arriving in Baghdad has always been a little weird. Under Saddam
Hussein it was like going into an orderly morgue; when he ran off after
the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003 put an end to his Baathist party
regime, the city became a chaotic mess. I lived in Iraq for almost two
years, but after three years away I wasn’t quite ready for just how
deserted and worn down the place seemed in the early evening. It was as
if some kind of mildew was slowly rotting away at the edges of things,
breaking down the city into urban compost.


Since 2003, more than 3,775 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, while
nearly 7,500 Iraqi policemen and soldiers have died. For Iraq’s
civilian population, the carnage has been almost incalculable. Last
year alone, the UN estimated that 34,500 civilians were killed and more
than 36,000 wounded; other estimates are much higher. As the country’s
ethnic divisions widen, especially between Iraq’s Arab Shia and Arab
Sunni Muslims (the Kurds are the third major group), some two million
people have been internally displaced, with another two million fleeing
their homeland altogether. Entering Baghdad I could tell the Sunni
neighbourhoods, ghettos really, by the blasts in the walls and the
emptiness, courtesy of sectarian cleansing by the majority Shias. The
side streets of the Shia districts seemed to have a little more life to
them.....

One of the terrifying aspects of the war is the monumental failure of
analysis and action on the part of America’s political, military,
journalistic and even business elites.

That problem may be systemic—the result of a “fact-based” America
confronting a society it did not understand and simply making up an
alternate reality, guns ablaze.

So far, the Republicans have done an
impressive job at failing in Iraq. Soon it may be the Democrats’ turn
to fail, albeit in a different way. It’s a shame because Iraqi
political parties are perfectly capable of doing that on their own.
Indeed, they seem to be going out of their way to compete with the
Americans on that score.

Read it all

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July 6, 2007

Bush: With great irresponsibility and unpopularity comes great power

The Invincible President | The American Prospect

Bush, as has so often been remarked, is a uniter, not a divider. He has united the country against him. But he has found power in division, in lonesomeness, in unpopularity. He realized that a narrow loss in the 2000 election meant he didn't need to govern so as to retain a robust majority. He understood that legislation didn't need as many votes as possible, it merely required as many votes as necessary. And he figured out that a lame duck president who polls in the 20s need never make another compromise -- and so need never kowtow to a disagreeable electorate.

This will be his legacy, as it was, in the end, his genius. While Nixon famously pursued the Southern strategy because he realized that if he broke the country into pieces, his piece would be bigger, Bush broke the country into pieces, and embraced the smaller half, and then a mere quarter. He made the executive branch the minority party, and in doing, freed himself from many of the constraints of democracy. Truly, he has achieved a Machiavellian enlightenment, a state of perfect zen-like detachment from democracy.

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July 5, 2007

The innocent people that Bush didn't pardon

Poor Scooter Libby. Caught in a perjury trap. He lied to protect his boss, and almost went to jail.

Oh, the sad lot of loyal Republicans.

Unfortunately, not everyone who needs a pardon from George W. Bush is a Republican operative. In fact, as Governor of Texas, Bush had the blood of innocents on his hands: People who the police came to believe were innocent.... but were among the 152 people executed by Gov. George Bush. Here are some of their stories, courtesy of Obsidian Wings:

Here's the short version: Serving twelve years for a rape that DNA testing shows you didn't commit does not get you a pardon. Being represented by a lawyer who slept through large chunks of the trial does not get you a pardon. Being convicted of murder in proceedings that a court-appointed special master describes as ""a breakdown of the adversarial process" caused by the incompetence of your lawyer does not get you a pardon, even when someone else confesses on tape to the murder you were convicted of. Likewise, when someone else confesses to the murder you were convicted of and you ask for a stay of execution in order to conduct tests that will establish your innocence, no dice. And when you are unquestionably incompetent to assist in your own defense but no one seems to take that fact into account, or tells the jury, that's just too bad. None of these sentences are in any way excessive, as far as George W. Bush is concerned.
That's the overview. And if you, like me, lacked the moral clarity to flee the country and stop paying Bush's salary, if you, like me, are partner in Bush's crimes through failure to water the tree of liberty as it needs to be watered in our day and age, then the least you can do is read the sad details of how much blood Bush had on his hands before moving to, and indelibly soiling, the White House.

Posted by yudel at 10:54 PM

Libby Pardon: Obstruction of Justice? Or simply typical Bush morality?

Go read Digby:

Like so many Republicans, Bush apparently lacks the capacity to think in the abstract. He only found the sentencing guideline "harsh" when it was someone he knew personally. The 152 people whose death warrants he gave a cursory glance to before signing off on the day of their execution weren't exactly members of his social circle, so why bother?

On the other hand, isn't it far more likely that what he spent weeks worrying about was how to keep skittish little Scooter from spilling his guts if he failed to beat the rap --- and the NY Times just regurgitated a huge bucket of spin? Yeah, I thought so too.

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May 10, 2007

Bush's Army to Congress: We're in Charge

Some people think that if everyone would just shut up, everything would be fine. You might think that four years and 3,000 dead Americans after "Mission Accomplished," the Republicans who have been running the Army would know better.

And you would be wrong:

Pentagon restricting testimony in Congress - The Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has placed unprecedented restrictions on who can testify before Congress, reserving the right to bar lower-ranking officers, enlisted soldiers, and career bureaucrats from appearing before oversight committees or having their remarks transcribed, according to Defense Department documents.

Robert L. Wilkie , a former Bush administration national security official who left the White House to become assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs last year, has outlined a half-dozen guidelines that prohibit most officers below the rank of colonel from appearing in hearings, restricting testimony to high-ranking officers and civilians appointed by President Bush.

The guidelines, described in an April 19 memo to the staff director of the House Armed Services Committee, adds that all field-level officers and enlisted personnel must be "deemed appropriate" by the Department of Defense before they can participate in personal briefings for members of Congress or their staffs; in addition, according to the memo, the proceedings must not be recorded.

Wilkie's memo also stipulated that any officers who are allowed to testify must be accompanied by an official from the administration, such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his top-level aides.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress see the move as a blatant attempt to bog down investigations of the war. But veterans of the legislative process -- who say they have never heard of such guidelines before -- maintain that the Pentagon has no authority to set such ground rules.

The guidelines would not affect congressional subpoenas, which can compel anyone to appear before lawmakers. As a result, several lawmakers have pledged privately to use that power if the Pentagon's guidelines stymie their efforts to get information from specific sectors of the military.

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April 26, 2007

Bush makes anti-government libertarians of us all

Andrew Sullivan demonstrates how the presumption of innocence of those charged with a crime is bolstered when the prosecuting government has a track record on injustice:


I do not know all the facts about the decision by the US military to bring extremely serious charges against an officer, Lt. Col. William H. Steele, who supervised the Camp Cropper detention facility. Camp Cropper was a site where torture and abuse occurred, as it did at almost every U.S. detention camp in Iraq. But Steele, of course, is not being charged with the war-crimes that took place there. He is being charged with treason. My own sources describe him as a man of integrity, a man who actually tried to treat detainees as human beings. Another James Yee? I don't know. But I'm deeply skeptical of this accusation.
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April 18, 2007

Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?

AmericaBlog.com
notes the following from ABC News:

Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government's files

Get that? The government has access to your medical records. So if you have some condition you don't want the world to know about: Support the President. Support the Party. After all, it's for your own good!

Powered by ScribeFire.

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March 30, 2007

What's at stake in the Attorney Generals scandal

Joshua Marshall -- who basically broke the story now being investigated by the Congressional Democrats -- gives the video explanation that your nightly news won't give you:


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Bush: Making America more like Russia

Dov Bear on how Bush bends the law beyond recognition
Bush and his cronies have changed well established norms that, for generations, have served to check the president's power. Examples include the purge of the US attorneys. Though the president has always had the power to fire government lawyers, it hardly ever happened. Now that Bush has changed this norm, US attorneys must remember to show deference to their political patrons when in the past the law was their only master.
Just as good Communists justified all means toward their utopian ends, loyal Republicans -- the hardcore 30% who still support president -- have a fixed ideology that doesn't let them see what is in front of their noses, to mangle Andrew Sullivan's George Orwell epigraph.

The question the rest of us need to ask -- if there is any hope in restoring America -- is how did these people get so embedded in their ideology? And how can they be extracted?

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January 8, 2007

Thank you, Washington Post, for letting me sleep at night!

As an American whose taxes has paid for George Bush's oedipal war in Iraq, I have my share of blood on my hands.

The Washington Post, it now turns out, has pictures of some of that blood. But in keeping with its apparent charter to "comfort the comfortable and ignore the afflicted," it has decided not to share them.

I would imagine that reflects wise judgment on the part of the Washington Post -- the same wise judgment that led it to support the Iraq war, sob over the death of Pinochet, and presumably applaud the upcoming announcement of the Bush/McCain Surge/Escalation in Iraq.

Anyhow, here's what they're not showing us, courtesy of Richard Blai via Atrios:

Capturing images of war on their digital cameras, as many troops in
Iraq have done, Marines took dozens of gruesome photographs of the 24
civilians who were killed in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005…


…Among the images, there is a young boy with a picture of a
helicopter on his pajamas, slumped over, his face and head covered in
blood. There is a mother lying on a bed, arms splayed, the bodies of
three young children huddled against her right side. There are men with
gaping head wounds, and a woman and a child hunkered down on their
knees, their hands frozen around their faces as if permanently bracing
for an attack.


…The images are contained in thousands of pages of NCIS
investigative documents obtained by The Washington Post. Post editors
decided that most of the images are too graphic to publish…
[emphasis added]



powered by performancing firefox

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November 16, 2006

Just in time for Thanksgiving: Bus Administration eliminated hunger in America!

Some Americans Lack Food, but USDA Won't Call Them Hungry - washingtonpost.com
Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. But not this year.

Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said "hungry" is "not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food security survey." Nord, a USDA sociologist, said, "We don't have a measure of that condition."

The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.

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Gonzalez: We don't need no stinkin' due process

Justice Department's Brief On Detention Policy Draws Ire - washingtonpost.com

Justice Department lawyers argue that an anti-terrorism law approved by Congress last month allows the government to detain any foreign national declared to be an enemy combatant, even if he is arrested and imprisoned inside the United States.
Special thank you to my senators, Menendez and Lautenberg, for helping eliminate pesky due process for alleged foreigners.

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November 14, 2006

White House insider: The I in Faith-Based stands for Christ!

David Kuo, deputy director of the White House Office of Fatih-Based and Community Initiatives, spills the beans on Republican-style Religion:
My wife Kim and I were together with a group of friends and acquaintances. Someone mentioned that I used to work at the White House in the faith-based office.

A woman piped up and said, "Really? Wow, I was on the peer-review panel for the first Compassion Capital Fund." I asked her about how she liked it and she said it was fun. She talked about how the government employees gave them grant review instructions – look at everything objectively against a discreet list of requirements and score accordingly. "

But," she said with a giggle, "when I saw one of those non-Christian groups in the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero."


At first I laughed. A funny joke. Not so much. She was proud and giggling and didn't get that there was a problem with that.

I asked if she knew of others who'd done the same.

"Oh sure, a lot of us did." She must have seen my surprise, "Was there a problem with that?"
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October 30, 2006

Dick Cheney prepares for election loss!

Photographic evidence from Wonkette:
The Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck making its way up to the Cheney compound at the Naval Observatory.
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Flailing Republicans bring K-Street Mafia tactics to beat on Jewish organizations

From JTA:

According to Thursday’s Chicago Sun-Times, Caryn Garber, a staffer
for Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), wanted to force Robert Schrayer, an
insurance magnate, to drop his backing for Dan Seals, a Democrat
challenging Kirk. Schrayer, chairman of the Tel Aviv University
American Council and a board member of the Jewish Federation of
Metropolitan Chicago, had supported Kirk in earlier campaigns.


Garber e-mailed Sam Witkin, president of TAU’s American Council, to ask
him to contact Itamar Rabinovich, TAU’s president and a former Israeli
envoy to Washington. “Itamar should call Bob and tell him his actions
can have a very bad effect on the university,” the e-mail reportedly
said. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Kirk is on the U.S. House
of Representatives’ powerful Foreign Operations Appropriations
subcommittee.


Is it any wonder that formerly pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty Jewish groups have let themselves be used as arms of the Bush Republican Party propaganda machine in recent years?

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October 10, 2006

A couple thoughts about the futility of torture, and the media's complicity i nit

Columbia Journalism Review uses Bush's pro-torture blitz to remind us of The Forgotten Story of Abu Zubaydah
The Zubaydah case is a particularly ugly one, and it would be silly to expect the president to go into details about his torture, mental capacity and his true role in al Qaeda -- but thanks to Suskind's book, we have a revealing glimpse into the particulars. Reporters covering the speech could have done readers a favor by adding a bit of this context.

As part of his look into the capture and interrogation of Zubaydah, Suskind quotes Dan Coleman, the FBI agent who was the bureau's first case agent on Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and who had been working the terror beat since the 1980s. Soon after his capture, Coleman described Zubaydah as "insane, certifiable, a split personality" -- an opinion, according to Suskind, that was shared by the CIA's top brass, and conveyed to the president and vice president. Despite this, Suskind reports that when the president learned that Zubaydah was mentally ill, he told then-CIA director George Tenet, "I said he was important ...You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" Tenet, ever the company man, replied, "No sir, Mr. President."

But more to the point is the case of Zubaydah's diaries, seized during his capture in March 2002. In making the case that Zubaydah was mentally ill, Suskind explains that his diaries were written in the voices of three people, Hani 1, Hani 2 and Hani 3. Hani 1 was a boy, ten years younger than Zubaydah, Hani 2 was the same age as Zubaydah, and Hani 3 was a decade older. "What was being observed," Suskind writes about the diaries, "by three pairs of eyes, meanwhile, was often less than compelling -- what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said ... in page after page. Zubaydah was a logistics man, a fixer, mostly for a niggling array of personal items, like the guy you call who handles the company health plan, or benefits, or the people in human resources. There was almost nothing 'operational' in his portfolio. That was handled by the management team. He wasn't one of them."

Despite this, every bit of information extracted from Zubaydah through torture (Suskind recounts the particulars of his treatment in gruesome detail) sent teams of FBI agents and local law enforcement officials scrambling across the country, trying to put out fires that didn't really exist. It was only after a CIA interrogator decided to try a more even-handed approach, in which he talked to Zubaydah about the Koran, that he began to give up useful information -- information that led to the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, an al Qaeda operative who played a major role in planning the attacks of September 11.

But nowhere in our reading this morning could we find a reporter who laid out this complicated story. Instead we're given -- yet again -- a variety of bland transcriptions of the president's speech, with support from Republican politicians and rebuttals by Democrats.

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October 3, 2006

All US Military Should Read This Post

Jim Macdonald has an important post: ATTENTION US MILITARY PERSONNEL
You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Check out the details if it applies to you.
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October 1, 2006

For the sin of forsaking democracy and freedom....

Arthur Silber writes:

There is no question that the Military Commissions Act, given the
language it now contains, grants -- in principle -- full dictatorial
powers to the executive. As I explained in the earlier essay, the
executive and certain entities it controls can designate anyone,
including any American citizen, as an "unlawful enemy combatant." That
person can then be imprisoned for the rest of his life, with no
recourse whatsoever. Period.

That is absolute power over every single one of us. Absolute. Consider the word, and what it means. Your life is no longer yours.
It is the executive's, to dispose of as he chooses. I must repeat an
earlier point: it is most likely that this power will not be exercised
to the full extent possible, or anything close to its full extent, any
time soon. The exercise of that power will come, if it does, in stages.
See Jim Henley's post
on this point. Of course, the specifics may be very different,
depending on many other events -- and depending on what particular
individuals hold this fearsome power, and what their specific
objectives are.

The critical point is what, in principle, the grant of power includes. As noted, the grant is absolute: it includes everything.
As I have pointed out, the determination of the Bush administration to
achieve absolute power has been indisputably clear since shortly after
9/11. And this is hardly the first time that I and others have noted
that the mechanisms for a complete dictatorship have now been put in place.

What to do? Who is responsible? And what does this have to do with Milton Mayer? Read it all.

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September 29, 2006

Who supports torturing Israelis? Why doesn't the ADL speak out?

From this week's must-read Jewish Week article by Lawrence Cohler-Esses:
Oded Ellner, a Tel Aviv resident, recalled how his Argentinian jailers deprived him of sleep for weeks while holding him in an isolation cell as a suspected terrorist. He recounted how they repeatedly strip-searched him and exposed him to intense and continuous cold blasts of air conditioning while giving him little to wear.

With a shudder, he related how he was put out into the cold wintry air without shoes or a coat in the tiny yard at Buenos Aires Metropolitan Detention Center.

His companion, Sivan Kurzberg, recalled being forced to give blood to prison medical personnel against his will while fasting on Yom Kippur -- and passing out as a result. He remembered being denied toilet paper for hours after he needed it.

The son of a Holocaust survivor, Kurzberg recounted how he was interrogated for 12 hours straight chained to a chair by his feet and stomach, without access to an attorney or to food during that time.
Oddly enough, Abe Foxman has no position on this abuse of human rights by one of the most notorious regimes in the Western Hemisphere.

Maybe because it wasn't Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Nope, it was George Bush's America. (Did I say Argentinian? Sorry. Should have been American. Buenos Aires? I meant to say Brooklyn.)

And let's note here that the American Jewish Congress considers the Republican Party's "compromise bill" is one that "finds a reasonable balance."

Yep, the American Jewish Congress is so eager to shuck its "liberal" label that it supports a bill that its own legal council finds troubling for uprooting centuries of legal tradition and denying habeas corpus.

So for the record: American Jewish Congress: Soft on Republicans, soft on torture, but mighty tough when it comes to Israelis and other foreigners being beaten in secret American prisons.

(Me, I'd feel more embarassed to have 'Congress' in my name these days than anything else. Perhaps the AJCongress has developed Stockholm Syndrome from being identified with the House of Tom Delay.)

So, do the human rights that America upheld in battles against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany endanger us in our battle against Islamic terrorists?

Hah!

Or as Cohler-Esses notes:
Ironically, in Israel, where terrorism is an unremitting threat, a 1999 Supreme Court decision has outlawed "moderate physical pressure" on terrorist suspect detainees while their detention must be reviewed by a judge every six months in a proceeding with defense attorneys present for argument.

In these respects, said Israeli human rights advocate Sarit Michaeli, "Israel has stricter policies against torture" than those contemplated in the U.S. legislation.

"After the 1999 court decision, the frequency of abuse and mistreatment went down sharply, almost overnight," said Michaeli, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B'teselem. Some mistreatment still takes place, she said, "but even through the height of the second intifada, we didn't see a return to the type of systemic torture we saw before. Security officials are now much more clever in their interrogation techniques."
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May 15, 2006

Cheney/Gonzales administration: We're tracking dissident journalists

ABC News reports:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

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May 14, 2006

Big Brother Bush says: Laws are for Losers!

Matthew Yglesias on the all-too-appropriately-named Tapped:

FUN WITH SURVEILLANCE. Turns out the NSA, with the collaboration of every phone company except Qwest, is monitoring all of our calls -- not to listen in to what's being said, but simply to gather data about the calls and draw inferences from that. It's important to link this up to the broader chain. One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this meta-data is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone. Having listened in on your calls, the administration asserts that if it doesn't like what it hears, it has the authority to detain you indefinitely without trial or charges, torture you until you confess or implicate others, extradite you to a Third World country to be tortured, ship you to a secret prison facility in Eastern Europe, or all of the above. If, having kidnapped and tortured you, the administration determines you were innocent after all, you'll be dumped without papers somewhere in Albania left to fend for yourself.

Once you start in with this business, it's a widening cycle of lawlessness with almost endless possibilities for abuse. Tellingly, the reason Qwest wound up not cooperating with the NSA on this is that the NSA couldn't be bothered to get a court order. Shame on the other phone companies for simply giving in to a request without legal backing.

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Madison warned us there'd be days like these

Greenwald writes:

We continuously hear that the Bush administration has legal authority
to do anything the President orders. Claims that he is acting illegally
are just frivolous and the by-product of Bush hatred. And yet, as I detailed here,
each and every time the administration has the opportunity to obtain an
adjudication of the legality of its conduct from a federal court
(which, unbeknownst to the administration, is the branch of our
government which has the authority and responsibility to interpret and
apply the law), it does everything possible to avoid that adjudication.

This
continuous evasion of judicial review by the administration is much
more serious and disturbing than has been discussed and realized. By
proclaiming the power to ignore Congressional law and to do whatever it
wants in the area of national security, it is seizing the powers of the
legislative branch. But by blocking courts from ruling on the multiple
claims of illegality which have been made against it, the
administration is essentially seizing the judicial power as well. It
becomes the creator, the executor, and the interpreter of the law. And
with that, the powers of all three branches become consolidated in The
President, the single greatest nightmare of the founders. As Madison warned in Federalist 47:

From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There
can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united
in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of
judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers,"
he did not mean that these departments ought to have no partial agency in, or no control over, the acts of each other.

His
meaning, as his own words import, and still more conclusively as
illustrated by the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this,
that where the whole power of one department is exercised by
the same hands which possess the whole power of another department, the
fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted
.
This would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if
the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed also the
complete legislative power, or the supreme administration of justice;
or if the entire legislative body had possessed the supreme judiciary,
or the supreme executive authority.

The attribute
which most singularly defines this administration is its insistence
that our Government is based on unilateral and unreviewed Presidential
Decree. The President directs the telecom companies to turn over this
information and they obey. That’s how our Government works, as they see
it. And if the telecom companies are concerned about their legal
liability as a result of laws which strongly suggest that they are
acting illegally if they comply with the President’s Decree, and thus
request a judicial ruling first, that request, too, is denied. There is
no need for a judicial ruling once the President speaks. What he orders
is, by definition, legal, and nobody can say otherwise, including
courts.

Amazingly, again and again, they don't even want their own Justice Department to know what they are doing because they are afraid that DoJ lawyers will tell them that it is against the law. They don't want to hear that it is against the law. As USA Today reported: "For similar reasons, this person said, NSA rejected Qwest's suggestion of getting a letter of authorization from the U.S. attorney general's office.
A second person confirmed this version of events." They know very well
that their conduct might be, and in some cases that it is definitely
is, illegal, but they are purposely avoiding having the DoJ be able to
opine on the legality of their behavior.

That is the same inherently corrupt motive which led the NSA to refuse to give
DoJ lawyers security clearance to enable the DoJ to investigate whether
their lawyers acted unethically in connection with the NSA illegal
eavesdropping program. As intended, that refusal caused the DoJ to shut
down its investigation. As Jack Balkin notes about that

Note
the irony: While private phone company employees at AT&T and other
corporations must have sufficient security clearances to know what is
going on in the NSA program- because they are helping to run it-- the
Justice Department's own ethics lawyers do not. It's a convenient way
to forestall any investigation into wrongdoing.

They
desperately avoid not only a ruling from a court as to whether their
conduct is legal, but also opinions from their own Justice Department
lawyers, likely driven by the fact that many DoJ lawyers opined that
the NSA program was illegal -- something they do not want to ever hear
again.
cover-up, also disclosed yesterday:

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May 12, 2006

29 with a blessing!

l'shem yichud.... Today is the 29th day of the Omer, the day on which the Omer has caught up to Bush's 29% approval rating.

Harachaman hu yivarech et Artzot Ha-Brit be-America, ve-yagen aleiha me-oyveiha ve-sareiha.

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May 5, 2006

Did Bush win re-election because of the false propaganda his government fed to the corporate media?

Columbia Journalism Review looks at the illegal propaganda efforts behind the Iraq war.. and the Bush reeelection:

When the United States launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, Sam Gardiner, a sixty-four-year-old retired Air Force colonel, was a regular on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, where it was his job to place the day’s events in context. As the campaign wore on, and he monitored the press coverage and parsed the public statements of military and administration officials, he at first became uneasy, then deeply concerned.

A longtime Defense Department consultant who has taught strategy at three of the military’s top war colleges, Gardiner had participated throughout the 1990s in a series of war games that simulated attacks on Iraq. He was familiar with Iraq’s military and was therefore surprised to hear officials, such as the Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, the deputy director of operations of Central Command’s headquarters in Qatar, tell the press of ongoing operations to eliminate “terrorist death squads.” The allegation struck Gardiner as odd. Matter-of-fact and precise in their speech, military officers would not typically refer to irregulars as “death squads.” More important, as far as Gardiner knew, in 2003, when the invasion began, Iraq had no “terrorist death squads.”

Gardiner believes that this formulation, which first entered the official vernacular a week after the invasion began, was a skillful execution of a classic propaganda technique known as the “excluded middle.” The excluded middle is premised on the idea that people, provided with incomplete but suggestive information, will draw false assumptions — in this case that Saddam Hussein had ties to terrorism and therefore to Al Qaeda (a connection that administration officials actively pushed during the run-up to the war).

As Gardiner further analyzed the coverage in the early days of the invasion, he saw what he believed was a pattern of misinformation being fed to the press. There was the report, carried by The Associated Press, CNN, and The New York Times, among many other news outlets, that Iraq was seeking uniforms worn by U.S. and British troops (“identical down to the last detail”) so that atrocities carried out on Iraqis by Saddam’s Fedayeen could be blamed on the coalition. There was the claim that prisoners of war had been executed by their Iraqi captors, and there was the announced surrender of Iraq’s entire Fifty-first Division. Government officials eventually eased off the POW assertion, and the story of the uniforms was never corroborated and soon disappeared. As for the Fifty-first Division, on March 21 a cascade of news stories, citing anonymous British and American military officials, reported its mass surrender. “Hordes of Iraqi soldiers, underfed and overwhelmed, surrendered Friday in the face of a state-of-the-art allied assault,” the AP reported. “An entire division gave itself up to the advancing allied forces, U.S. military officials said.” Unnamed “officials in Washington” told The Washington Post that the division had been taken “out of the fight for Basra.” Days later, however, coalition troops were still clashing with units of the Fifty-first there. And two days after it was reported that General Khaled Saleh al-Hashimi and the 8,000 men under his command had surrendered, the general was interviewed in Basra by Al Jazeera. “I am with my men . . . . We continue to defend the people and riches” of this city, he told the network. Was this the fog of war or was something else at play?

Gardiner believes that the story of the Fifty-first’s mass capitulation may have been part of a psychological operation, its goal to “broadcast to the other units in Iraq that troops were giving up en masse and very quickly, so there was no reason to resist,” he said. “That’s a valid psychological operation. But it was directly entered into a press briefing.” Gardiner eventually concluded that the flow of misinformation to the press was no accident. It was a well-coordinated campaign, intended not only to confound Iraqi combatants but to shape perceptions of the war back home.

Throughout the summer of 2003, Gardiner documented incidents that he saw as information-warfare campaigns directed both at targeted foreign populations and the American public. By the fall, he had collected his analysis into a lengthy treatise, called “Truth from These Podia,” which concluded that “the war was handled like a political campaign,” in which the emphasis was not on the truth but on the message.

As his paper circulated among government and military officials that fall, Gardiner says he received a call at home one night from a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told Gardiner that his conclusions were on target. “But I want you to know,” the spokesman added, “that it was civilians who did this.”
much more....

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April 25, 2006

When it rains...

JINSA, in its new role as media critic, releases its second press release in as many weeks:

SIXTY MINUTES SHAMEFULLY SELLS OUT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

For immediate release Contact: Daniel V. Smith
April 25, 2006 (202) 667-3900

(Washington, DC, April 18) Tom Neumann, executive director of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, today released the following statements regarding CBS’s Sixty Minutes program in which the integrity of the Office of the President of the United States was trashed without
challenge:

“This week CBS’s Sixty Minutes did a program on allegations that the President and his men doctored up CIA analyses and other intelligence in order to create a casus belli. Tyler Drumheller, CIA’s lead man in Europe, argued that there was no evidence worth its weight in salt that indicated Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

“Absent from the program was the probing interrogative questioning that Sixty Minutes normally does when interviewing an individual. In fact, the program was less of an interview than a platform.

“The allegations went so far as to imply that the President went to war frivolously, practically war for war’s sake.

“Argue the justification or the correctness of the President’s decision all you want. History will judge. But shame on Sixty Minutes for selling the integrity of the President of the United States without a challenge, even without raising an eyebrow.”


For further commentary by Mr. Neumann, please contact the JINSA office at 202-667-3900.

Posted by Andy at 12:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

When it rains...

JINSA, in its new role as media critic, releases its second press release in as many weeks:

SIXTY MINUTES SHAMEFULLY SELLS OUT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

For immediate release Contact: Daniel V. Smith
April 25, 2006 (202) 667-3900

(Washington, DC, April 18) Tom Neumann, executive director of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, today released the following statements regarding CBS’s Sixty Minutes program in which the integrity of the Office of the President of the United States was trashed without
challenge:

“This week CBS’s Sixty Minutes did a program on allegations that the President and his men doctored up CIA analyses and other intelligence in order to create a casus belli. Tyler Drumheller, CIA’s lead man in Europe, argued that there was no evidence worth its weight in salt that indicated Iraq was manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.

“Absent from the program was the probing interrogative questioning that Sixty Minutes normally does when interviewing an individual. In fact, the program was less of an interview than a platform.

“The allegations went so far as to imply that the President went to war frivolously, practically war for war’s sake.

“Argue the justification or the correctness of the President’s decision all you want. History will judge. But shame on Sixty Minutes for selling the integrity of the President of the United States without a challenge, even without raising an eyebrow.”


For further commentary by Mr. Neumann, please contact the JINSA office at 202-667-3900.

Posted by Andy at 12:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 23, 2006

Bush, Iran and Israel: End Game or End Times?

Over at the Whiskey Bar, evidence that the more-than-a-decade-old Israeli assessmentof Iran as a strategic threat has morphed into something more danerous under the present administration:
To say that Bush is an emotionally unstable man under absolutely skull-crushing pressure isn't to say he's gone completely off the deep end and thinks God wants him to start the countdown to the Apocalpyse. But it's pretty hard to ignore the growing signs of megalomania ("I'm the decider, and I decide what's best.") We also know from his personal history that religion is Bush's crutch — his substitute of choice for the drugs of his youth. When a dry drunk who came to Jesus rather than seek treatment starts talking obsessively about protecting Israel from the Iranian Hitler, it seems reasonable to be worried, particularly when he has the world's largest military machine at his instant disposal.

This may be one reason we're starting to hear some voices out of Israel — where Armaggedon is a practical possibility rather than a string of best-selling novels — suggesting that war with Iran does not, in fact, have to start right this very minute. Having an American president who's willing to go to war for you is one thing. But having one who's determined to go to war for you, whether you're ready for it or not, is another.

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March 29, 2006

Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. asks: Why does the Bush family hate freedom?

From Saint Louis Today:

"I have a question for President Bush," said Clay, who voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to go to war in Iraq. "If you really believe that the war that you started in Iraq is a fight to defeat terrorism and to defend our freedoms, why haven't your girls enlisted?"

Clay said that during World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt's sons enlisted and added: "That is a perfect example of the difference between a truly courageous wartime president and an incompetent chickenhawk who prefers to risk the lives of other American's children."

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March 24, 2006

McCarthyism 101: Anatomy of a Smear

Guilt by association. It's a classic technique used by propagandists. And Seth Lipsky is nothing if not a propagandist -- look at the hand he gave alleged-Iranian agent Achmed Chalbi during the 1990s. (Was that last bit guilt-by-association? You be the judge!)

So when a report comes out from some Harvard Prof. that the "Jewish lobby" has too much influence, why bother reading the report and criticizing it, if you can find some unsavory characters who share the conclusion. Here's the headline and lead from Eli Lake's article in Lipsky's Sun:

David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated By a Harvard Dean

A paper recently co-authored by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government about the allegedly far-reaching influence of an "Israel lobby" is winning praise from white supremacist David Duke.

The Palestine Liberation Organization mission to Washington is distributing the paper, which also is being hailed by a senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.

But let's look further:
"I have read about the report and read one summary already, and I am surprised how excellent it is," he said in an e-mail. "It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started." Duke added that "the task before us is to wrest control of America's foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV."

Mr. Walt said last night, "I have always found Mr. Duke's views reprehensible, and I am sorry he sees this article as consistent with his view of the world."


The real problem that Lipsky is dealing with is the kernel of truth in the paper: There is no good publically stated reason for why we are in Iraq, and the clues certainly lead back to the Neoconservatives from whom Lipsky was an ideological arm.

Combine Bush's "we were in Iraq because of our bad intelligence" with the ample evidence that the intelligence was baldly cooked by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and AIPAC hatchet-man Doug Feith and what do you have?

Personally, I think it's more complicated than that. But in the absence of truth, conspiracy theories flourish. That's why anti-Semitic conspiracies are the stuff of Czarist Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Cheney America.

Posted by yudel at 10:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 28, 2006

Bush Still Most Popular 21st Century President!

And he's more popular than Watergate-battered Nixon, to boot! As CBS says,

Bush's low job approval is far below that of some of his two-term
predecessors at this point in their second terms. In November 1985,
President Reagan had a 65 percent approval rating, and Bill Clinton's
job approval in November 1997 was 57 percent. Bush's rating is higher
than Richard Nixon's was at the same point in his administration.

Posted by yudel at 2:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 23, 2006

Port Security: Jewish Republican Quits Party!

Mystical Paths declares that

There's a point where pro-business hurts, and a point where it's corruption and disingenious. George Bush has just jumped the shark.
He elaborates:
I support the ideals of the U.S. Republican party, but I no longer
support either President Bush, his administration, or the Republican
control of Congress (which has treated the U.S. budget as a piggy bank
to be raided.)

Just to emphasize this change in thinking, it should be noted that I'm...

-> A member of the Republican National Committee
-> A member of the Republican Jewish Coalition
-> A member of Blogs for Bush
-> A member of GOP Bloggers

It's unlikely I'll still be a member of them next week.

Posted by yudel at 7:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shiites kill Sunnis -- and damn straight I blame the Republicans

A reminder of how Bush created the Iraqi civil war:

From the moment that Baghdad fell in April 2003 and much of the public infrastructure was systematically destroyed, the United States failed to fulfill the first overriding obligation of an occupying power: to establish and maintain order. Coalition (mainly American) forces failed to secure Iraq's cities, roads, electricity grids, oil pipelines and borders. The tenacious insurgency, fed and emboldened by an escalating influx of foreign jihadist terrorists, sabotaged roads and crucial facilities as rapidly as they were repaired.

Not surprising, Iraqis quickly lost confidence in the Americans. They now had to face, instead of Saddam, a new but still paralyzing fear -- of chaos, and of various possible forms of violent assault and sudden death.

Why did this happen? Both the military and civilian aspects of the postwar mission were astonishingly short of resources. Not only did the coalition forces not have nearly enough troops, but America also never had enough armored Humvees and other vehicles, including helicopters, or high-quality body armor. We never had nearly enough translators and interpreters, nor enough civilians who knew Iraq's culture, history and language.

The coalition government relied heavily on a revolving door of diplomats and other personnel who would leave just as they had begun to develop local knowledge and ties, and on a large cadre of eager young neophytes whose brashness often gave offense in a very age- and status-conscious society. One young political appointee (a 24-year-old Ivy League graduate) argued that Iraq should not enshrine judicial review in its constitution because it might lead to the legalization of abortion. A much more senior Iraqi interlocutor (a widely experienced Iraqi-American lawyer) became so exasperated with the young man's audacity that he finally challenged him:

``You must have thoroughly studied the history of the British occupation of Iraq.''

``Yes, I did,'' the young American replied proudly.

``I thought so,'' said the Iraqi, ``because you seem determined to repeat every one of their mistakes.''

Thanks to Atrios for the history lesson.

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January 30, 2006

Bush to Iran: Maybe we can lay off the Jews, and hate gays instead?

In a vote Monday, the United States supported Iran's recommendation to deny consultative status at the United Nations' Economic and Social Council to the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, based in Belgium. -- NYTimes

Posted by yudel at 9:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2006

Bush's Biblical Values (c.f. Midrash on the Tower of Babel)

What was so bad about the trying to build a tower to heaven? Jewish tradition explains that the building project valued bricks above human life. If a brick were to fall off the tower, there would be hell to pay; but no-one mourned when a worker was killed.

Courtesy of AmericaBlog, here's a disheartening sign of how the worst sort of Biblical values rule the courts of Bush's America:

No Prison Time for Soldier Held in Iraqi's Death

FORT CARSON, Colo., Jan. 23 (AP) - A military jury ordered a reprimand but no jail time Monday for an Army interrogator convicted of negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi general who died after he stuffed him headfirst into a sleeping bag and sat on his chest.
War Protester Sentenced to 6 Months for Damaging Upstate Recruiting Station
Expressing doubt that incarceration would make the defendant reform or repent, a federal judge nevertheless sentenced an antiwar campaigner on Monday to serve six months in prison for his role in damaging a military recruiting center during a protest in 2003.

"You have obvious contempt for the laws of the U.S., and it bothers me," the judge, Thomas McAvoy of United States District Court, told the protester, Daniel J. Burns.

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January 15, 2006

Liar, liar, Supreme Court seat on fire?

Attytood: He can't handle the truth: The real story of Sam Alito, ROTC, and Concerned Alumni of Princeton

The Samuel Alito confirmation hearings droned on, but there was one moment this morning that really stopped us in our tracks. His bizarre explanation for the reason why he joined the ultra-conservative, anti-affiirmative action concerned Alumni of Princeton around the time he graduated from the Ivy League school in 1972 carried the overpowering whiff of baloney the second we heard it.

We won't accuse the Supreme Court wannabe of lying, because we can't know what is in Sam Alito's brain, or his heart. But his explanation -- that he was motivated by his anger over student protests against the ROTC, where he was an officer -- simply does not jibe with either the facts or the accounts of his Princeton contemporaries.

Posted by yudel at 5:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 5, 2006

CNN: Would Big Brother Lie to You?

I really try not to blog continually about the credulity of the Republican media. There are other sites that do that on a regular basis. But here's how CNN reports on a claim that one of its reporters was targetted by the illegal Bush wiretaps (as summarized by AmericaBlog):

Well, John, I'm told considerable manhours today went into making sure the answer to CNN would be accurate. A senior US intelligence official tells use that our colleague Christiane Amanpour has never been targetted by the National Security Agency, and nor has any other CNN journalist. Now, the NSA as you know is the eavesdropping intelligence agency, the US government's big ear, and from time to time, the official says, wiretaps overseas or other intercepts turn out to include Americans, or what they call 'US persons', which includes people who works for US companies, it does so inadvertently. But if the NSA finds it has tape and transcript of such a person, by law, it is required to be immediately erased, deleted, gotten rid of. US intelligence officials rarely comment on who they may or may not have collected information about, but because of all the web blogosphere attention this was getting today, this senior official was willing to look into it for us, and to be quite clear in his denial -- frankly, I get the impression the NSA is as puzzled by Andrea Mitchell's question, and NBC's decision to put it out on the web, as we were.
To which AmericaBlog wisely responds:
By law? You mean the same anti-wiretapping law that George Bush just broke and just told us he doesn't have to abide by because we're at war and he's commander in chief? Come on guys, I can't believe no one at CNN cracked a smile when they heard this. And please don't present this as definitive proof without noting the fact that the administration says it can break the law and many think they have broken it already. Not to mention, this totally contradicts what the president told us about taping conversations of 500+ American who have supposedly spoken with Al Qaeda affiliates - he's already admitted that Americans can be taped.

So you mean if Christiane spoke to a source who was an Al Qaeda affiliate the administration would NOT tape the call and if they did accidentally, they'd delete it? Give me a break. And in any case, Bush already admitted to tapping Americans so this defense is already moot. Unfortunately, CNN didn't mention that fact either.

And finally, while I'm glad CNN dug into this, asking a "senior intelligence official" to look into this - then having him get back to you and say "nope, nothing there, we didn't break the law" isn't really very conclusive evidence, don't you think? Did you expect him to get back to you and say "yes, we are tapping journalists?"

Then again, whose to blame CNN? Under the Bush "I-can-do-whatever-the-fuck-they-I-want-if-I-call-it-war" Doctrine, nothing stops him from hiring G.Gordon Liddy to blow up reporters he doesn't like. If I was a CNN produce on the White House radar -- rather than an irrelevant blogger -- you can bet I'd be an ass-licking toady too. When the boss plays by Putin rules, the media knows enough to play the Pravda game.
Posted by yudel at 8:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

Two depressing sentences for today, about the implications of the Bush/Yoo doctrine of unlimited executive force

John Robb's Weblog:
It's important to note that the assumption of new powers by the state is a sign of extreme weakness and not of strength. It means that it can't retain control without destroying the moral and legal fabric of the very system from which it gains strength.
Posted by yudel at 11:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

Was "nausea" on the checklist?

"You Don't Say" research finding of the week, from HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO):

National Study Reveals State of the Union Address Prompts Strong Positive and Negative Emotions Among Americans

Highlights:

Results of a national study conducted during President Bush’s State of the Union Address revealed positive and negative emotional responses among Americans, including confidence and enlightenment, to skepticism and anger.

The respondents were also asked to indicate the most intense feelings they experienced while watching the President's speech. The emotions selected most frequently were:

64% of Conservatives reported that their most intense feeling was confidence while viewing the speech.
30% of Moderates reported that suspicion and skepticism were their most intense feelings while watching the speech, compared to only 11% of Conservatives.
74% of Liberals reported that disgust and irritation were their most intense feelings while viewing the speech, compared to only 20% of Moderates and 16% of Conservatives.


Posted by Andy at 8:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 5, 2005

How the conspiracy of lies works

Could one of America's best reporters have made up a story showing gloomy prospects in the Iraq war?

Nothing, of course, would please the White House more. James Wolcott shows how the Wall Street Journal editorial page lazily manufacture the fiction and the National Review Online runs with it.

Reason #73,123, as if you needed one, why not to believe anything Bush or his supporters say.

Posted by yudel at 2:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 2, 2005

Bush's War: The best coverage money can buy

War and Piece: Blowback:

Broken yesterday by the Los Angeles Times, Knight Ridder and the New York Times have major installments on the story that the Pentagon is paying the Lincoln Group tens of millions of dollars, and Iraqi journalists hundreds of dollars per month, to plant US written and storyboarded propaganda in Iraqi newspapers disguised as journalism. And guess what? The revelations are unpopular with top uniformed US military commanders:

In other words: Anyone who says something nice about Bush or his quagmire -- and isn't getting paid by our taxdollars to do so -- is a chump.

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November 27, 2005

AmericaBlog wants to know...

Does anyone know exactly what the noble mission is? The White House thinks if you just keep calling Iraq a "noble mission" people will think it is a noble mission even if they don't know what that noble mission is.

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth


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November 8, 2005

The long, sorry career of an unindicted co-president

James Carroll reminds us that Cheney has been dicking us since days of Tricky Dicky:


At world-shaping moments across a generation, Cheney reacted with an instinctive, This is war!

He helped turn the War on Poverty into a war on the poor.

He helped keep the Cold War going longer than it had to, and when it ended (because of initiatives taken by the other side), Cheney refused to believe it. To keep the US war machine up and running, he found a new justification just in time.

With Gulf War I, Cheney ignited Osama bin Laden's burning

purpose. Responding to 9/11, Cheney fulfilled bin Laden's purpose by joining him in the war-of-civilizations.

Iraq, therefore (including the prewar deceit for which Scooter Libby takes the fall), is simply the last link in the chain of disaster which is the public career of Richard Cheney.

Posted by yudel at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 2, 2005

A glimpse of hope? Has 4th estate broken off four-year honeymoon with Bush?

AMERICAblog:
brings word that after four years, the media finally is willing to play hardball against the incompetent goons in Washington:


Ted Koppel Rips, Rips RIPS Michael Brown of FEMA on "Nightline
by Michael in New York - 9/02/2005 12:08:00 AM

Some choice highlights.

Koppel (on the number of people at the convention center -- the mayor says 15,000 to 25,000 and FEMA said only 5000): One of you is wrong. It's either 5000 or 15,000. Do you know?

Brown of FEMA: Blah blah blah. 25,000.... We just learned of the convention center -- we being the federal government -- today.

Koppel: I've heard you say during the course of a number of interviews that you found out about the convention center today. Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today.

Brown of FEMA: We learned about (the convention center) FACTUALLY today that that's what existed.

(Brown responds to another question by saying troops are going to be moving in soon.)

Koppel: Here we are essentially FIVE DAYS after the storm hit and you're talking about what's going to happen in the next couple of days.... You didn't make preparations for what was going to happen in the event that [a category four storm hit]. Why didn't you?

(Brown then complains that poor people who don't own cars and can't afford hotel rooms didn't jump into their SUVs and head to the Hyatt in Atlanta. He then sidesteps Koppel by implying it was the city's fault for not having buses available for the very poor.)

Koppel: I'm not asking you why the city didn't have buses available. I'm asking you why you didn't have National Guards with trucks to get them out of there. Why you didn't have people with flatbed trailers if that's what you needed. Why you didn't simply get as many Greyhound buses from surrounding states as you could lay your hands on to get those people out of there. Why you haven't done it TO THIS DAY.

Transcript and video coming soon.

Thank God Koppel is there to ask the common sense questions we've been talking about all day. And how soon before Brown gets his Medal of Freedom?

Remember: If the head of FEMA has time to go on TV, the American people have time to demand the truth from the Bush.

Posted by yudel at 1:22 AM | TrackBack

September 1, 2005

YudelLine: Katrina is God's Punishment on the American People for Hiring Bush

Just as God punishes people who jump out of airplanes without parachutes, or who douse themselves with gasoline and light a match, God punishes those who hire a man who never worked a day in his life to manage their country.

Maybe I'm just bitter, because I've always placed work responsibilities ahead of vacation.

Maybe because I was taught that those who lead have to work the hardest -- not take the longest vacations.

But I think there's a real lesson here, and that is that America cannot survive another three and a half years of this administration. It is time for impeachment.

To plagiarize from
Digby,
who quotes Wolcott:


No, this is the time for politics, none better, because I can tell you just from being out of NY a few days that a lot of people in this country are shocked and sobered by New Orleans, but they're also worried and pissed off. They're making the connection between the money, manpower, and resources expended in Iraq and how raggedy-ass the rescue effort has been in the Gulf. If you don't say it now when people's nerves are raw and they're paying full attention, it'll be too late once the waters receded and the media-emoting "healing process" begins.


This event is emblematic of Republican governance. It encompasses every fuck-up they've perpetrated since they took over the entire national governament --- failure to plan, embracing only the best case scenario, lagging response, ignoring the experts, slashing funds and endless, endless happy talk that we can SEE WITH OUR OWN EYES is bullshit. (They are already saying that nobody is reporting all the "good news.")


The fact that most of these refugees (a word that I can hardly believe I'm typing) are black and poor residents who were unable to leave and were therefore, left to die, is emblematic also.


No, this is all about politics. It is about a GOP era of massive tax breaks for very rich Americans, billion dollar a week elective wars that we are losing while more and more people fall into poverty and the infrastructure of this country crumbles around our ears.


This failed experiment in free-market magical thinking can be summed up entirely by pictures of dead elderly Americans on the streets of New Orleans.


Posted by yudel at 10:34 PM

Republican Party responds to catastrophe: Now is the time to fight "death tax"

Crooks and Liars has the email of what is apparently Ken Mehlman's most important issue today.

Given that most of the people whose corpses are decomposing in New Orleans didn't flee town because they couldn't have SUVs in which to flee, that's a pretty tasteless issue to take up now.

But then, for the Republicans, taste always comes second to profits.

Posted by yudel at 8:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2005

Bad News for Lovers of Israel

Thanks to George Bush, Iran to earn its highest-ever oil revenues in 2005

Note that gas prices went up following the signing of Bush's "Energy Bill."

Between record high oil prices, years of Republican action against American energy efficiency, and the new creation of an Iraqi Muslim republic... these do seem like good times to be a Muslim radical, eh?

Posted by yudel at 3:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 4, 2005

Has Bush's plan to export democracy succeeded?

And is there only a finite supply? Because if America is exporting democracy in large quantities, there won't be much left for us here at home, will there?

Or so I start to muse after reading Bill Mon's take on Tuesday's Ohio congressional election,
Whiskey Bar: Too Close for Comfort:

Of course, none of this proves, or even makes a circumstantial case, that yesterday's election was stolen. Maybe the inhabitants of Clerrmont County really are just unusually witless in their devotion to the GOP cause. I live in a Republican machine county myself, so I know how that goes.

But it's still rather remarkable how often the lightning seems to strike in Clermont -- and at the just the right time, producing just the right amount of votes for an otherwise endangered GOP candidate. Like I said, I'd feel a lot better about it if the party stalwarts who run the county's elections were describing the inner workings of the system to a grand jury -- under oath.

Posted by yudel at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

A liberal's view of Iraq

Cadenhead neails it:
As much as I want a positive outcome in Iraq, in spite of my opposition to the war, I can't see it happening under a White House more serious about fighting Democrats than terrorists.
Posted by yudel at 7:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2005

Bush propagandist: Jews not "regular people"

Thanks to Media Matters for America for the catch.

Posted by yudel at 4:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Newsweek's Old News and Bush's Continuing Coverup

Corrente notes the accusations of Koran abuse go back at least two years, such as this March 26, 2003 report:

The men, the largest single group of Afghans to be released after months of detainment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave varying accounts of how American forces treated them during interrogation and detainment. Some displayed medical records showing extensive care by American military doctors, while others complained that American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.

But, if the White House is so sure that no such abuse ever took place, why not release the report of the Pentagon investigation and the accompanying investigative documents?

Posted by yudel at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

When the fuck did Lynndie England become Elie Wiesel?

That's the question that Jesse Taylor raises in the less bluntly titled post, What Not To Compare Judaism To on the Pendagon blog. At issue is a John Podhoretz post which basically argues that muslims in American custody aren't being treated any worse than Christians are treated by Jews when it's time to bake matzah.

Gee, if I were a muslim reading this, I couldn't feel any better about the Jews unless I had been wrapped in an Israeli flag by American interrogators as a show of their strength. The willingness of the RepuJews to sell out their people to sound clever while enforcing the Party Lines continues to astonish me.

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May 13, 2005

Dick's pet president

My Pet President? Even More to the Story than you think (Daily Kos)

Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.

While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on

There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened.

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Mister, we could use a man like Dwight D. Eisenhower again

Presidential Papers, Doc#1147 Personal and confidential To Edgar Newton Eisenhower, 8 November 1954. In The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.5 Their number is negligible and they are stupid. (emphasis added)

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Year 5 of the responsibility era

Daniel Gross summarizes the United Airlines bankruptcy plan:

Tens of thousands of people who worked hard, and played by the rules, who met all their contractual obligations and planned for retirement accordingly--just lost at least one-third of their retirement income.

And not because they screwed up and made poor choices, but because the executives who ran the company and willingly agreed to fund the pensions screwed up and made poor choices.

Welcome to the ownership society!

The other two-thirds of their retirement funds will be paid by we taxpayers. For this management got millions of dollars in their bank accounts?

Privatize the gains. Socialize the loss. It's the Republican way.

Posted by yudel at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2005

Pat Buchanan: Does George Bush agree with me that fighting the Nazis was a mistake?

Pat Buchanan: Was World War II worth it? follows on the heels of the president expressing regret that Truman didn't listen to the John Birch Society and launch World War III back in 1945:

For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end the oppression. The agreement in Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable.

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Homeland Security Chief Confessess: Politicians Raised Threat Level for no good reason!

Eschaton cites USA Today:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says. Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.
Readers are invited to submit suggestions of what exactly the Bush gang would not do in pursuit of their agenda.
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May 11, 2005

What makes Jack Abramoff run?

Is Jack Abramoff the 21st century version of Sammy Glick, Budd Schulberg's ruthlessly careerist Hollywood mogul?

It’s probably unfair to compare Abramoff to Sammy Glick. Glick grew up in abject poverty on the Lower East Side; Abramoff’s parents moved to Beverly Hills when he was a boy. Sammy turned his back on religion, while Abramoff adopted Orthodox Jewish practice as a teenager. Sammy was a successful filmmaker; Abramoff’s stab at movie production, the lurid 1988 thriller Red Scorpion, was a critical and box office flop.

But there are certain parallels, shall we say.

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May 10, 2005

Are Republicans Betting on the End of History Democracy?

Over at Eschaton, a guest blogger muses:

One reason I don't think it's at all paranoid to suspect that the Republicans have deliberately taken over the voting system in order to cheat is that they keep doing things that don't otherwise make sense. There's a rather long list of things you just wouldn't expect them to think they could get away with unless they really thought they could control the ballot box, because otherwise they would have to expect that the public would kick enough of them out to not only end some political careers but also make impeachment - and prison - a distinct possibility.

And then there's this nuclear option thing - why would they be willing to remove any possibility of stopping majority party initiatives unless they were absolutely sure that they could never become the minority party again?

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May 5, 2005

Your taxes paid for $3 Million for Republican Propaganda

Think Progress summarizes the president's social security scare tour. The good news is that, so far, it hasn't worked.
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May 4, 2005

Rumsfeld Reinvents the Talmud

You are one of those rare people who, as the Talmud puts it, would rather light candles than curse the darkness.

-- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, bidding farewell to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, at a Pentagon ceremony April 29.

Does the Talmud really say that? In case you missed it, the YudelLine crew conducted an in-depth investigation on that very issue earlier this week.

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May 3, 2005

Don't read this if you value security

The wiseBull Moose muses:
Here is a thought experiment - what would be the Republican response if a Democratic Administration stood fecklessly on the sidelines observing as North Korea and Iran armed themselves with nuclear weapons while our military was severely weakened? Consider this passage in today's Washington Times,
"Global tensions over nuclear proliferation escalated during the weekend when North Korea fired a short-range missile into the East Sea/Sea of Japan, and Iran warned that it might resume enrichment of uranium after the failure of talks with European nations."
And if you feel a little nervous about the evil doers armed to the teeth with the ability to vaporize their victims, here is something else to keep you up at night. The Washington Post frightens us with this headline U.S. Called Unprepared For Nuclear Terrorism.
"Although hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved by rapidly evacuating people downwind of a radiation cloud, officials have trained only small numbers of first responders to prepare for such an event, according to public health specialists and government documents. And the information given to the public is flawed and incomplete, many experts agree."
...

Meanwhile, the Administration lacks the resources to adequately rebuild the military. By the way, where were the neo-cons when the Bushies lavished tax cuts on their wealthy buddies in the middle of a war thereby depriving the military of critical funds?

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Social Security Solvency made Simple

Atrios of Eschaton explains:
The only thing "to do" about Social Security is to improve its long run solvency. The only reasonable way to improve its long run solvency is to pre-fund the Trust Fund. But, we have a president running around claiming the trust fund is just a file cabinet, and a bunch of Republicans in Congress who agree. So, throwing more money into the "file cabinet" is just a way to throw more money at tax cuts for the rich. That is, in fact, what the president has told us.

Pre-funding is a sucker's game as long as the president is a liar. Well, he's a liar. Not about blowjobs, of course, but about unimportant things like your retirement. It isn't even a particular pressing issue by any standard. But, even if it was -- pre-funding the trust fund is just funding tax cuts for the wealthy as long as these people are in charge.

Bush has declared that your payroll taxes should pay for Bill Gates's tax cuts.

Why continue to enable him?

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May 2, 2005

Is Rumsfeld's quote really from Talmud?

You are one of those rare people who, as the Talmud puts it, would rather light candles than curse the darkness.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, bidding farewell to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, at a Pentagon ceremony April 29.

Question: Is this really in the Talmud? Can anyone provide a citation? I've seen the expression attributed to an "old Chinese proverb"; alternatively, Adlai Stevenson is quoted as saying it regarding Eleanor Roosevelt.

Posted by Andy at 2:21 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 29, 2005

Does the president hate me because I'm a Democrat, a Jewish liberal, or because I'm Middle Class?

Bush Redefines “Better Off”

So to sell his tax cuts, Bush implied that anything under $100,000 was “low income.” Now, to sell his Social Security package, anything over $20,000 is “better off.”

Wow. What a great deal for those of us making in the middle of that range.

Oh, and speaking of being in the bullseye: How's the hunt for Bin Laden doing? Just wondering, Georgie boy.

Posted by yudel at 6:43 PM | TrackBack

April 22, 2005

Yo! Talk to the Rock!

Security vs. Rebuilding: Kurdish Town Loses Out reports the New York Times:

For years Nuradeen Ghreeb has dreamed of bringing clean drinking water to his hometown. That town happens to be Halabja, where 17 years ago he and his parents cowered in a basement as Saddam Hussein's airplanes attacked with chemical weapons, killing at least 5,000 people.

But on Sunday, Mr. Nuradeen learned that his dream was over, because the United States had canceled the water project it had planned here as part of a vast effort to rebuild Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Ordinarily a quiet and reserved civil engineer, he sat on one of his beloved water pipes on hearing the news and wept, his tears glistening in the afternoon sun.

"If the Americans think that training the Iraqi Army comes before clean drinking water for the people of Halabja," he said quietly, "then we can't expect anything from them."

The Halabja project, worth around $10 million, accounted for a small fraction of the $18.4 billion that Congress approved in 2003 for the reconstruction of Iraq, including $4 billion for water and sewage projects. But with the outbreak of insurgency in central and southern Iraq last year, the United States shifted $3.4 billion from water, electricity and oil projects to pay for training and equipping the Iraqi Army and police forces.

Hey, kvetchers! Don't you know your Bible? Talk to the rock and you'll get all the water you want....

Tip of the hat to Get Your War On

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March 4, 2005

How the Bush Administration turned a government agency into another tool of the Republican Party

The Stakeholder :: Pelosi, Waxman: SSA Politicized


WASHINGTON - Today Reps. Henry A. Waxman, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, and Rep. Sander M. Levin, along with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and Reps. Obey, Miller, and DeLauro, released a new report that shows how the Social Security Administration has modified its communications strategy to undermine public confidence in Social Security.


The report, based on a review of over 4,000 pages of Social Security documents from 1995 to 2005, reveals that the agency has systematically altered agency publications, press releases, PowerPoint presentations, website content, and even its annual statements to foster the impression that Social Security is "unsustainable" and "must change." The agency's new pessimistic tone and emphasis echo President Bush's warnings about the future of Social Security.


"The job of the Social Security Administration is to run the Social Security program, not to provide political cover for President Bush," said Rep. Waxman. "The agency has sacrificed its independence and abandoned its tradition of nonpartisan administration of Social Security."

"This blatant change in message and tactics is shameless politicization," said Rep. Levin.

"The Bush Administration must stop using the SSA as it tries to scare up support for privatizing Social Security. The agency must reassert its independence and promote its goal - professional, nonpartisan administration of the Social Security programs."


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If America is richer, why are its families so much less secure?

Important series from the Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times reporter Peter G. Gosselin has spent the last year examining an American paradox: Why so many families report being financially less secure even as the nation has grown more prosperous.

The answer lies in a quarter-century-long shift of economic risks from the broad shoulders of business and government to the backs of working families.

Safety nets that once protected Americans from economic turbulence — safeguards like unemployment compensation and employer loyalty — have eroded or vanished. Familes are more vulnerable to sudden shifts in the economy than any time since the Great Depression.

The result is a daunting "New Deal" for many working Americans — one that compels them to cope, largely on their own, with financial forces far beyond their control.

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March 3, 2005

George Bush and the party of the camel

From Talking Points Memo, guest hosted by Ed Kilgore:

Bush did not bother to include the simplest and least controversial part of his original faith-based initiative--a charitable contribution deduction for non-itemizers--in his latest budget.

As in past years, this tax cut got bumped from the menu of revenue goodies in favor of tax cuts aimed at high earners--you know, those folks of whom Jesus Christ said: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24).

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February 17, 2005

Carlos Castenda explains why reducing my promised social security payments is not a "benefits cut"

Pull up a stool at the Whiskey Bar for the details.

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February 14, 2005

That Wacky W. White House!

AMERICAblog sums up the blogger-investigated story of "Jeff Gannon," the pseudonymous pseudo-reporter who tossed softball questions in the White House press room... and turns out to have had some secrets of his own:
Say what you will about Monika Lewinsky - a tasteless episode, "inappropriate," whatever. Monika wasn't a gay prostitute running around the West Wing. What kind of leadership would let prostitutes roam the halls of the West Wing? What kind of war-time leadership can't find the same information that took bloggers only days to find?

None of this is by accident.

Someone had to make a decision to let all this happen. Who? Someone committed a crime in exposing Valerie Plame and now it appears a gay hooker may be right in the middle of all of it? Who?

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February 11, 2005

Anyone know of any yeshiva which teaches Chinese?

PC Magazine's John Dvorak has some important news:
Meanwhile, for those of you who missed the news, Steven Chen—the supercomputer designer and one-time protege, then competitor, of Seymour Cray—has decided to go to China to develop his next generation of machines. Yet another example of the reverse brain drain taking place in the U.S., where expertise and knowledge are freely being shipped to India and China. As if the budget deficit and sagging dollar weren't bad enough. The Chinese are quite interested in developing a supercomputer market, and they have plenty of money, thanks to the American penchant for buying cheap Chinese products by the truckload.

This story, which should have been a front-page news item across the country, was lost during the election coverage, when people seemed more concerned about John Kerry's Vietnam record. We have one of the most influential computer designers in the world working for China, and nobody notices. Chen's newest designs are massive hypercube-like arrays and powerful blades using Opteron processors. At this point, it's looking as if the Opteron is going to become a building-block chip for many supercomputer designs. By the way, I'm convinced the Chinese are going to put a man on the moon much sooner than we expect. Take note.

You did notice that IBM sold its pc manufacturing division -- makers of the laptop on which I am writing this post -- to a Chinese company last month, right? And you noticed that Bill Gates has started buying Chinese currency, didn't you?
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February 4, 2005

Scoop! Busted Buster Baxter visitee Emma Pike has at least one Jewish mother!

Someone sees the controversial Buster Baxter episode and files this report (emphases added): Daily Kos :: PBS's Buster airs on UNC-TV - society doesn't crumble

Well, this new Secretary of Education must have some kind of paranoid delusions because this show was as edgy and in-your-face gay agenda as, say, an episode of "Kate and Allie." Seriously! Buster arrived at the house, met one woman, she took him inside and said hi to another woman. Then, kid stuff - Buster cleverly noted that the two brothers, one African-American and one Caucasian, didn't look alike. They explained they were stepbrothers. Okay. The daughter did show a photo of the two moms and said it was special to her because it was a photo of people who meant a lot to her. Something like that.

I am waiting for the controversy. Their house is clean, the mom makes chocolate chip cookies, they are JEWISH.(was this the problem?) My son wondered why he couldn't light candles at dinner as they did. They prayed. Buster visited a farm, saw a guy milk cows, saw maple sugaring, ate a lot. The family and another family with two moms who were NOT mentioned in any way - it was all about kids - had a bonfire. They dragged out a Christmas tree to burn and yelled, "Goodbye Winter!" Oh, the dog ate Buster's gifts for his mom, and Buster fainted, but he recovered.

I was disappointed that it did not even PROVIDE an opportunity to talk about same sex marriage or couples and kids. I asked my son what he noticed about the families, and it was all about candles, how much sap it takes to make maple syrup, and the dog eating the presents. He did not notice the two moms at all, and he is a pretty observant kid.

Similarly, here's a report from
The Chicago Tribune:

got a copy of "Sugartime!" and watched it with my 2-year-old son, who has been a fan of "Buster" since it debuted last fall.

Though there is more than just a cavalcade of mothers in the episode -- Buster visits a dairy farm and a store selling maple sugar products -- mothers are the central theme of "Sugartime!" In addition to meeting the two mom-headed families, Buster spends a lot of time deciding what to get his own mom for Mother's Day (wisely, he decides against a dairy cow).

After meeting her family, he and Emma go to a nearby home, where Emma's friend Lily lives.

"She's one of my best friends," Emma says as they bike down a Vermont back road. "Tracy and Gina are her moms, and Tracy and Gina are friends of Gillian."

At Lily's house, Buster meets Tracy and Gina and their three children. With some of his new young friends in tow, he then heads to a family-run maple sugar store, where he meets a young boy named Cameron, who explains how maple syrup is made. At the store, Buster samples an odd Vermont treat: shaved ice with hot maple syrup, with a doughnut and a pickle piled on top.

"Interesting combination," Buster says diplomatically.

After buying some maple syrup treats, Buster and friends go to a local dairy farm, where the young rabbit meets some wobbly kneed baby cows and learns how cows are milked.

Buster's visit winds up with a feast at Lily's house, where all four moms and all six of their kids are ranged around a table. The feast doubles as a Sabbath meal for some members of the group, so candles are lit and traditional Hebrew prayers are briefly spoken.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to hear back from the Public Affairs office of the Department of Education concerning the following question:
I understand that the show featured a Jewish sabbath candle-lighting ceremony. Does the Secretary think parents will be uncomfortable exposing children to that? Why or why not?

Posted by yudel at 4:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Education Secretary stands firm against 11-year-old Emma!

The AP has another interview with Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, who is not at all abashed about bashing Buster Baxter for visiting the 11-year-old daughter of two moms:
"We need to know what we're getting," Spellings said Tuesday. "We need to have a clearer, brighter line so that we don't discover late in the process that this is what is coming down the pike."
"Pike," indeed. What a funny, perhaps Freudian, reference to the girl at the center of the controvery, 11-year-old Emma Pike.

Who said the Bush Administration wasn't willing to play tough with children?

Posted by yudel at 3:35 PM

January 26, 2005

Another reminder that the G in G.O.P. is for Goyish

Via The Left Coaster:
A delegation sent by President Bush to Ukraine's presidential inauguration last weekend included a Ukrainian-American activist who has accused Jews of manipulating the Holocaust for their gain and blamed them for Soviet-era atrocities in Ukraine.

"Big money drives the Holocaust industry," Myron B. Kuropas wrote in August 2000.Full details from Knight Ridder

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Secretary of Education promises to check tzitzis of PBS children's shows

Our new Secretary of Education opines on children's television:

``Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode,'' Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.

One of the prices of not having cable is that I'm not up to date on children's television. So I can't really vouch for ``Postcards From Buster'' a PBS shows featuring an animated bunny named -- you guessed it! -- Buster. It turns out that Buster has taken to visiting some pretty un-Christian places lately. According to published accounts,

The not-yet-aired episode of ``Postcards From Buster'' shows the title character, an animated bunny named Buster, on a trip to Vermont -- a state known for recognizing same-sex civil unions. The episode features two lesbian couples, although the focus is on farm life and maple sugaring.
According to his blog, Buster has also visited New York City. In his own words,
I stayed with Aryeh and his family. They are Orthodox Jews. Aryeh wears a kipa, or yarmulke, on his head. It reminds him that God is above him. He also wears tzitzis, or knotted strings, on his shirt to remind him of the ten commandments.
Now here's something I don't want my children exposed to! I hope the Secretary of Education will inform the secular Jews at PBS that they undercounted the number of mitzvos by 603, and will soon appoint an Undersecretary for Tzitzis Checking!
Posted by yudel at 8:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bush moral values make our Chinese financiers very, very happy

Andrew Sullivan reports:
A journalist friend of mine who has good sources in the Chinese government recently asked them what their response was to Abu Ghraib. He told me they smiled broadly.

"Oh, we loved Abu Ghraib," they replied. "We just hope your president doesn't start preaching to us about human rights any time soon."

Posted by yudel at 5:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Margaret Spellings addresses Buster Baxter: For the record

Posted for easy reference.... and avoid anything disappearing down the memory hole.

January 25, 2005 -- Letter to Ms. Pat Mitchell regarding the Department of Education's concerns about a Ready-To-Learn television episode developed under a cooperative agreement between the Department and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)


ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY EDUCATION
Key Policy Letters Signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary
January 2005

January 25, 2005

Ms. Pat Mitchell
President and Chief Executive Officer
Public Broadcasting Service
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Dear Ms. Mitchell:

The Department of Education has strong and very serious concerns about a specific Ready-To-Learn television episode, yet to be aired, that has been developed under a cooperative agreement between the Department and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The episode -- "Sugartime!" -- is part of the "Postcards from Buster" series, and would feature throughout the show families headed by gay couples.

As you know, the cooperative agreement that PBS is using to support these programs is designed to prepare preschool and elementary age children for school. A principal focus of the law authorizing funding for the Ready-To-Learn program is facilitating student academic achievement. In the fiscal year 2005 appropriations conference report (H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 108-792 at 1236-1237 (2004)), Congress reiterated the unique mission of Ready-To-Learn, which is "to use the television medium to help prepare preschool age children for school. The television programs that must fulfill this mission are to be specifically designed for this purpose, with the highest attention to production quality and validity of research-based educational objectives, content, and materials." In addition, you should also know that two years ago the Senate Appropriations Committee raised questions about the accountability of funds appropriated for Ready-To-Learn programs.

We believe the "Sugartime!" episode does not come within these purposes or within the intent of Congress, and would undermine the overall objective of the Ready-To-Learn program -- to produce programming that reaches as many children and families as possible. Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode. Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television.

In light of these concerns, we have several requests. First, if you air the show, we must insist that you remove from the specific episode the Department's seal, as well as any other logo or statement indicating that the Department funded, endorsed, sponsored or was involved in the development, creation, or production of the episode, and, in addition, that you also remove any such reference in any materials about the program. Second, we request that you notify your member stations of the nature of the content of these programs and ask that they review the programs before deciding whether to air them. Third, in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt the program, we believe you should strongly consider refunding to the Department the Federal education funds that were used for the episode.

Finally, you can be assured that in the future the Department will be more clear as to its expectations for any future programming that it funds.

Sincerely,

/s/

Margaret Spellings

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January 24, 2005

Gonzales: The anti-truth attorney general

It sounds like another typical story about our post-accountability-moment president:

"In public, they were making a big show of how he was prepared to serve," said Crain. "In the back room, they were trying to get him off."
The difference is that this Newsweek piece, Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet? describes the behavior of our next attorney general.

Maybe our representatives should see if they can torture the truth out of him?

Posted by yudel at 8:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mr. President, what should I study in community college?

Remember how during the debate the president promised that we could all retrain at community colleges? Take a look at the following news item and then answer the question that follows.

Pfizer Outsources Trial Management to Cognizant January 24,

Pfizer Inc. is outsourcing high-end business processes in clinical data management and biometrics to Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., an offshore outsourcing company based in Teaneck, New Jersey, with operations in India.

Pfizer Global Research and Development, through its Indian affiliate, announced the multiyear business process outsourcing relationship on Monday. Cognizant will provide database design, data management, programming and clinical communication or medical writing as part of the deal.

So, Mr. President, if Pfizer is outsourcing programming and writing jobs to India.... what careers do you see as local growth industries?

Posted by yudel at 7:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Rabbinical thoughts for inauguration day

Nationalism is not the same thing as patriotism. It is far more difficult to be a patriot, for it is the patriot's job to be on constant vigil lest the authentic values of his society be lost. The patriot must never be a rubberstamp constantly applauding the powers that be, but rather he must continually demand an even higher level of justice and compassion in society.
-- Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, letter printed in the Buenos Aires Herald, August 26, 1978. The author's name was withheld to protect his safety. Reprinted in You Are My Witness: The Living Words of Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer, St. Martin's Press, 2004.
Posted by yudel at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

The Struggle for Social Security

Whiskey Bar has the relevant sources. Go and learn.

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January 6, 2005

Meanwhile, back in Babylonia....

Iraqi insurgents demonstrate their "desperation" through bombings for the 16th month, as Matthew Yglesias documents. And Norwegianity asks, Why do they hate our troops?

Posted by yudel at 8:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 28, 2004

Faith and Compassion

From Eschaton compares
The Bush administration yesterday pledged $15 million to Asian nations hit by a tsunami that has killed more than 22,500 people, although the United Nations' humanitarian-aid chief called the donation "stingy."
to
The war on terror will take center stage at next month’s second inauguration for President Bush in Washington, D.C. ... The estimated budget for the event is $30-40 million, but that will not cover security costs.
Posted by yudel at 1:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2004

Doctor's Plot:: William Hurwitz falls victim to Adminstration's war on non-faith-based pain relief

Another Jew faces life in prison, via Reason: A pain doctor's drug trafficking conviction sets a chilling precedent:

Although the evidence they presented in his trial made it clear Hurwitz was not a drug trafficker, they still managed to convict him of drug trafficking.

The prosecutors did not dispute that Hurwitz had helped hundreds of patients recover their lives by prescribing the high doses of narcotics they needed to control their chronic pain.

The prosecutors did not claim Hurwitz, who faces a possible life sentence, got so much as a dime from illegal drug sales.

Our tax dollars at work. Merry Christmas!

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December 7, 2004

Operation Judaic Freedom

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release December 7, 2004

Hanukkah 2004

I send greetings to all those celebrating Hanukkah, the festival of lights.

On the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, Jews around the world commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago. During this time of darkness, the Temple had been seized, and Judaism had been outlawed. Judah Maccabee and his followers fought for three years for their freedom and successfully recaptured Jerusalem and the Temple. Jewish tradition teaches that the Maccabees found only one small bottle of oil to be used for temple rituals, but that oil lasted eight days and nights. The miracle of this enduring light, remembered through the lighting of the Menorah, continues to symbolize the triumph of faith over tyranny.

The bravery of the Maccabees has provided inspiration through the ages. We must remain steadfast and courageous as we seek to spread peace and freedom throughout the world. This holiday season, we give thanks to God, and we remember the brave men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. We also pray that all who live under oppression will see their day of freedom and that the light of faith will always shine through the darkness.

Laura joins me in wishing you a blessed and Happy Hanukkah GEORGE W. BUSH

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November 12, 2004

Bush Vows Second-Term Push for Palestinian State

Yahoo! News has the story. Surely major cognitive dissonance for anyone who believes that Bush is (1) Israel's Best Friend Ever and (2) a man of his word.

Posted by yudel at 2:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Why the Arab world spurns Bush's Democracy Talk

From Abu Aardvark: Headline in today's Al Hayat: "Bush Chooses as Attorney General Gonzalez, Author of the Famous Memo Permitting Torture."
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November 4, 2004

Just for the record

Soldiers Describe Looting of Explosives (LA Times)
WASHINGTON -- In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit — the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany — said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply.

The witnesses' accounts of the looting, the first provided by U.S. soldiers, support claims that the American military failed to safeguard the munitions. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N. nuclear watchdog — and the interim Iraqi government reported that about 380 tons of high-grade explosives had been taken from the Al Qaqaa facility after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The explosives are powerful enough to detonate a nuclear weapon.

During the last week, when revelations of the missing explosives became an issue in the presidential campaign, the Bush administration suggested that the munitions could have been carted off by Saddam Hussein's forces before the war began. Pentagon officials later said that U.S. troops systematically destroyed hundreds of tons of explosives at Al Qaqaa after Baghdad fell.

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November 3, 2004

Republican government

White House: Debt Ceiling Must Be Raised

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October 28, 2004

Why I believe in our president

From The Gadflyer:

I believe in President George W. Bush. I've always believed him.

I believe the president invaded Iraq to secure liberty and democracy for the Iraqi people. I believe he had compelling evidence that Iraq was a significant threat to America and the world, and presented that evidence in a complete and balanced manner. Like 42 percent of Americans -- and 62 percent of Republicans -- I believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks.

I believe we have enough troops on the ground in Iraq to ensure stability. I believe the rising American fatality rates, the rising casualty rates, and the rising American share of those coalition fatalities and casualties testify to the undeniable progress we're making there. I believe it is inappropriate and traitorous, however, for the media to broadcast pictures of American flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq.

I believed then-candidate Bush when he said during the 2000 campaign that America should not nation-build, and believe him now when he says our nation was divinely chosen for this task.

Read the rest

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October 20, 2004

Faith-based? Or just another false prophet?

Robertson: I warned Bush on Iraq casualties
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

So whose God do we believe? The president's? Or Pat Robertson's?
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October 18, 2004

The way it might have been

it's all one thing postulates an alternative universe, one where the old-time electoral college system was still in place:


What if George W. Bush had been elected president?

With the election only a few weeks away, I've decided to take a break from wondering whether Gore's bigger threat is McCain or Nader and instead indulge in a little speculation, inspired by Patrick Nielsen Hayden imagining the horrors of a hypothetical Bush presidency.

Now, this game is a little hard to play, considering that Gore won by half a million votes. But let's grant Patrick's premise: 1. The U.S. still has the blatantly undemocratic Electoral College....

Though it's hard to imagine Bush in the White House instead of facing hard time for the Enron/Halliburton fiascos, alternative history doesn't have to be easy. So, where would we be under a Bush presidency?

Let's start with the Republican strength, the economy. Gore struggled with the economic downturn early in his term and barely has us back on track. You can depend on Republicans to be fiscally conservative. Bush would have built on Clinton's success in turning around the deficit. Now, he might not have done as well as Gore because he would have insisted on tax cuts for the rich and for corporations. But consider this possibility: To make those tax cuts palatable to the American people, he would've had to give something in return. My guess? Universal health care. Remember, it's not a partisan issue. Nixon tried to come up with universal health care. Bush, with a Republican Congress, could have succeeded. And, if he had, I wouldn't mind if the debt wasn't shrinking as fast as it has under Gore. Heck, I wouldn't even mind if Bush was running a small deficit.

International relations wouldn't be that different either. With sanctions and inspections working in Iraq, Bush also would have kept the pressure on Israel to create a viable Palestine. Frankly, peace in the Middle East was inevitable.....

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October 12, 2004

Who could it be now?

John Kerry for President raises the question:


During the second presidential debate, Bush was asked to "give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it."

Bush refused to answer the question directly, but he did imply he was unhappy with someone in his administration: "I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."


Who is Bush so unhappy with? The following is a list of contenders....

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Bush promises faithful: I will overturn Roe v. Wade

Continuing with my belated debate coverage, here is the lead of Paperwight's Fair Shot: Dred Scott = Roe v. Wade.
Some people seem to be a bit boggled by Bush's Dred Scott remark last night. It wasn't about racism or slavery, or just Bush's natural incoherence. Here's what Bush actually said:
If elected to another term, I promise that I will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Bush couldn't say that in plain language, because it would freak out every moderate swing voter in the country, but he can say it in code, to make sure that his base will turn out for him. Anti-choice advocates have been comparing Roe v. Wade with Dred Scott v. Sandford for some time now. There is a constant drumbeat on the religious right to compare the contemporary culture war over abortion with the 19th century fight over slavery, with the anti-choicers cast in the role of the abolitionists.
Here's the simple Google link that makes the case: search abortion dred scott
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October 11, 2004

Wise words from Eve Kessler

Campaign Confidential: It's Tied:
Well, yes, it's been tied since 2000. But it remains tied because President Bush broke his promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Had he tried to fulfill that promise, he would be winning in a walk.
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Post Sukkos Quarterbacking

Political Wire reflects on the first debate, and asks: Do They Just Make it Up?

Three articles make it hard not to conclude the Bush administration just makes stuff up about Iraq as they go along:

The Boston Globe reports Vice President Dick Cheney continues to link Saddam Hussen with the terrorists who struck America on 9/11. "Although the extent of any relationship between Al Qaeda and Hussein has been widely disputed, Cheney proceeds with his contention with nary a nod toward such questions."

Reuters notes that many of the "assertions about progress in Iraq" that President Bush made in the first debate -- "from police training and reconstruction to preparations for January elections -- are in dispute, according to internal Pentagon documents, lawmakers and key congressional aides."

Finally, in a front page story, the New York Times says the White House "embraced the theory that aluminum tubes bound for Iraq were for nuclear centrifuges despite contrary views from America's leading nuclear scientists."

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September 27, 2004

I should have posted this before Yom Kippur

Really, a post that touches directly on questions of gossip, slander -- the whole litany of "sins of the mouth" which fill the lists of crimes we read on Yom Kippur -- should be posted before Kol Nidrei, not afterwards.

Two points in my defense. First, this only appeared today on Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo web log, presumably because the Joshua Green's subscribers-only Atlantic Monthly article he quotes just went up.

Second, we are still in the period of repentance, which by one measure stetches through the end of the Sukkot festival, and by another, runs straight through next Yom Kippur. So take this frightening, edifying example of the truly evil tongue to heart over the coming weeks and months.

The story at hand involves top George W. Bush advisor and campaign manager Karl Rove. At the magazine blurb puts it,

Karl Rove is at his most formidable when running close races, and his skills would be notable even if he used no extreme methods. But he does use them. His campaign history shows his willingness, when challenged, to employ savage tactics.

As Marshall says, introducing the following passages, "one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate -- a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues -- was in fact a pedophile:"

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect.

One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children.

"We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile.

"It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out--he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out."

This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state.

"What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

For the record, this behavior is not considered lashon hora, which is reporting on true matters. (This post is lashon hora, which I offer in the name of a higher cause.) The behavior described is motzi shem ra, or defamation.

And from a Jewish standpoint, from the perspective of the Yom Kippur machzor, what this behavior -- slandering a good man in the worst possible way precisely because of his innate goodness, damaging him, his family, and the children he helps -- says much about the character and values of the man who acts this way. But it says much more about the character and values of the man who pays his salary.

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September 22, 2004

Why did they die?

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal

Edward of Obsidian Wings asks a straightforward question: "What have our 1,000 troops died for?"

This question has a straightforward answer. The first 100 died (and the first 500 were maimed) to liberate Iraq from a dreadful tyrant who had no operational ties with Al Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat to the U.S., and posed little threat to his neighbors.

The next 900 died (and the next 4500 were maimed) because:

  1. Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to show that we could conquer, occupy, and control Iraq with a small force all by ourselves so that the Syrians and the Iranians would be scared of what we could do with the rest of our army.
  2. Nobody in the White House dared propose any change in policy when it became clear to everybody that Cheney and Rumsfeld were wrong.

Further conclusions to draw from this straightforward answer are left as an exercise for the reader.

Anyone not satisfied with that answer is invited to improve on it in the comments.
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September 21, 2004

Why does Bush hate the CIA?

At U.N., Bush Cites Headway in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

"Bush also played down the significance of a CIA report forecasting more difficulty in Iraq. "The CIA laid out several scenarios and said life could be lousy, life could be okay, life could be better, and they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," he said.

"The confidential August report to policymakers, according to an administration official who described it yesterday, outlined three scenarios over the next 18 months: a period of "tenuous stability," a time of "further fragmentation and extremism" or a period of "trending to civil war."

So the CIA was "just guessing" what conditions could be like?

Do you think that Dubya's opposition to the intelligence agency -- heck, to all intelligence -- might be part of his long-standing rejection of his father?

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Presidential Words

John Kerry Speech at New York University

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn’t part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.

Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were… and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared “we are all Americans now.� But through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the Vice President claimed, “reconstituted nuclear weapons.�

The President’s policy in Iraq took our attention and resources away from other, more serious threats to America.

Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under this President’s watch…

… The emerging nuclear danger from Iran…

… The tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in Russia…

… And the increasing instability in Afghanistan.

Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for those responsible for September 11th in order invade Iraq.

We know Iraq played no part in September 11 and had no operational ties to Al Qaeda.

The President's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is, and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United States.

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September 20, 2004

Rumsfeld: We're not as bad as the terrorists!

Matthew Yglesias agrees with matthew: Don Rumsfeld, who claims: "I'm Not As Bad As a Terrorist"

The Republican Party takes another dive into the pit of moral relativism:
Amid allegations he fostered a climate that led to the prison abuse scandal, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that the military's mistreatment of detainees was not as bad as what terrorists have done.

"Does it rank up there with chopping someone's head off on television?" he asked. "It doesn't."

And, yes, I am happy to concede that Donald Rumsfeld is morally superior to, say, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. By the same token, George W. Bush is morally superior to both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Interestingly, though, neither Hussain nor bin Laden will be on the ballot in November.

Posted by yudel at 8:14 AM

Fight pesky constitutional rights. Vote for Bush!

TalkLeft: Bush Appointees Most Conservative Judges Ever

A study of thousands of federal court cases has found that judges appointed by President Bush are the most conservative on record in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties.

The study's authors say the re-election of Bush would give U.S. courts a strong rightward tilt that could last for years

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September 19, 2004

What a waste it is to waste one's allies

As Matthew Y. explains, Once Bitten, Twice Shy:

A little while back, Laura Rozen took a break from her regularly scheduled neocon-bashing to express consternation over European fecklessness with regard to the Iranian nuclear program.

Feckless our European friends may be, but who can really blame them?

Has anyone done themselves any favors over the past four years by working with George W. Bush or by putting their faith in the Bush administration's intelligence estimates? Of course not. Everyone -- from Ted Kennedy on NCLB, to the Senate Democrats who cooperated on the Medicare bill, to Tony Blair and the other "liberal hawks" on Iraq, to the men and women who've volunteered to serve in the United States military -- who's acted with anything other than maximal distrust of the Bush administration has gotten screwed. Royally.

Some people have lost their lives.

Jos Maria Aznar lost his job, and John Howard may lose his. Colin Powell lost his reputation. Many of us have merely suffered shame and embarassment.

But virtually no one is better off than they would have been had they just steered clear.

The only exceptions are cold, calculating, ruthless men -- Vladimir Putin, Ariel Sharon, Hu Jintao, Ahmed Chalabi, Iyad Allawi -- who've managed to play Bush rather than getting played.

One can't expect any reasonable people anywhere to cooperate in good faith with the United States government over the next four years if the president is re-elected and that's just the way it is.

If I were a foreign minister somewhere and Colin Powell headed for my door, I'd run. Fast.

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The president would have you believe....

The New York Times > Opinion > Presidential Qualities and Military Records (5 Letters)

According to the White House, we're supposed to ignore the fact that George W. Bush pulled strings to get into the Texas Air National Guard, more strings to transfer to Alabama (where he may or may not have reported for duty) and still more to get out early.

Instead, we should simply accept Mr. Bush's honorable discharge (and dental records) as proof that he fulfilled his service commitment.

On the other hand, we're supposed to think that the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts awarded to John Kerry by the Navy are suspect and undeserved.

I'm going with the Navy on this one.

Dale A. Carlson
San Francisco, Sept. 9, 2004

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Cheney's money or my life? No contest for W!

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: September 19: Today's Reason Not to Elect George W. Bush

"On Homeland Security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The one billion dollar cost would have been paid for by reducing the tax cut of 200,000 millionaires by five thousand dollars each. Almost all 200,000 of us would have been glad to pay 5,000 dollars to make the nearly 300 million Americans saferbut the measure failed because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House decided my tax cut was more important- If you agree with that choice, re-elect them. If not, give John Kerry and John Edwards a chance."

- Bill Clinton, July 26, 2004

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September 5, 2004

What profiteth America if it loses a Ba'athist dictatorship, but gains two new Muslim fundamentalist states?

The New York Times:One by One, Iraqi Cities Become No-Go Zones
In the heart of the area called the Sunni Triangle, Samarra is the most recent place where the American military has decided that pulling out and standing back may be the better part of valor, even if insurgents take over.

In Iraq, the list of places from which American soldiers have either withdrawn or decided to visit only rarely is growing: Falluja, where a Taliban-like regime has imposed a rigid theocracy; Ramadi, where the Sunni insurgents appear to have the run of the city; and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to the south, where the Americans agreed last month to keep their distance from the sacred shrines of Ali and Hussein.

The calls are rising for the Americans to pull out of even more areas, notably Sadr City, the sprawling neighborhood in eastern Baghdad that is the main base for the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. There, leaders of his Mahdi Army are demanding that American soldiers, except those sent in to do reconstruction work, get out.

Who did you say is winning the war on terror?
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Republicans to New York: Drop Dead

Shoulda posted this a week or two ago, but now, with the image of the Republicans standing before the Madison Square Garden Crucifix still fresh in our retinas, a partial listing of what Republicans really think about "Jew York City," courtesy of David Sirota.
WHITE HOUSE ATTACKS NYC AS 'MONEY GRUBBING': New Yorkers "treat [post-9/11 reconstruction funding] as a little money-grubbing game." - White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels, 2/4/02

GOP ATTACKS NEW YORK AS ANTI-AMERICAN: On 3/13/03 Former GOP Congressman and MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough said "New York City, the city hit hardest by September 11, now takes a big stand against the war with Saddam. Is the Big Apple sending a bad message to our men and women in uniform?...New York City is the latest city to back war as a final result. Is the Big Apple being anti-American?...New York City, hit the hardest on September 11. Now the very same city is working against the president in his showdown with Saddam...But up next, New York City, ground zero in the attack on America. Now that city's not standing by us in the looming attack on Iraq."

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September 3, 2004

Wimp. Coward. No Honor. No Guts. No Loyalty. George W. Bush

Brad DeLong traces the short, tragic arc of Zel Miller. Watch as the former Dixiecrat segregationist is hailed as the Prodigal Son one night, only to be tossed down the memory hole the next:
Senator Zell Miller carries the Bushies' water, and performs his designated role as attack slug. But then he discovers what the Bushies do when the going gets tough: they leave town in a hurry. Loyalty, for them, runs only one way.
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George Waffle Bush on campaign advertising

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: George W. Bush, Wimp-in-Chief

George W. Bush: Face the Nation: March 5, 2000: Bob, there are people spending ads that say nice things about me. There are people spending money on ads that say ugly things about me. That's part of the American--let me finish. That's part of the American process...

George W. Bush: Larry King Live: August 12, 2004: Well, I say they ought to get rid of all those 527s, independent expenditures that have flooded the airwaves. There have been millions of dollars spent up until this point in time. I signed [the McCain-Feingold] law that I thought would get rid of those, and I called on the senator to -- let's just get anybody who feels like they got to run to not do so....

George W. Bush: White House: March 27, 2002: [McCain-Feingold] does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed.... I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment. I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election...

George W. Bush: Face the Nation: March 5, 2000: You know, let me--let me say something to you. People have the right to run ads. They have the right to do what they want to do, under the--under the First Amendment in America...

George W. Bush: Larry King Live: August 12, 2004 : Well, I haven't seen the ad, but what I do condemn is these unregulated, soft-money expenditures by very wealthy people, and they've said some bad things about me. I guess they're saying bad things about him. And what I think we ought to do is not have them on the air. I think there ought to be full disclosure. The campaign funding law I signed I thought was going to get rid of that. But evidently the Federal Election Commission had a different view...

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September 2, 2004

God to Electorate: Get a Clue!

Or so argues Pandagon:
Interesting stat: since the Republican convention arrived in New York, the New York Yankees experienced the worst loss in their history, the Mets haven't won a game, and Florida, which is run by Jeb Bush, is facing down a second hurricane.

Someone here has shut God's ears....

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September 1, 2004

Why George Bush is the Terrorists' Choice

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal publishes excerpts of James Fallows's new Atlantic Article, "The Lost Year"
At the beginning of 2002 the United States still operated in a climate of worldwide sympathy and solidarity. A broad range of allies supported its anti-Taliban efforts in Afghanistan.... President Bush was still being celebrated... fewer than 10,000 U.S. soldiers were deployed overseas as part of the war on terror, and a dozen Americans had died in combat. The United States had not captured Osama bin Laden, but it had routed the Taliban leadership that sheltered him, and seemed to have put al-Qaeda on the run....

I also remember the way 2002 ended.... 200,000 members of the U.S. armed forces were en route to staging areas surrounding Iraq.... [T]he Administration refused to discuss plans for the war's aftermath—or its potential cost. In December the President fired Lawrence Lindsey after Lindsey offered a guess that the total cost might be $100 billion to $200 billion.... Lindsey's controversial estimate held up very well... at striking variance with the pre-war insistence by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz that Iraq's oil money, plus contributions from allies, would minimize the financial burden on Americans....

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August 31, 2004

More on Bush's unwinnable war flip-flop flap

According to Talking Points Memo by Joshua Micah Marshall
We're told that later today the president will be commenting on whether the war between Oceania and East Asia is winnable.
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August 30, 2004

Bush urged to cut social security to pay for tax cuts

Greenspan-Aged Population to Hit Finances is the headline, but come on now. Didn't Greenspan have the same actuarial charts when he was urging the Bush tax cuts?

But Greenspan, like his fellow paleocons, have all along thought Roosevelt a knave -- if not a Jew or a communist -- for implementing social security and the New Deal. So first cut taxes for the rich and now:

"If we have promised more than our economy has the ability to deliver to retirees without unduly diminishing real income gains of workers, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust through other channels."
Posted by yudel at 9:55 PM | TrackBack

Now that the Republican slime machine is in "Jew York"

Joshua Micah Marshall wants to know
Which reporter up here will press House Speaker Denny Hastert on whether he'll be slandering any other US citizens this week, as he did when he suggested, on the basis of no evidence, that financier George Soros is a front for drug cartels?
Of course, the latest Soros smear follows earlier Republican charges that he is an international financier, a Jew and an atheist....
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August 28, 2004

The President's Phony Medals

George W. Bush fought bravely to keep Houston's swimming pools safe from communist bombers, but apparently that wasn't satisfaction enough. This post from Norwegianity points out that our current president has posed wearing medals he didn't earn -- in violation of military protocol and the air force honor code:
A pro-Kerry organisation labelled the President an “impostor� over the photograph, taken in 1970 and discovered in his father's Presidential Library in Houston, Texas.

The ribbon is an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award – which was not awarded to the 111th Fighter Intercept Squadron in which Mr Bush served until 1975, five years after the photograph was taken, according to the group US War Report.

"Why is this fraud important? Because it betrays the Honour Code that every officer learns and carries throughout his or her career," said Walt Starr who investigated the medals for the group.

Posted by yudel at 11:38 PM | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

Why hunt terrorists when you can indict downloaders?

They may not have found Bin Laden. They may not have any recourse except sheer fear to deal with three-year-old rumors of terror attacks. But don't say that Ashcroft's Raiders aren't busy!

Indeed, FBI Sting Targets P2P Operation according to InternetNews.com

The U.S. Department of Justice has targeted a group known as the Underground Network for its first criminal investigation into intellectual property piracy over peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

Instead, the probe is focusing on a specific network of Direct Connect users that requires its more than 7,000 members to make anywhere from 1 to 100 gigabytes of media available for other members.

During a media briefing Wednesday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said "virtually every kind of software, game, movie and music was available for illegal downloading and distribution on these networks, from computer games and music that would cost as much as $18 to $35 dollars if purchased legitimately, to specialized software that has a retail cost in excess of $1,000."

You know, if the war on terror is over, maybe the FBI can help track down stolen cars?
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This is your economy on Bush

From the AP:Ranks of Poverty and Uninsured Rose in 2003, Census Reports
The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.3 million last year, while the ranks of the uninsured swelled by 1.4 million, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.

It was the third straight annual increase for both categories.

But please, if you personally are better off than you were in August 2000, by all means vote Bush.
Posted by yudel at 2:03 PM | TrackBack

August 24, 2004

Bush's no-fly zones

New Media Musings
asks the question: CNN reports that Sen. Edward Kennedy has company on the airline no-fly watch list: Rep. John Lewis, the Democratic congressman from Georgia who marched with Martin Luther King Jr.

Is it concidence that the no-fly list targets two liberal members of Congress who've been critical of the Patriot Act -- but not the likes of Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and co.?

Posted by yudel at 12:15 AM | TrackBack

It's a lie! No, it's a political music video!

It's a lie isn't a dessert topping.

Posted by yudel at 12:13 AM | TrackBack

August 22, 2004

Bush to world: Shoot me down!

David Weiner of Scripting News says:
Bush: "We say to those tyrants who believe they can blackmail America and the free world: 'You fire, we're going to shoot it down.'" Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Okay, let's play it out. Suppose Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader of North Korea, was listening. So he fires a missle at Tokyo and then goes on TV as the missile is launched and says "We fired. Shoot it down." That would be funny except a lot of Japanese would die because we don't have any way to shoot the damned thing down.

Posted by yudel at 5:22 PM | TrackBack

August 19, 2004

Like old times: Feith, Ghorbanifar plot Iranian regime change !?!?

This Is Rumor Control - INTEL ALERT: Iraq Official Confirms Iran Arms Story follows up a piece I linked to last week about possible Iranian involvement in Iraq. Yep, they're finding Iranian weapons.

Now, as a Rabinista I'm partial to concerns about Iran; undercutting Iranian regional dominance and weapons development was a major rationale for Rabin's peace initiatives back in '92.

However, I'd like to see Iran be successfully pushed off the anti-Israel, anti-American path -- even if using outre' tactics as engagement and negotiation -- rather than witness the sort of principled, pompous, loud, clumsy, clubfooted, ultimately ineffective posturing and bloodshed that we've seen of late in the Middle East.

Which is why the following excerpt from the Rumor Control article linked to above is the most chilling:

On August 9, Newsday's Knut Royce reported that Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, met with Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar for the ostensible purpose of antagonizing Iran "so that they get frustrated and then by their reactions harden U.S. policy against them." Feith refused to comment on the meetings. Royce reported that the meetings were not authorized by the White House. Even so, a Pentagon official said that the purpose of the meetings was to bring about "a change of government in Iran." The report received "a lot of attention in Tehran," an intelligence official who served in that country claims.
Look: I'd like to think that Feith knows what he's doing. I'd like to think that Republican operatives know how to deal with Ghorbanifar. It's just that I don't like to ignore all the evidence of past failures and foreign policy fubars.
Posted by yudel at 10:35 AM | TrackBack

August 15, 2004

Let's share the risks

More about economic insecurity. The bottom line:
Conservatives say free markets create more winners than losers.

They say helping the losers is a better way of addressing insecurity than restricting the freedom that begets it.

It's time voters demand that they put their money where their mouths are.

Posted by yudel at 11:03 PM | TrackBack

August 12, 2004

Income Insecurity, or, shifting the risk from corporations to you!

Kevin Drum cites Mark Schmitt citing Jacob Hacker, to explain why we feel worse off than four -- or forty -- years ago:
So why does the economy feel so much worse to so many people? Hacker believes that one of the big reasons is that life has become so much more risky. People are a lot closer to the edge, closer to a single catastrophe that can wipe them out, than they were three decades ago.

This has a chilling effect even if nothing ever happens to you. Almost everyone who's not already well off these days knows someone who's been ruined by a personal catastrophe, and this personal knowledge rubs off. You're worried that you could get laid off at any time -- and not be able to find a job for months or years. You're worred that a sudden healthcare crisis could devastate you. You're worried that your pension fund or your 401(k) might not be there when you retire because you made bad investment choices.

FDR dedicated the New Deal to "freedom from fear." He believed that government's role was not to provide handouts to the poor, but to provide a certain minimum level of security against the everyday catastrophes that ruin people's lives.

It is this minimum level of economic security that George Bush and modern movement conservatives want to abolish. In fact, it's the point of Bush's "ownership society": if everyone owns their own Social Security account, owns their own healthcare account, and owns their own college accounts, then the government no longer provides security against disaster. If you make a mistake, or if the market makes a mistake, you're screwed.

Read it all and follow the links. This is an important story.
Posted by yudel at 6:55 PM

The price of Bush-league economics

Yahoo! News - Federal Deficit Hits Record $395.8B


With two months still to go in the government's budget year, the federal deficit has hit a record $395.8 billion.
Read Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neil's book for more info.

Posted by yudel at 3:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nicholas Kristoff Doesn't Understand Why Bush Isn't Preventing a Times Square Hiroshima

Timesman Nicholas Kristoff doesn't understand how Bush is fighting the threat of An American Hiroshima:
That is what I find baffling: an utter failure of the political process.

The Bush administration responded aggressively on military fronts after 9/11, and in November 2003, Mr. Bush observed, "The greatest threat of our age is nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists, and the dictators who aid them."

But the White House has insisted on tackling the most peripheral elements of the W.M.D. threat, like Iraq, while largely ignoring the central threat, nuclear proliferation.

The upshot is that the risk that a nuclear explosion will devastate an American city is greater now than it was during the cold war, and it's growing.

Kristoff, who since his office is at Times Square takes threats of a suitcase nuclear bomb personally, is too busy worrying about his own survival odds (he guesses only a 20% chance of being nuked in the next decade) to keep his eye on the Big Picture.

And the Big Picture of the Bush White House -- as every chronicle by a defector has agreed -- is electoral votes.

So I ask you Mr. Kristoff: If, God forbid, a nuke would go off in New York City, or Los Angeles Harbor, or Philadelphia -- how do you think that would impact on the Blue State / Red State calculation?

With, say, half a million fewer downstate voters, don't you think New York would be in play again?

Posted by yudel at 1:37 PM | TrackBack

August 11, 2004

Lock up the books, dear; the Republicans are coming to town

Via Boing Boing, an account of a run-in with a security goon with an overly high sense of personal empowerment:
This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, "Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book."

I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, "have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?": "You need to confiscate... a book."

"Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it."

Read the rest
Posted by yudel at 12:41 PM | TrackBack

August 9, 2004

Bush jettisons another intelligence asset

One night when we were trying to accustom our two-year old to sleeping in his crib, he stood, held up his bottle of milk, and declared: "Let me out or I'll pour milk in my ear!"

This fine baby memory is brought to mind by the latest antics of our boy king, whose administration has yet again let slip the name of an intelligence asset. As Bill Mon. at the Whiskey Bar concludes his summary:

So in order to alarm the public about a four-year-old potential al-Qaeda plot (and, in the process, polish up Dear Leader's anti-terrorism credentials) it appears the administration knowingly endangered an on-going intelligence operation aimed at capturing a senior al-Qaeda operative and his entire cell.

And, as previously noted, all of this just by chance happened on the weekend after the Democratic convention - at a time when the Bush-Cheney campaign was determined to squash any Kerry "bounce" in the polls.

Duly noted is the claim by Bush supporters that the president "had to do it" since his critics weren't taking his latest intelligence claims seriously....
Posted by yudel at 8:50 PM

August 6, 2004

Kerry Kids Bush's Goat

George and Karl promise ridicule, but John Kerry delivers: (MSNBC)
"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear that America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely that the president of the United States has something that he needs to attend to," Kerry said.

Kerry also ridiculed President Bush's claim that the nation has 'turned a corner'; in an era marked by terrorism and economic recession.

"Just saying that you've turned a corner doesn't make it so. Just like saying there are weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq) doesn't make it so. Just like saying you can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. Just like saying "mission accomplished" doesn't make it so," Kerry said.

"The last president who used that slogan, who told us that prosperity was just around the corner, was Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression,"; he said.

I don't get what the fuss is about. Why shouldn't Dubya steal Herbert Hoover's campaign slogan? He's already stolen the employment policy (first president since Hoover to lose jobs on his watch) and his racial policy (first president since Hoover not to meet with the NAACP).

And why blame Georgie for dawdling while America was under attack? It's not like Dick Cheney was going to ask his advice anyway.....

Posted by yudel at 3:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

July Surprise is no surprise!

From The New Republic Online:
This afternoon, Pakistan's interior minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, announced that Pakistani forces had captured Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian Al Qaeda operative wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The timing of this announcement should be of particular interest to readers of The New Republic.

Earlier this month, John B. Judis, Spencer Ackerman, and Massoud Ansari broke the story of how the Bush administration was pressuring Pakistani officials to apprehend high-value targets (HVTs) in time for the November elections--and in particular, to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.

Although the capture took place in central Pakistan "a few days back," the announcement came just hours before John Kerry will give his acceptance speech in Boston.

How cyncical is the Bush-Cheney-Rove Administration? Read July Surprise? and find out!
Posted by yudel at 5:38 PM

President makes time for friends while on vacation

From Wednesday's press briefing in Crawford, Texas (via White House Gaggle by Trent Duffy - Talk Radio News Service)
I have one international call to read out to you. The President today spoke with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for roughly 10 minutes. The President thanked the Crown Prince for meeting with Secretary Powell today, and the two of them discussed the situation in Iraq and Saudi Arabia's efforts to fight terrorism on its own soil.
Posted by yudel at 1:24 PM | TrackBack

July 7, 2004

Memories of the Ford Administration

You love Rummy and Cheney, but does Bush have another Ford-era skeleton lurking in his closet? Michael Kinsley recounts the fiscal legacy of Dubya:
The plan was: a $400 billion federal budget surplus this year and a national debt of $2.1 trillion heading rapidly to zero. That was the plan back in January 2001, when President Bush took office.

And not just the plan: That was the official prediction of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Now we have a new plan. Instead of a $400 billion surplus, President Bush's budget calls for a $500 billion deficit. The national debt is $4.4 trillion and headed to more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the CBO.

Interest on that debt will cost $156 billion this year.

Bush says he'll cut the deficit in half in four years. The deficit, not the debt. It's a remarkably modest brag. And even so, almost nobody believes him.

So what to do? Well, if Bush wins in November, dust off your WIN buttons, because inflation is coming down the pike....
Posted by yudel at 7:16 PM | TrackBack

July 1, 2004

In wake of Reagan fever, will Bush to dump Cheney?

Vice President Cheney replaced on the ticket with Zombie Reagan!
Posted by yudel at 10:12 AM | TrackBack

June 27, 2004

Iraqi strongman had political commisars monitor scientists

Not satisfied with authorizing torture and declaring himself above international agreements his country ratified, the supreme leader of Iraq insisted that his government's scientists must be vetted for political loyalty before participating in international meetings.

Unfortunately, this took place in 2004, at which time the leader of "free" Iraq was George W. Bush.

From the LA Times, via The Washington Monthly:

The Bush administration has ordered that government scientists must be approved by a senior political appointee before they can participate in meetings convened by the World Health Organization, the leading international health and science agency.

Is it possible that Dubya went native when his father was posted to Communist China?

Posted by yudel at 9:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2004

What's your mileage?

The Union of Concerned Scientists are organizing a Fuel Economy Citizen Survey. How many miles are you really getting per gallon?

Posted by yudel at 1:53 PM

June 10, 2004

Blood on our hands

Don't let this week's warm fuzzy memories of the Reagan era, with the massacres of nuns and peasants, distract from the present glory that is America. Josh Marshall in The Hill concludes:
Isn't it about time that we just come clean with ourselves and admit that those half-dozen reservists really probably were just following orders?
And Brad deLong proffers a report of a recent speecy by Seymour Hersh in which Hersh
said he had seen all the Abu Ghraib pictures. He said, 'You haven't begun to see evil...' then trailed off. He said, 'horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.' He looked frightened.
Posted by yudel at 2:14 PM | TrackBack

June 7, 2004

The best government money can buy

From the Washington Post: Pioneers Fill War Chest, Then Capitalize (washingtonpost.com)
The Pioneers have evolved from an initial group of family, friends and associates willing to bet on putting another Bush in the White House into an extraordinarily organized and disciplined machine. It is now twice as big as it was in 2000 and fueled by the desire of corporate CEOs, Wall Street financial leaders, Washington lobbyists and Republican officials to outdo each other in demonstrating their support for Bush and his administration's pro-business policies.

"This is the most impressive, organized, focused and disciplined fundraising operation I have ever been involved in," declared Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, who has been raising money for GOP candidates since 1980. "They have done just about everything right."

Posted by yudel at 2:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 2, 2004

Iraq: The late '70s rerun

Bill M. at the Whiskey Bar compares the new Iraqi government to a classic Saturday Night Live routine:

MR HANDS: Is it OK if my friend Sluggo stays here in Iraq with you, Mr. Bill?

MR BILL: Ooo, I don't know Mr. Hands. That Sluggo sure can be mean.

MR HANDS: Thanks Mr. Bill. I knew you'd agree!

Posted by yudel at 9:30 PM | TrackBack

June 1, 2004

Bush policies pave way for future boom!

Business is booming in the mining zone that supplied uranium for the atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki despite a decree by Congo's president banning all mining activity here.
--Miners Drawn to Illegal Congo Uranium (AP)
Posted by yudel at 5:36 PM | TrackBack

Saddam's handgun and the criminal leader

The aptly-named rude pundit asks: Exactly how may laws, federal and D.C., might the President be breaking with his possession of that firearm? More than one, it turns out.
Posted by yudel at 5:17 PM

May 31, 2004

When do workers get their share?

The Economic Policy Institute graphs how the recover affected labor and capital. Guess who came in ahead?
Despite recent good news on employment growth, the current economic recovery, now approaching its third year, remains the most unbalanced on record in respect to the distribution of income gains between corporate profits and labor compensation. Essentially, rapid gains in productivity have been translating into higher corporate profits without increasing the wage and salary income of American workers.
Posted by yudel at 12:01 AM | TrackBack

May 30, 2004

Vote Bush: Maybe this term he'll figure it out!

Joshua Micah Marshall summarizes:
The president now argues that he is best equipped to guard the country from the full brunt of the consequences of his own misguided actions, managerial incompetence and dishonesty.
Posted by yudel at 9:14 PM | TrackBack

Pin the responsibility on the elephant

Who is responsible for the Iraq situation? MaxSpeak explains: MaxSpeak, You Listen!: DER DOLCHSTOSS, CONT'D

We are progressing from Fifth Column rhetoric to scapegoating. The latter is designed for recriminations, after the war is over and lost. The former was aimed at amplifying the case for war by enraging the public against a non-existent internal enemy (i.e., Sean Penn, Michael Moore) and intimidating potential critics of the war.

Matt Yglesias pins the tail on the jackass, aptly likening scapegoat rhetoric to Nazi "stab in the back" talk after World War I....

...The logic of the scapegoat discourse crumbles at the touch. If political skepticism is sapping the war effort, it can only be because our Republican leadership is putting their own political interests before the nation's, by refusing to persist in a feasible, albeit unpopular course of action. In this case, isn't it obvious that those leaders bear primary responsibility for abandoning a difficult but winnable struggle?

On the other hand, if the course of action is not winnable, how can it be against the national interest to point this out and react to it at the earliest opportunity by cutting our losses? (See the ticker above.) To the contrary, there could be nothing worse than persisting in a lost cause (cf. Christmas bombing, war in Vietnam) for the sake of crass political considerations.

The simple truth is that, with control of all three branches of government, the responsibility for either a) launching an unwinnable project for "liberation," or b) abandoning a doable project is the sole responsibility of the Republican Party and its leadership.

Posted by yudel at 9:04 PM | TrackBack

The anti-Bush online adventure

Have you ever longed to see Howard Dean shoot down the tax-evading millionaire heiress? Ever wanted to move Mr. T across two decades of deficit figures? BUSHGAME.COM - THE ANTI-BUSH ONLINE ADVENTURE provides hours of educational, shoot-it-up, irreverant, alas-not-appropriate-for-children anti-Bush fun.
Posted by yudel at 4:18 PM

The hunt for red-state November just got tougher

The New Republic notes the implications of Tom Clancy as the co-author of General Anthony Zinni's recent entry in the library of disappointed Republican memoirs:
When Ph.D. candidates of the future write the literary history of the Bush presidency, the day that a Republican administration became the bad guy in a Tom Clancy book will surely stand out as a cultural Rubicon crossed.
Posted by yudel at 12:36 AM | TrackBack

May 23, 2004

In Bush's fall, we spin all

So Bush falls off his bicycle. Is this an attempt to co-opt Bartlett's first West Wing episode, and appear presidential for a change?

Is it an ironic comment on his recent statement that Iraq would soon be ready to "take off the training wheels" when it came to self-government?

Or is it another opportunity for the administration, having failed to spin the wheels, to lie about them?

Daily Kos reports; you decide.

Posted by yudel at 9:24 PM

May 20, 2004

Fool by choice

In The Misunderestimated Man - How Bush chose stupidity, Slate's Jacob Weisberg comes up with a read-worthy grand context for the "Bushisms" he has been collecting for the past four years. This excerpt doesn't do the whole justice:
The most obvious expression of Bush's choice of ignorance is that, at the age of 57, he knows nothing about policy or history. After years of working as his dad's spear-chucker in Washington, he didn't understand the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, the second- and third-largest federal programs. Well into his plans for invading Iraq, Bush still couldn't get down the distinction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the key religious divide in a country he was about to occupy. Though he sometimes carries books for show, he either does not read them or doesn't absorb anything from them. Bush's ignorance is so transparent that many of his intimates do not bother to dispute it even in public.

As the president says, we misunderestimate him. He was not born stupid. He chose stupidity. Bush may look like a well-meaning dolt. On consideration, he's something far more dangerous: a dedicated fool.

Do what the President won't, and read the whole article.
Posted by yudel at 8:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Long time gone

Counterspin Central suggests the following survey:
"Compared to 4 years ago we as a nation are __________"
A. Better off.
B. Worse off
C. Pissed off.
D. Fucked.
Posted by yudel at 3:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2004

Running like a liberal....

It's not fair to say that Bush never takes responsibility. From the New York Times comes a heart-burning story of responsibility claimed, albeit not earned,as White House Trumpets Programs It Tried to Cut:
For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.

The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination. Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance. Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.

The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million.
Posted by yudel at 11:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If Bush is pro-life, why is he making death tax-exempt?

The Gadflyer explains how to talk to Republicans about taxes:
If there has been one principle guiding Bush's tax policies, it's that work should be taxed, but wealth shouldn't. That's why Bush has worked to eliminate taxes on inheritances, stock dividends, and capital gains, but never considered cutting payroll taxes -- a tax on work.

So ask your conservative friend: shouldn't the tax system offer incentives for people to work harder, instead of waiting around for their stocks to give them dividends or their millionaire grandfather to die?
Posted by yudel at 9:22 PM | TrackBack

Bush's Responsiblity Era meets Abu Ghraib

Slate's Timoth Noah predicted that "right-wing culture warriors would soon be blaming the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on the depravities of the 1960s." Sure enough, he catalogs the ways that Bush apologists deflect responsiblity once again, and instead choose to blame:

Even if the right sincerely believes that they are victims of all these outside forces, shouldn't they by now be expected to know about these insidious forces, and plan accordingly?

Posted by yudel at 12:54 PM | TrackBack

May 18, 2004

Evil Empire

NYTimes: Officer Says Army Tried to Curb Red Cross Visits to Prison in Iraq
Army officials in Iraq responded late last year to a Red Cross report of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison by trying to curtail the international agency's spot inspections of the prison, a senior Army officer who served in Iraq said Monday.

Guess it's a good thing our new ambassador to Iraq has experience in covering up American-funded massacres in Guatemala....

Posted by yudel at 9:45 PM | TrackBack

May 17, 2004

Bush's Uncle Is Executive At Bank Fined for Lax Oversight of Saudi Money

Here's the latest from the the family of Mr. I'm-So-Tough-On-Terror-I'll-Prevent- Any-Attack-For-Which-I-Have-Fair-Warning, another sleezy tale of petrodollars laundered, eyes averted, and Bush dollars bundled.

David Sirota pieces together the story from The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Posted by yudel at 8:48 PM | TrackBack

May 16, 2004

The evil of the banal

Read Semour Hersh's latest, The Gray Zone, for yourself.
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of lite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror.
Oh, and if you're worried whether the Pentagon's denials should be taken seriously, Discourse.net has a very careful parsing of the denial... or should we say, the non-denial denial?
Posted by yudel at 9:47 PM

May 14, 2004

Our Mr. Magoo-In-Chief at the morning papers

Joshua Marshall reads the latest Washington Times profile on the President closely, and finds the secret to the Bush Administration.:
At least from his self-presentation, the president seems to see his news reading largely, if not entirely, as an exercise in detecting liberal media bias. That, and he seems to see shielding himself from opposing viewpoints as a key to maintaining what he calls a "clear outlook" and what [author] Sammon refers to as being an "optimistic leader".

I guess we can all relate to this, can't we?

How 'frustrating' it is to have to listen to "somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterization, which simply isn't true" (i.e., information that contradicts our assumptions and viewpoints)?

It (i.e., critical thinking) really gets in the way of having a "clear outlook", right?

Now, certainly no one is perfect when it comes to subjecting and then resubjecting their viewpoints to fresh facts or challenging their assumptions with intelligently stated contrary views. I can't claim to be. But it's one thing to fall short of the mark and another to work out a system of self-rationalization and denial to ensure you come nowhere near the mark. And this is it in spades.

He doesn't even need the yes-men who "extract" the "facts" from the news articles. He's his own built-in yes-man.

How could we have ignored so many warnings, so much expert advice, so many facts staring us in the face? The president just gave you the answer.

Just for emphasis (and in the hope that casual readers will misattribute Marshall's insight to me), I'm going to repeat Marshall's conclusions about Bush:

How could we have ignored so many warnings, so much expert advice, so many facts staring us in the face? The president just gave you the answer.

Posted by yudel at 8:50 AM

May 13, 2004

What the ACLU wasn't supposted to tell you about the Patriot Act

According to this Washington Post article, ACLU Was Forced to Revise Release on Patriot Act Suit (washingtonpost.com), here's the paragraph the feds didn't want you to read:
"The provision under challenge allows an FBI agent to write a letter demanding the disclosure of the name, screen names, addresses, e-mail header information, and other sensitive information held by 'electronic communication service providers.'"
Bottom line: They don't need any warrant to lookup the information at your ISP.

So here's what's been oddly lost amidst the brouhaha over Google's new Gmail service automatically putting ads in their email service: Once the data is resting permanently on Google's hard drives, will the government need anything more than an FBI letter to start rummaging around through all sorts of data-mining techniques?

Remember: According to the Bush Doctrine, you don't have to be guilty to be locked away forever; you just need to be a suspect.

Posted by yudel at 6:13 PM

May 12, 2004

Isn't it a crime to lie to federal officials?

Daily Kos points out the following concerning the recent Supreme Court arguments where the Bush Administration defended its claimed right to arrest you and me indefinitely without trial:
Asked about checks on torturing prisoners, Bush's lawyer answered that the government "would honor its obligations under the 'convention to prohibit torture and that sort of thing.'" And the Bush Administration already knew about the Abu Ghraib torture incidents.

Another Bush administration lie, this time to the Supreme Court.

Posted by yudel at 1:16 PM

Daily Kos on Nicholas Berg

Daily Kos explains the Berg murder to us:
So what does the Berg murder tell us? That the prison torture scandal led to the killing? Not even close. Terrorists (and al-Zarqawi is undoubtedly one) don't need such excuses to do their dirty work.

The lesson is that not finishing the job in Afghanistan and invading Iraq with no good rationale gave Al Qaida and similar groups time to catch their breath, reorganize, and direct their efforts against a conveniently near target -- Iraq. This is the neocon "flypaper" theory in all its glory. It's working. The neocons WANTED it this way.

And they got it. Congratulations.

And in the process, the killing of thousands of innocent men, women and children by errant American bombs, artillery shells, mortars, and bullets have swelled the recruiting offices of every militia and terrorist organization in the Mideast, in and out of Iraq. Congrats with that as well. You can't have flypaper if you don't have an enemy shooting at you. So we energized our existing enemies and gave rise to new ones who didn't seem to understand that "collateral damage" is acceptable in war.

And the abuse of Iraqi prisoners -- up to 90 percent of which could be innocent according to the Red Cross -- just added fuel to the fire.

So no, the prison abuse didn't cause Berg's horrific murder. Bush's (inept) War, in all its glory, did. The Neocon agenda, in all its folly, did. The war cheerleaders now trying to use this for propaganda purposes, in all their idiocy, did.

Congrats. Your war spirals ever out of control. Good luck trying to wash the blood out of your hands.

Posted by yudel at 11:50 AM

May 6, 2004

Bremer Warned of Terrorism Threat 6 Months Before 9/11

From Reuters.com


The head of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, Paul Bremer, warned six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that the Bush administration seemed to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism and appeared to "stagger along" on the issue.


Bremer, who in 1999 chaired a national commission on terrorism, gave a speech on Feb. 26, 2001, in which he said the "general terrorist threat" was increasing.


"The new administration seems to be paying no attention to the problem of terrorism," Bremer said in remarks to the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation.


"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this?"'


As par for the course, Bremer disavowed his three-year-old statement the next day. Something about "had I received a warning that I would get a horse head in my bed, I never would have said this."

Posted by yudel at 5:21 PM

JJ Goldberg Blasts Jewish Leaders on Iraq

Today's Forward editorial:
Jewish community leaders need not issue any apologies for taking the administration at its word on the immediacy of Saddam's threat. But, having done so, they should now be leading the push for an investigation into why America's pre-war intelligence was so flawed and whether the country was misled by a White House bent on war. They should be encouraging a national debate over whether the war has hurt or helped the war against Al Qaeda. And, finally, as reports of poor planning, cronyism and prisoner abuse in Iraq mount, Jewish leaders have an obligation to call for an accounting from the administration. They took a stand a year ago. They owe it to their constituency to speak out now.

The Jewish communal leadership has a credibility on the national and world stage because of its presumed moral stature as the voice of a community of conscience. Its silence now represents a betrayal of that trust.

Posted by yudel at 1:36 PM

May 5, 2004

More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden

If the Bush Administration thought terror was a crisis rather than an opportunity, wouldn't they try to stop it?


The Treasury Department (news - web sites) agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money, documents show.

Posted by yudel at 8:54 PM

January 14, 2003

How do you worsen a problem like Korea?

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall January 13, 2003 09:08 AM watches the Bush Administration mess up North Korea
What I am saying is, first, that the administration has spent the last two years pursuing a confused, provocative, and counterproductive policy which played a significant role in fomenting this crisis and, possibly, complicating a potential solution. Secondly, one has to question the timing of seeking a showdown over the North Koreans' uranium-enrichment program just as the US is girding itself for a major regional war on the other side of the globe.

If we had just found out about it, then perhaps it's pressing enough to bring it up right now even though it complicates the Iraq situation and threatens to leave us awkwardly overextended. Perhaps.

But if the administration had been sitting on the information for almost two years, what possible rationale could there be for choosing this moment to blow the whistle? What other explanation beside incompetence?

Posted by yudel at 9:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack