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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not big on polls, but...

I found this poll interesting. SUSA - Bush approve/disapprove by state. There are 10 states where Bush has more 'approves' than 'disapproves,' another 6 where he is -5% difference or less, and the rest are all more than -5%. This survey also has historical charts by state over the last ten months.

(I don't know methodology or sample size so the absolute numbers may be off a bit, but it's still interesting, and it reaffirms the trending state by state.) Looking through a number of states, Bush's January mini-bounce followed by a sliding February seems pretty consistent. The most recent monthly numbers were taken on Monday.

Picture of the Day - 3

See Next.

The mailing list of the Party of God

There is only one religion and it is faith in the infallible leader.
The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.....

During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.

Cambone's 9-11 notes.

Whoever this is, they FOIA'ed Stephen Cambone's notes from 9-11, and it tells alot.

The most interesting bit to me is from the 2:40PM meeting with Rumsfeld amidst all the chaos, Rumsfeld was trying to throw Iraq in with Osama Bin Laden. He was pushing to attack Iraq before all the buildings fell. We knew that, but look at the tone.
"The released notes document Donald Rumsfeld's 2:40 PM instructions to General Myers to find the "[b]est info fast . . . judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time - not only UBL"

There was no thought that Hussein was involved in 9-11, and yet on that day of tragedy, Rumsfeld was looking to use our loss to launch a war of aggression on a completely non-connected Iraq. Don Rumsfeld, War Criminal.

Picture of the day - 2

Do you think a real cowboy would wear GWB monogrammed boots?

The big project is done

The big project is done, a flop I think, but at least I should have more time so I can get back to commenting rather than just scanning everybody's blogs.

Something else in the fire, so you never know.

AP says VP Accident Tale Filled with Inconsistencies

It's pretty clear to me that we will never know for sure what happened on that ranch unless somebody decides to break the silence. But all the questions are now being repeated in the mainstream, and I think that's the best I can hope for.

One statement I curiously haven't seen is from the "outrider" or guide who was working with the group. This would certainly be a person with no political ties to Cheney, no strong reason to lie, and probably the best hunting experience on the trip.

Maybe I don't understand the role of this individual in the hunt, or missed the statement, but mark me as curious.

I Want Cheney's Medical Plan

In a comment, Lew got me thinking. I want Cheney's medical plan.
"Fortunately, the vice-president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there ...," she said. "The vice-president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

I looked in several places but couldn't find exactly what comprises Cheney's "medical people" that travels with him. From reading other accounts, it's clear that it is more than two, but I can't say if it's three or a dozen. BUT.....

I know I want that as my health plan. Where do I sign up to have a team doctors following me around with an ambulance waiting just for me? For the President, I might understand, but for the VP, a man whose sole duty according to the Constitution is to preside over the Senate and be available if something happens to the President?

"Mike's got a hangnail!!!! Swarm!!! Swarm!!!"

Picture of the Day

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheney's photo op.

How much did Cheney's trip to Wyoming cost us? He travelled there and back in the same day. Secret service, entourage, bulletproof car, everything went with him to Wyoming for a what, a thirty minute photo op?

Also, how telling is it, that Cheney had to travel 1,650 miles to least populous state, his home state, in order to guarantee a friendly reception?

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Biiiiggg Fake Smile.

Somewhere else I can't shop.

Long story, but I needed to buy a new battery for my burglar alarm and somebody recommended Interstate Batteries. So, being the guy I am, I googled them up to try to find a store or retailer near me, and the first thing I came across was this AFA page (American Family Association) praising Interstate Batteries for funding Carenet who "has been promoting, equipping, and developing pregnancy centers for over twenty years."

It gets worse. On the front page, second item, there's a picture of Dr. Lillie Epps, Care Net's Director of Urban Center Development with the quote, "As we celebrate Black History Month, we mourn the loss of more than 14 million African-American young people who are not with us today because of the tragedy of abortion..." I think you see where this is going.

Okay, now, normally, I'm not big on these boycotts over political funding, but this one crosses the line. I'm completely alright with some executive or company owner using his private income to donate wherever he wants, but this case is very different.

The promotion praised by the AFA involved the channelling of corporate money to Carenet.
"Fifty percent of the proceeds from the campaign's battery sales (AAA, AA, 9-volt, hearing aid batteries, etc.) will go to support the work of Care Net pregnancy centers. " And that is totally not cool.

And just to top it off, buried on the Interstate Batteries site, the owner/founder actually has a testimonial. On the corporate site.
I knew that was true for me! But the good news is that "the Truth shall make you free," and Jesus Christ is the Truth! So I accepted Him just as the Bible teaches: as my Lord and Savior, as God's own begotten Son who died as payment for MY sins. In Him is the forgiveness of sins and the power of self-control in being freed from the bondage of sin. Jesus is the gift of freedom, the power for living, and He gives eternal life!

You can accept Him right now, just like I did, by repeating this prayer and making it the commitment of your heart. Just pray...

I think you get my point. Business and Religion shouldn't mix. But, I gotta say, if I worked there, I would probably have some grounds for a lawsuit. This workplace would definitely be hostile to me.

Picture of the Day - 2


If you've got a minute, take a read of this Tom Lasseter piece on soldiers in Samarra. Several interesting snapshots of incidents and daily life under fire.

Senator Whitewash and Friends

I posted yesterday on the Senate Intel committee's complete cave-in to White House (Rove) pressure on investigating the details and legality of NSA spying. Two quick updates.

First, the House Intel Committee caved, too. Blame Peter Hoekstra (R - Mich.) as the cover man.

Second, the NYTimes goes after Senator Whitewash in a board editorial titled "Doing the President's Dirty Work."
Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?

Cheney's worst day.....

Left-Over made a great point in the comments. If shooting Whittington was the "worst day" of his life, I'd be pretty curious to see a list of the other worst days....

So, according to Cheney, shooting Harry Whittington was a worse day than 9-11.... ? A worse day than Katrina.... ?

Picture of the Day

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Swiftboating of Paul Hackett

For the people who care, Mother Jones has a very good article on some of the tactics used to cut off Hackett's campaign from telling his major donors to back away to an attempt to Swiftboat him with fake pictures over his service in Iraq.

Senate Republicans Cave on NSA spying

This just makes me sick. Don't ever let any one of these Republican Senators claim any independence from the Bush administration again. Just a week after reports of Karl Rove threatening the Judiciary Committee on the NSA spying, we have this complete turnaround/cave in among the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee.
WASHINGTON - Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts said he has worked out an agreement with the White House to change U.S. law regarding the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program and provide more information about it to Congress.....

The deal comes as the committee was set to have a meeting Thursday about whether to open an investigation into the hotly disputed program. Roberts indicated the deal may eliminate the need for such an inquiry, which Democrats have been demanding.

"Whether or not an investigation is the right thing to do at this particular time, I am not sure," Roberts told reporters while heading into the meeting.

By the way, Sen. Whitewash, when you're done covering up this group of crimes for the adminsitration, would you mind finishing phase II of the Iraq Intel Report. Remember, the one you promised you'd have done several times.

UPDATE: The House caved, too.


The alcohol question is rising in the press. More and more allegations, insinuations, and questions all over the place often framed in the passive, "What do you say to people who believe that...." That's such a wussy way to ask a question. "It's not me saying this, of course, but...."

At the doctor's press conference in Corpus today, once again the question about alcohol in Whittington's system was met with "no comment."

And the alcohol question finally hit Scott McClellan at the gaggle today. But the killer question was this:

Q One other quick one. Vice President Cheney talked yesterday about the trauma of seeing his friend fall to the ground when he shot him, and I was wondering whether this has caused Mr. Cheney to reflect on the kind of trauma that's experienced daily by the men and women in the military who have to shoot people?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, here's another example of where I think this town sometimes gets into taking an incident like this and trying to draw broader conclusions or over interpret or overanalyze things and get into all sorts of other issues. .....

But I think that it's just absurd to try to get into looking at it in the way that you just suggested.

Yes, it's totally absurd, because......?

Picture of the Day - 3

Salon has all the Abu Ghraib materials

Salon has ALL the Abu Ghraib materials in their possession, 1,325 images and 93 videos of suspected abuse. They have a small image gallery up with some yet unseen pictures (Warning: male nudity.)

Hopefully, this is it. Their impression, agreed on by the ACLU, is that this represents all of the possibly incriminating photos and videos that are known about.

A little Cheney elsewhere.

Looks like Holden is carrying the Cheney torch today. (This is some seriously good blogging.)

First, a really good look at Cheney's claim that he can declassify information, and a bit of the Executive Order.

Second, a frightening look at exactly how the local sheriff's department operates. (Scripps-Howard)
Salinas called Ramiro Medellin Jr., a former sheriff who lives on Armstrong Ranch and works as a ranch hand. Medellin called Salinas back and confirmed the incident was an accident.

It was at this point that Salinas decided to wait until the next morning to send an officer to investigate the incident

"We've known these people (witnesses) for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said. "I talked to an eyewitness who said it was a definite accident. We knew Mr. Whittington was being cared for."

Third a pretty good indictment of Catherine Armstrong as a "witness."

Picture of the Day - 2

What's that? A political donor over there?

(Hat tip to the photographer that caught this at the House Republican Conference. You know he must've seen the line and then just dove over people trying to get to this exact spot before Bush moved. Larry Downing - Reuters)

Plame Gossip

Amidst all the Cheney, this potentially explosive article by Jason Leopold yesterday got completely lost.
Sources close to the investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson have revealed this week that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has not turned over emails to the special prosecutor's office that may incriminate Vice President Dick Cheney, his aides, and other White House officials who allegedly played an active role in unmasking Plame Wilson's identity to reporters.......

The emails Gonzales is said to be withholding contained references to Valerie Plame Wilson's identity and CIA status and developments related to the inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Moreover, according to sources, the emails contained suggestions by the officials on how the White House should respond to what it believed were increasingly destructive comments Joseph Wilson had been making about the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.

These emails are separate from the allusions to the "non-archived" (disappeared) emails in the Fitzgerald letter two weeks ago.

At this point, this is just a source telling Jason, in true Deepthroat style, where to dig next. But this article doesn't make it quite clear whether Gonzales was asked for these documents specifically and refused on some grounds, or whether they were withheld from a broader discovery effort.

Either there is a previously unknown battle behind the scenes between Fitzgerald and the White House over "classified" emails being protected under some legal argument, OR, we have some pretty damning evidence of an administration wide conspiracy to shield Cheney from any legal exposure.

At this point, I cannot tell.

Quote of the Day

In Pakistan, amidst the anti-American riots....
"Paramilitary troops were deployed to protect branches of KFC, McDonald's and other Western fast food chains while residents said the main branch of US-based Citibank hid its logo under a black cloth. "

I'm sure that's what they signed up for.

Unrelated, I'm sure it's a function of the translator, but I find the repeated reference to the US by Iraqis in this article solely as "the occupier" interesting. I'm wondering if in common usage the US is no longer referred to as the US and has taken on the moniker "the occupier" and what sort of connotations and colorings that term has in local usage.

Picture of the Day

Sometimes presidenting is hard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

If somebody did this to America.....

Condi Rice went before the Senate today and "proposed Wednesday to spend $85 million to promote political change inside Iran by subsidizing dissident groups, unions, student fellowships and television and radio broadcasts."

Imagine if a foreign government, say the Chinese, had openly proposed a program to spend $85 million in an effort to overthrow the US government. (Save the snark about Bush, I'm serious here.)

Just as an example, imagine if some of those groups had a history of violence or terrorism. What if somebody had dumped millions into the Symbianese Liberation Army or the Christian Identity movement?

I'm not completely against action of this sort, but how hamhanded a way is this to conduct business? Just how incapable is this administration? Didn't we learn anything from the previous efforts to topple Mossadeq which eventually led to the Shah's fall and gave us the hostile Iran we have today?

Cheney's Cocktail

I don't begrudge Cheney taking a good stiff drink after the whole Whittington shooting went down, but Greyhair quoted me part of this, and suddenly it struck me as kind of funny.
Armstrong, a longtime friend of the Cheney family, told CNN before the vice president's interview that she never saw Cheney or Whittington "drink at all on the day of the shooting until after the accident occurred, when the vice president fixed himself a cocktail back at the house."

'Cause, you know, after I shoot a man, I might need a good stiff drink, but I hardly think I would be in the mood for a "cocktail."

Banana Daquiri? Singapore Sling? Downing a quick Sex on the Beach? Any other guesses?

(Sorry, I'm a little punchy tonight. Thanks to Mr. Shark Attack for supplying the link.)

Cheney transcript and commentary

The Cheney transcript is here. I didn't watch the interview. Quick points:

1) There is an admission of alcohol on the day in question, although it was "a beer at lunch" which would give plenty of time to shoot straight. But what do you expect him to say? When the cops pull a driver over, the usual response is "a beer or two."

2) "I take total responsibility", BUT, a) he came up from behind me, b)he was in a gulley, c) he was coming out from behind some brush, d) the sun was in my eyes.

3) How can you have this interview and not ask him what time the sheriff's dept talked to him (8am the next morning) and why on earth that was?

4) Plug to Brit Hume for actually asking the question about Cheney unilaterally declassifying material. And, Dick, once the material has been declassified, even by you, you're allowed to talk about it. "I don't want to get into that." Well, duh. Of course you don't.

Lastly, I'll say it again, maybe I have an old-fashined sense of etiquette, but when you shoot somebody in the face and they end up in ICU, you do a little more than send an aide along to report back to you while you go back to the ranch for a sit down dinner. You go to the freakin' hospital. You shot him in the face.

(These are just my first thoughts on a quick read. I'll probably add more as I read other people's opinions.)

I'm going to reprint this one. On a report from the Corpus Christi doctor's press conference this morning. "The last question of the press conference was whether or not Whittington's blood alcohol had ever been tested. The response: "No comment.""

Wouldn't you expect that question to be answered with a clear no?

Alan Dershowitz is asking the alcohol question with a clarity I can only strive for.
A simple cost/benefit analysis suggests that he (or those advising him) must have believed that there was more to be gained than lost by a 14 hour delay that would eventually be made public. It is likely, therefore, that something happened during that 14 hour period which was worth the negative costs of the delay.

Cheney sat down for dinner while Whittington was flown to ICU

According to this timeline by the AP, dinner occurred between 7:50PM and 9:15PM the Saturday of the shooting.
7:20 p.m.: An ambulance takes Whittington to a Christus Spohn Hospital Kleburg.

7:30 p.m.: White House chief of staff Andy Card tells President Bush there was an accident, but Card is unaware Cheney was involved.

7:50 p.m.: The head of the Secret Service office in McAllen, Texas, calls the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. The sheriff asks to speak to Cheney, and they schedule an interview for 9 a.m. Sunday. At the White House, presidential aide Karl Rove tells Bush that Cheney was the shooter, after talking to ranch owner Katharine Armstrong.

Saturday evening: Cheney and the rest of the hunting party sit down for dinner at the ranch. At some point, sheriff's deputies who heard reports of the ambulance responding to an accident at the ranch stop at the front gate to see if anyone needs help, but are told no one needs assistance. The Secret Service earlier had said the deputies were seeking to interview Cheney, but on Tuesday they said that was not the case. Armstrong says no one at the dinner discussed announcing the accident to the public because they were all focused on Whittington's well being.

9:15 p.m.: Whittington is flown to Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial and is treated in the intensive care unit.

So, let me get this straight. You shoot a man in the face, watch him be taken away by an ambulance, and inside an hour, the whole group has a sit down dinner? Nobody went with him to the hospital? Nobody? And his condition was serious enough to warrant an emergency helicopter flight to ICU? And you had a sit down dinner?

Tell me again how you didn't notify the press because you were so concerned with Mr. Whittington's health.

Picture of the Day - 3

Same shit different war.

Cheney to break silence on Fox

Cheney has granted an "interview" to Brit Hume of Fox News who you might remember repeated the WMD allegations longer than anybody else. As Josh Marshall said, "Wouldn't a media interview be better?"

Clips all afternoon, full interview in the five o'clock hour(central.) How do you think Dick Cheney will come across trying to express sympathy? Will he cry?

Also, a little tidbit from Rawstory. I didn't see the Corpus Christi doctor's press this morning, But Rawstory included this, "The last question of the press conference was whether or not Whittington's blood alcohol had ever been tested. The response: "No comment.""

This allegation is beginning to creep into the public sphere. Not firmly at this pont, but it's growing.

200,000 on the terror watch list

The WaPo is reporting this morning that there are 200,000 individuals on the terror watch list.

Either that number is bloated or we're in a whole lotta trouble, eh?

Elsewhere, Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly has a really interesting blog entry that can best be summed up, "The basic message from these four pieces is that the evidence against an awful lot of the Guantanamo prisoners isn't just weak, it's known to be flatly false."

Oliver Stone on Dick Cheney's shooting.

"Back, and to the left....back, and to the left...."

Picture of the Day - 2

More Abu Ghraib photos are out.

Australian SBS did a story last night which contained sixty new pictures, some of the ones involved in the ACLU's FOIA request that is being appealed by the administration.

(The SBS site won't even load this morning.)

These are from the Sidney Morning Herald (they're Flash, so they're a pain to get over to blogger, but I would assume pretty quickly the whole lot will be online.)

Reuters has a 2 minute slideshow/video. (Warning: It's pretty Graphic.) The Guardian has some JPG pictures up.

Still, a little more Cheney

The NYTimes has a graphic that includes a diagram filled out by Texas Parks and wildlife that shows the distribution of the shot on poor Mr. Whittington. I would argue this clearly shows, when compared with the sample shot by the local CC paper referenced yesterday, that the shot was from far closer than the 30 yards Ms. Armstrong stated and has been reapeated by the administration.

Also, can we abandon the hospital's "more than one hand, less than 200" description of what hit Mr. Whittington. It's quite obviously not 6 and reporting that is pretty deceptive as two were lodged in his larynx, one in his liver and one near his heart.

And just a theory.... The reason Cheney has not made a statement is that the official story is a lie in some way. He is waiting to see if some element of the story unravels before making a statement so that he is not caught in a bald faced lie. That's also, possibly, why Ms. Armstrong made the first statement. The recriminations of her lying are far less severe than if the VP was caught in a lie.

Also, Crooks and Liars has a screenshot of the scrubbed MSNBC story before this line was removed, "that preceded the incident. "There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.". ... " (And it's a little less damning in context, but it's still the first mention of alcohol. And, it is still totally not okay for MSNBC to have scrubbed this out of the story.)

And, I'm sorry I can't let this go. Maybe I should be able to grow up and let it pass, but the Vice President shot a man in circumstances which, to me, appear to be clearly different than the story being provided. This isn't about "gotcha," although there are certainly elements of that; it goes to the core credibility of an administration that has done so many controversial things. Its resonant with me because it echoes so many other incidents in which this administration has outright lied for political expediency about things that greatly affect people's lives.

Picture of the Day

Bartlett, Rove, Libby, Miers, and Cheney arriving for a meeting.

"Would anyone who hasn't embarassed this administration, please step forward.....

Okay, Mr. Bartlett, I guess you qualify."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A little late night Cheney.

Several interesting items tonight, beyond, of course, the fact that Cheney still has not issued a public written statement of any kind.

there has been another story scrubbing. This MSNBC story originally had the line
(Armstrong) ... that preceded the incident. "There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.". ...

It's not in the current version anymore, but as of right now, it's there in the Google abstract.(Tip to Firedoglake) Now, why would a quote just disappear. Did she not actually say it? Did NBC just make it up to make their story good? Obviously, no. Even if she was wrong, she did say it. And that's news.

Then, there is the photo and video done by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times(C'mon let them milk it, they'll never have a story this big in that little town.) which demonstrates what a similar shotgun blast does to a man shaped target over the alleged thirty yards of Cheney's shot.

I take a issue with the results as it assumes a direct shot right at the chest, and that was not the most likely scenario. However, if you look at the spead pattern, I think that Cheney's shot must've come from much closer than the 30 yards we've been told.

Next, Slate has a great article where they went and talked to Whittington's friends. (Look, Ethel, sombody's actually doing some reporting.)

The official story is that the blast from the vice president's shotgun hit Whittington at a distance of 30 yards. Hunters at the Vaughn Building [the headquarters of Harry Whittington] are skeptical. The hunt took place on a cold, windy afternoon. Whittington and his fellow hunters were probably wearing warm clothing—say, a jacket and a flannel shirt. Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, a smaller-diameter firearm with pellets smaller than BBs. Whittington's friends question whether the pellets could have penetrated his layers of clothing and skin at that range. Yet two pellets lodged against his larynx, another was in his liver, and another migrated into the heart muscle, causing the heart attack. The pattern of wounds was between the lower chest and the forehead, a pretty tight zone for shot of 30 yards. If the range was considerably less than 30 yards, then it is likely that Whittington's injuries were worse than the initial statement by Katharine Armstrong indicated. (The blast "knocked him silly," but "he was fine.")

On Olberman tonight, he mentioned that the first place they took Whittington was a Kingsville medical facility. For those of you not familiar with the area, Kingsville is a tiny little town where people like Ms. Armstrong could easily manage to keep something like this quiet.

Also, the story line, as I understand it, is that Whittington was shot around 5:30, there was big excitement, they went to Kingsville and then followed the ambulance to Corpus, checked on Whittington, then were back at the ranch EATING DINNER around 9 PM. They must have really cared about the guy to be back at the ranch eating dinner when there was a pellet lodged in his liver.

Tell me again how they delayed telling the press because Cheney was worried about the guy.....

This stinks. There is a huge story here if somebody can dig it out.

Little Girly-Man Republicans

This is a heck of a climbdown. Republican Senators on the Intelligence Committee are backing off their earlier calls for hearings into the NSA domestic spying.
Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.

I wonder if it has anything to do with this earlier bit of threatening of the Judiciary Committee by Rove.

You know, for a bunch of tough guy, rugged individualists, the Republicans sure cower alot.

Also, there's a very revealing story in the NYTimes tonight/tomorrow on how the Lincoln Group, the contractor who was caught paying Iraqi papers to publish "favorable" stories, rose from nothing in a few years. Smells like a conman to me. It'd be really interesting to check their political donations, no?

Picture of the Day - 3

Activists in Rome attempt to show solidarity over the kidnapping of Jill Carroll.

(Also, antiwar has a piece sourced to "Iraqi officials" which alleges that the release of some Iraqi female prisoners, the demand for Jill Carroll's release, was delayed so it would not appear that the US was caving to the kidnappers. Don't know if I buy this, but it's worth noting.)

For One Marine, Torture Came Home

If you've got a few free minutes, read this account from the LATimes of a soldier who served in Afghanistan and his descent when he returned home. I think you'll find it worthwhile.

NSA justifications to be released through FOIA

This could be interesting, but I'm not holding my breath. The rest of the Abu Ghraib materials, photos and videos, were due to be judged on their release way back on Dec. 15, and that hasn't happened yet. But, still......
Washington, D.C., February 13, 2006 - Under pressure from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Justice Department on February 10 conceded in federal court that it could begin releasing as early as March 3 the internal legal memos relied on by the Bush administration in setting up the controversial National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program.

Oh, and take a moment to thank EPIC, the EFF and the ACLU for their tireless uphill battles for civil liberties. They do a lot of grunt work, and I don't plug them enough.

UPDATE: And just like magic, I come across a story that an Australian TV show, SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

From the description in the article, these seem to be more of the same type photographs. The looming nightmare out there is the video Sy Hersh claims to have seen of pretty direct evidence of a young boy being sodomized with a stick to get his father to talk. Can't vouch for that other than Hersh's statements in the Q&A of a speech awhile back.

Picture of the Day - 2

Rove-Abramoff relationship

I've said it several times. I'm not really concerned with the Bush-Abramoff meetings, I'm concerned about the Rove-Abramoff meetings. The AP has a small non-desriptive piece on the latter, but at least it's a start.

Best Cheney line so far

The best Cheney line I saw last night was on The Daily Show. Rob Cordory. After saying repeatedly, maybe twenty times with increasing hilarity, "the vice president shot a man in the face," came this great zinger.

"Well, hindsight is 20/20. Unfortunately, so was the shotgun. John"

Runner-up: Letterman.

"We can't get Bin Laden," David Letterman said on CBS, "but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney."

Hackett's out

This distresses me. Paul Hackett has withdrawn from the Democratic Primary in Ohio to replace Sen. Mike Dewine. I recognize that Hackett was raw but that was part of the charm I found in him. His "bombthrowing" (a compliment when it was applied to Gingrich years ago) was a refreshing and something I feel the Democrats need more of.

I know nothing about Rep. Sherrod Brown, he may be a great candidate and the main priority is to defeat DeWine who seems to be one of the worst Bush toadies after my own Sen. Cornyn, but I find this disheartening. Especially in the way it apparently went down.

"This is an extremely disappointing decision that I feel has been forced on me," said Mr. Hackett, whose announcement comes two days before the state's filing deadline for candidates. He said he was outraged to learn that party leaders were calling his donors and asking them to stop giving and said he would not enter the Second District Congressional race.

"For me, this is a second betrayal," Mr. Hackett said. "First, my government misused and mismanaged the military in Iraq, and now my own party is afraid to support candidates like me.".....

"Hackett is seen by many as a straight talker, and he became an icon to the liberal bloggers because he says exactly what they have wished they would hear from a politician," Ms. Duffy said. "On the other hand, the Senate is still an exclusive club, and the party expects a certain level of decorum that Hackett has not always shown."

Mr. Hackett was widely criticized last year for using indecent language to describe President Bush. Last month, state Republicans attacked Mr. Hackett for saying their party had been hijacked by religious extremists who he said "aren't a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden."

Though Republicans called for an apology, Mr. Hackett repeated the mantra of his early campaign: "I said it. I meant it. I stand behind it."

But the DSCC still supports Lieberman. You don't get rid of this kind of politician, you use him to work with his base. The Republicans don't trot out crazy religious Brownback to a broad national audience, but they use him to appeal to a small but significant percentage of their base who believe the world is only 8,000 years old.

You tanked an honest man. And that sucks.

UPDATE: A little more from the Hackett statement.
Thus ends my 11 month political career. Although it is an overused political cliche, I really will be spending more time with my family, something I wasn't able to do because my service to country in the political realm continued after my return from Iraq. Perhaps my wonderful wife Suzi said it best after we made this decision when she said "Honey, welcome home." I really did marry up.

Yeah, we sure don't want guys like this in office.

Change in the Cheney story

According to the NYTimes this morning, contrary to several previous reports, the sheriffs did interview Mr. Cheney that night, so, I will back off the alcohol questions if that is what happened.

But I still feel justified in asking those questions with the previous version of the story that the sheriff's department was prevented from talking to the shooter until 8 AM. If that's the truth, that, to me, sounds like ample sobering up time.

(Later) Here's the AP version from today in which the head of the secret service says the interview took place at 8AM the next day. Personally, I believe this version.

Also, the CBSnews piece which first alleged that sheriff's were kept away from the vice president has had that section of the article removed. I have the relevant excerpt from the original here as update 2, and here is the current CBS version missing several paragraphs. (Totally not cool CBS. If you're gonna change the story, pull it out, but put a retraction at the bottom saying what you did.)

Will somebody just tell me what happened!!!!!!

Picture of the Day

At least he knew enough to fire up.

Monday, February 13, 2006

In other news today....

While I've been chirruping about Cheney all day, there have actually been other things going on. We'll start with...
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 — The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, an estimated $7 billion over five years.

Rawstory reported today that Valerie Plame's "team" was looking into nuclear technology transfers in Iran. Sure would be nice to have that intelligence unit working now, wouldn't it? They destroyed one of the few windows into Iran's nuclear program.

The leaks on the House Draft report is due to be released tomorrow continued, and Chertoff and Frances Townsend were busy today desperately trying to get out in front of it. My favorite quote is by Townsend, "I reject outright any suggestion that President Bush was anything less than fully involved." (you know, in other countries, Japan, Britain, Germany, they have this tradition that when somebody screws up in the government, they resign.)

And the British have already arrested a soldier related to the "beatings video" made public just a few days ago.

Meanwhile, the US investigation has stalled into 27 soldiers and officers relating to the deaths of 2 Afghani detainees who were found dead, "hanging by their shackled wrists in isolation cells at the prison in Bagram, north of Kabul." The stiffest penalty of the fifteen prosecuted was five months.

"Ohio coin dealer and Republican money man Tom Noe has been indicted on 53 state felony counts of theft, corruption and money laundering alleging he stole "from a state-run investment fund for injured workers."" He was a huge Republican donor with the money he stole with contracts he got from the Republican politicians he was supporting.

Enough for now. What'd I miss?

A little more on Cheney's shooting

Two more quick points on Cheney's shooting. (Here's the earlier post filled with much speculation.)

1) Apparently, according to Olberman on MSNBC tonight, not only were the sheriffs delayed a few hours by the Secret Service in questioning Cheney, they were not able to talk to him until 8 AM the next morning. Dick needed his beauty sleep? (No link, just believe me.)

2) A press release by the Kennedy County Sheriff's department states "that there was no alcohol or misconduct involved in the incident." (At least as far as they could tell by interviewing Cheney and his friends fifteen hours after the shooting. - Mike)

Press release here, and shooting report here. (Notice that there is an existent form for such incidents with clear columns marked SHOOTER and VICTIM. Don't know why that made me laugh.)

And now we'll get back to our regular programming.

(Later) Okay, just a little more. I'm surprised this has gone this far without anyone mentioning the old movies "The Most Dangerous Game" or Ice-T's flop "Surviving the Game."

I mean, with Cheney's reputation, he would cast well as Count Zaroff.

Picture of the Day - 3

Think one of these guys is gonna spin 180 degrees and fire without looking?

A Bloody Gaggle and a Question on Cheney's hunt

Scott McClellan just got ripped at the gaggle today over the delays and method of disclosure in the Cheney shooting. WaPo was kind enough to offer an edited four minute video sample, but the whole thing was interesting if you like the McClellan press conference genre.

The main point of contention was the method and delay in informing the press to get the story mainstreamed AFTER the Sunday talk shows. There were a couple of really biting questions, my favorite was the one regarding the Vice President's communication capability with the situation room. The questioner obliquely implied that this communication setup is the same one that would be used in a time of national emergency, disaster, terror or nuclear attack, etc.

It also sounds like McClellan was intentionally kept out of the loop so that he could hold the press conference, not supply any answers, and be truthful, a consistent Bush administration media strategy.

This whole thing is starting to smell funny to me. I don't know exactly what they were covering up, but it's starting to sound like there's something more than we know.

I'd be curious to hear an answer to the question, "had the Vice President consumed any alcohol in the 24 hours prior to the shooting?" That is one possible explanation for the delays in disclosure, and also a fair reason that the press notification was done by someone outside Cheney's party, to a local paper where she has influence. No proof, just a question.

I've only been hunting a few times on business and I took the job of keeping house, but down here in Texas, it is not uncommon for alcohol to find its way out into the hunt. There are variations, not every hunting group drinks by any means, but enough of it goes on for it to be worth a question, eh?

UPDATE: The storyline out of that gaggle seems to be Bush Knew but kept it quiet. (I like this MSNBC version because of the "White House Under Fire" pun headline.)

Okay, maybe I'm onto something here. More questions... Why a delay before Cheney was allowed to talk to the local sheriffs?
CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports Texas authorities are complaining that the Secret Service barred them from speaking to Cheney after the incident. Kenedy County Texas Sheriffs Lt. Juan Guzman said deputies first learned of the shooting when an ambulance was called.

Any other theories?

UPDATE 3: Greyhair points to Digby who theorizes that the delay may have been to pin the accident on somebody else. I consider that a completely viable possibility as well. Just a little South Texas background that might support this story.

As you might guess, South Texas is swimming with illegal Mexican immigrants who take all sorts of crappy "day labor" jobs to make cash. One of the stories I've heard in many different versions from many different sources is that of illegals being used on hunts in all sorts of roles, as "sherpas" or even sometimes in the place of retrieval dogs, not to mention cooks, maids, day labor, and a whole array of ranch jobs.

Yes, I know, but my point is this. I doubt there's a ranch in South Texas that doesn't employ all sorts of people who would be more than willing to spill the beans for relatively little hard cash, so the "pin it on someone else theory" could have been entertained and thrown out on this basis. Those four people in the hunting party, especially in a luxury "ranch" like this one, were certainly not the only people there.

(Also, I got bumped on another blog for being paranoid. (No link if you insult me, by the way) I didn't say all this was true. I just said that the whole way this unfolded smelled funny to me, and if you watched the gaggle with McClellan, it obviously smelled funny to the press room as well. These are just possibilities I'm exploring in the absence of an totally forthcoming story. If somebody would ask and get an answer to the alcohol question, for instance, there would be no speculation.)

Picture of the Day - 2

The Good Daughter.

Barbara Bush (Jr) has been travelling with her mother on good will trips, to Africa and right now, to Italy.

There are never any photos of the other twin Jenna.

I was looking through news photos this morning and there are 150 returns for Barbara Bush, almost all this one, while there was one return for Jenna, the inauguration.

Just interesting.

(Yeah, I know, the scandal shots, I've got one of them here, but even those are all over a year old. The only recent Jenna sightings are at parties. And one where she left her UT ID at a coke dealer's house.)

Question on Bush-Abramoff photo

The White House has acknowledged that the Bush-Abramoff picture is "authentic," (there was a question?) but their story of its circumstance just doesn't add up.

White House spokesman Allen Abney said the photo was taken in 2001, when the president dropped by a meeting of about two dozen state legislators to thank them for supporting tax relief.

Originally, the White House said it had no record of Abramoff's attendance at the meeting.

So the question isn't whether Bush knew Abramoff was in this meeting; the question is who let Abramoff into the White House to, in effect, lobby legislators in the White House?

As far as I know, you can't just walk up to the front gate and say, I'd like to go inside the White House now, please, which means that Abramoff was there on somebody's say so. Also, I'm pretty sure that once you're inside, you not allowed to just wander around and look for something interesting.

So, somebody signed Abramoff in to meet with, and ostensibly lobby, those legislators inside the White House. Somebody on Bush's staff either wanted that meeting to take place or did Abramoff a favor knowing it would take place. Who was it?

And this is just one time he was signed in. I don't really care about the pictures, that's mostly for political hay. I'm far more concerned with what took place between Abramoff and the policymaking staff.


There's been a growing movement on the left to try to find a Democrat to replace Joe Lieberman (D - Conn.) Now, maybe he wants to present himself as a centrist, look at some of his recent positions with Bush against other Dems, but to me, this smells funny.

(There never was any Joementum.)
Two prominent Republican lobbyists, Craig Fuller and H.P. Goldfield, hosted a fund-raising dinner Thursday evening at Goldfield's Washington home for Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, seeking re-election in Connecticut this year.

Fuller was President Ronald Reagan's Cabinet secretary and later Vice President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff. Goldfield, a Reagan White House aide and later assistant secretary of Commerce, was a fund-raiser in the two Bush-Quayle campaigns.

While Lieberman is a major voice for lobbyist reform, three of his dinner's five hosts were registered lobbyists. Fuller represents the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Goldfield lobbies for Airbus and for energy companies (ConcocoPhillips, Dynegy International and Gulfsands Petroleum). Co-host C. Michael Gilliland, a partner in the Hogan & Hartson law firm, represents a variety of clients.

Also, there seem to be more and more Al Gore sightings recently. He's really raising his presence. He was in Manilla talking about the environment, then at a Saudi gig where the headline is that he was talking about US abuses. I don't know if this is prepresidential, but he has certainly been raising his profile.

Picture of the Day

You notice they never hunt together?

That guy is still in ICU, so I don't think it was the minimal accident the Cheney people said.

First Vice President to shoot a man since Aaron Burr.

I'm gonna have to make a point to watch all the late shows Monday, Daily Show, Colbert Leno, Letterman, etc.

And it's been pointed out before that Cheney's hobby is killing things. He just can't leave it at the office.

Lastly, if there's any musician out there who wants to get themselves some free press, change the Aerosmith song to "Cheney's got a gun," and get it on the web in the next twenty-four hours.

(I went with the Bush pic because everyone else is doing Cheney with the musket at the NRA, except Firedoglake who went with Elmer Fudd.)

Update: Kvatch had the best line so far.

"So now we know why Bush is out there clearing brush on his ranch. It's so he can see Cheney coming."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney shoots fellow hunter

You are f*@#ing kidding me....
Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.....

Armstrong said Cheney turned to shoot a bird and accidentally hit Whittington. She said Whittington was taken to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Insert joke here.

Video - British soldiers beating Iraqi children

Warning, this is graphic. This is the video I wrote about this morning of British soldiers hitting young Iraqis (maybe ten years old?) with nightsticks. (WaPo article) It's not hugely graphic, it's from a distance, but I just want to put a warning on it, so nobody goes to it thinking it's a Care Bears video.

Here is a link to the video.

Also, I don't want to put too much judgement on this. You can hear a shot fired, and if the British troops overreacted, I sort of understand. But watching this, it doesn't look like the first time they've done it. It looks routine.

It doesn't have the look of raw violence. They don't seem to be just unloading on these kids. It looks kind of restrained which also makes me think it's policy.

It's not that I'm amazed that subduing suspects is violent, it's that these suspects are so obviously boys. And what happened to them? Are they in prison now? Are they detained for the duration of the US presence in Iraq? Do they take them back to their parent's house like a police officer who caught a kid vandalizing? Or is that it? You just beat them, question them, try to scare them, and send them on their way.

Look, the troops in Iraq are in a miserable situation. Their only source of "mission" is trying to help Iraqis, 47% of whom "approve of attacks on American forces." (and that's the ones who admitted it to a pollster.)

The mistake was made sending them there without a plan, leaving them there without a plan.

Iran hysteria?

I don't know what's real intelligence anymore, but this story caught my eye because at the same time it captures the real possibilities of Iranian counteraction to a US strike, it also seems to frame them in a semi-hysterical way making such a strike more acceptable. I just don't know, but the fact that this comes off Negroponte's desk, and is intended for congress, tells me that it is pro-attack.

Remember, the US intelligence community's best guess is that Iran is still ten years away from a workable nuclear weapon. (But the midterms are in 9 months.)
WASHINGTON -- Iran is prepared to launch attacks using long-range missiles, secret commando units, and terrorist allies planted around the globe in retaliation for any strike on the country's nuclear facilities, according to new US intelligence assessments and military specialists.....

But military and intelligence analysts warn that Iran ... could unleash reprisals across the region, and perhaps even inside the United States, if the hard-line regime came under attack.

Oh, and as a companion piece, might I suggest this from Britain's Telegraph. It would be irresponsible not to plan military action, but leaking that you're planning is obviously intended to crank up the tension.
Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Are you afraid yet? Are you ready to let the administration take your civil liberties?

And, what the hey, one more. Rubin and Kagan, certainly acting as a front for other "neocons," are urging Bush to "assist democratic forces inside Iran." If you think Muslims are pissed about a cartoon....


Doonesbury is great today.

Picture of the Day - 2

More Danish cartoon protests.

Tell me this doesn't creep you out a little.

And this is from Kenya!

Again, I think that this is about far more than a cartoon, but doing a little picture search today, I must admit that I was surprised by the breadth of this unrest. It has spawned protests literally all over the world.

Sellout McCain

The WaPo has an article on McCain fundraising for his presidential run.

Note: I supported McCain in 2000 when he was hatcheted in the South Carolina primary by Rove through a whisper campaign that he had an illegitimate black baby. Dan Balz doesn't go beyond a vague mention of that in this article. When McCain allowed the "swiftboating" of Kerry, a supposed McCain "friend," to go on unchallenged, (remember how all the press kept asking him to condemn it?) and even went to campaign with Bush at the height of the "controversy," I knew that I had been had in 2000. I knew that McCain was a sellout.

So, I don't find myself surprised that he is now going to the same people in South Carolina for money who tanked his 2000 run by the "illegitimate black baby" campaign.

I'll say it again, amoral sellout.
But one of his most important events was not on the public schedule -- a 5 p.m. meeting at a Spartanburg hotel with loyalists to President Bush.

A dozen or so people were in attendance. At least two were among Bush's major national fundraisers. Virtually all had been on Bush's side in the bitter 2000 South Carolina primary that badly damaged McCain's chances of winning the presidential nomination and scarred the relationship between the two men and their rival political camps. McCain was there to woo them......

With a 2008 campaign in the offing, McCain has begun an intensive courtship of Bush's financial and political networks. His recent travels included a December swing through the heart of Bush country in Texas that put him in front of many of the president's leading supporters there.

By the way, if you're looking for other dirt on McCain, remember that he only became a "reformist" after he got outed as a member of the "Keating Five," one of five Congressmen and Senators who accepted big money and big gifts from Lincoln Savings and Loan figure Charles Keating to influence a federal regulatory board overseeing Keating's S&L. McCain received $112,000, which was a ton of political money at the time, and nine trips on Keating's jet including the Bahamas. (Reason)

And, doing a little googling looking for the Keating link, I came across all sorts of other dirt. The remnants of previous anti-McCain campaigns by the right are all over the web. They're pretty ugly, but my point is that he's not the beloved figure presented on the Sunday morning shows and that his "independence" is a political play. And, now he's going after campaign funds from Bush supporters.

I admit that I was had in 2000. Now, I am a lover scorned. Amoral sellout.

And, what we do hear about Iraq.....

Tell me again about the "good news" in Iraq. (WaPo)
BAGHDAD, Feb. 12 -- A video published by a British tabloid today, shows what appear to be U.K. soldiers head-butting, kicking and clubbing unarmed Iraqi teenagers while an off-camera voice laughs and taunts the victims....

Apparent soldiers in riot gear and British Army uniforms can be seen dragging three Iraqi boys or young men into the courtyard of a walled compound, wrestling them to the ground and battering them with more than 40 blows over a two-minute period. The Iraqis offer little if any resistance, occasionally crying out, "No, please. No please."

Reporting on Iraq isn't cool anymore

The NYTimes had a big story yesterday detailing the wounding and treatment of two US soldiers. Pretty good piece actually, but it got me to notice that Iraq has slid off the front pages again. But it hasn't gotten any less violent. (Source: Iraq Coalition Casualties) (Sorry for the formatting FU, but I wanted to include it all. The total of US soldiers killed in Iraq is now 2,267.)

09-Feb-20062| US: 2 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

US NAME NOT RELEASED YETFallujah (near) - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

US NAME NOT RELEASED YETFallujah (near) - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
07-Feb-20062| US: 2 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USLance Corporal Steven L. PhillipsAl Qaim (near) [nr. Syrian border] - AnbarNon-hostile - vehicle accident

USSpecialist Allen D. Kokesh Jr.Brooke Army Med Center, TXHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
06-Feb-20065| US: 5 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSpecialist Patrick W. HerriedRawah - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USCorporal Brandon S. SchuckBaghdadi (near) - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USCorporal Orville GerenaHit - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USPrivate 1st Class Jacob D. "Jake" SpannHit - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USLance Corporal David S. ParrHit - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
05-Feb-20065| US: 5 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USStaff Sergeant Christopher R. MorningstarAl HusayniyahHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USSpecialist Sergio A. Mercedes SaezBaghdadNon-hostile - vehicle accident

US NAME NOT RELEASED YETNot reported yet - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USSpecialist William S. Hayes IIIBaghdadNon-hostile - unspecified injury

USSergeant Jeremiah J. BoehmerAl HusayniyahHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
04-Feb-20061| US: 1 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSpecialist Roberto L. Martinez SalazarMosul - NinawaHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
03-Feb-20062| US: 2 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USSpecialist Jesse M. ZamoraBayji - Salah ad-DinHostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USSergeant 1st Class Lance S. CornettRamadi (near) - AnbarHostile - hostile fire
02-Feb-20064| US: 3 | UK: 1 | Other: 0

UKTrooper Carl Joseph SmithAbu Al Khasib (S of Basrah)Non-hostile - vehicle accident

US1st Lieutenant Simon T. Cox Jr.Taji [NW of Baghdad]Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USPrivate 1st Class Scott A. MesserAshraf - DiyalaNon-hostile - vehicle accident

USSpecialist Walter B. Howard IIBalad (military hospital) - Salah ad-DinHostile - hostile fire - IED attack
01-Feb-20065| US: 5 | UK: 0 | Other: 0

USPrivate 1st Class Sean T. CardelliFallujah (near) - AnbarHostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

USSpecialist Anthony Chad OwensBaghdad (southwest part)Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire, grenades

USPrivate 1st Class Caesar S. ViglienzoneBaghdad (south of)Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

USSpecialist Marlon A. BustamanteBaghdad (south of)Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

US1st Lieutenant Garrison C. AveryBaghdad (south of)Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Total26| US: 25 | UK: 1 | Other: 0