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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Local Politics

“President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.
The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.”
-Reuters, May 30, 2007

“Of course the major difference between the two would be that the South Koreans kind of like us hanging out there and preventing the North Koreans from invading. Many of the Iraqi people (including those actively trying to kill us at the moment) on the other hand would prefer it if we get the hell out as soon as humanly possible.”

“A majority of members of Iraq's parliament have signed a draft bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels. The development was a sign of a growing division between Iraq's legislators and prime minister that mirrors the widening gulf between the Bush administration and its critics in Congress.
The draft bill proposes a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some U.S. Democratic lawmakers have demanded, and would require the Iraqi government to secure parliament's approval before any further extensions of the U.N. mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2007.”
-Washington Post, May 11, 2007

“Well, that sounds like they kind of want us to go instead of stick around for the next 50 years or so.. Didn’t Fearless Leader say that he’d leave if asked?”

“President Bush said in an interview on Thursday that he would withdraw American forces from Iraq if the new government that is elected on Sunday asked him to do so, but that he expected Iraq’s first democratically elected leaders would want the troops to remain as helpers, not as occupiers.”
-New York Times, November 21, 2005

“That was back in 2005. A lot has changed since then. Maybe Fearless Leader doesn’t want to listen to the Iraqi government anymore.”

“We are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government. This is a sovereign nation. Twelve million people went to the polls to approve a constitution. It’s their government’s choice. If they were to say, leave, we would leave.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 24, 2007

“No.. That’s not it. I wonder why the Administration isn’t listening?”

“RUSSERT: But if the duly elected people's bodies, the U.S Congress and the Iraqi Parliament, say they want a troop withdrawal, that's more than a poll. Isn't that the voice of the people?

MCCAIN: As far as the Iraqi Parliament is concerned, the Iraqi government obviously doesn't feel that way there … second of all, there is a certain amount of domestic political calculations involved there in what the Iraqi ‘Parliament’ said.”
-John McCain Interview on ‘Meet the Press’, May 14, 2007

“Ah! The Iraqi government is just trying to get us to leave because of domestic politics. Nothing to worry about. As long as we can just keep ignoring the politics of the situation we can stay in Iraq for another 50 years. All we have to do is ignore their politicians asking us to leave (and the people trying to kill our troops). After all, if we left Iraq it would mean that we were allowing politics to get in the way of waging a war, and if there is one thing that Fearless Leader has been perfectly clear about it has been this...”

“You cannot tolerate in a society the ability of people to take innocent life to achieve political objectives.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 11, 2007

“No, no, no.. Not that one. The one where he said that politics should stay out of fighting a war.”

"I learned some good lessons from Vietnam. First, there must be a clear mission. Secondly, the politics ought to stay out of fighting a war. There was too much politics during the Vietnam War. There was too much concern in the White House about political standing.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 13, 2002

“Yes that one! We all know that Fearless Leader would never let Iraqi politics get in the way of His war.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: What's On the Table?

“Consumers face little risk from eating pork, chicken and eggs from farm animals that ate feed mixed with pet food scraps contaminated by an industrial chemical, government scientists said Monday.
“Mixing in material contaminated at low levels diluted it such that humans who eat the animals won’t be harmed, the scientists said.
Melamine, used to make plastics, and the related compounds contaminated pet food that either sickened or killed an unknown number of dogs and cats. Scraps left over from the manufacture of that dog and cat food was sold for use in animal feed before the pet food was known to be tainted and recalled from store shelves.”
-Associated Press, May 7, 2007

“Oh that is such old news.. I mean, why would you worry about a little contamination? The unnamed government scientists say that it is safe, and if the government says so, then that is good enough for me. I know how seriously they take food safety.”

“The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.”
-Associated Press, May 29, 2007

“In the words of John Stewart… Whaaaaaa?”

“The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.
Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.
A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal -- effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out.”
-Associated Press, May 29, 2007

“The Agriculture Department is, get this, stopping meat from being tested. Wow. That shows some serious brass ones. They want to block the testing because the big beef companies fear that they might ‘have to’ do it also if Creekstone does it. You know, like they have a gun to their head. I think what they really mean is that testing is expensive, and testing would either (a) cost them a little extra if they do it, or (b) cost them part of their market share if they don’t do it. Either way it kind of sounds like something that the conservatives usually call the ‘free market’ and rigorously defend. Odd that this is such a big deal.”

“Although the Agriculture Department confirmed Friday that a cow that died last year was infected with mad cow disease, a test the agency conducted seven months ago indicated that the animal had the disease. The result was never publicly disclosed.
The delay in confirming the United States' second case of mad cow disease seems to underscore what critics of the agency have said for a long time: that there are serious and systemic problems in the way the Agriculture Department tests animals for mad cow.”
-New York Times, June 26, 2005

“It isn’t like the topic hasn’t come up before. The reaction was the same.. testing the beef makes the Beef Association very, very nervous.”

“The nation's mad cow testing system is now infuriating both ranchers and consumers. Consumer lobbyists say the flawed results show once again that 15 years of testing has been dangerously inadequate. And now the beef lobby, which has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Agriculture Department, is complaining that the testing system is dangerously unpredictable.
Jim McAdams, president of the 25,000-member National Cattlemen's Beef Association, has complained that unexpected testing creates ‘great anxiety within our industry,’ and leads to ‘significant losses.’"
-New York Times, June 26, 2005

“Still, this is the United States. We spend billions a week to keep troops in a war zone so that terrorists will shoot at them instead of us. Do you really think that if there was anything that could possibly keep the public safe that we wouldn’t do?”

“Other countries use food-safety standards: Japan tests every cow, Europe tests about one in four.
The United States instead uses statistical models that it says will let a few tests detect the infection even in one cow in a million. It now tests one in 90; when the first mad cow case was found in 2003, it was testing one in 1,700.
With its statistical logic under regular attack, the United States has increased the number of tests to 388,000 in the past year, from 40 in 1990. But until recently, Mr. [Secretary of Agriculture] Johanns was discussing cutting back to 40,000 tests.”
-New York Times, June 26, 2005

“Don’t worry.. You’re safe I tell you. Testing food really isn’t necessary.”

“The Windom-based meat company linked to an E. coli outbreak in the Twin Cities is recalling 117,500 pounds of beef shipped to eight states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Health officials have said it appears that tainted ground beef from Lunds or Byerly’s stores sickened seven people, including three who had to be hospitalized before they recovered.
The USDA notice late Thursday said PM Beef Holdings LLC of Windom is voluntarily recalling the beef trim products that were sent to distributors and retailers in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.”
-St. Cloud Times, May 12, 2007

“A meat company is voluntarily recalling about nearly 130,000 pounds of beef products in 15 states due to possible contamination with E coli, according to an alert issued May 11 by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The affected beef products produced between March 1 and April 30 by Davis Creek Meats and Seafood, based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, were shipped to foodservice distribution centers and Marketplace stores in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.”
-Foodconsumer.org, May 17, 2007

“Oh sure, E coli may be a big deal, but see.. they test for that. The system works.”

“Brucellosis has been confirmed in a herd of beef near Bridger, Montana. State animal health officials say the outbreak affects seven cows traced to a ranch in Bridger, a small town south of Laurel and far from any Yellowstone bison. Some of the infected cattle might have spent time in the Emigrant area in Paradise Valley, about 25 miles from the park's northern boundary.

Since 1985, the state's beef herds have been certified as free of the disease, which causes cattle to abort their first calf after infection.
One infected herd does not mean the entire state loses its brucellosis-free status. But if a second herd tests positive, every rancher in Montana will face expensive testing and time-consuming restrictions when exporting cattle.”
-USAgNet, May 22, 2007

“Montana ranchers get to keep their brucellosis-free status for now, although the state remains in danger of losing the favored rating as the federal and state investigation continues.

Final tests Wednesday showed that 190 cattle on the Bruce Malcolm ranch near Emigrant were clean of brucellosis even though several of the seven Montana cows found carrying the disease came from this herd.
‘It means that this place up here is free from brucellosis. No reactors. No positive ones. Every animal we have is negative,’ said Malcolm, who also serves as a Republican state representative from Emigrant.
Over the past few years, Malcolm has shipped some of his cattle to his daughter and son-in-law's ranch near Bridger, including a few of the cows that tested positive. The Bridger herd has been quarantined and investigators are focusing next on testing cattle in the Bridger area that may have been in contact with the Malcolm family cattle during the past two years.”
-Billings Gazette, May 23, 2007

“Well if the Republican state representative who owned some of the infected cows says that they are safe, well, that’s good enough for me. Why would he lie?
I gave up eating mammal this year, so no beef for me, but all of you can jump right in. I’m sure it will be fine. After all, when has the Administration ever let us down?”

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future

"I have tried to discourage my Republican colleagues from saying that September is some kind of seminal moment. I am aware the American people are frustrated. I share that frustration. I don't think the American people are aware of the consequences of failure."
-Sen. John McCain, May 27, 2007

“Don’t look to September as being anything except another date to extend the war in Iraq. As a matter of fact, things may become worse as we ratchet up the heat against the terrorists. To expect to see results by the Fall would be foolish.”

“Look, I think, I think by the end of this year we will see some signs of success, how significant those will be.”
-Sen. John McCain, May 13, 2007

“Well, I guess we can expect to see some success after all. What I meant to say was that we can’t expect to really see for some months whether or not the new ‘surge’ tactic is working.”

“McCain, a decorated Vietnam veteran who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war, said he hopes Americans will be patient and give the new Iraq strategy, led by Gen. David Petraeus, an opportunity to succeed. He said it should be clear within ‘some months’ whether the plan is working.”
-Seattle Times, February 23, 2007

“Um.. Sorry.. What I REALLY meant to say is that, though we will be able to see if the plan is working in some months (from February.. That would be.. um.. now), it isn’t like we’re going to win this war or lose it any time soon. This is a long, hard war, and it may take a few years to fix the problems we have created.”

“And, look, if you talk to most military experts, we’re in a critical and crucial time. We’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months.”
-Sen. John McCain, November 12, 2006

“John.. Really, you are making this tough on me. I keep trying to justify what you say, but that last Quote was from last November. I think that we already passed the ‘next several months’, and now you are saying that we won’t even know how we are doing until next winter. Are you even paying attention to what is happening over there?”

“Iraqis are clamoring to get out of Iraq. Two million have fled so far and nearly two million more have been displaced within the country. (That’s a total of some 15 percent of the population.) Save the Children reported this month that Iraq’s child-survival rate is falling faster than any other nation’s. One Iraqi in eight is killed by illness or violence by the age of 5. Yet for all the words President Bush has lavished on Darfur and AIDS in Africa, there has been a deadly silence from him about what’s happening in the country he gave ‘God’s gift of freedom’.”
-Frank Rich, New York Times, May 27, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Iran So Far Away

“President Bush said Thursday he would work with allies to beef up sanctions on Iran after a new U.N. report said Tehran is accelerating its uranium enrichment program in defiance of international demands.
‘We need to strengthen our sanctions regime,’ Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference. Leaders of Iran ‘continue to be defiant as to the demands of the free world,’ he said.
The president said he had directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to work with European partners to ‘develop further sanctions.’”
-MSNBC, May 24, 2007

“Thank goodness Fearless Leader has stepped away from rhetoric like this…”

“In interviews, two senior administration officials separately compared the Tehran government to the Nazis and the Guard to the ‘SS.’ They also referred to Guard members as ‘terrorists.’ Such a formal designation could turn Iran's military into a target of what Bush calls a ‘war on terror,’ with its members potentially held as enemy combatants or in secret CIA detention.”
-Washington Post, January 26, 2007

“…and towards a more rational way of looking at the situation, like sanctions. I mean, let’s face it, sanctions were working pretty darn well against Saddam. Under sanctions he was unable to restart his nuclear or chemical weapons programs (not that it stopped us from invading). Sanctions have the advantage of working against a nation without creating a failed state lacking a working government at all.”

“We have passed one Security Council resolution, demanding that Iran cease its enrichment activities. We will see what the response is. We're beginning to get some indication, but we'll wait until they have a formal response. The U.N. resolution calls for us to come back together on the 31st of August. The dates -- dates are fine, but what really matters is will. And one of the things I will continue to remind our friends and allies is the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
But, no, you're right, this is a -- they're a central part of creating instability, trying to stop reformers from realizing dreams. And the question facing this country is, will -- do we, one, understand the threat to America? In other words, do we understand that a failed -- failed states in the Middle East are a direct threat to our country's security? And secondly, will we continue to stay engaged in helping reformers, in working to advance liberty, to defeat an ideology that doesn't believe in freedom?”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, August 21, 2006

“See? We don’t want to create a failed state in the Middle East. Oops, I mean ANOTHER failed state in the Middle East. We want to work with reformers and try to bring these nations around, not try to destabilize the governments in power there.”

“The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a ‘nonlethal presidential finding’ that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.”
-ABC News, May 22, 2007

“Um.. I guess we do want ‘regime change’ in Iran after all. You know, Iran is much larger than Iraq, and, up until we put them on the Axis of Evil, they were on the path of becoming one of the more progressive nations in the region. Of course when we called them ‘evil’ the hard-liners in Iran took that as a sign that they were under attack and used that excuse to gain more power (stop me if this sounds familiar). Now we are apparently trying to create chaos there too. Hopefully, with Fearless Leader’s help, Iran can become the success story that Iraq has become.”

“From the beginning of May until Tuesday, 321 unidentified corpses, many dumped and showing signs of torture and execution, have been found across the Iraqi capital, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The data showed that the same number of bodies were found in all of January, the month before the launch of the Baghdad security plan.”
-Washington Post, May 23, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Farming the Land

“One of the world’s worst refugee problems is one you've heard little about. Every month, while Americans debate their options in Iraq and whether the troop surge might reduce sectarian violence by the fall, another 30,000 to 50,000 terrorized Iraqis flee their homes.
Of a population of about 27 million, at least 1.9 million are now internally displaced; another 2 million have sought refuge abroad, mostly in Jordan and Syria but also in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.”
-Editorial, LA Times, May 20, 2007

“All these displaced people! I’ll bet that a lot of it has to do with the sky-high unemployment rate in Iraq (well, that and the murder rate). I wish we could find these people something to do.. Something to bring in a little cash and stabilize the economic system.”

“Farmers in southern Iraq have started to grow opium poppies in their fields for the first time, sparking fears that Iraq might become a serious drugs producer along the lines of Afghanistan.

Rice farmers along the Euphrates, to the west of the city of Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, have stopped cultivating rice, for which the area is famous, and are instead planting poppies, Iraqi sources familiar with the area have told The Independent.
The shift to opium cultivation is still in its early stages but there is little the Iraqi government can do about it because rival Shia militias and their surrogates in the security forces control Diwaniya and its neighbourhood. There have been bloody clashes between militiamen, police, Iraqi army and US forces in the city over the past two months.”
-The Independent (UK), May 23, 2007

“Hey! Farming! Why didn’t I think of that? A good cash crop too. Pretty soon they’ll be able to support themselves the same way that they do in Afghanistan.”

“Profits from Afghanistan's thriving poppy fields are increasingly flowing to Taliban fighters, leading U.S. and NATO officials to conclude that the counterinsurgency mission must now include stepped-up anti-drug efforts.

This year's heroin-producing poppy crop will at least match last year's record haul and could exceed it by up to 20 percent, officials say, meaning more money to fuel the Taliban's violent insurgency.
Military commanders who viewed drugs as a minor irritant in 2002, when poppy production was much lower, have reassessed the importance of the vast fields of red and white poppies their soldiers drive past in security convoys, said a Western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't want to be seen as criticizing the military.

It's too early to say definitively what this year's crop will be. But another Western official with knowledge of the drug trade said it could exceed last year's record 407,000 acres by as much as 20 percent. The official declined to give his name.”
-Associated Press, May 22, 2007

“This money will be good for the small farmers in Iraq. You know, the salt of the earth kind of narcotics dealer. Trust me, the insurgency doesn’t need the cash.”

“The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by ‘corrupt and complicit’ Iraqi officials.
As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments - previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy - paid $30 million in ransom last year.”
-New York Times, November 26, 2006

“Thank goodness for the War on Terror. I feel so much safer.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: A Change of Strategery

“President Bush and his senior military and foreign policy advisers are beginning to discuss a ‘post-surge’ strategy for Iraq that they hope could gain bipartisan political support. The new policy would focus on training and advising Iraqi troops rather than the broader goal of achieving a political reconciliation in Iraq, which senior officials recognize may be unachievable within the time available.
The revamped policy, as outlined by senior administration officials, would be premised on the idea that, as the current surge of U.S. troops succeeds in reducing sectarian violence, America's role will be increasingly to help prepare the Iraqi military to take greater responsibility for securing the country.”
-David Ignatius, Washington Post, May 22, 2007

“Whoo hoo! Fearless Leader is coming up with a new plan, and it is a great one! Instead of focusing on taking out all of the insurgents ourselves, we’re going to focus on training Iraqi forces to fight them. This is a new, and exciting, development.”

“US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.
The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces.”
-BBC News, January 2, 2007

“..except that it is, of course, the exact same strategy that we were using before the surge started. Doesn’t anyone else remember this?”

“President Bush began 2006 assuring the country that he had a ‘strategy for victory in Iraq.’ He ended the year closeted with his war cabinet on his ranch trying to devise a new strategy, because the existing one had collapsed.
The original plan, championed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Baghdad, and backed by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, called for turning over responsibility for security to the Iraqis, shrinking the number of American bases and beginning the gradual withdrawal of American troops. But the plan collided with Iraq’s ferocious unraveling, which took most of Mr. Bush’s war council by surprise.”
-New York Times, January 2, 2006

“It seems like when the surge ends we’re going to be caught in a situation that is at least as bad as it was before the surge.. just with more dead soldiers to show for it. Luckily the word ‘surge’ means something different in the White House than it does in most of so-called ‘reality’.”

“Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.
But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.
The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.”
-Washington Post, December 19, 2006

“Six to eight months.. Sounds like a fair amount of time, especially considering that this comment..”

“My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended…In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 1, 2003

“…happened less than two months from the beginning of the war. In other words the ‘surge’ was to last three to four times as long as the ‘major combat operations’. Seems like plenty of time to get the situation under control.”

“The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush’s top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.
In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year. ”
-New York Times, April 27, 2007

“…except that they are now saying that six to eight months won’t even be enough time to see if the surge is ‘producing signs of political progress’. Maybe they need more troops to get the work done..”

“The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.
This ‘second surge’ of troops in Iraq, which is being executed by extending tours for brigades already there and by deploying more units, could boost the number of combat troops to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year. When support troops are included, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq could increase from 162,000 now to more than 200,000 -- the most ever -- by the end of the year.
The efforts to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq are being carried out without the fanfare that accompanied President Bush's initial troop surge in January.”
-Hearst Newspapers, May 21, 2007

“That’s it! If we just put more troops on the ground (again) and leave them there longer, we’ll finally be able to go back to the tactics that we were using before the surge began. Sweet, sweet progress.”

“We’re not going to lose in Iraq. As a matter of fact, we will win in Iraq so long as we stay the course.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, July 11, 2006

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Alberto.. Again

"’He has done nothing wrong,’ Bush said in an impassioned defense of his longtime friend and adviser during a news conference at his Texas ranch.

Despite Bush's comments, support for Gonzales is eroding, even in the president's own party. The Senate is prepared to hold a no-confidence vote, possibly by week's end, and five Republican senators have joined many Democrats in calling for Gonzales' resignation.
The attorney general is under investigation by Congress in last year's firing of eight federal prosecutors. The president told the Democrats to get back to more pressing matters.
‘I stand by Al Gonzales, and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues,’ Bush said. ‘And they ought to get the job done of passing legislation, as opposed to figuring out how to be actors on the political theater stage.’"
-Associated Press, May 21, 2007

“Ah yes.. Fearless Leader using the word ‘sober’ and accusing politicians of being political… Ah, I love the smell of irony in the morning. Alberto Gonzales is always good for a few morning Quotes. Let’s look at how he’s been keeping himself busy (when not testifying as part of an ever-increasing scandal).”

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is pressing the U.S. Congress to enact a sweeping intellectual-property bill that would increase criminal penalties for copyright infringement, including ‘attempts’ to commit piracy.”
-CNet, May 15, 2007

“So owning Limewire or Kazaa will probably be illegal soon, as they will probably be seen as ‘attempts’ to commit piracy.”

“Permit more wiretaps for piracy investigations. Wiretaps would be authorized for investigations of Americans who are ‘attempting’ to infringe copyrights.”
-CNet, May 15, 2007

“Hmm? Oh sure, they’ll increase the government spying on people. If you have BitTorrent they’ll be allowed to tap your phone. You have a problem with this?”

“Allow computers to be seized more readily. Specifically, property such as a PC ‘intended to be used in any manner’ to commit a copyright crime would be subject to forfeiture, including civil asset forfeiture.”
-CNet, May 15, 2007

“And then they’ll be allowed to just take your computer, even if you actually did nothing illegal with it. I mean, if you INTENDED to use it to watch a bootleg video, that’s good enough for Alberto Gonzales. Still, Alberto, despite the scandals with the fired attorneys and his basic, kind of glaring, incompetence, manages to hold onto the only opinion that really matters.”

“Now, you asked about Alberto Gonzales. He has got my confidence.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 21, 2007

“And that is good enough for me. If there was any thought that something inappropriate was up you know Fearless Leader would be getting to the bottom of it.”

“President Bush said Tuesday he welcomes a Justice Department investigation into who revealed the classified identity of a CIA operative.
‘If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,’ Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. ‘If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of. ‘”
-CNN, February 11, 2004

“President Bush appeared to backtrack Monday from his 2004 pledge to fire anyone involved in leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.”
-CNN, July 19, 2005

“Dang. Guess I’m wrong. Seems like Fearless Leader just shields criminals in his Administration from any kind of responsibility or repercussions of their actions. You’ll have to excuse my language, but it takes a lot of balls to do stand up in the face of public opinion like that.”

“We talked about enlargement -- we're looking forward to going to the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest to talk about enlargement.”
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 21, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: The Mystery of the Fired U.S. Attorneys

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday he relied heavily on his deputy to oversee the firings of U.S. attorneys, appearing to distance himself from his departing second-in-command.
Gonzales' comments came the day after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said he would step down by the end of summer, a decision that people familiar with his plans said was hastened by the controversy over last year's firings of nine U.S. attorneys, including Seattle's John McKay.
‘At the end of the day, the recommendations reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names,’ Gonzales told reporters after a speech about Justice Department steps to curb rising violent crime.”
-Associated Press, May 16, 2007

“Good news everyone! The ‘Mystery of the Fired U.S. Attorneys’ has been solved. Apparently it was Old Man McNulty. And he’d have gotten away with it to if it weren’t for that blasted Congress. Well, the story is over. Please go watch something else now..”

“The Justice Department considered dismissing many more U.S. attorneys than officials have previously acknowledged, with at least 26 prosecutors suggested for termination between February 2005 and December 2006, according to sources familiar with documents withheld from the public.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified last week that the effort was limited to eight U.S. attorneys fired since last June, and other administration officials have said that only a few others were suggested for removal.
In fact, D. Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales's chief of staff, considered more than two dozen U.S. attorneys for termination, according to lists compiled by him and his colleagues, the sources said.
They amounted to more than a quarter of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys. Thirteen of those known to have been targeted are still in their posts.”
-Washington Post, May 17, 2007

“I said that this story is over. Stop paying attention.”

“The Justice Department on Wednesday told an angry Senate Judiciary Committee chairman it does not have documents described in a subpoena that demands all materials relating to Karl Rove's possible involvement in the U.S. attorney firings.
Instead, it said, Rove's lawyer must have them. Rove is the chief political adviser for President Bush.
The response from a top Justice Department official came just hours after the chairman, Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chastised Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in a letter for ignoring the subpoena's Tuesday deadline.
‘You ignored the subpoena, did not come forward today, did not produce the documents, and did not even offer an explanation for your noncompliance,’ the two senators wrote in the letter, sent Tuesday night.
‘The committee intends to get to the truth.’
A top Justice Department official responded Wednesday, saying a further Justice Department search yielded only two documents -- internal communications sent to Rove and others about a planned news conference in New Mexico by dismissed U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.
The newly released memo shows that Rove aide Scott Jennings was concerned about allegations Iglesias was politically pressured to resign.
Jennings told Rove and others he doubted ‘they can make an allegation such as this go away so easily.’
In the subpoena, Leahy had demanded all documents in the possession of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who investigated Rove in connection with the disclosure of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
But Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling, Gonzales' top link to Congress, told Leahy a search was conducted and turned up nothing.”
-CNN, May 17, 2007

“You don’t understand. The Justice Department doesn’t have to supply that information any more. Didn’t you hear? It was Paul McNulty, and he stepped down, so the story is over. Stop looking into this stuff.”

“McNulty does not plan to leave until later this summer, which means he remains in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Department while having one foot out the door and congressional investigations still at full throttle.

Monica Goodling, the former counsel to Gonzales who resigned her post and invoked her Fifth Amendment protections, has accused McNulty of trying to blame her for the inaccurate testimony provided to Congress. Goodling has been granted immunity and is expected to testify before Congress as early as next week; friends say Goodling is eager to tell her side of the story.”
-CBS News, May 16, 2007

“No, no, no.. No more testimony. This case has been solved. McNulty may not be gone yet, but he will be. Honest. Quit investigating!”

“Gonzales appeared to have weathered the storm in recent weeks, insisting with White House support at two congressional hearings that the firings were justified though mishandled.
But he faced a new criticism this week after a former aide testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey said while White House counsel in 2004, Gonzales paid a hospital visit to the seriously ill John Ashcroft, then attorney general, in a failed bid to pressure him to set aside concerns by his own Justice Department and reauthorize Bush's domestic spying program.”
-Reuters, May 18, 2007

“Hey.. Would you cut it out? You’re making Gonzales look bad, and I already told you that this is all McNulty’s fault. You’re making it look like they were trying to take advantage of John Ashcroft while he was wiped out on pain killers in the hospital. I’m telling you, this is all about McNulty. It doesn’t go any higher than him. It doesn’t go to Gonzales, and there is certainly no scandal involving Fearless Leader.”

“Eroding Gonzales' support was the revelation that in 2004 Gonzales, as White House counsel, went to a hospital and pressured then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to certify the legality of Bush's controversial eavesdropping program while Ashcroft lay in intensive care.
Ashcroft had reservations about the program's legality and refused, according to Senate testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey
Asked twice during a news conference Thursday whether he personally ordered Gonzales to Ashcroft's hospital room, Bush refused to answer.”

-Associated Press, May 18, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Options on the Table

“Paul Wolfowitz resigned as president of the World Bank on Thursday, ending a protracted battle over his stewardship prompted by his involvement in a high-paying promotion for his companion.”
-Reuters, May 18, 2007

“Wolfie is quitting? Why Wolfie, why? You were weathering this all so well.. Ok, not so well, but at least as well as Alberto, and God knows that he’s not going anywhere no matter what he does.”

“The Bush administration softened its support for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz Tuesday, signaling a willingness to replace him if the bank's executive board does not fire him and accepts some blame for the ethics controversy engulfing the institution.
‘All options are on the table,’ said White House spokesman Tony Snow. ‘Members of the board (and) Mr. Wolfowitz need to sit down and figure out what is in fact going to be best for this bank.’"
-Washington Post, May 16, 2007

“Aaaaah! They were going to attack the World Bank! That has to be what they were saying! I recognize the language.”

Q: The Pentagon is calling for the development of
low-yield nuclear weapons that could be used against China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Russia, and Syria. Can you explain why the United States is considering this new policy, and how it might figure into the war on terrorism?
THE PRESIDENT: I presume you're referring to the nuclear review that was recently in the press. Well, first of all, the nuclear review is not new. It's gone on for previous administrations. Secondly, the reason we have a nuclear arsenal that I hope is modern, upgraded, and can work, is to deter any attack on America. The reason one has a nuclear arsenal is to serve as a deterrence.
Secondly, ours is an administration that's committed to reducing the amount of warheads, and we're in consultations now with the Russians on such a -- on this matter. We've both agreed to reduce our warheads down to 1,700 to 2,200. I talked with Sergey Ivanov yesterday, the Minister of Defense from Russia, on this very subject.
I think one of the interesting points that we need to develop and fully explore is how best to verify what's taking place, to make sure that there's confidence in both countries. But I'm committed to reducing the amount of nuclear weaponry and reducing the number of nuclear warheads. I think it's the right policy for America, and I know we can continue to do so and still keep a deterrence.
Q: Why a policy, though, that might go after a country like Libya or Syria?
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, we've got all options on the table, because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us, or our allies or friends.
-Press Conference with George ‘Dubya’ Bush, March 13, 2002

“In a stern warning to Iran, President Bush said ‘all options are on the table’ if the Iranians refuse to comply with international demands to halt their nuclear program, pointedly noting he has already used force to protect U.S. security.”
-Associated Press, August 13, 2005

“If the World Bank didn’t suck it up and accept some blame here for Wolfie cheating the system, well, that’s a nice bank you’ve got there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

“Wolfowitz and the Bush administration were seeking a face-saving deal with the board that would allow him to resign under his own terms and escape some blame for the furor involving his girlfriend’s compensation.
Behind the scenes negotiations took place on Wednesday for an exit package for Wolfowitz, but they failed to produce a resolution. Wolfowitz and his attorney, Robert Bennett, has said repeatedly that Wolfowitz won’t resign with a cloud of what they believe are unfair charges hanging over him.”
-Associated Press, May 17, 2007

“Dang straight! Wolfie should not be resigning with that kind of thing hanging over his head. He should be resigning with this kind of thing hanging over his head..”

“There are other differences that suggest that peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than our historical experience in the Balkans suggest. There has been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia.”
-Paul Wolfowitz, February 27, 2003

"There's a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."
-Paul Wolfowitz, March 27, 2003

“.. or maybe he should be remembered for his intense concern regarding weapons of mass destruction..”

“Disarming Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons and dismantling its nuclear weapons program is a crucial part of winning the War on Terror.”
-Paul Wolfowitz, January 23, 2003

“..or his lack of concern regarding weapons of mass destruction.”

“I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction.”
-Paul Wolfowitz, July 21, 2003

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction [as justification for invading Iraq] because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”
-Paul Wolfowitz in Vanity Fair interview, May 28, 2003

“Either way the World Bank should remember this.. Screwing with people who know where the bodies are buried in the Administration is not a wise thing to do.. They aren’t backing down on Alberto ‘Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges’ Gonzales, and he lied to Congress.
You have made the Administration look foolish… If I was on the board of the World Bank I’d be sleeping with one eye open.”

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Happily Ignorant

“Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.”
-Laura Bush, February 26, 2007

“Dear God! It is going so well, but seeing that one bombing a day makes it look so much worse. I wish we could fix that problem.”

“Iraq's interior ministry has decided to bar news photographers and camera operators from the scenes of bomb attacks, operations director Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said on Sunday (local time).
His announcement was the latest in a series of attempts to curtail press coverage of the ongoing conflict, which has already attracted criticism from international human rights bodies.
‘There are many reasons for this prohibition,’ he said.
‘We do not want evidence to be disturbed before the arrival of detectives, the ministry must respect human rights and does not want to expose victims and does not want to give terrorists information that they achieved their goals.
‘This decision does not imply a curtailment of press freedom, it is a measure followed all over the world.’"
-AFP, May 13, 2007

“Ah.. Much better. As long as we can’t see the bombings we can live happy and ignorant, just like the First Lady.
Speaking of happily ignorant, have you heard that we have someone new in charge of the wars?” -Skippy

"I hear the voices. And I read the front page. And I know the speculation. But I'm the decider. And I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 18, 2006

“No.. The Decider has decided to abdicate his control over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to someone new. Someone who can get things done.”

“In selecting Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute to manage the war in Iraq, President Bush has chosen a soldier who believes there is no purely military solution to the conflict and wants to forge a political accommodation among Iraqi factions that may fall short of full reconciliation but could lead to an exit strategy, according to friends and colleagues.
Lute's appointment shifts the balance within Bush's war council by adding a powerful voice who resisted sending more U.S. troops to Iraq and plans to pressure civilian agencies to take on a greater role. Lute promised Bush that he will do everything he can to make the buildup succeed despite his reservations, but he may be more open to arguments for a withdrawal should it fail, the colleagues said.”
-Washington Post, May 17, 2007

“Lt. General Lute, a three star general who will be telling four star generals what to do despite having only minimal authority and no real power in the chain of command.. Hmm.. I smell success in the air. How do we know that he will be effective?”

“Q: Tony, to coordinate and facilitate is great, but doesn't he also need some kind of power to jerk chains, light fires, to actually get things done among competing and sometimes jealous agency turf battles? Will the General be given any special powers? Or what will the administration do to facilitate his authority?
MR. SNOW: I think when you have somebody calling who is an Assistant to the President, dealing directly on -- first, let me step back. The members of the President's Cabinet are committed to the success of these things. Those certainly can serve as points of contact; they are the ones who are going to be responsible for making sure that their departments and agencies function properly. He's going to have the ability to communicate with them. And at the same time, you have to be respectful of chains of command and responsibility. “
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, May 16, 2007

“Well if Tony Snow says that it will all just work out, then that is good enough for me. You know, they’ve been looking for someone to take this job for a while now. I wonder why none of those retired four-star generals were willing to step up and come back in to help out?”

“The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.
At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.
‘The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going,’ said retired Marine Gen. John J. ‘Jack’ Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job.”
-Washington Post, April 11, 2007

“Oh.. With all of the retired four-star generals turning the job down, I wonder why they chose an active three-star general?”

“See who we've got here tonight. General Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They still support Rumsfeld. Right? You guys aren't retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld.”
-Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Dinner, April 29, 2006

“That’s right! I’d completely forgotten that active military members fall under the chain of command and thus have to do what Fearless Leader in Chief wants them to do, like it or not. Don’t worry though, I’m sure that he’s 110% behind the surge and that everything will work out just fine.”

“The US is expected to pull significant numbers of troops out of Iraq in the next 12 months in spite of the continuing violence, according to the general responsible for near-term planning in the country.
Maj Gen Douglas Lute, director of operations at US Central Command, yesterday said the reductions were part of a push by Gen John Abizaid, commander of all US troops in the region, to put the burden of defending Iraq on Iraqi forces.
He denied the withdrawal was motivated by political pressure from Washington.
He said: ‘We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the . . . coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward.
‘You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country.’”
-Financial Times, August 24, 2005

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Tinky Winky Mourns

“Sad news everyone.. Fearless Leader has lost one of his biggest supporters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Rev. Falwell was one of those old-time religion style preachers (assuming you consider the Inquisition to be ‘old time religion’) and I am sure that the Administration will miss his warm words of encouragement.”

"But you've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord."

-Jerry Falwell, October 24, 2004

"I think [the war] is going well. CNN doesn't always get it right, but it goes pretty well if you watch it on FOX."

-Jerry Falwell, December 2, 2004

“Other people might not miss him so much..”

“The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say: you helped this happen.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell on 9/11, September 13, 2001

“The Rev. Falwell kind of went out of his way to make enemies.. Let’s see.. Religion?”

"I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and non-Muslims, (to know) that he was a violent man, a man of war."
-Rev. Jerry Falwell, October 6, 2002

"If he's going to be the counterfeit of Christ, he has to be Jewish. The only thing we know is he must be male and Jewish."

-Jerry Falwell commenting on the anti-Christ, January 1999

“Check. Those who believe in a secular government and the Constitution?”

“There is no separation of church and state. Modern US Supreme Courts have raped the Constitution and raped the Christian faith and raped the churches by misinterpreting what the Founders had in mind in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

“The ACLU is to Christians what the American Nazi party is to Jews.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

“We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today ... our battle is with Satan himself.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."

-Jerry Falwell, July 4, 1976

“Check. Women?”

“I listen to feminists and all these radical gals - most of them are failures. They've blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That's all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they're mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They're sexist. They hate men - that's their problem.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

“Check. Homosexuals?”

"Most of these feminists are radical, frustrated lesbians, many of them, and man-haters, and failures in their relationships with men, and who have declared war on the male gender. The Biblical condemnation of feminism has to do with its radical philosophy and goals. That's the bottom line."

-Rev. Jerry Falwell

“AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah's chariotters.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell

"Someone must not be afraid to say, 'moral perversion is wrong.' If we do not act now, homosexuals will 'own' America!...If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way...and our nation will pay a terrible price!"

-Jerry Falwell quoted in People for the American Way's, "Hostile Climate," 1997, p.15

"Well the fact that he's a gay Republican means he should join the Democratic party."
-Rev. Jerry Falwell on Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives, November 28, 2004

“Check.. But I was brought up not to speak badly of the dead, so I will just leave on the Rev. Falwell’s own words.”

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”
-Rev. Jerry Falwell, May 17, 1997

"I may be an idiot, but I'm not a pedophile."

-Rev. Jerry Falwell, June 12, 2002

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Oil Laws are the King's Laws

“You've said the Iraqis haven't met any obligations; I would disagree with your characterization. They have said that they will send Iraqi forces into Baghdad to take the lead, along with U.S. troops, to bring security to Baghdad, and they've done that. They said they'd name a commander for Baghdad; they have done that. They said they'd send up -- they'd send troops out into the neighborhoods to clear and hold and then build; they're doing that. They send they would send a budget up that would spend a considerable amount of their money on reconstruction; they have done that. They're working on an oil law that is in progress. “
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 3, 2007

“Ah yes.. the oil law. How’s that going?”

“Iraq's parliament should pass a new oil law and make progress on amending the constitution before the end of the month, two key ‘benchmarks’ being demanded by U.S. officials, a top Iraqi official said yesterday.”
-Washington Times, May 15, 2007

“The oil law is one of the key benchmarks we’re demanding?”

“It has not even reached parliament, but the oil law that U.S. officials call vital to ending Iraq's civil war is in serious trouble among Iraqi lawmakers, many of whom see it as a sloppy document rushed forward to satisfy Washington's clock.

Opposition ranges from vehement to measured, but two things are clear: The May deadline that the White House had been banking on is in doubt. And even if the law is passed, it fails to resolve key issues, including how to divide Iraq's oil revenue among its Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni regions, and how much foreign investment to allow. Those questions would be put off for future debates.
Iraq is believed to have some of the world's largest oil reserves, about 115 billion barrels. The country's 2007 budget is based on predictions that oil proceeds will reach $31 billion, 93% of the government's revenue.

But war and political instability have kept production down. Just before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, production was 2.6 million barrels per day. U.S. officials predicted a rapid rise to 3 million barrels. Instead, Iraq often has struggled to push the daily total to 2 million barrels because of obsolete equipment and security problems.
The oil law is supposed to change this by opening the industry to foreign investors who could modernize equipment and increase production. U.S. officials hope that spreading oil profit fairly across the country would cause instability to ebb.”
-LA Times, May 13, 2007

“Ah! We need to spread profit evenly across Iraq. I guess that means taking the revenues from the oil rich northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions and distributing it to the more central (Sunni) areas to try to bribe the insurgency. Of course there is one more group that has a little interest in the new oil law..”

“The result of this lobbying is the draft oil law before the Iraqi parliament. This could result in multinational oil companies controlling and profiting from most of the country's oilfields for up to 20 years. The first draft was written in July 2006 and was seen by Shell and other oil companies within two weeks. Members of the Iraqi parliament did not see it until eight months later, while Iraqi civil society was excluded together.”
-Jonathan Stevenson, Letter in the Guardian (UK), May 15, 2007

“Hey, the Iraq people don’t deal with oil on a daily basis. If we wanted to talk about car bombings we’d talk to them. No, this is about oil, so we went to the companies that deal with oil to talk about the new law and get input. Surely no one could complain about that.”

“To Iraq's Kurdish leadership, the issue of how to apportion the third-largest pools of oil in the world is ‘a make-or-break deal’ for the country as a whole, a top official told United Press International.
‘The oil issue for us is a red line. It will signify our participation in Iraq or not,’ Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Regional Government's representative to the United States, said in an interview from his Washington office.
‘This sets us back to square one, a point that's unacceptable to us. We're trying to modernize Iraq, build a new Iraq, built on new foundations, new policies. The symbol of this new Iraq will be how it manages its oil infrastructure,’ Talabani said. ‘And if people want to revert back to Saddam-era policies of a state-controlled oil sector with no accountability, with no accountability to the parliament or the people of the country, with no oversight except from one or two, then I'm sorry, that is not the Iraq that the Kurds bought into. That is not the Iraq that the Kurds would want to be part of.’
‘If a centralized oil regime is imposed on us, we will not participate in the state of Iraq,’ Talabani said. ‘And we have to make it absolutely clear to our friends in Washington, to our brothers in Baghdad, this is a make-or-break deal for Iraq.’"
-UPI, May 14, 2007

“Who would have thought that setting up a country could be so tough? Man, this democracy thing is a bitch to deal with some days.”

“As a matter of fact, I spoke to the Prime Minister yesterday about progress on the oil law. He reminded me that sometimes the legislature doesn't do what the executive branch wants them to do. I reminded him, I understand what he's talking about. “
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 3, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: One Standard For You, One For Me

“A majority of members of Iraq's parliament have signed a draft bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels. The development was a sign of a growing division between Iraq's legislators and prime minister that mirrors the widening gulf between the Bush administration and its critics in Congress.
The draft bill proposes a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some U.S. Democratic lawmakers have demanded, and would require the Iraqi government to secure parliament's approval before any further extensions of the U.N. mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2007.”
-Washington Post, May 11, 2007

“Um.. Wow. Apparently the U.S. Congress isn’t the only group that wants to get our troops out of Iraq. Apparently the Iraqi government wants to get us out of there too.. That seems to be pretty clear.”

“RUSSERT: But if the duly elected people's bodies, the U.S Congress and the Iraqi Parliament, say they want a troop withdrawal, that's more than a poll. Isn't that the voice of the people?

MCCAIN: As far as the Iraqi Parliament is concerned, the Iraqi government obviously doesn't feel that way there … second of all, there is a certain amount of domestic political calculations involved there in what the Iraqi ‘Parliament’ said.”
-John McCain Interview on ‘Meet the Press’, May 14, 2007

“..unless you are John McCain, who apparently feels that the Iraqi Parliament (part of the ‘democracy’ that we’ve brought to Iraq) does not have a voice in the government. Apparently Iraq just doesn’t take the War on Terror as seriously as we do.”

“A recent case suggests that the war on terror has been superseded by the war on embarrassment
A man accused of blowing up an airliner and killing 73 people, who has already admitted to bombing hotels with fatal consequences and who has a conviction for a failed assassination attempt on a head of state, was freed on a technicality in a Texas court this week, and can look forward to a quiet retirement in Florida.
In London a man accused of hacking into the computer system of the Pentagon and Nasa is waiting to see if the House of Lords will hear his appeal against extradition to the US to face a trial in which one prosecutor has already indicated he should "fry". Blowing up an airliner is clearly regarded as less serious than causing major embarrassment to the defence establishment.”
-Guardian Unlimited (UK), May 12, 2007

“Huh? We let a terrorist go? Why would we do that?”

“Cuba accused the U.S. government on Friday of violating international anti-terrorism treaties by allowing Luis Posada Carriles, a man Havana accuses of violent acts against the country, to walk free of all charges after an immigration indictment against him was dropped.
‘The U.S. government has not only violated its own laws and supposed commitment to its self-proclaimed 'War Against Terrorism,' but also to its own international obligations,’ said a government declaration published Friday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
Havana accuses Posada of orchestrating a string of 1997 Havana hotel bombings, which killed an Italian tourist, and in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people.
Venezuela is seeking to extradite Posada in the jetliner explosion, but a U.S. federal judge ruled that Posada cannot be sent there or to Cuba for fear he may be tortured.
Accusing the U.S. government of hypocrisy, the Cuban declaration noted that ‘meanwhile, it maintains a prison in part of the territory it occupies in Cuba in Guantanamo and maintains prisons in the length and breadth of the planet where the most aberrant and inhumane acts are committed.’
The Cuban government's statement said the U.S. could have continued to hold Posada under the U.S. Patriot Act, which was passed after the 2001 terror attacks on the United States, by simply declaring him a national security risk.”
-Associated Press, May 11, 2007

“Oh sweet irony. We apparently claimed that we could not send a terrorist to Cuba because he might be tortured.”

It was not until last September that President George W. Bush acknowledged the CIA use of secret prisons around the world. He said all 14 high-value terrorism suspects that the CIA had been holding, including a mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, had been transferred to military custody at Guantanamo Bay for trials.
Officials said Friday that al-Iraqi was captured well after that, but John Sifton of Human Rights Watch in New York said he was skeptical.
After Bush's announcement, ‘We thought there were others who remained in CIA custody or, if they weren't, they were temporarily being held in some sort of proxy custody by someone else,’ Sifton said.
His group says it has a list of 16 additional people who had been in CIA custody at some time and have not been accounted for.
The CIA has not commented on the list.
Soon after the capture of a major terror suspect in 2002, the CIA decided it should hold high-value captives for extended periods to extract information, using ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’
Those widely reported practices included openhanded slapping, cold, sleep deprivation and, perhaps most controversially, waterboarding. In that technique, a detainee is made to believe he is drowning.
‘The methods used in this program are thoroughly reviewed by our government to ensure that they are fully in accordance with our laws and treaty obligations,’ Gimigliano said.”
-Associated Press, April 27, 2007

“America.. We’re so rich that we can afford a second set of standards!”

Friday, May 11, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Getting Polled

“Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday told US troops in Iraq that he knows they're suffering hardships from extended deployments but the longer stays are ‘vital to the mission.’
His words were greeted with restrained applause at a rally on a US military base near Saddam Hussein's former hometown of Tikrit. On his second day in Iraq, Cheney also held classified meetings with US military leaders and emerged repeating the words of the top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, that ‘we can expect more violence’ ahead.”
-Associated Press, May 11, 2007

‘Vice-Leader Dick bravely spent the night in a war zone! I think that puts him one night past the number of that Fearless Leader has ever spent in a war zone, but I’m not certain. He was there to look over the strategy and to talk to the troops. Let’s hear what he had to say..”

"’From our perspective, we don't see much as far as gains,’ said Marine Cpl. Bradley Warren, the first to question Cheney in a round-table discussion with about 30 military members. ‘We're looking at small-picture stuff, not many gains. I was wondering what it looks like from the big side of the mountain - how Iraq's looking.’
Cheney replied that remarkable progress has been made in the last year and a half.
‘I think when we look back from 10 years hence, we'll see that the year '05 was in fact a watershed year here in Iraq,’ the vice president said. ‘We're getting the job done. It's hard to tell that from watching the news. But I guess we don't pay that much attention to the news.’"
-Associated Press, December 18, 2005

“’05? Oops.. That was from the last trip that Vice-Leader Dick made to Iraq a year and a half ago. My bad. Still, this somehow sounds familiar. What the heck, let’s just look at what he said..”

“They've had three elections this year; each one has gotten better and stronger and more effective. I do think it's serving to undermine the legitimacy of the insurgency. I think it will make it increasingly difficult for the insurgents to be effective.
And while the level of violence has continued, I do believe that when we look back on this period of time, 2005 will have been the turning point when, in fact, we made sufficient progress both on the political front and the security front so that we'll see that as the watershed year.“
-Vice-Leader “Dick” Cheney, December 18, 2005

“And we had that election in January -- first free election in Iraq in decades -- and that we will be able to look back from the perspective of time, and see that 2005 was the turning point, was the watershed year, and that establishment of a legitimate government in Iraq, which is what that whole political process is about, means the end of the insurgency, ultimately.
That's my point, that, in fact, the political process did proceed successfully, and that they have made every single milestone represents ultimately the end of the insurgency because there will be legitimate democratic government in Iraq. And I don't think the insurgents will be able to stand up to it.“
-Vice-Leader “Dick” Cheney, December 18, 2005

“Ah yes.. The ‘watershed’ year of 2005, when we apparently first saw the beginnings of our great triumph in Iraq and the death of the insurgency. It was going great then, and it is apparently going even better now.”

“I can say that based on the conversations I've had today, and most of those conversations were with Iraqis and Iraqi leaders - some of them in the government, some of them not - that they believe the situation has gotten better. They cite specifically the statistics on sectarian violence, Sunni-on-Shia and Shia-on-Sunni violence that they think is down fairly dramatically.”
-Vice-Leader “Dick” Cheney, May 9, 2007

“See? The situation has become much better than it was back in 2005, and back then it was a ‘watershed’ turning point, so it must be practically perfect there now. Sectarian violence is down!”

“The United States military on Wednesday denied reports that a helicopter gunship fired on a primary school north of Baghdad but confirmed at least two children were killed in an attack on insurgent bombers.
A statement from US headquarters in Baghdad said attack helicopters went into action on Tuesday near Mandali, a small town in Diyala province, when pilots spotted militants planting a bomb near an illegal checkpoint.
Following the air strike, US forces dispatched to the area were told by Iraqi civilians that the two bombers were killed along with five bystanders, two of them children, the statement said.”
-AFP, May 9, 2007

“Of course blowing up children seems to be up. Well, as they always say, you can’t make an omelet without fragging some children. Those kids were probably going to grow up to be terrorists anyhow. It just proves that we are taking out the root causes of terrorists, children, and finally taking this war seriously. It’s game time, and apparently this war is a full-contact sport.”

“Q One last thing about -- in connection with the Vice President's trip. On board Air Force Two yesterday, senior administration officials said of the trip, and the message, ‘We've got to get this work done. It's game time.’ -- what does that suggest about the first four years of the war? Is it that the administration is just now saying that that was a scrimmage and now it's game time? What does that mean?
MR. SNOW: I think that's simply -- it gets back to what the President is saying. In some ways, there may be perceptions of two different clocks, Baghdad and Washington. The President said, you've got to speed up the clock. It is a matter of realizing that there have been a lot of efforts now. We've been working on this joint way forward in Iraq. You are getting results in a number of areas. We have been talking and working with the Iraqis on political, economic, and other reform.”
-Press Gaggle with White House Spokesman Tony Snow, May 10, 2007

“See? Our strategy is changing in order to get to our inevitable victory. Fearless Leader is calling the shots, so that some day he can march his troops back to the gates of Rome in triumph and take over the Senate.. Um, sorry, I was thinking of Julius Caesar. No, Fearless Leader changed his strategy because he hated getting polled.”

“I remind people -- I reminded them that last fall, late fall -- I had been one of these people that get endlessly polled -- you know, these surveys and the pollsters calling people all the time, it looks like -- and if they had asked my opinion, I'd have said, I disapprove of what was going on in Iraq. You could have put me down as part of the disapproval process -- and, therefore, had put a plan in place that would more likely cause me to approve of what's going on in Iraq. That's why I made the decision I made. “
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, May 10, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Why Again?

“President Bush and his vice president conceded yesterday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, trying to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue – whether the invasion was justified because Hussein was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.”
-Associated Press, October 8, 2004

“I remember that.. The war was needed because Saddam was cheating the system and was going to use that money to rebuild his WMD program.”

"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
-Condoleezza Rice, September 8, 2002

“Sure, they were upset about the lack of WMD, but we needed to go in because of Saddam’s growing threat.”

"We were all unhappy that the intelligence was not as good as we had thought that it was. But the essential judgment was absolutely right. Saddam Hussein was a threat."
-Condoleeza Rice, October 3, 2004.

“You know, they should arrest all of those horrible enablers who were supplying Saddam with that money. Without them Saddam wouldn’t have been able to do.. um.. whatever it is that he supposedly did. Buy solid gold bathtubs?”

“Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, is preparing to acknowledge that it should have known kickbacks were being paid to Saddam Hussein on oil it bought from Iraq as part of a defunct United Nations program, according to investigators.

The admission is part of a settlement being negotiated with United States prosecutors and includes fines totaling $25 million to $30 million, according to the investigators, who declined to be identified because the settlement was not yet public.
According to the Volcker report, surcharges on Iraqi oil exports were introduced in August 2000 by the Iraqi state oil company, the State Oil Marketing Organization. At the time, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, was a member of Chevron’s board and led its public policy committee, which oversaw areas of potential political concerns for the company.
Ms. Rice resigned from Chevron’s board on Jan. 16, 2001, after being named national security advisor by President Bush.”
-New York Times, May 8, 2007

“Oops. Still, no matter what the reason, we had to take out Saddam. He was a monster. Removing him from power was just the Christian thing to do..”

“Before the US invasion in March 2003 there were estimated to be around 800,000 Christians in Iraq, around three percent of the otherwise largely Muslim population, living mainly in urban centres such as Baghdad.
Although there were some attacks on churches in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Christians were not especially targeted while rival Sunni and Shiite Muslim factions went to war.
As a relatively wealthy community, however, many Christians fell prey to kidnap and ransom gangs and many -- probably more than half -- of them have fled the country or moved to the relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Now there are reports that Salafist groups such as Al-Qaeda, fundamentalists who believe Islam can be renewed by returning to the values of the era of the Prophet Mohammed, are targeting Christians on purely sectarian grounds.”
-AFP, May 10, 2007

Many churches are now nearly empty, with many of their faithful either gone or too scared to attend. Only about 30 people attended this Sunday's mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in the relatively safe Baghdad neighborhood of Karradah, and only two dozen took communion in the barren St. Mary's Church in the northern city of Kirkuk on Sunday.
As many as 50 percent of Iraq's Christians may already have left the country, according to a report issued Wednesday by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal monitoring and advisory group in Washington D.C.
‘These groups face widespread violence from Sunni insurgents and foreign jihadis, and they also suffer pervasive discrimination and marginalization at the hands of the national government, regional governments, and para-state militias,’ said the report.
Islamic extremists have also targeted liquor stores, hair salons and other Christian-owned businesses, saying they violate Islam, the report said.
‘This is not the culture of Iraqis or the nature of Iraqis. We have lived during centuries together in a respectful attitude and friendship,’ said Luwis Zarco, the Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk.
-Associated Press, May 7, 2007

"..unless you happened to live in Iraq, which was a secular nation that kept its different religions living together in peace. Ok.. The Christian angle isn’t working. Let’s use the other typical angle. We had to go into Iraq for the children who were being raised in a horrible oppressive regime.”

“You know.. for kids.”
- Norville Barnes, The Hudsucker Proxy

“The chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age five has plummetted faster than anywhere else in the world since 1990, said a report released Tuesday, which placed the country last in its child survival rankings.
One in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching their fifth birthday in 2005, said the report by Save the Children, which said Iraq ranked last because it had made the least progress toward improving child survival rates.
Iraq's mortality rate has soared by 150 per cent since 1990. Even before the latest war, Iraq was plagued by electricity shortages, a lack of clean water and too few hospitals.”
-Associated Press, May 7, 2007

“And why was Iraq plagued by electricity shortages, a lack of clean water and too few hospitals (other than Saddam’s solid gold bathtubs)? Oh yeah, sanctions and the oil for food program! Weird how this all comes around.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Terrorist Perspective

“I’m sure that you’ve heard about it already, but they just caught six real, live terrorists in the United States! My God, Fearless Leader was right! Without his keen vision and oversight these men might have brought their horrific plans to fruition.”

“Federal and state agents arrested six men and seized an arsenal of homemade hand grenades and firearms in raids Thursday, including one that forced the shutdown of a school.
The men, members of the self-styled ‘Alabama Free Militia,’ had no apparent plans to use the weapons, but the leader was described as a federal fugitive, federal authorities said.
‘They just have a beef with the government, and they stockpile munitions,’ U.S. Attorney Alice Martin said at a news conference in Fort Payne.”
-Associated Press, April 26, 2007

“No, no, no.. Those were just some white guys who collected guns. I mean terrorists. The guys who want to use violence to send out their message of hatred and fear!”

“Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Armstrong said at a hearing in Birmingham federal court he could not grant bail to the five because of the agent's testimony and the amount of weapons - including about 200 homemade hand grenades - that were seized in raids Friday in DeKalb County.
‘I'm going to be worried if I let these individuals go at this time,’ he said.
Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five - Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 - planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details.
During the raids last week, agents recovered 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.”
-Huntsville Times (Alabama), May 2, 2007

“No, no, no! Sometimes I think that you are being deliberately obtuse. Not the white Americans who were planning on shooting Mexicans. I mean the foreigners who were planning on killing white people. Entirely different.”

“Six foreign-born Muslims were arrested and accused Tuesday of plotting to attack the Army's Fort Dix and massacre scores of U.S. soldiers -- a plot the FBI says was foiled when the men took a video of themselves firing assault weapons to a store to have the footage put onto a DVD.
The six were arrested Monday night trying to buy AK-47 assault weapons, M-16s and other weapons from an FBI informant, authorities said.”
-MSNBC, May 8, 2007

“That’s right, they were only caught because of their one critical mistake.. Trying to copy their home videos onto DVD. I know that their plan doesn’t seem to have been all that close to completion (since they apparently didn’t yet have the weapons to carry it out), but trust me, these Islamic Jihadists were much, much more dangerous than the white guys with a couple of hundred hand grenades. They just are. This triumph will go in the books next to our other great triumphs.”

“A federal judge denied bond Wednesday for six men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and other federal buildings.

The six, who have pleaded not guilty, were arrested June 22 in Miami as part of an undercover FBI sting. They are accused of seeking to support what they thought was an al Qaeda operative's effort to bomb FBI buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington.”
-CBS News, July 5, 2006

“From the indictment it is clear that the men had no shortage of ambition, asking for al-Qaeda training to wage a ‘full ground war’ to ‘kill all the devils we can.’ To his end, the group asked the undercover agent for a wish-list of equipment that included boots, uniforms, machine guns, bullet-proof vests, radios and vehicles — as well as $50,000 in cash. The group's leader also provided the government agent with ‘a list of shoe sizes for the purchase of military boots for his 'soldiers'.”
-Time.com, June 23, 2006

“Ah yes.. The dreaded Men Without Boots plot. Much more dangerous than the white guys with the machine gun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.”

“A terrorist plot to set off explosives in the PATH railway tunnels under the Hudson River in October or November was disrupted in its planning stages, and several suspects in the plot have been apprehended, law enforcement officials said today.”
-New York Times, July 7, 2006

“One U.S. official called the plot ‘largely aspirational’ and described the Internet conversations as mostly extremists discussing and conceptualizing the plot. The official said no money had been transferred, nor had other similar operational steps been taken.

[CBS News correspondent Jim] Stewart reports his sources say that no one in the United States ever took part in the Internet conversations and that no one ever purchased any explosives or scouted the transit system.”
-CBS/AP, July 7, 2006

“The feared Railway Tunnel plot. Our most recent Islamic plot was further along.. They had apparently scouted the base using one of the members of the conspiracy who was a pizza delivery man. It’s not delivery, it’s al Qaeda! I wonder why there is so much press coverage of the Islamic guys and none really for the white guys? You know what else? They caught the members of this Jihadist plot without ever once needing illicit wiretapping or torture. Funny how the old ways are sometimes the best.”

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