OK, let's get this out of the way, I hate the Eagles. Not as much as Arsenal or the Yankees, but I truly detest the Philadephia Eagles. Their fans are boorish pigs and every game my friends have been to at the Vet ended in a fight. So I'm usually looking for an Eagles loss unless the Giants need them to win for a playoff spot.
My best friend, who's a Cowboys fan, has similar feeling for the Eagles. Undiluted hatred.
However, we are not blind.
When I went over to Atrios this morning, I saw something about Limbaugh and the Eagles. I know he lives in Philly, so I read it.
Sunday, the racist pig Limbaugh claimed the following:
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL,'' Limbaugh said. "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well ... McNabb got a lot of the credit for the performance of the team that he really didn't deserve.''
Really? Well someone should tell Jim Fassel and Bill Parcells this, because I was under the impression defending against him was, well, a bit of a problem. I know he's had a habit of making the Giants defense look like stunted monkeys. The Eagles have a solid defense, but the Eagles have a weak O line and crappy receivers and no running game. So what the hell is he supposed to do? Toss the ball in the air and run down the field to catch it?
ESPN fucked up hiring a known racist to cover a sport which is 60 percent black. I have neither the time nor inclination to sort through Limbaugh's numerous racist statements over the years, but they are well known. The man has an antipathy towards blacks which is imfamous. Why not hire Ice Cube to comment on hockey or Leeds fans to cover Turkish soccer. The simple fact is that black quaterbacks had to force their way into the NFL and play well to stay there.
So what WAS going on with McNabb, who people on the east coast followed since he wound up at Syracuse. How did a Chicago boy wind up there? All the Big 10 schools wanted him to play defense back or wide receiver. NONE recruited him as a quarterback. Which was their mistake. He took Dick McPherson's Orangemen to bowl games and turned 'Cuse into a football power.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated's football guy says the following:
Last week, the editors at Sports Illustrated sent me to Philadelphia to look into why McNabb was playing so poorly early in the season. The Eagles were 0-2, and McNabb had been brutal in those eight quarters, completing 45 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Last Thursday, in search of answers, I interviewed McNabb, coach Andy Reid, tight end Chad Lewis and center Hank Fraley. I interviewed the Bucs' Warren Sapp, who had opposed the Eagles in Week 1.
So, before flying to Buffalo for this past Sunday's game, I developed my theories. I thought McNabb was rushing his throws and was mechanically unsound, throwing off his back foot and from other faulty angles. I thought he had happy feet, maybe nervous happy feet because his protection was breaking down so quickly. I thought he was missing open receivers on at least a third of his incompletions and not taking time to see the whole field. I thought he wasn't running nearly enough for such a talented runner; he didn't leave the pocket against the carnivorous Bucs in week one through the first 31 minutes of the game. I thought his weapons were lacking, and that Reid was trying to make studs out of second- and third-receiver types.
I also thought McNabb was getting no help from his running game. And I thought, as I have thought (and said, and written) in the past, that McNabb was simply not accurate enough to be a truly great player; his career completion rate of 56.6 percent over four-plus years demonstrated that.
I was all set to put down my theories in writing at the Bills-Eagles Sunday in Buffalo. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the rip job. McNabb played well.
So it was clear that Limbaugh was talking out of his ass.
The sick thing is, this is exactly what ESPN had in mind when the all-sports network hired veteran provocateur Rush Limbaugh for its Sunday NFL pregame show. You can imagine the meeting. The ESPN bigwigs must have needed drool cups to handle the runoff when they discussed the controversy Limbaugh would generate.
Limbaugh's idea of commentary Sunday involved an absurd attack on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and on "the media" that have overrated him because "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There's interest in black quarterbacks and coaches doing well." McNabb, Limbaugh said, isn't "as good as everyone says he has been."
It is telling that Limbaugh pounced on a two-game slump by McNabb to advance his own pathetic agenda. It's a shame that Steve Young - who didn't become an effective NFL starter until he was plugged into the great San Francisco 49ers' offense in his eighth pro season - lent credence to Limbaugh's doggerel by suggesting that Koy Detmer would run the Eagles' offense better.
Fortunately for McNabb, his record speaks for itself.
But then, so does Limbaugh's. Unfortunately for ESPN, as long as he's on the air, Limbaugh's record speaks for the network, too.
His comments begger common sense. It's bad enough he lies about democrats for money. Now he slanders football players by talking out of his ass. Having seen McNabb win games, I'd like to know who should get the credit for Philly's wins? It ain't their receivers or O line. That's why I read the newspaper and watch the games instead. I certainly won't watch anything with that racist pig on it, especially if his football knowledge extends to saying McNabb doesn't deserve the credit he gets. I can talk out of my own ass about football and come closer to the mark.
OK, this is ludicrous. Even though the case which inspired this law, the murder of Richard Welch in Athens in 1975, was really leaked by the East German Stasi, the simple fact is that any link to the CIA could be potentially fatal. Daniel Pearl was murdered because he was a reporter. Can you imagine what Al Qaeda would do to Ms. Plame or anyone associated with her? I mean her relatives, her (non-covert) coworkers, her sources, former boyfriends? She's now exposed as an expert in WMD in one of AQ's main areas of operations. Anyone proveably connected to her could be a target. Let's make this very clear: anyone who worked with her could be tortured slowly and then murdered, regardless of their ties to the Agency. Any time she takes a trip overseas, she could be kidnapped, tortured slowly and murdered. If you get confused, just remember what happened to Pearl. He was a reporter and they killed him to make a point.
2) Joe Wilson is a political hack
He may be a democrat, but he's hardly a hack. One of his jobs was as the political advisor to EURCOM, the American component of NATO. He spent a lot of time on the ground in Bosnia. Before that, he was the last American diplomat in Iraq. He was an experienced Foreign Service Officer who held extremely sensitive jobs while US forces were in conflict. He's had very responsible jobs under three presidents. Even if he hated Bush, his politics do not reflect his judgement.
3) Its just politics
Sure, if fighting the war on terror is just politics. The CIA isn't screaming "you damaged our WMD efforts" but that is clearly what happened. It is a matter of national security. Not the bullshit kind which classifies millions of documents, but the real kind which tracks the sale of nuclear warheads. Ever see the movie The Peacemaker, well, it's based on a book about real events. The script takes it all the way, but the potential is real . That is what Ms Plame spent her time trying to prevent.
4) It was just nepotism
TBOGG is kind enough to have dug up Wilson's resume
Ambassador Wilson is CEO of JCWilson International Ventures, Corp., a firm specializing in Strategic Management and International Business Development.
Ambassador Wilson served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council from June 1997 until July 1998. In that capacity he was responsible for the coordination of U.S. policy to the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. He was one of the principal architects of President Clintonâ€™s historic trip to Africa in March 1998.
Ambassador Wilson was the Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of United States Armed Forces, Europe, 1995-1997. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Gabonese Republic and to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe from 1992 to 1995. From 1988 to 1991, Ambassador Wilson served in Baghdad, Iraq as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy. During â€œDesert Shieldâ€� he was the acting Ambassador and was responsible for the negotiations that resulted in the release of several hundred American hostages. He was the last official American to meet with Saddam Hussein before the launching of â€œDesert Storm.â€�
Ambassador Wilson was a member of the U.S. Diplomatic Service from 1976 until 1998. His early assignments included Niamey, Niger, 1976-1978; Lome, Togo, 1978-79; the State Department Bureau of African Affairs, 1979-1981; and Pretoria, South Africa, 1981-1982
Wilson is one of the few Americans who had expertise in both Iraq and Francophone Africa and spoke fluent French. He was one of the people ANY administration would have asked to do this. He was respected in the region and knew the players. His wife didn't have to vouch for him and certainly wasn't the only CIA officer who knew of Wilson's expertise. The DCM often works with the CIA station chief, because he's usually under cover as one of the DCM's deputies.
5) It will go away in a day or two
This is the final insult of nearly two decades of warfare between the PNAC crowd and the CIA. The Agency's defenders swear they are hopping, pissing mad over this. They want a resolution to this issue because they feel it places peoples lives in danger. The word treason isn't being tossed around lightly.People really feel that way about this issue.
According to Julian Borger, the Guardian's Washington reporter, reporters are privately, well, not so privately any more, saying Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media.
Well, all you have to do is check the phone logs and it's goodbye Karl. Well, it won't be that simple, since the next question is : what did the President know and when did he know it? Rove is his Stonewall Jackson. Bush is intensely loyal. Something will have to give and soon. Bush relies on Rove. Is it possible that he did this little deed and never told his boss and main client? Did he just think this was politics and oh, not treason.
If there was any justice in this world, Yousef Yee and Jose Padilla would have a roommate next week. Who will make the most hay of this? Howard Dean, pushing towards $15m this quarter? Wesley Clark? Bob Graham? This is turning into the Marianas Turkey Shoot of politics. The president's closest advisor, recklessly betrays a state secret for petty revenge. You could be drunk all the time and whipsaw Bush with this. Bush knows the truth. He wants to know what to do about it. Which is try to bury it.
Which isn't gonna happen.
For nearly 50 years, the CIA has been cast as international villian number 1. They were formenting coups, ordering assassinations, playing tango with the KGB. Even in the US, the CIA turned from hero to goat in a few short years. This is the first time in the Agency's history, where they have the moral high ground and widespread public support. In a war against a shadowy terrorist group, people want an effective CIA and one which can protect Americans. To do that, they must be protected and able to work in anonymity. Anything which undermines that will not play well.
If 9/11 changed anything, it is respect for the CIA. People want the Agency to work. Exposing a CIA officer's name, especially one who tracked WMD, is treason. That person is trying to prevent a nuclear attack, fear of which Bush used so skillfully to wage war against Iraq.
The CIA is not going to miss the chance to exploit this chance to play the victim. Hard working secret operative exposed by sleazy political hack for spite. The fact that they have the chance to get revenge on Team B's players, well, that's icing on the cake.
Of course, one could overplay their hand, but Bush's troubles are not diminishing.
The tribes were convinced that they had made a free and Arab Government, and that each of them was It," Lawrence wrote in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in 1926. "They were independent and would enjoy themselves a conviction and resolution which might have led to anarchy, if they had not made more stringent the family tie, and the bonds of kin-responsibility. But this entailed a negation of central power."
That dichotomy remains today, said Ihsan M. al-Hassan, a sociologist at the University of Baghdad. At the local level, the clan traditions provide more support and stability than Western institutions, he said, noting that the divorce rate among married cousins is only 2 percent in Iraq, versus 30 percent for other Iraqi couples. But the local ties create national complications.
"The traditional Iraqis who marry their cousins are very suspicious of outsiders," Dr. Hassan said. "In a modern state a citizen's allegiance is to the state, but theirs is to their clan and their tribe. If one person in your clan does something wrong, you favor him anyway, and you expect others to treat their relatives the same way."
The more educated and urbanized Iraqis have become, Dr. Hassan said, the more they are likely to marry outsiders and adopt Western values. But the clan traditions have hardly disappeared in the cities, as is evident by the just-married cousins who parade Thursday evenings into the Babylon Hotel in Baghdad. Surveys in Baghdad and other Arab cities in the past two decades have found that close to half of marriages are between first or second cousins.
The prevalence of cousin marriage did not get much attention before the war from Republicans in the United States who expected a quick, orderly transition to democracy in Iraq. But one writer who investigated the practice warned fellow conservatives to stop expecting postwar Iraq to resemble postwar Germany or Japan.
"The deep social structure of Iraq is the complete opposite of those two true nation-states, with their highly patriotic, cooperative, and (not surprisingly) outbred peoples," Steve Sailer wrote in The American Conservative magazine in January. "The Iraqis, in contrast, more closely resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys."
When people hear the word "tribe" or "sheikh", they instantly imagine, I"m sure, Bedouins on camels and scenes from Lawrence of Arabia. Many modern-day Sheikhs in Iraq have college degrees. Many have lived abroad and own property in London, Beirut and various other glamorous capitalsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ they ride around in Mercedes" and live in sprawling villas fully furnished with Victorian furniture, Persian carpets, oil paintings, and air conditioners. Some of them have British, German or American wives. A Sheikh is respected highly both by his clan members and by the members of other clans or tribes. He is usually considered the wisest or most influential member of the family. He is often also the wealthiest.
Sheikhs also have many duties. The modern Sheikh acts as a sort of family judge for the larger family disputes. He may have to give verdicts on anything from a land dispute to a marital spat. His word isn"t necessarily law, but any family member who decides to go against it is considered on his own, i.e. without the support and influence of the tribe. They are also responsible for the well-being of many of the poorer members of the tribe who come to them for help. We had relatively few orphans in orphanages in Iraq because the tribe takes in children without parents and they are often under the care of the sheikh"s direct family. The sheikh"s wife is sort of the "First Lady" of the family and has a lot of influence with family members.
Shortly after the occupation, Jay Garner began meeting with the prominent members of Iraqi society- businessmen, religious leaders, academicians and sheikhs. The sheikhs were important because each sheikh basically had influence over hundreds, if not thousands, of "family". The prominent sheikhs from all over Iraq were brought together in a huge conference of sorts. They sat gathered, staring at the representative of the occupation forces who, I think, was British and sat speaking in broken, awkward Arabic. He told the sheikhs that Garner and friends really needed their help to build a democratic Iraq. They were powerful, influential people- they could contribute a lot to society.
Some of them also wanted to contribute politically. They had influence, power and connectionsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ they wanted to be useful in some way. The representative frowned, fumbled and told them that there was no way he was going to promise a withdrawal of occupation forces. They would be in Iraq "as long as they were needed"Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ that might be two years, that might be five years and it might be ten years. There were going to be no promisesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ there certainly was no "timetable" and the sheikhs had no say in what was going on- they could simply consent.
The whole group, in a storm of indignation and helplessness, rose to leave the meeting. They left the representative looking frustrated and foolish, frowning at the diminishing mass in front of him. When asked to comment on how the meeting went, he smiled, waved a hand and replied, 'No comment.' When one of the prominent sheikhs was asked how the meeting went, he angrily said that it wasn"t a conference- they had gathered up the sheikhs to "give them orders" without a willingness to listen to the other side of the story or even to compromiseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ the representative thought he was talking to his own private army- not the pillars of tribal society in Iraq.
Apparently, the sheikhs were blacklisted because, of late, their houses are being targeted. They are raided in the middle of the night with armored cars, troops and helicopters. The sheikh and his immediate family members are pushed to the ground with a booted foot and held there at gunpoint. The house is searched and often looted and the sheikh and his sons are dragged off with hands behind their backs and bags covering their heads. The whole family is left outraged and incredulous: the most respected member of the tribe is being imprisoned for no particular reason except that they may need him for questioning. In many cases, the sheikh is returned a few days later with an "apology", only to be raided and detained once more!
I would think that publicly humiliating and detaining respected members of society like sheikhs and religious leaders would contribute more to throttling democracy than "cousins marrying cousins". Many of the attacks against the occupying forces are acts of revenge for assaulted family members, or people who were killed during raids, demonstrations or checkpoints. But the author fails to mention that, of course
You mean Iraqis aren't savages who live like it was 1850? Wow. I thought that only Americans, you know, could read and have social instutitions.
The condescention towards Iraqis, many of whom seem to be fairly well educated, is absolutely stunning. Just stunning. Little brown monkeys who need our guidance to become human beings seems to be the theme. When they videotape middle class Iraqi homes, they seem to look like anyone living in Dearborn or on Atlantic Avenue. They have computers and sattelite TV's and the women have modern haircuts and modern clothes and wear makeup and the men have suits and shirts and pants. They look no different than the Yemenis who run the local newsstand. But our racism and contempt for these people is simply amazing. The idea that we treat these people as if they're mindless children is insane and deadly.
For some reason, we like to abuse France. We think they should be eternally subservient like our German friends and do what we tell them. When they don't, we get all pissy about it.
But the reality was that France was right. They were right about the outcome of the war and the need to get the hell out of dodge. The French knew, since they actually dealt with Iraq, that it was a fragile house of cards and a distraction to the real war on terra. It wasn't some reflexsive anti-Americanism, but common sense. It's not about their oil deals either, although they wanted to protect them.
Look, French intelligence services have spied on the US and we routinely monitor their electronic communications. But then, we have CIA agents in the British government and the German government as well, as they do with us. Let's not assume some naive relationship here. One could bet Israel spends millions to spy on the US to protect their interests. Everyone spies on everyone. But when it comes down to it, the French have a need for a strong US and certainly does not want the bulk of US Army combat power tied up in irrelevant Iraq.
The radicals now running our government understand only two things: subjects and lackies. If you're not one. you're the other.
The US wants to hang about Iraq for years, writing a constitution and patronizing the Iraqis. Let's understand this: they will not tolerate it. The French know that one day, the Iraqis will kick the US out. They know the clock is running. And they are also revolted at the crony capitalism placed on the back of the Iraqis.
The US has repeatedly made it impossible to sell the war to other countries. How can the French President go to the National Assembly and say "let's support the Americans" when American commanders keep saying "our troops are too good for this". That pretty much says "we need cannon fodder". It makes support impossible. Then, toss on crony capitalism and you have the recipe for resentment and no help. South Korea isn't going to send a division because the riots would last for days. Muslim extremists have made it impossible for India or Pakistan to send troops.
In short, American politicians seem to think they are the only ones who have to run for election and that ain't the case. No other politician can expect to be reelected by sending troops to Iraq to defend Halliburton and Bechtel. I mean, Canadians won't touch this mission with a 10 foot pole. And if they won't and the Mexicans won't, why should any other country. Also, no one is going to forgive their debts either. No one will make this easier for us.
The Congress has to realize that we aren't going to get any help, or much money as long as Iraq serves as headquarters for a CPA which is totally isolated, crony capitalists who can't make anything work, and a US Army which kills indiscriminately. We can't "win" this war, as the pundits say. We don't even know what victory looks like. Bush assmued that Iraq was the first stop on his new crusade against the Mussulmen and well, it is turning out to be the last stop as well. It is time that Congress demand we start to leave Iraq and place the UN in charge.
The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn't weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies. But about the president he will believe anything. He believes Ted Kennedy when he says the Iraq war was a fraud cooked up in Texas to benefit the Republicans politically. It feels so delicious to believe it, and even if somewhere in his mind he knows it doesn't quite square with the evidence, it's important to believe it because the other side is vicious, so he must be too.
It's official: the administration that once scorned nation-building now says that it's engaged in a modern version of the Marshall Plan. But Iraq isn't postwar Europe, and George W. Bush definitely isn't Harry Truman. Indeed, while Truman led this country in what Churchill called the "most unsordid act in history," the stories about Iraqi reconstruction keep getting more sordid. And the sordidness isn't, as some would have you believe, a minor blemish on an otherwise noble enterprise.
Cronyism is an important factor in our Iraqi debacle. It's not just that reconstruction is much more expensive than it should be. The really important thing is that cronyism is warping policy: by treating contracts as prizes to be handed to their friends, administration officials are delaying Iraq's recovery, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Meanwhile, several companies with close personal ties to top administration officials have begun brazenly offering their services as facilitators for companies seeking Iraqi business. The former law firm of Douglas Feith, the Pentagon under secretary who oversees Iraq reconstruction, has hung out its shingle. So has another company headed by Joe Allbaugh, who ran the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and ran FEMA until a few months ago. And a third entrant is run by Ahmad Chalabi's nephew.
There's a moral here: optimists who expect the administration to get its Iraq policy on track are kidding themselves. Think about it: the cost of the occupation is exploding, and military experts warn that our army is dangerously overcommitted. Yet officials are still allowing Iraqi reconstruction to languish, and the disaffection of the Iraqi public to grow, while they steer choice contracts to their friends. What makes you think they will ever change their ways?
Who's an idiot talking out of his ass and who's telling the truth-you make the call
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Battle for control of agenda in face of party hierarchy leads to labyrinthine series of manoeuvres
Kevin Maguire and Patrick Wintour
Tuesday September 30, 2003
Labour's hierarchy was forced to backtrack last night after a revolt by union leaders and anti-war constituency delegates over the decision not to allow a vote on the Iraq war threatened to derail the conference.
The row is part of a wider struggle to control the conference agenda which has pitted the increasingly determined and united four big unions against the party leadership.
The unresolved struggle has been going on behind the scenes for months, but over the past few days has been raging off the conference floor as left and right challenge one another over the correct interpretation of the conference's little understood, and ill defined rules.
In order to fend off criticism that Iraq has been sidelined at this year's conference party leaders have to reconsider the controversial decision not to hold a vote on the issue, with an announcement tomorrow. Party officials are desperate to avert both a humiliating defeat for Tony Blair and the embarrassment of widespread protests in Bournemouth.
On Sunday night party officials had been privately delighted when the constituencies did not put their full weight behind an Iraq vote. Under the party's arcane rules, only four contemporary resolutions are allowed to be debated each year. This year the big four unions had made a pact to support one another's priority issue, and with the unions enjoying half the conference vote, their exclusively domestic agenda was bound to win through.
The unions' unusually co-ordinated tactics are putting the Labour leadership on the back foot all week. In an effort to avoid suffering very public defeats, the party executive yesterday morning took the unusual step of supporting resolutions critical of the government on rights at work and manufacturing. The GMB general union is likely to inflict a visible defeat on Thursday over pensions, demanding compulsory contributions by employers into staff schemes. The union simply walked out of a CAC meeting when loyalists attempted to group it with a motion that was ambiguous about the need to make employer contributions compulsory.
Blair's goal this week is to avoid humiliation. The Unions, who actually fund the posh suit wearers of New Labour, are pissed. They want a vote on the war in Iraq and well, we all know how that ends. The Labour leadership is desperate to avoid the hours of slanging and whinging which will come with any such debate. The other reason is that such a debate could set the stage for a leadership challenge. The war isn't getting any better, and Blair is getting more dogmatic as half of all Britions want him gone.
If they don't debate Iraq, there will certainly be large scale protests. If they do, they will clearly condemn the war. They wanted to avoid the whole thing, like avoiding a crazed drunk. But like a crazy drunk, it is impossible to ignore. It's lose-lose.
Labour is starting to look at Bliar, as they now call him in protests, and see electoral defeat looming ahead. While Smiler marches along, allowing no deviation in the plan, the US erupts in scandal over the exposure of a CIA officer. This can't help Blair with the Labour left or the Unions. Another loss in a by-election and all hell could break loose.
OK, since this is Valerie Plame day in Blogistan, a woman none of us who don't know the Wilson's personally would ever recognize, here's a larger question: when will the Bushies stop betraying those who serve this country?
The wingnuts are trying to argue that "Oh, Plame was an analyst, revealing her name was no big deal". Oh really? Considering that she did travel overseas, under a legend, this is bullshit. It places everything and everyone she touched in danger. besides being a crime, it places entire operations at risk. Innocent people as well as US assets.
But the Bushies don't stop there. As Joe Galloway has reported, the Army is near the breaking point, filled with poilitical appointees rung through the gauntlet , deploying National Guard brigades for over a year, with the resulting loss of soldiers who retire or leave the service, disgusted with the interruption of their lives and loss of their business.
American troops live in filth, lacking bottled water, body armor and weapons while Halliburton makes millions, a scandal unseen since the Spanish-American war. They have no idea when they're supposed to come home, if they'll make it home in one piece, and if their sacrifice will be worth it.
As soldiers sit and stew in the desert, their combat pay, veterans benefits are cut while they have to pay for their hospital food. Nothing better than a private with half a leg being presented with a bill for a few hundred dollars for his food when he can barely feed his family as is. Then there are the planned cut to veterans benefits as well.
Then there are the darker rumors, the attack on the Syrian border which may be less accidental than one thinks, the random detentions of "embarassing" Iraqi prisoners.
At every point, with a zeal only the Red Guards managed to muster, the Bushies rewrite history and make it so perfectly clear that all they care about is what is best for them. Not the country, not those who defend it. All that matters is their theories of empire. America imperialis is what they care about. The sea of dead and wounded around them, of shattered lives and broken dreams do not count for them. Just the glory of war.
So they ruin a CIA officer's life for petty revenge. So they cut benefits for veterans. Douglas Feith and Scooter Libby, along with the rest of the PNAC crew, probably believe they are great men with great ideas. They won't be sitting around any hotels in Baku waiting for a source or humping a '16 through a neighborhood where people stare at them with daggers in their eyes. They're too good for that kind of thing. They were meant for greater things. The actual sacrifice of empire, the kind that fills Ward 57 at Bethesda and that wall at Langley, is beneath them.
Whatever these people believe, what ever they think, they don't believe in America. Not the one 140,000 people are serving in Iraq. They have a vision of the world which only they signed up for.
The sad part, the truly sad part, is that there are people who think these folks are patriots. Who buy Bush's and Cheney's act. And that's all it is. They care more about the bottom line of Halliburton than the people of the United States. And their plan to remake the world, no matter what else it costs. No matter who else pays for it.
OK, the CIA has several branches, but the two relevant ones are the Directorate of Operations (DO) and the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).
DO is the smaller of the two and they run around leading guerrilla armies, blowing things up, actually running and contacting agents. DI analyzes the data DO collects as well as from other sources and then they guess what the enemy may or may not do. Operative
implies that the person goes in the field and handles agents on a regular basis. An analyst usually does not.
Where does Valerie Plame fit in?
My best guess is that her role was less to cultivate agents than to analyze what the situation was in her area. To do that, she would have to travel to the region undercover. It is unlikely she recruited agents, acting instead as a contact person. The CIA station chief would, more than likely, use her as sounding board. Whenever the conversation was too technical for the local crew, she'd go to make an assessment. After all, 10 years in Special Forces doesn't really train you to know which general controls which depot of chemical weapons.
So using her cover as an oil executive, she could travel the region, meet with people, bribe them and make her assessments without drawing undo attention. But I doubt if she was a fulltime DO officer, that her name would have popped up, ever. Her sources were more than likely oil ministry officials who she bribed to mention any AQ contacts, little different than a reporter would do, except for the bribery. But the fact that she was exposed as a CIA officer means anyone who dealt with her is in trouble. There will be a lot of melodramatic talk of operations and agents, but in reality, she had contacts, and if they heard anything of use, they got back to her by e-mail or to the station chief. It would be impossible to run a network of spies and two small kids from thousands of miles away. But she was no minor functionary.
Because she was doing analytical work, her name would have come up repeatedly when talk of the Stans (central Asia) came up. When Cheney started to lean on the Agency for data to confirm Saddam had an AQ alliance, anyone who covered central Asia would have been in the mix. Considering that the agency had not come up with the right answers, someone had a grudge.
The difference isn't critical, because the Agency did develop a legend, or cover story, for her. But considering she became pregnant with twins in the last three years, and lived in Washington, it wasn't like she was in the field. However, she wasn't tied to the Agency so she could work in the industry and gather intel without the stars and stripes waving over her head.
Words and titles are about to become very important as people figure out which one of Cheney's goons ratted her out. You could see the sweat rolling off Bob Novak's chin today.
Everyone in the great leak guessing game has been attributing this to mere spitework, but I think there may be more to it. Assuming that the leak came from the VP's office, and that is a reasonable assumption, there was more than just an attempt to embarass an former Democratic State Department official who was no fan of Bush.
It's well known that the people around Rummy and Cheney were called Team B before they became PNAC. They had fought the CIA for years with their ridiculous assessments of Soviet strength. They assumed the Russians were much stronger and more devious than they had been in the past.
Which is how the whole Office of Special Plans fiasco took place at DOD. The Team B crew took their pet theories and set up shop, despite the objections of the service chiefs and the intelligence agencies.
The problem OSD had was it wasn't getting the data it wanted from CIA and the rest of the alphabet soup. It was getting the truth. At some point there had to be people who were a road block to their dreams of Saddam, nuclear warrior, being proved. There are only a few experts of WMD spread across Energy, DIA, NSA and the CIA. NSA kept their heads down, DIA got out of the way, but CIA stood there to be subject to Team B's abuse.
There are only a few people within the Agency who knew the subject well. My impression was that Plame, while officially an NOC, was well known to the SVR and FIS as the CIA WMD person who worked in the 'Stans. They passed this info on to their CIS client states as needed. So when the debates started about Al Qaeda getting weapons, Plame was the person who kept saying not only that it wasn't happening, but it wasn't likely to happen. Also, there was zero evidence from her sources Saddam could pass such weapons if he wanted to. She'd come back from a business trip, do a brief at Langley and say "it's not happening" Cheney's people sit in occasionally and like neither her tone nor conclusions. Despite the myth, there are plenty of NPR-listening liberals at CIA.
They press and press and her answers never change. It's not happening.
So they finally decide to ignore her, and go about with their lies. She writes a report calling them off-base and goes off to raise her twins. Months later, she's now riding a desk, and doing her job, and someone asks for someone to check this yellowcake thing. She says her husband used to cover the region for the NSC. They check on him, he's got sterling references from EUCOM and is seen as military-friendly. They send him to Niger, he concludes there's nothing to the story.
More months pass. Wilson comes out, saying that the uranium story was crap. The people in the VP's office then put two and two together. Not only is Wilson messing with them, but that bitch Plame is his wife. Let's get them both.
So I think it's not only to teach other people a lesson, but some payback for her honest conclusions.
Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight.
Be careful who you associate with. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo. In my new book Who's Looking Out for You, which I'll tell you about tomorrow, I describe how knowing what kind of people you are hanging around with is a key to life.
If you choose destructive people, you'll get hurt. If you choose generous people, you will benefit. It's pretty simple. What isn't simple is figuring out the good from the bad. But in some cases, it's obvious. This weekend, [Democratic] Presidential Candidate Howard Dean (search) held a fund-raiser here in New York City. The entertainment was provided by a man who is, well, let's let his words speak for themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL FRANKEN, COMEDIAN: ...of how big an [bleep] Brit Hume is. And how shameless, how [bleep] shameless these people are. These people are so [bleep] shameless. They are shameless.
And I don't just say this because the FOX [News] people sued me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: Now I don't know Howard Dean, but I do know more about him after witnessing that disgraceful display and the attack on [FOX News anchor] Brit Hume. Can you imagine any other presidential contender, any other one, feeling comfortable with that kind of presentation? I mean, aren't our leaders supposed to have some dignity?
Dr. Dean should be ashamed of himself, simply for allowing an emotionally disturbed person to vent that kind of hatred under Dean's banner. And by the way, DNC [Democratic National Committee] chief Terry McAuliffe is also guilty as well.
Defamation and smear tactics are not part of mainstream America. They are the work of extremists, people who hate people with whom they disagree. Fair-minded Americans respect honest differences in the political arena. Most of the Democratic candidates are honorable. But increasingly, the Democratic party is being hijacked by far left elements, who routinely embrace vile, undemocratic tactics.
Maybe Howard Dean simply made a mistake. Maybe he isn't a person who approves of what we just showed you. But maybe again he is.
And that's The Memo
Gearing up for a libel/slander suit, whiny little bitch? Unless you can prove Franken is mentally ill, you might wind up in a court behind that statement. Libel, an untruth told to cause harm? You do have motive, Bill. It could get ugly. Better to ignore him.
Brit Hume has integrity?
why exactly did Sandy Hume kill himself? Was it a rumored homosexual affair with a former Congressman? Never has given a straight answer to that. If Al Franken wanted to be mean, THAT is what he would have mentioned.
O'Reilly is the biggest kind of whiny bitch. Franken embarassed him by telling the truth and now he whines like a cheerleader losing her boyfriend to the head of the science club. For him to whine about this, in the same week the Washington bureau printed Tucker Carlson's home number, terrorizing his young family, who is he kidding? Fox swims in the gutter with the rats.
Honest differences? Tell that to Joe Wilson and his wife. I bet her contacts in the 'Stans feel the same way as the secret police round them up for a chat. Ask Hans Blix, the Shinseki family, or Scott Ritter, or Larry Lindsay, who suffered from being honest and fat. let Bush Adminsitration took an honest difference with Max Clelland and made him look like a draft dodging pinko. They denigrated his service and sacrifice for a laugh. The Dear Leader and his friends at Fox slander, insult and malign. Let us not forget the Wellstones in this either.
Of course, there is the classic whiny little bitch rant when he threatened to punch an anti-war protester who's father was killed on 9/11.
O'Reilly is a coward and a liar and works for pond scum. But you already knew that. My fondest wish is that he finally has that long overdue conversation with Ludacris and friends over that Pepsi deal his ranting cost him. See how big his mouth is with people who have no fear of throwing a punch or two. You think he whines like a little bitch now?
Postwar Tremors Deepen Fissures in Iraqi Society
Religious, Ethnic Tensions Rise After Hussein's Fall
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, September 29, 2003; Page A01
HAIFA, Iraq -- The Kurds who descended upon this hardscrabble Arab village in northern Iraq 11 days ago were so confident they would be able to evict everyone and seize the surrounding farmland, they brought along three tractors.
But instead of responding by fleeing, as thousands of other Arab villagers in northern Iraq have done when confronted with similar Kurdish demands, the residents of Haifa refused to budge. "Our people went to them and said, 'What the hell are you doing here? This area doesn't belong to you,' " recalled Kadhim Hani Jubbouri, the village sheik.
Words were exchanged. Threats were hurled. When the Kurds began tilling a field lined with golden flecks of harvested hay, gunfire erupted.
Arabs contend the Kurds shot first. Kurds maintain it was the Arabs who opened fire. Both agree, however, that the 15-minute firefight was one of the clearest signs of the growing fissures between Iraq's two dominant ethnic groups -- its Arab majority and its Kurdish minority -- since the fall of former president Saddam Hussein's government.
At the same time, in central and southern Iraq, fault lines also have widened between the country's two principal religious communities: Shiite Muslims, who are a majority of the country's approximately 24 million people, and Sunni Muslims, Iraq's traditional rulers and Hussein's principal supporters.
Although a rift between Sunnis and Shiites is relentlessly discouraged by leaders of both communities, tensions have escalated in recent weeks, raising new prospects of strife. Small bombs have been planted at a handful of mosques in Baghdad. In Khaldiya, a Sunni-dominated town west of Baghdad, unknown assailants ransacked the green-domed shrine of a Shiite saint and set off an explosive last month that damaged his brick tomb. In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, some residents suspect that recent killings of former Baath Party members are inspired by religious zeal, and leaders of Shiite religious parties openly argue that vengeance is warranted against officials of a government that subjugated Shiites, particularly in its last decade of rule.
"Relations in our country have become very tense," said Anwar Assi Hussein Obeidi, a Sunni Arab who is a leader of the Obeidi tribe, one of Iraq's largest. "If the Americans don't resolve these problems soon, the people will start killing each other."
In the North, Whose Land?
The problem in Haifa is all about land.
Hassan Abid, a farmer with a weathered face and gray-streaked hair, said he moved to Haifa in 1974 along with dozens of other Shiite Arabs fleeing a drought in Diwaniyah, their ancestral home in southern Iraq.
"It was a wonderful new home," he said as walked through Haifa, a village of mud-brick homes and dirt streets 20 miles northwest of Kirkuk, a city in northeastern Iraq known for its oil fields.
To Kurds, however, the steppe around Kirkuk is Kurdish territory. Tens of thousands of Kurds had lived in the area until Hussein's government, in a campaign against a group he deemed subversive, pushed many of them out and resettled the area with Arabs.
But Abid contends Haifa was open land until the Arabs arrived. "There was nobody here before us," he said. "We did not displace the Kurds."
He noted that the Arabs of Haifa arrived in 1974, before Hussein's forced relocations began. And, he said, the villagers are Shiites, while those moved under the Hussein government were typically Sunnis.
"There should be no dispute here," he said.
So what did Rummy think was going to happen. All Iraqis would sit around singing Kumbaya? Not very likely.
In making the case for war against Iraq, Vice President Cheney has continued to suggest that an Iraqi intelligence agent met with a Sept. 11, 2001, hijacker five months before the attacks, even as the story was falling apart under scrutiny by the FBI, CIA and the foreign government that first made the allegation.
The alleged meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani was the single thread the administration has pointed to that might tie Iraq to the attacks. But as the Czech government distanced itself from its initial assertion and American investigators determined Atta was probably in the United States at the time of the meeting, other administration officials dropped the incident from their public statements about Iraq.
Not Cheney, who was the administration's most vociferous advocate for going to war with Iraq. He brought up the connection between Atta and al-Ani again two weeks ago in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" in which he also suggested links between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.
heney's staff also waged a campaign to include the allegation in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's speech to the United Nations in February in which he made the administration's case for war against Iraq. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, pressed Powell's speechwriters to include the Atta claim and other suspected links between Iraq and terrorism, according to senior and mid-level administration officials involved in crafting the speech.
When State Department and CIA officials complained about Libby's proposed language and suggested cutting large sections, Cheney's associates fought back. "Every piece offered . . . they fought tooth and nail to keep it in," said one official involved in putting together the speech.
Cheney's office declined to comment. Mary Matalin, a former senior aide to Cheney who still provides the vice president with advice, said Cheney's job is to focus on "the big picture." His appearance on "Meet the Press" on Sept. 14, she said, was intended to "remind people that Iraq is part of a bigger war that will require patience and sacrifice."
Cheney does not fully vet his speeches or public statements with the CIA or the wider intelligence community for accuracy, according to several administration officials, but usually gives the CIA a list of possible points or facts that might be used in a speech or appearance.
Matalin said Cheney "doesn't base his opinion on one piece of data," but has access to information that cannot be declassified because it would harm national security or compromise sources. "His job is to connect the dots in a way to prevent the worst possible case from happening," she said, but in public "he has to tiptoe through landmines of what's sayable and not sayable."-/
Wow. He still keeps at it. What is he, crazy?
Of the serious British papers, the Guardian has always cut Tony Blair some slack on the war. No longer
.... some of the other things that Mr Blair said yesterday are hard to forgive or forget. To say that opponents of the war believed that "Saddam was a reasonably benign influence" is an unworthy insinuation. To imply that his critics take the view that "look, why bother, al-Qaida, it's all a long way away" is equally a morally and politically disgraceful charge. There may be a small minority of people who opposed the war who are apologists for Saddam. Some of them may also think that we do not need to worry about terrorism. None of this, though, applies to the overwhelming majority of opponents of the Iraq war, and certainly does not apply in any way to this newspaper. Saddam was a tyrant. Al-Qaida is a threat. There was, and is, no case for looking in the other direction about either of them. But there was - and could still have been if Mr Blair had not buckled - an aggressive, multilateral alternative to going to war alongside the unilateralist Bush regime. That way lay through continued inspections, setting targets and deadlines, and keeping nations, regions and cultures together in the task of internationally based enforcement - armed enforcement if necessary.
Blair cannot admit the obvious-the war was wrong and we are losing it. Instead, he insults the intelligence of everyone in earshot with this denial. While evicting Saddam was a public service, with no resistance to take his place, and Chalabi is a crook and little more, turing Iraq into Mad Max land was not. A society without order is not a society. Nor could we remake Iraq, of all places, to serve our needs.
Saddam was a threat to the region. Al Qaeda is an enemy to civilization. But turning Iraq into a satrapy is no solution. There was a picture of American troops teaching Iraqi kids football. American football. Which encapsulates everything wrong with our occupation policy. Iraqi kids know Ronaldo, David Beckham, Romuldo and Michael Owen. Many, many Iraqis, who have ties to the UK, follow Chelsea and Liverpool and ManU with the dedication we follow the Mets or the Red Sox. I saw a picture of Iraqi kids in Juventus jerseys playing in the street. American football is a foreign in Iraq as pulled pork bbq. Teaching Iraqi kids football will not make them love us. They will play along and then go back to dreaming of playing in the World Cup.
It is amazing. Americans in Iraq must live in a fantasy world. No Iraqi kid is thinking of being the next Wayne Chrebet or Keyshawn Johnson. They want to be the next Beckham or Zindane. Unfortunately, Mr. Blair must be sharing that world.
A three-day orgy allegedly held at a Chinese luxury hotel for hundreds of male Japanese tourists has provoked outrage after reports of the lurid goings-on were published in China's state media.
The 400 or so men, aged between 16 and 37, flew into Zhuhai city in southern Guangdong province expressly for sex at the five-star hotel, according to the media reports.
On one of the nights the men are said to have had nearly 500 girls brought to serve them.
The incident, at a time when Chinese resentment against Japan is already very high, has prompted thousands of angry messages to be posted on the internet by Chinese users.
Many see it as a deliberate attempt to humiliate Chinese pride because it took place on the anniversary of Japan's occupation of north-east China.
The authorities have shut down the hotel where the party was reportedly held - the Zhuhai International Convention Center Hotel - and a police investigation has begun.
I'm surprised that the the hotel is still standing. This harks back to the absolute worse Japanese practices of whoremongering and kidnapping of Asian women for sex slaves. This is a reminder of the worst of the wartime criminal acts. The Japanese like their sex tours, but this, this was very stupid.
In the most ideologically driven occupation since Zhukov and Koniev raged across Silesia and Prussia in 1945, Rummy
and his boys have imposed their rule on Iraq. Not as efficiently as Beria and the NKVD, but just as steeped in ideology.
Newsweek has the gory details:
LAST FEBRUARY, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner was trying to put together a team of experts to rebuild Iraq after the war was over, and his list included 20 State Department officials. The day before he was supposed to leave for the region, Garner got a call from nse Donald Rumsfeld, who ordered him to cut 16 of the 20 State officials from his roster. It seems that the State Department people were -Arabist apologists, or squishy about the United Nations, or in some way politically incorrect to the right-wing ideologues at the White House or the neocons in the office of the Secretary of Defense. The vetting process "got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion," recalled one of Garner's team
On May 16, five days after he arrived in Baghdad, Bremer assembled the top American officials in Baghdad and announced that all ministries would be "de-Baath-ized" by removing roughly the top six layers of bureaucracy. The CIA's Baghdad station chief said. "We'll,that's 30,000 to 50,000 pissed-off Baathists you're driving underground," said the senior spook. Bremer went on: the Army would be formally disbanded and not paid. "That's another 350,000 Iraqis you're sing off, and they've got guns," said CIA man. Said Bremer: "Those are my instructions."
In an interview with NEWSWEEK last week, Bremer maintained that "the de-Baathification decree is the single most popular thing I've done since I've been in Iraq." But it was widely recognized, even by Bremer, that not paying the soldiers was a mistake. Bremer quickly changed course and began cash handouts while trying to reconstitute the Iraqi Army and police. But the damage was done. Particularly in old Baathist strongholds around Baghdad and Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, guerrillas have been killing American soldiers in ambushes with rocket-propelled grenades and crude but effective homemade explosives.
In time, the Americans will probably crush or at least contain the last of the Baathist holdouts. Using cash incentives, American Special Forces have located and flushed out many of the Baathist hide-holes and safe houses. Religious terrorists are another matter. Intelligence officials believe that Islamic jihadists are gaining strength in Iraq, operating out of mosques and communicating in ways that cannot be traced by electronic eavesdropping devices.
On the ground, the Coalition Provisional Authority, charged with actually running Iraq until the Iraqis can take over, is the source of increasing ridicule. "CPA stands for the Condescending and Patronizing Americans," a Baghdad diplomat told a NEWSWEEK reporter. "So there they are, sitting in their palace: 800 people, 17 of whom speak Arabic, one is an expert on Iraq. Living in this cocoon. Writing papers. It's absurd," says one dissident Pentagon official. He exaggerates, but not by much. Most of the senior civilian staff are not technical experts but diplomats, Republican appointees, White House staffers and the like
Stunning right? Not exactly. Iraq was to be their lab for their new crusade. So everyone had to be part of the team and they wonder why no one will send soldiers to be used as cannon fodder. We dont do peacekeeping. Yeesh. What idiocy. No, you just die daily.
Leaking Joe Wilson's wife name to columnist Robert Novak in July is about to explode on the doorstep of the Bush White House.
Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers' allegation was that Wilson had benefited from nepotism because the Niger mission had been his wife's idea. Wilson said in an interview yesterday that a reporter had told him that the leaker said, "The real issue is Wilson and his wife."
The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists. The official said he had no indication that Bush knew about the calls. Columnist Robert Novak published the agent's name in a July column about Wilson's mission.
It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."
Wilson, while refusing to confirm his wife's occupation, has suggested publicly that he believes Bush's senior adviser, Karl C. Rove, broke her cover. He said Aug. 21 at a public forum in Seattle that it is of keen interest to him "to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."
Besides just being stupid, and a crime, it indicates a White House so enraptured with ideological loyalty it would do anything to get those who opposed them.
But this is not their biggest problem. Another WaPo story hangs over the White House:
House Probers Conclude Iraq War Data Was Weak
By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 28, 2003; Page A01
Leaders of the House intelligence committee have criticized the U.S. intelligence community for using largely outdated, "circumstantial" and "fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.
Top members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which spent four months combing through 19 volumes of classified material used by the Bush administration to make its case for the war on Iraq, found "significant deficiencies" in the community's ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq, and said it had to rely on "past assessments" dating to when U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998 and on "some new 'piecemeal' intelligence," both of which "were not challenged as a routine matter."
"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist," the two committee members said in a letter Thursday to CIA Director George J. Tenet. The Washington Post obtained a copy this weekend.
The letter constitutes a significant criticism of the U.S. intelligence community from a source that does not take such matters lightly. The committee, like all congressional panels, is controlled by Republicans, and its chairman, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), is a former CIA agent and a longtime supporter of Tenet and the intelligence agencies. Goss and the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), signed the letter. Neither was available for comment yesterday. The full committee has not voted on the letter's conclusions.
This is going to be used in the debate over the $87B like a sledgehammer. However, the first place this will be used is not in Congress, but the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth this week. Blair won't be able to hold off the anti-war people once this hits the UK papers.
While the Wilson case may be more sexy, this is devestating. Blair, even more than Bush, relied on the intelligence to serve as the cause for war. Now, to have Congress, especially the GOP controlled House, claim the intelligence was faulty....it certainly won't help Blair when Glenda Jackson is waving that letter around and yelling about betrayal.
But you have to connect the dots.
These stories indicate that the intel picture was cooked by ideologues who would go to any lengths, and exposing a NOC CIA agent is any lengths, to distort the intel on Iraq to wage their war. They would not only exagurate any claims, they would seek to ruin anyone who opposed them.
Their claim that Joe Wilson would go to Niger because his wife pressed him to go, a trip to a remote African country which he covered his expenses and took him away from his toddlers, is ridiculous beyond belief. My feeling is that while Rove may have been involved, the other suspect works for Dick Cheney, home of a cabal of CIA hating loons. I would look hard at Scooter Libby, a prime PNAC member, and other Cheney people. If someone had a grudge against the Agency in the White House, it was in the VP's office. Because only someone with a deep grudge would do something so spiteful and short sighted and lacking in real-world common sense. No one besides the extremely curious vacation in Niger. Wilson was a senior and respected diplomat with serious ties to the military. He was not a glory seeking assclown like Max Boot.
Now, the idea is that the Bush Administration had violated so many rules on intel its no surprise that their house of cards is collapsing around them.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 27 — Three projectiles penetrated the concrete and barbed-wire cocoon of security around the main compound for Americans in downtown Baghdad today, hitting the 14th floor of the Rashid Hotel inside the compound but causing little damage and no injuries.
"It woke us up with a bang, but there was really no further impact than that," said Charles Heatley, a spokesman for the American-led governing authority.
But after several weeks of high-profile attacks and beefed-up security around Baghdad, the strike seemed a message that Americans would be a target no matter how much they sought to protect themselves. This was not news to at least one United States soldier in the compound, which is sealed off from the rest of Baghdad with a huge concrete wall and heaps of concrete and barbed wire.
"I've never felt safe here," the soldier said
How could he feel safe? There is no reason to feel safe. The Iraqis are now moving from mortars to rockets. Which is a very bad thing. They fired seven from one location as a test run, what happens when they fire 50 from multiple locations.? Huh?
The Iraqis know where the Al-Rashid is, and with all those uneployed artillery officers around, some of whom had been fanatasizing about doing the same to Saddam, they've had plenty of time to train and plan. Support for the resistance is growing, time is running out and they're growing more proficient each day.
There are few people I hate more in politics than the sleazy, trick baby having, foot sucking Dick Morris. His racially tinted advice has infected American politics for far too long. Morris, who passed the sleaziest rumors about the Clintons was undone when his hooker girlfriend got pregnant. Ever since then, he's been tossing this bullshit about.
An open letter to Karl Rove
Senior Adviser to the President
for Strategic Initiatives
The White House
As you know, I have been doing my best to support President George Bush in the wake of Sept. 11. I felt — and feel — that it is our patriotic duty to do all we can to help him as we confront the threat of international terror.
Now, as the president’s ratings approach rock bottom (you hope), it’s time for me to write to you directly, if publicly, with advice on how to resurrect this dying presidency.
Dying? When Newsweek has you at the exact share of the vote you actually got against Gore in 2000 (48 percent — the word dying is appropriate.
Yes, footsucker, you are correct.
1. Confront Iran We confront a deadly threat, as you know, in the determination of the theocratic jingoists in Teheran to acquire nuclear weapons. Don’t worry about being the kid who cried “wolf” too often. Explain candidly and aggressively the danger we face from Iran and rally the public to counter the new threat.
Specifically, invoke the D’Amato Amendment and impose sanctions on European, Asian and Russian companies that invest in helping that criminal regime develop the oil and gas reserves that it uses to subsidize terrorism worldwide.
It is only by appropriately raising the perceived importance of the terrorism issue back to its old heights that Bush can keep control of the political situation at home and abroad. This is not adopting a bad foreign policy for domestic political advantage. It is adopting a good one that has the same end.
This is a GREAT idea. Wonderful idea. So when they arm the Sadrists and send advisors, what do we do then? By the time our patrols were being ambushed it would be too late. Just fucking brilliant. The fact that Bush has no credibility and not even Congress would support widening the war is irrelevant, oh great footsucking genius.
2. Restrict The Mission in Iraq Isolationism has always been the hidden force in American politics. Never really defeated in an election, it lingers in both the Democratic and Republican political bases. The casualties and cost of the ongoing occupation of Iraq are tapping into this potent political force (which I once quantified through polling as 35 percent of the electorate.) These voters put aside their isolationism to back the war in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the danger illustrated by Sept. 11. But they are not about to support what Bush once called “social work” in the guise of what he now calls “nation building.”
We should place No. 1 priority on the safety of our troops in Iraq. If we have to keep them on the base and out of the streets, so be it. The first priority has to be to stop the bleeding, whatever the cost to Iraqi reconstruction. Americans don’t care if the electricity is on in Baghdad, just preserve the lives of our sons and daughters.
Correct again footsucker. The only problem is that it won't stop the war. Pulling them out of the streets means they're even easier targets. The risk of civil war would grow exponentially because the pace and scale of violence would grow.
3. Pass Prescription Drug Benefits The economy is not that important to Bush’s fate. Unlike in 1992, voters understand that there is not much a president can do to impact it. Voters also understand that it is Osama bin Laden, not Bush, who caused the last recession. But health care prices, now that the smoke of terrorism appears — incorrectly — to be clearing, are a very important element in the strength of the Democrats. Just as I told Clinton he was unlikely to win if he didn’t pass welfare reform, I think that Bush has to pass prescription drug benefits for the elderly. None of the GOP objections to the bill should stand in the way of its passage.
For those who say the bill goes too far, I would give the same answer we gave Democrats in 1996 who felt the same about welfare cuts — pass it now and fix it later.
Please, Unca Karl, if you read this, follow this advice. Yes, Americans do not care about THREE YEARS OF NO WORK. Totally irrelevant. Prescription drug benefits are exactly what is needed. The tax cuts, the refusal to aid states, yeah. They don't know, they don't care/
4. Back Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars Bush needs a major domestic theme to deal with high gasoline prices and with our dependence on terrorist oil. His efforts for more energy production ring hollow with Americans. But by galvanizing Americans around hydrogen fuel cell cars and retrofitting American gas stations to carry hydrogen, he offers a practical way to counter the financial power of terrorism. Just as he seized American imaginations with his commitment to research in his State of the Union Address, he should now move to implementation to regain his hold on the issue.
I don’t work there anymore, but perhaps these ideas might help a very successful president who has provided the leadership we need get reelected.
Yes. Of course. Hydrogen cars. Yes, that will do the trick. Why didn't I think of it.
AUSTRALIA'S stranded shipload of sheep will be unloaded and given away in Iraq today or tomorrow unless the Federal Government can find a last-minute buyer.
Sydney exporter Mark Coulton has broken through the diplomatic impasse by negotiating with the US military and Iraqi traders to unload the sheep in the southern Iraqi port of Basra and distribute them free.
The contract details how the sheep will be given to Mr Coulton either late yesterday, Iraqi time, or today. Mr Coulton will in turn give them free to Iraqi tribal leaders - to who he normally sells cigarettes.
Hey, you like sheep, we have sheep. Just because they've been dying like slaves crossing the Atlantic, we think Iraqis will love these diseased, infected sheep.
Am I confused or do Iraqis have TV's. If they do, why would they want sheep everyone in the middle east know are diseased. The mind boggling insult here is amazing. Silly hajis, they'll take anything, seems to be the idea. Just another idea which will blow up in our faces.
Florida's state pension fund is investing $174-million in a controversial for-profit school management company.
Through one of its money managers, Liberty Partners, the pension fund has agreed to buy out the shareholders of Edison Schools Inc., taking the New York company private.
In effect, the fund that provides for the retirement pensions of Florida teachers and other public employees will own a company that has played a leading role in privatizing school management.
Edison is the largest private manager of public schools. The company says more than 80,000 students attend the 150 schools it operates in 23 states, including Florida, under management contracts. It reports improving academic performance at its schools.
Investors who bought Edison stock lost millions of dollars. The company only recently reported the first quarterly profit in its 10-year history, primarily the result of a property sale. The company's stock, which peaked at $36.75 a share in 2001, fell to as low as 15 cents last year. It closed Wednesday at $1.70. Numerous shareholder lawsuits are pending.
Critics say the poor results counter Edison's premise that it can operate public schools more efficiently and effectively than school boards can.
This is just amazing. Let me refresh your memory about this company:
Days before classes were to begin in September, trucks arrived to take away most of the textbooks, computers, lab supplies and musical instruments the company had provided -- Edison had to sell them off for cash. Many students were left with decades-old books and no equipment.
A few weeks later, some of the company's executives moved into offices inside the schools so Edison could avoid paying the $8,750 monthly rent on its Philadelphia headquarters. They stayed only a few days, until the school board ordered them out.
As a final humiliation, Chris Whittle, the company's charismatic chief executive and founder, recently told a meeting of school principals that he'd thought up an ingenious solution to the company's financial woes: Take advantage of the free supply of child labor, and force each student to work an hour a day, presumably without pay, in the school offices.
"We could have less adult staff," Mr. Whittle reportedly said at a summit for employees and principals in Colorado Springs. "I think it's an important concept for education and economics." In a school with 600 students, he said, this unpaid work would be the equivalent of "75 adults" on salary.
Although Mr. Whittle said he could have the child-labor plan in place by 2004, school board officials were quick to say they would have nothing to do with the proposal.
Edison Schools, and its watchers, say privatization shouldn't mean an end to accountability
But once Edison leaves the market it would be required to disclose financial information only to select business partners - a change that some critics said could make it more difficult for school districts to evaluate the company.
San Francisco parent Caroline Grannan, who founded an Edison watchdog group after the firm opened a charter school in her city, complained that there was already too little information available about its operations.
"I don't see how it can possibly position them to do a better job in the schools. The only thing that I can see that it gets them is less public scrutiny," she said.
Edison demonstrates the flaws inherent in privatizating public services. The profit motive is not strong enough to make people do things they may not want to do. People forget the legacy of public service and the lengths that people will go to in living up to their responsibilities. It may seem like a way to cut costs and improve services, but that's only in optimal situations.
The problem with private companies is that they have incentives to cut costs in ways government doesn't. The implication is that government is both ineffiecent and corrupt and neither is necessarily true. Also, we forget that in many areas open to privitization, the best and the brightest are not only government employees, but wish to remain that way. So there was no reason to believe that the best teachers would want to be Edison employees.
Chris Whittle, in order to save money, started to sell classroom assets and wanted to use child labor. No one would tolerate this from their public schools. Why would he even consider this? Because he wanted to make a profit. Not for the greater good of the community.
But the biggest flaw in privitization is the bidding process. When Edison proposed to run five New York schools, the proposal was soundly thrashed. When Edison proposed building their headquarters near the northern end of Central Park on 5th Avemue, community opposition was bitter. Why? Because the company had political links to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the minority community inferred this was an attempt to harm their children. The political taint of Edison was so offensive to the parents and teachers, the program had no chance to succeed, regardless of their prospects.
Edison was forced on Philadelphia because of a political decision by then Gov. Tom Ridge, despite loud and vocal opposition by community members.
Politics and private companies taint the bidding process and the best contractor is not always the one which wins the contract. So privitization becomes an intensely political product, regardless of any benefit. to the public. So instead of providing public services, it becomes a way to push crony capitalism. Edison didn't draw contracts only because they offered solutions, they had powerful investors with political connections. Their actual ability to raise test scores and improve education is theoretical at best. So is privitization. We have theories about market forces in traditionally non-competetive sectors. We don't have much imperical evidence one way or the other.
The other problem with Edison, is that their track record is limited. There is no long term proof that their method or any privatized school actually performs better than public schools. In fact, despite centuries of private boarding schools, Groton, Philips Andover, Exeter, St. Paul's, Madiera, there is no reason to believe they deliver a fundamentally better education than elite public schools, Hunter, Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Boston Latin, Cambridge Ringe. While there may be class differences, the actual achievement of students from elite public schools match those of private schools.
So there are already serious questions about the effects of privitisation and resource usage inherent in any evaluation of Edison.
It is not clear that contracting out government services produces any true efficencies and there are any number of pitfalls in doing so. No matter how much we distrust government, they are accountable to the public. Private companies, when they fail to perform, may be sued, but no one can force good service from them. They are accountable to their investors first and foremost. Not the public good, no matter what they say
This is the company a state pension fund invested in? A failing company with shares worth $1.70 and it's called diversification? Once again friends of Bush rush to save fellow Yalies Chris Whittle and Benno Schmidt. Unreal. No change in management, a ton of public cash, invested by teachers who oppose the company. The Bushes seem to be competing for the Mobutu Sese Seko award for kleptocratic government.
Nicholas Watt and Larry Elliott
Saturday September 27, 2003
Tony Blair is facing widespread dissatisfaction among Labour MPs who are calling on the prime minister to introduce radical changes to his leadership style if he is to avoid a damaging loss of support.
As the prime minister braces himself for several union-inflicted defeats at the conference, which opens in Bournemouth tomorrow, the Guardian found that just under a quarter of MPs surveyed would like Mr Blair to quit Downing Street immediately.
A similar proportion want a peaceful transition either before or after the next election. Only just over a quarter offered unconditional support. There was a widespread recognition that Gordon Brown would succeed Mr Blair.
In one of the largest surveys of backbench opinion since Labour came to power, 108 MPs discussed top-up fees, the Iraq war and Mr Blair's leadership. Despite unease among Labour whips, who encouraged MPs not to talk, the Guardian spoke to a range of MPs who included staunch loyalists, supporters whose patience is wearing thin, and outright dissidents. They included lifelong backbenchers and former ministers, such as Nick Brown, a strong supporter of the chancellor, who was one of the few to speak on the record.
The findings do not indicate an imminent leadership crisis and they certainly do not show that the chancellor's camp is starting to manoeuvre. But the loss of support for Mr Blair shows how much work he has to do to recover trust on his benches. Alan Keen, MP for Feltham and Heston, indicated that many MPs were looking to the future when he said: "Tony Blair has done a great job for the party. There's no doubt about it, Gordon Brown is by far and away above any other candidates for prime minister, if that post becomes available."
The survey came as the Labour leadership embarks on an intensive round of negotiations to minimise dissent at this year's conference, which is likely to be one of the bloodiest since Mr Blair was elected leader in 1994. Leftwingers will attempt to force a full debate and vote on the Iraq war after the big unions, which command 50% of the vote, agreed to concentrate their fire on domestic policies. The leftwingers will tomorrow attempt to persuade the full con ference to include Iraq as one of the four or five contemporary resolutions which are voted on each year. But unions want to focus on controversial domestic policies, such as foundation hospitals, employment rights and pensions.
As he prepares to deliver his 10th speech as leader, in the conference hall where in 1984 Neil Kinnock signalled the rebirth of Labour with his rousing attack on the Militant Tendency, Mr Blair faces questions about his leadership. Exactly half of those surveyed (54 out of 108) would resist any attempt to have him removed, and a further nine would like the prime minister to stay if he mends his ways. However, a significant number (29) say it is time for him to move on.
Ronnie Campbell, the veteran MP for Blyth Valley, received a blunt message when he campaigned in the recent Brent East byelection: "Get rid of that Blair and I'll vote for you."
Mr Campbell added: "He's got a trust problem, because of the war, because of Hutton, and he'll have a hell of a job to turn it round. If he doesn't, then he's on the skids."
Another MP, Ann Cryer, said she would not "look forward to replacing Tony Blair" but admitted he may have to go. "If we are in difficulties still by next spring it does need clearing up and it needs doing well before the next election - if he's happy to go."
Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West and a longstanding critic, said: "Blair in his time as leader has voted to be hooked up to a daily drip-feed of tabloid attention. It's an addiction. He's courageous when he's wrong and timid when he's right. That's his bloody problem."
It's getting dangerously close to Tony Blair being a liability now. If he is a liability, will he put the party first and hand over? It's a very difficult time. We cannot afford to have another year with fundamental differences between the leader and the party. He'd better not be serious when he says that he's not moving on issues such as top-up fees, or he'll be heading for the rocks."
"I have a high regard for [Blair] and although I think he can be a bit wilful at times and at times he has the wrong kind of acolytes around him - I think they are Nuremberg-style yes-men - as far as leadership is concerned, he is the only game in town."
Blair is in trouble, and may be in more trouble after the Hutton report. Having so many backbenchers not happy is not a good sign. Especially if a debate on the war is quashed or limited. This is not going to kill him politically, but it makes for choppy waters ahead. Blair needs WMD to be found and Bush needs Blair to stay in power. The investigation demanded by the CIA of the leak of a name of a deep cover agent by White House officials could lead to an American version of the Hutton inquiry.
What is amazing is the increasing examination of the conduct of the driven by UN refusal to help, and that IS what it is, and the cost. Even a brief look leads to conclusions of crony capitalism and more poor planning.
Labour MP's are trying to deny the reality of the situation, which is that their PM is increasingly unpopular and there may be no floor to that unpopularity. The more that comes out which discredits Bush and Blair, the worse they look. One real disaster and it could be over quickly for Blair.
The Other Recall: Segway Scooters Hit the Tipping Point
By JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: September 26, 2003
A problem has emerged with the Segway Human Transporter, the $5,000 high-technology scooter that has computerized gyroscopes to keep it from falling over.
It falls over.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Segway L.L.C. today announced a recall of all 6,000 Segways, which tend to tip when the batteries are low and the rider does something that requires a quick burst of power, such as speeding up abruptly or trying to bump over an obstacle.
A user who has an accident like the one described by the commission has to ignore a number of signals from the Segway to get to the hazardous tipping point. The machines have a prominent battery level indicator built into the handlebars, and as power drains, a light comes on, an alarm sounds and the handlebars shake. A Segway can be charged at any power outlet with a cord that is identical to those used in most personal computers.
The Segway made its debut last November with great fanfare and enthusiastic news coverage. Last month, Dan Rather, the CBS news anchor, said the vehicle "just might be the most revolutionary leap since the automobile." But the scooter has also been derided as a yuppie toy, and there was nearly gleeful coverage of a spill taken by President Bush on one last summer.
I hate those damn things. Yuppie playtoy. Fucking clowns.
Dean Kamen should live in the real world. No one needs a scooter for lazy fatbodies. What good is the Segway?
After all the hype and bullshit, now the thing needs a recall? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
OK, this is supposed to be talk like O'Reilly Day, but I don't watch that Long Island racist blowhard. But I do wonder what the hell is wrong with Fox.
Yesterday, CNN's Tucker Carlson jokingly gave out Fox's Washington Bureau's number as his home number during a segment on telemarketers. Now, call me crazy, but that was a funny joke and not uncommon.
How does Fox respond?
By publishing Carlson's unlisted home number. Carlson has four children under 10. So his third grader had the pleasure of picking up the phone and listening to the wingnuts who listen to Fox. You have to be deranged to curse at a child, yet the Fox audience did so with glee.
Now, I don't care for the man's politics, but that doesn't make him evil. If Ann Coulter, as repellent as her politics is, has the right to sleep with partners of her choice, Tucker Carlson clearly has the right to a private life. More importantly, his kids have the right to live in peace without daddy's job scaring the shit out of them. I can't imagine anyone calling some guy on TV at home to torment him. But the fact that he has a family is no secret. And it was no secret to the people at Fox.
Look, we all know CNN has embarassed the Dear Leader's network with frequent Franken appearances. But that's part of the fun of journalism. You get the joy of tweaking the opposition. CNN has its own troubles Fox can exploit.
But it takes a special kind of evil to nationally publish someone's unlisted home number, knowing he has a wife and four small children at home. When Atrios posted this yesterday, I mentioned that someone could reverse directory that number and find his home in the Virginia burbs. It boggles the mind that someone thought this was appropriate when all they had to do was publish his CNN office number. Every news office has people's home numbers out of friendship or a need to communicate. These people all socialize and know each other. Common courtesy would dictate one doesn' t give out private numbers.
James Carville called Fox pond scum for doing this, I would call them assholes, but it's the same thing. It was horribly irresponsible and reckless. God, I hope everyone at Fox is faithful to their spouses and not having any office affairs. I hope they live sin-free lives. Because this won't go unanswered.
In today's Washington Post, they break down how that $20B for Iraqi reconstruction will be spent.
The discontent is relatively contained so far, said Jim Dyer, Republican staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, but that is because few lawmakers have read the proposal's fine print. As more details seep out, he said, anger is sure to rise.
Those details include $100 million to build seven planned communities with a total of 3,258 houses, plus roads, an elementary school, two high schools, a clinic, a place of worship and a market for each; $10 million to finance 100 prison-building experts for six months, at $100,000 an expert; 40 garbage trucks at $50,000 each; $900 million to import petroleum products such as kerosene and diesel to a country with the world's second-largest oil reserves; and $20 million for a four-week business course, at $10,000 per student.
"We're not talking sanity here," Dyer said. "The world's second-largest oil country is importing oil, and a country full of concrete is importing concrete."
Then Josh Marshall drops this tidbit o' information:
New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Its activities will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration. The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C. and on the ground in Iraq.
A 'unique company'? You could say that. Who's the Chairman and Director of New Bridge? That would be Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's longtime right-hand-man and until about six months ago his head of FEMA. Before that of course he was the president's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and campaign manager for Bush-Cheney 2000.
Allbaugh was part of the president's so-called 'Iron Triangle' -- the other two being Karl Rove and Karen Hughes. And now Allbaugh's running an outfit that helps your company get the sweetest contracts in Iraq? That sound right to you? Think he'll have any special pull?
Then Billmon jumps on the pile with a pithy comment:
There's an old joke about the Quakers: They came to America to do good, and did well. But these good old boys apparently have decided to skip the "doing good" part in Iraq and get straight to the "doing well."
But none of this makes sense until you connect the dots.
Why does Iraq, with maybe 130,000 unemployed professionals needs prison experts. If Iraq should have anything, it's people who can build prisons. These guys are living in these ornate palaces and they think they need outside construction advice. I think if Iraqis could meet construction standards where failure meant play time with Uday and Qusay, they can work to rebuild their country. But it's not about that.
New Bridge is going to serve as the broker to this aid money and the contracts which flow from them. Those needs have little to do with Iraq and a lot to do with Bush supporters who will bid and get paid for those contracts. Do you think Democratic linked companies will get New Bridge's help? Planned communities? They mean gated communities for Americans, like they have in Saudi Arabia.
Iraqis don't need business courses, it has a well developed netowrk of universities. U Baghdad was teaching students when Bush's ancestors painted themselves blue and killed Vikings. Iraqis have gone overseas for decades to get advanced degrees from Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, the Sorbonne. They don't need or want these programs. They need modern research equipment and computers, rebuilt libraries. They have the professors and professionals needed already. A program which wasn't about looting the treasury would reenforce Iraq's institutions and not build what is in essence a colonial infrastructure.
This is a scam, which will benefit Bush cronies over Iraqis. These programs have nothing to do with Iraq. They have everything to do with enriching Republican contributors. Business courses? Why do Iraqis need business courses? They've sold things for thousands of years.
Even the plan to hire human rights investigators is a scam. Why couldn't bright young Iraqis be trained in investigatory techniques instead of a $200K a year "experts"? Who do you think will get those contracts? American firms like Kroll. Who will then still have to rely on young Iraqis to do the leg work.
It's not about helping Iraq. It's about enriching the friends of the president.