Is that a shrub in your pocket...
Sunday, April 18, 2004Another Great Weekend Well, another terrific weekend has ended. Ten more US soldiers were killed this weekend, bringing the April total to 99 (and nearly two more weeks to go). Meanwhile, some 1,500 contractors have bailed out of Iraq. Apparently, being kidnapped and/or killed and mutilated isn’t worth the money. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has pulled Spain’s troops out, as promised. It’s starting to get very lonely over there for our guys, and it seems that reenlistments are down in our own army as well (surprise, surprise; I wonder how many of the guys that got dicked over and had their tours extended another 120 days are planning on re-upping). Israel has killed yet another Hamas leader, which should really make things better. Apparently dubya has gone ahead and given Sharon the green light to do pretty much whatever he wants. So, just some more reasons for Arabs to hate the US. Condi Rice says the government is gearing up for a big terrorist attack around the November elections. You think they’re trying to set us up for something? Will they actually allow (or concoct) a terrorist attack (any blue state will do)? Or will they ‘foil’ an attack at the last minute, proving what a great bunch they are (possible while pulling Osama out of the freezer). Speaking of Condi, she says Bob Woodward is full of shit for saying that dubya was set on attacking Iraq in January 2003. Waiting until March was just to help bail out his pooch, Tony Blair. Give it up Condi; that dog don’t hunt no more. The aptly named Dick Cheney says John Kerry is very, very bad for gun owners. According to Cheney, "John Kerry's approach to the Second Amendment has been to regulate, regulate and then regulate some more." I wonder if the Dickster has ever actually read the 2nd Amendment? He might be surprised to find that it reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Well regulated, Dick. Not just regulated, but well regulated (never mind the militia part. We actually have a militia, and it’s called the National Guard. Unfortunately, they’re all in fucking Iraq waiting to get blown up or torn to shreds).
Thursday, April 15, 2004Good News; Bad News Finally, some good news to report in Iraq. The three Japanese civilians who had been held hostage were released. On the less than bright side, an Iranian was killed, an Italian was executed in a manner so 'grahic' that Al Jazeera wouldn't even show it (which is a truly terrifying thought), and two more US soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in a roadside bomb attack, and another died of a 'severe cardiac event.' That brings the total number of US soldiers killed on Wednesday to 8, with the April tally so far up to 93. In other news, George Bush has reversed decades of US (and international) policy by fomrally backing an Israeli plan to keep parts of the West Bank captured in war. Palestinians - once somewhat cool to American policies, are now feeling warm and fuzzy towards us. Speaking of warm and fuzzy, Osama Bin Laden has reached out to Europeans, telling them if they get the hell out of Islamic countries, he'll give them a three month truce. At least, that's what they say he said; it sounded to me more like he was trying to clear a couple gallons of phlegm out of his throat. No deal offered for the US and Israel, of course. On the home front, the number of new unemployment claims jumped to 30,000 last week, bringing the toal number to 360,000. Economists had predicted 7,000 (what with the economy doing so well and those tax cuts for the ultra-rich kicking in - finally - to have one good month - jobwise - in the last 38 or so), well within the acceptable 430% margin of error. Things continue to shape up nicely.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004Bush (and Cheney) Saw Repeated Warnings According to the 9/11 commission, Bush and Cheney saw a stream of alarming reports on al Qaeda's intentions long before the PDB of 6-August-2001. So Bush's top national security team, according to declassified information released yesterday by the commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In April and May 2001, for example, among the intelligence reports were "Bin Laden planning multiple operations," "Bin Laden network's plans advancing" and "Bin Laden threats are real." Intelligence included reports of a hostage plot against Americans (noting that terrorists might choose to hijack an aircraft or storm a U.S. embassy). The CIA "consistently described the upcoming attacks as occurring on a catastrophic level, indicating that they would cause the world to be in turmoil," according to one of two staff reports released yesterday. Reports similar to these were made available to President Bush in the morning meetings with CIA Director George Tenet. Meanwhile the commission gave John Ashcroft a virtual pass yesterday in public, while clearly outlining the lack of concern Ashcroft had for counter-terrorism issues prior to 9/11. George Bush gave a meandering uninformative preamble to a dull and unispired press conference last night. Once again, the president avoided answering questions and the lap-dog press failed to press him. He'll no doubt receive rave reviews and a bump in the polls.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004Terrorism Not a Top Priority for Ashcroft John Ashcroft failed in 2001 to treat counterterrorism as a top priority, the commission on the Sept. 11 attacks said on Tuesday, in its latest report. Then-acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard said he appealed to Ashcroft for more money for counterterrorism but on Sept 10, 2001, Ashcroft rejected the appeal. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, testifying before the commission, said the bureau's counterterrorism operations were severely underfunded and understaffed in the years leading up to the attacks. "In the budget years 2000, 2001, 2002, we asked for 1,895 people -- agents, linguists, analysts. We got a total of 76 people during that period," Freeh said. Freeh later said intelligence services were aware of the danger that a terrorist might use a hijacked plane as a weapon, and he acknowledged that steps were taken to protect the White House and special events (such as the 2000 Olympic Games and meetings of world leaders), but nothing was done to protect the country at large.
Monday, April 12, 2004Bush: "It was a tough week last week" Yep, sure was. The U.S. military says 23 troops were killed in past 3 days alone, including Michelle Witmer, (on the right in this picture, shown with her mom and sisters - who are also in Iraq, and will be bringing Michelle's body home). Michelle was one of thirteen Americans killed Friday. In fact, according to U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, about 70 'coalition' troops and some 700 Iraqis have been killed since April 1. Meanwhile, civilian kidnappings continued on Sunday, when seven Chinese men were abducted in central Iraq. Family and friends of the Thomas Hamill (who was kidnapped Friday) held a vigil on Sunday in his Mississippi hometown. He's a 43 year old father of two, and his wife runs the local 911 center. The Japanese governement was hopeful that three Japanese hostages kidnapped last week would be released, but things aren't looking as hopeful today, with the Japanese saying that the safety of the hostages "could no longer be verified." Yeah, tough week. Nothing a nice long vacation can't fix though. Right George?
Sunday, April 11, 2004Scalia: Not a Big Pussy Concerned readers have written, taking issue with my having referred to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as "Big Pussy." Rest assured, I was not calling Justice Scalia a big pussy. I have entirely too much respect for the man (and the position he holds) to ever call him a big pussy. I was, of course, referring to his mafia nickname. However, it has come to my attention that I was wrong, and (unlike Matt Drudge, Bill O'Lielly, or the Bush administration), I'm man enough to admit it. Antonin Scalia's mafia nickname is actually "Fat Tony."
Saturday, April 10, 2004"People just don't revere it like they used to" That's what Supreme Court 'Justice' Antoni' "Big Pussy" Scalia said about the US Constitution in a speech at the Presbyterian Christian High School in Hattiesburg, Miss. You can't listen to the speech, of course, because Pussy had a US Marshall rip tape recorders out of the hands of two reporters (including Antoinette Konz, suspected terrorist and school reporter for the radical left wing Hattiesburg American newspaper. Never mind that this was a public speech given by a public figure, and never mind that reporters weren't tol before hand that they couldn't record the speech (and, what the fuck's the problem here, anyway? Is he afraid of being quoted accurately or something?). What is a US Marshall doing confiscating a reporter's (or anybody else's) tape recorder? Not only is this sleazy and ridiculous (which, come to think of it, pretty much sums up Scalia and the positions he's taken on the bench), it's unethical and even illegal. It's pretty much understood by 1st Amendment experts government officials — including judges — can't confiscate or destroy records that journalists obtain in public events. According to law professor Jane Kirtley (Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota): "This is a major embarrassment. And it is unsupportable as a matter of law. They could have said, 'No Press Allowed.' But if they let the reporters in and there are no ground rules announced in advance, they can't then say you can't report that or you can't use that." Information, once made public, could not be declared confidential afterward. Kirtley also says that this action violates the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, which says: It shall be unlawful for a government officer or employee … to search for or seize any work product materials possessed by a person reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast or other similar form of public communication." It also permits a person who has been harmed by violation of the Act to sue the government or government employee who caused the harm. What are the odds of that happening? I bet it would go all the way to the Supreme Court. You think the great white duck hunter would recuse himself from that one?
Friday, April 09, 2004Bush and Blair at the Gay Bar My wife sent me the link to this a long tme ago. I only got to watch it once, and then it went away, but I've finally found it again, and you can see it here (it's in quicktime format). It's a very funny little video, done to the song "Gay Bar" by the Electric Six.
Thursday, April 08, 2004Actual News from the 9/11 Commission As much as Condi-baby lied through her teeth, we actually learned a couple of interesting things from her testimony. First off, the infamous still classified presidential daily briefing that dubya received on August 6, 2001 was entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States." While we don't quite know what was in the briefing, former Sen. Bob Kerrey told us that it included information that there were al Qaeda activities "consistent with preparations for hijacking." Makes you wonder what was going through George's 'mind' as Andy Card whispered in his ear on 9/11 that the first plane had hit. You think he really thought the first plane might have been an accident? Was he really that stupid? OK, not a fair question.... Anyhow, what's the entire administration doing on vacation for a month after getting a briefing like that on August 6? No high level meetings. No sense of urgency. No warnings to FBI agents across the country. But a helluva lot of following the dog around, rooting out armadillos. Too bad Spot wasn't the National Security Advisor; maybe we'd have found Osama by now. Unanimously, the 9/11 Commission members – Republicans and Democrats – are calling on the Bush administration to declassify this PDB. We also found out that there was no response to explicit and repeated warnings about al Qaeda attacks. Rice's claim that the FBI sent warnings to field offices was totally refuted by commissioners who said that, after conducting thousands of interviews and reviewing thousands of documents, they concluded that nobody at the FBI recalls any such warnings. She had the frickin' nerve to say, basically, 'Hey, I told these people to do something, I just figured they did it.' Shit, you think maybe you should check up on these people, you stupid twit? Randi Rhodes is right, Condi does look like a reptile (more like a snake, really). Here's an interesting exchange between Bob Kerrey and Condi: KERREY: You said the president was tired of swatting flies. Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al-Qaida prior to 9-11? RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was ... KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted? RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on ... KERREY: No, no ... RICE: ... when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah ... KERREY: He hadn't swatted ... RICE: ... or go after this guy ... KERREY: Dr. Rice, we didn't ... RICE: That was what was meant. KERREY: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired? RICE: We swatted at - I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that's what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech. KERREY: Well, I think it's an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been - we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan. Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration - military plans in the Clinton administration. In fact, since we're in the mood to declassify stuff, there was - he included in his January 25th memo two appendices - Appendix A: Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al-Qaida; Appendix B: Political military plan for al-Qaida. So I just - why didn't we respond to the Cole? RICE: Well, we ... KERREY: Why didn't we swat that fly? How come, Condi?
Wednesday, April 07, 2004U.S. hits Fallujah mosque; 40 said killed
I think they really respect us when we blow up mosques.
Woo-hoo! Makes you feel great, doesn't it? You know, when I was a kid, we'd get up in the morning and watch the Today show (for those of you too young to remember, the Today show was once somewhat news-like), and we'd get the daily body count from Vietnam. We had a personal interest in that sorta thing, what with my brother Tim being over there and all.
So, every day, there'd be, say, five US soldiers killed, twenty wounded, and there'd be like 500 Viet Cong killed. I'm not saying the military was full of shit or anything, but I think we must've killed the population of North Vietnam about ten times over.
Anyhow, here we are more than 35 years later, and we get to wake up to the daily body counts in Iraq. I just can't see how we're going to get out of this mess.