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.