Friday, September 30, 2005

Judith Miller Talks & Sunni Insurgents Kill Nearly 100 Over Two Days in Today's Details 9/30/05

- New York Times reporter Judith Miller was released from jail late yesterday and is scheduled to testify this morning before a federal grand jury investigating whether any government officials illegally leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media, according to lawyers involved in the case.

- New York Times reporter Judith Miller appeared for testimony before a federal grand jury Friday, throwing a spotlight once again on the White House role in the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity.

The American public has doubts about whether the Bush administration policy of promoting democracy internationally will make the world a safer place.

The Army is closing the books on one of the leanest recruiting years since it became an all-volunteer service three decades ago, missing its enlistment target by the largest margin since 1979 and raising questions about its plans for growth.

- After Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, the Federal Emergency Management Agency signed contracts for more than $2 billion in temporary housing, including more than 120,000 trailers and mobile homes. But the agency has placed just 109 Louisiana families in those homes.

A senior U.S. official rejected calls on Thursday for a U.N. body to take over control of the main computers that direct traffic on the Internet, reiterating U.S. intentions to keep its historical role as the medium's principal overseer.

Sunni-led insurgents killed at least nine people with a car bomb in a crowded vegetable market Friday, the Muslim day of worship, in the second blast against Shiite civilians in as many days, police said. The death toll rose to nearly 100 from the previous day's attacks in another Shiite town.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Bush people were never big on reality, so sooner or later they were bound to be blindsided by it.

-Bob Herbert

A Perfect Storm for the Democrats Equals Toxic Soup for Republicans and Russ Feingold says Bush Policies Breaking U.S. Army in Today's Details 9/29/05

- With the Republicans hip-deep in ethics quicksand, Democrats don't need cohesion anymore -- they're just watching as their rivals sink 13 months before the midterm elections. "Thank God it's not September, 2006," mutters GOP consultant Scott W. Reed, who worries that the ethics issue "has the potential for longer-term damage." Actually, the damage could get worse. A federal grand jury probing the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is close to winding up its work, stoking fears among some White House aides that political guru Karl Rove might be targeted.

A federal judge ruled today that graphic pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image. Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of "rape and murder" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were "blatantly sadistic." (So why isn't DR stopping the torture rather than spending so much time stopping the release of the photo's? He who has nothing to hide, hides nothing! Perhaps he needs to concern himself with changing the culture of the U.S. military from one that's "blatantly sadistic" to one of honor.)

Three suicide attackers exploded a string of near-simultaneous car bombs in a mainly Shiite town Thursday, killing at least 60 people and wounding 70, Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers fighting in a hotbed of Iraqi insurgency.

The President's policies in Iraq are breaking the United States Army. As soldiers confront the prospect of a third tour in the extremely difficult theater of Iraq, it would be understandable if they began to wonder why all of the sacrifice undertaken by our country in wartime seems to be falling on their shoulders. At some point, the sense of solidarity and commitment that helps maintain strong retention rates gives way to a sense of frustration with the status quo. I am concerned that we may be very close to that tipping point today.

On the September 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter told co-host Alan Colmes that they "don't believe" a report that Army Ranger Pat Tillman was a fan of leftist author Noam Chomsky, opposed the Iraq war, and planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in the 2004 presidential election. But according to a September 25 San Francisco Chronicle report that Colmes cited, Tillman's mother said that he had planned to meet privately with Chomsky and that "Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war." Tillman, a former pro football star, served in Iraq before being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004.

Republican members of Congress say there are signs that the Defense Department may be carrying out new intelligence activities through programs intended to escape oversight from Congress and the new director of national intelligence.

Addressing a caller's suggestion that the "lost revenue from the people who have been aborted in the last 30 years" would be enough to preserve Social Security's solvency, radio host and former Reagan administration Secretary of Education Bill Bennett dismissed such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations" by declaring that if "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down." (I don't mean to confuse the issue but wouldn't you get the same result if you aborted all the white babies???? Or even just the offspring of Republicans?)

Delay Indicted, SEC Begins Investigation into Frist's Stock Sales & FEMA Under Fire for Rita Response in Today's Details 9/29/05

And they say there's never any good news in the news!!!!! Today's Details is filled with links to good news stories. All those prayers sent up to God asking him to help our nation have been answered --- the corruption and hypocrisy are being brought out of the darkness and into the light. Spin that Fox!

- A Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) yesterday on charges of criminally conspiring with two political associates to inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House in Washington. The criminal indictment forced DeLay, one of the Republicans' most powerful leaders and fundraisers, to step aside under party rules barring such posts to those accused of criminal conduct. House Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the third-ranking leader, was elected by Republican House members yesterday afternoon to fill the spot temporarily after conservatives threatened a revolt against another candidate considered by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).

- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has given subpoena power to investigators looking into the stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday. Moving to protect the Frist inquiry from any future criticism for not being thorough, the SEC changed its status to formal from informal and gave investigators subpoena power to force individuals to talk or to produce documents or e-mails.

-Saying they were caught off-guard by the number of people in need, FEMA officials closed a relief center early on Wednesday after some of the hundreds of hurricane victims in line began fainting in triple-digit heat. The midday closing of the Houston disaster relief center came as officials in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Rita criticized FEMA's response to the storm, with one calling for a commission to examine the emergency response. looking into the stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said sources familiar with the matter on Wednesday.

Recommended Web Site

You want to know what war really looks like? In yesterday's Detail's there was a link to a story which stated the Army was conducting an investigation into complaints that soldiers posted photographs of mangled Iraqi corpses on an Internet site in exchange for access to pornographic images on the site. Here's the link to the site where those pictures can be found. Warning - it is an amature porn site. You will need to register (free) in order to access the Iran and Afghanistan pics. Not for the prude or faint of heart. These are VERY disturbing photo's. Click HERE.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Reality is something you rise above.

-Liza Minnelli

Tom Delay Indicted!

BREAKING NEWS! House Majority Leader Tom Delay indicted on one count of criminal conspiracy by Texas Grand Jury. (And some people say prayers aren't answered!)

Caption This Photo!

Voter's Remorse On Bush - Bob Herbert - NYT's

- Maybe, just maybe, the public is beginning to see through the toxic fog of fantasy, propaganda and deliberate misrepresentation that has been such a hallmark of the George W. Bush administration, which is in danger of being judged by history as one of the worst of all time. Mr. Bush's approval ratings have tanked as increasing numbers of Americans worry that their president, who seems to like nothing better than running off to his ranch to clear brush and ride his bike, may not be up to the job. The most recent New York Times/CBS News Poll strongly indicated that the public - tired of the war-without-end in Iraq and dismayed by the federal response to the catastrophe in New Orleans - "has growing doubts about [the president's] capacity to deal with pressing problems." A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll found for the first time that a majority of Americans do not see Mr. Bush as a strong and decisive leader. In an article in USA Today, Carroll Doherty of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center said of Mr. Bush: "He's lost ground among independents. He seems to be starting to lose ground among his own party. And he lost the Democrats a long time ago."

Click the title or link in the op-ed to read in its entirety.

Michael Brown 'Out of Touch With Reality' and First Female Suicide Bomber In Iraq Kills Six in Today's Details 9/28/05

- Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco will appear before a Senate panel this morning, but she's already come out swinging against former FEMA head Michael Brown. Blanco takes strong exception to a charge by Brown that she waited until the eve of the storm to order an evacuation of New Orleans. She says Brown's comment clearly demonstrates what she says is the "appalling degree" to which he's "out of touch with the truth or reality."

Never underestimate the brazenness of incumbent politicians determined to sneak unfair rule changes into the game. Incumbent treachery is under way in the Senate, where Republicans are using a big spending bill as cover to try to gut campaign donation limits and give themselves an eight-to-one spending advantage over election challengers.

Fort Lauderdale police said yesterday that they charged three men in the 2001 gangland style slaying of a Florida businessman who was gunned down in his car months after selling a casino cruise line to a group that included Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

A woman strapped with explosives blew herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center in a northern town Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding 30 in the first known attack by a female suicide bomber in the country's bloody insurgency.

The Army is investigating complaints that soldiers posted photographs of mangled Iraqi corpses on an Internet site in exchange for access to pornographic images on the site, officials said Tuesday.

A white Tennessee lawmaker lamenting his exclusion from the state's Black Legislative Caucus claimed Tuesday the group was less accommodating that even the Ku Klux Klan.

On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day. The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract -- staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties -- has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation.

President Vladimir Putin told Russians during a nationally televised call-in show Tuesday that he would vacate the Kremlin in 2008 when his second term ends. But he hinted at some subsequent political role when he added, "As they say in the military, I will find my place in the ranks."

Dan Rather wants to reopen the investigation into President Bush and the National Guard story that resulted in the Memogate scandal and led to his early departure from the anchor desk.

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to reconsider the free-speech rule that allows candidates to spend unlimited amounts of money to win election to public office.

Progressive Talking Points 9/28/05

Trying to Shift Blame

Displaying an extraordinary lack of humility, former FEMA Director Michael Brown appeared yesterday before a special congressional panel looking into the response to Hurricane Katrina. Brown gave a "fiery appearance" that attempted to shift blame away from the federal government. Unfortunately, Brown left the facts at the hearing room door and engaged in revisionist history. Overall, his testimony illustrated not just that he was an incompetent administrator, but that President Bush failed the nation by putting a crony into place instead of someone who was qualified to run FEMA.

  • Mike Brown contradicted himself repeatedly during his testimony. During his testimony yesterday, Brown stated that FEMA was overstretched, yet in 2004 he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that FEMA was absolutely ready to handle hurricanes hitting Florida. Brown also said yesterday that “FEMA doesn’t evacuate communities.” But in the midst of the hurricane aftermath, Brown said on CNN that FEMA was conducting "rescue missions" and would "continue to evacuate all of the hospitals." Brown also lied when he accused Louisiana Governor Blanco of not issuing an emergency assistance declaration for Orleans Parish, which includes New Orleans. The reality is that Blanco's emergency declaration on August 27 applied to all "affected areas" in "southeastern parishes including the New Orleans Metropolitan area."
  • Mike Brown never should have headed FEMA to begin with. Despite being defensive about his credentials, Brown actually confirmed that much of his disaster preparedness experience came while he was an intern in undergraduate school, and as an assistant to the city manager, not the "Assistant City Manager" he claimed to be on his official biography on FEMA's website. And Brown again became defensive when Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) said that he didn’t do enough, asking, "What would you like for me to do, Congressman?” Brown should have simply followed the order President Bush issued on August 27th that authorized FEMA to "identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency ."
We need to ensure that there are no more “Mike Browns” out there. While as head of FEMA Mike Brown deserves a lot of the blame for the Katrina response, the rest of the administration is not off the hook, as they were the ones who put him in charge in the first place. This entire episode underscores the importance of having competent people in positions of power and running federal agencies. To that end Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) have introduced legislation that will end the cronyism that runs rampant throughout the Bush administration and demands that only qualified individuals be allowed to lead agencies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

-Victor Hugo

Delay Indictment May Come Tomorrow & Lynddie England Gets 3 Years in Todays Details #2 for 9/27/05

- A Texas grand jury's recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments _ possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay _ as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday into DeLay's state political organization, according to lawyers with knowledge of the case.

The term of the Travis County grand jury ends Wednesday. Although the investigation into felony charges of illegal corporate spending during the 2002 election theoretically could continue through October, a last-minute burst of activity by prosecutors had defense lawyers speculating — in some cases fearing — the prospect of more indictments by Wednesday.

Also see

- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's recent stock sale threatens to cost him and fellow Republicans politically as he mulls a 2008 presidential bid and investigators examine whether he violated any trading laws, political analysts said. "Frist's White House campaign hasn't really taken off, and this adds weight to an idling plane," said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. "He may prove to be totally innocent, but this is a negative -- a big distraction -- for his presidential ambitions and management of the Senate," said Ethan Siegal of the Washington Exchange, a firm that tracks politics and legislation on Capitol Hill for institutional investors.

- New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass resigned Tuesday after four turbulent weeks in which the police force was wracked by desertions and disorganization in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.

- Army Pfc. Lynndie England, who said she was only trying to please her soldier boyfriend when she took part in detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, was sentenced late Tuesday to three years behind bars.

Consumer Confidence Plummets & Civil War Underway In Iraq in Today's Details 9/27/05

- Consumer confidence plummeted almost 19 points in September, its biggest drop in 15 years, as Americans worried about the economic fallout of Hurricane Katrina and rising gasoline prices.

After weeks of prodding by Republican lawmakers and the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday that it will use taxpayer money to reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have opened their doors to provide shelter, food and supplies to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

- Despite having found the time to cover Kate Moss's purported cocaine use and to put one of its correspondents in a wind tunnel to demonstrate the effects of hurricane-force wind, ABC's World News Tonight has yet to mention the brewing scandal over the sale of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) stock in HCA Inc., the hospital chain founded by Frist's father, just two weeks before a bad earnings report caused the stock price to drop sharply. The nightly news broadcasts of CBS and NBC didn't do much more, both giving the story brief mentions on September 23.

Behind the blood and chaos of the insurgents' bombs, there is an undeclared civil war already underway in Iraq, between the Sunni minority who ruled this country under Saddam and the Shiite majority.

A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee.

Squeezed between a conservative clamor for spending cuts and the rising cost of hurricane relief, Republican congressional leaders will respond this week with a public relations offensive to win over angry conservatives -- but no substantive changes in budget policy.Republican lawmakers and leadership aides conceded that the wholesale budget cuts envisioned by House conservatives are not being contemplated; the Senate is moving toward approving a temporary expansion of Medicaid for hurricane survivors, estimated to cost $9 billion. Nor are GOP leaders considering tax increases.

Bush administration lawyers asked the Supreme Court on Monday to reinstate the first federal law banning a late-term abortion procedure, arguing that it should be outlawed because it is gruesome and is "never medically indicated" as a safer surgical procedure. The government's appeal asks the high court to overturn the decision of a U.S. appeals court in St. Louis, which struck down the law as unconstitutional. It came on the same day the Senate took up the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. for chief justice of the United States. If, as expected, Roberts is confirmed this week, his court could put new limits on abortion during its first term, which begins Monday.

Former FEMA director Michael Brown is continuing to work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency at full pay, with his Sept. 12 resignation not taking effect for two more weeks, said Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke.

Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

It’s reasonable to estimate that more than a quarter of a million people demonstrated against the Iraq war on Saturday in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other U.S. cities. The next day, the Washington Post front-paged a decent story that described “the largest show of antiwar sentiment in the nation’s capital since the conflict in Iraq began.” But more perfunctory back-page articles were typical in daily papers across the country. And over the weekend, many TV news watchers saw little or nothing about the protests.

Progressive Talking Points 9/27/05

WANTED: Real Leadership on Energy

  • Bush could set a good example by conserving energy himself.While Bush encouraged people to limit non-essential trips, he continues to burn fuel at an alarming rate on his trips. Today he makes his seventh trip to the Gulf Coast at a fuel cost of $6,029 per hour, up from $3,974 an hour in the last budget year. For his short trip from the White House to the Energy Department yesterday, the Houston Chronicle noted that his motorcade “included two armored limousines, three stretch utility vans, six black SUVs and a medical truck.”
  • Congress continues to push for giveaways to the oil industry. Conservatives in Congress announced plans to “introduce new legislation or amend existing measures to bestow more tax breaks on the industry and provide other incentives left out of the big energy bill Bush signed into law in August,” all while the industry is using Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to raise prices and their profit margins. Right-wingers also want to cut programs that promote energy efficiency and conservation, such as the EnergyStar program and Amtrak funding.
  • The auto industry is looking for leadership.The auto industry is looking to Washington to do more to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Last week, Ford Chairman and Chief Executive William Clay Ford Jr. sent a letter to President George W. Bush requesting a summit that would “focus on what the auto industry can do to find solutions for alternative fuel resources.” In addition, Jim Press, head of Toyota's U.S. operations, described America's dependence of foreign oil as an "economic problem" and planned to go to Washington in November to lobby lawmakers to make energy independence an issue in the 2008 campaign.

Monday, September 26, 2005

To rule is easy, to govern difficult.

-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Recommended Web Site - Leave My Child Alone

Opt out of the Pentagon's illegal database and your school's military recruitment lists by clicking HERE.

Teachers Are Executed in Iraq & SEC Chairman Recuses Self From Frist Investigation in Today's Details 9/26/05

- The speed with which the federal government marshaled significant military and other resources to evacuate, rescue and care for victims of Hurricane Rita raises new questions about why Washington was so slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina less than four weeks earlier.

- Sen. John McCain, decrying new allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq by U.S. soldiers, on Sunday backed an amendment to force the American military to live up to its international obligations under the Geneva Convention and "not engage in torture" of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCain (R-Ariz.) was responding to complaints by Army Capt. Ian Fishback and two sergeants, who all served with the 82nd Airborne Division. Their description of routine harsh treatment of captives in Iraq parallels the abuse caught in photographs at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad and was contained in a Human Rights Watch report issued Friday by the advocacy group.

- A suicide bomber driving a minibus pulled alongside a convoy of elite Iraqi commandos in the capital Sunday and detonated his explosives, killing 10 people in a spray of burning metal, witnesses said.

- The chaotic evacuations of New Orleans and Houston have prompted local officials across the country to take another look at plans for emptying their cities in response to a large-scale natural disaster or a terrorist attack. What they have found is not wholly reassuring.

- Christopher Cox, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said on Monday he has recused himself from an SEC probe of sales of stock in hospital company HCA Inc. by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a former congressional colleague of Cox. "The staff of the (SEC) have commenced a review of sales of HCA stock by a blind trust established by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Because of my service in the congressional leadership for the last 10 years, I have recused myself in this matter," Cox said in a statement.

- Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

- Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became a leader of the anti-war movement after her son died in Iraq, was arrested Monday along with hundreds of others protesting outside the White House. Sheehan, carrying a photo of her son in his Army uniform, rallied with other protesters in a park across the street from the White House and then marched to the gate of the executive mansion to request a meeting with President Bush.

- A group of armed men burst into a primary school in a town south of Baghdad today, rounded up five teachers, marched them to an empty classroom and executed them, a police official said. All of those killed were Shiite.

- Don Adams, the wry-voiced comedian who starred as the fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in the 1960s TV spoof of James Bond movies, "Get Smart," has died. He was 82.

Progressive Talking Points 9/26/05

  • Was Frist honest with Americans about his knowledge of the “blind trust” managing his stock in his family’s health company? In January 2003, Frist said in a television interview, "I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock…I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea.” That was not a true statement. The Associated Press reports "just two weeks before those comments, the trustee of the senator's trust, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., wrote to Frist that HCA stock was contributed to the trust. It was valued at $15,000 and $50,000." Even if investigators determine Frist's recent sale was legal and ethical, Frist needs to explain why he lied to the public about his trusts.

  • Did Frist engage in insider stock trading? Frist ordered his HCA stock to be sold at the same time company insiders were selling large quantities of their stock. For example, as the Wall St. Journal reports, "From June 1 to June 10, six insiders sold a total of 341,300 shares valued at $18.6 million, according to Thompson Financial.” A month later "[T]he stock’s price dropped 9 percent in a single day because of a warning from the company about weakening earnings," according to the Washington Post. If Frist possessed material non-public information about HCA, the sale of his stock could constitute illegal insider trading. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are investigating.

  • Has Frist violated Senate ethics rules?On June 13, 2005, Frist contacted his trustee and instructed him to sell all of his HCA stock. Under Senate ethics rules, Frist would only be allowed to tell his trustee to sell a specific stock if the stock “creates a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof due to the subsequent assumptions of duties," according to the Senate Ethics Committee. Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, identifies Frist's problem: "I don't know what new duties he would point to above and beyond becoming majority leader, and that was three years ago."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Today's Quote

There was never a good war, or a bad peace.

-Benjamin Franklin

Recommended Web Site

When you just gotta laugh to keep from HERE!

(not for those offended by the curse word asshole)

British Troops to Begin Withdrawing from Iraq & Thousands March Against Iraq War in Today's Details 9/25/05

- Opponents of the war in Iraq marched Saturday in a clamorous day of protest, song and remembrance of the dead, some showing surprisingly diverse political views even as they spoke with one loud voice in wanting U.S. troops home.

- British troops will start a major withdrawal from Iraq next May under detailed plans on military disengagement to be published next month, The Observer can reveal. The document being drawn up by the British government and the US will be presented to the Iraqi parliament in October and will spark fresh controversy over how long British troops will stay in the country. Tony Blair hopes that, despite continuing and widespread violence in Iraq, the move will show that there is progress following the conflict of 2003.

- A TIME inquiry finds that at top positions in some vital government agencies, the Bush Administration is putting connections before experience. (Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! A shame Time didn't conduct this inquiry prior to Katrina. Then again, even if they did the public wouldn't have much cared because it wouldn't have translated into anything 'real'. Now it does.)

- Blind trusts are designed to keep an arm's-length distance between federal officials and their investments, to avoid conflicts of interest. But documents show that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist knew quite a bit about his accounts from nearly two dozen letters from the trust administrators.

- When Army Capt. Ian Fishback told his company and battalion commanders that soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention, he says, they told him those rules were easily skirted. When he wrote a memo saying Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was wrong in telling Congress that the Army follows the Geneva dictates, his lieutenant colonel responded only: "I am aware of Fishback's concerns." And when Fishback found himself in the same room as Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey at Ft. Benning, Ga., he again complained about prisoner abuse. He said Harvey told him that "corrective action was already taken." At every turn, it seemed, the decorated young West Point graduate, the son of a Vietnam War veteran from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, whose wife is serving with the Army in Iraq, felt that the military had shut him out.

-At least 22 people died and scores were wounded Sunday in a wave of new violence in Iraq, including a suicide bombing and a deadly armed robbery. Four bodies were also found.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.

-Winston Churchill

Rita Slams Into Coast

Hurricane Rita slammed into Texas and Louisiana early Saturday, flooding coastal towns, sparking fires and knocking power out to more than 1 million customers, but largely sparing vulnerable Houston, already reeling New Orleans and the region's vital oil refining industry. Rita made landfall at 3:30 a.m. EDT as a Category 3 storm just east of Sabine Pass, on the Texas-Louisiana line, bringing top winds of 120 mph and warnings of up to 25 inches of rain, the National Hurricane Center said. By late morning, it had weakened to barely above hurricane status, with its sustained winds at 75 mph as it moved north near Jasper.

New Allegations of Prisoner Abuse in Iraq & Afghanistan and the Investigation into Bill Frists Stock Sale Widens in Today's Details 9/24/05

- The U.S. Army has launched a criminal investigation into new allegations of serious prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan made by a decorated former Captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, an Army spokesman has confirmed to TIME. The claims of the Captain, who has not been named, are in part corroborated by statements of two sergeants who served with him in the 82nd Airborne; the allegations form the basis of a report from Human Rights Watch obtained by TIME and due to be released in the next few days (Since this story first went online, the organization has decided to put out its report; it can be found here).

- An Iraqi judge said on Saturday he had renewed arrest warrants for two British soldiers who were rescued from jail early this week by troops using armor to crash through the prison walls. The British government said the warrants are not legally binding, as the soldiers are subject to UK law.

- Opponents of the war in Iraq rallied by the thousands Saturday to demand the return of U.S. troops, staging a day of protest, song and remembrance of the dead in marches through Washington and other cities in the U.S. and Europe.

- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show. (This is a man who aspires to be president?!! I think he's looking at President of his prison wing. Hmmmm, perhaps he could get the Martha Stewart suite at "The Big House".)

- A federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of HCA Inc. stock widened on Friday when the largest U.S. hospital chain said federal prosecutors had subpoenaed the company for related documents.

- Heading into a midterm election year, Republicans find themselves with not one, but two congressional leaders — Bill Frist in the Senate and Tom DeLay in the House — fending off questions of ethical improprieties. (Looks to me like absolute power has had a corrupting influence - even in the party of God.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Get Out of Iraq Ad Campaign Launched

See the ad HERE.

Sunday Shows

- Hurricane Rita & Hurricane Katrina: The Aftermath. As the country struggles to recover from Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita adds to a month of natural disaster and devastation. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," we will talk to leading federal, state and local officials to get the very latest on the scope of destruction, the reviews on the government's response, and the progress of the relief efforts.

- On ABC’s “This Week” “ We'll have the very latest on Hurricane Rita from ABC News correspondents throughout Texas and Louisiana. And George speaks to federal, state and local officials in charge of the emergency response. Plus, we'll speak exclusively with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, about Rita's impact on her state, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., about the tough choices ahead for Congress and the White House.”

- CBS’s “Face The Nation” - The Aftermath Of Hurricane Katrina/

Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramhoff Had Ties to the White House & Enter Florida at Your Own Risk in Today's Details 9/23/05

- Rita weakened during the day to a Category 3 hurricane, down from a fearsome Category 5 with 175 mph winds on Wednesday. It was expected to come ashore early Saturday along the upper Texas-Louisiana coast on a course that could spare Houston and nearby Galveston a direct hit. But it could plow instead into the oil and chemical centers of Beaumont and Port Arthur, about 75 miles east of Houston.

- Hurricane Rita's steady rains sent water pouring through breaches in a patched levee Friday, cascading into one of the city's lowest-lying neighborhoods in a devastating repeat of New Orleans' flooding nightmare.

- A bus carrying nursing home residents fleeing from Hurricane Rita caught fire and was rocked by explosions Friday on a gridlocked highway near Dallas, killing as many as 24 people, authorities said. "Deputies were unable to get everyone off the bus," Dallas County Sheriff's Department spokesman Don Peritz said.

- Heeding days of dire warnings about Hurricane Rita, as many as 2.5 million people jammed evacuation routes on Thursday, creating colossal 100-mile-long traffic jams that left many people stranded and out of gas as the huge storm bore down on the Texas coast.

- A federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's sale of HCA Inc. stock widened on Friday when the largest U.S. hospital chain said federal prosecutors had subpoenaed the company for related documents.

-Actor Warren Beatty leveled a blistering political assault on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday night, accusing him of governing "by show, by spin, by cosmetics and photos ops" while imposing Bush administration policies on California.

- Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes.

- Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.

- Embattled Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester Crawford resigned Friday, telling his staff that at age 67 it was time to step aside.

- Enter Florida at your own risk. That's the message supporters of gun control are sending in an ad campaign designed to warn visitors about Florida's new law allowing victims to shoot first in self-defense without fear of prosecution.

Progressive Talking Points

Conservative Government Rife with Corruption

  • Why was Jack Abramoff talking to Karl Rove about Tyco and what did he get in return? Today, the Washington Post reports that Abramoff "bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts." The accusation about Rove's involvement in helping Tyco International Ltd. secure its offshore tax breaks was made by Tim Flanigan, President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general. Rove, who is facing his own federal investigation over his involvement in the leak of an undercover CIA agent's identity, claimed through a White House spokeswoman that he had "no recollection" of being contacted by Abramoff about Tyco.

  • Why were top conservatives representing someone with known terrorist ties and what were they trying to accomplish? Both Jack Abramoff and David Safavian enjoy a close relationship with Grover Norquist, head of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, who also enjoys access and influence with the White House. Norquist and Safavian launched a consulting company together that represented an individual named Abdurahman Alamoudi. At the time Norquist and Safavian started representing Alamoudi, he was already suspected of terrorist ties. In 2000, Alamoudi declared at a public rally, "We are all supporters of Hamas...I wish to add that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah." Just last year, Alamoudi was sent to prison for his actions here and his connections to known terrorist organizations. So top conservative lobbyists, with high level access to the White House and members of Congress, were lobbying on behalf of a man with, at a minimum, highly questionable terrorist ties. What were they trying to accomplish and who knew about it?

  • The White House and Congress owe Americans a clear explanation for what role Abramoff and his web of illicit friends have played in our government. These troubling revelations are not something that can be shunted to the side. Beyond potential illegal domestic actions, our national security has potentially been compromised by an indicted lobbyist with unsavory clients and access to the top government officials. Americans deserve to know exactly what role Abramoff and his clients have had in Bush administration actions and decision making.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

"I wish New Orleans was dry and Washington was under water."

-Tom Waits

President Bush Links Hurricane Katrina and Terrorism and Is The Prez Drinking Again? in Today's Details 9/22/05

- Crude oil prices climbed toward $68 a barrel Thursday as Hurricane Rita advanced on Texas, raising fears it would hit key production facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast that were largely untouched by Hurricane Katrina's onslaught three weeks ago.

- Hundreds of thousands of people across the Houston metropolitan area struggled to make their way inland in a vast, bumper-to-bumper exodus Thursday as Hurricane Rita closed in on the nation's fourth-largest city with winds howling at 150 mph.

- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has maintained for years that his stock holdings in the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain posed no conflict of interest for a policymaker deeply involved in health care matters. He even received two rulings in the 1990s from the Senate ethics committee that blessed the holding of the stock in blind trusts. So when Frist decided in June to dump all the stock, and later cited as the reason his desire to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, eyebrows went up among ethics experts and congressional watchdogs. Why did he do it at that time? Precisely a month later, after the stock was sold, its price tumbled 9 percent when executives in the company -- HCA Inc., which was founded by Frist's father and on whose board Frist's brother serves -- disclosed that hospital admissions of insured patients were lower than expected, depressing profits in the second quarter.

- The widening investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff is moving beyond the confines of tawdry influence-peddling to threaten leading figures in the Republican hierarchy that dominates Washington. This week's arrest of David Safavian, the former head of procurement at the Office of Management and Budget, in connection with a land deal involving Abramoff brings the probe to the White House for the first time.

- Ford Motor Co. jumped on the hybrid-car bandwagon yesterday with a promise to boost production tenfold to 250,000 cars and trucks per year by 2010, a decision that moves hybrids closer to the mainstream of the U.S. auto market.

- President Bush on Wednesday for the first time linked the American response to terrorism and its response to Hurricane Katrina, declaring that the United Statesis emerging a stronger nation from both challenges, and saying that terrorists look at the storm's devastation "and wish they had caused it." (SAY WHAT??? Guess this shows how desperate they are --- the "T" word has always worked for them before, guess they thought they'd try it again.)

- Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal. Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe. Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster. (Am only posting this BECAUSE I heard an interview on the radio with the editor who said they had two sources for the story AND another major news organization was working on the story as well. Take it with a grain of salt would explain a lot and further my own theory that he's an empty suit.)

New and improved gas guage

Progressive Talking Points 9/22/05

  • Roll back President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the richest 1 percent. This simple measure will save the government $327 billion – more than enough to cover the estimated costs of the Katrina clean-up and reconstruction. We should also stop any future tax cuts for millionaires set to come into effect next year and forget about repealing the estate tax for the richest Americans. It’s about time conservatives asked for a little sacrifice from America’s economic elites.

  • Cut wasteful pork from the transportation and energy bills and eliminate unnecessary agricultural subsidies. We can save more than $20 billion by cutting out earmarks and pork set asides for congressmen and lobbyists. To start, we suggest eliminating roughly half of the 6,371 special earmarked projects of the 2005 transportation bill and then rolling back the tax breaks, loan guarantees, and other subsidies for the electricity, coal, nuclear, natural gas and oil industries in the 2005 energy bill. We can save another roughly $33 billion by doing away with export subsidies, reducing cotton subsidies, and reducing maximum payment limits on what producers can receive from $360,000 to $250,000.

  • Eliminate $200 billion in unnecessary and counterproductive weapons programs. The largest savings can be found in the bloated defense budget. Without harming any of our military efforts or plans for fighting terrorists, we can eliminate several Defense Department weapons programs that are either unnecessary, such as the F/A 22 Raptor and the DD(X), or are counter to our national security interests, like space weapons and "bunker buster" nuclear bombs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I learned more about the economy from one South Dakota dust storm that I did in all my years of college.

-Hubert H. Humphrey

All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Recommended Web Site

Honor The Fallen. A website honoring those military men and women who have died in the Iraq war.

The President's Support With Congressional Repubs Erroding & Is John Bolton the Man Behind The Plame Leak? in Today's Details 9/21/05

- Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum yesterday rejected the White House's open-wallet approach to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a sign that the lockstep GOP discipline that George W. Bush has enjoyed for most of his presidency is eroding on Capitol Hill.

- The number of deaths in Louisiana blamed on Hurricane Katrina has risen to 799, the state's Department of Health and Hospitals said Wednesday, bringing the overall death toll to 1,033.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco said Tuesday she was willing to return to the federal Treasury $70 million designated for San Francisco projects in the new highway and transportation bill and use the money to help pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Gaining strength with frightening speed, Hurricane Rita swirled toward the Gulf Coast a Category 5, 165-mph monster Wednesday as more than 1.3 million people in Texas and Louisiana were sent packing on orders from authorities who learned a bitter lesson from Katrina.

- Like your classic pulp novel it may all come together in the end. The creep in the background thrown in -- you thought -- for atmosphere turns out to be the killer.Well, I suppose we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves here but Arianna Huffington's latest theory (based on information from two sources...) on the source of the punitive Plame leak is that it traces back to the Mustached One himself, the unconfirmed ambassador to the UN, John Bolton.

- Congressional Republicans, backed by the White House, say they are using relief measures for the hurricane-ravaged Gulf coast to achieve a broad range of conservative economic and social policies, both in the storm zone and beyond. Some new measures are already taking shape. In the past week, the Bush administration has suspended some union-friendly rules that require federal contractors pay prevailing wages, moved to ease tariffs on Canadian lumber, and allowed more foreign sugar imports to calm rising sugar prices. Just yesterday, it waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.

-Boris Johnson

Recommended Web Site

Alive In Truth The New Orleans Disaster Project is recording the human stories of those who survived hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Feds Raise Short Term Interest Rate & One Billion Dollars Stolen In Iraq in Today's Details 9/20/05

- The Federal Reserve raised a key short-term interest rate Tuesday and suggested more rate hikes are on the way, saying it believes the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the economy would be temporary.

- Nine Americans, including five troops, have been killed by bombs in Iraq during the past two days, U.S. officials said Tuesday. Four troops, assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, were killed Monday in Ramadi, the U.S. military said. The deaths bring to 1,904 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

- Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid announced his opposition to Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts on Tuesday, voicing doubts about Roberts’ commitment to civil rights and accusing the Bush administration of stonewalling requests for documents that might shed light on his views.

- Large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defense ministry, has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than $1 billion going missing, Iraq's finance minister said in an interview.

- Rapidly strengthening Hurricane Rita lashed the Florida Keys on Tuesday and headed into the Gulf of Mexico, where forecasters feared it could develop into another blockbuster storm targeting Texas or Louisiana.

- Hurricane Katrina and the bungled government response have weakened President Bush, raising questions among Americans about his Iraq and Gulf Coast spending plans and spreading fears among fellow Republicans that his troubles could be contagious.

Bush's Approval Rating Down to 40% & Crude Oil Futures Surge More Tahn $4 in Today's Details 9/20/05

- President Bush's vow to rebuild the Gulf Coast did little to help his standing with the public, only 40 percent of whom now approve of his performance in office, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

- A United Nations panel of experts issued a report Monday saying there is no shortage of recruits for terrorism worldwide and that Iraq has provided new training ground for them, replacing al Qaeda bases lost in Afghanistan.

- Republicans on three separate congressional committees this week derailed three formal "resolutions of inquiry" by Democrats that would have required the Bush administration to turn over sensitive information and records relating to the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

- Crude- oil futures surged more than $4— the biggest one-day price jump ever — amid worries that Tropical Storm Rita strengthening off the Bahamas could hit U.S. oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico later this week, striking another blow at an industry struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Republicans on Capitol Hill and even some longtime Bush team members in various Cabinet level departments say this Administration is done for .

Under pressure from President Bush and other top federal officials, the mayor suspended the reopening of large portions of New Orleans Monday and instead ordered nearly everyone out because of the risk of a new round of flooding from a tropical storm on the way.

- Residents boarded up windows Monday and evacuated the low-lying Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Rita gathered strength in the Bahamas, threatening to grow into a hurricane with a potential 8-foot storm surge.

- Pope Benedict XVI's envoy to the United States to bring aid for Hurricane Katrina's victims said Saturday that many of them have been struck by "shameful" poverty in "rich America."

No School - No Shopping - No Work
local protests and teach-ins through December 2 and 3
Mass March on Wall Street, NYC
The People of New Orleans and the Gulf Must Control the Rebuilding, not Bush's Rich Friends!
Solidarity with Katrina Survivors - We demand an Independent Investigation
A JOB AT A LIVING WAGE is a human right
Healthcare, Housing and Education, not war and occupation

Monday, September 19, 2005

His [President George W. Bush} two greatest priorities are permanent tax cuts and Social Security. And somehow just by coincidence the real bite of those programs, which make the deficit even worse than it is, don't occur until 2009, starting when the president leaves office.

-Charles Schumer

Bill Clinton Slams Bush's Fiscal & Tax Policies & GOP Looks at Delaying Some Fed Spending in Today's Details 9/19/05

- Former President Bill Clinton slammed President Bush's fiscal and tax policies in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC News' "This Week."

- House Republicans are looking at delaying some federal spending, including money for a prescription drug benefit under Medicare and thousands of highway projects, to offset the cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a leading GOP fiscal conservative said Sunday.

- Whatever his other accomplishments, Bush will go down in history as the most fiscally irresponsible chief executive in American history. Since 2001, government spending has gone up from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, a 33 percent rise in four years! Defense and Homeland Security are not the only culprits. Domestic spending is actually up 36 percent in the same period.

- Thousands of tourists jammed the highways Sunday after they were told to evacuate the lower Florida Keys because Tropical Storm Rita developed over the Bahamas and moved toward the vulnerable, low-lying island chain.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I Can't Afford My Gasoline

Prices at the pumps got you down? Check this out!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Republicans stroke platitudes until they purr like epigrams.

-Adlai E. Stevenson

The 'Big Dog' On Meet The Press 9/18/05

In his first "Meet the Press" appearance since leaving office, former President William Jefferson Clinton will appear on this Sunday's edition of "Meet the Press with Tim Russert." The interview will originate from the site of Clinton's Global Initiative summit, where he has assembled heads of state and business leaders to discuss solutions to some of the world's toughest problems: poverty, religious conflict, the environment and more. President Clinton will also speak about Hurricane Katrina and the fundraising effort he is heading up with former President George H.W. Bush

John Bolton Visits Judith Miller in Prison & Environment May Have Crossed Threshold in Today's Details 9/17/05

- FEMA is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, evacuees, local and federal officials say.

- Jailed NYT Reporter Judith Miller is cut off from the world. She has no Internet access, her phone calls are limited, her newspaper is a day late. A parade of prominent government and media officials, 99 in all, have visited Miller. The list includes John Bolton, the new ambassador to the UN, Tom Brokaw, former senator Robert Dole.

- A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

As far back as eight years ago, Congress ordered FEMA to develop a plan for evacuating New Orleans during a massive hurricane, but the money instead went to studying the causeway bridge that spans the city's Lake Pontchartrain, officials say.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Katrina: What Happened When

It will take months to get the full story, but meanwhile here are some of the key facts about what happened and when officials acted.

Caption This Photo

President Rules Out Tax Hike to Pay Hurricane Reconstruction & Violence in Iraq Continues to Increase in Today's Details 9/16/05

- There was rejoicing in the streets of New Orleans last night when the power came back on for blocks on end. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans.

- In a prime-time address televised from the storm-battered French Quarter, the president committed the nation to a plan that officials and lawmakers believe could top $200 billion, roughly the cost of the Iraq war and reconstruction, and which promises to reorient government for the balance of the Bush presidency. It will create much larger deficits in the short term, siphon off money that would have been spent on other programs and dramatically shift the focus of the White House, Congress and many state governments for the indefinite future.

- President Bush on Friday ruled out raising taxes to pay the massive costs of Gulf Coast reconstruction, saying other government spending must be cut to pay for a recovery effort expected to swell the national debt by $200 billion or more.

- A leading Sunni cleric called for religious and ethnic groups to take a stand against violence as Iraq endured a third consecutive day of sectarian killings - the worst, a suicide car bombing at a Shiite mosque that killed at least 12 worshippers as they left Friday prayers.

- The House passed a measure to establish a special committee to jointly investigate with the Senate the sluggish government response to Katrina. Democrats objected to the Republican-led panel, saying a fully independent outside commission was needed to get to the truth. "The Bush administration and the Republican Congress should not investigate themselves," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. "And partisanship has no place in this inquiry."

- A new study concludes that rising sea temperatures have been accompanied by a significant global increase in the most destructive hurricanes, adding fuel to an international debate over whether global warming contributed to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

- A pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.

-James Thurber

Dealing With The Devil

By EAPrez

Perhaps I am just cynical but I reacted with suspicion rather than excitement at Mayor Naglin's announcement that 182,000 people would be permitted to return to New Orleans beginning next week. Huh? No lights, no water other than the toxic sludge - no grocery stores, etc. etc. et. but people will return next week?

Is it just me or does the timing of this announcement seem to be too much of coincidence? Bush and Co. are falling in the the polls faster than the speed of a category five hurricane. He’s forced to give a speech to try to stop the bleeding and Mayor Nagin announces 182,000 people will be able to return to the devastated city the day that speech is to be delivered. Sounds like a deal was struck to me.

If during the speech Bush says the proof that the Feds are doing a great job is that 182,000 people will be returning next week.....that’s all the proof I’ll need that Nagin struck a deal with the devil.

Suicide Bombers Kill 200 in Two Days in Iraq & 55% of Americans Favor Bringing Soldiers Home in Today's Details 9/15/05

-Suicide bombers inflicted another day of mayhem in the capital Thursday, killing at least 31 people in two attacks about a minute apart that targeted Iraqi police and Interior Ministry commandos. The carnage left nearly 200 people dead just two days.

- A plurality of Americans has favored reducing troop levels in Iraq for most of the year. Now, 55% favor bringing soldiers home, while just 36% back Mr. Bush's position that current levels should be maintained to help secure peace and stability.

- For the first time, just half of Americans approve of Mr. Bush's handling of terrorism, which has been his most consistent strength since he scored 90 percent approval ratings in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 6 in 10 now say that he does not share their priorities for the country, 10 percentage points worse than on the eve of his re-election last fall, while barely half say he has strong qualities of leadership, about the same as said so at the early low-ebb of his presidency in the summer of 2001.

A God With Whom I Am Not Familiar

A God With Whom I Am Not Familiar
Tim Wise

This is an open letter to the man sitting behind me at La Paz today, in Nashville, at lunchtime, in the Brooks Brothers shirt:

You don’t know me. But I know you.

I watched you as you held hands with your tablemates at the restaurant where we both ate this afternoon. I listened as you prayed, and thanked God for the food you were about to eat, and for your own safety, several hundred miles away from the unfolding catastrophe in New Orleans.

You blessed your chimichanga in the name of Jesus Christ, and then proceeded to spend the better part of your meal — and mine, since I was too near your table to avoid hearing every word — moralistically scolding the people of that devastated city, heaping scorn on them for not heeding the warnings to leave before disaster struck. Then you attacked them — all of them, without distinction, it seemed — for the behavior of a relative handful: those who have looted items like guns, or big-screen TVs.

(Click title to see rest of the article)