Thursday, December 29, 2005

Personal Responsibility

It's amazing what mental gymnastics conservatives will put themselves through when it comes to responsibility. Supposedly, personal responsibility is a touchstone of modern conservatism; the individual is supposed to be responsible for everything from their diet to their medical decisions regardless of their preparedness to do so.

I have a very good friend who is a conservative and who loves to get into political discussions. While he is definitely conservative in his views - having come from a very rich family - he also loves to play devils advocate so his actual views on many subjects we discuss can only be discovered after stripping away the "argument for argument's sake."

One of the things I've discovered about conservative ideas of responsibility is that it does not extend into the future further than their own lives. Some examples of this that we discussed last night over several beers (for him) and glasses of wine (for me) included the responsibility of people to think about how many children they have and the impact they will have on future rates of consumption and on the question of pollution/global warming. In both cases my friend claimed that there was no responsibility to consider the future because of effects on the individual or society (most especially vis-a-vis the economy in the case of pollution reduction) in the here-and-now.

I'm not sure how such a limited scope of personal responsibility has become so ingrained in conservatism - indeed in many people's thoughts regardless of political affiliation. My best guess is that our brains have not had a chance to catch up with how much longer we are able to live and with the span of time we can now effect with our actions. One need only consider the near sense of neglect over radioactive wastes from weapons programs and nuclear power generation. The time frames over which these wastes are toxic are longer than the entire span of human history; a span which our primate brains are incapable of comprehending. Most people are barely able to think about planning for their own retirement, much less thinking about how their actions will affect their own grandchildren whom they claim to love.

Conservatives seem most incapable of overcoming this cognitive limitation or at least the most reluctant to do so. Responsibility does not end with our own life and our legacy is too important to ignore for short-term gain, We do so at our own - and our childrens' - peril.


That wonderful, lazy time between Christmas and New Years...

I saved enough vacation days to be able to relax from last Friday, through to January 3rd of the New Year. Eleven days off in a row!

There are a couple of posts bouncing around in my head that I want to write and I hope to get around to them soon. But in the meantime, I'm relaxing, enjoying time with my wife, sleeping in, catching up on my reading.

In that vein, let me make a book recommendation. Check out The Time Traveler's Wife, by first-time novelist Audrey Niffenegger. It's very different; it's very good.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

What Matters

It's Christmas Eve in our house; we've just spent the morning baking some cookies and a wonderful coffee cake for tomorrow morning. The house has been decorated since the weekend after Thanksgiving and there are presents under the tree. Inside our little world, all looks warm and comforting.

But looks can be deceiving...

Outside, things are not as they should be; there are too many soldiers stuck in a mess not of their own making, dying too often leaving families to mourn instead of celebrate the season. Conservatives are playing Grinch with our freedoms and the National Treasure. Christofascists are scheming how to spread their style of Taliban--ism throughout our land and how to keep the next generation ignorant enough to believe their own special brand of religion fueled hatred.

We all have so much to be grateful for in this magical season, the above paragraph not withstanding. And I hope that everyone who stops by here can experience as much of the magic and love of this wonderful season; regardless of which holiday it is that you celebrate at this traditional time of celebration from times well hidden in the mists of history. Find the time to spend with family or friends; take a little time to find some peace in the world and in your heart.

Take the time away from work and the usual troubles of the world to relax and recharge because we cannot let the New Year be the same as the old year. We'll need all our strength, physical and mental to make our world a better world.

Which, after all, is the real meaning of this season and of our lives.

So: Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Mithras, Happy Festivus, Merry Fitzmas, Merry Winter Festival...

Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Why Bush Picked Alito - And Why He Must Not be Confirmed

Besides playing to the christo-fascists who would like to return us all to the thirteenth century, seems there was another reason Bush wanted Sammy Alito on the bench.

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department, documents released Friday show.
He fits right in with the rest of BushCo. who never met a civil right they didn't want to violate. We know that Bush had allowed both the NSA and the Pentagon to spy on US citizens without judicial oversight when he selected Alito. Looks like he was looking for someone who would be willing to vote the "right way" should this illegal activity ever make it before the court.

Or it was just dumb luck.

Emphasis on dumb.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Just so you know:

The Constitution, Article II, Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

The Constitution, Article I, Section 3:
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachments shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States, but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment, and Punishmnet, according to Law.


Glad to see that our glorious VP, Big Dick, was able to cut short his trip abroad and to visit the troops - all on the taxpayers' dime - to cast the deciding vote to screw over those same taxpayers.

Well, to screw over the poorest of tax payers. The rich ones, not so much.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Falling Apart at the Seams

It was, finally, perhaps, a reach too far. Bush's secret order to spy on Americans without judicial oversight is starting to have serious repercussions.

A federal judge has resigned from the court that oversees government surveillance in intelligence cases in protest of President Bush's secret authorization of a domestic spying program, according to two sources.
And Republicans are starting to join with Democrats to call for hearings into the secret spy program.Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe have joined with Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and Ron Wyden to call for an investigation by both the Senate's Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

Remember, this was absolutely illegal. And Bush admitted that he did it purposely.

Impeachment. Now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bush Denies Being a Dictator

In his press conference yesterday, the President of our United States actually had to deny being a dictator. How low this moronic, incurious, coke-addled idiot has brought our country...

I can't even write a decent post about Bush's last act of ignominious Constitution destruction (see my last couple of attempts, below). But the boys over at AmericaBlog sure can. Keep up with it all. Go over to AmericaBlog; start at the top and read your way down.

Then do something about it. You'll know what to do.

Beat the drums for impeachment.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Can We Talk About Impeachment Now?

“Where does he [Bush] find in the Constitution the authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens without any court oversight?” asked Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Bush’s interpretation of the Constitution was “incorrect and dangerous.”
As I said on Sunday, this is NOT some over-zealous overreach of authority. This wiretapping, without judicial oversight, is de facto, de jure ILLEGAL. However much you want to spin the illegality of the way in which BushCo. lied their way into the Iraq war, there is no spinning this, despite his best efforts, as something within the president's constitutional powers. And no amount of whining about leaks damaging the "everlasting-extra-double-top-secret war on terror, Amen &trade" can change the facts.

Defining Victory Downward

Thanks to Bush's speech last night, we now know what victory looks like in Iraq.

Claims of U.S. torture in secret Afghan prison

24 ex-Saddam aides freed

...more than 2,150 U.S. soldiers have died...

Iraq Officials Struggle to Contain Tension

Bomb explodes near Iraq children's hospital

17 killed in Iraq clashes

...and the bad news isn’t over.
Amazing, isn't it? Bush can somehow manage to see the pony through all that horseshit.

Here's the next Democratic talking point and it should be hammered on at every opportunity: Bush has admitted making mistakes and getting bad intelligence prior to starting his neocon wet-dream war. So how do you ask someone to be the last one to die for a mistake?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"He is a President, Not a King"

Russ Feingold really rips into Bush for his wiretap authorizations. As so many in the blogosphere have said, this is a crime - not just an ovverreach of authority.

This was a brave thing to say in the face of certain knee-jerk chickenhawk retaliatory attacks, and Feingold deserves some serious respect for his spine. The next question is who will be the first brave soul to publicly say the "I" word?

Who will call for Bush's impeachment?

Friday, December 16, 2005

What Liberal Media?*

The next time some conservative complains about the "liberal media," you can just show them this from Raw Story:

On the second page of a report which reveals the White House engaged in warantless domestic spying, the New York Times reveals that it held the story for a full year at the request of the Bush Administration...
Then you can tell them to STFU.

*Title from Eric Alterman's book.

Bush Caught Wiping His Ass With Constitution

He might as well have been. There was a story earlier this week about the Department of Defense spying on US citizens, now this:

The National Security Agency has eavesdropped, without warrants, on as many 500 people inside the United States at any given time since 2002, The New York Times reported Friday.
Unlike the DoD where soldiers typically don't question orders and where Rummy has ruled with an iron fist and fired or demoted (or sent to Iraq?) those who've disagreed with him and his directives, there are lots of career civil servants in the NSA. These guys not only have read the Constitution, but they know what it means. Consider this:

But some NSA officials were so concerned about the legality of the program that they refused to participate, the Times said.
But like those pesky scientists who recommended that Plan B be approved for over the counter sales and those who expressed alarm over global warming effects, these experts were ignored by BushCo. too.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Israel Bashing Bush?

Pretty harsh words:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said:"The combination of fanatical ideology, a warped sense of reality and nuclear weapons is a combination that no one in the international community can accept."
Oh, wait... he was talking about Iran.



Wednesday, December 14, 2005

War on Christmas?


Quantum Sociology

"Human behavior is quantum rather than Newtonian."

I said that in the comments to the post below on the death penalty. In quantum physics, the Uncertainty Principle says that you cannot know to any random level of certainty both the position and the velocity of a particle. It's my assertion that most human events, murders included are "quantum" events; you cannot know everything about an event - about a murder. There are too many variables, too many uncertainties. Eye witness testimony has been proven to be untrustworthy in many instances; memories of events witnessed can be shaped and influenced by subsequent events and discussions and the way questions are posed.

In recent years, as technology has improved, evidence that once could not be gathered, much less evaluated has been used to exonerate people who've spent decades on death row. Some states have tried to limit either the number of appeals a deathrow inmate can mount, some have even tried to limit new evidence or the technology that can be brought to bear on evidence from older crimes. But as it always has, knowledge always grows over time.

Given the inability to have "perfect knowledge" about human events; given that inmates who've nearly exhausted their appeals have been exonerated by new or newly knowable evidence not available when they were convicted, how can society impose the ultimate sentence on a fellow, sentient human being; one for which there is no post facto remedy?

I'm tempted to stop there, but there remains a question or set of questions, posed admirably by my sister in the comments to the post below. What about serial killers or rapists? What about those who've confessed or for whom there is ample evidence that they actually committed the crime? What about those for whom recidivism is nearly a given? Don't those criminals cry out for the death penalty?

In that case, I believe we have to "appeal to our better angels." I have always been taught, I've always heard politicians say that the purpose of our justice system is - in the main - to rehabilitate offenders so that they can rejoin society. In fact, most modern, so-called "first world" countries' justice systems are based precisely on that proposition. They claim to have moved beyond the vengeance style of justice epitomized by "an eye for an eye."

Those who cannot be rehabilitated can surely be given life without parole. And there is ample proof - to dispel the first objection you'll hear to that sentence - that it's orders of magnitude less expensive to house an criminal for life than to run through the various mandatory and optional appeals processes that can mean decades of legal costs - always picked up by the tax payers - in addition to the day-to-day housing costs. And who would be the first to say that someone should be killed because it's too expensive to keep them alive?

So to those who would say that we should regularly put to death prisoners I would give you two questions to ask yourself - and to answer with full truthfulness to yourself:

1. Is it really possible to have full and complete knowledge of any human event that is as physically and emotionally complex as a murder?

2. What is the purpose of our justice system: rehabilitation or vengeance?
I think the answers to those questions should inform your opinion of the death penalty in a supposedly civilized society. Let me know your thoughts in the comments - oh, and read those in the post below, too... they are a great place to start.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pentagon Spying On You and Me?

If, as it appears to be, this is true, it's disgusting. It's also not surprising, given the current misadministration's penchant for all things secret. And uncontstitutional.

The civil rights being breached by this are exactly those for which I served so long to protect and defend. Which gives me more than the right to say the following to any of you DoD spooks snooping around here: Fuck you.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I wanted to post my thoughts on the death penalty in a supposedly civilized society, prompted by the media frenzy over tomorrow's execution of "Tookie" Williams. So I went to MSNBC's site to gather a little information. What I found there made my post mostly moot.

I thought I might write a bit about whether our legal system is supposed to rehabilitate prisoners or extract societal vengeance on them. But seeing Bush claiming that we don't do torture next to the headline about Williams' final appeals being denied was a bit too ironic.

Where the Troops Should Be

Iraq was never a place our military should have been sent. Besides the complete lack of compelling, legal casus belli, many of us predicted the mess they'd be bogged down in before the first boots hit the ground. But that doesn't mean there aren't places in the world our soldiers could do much good. Take Darfur, for instance.

One hundred thousand American troops, deployed with a similar number of UN Peacekeepers, could make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of displaced people being terrorized by rebels and their own government. They could ensure the safety of the refugees, hunt down the militias, ensure that food is delivered where it is most needed and put an end to the genocide that's been the shame of all civilized nations for nearly a decade.

But the Sudanese caught in the crossfire are not sitting on reserves of oil; there is no semi-professional army that BushCo. can claim - while standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier - to have defeated in a couple of days. Instead of fueling a growing Islamic backlash against the West, our soldiers could be saving lives in a part of the world that has given up on hope or help.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

White Flag

Republicans can take their white flag and shove it up their collective asses.

The American people don't want to surrender - or cut and run, as their spin meisters have branded it - they want answers. They want a plan. And that plan had better include a timetable. And barring a plan, Americans want our soldiers out of Iraq.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Lies Built on Lies Built on Torture

It is generally agreed - outside of the current administration and their chickenhawk supporters - that torture does not yield "actionable" information. Depending on the character and mental and physical strength of the victim, you get either nothing or you get anything that will make the pain stop. Scientifically this fact is unassailable; but like peak oil, global warming and evolution, that doesn't stop BushCo. from calling it all bullshit and doing whatever it wants anyway.

So it was with little surprise to me that I read this in today's New York Times:

The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
That these two practices, torture and rendition have become arcane legal and political discussions and the subject of "negotiation" in our Congress will be, in the long view of history, one of the most horrible tangents American actions have ever taken. Not only will it greatly increase the danger to our soldiers everywhere in the world, but it does perhaps irreparable damage to our national psyche.

Can we ever again hold our heads quite so high in the world again? The United States has become like the high school honor student and football captain who has been revealed to be pimping the cheerleading squad to his teammates to pay for his crack habit.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Can You Say "Fiscal Discipline"?

Not if you're a House Republican, you can't. Not that we've come to expect anything but spiraling deficits under the current leadership, but this seems especially egregious.

The House passed three separate tax cuts yesterday and plans to approve a fourth today, trimming the federal revenue by $94.5 billion over five years -- nearly double the budget savings that Republicans muscled through the House last month.
Of course if you ask a Republican about the effects of their raping and pillaging of the budget, well, you'll get a whole different picture. They must be getting economic reports from the same analysts that are telling Bush how well we're doing in Iraq.

"Our economic policies have done the trick," said Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio). "We are in the middle of one of the strongest economies this country has ever seen."
But don't mind me, I belong to the hated "reality based" community.

Support the Air Marshals

I come from a family that is full of police officers; I nearly became one myself. So I have an appreciation for the split second decisions and their sometimes awful consequences made by law enforcement personnel. The air marshals on that Miami flight yesterday likely had very little time to make a decision and react to what they perceived as a serious threat by Rigoberto Alpizar.

However, not enough information has been made public yet for us to decide whether or not the shooting was justified. That is why every time a law enforcement officer discharges their weapon, there is an investigation and the officer is placed on administrative leave or put on desk duty. A reasonable person waits to hear the facts before forming an opinion.

What was most disturbing to me, watching CNN not long after the incident, was the knee-jerk reaction of Representative John Mica (R. FL), chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. When Wolf Blitzer asked him about reports that Alpizar's wife had run after him screaming that he was sick and off his meds, Mica said (and this is all from memory, CNN doesn't have this interview up on its website), "I don't care about any of that!" And immediately launched into a "Support the Air Marshals" speech.

Without any evidence on which to base his remarks, Mica stated that he unequivocally supported what the air marshals did and didn't want to hear anything about how Alpizar might be sick. The talking points came out - obviously he was well prepared and briefed - about how many passengers had flown since 9/11 (can any Republican speak about any incident without dragging that memory out into the open?) and how this was the only deadly incident since then. He was completely unconcerned about the life or problems of a citizen of his state; this guy was shot by law enforcement, therefore he was guilty, therefore it didn't matter that he was dead.

End of story.

I have been wondering lately if it is only the Iraq war that brings out this knee-jerk reaction in the Right. Obviously not. Welcome to the brave, new, Republican world; where the cops are always right and you are always a suspect.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Moderate and true conservative Republicans have turned a blind eye to the christo-fascists in their midst. Their timidity in the face of the haters among them has damaged our country and its political discourse for decades to come. Democrats, who should be the opposition party have been mostly timid in criticizing Republican policies and their disastrous results.

Even on the Iraq war, where 60% of the public believes BushCo. is doing a horrible job, Democrats can't agree on a set of counter-policies; hell they can't even agree on how to disagree with the Chickenhawks.

Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.

Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."
This was not even our Republican in Democrats clothing Joe Lieberman, but Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.). And although not mentioned in this particular article, Hillary Clinton has fallen squarely into the timid camp. At a time that calls for strong leaders willing to make strong and principled stands on the critical issues surrounding our actions in the world, we get the triangulators of the Democratic leadership.

They would all do well to remember these words:

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.

Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Miss the Cold War

Having spent ten years training for the day when Soviet tanks rolled through the Fulda Gap in Germany, it was quite a shock to me when the Berlin Wall fell and suddenly the central plains of Europe were just another place on a map. I remember the infectious joy on the faces of the young East and West German men and women atop the remnants of the wall. I remember how strange and wonderful it was to see people walking freely across the former checkpoints across what had been the iron curtain.

I never thought I'd want to go back to the bad old days of the Cold War.

And yet, stories like those flying about the media about clandestine prisons in countries that used to be behind the iron curtain, run by our very own CIA have made me long for the days when the US could condemn such prisons run by the Soviets - and do so without irony. The mouth-breathers on the right can scoff all they want when those of us with even a rudimentary knowledge of history sadly call that prison system the American Gulag; the term is more apt than they can ever admit.

That old saw about repeating history has rarely had such resonance. The Bush administration has already expressed its disdain for the "reality based community," and they have embraced and - in a sense - enforced ignorance as a virtue and so the lessons of the past are thrown out with the lessons of biology and evolution and physics. And so while history never so much repeats as it does rhyme, we have echoes of the Soviet gulag system spread out across Eastern Europe in the same states which celebrated the fall of the USSR.

The buildings are the same, grey and institutional, anonymous on the outside. Many of the techniques used to obtain "information" are the same. Much of the results are the same; forced confessions to crimes that may or may not have ever happened, poor intelligence and a growing group of people around the world who will hate us for seven generations. Even the denials of their existence are as transparent as anything utterd by the aparatchiks of the KGB.

The only difference is that the people running the prisons speak American accented English instead of Muscovite Russian.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Rumsfeld Run Out of Town?

Raw Story has an article up stating that John Kerry has asked Bush to fire Rummy. And Political Wire is reporting rumors that Joe Lieberman (D, or is that R?) could be tapped as his replacement.

WTF is going on?

The Blog is More Powerful Than the Sword?

Perhaps the old saying will never be changed, but journalist and journalism professor Bill Thompson believes that my not be far from the truth. His journalism students are required to create and maintain blogs as part of their course work.

They don't have to write personal journals or reveal anything about their private lives: they've been asked to blog interesting stories in the area of online journalism and new media, which may be a bit self-referential but is at least relevant to the course.

So it's more like John Naughton's Memex 1.1 than Belle de Jour's confessions.

The idea is to give them a better understanding of how the technology works, and show them just how easy it is to publish online even if you have no idea how the web works or what HTML is.
But it's not just about Thompson's curriculum, he truly believes that blogs are having a real effect on journalism.

But the real point of getting a journalist blogging at this early stage in his or her career is that the bloggers, in all their variety, with all their different skills and abilities and interests and biases, are reshaping the world in which professional journalists operate just as much as the telephone shook up the profession in the first half of the 20th Century.
While bloggers have been saying for quite a while that we are having an effect on real-life journalism, there haven't been too many instances where folks on the "other side" have admitted as much. I have my doubts about whether a small blog like mine has any effect - except for days like Friday when I was mentioned in the Dauo Report on, my readership is so small that it's unlikely to ever be read by a real reporter. But with more and more of the big blogs being mentioned in the "real media," it's hard to deny that there is some synergy. And of course there are those who've made the transition from blogging on their own to working for the media, essentially getting a pay check for doing what they had done for free.

The real test in the near future will be for those larger bloggers - those still independent from the media-corporate conglomerates - to maintain their independence and their own voices even as they become more important in the wider world of journalism. And incrementally I would imagine that a whole new model of journalism will develop, one that combines old-style reporting with the connectedness and interactivity of blogging.

In the meantime, it's nice to see academia take us seriously.

FBI Back on the Case

I wonder what could have prompted the FBI to take another look at the case of the forged documents from Niger?

The FBI has reopened an inquiry into one of the most intriguing aspects of the pre-Iraq war intelligence fiasco: how the Bush administration came to rely on forged documents linking Iraq to nuclear weapons materials as part of its justification for the invasion.

The documents inspired intense U.S. interest in the buildup to the war — and they led the CIA to send a former ambassador to the African nation of Niger to investigate whether Iraq had sought the materials there. The ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, found little evidence to support such a claim, and the documents were later deemed to have been forged.
Seems I remember a lot of blogs, especially Talking Points Memo and AmericaBlog really pushing that point; that nobody had stopped Martino during several visits to the US even though his name kept turning up everywhere connected to this case.

This article doesn't credit the blogosphere:

Those findings concerned some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee after published reports that the FBI had not interviewed a former Italian spy named Rocco Martino, who was identified as the original source of the documents. The committee had requested the initial investigation.
But whatever the reason, reopening this case is an important move.

Friday, December 02, 2005

One More...

Fuck Bush.

Here's how your new Victory Strategery is working, you asshat:

Ten marines were killed in a roadside bombing, the military said today, and 11 other marines were wounded outside the city of Falluja in one of the deadliest attacks on Americans since August.

The military said the marines, from Regimental Combat Team 8 of the Second Marine Division, were conducting a foot patrol outside of Falluja on Thursday when they were attacked with a bomb "fashioned from several large artillery shells."
There's ten more young soldiers who won't get to at least call their loved ones on Christmas day, or to wish their families a happy Hannuka. There are ten more families who will begin their holiday seasons with the dreaded knock on the door by a couple of Marine Corps officers with their hats tucked under their arms and that awful, serious look on their faces. There's eleven other families who, instead of preparing for the holidays will be trying to figure out how to afford a trip to Germany where most wounded soldiers wind up in the hospital.

You spoke of sacrifice; and the fates know that our soldiers and their families are making sacrifices - many the ultimate sacrifice. But when does the rest of the country make a commensurate sacrifice? When do you - and your goddamned family - start to make sacrifices? Where are Jenna and Barbara; why aren't they standing, first in line, at the recruiter's office?

You've driven our military and our country to the brink of absolute breakdown based on nothing but lies and deceit and spin. You're killing our young soldiers, bankrupting the very safety nets that will help their maimed and scarred compatriots when they return home and all you can come up with is "Stay the Course, V2.3."

If, as you say you fervently believe, there is a god, I hope he has created a whole new circle of hell for you and the rest of your maladminstration. And I hope that you rot there.

And While I'm At It...

Fuck Alan Greenspan.

A little late to the party, you rich, overbearing little fucking troll. You couldn't work up any concerns over the Rethug's tax cuts - which caused the deficits, but you sure hate to see those poor folks getting their Social Security and Medicare.

Depends on Your Definition of "Victory"

More on Bush's New Strategery for Iraq Victory.

There's an interesting contrast of headlines in the median this morning about what's going on in Ramadi. From The Australian we get:

Masked gunmen capture Iraqi city

December 03, 2005
BAGHDAD: Just one day after Washington unveiled its strategy for victory in Iraq, rebellion has again flared in the restive city of Ramadi, with hundreds of gunmen attacking a US military base and briefly seizing control of the town centre.
While at Forbes we get this:

New US-Iraqi operation launched in Ramadi
12.02.2005, 05:51 AM

BAGHDAD (AFX) - US and Iraqi forces in Iraq launched a new operation in Ramadi, the day after militants staged a symbolic attack on the town, as a new report suggested the insurgency could get stronger.
So, which is it? Did US troops start a new operation or did the insurgents enemies of a free Iraq actually capture a city that has been wracked by violence since the invasion? It can't be both...

From an offshore paper we get news of a violent takeover of an Iraqi city. From our own press we get that our boys are on the offensive. BushCo. wouldn't be trying to pull some sort of psyops here in the good ol' US of A, would they? They'd never resort to placing stories in the press to make themselves look good would they?

Iraq STILL Nothing Like Vietnam

Although most historians already accepted that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was at best a "misunderstanding" and at worst "manufactured," the NSA now confirms that the intelligence to support the escalation of the war was skewed.

Newly-released US documents suggest the US escalated the war in Vietnam based on skewed intelligence.

The documents cast doubt on the existence of an attack on a US warship by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin on 4 August 1964.
But please, please, don't compare our misadventures in Southeast Asia with our current travails in Southwest Asia. Sand vs. jungle. Sunni and Shia and Kurds vs. Vietnamese and Cambodians and Laotians. They're really nothing at all alike.


Man the Torpedoes!

John at AmericaBlog thinks that our friends on the right might be preparing to unleash the Swift Boaters again. It may not be exactly the same gang of thugs and they probably won't go by the same market-tested name, but the tactics are likely to be the same and the target will be very similar: Jack Murtha.

Here's a quote John found from our dear friend Ann Coulter (for whom, John claims, there is no direct medical evidence that she doesn't have a penis):

And unlike Murtha, who refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts, we know what North did. (These Democrat military veterans are hardly shrinking violets when it comes to citing their medals, but they get awfully squeamish when pressed for details.)
This time, though, we can be ready. Pass the word around. Gather your best material on the worst offenders and prepare to unleash a salvo of blog-torpedoes that will sink their sorry asses before they can even get started. No more of the baseless bullshit they got away with in 2004 with Kerry. No more of the crap they pulled on Max Cleland.

Or as John writes:

There's reason to believe the McCarthyite Wing of the Republican party may kick off a larger campaign in a few days to Swift Boat Murtha. If that happens, I think we need to go nuclear in response. Teach the Coulters and all the rest that the real world of politics is a lot more brutal than a glass of Slim-Fast. If they want to play dirty, then someone needs to slam them down, hard enough, so that it never happens again.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush Lied - Again

And gets called on it on Anderson Cooper's show.

In his speech (on the new Iraq strategery), Bush had said that Iraqi troops “primarily led” the assault on the city of Tal Afar. However, there was an on-the-ground, embedded reporter on the scene. In other words, a non-military eye-witness not bound by the strictures of the UCMJ.

TIME Magazine reporter Michael Ware, who is embedded with the U.S. troops in Iraq who participated in the Tal Afar battle, appeared on Anderson Cooper yesterday. He said Bush’s description was completely untrue:

I was in that battle from the very beginning to the very end. I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them.

And yet... our friends in the MSM seem to be completely ignoring this story of the President telling an outright lie to the American people during what was billed as a major speech on the Iraq war. Even though the revelation was made on one of their own shows!

Maybe they just think that telling lies about a war built on lies is no big deal.

Via The Raw Story and Think Progress.

F*** Judith Miller

She screwed up her reporting on WMD prior to the war and helped to sell the nation down the Tigris, so to speak. After spending what turns out to be way too little time in jail, she can't even manage to apologize in a way that shows she's truly sorry for the irreparable damage she's caused our country.

She said: "I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong."


Although Ms Miller apologised for the intelligence being incorrect she defended her journalism saying she was right to publish and had done everything she could to verify the facts. She said: "I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong.

"I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and a active weapons programme."
That's some apology. She's sorry the spooks got it wrong; even her apologies aren't factually correct.

Can anyone tell me why she was ever employed by the "Paper of Record" in the first place?

And, as with so much good reporting lately, can anyone tell me why we learn so much about our own country from the foreign press?

Is the New Iraq Strategery (Same as the Old Iraq Strategery) Working Yet?

Not so much.

Insurgents attacked several U.S. bases and government offices with mortars and rockets Thursday before dispersing in the capital of western Iraq’s Anbar province, residents said.
Yep, the Iraqi police and Army are more and more ready to assume their duties as protectors against insurgents enemies of a free Iraq. The process of Vietnamization Iraqification is going really well.

When is Bush's next speech before a captive audience?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This is Bringing Democracy to Iraq?

I suppose since it's been done here, it should be no surprise that they're doing it there, too.

As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

The Decision Making Cycle

When I was still in the military, back in the late 80s and early 90s, planning for military operations revolved around "getting inside the enemy's decision making cycle." What that meant was we would understand their strategies and tactics and that we would plan several steps ahead so that we could disrupt their usual decision making timing. They could not execute their plans because we'd always be a step ahead.

It was a great way to think about the planning process. It forced us to plan as far ahead as we could possibly manage, knowing that the situation would almost always have us adjusting our plan. It is axiomatic in war that "no plan ever survives first contact (with the enemy)." But we had a base plan to work from.

Contrast that with how BushCo. has lurched from day to day - at times from moment to moment in the execution of the Iraq war. In contrast to how I used to help plan operations for a brigade-sized aviation unit, this war has had no plan. In fact, it's only just now that Bush is pushing his "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

Years after the invasion the Worst President Ever is only just now trying to lay out a plan for post-invasion Iraq. And rather than presenting this plan to Congress and the American people Bush, inside his ever shrinking "comfort zone," will make his speech at the US Naval Academy, before a young, captive audience; where boos and catcalls would be considered disrespect towards the commander-in-chief and punishable under the UCMJ. This plan, this "strategy," in order to get inside the enemy's decision making cycle, should have been complete through the handover of authority to a sovereign Iraqi government and redeployment of US troops to bases in Europe and the US; with a tentative timetable.

What does this say about the planning for this ill begotten war? Worse, what does it say about those who "planned" it?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Out of Touch

Just when you think that BushCo. have lied their most egregious lie they come out with something like this:

U.S. officials told a U.N. conference on climate change that their government was doing more than most to protect the earth's atmosphere.

Quote of the Week

From Altercation, Eric Alterman states:

If Jose Padilla lives in a police state, then so do you.
If that doesn't make you stop and think, then you just haven't been paying attention.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Grass Grows Over the Grave of Godwin's Law

Driftglass, in answer to one of his commenters disagreeing with using the term "Good Germans" in referring to Republicans, especially moderates who voted for W, lays the final piece of sod over the grave of Godwin's Law. The commenter, "a modern European historian who specializes in the Second World War (and Germany in particular)," felt that driftglass was reaching a metaphor too far, but later admitted that "there are literally days when I wish I didn't know quite so much about Hitler's march to power."

As always, drifglass' post is powerful and darkly humorous; who else would write this:

OK, where was I going with this again?

Ah yes. That the Media, Religious and Political leadership of the GOP aren't literally Nazis, as much as they may awake writhing in sodden ecstasy at their own Fourth Reich Wet Dreams.
Go read the entire posting. It's well worth the extra effort of clicking over... besides, you need the exercise after all that turkey.

Turkey Induced Ramblings

I took last Wednesday off from work for a wonderfully relaxing five day weekend - which partly explains my lack of posting here. My sister and her boyfriend traveled up from Florida for most of that time and we had a great Thanksgiving. Our weather cooperated with frigid cold temperatures and a fair bit of snow so we had a white holiday and my sister had a chance to get the full western New York experience: fourteen degrees with a wind chill near zero, snow, ice, wind, and, of course, a snowball fight.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a very traditional one with turkey and all the usual side dishes and desserts. It was wonderful to have family around and all-in-all I have plenty to be thankful for. I hope that your Thanksgiving weekend was just as great.

We stayed away from the malls and stores on "Black Friday" as did lots of other people; as I predicted they would in an earlier post. I've been foolish enough to venture out on the Friday after Thanksgiving before: as much as I love to shop, I'll never do that again. It was nowhere near as crazy as some of those scenes I saw on the news where Wal-Mart shoppers trampled each other (no surprise there), but it was nuts enough that I have no desire to repeat the experience.

Now comes the part of the year where someone seemingly speeds up the year and the last five weeks zip by in a blur of holiday parties, shopping and visits to and by friends and family. It's also the time of year where most people, myself included spend at least a little time reflecting on the past year and all that happened - good and bad. The year has provided plenty for me to think about, at home, at work and in the world. And although I have lots to be thankful for, I hope that next year is a much better year.

For now, it's time to shake off the lethargy of a long, turkey fueled holiday weekend and try to get back into the rhythm of a regular work week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Rendition, that is.

If you approve of BushCo., you approve of torture and secret prisons. And you do so increasingly isolated from the civilized world.

Happy F***ing Holidays

Are these people a)insane, b)stupid or c)totally disconnected from the rest of the country?

The retail industry's leading trade group [the National Retail Federation] announced yesterday that it expects holiday sales growth to be better than it had predicted, thanks to falling gas prices and strong sales during September and October.
Ohio leads the nation in layoffs - or did until GM announced they'd be giving the boot to 30,000 people just days before Thanksgiving. Here in Rochester, NY, Kodak changes the number and schedule of its layoffs more often than most people change their socks. And while gasoline prices are down, they are still higher than this time last year. Home heating costs are going to be significantly higher this winter than last and there's a general sense of unease in everyone I speak to. This unease is at least in part fueled by the prospect of Republican cuts to programs that help the poor and lower middle class as well as continued increases in the cost of health care and the higher costs of just about everything in the grocery store.

As I've blogged about during the last two holiday seasons, there is one group that seem to have no worries about holiday spending:

Though the group said it expects nearly all retail categories to show strong gains this holiday season, luxury stores are on track to do particularly well, Davis said. High-income consumers are less likely to be affected by fluctuations in gas prices, and those with moderate incomes seem to be saving up for more expensive items.
Of course that's not surprising given that BushCo. is pushing hard for more tax cuts aimed squarely at those in the top brackets and extending those already in place. Some people are going to have a great holiday season this year. For the rest of us - that 90% of Americans to whom Santa will not be bringing a tax break - things are looking a little bit bleaker.

Bah, humbug!

Iraqis vs Cheney?

There's an interesting pair of headlines on MSNBC this morning. At the top, with a photo, is this head and sub-head:

Call For Withdrawal
Iraqis request U.S. timetable for pullout
Interesting in and of itself as it represents the results of multiparty discussions under the aegis of the Arab League. Scrolling further down the page, though we get the puppet master:

Cheney rips idea of Iraq pullout
So, what is it going to be? What will the new story be? Are we going to stay until BushCo. says it's time to go or will we pack up our toys and "cut and run" when the Iraqis want us out? Cheney and his sock puppet have gotten themselves into a real corner. It'll be fun to watch him squirm and snarl his way out of this one.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Amazingly disasterous. Amazingly FUBAR.

Bush has lost his goddamn mind.

At a press conference with reporters along for his trip to China, President Bush found several questions relating to the current debate back in the States over the Iraq pullout plan pushed by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).

Among other things, he said "the progress in Iraq is amazing" and rejected Murtha's complaint about Vice President Cheney, who received five deferments during the Vietnam war, questioning the "backbone" of Iraq war critics who had served in battle. "I don't think the Vice President's service is relevant in this debate," Bush said.

Missed Again

There really cannot be any more debate about whether we have enough men and equipment on the ground in Iraq; discussions about missed recruiting goals, critical jobs going unfilled, soldiers on their third rotations have pretty much put that debate to bed. We also know, well after the fact, that it was a lack of US manpower on the ground that enabled Osama bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora in the opening days of the Afghan war (anyone remember that one?).

So what are we to make that bin Laden's head honcho in Iraq was missed a second time, coming so close that an Iraqi official declared him a casualty of a weekend firefight?

A Pentagon source said that the military did have intelligence that indicated al-Zarqawi was meeting in a Mosul home with high-level Iraq in al-Qaida lieutenants. As soldiers closed in on the site, there was an exchange of small arms fire, then it appears that three al-Qaida suspects blew themselves up to avoid capture.

The military is conducting DNA tests on flesh and blood recovered from the scene, but a Pentagon official said indications are that al-Zarqawi is not among those killed.

"The information was solid. We just missed him," said one Pentagon source.
I think events have put the lie to the repeated Republican proclamation that we are doing everything we can to win the war on terror.

Brain Drain, USA

The religious wing-nuts have come another step closer to moving the entire US back to the Middle Ages. The increasing interference in public policy of religious belief has already caused incredible damage to political discourse and to public school curricula. The policy implications are only just now becoming clear as the AP is reporting that the top two researches on the use of stem cells to cure cancer - after being heavily recruited by Stamford - have decided to do their research in Singapore.

Two government biologists heavily recruited by Stanford University have decided to work in Singapore instead, saying they will face fewer restrictions on stem cell research overseas.


"If there were any way we could come to Stanford, we would do this in a heartbeat," the married couple wrote in an e-mail to the San Jose Mercury News.

Copeland and Jenkins are famous for discovering a way to accelerate the identification of cancer-causing genes in mice.
You might wonder at just how much damage this might do to cancer research in the US. The spread of information is increasingly rapid through the medical research community. And while that remains true, as far as it goes, there are other concerns besides the strictly academic.

At Singapore's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, any of the couple's discoveries would first be patented and used in Singapore.
You can thank BushCo.'s craven obeisance to their religious wing-nut base for this.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Cindy Writes to Georgie's Mom

Cindy Sheehan's open letter to Barbara Bush.

I wonder if Bar will bother her "beautiful mind" by actually reading it?

Thanks to Steve Bates of the Yellow Doggerel Democrat for the tip.

Pentagon Lies to Congress About Recruiting

No surprise here, I suppose; Rummy providing Congress something less than the whole truth about the military's manpower problems. But it's more disgusting than the usual BushCo lies because it prevents solutions that would help the very troops that they profess to support so completely.

From today's NYT:

Officials with the accountability office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, found that some of the critical shortfalls had been masked by the overfilling of other positions in an effort to reach overall recruiting goals. As a result, the G.A.O. report questioned whether Congress had been given an accurate picture by the Pentagon of the military's ability to maintain the force it needs for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The aggregate recruiting numbers are rather meaningless," said Derek B. Stewart, the G.A.O.'s director of military personnel. "For Congress and this nation to truly understand what's happening with the all-volunteer force and its ability to recruit and retain highly qualified people, you have to drill down into occupational specialties. And when you do, it's very revealing."
Of course the wingers will say that nobody "lied" to Congress, they were given accurate recruiting figures. But of course, as the article says, those numbers are worthless when vital jobs are going unfilled. And those empty slots are prolonging the agony of the troops already there and ensuring that more of them, in those vital jobs, must rotate into Iraq and Afghanistan again and again.

The more times a soldier goes into the sand box, the more likely it is he won't be coming back because of course there are still not enough up-armored vehicles, not enough ammunition, not enough troops, not enough trained Iraqi soldiers, and now - not enough specialists including EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) specialists; those guys that disarm the road-side IEDs that are killing so many of our soldiers.

Tell me again how that is considered "Supporting the Troops."

John Murtha, Hero

The Republican attack dogs have been unleashed against Rep. John Murtha. The reason? Something BushCo. hates most of all; speaking the truth.

So what stands between the hounds and John Murtha? These:

They just might be messing with the wrong honcho this time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Clinton: World's "Most Influential Man"

I'm sure Esquire Magazine's designation of Bill Clinton as the "Most Influential Man in the World" will have Bush pitching a fit in the Oval Office tonight.

Okay, so Bush probably doesn't read Esquire; hell, he doesn't read PDBs. Still, it's great to see The Clenis get some props while the editors completely ignore the sad little man now occupying Bill's chair.

Dick, You're a Dick

So Big Dick is going to start throwing our words back at us, eh?

Well, to quote your boss, Dick:

Bring it on!

Hat tip to John at AmericaBlog for the link and all the great posts on this subject.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Kick Him While He's Down

While so many problems have beset BushCo. over the past several months, if I remember correctly it was Cindy Sheehan's protests, outside of Bush's Crawford, TX ranch, that started Bush's popularity decline in earnest. My memory of the timing could be off slightly, but I think that many other Americans "remember" it the same way. Sheehan - although she attracted some odd hangers-on - opened the eyes of many of our fellow citizens to the brutality and the sketchy reasons promoted by BushCo. for the war (all 27 of them).

The last several polls have put Bush's approval numbers around the 35% mark. Osama bin Laden is still at large, Afghanistan is devolving by the day, Iraq is a deepening quagmire, we still have thousands of displaced hurricane refugees spread all over the US... Well, you get the idea. So, what could make things worse for The Worst President Ever?

How about this?

[Cindy Sheehan,,] who drew thousands to her 26-day war protest near President Bush’s ranch this summer plans to return for Thanksgiving next week, despite new county ordinances banning roadside camping.
Can't you just hear Bush whimpering?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush Declares Himself "Ceasar"

It seems all that's left for him to do now. He's launched us, unwilling and unwittingly into a war of "Imperial Democracy," declared nearly all government actions secret, had his minions declare that they "create reality." What could possibly be missing for us to consider our Dear Leader the next Ceasar?

Ah, of course...

Two Iraqi businessmen, who were imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, claimed Monday that American soldiers threw them into a cage of lions in a Baghdad palace, as part of a terrifying interrogation in 2003.
So, will our brave media broadcast the self-coronation?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Iraq's New Export

Anyone remember whether the world had problems with Iraqi suicide bombers before BushCo's Excellent Mid-East Adventure?


But that was then. This is now:

Afghanistan used to be the place to go for terrorist training, funding and real-world experience in battle. Not anymore. Iraq has become, in President George W. Bush's words, "the central front" in the war on terror. And compared with distant Afghanistan, Iraq has more fighting, more people, more money and a far better strategic position in the heart of the Middle East. If Afghanistan under the Taliban was a backwoods school for terrorism, Iraq is an urban university. "Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in the leadership's safe haven in Afghanistan," says a senior Taliban official who uses the nom de guerre Abu Zabihullah. "But Iraq is where the fierce encounters take place, where we recruit and dispatch fighters and where jihad's spirit thrives."
No matter how much BushCo. spins and sputters about re-writing history, there can be no doubt that this misadventure in imperialism has resulted in the Middle East and the whole world being a much more dangerous place.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Working Holiday

In the broadest strokes, today is like any other day for me. I woke up at my usual time, went through my usual morning routines and now I'm at work. Here in western New York, the weather is typical November; wet, raw and cold. It seems like any other Friday.

Except that it's not.

The other evening I was talking to my wife about what it's like having gone to West Point. Every graduate from the academy, famous or not, is a part of our country's history in a very intimate way. Just naming a few of the more famous graduates is a visceral reminder of that fact. Schwarzkopf, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Pershing, Grant... Military historians and West Pointers even have a phrase to describe not only that list of names stretching back into history but also that feeling of connectedness with that list. "The Long Gray Line."

In the same way, those of us who've served this country in uniform are part of a distinguished group that stretches from the first, rag-tag regiments that comprised the Continental Army to today's professional soldiers. If you have ever read any first-person account of war you have a small idea of what it must have been like to be in battle. If you've ever served, especially during wartime, you know up-close and personal the awful mix of excitement and fear and that point when training and repetition overcome them both.

Because of those strong links to history, today is not like any other day. It would certainly be nice if the country would honor us vets with a day off, if more companies would make an effort to recognize the contributions we've made in some small way. But also because of that history of personal sacrifice that not everyone is willing to make you won't find many veterans who will complain about the seeming short shrift given our contributions. And because the government doesn't make today a "major holiday," and because the workplace treats us all as just another "human resource," even today, most non-veterans don't give it another thought.

But if you happen upon this post today, I hope you'll read it in the way it is meant; a gentle reminder of what today means. Of what the people today is meant to honor have done for this country. I hope it also reminds you that the sacrifices veterans have made for all of us were predicated on one grand idea, an idea - an ideal - in every public servant's oath of office, but which has special meaning to a soldier. Remember this idea when someone talks of "supporting the soldiers" when you know that they mean something entirely different.

Soldiers have one duty above all:

"To support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Dismantling Government; One Branch at a Time

Republicans hate judges who "legislate from the bench" (a semantically meaningless phrase), except when they legislate the "right" way. But what they really hate is any branch of the government that gets in their way. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that detainees at GITMO had a right to file habeus corpus petitions in regard to the their detention.

Republicans in Congress couldn't stand that their sock puppet in the White House (and his puppet masters) would be held to the Constitution. So, what did they do?

The Senate voted Thursday to bar foreign terror suspects at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from filing lawsuits in American courts to challenge their detentions, despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that granted such access.

In a 49-42 vote, senators added the provision by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to a sweeping defense policy bill.
Stripping the power of an entire branch of our Federal Government to provide the constitutionally mandated checks and balances is no surprise from the current Republican leadership. It is, however, a disgusting display of disregard for our founding principles and a blatant attempt to further consolidate power in an imperial figurehead.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lame Duck

There's the dictionary definition:

Function: noun
1 : one that is weak or that falls behind in ability or achievement; especially chiefly British : an ailing company
2 : an elected official or group continuing to hold political office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor
3 : one whose position or term of office will soon end
And then there's Bush:

House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday.


The move in the House was yet another setback for Bush, whose Social Security overhaul also has stalled in Congress. At the same time, his presidency has been troubled by mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq, the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and the investigation over the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.

Twenty-five Republicans, led by Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, signed a letter asking GOP leaders to strike the Alaskan drilling provision from the broader $54 billion budget cut bill.
To borrow a phrase from John at AmericaBlog: Lamest. Duck. Ever.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Read 'em and Weep

I love it!

I hate to laugh at somebody who's been beaten so low... okay, not in this case.


I'm not an expert on all the local and state elections. I don't even play one on TV. But I have to hope that prognosticators who have decided that yesterday's election has something to say about how our fellow citizens are feeling about BushCo are correct. Perhaps the main headline on MSNBC this morning is the most optimistic for me.

It says, "Dems' Big Night."

Here and on the comments at many other blogs I've been asking who will be the Democrat who steps up and presents themselves as a true leader, to take advantage of the the mess that the Repugs find themselves in and now to take advantage of the momentum of last night's results?

I hope that someone answers that question.


Monday, November 07, 2005

The Real Threat to America

What's done the most damage to our Democracy in the past several years? It certainly hasn't been al Qaeda; despite a one-time strike on 9/11, they have remained out of reach and relatively impotent in the Middle East. And while those terrorist attacks killed thousands of Americas and destroyed some buildings and some airplanes, fundamentally they were unable to put a dent in our country.

But what hijacked airplanes-cum-missiles could not do, BushCo. has been busily working to do; subvert our Constitutional freedoms and rights. If that sounds like hyperbole, consider this:

Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects, according to defense, state, intelligence and congressional officials.
This is not some abstract threat posed by terrorists who may or may not be able to mount another attack inside the US. And considering things like the PATRIOT Act, it's certainly not an isolated act. This is a direct attack against what our country has always stood for and what it should continue to stand for. What does it say about us that we maintain prisons hidden away in former-Eastern Bloc countries and that our Vice-President actively works to derail legislation that would reaffirm our stand on the ethical high ground during wartime?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

More Lies Enroute to War

A "likely fabricator."

Shouldn't committing our country and our young people to this long, hard slog have been based on more than the ramblings of a likely fabricator? Who would take us to war based on the confessions of a likely fabricator? Why our very own "First Fabricator."

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al 8Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.
It seems that not even the smallest detail leading up to this war was on the level. Will the rest of the public wake up from their stupor any time soon?

Friday, November 04, 2005

From one of my new favorites, driftglass contemplating the lack of intestinal fortitude of congressional Republicans:

There might be some completely benign explanation as to why George Bush has been catastrophically wrong about every single fucking detail about this war. And as to why everyone who tried to warn him got horse-headed. Why everyone complicit in this historic meta-uber-clusterfuck has been awarded medals and pensioned off. And why every fuckup breaks in the direction of making Dick Cheney’s gang of looters vastly richer than the dreams of Croesus.
Are you reading driftglass yet?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

More Democratic Cojones

This time it was the House and Nancy Pelosi.

Here's the text of her resolution that the Rethugs tried to shout down. It was tabled along a party-line vote revealing that there is most definitely something the Rethugs still want to hide.

I only hope that they have the strength to keep this up; day after day.

Harry Reid Continues to Kick Ass

This is just breaking on Raw Story:

Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) issued a letter to Vice President Cheney Thursday calling for a "thorough housecleaning" in his office, RAW STORY has learned.

The letter notes that senior Cheney aides named in the Libby indictment are still working -- and in fact both have been promoted.
Keep hammering, Harry!

Why Rosa Parks' Story is Still Relevant

Read this and weep.

Buying Access to BushCo.

Is there no part of this administration that isn't corrupt?

I suppose by now that's really a rhetorical question. How many different places will Jack Abramoff's name show up?

This goes to my prior post about how those that can afford to buy access can influence legislation that will eventually effect them. While you and I are stuck with the bill.

Defining Republicans for 2006

Big corporations that rake in billions of dollars each quarter are given tax breaks, incentives and get to write the laws that affect their business.

Real citizens who work for minimum wages get the shaft.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Voices in His Head

This is awful...

I want to know why Bush gets a pass when voices in his head tells him to lead an entire nation into an illegal war (2,030 dead so far), but the husband in the case above will get the death penalty? Can anyone answer that question?


"Some Sort of Stink"

How seriously does the Republican Leadership take the first indictment of a sitting Whitehouse aide in 135 years? How seriously do the Republicans take the purposeful outing of a CIA undercover operative during "wartime"?

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Reid was making “some sort of stink about Scooter Libby and the CIA leak.”
Not so seriously at all.

Republicans; The Party of Treason*

Credit to AmericaBlog for this fine phrase.

A Glimmer of Hope?

No matter what comes out of the great Republican spin machine over the next couple of days, no matter how badly the SCLM mangles the real story, keep in mind what I wrote to Senator Harry Reid yesterday: "there is nothing else more important for the Senate to do than to investigate how this country was mislead in the run up to the Iraq War."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's protests that this was done to avoid dealing with the "hard work" of cutting taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor notwithstanding, Harry Reid has not hijacked the Senate. Quite the opposite, he has finally set it back on task of being about the country's business; he has started the Senate back on the path of true oversight.

I'm not sure if Reid's explanation that it was the birth of another grandson that set him on this explosive path is true. But the cause is not important. What's important is that a Democrat has stood up and told us all that the emperor has no clothes.

Now comes the hard part.

Senate Democrats and moderates need to keep up the pressure on the far right. We need to find out how and why such bad intelligence was used to cajole us all into this horrid quagmire in Iraq. We need to find out why the administration would endanger the lives of covert operatives around the world in retaliation for Joe Wilson's fortitude to stand up against the "cabal." We need to wrest control from the small and small-minded group of reactionaries who've literally hijacked our government.

Reid's "ambush" move to take the Senate into secret session yesterday won his immediate objective of moving forward with Phase II of the investigation. It's up to all Democrats to ensure the progress is not arrested again. It's up to all of us to let them know that we support their bravery. I don't know how all this will play out. But yesterday afternoon I started to have some hope that we will be able to move beyond the narrow, nasty Republican agenda of the past four years.

We'll be watching...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Is That the Other Shoe?

Headline at The Raw Story now (no story behind it yet):

Move made only 55 times in Senate history...
What the hell is going on? Would this have anything to do with Matt Cooper's confirmation that Karl Rove was his source for Valerie Plame's name?

UPDATE: Check out C-SPAN2 and AmericaBlog for all the details. I think the Democrats went out to lunch today and got a serious infusion of spine and balls.

Wal-Mart Buys BushCo.

If you don't find my title amusing, you're not alone. If it scares you, it should.

The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for "serious breakdowns" in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations.


The report also criticized department officials for letting Wal-Mart lawyers write substantial parts of the settlement and for leaving the department's own legal division out of the settlement process.
If you're not surprised, well... you shouldn't be. It's the way this adminstration has done business all along; letting oil companies write energy policy, letting polluters write EPA standards and policies and letting insurance companies write health care policy. But come on... letting them off the hook for child labor problems?

It's no wonder Wal-Mart feels it needs a "War Room" to combat its negative image with the public.

After Syria, Cuba?

I hadn't heard that there was an official office dealing with the transition of Cuba from Castro's rule to something post-Castro. Via MSNBC we learn otherwise:

US planning for Cuba's "transition" after the demise of Fidel Castro has entered a new stage, with a special office for reconstruction inside the US State Department preparing for the "day after", when Washington will try to back a democratic government in Havana.

The inter-agency effort, which also involves the Defense Department, recognises that the Cuba transition may not go peacefully and that the US may have to launch a nation-building exercise.
I have to wonder just how closely the people in this office are watching our current "nation-building exercise" in Iraq. Knowing the rest of this administration, I'd say they're not watching at all. After all, there's no sense "looking backwards."

I did find this paragraph amusing:

Caleb McCarry, the Cuba transition co-ordinator, is working on the project within the Office for Reconstruction and Stabilization, which was established by the Bush administration to prevent and prepare for post-conflict situations.
Was this office formed before or after the post-Mission-Accomplished activities in Iraq? If it was before... we've seen how well it works. If after, again, we've seen how little any part of BushCo. learns from experience. However, later in the article we learn the real purpose of the group - as usual it has very little to do with the name of the office (think "Clear Skies").

Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, appointed Mr McCarry in July. His post was recommended by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which she noted was created by President George W. Bush "to accelerate the demise of Castro's tyranny".
No need to worry about the efficacy of the office, though. In what has become a signature BushCo. move, the office and its activities are critically underfunded.

And finally, in case you were worried that something might actually come of all the planning and thought on the toppling of Castro (how long have we been trying to do that?) and what would come afterwards, don't worry. There was an ulterior motive to the whole thing. What could that have been?

From the administration on permanent campaign mode:

Some suspect Mr Bush drew attention to the issue in 2004 with an eye on securing votes in Florida from Cuban exiles.

Monday, October 31, 2005


I love finding new blogs by clicking through other people's blogrolls. It's why my blogroll has grown so large - maybe even to the point of being unwieldy. But another name has made it onto my blogroll; something I almost never mention. But in this case I have to let you know about drifglass. I found this blog by clicking on the interesting name on Shakespeare's Sister's blogroll (another blog I highly recommend).

The blogger behind driftglass has a style very different from many political bloggers. Short, pointed posts are not his style. Long, well-informed essays full of passion and humor seem to be his preferred format. All the better for us.

So click on the link above. Add driftglass to your blogroll. You'll be very glad you did.

Good Question... Great Answer

When I was at West Point, General Andrew Bacevich was just coming in to join the Academy administration. Since then I've seen and read some of his writing and know that he's socially quite conservative - as you'd expect from a high ranking officer in the modern Army. With that foreknowledge and the following question below the headline in his article in today's NYT, I thought I knew what to expect.

In a post-9/11 world, what limits — if any — exist on the president's authority to use force?
I was wrong.

Make sure to read the whole opinion piece, it is, of course, well informed but also surprising considering its author's C.V. But the ultimate paragraph is what made my chest swell with pride at having known and served with this man, a fellow West Point graduate, a fellow traveller in "The Long Grey Line."

In the interests of national security today, we should curb presidential war-making powers. A hitherto compliant Congress must reclaim the institutional authority conferred upon it by the Constitution. When it comes to wars, the first responsibility of the legislative branch is not to support the commander in chief. It is to exercise independent judgment, an obligation that transcends party. Members of Congress who lack the wit or the moral courage to fulfill this obligation ought to be held accountable by voters.
He may be on the opposite side of the widening divide between Left and Right, but Andy Bacevich understands the dangers of the way we do the nation's business today.

The American Taliban Gets its Pick

I still have no insight as to why Bush would have picked Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. However, I'm starting to lean towards the explanation advanced by some that it was a distraction leading exactly to where we are with today's expected announcement of Samuel "Scalito" Alito as his "do-ever" nominee. Alito seems perfectly fitted to the religious right-wing-nutjob faction of the Republican Party with the first reporting on his judicial past being that he was the lone dissent in a case that would have required married women to "notify" their husbands prior to getting an abortion.

If you have to ask why that's a bad thing, consider that most happily married couples would discuss the options and make a mutual decision. If the wife doesn't want to notify the husband, there has to be a very good reason; think spousal abuse, whether mental or physical. Of course, really, if you had to ask why that's a bad thing you've probably not been living in the real world for a long, long time.

Some Democrats are already vowing a fight. How much of a fight will the heretofore quiet Dems put up? Will they filibuster Alito who, at first blush, appears well to the right of most Americans? BushCo. is at its weakest point ever; now would be the time to go for the jugular. But will someone step up the difficult task at hand? Who will assume the mantle of leadership now and show us the way forward?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Scooter Gets Coal on Fitzmas

Details are still coming out... but looks like the Fitzmas Season has started!

UPDATE: Note the sub-head (circled) in this screenshot from MSNBC:

Scooter's gettin' nuthin' for Fitzmas!

Yep, business as usual; at least until Patrick Fitzgerald gets done with them!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Republicans Recommend That the Poor Burn Their Children for Winter Heat

Perhaps the title of this post is a little over the top. But not too much considering this:

The Senate decided yesterday the money was not there for a substantial spending boost for the federal home heating program, deflecting arguments that soaring energy prices could force the poor to choose between heat and food this winter.
Burning their kids would provide some heat and have the added benefit of reducing their food bills. It's a win-win solution!

The Coming Republican Apocalypse

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the Supreme Court.

Indictments of major BushCo. players could be announced at any minute.

Bush's standings in the polls could not get much lower.

The Republican Congressional leadership is mired in legal and ethical problems.

2,000 deaths in Iraq. "Drownie" Brown. Hurricanes that won't stop coming. Afghanistan is reverting to Taliban control. The military can't make its recruiting goals. On and on.

It seems almost perverse to take such pleasure in watching the Republicans self-destruct. Certainly there is no pleasure in the damage being done to our country, our military and our international reputation. But seeing Bush and all his cronies squirm, well...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Just about everyone, at one time or another, has heard "Taps." As a piece of music, heard without context, it is unremarkable although evocative. To me - and to anyone else who's been to a military funeral or memorial service - it is so much more than that.

As a soldier, and a pilot, I have lost my share of friends and comrades. But I'll never forget the first time I heard Taps played for someone I knew. He was a friend and company-mate at West Point. A year ahead of me, he was handsome, full of life and full of fun. He had a very bright future ahead of him. Except that one Saturday night, probably after a couple of beers, his Mazda RX-7 skidded on snow-slicked roads and flipped over the railing of an overpass on a winding, Hudson Valley road. A year and half from graduation and Mike Charbonneau was gone.

One evening a week or so later, at lunch the academy administration announced there would be a memorial service on "The Plain" - the large parade ground at West Point - that evening. At a little before 10:00, cadets started streaming out of the barracks; silently as only a group of soldiers can do. At 10:00 exactly all the lights went off throwing the entire area into darkness. And then there was that sound; a lone bugler standing in the middle of The Plain blowing the loneliest, the saddest sound in the world. Taps echoed off the grey stone buildings and off the grey stone mountains surrounding West Point.

When the last note had reverberated up and down the valley, the lights came on and we all filed back to our rooms in a silence that made our emergence seem raucous by comparison.

I had never heard or experienced anything like that before. Unfortunately I would hear Taps played many more times in my career.

Why this morbid trip into my personal past? In a recent piece in Times - other parts of which have been covered in the blogosphere - Anna Quindlen had a suggestion for Bush as we neared 2,000 deaths in Iraq. And it's a suggestion I'd heartily recommend that someone carry out.

At least Johnson had the good sense to be heartbroken by the body bags [of Viet Nam]. Bush appears merely peevish at being criticized. Someone with a trumpet should play taps outside the White House for the edification of a president who has not attended a single funeral for the Iraqi war dead. As I am writing this, the number of American soldiers killed is 1, 992. By the time you read it, it may have topped 2,000. Will I be writing these same things when the number is 3,000, 5,000, 10,000? If we are such a great nation, why are we utterly incapable of learning from our mistakes? America's sons and daughters are dying to protect the egos of those whose own children are safe at home. Again.
Does anyone know a good bugler?

Judith Miller to be Fired?

There's just too much good stuff going on right now...

New York Times reporter Judith Miller has begun discussing her future employment options with the newspaper, including the possibility of a severance package, a lawyer familiar with the matter, said yesterday.

The discussion about her future comes several days after the public rupture of the relationship between the Times and Ms. Miller, a 28-year veteran of the paper. Both the editor and the publisher of the Times have expressed regret for their unequivocal support for Ms. Miller when she spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the unmasking of a Central Intelligence Agency operative.
I'd like to be first in line to drop a quarter in her tin cup on some Manhattan corner. Only to snatch it back.

Via The Raw Story.

Adding Insult to Injury

There are so many stories in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that it can be almost impossible to know what to feel. In the case of this Knight-Ridder story, my immediate response is sorrow for the displaced. Yet I also know that somehow things have to return to normal in the business sphere as well.

A flood of legal battles is set to be unleashed Tuesday in New Orleans when Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco lifts a post-Hurricane Katrina ban on evictions and 8,000 to 10,000 absentee tenants face the losses of their homes and possessions.

Landlords are expected to begin filing eviction requests with the courts immediately. If they're successful, they can clear out abandoned apartments and move tons of molding, waterlogged belongings to the streets within five to 10 days. In some cases, the landlords alone can make the decision to evict.
I can only hope that at some time something good will come of all of this...

Wal-Mart Sucks


Hat tip to AmericaBlog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Bush lied. They died.

My sincerest condolences to the families of all my fellow soldiers.

The Last Option?

Now I suppose a war with Syria is inevitable.

President Bush said military action was a last resort in dealing with Syria and he hoped Damascus would cooperate with a probe into the killing of former Lebanese premier Rafik al-Hariri.

Because we all remember this:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2003 -- Military action against Iraq is America's last option, President Bush told an audience today in Kennesaw, Ga.
Anyone feel a draft?


ABC News just on TV announced that the "official" death toll in Iraq has reached 1,999.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Trust Us!

Remember conservatives and BushCo. apologists assuring the rest of us that the PATRIOT Act powers to surveil citizens would not be abused? We were called unpatriotic - and worse - because we weren't willing to give up our rights so easily.

Who turned out to be right about these concerns?

The FBI has conducted clandestine surveillance on some U.S. residents for as long as 18 months at a time without proper paperwork or oversight, according to previously classified documents to be released today.

Records turned over as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit also indicate that the FBI has investigated hundreds of potential violations related to its use of secret surveillance operations, which have been stepped up dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks but are largely hidden from public view.