Bush - Supporting the Troops?

The Interrogations: Rumsfeld and Aide Backed Harsh Tactics, Article Says:
"The article suggested that Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cambone had, in effect, shifted the blame for the abuses away from top civilians at the Pentagon to lower-level military police guards who are facing disciplinary proceedings in military courts."
We already know who these guys choose if it's the troops or them. Who do you think they'll choose if it's the country or them?

the american street today

Everything over at the american street today is good, and much of it is also really funny.



Matt Stoller looks back at the Republican Party platform of 2000:
"'The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration's diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries.' [ed. this is referring to Clinton's administration]

'Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments. A Republican administration working with the Congress will respect the needs and quiet sacrifices of these public servants as it strengthens America's intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities and reorients them toward the dangers of the future.'"


Here's an interview with Sibel Edmonds, one of the considerable number of mid-level FBI people who are claiming that the 9/11 investigation has been bungled. She was a translater (from Farsi, Turkish, and Azerbaijani) who was fired by the FBI after she took information to a Senate committee.

She goes beyond claiming that there was a bungle. Her basic accusation, based on material she was responsible for translating, is that certain information was deliberately suppressed because it would embarass several "friendly nations" -- to say nothing about American government officials who worked with those nations. She's under court order and not allowed to say which nations -- Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are almost certainly among them, but there are more.

This gets us into conspiracy theory territory, and the interviewer and his callers get into some things that are a bit dubious. Considering that such a high proportion of what the administration told us before the war turned out to be misleading, and considering that our major media have repeatedly published real howlers (and habitually bury or ignore big stories), I don't know why we hold dissidents to such a strict standard. Some of what they say holds up to criticism and some doesn't, but most mainstream people simple reject this kind of stuff unseen and unread.

Everything I know tells me that 9/11 was blowback, ultimately from our Afghanistan involvement, and that the Saudis and the Pakistanis had a lot to do with it. Nothing the Bush administration has done has addressed these facts, and I think that they have good personal reasons for not doing so. Edmonds believes that if the truth came out, some major figures would face criminal charges (though again, she doesn't name names).

I've been plugging this Pakistan/Saudi angle for a couple years, and nobody seems interested. Bush is vulnerable but the Democrats and the media won't go there.

Thanks to Bartcop.

My own Bandar Bush page.

A few things I collected about Pakistan.
Cursor.org is having its annual fund drive. If you look at the numbers they've put up, you'll figure out that the Cursor guys are willing to work full time for $20,000 a year or less.

As far as I'm concerned, Cursor is the best one-stop political clipping service on the web. Give what you can.


The war on WAL-MART

Nathan Newman writes battle dispatches from the front.

SERIOUS Questions

MaxSpeak raises some very serious questions: MaxSpeak, You Listen!: "HERE IS THE ENEMY".

Nick Berg's (the man who was beheaded) father appeared on a right-wing Republican "enemies list." A couple of weeks later his son was picked up and detained in Iraq, and not allowed to call a lawyer. Then the FBI questioned his father.

More here.

Why People Vote Green

Tax Breaks for Business Are Approved in the Senate:
"After months of delay and relentless corporate lobbying, the Senate voted, 92 to 5, on Tuesday for a bill that would create $170 billion in new tax breaks for business while trying to crack down on a variety of tax shelters."
92 to 5 means most Democrats voted for a $170 billion tax cut for businesses, in the middle of a war, with the money coming from OUR retirement savings.

Businesses get another $170 billion. WE get cuts in our Social Security.

This is why people vote Green. Not me, but, jeeze, on days like this I can understand the impulse.

The Beheading

My opinion - the beheading is an attempt to provoke Bush into doing something else stupid, like he did with Fallujah, and draw us even deeper into Iraq. Every penny spent and every person sent to Iraq is one less resource with which to battle al-Queda. And the more al-Queda can provoke us into seeing Iraq and Islam as the enemy, and the more they can promote tribal thinking of "us" against "them" -- the better for their cause.

Bush just keeps being led by the nose by these guys. Or maybe Bush and al-Queda share a cause: war between Christians and Muslims.

The Rumsfeld Wire

On the right, below the BlogAd, you'll see something new. The Rumsfeld Wire alerts you to weblog posts that discuss the Iraq prison abuse scandal and calling for the removal of Rumsfeld. Take a look.

Inhofe's Outrage at "Humanitarian Do-Gooders"

Senator Inhofe said he is outraged at the "humanitarian go-gooders" at the Iraq prison abuse hearings yesterday:
"As I watch this outrage, this outrage everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners . . . I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," Inhofe told fellow Armed Services Committee members investigating the treatment of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison. "You know, they're not there for traffic violations," he said. In the cells where the primary abuse took place, "they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents."

Several senators cited a Red Cross study concluding that as much as 90 percent of those detained in Iraq "had been arrested by mistake." Inhofe, 69, was unimpressed. "I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying," he said. ". . . I'm also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this."
So why is he so outraged? Inhofe is another one who believes that GOD wants us in Iraq. After 9/11, Inhofe said,
"One of the reason I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America," Inhofe huffed, "is that the policy of our government has been to ask the Israelis, and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against them."
He gave a Senate floor speech a while back, said that Israel is right in what it is doing because GOD gave that land to Israel:
From the Senate floor, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., preached what was essentially a sermon about Israel last December. "The Bible says that Abram [Abraham] removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar before the Lord," he said. "Hebron is in the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to Abram and said, 'I am giving you this land' ... This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true."

As Inhofe's speech suggested, for elements of the Christian right, pro-Israel fervor has ascended to the realm of the sacred. Christian leaders Ralph Reed and Gary Bauer both say that their support of Israel -- and Israeli expansionism -- is partly rooted in biblical injunction. Bauer says, "There are a variety of Old Testament scriptures in which God is saying to Abraham that the people of Israel will occupy all the land between the sea and the river," which he says means the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. "There's a belief that this is covenant land," he adds.
To make matters even worse, we're learning that Gen. Boykin is involved in this scandal. Why is this so bad? Boykin is this wingnut:
Boykin touched off a firestorm last October after giving speeches while in uniform in which he referred to the war on terrorism as a battle with "Satan" and said America had been targeted "because we're a Christian nation."
It still seems that we don't know the "real" reasons we're at war in Iraq. There is no question that Inhofe and Boykin's prominence in this scandal will fuel suspicions in the Arab world that this is a religious war, Christians against Islam, and, in fact, it is looking more and more like this may be part of the master plan.


The Left Coaster Has Some Troubling Questions

The Left Coaster: Why Was Nick Berg Held By The American Military?

Worse and Worse

General Who Made Anti-Islam Remark Tied to POW Case:
"The U.S. Army general under investigation for anti-Islamic remarks has been linked by U.S. officials to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, which experts warned could touch off new outrage overseas.

A Senate hearing into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was told on Tuesday that Lt. Gen. William Boykin, an evangelical Christian under review for saying his God was superior to that of the Muslims, briefed a top Pentagon (news - web sites) civilian official last summer on recommendations on ways military interrogators could gain more intelligence from Iraqi prisoners.
Critics have suggested those recommendations amounted to a senior-level go-ahead for the sexual and physical abuse of prisoners, possibly to 'soften up' detainees before interrogation -- a charge the Pentagon denies.
[. . .] "This will be taken as proof that what happened at Abu Ghraib (prison) is evidence of a broader culture of dehumanizing Arabs and Muslims, based on the American understanding of the innate superiority of Christendom," said Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, a U.S.-based quarterly magazine. "

Mark Schmitt Kicks Himself

The Decembrist: A Bad CEO

David Brock Day at Seeing the Forest

Salon also has a David Brock interview up.

Brock's website "Media Matters" is here.

Read Altercation Today

Today's Altercation:
"Let's recap shall we? We invaded a country that we now know posed no threat to us and enjoyed no connection whatever to those who did. In order to do so, we pulled manpower and resources away from the job of protecting us and thereby made ourselves more vulnerable to the thousands of new enemies we created with our failed, dishonest invasion. OK, what next?"
Then he says what next. Go read

Spam Record

A new record. 635 spams arrived just since late last night. Today looks to beat the all-day record.

My morning routine is to check my mail, go through it deleting spams (the ISP does have Spam Assassin, which catches most of it, leaving me with "only" 635 this morning) then delete the trash and check mail again to clear the server. BUT by the time I'm checking the mail again I have more spam, so I delete that, empty the trash, and check mail again. Usually by then there's a few more so I repeat the process again.

Only then do I go walk the dogs.

Update - I haven't been keeping track through the day, but I just checked e-mail after clearing it 2 hours ago, and there were 273 new spams.

Update 2 - 257 MORE spams!

Update 3 - 7:45 pm 309 more spams.

I think I know what's going on:
E-mailer wins round against anti-spam firm

E-mail marketer Scott Richter, branded by critics as the ``spam king,'' has won a round in a legal battle with a San Bruno anti-spam company.

A U.S. District Court judge in Oakland on Monday ordered SpamCop to temporarily stop reporting complaints about Richter's company, OptinRealBig.com, to Internet service providers. The order is effective until May 20, when the two parties are due in court.

Owned by IronPort Systems, SpamCop offers people a way to report e-mail messages as suspected spam. SpamCop then forwards that information to ISPs, which can block those e-mails from being delivered to their customers.

Richter has filed suit against IronPort, claiming that SpamCop interfered with OptInRealBig's contracts and business relationships, defamed the company and damaged its potential future earnings.

David Brock's New Book!

Salon has an excerpt from the book today.

A vote for Nader is a vote for ..


Thom Hartmann described yesterday a scheme that might let Ralph run in every state he wants to run in and to run as hard as he can everywhere while actually helping the Democratic nominee. Simply put, Thom suggested that Nader choose Kerry's electors as his own. Thom's idea is not quite good enough for me -- it's just another way for Nader to be marginalized. BUT, if Kerry and Nader agree to a symmetrical arrangement, where the electors are pledged to vote for whichever of the two candidates receives the plurality of the popular votes in their states, then even a die-hard ex-Democrat like me would go for it enthusiastically. A trivial, but greatly effective, form of instant runoff voting.

Nader would of course lose everywhere to Kerry, who would get all the electoral votes, but Ralph (and his supporters) would get the right to say, almost certainly with some truth, that they were the Democrats' margin of victory.

Interesting. Unlikely, but interesting. (The DLC and their ilk would never permit it, of course.)

UPDATE: Thanks to commenters and The Decembrist, it's clear this idea doesn't work. The winner-take-all electoral vote system disallows pooling of electors. The US electoral system once again defeats democracy. Guess I'll just have to throw the election to Bush again. Disappointing.


Shock and Anger

Bush's Backing of Rumsfeld Shocks and Angers Arabs
"Arab commentators reacted with shock and disbelief on Monday over President Bush's robust backing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against calls for his resignation.

[. . .] "After the torture and vile acts by the American army, President Bush goes out and congratulates Rumsfeld. It's just incredible. I am in total shock," said Omar Belhouchet, editor of the influential Algerian national daily El Watan.

"Bush's praise for Rumsfeld will discredit the United States...and further damage its reputation, which is already at a historic low in the Arab world," he added.

[. . .] "After Mr. Bush's decision to keep Rumsfeld, all their apologies seem like lip service," Dubai-based political analyst Jawad al-Anani told Reuters. "Mr. Rumsfeld would have certainly lost his job if the prisoners were American.

[. . .] A Saudi businessman, who asked not to be named, said keeping Rusmfeld would be seen as Washington's quiet approval of the abuse. "This just confirms that what is happening in Iraq (news - web sites) in general, and especially what is happening in Abu Ghraib is sanctioned by the American administration and that is a hell of a position to be in.

"I see no advantage in keeping Rumsfeld. Bush should be building bridges with the outside world."
For our OWN safety -- Rumsfeld must go. We must show the world that we are making changes. And we must MAKE those changes.
There's a piece in Salon from David Brock's new book The Republican Noise Machine. The most interesting passage is the following, which tells what happens when he tries to talk to people about what he knows about the media:

Those who receive their news from the New York Times and National Public Radio give me blank stares. They are living in a rarefied media culture -- one that prizes accuracy, fairness, and civility -- that is no longer representative of the media as a whole. Those who have heard snippets of Rush Limbaugh's radio show, have caught a glimpse of Bill O'Reilly's temper tantrums on the FOX News Channel, or occasionally peruse the editorials in the Wall Street Journal think I'm a Cassandra. They view this media as self-discrediting and therefore irrelevant. They are living in a vacuum of denial.

This reminds me of dozens of internet arguments I've had with high-minded academic liberals and moderates. They really do not know how slanted the information is that the average man or woman gets these days, and basically they don't care. The stupider and more misinformed the average voter is, the easier it is for these fine people to feel superior.

The same people I'm thinking of are usually also too fastidious to take partisan stands or show any loyalty to the Democratic Party (or as far as that goes, the Green Party either). For them the most important thing is to maintain their self-image of elite independence. They'd infinitely rather lose and lose again than seem uncool.

What brought this on was one more idiot liberal ("David the Obscure") badmouthing Al Franken's Air America on the Calpundit comments board. What he says is stupid enough to be trolling, but I often hear known liberals say this kind of stupid shit, so I'm taking it at face value:

Personally, I'm glad Radio America is defunct. That kind of shrillness will never change anyone's mind. The kind of person who supported the war and Bush and may yet change their minds would probably like to think they arrived at that conclusion on their own, not with a lot of pushing and pinching from the Left.

I don't want to go into how many ways this is wrong. Air America might succeed and it might fail, and it might be well-done or badly-done, but we all have to want it to succeed. It provides a liberal Democratic voice in a market niche which until now has been completely flooded with the worst right wing crap.

David the Obscure and his ilk should find ropes and go hang themselves, instead of stinking up the planet with their jerkish, worthless opinions.

Plantu checks in

Rumsfeld Resignation

It's Monday, and Rumsfeld still has not resigned. Officers are reprimanded and grunts are courtmarshalled. But Rumsfeld gets Bush's support and praise. Support the troops -- go sign the petition.

Al Franken

Al Franken is just craking me up. (Listen online.)

On Rumsfeld's testimony before Congress last week: "I didn't borrow the plate, it was broken in pieces when I borrowed it, and it was in one piece when I returned it."

They Just Lie

Roger Ailes has an excellent post detailing some of the lies we are being told about the Iraq prison scandal. They just lie. They just say when they feel they need to say to provide enough of a smokescreen to confuse the issue and get us all arguing about what they said, instead of keeping our eye on what is really happening. It's all just PR. That's all they know or care about -- PR. They have their goals -- what THEY get -- and they have their PR -- what WE get.


New Poll

There's a new Zogby poll that you can read about here. Also, you can read about what you can get people to think when you control the information they hear:
"Russ Teague, selling lamps at the flea market, could hardly disagree more. 'It's a minor problem,' says Teague, an Air Force veteran, 'a rare anomaly that has nothing to do with the administration and everything to do with six or seven people who did something regrettable.'

In fact, Teague blames the media for much of the uproar, and points out that the Army itself uncovered the abuse - an object lesson for the Middle East in how a transparent democracy deals with miscreants. But Teague also sympathizes with the accused MPs, pointing out that they - unlike the myriad critics and commentators - are actually in a war."
This guy is repeating directly what I heard on right-wing talk radio Friday! Almost word-for-word.

If you read weblogs, you are informed -- unlike at least half of the people in the U.S., apparently.