Saturday, June 12, 2004

Serbs admit to killings
I know the source is iffy, but the story checks out. It seems to Serbs have admitted to their crimes. Where are the Milosevic apologists on the right on this issue, exactly?

Deputy foreign minister assassinated
I don't wanna seem like such a liberal, searching for the bad in Iraq and ignoring the good...but we're 18 days from a handoff and the insurgents look ready and willing to tear apart the new government.

Blame gay marriage
Limbaugh divorcing? How dare he defile such a sacred institution!

Straight to the top
How unsurprising:

The head of the interrogation center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told an Army investigator in February that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners there had been requested by "White House staff," according to an account of his statement obtained by The Washington Post.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist who took control of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center on Sept. 17, 2003, said a superior military intelligence officer told him the requested information concerned "any anti-coalition issues, foreign fighters, and terrorist issues."

The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, asked Jordan whether it concerned "sensitive issues," and Jordan said, "Very sensitive. Yes, sir," according to the account, which was provided by a government official.

The reference by Jordan to a White House link with the military's scandal-plagued intelligence-gathering effort at the prison was not explored further by Taguba, whose primary goal at that time was to assess the scope of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The White House was unable to provide an immediate explanation.

Friday, June 11, 2004

McCain rejects VP idea
While it puts that to rest, I must say it was well-played by the Kerry camp. While getting McCain the slot would have made Kerry nearly unstoppable this November, the fact that he could demonstrate the divide within the GOP and alert the public to the difference between popular moderates like McCain and the far right of the party. On top of that, it makes the Dems look strong by comparison, with a whole party locked behind Kerry (sans Zell, but honestly, who cares?)

Well, well, well
I am shocked:

TAMPA - Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation's air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left.

The men, one of them thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family, were accompanied by a former FBI agent and a former Tampa police officer on the flight to Lexington, Ky.

The Saudis then took another flight out of the country. The two ex-officers returned to TIA a few hours later on the same plane.

For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.

The odyssey of the small LearJet 35 is part of a larger controversy over the hasty exodus from the United States in the days immediately after 9/11 of members of the Saudi royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden.

The terrorism panel, better known as the 9/11 Commission, said in April that it knew of six chartered flights with 142 people aboard, mostly Saudis, that left the United States between Sept. 14 and 24, 2001. But it has said nothing about the Tampa flight.

The commission's general counsel, Daniel Marcus, asked TIA in a letter dated May 25 for any information about "a chartered flight with six people, including a Saudi prince, that flew from Tampa, Florida on or about Sept. 13, 2001." He asked for the information no later than June 8.

TIA officials said they sent their reply on Monday.

The airport used aircraft tracking equipment normally assigned to a noise abatement program to determine the identity of all aircraft entering TIA airspace on Sept. 13, and found four records for the LearJet 35.

The plane first entered the airspace from the south, possibly from the Fort Lauderdale area, sometime after 3 p.m. and landed for the first time at 3:34 p.m. It took off at 4:37 p.m., headed north. It returned to Tampa at 8:23 p.m. and took off again at 8:48 p.m., headed south.

Unbelievable. May the roof collapse on the White House.

Interest rates to soar
Bad news for the housing market:

Federal Reserve bank president today all but declared that the central bank will raise a key interest short-term rate later this month, and he warned that the pace of rate increases to follow may come more quickly than he and his colleagues recently envisioned.

"Given the economic growth and rising prices now unfolding, the general direction of our next policy move should be clear -- barring any unexpected events," said Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Jack Guynn, according to the text of a speech scheduled to be delivered this morning. Guynn noted the recent flare-up in inflation, but he said it is still at a low level that he believes is "acceptable." However he warned that he, for one, is prepared to scrap the idea of raising rates at a "measured" pace if inflation keeps rising.

Guynn's remarks strongly reinforce recent signals from other Fed officials, including Chairman Alan Greenspan, that they will raise their benchmark Federal funds rate at their next meeting, June 29-30. And he echoed Greenspan's warning Tuesday that the Fed policymakers will move as aggressively as needed to keep inflation under control, despite their statement after their last meeting, early in May, that they likely could raise rates at a "measured" pace.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

No new nukes
Bush's "mini-nuke" idea was just gunned down. Good riddance.

New Paltz gay marriage charges dropped
Fantastic news.

Chuck Colson on Iraq

The fact is, you see, that uncertainty and mess are unavoidable elements of war, but if that’s all you hear, you begin to think the sky is falling. And that’s what has been happening in Iraq. But as Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard writes, “To share the Iraq-is-lost sentiment, one must ignore a spate of good news.”

For example, while there is trouble in the Sunni Triangle, Victor Davis Hanson notes that in Kurdistan, the northern third of Iraq, “seven million people live under humane government with less than 300 American troops.”

What? Is the fact that the Kurds haven't rebelled "good news"? I don't recall anyone worrying too much about the Kurdish population fighting us - in fact, support for the war was always highest among them. There was never any fear of insurgents on the Kurdish side. It's not that there is no rebellion DESPITE the fact that there are so few troops - there are so few troops because there was never any chance of an uprising.

Christians gone wild

A newly-formed group of Christian activists has begun plans to encourage up to 12,000 like-minded individuals to move to South Carolina. Their hope is to eventually withdraw that state from the United States and "reestablish the sovereign Christian nation of South Carolina."

The Tyler, Texas-based Christian Exodus has launched a Web site,, and has begun encouraging visitors to sign up to participate in what the Web site says is "an association of Christians who no longer wish to live under the unjust usurpation of powers by the federal government."

According to the organization's Web site, "Christians have actively tried to return the United States to their moral foundations for more than 20 years. We now have a 'Christian' president, a 'Christian' attorney general, and a Republican Congress and Supreme Court. Yet consider this:

Abortion continues against the wishes of many states

Children may not pray in our schools

The Bible is not welcome in schools except under strict federal guidelines

The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display

Sodomy is now legal and celebrated as 'diversity' rather than perversion Preaching Christianity will soon be outlawed as 'hate speech' separated from line above

Gay marriage will be foisted upon us in the very near future"

The group's solution is to convince at least 12,000 people to move to South Carolina, where it is hoped their numbers will be sufficient to influence state and local politics with the "express purpose of reestablishing a Godly, constitutional government." Ultimately, the group hopes to convince voters to somehow withdraw the state from the United States and form an independent, Christian-oriented country.

I say go for it. One less Republican state, 12,000 less fundies running around...where's the downside?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Frist wants Pentagon to be renamed after Gipper
The Reagangon? Why not name something that he actually helped create after him? You know, like poverty.

WH plays stem cell cards well
How do you make yourself clear without opening yourself to attack from within your own party on stem cells? Send out the first lady.

More abuse information
Here we go again:

SAN FRANCISCO - A California National Guardsman says three fellow soldiers brazenly abused detainees during interrogation sessions in an Iraqi police station, threatening them with guns, sticking lit cigarettes in their ears and choking them until they collapsed.

Sgt. Greg Ford said he repeatedly had to revive prisoners who had passed out, and once saw a soldier stand on the back of a handcuffed detainee's neck and pull his arms until they popped out of their sockets.

"I had to intervene because they couldn't keep their hands off of them," said Ford, part of a four-member team from the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion that questioned detainees last year in Samarra, north of Baghdad. He said the abuse took place from April to June.

Ford's commanding officers deny any abuse occurred, and say investigations within their battalion and by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division determined they had done nothing wrong.

"All the allegations were found to be untrue, totally unfounded and in a number of cases completely fabricated," said the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Drew Ryan.

Ford's allegations are being further investigated by the CID, which would not comment on the probe.

Ford told The Associated Press that when he reported the problems last June to his commanding officers, they pressured him to drop his claims.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Don't forget...
Torture may be against international law, but we can still do it!

GOP treads softly on stem cells
How can you stick with your ideals and still mourn your fallen hero, whose death was hastened by them? Good question:

Republicans plan a major tribute at the GOP convention in New York to Ronald Reagan, but they could pay a high political price for Nancy Reagan's participation, GOP sources said yesterday.

"It's going to be a clear and solemn tribute, a significant tribute" to Reagan when the Republicans meet at Madison Square Garden in August to renominate President Bush, said a GOP official.

Plans for the convention salute already were being discussed with the Reagan family. "We're talking to them," the official said.

At the last GOP convention, in Philadelphia four years ago, the delegates watched a moving photo montage tribute to Reagan, followed by a brief appearance by Mrs. Reagan.

But her appearance this summer could come with a price tag. Mrs. Reagan has made no secret of her disagreement with Bush's limits on stem cell research for a possible cure for Alzheimer's disease, which robbed her husband of his memory in the last 10 years of his life.

Will Nancy put it on the line and speak up on stem cells? Damn right she will. And I say it's excellence. Bad political news for the GOP plus a possible liberalizing of stem cell research restrictions. It's win-win.

Where are the jobs?
Norma Sherry comments on exactly WHAT new jobs are being created:

According to the spin, more than 650,000 American workers found employment in the last two months. But there's no mention of how many jobs disappeared during that period, or of how many unemployed people ran out of benefits and are no longer included in the employment statistics.

If you've listened to conservative radio or Fox News lately then you already know the good news. Jobs are aplenty! In fact, according to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and President Bush, we are in the midst of a huge boom! According to the spin, more than 650,000 American workers found employment in the last two months. Mighty spectacular, wouldn't you say?

The problem with the numbers, however, is what's wrong with nearly every pronouncement from this administration. It's clothed in a semblance of truth, but it disguises the real facts. The truth is we have more educated, specialized, articulate, unemployed workers than ever in our history. It doesn't consider The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 80,000 to 90,000 unemployed become ineligible for unemployment benefits every week and therefore, are no longer counted among the unemployed.

We're not told that we have lost over three million industrial jobs since George Bush took office, nor are we told that since our "recovery" we have lost over a million manufacturing jobs or three million private sector jobs. The fact that the job "boom" was in low-salaried temporary and retail positions has been left out of the explanations for the "good news," or that very few new jobs were in high-paying trades and services.

Strange sentence for animal neglect

A 28-year-old Baytown woman convicted of neglecting her horses will begin a 30-day jail sentence with three days of bread and water, courtesy of Harris County Criminal Court at Law Judge Mike Peters.

"She's going to get more than her horses got," Peters said Monday, after signing off on the unusual jail terms for Melissa Dawn Sweeney.

Sweeney was convicted last Friday on two counts of cruelty to animals for severely neglecting the two horses she kept outside her trailer home in Baytown. Each of the misdemeanor charges could have landed her in jail for up to a year.

Instead, Peters sentenced her Monday to 30 days in the Harris County Jail, with the stipulation that for the first three, she must endure his judicially imposed diet of bread and water.

Justice can be beautiful.

Is the GOP helping Nader?

The chairman of the state Democratic Party called Monday for an investigation into whether a Republican consultant is a major source of funding for a petition drive to put Ralph Nader on Arizona's presidential election ballot.

The consultant, Nathan Sproul, dismissed the claim as a "wild accusation that has no bearing in fact."

"I'm not being paid by anybody to do petitions (for Nader), and I've not paid anybody to do petitions," said Sproul, who served for three years as executive director of the state GOP before going into political consulting and management in 2002.

Democrats consider Nader a potential spoiler in Sen. John Kerry's bid to win the White House.

On the plus side, if they bust him he'd have to drop out.

Reagan books don't outsell Clinton
The liberal book craze continues...

Monday, June 07, 2004

Town Hall redux
10 columns are about Ronald Reagan over at Town Hall today. This includes one from Oliver North, who proclaimed him the best president of his lifetime. Yes, Ollie, I hear you two were close.

Church? State? Whatever.

WASHINGTON - Churches that mistakenly mix religious and political activity would face reduced fines but keep their tax exempt status under a provision in a corporate tax bill the House is to consider this week.

The proposal, which could invalidate the strict separation of religion and politics in current tax laws, was introduced by House Republicans the same week President Bush's re-election campaign targeted 1,600 Pennsylvania congregations to recruit voters.

Critics fear it would give politicians a pass to flout the rules without putting religious organizations at risk.

The mammoth bill, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, would impose reduced fines against churches and other places of worship that inadvertently allow political activity on their properties more than twice a year. On the third violation, the religious organizations would lose their tax exemption for one year.

"American Jobs Creation Act"? They're really stretching it with what they can throw into bills these days. Hell, why not add it to the PATRIOT Act? It's not like shame is getting in the way anymore.

al Qaeda warns of attacks
So al Qaeda is warning of a strike on Western airlines. Well, I'll tell you what. They're bullshitting. They never have given specific warnings before a real attack: did we hear about jetliners before 9/11 or nightclubs before Bali? No, because they never announce their actual attacks. But they do divert the attention, and that's what they're doing right now.

Teen wants 14 year olds to vote
Yeah...great idea. And should they be tried as adults and eligible to serve in the military? Or drive, for that matter? And why stop at 14? How about 12. Trust me, as someone who was recently of taht age group (well...not recently, but I remember it), that is not the kind of group we want running our nation. Unless you want J.Lo to get the presidential nomination from both parties every year.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Clarke's new offensive

I'm not sure everybody has grasped this," he says, pointing out that CIA Director George Tenet mentioned al Qaeda to the president "on 40 occasions" in morning briefings before Sept. 11, 2001. "Forty times, many of them in a very alarmed way, about a pending attack," Clarke declares. (The emphasis appears in the article.) "And, as far as I can tell from what has been said at the <9/11> commission, on one of these occasions, one out of 40, the president must have said something like, 'Well, what are we going to do about it?' "

At times it seems that the debate is less about how incompetent Bush is, and more about why the public isn't realizing it.

Didn't they get the memo?
It was recently declared that Sadr's militia had been defeated:

THE US military said today it had defeated the outlawed militia of flamboyant Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr across central Iraq, and denied that there was any truce with the radical preacher.

"The Moqtada militia is militarily defeated. We have killed scores of them over the last few weeks, and that is in Najaf alone," Brigadier General Mark Hertling, one of the top US commanders in charge of Najaf, told AFP.

"Over the past several days, Moqtada's militia has lost much of their stomach for fighting," he said, also declaring victory in the central cities of Kut, Diwaniyah and Karbala, dogged by fighting over the past two months.

"We have also destroyed their weapons stores and their offensive capability," he said.

Without any offensive capability, you'd think it'd be hard to, say, blow up a police station:

Militiamen loyal to firebrand Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr blew up a police station which had been occupied by the US army in their Baghdad bastion of Sadr City, witnesses and a militia source said today.

"US forces left the Karama police station ... and the militiamen came an hour and half later with explosives and blew up the building," one witness said.

He said residents of the northeastern Baghdad slum had pleaded with them not to blow up the building for fear of US reprisals. But the insurgents had chanted "Moqtada, Moqtada" before setting off the explosion.

Dropping the ball
Who is responsible for not acting on the Chalabi issue? Now we know:

Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), came under further pressure from Washington on Friday when it was reported the US intercepted an Iranian intelligence cable nine years ago which discussed a meeting with him in northern Iraq.

Chalabi, who was supported by the Pentagon during the Iraq invasion, has been accused by US intelligence officials of passing secrets to Tehran this year.

Former intelligence officials have pointed to the intercept as evidence the INC leader had longstanding ties to Iranian intelligence. They say the CIA informed the Pentagon of its suspicions but was ignored