Archives 2005

Jul      Aug      Sep      Oct      Nov      Dec
UK Torture Memos concerning human rights abuses in Uzbekistan (They like to boil dissidents alive there).  AmericaBlog has picture of Rumsfeld being all chummy with the Uzbek dictator.

The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful".

The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture.

When all else fails, let's beat up on Venezuela!

James Wolcott takes a disturbing look at right-wing warbloggers. 

Professor Juan Cole examines 10 myths about Iraq.  Well worth reading, especially for points
1 - the idea that tbe guerrilla war is being waged "in only four provinces" and
4 - Iraqis are grateful for the US presence.

Also, MediaMatters examines the top 12 myths about the spying scandal.  Especially noteworthy are points
5 - the idea that only Democrats are troubled by it and
6 - the debate is between preserving civil liberties versus preventig terrorism.

What are the Republicans hiding NOW?!?!
An anonymous Senate Republican has placed a hold on the Intelligence Authorization bill because two amendments calling for increased oversight of Bush Administration policies were added to the budget authorization. The amendments called for oversight of the "black prison" issues and for more detailed information on the array of intelligence which was available to the Adminsitration prior to the start of the Iraq War.

Looks like the projected invasion of Syria will have to either be delayed or re-thought entirely.  China & India have jointly purchased a  37% stake in Syrian oil fields.

Well, so much for the latest "purple finger moment".  Riots break out in Iraq over last week's election.
Oh, and Tom Daschle (Former Democratic Minority Leader) says he did NOT authorize the NSA spying.

Michael Berube examines the NSA spying case via Jose Padilla's case.  He also looks at  faux-conservatives who (in my words) "sing the praises of Dear Leader Bush and whack away at liberal traitors but who have no core beliefs of their own."

More defections on the NSA domestic spying issue.  Seriously pathetic excuse from an Air Force General.
Atrios brings up a very good point.  DailyKos whacks a Republican talking point. 
James Wolcott looks at conservative disillusionment over Iraq elections.
Clear victory for science over Intelligent Design a.k.a. Creatinism a.k.a. Biblical literalism

The Iraq Project is over.  The project to turn a Middle Eastern  country into a corporate-friendly, pro-western colony has failed.  The pro-western puppet Iyad Allawi ran for Prime Minister and got a pathetically miserable 14% of the vote.  The people who want US troops to leave got a solid majority.  Digby points out that Americanns are becoming exhausted with all the "purple finger moments".
Even Fox News has admitted that Bush had no legal reason to wiretap American citizens en masse via the NSA.  DailyKos looks at previous wiretapping cases and shows that the likely targets are more likely to be vegans, Quakers, environmentalists and peaceniks than anyone who's a danger to Americans.

Blogging the President's latest speech.  What exactly does "victory" mean and who gets to define the term?
Also, Rice and Bush try, unsuccessfully, to explain that the President's action in the NSA spying case are legal. 

DailyKos assesses the latest Iraqi election and "Forgive those of us underwhelmed by such rosy predictions." but the US appears to have brought to power a fundamentalist Islamic party with strong ties to Iran

Jane of firedoglake has some good links up on the NSA-Bush has been spying on Americans for the past several years-unnamed Congressional leaders knew but kept it all under wraps-The NY Times knew before the 2004 Presidential Election, but didn't say anything beforehand scandal/possible looming impeacment (We hope, we hope, we hope!!!).  Digby has a great post up on the theories behind all of this.  Rep Miller makes the argument that Attorney General Gonzales should recuse himself from the case.
But hey, we liberal bloggers are all so humorless anyway, right? And yeah, I have to admit, this piece had me grinning from ear to ear.

An Iraqi comments on the crediblity of elections held while under military occupation.
Two quickie pieces of good news about the Bush Administration doing something right for a change.
Now it appears that the NSA was spying on Americans for no good reason.  And apparently, Bush has now decided he can comment on some ongoing investigations, but not others.

Hell freezes over, pigs fly, Bush admits "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq,"

Atrios reprints hilarious commentary on the right wing's newest boogeyman, the "War on Christmas".
Fisking of Bush's speech and we reproduce some of Monique's photos here.

Yahoo! has a copy of the Bush speech (Long - 26 kilobyes).  Same-o, same-o.  Standard, basic ordinary stuff with a few minor new twists.

Bush refers to US Constitution as a
"goddamned piece of paper"
Earlier, he wanted Republican Congressional leaders to arrange renewal of the Patriot Act in toto.  When challenged, he said "
“I don’t give a goddamn, “I’'m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”"  When an aide suggested that the Constitution was inconsistent with some provisions of the Patriot Act "Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,"” Bush screamed back. "“It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”"
UPDATE:  The above was placed into  the comments field of a blog, the LeftCoaster went back, got the whole story and posted it.  The comments that followed agreed that the story sounds highly credible, but that CHB may not be all that trustworthy a source.
CHB responds. 
Examination of status of the "Coalition of the Willing" (Hint: they don't seem to be very willing lately.)
Also, blog post on recent statements by Rice & Bolton.

Concerning Bush's apperance on Dec 12th, The Shalom Center points out:

EACH LUNCH COSTS $10,000 TO THE ULTRA-RICH WHO COME TO NOSH & MINGLE. (And let's not forget -- to wangle -- new unbid contracts & more subsidies.)


(While the Bush Budget cuts food stamps for the malnourished. How else can we motivate the lazy bums to work hard enough and get rich enough to afford lunch with the Commander-in-Chief?)

Posted on the site is a NY Times article that briefly appeared Wednesday aroud noontime and that disappeared from view shortly thereafter.  Reading it, it's very easy to imagine Karl Rove getting on the phone to top Times' editors and screaming that they had better remove it or their dog will be poisoned, their wife's workplace will be robbed, their trash colector will "accidently" dump loads of trash into their swimming pools. etc., etc.
UPDATE: The story has been restored to the Times site.  A correction has been added to it  concerning a misstatement by the German chancellor.  So much for THAT conspiracy theory.

Rep Murtha reveals that the Iraq War wll cost another $100 billion.  World War I cost nearly $205 billion (In constat 2005 dollars), the Korean War cost about $361 billion, the current projected cost of the Iraq War is about $427 billion.  Vietnam, which lasted eight years, cost over $531 billion.
Also, LeftCoaster compares Pearl Harbor with the Iraq War.

Ahhh, this is good stuff.

Israelis to Bush administration 'transformation of the Middle East' wingnuts: Please chill!

Just out from JTA ...

Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.

At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.

U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be “transformative” and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place. Israel and the United States favor pressure on Syria to force it to stop hosting Palestinian terrorist groups and supporting Hezbollah, a Lebanese terrorist organization.

I guess since we've never overthrown a secular Arab strongman only to have the whole thing blow up in our face, it's just hard to know whether the Israelis' concerns might be well grounded.

-- Josh Marshall

Washington Post (Article reprinted with commentary in DailyKos) reveals that German sources have confirmed the illegal interrogation of al Qaeda suspects.  Also, the CIA has confessed to about three dozen "erroneous renditions".

Members of PRAWN have argued that, due to the business ties between members of the Bush Administration and Iranian government figures, Iran and the US are actually allies.  Still, based on a "What would I do if I were them?" analysis, the news that Iran is obtaining Russian anti-aircraft missles raises some very uncomfortable visions about what would happen if US air superiority in the region were to be seriously threatened.
The highly respected commentator Juan Cole weighs in.

November                         back to top

Reaction to Bush's speech from Left Blogistan (or the Left Blogosphere) is "Ho-hum", "What's so new about it?", "When are we gonna get a real plan?", etc.

Sibel Edmond's case refused without comment by Supreme Court.  Edmonds was the whistle-blower who discovered that the US did indeed have advance warning about 9-11.  The case against her being able to reveal anything represents a significan expansion of the
"state secrets" law.
Oh, good grief!  Now the US appears to be losing weapons/technology superority to India and Russia!  Long piece (22 kilobytes) examining recent war game competitions.  Also, a look at Venezuela.

Bush Administration rushes for the exit doors of Iraq as campagin ploy. 

Amusing blog post as true-believer Republican denounces Senators who voted to require regular reports on Iraq War progress.  As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show put it, "Bush wasn't already making such reports?"

Sidney Blumenthal peeks behind the curtain to see what the blogger Billmon has long called the "Cheney Administration". 

Excellent news on Jose Padilla!!   Whether he's ultimately found guilty of anything is beside the point, the point is that his case should never have been outside the justice system  He should have had a trial and he should have had access to counsel. 
Oh, and Bush's suggestion that al-Jazeera be bombed was not a joke.

No more excuses!!  Iraqis request timetable for troop withdrawal from US. 

LiberalOasis examines the Rumsfeld vs Murtha debate.  Not looking good for Rummy's side.  Interestingly, the article set against Krauthammer's article on evolution in today's Inquirer has exactly the same weakness.  Both Rummy and the anti-evolutionist dodge the central question that their opponents pose.  The anti-evolutionist dances around the falsification question and Rummy hems and haws about the question of whether an American pullout would help or hurt the cause of true Iraqi independence.  Clever evasiveness will only take a debater so far.

Today is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) trials  at Nürnberg, Germany.  Check out the Nürnberg archive project as well.
Death squads come to Iraq? probably just dawned on the architects of the Salvadoran Option that while they thought they were riding with the bad boys, the bad boys were out riding with the Iranian secret police, who don't need any Spanish lessons on how to run a dirty war.

Boston Globe writes up good summary of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and his speech challenging Bush Administration's and pro-war Democrat's view on Iraq War.
Commentaries on White Phosphourus.
Also, what exactly have detentions in Iraq accomplsihed?  Not much, apparently.

In what should have been an entirely predictable ocurrence, Tom DeLay and others decided quite some years back that they wanted Republicans to not only dominate government, but the K Street lobbyists as well.  Well, that project has worked a little too well.  Lobbyists are now complaining that Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi is ignoring them!  Let's hear it: Awwwww!

Habeas Corpus is about the oldest legal bulwark against tyranny (Could properly be termed the "Grandfather of all Constitutional Rights")
Senator McCain voted to support the Graham amendment, even though it would strip the authority of the only institution outside the executive branch itself to which prisoners could appeal--the Supreme Court. Without Court oversight, the very officials who have been implicated in prisoner abuse will remain judge, jury, and jailer -- and will be in a position to permit torture with impunity. Those who support both the McCain amendment and the Graham amendment are caught in a contradiction, essentially saying that the government can outlaw torture and allow it too.

World O'Crap usually takes hilarious looks at right-wing blogs.  This post, it takes a serious look at the recent WaPo article challenging Bush's claims and the Bush Administration response to the article.

The Poor Man looks at the new web-venture Pajamas Media (Bloggers often wake up, do a blog post, shower, dress and eat, in that order) and finds it an utterly unimpressive outfit.  Their organization is notable because Judith Miller of the NY Times spoke at their opening meeting.  BTW, they fired 230 of their 300 employees and their office in New York City is a mail-drop with a single employee.

Four claims that Joseph Wilson revealed his wife's (Valerie Plame) CIA status before Robert Novak outed her.  All four are highly questionable.  Lengthy report - 20 kilobytes.

Intel-Dump examines Bush's latest pro-war speech.  Note to Hillary Clinton:  Bush is conflating anti-war critics and Democrats, meaning your attempts to be a pro-war Democrat are probably doomed to irrelevance.
Left-Coaster looks at WaPo's examination of the same lies.

Supreme Court nominee Judge Alito promised that he would recuse himself in all cases involving his sister's company.  Three times a case involving her company came before him and three times he failed to recuse himself. 
Oh, and bad news for paranoids, tin-foil hats do not block radio signals.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!!  Democrats sweep Election 2005!
So much news today, here's a summary.

Bump in the Beltway contributes a long (22 kilobytes) piece on the upcoming Avian Flu pandemic.
Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson sez: Yeah, the Iraq War has always been about oil.
RAI24 News does documenatry about war crimes in Fallujah, detailing use of forbidden weapons.

Allegations of torture camps in Eastern Europe and Vice-President Cheney's lobbying for a torture exemption make Bush's claims of US moral superiority to Hugo Chavez highly questionable.

Current criticism on Judge Alito is not just that he's a radical right-winger, but that he's unfaithful to the law.

Along with the NY Times story on pre-war intel, here's some background on the Paris riots and it appears the whole torture question was pivotal to the whole "Iraq is a deadly threat" idea.

Five years after telling the country that honesty and integrity would return to the White House, Bush told his staff to attend ethics training next week
The WaPo has a new section where they link to all the blogs commenting on an individual story.  For this story, the blogs (quite properly) regard the Bush Administration's PR damage control effort as a complete joke.  And no, the article says nothing about torture camps in Eastern Europe. "Ethics" includes only problems which are of domestic political concern.

On NPR yesterday, the former chief of staff to the secretary of state said that he had uncovered a "visible audit trail" tracing the practice of prisoner abuse by U.S. soldiers directly back to Vice President Cheney's office.

Here's the audio of Wilkerson's interview with Steve
Fun fact: Cheney's approval rating is down to 19%! 

45% of the public considered the Clinton scandal of Whitewater to be "of little or no importance".  51% consider the "Plamegate" CIA leak to be  "of great importance".  That's just two points shy of Watergate!
Also, William F Buckley leaves the conservative camp and joins the Reality-Based Coalition!

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid changes the subject!  Majority Leader Bill Frist reduced to helpless frustration.  Senate finally committed to investigate how Bush Administration dealt with bogus WMD intel.  Shot fired across bow of Republicans who wanted to use the "nuclear option".

October                         back to top

Bush goes with far right wing in choice of Supreme Court nominee.  Alito would overturn the Family and Medical Leave Act; Alito has ruled in favor of race-based and disability discrimination; he would overturn Roe v. Wade; and for the topper, he ruled that there was nothing wrong with the strip-searching of a ten year-old girl who wasn’t the subject of a search warrant.

Iraqi reconstruction projects rendered politically irrelevent by lack of planning. A well-planned reconstruction would not have defeated the insurgency (For instance, the idea of bringing democracy to Iraq ignored the impact of upsetting the power balance between the Sunnis and the Shiites. As the Shiites were in a subordinate position, true democracy would have put them in control, meaning the Sunnis would have fought US troops in any event.) But neither is there any question that an incompetent reconstruction hastened the development of the insurgency and left supporters of the American occupation without any compelling reason to say why the US "wore the white hat".
Lewis Libby, Vice-President Cheney's Chief of Staff is so far, the only one busted in Plamegate. If the opera is over when "the fat lady sings" (A reference to the Ring of the Nibelung set of operas) she hasn't even come up to the stage yet.

Numerous contradictory accounts of upcoming charges from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzpatrick in Plamegate/Treasongate case.  Also, LeftCoaster has extensive background stories on where the Niger Uranium tale first came from (The forged documents were the only source, btw.)

Looks like Judith Miller will no longer be working for the NY Times. Oh, and the WaPo editorial board comes out against torture!

The New York Sun tells of being with Ahmed Chalabi in early 2002, when he received a call from Judith Miller.  She was complaining about being scooped on a WMD story:
Mr. Chalabi, after hanging up, made some comment to the effect that the defector was probably tired of waiting to have the story be cleared by Times editors. Ms. Miller was annoyed at being scooped, which is the instinct of a real reporter.
Okay, but let's remember: NONE of the WMD stories Judith told turned out to be TRUE!!

Washington DC appears to be deliberately trying to start up a war with Syria.  A Congresswoman receives a letter explaining how Syria is being "set up to fail". 
Also, Cheney gets fingered in Plamegate and it seems Libby "forgot" to inform Fitzgerald of the Veeps involvement.

The 15 October vote passed off mostly peacefully, prompting euphoric statements from Washington. The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, quickly announced that the constitution had probably been approved.
But it seems Ms Rice was speaking way too soon, provoking anger among both Iraqi and Western officials working in the country.
Another BBC article suggested on Sunday that about 5% of the votes had been counted.

Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph.
Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops.

PressThink takes a long (24 kilobytes) hard look at NY Times reporter Judith Miller's alleged "security clearance" and how that might have shaped her reporting.  Judy's editor Bill Keller admits that the Times did not "debrief" Miller thoroughly and regrets not doing so.

Liberal Oasis examines the latest conservative defense against indictments over Plamegate - whining.
Secretary of State Rice estimates US fighting in Iraq for at least decade longer.  Asked about possible plans to attack Iran and/or Syria, Rice replies "I don’t think the President ever takes any of his options off the table concerning anything to do with military force.”

Two years ago, Bush was having his press secretary telling everybody that "The President knows [Karl Rove] wasn't involved." and "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information."
Now though, we learn that "An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair"

NY Daily News: "Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch."

Little touchy aren't we?  Progressive radio host gets show cancelled after Alison Barber hears herself being mocked for having micro-managed Bush's  October 13th videoconference with several soldiers, an Iraqi and a public-relations person (Announced on the air as being just a regular soldier).

New York Times finally write article on "First Amendment heroine" Judith Miller here and here.
The editor of Editor & Publisher slams the NY Times for allowing Miller to taint the newspaper's reputation.
We point out that the papers justification is contradictory.  LSF looks at possible financial motivations.  Arianna Huffington highlights very disturbing reference in NY Times article.. 

Friendly Fire from Today in Iraq looks at Iraq before the vote on the new constitution.
How did the vote turn out?  Not so hot. Hey, guess who's come out against the war?  Margaret Thatcher!!!

So sad when liberal columnists go bad.  This is probably the stupidest column this month.  If this were over a religious issue, we'd be shouting "Repent, sinner!"  Richard Cohen of the WaPo completely misunderstands the Plame case.
What the case means.

Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit [into the Plame/Wilson/Niger uranium scandal]  now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy.

Senator Arlen Specter does good!  We can begin our letters of praise by saying "I oppose everything you stand for, BUT..."
Specter says he wants James Dobson to reveal what he was told in private White House briefing on Harriet Meirs. "If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out."
UPDATE 10/12: Detailed analysis of Dobson's latest remarks and Liberal Oasis conclusively demonstrates that Dobson is lying.

The News Blog very pointedly notes that the terrorist warning for New York's subways just happened to coincide with a mayoral debate in the Apollo Theater in the African-American section of town. 

Even the reporters on NY1 wanted to call bullshit.


First of all, the feds were laughing at this sudden "emergency", and were all over TV saying it was "not credible".

UPDATE 10/9: Officials: Subway threat remains uncorroborated

When Ann Coulter (Whom we were snarky about a few days ago)

turns her venom on Bush, well, we just have to quote her :-)
First, Bush has no right to say "Trust me." He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years. Among the coalitions that elected Bush are people who have been laboring in the trenches for a quarter-century to change the legal order in America. While Bush was still boozing it up in the early '80s, Ed Meese, Antonin Scalia, Robert Bork and all the founders of the Federalist Society began creating a farm team of massive legal talent on the right...
Da-yum!  Annie-girl sounds like one-a them thar librul types!

Interesting that Avian Flu Awareness Week would happen to coincide with the Senate putting $3.9 billion into flu preparation and Democrats raising concerns about the government that allowed Katrina to be such a deadly storm.   That'll work.

Consensus on the liberal blogs appears to be that the proposed appointment of Harriet Meirs to the Supreme Court has:
...left many conservatives feeling angry and deflated, if not betrayed, greatly exacerbating a problem that has been growing more acute for weeks because of the right's concern about unchecked government spending following Hurricane Katrina
However, Liberal Oasis points out that:
“disappointed base” does not equal “moderate judge.”And should not equal “Dem support.”

and that:

To stand down on Miers, as was done on Roberts, is to fail in explaining to the public what Democrats and liberals stand for.

BTW, this week is Avian Flu Awareness Week on the blogs, so I'll be posting some stuff on that this week.

Just as we suspected!
Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

Near the end of a round table discussion on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos dropped this bomb:

Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.

This would explain why Bush spent more than an hour answering questions from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It would also fundamentally change the dynamics of the scandal. President Bush could no longer claim he was merely a bystander who wants to “get to the bottom of it.” As Stephanopoulos notes, if Bush played a direct role it could make this scandal completely unmanageable.

UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has the video.

September                         back to top

Do progressives "love to hate" Ann Coulter?  Nah, but it amuses us to be snarky about her.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!  Hullbaloo reviews all of the legal trouble the Bush Administration is in.  DailyKos reprints some right-wing whining and delivers the smackdown.

The impending cakewalk in Iran is an article that charges that Iran is next on the hit list and that the US has gotten the necessary resolutions passed in the UN to begin the march t the next war.

AmericaBlog examines website alleged to show gruesome pictures submitted by American soldiers in Iraq.  Unfortunately, AmericaBlog concludes that the site is real and shows recent photos  (The blog shows censored, sanitized versions, but includes links to the real ones.) 

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan has long been a favorite of anti-war folks for his realistic, clear-eyed views and intimately detailed  knowledge of the Middle East..   He has reluctantly supported the US military presence in Iraq feeling that, all things considered, it was doing more good than harm.  He has now taken a look at the latest prisoner abuses by the 82nd Airborne and the attack on Tal Afar and the evaporatioon of political successes elswhere and concludes that the US would best serve itself and Iraq by leaving, unconditionally and right away.
DailyKos examines Administration's pathertic fund-raising effort and it apparently takes an average of a quarter of a million bullets to kill one insurgent. 

Washington Post gives enthusiastic review of march.  Also, DailyKos update links on Hurrican Rita.

The Guardian Blog suggests that as Iraq is schedled to have a vote on their new constitution Oct 15th in any event, why not add a question as to whether they'd like US troops to remain?  Let's have some real democracy here!

Chaos in Iraq!  British (Thought their sector was the quiet area) attack Basra's main police station with tanks and free up to 150 other prisoners while freeing two British people who were in Iraqi (!) custody. 
More details.
Also, CNN's Jack Cafferty slams the Bush Administration on their proposed investigation of Katrina. 81% want an independent investigation, only 18% want Congress to investigate.

NYC Police forcibly break up Cindy Sheehan rally!

Update on how the Iraq War is going with special attention paid to "Iraqification".

At some point one really has to wonder whether FEMA is displaying incompetence or something worse.  Among many other items, it is noted that FEMA is counting on "call centers" to coordinate relief while Louisiana has 310,000 households without phone service.  The number advertised by the President is (unsurprisingly) constantly busy as out of 40 promised call centers, only eight are operational.

Highly recommended reading from Binghamton University about "Katrina: The Politics of Incompetence and Decline"

Bush Administration makes presentation on Iran's "nuclear weapons" to UN, presentation goes over like lead balloon.  Washington Post shows skepticsm.  War with Iran apparently not on agenda for 2nd Bush term

Why do GOP Senators hate America? 

54 US Senators today KILLED legislation establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate what went so horribly wrong with Hurricane Katrina.

76% of Americans want an independent bipartisan commission, like the one that investigated the 9/11 attacks, to investigate what went wrong. In fact, according to the same poll, Americans of all stripes, Republicans and Democrats, are united behind their support for such a commission (64% of all Republicans and 83% of all Democrats want a commission) even though they were aware that the Republicans in Congress are doing their own biased and partisan investigation.

Congressman Conyers makes it official:
“Governor Blanco’s August 27, 2005 request for an emergency
declaration also included her determination...that ‘the incident is of such severity
and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and
affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary
to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the
threat of disaster.” [emphasis added]

16 days after the levees of New Orleans broke, Bush admits responsbility:
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.  "To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

The News Shop provides useful corrective to any impulse to lionize the Governor of Louisiana & Mayor of New Orleans while being very cleaar that the Federal Govt (Bush) was ultimately responsible.

Very, very disturbing.  BellaCiao identifies far too many instances of FEMA rejecting assistance to New Orleans.  Conspiracy theories seem all too plausible. Pandagon gives us still more reason for suspicion.  Smirling Chimp features story on Bush's isolated management style.

More good news: FEMA Director Michael Brown sort-of, kind-of fired as head of FEMA, but route is open to getting a competent person in there.
Also, National Guard stretched thin, says the head of the National Guard Bureau.  A few cracks in the facade?

Uggabugga produces a timelie of the hurricane (Comments "Between Monday and Sunday" are very disturbing and raise serious questions). A trio of students reveal what it was like inside New Orleans after the hurrican and before  federal help arrived and good news we hope, the Democrats have promised to be tough on Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court (Hey, I take my good news where I can get it)

The Bush Administration is now in full "slime & attack" mode.  Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu stops being the sweet and nice doormat and starts aggressively defending her home state. You can thank her here. "...expressions of sympathy were mixed with a worldwide sense of amazement and disgust at the failure of American authorities to effectively deal with the crisis."

In an explicit clash between Republican ideology and humanitarian needs, Grover Norquist is very upset that Congress is considering delaying the "Paris Hilton Tax Cut", the rest of the world, meanwhile, has explicity put itself on the record as favoring the opposite ideology.

Beginning of Katrina crisis now dated from Sunday, August 28 as that's when official letter from Louisiana Governor to the  President requesting a declaration of a major disaster was made. It was known at that point that Katrina was a “Category V Hurricane.” President did not begin work on it until Wednesday, August 31st.

FEMA Head blames the victims:
" help those who are stranded, who chose not to evacuate, who chose not to leave the city..." (emphasis added) There are, of course, several hundred thousand people who could not leave the city due to the lack of transportation.  There were no trains or buses available to evacuate anyone.
Plus -  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice goes shopping.

August                         back to top

Director of FEMA places beginning of knowledge about  New Orleans disaster as early as Monday morning, which means the President should explain why response was two days lateRightwingers are blaming the entertainment industry for their slow response. Also, up to 20 oil rigs in Gulf  of Mexico are now missing, making for possible economic disaster on top of everything else. Billmon takes a long and balanced look at the crisis and provides a list of groups to make donations to.

Liberal Street Fighter comments on the complete absense of leadership concerning the disaster in New Orleans.  Americablog points out that, yes, Bush and the Iraq War are to blame for the scale of the disaster.  Query on American TV News vs the BBC.

Supporters of the Iraq War appear to think that the answer to deepening domestic discontent is better marketing.  A few new slogans, a new paint job, maybe some better speechwriting...

The pressure seems to be getting to Bush:

“I’m not meeting again with that goddamned bitch,” Bush screamed at aides who suggested he meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the war-protesting mother whose son died in Iraq. “She can go to hell as far as I’m concerned!”
“Who gives a flying fuck what the polls say,” he screamed at a recent strategy meeting. “I’m the President and I’ll do whatever I goddamned please. They don’t know shit.”

Jon Stewart talking with Christopher Hitchens on Thursday 25 Aug.
Jon agrees with Chris that “Yes, there are people out there who want to hurt us, the world is a dangerous place.” But then states: “There is reasonable dissent in this counry” on the Iraq War.  Jon's key point is:

[Bush] refuses to answer questions from adults as though we were adults and falls back upon platitudes and phrases and talking points that does a disservice to the goals that he himself shares with the very people that he needs to convince

[Transcription from video outtake mine]
Further transcript

Billmon says: You know, it's almost as if Bush and [Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza] Asefi were sharing the same talking points.
More going on than you think..."That's another thing that I think most Americans don't understand, when you hear about a bombing or attack in Iraq on the news, there are about 20 other bombings or firefights that you don't hear about."
Cindy Sheehan responds to friends & critics

Two takes on Rush Limbaugh Re:  Ms Sheehan.  Writer listens to (Horrors!) typical radio show and Prawnblog covers recent "misquote".

Cindy Sheehan had to return home because her mother suffered a stroke.  Right-wingers were getting quite shrill about her.

LeftCoaster examines why Cindy Sheehan is such a threat to the Republicans in terms of propaganda and framing.

Liberal Oasis points out that Ms Sheehan's protest is resonating because she's asking exactly the right question: "What was the noble cause that my son died for?" and offers suggestions for following up.

38 Members of Congress call upon Bush to meet with Ms Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mother (She lost a son in Iraq) sits outside Crawford, TX for peace.  She has oppo research being done on her. Philadelphia's Gold Star Mother, Celeste Zappala, is joining Cindy and Gold Star Families will keep track of their progress.

Juan Cole has an excellent summary of where Muslim radicals come from.

Bush appoints Bolton.  What does that mean for Iran?  Light of Reason has some ideas:
[I]t is Bolton’s familiarity with and dedication to the usefulness of “politicized intelligence” that makes him so singularly dangerous in this regard, and so useful to the administration. Bolton would be perfectly prepared, and especially well-prepared in terms of his experience with these tactics, to present a willfully, intentionally distorted case for such an attack—a case which deliberately omitted all contrary evidence, and which avoided all unwanted questions

Gee, I wonder when this will make the mainstream news?  The Khaleej Times from the UAE reports that one million Iraqis have signed a petition for the US to withdraw.

July                         back to top

The Second Battle of Falluja started right after the US election in November.  When did it end?  It's still going on.
On Sunday, the police were hard at work adding razor wire and new concrete blast barriers to the already sprawling fortifications around their main station in the center of town while US and Iraqi army patrols traversed the main street, the Iraqis firing their rifles in the air to clear traffic.

Vice President Cheney's office has specifically told the Pentagon that the military should be prepared for an attack on Iran in the immediate aftermath of "another 9-11." That's "not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States," notes Giraldi. The WaPo has more details.

Pictures and descriptions of Emergency Truth Convergence in Washington DC July 22-24.

The vast majority of these foreign fighters [in Iraq fighting American troops] are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.

Rep Henry Waxman has published a PDF that explains SF 312 and how it relates to Karl Rove's leaking of the identity of a CIA agent working on WMD issues.  Rove had an affirmative duty to verify that the information he was passing on to a reporter was unclassified.  For him to say "I didn't know it was classified" is an unsatisfactory defense.  Best sources for "Treasongate" are Liberal Oasis and Left Coaster.

Also, good point in TPM.

In what's perhaps the most unsurprising news of the month, we learn that the tortures and abuses of Abu Ghraib were performed in Guantanamo in late 2002, several months before Iraq was even invaded.  The "few bad apples" theory is now inoperative.

The Pentagon failed to meet a 60-day deadline set by Congress to provide a detailed plan for training Iraqis and for likely US troop levels.  The Pentagon yesterday maintained that it is still compiling the report, but did not say when it would be complete.  Legislation calls for ''detailed descriptions" of how the Pentagon will measure the security environment, political stability, and economic progress and how it will assess the capabilities and readiness of Iraqi security forces.

Words of wisdom:  The talk-show right got away with this clowning for the past fifteen years because the press corps kept rolling over for them. But the press corps isn’t going to roll over for liberals and Dems, so liberals and Dems have to reason more clearly

Media Matters examines reaction of FOX News, the Washington Times and Wall St Journal to reaction to attacks in London, decrying "helping the terrorists", "The Guardian...might be edited by Osama bin Laden", "BBC almost operates as a foreign registered agent of Hezbollah", "...resolve continues to fade" and other such wingnuttery.

Partial transcript of ABC Roundtable discussion 10Jul05 at Liberal Oasis
Video at Crooks & Liars

CLARKE: What it tells you is that Iraq is not just a training ground. It’s a motivator.

Richard’s right. There’d obviously be some terrorists even if we weren’t in Iraq.

But I believe there are many more terrorists because we are in Iraq.

It’s enough of a motivator that people are willing to go and risk their lives or lose their lives.

People who would otherwise just be sitting around in mosques somewhere complaining about all of this, because we are occupying Iraq still, are willing to go out and fight.

The American Public agrees with PRAWN

"In the Gallup Poll, 56% say the Iraq war wasn't 'worth it' ".  Unfortunately, Administration misinformation still exerts a strong hold: "Of the 42% who say the war was worth it, the top reasons cited are the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States & the need to stop terrorism."  Numerous blogs have looked at the Flypaper theory.


Worrisome military alliance forms - Russia, China and four former Soviet provinces with Iran, Pakistant and India observing at conference.  Same blog has comment on Plame/Miller/Rove/Treason case with the question "Did reporters ever have immunity?"
The US has rejected the call from the SCO to set a withdrawal date from airbases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.under the justification of still being needed in Afghanistan.  Secretary of State Rice: "...there are still a lot of terrorist activities in Afghanistan."

Congress already requires Iraq benchmarks

It's been suggested that the Administration adopt clear benchmarks to tell us how close the US is to pulling troops out.  The report is due Monday July 11. 

U.S. reports major increase in worldwide terrorism

Of course, most of that increase has been since the current occupant of the White House began his "War on Terror" (WOT).  Article includes a year-by-year chart (1995-2005) showing the stark contrast between the liberal and conservative approaches to fighting terror.