Saturday, August 09, 2008

Investigating in the Middle East

By Carol Gee

Difficult to discover -- It is a long way from the United States to the Middle East. The Middle East can be a very dangerous place for fact-finders. Fortunately for us, investigative journalists persist in trying to ascertain what is actually happening in the region.

These authors did considerable investigation resulting in several contrasting elements -- wonderfully personal stories of soldiers and their families, detailed facts and figures about the war termed Operation Enduring Freedom, and trends in the current Afghan war situation. The story is worth reading for a number of reasons. "500: Deadly U.S. Milestone in Afghan War," is the sad Memeorandum headline from the New York Times. To quote from the article (By KIRK SEMPLE and ANDREW W. LEHREN. Published: August 6, 2008):

. . . in June, the war in Afghanistan roared back into public view when American deaths from hostilities exceeded those in Iraq. In the face of an expanding threat from the Taliban, the conflict is becoming deadlier and much more violent for American troops, who three weeks ago reached their highest deployment levels ever, at 36,000.

June was the second deadliest month for the military in Afghanistan since the war began, with 23 American deaths from hostilities, compared with 22 in Iraq. July was less deadly, with 20 deaths, compared with six in Iraq. On July 22, nearly seven years after the conflict began on Oct. 7, 2001, the United States lost its 500th soldier in the Afghanistan war.

Trusted Middle East expert, Juan Cole of Informed Comment has been investigating the latest news from the region and gives us some of his useful (and alarming) discovery and analysis. The Iraqi Parliament adjourned for several weeks with "no provincial election law." The Arabs are threatening violence over the issue of Kirkuk. Quoting further,

The sticking point was finding an acceptable formula for holding the elections in the mixed province of Kirkuk, which is being fought over by Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs. The failure to pass the law makes it virtually impossible to hold provincial elections in 2008.

. . . Even more alarming than the Iraqi parliament's inability to arrange for provincial elections to be held over 2 years after they were first scheduled is the reason for the failure. The debate on provincial elections has revealed that the Kirkuk dispute is a volcano about to blow, and that ordinary liberal institutions of debate and compromise seem helpless before the ethno-nationalist passions boiling there. Resolving Kirkuk is not only key to social peace in northern Iraq but also in the entire eastern Mediterranean.

"State IG to probe a deal between a Texas oil firm and Iraqi Kurds," is an article taken from TPM Muckraker, known for its investigative journalism. The story goes on to quote the details of Texas' Hunt Oil Company's deal with the Kurds from the New York Times. To quote the opening :

Publicly, the U.S. State Department said it was discouraging U.S. oil companies from forging deals with Iraqi Kurds last year.

But privately, Bush administration officials may have sent different signals.

Now the State Department's Inspector General has launched an investigation into what exactly was said to whom.

Adding unique insight into a high profile expose' -- Also from Informed Comment comes additional details from Professor Cole regarding the Ron Suskind book, "The Way of the World." The book's author discloses further details about an allegedly forged Abu Nidal letter used to make the case for the war in Iraq. Cole's post is particularly valuable as it brings in facts usually known principally in the ME region.

McClatchy has the best -- Frequently Professor Cole finishes one of his posts with a summary of the latest war facts and figures taken from McClatchy's coverage. McClatchy Newspapers carries an excellent in-depth study (8 months) of the Guantanamo Bay prison entitled, "Guantanamo: Beyond the Law." (Link to Table of Contents). Before you read the entire series, I recommend Juan Cole's (6/18/08) post, "The Great Torture Scandal."

Today's post begins in Afghanistan, moves to northern Iraq, and ends in Guantanamo, Cuba, a shameful stand-in for the war-zones, and intimately connected to the Middle East. Kudos to Kirk Semple, Andrew Lehren, Juan Cole, and to The New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers, for upholding investigations it will take years to complete.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Be afraid

By Creature

America, if John McCain becomes president he will send your kids to die. Is that what you want?

And people want to paint Barack Obama as risky. Yeesh.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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A Great Awakening

By Carl


I sit here struggling for words to describe how eye-opening the
Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics were to me.

I struggle not for the impression the ceremonies made on me, I can write volumes on the artistry. Nor do I struggle for words on how the ceremonies showed me what China will become in the very near future.

What I'm struggling with, what I realize now, is my deep naivete about what China has been: a distant, secret place, whose image in the mind of this fairly sophisticated American was clearly incomplete.

The China I saw introduced last night was at once precisely disciplined, yet wildly creative; technologically advanced, yet almost wholly reliant on the human element; richly historic, yet able to rebuild and remodel itself in almost a moment's notice.

The juxtaposition of these opposite values was made quite clear in the precision of the artists on stage. As a performer myself, I can tell you that it's near impossible to get twenty people to perform in near-perfect unison (The Rockettes spring to mind as the exception) but to get 2,000 at a time? Often with no more visual cue than your muscle memory and some awareness of the "chi" of the people around you?

As Matt Lauer, one of the hosts of NBC's coverage of the ceremonies, pointed out last night, China has had the largest GDP in the world for 9 of the last ten centuries.

The sole exception? The United States in the 20th Century. China clearly aims to take that title from us once again, and I can't see how they will fail.

Which brings me back to the image I had of China. I, like many of you, was aware of the China we were introduced to during the Nixon administration: grey and blue jacketed men and women, deliberately muted and homogenized in their diversity, struggling to break the shackles of governmental regulation and economic morosity.

As the years rolled on, I began to hear stories of how the Chinese were slowly awakening to the 20th Century: gleaming buildings in Shanghai, more freedom to pursue individual goals, a burgeoning middle class.

I sure wasn't expecting that, less than thirty years out from her commitment to becoming an economic lion, she had come this far. I assumed that the nation had done it thru sheer force of will and brute strength.

The delicacy and beauty of last night's show, reminding us of 5,000 years of heritage while reinforcing China's paternalistic centralized power structure, spoke volumes of how a great nation does not have to be "ruggedly individualistic" nor supremely sovietized in order to be a world player.

China has found some sweet spot in the middle, and by now throwing human minds and creativity into the mix, have become a formidable and powerful competitor to the United States.

I wonder how we'll handle them?

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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The grace and dignity of Elizabeth Edwards

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From a diary post at Kos: "Our family has been through a lot. Some caused by nature, some caused by human weakness, and some – most recently – caused by the desire for sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences. None of these has been easy. But we have stood with one another through them all. Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him." (Read the whole thing.)

Elizabeth will no doubt be criticized, as she is being criticized already, for doing the wrong thing and saying the wrong things in response to what her husband did. But what is the right thing to do, the right thing to say? There are moralizers all over the place who claim to know what is right and who heap criticism on those who do not agree, but in this case, as in so many others, there is no such right and wrong, and Elizabeth has responded with her characteristic generosity, maturity, and courage.

And as I put it yesterday, this is now a matter for John, Elizabeth, and their family to deal with. It seems to me that they are well on their way to recovery.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

The Edwards Affair

By Michael J.W. Stickings

What more can be said about l'affaire Edwards? (There's a ton of reaction over at Memeorandum. Go have a look, and a read, if you want.) He had an affair, he lied about it, and now, with the media after him, he's come clean.

To me, this is a private matter. How Edwards and his family deal with it is up to them.

It has always seemed to me that Edwards is a genuinely good man who loves his wife and family. But he is also, obviously, human. And humans aren't perfect. It's that simple.

Does it matter that he lied? Who wouldn't lie about such a thing?

Does it matter that he lied while a political candidate? Yes and no. Given the hypocritical moralism that pervades American society, and the media in particular, one must either lie or be destroyed. (Or, of course, not do it in the first place. But he did -- so what was he to do?) It's not like he lied about taking bribes, for example. And it's not like he's fundamentally corrupt. (I suppose there are some who will say that he is morally corrupt, but, to me, this transgression should not be understood to define his entire character, his entire moral being. Indeed, morality has nothing to do with it, at least as far as I'm concerned.)

And yet, we may perhaps question his judgement. He should have known better. He should have behaved more rationally. And, yes, we do often, if not always rightly, hold public figures to higher standards than we do private citizens. And that is not such a bad thing. Not always. I, for one, would like my democratic leaders to be "better" -- which is to say, better people -- than, say, my next-door neighbour.

But what is right and wrong here? What is judgement? We're not talking about politics and policies, we're talking about sex and sexual desire. Many men -- and many women, but I'll keep it to men here -- have cheated on their wives or girlfriends or partners. Many men have transgressed -- and transgressed in many different ways. Indeed, many of our democratic leaders have done what Edwards did, or transgressed in some way. This is not to excuse what Edwards did, merely to put it in context.

Right now, this is all about Edwards. But it isn't really all about him.

And yet, I must admit that I am disappointed. I was once a big Edwards supporter. I was a featured blogger way back when at his One America Committee blog. I respected him -- and, yes, I respect him still. But he should not have done what he did. It's that simple.

And, inevitably, his transgression, once revealed, has become a sensation.

And his lies -- his repeated denials -- have taken on greater meaning than the similar lies of men who aren't public figures, let alone presidential candidates.

And his fall has been greater and more public than the falls of other men who have done what he did. And he will continue to be dragged through the mud.

I cannot say what he deserves, but, to me, there is a gross unfairness to it all.

Yes, he should have known better. But who are we to presume to understand him, to presume to be able to get inside his head and his heart, to be able to grasp his being?

And who are we to damn him for what he has done?

His political career may be over, and we may continue to talk about the career that was, and perhaps even about the lies, but how he, Elizabeth, and his children move forward from this is none of our business.

And I, for one, wish them the best.

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The politics of stupid

By Libby Spencer

Krugman has a good op-ed today on how the "Republicans, once hailed as the “party of ideas,” have become the party of stupid." He doesn't mean that the politicians are dumb, but rather that they breed stupidity in the public. Here's a choice cut.

All this is in the past. But the state of the energy debate shows that Republicans, despite Mr. Bush’s plunge into record unpopularity and their defeat in 2006, still think that know-nothing politics works. And they may be right.

Sad to say, the current drill-and-burn campaign is getting some political traction. According to one recent poll, 69 percent of Americans now favor expanded offshore drilling — and 51 percent of them believe that removing restrictions on drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.

It's frightening really, how easily they get away with this sort of trickery. I mean even today, there's a whole lot of people who still believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11 and that we found WMDs in Iraq. The scary part is, a lot of people who believe this stuff are otherwise actually smart and accomplished people.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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One of these is not like the other

By Libby Spencer

Steve Greenberg has found the real difference between Democrats and Republicans. [From C&L, via Avedon.]

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Personally, I hope he ignores this

By Carl


What is it with
politicians and their sex lives that makes them any of my business or yours?

RALEIGH, N.C. – Two weeks before their national convention, some Democrats are calling for former Sen. John Edwards to publicly address National Enquirer stories that he had an affair with a campaign worker and fathered her baby.

Mr. Edwards, as the 2004 vice presidential nominee and a presidential candidate who won delegates this year, ordinarily would be locked in as a convention speaker.

"He absolutely does have to [resolve it]. If it's not true, he has to issue a stronger denial," said Gary Pearce, the Democratic strategist who ran Mr. Edwards' 1998 Senate race.

Mr. Edwards' decision not to take questions about the allegations has allowed doubts to linger and political bloggers to speculate.

If you haven't heard the story, the National Enquirer, which is to journalism what a four leaf clover is to hard work, has been following the tales of one Rielle Hunter who allegedly delivered a baby that John Edwards conceived.

Last December, an Edwards' campaign staffer, Andrew Young, who is also married and has children, came forward and admitted to being the father.

You'd think it would have ended right then and there, but it merely lay dormant.

Much of the interest in this story, clearly designed to throw a wrench in the Democratic coronation of Barack Obama as a candidate (and drop Edwards off the short list for VP, which no one took seriously anyway), has been generated by Fox News, the National Enquirer run by the improbably named Dave Pecker, and the usual gang of dust-dry vaginas and Jello-soft penises on the right wing (e.g. Michelle Malkin and

The rationale? Well, I don't know the extent of toe-nail clipping that has gone on over on the far right, but I imagine there's the whole Clintonian "If it matters at your house, it matters in the White House" nonsense, but since Edwards' is no longer running, that ought to be a non-starter.

An unique excuse is Edwards' marriage to a terminal cancer victim, Elizabeth, thus neatly dovetailing their gloating over her apparently imminent death while torturing her for the last few months she might have left to her.

Edwards' is a private citizen and therefore entitled to a bit more consideration and compassion than these numbnut assholes have chosen to give. Indeed, these self-same "pundits" (more like ersatz samizdats) raked Edwards over the coal for uncloaking his public persona in the face of his wife's illness, to some extent forcing him back into private life.

Let's assume for a moment the story is true, and Edwards is the father: If I was a terminal cancer patient, on chemo and radiation and exhausted and nauseous, I would probably give my blessings to my wife to go out and take care of her needs. The Edwards deserve at least as much privacy in their decisions as some shlub blogger in New York City.

Indeed, was it not Malkin herself who got her cheerleader panties in a twist when some faux-conservative blogger, Jesus' General, published her home address as well as a map of the neighborhood, citing privacy and safety concerns?

Now let's assume it's not true. Which it sure seems to be the case. Then Edwards deserves to be let alone and the two people who actually admit to the child, also private citizens, ought to be let alone. That
Edwards hasn't complained loudly and long about their instigation of a horribly ugly episode in American politics is a testament to his loyalty and his belief that privacy is a right in the Constitution.

I agree with Edwards.

UPDATE: Then again, I could just be a naive idiot.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)


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By Carl

WTF? Bill "I calls 'em like I sees 'em on tape" FRIST?!?!? Part of Bono's ""???

Is this the Apocalypse?

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"I would answer back hard. What do you mean [Obama's] not one of us? It's John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state. It's Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that's why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids." -- Senator Schumer saying what needs to be said over, and over, and over again.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Veepstakes: The Clintons and the Convention

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Democratic Aides Working on Plan To Keep the Peace At the Convention," reports the WaPo today.

I've been dealing with this nagging suspicion, a kind of monotonous buzzing in my head, that Hillary is still in the running to be Obama's running mate.

I'm not sure why this suspicion lingers, but it probably has to do with the fact that the leading candidates, that is, those presumed to be on Obama's shortlist -- Bayh, Biden, Kaine, and Sebelius -- are so uninspiring. (Biden is my clear preference among these four, but it's not like he'd be the perfect choice.)

It also probably has to do with the fact that Hillary is such a popular and impressive figure.

And with the fact that an Obama-Clinton ticket would be genuinely formidable. Although the media have played up the divisions in the Democratic Party, suggesting that they are deeper and more damaging than they really are, it is nonetheless true that a "unity" ticket would do wonders to bring the entirety of the party together heading into November. I suspect that most Hillary supporters will end up voting for Obama anyway, but she would energize the party, the base, the donors, and the campaign itself. In short, it would make sense to have her on the ticket.

Which is not to say that she would be the perfect choice either. There's the not-so-small matter of her husband, after all. Although he has apparently been offered a speaking role at the Convention, it is not clear what role he would play, or how he would behave, if Hillary were on the ticket. (Interesting note: It is being reported that he will speak on Wednesday night, right before the running mate speaks. Could Bill be the lead-in to Hillary?)

Plus, it looks like Obama is looking elsewhere. While it is certainly possible that his campaign has been preparing for a massive surprise by intentionally (and successfully) distracting the media away from Hillary (she isn't even on the shortlists anymore) -- mostly by floating other names and holding mysterious campaign events with the likes of Bayh -- it seems unlikely that it would have been able to keep the lid on for so long without even the slightest hint being leaked.

And, too, there is now all this talk of working to keep the peace at the Convention. Could it really all be nothing but a charade? Surely not -- although the best way to keep the peace, of course, would be to put Hillary on the ticket.

But I'm just floating a few ideas in hopes of ridding myself of this buzzing.

Besides, predicting that Obama will pick Hillary would be akin to predicting a Giants victory over the Patriots. I'm just not that crazy. At least, I don't think I am. (Wait, didn't I pick the Giants?)

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Apples and oranges

By Creature

I have to assume beltway pundits like David Broder pay as close attention to the day in, day out, back-and-forth between the candidates as I do. If this is the case then it boggles the mind that Broder, with a straight face, can equate John McCain's gutter-level, character-smearing campaign with Barack Obama's. Yet, he does exactly this in his column today.

It's typical beltway dribble to say, "oh, they've both been negative," but to say that is bull (not to mention the higher bull that it's Obama's fault for not agreeing to town hall meetings that prompted McCain's incomparable negative onslaught). The only thing David Broder accomplishes with his column today is to reveal his bias toward McCain. Every other conciliatory theme he hits upon is just more noise. And, dishonest noise, at that.

See Booman and Benen for more on Broder, McCain, and their twisted logic.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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On the Road Again

By Capt. Fogg

Johnnie McCain at Sturgis, dressed in Khakis and in blue collar talking about getting to work.

Most everyone there got there by motorcycle or was with a motorcycle. Megabucks John wasn't, although he may have got there on his wife's private jet. It's not that there's anything wrong with being very rich, Many of the bikers in attendance aren't hurting for money and represent a cross section of Americans, but while dumping your crippled wife to run off with a millionaire fashion model young enough to be your daughter may not be illegal, it does weaken one's ability to scold others for not working hard enough, and it might just make him look like a damned hypocrite.

Actually John the millionaire is hardly in a position to brag about working hard in front of working people and of course he's the senator who has missed the most votes of any of them - including two key votes about repealing Big Oil tax breaks and promoting solar and wind power. Seems those two bills failed by one vote. Good Work, John. Keep shouting about energy independence and have a pleasant ride home in the family jet.

In the video, John the worker claims that "when he's president" he won't let Congress take any vacations. Sure sounds like an empty promise to me, but then why not? He's made so many already.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Of creamy White House stationary ...

By J. Thomas Duffy

Somewhere, in recent days, deep in the bowels of the Bush Grindhouse, The Commander Guy meets up with Mr. Slam Dunk...

Bush: I wish to complain about this forged letter that I purchased not five-years ago, from your very agency.

Tenet: Oh yes, the, uh, the Creamy White House Stationary ...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?

B: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'The Saddam-Al Qaeda connection is dead, that's what's wrong with it!

T: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

B: Look, matey, I know a dead Saddam-Al Qaeda connection when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

T: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable forgery, the Creamy White House Stationary , idn'it, ay? Beautiful calligraphy!

B: The calligraphy don't enter into it. He's stone dead.

T: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

B: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Saddam-Al Qaeda connection! I've got a lovely fresh WMD for you if you show...(owner hits the cage)

T: There, he moved!

B: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

T: I never!!

B: Yes, you did!

T: I never, never did anything...

B: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO Saddam-Al Qaeda connection!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!

(Takes Saddam-Al Qaeda connection out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

B: Now that's what I call a dead Saddam-Al Qaeda connection.

T: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!


T: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin' up! Creamy White House Stationary stuns easily, major.

B: look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That Saddam-Al Qaeda connection is definitely deceased, and when I purchased that letter if not five-years ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

T: Well, he's...he's, ah...probably pining for the WMD's.

B: PININ' for the WMD's?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got 'im home?

T: The Creamy White House Stationary prefers keepin' on it's back! Remarkable forgery, id'nit, squire? Lovely calligraphy!

B: Look, I took the liberty of examining that Saddam-Al Qaeda connection when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.


T: Well, o'course it was nailed there! If I hadn't nailed that Saddam-Al Qaeda connection down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent 'em apart with its beak, and VOOM! Feeweeweewee!

B: "VOOM"?!? Mate, this Saddam-Al Qaeda connection wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts through it! E's bleedin' demised!

T: No no! 'E's pining!

B: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This Saddam-Al Qaeda connection is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-SADDAM!!


T: Well, I'd better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter)

T: Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back of the shop, and uh, we're right out of Saddam-Al Qaeda connections.

B: I see. I see, I get the picture.

T: I got a Iran.


B: Pray, does it have WMD's?

T: Nnnnot really.


T: Well! I never wanted to do this in the first place. I wanted to be... A LUMBERJACK!

In case you were preoccupied, perhaps sitting by your mailbox, waiting for your "Obama Energy Policy" tire gauge to arrive, a gigantic shoe dropped Tuesday, with the publication of Ron Suskind's new book, 'The Way of the World', detailing the Bush Grindhouse forging a letter to tie Saddam Hussein (and their invasion and occupation of Iraq), with Al Qaeda, and September 11th

Here's Suskind, with Keith Olbermann, on Countdown Tuesday evening;

Aug. 5: In a cable exclusive author Ron Suskind talks with Countdown’s Keith Olbermann about allegations in his book, “The Way of the World,” including the claim that the White House ordered that a letter be forged to draw a connection between Iraq and 9/11 even though there wasn't one.

Book: White House faked Iraq-9/11 link

(This was followed up with an Olbermann and John Dean conversation, on the various illegalities involved in this forgery)

Now, coming from the thugs that formed a group inside the Bush Grindhouse (WHIG), and also hired out a firm (The Lincoln Group) to plant lies in the Iraqi media, all the congressional hearings, all the Judy Millers and Scooter Libbys, they expect to be believed?

The Monty Python skit above may be absurd, but not nearly as what will be the pushback, already taking place, from the Bush Grindhouse.

This will be "All Hands On Deck", perhaps their most urgent need of a "Mission Accomplished" moment.

This came from the Bush Grindhouse, Tuesday;

White House press spokesman Tony Fratto attacked Suskind today, stating that he “makes a living from gutter journalism” and calling the book one of Suskind’s “bizarre conspiracy theories.”

(Ed. Note - Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author)

Christ, CNN, even pulled in Fran Townsend (she of infinite Al Qaeda knowledge) to toss rocks at it.

The character assassination they've been throwing at Scott McClellan will look like blown kisses compared to what will be aimed at Suskind in the days and weeks ahead.

But that's going to be a tough rope to pull, causing them a great deal of inner conflict.

With Suskind bringing out his book this week, it must be ringing in their ears, remembering the advice of former Bush Grindhouse Chief of Staff Andy Card, and his neocon wisdom of "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new lies in August."

Bonus Bush Forged Letter Links

Emptywheel: Tenet and the “Creamy White House Stationery”

Booman: White House Approved Forged Iraqi Memo

Digby: Hear No Evil

Larisa Alexandrovna - Suskind: Bush admin ordered forgery...


Anonymous Liberal: The Other Half of the Letter

Brilliant at Breakfast: We'd be within our rights to demand an apology

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hillary takes a swing at corporate corruption

By Libby Spencer

Hillary Clinton had a great op-ed in WSJ today. I wish she was talking like this during the primaries. It could have changed the whole tenor of the narrative.

If we're going to get serious about putting our nation's fiscal house in order, let's talk about putting an end to billions in no-bid contract awards to unaccountable contractors. Let's talk about the number of lucrative contracts and bonuses being paid for duties never performed, promises never fulfilled, and contracts falsely described as complete. And let's talk about reforming the federal contracting system so that we can take on the real waste, fraud and abuse in our federal government.

She's proposing a complete overhaul of the federal contracting system that includes:

- Instead of rewarding companies that exploit tax shelters and incorporate in tax havens, let's ban the federal government from contracting with companies that hide profits offshore.

- Let's put a stop to the disgraceful practice of giving bonuses to contractors for work never performed, which has been allowed to happen in Iraq and throughout the federal government according to the GAO and inspectors general.

The jaded souls on my listserv rightly observe that she could have been doing something about this over the last five years, but I'll take this kind of talk anytime I can get it from inside the Beltway. Let's hope it turns out to be more than just empty election year rhetoric.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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Veepstakes: Pawlenty honest

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Take Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty off the shortlist of possible McCain veep picks. Why? Well:

"Say what you will about Barack Obama," the Minnesota Republican told a conservative group, "people gravitate when you have something positive to say." He added that McCain has been positive as well.

"People want to follow hopeful, optimistic, civil, decent leaders," Pawlenty said in a speech to GOPAC, which helps recruit Republican candidates. "They don't want to follow some negative, scornful person."

Like... er... uh... oh... I don't know... Johnny McBush (i.e., John McCain), who has increasingly been running the sort of nasty, vicious, vindictive smear campaign typical of Republicans?

The last thing McCain and the Republicans want is honesty. And that's just what they got from Pawlenty:

  • Obama = hopeful, optimistic, civil, decent.
  • McCain = negative, scornful.
"Talk about off-message," remarks MyDD's Todd Beeton. Indeed.

But, then, it's likely that there's no longer much pressure on Pawlenty to be on-message. And it's much easier to be honest when it no longer matters.

Which, it seems, is especially true of Republicans.

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Wait, Osama bin Laden was determined to do what?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Think Progress reminds us that:

Today marks seven years since the day President Bush received a President's Daily Brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." (See the memo here.) At the time, Bush was vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, TX and stayed on vacation the rest of August 2001.

Yeah, whatever happened with that?

Oh, right, Bush and the warmongers didn't give a shit.

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Island News: Alcohol, politics, and patronage

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm on vacation in PEI, as many of you know, and I thought I'd let you know what is currently the top story at The Guardian (the province's major newspaper -- which, according to its banner, "COVERS PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND LIKE THE DEW") website:

As expected, the appointment of a new commissioner, "one of the most coveted positions within the provincial bureaucracy," has generated controversy. The appointment is made by Cabinet (the Liberal government led by Premier Robert Ghiz), and the appointee is a current deputy minister, Brooke MacMillan.

In response, the Progressive Conservative opposition is calling it "a plum, patronage appointment."

Far be it from me to have much of an opinion on the matter, but I will say that the alcohol selection here is pretty bad.

There are some genuinely outstanding restaurants on the Island, and the food in general is fantastic, but the wine, beer, and spirits selection at the government-run liquor stores is nothing like what one finds not just in a major city like Toronto but even in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. There's almost no international beer to be found, and almost no Canadian wine (and we have some fine wine being made in Ontario and British Columbia). There are a few well-known international wines available, but not much variety, let alone quality. There's some decent scotch and whisky, but, again, not much variety. I'm enjoying the PEI-distilled grain vodka, but I'm waiting for the PEI-distilled potato vodka -- the liquor stores don't have any in at the moment, but, as you may know, the province is famous for its potatoes.

So whoever runs the liquor commission, and whether it's a patronage appointment or not, I just hope some effort is made to improve what is available to restaurants and, of course, to us, the consumers.

Not that I'm spending my vacation boozing it up or anything...

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Activism, investigative journalism, or conspiracy theory?

By Carol Gee

CONSPIRACY THEORY -- A Cuil search on "conspiracy theory" returned 2,076,650 results, so the very idea is a big deal in the blogosphere. The theories vary widely all the way from 1) the government's unwillingness to tell us about earth having been visited by extra-terrestrials; to 2) the neocons have been planning and executing this take-over since the days of Nixon; to 3) the attacks of 9/11 having been an inside job. I do not believe any of the above. So I do not qualify for a tinfoil hat.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, is evidentally a much smaller deal, returning only 149,202 Cuil results. "Book says White House ordered forgery" (8/4/08) by Mike Allen at To quote:

A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.

ACTIVISM, however is the biggest deal of all, according to Cuil. That single word search returned 11,394,749 results. And it also yielded some very interesting drop-down lists, including these category names, Political Advocacy Groups in the United States, Veterans Organizations Opposed to the Iraq War, Canadian Anarchists, Community Organizing, Civil Disobedience, Anti-pornography Activists, COINTELPRO targets, Anti-globalization, Social Movements, and Politics and Technology. This is the category in which I found those of us in the blogosphere (thank goodness, not under "COINTELPRO TARGETS.) The subcategories here are Internet activism, Move On, Howard Dean and Joe Trippi.

Drilling down even more, in the Google Directory, the tree looks like this: "Society> Activism> Internet> Hacktivism, and all the way to an article called, "Activism, Hacktivism and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a tool for influencing foreign policy." Written in 2001 by Dorothy E. Denning, then teaching in the computer department at Georgetown University, its summary paragraph says,


The Internet offers a powerful tool for communicating and coordinating action. It is inexpensive to use and increasingly pervasive, with an estimated 201 million on-line as of September 1999.3 Groups of any size, from two to millions, can reach each other and use the Net to promote an agenda. Their members and followers can come from any geographical region on the Net, and they can attempt to influence foreign policy anywhere in the world. This section describes five modes of using the Internet: collection, publication, dialogue, coordination of action, and direct lobbying of decision makers. While treated separately, the modes are frequently used together and many of the examples described here illustrate multiple modes.

Denning left Georgetown the next year for the west coast. She is currently at the Naval Post Graduate School in in the Department of Defense Analysis at Monterrey, California. Her latest two publications , which I would also love to read, are titled:

  • Denning, D. E., “A View of Cyberterrorism Five Years Later,” Readings in Internet Security: Hacking, Counterhacking, and Society (K. Himma ed.), Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Boston, 2006.
  • Denning, D. E., “The Ethics of Cyber Conflict,” in Information and Computer Ethics (K. E. Himma and H. T. Tavani eds.), Wiley, 2007.

Why does any of this minutia matter? For one thing, it has made me realize so much more how important it is to use correct terminology. The government thinks about citizens expressing alternate views of reality very differently than I do. We are sometimes lumped together as "dangerous," for the purposes of domestic intelligence. I have blog friends who are dedicated activists who actually protest. My so-called little bits of "activism" are confined to sitting at this keyboard searching, researching, reading and writing. I feel puny by comparison.

I conclude with these four links sent to me recently by my blog friend, "betmo," who writes Life's Journey. I leave it up to you to decide into which category they belong.

  1. Rising Hegemon: "Always the same pathetic story" (8/5/08). To quote the blog author's comment regarding Mike Allen's Politico story (above):

    Of course, this article is written by Mike Allen so it contains 80% White House push-back - uncritically.

    And that will undoubtedly be the end of that as far as the media is concerned.

  2. "The question of right-wing terrorism: anthrax," by Rick Perlstein (8/1/08). To quote:

    Glenn Greenwald has put together a must-read account of how panic over the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, and disinformation claiming Saddam Hussein was probably behind them, convinced various members of the media and political elite to get behind the idea of attacking Iraq. His research follows reports that government scientist Bruce E. Ivins committed suicide Tuesday night because he was about to be charged with staging the attacks. Greenwald writes with scrupulous care, and asserts nothing beyond the known facts—but one of those known facts, and Greenwald's bottom line, is that ABC News has it within its power to help clear up the mystery, and refuses to do so. . .

    This guy was no down-the-line conservative ("The Roman Catholic Church should learn from other equally worthy Christian denominations and eagerly welcome female clergy as well as married clergy," he writes in March of 2002), but I hope I don't exaggerate in claiming a decidedly wingnutty tilt to his thinking. If this is the same guy who composed the note framing jihadists for the anthrax attacks ("This is next/Take Penacilin Now/Death To America/Death To Israel/Allah is great"); and, as Greenwald seems to suspect, and if he was the same guy who misled ABC into reporting the presence in the anthrax of a substance that only Iraq had used to create biological weapons, what we may have on our hands here is an American ginning up a causis belli for a Christian jihad against Islam, and killing fellow Americans to do it.

    This is very, very heavy stuff. If any of this turns out to be the case, I will, again, take no pleasure in the vindication.

  3. "betmo says this about this link, "why would this be surprising? they outsource and contract everything else." From The Raw Story comes this perfect illustration of how hard it is to figure out in which theoretical camp you live. "Deleted photo sparks fears DEA hiring mercenaries" by Muriel Kane (8/4/08):

    However, one particular photograph from the Times story has drawn more attention than anything else. That picture, which has now been widely reproduced at blogs, shows a long-haired man, wearing a Blackwater tshirt and with a pistol at his belt, passing a box marked "DEA Evidence" to other agents participating in the raid.

    . . . The photo has since been taken down by the Times, but it has continued to circulate online. Although there has been no previous suggestion of a Blackwater role in domestic drug enforcement, the single picture was sufficient enough to set off furious discussion at both left-wing and libertarian message boards and blogs.

  4. AfterDowningStreet: "Cheney, Neocons Considered Killing Americans in Pretext to Attack Iran." This article is the best summary I have found of some of the most predomimant conspiracy theories that have been around since the post 9/11/01 period. There are people that bwlieve that the 9/11 attacks were planned and carried out by the U.S. government. Even earlier another theory posits that the U.S., under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, planned "Operation Northwoods," a false flag attack on Fidel Castro in Cuba. British author, Phillipe Sands revealed a discussion in January 2003 between Tony Blair and George Bush involving "painting planes in United Nations colors “in order to provoke an attack which could then be used to justify material breach” and thus set in motion an invasion." A tape revealed in May 2008 by Paul Joseph Watson regarding "efforts of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top military analysts to cook up another terrorist attack on America in order to gain support for their ambitious plans to decimate Muslim culture." To quote further:

    Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh reveals how the neocons convened around Dick Cheney and brainstormed ways to kick off World War IV, as they fondly call their pet project to take out the Muslims and foment a contrived “clash of civilizations.”

    . . . In an exclusive Think Progress story, we learn the meeting took place in Cheney’s office and the subject on the table was “how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” part of an ongoing effort to provide an excuse to attack Iran. “There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war,” Hersh explains. “The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.”

    . . . Obviously, the neocons will stop at nothing — including the murder of more Americans in a false flag terror attack — to realize their agenda.

Activism, Investigative Journalism or Conspiracy Theory? In the minds of some they all run together. In my mind it is important for me to make distinctions. That helps me continue to behave in good faith and act courageously and with authenticity. It is also about trying to tell the truth, and about trying to make a difference. These are the things all of of us have permission to do without becoming targets of domestic surveillance, as a result of our words being scooped up in mass funneling of Internet material into the NSA.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Just in case you haven't been paying attention

By Creature

John McCain is not only a bitter, belligerent old man he's a comedian too.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Deja Vu

By Creature

Another day, another ad, more McCain/Bush love. I'm sensing a pattern here.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The Wisdom of McCain

By Capt. Fogg

I guess John McCain has said so many things that it's hard to know just where and when he supported the administration's actions and when he was in maverick mode.

The Institute of Expertology remembers. It's a storehouse of wise sayings and predictions of gurus, pundits, wizards, and prognosticators. Where else can we see just how good these people are at providing plans for the future? Have a look at McCain's Nostradamus-like insight into the future and ask yourself, would an educated and highly intelligent man be a better choice even if you didn't want to drink beer with him down at the VFW hall?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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Veepstakes: Bayh bye?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There has much ado recently about Indiana Senator Evan Bayh as Obama's likely Veep pick -- I wrote about it on Monday, Indiana's Bilerico Project was leading the way, and Bayh has long been at or near the top of the list for MSM prognosticators -- but, if Bayh's word is any good, it looks like it's all been much ado about nothing... maybe:

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., told The Indianapolis Star today that Sen. Barack Obama has not asked him to be his running mate and that he's not expecting Obama to announce his vice presidential pick when Obama is in Indiana Wednesday.

Asked if he will be Obama's vice presidential choice, Bayh said; "I have no idea. You'd have to ask him."

Well... we'll see.

Let's hope it's not Bayh -- allow me to reiterate that I'd prefer Biden or Reed or, yes, Hillary (see my various posts linked above for why I'm not pro-Bayh) -- but I'm not about to write him off just yet, no matter what he says publicly (of course he'd adamantly deny prior to the actual announcement; indeed, this could very well be the sort of disinformational diversion we expect from our politicians). Plus, it would make sense for Obama to announce his pick before the Olympics start later this week.

So... what is Obama doing in Indiana... with Bayh? What will be announced later today? Anything? Or is this whole thing just your basic campaign stop in a swing state?

Like I said, we'll see...


Why do I keep thinking it might be Hillary after all?

Would Obama introduce her as his running mate in Indiana? I know the CW is with Bayh and Biden and Kaine, etc., but what if the CW is way off here?

No prediction. I'm just asking... what if?

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"Now two points, one, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." -- Barack Obama on the GOP's mocking of his tire-inflating stand.

Pretty much also sums up the last eight years of GOP rule: lying and ignorance.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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While Congress is away . . .

By Carol Gee

The cats will play. In their annual August recess, Senators and House Members are back in their districts, on vacation, campaigning or doing constituent work. Most of them, that is. Catch this stuff; it's "good, bad and ugly."

Bad and Ugly -- The Washington Post's, "At Recess, a Little One-sided Dodgeball," captures what I would have failed to witness if I had looked for it on C-SPAN. Dana Milbank's column today is high quality fun. I quote the intro and a few typical gems:

  • Eighteen times over the past 90 days, the minority tried, unsuccessfully, to force the House to adjourn. Now the House has finally adjourned -- for a five-week recess, no less -- and Republicans are demanding that the chamber be called back into session.

    On Friday and again yesterday, they opened the doors to the darkened House chamber and invited tourists wearing shorts and sandals to sit in the members' chairs. The microphones, lights and cameras were off. The speaker's chair was empty. But, hour after hour, the Republican lawmakers stood in the well and cursed the darkness.

  • . . . While Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was speaking, somebody found a light switch and brightened the chamber a bit. "My God, there's been a surge in power," the lawmaker exclaimed.

    But even under the lights, dimness prevailed.

  • Price and 17 colleagues kicked off yesterday's event with a news conference outside the House chamber, underneath a statue of Will Rogers. It was a fitting spot, for they seemed determined to prove one of the late Oklahoma humorist's best lines: "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."

  • The Republican beef: that Congress left town without authorizing offshore oil drilling. Problem is, while Congress did nothing about fuel prices, the average price of a gallon of gas fell 23 cents over the past month -- evidence, critics might say, that Congress should do nothing more often.

Not all House-passed legislation is bad. And Congressional oversight by dedicated committees of jurisdiction has exposed a great deal of wrong-doing. Here is another bit of good news just out on Congress, thanks to my CQ Behind the lines newsletter. To quote:

Since January 2007, DHSers have testified at 359 hearings and given 4,300 briefings to congressional committees, Government Executive’s Katherine McIntire Peters surveys — as Washington Technology’s Wyatt Kash has the House passing eight homeland security measures Friday designed to strengthen cybersecurity, among a myriad of other goals.

The Good -- "Eight homeland security bills make it through House." by Wyatt Kash (8/01/08) at Washington Technology. I am cautiously optimistic and looking for any little bit of light to shed after Congress' recent FISA debacle. The story includes a helpful summary of each bill. To quote:

The House passed eight homeland security measures today that, among other measures, are designed to strengthen cyber security, promote greater sharing of unclassified information and prevent the over-classification of information. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security praised measures.

While Congress is away there are a few things you can do to make things better. Here is a petition you can sign from The Nation urging Senator Obama to hold to our Progressive values. HT to Steve Clemons at The Washington Note for this opportunity. Here is a fun quiz from We Can Solve It: "America's Future: How Well Do You Understand America's Energy"

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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File This Under "WTF?"

By Carl

Now, admittedly, the demographics in this Presidential race make small niches groups key in any McCain victory, since Obama seems to be drawing a broad audience and is generally ahead in the game (despite recent polls).

But this?

Here at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the annual gathering of all things leather, Harley and free as the wind across an open plain, Senator John McCain came to ask for the votes of America’s bikers.

“It will be a good day on election day if there are a lot of bikes parked outside polling places,” Mr. McCain said, at a tribute to veterans and those who serve in the military held in the midst of the ongoing party that locals says consumes this part of the country for several weeks.


The image of Harley Davidson and the whole motorcycle culture seems to be taking a hit here. Somehow, linking the "what the hell" attitude of bike riders with John McCain, despite his faux image as a maverick, seems one of the more absurd pieces in the political theatre that is America.

And yet...
The rally has been known for its wilder days but it, like its devotees, is getting on in years. This was the 68th Sturgis and the atmosphere was suitably respectful (give or take a few naughty signs, T-shirts and encounters). The men, most commonly dressed in black shirts, jeans and boots, doffed their caps and head scarves at key moments during the pre-McCain program honoring veterans.

Truly, things do get a bit long in the tooth after 68 years, and presumably many of those attending, drawn by a concert performed by Kid Rock and Kellie Pickler-- lest you thought McCain could draw more people than could fit in a phone booth by himself-- were like McCain, former Viet Nam veterans paying respects to one of their own.

Still, there's a surreality to the entire proceeding. McCain will talk about gas prices, I'm sure, and then go on to talk about...Iraq? To men who have fought a war and probably know a thing or two about clusterfucks?

This is probably more his target audience: naked old men lost over the wilderness:

(crossposted to
Simply Left Behind)

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Reefer madness

By Capt. Fogg

I remember stories of police drug raids being carried out at incorrect addresses going back to the 1960s. It's nothing new. I recall that in one raid, a homeowner was shot and killed by police who came through the front door unannounced and unidentified and of course the police were exonerated because not only has one no civil rights where the fight against marijuana is concerned, the "authorities" have no more restraints on their behavior than any pirates of the Caribbean would impose upon themselves. It is you see, so dangerous that no doctor can prescribe it and nothing is more important than prosecuting people who might have had something to do with it.

That was of course a long time ago and before the Internet, and I can't link to the newspaper reports, but it doesn't matter because the Federal Government in its conviction that the medical establishment is totally ignorant of medical matters continues to ride roughshod over reason, fact, sanity and law in it's lust to eradicate it. Normally when police are caught planting evidence to make a criminal out of someone against whom they have no other evidence, someone goes to jail and it isn't the victim. Not so with marijuana, the Devil's Weed. Some of the older folks may remember when the government tried to bust Patty Hearst using a false flag delivery that was foiled when she refused to accept a package full of dope. The government remembers and it's still in their bag of tricks.

Last week, a SWAT team raided the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland. According to The Baltimore Sun, police disguised as deliverymen had dropped off a package addressed to his wife, and Mayor Cheye Calvo's mother-in-law left the heavy package on the porch. Calvo later brought it inside but didn't open it. Of course, it was a trap and the package held 32 pounds of the Devil's Weed, which justified the armed military invasion of his home. Without showing a warrant, the cops shot his dogs, one while it was running away. He was dragged downstairs in his underwear and tied up and thrown on a floor covered with blood and ripped with bullet holes, as was his mother-in-law. Finding the box still sealed, they simply left, taking it with them. Law? What law, they're the police!

On Thursday last, a medical marijuana dispensary in California was raided (what do doctors know about medicine?) by DEA agents who smashed up the place, blasting open an ATM and taking the money, cutting open a safe, smashing down doors and strewing the property of some residents everywhere during a wild four hour spree. Also on Thursday, an appellate court in San Diego ruled that Federal law does not pre-empt California's medical cannabis law. They don't care - they're the DEA. Cannabis is just too brain-searingly deadly dangerous to worry about the niceties of constitutional law. (What do doctors know about drugs?)

Now for the scary part. Although the L.A. Times article originally contained a photo of a gunslinger in a Blackwater shirt removing boxes of "evidence," the picture was later taken down, but, thanks to the Internet, it's still in circulation, as are the questions: since when does the U.S. government use an army of mercenaries to conduct military action against U.S. citizens within U.S. borders? Who removed the picture, and why?

So take this advice. If you're home at night and a bunch of armed men in black ski masks burst through your door unannounced, just grovel on the floor and don't try to defend yourselves and for heaven's sake, don't complain -- a pot-free America is more important than your life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness. It's more important than your freedom or the rule of law and most of all, it's important that the multi-bazillion-dollar anti-drug industry not be tampered with.

(Cross-posted from The Impolitic.)

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Six Degrees of John McCain - From Obama's "Energy Policy" To McCain's Media Donuts

By J. Thomas Duffy

Or; McCain, Republicans Riding On Their Spare Donut

Well, again, as we have previously noted, Stumblin' Bumblin' John McCain did put out the call for more humor in his campaign.

Little did we know it would be petty, juvenile, slapstick, that does less to diss or mock Barack Obama, but rather brings out the ignorance of the Stumblin' Bumblin McCain Campaign, and their RWFS supporters.

Not to mention, it flies in the face of one of his possible choices for Vice President, another sitting Republican Governor, the official sport of Redneck Nation, NASCAR, and the Department of Energy (and, if the nitwits bothered to look, I suspect we could add the AAA to it as well; Go to The Jed Report to see a listing of who agrees with Obama, as to tire maintenance)

In case you missed it, perhaps attempting to program your VCR for the upcoming Olympics, Stumblin' Bumblin John McCain, and the Republicans all over, are having themselves a grand old time, believing they are mocking Senator Barack Obama, for his call, during a speech on energy, to properly inflate your tires, get regular tune-ups, as a means to assist and augment saving energy.

Mustang Bobby sums it up in his "Gauging Reaction";

The right wingers are making a mockery of Barack Obama's suggestion that tuning up your car and keeping your tires inflated are a couple of ways to save fuel and thereby reduce our dependence on foreign oil. They're even going to the point of handing out tire gauges at campaign events as "Obama's energy policy."

Say What?

Something as simple and benign as this, and they're dancing and laughing in the aisles of the Dead Campaign Express?

What next, what would they hand out if Obama recommended young children look both way before crossing the street?

Steve Benen pointed this angle out, in his "GOP won’t let go of its new tire-gauge toy";

Consider a counter-example. McCain was talking about skin cancer the other day.

McCain emphasized that skin cancer is preventable, and implored Americans to wear sunscreen, especially over the summer. What’s wrong with this advice? Not a thing. It’s a smart, sensible thing to say.

But imagine if Obama and his surrogates said the entirety of McCain’s healthcare policy is sunscreen application. McCain doesn’t really care about cancer, they could argue, he just wants everyone to run out at get some SPF 30. Those vying to be Obama’s running mate started holding up bottles of Coppertone during their speeches, saying things like, “We want you to wear sunscreen, you know, it will very mildly improve your chances of not getting sick. But wearing sunscreen is not a healthcare policy for the United States of America.”

This, of course, would be insane. And yet, that’s pretty much what’s become of Republican campaign rhetoric of late.

Jesus, talk about manufacturing a phony issue - and they manage to screw it up, on top of it!

And as far as this as being an impromptu, off-the-cuff "prank"?

Al Giordano, at The Field, notes;

It's "the tell" that the "tire gauge" strategy was pre-planned, not as an afterthought to some spontaneous prop wielded by Tim Pawlenty 48 hours ago, but, rather, that once the plan was in place, the trinkets for donors had to be designed and manufactured, while Pawlenty was sent out there as the messenger.

Since the MSM will, in all likelihood, give Stumblin' Bumblin' McCain a pass on this (perhaps adding to the wave and reach of it), we put on our Thinking Caps to come up with something that would capture the moment,

And, Taa-Daa! ... Here it is ...

The Six Degrees of John McCain - From Obama's "Energy Policy" To McCain's Media Donuts

2008 Presidential Campaign - McCain vs.Obama

McCain Obama Speech/Inflate Tires

McCain/Republicans Mocking Obama Speech

McCain/Republicans Passing Out "Obama Energy Plan" Tire Gauges

Low Tire Pressure/Flat Tire/Spare Tire/"Donut Spare"

John McCain Receiving Donuts From Adoring Media

Keep'em coming there, Stumblin' Bumblin' McCain Campaign ... Your boy is so right, we need more humor in the campaign!

And you guys are bringing it in by the boatload!

Bonus Stumblin Bumblin' McCain Spare Donuts

Bill Scher: Yes Conservatives, Inflating Tires Beats Coastal Drilling

Sadly No: The concept is simple, guys

Bet On The Bug Shit

He's A Senator - And A Dessert Topping!

The Bob Dole For The New Millennium

(Cross Posted at The Garlic)

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