Saturday, October 28, 2006


Google Censorship: Becoming a Non-Person/Blog

Get this:

My friend, Diane, is an activist, among other things. She lives down on the San Francisco Peninsula, Palo Alto/Silicon Valley. There's a "Measure A" on the ballot down there that will happily trounce the folks living in rural areas by regulating their lives and properties to the point of confiscation. It's for the good of Palo Alto, of course, and what's good for Palo Alto is good for Stanford, for Silicon Valley, and so on. You know the sad story of elitist communities.

Diane did a biting satirical piece on the backers of Measure A. For two days, her blog, siliconvalleytruthinessbureau, came up on Google. Then it vanished from Google. Google is one of the backers of Measure A. Does anyone have any questions about why her URL vanished?

Friday, October 27, 2006


Cheney endorses simulated drowning

This is from

It doesn't need any more commentary. Just read it and sigh.

Yes, it’s depressing how far we’ve fallen as a nation when headlines like this are no longer surprising:

Cheney endorses simulated drowning

And yes, that really is our vice president they’re talking about and not a convicted serial cannibal sex offender.

Wait, it does get better:

Dick Cheney, US vice-president, has endorsed the use of “water boarding” for terror suspects and confirmed that the controversial interrogation technique was used on Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the senior al-Qaeda operative now being held at Guantánamo Bay.

Cheney was responding to a radio interviewer from North Dakota station WDAY who asked whether water boarding, which involves simulated drowning, was a “no-brainer” if the information it yielded would save American lives. “It’s a no-brainer for me,” Cheney replied.

The comments by the vice-president, who has been one of the leading advocates of reducing limitations on what interrogation techniques can be used in the war on terror, are the first public confirmation that water boarding has been used on suspects held in US custody.

Gee, that sounds like torture, doesn’t it?

“For a while there, I was criticized as being the ‘vice-president for torture’,” Cheney added. “We don’t torture … We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we’re party to and so forth.

“But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture and we need to be able to do that.”

I repeat: this is not some fringe wacko writing at NewsMax. This is, in fact, our vice president. God help us.

Gavin adds: The best description of waterboarding that I’ve seen is here. It’s a lot worse than most descriptions suggest. Let’s also not forget that an ‘enemy combatant’ is now whoever the President decides to name as one, without judicial review.

Yes, it’s depressing how far we’ve fallen as a nation when headlines like this are no longer surprising:

Cheney endorses simulated drowning

And yes, that really is our vice president they’re talking about and not a convicted serial cannibal sex offender.

Wait, it does get better:

Dick Cheney, US vice-president, has endorsed the use of “water boarding” for terror suspects and confirmed that the controversial interrogation technique was used on Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the senior al-Qaeda operative now being held at Guantánamo Bay.

Cheney was responding to a radio interviewer from North Dakota station WDAY who asked whether water boarding, which involves simulated drowning, was a “no-brainer” if the information it yielded would save American lives. “It’s a no-brainer for me,” Cheney replied.

The comments by the vice-president, who has been one of the leading advocates of reducing limitations on what interrogation techniques can be used in the war on terror, are the first public confirmation that water boarding has been used on suspects held in US custody.

Gee, that sounds like torture, doesn’t it?

“For a while there, I was criticized as being the ‘vice-president for torture’,” Cheney added. “We don’t torture … We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we’re party to and so forth.

“But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture and we need to be able to do that.”

I repeat: this is not some fringe wacko writing at NewsMax. This is, in fact, our vice president. God help us.

Gavin adds: *** Let’s also not forget that an ‘enemy combatant’ is now whoever the President decides to name as one, without judicial review.


Would Bush Do A Bormann?

Would I believe that the current administration is worried about international prosecution for War Crimes? Maybe in their saner moments. I’m sure it’s occurred to Barbara Bush. She, as Glorious Grandma might have sent Jenna down to South America to prepare an exit strategy...

We Hate To Bring Up the Nazis, But They Fled To South America, Too

'Don't you know the boys from Brazil are little Hitlers? I saw it in a movie ... whose name I can't rememberOur paranoid friends over at Bring It On have put together a story that hasn’t exactly made Washington Whispers. It’s real short and real simple:

* The Cuban news service reports that George W. Bush has purchased 98,840 acres in Paraguay, near the Bolivian/Brazilian border.

* Jenna Bush paid a secret diplomatic visit to Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte and U.S. Ambassador James Cason. There were no press conferences, no public sightings and no official confirmation of her 10-day trip which apparently ended this week.

* The Paraguayan Senate voted last summer to “grant U.S. troops immunity from national and International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction.”

* Immediately afterwards, 500 heavily armed U.S. troops arrived with various planes, choppers and land vehicles at Mariscal Estigarribia air base, which happens to be at the northern tip of Paraguay near the Bolivian/Brazilian border. More have reportedly arrived since then.


Now, Prensa Latina is a Cuban-government operation that is not exactly friendly toward Washington, what with Washington trying to kill Castro for 50 years and all.

But Prensa Latina didn’t invent the story. It’s all over the South American press — and not just Venezuela and Bolivia.

As far as we can understand, all the paperwork and deeds and such are secret. But somehow the news leaked that a new “land trust” created for Bush had purchased nearly 100,000 acres near the town of Chaco.

And Jenna’s down there having secret meetings with the president and America’s ambassador to Paraguay, James Cason. Bush posted Cason in Havana in 2002, but last year moved him to Paraguay.

Cason apparently gets around. A former “political adviser” to the U.S. Atlantic Command and ATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, Cason has been stationed in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama … basically everywhere the U.S. has run secret and not-so-secret wars over the past 30 years.

Here’s a fun question for Tony Snow: Why might the president and his family need a 98.840-acre ranch in Paraguay protected by a semi-secret U.S. military base manned by American troops who have been exempted from war-crimes prosecution by the Paraguyan government?

Paraguayan denials that Mariscal Estigarribia is now a U.S. base have met with considerable skepticism by Brazil and Argentina. There is a disturbing resemblance between U.S. denials about Mariscal Estigarribia, and similar disclaimers made by the Pentagon about Eloy Alfaro airbase in Manta , Ecuador. The United States claimed the Manta base was a “dirt strip” used for weather surveillance. When local journalists revealed its size, however, the United States admitted the base harbored thousands of mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops, and Washington had signed a 10-year basing agreement with Ecuador.


We’ve been directed to yet another parapolitical theory here at Rigorous Intuition, where it is reported that Rev. Moon bought 600,000 hectares — that’s 1,482,600 acres — in the same place: Chaco, Paraguay.

Another twist: The first story, from Paraguay, apparently refers to the senior George Bush as the owner of the 98.840 acres in Moon’s neighborhood.
Bush 41 was the first bigshot politician to go prancing around with Rev. Moon in public. Especially in South America:

“In the early stages of the Reagan Revolution that embraced the Washington Times and Moon’s anti-Communist movement, it was embarrassing to be caught at a Moon event,” wrote The Gadflyer last year. “Until George H.W. Bush appeared with Moon in 1996, thanking him for a newspaper that ‘brings sanity to Washington.’” That was while on an extended trip to South America in Moon’s company. A Reuters’ story of Nov 25 of that year describes the former president as “full of praise” for Moon at a banquet in Buenos Aires, toasting him as “the man with the vision.” (And Moon helped Bush out with his own vision thing, paying him $100,000 for the pleasure of his company.) Bush and Moon then traveled together to Uruguay, “to help him inaugurate a seminary in the capital, Montevideo, to train 4,200 young Japanese women to spread the word of his Church of Unification across Latin America.”

Isn’t that special?

Oh, and both the Moonie and Bush land is located at what Paraguay’s drug czar called an “enormously strategic point in both the narcotics and arms trades.” And it sits atop the one of the world’s largest fresh-water aquifers.


Please Pee In This Cup—Or Else!

One of the candidates for a local position is making a to-do about being on the “Meth Action Committee” or some such group. I went to a workshop given by several different agencies about methedrine; for a while it was a daily news item, but lately I haven’t heard anywhere near as much about it. Except for some rather large busts, rather than rinky-dinky cookers in some cheap hotel or broke-down trailer. I guess the news value is diminished.

But what I noticed at the workshop was that it was more an advertising venue for local treatment centers—and of course a plea by the police for more money to fight the scourge of addiction. One presenter had all kinds of reasons for making everybody employed anywhere to go through regular urinalysis—forever, presumably. Like it really benefits all of us. If that’s true, then the cops and ministers and school administrators and doctors and psychologists and elected officials should all go through it, too. I doubt that would ever happen. Although, once the drug-testing companies have got everybody else, they might see those professionals as an untapped (pun, sorry, I couldn’t resist) market.

Ultimately, it all comes down to control, doesn’t it? There are people who simply want to control the lives of everybody else. Not just on the job, but all the time. Moral policemen. That’s a sick theme in American society, and I don’t know there’s a cure for it.

October 25, 2006 The Huffington Post

New Rule: We Don't Need Drug Tests for Librarians
Bill Maher

They can't have very nice lives - librarians. It's like being a teacher, only without the opportunities for dating, because the only kids you meet are the nerds. So the last thing America's shsssshing minority needs is the indignity of a urine test. But that's just what we're doing. I'm not sure this is the best use of our time.
The last time a librarian did something really stupid and reckless on drugs was when Laura married George.

Last year, Florida's Levy County introduced drug testing for library volunteers. Whose average age is between 60 and 85. The volunteers were required to drive to another city - Gainesville - and urinate in a cup "within hearing distance" of a laboratory monitor. That'll teach 'em for offering to work for free. "Okay, grandma, now get pissing. And I'd better hear a nice even unbroken stream."

And then something weird happened. Inexplicably, the number of volunteers dropped from 55 to two. It's almost like they didn't enjoy being degraded. And they call themselves the greatest generation.

I know what you're thinking. If Aunt Iris has nothing to hide, she can get a little of her own urine on her hands and prove she's not strung out on junk. Then we can feel safe, and she can go back to mis-shelving the Readers Digests. But then a second thought occurs to you, later, when you really, really think about it. And that thought is this: What the fuck is wrong with us? Are we high?

They're not flying planes. They're showing the homeless how to use the microfiche readers. For free. The only people who profit from this are the stockholders of the drug testing company, who stood to make $33 a head, money the library would have otherwise just wasted on books.

A spokesman for the libraries said she wouldn't make the volunteers drive to Gainesville for their cavity searches anymore. And she also thought the problem wasn't the drug test itself, but the method they used. That's why they're looking into switching from urine tests to mouth swabs. The same method used by the Florida Department of Corrections.

Copyright 2006 ©, Inc.


King George Crosses His Fingers, Again

Does anyone seriously wonder if the reason the president and vice-president refuse to modify any of their stances, continually lie about the past and present, and continue to accrue power into the executive branch, seemingly without concern about legalities, is because they figure they now have the executive branch securely in their hands and they are not giving it up? I’m sorry that’s such a long sentence, but that’s the way it came out.

The thing is, Bush and Cheney act as if there is no way in hell anyone will ever call them to account. It certainly will not be this Congress. Maybe the corruption in Washington is so bad, so universal, so mestastized, that as long as members of Congress get paid off, they’ll never act in the nation’s best interests. Ever.

Matti Taibbi claims this is the very worst it’s ever been. I don’t know: Congressional history is something I’ve always avoided—too many give-aways and bribes and bombast. This may not be the worst, but it’s bad enough. It’s bad enough when you realize that even though the Dems and the Repugs don’t socialize, the Dems have shown, for the last six years, all the resolve of melted ice cream. If they take control of the House and Senate, would they stiffen up? Only as much as is necessary to endorse the checks made over to them, probably.

The Republicans are awful. And they’re arrogant. The Democrats have never been noted for moral righteousness, either, but they aren’t arrogant. Once in a while you can hear Barney Frank or Molly Ivens deflate conservative twits, but not often enough. Maybe it’s because they don’t want to offend the bankrolls behind the conservative mouths. Corruption is an equal opportunity employer, after all, and I’m sure the Dems are eager to find new cash sources.
In the meanwhile, Bush has pulled another of his famous “signing statements.” He has his fingers crossed, essentially, when he goes along with something.

Bush Balks at Criteria for FEMA Director
Signing Statement Asserts Right to Ignore Parts of New Homeland Security Law

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 7, 2006; A02
President Bush reserved the right to ignore key changes in Congress's overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- including a requirement to appoint someone with experience handling disasters as the agency's head -- in setting aside dozens of provisions contained in a major homeland security spending bill this week.

Besides objecting to Congress's list of qualifications for FEMA's director, the White House also claimed the right to edit or withhold reports to Congress by a watchdog agency within the Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for protecting Americans' personal privacy.

The standards for the FEMA director were inspired by criticism of former FEMA chief Michael D. Brown's performance after Hurricane Katrina last year. Brown, a lawyer and judge of Arabian horses, had no experience in disaster response before joining FEMA.

Bush's moves came in a controversial assertion of executive authority known as a "signing statement," which the White House issued late Wednesday, the same day the president signed the $34.8 billion measure. Congress has assailed the unprecedented extent of Bush's use of signing statements to reinterpret or repudiate measures approved by lawmakers instead of exercising a formal veto.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the actions, first reported by the Associated Press, upheld the president's right to choose his advisers and control executive branch activities.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Don't Read About It And Don't Know About It

“Read It And Weep” was going to be my headline for this piece. It's more appropriate to write: “Don’t Read It And Don’t Weep Because You Don’t Know.” This is another little thing that's slipped under the radar...

In 12-step programs we talk about “slippery slopes.” That would be like trying to not drink but hanging out in bars, with people who do drink, stuff like that. Or trying to avoid smoking marijuana but hanging around Rastafarians. I knew a woman who was trying to keep to the straight and narrow but she was working in titty bars. Self-defeating behaviors are just that: self-defeating.

There’s another slippery slope, and this country is on it. It’s a slope that leads to totalitarianism. We’ve slipped way down the list of countries with freedom of the press; our phones can be wire-tapped because somebody in power thinks we might be dangerous, somehow; our bank records are open secrets to the government, we’re watched by TV cameras just about everywhere we go, the government wants internet providers to keep records of where we go on the WWW, we need special ID cards to vote, and...oh yeah, if someone in power decides we’re supporting the “enemy,” we can be arrested and tried in secret.

Got the picture?

All these pieces are in place. If the government wants to pick someone up, they can do it; no warrant, no evidence, no lawyers, no habeas corpus. Jawohl!
U.S. Rank on Press Freedom Slides Lower
By Nora Boustany
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 24, 2006; A15

Some poor countries, such as Mauritania and Haiti, improved their record in a global press freedom index this year, while France, the United States and Japan slipped further down the scale of 168 countries rated, the group Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.

The organization's fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index tracks actions against news media through the end of September. The group noted its concern over the declining rankings of some Western democracies as well as the persistence of other countries in imposing harsh punishments on media that criticize political leaders.


Northern European countries top the index, with no reported censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals, either by officials or the public, in Finland, Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands. All of those countries were ranked in first place.

Although it ranked 17th on the first list, published in 2002, the United States now stands at 53, having fallen nine places since last year.

"Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism,' " the group said.

"The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 U.S. states, refuse to recognize the media's right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism," the group said.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Monday, October 23, 2006


FEMA Fouls Emergency Mandate Again

Sometimes things get overlooked. I just can’t be all over at the place at once, and still have a life. Hmm. Maybe I need to decide which is more important…

If you thought the colossal FEMA fuckup in New Orleans got the organization to pull their shit together, you were wrong. FEMA exists under the direction of a septic tank of incompetents and political hacks. It’s amazing any of them can tie their own shoelaces… Or, perhaps, if this snowstorm had hit, say, Beverly Hills or Palm Springs Or Aspen...some place where rich white Republicans hang out, FEMA would have been on top of things. You pay your money and you take your choice.

Over 200,000 in Buffalo Still Without Power, But Federal Disaster Not Declared Yet

October 18, 2006 1:42 PM
Maddy Sauer and Brian Hartman Report:

Over 200,000 homes are still without power in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, yet residents and local businesses are still awaiting federal reimbursement funds as a full disaster declaration has not yet been made.

Meanwhile, fire departments and other public facilities are requesting new generators as their emergency generators are running out of power after almost a week of use.



Former Enron CEO Skilling Gets 24 Years


How The Shrub Is Twisted, etc..

Sometimes we stumble over things by seeming accident. Ah, well—you know, there are coincidences, but then there are significant messages that come to us, and those important messages are not coincidence. Wake-up calls, God shots, visions, major insights...they’re things that need to be noticed.

Fifteen or so years ago, I read a lot of Alice Miller. I don’t know how many people know of her work. She was a pioneer in seeing how “poisonous pedagogy”—could utterly wreck a person’s adulthood. Teach a child to stuff back a lot of feelings, convince that kid she or he is stupid or evil, and stand back. Miller used as examples, the childhoods of many Nazi war criminals. She made her points. And the universality of her insights, I believe, is shown in the current irrational stupidity of America’s war in Iraq. It’s about tyrannical internalized rage that finds outlets where-ever it can.

I think it’s clear how these three sections tie together. In case it isn’t, here’s a short quote from Ms Miller: "The unconscious compulsion to revenge repressed injuries is more powerful than all reason."

Decimating the Constitution with Military Tribunals
by Jacob G. Hornberger, September 27, 2006

Given all the glorification being bestowed on three U.S. senators for displaying "principle" in standing against President Bush’s plan to amend the Geneva Convention to permit torture of detainees, followed by their quick compromise abandoning any semblance of principle, it is easy to lose sight of something much bigger: The military tribunals that the president and the Congress are set to approve will constitute the most radical, dangerous, and disgraceful transformation in the U.S. criminal-justice system since our nation’s inception.


The military tribunals that Congress is now set to enact at the behest of President Bush effectively toss those legal principles into the ashcan of the "war on terrorism." No habeas corpus, grand-jury indictments, due process of law, speedy and public trials, trial by jury, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, incompetent evidence, coerced testimony, and cruel and unusual punishments. The military tribunals will constitute one of the most fundamental altering of our constitutional order since the founding of our nation. And it’s being done without even the semblance of a constitutional amendment.


The truth is that the "war on terrorism" rhetoric has been a sham from the beginning -- a sham to enable federal officials to do what they've been trying to do for decades, especially in another sham war -- the "war on drugs" -- emasculate the Bill of Rights to enable federal officials to run roughshod over people -- and not just foreigners. The military-tribunal legislation is just the culmination of decades of federal officials' mocking and ridiculing the "constitutional technicalities" whose only real purpose, U.S. officials have long claimed, is to let "guilty" people go free.

That's in fact why President Bush and the Pentagon set up their torture camp in Cuba rather than in the United States -- to avoid the constraints of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which they obviously hold in disdain. After all, what other explanation could there be for their incessant attempts to circumvent America's federal-court system?


[N]o one should forget the Padilla doctrine. Even though Jose Padilla, an American citizen, is in federal court now, the president and the Pentagon have made it perfectly clear that they now have the power to arrest any American for terrorism and send him to the military for punishment, bypassing the federal-court system. In fact, there's little doubt that if Padilla is acquitted in federal court, the feds intend to yank him back into military custody as an "enemy combatant" in the "war on terrorism," despite the bar on double jeopardy in the Bill of Rights.

Why are the feds fighting so hard for those military tribunals? Because the tribunals will enable them to directly control both the proceeding and the outcome of the proceedings. They can ensure that the defendants won't describe too extensively the torture and sex abuse to which they have been subjected while in captivity. They can restrict access by the press to both the defendants and the proceedings. They can ensure that the defendants will be more easily convicted, given that their right to counsel will be limited and that hearsay evidence and coerced testimony, some of which will be kept secret from the accused, will be able to be used to convict them. They can keep a short leash on the military officials presiding over the proceedings, something they cannot do with an independent federal judge. They can ensure that a jury of ordinary people will not interfere with what the prosecutors are seeking, as the jury in the Zacharias Moussaoui case did in sentencing him to life in prison instead of granting prosecutors' request to inflict the death penalty on him -- or as the jury did when it acquitted several terrorism defendants in Detroit.

The military tribunals will ensure that those in the executive branch, not those in the judicial branch, will be the final deciders of who is guilty of terrorism and who isn't and how these "terrorists" will be punished. This despite the fact that the federal "war on terrorism" dragnet has netted innocent people in the process -- innocent people who have been tortured, sexually abused, and even murdered by U.S. personnel or their duly authorized foreign agents.
[end of excerpts]
To underscore the momentous nature of the particular juncture at which we find ourselves, I emphasize the primary point by putting it in bold, capital letters:



And here is a somewhat long quote from Alice Miller:

...the sad truth that technology alone is not sufficient to protect us from the consequences of denied, and thus uncontrolled, emotions. Without facing up to their origins--the production of hatred in childhood--we will be unable to resolve such hatred and put an end to the work of devastation. ...

Such a person demands order and uses violence to achieve it, just as he or she learned as a child: order and cleanliness at any price is the motto, even if it is at the price of life. The victims of such an upbringing ache to do to others what was once done to them. If they don't have children, or their children refuse to make themselves available for their revenge, they line up to support new forms of fascism. Ultimately, fascism always has the same goal: the annihilation of truth and freedom. People who have been mistreated as children, but totally deny their suffering, use the mottoes and labels of the day. They thereby meet the approval of others like them because they have are also helping to conceal their truth. They are consumed by the perverse pleasure in the destruction of life that they observed in their parents when young. They long to at last be on the other side of the fence, to hold power themselves, passing it off, as Stalin, Hitler, or Ceausescu have done, as "redemption" for others. This old childhood longing determines their political "opinions" and speeches, which are therefore impervious to counter arguments. As long as they continue to ignore or distort the roots of the problem, which lie in the very real threats experienced in their childhood, reason must remain impotent against this kind of persecution complex. The unconscious compulsion to revenge repressed injuries is more powerful than all reason. That is the lesson that all tyrants teach us. One should not expect judiciousness from a mad person motivated by compulsive panic. One should, however, protect oneself from such a person.


An excerpt from a NY Times editorial on this whole sad crazy mess:

October 19, 2006
A Dangerous New Order
Once President Bush signed the new law on military tribunals, administration officials and Republican leaders in Congress wasted no time giving Americans a taste of the new order created by this unconstitutional act.

Within hours, Justice Department lawyers notified the federal courts that they no longer had the authority to hear pending lawsuits filed by attorneys on behalf of inmates of the penal camp at Guantánamo Bay. They cited passages in the bill that suspend the fundamental principle of habeas corpus, making Mr. Bush the first president since the Civil War to take that undemocratic step.

Not satisfied with having won the vote, Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, quickly issued a statement accusing Democrats who opposed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 of putting “their liberal agenda ahead of the security of America.” He said the Democrats “would gingerly pamper the terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives” and create “new rights for terrorists.”

This nonsense is part of the Republicans’ scare-America-first strategy for the elections. No Democrat advocated pampering terrorists — gingerly or otherwise — or giving them new rights.


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


SWAT team members serve warrants

Fathers should pay child support, wife-and-girl-friend-beaters should go to jail. No ifs or ands. They’re scum; like bigamists or fixers or bad check artists, telephone con-artists, you know: predators. People that should not be in the circle, but who need to be kept away from decent folks until they understand. Assuming they will.

OK. Now, back not too many years ago, when para-military SWAT teams first appeared in police departments, we were told they were for rare and extremely dangerous situations. Hostage scenes, terrorist attacks, that were likely to end in gunfire, violence. The SWAT teams received extra training and were subsidized by the federal government. They were serious people.

So, now, we’ve become so numb to things—like the militarization of daily life in America—we find stories like this one, where SWAT team members are used to serve warrants for domestic abuse. Commonplace, actually; like sub-machinegun-armed guards in airports. Only, it couldn’t have been too dangerous, because in many of the instances, regular cops did the job.

But SWAT teams are like heavy weapons: if you got them, you use them. Ho-hum, here come the storm troopers...


Hunting domestic violence offenders

Law agencies act in concert to serve warrants

Friday, October 20, 2006


Detective Pamela St. John pounds on the apartment door, and the tenant answers. He sounds groggy, as if he just woke up.

"Is Richard here?" St. John asks, holding a warrant for a domestic violence suspect who broke a court order.

It's 8:30 a.m. A drizzle taps the pavement outside. The tenant's reply isn't what the detectives hoped for. His friend isn't there: "He's out camping on the coast -- it's like a spiritual thing for him."

The brick Capitol Hill apartment building was one of several stops Thursday for the two detectives as they tracked domestic violence offenders sought by the law. All over Seattle, officers, detectives and SWAT team members worked to serve 168 outstanding warrants as part of the fourth annual National Family Violence Apprehension Detail.


Bush's Pants Go Up In Flames—Again

Would I ever suggest that Our President, George Bush, is a liar?

Yes. I know it's shocking. The truth is, he is a liar. Plainly and simply.

He was on "This Week" yesterday, and George Stephanopoulos asked him about James Baker’s statement that the U.S. was trying to find a course of action between getting the hell out of Iraq at one end, and trying to “stay the course” at the other end.

And...So. This is from Think Progress:

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the course. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course. [4/13/04]

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

From yesterday's TV program:

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George. We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Chair of Jt Chiefs of Staff: Rummy Inspired by God

Well, if you don’t have a barf bag handy, I recommend a trash can. Easy to rinse out and deodorize.

Top US general says Rumsfeld is inspired by God
Thu Oct 19, 3:35 PM ET

The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Rumsfeld is "a man whose patriotism focus, energy, drive, is exceeded by no one else I know ... quite simply, he works harder than anybody else in our building," Pace said at a ceremony at the Southern Command (Southcom) in Miami.

Rumsfeld has faced a storm of criticism and calls for his resignation, largely over his handling of the Iraq war.

But he got a strong show of support from the military establishment at Thursday's ceremony, where Navy Admiral James Stavridis took over Southcom's command from General Bantz Craddock.

"He comes to work everyday with a single-minded focus to make this country safe," said Stavridis who was a senior aide to Rumsfeld before taking on the Southcom job.

"We're lucky as a nation that he continues to serve with such passion and such integrity and such determination and such brilliance," said Stavridis, 51.

As head of Southcom, Stavridis will be responsible for military cooperation with Latin American countries, and will be in charge of the Guantanamo US military base in Cuba where more than 400 "war on terror" detainees are being held.

Craddock, who was named supreme commander of allied forces in Europe, hailed the role Southcom has played.

"Today I believe that we can say we were successful in our efforts and contributed to ensuring our nation's security through support on the global war on terror, and encouraged regional cooperation to enhance the security and stability in the region," he said.

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Gag Order In Detainee Abuse Case

How it works: You try somebody for a crime, but you don’t let the lawyers talk about the case, and if the defense lawyers are good, they get punished. Military justice is to justice, someone said, as military music is to music.,1,6134225.story?track=rss&ctrack=1&cset=true

Marine Corps Issues Gag Order in Detainee Abuse Case

The action has lawyers worrying they could be punished for defending Guantanamo clients.
By Carol J. Williams
Times Staff Writer

October 15, 2006

MIAMI — The U.S. Marine Corps has threatened to punish two members of the military legal team representing a terrorism suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay if they continue to speak publicly about reported prisoner abuse, a civilian lawyer from the defense team said Saturday.

The action directed at Lt. Col. Colby Vokey and Sgt. Heather Cerveny follows their report last week that Guantanamo guards bragged about beating detainees, said Muneer Ahmad, an American University law professor who assists in the defense of Canadian suspect Omar Khadr.

The order has heightened fears among the military defense lawyers for Guantanamo prisoners that their careers will suffer for exposing flaws and injustices in the system, Ahmad said.


Splitting Up Iraq A Good Idea?

Iraq was never a country until the Brits and French sat down and divvied up the spoils after World War One. It had been part of the Ottoman Empire for some years, but even before then, there was no “nation” there. There were, however, oil seeps… Tribes, villages, clans, nomads, empires had come and gone through the region, through the ages.

One thing that did happen, though, was that after a few years of occupation by the English, the “Iraqis” decided they didn’t like the situation and went into rebellion. They inflicted heavy casualties on the Brits. They eventually threw out their occupiers… But, it isn’t like there was ever a sense of national cohesion. Splitting the country up into semi-autonomous (but for how long will they remain “semi-autonomous”?) regions seems realistic. The Kurds are not Arabs; the Sunnis and the Shi’a have fought for centuries—even longer than various Christian sects have tried to kill off each other.

This may be a good thing—for now. It seems to me that may be all we can hope for: just ease things up, somewhat. Maybe. We hope...

Parliament Approves Measure Allowing Autonomous Regions

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2006; A21

BAGHDAD, Oct. 11 -- Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial law that will allow Iraq to be carved into a federation of autonomous regions, after Sunni Arabs and some Shiite Muslims stormed out of the session in protest.

The bill passed the 275-member parliament by a vote of 141 to 0, despite a nearly successful attempt by opponents to prevent a quorum by walking out, said Mohanned Abdul Jabbar, an aide to parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani.

The measure, introduced by a powerful Shiite group last month, creates a mechanism that many believe will lead to a predominantly Shiite zone in southern Iraq that would parallel the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north. Sunnis vehemently oppose such a division, which would leave them with an area in central Iraq that lacks the vast oil wealth of the north and south.

Under a compromise worked out two weeks ago, the bill includes a provision that prevents the formation of federal regions for 18 months. In exchange for that delay and the creation of a panel to review the constitution, the Sunnis agreed to call off a boycott that had prevented the federalism bill from being introduced.

Although the principle of federalism is enshrined in the constitution, the law passed by parliament is the first to set up a system that will allow provinces in 2008 to merge into autonomous regions.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company


Portland Oregon Police Kill Crazy Man; Exonerated

I lived in Portland, OR, for some years. During that time there were several killings by police; as I remember, the cops were exonerated in every single one.

One of the most outrageous was a few years ago, when a marginally-Spanish-speaking Maya Indian, with emotional problems, was shot down while he was in a “mental health” facility. There were no cops on duty who had training in mental health interventions; nobody, in fact, who even spoke Spanish.

Now, a few weeks ago, a mentally disturbed man was busted by the Portland P.D., roughed up, and died. The EMTs who came on the scene swore up and down the man was fine when they arrived; in fact, he was so fine, he couldn’t sign off on a waver about going to the hospital. However, his chest was crushed. Why would the EMTs sign off on a dying man? Because the EMTs don’t want to get on the bad side of the police; they often need police officers to cover their backs, and if they ever ratted on the cops for abusing drunks or crazies, their lives would be exceedingly dangerous. You scratch my back, and I’ll cover your’s…

This whole business is a farce.

Grand jury finds no criminal wrongdoing in Oregon man's death
10/17/2006, 3:48 p.m. PT
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A grand jury has cleared the police in the death of a 42-year-old man whose ribs were broken in 26 places when officers subdued him.

James Chasse, who suffered from schizophrenia, died Sept. 17.

Officers said they spotted Chasse on a Pearl District street and said he appeared to be on drugs or have a mental disorder. One thought Chasse may have been urinating in the street, police said.

Chasse ran when the police arrived, and a chase ensued.

Witnesses said officers knocked Chasse to the pavement. They said officers then landed on top of him, kicked him and placed a Taser gun to his torso.

A seven-member grand jury ruled unanimously Tuesday that it found no criminal wrongdoing.

An autopsy showed he had 26 breaks in 16 ribs, some of which punctured his left lung and caused massive internal bleeding. He also had multiple bruises and cuts on his head, chest and abdomen.

One of the 30 witnesses called was William Brady, a former state medical examiner who now has a pathology practice and often testifies on behalf of the defense. Chasse's family requested that he be called to testify.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Threats to Hispanics About Voting

Racism, of course, is as American as, well, American History. From the first kidnappings of Indians to be slaves, to the massive importation of Africans, the war with Mexico and it’s accompanying propaganda about the little brown people down there, to the anti-Asian laws on our West Coast, Jim Crow laws, the Klan, protests against “boat people,” to the current hysteria over “illegal immigrants,” it’s all about keeping American white and Anglo-Saxon.

Note warns Calif. Hispanics on voting
10/17/2006, 10:05 a.m. PT
The Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — The state attorney general's office is investigating a letter received by some Southern California Hispanics that says it is a crime for immigrants to vote and tells them they could be jailed or deported if they go to the polls next month.

"It's a very malicious and degrading letter. It's to pull Latinos down and make them afraid," said Benny Diaz, who is running for City Council in Garden Grove. He said his wife and five other people he knows had received the letter.

The letter, written in Spanish, tells recipients: "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."

The truth is that immigrants who become naturalized citizens can legally register to vote.


Gee, I'm Sorry To Hear This...

Once in a while, you just have to stop and smell the irony of it all...

Hells Angel says he feels shunned
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | 8:33 AM PT
CBC News
The president of the Vancouver chapter of the Hells Angels says people have been rude to him and his feelings have been hurt since the group was ruled a criminal organization by an Ontario judge last year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


More Domestic Spying by Military

Today seems like a glum day: too much news on my desktop about Homeland Security kinds of stuff. Not really about making us secure, it’s really all about securing the power of The Party. The more eyes are on people, the less likely they are to complain about things; and once the ballot box is neutralized, it’s all over.

The Arizona Daily Star
Published: 10.13.2006
Pentagon shows anti-war database's scope

WASHINGTON — Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department's collection of information on nationwide demonstrations last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as "potential terrorist activity" events like a "Stop the War Now" rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.
The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat.

Maj. Patrick Ryder, a department spokesman, said Thursday that the "questionable data collection" had led to a tightening of military procedures to ensure that only information relevant to terrorism and other threats was collected. Ryder said in response to the release of the documents that the department "views with great concern any potential violation" of the policy.

"There is nothing more important or integral to the effectiveness of the U.S. military than the trust and good will of the American people," Ryder said.

A document first disclosed last December by NBC News showed that the military had maintained a database, known as Talon, containing information about more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" around the country in 2004 and 2005.

Dozens of alerts on anti-war meetings and peaceful protests appear to have remained in the database even after analysts had decided that they posed no threat to military bases or personnel.

Some documents obtained by the ACLU referred to the potential for disruption to military recruiting and the threat posed to military personnel as a result.

An internal report produced in May 2005, for instance, discussed war protests at the University of California-Santa Cruz, and was issued "to clarify why the Students for Peace and Justice represent a potential threat to DOD personnel."

The memorandum noted that several hundred students had recently protested the presence of military recruiters at a career fair and demanded that they leave.

"The clear purpose of these civil disobedience actions was to disrupt the recruiting mission of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command by blocking the entrance to the recruiting station and causing the stations to shut down early," it said.

But the document also noted that "to date, no reported incidents have occurred at these protests."

The documents indicated that intelligence reports and tips about war protests, including mundane details like the schedule for weekly planning meetings, were widely shared among analysts from the military, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

"There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies," said Ben Wizner, an ACLU lawyer.

Joyce Miller, an official with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that learned that information on some of its war protests was in the military database, said she found the operation to be a "chilling" and troubling trend.

All content copyright © 1999-2006 AzStarNet, Arizona Daily Star


Sealing The Borders, Act II

The militarization of our society—and of our nation—continues. There’s more and more observation and military stuff going on here at home. The borders are watched. I remember during WW 2 when there were forts along the coastline and patrols up and down the beaches; that can’t be far from being done again. Aerial observation of our northern border, fences and soldiers along our southern border—this would be a good time to buy stock in the companies that make concertina wire…

A question: is the surveillance of the Canadian-American border to keep people out, or is it to keep us in?

U.S. begins air patrols on Montana-Alberta border
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | 12:52 AM ET
CBC News
U.S. Department of Homeland Security opened its third air surveillance base near Canada on Monday, furthering eroding claims the shared border is the longest undefended one in the world.

The Great Falls Air Branch in Montana will patrol the shared border with Alberta. When fully staffed, the operation run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is expected to consist of 52 federal law enforcement officers, pilots, aircrew and support personnel.

Dennis Lindsay, the director of air operations at the branch, said it will conduct regular patrols and be able to respond quickly to any incidents.

"We're here because we see a vulnerability along the northern border," said Lindsay. "We want to make sure we're doing everything within our power to counter that vulnerability and close it up."

The branch's fleet includes two Blackhawk helicopters and three additional aircraft equipped with highly sensitive radar and infrared cameras. Plans call for unmanned drones in the future.

Juan Munoz Torres of Homeland Security said the higher security is a new reality both countries must get used to.

"I understand the concerns some Canadians have," said Munoz Torres. "However we have to understand we are not playing the same game we were playing before September 11th."

"We are here to stay," he added.

The air branch joins those in Bellingham, Washington, and Plattsburgh, N.Y. Two more bases are slated to open next year, in Detroit and Grand Forks, N.D.


I Hear Them Jackboots Marching

So, obviously, the government is closing watching the web, and would like the police to do it, too. Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Terror—er, Security, says that the web could be a training camp for terrorists right here in America. It’ll be interesting to see if the man ever says something about books; probably not: censorship only aims at the “hottest” media of the moment. But, well, the government already checks our library records, expenses, light bills, eating habits, demonstrations we go to… So, perhaps a database of the disaffected who "might" do "something." Never mind what, just something. What the hell, huge databases are easy, anymore.

It’s about control and power. The more control they have, the more they experience power. Kind of like a rapist: the control over a woman’s body is perceived by the rapist as power. That’s also like the ccntrol the fundamentalists want over a woman’s body. Control leads to power, as the authoritarians perceive it. They don’t understand there’s another form of power that has absolutely nothing to do with control. That’s the kind of power that’s real; the other is just illusion.


Web could be terror training camp in U.S., politician says
Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:49 PM ET

BOSTON (Reuters) - Disaffected people living in the United States may develop radical ideologies and potentially violent skills over the Internet and that could present the next major U.S. security threat, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Monday.

"We now have a capability of someone to radicalize themselves over the Internet," Chertoff said on the sidelines of a meeting of International Association of the Chiefs of Police.

"They can train themselves over the Internet. They never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else and that diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination," Chertoff said. "Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites."

Chertoff pointed to the July 7, 2005 attacks on London's transit system, which killed 56 people, as an example a home-grown threat.

To help gather intelligence on possible home-grown attackers, Chertoff said Homeland Security would deploy 20 field agents this fiscal year into "intelligence fusion centers," where they would work with local police agencies.

By the end of the next fiscal year, he said the department aims to up that to 35 staffers.

© Reuters 2006.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Fake Diplomas Used By Government Workers

The Ruling Party has made a lot of noice about “Values.” It’s worked for them rather well. But the trouble with any schtick is that there’s a point where it won’t work anymore. Sometimes people are tired of it, other times it’s because it’s shown to be fraudulent. I think the latter is what’s been happening in Washington, lately. The whole business about traditional and family values is like a movie set: all front and no substance. Eventually, a wind comes along and blows down the whole damn' thing.

Lawyer: Gov't workers got fake diplomas;_ylt=Aj9jwTGhAVIyCvlnEn2BccF2wPIE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MXN1bHE0BHNlYwN0bWE-
Thu Oct 12, 11:31 AM ET

At least 135 federal employees, including a White House staff member and National Security Agency employees, bought bogus online college degrees from a diploma mill, a lawyer in the case against the mill operators said.

Some of those who paid thousands of dollars for phony diplomas include a senior State Department employee in Kuwait and a Department of Justice employee in Spokane, defense lawyer Peter S. Schweda said Wednesday.


AZ Lawmaker Plays Race Card

The way Republican candidates for office—and officeholders—use racial issues is so common, one suspects a word-of-mouth effort to get the word out to the Party Faithful: “Bring up race when you speak—but be careful.” It just happens too often to be coincidence. It’s effective, though: it got Richard Nixon elected and it brought the white south into the Republican Party.

A candidate for Oregon governor, Ron Saxon, has been harping on illegal immigration for months; we know about George Allen and Conrad Burns. Here’s a dude down in the AZ legislature, who wants to roll back the clock about fifty years.

Oct 12, 4:44 AM EDT

Ariz. Lawmaker Under Fire for E-Mail
Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX (AP) -- A state lawmaker who wants to reinstate a 1950s federal deportation program known as "Operation Wetback" is under fire again for sending supporters information from a white separatist group.

Republican Rep. Russell Pearce has apologized for e-mailing the article from the West Virginia-based National Alliance. But that hasn't stopped criticism from all directions, including state GOP leaders.

Arizona Republican Chairman Matt Salmon called the e-mail a "severe mistake," while U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth says he no longer supports Pearce's re-election bid.

"Given the regrettable and disturbing nature of the e-mail Russell Pearce circulated earlier this week, I cannot in good conscience lend my endorsement to his candidacy for State Representative," Hayworth said in a statement.

The article lashes out at how the media portrays "any racially conscious White person who looks askance at miscegenation or at the rapidly darkening racial situation in America."

It says the "media masters" force on the public their view of "a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish 'Holocaust' tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders ... ."

Pearce said he immediately sent two apologies to supporters after forwarding the article. He said he did not know what the group was and that he had not read the entire article before copying it into his e-mail.

"My heart is really hurt to think something like that would go out under my name," Pearce said Tuesday. "I was very embarrassed I didn't have better diligence and read the whole article."

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano said Pearce's remarks show "an accelerating pattern" of extremism.

In a radio interview last month, Pearce called for the revival of the 1950s deportation program for illegal immigrants. He refused to apologize for using the pejorative term "wetback."

"I think it's becoming clear that Russell Pearce is out of the mainstream of Arizona," Napolitano said Wednesday. "He doesn't speak for Arizonans. He's so far to the right that his contribution to public discourse is limited."

Bill Straus, director of the Anti-Defamation League's Arizona Region, told the East Valley Tribune he was surprised that Pearce, one of the GOP's leading voices in the state on immigration issues, did not immediately recognize the National Alliance or its National Vanguard publication.

Strauss said he does not think Pearce shares the beliefs espoused in the article and said the lawmaker called him to apologize about it.

Tammie Pursley, Pearce's Democratic opponent, called the e-mail "just another layer of divisiveness" from Pearce and said she was concerned a political leader was not more careful about what he sent.

Pearce did not return an e-mail or calls from The Associated Press to his office and home Wednesday. A secretary at his office said he was busy at meetings all day.

© 2006 The Associated Press.


Norquist: Another Abramoff Collaborator?

The avalanche that seems to be sweeping the Republican Party toward the abyss continues to pick up momentum—and players. There is that old saying, remember, about the pride that goes before the fall. That seems to be what’s happened to the GOP: they became so prideful and arrogant they figured they could get away with just about whatever it was they wanted. They’ve been, for most of my lifetime, anyhow, a party of ambitious cars salesmen, promoters, and grifters. I’m not saying the Democrats are much better (corrupt labor leaders, big city machine politics, and well-placed bribes), I want to say. We have to be fair.

Right now, the Republicans are in power and have been in power for a long time. Even when Clinton was president, the Republicans were in power. Power corrupts.

The main reason people like Grover Norquist want government to shrink is so he and his pals can make more money. That’s all. It has nothing to do with political theory or history, or anything—except greed.

Report Says Nonprofits Sold Influence to Abramoff
By James V. Grimaldi and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 13, 2006; 1:32 AM

Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "appear to have perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued yesterday.

The report includes previously unreleased e-mails between the now-disgraced lobbyist and officers of the nonprofit groups, showing that Abramoff funneled money from his clients to the groups. In exchange, the groups, among other things, produced ostensibly independent newspaper op-ed columns or news releases that favored the clients' positions.

Officers of the groups "were generally available to carry out Mr. Abramoff's requests for help with his clients in exchange for cash payments," said the report, issued by the Senate Finance Committee. The report was written by the Democratic staff after a yearlong investigation and authorized by the Republican chairman, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

Abramoff has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy and could go to prison as early as next month. Prosecution and defense lawyers jointly filed papers yesterday asking a judge to recommend that he be sent to a federal facility in Cumberland, Md., to make it easier for him to cooperate with the ongoing probe. The investigation has resulted in one conviction and seven guilty pleas -- including one from a lawmaker, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), who is to appear today before a federal judge in the District.

The Senate report released yesterday states that the nonprofit groups probably violated their tax-exempt status "by laundering payments and then disbursing funds at Mr. Abramoff's direction; taking payments in exchange for writing newspaper columns or press releases that put Mr. Abramoff's clients in a favorable light; introducing Mr. Abramoff's clients to government officials in exchange for payment; and agreeing to act as a front organization for congressional trips paid for by Mr. Abramoff's clients."

The report bolstered earlier revelations that Abramoff laundered money through the nonprofits to pay for congressional trips and paid Norquist to arrange meetings for Abramoff's clients with government officials including White House senior adviser Karl Rove.

The groups named in the report are Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, which was co-founded by Norquist and Gale Norton before she became secretary of the interior; Citizens Against Government Waste; the National Center for Public Policy Research, a spinoff of the Heritage Foundation; and Toward Tradition, a Seattle-based religious group founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

E-mails released by the committee show that Abramoff, often with the knowledge of the groups' leaders, exploited the tax-exempt status and leveraged the stature of the organizations to build support among conservatives for legislation or government action sought by clients including Microsoft Corp., mutual fund company DH2 Inc., Primedia Inc.'s Channel One Network, and Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey.

A spokesman for Norquist, John Kartch, called the report "political nonsense" pushed by Democrats close to the midterm elections.

Norquist's attorney, Cleta Mitchell, had told the Senate panel that, as long as Americans for Tax Reform spends funds in keeping with its general purpose, "there is no 'abuse' of ATR's tax status." Officials with the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy denied wrongdoing. Citizens Against Government Waste said the group did not abuse its tax status and always adhered to long-held positions.

Amy Ridenour of the National Center acknowledged in an interview with investigators that donations can have some sway with think tanks but denied that they were made in exchange for positions.

Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), the Finance Committee's ranking Democrat, called on the IRS and the FBI to investigate. "These groups' dealings with Jack Abramoff certainly violated the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the laws that give charitable and social welfare organizations a break for the good work they're supposed to do," Baucus said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Grassley said the chairman did not co-write the report because he had hoped it would include a broader range of groups that he believes also breached their tax status. A Baucus aide said the Democratic staff did not object to a broader review.

The Abramoff scandal has bruised the image of Norquist, a friend of Abramoff's since their days in the College Republicans. Often consulted by Rove, Norquist for decades has convened a key Wednesday morning strategy session for conservative leaders, lobbyists and Republican lawmakers.

Abramoff traded on Norquist's cachet, at one point referring to him in an e-mail as a "hard-won asset" of his lobbying empire. In exchange for Norquist's opposition to taxes on Brown-Forman products, Norquist recommended that a $50,000 donation be made to Americans for Tax Reform, according to an Abramoff e-mail.

"What is most important, however, is that this matter is kept discreet," Abramoff wrote to a colleague at the Preston, Gates & Ellis law firm. "We do not want the opponents to think that we are trying to buy the taxpayer movement."

The e-mails show that Abramoff and Norquist explicitly discussed client donations to Norquist's group in exchange for Norquist's support. The group's advocacy "appears indistinguishable from lobbying undertaken by for-profit, taxable firms," the report said.

Among those who agreed to donate money for an opinion piece was DH2, which in 2004 pushed for tax breaks for its customers.

E-mails show that DH2 understood that Norquist's help came with a price tag. The tab was sent to DH2's managing director, Robert S. Rubin.

"I told Rubin he needs to round up some $$$ for ATR," wrote lobbyist Michael E. Williams to his boss, Abramoff.

"Get the money from Rubin in hand," Abramoff replied, "and then we'll call Grover."

How much, Williams asked.

"50K," Abramoff wrote.

Abramoff e-mailed Norquist on Feb. 10, 2004: "I have sent over a $50K contribution from DH2 (the mutual fund client). Any sense as to where we are on the op-ed placement?"

Replied Norquist: "The Wash Times told me they were running the piece. . . . I will nudge again."

The Washington Times has published about 50 Norquist op-eds since 1993 but apparently none on mutual funds. Norquist did write a letter in April 2004 to a congressman praising him for sponsoring "legislation that would finally allow mutual fund shareholders to defer their capital gains tax" and pledging that his group "is committed to helping you pass this legislation."

Norquist wrote an op-ed piece, published in the Washington Times, as part of an extensive Abramoff campaign for Channel One, which broadcasts educational programming and advertising into public school classrooms. An Abramoff e-mail to Norquist offered him $1,500 for an op-ed, and another e-mail exchange suggested up to $3,000 to buy an "economic analysis."

The Council for Republican Environmental Advocacy, founded by Norquist and Norton, who resigned as interior secretary earlier this year, also appeared to have been used "as an extension of Mr. Abramoff's lobbying organization," the report said.

Abramoff directed his client Indian tribes to donate a total of about $500,000 to the group, telling them that the donation was a way to cultivate Norton at the Interior Department, which oversees the tribes and their casinos. E-mails show that Abramoff told the tribes that they would be CREA's "trustees" and that Norton would "host" a series of CREA dinners. Interior Department documents obtained by The Washington Post suggest that Norton was an invited guest at a CREA dinner, not a host.

Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Friday, October 13, 2006


High Fashion At The White House News Conference...

When I read this, I understood why the White House Press Corps hasn’t exactly done their jobs. They’re too busy trying to out-fashion each other. When reporters wear $1,500 suits, you know they aren’t going to take any chances about getting dirt on them…Still, they did manage to bug Georgy-boy.

Retreating to Small Talk When the News Isn't So Good

By Dana Milbank
Thursday, October 12, 2006; A02

President Bush needed to change the subject.

"If I might say, that is a beautiful suit," he told NBC News correspondent Kevin Corke at yesterday's news conference in the Rose Garden.

"My tailor appreciates that," replied Corke, wearing a $1,500 custom pinstripe number by Tom James with bright-red tie and pocket square.

"And I can't see anybody else who even comes close," Bush added, drawing laughs from the assembled scribes in wrinkled navy blazers.

Then the president spied CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, pointing at her Benetton suit with pink pinstripes. "Suzanne, I take that back," Bush amended with chivalry. Moments later he bestowed on her the day's "best-dressed" honors.

"Kevin and I coordinated," she explained.

CBS News's Jim Axelrod was feeling left out. "My best suit's in the cleaners," he told the commander in chief.

Bush eyed Axelrod's slacks with disdain. "That's not even a suit," he said, before chalking up the whole thing to "high-priced news guys."

It was about the only fun Bush had all morning. North Korea is exploding, Iraq is imploding, and congressional Republicans are self-destructing. Reporters weren't about to let the president forget about that, even if he looked natty in his gray suit and dark-blue tie.

"Do you ever feel like the walls are closing in on you?" Axelrod tormented.

Bret Baier of Fox News asked Bush about "the tide turning, according to several polls, towards the Democrats."

USA Today's David Jackson noted the "shelf full of books" about Iraq and their claims that "administration policies contributed to the difficulties there."

"There's a lot of books out there -- a lot," the president agreed. "I guess it means that I've made some hard decisions."

Actually, the books say he and his aides made a lot of bad decisions: too few troops in Iraq, no reconstruction plan, ignored insurgency warnings, and keeping Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon while pushing Colin Powell out of the State Department.

The underdressed reporters peppered Bush with 15 questions about Iraq and North Korea; only near the end did the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva mention some guy named Foley. Pressed to defend his foreign policy, Bush instead cited the "stakes" involved in the Middle East and North Korea -- 13 times.

"I understand the stakes," Bush announced. "I'm going to repeat them one more time. As a matter of fact, I'm going to spend a lot of time repeating the stakes."

He made good on that promise. Five times he said "the stakes are high," occasionally adding that "the stakes are really high" and even that, "as a matter of fact, they couldn't be higher."

"I know this sounds [as if] I'm just saying it over and over again," Bush admitted. But repetition is crucial to learning; to that end, Bush also said four times that the enemy is trying to establish a "caliphate."

Dissatisfied with the reporters' prickly questions, Bush went about answering his own. He said abandoning Iraq would allow terrorists to launch new attacks on America. "How do I know that would happen?" Bush asked himself. "Because that's what the enemy has told us," he answered.

When a questioner asked about the credibility of the administration's threats toward North Korea, Bush said: "I thought you were going to ask . . . 'How come you didn't use military action?' " Bush then replied: "My answer is that I believe the commander in chief must try all diplomatic measures."

"I'll ask myself a follow-up," Bush continued. "If that's the case, why did you use military action in Iraq?" His answer to himself: "Because we tried the diplomacy."

It's dicey for a president to hold a news conference when his support is below 40 percent and there is little good news to share. Bush started off by pointing out that the federal budget deficit has been shrinking faster than expected. But his questioners, perhaps heeding Vice President Cheney's admonition that "deficits don't matter," didn't ask any questions on the subject.

The president's opening statement, though heavily qualified, contained some of his trademark sanguinity: "We're on the move. We're taking action. . . . We accomplished that mission."

But the mood darkened when the first questioner asked "is your administration to blame" for North Korea's getting nuclear weapons. On cue, a sudden breeze sent willow leaves fluttering onto the party.

No, Bush answered, the Clinton administration is to blame.

This provoked a challenge from ABC News's Martha Raddatz. "How can you say your policy is more successful, given that North Korea has apparently tested a nuclear weapon?" she asked.

Off to the side sat four Bush aides who had been with him through his entire presidency: Josh Bolten, Karl Rove, Steve Hadley and Dan Bartlett. Grayer and thinner on top than they were six years ago, they watched expressionlessly as Bush entered with a spring in his step and a wave to the cameras, then as he left an hour later with less good cheer.

"Thank you for your interest," the president said curtly, skipping the usual pleasantries. As he walked back into the Oval Office, he shot a glance in the direction of his aides that showed he was not pleased.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company


Marijuana Forests Creating Problems for Canadian Troops

So, the more things change, the crazier they get. The news that Afghanistan is the leadiing producer of opium was bad enough—although I guess for some folks that’s good news… But “forests” of marijuana plants? This is a country that has, historically, defeated each and every invader. If I remember right, it was also a stronghold of the Assassins. Hmm.


Canada troops battle 10-ft Afghan marijuana plants
Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:09 PM BST

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.

General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.

"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.

"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hiller said dryly.

One soldier told him later: "Sir, three years ago before I joined the army, I never thought I'd say 'That damn marijuana'."

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Death Squads: Salvador, Iraq, Where Next?

When John Negroponte found a spot in the occupation of Iraq, many of us shuddered, remembering what he’s done in Salvador. Now that he’s in charge of national security here, many more of us are shuddering. Between the death squads and the Patriot Act and Bush’s theory of unlimited presidential power, it’s about time to start looking out for big SUV’s with heavily tined windows….

[I don't know where I found the following post, but it's worth reposting. Apologies to anyone who wrote it...]

How's That Working Out For Ya'?

In 2005 the Salvadoran Option sounded like such a good idea:

Now, Newsweek has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek.

Now, not so much:

It is akin to ethnic cleansing when men in a gas station queue can be grilled about their sectarian beliefs and removed as a result. When police commandos can enter your house in the middle of night, haul you off and the next your family knows, you're dead on the street. That can be factions within the government. Sometimes it's associated militias donning those uniforms for that night. U.S. military intelligence talks about ministries renting out their vehicles to death squads for the evening. It's also Sunni insurgents putting on military uniforms. Everybody is in this game, so to speak.
How's That Working Out For Ya'?


Hatchery Salmon Not The Same As Wild Salmon

Our Republican Congressman, Greg Walden, is the co-sponsor of a bill to “reform” the Endangered Species Act. His fellow sponsor is a California sharpie named Richard Pombo, a friend of Jack Abramoff. One of the things the so-called reform would accomplish would be to allow ranchers and loggers, miners, subdividers, whoever, to argue that whatever plunder-plan they have is more important than some endangered species.

The powers-that-be, of course, love the idea: the more extraction and exploitation the better.

One of the on-going struggles is the survival of wild salmon. You know the grim statistics of wild salmon survival; if they were a race of people what’s happened to them would be prosecuted as genocide. The anti-wild salmon people would have us believe that “farm raised” salmon, and hatchery stock, are as good as the real thing. They aren’t. We know that the farm salmon are dyed red, because their diets are inadequate; where there are salmon farms, the wild runs are infected with sea lice and various diseases, and dead zones are created around the fish pens. The hatchery fish, that are dumped by the millions into northwest waterways, don’t know how to breed, according to this article. Their genes don’t seem to encompass reproductive powers. This means, then, that to keep depending on hatchery salmon is to get more and more caught up in producing dumb weak salmon. We got to stop this craziness. Somehow.

Flaw limits captive fish, study says
The finding on poor breeding potential answers a key point in the salmon debate
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Oregonian
Hatchery-bred fish have long sliced through Northwest rivers along with wild fish, raising the question: What's the difference?

An intensive study of steelhead in the Hood River has verified the difference. Fish bred for generations in hatcheries do little besides fill fishing nets, because they have slim hope of producing young that reach adulthood.

The finding, by Oregon State University and federal researchers, stands out because the difference between hatchery and wild fish lies at the center of debates over salmon in the Northwest, where more than a half-billion dollars annually goes to efforts for the recovery of the fish. While many scientists contend wild fish are vital to the future of their species, other groups argue that wild fish do not need protection if hatchery fish are plentiful.

Hatchery fish abound in the Columbia River system, and the research confirms that captive fish lose the instincts and other traits that let wild fish thrive.

Typical hatchery steelhead produced 60 percent to 90 percent fewer offspring that last long enough to become adults than wild steelhead, according to the OSU study just published in the journal Conservation Biology.

By breeding fish over and over in hatcheries, "we've essentially created a fish version of white lab mice," said Michael Blouin, an associate professor of zoology at Oregon State. "They are well adapted to life in the hatchery but do not perpetuate themselves in a wild environment as successfully as native-born fish."

The study shows that the longer fish spend in hatcheries, the poorer they will do in the wild, Blouin said.

Nine of every 10 hatchery programs in the Northwest turn out captive-bred fish that threaten to mix with wild fish, spreading their inferior traits.

"They certainly don't do well in the wild and can have significant detrimental effects on wild fish," said Rod French, a district fish biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife who is familiar with the study.

Biologists said the results may bear out with other species, among them coho salmon.

The good news is the study also found that much better results come from the newer strategy of taking eggs from local wild fish, hatching and raising the young in captivity, and then turning them loose.

The strategy attempts to protect the fish during their most vulnerable age but set them free before they morph into creatures of captivity. The study found that these fish do about as well, or possibly better, than wild fish when it comes to producing offspring.

It means the few hatcheries that have adopted the "supplementation" approach can boost wild fish populations without diluting their fitness.

Hatcheries increasingly are shifting to the new supplementation strategy, especially where they are trying to resurrect salmon species that are sinking toward extinction.

Fish factories

Far more hatcheries serve as fish factories, using salmon stocks bred in captivity to churn out large numbers for fishermen to catch. Many were built to stand in for important commercial salmon runs lost to dams built on the Columbia and other rivers.

Fish turned out of those hatcheries are not meant to recover the populations, but biologists have grown increasingly concerned that they also may compete with and interbreed with wild fish.

The new study looked only at steelhead that in the past 15 years have returned from the ocean to the Hood River.

The river was long stocked with domesticated hatchery fish from other parts of Oregon and Washington. In the 1990s, state biologists phased out that stocking program and instead switched to the new supplementation approach that hatches wild fish in captivity and then releases them.

State biologists collected and saved scales from fish swimming up the river since 1991. OSU scientists obtained DNA from the scales, which allowed them to trace the history of each fish and determine whether it was wild or came from a hatchery.

Faring poorly

The results showed that domesticated hatchery fish in 1991 fared very poorly compared to wild fish, but the fish kept only briefly in the Parkdale fish hatchery did about as well as wild fish.

It makes clear that traditional hatchery fish will not rebuild wild populations, said Mark Chilcote, a conservation biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But the fish held briefly in hatcheries can help.

However, biologists caution that it is not clear whether they can hold successive generations of fish in hatcheries the same way without altering their character. Other studies suggest that hatchery fish lose about 20 percent of their fitness each generation they spend in a hatchery compared to wild fish.

Jim Lichatowich, a fisheries biologist and critic of hatcheries, said the findings are good news because it suggests a method of boosting wild populations, at least briefly. But he cautioned against viewing it as a cure-all because salmon also need healthy habitat.

Michael Milstein: 503-294-7689;

©2006 The Oregonian


Bush: So Unsophisticated He Just Can't Talk Like Them Democrats...

Poor George Bush: he just doesn’t have as sophisticated a vocabulary than those elitist Democrats. I mean, he had to go to Harvard and Yale, after all, and he’s just a pore Texass boy, couldn’t larn all them fancy east coast words…

The folksier he gets, the more nauseated we become. I guess he appeals to those West Texas folks, the poor-whites of east Texas, the high-school drops outs from the rust belt, and those folks he identifies with (huh?).

Bush: 'Cut and run' rhetoric result of less 'sophisticated vocabulary'
10/11/2006 @ 2:41 pm
Filed by RAW STORY
United States President George W. Bush today claimed that a less "sophisticated vocabulary" than that used by Democrats justified his characterization of their Iraq policy as "cut and run."

Bush made the comments at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden this morning.

A transcript of the exchange follows:

QUESTION: One of the things Democrats complain about it is the way you portray their position –

BUSH : Oh, really?

QUESTION: – in wanting to fight the war on terror. They would say you portray it as either they support exactly what you want to do or they want to do nothing.

BUSH : Hmm.

QUESTION: We hear it in some of your speeches. Is it fair to portray it to the American people that way?

BUSH : Well, I think it's fair to use the words of people in Congress or their votes. [Laughs.] The vote was on the – on the Hamdan legislation, do you want to continue a program that enabled us to interrogate folks or not?

And all I was doing was reciting the votes. I – I – I would – I would cite my opponent in the 2004 campaign when he said there needs to be a date certain from which to withdraw from Iraq. I characterize that as cut-and-run because I believe it is cut and run. In other words, I've been using their votes or their words to characterize their positions.

QUESTION: But they don't say "cut and run."

BUSH : Well, they may not use "cut and run," but they say "date certain" as to when to get out before the job is done. That is cut and run. You know, I – nobody's accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary. I understand that. And maybe their – their words are more sophisticated than mine, but when you pull out before the job is done, that's cut and run as far as I'm concerned. And that's cut and run as far as most Americans are concerned.

And so yeah, I'm going to continue reminding them of their words and their votes.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The Truth About Naked Prosecutors!

Is this a true story? Yes.

Police: Camera Catches Prosecutor Naked

Email this Story

Oct 10, 5:10 PM (ET)

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) - A security camera caught a city prosecutor walking around naked in a government building after business hours, authorities said.

Scott Blauvelt, 35, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of public indecency. He was released from the Butler County jail and is awaiting a hearing in Hamilton Municipal Court, where he usually works, sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer said.

A guard monitoring a security camera spotted a nude man investigators identified as Blauvelt in a building that houses county offices Thursday night, Dwyer said. The night before, security video had captured Blauvelt naked in another area of the building, where city offices are located, he said.

Dwyer said investigators don't know why Blauvelt, who was alone, wasn't wearing clothes. The indecency charge carries a sentence of up to a month in jail and $250 fine if convicted.

Mayor Don Ryan said he planned to meet with the city law director Tuesday to talk about Blauvelt's employment status.

Blauvelt also has served as assistant county prosecutor and a defense lawyer.

Blauvelt's lawyer, Michael Gmoser, did not immediately return a call from The Cincinnati Enquirer seeking comment.

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