Monthly Archives: May 2005

Holden on Hiatus

From Holden:

I’m taking a short vacation next week, and since I don’t normally blog on weekends you won’t see me here again until Monday, June 6 (although I might pop in and out on Memorial Day).

I’m sure my blogmates will cherish the breathing room.

See ya’ later.

14 Minutes, 57 Seconds and Counting

From Holden:

Does anyone watch PAX-TV? Apparently they have a reality show called “Lie Detector”. Check out their description for an upcoming show.

Tuesday, May 31st, 8/7c

Known for lobbing softball questions at current President George W. Bush, elite press core official “Jeff Gannon” came under scrutiny by democrats and fellow press core members, who discovered his real name is James Dale Guckert with a checkered past and possible agenda. Was “Jeff Ganon” fed questions by the Bush administration to use as talking points at White House briefings or just a man trying to overcome his past and pursue a career as a journalist?

I’d bet my back teeth JimmyJeff stipulated that he would not answer any questions regarding male prostitution before taking this gig.

UPDATE: I just noticed the god people at PAX misspelled JimmyJeff’s fake name in the last sentence. Hee.

A Failure of Leadership

From Holden:

Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) offerred the following amendment to the House defense appropriation (H.AMDT.214 as an amendment to H.R.1815).

“It is the sense of Congress that the president should—

(1) develop a plan as soon as practicable after the date of the enactment of this Act to provide for the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq; and

(2) transmit to the congressional defense committees a report that contains the plan described in paragraph (1).”

Pretty moderate, huh? No demand for an instant pullout, no call for a timetable even. Just a polite request for the president to come up with a plan.

The amendment was voted down Monday by a vote of 128 in favor and 300 opposed. Among the 79 Democrats who voted against this very sensible request were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Minority Whip Stenny Hoyer.

I don’t normally rag on our leadership, but how can they justify this vote? I want an explanation.

Now We’ve Done Gone And Pissed Off The Whole World

From Holden:

Now that Newsweek’s Koran abuse story has been corroborated by the Red Cross, the FBI, and the Pentagon Muslims all over the world are taking to the streets.

Madras (India)

REUTERS/Babu

Click the “Read More” button below for images from Pakistan, Israel, Iraq, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Bangladesh.

Continue reading

Get Down With Your Bad Self

From Holden:

How did I miss this story from the April 16, 2005, Boston Globe about Condi Rice’s speech at a luncheon for the American Society of Newspaper Editors?

But perhaps the most surprising news came from the editor who introduced Rice, saying the secretary of state once held the title of ”Disco Queen of South Bend, Indiana.”

”You’ve got quite a research department,” Rice responded in the opening sentences of her address. ”I want to assure everybody, it’s actually not that hard to be the disco queen of South Bend, Indiana,” Rice said. ”There’s not that much competition in South Bend, Indiana.”

Judge Cites Lies in Deciding Against Bush Assministration

From Holden:

Looks like the Assminstration’s losing streak will continue for a while.

A federal judge in Oregon ruled Thursday that the Bush administration had arbitrarily limited and skewed its analysis of the harm that 14 federal dams cause to endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead.

As a result, Judge James A. Redden of Federal District Court ruled, the administration had shirked its duty to ensure that government actions were not likely to jeopardize the survival of the species.

The ruling came in a challenge by environmentalists, fishing groups and Indian tribes to the administration’s determination that the harm the hydropower dams were posing to the young salmon and steelhead could be remedied over the next 10 years by $6 billion in improvements to the dams, including spillways designed to get the fish through safely.

[snip]

The ruling comes at a moment when unexpectedly low returns of spring Chinook salmon to their spawning grounds to produce the next generation have caused great concern among fishing interests.

[snip]

It was the third time that federal courts in Portland have rejected the fisheries services analysis of how federal actions might affect the fish and what could be done. The first two were in the Clinton administration. The second, completed shortly before George W. Bush was inaugurated, included the possibility of dam removal, as a last resort, to protect the fish.

The Bush administration’s biological opinion last fall treated the dams as an immutable part of the landscape. The environmental and tribal groups that had objected to that opinion embraced the ruling.

John Kober, wildlife program manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a telephone interview: “We applaud this decision. What the Bush administration was trying to do was essentially rewrite the Endangered Species Act by ignoring the most egregious impact to species, such as salmon in this case, on a technicality, discretion.”

Charles Hudson, a spokesman for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which represents the four tribes with treaty rights to fish in the rivers, said in an interview, “, “He takes on, head-on, the Bush administration’s attempt to rewrite recovery, federal recovery policy on the Columbia River.”

Scientific Breakthrough

From Holden:

Scientists have recently discoverd the factors that contribute to the development of trolls.

Baby boys are far more likely to have smaller, less developed genitals if their mothers had high levels of chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, detergents, medicines and plastics, a study released today said.

Spreading Democracy By Arming The World’s Dictators

From Holden:

If the new bankruptcy law applied to the morals of the Bush assministration those assholes would never be able to get out of debt.

As the United States is trying to secure new allies in its fight against terrorism, the study by the World Policy Institute – a research group based at the New School University – says that the nation has expanded the sales of weapons to countries that were once prohibited from receiving American-made goods because of their poor human rights records.

Among the countries are Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Algeria and Uzbekistan. Some two dozen countries have either become first-time recipients since Sept. 11 or have been readmitted to the program after long absences.

The study found that the largest aid program, Foreign Military Financing, increased 68 percent from 2001 to 2003, to reach $6 billion – a peak amount – before trending back to a current $4.5 billion.

More than half of the top 25 recipients in 2003, either through the commercial sales program or through foreign military sales, were countries that the State Department has defined as undemocratic.

They included Saudi Arabia (purchases of $1.1 billion); Egypt ($1 billion); Kuwait ($153 million); and the United Arab Emirates ($110 million).

In other cases, weapons were sold to countries having internal conflicts, including Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, or where the human rights record was “poor,” according to the State Department; this category included Nigeria, Tunisia and Nepal.

[snip]

[T]he author of the report, William Hartung, said the equipment could end up “fueling conflict, arming human rights abusers or falling into the hands of U.S. adversaries.”

Charles Pena, a military specialist at the Cato Institute, a Washington research group that promotes free-market policies, said that while arms transfers were preferable to sending troops, there are risks.

“If a regime can use these arms to subdue their own population,” Mr. Pena said, “this could come back to haunt us. We need to be more mindful of the long-term implications, especially in the Muslim world.”

More Progress

From Holden:

We don’t need no stinking plan!

The House of Representatives voted down a measure, by a 128 to 300 vote, that called on President Bush to devise a plan for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Two soldiers killed yesterday whenthier helicopter was shot down near Buqubha, which in Dear Leader’s mind is proof that we are winning.

Unka Dick needs to bust some union ass!

Some 300 Filipinos employed at a US military camp in Iraq went on strike this week to protest poor working conditions, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

The workers, under contract from Prime Projects International and [Halliburton subsidiary] Kellog Brown and Root, are based in Camp Cooke in the province of Taji, the ministry said.

[snip]

Despite a travel ban to Iraq, the Philippines is the biggest supplier of manpower for US-led coalition forces, with an estimated 6,000 Filipinos working in various camps.

The [Philippine] government last year banned travel to Iraq and brought home its token contingent serving with coalition forces after a Filipino truck driver was kidnapped.

He was later freed and the incident caused a diplomatic tiff between the Philippines and the United States.

Damn You To Hell, Newsweek!!!!

From Holden:

I blame Newsweek for the fact that U.S. soldiers fired on a civilian bus in Baghdad for no apparent reason, killing three.

“American forces opened fire on a minibus in the Dura district, in southern Baghdad, killing three people and wounding four others,” said a defence ministry source.

US military spokesman Lieutenant Jamie Davis confirmed the incident but could not say at what time the bus shooting occurred.

“The details are sketchy and we don’t know who was involved,” Davis said.

Bus driver Abbas Abbas said US troops opened fire after he pulled over to get out of their way.

More Abu Ghraib Photos To Come

From Holden:

Thank whatever diety you wish for the ACLU And while you are reading this bit notice how the guvmint lawyer is suddenly all concerned and shit for the detainees rights under the Geneva Convention.

A federal judge in New York told the Defense Department yesterday that it would have to release perhaps dozens of photographs taken by an American soldier of Iraqi detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The judge, Alvin K. Hellerstein, said at a hearing that photographs would be the “best evidence” in the public debate about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. The hearing, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, came in a Freedom of Information Act suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain material about military prisons in Iraq and Guantnamo Bay, Cuba.

The judge focused on 144 photographs that were turned over to Army investigators last year by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, a reservist who was posted at Abu Ghraib. A small number of the pictures have already been published, including those showing naked detainees piled in a pyramid and simulating sex while their American military captors looked on.

[snip]

“There is another dimension to a picture that is of much greater moment and immediacy” than a document, Judge Hellerstein said in court. He rejected [assistant United States attorney Sean] Lane’s argument that releasing the pictures would violate the Geneva Conventions because some prisoners might be identified and “further humiliated.”

The government could appeal the decision.

Megan Lewis, a lawyer who argued on behalf of the A.C.L.U., said the photographs “could be extremely upsetting and depict conduct that would outrage the American public and be truly horrifying.”

Hug an Embryo for Jeebus!

From Holden:

Now that Chimpy has suddenly discovered the wonders of embryo adoption someone needs to ask Little Scottie if it’s OK for gay couples to get in on the action.

Tanned, Rested and Ready

From Holden:

A British think-tank concludes that the Iraqi insurgency has been re-organized and re-energized since the elections.

Iraq’s insurgents, described earlier this year by U.S. officials as a dwindling force, have resisted military efforts to halt their attacks and have an apparent new bombing strategy to inflict headline-grabbing casualties, according to diplomatic and academic experts.

The specialists, including one with extensive experience in Iraq, suggested that Washington misinterpreted a lull in attacks after January’s national elections as a sign that the Iraqi insurgency was dying out or relaxing its effort to force a foreign military retreat.

Instead, the experts said, the insurgents have shown patience as they regrouped, devised new strategies and repeatedly demonstrated an ability to thwart U.S.-led efforts to stabilize Iraq. The persistent campaign of attacks has demoralized the population while proving the insurgents can withstand repeated military offensives designed to defang them.

[snip]

Toby Dodge, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the insurgents have exposed how vulnerable Iraqi police and army troops would be if U.S.-led multinational forces withdrew. As a result, U.S. and British troops, who form the largest foreign contingents, should expect to remain in Iraq indefinitely.

“I don’t think we have a viable exit strategy,” Dodge said.

[snip]

Gen. George Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, told CNN in late March that if all went well, “we should be able to take some fairly substantial reductions in the size of our forces” by this time next year.

“The magnitude of the task it (Iraq) faces is indicated by the fact that 155,000 U.S. troops failed to impose order during two years of occupation,” the survey said.

[snip]

Dodge said it is wrong to assume that most of the activity comes from bands of “transnational jihadists” who seek to use Iraq as a staging ground for a holy war against the West.

“Militarily, it’s a security vacuum that various groups have stepped into,” including militant nationalists, criminal gangs and those Iraqis who continue to view the U.S. military presence “as a potent focus for resentment and alienation,” he said.

Islamist militants include a large Iraqi contingent and “a smaller, much more radical and much more violent” group of transnational fighters, Dodge said.

“I would assume that the U.S. tactic – and I would hope that the new government’s tactic – would be to split the radical fringe from the mainstream fighters” and draw the latter group into a dialogue.

“But I have yet to see evidence that that is the U.S. … or the new Iraqi government’s policy,” he said, suggesting the intensified state of bloodshed could continue well into the future.

Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

In today’s gaggle coverage I want to focus your attention on the excellent questions asked by two gagglers who I normally use as punching bags.

First up, Raghubir Goyal asks about progress in Afghanistan.

Q The question is — the question is that ex-Taliban foreign minister in Afghanistan, Mr. Wakil Ahmed — Mullah Wakil, he said that his government made a mistake by hosting Omar Mullah and also Osama bin Laden. And now he’s running for the parliament as the leader of the Taliban. And also in — according to a Pakistan newspaper, Omar Mullah, he criticized Afghanistan and the U.S. strategy — or the joint statement yesterday.

My question is that now we’re talking about Omar Mullah is still alive in Pakistan or somewhere because he’s making statement from Pakistan. And ex-foreign minister is running on the Taliban ticket in Afghanistan.

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re speculating things there.

Q And the ex-foreign minister is running on a Taliban ticket, so where do we stand as far as terrorism is concerned in the future in Afghanistan and the democracy?

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been a tremendous progress in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. Afghanistan now has a democratically elected President in place, and as you heard from the two leaders the other day, we stand firmly behind the people of Afghanistan as they move forward on building a lasting democracy and sustaining that democracy.

Nice one, Goyal.

Next, a fabulous question from none other than my buddy Les Kinsolving.

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, “I was an embryo.” And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known —

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed — he’s not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you’ve made your views known, as well. The President —

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is —

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President’s views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life —

Q If they were clear, I wouldn’t have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: — and if you want to ask those questions, that’s fine. I’m just not going to dignify them with a response.

Hoo-boy, Les has some big brass balls. “If they were clear, I wouldn’t have asked.” I love that line!

After seeing how Jenna and NotJenna turned out, let’s hope the president does not oppose contraception.

Increasingly Unpopular War President

From Holden:

The latest in the great job approval decline of 2005.

CBS News Poll

Approve 46%

Disapprove 48%

Quinnipiac University Poll

Approve 44%

Disapprove 50%

Another Reason for the Hatred

From Holden:

A former Wall Street trader who rejoined the Marines after the Sept. 11 attacks will not be tried on murder charges for killing two suspected Iraqi insurgents, a Marine general decided Thursday.

The decision by Maj. Gen. Richard Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, ends the prosecution of 2nd Lt. Ilario Pantano, whom prosecutors accused of killing the men without justification.

[snip]

The two Iraqis were killed during an April 2004 search outside a suspected terrorist hideout in Mahmudiyah, Iraq. Pantano, 33, contended he shot them in self-defense after the men disobeyed his instructions and made a menacing move toward him.

Prosecutors alleged Pantano intended to make an example of the men by shooting them 60 times and hanging a sign over their bodies — “No better friend, no worse enemy,” a Marine slogan. While citing self-defense as his motive, Pantano did not deny hanging the sign or shooting the men repeatedly.

[snip]

Pantano is now helping to train troops at Camp Lejeune, but his attorney said he hopes the decision will clear the way for the Marine to return to a combat unit.

Link.

I don’t have a problem with Lt. Pantano slipping the double-murder charge. If there was no evidence to support the allegation that he killed the two men without reason then justice has been done.

However Lt. Pantano has openly admitted to pumping sixty rounds into the dead bodies of the two men and then hanging a sign over the corpses. His actions are a clear violation of Articles 15 and 17 of the First Geneva Convention:

Art. 15. At all times, and particularly after an engagement, Parties to the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and sick, to protect them against pillage and ill-treatment, to ensure their adequate care, and to search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled.

Art. 17 They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be found.

The fact that Lt. Pantano has been allowed to violate the Geneva Conventions (and thus U.S. law) is bad enough. The fact that he has been training new recruits at Camp Lejune is simply outrageous.

Laura Just Loves Those Violent Tyrants

From Holden:

After all, she married one. On Monday she gave the Egyptian president-for-life the tongue.

In front of the pyramids, Laura Bush said on Monday that building democracy is a slow process, and she praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for what she called an important first step toward open elections.

“I think he’s been very bold and wise to take the first step,” Mrs. Bush said of the president who has served 24 years without facing an opposing candidate for re-election.

[snip]

Mrs. Bush told reporters that sometimes “you have to be slow” when implementing political freedoms.

That’s right, folks, Mrs. Bush wants it, but she wants it slooooow. Is 24 years in power slow enough for you, Laura?

Yesterday we saw an exercise of Mubarak’s boldness and wisdom.

Crowds of pro-government demonstrators attacked opponents of President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday while police stood by, staining a day of national voting that government leaders had touted as a major step toward democracy.

In some cases, pro-Mubarak protesters dragged unarmed men and women by the hair and beat them with police-style rubber truncheons. In other cases, young men who arrived marching in formation groped female demonstrators and used wood poles bearing cardboard portraits of Mubarak to beat rival demonstrators over the head in plain view of hundreds of uniformed police.

(AP Photo)

(AFP/File/Cris Bouroncle)

Maybe Laura should leave diplomacy to the professionals like Condi Rice and John Bolton and…

We’re fucked, aren’t we.