Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, January 02, 2009
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A Message from Detroit
Sunday, December 07, 2008
More Great Depression Economics
"In retrospect it was inevitable. The stock market had been built on a honeycomb of loans that could bear just so much strain and no more. And more than that, there were shaky timbers and rotten wood in the foundation which propped up the magnificent show of prosperity.
The national flood of income was indubitably imposing in its bulk, but when one followed its course into its millions of terminal rivulets, it was apparent that the nation as a whole benefited very unevenly from its flow. Some 24,000 families at the apex of the social pyramid received a stream of income three times as large as 6 million families squashed at the bottom--the average income of the fortunate families at the peak was 630 times the average income of the families at the base. Nor was this the only shortcoming. Disregarded in the hullabaloo of limitless prosperity were two million citizens out of work, and ignored behind their facade of classical marble, banks were failing at the rate of two a day for six years before the crash. And then there was the fact that the average American had used his prosperity in a suicidal way; he had mortgaged himself up to his neck, had extended his resources dangerously under the temptation of installment buying, and then had ensured his fate buying fantastic quantities of stock--some 300 million shares, it is estimated--not outright, but on margin."
--Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers pp. 247-48 (5th ed. 1980)
Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Judge Bork has been a leading advocate of restricting plaintiffs' ability to recover through tort law. In a 2002 article published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy--the official journal of the Federalist Society--Bork argued that frivolous claims and excessive punitive damage awards have caused the Constitution to evolve into a document which would allow Congress to enact tort reforms that would have been unconstitutional at the framing
Windows Vista Tech Support
Friday, June 01, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation.
Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week. Ford wanted to give the Commander-in-Chief an actual demonstration of the innovative vehicle, so the automaker arranged for an electrical outlet to be installed on the South Lawn and ran a charging cord to the hybrid. However, as Mulally followed Bush out to the car, he noticed someone had left the cord lying at the rear of the vehicle, near the fuel tank.
"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I started walking faster, and the President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the front," Mulally said. "I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not into the hydrogen This is all off the record, right?"
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Religion and the Troops
It is not easy to get people to die for Richard Nixon, but it is possible to get people to die for Mohammed or Jesus. So religion is again being exploited by politicians in various parts of the world. It is a terrible tragedy, but it is happening.
Likewise, whenever there is a war, politicians always say, 'You may not like this, this may be hard or whatever, but at least support the troops.' Support those good, honest American/German/you-pick-the-country boys at the front, which really means, 'Support me" or 'Don't criticize me,' otherwise 'you are not supporting the troops.'"
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The Dope on Rudy Giuliani
Monday, February 05, 2007
Friday, February 02, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thoughts on Hunter Thompson's Death
-- Ralph Steadman, The Joke's Over: Bruised Memories: Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson and Me 2006
Thursday, January 04, 2007
"Omitted from McHenry's plea for fairness was the fact that the GOP had ignored Pelosi's 2004 request -- while routinely engaging in the procedural maneuvers that her plan would have corrected. Was the gentleman from North Carolina asking Democrats to do as he says, not as he did?
"Look, I'm a junior member," young McHenry protested. "I'm not beholden to what former congresses did."
Anne Kornblut of the New York Times asked McHenry if his complaint might come across as whining.
"I'm not whining," he whined."
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Iraq War Longer than WW II
As of today, the conflict in Iraq has raged for three years and just over eight months.
Only the Vietnam War (eight years, five months), the Revolutionary War (six years, nine months), and the Civil War (four years) have engaged America longer.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Public Service Announcement
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Time Magazine Finally Gets It
Read the story here.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Why to Vote Against the Republicans
Monday, October 30, 2006
"Mauricio Raponi wanted to vote for Democrats across the board at the Lemon City Library in Miami on Thursday. But each time he hit the button next to the candidate, the Republican choice showed up. Raponi, 53, persevered until the machine worked. Then he alerted a poll worker."
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Stay the Course Redux
Friday, October 27, 2006
He's also a
big fat idiot.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Cheney Admits to Waterboarding
The V.P. of Torture says it's a "no-brainer."
Monday, October 23, 2006
It's time to change the course. Courtesy of YouTube
Arrogance and Stupidity
that the U.S. acted with "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq.
The State Department explanation: Bad translation of the interview.
Here's the relavant excerpt from the transcript:
"Of course, some historians, history will judge American history in
Iraq. We tried to do our best but I think there is much room for
criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was
stupidity from the United States in Iraq."
Stay the Course?
"STEPHANOPOULOS: Exactly what I wanted to ask you about, because James Baker said that he's looking for something between cut and run…
BUSH: Cut and run and.
STEPHANOPOULOS: … and stay the course.
BUSH: Well, 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 the tactics, constantly."
BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]
BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq.
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
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.
BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the
Saturday, October 21, 2006
A Day of National Shame
Friday, October 20, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
181 Reasons Not To Vote For Joe Lieberman
Monday, October 16, 2006
NPR about Bush's policies:
"A local federal judge's radio show diatribe about tactics in the war
on terrorism is turning into a test of what members of the judiciary
can say when they sound off publicly.
Venting in an e-mail to National Public Radio, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge
Leif M. Clark last week denounced the recently passed legislation that
limits the rights of terror suspects to challenge their detentions and
see certain evidence against them.
"These are the tactics of the old Soviet Union, not of a country that
stands for freedom and the rule of law," Clark, responding to a NPR
discussion of the legislation, opined in the message that was posted in
full on the network's Web site and read aloud Thursday on Morning
The result: Clark's e-mail now is under review by the chief judge of
the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the tribunal that disciplines federal
judicial misconduct in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi."
"Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith H. Jones said that while no one has
formally complained about Clark's e-mail, she has the authority to
initiate a disciplinary review. Given current political concerns about
judicial discipline, she added, it was her responsibility to consider
the matter seriously.
Even so, Jones stressed she hasn't yet made up her mind. Clark's
comments "may or may not be a violation of anything," she said."
In other news, Richard Posner writes a friggin' book defending the
suspension of civil rights in times of "national emergency."
No double standard at work here, right?
plan to make it through the next few years until he could collect Social
Security: He robbed a bank, then handed the money to a guard and waited for
He pleaded guilty to robbery, and a court-ordered psychological exam found him competent.
"It's a pretty sad story when someone feels that's their only alternative," said defense attorney Jeremy W. Dodgion, who described Bowers as "a charming old man."
Prosecutors had considered arguing against putting Bowers in prison at taxpayer expense, but they worried he would do something more reckless to be put behind bars.
"It's not the financial plan I would choose, but it's a financial plan," prosecutor Dan Cable said.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
The Chimp and the Poodle at the Gay Bar
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Monday, August 07, 2006
GOP Candidate for Congress
Friday, March 17, 2006
Buy this Shirt
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Paging Ann Coulter
Thursday, March 02, 2006
The tapes show Brown on a video teleconference the day before the hurricane made landfall warning President Bush, Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff and other top officials of the looming danger.
"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned in the Aug. 28 briefing. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.
Brown said in the interview that National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield was sounding the alarm about the coming storm and "everyone in the room heard that. Everyone in the room knew the disaster we were facing. It was a disaster we had thought about for two years and had sought funding for so we could do the catastrophic planning to respond to a disaster like that," he said.
For months since the devastation of Katrina, Brown has been the chief scapegoat for what many see as the Bush administration's most glaring failure in its response to the outcry from millions of victims who went without food or shelter for days after the storm. Throughout the controversy Brown maintained he and the Bush administration were fully aware of the danger posed by the Category 4 storm and that he tried, sometimes in vain, to speed officials to take action.
Mr. Bush, who participated in the call from his ranch in Texas, didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Nobody denies that [Saddam Hussein] was supporting al-Qaeda…Well, I shouldn’t say nobody. Nobody with brains.
What the bi-partisan 9-11 commission said about Saddam Hussein’s relationship with al-Qaeda:
The Sept. 11 commission reported yesterday that it has found no “collaborative relationship” between Iraq and al Qaeda, challenging one of the Bush administration’s main justifications for the war in Iraq.
Hatch made his remarks at an invitation-only luncheon. They’ve only been reported in a small Utah paper, The St. George Daily Spectrum.
Monday, February 13, 2006
From Editor & Publisher:
NEW YORK The more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man, sending him to an intensive care unit with his wounds, grew even more curious late Sunday. E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occurred and called Vice President Cheney's office for confirmation.
The confirmation was made but it is not known for certain that Cheney's office, the White House, or anyone else intended to announce the shooting if the reporter, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, had not received word from the ranch owner.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
He's no longer The Hammer, now call him The Bagman.
Tom Delay is now on the House Appropriations Committee, where he can really funnel the payoffs.
The GOP is about as much interested in campaign finance reform as Pablo Escobar was in drug control.
President Bush grabbing Henry Cuellar’s cheeks at the State of the Union. After liberal blogs posted the photo, Rodriguez’s campaign has raked in the cash, more than $70,000 from online donors, according to ActBlue, a Democratic online clearinghouse.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
John McCain is Insane
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Earth is Still Not Flat
In related news:
Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay warn that the GOP must curb its reliance on graft
Michael (heck of a job, Brownie) Brown warns that Louisiana must reduce its reliance on FEMA, and
Dick (Big Time)Cheney declares the CIA must reduce its use of torture.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Friday Afternoon Joke
The robot serves him a perfectly prepared cocktail, and then asks him,
"What's your IQ?" The man replies "150," and the robot proceeds to make
conversation about global warming factors, quantum physics and
spirituality, biomimicry, environmental interconnectedness, string
theory, nano-technology, and sexual proclivities.
The customer is very impressed and thinks, "This is really cool." He
decides to test the robot. He walks out of the bar, turns around, and
comes back in for another drink. Again, the robot serves him the
perfectly prepared drink and asks him, "What's your IQ?" The man
responds, "about a 100." Immediately the robot starts talking, but this
time, about football, NASCAR, baseball, cars, beer, guns, and breasts.
Really impressed, the man leaves the bar and decides to give the robot
one more test. He heads out and returns, the robot serves him and
asks, "What's your IQ?" The man replies, "Er, 50, I think."
And the robot says....... real........ slowly........
"So............... ya .......... gonna......... vote .........
for........... Bush ........ again???"
Fifty-two percent of adults said Bush's administration since 2001 has been a failure, down from 55 percent in October. Fifty- eight percent described his second term as a failure. At the same point in former President Bill Clinton's presidency, 70 percent of those surveyed by Gallup said they considered it a success and 20 percent a failure.
'Mr. President, when I selected your book, A Million Little Pieces of Democracy, I thought it was a work of non-fiction.'
'Oprah, I understand that. My advisors tell me that I am perfectly within my rights to call it non-fiction. Congress gave me full powers to entertain readers, and I am very serious about that responsibility.'
'But according to The Smoking Gun, there is a lot in the book that isn't true.'
'I was writing with the best intelligence available to me. Intelligence agencies around the world supported the book as factual.'
'To a greater or lesser extent.'
'Well,' Oprah sighed, exasperated, 'It is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped... I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.'
'Now, I know that people may feel that way. But this really isn't about the book at all.'
'The book isn't about the book, sir?'
A confused pause. 'Then what is the book about?'
'It's about spreading Democracy.'
'Into a million little pieces?'
'The more pieces Democracy is in, the freer we are as a people.'
Saturday, January 21, 2006
The New York Times gave the story similar treatment, running a total of eight articles, written by at least eight reporters, comprising 9,044 words.
In contrast, on December 17, 2005 -- the day after the initial disclosure of the Bush administration's use of the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct illegal spying on American citizens, the Washington Post ran three articles, involving eight reporters and 3,227 words -- and that's generously including a USA Patriot Act article in the tally.
Similarly, the Times ran two articles, involving four reporters and 3,076 words.
All told, on January 22, 1998, the Times and the Post ran 19 articles (five on the front page) dealing with the Clinton investigation, totaling more than 20,000 words and reflecting the words of at least 28 reporters -- plus the editorial boards of both newspapers.
In contrast, on December 17, 2005 the Times and the Post combined to run five articles about the NSA spying operation, involving 12 reporters and consisting of 6,303 words.
So, the press likes stories about blowjobs more than they like stories about Presidential abuses of the Constitution, by a factor of 3:1.
Read more here.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
History provides instructive examples of committee lawyers helping conduct important Congressional hearings. Congress hired outside counsel to examine witnesses in both the Watergate and Iran Contra sessions. Supreme Court confirmation hearings are no less important. The next time a seat on the Court opens, the Judiciary Committee members should check their egos and hire lawyers who will force both the Committee and the nominee to put substance before spectacle."
Read more here.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Robertson also pointed to the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as further evidence that God is punishing leaders willing to divide Israel.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Bush Elected Presnit of Iraq
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
"In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration.
There is at least a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violate a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence."
Read the full Report here.
One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The Cheney Resolution here.
House Resolution 636 seeks to censure the President for failing to respond to repeated requests for information on pre-war intelligence, possible war crimes against detainees and violation of international law, and retaliatory action against critics of the administration. House Resolution 637 seeks censure the Vice President for the same alleged abuses of power and failure to respond to repeated requests for information and testimony.
Bush Flip-Flops on Search Warrants
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
Bush, December 2005:
“To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks. So, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, I authorized the interception of international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. … This program has targeted those with known links to al Qaeda. I've reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for so long as our nation is -- for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens.”
'Berto: Congress Authorized Us to Wiretap Americans, But We Didn't Ask for Such Authorization Because We Were Afraid Congress Wouldn't Give It
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, one might make that same argument in connection with detention of American citizens, which is far more intrusive than listening into a conversation. There may be some members of Congress who might say, we never --
Q That's your interpretation. That isn't Congress' interpretation.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, I'm just giving you the analysis --
Q If FISA didn't work, why didn't you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally?
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That question was asked earlier. We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get, certainly not without jeopardizing the existence of the program, and therefore, killing the program. And that -- and so a decision was made that because we felt that the authorities were there, that we should continue moving forward with this program."
—GWB, Austin, Texas, Nov. 22, 2000
Who could have imagined he was serious?
"Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has become the first in the Senate to raise consideration of impeachment of President George W. Bush for authorizing spying on Americans without warrants, RAW STORY has learned.
In a release issued this evening, Boxer said she's asked "four presidential scholars" for their opinion on impeachment after former White Housel counsel John Dean -- made famous by his role in revealing the Watergate tapes -- asserted that President Bush had 'admitted' to an 'impeachable offense.'"
Monday, December 19, 2005
FROST: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.
NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.
FROST: By definition.
NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position.
Alberto Gonzalez, December 19, 2005:
"We believe that the president has the inherent authority as commander in chief under the Constitution to engage in signals intelligence of our enemy, against al Qaeda, but we also believe the president has statutory authority."
Friday, December 16, 2005
HOLLYWOOD - Outspoken actor Tom Cruise has been criticized by
firefighters suffering the effects of smoke inhalation from the World
Trade Center terrorist attacks for his controversial views on their
The Scientology devotee has urged emergency services victims to give
up their medication and inhalers as part of a 'purification rundown,’
which favors sauna sessions, ingestion of cooking oil and large doses
of niacin as cures instead.
As co-founder of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project,
Cruise has also supported a new Scientology clinic preaching these
remedies near the Ground Zero site.
But the unorthodox therapy has been slammed as ridiculous and
potentially harmful by members of the medical profession, as well as
Deputy Fire Commissioner Frank Gribbon tells gossip site PageSix.com,
"If our doctors are prescribing medication, and they (Scientologists)
are saying 'don't take it,' that's a problem for us."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
These guys really have no shame.
based on faulty intelligence.
``It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,''
Bush said today in the final speech in a series intended to outline his
Iraq strategy. ``Given Saddam's history and the lessons of September
the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right
``I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq,'' the president
said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington. ``I'm
also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our
intelligence capabilities, and we're doing just that.''
Surprised that Rove let him fess up.
But maybe Rove is preoccupied with other things. Word is Fitzgerald is
back before the grand jury today.
Torture: Slicing the Salami
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Terminator Lives Up to His Name
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Condi Corleone Can't Dodge Torture Questions
Republican Family Values
did for a living.
All the typical answers came up: fireman, mechanic, businessman,
salesman, doctor, lawyer and so forth.
But little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the
teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, "My father's an
exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front
of other men and they put money in his underwear. Sometimes, if the
offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and have sex with
him for money."
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the
other children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin
aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?!"
"No," the little boy said, "He works for the Republican National
Committee and helped re-elect George W. Bush, but I was too
embarrassed to say that in front of all the other kids."
Monday, December 05, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.
The 73-page memo, dated Dec. 12, 2003, has been kept under tight wraps for two years. Lawyers who worked on the case were subjected to an unusual gag rule. The memo was provided to The Post by a person connected to the case who is critical of the adopted redistricting map. Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department.
Mark Posner, a longtime Justice Department lawyer who now teaches law at American University, said it was 'highly unusual' for political appointees to overrule a unanimous finding such as the one in the Texas case.
'In this kind of situation, where everybody agrees at least on the staff level . . . that is a very, very strong case,' Posner said. 'The fact that everybody agreed that there were reductions in minority voting strength, and that they were significant, raises a lot of questions as to why it was' approved, he said."
Full story here.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
To describe Iraq as the most foolish war of the last 2,014 years is a sweeping statement, but the writer is well qualified to know.
He is Martin van Creveld, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the world's foremost military historians. Several of his books have influenced modern military theory and he is the only non-American author on the US Army's list of required reading for officers."
Read more here
Texas Monthly Magazine, May 2005 issue:
Percentage of population with health insurance
Percentage of high school graduates age 25 and over
Percentage of insured low-income children
Average consumer credit score
Per capita spending on government employee wages and salaries
Per capita spending on government administration
Affordability of homeowners’ insurance
Affordability of residential electric bill
Tax revenue raised per capita
Per capita spending on state arts agencies
Total general expenditures per capita
Per capita spending on water quality
Amount of monthly Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits paid
Per capita spending on parks and recreation
Mean Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores
Average spending per child on child protection
Percentage of workforce represented by a union
Amount of welfare and food-stamp benefits paid
Percentage of poor who receive Medicaid
Per capita spending on environmental protection
Per capita spending on mental health
Per capita spending on the protection of open spaces
Average hourly earnings
Per capita spending on public health
Number of secondary teachers with degrees in the subject they teach
Percentage of women ages 50–69 who received mammograms within the last
Total assets of banks, trust companies, and savings institutions
Home ownership rate
And here's the Top 5:
Total crime rate
Number of diabetes deaths per 100,000 people
Percentage of children living in poverty
Per capita consumption of energy
Percentage of population that is malnourished
Sales tax dependence
Percentage of population that goes hungry
Overall birth rate
Teenage birth rate
Amount of exposure to ozone pollution
Number of hazardous-chemical spills
Number of inmates per 100,000 people
Number of highway fatalities
Number of adults diagnosed with diabetes
Child population growth
Percentage of uninsured children
Percentage of home refinance loans that are sub-prime mortgage loans
(generally three to four percentage points or more higher than a
comparable prime market loan)
Amount of toxic and cancerous manufacturing emissions
Number of clean-water permit violations
Number of environmental civil rights complaints
Per capita consumption of electricity
Number of job discrimination lawsuits filed
Number of deaths attributed to floods
Number of executions
Monday, November 28, 2005
The Rude Pundit Declares War on Christmas
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
No Exit Strategy
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Speaking at the Time Warner Center last night, Scalia said: "The election was dragged into the courts by the Gore people. We did not go looking for trouble."
But he said the court had to take the case.
"The issue was whether Florida's Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court [would decide the election.] What did you expect us to do? Turn the case down because it wasn't important enough?"
Er, Nino, Bush filed that lawsuit, not Gore. And "certiorari" is discretionary.
Bill Maher's Advice for President Bush
money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war
because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term
has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your
The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you.
Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk
away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the
baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How
about cowboy or spaceman? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many
other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't.
I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela.
Eliminating the sales tax on yachts Turning the space program over to the
church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now.
Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly
I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe
that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he
never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four
airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New
Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm
just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'"
Monday, November 21, 2005
Senator Biden's Views on Iraq
Biden Delivers Major Address on Iraq
***AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY***
Turning the Corner in Iraq
A speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Council on Foreign Relations - New York City - November 21, 2005
Mr. BIDEN: Today, I want to talk to you about Iraq. I want to start by addressing the question on the minds of most Americans: when will we bring our troops home?
Here is my conviction: in 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops. In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 American soldiers will follow.
But the real question is this: as Americans start to come home, will we leave Iraq with our fundamental security interests intact or will we have traded a dictator for chaos?
By misrepresenting the facts, misunderstanding Iraq, and misleading on the war, this Administration has brought us to the verge of a national security debacle.
As a result, many Americans have already concluded that we cannot salvage Iraq. We should bring all our forces home as soon as possible.
They include some of the most respected voices on military matters in this country, like Congressman Jack Murtha. They’re mindful of the terrible consequences from withdrawing. But even worse, in their judgment, would be to leave Americans to fight – and to die – in Iraq with no strategy for success.
I share their frustration. But I’m not there yet. I still believe we can preserve our fundamental security interests in Iraq as we begin to redeploy our forces.
That will require the Administration not to stay the course, but to change course and to do it now.
And though it may not seem like it, there is actually a broad consensus on what the Administration must do.
Last week, 79 Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together and said to the President: we need a plan for Iraq.
Level with us. Give us specific goals and a timetable for achieving each one so we know exactly where we are and where we are going.
As I have been urging for some time, that will require as many changes at home as on the ground. The gap between the Administration’s rhetoric and the reality of Iraq has opened a huge credibility chasm with the American people.
The problem has been compounded by the President’s failure to explain in detail his strategy and to report regularly on both the progress and the problems.
As David Brooks reminded us in the New York Times yesterday, “Franklin Roosevelt asked Americans to spread out maps before them and he described, step by step, what was going on in World War II, where the U.S. was winning and where it was losing. Why can’t today’s president do that? Why can’t he show that he is aware that his biggest problem is not in Iraq, it’s on the home front?”
I want to see the President regain the American people’s trust. It is vital to our young men and women in Iraq today -- and to our security -- that we get this right. George Bush is our President – and he will be there for another three years. I want him to succeed.
Leveling with the American people is essential, but it is not enough.
The President has to be realistic about the mission and forget his grandiose goals. Iraq will not become a model democracy anytime soon.
Instead, we need to refocus our mission on preserving America’s fundamental interests in Iraq.
There are two of them: We must ensure Iraq does not become what it wasn’t before the war: a haven for terrorists. And we must do what we can to prevent a full-blown civil war that turns into a regional war.
To accomplish that more limited mission and to begin to redeploy our troops responsibly we must make significant, measurable progress toward three goals over the next six months:
One, we must help forge a political settlement that gives all of Iraq’s major groups a stake in keeping the country together.
Two, we must strengthen the capabilities of Iraq’s government and revamp the reconstruction program to deliver real benefits.
Three, we must accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces and transfer control to them.
Let me discuss each goal, one at a time.
First, we need to build a political consensus, starting with the Constitution, that gives the Kurds, Shi’a, and Sunnis a stake in keeping Iraq together. Iraq cannot be salvaged by military might alone.
Last month, the Constitution passed overwhelmingly. But the vast majority of Sunni Arabs voted “no.” Unless changes are made by next spring, it will become a document that divides rather than unites Iraq.
All sides must compromise. Sunnis must accept the fact that they no longer rule Iraq. But unless Shiites and Kurds give them a stake in the new order, they will continue to resist it.
If the situation devolves into a full-blown civil war, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put Iraq back together again.
Does anyone here support using American troops to fight a civil war against the Sunnis on behalf of the Kurds and Shiites? I don’t – and I doubt many Americans would. But if we fail to forge a political consensus soon, that is what our troops will be dragged into.
The Bush Administration was AWOL until the arrival of Ambassador Khalilzad this summer. We let the Iraqis fend for themselves in writing a Constitution. In our absence, no headway was made.
We can’t make those mistakes again. We need to be fully engaged. Next month, there is an election for the National Assembly, and I expect Sunnis to turn out in large numbers.
After the elections, we must turn our attention immediately to encouraging the Kurds and Shi’a to make genuine compromises.
Our Ambassador can’t be the only one in the room cajoling Iraqis. We need a regional strategy that persuades Iraq’s neighbors to wield their influence with the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds for political compromise. They will do it, because no one other than the terrorists has an interest in Iraq descending into civil war.
The major powers also have a stake. Europe has un-integrated Muslim populations that are vulnerable to Middle East extremism. India and China need stable oil supplies.
Our Allies must get over bruised feelings and help forge a political consensus. We must get over our reluctance to fully involve them.
We should form a Contact Group that becomes Iraq’s primary international interlocutor. That would take some of the burden off of us… and maximize the pressure on Iraq’s main groups to compromise.
I’ve called for a regional strategy and an international Contact Group repeatedly. So have three former Republican Secretaries of State – Shultz, Kissinger, and Powell. It’s what the Clinton Administration did in the Balkans. It’s what this Administration did in Afghanistan. Organized, sustained international engagement can make all the difference.
But it will only happen if America leads.
MINISTRIES THAT WORK/A RECONSTRUCTION PLAN
Second, we need government ministries that work and provide basic services, and we need to re-do the reconstruction program to deliver real benefits.
Right now, Iraq’s ministries are barely functional. They make FEMA look like the model of efficiency.
The Bush Administration belatedly has developed plans to build up the government’s capacity. But there aren’t enough civilian experts with the right skills to do the job.
We need a civilian commitment in Iraq equal to our military one. I recommend the President and Secretary of State consider ordering staff to Baghdad –- if there are shortages. Just as military personnel are required to go to Iraq, why shouldn’t the same apply to the foreign service? The dedication and courage of the foreign service officers I’ve met on my five trips to Iraq is extraordinary. They will take the toughest assignments if we ask them.
This should not be their burden alone. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Blair proposed individual countries be partnered with ministries. It’s a good idea. But it got a lukewarm reception. We should revive it.
Our military commanders tell me: we can’t defeat the insurgency unless we have a reconstruction program that makes a difference to ordinary Iraqis. Congress gave the Administration $20 billion for reconstruction. There is far too little to show for it.
Raw sewage is in too many streets. Lights are on less than half the day. The water isn’t safe to drink in too many homes.
Unemployment rates are around 40 percent. If 40 percent of Iraqis have no job and no hope, the insurgency will always find fresh recruits.
We were told before the war, oil would pay for reconstruction. Two-and-a-half years after Saddam’s statue fell, Iraq still is not exporting what it did before the war. They are 700,000 barrels per day below target. That is roughly $15 billion in lost revenues a year.
This President has the only oil company in the world losing money.
Projects have been delayed or never started. Now, the money is nearly gone, and the needs are still great. The President has yet to explain how he will fill the gap.
Of the $13.5 billion in non-American aid pledged at the Madrid conference two years ago, only $3 billion has been delivered, and even less spent.
The Administration is creating Provincial Reconstruction Teams, modeled on the civil-military effort in Afghanistan. They will focus on getting local governments to deliver services. It’s a good idea, but it’s long overdue – and it’s not enough.
We should step up our recruiting of Allied civilian experts for the reconstruction teams.
I would redirect our spending to Iraqi contractors and away from expensive multinationals. Iraqis don’t have to add a line item worth 40 percent of the value of a contract for security. I’m glad to save American taxpayers money.
And we need to get countries that have already pledged economic assistance to actually deliver it -- and pledge more.
It’s time for another Jim Baker mission. The President should ask him to convene a conference with our Gulf allies. These countries have seen huge windfall oil profits, from our pocket books. We’ve gone to war twice in the past decade to protect them and preserve security. It is past time that they step up – and give back.
BUILDING SECURITY FORCES
The third goal is to build Iraqi security forces that can provide law and order in neighborhoods, defeat insurgents, and isolate and eliminate foreign jihadists over time.
The Administration tread water on training for two years. Not until the arrival of General David Patreaus in June 2004, did we start a training program worthy of its name.
Back in Washington, all we have heard from this Administration is misleading number, after number.
In February 2004, Secretary Rumsfeld announced there were over 210,000 Iraqi security forces. He called it “an amazing accomplishment.” Seven months later he said there were 95,000. Now we’re supposedly back over 210,000 trained security forces.
When folks in Delaware hear numbers like that they ask me: why do we have 160,000 American troops in Iraq then?
What we need to know – and what the Administration has refused to tell us until recently – is how many Iraqis can operate without us, or in the lead with U.S. backing?
We’re finally starting to get answers. In September, General Casey said that, two and half years into the training program, one battalion -- less than 1,000 troops -- can operate independently. Another 40 or so can lead counter-insurgency operations with American support.
And there are real concerns that the security forces have more loyalty to political parties than to the Iraqi government that militia members dominate certain units and that others have been infiltrated by insurgent informants.
General Patreaus overhauled the training program. The result is much greater professionalism.
But training takes time. And just as it was getting on track, the Administration reassigned General Patreaus back home. That was a mistake.
The President must tell Congress the schedule for getting Army battalions, regular police, and special forces to the point they can act on their own or in the lead with American support.
We also need to accelerate our training efforts, but not at the expense of quality.
We should urge Iraq to accept offers from France, Egypt and other countries to train troops and police – especially at the officer level -- including outside Iraq
If embedding more Americans with more Iraqi units would do the job, do it.
We should devote whatever resources are necessary to develop the capacity of Iraq’s security ministries. Even the most capable troops will not make a difference if they cannot be supplied, sustained and directed.
And we must focus our efforts on the police, who are lagging behind. Establishing law and order through a competent police force is as important for Iraqis, as defeating insurgents is for us.
DEALING WITH THE INSURGENCY
That leads me to the final piece of the Iraq puzzle: forging an effective counter-insurgency strategy. Until recently, we have not had one.
Our forces would clean out a town. Then they would move to the next hornet’s nest, and the insurgents would return.
Why? Because we did not have enough U.S. troops… or any capable Iraqi troops… to hold what we had cleared.
Meanwhile, neither the Iraqi government nor our reconstruction efforts were capable of building a better future for those temporarily liberated from the violence.
The Administration finally seems to understand the need not only to clear territory, but to hold it, and then to build on it.
The critical question is this: who will do most of the clearing and the holding? We now have no choice but to gamble on the Iraqis.
In the past, I argued that we needed more American troops in Iraq for exactly that purpose. The failure to provide them… and the absence of capable Iraqis… made a “clear and hold” strategy impossible.
We also left huge ammunition depots unguarded, allowed unchecked looting, and created a security vacuum filled by Sunni insurgents, foreign jihadists and common criminals.
But the time for a large number of additional American troops is past.
What we need now is a different mix, with more embedded trainers, civil affairs units and special forces.
The hard truth is that our large military presence in Iraq is both necessary… and increasingly counter-productive.
Our presence remains necessary because, right now, our troops are the only guarantor against chaos. Pulling out prematurely would doom any chance of leaving Iraq with our core interests intact.
But our large presence is also, increasingly, part of the problem.
Two years ago, even one year ago, Iraqis were prepared to accept an even larger American presence if that’s what it took to bring security and real improvements to their lives.
Our failure to do just that has fueled growing Iraqi frustration. A liberation is increasingly felt as an occupation. And we risk creating a culture of dependency, especially among Iraqi security forces.
Even if more troops still made sense, we don’t have more to give. In fact, we cannot sustain what we have now beyond next spring unless we extend deployment times beyond 12 months, send soldiers back for third, fourth, and fifth tours or pull forces from other regions.
That is why it is virtually certain we will redeploy a significant number of forces from Iraq in 2006 and more will follow in 2007.
Assuming we succeed in preventing a civil war, perhaps 20,000 to 40,000 Americans will stay for some time after that to continue training and equipping the Iraqis to keep Iraq’s neighbors honest and to form a rapid reaction force to prevent jihadists from establishing a permanent base in Iraq.
If – if -- that redeployment is accompanied by measurable progress in forging a political settlement, building real Iraqi governing capacity and transferring control to effective Iraqi security forces, we can start the journey home from Iraq with our fundamental interests intact.
But if we fail to implement the plan I’ve described, then Iraq is likely to become a Bush-fulfilling prophecy – a terrorist training ground – and we’ll see a full blown civil war that could become a regional war.
If that happens, nothing we can do will salvage Iraq. We’ll be reduced to trying to contain the problem from afar. Those who today are calling for us to leave will be proved tragically prescient. I still believe that, if the Administration follows the plan I’ve outlined today – and if the President brings it to the American people and asks for their support -- we can start climbing out of the hole the Administration has dug and start to leave Iraq with our interests intact.
Iraqis of all sects want to live in a stable country. Iraq’s neighbors don’t want a civil war. The major powers don’t want a terrorist haven in the heart of the Middle East.
And the American people want us to succeed. They want it badly. If the Administration listens, if it levels, and if it leads, it can still redeem their faith.
Thanks for listening.
Friday, November 18, 2005
"Karl Rove is commenting:
A spokesman for Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who remains under investigation in this case, said his client didn’t discuss Ms. Plame with Mr. Woodward.
Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton are commenting:
Spokesmen for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was National Security Adviser at the time, and John Bolton, a former top State Department official and now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said neither was Mr. Woodward’s source.
President Bush, Andrew Card, Dan Bartlett and Karen Hughes, all commenting:
On Wednesday, the day Mr. Woodward’s disclosure first appeared in The Post, a long list of senior officials had sent word, either directly or through spokesmen, denying that they were the ones who provided the information to Mr. Woodward in mid-June 2003. They included Mr. Bush, Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff… Dan Bartlett, the counselor; Karen P. Hughes, former counselor and now under secretary of state for public diplomacy.
In truth, there is no policy not to comment. The policy is to issue as many denials as possible and stonewall on everything else."
A Message from Your VP
Former CIA Chief: Cheney is "VP for Torture
The devastating accusations have been made by Admiral Stansfield Turner who labelled Dick Cheney "a vice president for torture".
He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory".
Read more here.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
"The White House likes to insist that it doesn't concern itself with polls. We never believed that before, but now we're starting to wonder. How else can we explain the choice to engage in us-against-them politics on the question of Iraq?
The president's protestations notwithstanding, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have made a career out of dividing, not uniting. They came to Washington in 2000 on the losing side of the popular vote, and they did less than nothing once in office to bring the country back together. The attacks of 9/11 did that for them. Remember the 90 percent approval rating? Remember "We are all Americans"? It took time -- maybe a year too long -- but Bush and Cheney managed to squander every inch of that with divisive judicial nominations, with attacks on the environment, with cynical plays on civil rights and gay marriage, with a war that was neither necessary nor wise.
And here they are again. Revelation after revelation after revelation after revelation after revelation has shown that the Bush administration was less than truthful in its march to war, and now the president and his surrogates have struck back, not by addressing the substance of the accusations but by questioning the patriotism of those who are making them. Sen. Chuck Hagel -- a Republican -- called them out on it earlier this week, and he did it with remarkable eloquence:
"The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them," Hagel said in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations. "Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years ... Vietnam was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late. Some of us who went through that nightmare have an obligation to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam to not let that happen again. To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
The president was asked this morning in Korea whether he agreed with Hagel or with the vice president, who said yesterday that criticisms of the administration's march to war are 'dishonest and reprehensible.'
'The vice president,' Bush said.
'Us against them' works when there's a lot of 'us' and not so many 'them.' But that's not how it is anymore. Bush and Cheney can circle the wagons and point their fingers at those on the outside. But it's small group inside the circle now, a much larger and still growing one outside. A substantial majority of the American people now believe that George W. Bush lied about the reasons for war. Keep forcing the country to take sides, Mr. President, and someone is going to be marginalized in the process. It isn't going to be them."
Cornered, Cheney Throws a Tantrum
Asked by Chilean judge Victor Montiglio about the killing of 3,000 Chilean civilians during the military government, Mr Pinochet, 89, said: "I suffer for these losses, but God does the deeds; he will pardon me if I exceeded in some, which I don't think."
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Read more here.
Chuck Hagel to Bush: Stop Demeaning Democracy
"The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform. This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies.
Vietnam was a national tragedy partly because Members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the Administrations in power until it was too late. Some of us who went through that nightmare have an obligation to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam to not let that happen again. To question your government is not unpatriotic – to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."
Monday, November 14, 2005
O'REILLY: "Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, 'Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead.'
And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.'"
"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."
Friday, November 11, 2005
The White House Thinks You Are Stupid
Duh, Steve. What about the parts that weren't made public?
The whole point is that Democrats did not have access to the same intel as did the White House, nor were they aware of how the intel was being manipulated by Cheney and his gang.
Read more here.
Alito issued the letter one day after all eight Democrats on the committee called for voluminous records involving a 2002 case in which Vanguard was a defendant. They pointed out that Alito had promised at the time of his confirmation to the appeals court seat that he would avoid cases involving Vanguard; Smith Barney; First Federal Savings & Loan of Rochester, N.Y.; and his sister's law firm.
When he listed the companies in the 1990 questionnaire, ''my intention was to state that I would never knowingly hear a case where a conflict of interest existed," Alito said. ''As my service continued, I realized that I had been unduly restrictive."
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, criticized Alito's response in a statement Wednesday. ''I'm troubled to learn that Judge Alito does not stand by his 1990 promise to recuse himself from any cases involving the Vanguard companies," Kennedy said. ''His letter raises serious factual questions, as well as questions of law and judgment."
KENNEDY STATEMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORTS TO EXAGGERATE THREATS IN THEIR MARCH TO WAR
AS CHALABI, THE PENTAGON'S FAVORITE IRAQI DISSIDENT, VISITS D.C., KENNEDY REMINDS SENATE OF CHALABI'S OWN WORDS
"Earlier this week, several of our Republican colleagues came to the Senate floor and attempted to blame individual Democratic Senators for their errors in judgment about the war in Iraq.
It was little more than a devious attempt to obscure the facts and take the focus off the real reason we went to war in Iraq. 150,000 American troops are bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq because the Bush Administration misrepresented and distorted the intelligence to justify a war that America never should have fought.
As we know all too well, Iraq was not an imminent threat. It had no nuclear weapons. It had no persuasive links to Al Qaeda, no connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
But the President wrongly and repeatedly insisted that it was too dangerous to ignore the weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and his ties to Al Qaeda.
In his march to war, President Bush exaggerated the threat to the American people. It was not subtle. It was not nuanced. It was pure, unadulterated fear-mongering, based on a devious strategy to convince the American people that Saddam's ability to provide nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda justified immediate war.
Administration officials suggested the threat from Iraq was imminent, and went to great lengths to convince the American people that it was.
At a roundtable discussion with European journalists last month, Secretary Rumsfeld deviously insisted: "I never said imminent threat."
In fact, Secretary Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee on September 18, 2002, "…Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent -- that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."
In May 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether we went to war "because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to the United States." Fleischer responded, "Absolutely."
What else could National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice have been suggesting, other than an imminent threat -- an extremely imminent threat -- when she said on September 8, 2002, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
President Bush himself may not have used the word "imminent", but he carefully chose strong and loaded words about the nature of the threat -- words that the intelligence community never used -- to persuade and prepare the nation to go to war against Iraq.
In the Rose Garden on October 2, 2002, as Congress was preparing to vote on authorizing the war, the President said the Iraqi regime "is a threat of unique urgency."
In a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, President Bush Specifically invoked the danger of nuclear devastation: "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
At an appearance in New Mexico on October 28, 2002, after Congress had voted to authorize war, and a week before the election, President Bush said Iraq is a "real and dangerous threat."
At a NATO summit on November 20, 2002, President Bush said Iraq posed a "unique and urgent threat."
In Fort Hood, Texas on January 3, 2003, President Bush called the Iraqi regime a "grave threat."
Nuclear weapons. Mushroom cloud. Unique and urgent threat. Real and dangerous threat. Grave threat. These words were the Administration's rallying cry for war. But they were not the words of the intelligence community, which never suggested that the threat from Saddam was imminent, or immediate, or urgent.
It was Vice President Cheney who first laid out the trumped up argument for war with Iraq to an unsuspecting public. In a speech on August 26, 2002, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he asserted: "…We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons…Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon." As we now know, the intelligence community was far from certain. Yet the Vice President had been convinced.
On September 8, 2002, he was even more emphatic about Saddam. He said, "[We] do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon." The intelligence community was deeply divided about the aluminum tubes, but Vice President Cheney was absolutely certain.
One month later, on the eve of the watershed vote by Congress to authorize the war, President Bush said it even more vividly. He said, "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes…which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed…Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists."
In fact, as we now know, the intelligence community was far from convinced of any such threat. The Administration attempted to conceal that fact by classifying the information and the dissents within the intelligence community until after the war, even while making dramatic and excessive public statements about the immediacy of the danger.
In October 2002, the intelligence agencies jointly issued a National Intelligence Estimate stating that "most agencies" believed that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program after inspectors left in 1998, and that, if left unchecked, Iraq "probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade."
The State Department's intelligence bureau, however, said the "available evidence" was inadequate to support that judgment. It refused to predict when "Iraq could acquire a nuclear device or weapon."
About the claims of purchases of nuclear material from Africa, the State Department's intelligence bureau said that claims of Iraq seeking to purchase nuclear material from Africa were "highly dubious." The CIA sent two memorandums to the White House stressing strong doubts about those claims.
But the following January, in 2003, the President included the claims about Africa in his State of the Union Address, and conspicuously cited the British government as the source of that intelligence.
Information about nuclear weapons was not the only intelligence distorted by the Administration. On the question of whether Iraq was pursuing a chemical weapons program, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded in September 2002 that "there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or whether Iraq has -- or will -- establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."
That same month, however, Secretary Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Saddam has chemical weapons stockpiles.
He said, "We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction," that Saddam "has amassed large clandestine stocks of chemical weapons." He said that "he has stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons," and that Iraq has "active chemical, biological and nuclear programs." He was wrong on all counts.
Yet the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate actually quantified the size of the stockpiles, stating that "although we have little specific information on Iraq's CW stockpile, Saddam probably has stocked at least 100 metric tons and possibly as much as 500 metric tons of CW agents -- much of it added in the last year." In his address to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell went further, calling the 100 to 500 metric ton stockpile a "conservative estimate."
Secretary Rumsfeld made an even more explicit assertion in his interview on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on March 30, 2003. When asked about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, he said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
The Administration's case for war based on the linkage between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was just as misguided.
Significantly here as well, the Intelligence Estimate did not find a cooperative relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. On the contrary, it stated only that such a relationship might develop in the future if Saddam was "sufficiently desperate" -- in other words, if America went to war. But the estimate placed "low confidence" that, even in desperation, Saddam would give weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda.
A year before the war began, senior Al Qaeda leaders themselves had rejected a link with Saddam. The New York Times reported last June that a top Al Qaeda planner and recruiter captured in March 2002 told his questioners last year that "the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Al Qaeda leaders, but Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals." According to the Times, an Al Qaeda chief of operations had also told interrogators that it did not work with Saddam.
Mel Goodman, a CIA analyst for 20 years, put it bluntly: "Saddam Hussein and bin Laden were enemies. Bin Laden considered and said that Saddam was the socialist infidel. These were very different kinds of individuals competing for power in their own way and Saddam Hussein made very sure that Al Qaeda couldn't function in Iraq."
In February 2003, investigators at the FBI told the New York Times they were baffled by the Administration's insistence on a solid link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. One investigator said: "We've been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don't think it's there."
But President Bush was not deterred. He was relentless in playing to America's fears after the devastating tragedy of 9/11. He drew a clear link -- and drew it repeatedly -- between Al Qaeda and Saddam.
On September 25, 2002, at the White House, President Bush flatly declared: "You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."
In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, President Bush said, "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda," and that he could provide "lethal viruses" to a "shadowy terrorist network."
Two weeks later, in his Saturday radio address to the nation, a month before the war began, President Bush described the ties in detail, saying, "Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks …"
He said: "Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document-forgery experts to work with Al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. An Al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases. We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad."
Who gave the President this information? The NIE? Scooter Libby? Chalabi?
In fact, there was no operational link and no clear and persuasive pattern of ties between the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda. A 9/11 Commission Staff Statement in June of 2004, put it plainly: "Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between Al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." The 9/11 Commission Report stated clearly that there was no "operational" connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. That fact should have been abundantly clear to the President. Iraq and Al Qaeda had diametrically opposing views of the world.
The Pentagon¹s favorite Iraqi dissident, Ahmed Chalabi, is actually proud of what happened. "We are heroes in error," Chalabi said in February 2004. "As far as we're concerned, we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush Administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords, if he wants."
What was said before does matter. The President's words matter. The Vice President's words matter. So do those of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and other high officials in the Administration. And they did not square with the facts.
The Intelligence Committee agreed to investigate the clear discrepancies, and it's important that they get to the bottom of this, and find out how and why President Bush took America to war in Iraq. Americans are dying. Already more than 2000 have been killed, and more than 15,000 have been wounded.
The American people deserve the truth. It's time for the President to stop passing the buck and for him to be held accountable."
It's deeply regrettable that the President is using Veterans Day as a campaign-like attempt to rebuild his own credibility by tearing down those who seek the truth about the clear manipulation of intelligence in the run up to the Iraq War. Instead of providing open and honest answers about how we will achieve success in Iraq and allow our troops to begin to come home, the President reverted to the same manipulation of facts to justify a war we never should have fought. Each day, the American people learn more and more about the truth. It's time for the President to restore the trust of the American people in their leaders by coming clean about the war and leading us to a place where we can better protect our citizens and restore our leadership in the world. But, today's speech didn't do that. It only further tarnished this White House and further damaged his presidency."