Friday, March 31, 2006

For Your Friday Enjoyment

Some links of interest


About the Kaloogian Baghdad Photo flap, over at Sadly No, more pictures peaceful and safe Baghdad have been released.


It appears that John McCain is opposed to a Marriage Amendment except when he favors one, details at Crooks and Liars.


The Green Knight wants to know, why does the media ignore main stream faiths, and focus only on the religious right.

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Former Tom Delay (R-Tx) Aid Expected To Plead

A second top DeLay aid is expected to plead out in the ongoing and ever growing Abramoff influence peddling investigation.

Tony Rudy, the former deputy chief of staff to DeLay, was expected to enter the guilty plea in federal court as part of a deal with Justice Department prosecutors, the sources said. He would be the second former DeLay aide to plead guilty in the probe.

Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of a scandal that has rattled top Republicans, has been cooperating in the federal investigation into whether Washington politicians gave his clients favorable treatment in exchange for campaign contributions, Super Bowl tickets and other illegal gifts.


I wonder what tales he will be telling the investigators.


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Earthquakes Hit Iran

Iran has been hit by a magnitude 5.7 - 6.0 earthquake. and aftershocks.

At least 66 people are dead after an earthquake and aftershocks razed villages in western Iran early Friday, and the death toll was growing. Hundreds of people are injured.


This is no where near the severity of the quake that destroyed Bam, but it, like all disasters, does give the US an opportunity. One thing we appear to do well (except at home) is respond to natural disasters. I hope the administration see the wisdom in offering aid and assistance as needed. Even if it is declined, there will still be a positive impact on the population of that nation.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Couple Of Extra Projects At Work

May keep the posting light for a couple of days.

UPDATE
These are not as nasty as I feared, I will be slowed, but not stopped.

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Mass. Court Ruling Makes Sense

I think it is unfortunate, but legal.

The court that made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage ruled Thursday that same-sex couples from other states where gay marriage is prohibited cannot marry here.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled in a challenge to a 1913 state law that forbids nonresidents from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriage would not be recognized in their home state.


So the battleground remains where it should be, in every state in the land that thinks it is acceptable to decsriminate against homosexuals.


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While There Was Good News From Iraq

The bad news continues.

Eight workers from Iraq's main oil refinery in Baiji were shot and killed after their minibus was stopped by gunmen on Thursday, according to authorities in Salaheddin province.

They were among 14 people killed in Iraq from ambush attacks and roadside bombings on Thursday. Three were working at a bakery, two were other civilians and one was a U.S. military member.

The U.S. military also reported Thursday that a U.S. soldier died from wounds received Tuesday.


he civil war in Iraq continues, and there is little reason to hope for an end any time soon.

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Some More Good News From Iraq

Jill Carroll, a journalist doing work for the Christian Science Monitor has been released.

American hostage Jill Carroll, a freelance journalist released Thursday in Iraq after nearly three months in captivity, said she was "treated very well" while she was held.

"They never said they would hit me. They never threatened me in any way," she said in a TV interview after her release.

The interview was broadcast by Baghdad Television, a station owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party. It was conducted inside the headquarters of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group.



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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Abramoff's First Sentence Is Handed Down

The opening bid is for 5 years and 10 months.

Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former business partner were sentenced Wednesday to five years and 10 months in prison for fraud related to their 2000 purchase of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet.


But this is only one of the investigations that Abramoff is part of, those go on.

Abramoff and Adam Kidan, who both pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, won't start their sentences immediately so they can continue cooperating in a Washington corruption investigation and a Florida probe into the murder of former SunCruz owner Konstantinos 'Gus' Boulis.




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Taliban Getting Frisky?

It appears they tried to attack a coalition base in Afghanistan.

Fierce fighting following an insurgent attack on a U.S.-led coalition base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed 32 suspected Taliban militants and two troops, one American and one Canadian, officials said.

Twelve militants were killed in the initial attack on the base in Helmand province's Sangin district, while another 20 were killed as the insurgents fled, a U.S. military statement said. Two buildings at a Taliban compound were later destroyed, it said.

The battle also wounded three Canadian soldiers, Canadian Brig. Gen. David Fraser told reporters at a base in southern Kandahar city. A U.S. military statement said an American soldier was also hurt.


They, like the Iraqis have, will learn that directt attacks will not work. Then they will have to decide if they want stop fighting, or continue the conflict in more unconventional means.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You Have To Love Power Mad Republicans

They don't just think the rules don't apply to them, they know they don't apply them.

Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer has been stopped at least twice for speeding in the past four months, but did not get a ticket. Information obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request shows Bauer was doing 101 miles an hour on Interstate 77 on February 25th in Chester County. Bauer radioed a dispatcher and tried to communicate with a trooper who was chasing him. The speed limit was 70 miles an hour. The trooper pulled along side and asked Bauer's name and left.

Bauer was stopped for going 77 or 78 miles an hour on Interstate 385 in Laurens County the day after Christmas. The speed limit was 65 miles an hour.


He might be a good choice for an appointment in the Bush administration, another collection of Republicans who know that the law doesn't apply to them.




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Two Regan Era Advisors Have Died

Both Casper Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger passed on today.

And now, I will follow my grandmothers advice.


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Iraqis Want The US To Cede Control

The politicians are steaming over the joint US, Iraq Army attack on a terrorist compound, or Shiite mosque complex (depending on who you ask), and they want to US to give up control of the security operation in the Baghdad area.

IRAQ'S ruling parties have demanded US forces cede control of security as the government investigated a raid on a Shiite mosque complex that ministers said involved "cold blooded" killings by US-led troops.


The play this story is getting in Iraq is devastating for the US position, but we are trying to fight back.

After 24 hours of limited communication, US commanders mounted a media offensive to deny Shiite accounts of a mosque massacre and portray instead a bold and disciplined operation by US-trained Iraqi special forces that killed 16 fighters and freed a hapless Iraqi hostage being held to ransom for $US20,000

"After the fact, someone went in and made the scene look different from what it was," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli said of footage aired extensively on state television showing the bodies of apparently unarmed civilians in a mosque.

"There's been huge misinformation," he said. He insisted he did not know the religious affiliation of the group targeted, although the raid was the fruit of lengthy intelligence work.


It took 24 hours for the US to start to argue it's case in public. The Shia side of the debate has been getting TV play, backing up their side of the story for a full day, and we can not even say we knew the religious affiliation of the very target we attacked.

It sure looks bad, someone has done a great job of controlling the spin on this story, and it has not be us.

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Time To Reshuffle The Deck

An expected and recommended step in the effort to make the White House's second term more viable has occurred, the ever popular staff shake-up.

Andrew Card is out.

White House chief of staff Andrew Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Joshua Bolten, President Bush announced Tuesday amid growing calls for a White House shake-up and Republican concern about BushÂ’s tumbling poll ratings.


It will be interesting to see if replacing a man almost no one has heard of can actually improve the poll numbers of two men the nation knows and dislikes or considers corrupt, or stupid.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Heck, Why Bother With Arguments At All

Lets just let Antonin Scalia wing it.

Scalia said bluntly that "foreigners, in foreign countries, have no rights under the American Constitution." In reference to detainees receiving civil court trials instead of facing military tribunals, Scalia said of a prisoner, "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy."


No, you should treat them according to the Geneva Accords, but since our President has decided that they no longer apply, then you have to establish some level of human rights protection.

Or, maybe, we can just throw them in a black hole and forget them, that seem to the position that Judge Scalia has already decided is best.

UPDATE

A group of retired U.S. generals and admirals has aksed Scalia to recuse himself in this case.
Any bets as to if this will actually happen.
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Tal Afar, Again

Just last week Bush was pointing to Tal Afar as one of our successes, today the joint US, Iraqi base was the target of a bombing.

Brig. Muhsin Al-Dolaki, vice commander of the 3rd Iraqi Army division at Camp Kasak put the death toll at 17 killed and 30 wounded.

The U.S. military said no American troops were hurt in the suicide bombing about 18 miles east of the ancient city of Tal Afar. The bomber struck shortly after noon at an Iraqi army recruiting center in front of the base.

President Bush singled out Tal Afar in a recent speech as a success story for American and Iraqi forces in the drive to quell the insurgency.


UPDATES

US and Iraqi forces attacked a terrorist cell and killed 16 supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, and an Iraqi doctor has confesed that he was working for Ansar al-Sunna when he used his medical skills to kill 35 injured police.

This last story is from Kurdish sources, so a little skepticism may be warranted, but it is another sign of the growing tensions between the various groups that exist within Iraq.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

How To Tell The Shia' Like The Direction Things Are Going

Someone lobbed a mortar at Muqtada al-Sadr.

A mortar round slammed to earth near Muqtada al-Sadr's home Sunday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, but the popular anti-American cleric was not hurt, an aide said.

A child and at least one guard were wounded in the attack, which hit some 165 feet from al-Sadr's home, according to police and al-Sadr aide Sheik Sahib al-Amiri. The aide said al-Sadr was home but was not injured.



And he called for calm.

"I call upon all brothers to stay calm, and I call upon Iraqi army to protect the pilgrims as the Nawasib (militants) are aiming to attack Shiites everyday,"






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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The War We Should Be Fighting Also Continues

And another US soldier has died.

U.S. and Afghan government troops attacked a group of Taliban on Saturday and seven of the insurgents and one American were killed, an Afghan commander said.

Afghanistan has seen a surge in attacks by Taliban and their militant allies in recent months and the Taliban have vowed to launch a spring offensive against U.S.-led foreign forces and the Western-backed government.




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The Corruption In Iraq

One company has been fined for it's criminal activity in Iraq, and the gross level of corruption in Iraq is clear for all to see.

Another example of this addition difficultly in the rehabilitation of Iraq has been exposed.

The Justice Department said the translator, Faheem Mousa Salam, 27, of Livonia, Mich., probably acting as an intermediary for others who have not yet been identified, offered tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to people inside the Iraqi Interior Ministry for a contract to provide some $1 million in flak jackets and other equipment to an organization that trains Iraqi police officers.


so, who could he have been an agent for? Well, at least this one was caught.

and

Is our government ever going to do anything to help control this crime.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Some worthwhile Friday Reading

Click over and check them out.


Orcinus is busy exposing the hate of some 'Christians'.


Greybeard over at Bending the Third Rail, has looked at John McCain's hiring of Terry Nelson and ask, is McCain lying or just incompetent.


The Green Knight looks at some of the high points in the body of work of Ben Domenech the Washington Post's new employee.

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The Deaths Go On, The Deaths Go On

Bombs keep pounding a rhythm to the brain

No end to Iraq shootings, bombings and killings


Drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and sectarian killings left 28 dead in Iraq on Friday. American and Iraqi troops swept the oil-rich region of Kirkuk for suspected insurgents and captured dozens.

A bombing outside a Sunni Muslim mosque after Friday prayers killed at least four worshippers and wounded 15 people north-east of Baghdad in the city of Khalis, the army said.

Drive-by gunmen killed three police officers in west Baghdad and three power-station workers heading to their jobs in Taji, just north of the capital, police said.


The same story, every day; Iraq's death by a thousand cuts.

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Paris Riots, Again

This time it is not disenfranchised Muslims, but this time it is not just the disenfranchised who are fighting.

Trade union leaders, who joined students and school pupils in opposing a new law that would make it easier to hire and fire young workers, accepted an invitation to meet the beleaguered prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, today.

They insisted, however, that they would not negiotiate unless Mr de Villepin withdrew the law, which is due to take effect next month. He has ruled out scrapping the measure and his offers of concessions have been rejected.


The rioters know that the new laws will have a direct and likely undesired impact of the potential quality of life that the youth of France hope for.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

And He Is Seen As A Moderate

Afghanistan Cleric Abdul Raoulf had this to say about Abdul Rahman, the Christian on trial for renouncing his Islamic faith.

"He is not mad. The government are playing games. The people will not be fooled," and "This is humiliating for Islam. ... Cut off his head."


And by local standards there is a good chance that Raoulf is a moderate.

That is why our gift of Democracy was not enough. We also needed to supply them with liberty and personal freedom. Without these protections, Democracy is nothing more than the tyranny of the majority.

And that is what they will have in Afghanistan, with Islamic law being allowed to overrule personal freedom.

Just another failure, in a long list of failures, of our current administration.

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Some Real, Good News From Iraq

Three hostages have been released.

U.S. and British troops Thursday freed three Christian peace activists in rural Iraq without firing a shot, ending a four-month hostage drama in which an American among the group was shot to death and dumped on a Baghdad street.


other points of note.

No kidnappers were present when the troops broke into a house in western Baghdad.

{snip}

the operation to free the captives was based on information from a man captured by U.S. forces only three hours earlier.

{snip}

Straw also gave few details of the operation, saying only that it followed ``weeks and weeks'' of planning.


The Christian Peacemakers, the group these men were working with, also called for coalition forces to leave Iraq.

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Ferry Sinkings

They can happen almost anywhere.

A Canadian Coast Guard vessel was still off B.C.’s north coast on Wednesday, scouring the choppy waters for fear there could yet be a missing passenger from a ferry that hit a rock and sank in the dead of night.


The difference appears to be how effective the emergency response is.

“Anytime you have a major incident and you have no one hurt or killed in this type of thing, I think you always think it’s a miracle,” David Hahn said. “You always think, thank God, and you (are) thankful for the crew. That’s what they’re trained to do. They’ve done their job once again.”


UPDATE
Ferrys Sink, this time in Cameroon

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Carol Crooks, Come On Down

You need to take another stab at Middle School.

Carol has written into the Greenville paper to denounce evolution. Her letter is interesting, and clearly shows she has no understanding of science at all.

The theory of evolution does not and cannot explain so much about the universe that we know. For instance, when and how did water evolve? How does it happen that gravity can hold us to the Earth, and at the same time allow us to step up without any trouble? How did it happen that the Earth is spinning at the exact rate that keeps us from feeling that movement?


Nor will the theory of evolution ever be able to explain water, gravity, or anything other than aspects biology, and evolution. That is the way science works, a theory will focus on a single subject, not every subject.

No wonder the Christian exodus people are looking so kindly upon Greenville. It is already pre seeded with people who just do not understand, anything.


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A Terror Group Backs Down

E.T.A. Call for a Cease Fire.

The aim of this decision is to promote a democratic process in Euskal Herria [the Basque Country] in order to build a new framework within which our rights as a people are recognised, and guarantee the opportunity to develop all political options in the future.

At the end of this process, Basque citizens must have a say on their future.


It is interesting how political developments, not brute force, may have been the driving force in ending the violence.

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We Are In Iraq For, Forever?

He finally admitted what many have suspected for a while, we are not leaving Iraq any time soon.

President George W. Bush said Tuesday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq for years and it will be up to a future president to decide when to bring them all home.


Can we afford to keep spending 11 Million dollars an hour for the next 3 years?

And the bigger question, in the end will it make any difference?

I think the answer to both is no.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tal Afar Is A Success?

That is how George described it yesterday.

President Bush on Monday held out the northern Iraqi city of Tall Afar as an example of U.S. success in the war, but he also acknowledged in remarks that were as grim as they were hopeful that the city's improvements were not matched in other parts of Iraq.

{snip}

U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major military offensive against the insurgents last fall, including the construction of an 8-foot dirt wall around the city to cut off escape routes. After successful combat operations were over, Bush said, more than 1,000 Iraqi forces were deployed to keep order.

"In short, you see a city coming back to life," Bush said.


unfortunately, the story doesn't end here.

But lately, residents say, the city has taken another dark turn. "The armed men are fewer," Nassir Sebti, 42, an air-conditioning mechanic, told a Washington Post interviewer Monday, "but the assassinations between Sunni and Shiites have increased."


So after having to attack the city twice, build a wall around it, and place a large force near by, it is still a city dealing with civil war and overt lawlessness. In addition, the plain truth is, this is a tactic that we do not have the force capacity to do except in a few select places. So even if, with time, it shows more real positive results, we lack the manpower to replicate it. If we withdraw our support force, Tall Afar will again be lost.

This conflict of perspective, where the administration claims victory (remember 'mission accomplished') where no victory exist, continues to expose Bush as either a serial liar, or just dumb as a post. Either trait is not seen, by most people, as a posititive in a national leader.


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The Archbishop Of Canterbury Says

Don't Teach Creationism In Schools.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism - the Bible-based account of the origins of the world - should be taught in schools.


Another wise voice of reason.


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And Another Lesson From Vietnam

Don't count on the local forces being able to defeat the insurgents.

The US Military has done an excellent job of forcing the insurgents in Iraq underground. Their direct attacks on US forces almost always end in abject failure. They do not stand a chance against the US military.

That doesn't mean that they are always ineffective.

Insurgents stormed a jail about dawn Tuesday in the Sunni Muslim heartland north of Baghdad, killing at least 17 policemen and a courthouse guard. Authorities said all 33 prisoners in the lockup were freed and 10 attackers were killed in the battle.

{snip}

After torching the police station, the insurgents detonated a string of roadside bombs as they fled, taking the bodies of many of their dead comrades with them, police said. At least 13 policemen and civilians and 15 gunmen were wounded in the attack.


This was an attack against a hard target, and it was very successful. When facing a foe that lacks air power, and high tech detection devices, the insurgents do present a real threat to the government's forces.

The hard truth is it will be years and years before the Iraqi military can stand up to anywhere near he level needed to defeat a widespread insurgency.

One other small point.

If the attackers removed their dead, how does the Iraqi or US government know ten insurgents were killed?




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Monday, March 20, 2006

One Supporter Of The Iraq Invasion

Appears to have changed his mind.

So after three years and at least 150,000 Iraqi corpses, can those of us who supported the toppling of Saddam Hussein for the Iraqis sake still claim it was worth it? (I am assuming the people who bought the obviously fictitious arguments about WMD are already hanging their heads in shame).


But, it looks like some prefer to stay in fantasy land.

Bush, speaking on the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, assured Americans that his administration is pursuing a strategy "that will lead to victory in Iraq,"


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Another Lesson Learned In Vietnam

That many may have forgotten. When traditional military forces are fighting an invisible enemy; When the constant grind of taking losses, but not being able to strike back; When they feel as if their unit is suffering a death by a thousand cuts, they will eventually strike back at those they can find.

A bloody videotape shot by a local Iraqi journalism student has prompted the Pentagon to launch a criminal investigation into an incident that left at least 15 Iraqi civilians dead in the city of Haditha.

The details of what happened four months ago in Haditha are just now coming to light with the release of the videotape by an Iraqi organization called Hammurabi Human Rights.


Without the vodeo tape this case, like most other accusations, would have been 'investigated, and dropped (if investigated at all).

The official press release said simply: "A U.S. Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb."

Military officials now acknowledge the Iraqis were not killed by the bomb but, they now say, by crossfire as U.S. Marines stormed the surrounding homes.

The military did not launch an investigation until two months after the incident, when Time magazine showed officials the video and eyewitness testimony.



And reports of these types of cases are starting to pile up.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi police have accused U.S. troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The villagers were killed after U.S. troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to a police document obtained by Knight Ridder.


But, since almost all will lack video evidence, and most are infact not the results of illegal acts, we in the US will not hear much about them.

But, in Iraq, they will be noticed, they will be talked about, and they will serve to further weaken our position in this country.

Another lesson of Vietnam that we appear to have forgotten


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

How Effective Will The Republicans Be

In cleaning up the lobbying system.

Well, the DC lobbyist are betting, the Republicans won't get it done

Some of Washington's top lobbyists say they expect to find ways around congressional efforts to impose new restrictions on lobbyists' dealings with lawmakers in the wake of the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, and they say any limits will barely put a dent in the billions of dollars spent to influence legislation.


So, the lobbyist know that they can still buy any act of congress they want.

lobbyists say they have already found scores of new ways to buy the attention of lawmakers through fundraising, charitable activities and industry-sponsored seminars. An estimated $10 billion is spent annually to influence legislation and regulations, and that spending is not likely to be diminished by the proposed lobbying changes, these lobbyists contend.


Now it is clear why almost every law enacted favors the rich over then poor, the powerful over the powerless.

The Republican Culture of Corruption continues.


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Good Beer

You Are Guinness

You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.


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Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday's Collection Of Interesting Posts

Geoff at American Entropy takes a quick look at the Saddam, Bin Laden connection.


9-11, we didn't ask for it, but it did not come out of the blue, Rob at Rob's Blog explains.


The true focus of our nation's regulatory agencies are noted at No More Mister Nice Blog. Operating an unsafe mine, well that can cost a couple of hundred thousand, A little PG-13 sex, and it cost $3,600,000.00


The GOP's war on sex, and it new attack on birth control, is noted at Fired Up Missouri.




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It Must Be Nice Having A Neutered Congress

If you break the law, they will ignore it, or cover it up. If pressed, Congress will change the law to make your illegal acts legal.

Four Republican senators introduced legislation to expand congressional oversight of the Bush administration's electronic eavesdropping program and require warrants for all surveillance after 45 days or an explanation of why a warrant isn't appropriate.


So much for checks and balances.

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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Off Drunken Spending We Go

Well congress just voted the Bush administration a new credit card, with a new $800,000,000.00 limit.

The Senate, on a 52-48 vote, sent President George W. Bush a measure allowing the government to borrow an additional $781 billion and preventing a first-ever default on Treasury notes.


Every Democrat, and three Republicans voted against this expanded borrowing.

So, what is the first thing you do when you get a new credit card?

Hours later, the House approved by a 348-71 vote $92 billion in new money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for relief along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.


Did they cut spending in other defense department areas for this money, did they raise taxes to cover the cost.

No they just ran the charge through the credit card.

I think that this is the fifth time that the Congress has had to raise the debt limit since George came to power, and there is a fair chance they will have to do it one more time before he is gone.

This debt works out to about $120,000.00 for my family, $30,000.00 for every man, woman and child in this nation.

Another Bush administration success story

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Moussaoui Death Penalty Case Continues

But the actions of a homeland security lawyer appear to have done it grave harm.

A federal judge all but gutted the government's death-penalty case against terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on Tuesday by ruling that prosecutors cannot present any witnesses or evidence from aviation officials to show that the Sept. 11 attacks could have been stopped had Moussaoui cooperated with the FBI.


The prosecutors have been very aggressive in going after the death penalty, and this is not the first time the Judge has had to deal with violations, but the scale here is amazing.

a half-dozen prospective FAA witnesses described how Martin repeatedly violated the judge's written order against shaping witness testimony or allowing them to see transcripts of earlier trial sessions. They said she sent them copies of the prosecution's opening statements in the trial and pointed out errors she thought made the FAA look less than diligent in the days before the Sept. 11 tragedy.

She advised some of the witnesses how to testify and what to say, told one that he should not agree to be a witness for the defense despite his subpoena to do so, and apprised others that she had a copy of the government's exhibit book and did not think the prosecutors' case was going well.



UPDATE
One prosecuter says 'No Point' in Continuing.

Assistant U.S. attorney Robert A. Spencer, one of the prosecutors trying to persuade a jury that Moussaoui deserves the death penalty for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, made the comment in a conference call yesterday among U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema and lawyers for the prosecution and defense after Brinkema prohibited testimony and evidence from half a dozen federal aviation witnesses.



UPDATE
Keep the grill warm, the Judge will allow new witnesses.

The federal judge in the death penalty trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui accepted a government compromise Friday that will allow prosecutors to present new witnesses about aviation security.



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Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Push To BBQ An Idiot Continues

The prosecutors in the Zacarias Moussaoui are now begging the judge to change her ruling.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. : Fighting for the death penalty in a 9/11 sentencing trial, prosecutors are beseeching a federal judge to reconsider her decision to exclude half the government's case against confessed al-Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.


Their argument seem to center around the facts that the lawyer who did the coaching (who has now been placed on a paid leave) was not a major part of the trial team, and this ruling destroys their case.

They seemed to not have considered how their actions may have trampled upon the rights of the guilty party.

Something far to few prosecutors ever bother to consider.


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As The Investigations And Trials Continue

It is becoming more and more clear that the Abu Ghraib incidents were far more that just a few bad apples .

Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and early 2004, was the highest-ranking witness scheduled to testify at the trial of Sgt. Michael J. Smith of Fort Lauderdale, an Army dog handler charged with abusing detainees at the prison in Iraq.

Pappas, testifying for the defense under a grant of immunity, said he regretted having failed to set ''appropriate controls'' at the prison, where detainees were bitten by dogs and assaulted and sexually humiliated by guards. 'In hindsight, clearly we probably needed to establish some definitive rules and put out some clear guidance to everybody concerned,'' Pappas said.


The fact that the Bush administration went to so much effort to redefine torture to allow much more abusive practices should make this crystal clear. As we hear from more of he higher ranking officers, it is clear that there was no real effort made to protect those we were holding, and that extracting information (even when there was not information to extract) was the only thing that mattered.

UPDATE
Tactics Broke Rules

The judge advocates general, responding in writing to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee about the treatment of suspected terrorist Mohamed al-Qahtani, found that several techniques used at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could be considered violations of interrogation policy because individually they are humiliating or degrading.


Yet the administration keeps inssting they are fine.



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Well, It Worked So Well The Last Time

Proving once again that Bush and his administration are unable to learn the simplest lessons, our nations new security strategy embraces preemption as one of it's cornerstones.

President Bush is reaffirming one of his most controversial policies: reserving the right to launch a pre-emptive strike that is, an attack on another country which has not attacked the U.S. if it is deemed necessary to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

The policy - which President Bush first outlined in 2002 before the U.S. attacked Iraq in what the administration said then was a mission to curb weapons of mass destruction - is at the heart of a new 49-page National Security Strategy policy


This policy, aside from being a probable violation of international law, is also simply stupid. As our history with Iraq shows, preemption has a great number of risks, and few if any rewards.

One of the biggest reasons this is a flawed policy is spelled out right here.

we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur - even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack.


We reserve the right to attack, not based on upon the actual threat a nation presents, but based upon the degree of fear and paranoia that Bush feels toward the other nation.

This is one deeply flawed idea of defense. Remember, we attacked Iraq because the Bush administration was sure that Saddam was ready to attack US. The truth was, Saddam had no means and no will to attack the US.

Preemption failed us then, and will again if it is allowed to stand as policy.

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Major US Air Attack In Iraq

The largest since the initial phase of the war.

More than 50 US warplanes were today involved in the biggest air offensive launched by the Americans in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the US military said. A huge air and land offensive has been launched against Sunni insurgents in the restive town of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The US military said some 1,500 Iraqi and US troops and 200 tactical vehicles were involved in the operation, Reuters reported. The US military added that Operation Swarmer would last several days.




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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Shuttle Launch Delayed

This time, a fuel sensor is at fault.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA on Tuesday postponed the launch of space shuttle Discovery from May until at least July because of an all-too-familiar problem: a faulty fuel tank sensor.

A similar problem briefly delayed last summer's launch of Discovery on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster in 2003.


NASA has to start real work on the followup systems for the Shuttle.


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A Race To The Bottom

I have been slogging through Thomas Friedman's 'The World Is Flat'. It deals with free trade in an information era. He looks at outsourcing, insourcing and job movements; What led to it, where we are, and where we are going.

A term that has been around for a while gets an occasional mention in his text.

A race to the bottom, referring to the effort to find the lowest cost for all aspects of an operation.

I was talking to a friend, about his sister. She has worked for Delta for about 25 years now, the vast majority of the time as a gate or counter agent. At her wage peak she was paid just under $25.00 an hour. She is a loyal hardworking company woman. She knew how to do a number of jobs, she could fix some of the equipment when it broke, she was one of the best at her job. With benefits and overtime her annual wage came in at close to $70,000.00 for a few years.

The she took a couple of pay cuts, got promoted and a raise, took a couple more pay cuts, lost most benefits, and then Delta entered bankruptcy.

This year, she hope to make $30,000.00.

This occurred in a job that can not yet be moved offshore, in an industry that has to remain in it's market. But she has also been effected by the offshore effect.

The 'market' demands a lower price, and when you can not lower the cost of materials, you have to go after labor cost. The same factors that have resulted in Mexico shipping more cars into the US than the US ships out to the whole world has cut her wages.

Her job has not moved to China, or India, or Mexico, but to attract business Delta has to price it's product as if it had, and has to pay her accordingly. Everyone expects Wal-Mart pricing for all their purchases.

So she has also been caught up in the race to the bottom.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Flood Of Murdered Bodies

Has hit Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq Mar 14, 2006 (AP) Police found at least 72 bodies killed by gunfire in Baghdad in the past 24 hours a gruesome wave of apparent sectarian reprisal attacks in some of the capital's most dangerous neighborhoods, officials said Tuesday.


A low grade civil war is now occurring, and as it continues, the chance of a peaceful, united Iraq evaporates.


UPDATE

Remember a few months ago when timelines were bad, and would embolden the enemy, well now they are good.

President Bush vowed for the first time yesterday to turn over most of Iraq to newly trained Iraqi troops by the end of this year, setting a specific benchmark as he kicked off a fresh drive to reassure Americans alarmed by the recent burst of sectarian violence.


And again we see a real interesting view of reality displayed by Bush, and his administration.


"As more capable Iraqi police and soldiers come on line, they will assume responsibility for more territory with the goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006,"


I guess he missed (or didn't understand) the statement from the pentagon that now no Iraqi units were mission capable without US support (at one time that number was 3).

So today's lesson is.

Artificial timelines set by politicians are bad, unless Bush is the politician setting the time line. Then the only criteria for a decision isn't the situation in Iraq, but the political situation in the US.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Moussaoui Execution In Peril

Judge mulling dismissal of Moussaoui death penalty.

It seems the prosecution may have violated court rules in it's eagerness to fry Moussaoui.


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A Political Stunt

But, one that has to occur, a motion to censure Bush.

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) said Sunday that he would ask the Senate to censure President Bush for authorizing a warrantless domestic spying program, signaling a new determination by Democrats to keep the heat on the White House over the controversial eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.

Although the surveillance program has drawn criticism from Republicans as well, a Senate GOP leader dismissed the move by Feingold, a liberal iconoclast and possible 2008 presidential candidate, as "political grandstanding."


And there is the key. A number of Republicans have said this domestic spying is illegal. They have questioned to need to break the law, and have even hinted at investigations.

Then they have backed down. They do not have the courage to exercise the oversight that the constitution demands that they do. For 5 years now they have given the executive branch a free ride, even helping to cover up questionable acts by refusing to look into them.

All that is left is political theater, so that is what the Republicans in DC have forced Sen. Feingold to do.


UPDATE.
If you feel like contacting your Senators Firedoglake offers pointers and a phone number, or two.

Calling the SC Senators is a waste of time, but go ahead and do it, it waste their time also.


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The State To Have A New Owner

Knight-Ridder, owners of The State paper, have sold their operations for $4,500,000,000.00.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. on Monday said it would buy larger rival Knight-Ridder Inc. for $4.5 billion in cash and stock, ending a search for a buyer that lasted more than four months and highlighted the troubles of the U.S. newspaper industry.


I hope this is good news for the hometown paper.



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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Another Sr. Bush Aid Arrested

The third I can think of, Libby, Safavian and now Claude A. Allen.

Claude A. Allen, who resigned last month as President Bush's top domestic policy adviser, was arrested this week in Montgomery County for allegedly swindling Target and Hecht's stores out of more than $5,000 in a refund scheme, police said.

{snip}

The former aide, Claude A. Allen, 45, was President Bush's top domestic policy adviser until resigning last month. Known as a rising conservative star, he previously served as deputy secretary of the Health and Human Services Department


He, Like Safavian, actually resigned prior to the arrest, but in both cases it is clear the pending arrest drove the resignations.

Allen was the point man on many Bush domestic polices; ending legal abortion, requiring school prayer, and abstinence education. He was also the White House lead on the Katrina Response.

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Now Dancing With The Devil

Slobodan Milosevic, former leader of Yugoslavia, was found dead in his cell at The Hague.

Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been found dead in his cell in The Hague, Netherlands where he was being tried on war crimes charges, according to the United Nations war crimes tribunal. He was 64.

An official in the chief prosecutor's office said Milosevic was found at about 10 a.m. Saturday and that he apparently had been dead for several hours. An autopsy will be performed, the official said.


Now he is beyond the judgment of man.

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Not All Republicans Are Racist

But it sure feels like all racist are Republicans. Two issues from Friday bring this into focus.

First, the anti Harold Ford (D-Tn) web site, set up by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. This web page show how focused the Republicans are on race baiting in their politics.

It tells you all that you need to know about where the great minds of the GOP are when it comes to campaigning -- it's still all about playing on race, racial history and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways of invoking the uppity Negro in Southern politics.


Then we move on to Colorado where Jim Welker (R-Loveland) forward an e-mail loaded with racist themes and images.

When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out.


But as I said, not all Republicans are racist. A number of Colorado republicans denounced this e-mail, and it's distribution.

Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, who worked with Katrina evacuees when they came to Colorado, said she was "appalled and sickened." "These (were) poor people. Many of them were senior citizens and had no way to escape the hurricane," said Stafford, who is white.


Unfortunately for America, for Every Debbie Stafford, there are two or three Jim Welker in the Republican party


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Friday, March 10, 2006

It's Friday, A Few Interesting Bits To Read

Over at A Crazy Little Thing Called Blog, a review of David Horowitz's new book.


Sexual ethics and the Bible, Fr. Jake looks at the work of Walter Wink.


Orcinus looks into the conservative bubble that so many in the right want to stay in.


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A Bad Week For The College Board

I suspect that the only reason I noticed this is my Daughter is getting ready to take her first 'official' SAT and ACT tests in a few weeks.

It seem that the folks who bring us the SAT had a little difficulity scoring the tests.

About 4,000 high school students — including 17 S.C. students — who took the SAT in October found out they had received scores that, in some cases, were 100 points lower than what they actually scored.


But what has proven even more difficult for the College Board has been clearly reporting what the true facts are.

The first reports indicated that the scores were only a hundred or so points low, th next series of statements indicted that some could be up to 400 points low. Now, well, maybe some of the scores are incorrectly high.

That fact that it happened isn't big news. Into every buisness some rain may fall . What is interesting is just how poorly the college board has handeled this failure. The repeated clairifications just make them look bad.

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First War Profiteer Goes Down

Custer Battles is hit with a ten million dollar fine for it's actions in Iraq.

A federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia has found contractor Custer Battles and its owners Scott Custer and Michael Battles liable for fraud in the first Iraq military contract case prosecuted under the False Claims Act. The jury hit the defendants with a $10 million judgement.



This was not the only case from Iraq, but may have been one of the most outrageous.


Retired brigadier general Hugh Tant III told the court that Custer Battles' fraud "was probably the worst I've ever seen in my 30 years in the Army." Tant testified that in one case, Custer Battles contacted to supply trucks to the military and provided vehicles that did not run and had to be towed to the site. When confronted, Mike Battles is said to have responded: "You asked for trucks and we complied with our contract, and it is immaterial whether the trucks were operational."


But, here is what is both most amazing, and incredibly typical of the Bush administration.

The federal government refused to join the case.


No wonder Haliburton is doing so well in this war.




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Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Source Of National Shame To Close

U.S. military to close Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

The U.S. military will close Abu Ghraib prison, probably within three months, and transfer some 4,500 prisoners to other jails in Iraq, a military spokesman said on Thursday.

The prison in western Baghdad was a torture center under Saddam Hussein before photographs of American soldiers abusing Iraqis there in 2003 gave it a new notoriety


In other words, it was a torture center for BOTH Saddam Hussein and George Bush.


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A Pretend Step To Reform

Yesterday the US Senate approved an amendment to a bill that would prohibit lobbyist from buying meals for Senators.

The amendment to a broad lobbying and ethics-reform bill, accepted by a voice vote, strengthened language in that bill that bars lawmakers from accepting lobbyist gifts but makes an exception for meals.


Some seem quite pleased with themselves over this not so bold step, but remember this.

The vote on meals came after the Senate rejected, on a party-line, 55-44 vote, a broader Democratic alternative that would have banned meals and all privately funded travel.


They want to give the impression that they are doing something, but make sure they get to keep the better goodies flowing.

The real trouble is, these new rules will do little to redefine the over cozy relationship that exist between lobbyist and law makers. When this story first started breaking, one item that gathered much attention were the semi-formalized ties that now exist between the Republican party and lobbyist groups. A perfect example of this tie were the Tuesday morning meetings hosted By Sen.. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

When the story broke, the Senator first announced he was changing some of the practices of the meetings (the job fair), then announced that the meetings were canceled.

He Lied.

But in the month since his announcement, Santorum has held two meetings attended by the same core group of lobbyists, and has used the sessions to appeal for campaign aid, according to participants. Both of those meetings were convened at the same time as the previous meetings -- 8:30 a.m. -- on the same day of the week -- Tuesday -- and they lasted for about as long as the earlier meetings -- one hour.


The only difference is that the meetings are no longer held in the Capital Building.

It is this relationship, not just the goodies, that have to be distanced, and the people we now have in charge in DC are clearly not the ones to make this happen.




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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Oh My, It's Getting Very Nasty

Over at The Panda's Thumb is a recap of the Intelligent Design battle ongoing in South Carolina.

The anti-evolution crusade in South Carolina, led by the Discovery Institute, continues unabated. There is not much new to report the Educational Oversight Committee (EOC) has voted to reject, yet again, the curriculum standards that don't include the pro-ID "critical analysis" language. But the EOC has no power to change the standards. Only the Board of Education, which meets today, can do that. So it gets kicked back to them, and they'll have to submit another round of standards for EOC approval.


One thing that has come out is the rather typical way that the Pro ID forces are trying to silence the witnesses. Political pressure is being applied to the universities.

one of the individuals who testified in front of the EOC did have her job threatened. That person would be Mary Lang Edwards of Erskine College, who testified against Fair's anti-evolution proposal. After her EOC testimony, and after having written two guest editorials that appeared in The Greenville News and The State, numerous emails and phone calls were made to Dean of Erskine College calling for her termination. Not just to the Dean, but also to the President. And to the Board of Trustees.




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2 Suspects Arrested In Alabama Church Fires

A third is still being tracked down.

WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement officials believe they have scored a big break with the arrests of two people believed responsible for the string of church fires in Alabama, NBC's Pete Williams reported Wednesday.


I am looking forward to hearing the why in this case.

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Great News For The Democrats

Tom Delay won his primary election.

DeLay, in his first contested primary since taking office more than two decades ago, led all three rivals early Wednesday. With 98 percent of the vote counted, DeLay had 20,132 votes or 62 percent. His closest challenger was environmental attorney Tom Campbell, who had 9,777 or 30 percent.


This assures that this fall, one of the men who personifies the corruption that pervades the Republican party in DC will be running in his district, and because of that he will also be running with Republican officials across the nation.

Even a DeLay victory in his home district (a very likely outcome) may cost the Republicans seats in other districts across the nation.

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The War We Dare Not Call Civil Continues

More US deaths, more Iraqi Forces deaths, and more mysterious executions.

The bodies of 18 men, bound, blindfolded and strangled, were found on Tuesday night in a minibus in western Baghdad

{snip}

The bodies of two people were found, bound and blindfolded, after they were shot dead in eastern Baghdad.

{snip}

A U.S soldier was killed and four others wounded on Tuesday when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Tal Afar

{snip}

Two Interior Ministry personnel were killed and five wounded when a roadside bomb went off near a convoy of cars used by Interior Minister Bayan Jabor


Right now, everyone in Iraq is a target.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Interesting Trend In Information Sharing

It appears that the US Marines are blocking access to some news and commentary web sites. A quick review found that the USMC is allowing access to:


Bill O'Reilly
Rush Limbaugh
ABC News "The Note"
G. Gordon Liddy Show

But blocking access to.

Al Franken Show
Wonkette
Air America

Anyone else notice a trend.

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A Little Despair, A Little Hope

Yesterday, Iraqi General Mubdar Hatim al-Dulaimi was killed, apparently by a sniper. He was the Sunni commander of the 6th Division of the Iraqi Army. A force of 10,000 men responsible for security in over half of Baghdad. The trouble is, killing such a high value target doesn't happen by chance, whoever did this had excellent inside intelligence.

Another Iraqi general told Reuters it was an assassination that needed inside information and proved the army, recruited by U.S. officers over the past two years, had been infiltrated by factional militia groups ready to turn on fellow soldiers.


General al-Dulaimi could have been the target for any number of groups, including factions within the current Iraqi government or armed forces. There is just as great a chance a Shi'ia faction in the government, wanting a Shi'ia office in charge of this division, was responsible, as the probability that some true insurgent group was.

And it is doubtful we will ever know the who or why in this mans death.

But with this bad news also came a ray of hope. Some Sunni leaders in the West of Iraq are fighting back against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Tribal chiefs in Iraq's western Anbar province and in an area near the northern city of Kirkuk, two regions teeming with insurgents, are vowing to strike back at al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni Arab-led group that is waging war against Sunni tribal leaders who are cooperating with the Iraqi government and the U.S. military. Anbar tribes have formed a militia that has killed 20 insurgents from al-Qaeda in Iraq, leaders said.


While adding yet another militia, using extra judicial execution as a tool of politics, is a disaster in the long term, it is still very gratifying to see Sunnis standing up to the radicals in al-Qaeda in Iraq.




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Monday, March 06, 2006

If You Want The Cash

You have to let them have their say.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that colleges that accept federal money must allow military recruiters on campus, despite university objections to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays.


Now, I think congress did not need to made this law, and that congress should consider removing that provision, but I never thought the law was unconstitutional.



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Civil War, Not A Civil War

Does it matter?

Yesterday, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was on "Face the Nation" and assured us, Iraq is not on the verge of civil war.

"I do not believe it has deep roots," Pace said of the insurgency. "I do not believe that they're on the verge of civil war."


Also on Sunday, on ABC News, another Gen. spoke out. This time it was Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, the former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He is quite clear; this is now a civil war.

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash


How can two professionals end up with totally different views of the same situation?

I think it goes back to the Amry's mission driven, can do attitude. When failure isn't an option you tend to avoid considering what failure looks like. Gen. Pace is emotionally invested in the success of the Iraq mission. He will not fail, so unless there are two armies in the field in traditional combat, he doesn't see a civil war.

Gen. Nash has the benefit of distance and a dispassionate appraisal. He has also commanded in an area where a low level civil war did become a full blown civil war.

So we have two experts, two opinions, and in the end it doesn't mater much. Insurgency or civil war, in either case it just means a long haul, with many more casualties.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Duke Gets Eight Years

For his efforts on capital hill.

SAN DIEGO - Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham spent his first night in prison after receiving a sentence of eight years and four months for collecting $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in a corruption scheme unmatched in the annals of Congress.


And, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fl) story in this case in getting more interesting.

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) has acknowledged that she requested last year that $10 million in federal funds be set aside for a Navy intelligence program in her district at the request of Washington contractor Mitchell J. Wade, who pleaded guilty last week to bribing another House member.

Harris, who gained notoriety as secretary of state in Florida during the contested Bush-Gore presidential race in 2000, is running for the Senate this year. News media in her home state have been focusing on her dealings with Wade since prosecutors disclosed last week that she was the unwitting recipient of $32,000 in illegal campaign donations from Wade in 2004.


Harris has already lawyered up, getting an expert in this type of criminal law.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Some Interesting Reading For Your Friday

Slide on over and check them out.


Barbecue and Politics introduces us to Karen Iacovelli, and asks, why is she on the South Carolina public education oversight committee.


The trials and tribulations of poor ole David Horowitz are given a view by BadTux


What does it mean to be orthodox? Maybe not you think it means as Sacraments Wholesale explains.




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One Of My Favorite Republican Felons

Is asking for a break.

SAN DIEGO - Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to corruption on a scale unparalleled in the history of Congress, is asking a federal judge to spare him the maximum sentence.


And, if all the illegal gains he has collected in his terms in congress are forfeited, then why not. He isn't a threat to society.


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Gee, We Are Dumb

There was an Interesting poll recently published by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. About 20.0% of the population can name all the Simpsons (the 5 in the nuclear family), about 20.0% can name the judges of American Idol.

Only 00.1% can name the five rights that we were granted by the first amendment.

I don't know how long a nation can survive, when the people of that land are ignorant about how it was built.

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Global Warming Scientist Getting More Vocal

There is a growing consensus among the scientist who focus on this issue.

The global scientific body on climate change will report soon that only greenhouse gas emissions can explain freak weather patterns.


The latest clearly understandable, easily visible effects of global warming are not sticking in the American conscience. The rapid melt rate of the ice cap in Greenland was noted and forgotten. The pine beetle's explosion into the Canadian forest will generate a days worth of attention, then fade away.

And the situation remains fundamentally unchanged: The scientist are more concerned, the US government is more determined to not act, and the situation keeps getting worse.

Another example of Republican leadership in action.


UPDATE

Another story to look at then forget: Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Baghdad Morgue Director Flees Iraq

Mr. Bakir appears to have given information to the UN indicating that interior ministry death squads may have killed as many as 7,000 people. He has now left the country, citing death threats.

"The vast majority of bodies showed signs of summary execution - many with their hands tied behind their back. Some showed evidence of torture, with arms and leg joints broken by electric drills," said John Pace, the Maltese UN official. The killings had been happening long before the bloodshed after last week's bombing of the Shia shrine in Samarra.

Mr Pace, whose contract in Iraq ended last month, said many killings were carried out by Shia militias linked to the industry ministry run by Bayan Jabr

{snip}

Mr Pace said records, supported by photographs, came from Baghdad's forensic institute, which passed them to the UN. The Baghdad morgue has been receiving 700 or more bodies a month. The figures peaked at 1,100 last July - many showing signs of torture.


And these we are allied with these people in this conflict.

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A Very Big Lie Exposed

When Bush first made this claim, everyone should have known it was a lie. Now, for the kool-aid drinkers out there, video proof has exposed the lie.

Four days after the storm, Bush, while defending the failing relief efforts, made this absurd statement:

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

At the time there were howls of disbelief. People pointed to the hurricane Pam exercise, the fact that almost everyone knew there were concerns about the levees, and the fact that the President had to have been advised of these issues.

It turns out that he was, and Bush was just lying.

Video showing President George W Bush being warned on the eve of Hurricane Katrina that the storm could breach New Orleans' flood defenses has emerged. The footage, obtained by the Associated Press, also shows Mr Bush being told of the risk to evacuees in the Superdome.


Katrina not only confirmed the disingenuous nature of this administration, but also points out just how disconnected and incompetent they are. The President had to be shown a DVD of news reports, 4 days after the storm hit, to understand the scale of the disaster.

It took four days, in a situation where hours, and even minutes, are critical, for Bush to get up to speed on this story.

This administration is clueless.

A major storm is coming ashore, they get all the briefings, all the warnings, ignore them, then lie about it.

They attacked Iraq, claiming that they only needed 100,000 troops (over the objections of the top General), they claimed it would cost only 20-30 billion for the war, they claimed reconstruction would cost a total of 1.7 billion dollars.

A major business deal may present security concerns. There is a process in place to make sure the deal is acceptable. The process isn't followed, the administration claims it was, and insist the deal is fine, even as more disturbing information keeps coming out.

And the Republicans in Congress keep allowing it to happen.

Lying, inept, and corrupt, the current state of to many of the Republicans now in DC.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Iraq Is A Civil War, But Some Still Don't See It

I suspect that the biggest reason is because there are no traditional battlefields. There is no Bull Run, or Pea Ridge, the troops are not digging trenches, or even living in fortifications.

In fact most of the time only one force is even recognised as being active in this war. The primary focus has been on the insurgents, the various Islamic and Sunni groups who have been fighting the US, and the government we established there. Outside of a few incidents early in the occupation, the Shi'ias have been far more willing to keep their arms stored away.

This last week, a taste of the potential power that the Shia's possess has been given to the world. Various Shi'ia militias and ad hoc groups rose up, and the resulting killing was astounding.

Only the presence of US forces has prevented a much more traditional civil war. If either side tried to establish anything like a battle line or a fort, the US would destroy it almost immediately. So the combat remains at the level of terrorism and death squads. This fact doesn't mean that there are not further developments that clearly indicate an entrenching of the sectarian divide, and a further preparation for the coming open war.

The conflict in the Balkans clearly points us to what we will see next, and it is now happening.

BAGHDAD, Feb. 28 -- Salim Rashid, 34, a Shiite laborer in an overwhelmingly Sunni Arab village 20 miles north of Baghdad, received his eviction notice Friday from a man at the door with a rocket launcher.

"It's 6 p.m.," Rashid recounted the masked man saying then, as retaliatory violence between Shiites and Sunnis exploded across wide swaths of central Iraq. "We want you out of here by 8 p.m. tomorrow. If we find you here, we will kill you."


As long as the US has its forces in Iraq a civil war, featuring traditional combat, is very unlikely to occur. That doesn't mean there will not be a civil war going on. Ethnic cleansing is a clear indicator that the various sides are planning on grabbing as much land as they can and digging in. In the mean time, the bombings, the death squads and the misery will continue as the primary features of this civil war.

And we have 140,000 men and women in the middle of it.

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