Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush on Torture -- Those Whacky Dekes!

"Insignificant. There's no scarring mark, physically or mentally." -- Future US President, and DKE Spokesman George W. Bush, quoted in a 1967 Yale student newspaper article about using hot coathangers to brand pledges at his fraternity.

The quote was ressurected in Sunday's Doonesbury. (Editor & Publisher/Romenesko)

Vets: Bush Plan Falls Short

The nation's largest Iraq War Veterans group says the President's "Strategy for Victory in Iraq" doesn't do enough.

Operation Truth issued a statement saying the new plan is an improvement over the previous Bush administration policy on Iraq. But Operation Truth complains that the plan offers no milestones for success and it fails to set deadlines for reaching specific goals in Iraq. (The Raw Story)

Word-for-Word: President Bush Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq

The transcript of President Bush's "Victory Strategy in Iraq" speech in Annapolis today. (The White House)

Democrats Pan Victory Strategy

It didn't take long.

Democrats were attacking the President's "Victory Strategy" as being long on pages and short on substance within hours of it's unveiling.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) compared the "Plan for Victory" backdrop (above) for the President's speech today to his "Mission Accomplished" banner (below) from two-and-a-half years ago.

"The president failed to answer the question that all Americans are asking: how do we know progress is being made there?" Sen Jack Reed (D-RI), quoted in the Washington Post

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the plan "a Bush-Cheney public relations campaign." (WashPost)

Timing Is Everything

Dana Milbank at the Washington Post rounded up three years worth of quotes to show us how the "next few months" are always the most critical in the Iraq War.

The selections include:
"We've got, I think, six months." -- Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA), Nov. 17, 2005

"We are entering a make-or-break six-month period." -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), Oct. 26, 2005

"The next six to seven months are critical." -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Dec. 1, 2003

"The next three-to-six months will be critical." -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sept. 10, 2003
Gotta figure that with the President's new victory strategy for Iraq out in the open now, the next few months will be critical. (WashPost)

Recruiting Vets for Congress

NEWSWEEK looks at the Democrats' new recruits: Iraq War vets who are running for Congress.

National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

The White House released it's 38 page National Strategy for Victory in Iraq in advance of the President's speech at Annapolis.

The plan appears to put the best face on the current situation in Iraq. To force the way the war has evolved to appear as part of a strategy the administration had all along.

Overall, it appears to be a plan designed to take the current situation in Iraq and say that the administration is achieving its goals -- rather than an actual guideline for victory.

There is no specific milestone for declaring victory. Only vague guidelines for determining success along what the plan calls "tracks." The Strategy is to pursue a victory along three broad tracks: Political, Security, and Economic. The tracks are pretty broad and based on generalities.

The plan lays out short, medium & longterm definitions of victory. The "medium" term definition of victory seems to be based on the current conditions in Iraq -- allowing the administration to declare victory almost anytime they want

"An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential."

But the long-term definition may be decades away:
An Iraq that has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency.

• An Iraq that is peaceful, united, stable, democratic, and secure, where Iraqis have the institutions and resources they need to govern themselves justly and provide security for their country.
• An Iraq that is a partner in the global war on terror and the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, integrated into the international community, an engine for regional economic growth, and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region.
The plan does not lay out any timetable, but suggest that troops may be coming home in the next year:

But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time. As conditions change, our posture will change.

􀀹 We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience.
􀀹 While our military presence may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize.
􀀹 Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.

There are references throughout the plan suggesting that this is the strategy the Bush administration has pursued all along -- though no explanation as to why it took the administration nearly three years to unveil it to the American people. (The White House)

Cost of the War in Iraq

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Mission Accomplished... Again...Eventually

President Bush is set to unveil his "National Strategy for Victory" in Iraq Wednesday.

Two-and-a-half years and 2,100 deaths and NOW he comes up with a plan.

MP3 File


"Victory Strategy"

[Audio thanks to The George W. Bush Public Domain Audio Archive]

Democrats Split on Splitting from Iraq

Chris Cillizza at The Fix analyzes where the Democrat's stand on Iraq:

"Democrats weighing a 2008 presidential run appear to be moving in two directions when it comes to the difficult issue of setting a timetable for drawing down the U.S. military presence in Iraq."

And The Hotline has an inventory of where potential Democratic Presidential candidates stand on Iraq. (The Fix/The Hotline)

Not the Sharpest in the Drawer

They've got a tight budget and morale problems over at the Transportation Security Administration. How do they deal with it?

How about letting sharp objects back on airliners?

The TSA proposes to let people carry scissors and other potential weapons onto flights.

Seems the TSA folks are upset that they find sharp objects in one in every four bags they check. The change would mean they wouldn't have to deal with that anymore -- pretty much what they were created to stop.

They want to spend more time looking for explosives -- since we all know it was explosives the 9/11 terrorists used to hijack airplanes, right?

The 9/11 hijackers are believed to have used boxcutters to take control of four airliners -- just in case your computer's sarcasm mode is disabled. (WashPost)

Wednesday Headlines

Bush's speech seen as gamble
Meeting in Iraq Opens Dialogue on Pullout
Bush: Iraqi Forces in State of Readiness

Bush Vows to 'Enforce Our Border'
Bush solid on immigration

Supreme Court Abortion Case Today
Abortion case puts spotlight today on Roberts's queries

Wikipedia gets "Swift-Boated" by "Vandals"
1,000th Execution Commuted
Warner Commutes Death Sentence

Not over yet; new storm forms
Record year for hurricanes part of a natural cycle
US Environmental Stance Draws Heat

Bishop Says Edict Allows Some Gay Priests

The FCC's Cable Crusade Continues
Martin Supports A La Carte Cable

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ex-Powell Aide Blasts Bush White House on Iraq

Lawrence Wilkerson, who served four years as Colin Powell's chief of staff at the State Department is still on a tear against Vice President Cheney.

In an interview with the AP, Mr Wilkerson says he can't believe that the Vice President doesn't believe the Iraq War has become a "spawning ground" for new terrorists.

"Otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard." -- Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, quoted by the Associated Press

Mr Wilkerson -- a former Marine Colonel -- argues that a "cabal" of White House and Pentagon aides laid out a failed policy for dealing with terror after 9/11. He claims they ignored the Geneva Conventions and claimed the President was "all-powerful." (WashPost)

"Victory Strategy" Late in Coming

President Bush is preparing to present what his staff calls a "victory strategy" in Iraq.

The announcement will come Wednesday -- roughly two-and-a-half years after the President declared "Mission Accomplished" on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln (right) back on May 1, 2003. (The Raw Story)

An Oil Change for Iraq

The Higher Pie has the parable of preventative maintenance -- about the prodigal son with the $30,000 pick-up he never took care of. Think of it as Iraq without an oil change:

"You could replace the entire engine at great cost and sacrifice. You could leave the truck on the side of the highway and eat the $30,000 you paid for it. You could ground your moronic son for a few months, and I agree would be the best first step. The problem is, though, that once the tragic mistake of not changing the oil is made, there's really no good answer for what to do next. Your jackass son made it virtually impossible to have a good plan."
Too bad the country's still not under warranty. (The Higher Pie)

Duke Cunningham Never had this Problem

Rep Bobby Rush (D-IL) (left) hasn't made a mortgage payment on his Chicago house since July. He just got the foreclosure papers.

Rep Rush has had a $334,600 loan on the place since 2001.

Rep Rush brings home around $159,000 a year as a Congressman. His wife is Director of Banking Development for the Illinois State Treasurer. Together, the Rush's run the Englewood Community Development Corp.

He says he's been putting all his family money into starting a church. He'd better pray he has a place to sleep tonight. (Chicago Sun Times)

Bakers Dozen -- 13 Congress Members Deserving of a Good Probing

Rep Randy Cunningham made a list of the 13 Congress members most deserving of an investigation. Who else is on the list?

MP3 File


The CREW 13


Money Scandals Could Cost Votes

Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham's (R-CA) guilty plea and resignation could signal a wave of prosecutions -- and the start of a backlash at the polls.

The Washington Post counts seven lawmakers under indictment, investigation, or having pleaded guilty in money scandals.

The scandals come with less than a year before Congressional elections, and as voter approval with Congress are at long time -- if not all-time -- lows. (WashPost)
Home Sales Fall 2.7%
Unsold house inventory highest since April 1986

Bush vows to 'protect' borders
Bush's Plan Finds People Deeply Split

Saddam lashes out at 'occupiers' as trial resumes
Cohen: More Than a 'Mistake' on Iraq

US defends climate change position
US says it won't play ball at conference on climate

Time Reporter Called a Key to Rove's Defense In Leak Probe
Rep. Cunningham Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Resigns

Growing numbers of people online are selling something

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cunningham Cashes Out

Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has been pumping money into other campaigns over the years. The Hotline found more than $900-thousand total.

But now that he's admitted to taking $2.4 million in bribes, there may be a rush by politicians to give back some tainted money. (The Hotline)

After the Duke

A special election in in the works in California now that Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has entered a guilty plea and resigned from Congress.

Chris Cillizza at The Fix looks at what's next for District 50 in California. (The Fix)

He Sold his House -- Now he's Looking at time in the Big House

Rep Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax charges. He admits he took $2.4 million in bribes.

The case stems from a house sale he pulled off with a defense contractor. The lcontractor bought Rep Cunningham's house for several hundred thousand dollars more than it was worth. The contratot sold the house for a loss a short time later. Rep Cunningham took up residence on the contractor's boat anchored in a Washington, DC marina.

Shortly after the sale, Rep Cunningham directed federal contracts toward the guy who bought his house. (SF.gate)

The Rise & Fall of Duke Cunningham

The San Diego Union Tribune has a timeline of Rep Randy Cunningham's (R-CA) career. It includes:

Jan 19, 1972: Cunningham, flying off the carrier Constellation in a two-seat Phantom fighter with Lt. j.g. Willie Driscoll, records his first air victory, downing a MiG-21 over North Vietnam.

May 10, 1972: Cunningham and Driscoll shoot down three MIG fighters over North Vietnam, bringing their total to five enemy aircraft in four months and becoming the first and only Navy aces of the Vietnam War.

1985: M.B.A., National University, San Diego.

Nov. 6, 1990: Defeats Jim Bates in a close election.

Jan 4, 1991: Cunningham wins seats on the House Armed Services Committee and the Merchant Marines and Fisheries Committee.

Oct 6, 1992: Cunningham makes the Washington Post's "Reliable Source" column by suggesting the liberal leadership of the House should be "lined up and shot.".

Oct. 9, 1992: The Los Angeles Times quotes Cunningham as urging President Bush to attack Bill Clinton's patriotism, telling him: "This is an issue that will kill Clinton when people realize what a traitor he is to this country. In some countries, if something like this came out, he would be tried as a traitor. Tokyo Rose had nothing over Clinton.".

Nov. 17, 1995: Colleagues and Capitol police break up a scuffle that starts after Cunningham, a former Navy fighter pilot, tangles with Rep. James Moran, D-Va., who used to be an amateur boxer, during the debate on a Republican-sponsored resolution that would bar President Clinton from sending American troops to Bosnia without prior congressional approval.

Jan. 23, 2001: Cunningham is named to the House Select Committee on Intelligence for the 107th Congress.

Oct. 9, 2002: Cunningham cries on the House floor as he argues that President Bush should have authority to use military force against Iraq.

November 2003: Sells his Del Mar house for $1,675,000 to a company owned by Mitchell Wade of MZM Inc., a defense contractor. Purchases a home in Rancho Santa Fe for $2.55 million.

June 12, 2005: Copley News Service and The San Diego Union-Tribune reveal that a defense contractor with ties to Cunningham took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of the congressman's Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor's efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon.

June 14, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that the Realtor who Cunningham said had set a fair and independent price for the November 2003 sale of his Del Mar home to a defense contractor was a longtime campaign contributor.

June 17, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report Cunningham has been living aboard a 42-foot yacht along the banks of the Potomac River in a yacht, named the Duke-Stir, owned by Wade.

June 23, 2005: Cunningham releases a three-page statement acknowledging that he "showed poor judgment" in selling his Del Mar house to Wade.

July 1, 2005: Cunningham's Rancho Santa Fe house is searched, as is the Washington office of defense contractor MZM Inc.

July 5, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that Cunningham made roughly a $400,000 profit by selling a boat he lived aboard from 1997 to 2002 to a businessman convicted in a bid-rigging scheme. The man said he subsequently got advice from the congressman about how to pursue a presidential pardon.

Aug. 5, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that Cunningham – and other prominent passengers including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – has taken jet flights provided by Group W Transportation, owned by Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes.

Aug. 17, 2005: Cunningham and his wife Nancy list the couple's Rancho Santa Fe home for sale for $3.5 million.

Sept. 22, 2005: Federal agents search the New York home and office of a controversial businessman who has had a series of financial dealings with the congressman. The businessman, Thomas Kontogiannis, purchased Cunningham's flat-bottom riverboat, the Kelly C, for more than $600,000 in 2002. Cunningham had purchased the boat five years earlier for $200,000.

Nov. 28, 2005: Cunningham pleads guilty to income tax evasion and conspiracy in a hearing in San Diego's federal court. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Pay as You Go Tax

Did you buy a fuel efficient car to escape high gasoline prices?

The US Chamber of Commerce wants to raise your taxes.

Specifically, they've reccomended that Washington tax fuel efficient cars and hybrids because you're not using enough gasoline. That means you're not paying as much in fuel taxes as the guy who bought the Humvee. They also want to tax you on the number of miles you drive.

They also suggest raising the 18 cent federal gasoline tax to keep up with inflation. (KCBS)

Papers, Please.

It's like a scene from an old war movie where the Gestapo walk the aisles of a train demanding "papers" -- your ID.

It's routine when a public bus passes by the Denver Federal Center. All the passengers have to present ID for the safety of the US Geological Survey and the National Archives branch offices.

Deborah Davis (picutured on the bus pass) -- mother of a soldier serving in Iraq -- has had enough of the "papers, please" mentality and is putting up a fight.

Federal law says none of us have to carry nor present ID in such cases. But Ms Davis has been ordered off the bus for refusing to obey security guards.

So You Can't Man an Army -- Would You Like Our Air Force? Go Ahead, Take It.

President Bush is set to unveil a troop draw down from Iraq later this week. But the Air Force says one of his options won't fly.

Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker reports that the administration is apparently taking a page from the Kosovo play book and shifting to an increased reliance on airpower -- instead of ground troops.

That would reduce troop deaths (there were no combat deaths in the Kosovo War).

But the administration appears willing to turn over control of the US Air Force's targeting missions to Iraqis. The Air Force doesn't like the idea of the Iraqis choosing their targets for them.

The Air Force worries they could wind up being used to take out rivals or warlords between factions within Iraq. (New Yorker)
Bush to Order Withdrawal
Laying Groundwork for Iraq Exit

Bush Seeks New Immigration Strategy
Bush to focus on illegal immigration

Saddam argues with judge as his trial resumes

Still no deal on terrorism code at EuroMed summit
Defining terrorism causes trouble at EU-Mediterranean summit

Shoppers hanging onto their money

Coal Mine Explosion Kills More than 65 Workers in China

10 killed as quake razes seven villages in Iran

PlayStation3 to have parental controls

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Move Along. Nothing to See Here.

We have a free press to keep an eye on our government -- so the rest of our freedoms are protected. Think of the media as your early warning system. But the traditionally biggest watchdogs haven't been keeping much of a watch on government these days.

The Raw Story looked into the number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests the media's made with the Pentagon.

Considering we have wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq -- you'd expect a lot of requests.

TRS reports only 36 requests among the big three newspapers (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, & USAToday) since 2000. The breakdown:


Associated Press: 73
Los Angeles Times: 42
Washington Post: 34
New York Times: 21
USA Today: 9
WSJ: 6.


CBS: 32
Fox News: 22
NBC: 21.
CNN: 11

The Raw Story has more about what reporters looked for and what they requested. (TRS)

Thanksgiving Day Headlines

Bush knew of lack of Iraq-Qaeda ties

Suicide Bombing South of Baghdad Kills 30
Did Bush Really Want to Bomb Al Jazeera?

Bush to Celebrate Holiday at Texas Ranch
Antiwar Protesters Arrested Near Bush Ranch

Bacteria can take pictures of themselves
Say 'Cheese' and Hold Still for the Bacteria

Home PCs enlisted in Aids grid project
IBM announces AIDS research with World Community Grid

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Backlash over "Coward" Quote

Poor Rep Jean Schmidt (R-OH). People are attacking her personally. Calling her all sorts of names. All she did was call a decorated Vietnam War veteran a "coward."

Oh, wait -- goose, gander -- that sort of thing.
"I pledge to walk in the shoes of my colleagues and refrain from name-calling or the questioning of character."-- Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), the House floor, September 6, 2005.

Rep Schmidt is the Representative who personally attacked Rep John Murtha (D-PA) on the House floor last Friday.

She claimed to be quoting a friend of her's when she said, "Cowards cut and run, Marines never do." She had to retract the statement.

Another problem for her, the guy she claimed to have quoted says he never said it about Rep Murtha -- a retired Marine.
"I have been attacked very personally, continuously since Friday evening." -- Rep Jean Schmidt, quoted on MSNBC
Rep Schmidt is the newest member of Congress, barely beating Democrat Iraq War vet Paul Hackett in a strongly Republican District back in August. (MSNBC/

Wednesday Headlines

Padilla Indicted After Three Years

Fake CIA, FBI E-Mails Power Sober Worm
New Sober Worm Spoofs FBI, CIA

NASA still plagued with foam problems

Uzbekistan: No More Help on Afghanistan
US lifts weapons embargo on Jakarta

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cashing in on the Troops

Rush Limbaugh has found a way to make a profit off the troops in Iraq. He's started an "Adopt-a-Soldier" program. Mr Limbaugh will let you pay $50 so a soldier gets a subscription to his "Limbaugh Letter."

Not really a free subscription.

Oh, a soldier gets a subscription to his newsletter, but Rush pockets the $49.50.

Mr Limbaugh caught a bit of flak for trying to cash in on the troops in the field so he's agreed to "match" every "donation" with a free subscription of his own.

How about free subscriptions for all the troops who want one? Other outfits and individuals are actually contributing things themselves to the troops. (

Christmas Cards vs Torture -- Something Congress can Sink its Teeth Into

Congress has really scaled back it's "watchdog" role. In the past, it would investigate all kinds of things. Today, investigations are more the exception than the rule.

For instance, in the 1990s, Congress gathered 140 hours of sworn testimony on whether President Clinton used the White House Christmas Card List to find potential campaign contributors.

But Congress gathered only 12 hours of sworn testimony into the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. (Boston Globe, HT: The Raw Story)

What Did Congress Know, And When When did they Know It?

The folks at explore the whole pre-war intelligence debate.

They point out that no evidence has been found suggesting that President Bush withheld information from Congress about intel that would undercut the argument for war with Iraq.

However, they do point out that the President has been caught omitting information from the general public -- and passing on discredited information to us.

They cite President Bush's claim of a link between al Qaeda and Saddam -- months after the CIA had debunked it as an example. (

War Support Compared

Support for the Iraq War has dropped faster than that for either the Korean or Vietnam Wars.

The Christian Science Monitor measured the time it took for popular support for all three wars to drop below 50% on the Gallup poll.

It took years for Vietnam to drop below 50% -- in August 1968.

A year and a half for the Korean War to hit the halfway mark in March, 1952.

And just slightly less than that for the Iraq war to cross the 50% threshold in June, 2004. (CSM -- Click on Christian Science Monitor Graphic to read the whole story)

Veterans Enlist as Democrat Candidates

Hotline has the DCCC's list of vets signing up with the Democratic party for Congressional races in 2006. A dozen so far:
  • Chris Carney (PA 10): LtComm in the U.S. Naval Reserve; from '03 to 8/04, served as Special Advisor to the Ass't Sec/Def for Special Ops; activated for Operation Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle
  • Andrew Duck (MD 06): Intel. Liaison Officer and Intel Staff Officer in Iraq
  • Tim Dunn (NC 08): in U.S. Marine Corps Reserves
  • Jay Fawcett (CO 05): Awarded Bronze Star after serving in first Gulf War
  • Steve Filson (CA 11): retired from Navy in '94
  • David Harris (TX 06): Deployed to Iraq in February, 2003, spending 14 months there as a Logistics Officer. Now Ass't Prof. of Military Science at UT-Arlington.
  • Bryan Lentz (PA 07): commanded a civil affairs unit in Iraq responsible for reconstruction in Mosul
  • Eric Massa (NY 29): Served in Desert Storm, and as Spec. Ass't to Gen. Wesley Clark, served as staff on Armed Services Committee.
  • Patrick Murphy (PA 08): Served in Iraq, awarded Bronze Star in 2/04
  • Joe Sulzer (OH 18): Vietnam veteran, and later mayor of Chillicothe, Ohio
  • Tim Walz (MN 01): A Command Sergeant; served overseas in Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom
  • Mike Weaver (KY 02): Joined Navy at age of 17, served for 4 years

(The Hotline)

Exit Strategy Fails

Get ouf of Iraq? The President couldn't even get out of the room this weekend. The BBC has video of President Bush's "failed exit strategy" during a news conference. (BBC)

Monday Headlines

Bush Tries to Tone Down Iraq Debate
Bush cools war debate, calls critic "a fine man"

Rumsfeld: US must stay in Iraq
Rumsfeld on ABC: "I didn't advocate Iraq invasion!"
Bush Rewards Mongolia, Iraq War Ally, With US Aid
US probing if al-Zarqawi among dead in gun battle

WHO: Global Flu Surveillance System Needed
US bird flu vaccine stocks insufficient for at least 3 years

Mall shooter: "World will feel my anger"
A hostage's view: Store employee had seen danger before in Iraq

TiVo to allow iPod video downloads
TiVo-iPod Deal Trumps Disney

'Goblet of Fire' nets $100M in first 3 days

Et Tu, Barney?

With President Bush's poll numbers in the cellar, no politicians want to be seen with him -- fearful the bad numbers will rub off.

Even the President's dog, Barney (right) appears to be avoiding him these days. Not the loyal friends past Presidents have had in their dogs.



MP3 File

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pay Raise for Congress

On Friday, masked by attention to the politically charged vote on Iraq, Congress gave itself a pay raise.

The Senate had earlier this year rejected the automatic cost of living raise -- but that fell apart as the two chambers worked on differences.

The Friday vote adds $3,100 a year to a Congressman's annual salary.

That'll bring their pay to $165,200 a year.

Friday, November 18, 2005

New Grand Jury Sought -- More Indictments Possible

In a sign that more indictments could come out of the CIA Leak investigation, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has said a new grand jury will be needed.

An earlier grand jury returned five indictments against former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby. (Reuters)

Did the Bumper Sticker Come with that Shotgun?

Cops in Colorado are looking for the gunman in a road rage incident. He pulled a shotgun and fired on another driver in Littleton. The suspect's car is a Toyota Corolla with a "Respect Life" bumper sticker. (The Denver Channel)

Friday Headlines

Congress Slashes Spending for Poor & Elderly;
Bush Promises Veto if Oil Company Tax Breaks are Cut
In Loss for GOP, House Rejects Spending Plan
House GOP Passes Cuts, Barely

Democratic Hawk, War Veteran: Troops Out of Iraq Now
White House Compares Rep Murtha to Michael Moore

Childhood Deaths in Japan Bring New Look at Flu Drug
New bird flu outbreaks in China

Not Since Deep Throat Has a Woodward Source Held So Many

Castro laughs off CIA report he has Parkinson's
Indignant Castro claims to feel `better than ever'

Tax Cuts Not so Sweet Anymore

Voters have suddenly started rejecting tax cuts. Whatever will politicians promise us instead?

MP3 File

Voters Showed Less Appetite for Tax Cuts

Fuzzy Math Fallout

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Don't do Iraq Unless it's Good News"

GQ's latest issue tunes into Watching Washington's favorite broadcast company -- Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The article recounts some of our favorite postings here -- the anti-Kerry documentary the company tried to air right before the election, their refusal to carry Nightline's tribute to fallen troops in 2004, and their role in the Pundit Payola Scandal.

But GQ also delves into the background of Sinclair's owners -- David and Duncan Smith.

GQ reports Duncan Smith is an environmentalist, while David got his start selling bootleg porn.

The article details the growth of the Smith's political power and rise of their company to be the largest independent television station owner in the US. It looks into their ties with Congress, the FCC, and their use of the airwaves to promote a conservative agenda.

It also recounts job interviews where applicants were asked their position on every hot-button political issue from abortion to to drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge -- and the message to the newsroom: "Don't do Iraq unless it's good news." (GQ)

Thursday Headlines

Bush and Cheney hit back
Bush can't handle the truth

US Warns Iraqi Leaders on `Sectarian Control' in Prison Abuse
'Torture prison is tip of the iceberg'
Iraq Official Defends "Torture' Facility

UN debut for $100 laptop for poor
MIT unveils $100 laptop to the world
'One Per Child'

Indonesian video threatens West
Terrorist video hits home

Crude oil prices dip

Chinese get bird flu and race to contain it

Texas Town Adopts Corporate Name

Scandal Timeline has a video timeline (about 8.5 minutes) of the Plame Affair.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Forging on Despite Better Intel

The Christian Science Monitor has a detailed report on the chain of events that led to the CIA leak investigation. "From Yellowcake to Plamegate" says it didn't take the CIA long to determine the forged documents behind President Bush's infamous "16 words" were fake:

"The ones dealing with a purported uranium deal between Niger and Saddam Hussein's Iraq bore a validation stamp that seemed a bit funky, for one thing. And that companion paper! It outlined some kind of bizarre military campaign against world powers. Iraq and Iran were supposedly in it together - preposterous, given their enmity - and the whole thing was being run out of the Nigerien Embassy in Rome." -- Christian Science Monitor

The CIA discounted the documents as forgeries, but President Bush continued to rely on them in his claims that Iraq was building a nuke program. (CSM)

Only 2% of Iraqi Detainees Ever Convicted

The Raw Story reports that fewer than 2% of detainees held in Iraqi prisons have ever been convicted of anything.

They cite documents showing 13,514 prisoners in coalition custody -- up from just 5,673 in March.

Since the war started in March, 2003, the coalition has held a total of 35,000 detainees. Raw Story reports that only 1,300 of them have been tried -- and only half of those were convicted. (The Raw Story)

Libby NOT This Scandal's Deep Throat

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward testified before the CIA leak grand jury for two hours this week -- saying he was aware of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity in the middle of June, 2003.

That's roughly a month before she was first publicly identified in a Robert Novak column.

Former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby has been indicted for his role in the investigation.

But Mr Woodward says he was first told about Ms Plame's identity by another White House official -- not Mr Libby.

A spokesman for White House advisor Karl Rove says Mr Rove never spoke with Mr Woodward about Ms Plame. (CNN/WashPost)

A Smooth Segway into Japan

Remember when President Bush fell off the Segway scooter in June, 2003?

That's the tumble in the pictures here.

Seems President Bush has given one to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Maybe the President never did figure out how to ride it -- and decided to pass it along. (Austrailian Broadcasting Company)

"Bridge to Nowhere" -- Goes Nowhere

The Senate Appropriations Committee has removed money for a pair of bridges in Alaska.

That included the quarter-billion dollar "Bridge to Nowhere." It's real name was the Gravina Bridge -- connecting an island with just 50 people. An artist's conception of one of the plans is pictured here.

Turns out one of the backers was Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Her family owns 33 acres of undeveloped land less than a mile from where the bridge would have been built. Her father is Governor Frank Murkowski (R-AK). (Sierra Club)

Wednesday Headlines

Senate seeks exit strategy
Senate turns up pressure for Iraq exit
Congress Showdown Possible Over Iraq War

US Senate moves to block Guantanamo appeals
Senate RollVote Iraq Detainees

Bush to China: Open up
Bush tells China to open the door to freedom

Baseball to Toughen Steroid Penalties
New steroids policy still has loopholes

Showtime in Washington

Your tax dollars are paying for a documentary of Alaskan road work.

MP3 File

[This podcast originally appeared as a print posting at on August 29, 2005.]

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cranking out Complaints

The FCC got 23,547 complaints about indecency on television in July. All but five of them came from the Parents Television Council. Almost all of the outfits 23,542 form letters were about just two shows.

PTC recently lost a $3.5 million lawsuit after falsely claimed TV wrestling was responsible for four children's deaths. (

Acid Rain Goes Away

International enviromental regulations are paying off -- 20 years after acid rain killed trees in the Black Forrest and fish in Scandanavian lakes.

New research shows acidic sulphur levels in Britain have been cut in half in the last 15 years. Unversity College London found algae, plants and insects are recovering -- creating the first links in a food chain that's resulted in the return of brown trout.

International treaties to reduce the levels of sulphur dioxide came about after acid rain was blamed for plant and animal deaths in the 1980s. (Reuters)

He Wants No DeLay in his Trial

Rep Tom DeLay (R-TX) wants his trial to start in December -- if the case goes that far. He's asking that all charges against him be dismissed. But wants a trial right away so -- if he's cleared -- he can return to his House leadership post.

Rep DeLay was forced to step aside as House Majority Leader after he was indicted on criminal conspiracy and money laundering charges. (USAToday)

Republicans Want Out of Iraq

Republicans and Democrats are both pressuring the White House to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

The Senate votes on two plans today -- one from each party -- that would require 2006 to be a year of major transition: Where US forces will begin turning over security to the Iraqis.

Both plans seriously reign in the far reaching war powers Congress gave President Bush at the beginning of the Iraq War. (CNN)