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Hello, hello, hello!

This weekend I am going to work on cleaning up the pictures from Greece and finally posting them! I am posting today to make a confession...I love Stephen Colbert...he is has balls. I will have to explain more later, but he is just hilarious! Has anyone seen the CSPAN White House Correspondents Dinner? If not, check this out: video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-869183917758574879&%20q=stephen+colbert

So honest...so true...

Also...anyone familiar with Helen Thomas? Check out some of her comments and report...

Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist

POSTED: 3:46 pm EDT June 7, 2006
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President George W. Bush has finally admitted that he made a mistake in his Iraqi misadventure. But it's only what he said, not what he did.

Asked what "missteps and mistakes" he regretted about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bush replied that his biggest regret was his use of cowboy language such as "bring it on" at the start of the war in 2003 and in saying he wanted terrorist leader Osama bin Laden "dead or alive."

Bush told reporters that it was this "kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people."

"I learned some lessons about expressing myself in a little more sophisticated manner," he added.

If only the fault was simply his empty rhetoric. The acknowledgement of any mistake was a headline story for Bush, even though it was a slim mea culpa by a very defensive president.

Bush made the admission in a recent news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The visitor was more substantive in his response to the same question when he confessed that the coalition had erred by disbanding Saddam Hussein's governing party, leaving a vacuum in Iraqi government expertise and leadership. Blair also said he and Bush underestimated the strength of the insurgency.

"It's easy to go back over mistakes that we may have made," Blair said. "But the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination of our opponents to defeat us. And I don't think we should be surprised at that."

How profound of Blair to realize that Iraqis might have a sense of national pride and are inspired to fight and die against an invader and occupier.

If the answers from the two men are good indications of their own self-awareness and ability to engage reality, one wonders what planet they are on. I doubt that either leader has the remorse or courage to admit he was wrong to attack an oil-rich third-world country under false pretenses.

It's amazing to reflect on the fact that we are in Iraq because of a mistake -- and three years later can't seem to get out. One reason we can't get out is that our leaders don't want the families of the 2,460 Americans killed in the war to feel that their loved ones died in vain. Unfortunately, this is a tragic self-perpetuating dynamic.

Bush and Blair do not want to look back on their real miscalculations. Instead, Bush wants us to believe that the U.S. is in Iraq for the long haul, until total victory is achieved against the insurgents and terrorists. Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan used to daily trumpet a boast that we were "going to win" in Iraq.

Bush also said the American military's biggest mistake was the treatment of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison near Baghdad where inmates were subject to degrading treatment.

"We've been paying for that for a long period of time," Bush said.

Actually, mostly low-ranking soldiers have paid the price in prison time for those misdeeds, not their commanding officers or top Bush administration officials who signed off on tough treatment for the detainees.

Meantime, more scandals pile on as the occupation continues. Bush says he was "bothered" by the allegations that a group of Marines may have killed 24 Iraqi civilians, including a 3-year-old girl, last November in Haditha to avenge the death of a buddy.

The incident brought back memories of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a one-time hawk on military matters who served in the Marine Corps, said the troops overreacted at Haditha "because of pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

Murtha stunned Congress several months ago when he called for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

The troops are being given a refresher course on the rules of war. Maybe Bush and Blair should bone up on international laws against starting wars in the first place.

(Helen Thomas can be reached at the e-mail address hthomas@hearstdc.com).

------------------------------

Beginning in 2003, Thomas has been moved to the back row during press conferences, although she still sits in the front row during press briefings. She is rarely called upon in press conferences, and no longer ends Presidential news conferences by saying "Thank you, Mr. President." Asked why she is now seated in the back row, she said, "Because they don't like me...I ask too mean questions." [1] On March 21, 2006, during a White House press conference, Thomas was called upon directly by President Bush for the first time in three years. Thomas asked Bush about Iraq, he responded at first by discussing Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The exchange follows:

THOMAS: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

BUSH: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that, you know, I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just -- is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --

THOMAS: Everything --

BUSH: Hold on for a second, please.

THOMAS: Everything I've heard --

BUSH: Let me -- excuse me, excuse me. No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. I -- my attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq.

THOMAS: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.

BUSH: Hold on for a second -- let me -- look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for Al Qaeda. That's where Al Qaeda trained, and --

THOMAS: I'm talking about Iraq.

BUSH: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- that's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for Al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the [United Nations] Security Council; that's why it was important to pass [Security Council Resolution] 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, "Disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences" --

THOMAS: -- go to war --

BUSH: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world, and when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him, and we did. And the world is safer for it. [2]

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