Tuesday, August 5

"No Great Way To Die"

One man's firebomb is another man's napalm. This info just came out:

American jets killed Iraqi troops with firebombs – similar to the controversial napalm used in the Vietnam War – in March and April as Marines battled toward Baghdad.

Marine Corps fighter pilots and commanders who have returned from the war zone have confirmed dropping dozens of incendiary bombs near bridges over the Saddam Canal and the Tigris River. The explosions created massive fireballs.

"We napalmed both those (bridge) approaches," said Col. Randolph Alles in a recent interview. He commanded Marine Air Group 11, based at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, during the war. "Unfortunately, there were people there because you could see them in the (cockpit) video.

"They were Iraqi soldiers there. It's no great way to die," he added. How many Iraqis died, the military couldn't say. No accurate count has been made of Iraqi war casualties.

During the war, Pentagon spokesmen disputed reports that napalm was being used, saying the Pentagon's stockpile had been destroyed two years ago.

Apparently the spokesmen were drawing a distinction between the terms "firebomb" and "napalm." If reporters had asked about firebombs, officials said yesterday they would have confirmed their use.

What the Marines dropped, the spokesmen said yesterday, were "Mark 77 firebombs." They acknowledged those are incendiary devices with a function "remarkably similar" to napalm weapons.

In case you forgot the results of napalm - sorry - firebombs, this ought to refresh your memory:


FOX News Poll: Correction

Thanks to alert readers Rajiv and Kyle for correcting the FOX News poll info. The poll in this report was compared to information previous to 9/11. The info I received misinterpreted 08/01 as 8/1/03 - not 8/2001. My source attributes this mindfart to two things: never seeing a poll taken after a two-year hiatus, and wishful thinking.

George Tenet has taken full responsibility for this oversight. I still stand by him.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles


Carly Simon Sells Out

But it's for a good cause. From CNN:

Carly Simon will finally reveal who's so vain to a man with major connections in the media world -- should he ever decide to break his vow of secrecy.

But Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC sports and NBC Olympics, said he'll never tell once Simon divulges to him the subject of her 1972 song "You're So Vain" after a private performance in about two weeks. Ebersol won the information with a $50,000 bid in a charity auction; he also gets a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"It won't be hard to keep a secret," he said on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday morning.

Ebersol said Simon gave him one clue about the man's identity that she said he could reveal: He has the letter "e" in his name.

Well, that rules me out. I really don't care who it's about, so that puts me ahead $50k. I only care about the album cover which kept a lot of us guys not caring who was so vain.


Monday, August 4

It's Worse Than We Thought

The Guardian tells us the casualty count in Iraq is even higher than what's being reported:

US military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been more than twice the number most Americans have been led to believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media.

Since May 1, when President George Bush declared the end of major combat operations, 52 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire, according to Pentagon figures quoted in almost all the war coverage. But the total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher: 112.

The other unreported cost of the war for the US is the number of American wounded, 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom began.

Unofficial figures are in the thousands. About half have been injured since the president's triumphant appearance on board the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln at the beginning of May. Many of the wounded have lost limbs.

The figures are politically sensitive. The number of American combat deaths since the start of the war is 166 - 19 more than the death toll in the first Gulf war.

The passing of that benchmark last month erased the perception, popular at the time Baghdad fell, that the US had scored an easy victory.

In fact, the total death toll this time is 248 - including accidents and suicides - and as the number of non-combat deaths and serious injuries becomes more widely known, the erosion of public confidence is likely to continue, posing a threat to Mr Bush's prospects of re-election, which at the beginning of May had seemed a foregone conclusion.

Military observers say it is unusual, even in a "low-intensity" guerrilla war such as the situation seen in Iraq, for non-combat deaths to outnumber combat casualties.

God forbid somebody - ANYBODY in the American press would root this information out. But they're not interested in doing their jobs anymore. Investigative reporters just have to look for rat poop in restaurant basements to win their AP awards. It's a shame.

Starving Student Tip Of The...Uh...Er...

...okay so I don't do these or a regular basis. But take it from this ex-college freeloader - I got plenty of 'em that I unfortunately didn't discover until my advanced age. It's my moral obligation to pass along my wisdom - in both politics and gluttony - to a new generation.

Souplantation has locations in 15 states including California. One thing that's not on the all-you-can-eat menu is the Root Beer Float. Souplantation is one of those few places that actually has a soft-serve ice-cream dispenser and not that horrid nonfat frozen yogurt. Half a glass of Barq's Root Beer, top it off with the ice cream, voila. It's the same thing which costs like $2.49 at Denny's - and it's all you can drink to boot.

These soup/salad/pasta/carbo-load places also generally have New England Clam Chowder. My pals Alan and Todd suggest you grab one of the cups of butter over at the bread station and drop it into the chowder for authentic Boston chowder.

You're welcome. And tell your cardiologist I said "Hey" when/if you get to my age.

Another Waste Of A Blogger's Time

Access Hollywood sends this along:

Britney Spears just about bares it all for the September issue of British Elle, wearing nothing but the shortest shorts imaginable, unless you also count the jewels in her pierced belly button.

And you probably expect me to put one of the pictures on this site. Well, this is a political site, dammit. There's no time or space for this sort of thing here.

This is a forum for solid stoic political discourse. Not some exploitative outpost of gossipy crap like a near-naked pop star.

You'd think Access Hollywood would know better than to cheapen this exchange of ideas with their celebrity hype.

Case Closed.

Okay. Here.



Show of hands. How many saw this coming like a deer caught in the headlights of the Indy 500?

Knowing When To Bail

If I were Colin Powell, I'd make sure I didn't have to go through another four years of fabricating excuses for war and pissing off our allies either. The Washington Post reports:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his deputy, Richard L. Armitage, have signaled to the White House that they intend to step down even if President Bush is reelected, setting the stage for a substantial reshaping of the administration's national security team that has remained unchanged through the September 2001 terrorist attacks, two wars and numerous other crises.

Armitage recently told national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that he and Powell will leave on Jan. 21, 2005, the day after the next presidential inauguration, sources familiar with the conversation said. Powell has indicated to associates that a commitment made to his wife, rather than any dismay at the administration's foreign policy, is a key factor in his desire to limit his tenure to one presidential term.

Now, the scary part of this scenario as the story continues:

Rice and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz are the leading candidates to replace Powell, according to sources inside and outside the administration. Rice appears to have an edge because of her closeness to the president, though it is unclear whether she would be interested in running the State Department's vast bureaucracy.

Sunday, August 3

From the Pen of: Pat Oliphant


First The Good News, Mr. President...

CRAWFORD, Texas (Los Angeles Times)— President Bush is in excellent health and "fit for duty," his doctors said Saturday, adding that all data from Bush's annual physical "suggest that he will remain so for the rest of his presidency."

Now the bad news: The prognosis is only until January, 2005...

Saturday, August 2

What's That Smell?

Oh. Just the usual stench coming out of the White House. Nothing to see here. Move along...


Saudi Government Provided Aid to 9/11 Hijackers, Sources Say
By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 2, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The 27 classified pages of a congressional report about Sept. 11 depict a Saudi government that not only provided significant money and aid to the suicide hijackers but also allowed potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to flow to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups through suspect charities and other fronts, according to sources familiar with the document.

One U.S. official who has read the classified section said it describes "very direct, very specific links" between Saudi officials, two of the San Diego-based hijackers and other potential co-conspirators "that cannot be passed off as rogue, isolated or coincidental."

Said another official: "It's really damning. What it says is that not only Saudi entities or nationals are implicated in 9/11, but the [Saudi] government" as well.

------------------------------------

Some U.S. officials disagree sharply over whether key members of the Saudi royal family knowingly took action to support terrorist activity or simply showed a pattern of what one official called "willful ignorance."

------------------------------------

However one interprets the 27 pages, all who have read them agreed on one thing: If they are made public, they will prove extremely embarrassing not only to the Saudi government but also to the U.S. government, particularly to the FBI for missing so many clues pointing to Riyadh and for not aggressively investigating them, sources said.

"If this comes out, it will blow the top off the relations with [the Saudi] government because the American people will just be outraged," said one source familiar with the report.

"People don't know how much is in there and how specific it is," the source said. "The public hasn't gotten anywhere near the meat of it."

Time To Screw Around

Okay. Enough politics. Let's fly a helicopter.

Cockburn - Call Him Freakin' Nostradamus

Actor Alan Koss, one of the barflys on Cheers, sent this to me - a September 13, 2001 commentary by Alexander Cockburn. If Cockburn ever gives you a tip on a horse or an NFL team, bet the house on it. His predictions were probably dismissed as being too cynical at the time. I didn't notice. I was too busy freaking out. Today, it's almost as if the administration got some ideas from him. Not his intention, I guarantee.

The Next Casualty: Bill of Rights?
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

September 13, 2001

Tuesday's onslaughts on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are being likened to Pearl Harbor. The comparison is just. The attacks were near miracles of logistical calculation, timing, execution and devastation inflicted on the targets.

There may be another similarity. The possibility of a Japanese attack in early December 1941 was known to U.S. naval intelligence and to President Roosevelt. On Tuesday, derision at the failure of U.S. intelligence was widespread. The Washington Post quoted an unnamed top official at the National Security Council as saying, "We don't know anything here. We're watching CNN too." Are we to believe that the $30-billion annual intelligence budget, immense electronic eavesdropping capacity, thousands of agents around the world, produced nothing in the way of a warning?

In fact, the editor of the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, said he heard three weeks ago that Osama bin Laden, now the prime suspect, planned "very, very big attacks against American interests."

--------------------------------------

The targets abroad will be all the usual suspects—the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, who started off as creatures of U.S. intelligence. The target at home will be the Bill of Rights.

--------------------------------------

Tuesday did not offer a flattering exhibition of America's leaders. President Bush gave a timid and stilted initial reaction in Sarasota, Fla., then disappeared for an hour before resurfacing in at a base in Barksdale, La., where he gave another flaccid address with every appearance of being on tranquilizers. He was then flown to a bunker in Nebraska, before someone finally had the wit to suggest that the best place for the U.S. president at time of national emergency is the Oval Office.

--------------------------------------

"Freedom," said Bush in Sarasota, "was attacked this morning by a faceless coward." That properly represents the stupidity and blindness of almost all of Tuesday's mainstream political commentary. By contrast, the commentary on economic consequences was informative and sophisticated. Worst hit: the insurance industry. Likely outfall in the short term: higher energy prices, a further drop in global stock markets. Bush will have no trouble in raiding the famous lock-box, using Social Security trust funds to give more money to the Defense Department.

Three planes are successfully steered into three of America's most conspicuous buildings and America's response will be to put more money in missile defense as a way of bolstering the economy.

Update

As Uday and Qusay were being buried, one more soldier was killed in Iraq. The soldier killed Friday was the 52nd to die in combat in Iraq since President Bush declared major fighting over on May 1. So far, 167 soldiers have died in the Iraq War, 20 more than during the 1991 Gulf War.

(Al-Jazeera reported that another U.S. soldier died Saturday morning in an attack north of the capital, but the military said it had no details on the incident.)
Source: CBSNews.com


Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic

Friday, August 1

WELCOME Buzzflash Readers

One of my kicky-feet rants ended up in today's Buzzflash. Now I'm gonna get some real visitors here. I better clean up the place...

Well, Seeing As How No One ELSE Lost Their Job Over This...

Hey! Anyone else want to finally step up to the plate? Apparently, you'll also get lob pitches and ultimately an intentional walk.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said she feels "personal responsibility" for the flap over President Bush's State of the Union address, which included a discredited claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium from Africa.

After Two Years, The Media Slap Themselves Awake

We wacky folks in the blogosphere caught this the minute it was said, but it went generally unnoticed by the mainstream press. Until now, that is. Newsday discusses how our expectations from our president are so diminished, we gave him passes on his latest round of lying. It only took two weeks this time. Business is picking up:

On July 14, during a joint Oval Office news conference with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Bush was asked why he made the uranium assertion even though U.S. intelligence agencies had questioned its accuracy.

Bush replied that the CIA had cleared the speech, then added: "The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."

The last sentence in that sequence simply can't be squared with the record of what happened in Iraq. In fact, the inspectors re-entered Hussein's domain in November after a four-year absence, quickly expanded their operations and worked until the eve of the U.S. invasion in March.

You could say that the inspectors were able to return only because of intense U.S. pressure, that they made no breakthroughs, and that they sometimes complained about a lack of Iraqi cooperation. All those statements would be right. But you couldn't say, as Bush did, that Hussein never let them in at all - not if you wanted to stay on the fair side of the truth.

-------------------------------------

Norman Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, agrees that Bush's history of malaprops have so lowered public expectations that he can commit a gaffe with little fallout. But he adds that questions of credibility strike directly at Bush's greatest political strength - his reputation as a straight shooter.

"The question is, when does that image slip, and then everything, no matter how small, becomes a big deal," he said. "We're not there yet. But now for the first time there's some tarnish out there."

"For the first time"? NOOO. You guys are just finally noticing for the first time. There's a difference.

It might do you good to LISTEN TO US once in a while. Check this site and the links in the sidebar on a daily basis. We're desperately trying to tell you stuff here.

Well, Then Let's Recall President You-Know-Who

We tried to keep this nasty little California recall thing to ourselves. Unfortunately, some alert members of the press (and there ARE some out there) are blabbing it to the nation. Paul Krugman in today's NYT lets the cat out...

State of Decline

From smog to silicon, from the sexual revolution to the tax revolt, the future has usually arrived in California first. Now the Golden State is degenerating into a banana republic. Can the nation be far behind?

The recall isn't just a case of hardball politics. It's also a grand act of evasion: in the face of a severe fiscal crisis, voters are being invited to focus not on hard choices but on personality. Replacing Gray Davis with someone more likable isn't going to pay the bills.

Thanks to the end of the tech boom and the bursting of the tech bubble — with an assist from energy price gouging — California's budget has plunged into deficit. State and local governments faced with deficits normally respond with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. That's what Mayor Michael Bloomberg has done in New York, it's what Gov. Pete Wilson did in California's last fiscal crisis, in the early 1990's, and it's what Mr. Davis proposed earlier this year.

But California's Constitution requires that budgets be passed in the State Legislature by a two-thirds' margin — which gives the Republican minority blocking power. And that minority has refused either to vote for any tax increase, or to make realistic proposals for spending cuts.

-------------------------------

...is Washington any better than Sacramento?

Outside the Social Security system, the federal government is now running a deficit equal to a third of its spending — worse than California. If the federal government isn't in crisis, that's only because — unlike state governments — it isn't obliged to balance its budget each year. And so far bond markets have been willing to give the feds the benefit of the doubt.

But the people now running the country are every bit as irresponsible as those blocking a serious response to California's crisis. And sooner or later that irresponsibility will have the usual consequences. California, here we come.

Thursday, July 31

From the Pen of: Doug Marlette


Vote Yes On The Recall. Then The Hard Part Begins

From the San Jose Mercury News:

Even as the parties planned strategy, the field of potential replacement candidates for Davis mushroomed: To date, a total of 123 Californians have taken out papers to run for governor in the recall, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

Let's see...123 candidates at the $3500 registration fee a pop...

We're gonna kill the state deficit on the wackos running for the office alone.

Update

Two more soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished," 51 U.S. troops have died from hostile fire. A total of 165 American troops have been killed since the war in Iraq began in March.


Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic

Wednesday, July 30

Sarsstock

The Toronto Star is providing constant online coverage of the 11-hour Downsview Park concert, culminating in a performance by the Stones. Check the photo gallery here. MuchMoreMusic has updated video clips.

Remember the days when MTV used to be all over events like this? Their website is completely dead on this concert. Nothing.


Actors Dan Ackroyd (left) and Jim Belushi perform with their band Have Love Will Travel early in the afternoon.

Must-See TBTM

The latest from Blah3.com and Symbolman at Take Back The Media: "One Man's Army".

From the Pen of: Jeff Parker

Just about every cartoon about Bob Hope is along this same vein, but I still like this one the best...


The First Blog?

Maybe not, but it's the website that got me hooked on daily web entries back in 1995. It's been archived. To me, it's historic - and a riot. The Loser Living Upstairs.

Take Responsibility! (The "News Conference")

Bush is having one of his petulant press conferences right now. How many times is he going to invoke the phrase "which started in March of 2000" when he talks about the economy? Using that logic, Clinton's tenure represents only nine out of 40 months since this economic cycle's been in trouble. Bush also blamed corporate greed (!), war, unemployment and the boogeyman - most of which were created by Bush himself.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, GEORGE. Be a big boy and accept your responsibility for the 31 months you've been driving the economy into the toilet.

The reporters always feel the need to soften their questions to accomodate Bush's feelings. "Mr. President, the world is so much better with Saddam Hussein out of power! But some people say there's no post-war plan..." or "The economy seems to be on the upswing, but how do you answer critics who say..." etc.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY, NEWSPEOPLE. Do your jobs and ask the hard questions. God knows there's enough of 'em out there. And ask them first-person. Show some guts for once in your useless lives.

And wait a minute...was this whole charade staged? He just pointed to a reporter and said, "You have a Liberia question?" She did. Either he's a master mindreader or...yeah...all the questions have been screened in advance.

I'm shutting this crap off.

Darrell Issa: Pillar of Virtue

When Democrats fib, it's cannon fodder for talkshows and Republicans. When Republicans fib, it's time for all of us to just move on.

This is the continuing mindset as the LA Times this morning takes recall creator and now gubernatorial candidate Rep. Darrell Issa apart on a big ol' pile of his claims. Just a few examples:

Issa, who served two stints in the military, first as an enlisted man and later as an officer, has said that he was an Army computer research and development specialist. In a 1995 interview, he said that as an officer he had spent four years in the New Mexico desert perfecting electronic warfare techniques that were later used in the 1991 Gulf War.

His military records, however, list Issa's postings during that period as Ft. Riley, Kan., and Ft. Ord, Calif. Those records and Issa's 1980 Army separation form make no mention of computer training or computer specialty.

------------------------------------------

During his 1998 campaign for the Senate, at a time when he was trying to link his candidacy to the legacy of former president Richard Nixon, Issa's campaign literature said he had been a member of Nixon's security detail.

Issa had previously claimed attendance at the 1971 World Series as part of Nixon's security. Records show that Nixon did not attend the 1971 World Series, said Susan Naulty, archivist at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.

In recent comments to The Times, Issa has stood by his claim of having served on Nixon's security detail, but has sidestepped the World Series claim, which has not been repeated in the current campaign.

------------------------------------------

Issa has often recalled his rags-to-riches rise in the business world. Issa's campaign Web site touts an achievement that seems to symbolize his story: "In 1994, Inc. Magazine recognized Darrell Issa as Entrepreneur of the Year."

In fact, Issa has never won the prestigious national award. The founders of Outback Steakhouse took the magazine's top "Entrepreneur of the Year" honors in 1994.

------------------------------------------

On Jan. 16, 1973, Issa pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of possession of an unregistered gun. A magistrate fined him $100, put him on probation and ordered him to pay $107 in court costs. At the time, Issa was a student at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich. The arrest was first reported by the Adrian Daily Telegram on July 16.

Asked earlier this month about that arrest, Issa told a Times reporter that the gun was an "unloaded, never-fired, in-the-box, little teeny pistol" and said it wasn't his, although he declined to say whose it was.

Public records obtained by The Times show that when arrested, Issa was carrying a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol with seven bullets in its ammunition clip, as well as 44 bullets and a tear-gas gun.

And how does Issa respond to being caught in repeated lies?

"If there was any mistake on any bio, I wish somebody would point it out to me so we can clarify what is a small, honest error."

Uh-huh...

"That's from something years before, from a misquote, er, you know, interpretation, years before I even ran for office."

Okay...we know it's coming...

"There are details and details and details that have been used against me that are minutiae."

Yeah, yeah...c'mon. It's here somewhere...

"Gray's job is to get you to ask 30-year-old questions. If you want to be a shill for Gray Davis' opposition questions, go ahead. We've moved on."

YES!!! THERE IT IS! IT'S GRAY DAVIS' FAULT THAT ISSA WAS CAUGHT LYING!

Silly me. I was afraid ol' Darrell was veering off-message.

Tuesday, July 29

From the Pen of: Jack Ohman


Got 'Em On The Run! Smokin' 'Em Out!

Our president sure put the smackdown on al Qaeda, didn't he? Those completed missions in Afghanistan and Iraq certainly took care of those horrible people, by gum. They'll never disrupt our way of life again! They're in a state of disarray! They're running for the hills! They're...

Wait a minute. This just in...

Al Qaeda Planning More Hijackings, Officials Warn
By Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writer

U.S. officials said yesterday that they have learned of credible threats of possible new airline suicide hijackings by terrorists planned for the latter part of the summer.

The information was developed in recent interviews with one or more high-level al Qaeda captives and corroborated separately by other means, including electronic intercepts, officials said. They described the possible scenarios as similar to the hijackings of four U.S. airliners on Sept. 11, 2001, that were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania.

"The U.S. intelligence community has received information related to al Qaeda's continued interest in using commercial aviation here in the United States and abroad to further their cause," said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe. "The Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory regarding this information over the weekend to the appropriate airline and security personnel."

Never mind.

Monday, July 28

Ya Just Gotta Love The Guy

The Howard Dean campaign just completed a challenge pledge drive. Since Dick Cheney was going to raise 1/4-million dollars at a $2000-a-plate luncheon today, Dean's folks wanted to match that with their own online fundraiser. It started Friday with tonight at midnight ET as the cutoff.

Before the good news, here's Dean at HIS fundraising luncheon today:



...billed as his $3-a-plate turkey sandwich fundraiser. Bet he enjoyed his day a lot more than Cheney enjoyed his.

The weekend proved to be beyond their wildest dreams, raking in an astounding $507,150 at the stroke of midnight. Congratulations to the entire team for their innovation. Check out the Howard Dean Blog for more details.

And The List Grows

Arianna Huffington held a party for roughly 65 of her closest friends the other night (Gee...65? Why, that's the same number of signatures you need plus $3500 to get your name on the ballot!) to discuss her entry into the California gubernatorial recall election (Gee, I hate when I foreshadow myself like that). From Salon.com:

It's not official yet, but she's off and running. That was the message at Arianna Huffington's home in posh Brentwood, Calif., on Sunday afternoon, where several dozen political activists and advisors gathered to hear the author and Salon columnist make her case for jumping into the race to recall California Gov. Gray Davis. The only thing that would keep Huffington out of what is shaping up as an electoral free-for-all would be the sudden entry of a major Democratic rival to Davis -- and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the only likely such 800-pound gorilla, is still rejecting entreaties to rescue the party from the rapidly melting Davis.

"If Feinstein runs, I won't," Huffington told the Sunday gathering. "This campaign is to win, not to be a spoiler and hand the state over to the Republicans."

Arianna has become one of the good guys over the last couple of years. And with her monetary clout, she could be a pretty decent candidate - especially if she ends up running against Leon Panetta.

I really have no pithy comment here. And I'll probably completely flatline when all the candidates are finally announced. But I'm standing by my prediction that this recall business is going to be more bizarre than anyone imagined.

From the Pen of: Steve Benson

Steve's on a roll.


"News"

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. troops sifting through the wreckage of the house in Mosul where Saddam Hussein's two sons were killed found Uday Hussein's briefcase, which contained $400,000 in U.S. currency and 30 million Iraqi dinars, or about $21,400.

Uday's briefcase also contained Viagra, a condom, packaged underwear, shirts, cologne and a "tacky tie," according to a government source familiar with the inventory.

How the Recall Vote is Gamed

It took Ryan Somma, a Virginian, to do the math and show the world how Gray Davis can win the recall vote and still lose the election. It's a travesty of democracy. Ryan sent this to Media Whores Online:

The vote will be a Yes/No on "Do you want Davis recalled?"

If you vote "Yes", you will then be allowed to choose from a list of candidates that includes anyone with $3500 and 65 signatures. This will be a big list.

Now let's say 55% of the voting public says "Yes" (and 45% say "No"), giving a majority to the recall of Gray Davis. Then let's say this "majority" goes on to vote for who they want to replace Davis like so:

54% - Tom
27% - Dick
13% - Harry
5% - Jane

Tom wins. Even though the 45% of voters who chose "No" on the recall were prevented from choosing the new governor. This is because a "No" vote on the recall will not be the same as voting FOR Gray Davis, which is the intention of a "No" vote (Voting against recalling Gray Davis is the same as a vote of confidence in him). If a "No" vote were the same as voting for Davis, the percentages would break down like so:

45% - Gray Davis
30% - Tom
15% - Dick
7% - Harry
3% - Jane

The Republicans, after buying an October California election, have now rigged that election in court so that their Second Place candidate will win. Critics have lauded the situation in California as proof that direct Democracy doesn't work, but there is nothing Democratic about what is happening there if the vote is rigged to ignore the true majority vote.

Confused? So are a lot of the farmers' market shoppers who signed the petitions, I'll bet.

And What Intelligence Is Only HE Privy To?

Remarkable. From the Toronto Star:

U.S. links Iraq war to 9/11 terror strike
Murky intelligence key: Wolfowitz

TIM HARPER
WASHINGTON BUREAU

Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has directly linked the war on Iraq to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, signalling another shift in Washington's defence of a conflict that continues to claim American lives.

Wolfowitz, in a series of interviews on U.S. television networks yesterday, appeared to ignore intelligence reports, which have discredited links between Iraq and Al Qaeda and the war on terrorism.

He sought to defend President George W. Bush's administration against charges that it had misled Americans on the threat posed by deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, saying the government cannot wait for "murky" intelligence to crystallize because it may be too late.

"The battle to secure the peace in Iraq is now the central battle on the war on terrorism," Wolfowitz said on Meet the Press.

"Stop and think, if in 2001, or in 2000, or in 1999, we had gone to war in Afghanistan to deal with Osama bin Laden, and we had tried to say it's because he's planning to kill 3,000 people in New York, people would have said, you don't have any proof of that," he said.

"I think the lesson of Sept. 11 is that you can't wait until proof after the fact.

"It surprises me sometimes that people have forgotten so soon what Sept. 11, I think, should have taught us about terrorism," he added.

"And that's what this is all about," he said.

And what was the proof of Iraq's handing over WMDs to al Qaeda before the fact?

(Short pause here to shrug your shoulders, grab your head and shake it several times)

Every day I'm handed proof that these people are insane.

Reg'lar Folks Come Through for Howard Dean

The Dean campaign had a lofty goal of raising enough money online to match a Bush-Cheney fundraiser by midnight tonight. How's it going?

This afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney will raise $250,000 from a handful of special interest contributors at a luncheon in Columbia, South Carolina. As of 11:30 am, 6,412 Americans have contributed $335,124.88 to the Dean Team v. Bush-Cheney Challenge.

I guess the phrase "beyond their wildest expectations" comes to mind...

Click here to join in.

Update

Since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished," 49 U.S. troops have died from hostile fire. A total of 243 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the war in Iraq began in March.


Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic

Sunday, July 27

God Help Us

There's been no connection made between Iraq and al Qaeda. None. Zero. Square root of cat litter. Not before the war. Not during the war. Not since the war allegedly ended. So where in God's name are over 1,000 people getting their information?

Newsweek Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. July 24-25, 2003. N=1,002 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"From what you've seen or heard in the news, do you believe that Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was harboring al Qaeda terrorists and helping them to develop chemical weapons, or not?"

Yes 72%
No 17%
Don't Know 11%

It's All Sounding Horribly Familiar

TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces early Sunday raided three farm houses in Saddam Hussein's ancestral hometown of Tikrit where officials said intelligence indicated Saddam's security chief -- or possibly the deposed dictator himself -- had recently been.

An official in Baghdad told CNN the security chief was not found at any of the locations and that no one was taken into custody.

Another U.S. military source, this one in Tikrit itself, told CNN the raids were based on reliable intelligence that Saddam likely had been at the farms before the raids.

The official told CNN the military believes it has Saddam "on the run," that he is in the Tikrit area and is changing his location every two to four hours.

Sounds like he's taking the Osama bin Laden tour. We were supposedly two-to-three hours behind him, too. Once upon a time, that is.

Points West: 1st Democrat Outside of Davis to Run

Points West is reporting that former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta has decided to run as a Democrat in the California recall election. This in spite of DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe's plea for Davis to be the sole Democrat. This sets up something a little, ah...smelly:

"I want the folks here in California to know that we are not going to have another Democrat on the ballot. I think that is the single biggest message I can give today. So if you're a California voter and you want to vote to recall Gray Davis, you are not going to have an option but a bunch of right-wing conservatives on the ballot," McAuliffe said.

Really, Terry, is that so? Sorry, but now the cat's out of the bag. Based on multiple conversations, PW has learned that these two Clinton buddies have been cooking up a plan to spook every other Dem out of the race early so that Panetta can implement his "white-horse" strategy when the time is, as one source said, "appropriate." Well, it will never be appropriate. A hardcore partisan beltway brawler is exactly the wrong prescription for what ails California. Any Panetta-brand outsider will drag the already polarized state government to new lows in non-cooperation, and Panetta himself would be the worst choice of all.

Even if Panetta were somehow to win, California's problems would become far worse, not better, on his watch. His autocratic White House ways ain't gonna fly with either the minority Republicans or the majority Dems. You think budget woes are bad? Try pitched battles that would make Davis giggle and blush. So Gang of Four, put your heads together and make a decision which of you will run, make that rough call to Terry, and Bill Clinton, and State Chair Art Torres -- and tell them to get Panetta out of this race. Now. Because if Panetta wins, we can kiss majority Democratic rule in the State of California goodbye, probably sooner rather than later. And if Panetta insists on running, then one of the Gang of Four better step into the fray anyway and save us from ourselves. Enjoy your legacy Leon, because we need a public servant to get us out this mess, not a DC-style partisan disaster.

Points West's Scott Moore been involved in California politics for over 10 years and claims to have received this info from within. Panetta writes what might be his first campaign speech in this morning's LA Times. Hey, at least we now have high drama on both sides. If all this is true, this is going to be even more insane than before. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 26

Quote THIS

"You might as well dissolve the CIA, hire a bunch of screenwriters, have the Department of Making Shit Up, and have that be our intelligence to go to war."
- Aaron McGruder (creator of "Boondocks") on "Real Life with Bill Maher"

The Nightly Count

To be a continuing tally...

Since the declaration of "Mission Accomplished," 48 U.S. troops have died from hostile fire. Fifty-seven have died in accidents and what the Pentagon calls "nonhostile" incidents.

A total of 242 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the war in Iraq began in March.

You Vill Not Criticize Der President's Chicken Legs!

Ah, the land of the free. Free to poke fun at Dubya's physique, and free to get canned for it. Famous Amos sent this:

Musician banned from bookstore after criticizing Bush's legs
By the Associated Press

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- A Borders Books & Music store has banned a Baltimore singer-songwriter from performing there after she made an unflattering comment about President Bush's physique during a concert at the store last week.

Julia Rose, who is also a fitness advocate, told the audience, "George Bush has chicken legs. He needs to pump some iron."

Rose said she has made the same comment at other Borders stores.

"In fact, the audience in Fredericksburg laughed when I said this," she told The Free Lance-Star newspaper. "The reaction was nothing different than typical crowds I've had."

Amy Korsun, area marketing manager for the Michigan-based bookstore chain, confirmed Wednesday that Rose has been banned from performing at the Fredericksburg store. She said Rose will be allowed to continue playing at other Borders stores in Virginia. She declined to say why Rose was banned from the Fredericksburg store.

Rose said she's mystified by the reaction.

"I never said anything about Bush being a bad president or anything," she said. "I was just poking fun at his scrawny frame."

Bill Maher Destroys the Recall

Man, it warms my heart to see the non-right finally free to open their mouths, take names and kick serious ass. On last night's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Bill took the California gubernatorial recall apart from hair to toenail. (My transcript, so forgive any rushed misspelingz)

New Rule: NO DO-OVERS!

Once you elect an official, unless he runs off with public funds or gets caught with kiddie porn, you're stuck with him. He's the governor. Not some dude you married in Las Vegas.

What is going on here in California (if you're lucky enough NOT to be following this) is that the economy turned, so we're getting rid of the governor. But what if we drive him from office and the economy still doesn't get better? I guess we'll have to burn him. And if that doesn't work, then we'll kill his dog.

Yes, in baseball, when the team stinks, you fire the manager. But you don't fire him because it rains, and you don't fire him between innings - and replace him with a Viennese weightlifter.

Here's why the economy turned:

The dot-com bubble burst. Obviously on the orders of Gray Davis.

The airline industry collapsed, just as Gray Davis planned.

We fought two wars overseas, playing right into Gray Davis' hands.

And Dick Cheney's friends at Enron gamed the energy market and ripped the state off for billions. So you can see the problem. Gray Davis.

And the obvious solution: a Viennese weightlifter. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger - finally, a candidate who can explain the administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German.

Not that I'm saying I love Gray Davis. Being enthusiastic about Gray Davis would be like saying your favorite food is straw. But he fought for his country in Vietnam and won a fair election and he's entitled to his term. Maybe he's a crappy governor, but he was the one elected by the voters who bothered to show up at the polls. Their efforts should not be undone by disgruntled shoppers signing a petition on their way out of Target.

Look, there's still a lot of Democrats with sour grapes over the last presidential election, but they're not collecting petitions to replace George Bush with Bernie Mac.

So while we're trying to export representative democracy to Baghdad, it's time we started believing it in Brentwood - because THAT, My Fellow Americans, is what Jessica Lynch was fighting for!

I can't replicate his delivery here, nor can I insert the wild applause which greeted each point. If you get HBO, watch and wish that the rest of California is watching with you.

Friday, July 25

Look Who's Desecrating the Flag

Dear God, how does he get away with it?


President Bush signs American flags for workers at Beaver Aerospace and Defense after speaking about jobs and economic growth in Livonia, Michigan, Thursday, July 23, 2003.

Section 8 Part (g) of the U.S. Code:
The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

Do I need to ask the obvious question - if Clinton or any other Democrat did this, how fast would it be the lead in tomorrow's papers?

Forget I asked. A stupid question.

Howard Dean Kicks the Crap Out Of Dubya

It's no secret I'm a supporter of Howard Dean for president. It's also no secret that the "moderate" Democrats don't like the guy because he's not, well...Republican enough. And even less of a secret is that the Democrats in general have been accused of not having a message.

Dean has a message today - and damn, it rocks. He takes Bush and Company to the woodshed and walks away with bloody fists in this missive at his blog site titled "The President Has Misled Us". And baby, it ain't just Iraq.

It's the economy, education, homeland security, health care, the environment, AmeriCorps and national service, veterans' affairs, housing and agriculture.

If anybody has become disenfranchised over what this country has turned into, read this immediately. If you know anyone who asks what Dean is all about, have them read it.

This is the guy who must run and debate these thugs in 2004.

From the Pen of: Don Wright


Finally. Salon Gets It Right.

Salon.com debunks the Howard Dean-George McGovern connection made by the nitwits of the DLC - going so far as to refering to said nitwits as "the conservative wing of the Democratic Party":

Now that Dean is capturing the party's imagination on his own terms, the DLC is crying foul. And From and Reed are using every available opportunity to whack the former governor of Vermont. By their statements over the past two months, From and Reed have shown that the few years their group has spent in the electoral wilderness since the Clinton administration have intensified a process that had already begun in the late '90s: turning the DLC into just another interest group clamoring to have its agenda considered uppermost and its favorite sons promoted, irrespective of any concerns about winning elections.

The group is losing sight of the larger narrative, and assisting its real opposition by attacking Dean. Already, the McGovern-peacenik-Democratic-weakness charge is spreading from DLC articles into the mouths of Republican critics, except the DLC charge is creating a blowback that will damage all Democrats..."

Uh-Huh. We Sure Did It Again

No sooner did I post "How Much Is Too Much" than I saw this:

Arabs Shocked by TV Images of Saddam's Sons
Reuters
Friday, July 25, 2003; 2:17 PM


DUBAI (Reuters) - Televised images of the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons shocked many Arabs on Friday, who said it was un-Islamic to exhibit corpses, however much the brothers were loathed.

Arab and international networks showed the bodies identified as Uday and Qusay, laid out at the makeshift airport morgue, their faces partly rebuilt to repair wounds.

"Although Uday and Qusay are criminals, displaying their corpses like this is disgusting and repulsive. America claims it is civilized but is behaving like a thug," Saudi civil servant Saad Brikan, 42, told Reuters in Riyadh.

Another civil servant Hasan Hammoud, 35, said: "America always spoils its own image by doing something like this. What is the advantage of showing these bodies? Didn't they think about the humanitarian aspect? About their mother and the rest of their family when they see these images?"

The brothers died on Tuesday after U.S. forces lay siege to the villa in northern Iraq where they were hiding.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he ordered their bodies to be shown to convince frightened Iraqi's that Saddam's reign was truly over.

But prominent Saudi cleric Mohsen al-Awajy said: "This has been a dirty war from the beginning and it is difficult for us to find any morals or dignity in the middle of this.

"The Americans want to show the Iraqis that they are achieving their goals...There was no need to show the bodies."

He said while under Islam the bodies should be treated with sanctity, Iraqis would not forget that Uday and Qusay had committed vicious crimes against them.

"We shouldn't forget the pain of the Iraqis. These are just two casualties, and it would be better if their graves were kept secret, otherwise the Iraqis will attack their graves."

Mohammad Emara, an Egyptian Islamist scholar, told Al Jazeera television that displaying the bodies publicly was against Islamic Sharia law.

"Under Islamic law this is rejected. America wanted to boost the morale of its soldiers so it resorted to this illegal act which is denounced by all religions.

"America said during its war on Iraq that displaying pictures of its soldiers who were alive was against the Geneva convention so what about pictures showing disfigured bodies?"

Yay, us. Cripes.

How Much Is Too Much?

I've been wrestling with this whole deal of showing the corpses of Uday and Qusay Hussein all over the media. On one hand, it's "Okay, great. They're dead." On the other hand, it's at the very least ghoulish how the media are waving these images around like aerial banners.

Here's not only a great perspective, but a dimension which seemingly never occurred to the decision-makers here by Blah3.com:

Today, video?

Now the government is releasing video of Saddam's dead sons, since the pictures released yesterday didn't sufficiently convince Iraqis. I am beyond belief here. Those 'grave reservations' that everyone had yesterday don't seem to exist today. That particular line has been breached once and for all, I guess.

What are they going to do tomorrow - Throw the bodies on a truck and drive them around Baghdad? This is beyond ghoulish, and it shows a certain level of desperation in the administration.

And it looks like one of the brothers was shaved of his beard - a big no-no in the Islamic world.

Oopsie daisy. Uncanny how we can take one of the few shining moments of this sloppy war and turn it into a public relations (and security) debacle - again?

Thursday, July 24

October 7th: The Electoral Process Gets Overturned - Again

With enough money, flying in enough petition gatherers (paid a buck a signature), and using enough chutzpah, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Goofyville) has created his own gubernatorial campaign in a non-election year. The recall of Governor Gray Davis garnered enough signatures to have this election which is set for October 7th.

The Republicans just keep finding ways to usurp the process - squashing it and shaping it to what they think is their benefit. They did it in 2000, and here we go again. But it just might backfire on them...if there's anything resembling justice.

See, they're trying to make California a republican state, no matter what. They're trying so hard to make it a red state, they've run out of crayons. The recall process was designed if an elected official was involved in high crimes and misdemeanors. Unfortunately, Davis was involved. Not guilty, but involved. He was the guy running the state which would have been savaged in a war scheme had 9/11 not happened. Read this (opens a new window) and it'll become crystal clear.

All that aside, the ballot is going to be a nightmare. It's a two-pronged ballot. Prong One will be the question asking if you want Davis out of office. Prong Two will be if so, who do you want as governor? Take a look at the choices:

Rep. Darrell Issa (the only declared candidate so far)
Bill Simon (Davis' opponent last year)
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Richard Riordan
Tom McClintock

Which means IF enough people vote against Davis in the first part of the election, one of the Republican candidates can conceivably take the helm of California with 21% of the Republican vote.

Even worse, if Issa remains the sole candidate or the front-runner, he becomes governor. Being the PR maniac I am, we'll sure look great to the rest of the country that one single schlub with enough money can take over an entire state.

Aside from repealing the tripled driver registration fees, I wonder what this guy plans to do to fix a state which was savaged by the greedy energy crooks who were among President Bush's biggest contributors. Tax cuts?

And if all of a sudden, loaves and fishes appear at our state's doorstep by Washington because we have a Republican governor, then we'll KNOW something stinks. Stay tuned.

The Doctor Is In

Not Howard Dean this time, but Hunter S. Thompson. He knows of bad conditions, having been through a few himself.

In this week's column at ESPN.com, he takes on sports...for about three lines. Then his old glory shines on the state of the union, Gonzo Style:

When I went into the clinic last April 30, George Bush was about 50 points ahead of his closest Democratic opponent in next year's Presidential Election. When I finally escaped from the horrible place, less than three weeks late, Bush's job-approval ratings had been cut in half -- and even down into single digits, in some states -- and the Republican Party was panicked and on the run. It was a staggering reversal in a very short time, even shorter than it took for his equally crooked father to drop from 93 percent approval, down to as low as 43 percent and even 41 percent in the last doomed days of the first doomed Bush Administration. After that, he was Bill Clinton's punching bag.

Richard Nixon could tell us a lot about peaking too early. He was a master of it, because it beat him every time. He never learned and neither did Bush the Elder.

But wow! This goofy child president we have on our hands now. He is demonstrably a fool and a failure, and this is only the summer of '03. By the summer of 2004, he might not even be living in the White House. Gone, gone, like the snows of yesteryear.

The Rumsfield-Cheney axis has self-destructed right in front of our eyes, along with the once-proud Perle-Wolfowitz bund that is turning to wax. They somehow managed to blow it all, like a gang of kids on a looting spree, between January and July, or even less. It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap War in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of Corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgiveable sin in America.

Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war Zone, our national Economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon's "war strategy" has failed miserably, nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by Mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg.

The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security, once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world.

The Stock Market will never come back, our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives.

The Bush family must be very proud of themselves today, but I am not. Big Darkness, soon come. Take my word for it.

DR. THOMPSON IS BACK WITH US NOW, AND READY TO RUMBLE. HE IS FREE OF THE HIDEOUS PAIN THAT HAS PLAGUED HIM AND HIS LOVED ONES SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL. BUT IT IS GONE NOW. THINGS HAVE CHANGED.

Welcome Back, Doc.

Tuesday, July 22

Bush Had One. Now Rice Has One.

Condoleezza's understudy takes her share of the blame.

Stephen Hadley, President Bush's deputy national security adviser, today became the second administration official to apologize for allowing a tainted intelligence report on Iraq's nuclear ambitions into Bush's State of the Union address.

Hadley, in a rare on-the-record session with reporters, said that he had received two memos from the CIA and a phone call from agency Director George Tenet last October raising objections to an allegation that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium ore from Africa to use in building nuclear weapons.

As a result, Hadley said the offending passage was excised from a speech on Iraq the president gave in Cincinnati last Oct. 7. But Hadley suggested that details from the memos and phone call had slipped from his attention as the State of the Union was being put together.

Wonder who Cheney and Rumsfeld will pick as their sword-jumpers?

Someone's Doing Their Job Out There

I've got to tip my brew to the troops who went into a battle against Udai and Qusai Hussein and came out victorious. Nobody in their right mind will feel any remorse for the demise of these two monsters. The stories which emerged solely from the Iraq Olympic athletes' treatment were horrific enough. Overall, we can be safe to say these guys won't be missed.

Will this lead to Daddy Dearest? And moreover, will it mean a diminishing of the resistance so we can HONESTLY say "Mission Accomplished" - and cease the use of daily body bags? We can hope...but please understand that while I'm glad this happened today, and even if we find Saddam, I still feel betrayed over our reasons for being there in the first place.

The troops today had no choice - they were fired on and they needed to fire back. But I hope that if our government still believes there are WMDs, they capture whoever knows where they are - alive.

Who's Unpatriotic Now?

Throughout this ugly episode known as Iraq War II, my whole concern was always why these guys who never participated in warfare (the Bush administration) were so intent on sending our troops into what we were told were the maws of death. Biological weapons, nukes, nerve gas...the very things that we were going to disarm Saddam of were no doubt going to be used on our guys. Hey, Saddam had nothing to lose once the gauntlet was thrown down by our president. I was downright scared for our soldiers.

That concern of Americans like-minded as myself was grossly misinterpreted as being anti-American and not supportive of our troops by the right. I've already taken up this foolish mindset earlier.

Paul Krugman of the NY Times takes up this issue, and adds to it the frightening administration outing and discrediting of a CIA operative - the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson - as a rather untidy defense of their sloppy actions.

Krugman asks who the real patriots are now in this great article.

And the war will have devastating effects on future recruiting by the reserves. A widely circulated photo from Iraq shows a sign in the windshield of a military truck that reads, "One weekend a month, my ass."

To top it all off, our insistence on launching a war without U.N. approval has deprived us of useful allies. George Bush claims to have a "huge coalition," but only 7 percent of the coalition soldiers in Iraq are non-American — and administration pleas for more help are sounding increasingly plaintive.

How serious is the strain on our military? The Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon, who describes our volunteer military as "one of the best military institutions in human history," warns that "the Bush administration will risk destroying that accomplishment if they keep on the current path."

But instead of explaining what happened to the Al Qaeda link and the nuclear program, in the last few days a series of hawkish pundits have accused those who ask such questions of aiding the enemy. Here's Frank Gaffney Jr. in The National Post: "Somewhere, probably in Iraq, Saddam Hussein is gloating. He can only be gratified by the feeding frenzy of recriminations, second-guessing and political power plays. . . . Signs of declining popular appreciation of the legitimacy and necessity of the efforts of America's armed forces will erode their morale. Similarly, the enemy will be encouraged."

Well, if we're going to talk about aiding the enemy: By cooking intelligence to promote a war that wasn't urgent, the administration has squandered our military strength. This provides a lot of aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden — who really did attack America — and Kim Jong Il — who really is building nukes.

Our troops are still dying while Saddam and bin Laden live on. This isn't brain suregery, folks. It's an outrage.

A Long Strange Trip

In the mood for some good reading? Here's the start of an essay by Katherine Yurika...

Fraud Traced to the White House
How California’s energy scam was inextricably linked to a war for oil scheme
By Katherine Yurica

This story begins with the California energy crisis, which started in 2000 and continued through the early months of 2001, when electricity prices spiked to their highest levels. Prices went from $12 per megawatt hour in 1998 to $200 in December 2000 to $250 in January 2001, and at times a megawatt cost $1,000.

One event occurred earlier. On July 13, 1998, employees of one of the two power-marketing centers in California watched incredulously as the wholesale price of $1 a megawatt hour spiked to $9,999, stayed at that price for four hours, then dropped to a penny. Someone was testing the system to find the limits of market exploitation. This incident was the earliest indication that the people and the state could become victims of fraud. The Sacramento Bee broke the story three years later, on May 6, 2001.

Today, Californians are still paying the costs of the debacle while according to state officials the power companies who manipulated the energy markets reaped more than $7.5 billion in unfair profits.

During those early months of the Bush administration, and even during the prior transition period, Dick Cheney was deeply involved in gathering information for a national energy policy. The intelligence he gathered would provide justification for a war against Iraq but would also place White House footprints all over a fraud scam. This is how it all happened.

What follows is an amazing and chilling series of events which places the current near-collapse of California fairly, squarely at the doorstep of the White House (namely its current tenants) with a lot of stops at cronies, backroom deals and a Middle East dictator on the way.

Essentially, California was being thrown under a truck as a reason for war - until September 11, 2001. Then the rationale changed. But California is still paying the price.

There are links to the supporting documents included in this story. Take a few minutes and absorb this. It'll change you.

As always, feel free to add your comments by clicking below.

Monday, July 21

The Trust Thing

Time/CNN Poll conducted by Harris Interactive. July 16-17, 2003. N=1,004 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

"Do you think George W. Bush is a leader you can trust, or do you have some doubts and reservations?"

Can Trust 47%
Have Doubts 51%
Not Sure 2%

Harry Shearer Gets It

Some time ago, I wrote an essay about the half-hearted attempts to launch liberal talk shows on TV and radio. You can read it here in a new window. In a nutshell, the feeble trials used underwhelming talent with little or no charisma and therefore, liberal radio was considered a flop.

The New York Times carries on this fairy tale today in an article titled "Why Liberals Are No Fun" - again using the examples of Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo, et al as classic left-wing failures. But there's a bright spot in the story.

Harry Shearer, give 'em the cold simple truth...

If showmen as shrewd as Mr. Ailes are rare, so are performers with the particular star quality suited to broadcast talk, says Harry Shearer, the liberal radio satirist ("Le Show"), "Simpsons" voice and Christopher Guest collaborator (most recently on "A Mighty Wind"). He argues that "based on sheer radio professionalism," even "a tribe of chimpanzees locked in a room would choose Rush Limbaugh over Jim Hightower," the Texas populist whose radio show has been an also-ran on the national charts.

"Hightower has a fine record as a left politician in Texas, which is not easy to do," Mr. Shearer says. "But he has a voice like a cat being wrung through a dryer at slow speed, and he has no show business chops. Rush Limbaugh didn't start in politics. He was Rusty Limbaugh, playing the top-40 hits. He learned the craft of broadcasting first."

Amen. Quite frankly, very few hosts on both sides don't pass my "have a beer with" test.

[ WARNING: BIG CONFESSION AND NAME-DROP HERE ]

I can actually speak firsthand that yes, I've broken bread with Limbaugh one-on-one back in the 90s, and he was a blast to hang out with. I'd like to think that Al Franken and Shearer fall into that category. Randi Rhodes probably would be a hoot with a couple of Red Stripes in 'er. But I can't fathom knocking back a few with Jim Hightower, Laura Ingraham, Mario Cuomo, Michael Savage or Jerry Brown without calling for a check after the first half of the bottle was gone.

I've always been a proponent of radio programmers using the beer test as part of their hiring process. Maybe radio would be a little more interesting if they did.

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger

God, I love this guy.


"Is President Bush Doing A Good Job?"

Answer the CNN Poll right now. Scroll down to the right for the poll.

If Saddam Had No Reason to Help al Qaeda Before the War...

...he does now. The mission ain't accomplished, Mr. Bush. A chilling thought from MSNBC.

Today the situation is changed. Hussein is alive but in hiding, and his alleged stocks of chemical or biological weapons or agents have not been found. Meanwhile, the president and other leaders have yet to mention publicly the intelligence assessment that Hussein may be a potentially bigger threat now than before the United States attacked.

In fact Bush, in his May 1 speech from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, appeared to take just the opposite position. "We have removed an ally of al Qaeda," Bush said. "No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime."

By the way, Osama bin Laden is still alive but in hiding as well. Well played, Mr. President.

I Always Got Explainin' To Do

Sometimes if a story jumps out at me, I'll e-mail it to some pals of mine. These eventually get distributed to their pals who will fire back some spirited comments.

The other day, one such story with my commentary (see it here in a new window) drew comments that went beyond spirited. An example:

It is obvious it reeks of Howard's bias/agenda. It seems to me the "Girlie/Men," generally don't know or more accurately ignore the truth within the situation. They always seem to give new meaning to "Bash America First! " I may be wrong, not knowing Howard, but I am certain he has "never been there and done that!" This is a perfect example of my feeling that you cannot support the Troops if you do not support the war. They are the good souls that are there and do not not need this small minded petty shit!

Cheap name-calling aside (funny how liberals are always accused of that by talk radio), I'll agree with the first half of that last line. But the thing they REALLY don't need is the "bring 'em on" taunting of the enemy by our president - another guy who just happened to have "never been there and done that."

Here's another comment, though in a more sarcastic vein:

I think we should bathe them, dress them in new uniforms, bring them over to the States, issue them rocket grenade launchers, a-k 47's, and turn them loose in the 50 most crowded malls across the country, say at about 2 in the afternoon when the malls are most crowded. By golly, that'll show the world how fair we Amerians (sp) are!

Here's my reply to them (via my pal who's patiently playing the middleman) and to all who can't do better than name-call or think beyond the blinders. I hope I speak for a lot of us who have to keep defending our patriotism while asking the important questions:

I'm sick of these instant experts telling me where I'm coming from or who I am...or whether or not I support the troops. My parents (especially my Dad who was a WWII veteran) taught me that everything in life is not in simple black and white. Everything, every aspect, every nuance is in the shades of gray in between.

They also taught me that these shades of gray mean there's nothing that is above questioning. I can support people while choosing to not support a concept and no one can tell me otherwise. It's not as cut and dried as some of the folks who went on a character assassination spree at my expense would like the world to believe. I have my values and they have theirs. Maybe I'm not right in their eyes, and someday they have to accept the fact that not everyone sees them as right either. No one...NO ONE will tell me what I believe or who I support except myself after I process all the given information. But seeing as how they lashed out here, my words will never mean a goddamn thing anyway.

I've completely maxed out on dealing with this bullcrap mindset. No, we shouldn't dress the captured guys in tuxedos and tutus. No, we shouldn't leave our kids unprotected. No, we shouldn't turn a blind eye to the evil around them. But yes, we should look at a lot of this through the same filter as the rest of the world will view it. Because right now, the U.S. and its leaders are not as well liked abroad AND here as they think. We have a serious, serious image problem and it's got to be fixed.

And to all your veteran pals, one word: Thanks. Thank you for fighting for my right to speak out when I feel the need. And lately, I've really felt the need. So have a lot of Americans.

Do we understand each other now?

Respect,
H

From the Pen of: Michael Ramirez

Sometimes, the wingnuts just self-immolate. Take neocon cartoonist Michael Ramirez in the Sunday LA Times.



...an attempted satire of the renowned Vietnam execution photo. My first reaction when I saw this Sunday morning was, "If you put Gray Davis in place of Bush in this, it's the same exact thing," since Ramirez has penned a number of diatribes against the California governor - currently the subject of a Republican recall.

I guess I was being 'way too charitable. Word is coming out that the Secret Service is more than slightly ticked off at Ramirez' toonatorial here. Drudge, of all people, reports:

A LOS ANGELES TIMES comic Sunday that graphically showed President Bush being held at direct gun-point has raised concerns within the Secret Service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"We take all images such as this very seriously," a top secret service source who requested anonymity said from Washington. "Regardless of the politics behind any speech, images of the president, such as this, raise concern."

I could take Ramirez to task for his sick thinking, but since I didn't catch it either, I'll work up a comment later about my own sick thinking. It's a subject I have firsthand knowledge of.

Sunday, July 20

CBS: CIA Workers Are Outraged

You might start adding the CIA - along with the families of the 3rd Infantry Division - to the list of folks who might not be voting for Bush-Cheney in '04:

Before the bombs fell on Baghdad, there were analysts inside the American intelligence community who were troubled by the U.S. case for war, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Raymond McGovern, a former CIA analyst and supervisor, says, "Never before in my 40 years of experience in this town has intelligence been used in so cynical and so orchestrated a way."

McGovern is one of several retired intelligence analysts who say they are speaking out for those who can't inside the CIA.

"The Agency analysts that we are in touch with are disheartened, dispirited, angry,” he says. “They are outraged."

Saturday, July 19

And the Sleeping Press Wakes Up Screaming



Welcome to all who linked to this story via BuzzFlash. Click HERE for the newest daily entries.

The Washington Post fires the next salvo: An unfounded White House claim which the CIA did NOT approve: The 45 Minute Launch Myth:

The White House, in the run-up to war in Iraq, did not seek CIA approval before charging that Saddam Hussein could launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes, administration officials now say.

The claim, which has since been discredited, was made twice by President Bush, in a September Rose Garden appearance after meeting with lawmakers and in a Saturday radio address the same week. Bush attributed the claim to the British government, but in a "Global Message" issued Sept. 26 and still on the White House Web site (link added by Hoffmania), the White House claimed, without attribution, that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack 45 minutes after the order is given."

The 45-minute claim is at the center of a scandal in Britain that led to the apparent suicide on Friday of a British weapons scientist who had questioned the government's use of the allegation. The scientist, David Kelly, was being investigated by the British parliament as the suspected source of a BBC report that the 45-minute claim was added to Britain's public "dossier" on Iraq in September at the insistence of an aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair -- and against the wishes of British intelligence, which said the charge was from a single source and was considered unreliable.

The White House embraced the claim, from a British dossier on Iraq, at the same time it began to promote the dossier's disputed claim that Iraq sought uranium in Africa.

Bush administration officials last week said the CIA was not consulted about the claim. A senior White House official did not dispute that account, saying presidential remarks such as radio addresses are typically "circulated at the staff level" within the White House only.

Virtually all of the focus on whether Bush exaggerated intelligence about Iraq's weapons ambitions has been on the credibility of a claim he made in the Jan. 28 State of the Union address about efforts to buy uranium in Africa. But an examination of other presidential remarks, which received little if any scrutiny by intelligence agencies, indicates Bush made more broad accusations on other intelligence matters related to Iraq.

For example, the same Rose Garden speech and Sept. 28 radio address that mentioned the 45-minute accusation also included blunt assertions by Bush that "there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq." This claim was highly disputed among intelligence experts; a group called Ansar al-Islam in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq and Jordanian Abu Musab Zarqawi, who could have been in Iraq, were both believed to have al Qaeda contacts but were not themselves part of al Qaeda.

The unraveling is happening. Is it too early to wonder if Dean (or whichever Democrat) will be running against Cheney - or even John Dennis Hastert - in 2004?

It Ain't Just The Molson

Discontented Americans consider Canada
By DAVID CRARY

NEW YORK (AP) -- For all they share economically and culturally, Canada and the United States are increasingly at odds on basic social policies -- to the point that at least a few discontented Americans are planning to move north and try their neighbors' way of life.

A husband and wife in Minnesota, a college student in Georgia, a young executive in New York. Though each has distinct motives for packing up, they agree the United States is growing too conservative and believe Canada offers a more inclusive, less selfish society.

“For me, it's a no-brainer,” said Mollie Ingebrand, a puppeteer from Minneapolis who plans to go to Vancouver with her lawyer husband and 2-year-old son.

“It's the most amazing opportunity I can imagine. To live in a society where there are different priorities in caring for your fellow citizens.”

For decades, even while nurturing close ties with the United States, Canadians have often chosen a different path -- establishing universal health care, maintaining ties with Cuba, imposing tough gun control laws. Two current Canadian initiatives, to decriminalize marijuana and legalize same-sex marriage, have pleased many liberals in the United States and irked conservatives.

New York executive Daniel Hanley, 31, was arranging a move for himself and his partner, Tony, long before the Canadian announcement about same-sex marriage. But the timing delights him; he and Tony now hope to marry in front of their families after they emigrate to British Columbia.

“Canada has an opportunity to define itself as a leader,” Hanley said. “In some ways, it's now closer to American ideals than America is.”

Dean: Screw 16 Words. Here are 16 Questions...

Democratic presidential candidate Governor Howard Dean delivered these remarks today at a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa:

"As the Niger uranium story has unfolded, what has become increasingly obvious is that there are many questions that must be answered about the way the Bush Administration led us to war, managed the conflict in Iraq, and failed to foresee the continuing resistance that our military is now confronting.

"We must be clear: decisions regarding war and peace are the most serious and solemn that a Commander-in-Chief is called upon to make. There are now fundamental questions about President Bush's leadership in taking us to war with Iraq.

"There has been much discussion about the 16 words included in the State of the Union address. Today I call on the President to answer these sixteen questions to ensure that the American people can retain their trust in their government and to help ensure that the United States can retain its credibility as a moral force in the world."

Read them here

"If you can't or won't answer these 16 questions, Mr. President, I call on the Republicans in Congress to stop blocking efforts to create an independent, bipartisan committee to investigate what is a matter of the highest importance: whether your decision to go to war was sound and just.

"The American public deserves answers to all of these questions. I urge you to lead with the honor and integrity that you promised as a candidate."

The Beat Goes On

From MSNBC:

A U.S. soldier was shot and killed guarding a bank in the capital on Saturday, while the new Iraqi governing council failed to choose a president — deciding instead it will not elect a single leader but opt for a three-member rotating presidency. Meanwhile, the U.S. military concluded two separate sweeps in and around Baghdad — arresting more than 1,200 people and seizing weapons, explosives and ammunition, the military said.

A U.S. soldier guarding a Baghdad bank died at about 2 a.m. Saturday outside the Al-Rasheed Bank in western Baghdad. The death brought to 149 the number of U.S. personnel killed in combat since the March 20 start of the war — two more than the 1991 Gulf War total for U.S. deaths in combat.

FAIR: "Uranium Lie Is Tip of the Iceberg"

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting reminds us all of the other exaggerations the press should be dwelling on. Is there really that much of a draught of imagination and investigative reporting in America's newsrooms that they need someone to point this out to them?

At minimum, the following assertions made by the Bush administration also deserve media scrutiny:

Aluminum tubes: In the State of the Union address and elsewhere, the White House has claimed that Iraq was seeking to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in processing uranium, tubes Bush said would be "suitable for nuclear weapons production." But a report in the Washington Post (9/19/02) months before Bush's address noted that leading scientists and former weapons inspectors seriously questioned the administration's explanation-- pointing out that the tubes, which would be difficult to use for uranium production, were more plausibly intended for artillery rockets. The Post also noted charges that the "Bush administration is trying to quiet dissent among its own analysts over how to interpret the evidence." Commendably, some reporters, like NBC's Andrea Mitchell (7/14/03), have questioned the aluminum tubes claim in recent reporting about Bush's State of the Union address.

Iraq/Al Qaeda links: When Bush announced the end of hostilities in Iraq in a May 1 speech aboard the USS Lincoln, he said of the defeated Iraqi regime: "We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda." While a Saddam Hussein/Osama bin Laden connection was one of the administration's early justifications for going to war, it has produced no evidence to demonstrate this link exists. There is evidence, however, that the administration was deeply invested in proving such a tie, as former Gen. Wesley Clark attested recently on Meet the Press (FAIR Media Advisory, 6/20/03). Yet media accounts of Bush's USS Lincoln speech hardly raised an eyebrow over this attempt to keep the Iraq/Al Qaeda link alive.

The trailers: Bush presented the discovery of two trailers in Iraq as proof that Iraq possessed banned weapons: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories," he told Polish TV (Associated Press, 5/31/03). "They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." But serious questions had been raised within the administration about whether these trailers had anything to do with biological weapons-- doubts that soon emerged in a New York Times article (6/7/03). No evidence has been put forward confirming that the trailers were designed for anything other than the production of hydrogen for artillery balloons, as captured Iraqis had said (London Observer, 6/8/03).

Weapons Inspections: More recently, Bush has flagrantly misrepresented the history of the prewar conflict with Iraq over weapons inspections, telling reporters on July 14, "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in." In fact, after a Security Council resolution was passed demanding that Iraq allow inspectors in, they were given complete access to the country. The Washington Post (7/15/03), describing Bush's remarkable statement, could only say that his assertion "appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring." Joe Conason (Salon.com, 7/15/03) took note of "the press corps' failure to report his stunning gaffe. The sentence quoted above doesn't appear in today's New York Times report, for example."

Powell's U.N. address: Some of the current reporting over the Niger uranium forgery notes that Colin Powell was less confident about the story, as evinced by the fact that he did not include the claim in his February 5 address to the United Nations. But Powell's speech had problems of its own. As pointed out by Gilbert Cranberg (Washington Post, 6/29/03), Powell embellished an intercepted conversation about weapons inspections between Iraqi officials to make it sound more incriminating, changing an order to "inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas" to a command to "clean out" those areas. He also added the phrase "make sure there is nothing there," a phrase that appears nowhere in the State Department's official translation. Further, Powell relied heavily on the disclosure of Iraq's pre-war unconventional weapons programs by defector Hussein Kamel, without noting that Kamel had also said that all those weapons had been destroyed (FAIR Media Advisory, 2/27/03).

Other pre-war deceptions: Even when administration deceptions have been exposed by prominent mainstream outlets, the media in general tend not to recall them or draw connections. In October 2002, in a notable front-page article titled "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" (10/22/02), Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank noted two dubious Bush claims about Iraq: his citing of a United Nations International Atomic Energy report alleging that Iraq was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon; and that Iraq maintained a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used, in Bush's words, "for missions targeting the United States." While these assertions "were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought," Milbank concluded they "were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States" and "there was no such report by the IAEA." But recent media discussions of Bush's credibility-- including in the Washington Post-- have rarely mentioned these examples.

From the Pen of: David Horsey


Damage Control

A new webtoon by Mark Fiore. Click the pic.


Testicular Fortitude and Comedy Relief!

They make a winning combination.

Police were called to a session of the House yesterday because there was an imminent threat of attack.

No, not by terrorists. Not the ones we think of anyway.

Democrat Pete Stark from California (yay, us!) made a verbal taunt at Republican Scott McInnis of Colorado. It kinda went like this:

Republicans said it was the Democrats who started it.

Stark "threatened me with physical harm," said Rep. Scott McInnis of Colorado, a Republican who sits on the committee.

"I think it was entirely appropriate for the chairman of the committee to call the sergeant at arms and the Capitol Police," McInnis said. "I considered that a bodily threat and I fully intended to defend myself. To calm this down -- that is why the chairman did that."

Rep. Kenny Hulshof, a Missouri Republican who sits on the committee, read what he described as a transcript of the meeting.

In it, he quoted Stark as saying to McInnis, "You little fruitcake, you little fruitcake, I said you are a fruitcake."

And, according a Republican leadership aide, the 72-year-old Stark called (Ways and Means Committee chariman, Republican Bill) Thomas a vulgarity.

You read that right! 50-year-old McInnis (l) trembled for his very life against the human wrecking machine 72-year-old Stark (r)!

Words cannot describe how much I'm lovin' this, but Lambert at Eschaton has a brilliant way of letting actions do the speaking. Send Bill Thomas your old fruitcakes (or send him a fresh one). Here's how.

Friday, July 18

Random Thought of the Moment

Y'know, I'm getting REAL tired of of the "See? SEE?" attitude of the wingnuts and the administration when they tell us that finding plans of a weapons program is the same as finding WMDs.

IT'S NOT.

There is not a single civilized country on this planet with something to defend within its borders - democracy or dictatorship - that does not at least have SOMETHING in writing that's weapons-related. It's impossible to NOT have such plans. "Finding plans" doesn't mean a damned thing.

We were all told that those weapons WERE IN PLACE. That they were BEING BUILT. That they were A REALITY.

If the best we can find are documents, then we weren't told the truth. Period. Stop with the comparisons. There are none.

Hitting the Trifecta

The third poll released today - CNN/Time Magazine. And the third with the same news:

CNN/Time Poll conducted by Harris Interactive. July 16-17, 2003. N=1,004 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.1.

"In general, do you approve or disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job as president?"
Approve 55% (down from 63% in May)
Disapprove 40% (up from 33%)
Not Sure 5% (up from 4%)

Let's see how much they don't pay attention to polls now.

From the Pen of: Steve Benson

Steve Benson of the AZ Republic was brilliant during the Evan Mecham gubernatiorial debacle when I lived in Phoenix in '88. He's still brilliant.

Belated Thanks and Board Improvements

A tip of the Red Stripe to Scott Moore at Points West who quoted one of my tantrums the other day. Cheers.

Also - at the foot of each post here, you can now leave comments for the world to read. Courtesy of the fine folks at Squawkbox.TV. Another Red Stripe for Squawkbox, barkeep.