The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

"CAN I HAVE 10,000 MARBLES, PLEASE?" -- A classic line from the film "Animal House" and apparently not as far-fetched as you might think.
LONDON (Reuters) - A woman with an apparently insatiable sweet tooth stunned staff at a British shop when she bought more than 10,000 chocolate bars and had them loaded into her chauffeur-driven limousine.

The woman asked staff at a north London Woolworths branch for every single Mars bar in stock -- 10,656 of them packed in 220 boxes -- and paid for them in cash with 50 pound notes, a Woolworths spokesman said on Wednesday.

The total bill was 2,131 pounds ($3,828).

"It was very, very strange but nobody thought to ask her why she wanted so many," the spokesman said.

"It would usually take us a month to shift that number of chocolate bars," he added.
That's one hell of a sweet tooth.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

RUSH BURNS IN HELL -- You might have thought the torture and murder of prisoners by American soldiers was a terrible sin. Unless, of course, you're a fan of Rush Limbaugh. Or Rush Limbaugh himself. A caller to Rush's show remarked that piling all those naked Iraqi men on top of each other so they could be photographed and videotaped was not torture at all, but "like a college fraternity prank." Rush responded thusly:
Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the skull and bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off?
Well, how about that? Of course, these prison guards don't get shot at, but why let a little fact like that get in the way? Let's face it, after a hard day of work, who among us doesn't like to go home, relax with some soft music, and then unwind by forcing defenseless men to simulate oral sex with each other in front of a camera? Eh?

On a more serious note, I was wondering what sort of infernal punishment you get for saying things like this? I mean, sure, Rush's speech is protected by the First Amendment here on Earth, but I'm not sure that extends to the Afterlife. So what happens to ol' Rushbo here? Will he have his skin burned slowly from his bones by the fires of Hell or will a millions slimy maggots eat away his flesh over the course of an eternity? Which one?

IT GETS WORSE -- Murder:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has investigated the deaths of 25 prisoners held by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and determined that two prisoners were murdered by Americans, one an Army soldier and the other a CIA contractor, Army officials said on Tuesday.

An Army official said that a soldier was convicted in the U.S. military justice system of killing a prisoner by hitting him with a rock, and was reduced in rank to private and thrown out of the service but did not serve any jail time.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a private contractor who worked for the CIA was found to have committed the other homicide against a prisoner.

Word of these investigations came as the Pentagon continued to investigate the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.
If something is not done quickly, we're going to lose our honor in this war.

THAT NUTJOB MIGHT BE USEFUL! -- Will former Alabama state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore run for President on the the Constitution Party ticket? And if so, what effect will his religious right views have on Mr Bush's base? Read.

McCAIN SOUNDS OFF -- The following is from an interview held just minutes ago on Capitol Hill, after a closed-door meeting of the Senate Armed Service Committee.
SEN. MCCAIN: Could I just say that we received a briefing from the Army personnel as to the status of the investigation. And I think that they are trying to do the best they can under the circumstances.

The dissatisfaction in the committee is that we were not informed as to the investigation nor the results of the investigation. And the way that we were informed, of course, was through media reports. The Congress should have been notified of this situation a long time ago. It's a neglect of the responsibilities that Secretary Rumsfeld and the civilian leaders of the Pentagon have to keep the Congress informed of an issue of this magnitude.

We need to have a hearing as soon as possible with Secretary Rumsfeld testifying, and other service secretaries, if necessary, as to how this whole situation evolved, what action is being taken, and what further action needs to be taken to prevent a recurrence of this terrible situation.

Finally, could I just say that yesterday I attended the memorial service for a brave young American, Pat Tillman. And here we have the contrast between the service and sacrifice of an outstanding and brave young -- and honorable man, and what is obviously dishonorable conduct by a few, which unfortunately besmirches the entire reputation of these wonderful young men and women.

Finally, we've got to find out what oversight took place there in the situation and why there wasn't better oversight, and whether there was civilian, meaning intelligence or contractor involvement in this situation as well.

Q You say that Congress should have been informed.

SEN. MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

Q Is it a problem that "60 Minutes" knew about this two weeks ago, and then withheld that, and even members of Congress did not know about it?

SEN. MCCAIN: It is a severe problem. But it is a pattern on the part of the Defense Department of not keeping the Congress informed on a variety of issues. But this is really egregious.

Q There's been some suggestion, sir, that this is standard procedure, in some sense, for interrogating personnel, enemy personnel; that they were, quote-unquote, trying to "soften them up"; and that further, the enlisted people who carried out these acts were instructed to do that and only following orders. And I'd like your reaction to that.

SEN. MCCAIN: We'll find -- well, obviously, I have no way of knowing that, but rules for the treatment of prisoners of war are very clear. There is no justification for this kind of treatment.

Q Are you surprised apparently to learn today that this went beyond Iraq; that there's trouble, possibly, in Afghanistan and Guantanamo?

SEN. MCCAIN: There are so many allegations swirling around this situation, that we must have a public hearing, with the secretary of Defense testifying, in order to clear up all of these allegations. Not an hour goes by that there isn't an additional allegation. And unfortunately, the Congress in general and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular has been, up until this morning, been kept completely in the dark. The 53-page report has been sent to the media before it has been sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which it's supposed to arrive sometime today. That's quite a commentary.

Q Senator, Rumsfeld and Myers have indicated over the weekend that they hadn't even read this report yet. They -- (inaudible) -- details. Does that surprise you?

SEN. MCCAIN: It's surprising, but I want them to be able to respond to all of these questions, not just to the Congress, but the American people. So I can't make claims of misconduct or good conduct until we have a full and complete hearing of the situation.
...
Q Can you characterize how this affects the image of America abroad?

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, obviously it's harmful to an enormous degree. And I only pray that the thousands, millions of acts of generosity and kindness displayed by American military personnel to the Iraqi people will be taken into consideration at some time.
Senator McCain has got it just right. It's an outrage that the Pentagon has known of these problems for months and did nothing to alert Congress. The media found out about it first. The New Yorker and CBS News saw the 53-page internal Pentagon report before Congress did. It's a scandal within a larger scandal.

A good way to put Congress into a severe investigatory mood is to insult them and treat them as if they don't matter. The Bush admin has been doing that for years. It might finally be catching up with them.

BLEEDING IRAQ -- Violence flared in Najaf and Karbala today.
NAJAF, Iraq – Militiamen launched a barrage of mortar shells against a U.S. base in this holy city and government buildings guarded by Bulgarian forces in Karbala on Tuesday, a day after intense clashes in Najaf that killed up to 20 Iraqis.

No coalition troops were killed in the violence, but four U.S. soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division died after their vehicle overturned during a combat patrol north of Baghdad, according to the Army.

U.S. artillery, meanwhile, shelled rebel positions late Monday after insurgents fired on aircraft near Baghdad airport. Four Iraqi insurgents were killed, the military said Tuesday.
No end in sight.

THE PROS BREAK THEIR SILENCE -- We already know the Bush admin has no respect for the talents of professional diplomats. They make what passes for diplomacy in this administration out of the Pentagon or the office of the National Security Advisor and they do it very poorly. Apparently, 60 former U.S. diplomats have had enough of the amateurism that is costing the U.S. influence around the world and leading to bloodshed in Iraq. They're speaking out in an open letter to Mr Bush, accusing him of bungling the Middle East peace process by favoring the hard-right policies of Ariel Sharon and the West Bank settlers over a wider peace in that region. Bravo!

YEAH, THAT'S ABOUT RIGHT -- Josh Marshall looks at the dismal failure of Bush admin policy in Iraq and nails it:
There's all this talk about what might be the best critique of the president's policies (politically and substantively), what the best alternative policies might be, and so forth. But all of that, I think, misses the point. This president is too compromised by his deceptions, his past lack of accountability and his acquiescence in failed policies, ever to correct the situation. Like C.S. Lewis's metaphor about the road to hell being easy to walk down, but the further walked, harder and harder to turn back upon, this president is just too far gone with misleading the public, covering up and indulging incompetence, and embracing venality ever to make a clean break and start retrieving the situation.
That's exactly right. This isn't getting better while Mr Bush is in office. He won't change, he can't change. He refuses to even acknowledge there are problems. He has to go for things to get better.

SECRETS & LIES -- Whether it is national security or Medicare, the Bush administration has a nasty habit of keeping secrets for political reasons and then releasing the information at a time when it is more politically convenient to do so. National security procedures are being absued by this adminstration and a growing number of people are realizing it.