Sunday, November 30, 2003

Victoria Plame Leaker Unmasked, Sort Of

Despite the modest headline, "We may never learn the truth about the Plame Affair", General J.C. Christian, Patriot, settles the matter quite satisfactorily.
Major Shock In My Snail-Mail Box

For the first time in my adult life, I've received something in my snail-mail box that sent real shivers up and down my spine.

I consider the Democratic Party my main charity of choice, and have given a dab of money to most of the candidates. Yesterday, I received a very nice "thank you" letter from the Clark campaign. But they forgot one little item.

They forgot to ask me for MORE money. They forgot to enclose a self-addressed envelope for me to send them more money.

Either the person in charge of such things at Clark headquarters is a total yo-yo - or, just maybe....they have some class?

I think I'll send them another couple of bucks. Just my way of saying "thank you".

Saturday, November 29, 2003

An Iraqi perspective on the Dubya Turkey Trot

Check out Riverbend.
Faith-Based Initiative

Who says fairy tales are just for children?

If you haven't read this article in The New Yorker, get right over there.

In the Pentagon’s scenario, the responsibility of managing Iraq would quickly be handed off to exiles, led by Chalabi—allowing the U.S. to retain control without having to commit more troops and invest a lot of money. “There was a desire by some in the Vice-President’s office and the Pentagon to cut and run from Iraq and leave it up to Chalabi to run it,” a senior Administration official told me. “The idea was to put our guy in there and he was going to be so compliant that he’d recognize Israel and all the problems in the Middle East would be solved. He would be our man in Baghdad. Everything would be hunky-dory.” The planning was so wishful that it bordered on self-deception. “It isn’t pragmatism, it isn’t Realpolitik, it isn’t conservatism, it isn’t liberalism,” the official said. “It’s theology.”

Would someone please put some grown-ups in charge?


Friday, November 28, 2003

If It's Thursday, It Must Be Baghdad

During my daily nose-holding slog through the Faux News website, I came across a real side-slapper from Frank Gaffney, Jr.

In nice, BOLD font, Frank proclaims - "President Bush's visit to Baghdad came as a surprise to practically everybody. But not to me."

Scaling heights of giddiness, Frank trips through "compelling", "surpassingly important", "unalterably committed", "powerfully accomplished", "inspirational" .... you get the picture. The man is a hard-core Bush groupie, and no doubt longs for the day Bush will parachute into Baghdad with weapons blazing

With that vision in mind, he loftily proclaims -

"The president also made a point of addressing himself to the Iraqis: "Every day [we] see firsthand the commitment to sacrifice that the Iraqi people are making to secure their own freedom. I have a message for the Iraqi people: You have an opportunity to seize the moment and rebuild your great country, based on human dignity and freedom. The regime of Saddam Hussein is gone forever."

I can think of better ways to address Iraqi citizens than a 2-1/2 hour Baghdad touch 'n' go landing and photo-op with selected occupation troops, surrounded by a steel curtain of heavy security.

Even assuming the speech was available on Iraqi TV and radio, the electricity is still hit-and-miss, nor do most Iraqis appear eager to listen to Bush anyway. And judging by the way police, judges, and non-Baathist political leaders are being knocked off, Iraqis may be getting a slightly different impression about Saddam being "gone forever".

Frank finishes up with a couple of priceless punchlines -

"A further reason for going to Iraq was to afford the president a chance to see for himself, albeit briefly, the facts on the ground. He is now in a position to speak with first-hand authority about the conditions that exist there, and the improvements that are being brought about--painfully, slowly, but day-by-day-- thanks to ever-more-effective collaboration between the U.S., coalition personnel and the Iraqis. "


"George W. Bush's willingness to take real personal risks to raise the morale of the men and women in uniform should have come as no surprise to anyone. After all, he has done so in the past, notably with his arrival by Navy jet aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln earlier this year."

Holy cow. I want some of the stuff this guy is smoking.

Baghdad Visit Poll ....Publicity Stunt or Bravery?

Go here...... scroll down a bit, and to the right
(Thanks to Greg for the tip!)

Should President Bush have met with ordinary Iraqis too? Poll here
Feith-Based Delusions

As he so often does, Juan Cole lifts the magician's curtain and blasts through the spin.

"W. must have envisaged his triumphal first trip to Baghdad very differently. Last spring, before the war, he was told by Ahmad Chalabi via Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, that the Iraqi people would welcome him this November with garlands and dancing in the street. They would regard him as the great liberator, a second Roosevelt or Truman. The US military, having easily defeated the Baath army and wiped up its remnants, would have departed. Only a US division, about 20,000 men, would remain, at a former Baath army base and out of sight of most Iraqis. Engineers and decontamination units, Feith told him, would be busy destroying chemical and biological stockpiles, and dismantling the advanced nuclear weapons program, carefully securing the stockpiles of Niger yellowcake uranium. "

The only thing the above article leaves out is the word "Clinton" - another president who was hailed as a liberator and savior by a grateful population. We could also add the words "General Clark".

Oh, how the "best-laid" plans - or in this case, delusions - go astray. I have no doubt whatsoever a triumphant photo-op in Baghdad has been the Rove plan all along, but a few "adjustments" had to be made along the way - such as flying in and out in the dead of night, no contact with locals, super-duper heavy security, and total secrecy.

Notable quotes:

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said he found out about the visit 72 hours previous to the event, and arranged for the extra security by telling airport workers, "Because we're expecting some kind of threat."

Truer words were never spoken.

When asked if there was any precedent for the visit, Communications Director Dan Bartlett said, "We were talking about it. We don't have any recollection. But we haven't done any research to verify that."

Doesn't take much research to discover that a sitting president of the United States has never made a top-secret, middle of the night visit to an illegally occupied country with a native population that would take great joy in taking shots at him.


Thursday, November 27, 2003

Weekly Standard Gets Something Right

Yeah-huh. Once in a while.

Matt Labash shows us how to play the overused-terrorism-cliche-of-the-month game.

"Now, the most fashionable pre-fab rationalization to use when the news isn't going as swimmingly as we want it to, is to select a place in Iraq, then a corresponding place in America. If the two places start with the same letter, all the better. Next, state baldly that no matter how lousy things are going, you'd rather fight the terrorists / Baathists / whoever-it-is-we're-fighting in the first location, rather than the second. Lastly, sit back with a self-satisfied smile, as if that settles the matter. "

Dubya Finally Visits a War Zone, Sort Of

The media is wetting it's pants over Dubya's quickie trip to Baghdad, calling it "unprecedented", "extraordinary", "surprising", and so forth.

The startling, unprecedented, and surprising part is that Dubya has now actually visited a war zone, something he spent a part of his life avoiding.

The Left Coaster has it right -

"But while the media slavishly covers this for maximum White House benefit, they conveniently forget that Clinton visited another war zone on Thanksgiving only four years ago, and he was able to travel into a war zone only five months after the US-arranged coalition secured the liberation of Kosovo. My how quickly they forget. The big difference was that Clinton was warmly received by a large contingent of troops in Kosovo, but more importantly was also warmly received by the natives prior to the event, who thanked him for their liberation."

Dubya, of course, didn't hang around to see if Iraqis would throw flowers at him, or thank him for liberating them.

In turn, soldiers spoke enthusiastically about the president. "After 13 months in theater, my morale had kind of sputtered," said Capt. Mark St. Laurent, 36, of Leesburg, Va. "Now I'm good for another two months."

Sounds like the guy has a serious case of battle fatigue.

Bush Slips In and Out of Iraq

Bush was to spend only two hours on the ground, limiting his visit to a dinner at the airport with U.S. forces.

The British wish they'd been so lucky.
Wow - the gummint finally prohibits Americans from buying "unsafe" products

The FDA and American pharmaceutical companies, outraged that American citizens have been able to purchase more affordable but potentially unsafe Canadian prescription drugs, expressed their deep satisfaction that the new Medicare bill will prohibit seniors from access to the Canadian products.

FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, in a speech last week in Canada before a group of drug information experts, said the agency had found "thousands of examples of unapproved and potentially unsafe medicines" coming into the United States from "many countries, including from Canada."

In a subsequent news conference in Ottawa, McClellan was more specific, according to news reports, saying there were "lots of examples of unsafe drugs coming into the United States from Canada."

Asked to give examples of Canadian perfidy, Tom McGinnis, the FDA's director of pharmacy affairs said -

"We don't have that. I can't think of one thing off the top of my head where somebody died or somebody got put in the hospital because of these medications. I just don't know if there's anything like that."

A recent report by the Congressional Research Service - the Library of Congress expert that Congress turns to for objective information - supports the safety of drugs from Canada. It found that medications manufactured and distributed in Canada meet or surpass quality control guidelines set by the FDA.

Rep. Dan "Watermelon Killer" Burton (R-Indiana), who chairs a House subcommittee that has studied the Canadian drug issue, emerged briefly from the right-wing conspiracy to remark,

"There's no question in my mind that the (FDA) is too dependent on the pharmaceutical industry for their attitudes and decision-making," he said. "I had four hearings and I asked (FDA Associate Commissioner William Hubbard) to give me examples where people have been damaged by Canadian pharmaceuticals and re-importation, and he couldn't even give me one, not one."

However, an anonymous FDA source said, "We can't have American citizens buying cheaper, foreign-produced products. That would deprive American workers of jobs, reduce profits for American companies, and reduce pharmaceutical company donations to the Republican party. That's just not the American way".

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Iraqis Welcome Jack Straw To Baghdad

The Right Honorable Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and British war cheerleader was accorded the same rip-roaring welcome to Baghdad as that given to Paul Wolfowitz.

"Attack. Take cover. This is not a test," blared loudspeakers at the compound in one of Saddam Hussein's former palace complexes. Sirens wailed, flares lit up the night sky and US helicopters clattered overhead."

Echoing Mr. Wolfowitz's comments on the security situation in Iraq, Mr. Straw said, "I am very clear that the combination of the political process and military efforts will ensure there is transition on schedule at the end of June and that Iraq will be a far better place as a result of that transition."

Iraqis expressed the same hope, but added they had enough problems without chickenhawk VIP visitors and the resulting "Welcome To Baghdad" attacks.

Breaking News - Republican Tells Truth

Shocking details here -

Frist says Iraq is a mess

And Rep. Ron Pau (R-Texas) - Iraq war illegal

Very spooky.
Just Add It To The List

I say tomayto, you say tomahto....
I say Nevaaada, you say Nevahda....
I wink during your national anthem, you don't wink during mine....

Isn't someone supposed to brief Dubya on protocol, proper pronunciation, who's the current head of state in foreign countries, and just generally baby-sit him?

Nevada memo to George Bush: When making a first presidential visit to a state, use the right pronunciation of its name.

Bush, in Las Vegas on Tuesday, repeatedly said Ne-vah-da. To properly pronounce Nevada, the middle syllable should rhyme with gamble.

Mispronouncing the state's name "sets people's teeth on edge," said state Archivist Guy Rocha. "He's the president, and he ought to get it right. Nothing personal."

State Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, said the mispronunciation shows Bush, who won the state in the 2000 election, doesn't care much about the state.

"They take such pains to orchestrate these trips and to make sure everything is politically correct," she said. "You would think the name of the state would be a simple piece of that."


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Iraqis (and others) We Have Pissed Off

America needs Iraqi help, but only those who are non-military, non-Baathist, and anti-abortion need apply.

Iraqi Army - 400,000 armed, unemployed, embittered men, chomping at the bit to get back at the U.S.

Another major and disastrous decision was Bremer's order, on arrival, to disband without pay the Iraqi military force of 400,000 men, several sources said.

A Pentagon critic of the administration said: "We spent a lot of money on psychological operations that urged the Iraqi army to remain out of the fight."

"They did, and what did we do? Rewarded them by throwing them out of work and denying them a living."

"Disbanding the army only alienated the Iraq Sunnis, who could have been useful in restoring public services and getting the country up and running," a State Department official said.

"All you were doing were pissing off people who were armed and had no place to go," a former senior CIA official said.

Iraqi teachers - 28,000

"American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political punishment for their former membership in the Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration officials have told United Press International."

Iraqi parents - 56,000 - That's figuring two parents, with just one school-age child between them. Of course, some of those parents were probably killed during the invasion, but the number of multiple-child widows and widowers would even things up. Parents whose kid's school is all painted & prettied up, but there are no teachers? That's a lot of children being left behind and a lot of pissed-off parents.

"Administration officials told UPI that from the beginning of Bremer's arrival in Iraq, the Bush administration has consistently misplayed the issue of Iraq's former ruling Sunni group, most of whom were members of the Baath, but who are also the most able and knowledgeable administrators in the country. In addition, many able government employees joined the Baath Party not out of any special political sympathies, but simply to attain or retain their jobs."

The Iraqi government bureaucracy - six layers-worth

"According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence officials, the latest firings are only one of a series of what one State Department official called "disastrous misjudgments." He cites, as one of the first, how senior Pentagon officials, relying on Chalabi's advice, led the Bush administration to believe it would inherit the Iraqi government bureaucracy virtually intact at the end of the war.

"...under orders from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Bremer tried to get rid of former Baathists in the Iraqi government by removing the top six layers of bureaucracy, U.S. officials said. The decision was made on May 16."

Iraqi criminals - okay, they are probably delighted with the situation. But since they're not lining up to become U.S. allies, we can't subtract them from the ranks of the pissed-off. I think it's safe to assume they aren't friends of the Coalition of The Billing.

"This same group ignored warnings from the internal CIA and State Department studies about looting and general lawlessness in the event of a U.S. victory, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity."

Doctors and health workers - no numbers available, and no numbers available on numbers of death, disease or suffering as a result.

"A former Garner team member was quoted in last week's Newsweek as saying the vetting process for Iraqis "got so bad that even doctors sent to restore medical services had to be anti-abortion" -- an article of faith in the Bush administration.

When Secretary of State Colin Powell protested directly to Rumsfeld, he ignored Powell, the Newsweek source said."

The U.S. State Department - 16, bare minimum, not counting Colin Powell, who must be kicking himself for not making a run for the presidency. The rigors of a presidential campaign must sound like a leisurely vacation compared to the crap-shoot he got into when he took the job as Secretary of State.

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even moved to get rid of 16 of 20 State Department people because they were seen to be "Arabists" -- overly sympathetic to Iraqis, U.S. government officials said."

The entire Central Intelligence Agency - who had the unmitigated gall to offer intelligence and analysis that conflicted with what the Pentagon and White House dreamed up.

"We had no coherent plan or coordinated strategy for post-war Iraq," a former senior CIA official told UPI. Instead there were "rosy misassumptions, wishful thinking, ideological blindness."

"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the neocons to try and equate the Baath Party with the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson. "You have to make a choice: Either you are going to deal with Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding and running the country or you're going to turn Iraq over to those who can't."

"It's an incredible error," said former senior CIA official and Middle East expert Graham Fuller. "In Germany, after World War II, the de-nazification program was applied with almost surgical precision in order not to antagonize German public opinion. In the case of Iraq, ideologues don't seem to grasp the seriousness of their acts."

That's a lot of pissed-off people. But never fear - the Pentagon and White House continue to assure us that everything is under control.

As Donald Rumsfeld said, commenting on the latest attempted attack on a U.S. cargo plane, "It doesn't take a genius to fire off a shoulder-fired missile at an airplane."

How reassuring.


Monday, November 24, 2003

Bush Honors Soldiers at Hard-Hit Army Base

So.... the question is - why now? Why not months ago?

Having tried out his act on families of British KIA, the Bush handlers decided is was okay to let him visit Americans?

Karl Rove's polling told him this was actually becoming an issue?

It took a while to find families that wouldn't blame him?

Someone took him to the woodshed?

Whatever it was, it sure wasn't compassionate conservatism. A commander in chief with an ounce of compassion would have made those visits LONG ago.

At least 17 US troops have committed suicide in Iraq; Army seeks answers
"Zero suicides is our goal,'' (Army spokesperson Martha Rudd) said. "We may not get there, but we're going to try.''

Bringing them home might help.
We're not so different, US first lady says of Queen, Prince Philip

"US first lady Laura Bush admitted to being "slightly intimidated" by the grandeur of Buckingham Palace but said she and her husband had been put at ease when they discovered similarities between themselves and their hosts."

"They all agreed George's table manners and deportment could use some work", according to an anonymous source. "But, of course, they also believe they were born to rule, and that's always a great ice-breaker."

Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

No word yet if the turkey pardoned Bush.

"President Bush Monday pardoned the national Thanksgiving turkey, marking the 56th anniversary of the annual event. Apart from some gobbling while the president spoke, the lucky turkey, Stars, was generally well behaved during the Rose Garden ceremony."

Remind me - which turkey was it that behaved badly in Britain?
Blind Leading the Blind
Thomas Tryon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune gets it right -

"George W. Bush and Tony Blair have developed a mutual obsession: defending their decision to invade Iraq.

There is nothing wrong with political leaders attempting to articulate their reasons for going to war. But the obsessive attempts to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq blinded Bush and Blair."

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.A. -
Bush Holds Important Consultations With Ally
(click for photo)

Queen's fury as Bush goons wreck garden
"The lawns are used for royal garden parties and are beautifully kept. But 30,000 visitors did not do as much damage as the Americans did in three days."

Not content with trashing the Constitution and economy, Bush took his act on the road.

You just can't take him anywhere nice.


Sunday, November 23, 2003

Bring It On......
More "progress" in Iraq

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Random Ramblings For the Weekend

If nobody is left alive, can we declare victory and go home?
More "progress" in Iraq, as insurgents continue to knock off US trained police and innocent civilians, plus take shots at US troops. Victory is surely close at hand!


Whacko Jacko Sideshow
I hate to agree with anyone at Faux "News", but I have to agree with this - Would You Let Your Kid Bunk With Jacko?


More Whacko Jacko
Strong stomach required


Wish I'd Said That
(scroll down to "The Rush Limbaugh Rehab Journals")


The Usual Crap From The Cato Institute
Jim Powell, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has come out with a new screed entitled "FDR's Folly, How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression". His main gripe seems to be that FDR's policies made it harder for the rich and greedy to get richer quicker.

Now, there's no date of birth given in his bio, but it's obvious he wasn't born during the Depression or was too young to remember it. Apparently, he's not descended from anyone affected by the Depression, either, and he's never heard The Stories.

I wasn't born yet, either - but something tells me Mr. Powell never interviewed one of the thousands of people who stood for hours at soup kitchens and bread lines.

My father - God rest his soul - spent time in an orphanage because his once-comfortably-middle-class family became destitute. And when he was of age, he joined the Conservation Corps, which provided jobs, food, medical care, education, and housing for over 600,000 unemployed civilians and World War I veterans.

"CCC enrollees throughout the country were credited with renewing the nation's decimated forests by planting an estimated three billion trees from 1933 to 1942.
The 1932 Presidential election was more a cry for help from a desperate people near panic as it was an election in a "landslide" vote, the nation turned to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic party searching for an end to the rampant unemployment and economic chaos that gripped the country. They weren't disappointed. Accepting the Presidential nomination on July 1, 1932, New York Governor Roosevelt planned a fight against soil erosion and declining timber resources, utilizing the unemployed of large urban areas."

During his time, FDR was hated intensely by the rich and greedy. His legacy is still hated by their successors at the Cato Institute, who long for the "good old days" of Herbert Hoover. But FDR remains a hero to those who remember a time when the president and his party had the moral and political courage to put average Americans and their welfare first.

Powell says - "Government jobs don't help people develop values and skills needed in the private sector. Whatever the merits of New Deal projects for clearing forests, fixing roads and the like, these didn't help people prepare for private sector jobs."

Someone needs to remind Mr. Powell and the folks at Cato that among all those CCC employees were those who went on to fight in World War II, put a man on the moon, and become known as "The Greatest Generation".


Friday, November 21, 2003

Officials: U.S. Short on Intelligence in Iraq

Every day, I gird my loins, grit my teeth, and check out the Always Fair And Balanced Fox News website, which usually provides more than enough satire fodder for an entire week.

But I didn't even bother reading the story linked above, as it's obvious the reason the U.S. is short on intelligence in Iraq is because there isn't any intelligence in the White House. Or at Fox News.

Fox News Attacked By Rampaging Donkeys

Add "Donkeys Of Mass Destruction" to the list of things we can't find.

"An Iraqi civilian was arrested Friday after the three buildings were slammed with more than a dozen rockets fired from donkey carts, injuring one person.

The hotels that were hit -- the Palestine and the Sheraton -- suffered some damage, the latter of which houses many Fox News journalists who went unharmed in the attack.

"They're trying to break our will. They're trying to seize the headlines ... but they're militarily insignificant," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military deputy director for operations, said at a news conference."


"Two other donkeys -- one pulling a rocket launcher and another rigged to a bomb -- were found within hours, one 30 yards from the Italian Embassy. U.S. officials said the targets were the headquarters of a Kurdish political party and a law school."


"Police and soldiers found a rocket launcher on Saadoun Street, which runs beside the Palestine, hidden inside a donkey cart.

Iraqi police 1st Lt. Amar Arshad said the launcher had the capacity to fire 30 rockets. It was unclear how many were launched, but five unfired rockets sat in the launcher.

Mansoor said another rocket-launcher, also on a donkey cart, was found near the Oil Ministry.

Attackers used the colorful donkey carts presumably because they are so common in Baghdad and attract little attention from security forces on alert for car bombs.

Painted on one of the carts was a traditional inscription: "My heart is with you, my dear."

After the explosions, U.S. soldiers were seen searching donkey carts around Baghdad. U.S. officials said one of the donkeys was strapped to a propane tank and an explosive device.

"He's an inventive, ingenuous enemy, but he has shown us another of his tactics ... and I would guess he won't be using that again anytime soon," Kimmitt said. "

Bush Caption Competition

Results of the Guardian's Caption Competition here

Thursday, November 20, 2003

How many people does it take to make a protest?

One. But let's play the ever-popular numbers game....

CNN - 100,000 to 110,000
Reuters - 100,000
AP - 50,000
Telegraph - 150,000
Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard - 70,000

And the best images of the day...

Demonstrators force Powell to cancel event

US Secretary of State Colin Powell was to pick up a medal honouring his achievements, but was forced to cancel at the last minute. The US Embassy in London was unable to confirm whether the decision was taken for reasons of security. Mr Powell had been expected to meet the Prince of Wales to collect the medal at Senate House in London.


He is one of a handful of Americans set to receive the first ever Marshall medals.

The ceremony is being held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Marshall Scholarships – academic awards set up by the British Government to thank the United States for its post Second World War recovery programme, the Marshall Plan.

Maybe they could just send it to him UPS after he's left the UK?

You've gotta love the way the British hold a demonstration. Clowns, samba bands, street parties, theater....I hope all those who plan to make New York hot for Republicans next year have taken note.

Put Words In Dubya's Mouth

If you hurry, you can enter the Guardian's "Caption Competition"
All you have to do is -
1) Look at picture of Bush looking typically dorky
2) Write caption & e-mail it

Deadline is midnight Thursday, UK time

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

London 'Welcomes' George...

(links added as they become available)

Wild-eyed, radical hippies protest in Cambridge
Barewitness.org bares all and demonstrates in Parliament Square
Alternative State Procession
Trafalgar Square webcam
Up to the minute reports on protests - UK Indymedia
Plug pulled on London Webcams, as Bush sweeps into town

From The London Times
"Mobile companies are refusing to acquiesce to Scotland Yard's demands that they turn off individual transmittor stations to prevent people in the area making calls or sending texts across half a square mile whenever Bush arrives or leaves Buckingham Palace.

"The plan being considered is to create a 'sterile area' some 15 minutes before Mr Bush gets into his armoured Cadillac and 15 minutes after his return. Among the many demands made by the White House was a mobile telephone blackout whenever the President left Buckingham Palace.

An Orange spokeswoman said: “The rules state that we only have to block phone calls in this manner when there is a national emergency. The visit of a foreign dignitary is not a national emergency. It’s Bush hysteria."

Collective Sigh announces exclusive pictures of the Chickenhawk Invasion!

Okay, so I swiped them from The Guardian, but it was fun thinking of captions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Chickenhawk Invasion Watch

Scratch another photo op -
"Shortly before Air Force One touched down at Heathrow last night, it was announced that a visit this afternoon to the memorial in Grosvenor Square, London, to the victims of the September 11 had been called off.

The Foreign Office said the president's schedule had always been fluid, but fears over his security are believed to have played a part in the decision that he should meet families of the British victims inside the US embassy and not go outside to pay his respects at the memorial as originally planned."

Is It Tuesday Already?
As promised in an earlier post, this week is shaping up to be chock-full of fun, and it's only Tuesday.

On Monday, The Grope-inator was crowned, and in less than 24 hours has asked California voters to approve a $15 billion bond measure to finance further deficit spending. But he's still busy investigating himself on those sexual assault charges, so maybe he hasn't had time to figure out anything better than borrowing more money.

A poll by the Mobile Register and University of South Alabama finds that His Holiness Roy Moore of the Ten Commandment Graven Image Worshippers Society would whup Republican Governor Bob Riley 47-30. Riley, as you may recall, is the governor that had a severe attack of conscience and tried to fix Alabama's grossly unjust tax structure. God-fearing Alabamians soundly defeated his attempt to dig the state out of it's hell-hole.

With numbers like these, ex-judge Moore will be sorely tempted to run for something, and I'm still betting on a presidential run. His ego is too big to settle for anything less.

And Josh Marshall is throwing out BIG hints about something happening in the wonderful world of Astroturf organizing. Al Gore was "astroturfed" right out of the presidency, and it's about time some of these con artists get blown out of the water.

Michael Jackson's "Neverland" ranch was searched today by investigators from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department as "part of an ongoing criminal investigation", though it is unclear if the criminal activity involved his new reportedly-dreadful new album & video, WMD, or the usual charges of molestation.

And finally, George and the Chickenhawk Invasion are out of the country and on with The State Visit. Look for plenty of pictures of smiling faces waving American flags. For real coverage, check these links often -

The Guardian
The Telegraph
The Times

Whatever you do, don't click here.
Winning Those Hearts and Minds

Trent Lott said: "Honestly, it's a little tougher than I thought it was going to be." Then he added, "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down and see what happens."

Sounds like the mowing has started.....

Difficult Days...
We'll Show Ours - Now You Show Yours

U.S. Army stages massive show of force in Saddam's hometown
Eager to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, the US Army held a two-hour parade on Monday through downtown Tikrit, hometown of Saddam Hussein. Featured were M-1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees, seventy-six trombones, and one hundred and ten cornets followed by an assortment of "Hurray for the USA" floats.

Traffic in the city of 120,000 was hopelessly snarled for hours, but Iraqis expressed shock and awe at the display of firepower.

"Shocked and awed, my ass", said Mohammed al Khafu, honking his car horn impatiently. "I finally found a job, and now I'm late for work".

It is unknown at this time if Saddam was watching, or if his heart and mind were affected.


Monday, November 17, 2003

Dubya's Hostess Gift to Britain
Glad to see that Dubya is minding his manners, and like any savvy guest, is bringing a nice little gift for his British hosts.....

US firms told 'take UK jobs home'
"GEORGE Bush's administration has called on US companies in Britain to relocate jobs to America in an astonishing move that could trigger a major trade war."
Ah, those wacky Bushies....always spoiling for another war!

Can Weblogs Chase Bush Out of Britain?
Apparently not, but they sure have plenty of ideas.

Chasing Bush
"In short, he can run and hide all he likes, but there will be no escape for George W. Bush.

If he wants to make a state visit that isn't marred by protest, he should do it on another island. He's not welcome on this one; and we're determined to let the world see that."

'Bare Your Bum at Bush'
(not the homeless guy hanging out under the bridge, but the bum that you sit on)

Protests and Preferences
Includes the proper way to dress, mingle, boo, flip the finger, plus some downloadable images for that oh-so-important anti-Bush poster.
"As silly as it sounds, aiming a beam of light at George W. Bush is likely to get you arrested or shot. Remember that he will have his own stormtroopers with him at all times, and someone willing to take a bullet for a man who isn't really the President is not likely to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. You should resist all temptation and leave your laser pointer at home. And your camera, too - just to be sure."

Palace-speak for the Bush men

Quentin Letts of The Telegraph gives a few pointers to the Chickenhawk Invaders.
The New Special Relationship

You have to imagine the Black Hawks circling overhead.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Another sign that the Bush Plan For A New-And-Exciting-World-Order might not be working as planned

"The Iraqi scientist who headed Saddam Hussein's long-range missile program has fled to neighboring Iran, a country identified as a state sponsor of terrorism with a successful missile program and nuclear ambitions, U.S. officers involved in the weapons hunt told The Associated Press."

"I hate when that happens!" A spokesman for the State Department commented. "You invade one country, and by golly, all their scientists, WMD, and dangerous stuff end up going somewhere else".

The State Department is reported to be "thinking about doing something about it."

"Only now is the State Department exploring the possibility of a government-funded program to block a scientific exodus and prevent Iraqis from doing future research in weapons of mass destruction. Initial cost estimates for the program run about $16 million, according to a Nov. 3 draft proposal obtained by AP.

The Pentagon would not comment, as they were busy drawing up plans to invade Iran.

The Iranian government is reportedly considering sending all their nuclear weapons, scientists, and terrorists to Saudi Arabia for safekeeping.

All this just for a photograph with the Queen?
In The Telegraph, Mark Steyn astutely observes, "Having successfully reinvented himself as an easygoing Crawford rancher, Bush has nothing to gain by palling around with royalty. Besides, he always looks like a goofball in white tie."

Does anyone really think posing Bush next to ANYONE makes him look good?


Saturday, November 15, 2003

More Choice Morsels on the The U.K. Chickenhawk Invasion

Bush's flying circus leaves out only the kitchen sink
How much you wanna bet they're bringing one of those, too?

It was a good idea at the time
The security detail seems to think Buckingham Palace is the London Holiday Inn Express -

"They wanted blast- and bullet-proofed windows," one senior courtier told the Telegraph. "They wanted strengthened curtains and strengthening to the walls of the President's suite and the other rooms that he would be spending time in during his two-day stay."

"Buckingham Palace security pass-holders are being ordered to go through bomb checks for the first time. Some Palace staff who have had security clearance for 30 years are undergoing positive vetting again."

"The Queen will not have to wear a security badge. I think we know what she looks like," said one Palace official. "But it is getting to that level. It is quite ridiculous."

"The President's men seem obsessed with the idea of an airborne attack on the Palace," said another courtier. "Her Majesty takes the view that no amount of strengthening of windows and walls could protect the President in such an eventuality. Other political leaders have stayed at the Palace at difficult times in their careers but have not made such demands."

"As the security men swept through Whitehall, rumours emerged that the White House also desired a Black Hawk helicopter, capable of ferocious firepower, to hover continuously over the Palace. According to the security men, a Black Hawk would be invaluable in the event of a rocket-propelled grenade attack."

Indeed. Nothing like a hovering Black Hawk to insure a good night's sleep.

And a real gem -

"In fact, Mr Clinton may be to blame for the whole affair. Before the war in Iraq, he told Mr Blair to "stay close to Bush - don't let him escape". Mr Blair stayed and remains close, still valiantly seeking the role of mediator between Europe and the United States."

Which only goes to prove that Clinton knew a Miserable Failure when he saw it.

Meanwhile, a new poll by the London Times reveals -

6% of Britons think Bush is articulate
10% of Britons think Bush is intelligent

Presumably, the other 90-94% of Britons gave answers ranging from "who cares?" to "brain of a cow pie".

I'm a little worried about the 6% that think Bush is articulate and the 10% who think he's intelligent. But word has it that Karl Rove is on the job, trying to locate them. They need at least one happy photo op out of this fiasco.
Laugh of the Day

Prez in Topless Tabloid
London Paper Nabs Rare Bush Exclusive

In which the duly selected President of the United States, commander-in-chief of the world's only superpower, relentless guardian of decency and morality, restorer of dignity to the White House, returns the many favors of Rupert Murdoch.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Next Week's News

Next week just looks better and better.

Fearless Leader (aka Miserable Failure) kicks off the week with The Chickenhawk Invasion of jolly old England. While George is sneaking around avoiding protesters, and the "Coalition" goes about trying to win Iraqi hearts and minds and hustle them into a quickie semblance of democracy - something very interesting may be going on back home.

Remember Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the leader of the Ten Commandments Monument Worship Society? He may have been kicked out of office, but he isn't down yet, not by a long shot.

According to the Associated Press, "Moore said he had consulted with his attorneys and with political and religious leaders and would make an announcement next week which he said "could alter the course of this country." He did not elaborate. He could appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court."

I may be going out on a limb here, but somehow making his appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court doesn't sound all that country-course-changing.

According to His Holiness, The Wrong Reverend Jerry Falwell, "I believe Chief Justice Moore - a hero in the state - will probably become the next governor or senator from Alabama. What's more, you can virtually guarantee that the state will elect another conservative justice to head the Alabama Supreme Court." (more here, strong stomachs only).

Out on a limb again, but I'm not sure another right-wingnut Alabama politician is that earthshaking, either.

So - what's left? How about a Ross Perot job on the 2004 election?

Now, THAT might change the course of the country. A presidential run by a former judge - a regular "lawn order" guy - who makes the Ten Commandments his political platform, might siphon off enough of the religious right to take some wind out of Dubya's sails, and give Karl Rove a Tony Blair-sized headache.

Have a restful weekend - the week ahead looks mighty interesting......

Forty Hour Bore-A-Thon

Missed it? No worries - Tom Burka Reveals All
Dubya Does England

George Bush, still sulking because he won't get his photo op carriage ride with the Queen, agreed to meet some of the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq.

A White House aide, speaking anonymously, said that film clips of the president getting big hugs from soldier's family members, drying their tears, and inspiring them with his words of sympathy would certainly be included in election campaign commercials next autumn.

"We have a team lined up, ready to doctor the films to make it look like he's meeting with families of AMERICAN soldiers that have been killed in the war. Voice-overs to wipe out traces of the British accents, creative editors to cut out any trace of the British flag, etc."

"Can't have Americans thinking their president doesn't care about our own troops, can we?" he continued, with a sly wink.

Bush said he would meet the families of some British soldiers killed in Iraq and tell them the prayers of the American people and their president were with them.

"I will tell them that their loved ones did not die in vain. The actions we have taken will make the world more secure and the world more peaceful in the long run."

But family members of fallen British troops have been some of the war's most vocal critics. Robert Kelly, whose 18-year-old son Andrew died in Basra in May, told BBC radio he had not been invited to meet the president, and did not want to meet him.

"For these people to meet families, it is only for their own gain," he said. "What does George Bush care about our families and my family? He doesn't care."

Mr. Kelly and his family will obviously be moved to The Mother Of All First Amendment Zones for the occasion.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

Senate Leader Learns Lesson in Online Activism


From Reuters - Blair to Take Bush Down To the Pub -- Maybe

Maybe I'm a little obsessed with Dubya's upcoming visit to Great Britain, but I have this overwhelming sense of dread......after all, he's embarrassing enough in the United States. With his intense dislike of "pomp and circumstance" and his weird frat-boy idea of humor - my God, there's no telling what he'll do around the Queen.

Any guesses what nickname he'll bestow upon her? No, no, no - la-la-la-not-thinking - it's just too awful to think about.

And I really don't want to see him attempting to wear some sort of "national costume". Please - no crowns, no Beefeater uniform, etc.

Among other things, like intelligence, good character - you know, like any of the Democratic candidates - I would like to think our president could travel to other countries and not look and act like a fool.

Dubya may surprise me - I'm willing to concede that, and Laura may be able to keep him in line. But I wouldn't bet the ranch on it, either.

So, here's my plea - dear, kind, intelligent, articulate Prime Minister Blair - please don't take George to a pub.

He's a recovering alcoholic. I'm not saying he'd immediately dive into the closest pint, but are you really sure he'd resist the urge? You know what he's like sober - do you want to risk getting him tipsy?

Preparing for the Bush invasion, the local newspaper's headline screamed "George and Laura Head North", with the warning in smaller type: "Region's taxpayers to foot the security bill."

True, some of the locals will welcome him. "There's nowt (nothing) to do round here, but he would get a warm welcome," said George Owens, 52, who works at the Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Working Men's Club. "I'd serve him a pint -- I admire the way he stood up to Saddam."

Please don't try handing him a pint, Mr. Owens. A hundred Secret Service agents will swarm all over you with guns drawn. Bomb sniffing dogs will sniff your crotch. It's not worth it.

Others aren't so happy. "We are ready for Bush," said protester Annette Hudspeth, 44. "We are against the growing American influence in this country."

Annette, I'm with you, honey, but I bet you won't be able to get within a mile of him. Your whole country is about to become The Mother Of All First Amendment Zones.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

More "Victory Lap" Fun

Jonathan Freedland of "The Guardian" asks the intriguing question here - "So who did invite him?"

Can't you just picture the scene?

Tony & Cherie Blair sat down to a morning cup of tea and the morning newspaper.

"What's on the calendar for next week?", Tony asked an aide conveniently hovering nearby.

"Um, sir - Bush is coming on that state visit", said the ashen-faced aide.

"Don't snort your tea out your nose, dear", said Cherie.


The Foreign Office blames the Palace for inviting Bush.

The Palace blames the government.

The government won't confess to anything.

Tony Blair has a HUGE headache.

But George and Friends (see previous post) will go barging into England on November 18th.

I guess Bar gave up on teaching George any manners. What civilized person, knowing their visit would cause big problems, would go charging in where they're unwelcome?

Dubya, of course.

From the above-linked article -
"One Republican source, close to the White House, has a theory as to why the Queen is such an important catch for the image makers. "Look, Americans don't know shit. They're not going to recognise the prime minister of the Philippines. The only foreign leaders they could pick out are the Queen of England and the Pope - and we've already got those pictures." With the Pontiff in the can, the Queen is the co-star the president needs."

I have to disagree with this Republican source. In the 2000 election, the majority of voters certainly knew shit when we saw it, and we didn't vote for it.
Don't Leave Home Without It

What do you need for a three-day trip to Great Britain, all expenses paid (by the taxpayers)?

250 Secret Service agents
150 National Security advisors
60 White House political aides
200 representatives from other U.S. departments
15 sniffer-dog teams
1 personal chef and his team of 4 cooks
2 identical Boeing 747-200s and a 3rd chartered jumbo jet
1 Sikorsky Sea King helicopter
1 Black Hawk helicopter
2 identical motorcades of 20 armored vehicles, including limousine

(Click here for a good perspective)

That's not a three-day trip, that's an invasion. And I hope he's leaving those "God Save the Queen" cowboy boots at home.

To any of our good British friends out there - we're really, really sorry. You can keep him, if you like.


I didn't' think so.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Okay....No longer speechless.

White House Stresses Need For Tort Reform

During Gulf War I, a group of seventeen American prisoners of war were brutally tortured by the Saddam regime. They filed suit against the Iraqi government, and a court judgment rewarded them substantial damages.

Today, the White House defended it's decision to steal appropriate those funds, citing the need for reconstruction in Iraq.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal torture to which these Americans were subjected. They bravely and heroically served our nation and made sacrifices during the Gulf War in 1991, and there is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime."

He later explained that since "no amount of money" could compensate the veterans, "It's just plain silly to let them have it. Especially when Dubya's nuts are in the fire with all that Iraqification business."

"These frivolous lawsuits are really getting out of hand," he continued. "We are also looking at the claims filed by nursing home residents. These incontinent old geezers are never going to get well. No amount of money can compensate for THAT, either. It just doesn't make sense to keep throwing money at them, and watching it go down the Medicaid hole."
Hate to spoil your Veteran's Day, but....

A "Happy (screw the) Veteran's Day" From the White House

I am speechless.

White House press briefing, Nov. 6, 2003

"Q: Scott, there are 17 former POWs from the first Gulf War who were tortured and filed suit against the regime of Saddam Hussein. And a judge has ordered that they are entitled to substantial financial damages. What is the administration's position on that? Is it the view of this White House that that money would be better spent rebuilding Iraq rather than going to these former POWs?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that I view it in those terms, David. I think that the United States -- first of all, the United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal torture to which these Americans were subjected. They bravely and heroically served our nation and made sacrifices during the Gulf War in 1991, and there is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. That's what our view is.

Q: But, so -- but isn't it true that this White House --

Q: They think there is an --

Q: Excuse me, Helen -- that this White House is standing in the way of them getting those awards, those financial awards, because it views it that money better spent on rebuilding Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there's simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering --

Q: Why won't you spell out what your position is?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to your question. Believe me, I am. Let me finish. Let me start over again, though. No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam Hussein. It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq. But again, there is simply no amount of compensation that could ever truly compensate these brave men and women.

Q: Just one more. Why would you stand in the way of at least letting them get some of that money?

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the way you characterize it.

Q: But if the law that Congress passed entitles them to access frozen assets of the former regime, then why isn't that money, per a judge's order, available to these victims?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that that was an issue that was addressed earlier this year. But make no mistake about it, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture that these brave individuals went through --

Q: You don't think they should get money?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- at the hands of Saddam Hussein. There is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate those men and women who heroically served --

Q: That's not the issue --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- who heroically served our nation.

Q: Are you opposed to them getting some of the money?

MR. McCLELLAN: And, again, I just said that that had been addressed earlier this year.

Q: No, but it hasn't been addressed. They're entitled to the money under the law. The question is, is this administration blocking their effort to access some of that money, and why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't view it that way at all. I view it the way that I stated it, that this issue was --

Q: But you are opposed to them getting the money.

MR. McCLELLAN: This issue was addressed earlier this year, and we believe that there's simply no amount of money that could truly compensate these brave men and women for what they went through and for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein --

Q: So no money.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's my answer.
Happy Veteran's Day!

And nobody does it better than Democratic Veteran.
Republicans Are Shocked and Awed That Anyone Would Give Money to Democrats

(Or, "I love it when satire writes itself")

Soros's Deep Pockets vs. Bush
George Soros, one of the world's richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating President Bush.

Soros, who has financed efforts to promote open societies in more than 50 countries around the world, is bringing the fight home, he said. On Monday, he and a partner committed up to $5 million to MoveOn.org, a liberal activist group, bringing to $15.5 million the total of his personal contributions to oust Bush.

"It's incredibly ironic that George Soros is trying to create a more open society by using an unregulated, under-the-radar-screen, shadowy, soft-money group to do it," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson said. "George Soros has purchased the Democratic Party."

Incredibly ironically, Republicans don't have a problem with the following groups -

Scaife: Funding Father of the Right
"...by concentrating his giving on a specific ideological objective for nearly 40 years, and making most of his grants with no strings attached, Scaife's philanthropy has had a disproportionate impact on the rise of the right, perhaps the biggest story in American politics in the last quarter of the 20th century.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
With over $700 million in assets, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the country's largest and most influential right-wing foundation. As of the end of 1998, it was giving away more than $30 million a year.

It's financial resources, it's clear political agenda, and it's extensive national network of contacts and collaborators in political, academic and media circles has allowed it to exert and important influence on key issues of public policy."

Koch Family Foundations
The money behind the Cato Foundation and Citizens For a Sound Economy, David & Charles Koch "follow in dad's footsteps: Fred Koch was a charter member of the John Birch Society in 1958."

John M. Olin Foundation
"The New York-based John M. Olin Foundation, which grew out of a family manufacturing business (chemical and munitions), funds right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution and Peace. It also gives large sums of money to promote conservative programs in the country's most prestigious colleges and universities."

"...Financed by the Olin chemical and munitions fortune. Assets estimated at about $90 million. Gives about $3 million a year to conservative advocacy groups. Supported right-wing causes for many years, but became more focused in its grantmaking after William Simon took over as president in 1977."

The list, like the beat, goes on, and on, and on ......
Nuclear Lab Loses Keys But Holds On To Name

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, top-secret nuclear research facility in California, made news recently when it was revealed they had lost the keys to the nation's most top-secret nuclear research.

But the lab is keeping its name, despite efforts by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to rename it in honor of physicist Edward Teller

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wanted to make the name change a part of the $401 billion defense bill the House passed Friday. He relented after objections from Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), whose district includes the lab; Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the senior Democrat on the committee; and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Teller, a member of the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb, died in September at 95. Teller also championed the more powerful hydrogen bomb and the space-based missile defense system.

An aide to Rep. Hunter noted, "We are disappointed in our efforts to effect the name change. but thought "The Teller Lab" would be more acceptable to Democrats than our first suggestions of "The Ronald Reagan Lab", The George W. Bush Lab", or "The Arnold Schwarzenegger Lab". But, as usual, partisan politics prevailed".

A spokesman for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory expressed relief. "Thank God the all-important matter of our name is settled, and we won't have to ask for millions of dollars in taxpayer money to change our stationery. Now we can get back to looking for the keys".

Monday, November 10, 2003

Victory Lap update

According to Time Magazine, Queen Elizabeth invited Dubya to drop by the palace two summers ago. Which would be before the British started really hating him.

"The last time he dined with the Queen — in 1992 at his father's White House, wearing cowboy boots emblazoned with GOD SAVE THE QUEEN — he asked if she had any black sheep in her family. "Don't answer that!" his mother Barbara interjected, trying to avoid embarrassment. This time he's the President, the man in charge."

In other words, this time the Bush family black sheep and national embarrassment will be loose in London with no one to dress him but himself, and no one to correct his idea of manners. As one Bush aide said, ""Maybe they'll keep the lights off and pretend they're not home."
Dubya plans "Victory Lap" in London
White House Declares London "First Amendment Zone"

Elated with the adulation, high approval numbers, and photo ops in the United States, President Bush invited himself on an official state visit to London. But plans for the three-day visit are turning into a disappointment for the president and adoring British fans alike.

Crowds are expected to exceed tens of thousands, but many are disappointed that the traditional ceremonial ride in an open carriage down the Mall has been cancelled, citing fears that screaming crowds, rotten tomatoes, burning effigies, and terrorist bullets might spook The Queen's Horses.

President Bush, the Owner Of A Texas Ranch, expressed disappointment that he would not get to see what a real horse looks like, and demanded that he be given an opportunity at some time during the visit to have his picture made on a pony.

The Yard has cancelled all leave for the three-day visit and mobilised 3,800 officers for the 4-million-pound security operation.

Met Commissioner Sir John Stevens said his force was facing "a very tough" time over the visit, which will see the biggest security operation ever mounted in Britain.

"We are on the highest alert that we have ever worked at," he said. "We are working two-and-a-half times harder than we did at the very height of the Irish terror campaign."

The IRA terror campaign has been responsible for hundreds of deaths both in Northern Ireland and on mainland Britain for more than three decades. The Yard expressed hope that Bush's three-day visit would produce less carnage.

Nevertheless, US officials reportedly insist that the Mall, Whitehall, and the City be declared an "exclusion zone", although such a move would cause traffic chaos and incur huge loss of business across the capital.

Several members of the British parliament are still hoping that President Bush will give the traditional, visiting-head-of-state speech before Parliament.

Under discussion is a plan to smuggle Mr. Bush into the Palace of Westminster disguised as part of the Palace Cleaning Crew. The White House has nixed the plan, however, as it appears that most Members of Parliament have decided not to make themselves available for the photo op.

British comedy writers also expressed dismay at the possible cancellation, and promptly declared a strike.

"Why should the American people have all the fun?" asked Winston Smythe-Jones of the British Comedy Writers Guild. "It's not every day we get a chance to mine such a rich source of material."

Sunday, November 09, 2003

From the "What, Me Worry?" File

"I don't worry about terrorism. I was married for two years." ---Sam Kinison

"We experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic." ---Cullen Hightower

"Stop worrying -- nobody gets out of this world alive." -Clive James

Nuclear weapons lab's keys are lost
A U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory must replace up to 100,000 locks at a cost of more than $1.6 million, after staff lost several sets of master keys to the complex, then failed to notify superiors, it emerged Friday.

The extraordinary series of security blunders at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is outlined in a scathing report by the U.S. Energy Department's inspector general.

According to the report, officials at the laboratory have lost nine master keys and three magnetic key cards to the top-secret research facility. In some cases, officials still do not know when or how the keys went missing.

Five Homeland Security law officers disciplined for fishing on duty
AUSTIN -- Five police officers were supposed to be protecting a Central Texas power plant against possible terrorism, but they went fishing instead.

The officers, including a lieutenant and a sergeant, were suspended last month for fishing at the Decker Creek Power Plant at Lake Walter E. Long while on duty, according to disciplinary memos obtained by the Austin American-Statesman in today's online edition. A second sergeant was suspended for not reporting the others.

Scandal in Texas education "miracle"
HOUSTON, Nov. 8 ” When the state of Texas bestowed "exemplary" status on Austin High School in August 2002, ecstatic administrators compared the honor to winning the Super Bowl. There was more cheering and pompom-waving a few weeks later when a private foundation honored Houston for having the nation's "best urban school district".

Just a year later, the high school has been downgraded to "low-performing", the lowest possible rating. And the Houston Independent School District's "showcase for the Texas educational miracle" that President Bush has touted as a model for the rest of the nation is fending off accusations that it inflated its achievements through fuzzy math.

Austin is one of more than a dozen Houston high schools caught up in a burgeoning scandal about the reliability of their dropout statistics. During a decade in which, routinely, as many as half of Austin students failed to graduate, the school's reported dropout rate fell from 14.4 percent to 0.3 percent. Even a Houston school board member calls the statistics "baloney".
Top Ten Reasons to be Cheerful About Iraq
(Shamelessly swiped from Freeway Blogger. Check out his work here.)

10) Plenty of room for new exhibits in the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities.

9) Halliburton Oil Services, once teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, doing just fine now, thank you.

8) Iraqi people liberated from that terrible, terrible statue.

7) The United Nations, once in danger of becoming irrelevant, has now become one of New York's most fashionable eateries for global superpowers hungry for crow. (Would you like some "Freedom Fries" with that?)

6) The American People have gotten over their anger and learned to forgive and forget Osama Bin Laden and that whole September-11th-thing.

5) Although a primarily secular state under Saddam, freedom of religion is now blossoming in Iraq, with faith-based initiatives exploding in front of buildings all over the country.

4) Middle Eastern Jihadi don't have to travel nearly so far to attack Americans.

3) Schools now open in Iraq, with dreaded "Saddam Studies" now replaced by unexploded munitions and prosthetic limbs for show-and-tell.

2) Promised by Russia and practiced by Israel, "Pre-emptive Striking" looking to turn into the Next Big Thing!

1) Worldwide hatred and fear of the United States now turning to laughter and pity.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Vatican Reveals Bush is Antichrist

After months spent reviewing material from the Vatican Archives, a team of church historians, Jesuit scholars, and prophecy researchers summoned by the Pope to a monastery in Regensburg German have finished their report - "Who will be revealed as the Antichrist?". The salient points of the profile:

**Come from a rural background or province. [West Texas?]

**Assemble and lead the world's most powerful army. [Now playing in Iraq?]

**Appear to be a devoutly religious man, and possibly hold some religious qualifications. [prays on his knees everyday; born-again drunk, now drunk on power; thinks God tells him what to do.]

**Accumulate or inherit a great fortune from an underground source, such as the mining industry. [a fortune from an underground extractive industry -- like oil?]

**Come from a family accustomed to leadership roles, either in politics or business. [The Bush family defined.]

**Be fluent in two languages, and have people of many nations as his close political associates. [Dubya speaks two languages -- fluently, when he reads from a teleprompter. The coalition of the willing is Dubya's idea of a host of many nations.]

**Disguise himself as a man of peace, but lead the world into the greatest war ever seen. [Dubya's perpetual war on terror fits the bill; Iraq is merely chapter two.]

Brilliant analysis in blue thanks to Charles K. from the Daily Kos board.
White House Office of Administration encourages civil discourse

Citing President Bush's campaign pledge to "be a uniter, not a divider", the White House Office of Administration director (Timothy A. Campen) sent an e-mail to majority and minority staff on the House and Senate Appropriations committees expressing "the need to add a bit of structure to the Q&A process" when presenting policy questions to the White House.

Effective immediately, all members of the committees must 1) raise their hands, 2) wait to be recognized by the Republican chair of the committee, 3) present the question politely, and 4) grovel submissively while awaiting the Chairman's decision.

In addition to promoting civility, the new procedures should speed up the "Q&A" process, as questions from Democratic members will be ignored, and Republicans never feel the need to question White House policy in the first place.

Friday, November 07, 2003

(P)resident Bush Gives Moving Tribute fo "Successful Society"

(P)resident Bush gave a speech today marking the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy.

"Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite."

"Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents."

"Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media."

"They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people."

At the conclusion of the remarks, the ambassador of Denmark said, "The Kingdom of Denmark thanks President Bush for his compliments to our little country. We pledge to do everything in our power to help the United States become a successful society."
Last-minute Peace Deal Rejected?

Did the folks at BushCo reject a last-minute peace offer from Saddam?

Lots of good discussion & reporting on the specifics here, here, and the always-on-the-ball "Opinions You Should Have" tells all here.

Short version - a couple of shady characters making possibly dubious claims to more shady characters.

But all you really need to know is this:

Republican presidents always frogmarch us into war, whether we want it or not. It's what they DO.


Thursday, November 06, 2003

Official: Pentagon Feared Plans For Peace Would Jinx War
Or, "The Dog Ate Our Post-War Peace Plan"

Via Billmon -

"(Marine Corps General Peter) Pace, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the Bush administration had put off much of the planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war -- launched on March 20 -- out of concern such planning would bring on the conflict."

(I'm not making this up)

''We did not want to have planning for the post war make the war inevitable. We did not want to do anything that would prejudge or somehow preordain that there was definitely going to be a war,'' he said.

In other news from Iraq -

"The U.S. Army also said a soldier was killed on Thursday when a military truck struck a landmine on a road near the border with Syria. It was not clear from the statement whether the landmine was placed there by anti-American guerrillas or was part of security measures at the border."

Security measures = we put it there, our truck hit it, our bad. Oops!

Doctor Dean Floored by Flag Flap

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean said on Wednesday he regretted any pain that his comments may have caused to Southern white and African-American voters "in the beginning of this discussion" on race.

Dean, under fire for saying he wanted to be a candidate for "guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks," issued an apology for his remark Thursday.

God, Guts, and Guns Guys from other parts of the country immediately demanded equal time.

"You don't have to be a southerner to be a redneck," said Leroy Williams of Provo, Utah. "We have chapters of 'God, Guts, and Guns' all over these United States."

Homer Frogbottom of Orange Co., CA agreed. "We don't need wine-sippin', cheese-eating librul Yankees telling us we need pansy-waist librul stuff like socialized health care, or education, or jobs."

"We got jobs. As soon as the factory fires back up, we know they'll hire us all back. And we already got free health care from the clinic down at the County Health Department. Libruls just want to raise our taxes so we have to pay for it"

"I'm just thankful we have a REAL MAN as president, like George By-Gawd-Bush. He's leading us in this War on Terra and we'll keep supporting him until we kill every Iracky sumbitch that flew a plane into those towers."

Jeff Foxworthy, noted authority on Redneckism, was unavailable for comment.

posted by andante, who has lived in the south for over 30 years
Sad News - Righteous Brothers Star Found Dead

"THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS' BOBBY HATFIELD died yesterday (November 6) of undetermined causes at his hotel room.

The singer, who along with partner Bill Medley, was famous for massive hits such as 'Unchained Melody' and 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'', was discovered in his bed at 7pm - just half an hour before the duo were due to step onstage at the Miller Auditorium in western Michigan. He was 63."

God bless & rest his soul. His soaring, soulful "Unchained Melody" never fails to put me in full-swoon mode.

Joyous News - NPR Given Record Donation
"National Public Radio will announce today the largest donation in its history, a cash bequest from the will of the late philanthropist Joan Kroc of about $200 million. The bequest from the widow of the founder of the McDonald's fast-food chain both shocked and delighted people at NPR's headquarters in Washington yesterday."

Thank you, Joan. My life is incomplete without thoughtful commentary, beautiful music, "The Prairie Home Companion", "All Things Considered", and the incomparable Tom and Ray Magliozzi of "Car Talk" (Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers).

Stupid News - Osama University
" On Oct. 21, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that could require university international studies departments to show more support for American foreign policy or risk their federal funding."

What's next? A law requiring universities to create a Department of Trickle-Down Economics? Department of Fuzzy Math? Department of Bushified World History?

If the neo-cons stopped to listen to the International Studies folks occasionally and gained a little knowledge of history and different cultures, we might avoid some of the world's quicksand pits. Like, for instance - Iraq.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Conservatives continually "whine" that Democrats "don't have any ideas", "no plans", yada-yada. Democrats DO, of course - Repubs. just don't want to hear them. Not to mention they're terrified American citizens will hear those ideas and realize the Democrats are right.

Right hand, holding a gun: "Left hand, I'm going to shoot us in the foot."

Left hand: "What? Don't do that! It'll bleed! It'll hurt!"

Right hand shoots foot.

Right hand: "Holy s**t. Our foot's bleeding."

Left hand: "What the f**k! You just shot us in our foot! Are you f**king out of your mind?"

Right hand: "Why do you bitch all the time? Okay, fine. You're in charge now. What's your great idea?"

Left hand: "What the f**k do you mean? My idea was not shooting us in the foot."

Right hand: "So you don't have a Plan B?"

Left hand: "A plan B? A plan other than not shooting ourselves in the foot? How about this: don't shoot us in the f**king foot?"

Right hand: "So you have no plan B. So really, you just hate our foot, which you demonstrate by taking joy from the fact that your prediction that the foot would be bleeding happened to be correct, though the evidence is still ambiguous. Do you really enjoy being right more than you regret the fact that our foot is bleeding?"

Left hand bangs head against wall.

(Slightly edited. Tip of the hat to Amitava Mazumdar, posting on Calpundit)
See any women of childbearing age here?

I didn't think so.
Hussein's Birthplace Under Wraps

Couldn't resist one quote in this article -

"I am a patriotic Iraqi citizen just like Saddam Hussein," he said, sitting in his car near Saddam Hussein Street. "We all hope we will be like Saddam Hussein. We must try to be like our great leader."

Substitute "American" for "Iraqi", and "George Bush" for "Saddam Hussein" - sure sounds like a lot of Republicans I know.
Why America's plutocrats gobble up $1,500 hot dogs

In the final part of a series, Julian Borger examines the inequality of the Bush era.

Read it. Now.

The rest of the series is great, too -

Long queue at drive-in soup kitchen

Land where calling an ambulance is first step to bankruptcy

Can You Hear Me Now?

"Both AT&T and MCI are providing phone services to the U.S. military in Iraq. But miscommunication over their different roles has made it harder—and more expensive—for soldiers to call home." (more)

It just sorta bothers me that the United States schlepped the troops over to Iraq to begin with. They won't pay their way home for R&R, charge the wounded for meals, plus a host of other crap for the veterans. Can the Pentagon not get their act together and at least provide some reliable way for the troops to phone home?
Thousands More Reservists?

"The United States may be forced to call up thousands of more reservists to bolster its forces in Iraq due to Turkey’s reluctance to send troops without clear support from U.S.-installed Iraqi leaders. Ankara’s decision could deal a major blow to U.S. efforts to attract other countries’ help against an increasingly deadly resistance." (more)

Understandably, Iraqis don't care to be occupied by any colonial power, and they are just a WEE bit reluctant to be occupied by their former colonial power. Turkey would be wise to stay out of this mess, and BushCo is - as usual - predictably ignorant in trying to rope them in.
From the LA Times - "Reagan's Touchy Fans"

"Where's the rest of me?" Ronald Reagan famously asks in the movie "Kings Row" (1942) when he wakes up legless after surgery. It's a question that GOP officials such as Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee, have been asking as well about a planned CBS docudrama that they say doesn't recognize Reagan's greatness as president.

What Gillespie and other critics of the TV production fail to see is that their protest campaign makes more of the drama than it's worth, and less of Reagan.

Complaints, apparently based on a leaked script, that the former president is portrayed as an airhead, insensitive to AIDS victims and dominated by his wife prompted CBS to ax the four-hour mini-series. It's now supposed to run — sometime — on the Showtime cable channel, which is owned by CBS' parent company, Viacom. CBS officials say the show "does not present a balanced portrayal" of the Reagans. Maybe so, but is all the fuss really warranted?

Conservatives' anger about the Reagan series parallels the indignation of those who recently attacked Showtime's airing of a docudrama about Sept. 11. Their complaint was that the show amounted to a campaign movie for George W. Bush by depicting him as a fearless hero and by accusing the Clinton White House of being soft on terrorism. A steely Bush, for instance, tells British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he wants to "bring enough damage so they [terrorists] understand there is a new team here, a fundamental change in our policy."

But no matter how flattering this depiction was, there is no evidence that it helped Bush. His poll ratings are at a low point.

Similarly, the historical verdict on Reagan's presidency will not be determined by a docudrama. And the fact of Reagan's descent into Alzheimer's disease does not put his presidency out of bounds for comment. He was a dominant figure of late 20th century American politics, so what are Reagan's admirers so afraid of? If his record is as important as most historians already maintain, it will hardly be undermined by a two-part TV movie.


Maybe the docudrama doesn't recognize Reagan's (questionable) greatness as president. I'm still waiting for my "Reagan tax cut", never mind the Bush version.

But then, the 9/11 docudrama/fantasy didn't recognize Bush's deer-caught-in-the-headlights mediocrity, either.

From Always Fair and Balanced Fox News -

"Fox News" has obtained a document believed to have been written by the Democratic staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee that outlines a strategy for exposing what it calls "the administration's dubious motives" in the lead-up to the war in Iraq.

The memo, provided late Tuesday by a source on the Committee and reported by Fox News' Sean Hannity, discusses the timing of a possible investigation into pre-war Iraq (search) intelligence in such a way that it could bring maximum embarrassment to President Bush in his re-election campaign. " more


Do you think?!

Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee (always a quaint oxymoron) professed to be shocked - SHOCKED - brilliantly observing that the memo "exposes politics in its most raw form."

This comes from the politicos that gave us eight years and millions of dollars worth of raw politics during the Clinton administration?

George & Friends counted on raw and dubious intelligence to send American troops into harms way. If it takes "politics in its most raw form" to hold the White House accountable, so be it.


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