Saturday, April 30, 2005


All the Justice You Can Afford

Interesting how so many people that annoyed this guy keep winding up dead, yet the police can't manage to find the true killer.
Cops Want to Test Durst's Gun

The Associated Press
Saturday, April 30, 2005; 1:55 PM

GALVESTON, Texas -- Police investigating a Los Angeles murder want to examine a gun belonging to millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, who was acquitted of killing a Galveston man whose body he admitting cutting up.

Galveston County prosecutors filed a motion Friday seeking to release two guns belonging to Durst to authorities investigating the death of writer Susan Berman, a friend of Durst's missing first wife.
Maybe OJ can help investigate the matter of Mr. Durst's missing first wife and her murdered friend?

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Bush League Increases Deficits

I'm sure the financial markets and the various central banks are going to love this:
The budget also makes way for $106 billion in tax cuts over five years, about what Bush had requested. Of that, $70 billion would be shielded from a Senate filibuster, enough to ensure that all expiring tax cuts can be extended, including the 2003 cuts to capital gains and dividend tax rates.

The cost of those tax-cut extensions would more than nullify the savings from the spending cuts, allowing Democrats to charge that the budget agreement actually leaves the federal deficit worse than it would be without a deal.

"If you like debt, you've got to love this budget, because it builds a wall of debt," said Kent Conrad (N.D.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee.
(Source: Washington Post Congress Reaches Budget Deal April 28, 2005 [Emphasis added])
More tax cuts - bigger deficits - promised cuts to highly popular programs that almost certainly won't happen ... reality sure took a pounding on this one. On the other hand, they really should have waited until Friday afternoon for this one so Reality wouldn't be able to hit the markets for a day or so.


Bush League Silences Another Critic

When dog bites man, or Bush League suppresses inconvenient news, it doesn't get much press in the US. The BBC reports:
The former United Nations human rights envoy to Afghanistan, Cherif Bassiouni, has said he lost his job because of pressure from the United States.

Prof Bassiouni alleged there was an intensive lobbying campaign by US officials in Geneva.

"It has nothing to do with the work in Afghanistan or the situation in Afghanistan," he said.

"This is a very narrow, limited issue that is of concern to the US Defence Department and the hawks in the administration who simply do not want anybody to look into the way people are being detained in Afghanistan by US forces."
(Source: BBC News Ex-Afghan rights chief attacks US April 27, 2005)
The New York Times mentioned it, too:
U.N. Monitor of Afghan Rights Accuses U.S. on Detentions

Published: April 23, 2005

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 22 - A United Nations human rights monitor has accused American military forces and contractors in Afghanistan of acting above the law "by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions and committing abusive practices, including torture." In a report released Thursday, the Afghan police and security forces were also criticized for similar actions.
Ongoing torture by US forces, massive human rights abuses, officials obstructing investigations - why do we waste time with such trivia when we could be watching 24/7 Michael Jackson trial coverage - or listening to W explain how we can cut our dependence on foreign oil by building more refineries to process foreign oil into SUV fuel.


Ahmed Chalabi Returns to Government

One of the new Iraqi Government's new officials is former Bush League advisor Ahmed Chalabi. Famed for passing along "precise" information on Iraq's Virtual WMDs, and later for allegedly spying for Iran, the BBC reports on a remarkable comeback:
...Mr Chalabi will act as oil minister.

Mr Chalabi will also take one of the deputy prime minister's posts.
(Source: BBC News Iraqi MPs approve partial cabinet
Amazing what an American-issued arrest warrant will do for an Iraqi politician's career, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Staying the Course

I found this Hoover Institute document while searching for a primary source for Donald Rumsfeld's infamous "Democracy is Messy" statement:
IRAQ:Staying the Course
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld alluded to these critics in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on May 27. The problems in any transition from tyranny to a free and civil society are very real, he noted. They include looting, crime, mobs storming government buildings, the breakdown of government institutions, rampant inflation caused by the lack of a stable currency, and supporters of the former regime roaming the streets and countryside.
Ironically, for many of the same reasons that compel the French to prefer dictators, the CIA and the Near East bureau of the State Department have been undermining the emergence of representative government in post-war Iraq by bad-mouthing the only group that could possibly imprint Western values onto Iraqi society, the Iraqi National Congress. In this effort they have been joined by the foreign news editors of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, though not their editorial pages.
As the liberators of Iraq and the Iraqi people, the United States and Great Britain have responsibilities. Foremost among them is to make the peace succeed and to help Iraqis build a new form of representative government. But to do so, we must stay the course charted by the president and empower the leadership council of the Iraqi Interim Authority as it restores order, restores confidence, and prepares the way for the creation of new representative institutions in Iraq...
(Source: Hoover Digest 2003 - No. 3 - Summer Edition)
Wow - this whole mess was caused by folks bad-mouthing Ahmed Chalabi and the widely respected Iraqi national Congress. Fortunately, we did follow W's plan, expertly carried out by his Bush League minions, and today Iraq is a peaceful, thriving democracy:
Iraqi woman MP killed in Baghdad
Police said gunmen knocked at her door and shot her when she answered.

The attack came as the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Gen Richard Myers, warned that Iraqi militants remain as strong as a year ago.
(Source: BBC News)
But at least the reconstruction effort went well without interference from those treacherous French types:
Iraq blighted by poor services
By Caroline Hawley
BBC News, Baghdad
Two years since the fall of Baghdad, there is deep frustration among Iraqis at the state of public services.

There are continuing power cuts in much of the country and hospitals struggle to provide adequate treatment.

Sewage often pours untreated into rivers which many Iraqis have to drink from.
Statistics are hard to come by, but one official told the BBC that more than one in 10 babies born here will die before they are five.
(Source: BBC News)
Iraq must have a democracy - drinking sewage-contaminated water is pretty messed up. However, I'm sure the rest of the Mid East hopes they can get to live with car bombs, no public services, and a 10% child mortality rate, too.


Maureen Dowd on "UNleashing" Bolton on UN

Here's a taste:
U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton
... Who doesn't want to see Old Yeller chasing the Syrian ambassador down the hall, throwing a stapler at his head and biting at his ankles?

Who doesn't want to see him foaming at the mouth - yes, it will be hard to tell - at the Cuban delegate over Castro's imaginary W.M.D.?
Even if his suave statesmanship were not so perfectly suited to high-level diplomacy, Mr. Bolton should still get the job. A ruthless ogre who tried to fire intelligence analysts who disagreed with his attempts to stretch the truth on foreign weapons programs deserves to be rewarded as other Bush officials have been.

After all, he was in sync with the approach of Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Bob Joseph - who were all up for big jobs after they torqued up intelligence to fit the White House's theological beliefs.
Go read the whole thing - biting humor about a real knee-biter.


Fallout from Cheney's last visit to Germany???

How else can one explain this:
Mystery of German exploding toads
Toads in an area of northern Germany are being killed off by a mysterious disease - they are exploding.

Thousands of the amphibians have died in recent days in a pond in Hamburg's Altona district, with their bodies swelling to bursting point.

The toads' entrails are propelled for up to a metre (3.2ft), in scenes that have been likened to science fiction.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Freedom of Speech - Nice While it Lasted

We may well be seeing the beginning of the end of true free speech in this country. Although guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, people advocating unpopular positions could always be imprisoned for something.

In one famous case during World War I, a man got 10 years in prison for telling a crowd the US Government wasn't doing enough for the widows and children of servicemen killed in France. (Incitement to disobey the draft laws.) This guy wasn't talking to a bunch of guys standing in front of their local draft board - he was making a political speech opposing the war.

Cut to the present time:
Islamic Scholar Ali Al-Timimi Convicted

Published: April 26, 2005

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A prominent Islamic scholar was convicted Tuesday of 10 counts alleging he encouraged followers in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Taliban and fight the United States.
The case against al-Timimi was closely linked to the earlier prosecution of 11 men who were allegedly part of a ''Virginia jihad network'' -- a group of men who played paintball games in 2000 and 2001 in the woods of northern Virginia, allegedly as a means of training for holy war around the globe. Nine men were convicted and received prison sentences ranging from three years to life.

The foundation of the charges against al-Timimi was a Sept. 16, 2001, meeting in which he offered an apocalyptic interpretation of the Sept. 11 attacks, which he said heralded the final battle between Muslims and nonbelievers. He said Muslims were obligated to defend Afghanistan's ruling Taliban regime, prosecutors said.
(Source: New York Times)
If urging others to join the Taliban is a criminal offense, what about recruiting for the various survivalist and white power groups? For that matter, how about arresting Tom DeLay and the various Radical KK-Kristian groups for encouraging followers to commit crimes against federal judges?

Monday, April 25, 2005


Jon Carroll Rocks!

Go read Jon Carroll's column:
Memo to wingnuts: The pharmacists who want "freedom of conscience" to refuse to fill legal prescriptions for women seeking contraceptive devices are no different from the diner owners who wanted "freedom of conscience" not to serve blacks.

This decade seems to be all about licensing bigotry and calling it conscience. It's an old argument, but it still has resonance: If men could take a morning-after pill, there would be no "freedom of conscience" issues. If I pop a Viagra and accidentally inseminate a woman, who gets the blame?

Hint: Not me.
Read the whole column - great stuff.


Soldiers Cleared in Shooting of Italian Agent

After a careful investigation, the US Army today concluded they were not to blame for this tragic death:
US troops cleared over shooting
...A US army official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Italian and US authorities still disagree over the speed at which the vehicle approached the checkpoint and how much communication there was between those in the car and the checkpoint guards.

Unfortunately, the credibility of official Pentagon investigations has dropped recently. Case in point:
Top brass cleared over Iraq abuse
...A new inquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing by Gen Sanchez and three of his top aides, US officials say.

The US army inspector general's report says only Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, commander at the jail, has been found guilty and reprimanded over the abuse.
Human rights groups have criticised the latest findings, full details of which are to be made public after members of the US Congress are briefed.

"What this decision unfortunately continues is a pattern of exoneration and indeed promotion for many of the individuals at the heart of the torture scandal," said Amnesty International spokesman Alistair Hodgett.

"It only serves to underscore the desperate need for an independent investigation that will scrutinize the policy decisions and the individuals who made and implemented them in a manner that will expose the truth," Mr Hodgett told Reuters news agency.

The ACLU's lawsuit opened up a treasure trove of information surrounding the torture scandals. Maybe they'll shed some light on the Italian intelligence officer's death as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Reality vs. The Bush League: Social Security

Looks as though The Bush League is getting ready to write the Charles Keating Memorial Social Security Reformation Plan:
But those same polls show support for a Social Security proposal tied to the president's name slipping to new lows. A memo released Friday by Democratic strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville cited backing for the Bush proposal at 34 percent. "Support for the president's Social Security initiative has collapsed," the memo said. Last week's stock-market roller-coaster ride has only heightened fears about allowing workers to convert some of their traditional Social Security benefits to investment returns from stocks and bonds, Democrats say.

Such numbers have not spooked Bush. After a White House meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, the president took Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) aside to tell him how well his "60 stops in 60 days" tour is going, Rangel recalled. Then Bush warned that voters would punish members of Congress in 2006 if they failed to act on Social Security's long-term problems.
Source: Washington Post Panel to Start Writing Social Security Bill
It sounds like The Bush League's handlers are doing a great job keeping reality away from Fearless Leader if he's making threats about how voters love his plan.

Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings tricked retired folks into moving their savings from government-insured accounts to high-yield high-risk investments. When Lincoln Savings collapsed, the only thing those folks had left was their Social Security checks. W and his Bush League minions seem determined to destroy that last safety net.

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