Kerry to call for Rumsfeld to be fired
Tuesday 18 January 2005 @ 03:38
Appearing soon on the Kerry website:

Mr. President,

I was surprised and disappointed that you told the Washington Post last week that no Bush administration official should be held accountable for our failures in Iraq. As the situation worsens and more American lives are lost and troops deployed to the region, it's time to stop rewarding incompetence and to start demanding accountability. For the sake of our men and women in uniform and their families here at home, I urge you to start by replacing Donald Rumsfeld. His record of failure and his inability to play it straight with the American people and our troops overseas make him unfit to serve as Secretary of Defense for one more day, never mind four more years.

If you care about restoring our credibility around the world and our credibility with our troops on the ground in Iraq, you've got to start by removing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. That's why I am joining Senator John Kerry and hundreds of thousands of Americans in adding my name to the petition calling for Rumsfeld's immediate removal from office.

I urge you to act without delay. We can't afford any more auto-penned letters of condolences and shifting stories about what kind of armor we have to protect our troops.

American soliders and their families are counting on you as Commander in Chief to hold those in charge of the war in Iraq to the highest standards.

Kerry PAC to Focus on Voter Disenfranchisement
Tuesday 18 January 2005 @ 01:53
Kerry PAC to Focus on Voter Disenfranchisement
17 January 2005

The Boston Globe notes in tomorrow’s edition that the new Kerry PAC formed after the election will be focusing on voter disenfranchisement and more. Last Wednesday I reported here on LUTD, that some recent changes had been made to the Kerry website.

From the tomorrow’s Boston Globe:

Without offering details, Kerry aides said yesterday that the senator plans to file legislation to correct some of the election problems that occurred in 2000 and 2004. Aides also said that a political action committee he started after the election -- a committee that could lay the groundwork for a second presidential campaign in 2008 -- would also be dedicated to preventing disenfranchisement.

After the disputed vote in Florida in 2000, Congress approved the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and authorized $4 billion so that states could create central computerized voter lists and update voting systems by 2006. But many states have not yet made improvements, and two federal agencies are planning inquiries to look into problems that plagued both old and new systems last November.


With your support, is fighting for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process. I ask you to join me in this cause -- and in working to make our voices heard on the most critical issues of 2005.

I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead. Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.

Posted first at
Bush's 34 Scandals
Tuesday 18 January 2005 @ 10:31 has put together an excellent compendium of Bush administration scandals from the first term. I highly recommend getting the free day pass (by way of clicking one of their ads) to get access to the entire article. Here is a taste:

1. Memogate: The Senate Computer Theft

The scandal: From 2001 to 2003, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee illicitly accessed nearly 5,000 computer files containing confidential Democratic strategy memos about President Bush's judicial nominees. The GOP used the memos to shape their own plans and leaked some to the media.

The problem: The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act states it is illegal to obtain confidential information from a government computer.

The outcome: Unresolved. The Justice Department has assigned a prosecutor to the case. The staff member at the heart of the matter, Manuel Miranda, has attempted to brazen it out, filing suit in September 2004 against the DOJ to end the investigation. "A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich," Miranda complained. Some jokes just write themselves.

2. Doctor Detroit: The DOJ's Bungled Terrorism Case

The scandal: The Department of Justice completely botched the nation's first post-9/11 terrorism trial, as seen when the convictions of three Detroit men allegedly linked to al-Qaida were overturned in September 2004. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft had claimed their June 2003 sentencing sent "a clear message" that the government would "detect, disrupt and dismantle the activities of terrorist cells."

The problem: The DOJ's lead prosecutor in the case, Richard Convertino, withheld key information from the defense and distorted supposed pieces of evidence -- like a Las Vegas vacation video purported to be a surveillance tape. But that's not the half of it. Convertino says he was unfairly scapegoated because he testified before the Senate, against DOJ wishes, about terrorist financing. Justice's reconsideration of the case began soon thereafter. Convertino has since sued the DOJ, which has also placed him under investigation.

The outcome: Let's see: Overturned convictions, lawsuits and feuding about a Kafkaesque case. Nobody looks good here.

3. Dark Matter: The Energy Task Force

The scandal: A lawsuit has claimed it is illegal for Dick Cheney to keep the composition of his 2001 energy-policy task force secret. What's the big deal? The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has suggested an explosive aspect of the story, citing a National Security Council memo from February 2001, which "directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the 'melding' of ... 'operational policies towards rogue states,' such as Iraq, and 'actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.'" In short, the task force's activities could shed light on the administration's pre-9/11 Iraq aims.

The problem: The Federal Advisory Committee Act says the government must disclose the work of groups that include non-federal employees; the suit claims energy industry executives were effectively task force members. Oh, and the Bush administration has portrayed the Iraq war as a response to 9/11, not something it was already considering.

The outcome: Unresolved. In June 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to an appellate court.

4. The Indian Gaming Scandal

The scandal: Potential influence peddling to the tune of $82 million, for starters. Jack Abramoff, a GOP lobbyist and major Bush fundraiser, and Michael Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), received that amount from several Indian tribes, while offering access to lawmakers. For instance, Texas' Tigua tribe, which wanted its closed El Paso casino reopened, gave millions to the pair and $33,000 to Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio) in hopes of favorable legislation (Ney came up empty). And get this: The Tiguas were unaware that Abramoff, Scanlon and conservative activist Ralph Reed had earned millions lobbying to have the same casino shut in 2002.

The problem: Federal officials want to know if Abramoff and Scanlon provided real services for the $82 million, and if they broke laws while backing candidates in numerous Indian tribe elections.

The outcome: Everybody into the cesspool! The Senate Indian Affairs Committee and five federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS, and Justice Department, are investigating.

5. Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza

The scandal: In February 2003, Halliburton received a five-year, $7 billion no-bid contract for services in Iraq.

The problem: The Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting officer, Bunnatine Greenhouse, objected to the deal, saying the contract should be the standard one-year length, and that a Halliburton official should not have been present during the discussions.

The outcome: The FBI is investigating. The $7 billion contract was halved and Halliburton won one of the parts in a public bid. For her troubles, Greenhouse has been forced into whistle-blower protection.

6. Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices

The scandal: In 2003, Halliburton overcharged the army for fuel in Iraq. Specifically, Halliburton's subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root hired a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia, to supply fuel at about twice the going rate, then added a markup, for an overcharge of at least $61 million, according to a December 2003 Pentagon audit.

The problem: That's not the government's $61 million, it's our $61 million.

The outcome: The FBI is investigating.

7. Halliburton's Vanishing Iraq Money

The scandal: In mid-2004, Pentagon auditors determined that $1.8 billion of Halliburton's charges to the government, about 40 percent of the total, had not been adequately documented.

The problem: That's not the government's $1.8 billion, it's our $1.8 billion.

The outcome: The Defense Contract Audit Agency has "strongly" asked the Army to withhold about $60 million a month from its Halliburton payments until the documentation is provided.

8. The Halliburton Bribe-apalooza

The scandal: This may not surprise you, but an international consortium of companies, including Halliburton, is alleged to have paid more than $100 million in bribes to Nigerian officials, from 1995 to 2002, to facilitate a natural-gas-plant deal. (Cheney was Halliburton's CEO from 1995 to 2000.)

The problem: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials.

The outcome: A veritable coalition of the willing is investigating the deal, including the Justice Department, the SEC, the Nigerian government and a French magistrate. In June, Halliburton fired two implicated executives.

9. Halliburton: One Fine Company

The scandal: In 1998 and 1999, Halliburton counted money recovered from project overruns as revenue, before settling the charges with clients.

The problem: Doing so made the company's income appear larger, but Halliburton did not explain this to investors. The SEC ruled this accounting practice was "materially misleading."

The outcome: In August 2004, Halliburton agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle SEC charges. One Halliburton executive has paid a fine and another is settling civil charges. Now imagine the right-wing rhetoric if, say, Al Gore had once headed a firm fined for fudging income statements.

10. Halliburton's Iran End Run

The scandal: Halliburton may have been doing business with Iran while Cheney was CEO.

The problem: Federal sanctions have banned U.S. companies from dealing directly with Iran. To operate in Iran legally, U.S. companies have been required to set up independent subsidiaries registered abroad. Halliburton thus set up a new entity, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., to do business in Iran, but while the subsidiary was registered in the Cayman Islands, it may not have had operations totally independent of the parent company.

The outcome: Unresolved. The Treasury Department has referred the case to the U.S. attorney in Houston, who convened a grand jury in July 2004.

11. Money Order: Afghanistan's Missing $700 Million Turns Up in Iraq

The scandal: According to Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack," the Bush administration diverted $700 million in funds from the war in Afghanistan, among other places, to prepare for the Iraq invasion.

The problem: Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power "to raise and support armies." And the emergency spending bill passed after Sept. 11, 2001, requires the administration to notify Congress before changing war spending plans. That did not happen.

The outcome: Congress declined to investigate. The administration's main justification for its decision has been to claim the funds were still used for, one might say, Middle East anti-tyrant-related program activities.

Read the rest here.....................
Free at last? Not by a long chalk.
Tuesday 18 January 2005 @ 10:09
Two Million Black Americans Are Still Not Free at Last
By Matthew Cardinale

"Voting is the American way," says Miles, an ex-felon staying at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles. "Once it's taken, you become a third-class citizen, and you can't participate in what this country's all about and what wars were fought for."

"Losing the right to vote affects my views of those in power," said Steve, with an unmistakable inflection of regret in his voice. "I believe in democracy, but not the way they're trying to use it."

The mysterious "they" was a recurring theme among the ex-felons I talked to, showing how so many ex-felons who lose the right to vote in turn feel that American politics is something conducted by other people, for other people.

BJ concurs, "It makes me mad, upset. If you can't vote, you can't get no change in office. It's frustrating. I might as well just stay in jail. I know it's wrong. I pray every day things change."

5 million Americans like Miles, Steve, and BJ [aliases used] have been disenfranchised from voting because of laws in their state which exclude certain types of ex-convicts from voting.

The disproportionate racial impact of these laws is staggering. 1.8 million disenfranchised individuals are Black, according to the Sentencing Project, based on a figure from 2002. It is safe to say there are approximately 2 million disenfranchised Black Americans as of 2005.

Approximately 13% of all adult Black men are disenfranchised in the U.S. Black males are 7 times more likely to be disenfranchised than any other demographic group. In Alabama and Florida, 31% of all Black men are permanently disenfranchised.

Read the rest here................
Kerry zaps election outcome at MLK breakfast
Monday 17 January 2005 @ 06:12
Kerry criticizes election outcome at MLK Day breakfast

The Associated Press

BOSTON— U.S. Sen. John Kerry, in some of his most pointed public comments yet about November's presidential election, invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy on Monday as he criticized President Bush and decried reports of voter disenfranchisement on election day.

Kerry, Bush's Democratic challenger, spoke at Boston's annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast. He reiterated that he decided not to challenge the election results, but went on to say that "thousands of people were suppressed in the effort to vote."

"Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, eleven hours to vote, while Republicans sorted through in ten minutes - same voting machines, same process, our America," he said.

In his comments, Kerry also compared the democracy-building efforts in Iraq with voting in the U.S., saying that Americans had their names purged from voting lists and were kept from casting ballots.

"We're here to celebrate the life of a man who if he were here today would make it clear to us what our agenda is, and nothing would be made more clear on that agenda that in a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that too many people here in America were denied that democracy," Kerry said.

Read the rest here..............
Why We Must Question Our Elections
Monday 17 January 2005 @ 02:29
Why We Must Question Our Elections
By Arlene S. Ash, Ph.D.
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 17 January 2005

I am a statistician. When I testified about electoral tampering in Martin County, Florida, in November 2000, I focused exclusively on the fact that the number of disputed ballots would have changed the outcome. That was shortsighted. As U.S. newspapers have written about the Ukraine, an election's outcome may be less important than how it was conducted. Democratic elections must be verifiably fair.

Before November 2, several U.S. newspapers pursued concerns about election integrity. They reported on the vulnerability of electronic voting to simple errors and malicious hacking, and the unnecessary dangers posed by non-verifiable touch-screen voting. They exposed obstructionist maneuvers, such as Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's telling election commissioners to reject voter registrations submitted on thin paper.

Post-election, though, the mainstream media has largely ignored or ridiculed concerns about U.S. electoral errors and fraud.

For example, a front page article by Tom Zeller, Jr. in November 12's New York Times told us that the "elections department in Cleveland set off a round of Web-blog hysteria when it posted turnout figures on its site that seemed to show more votes being cast in some communities than there were registered voters." But, the figures did show over 93,000 more votes than voters. Why is it hysterical to be disturbed by this?

On the evening of November 2, Election Day ("exit") poll data showed comfortable margins for Kerry. These figures disappeared shortly after midnight, replaced by numbers very close to the final tallies. In Ohio, for example, as late as midnight the Bush/Kerry split was 47.9%/52.1%. Later, it was 50.9%/48.6%. The official vote tally is 51.0/48.5. The press has published speculation about how the early numbers might have come to be wrong, yet, two months after the election, there is still no convincing explanation of the discrepancy.

Read the rest here......................
Iraq's Red Dawn
Monday 17 January 2005 @ 11:34
Back in the 1980s, a film came out that was a masterpiece of Cold War propaganda. The film 'Red Dawn' depicted an invasion of the United States by a combined Soviet/Cuban force that came up through Central America and down from Alaska.

'Red Dawn' centered around the patriotic struggle of a bunch of kids from a small Colorado town, who armed themselves and took to the hills to fight the invaders. They were afraid and angry, and over the course of the movie most of them are killed. Each of the fallen is treated as a hero, their names etched upon a rock that eventually becomes a national monument once the war ends.

The chief antagonist, a Cuban officer, is disgusted with himself and the invasion by the conclusion of the film. In one dramatic scene, he has Patrick Swayze and his brother Charlie Sheen dead bang in the sights of his AK-47. Rather than gun them down, the officer lets them go, drops his weapon, and rubs his hands as if they have been dirtied by all the spilled blood.

I was young enough that this movie had a pretty profound effect on me. In short, it scared the hell out of me and got me all jacked up at the idea of defending my country against an invasion by commie Huns. This film came out, of course, during the Reagan administration, a time of heavy tension, a time when Ron himself told me that my generation would be the one to face the apocalypse.

Now, of course, I am old enough to see the thing for what it was. But I am casting it now in a new context that throws the whole premise into a cocked hat. These Soviet/Cuban commie invaders kept the lights on, kept the stores open, and saw themselves bringing 'freedom' to a nation held in thrall by capitalist oppressors. Why, then, did those kids fight?

In other words, this film glorifies armed resistance by patriotic fighters bent on repelling invaders. Yet in Iraq today, the kids playing the role of the resistance are vilified as terrorists and thugs. Are they not doing what those all-American kids did, to great applause, in 'Red Dawn'? We're the 'liberators' this time around, trying to get the lights on, trying to hold some sort of election. Why do they fight us?

They fight, I think, because home is home, and because invading armies are never, ever welcome. All the neo-cons in the Bush administration who thought this wwas going to be a 'cakewalk' should have probably watched 'Red Dawn' before undertaking this farce.

Caption: Iraqi children throw rocks at a U.S. Army armoured vehicle in the Shi'ite neighbourhood of Sadr City in Baghdad January 16, 2005. (Reuters)
My interview with actor Morgan Freeman on the MLK memorial
Monday 17 January 2005 @ 09:22

William Rivers Pitt: Thirty six years after the murder of Dr. King, plans are in motion to build a memorial to his life, his activism and his teachings in Washington DC. Given the days we live in - with war and economic uncertainty and fear served to us with our daily bread - a memorial to a man who preached non-violent resistance is timely. What aspects of the memorial will focus on King's legacy in this regard, and speaking personally, what aspects of Kings legacy in this regard find resonance with you in these days?

Morgan Freeman: Every aspect of this monument seems appropriate for these times. While some are confused and frustrated today with the conditions of our world, the monument offers the tenets of Christ as Dr. King understood them to provide calm - the water effects that are part of the design will allow a place for reflection. While storms and earthquakes ravage the land with power that mystifies us, the monument's etched phrases will speak of the peace within one's self - as Gandhi understood it and Dr. King perceived it from Gandhi's teachings. The monument itself - a peace monument to a peaceful man in a valley that has long commemorated great and hard-fought wars and the Presidents of our vast and diverse nation - the very idea of it pulses.

What does Dr. King mean to you? How do you feel about being involved in the movement to establish a memorial for him and his work?

I spent a great deal of time in the South, growing up there as a child in and around Memphis. As an adult, I was very aware of Dr. King's message and how it affected the people who lived in Southern communities. He was a person, more that any actor, more than just about any other statesman of his time, who had 'presence' in the surest form. I believe it was something that was born in him but that he cultivated with resolution because he knew the power that his particular kind of presence could have in the world.

He knew that change was inevitable but that choice affecting change, non-violence affecting change, peace in the midst of change would make the difference. This is a powerful example that he set for us and posterity. Any reminder of the example that was his life is important. In times of war, of heartache, of despair - in the best of times, we need to remember the power of an exemplary life. We need to remember, always, Dr. King's tenets and his life.

Can you tell me about the process involved in gaining approval for this monument, where it will be located, and what the overall concept behind its construction is?

A memorial, long overdue, will be built on the National Mall in Washington. It will be appropriately situated on four acres of the nation's most hallowed ground in a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The centerpiece is large a "Stone of Hope," on which the silhouette of Dr. King will be carved, symbolizing his walking out of the mountain of despair. Dr. King's sermons and speeches will be etched into a significant portion of the Memorial. The Memorial will fittingly be situated in the midst of the cherry blossoms, which will be bloom each year on the anniversary of Dr King's assassination.

This memorial project came about from the ambitious efforts of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternities. For over 20 years, the fraternity worked to make this dream a reality. As a result, in 1996, Congress signed an Act authorizing a Memorial in Washington and President Clinton signed the legislation authorizing the building to take place on the Tidal Basin.

Read the rest here..................
"Why My Brother Died"
Saturday 15 January 2005 @ 08:33
An excellent editorial from the Los Angeles Times:

Why My Brother Died

After two years, the government has called off its fruitless hunt for WMD.

By Dante Zappala

This week, the White House announced, with little fanfare, that the two-year search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq had finally ended, and it acknowledged that no such weapons existed there at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003.

For many, this may be a story of only passing interest. But for me and my family, it resonates with profound depth.

My brother was Sgt. Sherwood Baker. He was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard deployed a year ago with his unit out of Wilkes-Barre. He said goodbye to his wife and his 9-year-old son, boarded a bus and went to Ft. Dix, N.J., to be hastily retrained. His seven years of Guard training as a forward observer was practically worthless because he would not face combat. All he needed to do was learn how to not die.

He received a crash course in convoy security, including practice in running over cardboard cutouts of children. We bought him a GPS unit and walkie-talkies because he wasn't supplied with them. In Iraq, Sherwood was assigned to the Iraq Survey Group and joined the search for weapons of mass destruction.

David Kay, who led the group until January 2004, had already stated that they did not exist. Former United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix had expressed serious doubts about their presence during prewar inspections. In fact, a cadre of former U.N. inspectors and U.S. generals had been saying for years that Iraq posed no threat to our country. On April 26, 2004, the Iraq Survey Group, at the behest of the stubborn administration sitting safely in office buildings in Washington, was still on its fruitless but dangerous search. My brother stood atop his Humvee, securing the perimeter in front of a suspect building in Baghdad. But as soldiers entered the building, it exploded; the official cause is still not known. Sherwood was struck by debris in the back of his head and neck, and he was killed.


Even with every prewar assumption having been proved false, today more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers are trying to stay alive in a foreign desert with no clear mission at hand.

At home, the sidelines are overcrowded with patriots. These Americans cower from the fight they instigated in Iraq. In a time of war and record budget deficits, many are loath to even pay their taxes. In the end, however, it is not their family members who are at risk, and they do not sit up at night pleading with fate to spare them.

Change is vital. We must remind ourselves that the war with Iraq was not a mistake but rather a flagrant abuse of power by our leaders — and a case of shameful negligence by the rest of us for letting it happen. The consequence is more than a quagmire. The consequence is the death of our national treasure — our soldiers.

We are all accountable. We all share the responsibility of what has been destroyed in our name. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have done to our country by accepting that responsibility.

Read the rest here..............
The Bush Zone
Friday 14 January 2005 @ 08:36
John Cory has written another great piece.

The Bush Zone - (with apologies to Rod Serling)
By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective/Satire

Friday 14 January 2005

There is a fifth realm beyond known reality. It is a realm as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground of haze and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies at the pit of man's fears. This is the realm of the unimaginable. It is an area we call "The Bush Zone."

Meet Mr. and Mrs. America, faithful believers in the one true nation. They arise each morning and stand before the mirror reciting their daily mantra: "It's a grand old flag! Leader of the free world! We're no. 1!" Their iconic reflection smiles back, a warm and homemade apple pie image of the best of everything, the best medical care, the most powerful military, and the best political system of any country in the world. The mirror never lies.

But this morning, Mr. And Mrs. America, discover a warped mirror that casts a disturbing and twisted funhouse reflection of their former selves. Daily slogans are powerless against this distorted likeness, and all that they once held sacred now ripples across the glass in a deformed and misshapen wave of elongated ugliness. Mr. And Mrs. America just stepped through the looking glass and into the Bush Zone.

Submitted for your consideration: citizens of the wealthiest country in the world seek salvation via the free-market system. They organize bake sales and eBay auctions to raise money for medical therapy not covered by their profit-driven corporate HMOs, only to discover that some of that money is also needed to purchase body armor the Pentagon failed to provide to their sons and daughters in Iraq. War is never cheap, but always profitable in the Bush Zone.

Further submitted for your consideration: a President insists on free elections in his combat arena despite the risk to life and limb for Iraqis, even as his own political party strains the boundaries of legality and decency to suppress the vote of Americans at home. Democracy is only for the righteous few required to guide the many along the sacred path of destiny and empire in the Bush Zone.

Read the rest here..................
Justice Rehnquist is not doing well
Friday 14 January 2005 @ 05:49

One of the most powerful men in America, cancer-stricken Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, looked very, very ill yesterday.
I say that because I unexpectedly came face to face with the 80-year-old, wheelchair-bound Rehnquist as his aides pushed him down an endless series of basement corridors in the Capitol.

The longtime chief justice hasn't been seen in public in several months and it was clear to me why.

Rehnquist was hunched over in his wheelchair, an old hunting cap pulled down low over his ears to cover up his blotchy skin and near baldness, possibly the result of the aggressive treatment he's getting for his thyroid cancer.

His eyes looked sunken and lifeless. A plastic collar was wrapped tightly around his neck, where his throat had been opened recently for a tracheotomy.

I tried to make eye contact and wanted to offer a word of encouragement. Our eyes never met.

Read the rest here.............
What could Bush do with $40 million?
Friday 14 January 2005 @ 03:05
The price tag on the upcoming inauguration is at $40 million and rising. What else could he do with that money?

-- 200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq.

-- Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami.

-- A down payment on the nation's deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year.

Rathergate v. No WMD in Iraq
Friday 14 January 2005 @ 02:22
This is war
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 09:57

Spc. Sam Ross, 21, combat engineer, 82nd Airborne Division, was injured May 18, 2003 in Baghdad when a bomb blew up during a munitions disposal operation. He is blind and an amputee. Photographed in the woods near his trailer where he lives alone in Dunbar Township, Pennsylvania October 19, 2003.

"I lost my left leg, just below the knee. Lost my eyesight, which is still unsettled about whether it will come back or not. I have shrapnel in pretty much every part of my body. Got my finger blown off. It don't work right. I had a hole blown through my right leg. Had 3 skin grafts to try and repair it. It's not too bad right now. It hurts a lot, that's about it. You know not really anything major. Just little things. I get headaches. I have a piece of shrapnel in my neck that came up through my vest and went into my throat and it's sitting behind my trachea, and when I swallow it kind of feels like I have a pill in my throat. Some stuff like that. And my left ear, it don't work either."

Spc. Luis Calderon, 22, from Puerto Rico, a tank operator, 4th Infantry Division, was injured May 5, 2003 in Tikrit, when a concrete wall with Saddam's face on it, which he was ordered to destroy, came crashing down on his tank severing his spinal cord and leaving him a quadriplegic. Photographed at the Miami Veterans' Hospital December 17, 2003.

"I did my job. I got an Army Commendation medal. I didn't get a purple heart. I feel like I deserve one. It would make me more confident that I really did something. I'm disappointed that when they ask you to go, we go. And when we ask them where is our reward for doing something, they take their time. I don't know. I don't know how the system runs but it's pretty bad. For the moment right now, I just want to heal."

Pfc. Alan Jermaine Lewis, 23, a machine-gunner, 3rd Infantry Division was wounded July 16, 2003 on Highway 8 in Baghdad when the Humvee he was driving hit a land mine blowing off both legs, burning his face, and breaking his left arm in 6 places. He was delivering ice to other soldiers at the time. Photographed at home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, November 23, 2003.

"I remember every detail about my legs. Every detail from the scars to the ingrown toenails to the birthmarks to the burn marks. I made it a habit even before I even joined the military, to cherish every part of my body, cause I would always look at it like, 'What if this finger was gone, would I be able to function without it?' Things like that I've always had on my mind. I don't know why, maybe it was God's way of preparing me for what was going to happen. I've been dealing with the military since I was a sophomore in high school. They came to the school like 6 times a year all military branches. They had a recruiting station like a block from our high school. It was just right there."

PFC Randall Clunen, 19, 101st Airborne, stationed in Tal Afar, was pulling guard December 8, 2003 when a suicide bomber broke through security and exploded himself and his vehicle. Chunks of shrapnel ripped into Clunen's face. Photographed at home Salem, Ohio February 14, 2004.

"I have no political feelings. I'm just a soldier out there. You know, we're trying to help them live like us so they can be free and not be scared to do anything. Trying to set them free. That's how we looked at it. Sometimes we hated being over there because they just didn't respect what we were doing. We were trying to help them and they didn't want us there at all...It was a car bomb. A suicide bomber. He came just ripping through the gate and he exploded the car and himself. I got hit. My nose was sitting over here like on the left side of my face and I couldn't breathe so they had to cut a trache in. I was bleeding extremely bad. They kept me in a room by myself because I was just like really bad looking. I had tubes running all through."

Cpl Tyson Johnson III, 22, a mechanic with 205 Military Intelligence, was injured in a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad on September 20, 2003. He suffered massive internal injuries and is 100 percent disabled. Photographed at home in Prichard, Alabama May 6, 2004.

"It was crazy. The Iraqis, they wake up about 5 in the morning and they walking like zombies, just walking, walking, like walking dead type junk. I'm serious. Most of my friends they were losing it out there. They would do anything to get out of there, do anything. I had one of my guys, he used to tell me -- my wife just had my son, I can't wait to get home and see him. And, you know, he died out there. He sure did and I have to think about that every day. Shrapnel down the back, shrapnel that came in and hit my head, punctured my lungs. I broke both of my arms. I lost a kidney. My intestines was messed up. They took an artery out of my left leg and put it into this right arm. They pretty much took my life. Pretty much."

Much more at the Purple Heart's gallery by Nina Berman.

Tony Nave, 6, leaves the service Saturday for his father, Maj. Kevin Nave, Michigan's first known casualty of the war. (The Detriot News)

This is war.

On the subject of beat-downs
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 09:42
Armstrong Williams just gets annihilated in this editorial from the Black Commentator. A taste:

Williams’ public promiscuity cost him dearly, causing Tribune Media Services to terminate syndication of his column to 50 newspapers, including USA Today, which broke the story on January 7. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) charges that the Department of Education contract with Williams “is in violation of the Publicity and Propaganda clause included in annual appropriations bills for decades.” Congressional Democrats wrote a letter to President Bush. “Covert propaganda to influence public opinion is unethical and dangerous," they said.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) called on the White House to “rebuke those in the Department of Education who used taxpayer dollars to pay off conservative commentator Armstrong Williams in an attempt to influence public opinion on administration policy.”

“He’s tainted fruit,” said NABJ vice president for broadcast, Barbara Ciara. “And he’s unfairly indicted all commentators who have their own independent opinion, don’t need a script from the administration and don’t need to be paid off.”

But of course, Armstrong Williams has never been a journalist, nor has he ever uttered or written a word that could qualify as straightforward political commentary. Since 1979, when the 20-year-old signed on with his “mentor,” South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond and, later, as an aide to Clarence Thomas, then chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Williams has been a rightwing political operative for hire – a specialty he turned into a lucrative business. As we reported back in 2002: “Williams' public relations firm, the Graham Williams Group, co-founded with Oprah boyfriend Stedman Graham, specializes in serving ‘public policy organizations’ – the institutional Right. He is the Hardest Working Man in Ho' Business.”


Beta version of election fraud search engine
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 06:43
A poster over at is cobbling together an election fraud search engine. At the moment, it looks like this:

You can get to it at this link.

He is still tweaking it out, so bookmark it and keep trying it out as the days go by. If it develops into its potential, it will become a valuable resource.
The progression of the killer lie
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 03:21
"How the United States should react if Iraq acquired WMD. The first line of defense...should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence--if they do acquire WMD, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration."

Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs

"We are greatly concerned about any possible linkup between terrorists and regimes that have or seek weapons of mass destruction...In the case of Saddam Hussein, we've got a dictator who is clearly pursuing and already possesses some of these weapons. A regime that hates America and everything we stand for must never be permitted to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction."

Dick Cheney, Vice President
Detroit, Fund-Raiser

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

Dick Cheney, Vice President
Speech to VFW National Convention

"There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From Press

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."

George W. Bush, President
Speech to UN General Assembly

"Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons. We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

George W. Bush, President
Radio Address

"The Iraqi regime...possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

"And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons."

George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

"After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon."

George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."

George W. Bush, President
Cincinnati, Ohio Speech

"Iraq, despite UN sanctions, maintains an aggressive program to rebuild the infrastructure for its nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs. In each instance, Iraq's procurement agents are actively working to obtain both weapons-specific and dual-use materials and technologies critical to their rebuilding and expansion efforts, using front companies and whatever illicit means are at hand."

John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control
Speech to the Hudson Institute

"We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material -- whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous fissile material capability -- it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year. It has rebuilt its civilian chemical infrastructure and renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin, and VX. It actively maintains all key aspects of its offensive BW program."

John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control
Speech to the Hudson Institute

"Iraq could decide on any given day to provide biological or chemical weapons to a terrorist group or to individual terrorists...The war on terror will not be won until Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction."

Dick Cheney, Vice President
Denver, Address To Air National Guard

"If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From Press

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that's been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, biological weapons -- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
MSNBC Interview

"What is unique about Iraq compared to, I would argue, any other country in the world, in this juncture, is the exhaustion of diplomacy thus far, and, No. 2, this intersection of weapons of mass destruction."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
NewsHour Interview

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."

George W. Bush, President
State of the Union Address

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

George W. Bush, President
State of the Union Address

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to UN Security Council

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Addresses the U.N. Security Council

"In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world -- and we will not allow it."

George W. Bush, President
Speech to the American Enterprise Institute

"If Iraq had disarmed itself, gotten rid of its weapons of mass destruction over the past 12 years, or over the last several months since (UN Resolution) 1441 was enacted, we would not be facing the crisis that we now have before us . . . But the suggestion that we are doing this because we want to go to every country in the Middle East and rearrange all of its pieces is not correct."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Interview with Radio France International

"I am not eager to send young Americans into harm's way in Iraq, or to see innocent people killed or hurt in military operations. Given all of the facts and circumstances known to us, however, I am convinced that if we wait, a threat will continue to materialize in Iraq that could cause incalculable damage to world peace in general, and to the United States in particular."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Letter to Future of Freedom Foundation

"Iraq is a grave threat to this nation. It desires to acquire and use weapons of mass terror and is run by a despot with a proven record of willingness to use them. Iraq has had 12 years to comply with UN requirements for disarmament and has failed to do so. The president is right to say it's time has run out."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Senate Speech

"So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? . . . I think our judgment has to be clearly not."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to UN Security Council

"Getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime is our best inoculation. Destroying once and for all his weapons of disease and death is a vaccination for the world."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Washington Post op-ed

"Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We know that based on intelligence, that has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Dick Cheney, Vice President
Meet The Press

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

George W. Bush, President
Address to the Nation

"The United States . . . is now at war so we will not ever see what terrorists could do if supplied with weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Senate Debate

"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. And . . . as this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."

General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief Central Command
Press Conference

"One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites."

Victoria Clark, Pentagon Spokeswoman
Press Briefing

"I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction."

Kenneth Adelman, Defense Policy Board member
Washington Post, p. A27

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
ABC Interview

"We simply cannot live in fear of a ruthless dictator, aggressor and terrorist such as Saddam Hussein, who possesses the world's most deadly weapons."

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Speech to American Israel Political Action Committee

"We still need to find and secure Iraq's weapons of mass destruction facilities and secure Iraq's borders so we can prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction materials and senior regime officials out of the country."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Conference

"You bet we're concerned about it. And one of the reasons it's important is because the nexus between terrorist states with weapons of mass destruction ... and terrorist groups -- networks -- is a critical link. And the thought that ... some of those materials could leave the country and in the hands of terrorist networks would be a very unhappy prospect. So it is important to us to see that that doesn't happen."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Conference

"Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find -- and there will be plenty."

Robert Kagan, Neocon scholar
Washington Post op-ed

"I think you have always heard, and you continue to hear from officials, a measure of high confidence that, indeed, the weapons of mass destruction will be found."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"Were not going to find anything until we find people who tell us where the things are. And we have that very high on our priority list, to find the people who know. And when we do, then well learn precisely where things were and what was done."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Meet the Press

"I have absolute confidence that there are weapons of mass destruction inside this country. Whether we will turn out, at the end of the day, to find them in one of the 2,000 or 3,000 sites we already know about or whether contact with one of these officials who we may come in contact with will tell us, 'Oh, well, there's actually another site,' and we'll find it there, I'm not sure."

General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief Central Command
Fox New

"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."

George W. Bush, President
NBC Interview

"There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Briefing

"We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

George W. Bush, President
Remarks to Reporters

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Remarks to Reporters

"We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Fox News Interview

"I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program."

George W. Bush, President
Remarks to Reporters

"U.S. officials never expected that 'we were going to open garages and find' weapons of mass destruction."

Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
Reuters Interview

"I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, (or) whether they're still hidden."

Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne
Press Briefing

"We said all along that we will never get to the bottom of the Iraqi WMD program simply by going and searching specific sites, that you'd have to be able to get people who know about the programs to talk to you."

Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Interview with Australian Broadcasting

"Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found."

Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Interview with Reporters

"It's going to take time to find them, but we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth. One thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction."

George W. Bush, President
Speech at a weapons factory in Ohio

"Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
NBC Today Show interview

"They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Remarks to Council on Foreign Relations

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Vanity Fair interview

"The President is indeed satisfied with the intelligence that he received. And I think that's borne out by the fact that, just as Secretary Powell described at the United Nations, we have found the bio trucks that can be used only for the purpose of producing biological weapons. That's proof-perfect that the intelligence in that regard was right on target."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing

"We have teams of people that are out looking. They've investigated a number of sites. And within the last week or two, they have in fact captured and have in custody two of the mobile trailers that Secretary Powell talked about at the United Nations as being biological weapons laboratories."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Infinity Radio Interview

"But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."

George W. Bush, President
Interview with TVP Poland

"You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons ...They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two...And we'll find more weapons as time goes on."

George W. Bush, President
Press Briefing

"It was a surprise to me then -- it remains a surprise to me now -- that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."

Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force
Press Interview

"Do I think we're going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do, because I think there's a lot of information out there."

Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, Defense Intelligence Agency
Press Conference

Q: The fact that there hasn't been substantial cache of weapons of mass destruction -- is that an embarrassment?

Wolfowitz: No. Is it an embarrassment to people on the other side that we've discovered these biological production vans, which the defector told us about?

Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
CNN Interview

"This wasn't material I was making up, it came from the intelligence community."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Press Briefing

"'We know that some of them, especially the biological weapons, were being destroyed,' Hastert said, adding that it would 'take a little while to find weapons of mass destruction... and we're going to continue to do it.'"

Dennis Hastert, House Speaker R-IL
Press Briefing

"We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents. This is the man who spent decades hiding tools of mass murder. He knew the inspectors were looking for them. You know better than me he's got a big country in which to hide them. We're on the look. We'll reveal the truth."

George W. Bush, President

"I would put before you Exhibit A, the mobile biological labs that we have found. People are saying, 'Well, are they truly mobile biological labs?' Yes, they are. And the DCI, George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence, stands behind that assessment."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Fox News Interview

"No one ever said that we knew precisely where all of these agents were, where they were stored."

Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
Meet the Press

"What the president has said is because it's been the long-standing view of numerous people, not only in this country, not only in this administration, but around the world, including at the United Nations, who came to those conclusions...And the president is not going to engage in the rewriting of history that others may be trying to engage in."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Response to Question From Press

"Iraq had a weapons program...Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out they did have a weapons program."

George W. Bush, President
Comment to Reporters

"The biological weapons labs that we believe strongly are biological weapons labs, we didn't find any biological weapons with those labs. But should that give us any comfort? Not at all. Those were labs that could produce biological weapons whenever Saddam Hussein might have wanted to have a biological weapons inventory."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Associated Press Interview

"Those documents were only one piece of evidence in a larger body of evidence suggesting that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Africa ... The issue of Iraq's pursuit of uranium in Africa is supported by multiple sources of intelligence. The other sources of evidence did and do support the president's statement."

Sean McCormack, National Security Council Spokesman
Statement to press

"My personal view is that their intelligence has been, I'm sure, imperfect, but good. In other words, I think the intelligence was correct in general, and that you always will find out precisely what it was once you get on the ground and have a chance to talk to people and explore it, and I think that will happen."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Press Briefing

"I have reason, every reason, to believe that the intelligence that we were operating off was correct and that we will, in fact, find weapons or evidence of weapons, programs, that are conclusive. But that's just a matter of time...It's now less than eight weeks since the end of major combat in Iraq and I believe that patience will prove to be a virtue."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Pentagon media briefing.

MS. BLOCK: There were no toxins found in those trailers. SECRETARY POWELL: Which could mean one of several things: one, they hadn't been used yet to develop toxins; or, secondly, they had been sterilized so thoroughly that there is no residual left. It may well be that they hadn't been used yet.

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
All Things Considered, Interview

"That was the concern we had with Saddam Hussein. Not only did he have weapons -- and we'll uncover not only his weapons but all of his weapons programs -- he never lost the intent to have these kinds of weapons."

Colin Powell, Secretary of State
All Things Considered, Interview

"I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are."

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary
Press Briefing


Search for WMD in Iraq ended

Effort folded shortly before Christmas

By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post

Jan. 11, 2005

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

Interesting inauguration story
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 02:33
Protesters Get Prime Spot for Inauguration

Wed Jan 12, 6:15 PM ET White House - AP

By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The National Park Service has agreed to give thousands of anti-war demonstrators a prime spot along President Bush's inaugural parade route that will allow them to protest during the procession.

The anti-war group A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition is planning to erect its own bleachers in the space, an open plaza on Pennsylvania Ave., just a few blocks from the Capitol building, said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the group. The bleachers could seat up to 1,000 people and the park service estimates up to 10,000 could fill the space standing shoulder to shoulder.

"I don't think it's ever happened in history that the anti-war movement has ever been able to have this kind of setup," Becker said.

Park service spokesman Bill Line said the agency has offered the space in John Marshall Plaza to the group but is still waiting for them to submit written confirmation. Becker said A.N.S.W.E.R. plans to submit the paperwork as soon as they can work out details about where to set up the bleachers.

The presidential motorcade carrying Bush will pass directly in front of the protesters' bleachers, which will be across the street from other bleachers set up by the official inaugural committee. The plaza, between the federal courthouse and the Canadian embassy, runs about 240 feet along the historic street that stretches from the Capitol to the White House.

The parade gets under way at 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 after Bush's swearing-in at the Capitol and a celebratory luncheon.

Read the rest here................
Blogging the Inauguration
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 11:26
Unless something rather profound happens to snarl the plans, I will be traveling to DC next week to blog the Inauguration, as well as any action that arises on the street. There is an expectation that many protesters will show up to say howdy, which is probably the reason George is deploying 4,000 troops on the DC streets. Safety and security, baby.

Stay tuned.
More on Chertoff
Thursday 13 January 2005 @ 08:46
From Doug Ireland's Blog:

The Bush White House thinks they’re being clever by naming a prosecutor instead of a criminal to head the Department of Homeland Security: Mike Chertoff, whose appointment as DHS czar in the wake of the failed nomination of scandal-plagued Bernie Kerik (now under investigation by multiple law-enforcement agencies) was announced as the Weekly went to press. But Chertoff is as political an appointment as one can imagine--especially for those who know the arcana of politics in New Jersey, where Chertoff was U.S. Attorney, and where his naming to the DHS job caused jaws to drop.

Chertoff was a political attack dog in that job, indicting and convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders. But one who Chertoff deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob “The Torch” Torricelli, forced to resign his U.S. Senate seat from Sopranoland in a major corruption scandal. Nick Acocella, editor of the respected insider newsletter New Jersey Politifax, recalls that, at the height of the Torricelli scandal, and while Chertoff was U.S. Attorney, he saw The Torch and Chertoff together at a South Jersey Jewish banquet where they embraced and huddled intimately “like twins separated at birth.” One would have thought a federal prosecutor would have kept his distance from a target of criminal investigations that were making daily headlines in the Jersey press.

When Chertoff was named by Bush to head the Justice Department’s Criminal Division--partly because he was a skilled political hitman, who’d also raised a ton of money as financial vice-chair of Bush’s Garden State campaign in 2000-- it’s an open secret in Jersey that he squelched an indictment of Torricelli as a reward for The Torch’s support of key Bush legislation the Democratic Party leadership opposed, including tax cuts for corporations and the very rich. (Many of the fat-cats Chertoff shook down for Bush had also been huge givers to The Torch.)

Long active in the Federalist Society--a conspiratorial brotherhood of legal reactionaries--Chertoff, at Justice, helped to write the civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act. He was John Ashcroft’s honcho in the indiscriminate grilling of over 5000 Arab-Americans after 9/11, cooked up the use of “material witness” warrants to lock up people of Middle Eastern descent and hold them indefinitely without trial, and on behalf of the Justice Department wrote a brief (in Chavez v. Martinez) arguing there was no Constitutional right to be free of coercive police questioning.

Read the rest.................
Please file under 'Scary Dudes,' subfile 'Insane'
Wednesday 12 January 2005 @ 06:45
Say hello to two fellows Mr. Bush thinks will do well in public service.

Claude Allen, appointed as Chief Domestic Policy Adviser:

In an article titled "The Bush Theocracy," journalist Doug Ireland writes:

"President Bush's appointment of his new chief domestic-policy adviser, Claude Allen - a notorious homophobe, a ferocious enemy of abortion and an opponent of safe-sex education who for years has been one of the AIDS community's principal enemies - is a huge victory for the social reactionaries of the Christian right.

"Allen, who was named to his new position in the White House last week, had previously been a top aide at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He was placed there by Karl Rove as a watchdog on then - HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who had an exaggerated reputation as a "moderate" and who wasn't entirely trusted by Rove to carry out - by administrative order - the social agenda of the Christian right, a key part of Rove's successful plan to mobilize millions of Christer voters for Bush's re-election."

Read the rest here...................

And then we have Michael Chertoff, tapped by Bush to be the next secretary of Homeland Security:

As an assistant attorney general in the months after the attacks, Chertoff helped oversee the detention of hundreds Muslim and Arab men without pressing charges by using the "material witness" statute. A subsequent report by the Justice Department's inspector general determined that immigrants were rounded up in a "indiscriminate and haphazard manner," held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes mistreated behind bars.

The American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday in a statement "We are troubled that (Chertoff's) public record suggests he sees the Bill of Rights as an obstacle to national security, rather than a guidebook for how to do security properly."

Read the rest here.................

From now on, I think I will refer to this administration as 'The Happy Fun Group.'
The WMD search is over
Wednesday 12 January 2005 @ 01:04
Just when I feel I have reached my capacity for outrage and frustration, just when I think the sorrow and rage needle is as pegged-over as it can be, I see articles like this one from MSNBC:

The hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq has come to an end nearly two years after President Bush ordered U.S. troops to disarm Saddam Hussein. The top CIA weapons hunter is home, and analysts are back at Langley.

In interviews, officials who served with the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) said the violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.

Four months after Charles A. Duelfer, who led the weapons hunt in 2004, submitted an interim report to Congress that contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials, a senior intelligence official said the findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published this spring.

Rather than get off on yet another rant, I am going to fall back on a few of the things I have written on this subject over the last two years.


The Coming October War in Iraq
Wednesday, 24 July, 2002

"If I were an American, uninformed on Iraq as we all are," said Ritter, "I would be concerned." Furthermore, continued Ritter, if an unquestionable case could be made that such weapons and terrorist connections existed, he would be all for a war in Iraq. It would be just, smart, and in the interest of national defense.

Therein lies the rub: According to Scott Ritter, who spent seven years in Iraq with the UNSCOM weapons inspection teams performing acidly detailed investigations into Iraq's weapons program, no such capability exists. Iraq simply does not have weapons of mass destruction, and does not have threatening ties to international terrorism. Therefore, no premise for a war in Iraq exists. Considering the American military lives and the Iraqi civilian lives that will be spent in such an endeavor, not to mention the deadly regional destabilization that will ensue, such a baseless war must be avoided at all costs.

"The Bush administration has provided the American public with little more than rhetorically laced speculation," said Ritter. "There has been nothing in the way of substantive fact presented that makes the case that Iraq possesses these weapons or has links to international terror, that Iraq poses a threat to the United States of America worthy of war."

Read the rest here..............


Think the Days of the Draft are Gone? Think Again
September 11, 2002

The situation in Afghanistan will be a significant tax on our military resources, unless we walk away as we did once the Soviets disengaged in 1989, which would guarantee once again the rise of fundamentalist chaos there. We have reaped that whirlwind once already, and will hold this tiger by the tail until further notice. The fact that we have significant interest in the natural resources of that region only cements the permanence of our presence there.

Our military presence in the Middle East is already significant, and has begun to steadily increase since George W. Bush began to beat the war drum against Iraq. A great many officers ensconced in the Pentagon strongly believe our military will become far too stretched in a repeat engagement with Saddam Hussein's forces. Few will say openly that they fear defeat, and in fact the odds of losing a war in Iraq are extremely low, but the pressure placed upon our military resources will be extreme. The potential for explosive upheaval in the Middle East should we make war on Iraq further exacerbates this. Between Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States military is reaching mission capacity.

There is a high-stakes game of poker being played within the administration right now. The hawks are holding aces and betting them. Around them on the card table, the chips are piled high. Your sons, your brothers, your friends are in that pile. So are you, if you are of age. After September 11th, the only thing likely to happen is that which was previously inconceivable. Could war in Iraq bring terrorism back to our country? Could it lead to a regional conflagration in the Middle East? Could it lead to another draft?

I wouldn't bet against it.

Read the rest here.........


Murder for Profit
Monday 16 September, 2002

Bush will go to war in Iraq to satisfy the dreams of the neo-conservative hawks in his administration - Perle, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney to name a few - who wish more than anything to redraw the map of the Middle East and institute "regime changes" in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran. Iraq is merely a starting point, the "tactical pivot" described in a summer briefing to Perle's Defense Policy Board by Rand corporation think-tankers, which will open the rest of the region to attack. Make no mistake: These are the men running American foreign policy today, as well as the War on Terror, and they want "total war" in that region. They have admitted that they have no idea what will come of it - thousands of dead American troops, tens or hundreds of thousands of dead civilians, massive retaliatory terrorism on our shores - but they are more than willing to pay that price to gain a permanent hold on that strategically vital region.

Bush will also go to war to satisfy the desires of men like Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff who looks at politics and policy through the eyes of a marketing strategist. Until recently, the product Card had to sell to the American people was smeared with scandal and economic ruin. Bush and his corporate friends have treated the Treasury, and the stock-rooted retirement dreams of millions of Americans, the way a hammer-wielding thief treats a jewelry store display case during a smash-and grab robbery. This was a recipe for disaster come November. War on Iraq has stripped that old, damaged product from the shelves, replacing it with a martial President surging forth against a dangerous foe. The weeks of hemming and hawing over whether or not to go it alone, salted with vastly overstated descriptions of the threat posed by Iraq, and culminating with Bush's appearance before the UN, has changed the national debate completely. Card's new product is priced to move.

We must face a wretched truth. George W. Bush has allowed, and will continue to allow, a course for war to be charted in order to save his party at the polls in November. At the same time, he has given free rein to the neo-con hawks in his administration to begin a process of total war in the Middle East in order to secure petroleum profits for the foreseeable future. Untold hundreds or thousands of Americans will die in this process, as will tens of thousands of innocent civilians. One can only guess the number of American civilians who will die in their own country at the hands of the terrorists who will doubtlessly attack America again in response to this program.

This is murder for profit, a capitol crime meriting the gas chamber for any American convicted of it in a court of law. Period.

Read the rest here...................


The Dog Ate My WMDs
Friday 13 June 2003

After roughly 280 days worth of fearful descriptions of the formidable Iraqi arsenal, coming on the heels of seven years of UNSCOM weapons inspections, four years of surveillance, months of UNMOVIC weapons inspections, the investiture of an entire nation by American and British forces, after which said forces searched "everywhere" per the words of the Marine commander over there and "found nothing," after interrogating dozens of the scientists and officers who have nothing to hide anymore because Hussein is gone, after finding out that the dreaded 'mobile labs' were weather balloon platforms sold to Iraq by the British, George W. Bush and his people suddenly have a few things to answer for.

You may recall this instance where a bombastic claim was made by Bush. During his constitutionally-mandated State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Mr. Bush said, "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." Nearly five months later, those 500 tons are nowhere to be found. A few seconds with a calculator can help us understand exactly what this means.

500 tons of gas equals one million pounds. After UNSCOM, after UNMOVIC, after the war, after the US Army inspectors, after all the satellite surveillance, it is difficult in the extreme to imagine how one million pounds of anything could refuse to be located. Bear in mind, also, that this one million pounds is but a part of the Iraqi weapons arsenal described by Bush and his administration.

Maybe the dog ate it. Or maybe it was never there to begin with, having been destroyed years ago by the first UN inspectors and by the Iraqis themselves. Maybe we went to war on a big lie, one that killed over 3,500 Iraqi civilians to date, one that killed some 170 American soldiers, one that has been costing us one American soldier's life per day thus far.

Read the rest here...................


The Dubious Suicide of George Tenet
Monday 14 July 2003

The sun came up over Washington DC on Sunday and shined on copies of the Washington Post which were waiting patiently to be read. The lead headline for the Sunday edition read, "CIA Got Uranium Reference Cut in October." The meat of the article states:

"CIA Director George J. Tenet successfully intervened with White House officials to have a reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed from a presidential speech last October, three months before a less specific reference to the same intelligence appeared in the State of the Union address, according to senior administration officials.

"Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used because it came from only a single source, according to one senior official. Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged."

What do we have here?

Here is CIA Director Tenet arguing in October of 2002 against the use of the Niger evidence, stating bluntly that it was useless. He made this pitch directly to the White House. These concerns were brushed aside by Bush officials, and the forged evidence was used despite the warnings in the State of the Union address. Now, the administration is trying to claim they were never told the evidence was bad. Yet between Tenet's personal appeals in 2002, and Ambassador Wilson's assurances that everyone who needed to know was in the know regarding Niger, it appears the Bush White House has been caught red-handed in a series of incredible falsehoods.

Read the rest here...................


We Caught The Wrong Guy
Monday 15 December 2003

Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, reached at his home on Sunday, said, 'It's great that they caught him. The man was a brutal dictator who committed terrible crimes against his people. But now we come to rest of story. We didn't go to war to capture Saddam Hussein. We went to war to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons have not been found.' Ray McGovern, senior analyst and 27-year veteran of the CIA, echoed Ritter's perspective on Sunday. 'It's wonderful that he was captured, because now we'll find out where the weapons of mass destruction are,' said McGovern with tongue firmly planted in cheek. 'We killed his sons before they could tell us.'

Indeed, reality intrudes. The push for war before March was based upon Hussein's possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 1,000,000 pounds of sarin gas, mustard gas, and VX nerve gas, along with 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, uranium from Niger to be used in nuclear bombs, and let us not forget the al Qaeda terrorists closely associated with Hussein who would take this stuff and use it against us on the main streets and back roads of the United States.

When they found Hussein hiding in that dirt hole in the ground, none of this stuff was down there with him. The full force of the American military has been likewise unable to locate it anywhere else. There is no evidence of al al Qaeda agents working with Hussein, and Bush was forced some weeks ago to publicly acknowledge that Hussein had nothing to do with September 11. The Niger uranium story was debunked last summer.

Conventional wisdom now holds that none of this stuff was there to begin with, and all the clear statements from virtually everyone in the Bush administration squatting on the public record describing the existence of this stuff looks now like what it was then: A lot of overblown rhetoric and outright lies, designed to terrify the American people into supporting an unnecessary go-it-alone war. Said war made a few Bush cronies rich beyond the dreams of avarice while allowing some hawks in the Defense Department to play at empire-building, something they have been craving for more than ten years.

Of course, the rhetoric mutated as the weapons stubbornly refused to be found. By the time Bush did his little 'Mission Accomplished' strut across the aircraft carrier, the occupation was about the removal of Saddam Hussein and the liberation of the Iraqi people. No longer were we informed on a daily basis of the 'sinister nexus between Hussein and al Qaeda,' as described by Colin Powell before the United Nations in February. No longer were we fed the insinuations that Hussein was involved in the attacks of September 11. Certainly, any and all mention of weapons of mass destruction ceased completely. We were, instead, embarking on some noble democratic experiment.

Read the rest here................


The page on the White House website that describes Iraq's possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 500 tons (also known as 1,000,000 lbs.) of sarin, mustard and VX, almost 30,000 munitions to deliver these agents, mobile biological weapons labs and uranium from Niger for use in nuclear weapons is still on the White House website even today.

1,357 American soldiers have died in Iraq looking for these weapons.


Pelosi: 'With Search for WMD in Iraq Over, President Needs to Explain Why HeWas So Wrong, for So Long'

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on media reports that the Iraq Survey Group, whose job it was to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has ended its efforts:

After a search that has consumed nearly two years and millions of dollars, and a war that has cost thousands of lives, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, nor has any evidence been uncovered that such weapons were moved to another country. Not only was there not an imminent threat to the United States, the threat described in such alarmist tones by President Bush and the most senior members of his Administration did not exist at all.

Citing the continuing search by the Iraq Survey Group, President Bush has refused to concede what has been obvious for months: the primary justification for the invasion of Iraq was not supported by fact. Now that the search is finished, President Bush needs to explain to the American people why he was so wrong, for so long, about the reasons for war.
Purge at vital federal office?
Wednesday 12 January 2005 @ 01:32
Whistleblower Staff Claiming Retaliation
Forced Moves to New “Midwest Field Office”

Washington, DC — The U.S. Special Counsel, the principal protector of federal whistleblower and merit system rights, has abruptly ordered more than 20 percent of his headquarters legal and investigative staff to relocate or be fired. According to a letter of protest filed today by three national whistleblower watchdog groups, those targeted for forced moves are all career employees hired before Bloch became Special Counsel, as part of a purge to stifle dissent and re-staff the agency with handpicked loyalists.

Bloch began the second year of his five-year term by ordering 12 headquarters employees, on penalty of removal, to accept involuntary transfers to Dallas, Oakland and a newly created Detroit field office. Bloch did not ask for volunteers or consult with affected employees beforehand. The employees have been given 10 days to agree to the transfer and 60 days to move. As many of the employees have families in the area it is not known how many will leave public service rather than move.

Three whistleblower protection organizations (the Government Accountability Project, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the Project on Government Oversight) wrote to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs strongly urging the directed reassignment await an investigation of merit system abuses, retaliation, and other prohibited personnel practices at Office of Special Counsel by the Government Accountability Office. The groups argue that outside review is necessary because there is no independent forum for OSC employees to complain about retaliation and merit system abuses.

"This crude purge attempt is just the latest stage in Scott Bloch’s reign of terror at the Special Counsel,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch who referred to Bloch’s previous issuance of gag orders to staff directing them not to discuss problems with the office. “The only thing this Special Counsel has brought to the merit system is new techniques for circumventing it.”

In a January 7th press release, Bloch claims that the Detroit office was created “after extensive discussions with staff and an outside assessment team’s review of the Agency structure.” In fact, none of the affected staff was notified in advance, let alone party to “discussions,” about the move. Moreover, the assessment review did not recommend creation of a new office; in fact the creation of the new office and the transfer of senior executives to field offices is directly contrary to the assessment team’s recommendations.

“The irony is overwhelming – how could the federal protector of whistleblowers make a bigger mockery of his agency's mission than this?” asked Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight, adding that members of Congress have already called for Bloch’s removal and employees may now have to rely on Congress to intervene to stop the move. “The pattern of behavior from the Special Counsel certainly indicates he took this job to dismantle the office, rather than its mission."

Read the rest here........

Thanks to Norma for passing it along.
On the matter of death squads
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 11:48
Billmon's Whiskey Bar blog has up a terrifying page that will tell you everything you need to know about death squads. It begins with the recent Newsweek article describing plans to unleash death squads in Iraq.

From there, however, the grimness piles on. Take a look at the stories stacked below the Newsweek article. El Salvador is a warning, or perhaps, a vision of our future.

Robert Parry has added to the conversation with an article titled Bush's 'Death Squads':

Refusing to admit personal misjudgments on Iraq, George W. Bush instead is pushing the United States toward becoming what might be called a permanent “counter-terrorist” state, which uses torture, cross-border death squads and even collective punishments to defeat perceived enemies in Iraq and around the world.

Since securing a second term, Bush has pressed ahead with this hard-line strategy, in part by removing dissidents inside his administration while retaining or promoting his protégés. Bush also has started prepping his younger brother Jeb as a possible successor in 2008, which could help extend George W.’s war policies while keeping any damaging secrets under the Bush family’s control.

As a centerpiece of this tougher strategy to pacify Iraq, Bush is contemplating the adoption of the brutal practices that were used to suppress leftist peasant uprisings in Central America in the 1980s. The Pentagon is “intensively debating” a new policy for Iraq called the “Salvador option,” Newsweek magazine reported on Jan. 9.

The strategy is named after the Reagan-Bush administration’s “still-secret strategy” of supporting El Salvador’s right-wing security forces, which operated clandestine “death squads” to eliminate both leftist guerrillas and their civilian sympathizers, Newsweek reported. “Many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success – despite the deaths of innocent civilians,” Newsweek wrote.

Read the rest here..........
Joe Trippi Endorses Rosenberg, not Dean, for DNC chair
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 08:37
From the Rosenberg website:

Joe Trippi Endorses Simon Rosenberg on MSNBC's Hardball

"If our party is to win in the 21st century, we have to have a strategist who knows how to practice 21st century politics. That means expanding participation, embracing technology, and building an apparatus that can counter the Republican machine. Simon Rosenberg was among the first in politics to acknowledge the power of the movement we built with Dean for America and he wasn’t afraid to speak up about how we were fundamentally changing politics. He knows that in the age of the Internet, our politics must be interactive and participatory to engage citizens. He knows the Internet is not just an ATM for candidates and parties, but a tool for bringing in millions of Americans who want to be a part of the political process. For Simon, building a new progressive politics for our time is not just lip service, it is a passion backed up by his record. I’m backing Simon for chair because I know I can work with him to help build a modern, winning Democratic party."

One take on Rosenberg put up by dailykos.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 08:34
I've come to a conclusion. Nothing epic, nothing earth-shattering, no profound insight, but instead something so simple that it gets missed in all the noise, like one of those drawings you stare at and see only formless lines and shapes, until it resolves itself into two candlesticks or 'Jesus' or whatever.

The conclusion: People are going to hear what they want to hear.

Not everyone, mind you. There are plenty of people walking around out there and in here whose minds can be changed when presented with a good argument or set of facts. Hell, there are neo-cons walking the earth right now who have come to see the whole Iraq thing as a complete disaster. Anything is possible.

But a lot of people will only hear what they want to hear, what agrees with what they already believe, or what fulfills an agenda.

Take, for example, the people who think Kerry was a coward for not standing up in Congress. Unambiguous comments describing House members who said they didn't want him there for tactical reasons, and the straightforward geometry of the tactics themselves - which correctly point out that Kerry's presence would have totally derailed everything, made it about him and not the election (yes, those are separate things), and would have handed a propaganda coup to the opposition - don't make a dent.

On that one, people hear what they want to hear.

Take, for example, the people who think Kerry isn't worth bothering with anymore because he failed to fulfill expectations per the Senate appearance described above. Offering the two main reasons for why this is a bad plan - 1) He is going to be a Senator, and a powerful one, and ignoring him is just dumb; 2) Unambiguous comments from Kerry and his crew that election reform will be front and center on his list of priorities when he returns to Congress from incredibly important personal inspections of Baghdad, Mosul and Fallujah; 2a) This is the guy who dismantled BCCI when that scumhole was on his front burner - don't make a dent.

People hear what they want to hear.

Flip that script, and examples abound. Some think that Kerry ran a great race and will be a perfect choice for President in 2008. Give them the facts - his campaign geeked on several collosal issues like the Swifties, the $87 million vote, the confusing Iraq statement given at the Grand Canyon, and the flip-flop thing for starters - and you will only piss them off.

What's that I hear? Oh yeah, exactly what I wanted to hear.

Or, for another example, when you try to talk to people who think Kerry played the election thing as well as he could - when you explain that his hairtrigger concession the morning after the election, before the Ohio election observers who saw all this crazy stuff happening were debriefed, was a behemoth tactical mistake and a betrayal of the people who'd busted their asses for him - you won't get anywhere.

The people who think exit polls are as reliable as tempered steel won't make a dent with people who think they are unreliable constructs, and vice versa.


I think this simple conclusion came to me while I watched people chewing on each other in a few online forums. Now, I know this message won't convince a lot of people - see above - but I think there will be a few who will see it my way. This won't reach the folks who live to start arguments because they don't have hobbies, or have rage issues, or because their mothers dressed them funny, or whatever. But that goes without saying, I guess.

I'm thinking that the energy spent battering up against people who are never going to hear what you are saying could be better spent locating people who can actually have their minds changed with facts. The best place to look for them is behind you. Turn away from the computer screen, walk through your home until you find the front door, open door, pass through door, close door, and there they are. Not all of them. But some of them.

I wear a big blue paperclip on my coat. As it is winter in Boston, whenever I am outside I am wearing that coat. That paperclip has begun more than two dozen conversations since I put it on.

"Dude, you know you got a paperclip on your coat?"


"Why do you have a paperclip on your coat?"

"It is a symbol of soldarity with those working to figure out why this past election was so screwed up."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's like this..."

Every major social movement in all of history has begun with a conversation.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The Arnebeck suit in Ohio has been dropped
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 04:13
Lawsuit Over Ohio Voting Dropped
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 11, 2005; 12:55 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Three dozen voters challenging the presidential election results in the Ohio Supreme Court asked to drop their lawsuit Tuesday, saying it is moot with last week's certification of the electoral vote and the upcoming inauguration.

Citing fraud, lawyers representing 37 voters on Nov. 2 had asked the court to examine several problems with voting procedures in the hopes of overturning President Bush's victory in the state.


Without giving specifics, attorney Cliff Arnebeck said challenges of the results would continue in state or federal courts. But he conceded that there was nothing available now to try to prevent Bush's inauguration.

"We are not quitting. We are going on to any other forum that's available and we intend to pursue those avenues aggressively," Arnebeck said.

Read the rest here..................
Mike Moore v. Mel Gibson? Not so fast...
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 02:48
Ever since 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and 'The Passion' won People's Choice awards, there have been people trying to incite some kind of left-right public crunch between them: On the left, the anti-Bush anti-war 'crazies,' and on the right, the righteous pro-Bush fundamentalists.

Well, it doesn't look like Gibson is interested. "I feel a strange kinship with Michael," Mr. Gibson said. "They're trying to pit us against each other in the press, but it's a hologram. They really have got nothing to do with one another. It's just some kind of device, some left-right. He makes some salient points. There was some very expert, elliptical editing going on. However, what the hell are we doing in Iraq? No one can explain to me in a reasonable manner that I can accept why we're there, why we went there, and why we're still there."

So there's that.

Post-script: The folks over on the ulta-rightwing web forum Free Republic are becoming totally unhinged at the prospect of their Christian soldier/fimmmaker having any kind words for Moore or his movie. Truly hilarious reading. You just can't make this stuff up.
Howard jumps in
Tuesday 11 January 2005 @ 12:55
Dean to Seek Democratic Chairmanship

By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Former presidential candidate Howard Dean, once the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination whose candidacy stumbled, has decided to seek the party's chairmanship.

"The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state," Dean wrote in a letter to members of the Democratic National Committee. "We must be willing to contest every race at every level. We can only win when we show up."

Dean's entry into the race appears to pre-empt another bid for the presidency in 2008. The chairman's job carries a four-year term and Dean has said that anyone who serves as chairman should be ruled out as a presidential candidate.

In his letter, Dean made it clear that he remains part of what he calls "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," a phrase he borrowed from the late Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.

"That word — 'values' — has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe," Dean wrote. "But when the political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values."

Read the rest here..................

Dean wrote a letter to his supporters about his decision to run:

As I have traveled across our country, I have talked to thousands of people who are working for change in their own communities about the power of politics to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Every group I have spoken to, I encouraged them to stand up for what they believe and to get involved in the electoral process—because the only sure way to make difference is to step up and run for office yourself.

Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our long term success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by volunteering, going door to door and taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, it alone can no longer win us elections. Offering a new choice means making Democrats the party of reform—reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side?s positions. We must say what we mean—and mean real change when we say it.

Read the rest here................
And they say the media isn't bought and paid for...
Monday 10 January 2005 @ 09:50
An interesting tidbit from David Corn at The Nation:

It was a rare moment of talk-show unanimity. On the set of the Fox News Washington bureau, host Tony Snow, fellow guest Linda Chavez (a conservative pundit), and I were slamming Armstrong Williams, a rightwing columnist and talk show host. USA Today had reported--as you probably know--that Williams had been paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars by the Bush administration to promote its No Child Left Behind education bill. And Williams, who supported the legislation in his column and as a cable news talking head, had not bothered to inform his audiences or the folks who book him at CNN, Fox, and MSNBC that he was a shill on the Bush payroll.


After our segment finished, Chavez and I headed to the green room, and there he was: Armstrong Williams. He was waiting to go on air to defend himself. I've known him a long time; we've often sparred, in friendly fashion, on these shouting-head shows. I shook my head and said, "Armstrong, Armstrong, Armstrong...." He was quick with his main talking point: "It was bad judgment, Dave. Bad judgment." His phone rang. He answered it, said hello, and then told the person on the other end, "It was bad judgment. You know, just bad judgment." I was reminded that in addition to being a pundit, Williams, a leading African-American conservative and Clarence Thomas protege, is a PR specialist with his own firm. Not too long ago, Michael Jackson called him for advice. Now he had himself for a client, and, heeding conventional crisis-management strategy, he was practicing strict message discipline: bad judgment, bad judgment, bad judgment.


And then Williams violated a PR rule: he got off-point. "This happens all the time," he told me. "There are others." Really? I said. Other conservative commentators accept money from the Bush administration? I asked Williams for names. "I'm not going to defend myself that way," he said. The issue right now, he explained, was his own mistake. Well, I said, what if I call you up in a few weeks, after this blows over, and then ask you? No, he said.

Does Williams really know something about other rightwing pundits? Or was he only trying to minimize his own screw-up with a momentary embrace of a trumped-up everybody-does-it defense? I could not tell. But if the IG at the Department of Education or any other official questions Williams, I suggest he or she ask what Williams meant by this comment. And if Williams is really sorry for this act of "bad judgment" and for besmirching the profession of rightwing punditry, shouldn't he do what he can to guarantee that those who watch pundits on the cable news networks and read political columnists receive conservative views that are independent and untainted by payoffs from the Bush administration or other political outfits?

Read the rest here...............
A Thank-You Note from Rep. Conyers
Monday 10 January 2005 @ 05:03 everyone who helped push the Thursday challenge:

Dear Friend:

I want to thank you for the time and energy you have already given to help me in my pursuit of the truth about the 2004 Presidential election, particularly the truth about what happened in Ohio. I also want to let you know what I will be working on in the coming months.

I believe what we achieved on January 6 will be a seminal event in the history of progressive politics, and significantly advance the cause of electoral reform. For this challenge to Ohio’s electors to have occurred, I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the internet activists, who spread the story of my efforts and supported me in every way possible. I am also thankful to the alternative media, including talk radio and blogs that gave substantial attention and investigation to these matters when all but a handful in the mainstream media refused to examine the facts. I cannot thank all of you personally, but you know who you are.

With the exigency of January 6 behind us, I wanted to let you know what I will be doing in the coming months. First, my investigation of Ohio voting irregularities is not over. In an effort to get as much information confirmed and circulated in advance of January 6, many valuable leads still need to be pursued and I pledge to do so. Substantial irregularities have come to light in other states during the course of this investigation and I will also pursue those leads. While there has been powerful opposition to my efforts and personal attacks against me as a result of my efforts, I want to assure you I remain steadfast.

Second, there are other matters involving wrongdoing by Administration officials that I will continue to pursue. Among other things, I will continue to seek answers about the role of senior Bush Administration officials in outing an undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative. I will also continue to examine the sources of the fraudulent case for the Iraq war, which intersects with the outing of this operative.

Third, I intend to develop and introduce legislation in a number of areas. Most importantly, I intend to introduce comprehensive election reform legislation in the coming weeks, and I will fight for its passage at the earliest possible moment. I intend to hold further hearings on this issue. I will also continue to fight the job loss and the loss of retirement security that has so negatively impacted working families in my district, and I will fight the economic policies of this Administration that are the cause of these serious problems. Finally, the Judiciary Committee will also be at the center of the efforts to oversee the U.S.A. Patriot Act and ascertain which, if any, provisions should be renewed. I expect to lead the fight against a number of provisions that I believe compromise our civil liberties.

Again, thank you for all you have done. I look forward to working with you on these and other important matters in the weeks and months ahead.


John Conyers, Jr.
An Interview from Camp Kerry
Monday 10 January 2005 @ 04:23
I spent some time today with Cameron Kerry, the younger brother of Senator John Kerry. A May 04 2004 Boston Herald article on Cam Kerry described him this way: "He doesn't draw screaming headlines or grab face time on the political talk show circuit, but low-key Cameron Kerry has emerged as one of U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry's most powerful and trusted campaign advisers this election season. The senator's younger brother, known as Cam, is playing the same pivotal role that the late Robert F. Kennedy played for his older brother back in 1960: confidant, adviser and powerful inside player. It's a mission that stretches far beyond simple family loyalty and brotherhood...'Cam Kerry is a force in the campaign, make no mistake about that,' said one veteran political strategist with strong ties to Kerry. 'He's at the core of Kerry's inner circle.'"

The interview dealt mostly with the ongoing debate over election reform, but touched as well upon Senator Kerry's recent trip to Iraq.


William Rivers Pitt: What is the impression of the Kerry campaign on the events of last Thursday in Congress, with the Electoral College hearing and the challenge to the certification of the Ohio Electors?

Cameron Kerry: It was something that we welcomed. It put a spotlight on the issues of election reform. We have made some progress on that since 2000, but we still have a long way to go. This election, particularly in Ohio, showed that. I think the action the other day helped to highlight that, as John indicated in his statement. He was very much in sympathy with it, though he was not there in joining it.

Does it surprise you that Senator Boxer was the only Senator to vote against certification?

I think a lot of people are now looking at the issue, and a lot of people stood up and said there are ongoing problems. There were people also looking at it in terms of whether that would change the outcome, whether it would be looking backwards instead of looking forward. What Rep. Tubbs-Jones had to say was basically forward-looking. One of the reasons we need election reform is that what has been done on reform didn't prevent abuses. Despite all of the oversight and a lot of things that were stopped, we don't have the tools and the remedies for this watch.

There are a lot of people who don't understand why Senator Kerry chose not to be in the Senate for the Thursday challenge. A lot of people believe he should have been the one to stand up and be the challenger. There are a lot of political implications here, and I am wondering if you might explain the thinking on this.

I have talked to a number of the Congressional members involved. Many of them feel that it was better without John involved, that it put the focus on the issue and not on him. It took away the Republican argument that this was just about sour grapes. Had John led the protest, we would have heard that a hundred times.

You believe it would have torpedoed the boat before it ever got out of the dock?

I think that's absolutely right. I think this was a moving event that was focused on the issue, and at the end of it, it was forward-looking.

Read the rest here..........
Dear Mr. Gonzales
Monday 10 January 2005 @ 01:21
Dear Mr. Gonzales
By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 10 January 2005

Dear Mr. Gonzales,

You have been rewarded for your unflinching loyalty to George W. Bush with a nomination for Attorney General of the United States. As White House Counsel, you have walked in lockstep with the President. As Attorney General, you will be charged with representing all the people of the United States. Your performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday verified that you will continue to be a yes-man for Bush once you are confirmed.

In the face of interrogation by members of the Committee, you waffled, equivocated, lied, feigned lack of memory, and even remained silent, in the face of the most probing questions. Your refusals to answer prompted Senator Patrick Leahy to say, "Mr. Gonzales, I'd almost think that you'd served in the Senate, you've learned how to filibuster so well."

Even though the Department of Justice retracted the August 2002 torture memo, and replaced it with a new one on the eve of your confirmation hearing, you still refuse to denounce the old memo's narrow and illegal definition of torture. You permitted that definition to remain as government policy for 2 1/2 years, which enabled the torture of countless prisoners in U.S. custody.

You continually evaded inquiries about your responsibility for drafting the now-repudiated memo by portraying yourself as a mere conduit for legal opinions from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. This puzzled Senator Russ Feingold, who said, "If you were my lawyer, I'd sure want to know your opinion about something like that."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told you, "I think we've dramatically undermined the war effort by getting on the slippery slope in terms of playing cute with the law, because it's come back to bite us." Indeed, 12 retired professional military leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces wrote to the Judiciary Committee, expressing "deep concern" about your nomination because detention and interrogation operations which you appeared to have "played a significant role in shaping" have "undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world."

When Senator Graham, an Air Force judge advocate, asked you if you agreed with a professional military lawyer's opinion that the August memo may have put our troops in jeopardy, you were tongue tied. You said nothing for several embarrassing seconds, until Senator Graham suggested you think it over and respond later.

When Senator Richard Durbin asked "Do you believe there are circumstances where other legal restrictions, like the War Crimes Act, would not apply to U.S. personnel?" you again sat mute for several seconds, and then asked to respond later.

It is alarming, Mr. Gonzales, that a lawyer with your pedigree would be stumped into silence by these questions.

Read the rest here.........
La la la la I can't hear you la la la la...
Sunday 09 January 2005 @ 11:16
Here's your Monday morning George update, by way of the Nelson Report:

There is rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information. Our sources say that attempts to brief Bush on various grim realities have been personally rebuffed by the President, who actually says that he does not want to hear “bad news.”

Rather, Bush makes clear that all he wants are progress reports, where they exist, and those facts which seem to support his declared mission in Iraq...building democracy. “That's all he wants to hear about,” we have been told. So “in” are the latest totals on school openings, and “out” are reports from senior US military commanders (and those intelligence experts still on the job) that they see an insurgency becoming increasingly effective, and their projection that “it will just get worse.”

Our sources are firm in that they conclude this “good news only” directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message. way of Air America Radio.

Everything's fine, George. Just fine.

On the Death of a Patriot
Sunday 09 January 2005 @ 03:05
Well I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
Yes I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother standing by
With my brother standing by
I said Brother, you know you know
It’s a long road we’ve been walking on
Brother you know it is you know it is
Such a long road we’ve been walking on

- Alexi Murdoch

His name was Scott, and he lived in Indiana, and he was a little man. Almost nobody beyond his immediate family knew his name. His knee was bad and his back was bad, and his soul was of such a tender quality that this hard world bruised him early and often.

I got to know him on the forums at DemocraticUnderground, a website dedicated to progressive causes and liberal politics. He wrote me a private message one day, telling me his story. His physical disabilities had rendered him incapable of working a traditional job, and this left him despairing for a long time. When he wrote me, he was just coming out from under. He asked me to check the posts he put up, to make sure they were clear and concise. I did so, and saw pretty quickly that he didn’t need my help.

Over the course of the next two years, this little man became a giant within that online community. Posting under the name ‘Khephra,’ he took it upon himself to track the news from as many sources as possible. His disabilities kept him from being able to work, so he made the gathering and disbursing of information his work. He sat in his small office with two tiny televisions going, and tracked the action in the House and Senate while keeping an eye on CNN. He would keep a running thread of information about the doings in Congress for the edification of the members of that online community who could not watch. He scoured the news wires and put up the stories that mattered with immediacy.

Scott was a Dean man from the word ‘Go.’ He called me on the day he joined the Hoosiers for Dean campaign, and the joy and pride in his voice radiated through the telephone. In the rancorous environment of online political debate, during a primary season marked too often by poisonous rhetoric, he was a calm voice of reason and logic. In May 2003, he helped bring Dean to the Jefferson Jackson dinner. Being able to shake the Governor’s hand and spend time with him was, by far and away, the greatest moment of Scott’s life.

A funny thing happened as time went by. Scott, with his bad back and his bad knee and all that rough road behind and ahead of him, became an integral and indispensable part of the alternative online news media. Dozens, and then hundreds, and then thousands, and then tens of thousands of people looked for his work every day to inform themselves, and to pass that information on to others. The information Scott put out was spread far and wide on countless alternative news sites. Behind every good alternative news organization is a person who goes out and does the research, finds the stories, and makes them available to others. That was Scott’s role, and nobody did it better.

Scott passed away on Saturday afternoon. His mother found him in his office, in his chair and before the information nexus he had constructed. The cause of his death has yet to be determined, but his health was never strong. A cowboy dies on his horse, a racer dies in his car, and Scott died at station, doing what he loved to do and what he did best. As wounding as his passing is, it is a comfort to know that he left the world serving so well and so diligently the cause he believed in. May we all be so fortunate.

There may be some who see this as a sad story, who look at Scott and see a man in a bad place, stuck in front of a computer and spending his life piddling around in online forums. I wonder if anyone who sees him that way knows what it is to be totally dedicated to something greater than themselves. Scott was dealt a bad hand in this life, and could have taken the path of total dissolution that so many in similar circumstances have taken. He didn’t. He struggled, and fought, and found ground upon which to stand, and triumphed.

The best memory I take with me of Scott is from September 11, before I became a member of this organization. I was preparing to go teach a journalism class when the horrid news came down. On the forums of DemocraticUnderground, chaos and hysteria were rampant. Scott stepped in and became a calming voice and a source of the information we all so desperately needed. Today, there are thousands of people who know that they were better able to cope with that day because of him. I am one. Today, there are thousands of people who mourn his passing. I am one.

His name was Scott, and he lived in Indiana, and he was a patriot. He will be missed.

Scott (left) with me in 2002
Death squads?
Saturday 08 January 2005 @ 08:02
What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon's latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"-and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are," one senior military officer told Newsweek. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November's operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency-as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time-than in spreading it out.

Now, Newsweek has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek.

Also being debated is which agency within the U.S. government-the Defense department or CIA-would take responsibility for such an operation. Rumsfeld's Pentagon has aggressively sought to build up its own intelligence-gathering and clandestine capability with an operation run by Defense Undersecretary Stephen Cambone. But since the Abu Ghraib interrogations scandal, some military officials are ultra-wary of any operations that could run afoul of the ethics codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That, they argue, is the reason why such covert operations have always been run by the CIA and authorized by a special presidential finding. (In "covert" activity, U.S. personnel operate under cover and the U.S. government will not confirm that it instigated or ordered them into action if they are captured or killed.)

Read the rest here........
The Voting Rights kit
Saturday 08 January 2005 @ 02:10
A lot of people have written me after the Thursday objection and said "Yeah, great, it was good theater, but what do we do now?" Well, some heroes have prepared an answer.

In my article 'Heroes' from yesterday, I highlighted the excellent work of Tim Carpenter, Kevin Spidel and the organization Progressive Democrats of America.

They have prepared a Voting Rights Kit that has everything you'll need to carry this struggle forward at the grassroots level. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read it, and if you don't have it, a free version can be downloaded here. Do it. You need to read this, put it to use, and pass it along.
Bad tidings (again) in Iraq
Saturday 08 January 2005 @ 02:04
The Associated Press has published a depressing and disturbing article on what American troops are coping with in Iraq. It reads in part:

The strain of fighting a counter-insurgency war in Iraq, on a scale not foreseen even a year ago and with no end in sight, is taking a startling toll on the American military.

The U.S. death count is rising at least 1,350 in all, rising by 70 or more each month.

Costs are escalating more than $1 billion a week, with the total now exceeding $100 billion.

And while Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a chief architect of the war, remains focused on his exit strategy training Iraqis to provide their own defense, enabling U.S. troops to begin leaving even he has recently used the term ''bleak'' to describe the situation.

Rumsfeld says he remains convinced that the only way out is to exercise patience and fortitude while a reliable Iraqi security force is developed. And U.S. military commanders in Iraq make almost daily pronouncements of optimism that the tide is beginning to turn against the insurgents.

Indeed, the Iraqi security forces are growing, in numbers at least, and U.S. forces continue to kill and capture insurgents, uncover and destroy arms caches and support the country's rebuilding. The administration hopes the Jan. 30 elections will mark a turning point for the better.

Yet, the Pentagon is so strapped to sustain a force of 150,000 troops in Iraq that some senior Army leaders are worried that the war combined with the conflict in Afghanistan is wearing out their soldiers.

Read the rest here........

Joe Galloway, probably the most respected war correspondent alive today, has weighed in with his own opinion about what is happening in Iraq. He writes:

Why can't we win? Because we charged in with false premises and bogus assumptions. Because for every insurgent we kill, two or three more join the cause. Because even our advertised victories - like Fallujah, where we apparently had to destroy the city in order to save it, or Samarra or Ramadi - only turned the entire Sunni population against the United States and its Iraqi allies.

And in the end, election or no, there is nothing we can do to produce an Iraqi government that will be considered legitimate by the entire population. The Sunnis hate the interim government as an American creation.

They will hate any elected government dominated by the Shiite majority. They and a growing number of Shiites will hate us because we are there, because we are an occupying army.

If we learned nothing else from the bitter history of Vietnam it should be that there are places and people who won't accept change and won't quit fighting until even the most powerful nation and army in the world wearies of the killing and dying.

The fallout from staying the course will be thousands more American soldiers killed and wounded, an Army so broken that repairs and reconstruction could take a decade or more and a federal budget deficit staggering under the costs of this war.

Consider these stories published this week:

- Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, commander of the U.S. Army's 200,000 Reserve soldiers, tells his boss, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, that the Reserves are "rapidly degenerating into a broken force." The cause: The war in Iraq and dysfunctional Pentagon and congressional policies. (Baltimore Sun, Jan. 5)

- U.S. casualties as of this week: 1,340 killed in action, 10,252 wounded in action and an estimated 12,000 ill or injured. More than half the wounded Americans are hurt so badly they are not able to return to duty.

- The Bush administration is preparing to send to Congress a supplemental request for as much as $100 billion to cover unbudgeted costs of the Iraq war this year. That will bring the total cost to American taxpayers of this war to an estimated $230 billion. That against an original Bush administration estimate of total costs of $50 billion to $60 billion.

- Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has signed off on a Pentagon document proposing $30 billion in cuts in once untouchable Air Force and Navy weapons projects to help pay for Iraq and help reduce the overall budget deficit.

- Gen. Muhammad Abdullah Shahwani, director of the Iraq government's new intelligence service, told The Times of London that he estimates there are more than 200,000 insurgents and active supporters opposing American, coalition and government forces in Iraq. "I think the resistance is bigger than the U.S. military in Iraq," Shahwani said.

Perhaps the only good things to emerge from this misbegotten war will be an end to our infatuation with high-tech weaponry and our willingness to continue paying for "new" fighter planes and nuclear submarines designed for the Cold War.

It would also be good if it rekindles a new appreciation for boots on the ground to win our wars, an end to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's fixation with the kind of transformation that revolves around PowerPoint presentations focused on faster, lighter, cheaper.

As we approach the second anniversary of our invasion of Iraq we need to be discussing and debating what we are gaining, if anything, from this war and what we are losing.

Read the rest here........
Turkeygate and Snohomish County
Saturday 08 January 2005 @ 11:47
If you have been following the recent buzz on the right-wing blogs, you've caught a whiff of 'Turkeygate.' To wit, Rep. Conyers has been accused of taking turkeys meant for poor families and giving them to friends. The Detroit Free Press has run a story saying, basically, that this whole issue is bunk.

But you have to wonder why the Detroit Free Press has run three stories in three days about this turkey thing, and none about Conyers' work on the Ohio election and the challenge. If you want to ask them why, here are two places to do it:


Reporter Joel Thurtell:

A report has been published about election irregularities in Snohomish County, Washington. To read it, click here. You need Adobe to get the document. Some pertinent sections from the Executive Summary:

Counties such as Snohomish County Washington that run parallel voting technologies on Election day over the same precincts and the same races are useful for isolating any effect voting technology may have on patterns of voting.

• Because of the parallel voting technologies present and because of a historically close gubernatorial race between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi that was subject to an unprecedented hand recount (as well as good recordkeeping and reporting of paper and touch screen voting results on a precinct by precinct basis) Snohomish County was an excellent place to study the 2004 election.

• Touch screen systems, controversial for their proprietary counting software that can not be verified, claim as a positive “product feature” the reduction or elimination of undervotes, or persons not voting for any candidate in a race.

• Evidence from New Mexico suggests that undervoting, at least in heavily minority districts, was very high, an average of four times higher than national averages with undervoting for President exceeding 9% in many minority precincts.

• This strongly suggests that either electronic machines do not actually reduce undervoting substantially, or else something is wrong with the machines in New Mexico, or both.

• Undervoting rates in Snohomish County were quite low, but numerous persons reported that touch screens would appear pre-voted, or else would select the Republican box when the Democratic candidate’s box was pressed either with a finger or the stylus provided. Problems of switched voting or machines freezing up appeared in over 50 polling locations out of approximately 148 total.

• Statistical analysis shows high correlations between reported voting irregularities and high Republican voting results.

• Statistical analysis of machines that recently had their CPUs repaired shows a propensity for Republican voting that is present but weak on the individual level but strong at the polling location where the machines were placed.

• Sequoia touch screens are required to have their power cords daisy chained, forming a de facto network that third parties can use to tap into the machines or have the machines communicate among each other.

• Snohomish county had the highest election day increase in vote for Republican governor candidate Dino Rossi relative to absentee voters, while other nearby counties had either smaller increases or election day actually favored the Democrat Christine Gregoire.

• Election day voting in Snohomish County is not like paper voting for Republicans and Democrats which forms a bell curve with noise, but instead forms a smooth twin peak curve, suggesting different mechanisms acted on the electronic voterelative to the paper vote.

Read the rest here........
Saturday 08 January 2005 @ 11:16

A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsumani waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the Port city of Mombasa, officials said today.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms, was swept down Sabaki river into the Indian ocean, then forced back to shore when tsumani struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before rangers rescued him.

‘‘It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,’’ ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in-charge of Lafarge park, told AFP.

‘‘After it was swept away and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatised. It had to look for a surrogate mother. It landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together... The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, then it becomes aggressive,’’ she said.

Story here.....
Favorable press
Friday 07 January 2005 @ 06:02
The editors at the San Francisco Chronical have published an excellent piece on yesterday's challenge. It is titled 'The Ohio objection' and reads in part:

CREDIT Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., for standing up for the principle that "every vote counts." She had to know her willingness to challenge Ohio's electoral votes would be mocked and mischaracterized by Republicans -- and it was.

It hardly mattered how many times she and a few other determined Democrats emphasized that they were not contesting the outcome of the 2004 presidential election. What they wanted to highlight -- through the debate they forced Thursday -- were myriad flaws in the process of the Ohio vote.

Many Republicans in the House and Senate scoffed at the challenge as the work of sore losers tilting at conspiracy theories.

But the problems in Ohio were real and they were disproportionately weighted against Sen. John Kerry, even if there is no convincing evidence that it cost him the election.

Read the rest and pass it on.

Another bit to read and spread is the statement delivered by Dennis Kucinich during yesterday's hearings:

Let us not denigrate factual concerns about the Ohio election by dismissing them as simply partisan. This is not about Democrat or Republican votes. It is not about red or blue or black or white. It is not about wrong and right. It is not about winners or losers. It is about protecting voting rights in our democracy against corruption.

Let us review just one of the very serious concerns with the Ohio election. Voting machines were misallocated causing some voters to stand in line for 10 hours. That denies voters equal protection of the law. In the states’ capitol, a shortage of machines in predominately African American communities was created. Even though the Secretary of State knew far in advance that 102,000 voters were registered in that county alone. The misallocation of machines was estimate to have denied at least 15,000 people the opportunity to vote.

Furthermore the Secretary of State, who, under Ohio law has a constitutional duty to ensure election laws are upheld, failed to issue guidelines under the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) for two years. Contrary to the spirit of HAVA (which is to encourage voting and to have every vote count), Ohio’s top election official conducted the activities of his office in a most partisan manner, undermining public trust in the election. He sharply restricted the ability of voters to use provisional ballots. He endeavored to make it more difficult for lower income people, who are more likely to move, to vote.

We know who won the election. But what the American people do not know is the extend to which voting irregularities in the State of Ohio deprived tens of thousands of my fellow citizens of their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law and their constitutionally protected right to vote.

From the 'I just threw up a little bit' files...
Friday 07 January 2005 @ 05:18
First posted on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

"Get some devastation in the back."

- Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), quoted by the AP, to a staff photographer taking a picture of him before leaving tsunami-stricken southern Sri Lanka.

Friday 07 January 2005 @ 04:34
As one of the journalists privileged to be able to report on the events which culminated in Thursday’s challenge to the Ohio Electors, I have had the chance to meet and observe a whole crowd of remarkable people. They deserve to be recognized.

Please read this essay I have written about the people I have met, and pass it on to friends. These people have earned a large thank-you.
Friday 07 January 2005 @ 01:32
Rather than listen to me natter on this afternoon, you might be interested in reading some responses I received regarding yesterday's events in Congress.


Yes, I will send a big THANKS for NOTHING BARBARA right away. She did not get a SINGLE senator to speak out in objection to the count, and almost every single senator that stood up during the debate started out with "this is not about overturning an election" or something like that! What in the heck did we accomplish? NOTHING. On top of that, I saw Cheney and Tubbs laughing and shaking hands after the debates! Right on TV! Ya, we got a LOT done, didn't we - Henry

Henry, I think a fair amount of good was accomplished yesterday. A discussion on what went wrong with the election in Ohio reached a national stage for the first time. As a media watcher, I can tell you that little or nothing of the Ohio story was out in the mainstream until yesterday. Also, for the first time in a long time, the progressive movement was able to focus their fire and get the Senate and House members to speak with the voices of the movement. That was big.

Not to be blunt, but anyone who thought the election results were going to get overturned yesterday was living in fantasy land. In case you missed the article I wrote just before the hearings, here is the pertinent text on this matter:

"The process itself, barring another edict from Ararat, precludes the notion that someone besides Bush will take the oath on January 20th. If Conyers and company stand and object with the support of a Senator, the Electoral College hearing will adjourn, and both the House and Senate will hear two hours of testimony on the reasons behind the objection. After the testimony, the House and Senate will have a straight up-or-down vote on whether to entertain the objection. Given the GOP dominance in both chambers, the outcome of such a vote is preordained. Even if, by some miracle, both chambers vote to uphold the objections based on the merits of the testimony, and Ohio's 20 votes are removed from the Electoral College count, the waters beyond are muddy. The constitution is vague as to whether the 270 Electoral College threshold is an absolute, or whether the candidate with the most Electoral College votes is to be declared the winner, regardless of whether or not that 270-vote line is crossed. Bush would still lead Kerry 266 to 252 if Ohio were subtracted, and in all likelihood, would carry the day with that lead."


My question is--referring to what happened today in Congress with the Ohio Voter Disenfranchisement, where the hell do we (liberals, Democrats, and other concerned citizens) go from here? How can we ever get this country back to its center again as long as the vitriolic, completely-unwilling-to-be-cooperative, smug, arrogant, ranks-closing Repos are "in power"? I saw NOTHING today with the hearings that gave me even a glimmer of hope that they (the Repos) could/would be able or willing to "reach across the aisle" and put their partisanship aside. - Barbara

You're right about what you saw. In a debate about the effectiveness of the vote in America, those bringing these concerns to the fore were accused of 'aiding terrorism' and 'betraying the troops,' among other things. These people cannot be reasoned with, but only defeated. As for the how, stay tuned. A lot of smart people are meeting over the next few days to come up with an answer to your question.


I just watched our heros standing up for democracy on C-Span. It was a hopeful moment, but the mean-spirited republicans made me feel so angry, I could feel my blood boiling, I just wanted to jump through the screen. If only our "mainstream" media would carry these hearings, millions of people would see the true character of the creeps they voted for. I truly believe that we will make a difference, now that Sen. Boxer helped make these hearings happen, but getting rid of the pre-programmed, rigged voting machines would be a great start. - Linda

This is the C-SPAN video coverage of the debate yesterday. Share it around.


"Today was a good day" was how you summed it up on your blog. Maybe. Or was it a good day to die? Maybe it because I read your account in reverse chronological order that that phrase reminds me of the Souix (I think Souix) battle yell. "Hoka Hey!" Screaming this before one went into battle meant the warrior would give it his all, with no regard for his own safety. Losing your life was a small price to pay go down fighting. To these warriors, their lives mattered less than the ordinary tribe members who supported them in their honored positions, and backed their quests for glory. Times and cultures change, yet as each lock-stepping, goose-stepping Republican rose to assert the FALSE CLAIM that the Objection was an election challenge, it was clear that Democratics in this Congress have NOTHING to lose. My heart is broken. Why only 32 heroes today? Where were the warriors for the American voter? I suppose I will be asked to "understand" the politically expedient choice of so many Democrats to vote to certify the election. They MAY earn my trust if they DELIVER (to use the Blackwell's term) genuine national election reform. As for Senator Boxer and the 31 House members, they are my heroes, and I will not let them fall. - Heather

A worthy sentiment.


This morning when I woke I immediately jumped to truthout and your FYI section to see what had happened. When I learned of Boxer's actions I nearly jumped through the roof in triumph. However, this evening while listening to Air America Radio it appeared as if the Democratic party had failed again. The program was making this appear to be another opportunity for the Republicans to simply sweep our issue under the carpet and to never visit it again. My understanding was that we were not expecting to get a victory here. The only intent was to address the issue so that it would obligate all politicians to investigate the matter and come up with alternative plans for future elections. Do I have the basic idea or am I off? Furthermore, will there be further inquiries into the Ohio case and perhaps holding Blackwell accountable for is actions? - Mike

No, you got the idea. Victory here wasn't rolling the election results, but getting a forum to discuss the necessary reforms. As for further inquiries, Rep. Conyers is pushing for a joint bipartisan commission to get these reforms rolling, but given the attitude of the GOP House Reps yesterday, I am not sanguine. However, it must be pushed. It is solid political ground to stand and say "I am for protecting your right to vote." How does someone argue against that?


This was a good day: perhaps most of all because Republicans were not allowed to run over the concerns of voters. Over and over we have seen Republicans realign the boundries and topics of discussion so that they control the retoric and their preconceived outcome. Democratics have been denigrated and assaulted for lack of "moral values" (as defined by Republicans). Republicans were left floundering today because they were unable to change the topic under discussion. What could be more moral than defending the rights of voters to have their votes count! May American citizens have more good days. - Katherine

Well said.


More to come later. Thanks to everyone who wrote in.
Leaving DC
Friday 07 January 2005 @ 08:31
I will be back where I belong roundabout 1pm today. In the meantime, think about dropping Senator Boxer a thank-you note, along with Conyers, Cobb, Badnarik and everyone else who put the work in to make yesterday happen.
Today was a good day
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 06:05
I can't recall a day in the last several years when the efforts of citizens yielded fruit in the Senate. Didn't work with the Patriot Act vote. Didn't work with the Homeland Security Act vote. Sure as hell didn't work with the Iraq war vote.

It worked today. Voices were heard, and something we haven't seen since 1877 took place today. This is what Congress exists for, and for once, they responded.

The rest is up to the same people who got this ball rolling. Today was a beginning, an introduction into the national dialogue of the fact that lots and lots and lots and lots of Americans get jobbed out of their right to vote every election.

We can fix that. We should fix that. Today, the task was well begun.
List of House members who voted 'Yea'
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 06:02
Revised down to 31:

Brown, Corrine
Davis (IL)
Hastings (FL)
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson, E. B.
Jones (OH)
Kilpatrick (MI)
Lewis (GA)
Thompson (MS)
I interviewed Rep. Conyers just before the hearings
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 05:00
PITT: How are you feeling about what is happening today?

CONYERS: We have come a mighty long way. It seems to me, as we began this adventure, to make the ballot as important as it is, and that it be counted, and that it be available to every single qualified American voter, that I had always suspected that it would be hard for the United States Senate to do, again, what they did in 2000. To close down any possibility of any debate, of any investigation, of any recount, and it turns out that my hunch was correct.

The fact of the matter is that we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by doing this. This isn't like there is a down-side to this. It is all up, because as everybody knows, all the phones are jammed, emails are coming in, faxes. People are coming in from all over. This is a test of American democracy, just as in 1878. They passed the law to deal with the presidential election of 1877. We have to, in 2005, pass some more election reform laws to deal with what happened in 2004.

Read the rest here.......
Now it's 32
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 04:31
33 votes in the House
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 04:04
to support the objection.

I interviewed Rep. Conyers just before the hearing. I will have the transcript up as soon as I can.
Here comes the House vote
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 03:51
Republicans have trouble pushing buttons, it seems. Two times a vote to uphold the challenge came from the GOP side, and then got switched back after they realized they pushed the wrong button.

There is a GOP vote to uphold the challenge now, and it appears to be sticking.

Nope. Gone now. Learn to push buttons, folks.
Oh, here we go
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 03:45
Mr. I-don't-need-ethics-rules-in-my-face DeLay is up pretending to have any kind of moral standing on anything.

Lying his face off. Bush engineered electronic vote fraud, DeLay says is one theory.

I feel another terrorism quip coming. Yup, there it is.

No voter disenfranchisement in 2000 and 2004, saith DeLay. Everyone knows this.

This guy is a wonder of nature.
The House goes on
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 03:37
I have a feeling that the House vote will be a bit more satisfying to the Democratic base than the Senate vote.
Lock step
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 03:11
It took an incredible amount of effort to get several Democrats to get up and say basically the same thing in support of each other. It was a war to get that done.

The GOP sticks to their message with ease, almost automatically, preternatuarally.

That's a trick the Democrats need to learn.

The vote in the Senate is 74-1. The motion is not approved.
The debate continues in the House
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 03:05
Jackson-Lee blows the doors off, and the GOP Reps. march out accusing Democrats of aiding terrorists...and then complain about bitterness and partisanship.
Boxer votes 'Aye'
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 02:52
GOP Rep. Drier in the House says the people questioning the Ohio vote are aiding terrorists.

Lott is trying to shut it down
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 02:42
"Hopes it does not have a lasting impact."

"Merits no further response."

The roll is being called. Here come the votes. Boxer votes 'aye' and the gallery erupts in applause.
Voinovich (R-OH) is up
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 02:37
defending the vote in his state. Bunch of Ohioans in the gallery started bellowing and had to be removed.

Voinovich, like DeWine, is using editorials to prove there were no problems in Ohio. Dizzyingly hilarious.
Text of Boxer's statement today
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 02:33
Statement On Her Objection To The Certification Of Ohio’s Electoral Votes

January 6, 2005

For most of us in the Senate and the House, we have spent our lives fighting for things we believe in – always fighting to make our nation better.

We have fought for social justice. We have fought for economic justice. We have fought for environmental justice. We have fought for criminal justice.

Now we must add a new fight – the fight for electoral justice.

Every citizen of this country who is registered to vote should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth of their community, their vote has as much weight as the vote of any Senator, any Congressperson, any President, any cabinet member, or any CEO of any Fortune 500 Corporation.

I am sure that every one of my colleagues – Democrat, Republican, and Independent – agrees with that statement. That in the voting booth, every one is equal.

So now it seems to me that under the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the right to vote, we must ask:

Why did voters in Ohio wait hours in the rain to vote? Why were voters at Kenyan College, for example, made to wait in line until nearly 4 a.m. to vote because there were only two machines for 1300 voters?

Why did poor and predominantly African-American communities have disproportionately long waits?

Why in Franklin County did election officials only use 2,798 machines when they said they needed 5,000? Why did they hold back 68 machines in warehouses? Why were 42 of those machines in predominantly African-American districts?

Why did, in Columbus area alone, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places, out of frustration, without having voted? How many more never bothered to vote after they heard about this?

Why is it when 638 people voted at a precinct in Franklin County, a voting machine awarded 4,258 extra votes to George Bush. Thankfully, they fixed it – but how many other votes did the computers get wrong?

Why did Franklin County officials reduce the number of electronic voting machines in downtown precincts, while adding them in the suburbs? This also led to long lines.

In Cleveland, why were there thousands of provisional ballots disqualified after poll workers gave faulty instructions to voters?

Because of this, and voting irregularities in so many other places, I am joining with Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones to cast the light of truth on a flawed system which must be fixed now.

Our democracy is the centerpiece of who we are as a nation. And it is the fondest hope of all Americans that we can help bring democracy to every corner of the world.

As we try to do that, and as we are shedding the blood of our military to this end, we must realize that we lose so much credibility when our own electoral system needs so much improvement.

Yet, in the past four years, this Congress has not done everything it should to give confidence to all of our people their votes matter.

After passing the Help America Vote Act, nothing more was done.

A year ago, Senators Graham, Clinton and I introduced legislation that would have required that electronic voting systems provide a paper record to verify a vote.
That paper trail would be stored in a secure ballot box and invaluable in case of a recount.

There is no reason why the Senate should not have taken up and passed that bill. At the very least, a hearing should have been held. But it never happened.

Before I close, I want to thank my colleague from the House, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Her letter to me asking for my intervention was substantive and compelling.

As I wrote to her, I was particularly moved by her point that it is virtually impossible to get official House consideration of the whole issue of election reform, including these irregularities.

The Congresswoman has tremendous respect in her state of Ohio, which is at the center of this fight.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a judge for 10 years. She was a prosecutor for 8 years. She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

I am proud to stand with her in filing this objection.
Barack Obama is up
Thursday 06 January 2005 @ 02:26
and giving his first-ever speech to the Senate in support of Boxer and Tubbs-Jones.

Hot damn.

Tells a touching story of a supporter who was concerned about her right to vote. Obama does not doubt that Bush won. We are not challenging the outcome of the election.

Demands reform in the election system.