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Sunday, September 10, 2006  

Eschaton

posted by RJ | Link | 10:59 AM


Friday, January 16, 2004  

ABCNEWS.com : White House Missed Chance to Kill Osama: "Missed Opportunity
Officials: Bush Administration Was Slow to Approve Drones to Kill Bin Laden

By Ted Bridis and John Solomon
The Associated Press


W A S H I N G T O N, June 24? When President Bush took office in January 2001, the White House was told that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times and officials were urged to arm the unmanned planes with missiles to kill the al Qaeda leader.


But the administration failed to get drones back into the Afghan skies until after the Sept. 11 attacks later that year, current and former U.S. officials say."

posted by RJ | Link | 9:23 AM


Sunday, September 21, 2003  

Country for Sale

Economic Overhaul for Iraq : "The new policy, enacted on Saturday by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, allows foreign firms to enter and potentially dominate key elements of the economy, from banking to manufacturing, that had been off-limits to outside ownership. Although the sale of businesses to foreigners could prove controversial in this fiercely nationalistic country, U.S. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said the plan offered a 'real promise' of economic revival in Iraq, which is struggling to cope with rampant unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and unproductive state-run industries."

That didn't take long. Apparently everything is up for sale except the state run oil industry. Wow. Is it just me, or does this seem a bit premature given that the U.S. is still running the country? Shouldn't they have, like, elected officials and laws in place before they (as in the Iraqi's, not us) decide to sell off the entire country (or not?). Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't the American people resent it if a foreign government came in and decided to basically sell off our country to a huge assortment of non-American companies? Democracy apparently lost out to the concept of "free markets - American style."

posted by RJ | Link | 8:12 PM
 

Deja' vue all over again

Bush Open To U.N. Oversight of Iraq Election: "President Bush said yesterday that he is prepared to allow the United Nations to oversee the first postwar election in Iraq, a limited concession to demands that he give the world body a more vigorous role in rebuilding the country.

Bush made the offer as he prepared to address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, when he plans to challenge reluctant allies to show the relevance of the world body by increasing international financial and military support for Iraq."

Why is the U.N. only deemed "relevant" to the Bushies if the U.N. is towing the Bush party line? Surely this kind of thing is as offensive to the U.N. as the continual conservative cry that opposing Bush is unpatriotic is to Americans. If the goal is to secure aid for Iraq in order to ease the burden on the U.S. it's difficult to see how these kind of statements will further our efforts.

posted by RJ | Link | 7:56 PM


Saturday, September 20, 2003  

Can I get some fries with that?

We've seen lots of "news" stories about the $87 billion dollars Bush is requesting for Iraq. We know that 66% of the public says nope, they aren't at all happy with the big, unexpected bill. Yet it's widely assumed that Congress will ultimately approve the request anyway. Can't screw over the boys in battle - Congress really has no choice but to approve it.

Meanwhile, the press reports on what we could've gotten for our money instead. (Not that we would have spent it on any of that stuff - after all the republicans are in charge of everything).

Then we have Bush, who seems concerned that he's "having trouble getting the message out," I guess because only 36% of us broke out into a rousing chorus of "I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free" upon hearing the cost. Others, in the same article, expend oxygen we'll never get back explaining why the speech didn't bump up his poll numbers (as if in some strange universe, it should have).

Lost in the flurry of the obvious and inane is the fact that one of the main reasons the appropriations request is so large is that the Bushies are undoubtly hoping the money will last for 14 months -- until the presidential election is over. Let's do the math.... [4 billion/mth x 14] + $20 billion for all the reconstruction we can do in a year = $76 billion, plus an $11 billion dollar fudge factor (or the graf built in to transfer money from the U.S. treasury to Halliburton) = $87 billion dollars.

Indeed, the memory hole of the American public is a huge bottomless pit and something dropped down into it a year before the election is likely to be long forgotten by the voters before they head to the polls in '04. Now if they could just do something about all the dead soldiers and the huge budget deficits.

posted by RJ | Link | 12:00 PM


Friday, September 19, 2003  

Why We Fight

Big lie on Iraq comes full circle: ''War on terror'' is a metaphor. It is not an actual war, like the World War or the Vietnamese or Korean wars. It is rather a struggle against fanatical Islamic terrorists, exacerbated if not caused by the conflict in Palestine. When one turns a metaphor into a national policy, one not only misunderstands what is going on, one begins to slide toward the big lie. One invades Iraq because one needed a war."

That's the real reason. But not one, of course, that the Bushies were willing to make a case for.

posted by RJ | Link | 7:27 AM
 

So-called liberal media strikes again!

Natasha over Pacific Views brings us a description of John Edwards by a CNN reporter:

"The millionaire trial lawyer promised to [fight for the working class.]"

And then give us a few examples of what we might hear IF the Bush / Cheney team got the same treatment from the press:

The two former energy company executives promise to respect the environment.

The ticket, with three drunk driving arrests between them, promises to encourage a culture of personal responsibility.

The veteran of several failed companies promises to bring the best traditions of the business world into the Oval Office.

The man who called a reporter an ***hole on mic promises to end the climate of bipartisan rancor in our nation's capital.

The former governor who mocked a woman on her way to be executed promises to serve as a compassionate conservative.

This wealthy son of a wealthy family claims direct knowledge of the concerns of those who have a hard time feeding their children."

How right you are, Natasha!

posted by RJ | Link | 6:33 AM


Wednesday, September 17, 2003  

Oh just impeach him already...

Barely a day goes by lately that Bush or one of his cronies doesn't come out with a big, steaming, stinking to high heaven lie. Today, Bush was finally able to bring himself to admit that Iraq was not actually linked to 9/11, after implying otherwise for the better part of a year, yet he couldn't seem to help himself from recycling another oft repeated fabrication - the supposed link between Iraq and Al Qaida.

From the transcript today:

Q Mr. President, Dr. Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld both said yesterday that they have seen no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with September 11th. Yet, on Meet the Press, Sunday, the Vice President said Iraq was a geographic base for the terrorists and he also said, I don't know, or we don't know, when asked if there was any involvement. Your critics say that this is some effort -- deliberate effort to blur the line and confuse people. How would you answer that?

THE PRESIDENT: We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. What the Vice President said was, is that he has been involved with al Qaida. And al Zarqawi, al Qaida operative, was in Baghdad. He's the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. He's a man who is still running loose, involved with the poisons network, involved with Ansar al-Islam. There's no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaida ties.

Sorry, Mr. President, but there is most definitely a "question" about that assertion. In fact, no one seems to really believe it but you. Not your CIA, not your allies (including Great Britain), no one.

Exhibit A:


Guardian | CIA had doubts on Iraq link to al-Qaida:"The debunking of the Bush administration's pre-war certainties on Iraq gathered pace yesterday when it emerged that the CIA knew for months that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was highly unlikely.

As President George Bush was forced for the second time in days to defend the decision to go to war, a new set of leaks from CIA officials suggested a tendency in the White House to suppress or ignore intelligence findings which did not shore up the case for war.

The interrogation reports of two senior al-Qaida members, both in US custody, showed that the CIA had reason to doubt the allegations of a connection between Saddam's regime and the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon."

Exhibit B:

Report Cast Doubt on Iraq-Al Qaida Connection : "The president said some al Qaida leaders had fled Afghanistan to Iraq and referred to one 'very senior al Qaida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year.' It was a reference to Abu Mussab Zarqawi, a Jordanian. U.S. Intelligence already had concluded that Zarqawi was not an al Qaida member but the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al Qaida adherents, the sources said.

As for Bush's claim that Iraq had trained al Qaida members in bomb-making and use of poisons and deadly gases, sources with knowledge of the classified intelligence estimate said the reports conclusion was that this had not been satisfactorily confirmed.

'We've learned,' Bush said in his speech, 'that Iraq has trained al Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.' But the president did not mention that when national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had referred the previous month to such training, she had said the source was al Qaida captives."

Exhibit C:

Allies Find No Links Between Iraq, Al Qaida: "Of all the intelligence services in the world, British agencies probably work the closest with U.S. spies. The sharing of sensitive information appeared evident in a British government dossier in September that laid out charges about Hussein's program to develop weapons of mass destruction. The report closely resembled Washington's accounts of Iraq's arsenal.

The British have been much quieter when it comes to any alliance between Iraq and Al Qaida, however. Asked about the matter Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw sounded diplomatic.

'It could well be the case that there were links, active links, between Al Qaida and the Iraqi regime before Sept. 11,' Straw said. 'What I'm asked is if I've seen any evidence of that. And the answer is: I haven't."


Zarqawi is arguably connected to Al Qaida through Ansar al-Islam, but unfortunately for Bush, no evidence has ever surfaced to show a connection between Ansar al-Islam and Saddam. In fact all evidence seems to point to the contrary. They were reported to be mortal enemies of one another. Perhaps that is why Ansar al-Islam made its home in the north, in Kurdish controlled territory:

U.S. scours for Saddam-al-Qaida link:"Proving a link between Saddam and Islamists in a region not controlled by the Iraqi leader will be difficult for the Bush administration. Iraq's Kurdish minority has controlled the north for a decade, though Saddam's intelligence agents regularly pass back and forth, according to Kurdish officials. "

So what we have is Bush making a claim that has been thoroughly debunked, for which he never had any evidence in the first place. Which begs a very important question:

Is this really the standard of information the Bushies feel is acceptable to carry out their doctrine of preemptive war?

Here's an even scarier thought. If a despotic dictator like Saddam Hussein is telling the truth here, and Bush is lying, what in Jeebus' name does that say about Bush?

BBC report:"Saddam Hussein himself denied on Tuesday having any weapons of mass destruction. He told Mr Benn in the interview broadcast by Channel 4 News: 'These weapons do not come in small pills that you can hide in your pocket.

'These are weapons of mass destruction and it is easy to work out if Iraq has them or not.' Denying any connection with aQaidada, he said: 'If we had a relationship with aQaidada and we believed in that relationship, we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it."

Update: MSNBC has already decided to provide Bush with yet another pass on a huge lie. To read this article reporting Bush's statement today you would never know the Al Qaida link had ever been (and in fact still is) in dispute.

posted by RJ | Link | 3:24 PM
 

DNC gets its blog on...

Check out the new DNC blog, DNC: Kicking Ass. You know, not too long ago I sent them a check and on the memo line I put "kick some ass, please!" Clearly, they have stolen the name of the blog from my plea. I'm 47% sure of it. Anyway, check it out - great stuff so far from what I can tell.

posted by RJ | Link | 1:28 PM


Tuesday, September 16, 2003  

Stealing Democracy

Stuck in traffic in Seattle again, so what do I do? Turn on Rush Limbaugh, have a laugh, get the gist, and then speed scan down the dial to listen to two or three other right wing whackos, 3 minutes at a time. I just know they will be busting blood vessels over the 9th circuit court's decision to postpone the California recall election until state approved machines are in place in all counties. Maybe I'll get lucky and catch one of them having an aneurysm right on the air.

Rush is talking about the vast left wing conspiracy to destroy democracy in America, as if making sure that every vote counts is against everything this country stands for. The others are using the Ann Coulter method of argument -- citing absurd statistics in one breath, and then reputable institutions in another (MIT, Cal Tech), without ever informing their audience that the later is not actually the reference for the former.

Naturally, the strawman arguments abound among all of them. What democrats are actually saying, they tell us, is that the poor and the minorities are too stupid to fill out their ballots correctly. (No, what we're actually saying is that elections have become too close to using voting machines that have a 2% margin of error. That would seem fairly obvious given the increasing number of electoral contests decided by one percent or less). But never mind the facts. Their callers buzz the lines with hearty agreement. All in all it's a master rendition of the "hey, look over there..." style of political gamesmanship. Because here is what's really happening...

Gaffe casts doubts on electronic voting: "The strange case of an election tally that appears to have popped up on the Internet hours before polls closed is casting new doubts about the trustworthiness of electronic voting machines.

During San Luis Obispo County's March 2002 primary, absentee vote tallies were apparently sent to an Internet site operated by Diebold Election Systems Inc., the maker of the voting machines used in the election. At least that's what timestamps on digital records showed."

Just a mistake -- a gaffe, as it were.

Or not.

Democrats want election machine firm thrown out: Democratic leaders want a major Republican fund-raiser blocked from becoming the state's new voting machines supplier, saying his presence puts in doubt the fairness of all Ohio elections.

Wally O'Dell, CEO of Diebold Inc., this week sent out letters to central Ohio Republicans asking them to raise $10,000 in donations in time for a Sept. 26 Ohio Republican Party event at his home.

His company, which specializes in security and election machinery, is one of three under consideration to supply new, electronic voting machines to replace punch card machines still in use in 71 Ohio counties.

[...]

In his invitation O'Dell states his support for the Republican Party and notes he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year."

But hey, we're dems... we're tolerant, and it's a free country. Why shouldn't a political activist for the republican party be the one to supply the voting machines - even if they are machines we know can be easily tampered with? No reason not to give them the benefit of the doubt. Right? Sure wish Wally was a dem though, don't you? Yeah.

Anyway, it's not like republican politicians run the companies that are providing the machines. Now that would be bad. Right? Oops....

Hagel's ethics filings pose disclosure issue: "One underlying issue is whether Hagel properly disclosed his financial ties to Election Systems & Software (ES&S), a company that makes nearly half the voting machines used in the United States, including all those used in his native Nebraska.

ES&S is a subsidiary of McCarthy Group Inc., which is jointly held by the holding firm and the Omaha World-Herald Co., which publishes the state's largest newspaper. The voting machine company makes sophisticated optical scan and touch-screen vote-counting devices that many states have begun buying in recent years.

An official at Nebraska's Election Administration estimated that ES&S machines tallied 85 percent of the votes cast in Hagel's 2002 and 1996 election races.

In 1996, ES&S operated as American Information Systems Inc. (AIS). The company became ES&S after merging with Business Records Corp. in 1997.

In a disclosure form filed in 1996, covering the previous year, Hagel, then a Senate candidate, did not report that he was still chairman of AIS for the first 10 weeks of the year, as he was required to do."

This doesn't bother me at all either. I'm sure Sonny Perdue is as honest as a republican gets.

Forget about the debacle in Florida in 2000. Forget about the republican financed recall in California. Forget about the precedent setting redisticting being done in Texas. Let's play Colmes to the republican's Hannity, and agree that republicans are not assaulting democracy daily. There are still huge problems with this new voting technology being foisted upon us with little or no debate:

A compendium of errors in November 2002

These problems could all be easily solved by adding printers to touchscreen machines in order to provide a paper trail or using optical scan systems that read paper ballots. That, coupled with the reform of laws to mandate hand recounts when elections are decided by less than half of one percent of the total vote, is what people who are worried about the preservation of democracy should be talking about. Call your representatives... bitch, moan, complain and demand reform. Unless you're a republican -- then you're probably safe. Wally and Chuck have got you covered.

posted by RJ | Link | 10:40 PM
 

Reductio ad absurdum

Busy, Busy, Busy gets busy with this shorter version of Will Saletan's latest, greatest ridiculous article at Slate

But Digby gives the article the absolutely scathing treatment it deserves.

Pandagon weighs in as well.

My impression of Saletan has always been that he's a self loathing neoliberal, with a libertarian bent. An elitist yuppie without a cause, who hates all things political; particularly the people who objectively share his politics. He reminds me of progressives I run into in the course of political activism who spend entire meetings criticizing the specks in our eyes while the side with the logs in theirs (and not giving a damn about it) is busy kicking our ass.

posted by RJ | Link | 10:35 PM
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