Friday, September 01, 2006

Amazing! A Media Analysis I Can Agree With!

My Way News - Analysis: Bush Struggles to Deliver:
Bush faces a daunting number of simultaneous international crises as he tries to shore up flagging support at home for the Iraq war and roll back nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.

Sectarian violence remains rampant in Iraq, suicide attacks are increasing in Afghanistan and a truce in southern Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas is wobbly. Iran and North Korea ignore his insistence that they must not have nuclear weapons. Syria turns a deaf ear to U.S. demands that it stop supporting terrorism.

A U.N. Security Council deadline came and went on Thursday for Iran to stop uranium enrichment, yet veto-wielding Russia and China are resisting Bush's call for stiff sanctions. Likewise, six-nation talks to restrict North Korea's nuclear program have been stalled for months.

Some analysts suggest Bush has overreached, or set the bar impossibly high, laying out goals he cannot achieve - while not acknowledging blunders.

'Spreading democracy, eradicating terrorism, ending Iran's nuclear potential. Those are huge goals. When one makes an assessment and sees that none of these is closer to being achieved, it becomes a real problem for America's credibility,' said Shibley Telhami, a Mideast scholar at the University of Maryland.


It's the administration's third public relations offensive in less than a year to try to rally support for the war.

Violence persists in Iraq as U.S. public opinion turns increasingly against the war, a big liability for Republicans on the ballot in November. More than 2,600 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003.

Fully one-third of Americans think the terrorists may be winning the war, an AP-Ipsos poll suggested this week. It showed that Iraq worries have spilled over into the broader campaign against terrorists who directly target the United States. Half in the poll questioned whether the costs of the anti-terror campaign are too great, and even more admit that thought has crossed their mind.

And The Good News: - GOP lags in key races for Senate:
As the Labor Day weekend launches a final nine weeks of campaigning, USA TODAY/Gallup Polls in five key states show Democrats poised to gain Senate seats but facing an uphill battle to regain control.

Democrats seem more likely to carry the House in the Nov. 7 elections, which are being shaped by voters' unease over Iraq, jobs and health care and a sense that the nation is on the wrong track.

'The environment for the majority party is extremely bad,' says political scientist David Rohde of Duke University. 'There's certainly plenty of time for things to be shaken up ... (but) it would take something really huge' to turn around GOP fortunes.

Hmmmm. Ya' Think?

Growing doubts about war on terror - U.S. Security -
“Things are moving very slowly and not going very well,” said Brown, a freelance writer in Northern Virginia. “There’s Osama bin Laden still running free. We’re deeper into Afghanistan and deeper into Iraq. I don’t see any end to it.”

Not everyone agrees the war in Iraq is central to the war on terror, as the Bush administration maintains. Six in 10 polled think there will be more terrorism in this country because the U.S. went to war in Iraq. Some feel strongly that the two wars are separate.

“They’ve been successful in the war on terrorism as long as you distinguish between the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism,” said Eva Washington, a semiretired nurse from Washington, D.C. “We allowed Iraq to become a home to terrorists by going over there.”

And they are divided about whether they are losing personal freedoms, according to polling done between Aug. 7-17 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

“I think there’s a fatigue about the price of doing these activities,” said Robert Blendon, a specialist in public opinion at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “There’s also a concern about the competency of how well we’re doing them.”

Watching The Watchers

Pentagon to monitor media coverage of Iraq - Politics -
WASHINGTON - The U.S. command in Baghdad is seeking bidders for a two-year, $20 million (euro15.6 million) public relations contract for monitoring the tone of news stories about the Iraq war filed by U.S. and foreign media.

Proposals, due Sept. 6, ask companies to show how they would 'provide continuous monitoring and near-real time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international and U.S. media,' according to the solicitation issued last week.
I'm sure it's just to make sure the media are getting it right, right? Yeah, that's the ticket! It's not because anyone would want to intimidate or interfere with a free press now would they?

Yeah, Well...

My Way News - No Action Imminent Against Defiant Iran:
Ahmadinejad denounced the United States Thursday, accusing it of applying a double standard to its foreign policy.

'They claim to be supporting freedom but they support the most tyrannical governments in the world to pursue their own interests,' he told a crowd of thousands in the northwestern town of Orumiyeh.

'The Iranian nation will not succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights,' Ahmadinejad said.
It's hard to take the moral high ground when we're such an easy target. The U.S. ends up playing straight-man to this clown, and the populations of both nations end up as bystanders.

No Kidding?

My Way News - Va. Senator Who Used Slur Declines Award:
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A senator who had singled out an Indian man at a campaign event and referred to him as 'Macaca' declined a leadership award from a minority scholarship fund Thursday after donors protested his selection.

Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund donors had threatened to withhold contributions if Sen. George Allen, a Republican seeking re-election this fall, received the fund's Community Leadership Award.

'The foundation told the senator that they've been catching a lot of static from members and some of their donors, and before it spins into a week of controversy, we just decided to decline it,' Allen spokesman John Reid said.
Hard to miss the writing on the wall when the wall hits you in the face.

Why We Need To Get Out: No. 1

My Way News - Pentagon Says Iraq Violence Spreading:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, the Pentagon said Friday.

In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon said illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of security as well as basic social services.

The report described a rising tide of sectarian violence, fed in part by interference from neighboring Iran and Syria and driven by a 'vocal minority' of religious extremists who oppose the idea of a democratic Iraq.

Death squads targeting mainly Iraqi civilians are a growing problem, heightening the risk of civil war, it said.
Bush, Cheney, Rummy, and Condi can say whatever they want (we're not believing them anyway), but the generals know and are even saying that things are getting worse in Iraq as time goes by, not better. You can bet it's worse than the Pentagon is willing to say. "Staying the course" isn't cutting it. We need new leadership and new direction pronto.

Matthew Makes A Point On TPM

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: August 27, 2006 - September 02, 2006 Archives:
I and everyone else have been complaining awhile about Bush's habit of conflating various groups. We see here, though, that this isn't just some matter of intellectual fastidiousness. The idea here is that absent the US military, we would be handing Iraq over to some nefarious -- and, admittedly, it would be quite nefarious -- coalition of Baathists, Iranians, and al-Qaedists, presumably joined by Dr. Evil and the Cobra Commander. Back in the real world, though, these groups are fighting each other. What's more, the 'armed groups with ties to Iran' include the political parties that comprise the Iraqi government. So what is it our troops are accomplishing amidst this frothy mix of bad actors?

In all seriousness, what? Because here's the rub. If we were looking at a situation where maybe the decision to launch the war didn't look like such a hot idea, and maybe the reconstruction had proven much more difficult than we'd hoped, and maybe the slog so far had been long and hard and looked to continue to be long and hard for a while, I still could easily see myself convinced that the best thing to do was stay firm and continue with the policy. But looking back over, say, the past three years since the end of our first summer in Iraq, it doesn't appear to be the case that the situation has improved at all with regard to the problems Bush is pointing to. So what, honestly, is the point? What about the events of the past year makes it look like things will be better one year from today? Already, the apparent gains from the Baghdad security initiative are looking mighty short-lived, just as every skepticism-minded person predicted.
It's just more of the same from BushCo. Too bad Iran has even more oil than Iraq. That puts them in BushCo's sights, and what an easy launching point for an Iranian invasion northern-Iraq makes! It's sickening, but it's happening. The covert ops squads are in Iran all ready, mapping targets and setting up suckers for the future. We have to get BushCo out of power before this happens if we want to keep a semblance of world peace and stability, let alone gas for under $5.00 a gallon.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Frist Gets Detention

My Way News - Frist Expected to Get Medical Board Fine:
Spokeswoman Andrea Turner said Frist, a prominent heart-lung surgeon before coming to the Senate in 1995, is expected to be fined $40 for every hour of continuing education he did not complete. He also will have to make up the missed hours of continuing education within the next six months and do an extra 10 penalty hours within the year, she said.
Catkiller gets off easy. Figures!

Too Ridiculous For Words

My Way News - Poll: Harris Leads Fla. GOP Senate Race:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Congresswoman Katherine Harris holds a double-digit lead in the race for Florida's Republican U.S. Senate nomination less than a week before the primary, according to a poll released Thursday.

However, the poll also indicates that a large number of Republicans haven't settled on a candidate, and about a third of those supporting Harris said they still might change their minds.

'If Rep. Harris had only one opponent she might be in deep trouble,' said Peter Brown, assistant polling director for the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which conducted the poll last week. 'But having three candidates splitting the anti-Harris vote is a major plus for her.'
I'm speechless. How about you?

Good Question, Good Point

There Is Silence in the Streets; Where Have All the Protesters Gone? - New York Times:
Student protesters helped drive Lyndon Johnson — in so many ways a powerful, progressive president — out of office because of his war. In 2004, George W. Bush — in so many ways a weak, regressive president — was re-elected despite his war. And the campuses were silent.

There was a brief burst of protest when America first invaded Iraq. But if there is a college movement against the war, it’s hiding pretty well. Vietnam never had the moral clarity that the 9/11 attacks provided to this generation’s war. But in Iraq that proved to be a false clarity, and a majority of Americans now say they oppose the war and no longer trust Mr. Bush’s leadership of it.

But because there is no draft — a fact that Graham Nash noted sardonically on Sunday night — no young person has to fear being conscripted into the fight. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Americans find it much easier to stay silent when there is no shared sacrifice.
BushCo knows that instituting a draft would be the end of their little party. Preying on the poor with high-pressure recruitment tactics is so much more effective.

DejaVu All Over Again

U.S. Drafting Sanctions as Iran Is Defiant - New York Times:
In addition, the sanctions effort may also be hampered by a report to be issued Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, in which inspectors will describe only slow progress by Iran in enriching uranium.

The report, according to diplomats familiar with its contents, will describe how Iran has resumed producing small amounts of enriched uranium since temporarily stopping in the spring, but has not increased the rate of production.

Furthermore, the report is expected to say that the purity of the uranium enrichment would not be high enough for use in nuclear weapons, but only for power plants. Iran has long insisted that its program is for peaceful purposes only.
And yet the Pentagon just issued a report that halves the time Iran will have the bomb to five years. Hmmmm. Could that have anything to do with the pressure the wingnuts are putting on the intelligence community to be more "realistic" with reports on Iran's nuclear program? Naaahhhhh! That couldn't be it.

Your Tax Money At Work -- NOT!

My Way News:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. government should have been quicker to employ local firms to help rebuild Iraq instead of relying on U.S. corporations whose contracts gave them no incentive to minimize costs, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The top U.S. auditor for Iraqi reconstruction also said it was too early to say whether Iraqis would 'get value for money' from the $22 billion Washington is investing on rebuilding postwar Iraq. The program has been beset by complaints of waste, fraud and corruption that his office is investigating.

Ohio Shame

Ohio to Delay Destruction of Presidential Ballots - New York Times:
“There is a gap between the numbers provided in the local level records, which until recently no one has been allowed to see, and the official final tallies that were publicly released after this election, and we want to figure out why that gap is there.”

The planned action of Mr. Blackwell, a Republican who is running for governor, and the threatened suit could draw attention to possible irregularities in the election that he supervised.

The suit would follow what researchers call the first time anyone other than county and state officials in Ohio have been given such extensive access to the main material from the previous presidential election.

After eight months inspecting 35,000 ballots from 75 rural and urban precincts, the critics say that they have found many with signs of tampering and that in some precincts the number of voters differs significantly from the certified results.
The more you sniff it, the more it stinks. The investigators were not allowed access to all 5.6 million ballots in the election until the Leaque of Women Voters agreed not to contest the results of the 2004 election. Hmmmmm. Apparently the officials are afraid a close investigation might reveal something about those results. I think we know what that would be.

Your Tax Money At Work -- NOT!

My Way News:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. government should have been quicker to employ local firms to help rebuild Iraq instead of relying on U.S. corporations whose contracts gave them no incentive to minimize costs, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The top U.S. auditor for Iraqi reconstruction also said it was too early to say whether Iraqis would 'get value for money' from the $22 billion Washington is investing on rebuilding postwar Iraq. The program has been beset by complaints of waste, fraud and corruption that his office is investigating.

Rummy, Rummy, Rummy

My Way News:
'With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?' Rumsfeld asked.

Rumsfeld said 'any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere' in any long war.
He's absolutely right; only trouble is he's the one who is the vicious extremist who happens to be wrong! At least the Dems aren't sitting for it:
"If Mr. Rumsfeld is so concerned with comparisons to World War Two, he should explain why our troops have now been fighting in Iraq longer than it took our forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, House of Representatives Democratic Leader.

"Desperate to divert attention from his many failures as Defense Secretary, Rumsfeld is resorting to tactics that would make Joe McCarthy proud," added Rep. Pete Stark of California, referring to the disgraced Republican senator who with scant evidence accused many Americans of being Communists or sympathizers in the 1950s.

"The sooner Rumsfeld resigns, the safer America will be," Stark added.


Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Services Committee and retired Army officer, said, "Secretary Rumsfeld continually substitutes sloganeering for strategy. And any strategy relies not only on a plan, but also adequate resources. And in the case of Iraq, there was no adequate planning and insufficient resources from the very beginning."

"If there is a moral and intellectual confusion about this war, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is the one that is confused. His overly optimistic mischaracterizations of this war continue to confuse and dishearten Americans," added Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a leading critic of the Iraq war.
Now if only the moderate Republicans would come to their senses and help with the oversight needed to curb this administration's misguided blood-lust. BTW, whatever happened to the moderate Republicans?

Two Hours Of Sleep, An Overnight Shift, And Alone In The Tower

My Way News - Feds Say Air Controller Slept 2 Hours:
The crash threw a spotlight on another practice aviation experts say goes on around the country: Small regional airports are sometimes manned by a single air traffic controller, even though federal rules require two.

The FAA has directed Blue Grass Airport and others like it to staff their towers with at least two controllers. But the FAA has acknowledged that only one was working Sunday in Lexington during the crash.
Ever since the Reagan-era, traffic controllers have had a rough time. As for cutting corners by understaffing control towers, well, I'm sure the industry thinks it's cost-efficient.
Comair offered to pay $25,000 per passenger to each family who lost a loved one. Meanwhile, law firms lined up to represent families who may want to sue.
Or maybe not.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Think Progress » From Hype To Hysteria: Fox News Selling Preemptive War Against Iran

That this is reprehensible sensationalism at its lowest goes without saying. That it is warmongering most foul is obvious. That many people actually watch and believe what they see on Fox News is as disturbing as it is depressing.

George Allen, White Supremacist?

Max Blumenthal of The Nation has some supporting evidence.

The CCC has hosted several conservative Republican legislators at its conferences, including former Representative Bob Barr of Georgia and Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi. But mostly it has been a source of embarrassment to Republicans hoping to move their party beyond its race-baiting image. Former Reagan speechwriter and conservative pundit Peggy Noonan pithily declared that anyone involved with the CCC "does not deserve to be in a leadership position in America."

Go read.

Frist Didn't Do His Homework

My Way News - Frist Medical License Renewal Questioned:
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist acknowledged Tuesday that he may not have met all the requirements needed to keep his medical license active - even though he gave paperwork to Tennessee officials indicating that he had."

And then he lied about it on state forms! His spinners are trying to say he wasn't aware of the new rules (from 2002) that 40 hours of continuing education every two years are required to keep active certification, but the form he signed mentions it specifically. I hope somebody checks his tax returns for the last few years. I'm just sayin'.

Trying Something New

This is a test of the new (beta) Windows Live Writer software. If it works, I may use it to work with all of my blogs.

Fascism Is The New Terrorism

My Way News - Republicans Target 'Islamic Fascism':
While 'fascism' once referred to the rigid nationalistic one-party dictatorship first instituted in Italy, it has 'been used very loosely in all kinds of ways for a long time,' said Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis.

'Typically, the Bush administration finds its vocabulary someplace in the middle ground of popular culture. It seems to me that they're trying to find something that resonates, without any effort to really define what they mean,' Fields said.


Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group and they found the word 'fascist.'

"Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you're going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can," Wayne said.

After all, the hard-line Iranian newspaper Jomhuri Eskami did just that in an editorial last week blasting Bush's "Islamic fascism" phrase. It called Bush a "21st century Hitler" and British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "21st century Mussolini."
I am rubber, you are glue; names bounce off me and stick on you!

It always bothered me that the U.S. couldn't cry foul on the elections in Iraq, which elected theocratic principles to become a religious state because the wingnuts here are attempting to do the same thing. If we had been able to show and promote separation of church and state as a provision of democratic government without which true democracy is impossible, maybe this wouldn't be happening. It's one thing to refuse, say, to have an abortion on religious grounds, and to deny abortion to others on religious grounds. The former is being pious. The latter is being fascist. The trend is just as strong and dangerous whether its Christian of Islamic fundamentalism that is driving the issue. This administration doesn't understand that, and that's why they can't be the example for good that they wish they were.

So, here's a suggestion for making the new name of the enemy culturally neutral: call it theocratic fascism and let people know where the real problem lies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

4 Years Gone For Being In Wrong Place At The Wrong Time

4-year Guantanamo detainee goes free - International Terrorism -
BERLIN - A German-born Turkish citizen held for more than four years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay has returned to Germany after being released, his attorneys said Thursday.

Murat Kurnaz, 24, was flown to Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany, where he was set free, attorney Bernhard Docke said in a statement.


U.S. officials maintained that he was a member of al-Qaida, based on what they said was secret evidence. But a later review of declassified evidence in the case showed no indication he was connected to al-Qaida, the Taliban or any specific threat, his attorneys said.
What are the chances that "secret" evidence was a bunch of hooey? Probably much higher than the chance this young man was a real threat. He was scooped up in Pakistan and turned over to the U.S. in October 2001, back when Pakistan was falling all over itself trying to convince Bush and company that they were anti-terrorist and cooperating with the alliance. This kid was from Germany and a Turkish citizen, so why not throw him to the wolves?

German officials, including Merkel herself, had to put in overtime to get this guy released. How many others are in limbo for no good reason other than they looked Arabic and/or were in the wrong place at the wrong time? We may never know.

"Discourage The Vote" Law Shot Down In Florida

My Way News - Fla. Voter Registration Law Blocked:
MIAMI (AP) - A federal judge on Monday struck down a Florida law that imposes hefty fines on third parties that take too long to submit voter registration forms, saying it threatens free speech rights and unfairly exempts political parties.

The law took effect Jan. 1 and has been blamed by critics for blocking voter registration drives because of huge financial risk.

More From The Secretary Of Wingnuttery

My Way News:
'We are capable of dealing with other problems were they to occur,' he told troops at an airfield in the Nevada desert.

'It would be unfortunate if other countries thought that because we have 136,000 troops in Iraq today, that we're not capable of defending our country or doing anything that we might need to do,' he said in response to a question about military options for dealing with Iran.


Rumsfeld said there was no doubt the United States could win militarily in Iraq if it stayed the course.
On one level, I realize he has to say such things. We wouldn't want our enemies thinking we're stressed out or weak enough not to respond to our own defence. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure he believes what he says about Iraq, and that, IMHO, makes him delusional. At this point, "stay the course" means "I can't fix it, but I won't admit it." It's not a plan, it's a defect of character.

More On The Bush Economy

The Falling Paycheck - New York Times:
"Until recently, the decline in real wages has been masked in large part by the housing boom that allowed many Americans to borrow and spend, even as their pay was squeezed. But now the housing market is flagging and with it, the Bush-era economy — without American workers having ever experienced a period of solid prosperity."

Monday, August 28, 2006

...And I'll Say It Again

Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity - New York Times:
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”

Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.

At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.
We must take Big Money out of the equation of government or our way of life is over. There, can I make it any plainer?

Said It Before....

Crooks and Liars » The Third-World-ization of the USA:
"'things are going to hell in a handbasket.'"

It's difficult to count all the myriad ways this administration has screwed up America at so many levels. This is just one more of them, one I have had intimate experience with and which will continue to influence our health and welfare for a long time to come.

Pakistan Not Too Stable, Either

Killing Sparks Violence in Pakistan - New York Times

Sounds Like Civil War To Me

Shiite Militia Clashes With Iraqi Troops - New York Times

Serious Whack Job

My Way News:
"FAIRBANKS, Alaska (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Sunday warned North Korea may pose a threat as a weapons seller to terrorists and that America would consider taking the nuclear warheads off intercontinental ballistic missiles so they could be used against terrorists."

No, not the missiles, Rumsfeld!


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