Saturday, August 28, 2004

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There's Still Time, Brother!
Wall Street going soft on Bush

Brad DeLong has a post about the waning support for Bush among the nation's financial leaders (are these guys slow learners, or what?). Quoting the Financial Times:
Wall Street's enthusiasm for US President George W. Bush appears to have cooled as the presidential race tightens and concerns grow about foreign policy and fiscal deficits. Some leading fundraisers of Mr Bush's re-election bid have stopped active campaigning and others privately voice reservations.

The New York financial community is expected to give the Republicans a lavish welcome when the president's party arrives for its national convention next week. Wall Street has been a big contributor to Mr Bush's record-breaking re-election fund. But one senior Wall Street figure, once talked of as a possible Bush cabinet member, said that he and other prominent Republicans had been raising money with increasing reluctance. “Many are doing so with a heavy heart and some not at all.” He cited foreign policy and the ballooning federal deficit as Wall Street Republicans' main concerns.
What's really fascinating is the way Brad ends his post, suggesting that there is still time for a Republican coup that replaces Bush with some other nominee. Come on, Brad. There are slow learners, and then there are real slow learners.

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Welcome to New York!
Need directions?

Be sure and check out this
picture at Kos, as well as plans by some modern day Merry Pranksters who will be going out of their way to help those nice GOP delegates:
Hoping to turn the Big Apple rotten for Republicans, protesters are plotting enough mischief to try to ensure that delegates won't be wearing "I Love NY" T-shirts home from their party's political convention next week.

Groups called RNC Not Welcome, Counter Convention, Shut It Down NYC and No RNC Clearinghouse are using the Internet to orchestrate a living hell for the 5,000 or so delegates and alternates coming to New York City for the Republican National Convention.

Broadway casts are being urged to call in sick on the night that all state delegations are scheduled to go to the theater. "Shadow protesters" are being recruited to disguise themselves as clean-cut volunteers and infiltrate convention hotels and events. Penetrating the convention "bubble," these "phantom volunteers" will provide wrong directions to delegates or create havoc by not showing up for their duties at key times. Armed with the times and locations of scores of GOP events, street theater groups plan to disrupt convention-connected affairs all over Manhattan.
Could be fun to see how many Utah delegates you can get to take the subway and get off in the South Bronx.


Friday, August 27, 2004

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A Spy in the House of Feith

Atrios is out in front of the story, linking to the New York Times article:
The F.B.I. is investigating a Pentagon official on suspicion of passing secrets to Israel, government officials said on Friday.

The espionage investigation has focused on an official who works in the office of Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, officials who have been briefed about the investigation said. The F.B.I. has gathered evidence that the official passed classified policy documents to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israeli lobbying group, which in turn provided the information to Israeli intelligence, the officials said.

The bureau has evidence that the Pentagon official has given the Israelis a sensitive report about American policy toward Iran, along with other materials, the officials said.

[. . .]

The Pentagon analyst who officials said was under suspicion was one of two department officials who traveled to Paris for secret meetings with Iranian dissidents, including Manucher Ghorbanifar, an arms dealer. Mr. Ghorbanifar was a central figure in the Iran-contra affair in the 1980's, in which the United States government secretly sold arms to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages in Lebanon and to finance the fighters, known as contras, opposing the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
Atrios also links to this MSNBC piece by Mark Hosenball which indicates that the subject of the investigation is either Harold Rhode or Larry Franklin, both of whom have had meetings abroad with Ghorbanifar.

Laura Rozen, who has been tracking (along with Josh Marshall and Paul Glastris) the Plame investigation and the various intrigues surrounding the fake documents related to the supposed Niger uranium, says that her information indicates that it's Larry Franklin.

As part of our reporting, I have come into possession of information that points to an official who is the most likely target of the FBI investigation into who allegedly passed intelligence on deliberations on US foreign policy to Iran to officials with the pro-Israeli lobby group, AIPAC, and to the Israelis, as alleged by the CBS report. That individual is Larry Franklin, a veteran DIA Iran analyst seconded to Feith's office.

Here is what I was told in the days before the FBI investigation came to light.

A source told me that some time in July, Larry Franklin called him and asked him to meet him in a coffee shop in Northern Virginia. Franklin had intelligence on hostile Iranian activities in Iraq and was extremely frustrated that he did not feel this intelligence was getting the attention and response it deserved. The intelligence included information that the Iranians had called all of their intelligence operatives who speak Arabic to southern Iraq, that it had moved their top operative for Afghanistan, a guy named Qudzi, to the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, that its operatives were targeting Iraqi state oil facilities, and that Iranian agents were infiltrating into northern Iraq to target the Israelis written about in a report by Seymour Hersh. According to my source, Franklin passed the information to the individual from AIPAC with the hope it could reach people at higher levels of the US government who would act on it. AIPAC presented the information to Elliot Abrams in the NSC. They also presented the part that involved Israelis who might be targeted to the Israelis, with the motivation to protect Israeli lives.

A couple weeks ago, my source told me, he was visited by two agents of the FBI, who were asking about Franklin. My source couldn't tell if Franklin was being investigated for possible wrongdoing, or if the FBI was visiting him because Franklin required some sort of higher level security clearance or clearance renewal, perhaps in order to get some sort of new position or posting abroad. My source soon after ran into another official from Feith's office, the polyglot Middle East expert and Bernard Lewis protege, Harold Rhode. My source mentioned the FBI meeting and asked Rhode if Franklin was in trouble. "It's not clear," Rhode allegedly told my source.

Meanwhile, veteran legal observer Mark Kleiman has some interesting thoughts on why this story is breaking now:
Given the FBI's general political coloration, it's hard to imagine that someone at the Bureau (apparently the source of the leak to CBS) was trying to damage the Bush campaign. Is it possible that Richard Clarke's views about the competence of the Bushies on the counter-terror front is shared in the Hoover Building? That would back up the thesis that the national security establishment has begun to defect in droves, which I'm still hoping will be the subtext of the rest of this campaign. (Note, for example, that Schwartzkopf won't be endorsing GWB for re-election.)

The other obvious guess is that someone in Main Justice was sitting on the case, and that someone in the Bureau (perhaps with a wink and a nod from his superiors) decided to go public to keep it from getting squashed. It's not quite impossible that Ashcroft's crew could have been that clueless about what they could, and couldn't, get away with.
And just to keep the conversation lively, Bill at Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse adds

This is absolutely delicious.

We can only hope this investigation opens up a broader discussion of the Office of Special Plans, the forged Niger uranium docs, and that pesky neocon-Israeli connection.

Hell, maybe we'll even find out what Mossad was doing in the US around 9/11...

I believe the Laura, Josh and Paul are going to try to answer those questions for us, just as soon as they get caught up.

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Start the Weekend Off Left
(as opposed to Right)

Before you blow all your money on sex, drugs, and rock and roll, HELP SEND SOME GOOD GUYS TO CONGRESS!

Thanks. Have a good weekend.

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Max and Jim's Road Trip to Texas
gets some kudos in Right Blogistan

Uggbugga noticed some comments at a conservative blog that indicate that the mail delivery to the Bush hog farm may have scored some points:
I have to admit, again, as theater, I love this. I also think it's whip smart. I also know, quite possibly, that it will lead the news, if only because it offers up a fairly astounding picture. The Viet Nam war vets, one in a wheelchair, arriving at the President's phoney ranch to give him a very real smackdown.
And a reader added:
My GOD, what a screebling pathetic git of a man. Sends troopers in flak jackets to bar a triple-amputee from his door?! Bush the First would've let Cleland in. Reagan would've let him in, and invited the press to watch him charm the fellow. Hell, even NIXON would've at least taken the frickin letter. Any of 'em would've shown some class, and maybe even turned the encounter to their advantage. It's just a letter fer chrissake. Signed by Senators and delivered by a decorated vet. And Bush hides out like he's gonna catch cooties or something.
Read the whole thing. It's worth it.

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The Fix is In at the FEC
Don't even pretend they're non-partisan

South Knox Bubba has discovered that the Chairman of the Federal Election Commission isn't even pretending to be neutral in this election:

If you didn't see Hardball yesterday you should read the transcript. The Chairman of the Federal Election Commission came on and gave a partisan and blatantly pro-Bush, anti-Kerry performance.

Among other things, he said that Kerry had better be careful about calling for any investigations into connections between the Bush campaign and the SBV 527 because Kerry has "big, big problems" of his own. He also said that even if the FEC was asked to investigate any ties it would take 60 days, so the outcome would be so close to the election as to make any investigation impractical.

I couldn't believe it. I knew the fix was in, but I didn't realize how deep it went. I'm even more amazed by how smug and arrogant they are about it. What a bunch of thugs. Kerry doesn't stand a chance. This is going to be the most corrupt presidential election in American history. The 2000 election was just a b-team warm-up scrimmage in comparison.

Read it all.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

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New Beltway Blog:

Being an "outside the beltway" blogger -- way outside the beltway in my case -- I value the input of those in the know who can write about what's going on in the nation's capital without sounding like total chatter-geeks.

Josh Marshall is recommending such a blog, and I'm inclined to second it.
NewDonkey.com is calling itself
"an unofficial weblog sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council, written by a veteran operative with one foot in the world of ideas and another in the world of practical politics -- in other words, a two-legged New Democrat, or new donkey."
The identity of that verteran operative remains unknown, at least to those of us who are not Josh Marshall, but I'm okay with that. Some of my favorite bloggers post anonymously.

And while I have written some about the
limitations placed on organizational blogs, unofficial or not, what I've read so far in New Donkey is going to keep me coming back on a daily basis. Check it out.

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Nothing to Offer
but fear itself.

Mark Kleiman finally understands the muddy thinking of the Bush devotees:

It's fine to disagree with the people you disagree with politically, but it's not OK in my book when you simply can't figure out what they're trying to say or why they expect anyone to believe it. So I'm always delighted when I come to understand the logical and evidentiary basis of assertions I don't accept.

For example, the flatterers of our Beloved Leader have at various times compared him to Churchill and to FDR. My first reaction to that was "Say what?" But now I see the basis of the comparison: GWB in fact incorporates the thinking of both of those great men.

Churchill, after all, said that he had "nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." Roosevelt said that the nation had "nothing to fear but fear itself."

Mr. Bush, masterfully combining their thinking, has nothing to offer but fear itself.

With just a bit of shameless self-promotion I will note that back in Februaray I wrote:
This is an election year, and George W. Bush doesn't have diddly squat to run on except fear.
Six months later and that remains ever so true.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

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Senator J.C. Christian, Patriot

My personal thanks to the General for his kindness during my time of need.

I urge all Rain Storm readers to support the General in his bid to lead the Illinois Republicans to heterosexual victory.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

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More News from the Plame Case

Amy Sullivan reports:
Time magazine White House correspondent (and Washington Monthly contributing editor) Matt Cooper is no longer being held in contempt in the investigation into who leaked former CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. Cooper, who had faced 18 months in prison, gave a deposition to prosecutors yesterday after Cheney chief-of-staff Scooter Libby released him from a promise of confidentiality.

That's good, because risking imprisonment for a principle is one thing. But going to jail for Scooter Libby? That's just not right.
As noted below, Kos got a rumor a couple days ago that John Hannah is singing and Scooter is facing indictment. Maybe we'll finally learn why this administration hates its intelligence assets so much.

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Swift Boat Liars for Bush

I'm getting real tired of this. Their lies cheapen the dignity of everyone who ever served their country. It means that anyone with enough political money backing them up can challenge the decorations of any veteran or service member. All they have to do is repeat the same lies over and over again.

Swift Boat Liar Steve Garder:
Gardner has questioned Kerry's integrity; has claimed personal knowledge of the circumstances leading to Kerry's first Purple Heart; and has spoken with authority about the events leading to Kerry's Bronze Star. Fellow anti-Kerry Swift Boat Vets member Larry Thurlow has also cited Gardner as eyewitness support for his accusations against Kerry and against Kerry's first Purple Heart.

[. . .]

Gardner admitted that "he was not on the boat with Kerry during the incidents for which Kerry got his medals,"
reported The Columbus Dispatch on August 6. And as a guest on Michael Savage's radio show, Savage Nation, on August 2, Gardner said that of Kerry's three Purple Hearts, he could only attest to the first; Gardner later admitted to Savage that he was "not on the boat with him [Kerry]" when that injury occurred. (emphasis added)
Swift Boat Liar Alfred French:
Alfred French, a Clackamas County prosecutor who also served in Vietnam, called Kerry a liar in a television ad. In an interview with The Oregonian, he acknowledged he didn't witness any of the combat incidents involving Kerry but was relying on reports from three friends who were there.

The following is the sworn affidavit of Alfred J. French III, signed July 21, 2004:

"My name is Alfred J. French III. I am over the age of 21 years, and I am fully competent and able to make this affidavit. I am able to swear, as I do hereby swear, that all facts and statements contained in this affidavit are true and correct and within my personal knowledge or belief. (emphasis added)

They bring great discredit upon themselves, their units, and the United States Navy. By association, they also shame each and every one of us who served our country honorably.

Thanks to Atrios for the links.

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Is Arizona in Play?
New numbers say race is closer

Kos picked up on news out of Phoenix that shows Kerry gaining on Bush in predominantly Republican Maricopa County. The latest poll is generating quite a bit of discussion on Kos's site as to whether or not Arizona is actually in play (and whether the national Democratic effort should be putting resources there).

Certainly the DNC believes it is. Folks in Arizona tell me that, just last weekend, a charter bus brought 50 volunteers from California to canvass neighborhoods in Flagstaff, a university town in northern Arizona that is a Democratic stronghold. Recent reports out of Coconino County (where Flagstaff is the county seat) show Democrats outpacing Republicans in new voter registrations by a 3 to 1 margin.

The new poll in Maricopa County, where about two thirds of Arizona's residents live, has Bush holding a 46-41 lead over Kerry. That compares to a 12-point Bush lead four months ago. Some 13 percent of registered voters in Maricopa County reported still being undecided. Interestingly, only 10 percent said they were undecided back in April. Clearly there is room for Kerry to pick up more support there.

Arizona Democrats seem convinced that Kerry can win the state, noting that Democrats Janet Napolitano and Terry Goddard won state-wide races for governor and attorney general just two years ago. At a minimum, the Bush campaign is going to have to spend some of its cash in Arizona, just to combat the Democratic effort there. That's money they would undoubtedly rather spend on other battleground states. But if Bush can't get Arizona's 10 electoral votes, he can't win the election.

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Big Blue Numbers
from the latest Zogby Poll

The WSJ has a graphic that shows a whole lot of blue in the battleground states. Move your pointer over a blue state and the latest poll numbers appear.

Perhaps the most telling data on the chart are the states where Kerry's lead is outside of the
margin of error: Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

Kerry is also ahead in Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee -- states that Bush won in 2000, as well as in Florida (I'm reluctant to say that Bush actually won Florida, but let's not go there right now).

At the moment, Ohio and West Virginia look like Bush will take them, and the Bush campaign needs them desperately. If the Kerry lead in the first group of states holds, and he wins any one of the southern states in that second group, that's the ball game.

Curiously excluded from the Zogby list of
battleground states are Colorado (which Rasmussen showed as a dead heat on August 19) and Arizona (where two recent polls have Bush leading by 3 points or less). A Kerry win in either of those states more than compensates for the loss of West Virginia.

It's a little early to start the victory party. There is still a lot of work to do, and only 71 days until we count the votes. Even so, it's nice to see some good news rise out of all the slime we've seen in the past couple of weeks.

Thanks to
Atrios for the WSJ link.


Monday, August 23, 2004

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Don'tcha Let that Deal Go Down
(with apologies to Jerry Garcia)

Some details are so sordid, we simply have to quote them verbatim. That is the case with
Wonkette's report on Deal Hudson, former Bush administration religion advisor and emissary to the Catholic constituency who recently resigned in the wake of a sex scandal:

Deal Hudson Eats Out
When we first heard that Bush adviser Deal Hudson was resigning over inappropriate sexual relations with an 18-year-old, we hoped that it meant we'd finally get to hear someone proudly proclaim themselves to be a "borderline pedophile American." But no. Instead, Hudson's resignation came in the form of a National Review Online column and contained such out-of-the-box post-scandal palaver as "[the scandal is] now being dug up, I believe, for political reasons." Ya think? Whatever, let's skip to the dirty part, which as recounted in the National Catholic Reporter is like the sex scandal reporting equivalent of a Victorian romance novel -- it's all the more exciting for what they can't say. For instance: "Hudson performed a sexual act on Poppas [the barely legal girl in question]. He asked her to reciprocate, which she did." Yowza. What could this sexual act possibly be? (If only this story were being reported by The Note, who might blow the lid off of the whole thing as Hudson goes down. Sorry, that last part was for insiders only.)

But our favorite part of the story has to be the coda to that wild night of reciprocated sexual acts, wherein Hudson asks Pappas not to tell anyone about their mutual pleasuring over dinner at a "McDonald's in the South Bronx." What, no Happy Meal?

* * * * * * * *

Plame Update (or Rumor Control)
Hannah is singing; indictment for Scooter?

From Kos via Atrios:
I've received some unsubstantiated rumors that Fitzgerald's office is nearing the end of its investigation, and that it will issue three indictments including Scooter Libby. According to these rumors, John Hannah, a Libby deputy, has been "turned" by the investigators and is singing like a canary. Hannah has already been linked to the case. If indeed he has turned state's witness, it would present a major breakthrough in the case.
With the investigation getting up to Vice-Dear Leader Cheney's chief-of-staff (which is, of course, only a rumor), it makes me wonder about the rumor I heard last week -- the one about replacing Cheney with McCain on the Republican ticket for November.

I believe that Karl Rove is capable of thinking in those terms. I don't think George W. Bush is.

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A Lynching in Tuskegee?

Professor Kim links to
Hungry Blues who saw this article in the Montgomery Advertiser:

Man hanging from tree investigated

TUSKEGEE -- Tuskegee police still are investigating the death of 29-year-old Winston Deroyal Carter, who was found hanging from a tree on County Road 65 in Tuskegee.

Tuskegee Police Chief Lester Patrick said a passerby noticed something hanging from a tree, but needed a second look. The passerby turned his car around, discovered Carter hanging from the tree and immediately called the police at 6:15 a.m. Friday.

Carter's body was sent to the state crime lab to determine the cause of death. However, Patrick said that from information his department has gathered about the case, he is leaning toward suicide. (emphasis added)

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Wall Street AME Church, with burial in the church cemetery.

Suicide? Last time I lived in the South, hanging one's self from a tree along a county road was not the preferred method of suicide. But maybe times have changed. Or else not.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

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The Voices of Those
who were there!

I realize I haven't commented on the accusations made by the Swift Boat Liars for Bush against John Kerry. Like many other veterans, I find the fact that they would lie about the honorable combat service of a fellow veteran simply to further a political agenda to be absolutely disgusting.

There is plenty of information available about who the Swift Boat Liars are, how they are funded, what they really stand for, and their difficulties with their facts. There is no need for me to go into that.

But I am going to share three links. These are the words of men who were actually there, and who categorically refute the accusations of the Swift Boat Liars .

First is Jim Rassmann. He is fairly well-known now, since he joined the Kerry campaign as an unpaid volunteer several months ago. I've heard Jim speak in person a few times. He was the young Special Forces officer that John Kerry pulled out of the river when their boats were under attack. I feel a certain kinship with him, since I spent a little time in the special operations community myself.

Jim is a humble, plain-spoken man. Retired now, he spent a career in law enforcement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after separating from the Army.
Here is the Kerry Campaign video of Jim Rassmann telling his own story about what happened. Sign the petition if you want to, then click on Play Video, choose your settings, click the Rassmann link, and click Play Video again.

William Rood, an editor with the Chicago Tribune (registration required), has come in from the cold. He commanded one of the other 2 Swift Boats that were on the river with John Kerry's boat on February 28, 1969. In
Rood's own words:
There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago--three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969.

One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other.

For years, no one asked about those events. But now they are the focus of skirmishing in a presidential election with a group of swift boat veterans and others contending that Kerry didn't deserve the Silver Star for what he did on that day, or the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for other actions.

Many of us wanted to put it all behind us--the rivers, the ambushes, the killing. Ever since that time, I have refused all requests for interviews about Kerry's service--even those from reporters at the Chicago Tribune, where I work.

But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there.

Even though Kerry's own crew members have backed him, the attacks have continued, and in recent days Kerry has called me and others who were with him in those days, asking that we go public with our accounts.

I can't pretend those calls had no effect on me, but that is not why I am writing this. What matters most to me is that this is hurting crewmen who are not public figures and who deserved to be honored for what they did. My intent is to tell the story here and to never again talk publicly about it.
It's well worth reading his entire piece, especially since he intends to never discuss it again.

Two days ago another eye witness emerged, this one through a
small newspaper in Telluride, Colorado, and was noticed by the Suburban Guerrilla:
Since I happened to be along on one of the "excursions" where the boats that we were on were attacked and after which Lt. Kerry was cited for valor, I thought it appropriate to give my recollection of that event. This happened on March 13, 1969. I was assigned as Psychological Operation Officer for the Swift Boat group out of An Thoi, Vietnam, from January 1969 to October 1969. As such, I was on No. 43 boat, skippered by Don Droz who was later that year killed by enemy fire. We were second in line while exiting the river and going through the opening in a fish trap when a mine blew up under the No. 3 boat directly in front of us and we started taking small arms fire from the beach. Almost immediately, another mine went off somewhere behind us. All boats, except the one hit, immediately wheeled toward the beach that most of the fire came from (a tactic devised by Lt. Kerry, I later learned) and commenced showering the beaches with so much lead, that it could probably be now mined there. The noise was of course, deafening.

Three things that are forever pictured in my mind since that day over 30 years ago are: (1) The No. 3, 50-foot long, Swift boat getting huge, huge air; John Kerry thought it was about two feet. (He was farther away from it than I). I think it was at least four feet and probably closer to six feet; (2) All the boats turning left and letting loose at the same time like a deadly, choreographed dance and; (3) A few minutes later, John Kerry bending over his boat picking up one of the rangers that we were ferrying from out of the water. All the time we were taking small arms fire from the beach; although because of our fusillade into the jungle, I don't think it was very accurate, thank God. Anyone who doesn't think that we were being fired upon must have been on a different river.
If you need more, Digby recommends both eRiposte and The Daily Beast. Kevin Drum (before he went on vacation) also has some good information beginning here.

In true Atrios fashion, I have to ask: Why do Karl Rove and his surrogate scum buckets hate America's veterans so much?


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