Tuesday, February 28, 2006

We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.
- Benjamin Harrison, address to Congress, 1888

New Zogby Poll: 72% of U.S. Troops Agree With Murtha

  • Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay “as long as they are needed”
  • While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
  • Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
  • Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
  • Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation
  • Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment
  • An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

    The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”


    I Have A Dream

    Thanks to my friend Tim at Dostoy's Contemplations for sending me this.

    Bush Approval Ratings Fall to 35%

    The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

    Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational
    control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

    CBS News senior White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that now it turns out the Coast Guard had concerns about the ports deal, a disclosure that is no doubt troubling to a president who assured Americans there was no security risk from the deal.


    HHS Chief: Fixing Health Care Costs 'Imperative'

    U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt challenged the nation’s governors to get health care costs under control, calling it an “economic imperative.” He warned that if medical costs continue to rise — and the latest numbers from his department suggest they will eat up one out of every five dollars of GDP by 2015 — the country will surely fall from the world’s economic leader board.


    Ohio Supreme Court rules against sentencing laws

    The Ohio Supreme Court on Monday ruled that several facets of the state's criminal sentencing laws are unconstitutional.

    The unanimous decision affects hundreds of pending cases statewide but does not necessarily mean shorter prison terms for those appealing their cases.


    Action Alert

    72% of U.S. soldiers in Iraq want the war ended this year, according to a
    new Zogby poll. (29% say immediately, 22% say next six months, and 21%
    say 6-12 months.) Many soldiers (42%) are not clear what the mission is.
    90% think the war was retaliation for Saddam Hussein's role in 9-11, but of
    course he has been removed from power and, of course, had no role in


    CALL CONGRESS 202-224-3121

    Veterans May Face Health Care Cuts in 2008

    At least tens of thousands of veterans with non-critical medical issues could suffer delayed or even denied care in coming years to enable President Bush to meet his promise of cutting the deficit in half — if the White House is serious about its proposed budget.

    After an increase for next year, the Bush budget would turn current trends on their head. Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing by leaps and bounds, White House budget documents assume a cutback in 2008 and further cuts thereafter.

    In fact, the proposed cuts are so draconian that it seems to some that the White House is simply making them up to make its long-term deficit figures look better. More realistic numbers, however, would raise doubts as to whether Bush can keep his promise to wrestle the deficit under control by the time he leaves office.

    "Either the administration is proposing gutting VA health care over the next five years or it is not serious about its own budget," said Rep. Chet Edwards (news, bio, voting record) of Texas, top Democrat on the panel overseeing the VA's budget. "If the proposals aren't serious, then that would undermine the administration's argument that they intend to reduce the deficit in half over the next several years."


    Toll in Iraq's Deadly Surge: 1,300

    Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.


    GOP Govs. Say Bush Miscues Hurt Candidates

    Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration's latest stumbles — from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security — are taking an election-year toll on the party back home.

    The GOP governors reluctantly acknowledge that the series of gaffes threatens to undermine public confidence in President Bush's ability to provide security, which has long been his greatest strength among voters.

    "You've got solid conservatives coming up speaking like they haven't before, it's likely that something's going on at the grass roots," said Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina. "Whether it's temporary or not remains to be seen."


    Supreme Court Backs Abortion Protesters

    A 20-year-old legal fight over protests outside abortion clinics ended Tuesday with the Supreme Court ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used against demonstrators.


    Dubai ports firm enforces Israel boycott

    The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

    The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

    "Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.


    Check this out Wewillnotbesilenced.com

    Bush Can't Find Traction for His Agenda

    (This is written in a way (buffeted by one calamity after another) which suggests that the President is the victim of his policies and appointments rather than the engineer of the disaster that is his administration. eaprez)

    President Bush has been buffeted by one calamity after another. Try what he may, he just can't seem to find traction for his second-term agenda.

    With midterm congressional elections approaching, it won't get any easier.

    The bad news has been coming in waves, from furors over Hurricane Katrina and warrantless wiretapping to the error-plagued rollout of the new Medicare prescription drug program, Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident, growing civil strife in Iraq, and now the Republican revolt over the administration's Dubai port decision.

    The controversies have rocked the White House and caused alarm among Republican strategists. Their party's electoral hopes in November may depend on whether Bush is able to right his troubled presidency.


    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2294/241

    Most Recent Casualties:

    February 20, 2006
    Army Sgt. Jessie Davila,29, of Greensburg, Kan
    Operation Iraq Freedom
    Marine Staff Sgt. Jay T. Collado,
    31, of Columbia, S.C.
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Progressive Talking Points 2/28/06

    Botched Port Politics

    As debate rages on over the sale of operations at 21 U.S Ports to the UAE company, Dubai Ports World, it is almost mind-boggling to see how the Bush Administration mismanaged the politics behind the review. Preoccupied first with the Scooter Libby indictment and then with the vice presidential hunting trip, the Bush White House has become the gang that couldn’t govern straight. Whether or not the Bush administration followed the letter of the law, and there are legitimate questions whether they did, it should have recognized that members of Congress, and governors and mayors who actually own the ports in question, would have serious questions about the merger and should have been consulted. Because of its preoccupation with internal problems, including who in the White House had his picture taken with Jack Abramoff, not only is the White House facing a revolt within the Republican-led Congress, but we are at risk of making the port security debate the next “cartoon” and a vehicle for increased anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.

    • Before approving the sale, the Bush Administration skirted the law that requires a 45-day investigation into the sale. In an ordinary case of foreign direct investment, the law requires a 30-day review of the transaction. A 1993 law, however, makes it mandatory to conduct an additional 45-day “investigation” to address national security concerns resulting from foreign ownership. Somehow, the Bush Administration failed to recognize the clear national security implications of the proposed merger. Uncertainty within the Coast Guard about the implications of the arrangement should have by itself justified additional 45-day review.

    • Where was Karl Rove when he was actually needed? For a White House that has shown such political skill and discipline over five years, it is amazing to see how far off their game they are as their policy, legal and political challenges mount. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process may not require broader consultation, but it is hard to believe that the White House and senior officials from 12 federal departments failed to see that this merger would be politically controversial. Did they not see the same dynamic at work last year with the proposed merger between CNOOC and UNOCAL? You would think someone would have picked up the phone and at least called Karl Rove and said, “I know you are focused on staying out of jail, but you need to pay attention to this.”

    • Because of White House political mismanagement, we are faced with a no-win port security challenge that will undoubtedly fuel anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Port security has not been a high enough homeland security priority after 9/11. There are legitimate questions that need to be addressed about foreign-owned operations at our ports, arguably America’s most vital and vulnerable critical infrastructure. However, instead of planning detailed and substantive consultations with Congress and local officials, the port security issue and our relationship with the Middle East are caught up in an election year political feeding frenzy and needless institutional tensions between the executive and legislative branches. If not handled properly, the port issue can regrettably inflame anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and further isolate the United States from the rest of the world.

    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2307/257

    Most recent casualties

    February 28, 2006

    Army Master Sgt. Emigdio E. Elizarraras, 37, of Pico Rivera, Calif
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    February 27, 2006
    Army Staff Sgt. Dwayne P.R. Lewis
    , 26, of New York City
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete Casualty List

    Monday, February 27, 2006

    Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose.
    -Friedrich Nietzsche, The Antichrist

    Don Knotts, star of 'The Andy Griffith Show,' dead at 81

    (It is one of my daily habits to watch Andy Griffith re-runs on TV Land - and it is because of this guy, Don Knotts. Barney Fife has got to be my favorite TV character of all time. I don't care how many times I've seen an episode - Barney is still able to elicit a laugh from me - even when I've had a very bad day. eaprez)

    Don Knotts, the saucer-eyed, scarecrow-thin comic actor best known for his roles as the high-strung small-town deputy Barney Fife on the 1960s CBS series "The Andy Griffith Show" and the leisure-suit-clad landlord Ralph Furley on ABC's '70s sitcom "Three's Company," has died. He was 81.

    Knotts, who lived in West Los Angeles, died Friday night of lung cancer at UCLA Medical Center, according to Sherwin Bash, his longtime manager.
    However, it was his portrayal of Barney Fife — a role for which he won five Emmy Awards -- that immortalized Knotts to TV viewers. Deputy Fife, an inveterate bumbler, was not in the series pilot, and was at first intended simply to be part of a large ensemble that would surround Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor in Mayberry, a fictional North Carolina town near Raleigh.

    But not long after the series debuted in October 1960, Knotts stole the show. Griffith, who was meant to be the series' comic focus, shifted to playing straight man. The writers began beefing up Fife's role and creating episodes that depended on the sheriff rescuing Fife from his latest predicament. "Andy Griffith" was the most popular comedy on television during its first season, and never dropped from the Top 10 for the rest of its eight-year run.


    Not One Penny More For War! National Call-In Day Tuesday Feb 28th

    Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard on Tuesday Feb. 28th at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative (or one of your Senators). Give them this basic message in your own words: "I strongly oppose the war in Iraq. I want all our troops brought home safely, without delay. I urge Representative X to vote against the President's $72.4 billion 'emergency' supplemental request for the war." More Info:

    The Republicans who run Congress will include small amounts of money for all sorts of good things in the supplemental or group of supplementals to be voted on. This will provide your Representative all sorts of noble excuses for voting for a lot more money for war. Tell them this position will only be credible if they cosponsor Rep. Jim McGovern's bill, which simply ends funding for the war:

    To see how your Representative has voted on the war, download the UFPJ Congressional Scorecard (in Excel spreadsheet format) by clicking here:

    Thanks to my friend Tim at Dostoy's Contemplations for turning me on to this wonderful comic strip. Check out the website by clicking here.

    A Dying Presidency

    (Got this from Glen Greenwald's blog - an absolutely must check out blog! There are so many great blogs out there - you should get an RSS Feed Reader so you can save your fav's in it - you can get all the updates in one window without having to surf to all of them. eaprez)

    George Bush's presidency is in deep trouble. He is vulnerable on every front, including within his own increasingly fractious party. While polls have long indicated that all Americans beyond his alarmingly loyal "base" have abandoned him, even that base is beginning to turn on him. None of his old tricks are working, and the new ones are backfiring.

    As Taylor Marsh notes, a new poll by Rasmussen Reports (the polling outfit most trusted by Bush followers) was released today, and it contains not bad news, but panic-inducing news, for Bush and his followers:


    Texas Nonprofit Is Cleared After GOP-Prompted Audit

    The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas nonprofit group that was critical of campaign spending by former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay's political allies in the House.


    Republican Adoption

    State Senator Robert Hagan (D-Ohio) says he will introduce legislation to ban Republican couples from adopting children. According to Hagan, "credible research'' shows that adopted children raised in GOP households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities." Hagan agrees there is no scientific evidence backing his claims about Republican parents -- just, as Hagan notes, there is none backing State Representative Ron Hood's (R) bill banning gay parents from adopting. Hood claims children purportedly suffer from emotional "harm" when they are adopted by gay couples. Hagen admits he created his proposal to mock Hood's proposed ban on gay adoption in a way that people would see the "blatantly discriminatory and extremely divisive" nature of the bill. The GOP House leadership does not support Hood's proposal.

    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2291/244

    Most Recent Casualties

    February 18, 2006

    Marine Cpl. Matthew D. Conley, 21, of Killen, Ala.
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Army Sgt. Charles E. Matheny IV,
    23 of Stanwood, Wash.
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete Casualty List

    Progressive Talking Points 2/27/06

    Finding a Way Out

    February 27, 2006

    As we approach the three year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the government of post-war Iraq still struggles to exceed the level of service and security provided in pre-war Iraq. And as the situation Iraq gets worse, the administration’s lack of a post-war plan becomes clearer. President Bush seems to be unwilling to change course, making him a captive to the realities on the ground. The Center for American Progress has a sensible, alternative approach -- Strategic Redeployment -- that more people outside the administration are beginning to embrace.

    • The possibility of civil war has been predicted for months. Before US troops set foot into Iraq, members of Congress worried aloud about the possibility of civil war. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) questioned, "What plans do we have to prevent Iraq from breaking up and descending into civil war?" Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) added, "The end of Saddam Hussein could mean the start of a civil war." The International Crisis Group continues to warn that Iraq is on the verge of breaking up along religious, ethnic and tribal lines. The administration should have anticipated that this was going to occur.

    • Even conservatives are beginning to back away from the administration on Iraq. Conservatives, who were once the strongest supporters of President Bush’s plan to invade Iraq, are now starting to back away from the administration’s "stay the course" strategy. Conservatives like William F. Buckley, Jr., and George Will are questioning the Bush strategy, and Bill Kristol, who was one of the staunchest defenders of the war, now says "we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq."

    • There is a sensible plan to move forward in Iraq. American Progress national security analysts Lawrence Korb and Brian Katulis are the authors of a widely circulated proposal for a "strategic redeployment" of US forces in Iraq. The plan "calls for the drawdown of 80,000 troops by the end of this year, with some sent to Afghanistan, Africa and Asia and others positioned in Kuwait. Nearly all of the remaining 60,000 US troops would leave by the end of 2007." The deployment of troops to nearby nations "could respond to emergencies in Iraq and help fight terrorism in other countries."

    Sunday, February 26, 2006

    In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith.

    -J. William Fulbright

    Autistic Teen's Hoop Dreams Come True

    (This is such a sweet story. Have tissues! eaprez)

    It was the stuff of Hollywood, but it was real.

    Senior Jason McElwain had been the manager of the varsity basketball team of Greece Athena High School in Rochester, N.Y.

    McElwain, who's autistic, was added to the roster by coach Jim Johnson so he could be given a jersey and get to sit on the bench in the team's last game of the year.


    Here's a different
    video of the story on Crooks & Liars.

    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2291/244

    Most Recent Casualties

    February 17, 2006
    Army Capt. Anthony R. Garcia, 48, of Fort Worth, Texas

    Marine Sgt. Jonathan E. McColley, 23, of Gettysburg, Pa.

    Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis M. Melendez Sanchez, 33, of Bayamon, Puerto Rico

    Army Sgt. 1st Class Amos C. Edwards Jr.,
    41, of Savannah, Ga.
    Marine 1st Lt. Brandon R. Dronet, 33, of Erath, La.
    Marine Sgt. James F. Fordyce, 22, of Newton Square, Pa.
    Marine Lance Cpl. Samuel W. Large Jr., 21, of Villa Rica, Ga.
    Marine Sgt. Donnie Leo F. Levens, 25, of Long Beach, Miss.
    Marine Cpl. Matthieu Marcellus, 31, of Gainesville, Fla.
    Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Sovie, 20, of Ogdensburg, N.Y.
    Marine Capt. Bryan D. Willard, 33, of Hummelstown, Pa.
    Air Force Senior Airman Alecia S. Good, 23, of Broadview Heights, Ohio

    Complete Casualty List

    Mortars Slam Into Baghdad Neighborhoods

    Violence killed at least 29 people Sunday, including three American soldiers, and mortar fire rumbled through the heart of Baghdad after sundown despite stringent security measures imposed after an explosion of sectarian violence.


    Reporter's Fate Unknown As Deadline Passes

    Iraqi police conducted raids in search of kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll on Sunday, the deadline set by her captors for the United States to meet their demands, but the day passed without word on whether her captors carried out their threat to kill her.


    George Will: "This Is A Civil War"

    From Thinkprogress.org

    Conservative columnist George Will this morning on ABC’s This Week:

    STEPHANOPOULOS: What does civil war look like?

    WILL: This. This is a civil war.

    Later, Will even questioned whether Iraq can truly be said to have a government:

    Now, does Iraq have a government? Let me just postulate the question. A government exists when it has a reasonable monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. As long as the militias are out there, the existence of an Iraqi government is questionable. Think of Los Angeles. If Los Angeles said the Bloods and the Crips are going to be tolerated, they’re going to be armed and police their areas and enforce the law in certain areas, what sense would Los Angeles have of government?


    Frist says he's OK with ports deal

    U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said yesterday he's gained a "pretty good" comfort level with the deal under which a United Arab Emirates company would take over operations at six U.S. ports.

    However, Frist said he wants to "take a pause" for 30 to 45 days so other members of Congress can be briefed.


    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2300/255

    Most Recent Casualties:

    February 26, 2006

    Army Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Schornak, 28, of Hoover, Ala
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Army Spc. Joshua M. Pearce, 21, of Guymon, Okla
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Army Spc Clap P. Farr, 21, of Bakersfield, Calif. Operation Iraq Freedom
    Army Spc Joshua U. Humble, 21, Appleton, Maine Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete Casualty List

    2 U.S. GIs Among 7 Dead in Iraq Violence

    Bomb blasts and gunfire killed at least seven people, including two U.S. soldiers, in Baghdad and to the south Sunday as an extraordinary daylight curfew was lifted in three provinces following the bombing of a Shiite shrine and a wave of retribution against Sunnis.


    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

    -Edward R. Murrow

    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2300/255

    Most Recent Casualties:

    February 25, 2006

    Marine Lance Cpl. Adam H. Vanalstine, 21, of Superior, Wisc
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Marine Lance Cpl. John J. Thornton, 22, of Phoenix, Az,
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Army Pfc Benjamin C. Shuster, 21, of Williamsville, N.Y.,
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete Casualty List

    Folk Songs of the Far Right Wing

    click here to hear.

    Found @ Huffingtonpost.com

    Libby Loses a Round in Court

    Vice President Cheney's former top aide is not entitled to know the identity of an anonymous administration official who revealed information about CIA operative Valerie Plame to two journalists, a federal judge ruled in a hearing yesterday.

    To defend himself against criminal charges, however, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby does have the right to copies of all the classified notes he took as Cheney's chief of staff from spring 2003 to spring 2004, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said. Libby sought the notes to refresh his memory about matters he was handling while discussing Plame with reporters and when questioned by investigators about those conversations.


    White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak

    By Jason Leopold
    t r u t h o u t | Report

    The White House turned over last week 250 pages of emails from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Senior aides had sent the emails in the spring of 2003 related to the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald revealed during a federal court hearing Friday.

    The emails are said to be explosive, and may prove that Cheney played an active role in the effort to discredit Plame Wilson’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar Iraq intelligence, sources close to the investigation said.

    Sources close to the probe said the White House “discovered” the emails two weeks ago and turned them over to Fitzgerald last week. The sources added that the emails could prove that Cheney lied to FBI investigators when he was interviewed about the leak in early 2004. Cheney said that he was unaware of any effort to discredit Wilson or unmask his wife’s undercover status to reporters.


    Friday, February 24, 2006

    No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

    -Barbara Ehrenreich

    Did the White House "Authorize" Leaks to Woodward?

    Did the Bush administration "authorize" the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward? And did those leaks damage national security?

    The vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) made exactly that charge tonight in a letter to John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. What prompted Rockefeller to write Negroponte was a recent op-ed in the New York Times by CIA director Porter Goss complaining that leaks of classified information were the fault of "misguided whistleblowers."

    Rockefeller charged in his letter that the most "damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of intelligence agencies."


    The American Objective in Iraq Has Failed

    By William F. Buckley, Jr

    "I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes — it is America." The New York Times

    One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that “The bombing has completely demolished” what was being attempted — to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

    Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

    The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.
    reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."


    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central Command: 2297/255

    Most recent casualties:

    February 24, 2006

    Army Pvt. Joshua F. Powers
    , 21, of Skiatook, Okla.
    Operation Iraq Freedom
    Army Sgt. Dimitri Muscat, 21 of Aurora, Colo.
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete Casualty List

    Memos Detail 74 CIA Landings in Canada

    CIA planes have landed in Canada 74 times since the 9/11 terror attacks, underscoring fears that the United States is ferrying suspected terrorists through its neighboring country en route to foreign prisons for torture, according to newly declassified government documents.


    Plame Whistleblowers Targeted by Administration

    By Jason Leopold
    t r u t h o u t | Report

    Two top Bush administration officials who played an active role in the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, have been removing from their jobs, career State Deptartment weapons experts who have spoken to investigators during the past two years about the officials role in the leak, according to a half-dozen State Department officials.

    The State Department officials requested anonymity for fear of further retribution. They said they believe they are being sidelined because they have been cooperating with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, and have disagreed with the Bush administration's intelligence that claimed Iraq sought 500 tons of yellowcake uranium ore from Niger - an explosive piece of intelligence that was included in President Bush's January 2003, State of the Union address that was found to be based on crude forgeries, but helped pave the way to war.

    The reshuffling, which has been conducted in secret since late last year, has led to a mini-revolt inside the State Department, numerous officials who work there said.

    The officials who have been leading the State Department reorganization plan are Frederick Fleitz and Robert Joseph. Fleitz now works for Joseph. Both men were appointed to their positions by President Bush. They have claimed publicly that the State Department reshuffle has nothing to do with retribution, rather it is aimed at helping that branch of the federal government to better deal with 21st century threats.


    Pentagon Told to Release Gitmo Transcripts

    A federal judge ordered the Pentagon on Thursday to release the identities of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to The Associated Press, a move which would force the government to break its secrecy and reveal the most comprehensive list yet of those who have been imprisoned there.

    Some of the hundreds of detainees in the war on terror being held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been held as long as four years. Only a handful have been officially identified.

    U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in New York ordered the Defense Department to release uncensored transcripts of detainee hearings, which contain the names of detainees in custody and those who have been held and later released. Previously released documents have had identities and other details blacked out.


    UAE gave $1 million to Bush library

    A sheik from the United Arab Emirates contributed at least $1 million to the Bush Library Foundation, which established the George Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University in College Station.

    The UAE owns Dubai Port Co., which is taking operations from London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which operates six U.S. ports. A political uproar has ensued over the deal, which the White House approved without congressional oversight.


    Osama, Saddam and the Ports

    By Paul Krugman
    The New York Times

    The storm of protest over the planned takeover of some U.S. port operations by Dubai Ports World doesn't make sense viewed in isolation. The Bush administration clearly made no serious effort to ensure that the deal didn't endanger national security. But that's nothing new - the administration has spent the past four and a half years refusing to do anything serious about protecting the nation's ports.

    So why did this latest case of sloppiness and indifference finally catch the public's attention? Because this time the administration has become a victim of its own campaign of fearmongering and insinuation.

    Let's go back to the beginning. At 2:40 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld gave military commanders their marching orders. "Judge whether good enough hit S. H. [Saddam Hussein] @ same time - not only UBL [Osama bin Laden]," read an aide's handwritten notes about his instructions. The notes were recently released after a Freedom of Information Act request. "Hard to get a good case," the notes acknowledge. Nonetheless, they say: "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

    So it literally began on Day 1. When terrorists attacked the United States, the Bush administration immediately looked for ways it could exploit the atrocity to pursue unrelated goals - especially, but not exclusively, a war with Iraq.

    But to exploit the atrocity, President Bush had to do two things. First, he had to create a climate of fear: Al Qaeda, a real but limited threat, metamorphosed into a vast, imaginary axis of evil threatening America. Second, he had to blur the distinctions between nasty people who actually attacked us and nasty people who didn't.

    The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam - what's the difference?

    Now comes the port deal. Mr. Bush assures us that "people don't need to worry about security." But after all those declarations that we're engaged in a global war on terrorism, after all the terror alerts declared whenever the national political debate seemed to be shifting to questions of cronyism, corruption and incompetence, the administration can't suddenly change its theme song to "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

    The administration also tells us not to worry about having Arabs control port operations. "I want those who are questioning it," Mr. Bush said, "to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."

    He was being evasive, of course. This isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's a company controlled by the monarchy in Dubai, which is part of the authoritarian United Arab Emirates, one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan.

    But more to the point, after years of systematically suggesting that Arabs who didn't attack us are the same as Arabs who did, the administration can't suddenly turn around and say, "But these are good Arabs."

    Finally, the ports affair plays in a subliminal way into the public's awareness - vague but widespread - that Mr. Bush, the self-proclaimed deliverer of democracy to the Middle East, and his family have close personal and financial ties to Middle Eastern rulers. Mr. Bush was photographed holding hands with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (now King Abdullah), not the emir of Dubai. But an administration that has spent years ridiculing people who try to make such distinctions isn't going to have an easy time explaining the difference.

    Mr. Bush shouldn't really be losing his credibility as a terrorism fighter over the ports deal, which, after careful examination (which hasn't happened yet), may turn out to be O.K. Instead, Mr. Bush should have lost his credibility long ago over his diversion of U.S. resources away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda and into an unnecessary war in Iraq, his bungling of that war, and his adoption of a wrongful imprisonment and torture policy that has blackened America's reputation.

    But there is, nonetheless, a kind of rough justice in Mr. Bush's current predicament. After 9/11, the American people granted him a degree of trust rarely, if ever, bestowed on our leaders. He abused that trust, and now he is facing a storm of skepticism about his actions - a storm that sweeps up everything, things related and not.

    Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote

    An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

    Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.


    New York Times, with same facts, changes Iraq conflict from 'civil war' to having 'endangered future'

    The New York Times declared on its website early Friday in a headline that the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, had warned to U.S. was on the "precipice of full-scale civil war." Their headline? "U.S. Envoy in Baghdad Says Iraq Is on Brink of Civil War."

    Within an hour and without explanation, the Times yanked the headline in favor of "U.S. Envoy Says Sectarian Violence Threatens Iraq's Future."


    IRS Finds Charities Overstep Into Politics

    IRS exams found nearly 3 out of 4 churches, charities and other civic groups suspected of having violated restraints on political activity in the 2004 election actually did so, the agency said Friday.

    Most of the examinations that have concluded found only a single, isolated incidence of prohibited campaign activity.

    In three cases, however, the IRS uncovered violations egregious enough to recommend revoking the groups' tax-exempt status.

    "While the vast majority of charities, including churches, did not engage in politicking, our examinations substantiated a disturbing amount of political intervention in the 2004 electoral cycle," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a statement.


    Special Counsel in Plame Case Invalid, Libby Contends

    Attorneys for Vice President Cheney's former top aide argued yesterday that a federal court should dismiss all charges against him because a special prosecutor lacked the legal authority to bring the charges.

    Lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby argued that Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald was improperly appointed by the Justice Department instead of the president to investigate the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. That means his work and the charges of perjury, making false statements and obstructing justice brought against Libby in October are invalid, they said in court papers filed yesterday.


    U.S. Envoy Warns of Danger to Iraq's Future

    The American ambassador to Iraq said today that sectarian violence this week was a threat to the future of Iraq, and that Iraqi leaders would have to come together and compromise if they wanted to save their homeland.

    The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, made his remarks as sectarian fury in the streets appeared to ebb after two days of reprisals over the bombing of a major Shiite mosque.

    Across Iraq today, people walked through quiet streets to attend weekly prayer service at neighborhood mosques. Traffic was light because of a rare daytime curfew that the government had put in place to try to prevent worshippers from attending Friday Prayers, out of fear that imams would incite more violence. The groups that did gather appeared to do so in a largely peaceful manner, though.

    Mr. Khalilzad, in a conference call with reporters, said: "What we've seen in the past two days, the attack has had a major impact here, getting everyone's attention that Iraq is in danger."

    The country's leaders, he added, "must come together, they must compromise with each other to bring the people of Iraq together and save this country."

    Mr. Khalilzad's comments are the most explicit acknowledgment so far by an American official of the instability of the situation. The killings and assaults across Iraq that began Wednesday have amounted to the worst sectarian violence since the American invasion.


    Progressive Talking Points 2/24/06

    Katrina – All Talk No Action

    The White House released its report on the "lessons learned" from the response to Hurricane Katrina. At 228 pages, the report is short on real solutions to the problems exposed by Katrina. The report doesn’t address the most critical issues, at times offers rationales for mistakes, and can read like a recitation of history. What would be more helpful for the country is if the White House actually admitted the personal mistakes that were made during the failed response to Katrina and did something to rectify them.

    • The White House report goes out of its way to avoid assigning blame. The White House report weighs-in at 228 pages – and manages to not single out any individual for blame. Both the House and GAO reports found that not only did President Bush not properly lead during Katrina, but that Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff deserved a large amount of blame for the failed response. While there were certainly structural problems at both DHS and FEMA, as Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) said, "Only a full understanding of what went wrong and who was responsible will enable us to correct our path for the future."

    • The White House has not budgeted enough money for emergency preparedness. President Bush’s budget cut "funds for state and local programs by nearly 10 percent. First responder programs also were cut, including a 45 percent cut in federal firefighter assistance. Despite a promise to make the levees stronger in New Orleans, the Bush budget called for a 34 percent cut on the construction budget for the Army Corps of Engineers" and a 13 percent cut to flood prevention.

    • The White House solution will create extra levels of bureaucracy while not fixing the problem. The White House solution to Katrina problems is to create more levels of bureaucracy. They would create local offices of DHS which would replicate the regional FEMA offices that, when managed properly, worked fine. They would create the "Disaster Response Group” but this new group wouldn’t stop the kind of infighting that happened between Chertoff and Mike Brown. What is needed is not the creation of more bureaucracy but credible, accountable, and strong leadership within DHS, FEMA and the White House.

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power.

    -Paul Wellstone

    Number of Operations Iraq Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties
    as confirmed by U.S. Central Command:

    Most recent casualties:

    February 14, 2006
    Marine Cpl. Rusty L. Washam,
    21, of Huntsville, Tenn.
    Operation Iraq Freedom
    Marine Lance Cpl. Michael S. Probst, 26, of Irvine, Calif.
    Operation Iraq Freedom
    Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Barnes, 20, of West Monroe, La.
    Operation Iraq Freedom

    Complete casualty list.

    Senator Challenges Ports Deal Procedure

    (OK fellow news junkies....what item in this news clip jumps out at you? )

    The senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee angrily accused the Bush administration Thursday of ignoring the law by refusing to extend an investigation of a United Arab Emirates company's takeover of significant U.S. port operations.

    Bush, talking to reporters at the conclusion of a Cabinet meeting earlier Thursday, said that "people don't need to worry about security."

    "The more people learn about the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by my government," Bush said, "the more they'll be comforted that our ports will be secure."

    Clashing with a Treasury Department official on a mission to calm a political uproar, Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record) said the law has language specifically requiring a longer review than the one that an interagency committee conducted, if a business deal could affect national security.

    (Give up? Here's a hint....3rd paragraph.)

    (Still don't get it? How about the part where he says "MY" government? HIS government?)


    ACLU: New documents show senior officials approved Gitmo abuse

    The American Civil Liberties Union released newly obtained documents Thursday showing that senior Defense Department officials approved aggressive interrogation techniques that FBI agents deemed abusive, ineffective and unlawful, RAW STORY has learned.


    Sept. 11 Report Ties Bin Laden to UAE

    The United States raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates seven years ago about possible ties between officials in that country and Osama bin Laden, according to a section of the Sept. 11 commission's report that details a possible missed opportunity to kill the al-Qaida leader.

    Republicans and Democrats alike are raising concerns this week about the Bush administration's decision to let a UAE-operated company take over operations at six American ports, in part citing ties the Sept. 11 hijackers had to the Persian Gulf country.

    President Bush has called the UAE a close partner on the war on terror since Sept. 11, and his aides have listed numerous examples of the country's help.

    The Sept. 11 commission's report released last year also raised concerns UAE officials were directly associating with bin Laden as recently as 1999.

    The report states U.S. intelligence believed that bin Laden was visiting an area in the Afghan desert in February 1999 near a hunting camp used by UAE officials, and that the U.S. military planned a missile strike.


    Roadside bombs kill seven US soldiers in Iraq

    Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq on Wednesday when roadside bombs struck the vehicles in which they were traveling, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

    Four U.S. soldiers were killed in the Iraqi town of Hawija while on patrol, the military said.

    Three U.S. soldiers were killed near the Iraqi town of Balad when their vehicle struck another roadside bomb.


    South Dakota Approves Bill Outlawing Nearly All Abortions

    (They wasted no time. The begining of the end. eaprez)

    The South Dakota Senate today approved a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in the state, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by a state in more than a decade.

    If the bill is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican who opposes abortion, advocates of abortion rights have pledged to challenge it in court immediately — and that is precisely what the bill's supporters have in mind.

    The bill passed by a vote of 23 to 12 after opponents tried unsuccessfully to attach amendments that would have created exceptions for cases of rape and incest and that would have blocked spending of state money to defend against the court challenge that is sure to come.


    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.

    -Albert Einstein

    An Open Letter

    (You simply must read this post on "Brads Brain" --- had me laughing out loud at the office today when I reached the last line. [yeah, I read all ya all's stuff at the office! ] eaprez)

    To 51% of the American Voting Public:

    and voted against your self-interests. Or perhaps you're in the top 5 percent of wage-earners in the nation, and you're the only people that Bush's programs have Way back in November of 2004, you all went to your local polls and cast your ballot for George W. Bush for president. You may have done so for many reasons. Perhaps you don't pay attention to the news. Perhaps you've been blinded by Republican spinhelped. You may well have done it because you can't stand all these damn fags and black people running around, having abortions and what-not.


    Mosque Attack Pushes Iraq Toward Civil War

    Insurgents posing as police destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq's holiest Shiite shrines Wednesday, setting off an unprecendented spasm of sectarian violence. Angry crowds thronged the streets, militiamen attacked Sunni mosques, and at least 19 people were killed.

    With the gleaming dome of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine reduced to rubble, some Shiites lashed out at the United States as partly to blame.

    The violence — many of the 90 attacks on Sunni mosques were carried out by Shiite militias — seemed to push Iraq closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein.


    Action Alert

    The very existence of online civic participation and the free Internet as we know it are under attack by America Online.

    AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax." Under this pay-to-send system, large emailers willing to pay an "email tax" can bypass spam filters and get guaranteed access to people's inboxes—with their messages having a preferential high-priority designation.1

    Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups, and even families with mailing lists will inevitably be left with inferior Internet service unless they are willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need to stop AOL immediately so other email hosts know that following AOL's lead would be a mistake.

    Can you sign this emergency petition to America Online and forward it to your friends?

    Sign here: http://civic.moveon.org/emailtax/?id=6931-3396758-CplcP4cAd6fHidwY5G2vnw&t=2

    Petition statement: "AOL, don't auction off preferential access to people's inboxes to giant emailers, while leaving people's friends, families, and favorite causes wondering if their emails are being delivered at all. The Internet is a force for democracy and economic innovation only because it is open to all Internet users equally—we must not let it become an unlevel playing field."

    Sign here: http://civic.moveon.org/emailtax/?id=6931-3396758-CplcP4cAd6fHidwY5G2vnw&t=3

    Thank you for all you do.

    –Eli Pariser, Noah T. Winer, Adam Green, and the MoveOn.org Civic Action team