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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Over 100,000 Attend

Go to Yahoo and rate it up!
Crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surged past the White House on Saturday, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the U.S. invasion. The rally stretched through the day and into the night, a marathon of music, speechmaking and dissent on the National Mall. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, noting that organizers had hoped to draw 100,000 people, said, "I think they probably hit that." Speakers from the stage attacked President Bush's policies head on, but he was not at the White House to hear it. He spent the day in Colorado and Texas, monitoring hurricane recovery. In the crowd: young activists, nuns whose anti-war activism dates to Vietnam, parents mourning their children in uniform lost in Iraq, and uncountable families motivated for the first time to protest.
More images...

Also, please visit AnswerCoalition.org, and voice your dissent to our leaders in Washington.

Rally Speeches

Jesse Jackson (video)

Cindy Sheehan (video)

Ralph Nader (video)

Jessica Lange (video)

Too Much Sunshine

The lighting wasn't just right for George's Kodak moment with Rita:
Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

A Few More Bad Apples

Move along, nothing to see here...
Three former members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division say members of their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves. The new allegations, the first involving members of the elite 82nd Airborne, are contained in a report by Human Rights Watch. They have also been reported by one of the soldiers, a decorated Army captain, Ian Fishback, in letters to top aides of two senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman, and John McCain of Arizona. The captain approached the aides after he tried to report the allegations to his superiors for 17 months, the aides said. The aides also said they found the captain's accusations credible enough to warrant investigation.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Peak Oil

If Forbes is right, we may soon have a taste...
Analysts say that refineries rarely suffer catastrophic wind damage and that the real danger is flooding. The refineries in Texas are on higher ground than those in Louisiana and therefore are better able to withstand a hurricane. Extensive flooding in Port Arthur, Tex., or Lake Charles, La., would cause prices to spike, possibly as high as $6 or $7 a gallon, doubling the widespread assumptions of $3-a-gallon gas that are expected in the aftermath.
Keep in mind, we won't just pay more at the pump, but there will be inflated prices for any product that requires shipping. In other words, it will trickle into every nook and cranny of our economy.


Why do hurricane winds rotate counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere?
The reason is that the earth's rotation sets up an apparent force (called the Coriolis force) that pulls the winds to the right in the Northern Hemisphere (and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere). So when a low pressure starts to form north of the equator, the surface winds will flow inward trying to fill in the low and will be deflected to the right and a counter-clockwise rotation will be initiated. The opposite (a deflection to the left and a clockwise rotation) will occur south of the equator.
More hurricane FAQ.

Write Your Own Caption

Political Schedule Conflicts

Enough with the pandering... Take a stand, or lose our support.
As the anti-war movement arrives in Washington this weekend, many top Democrats are leaving. Nationally known Democratic war critics, including Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and John Kerry of Massachusetts, won't attend what sponsors say will be a big anti-war rally Saturday in Washington. The only Democratic officeholders who plan to address the rally are Reps. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and John Conyers of Michigan.


Spokesmen for the Democrats who are skipping the anti-war event all said they had schedule conflicts. But some leading anti-war activists aren't buying it. "There are a lot of people here who are wondering, where are the Democrats?" said Tom Andrews, a former Democratic House member from Maine who's now the national director of Win Without War, one of several groups that are organizing three days of protests against the war in Washington starting Saturday. "The Democratic Party has an identity crisis on this issue. We need voices. We need leadership," Andrews said. "But fear is driving them."


Washington Post:
But there may be another reason the evacuation is going well: Texas is simply better prepared than was Louisiana. Its state government is richer and better-run. Its police are not so famously corrupt. The 1900 Galveston hurricane weighs heavily on historical memories; children learn about it in school. It may well turn out that this matters enormously: The ability of the federal government and private charity to help is, after all, constrained by the actions of local politicians. The best national emergency plans will almost always turn out to be those that have concentrated hardest on local politicians: cooperating with them, coordinating with them, even training them if necessary. No matter what the Texas coast looks like in a few days' time, Rita's other lesson may be that all emergency preparedness, like all politics, is ultimately local.

The Carter-Baker Report Whitewash

Baker of course, is a cog in the Neocon machine, but one would expect more from Carter...
In the most laughable Carter/Baker punch line, the commission warns that "had the margin of victory for the [2004] presidential contest been narrower, the lengthy dispute that followed the 2000 election could have been repeated." In fact, in our own preliminary report, we have unearthed more than 180 bullet points dealing with exactly how the GOP did steal the presidency in Ohio. A "do everything" Republican assault on democracy used intimidation, fraud, vote theft, computer rigging, machine distribution manipulation, a fake Homeland security alert, trashing of provisional ballots, denial of a recount and dozens more "dirty tricks" to produce a 118,775 "official" margin for Bush that was an utter fiction.

Exit polls in nine swing states showed Kerry a clear winner as late as 12:21 am on election night. Nationwide exit polls showed him with a 1.5 million vote margin in the popular vote. But somehow, against all statistical probability, Bush wound up with a popular vote victory of nearly 3.5 million. And somehow, against all statistical probability, he carried Ohio and three other states (Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico) where he had been the clear loser in the exit polls. Ohio alone was sufficient to give him a second term, just as Florida had been in 2000. Such an outcome is beyond implausible - unless you saw how the Rove-Blackwell machine stole the vote.

Gore 2008

Two Points:
For one thing, he's been against the Iraq war from the get-go. Hillary Clinton voted for it, as did Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and former 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA). All three will surely vie for the '08 nomination. The latest polls show that a majority of Americans want the U.S. to bring home the troops now. This growing anti-war fervor will be a major factor in the next primary election, and can bode very well for the former veep.

Additionally, Gore is Mr. Environment, and has been preaching the global warming gospel for 20+ years. Most recently he preached to the proverbial choir at the World Environment Day conference in San Francisco, a five-day U.N. gathering to promote pro-environment practices. A growing chorus of scientists believe the recent frequency of strong Category 4 and 5 hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita may be linked to global warming. They believe that rising global temperatures warm the oceans, which in turn fuel hurricanes and intensify their power. On this issue, Gore just might have a groundswell of very interested listeners for a change.

Houston Is Gridlocked

Attention FEMA, the evacuation is chaos...
After crawling only 10 or 20 miles in nine hours, some drivers turned around to take their chances at home rather than risk being caught in the open when the hurricane strikes. Starting Wednesday night and throughout Thursday, the major evacuation routes — Interstate 45 north to Dallas, I-10 West to San Antonio and Route 290 to College Station and Austin and 59 to Lufkin — grew into 100-mile-long parking lots. Drivers heeding the call to evacuate Galveston island and other low-lying areas took four and five hours to cover the 50 miles to Houston. And there the long crawl north began in earnest.


Eckels put it more succinctly: "The time for leaving your home has passed." The officials also said they recognized a serious situation had arisen in the evacuation, with many people stranded on traffic-choked highways, without gas and without water. The state had promised to send gas trucks to relieve the problem, White said, but he could not say how long it would be before those trucks arrived. In the meantime, he said, the city intended to send out vans and buses filled with water to take to the stranded people, and to evacuate some on the buses, as needed. To that end, Eckels put out a call for volunteers to help load these vans and buses with water, and said that their help was needed immediately.

Global Warming

Columbia Missourian:
Most researchers agree that the warming oceans are the result of rising amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, also known as global warming. This process occurs when there are high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Global warming and hurricanes are linked because heat essentially is the fuel of these storms. Researchers have described hurricanes as heat engines that draw their energy upward from the warm ocean water to drive their winds; the increase in ocean temperatures is like throwing a log on a fire.
Environmental News Service:
The recent frequency of strong Category 5 hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita may be linked to global warming, scientists warn, saying that rising global temperatures have warmed the oceans, and warm oceans fuel hurricanes. "Scientific evidence suggests there is a link between global warming and the power, not frequency, of hurricanes," Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said earlier this month. While scientists say it is difficult to blame any one weather event - a hurricane or a heat wave or a blizzard - on global warming, recent peer-reviewed research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that a combined measure of both the duration and intensity of hurricanes has doubled over the last 30 years. Hurricanes have grown more powerful and destructive over the last 30 years due in part to global warming, says an MIT professor who warns that this trend could continue.
The Independent:
Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes. The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."
Philadelphia Daily News:
"Look at Hurricane Katrina - after it went into the Gulf and was warmed by the sea surface it went from a Category 1 to a Category 5," Webster said, arguing that same phenomenon caused similar high-intensity storms. And his research is not alone. Earlier this year, a similar study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that hurricane wind speeds have increased about 50 percent in the past 50 years. The Bush administration has slashed research on global warming and refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty which seeks a cut in greenhouse-gas emissions. Webster said he believes government scientists "are under a lot of pressure not to speak about global warming."
The Times:
So there is no evidence that there are more storms when looked at globally, but what we may be seeing is an increase in the peak intensity of the strongest ones. Two research papers published in the past month have suggested an increase in the number of category 4 and 5 storms. Tropical cyclone activity is highly variable, often as a result of natural changes in the atmosphere and ocean, so although this evidence is a start, we are a long way from proving a connection.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Weather Machine

Cue up the X-Files theme, then read this piece from the Associated Press . The claims are outrageous, but I am curious about the possibility of such technology existing.

What are your thoughts?

Houston Local News

Get the latest on Rita, from Houston's KTRK (live stream).

Here We Go Again...

Why are the southbound lanes not being utilized for the evacuation?

Moral Values

Like this?
President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers. [...] As many as 800,000 people are bought and sold across national borders annually or lured to other countries with false promises of work or other benefits, according to the State Department. Most are women and children.


At least we can agree on one thing...
Political bloggers who offer diverse views on Republicans and Democrats, war and peace argued on Thursday that they should be free of government regulation. The notion was echoed by some members of the government agency trying to write rules covering the Internet's reach in political campaigns. Amid the explosion of political activity on the Internet, a federal court has instructed the six-member Federal Election Commission to draw up regulations that would extend the nation's campaign finance and spending limits to the Web. The FEC, in its initial rules, had exempted the Internet.

Bloggers told the Committee on House Administration that regulations encompassing the Internet, even ones just on advertising, would have a chilling effect on free speech. The FEC vice chairman also questioned the necessity of any rules. "I strongly believe that the online political speech of all Americans should remain free of government review and regulations," said Michael E. Toner. Toner argued that political activity on the Internet fails to meet the campaign finance law's threshold to stop corruption or the appearance of corruption. Toner urged Congress to pass a law that pre-empts the court's action and ensures that the Internet remains exempt from campaign finance rules.

Michael J. Krempasky, director of the Web site RedState.org, said that if bloggers have to meet a government test every time they discuss politics, "the reaction will be completely predictable: rather than deal with the red tape of regulation and the risk of legal problems, they will fall silent on all issues of politics."

Write Your Own Caption

Enquirering Minds...

The National Enquirer reports:
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal. Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe. Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster. [...] A Washington source said: "The sad fact is that he has been sneaking drinks for weeks now. Laura may have only just caught him — but the word is his drinking has been going on for a while in the capital. He's been in a pressure cooker for months. [...] Another source said: "A family member told me they fear George is 'falling apart.' The First Lady has been assigned the job of gatekeeper."
Regardless of whether not the report is true, the fact is, they wouldn't publish it, if they didn't think it would sell. And something tells me an inordinate amount of tabloid circulation is in rural America. Not a good sign for Bushco, ineed. Just where did all that political capital go? Enquirering minds want to know.


With the third most powerful hurricane in recorded history barreling towards the Texas coast, the Administration acts as though this is just another opportunity to rebuild George's image...
White House officials were already laying the groundwork for Bush to visit or get close to the disaster zone soon after Rita passes, leaving his schedule open for Saturday and Sunday. Bush came under fire for waiting several days before visiting New Orleans after Katrina devastated that city. He has since returned five times to the disaster zone. Administration officials are counting on a more aggressive, hands-on approach to Hurricane Rita to help counter criticism of their slow and confused response to Katrina. Since that storm hit on August 29, Bush has seen his overall approval ratings drop to new lows. A smoother response to Rita might help Bush politically, but is unlikely to pull him out of his post-Katrina slump, analysts said.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fill Your Tank Now

After Rita hits, we might be paying up to $5 a gallon...
Weather and energy experts say that as bad as Hurricane Katrina hit the nation's supply of gasoline, Hurricane Rita could be worse. Katrina damage was focused on offshore oil platforms and ports. Now the greater risk is to oil-refinery capacity, especially if Rita slams into Houston, Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas. "We could be looking at gasoline lines and $4 gas, maybe even $5 gas, if this thing does the worst it could do," said energy analyst Peter Beutel of Cameron Hanover. "This storm is in the wrong place. And it's absolutely at the wrong time," said Beutel.
And this winter, if you heat with natural gas, expect your heating bill to at least double. Good times indeed... For the Bush cronies.

Stonewalling 9-11 Investigations... Still

One just can't help but wonder why...
The Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee accused the Pentagon on Wednesday of stonewalling an inquiry into claims that the U.S. military identified four September 11 hijackers more than a year before the 2001 attacks. The Defense Department barred several witnesses from testifying at a judiciary committee hearing and instead sent a top-level official who could provide little information on al Qaeda-related intelligence uncovered by a secret military team code-named Able Danger.


Witnesses barred from testifying included military intelligence officers and analysts involved in Able Danger, a now defunct operation that used powerful computers to sift through public data in search of intelligence clues. People involved with the operation have said that Able Danger identified September 11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and three other hijackers as being members of an al Qaeda cell in the early months of 2000.

The Federal Response to Rita

If Rumsfeld's response is any indication, expect more of the same (video).

Alternative Fuel

Circa 1950
Aided by Interior Secretary Harold Ickes and U.S. Senator Joseph O'Mahoney, the Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act was approved on April 5, 1944. The Act authorized $30 million for a five-year effort for: "...the construction and operation of demonstration plants to produce synthetic liquid fuels from coal, oil shales, agricultural and forestry products, and other substances, in order to aid the prosecution of the war, to conserve and increase the oil resources of the Nation, and for other purposes."


Optimism reigned supreme in the first year of the expanded national synthetic fuels effort. In August 1949, the Bureau's synfuels experts issued a stunning assertion that they could make gasoline from coal for as little as 1.6 cents per gallon before profits and taxes. From 1949 to 1953, the Missouri hydrogenation plant – which had cost $10 million to build – produced 1.5 million gallons of synthetic gasoline, 1 million of which was fleet tested by the armed services. Operations, however, were sporadic. The plant was hindered by metal erosion and mechanical difficulties. Nonetheless, the 78-octane unleaded coal-derived gasoline it produced was found equal to conventional petroleum-based gasoline. The synthetic gasoline fueled the motor vehicles used by the plant.


The second plant at Louisiana, MO, was completed in 1950 and began full operation in 1951. Almost from day one, however, the 80-barrel per day test facility was plagued by disintegration of the chemical catalysts used to convert the coal gas into liquid fuels. Only 40,000 gallons of liquid products were produced by the $5 million plant. Although World War II was over, America's petroleum appetite showed no signs of abating, and interest in synthetic fuels continued. On September 22, 1950, Congress approved a second amendment to the Synthetic Liquid Fuels Act, adding another three years and another $17.6 million – bringing the total to $87.6 million.


America's energy sights were also beginning to shift toward giant oil fields that had been found in the Middle East. American companies were striking deals with Persian Gulf oil sheiks for the rights to drill and produce the massive discoveries. The geopolitical center of America's oil supply was beginning to shift, and so too was its politics. In 1952, Americans elected Dwight D. Eisenhower as the 36th President of the United States. Carrying 39 states and winning the electoral vote 442 to 89, Eisenhower brought "modern Republicanism" into the conduct of domestic affairs. He called for reduced taxes, balanced budgets, a return of certain responsibilities to the states (including title to valuable tideland oil reserves), and a decrease in government control over the economy. The Republican Party also won control of Congress by a slim margin.


In March 1953 when the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee opened its budget hearings, its first official act was to kill funds for the Louisiana, MO, synthetic fuel plants. The cost of synthetic fuels was too high for the government to bear, the Committee stated. Estes Kefauver, then out of Congress but later elected to the U.S. Senate, claimed that the nation's oil companies had been behind the Committee's action because they did not want the competition from coal. A short time later, the Committee voted to cease funding for all the programs authorized under the Synthetic Fuels Act. Within 90 days, the Missouri plants were closed and turned back to the Department of the Army. The coal hydrogenation plant returned to making ammonia.
Thanks to Marcomarco for the tip.


Reason #5634371349
A security analyst operating in Afghanistan told the Herald: "What they're doing is apeing the US. "The Americans embedded with the Afghanistan National Army to impart experience and to boost morale, and the foreign jihadis are embedding with the insurgents, instructing them on how to deal with the US from their experience in Iraq, how to conceal themselves and how to make, plant and detonate even more sophisticated IEDs (improvised explosive devices)."


Two Taliban commanders enthusiastically revealing details of their training in Iraq and how, in turn, they pass it on to hundreds of Afghan fighters. Claiming that the conflict here was entering a new phase, Mohammed Daoud, 35, credits the fugitive terrorism master Osama bin Laden with opening the Afghan-Iraq technology-and-training exchange. He says: "I'm explaining to my fighters every day the lessons I learned and my experience in Iraq. I want to copy in Afghanistan the tactics and spirit of the glorious Iraqi resistance." Another commander, Hamza Sangari, 36, tells how he went to Iraq in a group of 15 - eight Afghan Taliban, two Central Asians and five Arab al-Qaeda fighters. Aided by drug-smugglers, they went through Pakistan and into Iran, going by foot, motor-cycle and four-wheel-drive. Claiming that he spent four weeks at a remote Iraqi training camp called Ashaq al Hoor, he tells how he was drilled in the use of remote-controlled detonators and how to make armour-penetrating weapons by breaking up rockets and rock-propelled grenade rounds and repackaging their explosive content with powerful, high-velocity "shaped" charges.


The security analyst interviewed by the Herald stressed that a new development was that the movement between the two countries had become two-way - novices to Iraq to be trained and experienced fighters to Afghanistan and the border camps to impart their knowledge locally. He said: "The trainers who come here don't go to the frontline. They sit back with radios, guiding the Taliban men in the field and doing static training in the camps. They come in from the Middle East, the gulf countries and other parts of Central Asia." He explained that proof of the effectiveness of the technology exchange was in the nature of Taliban attacks. "In 2002-03 they were using old Russian stuff - wires and plungers - and they had to be close in. "Now it's faceless. Their detonators are so sophisticated, they can sit back two kilometres and explode an IED remotely through a simple wire antenna hanging from a bush next to a device that might have been planted days or weeks earlier. Boom! Off it goes and before you know it, he is back over the mountain where he picks up a spade in a field and looks just like any other village farmer."

Iraqis Protest Occupation

Isn't time we just pack up our toys and leave?
About 500 civilians and policemen rallied Wednesday in the southern city of Basra and denounced "British aggression" following London's decision to use force to free two of its soldiers being held by Iraqi police. [...] The demonstrators in Basra, which included police and civilians waving pistols and AK47s, shouted "No to occupation!" and carried banners condemning "British aggression and demanding the freed soldiers be tried in an Iraqi court as "terrorists." Some of the protesters met with the Basra police chief, Gen. Hassan Sawadi, to demand a British apology, said police spokesman Col. Karim al-Zaidi. Heavily armed soldiers and police watched the protest but didn't intervene.


It's a matter of who is irresponsible, and who is more irresponsible...
The pushback on Katrina aid, which the White House is also confronting among House Republicans, represents the loudest and most widespread dissent Bush has faced from his own party since it took full control of Congress in 2002. As polls show the president's approval numbers falling, there is growing concern among lawmakers that GOP margins in Congress could shrink next year, and even rank-and-file Republicans are complaining that Bush is shirking the difficult budget decisions that must accompany the rebuilding bonanza.


Congressional Republicans are not arguing with Bush's pledge that the federal government will lead the Louisiana and Mississippi recovery. But they are insisting that the massive cost -- as much as $200 billion -- be paid for. Conservatives are calling for spending cuts to existing programs, a few GOP moderates are entertaining the possibility of a tax increase, and many in the middle want to freeze Bush tax cuts that have yet to take effect.

The Disorderly House

How dare the press ask Rumsfeld unscripted questions. Who do they think they are (video)?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

An American Hero

David Perez...
At first, Perez intended to just donate supplies. But within days, he had blasted through roadblocks of bureaucracy to fly 384 evacuees on chartered and corporate jets to California and several other states, including more than 125 of them to San Diego. With help from friends, including billionaire computer-maker Michael Dell, Perez marshaled cargo planes, jets, tractor trailers and barges to ship 380 tons of donated medicine, food, water and supplies to shelters and rescue teams in Mississippi and Louisiana.


Perez said he has spent more than $250,000 of his own money, lending his American Express card number to people he had just met. His passion proved to be persuasive as he talked philanthropists, corporations and faith-based organizations into spending at least $20 million on relief efforts.


Perez is still trying to bring evacuees here by bus and train, and to reunite others with their families. He's gotten local towing companies to donate used cars to the evacuees. He also has set up a nonprofit corporation called 2 Life 18 Foundation Inc. to help provide financial aid, housing and jobs to evacuees. His goal is to raise $1 billion. So far, he has collected about $50,000 and has contributed $170,000 of his own, he said. This is in addition to the $250,000-plus he has already spent.
How is that one man with connections and resources can accomplish all this in a few days time, when our federal government still cannot get their act together over 3 weeks later? I am utterly stunned... It boggles the mind. Are all of our so-called leaders that inept?


At this point, how else could one describe our government?
Hundreds of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors is to be burned. US red tape is stopping it from reaching hungry evacuees. Instead tons of the badly needed Nato ration packs, the same as those eaten by British troops in Iraq, has been condemned as unfit for human consumption. [...] "The FDA has recalled aid from Britain because it has been condemned as unfit for human consumption, despite the fact that these are Nato approved rations of exactly the same type fed to British soldiers in Iraq. "Under Nato, American soldiers are also entitled to eat such rations, yet the starving of the American South will see them go up in smoke because of FDA red tape madness."


Isn't it grand?
Non-Iraqi militants made up less than 10 percent of the insurgents' ranks -- perhaps even half that -- the study said. Most were motivated by "revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country." The study by Middle East analyst Anthony Cordesman and Saudi security adviser Nawaf Obaid may offer further fuel to critics who say that instead of weakening al Qaeda, the 2003 invasion of Iraq brought fresh recruits to Osama bin Laden's network.

It said Saudi Arabia had interrogated dozens of Saudi militants who either returned from Iraq or were caught at the border. "One important point was the number who insisted that they were not militants before the Iraq war," it said. "The vast majority of Saudi militants who entered Iraq were not terrorist sympathizers before the war, and were radicalized almost exclusively by the coalition invasion," the study said.

Backing up their claim, 85 percent of those interrogated were not on any watch list of known militants, the study said. Most came from the west, south or center of Saudi Arabia, often from middle class families of prominent conservative tribes. Many were well-educated and had jobs and all of them were Sunni Muslims, the study said. Majority Sunnis in Saudi Arabia are troubled by the emergency of Iraq's Shi'ite majority.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hillary, Take Note

These sentiments are much more prevalent than you may realize...
Sunday night, Ms. Sheehan was cheered on by more than 500 supporters in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where she accused Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of not doing enough to challenge the Bush administration's Iraq policies.

Too Little, Too Late

John Kerry:
Katrina is a symbol of all this administration does and doesn't do. Michael Brown -- or Brownie as the President so famously thanked him for doing a heck of a job - Brownie is to Katrina what Paul Bremer is to peace in Iraq; what George Tenet is to slam dunk intelligence; what Paul Wolfowitz is to parades paved with flowers in Baghdad; what Dick Cheney is to visionary energy policy; what Donald Rumsfeld is to basic war planning; what Tom Delay is to ethics; and what George Bush is to "Mission Accomplished" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." The bottom line is simple: The "we'll do whatever it takes" administration doesn't have what it takes to get the job done.
Katrina is also a symbol of what the majority of our Democratic leaders do and don't do.

Free Speech

Bloomberg style:
The New York City Police Department forcibly broke up this afternoon's rally for Cindy Sheehan, moving in as Cindy was speaking at about 3 p.m. in Union Square. The rally had been underway for about an hour, and was about to conclude as Cindy spoke following several other speakers, including a few who are traveling with her on her caravan.

As Cindy was speaking, a large platoon of police massed behind from the interior of the park, then formed a circle behind her, the speakers' area and a few dozen people who were deployed in an arc behind her. Overall, about 200 people were in attendance, with the crowd steadily increasing in size as the rally progressed. As the police formed their arc just behind, the men and women immediately behind Cindy linked arms. A captain made a cutting motion at his throat, signalling he wanted no more free speech. He waited about 30 seconds, then the police moved in. They didn't dare arrest Cindy, but they immediately moved in and grabbed zool, the event's organizer and one of the main organizers of Camp Casey-NYC, pulling him away and arresting him. I do not believe anyone else was arrested; at least I didn't see any other arrests. I was nearby, and there was no hesitation on the part of the police in specifically targetting zool.
And coverage of the arrest MSM style:

Thanks for the tip Mazzy.


Via Raw Story; the following immigration memo intended for Karl Rove arrived instead at the fax of a Democratic congressman:

Follow Up

An unnamed reporter finally asks the question we've all been waiting for...
When asked by a reporter why he did not return from his vacation earlier than last Thursday, three days after the hurricane hit, the vice president replied: "I came back four days early." And you can see why Cheney is so testy. He had to miss four days of his vacation to help a bunch of people who probably had never voted Republican in their lives. The same sense of irritation was noticeable in the initial post-Katrina public appearances by President Bush (though his handlers now seem to have him under control). It was a sense of "Why me?" Wasn't a quagmire in Iraq enough of a burden? In addition to his own man-made disaster, did he have to deal with a natural disaster, too?
While it's great that someone in the press finally had the balls to ask, what's the point if a free-pass is given on an illegitimate answer?

Go ask them: letters@usnews.com

A Reasonable Conclusion

From the Daou Report:
Whereas rightwing bloggers can rely on their leadership and the rightwing noise machine to build the triangle, left-leaning bloggers face the challenge of a mass media consumed by the shop-worn narrative of Bush the popular, plain-spoken leader, and a Democratic Party incapacitated (for the most part) by the focus-grouped fear of turning off "swing voters" by attacking Bush. For the progressive netroots, the past half-decade has been a Sisyphean loop of scandal after scandal melting away as the media and party establishment remain disengaged.

It would seem reasonable to conclude, then, that the best strategy for the progressive netroots is to go after the media and Democratic Party leaders and spend less time and energy attacking the Bush administration. If the netroots alone can’t change the political landscape without the participation of the media and Democratic establishment, then there’s no point wasting precious online space blasting away at Republicans while the other sides of the triangle stand idly by. Indeed, blog powerhouses like Kos and Josh Marshall have taken an aggressive stance toward Democratic politicians they see as selling out core Democratic Party principles. Kos’s willingness to attack the DLC is mocked on the right, but it is precisely the right’s fear that Kos will “close the triangle” that causes them to protest so loudly. Similarly, when Atrios, Digby, Oliver Willis, and so many other progressive bloggers attack the media, they are leveraging whatever power they have to compel the media to assume a role as the third side of their triangle.


For progressive bloggers who see a president presiding over the collapse of America's credibility, the urgent work ahead is to cement the post-Katrina impression of Bush as a failed president. Whether or not they succeed depends to a large extent on their ability to compel the media and Democratic establishment to stand with them and speak the truth.

Civil War

Unless a compromise is reached, it's inevitable...
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's declaration of war "against Shias in all of Iraq" has reinforced fears that the country is sliding towards all-out civil war. This week's toll included day-labourers in a Shia district of Baghdad and pre-dawn executions of Shia men in the provincial town of Taji. The Shia response has so far been relatively restrained. Shia leaders are fully aware that al-Qaida is trying to draw them into civil conflict. The main Shia parties, in government for the first time, hope a constitution to be voted on next month and a general election in December will confirm an historic shift of power in their favour.


Considered from this perspective, the Iraqi conflict lies at the heart of two historic struggles that were given a modern dimension by 9/11. All-out sectarian warfare in Iraq, if not avoided, could inflame passions in Shia Iran and among Sunnis and Shias in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, possibly leading to the sort of regime-changing, region-wide upheavals sought by al-Qaida.

At the same time, the US, wrestling with contradictory impulses to keep control in Iraq and disengage, may be tempted to lash out. Heavy-handed action against Syria and Iran could also spark a broader Middle East conflict. That is one reason why a compromise on Iraq's constitution that satisfies moderate Sunnis is vital before the October 15 vote, said Joost Hiltermann, Middle East director of the International Crisis Group. "If no compromise is reached ... the country will slowly dissolve into civil war and disintegrate," he predicted. "Unfortunately, this scenario now seems likely."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Women's Rights

Condi has no time...
Diplomacy's most powerful woman, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has turned down a dinner date with other female foreign ministers to discuss women's rights, citing a busy schedule. Fifteen of the 17 female foreign ministers at the U.N. General Assembly are to attend Sunday's dinner, hosted by Sweden, which said Rice would not be there. "There is no slight intended. There are many different scheduling demands on the secretary," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding Rice had other diplomatic engagements on Sunday.
No slight, sure... What is it this time? A Broadway show? Shoes to buy? A tennis match?

The Liberal Media II

Why can't they (which includes prominent liberal bloggers) just call bullshit when they see it...
G.O.P. officials say Cheney opposed a czar largely out of his affection for standard operating procedure. But a presidential adviser tells TIME that Cheney was also concerned that the new office would invite more meddling by Congress and create another power center. "If you appoint a czar and he doesn't get what he wants, like if you start to tamp down the spending, all he has to do is go to the press and create sympathy for his viewpoint and make it difficult for the President," the adviser says.
Dick does not want a czar to oversee the rebuilding of New Orleans because he wants to control the flow of the cash. Just like everything else in politics: follow the money.

Fool Them Once...

Apparently, most Americans didn't fall for Thursday's 26 minute Don't-Worry-I-Have-Things-Under-Control speech...
Thirty-five percent (35%) of Americans now say that President Bush has done a good or excellent job responding to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. That's down from 39% before his speech from New Orleans. The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that 41% give the President poor marks for handling the crisis, that's up 37% before the speech.

The New Deal

Once again, the old adage rings true: everyone has their price...
Mayor Ray Nagin defended his plan to return up to 180,000 people to the city within a week and a half despite concerns about the short supply of drinking water and heavily polluted floodwaters. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, head of the federal disaster relief effort, said Saturday that Nagin's idea is both "extremely ambitious and "extremely problematic." But Nagin said his plan was developed in cooperation with the federal government and balances safety concerns and the needs of citizens to begin rebuilding. "We must offer the people of New Orleans every chance for a sense of closure and the opportunity for a new beginning," he said.
Despite risking exposure to the toxic sludge throughout the city. Un-fucking-believable.

Sunday Morning Comics

More from Jeff Danziger...


While my conscious finds this hard to swallow, I believe Ted Rall is right...
Hurricane Katrina has prompted Americans to donate more than $700 million to charity, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. So many suckers, so little foresight. Government has been shirking its basic responsibilities since the '80s, when Ronald Reagan sold us his belief that the sick, poor and unlucky should no longer count on "big government" to help them, but should rather live and die at the whim of contributors to private charities. The Katrina disaster, whose total damage estimate has risen from $100 to $125 billion, marks the culmination of Reagan's privatization of despair.


The Red Cross and its cohorts are letting lazy, incompetent and corrupt politicians off the hook, and so are their donors. It's ridiculous, but people evidently need to be reminded that the United States is not only the world's wealthiest nation but the wealthiest society that has existed anywhere, ever. The U.S. government can easily pick up the tab for people inconvenienced by bad weather--if helping them is a priority. That goes double for Katrina, a disaster caused by the government's conscious decision to eliminate the $50 million pittance needed to improve New Orleans' levees.


Disaster relief is too important to be left to private fundraisers, with their self-sustaining fundraising expenses, administrative overhead (nine percent for the Red Cross) and their parochial, often religious, agendas. It's also way too expensive. In the final analysis, after the floodwaters have receded and the poor neighborhoods of New Orleans have been razed under eminent domain, major charities will be lucky if they've managed to raise one percent of the total cost of Katrina. Congress, recognizing the reality that only the federal government possesses the means to deal with the calamity, has already allocated $58 billion--over 70 times the amount raised by charities--to flood relief along the Gulf of Mexico. As Bush says, that's only a "down payment."


Granted, in terms of popularity of likelihood of success, trying to make a case against giving money to charities compares to lobbying against puppies. The impulse to donate, after all, is rooted in our best human traits. As we watched New Orleanians die of thirst, disease and anarchic violence in the face of Bush Administration disinterest and local government incompetence, millions of us did the only thing we thought we could to do to help: cut a check or click a PayPal button. Tragically, that generosity feeds into the mindset of the sinister ideologues who argue that government shouldn't help people--the very mindset that caused the levee break that turned Katrina into a holocaust and led to official unresponsiveness. And it is already setting the stage for the next avoidable disaster.
I'm not about to pull the Red Cross banner just yet, but after reading this piece, the thought has crossed my mind.

The Liberal Media

Let's just dismiss this myth as fiction once and for all... Hell, this Washington Post editorial reads like a parody from The Onion:

John G. Roberts should be confirmed as chief justice of the United States. He is overwhelmingly well-qualified, possesses an unusually keen legal mind and practices a collegiality of the type an effective chief justice must have. He shows every sign of commitment to restraint and impartiality. Nominees of comparable quality have, after rigorous hearings, been confirmed nearly unanimously. We hope Judge Roberts will similarly be approved by a large bipartisan vote.


Judge Roberts represents the best nominee liberals can reasonably expect from a conservative president who promised to appoint judges who shared his philosophy. Before his nomination, we suggested several criteria that Mr. Bush should adopt to garner broad bipartisan support: professional qualifications of the highest caliber, a modest conception of the judicial function, a strong belief in the stability of precedent, adherence to judicial philosophy, even where the results are not politically comfortable, and an appreciation that fidelity to the text of the Constitution need not mean cramped interpretations of language that was written for a changing society. Judge Roberts possesses the personal qualities we hoped for and testified impressively as to his belief in the judicial values. While he almost certainly won't surprise America with generally liberal rulings, he appears almost as unlikely to willfully use the law to advance his conservative politics.

Mr. Editor, for all intent and practical purposes, this "editorial" appears to be nothing more than an endorsement bought and paid for by the Republican Party. Maybe next time try being a little more subtle and you might fool a few... Give your readers some credit. Give me a fucking break.

Take what you want, leave what you don't.

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