Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I Hate Microsoft

I lost a post I was writing this morning about the attempted mayoral takeover of the LA school system by Antonio Villaraigosa due to a computer lock-up brought on by my automatic Windows updater. Instead of rewriting the education post, I've decided to instead write an anti-Microsoft post.

My computer has frozen up nearly a dozen times. The automatic Windows updater is the cause of the problem. Finally I figured out I needed to shut the automatic Windows update option off. I emailed Microsoft about the problem, but god knows when they'll get back to me. I also emailed Brian Krebs, the Washington Post's Computer columnist, to ask him if he had heard other complaints about yesterday's Windows update. He emailed me right back and said he had not heard anything but he would keep his ears open. He emailed later on to suggest some possible solutions.

This automatic update problem is just one more reason to hate Microsoft. When something goes wrong with one of their products, you can rarely get help from them. The computer guy at my school gave me some advice on what to do about the problem, a student knowledgeable about computers independently gave the same advice to me I got from my school's computer guy, and the Washington Post computer columnist gave me some help as well. But from Microsoft I got nothing but an automatic email reply. I suppose I could pay $1.99 a minute to talk to a tech, but I'll wait and see if I can fix the problem without having to take that action.

The short of this post is, Microsoft sucks and if you aren't reading Brian Krebs at the Washington Post, you really should. His column is called Security Fix and he really is indispensable reading if you're a computer neophyte like me who needs to know about computer security, virus/spyware software, etc.

I'll put a link to him up later. Now wish me luck dealing with the Windows problems. Ughhhhhh!!!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dow Tanks For Fourth Time This Month

How low can the markets go?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S stocks tumbled on Tuesday as higher crude oil prices and a disappointing sales report from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. stirred worries about a potential slowdown in consumer spending.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, blamed higher gasoline prices and rising utility costs for holding back spending by its customers in May.

Its stock fell 2.7 percent and weighed heavily on both the Dow average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. All 30 components of the Dow Jones industrial average finished lower for the first time since late September 2004, according to Dow Jones Indexes.

Investors also feared that the dollar's slide could fan inflation as its weakness against other major currencies pushes up the cost of imported goods.

The dollar staged its biggest one-day drop in six months against a basket of major currencies after the Conference Board said its U.S. consumer confidence index hit a three-month low in May.

"There are some worries that this could go throughout the economy," said Evan Olsen, head of equity trading at Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas, referring to the impact of higher gasoline prices on Wal-Mart's sales. "The tone is still somewhat negative, and on top of that, we had a consumer confidence number that was little disappointing."

With just one trading day left in May, the S&P 500 was down 3.9 percent and on track to have its worst month in 3-1/2 years. The Nasdaq was down 6.8 percent for May so far, putting it on course to register its worst month in almost 2 years. The Dow has fallen 2.4 percent so far in May.

Decliners beat advancers on the NYSE by 7 to 2. On the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers 3 to 1.

Oil's over $72 a barrel, the dollar's tanking, inflation jitters remain, another interest rate increase looms at the end of June - you'd have to say market volatility is going to be with us for awhile.

In the short term, how does the situation get better? Between summer driving season and hurricane season, we're probably looking at $80 dollar oil by the end of the summer. I bet $80 dollar oil won't be good for either consumer confidence or corporate profits.

Ted Nugent Running For Governor of Michigan

Nugent is an A list schmucko and chickenhawk. He wants to be governor of Michigan. The Independent has the story:

Ted is 6ft 3in; to get a sense of his general demeanour you could do worse than imagine the body of John Wayne possessed by the spirit of Ian Paisley in one of his less conciliatory moods. He launches into a fevered monologue about how much safer Britain would be with more guns on its streets.

"Never has there been such an upsurge in crime since they confiscated all your weapons. Why don't you arm yourselves? You Limeys have a zipper that's locked in the closed position, because you don't have a constitution. You're rewarded for shutting the fuck up."

He explains his political philosophy which, as I understand it, is based on extending the death penalty to a far wider range of crimes than homicide, then arming any survivors to the teeth. He owns around 350 guns himself - more than one for every household in Crawford.

British police who don't want to carry firearms are, Nugent says, "out of their minds. I say if somebody robs you, shoot 'em. I'd like all thieves killed. And all rapists. And carjackers. No more graffiti. No more..." - this next phrase is a Spoonerism, rather than some Texan term for gross indecency - "snatch-pursing."

"For an unarmed force," I suggest, "the British police have shot quite a few people. Did you hear about Jean Charles de Menezes?"

"That was horrible. An American cop would have just beat the shit out of him."

Nugent has had a Sheriff Deputy's badge since 1982, and recently assisted with federal raids, "kicking down doors and arresting people". A keen admirer of fellow-guitarist Tony Blair, he abhors drugs, including alcohol, and maintains that he has never used such substances. He considers homosexuality morally wrong. He speaks about Muslims in a way which, were he to repeat it on globally networked television, might endanger his life. Nugent is aiming to run as Governor of Michigan in 2010.

"If Yusuf Islam is a threat to world peace," I tell him, in response to his anti-Islamic rant, "I'll run your campaign myself, wearing cactus shorts."

"Only the guilty need feel guilty," he replies. "These jihadists want to kill us and Cat Stevens. The message to send to a coyote is: the next time I see you, I'll shoot you."

He went to Fallujah in May 2004, as part of a tour with the USO (the same organisation that sent Bob Hope to entertain on the front line).

"And I visited Saddam Hussein's master war room. It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars. I saw his gold toilet. I shit in his bidet."

In Iraq, he says, he was allowed the opportunity to man automatic weapons. "Our failure," he tells me, "has been not to Nagasaki them."

"Is that opinion shared by your friends in the Republican Party?"

"Most of them feel that way."

"At what level?"

"I've heard it from high-level senators and congressmen."

"How high?"

"The highest."

"Do you mean Rumsfeld, Cheney, or Bush?"

"No," he says, with a defiant look.


He has the rage, but he doesn't have the war record. At 18, he was called up to serve in Vietnam. "In 1977 you gave an interview to High Times [the cannabis user's journal of record] where you claimed you defecated in your clothes to avoid the draft."

("I got 30 days' notice of the physical," Nugent told them. "I ceased cleansing my body. Two weeks before the test I stopped eating food with nutritional value. A week before, I stopped going to the bathroom. I did it in my pants. My pants got crusted up.")

"I never shit my pants to get out of the draft," says Nugent, good-naturedly.

"You also told them you took crystal meth [methamphetamine, the highly destabilising drug sometimes described as poor man's crack] before the medical - as a result of which, and I quote: 'I got this big juicy 4F.'"

"Unbelievable. Meth," he replies, in a tone of deep sarcasm. "Yes, that's my drug of choice. You've got to realise that these interviewers would arrive with glazed eyes and I would make stories up. I never did crystal meth. And I never pooped my pants."

"But you did dodge the draft." "I had a 1Y [student deferment]. I enrolled at Oakland Community College."

"You said then that you wanted 'to teach the stupid bastards in the military a lesson'. I'd have thought you'd have loved the army. Guns. Travel. Danger." "Back then, I didn't even understand what World War II was."

"So basically," - I admit that I have, unaccountably, started to speak Nugent - "you didn't want to get your Michigan ass blown off in Vietnam." "Correct. I did not want to get my ass blown off in Vietnam."

"I know you do a lot of charity work for wounded veterans. Has it occurred to you that someone else may have died in Saigon because you didn't go?"


Nugent's name, as I am sure he's aware, appears, along with those of Cheney, Bush and many of their fellow Republicans, on a website called It lists those who have evaded or abbreviated their own military service then, later in life, developed an appetite for war and machismo, either personally or by proxy.

"So has this made you..." "Certainly. Because I failed to serve in Vietnam, I feel an obligation now, to do everything I can to support those defending our freedom. Do I feel guilt and embarrassment? Yes."

"You missed your calling."

"I wish I'd understood how important America's fight against our enemies was. But did I go to Fallujah two years ago? Damn right I did. And was I in Afghanistan, manning a 50-calibre machine gun in a Chinook - ready to rock? Yes. Was I there for years? No. A couple of weeks. But I am not a coward."

I'm not even going to comment here. I think Nugent's words and record speaks for itself. The scary thing is, on the war he's just like thousands of other chickenhawk GOPers who support the war as long as they don't have to fight it.

GOP Hires Felon Phone Jammer For 2006 Elections

How's this move from that reform-minded Republican Party? Via Political Wire, the Concord Monitor has the story:

A major figure in the Election Day phone-jamming scandal that embarrassed and nearly bankrupted the New Hampshire GOP is out of prison and back in the political game.

Charles McGee, the former executive director of the state Republican Party, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and served seven months for his part in the scheme to have a telemarketer tie up Democratic and union phone lines in 2002.

He's back at his old job with a Republican political marketing firm, Spectrum Monthly & Printing Inc., and will be helping out at the firm's "GOP campaign school" for candidates.

Richard Pease, the firm's co-president, said McGee would be available to advise candidates at the two-day event, planned for next weekend in Manchester. McGee's role at the school was reported Thursday by the New Hampshire Union Leader.

"Chuck will work with the candidates in any way they want," Pease said. "If they want his advice, if they want his . . . experience, it's there for them to take or leave."

Pease said he had no problem with McGee, who is a vice president in the firm, returning to advise politicians. "He made a mistake. He admitted to it. He served his time,"Pease said.

"He's certainly not going to be standing there and advocating breaking the law," Pease said. He said McGee declined to comment about his role at the school.

In court, McGee acknowledged that the phone-jamming of get-out-the-vote drives by Democrats and organized labor was his idea, inspired by a lesson he learned in the Marine Corps: cut off your opponent's communications. The calls had the desired effect for two hours the morning of Election Day, but then the scheme began to unravel. Two other people have been sentenced to prison in the phone jamming.

The news of McGee's role in the campaign school was seized on by Democrats, who have charged that Republicans in New Hampshire and Washington have not done enough to repudiate the jamming scheme's authors. Christy Setzer, a spokeswoman for a Democratic group called the Senate Majority Project, said Spectrum's clients include many of New Hampshire's most prominent Republicans.

"The very fact that they continue to associate with him and give him their money ... speaks volumes," she said.

You just can't afford to lose talent like this guy's got. There are only so many phone jammers/political con men around these days, you know?

I wonder if the GOP will continue to use Karl Rove as their major political consultant after he's indicted in the CIA leak case and/or had his plea deal with special prosecutor Fitzgerald revealed?

Iraq/Afghanistan Round: Tuesday Edition

First the Afghanistan round-up, via the Associated Press:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Violent anti-foreigner protests raged across the capital Monday after a U.S. military truck crashed into traffic, touching off the worst rioting since the Taliban's ouster. At least eight people died and 107 were injured before Kabul's streets calmed.

Chanting "Death to America," rioters stoned the U.S. convoy involved in the accident then headed to the center of town, ransacking offices of international aid groups and searching for foreigners in a display of rising resentment over civilian deaths in the war against insurgents.

Gunfire, at times intense, rang out across Kabul as hundreds of young men looted shops and set fire to police cars and station houses. Some people said U.S. and Afghan troops fired on the crowds. Officials said they couldn't say whether that happened.

The U.S.-backed Afghan government decreed a nighttime curfew and the city quieted before sunset. Yousuf Stanezai, an Interior Ministry spokesman, warned that anyone found outside between 10 p.m and 4 a.m. would suffer "serious measures."

Now the Iraq round-up, via the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, May 29 — The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

Although some soldiers from the 3,500-member brigade in Kuwait have moved into Iraq in recent months, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has decided to send in the remainder of the unit after consultations with Iraqi officials in recent days, the officials said.

The confirmation that the number of American forces in Iraq would grow came on a day of soaring violence in Baghdad. Two Britons working as members of a CBS News television crew were killed on Monday and an American correspondent for the network was critically wounded when a military patrol they were accompanying was hit by a roadside bomb.

The movement of the brigade comes as several senior American officials in Iraq have begun to raise doubts about whether security conditions there will permit significant troop reductions in coming months.

Anti-American riots in Afghanistan and an increase in insurgent attacks in Western Iraq do not bode well for Karl Rove's election year stategy of drawing down troop levels before the November midterms.

If both the Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan and the sectarian violence/chaos in Iraq continues and George W. Bush announces troop drawdowns before the November midterms anyway, whatever credibility schmucko's got left (and it ain't much) will disappear. He has repeated numerous times that he's against any troop withdrawls from Iraq until we're on a "path to victory." I'm not sure what the "path to victory" looks like, but I don't think the current situation is it. And if Bush decides to pull troops out despite the increasing insurgence attacks at his political consultants behest, I think the move will backfire for Republicans come November. Americans can tell whether the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting better or getting worse and I doubt they will be fooled by bullshit pronouncements from the administration/RNC claiming victory and announcing troop withdrawls in October.

I've said this before, I'll say it again. I supported the Afghanistan war and I wanted the United States and its NATO allies to finish the mission of rebuilding the country. I did not support the Iraq war and I continue to think it was the biggest mistake the U.S. has made in foreign policy in a long, long time. Nonetheless, now that we are stuck in both countries and MUST quell insurgencies and rebuild infrastructure, we ought to be trying to complete those missions as best we can. Enough of this half-assed semi-occupation. Either send another 300,000 troops into Iraq (even if you have to institute a draft to do it) and really take it to the insurgency (while also insuring safety across the country) or pull the fuck out completely. But the way the administration is currently handling the war, sending in just enough troops to keep the entire country from blowing up but not nearly enough numbers to really have an impact, is insane. What results do they really expect to get by half-assing this whole thing?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Iraq/Afghanistan Round-Up

Remember when Laura Ingraham said reporters in Iraq were too scared and/or too lazy to get out of their hotel rooms and cover all the good news happening all over the country?

Well, another scared, lazy American reporter got blown up by a roadside bomb along with her cameraman and sound guy today:

BAGHDAD, May 29 -- A car bomb planted on a street in central Baghdad killed two CBS News staff members, a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator and seriously wounded a CBS correspondent on a bloody Monday punctuated by attacks that killed over 30 Iraqis.

The explosion killed Paul Douglas, a 48-year-old cameraman, and James Brolan, a 42-year-old soundman, both based in London, CBS News said in a statement posted on its Web site. Kimberly Dozier, a 39-year-old correspondent, "is in critical condition, but doctors are cautiously optimistic," the network said.

U.S. military authorities did not identify the soldier and the translator who were killed. Six other soldiers were wounded, the military said in a statement.

The team was traveling in a convoy with the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division when they were attacked at 10:30 a.m. It is unclear whether they were inside or outside the vehicle when the bomb exploded.

Dozier, Douglas and Brolan are the latest journalists to become casualties in a conflict that has claimed the lives of 71 reporters since its beginning in 2003, according to statistics kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Bob Woodruff, the former co-anchor of ABC News "World News Tonight," and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, both sustained serious injuries in another bombing on Jan. 29.

Meanwhile Laura Ingraham enjoys a Memorial Day weekend drinking cocktails and eating weenies at whatever wingnut gathering she's decided to attend.

In other Iraq war news, the chaos and sectarian violence continues across the country:

The day as a whole was marked by a string of bombings that highlighted the seriousness of the problems the country's nine-day-old government faces.

The bombing of a bus near Khalis, a predominantly Shiite town about 40 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, killed 15 people, according to police and hospital officials.

The passengers worked for the People's Mujaheddin Organization of Iran, an organization opposed to the theocratic Shiite government in Iraq's eastern neighbor, a spokesman for the organization said.

The blast ripped through the middle of the bus, leaving passengers sitting at either end alive. Ahmed Bilal Thyab, recuperating at a nearby hospital from wounds to his head and right arm, said he was sitting in the back of the bus.

The Bush administration is also bracing for reaction to the news that 24 Iraqi civilians were slaughtered by U.S. marines back in November 2005. Even more problematic for the administration, the military appears to have covered up the incident. In addition, several marines are being held in the brig at Camp Pendleton pending the results of an investigation into the death of another innocent Iraqi civilian at Hamandiya on April 26 of this year. The administration fears these reports of U.S. war crimes could inflame the Iraqi populace and/or the Muslim world at large.

The administration is right to have concerns about how the Muslim world is reacting to American actions across the globe. Take a look at this story from Afghanistan:

KABUL, May 29--The Afghan capital erupted in riots Monday morning after a traffic accident involving a U.S. military truck triggered rumors that American troops killed a number of Afghan civilians who gathered at the scene.

The U.S. military denied any such killings. But angry mobs of young men clashed with Afghan national police around the accident, and then moved toward the center of the city. Mayhem lasted for seven hours; seven to 20 people were killed and dozens were injured, according to various news and official accounts.

Hotel windows were raked with gunfire, a foreign aid agency was torched and looted, and numerous police posts were destroyed. Sounds of gunfire were heard throughout the city, and clouds of black smoke wafted in the air. Some rioters brandished AK-47 assault rifles. and they confronted police at numerous points in the city. Dozens of vehicles were smashed and burned.

The riot exposed the bitter resentment that many Afghans harbor toward the U.S.-led military forces that have been stationed here since the fall of Taliban rule in late 2001. It also reflected the deep ambivalence many Afghan Muslims feel toward the growing Western influence here that includes high fashion and fast-food shops, sprawling aid compounds, and even rap music.

"Today has set us back 10 years," said a distraught Afghan man who works for the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led contingent that patrols the capital. "We have been working so hard to build something here. Now the foreigners will all go away and take their money with them."

The rioters shouted slogans against President Hamid Karzai and President Bush. Employees at the U.S. Embassy took cover in bunkers, and staffers at the Russian Embassy were evacuated by military vehicles after their compound was assaulted.

The public mood has also been tense since a U.S. air strike killed at least 15 civilians in a village in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan last week. Afghan and U.S. officials blamed Taliban insurgents who had taken shelter in village compounds and fired from them at U.S.-led forces.

The NY Times noted yesterday that "Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of the summer." Given that Iraq continues to get worse, not better, and that the Middle East in general is worse off today than it was three years ago (as Senator Chuck Hagel said yesterday), America is starting to look more and more fucked geopolitically. Just how do we pull our overstretched military out of Afghanistan and Iraq as both countries go south and spin out of control? Yet how do we continue to send our military people overseas for four and five tours of duty and not expect some of them to lose it and engage in horrors like the incidents at Haditha or Hamandiya?

I wish some of the deep thinkers who cheerled this war in both parties and the press had thought about some of these questions before we started the Iraq war. I wish these same people would think through an attack on Iran too before we start a third fucking war we can't finish.

Happy Memorial Day everybody, especially to the men and women in uniform and their families.

Ralph Reed Shills For Prostitution and Wage Slavery

The Washington Post covers Ralph Reed's ties to the Marianas Islands wage slave/sex slave operations:

In August 1999, political organizer Ralph Reed's firm sent out a mailer to Alabama conservative Christians asking them to call then-Rep. Bob Riley (R-Ala.) and tell him to vote against legislation that would have made the U.S. commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands subject to federal wage and worker safety laws.

Now those seven-year-old words are coming back to haunt Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and a candidate for the Republican nomination to be Georgia's lieutenant governor.

"The radical left, the Big Labor Union Bosses, and Bill Clinton want to pass a law preventing Chinese from coming to work on the Marianas Islands," the mailer from Reed's firm said. The Chinese workers, it added, "are exposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ" while on the islands, and many "are converted to the Christian faith and return to China with Bibles in hand."

A year earlier, the Department of the Interior -- which oversees federal policy toward the U.S. territory -- presented a very different picture of life for Chinese workers on the islands. An Interior report found that Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry.

It also alleged that the garment industry and other businesses set up facilities on the Northern Marianas to produce products labeled "Made in the USA," while importing workers from China and other Asian countries and paying them less than U.S. minimum wage under conditions not subject to federal safety standards.

Lisa Baron, a spokeswoman for Reed's campaign, said Millennium Marketing "was hired as a direct-mail subcontractor to assist in encouraging grass-roots citizens to promote the propagation of the gospel."

"As a defender of the unborn, Ralph was unaware of any allegations regarding inhumane or illegal treatment of workers, and he would strongly object to such practices, if true," she added.

Uh, huh. But Reed didn't bother to find out if these allegations were true or not. To be frank, he didn't really give a shit one way or the other. All he cared aboput was the money he was making off of the deal. Former employees of Reed's know this. They were the ones who brought the Northern Marianas mailing to the attention of the Post reporter, "telling him the support on behalf of Northern Marinas leaves their former boss exposed as a hypocrite."

When it's former employees of Ralph Reed who are leading the charge against him, you know he's in trouble. And he ought to be. When a person wears his fucking christianity on his shirt sleeve for everybody to see in public but engages in disgusting endeavors like helping support wage/sex slavery in the Northern Marianas Islands, he's due for a Dickensian exposure as a first-rate hypocritical asshole.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bush: I'm Harry Truman and The War on Terror Is Like The Cold War

It seems our preznit is not only "increasingly sensitive" (as Mike Lupica pus it today), but also increasingly delusional. And that's an accomplishment, since he started out pretty delusional to begin with:

WEST POINT, N.Y. - President Bush compared himself with President Harry Truman and his fight against communism yesterday during a commencement speech to the West Point graduates.

Comparing the war against terrorism with the post-World War II battle with communism, Bush recounted the challenges and setbacks facing the U.S. as the Cold War took root.

Bush commended Truman for laying the groundwork of success against communism and said he was doing the same today against global terrorists.

"Like Americans in Truman's day, we are laying the foundations of victory," the President said.

Bush comparing himself to Truman is pretty delusional. Truman left office in 1953 with very low popularity, but he has gained in both popularity and critical acclaim as the decades have progressed to the point where now many presidential historians call Truman one of our greatest presidents. Bush would love to follow in Truman's footsteps, obviously, and have his presidential legacy increase in esteem as the years go by.

But let's face it, George W. Bush is no Harry Truman. Here's how measures Truman's legacy:

Truman’s legacy has become clearer and more impressive in the years since he left office. Most scholars admit that the President faced enormous challenges domestically, internationally, and politically. While he occasionally failed to measure accurately the nation’s political tenor and committed some significant policy blunders, Truman achieved notable successes. Domestically, he took important first steps in civil rights, protected many of the New Deal’s gains, and presided over an economy that would enjoy nearly two decades of unprecedented growth. In foreign affairs, the President and his advisers established many of the basic foundations of America foreign policy, especially in American-Soviet relations, that would guide the nation in the decades ahead. On the whole, Truman is currently celebrated by the public, politicians, and scholars alike.

Here's how I measure George W. Bush's legacy:

a) Preznit Bush pursued a pre-emptive war in Iraq that by any sane measurement has failed. Sure Saddam is gone from power, but Bush replaced him with chaos. Sectarian violence continues to increase in the country, Iranian influence in both the southern part of Iraq and the region has increased greatly, and the Sunni-Shiite conflict within the borders of Iraq threatens to spill over as Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers look to counter Iran's influence and support of Shiite militias in Iraq.

b) Preznit Bush has allowed Afghanistan to destabilize since the Iraq war as the administration has been forced to pull funds, troops and attention away from the unfinished building of democracy in Afghanistan to the more urgent insurgency in Iraq. According to an article in the NY Times Week in Review section today, "Afghanistan is the sleeper crisis of the summer" as "a resurgent Taliban has surprised the Americans with the ferocity of its annual spring offensive and set some officials here to worrying that the United States might become tied down in a prolonged battle as control slips away from the central government — in favor of the movement that harbored Al Qaeda before 2001." The Taliban have joined forces with the drug smugglers in Afghanistan and using suicide attacks, roadside bombs, and assaults by large units to further destabilize an already wobbly Afghan regime that has little control of the country beyond the capital.

c) Preznit Bush has shown a blatant disregard for the rule of law by sanctioning the use of torture, kidnapping, and extraordinary rendition of "torture suspects" who have not been charged with any crimes. The administration insists it has the right to hold "terror suspects" indefinitely in secret prisons around the world in violation of any constitutional principles I can think of and claims these extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the U.S. and American citizens in the war on terror. These policies have directly led to the torture/prsioner abuse at Abu Ghraib and alleged war crimes by marines at Haditha on November 19, 2005 and in Hamandiya on April 26, 2006. Worse, the administration has done its best to cover up these horrific incidents rather than deal with the fall-out from them head on.

d) Preznit Bush has been a horrible steward of the nation's financial present and future. By simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us while fighting two foreign wars, Bush has squandered the budget surplus he was given by Clinton in 2001 and has increased both the budget deficit and the national debt to fearsome amounts. We are now a nation of debtors at both the government and individual levels as the administration has encouraged Americans to pursue borrow and spend policies as their "patriotic duty" after 9/11. In addition, the current state of the economy is fair to good if you're one of the wealthiest among us, but working class and middle class Americans are struggling under the weight of years of stagnant wages, higher health care costs, higher energy costs, outsourced jobs, and bankrupt pension plans. While Truman presided over an economy that would enjoy nearly two decades of unprecedented growth, Preznit Bush is presiding over an economy that is built like a house of cards on a foundation of cheap money, bullshit real estate values, and smoke and mirrors.

e) Preznit Bush has not only ignored the problem of global warming, he has worsened the effects greatly by allowing the energy industry to write environmental policy, by dismissing the existence of global warming at the exact same time his own EPA was releasing a report saying global warming was real and caused by human activity, by pulling completely out of the flawed Kyoto Treaty rather than seek to amend it, and by gutting environmental protection standards across the board.

Add in the fiasco that was the administration's reaction to Katrina, the corruption that is rife in Congress, the administration, the Iraq reconstruction, etc. and the overall partisan atmosphere Bush has flamed with his "Fuck you!" attitude toward anybody who doesn't sign a loyalty oath to him and you have a president who is not even remotely like Harry Truman. No, add all those things in and you have one of the worst presidents in our nation's history who will be listed along with James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, and Warren Harding as part of the "Top Five Worst Presidents."

Mike Lupica Asks An Interesting Question

From Mike Lupica at the NY Daily News:

Who's orchestrating the current strategy for the Knicks, Karl Rove?

No, that can't be.

In comparison to Son of Cablevision Dolan, Rove's guy, our increasingly sensitive President, looks much more popular.

Can you imagine how it feels to be less popular than "our increasingly sensitive president"?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Knight-Ridder: Iranian-Backed Militia Groups Take Control Of Southern Iraq

By going to war with Iraq and taking down Saddam, the United States helped propel Iran into the major player in the region. By taking down Saddam and allowing Iran to have great influence in the southern part of Iraq, we have created a future fundamentalist Islamic state and probable conflcit between Sunni-Arab and Shiite-Arab countries. So reports Tom Lasseter at Knight-Ridder:

BASRA, Iraq - Southern Iraq, long touted as a peaceful region that's likely to be among the first areas returned to Iraqi control, is now dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen who are laying the groundwork for an Islamic fundamentalist government, say senior British and Iraqi officials in the area.

The militias appear to be supported by Iranian intelligence or military units that are shipping weapons to the militias in Iraq and providing training for them in Iran.

Some British officials believe the Iranians want to hasten the withdrawal of U.S.-backed coalition forces to pave the way for Iran-friendly clerical rule.

Iranian influence is evident throughout the area. In one government office, an aide approached a Knight Ridder reporter and, mistaking him for an Iranian, said, "Don't be afraid to speak Farsi in Basra. We are a branch of Iran."

"We get an idea that (military training) courses are being run" in Iran, said Lt. Col. David Labouchere, who commands British units in the province of Maysan, north of Basra. "People are training on the other side of the border and then coming back."

British military officials suspect that the missile that was used to shoot down a British helicopter over Basra on May 6 came from Iran. Five British soldiers died.

"We had intelligence suggesting five surface-to-air missile systems being brought over from Iran only seven days before it went down," said Maj. Rob Yuill, a British officer based in Basra.

Yuill said that the information suggested that the missiles were destined for the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Bassem al-Samir, a senior official in the Sadr office in Basra, denied that his organization was involved in the helicopter attack.

Another Sadr official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from other Sadrists, said that while the Mahdi Army wasn't responsible, "the missile was shot by an Iranian-trained group."

American military officials in Baghdad often point to the relatively low number of attacks against British soldiers in southern Iraq as proof that much of the country is stable.

Last month, however, at least 200 people were killed in Basra, almost all of them by militia violence, according to an Iraqi Defense Ministry official there.

A week with British troops in Maysan and Basra provinces and three additional days of reporting in the city of Basra made it clear that Iraqis here are at the mercy of Shiite militia death squads and Iran-friendly clerics who have imposed an ever-stricter code of de facto Islamic law.


Iraq's top Shiites acknowledge that they want to set up a regional government in the south, but they insist that the provinces involved would remain loyal to the central government in Baghdad. But an Iran-friendly Shiite government in the south could have far-reaching effects on Iraq and the Persian Gulf region and on the strategic position of U.S. military forces in the country.

U.S. forces are dependent on a fragile re-supply line that runs from Kuwait north to Baghdad through southern Iraq. A regional government allied with Iran could pose a risk to that supply line.

Such a government also would further agitate Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities, which could fragment the country, a development that Western analysts fear would destabilize the region.

A Shiite regional government might also greatly enhance Iran's regional influence by giving it a strategic Shiite partner with vast amounts of oil in a Middle East dominated by Sunni-run countries. Neighboring Kuwait's population is about one-third Shiite, and Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province are majority Shiite.

Already, there are signs that neighboring Sunni countries are pumping resources to small Sunni factions in Basra to combat Iranian influence, said a senior Iraqi Ministry of Defense official in Basra. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared for his life.

"Saudi Arabia is trying to counter the rising power of Iran in Basra by giving money and weapons to fanatical Sunni groups operating there," the official said.

In much the same way that Kurdish leaders and militia units in the north have made control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk a top priority for their region, Shiites have identified Basra as the economic engine of Iraq's Shiite south. Basra is near Iraq's largest oil fields, with billions of dollars in proven reserves, and is home to the only shipping port in Iraq.

While the Bush administration makes all kinds of threats at Iran over their nuclear ambitions, the Iraqi government endorses the right of Iran to pursue the "technological and scientific capabilities" needed to create nuclear power and Iran funds and/or trains the Iran-friendly Shiite militia groups that will run the southern part of Iraq after the British leave.

Which part of the administration's Iran/Iraq policy seems sane?

If they were worried about Iran having undue influence in the region, it seems to me that leaving Saddam in power in Iraq was one way of limiting Iranian power.

Sure, Saddam was a problem (and yes, murderous to his own people.) But surely the situation we have now with an emboldened Iran ready to subsume southern Iraq into its grasp and pursue nuclear weapons in order to deter a Western attack is much more worriesome than a contained Saddam still in power ever was.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Best Site Ever!

Do yourself a favor and check this out. I guarantee you, watching Georgie Boy fall headfirst over and over again will mesmerize and delight you.

(Thanks to Talk Left for the "heads-up.")

Thoughts On Al Gore

I went to see Al Gore speak about global warming at something called A WIRED Town Hall on the Climate Crisis last night here in New York. Two of the producers of the film An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David and Lawrence Bender, were also there, along with Dr. James Hansen, head of the NASA Institute for Space Studies in New York City. The event was hosted by WIRED magazine and moderated by John Hockenberry.

It was a truly moving night.

Watching Al Gore speak about global warming in such an eloquent, knowledgeable, intelligent way, I couldn't help but tear up thinking about what could have been for this nation. Gore won the 2000 election, of course, but George Bush stole it from him with the help of Karl Rove, James Baker III, the Diebold corporation, and the Supreme Court, and the nation has been on a downward course toward destruction ever since.

George W. Bush, a man who destroyed the two companies he ran before he became governor of Texas, has brought his incompetent management skills, his penchant for privileging cronyism over talent/knowledge and his discredited political and economic ideologies to Washington and sowed the seeds of future catastrophe. Environmentally, financially, and geopolitically this nation is headed for destruction. Bush took a budget surplus of $178 billion and turned it into a deficit in the $300-$400 billion range (depending upon whether you add the Iraq war costs to it or not.) Bush has made the United States a pariah in the world by pursuing a policy of kidnapping and torture of "terror suspects" and by launching a pre-emptive war on the flimsiest of excuses. Bush has allowed Exxon-Mobile and other major polluters to create energy and environmental policy, gutted the EPA and sold the nation out to corporate interests.

Watching Gore last night, I couldn't help but think this didn't have to be. But perhaps in the long run, letting George Bush run the country for eight years is just the thing the country needs to wake up to some inconvenient truths. Drunks have to hit bottom before they are willing to get help and I have a feeling the same is true for the American nation as a whole. We're so used to our cheap oil, cheap money, and economically/environmentally disastrous policies that we don't want to change until we absolutely have to. But after a few more Katrinas, after the evidence of the destruction we are wreaking on the planet becomes so obvious that even FOX News and Exxon-Mobile can't propagandize their way around it, maybe people will be ready to make some real and lasting changes to how we live our lives.

I want to write more about this in the future, but I already try and live my life in a way that doesn't negatively impact the environment. I don't own a car, I walk to work, I recycle as much as I can (my recycle garbage can is three times the size of my regular can and gets emptied more often), I try and purchase products that don't come with a lot of packaging. But I still have lots more to do on this front (including changing my relationship to air conditioning - god how I love air conditioning!) and electricty (i.e., I don't need to use as much as I do.) I hope everybody who sees Al Gore speak about global warming or who sees the film An Inconvenient Truth comes away inspired to make similar changes. Political change may not be easy to accomplish, but personal change is doable and the more people change their own habits, the better off we will be in the long run.

And change has to start with me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Novak-Rove Conspiracy?

Via Mike at Crest, I came home to learn that Murray Waas has broken new ground once again in the CIA leak case. Waas reports that federal prosecutors believe columnist Robert Novak and Karl Rove may have conspired to create a cover story to protect Rove during a September 29, 2003 telephone call that came three days after it became public news that the Justice Department was investigating the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Waas says investigators were suspicious on three counts:

a) The timing of the conversation was dubious - Novak reached out to Rove three days after the criminal investigation into the leak was made public by NBC News (though a formal announcement wasn't made until Sept. 30, 2003.)

b) Prosecutors believed Novak shifted his account of the July 9, 2003 conversation that he had with Rove about Ms. Plame after his September 29, 2003 conversation with Rove. Before Sept 29, Novak told Newsday that White House officials encouraged him to write about her ("I didn't dig it out, it was given to me...They thought it was significant...they gave me the name and I used it.") but after Novak's September 29, 2003 conversation with Rove, Novak made it sound as if he told Rove about Plame and her job at the CIA and Rove said that he had heard that too.

c) Prosecutors believed a professional journalist like Novak wouldn't write such an important story outing a CIA operative after only getting the slim substantiation that Rove had also heard Plame worked for the CIA after Novak claimed he brought the matter up with Rove.

Waas says that Fitzgerald may not bring charges related to the September 29, 2003 Rove/Novak conversation, but he gets Dan Richman, law professor at Fordham to say:

"It's possible that prosecutors would view their [September 29] conversation as the beginning of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, given that they had reason to believe that an investigation would soon be under way," says Richman. "It's even more likely that this conversation would help prosecutors shed light on Rove's motivations and intent when he later spoke to investigators."

Jeralyn at Talk Left doesn't think the conversation hurts Rove much unless Fitz uses it as part of an obstruction case but she says it reflects poorly on Novak and she wonders if Novak has immunity from prosecution. Mike at Crest wonders if Novak turned on Rove after Fitzgerald gave him a choice between having his name on the top of his own indictment or having it down in the supporting evidence of Rove's indictment.

I'm not sure what I think yet. I would tend to agree that this kind of conspiracy case seems hard to try unless Fitz has a third person with direct knowledge of the conversation. But I also think that Fitz could use the alleged conspiracy between Novak and Rove as a jumping point to a larger obstruction/conspiracy case.

I do think we know one thing after today's report. The investigation into Rove may be messier than we first thought, Fitzgerald looks like he is going to spend a bit more time investigating Rove's actions before he decides to bring charges or not, and resolution for Rove is definitely not coming tomorrow (when the grand jury in the CIA leak case usually meets) and perhaps not for some time.

UPDATE: Rove's spokesman confirmed the Spetember 29, 2003 phone conversation between Rove and Novak to MSNBC tonight.

Fitz: Cheney Would be A Logical Gov't Witness

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney could be called to testify in the perjury case against his former chief of staff, a special prosecutor said in a court filing Wednesday.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald suggested Cheney would be a logical government witness because he could authenticate notes he jotted on a July 6, 2003, New York Times opinion piece by a former U.S. ambassador critical of the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald said Cheney's "state of mind" is "directly relevant" to whether I. Lewis"Scooter"Libby, the vice president's former top aide, lied to FBI agents and a federal grand jury about how he learned about CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity and what he subsequently told reporters.

Libby "shared the interests of his superior and was subject to his direction," the prosecutor wrote. "Therefore, the state of mind of the vice president as communicated to (the) defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether (the) defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about (Plame's) employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue."

Most times prosecutors don't like to call somebody as a witness in a trial if they plan to indict him/her later on. Mike at Crest, noting the careful language Fitzgerald uses ("would be a logical government witness") wonders if Fitz is indicating that Cheney is not an eventual target in this investigation or if Fitz is simply responding to some question Libby's lawyers filed (i.e., Libby's Defense: "Will you be calling the VP to testify?"; Fitz: "Cheney would be a logical government witness.")

It's hard to say, because as Mike notes, there is no context given for the Fitzgerald filing. But it does prove one thing about the investigation: more embarrassing/damaging information about the VP is likely to come out the longer this thing goes on.

And it looks like it's going to go on a long while.

UPDATE: The NY Daily News provides the context for the Fitzgerald filing:

Fitzgerald raised the possibility of Cheney testifying in response to a court filing by Libby's attorneys, which said the vice president would not be called and that Cheney's handwritten notes would not be admissible as evidence.

"Contrary to defendant's assertion, the government has not represented that it does not intend to call the vice president as a witness at trial," Fitzgerald wrote.

"To the best of government's counsel's recollection, the government has not commented on whether it intends to call the vice president as a witness," he wrote.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

There you go - Fitz is saying that Cheney's handwritten notes on the July 6 Joe Wilson Op-Ed are admissable because the government may plan to call him as a witness.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hastert Under FBI Investigation For Bribery

Speaker of the House Denny Hastert is very upset the FBI kicked down Representative William Jefferson's office doors over the weekend in a corruption probe. He's so upset, in fact, that he co-wrote a letter along with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanding the FBI return documents they took from Jefferson's office:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In rare, election-year harmony, House Republican and Democratic leaders jointly demanded on Wednesday that the FBI return documents taken in a Capitol Hill raid that has quickly grown into a constitutional turf fight beyond party politics.

''The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized,'' House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

After that, they said, Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana must cooperate with the Justice Department's bribery investigation against him.

The leaders also said the Justice Department should not look at the documents or give them to investigators in the Jefferson case.

The developments capped a day of escalating charges, demands and behind-the-scene talks between House leaders and the Justice Department that ended with no resolution, according to officials of both parties.


Hastert, Pelosi and several other leaders of both parties in the Senate say the weekend raid violated the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.

''These constitutional principles were not designed by the founding fathers to place anyone above the law,'' Hastert and Pelosi said. ''Rather, they were designed to protect the Congress and the American people from abuses of power, and those principles deserve to be vigorously defended.''

Turns out Hastert might be upset with the FBI's Capitol Hill raid on Jefferson's office for a reason other than constitutional privileges - ABC's Brian Ross reports Hastert's also under investigation by the FBI in a bribery probe involving GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from senior U.S. law enforcement officials.

Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.

Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes.

The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government.

The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time.

The day Abramoff was indicted, Hastert denied any unlawful connection and said he would donate to charity any campaign contribution he had received from Abramoff and his clients.

A spokesman for Speaker Hastert told ABC News, "We are not aware of this. The Speaker has a long history and a well-documented record of opposing Indian Reservation shopping for casino gaming purposes."

ABC News also reports that "Hastert is the No.1 individual recipient of money from Abramoff and his clients, with a total of $68,300 contributed to his campaign committee and leadership PAC from 1998 to 2004."

Yikes. The FBI allegedly has a tape of William Jefferson (D-Louisiana) taking bribe money. The FBI found $90,000 Jefferson had hidden in a freezer. The Jefferson case ought to take some of the steam out of the Democrats' Culture of Corruption campaign theme this November. But Denny Hastert and the GOP have managed to screw it up, first by complaining about the FBI raid on Jefferson's office on Capitol Hill and then by the news that the Speaker of the House is entangled in his own FBI bribery probe.

First Tom Delay had to resign his leadership post, now Denny Hastert may be following him. And we still haven't heard the results of the SEC investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

It's been quite a year for the Republican leadership in the Congress.

I bet it will get even worse for Republicans if Karl Rove's indictment comes up soon. David Shuster reported on Hardball tonight that two former federal prosecutors he has interviewed believe if Rove was not going to be charged in the CIA leak case, he would have been already informed of that fact by the special prosecutor. Since Rove has heard no word of his fate in the case, it looks like special prosecutor Fitzgerald is just putting the finishing touches on the indictment.

What a summer this could be.

UPDATE: Keith Olbermann says a Justice Dept. official told NBC News that every member of Congress who took money from Jack Abramoff has been looked at, but any statement that Speaker Hastert is under investigation in a bribery probe is "a leap."

We'll see how big a leap this really is.

SECOND UPDATE: ABC stands by the Hastert/bribery investigation report.

NY Observer: Is Libby Looking For a Not Guilty Verdict or a Pardon?

Via The Note, the New York Observer has an interesting article on the tension between Scooter Libby's need to protect himself and the need to protect the White House in his ongoing pre-trial motions and future trial.

The Observer notes that twice Libby's defense team has filed documents that forced a public response from special prosecutor Fitzgerald that ultimately proved embarrassing to the White House: once when Fitzgerald reported in a court filing that the preznit allowed the vice preznit to authorize selective leaking of a classified National Intelligence Estimate report to members of the press and once when Fitzgerald revealed a copy of Joseph Wilson's NY Times Op-Ed column with Cheney's handwriting on it asking some potentially troubling questions about Wilson's wife.

The article notes that the longer Libby's trial goes on, the more opportunities we have to learn embarrassing/damaging information about the behavior of Cheney, Bush, et al. in this case. The article also says Libby may not be trying to win himself a not-guilty verdict so much as get himself a pardon by not embarrassing the administration too much in the case.

Given the seemingly strong perjury/false statement/obstruction case against Libby, I think Libby's best opportunity to stay out of prison is to get Uncle George to pardon him in January '09.

So Much For The Immigration Bill...

From the Washington Post:

With the Senate marching toward completion of an immigration bill that is more generous to illegal immigrants than the House-passed version, House leaders said yesterday that it will be difficult to reach a compromise and enact a measure.

Several House Republicans said an accord is possible only if President Bush pours his full energy into the effort, which they say is an uncertain prospect given his preoccupation with Iraq, his low poll numbers and GOP skittishness about November's elections.

CNN's American Morning just reported that the immigration bill is that much closer to passage when the Senate votes on new provisions today.

But I think the Post report is closer to reality here. I can't see the House and Senate hashing out a bill in committee. The GOP is simply too divided on the issue.

Ironically, Karl Rove brought up the immigration issue originally because he thought he could use it as a wedge issue agianst Democrats. But instead the immigration issue has become a wedge issue against Republicans. Note this article from Sunday's Washington Post:

Hispanic voters, many of whom responded favorably to President Bush's campaign appeals emphasizing patriotism, family and religious values in Spanish-language media in 2004, are turning away from the administration on immigration and a host of other issues, according to a new survey.

At the same time, separate polls show that conservative white Republicans are the voting group most hostile to the administration's support for policies that would move toward the legalization of many undocumented immigrants.

Cumulatively, the data underscore the perils for Bush and his party in the immigration debate churning on Capitol Hill, one that threatens to bleed away support simultaneously from the Republican base and from Hispanic swing voters, whom Bush strategists had hoped to make an important new part of the GOP coalition.

The GOP is caught between a self-created rock and a hard place on the immigration issue.

And losing both Hispanic support and pissing white conservative nativists off doesn't seem like a winning electoral strategy come November to me.

Maybe the best thing that could happen for the GOP is to have this immigration bill die in committee.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

NY Daily News: CIA Duo Will Testisfy Against Libby

Boy, this perjury/false statements/obstruction case against Scooter Libby just looks more and more solid all the time:

WASHINGTON - Two top CIA officials will bolster prosecutors' charge that Vice President Cheney's chief aide lied to them, court papers show. Prosecutors
say disgraced Cheney chief of staff Lewis (Scooter) Libby learned CIA spy Valerie Plame's identity from, among others, agency officials who will be called to testify at his trial for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

The U.S. alleges he learned about Plame from one of the CIA officials when he went after dirt on her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson shattered a pillar of President Bush's rationale for war - that Iraq was seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

Both CIA officials - including a top architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion - discussed Plame with Libby a month before columnist Robert Novak blew her cover in July 2003, prosecutors charge.

Libby has said journalists told him about Plame - not Cheney or the six witnesses named so far by prosecutors.

Until recently, the CIA officials' identities were kept secret by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who did not name them in Libby's October indictment.

But subsequent documents allege Libby asked top CIA official Robert Grenier on June 11 why the agency sent Wilson to Niger to see if Iraq tried to buy uranium. Grenier replied that Plame was an agent and "believed responsible" for arranging her husband's trip.

The other official was Craig Schmall, a CIA briefer whom Libby complained to about the Wilson trip on June 14, court files allege.

You'd have to say that from what we know from the court documents so far, Fitzgerald's case against Libby is excellent and Scooter's best chance for getting off is a pardon.

Fitzgerald doesn't screw around, does he?

BTW, I can't wait to see the Snow gaggle on the day they announce the Libby pardon. That'll be one fun gaggle.

Iraq/Aghanistan Update

The Bush administration doesn't have any plan for victory in Iraq other than to tell people "We have a Plan for Victory" and paint Democrats and others who are demanding a change in Iraq strategy "defeatists." But the reality is, the Bushies have no clue what they are doing in Iraq, the country remains a violent mess that could break apart at any point and even the administration's "success story" in Afghanistan is starting to unravel before our very eyes. First, here's an Afghanistan update:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- U.S. warplanes hunting Taliban fighters bombed a religious school and mud-brick homes in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing dozens of suspected militants and 17 civilians in one of the deadliest strikes since the American-led invasion in 2001.

On Tuesday, a land mine blew up under a vehicle carrying a team of Afghan health workers, killing a doctor, two nurses and their driver, officials said.

The blast occurred about 25 miles west of Kabul on a busy road that is often frequented by foreigners, said Bashar Gul, the deputy police chief of Wardak province.

He said the three men and one woman worked for a local aid group, the Afghan Health Development Services.

Meanwhile, pickup trucks ferried wounded villagers to a hospital in nearby Kandahar city. One woman, cradling her injured baby, recounted seeing ''dead people everywhere'' after the nighttime attack.

Taliban violence escalates each spring in Afghanistan with snow melting on mountain passes. But the scale of the assaults -- and of U.S.-led coalition response -- has been greater this year, as thousands of NATO forces prepare to deploy in the volatile south, the heartland of the ousted Islamic regime.

According to coalition and Afghan figures, the airstrikes brought the death toll of militants, Afghan forces, coalition soldiers and civilians to as many as 286 since Wednesday, when the recent storm of violence erupted in the south.

Now an Iraq update:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- At least 17 Iraqis were killed in attacks in Iraq on Tuesday, most of them in drive-by shootings in three provinces north of the capital, police said.

The attacks came one day after Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and Britain's visiting leader, Tony Blair, announced that Iraqi security forces would start assuming full responsibility for some provinces and cities next month, beginning a process leading to the eventual withdrawal of all coalition forces.

They said ''responsibility for much of Iraq's territorial security should have been transferred to Iraqi control'' by December. At that point, al-Maliki said, two of Iraq's most violent provinces, Baghdad and Anbar, may be the last where coalition forces maintain control.

But Tuesday's violence north of Baghdad showed that goal may not be easy to achieve.

At 8:00 a.m., gunmen riding in an Opel sedan car shot and killed four ironsmiths and wounded one as they were riding a pickup truck to work in Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, said police Brig. Abdul-Hamid Khalaf.

In a drive-by shooting, attackers killed three Iraqi day laborers and wounded four as they drove by a minibus to work at a farm near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Police said the casualties, all majority Shiites, appeared to be the latest victims of sectarian attacks by minority Sunni Arabs in Diyala province. Several hours later, gunmen in a speeding car killed three Iraqi men who were standing near a house in Baqouba, police said.

Nazar Qadir, 39, a high school teacher on his way to work near Kirkuk city in Tamim province 180 miles north of Baghdad, also died in a drive-by shooting.

On Jan. 31, a U.S. Embassy report had found security ''critical'' in Anbar province, the Sunni-dominated region west of Baghdad that includes Ramadi and Fallujah. The report also said the security situation was considered serious in the provinces of Baghdad, Basra, Ninevah, Tamim, Salahuddin and Diyala -- all of them religiously mixed.

Six Iraqis also died in the capital Tuesday, police said.

A car bomb exploded in New Baghdad, killing five Iraqis, two police commandos and three civilians. The attack, which damaged nearby shops and cars, also wounded eight Iraqis: five commandos and three civilians.

In western Baghdad, a drive-by shooting killed one of the many vendors who sell cigarettes from small wooden stands alongside streets in the capital. A roadside bomb also damaged one Humvee in a U.S. convoy in Dora, one of Baghdad's most violent areas, and an Iraqi woman and a child were wounding in gunfire that followed.

During his news conference with Blair on Monday, al-Maliki was asked whether the surge in sectarian violence in Iraq, which has prompted thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes, is a civil war. ''There are rebellious elements. There are gangs killing people. There are gangs that have used arms for political blackmailing or to achieve goals that have political dimensions,'' he said. ''But those groups have failed to ignite a civil war.''

"These groups have failed to ignite a civil war"? What do you call sectarian violence and retaliatory executions based on religion and/or tribe?

I guess al-Maliki is using the American definition of Civil War when he talks about Iraq. Since nobody has yet fired upon Fort Sumter or attacked each other at Antietam, there is no civil war.

What a mess. Iraq has unraveled, Afghanistan is in danger of unraveling and the morons in charge of both wars are trying to sucker us into a third war with Iran.

Monday, May 22, 2006

An Excellent Idea

From Gary Hart (via Huffingtonpost):

I would be interested to know whether anyone else agrees with me that, before entering heaven, George W. Bush must spend a few years in a special purgatory where all inmates are required to watch Baghdad ER non-stop.

I agree, Senator. I agree.

Shuster: Time Btwn Libby Filings May Free Up Fitz To Focus Back on Rove

Here's part of what David Shuster reported on Hardball tonight (transcript via Raw Story):

Both sides in the Libby case have several weeks before they will file the next set of pleadings. And that could help free up prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and his staff to focus on one key unresolved issue in the overall investigation -- the status of presidential advisor Karl Rove.

It's now been 26 days since Rove testified to the grand jury for the 5th time. Defense lawyers say prosecutors remain focused on Rove's claim of a bad memory regarding a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Rove's legal team and former prosecutors tracking the investigation expect Patrick Fitzgerald to announce a decision at any time.

SCOTT FREDERICKSEN, former federal prosecutor: "Right now is when we would expect the meetings to be wrapped up with his own staff, for him to make the preliminary decision, for him to reach out to Rove's counsel to have the final conversation, or to notify him he is not going forward or to notify him we are going to indict."

SHUSTER: (on-camera) "The CIA leak grand jury is scheduled to meet again this Wednesday.

If Shuster's insinuation that Fitz and Company have been so focused on Libby lately that they haven't had time to finish off the unresolved issue of Rove's status in the case, that would sort of make Jason Leopold's Truthout article that Rove has already been indicted in the case inoperative, wouldn't it?

I think it would. Perhaps somebody out there has an idea about this?

Another "Turning Point" In Iraq

When will the schmucks on wheels writing Bush's cue cards realize phrases like "turning point" and "turned the corner" don't mean much to people when you repeat them over and over and over and over and over again? From the Washington Post:

President Bush said today the war in Iraq has reached a "turning point" with the formation of a unity government Saturday in Baghdad, but he suggested the conflict may be far from over.

"Our nation's been through three difficult years in Iraq. And the way forward will bring more days of challenge and loss," Bush said in an address to a restaurant trade group in Chicago. "The terrorists did not lay down their arms after three elections in Iraq and they will continue to fight this new government. And we can expect the violence to continue."


Bush said that although he expects the insurgency to continue in Iraq, "something fundamental changed this weekend" with the formation of the first permanent government since the ouster of Saddam Hussein. The government, which consists of Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds, was formed after an election in December and months of negotiations.

"The terrorists are now fighting a free and constitutional government. They're at war with the people of Iraq," Bush said. "And the Iraqi people are determined to defeat this enemy. And so are Iraq's new leaders. And so is the United States of America."

Given all the violence still raging throughout the country and the fact that the new "free and constitutional government" has distributed the power in its ministries along sectarian lines, there is no real reason to believe that "the Iraqi people are determined to defeat this enemy" since there seems to be a lot of different enemies in Iraq these days, depending upon who you are and what your last name is. And then of course there's that little problem where the ministries in charge of security haven't had anybody named to lead them yet:

Even as Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and his cabinet were approved by parliament, violence coursed through Baghdad, and the ministries most responsible for security were still without permanent leaders, the result of continued political stalemate.

Al Maliki pledged to choose independent candidates without connections to militias to run the ministries of interior, defense and state national security. He said it could take up to a week. In the meantime, al Maliki, a Shiite, will oversee the interior ministry, and his two deputy prime ministers, one a Sunni, the other a Kurd, will be acting defense minister and minister of state for national security.

Yeah, good luck finding independent candidates without connections to militias to run the interior, defense, and state national security. I'm sure that'll happen just as soon as the various militas in the country give up their arms and sing "Ring Around The Rosy" together in one large "We Are the World" kind of gathering.

No, not happening. The formation of a unity government is nothing but an opportunity for Bush to declare "Mission Accomplished Again" and announce a drawdown of troops so that the GOP can run on a "Victory in Iraq" platform in November (or at least say they're pulling the troops out.) But does this really sound like a turning point to you?

"I don't have much faith that this new government will achieve democracy and security," said Zekki, a 65-year-old Sunni Muslim Arab with carefully slicked hair. "We should not be desperate. We must have hope. But until now we have no sign of hope, not even a glimpse."

Across this country, Iraqis of all backgrounds struggle to gin up enthusiasm for their long-awaited government, which was approved by parliament Saturday after five months of political haggling.

As Prime Minister Nouri Maliki took up his new duties Sunday amid continuing violence, the voices of Iraqis were a window into the steep challenges that lie before him — and a harsh illustration of the divide between the high-flown rhetoric of Iraq's ruling elite and the depression, anger and vengeance on the streets.

After three years of war and uncertainty, many Iraqis are too busy to lend much emotional energy to the political process. They are exhausted from bloodshed, distrustful of their neighbors, grappling with questions of identity and sectarian violence.

They are also keenly aware that most of their political leaders spend their days locked in the heavily fortified Green Zone, shielded from the rest of the country by foreign soldiers and strict checkpoints.

Doesn't sound like a turning point to me. Sounds more like "Peace with Honor" bullshit to give political cover to the drawdown the GOP wants before the November midterms. And of course if Bush and his minions were listening to his generals, he know that a drawdown now may not be a good idea anyway:

It may not be possible to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq this year, according to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's testimony before a Senate committee. In addition, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the same committee it will be months before any Iraqi army units are ready to operate completely on their own.

But the only general Bush really listens to is Karl Rove and I'm sure Rove is telling him, "Let's start the drawdown so we can turn these poll numbers around."

What a joke. A bloody, bloody awful joke.

Fitz: Libby Knew Plame Was Classified

Read this Walter Pincus article in the Washington Post and ask youself why special prosecutor Fitzgerald didn't charge Scooter Libby with the crime of exposing the identity of a covert CIA agent:

The classified status of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame will be a key element in any trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, according to special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald has said that at trial he plans to show that Libby knew Plame's employment at the CIA was classified and that he lied to the grand jury when he said he had learned from NBC News's Tim Russert that Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the agency.

Libby's lawyers have said their client did not know that Plame's job at the CIA was classified, and therefore he had no reason to remember conversations about her or lie about them to the grand jury.

When Libby testified before the grand jury on March 5, 2004, he said, according to the government's indictment: "Mr. Russert said to me, did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife, or his wife works at the CIA? And I said, no, I don't know that. And then he [Russert] said, yeah -- yes all the reporters know it. And I said, again, I don't know that."

At that same grand jury appearance, Libby was asked about a conversation he had with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in which he said reporters were the source of his information that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

"I was very clear to say reporters are telling us that because in my mind I still didn't know it as a fact. I thought I was -- all I had was this information was coming in from reporters," Libby told the grand jury, according to the indictment.

The indictment said Russert never disclosed anything about Plame in his conversation with Libby. Instead, prosecutors say, Libby learned about Plame's CIA employment in June 2003 from Cheney, Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and at least one senior CIA official, according to court papers.

At last week's court argument on pretrial motions, Fitzgerald said Libby had a "motive to lie" to the grand jury. By "attributing to a reporter" his information about Plame's CIA status and emphasizing that he was "passing on" scuttlebutt but "didn't know if it were true," the prosecutor said, Libby in his testimony was deliberately casting his actions as "a non-crime" in a way that "looks much more innocent than passing on what you know to be classified."

To support his case, Fitzgerald disclosed that at some time after Robert D. Novak's July 14, 2003, column identified Plame as a CIA "operative," Libby was part of a conversation with a CIA official and one other Cheney employee who is not identified in court papers. The CIA official discussed "the dangers posed by disclosure of the CIA affiliation of one of its employees," according to a May 12 court filing by the government.

At the oral argument that same day, Fitzgerald, referring to the conversation, described the CIA official as a witness who described to Libby "and another person the damage that can be caused specifically by the outing of Ms. Wilson."

That conversation, Fitzgerald added, "goes directly to his [Libby's] state of mind as to . . . there [being] a motive to lie."

It sounds like Fitzgerald hasn't evidence to show that Libby knew Plame was covert. So why isn't he charging him with that crime? Does Fitzgerald figure the perjury/false statement/obstruction charges are much easier to prosecute? Or does he plan on charging someone else with the crime of outing a CIA agent later on, say, someone who told Libby about Plame and her status and then ordered him to talk to the press about her?

Say, someone like Cheney?

Let's remember that when Fitzgerald was in his showdown with Judith Miller and Matt Cooper over their testimony, he went to a judge and said he needed to jail these reporters if they wouldn't cooperate because the circumstances of the case were extraordinary and these two reporters were his only way of finding out certain pieces of evidence crucial to his investigation. Judge Hogan agreed with Fitzgerald, adding that the case was certainly serious enough to warrant Fitzgerald's pressure on Miller and Cooper. Now what would make both Fitzgerald and Judge Hogan decide the case was so extraordinary that members of the press could be threatened with jail (and ultimately placed in jail for 80+ days in Miller's case)?

Maybe criminal behavior by the vice preznit.

Just speculation on my part, of course. But this seems to be where the case is heading. Perhaps that's why we got no announcement about Karl Rove's status in the past two weeks. Perhaps Mr. Rove has decided his own ass is more important to cover than the VP's and he's helping Fitzgerald make his case against the VP.

Again, just speculation.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Truthout Believes Rove Is Cooperating

Via Talk Left, Marc Ash Truthout says Truthout has three independent sources who confirm Karl Rove's attorneys were handed an indictment either late May 12 or early May 13 during a long meeting at the law offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove in the case. Ash also says two network news organizations had camera crews outside the offices of Patton Boggs (probably ABC News and MSNBC.) Finally Ash says he believes Rove is now cooperating in the case:

Further - and again this is "What We Believe" - Rove may be turning state's evidence. We suspect that the scope of Fitzgerald's investigation may have broadened - clearly to Cheney - and according to one "off the record source" to individuals and events not directly related to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. We believe that the indictment which does exist against Karl Rove is sealed. Finally, we believe that there is currently a great deal of activity in the Plame investigation.

Mark Corallo, Rove's spokeperson, told Talk Left that Ash's claims are false, said Rove has not been indicted nor told he is a target in the case, and said there has been no talk of deals between Fitzgerald's team and Rove's team since the case started.

So it goes. Lots of rumors, lots of denials, but nothing concrete from Mr. Fitzgerald, which is really all that matters now.

Although I do have to say that I am starting to think Rove is cooperating with the special prosecutor in the case. The buzz around the case had been that a Rove indictment was imminent, then suddenly the buzz died. Now maybe the buzz died organically for lack of any concrete news in the case. But maybe the buzz died because Rove dealt and he's telling people behind the scenes he's off the hook (though he's not telling people why he's off the hook.)

This is just speculation. But hell, that's all we have in this case right now, so I guess my speculation is as good as, say, Wayne Madsen's.


Spend like there's no tomorrow...

Fuck the future...

Armageddon's coming anyway...

(Thanks to NYC Educator - I stole both the GOP Credit Card and post idea from him. But it suits my mood today and crystallizes my last couple of "Bush Ownership Society" posts anyway.)

The Good News: Army Reenlistments up 20%...

...The bad news: it's because the American economy sucks for working class people:

TACOMA, Wash. — The first time Staff Sgt. Matthew Kruger came home from Iraq, he and his wife, Maggie, went straight into marriage counseling. The second time, she threatened to divorce him if he didn't get out of the Army. The separations were tearing them apart. So in July, to save his seven-year marriage, Kruger quit the service.

Then he looked around the job market, and it didn't take long to figure out that leaving the Army held its own perils. Nothing offered him the financial security of his military job — especially the generous health coverage for his wife and three small children.

And so, 29 years old and with no other place to turn, Kruger spent his first full day of freedom at a military processing center, signing up for four more years.

"We had nothing. We were scared," Maggie said recently, struggling to keep their rambunctious children entertained in a pizza parlor outside the Ft. Lewis military base. "We suddenly realized there was no way to take the kids to the doctor or dentist for any little reason, as we had been used to."

For Kruger, who returned to a war zone for his third tour in December, the danger of losing his family's health insurance was more real and immediate than the danger of dying in combat.

At military installations around the country, other families cling to the modest but steady wages, the guaranteed housing allowance, the solid retirement plan and the health benefits of the armed forces.

Although the Army missed its recruitment goals last year, in part because of the Iraq war, retention continues at record levels. Reenlistments this year are running 20% above the Army's goal, despite the long overseas deployments. Two out of three soldiers eligible to reenlist do so.

For many service members, it's a matter of balancing risk: Within the military, multiple deployments are commonplace, and more than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and 18,000 have been wounded. Outside the military, 46 million people in the U.S. have no health insurance, and those who do pay increasingly higher prices for it.

"It used to be that General Motors had a health plan equally as generous as the military," said Susan Hosek, a senior economist specializing in military benefits at Rand Corp., a nonpartisan think tank based in Santa Monica. "But GM has cut their benefits, while the military has maintained the level of benefits and even improved it. Being in the military is a risky occupation, but in other ways, it's very secure."

I guess that's one way to keep people in the Army.

God help us when a third tour of duty in Iraq seems like a better opportunity than the uncertain economic vagaries of life outside the military.

More proof that life is worse in Bush's Ownership Society.

Market Conditions Are Just Like 1987 Before The crash

Rough seas ahead in the markets according to the Sunday Times:

CONDITIONS in the financial markets are eerily similar to those that precipitated the “Black Monday” stock market crash of October 1987, according to leading City analysts.

A report by Barclays Capital says the run-up to the 1987 crash was characterised by a widening US current-account deficit, weak dollar, fears of rising inflation, a fading boom in American house prices, and the appointment of a new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

All have been happening in recent months, with market nerves on edge last week over fears of higher inflation and a tumbling dollar, and the perception of mixed messages on interest rates from Ben Bernanke, the new Fed chairman.

“We are very uncomfortable about predicting financial crises, but we cannot help but see a certain similarity between the current economic and market conditions and the environment that led to the stock-market crash of October 1987,” said David Woo, head of global foreign-exchange strategy at Barclays Capital.

Apart from the similarities in economic conditions, during the run-up to the 1987 crash there was a sharp rise in share prices worldwide and weakness in bond markets, Woo pointed out. “Market patterns leading to the crash of 1987 resemble the markets today,” he said.

Equity markets settled on Friday after sharp mid-week falls, with all the main American stock-market measures recording small gains on the day. But nerves remain.

The Dow Jones Industrials fell 22.6% on Black Monday, October 19, 1987.

If the Dow Jones falls 22.6% on Monday, the market would go from 11,144 to 8,626.

Now obviously I'm not saying the Dow Jones is going to crash like that on Monday. But if the conditions in the markets are just like October 1987, then this kind of percentage loss could happen in the near future.

And how would the American economic house of cards, already teetering under the weight of massive government and individual debt, high energy prices, and rising inflation/slowing growth, react to that kind of market crash?

Crooks: Insurance Companies Edition

From Newsweek:

May 29, 2006 issue - Nothing was left of John Hadden's $600,000 beachfront house when he returned to Bay St. Louis, Miss., three days after Hurricane Katrina hit. But Hadden didn't despair: the 45-year-old financial adviser had insured his home for nearly $700,000 with State Farm Insurance. "All is well. Thank God & State Farm," Hadden spray-painted on one of the concrete pilings that remained. But in January, Hadden received a letter from the insurer denying him any benefits whatsoever. Now the father of three teenagers is suing the insurer. And he's painted over the words "State Farm" on the piling.

Thousands of families who lost everything to Katrina's fury last August are now facing a second disaster: their insurers won't pay them a dime. The homeowners say they were led to believe they'd be covered when they signed up for their policies. The companies insist they're off the hook because of exclusionary clauses that distinguish between damage caused by wind (covered) and water (not covered). The courts will decide who's right: hundreds of homeowners have sued their insurers, among them U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, who lost a house in Pascagoula, Miss., and Congressman Gene Taylor, whose home in Bay St. Louis was destroyed.

While it's hardly unusual for homeowners and insurers to find themselves at loggerheads after a disaster, the wind vs. water debate has been especially rancorous. Earlier this month, 669 plaintiffs sued State Farm for allegedly denying their claims without properly investigating the cause of the damage to their homes. And last year, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood launched a suit against five big insurers—State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, United Services Automobile Association and Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance—for allegedly tricking Katrina victims into signing forms stating that their homes sustained flood damage, which isn't covered. "The robber barons of our time," Hood calls the insurers.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's statement that the insurance companies are "The robber barons of our time" is inaccurate.

The insurance companies are just one of the robber barons of our time. You can add drug companies, oil companies, credit card companies, the credit "counseling" industry, the banking industry, trading firms, financial advice companies, media companies, and the political class in Washington to the list of robber barons.

It has been a long, long time since corporations and industries have had so much freedom to rape and pillage individual Americans.

But as Professor Elizabeth Warren and her colleagues at the Warren Reports consistently show

The middle class is now under assault. The growing pressures on ordinary families are everywhere: skyrocketing costs of education, health insurance and medical bills; growing risks of layoffs, lost pensions, and plant closures; discrimination against entrepreneurs and new burdens for small businesses, and the unscrupulous tactics of an unrestrained credit industry that exploit the new national insecurity. These pressures are pushing families to the breaking point. Instead of helping, many of those in Congress seem intent on making the middle class the main course in a feast for big corporate interests.

That's about the gist of it. And members of both parties have sold out the interests of working and middle class Americans so that big corporate interests can enrich themselves off the unprotected and the individual.

Welcome to Bush's Ownership Society.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

NY Daily News: Armitage Is Key Witness In CIA leak Case

From Ken Bazinet and James Gordon Meek at The NY Daily News:

WASHINGTON - Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has emerged as a key witness in the CIA leak probe, the Daily News has learned.

Armitage has been questioned several times, but is not expected to be indicted by the federal grand jury investigating who outed CIA spy Valerie Plame to journalists in 2003, sources said.

Armitage's testimony could hurt Vice President Cheney's indicted former chief aide Lewis (Scooter) Libby, or President Bush's political guru, Karl Rove.

Two sources familiar with the case said Armitage, Rove and Libby all had contacts with the press about Plame. Unlike Rove and Libby, Armitage appears to have tried to dissuade reporters from writing about her.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald recently had to sneak Armitage into a Washington courthouse to get past reporters - a sign of his value in the case, according to one source.

"Rich has been cooperating with Fitzgerald since day one," said another source, who has close ties to Armitage. "He was one of the first people to offer his testimony."

Armitage's office said he was was not available to comment.

The Daily News also raises the possibility that Rove might not be indicted in the case but instead be named as an unindicted co-conspirator:

Rove has testified five times as a subject of the grand jury probe.

Even if Rove escapes indictment, he could still be forced to resign for talking about Plame with a Time magazine reporter.

"People don't seem to want to talk about the possibility that Karl could be named an unindicted co-conspirator," a third source close to the case said. "Can an unindicted co-conspirator remain at the White House? Personally, I don't think so."

This Daily News report comes on the heels of Armitage being named by former NSA head Bobby Ray Inman as Fitzgerald's real target in the CIA leak case and some unnamed Washington insiders telling Washington Note's Steve Clemons that Inman is full of shit.

If Bazinet and Meek are right (and I have to say that I am familiar with Bazinet both as a Daily News reader and a Countdown viewer and I trust him on this), then Inman sure is full of shit and you have to wonder who or what was behind his statements earlier this week to Clemons. Perhaps Inman heard Armitage had been secretly herded before the GJ recently and took that to mean Armitage is the guy in real legal jeopardy in the case? Or perhaps Inman was simply parroting something he heard for reasons unknown?

I dunno about Inman. But frankly, he doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. What does matter is this: If the Daily News report is accurate, Armitage has been cooperating with the investigation since Day One, Armitage tried to dissuade reporters from writing about Valerie Plame (unlike Rove/Libby) and Armitage has some information to tell the GJ that puts Libby and Rove in the hot seat.

Very interesting developments. No wonder the rumor-mongers have been trying to slime Armitage. He may be the reason why Fitzgerald knows so much about the behind the scenes goings-on in Plamegate.

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