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    21 May 2005

    Downing Street Minutes - Revisited

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    [UPDATE] I'll be on a small vacation this weeked so I've frontpaged this post that I posted almost a month ago. It is a very important post, and one that has been all but ignored my the MSM/SCLM. This is a smoking gun!! Someone must be held to the fire for this… ‘W’ that means you!!

    Remember how many times BushCo. has claimed that they tried every possible approach to Iraq in order to avoid a war, I mean what was resolution 1441 all about, a last chance right?

    Well it's a lie. A recently released memo from the UK lays out in clear writing an existing plan for the occupation of Iraq by US, British and other foreign troops. This memo is from July 2002, resolution 1441 wouldn’t be drafted until November 2002 (four months later), and Powell addressed the UN General Assembly in February 2003. This memo clearly show that Blair's government had agreed that there should be a regime change in Iraq and that events at the UN should be engineered to allow the war, as encouraged by the US government. Advance planning had already taken place in the Pentagon.


    From: Matthew Rycroft
    Date: 23 July 2002
    S 195 /02
    cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


    Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

    This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

    John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

    C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

    CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

    The two broad US options were:

    (a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

    (b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

    The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

    (i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

    (ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

    (iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

    The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

    The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

    The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

    The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

    On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

    For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

    The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

    John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

    The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.


    (a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

    (b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

    (c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

    (d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

    He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

    (e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

    (f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

    (I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)


    20 May 2005

    Stem cell action

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    [UPDATE] Here is the roll call from the vote today. The bill passed easily, but would need 52 Congressmen/women to switch their vote to override the veto. 14 Dems and 180 Repubs voted 'NO' with 2 Congressmen/women not voting. The Dems voting no were Costello, Davis (TN), Holden, Kaptur, Kildee, Lipinski, Marshall, McIntyre, Mollohan, Oberstar, Peterson (MN), Rahall, Stupak, and Taylor (MS).

    With all the hoopla in congress with the filibuster fight, it is easy to overlook the current and pending battle over stem cell research. Stem cells are pure magic, they can be harvested in any number of ways; some more controversial that others. But with an administration with policies mostly based on the philosophy of means justifying the ends, it is hard to believe the amount of opposition the stem cells and all of its benefits receive from bushCo. and Bush himself. For example, South Korea has made monumental developments in stem cell research and so have other countries; even we (the US) has made moderate developments in the field despite a rightwing roadblock on the matter.

    The lead swap between America and South Korea

    Just a few years ago, Michigan State University scientist Jose Cibelli was considered the leading expert on cloning human embryos to treat and study disease. Now, there's no debate that the cloning king is Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University.

    On Thursday, Hwang announced yet again that he had successfully cloned human embryos, this time extracting stem cells from embryos created using the DNA of sick and injured patients. It was the second time in a little more than a year that Hwang had successfully cloned. He remains the only acknowledged scientist to have done so.

    Hwang is succeeding where the United States is failing because generous South Korean government support helped him create an efficient cloning factory. In his lab, an army of researchers trained in specialized individual tasks mans a high-tech assembly line that often operates 24 hours a day, Cibelli and others say.

    In contrast, the few U.S. researchers eager to clone are left scrambling for funds and staff and must contend with legal vagaries as well as staunch opposition from President Bush, who reaffirmed his position on Friday with a veto threat.

    This is a damn shame. Not because we lost the lead in this area of research, but because with our scientist limited so severely, the benefits that the world will reap when this technology is perfected will be put off that much longer. People who suffer from or will suffer from conditions such as (from the Stem Cell Research Foundation)...

    • leukemia and other cancers (which I just lost my grand mother to)

    • impared sight / macular degeneration (grandmother suffers from this)

    • severe burns

    • kidney disease (lost grandfather to)

    • diabetes

    • Parkinson's disease

    • Alzheimers (lost grandfather to)

    • multiple sclerosis

    • spinal injuries / paralysis

    • aging organs

    • organ rejection (reduce the risk of transplant rejection, it would be made from your own DNA)

    • This list goes on and will only increase with time and research.

    ...will pay dearly.

    But when a scientist makes a discovery like Dr. Hwang made earlier this week...
    South Korean scientists have dramatically sped up the creation of human embryonic stem cells, growing 11 new batches that for the first time were a genetic match to injured or sick patients.

    Our leader replies by condemning it.

    Which bring us to the action.

    I would imagine that the Dems are all for the lifting of the 2001 ban on Government funded stem cell research, and the GOP is divided but it is almost guaranteed that the bill will get its 218 votes in the House. That is step one, as you all know. Then it is of to the President to sign the bill, which he won't do. He has stated that he will veto the bill, this would send it back to the House. Here it would be possible to override the veto with a 2/3 majority in both chambers. 23 Repubs and an Independent (assuming all the Dems are on board) in the Senate, and 90 more Representatives in addition to the 200 cosigners the bill already has. This, in my opinion, is a posiblity.

    So in conclusion I request that given the tremendous amount of lobbying that is going on currently, surrounding the filibuster; you take an extra minute to write a short letter of concern and/or encouragement for this bill, now and in the coming weeks after the veto. It is possible to slip this by Bush; it is possible in the Senate and since this is a topic that is popular across the country, getting as many as 300 votes in the House is a definite possibility.

    Imagine the look on Bush's face if he loses on this, as well as, the outrage in the small circles of opposition that control him; a.k.a. the extremist religious right. :)

    Prominent Republican calls for bushCo. Impeachment

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    Paul Craig Roberts was the Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan, he is a fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, and senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Wednesday, at his website he slammed bushCo. for being what he is, a criminal.
    A Reputation in Tatters

    George W. Bush and his gang of neocon warmongers have destroyed America’s reputation. It is likely to stay destroyed, because at this point the only way to restore America’s reputation would be to impeach and convict President Bush for intentionally deceiving Congress and the American people in order to start a war of aggression against a country that posed no threat to the United States.

    America can redeem itself only by holding Bush accountable.

    As intent as Republicans were to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying about a sexual affair, they have a blind eye for President Bush’s far more serious lies. Bush’s lies have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people, injured and maimed tens of thousands more, devastated a country, destroyed America’s reputation, caused 1 billion Muslims to hate America, ruined our alliances with Europe, created a police state at home, and squandered $300 billion dollars and counting.

    America’s reputation is so damaged that not even our puppets can stand the heat. Anti-American riots, which have left Afghan cities and towns in flames and hospitals overflowing with casualties, have forced Bush’s Afghan puppet, “President” Hamid Karzai, to assert his independence from his U.S. overlords. In a belated act of sovereignty, Karzai asserted authority over heavy-handed U.S. troops whose brutal and stupid ways sparked the devastating riots. Karzai demanded control of U.S. military activities in Afghanistan and called for the return of the Afghan detainees who are being held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    Abundant evidence now exists in the public domain to convict George W. Bush of the crime of the century. The secret British government memo (dated July 23, 2002, and available here), leaked to the Sunday Times (which printed it on May 1, 2005), reports that Bush wanted “to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. . . . But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.... The (United Kingdom) attorney general said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defense, humanitarian intervention or UNSC (U.N. Security Council) authorization. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult.”

    This memo is the mother of all smoking guns. Why isn’t Bush in the dock?

    Has American democracy failed at home?

    Failed? Yes.
    Note I first covered the memo here on May 1st. Where is that liberal media???
    Credit to mrboma at dKos

    Lebanon news

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    Lebanon Times

    The Daily Star

    The Jerusalem Post

    Syria Daily

    Damascus Post

    Look close, we can only hope

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    Image hosted by Photobucket.com
    from wiskey bar
    Defendants in the dock at the Ango-American War Crimes Trial of 2010, held at The Hague under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

    Toilets aside, Americans are tortures

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    NYT has a front page article about the American sanctioned torture in Afghanistan
    Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

    The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

    Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

    "Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

    At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

    "Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

    Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

    So there it is the SCLM has stood up to McClellan and the Whitehouse, but now the Red Cross joins in
    The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has credible information that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have mistreated the Quran. This comes just days after Newsweek retracted a story making similar allegations.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had reported the allegations in confidence to Pentagon officials many times in 2002 and 2003.

    If you think that we didn't use the Koran for torture then you are a fool, and you probably voted for bushCo.

    19 May 2005

    Foreign fighters are the least of our worries in Iraq

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    The new Iraqi Government requested that its neighbors stop the resistance
    Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called on neighboring countries Thursday to help prevent foreign terrorists from crossing into Iraq as a series of attacks killed more than a dozen Iraqis and two American soldiers.

    Al-Jaafari's appeal came a day after a top U.S. military official said the leaders of Iraq's most notorious terrorist group recently held a secret meeting in neighboring Syria, where they plotted the recent wave of insurgent violence that has killed hundreds of people.

    "There are infiltrations of non-Iraqis through the border to carry out sabotage activities," al-Jaafari said of the meeting that may have been attended by most-wanted militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi himself. "It's up to our geographical neighbors. We are keen to preserve relations between us and neighboring countries, and these relations should be good."

    The only problem is the resistance, it is not an insurgency, is not based totally, or for that matter, at all outside of Iraq. The only ones saying this is bushCo. and the new Iraqi Government.

    In an inappropriately named WaPo article
    U.S. military estimates cited by security analysts put the number of active jihadists at about 1,000, or less than 10 percent of the number of fighters in a mostly Iraqi-dominated insurgency. But military officials now say the foreigners are responsible for a higher percentage of the suicide bombings, and the online postings include few names of dead Iraqis affiliated with Zarqawi's group.
    "This is not al Qaeda's first team," said Hammes of the National Defense University. "These are the scrubs who could never get us in the States."

    Furthermore, western press is so quick to blame Syria and Iran, when the greatest number of jihadists come from Saudi Arabia
    In a paper published in March, Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on terrorism, analyzed the lists of jihadi dead. He found 154 Arabs killed over the previous six months in Iraq, 61 percent of them from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis together accounting for another 25 percent. He also found that 70 percent of the suicide bombers named by the Web sites were Saudi. In three cases, Paz found two brothers who carried out suicide attacks. Many of the bombers were married, well educated and in their late twenties, according to postings.

    "While incomplete," Paz wrote, the data suggest "the intensive involvement of Saudi volunteers for jihad in Iraq."

    In a telephone interview, Paz said his list -- assembled from monitoring a dozen Islamic extremist Web forums -- now had more than 200 names. "Many are students or from wealthy families -- the same sociological characteristics as the Sept. 11 hijackers," he said.

    Juan Cole weighs in noting that some jihadists get sent back without a fight in Iraq
    From al-Hayat of May 14 via BBC World Monitoring:
    ' Al-Hayat has learnt that two Saudi brothers who went to Iraq across the Syrian border for "jihad" against the occupation returned without taking part in any fighting after a bitter experience.

    Sources told Al-Hayat that the two young men followed news of the resistance against the occupation since the former Iraqi regime's downfall and the Al-Fallujah confrontation inflamed their zeal and they decided to go to Iraq. Their relatives intervened to persuade them not to carry out what they intended until everyone became convinced they would not go. But, according to the sources, the two brothers sneaked into Iraq and were able to contact a network which receives the fighters on the Iraqi-Syrian border. The two met a few days later the fighters' "emir" [commander] at the border and asked him to take them to Al-Fallujah. But he refused, claiming that the road was difficult and full of dangers.

    The sources added: "The group's emir then confronted them with the truth, which the two young men considered very bitter because it came as a surprise. He told them: We have a number of booby-trapped cars ready for suicide bombings. The brothers were almost thunderstruck by the shock and told him: You want us to end our life in a suicide operation as soon as we set foot in Iraq! He answered indifferently: This is what we have now if you like it; if not, look for somebody else! They decided at that moment to return to their country and totally dismissed the idea of taking part in what they thought to be resistance in Iraq." '

    So the claim that the neighbors are behind the resistance seems to be false and we are truly dealing with a national resistance supported at a low level by foreign jihadists, contrary to western press reports and MSM claims.

    Another new poll

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    American Research Group, Inc.
    Among all Americans, 43% say they approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 51% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 37% of Americans say they approve and 57% say they disapprove.

    Among Americans registered to vote, 43% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 51% disapprove. As for Bush's handling of the economy, 38% of registered voters approve and 56% disapprove.

    The poll continues with partisan breakdowns and deals mostly with the economy.

    [1,100 sample size from May 15-18, 2005. MoE ± 3%]

    pulled link from dKos

    18 May 2005

    New poll: Americans hate bushCo.

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    Overall, according to the NBC/Journal poll, 52 percent believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction, while 35 percent think it’s on the right track.

    Rimjob's got it all and commentary here
    As the Senate marches closer toward a nuclear showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominees, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the American public is dissatisfied — with Congress and its priorities, with Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security and with the nation’s economy and general direction. Moreover, a majority believes that the Senate should make its own decision about the president’s judicial nominees, rather than just generally confirming them.

    How can anyone who voted for bushCo. be surprised? It's clear that the only care about the corporations and the money. However, I think they're getting it, only it's too late.
    Perhaps the most revealing finding in the poll is the attitude toward Congress. Just 33 percent of the respondents approve of Congress’ job. That’s down 6 points since a poll in April and 8 points since January.

    Nothing but damaging legislation out of the House and Senate, no real surprises for me. No people bills, just hand-outs.
    Just 20 percent of those polled say the economy has gotten better over the past 12 months, an 11- point decline since January; 51 percent believe that removing Saddam Hussein from power was not worth the cost and casualties of that war; and only 36 percent support Bush’s plan to allow workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market.

    So Americans don't like people getting blown up in unarmored cars or risking there nest egg in an unstable market...
    Regarding the contentious debate over Bush’s judicial nominees, just 34 percent say the Senate should generally confirm the president’s judicial picks as long as they are honest and competent, while 56 percent argue that the Senate should make its own decision about the fitness of each nominee to serve.

    Again they don't care,Repubs care about money, power, and corporations. These are corporate judges who value businesses over people, they are not appointed to serve the people but serve the capitalists. They'll vote with the extremist religious right to by some time but will F them asap.

    Now for the point of view
    ...McInturff, the GOP pollster, points out that Americans are upset with Congress focusing on the battle over judges, Social Security, trying to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube and the ethical troubles surrounding their members, including Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, instead of focusing on the economy, gas prices and health care.

    "There are some core day-to-day issues that they don't see being addressed," he said. "The people want us to head in a different direction and hear different things."

    Still, McInturff argues, it's much too early to predict that the Democrats will overtake the Republicans in the 2006 elections. "There is a difference between dissatisfaction and being a viable [alternative]. And we have a long way to go to 2006," he said.

    "The public is exceptionally displeased with the Congress," Hart said. "It is [the] lowest set of numbers since May of 1994," the year when congressional Republicans defeated their Democratic counterparts in the midterm elections to take control of both the House and Senate...

    ...All of these findings, Hart says, are signs of an angry electorate. "If you are a member of Congress and you got the poll back, you better be looking over your shoulder," he said. "The masses are not happy."

    That said, the article points out that people are not flocking to the left. This can only be attributed to the damage the Clinton years caused IMO.

    [Poll stats - 1,005 adults from May 12-16 MoE +/- 3.1%]

    WaPo spits truth re: Newsweek [UPDATE]

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    Desecration of Koran Had Been Reported Before
    Newsweek magazine's now-retracted story that a military guard at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet has sparked angry denunciations by the White House and the Pentagon, which have linked the article to Muslim riots and deaths abroad.

    But American and international media have widely reported similar allegations from detainees and others of desecration of the Muslim holy book for more than two years.

    Thank You!

    [UPDATE] MSNBC adds to the truth

    Bringing up the question,'Why would the Pentagon release this rule change if nothing ever happened?'
    "When I wanted to pray, they would burst into my cell with police dogs to terrorize me and prevent me from praying," he said. "They also would trample the Koran underfoot and throw it in the urine bucket. We staged protests in the prison about the desecrating of the Holy Koran, so the management promised us that they would issue orders to the American soldiers not to touch the copies of the Koran again."

    The Pentagon issued those rules on Jan. 19, 2003, requiring that the Koran not be placed on "the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas."

    Nuclear fallout - what to expect

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    WaPo has a great article on the upcoming events surrounding the Republican attempt to hi-jack Senate rules. Here is the link and some choice clips from the article. Certainly stuff that you won't see reported on the MSM and in Red State papers.

    A report last month by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service asserted that "the point of a 'nuclear' or 'constitutional' option is to achieve changes in Senate procedure by using means that lie outside the Senate's normal rules of procedure."

    Also, some Democrats have advanced evidence that the GOP gambit lacks support from the Senate parliamentarian, the official who typically rules on what is allowable under the chamber's rules and precedents.

    Reid told reporters last month that the parliamentarian, Alan S. Frumin, had told him that he opposed the Republicans' plan and that "if they do this, they will have to overrule him."

    Frumin, who was appointed by Republican leaders in 2001, has not been granting interviews. But a senior Republican Senate aide confirmed that Frist does not plan to consult Frumin at the time the nuclear option is deployed. "He has nothing to do with this," the aide said. "He's a staffer, and we don't have to ask his opinion."

    Anyway, if Frist (and when I say Frist I mean Dobson) fails, America will have overcome a victory over a tyrant majority. However, if Frist/Dobson/the extremists win the results will still be good. Senate Dems and some maverick Repubs will shut down the Senate, this is good because the Repubs have done nothing but pass damaging legislation so far in this cycle, and with people like Bolton coming up for nomination the damage is getting worse. But shutdown is not what it sounds like. Invoking a little-known Senate procedure called Rule XIV, Dems recently put nine bills on the Senate calendar

    1. Women's Health Care (S. 844). "The Prevention First Act of 2005" will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions by increasing funding for family planning and ending health insurance discrimination against women.

    2. Veterans' Benefits (S. 845). "The Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2005" will assist disabled veterans who, under current law, must choose to either receive their retirement pay or disability compensation.

    3. Fiscal Responsibility (S. 851). Democrats will move to restore fiscal discipline to government spending and extend the pay-as-you-go requirement.

    4. Relief at the Pump (S. 847). Democrats plan to halt the diversion of oil from the markets to the strategic petroleum reserve. By releasing oil from the reserve through a swap program, the plan will bring down prices at the pump.

    5. Education (S. 848). Democrats have a bill that will: strengthen head start and child care programs, improve elementary and secondary education, provide a roadmap for first generation and low-income college students, provide college tuition relief for students and their families, address the need for math, science and special education teachers, and make college affordable for all students.

    6. Jobs (S. 846). Democrats will work in support of
    legislation that guarantees overtime pay for workers and sets a fair minimum wage.

    7. Energy Markets (S. 870). Democrats work to prevent Enron-style market manipulation of electricity.

    8. Corporate Taxation (S. 872). Democrats make sure companies pay their fair share of taxes to the U.S. government instead of keeping profits overseas.

    9. Standing with our troops (S. 11). Democrats believe that putting America's security first means standing up for our troops and their families

    Rule XIV allows the Dems to bypass the committee process and be placed directly on the Senate floor. By tradition, the Senate Majority Leader controls the voting agenda, but only by tradition. And since the nuclear option is blowing that out of the water, why cling to the old ways?

    These are important and meaningful bills that get no support from Repubs, now they will be forced to vote on these bills and face the public if they vote them down or face there leadership if they grow some balls and pass them. Rule XIV makes everything get an up or down vote, this will be nothing like the 90s when Newt shut down the Senate, Sen. Durbin

    We're not going to shut down the Senate. We're not going to shut down the government. I can tell you we learned our lesson watching Newt Gingrich. That hapless tactic was terrible. It's not going to happen again. But I will tell you this. If they decide on the Republican side to break the rules in order to change the rules, then sadly we have no choice but to enforce the rules and live by them.

    It will be a different Senate. Senators will be at their desks more, on the floor more, in session more. The key legislation for the defense of America and our troops and important appropriations bills will still pass, but the agenda of the Senate and the procedure of the Senate will change.

    In conclusion, it is important to remember that Republicans are the ones breaking the rules here. And by breaking, I mean shattering. Cheney intends to rule in Frist's favor despite the fact that the Senate Parliamentarian - normally the final arbiter of Senate rules and procedure - would find the maneuver out of order. The promised response, however, is not even close to the "shutdown" Republicans are trying to sell you. Instead, it's a literal application of the rules as written. This should be an exciting session.

    17 May 2005

    George Galloway - A pack of lies and Newsweek reported properly

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    Crooks and Liars has the vid Mr. Galloway's bitch slap of the US congress.

    (click to go to C & L)

    Very refreshing stuff, too bad it comes from across an ocean.

    The Repubs are stupid if they think anyone isn't going to connect the dots back to them somehow on this Oil for Food scandal; where there is Oil there is a bush, where there is a scandal there is a bush, period!

    This is how the Newsweek story should be reported.

    (Click for Vid)

    Nuclear Tuesday

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    The Majority Leader has stated that the Senate will turn to the subject of judicial nominations this week. Democrats are ready for this fight. We stand united against an outrageous abuse of power that would pack the courts with out-of-the-mainstream judges.

    The time has come for Republican Senators to decide where they stand. Will they will abide by the rules of the Senate, or break those rules for the first time in 217 years of American history? Will they support the checks and balances established by the founding fathers, or vote to give the president unaccountable power to pick lifetime judges?

    While Democrats are ready to debate this issue, I am deeply pained that we need to do so. The Senate in which I have spent the last 20 years of my life is a body in which the rules are sacrosanct. We may choose to amend the rules by two-thirds vote. We may enter into unanimous consent to waive the rules. But never before in the history of the Senate has a partisan majority sought to break the rules in order to achieve momentary political advantage.

    If this happens, it will be a short term win for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but a long term loss for the Senate and for the American people.

    In an effort to avoid this confrontation and preserve constitutional checks and balances, I have made every effort to be reasonable. Last Monday I offered to have an up-down vote on Thomas Griffith, a controversial nominee to the D.C. Circuit. Last Thursday I offered to have an up-down vote on three nominees to the 6th Circuit, two of whom were filibustered last year.

    These are not judges Democrats would choose. But we know the difference between opposing bad nominees and blocking unacceptable ones.

    In making these good faith offers, I asked the majority: Do you want to confirm judges or do you want to provoke a fight? Regrettably, my proposals were rejected.

    Separate from these offers, I wrote to the Majority Leader last week and suggested two ways to end the impasse:

    First, I made clear that my previous offer to allow an up-down vote on one of the four most controversial nominees remains on the table.

    Second, I suggested that we consider changing the rules in accordance with the rules - if the Majority Leader were to put his proposal in the form of a Senate resolution and allow it to be referred to the Rules Committee, Democrats would take his proposal seriously and expedite its consideration.

    Neither of these good faith suggestions has been accepted, and it's clear why. Republicans in the Senate demand to have it all. A 95% confirmation rate isn't good enough. Votes on some of the most controversial nominees isn't good enough. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve total victory.

    Meanwhile, the White House appears to be pulling the strings.

    Several weeks ago the President assured me that he would play no role in this debate. Shortly after that, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove was quoted as discouraging any middle ground. Then Vice President Cheney gave a speech in which he encouraged the nuclear option. On Friday the Washington Times said that White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan "flatly rejected any talk of a compromise that would confirm only some of the president's seven blocked nominees."

    It's disturbing that the White House is playing an aggressive role to discourage compromise. Every high school student in America learns about checks and balances. The Senate's Advice and Consent role is one of the most important checks on executive power. The White House should not be lobbying to change Senate rules in a way that would hand dangerous new powers to the President over two separate branches - the Congress and the Judiciary.

    Of course the President would like the power to name anyone he wants to lifetime seats on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. But that's not how America works. The Constitution doesn't give him that power, and we should not cede that power to the Executive Branch.

    As the Majority Leader admitted during his debate with Senator Byrd last week, there is no constitutional right to an up-down vote on judicial nominees. If there were, more than 60 of President Clinton's nominees had their rights violated.

    In fact, the Senate has rejected hundreds of judicial nominations over the years, some by up-down votes, some by filibuster, and some by simple inaction. In each case, the Senate was acting within its authority under the Advice and Consent Clause of the Constitution.

    Senator Frist says he wants a Fairness Rule, but a rule allowing the President to ram extreme judges through the Senate is unfair to the American people.

    Meanwhile, we need to get back to the people's business, and put the people over partisanship. We were sent here to govern, and right now we're not doing that. Gas prices are up, families have lost health insurance, pension plans are unstable, and the situation in Iraq is grave. The Senate is fiddling, while Rome is burning.

    I will continue talking to the Majority Leader, and I know other efforts at compromise are under consideration. But unless cooler heads prevail, this confrontation will be upon us later this week.

    And if it comes to a vote, Democrats and responsible Republicans will vote to preserve checks and balances, and preserve the principle that the Senate rules must not be broken.

    The eyes of the Nation are upon the Senate. There have been few moments of truth like this one. The American people will see whether the Senate passes this historic test.

    The seven wavering Republican Senators are Collins, DeWine, Hagel, Murkowski, Roberts, Specter, and Warner.

    We can call toll-free at 877-762-8762 & just ask to be connected to any senator.

    16 May 2005

    Newsweek and how the pentagon is in damage control

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    Sources at the pentagon are covering up their story rather than protecting our vulnerable troops and our country. Newsweek explains...
    "On Saturday, Isikoff spoke to his original source, the senior government official, who said that he clearly recalled reading investigative reports about mishandling the Qur'an, including a toilet incident. But the official, still speaking anonymously, could no longer be sure that these concerns had surfaced in the SouthCom report."

    So there was no retraction. Just a small mistake or internal pressure from the Pentagon was admitted.
    Check out the discussion here.

    The actions of this government are absolutely detestable. The shame of being American is growing at alarming rates.

    It's funny; bushCo claims he acted based on "faulty information" and "bad intelligence" - the exact errors he is now accusing Newsweek of. However, as a result of Bush's actions, 1,600 service men and women are dead, as are 100,000+ Iraqis. Besides does anyone really believe we haven't used the Koran as an agent for torture.

    [I hope this post is more readable please comment if it is difficult to read, thx in advance]


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