Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The solution is to get rid of phone booths

BC Ferries received a bomb threat over the weekend. That instantly turned into a Terrorist Threat. Why? Well, initial reports issued by BC Ferries president David Hahn contained the information that the caller, who has been traced to a Coquitlam phone booth, had a middle-eastern accent.

As Vive le Canada has noted, news reports which made that reference, apparently the part which elevated this from a run-of-the-mill bomb-threat to a threat of terrorism, have removed those words from their online reports.

Run-of-the-mill?! Yeah. Bomb threats almost always turn out to be hoaxes, just as this one did. This one however, caused the cancellation of 21 sailings. Because it was "credible".

The details we are being given? The call was made by a person unknown to the Delta police 911 line at around 3:30 pm on Saturday from a phone booth at the Coquitlam Centre Mall by a man with a middle-eastern accent.

How much does everybody actually know?
... finding the person who made the threat may be like looking for a needle in a haystack, said police spokeswoman Sharlene Brooks.

"Unless someone comes forward that has personal knowledge of the individual that may have made this call, identifying this suspect may be next to impossible," she said.

In other words, this could be a kid who's having an incredibly boring summer and the police have nothing.

That hasn't stopped the pants-pissing though.

B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said security was heightened at terminals yesterday, but wouldn't go into detail. "We don't want to tell the terrorists what we're doing," she said. "Our employees are always vigilant. Their eyes and ears are the best tools they can use to see if anything is unusual."
Vigilant for what? Merchant mariners and terminal attendants aren't trained to spot terrorists. I defy BC Ferry Services to prove otherwise.

And to claim terrorists are behind all this is to ignore a single basic fact. By way of demonstration:

- 1972 Munich Massacre
- Cubana flight 455 bombing
- Air India flight 182
- Narita airport bombing
- Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Scotland
- 1993 World Trade Center bombing
- Oklahoma City bombing
- Khobar Towers bombing
- 1998 US embassy bombings
- Omagh, Northern Ireland
- Sept. 11, 2001 attacks WTC and Pentagon
- 2002 Bali bombing
- 2004 Madrid bombing
- 2005 London bombing

What does this sample of a long list of terrorist attacks have in common? NO WARNING.

Terrorists don't phone in an attack. They take credit for it after the fact.

Keep working on it people. You'll eventually get it right.

A kinder, gentler Steve

If he doesn't watch it, Steve Harper could end up being listed in Hairy Fish Nut's Desperation Watch.

Under the worn out heading of Canada's New Government, Getting Things Done... for all of us, Harper employs a Government of Canada webpage to promote cat adoption.

How sensitive... how caring... how WTF?!

I leave you there. Now go visit Alison for the gritty details.

Klassy with a capital K

So nice to see Dubya is helping new British PM Gordon Brown sell the idea of maintaining the closest possible ties the United States to British voters by downplaying his reputation as an irresponsible cowboy leading a team of amateurs:

Britain's Brown kindles chemistry with Bush


Tuesday, 31 July, 2007

Wearing a dark blue tie and an air of formality, Britain's Gordon Brown brought stiff protocol to his first US summit with President George W Bush, doing little to prove he will kindle the warm chemistry his predecessor shared with the US chief.

During two days of discussions at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, the British leader shared a roast beef dinner and a cheeseburger lunch with his new ally, but gave few signals they can strike the same bond Tony Blair built with Bush.

I'll go out on a limb here and bet that "Whuddy'all want on yer cheeseburger Mr. Prime Minister" was not a phrase Gordon Brown expected to hear after he finally rose to pinnacle of British politics

Aides said the leaders' four hours of talks Sunday and Monday were businesslike and, a few gentle news conference jokes aside, the men displayed little of the repartee that previously marked relations between Washington and London.

For Blair, it was casual clothes, broad grins and an instant spark amid the snowfall of his first Camp David talks with Bush in Feb. 2001. Blair, wearing a sweater, and Bush, in a bomber jacker, chatted and joked as they strolled with a dog through the Maryland woodland.

Not so for Brown, who smiled as he was greeted by Bush and a guard of honour Sunday, but scheduled no other photo calls with his counterpart. Only Bush's playful 360-degree manoeuvre as he whisked Brown to dinner in a golf cart lifted the mood.

Did Bush think maybe Brown, being in the British governmnet had run across "them Dukes of Hazzard fellers" in the House of Lords?

Brown, who later headed to New York for talks at the United Nations, even wore a shirt and tie to dinner at Camp David's Laurel cabin, British officials said.

But Bush heaped praise on his counterpart, telling reporters Brown was "a glass half full guy," and claiming not all world leaders shared the Briton's optimism, or desire to tackle international problems.
The men talked about Bush's childhood visit to Scotland and their shared passion for rugby – a sport both leaders played at school, officials said. Bush aides told the British chief how they searched Google to learn about his personal history, at one point confusing him for an ex-British sportsman also called Gordon Brown.

Google? They had to use Google to find out the background of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, their closest ally and BFF? How did they find out about the WMD in Iraq? Wikipedia? Did they "ask Jeeves"?

Brown told reporters ties to the US were Britain's foreign policy priority and thanked Bush for his "very compassionate" tributes. But he gave little indication of his first impressions of Bush, who he referred to in a news conference as Mr President. Blair and Bush, in contrast, were instantly on first name terms.

"Yee-Haw, Brownie! Here, have one a these here jello shooters Laura made. After vittles, we're a gonna watch the rasslin' and maybe clear some brush or hunt varmints! If it gits hot after Bible study, we kin go swimmin' in the ceement pond!"

crossposted from the Woodshed

Forget Iraq. What's the senator wearing today?

Hillary Clinton was born 26 October 1947. She is almost 60 years old. Her only child is now 27 years old. To be honest, I suspect the shade of her hair is courtesy of L'Oreal®. She is also one very adept politician.

So, when the politician is giving a speech on the important issue of the cost of higher education, televised on C-SPAN, what gets noticed by some mindless Washington Post fashion editor? The fact that Hillary Rohdam Clinton, a female, may actually be physiologically the same as other human females. She has breasts!

The worst of it though, is that it took a run in media and the blogosphere, the likes of which elicited memories of Oliver North standing before a congressional hearing with his hand raised ready to fall on his sword for trading weapons with an enemy of the state.

It was as though there had been some kind of attempted cover-up. All this time, nobody was able to fathom that Hillary Clinton had a remarkably average chest for her size. All this time she was hiding them!

It's not like there was anything more important happening.

Now, the international media is covering it.

Luckily, one British fashion editor has taken a saner view:
[London] Times fashion editor Lisa Armstrong. "If this had been a cavernous drop into some gigantic valley of cleavage, the outraged critics might have had a point. But this is so discreet as to be barely detectable without a magnifying glass - more cleavette than cleavage. Good on Hillary Clinton for finally acknowledging that she is, you know, a woman and for daring to presume that the public is sufficiently adult to listen to her making a speech on the cost of higher education whilst wearing a non-poloneck, without being inflamed by lustful feelings. What a shame she was wrong."
Was she? Or did she just trigger the eight-year-old mentality of the news media? A ridiculous piece written by fluff-driven airhead, who usually produces this kind of tripe, suddenly gets unwarranted attention under the pretense that she had become a serious scribe.

In a country that produces over one-half of all the world's hard-core pornography, without so much as a sneeze, major news networks, big city journals and untold numbers of bloggers couldn't stop pointing at You Tube clips providing evidence of a gap between a pair of mammary glands. The Viagra® and Kleenex® must have gotten one helluva workout in the FOX newsroom.

Maybe the fashion editors of the major US news outlets should keep a closer eye on the male members of the US Senate. They might notice that when some of them loosen their ties and undo the top button of their shirts, they're getting a glimpse of foreskin.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Where To Begin ? ? ? ?

There are so many obvious questions raised by this story it's impossible to know where to begin . . . .

Rice: Iran now the biggest U.S. strategic challenge in Mideast

Take a breath . . . .

I know you're probably pulling your hair out . . . .

Relax, take a chill pill . . . .

Now, . . . .

All together, . . . .


BTW, the photo is crying for a caption. Feel free . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Teddy Trouble . . . .

Rut-Row, Ted. From this evening's Anchorage Daily News:

FBI, IRS searching Stevens' Girdwood house

Anchorage Daily News
- (Published: July 30, 2007)

Federal law enforcement agents are currently searching the Girdwood home of Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

"All I can say is that agents from the FBI and IRS are currently conducting a search at that residence," said Dave Heller, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Anchorage office. The search began earlier this afternoon, he said. It's the only such search warrant currently being served, he said.

Federal investigators and a grand jury looking into public corruption in Alaska have been asking questions about a 2000 remodeling project that more than doubled the size of Stevens' home -- particularly the involvment of the oil field services firm Veco. Three contractors who worked on the project told the Daily News that their records had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, and others connected with the work and with Stevens had been interviewed.

Maybe he's got a system of tubes to squirrel away any incriminating evidence . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Hillier smacks down O'Connor... again!

Canadian Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier has once again contradicted Minister of National Defence, Gordon O'Connor. This time, it's not on defence manning; it's on the Afghanistan mission.
Canada's top soldier says handing over front-line fighting duties to Afghan soldiers by February will prove to be a "significant challenge."

Gen. Rick Hillier told CTV's Question Period that it's unlikely Canada's frontline presence will be scaled back because of the significant time commitment needed to train Afghan forces to take over security in the country.

Hillier effectively downplayed comments by Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, who said last week on Question Period that by the time the 22nd Regiment takes over the mission in Afghanistan in August, the Canadian military will be shifting from combat to the classroom. And Afghan soldiers would take up the bulk of the fighting around Kandahar.

"We'd like to see that it was in that position to be able to do so by next February, but that would be certainly a significant challenge for them," said Hillier.

"Significant challenge" in general-speak means, That would be wonderful, and I'd like to say it's possible, but it ain't gonna happen so quit wishing for ponies.

All of which contradicts this bit from O'Connor, last week:

By the time the famed Van Doos are ready to come home next winter, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor says he believes the Canadian army will be able to cede most of the fighting around Kandahar to Afghan troops.

In his last outing with the news media Hillier contradicted the Conservative defence policy on creating new territorial battalions by suggesting they were unnecessary and were probably not going to happen, claiming, "We're not in the business of creating new units." He also dismissed, completely, the idea of creating a new Canadian Airborne Regiment, again in defiance of O'Connor and Harper plans to the contrary. On that occasion he could have been accused of over-stepping his authority by defining defence policy - the job of the civilian leadership of the country.

It seemed to go unchallenged.

This time, however, Hillier is on solid ground. Mission conduct and activity is the role of the Canadian Forces and the uniforms who run it. It is not the job of the DND, the political ministry, to command the mission. O'Connor's comments would have been valid had he qualified them by stating that "According to the commanders, the CDS and NATO allies with whom we are consulting.... ".

But he didn't.

In fact, the unspoken part of Hillier's contradiction of O'Connor is, "I don't know where you developed that idea, minister, but it isn't in consonance with the information I have been providing you."

In case anyone is missing the obvious, there is a nasty pig-fight taking place at the upper levels of National Defence Headquarters. What we're seeing in the news media is the water splashing over the edge of the pool as two defence heavyweights slug it out in the deep end.

We had a term for it back in the day: The swords have cleared their scabbards.

Hillier has had ongoing disagreements with O'Connor. From having heavy strategic airlift foisted upon him, despite his objections, to manning requirements which the CF could not possibly have met, Hillier has regularly had to correct O'Connor's thinking. O'Connor has managed to embarrass his department, including the Canadian Forces, through sheer lack of diligence and a failure to grasp the realities of any number of given situations, the most monumental screw-up being his handling of prisoner transfers and his initial unqualified statement that the International Committee of the Red Cross was monitoring and reporting back to Canada.

O'Connor is a liability to the Canadian Forces and I suspect Hillier would like nothing better than to see him gone, replaced by someone who has the capacity to listen.

The fact that the long-overdue Defence Review has still not been published suggests that there is indeed a bloody fight going on in the upper halls of NDHQ and O'Connor is the cause of it.

In any event, when the Chief of Defence Staff deems it necessary to outright contradict the words of the Minister of National Defence... twice, it serves as an indication that someone's head is about to roll. Given the confidence with which Hillier is speaking, it isn't he that needs to pull the armour over his neck.

The O'Connor death watch continues.

How much jail time? The anti-choicers fumble.

One great question. And no answer.

Two excellent must read posts. Birth Pangs has the mini-documentary, which demonstrates the absolute paralysis the anti-choicers encounter when faced with the question. And Woman at Mile 0 has one of the connected dots.

If abortion were made illegal, what should the punishment be for a woman who secures one? And before the anti-choice crowd goes off on a half-cocked tangent suggesting that only the abortion provider should be punished, that's not the question.

Update: Regrettably, the video-doc to which Fern Hill at Birth Pangs linked has been removed from You Tube by the user, without explanation. I suspect there was a "release" problem, but that is pure speculation.

So, you'll have to take the word of Anna Quindlen, who describes it and the contents. Having seen it, I can tell you she is being completely truthful.

STOP THE PRESSES!! Cheryl just found a version of the video HERE. You'll need Real Player to view it after downloading it. I will try to get it to embed here later on... if I can figure it out... if I have time... I'll try.

Finally a Good Idea From Public Works

According to this story in The Ottawa Citizen Public Works is in the process of taking bids for the construction of a 21,500 square foot "food production facility" in Ottawa in order to close down the Parliamentary kitchens. Food for the dining room will then be trucked over to be reheated and served. Ideally by unwashed, sweaty, overweight churls with unlit cigars dangling from their lips.

I've eaten in the Parliamentary dining room, a fine lunch many years ago, and I attest to the quality of the food.

It's much too fine for a cabal of sophomoric, cat-calling, self-serving yobbos with little or no regard for the people who hired them and who pay their salaries.

Let them eat ca-ca.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two Headlines

Both on the same page:

Third of Iraqis 'need urgent aid'

World owes US a debt, says Brown

Beating the Rush, or Beating the bush ? ? ? ?

H/T to our friend and fellow US-to-Canada immigrant David Drucker over at Loud Murmurs for this one:

Brain drain a thing of the past as Americans flood in

By Norma Greenaway - CanWest News Service
Sunday, July 29, 2007

OTTAWA - The number of Americans admitted to Canada last year hit a 30-year high, fueling a pattern that suggests the drain of Canadian brains south of the border may be a shrinking phenomenon.

The number of Americans accepted in Canada reached 10,942 in 2006, almost double the number admitted in 2000. By contrast, the number of Canadians admitted to the United States in 2006 dropped sharply from the previous year, falling to 23,913 from 29,930.

"Friends (back home) are asking a lot of questions," said American Pamela Chaloult. "I keep encouraging people to come."

The couple now is ready to buy a house in their adopted city of Vancouver, and they are thinking about taking out Canadian citizenship.

Chaloult says she doesn't miss the political and economic stresses that have accompanied the presidency of George W. Bush.

"We really appreciate the community we're in here," she said. "It doesn't hurt to be in a more sane environment."

Our thoughts, exactly. So, are we beating the rush or beating a trail from bush?

Probably both . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Paradox Australia

The Australian government may be about to legislate away a vast chunk of Aussie folk history and popular culture [brackets mine]:

The Australian government says it will enact a far-reaching law to ban films, literature and games advocating terrorist acts; Attorney General Phillip Ruddock [and puppy killer supreme since this happened - I swear he had an erection when I watched him describe the dire threat a boatload of refugee women and children were to Australia] announced Friday the federal government will unilaterally amend classification laws. Ruddock failed to reach agreements with the state and territorial attorneys general.
The commonwealth will legislate to put in place an amendment to the Classification Act, given we were not able to obtain a unanimous agreement from the states and territories to the proposed changes," said Ruddock on Friday.

Advocates for freedom of expression have castigated the government's proposals to broaden the country's censorship laws.

I guess this means they’ll have to ban this guy from selling his books (popular amongst thousands of violently anti-establishment Aussie youth and wannabes galore), anything ever written or filmed about this guy (all 1 800 000 Google hits!), and maybe even this fictional dude too. All who might be considered terrorists without much of a stretch...

Having lived in Australia for a while, I can personally attest to the mythological status Australian culture assigns to its outlaws and anti-government rogues. Mr. Howard’s government, through this legislation, is clearly trying to destroy a vast component of Australian identity and culture.

Hmmm…I seem to recall something about threats-to-our-way-of-life being a stated reason for Aussie involvement in the War on Terra:

We are dealing with a group of fanatics who have no tolerance for our way of life, who will not be happy unless they have brought down our way of life and imposed their own. That's the dimension of the struggle. And don't, you know, misunderstand what their goal is. Their goal is the destruction of our kind of society.
So following the government’s own logic, wouldn’t this legislation (and perhaps even the AG and Liberal Party of Australia for fucking proposing it) ban itself if it passes as it so clearly represents a threat to Aussie culture and way of life?

Get out that Medal of Freedom, George!

When you've lost Newt Gingrich, you've lost the fight. When an established Republican can't find a defender for his actions on Conservative TV FOX News, it's time to get those resumes out to the golden arches.

Alberto Gonzales is starting to look a little burnt on one side. Perhaps it's time to flip him.

Impolitical has also drawn a bit out of the New York Times, which has taken it's own good time on this, considering they spiked a column which would have blown this whole issue into the stratosphere, before the 2004 elections, based on a bill of goods they were sold by the Bush administration.

What does the New York Times actually reveal? It was Dick Cheney who sent Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to the hospital bed of then Attorney General John Ashcroft to attempt to coerce approval for continued covert and clearly illegal information gathering activities.

Impolitical makes this point:
Hardly surprising, it was apparently Cheney who ordered the attempted strong-arming of a sick man by Gonzales and Card. I had not read this to date. Even this past week, Schumer was asking Gonzales who sent him to the hospital to pursue this sickly course of action. Gonzales refused to answer. No kidding.
I love it when Cheney is involved. You just know someone is going to get tossed under the bus and Bill Kristol is going to start howling like a moonstruck malamute with one nut.

Let the games begin.

UPDATE: Lindsay points us to the Anonymous Liberal, who, as she says, is a lawyer and guest-blogger for Glenn Greenwald. A.L. provides a very readable summary of the perjury case against Gonzales, including the technical defense Gonzales would use to fight such a charge and which the National Review has already published in an editorial.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reading the stars

Last week we have this from Gordo (h/t Dave). And today we have this from the new Canadian mission head in Afghanistan:

Canada's new top soldier in Kandahar has said he hopes Afghan soldiers will take on a larger security role in Afghanistan in order to reduce Canadian casualties.

"The way to essentially reduce the risk is to have again more Afghans doing the work," Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche told reporters after he arrived at the Kandahar Air Field Friday night to replace Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant, who is leaving after a nine-month stay.

There now seems to be a palpable shift in the rhetoric from "defeating the Taleban" to "training the Afghan army".

So here's a small prediction.

As Dave points out, the Afghan army is a billion bucks and several years away from being able to stand on its own in real terms. Public support here (and across the NATO states) is sinking so fast that even the Cons are likely starting to see their lethal little adventure is becoming a liability (both here and there) and are looking for a plausible way out (ie immune to accusations of lacerated jogging). So, the spin will change to what a great job we're doing training the Afghan army and then presto, one random day (say in a Friedman when, ahem, a/o the polls are low, a/o casualties are high, a/o the generals begin to write a resignation letters, a/o Pakistan fractures, etc) they'll declare the ANA trained and ready and bring the troops home.

At least it's a way out...

You poke it; You own it.

As Birth Pangs points out, you simply cannot make this stuff up.
Ah, Virginia. The realm of registries.

First there was the sex offender registry. (A good thing.)

A couple of weeks ago, we got the dangerous dog registry. (A feeble thing.)

Now, lo and behold, we have the "I had sex with a woman!" registry. (A bizarre thing.)

In the blizzard of bills that buries Richmond every winter, many of us missed this one. Seems the General Assembly passed a law in 2006 creating a "Putative Father Registry," which was activated on July 1, 2007.

Putative? Does that mean "supposed" father? "Presumed" but not proven?

It allows a man who's had sex with a woman who's not his wife to record that erotic encounter. In case he wants to block an adoption in the future.

Yes, sir. If you've had ah, relations, with your girlfriend, your girlfriend's sister or a drunken one-night stand, you can go online and file a formal report with the state. Lotharios who aren't tech-savvy can mail in a record.

If the guy doesn't intend to hang around beyond "possibly" getting a woman pregnant, why would he assume he has the right to interfere with her decision nine months later?

I'm sorry. Right! He's a man. She's a slut.

The online instructions are cheery:

"You may register as many times as you like for each potential pregnancy or different child. If you have multiple relations with the same person or more than one female that you are involved with, you need to register for each."

Ahem! And then you go to the Virginia Department of Social Services Putative Father Registry site and find all kinds of interesting things.

Putative fathers must give a complete description of themselves and I mean everything. That's fine. And then they have to describe the woman they banged, thanked and left shared an evening of romance so tender and fulfilling that they knew they could never find that level of joy again, thus sadly ending an all too brief but life altering encounter.

They must also describe the woman completely, including her identity... (ready?)... if known.

I am not making this up. It's right there for you to read. There's even a place where the penis owner gets to guesstimate the approximate age of the woman (question 20 of the form)... whose identity he need not necessarily have ascertained.

Question 17 is intended to narrow down the date or dates when copulation occurred... according to the man.

And the woman's input into this? Nothing. They are, after all, women.... who fornicate.... and get what they deserve.... filthy sluts. Don't try to put that child up for adoption! We must protect the father.

And, if you try to secure an abortion, we already know who you are! The guy you lured into your evil female clutches has fingered you! (No pun intended, although it is good, isn't it?)

Is there such a registry for women in the State of Virginia? Are you kidding?!

Y'know... the lawmakers who write this kind of legislation need a hobby. Really. Try porn... (Oops! They already do that.) Take up knitting while riding a donkey. That way everyone will be able to identify the real ass.

News To Me . . . .

Per Reuters:

Cheney's heart device replaced
Sat Jul 28, 2007 1:15PM EDT

Who knew he had one?

A heart, that is . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

In 2008, the Democrats simply need to point out the obvious...

The Republicans are the party of weakness.

It's why reading Brilliant at Breakfast is always a good way to start the day.
None of the ’08 candidates, or national party leaders, or the congressional leaders, have gone for the gut GOP-style, with something like this:

Grainy slow-motion footage of Osama bin Laden and activity at his training camps. Cue ominous music.

“Six years after Sept. 11, this man still roams free — thanks to George W. Bush and his Republican allies. They promised they would be tough. They promised to protect us here at home. But instead they took their eye off the ball, spending $2 billion a week in a futile war half a world away from our real enemy, imperiling our brave servicemen and women, and emboldening those who would come here to kill us. America can no longer afford the party of weakness. Vote Democratic, as if your life depended on it.”

"And you can wear any color shirt you want, as long as its black or brown"

It can't happen has happened here

We keep hearing people on left ask "how close is the United States coming to becoming a fascist dictatorship?" and people on the right saying "Don't be ridiculous, that would never happen! The president loves Jesus, America and freedom, he would never let that happen--he's just trying to protect us from the terrorists. Now give me your papers, you pinko freak, and get up against the car!"

Just consider the glorious confluence of executive orders, signing statements that exempt the White House from obeying laws, extra legal domestic surveillance, the PATRIOT Act, the banning of demonstration and making it illegal to photograph certain buildings (without telling you which ones) and now this latest bit of bullshit that gives the government the right to seize pretty much anything they want from anyone who opposes the war in Iraq and says anything about it.

Yep, freedom is on the march all right. Can't you hear the jackboots ring?

The FOX attack

OK. Just to catch everyone up a bit, it started with Bill O'Reilly deciding to smear Daily Kos and Jet Blue. Crooks and Liars has the video.

Then, via Red Tory, this:

Now, for what it's worth, O'Reilly cherry-picked his Kos quotes from the comments section, and Michelle Malkin's comments moderator admitted it. Kos and most other bloggers have pointed out that there is little control in "open" comments sections, but O'Reilly wasn't having any of that. He has comments at his site and he has control... or at least he has an employee who has control for every $50 per year registrant who might want to leave a comment.

O'Reilly is fully aware that comments in blogs, particularly where they start running into the hundreds per post, are pretty difficult to manage. He also knows they do not represent the author of a post. But that's where he dragged his quotes from.

With that knowledge, a point needs to be made. Anybody could be leaving comments. Most commenters are pseudonymous. Even on a blog requiring registration, a pseudonym, a throw away email address and you're in... commenting to your heart's content.

That's the point. O'Reilly himself could easily have left any one or all of those comments at Daily Kos and then picked them out as fodder for his attack. Yes, that sounds like a ridiculous conspiracy theory... but we're talking about Bill O'Reilly here.

And, as for the rest of the FOX news crowd suddenly going orbital over liberal blogs, it only shows that they are horribly shaken by the emergence of a strong liberal voice. FOX is channeling George Bush with their very own "surge".

So, fight them. Become a Fox Attacker!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Yeah, That'll Work . . . .


This should really make things better. (From Reuters)

U.S. plans big arms sale to Saudi Arabia
Fri Jul 27, 2007 11:30PM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve arms sales totaling $20 billion over the next decade for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, The New York Times reported in Saturday editions.

Coming as some U.S. officials contend that the Saudi government is not helping the situation in Iraq, the proposal for advanced weapons for Saudi Arabia has stoked concern in Israel and among its U.S. backers, the Times said.

Senior officials, including State Department and Pentagon officials who outlined the deals' terms, told the Times they thought the Bush administration had resolved those concerns, partly by offering Israel more than $30 billion in military aid over the next 10 years, which would be a significant increase over recent levels.

The sad thing is, the US congress will probably approve both sales in the interest of the US economy or "security".

Crapola . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Use the navy in Afghanistan, says Conservative senator Hugh Segal

What Steve V said.

Navies generally need a little water under the keel to make them effective, Segal, you dumb fuck.

The thin edge of a very dangerous wedge

Via Stageleft, the New Zealand parliament has voted in a bill which is the slippery slope into government control of that country's news media:
New Zealand politicians, upset at being seen as lazy and offensive, have banned journalistic satire as well as coverage that ridicules or denigrates them, according to new rules passed on Thursday. Members of New Zealand's parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new rules. Just six members of the 121-seat parliament were opposed. The new provision makes it a contempt of parliament if television footage is used for "satire, ridicule or denigration." Photographers are no longer able to take still shots during sessions but television cameras can. Leader of the House Michael Cullen suggested it was too easy for photographers to take shots that were out of context.
Like perhaps, sleeping or flipping a finger at an opponent.
Several newspapers and television stations reacted angrily to the upcoming ban, which was revealed on Monday. They showed images from the next day's parliamentary debate of politicians asleep, gesturing offensively, reading fashion magazines and using their cellphones. Media said they would no longer be able to show these images under the new rules, and would face jail if found guilty of contempt. Cameras have been banned for periods of several days to a week on occasions that parliament finds those media organisations to have brought the House into disrepute. Last year, New Zealand television station TV3 was banned for three days after it showed a picture of a politician repeatedly making an obscene gesture.
Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it?

New Zealand has had its problems in the past. In the late 1980s it was literally bankrupt. Drastic measures had to be taken just to be able to make monthly interest payments on their national debt. In 1992, New Zealand's net debt stood at almost 50% of that country's gross domestic product.

There was unhappiness everywhere.

The NZ dollar has been on the same roller coaster-ride as many world currencies but at one point it fell to $0.39 US. Anyone buying New Zealand beef would have noticed a good quality product for about 1/2 the price of the same product from North American producers. It also meant New Zealanders took a national pay cut.

New Zealand used to have a bicameral parliament. Similar to many Commonwealth governments using the Westminster system New Zealand's upper house of parliament was known as the Legislative Council. Members of the Legislative Council were initially appointed for life modeled on the British House of Lords. Due to stacking by successive prime ministers however, that was changed in 1891 and MLCs served for seven years. What is little known among many Commonwealth countries is that since 1914 New Zealand had legislation in place to elect, by proportional representation, the Legislative Council for a fixed period of six years. And they never followed through. Instead, in 1951, the NZ government abolished the upper house. To cause the Legislative Council to vote FOR the idea of upper house abolition, then prime minister Sidney Holland appointed twenty members to the Legislative Council to vote for their own abolition. They were known as the "suicide squad".

The abolition of the upper house of the New Zealand parliament was intended to be an interim measure until new legislation to create a second chamber of parliament could be passed. Nothing has happened and New Zealand, for better or for worse, remains unicameral.

Anyway, back to the legislation in question.

The New Zealand parliament has decided that, in order to ameliorate a situation which can clearly be held out as censorship, it would provide a continuous, unedited, streamed broadcast of parliament, available on the internet, whenever the House is sitting.

That's fair enough, but the rules associated with that streaming broadcast are somewhat draconian. You can watch parliament, and you can go to the pub and discuss what you saw, but don't take a portion of that taxpayer-funded broadcast and make anything but a favourable public comment. It's now against the law.

There is some comfort to be taken from this event, however. It's nice to know that New Zealand's politicians aren't terribly different from ours: Self-serving, feckless, egotistical, thin-skinned wanks.

Which one of these is peddling crap?

For the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, these people are getting weirder with each passing day. Max Blumenthal crashes the Christians United for Israel conference and leads it off with disgraced former US congressman Tom Delay hoping for the second coming of Christ. Further on, the leader of this Christian organization calls for an immediate US strike on Iran.

Salvage points out that in Canada the same type of nutball doesn't get to lead the wingnut party of Canada. (But he gets to be the Public Safety Minister).

In other Christian events:
The mail-order minister of a Hollywood church that burns marijuana during services and allegedly sells it to members says that's protected under federal law because the drug is a religious sacrament. But Judge Mary Strobel has ruled that the Reverend Craig X. Rubin can't use federal law as a defense because he faces only state charges. Rubin, who's representing himself at his drug trial, says members of his Temple 420 believe that marijuana is the tree of life mentioned in the Bible. Though ordained in 1990 by the Universal Life Church, police and prosecutors describe Rubin as a drug dealer. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of possessing marijuana for sale. The 41-year-old Rubin has no legal experience, and says he spent last weekend praying and smoking marijuana with Indians in a sweat lodge at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
I have a lot to say about this, but I need to deal with a plantar wart.

What's wrong with this picture?

From Cap'n Dyke we get this photo:

This is a picture, taken by Tampen, of the new ferry terminal opened on the west side of Manhattan providing commuter service across the Hudson River.

What's the problem with the photo? Well, this:
There's no sign forbidding photography, however, and I wandered along the walkway snapping to my heart's content. Then a large security guard sprinted up the stairs and ordered me to halt.
Because taking a photo of a new (and impressive) ferry terminal is a threat to national security. Click on the picture for Tampen's whole story. The comments are also worth reading.

And in the category of You can't make this shit up, NetWizard points out that some US government departments are, in fact, making up their own rules, and they're not very good at it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Gift From Above . . . .

CQ TODAY MIDDAY UPDATE July 26, 2007 – 1:45 p.m.
Senate Democrats Request Special Prosecutor to Investigate Gonzales

Four Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday asked the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales lied under oath to Congress.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., subpoenaed White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings, a White House political aide, for testimony and documents, setting an Aug. 2 deadline that the White House is likely to ignore.

“If there are any cooler heads at the White House, I urge them to reconsider the course that they have taken because there is a cloud over the White House and a gathering storm,” Leahy said on the Senate floor.

The quartet of senators — Charles E. Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — convinced that Gonzales has repeatedly committed perjury in congressional testimony, most recently during a July 24 appearance before the Judiciary panel — asked Solicitor General Paul D. Clement to name a special counsel from outside the department to investigate.

“His instinct is not to tell the truth, but to dissemble and deceive,” Schumer said.

Source: CQ Today Midday Update

Heh, heh, heh . . . .

(Cross-posted from Moving to Vancouver)

And the big knives haven't even come out yet Guiliani.

You might remember back here that I provided a sample of Lower Manahattanite's predictions on the knives that would soon be out amongst the citizens of New York City to shank once-NYC-mayor and now Republican presidential hopeful, Rudy Guiliani.

Damned if he wasn't right on the mark as the International Association of Firefighters, a week after Lower Manhattanite foretold it, produced a video which tears into Guiliani declaring him and his actions on September 11th, 2001, an urban myth.
“We have the remains of dead heroes at the garbage dump because of Giuliani and his administration and they’re still there today and they won’t remove them,” claims FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches on the DVD.
A little later Greg Sargent at TPM Cafe searched out a video of Guiliani screaming "Bullshit!" at a (ahem!) rally of off-duty New York City policemen. Guiliani had lost his bid to claim the NYC mayor's chair three years earlier to David Dinkins, New York's only black mayor. The police protest was over changes Dinkins was proposing, not the least of which was the requirement for the cops to live in the NYC boroughs. The video clip, which Sargent hoped to use to demonstrate Guiliani's reliability and temperament got a reaction from some of the elite of the right-wing dumbosphere namely, Michelle Malkin, Ann Althouse and, one who describes womens' vaginas as a mixture of bacon and playdough, Ace Of Spades.

Of course, all of them are attempting to dismiss Guiliani's moment of profanity as little more than an effective word for the occasion, (a police rally), and an attempt by TPM to hack Guiliani in an out of context video intended to shock the tender ears of "values" voters.

Except that the video is only a short sample of what was going on that day. None of Malkin, Althouse nor even Ace, live in NYC and clearly didn't take the time to dig into the reason that clip exists.

They could have asked Lower Manhattanite. If they had, they might not have written a word.
See, that clip, is a snippet of what went down at that rally that day. Rudy SCREAMED "Bullshit!" several times during his screed as a punctuation to pointed lines. I remember the news reports of that day, and they were quite reticent to show him whipping that crowd up, so they edited that portion of the rally. But...they can't edit history. And I know the history verrrrr-rrrrrry well.


That fateful September day, between 9,000 and 10,000 cops showed up for Rudy's "pro-police" rally. To give you an idea of how many cops that was, NYPD force levels were considerably less than what they are today. Back then, the force was about 29,000 strong. Nearly a third of the force turned out that day. One out of every three cops in NY were there, just beyond the mayor's door. Screaming. Angry. And yes, a lot of 'em were drunk.


I was told by my co-worker not to come downtown that day for good reason. There was police-perpetrated anarchy in the streets downtown...and Black folks had a lot to be afraid of in Lower Manhattan that day. I remember the news footage. Cops jumping up and down on cars in the area. Harassing citizens. Drunk and disorderly—and in no mood to be civil to Black folks.
Rudy Guiliani, you see, had, according to most news outlets that day, used a pro-police rally to incite a riot - among off-duty cops - with strong racial overtones. The off-duty policemen rushed city hall and prevented one city councilor from entering the building while addressing her in the basest possible racist language.

And the thing that fomented this whole event wants to be president of the United States. Wouldn't the world love that following the worst president in history.

You need to read the whole thing. It's remarkably delicious and, well, Lower Manhattanite's style just adds to the joy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

They're hiding something BIG. Very BIG

Glenn Greenwald's dissection of the form of language used by Alberto Gonzales during questioning in the US Senate is starting to shed a light on the existence of "other intelligence activities" which have been hidden from view during the various congressional investigations into Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.
Ever since George Bush came right out in December, 2005 and admitted spying on Americans without the warrants required by law, the administration has been playing the same rhetorical game. From the beginning, when asked questions about the scope of their spying activities (are you eavesdropping on domestic calls, too? opening mail with no warrants? entering homes with no warrants?), they have carefully confined their denials to "the specific program which the President confirmed" -- i.e., the specific "Terrorist Surveillance Program the NYT revealed. They have always made clear that there are "other intelligence programs" that we do not know about and which are excluded from all of their public assurances.
And further:
It has been clear for a long time that there are "other intelligence activities" beyond the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" which are clearly illegal. And any doubt about that was dispelled entirely when James Comey testified, since his whole point was that whatever it was that they were doing prior to March of 2004 to spy on Americans was so illegal that he, John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller all threatened to quit if it continued.
It would stand to reason that when the New York Times discovered and then reported the NSA warrantless wiretap program, that journal only got a part of the whole story. The result was that the Bush administration, feigning outrage at the disclosure, was prepared to throw a bone to the hungry pack, secure in the knowledge that the worst of the administration's unconstitutional activities had escaped scrutiny.

Securing information and preventing any public disclosure of those "other intelligence activities" became a paramount consideration. The reason for hiding the information could have little to do with current national security requirements. Remember, Comey, Ashcroft and Mueller were going to quit if it continued. That they stayed on indicates that, whatever the Bush administration was doing, it stopped in March of 2004. The only reason then, to hide it is to prevent a sea of outrage over administration activities which were undoubtedly grossly illegal.

The need to tightly secure the information might also explain other recent events.

Bush refusing to allow aides to testify before Congress, claiming Executive Privilege, then refusing to allow Congress to have a US attorney bring contempt of congress charges against those called to testify. Once before Congress witness either testify honestly or risk being charged with perjury. The Bush administration cannot afford to have questions on those "other intelligence activities" asked at all.

The refusal by the Bush administration to allow access to a member of the Homeland Security Committee to classified portions of information relating to the operation of government after a terrorist attack. There is likely a reference, amongst all those classified documents, to programs and plans which either exist or could be executed quickly.

Finally, there is Bush making renewed, constant and steady references to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in recent speeches. Certainly there is a fear that information regarding any illegal program will eventually leak, and Bush needs to have al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden well planted in peoples' minds as a means to defend any illegal activities.

What is starting to come clear, in any case, is that Bush's assault on the US Constitution is probably far more extensive than just the warrentless wiretap program.

He didn't just ignore it; he left it in shreds.

Integrating Pollution . . . . .

How's that Kinder-Morgan Deep Integration thing workin' out for 'ya, Canada?

Kinder Morgan to acquire Terasen

Aug 2, 2005 7:05 AM

Kinder Morgan Inc, Houston TX, is acquiring Terasen Inc, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for $5.6 billion.

Yesterday we get this result :

Huge Burnaby oil spill

12-metre geyser from broken pipeline empties homes
Derrick Penner and Kelly Sinoski, With Files From Catherine, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A 12-metre geyser of crude oil spewed from a broken pipeline in a Burnaby neighbourhood Tuesday, forcing people from their homes, contaminating the area and sending a thick, smelly torrent down storm sewers and into Burrard Inlet.

Aerial view of the area of Inlet Drive and Ridge Drive where a Kinder Morgan crude oil pipeline was ruptured Tuesday afternoon. The geyser of oil coated roads, vehicles and homes.
Aerial view of the area of Inlet Drive and Ridge Drive where a Kinder Morgan
crude oil pipeline was ruptured Tuesday afternoon. The geyser of oil coated
roads, vehicles and homes.
Photograph by : Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

Back in the spring of '05 we had our first Letter to the Editor published in the Vancouver Sun. In it we suggested that selling Canadian assets to outfits like Kinder-Morgan was ill advised.

We rest our case . . . .

(Cross-Posted from Moving to Vancouver)

Hillier drops a bomb on Harper and O'Connor

Well, it's about friggin' time! Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier has dropped a huge bomb on Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's and Steve Harper's plan to create new and unnecessary army units.
The federal Conservatives' campaign promise to create new army units across the country appears to be in doubt after the country's top soldier suggested the proposed units are unnecessary.

The Conservative party's Canada First defence plan included proposals to establish a new airborne regiment and as many as 14 territorial defence battalions stationed in cities across the country.

But in an exclusive interview with CBC News, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier says some of the proposed new units are unnecessary.

Hillier said there are no plans to revive the airborne regiment, which was disbanded in 1995 after Canadian soldiers beat a Somali teenager to death during a peacekeeping deployment to the African country.

"We're meeting all the operational demands that we would possibly have to meet with an airborne capability right now," said Hillier.

Each of Canada's three regular force infantry units fields a company of about 120 paratroopers, he said.

And then, since he trashed one Conservative Party promise, he decided to toss a little lime on the manure pile.

The general also poured cold water on Conservative plans to create up to 14 territorial defence battalions.

"We're not in the business of creating new units. We have sufficient units," he said.

Further on, Hillier stated that the reserves would be altered to meet the "spirit" of the CPoC promise.

That will be interesting, but not near as interesting to see what happens next.

Hillier has just plainly spoken common sense in opposition to a plan which was one of O'Connor's hobby horses.

One of them will have to go.

The O'Connor deathwatch continues.

H/T James Curran

Creationism in school. It's not just for Kansas anymore.

You get the best stuff from PZ Myers. He sends us off to DefCon Blog for this wonderful bit of information:
Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Don McLeroy to head the State Board of Education. Unfortunately for Texas schoolchildren, McLeroy has, for years, fought against the teaching of fact-based science in public schools, instead casting vote after vote in favor of his religious ideology.
Yup. And it gets worse. McLeroy is anti-birth control, anti-sex education (if it teaches anything but abstinence-only) and anti-abortion. From the Austin Statesman:
As chair, McLeroy leads a board of 10 Republicans and five Democrats. Divisions on the board aren't just partisan. McLeroy, a self-described social conservative, is one of eight Republicans who vote as a bloc on nearly all issues. He has a reputation for civility even while casting votes that are based more on ideology than on science or facts.

In 2001, McLeroy and a majority of the board rejected the only Advanced Placement textbook for high school environmental science because its views on global warming and other events didn't comport with the beliefs of the board majority. The book wasn't factual and was anti-American and anti-Christian, the majority claimed. Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities were using the textbook, including Baylor University, the nation's largest Baptist college.

In 2003, McLeroy voted against approving biology textbooks that included a full-scale scientific account of evolutionary theory. The books were approved.

McLeroy seems stranded in a Beaver Cleaver universe that is light years from the reality of today's schools.
Y'all gather that in. This is, as Bad Astronomy points out:
Brilliant! This guy doesn’t understand the most basic principles of biology, and he’s going to chair the State Board of Education. And hey, if he doesn’t understand something, why should it be taught at all?
Ah yes... religious fundamentalism. It's all in the book. The only book. Life must be so easy for the likes of McLeroy.

Get out the popcorn. This is going to be as good as Kansas.

"It's a joke." US soldier assesses "The Surge"

Here's what Bush's "surge" is accomplishing. Via LeDaro and ThinkProgress. The video provided by ThinkProgress is a segment of the ABC Nightline report provided by a journalist embedded with a group of US soldiers for two weeks. The words that seem to have caught everyone's attention is:
I challenge the President or whoever has us here for 15 months to ride alongside me. I’ll do another 15 months if he comes out here and rides along with me every day for 15 months. I’ll do 15 more months. They don’t even have to pay me extra.
Have no fear. That is never going to happen. The guy who ultimately made the decision to have that soldier there couldn't see his way clear to finish his military obligation in a unit not committed to combat. His advisers, most of his cabinet and most assuredly the cheerleaders at PNAC wouldn't come within a thousand miles of a combat zone without slipping in their own shit.

The one line that actually caught my attention however, was this one by Corporal Joshua Lake:
It's a joke. We'll have spent fourteen months "in contact". Basically, fighting all fourteen months.
Now there have probably been a few breaks, but there is no indication from what Lake says that there has been any significant rotation out of the combat area. His description of the situation he and his troops are facing is: four to six hours dealing with combat, improvised explosive devices, searches, etc. and then four to six hours off, which would be insufficient rest under any circumstances.

For months on end. If the unit's continuous "in contact" time was only twelve of those fourteen months, the number of days of combat exposure would have exceeded 350.

By comparison, in the 2nd World War the troops that landed on the beaches on D-Day, June 6th, 1944 and fought their way into Germany took 335 days. One of the longest continuous stretches of "in contact" time during that eastward campaign was 73 days, and that was considered excessive.

A number of studies have attributed increased combat exposure to increased risk of symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. What is also clear is that there is a direct correlation between combat exposure and later substance abuse, chronic unemployment, relationship breakdown and spousal abuse.

Corporal lake is absolutely correct. Bush's "surge" is a joke - for Bush and company. For the "boots on the ground" it is horror show and once they come home, it will get worse.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Richistan. Taking too much from the company store.

Warren Buffett is documented as the third richest man in the world. On an income of $46 million he is taxed at a rate of 17.7 percent. His secretary, who earns $60,000 annually, is taxed at a rate of 30 percent.

Who's complaining about this? Warren Buffett.

Even he and people like Bill Gates can recognize that such a tax system and such a misalignment of wealth in a developed country like the United States is a recipe for disaster.
Mr Buffett, who runs the investment group Berkshire Hathaway and is widely regarded as the world’s most successful investor, said that he was a Democrat because Republicans are more likely to think: “I’m making $80 million a year – God must have intended me to have a lower tax rate.”
None of this is passing without notice. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens, the jungle is beginning to get a little noisy, and as the rich get very rich, it is becoming obvious that they are eating a hole in the all important middle class and driving the poor further down the human scale of mere existence.
Defenders of low tax for the very rich point to the theory of trickledown economics - the spending power of the rich benefiting the poor. But while the super-rich have boomed, the earning power of the average and poor citizen has not nearly matched the performance of the elite. In 2005 the top one per cent of earners in the US gained 14 per cent in income in real terms, while the rest of the country gained less than one per cent. The situation is especially bad for the severely poor - those living at half the poverty level - whose numbers are at a 32-year high. The rich are getting richer but are not bringing everyone else with them. 'If you look at the impact of the last 20 years it seems pretty clear that trickledown just does not work,' said Paul Buchheit, economics professor at Chicago's Harold Washington College.
It doesn't take a genius to build a quick picture of how the system is working in favour of the rich. The middle class is literally awash in debt. And for every credit card purchase which will not be paid off within 30 days, some bank, or hedge fund manager drags in more money than the value of the original purchase - for doing virtually nothing.
A common but misplaced assumption is that the growth in debt among middle-income families — those with incomes roughly between $25,000 to $70,000 a year — is the result of over-consumption through increased credit card debt. Rather, growth in debt is primarily due to heavier borrowing for investments in homes or education, both of which saw dramatic price increases in recent years. The cost of a college education, for example, grew by 24.6% between 2001 and 2004, after adjusting for inflation.
Then we have the George W. Bush system of taxation which, as anyone with a functioning synapse can see, will never favour those without pre-exisiting bags of money. Banks have now developed reputations which rival that of used-car dealers. A customer walks out the door knowing he/she has been stiffed.

And while the wealthy get richer and spend their money on items not generally considered useful for the majority of working people, those who are attempting to buy the staples of life in a developed country, (a home; childrens' education; a chance to retire eating something other than cat food}, spend more than they earn. The beneficiaries of that spending are the same wealthy few who created the situation for the middle-class in the first place.

Declare bankruptcy? Not in the US. The banks, whose earnings are going though the financial roof, pushed for legislation which put a crimp on that type of consumer protection. If you owe, you pay - for the rest of your life, if necessary.

What everyone seems to be missing is that it cannot last. The death of the middle-class, as Warren Buffett is well aware, means the death of the wealthy. If the middle-class, enmasse, becomes so overwhelmed in debt they will eventually just stop paying. Then the yachts, the mega-mansions and the $1000 omelettes will also end. And with the end of those luxuries will end the economy generated by those items. The rich will lose their goodies and those who provide them will lose their jobs.

It will be the end of the second Gilded Age. It will also spell the death of the conservative movement, but not without taking the entire economy with it.

Gonzales' memory

Either he's lying or he has the worst memory of attorneys-general in US history.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales denied Tuesday that he and former White House chief of staff Andy Card pressured then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to recertify President Bush's domestic surveillance program during a now-famous 2004 hospital visit.

Gonzales said that he and Card had been urged by congressional leaders of both parties to ensure that the terrorist surveillance program survive a looming deadline for its expiration. To do that, Gonzales said, he needed the permission of Ashcroft, then the attorney general. Ashcroft at the time was in an intensive care unit recovering from gall bladder surgery.

''We went there because we thought it was important for him to know where the congressional leadership was on this,'' Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his first public explanation of the meeting.

''Clearly if he had been competent and understood the facts and had been inclined to do so, yes we would have asked him,'' Gonzales added.

Which kind of flies in the face of the testimony of James B. Comey, then Ashcroft's deputy attorney general and, because of Ashcroft's medical condition, the person with the authority to extend the eavesdropping program.

In vivid testimony to th Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Comey said he alerted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and raced, sirens blaring, to join Ashcroft in his hospital room, arriving minutes before Gonzales and Card. Ashcroft, summoning the strength to lift his head and speak, refused to sign the papers they had brought. Gonzales and Card, who had never acknowledged Comey's presence in the room, turned and left.

The sickbed visit was the start of a dramatic showdown between the White House and the Justice Department in early 2004 that, according to Comey, was resolved only when Bush overruled Gonzales and Card. But that was not before Ashcroft, Comey, Mueller and their aides prepared a mass resignation, Comey said. The domestic spying by the National Security Agency continued for several weeks without Justice approval, he said.

"I was angry," Comey testified. "I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me."

Perhaps it's time Gonzales exercised his mind a little. Some basic techniques might help him remember a little more. Not that he needs to, I suppose. Given the fact that the rule of law appears to have gone completely off the rails in the Bush administration, remembering facts is just plain inconvenient.

Personally, I'm waiting for the day when Gonzales leaves politics and writes a "tell-all" book. It should be the perfect Republican tome.

One blank page, handsomely bound with a gilded title: I Can't Recall