Saturday, April 24, 2004

Cheney criticizes Kerry

"These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next," Cheney said at a stop in Kansas City.

Amen. Oh, wait, he was talking about Kerry.

Saudis helped Iraq war effort extensively
How interesting:

WASHINGTON - During the Iraq (news - web sites) war, Saudi Arabia secretly helped the United States far more than has been acknowledged, allowing operations from at least three air bases, permitting special forces to stage attacks from Saudi soil and providing cheap fuel, U.S. and Saudi officials say.

The American air campaign against Iraq was essentially managed from inside Saudi borders, where military commanders operated an air command center and launched refueling tankers, F-16 fighter jets, and sophisticated intelligence gathering flights, according to the officials.

Much of the assistance has been kept quiet for more than a year by both countries for fear it would add to instability inside the kingdom. Many Saudis oppose the war and U.S. presence on Saudi soil has been used by Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) to build his terror movement.

But senior political and military officials from both countries told The Associated Press the Saudi royal family permitted widespread military operations to be staged from inside the kingdom during the coalition force's invasion of Iraq.

These officials would only talk on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity and the fact that some operational details remain classified.

But surely BushCo will still be able to take a hard stand against the House of Saud, right? No? Anybody?

A new LC project
A friend in the Coalition has started up a new blog documenting the lies of the Bush 2004 campaign. Check it out.

Keeping it in perspective
It looks as if we may have picked the least dangerous country in ths "axis of evil" to attack:

WASHINGTON -- Despite its defeat of Iraq, the United States has failed to deter Iran from pursuing its nuclear weapons program.

A study published by the U.S. Army War College has asserted that the U.S. ouster of the regime of Saddam Hussein has led to an acceleration of Iran's nuclear weapons program. The report said neither Iran nor its ally, North Korea, has been swayed to abandon its missile or weapons of mass destruction programs.

"Iran also revealed a potential nuclear program more advanced than most suspected," the report, entitled Bounding the Global War on Terrorism," said. "Neither state seemed in the least bit deterred, although North Korea, under considerable pressure from China, finally entered into multilateral negotiations with as yet unknown results. The administration, however, did not take or even speak of military action against these states in part because of preoccupation with Iraq and in part because military action against Iran, and especially North Korea, would entail far greater difficulties and risks than action against Iraq."

Liberal media
Let's check out this headline:

Joint Chiefs Chairman: War Going Well

And now the first two paragraphs:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that the war in Iraq is going "reasonably well" but acknowledged the United States faces long-term involvement there.

Gen. Richard Myers told reporters that fighting terrorism also is a long-term commitment and said, "Decades is probably not unreasonable."

Reasonably well=Decades of involvement? least they're optimistic.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Columbia crew shown as war dead
Talk about a screw-up.

Despite being moved...
Bush doesn't want pictures of war dead shown to the public.

But of course, using images of 9/11 caskets in your campaign ads is cool, right Dubya?

Bush "moved" by casket photos
I don't even know what to say about this story.

Fake Dems punished
It may seem as if they were pretending to be Democrats, but maybe they just didn't want to admit that they were Republicans.

Kerry on "the Saudi Deal"

...Kerry criticized a meeting in which, according to a broadcast report, Bush and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan discussed increasing oil production to drive down prices as the Nov. 2 election nears.

"I don't know if it was a deal, I don't know if it was a secret pledge, I don't know if it was just a friendly conversation among friends," Kerry said. "The fact remains that whatever it was, the American people are getting a bad deal today."

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt rejected Kerry's assertion.

"John Kerry delivered a deliberately false attack today, the basis of which has been refuted," he said.

Kerry's comment seemed a little vague to be "deliberately false."

NFL player dies in Afghanistan

...the White House put out a statement of sympathy that praised Tillman as "an inspiration both on an off the football field."

Does it seem shallow to anyone else that the WH would go out of its way to recognize a football player when over 700 Americans have died in Iraq without the administration saying anything other than that it was in the name of democracy.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Baath party members to be let into government
But I thought conservatives didn't like appeasement (but I'm sure they're doing this to ensure democracy...)

Homosexual, son of a Christian warrior
An excellent story.

House OKs quick elections
If Congress is attacked, we now have a route to fill their spots. Here is one of the unfortunate terms:

Permits the political parties of a State that are authorized to nominate candidates by State law to each nominate one candidate to run in the special election not later than ten days after the Speaker announces that the vacancy exists. Sets forth requirements for judicial review of any action which is brought for declaratory or injunctive relief to challenge an announcement made under this Act. Requires a final decision in an action to be made within three days of filing of such action. Makes a final decision non-reviewable.

So party leaders choose their candidates, and the courts can't stop it. Hmmm....

Victory for medical marijuana
California seems conistently ahead of the curve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

So I lied
Sometimes I can't resist. However, this was my last post of the night. Goodnight, loyal readers.

KtL down and out for the night
I would like to keep posting today, but some family issues have arisen that cannot be ignored, and I should get back to posting tomorrow.

U.S. hard to defend against terror
The original headline of this article was "Bush Pledges to Guide Iraq to Freedom."

Pelosi talks on war and deficit
Here's a transcript.

GOP talking points
Chuck Hagel on Iraq:

"Every ground squirrel in this country knows that it's going to be $50 billion to $75 billion in additional money required to sustain us in Iraq for this year," said Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

I agree. In order to succeed in Iraq we'll need more money. And probably more troops. But the question of how deep of a hole we're willing to dig will always be in the back of our heads. The way things are looking, pouring cash into the country may help rebuild, but it won't help Iraqis like us. No matter what, the Iraqis won't let us get credit for rebuilding. And they certainly aren't going to let us leave looking like heroes. We've made too many enemies for their to be a parade for our boys on the streets of Baghdad within this century.

Oil-For-Food scam
The best comments I could find on the massive abuse (involving bribery) of Oil-for-Food were by Austin Bay, aside from his anti-left ravings:

If the United States doesn’t force the United Nations to come clean about the deeply corrupted Oil for Food program and account for billions of skimmed Iraqi oil dollars, then we’re not merely fools, we’re party to the further degradation of a vital international institution.

18 children among Iraq dead
A sad day in Iraq.

Coalition still strong
Just because some allies are pulling out...

WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) - The White House insisted on Wednesday the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq was strong despite comments from staunch ally Poland that it may join three other nations in withdrawing troops.

On a day when at least 68 people died in suicide car bombings in southern Iraq, the Bush administration faced questions as to whether enough money was being allocated to fund U.S. military operations this year in Iraq.

Even when they're about to pull out, the media calls them a "staunch ally."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Pelosi set to blast Bush
Tomorrow our favorite little minority leader will unleash her wrath on the Iraq situation.

The FCC's bad decision
Stuart Benjamin on how the latest FCC strategy may blow up in its face.

When politics gets ugly
The face of conspiracy:

They wanted records
You don't have to black out any of this.

Arnold proposes hydrogen highway
A good idea....perhaps Arnold will lead by example and ditch his Hummer.

Saddam to be tried by a tribunal
Better than a U.S. court.

A Senator mentions the draft
Perhaps the administration is softening us up for the blow.

Americans respond to the body count surge

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. troops are dying in higher numbers in Iraq (news - web sites) this month than at any time during the war, with polls showing rising unease among Americans over the mounting death toll and doubts about the conflict's merits.

At least 106 U.S. troops have died in April amid fierce attacks by insurgents in both Sunni Muslim and Shi'ite regions -- far more than any month since the U.S.-led invasion to oust President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites). The previous peak was 82 deaths in November during an earlier spike in attacks by insurgents.

In 13 months of military involvement in Iraq, 709 Americans have been killed in Iraq, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The death toll in the first three weeks of April has about matched the 109 killed in combat from the March 2003 start of the invasion until President Bush (news - web sites) declared an end to "major combat" operations six weeks later. Bush made that declaration aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln standing in front of a banner stating, "Mission Accomplished."

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,201 U.S. adults published on Tuesday, 65 percent said there had been an "unacceptable" number of U.S. military casualties while 33 percent said the level was "acceptable."

Allow me to guess how many people in that 33% have friends and family on the line in Iraq....

The priviledges of power

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana was briefly detained Tuesday when airport security workers found a handgun in his briefcase as he was going through a checkpoint on a trip back to Washington.

The five-term Republican congressman was preparing to board a US Airways flight at Louisville International Airport when the gun was found, said his press secretary Michael Jahr.

"Apparently the congressman had left a handgun in his briefcase and forgot it was in there and took it to the security checkpoint, where it was detected and they detained him briefly to make sure he had no ill intent as they should do," Jahr said.

Oops! Good thing he's rich and white, because most people would have been held in a back room for hours, days, and possibly months if the feds felt like it.

Nader: military genius
Ralph says we should pull out of Iraq within six months. Well, that sure sounds a lot like the original plan, doesn't it? Why not just make it June 30th?

But if I had to pick, I'd rather pull out in 6 months than 10 years.

The new line on June 30

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said on Tuesday the June 30th transfer of authority in Iraq (news - web sites) was just a step toward self-rule and not "a magical date."

Pressed on how Iraq would assume sovereignty amid weeks of spiraling violence, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called June 30th "just one step in a process," and not "a magical date" in which the U.S.-led occupation will shift responsibilities to a new Iraqi government.

But at a news conference last Friday with British prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites), Bush said of the June 30 handover:

"One of the essential commitments we've made to the Iraqi people is this: They will control their own country. No citizen of America or Britain would want the government of their nation in the hands of others and neither do the Iraqis. This is why the June 30th date for the transfer of sovereignty will be kept."

So now June 30th won't even be that big of a day. BushCo has made it so we can hand over perhaps a couple districts in Baghdad and still have kept our word. Nice.

Bad news for Rush
Drug makers are trying to eliminate painkillers' high.

Who has the money
We're kicking Bush's ass this year.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Lest we forget
Q Mr. President, why are you and the Vice President insisting on appearing together before the 9/11 Commission? And, Mr. President, who will you be handing the Iraqi government over to on June 30th?

THE PRESIDENT: We will find that out soon.

Hopefully they've made some progress in the last few days.

NORAD drills involved planes as weapons
This is some big time incompetence:

In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties.

In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon — but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic, NORAD and Defense officials say.

NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. It said the scenarios outlined were regional drills, not regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises.

"Numerous types of civilian and military aircraft were used as mock hijacked aircraft," the statement said. "These exercises tested track detection and identification; scramble and interception; hijack procedures; internal and external agency coordination and operational security and communications security procedures."

A White House spokesman said Sunday that the Bush administration was not aware of the NORAD exercises. But the exercises using real aircraft show that at least one part of the government thought the possibility of such attacks, though unlikely, merited scrutiny.

Rice's slip
How interesting:

A pressing issue of dinner-party etiquette is vexing Washington, according to a story now making the D.C. rounds: How should you react when your guest, in this case national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, makes a poignant faux pas? At a recent dinner party hosted by New York Times D.C. bureau chief Philip Taubman and his wife, Times reporter Felicity Barringer, and attended by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Maureen Dowd, Steven Weisman, and Elisabeth Bumiller, Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—” and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.” Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment.”

Oh dear.

WH, Saudis deny election oil deal
If they say so....but I guess we'll find out.

The reporters who sacrificed
A list of journalists who have died in Iraq.

Irony in media
Guess who is backing Bono in complaining about the FCC's decency rulings?

Fox. Have your conservative morals collapsed when money became an issue, Rupert?

The cultural divide
Suzanne Fields, commenting on the effect of TV on toddlers, tries to make it a political issue. Apparently liberals watch mature television with children in the room more than conservatives. Who knew.

Powell says he's in the loop
Or...that's what they tell him, at least.

Coalition of the willing unraveling
While Bush scolds Spain, it looks as if Honduras may pull out:

No country stepped forward immediately to take the place of Spain, which ranked sixth in contributing troops, and U.S. officials braced for a withdrawal of troops from Honduras, as well.

``Honduras was affected by the decision of Spain,'' State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. El Salvador and Nicaragua, the two other Central American countries with peacekeeping troops in Iraq, are holding fast, the spokesman said.

Who is leading?
A quick look at some polls brings me to the following conclusion: polls are useless.

How the CIA decided to go to war

On Jan. 2, 2002, CIA Director George J. Tenet met with Vice President Cheney -- at Cheney's request -- to brief him on what the agency could do in Iraq.

In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Iraq was much less of a priority than terrorism for Tenet, but not for one of the agency officials who accompanied him to the meeting, the chief of the Iraqi Operations Group, a former covert operations officer who can be identified only by his nickname, Saul.

Within the CIA's Near East Division, which handled some of the hardest, most violent countries, the Iraqi Operations Group was referred to as "The House of Broken Toys." It was largely populated with new, green officers and problem officers, or old boys waiting for retirement. After taking it over in August 2001, Saul had begun a full review of where the CIA stood with Iraq.

At 43, Saul had worked for years in sensitive undercover posts as a case officer and senior operator in CIA stations around the world. Saul was born in a small town in Cuba; his father had been involved in one of the most spectacular CIA failures -- the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco in which 1,200 Cuban exiles had been abandoned on the beach by their CIA sponsors. As Saul told associates, "I am here as the result of a failed CIA covert operation."

Now Saul had a blunt message for Cheney about covert operations and Saddam Hussein. He told Cheney that covert action would not remove Hussein. The CIA would not be the solution.

So two things have been established. First, our foreign policy is run by people whose names we don't know. Second, that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a top priority a maximum of 4 months after 9/11.

OK City bombing info comes out
A few things they never told us...

A victory for common sense
An SF court has ruled that anyone sentenced to death by a judge, not a jury, should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

My virgin ears
This story is defines "too much information."

Images of abortion
The concept of showing an abortion video is a disgusting display of appealing to emotion. Images of any surgery are bound to be hard to watch - the difference is that those images won't sway public opinion. Would you find it good politics if vegetarians showed video animals getting slaughtered? Not to compare the two processes, but both situations demonstrate aiming for people's stomachs in order to win over their hearts.

Farewell Tommy
Brokaw is signing off this December.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Chavez threatens oil
Says he'll hold his oil if Bush doesn't stay out of Venezuela's domestic affairs.

Chavez's days are numbered. Don't fuck with our oil, Hugo. You're screwed.

Rice disputes Woodward account...
...because if there is one thing we've learned these past 3 years, it's "trust Condi."

Who is better informed
Colin Powell of the House of Saud?

Not often is the question asked...
How close is Bush to the Saudi's?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, promised President Bush the Saudis would cut oil prices before November to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day, journalist Bob Woodward said in a television interview on Sunday.

In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" about his new book "Plan of Attack" on the Bush administration's preparations for the Iraq war, Woodward, a senior editor at the Washington Post, said Prince Bandar pledged the Saudi's would try to fine-tune oil prices to prime the U.S. economy for the election -- a move they understood would favor Bush's re-election.

George, you've stepped to new levels of ridiculousness.

Bremer says June 30th too early
Boston Globe:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi security forces will not be ready to protect the country against insurgents by the June 30 handover of power, the top U.S. administrator said Sunday -- an assessment aimed at defending the continued heavy presence of U.S. troops here even after an Iraqi goverment takes over.

The unusually blunt comments from L. Paul Bremer came amid a weekend of new fighting that pushed the death toll for U.S. troops in April to 99, already the record for a single-month in Iraq and approaching the number killed during the entire war.

No word on the president's new line.

More on the Log Cabin dilemma

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Gay Republicans are stung by President Bush's support for a ban on same-sex marriages and are divided over where to turn in November, with many weighing party loyalty against outrage.

That's a tough choice for any Republican.

June 30th
Shaping up to be a smooth hand off:

''We are starting from zero. The police force is full of people who are good for nothing, appointed because of who they know," said Brigadier General Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji, a former resistance fighter who is now responsible for nearly 60,000 police officers in Iraq's provinces as a deputy to the interior minister.

In Baghdad, as many as seven police stations -- more than 10 percent of the city's total -- were abandoned in the face of threats from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia during the first week of April, said Brigadier General Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister now responsible for Baghdad's police.

In three provincial cities -- Kut, Karbala, and Kufa -- police surrendered weapons and equipment to the militia and withdrew entirely from the streets. They also withdrew from stations in Nasiriyah, but did not cooperate with the rebels.

Details now emerging show that dozens of police stations came under coordinated attack at the peak of the fighting in the first weeks of April from either the Shi'ite Mahdi militia or from Sunni resistance fighters who view Iraqi police as collaborators with the occupation.

In Shi'ite areas, clerics accompanied by Mahdi fighters visited police stations at the beginning of the uprising and demanded that officers either join the militia or go home, Iraqi police officials said. In many cases, the police handed over uniforms, police vehicles, and machine guns to the militia.

Before the uprising, key police officers received warnings at their homes that their families would be killed if they protected police stations. Many chose not to return to work until the violence subsides, Iraqi police and a senior coalition official said.

And in cases where police officers chose to defend their stations from attacks, they were vastly outgunned, using light machine guns to fend off hundreds of fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers, hand-grenades, and heavy machine guns.

US and Iraqi officials said they are investigating every police officer to learn who shirked their duties and who mutinied during the tumultuous events this month, but they have refused to estimate the breadth of the problem. Still, some senior Iraqi police officials estimate that more than half of the nation's police force isn't qualified to be on the beat.

''In an emergency, I have 1,000 officers I can trust to control Baghdad," said the police chief for the entire capital region, Major General Jamal Abdullah al-Ma'athede. He has 10,000 officers under his authority and is responsible for a region of at least 6 million people.

Last week, as the situation in Baghdad calmed, Ma'athede gave an unusually frank assessment of the police force's response to the Shi'ite militia takeovers in several Baghdad neighborhoods earlier this month.

''There are no standards for someone to become an Iraqi police officer. He just comes from anywhere, says I was punished by Saddam, and now I want to be in the new police," Ma'athede said. ''No one checks them. No one examines them."

Sadr wants UN troops
al Sadr is calling for American troops to leave and UN peacekeepers to replace them. While it's tempting to use this as an excuse and cut and run, al Sadr is doing this for a reason. First, making the U.S. look as if it can't clean up the mess it created, and second driving a wedge between us and the international community. But this brings up an interesting question. Is Iraq unsuccessful because they don't want democracy, or because they don't want us to be the ones to give it to them?

CNN says Spain is pulling out of Iraq ASAP.


As much as I appreciate that Spain's government realizes the wrongness of the war, it just feels as if they are appeasing the terrorists by reacting to Madrid like this. Call me conservative, but how can they appear strong when they pull out at the sign of a counterattack?

11 troops dead this weekend for the freedom of a country that doesn't want it.

That makes 700.

The Sunni's find a friend in Sadr

The insurgency also appears to be generating new alliances -- and tensions -- among the major sectarian and ethnic groups in Iraq.

The most visible leader of the resistance is Sadr, a firebrand whose appeal long appeared to be limited to the young, unemployed Shiites who made up his militia, the Mahdi Army. However, in a surprising development, his poster began appearing this month at Sunni mosques that previously showed little interest in his activities.

Such displays of unity have dampened fears of a clash between the Sunni minority and Shiite majority communities. But worries about a different kind of civil war have been generated by reports that Iraq's ethnic Kurds are fighting alongside U.S. Marines and against the insurgency.

So we may not be giving them democracy, but at least we're uniting them! And it's just SO unlikely that a civil war between the Sunnis/Shiites and Kurds will break out after the Kurds fought along side American forces. And let's look at another excerpt:

Thousands of workers for private contractors have been confined to their quarters in the highly fortified Green Zone in Baghdad that also houses the headquarters of the U.S. occupation authority. Routine trips outside the compound to repair power plants, water-treatment facilities and other parts of Iraq's crumbling infrastructure have been deemed too dangerous, even with armed escorts.

Compounding the problem is a growing fear that insurgents will seek retribution against Iraqis working for private contractors and the occupation authority. Scores of Iraqis have stopped showing up for their jobs as translators, support staff and maintenance personnel in the Green Zone, even though there is a lack of lucrative employment elsewhere.

That doesn't bode well for reconstruction. It goes to show how effective the new strategy of targeting contractors and civilians has been. And perhaps that this isn't a war being waged on an army, but on a population.

The Palestinian question
It amazes me that some people think that Sharon is doing the Palestinians a favor by withdrawing from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Sharon knew that he had to do this for security purposes, aside from the fact that Israelis didn't want Gaza to begin with. So he goes to the WH to ask them how to spin it, and all of a sudden Sharon has made a bold move for peace. He then proved his commitment by continuing his highly successful assassination campaign.

Soldiers to get $1K/month after one year
After serving a year, our troops get an additional $1,000 a month. Sweet. Unfortunately, according to TIME magazine, private mercenaries in Iraq can get up to $2,000 a DAY. Nice deal.

Thousands attend funeral for anti-American rebels
It's amazing how these conservative Southern jackasses get away with this:

CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- Thousands of men in Civil War uniforms and women in black hoop skirts crowded into this antebellum city Saturday to pay final respects to the crew of the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy warship in battle.

The primitive, hand-cranked Confederate sub disappeared February 17, 1864, after ramming a powder charge into the Union ship Housatonic. It lay buried in the seabed off South Carolina until a group bankrolled by adventure writer Clive Cussler found it in 1995.

Naval historians credit the 43-foot sub with the first successful submarine assault on an enemy warship. The Hunley was brought to the surface in 2000. It was moved it to a laboratory in North Charleston, and the remains of its eight-man crew were found inside.

Honoring them because they killed Americans doesn't seem like it's worth my time.