Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The next commodity in the War For Resources:

Cow Pies.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yearly Kos Promo

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

As we gather today to honor those who fought and continue to fight for our freedoms, let us examine what it means to "Support the Troops". That slogan has been around in some form or another for a long time. It was once considered a promise, an oath taken by every citizen of this great nation. Now, however, it has seemed to have lost most of it's meaning. During WWII, when our fighting men were in Europe and elsewhere, those left behind were willing to give up certain things so that our troops would not go wanting. Every citizen, both young and old, did their part. Because they knew that the sacrifices they made were for a good reason.

Today's war is very different.

The President likes to talk of the sacrifices made by the military in this war. Yet no such concessions are asked of the citizenry. Why is that? Because the true cost of this war has always been kept from the public, only rarely slipping out in snippets here and there. We are not permitted to witness the flag-draped coffins returning to Dover, now numbering some 2,466. The media is blamed for not showing more of the "good news". Those who question the war in Iraq are chastised for not supporting the troops.

And for the most part, many Americans don't want to hear about Iraq. They don't want to hear about the latest IED blast. They avert their eyes or tune out when news of the latest death is brought up. Many do not wish to be a part of this war and simply wish it would go away.

But it is not going away. So long as the public chooses to ignore the war, it's burden is unduly placed on the shoulders of the military and their families. Their sacrifices are far greater than any we could hope to make and we should be ashamed of ourselves that we are not willing to make even the most modest of sacrifices when compared to those of the men and women who have died in this war. I would certainly be willing to pay higher taxes if it meant that a soldier's life was saved because he was wearing adequate protective armor.

Many in this country practice "magnetic patriotism". They think if they just slap a bumper sticker on the back of their car that is enough. And a magnetic sticker at that. Seems we won't even sacrifice the finish on our cars to "Support the Troops". What does that say about us as a nation?

So on this Memorial Day, I say we make the ultimate sacrifice for our fighting men and women.

Get rid of the damn magnets.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Opening The Files: 5/28/06

Regrets, I've had a few...

At a joint presser with his "Poodle" (I mean Prime Minister Tony Blair), President Bush admitted that he regrets making such bellicose statements as "Bring 'em on" and "Wanted Dead or Alive". Now why do I doubt his sincerity?

Carpetbagger notes that this is only a 'sort of' admission and tells why he has to keep a bottle of Maalox handy. In the same vein, Robert Elisberg wonders why the media is so ready to give Bush credit for admitting mistakes when, if you read his words carefully, he didn't actually make any.

(liberal)Girl Next Door relates Bush's act of contrition to that of a bully from her childhood and the different approach each took to seek redemption.

Steven D lists Bush's "Cowboy Rhetoric" as one of the many signs why he thinks we are indeed living under a dictatorship.


Go welcome newbie poster AJ over at AMERICAblog. He has an interesting analysis of the new "create an Iraq that American voters will ignore" strategy adopted by the Pentagon. Martini Republic thinks this new strategy may explain why the right was so incensed over Rep. John Murtha discussing what could be called Iraq's "My Lai".

Since President Bush alluded to being much like Harry Truman in his commencement address at West Point, Marty Kaplan compares the two "wartime" leaders and finds the comparison somewhat lacking.

And Pressing The Flesh has the week that was cartoons.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Congressional Camels

Jeez, this is what the Congress decides is the last straw? Not the signing statements that negate their sometimes hard fought for legislation. Not the circumvention of established laws like FISA. Or the countless other instances of Bush giving the legislative the "One Finger Executive Salute". No, this is what finally gets the Congress to stand up as one and say "Now you've gone too far!"

Anyone care to guess whether this sudden fascination with protecting the Constitution has anything to do with Congress looking out for their own interests?

Terrorism Templates and You

From Defense Tech:
It's not just about who calls who. The NSA phone-monitoring project looks at how terrorists place their calls – and then applies that model to everyone, to see who else might be a suspect...

"Armed with details of billions of telephone calls, the National Security Agency used phone records linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to create a template of how phone activity among terrorists looks," according to USA Today. "The template, officials say, was created from a secret database of phone call records collected by the spy agency. It has been used since 9/11 to identify calling patterns that indicate possible terrorist activity....

Today, we learn why everyone's calls had to be in the target set. The NSA wasn't just conducting social network analysis. It was using a more controversial data mining technique,....It focuses on prediction, not connections.

Under this approach, sophisticated algorithms hunt for patterns of terrorist behavior in information-trails, and then apply those patterns to average citizens, seeing which ones fit. It doesn't matter who you know. It's what you do that gets you in trouble. If you spend money and buy plane tickets like Mohammed Atta did, then maybe you're a terrorist, too....

Still not worried about this program?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bush on Iraq

There has been much progress made in Iraq. Incremental progress but progress none the less. With this new new leadership, we have reached a turning point. A turning point unlike any of the previous turning points. For this turning point marks the beginning of our incremental shift toward a kinda, sorta, maybe phased withdrawal of some of our forces.

Now any kinda, sorta, maybe decision to bring some of our troops home has nothing whatsoever to do with the upcoming mid-term elections. Far from it. As I have said many times before, decisions about troop numbers are always decided by commanders on the ground. And the commanders have assured me that they are making preparations for accepting nothing less than total victory in the struggle for Iraq.

Thank you, and enjoy your meals.

Update: You know, I don't know who gave you the impression that we would be announcing troop withdrawals from Iraq. But I can assure you that I will not rest until I have found the person responsible for leaking this sensitive information. We must wait for Iraq to become successful, self-governing, peaceful and stable. Or until October, whichever comes first.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Opening The Files: 5/22/06

Give me Liberty or...You know what just go ahead and keep it.

At Thursday's confirmation hearing for Gen. Michael Hayden, Sen. Pat Roberts had this to say:
I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead.

This comment caused many a rant throughout the blogs, with numerous recitations of a famous quote from another guy named Pat. I don't know what all the fuss was about really. This wasn't the first time Roberts has used this utterly myopic phrase. Though it may have something to do with it now being used as a way of endorsing a nominee to head the CIA who wouldn't know the Fourth Amendment even if someone tattooed it to his shiny bald pate.

Seth Chalmer gave a nice rebuttal of Roberts' statement. Matthew Yglesias, subbing for Josh at TPM, has a few things to say about it as well.

The indispensable Robert Parry reminds us that previous generations have always valued liberty over safety.

Mad Kane noted the trouble that John from AMERICAblog got into this weekend over his characterization of Sen. Roberts. She even had a nice limerick to go along with it.


Chris Floyd examines the mysterious symbiosis that exists between the Bush Faction and Al Qaeda. Call it a fear-filled symmetry.

Gadfly talks about Bush's enemies list and how it seems to be getting awfully bigger these days. Be aware, if you read this blog you're probably on it. Welcome to the list!

TBogg gives us a lesson in Blogiquette.

Boiling Mad always questions authority and asks us to continue to do the same.

And Mark Fiore shows us BushCo's new mascot.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Selective Enforcement

Appearing on ABC's This Week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was asked whether or not he believes that journalists can be prosecuted for publishing classified information. This was his answer.
There are some statutes on the books which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility. That's a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation. We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.

Obligation to enforce those laws. What a load of bull. Gonzales speaks as if the Bush administration has such an exemplary track record in that regard. Obtain a warrant as required by FISA? Nope, sorry can't do that. We might tip off "the enemy" that we're spying on them. Adhere to the ban on cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees? Well only when we have to. Can't have Congress tying the President's hands in this "war on terror". What about telling Congress what the FBI is doing under the Patriot Act? Sorry, classified business. You know how that goes.

But using rather ambiguous language from a 90 year old law to go after journalists who dare to report about Bush's lawlessness? Hell yeah! We have to ensure that journalists aren't letting the American people know what is being done in their name, all under the guise of "national security".

Gonzales is first and foremost Bush's lawyer. The only obligation he has is to protecting his client's sorry ass.

Update: Check out Bush's record when it comes to upholding the law.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Spoon Feeding Our Rights Away

Media Matters reported today that The Special Report With Brit Hume distorted remarks made by Sen. Carl Levin to make it appear as though Levin was accusing the Bush administration of orchestrating leaks about it's own surveillance program. Sen. Levin made the remarks during the confirmation hearing of Gen. Michael Hayden yesterday. I was reading through the transcript that Media Matters had and this bit from Levin caught my attention:
Disclosing parts of the program that might be the most palatable and acceptable to the American people while maintaining secrecy -- until they're leaked -- about parts that may be troubling to the public is not acceptable.

The reason this jumped out at me was because of a post I read the other day over at The Reaction. The poster, Creature, was curious to know if the Bush administration is in fact planting stories in the media in order to shape public opinion about domestic spying. He brought up Russell Tice, a former NSA staffer who was going to "shock" us with revelations of yet more domestic spying (hinting at the possible use of spy satellites). Creature then noted an AP story discussing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, an agency tasked with (drum roll please) spy satellites and imagery analysis! He goes on to speculate that this story was planted in order to soften the blow of Tice's "shocking" testimony.

Something that I think lends credence to this is the fact that I have yet to hear anything about Tice's testimony (or if he even gave it for that matter). Was this AP story designed to preempt Tice? Is the Bush administration piecemealing out the less controversial aspects of their domestic surveillance programs in order to spoon-feed us into accepting the more legally dubious bits? Stories like this seem to make that a possibility.

Perhaps it's time we start asking what's on the end of the spoon.

The ThinThread of the Cronyism Web

Patriot Daily had an excellent post yesterday discussing the news that the Bush administration killed a pre-9/11 data mining program that not only was more effective then the current NSA program but also didn't infringe on the privacy of the public. Patriot asks the troubling question of what is the real purpose of the NSA program and gives a few possibilities.

But the one thing that was not discussed was the one aspect of the Bush administration we are far too tragically familiar with: cronyism. We all know that Bush likes to reward those who are loyal to him with cushy jobs or government contracts. Who's to say that the implementation of the current program had little to do with fighting terrorism while protecting civil liberties and more to do with rewarding a charitable campaign contributor or other Bush loyalist.

This could just be another shining example of Bush cronyism in action.

Border Security Theater Presents:

Snug As A Shrub In A Bug.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mean what you say

“Look, ours is a world in which sometimes people tell you something and they don’t mean it." - President Bush, May 16 2006.

"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." - Bush, April 20 2004.

Bush Lets US Spy on Callers Without Courts.

"Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025". - Bush, 2006 State of the Union.

Administration backs off of Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

(Mis)Identifying Terror

I was browsing through the results from the USA Today poll that came out this weekend. One question in particular jumped out at me. When asked how concerned they would be if the government were to use the call records program to misidentify innocent Americans as terrorist suspects, almost two-thirds said they were somewhat to very concerned. Given what little we are being told about what the government is doing with this information, it is not unreasonable to be concerned for the potential for innocent Americans to be swept up in the process.

Because when the government goes looking for terror, no one is safe.

Update: Laura Rozen thinks they are targeting us deliberately and has a nice analogy involving a hammer and nails. Guess who the nails are?

Update II: Rahul Majahan has an great post highlighting just some of the things the government could decide to do with all this data.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fair Game

As I reported below, ABC News' Brian Ross was told by a federal law enforcement official that the phone records of some of the major news organizations are being monitored in an effort to seek out confidential sources in leak investigations.

Now the FBI has acknowledged that the records of journalists are "fair game". According to Ross, the FBI has been making extensive use of a new provision in the Patriot Act that allows agents to seeks information through National Security Letters. Ross describes these letters as "administrative subpoenas" which are not reviewed or signed off on by a judge.

So was this the reason that President Bush attached a signing statement to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act saying he doesn't have to inform Congress of what the FBI is using their expanded powers for? Because he knew they were trying to track down leakers? Frankly I am not surprised at all by this. We all know how desperate the Bush administration is to stop the leaking of unflattering information or possible illegal activities. And this disclosure helps to plug those leaks before they even occur. It sends a warning to would-be whistleblowers or intrepid reporters that there might me someone else besides your contact on the other end of the line.

And thus an avenue of truth is closed.

Tapping The Source

From ABC Blog:
Federal Source to ABC News: We Know Who You're Calling

May 15, 2006 10:33 AM

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

A senior federal law enforcement official tells us the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

We do not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

I guess after this there's going to be a lot more secret meetings in underground garages.

Run For The Border!

So our Decider-in-Chief has decidered to enlist the National Guard in the border patrol effort (at least for the southern border anyway). Think this has anything to do with his upcoming national address on immigration?

But is this move even practical, given how our military is already overstretched as it is? What does Bush hope to accomplish here besides peddling to his xenophobic base? Is he putting on a bit of border security theater? Is it a cry for help? Or is he finally getting serious about border security, since he and been so serious in the past?

Like most of Bush's deciderations, this one is all show and no substance.

Opening The Files: 5/15/06

Poll Smoking

Last Thursday brought the revelation that the NSA has been collecting our phone records since 9/11, which elicited quite a reaction in both the press and the blogosphere. Almost immediately, a straw poll came out claiming a majority of Americans supported the practice. But then two other polls surfaced showing Americans think the measure goes too far. Which poll is more accurate? Depends on who you ask.

E & P chimed in to give some possible explanations for why the poll results were so dramatically different.

Billmon opines that it doesn't matter what a majority of Americans support because the rights enshrined in the Constitution are not subject to majority rule. That's a good point. You could have a poll showing a majority of Americans favor deporting Kevin Federline but that doesn't mean the government has the right to actually do it. Though now that I think about it...

Poll Vaulting...Or Not

Newsmax reported that President Bush's approval rating jumped 6 percentage points and related the "boost" to the NSA story.

Atrios still has plenty of pony pictures left and I agree he'll probably get to use them. Geogria10 notes that even TIME magazine is trying to push the "good for Bush" narrative.

The Heretik teaches us about numbers. And fruits. Or something.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

As seen on

Future Headlines

Bush goes negative one last time

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Finding Terror

I think I finally figured out this whole business with the NSA program. It's not about "monitoring" terrorism suspects at all. It's about finding them! The Bush administration has no idea who or where the terrorists are, hence the need to hoover up vast amounts of information in a vain attempt to try to find out. They even admit as much in their defense of the program, saying it is being used to detect possible terrorist activity. So basically they're clueless.

Remember back in January, the NY Times reported that after 9/11, the NSA flooded the FBI with terrorism leads (most going nowhere). Now we learn the NSA has been keeping records of our phone calls (where many of those leads start I assume). Josh hinted at the possibility of this database being used to cull potential suspects yesterday.

This would also go a long way to explain why the Bush administration hasn't sought warrants. You need to know who your target is in order for a warrant to be issued. A blanket warrant probably wouldn't have cut it with the courts. And they figured that since they didn't get a warrant to get that far, why bother getting one. It is a lot of "cumbersome paperwork" after all. So they just kept on surveilling, hoping it paned out.

Too bad all this "link analysis" doesn't really work and wastes resources that could be put to better use. You know, like on actual security measures. But then again, actual security under this administration is about as rare as those warrants.

WaPo NSA Poll

The Washington Post did a quickie poll yesterday to try to gauge the fallout from the USA Today story. According to WaPo, 63% of those polled said they find the practice of collecting the phone records of millions of Americans as an acceptable way to investigate terrorism. I, like many others, have doubts about the accuracy of this poll but that didn't stop right-wing pundits and bloggers from immediately jumping on these results as vindication that Americans "get it" ("it" being that real Americans understand the issue better then those naysayers who whined about "civil liberties"). They also heralded this as a sign that Democrats should shy away from this issue because real Americans support Bush in this endeavor.

But like I said, I have my doubts. Firstly is the timing of the poll. It was conducted less then 12 hours after the USA Today story came to light. I doubt very much that anyone had time to seriously digest the facts. It was also conducted over the course of just one evening and the number of respondents was about half of what it normally is for these types of polls. I think having a wider sample range would have had an effect on the results, perhaps not by much but who knows for certain.

And the question itself was highly biased (emphasis added):
It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat? (emphasis added)

The question gives the impression that the government isn't doing anything with these calls besides analyzing them for "patterns". Do we know that for sure? I mean we were told previously that the government wasn't monitoring domestic calls at all. That apparently wasn't the case (I know some can argue there is a different between listening into calls and just collecting a record of them but to me it's still monitoring). We are now suppose to just trust that they aren't listening or recording these conversations since, you know, they have been so forthcoming with information in the past?

I have a feeling that as this begins to sink in, this poll will come to be seen as an anomaly and not the norm. Or at least I it hope does. If not, we are definitely in trouble.

More on this from Glenn, Jane, Jeff Alworth, The Moderate Voice, Carpetbagger

Update: Just goes to show you how the timing and wording of a poll can change the results.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Reactions to USA Today Story

A veritable firestorm has erupted ever since it was revealed that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans with no ties to terrorism. Below is just a sampling of reactions to this latest bombshell.

Editorials: Chicago Tribune, USA Today, NY Times, Washington Post, Boston Herald, LA Times

Blogs: Glenn Greenwald, Jack Cafferty, Pacific Views, Georgia10, Atrios, Len Hart, Robert Parry, Carpetbagger

Op-Ed: Andrew Cohen, Eugene Robinson

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cutting into "the base"

It just keeps getting worse for Ole G.W. A new Harris interactive poll out today pegs Bush's approval rating at a measly 29%. Let me say that again. According to this poll, only 29% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president. This puts him a mere five percentage points above Richard Nixon's lowest point of 24% at the time of his resignation.

And now that it has been revealed that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans, I have a feeling that future polls will show Bush's "base" getting smaller by the day.

Generally Hatin' Hayden

Bush nominated Gen. Michael Hayden to be the head of the CIA on Monday. Let's just says that a lot of people are not happy with the nomination, myself included.

While much of the opposition has centered around his status as active military, what worries me more is his contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law. But perhaps that was the reason he was chosen. Willingness to skirt the law does seem to be a plus on one's resume in the Bush administration, as Countdown pointed out last night.

And not surprisingly given that some of the more comprehensive coverage of Bush's lawlessness has been reported by the Boston Globe, their editorial board agrees that Hayden's commitment (or lack thereof) to the rule of law is something Congress should focus on. I think this is especially important since we are talking about putting him in charge of an agency that has dabbled in torture, rendition, and secret prisons.

Couple all that with the potential for some of the same mistakes and abuses that got us into Iraq to be repeated on Iran and you can see why concern about his nomination is warranted (no pun intended).

Update: I wonder if this will be brought up at Hayden's confirmation hearings.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Taking out the trash

This is priceless. No need to be a super secret spy to learn national security secrets. All you have to do is look in the trash.

Of course this should come as no surprise. The Bush administration has been trashing national security for years.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Job Security

"We have to understand that the way we treat Iraqis has a direct effect on the number of insurgents that we are fighting. For every one that I kill, I create almost 10 more."

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, U.S. commander in charge of day-to-day military operations in Iraq.

Monday, May 08, 2006


At this rate, he'll be breaking Nixon's record in no time.

Opening The Files: 5/08/06

A Ray of Truth

Last Thursday, Donald Rumsfeld faced a tough crowd in Atlanta. Several protesters were removed for interrupting his speech. The most notable exchange occurred during the Q&A session when veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern called out Rumsfeld on his pre-war assertions of Saddam's ties to Al-Qaeda and WMDs. TruthDig has the video.

Greg Mitchell wonders why all the tough questions are being posed by "the people" and not the press. I think the term "Lap Dogs" might have something to do with it.

Glenn says it time to smear the latest Bush critic with the usual "radical nutjob" label.

Larry Johnson has only one thing to say to Mr. McGovern: You Da Man!

The editorial board at the NY Times tells us why this incident shows how important it is for the Senate to complete their investigation of pre-war intelligence abuse. But Robert Parry notes how even they can't bring themselves to use the "L" word when describing statements made by this administration.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Purse Snatching

We learned over the weekend that President Bush has reserved the right to disregard some 750 laws enacted during his tenure that he claims infringe on his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief. Three leading Democrats condemned the assertion and were soon joined by Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, who called it a ''very blatant encroachment" on congressional authority and has vowed hearings.

This claim of "very blatant encroachment" got me thinking. Just how many "encroachments" will the Congress take before they finally stand up to this administration? My guess is the final straw may come in the form of Bush trying to usurp the one responsibility that Congress has actually taken somewhat seriously: the power of the purse.

Last week, Sen. Specter threatened to withhold funding for the NSA surveillance program if the administration were not more forthcoming with information. This week, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to a supplemental spending bill that would prohibit funds from be appropriated for the construction of permanent bases in Iraq.

Now if either of these bills were to come before Bush, would he veto them (unlikely, at least in the case of the supplemental spending bill) or simply tack on a signing statement claiming exemption from the laws he just signed? Undoubtedly he would claim that Congress cannot dictate how he runs the "war on terror", of which the NSA program and operations in Iraq are a part. Would Congress acquiesce even though Bush has now clearly infringed on their authority as purveyors of the purse?

Perhaps a clipping of the purse strings is what is needed to get this Congress to stand up to the Bush White House.

Update: I neglected to mention that Bush has already tried to insert himself into the legislative process. Back in March, he sought line-item veto authority from Congress.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Specter: Toothles Tiger

Apparently Sen. Arlen Specter is miffed. He wants to know why President Bush can cherry-pick the laws he gets to follow. Doesn't Specter know that 9/11 changed everything? Doesn't he know that Bush has to break the law in order to protect us?

Specter can make all the toothless threats he wants. His thinking that no one is above the law is so pre-9/11.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Opening The Files: 5/02/06

The Colbert Retort

Stephen Colbert was the featured entertainer at the White House Correspondents Dinner and brought his unique brand of 'truthiness' to the proceedings, skewering the Bush administration and the media. See video of the event here.

Billmon compares Stephen's style of political satire with that of the new movie American Dreamz.

Georgia10 meanwhile compares the media's approach to reporting on this vis-à-vis their enthusiastic reporting on the Harry Taylor incident.

Anonymous Liberal calls this a historic feat.

Editor & Publisher reports that Colbert got nothing but praise from his fellow Daily Show alumni Jon Stewart, who called the performance "balls-alicious". And since we are on the topic of "balls", Shakespeare's Sister has an award they would like to present to Mr. Colbert.

Pacific Views highlights why Stephen's style of irony is so effective.


Monday, May 01, 2006

The audacity is stunning

Lawbreaker-in-Chief Declares Law Day.

Out of gas

Maybe they should have offered $200 instead.