November 2005 Archives

November 30, 2005

Washington's Corruption Scandals

Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz's opening paragraph In "Crooked Capital," a November 30, 2005 column on the corruption scandals unfolding in Washington, asked:

Is the recent spate of corruption cases a growing problem for the Republicans, or is that just Democratic spin?
He named several Republican congressmen and lobbyists embroiled in scandal but concluded that, "Of course, the Democrats don't have totally clean hands."

He's right. But it so happens that most of those currently caught up in high profile cases are members of the ruling GOP.

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Is Schwarzenegger Letting His Administration be Run by Insiders?

The Orange County (California) Register is pissed off that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has chosen a democrat, Susan Kennedy, as his new chief of staff. She starts the job in January 2006. Here's what the Register said, in part, in a November 30 editorial:

Didn't California voters recall Gov. Gray Davis from office two years ago, indicating they didn't like his policies and the direction he was taking the state? And didn't Arnold Schwarzenegger win the replacement election on a platform of radical change? As he said in August 2003 when he announced his candidacy, "i'm the most unique candidate because i'm an outsider."

But yesterday Gov. Schwarzenegger took an action that signals he, too, is becoming mired in the status-quo muck of state government. He appointed as his new chief of staff Democrat Susan Kennedy, who was a Cabinet secretary for Gov. Davis. She replaces Pat Clarey, who once had been a deputy chief of staff to Republican Gov. Pete Wilson.

The Register said, "For an "outsider," Governor Schwarzenegger has allowed his administration be run by insiders."

For more of the editorial, see "Another Kennedy in Sacramento." Here's the Schwarzenegger press release on the appointment.

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November 29, 2005

Anxious Congressional Delegations

Sun-Sentinel.Com of Fort Lauderdale, Florida says "Back home, Florida's congressional delegation finds pressure to end Iraq war."

I suspect congressional delegations from every state in the union are feeling the heat about the war. With some congressional seats up for grabs in 2006, I can imagine mounting anxiety in those congressional districts.

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Democrats, Republicans Are Alike in Quest for Power

Captain Toke over at RedState.org: "I guess Democrats will say and/or do anything to regain power, with a little help from their friends(in the media), even lose a war."

So would the Republicans. There is no difference between the parties in their quest to grab and/or maintain power. See the Captain's "Parallels Between Tax Cuts and War" for his entire argument.

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The Credibility of the President

Former Nixon White House communications director Herbert G. Klein, retired editor in chief of Copley Newspapers and currently a national fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, argues in a November 29, 2005 Washington Times column headlined "Credibility clouds":

Bitterness in the congressional debate over U.S. policies in Iraq has become a danger to this country and to its position of world leadership. The nation's credibility is at stake as is the credibility of the president.
As the old saying goes, "it didn't have to be this way." All the administration had to do was tell the truth about Iraq. Then the tone of the argument would be different.

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Cal Thomas: 'Who is lying about Iraq?'

Cal Thomas, a contributing columnist for the conservative Townhall.com, says "The Bush administration is partly responsible for declining poll numbers and the growing public disapproval of the war in Iraq." See "Who is lying about Iraq?" for more.

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"Duke" Cunningham is Not the Only Crook in Congress

I suspect there are other crooked U.S. congressmen and women besides eight-term Republican Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, who resigned November 28, 2005 after pleading guilty to bribery. According to his 33-page plea, he took bribes from crooked defense contractors "in exchange for government business and other favors," according to the AP.

Other inluence peddling and bribery investigations are underway.

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November 28, 2005

President Bush and Border Control

The Christian Science Monitor contends in an editorial in its November 29, 2005 edition that, "Republicans in Congress who are up for reelection in 2006 are feeling the heat from their GOP base to crack down on illegal migration. Many of them want President Bush to assist them by beefing up border security," the publication said, adding: "Try as he might, that's not his first choice." The Monitor tells why.

I wonder what the political consequences will be for Republicans if the president doesn't crack down in a way satisfactory to their constituents. He discusses his plan here.

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Should Karl Rove be Worried?

Raw Story's Jason Leopold and Larisa Alexandrovna, citing "attorneys close to the investigation," reported November 28, 2005 that, "Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will present evidence to a second grand jury this week in his two year-old investigation into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson that could lead to a criminal indictment being handed up against Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff."

If true, the hits just keep on coming for the Bush Administration. For more, please see "Testimony from Rove's former assistant may solidify case that he misled leak inquiry, lawyers say."

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November 27, 2005

Has Bush Lost Control of the Debate on Iraq?

Dick Polman at Knight Ridder Newspapers thinks "President Bush has lost control of the debate over the future of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. There was a time when most Americans accepted his argument that we should "stay the course," but there is no broad support for that stance anymore," he contends in a November 27, 2005 analysis.

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Would a Vocabulary Quiz using 'Conservative' Jargon Get Attention?

The lead on one Associated Press article on English and social studies teacher Bret Chenkin, who caused a stir in Bennington, Vermont, when he created a vocabulary quiz using President George W. Bush as subject matter, went like this:

The school superintendent whose district includes Mount Anthony Union High School has labeled "inappropriate" and "irresponsible" an English teacher's use of liberal statements in a vocabulary quiz.
Would it have been ok if the quiz contained conservative statements? Just asklng.

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The Politics Behind the Iraq Prewar Debate

David Westphal, the Sacramento Bee's Washington Bureau Chief, says in a November 27, 2005 article that:

The issue of why Bush chose war is once again front-and- center, with war critics suggesting the administration may have exaggerated prewar claims of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction arsenal, and Bush defenders branding the detractors as historical revisionists.

Even as they scrap over the weapons issue, both sides suggest other factors may have been in the mix.

Westphal presents the views of a number of prominent citizens on the administration's rationale for going to war. Their comments suggests that the debate on the issue among the elites is widening. Hopefully, more voices from the grassroots will soon be heard whether they are for troops remaining in Iraq or coming home immediately.

For more, please see "Behind Iraq prewar debate."

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Today's Meet the Press

Senator John Warner, Senator Joe Biden, The Washington Post's David Broder, NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory, The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and Judy Woodruff were Tim Russert's guest today on NBC's Meet the Press.

I usually don't watch these constantly recycled talking heads but I did today. I was particularly interested in the senators' views on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, something I think should be done immediately. Let the Iraqis deal with the civil war underway there despite the fact that the Bush Administration created the current, deadly situation with its unprovoked invasion of the sovereign nation. By the way, I have a niece in Iraq.

Here's the transcript of today's session.

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Has Cheny's Attacks on Democrats Helped Bush?

Chris Cillizza and Peter Slevin have an item in today's Washington Post that says:

Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney's suggestion that criticism of the administration's war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney's point.
Questions: How is debate on the Iraq war a hindrance to a soldier's ability to fire a gun? As for winning the war, that's not going to happen.

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Washington Influence-Peddling Inquiry Broadens

The Wall Street Journal says "Investigators want to know whether" Lobbyist Jack Abramoff "and his lobbying firm partners made illegal payoffs to lawmakers and aides in the form of campaign contributions, sports tickets, meals, travel and job offers, in exchange for helping their clients." See "Federal Influence-Peddling Inquiry Casts Wider Net."

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Alito's Alleged Deference to Religious Groups

The Christian Post reported November 26, 2005 that, "As the judicial nomination process heads toward confirmation hearings in January, information about Judge Samuel Alito's decisions on religious issues is being revealed."

"Alito's rulings tended to defer to religious organizations in cases where it appeared that the government treated such groups differently than their secular counterparts," wrote reporter Jason Davis.

That shouldn't be held against him during his confirmation hearing. Here's more.

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Cindy Sheehan: 'We Don't Hate Anybody

Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post quotes antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan as telling supporters during the November 25, 2005 "unveiling of a permanent sandstone monument in memory of her son, Casey, a soldier who was killed in Iraq in 2004":

We're not going away. We don't hate anybody. We just want people to be held accountable, and just because someone is president of the United States, it doesn't guarantee them immunity from accountability. And we're still looking for that.
Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas, President Bush's adopted hometown, November 25.

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Raleigh News & Observer: Military Towns in N.C. Still Back Iraq War

The Raleigh News & Observer says military towns in N.C. still back the Iraq war. That shouldn't be a surprise. The interesting story would be if they didn't.

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November 26, 2005

John Murtha is Nobody's 'Bitch'

Has Pennsylvania Representative John Murtha, a Korean war and Vietnam war Veteran, "become the Democrat's "bitch" in a strategy that has seen him aiding and abetting the terrorists" in Iraq?

A columnist at CanadaFreePress.com named Klaus Rohrich says he has. I say Murtha is nobody's.

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'Bush Isn't Racist But He'll Cozy Up to Them for Political Gain'

Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says

There is nothing in his record that suggests [President George W. ] Bush is racist. But he doesn't mind cozying up to racists if they offer political advantage. That's the president's greatest failing: He always chooses dividing the nation if he can plot a path to victory through the wreckage.
It's an old strategy that politicians, especially some of those from the south, have employed ever since racial politics became the norm in America, with the introduction of slavery. Contrary to opinion in some quarters, it didn't start with the late Harvey Leroy "Lee" Atwater.

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The Contrast Between Lewis Libby and Judge Reggie Walton

Associated Press writer Peter Yost's widely published profile of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton shows a man who, by his own admission, was once a gun and razor toting teenager. The judge is presiding over the case of "criminal defendant I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted October 28, 2005 by the Federal grand jury looking into who in the Bush Administration blew the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame by leaking her name to journalists.

She was exposed to punish her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson for exposing the administration's false claim that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The lie was used to justify invading Iraq.

According to Yost, the judge, an African-American, "grew up on the rough streets of a Pennsylvania steel town, far from his courtroom in downtown Washington where the Bush administration may be called to account in the Valerie Plame affair."

At one point in his youth, the judge was on criminal path.

"As a teenager," Yost writes, "Walton occasionally packed a gun and a straight razor and was arrested three times, he recently told an audience of young men at a juvenile detention facility outside Washington." See "Judge Comes From Rough-And-Tumble Roots."

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November 23, 2005

Newsweek: Padilla May Be Held Even If He's Acquitted

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball posted an article tonight on political prisoner Jose Padilla that is downright scary in its implications. They wrote:

The Bush administration, determined not to yield any ground on the constitutional issues in the case of Jose Padilla , has indicated it may still hold the accused enemy combatant indefinitely even if he is acquitted of the terrorist conspiracy charges he was indicted on this week.
If this is true, every American, even those red-blooded Republicans who think our president can do no wrong, had better start worrying and work to put a stop to the administration's troublesome, un-American activities. It's bad enough that Padilla, an American citizen, was held for three years without trial in a military brig in Hanahan, South Carolina, under orders from President George W. Bush. Bush labelled him an enemy combatant and not eligible for protection under the Geneva convention.

Interestingly, Padilla, a Muslim of Puerto Rican descent, was indicted November 22, 2005 on for "providing - and conspiring to provide - material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder individuals who are overseas."

This is not the charge for which he was originally arrested on May 8, 2005, as he returned to the U.S. from the Middle East through Chicago's O'Hare Airport. We were told he was arrested to prevent him for setting off a dirty bomb. Was that a lie? Is the Padilla case like the administration's weapons of mass destruction claim? All lies. My guess is that it is. However, because the administration is so secret, we may not know for quite sometime. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Padilla's trial is held in secret.

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November 19, 2005

Bob Woodward is Not Above Criticism

On November 19, 2005, editorial page editors at The Washington Post's reminded "readers that the editorial page operates separately from those who gather and publish news in The Post. The reminder was issued in an article headlined "Mr. Woodward's Sources." Mr. Woodward is the world reknown and controversial journalist Bob Woodward. He gained international acclaim when he and former Post reporter Carl Bernstein doggedly pursued what Nixon White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler called a "Third-rate burglary" at Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and apartment complex. Their investigation exposed the Watergate scandal and eventually led to the resignation of the late President Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974.

Woodward has gained unprecedented power, acclaim and wealth for a journalist since the heady days of Watergate. He is to journalism what Michael Jordan is to professional basketball. Sure, he has had controversy along the way. For example, he is frequently criticized for never reaching conclusions in his books on powerful figures or offering criticism.

He is also known for withholding contemporary information for his books instead of publishing it in The Post. That's part of the controversy surrounding him now. As Post reporter Howard Kurtz wrote November 17, 2005:

Bob Woodward apologized to The Washington Post yesterday for failing to reveal for more than two years that a senior Bush administration official had told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame, even as an investigation of who disclosed her identity mushroomed into a national scandal.
Woodward had never been subpoenaed in a Grand Jury investigation until he became ensnared in the CIA leak investigation, sometimes called the "Plame Affair," being conducted by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It was in that context that Post editorial writers declared that "the Woodward flap has significance beyond The Post's newsroom." The editorial noted that:
The longtime Post reporter disclosed this week that, while conducting research for a book, he received information from an administration official about Ms. Plame before her identity was revealed by Robert D. Novak in a July 2003 column. That information was potentially relevant to [Special Prosecutor Peter] Fitzgerald's investigation and to a news story that has been extensively covered in this and other papers. Mr. Woodward said he told one Post reporter at the time what he had learned but did not disclose the source. Mr. Woodward recently testified to the prosecutor, with the source's permission and after the source had spoken with Mr. Fitzgerald, but still (again according to his agreement) has not publicly identified the source.
The editorial acknowledged that, "Much of the public finds the media's extensive use of confidential sources objectionable, and understandably so. Their use should be as limited as possible. When they are relied upon, reporters should impart as much information as possible about the sources' motives. Those guidelines are accepted but too often ignored by the press."

"But over the years," the editorial continues,

innumerable cases of official corruption and malfeasance have come to light thanks to sources being able to count on confidentiality. It's astonishing to see so many people -- especially in the journalism establishment -- forget that now. Many of those who condemn Mr. Woodward applauded when The Post recently revealed the existence of CIA prisons around the world, a story that relied on unnamed sources.
I hope Post editorial writers are not trying to convince us that Woodward is above reproach just because The Post "recently revealed the existence of CIA prisons around the world," or because he and Bernstein broke the Watergate story story over 30 years ago. That would be like saying a person shouldn't be prosecuted for a crime because he or she had never committed one before the one he or she is now charged with.

Woodward's accomplishments are undeniable. He rose above traditional journalism years ago. His forte these days is books In fact, he is sometimes called a stenographer for the powerful in government instead of a journalist although he wears the title of assistant managing editor.

Finally, I doubt the public would eschew the use of anonymous sources in some instances. The opposition is to someone such as Woodward and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller allowing powerful source who may have committed a crime for political reasons to remain anonymous under the rubric of protecting sources. The anonymous source should be the starting point not the primary basis for an article.

Editor's Note: This article is cross posted at The Curious Spectator and The Online Free Press .

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November 16, 2005

Fitzgerald Deposes Bob Woodward in CIA Leak Investigation

"Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday, November 14, 2005, "in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed," reports Washington Post staff writers Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig in the November 16, 2005 edition of The Post.

I would love to read the transcript of that deposition. Woodward is perhaps the ultimate journalistic insider in Washington. It seems that he may have been the first reporter a Bush Administration official told about Valerie Plame's CIA status.

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November 15, 2005

Are Republican Senators Turning Against Iraq War?

Washington Post staff writer Dan Balz takes a look at the dwindling political fortunes of the Bush Administration in a November 16, 2005 article headlined "Tide Turning in GOP Senators' War View."

Mr. Balz noted that,

For the past three years, President Bush has set the course on U.S. policy in Iraq, and Republicans in Congress -- and many Democrats, too -- have dutifully followed his lead. Yesterday the Senate, responding to growing public frustration with the administration's war policy, signaled that those days are coming to an end.
He said, "The rebuff to the White House was muffled in the modulated language of a bipartisan amendment, but the message could not have been more clear. With their constituents increasingly unhappy with the U.S. mission in Iraq, Democrats and now Republicans are demanding that the administration show that it has a strategy to turn the conflict over to the Iraqis and eventually bring U.S. troops home."

I wonder whether the turning tide is based on the political reality that the 2006 midterm elections are less than a year away, and that U.S. citizens are increasingly turning against the Iraq War. The turning tide boys and girls are the same politicians who didn't have the courage to challenge the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq in 2003. I think many voters will remember that.

Editor's Note: This article is posted at The National Political Observer and The Diplomatic Times Review.

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Andrew Sullivan Hooks Up With Time.Com

Kudos to Andrew Sullivan, the Englishman who has made a name for himself blogging on this side of the pond. On November 14 he announced:

I'm glad to say that in the near future, this blog [The Daily Dish] will have a new home. We're moving to Time.com's home-page and will be hosted by their server.
I don't blame Andrew for taking advantage of this opportunity. Despite the money he'll make, he swears he will maintain editorial control. That means no Times editor with touch his posts, which I always find informative. That will change if he buys into the Times corporate mantra.

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Death Toll From Katrina Escalates

As USA TODAY notes, "When Louisiana ended its door-to-door search October 3," 2005, "the number of Katrina-related deaths there stood at 972. This week," the publication reports, "the total reached 1,076, according to the state Department of Health and Hospitals."

USA TODAY said, " In neighboring Mississippi, where much of the damage was in rural areas and was more obvious from the start, the death toll stands at 230, up nine since October 3."

Question: If searchers in New Orleans went door-to-door looking for survivors and victims of Katrina, why did they miss so many people? Just asking.

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November 14, 2005

Come on, Senator. It Will be Business as Usual.

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on the November 13, 2005 edition of "Fox News Sunday, "I think a lot of us would really stop and think a moment before we would ever vote for war or to go and take military action."

"We don't accept this intelligence at face value anymore," he added. "We get into preemptive oversight and do digging in regards to our hard targets," he added.

Come on, Senator. It will be business as usual. Especially if the Administration in power threatens to label our senators and representatives as unpatriotic. It has worked before.

Here's a Fox News Sunday transcript of the November 12 appearance of Senator Roberts and Senator Jay Rockefeller on 'Fox News Sunday. Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, is Vice-Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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Senate Debate About Run-up to Iraq War Should Be Televised

Philip Dine of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Washington Bureau reported November 12, 2005 that:

Partisan wrangling over how the Senate should investigate the administration's use of prewar intelligence about Iraq is about far more than politics - it reflects major differences over the evidence itself.
"As a result," he added, "any effort to objectively examine whether the White House misled the country into war faces huge hurdles, even once the political maneuvering is completed."

I think there should be nationally televised hearings on the issue.

For more of Dine's analysis, see "Inquiry reopening debate about run-up to war."

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November 13, 2005

A Transcript of Saijida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi's Confession

CNN has a Transcript of the televised "Confession" of Saijida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, an Iraqi national, who "accompanied" her husband to Jordan last week on a suicide mission. The goal: blow up three hotels in Amman. Three teams of bombers succeeded, killing fifty-seven and injuring dozens. Sadjida survived because her belt failed detonate. Her husband, who entered Jordan using the name Ali Hussein Ali, told her to runaway just before he detonated his explosives.

As I watched Saijida, I wondered how many more like her will be sent to various capitals in the Middle East. Any Middle East leader collaborating with the U.S. in Iraq has to be worried.

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November 12, 2005

Reid Collins on 'The Vagina Dialogue'

Former CBS and CNN news correspondent Reid Collins published an article in the November 11, 2005 online edition of The American Spectator headlined "The Vagina Dialogue." It's about former New York Times Reporter Judith Miller and her alleged, to used Times columnist Maureen Dowd's words, "tropism toward powerful men..."

It's an interesting look at the subtext of the outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame by someone in the Bush Administration, and Miller's relationship with I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted on October 28, 2005. He was charged with perjury and lying in the investigation of the CIA leak case.

Collins' perspective suggests, and I concur, that had a man been in Miller's position, there would have been no speculation about whether he was getting information because he was screwing the source and, consequently, allowing himself to be used because of his emotional entanglement with a powerful individual whose agenda was to influence foreign policy.

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November 11, 2005

Bush Revisits Karl Rove's Campaign Playbook

The Associated Press' Ron Fournier says, "President Bush seems to be turning the clock back to Election Day 2004, parrying with ex-rival John Kerry and harshly questioning his critics' commitment to U.S. troops. See "Bush Revisits Campaign Playbook."

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Mustapha Akkad: May He Rest in Peace

As The Times Online of London notes in its November 12 issue, "It emerged yesterday [November 11, 2005] that one of the 57 victims" of the Amman, Jordan, hotel bombings "was Mustapha Akkad, the producer of the Halloween horror films, and one of few Arabs to have succeeded in Hollywood."

The Times added:

Mr Akkad, 68, emigrated to America at the age of 19 but remained an Arab at heart and was often critical of the way Muslims are depicted in American movies. In Hollywood, Muslims are only terrorists, he said in a New York Times interview in 1998.

Mr Akkad was also known for producing the Oscar-nominated epic The Message: The Story of Islam and The Lion of the Desert funded by the Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Akkad's daughter Rima, 33, also died in the blast.

I am not a fan of horror films and did not see the Halloween movies. However, I did see The Message: The Story of Islam and The Lion of the Desert. My family owns both movies.

I saw Lion of the Desert in Tripoli, Libya, in the early 1980s, while there to cover an Organization of African Unity conference. It was an inspiring epic. I can remember sitting in a press room with journalist from all over the world. The fight scenes in which Omar Muktar, played by Anthony Quinn, defeated Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's troops in several battles, drew rapt attention. When they were over, the reporters went back to playing cards or whatever they were doing.

May Mustapha rest in peace and Allah forgive him of his sins and grant him paradise.

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A Dastardly Deed in Aman

The International Herald Tribune and publications around the world say Al Qaida in Mesopotamia claimed November 10, 2005 that four Iraqi suicide bombers, which purportedly included a husband and wife team, bombed the Radisson, the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn hotels in Amman, Jordan on November 8, 2005. Fifty-seven were killed and dozens were injured.

I don't know who did the bombing. But I do know that bombing a hotel that had no military value, as far as I can tell, is to be condemned.

According to reports I've read, Iraqis actually carried out the attacks. As usual, news accounts say Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, was behind it. Sometimes I wonder if the man really exists. I find it interesting that U.S. troops could find former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein--of course money helped--but they can't find al-Zarqawi. Does he really exist? Is he dead? Is he in U.S. custody? Is someone carrying out attacks in his name to create an anti-Zarqawi backlash?

Meanwhile, Jordanians have taken to the streets by the thousands to condemn the bombings. That's good. But anger will soon dissipate until the next bomb goes off. Unfortunately, there will be others. They will continue until the U.S. leaves Iraq.

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Is Bush Nearing The Desperation Point?

President George W. Bush sounds desperate as polls show his popularity steadily falling and many Americans with growing doubts about the war in Iraq. The speech he delivered November 11, 2005 in Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania commemorating Veterans Day reflects that desperation. His supporters will says he's telling it like it is. A good reading of the address reflects that he is still trying to sell some of same lies that led the nation into war in Iraq in the first place. It's time to come clean, Mr. President.

Here's a White House Transcript of his November 10 speech.

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The Attempt to Reshape the Debate on Iraq

Peter Baker of the Washington Post reported today on National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley's November 10, 2005 effort to go on the "offensive in the debate over the Iraq war. Mr. Bush's political handlers sent him to the White House briefing room to refute "the notion that somehow the administration manipulated prewar intelligence about Iraq."

Baker quotes Hadley as saying the White Houses judgment on the threat posed by Iraq "represented the collective view of the intelligence community" and was "shared by Republicans and Democrats alike." Hadley added:

Some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, they stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements exposes the hollowness of their current attacks.
Sure, Democrats and Republications went along with the war. It's fair to say most were afraid not to. After all, the Administration's litmus test for patriotism was support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Following al-Qaida's September 11, 2001 bombings in Washington, D.C. and New York, which Iraq had nothing to do with, a politician would have committed political suicide if he or she had challenged the Administration's fabrications leading up to the war. The rightwing fanatics in the Blogosphere would have hounded them relentlessly.

But no matter what cowardly Democrats did or didn't do, nothing can justify manipulating and lying to the American people just to star a war that has resulted in the death of more than 2000 U.S. troops and many thousand Iraqis. Doing so indicated that the Administration didn't trust their judgement, so it was ok to lie to them. Well, because of those lies, the chickens have begun to come home to roost. The big payback will occur during the 2006 elections.

Here's the White House Transcript of Hadley's press briefing.

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Why Pro-Bush Pundits Spin the News

Ken Bode, Pulliam professor of journalism at DePauw University in Indiana and a former senior political analyst for CNN, describes how "Pro-Bush pundits spin news" about Iraq. And they are spinning like crazy these days.That's what you do when the truth is not on your side.

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November 9, 2005

Able Danger Meets Weldon

9/11 Citizens Watch reports that Congressman Casey Weldon stormed out a hearing after accusing Lee Hamiliton of covering up for the Bush "methodist mafia". For more information about the Pentagon's top secret data mining operation that discovered the supposed 9/11 perpetrators a year before the worst attacks (least investigated) against main-land America, please google on my wayward son.

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November 8, 2005

Weapons of Mass Horror

Reuters is reporting that Italian state run TV reported that US forces used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians in a November 2004 offensive on the Iraqi town of Falluja.

White phosophorus is dispersed as a white cloud which reacts with water "melting" its victims skin according to an American GI interviewed by Randi Rhodes on Air America Radio this afternoon.

Back in July, the Guardian published a story which gives credence to today's Reuter's story.

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November 7, 2005

Blanco Asks State Legislators to Help Louisiana Recover

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported today that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco on Sunday evening, November 6, 2005, "asked state lawmakers at the Capitol for their help in supporting her storm-recovery programs and slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget." She spoke at "the first legislative session since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana" the Times-Picayune noted.

There will be a lot of resistance to Blanco's recovery plan. Read more here.

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Washington Post: Cheney Isolated On Torture

"Over the past year," according to Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and Robin Wright, " Vice President Dick Cheney has found himself increasingly isolated as he wages an intense, largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictions on the handling of terrorist suspects, officials said."

"Handling" should be interpreted to mean torturing. See "Cheney Isolated On Torture" for Priest and Wright's entire analysis.

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Intellectual Inbreeding

Matthew Towery, chairman and CEO of InsiderAdvantage.com, contends in a November 7, 2005 Christian Science Monitor report that:

America's pillars of power - be they political, financial, or other influential players - have become so insular with intellectual inbreeding and self-promotion as to leave us wondering if fiction works "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland," "1984," and "All The King's Men" have all leaped from the written page and fused into a new and twisted reality. It's a plot that features thought control, falsehood represented as truth, and the elite's belief that "even when we lie, it's really for America's own good.
He said,"Along the same lines, political leaders political leaders often pose as being in touch with the electorate when they are anything but. Take, for example, the group of manipulative public-image handlers who landed President Bush on an aircraft carrier in that silly "Top Gun" outfit and then displayed a "Mission Accomplished" sign behind him that they claim was put up by the sailors. Another case in point was Howard Dean's absurd comments that in effect painted all Southerners as rebel-flag waving "rubes" in need of enlightenment."

For Towery's entire article, please see "Move the media elite outside its bubble."

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November 6, 2005

Bush's Failure to Win Summit Trade Pact is No Surprise

The Christian Science Monitor says, "Despite a five-day trip to South and Central America, President Bush was unable to work the same wonders on US-Latin American relations that he did earlier this year on ties to Europe."

Those who closely follow Latin American affairs are not surprised by this. And I doubt the Bush Administration is surprised. For more, see "At Summit of the Americas, no trade pact for Bush."

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Senator Robert Byrd Was Right

During an address in the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2003, on the even of President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert. C. Byrd (Democrat, West Virginia) said:

The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to "orange alert." There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home? A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.
The current debate over the Bush Administration's use of bogus intelligence to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq caused me to re-read Senator Byrd's address. In the second reading, as in the first, this sentence stood out:
A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq
Not only did the Senate avoid it's solemn duty to debate the war, it rubber stamped it. It also provided funds for it. The Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, are just as guilty as the Bush Administration for the casualties of war and the waste of vast sums of money on death and destruction in Iraq.

Editor's Note: This item is cross posted at The National Political Observer.

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Why I Welcome Lewis Libby's Not Guilty Plea

I'm glad that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who was indicted October 28, 2005 in the CIA leak investigation case, pleaded not guilty at his November 3, 2005 arraignment.

Hopefully, in defending himself, Libby will reveal the history of the Bush Administration's policy of deception in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. It would justice to see a parade of top White House officials called as witnesses, either for the prosecution or the defense.

Both sides' motion practice skills will be on full-display in this trial. I hope Court TV gets to cover it.

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Mr. Tough-guy

U.S. News.Com says, "Far from being chastened by recent setbacks, including the indictment of his chief of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney is thumbing his nose at his critics--and encouraging President Bush to do the same."

Who says Cheney is not a tough-guy? Here's more.

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The White House's Mandatory Ethics Briefings

The Associated Press, November 6, 2005:

In a memo sent to all White House aides Friday [November 4, 2005], the [White House] counsel's office said it will hold briefings this week on ethics, with a particular focus on the rules governing the handling of classified information. Attendance is mandatory for anyone holding any level of security clearance.

The week after, there will be sessions on general ethical conduct for the rest of the staff.

Question: Does this include Karl Rove and other higher up? Isn't it a bit late in Rove's case? Just asking.

By the way, President George W. Bush, in apparent attempt to stem the criticism of his Administration in the wake of the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby indictment, ordered the briefings. Here's the AP report.

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Is it a Crime to Deceive the American People?

Syndicated columnist Andrew Greeley opined in a column that ran in the November 4, 2005 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Since it is apparently not a crime to deceive the American people into supporting a foolish and unjust war, one must be content with the indictment of I. Lewis Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice.
The Catholic priest said, "The indictment is an example of a mountain laboring two years to bring forth a molehill. Libby will have the best trial lawyers money can buy and stands a good chance of acquittal. If he is convicted, the president will surely grant him a pardon before he leaves office."

I think Greeley is right on the pardon issue. More of his analysis can be found in "Lying's just the tip of the iceberg."

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'Libby, Lies and the Casualties of War'

Indian Country Today columnist Scott Richard Lyons, a Leech Lake Ojibwe who "teaches writing, literature and Native American Studies at Syracuse University," has a feisty take on Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Bush Administration's lies to the American people and "the casualties of war." He started his November 3, 2005 column like this:

And you thought Watergate was bad. Tricky Dick's ignoble legacy should pale in comparison to the trouble that's brewing now in Washington. When Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 28, ]2005] we witnessed the birth of the biggest White House scandal in American history.
Lyons said, "This entire scandal is about lies. Which lies? The ones we suspected all along: Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction."

For more, please see "Lyons: Libby, lies and the casualties of war.

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November 5, 2005

TPM Doing Good Job Following Niger Document Forgeries Hoax

Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo is doing a good job of following American and Italian investigations into "whether Italian intelligence officials were involved in the Niger [document] forgeries hoax." President George W. Bush cited information based on the forged documents in his January 28, 2003 State of the Union Address when he said:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
The information was based on the forged Italian documents, which the British considered bogus.

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Jack in the Google

Programmers refer to a collection of text characters as a "string". A sentence is an example of a "string". Strings are what we put in the search box at Google, Yahoo, Alta-Vista and all other internet indexing programs. If you search for the following string, "Jack Abramoff", a Florida based lobbyist, you will find many chunks of internet content that will help you learn more about the man. By adding additional words to your search, you reduce the number of returns and begin to see some interesting relationships. I have prepared a few pre-loaded links to google for you to peruse. Please feel free to add more.

"Jack Abramoff" "Tom Delay"

"Jack Abramoff" "Organized Crime"

"Jack Abramoff" "Sniper School"

"Jack Abramoff" "Ralph Reed"

"Jack Abramoff" "Native American"

"Jack Abramoff" "2000 Recount"

"Jack Abramoff" "Congressional Investigation"

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November 4, 2005

What Fitzgerald Left Out of Libby Indictment Says a Lot

Mark Memmott at USA TODAY says what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald left out of the Lewis Libby indictment in the CIA leak case says a lot. Here's his analysis. I found it compelling.

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Will Bush Get His Way on Timing of Alito Hearings?

The week of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito gets underway January 9, 2006.The full Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation January 20, 2006.

Much bipartisan wrangling and attacks and counterattacks between Democrats and Republicans can and will take place in the interim. The Bush Administration wanted the hearings and confirmation out of the way by December 25, 2005.

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November 2, 2005

All you had to do was ask!

Saddam Hussein was a mad man but he wasn't a crazy man. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, he was brokering a deal with the United Arab Emirates government to go quietly into exile, perhaps to live with all the other deposed CIA henchmen in some quiet villa on the Mediterranean. So if he was willing to go with his bag of loot, why did 2000 (and counting) US service people and 100,000 (and piling) citizens have to die so violently? Why do we now have a division of para/quadra plegics working out for next year’s veteran's wheel chair parade? The universal "one size fits all" answer to these questions is money, power and immortality. The inevitable perpetrators are old men trying to accumulate enough power to symbolically overcome their own deaths. The victims are usually men, women and children just trying to live the lives of human beings.

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Nola.Com: 'Katrina's Death Toll is Anybody's Guess'

Hurricane Katrina stopped killing people October 1[2005], notes Robert Travis Scott of the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Capital bureau in Baton Rouge.

He said in a November 2, 2005 report:

That's the date state health officials have assigned as the cutoff for an official Katrina-related death for people who evacuated the New Orleans area because of the August 29 [2005] hurricane and died in another city."

"It is just one of many guesstimates in the state's hurricane death count, a number characterized by unknown and under-researched data, a high level of secrecy and a lack of communication between parish coroners, state health authorities and the public.

Scott added: "The state Department of Health and Hospitals as of Monday had "recovered" or received reports on 1,067 bodies. But because of gaps in the data, no one, not even at the agency, considers that an official death count."

This is just another sign that Katrina wreaked havoc on everything in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

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DeLay's Case Renews Debate on Elected Judges

Clay Robinson of the Houston Chronicle's Austin, Texas bureau reports that,"Texas is one of only a handful of states that elect judges in partisan elections, mainly because both major political parties like it that way."

"Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's objection to the Democratic judge initially assigned to his case is only the latest dose of negative national publicity that, so far, hasn't moved the Legislature to change the system." Will this force a change?

For some thoughts on the idea, please see "Another look at elected judges." Here in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, most judges are elected. If they want to remain on the bench, they seek retention after their terms expire.

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Democrats Face Long Odds in Killing Alito's Nomination

A November 2, 2005 Seattle Times report compiled from Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and Associated Press reports says, "Despite the heated response by a group of liberal Democrats to Judge Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination, opponents would face long odds in killing his chances to join the court with a filibuster." Read why.

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November 1, 2005

Oliphant: 'The Coverup Worked'

Boston Globe Columnist Thomas Oliphant opined in his November 1, 2005 column that:

No one really noticed, but Patrick Fitzgerald made an unassailable point last week about the timing of the indictment that his CIA leak investigation has produced so far."I would have wanted nothing better," he said, ''that when the subpoenas were issued in August of 2004, witnesses testified then, and we would have been here in October of 2004 instead of October of 2005.
Oliphant said, "Give or take a nuance and some garbled syntax, the prosecutor was in effect showing that the quixotic pursuit of a nonexistent right or privilege by some news organizations is one reason President Bush was reelected last year."

By the way, Los Angeles Times Columnist Robert Scheer did notice Fitzgerald's statement about the timing of his report. See his November 1, 2005 column headlined "What Judy forgot: Your right to know."

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