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New Searchable Database Charts Bush/Cheney Lies
As the September 11th Commission grills President Bush and Vice President Cheney about their contradictory statements today, we wanted to alert you to a powerful new tool to help journalists, activists and the public compare the Bush administration's claims against well-documented facts. The Center for American Progress today launched a comprehensive Claim vs. Fact database that documents statements from conservatives like President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress and Fox News personalities, and compares those statements to the facts. Each fact is sourced, and in many cases includes a web link directly to that source.

The database has more than 400 entries so far, but THEY NEED YOUR HELP BUILDING IT. If you know of a lie, distortion or dishonest statement from a Bush Administration official or another conservative that isn't already in the database, please go to their submission page.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:51 PM

Oil Lobbyist Given Office in White House
(Greg Palast, AlterNet, April 26, 2004)
"Names of the Dead." Today's listing: "DERVISHI, Ervin, 21, Pfc, Army. Fort Worth." [what was Private Dervishi doing in harm's way in Iraq? Saddam was already in the slammer and Iraq "liberated" nearly a year.] . . . On July 25, 1990, the dashing dictator met in Baghdad with U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie. When Saddam asked Glaspie if the U.S. would object to an attack on Kuwait over the small emirate's theft of Iraqi oil, the ambassador told him, "We have no opinion.... Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction ... that Kuwait is not associated with America." Saddam taped her. . . . Glaspie, in her 1991 Congressional testimony, did not deny the authenticity of the recording, which diplomats worldwide took as a Bush Sr's okay to an Iraqi invasion. . . . So where is Secretary Baker today? On the lam, hiding in deserved shame? Doing penance by nursing the victims of Gulf War Syndrome? No, Mr. Baker is a successful lawyer, founder of Baker Botts of Houston, Riyadh, Kazakhstan. Among his glittering client roster is Exxon-Mobil oil and the defense minister of Saudi Arabia. Baker's firm is protecting the Saudi royal from a lawsuit by the families of the victims of September 11 over evidence suggesting that Saudi money ended up in the pockets of the terrorists. . . . And Baker has just opened a new office ... at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This is a White House first: the first time a lobbyist for the oil industry will have a desk right next to the President's. Baker's job, to "restructure" Iraq's debt. How lucky for his clients in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom claims $30.7 billion due from Iraq. . . . The official press release says the President has not appointed Mr. Baker. Rather Mr. Bush is "responding to a request from the Iraqi Governing Council." That is, Bush is acting on the authority of the puppet government he imposed on Iraqis at gunpoint. . . . Why is our President so concerned with the wishes of Mr. Baker's clientele? What does Bush owe Baker? . . . It was Baker, as consigliore to the Bush family, who came up with the strategy of maneuvering the 2000 Florida vote count into a Supreme Court packed with politicos. . . . a confidential document that oozed out of Foggy Bottom, 100 pages from the State Department's secret "Iraq Strategy." It's all about the "post-conflict" economy of Iraq written well before Americans were told we would have a conflict there. . . . There's nothing in the Iraq Strategy about democracy or voting. But there's plenty of detail about creating a free-market Disneyland in Mesopotamia, with "all" state assets – and that's just about everything in that nation – to be sold off to corporate powers. The Bush team secret program ordered: "... asset sales, concessions, leases and management contracts, especially those in the oil and supporting industries." . . . The Strategy lays out a detailed 270-day schedule for the asset grab. And that's why PFC Dervishi was kept there: to prevent or forestall elections. Because no democratically elected government of Iraq could ever sell off its oil. Democracy would have to wait, at the point of a gun, for the "assets sales, concessions, leases" to Bush's corporate buck-buddies. . . . There you have it. The secret Strategy tells us that, if Bush didn't go into Iraq for the oil, he sure as hell ain't leaving without it.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:09 AM

Senator calls Cheney a 'chickenhawk'
(CNN, April 28, 2004)
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg on Wednesday called Vice President Dick Cheney "the lead chickenhawk" against Sen. John Kerry and criticized other Republicans for questioning the Democratic presidential contender's military credentials. . . . In a scathing speech on the Senate floor, Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, said that he did not think politicians should be judged by whether they had military service but added that "when those who didn't serve attack the heroism of those who did, I find it particularly offensive." . . . "We know who the chicken hawks are. They talk tough on national defense and military issues and cast aspersions on others," he said. "When it was their turn to serve where were they? AWOL, that's where they were." . . . Lautenberg pointed to a poster with a drawing of a chicken in a military uniform defining a chickenhawk as "a person enthusiastic about war, provided someone else fights it." . . . "They shriek like a hawk, but they have the backbone of the chicken," he said. . . . "The lead chickenhawk against Sen. Kerry [is] the vice president of the United States, Vice President Cheney," Lautenberg said. "He was in Missouri this week claiming that Sen. Kerry was not up to the job of protecting this nation. What nerve. Where was Dick Cheney when that war was going on?" . . . Lautenberg chastised members of the Bush administration for being overly eager to go to war when they had not been willing to fight themselves. He quoted a Cheney interview from the 1980s that he had "other priorities" in the '60s than military service. . . . Lautenberg compared Cheney's remarks [about Kerry] with the GOP campaign against former Sen. Max Cleland, a Georgia Democrat whose defeat in 2002 has been a sore spot to many in his party. . . . "Max Cleland lost three limbs in Vietnam and they shamed him so, that he was pushed out of office because he was portrayed as weak on defense. Where do they come off with that kind of stuff?" he said. . . . He also criticized President Bush for declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003. . . . He showed a picture of Bush giving a speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln with the banner "Mission Accomplished" in the background. . . . "The mission accomplished was to get a picture that could be used in an election campaign," Lautenberg said. . . . Since that speech, 587 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, including 415 from hostile fire. . . . Lautenberg also criticized the president for saying "bring 'em on" to Iraqi insurgents. . . . "I served in Europe in World War II," he said. "The last thing I wanted to hear from my commander in chief, or my local commander, is dare the enemy to launch attacks against us."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:41 PM

US Christian Fundamentalists are Driving Bush's Middle East Policy
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, April 20, 2004 via Allen L Roland's blog)
The motion [the Texas Republican Party] adopted stated that Israel has an undivided claim to Jerusalem and the West Bank, that Arab states should be "pressured" to absorb refugees from Palestine, and that Israel should do whatever it wishes in seeking to eliminate terrorism. . . . The explanation is slowly becoming familiar to us, but we still have some difficulty in taking it seriously. . . . In the United States, several million people have succumbed to an extraordinary delusion. In the 19th century, two immigrant preachers cobbled together a series of unrelated passages from the Bible to create what appears to be a consistent narrative: Jesus will return to Earth when certain preconditions have been met. The first of these was the establishment of a state of Israel. The next involves Israel's occupation of the rest of its "biblical lands" (most of the Middle East), and the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosques. The legions of the antichrist will then be deployed against Israel, and their war will lead to a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon. The Jews will either burn or convert to Christianity, and the Messiah will return to Earth. . . . What makes the story so appealing to Christian fundamentalists is that before the big battle begins, all "true believers" (i.e. those who believe what they believe) will be lifted out of their clothes and wafted up to heaven during an event called the Rapture. Not only do the worthy get to sit at the right hand of God, but they will be able to watch, from the best seats, their political and religious opponents being devoured by boils, sores, locusts and frogs, during the seven years of Tribulation which follow. . . . The true believers are now seeking to bring all this about. . . . The believers are convinced that they will soon be rewarded for their efforts. The antichrist is apparently walking among us . . . We can laugh at these people, but we should not dismiss them. That their beliefs are bonkers does not mean they are marginal. American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans. . . . And among them are some of the most powerful men in America. John Ashcroft, the attorney general, is a true believer, so are several prominent senators and the House majority leader, Tom DeLay. Mr DeLay (who is also the co-author of the marvelously named DeLay-Doolittle Amendment, postponing campaign finance reforms) traveled to Israel last year to tell the Knesset that "there is no middle ground, no moderate position worth taking". . . . So here we have a major political constituency - representing much of the current president's core vote - in the most powerful nation on Earth, which is actively seeking to provoke a new world war. Its members see the invasion of Iraq as a warm-up act . . . when Bush asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, he received 100,000 angry emails from Christian fundamentalists, and never mentioned the matter again. . . . For 15% of the electorate, the Middle East is not just a domestic matter, it's a personal one: if the president fails to start a conflagration there, his core voters don't get to sit at the right hand of God. Bush, in other words, stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli aggression than he stands to lose by restraining it. He would be mad to listen to these people. He would also be mad not to.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:13 PM

D.C. rally on woman's rights fills Mall with hundreds of thousands
(Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, April 26, 2004)

Hundreds of thousands of
protesters, gathering on the National Mall in Washington, rallied to calls for
more protections of abortion rights and fewer restrictions on women's health
care freedoms. (AP Photo)

Hundreds of thousands of abortion-rights advocates swarmed the National Mall yesterday in what some said might have been the largest women's rights rally in history. . . . US park police declined to give an estimate of the crowd, but the rally filled the entire mile-long expanse of the National Mall from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and spilled onto adjacent streets. Organizers said the crowd exceeded 1 million. . . . Gloria Steinem, the feminist writer and activist, called the march ''the biggest in the history of the women's movement in this country." . . . Fear that Roe vs. Wade could again be in danger was a theme of yesterday's march, as organizers warned that Bush, if reelected, could appoint an antiabortion Supreme Court justice and tip the scales in favor of overturning the decision. . . . Abortion-rights advocates also voiced concern about the Unborn Victims of Violence Act -- which refers to a fetus as an ''unborn child" and ''a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb," -- and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which criminalizes a specific medical procedure that had been used most commonly in the late second trimester, both signed into law by President Bush. . . . Celebrities, including Ashley Judd, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Moby, and the Indigo Girls, also voiced their support as did former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean. . . . Actress Whoopi Goldberg brandished a wire coat hanger, a symbol of self abortions, as she stood on a stage in front of the US Capitol. . . . ''There is a whole generation of people who don't know what that is," she said. ''This is what we used, and never again will this be the choice of any women in this world." . . . Organizers, which included Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and a host of other groups, decided to broaden the theme from abortion rights to include other issues. Poor women's access to reproductive health care, getting insurance to cover birth control, expanded funding for family planning, and support for gay marriage were other themes yesterday. . . . Many participants were high school and college students. . . . The rally drew so many people that the rest stops on Interstate 95 were still clogged with buses and cars late into the night, said Kara Fink, a 29-year-old attorney from Providence, R.I. who was interviewed by telephone. . . . ''I think the rally was so big precisely because people have a lot of concerns about how this administration has dealt with women's rights issues. I have a lot of concerns about rights people fought for 30 years ago being whittled down," Fink said.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:53 PM

The Madness of President George
(Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.)
Bush should hold more press conferences, to provide the people of the planet with ever more windows into the mind of one of the most dangerous men ever to occupy the White House. . . . The whole world is learning an important thing: don't end up like pathetic George blind to reality, muttering cliches, oblivious to the wreckage and evil for which he is responsible. We need to know the truth, and the truth is that this man is dangerous. . . . He is wilfully ignorant of what is going on in Iraq but cocksure that not only is he doing the right thing, but that God is blessing and directing his every decision, even to the point that he imagines himself to be infallible (or, rather, he cannot generate any evidence of fallibility when asked). . . . He is the most dangerous man on the planet because he autocratically heads the most powerful and well-armed state in the history of the world. He has access to many thousands of weapons of mass destruction, and has shown himself perfectly willing to use them against anyone he regards as a foe. By comparison to his predecessor in the White House, Bush is alarming, the kind of president who seems capable of blowing up the world and calling it good. . . . I am supposed to recite the facts without rhetoric in order to convert those who think George is nothing but a godly man heading the free world's efforts to protect itself against barbarism. But the situation is so desperate, it seems to call for more frank talk. People who are still defending George don't need patient argument; they need shock therapy. . . . If you doubt this, check the transcript of that press conference. In much of what he says, he gets the truth exactly backwards in ways that anyone who reads the news can discern. He admits (for the first time?) that the US is militarily occupying Iraq, but claims that resisters are rejecting "freedom" and "self government" - the rapist sermonising on the need to respect the physical integrity and dignity of his victims. . . . The occupier who announces through a bullhorn "Submit or Die!" has some chutzpah claiming to be a liberator. This is beyond Orwell. It's evil, crazy, or both. Websites that reviewed that speech the way they review a movie or play ought to suffer everlasting disgrace. . . . We must first deal with the problem that George seems genuinely mad. There was a riddle in nearly every sentence. He spoke like someone dramatically out of touch with what everyone else knows. The whole scene was a bit wacky, like the uncle everyone knows is crazy coming to the family reunion and being humoured because he's family. People were going easy on George just because he seemed to be speaking about another planet. . . . Now, here we have a "war" that has proven to be a complete calamity in every conceivable way. The blood and violence are ghastly. It started as a war for democracy and American values and is ending in body bags, a radicalised population, hundreds of billions wasted, and an emboldened horde of terrorists from all countries. The original rationales for the war are proven hoaxes. The soldiers hate it, and are now doing extra time. The Iraqis hate the soldiers. US trained Iraqis are AWOL. We are talking here about a war disaster of historic proportions, even for the aggressor state. . . . But the press seemed reluctant to point this out, as if George had his finger on a button that could blow them all up. Instead, they, very gingerly, put him on the couch. What mistakes had he made? Are there things he would do differently? Just asking, George. Not hinting at a thing. Just a normal sort of question every president is asked. Everyone makes mistakes, you know; nothing to be ashamed of. . . . Nope, said George, nothing he can think of. It was almost cartoonish. But in real life, it is extremely scary. The press was evidently confused by the whole scene, their eyes darting back and forth to each other in bemusement. The efforts to report on the event the next day were similarly strained. The headlines could have run: "President Bush Has Gone Off the Rails." But since press etiquette demands he be treated with great deference, the stories were all variations of: "George Bush today pledged to continue the offensive in Iraq, while denying his administration has made errors in judgment... " . . . George isn't the first and certainly won't be the last crazy president. Power tends to do this to people. Witness Lying Eyes Blair. The sin of mass murder does it too. It makes them callous, nuts, dangerous. The answer is not to replace him with Kerry, or Clinton, or Carter, or some other person who seems more peaceful in some way. Bush also seemed rather peaceful during the election. . . . The urgent moral priority of our time is to dismantle the warfare state, disarm the nukes, roll back the empire from every corner of the globe. We want to live in a country even a crazy man can head and not have it be dangerous for us or the world.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:28 PM

Map showing deadliest parts of Iraq for Americans
Since it looks like this is going to be a long war, we Americans had better start getting more familar with the geography and place names in Iraq. If you lived during the American war in Viet Nam, then names like Hue, and Khe Son have special meaning for you. Today the killing continues, only the place names have changed. Now names like Fallujah and Ramadi are where our young women and men are dying.

To get a better understanding of the areas in which the US is taking its heaviest casualties, we have provided a map that tracks the general location of US deaths since April 1, 2004.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:50 PM

E-Voting's Diebold May Face Criminal Charges
(Wired.com, April 23, 2004)
After harshly chastising Diebold Election Systems for what it considered deceptive business practices, a California voting systems panel voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the secretary of state decertify an electronic touch-screen voting machine manufactured by the company, making it likely that four California counties that recently purchased the machines will have to find other voting solutions for the November presidential election. . . . The panel also voted to send the findings of its recent Diebold investigation to the state's attorney general for possible criminal and civil charges against the firm for violating state election laws. . . . The decision was based partly on the fact that a peripheral device for the machine performed poorly in the March primary and partly on the fact that Diebold had marketed and sold the TSx to counties before it was certified by the state. The panel also said Diebold misled the state about issues pertaining to the federal certification of the system. . . . The state had conditionally certified the TSx in December so that counties that had already purchased the machines could use them in the March primary. But the company installed a last-minute peripheral device in several California counties that was still being de-bugged days before the March primary. The device, a smart card encoder that programmed voting cards to be used with the TSx, malfunctioned and produced major problems in San Diego and Alameda counties the morning of the primary. Several hundred precincts failed to open on time, thus disenfranchising voters who were turned away from the polls. . . . The panel also recommended that Shelley ask the state attorney general to examine the possibility of bringing civil and criminal charges against Diebold for violating California election codes, which state that vendors cannot change software without notifying the secretary of state's office. The codes also say that no vendor can install uncertified software on voting systems. . . . Last November, the state discovered that Diebold had installed uncertified software on its voting machines in 17 counties without notifying state officials or, in some cases, even county officials who were affected by the changes. . . . Panel member Marc Carrel, assistant secretary of state for policy and planning, said that Diebold's "spin" on the issues left him dizzy. He said that Diebold's repeated apologies were "belied by their actions and their statements." . . . "I keep hearing apologies. I keep hearing misleading statements. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day -- it keeps repeating and repeating and repeating," he said. "I'm disgusted by the actions of this company." . . . Carrel said the "bait-and-switch" on software had resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters in various counties and resulted "in a reduction in the confidence not only in (touch-screen machines) but in voting in general. And that's very disturbing to me." . . . Carrel called the decertification "a huge embarrassment" for the company, which will have to defend its actions in California any time it tries to sell systems to other states and counties in the future. . . . "Four of their (California) clients have to deal with finding another system because of their mistakes. That's major," Carrel said. "If we had done nothing, they would have said, 'See, we're vindicated.' They clearly weren't vindicated."

[Also see: Electronic voting machine executive admits he is working for Bush]
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:15 PM

Bush Plans to Reinstate the Draft Next Year
(BuzzFlash, April 22, 2004)
it has only become more apparent that the U.S. military is in dire condition, short on soldiers, supplies and government support. It's gotten to where the military is calling up troops who aren't medically fit, and is extending the tours of more than 20,000 soldiers -- soldiers who have already served one year and whose families were counting on their return this month. . . . "I cried for an entire day after getting the news of the extension of the soldiers in Iraq. Now I have to laugh knowing that everywhere we look, we don't see any welcome home banners anymore. Now we see crisis and anger management banners. Everything was supposed to be happiness. Now it's sadness, and still they pretend we are calm, happy families, like what just happened is nothing but part of the soldiers' jobs," one Army wife wrote in a letter to Stars and Stripes. . . . Where are these new troops supposed to come from? As Connor Freff Cochran recently explained on AlterNet.org, 63 percent of the Army's fighting force is on active duty in the "hot" zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans. And we still have troops stationed in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, among other places. . . . "This is a huge overextension," Cochran wrote. "History has proven that long-term military operations can only be sustained if you have twice as many soldiers waiting in the pipeline as are stationed out in the field. By that rule of thumb, the regular military is now 125,000 soldiers short -- a gap the Bush administration has temporarily plugged by calling more than 150,000 Army Reserve and National Guard troops into active service." . . . It would take legislative action by Congress to reinstate the draft, which ended in 1973. But let's face it: for the tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan whose civilian lives have been put on hold indefinitely due to an arbitrary "stop-loss order," a draft has already begun. . . . Realizing that Bush has left the military in a lurch, it's not surprising that so many BuzzFlash readers have raised concerns about two bills, H163 and S89, introduced in January 2003. Known as the Universal National Service Act of 2003 (or, the popular title, "Reinstate the Draft Bill" ), both are described as: "A bill to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes." . . . Keep in mind that the bills call for drafting men and women, and college students won't get a deferment past their current semester. The purpose was to ensure that the burden of protection not be borne by those who have few options aside from joining the military. How many politicians are going to support that before the November election? . . . In the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows neatly summarizes the reality of the situation: "The military's people, its equipment, its supplies and spare parts, its logistics systems, and all its other assets are under pressure they cannot sustain. Everything has been operating on an emergency basis for more than two years, with no end to the emergency in sight. The situation was serious before the invasion of Iraq; now it is acute." . . . Bush will start implementing a draft through reactivation of the Selective Service Boards, shortly after he is sworn in for a second term, if that nightmare scenario of his election should come to pass. . . . But not to worry for the offspring of the Bush dynasty. The Bush loyalists will find a way to keep the twins and other Bush kin from serving. None of the Bush brothers, including George, have fought in a war. They don't plan on starting any new Bush traditions now with the "next generation." . . . It's our sons and daughters who will be drafted not the kin of the Bush family. You can be sure of that. . . . But there is one complication: unless the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law is changed, those who publicly identify themselves as gay or lesbian would be ineligible to serve in the military -- the unintended consequence of which is that young people are likely to find an easy "out," as it were. Much to Bush's chagrin, if there is a draft, same-sex marriage might find a much broader support base. . . . The Lord works in strange ways -- and the Bush draft may just end being the biggest recruiting tool for homosexuality in history.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:45 PM

Top US general says cost of Iraq conflict growing
(China View, April 21, 2004)
A top US general said Wednesday that the Iraqi military operation would cost more money than expected, citing the need to deploy more US troops in Iraq than the Pentagon had planned. . . . General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that it would cost an estimated 700 million dollars just to keep 20,000 troops in Iraq for an extra three months. . . . The Bush administration has funded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with supplemental appropriations that are not included in its budget requests. Congress has passed two bills appropriating more than 160 billion dollars since the war started last March. . . . Two senators said the US military will need at least 50 billion dollars to keep troops in Iraq for the next year, and the Bush administration is trying to avoid disclosing the price tag because of election-year politics. . . . "Every ground squirrel in this country knows that it's going to be 50 billion dollars to 75 billion dollars in additional money required to sustain us in Iraq for this year," Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican from Nebraska, told NBC's "Today" show. . . . Hagel and Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat from Delaware, said the White House has not sought more funding for the war to avoid criticism in an election year. . . . "Why aren't they asking for it? They don't know? We already know it's going to cost at least a minimum of 60 billion dollars to keep the troops there," Biden told the "Today" show.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:34 PM

US Military Foresaw Trade Center Attack in 1999
(Steven Komarow and Tom Squitieri, USA TODAY, 18 April 2004)
In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conducted exercises simulating what the White House says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. . . . One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. . . . NORAD, in a written statement, confirmed that such hijacking exercises occurred. . . . A White House spokesman said Sunday that the Bush administration was not aware of the NORAD exercises. But the exercises using real aircraft show that at least one part of the government thought the possibility of such attacks, though unlikely, merited scrutiny. . . . On April 8, the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks heard testimony from [incompetent] national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that the White House didn't anticipate hijacked planes being used as weapons. . . . President Bush said at a news conference Tuesday, "Nobody in our government, at least, and I don't think the prior government, could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale." . . . NORAD officials have acknowledged that "scriptwriters" for the drills included the idea of hijacked aircraft being used as weapons.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:19 AM

Gun found in congressman's carry-on bag - Lawmaker detained, but not arrested at airport
(Jeanne Meserve and Ted Barrett, CNN Washington Bureau)
A U.S. congressman was briefly detained at a Kentucky airport Tuesday after authorities found a loaded gun in his bag at a screening checkpoint, authorities said. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Indiana, "completely forgot" he had the gun in his bag as he prepared to take a US Airways flight to Washington for the first day of work after a two-week recess, a spokesman for the congressman said. A Homeland Security Department official said Hostettler had a loaded 9 mm Glock pistol in his bag at Louisville International Airport. The congressman said he did not know the gun was in his bag and apologized, the official said. Hostettler's spokesman, Michael Jahr, said Transportation Security Administration officials detained but did not arrest the congressman. "He was pulled aside and questioned," and then was allowed to take a different flight, Jahr said, adding that he didn't know if the gun was confiscated [[My guess is it wasn't]]. The gun is registered to the congressman, but Jahr said Hostettler never brings it to Washington, where handguns are illegal. He does not have a house or apartment in the district, but sleeps in his office. Hostettler is an avid sportsman and "hunts lots of things [[like Democrats, atheists, and leftwing pinkos??]] and does target practice," Jahr said. "He's been doing a lot to [sic] events in the district and may have packed the wrong bag."

******Now you tell me, if this had been ANYONE ELSE besides a Republican Representative in Congress, do you actually believe that they would not have been arrested? I wasn't aware that the increased security measures we have been forced to endure did NOT APPLY to members of the Republican Congress. I also noted in the article that they mention that the gun was REGISTERED to Hostettler but they fail to mention whether Hostettler had a Concealed Carry Permit or are members of Congress exempt from that law also?******
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:18 AM

Powell says Cheney and his cronies established a separate government
(william Hamilton, Washington Post, April 17, 2004)
Beginning in late December 2001, President Bush met repeatedly with Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks and his war cabinet to plan the U.S. attack on Iraq even as he and administration spokesmen insisted they were pursuing a diplomatic solution, according to a new book on the origins of the war. . . . The intensive war planning throughout 2002 created its own momentum, according to "Plan of Attack" by Bob Woodward . . . Adding to the momentum, Woodward writes, was the pressure from advocates of war inside the administration. Vice President Cheney, whom Woodward describes as a "powerful, steamrolling force," led that group and had developed what some of his colleagues felt was a "fever" about removing Hussein by force. . . . Woodward describes a relationship between Cheney and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell that became so strained Cheney and Powell are barely on speaking terms. Cheney engaged in a bitter and eventually winning struggle over Iraq with Powell, an opponent of war who believed Cheney was obsessively trying to establish a connection between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and treated ambiguous intelligence as fact. . . . Powell felt Cheney and his allies -- his chief aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz; and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith and what Powell called Feith's "Gestapo" office -- had established what amounted to a separate government. . . . Before the war with Iraq, Powell bluntly told Bush that if he sent U.S. troops there "you're going to be owning this place." . . . But, when asked personally by the president, Powell agreed to make the U.S. case against Hussein at the United Nations in February 2003, a presentation described by White House communications director Dan Bartlett as "the Powell buy-in." Bush wanted someone with Powell's credibility to present the evidence that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction . . . His new book is a narrative history of how Bush and his administration launched the war on Iraq. It is based on interviews with more than 75 people, including Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. . . . On Nov. 21, 2001, 72 days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush directed Rumsfeld to begin planning for war with Iraq. "Let's get started on this," Bush recalled saying. "And get Tommy Franks looking at what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to." He also asked: Could this be done on a basis that would not be terribly noticeable? . . . Bush received his first detailed briefing on Iraq war plans five weeks later, on Dec. 28, when Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, visited Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. Bush told reporters afterward that they had discussed Afghanistan. . . . The president described praying as he walked outside the Oval Office after giving the order to begin combat operations against Iraq, and the powerful role his religious beliefs played throughout that time. . . . "Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord's will. . . . Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead." . . . According to "Plan of Attack," it was Cheney who was particularly focused on Iraq before the terrorist attacks. Before Bush's inauguration, Cheney sent word to departing Defense Secretary William S. Cohen that he wanted the traditional briefing given an incoming president to be a serious "discussion about Iraq and different options." . . . Defense Secretary Wolfowitz proposed sending in the military to seize Iraq's southern oil fields and establish the area as a foothold from which opposition groups could overthrow Hussein. . . . Powell dismissed the plan as "lunacy," according to Woodward, and told Bush what he thought. "You don't have to be bullied into this," Powell said. . . . But as the planning proceeded, the administration began taking steps that Woodward describes as helping to make war inevitable. . . . Woodward writes that the CIA essentially became an advocate for war first by asserting that covert action would be ineffective, and later by saying that its new network of spies would be endangered if the United States did not attack Iraq. . . . In the summer of 2002, Bush approved $700 million worth of "preparatory tasks" in the Persian Gulf region such as upgrading airfields, bases, fuel pipelines and munitions storage depots to accommodate a massive U.S. troop deployment. The Bush administration funded the projects from a supplemental appropriations bill for the war in Afghanistan and old appropriations, keeping Congress unaware of the reprogramming of money and the eventual cost. . . . According to "Plan of Attack," Bush asked Rice and his longtime communications adviser, Karen Hughes, whether he should attack Iraq, but he did not specifically ask Powell or Rumsfeld. . . . Bush told Powell of his decision in a brief meeting in the White House. Evidently concerned about Powell's reaction, he said, "Are you with me on this? I think I have to do this. I want you with me." . . . "I'll do the best I can," Powell answered. "Yes, sir, I will support you. I'm with you, Mr. President."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:14 PM

"Mistakes Were Made," Presidential Press Conference
President Bush: John.

Reporter Thank you, Mr. President ... What would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have you learned from it?

Bush: Hmm. I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time, so I could plan for it. [long pause] ... You know, I just, uh, I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't yet. .. I, uh, hope I -- I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.

[COMMENT: Can you believe this moron is sitting in the White House? What a joke the USA has become. Listen to the village idiot make a fool of himself]
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posted by Lorenzo 5:06 PM

New Woodward book alleges secret Iraq war plan
(Calvin Woodward and Siobhan McDonough, Associated Press, April 16, 2004)
President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy. . . . Bush feared that if news got out about the Iraq plan as U.S. forces were fighting another conflict, people would think he was too eager for war, journalist Bob Woodward writes in "Plan of Attack," a behind-the-scenes account of the 16 months leading to the Iraq invasion. . . . Bush and his aides have denied accusations they were preoccupied with Iraq at the cost of paying attention to the al-Qaida terrorist threat before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. . . . Richard Clarke, charged the Bush administration's determination to invade Iraq undermined the war on terror. . . . Woodward's account fleshes out the degree to which some members of the administration, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, were focused on Saddam Hussein from the onset of Bush's presidency and even after the terrorist attacks made the destruction of al-Qaida the top priority. . . . The book says Bush told Rumsfeld to keep quiet about their planning and when the defense secretary asked to bring CIA Director George Tenet into it at some point, the president said not to do so yet. . . . Even Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was apparently not fully briefed. Woodward said Bush told her that morning he was having Rumsfeld work on Iraq but did not give details. . . . In an interview two years later, Bush told Woodward that if the news had leaked, it would have caused "enormous international angst and domestic speculation." . . . The Bush administration's drive toward war with Iraq raised an international furor anyway, alienating longtime allies who did not believe the White House had made a sufficient case against Saddam. . . . Woodward, a Washington Post journalist who wrote an earlier book on Bush's anti-terrorism campaign and broke the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, says Cheney's well-known hawkish attitudes on Iraq were frequently decisive in Bush's decision-making. . . . Cheney pressed the outgoing Clinton administration to brief Bush on the Iraq threat before he took office, Woodward writes. . . . In August 2002, when Bush talked publicly of being a patient man who would weigh Iraqi options carefully, the vice president took the administration's Iraq policy on a harder track in a speech declaring the weapons inspections ineffective. Cheney's speech was viewed as the beginning of a campaign to undermine or overthrow Saddam. Woodward said Bush let Cheney make the speech without asking what he would say. . . . The vice president also figured prominently in a protracted decision March 19, 2003, to strike Iraq before a 48-hour ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to leave the country had expired. . . . When the CIA and its Iraqi sources reported that Saddam's sons and other family members were at a small palace, and Saddam was on his way to join them, Bush's top advisers debated whether to strike ahead of plan. . . . Franks was against it, saying it was unfair to move before a deadline announced to the other side, the book says. Rumsfeld and Rice favored the early strike, and Secretary of State Colin Powell leaned that way. . . . But Bush did not make his decision until he had cleared everyone out of the Oval Office except the vice president. "I think we ought to go for it," Cheney is quoted as saying. Bush did.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:50 AM

Retention rate of US soldiers down
(Xinhuanet, April 16, 2004)
The US Defense Department has approved the extension of duty in Iraq for some 20,000 American soldiers when the military has seen a drop in the retention rate among soldiers whose enlistments were ending or who were eligible to retire. . . . Through March 17, nearly halfway through the fiscal year, the Army fell about 1,000 short of meeting its goal of keeping 25,786 soldiers, a USA Today report said Friday. . . . Full-time soldiers and members of the Guard and Reserve could choose to leave instead of stay this year because of the strains of service, including longer and more frequent overseas missions, military personnel experts warned. . . . Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday that the Defense Department would extend stay in Iraq beyond one year for about 20,000 soldiers who are scheduled to rotate out of the country. Their time in Iraq will grow as much as 90 days. . . . The extension comes after two weeks of violence in Iraq including the kidnappings of some foreign nationals and deadly attacks on American soldiers. . . . There are 137,000 US troops in Iraq, and there were plans to reduce the number to about 105,000 this summer. But Rumsfeld said Thursday that he could make no guarantees about future troop levelin Iraq.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 11:14 AM

It is time for Bill O'Reilly to apologize
I said on my program, if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again.
-- Bill O'Reilly, on ABC's Good Morning America, 03-18-03
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posted by Lorenzo 1:05 PM

Studies probe psychedelic benefits
(Lee Peterson, Daily Breeze, April 13, 2004)
medicine: Researchers at Harbor-UCLA centers will examine the effectiveness of the drug psilocybin for terminal and end-stage cancer patients. . . . Doctors at the Research and Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center near Torrance will study the effectiveness of the active ingredient from "magic mushrooms" in relieving anxiety, depression and pain in terminal or end-stage cancer patients. . . . A University of Arizona research team is investigating the use of the same drug in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. . . . It's been an uphill climb for proponents of the study of illegal drugs like MDMA -- also known as ecstasy -- and psilocybin, given the public's general impression of psychedelic drugs as the domain of counter-culture rebels and reckless pleasure-seekers. . . . But there is evidence, much of it from the 1960s and early '70s--before such research was stopped by the government--that in controlled, clinical settings, certain psychoactive drugs can be beneficial for people suffering from terminal illness or from some psychiatric disorders. . . . That's why Dr. Charles Grob, a psychiatrist at Harbor-UCLA and Harbor-UCLA REI, decided to investigate the potential benefits of psilocybin. . . . "Anxiety is quite common among people with end-stage disease," Grob said. Published studies from the '60s and the early '70s show that psilocybin produced a marked improvement in mood and improved rapport with family and friends. It also led to a dramatic reduction in pain perception and the need for pain medication. . . . "We are very interested to see if we can replicate such findings," Grob said. . . . As opposed to the image of a cancer patient who would be zonked out on hallucinogenic drugs, the old reports indicated that even after the drug had "worn off," the patients used less pain medication, and thus were more lucid. . . . That "after effect," a possible lasting improvement in their psychological state, is one of the more intriguing findings, Grob said. . . . Slowly, however, proponents have witnessed a growing acceptance that more should be done for terminal patients, for example, and that even illegal drugs may hold some promise as medicines. . . . If successful, studies like Grob's will help to generate acceptance for vilified drugs, showing that there are benefits that outweigh risks, said Rick Doblin, president and founder of the Florida-based Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. . . . Doblin said one reason for the potential for mainstream acceptance is that the proponents have changed their message. . . . "We are making more reasonable claims," Doblin said. Instead of promising spiritual awakenings and such through unbridled recreational use, the proponents of these drugs are talking about relief for cancer patients and those suffering from psychiatric disorders within the context of controlled medical settings. . . . Dr. Rex Greene, an oncologist and expert in end-of-life care, welcomed the study of psilocybin as a possible treatment for cancer patients. . . . "Insofar as a hallucinogenic is used as a tool, properly supervised, it could well be helpful," said Greene, a former South Bay resident who last year, became medical director of the cancer center at Mills Peninsula Medical Center in San Mateo County.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 3:34 PM

The Slacker President
During one of the worst weeks for U.S. forces in Iraq since the war began -- with nearly 50 Americans killed -- President Bush was criticized for vacationing on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. It was Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. [Which means that little Bush has vacationed about 20% of the time he's been in the White House. Now if we can only get the amount of time he's on vacation up to 100% next year.]
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posted by Lorenzo 4:21 PM

As Usual, the Wrong Question Is Being Asked

The 9-11 Commission is supposedly focusing on all aspects of the attack -- all aspects except the one that is by far the most important question: why did the hijackers knowingly give up their lives to destroy the World Trade Center?

President Bush has a ready answer. He tells us it's because they hate American freedoms, American democracy, and American prosperity. How could any intelligent person believe that there are hundreds -- more likely, thousands -- of people around the world who would knowingly sacrifice their lives just to protest American freedom, democracy, or prosperity? As Charley Reese has put it: "It is absurd to suppose that a human being sitting around suddenly stands up and says: 'You know, I hate freedom. I think I'll go blow myself up.'"

The Motive: There was only one possible motive for the 9-11 attackers: they were protesting the way the American government has been using force for half a century to overrule the wishes of people in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Our government has overthrown democratically elected governments, it has supported with money and weapons dictatorial governments that have tortured and killed dissenters (just as George Bush keeps saying Saddam Hussein was doing), it has bribed foreign governments to join in enterprises of the U.S. government (as it did with Spain and tried to do with Turkey before Operation Kill Iraqis).

Because of very little press coverage, most Americans have no idea that our government has been doing these things. How many people know, for example, that Iran had a democratically elected government until the U.S. and British governments engineered a coup to install the tyrannical Shah of Iran in 1953?

Then there was all the U.S. government help to Diem in South Vietnam, Suharto in Indonesia, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Stalin during World War II, Lumumba in the Congo, Saddam Hussein in Iraq (yes, that Saddam Hussein), and dozens more tyrants — all of whom used American taxpayer money to oppress their own citizens.

Americans may not know about the support provided to these tyrants by the U.S. government, but I can assure you that plenty of people in those countries do know what our government has done to them. Because Americans know so little about the history of our government's adventures of the last 50 years (and the last place anyone's likely to learn about them is in a government school), it's easy for Americans to buy George Bush's logic when he says, "See, these people hate freedom." Consequently, most people believe that the history of violence began on 9-11, when it's actually been building for 50 years.

It isn't even just history. Today George Bush is sending money and other resources to governments in Uzbekistan, Turkminestan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan -- governments that are oppressing their subjects in much the same way Hussein was supposed to have oppressed Iraq.
. . . Read more!

posted by Hal 9:24 AM

Bush told of hijack warning weeks before 9/11
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, April 9, 2004)
President Bush was given an intelligence briefing, entitled Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States just weeks before the September 11 attacks, it emerged yesterday. . . . Details of the August 6 briefing in 2001, which warned of terrorist preparations being made for hijackings on American soil, surfaced in testimony given by the US national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to a commission of inquiry studying the September 11 attacks. . . . The existence of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) had been publicly known for some time, but Ms Rice's confirmation of its title and some of its contents pushed it centre stage in the explosive political row over whether the al-Qaida attacks could have been prevented. . . . The emotive significance of the briefing - in the form of a memorandum sent to the president summarising potential threats to the US - is all the greater because at the time he received it, Mr Bush was on a month-long "working holiday" at his Texas ranch and spent much of the following days fishing and clearing undergrowth on his land. He did not cut short his vacation or apparently take dramatic steps in response to the briefing. . . . Bob Kerrey, a former senator, said the PDB informed the president that "the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity in the United States consistent with preparations for hijacking". . . . In exchanges in which the questions were often more revealing than the answers, the commissioners made public a series of stunning findings on the extent of apparent bureaucratic incompetence in the weeks between August 6 and September 11 2001. . . . "Secretary [Norman] Mineta, the secretary of transportation, had no idea of the threat. The administrator of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], responsible for security on our airlines, had no idea. Yes, the attorney general was briefed, but there was no evidence of any activity by him about this," Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic commissioner, told Ms Rice. . . . "You indicate in your statement that the FBI tasked its field offices to find out what was going on out there. We have no record of that. The Washington field office international terrorism people say they never heard about the threat, they never heard about the warnings
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 9:50 PM

Dr. Rice is Either Incompetent or a Liar
The link above will take you to my latest essay. Here is a little sample:

. . . Another example of her chutzpa was where she blandly smiled and said she couldn't remember if she had bothered to tell Bush that there were 70 Al Queda cells operating in the US . . . and those were only the ones we knew about! Couple that little tidbit with the fact that one of Bush's daily briefings was titled "'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" and at the very least this is incompetence. Personally, I don't believe Dr. Rice is that stupid, which only leaves one alternative, she is lying. So what's really going on here? Let's follow the money. . . . How very clever it was of those powerful businessmen to hide their point person right out in the open. All this time we thought that Cheney was the brains behind this criminal enterprise. But he may only be a decoy. Could it be Dr. Rice who is the source of all the bad policy coming out of this junta?
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:21 PM

"At the request of the White House, silverware will not accompany the table settings"
(JIM MORRILL, Charlotte Observer, April 6, 2004)
It was a mouthwatering menu. Not that you'd expect less for $2,000 a plate. Seered beef tenderloins with golden tomatoes on an herb-encrusted baguette. Grilled garlic chicken with smoked gouda on a honey wheat wrap. Fruits and gourmet olives and crudite. A gourmet luncheon with only one thing missing: something to eat it with. The explanation was at the bottom of the menus distributed at President Bush's $1.5 million Charlotte fund-raiser Monday. "At the request of the White House, silverware will not accompany the table settings," it said in discreetly fine print. No silver. No plastic. The lack of utensils might have been why many plates went virtually untouched.
The reason: So the tinkle of silver wouldn't disrupt the president's speech.
*********I was going to make some obviously inane comment but realized I couldn't top the unembellished truth.**********
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:48 AM

Growing GOP Dissent On Iraq
(David Paul Kuhn, CBS, April 7, 2004)
President Bush is facing increasing dissent among leading conservative politicians and pundits in the face of mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq. . . . The war has become the long slog that some Republicans feared. Since Sunday, 32 Americans have been killed in fighting across Iraq. American body bags are on the front page of major U.S. newspapers. . . . The Washington Post and The New York Times brandished images of charred U.S. civilian remains last week. The networks are leading their nightly news broadcasts with stories of dead Americans. . . . Republican Party ranks are beginning to break and the White House is worried. Longtime GOP critics on Iraq are growing progressively more vocal in their condemnation. . . . "How do you know, come June 30, that a civil war will not occur?" Lugar said on Voice of America radio. "After all, the coalition has not disarmed all of these militia that these religious groups have in various places. They still are armed and apparently ready to fight." . . . Usually loyal pundits are speaking out, too. Conservative columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday, "U.S. forces in Iraq are insufficient." . . . The White House continues to claim that most Iraqis support the American presence. But even some ardent conservative backers of the president are voicing skepticism. . . . "I'm not buying this 'Iraqis are on the American side' right now," Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly said on the Tuesday night broadcast of "The O’Reilly Factor." The leading conservative commentator repeatedly called the current conflict a "second war in Iraq." . . . O'Reilly added, "I think Rumsfeld has got a lot of explaining to do here. There's a lot of mistakes that are now killing American soldiers." . . . Fellow conservative pundit and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough of MSNBC was even more critical in his broadcast Tuesday. . . . Scarborough: "Do we need more troops in Iraq? Hell, yes, we do. ... Should June 30 handover date to the Iraqis be extended? You can bet your life on it ... because creating this false deadline in time for a presidential election is no way to win a war." . . . "Now that things aren't going so well, Republican critics are more open in their criticism," Cook said. "When there was a limit in how critical they could be of their own president before, even though they thoroughly disagreed." . . . Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska told CNN Tuesday that the Bush administration has "few good options" left regarding Iraq. The implication: the White House has dug a ditch that it possibly cannot get out of without getting its hands dirty. . . . A Pew Research Center national survey conducted this week shows that the majority of Americans now disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. . . . "Whether you agree about whether we should've done it or not, it is hard to say the war is being done well."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:23 PM

Support eroding for Bush on Iraq
(Liz Marlantes, Christian Science Monitor, April 9, 2004)
As violence and US casualties mount in Iraq, President Bush is facing a precarious political situation at home - and a potentially critical moment in the presidential campaign. . . . Current polls suggest that public opinion on the conflict could be approaching a tipping point. While Americans have always been divided over the war, a majority has consistently held that the US made the right decision in deposing Saddam Hussein. But some polls now find a majority disapproving of Mr. Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, and, according to a recent Pew survey, a sizable margin believes the administration does not have a plan to bring the conflict to a successful conclusion. The number of Americans calling for the troops to come home is rising, with just a bare majority now favoring keeping US troops in the region. . . . the president's decision to go to war has come under increasing fire in recent weeks, with officials such as former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke charging that the effort in Iraq has actually undermined the war on terror. . . . As the situation on the ground has deteriorated, some Republicans, such as Sen. Richard Lugar, are questioning the administration's plan for turning over power to Iraqis, while Democrats such as Sen. Ted Kennedy are comparing the situation to Vietnam. . . . If unrest continues, public support for the mission could quickly crumble - and the political consequences for Bush could be severe. . . . "Opinion is very fluid right now," says Carroll Doherty, editor of the Pew Research Report. "There's a sense that things are perhaps spinning out of control - and that's a very dangerous perception." . . . The two primary critiques of Bush are these: By alienating allies, he has forced the US to bear virtually all the costs of the war in lives and dollars, and, more important, he seems to have no road map for bringing US troops home.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:18 PM

Voters in L.A. Suburb Reject Wal-Mart Supercenter
(Dan Whitcomb, Reuters April 7, 2004)
[COMMENT: With all the news coming out of Iraq right now, it is easy to miss other important stories. One of the biggest scourages in the US is the rape of workers and small businesses by Wal Mart. This story is the first small victory We The People have won over this massive corporate machine. Remember, shopping at Wal Mart is like chewing off your own paw.]

Voters in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood on Tuesday rejected by a 2-1 margin a ballot measure that would have allowed Wal-Mart to build a sprawling shopping center in the heart of their town. . . . In voting down the referendum, residents appeared to have taken their cue from elected officials in working-class Inglewood, who fought bitterly to keep Wal-Mart from building a supercenter there, despite the promise of 1,200 jobs and millions of dollars in sales tax revenue. . . . "This was a major victory," said Jerome Horton, a state assemblyman representing Inglewood. "This was a test site for Wal-Mart. This would have set a national precedent and developers all over the nation were watching to see whether or not a developer could exempt themselves from complying with local laws. This was a much bigger issue than just jobs." . . . With all 29 precincts reporting, election returns showed 33.8 percent of voters in favor of Measure 04-A and 66.1 percent opposed. Some 3,000 absentee ballots remained uncounted, but a spokeswoman for the Inglewood city clerk said those votes were unlikely to change the result. . . . The Inglewood City Council had prompted Wal-Mart to appeal to the voters by passing a law to thwart the world's largest retailer and its "big-box" shopping center -- which would have occupied a plot of land the size of 17 football fields -- on the grounds that it would put local mom-and-pop stores out of business and pay lower wages to its employees. . . . Opponents of Measure 04-A, who included four of Inglewood's five council members as well as religious leaders, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, said the ballot initiative was a bid by Wal-Mart to bully its way past the city's democratic review process.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 4:21 PM

New Iraq Violence May Delay Some U.S. Troops' Return
(Reuters, April 7, 2004)
The Pentagon may delay the scheduled imminent return home of some U.S. troops in Iraq in order to deal with a spike of violence, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday, and he warned Iraqi pilgrims that holy cities were potentially dangerous. . . . Rumsfeld said the Pentagon was considering a delay in the return home of some U.S. troops after their promised yearlong tour of duty in order to buttress U.S. force levels to deal with the current violence. . . . The United States is currently near the end of a massive rotation of weary troops home from Iraq and fresh ones into the country. There are currently about 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. . . . A senior Pentagon official told reporters after the briefing that no decision had yet been made by Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, to keep troops in Iraq beyond their year's tour of duty. . . . "What Abizaid is doing is looking at all of his options, including extending units. But he has not made a request," said the official, who asked not to be identified. . . . Rumsfeld insisted the security situation in Iraq was not spiraling out of control, and added only "relatively small numbers of people" were causing the violence. . . . "There's nothing like an army" or "large elements of hundreds of people trying to overthrow or to change the situation," he said. . . . "You have a mixture of (a) small number of terrorists, a small number of militias, coupled with some demonstrations and some lawlessness.

[COMMENT: See Battles rage across Iraq
for a different picture of what is going on in Iraq at this moment.]

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posted by Lorenzo 2:18 PM

The War President Mosaic
I strongly urge everyone to read the story of this powerful image and then spend a little time looking at the image itself. As the artist says:

I'd also like to point out that 'War President' is an image. It is not a textual statement or rhetorical argument. An image is like an empty room and any message that one reads in that room necessarily came in the baggage one carried when one walked in the door. If I made a mosaic of George Washington composed of images of the American dead from the revolution, would viewers likely take that image as an indictment of Washington? I submit that they would not. It would be viewed as a monument to the dead and a celebration of a great leader, a somewhat maudlin monument maybe but surely not offensive. The fact that 'War President' is not viewed such a manner is not due to any intrinsic property of 'War President' but lies somewhere else.

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 1:52 PM

White House withholds Rice speech
(MSNBC News Services, April 06, 2004)
The White House has refused to provide the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a speech that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was to have delivered on the night of the attacks touting missile defense as a priority rather than al-Qaida, sources close to the commission said Tuesday. With Rice scheduled to publicly testify Thursday before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, the commission submitted a last-minute request for Rice's aborted Sept. 11 address, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity. But the White House has so far refused on the grounds that draft documents are confidential, the sources said. Trent Duffy, a spokesman for the White House, said only: "The White House is working with the commission to ensure that it has access to what it needs to do its job."

******But only what the WH deems it necessary for them to do their job, not what the commission thinks they need to do their job. After all, this IS an unbiased and independent commission, doncha know. But, that's just this old curmudgeon's opinion.********
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 8:41 AM

Uprising in Iraq could derail Bush
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, April 7, 2004)
President George Bush was yesterday struggling to prevent the escalating violence in Iraq from engulfing his re-election campaign, after his worst political week this year triggered bipartisan calls for a rethink of US strategy there. . . . Fighting spread across the country as the US-led coalition fought a two-front war against Sunni rebels concentrated in the western town of Falluja and a radical Shia uprising in south and central Iraq. . . . Thirty American soldiers and 130 Iraqis have been killed since the weekend in Falluja, where heavy combat continued last night. . . . In the southern Iraqi town of Amara, British troops killed 15 Iraqis in clashes with followers of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and another 15 Iraqis died in fighting with Italian troops in Nassiriya. Bulgarian and Polish troops also suffered casualties. . . . However, with even Republicans warning of the imminent danger of a civil war in Iraq, and the administration's handling of the terrorist threat under increasing scrutiny, the president's image as a wartime leader is taking a battering. . . . The news that Tony Blair is flying to the US next week for consultations has only added to the sense of crisis. . . . Opinion polls show Mr Bush's approval ratings eroding, despite spending $40m (£22m) on campaign advertising in the past month. A survey by the Pew Research Centre found only 43% of Americans thought the presi dent was doing a good job, down four points from last month and 13 points from January. The poll, taken before the disastrous weekend in Iraq, showed a majority of the population disapproved of the way Mr Bush had handled the situation there. . . . The timing of the commission's hearings has proved a windfall for the Democrats, who have seized on the apparent disarray in the administration's policy. . . . John Kerry, the party's presidential candidate, said: "It is a mistake to set an arbitrary date, and I hope that date has nothing to do with the elections here in the United States. The test of a turnover of sovereignty is the stability of Iraq." . . . Edward Kennedy, his fellow Democratic senator from Massachusetts, described Iraq as "George Bush's Vietnam". . . . Other members of the president's party, raised the alarm over the emergence of the Shia militia and general unravelling of security. Senator Chuck Hagel, told the Washington Post the US was "dangerously close" to losing control in Iraq. . . . Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, responded to calls for reinforcements by saying that the US military presence in Iraq was unusually high at 135,000.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 7:58 PM

Will the 2004 Election Be Called Off?
(Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash.com, April 6, 2004)
On Dec. 31, 2003, New York Times columnist and former Nixon speech writer William Safire offered his standard New Year's predictions. This time, however, one item stood out. . . . Safire predicted that "the 'October surprise' affecting the U.S. election" would be "a major terror attack in the United States." . . . In Nov. 2003, you might recall, Gen. Tommy Franks told Cigar Aficionado magazine that a major terrorist attack (even one that occurred elsewhere in the Western world), would likely result in a suspension of the U.S. Constitution and the installation of a military form of government. . . . Right around the same time, former Clinton administration official David Rothkopf made similarly distressing observations. In a Washington Post op-ed entitled, "Terrorist Logic: Disrupt the 2004 Election," he described a meeting in which nearly 75 percent of the professional participants (characterized as "serious people, not prone to hysteria or panic") also foresaw another terrorist attack occurring on American soil before the next election. . . . Saying that "history suggests that striking during major elections is an effective tool for terrorist groups," Rothkopf explained why terrorists will most likely target us soon. And though he and Safire made these observations months before terrorists changed Spain's political landscape, they were not alone in thinking along such lines. . . . The New York Times also reported on the possibility that Al Qaeda would try to "influence the outcome of the election" by striking U.S. oil refineries. "The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned the Texas oil industry of potential attacks by Al Qaeda on pipelines and refineries near the time of the November presidential election," the Times reported. . . . Sean Hannity twisted things further. "If we are attacked before our election like Spain was, I am not so sure that we should go ahead with the election," he reportedly said. "We had better make plans now because it's going to happen." . . . Saying that a pre-election terrorist attack is not a question of "if" but "when," Limbaugh concluded that should anyone but Bush occupy the White House, the terrorists will have won. . . . In an article entitled, "When the War Hits Home: U.S. Plans for Martial Law, Tele-Governance and the Suspension of Elections," Madsen and Stanton delved into the more frightening aspects of what might be in store. "One incident, one aircraft hijacked, a 'dirty nuke' set off in a small town, may well prompt the Bush regime, let's say during the election campaign of 2003-2004, to suspend national elections for a year while his government ensures stability," they wrote. "Many closed door meetings have been held on these subjects and the notices for these meetings have been closely monitored by the definitive www.cryptome.org. . . . To make matters worse, if martial law is imposed, Air Force General Ralph E. Eberhart will be able to blast through Posse Comitatus and deploy troops to America's streets. Gen. Eberhart, you might recall, is the former Commander of NORAD, which was in charge of protecting America's skies on Sept. 11. But instead of being scrutinized for NORAD's massive failures, he was promoted and now heads the Pentagon's Northern Command. . . . Which brings us to the inevitable (and most important) question. How primed is the American public to accept suspended elections, martial law, or whatever else the White House decides to "market"? . . . Though it seems surreal that people are actually wagering that another terrorist attack will occur on our soil by November (and it's even more bizarre that on-air personalities are calling for the suspension of elections), the fact that this un-elected gang who barreled into power and forever changed the course of a nation, is so completely untrustworthy makes the situation even more disturbing. . . . If the truth continues to seep out about the way the Bush administration has failed us, suspending the election may be the only way Bush can win. . . . My darkest fear is that G.W.'s handlers believe this, too.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:28 PM

Leaders of 9/11 Panel Say Attacks Were Probably Preventable
(Philip Shenon, New York Times, April 5, 2004)
The leaders of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks agreed Sunday that evidence gathered by their panel showed the attacks could probably have been prevented. . . . In a joint television interview, the commission's chairman, Thomas H. Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey, and its vice chairman, Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic House member from Indiana, indicated that their final report this summer would find that the Sept. 11 attacks were preventable. . . . They also suggested that Ms. Rice, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, would be questioned aggressively on Thursday about why the administration had not taken more action against Al Qaeda before Sept. 11, and about discrepancies between her public statements and those of Richard A. Clarke, the president's former counterterrorism chief, who has accused the administration of largely ignoring terrorist threats in 2001. . . . Mr. Kean also cited the "lack of coordination within the F.B.I." and the bureau's failures to grapple with the implications of the August 2001 arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen who was arrested while in flight school and was later linked to the terrorist cell that carried out the attacks. . . . Commission officials say current and former officials of the F.B.I., especially the former director Louis J. Freeh, and Attorney General John Ashcroft are expected to be harshly questioned by the 10-member panel at a hearing later this month about the Moussaoui case and other law enforcement failures before Sept. 11. . . . Mr. Kean and other members of the commission also agreed in interviews Sunday that the Bush administration's skepticism about the Clinton administration's national security policies might have led the Bush White House to pay too little attention to the threat of Al Qaeda.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:32 PM

Is Condoleezza Going To Stop Smiling?
(Peter Beaumont, The Observer, April 4, 2004)
This week President Bush's National Security Adviser, and his most trusted aide, will be grilled on why she failed to warn her government about the attacks of 11 September. . . . Between games of tennis, boat trips, and hours spent on the house's back porch, Bush's future National Security Adviser would begin to give form to what would become the Bush foreign policy doctrine, a credo that would owe as much to the elegant and sardonic African-American professor from Alabama as to Bush himself. . . . The first to brief the President each morning - and often the last to speak to him at night - is Condoleezza Rice. She now finds herself beset, charged with failing to grasp the greatest threat facing the US (global terrorism) and to recognise the crucial warning signs that should have alerted the White House to catastrophic suicide hijackings of 9/11. . . . It is Rice who has come to be the cypher for all the alleged failings of the Bush White House. And on Thursday, when she gives her evidence before that commission, her performance will be judged not only for its personal impact, but its implications for Bush's re-election prospects in November. . . . Allocated her own cottage in the grounds of Camp David, the Presidential retreat, it is with Rice - who would like to be an National Football League commissioner - with whom the President sits down to watch football. They share the same deep faith - evangelical protestantism. But there is something more than that. The Bushes have formed an emotional connection with the resolutely single Rice that some suggest is that of a 'surrogate daughter', despite their closeness in age. . . . But if there is resentment over her access to the President, there is a suggestion too that there are government professionals from State, the Pentagon, FBI and CIA - never sure whether to be intimidated by Condi or to patronise her - who are seeking revenge for the White House's use of Condoleezza Rice as the point woman in its 2002 campaign to blame everyone but itself, notably the CIA and FBI, for 'failing to connect the dots' of the warnings prior to 9/11. . . . It is an assertive role that Rice has fine-tuned as National Security Adviser to Bush junior, telling both officials and visiting premiers (Israel's Ariel Sharon among them) where to get off. . . . Among those who got the treatment was Richard Haass, former policy director at the State department who recalled a meeting with Rice in July 2002 to discuss whether Iraq should be a priority: 'Basically she cut me off and said, "Save your breath - the President has already decided what he's going to do on this.'" . . . the foreign policies of the Bush presidency throughout its international crises have all borne the stamp of the Rice credo. . . . Rice insisted the guiding principals of America in the world should be the balance of power and national interest, not humanitarian interventions - a somewhat cold-hearted formulation . . . It is a unilateralist formulation that would back-fire on the Bush White House when it later needed friends ... through its dismissive treatment of the UN, its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and tearing up of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. If Rice shared these convictions with many other senior figures in the administration, her critics are now pointing to specific failings of Rice alone. It was Rice, they say, who briefed the President on the discredited claim that British intelligence had uncovered an Iraqi plot to procure terrorism - a claim for which both Bush and Rice had to apologise. And it was Rice who suggested to the American people in a television interview the image of a mushroom cloud over the US if Saddam was not dealt with. . . . Now it is Rice who is being accused of having dropped the ball over al-Qaeda . . . Rice's own anger over the accusations has been apparent both in the photographs of her, face convulsed with anger, and in the uncharacteristic and vigorous self-defence she has delivered of both herself and Bush's White House on television following the Clarke allegations. Interviews that have revealed Rice at her most assertive. [Also see "Condoleezza, Please Stop Smiling"] . . . If her enemies are expecting to neutralise George Bush's closest confidante, they may be surprised.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 5:28 PM

Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Mission Statement:
Students for Sensible Drug Policy is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.
Values Statement
SSDP is a non-violent youth oriented organization that neither encourages nor condemns drug use. Rather, we seek to reduce the harms caused by drug abuse and drug policies.

We believe that in order to protect the autonomy of individuals' minds, bodies and spirit, drug laws and policies must always respect personal choice and freedom so long as a person's actions do not infringe upon another's freedoms or safety.

SSDP focuses on drug issues with the greatest impact on young and underrepresented communities. We strive to achieve sustainable policies that foster civil rights, health and safety through the exploration of alternatives to our current Drug War.

[COMMENT: In a recent editorial in High Times, Richard Stratton had this to say about SSDP:
SSDP, with over 200 chapters on college campuses around the country, has the potential to become the Students for a Democratic Society of the new millennium. . . . It's about time the fools and liars and greedy scumbags who run this country stopped spewing their paraquat-coated bullshit long enough to listen. And it's up to you, the young, the not so young, the open-minded, the students and citizens for a sensible drug policy, to be heard.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:27 PM

Bush's Stupidity ... in his own words
[COMMENT: The following is from a transcript of a recent speech Bush gave. (The link above will take you to the full text of this speech on the White House Web site.) Excerpts are printed here as an example of the infantile level of Bush's mind. This man doesn't have the brains to be a prison guard, let alone the leader of the Earth's biggest Empire. The inbreeding of the power elite has finally caught up with that of royalty.]

It's better to be a wealthy nation than a poor nation. But nevertheless, that's not our strength. . . . We weren't thinking about attacks in the scale of which they attacked us. It was a new thought for America. After all, most of us baby boomers grew up thinking that oceans would protect us forever. [COMMENT: If those oceans were so protective, then why was Bush focused on Star Wars instead of terrorism?] . . . That's one of the lessons of September the 11th. We just can't sit back and hope that oceans protect us now. . . . People in the country are beginning to understand that there is a -- you're responsible for loving your children. [COMMENT: I guess he added that last thought to force his mother into loving the jerk-off he's become.]

. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:27 PM

Bush Aides Block Clinton's Papers From 9/11 Panel
(PHILIP SHENON and DAVID E. SANGER, The New York Times, April 2, 2004)
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said on Thursday that it was pressing the White House to explain why the Bush administration had blocked thousands of pages of classified foreign policy and counterterrorism documents from former President Bill Clinton's White House files from being turned over to the panel's investigators. The White House confirmed on Thursday that it had withheld a variety of classified documents from Mr. Clinton's files that had been gathered by the National Archives over the last two years in response to requests from the commission, which is investigating intelligence and law enforcement failures before the attacks. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said some Clinton administration documents had been withheld because they were "duplicative or unrelated," while others were withheld because they were "highly sensitive" and the information in them could be relayed to the commission in other ways. "We are providing the commission with access to all the information they need to do their job," Mr. McClellan said. In February, Mr. Lindsey said, he complained to the commission's staff director, Philip D. Zelikow. He said he renewed his complaint in a meeting with Mr. Zelikow last month. Mr. Felzenberg, the commission's spokesman, said that after the meeting, Mr. Zelikow and other staff members began pressing the White House for an explanation of what had happened. "The commission has voiced Mr. Lindsey's concern to the White House," he said. "We made the concerns known and we are awaiting a definitive answer."

*******And the definitive answer is, of course, stall until after the report is issued.******
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:38 AM

Bush campaign calls Kerry's Biblical criticism 'exploitation of Scripture'
(Nedra Pickler, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mar 28, 2004)
John Kerry cited a Bible verse Sunday to criticize leaders who have "faith but has no deeds," prompting President Bush's spokesman to accuse Kerry of exploiting Scripture for a political attack. Kerry never mentioned Bush by name during his speech at New North Side Baptist Church, but aimed his criticism at "our present national leadership." Kerry cited Scripture in his appeal for the worshippers, including James 2:14, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?" "The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said. "When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?" Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry's comment "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack."

From Wonkette.com, examples of the little bush quoting scripture all over the place - though it is mostly like a broken record...
• Remarks by the President to the NCAA Sports Champions: "And you have a responsibility as a champ to make the right choices. . . And we all have a responsibility to love a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourself."
• President Rallies First Responders in Georgia: "We're a nation who will show the world our true face. By not only putting a military in place that's well paid, well trained, well equipped, but also by loving a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourself." (Hey, who doesn't like a man in uniform!)
• President Says U.S. Must Make Commitment to Mental Health Care: "It's kind of off the subject, but really not off the subject, because one of the things I try to do when I go into communities is herald soldiers in the armies of compassion, those souls who have heard the call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself."
• Remarks by the President at Cuban Independence Day Event: "The reason I bring up Emilio is I say oftentimes to Americans who want to -- how best they can participate in our country, how best to fight evil is to do some good; is to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself."
• Remarks by the President on Teaching American History and Civic Education: "And one of the things our youngsters and those of us not quite so young can do -- and this is important -- is to celebrate patriotism by loving your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself." (I think is what Michael Jackson was saying the other day, too.)
• Remarks by the President at Reception for "Keep Our Majority" PAC: "We're tough on the battlefield; we're really tough. But also at home, neighbors love neighbors more than ever before."

Kerry must have forgotten that the Neocons have exclusive rights to Scripture these days...
. . . Read more!

posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:08 AM

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