Friday, December 30, 2005

Right After 9/11, Bush Wanted War Powers For Use Inside The United States

One aspect of Tom Daschle's recent op-ed in the Washington Post (which I linked to here) escaped my notice. Thanks to Will Bunch for pointing it out.

Let's look at Barton Gellman's story from last Friday's Post (my emphasis):
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post. ...

Daschle's article reveals an important new episode in the resolution's legislative history.

As drafted, and as finally passed, the resolution authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words 'in the United States and' after 'appropriate force' in the agreed-upon text," Daschle wrote. "This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused." ...

Republican legislators involved in the negotiations could not be reached for comment last night.
So ... has anyone bothered to get a comment from these fascists in the last seven days?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All Of These Things Have Happened

Robert Steinback, Miami Herald:
One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.

If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.

Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.

If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.

If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marie Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy. ...

What is there to say now? All of these things have happened. ...

I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed, because I would have expected such actions to provoke -- speaking metaphorically now -- mobs with pitchforks and torches at the White House gate. ...
Meanwhile, the Republicans believe that the fan club of Bill Clinton's cat Socks was more worthy of investigation than George W. Bush's public admission of guilt regarding hundreds of crimes against the Constitution.

Wait a minute --

I have to post that paragraph again, this time in bold.

Meanwhile, the Republicans believe that the fan club of Bill Clinton's cat Socks was more worthy of investigation than George W. Bush's public admission of guilt regarding hundreds of crimes against the Constitution.

What a country.

Monday, December 26, 2005

"Little Red" Hoax; Muslims Monitored

About a week ago, I posted the story of a UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents after making a library request for Mao Zedong's "The Little Red Book". It turns out the story was a hoax.

However, this story remains true:
Mosques monitored for radiation

(Reuters) - U.S. officials have secretly monitored radiation levels at Muslim sites, including mosques and private homes, since September 11, 2001 as part of a top secret program searching for nuclear bombs, U.S. News and World Report said on Friday. ...

"In numerous cases, the monitoring required investigators to go on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program," the magazine said. ...

At its peak, the effort involved three vehicles in the Washington area monitoring 120 sites a day, nearly all of them Muslim targets such as prominent mosques and office buildings selected by the FBI, it said.

The program has also operated in at least five other cities -- namely Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Seattle -- when threat levels there have risen, it said.

One source quoted by the magazine said the targets were almost all U.S. citizens.
Glenn Greenwald sees through the bullshit. As does digby.

Year Of The Coup

James Carroll has written one of the more clear-eyed assessments of the current regime in the mainstream media (though I would strongly assert that the year of the coup was not 2005, but 2000).
Again and again, in the year now ending, the American people have been told by their leaders that strategies based on a new "repugnant philosophy" are required if the nation is to survive the challenge facing it. Forbidden incendiary weapons must be used in urban settings. Prisoners of war must be deprived of Geneva protections. Aggressive interrogations of enemies must approach torture. Commitments to provide US combat forces with adequate protective gear must be forsworn. Extrajudicial kidnapping of bad people must be justified. Allies must be pressured into joining secret networks of detention camps.

Human rights standards must be jettisoned. Traditional obligations to the United Nations must be ignored. Treaties that limit action can be cast aside. Distinctions between foreign and domestic espionage must be left behind, with US citizens subject to unmonitored surveillance by military agencies. Public libraries must be regarded as government peepholes. The lawyer-client privilege must no longer be regarded as sacrosanct. The press must be recruited into the project of information management. Dissent must be labeled as treason. ...

Where is the shame in Washington today? How does Donald Rumsfeld not blush in the presence of the soldiers he so routinely betrays? How does Dick Cheney maintain that straight face, treating core values as a joke? The recasting of the nation's moral meaning -- a blatant embrace of ends-justify-the-means -- is happening in plain daylight. No shadows here.

Every time the Bush administration is caught in one of its repugnant purposes (Thank God, again this year, for Seymour Hersh), the White House declares its intention to stay the course. Torture? Wiretapping? Kidnapping? Deceit? The president's eyes widen: Trust me, he says with a twisted smile. Then he leans closer to display a snarling defiance. The combination reduces his critics to sputters.

Perhaps Bush's savviest achievement has been to make the public think that Rumsfeld and Cheney are the dark geniuses behind the administration's malevolence. If Bush is taken as too shallow to have a fascist ideology; as too weak to stick with hard policies that undermine democracy; as a religious nutcase whose apocalyptic fantasies don't matter; as a man, in sum, the average citizen can regard as slightly less than average -- then what he is pulling off will not be called by its proper name until it is too late. 2005? Oh yes, that was the year of the coup.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Revolutionary Transformation Of Human Nature

Chris Floyd:
Countless words of condemnation have been heaped upon George W. Bush and his hard-Right regime -- a crescendo growing louder by the day, with voices from across the political spectrum. But the most devastating repudiation of the Regime's foul ethos was actually delivered almost 2,000 years ago by the man whose birth is celebrated at this season of the year.

We speak, of course, of Jesus of Nazareth, whose Sermon on the Mount, as reported in the Gospels, called for a revolutionary transformation of human nature -- a complete overthrow of our natural instincts for greed, aggression, and self-aggrandizement. ...

Bush professes to believe that Jesus is the son of God, whose words are literally divine commands. Yet anyone who compares what Jesus really said to Bush's actions in power -- the abandonment of the poor, the exaltation of the rich; the dirty insider deals, the culture of corruption, the politics of smear and slander; the perversion of law to countenance murder, torture and predatory war -- can readily see that this profession of faith is a monstrous deceit. ...

"Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God. ... But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation. ...

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. Thus you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven ..."


And what would happen today if a swarthy Middle Eastern man without wealth or political connections suddenly appeared in front of the White House proclaiming such a radical doctrine of mercy, forgiveness, charity, self-denial and love -- love even for the "evildoers" who "want to destroy our way of life"?

Would he be targeted by the lawless spy gangs that Bush has personally loosed upon the nation, as the New York Time revealed last week? Would he be condemned as a terrorist sympathizer and expelled from the country? Would he be seized and "rendered" to some secret CIA prison or Bush-friendly foreign torture chamber for "special interrogation"?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Would D. Boon Do?

A love letter from GYWO's David Rees.
- That my career as a political cartoonist literally began the night I asked myself "What would D. Boon do?" before clumsily trying to make the comic-strip equivalent of a Minutemen song -- which therefore means I owe D. Boon my livelihood -- is, for me, as a childhood worshipper of D. Boon, the greatest fact of all time.
I have no doubt that Boon would have given GYWO a blurb-worthy endorsement.

The smooth jazz of genocide responses

Damn.

One Hell Of A Friday News Dump

And a Christmas-Eve news dump at that (my emphasis):
Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report

Washington, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.

As part of the program approved by President Bush for domestic surveillance without warrants, the N.S.A. has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain backdoor access to streams of domestic and international communications, the officials said.
One thing the Cheney administration has claimed is that it's spying externally, not on US citizens. Obviously, that's a bold-faced lie.
Is the Pentagon Spying on Americans?
MSNBC, December 13, 2005

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn't know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a "threat" and one of more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the country over a recent 10-month period.

The Defense Department document is the first inside look at how the U.S. military has stepped up intelligence collection inside this country since 9/11, which now includes the monitoring of peaceful anti-war and counter-military recruitment groups. ...

"It means that they're actually collecting information about who's at those protests, the descriptions of vehicles at those protests," says [NBC News military analyst Bill] Arkin. "On the domestic level, this is unprecedented," he says. "I think it's the beginning of enormous problems and enormous mischief for the military. ... [M]ilitary intelligence is back conducting investigations and maintaining records on civilian political activity."
Also:
Many Americans' privacy is at risk, some say
Boston Globe

The National Security Agency, in carrying out President Bush's order to intercept the international phone calls and e-mails of Americans suspected of links to al-Qaida, has probably been using computers to monitor all other Americans' international communications as well, according to specialists familiar with the workings of the NSA. ...

"They have a capacity to listen to every overseas phone call," said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University ...
Other recent stories include the Pentagon spying on an anti-war demo in San Diego, a "Vegan Community Project" in Indianapolis and a PETA protest over llama fur.

Another report indicated Pentagon investigators labeled a gay kiss-in at the University of California - Santa Cruz a "credible threat" of terrorism.

But that widespread criminal activity isn't enough for these domestic terrorists:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called for "strong and robust" presidential powers, saying executive authority was eroded during the Watergate and Vietnam eras. ... "I would argue that the actions that we've taken there are totally appropriate and consistent with the constitutional authority of the president. ... You know, it's not an accident that we haven't been hit in four years" ...
Sounds like a veiled threat. Gimme more power ... or else.

Extra bonus lie (again, my emphasis):
The Bush administration requested, and Congress rejected, war-making authority "in the United States" in negotiations over the joint resolution passed days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to an opinion article by former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) in today's Washington Post.

Daschle's disclosure challenges a central legal argument offered by the White House in defense of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. It suggests that Congress refused explicitly to grant authority that the Bush administration now asserts is implicit in the resolution.

The Justice Department acknowledged yesterday, in a letter to Congress, that the president's October 2001 eavesdropping order did not comply with "the 'procedures' of" the law that has regulated domestic espionage since 1978.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

D. Boon

Twenty years ago today, Dennes Dale Boon, guitarist and singer for the Minutemen, was killed in an auto accident in Arizona. He was 27.

D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley were an ambitious and prolific trio from San Pedro, California, who mixed punk, funk, folk, jazz, beat poetry, and leftist politics. Their creative peak was in 1984 -- when they released the 45-song Double Nickels on the Dime.

(If you don't know the band, you may have heard Boon's song "Corona" as the theme music to MTV's Jackass.)

Boon has always been, for me, one of rock's most compelling musicians. I love his treble-heavy guitar playing and he was an absolute joy to watch on stage. His political passion and commitment -- speaking out against the Reagan administration's illegal actions in Central America -- made me look critically at politics for the first time, setting me on a path that eventually led me to leave the United States for Canada.

Sadly, there isn't that much information on the Minutemen out there. A chapter in Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life, which takes its title from one of the band's best songs, recounts the band's six-year history.

The band's page at Wikipedia is quite good and Sidemouse has some fanzine interviews and photos. You can download live recordings and video clips at Corndogs. Also, check out Mike Watt's Hootpage.
i'll put it into simple words
working men are pissed

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More on the Times/Bush Wiretap Coverup

Thanks to the always-informative Will Bunch at Attytood, we learn that the editors at the New York Times
were actively considering running the story about the wiretaps before Bush's November showdown with Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts. Top editors at the paper eventually decided to hold the story.
Because, really, why should the country's supposed "paper of record" bother with such silliness? And do you really think Americans deserve to know such things before they vote?

Not only that, check this out:
... Bush was so desperate that The New York Times not publish its story on the National Security Agency eavesdropping on American citizens without a warrant, in what lawyers outside the administration say is a clear violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ... on December 6, Bush summoned Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office in a futile attempt to talk them out of running the story. The Times will not comment on the meeting, but one can only imagine the president's desperation. (my emphasis)
As Bunch notes:
Since the article was published, Bush has given two speeches and answered questions in a lengthy news conference. Keller has issued a short written statement.

When George W. Bush is now more open than you are, that's a problem.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King George

The thought of writing about the Cheney administration's admission that it has been illegally spying on thousands of Americans has been depressing me.

The "liberal" New York Times refused to publish news of this obvious criminal activity for more than a year. Why? Because the White House asked them not to.

I wonder what big political event was happening a little more than a year ago? Hmmm ...

Anyway, I've found that shanikka at My Left Wing has done my work for me. Go and read.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A Lesson In Totalitarianism

More news from the Land of the Free:
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number.

He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.
Awfully nice of those agents to give the student a first-hand look at "fascism and totalitarianism".

Friday, December 16, 2005

Not A Peaceful Welcome

Brian Williams talks with the Chimp:
Williams: A lot of people have seen in this series of speeches you're giving on Iraq, a movement in your position. They call it an acknowledgement that perhaps the mission has not gone as it was originally planned — three points: That the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators, that General Shinsecki, when he said this would take hundreds of thousands of troops in his farewell speech, might have been right. And third, that it wasn't a self-sustaining war in terms of the oil revenue. Do you concede those three points might not have gone as planned?

Bush: Review them with me again.

Williams: Number one — that we'd be welcomed as liberators?

Bush: I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome. ...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Frank Rich: It Takes A Potemkin Village

The Times has stuck Frank Rich's latest behind its TimesSelect pay service, but Maccabee (and Kos readers) have these snips (and more):
When a government substitutes propaganda for governing, the Potemkin village is all. Since we don't get honest information from this White House, we must instead, as the Soviets once did, decode our rulers' fictions to discern what's really happening. What we're seeing now is the wheels coming off: As the administration's stagecraft becomes more baroque, its credibility tanks further both at home and abroad. The propaganda techniques may be echt Goebbels, but they increasingly come off as pure Ali G. ...

Mr. Bush's "Plan for Victory" speech was, of course, the usual unadulterated nonsense. Its overarching theme - "We will never accept anything less than complete victory" - was being contradicted even as he spoke by rampant reports of Pentagon plans for stepped-up troop withdrawals between next week's Iraqi elections and the more important (for endangered Republicans) American Election Day of 2006. The specifics were phony, too: Once again inflating the readiness of Iraqi troops, Mr. Bush claimed that the recent assault on Tal Afar "was primarily led by Iraqi security forces" - a fairy tale immediately unmasked by Michael Ware, a Time reporter embedded in that battle's front lines, as "completely wrong." No less an authority than the office of Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, promptly released a 59-page report documenting his own military's inadequate leadership, equipment and training. ...

But this variety of Bush balderdash is such old news that everyone except that ga-ga 25 percent instantaneously tunes it out. We routinely assume that the subtext (i.e., the omissions and deliberate factual errors) of his speeches and scripted town meetings will be more revealing than the texts themselves. What raised the "Plan for Victory" show to new heights of disinformation was the subsequent revelation that the administration's main stated motive for the address - the release of a 35-page document laying out a "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" - was as much a theatrical prop as the stunt turkey the president posed with during his one furtive visit to Baghdad two Thanksgivings ago. ...

As breathlessly heralded by Scott McClellan, this glossy brochure was "an unclassified version" of the strategy in place since the war's inception in "early 2003." But Scott Shane of The New York Times told another story. Through a few keystrokes, the electronic version of the document at whitehouse.gov could be manipulated to reveal text "usually hidden from public view." What turned up was the name of the document's originating author: Peter Feaver, a Duke political scientist who started advising the National Security Council only this June. Dr. Feaver is an expert on public opinion about war, not war itself. Thus we now know that what Mr. McClellan billed as a 2003 strategy for military victory is in fact a P.R. strategy in place for no more than six months. That solves the mystery of why Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey of the Army, who is in charge of training Iraqi troops, told reporters that he had never seen this "National Strategy" before its public release last month.

In a perfect storm of revelations, the "Plan for Victory" speech fell on the same day that The Los Angeles Times exposed new doings on another front in the White House propaganda war. An obscure Defense Department contractor, the Lincoln Group, was caught paying off Iraqi journalists to run upbeat news articles secretly written by American Army personnel and translated into Arabic (at a time when American troops in harm's way are desperate for Arabic translators of their own). ...

Though the White House doesn't know that its jig is up, everyone else does. Americans see that New Orleans is in as sorry shape today as it was under Brownie three months ago. The bipartisan 9/11 commissioners confirm that homeland security remains a pork pit. Condi Rice's daily clarifications of her clarifications about American torture policies are contradicted by new reports of horrors before her latest circumlocutions leave her mouth. And the president's latest Iraq speeches - most recently about the "success" stories of Najaf and Mosul - still don't stand up to the most rudimentary fact checking.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Face Transplant

Pat Oliphant, December 6, 2005:



In related news, the Organic Consumers Association reports:
Public comments are now being accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its newly proposed federal regulation regarding the testing of chemicals and pesticides on human subjects. On August 2, 2005, Congress had mandated the EPA create a rule that permanently bans chemical testing on pregnant women and children, without exception. But the EPA's newly proposed rule, is ridden with exceptions where chemical studies may be performed on children in certain situations like the following:

1. Children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," such as those that are mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, may be tested on. With permission from the institution or guardian in charge of the individual, the child may be exposed to chemicals for the sake of research.

2. Parental consent forms are not necessary for testing on children who have been neglected or abused.

3. Chemical studies on any children outside of the U.S. are acceptable.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

25 Years

Congressman Jack Murtha on Hardball with Chris Matthews, November 30, 2005:
Matthews: What are the military folks you get access to saying about how long it will take if we continue on the president's course, to have an Iraqi army that can defend that government?

Murtha: I've heard estimates up to 25 years. Now we've already spent $277 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Matthews reminds us that the Cheney administration:
said that this war would be paid for not by us, the American taxpayer, but paid for by Iraqi oil. They said there were WMD there. They said they were involved in 9/11. They said they would greet us as liberators. On every point they've been wrong.
Back in September 2004, John McCain was asked how long the US military would remain in Iraq. He said "probably" 10 or 20 years, adding "That's not so bad. We've been in Korea for 50 years. We've been in West Germany for 50 years."

The US is building 14 permanent military bases in Iraq.

Seriouslythough.com:
Several military analysts agree that if the United States does not pull out of Iraq within the next year then the country will face a military draft for the first time in a generation. Lawrence Korb, Assistant Defense Secretary in the Reagan White House, claims that due to a significant dip in recruitment since the War On Iraq coupled with a decline in reenlistment, the "breaking-point" for the United States military will be in mid-2006.

Surprise!

Now, a very great man once said
That some people rob you with a fountain pen.
It didn't take too long to find out
Just what he was talkin' about.


New York Daily News:
Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid intended to help small downtown businesses that were reeling from the 9/11 attacks often went instead to huge international corporations, companies with little attachment to the stricken area and businesses that were never in jeopardy.

The beneficiaries included a stock brokerage firm that had closed more than a month before the terrorists hit, a giant real estate firm that repeatedly said it wasn't hurt by the attacks, scores of wealthy self-employed floor traders ...

The fast and furious distribution of nearly $1 billion in small business aid — part of the $21.4 billion promised to New York overall — was done by the Empire State Development Corp., a quasi-governmental agency with no experience in disaster relief. ...

The development corporation didn't require businesses to explain how the attacks, and not preexisting business problems, had caused the firms to lose money.
Charles A. Gargano is chairman of Empire State Development Corp.
Appointed by Governor George E. Pataki, Ambassador Gargano has served as the head of New York State’s economic development agency since 1995. The Governor also appointed him vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 1995. ... Gargano's public service began in 1981, when he was named deputy administrator of the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration by President Ronald Reagan. In 1988 he was appointed Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by President Reagan. He was re-appointed in 1989 by President Bush and served until 1991.
Solidly Republican -- "with no experience in disaster relief". Sounds like "Brownie" Part Deux.

Los Angeles Times:
On Their Own in Battered New Orleans

....Lost amid continued talk of billions in federal aid is the fact that most homeowners and businesses are being left to make the toughest calls on their own. Lost is that New Orleans' recovery — which President Bush once suggested would be one of the largest public reconstruction efforts the world had ever seen — is quickly becoming a private market affair. ...

The situation in which residents find themselves is an extreme example of a trend underway for a quarter-century, a shift of economic risk from business and government to working families, and an increasing reliance on free markets to manage society's problems.

Safety nets such as unemployment compensation, employer-provided healthcare insurance and pensions, and, recently, effective disaster relief have been reeled in or removed. Increasingly, families from the working poor to the affluent are left largely to buy and sell their own way to safety even when their individual efforts seem utterly outgunned, as they do in the case of Katrina.
What? All that money you paid in taxes? ... Suckers! [/republicans]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Moron Calls Press Conference; Attempts To Escape; Runs Into Locked Doors

... Bush tried to make a quick exit from a news conference in Beijing on Sunday - only to find himself thwarted by locked doors.

The president strode away from reporters looking annoyed after one said he appeared "off his game".

President Bush tugged at both handles on the double doors before admitting: "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work." ...

An aide escorted him to the correct exit and on to dinner at the Great Hall of the People.


The video is hilarious!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Headline Of The Day

Car Bombs Kill 48 In Iraq; Bush Says War On Track


Runner-Up:

Congress Helps Self to $3,100 Pay Raise
The Republican-controlled Congress helped itself to a $3,100 pay raise on Friday, then postponed work on bills to curb spending on social programs and cut taxes in favor of a two-week vacation.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

White Phosphorus

The US is without a doubt using chemical weapons on innocent civilians in Iraq.

Cannonfire has posted two gruesome photos of victims of white phosphorus. He also posts this comment from former US soldier Jeff Englehart:
The gases from the warhead, the white phosphorus will disperse in a cloud and when it makes contact with skin then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone. It doesn't necessarily burn clothes but it will burn the skin underneath clothes.

And this is why protective masks do not help because it will burn right through the mask, the rubber of the mask, it will manage to get inside your face. If you breathe it it will blister your throat and your lungs till you suffocate. And then it will burn you from the inside. ...

O'Reilly: Your Enlistment Papers Are In The Mail

Imagine if Al Franken or anyone else on the left had said this:
[I]f I'm the president of the United States ... I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds.' Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead. And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.
The wingnuts loonies would be having a field day, accusing the speaker of treason, of inciting an attack on American soil. (Telling terrorists to "Bring it on!" in other words.)

When pressed, Falafel Boy stands strong and makes shit up up:
I'm from New York. There are dozens of people in my neighborhood, on Long Island, who are dead because of 9/11, and you people are telling me you're not going to allow military recruiting out there. Hey, it's serious, and I think you guys need a wake-up call.
Since he's so supportive of recruiting, I wonder if O'Reilly has ever served in the armed forces? ... I'll bet I know the answer to that one.

Actually, a poster at Democratic Underground says that O'Reilly has spoken in the past of his experience "in combat". It turns out that he was a reporter stationed in Buenos Aires during the Falklands War. ... Cannonfire also has some good comments.

Elsewhere, Bruce Willis is offering $1 million cash to any civilian who captures Osama bin Forgotten. I guess the $25 million reward that already exists needed to be sweetened a little bit. I love this: Willis is referred to in the article as the "hairless Hollywood he-man".

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rumsfeld: Gitmo Hunger Strikers Just "On A Diet"

It's amazing that this obviously insane war criminal is let out to talk to anyone.

Asked about the 27 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who are currently on hunger strikes, Donald Rumsfeld said they were doing it for the publicity:
Well, I suppose that what they're trying to do is to capture press attention, obviously, and they've succeeded. There are a number of people who go on a diet where they don't eat for a period and then go off of it at some point. And then they rotate and other people do that.
And we rag on Bush for being an idiot?!!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

They Hate Us For Our Brontosauri

Tampa Tribune:
The mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs are probably not very high on the list of terrorist targets. Neither is the Styrofoam and fiberglass stegosaurus at Dinosaur World in Plant City.

Yet both facilities were on a list of sites the federal government wanted "hardened" under the $90 million Buffer Zone Protection Program, granted by the Department of Homeland Security as a way to help state and local governments secure "critical infrastructure" against attack.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2000

Lifted directly from Billmon's Whiskey Bar.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Editorials

From the Marysville-Yuba City (Calif.) Appeal-Democrat:
One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs.
From the Jacksonville (N.C.) Daily News:
One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs.
From the Kinston (N.C.) Free Press:
One of the smartest things President Bush did to reduce recovery costs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was to suspend Davis-Bacon Act rules in the hardest hit states. But Congress is frantically trying to overrule the president, which would add billions of dollars to the already staggering recovery costs.
Amazing! More here.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Cheney-Rumsfeld Cabal

From Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2001-2005:
[T]he case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardisations, and perturbations in the national-security [policy-making] process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. ...

You’ve got this collegiality there between the secretary of defence and the vice president. And then you’ve got a president who is not versed in international relations -- and not too much interested in them either. ...

If you’re not prepared to stop the feuding elements in the bureaucracy as they carry out your decisions, you are courting disaster. And I would say that we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran.
Billmon has a lot more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Now What?

Since The Move, I've been wondering what to do with this blog. Now that I'm living in Canada, I've been focusing less on US news. It hasn't been a conscious decision, but it's happening just the same. I still check out the Latest Breaking News page at DU several times a day, but I do not give the daily flow of events (such as the soon-to-be-announced Plame indictments (22 of them?!)) the same attention I did before.

Maybe with the Red Sox season over, I'll soon focus on some items. I honestly don't know. I'm submit a (music-related) book proposal in November, so I may be occupied with that project this winter.

In the meantime, the links at the right are where I get most of my stuff. Cursor should be daily reading, and Cannonfire often links to other investigative blogs.

Here's an excellent piece about Bush's staged chat with US troops the other day, the revelation that one of the main troops interviewed (Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo) is actually a military media spokeswoman, the Pentagon's propaganda TV channel, the astounding indifference of the major media to this manipulation, and how everything ties together.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fuzzy Math

In which the Cheney administration believes that 100 = 1.

Molly Ivins:
Liar of the week: George W. Bush said on his Saturday radio address a week and a half ago that Iraq has 100 battalions of battle-ready soldiers. By the time he got to his television address on Thursday, it was 80 battalions. (I guess it's worse to lie if they're taking pictures of you.) Unfortunately, the next day Gen. George Casey, who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, said of those 80, the number of Iraqi battalions fit to fight independently of U.S. support had slipped from three to one. One, three, 80, 100 -- if this is Tuesday, it must be ...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Profit

In the past year, Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have gone up in value 3,281%. ... Yeah, you read that right.

As Xymphora has written:
The Cheney-Halliburton connection has to be the largest and most blatant example of corruption in modern American history. Cheney is the effective President of the United States, and is clearly behind the awarding of massive contracts to a corporation that continues to pay him. If this were happening in Nigeria we'd sneer at the corruption, but in the American context it is beyond belief.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What Will It Take?

Washington Post, October 9, 2005:
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the government changed a contract to hire federal airline passengers screeners in a way that cost taxpayers an additional $343 million. More than three years later, officials cannot explain exactly why.

Homeland security officials say they have no memos, e-mails or other paperwork to document the reason for the change, as required by federal contracting regulations. They have also offered accounts of the decision that conflict with internal government documents obtained by The Washington Post. ...

Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, said in a recent interview that the agency does not have paperwork to back up its account and that he cannot recall the details surrounding the decision.

"Honestly, I have no memory of it," said Jackson, who said he was ultimately responsible for the contract as second-in-command at the Transportation Department in 2002.
Hey, but don't worry, US taxpayer.
The contract is now the subject of an investigation by the homeland security department's inspector general.
Besides recalling OJ's on-going search for the "real killers", this robbery story reminds me of a recent Get Your War On panel:

Friday, October 07, 2005

Projection

The PNAC Puppet:
The civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history -- from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot -- consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history.

Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
Also checkout Laura's post on terror and fear.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bill Bennett Dreams Of Genocide

Former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, September 28, 2005:
I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.
Let's look at Bennett's thought process:
Hey, genocide would work!

... Uh, but that would be so, so wrong.

... but still, it would be a solution, if you were so inclined.
Thanks to Empire Burlesque and Media Matters.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pat Tillman

From an extraordinary article on the former NFL star who was killed by US troops in Afghanistan (and the cover-up of how he died):
Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author. ...

[A] friend of Pat's even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan -— a meeting prevented by his death. [Tillman's mother] said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, "Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war." ...

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

Tillman subscribed to the Economist magazine, and a fellow soldier said Tillman created a makeshift base library of classic novels so his platoon mates would have literature to read in their down time. ...
An anti-Bush fan of Chomsky who believed the Iraq war was "so fucking illegal"?

I wonder what the mouthbreathers would say about Tillman if they knew that. ... Of course, they've probably forgot all about him by now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Pathetic

New York Times:
... Bush was supposed to land here [San Antonio] on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate.

It was too sunny.

Just minutes before Mr. Bush was scheduled to leave the White House, his aides in Washington scrubbed the stop in San Antonio. ... Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

9/11 Coverup Continues

Why would the Pentagon refuse to allow
a group of military officers and intelligence analysts from testifying at an open Congressional hearing about a highly classified military intelligence program that, the officers have said, identified a ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks as a potential terrorist more than a year before the attacks?
Also (my emphasis):
Two military officers - an active-duty Navy captain and a reservist Army lieutenant colonel - have said publicly in recent weeks that they were involved with Able Danger and that the program's analysts identified Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian-born ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, by name as a potential terrorist by early 2000.

They said they attempted to share the information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the summer of 2000, more than a year before the terrorist attacks, but were blocked by Defense Department lawyers. F.B.I. officials, who answer to the jurisdiction of Senator Specter's committee, have confirmed that Defense Department abruptly canceled meetings in 2000 between the bureau's Washington field office and representatives of the Able Danger team.

The Pentagon has said that it has interviewed three other people who were involved with Able Danger and who said that they, too, recalled the identification of Mr. Atta as a terrorist suspect. But Defense Department investigators said they could find no documentary evidence to back up the assertion; they acknowledged that much of the information might have been routinely destroyed.
topdog04 (at Kos) has more, with a lot of background:
First the Pentagon had never heard of Able Danger, then it was "merely" a planning effort that ran it's course in early 2001, now it is so top secret and vital to national security - more than four years after 9/11 - that no one can testify about it to Congress. ...

[Bryan Whitman, a Defense Department spokesman, said it was] "Not possible to discuss Able Danger in any great detail in an open public forum?" The Pentagon HELD A PRESS CONFERENCE ON IT two weeks ago. The only thing not possible is for the truth to get out about the mistakes of this administration and their culpability in 9/11.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Damn The Blind Eyes

We have long had reason to suspect imperial instigation to Iraq's sectarian violence, but here, as clearly as we've ever seen it, is the provocateur state revealed: two British "undercover soldiers" in Arab dress, caught firing upon police from a car laden with explosives. And the British government all but admitting its culpability by breaking them out of prison. ...

I wonder what will be made of this story by those who think escalating bloodshed in Iraq is a measure of the failure of US policy, and not its success ...
Rigorous Intuition

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Incompetence And Intent

John Doe II has compiled a jaw-droppingly exhaustive list of mainstream media stories showing how FEMA, Homeland Security and other federal agencies bungled the Katrina rescue and relief effort.

It's one of the more mind-boggling collection of articles I've seen on the internets. What follows is a short sample:
"Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared."

"Government disaster officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. They simply didn't execute it when Hurricane Katrina struck."

Another list of sources on that action plan -- and how it has been fine-tuned -- is here.

The Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. ... Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans City Business.

"Dr. Ross Judice, chief medical officer for a large ambulance company, recounted how on Tuesday, unable to find out when helicopters would land to pick up critically ill patients at the Superdome, he walked outside and discovered that two helicopters, donated by an oil services company, had been waiting in the parking lot."

"Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck."

A navy "ship rode out Katrina in the Gulf and was available with amphibious vehicles, hospital beds, and sailors who could come ashore to help. Waiting for orders that have yet to arrive."

The U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

"Shortly before they were set to leave for Hurricane Katrina-battered states, a group of about 100 law enforcement officers from across Nevada was told to stay put by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA officials put the contingent on hold on Sunday afternoon for between one and three days ..."

"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush's visit to New Orleans, officials said."

Mary Landrieu, the Democratic US senator from Louisiana: "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."

"A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck."

Airboaters stand ready to go help hurricane victims but have not been allowed to do so.

"When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away ... Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said."

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.

A group of firefighter from Houston, some with special expertise in oil rig repairs, and plenty of post-hurricane clean-up experience were stopped by FEMA from entering New Orleans and not allowed to go anywhere else, either.

Canadian plane and search and rescue teams stopped by Dept. of Homeland Security.

Various aid from Russia, Canada, Cuba, Sweden, Germany, and more than 20 European countries was all refused.
Looking at the wealth of evidence -- and the mindset of the people in charge -- these actions have to be deliberate.

Might As Well Jump

MSNBC's Brian Williams:
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bad News

Evan Thomas, Newsweek:
It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private ...

The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington.

The president's chief of staff, Andrew Card; his deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin; his counselor, Dan Bartlett, and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, held a conference call to discuss the question of the president's early return and the delicate task of telling him. Hagin, it was decided, as senior aide on the ground, would do the deed. ...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years

There are so many questions.

It's time for the truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

DeLay to Children Left Homeless By Katrina: "Isn't This Kind Of Fun?"

He also compared it to being on camping trip and told the young boys they were becoming famous all over the world.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Culture Of Life

Republican Representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge:
We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What's Going On?

The level of denial and delusion is off the charts.
[Nancy Pelosi] related that she had urged Bush at the White House on Tuesday to fire [FEMA Director] Michael Brown.

"He said 'Why would I do that?'" Pelosi said.

"'I said because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What didn't go right?'"
AP

Or is it? ... Some argue that this is all part of the Junta's plan.

More On Katrina Non-Response

FEMA Turned Away Aid, Rescue Crews, Cut Emergency Communication Lines: Witnesses
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several witnesses have alleged that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) turned away volunteers who were ready to help New Orleans residents people trapped in their flooded homes. Other witnesses have said that FEMA turned away offers of aid, prevented water and fuel from reaching people on the ground, and cut emergency communications lines. ...

According to the Loudon [Virginia] Times-Mirror, "Sheriff Steve Simpson and his staff spent 12 hours trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Louisiana Emergency Operations Center to act. They didn't, and the 20 deputies and six emergency medical technicians–all volunteers–turned around and came back to Loudon."

According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, "up to 500 airboat pilots" volunteered to help rescue flood victims [and] "are physically sick, watching the New Orleans coverage and knowing that the resources to help these poor people is sitting right in our driveways." ...

Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard said that "we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, 'Come get the fuel right away.' When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. 'FEMA says don't give you the fuel.'"
Pentagon: USS Bataan Waited Days For Orders to Help Out
Lt. Commander Sean Kelly, a Pentagon spokesman for Northern Command, revealed on the BBC that NorthCom was prepared to send in search and rescue helicopters from the USS Bataan almost immediately after the hurricane hit. He said, "We had things ready. The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so." That authorization didn't happen for days even though the ship was docked just outside New Orleans. On board the ship had doctors, hospital beds, food and the ability to make up to 100,000 gallons of water a day. ...

The Cuban government has also announced that the U.S. State Department rebuffed its offer of aid. Last Tuesday Cuba offered to send 1100 doctors to assist in the crisis. Cuba said the doctors could have been on the ground by last Wednesday.
Media groups say FEMA censors search for bodies
When US officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday. ... "It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors' group that defends free expression.

Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable. "The notion that, when there's very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."
Has the Bush Administration banned all media from New Orleans? It sounds like no new media are being allowed in, and any media that leaves cannot return. ... What do they want to hide?

The incompetence by the Administration is so widespread, many people feel that it cannot be a coincidence (much like so many levels of US defense all failed at exactly the same time (and so completely) on September 11, 2001).

It is something I'd like to read a lot more about -- as well as the FEMA relocation camps -- but having been away from this story and its many threads for a week, I feel like I'll never catch up.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Those Lucky Duckies In New Orleans

Ever wonder where George W. Bush gets his "compassion"?

Via E&P:
Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

The former First Lady's remarks were aired this evening on National Public Radio's "Marketplace" program. ... In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost everyone I've talked to says we're going to move to Houston."

Then she added: "What I'm hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."
This is the same woman, who, on the eve of the invasion of Iraq (March 18, 2003), went on ABC's "Good Morning America" and said:
Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
I find it hard to fathom the pure hatred I have for these people.

New Orleans Times-Picayune: An Open Letter To George W. Bush

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we're going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It's accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city's multiple points of entry, our nation's bureaucrats spent days after last week's hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city's stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We're angry, Mr. President, and we'll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That's to the government's shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don't know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city's death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren't they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn't suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn't have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn't known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We've provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they've gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don't get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You're doing a heck of a job."

That's unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We're no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn't be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.
Thanks to E&P.

High Water

High water risin', six inches 'bove my head
Coffins droppin' in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin' into Vicksburg, don't know what I'm going to do
"Don't reach out for me," she said
"Can't you see I'm drownin' too?"
It's rough out there
High water everywhere
There are probably a zillion and ten blog posts attempting to convey the horror of what is going on in the southern US and the absolute disregard for human life exhibited by the Junta.

Since I was preoccupied by The Move From New York for the past week, I was out of the loop. Most of the sites linked at the right will have something, if you want to check them out. I'll mention two:

G, the Library Bitch, outlines Mission: Incompetence:
Mission #1: Transfer funds out of domestic protection budgets and into military operations, thus creating conditions for a near-certain catastrophic situation.

Mission #2: Once the catastrophe has occurred, engage in a staged photo-op to look good in the face of fallout from Mission #1.

Mission #3: In the ensuing fallout, pass any and all suspicion and blame for causing the catastrophe onto other, more intangible entities.

Mission #4: Shit your pants.
Rigorous Instuition has several posts worth reading:
New Orleans: Year Zero
Army Times: Troops Begin Combat
Ring Them Bells
Because They Can
Catastrophic Success

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Them

While waiting at the checkout at Loblaws this morning, I run over to grab a copy of the Toronto Star. Not knowing exactly what day it is, I grab a copy of Saturday's paper and hand it to the woman behind the register.

Her (holding paper out and reading the huge headline): "What Took You?" What does that mean? It sounds like something is missing.

Me: Probably "What took you so long?" ... Considering all the other horror stories from down there. [Including Bush's refusal of aid from Canada.]

Her: Right! Of course. That's it. ... You'd think so much more could be done, but maybe we don't know all of the logistics.

Me: Well, it's not like they didn't know the storm was coming.

Her (shaking head): We think of them as such a powerful country, but ...

Me (surprised, then very consciously avoiding pronouns): It wasn't a big concern. It's just a lot of misplaced priorities.

Walking out, I'm amazed at her use of that one word. Them. Not us. Not we. Them.

The United States is now one of those other countries that exist outside the place I live. Powerful and important, of course, but definitely Not Us.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Life In Canada ...

has begun.

I probably won't be updating this blog very much over the next week or two. Check out wmtc for what I/we are up to.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Goodbye, New York -- Hello, Toronto!

On Tuesday, August 30, 2005 -- 6,814 days since I moved to New York City from Burlington, Vermont -- Laura and I will drive to Mississauga, Ontario.

We will have the dogs and some essentials with us, as most of our stuff was moved out last Friday.

The next ICB post will come from a basement in Port Credit.

Yay!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Bubble Boy

Crusader Bunnypants:
Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve. ... What is important is that Iraqis are now addressing these issues through debate and discussion -- not at the barrel of a gun.
Three points:

1. "the broader Middle East"? What the hell does that mean? Iran? Syria?

2. "more sacrifice"? Most Americans are not sacrificing a damn thing -- and a clear majority are against the occupation. Asking them to do something more than slap an easily-removed magnet on the back of their cars will only increase that number.

3. "not at the barrel of a gun"? The man is flat-out delusional. Nope, no problem with violence in Iraq. No, siree! Maybe he's kept so shielded from reality -- so far into his own bubble -- that he thinks the American troops are getting rose petals tossed at them in Iraq.

Blabbermouths

Harsh words from Tom DeLay:
The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today.
Has the Bug Man had a change of heart? Nope. He uttered these words about Bill Clinton and Kosovo on April 28, 1999.

Thanks to The Strategery of Life. While trying to find the date for this quote, I found these other gems from the same time period (I guess way more than 2,000 American troops died in Kosovo, because these patriotic men have yet to get as angry and outspoken about the wasted lives and money in Iraq):

"[The President] is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it."
Sean Hannity, Fox News, April 5, 1999

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
Sean Hannity, Fox News, April 6, 1999

"Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly."
Representative Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of presidential candidate George W. Bush

Another Reason To Love Fox News

From La Habra, California:
A couple whose home was wrongly identified on national television as belonging to an Islamic radical has faced harassment, and police are providing special protection. ...

John Loftus, a former federal prosecutor who appears on the Fox News segment "Inside Scoop with John Loftus," gave out the house address during the broadcast.

He said the home belonged to Iyad Hilal, whose group, Loftus said, has ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London. But Hilal moved out of the house about three years ago. ...

Loftus also apologized and told the Los Angeles Times last week that "mistakes happen."
The FBI also notes that Hilal -- the guy who hadn't lived in the house for three fucking years -- is not suspected of any terrorist acts.

Some of the vandalism included spraypainting the word "terrist" on the house. ... Hmmm, could the culprit be this man?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

More On The Public Execution Of Jean Charles de Menezes

Everything we have been told about this incident has been a lie.

From Sunday's Observer (emphasis mine):
Police officers from the team involved in the fatal shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes did not believe he posed 'an immediate threat'.

Senior sources in the Metropolitan Police have told The Observer that members of the surveillance team who followed de Menezes into Stockwell underground station in London felt that he was not about to detonate a bomb, was not armed and was not acting suspiciously. It was only when they were joined by armed officers that his threat was deemed so great that he was shot seven times.

Sources said that the surveillance officers wanted to detain de Menezes, but were told to hand over the operation to the firearms team. ...

A police source said: 'There is no way those three guys would have been on the train carriage with him [de Menezes] if they believed he was carrying a bomb. Nothing he did gave the surveillance team the impression that he was carrying a device.' ...

The Observer now understands that seconds before the firearms team entered the tube train carriage, a member of the surveillance squad using the codename Hotel 3 moved to the doorway and shouted: 'He's in here.' De Menezes, in all likelihood alarmed by the activity, stood and moved towards the doorway. He was grabbed and pushed back to his seat. The first shots were then fired while Hotel 3 was holding him. ...

For reasons as yet unclear, members of the firearms team have yet to submit their own account of the events to the IPCC. The two members of the team believed to have fired the fatal shots are known to have gone on holiday immediately after the shooting. ...

Meanwhile, questions have been raised about the accuracy of the police intelligence that led to the raid on the block of flats occupied by de Menezes. It was initially suggested that the flat was connected to the man known as Hussein Osman, who was arrested in Italy. On the Saturday after the shooting, officers raided the flat in a high-profile operation watched by the world's media. As a result, a man, identified only as 'C', was arrested 'on suspicion of the commission, instigation or preparation of acts of terrorism'. But he was released on 30 July with no charge, raising the possibility that the flats had no connection with the bombings.

Your Liberal Media At Work

Angela K. Brown, Associated Press:
CRAWFORD, Texas - A patriotic camp with a "God Bless Our President!" banner sprung up downtown Saturday, countering the anti-war demonstration started by a fallen soldier's mother two weeks ago near President Bush's ranch.
"Patriotic" versus "anti-war"? Very nice.

A poster at Mandate, My Ass notes that CNN was the only (?) media outlet to change "patriotic camp" to "pro-Bush camp."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

You're Spreading Something

Bush, in his radio address today:
... we're spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.
Bush has given up on spreading actual freedom, and has now settled for merely the hope of freedom.

Next month, Bush will combat hunger in America by asking those in need of food to simply imagine a sandwich.

It all sounds a bit like when Fearless Leader downgraded the ominous threat of mushroom clouds over our citites to hand-wringing over some "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Words Of Missy Comley Beattie

Lexington Herald-Leader:
He is number 1,828, 1,829 or 1,830. We don't know for sure, because so many died last week.

Marine Lance Cpl. Chase Johnson Comley died when his vehicle was hit head on by a suicide bomber. His death admits his family to a club no one wants to join: the grieving, questioning families who have heard the dreaded ring of the doorbell followed by a messenger's words, "We regretfully inform you that your son ..."

You realize that nothing you've thought, done or felt has prepared you for this reality. The feeling is so much worse than a broken heart. It is an evisceration.

As I write, Chase is being flown to Dover Air Force Base. His 6-foot-4 body is in a coffin draped with the American flag. He loved his family, his country, his Sayre classmates and his life, but we don't think he loved his mission in Iraq. ...

For those of you who still trust the Bush administration -- and your percentage diminishes every day -- let me tell you that my nephew Chase Johnson Comley did not die to preserve your freedoms. He was not presented flowers by grateful Iraqis, welcoming him as their liberator.

He died fighting a senseless war for oil and contracts, ensuring the increased wealth of President Bush and his administration's friends.

He died long after Bush, in his testosterone-charged, theatrical, soldier-for-a-day role, announced on an aircraft carrier beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner that major combat was over.

He died in a country erupting into civil war and turned into a hellhole by Bush, a place where democracy has no chance of prevailing, a country that will become a theocracy like Saudi Arabia. ...

Consider what the money spent on this could have done for health care, our children's education or a true humanitarian intervention in Sudan. And then think about Bush's inauguration. Picture the lavish parties, the couture gown worn by Laura Bush. And imagine the cost of the security for the event.

And then think about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he visits our troops. Picture his heavily armored vehicle, a machine impregnable to almost anything the insurgents toss in its path, while our troops are not provided sufficient armor to survive an improvised explosive device. ...

For many Americans, the war is an abstraction. But it is not an abstraction for the innocent Iraqis whose lives have been devastated by our smart bombs. And it certainly is not an abstraction for those of us who have heard the words that change lives forever.

So think of my family's grief -- grief that will never end. Think of all the families. Think of the wounded, the maimed, the psychologically scarred. ...

And, finally, think about flowers: The flowers for Chase Comley will be presented not by grateful Iraqis but by loved ones honoring him as he's lowered to his grave and buried in our hearts.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

He's A Bust

President Bush is a Leader who has the courage to lead. It is political courage. ... It differs from combat courage in that it is thought oriented not reaction oriented. ... By owning a bust of President Bush, Commander in Chief you will be making a statement and in a politically charged environment, it takes courage.
Only $1,995!

Government: Release Of Abu Ghraib Prison Photos Could Cause Riots

Maybe ya shoulda thought of that before you did all the torturing, raping and murdering.
Releasing pictures and videotapes of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison would aid al-Qaida recruitment, weaken Afghanistan and Iraqi governments and incite riots against US troops, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says.

The warning by Gen. Richard B. Myers was contained in court papers filed in US District Court in Manhattan and recently unsealed. ... Myers said the release of the pictures "pose a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American troops and coalition forces." ...

He said the photographs and videos would be used in a propaganda campaign by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq who "use any means necessary to incite violence" against innocent civilians to undercut the US mission.
Knowing that the Pentagon has admitted that as many as 90% of the Iraqis being imprisoned and tortured are completely innocent and had been simply grabbed off the street, my irony meter just exploded.

"Shedding Unreality"

Washington Post, August 14, 2005:
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States ... no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges ...

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."

... Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors. ...

Last week was the fourth-worst week of the whole war for U.S. military deaths in combat, and August already is the worst month for deaths of members of the National Guard and Reserve. Attacks on U.S. convoys by insurgents using roadside bombs have doubled over the past year ...
George W. Bush, aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003:
I'm the master of low expectations.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

News Of The Weak

US Struggling to Get Soldiers Improved Armor
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.
The troops still do not have proper body armor! Shouldn't someone in the self-proclaimed party of personal responsibility be, you know, like, held accountable for this massive, on-going fuck-up? ... Oh, who am I kidding ...

Bush: Iraqis 'Are Taking Control of Their Country'
As they complete a draft democratic constitution by the Aug. 15 deadline, Iraq's elected leaders are taking "a critical step on the path to Iraqi self-reliance," President Bush said today during his weekly radio address. In so doing, "Iraqis are taking control of their country," he said.
Actually, the Iraqis are taking control of their country by blowing up more and more of the invaders.

Bush refuses to rule out force against Iran
... Bush refused to rule out the use of force against Iran over the Islamic Republic's resumption of nuclear activities, in an interview with Israeli television aired Friday.

When asked if the use of force was an alternative to faltering diplomatic efforts, Bush said: "All options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president. You know we have used force in the recent past to secure our country," he said in a clear reference to Iraq ...
Where have we heard those words before? And Chimpy is once again using the utterly false, continually-exposed-as-a-lie connection between 9/11 and Iraq.

London bombings: the truth emerges
The suicide cell that killed 52 people on 7 July is not linked to those alleged to be behind the second London attacks on 21 July, according to the initial findings of the biggest anti-terrorist investigation held in Britain. An investigation into the four suicide bombers from the first attacks and the people alleged to be behind the July 21 plot has found no evidence of any al-Qa'ida "mastermind" or senior organiser. [my emphasis]
Arianna Huffington: It Takes a Village to Smear Cindy Sheehan
The right wing attacks on Cindy Sheehan -- desperate, pathetic, and grasping at straws -- expose much less about their target than about the attackers. ... [T]hey’ve shown absolutely no compunction about turning the sleaze machine on an undercover agent who’d spent her career working to protect us from weapons of mass destruction, a Silver Star/Purple Heart veteran who volunteered to fight in a war the administration chickenhawks gamed the system to avoid, and now the mother of a dead soldier.