Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Just a Reminder
The new blog, Tangled Webs, is over here. We'll not be blogging here any longer and have move.

Come join us!
Monday, April 16, 2007
Greyhair HERE
Hey YOU. Yeah, YOU.

I'm over here!

Since blogger has bloggered this blog, I've had to set up shop elsewhere. I'm now here.

So if you want to see the latest and greatest greyhairness, go HERE.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Sick of It
Frankly, I'm personally about to tell blogger to go screw itself.

Greyhair here, signed in as Lynne (the only way I can get in).

I've tried to remedy my problem for two days now in various ways. And contacting blogger help is worse than the worst computer phone system you've ever run into. I've gotten zero help.

I'm going to give it a day or so. Next stop, setting up a new blog!

Saturday, April 14, 2007
Greyhair AWOL
As soon as my coblogger gets acquainted with the new blogger, he'll be back online! :)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
All Roads Lead To Rover
Here's a short piece detailing more evidence that the Federal prosecutors were used to implement phony voter fraud intimidations/investigations curtailing Democratic voters.

The short version? He's done it before .... successfully.
I'm torturing myself today and watching the business news channel, CNBC.

They're currently having a hand wringing discussion about Democrats actually gaining power! Oh NO! They might not have a corporate agenda! They may favor union policies! Oh NO! Yet the story is that corporations are now giving more money to Dems than Republicans. Gee, I wonder which way big business thinks the electorate is going?

Corporations aren't stupid. They're going to put money where they think the investment will pay off. Perhaps Dems won't be quite as corporate friendly. But I don't think anyone with a brain is afraid that Dems are going to throw corporations out the door. Business folks want a guaranteed seat at the table, so they give money where power is. And politicians (of any stripe) need the mother's milk - money. It's a marriage made in heaven.

As liberals begin to regain their footing in the power game it's going to be ever more important for citizen institutions, i.e. bloggers, PAC's, non-profits, to stay all over Dems. Corporations should not be ignored. But they are one member of many players who should have an equal voice at the table. This is a weakness and the strength of liberals. We don't sing like a choir when we have power ......
A Stroll In The Marketplace
Needlenose makes a good point today. I wonder how John McCain feels about today's bombing of the Iraqi parliament that is located in the "secure" green zone of Baghdad?
Another Edition Of .....
What Digby said!

Just go give it a read. I'll simply add this. I heard a privacy advocate on PBS last night who capsulized my feelings on the entire issue of data gathering and privacy. He said (paraphrasing) that all gathered data is eventually used. There's no such thing as data gathered and not used. Reassurances that data gathered will be treated as "private" are always wrong.
More about the Chinese economy.

No wonder their stock market is frothy:
BEIJING - China's foreign reserves, already the world's largest, have risen past $1.2 trillion, a state news agency said Thursday, amid surging trade and plans to create a multibillion-dollar company to invest some of the stockpile.

The figure, as of the end of March, represented a 37.4 percent rise over the same period last year, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the central bank.

China's reserves have risen rapidly as huge trade surpluses and foreign investment force Beijing to drain billions of dollars from the economy every month through bond sales to hold down pressure for prices to rise. The money is stockpiled in U.S. Treasury bonds and other foreign assets.
Their surplus is up $300 Billion in one year. The U.S. might as well be loading freighters with cash and shipping them over to China so they can then return with Wal Mart items.

This is a major ticking timebomb. What if the Chinese start putting that money in Euro's instead of Treasuries? And just what kind of leverage does our economic dependence on the Chinese give them politically? To free ourselves would require a substantial economic "readjustment" (read: meltdown). Of course a meltdown would also cause pain in China. But at least they'd have a whole bunch of cash in reserve to soften the blow. What do we have?
Want to see something amazing? This is an artist video rendition of a rotating building that is planned for Dubai (warning, a very short commercial is before the video).

Hope those oil sheiks are saving at least some of that money for when the wells run dry .....
Some of the more conspiratorial thinking among us have suggested that the markets are really controlled to a large extent by "the big boys". I found an example of this phenomena today that is interesting. First, here's last night chart for gold:

The chart maker suggests that we're in for a "smackdown" of gold. There are no shortage of government monetary people who really would rather gold not go wild and the speculation is that they are keeping it trading in a narrow range (the blue box above). Now let's take a look at today's interday chart for gold:

My my. Down boy. Stay in the box!

That's some major hair cut about midday. Wonder what happened to make gold drop $6 dollars like that?

The point is that if you're a little guy investing, make sure you understand the agenda's of the big boys before buying/trading. If you don't follow the movement of the big boys closely, find someone who does and let them swim with the sharks.
The Nasdaq Effect
Much is being made in the economic community about the Chinese stock market. It's being blamed for ups and downs. I have to admit, it seems a bit frothy. But I found this chart to be amazing. It's a overlay comparison of the Nasdaq chart during the recent internet bubble and the Chinese stock market today:

The chart asks a really good question. I'll be following this with interest to see if history is in the midst of repeating itself.
The Rose Mary Woods Affect
Ah huh:
Everyone goes inside with the White House saying that e-mails relating to official government business that were improperly sent through a private system may have been lost. These e-mails, which included communication with Karl Rove and several other officials, could have included key documents in the investigation of the fired U.S. attorneys. There has been growing concern that Bush officials may have used private e-mail accounts, set up through the Republican National Committee, to avoid investigations. The White House said it will try to recover the lost messages.
Yeah, I'm sure the White House is busting it's ass to resurrect these emails.

Update: Oh. By the way. Deletion of these emails is a felony. One of many felonies perpetrated by Rove, Bush, et. al. over the years. But hey, there's been no revelations of blowjobs yet! (although, I have my suspicions about Jeff Gannon)

Update II: Let's make that 5 million felonies.
Have a Tour
I'm sure you've heard by now that the tour of duty for Army soldiers has been extended to 15 months (from 12 months) in order to fuel the escalation. I found this part to be most interesting:
Gates made sure to emphasize that although the new policy doesn't meen the troop buildup will be extended, it will allow the Pentagon the possibility to maintain current troop levels in Iraq for another year.
Another case of the Pentagon enabling Bush, or simply following Bush's orders. By taking this particular route, the military has made allowances for two full Friedman Units, reassuring the Preznit that he has the "flexibility" to do what he perceives is needed.

The Pentagon and military observers have been pointing out for some time that the military is at the "breaking point", yet it never seems to break. Rather the entire military structure is slowly crumbling to bits, much like the way the military was damaged during Vietnam. Like with everything Bush, it will take some time to rebuild (and frankly, I'm not sure if that's a bad thing?). Interestingly, I heard my first news report last night on ABC News of a wife complaining bitterly about her husband having been severely injured after being a stop-loss victim of the escalation. The husband was uninjured in his initial tour, but not so lucky later.

Trust me. At the end of the year Bush and the Pentagon will find a way to continue escalating, that is unless a significant number of Republicans turn against the President and the war. Ball's in their court .... let's see what they do with it.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
"Once I was called to an explosion site," Saad, a humanitarian worker, is quoted as saying in the report.

"There I saw a four-year-old boy sitting beside his mother's body, which had been decapitated by the explosion. He was talking to her, asking her what had happened. He had been taken out shopping by his mum."
I don't believe in Hell but I'm wishing I did. Just for George and his neocon buddies.
Nobody is positive that there is going to be a recession soon. But businesspeople are sure pulling in their horns:

Looks like a classic rollover chart to me.
Ok. So Bush didn't almost blow himself up the other day.

Interesting that the CEO of GM felt ok to make the Pres. the butt of his joke.
Death Watch
Froomkin had this in his column this a.m.:
"Shawn Steele, the former Republican Party chairman in California, said the candidates were being dragged down by their associations with Mr. Bush as well as with the war. Mr. Steele and other Republicans argued that the candidates were in a difficult position as they tried to distance themselves from a president who is having so many difficulties, while at the same time not alienating Republican base voters and donors who remain loyal to Mr. Bush and his foreign policy.

"'It's a dying administration,' Mr. Steele said. 'There's a fatigue factor and there's a rubbing-off when it's not very smart to be closely associated with such low ratings.'"
I think this is the real story of this year's politics.

I was watching a retrospective on Nixon and Watergate last night. What struck me was the large and key role Republicans played in bringing Nixon down. It seems they had better instincts when it came to saving the GOP from an out-of-control President than the current GOP. It continues to be my focus to watch Congressional Republicans as we move into summer ... to see if they ever come to their senses and tell Bush NO (I'm not holding my breath).

Fortunately it appears that this misplaced loyalty by Republicans is going to have the effect of really crippling the GOP. We can only hope it has a cleansing effect.

Update: More:
"Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party’s chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters," reports the New York Times.

"In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic."
Looks like Bush is having a bit of trouble recruiting someone to add another layer of blame management to the war:
"The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation," they write.

"At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said. . . .

"'The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going,' said retired Marine Gen. John J. 'Jack' Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. 'So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, "No, thanks," ' he said. .
My first thought was, isn't that the President's job?

(slapping myself across the forehead) OH yeah, that's right. This is Bush.

Seriously, anyone with half a brain would be crazy to take such a job. There's zero upside and all downside. It may also be unprecedented that a Presidential request is being so roundly turned down.

Update: Just a quick note that one of the main architects of the whole escalation surge strategy, Gen. Jack Keane, turned down the job. I guess it's easier to shoot your mouth off than to actually stand for something.
For some.

If you want to read a pretty good, short, post about why the average person is not particularly optimistic about the recent economic "expansion", go read this.

The short version? This economic recovery has been one of the worst in history.
Easter Egg Hunt
Did you happen to see the surprising video of the traditional White House easter egg hunt?

What Are You Buying Today?
Shoppers concerned with the environment (and their health) strive to make the right choices at the grocery store. Bolthouse Farms, a family-run California company whose products are often seen at organic markets and Whole Foods, seem like a good choice. But what else are you buying?
According to the Washington Spectator, the Bolthouse Foundation is underwritten chiefly with profits from Bolthouse Farms.
Bolthouse requires recipients of its grants to pledge adherence to a statement of faith that includes the declaration that "man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures" and a belief in "the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting punishment of the lost."

Bolthouse Foundation is a major contributor to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).
Created just 13 years ago with the support of such Christian Right powerhouses as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, it is today the nation's leading Christian Right legal organization. Through its National Litigation Academy, ADF has trained more than 900 lawyers, who commit themselves to performing 450 hours of pro bono legal work "on behalf of the body of Christ." It doles out millions of dollars a year to other Christian Right organizations—many of which are already well endowed—to cover attorneys' fees and costs.

And you thought you were just buying an organic tomato.
What A Clod
Can you believe this?
The president invited lawmakers to the White House to discuss the bill but emphasized he's not willing to compromise. Democrats stood firm and said that sort of meeting would be useless.
What a clod.

Of course the point was to make the invitations and have Dems turn him down. Bush is still under the delusion that if he appears to be trying people will support him while he tries to make Democrats look intransigent. Unfortunately Bush forgot to look at the polls on the war where Dems are supported overwhelmingly. Thus, everything Bush does to try and humiliate Congress is essentially equivalent to humiliating the American public. By the Dems refusing to play, they are the proxy middle finger of the American public to the President.

Point Dems.

Rove is definately off his game. He's like a general who is fighting the last war.
I just heard on CNBC that margin debt is at a new high. Margin debt is money borrowed by investors (read: speculators) to buy/short stocks. It also means that the market rally is being fueled by credit. This is ok as long as the market goes up. But if, or I should say "when", the market begins to fall (and it WILL fall), the fall could be precipitious as folks rush to the exits to cover their loans.
Whoa. What a big story! Not.

My only thoughts on the Imus controversy are what took so long? Imus (and many other folks) have been saying crap for years. Why the outcry now? I'm glad Imus is getting his hands slapped. But there is an element of unfairness in the application of the standard. Maybe this is the beginning of a "new era" of civility in broadcasting?

I doubt it.
Apple's Newest
As a Mac user, I really appreciate this: The Apple iRack!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Hey Gang. Not much bloggin' goin' on with my end. We've had a new addition to the family and I've been in/out of town. Hopefully back in the saddle soon! In the meantime, give em' hell!

Update: Here's the details of the new addition.
National Day of Climate Change
Saturday, April 14th, thousands in all 50 states will rally for a National Day of Climate Change. Is there a rally near you?
Nothing to Add

More truthiness over at Freewayblogger.
A Gentler World
The latest issue of The New Republic features an article that caught my attention. Harvard professor Steven Pinker maintains that the levels of violence worldwide have fallen over the centuries. My first thought was, "Are you crazy?"
His article, A History of Violence, begins with this example:

In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davis, "[T]he spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized." Today such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world.

Indeed it would. We live in an age in which every atrocity is fed live and in full color directly into our living rooms. We tend to remember the violence we see, store it up, and draw conclusions based on these pictures and stories. The news is not full of people dying of old age nor are the cameras covering the normal routines of peaceful nations. How much news coverage have you seen recently of events in Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, etc.?

No one really knows why humans are becoming less violent but it appears to be a worldwide trend. Pinker states, "The leading edge has been in Western societies, especially England and Holland, and there seems to have been a tipping point at the onset of the Age of Reason in the early seventeenth century."

I have long suspected that reason and secular societies are the beacons that will light our way toward a kindler and gentler world. Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, questions whether religious societies are safer and more stable than secular nations. He writes
In reality, the most secular countries—those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics—are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations—wherein worship of God is in abundance—are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.
Morality is not dependent on religion. In fact, it is observed in the animal world. A recent New York Times article begins:
Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.
Regardless of what is changing, we should not give up hope when we see all of the violence in the news. Pinker ends his article with this thought:
Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It is not a license for complacency: We enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to end it, and so we should work to end the appalling violence in our time.

Keep fighting the good fight.
No Dissent Allowed
"...the Senator [Norm Coleman R-MN] is avoiding a conversation because he is headed into a difficult, uphill reelection bid. He does not want to speak publicly about how he has supported the Bush Administration at every opportunity because his constituents have opposed President Bush's destructive War Policy.
So his office decided to have us arrested instead.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
I Wonder?
With several prominent Democrats (Edward, Obama) holding firm to staying off Fox News, I wonder if Fox is starting to shift a bit. Chris Wallace today called Newt Gingrich on his hypocrisy regarding the Pelosi visit to Syria.

I'm not holding my breath. But I think it bears watching and can be used as encouragement for other Dems to stay off Fox until they are really fair and balanced.
Just Like Any Other Two Year Old
From Think Progress:
Ford CEO saves President Bush’s life.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally tells reporters that he had to run over and stop President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of a hybrid car at the White House last week.

“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?”

We were seconds away from Presiden Pelosi.
Meanwhile, In Iraq ...
The war continues. Headlines:
64 Dead in Iraq; 4 US Troops Killed;
Bombings in Baghdad, Bodies in Baquba;
US vs. Mahdi Army in Diwaniya
Friday Came, Friday Went
The reported attack by the U.S. on Iran that was supposed to happen on Good Friday didn't. Yet another report that turned out to be wrong.

Interestingly, it didn't happen because of restraint as the U.S. tried really really hard to start a battle .....
The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes, the Guardian has learned.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Retrospective Freidman Unit
Via Atrios:
One F.U. and two days ago George Casey said:
This is a decisive period for everyone and everyone knows it. The next six months will determine the future of Iraq.
Any idea what we've decided?
Atrios keeps a running commentary on those who invoke Friedman Units and puts those statements up when the Unit is over. It's funny to watch just how ridiculous these folks are .... and tragic.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Day 2
The carcass of a harp seal pup is left on an ice pan after it's pelt was removed by sealers in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence April 5, 2007. The northern Gulf is in its second day of the annual seal hunt. REUTERS/Paul Darrow (CANADA)

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."—Gandhi
DOJ In Disarray
Here's a shock for you, a slew of managers in the Minneapolis Federal Prosecutors office have resigned after one of Gonzales's 35 33 year old crony's was coronated appointed to the post.

The DOJ is in disarray. I wonder if any work is getting done.

Update: Doesn't look like much work is getting done:
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota demonstrates the havoc that ensues when the Bush administration places politics over justice. Four top staffers to Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, have voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. Paulose has also “earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.”

According to news reports, the staffers’ dramatic moves were “intended to send a message to Washington — that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.” The Bush administration tried to prevent the resignations by sending a “top justice official to Minneapolis Thursday to mediate the situation. The mediation failed.”
Who Really Know's?
There is new evidence that the British soldiers who were detained by the Iranians were on an intelligence mission.
The latest jobs report actually shows an increase in net jobs:
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 180,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.
The details seem to point to some seasonal factors, but we'll take a net increase in employment anytime.

The stock market is closed today, but I'd bet that the report would be seen as negative to the market as it would indicate further inflation fears and, thus, Fed rate increases. But remember, jobs are a "lagging" indicator meaning that it's one of the last sectors of the economy to improve, and one of the last to decline, trailing the economic trend.
Big Bidness
You may have heard that Kirk Kerkorian has put a bid in on Chrysler. The deal likely hinges on cooperation (meaning pay cuts) from the auto workers. On the same day, there's this story:
The Ford Motor Company paid its new chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, $28.18 million in his first four months on the job, the automaker said in a regulatory filing yesterday.

His compensation included an $18.5 million bonus that Ford, which reported a record $12.7 billion loss last year, disclosed in September when it hired him from Boeing.

Figures in Ford’s annual proxy statement show that his pay was more than three times that of any other executive at the company. That includes the executive chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., who has kept a 2005 promise not to accept any new salary, bonus or stock awards until Ford consistently earns a profit.

The second-highest pay, $8.67 million, was also for only a few months’ work; it went to James J. Padilla, who retired as president and chief operating officer in July.

Three executives received bonuses for their roles in reducing manufacturing capacity, cutting costs and achieving other goals as part of Ford’s overhaul plan, known as the Way Forward. The awards were part of a retention program that the company recently abandoned.
Ford is giving the usual excuses about acquiring talent, the market rate blahblahblah. The news channel I was watching interviewed a few Ford autoworkers who looked like someone had stuck a really sour lemon in their mouths.

Good luck Chrysler in your negotiations. I hope the unions hang tough. They're already losing jobs at a prodigious rate so they really don't have a lot to lose.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Slow Week
You know it's a very slow newsweek when the big story on CNN is Susan Malveaux complaining about Nancy Pelosi visiting Syria. Or when the rightwingnuts go ga ga over Pelosi wearing a headscarf out of respect for their traditions. Or how about Orrin "Utah snake oil salesman" Hatch's typical lying b.s. on Timmeh's show this last Sunday. It's all hypocritical blowhard nonsense, which is why you know it's a slow week for news.

I think I'd rather hear about Anna Nicole's breast than this hypocritcal crap.

Yawwwwwwn ................
Your Tax Dollars At Work
But then what will the minutemen do?
USAT also fronts a piece on an invasive plant species that can grow 18 feet high along the Mexican border, allowing drug- and/or people-smugglers cover as they sneak across. The United States plans to spend $1.5 million to bring in European bugs to eat the vegetation.
We should give the minutemen a hoe and let them do their part to protect Amurika.
The Proof Is In ......
Anyone (looking at your pundits) who thinks that the 2006 election has made Bush in any way more accountable or ethical need only to read this to know otherwise:
It cost fund-raiser Sam Fox more than $4,600 for the ambassadorship to Belgium. Fox, a top Republican donor, gave $50,000 in 2004 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that helped sink John Kerry's presidential campaign and spawned its own verb. That was enough for Democrats to vow to block his confirmation to the post. Bush withdrew his nomination last week, only to bring it up again while the Senate is out of session, allowing him to bypass it. Though USAT points out below-the-fold that the move will cost Bush in terms of his relationship to Congress, he may have figured he had little left to lose.
So that wackjob Sam Fox is our new ambassador!
Who Represents You?
David Sirota has a good rundown on who the politicians represent: you or K Street.

He specifically looks at the Democratic candidates here.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Hostages Release?
Iran has announced that they will release the hostages.

I'll believe it when they're in Britain.

If they do, this "crisis" will have been resolved without the west declaring war on Iran! Imagine that?

Hidden in the back pages of the news it was also announced that Iraqi officials released an Iranian diplomat .... no quid pro quo.


There's much more to the resolution of this issue than we know. Who knows if we'll ever find out the whole story. One thing is for certain. Iran got the message across that if "you take our folks, we'll take yours".
It looks like the netroots have reared their heads again. I don't normally comment on this type of stuff so early, but this is impressive:
Over 100,000 People Donate to Obama Campaign in First Quarter

Campaign Raises At Least $25 Million, At Least $23.5 Million for Primary

Chicago, IL- The Obama for America campaign today announced that it will report raising at least $25 million from more than 100,000 people in the first quarter of 2007, with at least $23.5 million eligible to be spent in the Democratic primary.

“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Obama for America Finance Chair Penny Pritzker.

The Obama campaign raised $6.9 million over the Internet from more than 50,000 donors.
The money figure is impressive itself. But from 100,000 donators? That's huge and very grassrootsy.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Conyers to Goodling
John Conyers sent a letter to Monica "I'll take the fifth" Goodling. The short version is that Conyers doesn't think she has the grounds for the fifth, but either way he wants her to come over and tell the committee about it.
We have reviewed Ms. Goodling's declaration and the letters you sent to us and Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we are concerned that several of the asserted grounds for refusing to testify do not satisfy the well-established bases for a proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment against self- incrimination. In addition, of course, the Fifth Amendment privilege, under long-standing Supreme Court precedents, does not provide a reason to fail to appear to testify; the privilege must be invoked by the witness on a question-by-question basis.
Ask a question, get the fifth response. Lather, rinse, repeat.
FWIW Department
Andrea Mitchell has been saying for a few days that the Republicans in Congress have given Bush until August to get Iraq squared away.

First, does anyone really believe Andrea Mitchell anymore? Second, does any really believe that there won't be a case made for giving the Preznit another Friedman Unit in August?
From the Non-News Department
Bush is held a news conference today to attack the Dems on the war legislation. Blah blah blah blah. But you just watch the news media parrot his every tantrum word.

Dems need to be very loud and very proud in asserting that Bush is blocking the will of the people. They need to say it loud, often and ad nauseaum.

Update: Harry Reid in response to Preznit pissypants:
The President today asked the American people to trust him as he continues to follow the same failed strategy that has drawn our troops further into an intractable civil war. The President's policies have failed and his escalation endangers our troops and hurts our national security. Neither our troops nor the American people can afford this strategy any longer.

Democrats will send President Bush a bill that gives our troops the resources they need and a strategy in Iraq worthy of their sacrifices. If the President vetoes this bill he will have delayed funding for troops and kept in place his strategy for failure.
More like that please.
It Helps To Have Friends In High Places
I read about this the other day, but the more I think about it the madder I get.

David Hicks, and Aussie, has been held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay for a long time. It appears he was a crappy foot soldier for al Qaeda. Hicksw finally came up for a tribunal hearing and was looking at some serious longer confinement. Then suddenly, in the middle of the hearing, a plea bargain was reached that resulted in a very short prison term for Hicks and a return to Australia. Everyone, including the defense attorney's, were flumoxed at exactly what happened.

Turns out that Cheney had a little meeting with Australian prime minister John Howard awhile back. Howard, who's a rabid Bush supporter and facing a tough re-election, apparently lobbied for Cheney to intervene for Hicks .... which Cheney obviously did. Voila', Hicks is off the hook and heading home!

Does anyone really think such an intervention would ever happen for someone who is Arab? Boy, those American tribunals are really carrying out an even-handed justice aren't they! The U.S. has zero moral authority in the world when it comes to promoting freedom and justice.
Itching For A Fight
Sadr had better tread carefully or he'll lose his troops:
The LAT off-leads with a scoop from Iraq, reporting that militants formerly loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr are being siphoned off by other militant groups, some of which may have Iranian backing. Sadr is losing support because he urged his followers to freeze their activities at U.S. behest. Officials worry that if Sadr loses control of his people, it will be much harder to influence Shiite militants.
Cooperating with the U.S. in the Middle East makes anyone automatically radioactive.
Monday, April 02, 2007
This is connected in some way to the other Iran stories:
April 2, 2007 — An American citizen is missing in Iran, the State Department said today.

Sources tell ABC News that the missing American was a former FBI agent, although they stressed that he was now a private citizen and that his trip to Iran was on "private business" and not associated with official U.S. matters.

State spokesman Sean McCormack said that the United States had been monitoring this case for several weeks and today had sent a message to Iran through diplomatic channels for more information on his whereabouts.

State Department officials say that Iran has yet to respond with any information. Because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, the message was passed on by the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
Why has this been so quiet? Do you believe this is not connected to the British hostages? What would an "former" FBI agent be doing in Iran? He was their on "private" business? Or was he there on "company" business.

Just another note on my earlier "let's bomb Iran by Friday post" .... ABC News led tonight with a fear-mongering story of Iran having nukes as early as two years from now. Everything credible, (meaning not administration) that I've read says ten years is more like it and that this estimate may be on the early side. Wonder where ABC got the story and the information? (Hint: there are several anonymous sources). The one semi-credible source was this:
"If they continue at this pace, and they get the centrifuges to work and actually enrich uranium on a distinct basis," said David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, "then you're looking at them having, potentially having enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2009."
Note all the qualifiers and if's in the quote. Methinks the administration is ginning things up again.
What would happen if Iran and Saudi Arabia sign a mutual aid peace treaty?
The live wire at last week’s Arab League summit in Riyadh was undoubtedly the non-Arab guest of honor, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

He breezed around the Arab delegations hard-selling the notion of a mutual defense treaty between Iran and the Arabs on the lines of the Tehran-Damascus pact. Mottaki argued that a treaty of this kind would allay Arab fears of an Iranian nuclear threat, put a stop to a Middle East nuclear arms race, provide the Arabs with a protective umbrella against Israeli aggression and set up an Arab-Islamic front against US and other foreign intervention in the region.
I'll freely admit I don't know this news source so I take it with a bit of salt. But it is quite intriguing to think of the impact on the U.S. if this is true. A treaty between the two countries would represent an impressive counter force to the U.S. in the region, and a very significant threat to world oil supplies. And I'm not even thinking about the impact on Israel ........
Quote of The Day
I would suggest that it was when the Democrats finally took the issue of Iraq seriously that the country began to take them seriously. And it wasn't because it was a "daddy issue." It was because it was the most important issue on the table. It still is.
Digby, discussing the nonsense meme of the "mommy/daddy" political parties.

When the politicians lead, people respect them. When they pander, they're seen as sissies. If you want a prime example, look at St. John's tanking poll numbers since he's been the Preznit's bootlicker-in-chief vs. his popularity when he really did take a stand.
The Big Week
Some of the overseas news media have been reporting that this is the week that the U.S. will bomb Iran. A third carrier group has left San Diego for the Persian Gulf. Pentagon folks are saying that it's a replacement deployment, not an additional deployment. But would they announce it if it was permanent? The Iranians are holding firm on the hostage crisis with Britain, perhaps as an insurance policy against attack (Iranians read the papers). Meanwhile, the U.S. may be routinely violating Iranian airspace.

Should be an interesting week in Iranian news! We shall see just how reliable those "foreign sources" are!
Run Sister! RUN!
Desperate military recruiters.

The New Yorker has a column on some of the nonsense going on with trying to get folks to join the military:
Susan Kahane, who is twenty-two, graduated from Columbia last spring. When she took the MCAT, in August, she checked a box to signal that she wished to receive information about outside sources of financial aid. Soon, she was inundated with e-mails from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force (“FREE MEDICAL SCHOOL!!!”). One, sent on January 31st by Captain Christopher D. Mayhugh, of the Army Medical Service Corps, stood out. “Upon finishing your residency,” the message read, “you will be assigned to one of a variety of locations including Germany, Italy and Hawaii and your obligation will be complete.” (The Medical Service Corps’s Web page, in contrast, notes prominently that its officers have participated in combat operations in Korea, Kosovo, Somalia, Panama, and Iraq.)

Mayhugh’s omission of Iraq, Kahane recalled last week, “seemed a little bit strange.” Still, she said, “These e-mails were often slightly tempting to me, because of my worries about paying for medical school.”

On March 14th, Kahane received another e-mail from Mayhugh, with the subject “Medical school scholarships still available.” This time, rather than invoking European and tropical destinations, Mayhugh addressed the prospect of being posted to a less than desirable locale. “What if you get sent to Iraq?” he wrote in the letter’s final paragraph. He continued:
Well, consider this: there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. The rate in Washington, D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.
Kahane recalled, “After reading it once, I felt strongly that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.”
Ah. Yeah.

Of course that old canard about Washington is totally wrong (read the article to find out how).

Wonder why they're having problems getting recruits?
What Gives?
The Washington Post takes on the heady subject of throwing out the first pitch on baseball's opening day:
Today is Washington's 65th Opening Day since 1910, when William H. Taft gave us a tradition: the ceremonial first pitch by the president. Taft threw the inaugural one for the Senators that year. In the local club's 63 home openers since, a dozen presidents have done the honors 45 times, from front-row seats or from the mound, making them 46 for 64 overall (.719). Pretty reliable.

President Bush kept up the tradition in 2005, celebrating baseball's return to the nation's capital after a 33-season absence. But he missed last year's home opener -- and he'll miss today's, too, when the Nationals host the Florida Marlins at 1:05 p.m. Except for when the world was at war, only two other presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Richard M. Nixon, missed Opening Day ceremonies two years in a row. And Wilson had suffered a stroke.

What gives?
Gee, I wonder?

Last year Bush sent Cheney to do the honors. And he was roundly booed. Wonder who he'll send this year?

Dear leader can't stand the thought that there may be a full round of boos coming from the stands. Wouldn't want anything to burst that bubble he lives in.
What Next
I've mentioned before that it should be interesting to see what the Republicans do in the face of Bush's intransigence. But just now it appears that the Dems are at a crossroads. With an impending Bush veto of the Iraq legislation, there appear to be mixed signals:
In anticipation of a Bush veto and the likelihood that they won’t be able to summon enough Republicans who care about the troops or public opinion sufficiently to override that veto, Senate Democrats are already rolling out a contingency plan that puts the GOP on notice about something very important: That they are going to be forced over and over again to be on the record as voting to strand our military men and women in the middle of a bloody civil war.
(AP) If President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker "wants to play chicken with our troops," Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.
Methinks someone has their story wrong. Which is it?
The New, Improved Al Qaeda
Unforseen consequences (except they weren't unforeseen):
U.S. intelligence officials now have a better understanding of what the leadership of a revamped, decentralized al-Qaida looks like, says the NYT. It is younger, better trained, less likely to have ties to the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and more likely to include members from a variety of nations. Authorities say camps in remote tribal areas of Pakistan were key to the network's resurgence.
Isn't it interesting how the thing you resist, persists? Couldn't be more true with Bush. The more he fights against al Qaeda, the bigger and better it gets.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
One Picture ... and all that
Heckuva economy we got goin' here.

What's really fasinating is that despite the reality of falling wages for the middle class and poor, spending continues to power forward.
The Peaceful Iraq
Talk about teetering on a cliff ....
Iraq's government has endorsed plans to relocate thousands of Arabs who were moved to Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein's campaign to force ethnic Kurds out of the oil-rich city, in an effort to undo one of the former dictator's most enduring and hated policies.

The contentious decision was confirmed Saturday by Iraq's Sunni justice minister as he told The Associated Press he was resigning. Almost immediately, opposition politicians said they feared it would harden the violent divisions among Iraq's fractious ethnic and religious groups and possibly lead to an Iraq divided among Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiites.

The plan was virtually certain to anger neighboring Turkey, which fears a northward migration of Iraqi Kurds — and an exodus of Sunni Arabs — will inflame its own restive Kurdish minority.

. . . Kirkuk, an ancient city that once was part of the Ottoman Empire, has a large minority of ethnic Turks as well as Christians, Shiite and Sunni Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians. The city is just south of the Kurdish autonomous zone stretching across three provinces of northeastern Iraq.

Iraq's constitution sets an end-of-the-year deadline for a referendum on Kirkuk's status. Since Saddam's fall four years ago, thousands of Kurds who once lived in the city have resettled there. It is now believed Kurds are a majority of the population and that a referendum on attaching Kirkuk to the Kurdish autonomous zone would pass easily.
This means that Kirkuk becomes a de facto Kurdish city in an autonomous Kurdistan. It also means that national Iraqi reconcilliation is further unlikely as the Kurds solidify power and control over an autonomous region.
St. John In Baghdad
St. John McCain visited Baghdad today and extolled the virtues of the escalation. His big claim is that the media is not reporting all the improvements in Iraq and that the surge is working.

Further reading into the article reveals the truth:
One shopowner in Shorja, which was closed to traffic after the February bombings, said there had been a heavy security presence, with many U.S. soldiers on the ground and U.S. helicopters overhead.

Another member of McCain's delegation said the group had traveled in armored Humvees with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who had encouraged them to take off their helmets as they chatted to locals and bought carpets.
HEY MA! Look at this. I can take my helmet off! The escalation is really working! Can't you imagine the scene as all these big-wigs slowly, carefully, take their helmets off while anxiously looking all around ..... If you have enough troops, helicopters and VIP's traveling around in an area, you can go anywhere relatively safely!

If/when St. John ever goes out into Baghdad without a military escort, without body armor and in a normal car and gets out to visit with locals, then I'll be impressed.
Barns and Horses
Matthew Dowd, a former Bush advisors, joins the chorus of those recognizing that Bush is an idiot:
The chief strategist for President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign wrote an editorial that said Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was right in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq -- "Kerry Was Right" -- but never submitted it, according to an article to be published in Sunday's New York Times.
Much is being written, pro and con, about Dowd coming to his senses. I'm feeling both pro and con. Pro because it's always nice to have someone come to their senses. What is disturbing is that it took so long.

Our country depends on leaders to have good judgement. To have taken this long to recognize that Bush is a disaster is not a good indicator of Dowd's judgement. We needed patriots, with good judgement, to come forward years ago. The fact that so many didn't (talkin' to you Colin Powell) has been devastating to America and these national leaders are largely to blame. This is a classic example of being blinded by loyalty to the party tribe rather than the national ideals.
Surge Watch
Casualties are up 15% in Iraq since the beginning of the escalation. Things are looking up alright .....

Meanwhile, American soliders are dying at twice the rate of Iraqi soldiers. Sounds like they're standing down while we stand up.