Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Think Progress: Deconstructing the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”

Think Progress: Deconstructing the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq”: "After two-and-a-half years and 2,110 U.S. troop fatalities, the Bush administration released what it calls a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” (NSVI). The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use.” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course.”"

NYTimes: Dowd is back

Her column on the VP would be funny if not so true: "Vice is fed up with all the whining and carping - and that's just inside the White House. The only negativity in Washington is supposed to be his own. He's the only one allowed to scowl and grumble and conspire.

The impertinent Tom DeFrank reported in New York's Daily News that embattled White House aides felt 'President Bush must take the reins personally' to save his presidency.

Let him try, Cheney said with a sneer. Things are nowhere near dire enough for that. Even if Junior somehow managed to grab the reins to his presidency, Vice holds Junior's reins. So he just needs to get all these sniveling, poll-driven wimps and losers back on board with the master plan.

Things had been going so smoothly. The global torture franchise was up and running. Halliburton contracts were flowing. Tax cuts were sailing through. Oil companies were raking it in. Alaska drilling was thrillingly close. The courts were defending his executive privilege on energy policy, and people were still buying all that smoke about Saddam's being responsible for 9/11, and that drivel about how we're fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here. Everything was groovy.

But not anymore. Cheney could not believe that Karl had made him go out and call that loudmouth Jack Murtha a patriot. He was sure the Pentagon generals had put the congressman up to calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Is the military brass getting in touch with its pacifist side? In Wyoming, Vice shoots doves."

Dependable Renegade: Pix of the day

Dependable Renegade is one of my favorite daily stops, as I've noted before. Check out the great pictures for today, hilariously captioned.

Daily Kos: Pastor calls Evangelical leader "insulting and hurtful"

EPluribus Media has a great diary on DKos about the hard right Christian political action group in Ohio: "Emboldened by 2004 election results that favored many conservative Christian candidates, the Reverend Rod Parsley, senior pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, will be “Silent No More” about what he considers to be the victimization and suppression of evangelical Christians by laws that stifle their expressions of faith. Parsley is working with Pastor Russell Johnson and 900 other pastors to form a powerful religious-political coalition called the Ohio Restoration Project (ORP). They aim to establish a team of 2000 “Patriot Pastors” to guide their congregations in support of conservative Christian candidates, who will presumably move the Ohio legislature toward a legislative agenda based more on biblical text than on constitutional law. Toward that end, the ORP is diligently working to get one of its strongest proponents, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, elected governor. But Parsley’s call to action has led other religious leaders in Ohio to speak out against the efforts of the ORP.

“I know I’m not the only pastor that feels this way — the real silent folks are people of faith who are stunned by the direction this country has taken,” said the Reverend Doctor John C. Lentz Jr., pastor of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. “The Ohio Restoration Project is dismissive of non-Christians and of the poor. It’s incredibly hurtful, and I find it insulting to my faith. Parsley’s interpretation of what is moral and correct is just that — an interpretation. The danger is when they say it is the Truth, with a capital T. Then you end up with a narrow definition. Combine that with rampant nationalism like the religious right is trying to do, and you get exactly what the Taliban does with the Koran.”"

Good for Dr. Lentz!

O'Reilly has lost it

Bill O'Reilly is a paranoid crackpot! Here's what he's posted on his website. I happened to catch a promo for his show on Fox News that actually had clips of him freaking out with guests, saying, in one case, "I'll throw you off this set!" as if that demonstrates good journalism! Incredible. No spin zone? He's in the twilight zone. Crazy, man.

Anyway, here's his official announcement:

"The following media operations have regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites:
- New York Daily News
- The St. Petersburg Times
These are the worst offenders. In the months to come, we expect to add more names to this list. We recommend that you do not patronize these operations and that advertisers do the same. They are dishonest and not worth your time and money."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005 Religion of Comic Book Characters

Huh, I always wondered....The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters: "Superheroes:
* Batman (Bruce Wayne) - Catholic
* Superman (Clark Kent/Kal-El) - raised Protestant (in some versions prior to 1986, he worshipped Kryptonian god Rao, which was explicitly addressed beginning in mid-1980s)
* Spider-Man (Peter Parker) - Protestant
* Wonder Woman (Princess Diana aka Diana Prince) - Greco-Roman classical religion
* Captain Marvel (Billy Batson, published by Fawcett, then DC) - Greco-Roman classical religion
* Daredevil (Matt Murdock) - Catholic
* Captain America (Steve Rogers) - Protestant
* Elektra (Elektra Natchios) - Greek Orthodox (clearly depicted at the funeral of her father in the 2004 movie; according to some sources she is depicted as Catholic in the comics)
* Wolverine (Logan, of the X-Men) - atheist
* The Punisher (Frank Castle) - Catholic (former Catholic seminary student)
* Robin/Nightwing (Dick Grayson) - Christianity (practicing, but specific denomination not unclear; Nightwing comics have shown both Catholic and Evangelical Protestant books, music) "

There's more!

NYTimes: Is the U.S. training thugs?

Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings - New York Times: "As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.


Many of the claims of killings and abductions have been substantiated by at least one human rights organization working here - which asked not to be identified because of safety concerns - and documented by Sunni leaders working in their communities.

American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge."

Monday, November 28, 2005

NYTimes: Stunning admission of guilt by Duke

Congressman Resigns After Admitting He Took Bribes - New York Times: "Mr. Cunningham, 63, made a brief and tearful announcement to a group of reporters outside a federal courthouse in San Diego after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. He admitted to taking money from a military contractor in exchange for his supporting the contractor's efforts to secure Defense Department contracts. The eight-term Republican congressman, one of the most highly decorated fighter pilots of the Vietnam War, also pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

'The truth is I broke the law,' Mr. Cunningham, and 'disgraced my family.'

'I forfeited my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions,' and, he added, his voice breaking, 'most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.'

'I can't undo what I have done but I can atone,' he told reporters.

Sentencing was set for Feb. 27. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a six-figure fine."

UPDATE: Kos puts it well, "DeLay, Conrad Burns, and the rest of the corrupt Republican cabal would be well served by reading this and taking it to heart."

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Plame Gossip UPdate

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Plame Gossip - testimony from conversations in 2004? Check out another excellent update from Mike, especially the news that Rove is still under the microscope.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Scottie is upset with Biden for revealing "White House Plan" for Iraq

Born at the Crest of the Empire has the story: "Oh, this is just beautiful. Scott McClellan issued a statement thanking Joe Biden for stealing the White House's Iraq Plan. Biden had an oped in yesterday's WaPo outlining what seems to be the the majority opinion of Washington what to do and how to get out of Iraq.

Now, today, McClellan issues a 'Setting the Record Straight' press release accusing Biden of stealing the White House plan for exiting Iraq. I think I speak for most Americans when I ask you, Mr. McClellan, what White House Plan are you talking about?

Show me a document were the White House outlines a plan."

WaPo Ohio Scandals May Give Democrats a Lift

Bloggers have covered this scandal well, and now it's getting national attention--just another symptom of apparent GOP corruption from top to bottom: "The scandal began as a curiosity. Tom Noe, a gregarious businessman and Republican Party leader in northwest Ohio, had been entrusted with $50 million in state money to invest in rare coins, with the idea of winning fat returns for the workers' compensation fund.

It seemed an oddity at most, but like a loose thread on a jacket, the more investigators pulled, the more the garment unraveled, revealing members of Ohio's Republican establishment who had been wined, dined and enriched by Noe.

Gov. Bob Taft (R), heir to the state's most famous political name, pleaded no contest in August to accepting secret freebies from Noe and others and was fined $4,000. Members of his staff admitted borrowing money from Noe or using his Florida Keys vacation home. Millions in state funds proved to be missing from Noe's accounts.

As Republicans raced to distance themselves from Noe, a federal grand jury in Toledo indicted him last month on charges that he illegally funneled $45,400 in campaign contributions to President Bush's reelection campaign. Prosecutors said he circumvented the $2,000 limit on individual contributions by getting 24 friends and associates to make the contributions, and reimbursing them."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rich: Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ... Cheney used right adjectives but wrong nouns

Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ... - New York Times: "Much more: each day brings slam-dunk evidence that the doomsday threats marshaled by the administration to sell the war weren't, in Cheney-speak, just dishonest and reprehensible but also corrupt and shameless. The more the president and vice president tell us that their mistakes were merely innocent byproducts of the same bad intelligence seen by everyone else in the world, the more we learn that this was not so. The web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House. The real point of the Bush-Cheney verbal fisticuffs this month, like the earlier campaign to take down Joseph Wilson, is less to smite Democrats than to cover up wrongdoing in the executive branch between 9/11 and shock and awe.

The cover-up is failing, however. No matter how much the president and vice president raise their decibel levels, the truth keeps roaring out. A nearly 7,000-word investigation in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times found that Mr. Bush and his aides had 'issued increasingly dire warnings' about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs long after U.S. intelligence authorities were told by Germany's Federal Intelligence Service that the principal source for these warnings, an Iraqi defector in German custody code-named Curveball, 'never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.' The five senior German intelligence officials who spoke to The Times said they were aghast that such long-discredited misinformation from a suspected fabricator turned up in Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations and in the president's 2003 State of the Union address (where it shared billing with the equally bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium).

Right after the L.A. Times scoop, Murray Waas filled in another piece of the prewar propaganda puzzle. He reported in the nonpartisan National Journal that 10 days after 9/11, 'President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.'

The information was delivered in the President's Daily Brief, a C.I.A. assessment also given to the vice president and other top administration officials. Nonetheless Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney repeatedly pounded in an implicit (and at times specific) link between Saddam and Al Qaeda until Americans even started to believe that the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by Iraqis. More damning still, Mr. Waas finds that the 'few credible reports' of Iraq-Al Qaeda contacts actually involved efforts by Saddam to monitor or infiltrate Islamic terrorist groups, which he regarded as adversaries of his secular regime. Thus Saddam's antipathy to Islamic radicals was the same in 2001 as it had been in 1983, when Donald Rumsfeld, then a Reagan administration emissary, embraced the dictator as a secular fascist ally in the American struggle against the theocratic fascist rulers in Iran.

What these revelations also tell us is that Mr. Bush was wrong when he said in his Veterans Day speech that more than 100 Congressional Democrats who voted for the Iraqi war resolution 'had access to the same intelligence' he did. They didn't have access to the President's Daily Brief that Mr. Waas uncovered. They didn't have access to the information that German intelligence officials spoke about to The Los Angeles Times. Nor did they have access to material from a Defense Intelligence Agency report, released by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan this month, which as early as February 2002 demolished the reliability of another major source that the administration had persistently used for its false claims about Iraqi-Al Qaeda collaboration.

The more we learn about the road to Iraq, the more we realize that it's a losing game to ask what lies the White House told along the way. A simpler question might be: What was not a lie? The situation recalls Mary McCarthy's explanation to Dick Cavett about why she thought Lillian Hellman was a dishonest writer: 'Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' '"

Think Progress : Coulter on Murtha: He Longs “To See U.S. Troops Shot, Humiliated”

Think Progress - Coulter on Murtha: He Longs “To See U.S. Troops Shot, Humiliated”. Oh, if only Coulter could be shot, humiliated.

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Ashcroft now teaches at Pat Robertson's Grad School?

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Ashcroft now teaches at Pat Robertson's Grad School?: "In a moderately funny BBC article pointing out the inanity of Intelligent Design, I came across this:

Mr (Pat)Robertson is an important man: the former Attorney General John Ashcroft teaches at his university, and his views are sought on Supreme Court candidates and foreign affairs.

Did you know this? I sure didn't. But it's true.

What other job could he do?

Brown's New Job: Readiness Consultant: "Former FEMA director Michael D. Brown, criticized over his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster-preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

'If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way,' Brown told the Rocky Mountain News."

This is rich. I bet he gets some government jobs.

This is going to be fun...

Lawmakers Under Scrutiny in Probe of Lobbyist: "The Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.

Prosecutors have already told one lawmaker, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), and his former chief of staff that they are preparing a possible bribery case against them, according to two sources knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The 35 to 40 investigators and prosecutors on the Abramoff case are focused on at least half a dozen members of Congress, lawyers and others close to the probe said. The investigators are looking at payments made by Abramoff and his colleagues to the wives of some lawmakers and at actions taken by senior Capitol Hill aides, some of whom went to work for Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, lawyers and others familiar with the probe said.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R), now facing separate campaign finance charges in his home state of Texas, is one of the members under scrutiny, the sources said. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and other members of Congress involved with Indian affairs, one of Abramoff's key areas of interest, are also said to be among them.

Prosecutions and plea deals have become more likely, the lawyers said, now that Abramoff's former partner -- public relations executive Michael Scanlon -- has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and to testify about gifts that he and his K Street colleagues showered on lawmakers, allegedly in exchange for official favors."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm hitting the road to spend a few days with my folks... y'all take care and have a great Thanksgiving. See you this weekend.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Daily Kos: BREAKING: Bush PDB on 9/21/01: No 9/11 - Iraq Connection

Daily Kos: BREAKING: Bush PDB on 9/21/01: No 9/11 - Iraq Connection: "Bush and Cheney -- as well as Condi Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, and their undersecretaries -- had solid information there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 or Al Qaeda, but have refused to date to share this knowledge, contained in a PDB distributed ten days after 9/11, with members of Congress.

Just in, this breaking news report written by the incomparable REAL Woodward & Bernstein-rolled-into-one of the 21st century, MURRAY WAAS." The Man Who Sold the War The Man Who Sold the War : Politics: "Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war."

Randi Rhodes just cited this eye-opening article in the latest Rolling Stone. Amazing stuff.

DIAL B for BLOG honors JFK assassination anniversary

DIAL B for BLOG: "Today is the 42nd anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, and our subject is a story from Superman #170 titled 'Superman's Mission for President Kennedy.' The story revolves around Superman encouraging the youth of America to join Kennedy’s Presidential Fitness Program."

Check it out. Fascinating.

Drudge finally gives CNN's side of the total non-story of the X


TVNewser: When will Drudge update the X story?

mediabistro: TVNewser: "Eleven hours after CNN explained the technical glitch behind yesterday's Cheney X, Matt Drudge still hasn't posted their side of the story.

So let's get technical: CNN says the 'switcher effects recall' malfunctioned on the Atlanta B Control switcher. 'The switcher was reset by engineering which cleared the problem,' the network adds.

'I'd bet anything it was the key or the fill side to an animation that accidentally hit air,' an e-mailer says. 'Ask them if it was a slate to a key on a Fast Forward machine...I work in TV, that's how we slate our animations so they match up -- one frame of a big X.'

A TVSpyer adds: 'Anyone who's been in TV for 5 minutes knows that the giant X on CNN is a black key frame the technical director uses to set the black level for animated keys and a cue point for animated keys. The X is at 7% black level and the background is at 0%. This is how the TD sets his key and how the tape op knows where to cue the tape. It accidentally went on air. Big deal. No conspiracy, no scandal.'

Meanwhile, Fox & Friends had fun with the gaffe this morning. A segment called 'technical or tactical?' invited phone calls and e-mails. Brian Kilmeade asked: 'So is this how Aaron Brown found out he had to find another job?' "

WaPo Milbank on Cheney

Opening the Door to Debate, and Then Shutting It: "Vice President Cheney protested yesterday that he had been misunderstood when he said last week that critics of the White House over Iraq were 'dishonest and reprehensible.'

What he meant to say, he explained to his former colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, was that those who question the White House's use of prewar intelligence were not only 'dishonest and reprehensible' but also 'corrupt and shameless.'

It was about as close as the vice president gets to a retraction.

President Bush, traveling in China on Sunday, appealed for calm in the acidic debate over Iraq, which reached its low point Friday night when Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), in office little more than 100 days, implied that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a decorated Vietnam veteran, was a coward. Bush said there should be an 'honest, open' discussion about Iraq and 'people should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions' without their patriotism being questioned. 'This is a worthy debate,' he asserted.

Cheney tried to follow his boss's edict. 'I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof,' he said.

But exactly three minutes later, the vice president added this caveat: 'What is not legitimate, and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible, is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president . . . misled the American people on prewar intelligence.' This, he said, 'is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety.'

He floated the notion that 'one might also argue that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort itself' -- before adding: 'I'm unwilling to say that.'


WaPo Dionne: Bring Democracy to Congress

Bring Democracy to Congress: "The past few days have confirmed that our national government is dysfunctional.

It wasn't just the nasty Friday evening 'debate' over Iraq policy in the House, set up by Republican leaders to score political points after Rep. John Murtha's call for immediate withdrawal received so much attention. And it wasn't just Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, deciding to send a constituent's 'message' to Murtha -- a Marine combat veteran with 37 years of active and reserve service -- to the effect that 'cowards cut and run, Marines never do.'

What happened hours earlier, at 1:45 a.m., symbolized all that is wrong with Washington. After immense pressure from Republican leaders, the House passed $50 billion in budget cuts -- including reductions in Medicaid, food stamps and child support enforcement -- on a 217 to 215 vote. Republicans who pride themselves on being moderate had their arms twisted into backing the bill, partly on the basis of promises that many of the cuts it contained wouldn't survive in House-Senate negotiations.

Not a single Democrat was willing to vote for the budget, because there are far better ways to cut the deficit. Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican who dissented from his party, made the case against the budget as well as anyone. 'We should cut the pork,' he told the Washington Times, 'not the poor.'"

WaPo: Cohen gets down to it

Iraq and the 'L' Word: "But well before the war began, it was becoming clear that Saddam Hussein had not a nuclear weapon to his name. The program that United Nations and other inspectors had stumbled on after the Gulf War -- the program that surprised U.S. officials and encouraged them to believe that Hussein could hide anything -- had by then been proved to no longer exist. U.N. inspectors simply could find no evidence of it -- and neither could anyone else. As the prime reason for war, a nuclear weapons program had no basis in fact.

What is both amazing and appalling about Bush is that he seems not to care. The way things look now, he will go down in history as an amiable dunce -- Clark Clifford's scathing and misapplied characterization of Ronald Reagan -- who took his country to war for reasons that did not exist. This is a blunder without peer in American history and possibly an assault on democracy: The people, through their representatives, are supposed to make an informed decision about war. It is incredible to me that Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sex, but nobody -- that's nobody -- in the entire Bush administration has been fired, not to mention impeached, for this shedding of American blood. Cheney, a man of ugly intolerance for dissent, should have been the first to go. His has been a miserable, dishonest performance -- which he continues to this day."

Jimmy Carter in AJC: 'A drastic ... change in the basic values of our country'

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a Q&A with Jimmy Carter, whose new book is selling well. Here's just a sample: "Q: Do the changes in the country's actions reflect a change in the morals or values of the citizens?

A: I don't say that at all, and I don't believe I insinuate that, and I've been very careful in this book not to have any personal references to the president. That's not the point. The point is that under this administration, there's been a drastic and dramatic and unprecedented change in the basic values of our country, and the basic policies of our government. They relate to a wide range of measures of what America is. In the case of peace, we've always had a philosophy in this country — certainly in the last 100 years — that we don't invade another country, we don't attack another people with bombs or bullets or missiles, unless our own security is directly threatened. That was the policy of Ronald Reagan, that was the policy of George Bush senior, that was the policy of Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford, of Democrats and Republicans. Now we have a new, startling policy, in my opinion, of pre-emptive war. Where the president announced publicly, from now on our policy will be, we reserve the right to attack another country ... that's a dramatic change."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Joshua Micah Marshall makes a very good point (as usual)

Talking Points Memo: "This is one of those media questions for which there is no real way to provide a concrete answer. But it is at least worth asking: How many of the stories coming out now under the very broad heading of botched or manipulated intelligence could have been reported and written at more or less any time over the last two years? I suspect the answer is, the great majority of them.

They're getting written now because the president's poor poll numbers make him a readier target.

I know I'm not saying anything most of you don't know. And better late than never, of course. But all working reporters and editors should consider what that says about the profession."

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Plame Gossip - Woodward/Hadley edition

Born at the Crest of the Empire updates us on the continuing leak investigation...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

AMERICAblog: Leader of Reform Judaism decries religious right--Bravo

AMERICAblog: Great story on Rabbi Eric Yoffie's address at the Union for Reform Judaism national assembly.

Eschaton: Bush has no exit strategy (Hilarious)


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Another excellent point by Mr. Rich

Rich's column continues with this spot on paragraph: "One hideous consequence of the White House's Big Lie - fusing the war of choice in Iraq with the war of necessity that began on 9/11 - is that the public, having rejected one, automatically rejects the other. That's already happening. The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll. Thus the tragic bottom line of the Bush catastrophe: the administration has at once increased the ranks of jihadists by turning Iraq into a new training ground and recruitment magnet while at the same time exhausting America's will and resources to confront that expanded threat."

Frank Rich: One War Lost, Another to Go

RIch's latest, and man is he good: "If anyone needs further proof that we are racing for the exits in Iraq, just follow the bouncing ball that is Rick Santorum. A Republican leader in the Senate and a true-blue (or red) Iraq hawk, he has long slobbered over President Bush, much as Ed McMahon did over Johnny Carson. But when Mr. Bush went to Mr. Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania to give his Veterans Day speech smearing the war's critics as unpatriotic, the senator was M.I.A.

Mr. Santorum preferred to honor a previous engagement more than 100 miles away. There he told reporters for the first time that 'maybe some blame' for the war's 'less than optimal' progress belonged to the White House. This change of heart had nothing to do with looming revelations of how the new Iraqi 'democracy' had instituted Saddam-style torture chambers. Or with the spiraling investigations into the whereabouts of nearly $9 billion in unaccounted-for taxpayers' money from the American occupation authority. Or with the latest spike in casualties. Mr. Santorum was instead contemplating his own incipient political obituary written the day before: a poll showing him 16 points down in his re-election race. No sooner did he stiff Mr. Bush in Pennsylvania than he did so again in Washington, voting with a 79-to-19 majority on a Senate resolution begging for an Iraq exit strategy. He was joined by all but one (Jon Kyl) of the 13 other Republican senators running for re-election next year. They desperately want to be able to tell their constituents that they were against the war after they were for it.

They know the voters have decided the war is over, no matter what symbolic resolutions are passed or defeated in Congress nor how many Republicans try to Swift-boat Representative John Murtha, the marine hero who wants the troops out. A USA Today/CNN/Gallup survey last week found that the percentage (52) of Americans who want to get out of Iraq fast, in 12 months or less, is even larger than the percentage (48) that favored a quick withdrawal from Vietnam when that war's casualty toll neared 54,000 in the apocalyptic year of 1970. The Ohio State political scientist John Mueller, writing in Foreign Affairs, found that 'if history is any indication, there is little the Bush administration can do to reverse this decline.' He observed that Mr. Bush was trying to channel L. B. J. by making 'countless speeches explaining what the effort in Iraq is about, urging patience and asserting that progress is being made. But as was also evident during Woodrow Wilson's campaign to sell the League of Nations to the American public, the efficacy of the bully pulpit is much overrated.'

Mr. Bush may disdain timetables for our pullout, but, hello, there already is one, set by the Santorums of his own party: the expiration date for a sizable American presence in Iraq is Election Day 2006. As Mr. Mueller says, the decline in support for the war won't reverse itself. The public knows progress is not being made, no matter how many times it is told that Iraqis will soon stand up so we can stand down."

Good for All Saints Pasadena: Fighting the IRS

IRS Reviews Church's Status: "The Internal Revenue Service is examining the tax-exempt status of a liberal church in Southern California because its former pastor delivered a fiery antiwar sermon that criticized President Bush by name on the Sunday before the 2004 presidential election.

But All Saints Church in Pasadena is more than just standing its ground. The 3,500-member Episcopal congregation has hired a heavy-hitting Washington law firm, unleashed a torrent of publicity and received support from religious groups across the political spectrum, from the National Council of Churches to the National Association of Evangelicals.

In effect, the church and its allies have turned the tables on the IRS, forcing the agency to defend itself against accusations of crossing the line into politics, essentially the same complaint the IRS originally brought against the church in June.

'I'm very interested to know whether the IRS is taking a look only at churches that are critical of the war in Iraq, or also at the churches that are supportive of the war and the president,' said the Rev. J. Edwin Bacon Jr., rector of All Saints. 'I have no evidence that the investigation is politically motivated, but I do wonder whether it is.'"

WaPo: House Rejects Iraq Pullout After GOP Forces a Vote

I watched a good bit of the debate last night on CSPAN, and am thankful for Murtha's bold arguments... but the GOP turned his meaningful resolution into a political trick: "GOP leaders hastily scheduled a vote on a measure to require the Bush administration to bring the troops home now, an idea proposed Thursday by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). The Republican-proposed measure was rejected 403 to 3, a result that surprised no one.

The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record on a proposal that the administration says would be equivalent to surrender. Recognizing a political trap, most Democrats -- including Murtha -- said from the start they would vote no.

But the maneuvering exposed the chamber's raw partisan divisions and prompted a tumultuous scene, which Capitol Hill veterans called among the wildest and most emotional they had ever witnessed.

Though even many Democrats think Murtha's immediate withdrawal plan is impractical, it struck a chord in a party where frustration with the war and the Bush administration's open-ended commitment is mounting fast. Murtha galvanized the debate as few others could have. He is a 33-year House veteran and former Marine colonel who received medals for his wounds and valor in Vietnam, and he has traditionally been a leading Democratic hawk and advocate of military spending."

WaPo: Fitz Calls Another Grand Jury for Leak Case

Patrick Fitzgerald calls for another grand jury--to follow up the Woodward revelations? To finish up with Rove? "The most innocuous explanation for the new grand jury is that Fitzgerald simply wants to complete his probe and to put information on the record, perhaps about Woodward's source or Rove, according to several legal experts, including some involved in the case.

But most lawyers interviewed for this article said Fitzgerald would not go through the trouble of calling upon a new grand jury -- after gathering so much testimony from and about Rove -- unless he is exploring new territory uncovered since the Oct. 28 Libby indictment.

'Whoever's Woodward's source probably feels terribly uncomfortable right now,' said E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., a Washington defense lawyer and former prosecutor.

Randall D. Eliason, a law professor who formerly ran the public corruption section of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said Fitzgerald is clearly 'looking at new defendants or new charges.' That is not good news for anybody concerned about their role in Plame's identity being leaked, Eliason added."

Friday, November 18, 2005

LA Weekly: 10 Comics That Shook The World

LA Weekly: Features: 10 Comics That Shook The World: "These days, when Art Spiegelman’s funny-animals-in-Auschwitz graphic novel Maus wins a Pulitzer, and magazines like Gary Groth’s exponentially toney Comics Journal and Todd Hignite’s exquisite Comic Art treat the funnybook medium with seriousness and reverence, it’s unlikely that there will be much controversy over the inclusion of comic-book artists like Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Kirby in “Masters of American Comics.” Still, many who are familiar with the genius of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts or Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy remain completely unaware of the enormous wealth of innovative visual materials that make up the history of the comic book. Here are 10 landmark comics that expanded the boundaries of what was possible."

AMERICAblog: And don't forget about Afghanistan

AMERICAblog: Michael in New York slaps us into reality: "You already know Afghanistan is basically a narco-state with most of its economy coming from heroin, etc. In fact, it's producing more illegal drugs than ever before. You also know most of the country is controlled by drug lords and the Taliban. (Our puppet government is holed up in a few major cities.)

Now USA Today is reporting that our own troops say the insurgency is stronger than ever and continuing to grow. Sound familiar? More of our troops are dying this year than last, the enemy is getting 'fiercer' and they're just waiting for us to leave before wreaking havoc. This is according to US troops on the ground. No wonder Bush has already declared Afghanistan a success."

AJC: Why plans to withdraw should take shape

Keep one eye on exit |

"Trying to peer into Iraq's future has been difficult, but the picture might have become a little clearer Tuesday thanks to two news events, one in Baghdad and one in Washington. Unfortunately, it isn't pretty.

Here at home, the Senate approved a resolution 79-19 urging the Bush administration to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by next year. It did not call for estimated dates of withdrawal, as a Democratic version had, but it made clear the Senate's wishes.

The Senate resolution sent messages to two other important audiences as well.

First, it was meant to reassure American voters that their dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq had been noted in their nation's capital. In recent polls, roughly 65 percent of Americans say they disapprove of how President Bush is handling the war, and only 40 percent still believe that going to war was worthwhile. Numbers like that are unlikely to improve, and will make it impossible to sustain a long-term American deployment in Iraq.

That was the message sent to the Bush administration as well. The president continues to talk as if withdrawal were not an option, but the Senate vote — joined by a majority of Bush's fellow Republicans — is far from the only indication to the contrary. U.S. generals have talked openly of troop reductions next year, as have top Iraqi officials; the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Bush appointee Zalmay Khalilzad, said recently that "we are on the right track to start significant reductions in the coming year." Our British allies are talking about heading home as well next year.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat, a former Marine and a man respected by both parties on defense issues, even called for immediate withdrawal, echoing statements earlier by retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, who headed the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration.

"The U.S. will not leave behind a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq no matter how long it stays," Odom noted. "Holding elections is easy. It is impossible to make it a constitutional democracy in a hurry."

What seems to be taking shape is not a cut-and-run policy, but a policy of cut and walk briskly to the exit. And unfortunately, a revealing glimpse into what we will leave behind came Tuesday when news broke of a weekend raid by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers of an Iraqi government building in Baghdad.

The raid freed 173 malnourished Iraqi men being held in secret in a former bomb shelter. Many of the men had been subjected to torture just like that perpetrated under the deposed Saddam Hussein, but what made the event so ominous is that they were being held by captors who were at least nominally employees of Iraq's democratically elected government.

The parallels with the Iraq of Saddam, the Iraq we had supposedly destroyed, are sobering. The only difference is that this time, the torturers were Iraqi Shiites while the victims were largely Sunni, a role reversal from Saddam's time.

The dream of transforming Iraq from a cruel and repressive tyranny into a shining model of Western-style democracy was admittedly a beautiful thing. But like many a beautiful thing, it may also have been unattainable, particularly after our bungling of the post-war occupation.

Now we are left to accomplish what we can, in the time we have, with the resources we have, and then deal with the consequences, which will be significant. Our alliances and our reputation are in tatters; our military is showing signs of strain and our enemies are emboldened.

The good news is, we've recovered from a lot worse. But it didn't have to be this hard."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

KR Washington Bureau: In challenging war's critics, administration tinkers with truth

KR Washington Bureau | 11/16/2005 | In challenging war's critics, administration tinkers with truth: "President Bush called Democratic critics of how he sold the Iraq war to the world 'irresponsible' five times Thursday during a brief news conference in South Korea.

Bush said he agreed with Vice President Dick Cheney, who on Wednesday had accused some unnamed senators who oppose the administration's Iraq war policy of lacking 'backbone' and making 'reprehensible charges' that Bush and his aides 'purposely misled the American people on prewar intelligence.'

Cheney's rough-edged remarks, and the president's unequivocal endorsement of them, were the latest in the Bush administration's new campaign to challenge critics of how it sold the war, accusing them of twisting the historical record about how and why the war was launched. Yet in accusing Iraq-war critics of 'rewriting history,' Bush, Cheney and other senior administration officials are tinkering with the truth themselves."

Now NY Times is calling Bush a liar

Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials - New York Times: "To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true."

AMERICAblog: WaPo comes to the rescue of Scooter

I read the article in the Washington Post about how Woodward's involvement is a "boon" to Libby, and shook my head. Now John in DC unpacks this surreal article: "In a rather bizarre article in Thursday's Washington Post, the newspaper claims that Woodward's testimony could be a 'boon' to Scooter.

The revelation that The Washington Post's Bob Woodward may have been the first reporter to learn about CIA operative Valerie Plame could provide a boost to the only person indicted in the leak case: I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.

How? Well, the article doesn't really tell us that. Though it does say in the second paragraph:

Legal experts said Woodward provided two pieces of new information that cast at least a shadow of doubt on the public case against Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, who has been indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Pretty damning stuff, if the Post article actually said what the first two paragraphs of the article allege. Unfortunately, it does not."

I totally agree with John. Why does the fact that a THIRD administration minion is involved get Scooter off the hook for lying and obstruction?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Daily Kos: Bishop John Spong on Pat Robertson

Daily Kos: Matthew C has Bishop John Spong on Pat Robertson. Right on.

The Raw Story: Hadley was Woodward's source, attorneys say

The Raw Story | National Security Adviser was Woodward's source, attorneys say: "National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was the senior administration official who told Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA officer, attorneys close to the investigation and intelligence officials tell RAW STORY.

Testifying under oath Monday to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, Woodward recounted a casual conversation he had with Hadley, these sources say. Hadley did not return a call seeking comment.

Woodward said he was told that it was “no big deal” that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate the veracity of the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. According to the attorneys, he said Hadley dismissed the trip by saying his wife, a covert CIA officer who worked on WMD issues, had recommended him."

Josh is taking on a major project... and here's a starter

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "we're going to try to put our research energies for the rest of this week into compiling a detailed list of White House deceptions and lies in the lead up to war, along with a White House mendacity taxonomy distinguishing all the different flavors or deception, mistatement, exaggeration and generalized bamboozlement.

We've already got in almost 150 tips from readers for our list. And clearly cataloging all this mumbojumbo and dishonesty is going to be a time-consuming task. But while we're at it I just can't help passing on some gems.

Dick Cheney ever try to tell people Saddam might be behind 9/11?

Hmm, let's see ...."

Radio Ink: Harkin and Limbaugh mix it up over Armed Forces Radio

Radio Ink: "The Des Moines Register reports that a round of name-calling has erupted between Rush Limbaugh and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin after a clash over programs on Armed Forces Radio.

Harkin, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor that Limbaugh 'wouldn't know the truth if it hit him in the face.' Limbaugh, meanwhile, has taken to calling the senator Tom 'Dung Heap' Harkin on his syndicated radio show.

Harkin on Nov. 7 offered a defense bill amendment calling for 'fair and balanced' political programming on Armed Forces Radio, which is broadcast to troops. Harkin repeated concerns that the radio network airs Limbaugh's show but few talk shows with alternative viewpoints, such as liberals Ed Schultz or Al Franken.

'What I object to is that Rush Limbaugh is on all week, and our troops get to hear him, but they don't get to hear any viewpoints from the other side of the political spectrum,' Harkin said.

Limbaugh on his show the next day used his nickname for Harkin, a reference to a 1999 comment by Harkin that impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton amounted to a 'pile of dung.'

Added Limbaugh: 'You have a US senator personally berating a citizen of this country, and I'm honored to be the citizen.'

Schultz, as reported here in Radio Ink, has been told by officials he will be added to the Armed Forces Radio lineup. "

AJC: Georgia Baptists vote to cut ties with Mercer

Baptists vote to slash Mercer ties | "The Georgia Baptist Convention voted Tuesday to sever ties with Mercer University because it no longer shares 'common values and mutual trust' with the Macon-based school.

The decision, which Mercer's president called 'tragic,' represents the biggest crisis in what has long been a tempestuous relationship between the convention and its flagship college. Convention leaders said Georgia Baptists have complained for years about Mercer's leadership and the denomination's inability to control its board of trustees."

Mercer is a great university, with a strong theology school. Admittedly, they are a bit moderate. But the cranky hard-right conservatives running the Southern Baptist convention in Georgia these days can't abide it. Part of the problem was the revelation that there was a gay/lesbian support group on campus, which was shut down earlier this week. But that wasn't good enough for the wackos, the taint is still there. Just disgusting. This has to be ratified by another vote next year, but if I was Mercer, I'd be glad to get outta there.

Pastordan at Daily Kos: Ten Things Religious People Want Atheists to Know

Pastor Dan has posted his Ten Things Religious People Want Atheists to Know and they are well worth reading. Bravo.

Crooks and Liars on the Woodward revelation

Crooks and Liars has some interesting stuff on the latest admission from Bob Woodward that he too got the leak but won't say from who: "we all knew that Woodward has been a shill for the administration and this seals the deal. He'll say he was keeping a confidence, but he should have just stayed home instead of sugar coating this whole investigation."

Made me laugh

The other day a minister friend sent me this commercial for Guinness ale, and it sure made me laugh. Of course, it won't play in Kansas.

Born at the Crest of the Empire: More on White Phosphorus

Born at the Crest of the Empire has the latest on reports that the US forces used chemical weapons against insurgents and possibly civilians.

Chuck Hagel: One of the few GOP good guys

Hagel Defends Criticisms of Iraq Policy: "Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its Iraq policy, saying that 'the Bush administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them.'

With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in Iraq. Bush has suggested that critics are hurting the war effort, telling U.S. troops in Alaska on Monday that critics 'are sending mixed signals to our troops and the enemy. And that's irresponsible.'

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and a potential presidential candidate in 2008, countered in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War 'was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late.'

'To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic,' Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. 'America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices.'

Hagel said Democrats have an obligation to be constructive in their criticism, but he accused the administration of 'dividing the country' with its rhetorical tactics."

WaPo: No wonder the GOP wouldn't put them under oath last week--they lied

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force: "A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Inside Radio: CPB's Ken Tomlinson violated code of ethics

Inside Radio / M Street Publications: "Ken Tomlinson violated the code of ethics at CPB, says the agency's own inspector general.

The IG says Tomlinson used 'political tests' when he hired former Republican National Committee co-chair Patricia Harrison as president and CEO - and failed to disclose to his board that he was paying for outside monitoring of public radio's Diane Rehm and other shows funded by the Corporation. Tomlinson resigned from the board a month ago - though he's still chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees government broadcasting efforts like VOA.

AMERICAblog: Rumsfeld jumps on the Dems too

John in DC makes a good point about the latest talking points: "Rumsfeld joined Bush today in saying that lots of Democrats said the same thing about Saddam Hussein that they did - namely, that he was a bad man.

Great. But Bill Clinton and the Democratic Congress never declared war on Iraq. The Democrats saw the SAME evidence as Bush yet THEY decided to use sanctions, the UN, targeted military operations, and diplomacy to contain Iraq, and it worked. Until Bush invaded, that is.

So what Bush and Rummy are now admitting is that they had the same information that Clinton had, yet Clinton decided that invading Iraq was a dumb idea, while Bush deciced that invading Iraq was going to be a 'cake walk.' Remember that phrase?

Yes, Mr. President, keep using this argument. Bill Clinton had the same information Bush had, yet Clinton didn't launch a poorly planned and executed war that has now turned into a quagmire and a money-hole, threatening to destabilize the entire region and fanning the flames of anti-American hatred and terror.

So you're telling us you're an idiot. I feel better already."

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Bush's gone crazy.

Born at the Crest of the Empire has a report on the Insight mag's report of Bush's paranoia, via Drudge. Follow that? I tried reading it via Drudge last night and could never connect. Isn't Insight mag one of the Moonie pubs, or am I wrong about that? I do know they're conservative, right? So why are they painting this dreadful picture of the president?

Jimmy Carter in LAT: This isn't the real America

Los Angeles Times: This isn't the real America: "IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of 'preemptive war,' an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world."

Go read it.

Froomkin on Bush's flawed arguments for Iraq

Bush's Third Campaign: "Amid all the tumbling poll numbers of late, Bush's biggest problem is this: A sizeable majority of Americans -- 55 percent according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll -- believe that he intentionally misled the American public in making his case for war in Iraq.

So Bush's speechwriters on Veteran's Day added a few fiery paragraphs to his standard war-on-terror address.

Here's the text : 'Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs,' Bush said.

'[M]ore than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power,' he noted.

And, he concluded: 'The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will.'

But Bush's argument is deeply flawed. Far from being baseless, the charge that he intentionally misled the public in the run-up to war is built on a growing amount of evidence. And the longer Bush goes without refuting that evidence in detail, the more persuasive it becomes.

And his most prized talking point -- that many Democrats agreed with him at the time -- is problematic. Many of those Democrats did so because they believed the information the president gave them. Now they are coming to the conclusion that they shouldn't have.

Like other Bush campaigns, this one will inevitably feature the ceaseless repetition of key sound bytes -- the hope being that they will be carried, largely unchallenged, by the media -- and virulent attacks by the White House on those who dare to disagree, even going so far as to question their patriotism."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fallowes in The Atlantic: Why Iraq Has No Army

James Fallowes has another disconcerting in depth look at the situation in Iraq, and concludes thusly: "In sum, if the United States is serious about getting out of Iraq, it will need to re-consider its defense spending and operations rather than leaving them to a combination of inertia, Rumsfeld-led plans for 'transformation,' and emergency stopgaps. It will need to spend money for interpreters. It will need to create large new training facilities for American troops, as happened within a few months of Pearl Harbor, and enroll talented people as trainees. It will need to make majors and colonels sit through language classes. It will need to broaden the Special Forces ethic to much more of the military, and make clear that longer tours will be the norm in Iraq. It will need to commit air, logistics, medical, and intelligence services to Iraq—and understand that this is a commitment for years, not a temporary measure. It will need to decide that there are weapons systems it does not require and commitments it cannot afford if it is to support the ones that are crucial. And it will need to make these decisions in a matter of months, not years—before it is too late.

America's hopes today for an orderly exit from Iraq depend completely on the emergence of a viable Iraqi security force. There is no indication that such a force is about to emerge. As a matter of unavoidable logic, the United States must therefore choose one of two difficult alternatives: It can make the serious changes—including certain commitments to remain in Iraq for many years—that would be necessary to bring an Iraqi army to maturity. Or it can face the stark fact that it has no orderly way out of Iraq, and prepare accordingly."

Brad Friedman: The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election

The Blog | Brad Friedman: The Staggeringly Impossible Results of Ohio's '05 Election | The Huffington Post: "Is this the Election that will finally break the camel's back?

With so much going on, few have noticed the extraordinary outcome of last Tuesday's election in Ohio where the crooked state that brung you -- by hook and by crook -- a second term for George W. Bush may have turned in results so staggeringly impossible, that perhaps even the Mainstream Corporate Media (if only in Ohio?!) will have no choice but to look into it."

Daily Kos: Latest Gallup poll

Daily Kos: Latest Gallup poll. Check it out. Going down down down.

And, a record high 60% say going to war in Iraq was "not worth it."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Think Progress- Debunking the Right: The World Did Not See the Iraqi Threat as Bush Did

Think Progress thoroughly debunks the latest GOP talking points on Iraq: "The defenders of the Bush Iraq policy rolled out a new talking point this morning on the Sunday talk shows. That is: the Bush administration wasn’t the only one to get the pre-war intelligence wrong — rather, this was a global failure of intelligence.

Sen. John McCain: “Every intelligence agency in the world, including the Russian, including the French, including the Israeli, all had reached the same conclusion, and that was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” [Face the Nation]

Sen. Pat Roberts: “Not only ours but the British, not only that but the French, not only that but the Russians, not only that but the Israelis – this was a worldwide intelligence failure.” [Fox News Sunday]

Former White House Political Director Ken Mehlman: “The UN looked at it, the Germans looked at it, the French looked at it… they all agreed that this guy has WMD.” [Meet the Press]

What the right wants you to believe is that because these intelligence agencies may have believed Saddam had WMD, they also believed that the intelligence rose to the necessary level of justifying military force to invade Iraq. That is entirely false. In fact, many of our friends and allies believed the opposite — that based on the intelligence they had, the threat of Iraq did not rise to the level of justifying immediate force.

FRANCE: President Jacques Chirac: “France is not pacifist. We are not anti-American either. We are not just going to use our veto to nag and annoy the U.S. But we just feel that there is another option, another way, a less dramatic way than war, and that we have to go down that path. And we should pursue it until we have come to a dead end, but that is not the case yet.” [CNN, 3/17/03]

GERMANY: Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer: “The Security Council is now meeting for the third time within a month at ministerial level to discuss the Iraq crisis. This shows the urgency we attach to the disarmament of Iraq and to the threat of war. … Are we really in a situation that absolutely necessitates the ‘ultima ratio’, the very last resort? I think not, because the peaceful means are far from exhausted.” [Statement by Fischer to Security Council, 3/7/03]

RUSSIA: Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov: “What is really in the genuine interests of the world community? Continuing the albeit difficult but clearly fruitful results of the inspectors’ work, or resorting to force, which inevitably will result in enormous loss of life and is fraught with serious and unpredictable consequences for regional and international stability? It is our deep conviction that the possibilities for disarming Iraq through political means do exist. And they really exist. And this cannot but be acknowledged.” [Statement by Ivanov, 3/7/03]

CHINA: Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan: “We believe that as long as we stick to the road of political settlement, the goal of destroying Iraq’s WMD could still be obtained. Resolution 1441 did not come by easily. Given the current situation, we need resolve and determination, and more importantly, patience and wisdom.” [Statement by Jiaxuan, 3/7/03]"

Think Progress: Portrait of an Idiot

Think Progress - O’Reilly Responds: “What I Said Isn’t Controversial. What I Said Needed to Be Said.”: "Appearing yesterday on a conservative San Francisco radio show, Bill O’Reilly offered his first public comments since being criticized for saying he would approve of an al Qaeda terrorist attack on the California city.

O’Reilly not only stood by his comments, but claimed they “needed to be said”:

I mean, look, everybody knows what’s going on there. What I said isn’t controversial. What I said needed to be said. I’m sitting here and I’m looking at a city that has absolutely no clue about what the world is. None. You know, if you had been hit on 9/11 instead of New York, believe me, you would not have voted against military recruting. Yet the left-wing, selfish, Land of Oz philosophy that the media and the city politicians have embraced out there is an absolute intellectual disgrace."

Frank Rich: 'We Do Not Torture' and Other Funny Stories

'We Do Not Torture' and Other Funny Stories - New York Times: "The vice president, not satisfied that the C.I.A. had already been implicated in four detainee deaths, was busy lobbying Congress to give the agency a green light to commit torture in the future. Dana Priest of The Washington Post, having first uncovered secret C.I.A. prisons two years ago, was uncovering new 'black sites' in Eastern Europe, where ghost detainees are subjected to unknown interrogation methods redolent of the region's Stalinist past. Before heading south, Mr. Bush had been doing his own bit for torture by threatening to cast the first veto of his presidency if Congress didn't scrap a spending bill amendment, written by John McCain and passed 90 to 9 by the Senate, banning the 'cruel, inhuman or degrading' treatment of prisoners.

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, 'We do not torture' - a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib - you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment. The answer is not complicated. When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it. And for a long time, Mr. Bush and his cronies did. Not anymore.

The fallout from the Scooter Libby indictment reveals that the administration's credibility, having passed the tipping point with Katrina, is flat-lining. For two weeks, the White House's talking-point monkeys in the press and Congress had been dismissing Patrick Fitzgerald's leak investigation as much ado about nothing except politics and as an exoneration of everyone except Mr. Libby. Now the American people have rendered their verdict: they're not buying it. Last week two major polls came up with the identical finding, that roughly 8 in 10 Americans regard the leak case as a serious matter. One of the polls (The Wall Street Journal/NBC News) also found that 57 percent of Americans believe that Mr. Bush deliberately misled the country into war in Iraq and that only 33 percent now find him 'honest and straightforward,' down from 50 percent in January.

The Bush loyalists' push to discredit the Libby indictment failed because Americans don't see it as a stand-alone scandal but as the petri dish for a wider culture of lying that becomes more visible every day. The last-ditch argument rolled out by Mr. Bush on Veterans Day in his latest stay-the-course speech - that Democrats, too, endorsed dead-wrong W.M.D. intelligence - is more of the same. Sure, many Democrats (and others) did believe that Saddam had an arsenal before the war, but only the White House hyped selective evidence for nuclear weapons, the most ominous of all of Iraq's supposed W.M.D.'s, to whip up public fears of an imminent doomsday."

Another excellent op-ed from Mr. Rich.

WaPo: Was Libby covering for his boss?

Libby May Have Tried to Mask Cheney's Role: "Libby, according to Fitzgerald's indictment, gave a false story to agents and, later, to a grand jury, even though he knew investigators had his notes, and presumably knew that several of his White House colleagues had already provided testimony and documentary evidence that would undercut his own story. And his interviews with the FBI in October and two appearances before the grand jury in March 2004 came at a time when there were increasingly clear signs that some of the reporters with whom Libby discussed Plame could soon be freed to testify -- and provide starkly different and damning accounts to the prosecutor.

To critics, the timing suggests an attempt to obscure Cheney's role, and possibly his legal culpability. The vice president is shown by the indictment to be aware of and interested in Plame and her CIA status long before her cover was blown. Even some White House aides privately wonder whether Libby was seeking to protect Cheney from political embarrassment. One of them noted with resignation, 'Obviously, the indictment speaks for itself.'

In addition, Cheney also advised Libby on a media strategy to counter Plame's husband, former ambassador Wilson, according to a person familiar with the case.

'This story doesn't end with Scooter Libby's indictment,' said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), giving voice to widespread Democratic hopes about the outcome of Fitzgerald's case. 'A lot more questions need to be answered by the White House about the actions of [Cheney] and his staff.'"

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Conservative Episcopalians Warn Church That It Faces Splity

I say let them go. And Rick Warren should keep his nose out of this. From the New York Times: "Conservative leaders of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. and their Anglican counterparts from overseas intensified their warnings Friday about the possibility of a schism in the Anglican Communion if the Episcopal Church did not renounce the consecration of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions."

Robert Novak: No wonder Busy is so pissy

Unhappy W. by Robert Novak: "President Bush was furious with the staff preparation for last week's inter-American summit in Argentina where his trade proposals ran into unexpected opposition.

The president was reported as particularly unhappy with the work by his National Security Council staff in getting ready for the meeting. That added to Bush's distress in Buenos Aires, dealing with violent street demonstrators and hostile fellow presidents led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and including Argentina's Nestor Kirchner.

The crowning indignity for Bush was the Friday night state dinner starting at 10 p.m., an hour when the president normally is in bed. He left the dinner early, but it was midnight by then."

An angry Bush is still not necessarily an honest Bush

Asterisks Dot White House's Iraq Argument: "President Bush and his national security adviser have answered critics of the Iraq war in recent days with a two-pronged argument: that Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence.

Neither assertion is wholly accurate.

The administration's overarching point is true: Intelligence agencies overwhelmingly believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and very few members of Congress from either party were skeptical about this belief before the war began in 2003. Indeed, top lawmakers in both parties were emphatic and certain in their public statements.

But Bush and his aides had access to much more voluminous intelligence information than did lawmakers, who were dependent on the administration to provide the material. And the commissions cited by officials, though concluding that the administration did not pressure intelligence analysts to change their conclusions, were not authorized to determine whether the administration exaggerated or distorted those conclusions.

National security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, briefing reporters Thursday, countered 'the notion that somehow this administration manipulated the intelligence.' He said that 'those people who have looked at that issue, some committees on the Hill in Congress, and also the Silberman-Robb Commission, have concluded it did not happen.'

But the only committee investigating the matter in Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has not yet done its inquiry into whether officials mischaracterized intelligence by omitting caveats and dissenting opinions. And Judge Laurence H. Silberman, chairman of Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said in releasing his report on March 31, 2005: 'Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.'

Bush, in Pennsylvania yesterday, was more precise, but he still implied that it had been proved that the administration did not manipulate intelligence, saying that those who suggest the administration 'manipulated the intelligence' are 'fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments.'

In the same speech, Bush asserted that 'more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.' Giving a preview of Bush's speech, Hadley had said that 'we all looked at the same intelligence.'

But Bush does not share his most sensitive intelligence, such as the President's Daily Brief, with lawmakers. Also, the National Intelligence Estimate summarizing the intelligence community's views about the threat from Iraq was given to Congress just days before the vote to authorize the use of force in that country.

In addition, there were doubts within the intelligence community not included in the NIE. And even the doubts expressed in the NIE could not be used publicly by members of Congress because the classified information had not been cleared for release. For example, the NIE view that Hussein would not use weapons of mass destruction against the United States or turn them over to terrorists unless backed into a corner was cleared for public use only a day before the Senate vote."

A fascinating take by Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus... read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

AMERICAblog: More Anti-Muslim bigotry from religious right

John in DC with another example of hate from the religious right: "Guess they realized that bashing gays isn't getting them quite the rate of return they were getting in the past. Time to pick the next minority to hate.

From the religious right propaganda organ, AgapePress:

The ICC spokesman feels these attacks show the true nature of Islamic fundamentalism. 'Within the Koran there are verses about cutting off the heads, smiting the necks of the unbelievers, terrorizing the unbelievers, and how to treat Jews and Christians,' he notes. 'Most people are not willing to say these things, but it is part and parcel of the Koran.'

King says while Islam, like other faiths, is characterized by an ongoing battle between the moderates and the fundamentalists, among Muslims 'the fundamentalists are not some small, fringe group -- they are a huge percentage. It's millions upon millions of people around the world.'

The head of ICC believes violence is intrinsic to Islamic fundamentalism. And the recent brutal attack on five Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia is proof, he asserts, that these Islamic 'true believers' have no plans to curb their violence against Christians and other 'infidels.'"

The hilarious thing (well, not so) is that the Bible is full of similar violent admonitions.

Daily Kos: US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon

Steven D at Daily Kos: US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon: "The claim by the US Government that White Phosphorus was used only for illumination at Fallujah had been pre-emptively debunked by the Army. Indeed, the article goes on to make clear that soldiers would have liked to have saved more WP rounds to use for 'lethal missions.'"

Judy's Gone

Times and Reporter Reach Agreement on Her Departure - New York Times: "The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement today that ends her 28-year career at the newspaper and caps more than two weeks of negotiations over the conclusion of a tumultuous episode.

Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her actions surrounding her release from jail 85 days later and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering concerns about her in the newsroom."

Amy Sullivan: Some Good News about Kaine's win

The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum's blog, with Amy Sullivan opining: "The post-mortems of yesterday's elections will continue, but already one of the conclusions forming about Tim Kaine's victory in Virginia is that it shows how a religious Democrat can neutralize the recent Republican advantage on cultural issues and character.

Kaine talked about his faith consistently, starting from the very beginning of his campaign. He didn't throw it out as an honor badge for which he should get instant credit, but explained how his work as a Catholic missionary in Central America formed his commitment to public service. And although Kaine relied on his Catholicism to explain his personal opposition to both abortion and the death penalty, his insistence that as governor he should not impose his religious beliefs on others by blocking either one was an argument voters--if not pundits--understood and supported."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

White men running the world as "The Illuminati"

Marvel Comics has announced a new miniseries about a secret cabal of superheroes who really run the world, and call themselves (not so originally) The Illuminati. They're all white males.

And we thought we were making some progress against sexism and discrimination. Thank God this is just a fictional fantasy.

NEWSARAMA - ILLUMINATING THE ILLUMINATI WITH BRIAN BENDIS: "Most recently, they played a major role in the fate of The Sentry in the pages of New Avengers: Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Namor, Professor Xavier, and Dr. Strange. Together, the five are known as the Illuminati, and in March, Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev will show their history in New Avengers Special: The Illuminati.

We caught up with Bendis to talk secrets, cabals, how it starts to come apart, and similarities. "

AMERICAblog: GOP trying to Swift Boat Wilson

John in DC on a stunning but not surprising move by the right: "Regnery Publishing, one of the major purveyors of books by right-wing attack dogs like Anne Coulter and G. Gordon Liddy, has two authors who are trying to spread a lie about Joe Wilson, saying he revealed to them in a casual conversation in the Green Room at FOX News in 2002 (a year before Novak outed Valerie Wilson) that Valerie worked at the CIA.

Amb. Wilsons says categorically that this never happened - liked he'd blare this to two total strangers, at FOX News no less - but the two FOX News pundit-authors, who of course suddenly appear out of nowhere two years into the investigation once Scooter is indicted and the Bush White House is falling apart at the seams, are now intent on spreading their suddenly rediscovered 'memory.'

Coincidence? I report, you decide.

The phony report was first published at WorldNetDaily, then it was repeated tonight on the convervative talk radio John Batchelor Show. Batchelor received but refused to include the statement, below, by Amb. Wilson's and Valerie Plame's lawyer Christopher Wolf.

This is yet another clear effort by the pro-treason wing of the Republican party to resurrect Swift Boat Veteran tactics as a counter-offensive in RoveGate. I hope Wilson sues their asses off.

And lest these guys forget, it was the same Christopher Wolf, Wilson's lawyer, who sued USA Next for $25 million for stealing the wedding photo of the gay couple and using it in a homophobic anti-AARP ad. You haven't heard squat from USA Next after that little suit was filed (the suit is still ongoing). Here's hoping Wolf does an equally good job ripping these bozos."

Monday, November 07, 2005

IRS goes after church that preaches against the war

[ENS, Los Angeles] Warned that its tax-exempt status faces IRS examination after a 2004 anti-war sermon, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, refuted the charges in announcements to the congregation during November 6 Sunday services, and a news release (text follows).

The Los Angeles Times carries a further report in its November 7 editions.

Full text of parish news release:

All Saints Church of Pasadena, California, notified by the IRS that it intends to conduct an examination for possible violation of its non-profit status, denies that any regulations were broken, and affirms its First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion.

The IRS cited a sermon delivered by a guest preacher on October 31, 2004, the Sunday before the 2004 Presidential election, and a local newspaper story the following day reporting on the sermon, as evidence that an inquiry was warranted. The IRS has alleged that the sermon may have contained "implicit" intervention in the 2004 Presidential election because it contained references to the two candidates' positions on certain moral issues, and it reminded the congregation the need to consider their values when voting.

All Saints Church's rector, J. Edwin Bacon, said, "We've broken no rules. The IRS's concerns are unsupported by the facts. They also infringe on religious freedom and freedom of speech, and threaten core values which the congregations holds dear. The sermon explicitly ended with "when you go into the voting booth on Tuesday, take with you all that you know about Jesus, the peacemaker. Take all that Jesus means to you. Then vote your deepest values." We have a diligently enforced policy against campaign intervention and will continue to maintain our nonpartisan stance with commitment and integrity.

"We take pride in our long history of active involvement in the community and in our steadfast and theologically-based commitment to alleviate poverty and promote peace, equality and social justice. From this commitment, All Saints Church cannot and will not waiver."

Federal tax law prohibits campaign intervention by organizations, including churches, that are exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If proven, a single violation may be punishable by both an excise tax on political expenditures and revocation of an organization's tax-exempt status.

"I don't believe the law requires us to mandate that a preacher's sermons may not discuss core moral values during worship," said the Rev. Bacon. "Teaching moral values is, after all, one of the Church's main functions, and to suggest that a preacher may not preach about the value of promoting peace simply because the nation happens to be at war during an election is in fact an affront to all who have given their lives to preserve just these liberties.

"The moral values expressed in this sermon include profound but simple truths that reflect our faith, and Church members should be able to acknowledge that without threatening the Church's legal status. Jesus said: 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Children of God,' and we strive prayerfully to make this a part of our everyday lives."

Marcus Owens, tax counsel to the Church, member in Caplin & Drysdale's Washington, D.C office, and former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, adds, "the IRS's concerns are based on a subjective determination that the guest preacher was implicitly opposing one candidate while endorsing another. Apparently, the Service has disregarded the fact that the guest preacher explicitly stated at the sermon's outset, 'I don't intend to tell you how to vote.' "

The sermon at issue, entitled "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush," was delivered by the Rev. Dr. George Regas, 75, who retired as rector of All Saints Church in 1995. Regas made it clear that he was expressing his personal opinons, though his sermon reflected core beliefs held by members of All Saints Church regarding the immorality and sin of war.

Born at the Crest of the Empire has some good questions about Chalabi's visit

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Chalabi visits Iran, then Washington: "Questions: First, is Chalabi acting as a back channel between the US and Iran? Perhaps more pertinently, if you look at his schedule of identified visits in the US, is he acting as a back channel for certain neoconish elements of this administration? Ledeen, Rice, and Cheney were all cheerleaders for the war and all had their hands in the 'mushroom cloud' language. How active is the 'cabal' at this point?

Second, we can question the obviously false intel he channeled into US intel stream through others who supported the war, but the bottom line is this:

Isn't Chalabi still under investigation for leaking intercept information to Iran? Should Rice, or any other 'senior US official' be meeting with this guy?"

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Daily Kos: Jay Rockefeller says he was wrong on Iraq, thanks to the administration

Armando at Daily Kos: : "On Wolf Blitzer's show, Wolf showed Senator Jay Rockefeller's (D-WV) floor speech explaining his Aye vote for authorizing force against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Rockefeller did the right thing and the smart thing - He admitted he was completely wrong in voting for the Iraq War. He said that if he knew then what he knows now, he would never ever would have voted for war in Iraq. He insisted that the reason he did not know then what he knows now was because the Bush Administration stovepiped the intelligence. In effect, he called them liars."

Daily Kos: Coburn: Gays are the biggest threat to freedom and families

HKingsley in a diary on Daily Kos calls out the bigoted Oklahoma senator: "people like Coburn simply can't deal with the fact that some families aren't like theirs. And they are on a mission to legislate by law their standard onto all families. These people are social fascists, plain and simple... "

WaPo: Alito would likely maintain precedents, even on abortion

Alito Respectful of Precedent, Associates Say: "For 15 years as a federal appeals court judge, Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s job has been to follow the precedent of the Supreme Court. But if he is approved for the nation's highest court, he would not have to.

As one of the nine final arbiters of American law he could vote to overturn long-standing decisions on abortion, affirmative action and religion -- with nothing to stop him except stare decisis , the legal principle that, for the sake of stability, courts should generally avoid undoing their past rulings.

But Alito's associates and independent legal analysts who know his record say a Justice Alito would be reluctant to use that power, even in such areas as abortion, in which the court's past rulings are most controversial.

'If he learned anything from me, he learned the value of stare decisis ,' said Judge Leonard I. Garth, a Nixon appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit for whom Alito, 55, served as a law clerk in 1976-77 -- and later joined as a colleague on the court.

But Garth added: 'If what you're thinking is 'Would Sam overrule Roe ?' -- he would not. He might have restrictions and limitations, but it is a precedent he'd honor. As a previous mentor and as a present colleague, I don't think he'll overrule it.'"

WaPo: Voter Anger Might Mean an Electoral Shift in '06

Voter Anger Might Mean an Electoral Shift in '06: "One year before the 2006 midterm elections, Republicans are facing the most adverse political conditions of the 11 years since they vaulted to power in Congress in 1994. Powerful currents of voter unrest -- including unhappiness over the war in Iraq and dissatisfaction with the leadership of President Bush -- have undermined confidence in government and are stirring fears among GOP candidates of a backlash.

Interviews with voters, politicians and strategists in four battleground states, supplemented by a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, found significant discontent with the performance of both political parties. Frustration has not reached the level that existed before the 1994 earthquake, but many strategists say that if the public mood further darkens, Republican majorities in the House and Senate could be at risk.

One bright spot for the Republicans is the low regard in which many Americans hold the Democrats. The public sees the Democrats as disorganized, lacking in clear ideas or a positive alternative to the GOP agenda, and bereft of appealing leaders. In the Post-ABC News poll, voters gave Washington low grades without favor: Just 35 percent said they approved of the job Republicans in Congress were doing, while only 41 percent gave a positive rating to the Democrats."

Democrats have got to get their act together. Now.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Daily Kos: Frank Rich on the manipulation of Pat Tillman

Daily Kos: Maccabee has a good summary of Frank Rich's column on Pat Tillman. Check it out.

E&P on NYTimes: Smoking Gun on Manipulation of Iraq Intelligence?

Smoking Gun on Manipulation of Iraq Intelligence? 'NY Times' Cites New Document: "Ever since the Democrats briefly closed the U.S. Senate from view earlier this week, to protest alleged Republican foot-dragging in probing Bush administration pre-war manipulation of intelligence, the press has been asking: So what new evidence do the Democrats have in this matter?

Tomorrow, in its print edition, The New York Times starts to answer the question, with reporter Douglas Jehl disclosing the contents of a newly declassified memo apparently passed to him by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It shows that an al-Qaeda official held by the Americans was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the basis for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002.

It declared that it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, 'was intentionally misleading the debriefers' in making claims about Iraqi support for al-Qaeda's work with illicit weapons, Jehl reports. " Chilling peek behind the scenes at the WH Bush's No.2 Cheney gives no quarter and plays for all the marbles (11/14/05): "Far from being chastened by recent setbacks, including the indictment of his chief of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney is thumbing his nose at his critics--and encouraging President Bush to do the same. 'Bush and Cheney are standing as one,' says a prominent Republican who regularly advises the White House. 'Their strategy is to get the conservative base solidified again, and Cheney is key because he is the administration's main link to the right.'

Cheney is described by White House insiders as combative and eager to rally the GOP faithful. As part of that effort, he will continue to ride the Republican fundraising circuit in advance of next year's midterm elections, as he did last Friday, headlining events in Cincinnati and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Behind the scenes, Cheney is feeding Bush's instinct never to give ground when under attack, White House advisers say, despite rising concern among Republicans that the president doesn't realize the depth of his political trouble. With Bush's job-approval ratings at historic lows, 52 percent of Americans think the indictment of Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby reflects broader ethics problems in the administration, according to a Washington Post/ABC News Poll."

The Fix at WaPo: Lautenberg injects some truth in bill naming

Hat tip to Mikevotes for pointing this out: "Lautenberg filed an amendment to change the official name of the 'Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act 2005' to the 'Moral Disaster of Monumental Proportion Reconciliation Act.'"

I'm one who's certainly disgusted by the Bush Administration method of spin, naming the environment-gutting act the "Clean Skies Initiative" et al. Lautenberg says the bill would "close the door of opportunity and cut critical services to the poor, elderly, sick and hungry." But that's never stopped the GOP before.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Plame gossip is back!!!

Born at the Crest of the Empire: Plame gossip is back!!!

Media Orchard: O'Reilly has the thinnest skin on TV

Media Orchard, by the Idea Grove: "O'Reilly's ire was stirred by Daniel Ruth's column, 'Bill O'Reilly's Lies, Lies, Lies Strike Again!' Ruth was irritated by O'Reilly's coverage of the decision by Hillsborough County schools to eliminate days off that coincide with three religious holidays.

Said O'Reilly in his 'Talking Points Memo' --

'I was attacked in the Tampa Tribune newspaper, called a liar in the newspaper and viciously smeared by the paper's far-left character assassin columnist.

Now, this disgraceful exhibition isn't unusual .. the far-left forces in the USA will say and do pretty much anything. But I'm holding Tampa Tribune publisher Gil Thelen, who is too cowardly to talk to us, personally responsible for this shameful course of events...

The anti-religious zealots in America have powerful allies in the media, and have succeeded in intimidating their opposition using vile tactics...Only you, the folks, can stop it.'"