Saturday, July 03, 2004

Saddam statue toppling staged
Well, this just confirms suspicions:

The Army's internal study of the war in Iraq criticizes some efforts by its own psychological operations units, but one spur-of-the-moment effort last year produced the most memorable image of the invasion.

As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel — not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images — who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking.

After the colonel — who was not named in the report — selected the statue as a "target of opportunity," the psychological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, according to an account by a unit member.

More on the purge list
Looks like Florida's little list has a lot of pardoned felons on it, also. Gotta love democracy!

Scandals, scandals
Is the U.S. depleting the Iraq fund?

WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials in charge of the Development Fund for Iraq drained all but $900 million from the $20 billion fund by late last month in what a watchdog group has called an "11th-hour splurge."

An international monitoring board is planning an audit of money from the fund that was spent on contracts for Iraq's reconstruction that were approved without competitive bidding.

The fund, made up largely of Iraqi oil revenue, is intended to pay for the rebuilding of Iraq. Critics have charged that U.S. officials have failed to account properly for money spent so far.

In a report this week, the General Accounting Office said that "contracts worth billions of dollars in Iraqi funds have not been independently reviewed." It also questioned what control over U.S.-approved contracts would now exist with the handover of formal sovereignty to Iraqis.

Well, well. How typical of the mess we've gotten ourselves into.

al Qaeda threatens Europe
Wow, these guys are tactical geniuses. Yes, attacking Europe will really prevent the U.S. from attacking you. Keep up the good work, guys.

Drug war victory out west
Things are going well over in California.

Witty quip not needed
Oh Colin. If you want to watch a video of the only respectable BushCo worker embarassing himself, it's here. I imagine it'd get even funnier if you add alcohol to the mix.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Sudan, Iraq, and our moral dilemma
I'm getting a little sick and tired of all the moralizing from the right on Iraq, and how much better the world will be without Saddam. Are we supposed to believe that they actually have a goal of making life better for the global populace? Do they expect us to swallow that bullshit?

The national security argument for Iraq has fallen apart. The deeper we get into the war the clearer it becomes that Saddam was much less of a threat than was purported by the government. And so everyone falls back on the "it was for the people" argument. Give me a break.

Bush said in March 2003, "We have seen far too many instances in the past decade - from Bosnia to Rwanda to Kosovo - where the failure of the Security Council to act decisively has led to tragedy." I can't imagine that his war effort could be described as anything better.

If the right had a humanitarian streak - it doesn't - it'd be crying about Dafur, the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since Rwanda (which they often pout that Clinton didn't react to, as if they were crying for him to act). If Bush wants to prove his moral rhetoric, he could act in Sudan. But he won't, because it's not his nature. It's not the conservative nature.

The Iraq war was not a humanitarian war, and it never will be one, no matter how much empty rhetoric is spewed. To say that we went into Iraq with motives any more honorable than self-defense is ridiculous - to say that our primary purpose was humanitarian is an outright lie.

Remember the sarin?
Not too long ago, the conservatives were pouncing on an alleged sarin find (which, either way, was likely left over from the Iran-Iraq War of '80-'88). Well, it turns out that it wasn't legit:

Baghdad, Iraq - On June 16, 2004, an Iraqi civilian led Polish Soldiers to two 122mm rockets he had found in Al Hillah.

The rounds were tested and showed positive for Sarin gas. It has been determined that the rounds were left over from the Iran-Iraq war.

Due to the deteriorated state of the rounds and small quantity of remaining agent, these rounds were determined to have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against Coalition Forces.

The truth about the unemployment rate

Even though the economy has created 1.2 million jobs since January, some 265,000 people have dropped out of the job hunt during the same period. They would join some 19.1 million Americans in the same situation as Schwab, who are unemployed and not looking for work largely because they are convinced they won't find it. This figure, at a record level, is up 44 percent from 10 years ago.

"If this flow of nonworking Americans were to reverse, it would send the jobless rate toward 8 percent," says John Challenger of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas in Chicago.

That would certainly be the case in Pennsylvania, agrees the state's governor, Edward Rendell (D). The official unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, but it's "much greater," Rendell says, when factoring in men who have been cut off welfare and never got back into the workforce "and as a result never show up in the unemployment rolls."

Purging the vote
The list of the purged in Florida has been released.

VP choice next week?
Go Edwards!

Canada flips the bird to RIAA
Oh, Canada!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Some GOP dirty tricks busted
Am I the only one who consistently feels morally superior to these assholes?

CONCORD, N.H. - The former head a Republican consulting group pleaded guilty to jamming Democratic telephone lines in several New Hampshire cities during the 2002 general election.

Allen Raymond, former president of the Alexandria, Va.-based GOP Marketplace LLC, waived indictment and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Concord on Wednesday. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico Jr. released Raymond on his own recognizance pending sentencing in November.

Saddam calls Bush a criminal

"This is all a theater, the real criminal is Bush," Saddam said, during one outburst, referring to the U.S. president.

Now now, boys, no need to argue. You can both be criminals.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

More on Nader issue
Is the GOP helping Ralph Nader? I'd say yes.

Fed raises interest rates
Here's what interests me:

In a statement announcing its decision, the Fed said it expected inflation to stay "relatively low," meaning the central bank could take its time raising rates further, but it also pledged to move more quickly if economic numbers called for it.

"Although incoming inflation data are somewhat elevated, a portion of the increase in recent months appears to have been due to transitory factors," the Fed said, likely referring to recent spikes in food and energy prices.

Well, inflation being at a 5% rate so far this year doesn't seem so insignificant to me...

Hayes: master of bad analysis
From the Weakly Standard:

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION Tuesday received further support for its claims of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda from an important source: new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Allawi, who has long claimed knowledge of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship, reiterated these beliefs in an interview with NBC's Tom Brokaw.

Brokaw: I know you and others like you are grateful for the liberation of Iraq. But can't you understand why many Americans feel that so many young men and women have died here for purposes other than protecting the United States?

Allawi: We know that this is an extension to what happened in New York. And the war have been taken out to Iraq by the same terrorists. Saddam was a potential friend and partner and natural ally of terrorism.

Brokaw: Prime minister, I'm surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The 9/11 commission in America says there is no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and those terrorists of al Qaeda.

Allawi: No, I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al Qaeda. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September atrocities or not, I can't vouch for this. But definitely I know that he has connections with extremism and terrorists.

OK, so basically Allawi is either just to be trusted, or he's going to show us intelligence that proves him right. Right? Well, clearly not. Basically what Hayes wants us to do is say "Wow, this little puppet we set up MUST know what he's talking about." But that isn't going to happen. He also admits the fragile nature of Allawi's words:

Allawi's claims of an Iraq-al Qaeda link have not always been credible. Earlier in December, he provided journalists with a document claiming that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta had trained in Baghdad the summer before the 9/11 attacks. The three-page report, which also claimed Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, was quickly rejected as a forgery. (That last claim, however, received a boost yesterday with an article in the Financial Times that laid out intelligence suggesting that despite the fact that a key document relating to the Iraq-Niger uranium story had been forged, the broader contention was likely true.)

So who else should we believe? Barham Salih, the current deputy prime minister in Iraq. Perhaps Hayes knows not the meaning of "agenda," but isn't it a little ridiculous to say that we just need to trust these people?

Anonymous author named
I wonder how this will pan out:

NEW YORK The active U.S. intelligence officer known only as "Anonymous," who has gained world renown this month as author of an upcoming book called "Imperial Hubris," is actually named Michael Scheuer, according to an article in the Boston Phoenix today by Jason Vest.

Speculation about his identity has run rampant since a June 23 article in The New York Times discussed the book and the background of the author. The book, "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror," asserts, among other things, that Osama bin Laden is not on the run and that the invasion of Iraq has not made the United States safer.

In that June 23 piece, the Times identified Anonymous as a 22-year CIA veteran who ran the Counterterrorist Center's bin Laden station from 1996 to 1999, adding that a "senior intelligence official" held that revealing the man's full name "could make him a target of Al Qaeda." Anonymous has appeared in brief television interviews always in silhouette.

According to Vest, "Nearly a dozen intelligence-community sources, however, say Anonymous is Michael Scheuer -- and that his forced anonymity is both unprecedented and telling in the context of CIA history and modern politics."

Vest in his article notes that "at issue here is not just the book's content, but why Anonymous is anonymous. After all, as the Times and others have reported, his situation is nothing like that of Valerie Plame, a covert operative whose ability to work active overseas cases was undermined when someone in the White House blew her cover to journalist Robert Novak in an apparent payback for an inconvenient weapons-of-mass-destruction intelligence report by her husband, Joseph Wilson. Anonymous, on the other hand, is, by the CIA's own admission, a Langley, Va.-bound analyst whose identity has never required secrecy.

Naming CIA agents is good sport these days, it seems.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

John Keegan off his rocker
"The most successful war ever fought between a democracy and a dictatorship"? What? If that even means anything, it's still probably wrong. Of course, he was referring to the military aspect. However, even then we are doing far worse than Gulf War I. But it's irrelevant, because military operations are only worthwhile if backed up by legitimate political objectives. Half of our objectives turned out to be false. The other half aren't working out - we plan on having troops in Iraq until the end of 2005, and even then there will simply be far less men on the ground. How can this be deemed a success on any level? Yes, we've killed a lot of Iraqis. Is that what war is about these days?

Genocide on whose watch?
Conservatives whining about Clinton's inaction on Rwanda (not that they wanted to go in) can't whine any longer. With our troops stretched across the ME, we can't possibly hope to do anything significant in Sudan.

Buckley giving up control of National Review
Jumping ship before it crashes in November, Bill?

These things are writing themselves...
Tapping retired soldiers to fight? And we wonder why Iran thinks it can start announcing its building of nukes - they know we can't stop them when we're stretched this thin.

COPA eliminated
Good news for free speech:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked enforcement of a law intended to protect children from pornography on the Internet, saying the law probably violates free-speech guarantees.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court said 1998 legislation "likely violates the First Amendment."

The court ordered parties from both sides to reconsider the issue in a lower-court trial. The ruling gives the Bush administration a chance to prove the law does not violate free-speech rights.

The case tested the free-speech rights of adults against the power of Congress to control Internet commerce.

The 1998 law, known as the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), never took effect. It would have authorized fines up to $50,000 for the crime of placing material that is "harmful to minors" within the easy reach of children on the Internet, according to The Associated Press.

Kerry told to aim for black votes
Interesting. Once again, this is an incorrect assessment of the black vote. The problem is not getting them to vote Democratic - they do that in spades. The problem is getting them to vote at all - the only black vote that is really heard is the wealthier, suburban black vote. Urban areas in general (and let's face it, poorer urban areas can practically be considered "black" areas) have insanely low turnout. The issue is not that they won't vote for Kerry - it's that they won't vote at all. We need to take this one step at a time.

A subtle reminder
3 Marines died today - a little reminder that things are still not as they should be in Iraq.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Victory in Colorado
School vouchers were rejected today in the state. Good.

Me on SCOTUS on Padilla
There was a strong liberal reaction against the poorly reported Supreme Court decision to push this to the lower courts. This is being reported by some as a Bush victory, when it's clearly not. The lower court's decision (the holding is on Page 48 of the PDF, with a summery on Page 5) was AGAINST Bush. All the SCOTUS is doing is letting that decision stand. End of story.

Recommended reading
My choice for the day: How the Dems lost Middle America.

Iraq handed over early
Iraq is in Iraqi hands. I'm assuming the early handover was planned to thwart any attacks within the next two days. However, as long as the U.S. occupies Iraq, this is purely symbolic - something that will be made clear if we take losses within the next two days.

F9/11 report
I saw the film tonight, and actually I was a bit underwhelmed. While parts of it were everything I expected - basically everything people who pay a lot of attention to politics already knows put together in a very interesting fashion, with interesting new facts thrown in - parts of it were fairly boring and drawn out. The more personal aspects of the movie just didn't seem to fit in with the broader, almost epic whistleblowing done at the beginning of the film (which stands out to me as the best and most significant part of it). However, it was tied together nicely in most points, and it may just have seemed to drag because it was so late, but overall it is quite the film, and absolutely worth seeing for people of all persuasions. Sure, it's biased, and you won't get both sides of the story. But that's not the point. Moore's job was to present his side - and he did it quite well.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Frist responds to Cheney's profane ways
How interesting:

"It's a political season right now, where partisan feelings and emotions have come to the surface itself," Frist said when asked on CNN's "Late Edition" about the comment.

Despite that, he said, the Senate is doing its work well, avoiding gridlock that could result from a lineup of 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and an independent. "We're delivering for the American people," Frist said.

Delivering? It's taking two months for you to pass a simple budget, and you call it delivering? My goodness, I'd hate to see the Senate when things aren't going well.

Monica lashes out
How typical of an opportunist:

LONDON (Reuters) - Monica Lewinsky says she feels betrayed by Bill Clinton's failure to acknowledge how he destroyed her life in his newly released memoirs.

In an interview with British broadcaster ITV to be shown on Friday, the former White House intern best known for her affair with the 42nd U.S. president says she was disappointed at how their relationship is addressed.

"I really didn't expect him to talk in detail about the relationship," she said, according to a partial transcript of the interview provided by ITV.

"But what I was hoping, and did expect was for him to acknowledge and correct the inaccurate and false statements that he, his staff and the (Democratic National Committee) made about me when they were trying to protect the presidency," she said.

Destroyed her life? My God, while I sympathize with her for um, giving in to his advances, let's ask Monica how her financial situation is compared to where it was in 1998.

Another hostage taken
It seems like it's one after another:

Al Jazeera said the group called itself the Islamic Response Movement. A brief video showed a blindfolded man dressed in camouflage and a Marine Corps identity card that named him as Wassef Ali Hassoun.

An interesting name for one of our Marines. The AP says it's Pakistani. It could be a coincidence, or it could be something more interesting. I'll avoid speculation for now.

Who said liberalism doesn't sell?
F9/11 had a $22 million opening weekend - I'll be reporting back on it when I see it tonight.

Wars will cost $60 bln
You mean Bush was lying about the cost? My God, who would've thought?