Beach Conch Shell wallpaper – Republicans Have a History of Malice and Lies

 Beach Conch Shell wallpaper

I guess I should add that found shells should be thrown back into the ocean as other sea creatures use them as homes and protection.

Darrell Issa Shows Contemptible Disregard for the Constitution or what is Darrell Issa hiding?

The chairman’s heavy-handed style invoted the reproach that the contempt vote was “nothing more than a political witch hunt,” as People for the American Way president Michael Keegan termed it.

“To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened,” argued Keegan, who added that, “The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible.”

Issa’s actions undermined not just his own credibility but any sense that he and his allies might be acting in defense of — or with any regard for — the Constitution.

There is no reason to suggest that Holder is above criticism for his actions as Attorney General. He has been called out by Democrats as well as Republicans on a variety of issues. And he has not always managed his response to Issa’s abuses well. Nor should anyone who vaiues transparency and government oversight be pleased when a president determines that it is necessary to invoke “executive privilege” in a fight with Congress, as Barack Obama has done to thwart Issa’s demands.

But it is Issa whose actions have been contemptible. He is demanding deliberative documents that are ordinarily off-limits to Congress, a big ask, yet he has not built a credible coalition of supporters for the demand. And when the details of the documents and the issues involved are laid out—along with the offers by Holder to brief the committee—it quickly becomes evident that the committee chairman is so unwilling to compromise that he won’t take “yes” for an answer.

It is an old legal and political tactic to keep asking for documents when all the relevant documentation has either been released or  as in this case, the AG has offered to brief the committee in private. No, you must have some more documents somewhere – example Paul Mirengoff at Power Liars:
Those Fast and Furious documents must be dynamite. That is an assertion without evidence. Conservative web sites irregardless the hundreds of words they use – are using that as a large part of their argument. There must be more, we just know it in our hearts. Yet looking back over the way in which Issa has conducted his “investigation” it is obvious he is ignoring witnesses and documents that go back to the Bush administration and their “gun walking” program. There is also another aspect of the gun walking program that is laden with public relations land mines – the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Terry was apparently killed with one of the guns sold in the program. I would never make the case that gun walking was the brightest idea ATF ever had. It is certainly tragic that anyone, especially a law enforcement agent was killed  in connection with the program. That said, one assumes that Terry’s family has followed things closely, yet they have been quick to publicly condemn Holder, yet have no public criticisms of Issa. because of the circumstances what the Terry family says carries some wait in terms of the public perception and political aspect, if not the purely legal one. Why haven’t they used that leverage to pressure Issa about the political witch hunt agenda. In contrast to truth finding. One thing about arrogant narcissists like Issa is they will slip up eventually. He let the public know how he viewed his war on AG Holder in an interview on Fox, Fast & Furious Inanity Reaches New Heights

Darrell Issa, one of the GOP’s star attack dogs, more or less admitted the fever swamp origins of tea party outrage over Fast & Furious when he told Sean Hannity that Obama was using the program to “somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.”

I’ve read some circumstantial evidence in the last few months that Issa and conservatives were, at least in part, using fast and Furious to whip up some more gun control conspiracy outrage among the NRA crowd. It turns out yet another time in which reasonable people were correct and conservatives have been caught being less than truthful and their motivations purely political. Rightie libertarians join in at The Volokh Conspiracy. VC writes an occasional good post about 1st amendment rights. Who do they go to for facts about Fast and Furious one of the fast and Furious Urban Myth cultists David Kopel, who writes, Is President Obama’s assertion of executive privilege valid?

Fast & Furious was a program implemented by the Arizona office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, in Sept. 2009 through January 2011.

he could buy himself some plausible deniability by claiming that he was going with the name change, but gun walking started back in the Bush administration.

The 2007 probe operated out of the same ATF office that more recently ran the flawed Operation Fast and Furious. Both probes resulted in weapons disappearing across the border into Mexico, according to the emails. The 2007 probe was relatively small — involving over 200 weapons, just a dozen of which ended up in Mexico as a result of gun-walking. Fast and Furious involved over 2,000 weapons, some 1,400 of which have not been recovered and an unknown number of which wound up in Mexico.

Earlier this month, it was disclosed that the gun-walking tactic didn’t begin under Obama, but was also used in 2006 under his predecessor, George W. Bush. The probe, Operation Wide Receiver, was carried out by ATF’s Tucson, Ariz., office and resulted in hundreds of guns being transferred to suspected arms traffickers.

The older gun-walking cases now coming to light from the Bush administration illustrate how ATF — particularly its Phoenix field division, encompassing Tucson, Ariz., as well as Phoenix — has struggled for years to counter criticism that its normal seize-and-arrest tactics never caught any trafficking kingpins and were little more than a minor irritant that didn’t keep U.S. guns out of the hands of Mexican gangs.

Even those cases against low-level straw buyers are problematic for the ATF. There is no federal firearms trafficking law, making it difficult to prosecute cases. So law enforcement agencies resort to a wide variety of laws that do not carry stringent penalties — particularly for straw buyers.

Documents and emails relating to the 2007 case were produced or made available months ago to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, though the Republicans on the panel have said little about them. In the congressional investigation, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has focused on the questions of what Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, knew about Fast and Furious, and when he knew it.

Following the e-mail trail from that investigation it is clear that mistakes were made. Did a list of mistakes ever make it to Holder’s desk. Did he ever have the details of what field agents were doing. Since the Phoenix field division chief of the ATF seemed a little confused about the details and legal authorization it seems doubtful that Holder knew of and approved Fast and Furious. And he obviously cannot be held responsible the program that it morphed out of, Operation Wide Receiver.

Some essential reading on the subject, What The Right Wing Media Won’t Tell You About The Subpoenaed Fast And Furious Documents – Holder has provided over 140,000 documents to Issa. Issa keeps asking for documents because he cannot find any that support his wacky agenda. And Five Things To Know About The Republican Witchhunt Against Attorney General Holder.



Back during the Bush-era many Democrats said over and over again that the Bush administration was lying about what they knew and did leading up to 9/11. Conservatives, with no proof said they were lying. They were wrong than and they continue to be wrong. Conservatives owe the USA yet another apology the country will never get.  This is from a report done in 2004: Claim vs. Fact: Condoleezza Rice’s Opening Statement

CLAIM: “We decided immediately to continue pursuing the Clinton Administration’s covert action authorities and other efforts to fight the network.”

FACT: Newsweek reported that “In the months before 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department curtailed a highly classified program called ‘Catcher’s Mitt’ to monitor al-Qaida suspects in the United States.” Additionally, AP reported “though Predator drones spotted Osama bin Laden as many as three times in late 2000, the Bush administration did not fly the unmanned planes over Afghanistan during its first eight months,” thus terminating the reconnaissance missions started during the Clinton Administration. [Sources: Newsweek, 3/21/04; AP, 6/25/03]

In a recent report, New NSA 9/11 docs – “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released,”

Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

Ace national security adviser Condoleezza Rice is among those conservatives who said no one could have predicted that al-Qaida would attack.

CLAIM by Rice : “We increased funding for counterterrorism activities across several agencies.”

FACT: Upon taking office, the 2002 Bush budget proposed to slash more than half a billion dollars out of funding for counterterrorism at the Justice Department. In preparing the 2003 budget, the New York Times reported that the Bush White House “did not endorse F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators” and “proposed a $65 million cut for the program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants.” Newsweek noted the Administration “vetoed a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.” [Sources: 2001 vs. 2002 Budget Analysis; NY Times, 2/28/02; Newsweek, 5/27/02]

Again from the NSA papers,

And yet, simultaneously, the CIA declared that budget concerns were forcing it to move its Counterterrorism Center/Osama bin Laden Unit from an “offensive” to a “defensive” posture. For the CIA, that meant trying to get Afghan tribal leaders and the Northern Alliance to kill or capture bin Laden, Elias-Sanborn says. “It was forced to be less of a kinetic operation,” she says. “It had to be only for surveillance, which was not what they considered an offensive posture.”

“Budget concerns … CT [counterterrorism] supplemental still at NSC-OMB [National Security Council – Office of Management and Budget] level,” an April 2000 document reads. “Need forward movement on supplemental soonest due to expected early recess due to conventions, campaigning and elections.” In addition, the Air Force told the CIA that if it lost a drone, the CIA would have to pay for it, which made the agency more reluctant to use the technology.

I read at least a couple of conservative blogs or magazine sites every day. Every day they have some new black helicopter tale about Democrats. They never turn out to be true. Yet time and again from Watergate to Iran-Contra to letting Bin laden escape to failing to protect the country in the months leading up to 9/11, Republicans have been found to be malevolent and criminally negligent. And they want to cut Mitt Romney’s taxes and increase taxes on the middle-class, Middle class could face higher taxes under Republican plan, analysis finds

To wit, the budget of GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan(R-WI)—which calls for big tax cuts, small deductions, and severe spending cuts—would raise middle-class taxes, and give a huge break to the wealthiest Americans. The Washington Post reports:

The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. […]

The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700 annually to the Internal Revenue Service, on top of the tax increases that are scheduled to hit every American household when the George W. Bush-era cuts expire at the end of the year. Households earning more than $1 million a year, meanwhile, could see a net tax cut of about $300,000 annually.


One more Republican conspiracy that said more about them than the truth was the health care reform will kill grand ma conspiracy theory. That was a lie of monstrous proportions repeated by mouth breathers with no sense of decency or shame. What is true is that killing health care reform might well kill grand ma, Over 26,000 annual deaths for uninsured: report

More than 26,000 working-age adults die prematurely in the United States each year because they lack health insurance, according to a study published ahead of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

On reading that news many Republicans probably cheered.


Today in American History. On June 21,1882: Artist Rockwell Kent is born. He illustrated sold-out 1930 edition of Moby Dick with haunting images.

In early 1841 at the age of 21, Herman Melville shipped out on a voyage to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Massachusetts whaler Acushnet, which he deserted in the Marquesa Islands after only 18 months. He then served briefly on the Australian whaler Lucy Ann; the Nantucket whaler Charles & Henry, and in the US Navy. His whaleship experience supplied the background for his sixth and most famous novel, Moby-Dick, or the Whale, published in 1851. The first American edition of Moby-Dick of 2,915 copies did not sell well at $1.50 and only netted Melville lifetime earnings of $556.37.

Although he continued to write poetry and fiction, Melville supported himself as a New York City customs inspector for 19 years before dying in 1891 at the age of 72. It was not until the 1920s that Melville achieved recognition as one of the icons of American literature. This 1930 edition of Moby Dick, published by Random House and illustrated by Rockwell Kent, introduced Melville to thousands of Americans.

Moby Dick cover, 1931 edition.

Moby Dick illustration

Every year there are a few lists of overrated classics. Moby Dick does not usually make those lists and for good reason. It is actually a good book.


Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners

We all complain about the press, but the reality is that it matters whether the press really pays attention. They’ve shown a certain fondness for Republican Mike Huckabee, but didn’t really take him seriously as a contender until a few week ago. They didn’t know and probably still don’t know what to make of Ron Paul, afterall what ever Paul is he isn’t a Beltway insider in the way that John McCain and Mitt Romney are. Then there was John Edwards. Upstanding guy with thoughtful and well thought out stands on the most pressing issues facing America. Kind of boring when you have the possibility of America’s first woman or black president. Those are certainly appealing narratives if you’re trying to sale papers or generate  buzz, but they’re less important then  the candidate’s capacity to make real change. Now that in Iowa Edwards might be on the verge of upsetting all the wisest pontifications he’s getting a little more attention, Edwards Fights to the Finish

His rivals scoff at the angry populism coming from Edwards in these final days. They believe it is an invention, saying what Edwards now talks about bears little resemblance to the record he compiled in the Senate.

It is hypocritical, they say, coming from someone who grew rich in the courtrooms and who now lives in an enormous house in North Carolina. It is phony, they argue, to condemn big money and become the beneficiary of an independent expenditure campaign run by his former campaign manager.

None of this bothers Edwards. He knows what the critics say but he couldn’t care less. He doesn’t believe those attacks have hurt him. He believes he is connecting with the anger and unrest that many ordinary Americans feel about the state of the country and especially the way Washington works. He promises not to fix the system but to blow it up. (emphasis mine)

I forget who said that if you want the presidency you have to take it, they just don’t give it to you even if you do deserve it. Edwards decision to come out fighting is simply the writing on the wall. He or his campaign has seen that it does take more then having the right policies and being a decent guy, its stepping up and claiming the message. Now if the press will just give a little more credit where do.

Difficult to slice off a piece of this essay as it weaves back and forth among its subjects, Mailer, Paley, Vonnegut: same era, different voices

American fiction lost three of its most warmly admired figures this year, all dead at the age of 84 after long careers. Critics love the idea of literary generations, but it would be a challenge to find themes or ideas to link the disparate work of Norman Mailer, Grace Paley and Kurt Vonnegut.

Chess Pawn wallpaper 

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners.” ~ Dale Carnegie

From The Onion, Hillary Clinton Is Too Ambitious To Be The First Female President

I’d rather see a female presidential candidate who wasn’t so focused on herself and her political aspirations. It seems like she puts a lot of thought into every decision that she makes, as if every little move were planned ahead of time down to the smallest little detail.

Might be a good point here, maybe she should be more like Fred Thompson. Except that Thompson is tanking.

Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool

From an interview that Matt Stoller did with General Wesley Clark Wes Clark Interview, Part One: The Petraeus Ad

Wes Clark: He’s had to hide behind Petraeus. Petraeus is being taken advantage of. In the military you have to be loyal to the chain of command. You have to. And Petraeus knows that if Congress pulls the forces out it will be by his definition a defeat in Iraq and so naturally he’s trying to tell you why he needs those forces and why those forces should be there and that’s no more than what’s to be expected by someone in that position. He’s like the quarterback on the football team, you don’t like the plays that are being called go to the playcaller.

Anyone that has a boss and the time arises as it surely will that you disagree with your boss can relate this this problem, but Clark leaves out an important aspect of Petraeus’s testimony. He came to that testimony with an agenda, How much credence should Gen. Petraeus’ reports be given?

In general, military commanders do not typically pronounce their own strategies to have failed; quite the opposite. The need for skepticism here is particularly acute given that there are plenty of Generals with equally impressive military pedigrees who disagree vigorously with Petraeus. War supporters — who are attempting now to make criticisms of Petraeus off-limits — long disputed the claims and views of Generals Casey and Abaziad, often quite vigorously, even insultingly. The statements about war from military commanders ought to be subjected to every bit as much scrutiny and skepticism as anyone else’s.

Glenn also quotes extensively from an interview G.P. did with war cheerleader Hugh Hewitt. Why did the General do the interview with Hewitt instead of Bill Moyers or Walter Pincus. Because G.P. knew that his views would go unchallenged. Glenn also notes the nice slide presentation that Petraeus did at the St. Regis Hotel which showed the audience a carefully filtered view of what life was like in Baghdad. Here is where General Clark gets it exactly right,

Wes Clark: Moveon’s an organization, and when it does that it distracts from the dialogue that the Senator’s trying to have. Frankly, I think the better course of action is to bring out all the statistics and challenge Petraeus directly to explain how he can say that in the face of all these statistics. Did we do that? Did Moveon do that? Did they lay out the statistics and say ‘Petraeus says this, here’s the other fact he doesn’t tell you, General Petraeus come back to us and explain to us.

Matt Stoller: Absolutely they did that. That’s what the ad was, was there anything in the ad that was factually inaccurate?

Wes Clark: What instead came out was the play on his name, and that’s all that came out. And that was the mistake. If it was a serious ad, did it ask those serious questions, no one could have objected to it.

In that sense the MoveOn ad was self defeating because as General Clark said all that everyone is talking about is not the substance of the ad, the facts in the ad or the facts that Democrats pointed out in Petraeus’s testimony, but the word play with the General’s name. Iraq is still in the middle of a low level civil war; our troops are dying, Iraqis are dying or becoming refugees, yet the U.S. is taking time to have silly votes over this ad. Craven Republicans across the country are giving themselves a big pat on the back for distracting attention away the the substance of the issue – along with corrption, ineptitude something they excel at. Why wasn’t this discussed on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, New Military Numbers Contradict Petraeus on Surge’s Progress

According to the MNC-I data there has been no improvement since either December (The numbers Petraeus and the Administration often cite) or February (when the surge actually began). Why wasn’t Congress shown these numbers in the presentation by General Petraeus? Why only the good news numbers? Why the lack of clarity on Petraeus’s sourcing? Especially since he himself acknowledged that the best numbers come from the MNC-I database.

In terms of actual anomalies

Anomaly A: Somehow in December, the month that is always cited by the Pentagon and the Administration, Petraeus’s Iraqi dead is actually greater than the MNC-I Iraqi Dead + Wounded. That makes absolutely no sense. You can’t have more dead than dead and wounded combined.

Anomaly B: In the months after the surge begins Petraeus’s Iraqi dead numbers are significantly lower than the dead + wounded numbers in the Pentagon report. This is inconsistent with the entire history of the previous year, where the numbers track closely. The only explanation would be a dramatic increase in the wounded to dead ratio. Perhaps there were more car bombings that injured people but didn’t kill them, as opposed to close range executions where victims do not survive. Or maybe there is another explanation. Still it seems inconsistent to see this major split just as the surge begins.

Direct links for anyone that wants to comb through the numbers themselves (pdf format), Pentagon’s civilian-casualty numbers  versus General David Petraeus numbers
Again most people can understand an employee (General Petraeus) putting some spin on his boss’s (Bush) agenda, but Petraeus went beyond that. By way of his making the rounds of various media venues and his report to Congress he sold a picture of Iraq that was and remains severely and dangerously distorted. The Age of Irresponsibility

Even today, despite the crucial role of Blackwater and other private security firms—who employ up to 30,000 operatives in keeping the civilian side of the U.S. occupation going—Iraqis can do nothing if they are abused or killed by them. While many Blackwater operatives are brave and honorable—the company has lost some 30 of its employees in Iraq—many of these paramilitaries have long been known to be cowboys who act as if they are free to commit homicide as they please. And according to numerous Iraqi witnesses, they sometimes do.

Take the case of the Blackwater guard who got drunk at a Green Zone party last Christmas Eve and reportedly boasted to his friends that he was going to kill someone. According to both Iraqi and U.S. officials, he stumbled out and headed provocatively over to the “Little Venice” section, a lovely area of canals where Iraqi officials live. He had an argument with an Iraqi guard, then shot him once in the chest and three times in the back.

MoveOn should have gone for a little irony and labeled their ad Visit General Patraeus’s Fantasy Vacation Paradise, Sunny Iraq.

The Godfather of Alaska is apparently incapable of getting a clue, FBI taped Sen. Stevens’ calls in corruption probe

The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI secret recorded telephone calls between Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens(R) and a wealthy oil contractor as part of a public corruption sting that has nabbed several lawmakers. The AP attributes that to “two people close to the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way.”

AP writes that the contractor, Bill Allen, who is Stevens’ political patron, agreed to the taping last year after authorities confronted him with evidence he had bribed Alaska lawmakers. He pleaded guilty to bribery and is a key witness against Alaska legislators. He also has told prosecutors he paid his employees to renovate the senator’s house.

Ted is an optimist, he gets up every morning seeing each and every day as another opportunity for him and his conservative cronies to make up easy money as they ride the back of taxpayers. Like many Republicans he is most certainly a self made man, an island of meritocracy.

“Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyes. Ave! Old knitter of black wool. Morituri te salutant. Not many of those she looked at ever saw her again–not half, by a long way.” from The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The Bushies and the right-wing echo chamber will deny any and all accountability

It’s blast from the past day. I have quote a few notes from the last six years on the Republican and Bush record on actually supporting the troops. I came across this one today, Shafting, Not ‘Supporting,’ the Troops – Soldiers Face Death in Iraq and Getting Screwed by GOP Pols at Home (July 31, 2003)

“What do you think about the ‘bring them on’ challenge President Bush issued July 2 from the White House, referring to those who attack U.S. troops in Iraq?” Nearly sixty percent agreed with the statement, “It was irresponsible and unnecessarily placed the lives of U.S. troops in even greater danger.”

[ ]…he troops in Iraq are suffering “from low morale that has in some cases hit ‘rock bottom,'” the Christian Science Monitor recently reported. And last week, several soldiers vented their frustration to U.S. television news reporters. “If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I’d ask him for his resignation,” one disgruntled soldier told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, Reuters reported. ‘‘It pretty much makes me lose faith in the Army,” Pfc. Jason Punyhotra of the 3rd Infantry told ABC News in Fallujah, Iraq. ”I don’t really believe anything they tell me. If they told me we were leaving next week, I wouldn’t believe them.”

“I’ve got my own ‘Most Wanted’ list,” a sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters referring to the Administration deck of most wanted Iraqis, told ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman. “The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz,” he said.

But hey this must all be something that the big bad media made up because whenever you go to a Republican blog they get very upset at the idea that not every soldier and marine in Iraq is a water carrier for the wingnuttery.

Bad decisions cannot always be blamed on sex even if with some folks that is often the case, Amen

Rudy is craaaaaaaaazy … Rudy was perfectly capable of getting crazy, stupid ideas, and then forcing them on everyone else, when there was absolutely no sex involved.

CIA Report Blames Tenet for 9/ll Failure

In recounting intelligence failures prior to 9/ll, the inspector general said there was neither “a single point of failure nor a silver bullet” that would have enabled the CIA to predict or prevent the 9/ll attacks.

But the report concludes there were “failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data.”

The report says Tenet “did not use all his authorities in leading the IC’s (intelligence community’s) strategic effort” against bin Laden.

“That’s not fair,” said ABC News consultant Clarke. “Of course there was a strategic effort, and he did raise the issue at the highest levels of government.”

There are some details missing here so let’s wait for the follow-up. In the mean time aren’t we all a little confused. Bush is the Decider, The Commander Guy. Why didn’t he have a comprehensive plan in place nine months after being in office. Rice Falsely Claims Clinton Administration Did Not Leave A ‘Strategy To Fight Al Qaeda’

Clarke, who also worked for the Bush administration, wrote Condoleezza Rice a memo as soon as the Bush administration took office, stating, “[W]e urgently need…a Principals level review of the al Qida network.” His request was denied.

Title of a pdf file from this link, “A Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Al-Qaeda”? Vice versus Clinton on January 2001 Clarke Memo

Bush Administration’s First Memo on al-Qaeda Declassified

Washington, D.C., February 10, 2005 – The National Security Archive today posted the widely-debated, but previously unavailable, January 25, 2001, memo from counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke to national security advisor Condoleezza Rice – the first terrorism strategy paper of the Bush administration. The document was central to debates in the 9/11 hearings over the Bush administration’s policies and actions on terrorism before September 11, 2001. Clarke’s memo requests an immediate meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss broad strategies for combating al-Qaeda by giving counterterrorism aid to the Northern Alliance and Uzbekistan, expanding the counterterrorism budget and responding to the U.S.S. Cole attack. Despite Clarke’s request, there was no Principals Committee meeting on al-Qaeda until September 4, 2001.

The January 25, 2001, memo, recently released to the National Security Archive by the National Security Council, bears a declassification stamp of April 7, 2004, one day prior to Rice’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission on April 8, 2004. Responding to claims that she ignored the al-Qaeda threat before September 11, Rice stated in a March 22, 2004 Washington Post op-ed, “No al Qaeda plan was turned over to the new administration.”

Two days after Rice’s March 22 op-ed, Clarke told the 9/11 Commission, “there’s a lot of debate about whether it’s a plan or a strategy or a series of options — but all of the things we recommended back in January were those things on the table in September. They were done. They were done after September 11th. They were all done. I didn’t really understand why they couldn’t have been done in February.”

The CIA makes priorities based on executive branch initiatives or lack there of. We’ve had this particular accountability moment before and the result is the same. The Bushies and the right-wing echo chamber will deny any and all accountability. Its what they do.

Should you light one up to get past writer’s block ? Is this the end of English literature?

What do the following have in common: Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Evelyn Waugh, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis?

[ ]…I have been racking my brains to find a single non-smoker among the great English poets or novelists of the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. Possibly, Keats had to lay off the pipe tobacco a bit after he developed tuberculosis.

Otherwise, from Swift and Pope to Cowper and Wordsworth, from Byron to Charles Lamb, they were all smokers.

You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”

Just in case you missed it an excerpt from How to Win a Fight with a Conservative by Dan Kurtzman

False Choice: Offering only two options for consideration when there are clearly other valid choices.

Example: “If we give up the fight in the streets of Baghdad, we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.” —George W. Bush

Strawman: Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact. In doing this, your opponent sets up a figurative strawman that he can easily knock down to prove his point.

Example: “Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.” —Karl Rove

Shifting The Burden of Proof: Presenting an argument as commonly accepted truth, failing to support it with any evidence, and then forcing you to prove otherwise. This tactic is employed out of laziness or to mask the reality that the facts are not on your opponent’s side.

Example: “I think the burden is on those people who think he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are.” —[Former White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer, on Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMDs

Slippery Slope Leaping to wild, sometimes inexplicable conclusions—going, say, from Step One to Step Two and then all the way to Step Ten without establishing any discernible connection. By using this kind of leapfrog logic, a person can come to any conclusion he damn well pleases.

Example: “All of a sudden, we see riots, we see protests, we see people clashing. The next thing we know, there is injured or there is dead people. We don’t want to get to that extent.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the dangers posed by gay marriage.

Probably the most often heard unsupported assertion we here is that Iraq is not only the front in the war on terror, a misleading statement and ultimately part of what fuels the Bush cycle of defeat, but the often shrill assertion that extracting ourselves from that quagmire will result in members of the “greatCaliphate” coming to America. The consequences,

And then we will have to be Muslims and “our women” will be forced into burkas and there will be no more music or gay bars or churches or blogs. This is an actual fear that they have — not a theoretical fear but one that is pressing, urgent, at the forefront of their worldview.

And their key political beliefs — from Iraq to Iran to executive power and surveillance theories at home — are animated by the belief that all of this is going to happen. The Republican presidential primary is, for much of the “base,” a search for who will be the toughest and strongest in protecting us from the Islamic invasion — a term that is not figurative or symbolic, but literal: the formidable effort by Islamic radicals to invade the U.S. and take over our institutions and dismantle our government and force us to submit to Islamic rule or else be killed.

This serves to remind us of some of the many contradictory accusations that the Right regurgitates regularly – liberals are communists or liberals are the rich intellectual elite. We’re neither and damn close to impossible to be both. Much like the constant accusation that liberals are hostile to religion, but they sometimes in the very next breath accuse liberals of loving jihadists. Some of the Right is well aware of the contradiction, but what counts in that they push the maximum amount of demonizing into the debate in as few barely intelligible words as possible i.e “Oversimplifying, exaggerating, caricaturing, of otherwise misrepresenting your position without regard to fact.”

Chris Floyd adds up Bush’s record in Iraq and the latest round of administration hyperbole and actions directed at Iran. Chris draws conclusions. They’re disturbing, but at this point what actions have the Bushies taken that were not maliciousness mixed with arrogance, Project Management: Bushists Through the Looking-Glass on Iran Charges

..that the Bush Administration has been fomenting sectarian and political violence in Iraq by arming – and in some cases, creating – militias, factions, terrorist groups, death squads and overt and covert “security forces.” [See Appendix below.] Based on reports taken from the publicly available sources, most often from Pentagon and White House officials, it is clear that over the course of the war, the groups thus supported and empowered by the Bush Administration have included practically every side in the kaleidoscopic conflict that has torn the conquered nation apart: Baathists, Shiites and Sunnis of various stripes, Kurds, tribes, spies, even a group of exiled Iranian cultists that Saddam Hussein had employed as brutal muscle in repressing his people.

The only thing that Bush has succeed at is the intensification and prolonging of the violence and sectarian divisions in Iraq. All the while of course using the boots on the ground as expendable pawns – something of a well established standard operation procedure of the Mayberry Machiavellis.

How good lawyers sprout whiskers and top hats after drinking too much national-security punch

Early in the argument in the first case, Hepting v. AT&T, Judge McKeown asked Deputy Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre whether President Bush still stood behind his statement that the government does no domestic wiretapping without first obtaining a court warrant. Garre said yes. McKeown wondered aloud how it can possibly be “a state secret” that that the government is not intercepting millions of customers’ communications illegally. How can the absence of an illegal program be a secret?

In a rhetorical flourish that would impress even the March Hare, Garre responded that if the appeals court allowed that issue to proceed to trial, the plaintiffs would be “forcing the government to prove a negative … that takes us precisely into the heartland of state secrets.” Follow along, little children: If the government had to prove that something that doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen, it would have to divulge everything that does happen. Um, how’s that?

March Hare: You might just as well say, that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”!
The Dormouse: You might just as well say, that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”! – from Alice in Wonderland

There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery

First a little background, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force is the name of the combination development and security force created by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the U.S. is a member). It is not just some guys standing around with neat uniforms, they have been involved in combat missions involving the Taliban, al-Queda and tribal factions in Afghanistan. Yesterday there was this announcement from the Bushies, Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’. The reason given by the administration for the sudden urgency for this new declaration was Iran’s suspected support of radical factions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Here’s where the ISAF comes in, Ahmadinejad doubts Iran supplying weapons to Taliban

Officials from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have said they have no proof that top Iranian leaders have engineered or approved of weapons being supplied to the Taliban.

Ahmadinejad is something of a Middle-Eastern Karl Rove so we can ignore him, but difficult to ignore the ISAF. Even if the administration is not outright lying they seem to be spinning in the same way they did in to the lead up to invading Iraq – Iraq on the Record is a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials. Andrew Sullivan has this posted from another conservative in regards to the tangled relationship between Iraq and Iran, A Not-So-Strange Quiet

I went inside the Tactical Operations Center and spoke to the Public Affairs Officer. “What can I help you with, Mike?” he said.

“I want an on-the-record interview with Military Intelligence,” I said. “Why?” he said. I told him what I had heard. “I can print rumor or fact,” I said. He got me the interview.

Master Sergeant Jeffrey K. Tyler met with me privately. “It’s true,” he said. “Many of the Iraqi Army soldiers here are supporters of JAM.” JAM is military shorthand for Jaysh al Mahdi, or Moqtada al Sadr’s radical Shia Mahdi Army militia.

“They aren’t in JAM cells necessarily, but they are sympathizers. They may let JAM guys through checkpoints, for example. They aren’t out kidnapping Sunnis or anything like that. They are sympathizers, not direct actors. Almost all the Iraqi Army soldiers here are Shias.”

“Is their presence here the reason we aren’t getting mortared?” I said. “Because the Mahdi Army doesn’t want to blow up their own people?”

“We think that’s probably so,” he said and nodded with confidence.

I didn’t hear that in the briefing when I first got there. (all emphasis mine)

Iraq already has diplomatic and economic ties to Tehran. The story from the Pakistan newspaper is mostly an account of a meeting betweeen the Bush approved Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iranian leader Ahmadinejad. Lots of fuuny foriegn sounding names, acronyms, places, meetings all of which will be lost in the average day’s flood of information. The only thing that will stick is Bush or a pundit proxy saying the words threat, security, America and possibly some mention of god. The power of the presidential soapbox. A position that Bush has used to great effect. What goes unnoticed is how he does not use that soapbox. He never uses it to clarify, to inform the American public of subtle details that would god forbid give the American public a truer picture of what is happening.

Maybe its the toxic level of hairspray and make-up that prevents  Sean Allergic To The Truth Hannity from sticking to the facts. Telling the truth or at least being in the close proximity of same is part of the responsibility of even dime a dozen right-wing pundits. Of course Sean’s parents should have taught him that rather then waiting forty years and learning it from Media MattersHannity repeatedly mischaracterized Obama remarks, accused him of “political missteps”

* While interviewing Romney, Hannity played a video clip of Obama’s August 13 campaign appearance in Nashua, New Hampshire, during which Obama said, “We’ve got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan] and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.” During the interview with Mendell, Hannity referred to Obama’s purported “political missteps” and characterized Obama as “accusing” U.S. forces of “air-raiding villages and killing civilians.” However, U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan — and accounts of resulting civilian casualties — have been widely reported in the media and have reportedly provoked criticism from Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a British commander stationed there. The Associated Press reported in a “Fact Check” responding to conservative attacks on Obama that “Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents.”
* Hannity claimed that Obama has stated his “willingness to invade an ally against their will,” referring to Pakistan. However, as Media Matters for America repeatedly noted, Obama never said he would “invade Pakistan.” Rather, Obama stated in an August 1 speech: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets [in Pakistan] and President [Pervez] Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Obama wants to attack terrorists targets, Sean gets upset. Doesn’t that make Sean a terrorists loving appeaser. Just saying.

Army suicide rate highest in 26 years

“…Nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of native–he called them enemies!–hidden out of sight somewhere.” from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Autumn Maple – Indiana

 Autumn Maple – Indiana

YOUNG George Willard got out of bed at four in the morning. It was April and the young tree leaves were just coming out of their buds. The trees along the residence streets in Winesburg are maple and the seeds are winged. When the wind blows they whirl crazily about, filling the air and making a carpet underfoot.
George came downstairs into the hotel office carrying a brown leather bag. His trunk was packed for departure. Since two o’clock he had been awake thinking of the journey he was about to take and wondering what he would find at the end of his journey.

from Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

news organizations should fight the shallowness of the format by providing the facts — not embrace it by reporting on a presidential race as if it were a high-school popularity contest

No Confidence Vote on Gonzalez this Monday

“If all senators who have actually lost confidence in Attorney General Gonzales voted their conscience, this vote would be unanimous.”

“However, the President will certainly exert pressure to support the Attorney General, his longtime friend. We will soon see where people’s loyalties lie.”

True enough if those people, meaning if Republicans such as Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Sununu (R-NH) and Arlen “talks a good game” Specter(PA) would actually have the courage to back up their words with actions the No Confidence vote shouldn’t just squeak by it should pass so hard and fast that it knocks the smirk off the Chimp-in-Chief’s face. Everyone does it, the blogs, the pundits, the print and TV media… such and such Republican was critical of Bush on this or that issue and we never hear much about how those Republicans, supposedly of independent mind and principle actually voted. The vast majority of the time they voted how their masters at the Whitehouse told them to vote ( the current immigration bill the glaring single exception of the last six years). Republicans have nothing to lose by playing this little game. Come election time they can playback their little snip of criticism if that is the way the political winds are blowing or they can brag about voting along with the Bushies should the political winds shift that way.

I readily admit that I was one of those who thought that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (originally published in 1953) was largely a commentary about censorship, authoritarian government and to some degree about the dumping down of society. On the last bit, the watering down of ideas into “factoids” I was right, but otherwise me and quite a few other people got it wrong, Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted L.A.’s august Pulitzer honoree says it was never about censorship

Now, Bradbury has decided to make news about the writing of his iconographic work and what he really meant. Fahrenheit 451 is not, he says firmly, a story about government censorship. Nor was it a response to Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose investigations had already instilled fear and stifled the creativity of thousands.

As some people might find this too incredible to believe from a newspaper Bradbury has put up a video clip of his thoughts here. Bradbury’s great fear was that television, still in its infancy in 1953 would kill off books. While TV may not be the great informer many wish it would be it has contributed to an increase in book sales. Most people whether they would like to admit it or not rely too much on a few minutes of TV news to inform their opinions about issues. That said TV also serves as just background noise and night light, Public’s Grasp of Current Issues Unchanged Despite Internet, Cable TV

Despite the emergence of 24-hour cable television news and fast-growing use of internet news sources, the U.S. public’s knowledge of national and international personalities and issues is little changed from nearly 20 years ago, according to a new survey released by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press.

Indeed, the survey, which was conducted in early February, found that in some areas public knowledge may actually have declined somewhat.

While three out of four U.S. respondents could name their state’s governor in 1989, for example, only two-thirds could do so today. Similarly, nearly half (47 percent) could correctly identify the president of Russia 18 years ago, compared to only 36 percent today.

Fifties toys and books 

Don’t Ask, Don’t Translate

IMAGINE for a moment an American soldier deep in the Iraqi desert. His unit is about to head out when he receives a cable detailing an insurgent ambush right in his convoy’s path. With this information, he and his soldiers are now prepared for the danger that lies ahead.

Reports like these are regularly sent from military translators’ desks, providing critical, often life-saving intelligence to troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the military has a desperate shortage of linguists trained to translate such invaluable information and convey it to the war zone.

The lack of qualified translators has been a pressing issue for some time — the Army had filled only half its authorized positions for Arabic translators in 2001. Cables went untranslated on Sept. 10 that might have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Today, the American Embassy in Baghdad has nearly 1,000 personnel, but only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers.

I was an Arabic translator. After joining the Navy in 2003, I attended the Defense Language Institute, graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and then spent two years giving our troops the critical translation services they desperately needed. I was ready to serve in Iraq.

But I never got to. In March, I was ousted from the Navy under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which mandates dismissal if a service member is found to be gay.

To paraphrase John Stewart, that would be the worse possible event in the world, a gay hero saving America. Or at least that is what the current herd of wing-nuts running for president think and is a nightmare shared by many of their so-called patriotic supporters.

Lies, Sighs and Politics

Now fast forward to last Tuesday. Asked whether we should have invaded Iraq, Mr. Romney said that war could only have been avoided if Saddam “had opened up his country to I.A.E.A. inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no weapons of mass destruction.” He dismissed this as an “unreasonable hypothetical.”

Except that Saddam did, in fact, allow inspectors in. Remember Hans Blix? When those inspectors failed to find nonexistent W.M.D., Mr. Bush ordered them out so that he could invade. Mr. Romney’s remark should have been the central story in news reports about Tuesday’s debate. But it wasn’t.

Krugman also points out Senator Clinton’s avoidance problem when it comes to health-care. I don’t have a absolute favorite at the moment, but the one big issue that I have with Senator Clinton is her politics as usual approach. I’m looking forward to a new president for many reasons, but It would also be great for the country to turn the corner, stop hedging on the issues, stop playing the same old game. It seems like Obama, Edwards and even a new invigorated Al Gore ( should he decide to run) could do more to accomplish that then Clinton.

“…news organizations should fight the shallowness of the format by providing the facts — not embrace it by reporting on a presidential race as if it were a high-school popularity contest.” – Paul Krugman

“so it goes”

This isn’t going to go over very well, but here goes. Shock jock Imus has been fired from the MSNBC simulcast so this is somewhat after the fact. Imus has been on radio for like 276 years, he did his first radio show with Ben Franklin and didn’t think much of the whole lightning rod theory and thought the Continental Congress was a bunch of whining twits. He has been a repugnant pile of worthless crap ever since – his endorsement of Senator Kerry in 2004 probably did more to hurt then help. It was perfectly justified to be angry at him, to call for an apology, but calling for him to loose his job crossed the line into censorship. ABC hired Rush Limbaugh to be a commentator on the old Monday Night football and then when he was true to form and made a racist remark people were shocked, just shocked. That Limbaugh and Imus have a history of racism and misogyny is well known – where was the outrage years ago. The advertisers keep pouring money into the coffers of the likes of Imus and Limbaugh because they have listeners or fans who in between snickering at lame repugnant humor buy their products. Imus is just the part of the malignant growth that you can see. He wouldn’t have survived on radio for decades without a base of support and advertisers to go along – firing Imus is like cutting off a dandelion head, you haven’t killed the root. And calling for the termination of his employment, especially after a public apology doesn’t give people like Imus much incentive to change their ways it just pushes the racism and misogyny under the rug. I’ve heard some good arguments against Imus especially from the coach and members of the Rutgers University basketball team. That is how you win against the thinly and not so thinly veiled hate of the Imuses and Limbaughs, you hold them up for ridicule against enlightened thought and better ideas. The for those that are more New Testament centered there is always forgiveness, Edwards On Imus Spat: ‘I Believe In Forgiveness’

“I believe in redemption, I believe in forgiveness,” Edwards said of Imus, who was suspended earlier in the week after calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy headed hos.” Since then, Imus has repeatedly apologized for his comments and met with Rev. Al Sharpton, who called for the outspoken radio host’s firing. Imus has also agreed to meet with the Rutgers team, who would not comment on whether or not they believed he should be fired.

[ ]…”What he said is wrong because it’s wrong. It has to be condemned, we have to speak out when people use this kind of language,” Edwards said. “This is a very serious matter, it should be taken very seriously.”

Speaking out is the way. If liberals or moderate Republicans, independents or whoever insists everyone be fired for practicing free speech, even repugnant free speech we’re going to have streets full of jobless people. Condemn the Imuses, the Limbaughs, the Coulters, the Pat Robertsons, the O’Reilly’s and Malkins, but we need to stop short of being an angry mob that decides who works and who doesn’t – if their audience eventually gets a clue and sees how deeply stupid and morally vacant these pundits are, demands for their termination won’t be necessary they’ll just become obsolete. This free speech issue is going to inevitably come back to bite those that have pushed for Imus’s firing. Kevin Drum has some thoughts along similar lines from Condeleezza Rice’s cousin(strange world), HOS AND BITCHES

On the Imus insult meter, “nappy-headed hos” wouldn’t rate above a 3. It doesn’t even come close to one of his meaner riffs. Regular listeners of the show expect racist and sexist banter. As Imus explained to Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” in 1998, his show has someone specially assigned to do “nigger jokes.” But rest assured, the Imus crew has plenty of kike, wetback, mick, spick, dago, Jap, Chink, redneck and unprintable Catholic priest jokes too. Not to mention the rabid homophobia and occasional Islamophobia.

….But there’s also no basis for firing him or ending his show. Firing Imus for racist riffs would be like firing Liberace for flamboyance. It’s what he does.

More to the point, Imus should only be fired when the black artists who make millions of dollars rapping about black bitches and hos lose their recording contracts. Black leaders should denounce Imus and boycott him and call for his head only after they do the same for the misogynist artists with whom they have shared stages, magazine covers and awards shows.

I don’t know that consistency is such a great virtue, but as much as it pains me to defend the first amendment rights of hate radio it has to be done. Be outraged at what they say, write stations and demand better – more insight, genuine humor and overall better programming would work for me, but no demands about punish people for exercising their rights while at the same time looking the other way when at least a small portion of pop culture is saying the same thing with bad music layered on top.

Bush aides’ use of GOP e-mail probed

The White House said Wednesday it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business.

Congressional investigators looking into the administration’s firing of eight federal prosecutors already had the nongovernmental e-mail accounts in their sights because some White House aides used them to help plan the U.S. attorneys’ ouster. Democrats were questioning whether the use of the GOP-provided e-mail accounts was proof that the firings were political.

Democrats also have been asking if White House officials are purposely conducting sensitive official presidential business via nongovernmental accounts to get around a law requiring preservation – and eventual disclosure – of presidential records.

Those e-mail accounts are not like The Republican National Committee e-mail accounts, they are RNC accounts. As Josh Marshall notes this might be a fortuitous opportunity for the NSA or the FBI is show their stuff and let the computer forensics experts loose on those mail servers.

Dammit, this pisses me off. There are never enough good people in the world and to lose one is heart breaking, Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84

His last book, in 2005, was a collection of biographical essays, “A Man Without a Country.” It, too, was a best seller.

In concludes with a poem written by Mr. Vonnegut called “Requiem,” which has these closing lines:

When the last living thing

has died on account of us,

how poetical it would be

if Earth could say,

in a voice floating up


from the floor

of the Grand Canyon,

“It is done.”

People did not like it here.