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Peter B. Collins
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November 25, 2005
Laugh or cry?
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.
"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses -- because that goes straight to the bottom line -- then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.
Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.
What can you say about this? Truly some people are shameless.
Last year, on Thanksgiving, I wrote about Abraham Lincoln, the President who declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Since I mention Lincoln 1860 in every other post, I thought I'd reprint that post, which I still like. You'll find it in extended.
This is an Open Thread.
I try to ignore the Kaus/Jarvis axis of faux Dems as much as possible. But Ann Althouse spent a day slandering Atrios and the commenters so I was checking to see if she had corrected herself. Unsurprisingly she doesn't. But then I stumbled on to her post defending Scalia's saying Gore made him do it in Bush v. Gore. What is striking to me is not her defense of Scalia, which, truth be told, doesn't surprise me. But rather her defense of Bush v. Gore in the comments. I'll discuss it on the flip.
Kolbe is out.
Rep. Jim Kolbe (news, bio, voting record), a leading proponent of free trade and the only openly gay Republican in Congress, announced Wednesday that he will not seek a 12th term next year.
Kolbe, 63, said in a statement that he wants to find "new avenues of service" and spend more time in Arizona.
"I make this decision not out of despair or discouragement or even uncertainty about my political prospects for election," he said.
Short of a Graf win in the GOP primary, the Democrats might have had a difficult time winning in Arizona's eight congressional district before Kolbe's retirement announcement even though President Bush only carried the district with 53 percent of the vote in 2004 and 49 percent in 2000. But today's news offers the Democrats a solid pick up opportunity that could put Nancy Pelosi one step closer to the Speaker's chair in the 110th Congress.
Democrats are quick to note that this is "a race we can win." The eighth district contains a portion of Tucson, a city in which Democrats forcefully gained control of power during the local elections earlier this month. What's more, with the popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano leading the ticket next fall, Dems say they should be able to win in the eighth district next year.
This race becomes a top-tier pickup opportunity. DeLay and NRCC chair Tom Renolds can't be too happy today. And the continued ethical and legal troubles bedeviling the GOP might force additional retirements.
Via PFAW, The Nation breaks some news on ScAlito and CAP:
Some argue that Alito's membership in the organization hardly proves he shared such views. "It would be outrageously inaccurate to say Sam was deeply involved in the group, and he certainly wasn't in charge of choosing the articles," T. Harding Jones, who edited Prospect during the 1970s, told me, adding that CAP's main goals were strengthening the alumni's voice and championing a more ideologically balanced curriculum. Diane Weeks begs to differ. Weeks graduated from Princeton three years after Alito did and went on to work with him as an assistant US Attorney in New Jersey. In an interview she took pains to stress that she considers Alito "a man of integrity" with a first-rate legal mind. But, she added, "when I saw CAP on that 1985 job application, I was flabbergasted. I was totally stunned. I couldn't believe it." CAP, she said, "made it clear to women like me that we were not wanted on campus. And he is touting his membership in this group in 1985, thirteen years after he graduated. He's not a young man by this point, and I don't buy for a second that he was doing it just to get a job. Membership in CAP gives a good sense of what someone's personal beliefs are. I'm very troubled by this, and if I were on the Senate I would want some answers."
I want answers. Do Senate Democrats?
Via Jeralyn, the Houston Chronicle has a sickening investigative piece concluding that the the 1993 execution of teenager Ruben Cantu was a screwup of epic proportions:
Texas executed its fifth teenage offender at 22 minutes after midnight on Aug. 24, 1993, after his last request for bubble gum had been refused and his final claim of innocence had been forever silenced.
Ruben Cantu, 17 at the time of his crime, had no previous convictions, but a San Antonio prosecutor had branded him a violent thief, gang member and murderer who ruthlessly shot one victim nine times with a rifle before emptying at least nine more rounds into the only eyewitness -- a man who barely survived to testify.
Four days after a Bexar County jury delivered its verdict, Cantu wrote this letter to the residents of San Antonio: "My name is Ruben M. Cantu and I am only 18 years old. I got to the 9th grade and I have been framed in a capital murder case."
A dozen years after his execution, a Houston Chronicle investigation suggests that Cantu, a former special-ed student who grew up in a tough neighborhood on the south side of San Antonio, was likely telling the truth.
Sweet. The DCCC has delivered on our request for a listing of every congressional seat and currently announced candidates. As a quick perusal will show, there are still way too many Republicans running unopposed. Check your district if you are represented by a Republican. If we have a candidate, help out however you can. If not, do whatever you can to find a candidate.
The DCCC can do a lot, but we in the netroots number millions. We know lots of people who would never register on the DCCC's radar. I'm not talking lawyers or career politicians -- we've got more than enough of those -- but teachers, firefighters, farmers, vets, etc. Real people that could be persuaded to make a run to help build clean house in DC and take power away from those utterly corrupted by it.
Collectively, let's plug every hole on that list and make sure we have a Democrat challenging in every single Republican district in 2006.
Unembedded is a stunning book of photographs from four photojournalists roaming Iraq without U.S. military escorts. I've been featuring photos from the book over the past week or so.
Click on photo to enlarge.
SADR CITY, BAGHDAD, JULY 15, 2004
Women squeeze into a car on their way to a henna party, the Iraqi equivalent of a bridal shower, after they have had makeup applied in a salon. They ride behind tinted windows to protect their modesty.
Photo by Kael Alford
For the impatient amongst us, you can see more pictures from the book here. You can buy straight from the publisher at that link, or from Amazon here, or anywhere else you'd like (including your favorite independent bookseller).
Rasmussen. 11/16. MoE 4.5% (No trend lines)
Nelson (D) 52
Nelson (D) 57
Senator Nelson faces a challenge that is different from most of his colleagues in the Democratic Party. He is running for re-election in a state where George W. Bush remains popular. The President has a 61% Job Approval Rating in Nebraska.
If the election becomes a referendum on President Bush, that would benefit whichever candidate wins the Republican nomination.
Republican Governor Dave Heineman is even more popular than the President with a 79% Job Approval rating.
Nelson is viewed favorably by 70% of Nebraska voters and unfavorably by 22%.
For Ricketts, the numbers are 39% favorable, 29% unfavorable and 32% with no opinion.
Kramer is viewed favorably by 32%, unfavorably by 33%, and 35% have no opinion.
Nelson should've been a top NRSC target in 2006, but this is one of those states in which Liddy Dole completely dropped the ball. And to the inevitable whiners who can't get past Nelson's DINO status, this is Nebraska. 55 percent of Nelson's votes is better than the big fat zero we'd get out of a Republican replacement. Not to mention the Big Vote in January 2007 for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Incidentally, Rasmussen is promising to poll every single senate and governor's race every month in 2006, which is pretty frickin' cool. And better yet, competitive races will be polled even more frequently.
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
The administration has refused to provide the Sept. 21 President's Daily Brief, even on a classified basis, and won't say anything more about it other than to acknowledge that it exists.
The information was provided to Bush on September 21, 2001 during the "President's Daily Brief," a 30- to 45-minute early-morning national security briefing. Information for PDBs has routinely been derived from electronic intercepts, human agents, and reports from foreign intelligence services, as well as more mundane sources such as news reports and public statements by foreign leaders.
One of the more intriguing things that Bush was told during the briefing was that the few credible reports of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda involved attempts by Saddam Hussein to monitor the terrorist group. Saddam viewed Al Qaeda as well as other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime. At one point, analysts believed, Saddam considered infiltrating the ranks of Al Qaeda with Iraqi nationals or even Iraqi intelligence operatives to learn more about its inner workings, according to records and sources.
To be clear -- there wasn't just no connection, but Saddam viewed Al Qaida as one of his enemies. Yet while the administration and its apologists continue to claim that Democrats had the same intelligence they did on Saddam, we can bet that NONE of them had this bombshell of a document.
Meanwhile, the White House refuses to turn over this document (and other similar ones) to Senate investigators.
If the story has no merit, why would the Brittish government threaten newspapers with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act?
Claims that George Bush planned to bomb the Arabic TV news station al-Jazeera have fuelled concerns that an attack on the broadcaster's Baghdad offices during the war on Iraq was deliberate.
An international journalists group today demanded "complete disclosure" from the British and American governments over reports that the US considered attacking the al-Jazeera HQ in the Qatar capital, Doha.
The International Federation of Journalists claimed that 16 journalists and other media staff have died at the hands of US forces in Iraq, adding that the deaths had not been properly investigated.
Al-Jazeera cameraman Tarek Ayoub was killed when the station's Baghdad office was bombed during a US air raid on April 8 2003. On the same day a US tank shelled the Palestine hotel in the Iraqi capital, killing two other journalists.
"Reports that George Bush and Tony Blair discussed a plan to bomb al-Jazeera reinforce concerns that the US attack in Baghdad on April 8  was deliberate targeting of the media," said Aidan White, the general secretary of the IFJ [...]
A Downing Street spokesman added: "We have got nothing to say about this story. We don't comment on leaked documents."
The attorney general last night threatened newspapers with the Official Secrets Act if they revealed the contents of a document allegedly relating to a dispute between Mr Blair and Mr Bush over the conduct of military operations in Iraq.
Suddenly, Eason Jordan doesn't seem like such a crackpot, does he? (Not that he ever did, despite the rightwing swarm against him.)
And incidentally, the two Brits who leaked the memo detailing the argument between Bush and Blair over bombing Al Jazeera are already being prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act. It's real.
We've already discussed this, but now that some newspapers are picking it up, it wouldn't hurt to mention it again.
In late February 1991, an intelligence source reported, during the Iraqi crackdown on the Kurdish uprising that followed the coalition victory against Iraq, "Iraqi forces loyal to President Saddam may have possibly used white phosphorous chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels and the populace in Erbil and Dohuk. The WP chemical was delivered by artillery rounds and helicopter gunships."
According to the intelligence report, the "reports of possible WP chemical weapon attacks spread quickly among the populace in Erbil and Dohuk. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled from these two areas" across the border into Turkey.
"When Saddam used WP it was a chemical weapon," said Mr Ranucci, "but when the Americans use it, it's a conventional weapon. The injuries it inflicts, however, are just as terrible however you describe it." [...]
Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, called for an independent investigation of the use of WP during the Fallujah siege. "If it was used as an incendiary weapon, clear restrictions apply," he said.
"Given that the US and UK went into Iraq on the ground that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against his own people, we need to make sure that we are not violating the laws that we have subscribed to," he added.
Apologists of the use of WP continue to hide under the legalistic argument that white phosphorus isn't classified as a chemical weapon under any treaty signed by the United States, as if our moral standing in the world hinges on legal parsings. In the court of world opinion, if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and burns off the skin of babies like a duck while leaving their clothes intact, well then...
As the United States tries to justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq with moralistic arguments, it would help if we didn't use the same techniques and tactics Saddam used.
That goes with the use of WP, which the Pentagon labelled a "chemical weapon" when it was politically expedient to do so, as well as the use of torture.
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