Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spoiled Rich Kid

That's us:
A consensus on the need to protect the world's environment is emerging among rich and developing nations, but the United States remains at odds with other countries on key points, Germany said on Saturday.

Environment ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations, and officials from leading developing countries, were meeting to prepare for a June G8 summit where they plan to discuss specific targets for protecting the environment.

"On two issues, the United States were the only ones who spoke against consensus," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters at the end of the two-day meeting, which he chaired on behalf of Germany's G8 presidency.

Gabriel said the U.S. remained opposed to a global carbon emissions trading scheme like the one used in the European Union and rejected the idea that industrialized nations should help achieve a "balance of interests" between developing countries' need for economic growth and environmental protection.


More Denial

Prince Pickles has nothing to be ashamed of!
The Japanese government has found no evidence that the military or the government forced women to work in World War II military brothels, the Cabinet said in a statement to a lawmaker Friday.

The declaration coincided with moves by conservative lawmakers to investigate the issue and soften a 1993 government apology for pressing thousands of woman to work as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers in Asia.
Historians say as many as 200,000 women, most of them Asians, worked in Japanese military brothels across the region in the 1930s and '40s. Japanese defense documents uncovered in 1992 showed the military had a direct role in running the brothels, which the government had previously denied.


The Kasparov Gambit

With an alliance of liberals and left-wing radicals, former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov hope to topple President Vladimir Putin. The effort has little chance of succeeding, but the Kremlin isn't taking any chances.

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion, began his riskiest play on Russia's most magnificent street. On Nevsky Prospect in St. Petersburg, the president's hometown, a crowd of about 3,000 Kasparov supporters chanted "Russia without Putin!"


North Carolina Suffers for the War

These are the wages of support for Bush's mad campaign:
Billboards across North Carolina declare the state’s new slogan: “the most military-friendly state in America.” But a new report from the Institute for Southern Studies/Southern Exposure (pdf) finds North Carolina is suffering “devastating costs” from war, and calls on state officials to rethink their push to make the state more dependent on military dollars.

The new report was put together by a team of researchers and students across the state to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war. The study also comes after the launch of the N.C. Military Foundation last December, a public-private entity which aims to lure more defense contracts to North Carolina.
Meanwhile, can this trend be entirely coincidental? One wonders...
RALEIGH – Advocates for victims of domestic violence said today that more money is needed for shelters and prevention programs in the wake of a statewide report that shows a 6-percent increase in domestic violence murders.


Abortion Clockwork Orange

What, are they going to strap the women into chairs and clamp their eyelids open while showing them the pictures and playing Beethoven's 9th?

These twisted people have too much time on their hands, to come up with such ideas:
Women seeking abortions in South Carolina would be required to view an ultrasound image of their fetus before the procedure under a proposal gaining support from lawmakers. If enacted, it would be the first law of its kind in the nation.


"Hazy Memories"

Also known as "lies":
The White House dropped its contention Friday that former Counsel Harriet Miers first raised the idea of firing U.S. attorneys, blaming "hazy memories" as e-mails shed new light on Karl Rove's role. Support eroded further for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


Friday, March 16, 2007

McCain Is a Pathetic, Disingenuous Imbecile

He doesn't know whether condoms help prevent the spread of HIV? Are you kidding me???

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was."


Richardson Set to Do the Right Thing

And watch how fast the right wingers jump up and try to hurt his presidential run with this:
Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, poised to sign a bill making New Mexico the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana, said Thursday he realizes his action could become an issue in the presidential race.

"So what if it's risky? It's the right thing to do," said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. "What we're talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them."


The Brass Come Out

Good for them, calling Pace on his bigoted bullshit:
A group of seven high-ranking military veterans today responded to recent remarks by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who earlier this week called lesbian, gay and bisexual service members ‘immoral’ and re-iterated his support for the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service members.

The officers, who are all lesbian or gay, called on Congress to repeal the law, and demanded that General Pace apologize for his remarks.

COL Stewart Bornhoft, USA (Ret.); CAPT Joan E. Darrah, USN (Ret.); CAPT Robert D. Dockendorff, USNR (Ret.); Chaplain (COL) Paul W. Dodd, USA (Ret.); CAPT Sandra Geiselman, USNR (Ret.); COL E. A. Leonard, USA (Ret.); and CAPT Robert Michael Rankin, USN (Ret.) issued their statement on Friday morning.

“Our community has a long history of serving our country in the armed forces,” the group said. “Today, there are more than 65,000 lesbian and gay troops on duty. Another one million gay and lesbian veterans, including the seven of us, have served in our fighting forces. General Pace’s remarks dishonor that service, as does the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law. General Pace must offer an immediate and unqualified apology for his remarks and Congress must take action to repeal the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans who want to serve our country.”


Contraceptive Setback

The 8th Circuit has decided that it's not discriminatory for an employer to cover Rogaine and Viagra but not to cover the pill.


Union Pacific Railroad's policy of not covering contraceptives in its health plan didn't discriminate against women, the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The railroad prevailed on appeal because its policy does not cover any contraceptives for men or women, so the court agreed Union Pacific did not violate the federal Civil Rights Act.


[Dissenting]U.S. Judge Kermit Bye said Union Pacific's policy affects only women because men cannot become pregnant, and that makes the railroad's policy discriminatory even though it is officially gender neutral.

Bye pointed out that Union Pacific's health plan covers some preventive medications used only by men. But he said the plan fails to cover contraception, which can be considered preventive care for women.

"Women are uniquely and specifically disadvantaged by Union Pacific's failure to cover prescription contraception," Bye wrote.

And in this case, fairness was an issue, Riley said, because Union Pacific offered a generous health plan that would cover drugs such as Rogaine for hair loss and Viagra for erectile disfunction but not birth control pills.


Bong Hits 4 Jesus

And free speech for students:
Joseph Frederick, a student rebel halfway through his senior year of high school, tried the patience of his principal when he displayed a drug-referenced sign -- Bong Hits 4 Jesus -- at a public parade in Juneau, Alaska in 2002.

The 18-year-old had fashioned a 14-foot paper banner, which he held as the Olympic torch passed across the street from his high school on a national relay leading up to the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City.

Frederick said he wanted to capture the attention of TV cameras -- and the ire of his principal.

Principal Deborah Morse, who had previously disciplined Frederick for other acts of protest, confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick, sparking a feud that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

Monday, the court will hear arguments on Morse v. Frederick, in what legal experts say could be the most significant case on student free speech since the days of Vietnam War protests.

At stake is the 1969 landmark ruling -- Tinker v. Des Moines -- which said that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."


Thursday, March 15, 2007

This Is What Occupation Means

And why we cannot win:
A U.S. Marine charged with murdering 18 unarmed civilians in Haditha, Iraq, said in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" he regretted the deaths but would make the same decisions today.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich admitted shooting five unarmed Iraqi men in the back in the interview and said his actions were justified because he believed the men had hostile intent toward the Marines.

"There is nothing that I can possibly say to make up or make well the deaths of those women and children, and I am absolutely sorry it happened that day," Wuterich said.

"What I did that day, the decision that I made, I would make those decisions again today. Those are decisions that I made in a combat situation and I believe I had to make those decisions."


Race War

The Congressional Black Caucus needs to tell FoxNews where to go.

Watch the video here
: has launched a campaign to urge the Congressional Black Caucus to reject a partnership with FOX News that would only legitimize the network which: "has a horrible record of attacking Black people, leaders, and cultural institutions." COC calls the partnership "shameful."


Congress Asks, the People Answer, Bush Ignores

More White House indifference
about American health care:
The Bush administration on Wednesday rejected key recommendations from a citizens' group asked by Congress to find out people's health care wishes.

Suggestions included guaranteeing health coverage for specific checkups and treatments and protecting consumers from high medical expenses. The group released its report Sept. 29 after hearing from about 6,500 people at 84 meetings.


It Worked So Well for Lay

Here's hoping that protestations of ignorance work equally well for the odious Gonzales:

With no apparent shame, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pleaded the Ken Lay defense -- also known by his own prosecutors as the "Aw, shucks" defense or the " deliberate ignorance" defense -- in his explanation of the political executions of United States attorneys by his office and the White House.

Gonzales tried to avoid any responsibility in the growing scandal by using the word " responsible" while ducking its consequences. He said, "I accept responsibility for everything that happens here within this department, but when you have 110,000 people working in the department, obviously there are going to be decisions made that I am not aware of in real time."

The late Kenneth Lay of Enron fame attempted this during his federal trial. So did former WorldCom exec Bernard Ebbers. When Lay tried it, federal prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler said, "Over and over again, Lay chose not to ask hard questions. He did so trying to stick his head in the sand, and the law says you cannot do that."

In the WorldCom case, prosecutors mocked Ebbers for claiming he was an accounting ignoramus who didn't know about the fraud his underlings were committing. Juries didn't buy it with Lay, and they didn't buy it with Ebbers.

UPDATE: More headaches for poor Gonzales:
The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday cleared the way for subpoenas compelling five Justice Department officials and six of the U.S. attorneys they fired to tell the story of the purge that has prompted demands for the ouster of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


Niche Marketing

Post-abortion e-cards.

I just don't know what to say about that:
A nonprofit organization has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and relatives can send to a woman after she chooses to have an abortion.

Like Exhale's confidential talk line for women who have had abortions, the six e-cards available on the group's Web site were designed to be nonpartisan and encompass the range of someone's potential responses to going through an abortion.

"Women having abortions are calling our line because often they don't have someone to talk to - it's a stigmatized issue," said Aspen Baker, founder and executive director of Oakland-based Exhale.

One card expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, "As you grieve, remember that you are loved." Another provides encouragement for someone who "did the right thing." Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that "God will never leave you or forsake you."


Funding Terror

A banana corporation pouring money into South America in ways that destabilize governments!? Unprecedented!

I am certain Bush will take stern and decisive action against Chiquita:

Chiquita Brands International was charged Wednesday for making payments to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group on the official US list of terrorist organizations.

Ohio-based Chiquita allegedly paid 1.7 million dollars between 1997-2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) in exchange for its protection in the banana-producing areas of Uraba and Santa Marta, Colombia, court documents showed.

In the past the company made payments to leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN), US prosecutors say.

The payments to the AUC, which began after a meeting in 1997, were approved by senior Chiquita officials and hidden in the company's accounts, the documents said.

As of September 2000, senior Chiquita officials knew the company was paying the AUC and that the AUC was a violent paramilitary organization, prosecutors said. The company was charged with engaging in transactions with a specially designated global terrorist.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ohio Recount Fraud Yields 18 Months; Judge Says Fraud Goes Higher

I'd tend to agree with him:
Two county election workers were sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in prison for rigging a recount of 2004 presidential election ballots so they could avoid a longer, detailed review.

Jacqueline Maiden, 60, a Cuyahoga County election coordinator who was the board's third-highest ranking employee, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer, 40, each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Peter Corrigan allowed the women to remain free on bail pending appeal, but indicated he thought there was a more widespread conspiracy among election officials.

``I can't help but feel there's more to this story,'' Corrigan said.


Bigot on Bigot Action

Brownback praises Pace:
Today Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) circulated a letter in support of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace: “The question is whether personal moral beliefs should disqualify an individual from positions of leadership in the U.S. military? We think not. General Pace’s recent remarks do not deserve the criticism they have received. In fact, we applaud General Pace for maintaining a personal commitment to moral principles.”


Why Real Trials Are Necessary

Whether this man is telling the truth in this confession has been rendered utterly irrelevant by Bush's scrapping of due process.

Because of Bush's actions--including five years of incarceration and torture--we will never know whether this confession is legitimate. Legally, it is de facto illegitimate. And so justice has long since been thrown out the window. Whatever happens to this man, it will be vindictive and irrelevant. One thing it CANNOT possibly be is just:
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, confessed to that attack and a chilling string of other terror plots during a military hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a transcript released Wednesday by the Pentagon.

"I was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," Mohammed said in a statement read during the session, which was held last Saturday.

The transcripts also refer to a claim by Mohammed that he was tortured by the CIA, although he said he was not under duress at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo when he confessed to his role in the attacks.


The Continuing Murder of New Orleans

I'll just reprint the post from correntewire in its entirety:

Un-fuckin-believable. No, cancel that. Standard operating procedure*. Read it and scream:

The Army Corps of Engineers, rushing to meet President Bush’s promise to protect New Orleans by the start of the 2006 hurricane season, installed defective flood-control pumps last year despite warnings from its own expert that the equipment would fail during a storm, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The 2006 hurricane season turned out to be mild, and the new pumps were never pressed into action. But the Corps and [MWI,] the politically connected manufacturer of the equipment are still struggling to get the 34 heavy-duty pumps working properly.

The pumps are now being pulled out and overhauled because of excessive vibration, Corps officials said. Other problems have included overheated engines, broken hoses and blown gaskets, according to the documents obtained by the AP.

And guess what the political connection was?

MWI is owned by J. David Eller and his sons. Eller was once a business partner of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a venture called Bush-El that marketed MWI pumps. And Eller has donated about $128,000 to politicians, the vast majority of it to the Republican Party, since 1996, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

MWI has run into trouble before. The U.S. Justice Department sued the company in 2002, accusing it of fraudulently helping Nigeria obtain $74 million in taxpayer-backed loans for overpriced and unnecessary water-pump equipment. The case has yet to be resolved. [Details here]

Sued for fraud? To a Republican, that’s a qualification!

It’s enough to make you think that, well, there’s some sort of Plan to take out a Blue city that used to be full of black people, isn’t it?

* Conservative governance = no planning + privatization + insider looting = disaster


This Is Why I Don't Like Clinton

She's center-right at best. And insane at worst. We'll stay there, but won't intervene if things get genocidal? WTF?:
"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq, and says that if elected president, she would keep a reduced but significant military force there to fight Al Qaeda, deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqi military," reports the New York Times.

Clinton said a "scaled-down American military force" would stay in Iraq but off the streets of Baghdad. The force would also not get involved in sectarian violence "even if it descended into ethnic cleansing," writes Michael Gordon and Patrick Healy.


Impressive Common Sense about AIDS in South Africa

Surprising. Shocking, really:
The government proposed a five-year plan Wednesday to halve the number of new HIV infections in South Africa, saying it had failed to persuade young people to change their sexual habits.

In a report, the government also said the country needed to better address the stigma associated with the disease, which discouraged many people from being tested, and vowed to expand its treatment and care program to cover 80 percent of people with AIDS.

The report's frankness — and the warmth with which it was received by AIDS activists — marked a turnaround in government rhetoric on AIDS, after years of international condemnation for policies that many said went against medical advice and activists' efforts. The health minister in particular has been criticized for questioning antiretroviral treatments and promoting nutritional remedies, such as garlic and lemons, to fight the disease.

"This plan marks a turning point in the struggle to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Zwelinzima Vavi, the general-secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions. "We hail the new spirit, which signals the end to acrimonious debate and the standoff between government and important sectors of our people."


"Upset" Because He Got Caught

Yeah, right. Bush is upset. But yet he stands by Gonzales. And note the unsurprising appearance of the weaselly passive voice in the last paragraph:
Bush said Wednesday he is troubled by the Justice Department's misleading explanations to Congress of why it fired eight U.S. attorneys and expected his attorney general to fix them.

Bush said he stood by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales amid calls for his ouster.

"Mistakes were made. And I'm frankly not happy about them," Bush told reporters at a news conference in Mexico, where he is wrapping up a weeklong trip to Latin America.


Reefer Madness

It certainly is fortunate that this nation is not facing any real, serious problems, so that the feds can focus on instances such as this:
A California woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive is not immune from federal prosecution on drug charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and other ailments. On her doctor's advice, she eats or smokes marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster a nonexistent appetite as conventional drugs did not work.

The Supreme Court ruled against Raich two years ago, saying that medical marijuana users and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws even if they lived in a state such as California where medical pot is legal.


Humor 101

This is funny:
When members of the University of Northern Colorado's intramural basketball team named themselves the "Fightin' Whities" last year, they were hoping to make a point. They ended up making a whole lot more.

The UNC team adopted the "Fightin' Whities" name after an unsuccessful attempt to get nearby Eaton High School to drop the use of a loin-cloth clad caricature for its team, "Fighting Reds."

The satirical move set off a media frenzy and requests poured in for shirts, hats and other merchandise bearing the "Fightin' Whities" name and slogan, "Everythang’s gonna be all white."

This is not funny:

The racist Facebook group was created by a USC football player and showed a graphic of a black baby in handcuffs. An athletic department source said the group was a joke and had no serious purpose.

Junior linebacker Clay Matthews created the group, "White Nation," which featured a graphic with the caption, "arrest black babies before they become criminals."

Teammates David Buehler, Brian Cushing, Dan Deckas and Dallas Sartz joined the group.

"This group is not for the faint of heart," read the group's description. "All members are athletes of Caucasion (sic) descent. DISCLAIMER: In no way are the following memebers (sic) intolerant of others, we are just doing our duty of protecting the Arian (sic) brotherhood."

Questions? Comments?


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Brass Shortage

Another aspect of the military snafu that is the Iraq War:
The Army, forced by five years of war to expand its ranks, faces a critical shortage in midlevel officers, interviews and military records show.

Those officers — majors and lieutenant colonels — manage troops at war. The Army expects to have an annual shortage of 3,000 such officers through 2013 as it increases its ranks by 40,000 soldiers.

Beyond the shortage of midlevel officers looms an impending shortage of entry-level officers — lieutenants — from the U.S. Military Academy and university Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, records show. Last year, 846 cadets graduated from West Point; the goal was 900. There were 25,100 enrolled in ROTC out of a goal of 31,000, according to a Government Accountability Office report.


Letting FOX Set the Terms Is the Only Way!

I find it so very disheartening when liberals espouse such naive and nonsensical positions:

Under pressure from liberal bloggers, the Nevada Democratic Party has scrubbed a presidential candidates debate that was set for this coming August.

The bloggers were outraged that the Nevada Dems were partnering with the Fox News Channel who had been given the rights to broadcast the debate.

Count me among those who think the debate cancellation is a ridiculous ending to what was a ridiculous and counter-productive cause. Excuse me, but I thought liberals hated Fox precisely because it was NOT fair and balanced, because of the dearth of voices other than those from the Right.

So here was a chance to force-feed the conservative Fox audience a prime-time dose of Democratic campaigning; but now that's all been called off by --- Democrats!

No. Here was not a chance to do anything of the sort. Remember when Fox listed Foley as a Democrat? Remember the numerous times they've (oops!) likened Obama to Osama based solely on the similarity of name? Remember when they reported that he was educated in fundamentalist Muslim schools?

When you give a network legitimacy by granting it a hand in a significant debate, you aren't force-feeding anybody anything.

They'll cut and paste as they will, and anyone who doesn't think so is living in denial.

And anyone saying that the snubbing of Fox in this instance is a Democratic failure is silly.


Waterboy, Weasel

Can't argue with that, really:

Cafferty: And it's not enough that the Attorney General of the United States is a glorified water boy for the White House. The Bush administration also is admitting now that its #1 political HACK, Karl Rove passed along complaints from Republican lawmakers about US attorney's to the Justice Department and the WH counsel's office. A political advisor—playing a role in the hiring and firing of US attorney's. It's disgraceful.


Cafferty: If you look up the word weasel in the dictionary Wolf, you'll see Alberto Gonzales's picture there.

Wolf: You don't like him?

Cafferty: That is correct, I don't.


A Question

Does General Pace secretly wear a cilice?


Sharpton Rips Obama

And deservedly so, I think. I make no secret of the fact that I'm a John Edwards fan, but while I loathe Hillary Clinton, I'm generally neutral toward Barack Obama.

This criticism, however, sounds right on the money to me. Anyone who went to bat for Lieberman, and anyone who supports the travesty known as "tort reform," has some serious questions to answer:
With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination already in high gear, the Reverend Al Sharpton jumped into the fray today with some tough criticism for Senator Barack Obama. The outspoken reverend offered the harsh comments to Obama just as he looked to build support for his candidacy in the black community.

"Why shouldn't the black community ask questions? Are we now being told, 'You all just shut up?'" Sharpton told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer Monday. "Senator Obama and I agree that the war is wrong, but then I want to know why he went to Connecticut and helped [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman, the biggest supporter of the war."

Sharpton also questioned why Obama supports "tort reform, which hurts police brutality victims."



Asymmetrical is right
, but good for them:

In a new surge of energy for the global struggle against militarism, some 400 activists from 40 countries came together in Ecuador from March 5-9 to form a network to fight against foreign military bases. The conference began in Quito, then participants traveled in an 8-bus caravan across the country, culminating in a spirited protest at the city of Manta, site of a U.S. base.

While a few other countries such as England, Russia, China, Italy and France have bases outside their territory, the United States is responsible for 95% of foreign bases. According to U.S. government figures, the U.S. military maintains some 737 bases in 130 countries, although many estimate the true number to be over 1,000.

A network of local groups fighting the huge U.S. military complex is indeed an “asymmetrical struggle,” but communities have been trying for decades to close U.S. military bases on their soil. Their concerns range from the destruction of the environment, the confiscation of farmlands, the abuse of women, the repression of local struggles, the control of resources and a broader concern about military and economic domination.


Indigenous representatives attending the conference talked about the destruction of indigenous lands to make way for bases. In the island of Diego Garcia, the indigenous Chagossian people have been driven off their lands, as have the Chamorros from Guam and the Inuit from Greenland. Kyle Kajihiro, director of the organization Area Hawaii, explained that the U.S. military occupies vast areas of Hawaiian territory, territory which was once public land used for indigenous reserves, agricultural production, schools and public parks.


The Party of Hatred

The GOP is utterly bankrupt, completely pathetic, and phenomenally vile:
House Republicans said Monday that Democrats should retract an offer to let the nation's largest Islamic civil liberties organization use a Capitol conference room for a seminar.

The House Republican Conference referred to the Council on American-Islamic Relations as "terrorist apologists" and called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) to cancel the forum scheduled for Tuesday.

"Democrats arrange official meeting with pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah group in U.S. Capitol," headlined a Conference press release carrying a Washington Times article on the planned meeting.

"It's really disappointing," said CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper, that whenever there's an attack from elective officials "we don't even ask any more which party it is. It should be a concern to ordinary Republicans that the party is being viewed as a reservoir of anti-Muslim hate."


You Go to War with the Army You've F***ed Up...

Not with the Army you wish you hadn't f***ed up.
Or something. This is sheer sadistic insanity:
"This is not right," said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. "This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers," he said angrily. "If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight."

As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.


At Long Last, Sirs, Have You No Spine?

That is the question:
Over the next few weeks, the congressional Democratic majorities must decide how scared they still are of George W. Bush and his right-wing attack machine. Or put differently, can a weakened President still intimidate Democrats by questioning their patriotism or doubting their support for the troops?

Bush has thrown down the gauntlet with his demand for another $105 billion in war funding without “strings” attached. He also has warned that he would veto any measure that seeks to limit his discretion over how to fight the war in Iraq.

Two to five years ago, the Democrats – then in the minority – would have been quaking in fear about crossing Bush, the self-described “war president.” They knew to expect a barrage of insults from Washington’s influential right-wing and neoconservative pundits and a hefty GOP investment in 30-second attack ads in the next campaign.

But now with most Americans critical of Bush’s conduct of the war and after disclosures about neglectful treatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed and other medical centers, the political calculus has changed.


They Opted for a Night of the Short Knives Instead

Isn't that mighty democratic of 'em?
The White House considered firing all 93 federal prosecutors at the start of President Bush's second term, but yielded to Justice Department objections and eventually agreed to a smaller list of dismissals compiled by Justice officials, a spokeswoman said Monday.


Broken Minds

That Bush can stand being the cause of so much pain and anguish seems to me proof that he is himself mentally ill, a sociopath:

A quarter of the Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans treated with US government-funded health care have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to a study published Monday.

And when psychosocial disorders such as domestic violence were included, the number of war veterans suffering from mental illnesses rose to 31 percent.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Homosexuality = Adultery

The fact that a man with such powerful analytic abilities is in charge of our armed forces actually explains quite a bit:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday he considers homosexuality to be immoral and the military should not condone it by allowing gay personnel to serve openly, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace likened homosexuality to adultery, which he said was also immoral, the newspaper reported on its Web site.

"I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way," Pace told the newspaper in a wide-ranging interview.


Good Riddance

Not to imply that the departure of this one man will generate substantive change:
Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley abruptly stepped down under pressure from military superiors, the third top Army official forced out in the fallout from revelations of shabby treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.


Still Blissed

Two years ago today, I married the most beautiful person in the world (sorry, everyone; you all lose and I win).

My love for her is stronger than ever, and it continues to exceed anything I could have imagined...


Dems Fold, Again

Bush can do what he will with regard to Iran, it would seem.

I don't know about you, but I feel safe:
Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.


Home Free

Welcome to life on the streets
, America:
Hold on to your assets. The deepest housing decline in 16 years is about to get worse.

As many as 1.5 million more Americans may lose their homes, another 100,000 people in housing-related industries could be fired, and an estimated 100 additional subprime mortgage companies that lend money to people with bad or limited credit may go under, according to realtors, economists, analysts and a Federal Reserve governor.


War on the Poor, Cont'd

So-called "anti-immigration" efforts are denying tens of thousands their Medicaid benefits:
A new federal rule intended to keep illegal immigrants from receiving Medicaid has instead shut out tens of thousands of United States citizens who have had difficulty complying with requirements to show birth certificates and other documents proving their citizenship, state officials say.

Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Ohio and Virginia have all reported declines in enrollment and traced them to the new federal requirement, which comes just as state officials around the country are striving to expand coverage through Medicaid and other means.

Under a 2006 federal law, the Deficit Reduction Act, most people who say they are United States citizens and want Medicaid must provide “satisfactory documentary evidence of citizenship,” which could include a passport or the combination of a birth certificate and a driver’s license.

Some state officials say the Bush administration went beyond the law in some ways, for example, by requiring people to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing agency.

“The largest adverse effect of this policy has been on people who are American citizens,” said Kevin W. Concannon, director of the Department of Human Services in Iowa, where the number of Medicaid recipients dropped by 5,700 in the second half of 2006, to 92,880, after rising for five years. “We have not turned up many undocumented immigrants receiving Medicaid in Waterloo, Dubuque or anywhere else in Iowa,” Mr. Concannon said.


More on the Halliburton Move to Dubai

Looks like Waxman might be holding hearings on the matter:

Is this about tax breaks? Getting beyond the reach of congressional subpoenas? And what about all that sensitive information that Halliburton has had access to? At a minimum, reincorporating in Dubai would mean that Halliburton will be paying less taxes to the U.S. Treasury, even as it collects billions from government contracts.

The last paragraph of the FT story begins to answer the questions about Halliburton's, uh, interestingly timed decision to move its corporate headquarters:

Dubai has long positioned itself as a regional business hub, with a laisser faire attitude to business regulations. The government has launched several free zones allowing foreign firms to circumvent laws barring foreigners owning businesses.

UPDATE: Henry Waxman is likely to hold a hearing on this, an aide tells me.


Sheer Coincidence

Shaalan is living the Halliburton-American dream:

A former Iraqi defence minister whose 10 months in office coincided with the disappearance of more than $800m (£400m) from the ministry’s coffers is living openly in Amman and London despite a warrant for his arrest.

Hazem Shaalan, a small businessman in London until Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003, rose in a year to one of the most important jobs in the interim government that ran Iraq from 2004 to 2005.

He left Baghdad before the next government discovered that a fortune had been looted from his ministry’s account in what one senior investigator has called “one of the largest thefts in history”.

The missing money was part of $8.8 billion of shrink-wrap-ped American cash that was flown into Iraq after Saddam fell but which is now unaccounted for. It is the subject of a congressional inquiry in Washington amid growing demands by Democrats to identify those responsible.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Family Values

They just don't apply to some people, it would seem. Families are irrelevant when it comes to immigration law:

They are the hidden side of the government's stepped-up efforts to track down and deport illegal immigrants: Toddlers stranded at day care centers or handed over to ill-equipped relatives. Siblings suddenly left in charge of younger brothers and sisters.

When illegal-immigrant parents are swept up in raids on homes and workplaces, the children are sometimes left behind - a complication that underscores the difficulty in enforcing immigration laws against people who have put down roots and begun raising families in the U.S.

Three million American-born children have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant; one in 10 American families has mixed immigration status, meaning at least one member is an immigrant here illegally, according to the Pew Center for Hispanic Research and the office of U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano.


The Usual Suspect

In the case of Walter Reed, as in so many others, perfidy and incompetence relating to the Iraq War can be traced back to Halliburton:

The scandal over treatment of outpatients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has focused attention on the Army's decision to privatize the facilities support workforce at the hospital, a move commanders say left the building maintenance staff undermanned.

Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned the decision to hire IAP Worldwide Services, a contractor with connections to the Bush administration and to KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary.

Last year, IAP won a $120 million contract to maintain and operate Walter Reed facilities. The decision reversed a 2004 finding by the Army that it would be more cost-effective to keep the work in-house. After IAP protested, Army auditors ruled that the cost estimates offered by in-house federal workers were too low. They had to submit a new bid, which added 23 employees and $16 million to their cost, according to the Army.

Yesterday, the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union, blamed pressure on the Army from the White House's Office of Management and Budget for the decision to privatize its civilian workforce.

"Left to its own devices, the Army would likely have suspended this privatization effort," John Gage, president of the organization, said in a statement. "However, the political pressure from OMB left Army officials with no choice but to go forward, even if that resulted in unsatisfactory care to the nation's veterans."

Oh, and meanwhile, the beloved Halliburton, having taken how many millions of American taxpayers' dollars, is relocating its corporate headquarters from Houston to...

Dubai. Yes, that Dubai. The one in the United Arab Emirates, a nation that produced not one but two of the 9/11 hijackers. (That's two more than Iraq, the country America attacked, thereby generating massive profits for Halliburton, for those keeping score...)
Oil services giant Halliburton Co. will soon shift its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Mideast financial powerhouse of Dubai, chief executive Dave Lesar announced Sunday.


Gonzales Has Got to Go

It's about time some Dems started saying it. Hell, when even Arlen Specter admits that something is amiss, you know it's bad:
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign following disclosures of mass firings of federal prosecutors and a report the FBI improperly obtained information on private citizens, top Democratic senators said Sunday.

In addition, a key Republican voiced concerns of his own about Gonzales and his embattled Justice Department, although he stopped short of calling for a resignation.

“I think we need a change in the top at the Justice Department,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership.


Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said it was matter for President Bush and Gonzalez to decide, but added, “I do think there have been lots of problems.”

While we're at it, let's go ahead and give Rove the bum's rush he so richly deserves:
Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

"Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.

"He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

"I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'" said Weh.


They're Smarter

Bleak assessment of the US military as a blundering giant:
In a bleak analysis, senior officers described the fighters they were facing in Iraq and Afghanistan 'as smart, agile and cunning'.

In Vietnam, the US was eventually defeated by a well-armed, closely directed and highly militarised society that had tanks, armoured vehicles and sources of both military production and outside procurement. What is more devastating now is that the world's only superpower is in danger of being driven back by a few tens of thousands of lightly armed irregulars, who have developed tactics capable of destroying multimillion-dollar vehicles and aircraft.

By contrast, the US military is said to have been slow to respond to the challenges of fighting an insurgency. The senior officers described the insurgents as being able to adapt rapidly to exploit American rules of engagement and turn them against US forces, and quickly disseminate ways of destroying or disabling armoured vehicles.

The military is also hampered in its attempts to break up insurgent groups because of their 'flat' command structure within collaborative networks of small groups, making it difficult to target any hierarchy within the insurgency.

The remarks were made by senior US generals speaking at the Association of the US Army meeting at Fort Lauderdale in Florida and in conversations with The Observer. The generals view the 'war on terror' as the most important test of America's soldiers in 50 years.


Another General Speaks the Truth

The conservatives are the worst thing that has happened to the military:

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004, appeared last night on HBO’s Bill Maher Show.

“We are in the midst of recovering right now from a constitutional crisis where you had the executive trump the other branches of government,” Eaton said. “Thank god” Congress changed hands in November, he said, giving us “a chance to unsort and figure out how to get out from under this.”

Eaton lamented that so many service members believe that conservatives “are good for the military.” “That is rarely the case. And we have got to get a message through to every soldier, every family member, every friend of soldier,” that the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have “absolutely been the worst thing that’s happened to the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps.”


With Friends Like These...

I imagine Libby is wishing very fervently that DeLay would stop championing his cause:
Former Texas Congressman Tom DeLay, who resigned as Republican Majority Leader after being indicted on state campaign finance charges, is calling for the presidential pardoning of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former aide to Vice President Cheney who was convicted earlier this week on multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice.

"The pardon authority is given to the Chief Executive so that he can use his judgment to even up the scales of justice in order to show mercy, or in some cases an acknowledgement by the Chief Executive that the law enforcement roll [sic] that the Executive Branch plays has gone askew," DeLay writes at his eponymous blog. "In the celebrated case of Mr. Lewis Libby, the prosecution pulled out one of its oldest and most shop-worn tricks. That is: setting up multiple perjury and obstruction of justice traps into which government officials, placed under extraordinary investigatory pressure, might fall."

To substantiate his call for a pardon, DeLay argues that the "outed" former CIA operative was not covert at all.


Opus Dei: S & M Good, Homosexuality Bad

Just bizarre. And she's a child psychologist? I wouldn't let this woman anywhere near a kid:
A battle over legal rights for gay couples in Italy has focused on a gruesome-looking metal garter belt.

With Pope Benedict thundering against the demise of the family and lay politicians fighting to keep religion out of politics, the debate took a bizarre turn when a staunchly Catholic politician, renowned for denouncing homosexuality as 'unnatural', admitted that she wears the spiked metal chain around her thigh to recreate the suffering of Christ.

Paola Binetti, a government senator and member of the conservative Opus Dei organisation, has been labelled a 'sado-masochist' by gay rights campaigner Franco Grillini for wearing the steel cilice, despite her claim that it is no more painful than wearing high heels or training for an athletic event. Similar to a strip of chain-link fencing with added spikes, the cilice was made famous by the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.

'People are free to do what they want and I don't object to the cilice, but Binetti should not in turn object to two people who want to live together peacefully,' said transvestite MP Vladimir Luxuria, who also said Binetti should be thrown out of her centrist party if she refuses to back gay rights.

In addition to the cilice, senior members, or 'numeraries', of Opus Dei often use whips to 'discipline' themselves, sleep on hard mattresses and live in shared communities. Binetti, a trained child psychotherapist, donates her earnings to Opus Dei.


Once Again, Egregious Behavior toward Workers

Even by the low standards of the Bush administration, this is just disgusting:
Federal officials secretly schemed to limit payouts for sick and dying nuclear weapons workers, including thousands from the Rocky Flats plant outside Denver, newly released documents show.

The officials responsible for helping those workers went behind their boss's back, called on White House officials for help and tried to hide their efforts, according to internal e-mails and memos obtained by a congressional committee and posted on its Web site.

They also wanted to get the White House to override scientific decisions granting compensation and pack the program's advisory board with members less sympathetic to workers.


Keep On Surging!

Welcome to the new plan, same as the old plan:
President George W. Bush has approved adding 4,400 more U.S. troops to a force buildup already ordered to try to bring security to Iraq, the White House said on Saturday.

Bush formally requested about $3.2 billion to pay for the additional deployment, even as he and Democratic lawmakers battle over his Iraq strategy.
Then again... 4400? Perhaps these soldiers have all been abducted by aliens and then returned to earth with superpowers?