Friday, May 02, 2008

A Couple Of Others Who Blew "Mission Accomplished"

Of course, these are the professional panderers... they're paid to say crap like this....

'The Final Word Is Hooray!'
Remembering the Iraq War's Pollyanna pundits


Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media's supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.

"The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong," Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). "They didn't get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong."

Hume was perhaps correct--but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Around the same time as Hume's speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): "All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking."

Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.

Declaring Victory

"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?"
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/13/03)

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)

"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war."
(Fox News Channel's Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

"Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we'd seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking."
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation--Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)

Mission Accomplished?

"The war winds down, politics heats up.... Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific."
(PBS's Gwen Ifill, 5/2/03, on George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech)

"We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or Mondale, all those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple. We're not like the Brits."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

"He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, on Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech, 5/1/03)

Neutralizing the Opposition

"Why don't the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

"What's he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it's over? I mean, don't these things sort of lose their--Isn't there a fresh date on some of these debate points?"
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean--4/9/03)

"If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?"
(CNN's Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)

"It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context..... And the silence, I think, is that it's clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn't anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can't oppose--cannot oppose him politically."
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum-- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Nagging the "Naysayers"

"Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
(Fox News Channel's Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

"I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

"I'm waiting to hear the words 'I was wrong' from some of the world's most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types.... I just wonder, who's going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: 'Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong'? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war....

"Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that -- quote, 'The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated.' Sorry, Scott. I think you've been chasing the wrong tail, again.

"Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don't call them 'elitists' for nothing."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

"Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years."
(Fox News Channel's Dick Morris, 4/9/03)

"This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right."
(New York Times reporter David Carr, 4/16/03)

"Well, the hot story of the week is victory.... The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths.... There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far.... The final word on this is, hooray."
(Fox News Channel's Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

"Some journalists, in my judgment, just can't stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters."
(CNN's Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

"Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn't figured out we won the war."
(MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)


"This will be no war -- there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention.... The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling.... It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on."
(Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate-- cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)

"I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?"
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 1/29/03)

"It won't take weeks. You know that, professor. Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there's no question that it will."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"There's no way. There's absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it's maybe hours. They're going to fold like that."
(Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, 2/10/03)

"He [Saddam Hussein] actually thought that he could stop us and win the debate worldwide. But he didn't--he didn't bargain on a two- or three week war. I actually thought it would be less than two weeks."
(NBC reporter Fred Francis, Chris Matthews Show, 4/13/03)

Weapons of Mass Destruction

NPR's Mara Liasson: Where there was a debate about whether or not Iraq had these weapons of mass destruction and whether we can find it...

Brit Hume: No, there wasn't. Nobody seriously argued that he didn't have them beforehand. Nobody.
(Fox News Channel, April 6, 2003)

"Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it."
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

"Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of 'the green mushroom' over Baghdad--the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time."
(Newsweek, 3/17/03)

"Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them."
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

"Even in the flush of triumph, doubts will be raised. Where are the supplies of germs and poison gas and plans for nukes to justify pre-emption? (Freed scientists will lead us to caches no inspectors could find.) What about remaining danger from Baathist torturers and war criminals forming pockets of resistance and plotting vengeance? (Their death wish is our command.)"
(New York Times' William Safire, 4/10/03)


This advisory mistakenly included an out-of-context quote from William Raspberry’s April 14, 2003 Washington Post column. FAIR's advisory inaccurately presented Raspberry’s column as an example of overly optimistic pundit commentary about the invasion of Iraq. Contrary to FAIR’s presentation, Raspberry’s column called attention to and rejected the same sort of premature triumphalism and marginalization of critics that was the subject of FAIR's media advisory. FAIR should have presented the Raspberry column as an exceptional example of a media figure challenging the conventional wisdom early in the Iraq War.

FAIR sincerely regrets the error and offers an apology to William Raspberry and to our readers.

Also in the advisory, the Tony Snow item originally dated 4/27/03 has been corrected to 4/13/03.

How Just The Times Blew "Mission Accomplished"

Original spin was that teh White House had nothing to do with the banner. But what about the speech? The photo-op plane flight? The "pcked" flight suit? Just asking....

Just the Times' failings (and it wasn't alone):
On May 1, 2003, Richard Perle advised, in a USA Today Op-Ed, "Relax, Celebrate Victory." The same day, exactly five years ago, President Bush, dressed in a flight suit, landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major military operations in Iraq -- with the now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner arrayed behind him in the war's greatest photo op.

Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a "hero" and boomed, "He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics." He added: "Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It's simple." PBS' Gwen Ifill said Bush was "part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan." On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, "The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a -- on a carrier landing."

Bob Schieffer on CBS said: "As far as I'm concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time." His guest, Joe Klein, responded: "Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me." Everyone agreed the Democrats and antiwar critics were now on the run.

When Bush's jet landed on an aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded.

The following looks at how one newspaper -- it happens to be The New York Times -- covered the Bush declaration and its immediate aftermath. One snippet: "The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today."

By Elisabeth Bumiller
WASHINGTON, May 1--President Bush's made-for-television address tonight on the carrier Abraham Lincoln was a powerful, Reaganesque finale to a six-week war. But beneath the golden images of a president steaming home with his troops toward the California coast lay the cold political and military realities that drove Mr. Bush's advisors to create the moment.

The president declared an end to major combat operations, White House, Pentagon and State Department officials said, for three crucial reasons: to signify the shift of American soldiers from the role of conquerors to police, to open the way for aid from countries that refused to help militarily, and--above all--to signal to voters that Mr. Bush is shifting his focus from Baghdad to concerns at home.

''This is the formalization that tells everybody we're not engaged in combat anymore, we're prepared for getting out,'' a senior administration official said.

By Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
BAGHDAD, May 2--The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.

The United States currently has more than five divisions in Iraq, troops that fought their way into the country and units that were added in an attempt to stabilize it. But the Bush administration is trying to establish a new military structure in which American troops would continue to secure Baghdad while the majority of the forces in Iraq would be from other nations.

Under current planning, there would be three sectors in postwar Iraq. The Americans would keep a division in and around Baghdad; Britain would command a multinational division in the south near Basra; and Poland would command a third division of troops from a variety of nations.

By Dexter Filkins and Ian Fisher
BAGHDAD, May 2--The war in Iraq has officially ended, but the momentous task of recreating a new Iraqi nation seems hardly to have begun. Three weeks after Saddam Hussein fell from power, American troops are straining to manage the forces this war has unleashed: the anger, frustration, and competing ambitions of a nation suppressed for three decades.

In a virtual power vacuum, with the relationship between American military and civilian authority seeming ill defined, new political parties, Kurds, and Shiite religious groups are asserting virtual governmental authority in cities and villages across the country, sometimes right under the noses of American soldiers. There is a growing sense among educated Iraqis eager for the American-led transformation of Iraq to work that the Americans may be losing the initiative, that the single-mindedness that won the war is slackening under the delicate task of transforming a military victory into political success.

By David E. Sanger
WASHINGTON, May 2--In his speech, Mr. Bush argued that the invasion and liberation of Iraq were part of the American response to the attacks of Sept. 11. He called the tumultuous period since those attacks ''19 months that changed the world,'' and said Mr. Hussein's defeat was a defeat for al-Qaeda and other terrorists as well....

Politically more complex for the administration is the continuing search for chemical and biological weapons, a search that so far has turned up next to nothing. One member of Mr. Bush's war cabinet said that he suspected that Mr. Hussein had not mounted his chemical stockpiles on weapons, but suggested that sooner or later they would be found. Mr. Bush himself said tonight that the United States knew of ''hundreds of sites that will be investigated.''

Editorial, May 2
As presidential spectacles go, it would be hard to surpass George Bush's triumphant ''Top Gun'' visit to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln yesterday off the California coast. President Bush flew out to the giant aircraft carrier dressed in full fighter-pilot regalia as the ''co-pilot'' of a Navy warplane. After a dramatic landing on the compact deck--a new standard for high-risk presidential travel--Mr. Bush mingled with the ship's crew, then later welcomed home thousands of cheering sailors and aviators on the flight deck in a nationally televised address.

The scene will undoubtedly make for a potent campaign commercial next year. For now, though, the point was to declare an end to the combat phase of the war in Iraq and to commit the nation to the reconstruction of that shattered country.

From the moment that Mr. Bush made his intention of invading Iraq clear, the question was never whether American troops would succeed, or whether the regime they toppled would be exposed to the world as a despicable one. The question was, and still is, whether the administration has the patience to rebuild Iraq and set it on a course toward stable, enlightened governance. The chaotic situation in Afghanistan is no billboard for American talent at nation-building. The American administration of postwar Iraq has so far failed to match the efficiency and effectiveness of the military invasion. But as the United States came to the end of one phase of the Iraqi engagement last night, there was still time to do better.

Letter to the Editor, May 3
Some unanswered questions remain: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? What evidence makes Iraq ''an ally of al-Qaeda''? Where is Saddam Hussein? Where is Osama bin Laden? Who is next?
Martin Deppe

By David E. Sanger
WASHINGTON, May 4--With his administration under growing international pressure to find evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons, President Bush told reporters today that ''we'll find them,'' but cautioned that it would take some time because, he said, Mr. Hussein spent so many years hiding his stockpiles. Mr. Bush's comments came after his senior aides, in interviews in recent days, had begun to back away from their pre-war claims that Mr. Hussein had an arsenal that was loaded and ready to fire.

They now contend that he developed what they call a ''just in time'' production strategy for his weapons, hiding chemical precursors that could be quickly loaded into empty artillery shells or short-range missiles.

Maureen Dowd, column, May 4
The tail hook caught the last cable, jerking the fighter jet from 150 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds. Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove's ''revvin' up your engine'' myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer's movies look like Lizzie McGuire.
This time Maverick didn't just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.

Thomas Friedman, column, May 4
President Bush may have declared the war in Iraq effectively over. But, judging from my own e-mail box--where conservative readers are bombing me for not applauding enough the liberation of Iraq, and liberals for selling out to George Bush--the war over the war still burns on here.

Conservatives now want to use the victory in Iraq to defeat all liberal ideas at home, and to make this war a model for America's relations with the world, while liberals--fearing all that--are still quietly rooting for Mr. Bush to fail.

New American Deaths in Iraq, May 6
The Department of Defense has confirmed the deaths of the following Americans in the Iraq war:

GIVENS, Jesse A., 34, Pfc., Army; Springfield, Mo.; Third Armored Cavalry.

REYNOLDS, Sean C., 25, Sgt., Army; East Lansing, Mich.; 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Johnny Mac's Hate For You

It's 3 a.m. and your child is awake. She's been up coughing all night, fever resting between 101 degrees and, for a few scary minutes, 103. You and your husband spent hours trying to decide whether to take her to the emergency room. A couple of times, you even started toward the car. But you know you can't afford a trip to the hospital. You don't have health insurance.

It's 3 p.m. and your child is finally asleep, her forehead still hot to the touch. Somewhere in the house, a phone is ringing. It's your old insurance company, the one you had before your employer decided to make you a contractor rather than a full-time employee. Sorry, they say, but your family just doesn't fit their risk profile. They've got nothing in your price range. What if we pay a little more, you ask, rapidly weighing the consequences of taking out another mortgage or shifting more purchases to credit. Sorry, the even-voiced representative says, this time more firmly, they really don't have anything for you at all.

It is a call -- or, sometimes, merely a letter -- that millions of Americans have received, particularly those not covered by large employers or the federal government. These Americans are rejected for health insurance because they were sick once, or because they're too old now, or for no apparent reason at all. They are rejected because insurers make money by not paying for care. To get an idea of how insurers think about care provision, it's worth knowing that they routinely speak of "medical-loss ratios" -- the amount of money they "lose" paying for the medical treatment of their customers. But you can't blame them, really: Insurers seek to make a profit, and some of us are simply not profitable.

It is not a call that John McCain has ever received. As Sarah Arnquist has written, aside from his awful internment in a Vietnamese prison camp, it is hard to find a day in McCain's life when he was not sheltered by the government-run health care he now claims to loathe. Born the son of a Navy admiral, he was cared for by Navy physicians during his childhood. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, and the military's care continued until he retired from the service in 1981. In 1982, he won a seat in Congress, ushering him into the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, and in 2001, he qualified for Medicare. When he says, "we have the highest quality of health care in the world in America," he is speaking as a man who has enjoyed a lifetime of government-run care.

But now John McCain is seeking the presidency as a Republican, and a healthy distaste for government-run health care is de rigueur. "I am convinced," said John McCain at Miami Children's Hospital, "that the wrong way to go is to turn over your lives to the government and hope it will all be fine. It won't." Spoken like a 71-year-old whose government health coverage has kept him healthy enough to run for the presidency.

Government health insurance, like large employer health insurance, is based on a simple concept: Risk pooling. The more of us in this together, the more our health risks will average out among the population. When I'm sick, many more will be well, and so the group will be able to bear the costs of my illness. Moreover, the greater the size of the pool, the greater our ability to negotiate better deals, demand fairer treatment, and generally find market strength in numbers. This is true, in a maximal sense, for Medicare, with its tens of millions of members and ability to set doctor-payment rates. And it's relatively true for large employers. Democrats, in general, want to expand this model, bringing more people into government and employer options, and ensuring that ever fewer individuals are forced to face the health system on their lonesome.

In contrast, McCain would like to take the health-care system in the opposite direction, toward an individual market where individuals seek coverage without the protection of large insurers or the government. Thus, the core of McCain's health-care proposal is a tax credit designed to ease people out of employer insurance and help employers pull away from offering coverage. McCain would give individuals a $2,500 tax credit and families a $5,000 tax credit meant to help them seek cheaper coverage options, such as health savings accounts, in the private market. And it is this cheaper coverage that is truly the point of McCain's health plan. "I would seek to encourage and expand the benefits of [health savings] accounts to more American families."

The benefits of those accounts are simple: low monthly premiums. The drawbacks are similarly clear: very high deductibles, lots of personal financial risk, and relatively sparse coverage. "These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for," enthuses McCain. But that's not quite accurate. Individuals have no more autonomy under these accounts than in a traditional sense. They are just more acutely sensitive to the price of their care, which means they'll purchase less of it, and overall health spending will fall.

If you're young and unlikely to get sick, these accounts are a good deal, as you'll pay lower premiums. If you're not as demographically and genetically blessed, they're a bad deal, as you'll pay much more out of pocket for your care. They are, in other words, the logical extension of the modern health coverage marketplace: They're health insurance for people who don't need health care.

Give McCain this: His philosophy is clear. McCain believes that Americans use too much health care, and he has created a plan that will make care less affordable so millions of Americans will use less. He even has a euphemistic description for this approach: "The key to real reform," he says, "is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves … These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for."

That's undoubtedly true. Parents weighing an emergency room visit they can't afford no doubt realize that they are in charge of what they are paying for. They are certainly more "price sensitive." They are certainly not acting with the wanton disregard of an insured family who seeks care for their feverish child without a second thought. The question, of course, is whether this sort of cost sensitivity is desirable.

So ask yourself this question: It's 3 a.m. one December night in 2010 -- one year after health reform was passed. Whose signature do you wish were on that bill? The president who believed you needed health insurance, and the peace of mind to seek medical care? Or the president who believed you needed more "price sensitivity," and left you to the tender mercy of the insurers? Are we in this together, or are we better off alone?

Just In Case You Had Any Doubts What Kind Of Reactionary Idiots The "Intelligent Design" Crowd Is....

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued the following statement regarding the controversial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
The film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed misappropriates the Holocaust and its imagery as a part of its political effort to discredit the scientific community which rejects so-called intelligent design theory.

Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people and Darwin and evolutionary theory cannot explain Hitler's genocidal madness.

Using the Holocaust in order to tarnish those who promote the theory of evolution is outrageous and trivializes the complex factors that led to the mass extermination of European Jewry.

Homeland Security: Can't Tell The Air Marshals From Te Terrorists So Air Marshals Kept Off Planes


Viddie Of The Day As Of This Second: Baby Throwing In India

Viddie Of The Day

Boomerang in space!!!

Not To Sound Loony But You Really Think Someone With A Whole Lot Of Knowledge Embarrassing To A Whole Bunch Of Wingnuts Really Killed Herself?

Nah, just, like, a really coincidental stroke of great fortune for Our Leaders....
Two weeks after being convicted on federal charges for running a prostitution ring, "DC Madam" Deborah Jean Palfrey has committed suicide at a Florida home, according to several news reports.

More Pandering Idiocy From The Saint

Republican John McCain is making promises that would cost billions of taxpayer dollars, yet he is vague about how he would pay for them.

McCain is handing around a campaign grab bag of goodies. There are little treats like a summer gas-tax holiday and new mortgages for struggling homeowners, and there are big plums like tax breaks for corporations and families with children.

The expected GOP presidential nominee has nothing on the Democrats. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama would spend billions of dollars themselves on things like paid family leave, universal health insurance and preschool for kids.

The difference? Unlike the Democrats, McCain has made a career of trying to cut spending. He rails against spending in nearly every speech. He gets laughs by singling out silly sounding projects like a federal DNA study of bears in Montana: "I don't know if that was a paternity issue or a criminal issue."

And McCain gets attention when he says it was spending, not the war in Iraq, that cost Republicans their control of Congress in 2006.

"The reason why we lost that election, my dear friends, was because we let spending get out of control," he said recently. "We came to power in 1994 to change government, and government changed us."

Now McCain is promising ambitious cuts in spending to pay for his ideas. The cuts would not pay for all his promises, but McCain says they needn't.

"I strongly disagree with the view that just because you reduce the tax burden, just because you let people save and invest more of their money, that therefore there's less money that goes into government," he told reporters last week in Alabama.

McCain said he is not exactly a supply-sider — someone who subscribes to the idea that some tax cuts can pay for themselves by encouraging economic growth. But he certainly leans that way.

"I believe there's more money, because of the increase in economic activity and growth," he said.

Regardless of who wins the November election, it is vital to find a way to pay for new spending or tax cuts, because the next president will face a budget deficit of more than $400 billion. And the deficit will keep mounting as baby boomer retirements swell Social Security and Medicare.

McCain has pledged to balance the federal budget, although he has backed off an earlier promise to do so in his first term and now says he would do it within eight years.

McCain's tax cuts would be double the size of President Bush's:

_First, he wants to extend Bush's tax cuts, which cost an estimated $228 billion annually and are set to expire after next year, according to congressional analysts.

_On top of that, he seeks new tax cuts of about $225 billion a year, according to his own estimate. He would slash the corporate tax rate, eliminate the alternative minimum tax and double the tax exemption for dependent children.

_And the cost of his tax breaks could rise even higher. McCain has proposed two business tax breaks, a credit for research and first-year expensing of equipment; his campaign says they essentially would cost nothing, but the Treasury Department has estimated they could cost more than $140 billion annually.

Those are just the tax cuts. McCain also proposed a new mortgage refinancing program for struggling homeowners that could cost the government $3 billion to $10 billion. He proposed to suspend federal gas taxes for the summer months at a cost of $8 billion to $10 billion.

And McCain has several proposals whose costs are unknown, such as his pledge to give all veterans a plastic card to get medical treatment anywhere they choose, a new student loan program and tax write-offs for companies that provide Internet service to rural areas.

How would he pay for it? New user fees could pay for the gas-tax holiday, McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said.

Ironically, McCain said those kinds of fees were essentially tax increases when former rival Mitt Romney imposed them on businesses as governor of Massachusetts. Yet McCain has said he doesn't want to raise taxes.

McCain also has sketched out ideas for covering the costs of his $225 billion in new tax cuts, saying he would cut spending, eliminate corporate tax loopholes and spark economic growth by that amount of money.

Those spending cuts include making wealthier Medicare recipients pay more for their prescription medicines, killing off congressional earmarks and a freeze on some new spending increases.

Yet for all the numbers he has provided, McCain has been reluctant to say exactly which programs he would cut.

He criticizes "earmarks," pet projects tucked into spending bills, like the bear study. He said Wednesday that the bridge collapse in Minnesota last year would not have happened if Congress had not wasted so much money on pork-barrel spending, despite the suspicion of federal investigators that the problem may have been design-related, not spending-related.

He also won't list which "earmarks" are wasteful because there are more than 9,000 of them. "How could I possibly?" he said Wednesday. "Are you crazy?"

Even the earmarks he rails against include things he supports, such as aid to Israel. Last month, after McCain promised to eliminate all earmarks as part of his economic plan, his campaign said he remains committed to aid for Israel.

Thus, the reality of cutting spending may be very different from rhetoric, as McCain has found time and again.

On a swing through Alabama's rural Black Belt last week, McCain rode a ferry boat from tiny Gee's Bend, a town once cut off from ferry service to keep black residents from crossing the Alabama River to push for civil rights.

McCain rode across the river with several elderly black women, quilt makers from Gee's Bend, who sang gospel hymns and held his hands. McCain even took a turn driving the ferry just before it docked.

The ferry came into existence with $3 million in earmarks — the kind of spending McCain says he would stop.

McCain insisted he is not trying to have it both ways. The ferry spending was worthy and would have been eligible for other federal dollars, he told reporters.

"America is supposed to help people in rural settings, people like the quilters who are direct descendants of slaves," McCain said. "It's 'give people a hand up.' That's the essence of government."

The GOP Seems To Justify Your Paranoia

Of course, truth is that the party was always anti-American: elitist, McCarthyism, the present non-elected, appointed regime.

Now they're free to thumb their noses, as it were, at everything America represents including, apparently, but unsurprisingly, the rule of law. Me, always thought the modern GOP wanted America to emulate a banana republic, not a healthy democracy. I dare say the facts prove me, well, right....

The Raw Story:
In two states where US attorneys are already under fire for serious allegations of political prosecutions, seven people associated with three federal cases have experienced 10 suspicious incidents including break-ins and arson.

These crimes raise serious questions about possible use of deliberate intimidation tactics not only because of who the victims are and the already wide criticism of the prosecutions to begin with, but also because of the suspicious nature of each incident individually as well as the pattern collectively. Typically burglars do not break-into an office or private residence only to rummage through documents, for example, as is the case with most of the burglaries in these two federal cases.

In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment. Nothing of value was taken, however, and according to the Siegelman family, the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman's home office.

Siegelman's attorney experienced the same type of break-in at her office.

In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions. Of the four individuals in the same case, three of the US Attorney’s targets were the victims of crimes during their indictment or trial. This case, like that of Governor Siegelman, has been widely criticized as a politically motivated prosecution by a Bush US Attorney.

The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents and in Minor’s case, also took a single computer from an office full of expensive office equipment.

The incidents are not limited to burglaries. In Mississippi, former Judge John Whitfield was the victim of arson at his office. In Alabama, the whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case, Dana Jill Simpson, had her home burned down, and shortly thereafter her car was allegedly forced off the road.

While there is no direct evidence linking these crimes to the US Attorneys’ office targeting these individuals, or to the Bush administration, there is a distinct pattern that makes it highly unlikely that these incidents are isolated and unrelated.

All of these crimes remain unsolved.


On Feb. 21, 2007, a private residence located at 1429 West Main Street in Rainsville, Alabama caught fire. The house belonged to whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson, a long-time Alabama Republican lawyer and political opposition researcher who was then preparing to come forward in connection with the conviction of former Alabama Democratic governor Don Siegelman and his co-defendant, Republican fundraiser and businessman, Richard Scrushy.

According to the police report obtained by RAW STORY, the east side of the building was completely damaged and the entire structure sustained damages of roughly 30 percent. (See attached report.) The cause of this fire is unknown and there has been no formal investigation to date. Simpson was not home at the time of the incident.

According to Simpson's attorney in Montgomery, Alabama, Priscilla Duncan, the timing of the fire at Simpson's home should raise questions.

Jill "was talking to Siegelman's attorneys about what she was witness to, discussing going public," said Duncan in a conversation late last week. "On February 15 she also sent a letter to Art Leach [Scrushy's attorney]."

Six days after Simpson sent the letter to Leach, her house caught fire.

According to Simpson's subsequent May 7, 2007 affidavit and her sworn testimony before the US House Judiciary Committee Sept. 14, Siegelman's prosecution was allegedly orchestrated by senior officials in the Bush administration, primarily former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Simpson testified that two weeks after the November 2002 election in which Siegelman was defeated by Republican Bob Riley, Republican operative Bill Canary -- who was serving as Riley's campaign advisor -- held a conference call with Riley's staffers about "how to handle Siegelman." As reported in Part I of RAW STORY's investigative series, Simpson alleges that during this call, Canary stated that "his girls" would "take care of Siegelman."

Simpson says she understood "his girls" to be a reference to Canary's wife, Leura Canary, the US Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and the couple's long-time friend, Alice Martin, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Both women had been appointed by George W. Bush in 2001 and had been investigating Siegelman since taking office. Siegelman would later be indicted in Leura Canary's district.

Karl Rove has publicly denied any involvement in the investigation and prosecution of Siegelman but refuses to testify to this under oath. Neither Bill nor Leura Canary has offered a comment for any of our articles in the investigative series.


Less than two weeks after her house caught fire, Simpson's car was allegedly forced off the road. She was rushed to Marshall Medical Center South and was treated for bruising on her arms and chest. According to the police report of the accident, Simpson was heading northbound on U.S 431 when a "non contact" vehicle made an improper lane change into her lane. Simpson swerved to avoid hitting the vehicle, almost going into the ditch, and struck a car parked in a driveway. (In the police sketch of the accident below, Simpson's car is marked #1. The parked car is marked #2.)

According to the police report, the driver of the non-contact vehicle was Mark Roden of Rainbow City, Alabama.

Ms. Simpson told RAW STORY several weeks ago that a state trooper interviewed Mr. Roden at the scene of the accident, and "when the trooper asked him for his employment information, Mr. Roden said that he was a officer with the Attalla police department. He was then allowed to leave without a citation."

The city clerk for the city of Attalla, Alabama confirmed to us that Mark Roden was indeed a former police officer with the Attalla Police Department, but she could not provide additional information. Calls left for the Attalla police chief were not returned.

Repeated attempts to reach Mark Roden at the residence listed on the accident report have been unsuccessful.

According to Priscilla Duncan, on the day of the car accident Simpson had met with Richard Scrushy, the co-defendant in the Siegelman case, to discuss coming forward as a whistleblower.

"It is definitely coincidental," Duncan said.


Simpson was not the only one involved in the Siegelman case to fall victim to crimes. According to Governor Siegelman's daughter, Dana Siegelman, their family returned home from a summer trip in 2004 to find the house unlocked and the doors open. Nothing had been taken, although the home contained computers, stereos, and jewelry. Ms. Siegelman explained that the only things disturbed were in Siegelman's office, including his papers, which seemed to have been rifled and were in disarray.

Ms. Siegelman says that her family experienced this once more in the summer of 2004 and that the timing of the two burglaries appeared strange, because it was during this period that charges were brought against her father by the office of US Attorney Leura Canary.

According to Siegelman's daughter, the family did not report these incidents to the police at the time because they already felt targeted by the US Attorney's office and the FBI, as well as being uncertain as to what had actually occurred.

"It was only later, when we realized how deceitful our government really could be," Dana said, "that we suspected our house might have been bugged or Dad's files had been sifted through -- when the same thing happened to his lawyer, Susan James."


Don Siegelman was sentenced to over seven years in a state penitentiary in June 2007. He was not allowed out on bail during his appeal, but was immediately shackled, manacled and moved out of state without his lawyers being informed. The severity of the sentence prompted 44 former state attorneys general of both parties to write a letter to Congress, asking them to investigate Siegelman's prosecution, which they describe as having "sufficient irregularities as to call into question the basic fairness that is the linchpin of our system of justice."

Montgomery attorney Susan James immediately prepared to file an appeal on Siegelman's behalf with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. James had handled much of the sentencing part of Siegelman's case and was now part of the appeal team.

On July 1, 2007, James' office was broken into. As with Siegelman's home, no computers or office equipment were taken or anything of any value. James told the Associated Press, "They went through our client files."

James expanded on the break-in in a recent interview with RAW STORY. She said the burglars went through several file cabinets with documents filed under the letter "S," which might have included Siegelman's files if she had not moved them earlier after a previous break-in.

"This burglary is unusual," said James. "File cabinets were left open. Drapes were closed and the blinds were pulled down."

James said that the only reason that someone would need to close the drapes and pull down the blinds was if they wanted to turn the lights on to look for something. She asserted that the office next door to hers was not burglarized, even though it also had computers and equipment.

When asked what she made of the cases described in this article, James said she'd not been aware of the number of break-ins and the similarities between them.

"The entire scenario appears to be a pattern unrelated to just random burglaries and random crimes," James said. "Our break-in was treated as a routine burglary but when you add the facts of what appear to be other similar burglaries together, this is something that definitely bears further investigation."

Dana Siegelman says that her family now has "little doubt as to why or who was behind it," but did not elaborate.


Sometime between Sunday, March 2 and early the next morning, the office of Montgomery insurance executive and life-long Republican, John Goff was vandalized by persons unknown.

"We came in to work one day and the window was knocked out," Goff told Raw Story in a phone interview. Goff explained that the $400 window described in the police report was the sliding glass front door of his office. According to the police report obtained by Raw Story (See attached report.), a large pane of glass was smashed.

At the time the of the incident at his office, Goff was the subject of what he alleges is a politically motivated prosecution orchestrated by the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama, Leura Canary, in retaliation for a politically embarrassing lawsuit he filed against the State's well-connected Republican governor, Bob Riley, last year.

Leura Canary’s husband, Bill Canary, served as a campaign advisor to Riley when he ran against Siegelman in the 2002 election. In essence, the US Attorney appears to bringing charges against the perceived enemies of her husband’s client.

A month after the incident at Goff’s office, a grand jury indicted Goff on charges of embezzlement, mail fraud, and conspiracy. The charges stem from a dispute between Goff and two reinsurance companies over insurance premiums Goff collected from clients. The original dispute was settled by arbitration and litigation several years ago. The arbitration panel agreed that Goff had failed to pay what he owed.

Goff reached a settlement with the Alabama Department of Insurance for complaints arising from the same dispute in the spring of 2005.

It is not clear why federal prosecutors decided to revisit the matter in 2007 and launch a criminal investigation against Goff, indicting him in 2008.

Goff and his lawyers maintain that federal prosecutors with close ties to Riley are rehashing settled business in order to punish Goff for blowing the whistle on an alleged attempt at extortion by lobbyists for Riley.

They alleged that US Attorney Leura Canary has a conflict of interest because her husband, Bill Canary, is on the list of witnesses to be deposed in Goff’s lawsuit against Riley and others in his administration.

The US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Alabama did not return repeated calls and emails seeking comment.


The break-ins and arson are not, however, restricted to Alabama. In Mississippi, there was another alleged political prosecution, a bribery case brought by the Bush-appointed US Attorney for the Southern District, Dunnica Lampton, against attorney Paul Minor and three judges, including Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver E. Diaz Jr., Minor and two of the judges have also fallen victim to break-ins and arson.

On May 14, 2004, while Judge Diaz and his family were out of town, a neighbor noticed an intruder and called the police. According to the police report, the front door of the Diaz home appeared to have been kicked in and a window broken. (See attached police report.)

In a striking similarity to the Alabama cases, the Diaz burglars appeared not to have been interested in valuables of any sort.

"Our door was kicked in and our documents were rummaged," Diaz said in an extensive interview for Part V of our investigative series. "Televisions, computers and other valuables were not taken, despite the fact that we were out of town for several days and the home was left open by the burglars. We could not figure out a motive for the burglary and reported it to the Biloxi Police Department. The crime was never solved."


In the early morning of Sept. 15, 2003, the Biloxi, Mississippi office of another of the defendants in the Paul Minor case, former Mississippi judge John Whitfield, was set on fire.

At approximately 3:30 am, Whitfield's secretary, Michele Herman, was awakened by a call from the fire alarm company informing her that the office was ablaze. Herman was the first of Whitfield's associates to arrive at the scene. Her boss and other colleagues joined her soon after.

Herman described what happened after she arrived.

"I rushed to the office to watch the fire department put the fire out. It was contained to my office because we close doors between offices when we leave," Herman wrote in an email. "Just about everything I had was destroyed -- over 20 years worth of my research and books and photos and paintings and such."

From the outset, the Biloxi fire and police departments treated the fire as a case of arson. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were also involved, as were investigators from the US Attorney's office. However, the only suspect in the arson case was Whitfield himself.

"It was us, me and John [Whitfield] and a former cop that worked with us, and Mike [Crosby, Whitfield's attorney] that kept telling the fire officials that it looked like something was splashed all over the wall of the outside of the house that we used as an office," Herman stated. "They ignored us until John hired an independent fire inspector/arson expert."

According to Herman's recollection, local authorities announced that same day that they intended to confiscate files and documents that had survived the blaze. Whitfield's lawyer, Mike Crosby strongly objected to this, since he was concerned that privileged information -- including Whitfield's defense file and the case files of his clients -- would fall into the hands of the FBI and the ATF and be used against Whitfield in his upcoming trial.

In a letter obtained by RAW STORY, dated Sept. 19, 2003, Crosby wrote to the judge overseeing the seizure of files and hard drives to register his strenuous objections. The files and disks contained information that was critical to the operation of Whitfield's law practice as well as his defense file for the Diaz/Minor case. Crosby explained that he'd offered to make copies of all the materials for the investigators, if only he could have the originals back. The authorities refused. (See attached letter.)

Repeated attempts to reach Crosby for comment have been unsuccessful.

"No one has ever been charged with the crime, as far as we know," Herman added. "They dropped it after they investigated John -- he was their suspect, you know. Only problem was, he didn't own the building, had nothing to gain -- no motive for destroying the building."


Also charged by US Attorney Dunnica Lampton was Paul Minor, a successful trial lawyer and the largest individual Democratic campaign donor in Mississippi. Minor was convicted of bribery and mail fraud and is now serving time in a federal penitentiary in Florida.

In the summer of 2003, Minor's Biloxi, Mississippi law office was allegedly broken into. According to his secretary, Janet Miller, a brick was used to shatter her office window and the break-in targeted only her office.

"I panicked because they took my whole computer -- it had all of my bookkeeping on it and I had an old back up that I had not updated since March," Miller said.

"It had a lot of Paul [Minor]'s personal stuff on it, his business, and of course it had all of the accounting for the law firm on it from 2000 forward."

Miller said that files were also rummaged through, but she could not say for sure if anything was taken because it was so chaotic. No other office in Minor's suite of offices were disturbed.

This crime, like the others, remains unsolved.


John C. Villines, ICPS, CPP, has studied crime causation and crime prevention for 30 years. As a security consultant, he has provided services to private industry, the United States Government, law enforcement agencies, community organizations and others. He is the Director of John C. Villines LLC, often appears as an expert witness criminal cases, and was up until recently the Chairman of the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies.

Villines was asked in the most general terms what he makes of this series of crimes. He was not provided with the names of the individuals or any information that would identify the Alabama and Mississippi cases.

"I would avoid drawing conclusions based upon the amount of information you have provided," Villines wrote in an email response. "But it would be reasonable to expect that the burglar or burglars is seeking information."

RAW STORY asked Villines if these crimes could be identity theft-type crimes or something similar.

"Certainly, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States," Villines responded. "However, a series of burglaries and arsons such as you have described would not be the primary crimes I would expect to see associated with attempts to steal personal identifiers."

"It would seem more reasonable to expect that the burglar(s) have targeted information related to specific individuals, and that the value of the information is related to a personal motivation (either on the part of the burglar(s) or someone who has contracted their services, as in the famed Watergate burglary). Possible motives (speculation): acquire damaging information about a third party, or recover personal information to keep it from being discovered by others."

The pattern of break-ins and other crimes in Alabama and Mississippi and the serious questions surrounding possible intimidation tactics are not without precedent. From the 1960's to the 1980's, similar tactics were used by the Nixon and Reagan administrations to spy upon and demoralize their political opponents.

In 1971, a group of anonymous activists broke into FBI headquarters in Media, Pennsylvania and made off with more than a thousand documents, which were then mailed to major newspapers and politicians. The documents revealed the existence of a secret counterintelligence program -- known as COINTELPRO for short -- dedicated to investigating, undermining, and discrediting anti-war and civil rights groups. As part of this program, violent attacks against activists by right-wing groups were sometimes allowed to go forward or even incited by FBI informants within those groups.

The death of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1972 and strict new guidelines passed by Congress in 1976 were believed to have put an end to such abuses. Two high FBI officials were even convicted in 1980 of having ordered agents to break into the homes of friends and relatives of members of the Weather Underground, including the sister of Bernadine Dohrn.

These safeguards, however, broke down during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who pardoned the two officials and had their convictions expunged. The FBI was once again a political tool, which not only investigated liberal members of Congress, such as Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Christopher Dodd, but also paid right-wing groups, including the followers of Reverend Moon, to spy upon and disrupt individuals and organizations opposed to the Reagan administration's support for right-wing dictators in Latin America.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ross Gelbspan wrote in Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI (1991) about "the mystery of the little-publicized epidemic of low-grade, domestic terrorism. It includes break-ins, death threats, and politically motivated arson attacks which have plagued hundreds of activists and organizations across the country for the past seven years. While the FBI has repeatedly denied any role in these activities, the Bureau has, at the same time, refused scores of requests to investigate what is clearly an interstate conspiracy to violate the civil liberties of the victims.

"From 1984, when the first reports of mysterious political break-ins and death threats began to surface, the list of such episodes has continued to escalate. ... Of nearly 200 political break-ins and thefts of files reported by Central America and Sanctuary activists, not one has been solved."

Whether or not the recent cases in Alabama and Mississippi actually represent the reemergence of COINTELPRO tactics from the past remains unclear. There is no solid evidence tying any of the cases to one another. But there does appear to be a common pattern, both in who is being targeted and also in how the burglars have conducted their operations.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Beloved Leader Finds Johnny Mac's Proposed Policy Dumb

Man, that's gotta hurt.... Link.

SCARY Viddie Of The Day; Yet Another Triumph Of Global Capitalism

Mao spinning in his grave?? I am and I'm neither Chinese, Communist or, for that matter, dead.

Our Love For The GOP

But first the caveat:

In true Faux News tradition, the piece is obsessed with a delusion: the breath-taking strength of Johnny Mac. Omitted are a few not so insignificant facts: no one's really campaigning against him yet and he's still pretty much getting a pass from his Big Media lovers.

As they say, time will tell.

And meanwhile, he's on real shaky ground.

Faux Bidness Journal:
Only 27% of voters have positive views of the Republican Party, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, the lowest level for either party in the survey's nearly two-decade history.

Yet the party's probable presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, continues to run nearly even with Democratic rivals Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. His standing so far makes for a more competitive race for the White House than would be expected for Republicans, who face an electorate that overwhelmingly believes the country is headed in the wrong direction under President Bush.

"The nearly unprecedented negative mood of the country is presenting significant challenges this year for other Republican candidates," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse, who conducted the poll with Democrat Peter Hart.

President Bush reached new lows in his eighth and final year, with 27% approving of his overall job performance, and 21% his handling of the weakened economy. An unprecedented 73% of voters believe the country is on the wrong track; only 15% say it is going in the right direction.

The numbers show an electorate more disenchanted than in the fall of 1992, the previous low in the Journal poll -- sentiments that led to the ouster of President Bush's father.

A majority of voters now say they want Democrats to re-capture the White House again, a finding that makes Sen. McCain's position remarkable: He's in a statistical dead-heat against either Democrat in the poll. Sen. Obama, the Democratic front-runner, leads Sen. McCain 46% to 43%, and Sen. Clinton has a 45% to 44% edge over the Republican. A big reason for the closeness: More voters said they could identify with Sen. McCain's "background" and "values" than with those of either of the Democratic contenders.

Another Bit Of The 20th Century Comes To India

That's 20th, not 21st. No typo here!


Another Triumph For Global Capitalism!

Police in southern China have discovered a factory manufacturing Free Tibet flags....
(Pointed to this via BoingBoing.)

Viddie Of The Day

John McCain Hates The Troops Too

War Room:
John McCain may have to find an open seat on the "Straight Talk Express" for Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. Today, a Politico article by David Rogers documented the openly contentious debate that has developed between Webb and McCain over Webb's proposed G.I. bill.

Discussing why he favors a G.I. benefits bill introduced by Republicans as opposed to Webb's measure, McCain told the Politico that "there are fundamental differences. [Webb's bill] creates a new bureaucracy and new rules. His bill offers the same benefits whether you stay three years or longer. We want to have a sliding scale to increase retention. I haven't been in Washington, but my staff there said that his has not been eager to negotiate."

Webb, never one to mince words, replied, "He's so full of it. I have personally talked to John three times. I made a personal call to [McCain aide] Mark Salter months ago asking that they look at this."

This isn't the first time Webb has spoken his mind so bluntly. In 2006, soon after being elected to the Senate, Webb had a testy exchange with President Bush that received a great deal of media coverage.

Webb's current issue with McCain stems from two different proposed bills designed to boost the benefits available for U.S. soldiers. Webb's bill aims to enhance the benefits soldiers receive in return for their service. The measure would dramatically increase the amount of financial assistance veterans could acquire for a college education. Republican Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska have already voiced their support for the bill.

However, McCain has said he is against Webb's proposal because of a provision that makes the benefits available to any soldier who has served on active duty for at least three months since 9/11. Additionally, Webb's bill would allow both active soldiers and reserves to be eligible to receive the benefits. McCain alleges that this will hurt the military's retention of soldiers, by making service a pseudo-way station to a free college education. McCain supports legislation that would link benefits to the amount of time a soldier has served in the armed forces.

McCain's position on the G.I. bill would seem to present Democrats with an opportunity to go on the attack against the likely Republican presidential nominee even before the party chooses between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Despite McCain's decorated service in Vietnam, in this situation, he can't rely on his military experience alone to justify his position. Webb also served in Vietnam, and as the Politico article points out about McCain, "The former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW makes himself a target by refusing to endorse Webb's new GI education bill and instead signing on to a Republican alternative that focuses more on career soldiers than on the great majority who leave after their first four years."

Wesley Clark and Jon Soltz attempted to debunk the notion that Webb's bill would hurt the military's retention efforts in an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times on April 10 (h/t to Steve Benen). Clark and Soltz wrote:
First, it is morally reprehensible to fix the system so that civilian life is unappealing to service members, in an attempt to force them to re-up. Education assistance is not a handout, it is a sacred promise that we have made for generations in return for service.

Second, falling military recruitment numbers are just as serious as retention problems. To send the message that this nation will not help you make the most of your life will dissuade a large number of our best and brightest from choosing military service over other career options.
The issue of G.I. benefits doesn't seem like it will disappear anytime soon. CNN reported just yesterday on the many veterans who feel they were misled about the level of benefits they'd receive for their service.

Update: Our Leaders Still Hate Their Troops

Pointless war. Leaders who hate and refuse to support their troops. Why join the fight over there?
Cheated. Baited and switched. That's how veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan say they feel about military recruiters who sold them on how the GI Bill would benefit them.

Soldiers, Marines and airmen, speaking at a Capitol Hill rally Tuesday, said they are not given enough funds from the bill to cover college expenses as they were promised.

Todd Bowers served two tours in Iraq.

"I came home proud, very proud of my service, with a Purple Heart on my chest and a Navy commendation medal with a 'V' for Valor," he told a crowd of veterans.

"But I didn't come back to the education I was expecting. I came back to three different types of student loans, two of which had gone to collections."

Najwa McQueen said she joined the Louisiana National Guard in 2004 on what she thought was a promise to help pay for her college education.

"They kind of sell you a dream," she said after the rally. "You think you're going to get all of this stuff, and in reality, you don't get that. I just kind of believed what my recruiter told me, which is not the truth."

McQueen left behind her husband and 18-month-old daughter in October 2004 and served 10 months in Iraq. After her service, she enrolled in college and found that her total benefits from the GI Bill would be $400 a month for four months, totaling $1,600. Her classes alone, she said, cost $1,000 each.

The GI Bill was created in June 1944, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. It was designed to help educate and train military veterans returning from WWII. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 7.8 million of 16 million troops who served in WWII received educational or vocational training from the GI Bill. Watch Bowers and others say they are disappointed with GI benefits »

Today, the benefits from the GI Bill cover about half of the national average cost of college including tuition, board and room. As of October 1, 2007, under the current GI Bill, the maximum for active-duty servicemen who were honorably discharged is $1,101 a month for 36 months to help cover tuition, room and board, and books. For reservists and National Guard members, the average is lower: typically $440 a month.

"Not even [enough to cover] community college," said Steven Henderson, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Corps reservist Evan Aanerud, who served in Iraq, enlisted right out of high school.

"After putting my life on the line for America, it would have been nice to be afforded the educational benefits we were led to expect," he said.

One of the early beneficiaries of the GI Bill was Petty Officer 3rd Class John Warner, who served in the Navy in WWII and went on to earn undergraduate and law degrees. The GI Bill covered both degrees in full at that time.

Warner is a U.S. senator from Virginia, and he spoke to the veterans at Tuesday's rally.

"I would not be privileged to have served now these 30 years in the United States Senate, and at one time chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had it not been this great nation giving me the opportunity through the GI Bill to receive that education, preparation and training," he said.

Warner is one of 58 senators co-sponsoring Sen. Jim Webb's Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Webb's proposal is designed to dramatically expand educational benefits for military veterans. A version of the bill in the House has 241 co-sponsors. Covering active-duty National Guard troops and reservists, as well as other service members, it aims to cover the cost of the most expensive public in-state universities and a monthly housing stipend. Those who served on active duty for three or more months after September 11, 2001, would be eligible.

For private colleges with typically more expensive tuition fees, the bill seeks to match private schools' contributions over the course of four academic years.

"This is not a difficult concept. For all the people saying this is the new Greatest Generation, this is not a difficult thing. This is the easiest way to prove that," said Webb, a Virginia Democrat and Vietnam veteran.

The new bill's cost is estimated at $2 billion. House Democrats are discussing a proposal to add Webb's bill and other domestic priorities to the Iraq War Spending Bill, according to several Democratic leadership aides.

President Bush warned Tuesday at a Rose Garden news conference that he would veto any additions to the bill.

5 Years Later, A Mistake Wrongly Admitted

Our Leaders now claim that May 2003 "Mission Accomplished" banner (and, presumably the speech) was a mistake.

As usual, the White House, taking inspiration from the imbecilic Beloved Leader, once again gets it wrong.

By May 2003, the mission was in fact accomplished:

Destabilizing iraq for no good reason.

Yet Another Example Of Rightist Hypocrisy, If You're Interested (Including A Photo Of A Porn Star If That Helps You Decide)

Link (almost wrote "kink").

GOP 2008: "Why We Can Win"; Their Plan Revealed

Now you won't be surprised. Or can ignore that part of the news. Whatever. It'll be deja vu all over again...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Two Disgusting, Gross Jokes

First, sacrilegious and sexist (dedicated to the Pope to make up for the earlier post):

It's the morning after God invented woman. He goes to check in with Adam.

"So," God says. "What do you think of My creation, woman?"

"Oh, my God. It was incredible! We invented this thing called sex...." Adam says and then goes on for quite some time.

When Adam's finally done, God asks: "So where is she?"

"Down by the river, " Adam says, "cleaning herself, from, you know...."

"I damn it," God exclaimed angrily. "Now the fish will stink too!"

Second and worse:

My Elmo.

Candidates, We Wanna Know....

The Top 17 Pointless Presidential Debate Questions

"Senator Clinton, if you are elected president, do we have to worry about you receiving a blowjob in the oval office?"

"Senator McCain, you're old enough to be Senator Obama's father. Are you?"

"Senator Obama, if elected, do you promise to bring sexy back?"

"Mr. Nader, what have we told you about not taking your pills for those delusions of grandeur?"

"Your well-documented military experience in Viet Nam is all well and good, Senator McCain, but were *you* ever shot at in Bosnia?"

"Senator Clinton, boxers or briefs?"

"Senator Obama, if your name could rhyme with that of any international terrorist, whose would it be and why?"

"Senator Clinton, considering the recent strain on relationships between the US and our European allies over the Middle Eastern conflict and the dollar's free fall against the Euro: French President Sarkozy -- dreamboat

"Senator McCain, maybe your first-hand knowledge could settle this important question once and for all: In your experience, did dinosaurs at anytime coexist with mammals?"

"Senator Obama, please finish the following sentence: 'My grandmother is so white...'"

"Senator McCain, if the bases are loaded with Obama on third, would you bean Clinton anyway?"

"Senator Clinton, If I lob softballs, would you consider me for Ambassador of the Sexy?"

"Senator Obama, how would *you* accessorize Senator Clinton's pantsuit? Remember, she's a Spring."

"Congressman Paul, how is your wife doing with that fish-sticks business of hers?"

"Let's say you win the presidency, Senator Clinton, and decide to redecorate the Lincoln Bedroom. Does the carpet match the drapes? (heh heh)"

"Senator McCain, wouldn't your inability to raise your arms over your head compromise your presidential responsibilities when it comes to photo-ops at the YMCA?"

and the Number 1 Pointless Presidential Debate Question...

"Senator Obama, where were you on the night Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered?"

Heil The Pope!

People change.


Doubt Benedict's an exception....

During his recent visit to the U.S., Pope Benedict's crusade against child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy garnered much approving ink. The Washington Post (4/21/08) credited him with "directly confront[ing] the clergy sex-abuse crisis," while the New York Times 4/19/08) said he "has persistently addressed the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests." In all, hundreds of stories were published on the subject.

But has Benedict "persistently addressed" the scandal? Not according to London's Observer newspaper. The Observer reported (8/17/03, 4/24/05) that in 2001, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sent a confidential letter to church bishops invoking a 1962 doctrine threatening automatic excommunication for any Catholic official who discussed abuse cases outside the church's legal system. At the time, Ratzinger headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office responsible for investigating abuse claims.

In 1994, according to sources quoted by the Observer, Ratzinger personally dismissed charges of sex abuse against Father Marcial Maciel, the head of an influential conservative seminary in Mexico, and a personal confidant to then-Pope John Paul II. Maciel was accused of abusing several children over decades. According to the paper, Ratzinger dismissed the case, telling a reporter at the time, "One can't put on trial such a close friend of the pope."

In 2006, Benedict asked the 86-year-old Maciel to retire, following a new investigation that began shortly before Ratzinger ascended to the papacy. Citing speculation about why Ratzinger reopened the Maciel case, the Observer (8/24/05) reported:
"His reasons for revisiting the case, though, remain unclear. One theory is that Ratzinger learned that confidential evidence will soon spill into the public domain and that he has decided to act ahead of this. Others suggest that he initiated the investigation for political reasons, to help boost his chances of being elected pope."
In the years immediately before he became pope, Ratzinger dismissed media coverage of the abuse scandal as anti-church bigotry (Zenit, 12/3/02), saying, "I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign." His reputation on the issue was so well known that it prompted media speculation that, as pope, Ratzinger would not distinguish himself on the abuse issue. As the Los Angeles Times editorialized (5/26/05) shortly after Ratzinger was elected pope:
"The new pope is unlikely to bring more transparency to the issue. Three years ago, he said the whole scandal was a 'planned campaign' by the news media to discredit the church. All the more reason why detailed disclosure is necessary, and why it may be up to local church leaders -- and the local church faithful -- to make it happen."
If the entire scandal was simply an organized media campaign to hurt the church, the media conspiracy was certainly falling down on the job during April's papal visit. Though these stories have all been reported in one form or another in the U.S. press, during a papal visit that featured a crusade against child sex abuse as a major theme, the information was virtually impossible to find in reporting about Benedict's new crusade.

Which suggests, contrary to Cardinal Ratzinger's claim, that journalists would sooner make use of the memory hole than publish accurate information that might embarrass the pope or his church.

Votes May Actually Accurately Count In New Jersey -- Some Day

In a decision issued last week, superior court judge Linda R. Feinberg ruled that a technical review of voting machines used in New Jersey may proceed despite the objections of the manufacturer, Sequoia Voting Systems.

Serious problems emerged in five counties where Sequoia voting machines were used during the New Jersey presidential primaries. Audits conducted by election officials revealed that the electronic tallies didn't match the total counts from the paper trail generated by the machines. Sequoia attributes the problem to operator error and argued that it isn't indicative of a technical malfunction.

In response to that glitch and other irregularities, election officials from Union County decided decided to subject the voting machines to an independent review. They went to Ed Felten, a voting machine security expert who serves as the director of Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy. Although preliminary evidence from the audit indicated the potential presence of some serious malfunctions, Union County decided not to go forward with the review after receiving legal threats from Sequoia. The voting machine company claimed that an unauthorized third-party review would violate the county's license agreement. Sequoia also argued that unauthorized examinations expose the its proprietary trade secrets to public disclosure and threaten its intellectual property rights.

Judge Feinberg, who is tasked with evaluating whether or not the machines should be scrapped and taken out of active use in New Jersey, ruled that the independent review requested by voting rights advocates can go forward, but must be conducted in a manner that protects Sequoia's trade secrets. A protective order will be drafted that specifies limits on public disclosures of sensitive information. The judge also decided that the review will be conducted on two machines—one that exhibited problems and one that did not—from Bergen County. Sequoia is satisfied with the ruling and will cooperate with the review. "We believe this result protects both the public's interest and Sequoia's legitimate rights in its intellectual property and trade secrets," a Sequoia spokesperson told the Associated Press.

The trial is set to begin in September, which means that the court will not reach its decision about the reliability of the machines in time to stop them from being used in the November elections. Widespread use of the machines could still be blocked if New Jersey's Governor or Secretary of State decide to take action.

Red Team testing of Sequoia's voting machines conducted by researchers in California revealed a number of extreme security flaws and vulnerabilities. Testers were able to manipulate election data with a trojan horse that was surreptitiously loaded onto the machines. The election data cards were easy to modify because the checksums used by the machines to validate the authenticity of the cards is stored on the cards themselves.

Judge Feinberg's ruling is welcomed by voting rights advocates who have argued that third-party review is needed to ensure that the election process is fair and transparent. Our previous analysis of voting machine security issues show that the technology is ripe for abuse. A thorough review conducted by the experts at Princeton could help to resolve some of the unanswered questions about the irregularities that occurred during the primaries, but won't do much to help New Jersey voters in the upcoming presidential election.


Truly, Beloved Leader and the rest of Our Leaders have brought us* the Golden Age. (*By "us", I mean of course the top .001% of the population of our nation and a few foreigners as well.)

My low-price gas station 29 April 2008:

Father Of The Year

Gotta give the Islamofascists some credit. It's a pretty debased society where a %^$#ing 15 year old apologies for posing apparently nude -- while some of here responsible adults were there letting it happen. And that the fully clothed photo of her with her dad was actually far more creepier.

And then there's this photo of a celebrity dad greasing his of-age, cosmetic-surgically-enhanced daughter's ass. Something else totally acceptable...."

The Genius, The Lying Pandering, Of Beloved Leader

Actually, his first "mistake" is the solution -- not the problem -- always seems to involve more oil as opposed to alternative fuel sources....
Moreover, Bush discussed the opening of ANWR as a shorter-term solution than biofuels or hydrogen, and said, "Somehow if you mention ANWR it means you don't care about the environment. Well, I'm hoping now people, when they say ANWR, it means you don't care about the gasoline prices that people are paying."

If people ever do use Bush's chosen formulation, I hope they change it a little to conform with reality -- I'd suggest something like, "When they say ANWR, it means you don't care about the gasoline prices that people will be paying 20 years from now." In 2004, the EIA released a report saying that if Congress were to allow drilling in ANWR that year, the oil would not actually begin flowing until 2013 and peak production would not be reached until 2025. Even then, according to the Associated Press, oil prices would be reduced by less than 50 cents a barrel (assuming oil was at about $27 a barrel -- as of this post, even after a decline, light, sweet crude for delivery in June was at $116.44 a barrel). And "even at peak production, the EIA analysis said, the United States would still have to import two-thirds of its oil, as opposed to an expected 70 percent if the refuge's oil remained off the market."

All Things Being Equal, Do Blacks Get Death Sentences Disproportionately?

Seems to be questionable.

Here's the report claiming they do; you decide.

Viddie Of The Day

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Beloved Leader, The Wit

McCain: Even Crazier Than You Fear

The proof.

The World's Greatest Healthcare System: Pay Now Or Drop Dead

When Lisa Kelly learned she had leukemia in late 2006, her doctor advised her to seek urgent care at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. But the nonprofit hospital refused to accept Mrs. Kelly's limited insurance. It asked for $105,000 in cash before it would admit her.

Sitting in the hospital's business office, Mrs. Kelly says she told M.D. Anderson's representatives that she had some money to pay for treatment, but couldn't get all the cash they asked for that day. "Are they going to send me home?" she recalls thinking. "Am I going to die?"

A growing trend in the hospital industry means cancer patients like Lisa Kelly are being asked to pay cash upfront before receiving treatment.
[more -- if you really need more -- for Fox Bidness Journal subscribers]

Some Relatively Good News

Someone making the world just a teeny bit better....

Story That You Missed Of The Day

Lacey Lauderdale, a 25-year-old cocktail waitress at the Showboat Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City, was named the winner of the 2008 Mistress USA Pageant, a competition held each year since 1954 to honor the country's most beautiful and talented other women.

The clandestine pageant took place Sunday evening in a New Jersey motel room off Exit 23, shortly after the nation's males told their wives they were going out bowling with some friends. Sixty-three mistresses—one representing each state and 14 representing Carson City, NV—competed for the coveted crown, traditionally awarded to the woman who best exemplifies the qualities of youth, sexiness, and having large breasts.

"We are proud to present Ms. Lauderdale with the grand prize of one year's rent, a basket of erotic massage oils, and this red lace undergarment, which she must try on right now," said the Mistress USA chairman, who identified himself only as "Mr. R." "Lacey, we admire you for your dedication to not getting emotionally involved with the nation, and for your willingness to do things my wife would never try in a million years. Now twirl around a little so we can get the view from the back."

The 62 losing contestants were then told to get lost.

Lauderdale became eligible to enter the Mistress USA Pageant last October, when she was crowned Miss One-Night Stand New Jersey. She joined a field of mistresses from all different backgrounds and walks of life—waitresses, secretaries, hostesses, and even bar girls. Lauderdale excelled in nearly every event, including the swimsuit competition, the evening-wear- removal competition, and giving hand jobs.

She also received the high score from judges Adam Carolla, 47-year-old accountant Cy Weintraub from Chicago, and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The mistresses were rated in areas such as firmness/roundness of breasts, color of hair, level of economic dependence, willingness to answer to the name "Hazel," and then their breasts again. The talent portion of the competition was phased out in 1974.

"I can't believe I went from being a cocktail waitress to being Mistress USA," Lauderdale said after the ceremony. "Dreams do come true."

While she received the highest score in pageant history, Lauderdale faltered in the Q&A portion of the competition, giving less than satisfactory answers to the hypothetical questions "How would you act if you ever ran into me and my wife at the grocery store?" and "How many times have I told you not to call the house phone?!"

Last year's Mistress USA, Tiffani Saunders of Miami, was on hand at the event to present Lauderdale with the ceremonial Mistress USA sash and cab fare home.

"I think Lacey will do a fine job as Mistress USA," said Saunders, who has been instructed to go live with her mother and raise the kid on her own. "I just hope she knows that while the job can be fun at times, it is also really, really exhausting work."

On Friday, Lauderdale embarks on a nationwide tour, during which she will meet with admiring men from around the country in roadside hotels, shopping-mall bathrooms, and other discreet locations. Historically, the main duties of Mistress USA have included standing there and looking pretty, not giving American males a hard time, light clerical work, and keeping her damn mouth shut.

Though most men claimed they "could not wait" to meet Mistress USA, some were disappointed with the decision.

"I would have preferred Mistress Missouri, just because she's a little bit closer," said a Missouri husband and father of two who wished to remain anonymous. "But honestly, I'm just excited about the possibility of having sex with someone who is not my wife."

He added: "After all, that's what this competition is all about."

Just two days after being awarded the title, however, Lauderdale's Cinderella story was mired in controversy when the New York Post revealed that the new Mistress USA had never worked as a stripper.