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Step off, old man!
Tuesday, 25 May 2004
US duped by Iran?
This comes from the Guardian newspaper in the UK. I hope it's not true, but wouldn't be surprised if it is.

"An urgent investigation has been launched in Washington into whether Iran played a role in manipulating the US into the Iraq war by passing on bogus intelligence through Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, it emerged yesterday.
Some intelligence officials now believe that Iran used the hawks in the Pentagon and the White House to get rid of a hostile neighbour, and pave the way for a Shia-ruled Iraq.

According to a US intelligence official, the CIA has hard evidence that Mr Chalabi and his intelligence chief, Aras Karim Habib, passed US secrets to Tehran, and that Mr Habib has been a paid Iranian agent for several years, involved in passing intelligence in both directions.

The CIA has asked the FBI to investigate Mr Chalabi's contacts in the Pentagon to discover how the INC acquired sensitive information that ended up in Iranian hands.

The implications are far-reaching. Mr Chalabi and Mr Habib were the channels for much of the intelligence on Iraqi weapons on which Washington built its case for war.

"It's pretty clear that Iranians had us for breakfast, lunch and dinner," said an intelligence source in Washington yesterday. "Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the US for several years through Chalabi."

Larry Johnson, a former senior counter-terrorist official at the state department, said: "When the story ultimately comes out we'll see that Iran has run one of the most masterful intelligence operations in history. They persuaded the US and Britain to dispose of its greatest enemy."

Mr Chalabi has vehemently rejected the allegations as "a lie, a fib and silly". He accused the CIA director, George Tenet, of a smear campaign against himself and Mr Habib.

However, it is clear that the CIA - at loggerheads with Mr Chalabi for more than eight years - believes it has caught him red-handed, and is sticking to its allegations.

"The suggestion that Chalabi is a victim of a smear campaign is outrageous," a US intelligence official said. "It's utter nonsense. He passed very sensitive and classified information to the Iranians. We have rock solid information that he did that."

"As for Aras Karim [Habib] being a paid agent for Iranian intelligence, we have very good reason to believe that is the case," added the intelligence official, who did not want to be named. He said it was unclear how long this INC-Iranian collaboration had been going on, but pointed out that Mr Chalabi had had overt links with Tehran "for a long period of time".

An intelligence source in Washington said the CIA confirmed its long-held suspicions when it discovered that a piece of information from an electronic communications intercept by the National Security Agency had ended up in Iranian hands. The information was so sensitive that its circulation had been restricted to a handful of officials.

"This was 'sensitive compartmented information' - SCI - and it was tracked right back to the Iranians through Aras Habib," the intelligence source said.

Mr Habib, a Shia Kurd who is being sought by Iraqi police since a raid on INC headquarters last week, has been Mr Chalabi's righthand man for more than a decade. He ran a Pentagon-funded intelligence collection programme in the run-up to the invasion and put US officials in touch with Iraqi defectors who made claims about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Those claims helped make the case for war but have since proved groundless, and US intelligence agencies are now scrambling to determine whether false information was passed to the US with Iranian connivance.

INC representatives in Washington did not return calls seeking comment.

But Laurie Mylroie, a US Iraq analyst and one of the INC's most vocal backers in Washington, dismissed the allegations as the product of a grudge among CIA and state department officials driven by a pro-Sunni, anti-Shia bias.

She said that after the CIA raised questions about Mr Habib's Iranian links, the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) conducted a lie-detector test on him in 2002, which he passed with "flying colours".

The DIA is also reported to have launched its own inquiry into the INC-Iran link.

An intelligence source in Washington said the FBI investigation into the affair would begin with Mr Chalabi's "handlers" in the Pentagon, who include William Luti, the former head of the office of special plans, and his immediate superior, Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defence for policy.

There is no evidence that they were the source of the leaks. Other INC supporters at the Pentagon may have given away classified information in an attempt to give Mr Chalabi an advantage in the struggle for power surrounding the transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30.

The CIA allegations bring to a head a dispute between the CIA and the Pentagon officials instrumental in promoting Mr Chalabi and his intelligence in the run-up to the war. By calling for an FBI counter-intelligence investigation, the CIA is, in effect, threatening to disgrace senior neo-conservatives in the Pentagon.

"This is people who opposed the war with long knives drawn for people who supported the war," Ms Mylroie said.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:25 AM EDT
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Friday, 21 May 2004
Perle on the money
I love how the neo-cons are divorcing themselves from Chalabi now. "Uhhh, hardly knew him."

Yeah, right. Damn if that guy wasn't sitting right behind Laura Bush at the State of the Union Address. Now, we hardly know him, right?

Just to show how wrong these jackasses were that led us into war, here's something from www.motherjones.com about Richard Perle.

"Here are a series of quotes from Richard Perle. Richard Perle is widely credited as the "intellectual architect" of the Iraq invasion. But with the clarity of hindsight, it's clear that the former Defense Policy Board member trafficked in more than faulty intelligence; he also put forward a number of prognostications that turned out to be, well, off target.

"Iraq is a very wealthy country. Enormous oil reserves. They can finance, largely finance, the reconstruction of their own country. And I have no doubt that they will."
--PBS interview July 11, 2002

"We are not talking about a massive invasion along the lines of 1991. We're talking about a much more modest effort in which the United States would assist Iraqis in freeing their country."
--Washington Post interview, August 22, 2002

"UN weapons inspectors are being seriously deceived. It reminds me of the way the Nazis hoodwinked Red Cross officials inspecting the concentration camp at Theresienstadt in 1944. The SS even organized a phony concert to show what a wonderful new home the Jews had. But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has MORE evidence of secret weapons dumps."
--Writing in the News of the World, February 23, 2003

"The predictions of those who opposed this war can be discarded like spent cartridges. You remember them? We will kill hundreds of thousands. We will create thousands of new terrorists. The Arab world will rise up and set the region aflame. Tony Blair and George Bush knew better."
--Writing in the News of the World, April 13, 2003

"Relax, celebrate victory."
--Writing in USA Today, May 2, 2003

Way to go, Dick.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:54 AM EDT
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Thursday, 20 May 2004
Jon Stewart's Commencement Address
This is a transcript of the Commencement Address delivered at William & Mary by Jon Stewart (he was class of '84 at William & Mary) from The Daily Show.

"Thank you Mr. President, I had forgotten how crushingly dull these ceremonies are. Thank you.

My best to the choir. I have to say, that song never grows old for me. Whenever I hear that song, it reminds me of nothing.

I am honored to be here, I do have a confession to make before we get going that I should explain very quickly. When I am not on television, this is actually how I dress. I apologize, but there's something very freeing about it. I congratulate the students for being able to walk even a half a mile in this non-breathable fabric in the Williamsburg heat. I am sure the environment that now exists under your robes, are the same conditions that primordial life began on this earth.

I know there were some parents that were concerned about my speech here tonight, and I want to assure you that you will not hear any language that is not common at, say, a dock workers union meeting, or Tourrett's convention, or profanity seminar. Rest assured.



I am honored to be here and to receive this honorary doctorate. When I think back to the people that have been in this position before me from Benjamin Franklin to Queen Noor of Jordan, I can't help but wonder what has happened to this place. Seriously, it saddens me. As a person, I am honored to get it; as an alumnus, I have to say I believe we can do better. And I believe we should. But it has always been a dream of mine to receive a doctorate and to know that today, without putting in any effort, I will. It's incredibly gratifying. Thank you. That's very nice of you, I appreciate it.

I'm sure my fellow doctoral graduates--who have spent so long toiling in academia, sinking into debt, sacrificing God knows how many years of what, in truth, is a piece of parchment that in truth has been so devalued by our instant gratification culture as to have been rendered meaningless--will join in congratulating me. Thank you.

But today isn't about how my presence here devalues this fine institution. It is about you, the graduates. I'm honored to be here to congratulate you today. Today is the day you enter into the real world, and I should give you a few pointers on what it is. It's actually not that different from the environment here. The biggest difference is you will now be paying for things, and the real world is not surrounded by three-foot brick wall. And the real world is not a restoration. If you see people in the real world making bricks out of straw and water, those people are not colonial re-enactors--they are poor. Help them. And in the real world, there is not as much candle lighting. I don't really know what it is about this campus and candle lighting, but I wish it would stop. We only have so much wax, people.

Lets talk about the real world for a moment. We had been discussing it earlier, and I...I wanted to bring this up to you earlier about the real world, and this is I guess as good a time as any. I don't really know to put this, so I'll be blunt. We broke it.

Please don't be mad. I know we were supposed to bequeath to the next generation a world better than the one we were handed. So, sorry.

I don't know if you've been following the news lately, but it just kinda got away from us. Somewhere between the gold rush of easy internet profits and an arrogant sense of endless empire, we heard kind of a pinging noise, and uh, then the damn thing just died on us. So I apologize.

But here's the good news. You fix this thing, you're the next greatest generation, people. You do this--and I believe you can--you win this war on terror, and Tom Brokaw's kissing your ass from here to Tikrit, let me tell ya. And even if you don't, you're not gonna have much trouble surpassing my generation. If you end up getting your picture taken next to a naked guy pile of enemy prisoners and don't give the thumbs up you've outdid us.

We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror--it's not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I'm sure we'll take on that bastard ennui.

But obviously that's the world. What about your lives? What piece of wisdom can I impart to you about my journey that will somehow ease your transition from college back to your parents' basement?

I know some of you are nostalgic today and filled with excitement and perhaps uncertainty at what the future holds. I know six of you are trying to figure out how to make a bong out of your caps. I believe you are members of Psi U. Hey that did work, thank you for the reference.

So I thought I'd talk a little bit about my experience here at William and Mary. It was very long ago, and if you had been to William and Mary while I was here and found out that I would be the commencement speaker 20 years later, you would be somewhat surprised, and probably somewhat angry. I came to William and Mary because as a Jewish person I wanted to explore the rich tapestry of Judaica that is Southern Virginia. Imagine my surprise when I realized "The Tribe" was not what I thought it meant.

In 1980 I was 17 years old. When I moved to Williamsburg, my hall was in the basement of Yates, which combined the cheerfulness of a bomb shelter with the prison-like comfort of the group shower. As a freshman I was quite a catch. Less than five feet tall, yet my head is the same size it is now. Didn't even really look like a head, it looked more like a container for a head. I looked like a Peanuts character. Peanuts characters had terrible acne. But what I lacked in looks I made up for with a repugnant personality.

In 1981 I lost my virginity, only to gain it back again on appeal in 1983. You could say that my one saving grace was academics where I excelled, but I did not.

And yet now I live in the rarified air of celebrity, of mega stardom. My life a series of Hollywood orgies and Kabala center brunches with the cast of Friends. At least that's what my handlers tell me. I'm actually too valuable to live my own life and spend most of my days in a vegetable crisper to remain fake news anchor fresh.

So I know that the decisions that I made after college worked out. But at the time I didn't know that they would. See college is not necessarily predictive of your future success. And it's the kind of thing where the path that I chose obviously wouldn't work for you. For one, you're not very funny.

So how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desire? And the honest answer is this. You won't. And accepting that greatly eases the anxiety of your life experience.

I was not exceptional here, and am not now. I was mediocre here. And I'm not saying aim low. Not everybody can wander around in an alcoholic haze and then at 40 just, you know, decide to be president. You've got to really work hard to try to...I was actually referring to my father.

When I left William and Mary I was shell-shocked. Because when you're in college it's very clear what you have to do to succeed. And I imagine here everybody knows exactly the number of credits they needed to graduate, where they had to buckle down, which introductory psychology class would pad out the schedule. You knew what you had to do to get to this college and to graduate from it. But the unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective. The paths are infinite and the results uncertain. And it can be maddening to those that go here, especially here, because your strength has always been achievement. So if there's any real advice I can give you it's this.

College is something you complete. Life is something you experience. So don't worry about your grade, or the results or success. Success is defined in myriad ways, and you will find it, and people will no longer be grading you, but it will come from your own internal sense of decency which I imagine, after going through the program here, is quite strong...although I'm sure downloading illegal files...but, nah, that's a different story.

Love what you do. Get good at it. Competence is a rare commodity in this day and age. And let the chips fall where they may.

And the last thing I want to address is the idea that somehow this new generation is not as prepared for the sacrifice and the tenacity that will be needed in the difficult times ahead. I have not found this generation to be cynical or apathetic or selfish. They are as strong and as decent as any people that I have met. And I will say this, on my way down here I stopped at Bethesda Naval, and when you talk to the young kids that are there that have just been back from Iraq and Afghanistan, you don't have the worry about the future that you hear from so many that are not a part of this generation but judging it from above.

And the other thing....that I will say is, when I spoke earlier about the world being broke, I was somewhat being facetious, because every generation has their challenge. And things change rapidly, and life gets better in an instant.

I was in New York on 9-11 when the towers came down. I lived 14 blocks from the twin towers. And when they came down, I thought that the world had ended. And I remember walking around in a daze for weeks. And Mayor Guiliani had said to the city, "You've got to get back to normal. We've got to show that things can change and get back to what they were."

And one day I was coming out of my building, and on my stoop, was a man who was crouched over, and he appeared to be in deep thought. And as I got closer to him I realized, he was playing with himself. And that's when I thought, "You know what, we're gonna be OK."

Thank you. Congratulations. I honor you. Good Night."

Posted by brettdavey at 12:18 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 May 2004
Cancel that program... uhh, increase its funding!
Smaller government, Bush-style, unless of course the President's popularity is in a free-fall and he needs to use public money to boost his image. Of course, this flies in the face of the tough Commander-In-Chief who never changes his mind.

This comes from the NY Times:


"Like many of its predecessors, the Bush White House has used the machinery of government to promote the re-election of the president by awarding federal grants to strategically important states. But in a twist this election season, many administration officials are taking credit for spreading largess through programs that President Bush tried to eliminate or to cut sharply.

For example, Justice Department officials recently announced that they were awarding $47 million to scores of local law enforcement agencies for the hiring of police officers. Mr. Bush had just proposed cutting the budget for the program, known as Community Oriented Policing Services, by 87 percent, to $97 million next year, from $756 million.

The administration has been particularly energetic in publicizing health programs, even ones that had been scheduled for cuts or elimination.

Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, announced recently that the administration was awarding $11.7 million in grants to help 30 states plan and provide coverage for people without health insurance. Mr. Bush had proposed ending the program in each of the last three years.

The administration also announced recently that it was providing $11.6 million to the states so they could buy defibrillators to save the lives of heart attack victims. But Mr. Bush had proposed cutting the budget for such devices by 82 percent, to $2 million from $10.9 million."

Posted by brettdavey at 12:39 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 18 May 2004
Way to go, Georgie!
This comes from the Center for American Progress. For once, I'll agree with the President. This does seem like a demonstration of the success of his economic policies. Here it is:

On 4/23/03 President Bush visited the Timken Company in Canton, OH, and touted the company as a demonstration of the success of his economic policies. Bush said "the future of employment is bright for the families that work here, that work to put food on the table for their children." Yesterday Timken announced it is slashing 1300 jobs from its work force, a quarter of its employees in Canton. Bush said that Timken would be successful because "high productivity that comes from steady innovation and skilled workers gives our economy a tremendous edge." But, announcing the layoffs Timken revealed that "production at the Canton bearing plants has declined 27 percent over the last five years." Timken employee Shawn Higgins said "How can I afford to get married, afford a house payment, maybe kids, if I don't have a job?" Timken went forward with the massive cut even though the major "job creation" programs the President highlighted in his speech last year - an income tax cut, a dividend tax cut and a small business tax cut - subsequently became law. The Timken announcement was "just the latest in a northeast Ohio area hit hard by the loss of manufacturing and other jobs." Overall, Ohio "has lost about 155,000 manufacturing jobs since Bush took office."

TIMKEN ATTEMPTING TO BUST UNION: Timken said that it is paring back operations in the Canton plant because it believes wages there are too high and health care benefits too generous. The Union president, Stan Jasionowski, said that Timken "never ever gave us any formal proposals" to reduce costs at the plant. Jasionowski said that he believed the layoffs were "a ploy to destroy the union in the bearing factories."

TIMKEN EXPANDS OPERATIONS IN CHINA: As Timken fires workers in Ohio it has expanded operation abroad, especially in China. On 1/31/03 Timken announced it "established a distribution center in Shanghai, China." In 2002, "The Timken Company and NSK Ltd. formed a joint venture to build a plant near Shanghai...production is expected to begin first quarter 2004."

TIMKEN MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO BUSH: W.R. Timken, the company's chairman of the board, is a Ranger - meaning he has raised at least $200,000 for the Bush campaign. Timken's political action committee has donated $10,000 directly to Bush and $235,000 to his political allies. Other executives have chipped in $12,500 since 2000. Timken was a member of the Employers' Coalition on Medicare, a group of heavy Bush contributors who lobbied for the new Medicare law which rewards companies with a tax subsidy even if they reduce retirees' existing drug coverage.


Posted by brettdavey at 1:37 PM EDT
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Monday, 17 May 2004
Newsweek story
This story is in the latest Newsweek. Here's the link: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4989481/

Here's a key graf from the story:

"Indeed, the single most iconic image to come out of the abuse scandal--that of a hooded man standing naked on a box, arms outspread, with wires dangling from his fingers, toes and penis--may do a lot to undercut the administration's case that this was the work of a few criminal MPs. That's because the practice shown in that photo is an arcane torture method known only to veterans of the interrogation trade. "Was that something that [an MP] dreamed up by herself? Think again," says Darius Rejali, an expert on the use of torture by democracies. "That's a standard torture. It's called 'the Vietnam.' But it's not common knowledge. Ordinary American soldiers did this, but someone taught them."

Who might have taught them? Almost certainly it was their superiors up the line. Some of the images from Abu Ghraib, like those of naked prisoners terrified by attack dogs or humiliated before grinning female guards, actually portray "stress and duress" techniques officially approved at the highest levels of the government for use against terrorist suspects."

Posted by brettdavey at 8:48 AM EDT
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Sunday, 16 May 2004
What about the death penalty?
Why does the Catholic Church forbid Catholic politicians from taking communion for their pro-choice views but doesn't do the same for pols who support the death penalty?

Is it a policy that is aimed specifically at Kerry? I know Bush isn't Catholic, but is it because he mentions God all the time that the death penalty isn't an issue?

This comes from a Catholic publication, concerning the church's stance on the death penalty:

"In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'"

Posted by brettdavey at 9:09 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 May 2004
Disney's non-political stance
So Disney doesn't want to distribute Michael Moore's film because of its political nature? OK.

Then why does Disney distribute Sean Hannity and a bunch of other right-wing nuts to hundreds of radio stations around the country?

Maybe it's just a certain kind of politics Disney doesn't like.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:33 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 14 May 2004 11:34 AM EDT
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McCain doesn't support the troops! Or breast cancer research!
This was from the www.dailyhowler.com. Pretty good stuff and another indication that McCain is supporting Bush while holding his nose with one hand.

Does anyone play his viewers for fools quite the way Sean Hannity does? Last night, the knuckle-dragging nightly host repeated a Fake Standard Claim:

HANNITY: [Kerry] has voted against just about every major weapons system we now have.

How can Hannity make such a claim? Because in 3 of his 19 years in the Senate, Kerry voted against the annual defense appropriations bill... But if you vote against the omnibus bill, then technically you've voted against every weapon system it includes. And knuckle-draggers have been very "technical" when they make this claim against Kerry. Why, you might even say that they've been "Clintonesque." Except that is unfair to Bill Clinton.

But last night, a humorous element was involved in Hannity's fake, phony charge. John McCain was the cave man's guest. First, he said Kerry isn't "soft on defense." A bit later, he noted the obvious:

MCCAIN: I would be accused of voting against numerous weapon systems, because I voted against defense appropriations bills, because they're loaded down with pork. And they're obscene today with all of the pork-barrel spending and multi-trillion dollar deficits. I'll probably vote against the defense appropriations bill this year.

Oops! Just like Kerry, McCain "has voted against just about every major weapons system we now have."

Note to self! Sean will have to avoid this fake, phony charge when people like McCain are around.
Meanwhile, how fake, how phony is the Fox host? Drink in the amusing exchange which followed McCain's rejoinder:

MCCAIN: I would be accused of voting against numerous weapon systems, because I voted against defense appropriations bills because they're loaded down with pork. And they're obscene today with all of the pork-barrel spending and multi-trillion dollar deficits. I'll probably vote against the defense appropriations bill this year. I was accused of voting against breast cancer research because that was on a defense appropriations bill that I voted against, so--

HANNITY: But on defense issues, the most important issue of our time, that--your guy is George W. Bush, right?

MCCAIN: He is my guy. I'm campaigning for him. I'm supporting his re-election. I want him to be re-elected. I believe he has led this nation with moral clarity. But I was also subjected to allegations of being against things like breast cancer research, which was on a defense appropriations bill.

HANNITY: I remember. I understand.

Why did McCain keep bringing up that fake, phony claim--the claim that he voted against breast research? Perhaps because his beetle-browed host was one of the people who made the fake charge! The charge was first made--where else?--in a Bush 2000 campaign ad. And you know Sean! He pimped the fake charge on the March 6, 2000 Hannity & Colmes, just to cite one sad example.

He made the fake claim against McCain then. He makes the fake claim against Kerry now. Why does the press corps sit on its hands while fake charges are widely peddled?

Posted by brettdavey at 11:30 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Good idea
Word is getting out about the International Red Cross' estimates that 70-80 percent of the prisoners in the Iraqi prisoners were innocents who were picked up in widespread neighborhood swweps. Whoops! The following comes from www.bartcop.com.

"As others condemned the Iraqi abuse, James Inhofe (R-OK) expressed outrage at the outcry over the scandal and took aim at "humanitarian do-gooders" investigating American troops.

"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are
by the treatment," said Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and a vulgar Pigboy soundalike.

"These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations," said Inhofe.

That last sentence is correct - they've been convicted of nothing - not even a traffic violations. They were designated guilty of occupying the towns in which they were born. Inhofe is the most embarrassing thing from Oklahoma. He's worse than Jesse Helms ever was for Carolina and get this - he's on the Intelligence Committee, ...swear to Koresh..

Hey Pissquik, I have an idea.
Let me come to your house, kick and slap the crap out of you, then I'll rip your clothes off and shove a broom handle up your ass, then let two German Shepherd dogs bite your legs and then I'll attach a dog collar and lead your naked, bleeding ass around the neighborhood for all your friends to see.

Would you have the same opinion after that?


Posted by brettdavey at 4:14 PM EDT
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