Thursday, July 01, 2004

'Real Criminal Is Bush'

Saddam Hussein, was arraigned in a suburban Baghdad courtroom today. The courtroom was in a place that was once part of a palace built for him.

Saddam jabbed his finger a few times at the judge, but did not raise his voice. He did question the court, asking under whose authority the court is being run.

He sparred with the judge over whether the court had any jurisdiction over him and said the proceeding was the work of U.S. occupiers.

At one point Saddam asked the judge if he represented the coalition.

His lawyers were prevented from entering Iraq.

Saddam told the court: "this is all theater," and that "the real criminal is Bush," who he said is trying to win re-election.

Now no one will argue that Saddam was a dictator and that he did some heinous things for which he should be held accountable, but in reviewing the televised news reports on various channels, most are stating as factual (based on what, I don't know), that today's arraignment will help Bush because it will show people why the invasion of Iraq by the US was a good thing. Seems they have forgotten how the Reagan/Bush administration armed Iraq and used to be buddies with Saddam. Further, they also seem to be forgotting how many Americans have and continue to die or get maimed or wounded just to help Bush try to get reelected.


Escape From the Green Zone

July 1, 2004

Escape From the Green Zone

You'd think that President Bush would have learned by now to keep those snappy aphorisms to himself.

Gonna get Osama dead or alive.
Or neither.

Gonna smoke Osama out of his cave.
When exactly?

Bring 'em on.
Please don't.

Mission Accomplished.

Let freedom reign.
Couldn't Karl Rove and his minions at least get that "ad-lib" right about freedom ringing?

Not gonna cut and run.
We can't cut, but we certainly ran.

Paul Bremer scuttled out of Baghdad so fast, he didn't even wait for the new ambassador, John Negroponte, to arrive so he could pass along some safety tips. Mr. Negroponte, assuming the most perilous diplomatic post in the world, is going to need all the security advice he can get if Iraq keeps slouching toward Islamic fundamentalism and rampant terrorism.

The administration went from Shock and Awe to Sneak and Shirk. Gotta run, guys — keep chins up and heads down. The Bush crowd pretended the country was free and able to stand on its own, even as the odd manner in which Mr. Bremer scooted away showed that it wasn't. The president acted as if Iraq was in control, but our forces can't come home because Iraq's still out of control.

As Paul Bremer was sneaking out, Ahmad Chalabi, the swindler who has bilked America out of millions, was sneaking in. He was smiling from ear to ear at the swearing-in ceremony for the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi (a ceremony so secretive that coalition officials confiscated reporters' cellphones to enforce an embargo on the news for security reasons).

If Americans needed any more confirmation that they're viewed as loathed occupiers, not beloved liberators, it came with the sad little spectacle of a hasty, heavily guarded hand-over that no Iraqi John Trumbell will memorialize in an oil painting of the Declaration of Iraqi Independence.

Dick Cheney and the neocons had once hoped for a grand Independence Day celebration, no doubt, where Saddam's toppled statue once loomed, dreaming of a parade of Iraqi high school pep squads and the Iraqi Olympic bobsled team; sky boxes for Halliburton executives; grateful Iraqis, cheering and crying; President Bush making a surprise drop-in from the NATO summit meeting in nearby Turkey, with "Mission Accomplished" pen sets for the new government; Katie, Matt and Diane beaming it back to proud Americans.

Instead, there was no real transfer of power because there was no power to transfer. It was a virtual transfer, just the way the rationale for war was virtual and the shift of Saddam's custody to Iraq is virtual. The Bush team is not going to trust Iraqi security to hang onto Saddam because it doesn't even know yet whether Iraqi security can hang onto the country. With rumblings in Iraq that a strongman may be needed to tamp down the anarchy, what if the old Baathist crowd rushed to crown Saddam, instead of his foes storming the prison to "hack him to pieces," as Mr. Bremer speculated on the "Today" show?

Mr. Bremer's escape from the Green Zone was uncomfortably reminiscent of the last days of Saigon. No one was hanging onto the skids of helicopters, but the mood was furtive, not festive. American troops are still trapped in Iraq and being killed there, and 5,600 ex-soldiers are being involuntarily recalled in America's undeclared draft.

The White House pretended that the sovereignty was real. The administration that is loath to share information and presidential papers — even to help the 9/11 investigation find ways to make the country more secure — quickly turned over a photo of Mr. Bush's handwritten "Let freedom reign!" comment on Condi Rice's note to him announcing the transfer.

But it rings — or reigns — hollow in a week when Sandra Day O'Connor and the Supremes — except the Bush family fixer Clarence Thomas — slapped the commander in chief for torturing without a license. "A state of war is not a blank check for the president," the court ruled.

Still, Mr. Bremer put the best foot forward. Noting that the ex-proconsul was standing on the White House lawn still in the boots he wore with suits in Iraq, Charlie Gibson of ABC asked the escapee how he felt.

"Well, it's like having a rather large weight lifted off my shoulders," he said. "I'm delighted to be back."

If only our soldiers could say the same.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004


(Humor from

Drops F-bomb Twelve Times During U.K. Visit

Vice President Dick Cheney scandalized the United Kingdom today, cussing out Queen Elizabeth II in what observers said was his most profanity-laden tirade to date.

Mr. Cheney was at Buckingham Palace to witness the knighting of legendary British journalist Harold Evans when the Queen made what one source called “a snarky remark” about the vice president’s relationship with the Halliburton Company.

At that point, observers said, Mr. Cheney “launched the f-bomb” at the Queen no fewer than a dozen times, shocking the dignitaries attending Sir Harold’s investiture.

“Mind your own [bleeping] business, you [bleeping] old [bleep],” Mr. Cheney was quoted as saying.

“Cheney has the mouth of a sailor, which is odd for someone who did everything he could to stay out of the Navy,” one observer said.

But according to Charles, the Prince of Wales, after Mr. Cheney’s f-bomb barrage was over the Queen stood her ground and returned fire with a potty-mouthed attack of her own.

“When it comes to cussing, my mother’s language can peel paint,” Prince Charles proudly told reporters. “After all, she learnt at the feet of the master – the Queen Mother. That old bag could drop the f-bomb with the best of them, may she rest in peace.”

The filthy war of words between the Queen and the vice president was carried live on worldwide television, meaning that both dignitaries could now face FCC fines topping well over $1 billion.

Mr. Cheney took the fines in stride, telling reporters that they would be paid for with revenue from Iraqi oil.



(Humor from

Element of Surprise Cited As Bush Romps to Victory

Inspired by the early handover of sovereignty in Iraq, President George W. Bush employed the element of surprise once more last night, holding the U.S. presidential election four months early.

The election, about which only top Bush administration officials were notified, went exceedingly well for the president, who carried all fifty states and garnered approximately one hundred percent of the vote.

Mr. Bush’s victory speech, which he had originally scheduled for eleven P.M. last night, was at the last minute rescheduled to nine P.M., once again capitalizing on the element of surprise.

In his speech, Mr. Bush admitted that he might have had a more difficult time getting reelected if the American people had actually been notified about the time and date of the voting, but added, “A win’s a win, right?”

Mr. Bush’s second inauguration is slated to take place on January 20, 2005, but administration officials acknowledged that it could happen “at any time.”

“For all I know it has already happened,” one aide said.

While the stealth presidential election seems to have cemented the Bush administration’s reputation for secrecy, one aide said that some secrets were harder to keep than others: “For example, everyone knows how Paul Wolfowitz gets his hair to look so great.”

White House officials praised the performance of the controversial new Diebold electronic voting machines, which successfully tabulated final results from Florida before a single vote was cast.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Secret Early Government Transfer In Iraq

US Imposes Rules



by David Sirota, Christy Harvey, Judd Legum and Jonathan Baskin

June 28, 2004

IRAQ - Leaving on a Jet Plane

In a move highlighting the severe threat the insurgency poses to security in Iraq, chief U.S. administrator Paul Bremer formally transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days early. The "near secret" (
ceremony was attended by just "a half dozen Iraqi and coalition officials held in the heavily guarded Green Zone." The acceleration of the transfer date was "an apparent bid to surprise insurgents and prevent them from trying to sabotage the step toward self-rule." President Bush -- in Turkey for a NATO summit -- "marked the transfer with a whispered comment
( and a handshake with British Prime Minister Tony Blair." After handing a few legal document to Iraqi chief justice Mahdi al-Mahmood, Bremer immediately "left Iraq on a U.S. Air Force C-130." But the early handover does not change the reality on the ground -- Iraq's newly-sovereign government is beset by a growing insurgency, faced with enormous political challenges, and tasked with taking over the management of a tumultuous transition. Today, American Progress released a new plan outlining clear steps the Bush administration should take to promote peace and stability after the transition.


Before flying off into the sunset, Bremer "issued a raft of edicts
revising Iraq's legal code." The new rules -- which will be difficult, if not impossible, to overturn -- will "restrict the power of the interim government, and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic transition." Controversially, Bremer empowered an appointed electoral commission to "eliminate political parties or candidates." Another last minute edict gave "U.S. and other Western civilian contractors immunity from Iraqi law while performing their jobs in Iraq" -- a provision that outraged many Iraqis because it "allows foreigners to act with impunity even after the occupation." Bremer also capped the tax rate at 15 percent, amended an industrial-design law to protect microchip designs, and stipulated the use of car horns be permitted in "emergency conditions only."


A new report by Christian Aid -- a non-profit that seeks solutions to poverty -- reveals that Bremer left Iraq "without having properly accounted for what it has done with some $20 billion of Iraq's own money"
(, accumulated from oil sales. The actions of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) appear to violate U.N. resolution 1483, which mandated that "Iraq's oil revenues should be paid into the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), that this money should be spent in the interests of the Iraqi people, and [that it] be independently audited." Bremer did not even appoint an auditor until April 2004, and the report is not expected until mid-July -- long after the CPA has been dissolved. In the meantime, the CPA has refused to provide even basic information about how the money is being spent. Christian Aid also notes that a "majority of Iraq's reconstruction projects have been awarded to U.S. companies, which charge up to 10 times more ( than Iraqi firms."


Sunday, June 27, 2004

Are They Losing It?

NY Times
June 27, 2004

Are They Losing It?


One thing you've got to say for Dick Cheney: No one will ever again dismiss the vice presidency as a pitcher of warm spit. Mr. Major League Potty Mouth has shown that, with obsequiousness to the president and obtuseness to the facts, a vice president can run the world. Right into the ground.

This week, it's not just Democrats who are questioning whether Vice is losing it. Now, even some in the White House are saying it's bizarre that he chose a class photo-op on the Senate floor to suggest that Senator Patrick Leahy do something that you won't even find described in Bill Clinton's "My Life."

While Democratic lawmakers delayed final passage of a defense spending bill so they could mingle with Michael Moore, the once sweat-free Bushies were acting jangly.

First Vice chewed out The Times for accurately reporting that the 9/11 commission said there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Then Paul Wolfowitz called the reporters risking their lives in Iraq craven rumormongers. Then came Mr. Cheney's F-word. (Not Fox, the other one.)

Finally, President Bush got agitated when an Irish TV interviewer said most of the Irish found the world more dangerous now than before the Iraq invasion. "First of all, most of Europe supported the decision in Iraq," Mr. Bush declared. (It's all in how you define "Europe.")

Even as Tom Daschle proposed bipartisan family retreats to heal the harsh mood, even as the Senate passed the "Defense of Decency Act," Mr. Cheney profanely laced into Mr. Leahy for criticizing Halliburton's getting no-bid contracts.

"I felt better afterwards," he told Neil Cavuto during a no-bid interview with Fox News. Hey, if it feels good, Dick, do it.

He said he had no regrets about his "little floor debate in the United States Senate." He didn't want to go along with Mr. Leahy's attitude that "everything's peaches and cream" when the Democrat had just been jawing about Halliburton war profiteering. Peaches and cream have never been on the Bush-Cheney menu, only brimstone and gall.

By playing on the insecurities of an inexperienced leader, Mr. Cheney has managed to change W. from a sunny, open, bipartisan, uniter-not-a-divider, non-nation-builder into a crabby, secretive, partisan, divider-not-a-uniter, inept imperialist. Vice is bounding around the country, talking to his usual circumscribed audiences of conservatives, right-wing think tanks and Fox News anchors. No need to burrow in the bunker when you've turned America into one.

As they used to say about the Soviet Union, the defensive Bush imperialists have to keep expanding because they're encircled. Mr. Cheney's gloomy, scary, contentious world view has fueled a more gloomy, scary, contentious world.

After disastrously dividing the world into the strong (Bush hawks) and the weak (everyone else), Vice turned his coarseness into another macho, tough-guy moment against a Democrat considered a pill by many Republicans. "I think a lot of my colleagues felt that what I had said badly needed to be said, that it was long overdue," he preened.

The conservatives defending Mr. Cheney are largely the same crowd that went off the deep end because of a glimpse of breast on the Super Bowl, demanding everything from fines to new regulations to protect red states from blue language.

Mr. Cheney's foul outburst was not as bad as his foul reasoning. On Fox, he again belabored his obsession with "links" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Exhibiting WASP chutzpah, this time he used The Times to bolster his faux case.

But the Thom Shanker story he cited said only that in the mid-1990's, Iraq agreed to rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda and that a request from Osama "to begin joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia went unanswered."

Rebroadcast anti-Saudi propaganda? As a threat to U.S. security, that's right up there with Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

Mr. Cheney assured Fox's anxious viewers that he would stay on the ticket and in the White House until January '09. (No four letter words, dear Democrats.) Vice said of W., "he knows I'm there to serve him."

Mr. Bush must have missed that classic "Twilight Zone" episode where the aliens arrive with a book entitled, "To Serve Man." It turns out to be a cookbook.