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Friday, April 30, 2004

We must liberate the people of Iraq.

That's our story and we should stick to it. Here is the text of a letter I just sent to the Des Moines Register.
I read with growing horror the AP story about the sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. The international press is showing photographs of gleeful American soldiers, both men and women, giving the "thumbs up" sign in front of naked prisoners forced to pose as if they were engaged in sexual acts, even forced to perform sexual acts. The international press also is revealing the fact that our U.S. soldiers were being supervised by a contractor in charge of interrogating these prisoners. Another contractor has been accused of raping a prisoner, but the military has no jurisdiction to charge him.

I think this appalling set of incidents highlights the need for us to be specific about our purpose in Iraq. It is no longer to protect ourselves; as it happens, Iraq the State was never in a position to hurt us and our being there has only created more enemies for us. I agree with the President, that we are there to liberate people from oppression. At least, I think that as we press on, we must claim this as our moral foundation. It must infuse every decision we make, everything we do. If it did, there would be an immediate removal of all of the estimated 20,000 mercenaries, because by definition, they do not answer to moral principles. We would relinquish control of the war and its spoils to the international community as well, because as it happens, we are mere invaders, and invaders do not have moral authority. We would increase our support for our brave troops, with the body armor they need to protect themselves, the training they need to carry out their missions in service to our moral principles, a living wage so they can feed their families. These are just a few immediate outcomes of our taking a moral stand.

First, we must face the terrible consequences of our reckless and unprincipled march to war, and we must learn from them.

Sincerely...




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The personal is political.

Like many other liberals, radicals, progressives, and whatever else we are on the left, I am concerned about the conflation of church and state in this country. It occurs to me that the stake in political life that the evangelicals are claiming, especially through their conduit El Presidente, is the same stake that feminists began claiming more than 3 decades ago. I would argue that the overarching referential frame of the feminist intellectual project, was and remains the assumption that politics infuse our everyday lives.



No doubt drawing from our superior scholarship, the evangelicals have become temporarily more effective at demonstrating the other direction of the equation: the political is personal. I really can't argue with that. Some feminists, for instance, have demonstrated how the patriarchy of family structures reinforces the patriarchy of a society, for instance.

Of course we should all participate in public life from a principled position. Since the enlightenment, however, we on the left have become increasingly diverse in our thinking about thinking itself, along the lines of faith and reason. The most prominent trend in collective cognitive development among us has been a trend toward reason as a foundation for decision-making, with faith and emotion taking a back seat. Feminist theorists like Dorothy Smith came along and rescued us from the iron cage of pure reason, to argue convincingly how everyday experiences and perceptions must be our starting point in understanding social forces and policies. On the left, we struggle to keep a place at the table for faith, emotion, and embodied experience.

On the right, faith, at least, has enjoyed a surge in popularity. At the same time, the right has insisted on "scientifically based" or "evidence based" scholarship, only to throw out the evidence that doesn't support their faith-based convictions. Although we on the left are unified to fight the right, I think many of us feel concerned about how contingent our affiliations feel, how tentative. When I was at the county Democratic convention, I uneasily spoke with a variety of people whose opinions were rather contrary to my own. Those who felt a passion for their guns. Those who were opposed to same-sex marriage. Those who felt their Christianity was disdained by the Democratic Party.

Many of us on the left are struggling to gaze at the world in a holistic, multifaceted way, combining rationality with other ways of knowing into a coherent, cohesive, yet flexible way of decision-making. I don't really know the minds of those on the right, but my sense is that their goals are similar. Perhaps the only difference is their comfort in putting faith first.

More later...

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

You read my mind.


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Must. not. act. smug.

Bill Maher rocked on Hardball.

The true axis of evil in America is the brilliance of our marketing combined with the stupidity of our people. George Bush has $180 million to spend. With that kind of money, he could convince Americans to drink paint, and he probably will.

With enough money, you can convince people of anything. And that is what George Bush does. He is one of the most cynical presidents we‘ve ever had, I believe, because with that kind of money, he plays on people‘s fears, he plays on people‘s ignorance, and he plays on people‘s shortsightedness.


Okay, read the rest, because it was all good. The thing is, the good guys are always so intelligent and articulate and logical, which just pisses the bad guys off more. Because they're not.


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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

She's havin' my baby!

Okay, I take back everything I've ever said about reality television, especially the part about how vulgar yet fascinating it is. Consider "My big fat idiotic fiance" or whatever the hell that was. Or getting dead drunk and sleeping with near strangers on camera in Road Rules. Definitely the midget wedding thing was noteworthy for its garish allure. But this makes all the rest seem tastefully subtle.

In a unique television event, Barbara Walters documents a young birth mother's journey as she selects who, among five anxious couples vying for a child of their own, will become parents to her child.

The 20/20 special: Be My Baby airs this Friday, April 30 at 10 p.m. ET.

"I was basically deciding if they're going to have children or not. I was kind of playing God," says Jessica, 16, about her heartwrenching choice of who would adopt and raise her unborn baby boy while allowing her to continue to play a part in his life.

20/20 cameras are there as each couple tries to convince the pregnant girl that they would be the best parents for her soon-to-be-born baby. But after all of the heartache, will the 8½-month pregnant high school sophomore really be ready to sign away her legal rights once the baby is born and she can hold him in her arms?


Why stop with these courageous, yet unlucky folks? Why not have Survivor Everglades, with immigrant slave workers in Florida competing for the chance to win a million dollars? Thrills, chills, hilarity ensue as the contestants hide from the boss. How about "When Husbands Attack," which traces the dramatic journey of an abusive husband's rise to ultimate power when he kills his wife, and his hard fall to being punked in prison? There's a feel-good twist at the end as the producers give his motherless children a check for $500,000!

I think the most exciting reality show of the era would be a Fear Factor/Bootcamp kinda show, with Barbara Walters, Aaron Brown, Rush Limbaugh, and every other "journalist" who has offended me this week (I hesitate to count or I'll get no work done today whatsoever). Dress em up in fatiques, put em through the basic training we're giving Iraqi soldiers, and send em on a mission in Fallujah. I'd watch and I know you would, too. I hope the networks are reading.





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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The glamorous life of a sophisticated international cosmopolitan

I've been posting pretty lightly because I'm working night and day on a deadline. The next coupla weeks are going to be hell, and then I'll be traveling to Ukraine for 3 weeks. I'm not counting on internet access while I'm there, so my blog might go dormant for a while beginning May 12.

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I have my ups and down.

Today I participated in a meeting with our Secretary of State, Chet Culver, who is in line to run for governor next time around. He was meeting with some people to brainstorm ideas about how to get out the vote here in Iowa, and of course to convince us to organize all these events leading up to the election in November. There are some very exciting organizational structures to tag along with. For example, the New Voters Project is a coordinated grassroots effort to register and turn out college students. The Hip Hop Summit Action Network is targeting young African Americans. It is always exhilarating to see people working for democracy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

The gummint's finally caught on to the blogosphere.

People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.

Blogs, short for Web logs, are personal online journals. Individuals post them on Web sites to report or comment on news especially, but also on their personal lives or most any subject.

Some blogs are whimsical and deal with "soft" subjects. Others, though, are cutting edge in delivering information and opinion.

As a result, some analysts say U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials might be starting to track blogs for important bits of information. This interest is a sign of how far Web media such as blogs have come in reshaping the data-collection habits of intelligence professionals and others, even with the knowledge that the accuracy of what's reported in some blogs is questionable.


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Sunday, April 25, 2004


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Through the looking glass.

Okay, I take back every bad thing I've ever said about Maureen Dowd. I'm surprised this got past her editor.
It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it...




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Friday, April 23, 2004

They used to get prizes, now they get fired.

A photo like the one in my header used to get a pulitzer prize. Now the photographer gets fired.




I realize that I had a post on this a coupla days ago, but I'm just too annoyed about it to let it drop. EDIT: So here's my idea: just drop copies of these pictures around town, on college campuses, in coffee shops, pin them up where people pin up their business cards. It's easy to print wallet sized versions on a home printer. I'm trying to figure out what a good little message would be to put on the back of them. A simple "Think" ? or a pointer to one or more websites for more information? What do you think?


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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Shut the fuck up. Really.

Kos writes:

So is this what the GOP wanted when they made Kerry's records an issue? Now, they are forced to sheepishly stand down.
Republicans said they had simply questioned Kerry's initial refusal to make the records available because he claimed on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that all of his military records were open for inspection.

"We hope that he has now made good on his pledge and made all of his records available," said Christine Iverson, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Translation: we were tricked into giving Kerry a huge platform to discuss what a badass Rambo-esque mother-f'er he is, contrasted to Bush's life of privilege and avoidance of any real sacrifice or responsibility while passing the time with all-day pool volleyball games with "ambitious secretaries."


The 'thugs need to stop talking now. Really. It just makes it worse.

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Oh for fuck's sake!

A bill calling for premarital counseling for Iowa couples is on its way to Gov. Tom Vilsack, who said he was undecided about whether he'll support the legislation.

House File 2455, passed by the Senate on a 33-14 vote Tuesday, is a less sweeping version of a "covenant marriage" proposal that would have given prospective spouses the option of entering tighter marriage contracts, which would have been harder to break by divorce.

The bill would require most couples to obtain premarital counseling or wait 20 days before they could obtain a marriage license.

The regular waiting period is three days.
...
The bill, which also calls for divorcing parents to file plans on how they would handle parenting duties, was previously approved by the House on a 77-20 vote.


Just fill in the potholes, goddammit!

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These soldiers will not have died in vain, if their deaths help end the war.

Of course, the current government doesn't see it that way. Tami Silicio, the person who took the picture of the flag draped coffins of fallen American soldiers shown above, has been fired from her position as a contractor in Kuwait. Her husband also has been fired.
Silicio was let go yesterday for violating U.S. government and company regulations, said William Silva, president of Maytag Aircraft, the contractor that employed Silicio at Kuwait International Airport.
...
Maytag's Silva said the decision to terminate Silicio's and Landry's employment was made by the company. But he said the U.S. military had identified "very specific concerns" about their actions. Silva declined to detail those concerns.

"They were good workers, and we were sorry to lose them," Silva said. "They did a good job out in Kuwait and it was an important job that they did."

Sounds like more than a little pressure was applied. Why can't we see the consequences of your actions, Mr. Bush?

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Shame shame shame!

From CNN Newsnight with Aaron Brown:


BROWN: Two questions. The criticism is essentially about one of three Purple Hearts is that correct?

WALLACE: Correct.

BROWN: That's it?

WALLACE: That -- some -- that's it with his former commanding officer, a) how extensive the injury and, b) more importantly, did he sustain -- was it because of enemy fire? You get a Purple Heart if you get an injury due to enemy fire.

BROWN: As opposed to the shrapnel coming from a friendly side, I guess?

WALLACE: Yes, or self-inflicted or some injury that a colleague might have imposed.

BROWN: So, now the other question is, is more troublesome I think to me. They said they were going to have this stuff out there all day, correct?

WALLACE: Absolutely.

BROWN: And we're at almost 10:30 Eastern time now. Is it all out there yet?

WALLACE: No, and I checked before I came up here. The same nine pages that were put up just an hour ago are still there and we're told some 150 pages from the Navy will be posted.

BROWN: And do we have any idea why it's taking them so long?

WALLACE: The sense is they say that they have to sort of scan these documents, download them to get them on the Web site but we are sensing some frustration internally about how the campaign handled this.

BROWN: OK, I guess you know what you're doing tomorrow.

WALLACE: I think I know my assignment.

BROWN: I think you do, too.

Thank you very much, Kelly Wallace, tonight.


First of all, any American soldier wounded as a result of enemy action is entitled to the Purple Heart. The rules are written to indicate that the entitlement is to be judged broadly and inclusively, rather than defined narrowly. Clearly, there is no question that Kerry was entitled to his first purple heart. The more agregious statement in this transcript, however, is the suggestion that Kerry's wound was self-inflicted or the result of friendly fire. It's just sick to take this conversation out of the context of the actual fighting in which Kerry was engaged when he was wounded. All of these idiots should spend 20 minutes in the middle of combat.

Of course with the benefit of a few hours hindsight, it's clear that Kerry did make his service records available, even though Fuckhead Brown found a few hours' delay troublesome.

Aaarggggh! I don't know why this particular exchange set me off. Sometimes the other stuff is just too big to contemplate.



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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

At Eschaton, peter ramus writes:

I oppose the draft for empirical reasons, having experienced it myself in a once-famous war.

There is nothing at all to recommend it, nothing, except to those who avoid its imposition.

They will manage to have their own more objective view of the matter, is what I've found.

Although I favored avoiding the draft no less than the next fellow did in the last few years of the sixties, I failed to embody its avoidance at the time, as did those more happily disposed fellows who were not called to serve for all their many good reasons for not serving, and who from all reports, had quite a zany time of it instead.

Many of these people were the smart kind of people who given the rational choice between, say, going to war or going to college, and the freedom to act on that choice, chose to go to college and in fact did go to college instead. Anyone not free to act on that simple rational choice, or choosing not to employ its rather straightforward plan of avoidance for whatever peculiar reason, had his other avenues of avoidance, including, and especially, the National Guard.

Objectively, among the avoiders, is where the decisions about the draft's utility are always settled, so have at it.

I say no.


Peter says it very well. No matter what they say, no matter who they are, don't believe them. The draft will not put children of privilege in harm's way. It will only oblige more poor, working poor, and lower middle class sons and daughters to lay down their lives for the follies of rich mostly white guys who have truly gone off their rockers.




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Million moms' MARCH!

We will not send our babies to an illegal war involuntarily.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

At Eschaton, Preznit giv me turkee writes, "Let me be first to blame all our troubles on the failed Kerry presidency and welcome our insect overlords."

Very funny in a depressing sort of way.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Well, when you put it that way...

El Presidente's resume.

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My obsession.

Every time I get a couple of drinks in me, I try to reconstruct what the hell I was doing if I wasn't completely out of my mind and marching daily during the run-up to war. Unlike many people who were finally convinced that war was the right thing to do on that day in February, I believe that I really came down against this war after hearing Colin Powell address the U.N. security council. I went into my research methods class that night, and led an hour long discussion about why his talk was an example of poor research and poor reporting, and why he would have failed the class.

So where was my head at prior to that day?

I think it began with September 11, 2001. I was reading an internet discussion group about the television show "Survivor," of all things, drinking my morning coffee, and nursing my 3 month old son. Among all the jokes, someone posted a message about praying for our friends in NYC. I turned on CNN and watched with horror as the second plane hit the tower. I spent the rest of the morning tracking the disaster -- the Pentagon and then the missing plane that eventually crashed in Pennsylvania -- trying to reach friends and family in New York and DC, and trying to track down my parents whose plane to Mexico had been grounded in Houston.

After 9/11, I came to a decision that I had to trust this president. I believed he had stolen the 2000 election, I believed he was incompetent, I believed the people around him were corrupt. But I didn't have anywhere else to turn. I had to give these people an opportunity to lead. So I set my misgivings aside and gave Bush a chance. The only thing I did was to hang a giant peace sign out in front of our house, to urge contemplation before retribution, in the hopes that Bush and others would rise to the occasion presented by 9/11 and work for global peace and progress.

And I waited and I cooperated by not protesting loudly everything the administration said and did. I wanted them to be good leaders and good global citizens, because there was no one else there. It was not until I heard Colin Powell that I realized that they were too corrupt to rise to the occasion. What has since come to pass is exactly what I was afraid of, and what I found too horrible to contemplate at the time.

I mark February 5, 2003 as the day I began to work hard for change.

Moveon.org has put together an inspirational book entitled "50 Ways to Love Your Country" which includes 50 essays about participating in and strengthening democracy. There are all kinds of big and little things you can do -- it doesn't have to be marching or chaining yourself to the White House gate. It can be little things, like talking about why this war is wrong with anyone you encounter, writing letters, posting on a blog, visiting your state capital.

It's a little embarrassing sometimes when people look at me like I'm crazy. And I am a little crazy, a little obsessed. I am doing my part to make this right, and that includes demanding that my leaders, in spite of their flaws and in some cases, corruption, do the right thing.




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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Tom Harkin, you better not be doing anything but working to stop the war

Dear Senator Harkin:

I am writing to learn what Democratic leaders like you are doing to turn this Iraq quagmire around. I realize the 9/11 commission is still working, as is the Iraq war commission, the independent counsel looking into the Plame affair, and a bunch of other investigative bodies looking into bunches of other scandals.

We who were against the war were absolutely right. The President and his people lied to get us into the war, and a lot of Democrats, including you, went along with it even though there was little evidence for it. Now, the least you can do is stand up for your constituents who are sacrificing their sons and daughters for an illegal war.

Why has not one of these liars lost her/his job? Why are you not demanding it? What are you, personally, doing to get us out of there, and to make Iraq right? You and everyone else who authorized this president to go to war owe it to the thousands of dead and maimed, to do everything in your power, every day and every night of your life, to stop this war.

Sincerely,

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Get your war on.

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Why aren't men of fighting age allowed to leave Fallujah?

There is nowhere in Falluja that is safe . The only place people can go is Baghdad. At the checkpoint leaving Falluja towards Baghdad, women and children have been trying to leave, but in cars driven by men (women don't drive here) so they weren't allowed out. They are not letting men aged 14 to 45 - of "fighting age" - leave the city.

We negotiated so that one male driver was allowed per car through the checkpoint. But people fear that once a large proportion of women and children leave, the Americans will destroy the city.


It's scarily reminiscent of the genocide in Bosnia, where all men were interred in concentration camps. Please let it not be the case.


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Irony is dead, part 38.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) urged the chairman of the Sept. 11 commission yesterday to tone down "partisan mudslinging" by its members, saying it could undermine the credibility of the final report.


Have they handed down the indictments yet?




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Friday, April 16, 2004

They stole our fuckin money!

According to Bob Woodward:

"President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, 'What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq?' What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret," says Woodward.

"...The end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. ...Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."


Goddammit!




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Thursday, April 15, 2004

A day late and a dollar short.

El Prez says,

I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes. I'm confident I have. I just haven't -- you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.


Translation: It really is fucking hard to act humble.




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Saturday, April 10, 2004

From the AP:

Refugees stream out of Fallujah, leaving behind their men and their dead, buried in a soccer field

By Associated Press, 4/9/2004 22:58

ADVERTISEMENT
FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) The people of Fallujah carried their dead to the city's soccer stadium and buried them under the field on Friday, unable to get to cemeteries because of a U.S. siege of the city.

As the struggle for Fallujah entered a fifth day, hundreds of women, children and the elderly streamed out of the city. Marines ordered Iraqi men of ''military age'' to stay behind, sometimes turning back entire families if they refused to be separated.

''A lot of the women were crying,'' said Lance Cpl. Robert Harriot, 22, of Eldred, N.Y. ''There was one car with two women and a man. I told them that he couldn't leave. They tried to plead with me. But I told them no, so they turned around.''

From Andrew Sullivan's blog, a marine writes home:

Things have been busy here. You know I can't say much about it. However, I do know two things. One, POTUS has given us the green light to do whatever we needed to do to win this thing so we have that going for us. Two, and my opinion only, this battle is going to have far reaching effects on not only the war here in Iraq but in the overall war on terrorism. We have to be very precise in our application of combat power. We cannot kill a lot of innocent folks (though they are few and far between in Fallujah).


I don't think it's accurate that everyone left in Fallujah is not innocent since some are apparently being kept there against their will.

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You don't have to go too far back to figure out that Condoliar LIED.

President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday.

The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001...


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So long, and thanks for all the fish!

I'll be out of town for nearly a week, so I'm not sure I'll be able to blog. Don't miss me too much (Ananna, this means YOU!).


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Friday, April 09, 2004

LIAAARRRR!

Condosleazy Rice
:
It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.



The Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's August 2001 briefing on terrorism threats, described largely as a historical document, included information from three months earlier that al-Qaida was trying to send operatives into the United States for an explosives attack, according to several people who have seen the memo.

The so-called presidential daily briefing, or PDB, delivered to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001 - a month before the Sept. 11 attacks - said there were various reports that Osama bin Laden had wanted to strike inside the United States as early as 1997 and continuing into the spring of 2001, the sources told The Associated Press.

The same month as that briefing of Bush, U.S. intelligence officials received two uncorroborated reports suggesting terrorists might use airplanes, including one that suggested al-Qaida operatives were considering flying a plane into a U.S. embassy, current and former government officials said.

Those August 2001 reports - among thousands of varied and uncorroborated threats received by the government each month - weren't deemed credible enough to tell the president or his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the officials said. Neither involved the eventual Sept. 11 plot.

The sources who read the presidential memo would only speak on condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet declassified the highly sensitive document, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States."





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Even Tomato Observer needs a break every now and then.


I went to see Prince in concert last night and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. A perfect concoction of funk, soul, rhythm and blues, slathered with rock and roll, served up on a platter of brilliant showmanship. The music itself is dazzling, so there's not so much laser lighting wackiness, but just enough prettiness to hold you visually when you're not dancing blindly to the beat.

Prince has earned his place as an international phenom, and he's done it his way. In the 90's, he thumbed his nose at the record company by dropping his name in favor of an unpronounceable symbol. He risked sinking into obscurity here in the U.S., even as he maintained his stardom in other parts of the world. But now he's back, and he's more beloved than ever.

Interesting article here.



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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Holy CRAP.

Where the FUCK are Bush, Cheney, and Rummy. While our sons and daughters die, where the FUCK are they???!!! I used to think tar and feathering would be appropriate, but now I'm thinking stocks, scarlet A's, and a public hanging. I'm against the death penalty on principle, but there's apparently an exception to every rule.




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Brooklyn Rob has this to say about Condi's testimony, at Eschaton:
Did we know Bin Laden was going to attack the U.S.? You bet we did.
Did we take every precaution to save our own hides? Absolutely.
Did we care that innocent lives would be lost? Not at all.
Do I look just like Skeletor? As close as you can come while still having skin.

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Someday, a cartoon character will be president!

Yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld explained
Things are -- we're trying to explain how things are going, and they are going as they are going. And we're here pointing out what's taking place in the country. Some things are going well and some things obviously are not going well. And you have -- you're going to have good days and bad days, as we've said from the outset. And this is a moment in Iraq's path towards a democratic and a free system. And it is one moment, and there will be other moments. And there will be good moments and there will be less good moments.

Yep, they're going, all right.
Washington Post: U.S. forces have suffered their bloodiest week in Iraq since just before the fall of Baghdad a year ago, reporting 40 combat deaths in the seven days from March 31 to April 6.

New York Times: The Iraqi uprising against the American-led occupation intensified Wednesday and spread to new parts of the country, with United States forces increasing their efforts to put down Sunni and Shiite combatants.

L.A. Times: The widespread insurgency that has erupted in Iraq in recent days may be the first stages of a second war for the country that could determine whether the conflict degenerates into a military bog for the United States.

Is this a good moment, or a less good moment?



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Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Good morning, sunshine! How can we piss off the world today?

So, I have this fantasy that El Presidente spins a wheel every day; it looks sort of like this:



except there's a little project on each mark, each in service to this administration's mission to fuck up the world so badly that we just nuke ourselves to put us out of our collective misery.

Dick (with a capital Dick) Cheney's job is to come up with new projects.

Today, we bombed a mosque. You can't say these guys aren't focused.


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Thanks for stating the obvious.

I'm glad Ted Kennedy is saying things like this. It used to not require so much power to do so.

How do we reestablish the working relationships we need with other countries to win the war on terrorism and advance the ideals we share? And how can we possibly expect President Bush to do that? He's the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam. And this country needs a new president.


Stay away from small planes, Senator.


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Irony, R.I.P.

From the Washington Post General Kimmitt's take on the Iraqi insurgents:
In Baghdad itself, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq, vowed "to destroy" the Mahdi militia led by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, which is based in the slums of Sadr city.

"These militias that take to violence will become targets," Kimmitt said.



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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Scream. It's the only rational response.
"Despite the widespread unrest, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said there is "no question" that coalition forces are in control of the country.

"I know if you just report on those few places, it does look chaotic," Bremer said.

"But if you travel around the country ... what you find is a bustling economy, people opening businesses right and left, unemployment has dropped."

Meanwhile, all hell has broken loose in Iraq.


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Here's what I wrote to David Brooks, whose column in the NY Times this morning was preposterous.

Today's column was insulting. It's intellectually dishonest to put all liberals in the same category as right wingers. It's intellectually dishonest to lump all conservatives in with the right wingers. Many of us on both sides of the aisle long for the good old days when honest to God conservatives ruled the republican party, instead of the corrupt power hungry freaks who are calling the shots these days. Do you, sir, really wish to be placed in the same category as some of the lying, cheating, incompetent ideologically driven leaders of your party?

We all have had to suffer with right wing radio for a very long time, which has contributed to these horrible peoples' power. If you look at the program line-up for talk radio in my town, you will see nothing but Rush Limbaugh (remember, the one who compared the Clinton's teenaged daughter to a dog?) and worse, including Michael Savage (remember, the one who told homosexuals they deserved to die?).

Now, all of a sudden, people in the mainstream media are in a tizzy because there's a liberal radio station. Now, after years of having nothing but hate radio in our commercial radio airwaves, you think we have a problem.

Stop apologizing for the people who have ruined the republican party, have taken us all into an illegal war built on lies, and stand at the ready to devastate this country. In fact, take a long hard look at what you personally have done to contribute to the run-up to war. After you get over feeling suicidal (and any rational person would), make it a point to be a better man for the rest of your life, trying to make this country and this world a better place.

We need some real fiscal conservatives who give a damn about leaving something worth having to our kids. We need some real social progressives who give a damn about democracy. You are just standing in the way of positive progress.



I don't think I can take much more of this.


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Monday, April 05, 2004

I guess I'm not the only one who's freaking out.

Jim Lehrer interviewed Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joe Biden (D-DE) tonight. From Lugar and Biden, here are some choice comments (edit: at length, there is no way to condense what these men are saying) with respect to El Presidente's "plan" to turn over power to an interim Iraqi government as of June 30th. You tell me, do Lugar and Biden sound like they are freaking out? I think they sound like they are freaking out:
Lugar: ...I think that they probably in the administration will need some of our assistance in a time in which the Congress has been polarized, is fractious, as the president and others have observed. We're going to need at least some idea, which we used to get daily when the war was going on, the hostilities in Iraq. But now whole weeks pass without any sign really of how things are proceeding.

Biden
: I just don't know what the plan is, and it is absolutely incredible me that here we are about twelve weeks out, neither the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee nor the ranking member, not that we're so important, but institutionally we in a sense are, at least I don't have any idea what their plan is.

...There is still time to do this the right way, in my view. But I just am at a loss to be able to understand why there hasn't been a resolution within the administration as to whether or not they're going to go back for another U. N. resolution, whether or not they're going to try to get a Brahimi like figure in...the UN special envoy, essentially a high commissioner. In other words, I just don't know what they have in mind. And as Dick said, during the war, prior to the war they consulted with us regularly. As if, and they're acting now like as if there's no need to consult us, as if they don't need congressional support. And I think it's less important that they satisfy Dick and me than they satisfy the American people. And I think the American people are beginning to wonder whether they have a plan for success.

Lugar:...I would just add to what Joe Biden has said that clearly if I were a member of the governing council of 24 and sovereignty was passed to me, sometimes it's said symbolically, but the Iraqis believe it's actually, and at that point the Iraqis have virtually no army, the police forces are very small and some are being trained as we've just heard, they flee when there is conflict in the cities of Iraq.

If I were a member of that governing council I would wonder how do I plan to govern? The old idea is not to worry, the United States will be there. But then the idea that we're going to have an agreement with this new government prior to June 30 has been put aside, and people have said in Iraq, you can't do that prior to our taking sovereignty. Then we'll make an arrangement with the United States for the troops. This is an entirely unsatisfactory, watching what we have been watching in the last few days.

...all I'm saying is that we do need a road map of our own, that is the congress, the American people, to follow what kind of sacrifice, what kind of money, extra troops if that is required, or whatever, so that we are successful.

Biden: It's a very unpopular position I've been taking, I've been take it for the last five months, we don't have enough troops there. The idea that you hear Bremer and others and they're good people say that we've trained up 200,000 Iraqi security forces from their civil guard to their police to their army is absolutely preposterous. When Dick Lugar and I were there over a year ago almost now, we met with all our trainers, they say it's going to take at least three years to train up an Iraqi police force, it's going to take that long or longer to train an Iraqi army. The truth of the matter is there is no security but US security, a few Brits, a few Spaniards and a few Poles. It is the United States of America.

It's not going to change, it just going to get worse, so we are the game, we are the totality of the security. And it seems to me we're not leveling with the American people here. This can be done, but remember, we made the announcement as far back as late November of last year to June 30 was the date. Here we are, in April, and they still haven't resolved the dispute in the administration between the State Department and the vice president's office or who ever else is arguing about this as to what is the plan.

Lugar: The purpose of the conversation of Joe Biden and Dick Lugar on these issues is that we have been stalwarts in a bipartisan way for the president throughout this entire period of time. We're not harping critics, attempting to cause difficulty either publicly or privately. We want success, the president wants success. We're going to have to begin to pull together and talk to each other, and the American people need to hear that conversation.

Biden: [I talked to] Dr. Rice, I talked to the secretary of state, and deputy secretary. But they're very empathetic and sympathetic. I've tried to talk to the president. I came back from a long meeting with President Chirac, meeting with the heads of all our NATO allies, the so-called permanent representatives in Brussels, I came back and I said this is what, and I wrote a report, I asked for five minutes to be able to see the president, he was not able to see me.

In the past, on the run up to the war, Dick Lugar and I and rights after the war were in his office frequently. I don't often ask to see the president of the United States, it's not that I'm so important, I wanted a report to the president on what was being said in Europe, what possibilities existed in my view, so we heard another point of view. And he wrote me a very nice handwritten letter saying Condi will be in touch. She called me and said I got your memo, got your note, thank you very much.

So now maybe you're talking to somebody, Jim, look, Jim, if they have, if there isn't a division within the administration, about what the plan should be, then that means there is a plan and they're not telling us. Why? I don't get it. I mean, I truly do not get this.


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It's one of those days. Iraq is increasingly looking like Vietnam. The right wing thinks that if we just lean on em a little more, they'll fall into line. But really, the only way to control Iraq with military force is to level the country. Right wingnuts are such fucking idiots. Everyone knows that repressive power is the only power that is actively resisted without fail. Physical force is always resisted if there is any way to resist it. That is why the only violent solution is indeed the final solution.

It has always been about hearts and minds, and it always will be. But you can't do that half-assed either. You have to know the people whose minds you are trying to change, for starters. We don't even know that. We have invaded a country and most Americans, myself included, could not identify three basic things about religion and culture in Iraq. What is worse is that our top decision makers know as little as the man or woman on the street.

I'll just let the picture speak for me today.

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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Yesterday was ladies' day in the media.

Rep. Nanci Pelosi criticized the planned combined appearance of El Presidente and his evil puppeteer.
"I think it speaks to the lack of confidence that the administration has in the president going forth alone, period," Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday. "It's embarrassing to the president of the United States that they won't let him go in without holding the hand of the vice president of the United States."

"I think it reinforces the idea that the president cannot go it alone," she said. "The president should stand tall, walk in the room himself and answer the questions."

Maureen Dowd wrote a scathing column, also attacking El Presidente's manhood.
There was always something of the boy in the bubble about George W. Bush, cosseted from the vicissitudes of life, from Vietnam to business failure, by his famous name.

Eleanor Clift weighed in. This one is worth quoting at length:
This was the week the curtain got pulled back on the Bush presidency. In exchange for allowing Condoleezza Rice to testify under oath, President Bush gets to bring along his vice president when he appears privately before the commission.

A top Republican strategist dubbed the legal document striking the unusual deal “the Wizard of Oz letter” because it strips away the myth that Bush is in charge. Until now, it’s been all speculation about Vice President Cheney’s influence. With the revelation of the tandem testimony, nobody with a straight face can deny Cheney is a co-president or worse, the puppeteer who pulls Bush’s strings.

Aside from being fodder for the late-night comics, the arrangement confirms Bush’s inability to articulate anything without a script--or a tutor by his side.

The thugs started it, with their images of Bush as a manly man's man. George Bush, the cowboy. George Bush, with his arm around a fire fighter at the World Trade Center site. And of course, George Bush, in a flight suit.

El Presidente's masculinity was one of his big selling points. As the curtain draws open to reveal the spoiled boy who has never stood on his own two feet, we ought to think about how we define masculinity itself. It doesn't have to be about having "the courage" to bomb the crap out of everything and everyone in sight. If you've come to that, you're not very courageous at all. Rather, masculinity can be about doing the difficult thing, about being willing to stay the course and learn our way out of this mess.

It's clear we are harmed when we allow these pampered sissy boys to make decisions about war and peace. An imperfect alternative is to elect a man who knows what it's like to be at war, from the bottom all the way up to the top, who is motivated to avoid war and learn our way out.

A more perfect alternative would be to elect a woman, who knows what it takes to create, care for, and teach children to become men and women, who is in touch with her and all our everyday lives. A woman's standpoint, in the physical world of eating, sleeping, feeding, cleaning, growing, casting off, taking on, is what is needed to remind us of what it is we destroy when we bomb the crap out of everything and everyone.

Perhaps it takes El Presidente's mutilation of masculinity to make us all see that masculinity is not the answer to our problems. Perhaps the best president is not he who is man enough, but rather she who is woman enough to have the courage to say no to greed, no to war, no to anything that objectifies people or disregards their existence in the material world altogether.

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John Kerry, if you're listening, the rules are different now.

Kerry's site pulled the Daily Kos site from their blogroll, and I find that problematic. Kos explained and apologized for his comments made in the heat of anger. He's begun a national discussion about the use of hired soldiers/guards in an illegitimate war. The point of this election is not simply to get a democrat in office. It's about taking our country back from crazy wingnuts. It's about talking about the things that need to be talked about, not about avoiding controversy.

We need to talk about what would make any person go into a war zone. These men went for money and maybe a little bit of action. Jessica Lynch joined up to get an education. If there were peace on earth, people wouldn't have to become soldiers to feed themselves and their families. If everyone could feed themselves and their families, there would be peace on earth.


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Saturday, April 03, 2004

Body and Soul has a great discussion about mercenaries. Just a tidbit:

I hope a lot of people start wondering and asking questions about about what in the world "civilians" were doing in an area the military had stopped patrolling, an area that even after four men were brutally murdered, the military wouldn't, or couldn't, enter.



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Billmon has a behind the scenes look at the private session with El Presidente, his evil puppet master, and the 9/11 commission. From the transcript:

Cheney: As I was saying (smiles at Gorelick), since our time is now short, I'd like to take this opportunity to put something on the record -- something that's been bothering me really ever since 9/11. To the families of those who died on that terrible day, I want to say how sorry I am that so many of our career federal bureaucrats failed to protect you and your loved ones. Dick Clarke failed you. George Tenet failed you. But most of all, Dick Clarke and George Tenet failed you. They tried -- maybe not as hard as they should have, but nobody's perfect. Still, they failed. I just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive them someday. (wipes an imaginary tear from his eye, then glances at his watch)

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Why would anyone listen to rightwing nutjobs?

I think this question has been a barrier to progressive action. It has taken us a long time to realize and accept the fact that lots of people do in fact listen to rightwing nutjobs, even if it doesn't compute in our rational minds.

I think at some point, progressives need to answer this question as objectively as empathetically as possible. We need to understand the hearts and minds of dittoheads in order to understand why they listen and agree.

But right now is not the time. Right now, we are at war with the far right for the sake of our country, for our own sake, for the sake of our children.

Yesterday, Kos was attacked by a coordinated group of rightwing nutjobs. Expressing a rational anger over the use of mercenaries in war, Kos wrote:
Every death should be on the front page

Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly.

That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.

Without any context, this sure seems like a terrible thing to say about people who were just murdered and whose bodies were desecrated. And the rightwing nutjobs got hold of these comments like hyenas with their own piece of flesh. They went into action. Spoons told everyone to drop dailykos from their blogrolls. Jay Reding offered some bios of 3 of those killed, interspersed with Kos' comments, for dramatic effect. Based on comments in various nutjob blogs, this post sure got the hyenas riled up. Fried Man coordinated an effort to get Kos' advertisers to drop him. His letters were polite and firm, but his call to action among the rightwing nutjobs was:
When you sleep with pigs you shouldn't be surprised if you wake up covered with muck and smelling like shit, and these politicians are all sleeping with a pig. Smell anything?

Kos later posted an explanation of his former comment made in anger:
I was angry that five soldiers -- the real heroes in my mind -- were killed the same day and got far lower billing in the newscasts. I was angry that 51 American soldiers paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly in Iraq in March alone. I was angry that these mercenaries make more in a day than our brave men and women in uniform make in an entire month. I was angry that the US is funding private armies, paying them $30,000 per soldier, per month, while the Bush administration tries to cut our soldiers' hazard pay. I was angry that these mercenaries would leave their wives and children behind to enter a war zone on their own violition.


I'm disappointed that his advertisers pulled their ads so quickly in response to right wing nutjobs. It goes to show that we are still letting the nutjobs shape our discourse, as they hang onto every little crime and misdemeanor, pull it out of context, and beat it til it's dead. Meanwhile, if the U.S. is using high-paid mercenaries in Iraq, we need to understand the consequences of that. Are mercenaries patriotic? Are they loyal to the U.S.? What are the implications of paying mercenaries 5 or 10 times more than we pay our American soldiers? These are questions we should be talking about, not whether Kos hates America because he said something unseemly in the heat of righteous anger.





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Friday, April 02, 2004

We told you so.

Liberal Oasis reminds us that regardless of what El Presidente's handmaidens say, there were plenty of Democrats screaming about the need to focus on terrorism rather than missile defense. Bottom line, Bush cannot blame this on anyone but himself and by extension, his administration's incompetence, greed, ideological blindness, and downright evil.

The little prick is incompetent to run anything more complicated than a cash register, or more critical than an elementary school spring pageant.




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Yay, job growth!

What's behind those numbers?

In the largest gain since April 2000, non-farm payrolls jumped by 308,000, well above the range of expectations among economists, who had forecast an increase of between 103,000 and 120,000 jobs.
...
Part of the gain was attributed to the resolution of a labor dispute at grocery stores in Southern California that had idled 72,000 workers. But the construction and retail sectors also saw significant growth, both possibly as a result of improved weather conditions.


There's also the matters of salary compression in a lot of fields, the unemployment rate remaining constant or slightly increasing, discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force, and the kinds of work that are being created.

Here in Central Iowa, the economy has been marginally better, I think: there are more jobs available. However, there has been salary compression. The state budget is a mess, and the state is a major employer.

So the news is positive, but not great.



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Herr Rove might be in a little bit of trouble.

Josh Marshall has come upon an interesting memo about the Plame Affair. As far as one can tell from the document itself, anyone could have written it. I'm assuming JMM would not have put it in his collection if he didn't think it originated with someone close to the case.

An indictment will probably only improve Rove's cachet with the 'thugs.


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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.
Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.
...
Republican lawyers worried that the leak case, in the hands of an aggressive prosecutor, might grow into an unwieldy, time-consuming and politically charged inquiry, like the sprawling independent counsel inquiries of the 1990's, which distracted and damaged the Clinton administration.


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Go TOM HARKIN! Speaking against tax cuts: "You don't even have to be from Iowa to understand you don't fertilize the trees from the top down." (just heard on Air America Radio -- AAR)

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Air America is a lifeboat in a vast polluted sea. For this reason, it's getting international press. I'm impressed with the number of celebrities they've had in the first couple of days. I think these celebs should be prepared to call or visit on a rather frequent basis between now and whenever there is peace on earth. If I can open my wallet once a week for John Kerry, Tim Robbins and all the rest can call in to Air America once a week, right?


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People who homeschool are often those who ought not.

This woman in Texas says she was driven by God to kill her children. Thank you, you fucking lunatic religious freaks for creating favorable conditions.

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They're savages! Kill them for their own good!

I just don't have the will to address this issue -- it's too disheartening -- but billmon does.

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