Saturday, May 01, 2004

The truth trickles out
Bremer said before 9/11 that Bush was weak on terror.

Souter attacked
MSNBC is reporting that SCOTUS Justice David Souter was attacked and beaten while jogging. He is not badly injured.

UPDATE: Linkage.

More on British abuse
I advise reading this only if you have a decently strong stomach.

6 year old caught with pot

A teacher might be used to finding rocks or frogs in little boys' pockets, but a kindergartner with marijuana in his pocket shocked everybody.

The 6-year-old from Raines Elementary School was on a field trip at the Jackson zoo on Friday when he showed the marijuana to several other students, who told the teacher, Jackson Police Department spokesman Robert Graham said.

"It was not like he had a big bag of weed in his pocket ... He had some seeds and little stems ... not even enough to roll a joint," said Graham.
No charges were filed against the child, whose name was not released. Police took him back to school and notified his parents. Graham said the boy "knew what he had."

"He was, naturally, scared. He knew he was in trouble," Graham said.

The child told police he had found the marijuana on the porch of his home.

There would be no way to prove whose it was, Graham said.

School Principal Melissa McCray did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Jackson Public Schools' policy is to expel any student caught with drugs, although the superintendent can modify the discipline.

"Unless there are some extenuating circumstances, the zero tolerance (policy) is usually adhered to ... This breaks my heart, to think that any child ... would ever have access to illegal drugs," said Peggy Crowell, assistant superintendent for student services and alternative education.

Am I reading that correctly? The kid is going to be expelled? Holy shit. Our country needs a nice long lesson in "what is best for kindergartners." The kid found some weed and showed it to some other kids. Take the weed from him, question the parents, and let it be.

Oh, the paradox
The ACLU filed to challenge the PATRIOT Act, but the public was kept unaware of the suit. Why? Because of a gag provision in the PATRIOT Act.

Attack in Saudi Arabia
2 Americans are dead.

Florida's creationist theme park
It's stories like this that brighten my day - at least I'm not one of these people:

PENSACOLA, Fla., April 29 — Robert and Schön Passmore took their children to Disney World last fall and left bitterly disappointed. As Christians who reject evolutionary theory, the family scoffed at the park's dinosaur attractions, which date the apatosaurus, brachiosaurus and the like to prehistoric times.

Kent Hovind, the minister who opened the park in 2001, said his aim was to spread the message of creationism through a fixture of mainstream America — the theme park — instead of pleading its case at academic conferences and in courtrooms.

Mr. Hovind, a former public school science teacher with his own ministry, Creation Science Evangelism, and a hectic lecture schedule, said he had opened Dinosaur Adventure Land to counter all the science centers and natural history museums that explain the evolution of life with Darwinian theory. There are dinosaur bone replicas, with accompanying explanations that God made dinosaurs on Day 6 of the creation as described in Genesis, 6,000 years ago. Among the products the park gift shop peddles are T-shirts with a small fish labeled "Darwin" getting gobbled by a bigger fish labeled "Truth."

We live in a country where someone can waste that much money on a cause so ridiculous. God bless America.

Cali. bans touchscreen voting

British said to have tortured prisoners also

LONDON (Reuters) - A probe has been launched into allegations British soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners, a day after similar revelations involving U.S. troops received widespread condemnation.

Britain's army chief General Sir Mike Jackson ordered an immediate inquiry after it emerged that the Daily Mirror in its Saturday editions was to publish photos of British soldiers abusing prisoners.

The paper told Reuters the images included one of a British soldier urinating on a crouching, hooded Iraqi.

"I am aware of the allegations which have been made today of abuse of prisoners by British soldiers in Iraq," Jackson said in a statement.

"The allegations are already under investigation. If proven not only is such appalling conduct clearly unlawful it clearly contravenes the British army's high standards.

"If proven the perpetrators are not fit to wear the queen's uniform
. They have besmirched the good name of the army and its honour."

Friday, April 30, 2004

Accused soldiers didn't know Geneva rules
Oh, so they thought torture was cool, as far as the international community is concerned. This brings up a pretty simple question: why the hell don't ALL of our soldiers know the Geneva rules?

TPM on Bush's race problem
Josh Marshall notes how Bush's crew is shifting their words to make it seem as if those who oppose his Iraq policy are actually racist.

NYT on Bush/Cheney questioning

WASHINGTON, April 29 — President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were questioned in the Oval Office for more than three hours on Thursday by the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. They said intelligence warnings they received throughout 2001 suggested that Al Qaeda was poised to strike overseas, not on American soil, according to accounts of commission and administration officials.

But wasn't the title of that PDB "bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."? I would have taken that as a hint that perhaps bin Laden was determined to strike in the U.S.

Jesse Helms' granddaughter to step into public arena
May the White Christian God help us all.

Backlash for Iraqi prisoner abuse strong
The more I think about this, the more I realize how widespread this will be shown across the world, and how much damage it will do to our reputation. I am aware that of all the thousands of Iraqi POWs, the abuse of a few is relatively minute. However, it's still an important issue to confront, and the rest of the world, notably Arabs, wouldn't buy that argument anyway. The saddest part about this to me is that when several American POWs returned, they reported surprisingly good conditions. It's sad that certain soldiers must deface the name of our military for their own sick satisfaction.

1,361 Iraqis dead in April
That's ten times the U.S. dead. However, what no one seems to bring up is that the ratio of the dead in Vietnam was over 20-1 in our favor. And that was in the jungle, with half the technology our soldiers have today. So a 10-1 ratio might not be the best sign. After all, we are the best fighting force in the world.

Cheney praises FNC
As if we needed more proof that they are slanted to the right:

Vice President Cheney endorsed the Fox News Channel during a conference call last night with tens of thousands of Republicans who were gathered across the country to celebrate a National Party for the President Day organized by the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Fox News styles its coverage as "fair and balanced," but it has a heavy stable of conservative commentators that makes it a favorite around the White House. It is unusual for a president or vice president to single out a commercial enterprise for public praise.

The comment came as Cheney took questions from supporters at 5,245 parties that were held in 50 states to energize grass-roots volunteers building a precinct-by-precinct army for President Bush's campaign.

"It's easy to complain about the press -- I've been doing it for a good part of my career," Cheney said. "It's part of what goes with a free society. What I do is try to focus upon those elements of the press that I think do an effective job and try to be accurate in their portrayal of events. For example, I end up spending a lot of time watching Fox News, because they're more accurate in my experience, in those events that I'm personally involved in, than many of the other outlets."

Dick, you have rendered me speechless, and your own opinion worthless.

Anniversary time!
What was happening a year ago today?

And in a twist that delights me, Bush is actually defending the speech:

As to the carrier speech, Bush said, ''A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.''

Oh, was that the mission? Because I could've sworn that the mission involved winning the war itself. My mistake. And of course, why did more soldiers die after "major combat" ended?

Requesting information
Anyone care to inform me on the source of my recent traffic spike?

What's happening in Fallujah?
They're gonna pull out!

They've pulled out!

They aren't pulling out!

It's a madhouse!

McCain blasts Sinclair in letter
Via Drudge, McCain's response to Sinclair Broadcasting's demanding that ABC affiliates not show tonight's Nightline, which will consist solely of the reading of fallen soldiers' names:

I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair's ABC affiliates to preempt this evening's Nightline program. I find deeply offensive Sinclair's objection to Nightline's intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.

I supported the President's decision to go to war in Iraq, and remain a strong supporter of that decision. But every American has a responsibility to understand fully the terrible costs of war and the extraordinary sacrifices it requires of those brave men and women who volunteer to defend the rest of us; lest we ever forget or grow insensitive to how grave a decision it is for our government to order Americans into combat. It is a solemn responsibility of elected officials to accept responsibility for our decision and its consequences, and, with those who disseminate the news, to ensure that Americans are fully informed of those consequences.

There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.

UPDATE: The Center for American Progress has the low-down on Sinclair, which you can see over at Atrios.

UMass student apologizes to Tillman family

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Anti-abortion, pro-death
Another abortion clinic shooting.

Thank God for the Cold War

WASHINGTON - The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists told Congress that at the end of last year it had just four full-time employees dedicated to investigating Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's wealth while nearly two dozen were working on Cuban embargo violations.

In addition, the Office of Foreign Assets Control said that between 1990 and 2003 it opened just 93 enforcement investigations related to terrorism and collected just $9,425 in fines for terrorism financing violations since 1994.

In contrast, OFAC opened 10,683 enforcement investigations since 1990 for possible violations of the long-standing economic embargo against Fidel Castro (news - web sites)'s regime, and collected more than $8 million in fines since 1994, mostly from people who sent money to, did business with or traveled to Cuba without permission.

In its letter late last year to the Senate committee, OFAC disclosed it had two full-time employees investigating bin Laden's wealth and two others "dedicated to identifying individuals and entities" that may hold Saddam's leftover money.

Surely the right will cry out in anger that the government spent too much time watching socialists while bin Laden was getting away.

Pentagon No. 2 screws up big

WASHINGTON - Asked how many American troops have died in Iraq, the Pentagon's No. 2 civilian estimated Thursday the total was about 500 — more than 200 soldiers short.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was asked about the toll at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee. "It's approximately 500, of which — I can get the exact numbers — approximately 350 are combat deaths," he responded

"He misspoke," spokesman Charley Cooper said later. "That's all."

American deaths Thursday were at 722 — 521 of them from combat — since the start of military operations in Iraq last year, according to the Department of Defense.

Misspoke? It's one thing to trip up and not notice - it seems as if his combat death estimate was actually proportional to his initial false estimate. If one of the most important men in the military cannot identify how many troops we've lost, how exactly can he help win a war?

Kerry: Bush weak on chem plant defense

"It's nearly two-and-a-half years after 9/11 and the administration is still dragging its heels and we're still fighting to secure chemical plants where a terrorist attack could be devastating," Kerry said in remarks prepared for the National Conference of Black Mayors.

"I wish their policies were as tough as their words," he said. "What are we waiting for? Why won't they lead this nation to take every step to prevent one of our own chemical plants from being turned into a weapon of mass destruction against our own people?"


College student: Tillman no hero

AMHERST, Mass. -- A University of Massachusetts student has openly criticized Pat Tillman, calling the former NFL player a Rambo-like idiot in the school paper.

The column in question was submitted by graduate student Rene Gonzalez and published Wednesday in the Daily Collegian. It was titled "Pat Tillman is not a hero: he got what was coming to him."

Gonzalez writes that Tillman was a "Rambo" who probably acted out of "nationalist patriotic fantasies." In his own neighborhood in Puerto Rico, according to Gonzalez, Tillman would not have been considered a hero, but a "pendejo," or idiot.

The column drew harsh criticism from many on campus. University president Jack Wilson says the op-ed piece was "disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature."

Saying that Tillman was not a hero is one thing - degrading his service and sacrifice and saying that he deserved to die is entirely disgusting.

Bush gets commissioned

"If we had something to hide, we wouldn't have met with them in the first place," Bush said.

Yes, THAT wouldn't have been obvious.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Drugs vs. Terror
TNR goes into what I've stated in the past: the drug war takes away resources for the war on terror.

Houston, we have a sex-related problem
What do you do when your astronauts are hundreds of miles off in space and need some lovin'? Well, this wouldn't even be a problem if we had some good Christian astronauts.

Qaddafi threatens EU
He may have just signed his death warrant.

Let them vote
Lambert at corrente poses a simple question.

CBS obtains prisoner abuse photos
How not to win over the world:

NEW YORK (AP) U.S. military police stacked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid, and attached wires to one detainee to convince him he might be electrocuted, according to photographs obtained by CBS News which led to criminal charges against six American soldiers.

CBS said the photos, to be shown Wednesday night on ''60 Minutes II,'' were taken late last year at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where American soldiers were holding hundreds of prisoners captured during the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In March, the U.S. Army announced that six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade faced court martial for allegedly abusing about 20 prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The charges included dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.

In addition to those criminal charges, the military has recommended disciplinary action against seven U.S. officers who helped run the prison, including Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Brigade, a senior military official said Wednesday in Baghdad.

The investigation recommended administrative action against several of the commanders, which could include punishments up to relieving them of their commands, said the official, speaking on condition on anonymity.

When the abuse charges were first announced, U.S. military officials declined to provide details about the evidence. But on Wednesday, at a news briefing in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the investigation began in January when an American soldier reported the abuse and turned over evidence that included photographs.

''That soldier said, 'There are some things going on here that I can't live with,''' said Kimmitt, who also confirmed that CBS had obtained the photographs.

At the very least, it's reassuring to know that for every soldier willing to break a rule, we have one brave enough to stand up for justice and remind us why we have so much faith in our troops.

The upcoming split in the right-wing ranks
As Pat Buchanan's column demonstrates, there is quite the rift forming between traditional conservatives and neoconservatives. Of course, this is good news for Dems. The break off of some liberals to form the Green Party made Republicans appear to be the united party. But with social/moral conservatism falling fast, many on the right are moving to Libertarianism, and others to the up and coming Constitution Party, a far-right, traditional conservative haven. So perhaps Nader cost us 2000 and might fuck up 2004 just as badly; 2012 might be a Republican hell.

No recording of Bush/Cheney vs. commission

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush's aides have decided not to allow a recording or make a transcription of the appearance, in part because of the classified information that will be discussed. The 10-member commission will be allowed to have one staff member present to take notes.

So what's the rest of the reasoning? So we don't have to see Bush make an ass of himself?

Zell Miller: nutcase

WASHINGTON - Zell Miller, Georgia's maverick Democratic senator, says the nation ought to return to having senators appointed by legislatures rather than elected by voters.

Miller, who is retiring in January, was first appointed to his post in 2000 after the death of Paul Coverdell. He said Wednesday that rescinding the 17th Amendment, which declared that senators should be elected, would increase the power of state governments and reduce the influence of Washington special interests.

"The individuals are not so much at fault as the rotten and decaying foundation of what is no longer a republic," Miller said on the Senate floor. "It is the system that stinks. And it's only going to get worse because that perfect balance our brilliant Founding Fathers put in place in 1787 no longer exists."

The Constitution called for voters to directly elect members to the U.S. House but empowered state legislatures to pick senators. The aim was to create a bicameral Congress that sought to balance not only the influence of small and large states but also the influence of state and federal governments.

Miller said that balance was destroyed in 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment. He has introduced a resolution, which he acknowledges has no chance of passage, to repeal the 17th Amendment and again let state legislatures pick senators.

And while we're repealing all these confangled new amendments, why don't we take away women's voting rights. Then Republican's like Zell can rule Washington. What's that? He's still a Dem? Well, shit.

Iranian court asks U.S. for $600 million for chem attacks
Even in inevitably turning this down, the U.S. is going to have to confront its previous support of Saddam, which while of course never denying, we've done a great job of not mentioning.

Iraqis confused on war results
Polls show that Iraqis think that the war did more harm than good, but think that in the end it was a good thing. It seems like they may need a class on logics....

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

GOP primary results
Keep track of Specter/Toomey.

Dateline to list war dead names Friday
Koppel will spend the show reading off the names of our boys and girls killed in Iraq.

The al Qaeda abortion connection

In response to a question on the abortion issue in the current presidential race, [Karen] Hughes responded that U.S. attitudes on this issue had changed since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

"I think after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," Hughes said.

"And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life," Hughes said.

On the armor crisis

Five of the Pentagon’s key acquisition officials were called to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to explain why armor to protect troops against IEDs has been so slow in getting to Iraq.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he is concerned that the Pentagon’s defense acquisition system does not have “the ability to rapidly meet our soldiers’ needs” for force protection, especially protecting convoys against improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs.

Hunter noted that the number of fuel tanker trucks in Iraq “that have been destroyed now by attacks is between 80 and 100.”

Steel panels to armor up to 60 gun trucks against improvised explosive devices are languishing on a loading dock in Pennsylvania, while troops in Iraq cobble together homemade plywood barriers in an effort to protect themselves, according to Hunter.

But Hunter said he’s also worried that the Bush administration has not earmarked enough funds in its 2005 Pentagon budget request to Congress to fully meet the Army’s projected need for up-armored Humvees and add-on kits.

Ronald Reagan U. to be formed
By the time they build it, I imagine the old bastard will be dead.

Globe confirms Kerry's story
Thomas Oliphant confirms Kerry's account of the medal-throwing hubbub.

Even if you hate Dems...
You can't deny our sense of humor.

Bad news for Arlen
Turnout is weak in the Philly region...the region Specter needs to come out over Toomey.

Coulter on insanity
From her new rant on Specter (Republicans don't seem to be aware how bad Toomey will be for them):

In a democratic process, liberals could never persuade Americans to vote for their insane ideas – abortion on demand, gay marriage and adoption, handgun confiscation, cross-district busing, abolishing the death penalty and affirmative action quotas.

Yeah, I hear abortion is really unpopular these days. Just ask these people:

Monday, April 26, 2004

Kerry: don't hide soldiers' bodies
The Age:

Democrat presidential challenger John Kerry has criticised the sacking of two cargo workers who photographed flag-draped coffins of American soldiers, saying such images should not be hidden from the public.

"I believe that keeping faith with those who served also requires us to understand the sacrifice they're making and to honour it when they come home to the fullest measure," the Massachusetts senator said during a rally for his presidential campaign.


Just a thought...
But if I ever win a medal, isn't it mine to throw? Am I disrespecting baseball if I throw my 5th grade little league trophy?

1/4 of Iraq losses due to lack of armor
Perhaps we should stop spending money on outdated subs and nuclear technology and start spending some on equipping our boys.

Contracters in Iraq punished for wrongdoings
But at least we are paying them to get things done in the Middle East.

Partisanship and the commission
TNR has a grand bashing of the right-wing line that the 9/11 commission is a Democratic tool.

Cheney bragged about cutting defense
The Center for American Progress reminds us what Cheney said about the importance of defense spending in 1990, despite his recent comments that Kerry is weak on defense:

As former Secretary of Defense, Vice President Cheney bragged about cutting defense spending. In February 1990, Cheney told Congress" since I became Secretary, we've been through a fairly major process of reducing the defense budget." Cheney stated that during his the first year of his tenure, he "cut almost $65 billion out of the five-year defense program" and that subsequent proposals would "take another $167 billion out."

"Foreign fighters" not so foreign in Fallujah
Bush's new primary reason for invading Iraq - the war on terror - isn't holding up so well. Turns out most of the fighters in Fallujah are native Iraqis - not foreign terrorists.

GOP attack dogs...short on material
The NY Daily News has an article about Teresa Heinz-Kerry's comment that abortion "stops the process of life." Well, duh. Is that hypocritical for a pro-choicer to say? Certainly not. Apparently though, that's enough of a reason for Drudge to post the story.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Morale back home
Camp Pendleton dispatch.

Bush economics
corrente breaks it down.

Israel's mistake?
The WaPo has an article describing how assassinations of Hamas spiritual leaders has led to the rise of the military wing of Hamas:

"The worst thing is a headless Hamas," said Eyad Sarraj, a prominent Palestinian psychiatrist and human rights advocate who has closely monitored the role of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "A headless Hamas means too many heads, too many agendas. Then you can't control exactly what happens."

With the assassination of the most influential leaders of Hamas, and raids that have killed or captured nearly the entire West Bank military command structure, the military wing in the Gaza Strip has become the most dominant faction of the organization, according to Israeli military officials and Palestinian officials.

Mohammed Deif and Adnan Ghoul, the leaders of the military wing -- known as the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades -- remain in command, and the ranks of disciplined and well-armed fighters are largely intact, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. The two leaders are among Israel's most wanted men: Ghoul has survived at least three Israeli assassination attempts, including one that killed his son on June 27, 2003, and Deif has escaped at least four assassination efforts by Israel, though he reportedly lost an eye during an attack last September.

"The new generation of leaders thinks in only one way -- the military wings," said Imad Falouji, a Palestinian legislator and former Hamas member who has authored a book about the organization. "The new policy is more dangerous for Israel than ever before. Now there is only a military policy; there is nothing political now."

Choice rally packs National Mall
I've been away for most of the day, but I had to give the abortion rights march some attention.