Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lotta Links, Smonkette, Iraq and more

Saturday. Long day. The Iraq discussion group went great and I just want to crawl into bed right now but am trying to stay up long enough to get something posted.

Lotta Links. Yep, I saw it. Rebecca and I were talking about it Friday night. I checked the e-mails before I logged into Blogger and I see a lot of you saw it as well. Lotta Links is a link whore. "Oh look, Wonkette linked to us! That is so cool!" No, it's not. Wonkette has slammed Cindy Sheehan at least twice now. They're just ripping her to shreds and if you're linking to them, you're condoning their behavior. So I didn't care much for Lotta Links before but their decision to hop in bed with Wonkette surprised even me.

C.I. served Wonkette wonderfully last night:

But then there's little reason for the likes of Alex Pareene & co. to care about anything. The chin-challenged, college drop out is in charge of Wonkette these days. We didn't link to that site when all it wanted was to be Cindy Adams with just a hint of nipple (the AMC days) and we don't link to it today. But the man who would be Cindy Adams (if she were a really ugly woman who couldn't write) can't stop slamming Cindy Sheehan and that puzzles some. It shouldn't puzzle you. Just don't give him the pennies he gets with each click. Then he might have to attempt to get a real job. While the likes of Pareene swirl through the sewers, there are a few things worth reading online.

Here's something worth reading, Joe Conason's "White House Guilt in CIA Leak Case Remains:"

To observe the Washington press corps is to wonder why so many people who don't remember what happened yesterday and can't master basic logic are expected to analyze politics and policy. The latest developments in the Valerie Plame Wilson case--as revealed in "Hubris," a new book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn--proved once more that the simplest analysis of facts is beyond the grasp of many of America’s most celebrated journalists.
What Corn and Isikoff report is that the first official to disclose Valerie Wilson's covert identity as a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak in June 2003 was Richard Armitage, who then served as deputy secretary of state. Unlike other Bush administration figures who were involved in leaking Ms. Wilson’s identity, such as Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Armitage was known to be unenthusiastic about the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
From those two facts, many commentators have deduced that Rove and Libby are guiltless, that there was no White House effort to expose Valerie Wilson, and that the entire leak investigation was a partisan witch hunt and perhaps an abuse of discretion by the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. The same pundits now proclaim that Armitage's minor role somehow proves the White House didn’t seek to punish Ms. Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, for his decision to publicly debunk the presidential misuse of dubious intelligence from Niger concerning Iraq's alleged attempts to purchase yellowcake uranium.
But whatever Armitage did, or says he did, in no way alters what Rove and Libby did in the days that followed, nor does it change their intentions. It's a simple concept--two people or more can commit a similar act for entirely different reasons--but evidently it has flummoxed the great minds of contemporary journalism.
In this instance, Armitage says he was merely "gossiping" with Novak, who seems to have been primed to question him about the Wilson affair. But both Rove and Libby sought to undermine Joe Wilson’s credibility--and perhaps to victimize him and his wife--by revealing her identity to two reporters. Rove gave that information to Time reporter Matt Cooper, who got confirmation from Libby. And Libby provided the same poisonous tip to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Almost from the beginning of his investigation, Fitzgerald has known about the blabby Armitage, who promptly came clean to his boss. But Fitzgerald understood that the Armitage confession was of limited relevance. It didn’t discourage the special counsel from conducting a thorough probe that uncovered the secretive effort, emanating from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, to discredit Joe Wilson and use his wife’s two decades of dangerous devotion to her country as a weapon against him. Indeed, the only reason Armitage knew about Valerie Wilson was that he had read a negative dossier on Joe Wilson prepared at Libby's behest.

Now Rebecca's "plamegate, bully boy and iraq" goes over this topic and she wrote before me. So she was probably almost fully awake. So what do you think of Dirty Depends? Is Bully Boy standing on his last leg?

I really think he may be overplaying it. I think what he's doing probably appeals to the core he still has, that 38% (maybe less) but for everyone else, I think they're just hearing it and thinking, "More lies." It feels like something he could have rallied with in 2002 when a lot more people believed in him. But right now, it just seems like empty words and I'm having trouble believing many people are buying this.

I was running my sister around this afternoon. She needed some junk for school. And while she was looking at bras or whatever, I was looking at the plasma TVs and they were doing a story about the report from the Senate Intelligence Committee about how Saddam Hussein had no links to al-Qaeda and all. There was this old guy standing a few TVs away, he was probably like late 50s or early 60s and he goes, "Bush is liar." I go, "You got that right." So the guy walked over and he was telling me about how Bully Boy was a liar and it was real obvious that he had a lot to get off his chest so I listened. The old guy had been a Bully Boy supporter and when he was done listing all of Bully Boy's lies, I asked him when he started seeing through the lies and he goes probably right before the 2004 election but he still voted for Bully Boy. He goes that after, when the Iraq war just kept going on and all, and people kept dying, he started thinking about his great nephew who signed up right after 9-11 and started asking how he'd feel if something happened and all? He goes, "The country needed Cindy Sheehan before that election." Meaning before the 2004 election.

And this works into Wonkette smearing Cindy! He goes that because his great nephew is in the navy, he can picture why she would be so hurt and all because it is a war of lies. He said it really pisses him off when people start trashing her "like that drug addict Rush Limbaugh who hasn't lost anything in this war." So that was pretty cool. And I think he's more common than most people realize, a lot of people are like him.

Now here's an e-mail from John Kerry's website and the "tomorrow" in it is today and Kerry's one of my senators so I want to note this:

The topic of this email -- and the subject of a major speech I will deliver in Boston's Faneuil Hall tomorrow -- is national security.
If you think I'm planning to alert people to Republican pre-election fear-mongering on this vitally important issue, you're only half right.
Of course, we need to reject the Republicans' idea that a "debate" on national security involves them demanding another book of blank checks for policies that don't work. And, needless to say, we can't tolerate them smearing any Democrat who stands up to their miserable record of failure.
I will be campaigning for Democrats all across the country this fall. And, everywhere I go, I will talk about the Bush national security disaster and the need to change course in Iraq. They don't want Americans to remember that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, the Taliban is gaining strength in Afghanistan, Iran is closer to nuclear weapons, and the mess in Iraq has become a recruitment poster for terror. There is no way to overstate how Iraq has damaged our efforts to actually fight global terror. It has overstretched our military, divided and pushed away our allies, and diminished our moral authority in the world.
But, here's the other half of the story. As Democrats, we have to do more than oppose what has failed. We have to actively propose a new course that can clean up the disaster in Iraq, and defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.
We must offer the American people the kind of real national security debate they deserve -- and that the Republican Party, top to bottom, would deny them.
Tomorrow I will share my ideas on how we can do just that, achieving a more secure future for America. If you'd like to receive an emailed copy of this important address after it's delivered, please sign up here.
I look forward to working side-by-side with you on this critical issue in the weeks ahead.
John Kerry
P.S. Remember, we'd be glad to email you the speech after it's delivered. And we'll also be posting it on our website at I hope you'll read it yourself and share it as widely as possible.

I'll talk more about reps on Monday (or next week if I forget on Monday). But I'm just too tired tonight.

This is from Reuters:

Miami - At least 10 Florida journalists received regular payments from a U.S. government program aimed at undermining the Cuban government of Fidel Castro, The Miami Herald reported on Friday.
Total payments since 2001 ranged from $1,550 to $174,753 per journalist, according to the newspaper, which said it found no instance in which those involved had disclosed that they were being paid by the U.S. Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
That office runs Radio and TV Marti, U.S. government programs broadcast to Cuba to promote democracy and freedom on the communist island. Its programming cannot be broadcast within the United States because of anti-propaganda laws.
The Cuban government has long contended that some Spanish-language journalists in Miami were on the U.S. government payroll.
The Herald said two of the journalists receiving the payments worked for its Spanish-language sister publication, El Nuevo Herald, and a third was a freelance contributor for that newspaper, which fired all three after learning of the payments.
Journalism ethics experts called the payments a fundamental conflict of interest that undermines the credibility of reporters meant to objectively cover issues affecting U.S. policy toward Cuba.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, September 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, bits of the long over due US Senate reporton the lies that led to war (they're calling it a look into the intell) are scattered like crumbs, US soldier Mark Wilkerson reflects on how he reached the decision not to take part in the illegal war, US soldier Darrell Anderson is reportedly headed back to the United States after attempts to be granted asylum in Canada,
and Australia's Bully Boy says Brendan Nelson is doing a "fantastic job."
In the United States,
AP was first out of the gate with: "A senate intelligence committee report says there's no evidence Saddam Hussein had a relationship with terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his al-Qaida associates before the Iraq war." CBS and AP quote US Senator John D. Rockefeller stating of the report: "Ultimately, I think you will find that administration officials made repeated prewar statements that were not supported by underlying intelligence" and that it shows "the administration pursued a deceptive strategy abusing intelligence reporting that the intelligence community had already warned was uncorroborated, unreliable and in some critical circumstances fabricated."
Reuters notes that US Senator Carl Levin has pointed to the Bully Boy's statement on August 21st and attempted (yet again) to make an unfounded link. Levin: "The president's statement, made just two weeks ago, is flat-out false."
Though the press wants to play Levin's statement as an allegation, public record shows
Bully Boy stated: "I square it because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi." As Levin pointed out, that "is flat-out false."
The lies that led into illegal war. Yesterday,
AP notes, the Senate passed a spending measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with another $63 billion dollars.
As the cost in blood and currency continues to add up, more and more people turn against the illegal war. In the United States,
Byron Pitts (CBS) reported on the mood in Jacksonville, North Carolina and spoke with retired Marine Colonel Jim Van Riper who admits to vote for Bully Boy twice but intends to vote Democratic for the first time. Van Riper tells Pitts: "I've turn him [Bully Boy] off. I've tuned him out." The cost in blood? AFP notes the Baghdad morgue body count for August stands at 1,584. It also includes 2666 US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war, 118 British troops (that includes the one who died Thursday) and 115 "other" for a total of 2899.
Of the US fatality count,
Emil Guillermo (Asian Week) notes, "Ironically, of the Iraq war deaths, over 2,500 came after" Bully Boy's "declared on May 1, 2003, 'Mission Accomplished'."
CNN reports that, in Baghdad, a roadside bomb left six injured and killed three ("including a mother and child" among the dead) and that a US soldier died "south of Baghdad" from a roadside bomb. Reuters reports a car bomb in Baghdad that killed a police officer "and a bystander". Sami al-Jumaili (Reuters) reports the death of eight in Kerbala from mortars.
CNN reports that three people were shot dead in Baquba and a sunni tribal chief was shot dead in Hawija. Reuters identifies the man as Ibrahim al-Khalaf and notes that an Iraqi soldier was shot dead near Samarra (with two others wounded).
AFP reports six corpses were found in Baghdad ("tortured . . . shot to death"). Reuters reports the corpse of Haider Hamza was discovered "shot dead in front of his house" and that he had been "an interpreter working for Danish troops in Iraq".
AFP reports that Brigadier Muzher Kamel Mohammad ("head of the police force protecting Iraqi courts") was kidnapped in Baghdad. This as Reuters reports the US is clashing with people in Falluja and "U.S. troops used loudspeakers to demand people turn in 'insurgents' or face a 'large military operation'." Falluja. Again. As if November 2004 wasn't destructive enough. Hearts and minds, as Mark Wilkerson has noted, are not being won.
And the much touted non-handover? As
Jim Sciutto (ABC) notes: "Watching the headlines in the American media today, you might think the U.S. military handed over military control in Iraq to Iraqis. There was certainly a ceremony yesterday -- a handshake at a military base where Iraqi commanders took control of an Iraqi army division from coailtion commanders -- but the real story is the arithmetic. Yesterday's handover affects the tiny Iraqi navy and air force, with a few hundred folks in each, and a single Iraqi army division, the 8th Army with 5500 to 7000 troops. This means only about five percent the 115,000 regulars in the Iraqi army now take their cues from the Iraqi prime minister. The rest remain firmly under foreign control -- and so do the most dangerous areas of the country, such as Baghdad and the volatile Anbar province in the west. The 8th Army operates in the relatively small -- and relatively quiet -- Diwaniyeh province in southern Iraq."
In peace news,
Diana Welch (Austin Chronicle News) reviews the case of war resister Mark Wilkerson noting his disillusionment ("When we went, our general mission was to win the hearts and minds of the people. But when I got there, and I saw the people and how we were treating them, I thought, 'We're doing exactly the opposite'."), his awakening (finding out who was profitting -- "certain individuals were making on this war, how much money the corporations like Halliburton were making"), having his conscientious objector application rejected as he was called up for another tour of duty, and then deciding to check himself out. Alan Gionet (CBS4) reports that Rebecca Barker, Matt Wilkerson's mother, stated, "I think the public is looking at anyone who goes AWOL as cowards and it goes much deeper than that." Welch notes that Wilkerson could face a special court-martial (if found guilty, one year sentence is the maximum) or a general one (which would led to seven years if found guilty). Gionet reports: "Wilkerson is confined to base while his unit faces what could be its third deployment."
Phinjo Gombu (Toronto Star) reports that war resister Darrell Anderson will be leaving Canada and returning to the US, according to his mother Anita Anderson. This should take place during the last weekend of September and he will be met at the border by peace activists and Vietnam veterans as well as by Jim Fennerty, his attorney. "If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of the two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier."
In Washington, DC
Camp Democracy continues through September 21st. It is free and open to the public. Today's events focused on labor issues. Saturday, September 9th, many events will be taking place and among those speaking will be Antonia Juhasz (The BU$H Agenda), Ray McGovern and Bill Moyers. The events will kick off at 9:00 a.m. in preparation of the 9:30 a.m. march around the Capitol Building "To remember the fallen and remind Congress and the public of the human cost of the War on and Occupation of Iraq." Sunday, September 10th will feature Juhasz, Ann Wright, Raed Jarrar and others. A complete schedule can be found here.
And beginning September 21st (International Peace Day), via
United for Peace & Justice:
It's time to answer fear with courage, to step out of our personal comfort zones and take bold action to end the Iraq War.
Join us in a week of nonviolent action, including civil disobedience, from September 21-28, and in pressuring pro-war politicians all this fall through the Voters for Peace pledge.
In Australia, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson continues to be a subject of discussion over his role as self-designated media spokesperson for the April 21st Baghdad death of Jake Kovco.
First into the fray was prime minister John Howard who has "full confience" in Brendan Nelson. Of course he also claims to have "full confidence" in Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston whose testimony directly contradicts Nelson. And it's also true that Howard is the Bully Boy down under. So no one really cares what he says as he speaks from both sides of his mouth except possibly for this statement which has strong echoes of "Heck of a job, Brownie" -- from ABC's The World Today, Howard: "Dr Nelson is doing a fantastic job." Fantastic of a job, Brendie!
For those who missed it,
yesterday Houston told the hearing that he had repeatedly warned Nelson not to speak to the press because the events of Jake Kovco's death were not clear. Or as WA Business News sums it up: "Defence force chief Angus Houston has directly contradicted the Defence Minister's statement to police about private Jake Kovco's death, saying Brendan Nelson ignored repeated warnings not to speculate about the shooting."
Samantha Hawley summarizes (on ABC's PM) thusly: In a witten submission to the Military Board of Inquiry, Dr Nelson says it was Air Chief Marshal Houston who told him that Jake Kovco had been handling his loaded weapon in some way when it discharged. But Angus Houston directly contradicts that claim. In his own submission, the Defence Force Chief indicates he repeatedly urged the minister against speculating about the cause of death, saying it appeared to have been a tragic accident but this would need to be confirmed by the Board of Inquiry."
We turn to this statement from
April 27, 2006: "Of course we are, and I'm personally, very angry about it. I'm very disappointed. The inquiry and the investigation will get to the bottom of it. But I just ask Australians, it's very easy to criticise Defence. It's a large organization. It does wonderful things for Australians and for people in times of trouble, but don't just, I just say to Australians, don't just take a free kick here."
A free kick? Hasn't Brendan Nelson earned it? The statement above was when he went to the press to announce that Jake Kovco's coffin had returned home but not his body. It's been one mix up after another. Put yourself in the Kovco family's place, think of all the mix ups/screw ups Nelson's overseen and been responsible for and wonder if Brendan Nelson is the poor-put-upon he'd like to paint himself or someone performing their job very poorly.