Saturday, December 30, 2006

Iraqi Bloggers React To Saddam's Execution

Who better to comment on the execution of Saddam Hussein than bloggers from Iraq.

"I cried for all those he tortured, those he killed"

As expected, one of the most personal and passionate reactions came from the blog of Neurotic Iraqi Wife who has been a previous subject of this blog.

NIW writes:
I hurried to my room during lunch break hoping to catch up on news. And there it was, right before me, the video footage of his hanging. I slumped on my bed, and I began to cry. Yes, I cried. A surge of emotions overwhelmed me. I cried, I cried cuz he never got to see the Iraq I envisaged in my mind, I cried. I cried for all the years he forced my family and millions of others to desert their country and live in an endless yearning, I cried. Yes I cried. I cried for all the 35 years he ruled, I cried. I cried, I cried for all those he tortured, those he killed. I cried for all the blood he shed, for all the hatred he bred. Yes I cried. I cried and cried.
She adds:
Saddam should have been interrogated infront of the whole world. Saddam should have answered the WHYs? that all the families of the martyrs wanted to ask. The WHYs that all the Iraqis wanted to know. WHY DID YOU SLAUGHTER US? WHY DID YOU HATE US? WHY DID YOU DESTROY US? WHY, WHY and WHAT FOR? Instead of the theatrical fiasco that took place which they claim was their way of justice, they should have asked him WHY?
3 more trials for Saddam

From blogger Hammorabi:
Now and after he was executed for only a drop of his crimes which is the Dijeel issue in which he killed and tortured many Iraqis from Dijeel in 1980s, after this Saddam will face three trials.

The first one which may start immediately after his death is the trial of God which will bring every deed even if it is part of an atom.....

The second trial is the Iraqi trials about the crimes of Saddam via his supporters. One of them is going on now about the Infal crimes and still some to come.

The third is the trial of the history by the coming generations and this will be hard trial and may continue for hundred of years to come.
The execution video

The blogger, Healing Iraq, includes the execution video that was shown on state-run Al-Iraqiya TV. It goes right up to, but does not include the actual hanging.

In a more journalistic approach, Healing Iraq writes:
The Shi'ite executioners and witnesses were reported to have danced around Saddam's corpse after he was hanged while chanting Shi'ite religious slogans. The same situation was reported from the Green Zone by Al-Arabiya TV reporters who said members of the current Iraqi government were also celebrating. Iraqis took to the streets in Sadr City, Najaf and Basrah. Some carried portraits of Muqtada Al-Sadr and Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, the new strongmen of Iraq.

Protests took place in Tikrit, Baiji, Fallujah, Ramadi and Garma, but so far there have been no violent reactions. Instead of visiting relatives or going out to parks, people had to stay home out of fear. According to an Iraqi law expert interviewed on Al-Arabiya TV, It is against Iraqi law to schedule an execution on an official or religious holiday, but he conceded that this was obviously a political decision.

I hope the execution of the tyrant brings relief to the families of his victims.

There are still many dark days ahead in Iraq.

Here are the links to Neurotic Iraqi Wife, Hammorabi, and Healing Iraq

Friday, December 29, 2006

Who Is Joe Lieberman Kidding?

Is Joe Lieberman out of his mind?

The Independent Senator from Connecticut has an Op-Ed in the Washington Post titled, "Why we need more troops in Iraq."

"The war is winnable"

His rationale, in a nutshell, is that "the war is winnable."

Lieberman writes that "we want victory," because "Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism."

Senator Lieberman, who do you suppose created this hotbed for terrorists? Saddam Hussein? Oh, I see. Dopey me, I thought Al Qaeda was not welcome in Iraq until we got Hussein out of the way.

Lieberman seems to think that a great new strategy would be to send many more troops in to train Iraqi death squads...oops, make that police...and get those extremists under control.

Where has Lieberman been?

Where was Lieberman for the past 4 years, when it came to speaking out on the doomed strategy of the Bush administration...a 'stay the course' nightmare that has so far cost the lives of nearly 3,000 American troops and thousands of Iraqis?

Where has Lieberman been on seeking to insure that the billions earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction actually was properly spent on rebuilding the infrastructure we destroyed, rather than lining the pockets of Halliburton and friends?

Why does Lieberman continue to insist that 'winning' in Iraq is akin to winning the illusory war on terror?

If you believe the garbage he spews, you believe that the violence in Iraq is primarily the result of Iran and Al Qaeda stirring the pot, rather than any deep-seated hatred between the Shiites and Sunnis.

Shamelessly invoking 9/11

Right from the get-go, Lieberman plays the Bush shell game of confusing the war in Iraq with a war against Islamic terrorists.

In case we miss the connection, he writes: "How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001. "

Raising the spectre of 9/11 to justify shedding more blood and tying up all of our resources in Iraq. How noble of Senator Lieberman.

Pressure tactics

What's even scarier is that this piece would not have been written if this self-deluded megalomaniac didn't intend to use his independent status as a bargaining chip to make sure he gets his way in the newly configured Senate.

I hope that those Connecticut voters who put this dangerous man back in office now begin to at least partially understand the consequences of their actions.

And I hope that Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and crew do not let him get away with it.

The Lieberman column can be found here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Iraq: We've Failed. Now What?

There was an interesting quote today by new Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. According to AP, Gates said,
"But as the president has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come."

We've already failed

What both Gates and the Bush administration don't seem to understand is that we have already failed.

Sectarian violence has spiraled beyond any control. More Iraqi and American blood is spilled daily. The billions spent in reconstruction have resulted in very little improvement in the Iraqi infrastructure, with massive fraud by contractors going unexamined to this point.

Additionally, Afghanistan, by all accounts, is falling apart, thanks to America's lack-of-interest and diversion of resources into Iraq. The Taliban has regained a solid foothold and opium production is funding the terrorists.

Is this not failure?

Violence in Iraq at an 'all-time high'

I realize that the media has a very short attention span, but how can no news about Iraq, outside of the Gates quote, make the front page of CNN today?

How can the mass rounding-up of victims not be an ongoing story, for at least the short-term?

Couple the continued bad news with a Pentagon report that says in the most recent 3 month period being measured, through November 10,
"attack levels - both overall and in all specific measurable categories - were the highest on record."

Changing the mindset

Obviously we are in the midst of stunning failure, so why do the Bushies, and their enablers in the media, keep bringing up scenarios of what might happen 'if we fail?'

We need to change our mindset.

We need to admit the fact that our policy to democracize Iraq, and raid Iraqi resources for corporate profit, has been a debacle.

Acknowledging that failure of policy, we need to then determine how to best alter our course with the least amount of further bloodshedding and regional instability.

In other words, it's not taking endless tests to determine if the patient might indeed, fall ill. It's recognizing that a sick patient has been made even sicker by the incorrect, invasive treatment and, being cognizant of that fact, doing all we can to try and halt the progress of the disease.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bah Humbug...Computer Crash

Just a quick note to let everyone know that my home computer has crashed. I am working to fix the problem, which seems to be more serious than first appeared.

Between trying to do that, and the busy holiday season, it may be a few more days until the next entry.

But I'm not going anywhere!

Hope everybody is doing well and looking forward to some interesting times ahead, now that the Democrats will no longer be relegated to the basement.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom Of Jack Kingston

As many of you already know, one of the first changes in the way the House will be conducting business come January is longer work hours. The upcoming House majority leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer, delivered the news last week.

The Congressional workday, which had become a Tuesday through Thursday affair, along with huge blocks of additional time off, has resulted in a workload of just 103 days this year. As the Washington Post correctly pointed out, "that's seven days fewer than the infamous 'Do-Nothing Congress' of 1948."

Rep. Hoyer has put Congress on alert that the House workday will now run from 6:30PM Monday through 2PM Friday. Rep. Hoyer also said that some of the extended holidays will be a thing of the past.

Considering that the current Congress was so lax that 9 major spending bills were left unresolved, a move some said was deliberately done to lock-up the upcoming Democratic majority for a time, the lengthened work week was absolutely the right thing to seek.

However, not to Republican Rep. Jack Kingston.

Most Inane Quote Of The Year

In a widely reported comment, that will surely come back to haunt him, Kingston said,
"Keeping us up here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."
He really said that.

I was so taken aback by the utter crassness of his his total lack of political acumen for having the audacity to utter those words...that I sought to find out a little more about this great orator.

Here is some of what I uncovered.

The 'U' Word

Rep. Kingston, who serves on the Appropriation Committee’s Agriculture Subcommittee, has an issue with what he refers to as a new "urban-based" Congress, which he is telling farmers, is going to be out to undercut our nation's agricultural interests.

According to the Southwest Farm Press, here's what Kingston told the Southern Crop Production Association in their annual meeting last week:
“Now, we have a new Congress that has more of an urban base, and the urban newspapers have decided that one of the problems with the national budget is spending for agriculture programs. So I believe we’ll have a lot more skirmishes over subsidies and the movement toward fuel independence.”
I must have missed something.

Were districts redrawn before this election to allow for more 'urban' representation? Or is 'urban' a code word for something else? Ethnicity and race, perhaps?

Unless he was referring to non-existent, city-friendly redistricting, he's got some explaining to do.

Minimum Wage

Rep. Kingston is also one of the fiercest opponents of raising the federal minimum wage.

That same Southwest Farm Press article, which reveals that Kingston was "rated by the National Journal as the 'most conservative House member' in 2005," had this Kingston quote on changing mimimum wage laws:

“The Democrats have promised to raise the minimum wage. I oppose it. In 1980, 15 percent of U.S. workers were on minimum wage; today, it’s just 2.5 percent — of which 15 percent are teenagers, 40 percent have never held a job in their lives, and 30 percent are part-time."
Interesting how using stats can dehumanize, isn't it?

What is Kingston's point, teenagers, or first-time job-holders are not deserving of a liveable wage?

As for the 30% part-timers that Kingston refers to, has he considered that this is quite often a worker's 2nd job because they cannot make ends meet?

The minimum wage has been at $5.15 for the past 9 years. How can anybody think that this is a wage that people can live on? Plus, each year, the spending value of that wage declines. The Democrat proposal to raise it to $7.25 is the least we should be doing.

Kingston, though, is allegedly more concerned about business owners, adding "A government-controlled, government-mandated wage generally means small businesses are going to lose jobs. When the minimum wage is increased, there’s a wage push in all directions,and that’s what causes a wage/price spiral."

What Kingston didn't refer to, but CNN did, back in June, is that, Congressional salaries over the the past 9 years have increased by $31,600, which would translate to a gain of $15 an hour, for a 40-hour work week.

Imagine what that translates to with the current work schedule?

This is from a man who supposedly cares about families?

It's a good thing that the Democrats are making increasing the minimum wage a priority and have refused to increase their own salaries until that wage increase is passed.

Kingston On A 'Booming' Iraq

Finally, here is the wit and wisdom of Rep. Kingston on Iraq. He thinks reporting on Iraq is not as upbeat as it should be.

Once again, from the Southwest Farm Press:
“'Since 2003, 33,000 businesses have filed for licenses in Iraq; there are 44 television stations, where there once was just one; over 100 newspapers, where there was just one; and a port, never used under Saddam Hussein, that now handles 40 ships a month. All this we never hear about.'

"Noting that the United States is at war with Sunnis and Shiites 'who’ve been fighting for thousands of years,' he said, 'if we don’t have the staying power to remain in there for 10 or 15 years, we ought to be realistic and say, This is not a war for us.’"
The 'Family' That Kingston Cares About

Since it seems apparent that Kingston would have no problem asking families let their loved ones remain in harm's way for 10 or 15 more years, I would love to ask him one question...

Just what kind of work week does Kingston think our soldiers are enjoying during their tours of Iraq?

It's certainly a helluva lot longer than 103 days out of the year.

The only family that Rep. Jack Kingston truly cares about is his own.

(If you would like to read more about the wit and wisdom of Jack Kingston, and respond to him directly, please note that he has his own blog which you can access here.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Heather & Mary: 2 Mommies, Dearest

'Tis the season of Mary and her child. However, in the case of Mary Cheney, this will hardly be an immaculate conception.

It was hard not to enjoy a chuckle when hearing the news that the poster child for same-sex cowardice and hypocrisy, Mary Cheney, was going to be having a child with her lesbian partner of 15 years, Heather Poe.

This target is way too easy

In an earlier blog post I celebrated the fact that nobody was buying this first-class fraud's autobiography, "Now It's My Turn."

Anything you ever wanted to know about the self-absorption of Mary Cheney could be found during the Bush re-election campaign. Confronted by a new wave of homophobia, where state upon state added anti-gay marriage initiatives to the ballot as a lure to trample the Dems by stomping on the backs of gays and lesbians, Mary became enraged. Unfortunately, not by the bigots that have sought to brand gay relationships as evil and undeserving of spousal and parental protection.

No, Mary Cheney was enraged that John Edwards would dare to mention the fact that she was a lesbian. It was not an outing, she had already served as an openly gay liason to the gay community for a beleagured Coors Brewing Company. Yet, Cheney and the rest of her loathsome family, turned on the phony dramatics to portray themselves as alleged victims of dirty politics.

This disgusting human being did her damnedest to help re-elect a man, who has made it abundantly clear that he feels gays and lesbians are second-class American citizens, and whose family units have absolutely no value. The party her father is proud to represent would truly have no qualms in officially codifying discrimination against her by amending the Constitution.

With friends like these...

So how are all her dad's buddies greeting this newfound revelation of lesbian motherhood? How is the welcome wagon treating old Mary?

Concerned Women for America are most certainly 'concerned' about her. According to AP
"Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as 'unconscionable'. 'It’s very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father,' said Crouse. 'They are encouraging people who don’t have the advantages they have.'”
How about that Ms. Cheney? I guess that rules out the CWA sending you a bassinet.

Then there's Carrie Gordon Earll from Focus On The Family. Earll feels the pregnancy is not such a terrific thought:
"'Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea,' said. 'Love can't replace a mother and a father.'"
Something tells me that Earll may have to skip the baby shower.

It will be interesting to observe comments from these pious purveyors of morality in the coming days. I hope Ms. Cheney gets a long, hard look at the people she has chosen to cast her lot with.

Tea with Ann Coulter is probably out of the question.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The GOP's Pander Triplets

With all the silly banter about Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama being the only 2 'serious' potential presidential candidates for the Democratic ticket in '08, I was relieved to see somebody focus on the GOP side of the aisle for a change, if only to stop the banality.

An interesting piece found at MSNBC discussed the 3 front-runners and suggests that they are pandering to social conservatives, since their records have allegedly not been conservative enough, to date.

In a piece by NBC political reporter Mark Murray, former N.Y. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sen. John McCain and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are accorded the position as front-runners. Murray ends his piece by quoting Steven Forbes' former campaign manager, who predicts that one of these 3 will win.

In the meantime, Murray writes how each of the 3 pols has been at odds with social conservatives in the GOP and what they have done to pander more to that party's base.

I am providing that info below in summary form, for quick reference when the true debates begin. Unlike Murray, I do not use the term 'pro-life,' preferring the more accurate term, 'pro-ban.' Otherwise, this is a distillation of his points.

Mitt Romney

Prior Positions
*Pro-stem cell research funding
*Gay-friendly (not in this piece, but his metamorphosis is detailed here)

*Opposes stem cell research funding
*Seeks a state Constitutional Amendment to overturn gay marriage in Massachusetts, trying to force the issue onto the ballot.

John McCain

Prior Positions
*Pro-ban, but on record as saying he would not repeal Roe v. Wade
*Relatively quiet on his personal pro-ban stance
*In favor of guest-worker progam for illegal immigrants
*In favor of expanded funding for stem cell research
*Referred to Rev. Jerry Falwell as 'evil'

*Spoke out in favor of South Dakota's aborion ban (with some 'caveats,' as the article states)
*Received a major pro-ban endorsement, allegedly over his willingness to enact legislation to ban abortions
*Gave commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University

Rudy Giuliani

Prior Positions
*Stem-cell Research: In favor of Federal funding
*Pro-civil unions. (Additionally, during marital difficulties, moved out of the Mayoral mansion and shared space with a gay couple he was friends with)

*Campaigning for Ralph Reed last May. It may not be enough, as one right-winger is quoted, suggesting that Giuliani run in the Democratic primaries.

Did Somebody Say 'Flip-Flop?'

All I can say is, the party that exploited the term flip-flop is going to have a whale of a time defending the integrity of their positions come '08 if one of these 3 gets the nomination.

To read the original Mark Murray article, point your browser here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Corruption: The 'Second Insurgency' In Iraq

In an interview with the Guardian, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General of the Iraq reconstruction, told the British paper that corruption by contractors in Iraq is costing a staggering $4 billion dollars a year.

The story begins by asserting that, according to Mr. Bowen (pictured at left),
"The Iraqi government is in danger of being brought down by the wholesale smuggling of the nation's oil and other forms of corruption that together represent a 'second insurgency'"
adding that
"corruption had reached such levels that it threatened the survival of the state"

Oil Smuggling Funds The Insurgency

The Guardian reports that Mr. Bowen views oil smuggling as the region's top problem,
"The pipelines that are meant to take the oil north have been blown up, so the only way to export it is by road. 'That leaves it vulnerable to smuggling,' he said, as truckers sell their cargoes on the black market."
That stolen money apparently also helps to finance the insurgency. As Julian Borger and David Pallister wrote:
"A US government report has concluded that oil smuggling abetted by corrupt Iraqi officials is netting insurgents $100m a year, helping to make them financially self-sustaining."

U.S. Incompetence May Have Armed Insurgents And Death Squads

The scathing Guardian article refers to monumental incompetence in the handling of weapons:
"A recent audit by (Bowen's) inspectors found that more than 14,000 guns paid for out of US reconstruction funds for Iraqi government use could not be accounted for. Many could be in the hands of insurgents or sectarian death squads, but it will be almost impossible to prove because when the US military handed out the guns it noted the serial numbers of only about 10,000 out of a total of 370,000 US-funded weapons, contrary to defence department regulations."

9 Billion In Oil Revenue Missing

There are other bombshell accusations, such as the fact that:
"Mr Bowen's office found that nearly $9bn in Iraqi oil revenues could not be accounted for. The cash was flown into the country in shrink-wrapped bundles on military transport planes and handed over by the ton to Iraqi ministries by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) run by Paul Bremer, a veteran diplomat. The money was meant to demonstrate the invaders' good intentions and boost the Iraqi economy, which Mr Bremer later insisted had been 'dead in the water'. But it also fuelled a cycle of corruption left over from Saddam Hussein's rule.

"'We know it got to the Iraqis, but we don't know how it was used,' Mr Bowen later told Congress."

Contractors Making A Killing

Much of the problem is traced to the U.S. corporations that are making a financial killing from the invasion. Regarding the awarding of contracts, the Guardian stated,
"In most cases the contracts were distributed without competition and on a cost-plus basis. In other words the contractors were guaranteed a profit margin calculated as a percentage of their costs, so the higher the costs, the higher the profits. In the rush to get work started the contracts were signed early in 2004. In many cases work did not get under way until the year was nearly over. In the months between, the contractors racked up huge bills on wages, hotel bills and restaurants.

"According to a Sigir review published in October, Kellogg, Brown and Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company) was awarded an oil industry repair contract in February 2004 but 'direct project activity' did not begin until November 19. In that time KBR's overhead costs were nearly $53m. In fact more than half the company's $300m project costs from 2004-06 went on overheads, the audit found.

"Iraq also represented a grey zone beyond the reach of the US civil courts. KBR was found to have overcharged the US military about $60m for fuel deliveries, but that did not stop it winning more government contracts."
Based upon such revelations, the ability of Congress to now investigate such abuses should lead to these sort of headlines finding their way into American newspapers.

It's amazing what the power of the subpoena will allow the Democrats to do.

To access the Guardian story, click here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Christian Coalition's Transparent Moment

The Christian Coalition, in a stunning display of transparency, has put to rest any doubts that right-wing, religious fundamentalism and true spirituality have anything in common.

Tuesday, it was announced that the president-elect of the organization is leaving the Pat Robertson-founded group.

Poverty & The Environment Don't Cut It

According to an AP story, it's because,
"the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

"The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

"'These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about,' said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla."
Hunter added,
"They pretty much said, 'These issues are fine, but they're not our issues, that's not our base.'"
I guess I see Rev. Hunter's point.

2-Trick Pony

When you've got your founder calling for the assassination of the leader of a sovereign nation and suggesting God was set to wipe out Orlando for having 'gay days' at Disney theme parks, why dilute your message with annoying issues like poverty, hunger, homelessness and cleaning up the environment?

A casual look at the Christian Coalition website confirms that they are a 2-trick pony...opposition to same-sex marriage and anti-choice!

Get those checks in today!


In the rhetoric of the Christian Coalition, they love to cloak themselves in the mantle of 'pro-family.'

They're just not concerned with hungry or destitute families, families that are neither straight nor Caucasian, families that do not follow their breed of rigid, compassionless Christian fundamentalism, or families that desire to see a healthier environment for their children's sake.

No, the only families that rate high on the Christian Coalition's list are those that send in money to fuel the organization's hatred and divisiveness.

You get the idea. Save the fetus, but the baby be damned.

How unusual to see them admit their agenda so brazenly.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reflections From A 'Neurotic Iraqi Wife'

Something learned early from reading the blogposts of Iraqis is the fact that one can't easily pigeonhole the politics of what is now occurring. The overall sense of frustration, along with the lessening of the quality of everyday life, has translated into posts that are tinged with a sense of overwhelming grief and utter hopelessness on what can even be done to alleviate the suffering.

And yet, they do not necessarily conform to the political posturing on this issue here.

Neurotic Iraqi Wife

The blogger, pictured above, at the bluntly-named, 'Neurotic Iraqi Wife' site, is a good representation of the increased desperation and rage that is seething in the wake of the escalating violence.

That rage is fully evident when she writes,
"They said Thursday was the deadliest day in Iraq. Let me correct this statement. Thursday was one OF the deadliest days in Iraq and if we think this is bad, and there cant be anything worse, believe me things WILL get even worse. Maliki's government proved to the world they are puppets to the militias. In my opinion, I think all the cabinet and ministers should step down, step down and leave that darn chair.

"Martial law should be put in place, and a strong military guy comes in. No militias, no Sadrists, no Badrists, no Islamists. A pure Military persona that leads with an iron fist. Gets rid of the cancer that has been created. Its beyond any persons imagination how an Iraqi, can kill another Iraqi by pouring Kerosene and burn him alive because he is Sunni. Its beyond any persons imagination how an Iraqi, can kill hundreds of Iraqis in one day because they are Shias.

"We have become savages. The lid has opened and so many cockroaches and spiders crawled out of the can. I wish it was that easy. Even the coackroaches and Spiders can get killed by using an insecticide. Question is, how can you get rid of these militias and Terrorists that overtook my country??? And people say we are under occupation. Yes we are under occupation but not by the coalition forces, we are under Militia occupation. Do you hear me??? Wake up and smell the roses, oh sorry there are no roses in Iraq anymore, I should say Wake up and smell the dead carnage. Dont you dare say to me that we are occupied by these forces. State your facts clearly. WE ARE UNDER MILITIA/TERRORIST OCCUPATION...OK???

"I never liked Bush, infact I loathe him for what he did to my country, but at the same time, I loathe Sadr and Hakeem, Dhari and Bin Laden. Oh and let me not leave out the greatest criminal of all, Saddam!!! The man who created all this mayhem. The man who was behind all this. And yet he is the only safe Iraqi in this country. I loathe everyone that did this to Iraq, every single one. I loathe the whole government for not standing up for the Iraqis. They just care of themselves and their own personal agendas. The tortured bodies that are found everyday dumped on the streets of Baghdad is similar and probably worse than the days of Saddam. Im ashamed, Im ashamed of that darn purple finger. Im ashamed of the day millions of Iraqis went out of their way and voted, risked their lives and voted, Voted in hope to get their saviour, instead they voted for their OWN KILLERS."

The State Of Mullas And Militias

Neurotic Iraqi Wife wants military rule to be instituted, because of the growing anarchy unfolding around her. She would rather have some sort of structure of laws, rather than live under a faux 'democracy.'

Additionally, while she despises George Bush, she is in total fear of what is going to happen after the Americans leave. NIW writes:
The State of Mullas and Militias, thats what Iraq has become. And you tell me occupied. Im gonna say this once and for all to all those who keep saying we are under occupation. YES we are under occupation by the peasants and the IGNORANT people that think just like you. If the forces leave just like what you want, then watch all the gardens and backyards turn into morgues. MORGUES FILLED WITH YOUR OWN PEOPLE!!!Oh I forgot, You dont give a damn shit, cuz you call yourselves Patriots!!! Patriots my A**.

If the forces leave, watch how Hakeem will give the South to Iran on a silver plate, watch how the Kurds will take the North, they deserve it, I mean after all, they atleast are united towards building their own state. Oh and let me not forget Baghdad, Baghdad will be the rogue state, that of Militias, Dharists and Bin Ladens. Yeah hell why not let the forces leave, we dont need them, we have everything under control. Oh let them leave, we are sooooo ready to takeover now. So ready!!! Whats another million Iraqi getting killed??? Its just another statistic on a piece of paper....Damn you, damn everyone who calls themself a Patriot and a nationalist. You are no where near the true meaning of these words. No where near!!! What BULLSHIT!!!

That Pitiful Purple Finger

U.S. troops cannot remain in Iraq indefinitely just because the country has descended into chaos. We have not helped to alleviate the carnage, thus far.

However, since we helped created the anarchy in her country, we should think long and hard about the way we exit and what we leave behind.

Today on Meet The Press, Rep. Duncan Hunter once again uttered the banal GOP mantra of "we are gonna win this contest."

To Iraqis, like Neurotic Iraqi Wife, that rhetoric is totally meaningless. She concludes in her most recent blogpost with this:
The only people that have lost here are the innocent Iraqis. They are the only victims in this game. And they will continue to be victims, until all those criminals get eradicated from the face of the earth... I repeat and say Im ashamed, Im ashamed of that day. Im ashamed of that day I voted and made my voice heard. Im ashamed of that Purple finger I proudly exhibited...Im Ashamed of that darn Purple Finger, that Pitiful Purple Finger...

To access the Neurotic Iraqi Wife blog, point your browser here.

To access Friday's post with links and excerpts from recent posts by Iraqi bloggers, 'Hammorabi,' 'Healing Iraq,' and 'Iraqi Rocker,' click here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Massacre & Retribution In Iraq

Thursday, while Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, all hell broke loose in Iraq, with more than 200 dead. The killings, via car bombs and mortar attacks, occurred in Sadr City.

How prophetic that one Iraqi blogger, Hammorabi, had this to say after the attacks:
"Once again this indicates the failure of the government and the occupying forces to provide the simplest kind of the security. It is not a war between militias and others but it may be just the beginning of a civil war that is going to happen openly and on a large scale may be soon. The Sadr city citizens suffered continuously from attacks by the terrorists and by the American forces. They now had enough and were calling for the government to resign. They will soon have the power in their hands to punish the enemy which attacks them and they know it very well. This enemy got supporters in the government and in the political factions. Some of them were calling for revenge against Sadr city few days ago. The next few days will witness a new kind of revenge against these heads and the terrorists no matter what the government will do."


How correct that assessment was. Today, the ante was upped with a disturbing new revenge tactic. From AP:
"Revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen seized six Sunnis as they left Friday prayers, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive, and Iraqi soldiers did nothing to stop the attack, police and witnesses said.

"The fiery slayings in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Hurriyah were a dramatic escalation of the brutality coursing through the Iraqi capital, coming a day after suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in Baghdad's main Shiite district with a combination of bombs and mortars."
The blog, Healing Iraq, from an Iraqi studying in New York, had this to add, about the revenge killings:
"At the Amil district, in southern Baghdad, the few remaining Sunni families woke up to find signs painted on their doors saying, 'All Sunnis should leave. This is a final warning,' and 'The house should not be leased or sold.'

"Some posters on Iraqi message boards are warning that militiamen in Sadr City are preparing for a wide-scale assault on several Sunni districts, similar to the one that followed the February shrine bombing, as soon as the curfew is lifted."

Killed Over A Fashion Statement

The level of the violence in Iraq is nearly impossible to comprehend, which is why Iraqi blogs are so important to read. How can one not be moved to read accounts such as this, a 2-day old entry from "Iraqi Rocker?:
"Hello, the situation in Baghdad cant be worse I guess, a guy got killed before few days in the street behind our house, the guy was 20 or 22 years old got a tattoo on his neck and wearing a cool outfit, jeans pants, and a shirt, and he got killed because of that."

Black Friday

Today, the media was abuzz with reports about Black Friday, and how busy the stores would be as we shift gears into holiday shopping mode.

I suspect Black Friday in Iraq means something else entirely.

Just something to think about as we make our own holiday preparations.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mitt Romney & The Politics Of Hypocrisy

You are a Republican thinking of tossing your hat into the ring to be your party's candidate for president in '08...what's the surest way to jump start a possible run?

Apparently, outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinks it is by trampling on the backs of America's gays and lesbians.

Massachusetts became the only state to legalize gay marriage, in May of 2004, following a state Supreme Court ruling from 6 months earlier. That decision found it unconstitutional that only heterosexuals in the state were allowed to marry.

Romney Rallies The Right-Wing Base

At an anti-gay marriage rally this past Sunday, Gov. Romney vowed to ask his state's highest court to order an amendment banning gay marriage onto the ballot if state legislators do not vote on the matter when they reconvene in January.

Romney apparently was troubled that state lawmakers on Nov. 9th voted to recess, thereby avoiding a vote on whether to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. So distressed was Romney that he sent copies of the Massachusetts Constitution and an angry letter to legislators accusing them of violating the constitution.

Playing Politics

So, how exactly does this make Romney a disingenuous fraud?

Bay Windows, which bills itself as "New England's largest LGBT newspaper," details Romney's hypocrisy quite well, in an article titled, "Mitt Romney: Garden variety bigot or political opportunist?"

According to the article, if Romney had not merely been posturing, he would have focused his lobbying prior to the state constitutional convention, where this issue was being addressed.

In her Bay Windows piece, Susan Ryan-Vollmar writes:
"As we all know, lawmakers voted 109-87 to recess the ConCon until Jan. 2, 2007. There is a slim chance that lawmakers could vote on the measure then, but it’s extremely unlikely. Just about every observer of Beacon Hill politics believes that the amendment is dead. But right up until the morning of the ConCon, when pro-equality lawmakers and advocates sewed up enough votes to win a motion to recess the ConCon, the legislature could have gone the other way and voted to approve the amendment. The recess vote was a tough one for many lawmakers and it was a vote that the side could have won. If, that is, the governor had actually been working with them.

"In the last two years, Romney has spouted some over-the-top rhetoric about civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. He has claimed that such marriages harm children, that they diminish the marriages of heterosexual couples, that they mark the decline of tradition and order in society. You would think a man genuinely fearful for the health of marriage, a man who was actually in a position to do something about it, would do everything in his power to “defend” marriage. Think again. The only thing motivating this governor is personal ambition. The likely reason for his failure to hold a raucous rally prior to the Nov. 9 ConCon was his calculation that he had absolutely nothing to gain from it. What if he held the rally and the measure died anyway? Too risky. So Romney waited and held his made-for-TV-ad spectacular long after it could have any impact whatsoever on the actual debate."
Romney's Transformation

The Bay Windows article also refers to the transformation of Romney from moderate to extremist on gay issues:
"When Romney ran against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994, he wrote a letter to the Mass Log Cabin Club in which he pledged: '[A]s we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.'"
There's more:
"During his 2001 run for governor, his campaign distributed bright pink flyers at the June Pride parade declaring 'Mitt and Kerry wish you a great Pride weekend!' During his inaugural speech, he said it was important to defend civil rights 'regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race.' He appointed eight openly gay and lesbian people to high profile positions in his administration. And before he decided to run for president — that is to say, before he needed to establish some strong anti-gay bonafides — Romney doubled the budget line item for the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. This would be the same commission, mind you, that Romney tried to disband in highly public fashion last May."
The Sky Never Fell

It should be noted that more than 8,000 gay couples in Massachusetts have exchanged vows in the state, since gay marriage became legal. This did not result in the state being smitten by a huge ball of divine fire, or the spontaneous destruction of Massachusetts' heterosexual unions and family units.

All it did was allow committed couples to have more state-guaranteed protections for their same-sex partners.

Interesting how homophobic bigots, who always seem to accuse gays of being immoral and promiscuous, are most upset that gay people be allowed to solidify a monogamous, committed relationship that would allow gays to protect their own family units.

The Last Word

In a story from the Nov. 21st edition of the Boston Globe, the following observation is made:
"He is a fraud -- this whole thing is a fraud," said Senator Jarrett T. Barrios of Cambridge, one of the legislators who voted to recess. "It is a ploy for his run for president. The Legislature had rejected his efforts to insert discrimination into the constitution."
I would say that Senator Barrios has Mitt Romney pegged perfectly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More Iraqi Blood And The Kissinger Flip-Flop

There was quite an astounding story today, regarding former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, now saying 'victory' in Iraq is no longer possible.

Specifically, during a BBC interview, Kissinger said,
"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi Government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible."
This comes on a day when more than 111 Iraqis were slaughtered, including at least 22 people who were killed when a suicide bomber, using the promise of work as a lure, blew up the vehicle he had herded the prospective day laborers into. The bodies of 56 murder victims, many of them tortured, were found in 3 Iraqi cities.

That is a page from the chaos that is now post-Saddam Iraq.

Yet, in a Washington Post Op-Ed from August 12, 2005, here is how Kissinger explained how the endgame in Iraq was supposed to play out:
"American strategy, including a withdrawal process, will stand or fall not on whether it maintains the existing security situation but on whether the capacity to improve it is enhanced. Victory over the insurgency is the only meaningful exit strategy."
State of Denial

Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial," which was published last month, further detailed the major influence Kissinger, and his 'victory' strategy, had on the Bush White House.

In an appearance to promote the book on "60 Minutes," Woodward noted,
"This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again. Because in his view the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will. That we didn’t stick to it."
How ironic that Kissinger's epiphany occurred while Bush was in Vietnam, the country he and his policy hawks very successfully avoided active duty in when we were at war there.

Now What?

Kissinger apparently thinks that the idea of an Iraqi Democracy may not be attainable after all, saying "It [was] a mistake to think that you can gain legitimacy primarily through the electoral process."

What does Kissinger see as the future reality in Iraq? A "confederal state," consisting of 3 Iraqi regions. The Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds would rule themselves "with substantial autonomy."

So what are we to make of this sudden realization that maybe our incursion into Iraq is not winnable, in its current incarnation, after all?

Will it lead to BushCo finally acknowledging the truth for himself?

Or will he continue the status quo, while the body bags pile up and Halliburton continues to rake in the profits?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why Is The Media So Eager to Undermine The Democrats?

So much for a honeymoon period.

No sooner had the Democrat majority in Congress gained a foothold in our consciousness, than the media powers-that-be decided to cut the Dem's legs out from under them.


How else to explain such stunning headlines as, "Pelosi Faces No-Win Outcome Over Murtha," which accompanied a widely-distributed story by the AP's Andrew Taylor on Wednesday?

In that story. Taylor noted,
"Murtha could prove to be a problematic candidate because of his penchant for trading votes for pork projects and his ties to the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, the only lawmaker involved who wasn't charged."
Oh yeah, he wasn't charged. But by the time one gets to that, the sliming is already in. Taylor very clearly makes his point that he views Murtha as a sellout. And a possibly corrupt one, as well.

So, what exactly makes this a no-win?

The Times Chimes In

And what of the New York Times?

In a story headlined, "Many Say Leadership Race Shatters Democrats' Image," Carl Hulse writes:
Downtrodden Republicans were enjoying the spectacle of the split between Representative Nancy Pelosi, the incoming speaker, who is publicly pushing Representative John P. Murtha, her longtime ally, and Democrats rallying behind Mr. Hoyer, who has served in the leadership slot beneath Ms. Pelosi for four years.

“I can’t believe they are self-destructing before they even get started,” said Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois. “Everyone on our side is giddy.” a contentious fight that featured the formerly-disgraced Trent Lott beating Lamar Alexander by a single vote for the job of minority whip, nobody raised such apocalyptic concerns.

Focusing On A "Snub"

After Nancy Pelosi was chosen as speaker and Hoyer won out over Murtha, the AP chose to frame their story this way:
Democrats embraced Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as the first woman House speaker in history, then quickly snubbed her, selecting a rival as her lieutenant against her wishes.
One would think that they might choose to focus a bit more on the historical fact that the first woman...the first Italian-American...had been selected unanimously to be speaker.

But no, the focus was on the snub.

Anybody want to lay odds on what the GOP talking points this week have been? Or how closely major media outlets have let those talking points rule the way this story has been covered?

Murtha, Hoyer, Pelosi Are All Winners

Make no mistake, all the parties involved have come out ahead.

Rep. Hoyer gets rewarded for helping fund many of his fellow Democrats' campaigns. Nancy Pelosi gets a unified 'seal of approval.' And Rep. Murtha comes out of this okay, as well. He will wind up with real power on the Iraqi front when he gets to chair a subcomittee that controls the Pentagon's purse-strings.

The Real Loser

The real loser in this story, once again, is the media.

The same media that allowed George Bush to invade Iraq unchallenged...that refused to examine Bush's war record while allowing Kerry to get lambasted for his...that has consistently allowed Bush to incorrectly frame his theft of Constitutional rights as a righteous fight in a mythological war on terror...has shown us their hand once again.

What I am wondering is why the media powers-that-be hate the Democrats so much?

Exactly what are they afraid of?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

2 Black Eyes...And Bloody Hands...For Fox

This has not been a good couple of days for Fox. They are in the midst of a public relations debacle of their own creation.

Will their credibility further erode? One can only hope.

Black Eye #1: The Moody Memo

The Huffington Post reported last Thursday on an internal memo at Fox News, sent by their Vice President of News, John Moody.

The memo read, in part,
"let's be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the proposal of a Dem-controlled Congress."
Later in the memo,
"just because the Dems won, the war on terror isn't over."
By all appearances, it certainly looks like Fox was looking for ways to discredit and undermine the Democrat's victory at the polls.

Leading up to the elections, a popular GOP talking point was how a victory by Democrats was also a victory for terrorists. This memo lends credence to those who charge that Fox is simply an extension of the Republican propaganda machine.

To date, John Moody has not denied that the memo is genuine.

Media Matters has prior examples of Moody memos that have surfaced in the past. They include this, from April 6, 2004,
On the war in Iraq: "Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of US lives and asking out loud why are we there? The US is in Iraq to help a country brutalized for 30 years protect the gains made by Operation Iraqi Freedom and set it on the path to democracy. Some people in Iraq don't want that to happen. That is why American GIs are dying. And what we should remind our viewers."
Wednesday, in the Huffington Post, Cenk Uygur brought up a justifiable comparison. If Dan Rather can be relegated to obscurity over charges that he slanted a story on Bush's National Guard duty, why should John Moody be held to a different standard?

As Uygur correctly pointed out, the charges against Rather merely found that Rather hadn't properly vetted his sources, as opposed to fitting the news to conform to an agenda.

What's Moody's excuse?

So much for "fair and balanced."

Black Eye #2: The O.J. Murder Simulation

It's bad enough that O.J. Simpson is about to release a book which details how he would have killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman if he...ahem...had actually done the crime.

The book. "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," is about to be published by Regan Books, a Rupert Murdoch property.

The National Enquirer was first to break the story. MSNBC, referring to the Enquirer article, had this to say,
The early part of the book tells how Simpson fell in love with Nicole and how the marriage collapsed, reports the tab. He goes on, according to the article, to describe in gruesome detail the killing of his ex-wife and Goldman; he stipulates that the murder scenes are “hypothetical.” But, notes the tab, the descriptions are “so detailed and so chillingly realistic” that readers are left with little doubt as to what really happened.

Simpson can never be retried for the murders because of double jeopardy laws, according to the Enquirer, which also claims that Simpson aims to keep any book money instead of paying it out in a civil suit judgment against him by spending it all quickly.
Word is that Simpson was paid 3.5 million to write the book.

To make matters worse, Fox, to maximize on Murdoch's investment, is now planning to air a 2-part television interview with Simpson that will echo the theme of the book.

The interview will air at the end of the all-important November sweeps.

Extra TV had this to say about what viewers can expect,
In the two-part sit-down interview, scheduled to air Nov. 27 and 29 on FOX, Simpson talks without boundaries about the 12-year-old murders as if he’d done it.
This is morality? These are the purported 'family values' that those who swear by Fox allegedly adhere to?

All I know is that some serious blood money is changing hands here and, in this case, Simpson's hands are no more crimson than those of Rupert Murdoch.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dems Give Lieberman A Standing Ovation

There is one major drawback, that I can think of, to the Democrats holding a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Joe Lieberman has way too much power.

The reality of the numbers is that the GOP and Dems have a 49-49 split, with the 2 Independent Senators (Bernie Sanders being the other) agreeing to caucus with the Democrats. If Lieberman goes GOP, on a party line vote, that brings us back to 50-50, with Dick Cheney breaking ties. It obviously would affect control of the individual committees as well.

Still, I found the following piece from CNN disturbing, to say the least:

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who bolted the Democratic party after losing a primary election this year to run as an independent, won a standing ovation at a closed meeting of all Senate Democrats Tuesday.

Lieberman was introduced by Democratic Leader Harry Reid who, according to Lieberman, told his colleagues that, "families go through crisis but we survived and I just want to welcome back Joe Lieberman."

"It's been a helluva year," Lieberman told the group before imploring them to heed the lessons of the midterm election and "be willing to compromise" with Republicans.

Lieberman, who now calls himself an "Independent Democrat," was asked if the warm reception helped remove lingering bitterness from the campaign when many of his closest Democratic allies supported his opponent Ned Lamont.

"You have experiences that naturally affect you. This year in many ways did change me," he said. "But you know, we're all adults and I'll work with everyone in my caucus and the Republican caucus as well.
I guess it will be easier for Sen. Lieberman, now that he has been given chairmanship of the Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee.

However, Lieberman's comments on Meet The Press should be an affront to every Democrat.

Among his choicer comments from that show:

I want to continue to work to bring the party back to its historic traditions of, of strength on national security, foreign policy and innovation, and progress in domestic policy—the, the Harry Truman/John F. Kennedy Democrat that, that I was raised to be.
In other words, Lieberman feels that the Democrats have it wrong on Iraq and terrorism. Joe will lead us back on the path to military righteousness.

I’ll work with anybody I agree on. I’m not going to—agree with on a matter. I’m not going to look at party labels, I’m going to look at, at what can we get done for our country and my state.
Joe will side with Dems, as long as the party takes the Lieberman position. How good of him.

I’m going to be an optimist, and take some encouragement from the fact that this was an election in which, in the House and Senate, Democrats came to the majority of both chambers by electing moderates mostly. This was an election that might be called the return of the center of American politics. And I think that my colleagues and leaders in the Democratic caucus get that. The fact is that this was not a major realignment election in my opinion.

I'm sure Ohio's Sherrod Brown loved this quote. This was a typically incorrect spin that has been echoed in the media, completely disregarding the many progressives who got elected, as well as the growing voter rejection of socially conservative positions.

I’m not going to start by threatening. I’m going to start by making clear what my priorities are, and I’m going to seek the support of, of my leadership and of members of both political parties.
I guess the threatening comes later.

The voters spoke on Tuesday that they’re unhappy with the status quo. I don’t believe that they, they want us to pick up and leave Iraq, because they know that that would have disastrous consequences on Iraq, the Middle East, and on our security against terrorism.
What exactly about America's eagerness to bring the troops home can Mr. Lieberman not fathom? And how dare he play the GOP game of tying Iraq to the war on terrorism?

And, for this, he gets a standing ovation.

Welcome to the madhouse.

Monday, November 13, 2006

CNN Applies White-Out To Mehlman Outing

Welcome to the age of media revisionism.

Last week, Bill Maher made an appearance on Larry King. On his show, he discussed his plans to out certain prominent Republicans. As King sat there dumbfounded, over the fact that a GOP leader could possibly be homosexual, Maher blurted out that one of the people he was referring to was Ken Mehlman. King, who apparently has been living in a cave for the last half-dozen years seemed dumbstruck by the revelation.

So CNN got out the bleach.

When the West Coast aired the show, the outing of Ken Mehlman was cut from the feed.

To make matters worse, CNN excised the comment from the transcripts. From their website:
MAHER: Well, there's a couple of big people who I think everyone in Washington knows who run the Republican...

KING: You will name them?

MAHER: Well, I wouldn't be the first. I'd get sued if I was the first. (A PORTION OF THIS TRANSCRIPT HAS BEEN REMOVED)

KING: ... why would someone who is gay take public anti-gay positions? Why would you do that?

MAHER: Because, Larry, hating yourself is the greatest love of all. Self-loathing.

KING: Great way to close out this segment. It's poignant.
But, CNN is not stopping there. They have issued a cease-and-desist order to You Tube and bloggers who posted the unedited interview.

(Click on the above form to enlarge it.)

Fortunately, not everyone is so easily cowed. The Huffington Post still has a copy of the video running.

For the before and after video and transcript, point your browser here.

As for Maher's promised outing of GOP operatives on his show...well, that never happened. In fact, he didn't even mention his appearance on King.

Gee, do you suppose that he just forgot?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rumsfeld To Be Charged With War Crimes

In a newly-released statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights has indicated that they plan to seek war crimes charges in a German court against outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The advocacy group, who is going to file their charges on Tuesday, provided the following synopsis of their actions:
On November 14, 2006, CCR will file a criminal complaint against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in German Court. The complaint requests the German Federal Prosecutor open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that will look into the responsibility of high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing war crimes in the context of the so-called "War on Terror." Former White House Counsel (and current Attorney General) Alberto Gonzalez, former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, and other high-ranking U.S. officials are also charged in the complaint. The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims – 11 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee – and is being filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Republican Attorneys' Association (RAV) and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck. The complaint is related to a 2004 complaint that was dismissed, but the new complaint is filed with substantial new evidence, new defendants and plaintiffs, a new German Federal Prosecutor and, most important, under new circumstances that include the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense and the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in the U.S. granting officials retroactive immunity from prosecution for war crimes. For full background on the complaint, please see the attached briefing paper.
That briefing paper can be accessed here.

While the story is not getting all that much coverage, there are notable exceptions.

Time Magazine's Adam Zegorin, reported on it as an 'exclusive.' The Time report notes,
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski — who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case — has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."

A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.
Zegorin's story also adds,
Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.

In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case — that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue — has been proven wrong.
Other outlets reporting on the case include The Voice of America, The New York Daily News and Reuters.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Will The Real Robert Gates Please Stand Up?

Who is Secretary of Defense nominee Robert Gates?

Is he the man who fixed intelligence around his agenda during Iran-Contra?

Or is he the problem-solver who currently serves on the Iraq Study Group panel?

David Corn examines the issue in his blog at The Nation.

First, the negatives:'s more of the same: another retread from the Bush I clan with a problematic past. Gates served as CIA director for the first President Bush in the early 1990s--and did so after contentious nomination hearings aired accusations that Gates had skewed intelligence analysis when he was a senior CIA manager. The allegations were quite serious. Several CIA analysts testified he had "politicized" intelligence reporting by making certain that estimates conformed to the conservative political viewpoints favored by the Reagan White House--most notably, that the Soviet Union was a more threatening adversary.
Fixing intelligence to support a policy decision...gee, where have we heard that before?

He further writes,
Gates' nomination to be CIA head was imperiled by other controversies. He had directly engaged in secret intelligence sharing with Iraq in 1986 that critics claimed was illegal. Gates, who apparently possesses a photographic memory, testified that he could not recall key aspects of the Iran-contra affair. Senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat, accused Gates, a career Soviet analyst, of having ignored the changes under way in that country in the late 1980s. "Mr. Gates got it dead wrong," Bradley complained in 1991. Bradley also charged that when Gates was the deputy CIA chief he had neglected the important task of collecting intelligence on Iraq. Despite all this, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the Gates nomination, and he served as CIA director for fourteen months. (In 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Gates to be CIA chief, and then the White House pulled his nomination in the midst of the Iran-contra scandal.)
But, just when you think defending the Secretary of Defense nominee is indefensible, Corn makes a couple of points in Gates' favor. After noting that Gates is not Donald Rumsfeld, Corn writes,
Gates is a conservative but a realist; he's no neocon. For instance, he's advocated trying to reach an accommodation with Iran. That impresses Gary Sick, who during the Jimmy Carter years worked on the National Security Council with Gates. Sick points to the fact that in 2004 Gates co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force that urged "a revised strategic approach to Iran" incorporating selective engagement with Tehran. This was a polite slam against the Axis-of-Evil approach of the Bush-Cheney administration. Sick, a critic of the administration and the Iraq war, views the Gates' nomination as a possible indicator that the Bush administration is turning from "neocon ideology to political realism."
Finally, Corn argues,
More important--and this is what's intriguing about the Gates nomination--Gates is a member of the Iraq Study Group, a panel chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Representative Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. The bipartisan commission's mission is to assess the situation in Iraq and propose policy options. Baker has already said that he believes a strategic shift is needed in Iraq and that his commission will produce specific recommendations in this regard. (The commission is reportedly considering different versions of disengagement, among other ideas.) Baker picked Gates to be on the commission, presumably with knowledge of Gates' thinking on the subject. Thus, it's no stretch to see Gates as an envoy (or a sleeper agent?) of the commission assigned to (or planted within) the Bush administration. Given other possible choices for the Pentagon job (Joe Lieberman?), it's somewhat heartening that Bush has invited into his Cabinet a non-neocon who has been working with Baker to find a way out of Iraq.
David Corn seems to be of the opinion that the good outweighs the bad here. Not that I expect it, but I would like to think the investigation of instances of possible intelligence-fixing would have to be sufficiently answered before I would approve of the decision to put the instruments of waging war into his hands.

But that's just me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

International Response To Dem Sweep

In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter victory than Election Day 2006 turned out to be. I am so appreciative of the countless number of people who worked so hard to achieve such an outstanding result. Howard Dean and the Dems got it right, after all. Finally, the system of checks-and-balances returns to America.

Here's some of what they're saying around the globe. Certainly, nobody seems to be dispassionate when it comes to American politics. Some of the articles were a bit more cynical of Democrats than I would have expected. It still makes for some interesting reading.

Shrill, revenge thirsty activists need balancing
London Times
The Democrats themselves know that they must balance the demands of their activists — who are thirsting for revenge on the Bush Administration and shrilly calling for troops to be brought home — with the needs of the centrist voters who gave them their victory in this election.

When Ms Pelosi took the stage at the Democrats’ exultant victory party in the small hours of the morning, there were wild cheers as she declared: “Mr President, we need a new direction in Iraq.” But the applause was noticeably more muted when she promised that Democrats would govern by “working together with the Administration and the Republicans in Congress.”
Revenge of the righteous right
Irish Examiner
Many hailed the results as a victory for democracy. It shows that people are free to object to the policy of their government, but to say that the vote was for “a change in direction”, as Senator Hillary Clinton and others stated, is a little simplistic.

What changes were people voting for? The American stock market has been at a record high in recent days, as is employment, while unemployment and taxes are at a twenty-year low.

Tax revenue is at a record high, and the value of people’s homes have more than doubled in recent years. Somehow, it seems unlikely that people were calling for a change of direction on those policies.

The American exit polls indicated that the main issue was not the Iraq War but the various scandals that plagued the Republicans in the past year. The election results apparently had more to do with the revenge of the righteous right, than the war in Iraq.
Quietly mourn a Republican passing
Times of India
Right, so the Democrats have come. It’s a train India saw coming, as did the rest of the world. But South Block will probably be one of a tiny minority that will quietly mourn a Republican passing.

...the bellwether issue in the new and improved US-India relations is the nuclear deal, and the Democrats are clear opponents. What’s keeping fingers crossed here is, will the deal make it through the lame-duck session of the Senate with Democrats taking over Capitol Hill? The underlying fear here is if the Bill were to go back to the drawing board in January, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives may insert conditions that could make it very difficult for India to swallow.
Pelosi will sicken Republican conservatives
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Nancy Pelosi, a hate figure for the Republican right, is poised to become the first woman speaker in United States Congressional history after the Democrats election triumph

...The prospect of the high-profile San Francisco politician assuming the high-ranking position will sicken Republican conservatives.

Republican congressman Roy Blunt summed up the mood of her critics on the right before the election, describing the idea of Pelosi becoming speaker as "plain scary".

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day Quotes To Remember

The stakes in the 2008 presidential elections are higher than they have ever been in our history.

If we cannot get a decent turnout...if we allow ourselves to be apathetic and complacent...and if we allow dirty tricks to steal our votes...then we are seriously in danger of losing America's soul.

I urge everybody to not just vote, but actively encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Imagine the scenario that would occur if, with the current state of affairs under Bush, he emerges on Wednesday with continued unchecked power.

In that spirit, here are some quotes to remember, as we prepare to alter the course of American history.

James Garfield
Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.
George Jean Nathan
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
The average man votes below himself; he votes with half a mind or a hundredth part of one. A man ought to vote with the whole of himself, as he worships or gets married. A man ought to vote with his head and heart, his soul and stomach, his eye for faces and his ear for music; also (when sufficiently provoked) with his hands and feet. If he has ever seen a fine sunset, the crimson color of it should creep into his vote. The question is not so much whether only a minority of the electorate votes. The point is that only a minority of the voter votes.
John F. Kennedy
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.
Abraham Lincoln
The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Tom Stoppard
It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting.
Matthias Burnett
Look well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust.
Marian Wright Edelman
People who don't vote have no line of credit with people who are elected and thus pose no threat to those who act against our interests.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.

Let's hope we don't fall victim to the apathy Plato refers to.

Have a productive Election Day and know that each vote has the potential to change the disastrous course our nation has taken under BushCo.

It's time to take back America.

(the above is a reposting of a blog post I put up 2 years ago, with an update on the year. Everything else in the post was as relevant as when I first posted it)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

GOP Scandal Source Sheet

Thanks to Talking Points Memo for initially providing a summary of current Congressional members having been publicly identified as being under investigation, the vast majority being Republicans.

I am taking things one step further and providing hyperlinks to the facts of the ongoing investigations into governmental corruption, from Sourcewatch. I am also including hyperlinks to contact media outlets that might have impact in the politician's district or state. Feel free to share this information.

Election Day is almost here. A last-minute letter to the editor may not make a difference, but it couldn't hurt. I am only including scandals that effect politicians up for re-election.

If you know of any other investigations I may have missed, please include them in the comments section, but only if you use the same format. In other words, please provide a link that sources the information you give. If time allows, I will include an update on this page.

Rep. Rick Renzi
Charge: Investigated for ties to former business partner
Lead Prosecution Office: U.S. Attorney in Phoenix
Link to charges: Sourcewatch
Link to send a letter to the editor: Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff)

Rep. John Doolittle
Charge: Investigated for connection to Jack Abramoff
Lead Prosecution Office: DOJ's Public Integrity Unit
Link to charges: Sourcewatch
Link to send a letter to the editor: Roseville Press Tribune, Auburn Tribune (for both, select 'send us letters')

Rep. Jerry Lewis
Charge: Lobbyist, contractor ties (a la Duke Cunningham)
Lead Prosecution Office: U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles
Link to charges: Sourcewatch
Link to send a letter to the editor: Redlands Daily Facts (editor@redlandsdailyfacts")

Sen. Conrad Burns
Charge: Connections to Jack Abramoff
Lead Prosecution Office: DOJ's Public Integrity Unit
Link to charges: Sourcewatch
Link to send a letter to the editor: Billings Gazette, The Missoulian (, Great Falls Tribune, Montana Standard (Butte, select 'feedback questions'), Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Helena Independent Record (

Rep. Curt Weldon
Charge: Daughter's ties to contractors
Lead Prosecution office: DOJ's Public Integrity Office
Link to charges: Sourcewatch
Link to send a letter to the editor: (District is west of Philadelphia)Philadelphia Inquirer (, Philadelphia Daily News (

Friday, November 03, 2006

Haggard & Worn: The Myth, The Man, Meth & Massage

Ted Haggard, top-dog evangelist, has resigned his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after a gay prostitute accused him of paying for sex, with a topping of crystal meth.

So, has Rev. Haggard admitted to hooking up with his accuser, Mike Jones?

Well, sort of.

You see, according to Haggard, he bought the meth but didn't use it. Haggard also said, he hooked up with Jones, but just to get a massage.
Okay, we get it, he didn't inhale. And, of course, a man who made a career out of preaching discrimination against gays is going to make sure that the massage he receives is from a male prostitute. It all makes perfect sense.

Haggard Compares Himself To Kerry

While this story continues to develop, could it have a more bizarre beginning?

According to Raw Story, Haggard had this to say in a KABC interview, shortly after the accusations surfaced:
"We live in a crazy world. As you know, John Kerry said some things and we all know he didn't mean what they're saying he meant."
I'm sure John Kerry will appreciate the defense.

No Moral Obligation To "Tell Everything You Know, Up Front"

From a piece at Editor & Publisher, there may be a reason that Haggard is providing details in drips and drabs:
In a January 31, 2004, article in the Times on emerging uses of the Internet, Haggard said: ''You have a moral obligation not to be deceitful. But you don't have a moral obligation to tell everything you know upfront.''
I'm not sure how Haggard doesn't see himself as deceitful. But, 'massages' can mean different things to different people.

I suppose it all depends upon what's being massaged.

Defender Of Family?

What we are left with is a man who was a driving force behind putting an anti-gay marriage initiative on the Colorado ballot who, if these charges are true, had a 3-year extra-marital sexual relationship with a gay man that included drugs.

If true, a man who sought to make sure that gay people could not form legally-protected monogamous unions cheated on his wife to engage in a gay tryst of his own.

Could preventing gay marriage merely have been a petulant way of ensuring that he would have a larger pool of single gay men to choose from?

And, if these charges are true, what does that say about trotting out his wife and kids to be with him while he defends himself?

The Lies Have Already Begun

We already know that Haggard initially denied knowing Jones and now he says that not only did he get meth from him, but a massage as well. The lies have begun.

Haggard says he got referred to Jones by a hotel concierge.

Interestingly, today on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC program, Mr. Jones said he only advertised in gay publications and websites and a hotel would never give out his name to somebody seeking a massage.

Going Down

It's fairly clear where this is going and the mega-church that Haggard heads is doing its best at damage control. After all, there is a vast amount of money at stake and, when it comes to the evangelical movement, it's really all about the Benjamins.

Or, in this case, the Mikes.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Olbermann: Where Is the Bush Apology?

Call it too much of a good thing, but the more Keith Olbermann delivers his 'special comments,' the less attention he seems to get for his riveting oratory. Too bad, because those moments are about the only compelling reason to even tune into the cable news networks.

On Wednesday, in the aftermath of the unfortunate Kerry 'apology,' a low moment in this campaign season for both the GOP, who welcomed the distraction, and the Democrats, who let Kerry twist in the wind, Olbermann gave another classic dressing-down of George Bush and his lackeys.

Rightfully, criticizing Democrats for being "too cordial," Olbermann called on President Bush to issue an apology of his own:

This president must apologize to the troops for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, “look like just a comma.”

This president must apologize to the troops because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.

This president must apologize to the troops for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence at a banquet while our troops were in harm’s way.

This president must apologize to the troops because the streets of Iraq were not strewn with flowers and its residents did not greet them as liberators.

This president must apologize to the troops because his administration ran out of “plan” after barely two months.

This president must apologize to the troops for getting 2,815 of them killed.

This president must apologize to the troops for getting this country into a war without a clue.

And Mr. Bush owes us an apology for this destructive and omnivorous presidency.

We will not receive them, of course.

This president never apologizes.

There is far more to what Olbermann said and I have provided a link to his MSNBC site below for both a full transcript and the video.

Something that Keith Olbermann addressed briefly in his piece, which I think deserves a comment all its own is the president's cozying up to Rush Limbaugh, after Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease. Why did the media not demand an apology there? And why was Bush not challenged for appearing with a man who would unapologetically attack somebody's disability?

Limbaugh never apologized, yet Bush, this pathetic excuse for a leader, gives Limbaugh validity by appearing on his show to curry favor with ditto-heads. Where is the outrage over that?

There is none, of course, because the media is complicit with the soulless GOP and spineless Democrats just roll over and hope it all goes away so that they can slither into the majority.

Somebody should tell them they still have Diebold to contend with.

The link to the full transcript and video of Mr. Olbermann's latest 'must-see tv' is available here.