Just a few alternative and ugly realities

In How fair was that trial? James Wimberley compares the trial of Jesus to modern justice and to the Bushies concept of justice as it pertains to “enemy combatants”.

The trials of Jesus that led to his execution were, if the Gospel accounts are credible, miscarriages of justice. But they were trials, not a lynching or assassination. Exactly how unfair were they? How do they compare to another set of trials that have come under heavy criticism, those at Guantanamo Bay? Seeing as the Administration responsible for them advertises its allegiance to the person of Pilate’s victim, if not to his teaching.

What bizarre twist someone could be on this thoughtful examination of justice. An historical perspective on divinity that many people claim governs the decisions they make in life wasn’t a matter of if once the post was up, but of the hows of the twist. Wimberley was even patient enough to reply to this nonsense,

“It is in extremely bad taste, even impious, to use the Passion of Our Lord on Good Friday to make political points. You should be ashamed of yourself .”

Wimberly seems more motivated by a genuine concern for some inhumanely applied judicial remedy for the fact that some human beings, some probably guilty and some not then to score “political” points – there is a pretty obvious what are you gonna do when they come for you aspect to this – unless you have your head buried in right-wing orthodoxy. If we want to take the point of view as the e-mailer then one assumes that he feels that no one should connect modern events, Holy days and history – Holy days in the commenter’s view are brittle objects to be observed only from a distance. I hope he sends off a missive to the Pope before its too late, Pope in Easter speech says ‘nothing positive’ from Iraq (April 8, 2007)

Last year Bush spent the week before easter raising money for the RNC, promoting his immigration policies, touring a military base and whining about Democrats who had all the money he wanted for an Iraq spending bill, but which had non-binding timelines attached.

The French are routing for John McBush to win.

In case you missed it the traitor that had his sentence commuted by the brush cutting wonder from Connecticut was disbarred, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Disbarred

When a member of the Bar is convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, disbarment is mandatory. D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a) (2001). When convictions on more than one count are involved, disbarment is mandated if any one of them involves moral turpitude. In re Lipari, 704 A.2d 851, 852 (D.C. 1997) (citation omitted). This court has held that obstruction of justice (18 U.S.C. § 1503) and perjury (18 U.S.C. § 1623) are crimes of moral turpitude per se. In re Gormley, 793 A.2d 469, 470 (D.C. 2002) (citations omitted). Since respondent was convicted of each of these offenses, as the Board concluded, disbarment is mandatory under D.C. Code § 11-2503 (a). Neither Bar Counsel nor respondent has taken exception to the Board’s Report and Recommendation.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that I. Lewis Libby, Jr. is disbarred from the practice of law in the District of Columbia, and his name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys authorized to practice before this court.

Another in case anyone missed it, Obama’s Minister Committed “Treason” But When My Father Said the Same Thing He Was a Republican Hero. Which reminded me of what one assumes were the divinely inspired comments of right-wing preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson just after 9-11,

JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we’ve been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters — the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats — what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact — if, in fact — God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that’s my feeling. I think we’ve just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven’t even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we’re responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system..

The blame America first crowd speaks.

Funny how the the provocateurs of all things liberal democracy and spreading like wildfire can kill or wound hundreds of thousands, yet not engage mouth and brain to issue a coherent statement of condemnation, Bush Silent, but Others Speak Out on Tibet Crackdown

If the Bushies think that history will judge them as visionaries for spending so many lives and so much national treasure in Iraq, how will history judge them for sending so many American jobs to China while it pollutes the world, exploits it’s own citizens and treats Tibet like workers on a plantation.

Detroit Skyline wallpaper

Detroit Skyline

Since McCain keeps repeating the same lie about Iran and al-Qaeda ( and here McCainiacs are Running Scared on Iraq ) one can only assume that it is not a gaffe. McCain is doing his best imitation of Dick Cheney. For eight years the neocons have repeatedly made speeches where Iraq and AQ or Iraq and 9-11 are always used in the same speech even if they never explicitly tied one to the other they tied every foreign policy decision about their actions in the Middle-East to 9-11 and AQ. It turned out there was no partnership between AQ and Iraq and no connection between Iraq and 9-11. The more clever neocon pundits have started veiling the incessant doublespeak as “contextual”. If if there is no direct connection, the thinking goes, its all part of the big “war on terror”. Only the Right, with their secret decoder rings and near supernatural insight can see the big picture. The problem with sweeping anyone and everyone that walks into the the neocon’s cross hairs into the enemy, who you are either for or against is that it gets an awful lot of innocent people killed and creates more terrorists. The neocon approach is the opposite of of effective, they’re creating a terror horn of plenty and the never ending war that goes with it. Republican brain trust Karl Rove once said something ridiculous about Democrats wanting to give terrorist’s therapy, but the evidence suggests that the neocons are quite happy at the prospect of aiding the growth of terrorism, real or imagined for the sake of partisan politics.

News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising

If America is hoping to get up to speed on what’s happening in science and the environment by watching cable they’re outta luck, If You Watch FIVE HOURS of Cable News, Expect to Find ONE MINUTE of Coverage Devoted to Either Science or the Environment

I’m genuinely surprised that Fox is even considered a news network. What ever it is, its your destination for “news” about celebrities not Iraq, Content Analysis

MSNBC, at least in terms of time spent, was indeed the place for politics in 2007 — by nearly double over its rivals in the percentage of time studied (28% vs. 12% on CNN and 15% on Fox News). Fox, in turn, spent less time on the war in Iraq than the others (10% vs. 18% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN). And it was more oriented to crime, celebrity and the media than its rivals (28% vs. 19% on MSNBC and 16% on CNN).

John Gibson did claim if you didn’t take an obsessive morbid interest in the deaths of celebrities your were a snob. Fox critiquing the media is like Bobby Knight coaching and refereeing at the same time.

White House E-Mail Battle Heats Up

The White House has three days to explain why it shouldn’t be required to copy its computer hard drives to ensure no further e-mails are lost, a federal judge ordered Tuesday.

Already, e-mails between March and October 2003 appear to have been lost, Judge John M. Facciola noted, because they were improperly archived and no backup copies exist. That period includes the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

From the Nixon tapes to the Iran-Contra documents that Ollie North shredded the Right always has something to hide. Or maybe they’re not as competent as they would have people believe. Either excuse is pretty damning.

Saint John McBush thinks that Iran (Shia Muslims) are joined at the hip to Al Qaeda ( Sunni fundamentalist) in Iraq. As Booman Tribune points out, as has a little newspaper called the Washington Post, Iran offered to help the U.S. reign in AQ after 9-11, but the Bushies rejected the offer. Like the administration that McCain wants to replace he seems to either have little grasp of relatively simple concepts when it comes to factions in the Middle-East or is doing his best to perpetuate the same myths the Right has been echoing for years. As I write this at least one Republican site is making claims just as they did with Iraq, that someone from Iran had tea one afternoon with with someone from AQ in 1996 so there’s you’re smoking gun connection, making McCain correct. The Right resents being portrayed as stupid, yet keeps publishing such obvious nonsense.

The Right is accusing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of being pro genocide as they weep over the fate of the Iraqi people. That sounds like some cynical joke, but its not, The genocide supporters try to do some blame shifting

Naturally, we couldn’t help clicking. And that brought us to the article that contained today’s quote of the day, one Michael Rubin, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, gave to CNSNews.com:

I used to give Nancy Pelosi benefit of the doubt, but I don’t think she’ll be happy until we have a Rwanda-like genocide. Pelosi is perhaps the worst example of a liberal racist: She sees Iraqis as nothing more than a template upon which to fight a partisan battle. It really is disgraceful.

Later in the article, another AEI resident fellow, Thomas Donnelly, says, “Clearly, there is no measure of success in Iraq that could satisfy her [Pelosi] or others who have invested so much political capital in the narrative of the ‘Lost War.'”

One of the reasons that violence in Iraq’s capital city is down a little from previous years is that the ethnic cleansing carried out by the Shia has been largely successful, How to stop genocide in Iraq

But with only one-third of the new troops on duty at any given time in a city of 6 million people, they will have no more success deterring the militias intent on carving out homogeneous Shiite or Sunni neighborhoods than U.S. forces have had to date. About 74% of Shiites polled and 91% of Sunnis — the people who have the most to fear from genocide — would like to see U.S. forces gone by the end of the year.

When both Sunni and Shia think they have a better chance of sorting things out without a U.S. presence, maybe Speaker Pelosi knows how to listen while Brent Bozell still operates from an insulated mental bunker.

Estimates of Iraq War Cost Were Not Close to Ballpark

At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts say that $1 trillion to $2 trillion is more realistic, depending on troop levels and on how long the American occupation continues.

The pre occupation population of Iraq was 25 million. It literally would have been cheaper to offer a bribe to every Iraqi of a couple million dollars to get rid of Saddam themselves.

“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” ~ Lord Northcliffe

Self-delusion and dishonesty its what Bush and his defenders run on

The Bush administration is backtracking on the story, retold several times over the past few years that isn’t wasn’t their decision to disband the Iraqi army laying the blame on Paul Bremer’s shoulders. Much like Iran-Contra if scandals or failures mange to make their way to the proximity of any Republican Oval office then the administration and its minons in the noise machine start deflecting. While unlikely to dent any tin foil on the Right we have another confirmation that BushCo was indeed in on that massive misstep by the Serious Terror Fighters Brigade, Global Strategy or Grand Illusion?

Mr. Bremer has said that his decision was made in consultation with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz and Under Secretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, and was authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld. Although President Bush would tell his biographer Robert Draper that “the policy was to keep the Army intact,” The Times reported on Monday that Mr. Bremer and others who attended a May 22 video conference during which he outlined his plan said the president had seemed satisfied with what he heard. In December 2004 he would award Mr. Bremer the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. (emphasis mine)

[ ]… Mr. Bush similarly emerges from this book as a naïve, impulsive and stubborn leader, whose moral certitude and penchant for denial have made him more inclined to double down on a bad bet than ever to admit a mistake, a president whose post-9/11 search for a bold new approach to the world made him susceptible to neoconservative ideas of pre-emption and unilateralism that had gained little traction with his father or Bill Clinton.

George Jr’s attitude isn’t unfamiliar to anyone that visits a right-wing blog or Conservative web site. Some will go to the trouble of copying and pasting this or that AQ member that was captured – you know something Special Forces or the CIA would have done even if Micky Mouse were president. Some will still claim that Iraq had WMD and a partnership with AQ. At the end of the day it is more about childish petulance, the attitude that they were right and somehow history, especially if they are allowed to write the history unchallenged, will prove them right. How to Destroy a Country in Five Years

Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls. Different districts even have different national flags. Sunni areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party and the Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The Kurds have their own flag.

The Iraqi government tries to give the impression that normality is returning. Iraqi journalists are told not to mention the continuing violence. When a bomb exploded in Karada district near my hotel killing 70 people the police beat and drove away television cameraman trying to take pictures of the devastation. Civilian casualties have fallen from 65 Iraqis killed daily from November 2006 to August 2007 to 26 daily in February. But the fall in the death rate is partly because ethnic cleansing has already done its grim work and in much of Baghdad there are no mixed areas left.

As a few clear headed individuals predicted even if Bush had been a better Commander-in-Chief instead of a rabid ideologue the Right’s vision of what Iraq would look like ignored both history and the consequences. Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher couldn’t have been more prescient in 2002 when he wrote, Iraq Belongs on the Back Burner

While Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be right in saying that our military can fight two wars at the same time, my experience tells me that we cannot mount a war against Iraq and still maintain the necessary policy focus on North Korea and international terrorism. Anyone who has worked at the highest levels of our government knows how difficult it is to engage the attention of the White House on anything other than the issue of the day. For example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — a major crisis by any standard — now seems to be handled largely by an assistant secretary of state. Likewise, Afghanistan, which is at risk again of becoming a haven for terrorists, seems to be getting less attention than it deserves.

A United States-led attack on Iraq will overshadow all other foreign-policy issues for at least a year. In the early months, the news media can be expected to offer wall-to-wall combat stories, covered with characteristic one-dimensional intensity. Even if the optimistic predictions of quick victory prove to be accurate, we would then find ourselves absorbed with the occupation of Iraq and efforts to impose democracy on the fractious elements of that country.

Certainly one of the most astounding accomplishments of the Bush administration has been to increase the number of terrorists and rate of world wide terror attacks. One could imagine the non-stop shrillness of the Right if a Democratic president started a”war on terror” and actually contributed to the number of fighters. Yet Bush is still a unsung hero to that 29% that keeps bobbing its ugly head in popularity polls.

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. ~ Calvin Coolidge

Bailing out the Republican bolsheviks

As much as I hate being baited the eighties savings and loan scandals brought to us by Saint Ronnie has been reinvented for the new millennium by King George and the Stalinists.  This phrasing my seem inconsistent, but since Jonah Goldberg has decided that the left is right or right is left its only fitting that someone points out that when Republicans make money hand over fist they’re small government anti-regulation entrepreneurs, but when they inevitably run into trouble they’re arrogant little orphans that think the nanny state should bail them out, WALL STREET AND SOCIALISM….

One of the things that shocks me is that the liberal blogosphere has been deadly silent about the massive bailout of bankers that is taking place with taxpayer money, and fueling the collapse of the dollar. Where’s the outrage? What we’re seeing is a classic example of “Privatize the gains during the boom — e.g. hand out $30B+ in Wall Street bonuses each of the last several years — and socialize the losses during the bust.” But for this to be taking place in the context of a financial apocalypse among the American middle class (9m families currently have negative equity in their homes, and prices in all likelihood have much further to fall) strikes me as bordering on criminal. Why aren’t the Democrats demanding the re-regulation of Wall Street and the reining in of compensation in the finance industry as quid pro quo for these bailouts?

It has already beem mentioned that Bush’s mess in Mes’Opotamia isn’t helping anyone except a hand full of war profiteers and it also seems linked to the current dollar crunch,  War, Jobs and national Debt

There is no longer any doubt that the Iraq War is a moral and strategic disaster for the United States. But what has not yet been fully recognized is that it has also been an economic disaster. To date, the government has spent more than $522 billion on the war, with another $70 billion already allocated for 2008.

With just the amount of the Iraq budget of 2007, $138 billion, the government could instead have provided Medicaid-level health insurance for all 45 million Americans who are uninsured. What’s more, we could have added 30,000 elementary and secondary schoolteachers and built 400 schools in which they could teach. And we could have provided basic home weatherization for about 1.6 million existing homes, reducing energy consumption in these homes by 30 percent.

But the economic consequences of Iraq run even deeper than the squandered opportunities for vital public investments. Spending on Iraq is also a job killer. Every $1 billion spent on a combination of education, healthcare, energy conservation and infrastructure investments creates between 50 and 100 percent more jobs than the same money going to Iraq. Taking the 2007 Iraq budget of $138 billion, this means that upward of 1 million jobs were lost because the Bush Administration chose the Iraq sinkhole over public investment.

Recognizing these costs of the Iraq War is even more crucial now that the economy is facing recession. While a recession is probably unavoidable, its length and severity will depend on the effectiveness of the government’s stimulus initiatives. By a wide margin, the most effective stimulus is to expand public investment projects, especially at the state and local levels. The least effective fiscal stimulus is the one crafted by the Bush Administration and Congress–mostly to just send out rebate checks to all taxpayers. This is because a high proportion of the new spending encouraged by the rebates will purchase imports rather than financing new jobs in the United States, whereas public investment would concentrate job expansion within the country. Combining this Bush stimulus initiative with the ongoing spending on Iraq will only deepen the severity of the recession.

Bush and the bellicose echo of the right-wing noise machine have been assuring Americans for years that we live in a dreamy free market economy where bad investments yield consequences. This is the America Republican system, an economy for smart manly men who know how to push a wheel barrel full of cash to the bank. Now the wheel is falling off the barrel and guess who gets to pick up the tab, the Nascar dads and soccer moms that the same Republicans said would protect them. Now when the middle-class goes to work everyday they can figure into their weekly expenses how much of their income is going to little Marie’s dental expenses and how much to help keep the country from falling into the fiscal valley of Republican ineptitude.

Cities at Night – Wales wallpaper

Cities at Night – Tenby, Wales wallpaper

Japan- Bridge at Night 

FBI Found to Misuse Security Letters

In total, Fine said, the FBI issued almost 200,000 national security letters from 2003 through 2006, and they were used in a third of all FBI national security and computer probes during that time. Fine said his investigators have identified hundreds of possible violations of laws or internal guidelines in the use of the letters, including cases in which FBI agents made improper requests, collected more data than they were allowed to, or did not have proper authorization to proceed with the case.

Fine also pointed to the FBI’s “troubling” use of the letters to obtain vast quantities of telephone numbers or other records with a single request. Investigators identified 11 such cases, involving information related to about 4,000 phone numbers, that did not comply with USA Patriot Act requirements or that violated FBI guidelines.

As noted in the article National Security Letters are used specifically to bypass requirements that law enforcement officials have probable cause. George ‘ small government Republican’ Bush not only doesn’t have a problem with kicking dirt on the Fourth Amendment he wants to make it easier, President weakens espionage oversight

Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.
more stories like this

The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush’s order late last month. But critics say Bush’s order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms.

“It’s quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now,” said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union. “Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era.”

Moderation, restraint, Congressional and judicial oversight, all traditional American ideals about government power thrown out the window with the mighty pen of the elite frat boy. The Founding Father’s dream nightmare come to pass.

Foreign Policy has a video interview up with Veteran FBI interrogator Jack Cloonan. Cloonan has interrogated actual AQ suspects, unlike the Rightie bloggers that have speculative blood filled fantasies while writing from their parent’s garage apartment. He also addresses the Right’s favorite 24 meme, what if there was a ticking bomb etc, How do you make a terrorist talk?

The Republican War on Terror Contains 98.3% Bull wallpaper

The Republican War On Terror wallpaper

Remember this over the top boiler plate from Bush and administration spokesmen,

“There’s no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States.”
• White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, 8/26/03

Iraq was “the most dangerous threat of our time.”
• White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 7/17/03

“The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. … Iraq is a threat, a real threat.”
• President Bush, 1/3/03

“There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein.”
• President Bush, 10/28/02

We can all agree that Saddam Hussein was a reprehensible human being, but hardly the all powerful boogie man that the Bush Whitehouse and its multitude of sycophants sold him as in one of the most comprehensive product campaign of modern political advertising. Bush called Iraq the front in the “war on terror”, part of the “Axis of Evil”. Yet of 4143 total international terrorist attacks that occurred worldwide between 1991 and 2001 Iraq is thought to have been responsible 1.7%. Proof that Saddam was a thug, but hardly worthy of the title “the most dangerous threat of our time.” If the Right, as they claim are SERIOUS about fighting terrorism it would seem even a cursory look at the evidence means they have invested 4,000 American lives, over 15,000 severely wounded (52,000 returning veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder), with estimates of dead Iraqis ranging from 41,000 to hundreds of thousands plus a million refugees and counting in the weakest link in the terror chain. All at a cost of approximately 50 billion dollars every three months. If military conflicts are a matter of national security, of costs versus benefits then what would have cost us if the Bushies had gone after those people responsible for the bulk of international terrorism, the 98.3% that didn’t come from Iraq.

Spinning the non-connection between Iraq and al Qaeda

That didn’t take long the full Pentagon Study that shows Iraq had no operational links to al Qaeda is on-line at ABC (11.7mb pdf). I haven’t had a chance to read through this longer report, but we can address at least two issues that the wing-nuttery is clinging to. One that see he did sponsor terror so Bush was right in the view of The National Reviews neocons like Stephen Hayes and Victor Hanson because Saddam was part of the “context” of terrorism. Once again details don’t seem to matter. Saddam stated his career with terrorism of his domestic adversaries with the help of the CIA. America supported Saddam during much of his career ( the Reagan administration supplied him intelligence about Iran during the Iraq-Iran War and did little but hand wringing when Saddam used chemical weapons and approved the sell of nuclear related duel use materials)

Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.’s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq’s oil; its facilities in the Persian Gulf had been shut down by Iran, and Iran’s ally, Syria, had cut off a pipeline that transported Iraqi oil through its territory. Rumsfeld made no reference to chemical weapons, according to detailed notes on the meeting

As Rumsfeld noted in redacted documents available at the link and as we can see from Saddam’s antagonistic relationships with his neighbors Saddam and Iraq were also victims of terrorist attacks. This is not by way of making excuses for Saddam’s behavior only that the now perhaps overused term terrorism to describe any conflict was a frequent tactic of state and non-state actors in the Middle-East and for the vast majority of the time it was it pitted neighbor against neighbor and Muslim against Muslim. Then is the observation that Saddam “supported” suicide bombers in the West Bank. To say that Saddam supported terrorism because he would give Palestinian families of dead bombers money for funeral expenses and so forth as a connection to terrorism is esoteric at best. One Conservative writing at ABC is hoping everyone is as ignorant of history as he is connecting Saddam to AQ through the Afghanistan’s Taliban of 1999. Two things. One the Taliban of 1999 was an awful fundamental organization but was not part of AQ – remember that members of the Taliban and Bin Laden both worked to defeat the Soviet Union, again with the aid of the CIA. Also let’s remember that connecting the Taliban of 1999 with the Taliban of today ( Taliban 2007-2008 has close associations with AQ) makes BushCo look worse; in 2001 the Bush administration through the UN tried to provide humanitarian assistance to starving Afghans, bypassing the Taliban, but at no time even knowing that Bin laden might have been there and was suspected of bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa did Bush take any military action to close down the Taliban, catch Bin Laden, or request assistance from the Afghan government in catching BL as a condition of that aid.

Watch for important destinations that the Right will not make. Finding one individual Iraqi that meet with AQ once does not translate into Iraqi state sponsorship of AQ. Think of it this way Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian. Does that make U.S. ally Jordan a sponsor of AQ activities. Many of the foreign fighters that have entered Iraq since Bush kicked out UN inspectors are from Egypt and other countries in North Africa ( Egypt in the second biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel.), yet we haven’t found it prudent to invade Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Tunisia.

Warrantless Surveillance Compromise Proposed; No Case for Blanket Immunity

The majority leadership in the House of Representatives has embraced a compromise measure [PDF] that would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in a move intended to resolve a deadlock between the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives, the Washington Post reported.

The proposed legislation would allow telephone companies to defend their role in the White House’s warrantless surveillance program in secret ex parte hearings before a federal judge, which would include special rules to allow the introduction of secret evidence, but would not grant blanket retroactive immunity to the companies, according to the New York Times.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the legislation would (1) create a new commission to examine the warrantless surveillance program, (2) loosen judicial oversight while still requiring that a FISC judge approve new surveillance programs, and (3) allow telephone companies to defend themselves in the secret proceedings (described above) while limiting monetary damage awards if the company’s actions are held illegal.

The House Judiciary Committee released a statement today saying that, after reviewing the classified information regarding warrantless surveillance, “the administration has not established a valid and credible case to justify granting blanket retroactive immunity at this time.” (emphasis mine)

Like just about every issue the Bushies case has simply been that we’re all going to be forced to get our knees on pray mats four times a day if they don’t get unfettered police state-like powers.

Car bomb in Baghdad adds to worries violence is growing

After a low of 76 in November, the number of Iraqi civilians killed in Baghdad is rising, with March now on pace, with 104 dead so far, to become the fourth straight month to top the previous month, according to statistics kept by McClatchy. Already, the 325 wounded in the first 13 days of March tops the 322 hurt in January and seems likely to surpass the 403 wounded in February.

Tragedy, fanatics and ethical challenges

In Iraq Severed fingers of 5 hostages delivered to U.S. officials in Iraq and 8 U.S. troops, 14 Iraqis die in wave of insurgent bombings

But don’t spend too much time contemplating these events because as Republican bloggers remind us everyday there were more casualties then WW II and the skins of oranges aren’t smooth. To be a modern Conservative one must be capable of these kinds of mental convolutions  necessary to rationalize away all mendacity, all atrocity, and all facts.

McCain’s Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam 

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor (Televangelist Rod Parsley) who has called upon Christians to wage a “war” against the “false religion” of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

McCain hasn’t denounced the anti-Catholic/anti-Semitic Rev. Hagee so someone that hates one billion plus Muslims will hardly make McCain wince. Parsley, one hopes, knows enough about the history of religion to realize that Muslims and Christians worship the same big guy in the sky. He probably does and has decided it doesn’t matter.

 House approves ethics measure 

The resolution would change House rules to create an independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The OCE would be comprised of six board members, none of whom could be sitting lawmakers. It would be able to conduct investigations against members based on allegations from outside groups and individuals, and decide whether to forward them on to the full ethics committee for further review. From 1997 until now, only members could file complaints against other members.

Maybe its too early to tell whether this is as toothless as some people are saying. Yes the House Ethics Committee gets to decide if anything like punitive action should be taken against an accused member, but the evidence that goes to the Ethics Committee will be a huge potential embarrassment for anyone that has acted in a way to bring about an investigation in the first place. Since outside groups can start the process rolling there is even the potential for abuse. Again we’ll have to wait and see whether this new wrinkle in imposing ethics will cause partisan groups to start wildly pointing fingers to score political points at the OCE’s expense.

Found this the other day- priceless,

fake-hero.jpg