Wednesday, June 30, 2004

9/11 Catches Fire
Pretty impressive opening weekend for Farenheit 9/11. All of the shouts from the right-wing pundits and talk-shows regarding the movie's status as a documentary are interesting. Of course Moore has opinions, and, yes, they lean to the left. He creates movies that are documentaries in that they utilize facts, but are presented by Moore as he sees them. The unexpected interest in this film (as evidenced by sold-out shows everywhere) is a direct result from the overwheming preponderance of right-leaning media, and the lack of any other mass-mmedia opinions regarding this administration out there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Now the Press is Curious??
Dubya's past service (or not) isn't going away:

AP Sues for Access to Bush Guard Records

WASHINGTON - The Associated Press sued the Pentagon and the Air Force on Tuesday, seeking access to all records of George W. Bush's military service during the Vietnam War.

Filed in federal court in New York, where The AP is headquartered, the lawsuit seeks access to a copy of Bush's microfilmed personnel file from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin.

The White House says the government has already released all the records of Bush's military service.

Controversy surrounds Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard because it is unclear from the record what duties he performed for the military when he was working on the political campaign of a U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama.

There are questions as to whether the file provided to the news media earlier this year is complete, says the lawsuit, adding that these questions could possibly be answered by reviewing a copy of the microfilm of Bush's personnel file in the Texas archives.

The Air National Guard of the United States, a federal entity, has control of the microfilm, which should be disclosed in its entirety under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawsuit says.

The White House has yet to respond to a request by the AP in April asking the president to sign a written waiver of his right to keep records of his military service confidential. Bush gave an oral waiver in a TV appearance that preceded the White House's release this year of materials concerning his National Guard service."

Amazing. If this were Clinton or any other Democratic President, the Republican rage would be palpable, culminating in a multi-million dollar investigation. If Dubya were the leader he is portrayed to be, he would admit that, yes, his family used their connections to get him into the Texaas National Air Guard (just like thousands of other folks who could), and yes, he checked the box on the form that prevented him from serving overseas. If he were to frame these actions in the red-hot glow of the 60's, most folks would understand. As adults, we are not who we were back in our teens and 20's.......

Monday, June 14, 2004

You Reap What You Sow
Many conservatives today like to portray themselves as Bible-thumpin' believers, but what has always amazed me is the utter contempt many religious conservatives have for anyone else not like them (poor folks, gays, liberals, etc.). Now, I survived 12 years of Catholic schools and although I may be a devout agnostic now, there were some great truths in the old teachings, among them "you reap what you sow." The hate-filled screechings that issue forth from talk radio and many of Ann Coulter's books are what I would definitely call "anti-religious." WWJD indeed? Well, you simply can't keep talking crap all the time without it coming back to you, as evidenced by Rush Limbaugh's latest divorce. Married three times, hooked on painkillers and also thought the Abu Ghraib pictures were people "blowing off some steam." Sad stuff, and perhaps all corrected by taking another job that doesn't involve degrading people on the air.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Why You Don't Trust Exiles....
How in the world did one man weasel himself into so many high places? Ahmed Chalabi (who Dubya laughingly tried to dismiss as someone "he met once or twice, maybe at the rope line") is now suspected of passing on secret info to the Iranians:

"No more than a few weeks ago senior U.S. spy masters could revel in how much they knew about Tehran's most-secret doings. They had their very own keyhole on the theocracy's inner councils. Even better, the Americans could also eavesdrop on Iran's covert contacts with death-dealing organizations like Hizbullah. As a result, many U.S. intelligence officials were convinced that the Lebanese terror group did not pose an immediate threat to American interests, despite its gory past. Now they don't know what to think. Someone tipped off the Iranians that America had cracked the cryptographic system of Iran's principal spy agency, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The prime suspect? The man who once was the Pentagon's favorite Iraqi exile: Ahmad Chalabi.

The Iraqi politician has vehemently denied having any access to American secrets about Iran, let alone spilling them. "Dr. Chalabi would never endanger the national security of the U.S.," his lawyers insisted last week in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Still, intelligence officials think that's just what he did. They had asked NEWSWEEK, which first reported the outlines of Chalabi's alleged indiscretions more than a month ago, The New York Times and other news organizations to omit any reference to code breaking or the top-secret National Security Agency from stories about Chalabi until last week, after details leaked on cable news. The latest revelations: in April, the Americans intercepted a cable to Tehran from the Iranian spy ministry's Baghdad station chief. The cable quoted Chalabi as telling the station chief that the Iranians' code had been cracked by U.S. intelligence, saying the Iraqi had heard it from a drunken American."


"Regardless of who's responsible for the security breach, it comes at a bad moment: reports from Iraq say suspected Hizbullah operatives may be helping Iraqi insurgents mount terrorist attacks on Americans and other foreign personnel."

Nice. What a goddamn mess. When Chalabi appeared on Frontline last year, you could tell he was basically a used car salesman....when the interviewer kept requesting to see the memo that linked Saddam with bin Laden, Chalabi kept saying, "I've got that here. My people will show it to you." Never happened. "Yes, I have the car you're looking for somewhere on the lot, but let me show you the other model that I happen to have on sale...." He has always been about keeping his ass out of jail (Jordan bank fraud, anyone?) and keeping himself in power.

Perle, Wolfowitz and the other neocons saw in Chalabi a fellow intellectual, someone who had great insights into Saddam's vast stash of WMD's and someone who would be a friend to the U.S. Never, never trust exiles. He has always been playing both sides, to his own benefit. He fled Iraq in 1958, which doesn't endear himself to the people of Iraq who couldn't leave and had to suffer through many years.

For a great review of his past, read this article:



Ahmad Chalabi pushed a tainted case for war. Can he survive the occupation?

Ahmad Chalabi, the wealthy Iraqi Shiite who spent more than a decade working for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, prides himself on his understanding of the United States and its history. “"I know quite a lot about it,"” he told me not long ago. It was after midnight in Baghdad, but he was still in his office in the new headquarters of the Iraqi National Congress, the exile opposition group that Chalabi helped found in 1992. As a young man, he said, he spent several years in America, earning an undergraduate and master’s degree in mathematics from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago. Chalabi began studying the uses of power in American politics, and the subject developed into a lifelong interest. One episode in American history particularly fascinated him he said. “"I followed very closely how Roosevelt, who abhorred the Nazis, at a time when isolationist sentiment was paramount in the United States, managed adroitly to persuade the American people to go to war. I studied it with a great deal of respect; we learned a lot from it. The Lend-Lease program committed Roosevelt to enter on Britain’s side—so we had the Iraq Liberation Act, which committed the American people for the liberation against Saddam.” The act, which Congress passed in 1998, made “regime change” in Iraq an official priority of the U.S. government; Chalabi had lobbied tirelessly for the legislation.

Three days after our conversation, Chalabi’s Baghdad home was raided at gunpoint by Iraqi police, who were supported by American troops. His offices were also searched. Chalabi had sensed that a confrontation with the Bush Administration was imminent. As he put it, “It’s customary when great events happen that the U.S. punishes its friends and rewards its enemies.” For years, he had been America’s staunchest Iraqi ally, and he had helped the Bush Administration make its case against Saddam, in part by disseminating the notion that the Baathist regime had maintained stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and was poised to become a nuclear power. Although Chalabi developed enemies at the C.I.A. who disputed his intelligence data and questioned his ethics, he forged a close bond with Vice-President Dick Cheney and many of the top civilians at the Pentagon, such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under-Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, and Under-Secretary of Defense William J. Luti. Yet now that the occupation of Iraq appeared to be headed toward disaster, he said, many in the Administration had united in making him the scapegoat. As Chalabi saw it, he had understood America too well, and had been too successful in influencing its foreign policy. “There is a smear campaign that says I am responsible for the liberation of Iraq,” he said. Then he added with a chuckle, “But how bad is that?”

Between 1992 and the raid on Chalabi’s home, the U.S. government funnelled more than a hundred million dollars to the Iraqi National Congress. The current Bush Administration gave Chalabi’s group at least thirty-nine million dollars. Exactly what the I.N.C. provided in exchange for these sums has yet to be fully explained. Chalabi defined his role simply. “I clarified the picture,” he said. His many critics, however, believe that he distorted it. Diplomatic and intelligence officials accuse him of exaggerating the security threat that Iraq posed to the U.S.; supplying defectors who offered misleading or bogus testimony about Saddam’s efforts to acquire nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; promoting questionable stories connecting Saddam to Al Qaeda; and overestimating the ease with which Saddam could be replaced with a Western-style democracy.

Vincent Cannistraro, a former C.I.A. counter-terrorism specialist who now consults for the government, told me, “With Chalabi, we paid to fool ourselves. It’s horrible. In other times, it might be funny. But a lot of people are dead as a result of this. It’s reprehensible.”

This is an excellent article with much, much more...go and read!

Friday, June 04, 2004

It's Just a Movie!
OK, I've heard the folks that are taking "The Day After Tomorrow" a bit too seriously. According to their argument, weather scientists are actually saying that the global weather changes depicted in the movie are a bit too, well..a bit too theatric! Gee, do ya think???? And so, based on that, global warming is yet another tree-hugging fantasy. The truth is, we actually don't know what will happen in the future regarding the Earth's climate and man's impact on weather. Is the Earth dynamic? You betcha. What is weather? It's the Earth's way to balance the hot and the cold sides of this big 'ol ball. Are we impacting weather patterns? Undoubtedly yes, but we don't yet have a handle on just how. I suspect that we shall see fluctuations in rainfall amounts, storm patterns and sea levels. Not as dramatic as a movie perhaps, but our future will be impacted. We have to examine global warming as adults, and not bury our heads in the sand and think we have no impact upon weather patterns.

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