Saturday, May 01, 2004

Breaking News

Press conference: Rumsfeld announces new Iraqi leader

Faced with increasing violence and chaos across Iraq as the June 30 deadline for handing over to an Iraqi government, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today announced the re-hiring of deposed Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Standing next to a beaming Saddam at a surprise press conference in Baghdad, Rumsfeld said that bringing Mr. Hussein back "would help Iraqis make the transition to self-rule and democracy."

The shock move follows the decision last week by the head of the US occupation authority in Iraq, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, to lift the ban on former members of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party holding government jobs. Thousands of former Ba'athists are expected to return to work as civil servants, schoolteachers and police. Iraq's US appointed defence minister even reappointed three of Saddam's former generals to top posts in the new Iraqi army.


Friday, April 30, 2004

They're still at work

April 30, 2004 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- The six U.S. soldiers facing courts-martial in connection with mistreatment of detainees at an Iraqi prison did not receive in-depth training on the Geneva Conventions, which govern the handling of captives, a military spokeswoman said Friday.

Those soldiers have been reassigned to other duties in Iraq, Col. Jill Morgenthaler said in an e-mail from Iraq. No courts-martial proceedings against them have taken place, she said.

What the hell is going on here?


SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) -- Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants, then claimed they were terrorists, in a killing staged to show they were participating in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, authorities said Friday.

Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told reporters that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged by police with murder.

If convicted, they could be sentenced from 10 years to life in prison.

"That was an act of a sick mind," Konteska said after a two-year investigation. "They ... ordered the brutal murder of the seven Pakistani men."

She described a meticulous plan to promote Macedonia as a player in the fight against global terrorism that involved smuggling the Pakistanis into Macedonia from Bulgaria, housing them, and then coldly gunning them down.



What? What? What? What the hell is going on here?

This Baathist General is the guy we are leaving in charge of Fallujah? Is he Saddam's twin? Behold, the new face of Iraqi Democracy. If we are putting the Baathists back in charge now, does that mean they get to use their old techniques to keep the peace?
"God wanted me to become President, ruin the economy, lie to the American people, and kill Iraqi civilians."

Try to catch "The Jesus Factor," which airs tonight on PBS. It's a Frontline documentary on Bush and his relationship to God. (Or whoever it is that's behind those voices in his head -- I've always suspected that Karl Rove secretly implanted a receiver in Bush's skull: "George, this is God. I want you to run for President." "George, this is God again. Rich people need more tax cuts!" "George, time to give Karl a raise." "George, forget that stuff I said about 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'; I want you to blow up some Afghanis and Iraqis!") Slate has a good article on the documentary.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Wow, CBS News, I'm impressed


President Bush
said he cooperated fully with the 9/11 commission, and reiterated that terrorism was a top priority of his administration. But, as John Roberts reports, more evidence has emerged to suggest that it wasn't.


Finally, some truth coming out of the media.
Iraqi's were complaining about Abu Ghraib last year...but no one listened


Prisoners describe brutality by troops

November 2, 2003
In Iraq's American detention camps, forbidden talk can earn a prisoner hours bound and stretched out in the sun, and detainees swinging tent poles rise up regularly against their jailers, according to recently released Iraqis.
In these secretive islands in a scorched landscape, "they don't respect anyone, old or young," Rahad Naif said of his U.S. Army guards. He and others told of detainees in wheelchairs, and of a man carried into a stifling hot tent in his sickbed. "They humiliate everybody.''

"The worst thing was their treatment of the women," said Saad Naif, who spent time both at the airport and at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, where tents spread across the prison yards.

"Innocent women were kept for months in the same clothes," he said. He said he remembered in particular an elderly woman "whose hands were tied up and she was lying in the dust.''

Saad Naif said he saw a prisoner shot dead at Abu Ghraib when he approached the razor wire.

Amnesty International says it has received credible reports of such shootings. AP queried the U.S. command here about deaths in the camps, but got no response.

Bush: "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am a puppet"

After meeting with the 9/11 commission this morning, Bush spoke with reporters and finally tried to give an explanation for why he insisted on appearing with Dick Cheney:

"I wanted them to know how I set strategy, how we run the White House, how we deal with threats. The vice-president answered a lot of their questions. And I think it was important for them to see our body language as well, how we work together."
What?

This statement is absolutely roiling with subtext; I hardly know where to start.

First of all, "I" set strategy, but "we" run the White House and "we" deal with threats. I can understand why Bush would want to speak in the plural when he talks about dealing with threats -- he wants to spread the blame because he's done such a poor job. But when he speaks of how "we" run the White House, I think he's unconsciously admitting the truth as he perceives it: that he and Cheney basically have a co-presidency. (Unfortunately, Bush may be giving himself too much credit in that regard.)

Second: Bush seems to be justifying Cheney's presence because it was necessary as part of a demonstration -- that is, he and Cheney physically showed the commission how they "run the White House" and "deal with threats" and "work together." Was there a tour? Did the commission witness a briefing session in the situation room? Did Bush and Cheney stage a mock terrorist attack as a demonstration? Um, George, the meeting was a question-and-answer session. You weren't demonstrating anything but your knowledge of events relating to 9/11.

And Bush thought it was important for the commission to see the "body language" between Bush and Cheney? What the hell is the guy talking about? How can body language possibly tell the 9/11 commission anything about how the 9/11 attacks happened and how they could have been avoided? Three possibilities as to the reason for that comment: (#1) Bush is just completely making things up off the top of his head. (Always likely with Dubya.) (#2) Bush had instructed Cheney to hunch and cower the whole meeting while Bush stuck out his chest and held up his chin, the body-language message being that Bush is really the one in charge -- don't let the fact that he refused to appear without Cheney fool you! (#3) Bush wanted the commission to see the stolen glances, the winks, the footsie under the side table that goes on between him and Cheney. Those lovebirds! They just couldn't keep their secret any longer.
The story seems familiar....while one guy is trying to attack us, we waste our resources on a crumbling unpopular regime that poses no threat....where have I seen this before?
More Agents Track Castro Than Bin Laden

JOHN SOLOMON

Associated Press


WASHINGTON - The Treasury Department agency entrusted with blocking the financial resources of terrorists has assigned five times as many agents to investigate Cuban embargo violations as it has to track Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money, documents show...

This is really astounding," [Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.Dakota] said. "I hope somebody in the administration will soon come to his or her senses and start directing our resources where they are needed. Politics is clearly diverting precious time, money and manpower away from the war on terrorism here."

Sen. Max Baucus, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, requested the figures, which showed that at the end of 2003, OFAC had 21 full-time agents working Cuba violations and just four full-time workers hunting bin Laden's and Saddam's riches.

"Rather than spending precious resources to prevent Americans from exercising their right to travel, OFAC must realign its priorities and instead work harder to keep very real terrorist threats out of our country," said Baucus, D-Mont.



Let's see, if they've got five times as many people tracking Castro as bin Laden, does that mean Castro hates freedom five times more than bin Laden?
Asked how many American troops have died in Iraq (news - web sites), the Pentagon (news - web sites)'s No. 2 civilian estimated Thursday the total was about 500 — more than 200 soldiers short.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was asked about the toll at a hearing of a House Appropriations subcommittee. "It's approximately 500, of which — I can get the exact numbers — approximately 350 are combat deaths," he responded

"He misspoke," spokesman Charley Cooper said later. "That's all."

American deaths Thursday were at 722 — 521 of them from combat — since the start of military operations in Iraq last year, according to the Department of Defense (news - web sites).





Why should a chickenhawk care: it's not his or his children's lives that are on the line, right?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bush's answer: Yeah
This is from the press event following the meeting Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson and George W. Bush (translated from Swedish)


Mr. President, you are a Republican and our Prime Minister is a Social Democrat. What do you have in common, and what differences do you have?

Bush answers "Yeah"

Yeah, uhhh, answers Bush. First of all we have the ability to not talk politics but to talk about policy.

Mr. President, du är republikan och vår PM (premiärminister) är socialdemokrat. Vad har ni gemensamt - och vad har ni inte gemensamt?
Yeah, svarar Bush
- Yeah, eeeh, svarar Bush. Först av allt har vi en förmåga att inte tala politik utan tala policy....


That was from the Swedish Newspaper aftonbladet.se,, whose correspondent asked the question.

And here is the White House version

Q Mr. President, you're a Republican and our PM is Social Democrat. What do you have in common, what do you not have in common?

PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, we have the ability to not talk politics, but talk policy. We've been given great responsibilities and we spend a lot of time talking about our mutual desire for the world to be peaceful. And we understand that free societies are peaceful societies.




Al Gore, drawing from his 2000 campaign accounts, said Wednesday he will donate more than $6 million to five Democratic Party groups and help John Kerry fight President Bush's "outrageous and misleading" re-election bid.


Thanks, Al! We always new you were an upstanding guy. But wait, you had an extra $6,000,000 to blow at the end of the last election? At a conservative estimate of $1,000 dollars per vote, you would have gotten an extra 6,000 votes in Florida. Sheesh.
This is from the White House website


Q Yes, thank you, Mr. President. What does Vice President Cheney bring to your 9/11 testimony that you couldn't provide alone? And don't you owe history and the 9/11 families a transcript or a recording?

PRESIDENT BUSH: What he's asking about is a meeting I'm going to have tomorrow morning, talking with this 9/11 Commission about -- my attitude and the attitude of the Vice President about our country, our security, what happened on that particular date, what happened leading up to that. And I look forward to the discussion. I look forward to giving the commissioners a chance to question both of us. And it's a -- it will be an ample -- it will be a good opportunity for people to help write a report that hopefully will help future Presidents deal with terrorist threats to the country.



And the answer?
I am a registered volunteer for the Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection campaign. No, seriously. One of my friends, a Republican (from Texas) (yes, I actually have Republican friends from Texas), jokingly suggested I sign up, and I figured, hey, if I get regular updates on what the Bush campaign strategy is, and if they are blowing their money on trying to send me their propoganda, that's not bad, right?

So I got this:


Dear James,

The 2004 presidential campaign is shifting into high-gear and President Bush is counting on your support.

Will you get involved today?

Please join the California Bush Team at the third of three San Diego County trainings for an inside look at how you can be a part of the San Diego County Leadership Team and help drive the President toward victory in November.

Who: Bush Volunteers, Bush Precinct Chairs, and anyone who is
ready to do what it takes to make sure our President is
re-elected

When: Saturday, May 1st, from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Where: Carlsbad City Council Chambers
1200 Carlsbad Village Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-434-2821

Please RSVP to California04@GeorgeWBush.com if you plan on attending and make sure to forward this message to five of your friends. Please specify SAN DIEGO COUNTY TRAINING.



Does it strike anyone else as a little strange that the Bush-Cheney campaign is using municipal government offices as extensions of the Bush-Cheney campaign? Illegal?
From the incomparable Onion:

Bush To Iraqi Militants: 'Please Stop Bringing It On'
WASHINGTON, DC—In an internationally televised statement Monday, President Bush modified a July 2003 challenge to Iraqi militants attacking U.S. forces. "Terrorists, Saddam loyalists, and anti-American insurgents: Please stop bringing it on now," Bush said at a Monday press conference. "Nine months and 500 U.S. casualties ago, I may have invited y'all to bring it on, but as of today, I formally rescind that statement. I would officially like for you to step back." The president added that the "it" Iraqis should stop bringing includes gunfire, bombings, grenade attacks, and suicide missions of all types.

It depends on what the meaning of "all" is

Surprise, surprise! It seems that when the White House released "all" Bush's National Guard service records in an attempt to prove Bush hadn't really gone AWOL during the Vietnam war, it didn't really release all of them:

The mandatory written report about Bush's grounding is mysteriously not in the released file, nor is any other disciplinary evidence. A document showing a "roll-up," or the accumulation of his total retirement points, is also absent, and so are his actual pay stubs.


Well, of course! Documents like that would show that Bush is less than perfect!


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

This is more like it, John



Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, accused President Bush on Tuesday of having knowingly exaggerated evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, saying the president made “colossal mistakes” before, during and after the war.

...

“We know they exaggerated the material purposefully,” Kerry said in an interview on MSNBC-TV’s “Hardball,” “and yet the president says he didn’t make a mistake,” referring to Bush’s statement during a news conference this month that he could not remember a major mistake he had made during his administration.

...

“I think the president has made some colossal mistakes," said Kerry, who said Bush “rushed into the war,” effectively driving away U.S. allies and putting U.S. forces at greater risk than they should have been.



I'd like to thank the Bush campaign for doing John Kerry a big favor. The Vietnam military service controversy had died down, but you folks brought it back. Thanks again, the public is once again reminded that John Kerry was a decorated war hero in Vietnam while George W. Bush was AWOL from the National Guard. And now John Kerry is angry and he's coming out swinging, and that is just the kind of attitude he needs to maintain to win.




Monday, April 26, 2004

Robert B. Reich offers this chilling look into a future where Bush is re-elected. Just a tidbit:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will surely step down from the Supreme Court, possibly joined by at least one other jurist, opening the way for the White House to nominate a series of right-wing justices, a list that could easily include Charles Pickering Sr. and William Pryor Jr. After Chief Justice William Rehnquist resigns, Bush may well nominate Antonin Scalia for the top slot -- opening the way for Scalia and Clarence Thomas to dominate the Court. Such a court will curtail abortion rights, whittle down the Fourth and Fifth amendments, end all affirmative action, and eliminate much of what's left of the barrier between church and state.


People justifiably want to see Bush defeated in November because of the many horrific things he's done. But the real reason to defeat our moron-in-chief is to prevent him from getting a second term. If we fail, all the damage he's wrought on the world and our American democracy will be just a warm-up for the horrors to come.