August 26, 2004
Do you believe it?
The ranks of the American poor grew by another 1.3 million souls last year. American’s children are the largest group living in poverty. Today 17.6% of our nation’s children live in poverty. Who believes President Bush when he reports that our economy is strong and “getting stronger”?
The more interesting question is, does President Bush believe the things that he is telling us? Or is someone feeding him the same line of crap that he feeds us. I also wonder, is he pissed off as hell at his advisors?
August 05, 2004
Bush Spin Doctors Lose Another Patient
Today, the White House, in an effort to boost its credibility with the American public, insists that the raids -- this week -- by British authorities that netted the arrest of a suspected Qaeda operative, and 12 other men, was prompted in part by the same intelligence information that led the administration to elevate the terror threat level in the United States over the weekend.
The U.K. Guardian, however, reports that “Surveillance led to terror arrests.” and cites British intelligence, reports that:
Undercover officers and MI5 agents carried out months of surveillance before they apprehended the men, in London, Luton, Hertfordshire and Lancashire, on Tuesday afternoon.
UK security sources played down any claims that they had foiled an imminent bomb plot, which suggested the operation may have been aimed at disrupting a terrorist network rather than thwarting a specific attack.
Whitehall officials described Tuesday's operation as "not insignificant". It was the result of a "protracted" MI5/anti-terrorist operation, not a "knee-jerk response"
Scotland Yard, which coordinated the arrests with help from local police in each area, also insisted they were part of a "pre-planned, ongoing, intelligence-led operation."
I guess the Bush Administration forgot that Americans, as English speaking persons, can read British newspapers. Perhaps they were caught off guard because their fearless leader does not read newspapers, himself.
"So fine, John Kerry's got 200 votes"
According to the Bush camp, no amount of business or other big name endorsements will help John Kerry secure the Oval Office in November. Upon hearing about the Move.On.org "Vote for Change Tour," that headlines some of the most popular musicians in the country, Terry Holt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign quipped, “All the showbiz in the world isn't going to get John Kerry elected."
Similarly unimpressive, to the Bush Camp, is John Kerry's great success in securing the endorsements of prominent business men among them: Internet pioneers Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark; more mainline executives like Charles K. Gifford, chairman of Bank of America Corp.;, and August A. Busch IV, president of Anheuser-Busch Cos.; entertainment magnates Barry Diller and Edgar Bronfman; retail innovator Jeff Brotman, who created Costco Wholesale Corp.; Henry B. Schacht, the former chief of Cummins Engine Co.; Charles Phillips, president of Oracle Corp., the world's second-largest software company. This is considered a coup because, not surprisingly, Corporate American tends to support the Republican party’s presidential candidate. After reviewing the list of Kerry supporters, longtime Bush supporter, Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, quipped, "So fine, John Kerry's got 200 votes."
Click here for more information on the progress of Kerry's campaign.
MoveOn.org. has arranged a "Vote for Change Tour," to take place between Oct. 1 and 8, in 34 cities, in nine states whose electoral college votes are still up for grabs, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Missouri. The tour will consist of multi-artist mini-tours simultaneously traveling about the nine key states. Springsteen, for instance, will travel with R.E.M., John Fogerty and an indie band called Bright Eyes (a real favorite of this Dog and one of her pups); The Dave Matthews Band, Jurassic 5 and My Morning Jacket form a second line-up; the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor will work together; a group called Death Cab for Cutie will open for Pearl Jam; Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Keb' Mo will tour together, as will John Mellencamp and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds. If you are interested in pre-concert ticket sales go here.
August 04, 2004
The Queen of Uppity Women
The Queen of Uppity Women, Helen Thomas, who has covered White House Press briefings for as long as I've been alive, spoke the truth today, at a summer social given by a small newspaper called the Falls Church News-Press.
When Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, interviewed Fidel Castro a couple of years ago, he asked Castro, "What's the difference between your democracy and ours?" and Castro replied, "I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas."
Today Thomas noted:
"Both the president and Britain's prime minister say [the Iraq war] was worth it all to get one man. Of course the U.S. expects much more: access to Iraqi oil, big business and permanent military bases, a foothold in the Middle East, the neoconservatives' agenda."
"It's interesting about investigating committees and commissions today. They see no evil, no one is to blame. It's the institution that's at fault. So the Senate Intelligence panel found the CIA falsely clocking Iraq's ability, but no pressure from the White House to slant the report. And now 9/11! No one is at fault for the misreading of the clues, it was just a lack of imagination on the part of the leaders, the commission said."
Thomas also recorded, for posterity, the opinion of the press held by some of the men who occupied the oval office, during her reign:
"Kennedy said I'm reading more and enjoying it less. What LBJ said is unprintable. Nixon looked up when a pool of reporters and cameramen came into the cabinet room and said it's only coincidental that we're talking about pollution when the press walks in.
"When President Reagan was told that a press helicopter had been fired on at the Honduran border, he said, 'There's some good in everyone.' "
Oh, the irony of it all!
In an interview on The O'Reily Factor, Laura Bush opined that the news media is increasingly filled with opinions instead of facts, and suggested Tuesday that journalists are contributing to the polarization of the country. The O'Reily Factor -- case in point?
Kerry ahead in 13 of 16 battleround states
The latest Zogby Interactive poll, taken during the Democratic convention, shows John Kerry ahead in 13 of the 16 battleground states tracked.
"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," or "Do we"?
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge insists that the release of a warning of imminent attack on U.S. finacial institutions was not a matter of politics. However, the British Independant's review of a transcript of a background briefing provided to the US media on Sunday night by intelligence agencies "reveals the extent to which officials were determined to imply the information was current."
During the briefing one official, described only as a "senior intelligence official", said: "The new information is chilling in its scope, in its detail, in its breadth. It also gives a sense, the same feeling one would have if one found that somebody broke into your house and over the past several months was taking a lot of details about your place of residence and looking for ways to attack."
The official added: "[The information demonstrates] al-Qa'ida is meticulous in its efforts and since 9/11 there has been an effort made to ensure that they have the information that they need in order to carry out attacks."
Prisoner abuse was Lynndie England's idea of fun
We are now being told that prison abuse at Abu Ghraib prison was just Lynndie England's idea of “having some fun,” not following orders and are being treated to images of Ms. England giving a blow job to her child’s father in support of the story line that Ms. England has a perverse idea of “fun.”
While Private First Class England's actions are unconscionable, and ought to be punished, before we believe that she is responsible for abuse at Abu Ghraib, a review of the facts is in order:
Since 9/11, top officials in the Administration have shown an arrogant disregard for the protections of the Geneva Conventions in dealing with detainees. In January 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked why he believes the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the detainees at Guantanamo. He replied that he did not have "the slightest concern" about their treatment in light of what had occurred on 9/11. In other words, they are terrorists, and torture is too good for them. The British magazine The Economist called his remarks "unworthy of a nation which has cherished the rule of law from its very birth."
Army Inspector General Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek issued a report on prisoner abuse that detailed:
A sergeant first class told subordinates to "rough up" two detainees, and two of the subordinates and a sergeant from another unit beat those prisoners.
Troops who forced two detainees to jump off a bridge into Iraq's Tigris River - killing one - had discussed the plan as an entire platoon before carrying it out, apparently with the support of the platoon sergeant.
An interrogator hit a prisoner in the head during questioning.
Civilian interrogators working on an Army contract were accused of mistreating prisoners in two separate incidents, including pouring water on the head of a prisoner forced into an uncomfortable "stress position."
Since the beginning of the war, the International Committee for the Red Cross had provided Pentagon officials with repeated reports of abuses at the prison. Some of these abuses, the Red Cross reported, were "tantamount to torture."
In October 2003, the Red Cross inspected the Abu Ghraib prison, including the unit where the worse abuses at the prison occurred. They saw prisoners being held naked in cells, evidence of burns, bruises, and other injuries consistent with the serious abuses that the prisoners had alleged. After examining a prisoner whose heart rate was 120 beats a minute and who did not respond to stimuli, Red Cross officials concluded that he was suffering from a mental disorder –– quote –– "most likely due to the ill-treatment he was subjected to during interrogation."
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Abu Ghraib prison at the time Lynndie was blowing Graner claims that she believed there was a concerted effort made to prevent her from knowing about the prisoner abuse. When asked whether she thought the conspiracy reached up to the Pentagon or the White House, Karpinski, replied, “The indication is that it may have.”
Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, suggested Wednesday that mistreatment was more extensive than previously acknowledged, saying the military had investigated 75 cases of abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2002.
During 2003, both the State Department and the Coalition Provision Authority repeatedly appealed to top military officials to stop the mistreatment of military detainees. Secretary Powell himself raised this issue at cabinet meetings and elsewhere, pleading for proper care and treatment of detainees, but the Defense Department failed to act.
Top-level military officials directed guards at the prison to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation" of the detainees –– a decision that directly resulted in the abuses. Major General Geoffrey Miller told Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the former commander of military police at Abu Ghraib prison that Iraqi prisoners, "are like dogs, and if you allow them to believe at any point they are more than a dog then you've lost control of them." According to General Taguba, the setting of conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses is not authorized or consistent with Army regulations and undermines the goal of running an effective and humane detention facility. Yet, Major General Geoffrey Miller, the general who recommended changes for favorable interrogation at the Abu Ghraib prison in September 2003, was put in charge of all Iraqi prisons.
The military leadership failed to respond in a systemic way even after it had initiated 35 criminal investigations into the alleged mistreatment of detainees in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 25 of these investigations involved deaths. In December 2002, military doctors at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ruled that two Afghan men in U.S. custody had died from “blunt force injuries.” No one in the military has been held accountable for these homicides.
The New England Journal of Medicine reports that increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay.
Denmark is reviewing allegations that its soldiers were involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
After a review of the facts, do you believe that prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison was just rowdy oversexed Lynndie’s idea of fun?
August 03, 2004
Don't vote, or listen to liberals, or read the news
This weekend I found a baby bird with its eyes still closed and barely covered with pin feathers on my patio. As a result, in the past few days, I’ve learned a great deal about rescuing baby birds.
First, if the bird has its eyes open, is more or less fully feathered, but seems unable to fly, leave it alone. Young birds live on the ground for two – three weeks after they leave the nest. Its parents watch over it, and continue to feed it.
Second, if the bird’s eyes are closed or it is not fully feathered, pick it up and put it gently back in its nest. Its mother has a very poor sense of smell, and she will welcome the little fellow back. (Unless she pushed it out of its nest in the first place, which she will do if she finds the bird to be defective. The Rogers Wildlife Bird Sanctuary representative, here in Dallas, told me about a single eyed Robin fledgling that she rescued and raised to maturity that was rejected by its mother for this reason.)
Third, if you can’t find the nest, put the bird in a lined box and get it to a wild bird rescue facility as soon as possible. If the rescue facility is closed and you need to keep the bird overnight, get some dry Science Diet cat food. Soak it in water, and feed the fully moistened nuggets to your little bird, with a pair of angled tweezers every time the little guy squawks for food. This will be about every twenty minutes – sun-up to sundown. Don’t give the bird water, to drink, either in a dish or by eye dropper. It does not need water, in this fashion, and it will drown. Don’t give the bird milk. Only mammals drink milk.