Friday, June 30, 2006

Fridays Collection Of Interesting Posts

A few items to check out.

About the Gaza Strip, a brief but important point is raised at Stage Left.

Laurinline takes a look at how little some in the Senate appear to understand about net neutrality.

The loathsome behavior of supposed Christian Tom DeLay, is noted at Big Fat Liberal.


Another Freaking Investigation.

This time, rape and murder.

Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.

These things are coming in at the rate of 2 a week now.


Just A Quick Reminder,

we are not at war.

At least we have not declared war. Our activity in both Afghanistan (S.J. Res. 23) and Iraq (H.J. Res. 114) were authorized by Congress, but they did stop short of declaring war.

It makes me wonder why the President keeps claim war powers, and the press keeps talking about Bush's wartime powers.

Since, we are not at war.

PS We have declaired war 11 times, the last time in 1942 (against some nations allied to Germany)


Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Little Wisdom From Gen. Spears

Don't mess with our guard troops durring hurricane season.

South Carolina officials want the National Guard to reconsider a request for 150 troops from the Palmetto State to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

“‘Whoa, I think we’ve done enough,’” Maj. Gen. Stan Spears, the state’s adjutant general, recalled saying when he was called by the National Guard Bureau on Tuesday.

The request caught Spears and his commanders off guard because leaders of the National Guard Bureau had said earlier that troops from coastal states like South Carolina would not be tapped for the border duty during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.


Winning Hearts And Minds

Interview with Taliban Commanders & Bombed Afghan Villagers

At least it appears that these men don't want to fight, they just want to be left alone.

Court Rules Against Bush

and his judicial black hole in Cuba.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Government Official

and Jack Abramoff buddy is taking a fall.

Roger Stillwell, the desk officer for the Mariana Islands at the U.S. Department of the Interior who dealt closely with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of false certification, his attorney confirmed Wednesday.

Department of Justice officials charged Stillwell, 65, with filing a financial-disclosure report for fiscal year 2003 that "falsely certified that he did not receive reportable gifts from a prohibited source,"

It will be interesting to see if he is now helping with the investigation. I am sure that folks at TPM Muckraker will keep on top of it and keep us informed.


For The Next Few Years

The comings and goings in my church could be very entertaining.

Aspects of the global Anglican Communion are very unhappy with the US (and Canadian) church, and are demanding that we 'conform'. One major bit of trouble with this demand is that is just not the way the communion has worked in the past. Each nation's church basically ran itself, with it leader (ours is a woman, another sore point for some) working as equals with the leaders of the other churches in the communion. How a church operated within it's own jurisdiction was (for the most part) it's own concern.

Well, to address the demands of the less progressive churches in the communion, the The Archbishop of Canterbury, is floating some new ideas, including what appears to be a rule book for membership.

Under his long-term plan, first disclosed in The Daily Telegraph last month, all provinces will be given the chance to sign a "covenant", which will restrain them from acting unilaterally on contentious issues.

Those that did not - up to a third have expressed doubts - would be able to continue pushing through their divisive reforms without destroying the rest of the Church. But they would lose their voting rights at key Anglican summits where policy is decided.

The key point that struck me was that this action will effect far more than the US and Canada. It is a safe bet that Scotland and New Zealand will refuse, and it is clear that others may be strongly inclined to resist the efforts to force central control onto a body that has never embraced it in the past.


Run-Off Results Are In

Ravenel performs as expected and Bauer makes a stunning comeback to both advance to the November elections.

Bauer's team did an amazing job of getting out the votes in Lexington, and that appears to be what saved him.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Runoff Day In South Carolina's Primary

A day when maybe 1% of the population gets to decide the closest of races.

It makes primary day look like a wild free for all.


More Evidence Homosexuality Is The Natural

State of existence for some.

A new study indicates that the number of older brothers born to the mother is a factor in homosexual orientation

The more biological older brothers a man has, the greater the likelihood that he will be gay, according to scientists. The result suggests that a man's sexual orientation may be influenced by the conditions in his mother's womb when he was a foetus.

Very interesting and another indicator that having a homosexual orientation is like being left handed, a natural occurrence.

Of course I don't expect scientific studies to impact those who are prejudiced against gays. They would have to have an open mind in the first place, and the nature of prejudice makes it very unlikely that many have a willingness to accept new information.


A Quick Iraqi Update

Three weeks ago terrorist leader Al-Zarqawi was killed, two weeks ago Baghdad was locked down with 50,000 troops deployed to assure security, last week a plan for reconciliation was leaked out, and today, the war rolls on.

Bombings and other civil war violence took the lives of at least 60 Iraqis on Monday. In addition, guerrillas kidnapped 10 Sunni students who were attending a technical institute in Shiite East Baghdad.

And, the US forces keep suffering loses, with two more killed.


Not A Real Surprise

and it is progress (or a sort), Hamas 'implicitly accepts Israel'.

Palestinian militant group Hamas has agreed to a document backing a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, officials say. The initiative, devised by prisoners held in Israeli jails, implicitly recognises the Jewish state.

This is expected and only a small step, but at least it appears to be a step in the right direction.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Rush Detained?

For drugs!

WEST PALM BEACH Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.

For a man who appeared to support summary execution for drug use, he sure does love them.


Isn't our champion of family values recently divorced (from his third wife), why does he need viagra? I am amazed that anyone on the right actually admits to listening, much less agreeing with this hypocritical wind bag.


Another Useless Vote Coming Up

One of the standard election year bits of foolishness is headed to the Senate floor this week. The Anti Flag Burning Amendment is again coming up for a vote, and this time it may be close.

we can expect about every Republican to support this little bit of repressive politics, and a few scared Democrats will join them.

Lets hope that wisdom beats out politics, that liberty defeats political cynicism, and our freedom is preserved and this joke is voted down.

The foolishness came close, but failed by one vote.

A great quite from MSNBC's coverage.

"Our country's unique because our dissidents have a voice," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, a World War II veteran who lost an arm in the war and was decorated with the Medal of Honor.

"While I take offense at disrespect to the flag," he said, "I nonetheless believe it is my continued duty as a veteran, as an American citizen and as a United States senator to defend the constitutional right of protesters to use the flag in nonviolent speech."


Every Wonder Why

The Bush administration and the Republicans are so opposed to a timetable or milestones in the Iraq planning?

Because, those would make it easier to spot when we were not making progress.

As long as you can hide the truth (and not having a timetable or milestones is a great help) , people are lees likely to hold you accountable.


While The Democrats Were

Encouraging the planning for redeployment and withdrawal from Iraq, and the Republicans were busy calling the Democrats traitors and cowards, and screeching 'cut and run', the military was quietly developing a plan for redeployment and withdrawal from Iraq.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects steep reductions in the U.S. military presence there by the end of 2007, The New York Times reported on Saturday.

Citing U.S. officials with knowledge of a classified Pentagon briefing this week by Gen. George Casey, the Times said the first cuts would come in September, and the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq is then projected to fall to five or six from the current level of 14 by the end of next year.

Kinda funny how both the Democrat's plan and the Army's plan sound a bit similar. So, I guess, in the eyes of many Republicans, Gen. George Casey is also a coward and traitor for suggesting that we cut and run.

What is interesting is that this plan exist at all (if this story is correct). There are clear indicators that the current security situation is no better than it has been over the last two years. Despite a draconian lockdown in Baghdad, violence continues unabated, and last week there was another spike in US losses.

Japan is leaving, the UK is reducing it's forces, and there still appears to be no security in any developed portion of Iraq (outside of some Kurdish areas). There is little reason to think that the Iraqi forces are in any position to step up to the task.

It leaves one to ponder why is Casey looking at withdrawal at this point.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Same Old Canard, Again

As Bush was busy making nice to the nations of Europe he did slip in a little dig, blaming them for not supporting him in his decision to attack Iraq.

The excuse, Europe didn't get 'it', 9-11 changed everything. But, what did 9-11 change that Europe didn't understand?

Is it the terrorism that changed everything? The trouble with that argument is terrorism is not new. Terrorist have been attacking in Europe far more than they have in the US. Terror as a weapon is as old as human conflict, and has been a tool of war as long as there have been wars. The leaders in Europe know about, and have been fighting against terror at least as long as we have.

Maybe it is the type of terror that they just did not understand. This position also has huge holes in it. Planes have been hijacked since at least 1948, Hijackings are not new, and there have been a number of terrorist hijacking all around the world, they have to be aware of this fact. Could it be the idea of using a hijacked plane to attack a building that changed everything? This isn't a new or original concept, it was even used as a plot device in a Tom Clancey novel.

Was it an attack on American interest, or American soil that caused the change?Attacks that kill Americans, or on American soil are old news, have we forgotten Pan Am 103 or the Oklahoma City bombing?

Nothing about 9-11 was new, and should not have surprised anyone. If Bush had listened to his CIA briefers, focused on his presidential briefings or listened to the previous administrations warnings, there would be no reason to be shocked by the world trade center attacks. Only someone who didn't think it could happen could be so shocked by an event to have it 'change everything'.

On September 11, The only thing that Bush was sure that needed changing was his soiled underclothing.

Maybe the guilt Bush felt for having ignored the warnings, mixing the stark fear that the incident produced in him, led him to feel that everything has changed. He has developed irrational policies with unclear goals in an effort to make the world as safe as an infants crib. The trouble is, nothing, not even an infants crib can be made perfectly safe.

Over twenty years ago, as an undergrad, we talked about the risks of international and domestic terrorism. How it was difficult to have an open society and still stop some events. How perfect security could not be achieved. We looked at various means of attacking society, and considered some horrific events. One thing was clear, terrorism is just martial arts played on a grander scale. The goal of an attack is not the direct harm caused to the target by the attack, they want to use the energy of our response to get us to harm ourselfs.

For those who knew this could happen, the reaction was much more rational. Destroy those who attacked us. Use the full force of our military and diplomatic might to kill, capture, imprison and marginalized anyone involved.

Then step back, evaluate why the terrorist evolved in the first place. Find ways to erode the system that supported the development of those who would engage in or support terror. Find peaceful ways to counter those calling for resistance, and invest in intelligence so that you are aware when new threats start to develop. The harsh truth about radicals is you can never prevent them from existing, but with wise programs, you can prevent them from developing a critical mass of support to do real harm to our nation.


You can be scared to the point that, after you change into clean drawers, you lash out in every direction, and as a result contribute to the growth of the roots of the very terrorism movement you are trying to destroy.

Then you can blame others, for not understanding that 9-11 changed everything.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Some Friday Reading

That is worth your time.

Gervais S. Bridges at Barbecue and Politics has an outstanding 5 part story about Howard Rich and the money he is sneaking into South Carolina Politics.

Could it be the White House who is leaking information on domestic spying to the NY Times? No More Mr. Nice Blog makes a fun argument for that position.

AmericiaBlog points out the corruption of Ralph Reed (R-Ga.).

The foolishness of those claiming the we have found Iraqi WMDs is examined by the Heretic on the American Street.


Iraq To Offer A Plan To End The Occupation

From the Times of London.

Some of the Key points.

A timeline of withdrawal of All occupation forces, Something Senate republicans voted down yesterday.

The US must halt operations against insurgents.

An end to human rights violations, including violations by US troops

Compensation for victims of attacks made by US troops.

and some other items to foster inclusion and disarm militias.

It is funny, The Democrats what a time line for withdraw of forces, the Iraqi's want a time line, the governments of the world want a time line, but the Republicans want us to stay forever.


Terror Cell Arrested In Miami

A very good job by law enforcement, but I have to say these guys sound a lot like that Canadian amateur hour operation broken up a few days ago.

At this very early point in the disclosure of information, I think the items that stand out the most to me are the facts that this group is basically American, appear angered by the ongoing war in Iran, and without the encouragement of the FBI informant (plant?) would not have been able to do more than dream.

Now, may they be found guilty and sent away for a long time, and may a few more people grow to understand that it is our attack of Iraq that is creating more terrorist, not reduced them. London's attack has been confirmed to have been inspired by the Iraq war, information about the Canadian cell and the Miami sell look to produce the same result.


Ney's (R-Oh) Water Is Gettign Hotter

Ney has been in hot water for a while now, but a just released Senate report will make it much hotter.

It's Bob Ney's memory vs. everyone else's. The version of the story that prevails could exonerate the besieged GOP congressman or land him in court.

In an account released Thursday of Ney's first-ever interview with investigators probing the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal, the congressman claimed he was unfamiliar with a Texas Indian tribe that gave him more than $30,000 in political donations and whose legislation he promised to back.

Ney also told investigators from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that he "could not recall ever meeting with any member" of the Tigua tribe of El Paso, Texas, which was asked to pay for Ney's August 2002 Scotland golf trip and whose leaders vividly described meeting Ney after he returned from that trip.

Opps, another lie exposed in the web of lies that Jack Abramoff's activity created.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Which Facist Said It?

Adolf Hitler or Ann Coulter?

The Hitler vs. Coulter Quiz

You got 10 citations correct!

Hat tip to Dispatches From the Culture Wars


A Rather Quick Cup Exit

Ghana 2 USA 1

No wins, 1 tie, 2 loses.

But there is good news, the Rugby World Cup is only 1 year away.


Afghanistan Heating Up Even More

We are now seeing a notable increase in combat. The locals leaders are very unhappy with our operations, even President Karzai is denouncing the numbers of afghans who are being killed in our efforts.

The last couple of days provide stark examples of the cost. The US had four men killed today, Canada had 6 injured yesterday, the toll on the NATO force in Afghanistan is increasing.

Al Qaida is pumping up it's anti US efforts, urging the people to resist the new government and the armed forces that are supporting it.

This is 4 years after the Taliban governmnent fell. For three years we had the opportunity to crush the remains of the Taliban and Al Qaida, and build infrastructure. Instead of doing that, we diverted our efforts to Iraq, and left all but Kabul to their own devices.

And today, Afghanistan is more unstable than it has been in years, and in Iraq, more US blood is poured into the sand. Both the result of the foolish decision to invade Iraq.


The Bush's Plan In Iraq

For anyone who knows anything about 'W's history it is no surprise:

Like Nixon, he doesn't want to be known as a president who 'lost' a war, so he will stay the course. He will do nothing to find a new path, and let someone else be stuck with cleaning up his mess once he is gone.

That is why the Bush rally cry is Stay the Course, and they take such pains to denounce those who want to consider other paths. This is political decision not a strategic one. The decision to extend this policy is based not on winning in Iraq, but appearing to not lose. A more truthful rally cry from this administration would be, spend and spend. He is spending billions of our dollars and he is spending the blood of the youth to safe face. He just has to last 30 more months so the loss the of the war is not on his watch.

This is his pattern, he did this with his guard responsibility, he did this with his various failed businesses, and he is doing it with our nation. He runs them into the ground, bankrupts them, and then runs off and leaves the mess behind. He has started a war that will make the situation in the middle east far worse for us, and is now stalling so he will not have to deal with the mess he has created. He has no goal except to not lose until he is out of office and will work to make sure that someone else has to try to put Humpty back together.

So now he, with the full assistance of his rubber stamp republican congress, will consider no alternative but continuing down this path to failure. But, as long as that failure stays hidden till 2009, 'W' will consider it a great success.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

When The Truth Hurts

Hide from it, and then prevent others from learning about it.

Nothing like a little censorship with your breakfast. Welcome to the People's Republic of Kentucky.

UPDATE: I'm getting flooded with e-mails and a couple of phone calls from readers in other cabinets -- and other elected constitutional offices -- that the site has been blocked. But what's interesting is there's no problem allowing state workers to access the Republican Party of Kentucky or Fox News or Drudge Report or at least one conservative Kentucky blog. Pathetic.

It seem like the Republican led government in Kentucky is trying to practice a little selective censorship. John Marshall lays it out nicely.

Okay, the scandal-hobbled Gov. Ernie Fletcher started this morning banning the site of one of his biggest critics (who's successfully moved the scandals now engulfing his administration). That was the Then they blocked and now TPM too. Paul Kiel called the state tech folks and at first they denied it. But now they're not taking any questions.

They Will Face Murder Charges

The Marines (and one Navy sailor) who are being held in San Deigo will be facing charges in the shooting on an Iraqi man in Hamandiya.

The case relates to claims an Iraqi man was deliberately killed in Hamandiya.

It is one in a series of inquiries into the alleged abuse or killing of Iraqis by coalition forces.

Another Pentagon inquiry is looking into an alleged massacre at Haditha last November, in which 24 civilians are thought to have been killed.

For those keeping count this will make 11 soldiers brought up on charges in less than a week.


Industrial Scale Terrorism

Just another indicator of just how bad things are in Iraq.

Gunmen have abducted at least 80 Iraqi factory workers from a fleet of buses just north of Baghdad, officials say. The abduction took place at a state-owned factory complex at Taji where dozens of insurgents commandeered buses taking employees home after work.

A source quoted by Reuters news agency said the number of those kidnapped was at least 100 and possibly many more.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bush Administration White House Official Is Guilty

4 of the 5 felony charges against him were proven.

The trial consumed eight days of testimony about Safavian's assistance to Abramoff regarding government-owned real estate and a weeklong golfing excursion the lobbyist organized to the famed St. Andrews golf course in Scotland and London. Safavian went on the trans-Atlantic trip while he was chief of staff at the General Services Administration, and other participants were Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, two Ney aides and Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed.

A collection of Republican heavy hitters, and now one is headed off to the pen.


Ichiro Comes Marching Home Again

When Iraqi troops take over security in Samawah, the Japanese forces there, engaged in humanitarian and support work, are going home.

Japan had said its withdrawal from the southern city of Samawa would have to be coordinated with the British and Australian governments, whose troops have been providing security for the roughly 550 Japanese non-combat troops there.

Japan's military activities overseas are limited by its pacifist constitution, although the government has been stretching those restrictions in recent years.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the Australian troops would keep "looking after the Japanese until the Japanese have gone, and I expect that to be quite soon."

Japan has been hinting at withdraw for a while now, and the removal of their protective force makes the perfect excuse.


Monday, June 19, 2006

So How Do We Treat Those We Capture?

Beating; punching with fists; use of truncheons; kicking; slamming against walls; stretching or suspension (to tear ligaments or muscles to cause asphyxia); external electric shocks; forcing prisoners to abase and to urinate on themselves; forced masturbation; forced renunciation of religion; false confessions or accusations; applying urine and feces to prisoners; making verbal threats to a prisoner and his family; denigration of a prisoner's religion; force-feeding; induced hypothermia and exposure to extreme heat; dietary manipulation; use of sedatives; extreme sleep deprivation; mock executions; water immersion; "water-boarding"; obstruction of the prisoner's airway; chest compression; thermal burning; rape; dog bites; sexual abuse; forcing a prisoner to watch the abuse or torture of a loved one.

At least according to Stephen Mills new book these are the interrogation techniques seen in US camps.

For the sake of those two soldiers missing in Iraq, I hope their captors don't follow our example. I pray for these men, but don't hold out much hope.


Media reports indicate that our mens bodies have been found, there are indications of torture.


Some News Bits From Iraq

Italy still wants to put a US soldier on trial in the death of an Italian intelligence officer.

The Saddam show trial marches on, with the prosecution demanding execution.

A group with ties to Al Qauda in Iraq is claiming that they have captured the missing US troops, and American forces are again trying to clamp down on Ramadi.


What We Say In Public

What we say in private.

When things are not going well at home, or work, we seldom air that dirty laundry for all to see. When asked we offer a quick response, we're fine, jobs the same, it's going great. Only in private do we discuss the late bills, the lousy job review, the unpleasant reality that may face us. The truth we have to hide to save face.

Our government does the same thing. Bush flys to Iraq, spends 5 hours in fort green zone, declares another turning point, and flys home. Isn't it great how courageous he is, isn't this a clear sign of progress and hope.

The we get to hear the private conversation, and it is scary.

-- "Personal safety depends on good relations with the 'neighborhood' governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors."

-- One embassy employee had a brother-in-law kidnapped. Another received a death threat, and then fled the country with her family.

-- Iraqi staff at the embassy, beginning in March and picking up in May, report "pervasive" harassment from Islamist and/or militia groups. Cuts in power and rising fuel prices "have diminished the quality of life." Conditions vary but even upscale neighborhoods "have visibly deteriorated" and one of them is now described as a "ghost town."

-- Two of the three female Iraqis in the public affairs office reported stepped-up harassment since mid-May...."some groups are pushing women to cover even their face, a step not taken in Iran even at its most conservative." One of the women is now wearing a full abaya after receiving direct threats.

-- It has also become "dangerous" for men to wear shorts in public and "they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts." People who wear jeans in public have also come under attack.

-- Embassy employees are held in such low esteem their work must remain a secret and they live with constant fear that their cover will be blown. Of nine staffers, only four have told their families where they work. They all plan for their possible abductions. No one takes home their cell phones as this gives them away. One employee said criticism of the U.S. had grown so severe that most of her family believes the U.S. "is punishing populations as Saddam did."

-- Since April, the "demeanor" of guards in the Green Zone has changed, becoming more "militia-like," and some are now "taunting" embassy personnel or holding up their credentials and saying loudly that they work in the embassy: "Such information is a death sentence if overheard by the wrong people." For this reason, some have asked for press instead of embassy credentials.

-- "For at least six months, we have not been able to use any local staff members for translation at on-camera press events....We cannot call employees in on weekends or holidays without blowing their 'cover.'"

-- "More recently, we have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames. In March, a few staff members approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate."

-- The overall environment is one of "frayed social networks," with frequent actual or perceived insults. None of this is helped by lack of electricity. "One colleague told us he feels 'defeated' by circumstances, citing his example of being unable to help his two-year-old son who has asthma and cannot sleep in stifling heat," which is now reaching 115 degrees.

-- "Another employee tell us that life outside the Green Zone has become 'emotionally draining.' He lives in a mostly Shiite area and claims to attend a funeral 'every evening.'"

-- Fuel lines have grown so long that one staffer spent 12 hours in line on his day off. "Employees all confirm that by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without.....One staff member reported that a friend lives in a building that houses a new minister; within 24 hours of his appointment, her building had city power 24 hours a day."

-- The cable concludes that employees' "personal fears are reinforcing divisive sectarian or ethnic channels, despite talk of reconciliation by officials."

The stories that this administration are telling are all about saving face (and holding on to control in the 2006 elections). They know how bad things are, but like to pretend otherwise.

The trouble is, we are all responsible for finding a viable solution, and without all the information, we can not be assured of making the right choices. And that is why Bush hides the truth and engages in PR Stunts. He knows that one of the choices that we have to make is to pick who will be in charge as we try to fix what he has broken, and it is in his own self interest to not let that side of the truth out.


We Have A New Presiding Bishop

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

I don't know enough about her to make an informed statement about her new roll, but I am hopeful. There are voices within the church, that I respect, who appear to think that optimism and joy are the best responses.

Unfortunately, this will also set off some on the right wing of the church. However, many of them appear determined to be upset, so let there anger be directed at the gall of our church for selecting a woman to lead. A battle we first fought 20 years ago.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Fridays Collection Of Post

that should be visited.

T Bogg notes that for many on the right, the natural response to terror is,not so much anger or sorrow but a loss of bladder control.

A very good look at the proposed flag amendment is a must read at Dispatched From The Culture War.

Also at Dispatched From The Culture War the immaturity and gross stupidity of some of the Stop the ACLU types is on display


Just Another sign

Of just how screwed up things are in Iraq. Iraqi officials have now admitted that they don't even control their own prisons, independent militias do.

Iraq's prison system is overrun with Shiite Muslim militiamen who have freed fellow militia members convicted of major crimes and executed Sunni Arab inmates, the country's deputy justice minister said in an interview this week.

"We cannot control the prisons. It's as simple as that," said the deputy minister, Pusho Ibrahim Ali Daza Yei, an ethnic Kurd. "Our jails are infiltrated by the militias from top to bottom, from Basra to Baghdad."

But, when they step up, we can stand down.

Just another useless soundbite, that offers no real hope, and no real plan.


Doing The Right Thing

Last night the House Democrats voted 99 to 58 to act to remove William Jefferson (D-La) from his position on the Ways and Means Committee while the investigation into how $90,000.00 ended up in his freezer is resolved (along with a number of other equally interesting charges).

For this to become official the whole house would have to vote to approve the action, or Jefferson could offer to step aside while the investigation continues.

It is refreshing to see one party has the courage to do the right thing, it is a shame that the majority party (republicans) appear to lack the same sense of morality when dealing with their own (Cunningham, DeLay, Ney, Frist and others).


Some Good News About Energy Prices?

It appears that stockpiles of natural gas are far above seasonal normals, and import capacity is well under used. Unless there is a drastic change in circumstances there is a reasonable chance that consumer level prices may see noticeable declines.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Biggest Advantage In Killing Zarqawi

Will not be the removal of a murderous thug (since another will step up into that roll), but should be the intelligence we gathered at the bombing site.

Lets all hope that it is put to very good use.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I Hope You Are Not Buying What He Is Selling

Bush is home from Baghdad, and his 5 hour tour, and is telling us just how well things are developing. He is busy putting all the spin he can into the current state of affairs in Iraq.

I have no clue what he sees, but when I look at today's Iraq, I see alot of hurt (watch the video)

Hat tip to Jesus' General


Fraud Is Going To Happen

But how can this much fraud happen?

WASHINGTON - The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.

We have to be able to assist those in need, but we can not just show up and throw money away in every direction.

And it is clear that after the miserable initial response to Katrina, FEMA responded by simply giving away money without any effective oversight.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Civil War Heads North

With Kirkuk being targeted by bombers.

Kirkuk is home to Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens who claim ownership of the city and the oil-rich lands around it.

The first bombing is believed to have taken place at about 0730 (0330 GMT).


About 30 minutes later, a suspected suicide car bomber tried to ram the main police headquarters. Two policemen and three civilians were killed, Gen Qadir said.

The offices of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Kurdish PUK party were also targeted. Police opened fire on a suspected suicide car bomber, causing the vehicle to explode.

In another attack, a district police chief was wounded and his bodyguard killed in a bomb attack. A further bomb went off as people gathered at the scene.


Rove (R-Turdblosom) In The Clear

His lawyers have been advised that no charges will be filed against him in the current investigation.

Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one of President Bush's most trusted advisers.

It is clear that when a case involved high ranking political officials (from either party), even very powerful prosecutors may not have all the tools needed to get all the information needed to prove a case. The administration worked hard to muddy the water and traditional legal processes have difficultly when that happens. So, now the best hope for holding Rove (and others) accountable for his treasonous outing of a covert CIA agent will be a congressional investigation, and that will not happen until the Democrats have control of at least one of the houses of congress. A congress that lacks the courage to investigate domestic spying, will never have the nads to investigate what may be the most powerful republican in the land.

Another reason to vote Democrat in 2006. Without proper check in place our government will become even more corrupt.


Primary Day In S.C.

A day when about 10% of the population of the state will effectively get to select three quarters of the office holders, including most of the major positions.

Isn't democracy, as practiced in South Carolina, grand.


Kennedy (D-RI) Pleads to DUI Charge

Under the influence of prescription drugs.

It is refreshing to see someone in a position of power accept responsibility, especially when they could have tried to fight the charges


Alberto Is Headed Ashore

The years first tropical storm is headed for Florida, and this should be good news. He isn't real strong, and should bring some much needed rain to the area.


I may have spoken to soon, it appears that Alberto is trying to grow a little more. It may end up be more than was hoped for.


It nows apears that Alberto will not grow into a Cat 1 storm. He is also tracking a little bit further north, and that means more much needed rain for the Mislands of SC. Good news all around


Another Bush PR Stunt.

A quickie visit to Baghdad.

Bush will spend 20 hours in the air, for 5 hours of photo ops in the Green Zone, the only 'safe' area in the middle of the country that he destroyed.

I guess it is time to pull out all the stops to get those poll numbers up. I wonder if they brought the mission accomplished banner with them, and where they will hang it this time?


Monday, June 12, 2006

Czech Republic Destroying USA

In their first round would cup game. With a few minutes left it is 3-0 Czech, in a game that was seen by many where the US had to have at least a tie.

Once we get past the soccer would cup, we can focus on the real world cup, France 2007.

3-0 was the final


Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Never Ending Deployment

The hard core Bush imperialist still dream of keeping US forces in Iraq forever.

Congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country, a lawmaker and congressional aides said on Friday.


As originally passed by the House of Representatives, the Pentagon would have been prohibited from spending any of the funds for entering into a military basing rights agreement with Iraq.

A similar amendment passed by the Senate said the Pentagon could not use the next round of war funding to "establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq."

The dream of an American global empire seem to still be alive for a few of the Neo-Cons.

So as our men keep dying, some in D.C. seemed determined to assure that this bleeding continues for decades.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Friday's Collection

Of post worth visiting.

Lynne, at Big Fat Liberal spends a few seconds looking at what gay marriage means to some, the bigotry involved in supporting the marriage amendment

And sticking to that subject, how gay marriage has effected Canada is the focus at Mike and Dean's Cross-Border Tag Team.

Badtux The Snarky Penguin; Learning English isn't the only American value that Bush hopes new immigrants will embrace.


The Decline Of Civility

In politics is often noted, and denounced. There are constant cries to find paths to polite discourse, and questions as to how our system has decayed so badly.

At one time, I too preached the you can disagree without being disagreeable mantra, and still hope that one day that it may be true. Then I listen to vile pronouncements of Tom DeLay (R-indicted) and am reminded why things are the way they are.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

A Very Good Day

First, a thug removed from the face of the earth, and now the Paris Hilton walfare plan is voted down in the Senate.

Senators voted Thursday to block a Republican effort to shrink taxes on inherited estates during this election year.


Iraq Selects New Ministers

The vital defense positions in the Iraq government have, at last, been filled.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday presented his candidates for the key ministries of defense, interior and national security and parliament approved the choices, ending a 20-day impasse.

Not everyone was happy, but that is normal in any political system.

One point of note, the new selections appear to maintain the same dynamic that we have seen in the past. The Sunnis get defense, the Shia get interior, and a Kurd is now the national security adviser.

it will be interesting to see if this same combination that has not worked in the past will work now.


Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Which old witch?


Militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, blamed for killing thousands of Shias and US forces in Iraq, has been killed in an air raid. The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq died in a strike against an isolated safe house about 8km (five miles) north of Baquba, the US said.

The good news is the attack appears to have occurred during a meeting, and this should mean that several of his top aids have followed Al-Zarqawi to paradise.

The reality is, it is doubtful this will make a huge difference in the overall level of violence in Iraq. While the US worked vary hard to define Al-Zarqawi as the evil mastermind behind the insurgency, his group was a very small portion of the whole (less than 5%) and it is doubtful that killing of the leadership will inspire it members to quit.

Some will rebuild Al-Zarqawi's group (Al Qaeda in Iraq) and others will join other groups, or just freelance.

And the US will have to find another person to make the boogie man.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Marriage Amendment Dies

The right wing could not even get 50 votes to end debate, a clear sign that getting the 67 needed to pass this bad joke would never happen.

But that doesn't mean that the Republicans are done pandering to the religious right.

Republican leaders say the U.S. House of Representatives will take up the marriage amendment in July even though they do not expect it to get the two-thirds majority that a constitutional amendment requires for passage.

Pandering, posing, and stealing from the middle class to pay millionaires, that is all the republican party is good for at this point.


Not A Bad Retirement Payout

For a 'work at home' job that has lasted only 6 years, $490,000.00 (about 1,000.00 a week, I wish my retirement fund was growing that fast)

A registered lobbyist opened a retirement account in the late 1990s for the wife of then-House Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and contributed thousands of dollars to it while also paying her a salary to work for him from her home in Texas

Jefferson (D-La.) needs to chat with Tom DeLay (R-Tx) about really effective ways of getting cash for the family. This looks like a far better plan than stashing foil wraped cash in the freezer.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Lesson From Mogadishu and Kabul

that may apply to most of Iraq.

In the last 48 hours, the local warlords who controlled Mogadishu have been pushed out of the city. An Islamic army has taken charge of Somalia's capital, and now claims to control the area, up to 60 miles outside of the city limits.

For 15 years the warlords have fought over, and controlled various parts of the country and city. While international institutions, and world powers talked of liberty, democracy and freedom, the various factions held on to their territory, and fought among themselves. Somalia was, and still is, a failed state.

The situation in Mogadishu didn't change much from 1995 to 2000 to 2003, but starting in the last couple of years, some order and services started to be put into place. A few schools opened, medical clinics started to serve the population, and even courts (or a sort) started to function. These were not the actions of the warlords, who cared only about the accumulation of wealth and power for themselves, or of outside governments and institutions. These first steps of rebuilding society were undertaken by the Islamic Courts Union.

These limited steps have paid a huge benefit to the ICU.

In only a few months, the Islamic Courts Union has been able to do what no one else has been able to do in the last 15 years, get the warlords out of the city. For the first time in over a decade there is a group that the people of Mogadishu see as being interested in more than the accumulation of personal power and wealth. It is the support of a significant portion of the people that has enabled the Islamic Courts Union to finally clear this city of it's fueding warlords.

This doesn't mean that the people of Mogadishu fully support the Islamic Courts Union. This is not a nice group, it is thought to have ties to Al Quada, believes in Sharia law, and is in effect the Somali version of the Taliban. In Mogadishu there have been some protest against their victory, but at this point they appear limited in nature.

Like the Taliban, their rise to power appeared sudden, and only after years of civil conflict, and like the Taliban, I suspect that we will find that the primary reason for their ascendance to power was the populations wish for some form (any form) of order and stability. The people dreamed of the limited public services the ICU were able to provide. They now look for a little stability after years of strife and war. For years they saw no improvement in their lives, while they may hope for liberty, democracy and freedom, they are now just happy to have stability that the ICU may be able to provide.

This is how Afghanistan became home for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The people of Afghanistan are religious and conseravive, but it never appeared that a majority wanted an harsh theocratic Islamic state. But years of war, both revolutionary and civil, left them with a willingness to accept Tabalan rule in exchange for stability.

Now look at Iraq.

A nation that is now enduring years on instability. A nation where the situation is just getting worse. There are kidnapping on a grand scale,road side executions, drive by shootings, random bombings, and a dramatic decline in public services, a nonstop parade of personal loses. Power levels are less that before the war started, as is water service, sewer, oil exports, job opportunity and almost every other standard of living consideration.

Those who can leave are, and those who have to stay behind suffer. At some point, and I suspect some point relatively soon, They too will start to embrace the idea that stability is far more important than liberty, democracy and freedom. The logical end is yet another Taliban style Islamic state. Except in Iraq, unlike Somalia or Afghanistan, we will have a state that will be, with time, very rich.

The trouble that a rich theocratic Islamic state could create is frightening to consider.

And is something that our nation's actions created.


The Best Daily Iraq

News capsule is found at Juan Cole's Informed Comment. It should be visited every day.


June 6th

The real reason the 6th of June, in any year, is notable.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh, By The Way

The city of Mogadishu has been captured by an Islamic military force.

An Islamist militia says it has seized Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, after weeks of fighting against an alliance of warlords supported by the US.
The warlords have controlled the capital since they toppled Somalia's last effective government 15 years ago.

A meeting is being held to discuss the surrender of fighters still loyal to the warlords, said Islamist officials.

Interim Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi says his government wants to begin dialogue with the Islamists.

Our war on radical Islam seem to be going very well, doesn't it?


An Interesting Indicator Of Fatigue

or bias in the reporting of the news from Iraq.

As pointed out in Informed Comment, Sunday in Iraq was incredibly deadly, with what appear to be over 80 people killed.

While the US media is reporting a number of the incidents that occurred, no one seem to have noted the total number of people killed.

It appears that the press has become use to the daily parade of bodies, and doesn't even to bother to note the sum effect.


Jefferson (D-La) Was A Much More Effective

crook than I gave him credit for, or at least it appears that way.

it was quite a deal, one of several involving at least seven business entities, nearly a dozen family members and hundreds of thousands of dollars sloshing through bank accounts, all for Jefferson's personal benefit.

May he quickly be found guilty, then forced to room with either Rove, or Libby during his upcomming time in jail.


Friday, June 02, 2006

For Your Friday's Enjoyment

A few post of note.

The War on Drugs and the War on Terror has also started a small War on Jr. Scientist, Science, Shrimp and Grits explains how.

Sacraments Wholesale contemplates the South Carolina Republican primaries, RINOS, conservativism, and the Conservatives in Action PAC.

The hypocrisy and political agenda of the religious right is now available in a video game, Mike and Dean have the details.


O'Reilly, Again Exposed As A Fool

He tried to argue that it was US troops who did the killing at Malmedy during WWII.

Crooks and Liars has the full story, and Keith Obermans's correction of his factual misstep.

What a clown, without Faux News he would be unemployable.

Oh, and to make this a perfect example of what Bill O'Reilly really is, when he was call on this lie, he lied again, and claimed that he never said that, but was referring to later events inspired by the initial mass murder.

Unfortunately for him, it is all on tape, and what he said is very clear.


Two More Incidents In Iraq

are starting to get attention. While we are having to dig up the dead in Haditha, at least 2 more events are getting media notice.

Seven Marines and a sailor are facing charges for an April murder, and the Army is looking to an incident in Balad where as many as eleven civilians were killed.

The first incident appears to be rather conventional, while the second shows the continuing trend of cover-up and lies.

In Balad the Army initially reported only a few civilian casualties, that occurred while under fire. Only when the BBC got hold of a video of the incident did the story start to evolve to something that is starting to match up with the physical evidence at the site.

This recent series of exposed cover-ups dose raise a scary thought; How many other incidents have occurred that have been reported away as non events, or simple 'collateral damage'? It also shines a light on a depressing reality. The people of Iraq appear resigned to these types of events.

While the US population may be shocked, angered, saddened or defensive about these disclosures, the Iraqi's are clearly not surprised. They are responding like they know we do this, and they are powerless to do anything about it. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, well, that is what the Americans do.

Our reputation has declined to the point where some now consider mass murder to be an American trait. It makes one wonder why Al-Zarqawi is still pushing his civil war, the population may be more supportive of the effort against the USA.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Still Having Trouble Getting Their Facts Straight

This time in Afghanistan.

During the riots triggered by a traffic accident involving a US Army truck, the Army claimed that US troops fired into the air to disperse an angry crowd that gathered after the wreck.

Now the Army admits that the troops fired into the crowd.

U.S. military officials acknowledged Wednesday that American troops had fired at an angry mob that surrounded the scene of a traffic accident in the Afghan capital Monday morning. Officials previously had said the troops fired only in the air.

The armed forces seem determined to destroy any trust that exist between them and the American public.


More From Haditha

In January a reporter from the Telegraph visited the base of the unit that was involved.

None of the troops wanted to talk, but even a short stay with the men of the 3rd Bn 1st Marine Division in their camp located in Haditha Dam on the town's outskirts, made clear it was a place where institutional discipline had frayed and was even approaching breakdown.

Normally, American camps in Iraq are almost suburban, with their coffee shops and polite soldiers who idle away their rest hours playing computer games and discussing girls back home.

Haditha was shockingly different - a feral place where the marines hardly washed; a number had abandoned the official living quarters to set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out


The lifts were smashed, the lighting provided only a half gloom. Inside, the grinding of the dam machinery made talking difficult. The place routinely stank of rotten eggs, a by-product apparently of the grease to keep the turbines running.

The day before my arrival one soldier had shot himself in the head with his M16. No one would discuss why.

The washing facilities were at the top and the main lavatories at the base. With about 800 steps between them, many did not bother to use the official facilities.

Instead, a number had moved into small encampments around the dam's entrances that resembled something from Lord of the Flies.


I was never allowed to interview a senior officer properly, unlike during every other stint with American forces. The only soldiers willing to speak at length were those from the small Azerbaijani contingent whose role was to marshal the band of Iraqi engineers who kept the machinery going into and out of the facility.

The US troops liked them. "They have looser rules of engagement," one said admiringly in a rare, snatched conversation.

This does paint a very unsettling picture of the unit. It is no wonder that the US is now ordering core value training for all the troops in Iraq.