Friday, December 22, 2006

Ignore That Draft Board Behind the Curtain

The Selective Service Agency is performing a test on the systems required to operate a draft. But don't worry, "The agency is not gearing up for a draft," says an agency official.


And Iraq was linked to 9/11, Iraqis greeted us with flowers and chocolates, Bush will listen to the generals and Compassionate Conservatism is not an oxymoron.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's the Thought That Counts

I woke up a little groggy this morning and as I was walking to the shower trying to avoid walking into walls in the dark, a thought worked its way into my still sleeping brain. This thought had to do with my wonderment and anger at so many people in the US, conservative and liberals alike, who are so willing to "give up a little liberty in exchange for a little security." I agree with Franklin that such people deserve neither, but what would account for otherwise intelligent people willing to do such a thing?

Maybe it's the season, when the old saying I used to title this post is used so often. But my thought was that Americans who have rolled over to BushCo. in giving up such fundamental (in the truest sense) rights such as freedom of speech and habeas corpus have lost sight of what it is that we are supposed to be protecting when we talk of saving America.

While in the very narrowest of meanings, "America" is a place, I believe that America is best represented by what all elected government employees and soldiers refer to in their oaths of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of [President, Senator, etc.], and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
But where so many of us have gone wrong is to think of the United States more as a place than as an idea - or perhaps even an ideal. Phrases such as "Homeland" betray this wayward thinking, betrays the oath above, betrays what it means to be an American. Such thinking makes it all the easier to pass laws that abridge the freedoms so many before us had fought and died to procure; to throw them away without much thought at all. Consider how little outrage there has been in regards to the unconstitutionality of so many provisions of the so-called Patriot Act.

We have fundamentally forgotten - perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of lack of education and knowledge (when was the last time you heard of a Civics course in our public schools?), perhaps out of sheer laziness - what it is that makes us, what makes America, different from any other country in the world, indeed any other country or kingdom in history.

It really is the thought that counts.

You should think about it.

Is Debbie Schlussel a Nazi?

Schlussel sure sounds like a German name. Which means somewhere in her background there must be a Nazi or two. The mere fact that she's kept such a Nazi sounding name while living in our great country means that she must have some fondness for her Nazi ancestors.

Doesn't that call her loyalties to America into question?

The questions are only fair.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Republican Definition of Impartiality

Sam Brownback has identified what he thinks will be the first big wedge issue in the 2008 presidential election. Apparently he thinks that gay marriage will be more important to the Republican base than the Iraq war, the economy or anything else. Given the behavior of the religious reich, he's probably correct.

I'm not sure if his latest action is a retreat from that position or not. Certainly his remarks around the nomination of Janet Neff to the federal bench leave me wondering just what the hell he's thinking... Ms. Neff had attended the same-sex union ceremony for the child of a close friend sometime during the past couple of years. Brownback had blocked her nomination to the bench because he thought that attendance would affect her impartiality on future cases involving same-sex marriage. His fallback position was that he would un-block her nomination if she'd recuse herself from all such future cases; something legal scholars thought highly illegal and possibly unconstitutional.

So here's what I wonder: If Janet Neff's attendance at a same-sex union calls into question her impartiality, doesn't attendance at any kind of marriage do the same?

I mean to be absolutely impartial (an absolute impossibility anyway), a judicial nominee would have never been married, attended a marriage or even sent a wedding present.

I think Sam Brownback is backing himself into an irrelevant corner.

Monday, December 18, 2006

With Friends Like These...

You can tell a lot about the new Forest Service rules on long-term planning by who supports them:

The timber industry supports the new policy. Chris West, the vice president of the American Forest Resource Council, a trade group in 12 Western states, called it overdue.
Not that I'm really surprised. Every place where environmental concerns have bumped up against the interests of industry, in fact every place where any kind of concern bumped up against industry interests, BushCo. has appointed former industry officials to powerful posts.

The U.S. Forest Service no longer will give close environmental scrutiny to its long-term plans for America's national forests and grasslands.

It also no longer will allow the public to appeal on long-term plans for those forests, but instead will invite participation in planning from the outset.
And we all know how diligently they listen to the public.

Distracted in Iraq

Of the many rotating rationalizations that BushCo. has given for the invasion of Iraq, "fighting them [terrorists, al Qaeda, etc] there so we don't have to fight them here" has been one of the most touted in right-wing circles. And one of the most ridiculous. There were no terrorists in Iraq until after we destroyed Hussein's capability to keep them out and did nothing to replace it.

Even so, the rationalization may not have gone completely unheeded.

While our attention and military have been bogged down in Iraq and unable to finish what should have been its primary mission in Afghanistan, al Qaeda has been busy. Not just helping to reestablish the Taliban in Afghanistan, but elsewhere as well:

Six months ago, the Bush administration launched a new policy in war-torn Somalia, putting the State Department in charge after secret CIA efforts failed to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from seizing power in Mogadishu. It hoped that diplomacy would draw the Islamists into partnership with more palatable, U.S.-backed Somali leaders.

Today, that goal seems more distant than ever. Since coming to power in June, the Islamists have expanded their hold on the south. A largely powerless, U.S.-backed rump government remains divided and isolated in the southern town of Baidoa. U.S.-sponsored talks, and a separate Arab League effort, seem to be going nowhere.

Al-Qaeda, long hovering in the shadows, has established itself as a presence in the Somali capital, say U.S. officials, who see a growing risk that Somalia will become a new haven for terrorists to launch attacks beyond its borders.
So not only have we mostly ignored the famine that is gripping much of Sub-Saharan Africa, but that ignorance has allowed our real enemy in the world to establish a potential haven there.

BushCo. continues to be the most horrific failure in our history.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Civics 101

George W. Bush may not know it - in fact I'm pretty sure he has never read the document - but the oath he took as assumed office is prescribed in Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution. Let's have a look at that oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Note that not only does the constitution, from which his power flows, lay out a basic blueprint for how to "execute the office," but it also limits the power of that same office. It's true there's no mention of limits, but they are there nonetheless.

Read the last clause of that one sentence oath carefully: "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The current squatter in our Whitehouse has done everything in his power, with the help of a prostrate Congress to destroy that same document from which is power flows.

Violating that oath is an impeachable offense.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bush "Won't Be Rushed"

Of course he won't be rushed.

None of his kids are dodging bullets in Iraq. Nobody he knows is in danger of losing their arms or legs from IEDs. He has no stake in the war at all other than appeasing his oil company patrons and his friends in the weapons industry.

Oh, and his legacy.

Bush, prior to telling us that he's going to "stay the course" after all in January, will celebrate the holidays at home, with all of his family. Including his two draft-aged daughters. But in the mean time, there are gifts sitting in a military mail room somewhere in Iraq waiting to be delivered to a soldier who will not be alive to receive it by Christmas.

Take your time, Mr. President. No need to rush.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Best Government Money Can Buy

Republicans once again are thumbing their noses at you and me and planting said noses firmly up the asses of large corporations who have filled their campaign coffers in the past and who will hire them when they walk out of the Capitol.

The Justice Department placed new restraints on federal prosecutors conducting corporate investigations yesterday, easing tactics adopted in the wake of the Enron collapse.


...they are being made at a time when companies are seeking — and receiving — greater protection from criminal and regulatory scrutiny.


At the same time, there are growing calls to scale back the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the legislation aimed at increasing corporate accountability in the aftermath of the Enron collapse.
Because, of course, big business has learned its lesson and will behave itself in the future. Just as they've always done.

The Hollow Army

It's been nearly 14 years since I left the Army but I remember clearly what would happen if a major unit were to have to report as not ready to deploy. Division commanders would be replaced, their careers over. Most likely the Corps commander would be replaced or at least reprimanded, their careers done as well. Reports would be sent up the chain of command to the Joint Chiefs and the repercussions would be felt all over. Lots of people would lose their jobs, training would be ramped up, there would be investigations into the reasons why people and equipment were not ready to deploy.

Such a report was rare. Not because readiness was inflated to match expectations; there were too many ways to see through any kind of artifice, but because commanders at all levels knew how important it was to be able to complete the mission (and to keep their jobs, let's be honest).

Reading this article today left me feeling sad at the state our military has been left by the ill-advised and illegal invasion of Iraq and the continuing occupation. Analysts are using the phrase "hollow Army" again as they did in the decade following the Vietnam War.

BushCo. has managed not only to increase the threat of terrorism and destroy our standing in the world, but also ruined our ability to defend ourselves and our allies.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Apology Accepted, Captain Needa

Please, please, please go read this post by Driftglass.

All of us who opposed the Iraq Invasion/War/Occupation/Mission Accomplished are due an apology from the rest of America. I stopped holding my breath a long time ago. But that doesn't negate that we are due.

Driftglass puts exactly the right amount of venom in his closing paragraphs:

Never forget that while Iraq was going up in flames, while the deathreek of the Hell that was coming was as sharp in the air as fresh blood, vomit and gasoline, and while the responsible 49% of the electorate begged and screamed and pleaded for the rest of the country to wake the fuck up, 51% of the electorate drank the Koolaid, shoved their collective heads ever further up their smug asses, called us traitors and voted for this lunatic.


Which is why the only thing I want to hear from every fucknozzle who voted for Bush in 2004 – from now until the end of time – is “I have quit my job to volunteer full time to work with disabled vets, and I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fucking sorry.
Now I don't have to figure out how to say it.

What's Good for the Goose...

With Republicans, in a last gesture of disdain for their constituents, trying to gut EPA lead regulations it seems only fitting to read this:

A report released today by Democratic staffers in Congress found that official Capitol Hill gift shops were selling items containing dangerous levels of lead, according to news stories in Roll Call and The Hill.
I wonder how many of these trinkets and gifts they've given to their friends and families? I wonder if they will call for the manufacturers to be held to the standards they are trying so hard to get rid of?

Rumsfeld to Gates: "You're on Your Own"

I imagine this is how the entire Bush administration will take their leave. "Yep, we made the whole world a friggin' mess and now it's all yours. Enjoy!" Then they'll climb back into whatever crypt they were raised from and disappear.

According to the Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" blog, when Hannity asked if Rumsfeld could suggest any advice to Robert Gates, who will succeed him, he responded that "I don’t have any advice for him."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Burdensome Regulation

The next time you hear a conservative talking about Democrats and all the regulation of industry they have/will impose, don't forget to bring up all the recent outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella in the food chain:

Although meat and dairy products are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, the safety of fruits and vegetables is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the states. But they have jurisdiction only over processing plants. Food safety at the farm level is largely self-regulated.

That has left government regulators in the position over the past eight years of nagging the produce industry to improve food safety by publishing voluntary guidelines and sending letters of admonishment.

The FDA's critics say the agency doesn't have the manpower to do more. From 2003 to 2006, the budget for the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has fallen 37 percent, according to agency data. That has meant fewer inspectors and less frequent inspections. In 2005, the FDA conducted 4,573 inspections of domestic food-processing operations. For 2006, the agency said, it hopes to conduct 3,400. There are more than 12,000 such plants in the nation.

"The reality of FDA's situation is they don't have the basic inspectors to inspect the food supply they're in charge of," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "They just don't have the people . . . to manage this problem at the farm level."
We all know how well industry regulates itself...

No Slack for Democrats

In some ways, I want to cut incoming Democrats and those new to their leadership roles a little bit of slack. They have, after all, been systematically locked out of everything over the past six years and more.

Unfortunately, the current world situation doesn't allow for any slack.

That's why this story should get wide dissemination:

In an interview with the editor on national security for Congressional Quarterly, the incoming Democratic chairman for the House Intelligence Committee [Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes] was unable to answer "fundamental questions" related to the Middle East, including which sects terror groups adhere to.
However, despite having absolute control and access to everything during this period, those Republicans in important roles were even less informed than their incoming Democratic replacements:

But Stein reports that Reyes knew more than his last round of "Gotcha" victims.

"Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI," when Stein wrote about them in October.

Willie Hulon, Executive Assistant Director for the FBI's new National Security Branch, falsely answered that Iran and Hezbollah were Sunnis, while the Republican House intelligence subcommittee chairs couldn't tell the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, although they both admitted that such knowledge was "very important."
Now is not the time for slack. Now is not the time for slackers.

Democrats had better spend the holidays boning up on such basics rather than celebrating their win and glad-handing with newly interested corporate donors.

We're watching.


I only caught a few moments of it this morning so I don't have any good links, but it sounds like a lot of Congress-critters are bad mouthing the President on the morning news shows. I even heard someone use a construction of the old saying about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. They never used the word "insanity," but I knew exactly what they meant.

What party, you ask?

Funny, they all had an 'R' after their name...

Friday, December 08, 2006


"Not winning," otherwise known as losing, has now become:

"...not succeed[ing] as fast as we wanted to succeed.
Got that?

All the chaos and the all-but-admitted civil war; the continuing death and maiming of our soldiers and Iraqis; the completely compromised Iraqi army and police; the faltering Maliki government. That's not failure!

That's slow motion success.

The other George would be so proud.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Moonbase Alpha

When I was growing up there was a sci-fi show by Gerry Anderson called "Space 1999." In that show, by the year 1999, there was a well established - and large - scientific outpost on the moon. There were also lots of nice looking young women and very cool spacecraft; so of course I watched it all the time.

Now, over 30 years after the last Apollo astronaut walked on the moon, NASA says that we should go back to the moon and establish a permanent base. And that we should start doing this within about 20 years.


From the time John Kennedy gave his famous speech to Congress about "sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to the earth," it took only nine years to make that first lunar landing. Sure there was the specter of the Soviet Union beating us to the punch hanging over everything we did then that added a little extra incentive to the entire nation. But come on...

Of course this is another BushCo. boondoggle. Lots of speeches and announcements, but nobody's being asked to push for an exciting goal, there haven't been any calls for a national effort or sacrifice to achieve this, and like almost every other potentially good thing this administration has called for, there's no funding.

Above all, again like everything else Bush touches, there's no excitement in this. No real challenge, no truly hard technical hurdles to overcome. And of course there's the knowledge that, ultimately, it just won't happen.

This is not 1961.

This is not 1999.

Above all, Bush is not JFK.


Besides, we all know where the real action is:

MARS, bitches!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Support the Troops, Part MCCIV (And Counting)

Just in case you've lost count or maybe thought that our Republican friends had started truly caring for the troops instead of using them as a bludgeon... This should do away with any of those illusions:

Army studies show that at least 20 percent to 25 percent of the soldiers who have served in Iraq display symptoms of serious mental-health problems, including depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Administration officials say there are extensive programs to heal soldiers both at home and in Iraq.
Sounds good, right? "Extensive programs." But wait, there's more:

But an NPR investigation at Colorado's Ft. Carson has found that even those who feel desperate can have trouble getting the help they need. In fact, evidence suggests that officers at Ft. Carson punish soldiers who need help, and even kick them out of the Army.
Ah, there are the "compassionate conservatives" we've come to know and love! But there has to be a reason, right?

You bet there is!

Evidence suggests that officials are kicking soldiers with PTSD out of the Army in a manner that masks the problem.

Richard Travis, formerly the Army's senior prosecutor at Ft. Carson, is now in private practice. He says that the Army has to pay special mental-health benefits to soldiers discharged due to PTSD. But soldiers discharged for breaking the rules receive fewer or even no benefits, he says.
The emphasis is mine.

That about says it all.


I'm fighting off the remains of a very bad cold or sinus infection that really had me down and out on Sunday. And when I woke up Monday, my left eye was swollen and red; that whole side of my face felt puffy and somewhat numb. I feel much better today, but still very tired and wrung out from all the work my body is doing to repel whatever microscopic invaders had wreaked such damage.

Maybe it's a bit of fevered delirium left over from my illness, but it occurred to me this morning that our body politic appears to be going through something very similar. Over the past six years our country has fallen into a kind of illness. If you read my blog or any of the others in my blogrolls, you know the symptoms. We even know exactly which organisms have caused this sickness; they've worked right out in the open, barely trying to conceal the damage they were doing to our country, to our government, to our Constitution.

But like any relatively robust body, our country, over time, has begun to reject the invaders. The recent mid-term elections could perhaps have been the break of a long fever. Our heads are still groggy and our limbs still weak, but with the break of the fever, perhaps we can now start on the long road to recovery. And it will be a long recovery; a lot of damage has been done. There are still bitter pills to swallow and we could all use a good dose of chicken soup.

And when we are recovered, healthy again in our democracy, we can start to stem the spread of our disease, help those in Britain and in Australia; those that followed too closely and caught whatever it was that we had. We can help those who we trampled in our delirium in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will take a long time - recovery is rarely quick or easy.

At the end of that recovery we can look back on this as just one of those illnesses that we all go through, soon to be forgotten in the renewed glow of health.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fresh Air

From Robert Gates' nomination hearing today:

“Mr. Gates, do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?” Mr. Levin asked.

“No, sir,” Mr. Gates replied...

Mr. Levin said Mr. Gates’s remarks amounted to a “necessary, refreshing breath of reality.”
So will Bush - and, perhaps more importantly, Cheney - breathe the fresh air or will they continue to suffocate in their delusional world where the Iraqis are still showering us with flowers and greeting us as liberators? My bet is on the latter, but I've been wrong before...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fat Tony's "No Scientist"

If our government is supposed to be representative of We the People, then I suppose Antonin Scalia represents the worst of our know-nothing conservative culture. During questioning in a case that could be pivotal in forcing the EPA to deal with global warming, Fat Tony had the following exchange:

"Respectfully, Your Honor, it is not the stratosphere. It's the troposphere," Milkey said.

"Troposphere, whatever. I told you before I'm not a scientist," Scalia said to laughter. "That's why I don't want to have to deal with global warming, to tell you the truth."
Like our President, Scalia not only doesn't know, he doesn't want to know. Not about global warming, not about peak oil, not about the civil war in Iraq.

It's long been a conservative trope that people who worry and think about things other than making money are "egg-heads" or "intellectuals" locked in their ivory towers on some Left-Coast campus. This attitude has permeated much of our culture and now the smartest among us are sneered at and dismissed; unless of course the knowledge can be used immediately to make more money or to make a better weapon (whether it works or not doesn't matter - see Star Wars - as long as it makes one or more campaign contributors more money).

The scientific consensus is well established on global warming and on its human causes. Just because Fat Tony doesn't join in on that consensus, just because conservatives don't want to stop the current gravy train of "sustainable development" doesn't mean that global temperatures won't continue to climb or that weather patterns won't continue to change.

History is full of cautionary examples of the danger of ignoring science. Even though our current President and his advisors choose to ignore the lessons of science and history the world continues to obey the laws of chemistry and physics. We continue to elect such know-nothings at our own peril.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Afghanistan is Lost

Afghanistan; you remember that place, don't you? It's where the 9/11 hijackers trained or received support. It's where al Qaeda - protected by the Taliban - was based, where BushCo. struck out with the support of the world and where they quickly lost interest as they turned to their long-lusted for invasion of Iraq.

It's long been on a slide back towards complete Taliban control. That long slide is mostly complete:

The gunmen came at night to drag Mohammed Halim away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.
Afghanistan is lost.

Can Iraq be far behind?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Through the Woods and Over the River

Vacation is nearly over.

It's been warm and wonderful here in sunny Florida. I've had my share of turkey, I've had a great time with family, but now it's time to head back to the great white North.

Back to work. Back to the news - not that there's been all that much happening. Back to blogging!

I hope that all of you had a great Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Over the River and Through the Woods

I've almost forgotten what the word vacation really means. But this coming week I'm sure going to do my best to remember.

My wife and I are flying out of Rochester on Monday morning, headed for Florida. All of my family still lives there, on the mid-Gulf Coast, in the town of Bradenton. This Thanksgiving will be the first holiday of any sort I've spent with my family in over 6 years and I'm really looking forward to it.

The fact that there will be sunshine (which we haven't seen here in - I'm not making this up - over 7 days) and temperatures in the 70s and perhaps the 80s only makes it all the sweeter.

Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately - not only will I not have regular access to a computer, but I probably will not keep up with the news. I probably will not post until I return on the 29th.

So I'll take this chance to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. We have lots to be thankful for and we should take all the chances we have to celebrate those things and those people who make our lives happier.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Be Afraid

The rumors have flown for years, the deployment of two carrier groups to the area have fueled the speculation, but I think most people didn't really believe that BushCo. would attack Iran.

But the rumors have not died down. The carrier groups remain in the Persian Gulf.

In yesterday's post at Altercation, Eric Alterman linked to a series of articles by William R. Polk, an author who "was the member of the U.S. Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East from 1961 to 1965. Subsequently, he was professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago and later president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs."

See the articles here, here and here.

Polk has laid out the background, current status and the ideas and ideology driving this idiocy. His arguments seem cogent and well informed and he certainly has the CV to back his claim to expertise.

What is most chilling is the final section of the third article where he describes the probable fallout of an attack on Iran. There are chilling echoes of the current debacle in Iraq with the potential for a much worse outcome.

Please read these articles, please talk about them, please write or call your members of congress to let them know how much this scares you.

Failure May Be the Only Option

I am not surprised that top military commanders do not want Democrats to impose a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq. And honestly, I don't blame them. Right now, to them, withdrawal looks like failure on their part. It's too soon for withdrawal from the battlefield without a clear victory for these commanders, most of whom are Vietnam veterans.

Mostly it won't matter how often they will be told that they and their men fought honorably; and that it was the politicians who sent them on a fool's errand. I know how military people think - and they all want to complete the mission. They all want to win.

Unfortunately for them and unfortunately for the new Congressional leadership, there may be no way for us to win.

While American commanders have suggested that civil war is possible in Iraq, many leaders, experts and ordinary people in Baghdad and around the Middle East say it is already underway, and that the real worry ahead is that the conflict will destroy the flimsy Iraqi state and draw in surrounding countries.

Whether the U.S. military departs Iraq sooner or later, the United States will be hard-pressed to leave behind a country that does not threaten U.S. interests and regional peace, according to U.S. and Arab analysts and political observers.

"We're not talking about just a full-scale civil war. This would be a failed-state situation with fighting among various groups," growing into regional conflict, Joost Hiltermann, Middle East project director for the International Crisis Group, said by telephone from Amman, Jordan.
So not only have the neo-cons and their puppet President lied their way into a war, not only have they bungled the execution of that war, not only have they plundered the nation's treasury to the tune of $8 billion per month, not only... that list could go on and on. But not only have they done all of that, but they've put us into a no-win situation with the possibility that we could wind up being responsible for igniting a regional conflict that could kill millions and keep the region in a state of war for decades.

And when we wind up withdrawing at some point in the near future - and we will have to withdraw - our politicians will have burdened our military once more with the albatross of an unwinnable war and a peace with no honor.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm So Proud

If you're bemoaning the fact that we are no longer the shining beacon of democracy that we used to be, there always this...

U.S. top arms supplier to developing world

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Who Said There Was No Plan for Post-Invasion Iraq?

Based on observations of the chaos that broke out after "Mission Accomplished," just about everyone who didn't have their heads in the sand.

Now we know for sure:

There is no one on the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has visited Iraq more often than Gen. Mike Hagee, whose term as Commandant of the United States Marine Corps ends Monday.


Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of those cities. He wanted to know what the plan was for Phase IV — military terminology for the phase that follows the end of major combat operations. Phase IV is, in other words, what comes after "mission accomplished." Hagee says that he sent his questions up the chain of command, as they say in the military — and never heard back.
Never heard back.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps asked a question. And never heard back.




The Rehabilitation of Judith Miller

Maybe spending a little time in jail did her good.

Miller said many Americans don't understand how their access to information and the freedom of the press have been affected in the past few years.

"We are less free and less safe," she said, explaining that there is a "growing secrecy in the name of national security."
But then again, maybe not.

The blurring of entertainment and news and the relaxing of journalistic standards can be seen in online bloggers who are critical of people without giving them an opportunity to respond or who don't post corrections when they learn that what they have posted is wrong, she said.

"I'm worried about bloggers," she said. "(A post) starts as a rumor and within 24 hours it's repeated as fact."

While she advocates a federal shield law to protect mainstream journalists from divulging their sources, she doesn't favor extending that to bloggers who don't follow the standards and ethnics [sic] of the journalism industry.
Pot, meet Kettle.

I wonder if she's in favor or shield laws being extended to so-called journalists who don't follow the standards and ethics of the journalism industry?

Feeling Better

I've always found it amazing what the body's attempt to expel something foreign does to us. Not only can an infection knock us down for varying lengths of time, but the recovery process can be amazingly fast in most cases.

Anyway, I'm feeling better - although very tired - today. Thankfully I didn't have to go to my doctor.

But thinking about going to the doctor got me to thinking about our healthcare system and by coincidence today's news had a story about the "Big Three" automakers meeting with BushCo. today. High on the list of topics to be discussed under the general heading of competitiveness, is the cost of health insurance that the car manufacturers have to carry in the US that their competitors operating overseas do not. They claim that their portion of medical insurance coverage for employees adds about $1,000 to the cost of each vehicle.

This would be a great opportunity for Bush to do something that might add the slightest of luster to his shredded legacy. A Republican making a start towards a single payer system in the US would be an incredible way for Bush to help level the competitive landscape for all US manufacturers as well as to rid us of the stigma of having so many citizens with no access to health care.

But there's no way that will happen. Perhaps it was just my fevered mind playing tricks on me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Feeling Like Crap

I've come down with a wicked cold somehow.

Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes; the whole works.

Stay back, I don't want to give this to anyone. Please go visit someone in my blogroll, hopefully I'll be feeling better tomorrow.


Saturday, November 11, 2006


It seems inconceivable to me that with soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan every day that Veterans Day - for most people - is still just an excuse to have a day off from school and, in rare instances, from work. The lessons of past wars seems to be lost on people today.

Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most considering that nobody in my circle of friends has ever served in the military and very few of their parents did either.
Much like our illustrious Vice President, they had other priorities.

Young men and women are struggling to recover from the most horrific of injuries incurred in what will probably prove to be this generation's Vietnam and all around me today and yesterday were signs touting "Veteran's Day Sales" and people who were mindlessly taking advantage of some early November warm weather and a day off. Everywhere I went the atmosphere was more holiday than memorial.

I stopped by an American Legion Post this afternoon - a final stop for a funeral for a friend's mother whose husband had been a member. Other than family and friends, there were few members in sight and I wondered what they must think of the situation we find ourselves in.

Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most.

But I remember what it's like to miss holidays and birthdays and my daughter's first steps while far away. I remember what it's like to mourn the loss of brothers-in-arms when something goes awry in peace or war. I remember what it's like to ring the doorbell of a fellow soldier's wife so that I could tell her that her husband wouldn't be coming home any more.

Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most.

But this year there is some hope as well. Hope that wasn't there last year when it seemed that "stay the course" would be the epitaph of our military and perhaps of our country. It remains as true today as it was on Monday before the elections that there is no good or easy way out of the quagmire we've created for ourselves in Iraq.

But it is true now that at least the adults have started taking control of things in Washington. Perhaps next November, while there will certainly be more Veterans that there was today and more dead and wounded as well, perhaps there will not be that dread that more will be joining the ghosts of the past that were all around us today.

But maybe I'm just more sensitive to it than most.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A New World?

Somehow, on our (almost) nightly walk tonight, the air seemed fresher and cleaner; the stars shone brighter, even through the clouds, the coyotes - howling in the valley - sounded freer.

It's Now Official - Both Houses Taken

Details here on George "Macaca" Allen conceding the race in Virginia.

Congratulations to Jim Webb!

Blogger's been up and down all day. Which is okay, I'm taking a break today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Both Houses

This has been a total BushCo. smackdown.

Rumsfeld GONE!

Breaking on MSNBC.

Ex-head of CIA Robert Gates nominated as replacement.

Democracy Spread at the Point of a... Blog?

While I certainly can't claim to be anything other than a bit player in the blogosphere, it is certainly good to see that all of our efforts, combined, and especially those of the big bloggers whom the rest of us orbit is having a national impact. The 2004 Presidential race was probably too early in the evolution of the "big blog" for there to be a truly national effect, but it seems that this off-year election was perfectly timed to be the first.

What better subject for bloggers and their web of contacts and readers than voting problems?

Here's the NYT on the subject this morning:

Blogs of all political stripes spent most of yesterday detailing reports of voting machine malfunctions and ballot shortages, effectively becoming an online national clearinghouse of the polling problems that still face the election system.

And in a new twist this year, many bloggers buttressed their accounts of electoral shenanigans with links to videos posted on the video Web site YouTube.
And a final feel-good report on the bloggers themselves should make us all feel a little bit better about ourselves, while once again showing the shallowness of the MSM:

Constantine Stavropoulos, the owner of the cafe, said he had closed its doors for the “blog party,” which the network [CNN] periodically broadcast and streamed online. He said he expected the bloggers — an attractive bunch, he said — to linger long after the votes were in.

“Bloggers look a lot better than I thought they would,” Mr. Stavropoulos said.

Bush Talks to Democrats - Through Iraq

If you've wondered how BushCo. would react to the change in Republican fortunes in Congress, you'll have to go to Iraq to get an answer. Before the last votes have been counted, this misadministration has sent this message to Iraqis:

The United States ambassador sought on Wednesday to reassure Iraqis that U.S. policy would not dramatically alter after Democrats seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives in midterm elections.
Not all Iraqis are on board, though.

"I hope this will change the Bush policy in the Islamic world and especially in Iraq," said 48-year-old engineer Suheil Jabar, a Shiite Muslim. "We hope American foreign policy will change and that living conditions in Iraq will improve."
As everyone said last night, and as I wrote in my last post: "now comes the hard part."

A New Day

The House changed hands in a big way with Dems picking up seats at the high end of projections (33 so far). The Senate remains to be called with two races still too close to call (Virginia and Montana). But there's no doubt that things went our way last night.

Now comes the hard part.

But it feels good!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Early Results

So far (10:10 pm), so good.

Keep your fingers crossed, and if you're on the West Coast and haven't voted yet, get out there and VOTE!

I agree with Chris Matthews (something that happens so seldom) that one of the first thing Democrats need to do should this continue to develop so well is to make a clear, unambiguous statement of their plans for the war in Iraq.

Tomorrow we may wake up to a new country, but just because we've supported the Democrats throughout these past several, horrible years doesn't mean we won't hold them to account with as much fervor as we've shown the Republicans

We're still watching.

Can We Get U.N. Election Observers?

Some of the early reports of "irregularities" leave me feeling like I live in some third-world country that can't even hold an election without handholding from the outside world.

In the Washington, D.C., area, NBC affiliate News4 reported on its Web site that it had received e-mail from a viewer in Virginia who said he received a phone call from so-called volunteers threatening voters with arrest if they cast ballots.


Meanwhile, programming errors and inexperience with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana and Ohio and leaving some in Florida with little choice but use paper ballots instead.
The FBI is already involved in Virginia, some news outlets are claiming that there will be close races that might not be able to be fully tabulated until Wednesday.

Only Republicans gain by suppressing the number of voters. Only Republicans.

Are we on democracy rations? Did we export it all to Iraq? They were able to vote there with nothing more than paper and pencil and a bottle of ink. What the hell have we become?

Vote for change.

Olbermann in 2008?

I'm not sure what's worse; that I would consider voting for an ex-sportscaster or that an ex-sportscaster has a better grip on history and our constitution and our place in the world than our President. Or, in fact, than many of the people currently being considered for that post. Certainly he speaks better than just about any politician I've heard over the past six years, save perhaps Bill Clinton.

Check out Keith Olbermann's pean to checks and balances here.

And Now We Wait...

I voted this morning in what the Republicans are calling "The Killing Fields" or " The Blowout Belt." The little town I live in - in fact the whole county - is heavily Republican. Lots of farmers and older folks; the median income is somewhere in the $48K range... It's definitely one of the areas where the people vote against their better financial interests by voting Republican.

There were five or six people already at the polling place, inside an old brick elementary school. The poll workers were very nice and helpful, but all of them were women and all of them were well past retirement age. Everything went smoothly and there were no problems. I doubt I will get called to witness any problems at the polls around here. I hope that the rest of the country can vote so easily today.

Hopefully the "Blowout Belt" name is accurate.


I'm off to vote this morning. In the sleepy little New York town I live and vote in there's not likely to be anything untoward going on at the polls. In fact, this early in the morning, there's not likely to be much going on at all. But I know that that won't be true for everyone this morning.

Yesterday I was able to talk one coworker into voting today - and she will most likely vote Democratic. Have you gotten anyone to vote who might not otherwise have done so?

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's nearly impossible to find instances of Democratic efforts to suppress voter turnout. It's almost universally agreed that the more people who vote, the more Democrats benefit. It's also why it's almost always Republicans who are responsible for all the challenging and intimidation of voters and why they are nearly always behind schemes like recent illegal robocalling.

There are lots of states where this is happening and several states where attorneys general or other legal and/or election officials have shut them down as illegal. This is a growing scandal and it's time to call in the FBI.

Get all the details at AmericaBlog.

Had enough?


And Should Mehlman be Right?

All of you parents with kids in the Reserves or that are old enough to be drafted, you'll have more of this to look forward to:

The Army's National Guard and Reserve are bracing for possible new and accelerated call-ups, spurred by high demand for U.S. troops in Iraq, that leaders caution could undermine the citizen-soldier force as it struggles to rebuild.

Two Army National Guard combat brigades with about 7,000 troops have been identified recently in classified rotational plans for possible special deployment to Iraq, according to senior Army and Pentagon officials, who asked that the specific units not be named. One brigade could be diverted to Iraq next year from another assignment, and the other could be sent there in 2008, a year ahead of schedule.
You've been warned.

Had enough?


A Pipe Dream

What's Ken Mehlman been smoking? Sure the polls have been showing a somewhat shrinking gap between Democrats and Republican, but, as George Stephanopoulis said this evening on ABC news, the Republicans had a smaller generic lead in 1994 when they swept into power with 51 seats.

In a memo released to the media, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman touts "major gains" by the GOP, and points to signs of a "minimal change in the balance of Congress," RAW STORY has learned.
Now if the system is strong enough to withstand continued voter suppression by Republicans, we'll see what voter disgust really looks like!

Worst Case Scenario

I have two questions for anyone stopping by over the next couple of days:

1. What will happen, in general, should there be widespread attempts at voter suppression, last minute roll purges and/or outright fraud at polling places? Will there be protests and demonstrations, maybe violence? Or will voters revert to sheeple and meekly accept it all?

2. What will you do, specifically, should you be witness to any of the above at your polling place?
Leave your thoughts in the comments, talk about it, get others to think about it.

Most importantly, don't forget:


I Wonder If He'll Vote?

Dick Cheney's going hunting again. This time on election day. I assume he'll have already voted. But given all the glitches in e-voting and the rampant voter intimidation by the GOP and the annoying robocalling by Republican campaigns, maybe he feels he doesn't have to.

This time he's taking his daughter, Mary. I wonder if she's bringing her body armor...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nobody Could Have Predicted...

Well, actually they could. And did.

The U.S. government conducted a series of secret war games in 1999 that anticipated an invasion of Iraq would requ 400,000 troops, and even then chaos might ensue.
But of course the MSM released this story on a Sunday and it likely won't survive the news cycle into the week especially not with Sadaam's verdict and the election taking all the oxygen out of the system.

“The conventional wisdom is the U.S. mistake in Iraq was not enough troops,” said Thomas Blanton, the archive’s director. “But the Desert Crossing war game in 1999 suggests we would have ended up with a failed state even with 400,000 troops on the ground.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Why Don't the Troops Support the Troops?

I was in the Army for 14 years, including four years at West Point. During that time, as far as I could see, everybody, from the generals down to the privates, active duty, reserve and family members read The Army Times. I'm sure it was and is the same in the other four services with their respective "Times" papers. The editors and writers are very much "in the know" about what goes on in the services. In many cases they are ex-soldiers.

In short, it's pretty much impossible to get more "Support the Troops" than these papers.

That's why this is so devastating:

Just days after President Bush publicly affirmed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's job security through the end of his term, a family of publications catering to the military will publish an editorial calling for the defense secretary's removal.
That this editorial will be published just the day before the mid-term elections is particularly damning. This timing cannot be accidental. This is just a step (or two) shy of a revolt of the generals. I do not believe that I'm overstating the gravity of this.

AmericaBlog has the entire text here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Republican Party Imploding

I can't keep up with all the scandals, missteps and crimes. But John and friends over at AmericaBlog can.

The latest? How about the RNC taking money from gay porn producers? The party where homophobia is de rigeur even if only hypocritically.

There's also the most important evangelical preacher in the country, Ted Haggard, going down in flames over his at least three year liaison with a male prostitute and use of crystal meth.

There's more Mark Foley madness.

How about Repugs closing down the only office actually doing real oversight in Iraq?

Oh, and at the urging of the Republican leadership, there were documents laying out how to make an atomic weapon put on the internet. And they were there for a long time. Until the New York Times called them on it.

There's more. Lots more.

Sweet Schadenfreude!

Had enough?


Bush Jong Il? George W. Kim?

We should be so proud...

The United States is seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbors and allies, with Britons saying President Bush poses a greater danger than North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, a survey found Friday.

Comedy Break

Funniest thing I've heard in a long, long time:

Tom DeLay, the former Republican congressman from Texas and House majority leader who resigned in June under an ethical cloud, came to Long Island yesterday to promote his vision of "moral clarity" that he said should guide Americans' discussion about how to best combat terrorism.
DeLay and "moral clarity" in the same sentence? Now that's funny!

What Bush's "Democracy" Looks Like

Not that Republicans care what the rest of the world thinks of us, but... you've got to be fucking kidding me:

A military dog handler convicted for his role in the prisoner abuse scandal has been ordered back to help train the country's police.
Do we need further proof that the idiots in charge of this misadventure in Iraq should be drug from their offices in shackles and sent before the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague?

So Nine Republicans Walk Into a Bar, Part II

How low have Republicans sunk in their dirty, no holds barred street fight to keep control of Congress? So low that some Republicans - the ones with a shred of decency left - are starting to leave the party. Yesterday it was the story of nine former Republicans running as democrats. Today we get more fallout from the Allen - Webb race in Virginia.

The headline:

Frank Schaeffer: I Should be Supporting Allen. Instead, I'm Leaving the Party
Frank Schaeffer is a relatively well-known writer and evangelical with close family ties with the Bush Family. His father, a minister, often visited with the Bushes at home and at the White House.

The bottom line:

My wife and I have reached the tipping point. We plan to go to town hall to dump our Republican voter registration and reregister as independents. I don't care anymore what party someone is in. These days, what I care about is what they're made of.
Maybe, just maybe there is hope for next Tuesday.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

That's Gonna Leave a Mark!

How do you think this will play with all the parents out there with kids not quite old enough to join the military or be drafted who might have thought their little darlings might not have to fight?

Had enough?


So Nine Republicans Walk Into a Bar...

Seeing Republicans branded as Democrats is old hat if you can stand to watch FOX News; they have a nasty habit of showing Republicans in trouble with a 'D' after their name rather than the correct 'R.'

But this is something new:

But this year President George W. Bush, the country's leading Republican, is making a last-minute campaign stop in Kansas, where at least nine candidates running on the November 7 ballot are Republicans-turned-Democrats. They include a veteran county prosecutor seeking to unseat the Republican attorney general and a former state Republican Party chairman running as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
That 'R' after their name has become radioactive.

A Burr Under Bush's Saddle

Seymour Hersh continues to show what a real journalist looks like. He can speak truth to power like nobody else.

"The bad news," investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told a Montreal audience last Wednesday, "is that there are 816 days left in the reign of King George II of America." The good news? "When we wake up tomorrow morning, there will be one less day."
The list of our government's malfeasance that he has exposed is a growing list of shame, but also a glowing beacon of the power of a free press.

Since his 1969 expose of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, which is widely believed to have helped turn American public opinion against the Vietnam War, he has broken news about the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia, covert C.I.A. attempts to overthrow Chilean president Salvador Allende, and, more recently, the first details about American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
His next expose?

"...there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq."
Sooner would be better, Seymour.

The Buck Stops...

With someone else if you're a Republican.

Somehow it's James Webb's fault that two of George Allen's thugs beat up on a man trying to ask Allen a question.

Somehow you can vote in other than your own district - a felony - and just not cooperate with the police if you're Ann Coulter.

Somehow - at least according to the Commander-in-Chief's House Majority Leader - it's the generals' fault that BushCo.'s war is a quagmire.

Somehow it's never your fault. If you're a Republican.

Had enough?


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Drip, Drip, Drip

The truth, slowed every step of the way by BushCo., is slowly making itself known about so many different aspects of their misadministration, most especially the quagmire in Iraq. A few - too few - journalists are actually doing their jobs to get the truth out. Take this very sad story about how decisions about how we treat prisoners can affect our own soldiers:

The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton, Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn’t make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq died by her own hand after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.

She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Az., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”
Note below a journalist actually doing the hard work of tracking down facts and not just repeating the latest talking points:

But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston decided to probe deeper and filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the government. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed….”
We could use more reporters willing to do the hard work to get real answers.

The bigger issue remains BushCo. working desperately to hide the real results of their war based on lies. To keep up a lie you have to tell more lies; eventually you forget what lies you told to whom. Eventually lies come back around to bite you on the ass. This administration deserves every bite on the ass it's getting.


The Republicans and their lapdogs in the media have spun up a mighty storm over John Kerry's remarks yesterday. They are in full outrage mode; I thought Rush Limbaugh was going to have a goddamn heart attack - he was jumping around, waving his arms; you'd have thought he was purposefully off his meds.

But here's what really ought to inspire outrage; in all of us: Both constructions of Kerry's remarks, what he meant to say and what it sounded like he said, are true.

Bush did just scrape by in school, getting an undergraduate degree only by the skin of his teeth and a few well placed donations to his Alma Mater by his well-heeled family. His lack of curiosity and lack of mental discipline really was a key element in our country being in the quagmire that is Iraq.

And, unfortunately, it always has been true - and still is - that the soldiers who fight our wars are, for the most part, the poor and under-educated. The rich have always been able to find a way to buy their way out of battle, from the Revolution right through to today. Those who've done well in school and gone on to university have either been able to get deferals or have been able to make their way into the Guard or Reserve as commissioned officers. Those who have wound up on the front lines, fighting the battles chosen by or committed to by the rich and powerful have always been those with fewer opportunities.

Those are the real issues that ought to inspire outrage. But the mighty Wurlitzer has been once more pulled from the closet and it's wheezing and grinding out that same old cloud of noise and distraction. Hopefully, the rest of our fellow citizens have had enough distraction. Hopefully they have learned to see through the noise and to the heart of the real issues.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Violating a citizen's rights to free speech and to be in a public place has become commonplace anywhere near Republicans. It's a disturbing trend that started with the Secret Service keeping an opinion/news cordon sanitaire around Bush. Seems it's made its way all the way to the fetid bottom of the Republican food chain.

Senator George Allen, (R) made a campaign stop in Charlottesville Tuesday morning and it was met with controversy.

As Senator Allen was exiting a ballroom, coming to talk to the media, a protestor started yelling and asking, "Why did you spit on your first wife?". He wasn't able to get near the senator as he was tackled by three men wearing Allen stickers, presumed to be staffers. He was pushed and manhandled and ended up on the floor, near windows at the Omni.
These guys were not even Secret Service, just Allen staffers. I'm sure this "protestor" can - and should - file assault charges against these thugs. But as with so many things I guess it's okay if you're a Republican.

Where Was This Guy in 2004?

After stating the obvious, that the folks who always have and still fight our wars are predominately the poor and under-educated, John Kerry was on the receiving end of White House petulance.

"Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "This is an absolute insult."
Pretty standard fare and what we've come to expect from Tony Snowjob when he can't answer with any substance. What was unexpected - at least in light of his rather weak-kneed response to the Swift Boaters - was Kerry's response:

"This is the classic GOP playbook," Kerry said in a harshly worded statement. "I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium."
Once again we're left to ask "where the hell was this kind of spine in 2004?"

More Republican Priorities

The Never-Ending War on Terror, Faith-Based Missile Defense and Bridges to Nowhere are draining the federal coffers. Tax cuts to corporations and the rich are ensuring that those coffers are never refilled. So, given the chance to at least try to bring a little bit of balance to the books, what does BushCo. do?

The U.S. Interior Department has dropped claims that Chevron Corp. (CVX) systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties, The New York Times reports in its Tuesday edition.

The agency had ordered Chevron to pay $6 million in additional royalties but could have sought tens of millions more had it prevailed. The decision also sets a precedent that could make it easier for oil and gas companies to lower the value of what they pump each year from federal property and thus their payments to the government, the paper said.
To hell with our kids and grandkids, there's money to be made - by their patrons in big oil.

And We're Winning Now?

There are no issues they can talk about. American's want to know what's going to happen in Iraq and in the Never-Ending War on Terror. So the Cheerleader-in-Chief is left with this:

Speaking at a rally held at Georgia Southern University to support Max Burn's bid for Congress on Monday afternoon, President Bush insisted that "the Democrat (sic) approach in Iraq comes down to this: the terrorists win and America loses."
Finding a way forward out of the quagmire in Iraq is now losing. Staying the course is now winning.

We'll Stand Down When?

Not that you can necessarily believe anything they say, but BushCo. has been saying that we can stand down in Iraq when the Iraqis stand up for themselves. So let's just say that this once we take them at face value. You know; "fool me once... can't get fooled again."

So, when might we be able to stand down? According to General George Casey, who gets his talking points from the very top, that would be in 12 - 18 months. What about if you ask the people who are actually training Iraqi security forces?

The infiltration of Iraqi police by militias may delay the United States handover "for decades," American soldiers training the Iraqi police tell the Washington Post.


Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team overseeing the training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad says, "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

According to American soldiers interviewed by the paper, despite extensive evidence of police ties to the militias which they have turned over to Iraqi officials, "no one has ever been criminally charged or even lost their jobs."
As always, the truth on the ground is always something different than the story we get from BushCo.

Monday, October 30, 2006


We already know that conservative priorities - at least those espoused by the current gang of thieves - are, at best, misplaced. The latest word on investment to mitigate global warming which all but the GOP faithful acknowledge is going to be a huge problem within the next 25 to 100 years, provides the latest illustration.

In the United States, annual federal spending for all energy research and development — not just the research aimed at climate-friendly technologies — is less than half what it was a quarter-century ago. It has sunk to $3 billion a year in the current budget from an inflation-adjusted peak of $7.7 billion in 1979, according to several different studies.


President Bush has sought an increase to $4.2 billion for 2007, but that would still be a small fraction of what most climate and energy experts say would be needed.

Federal spending on medical research, by contrast, has nearly quadrupled, to $28 billion annually, since 1979. Military research has increased 260 percent, and at more than $75 billion a year is 20 times the amount spent on energy research.

Emphasis is mine.
Our grandchildren will be living in a world warmer, with more violent weather; they'll be starving from the loss of cropland, many in refugee camps having been driven out of coastal areas by rising sea levels. But damn it, they'll have the best weapons money can buy.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Have Republicans Made Us Safer?

They've ignored the security of our ports and chemical manufacturing sites. But at least at airports, the weak spot exploited by the 9/11 terrorists have been secured, right?

Screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the starting points for the Sept. 11 hijackers, failed 20 of 22 security tests conducted by undercover U.S. agents last week, missing concealed bombs and guns at checkpoints throughout the major air hub's three terminals, according to federal security officials.

The tests, conducted Oct. 19 by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, also revealed failures by screeners to follow standard operating procedures while checking passengers and their baggage for prohibited items, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It's in their own commercials; Osam bin Ladin is still on the loose. Our ports are riddled with security holes, the major oil and chemical companies have congress in their pockets ensuring they don't have to pay to upgrade their security. And airports - the very place where 9/11 started - have fared no better.

Remember as you walk into the voting booth; you are not safer today and it's Republicans' fault.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cheney: Torture is "a No-Brainer"

If you voted for this pack of rabid dogs, you own this:

Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.
If you are strictly a utilitarian - without regard for what's right - you might be tempted to say, "what the hell, at least we're preventing more attacks," You would be wrong.

The U.S. Army, senior Republican lawmakers, human rights experts and many experts on the laws of war, however, consider water-boarding cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment that's banned by U.S. law and by international treaties that prohibit torture. Some intelligence professionals argue that it often provides false or misleading information because many subjects will tell their interrogators what they think they want to hear to make the water-boarding stop.
You might also be tempted to think that these techniques are only used on those "damned foreigners." You would be wrong.

Legal scholars have said that clauses in the recently signed Military Commissions Act allow the President to declare anyone - citizen or not - as an "enemy combatant" for an exceptionally wide array of reasons.

Everything these guys have touched has turned to shit; including our Constitution.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tactics vs Strategy

When the President starts talking about tactics the war is already lost.

Tactics are what field commanders study and practice. Tactics is the science of how to move individuals or units around on the battlefield to best meet - at the highest levels - strategic goals. Politicians - and most especially the President - should be talking about broad-stroke strategy. It's the job of the generals to translate those strategies into tactical orders for their subordinate commanders. Eventually those orders are translated right down to the soldier walking behind an M-16, driving a tank or flying a helicopter.

When Bush starts talking tactics, there are only a couple of possible reasons. The first is that we already know he has trouble saying "strategy;" anyone remember "strategery?" The second possibility is that he doesn't know the difference between strategy and tactics; not a comforting proposition, but one that wouldn't surprise me in the least (although you'd think his handlers would brief him more thoroughly). The final possibility is one that's even scarier than the second: think Johnson and Nixon and Viet Nam.

The thought of Bush leaning over a map of the Iraq and discussing where to place units, what targets should be hit and how infantry squads should move from house to house is frightening beyond belief.

The vast majority of citizens, politicians and - most especially - media talking heads have never served and know little to nothing about military matters. So the idea of the President talking about "tactics" rather than "strategy" does not frighten them as much as it should. But then that's a huge part of why we've found ourselves in this situation in the first place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bush Poses With Latest Summer Footwear

"Stay the Course."

That is so yesterday. In fact, Bush was never for stay the course... or maybe he was for it before he was against it.

"No Timetable for Iraqi Withdrawal."

We can't let the terr'ists know when we're going to leave, they'll just wait us out. We can't just "cut and run." Or that was the story yesterday. Today, well, maybe leaving isn't such a bad thing.

U.S. officials said Tuesday Iraq’s government has agreed to develop a timeline for progress by the end of the year, and Iraqi forces should be able to take full control of security in the country in the next 12 to 18 months with “some level” of American support.

Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, also said he felt the United States should continue to focus on drawing down the number of American forces in the country, adding that he would not hesitate to ask for more troops if he felt they were necessary.
Maybe more like "cut and walk."

UPDATE: Seems BushCo. is even changing its mind on what to call the "insurgents" in Iraq. Not terr'ists," not even insurgents any more. Nope.

Both men spoke in unusually conciliatory terms about the Sunni insurgents who have been the main source of attacks on American troops until recently, referring to them as “the resistance.” General Casey called them “the Sunnis who fight us and claim to be the honorable resistance of Iraq,” and said that American officials have begun talking with them, along with the Iraqi government.
Now they are honorable. The people who they incited with an illegal invasion and occupation, who are killing our soldiers - 89 this month so far, now they are honorable.

To quote John Aravosis at AmericaBlog:

"Had enough yet?"

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pay No Attention to That War Behind the Curtain!

So the spin this week will be about the economy. The spin machine says it's not really about taking attention away from Iraq. No, really.

With his party facing a difficult midterm election, President Bush is focusing on the positive this week: a growing economy he is using to try to persuade voters to keep Republicans in power in Congress.

White House advisers say Bush is not trying to change the subject from a deteriorating situation in Iraq, and that he will continue to talk about Iraq and the war on terrorism as the Nov. 7 election nears. But Bush advisers said they think the president should get more credit for recent positive economic news.
Of course this is about diverting attention from Iraq, and Afghanistan and North Korea. But if Democrats were a little more on the ball, they could make this a dangerous thing for BushCo. to talk about, too.

The 800 pound gorilla in the room on the economy is the cost of the war. Yes, the DOW is over 12,000 right now; gas prices are down. But none of this says anything about the damage to future budgets and to the economy of the massive outlays for the failed Iraq war. Billions of dollars every month, emergency allocations every couple of months to keep paying for the war. None of which is in the current or the proposed budget. Military equipment is being destroyed and worn down by continuous operations. More soldiers are needed and the National Guard and Reserve, while they are on active duty, are paid for out of the Federal Budget.

Keep talking about the economy, 'Dub. That's going to catch up with you, too.

UPDATE: Added link to article about the cost of the war.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Smacking God Upside the Head

Not that I believe that there is one, but...

I've been through a lot of crap over the past five years and many well meaning friends have said things to me like, "god never gives you more than you can handle." My reply - when I had the strength for snark - was that if "I ever meet that son of a bitch I'll smack him right upside the head."

This article only confirms my instincts:

The top US general defended the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying it is inspired by God.

"He leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country," said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
I'll save some strength for a good smack for both General Pace and Rummy, too.

US Exporting "Terror Weapons"?

An article on The Raw Story about unusual injuries seen in the Gaza Strip led me an article on Defense Tech. So let me connect the dots:

Doctors in Gaza are finding some strange injuries after Israeli attacks:

Doctors in Gaza have reported previously unseen injuries from Israeli weapons that cause severe burning and leave deep internal wounds, often resulting in amputations or death.
The injuries were first seen in July, when Israel launched operations in Gaza following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.

Doctors said that, unlike traditional combat injuries, there was no large shrapnel found in the bodies and there appeared to be a "dusting" on damaged internal organs.
The article, from The Guardian, goes on to speculation that perhaps Israel is using a new class of weapons called Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). Israeli sources refuse to comment on the types of weapons in its arsenal or being used in any operations, but other Isreali sources claim that "... no one in Israel ever developed such a Dime weapon. It doesn't exist at all."

Notice that Isaac Ben-Israel, a professor at Tel Aviv University and a retired Israel air force general who was involved in weapons development, only says that they have never developed such a weapon. However, the United States - Israel's biggest supplier of arms and munitions - has developed just such a weapon.

The U.S. military is working on a small, precise bomb that could hit targets "previously off limits to the warfighter."[snip]

Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) is one of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s responses to the challenge of fighting in an urban environment without hurting innocent bystanders in the process.
So, how can I ask the question posed in the title to this post? Well that hangs on the one sentence I snipped out of the above quote from Defense Tech:

The problem is, it might cause cancer.
Even that admission is a bit candy coated. In the same article, there is the following result for testing the effects of the tungsten that is the dense metal that gives these new weapons their name:

In a study designed to simulate shrapnel injuries, pellets of weapons-grade tungsten alloy were implanted in 92 rats. Within five months all the animals developed a rare cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, according to John Kalinich's team at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland.
Read that carefully - go check out the whole article, there's a link there to the full study: 100% cancer development.


And we've likely exported either the actual weapons or the technology to Israel. Which is using it on the Palestinians. If these don't qualify as biological weapons, I'm not sure the term has meaning any more. If our government exported or transfered these weapons to Israel - and you just know that the Israelis would use them - knowing the results of this study, then they - no WE are guilty of exporting "Weapons of Mass Destruction," biological weapons, call them what you will.

Another criminal act by our criminal government.

Another impeachable offense by this administration.

Another stain on the rapidly tattering reputation of our once great nation.

'Beginning of the end of America'

Maybe the most important thing you will read today.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.
This is not hyperbole, this is not hysteria. This is political criticism at its best at the most dangerous of times.

Read this. E-mail it to friends and family. Print it out and post it where it will be read.

Think Thomas Paine.

"these are the times that try men's souls"

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Our Republic Dies Not with a Bang But with a Yawn

Keith Olbermann has - with too little notice - done yeoman's work letting us know just how horrible the Military Commission's Act really is. His previous article laid out how all but one of the ten articles of the Bill of Rights are rendered obsolete by the Act. His latest is an interview with Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University.

A teaser, but go read the whole thing:

OLBERMANN: Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?

TURLEY: It does. And it’s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president. In fact, Madison said that he created a system essentially to be run by devils, where they could not do harm, because we didn’t rely on their good motivations.

Now we must. And people have no idea how significant this is. What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.
I don't know about any of you, but I'm none to sanguine as to the "sanity and honesty" of Bush. As bad as they are, in comparison, Foleygate doesn't matter, Ney doesn't matter, Abramoff is a piker, honestly Iraq isn't as important as this story.

But as Olbermann says, the raping of our Constitution has been greeted with a national yawn.

BushCo. Owns This

Here's what going to war based on lies has gotten us. Here's what "Support the Troops - Repbublican Style" has gotten us. Here's what "staying the course" has gotten us.

The military reported 10 U.S. troops killed in bombings and combat a day earlier, raising to 69 the number of U.S. troops killed in October.
And we're just over half-way through the month.

Maybe this will help Tony Snow the next time he has trouble answering the question of whether or not we're "winning."

For the U.S. military, October’s death toll is on a pace that, if continued, would make the month the deadliest for coalition forces since January 2005, when 107 U.S. troops died.

The war’s deadliest month for U.S. forces was November. 2004, when 137 troops died.

At least 2,780 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
That would be "no," Tony.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"Nothing could be further from... American values... than the Military Commissions Act"

No word yet on whether Shrubby made any signing statements to the it, but he signed it. This bill, described by the ACLU as "one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history," is the latest in the effort to build the imperial presidency.

While civil libertarian groups and some Democrats have decried this law, Americans are strangely quiet about the trampling of their rights. No matter the original targets, such laws are almost always more broadly applied than originally pitched.

"The president can now, with the approval of Congress, indefinitely hold people without charge, take away protections against horrific abuse, put people on trial based on hearsay evidence, authorize trials that can sentence people to death based on testimony literally beaten out of witnesses, and slam shut the courthouse door for habeas petitions," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.
The intended targets are supposedly Islamic terrorists, but there is absolutely nothing in the law to keep them from applying it to you.

This quote from Benjamin Franklin cannot be repeated too often:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Refugee Crisis

When we see a headline like the one above, Americans think of Darfur or The Sudan. Some failed, third-world nation where rebels threaten and murder and drive people from their homelands. In this case, well...

Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the country every day in a “steady, silent exodus” and a spike in sectarian violence has stopped others from returning to their homeland, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.
Right-wingers are always trying to equate the level of violence in Iraqi cities to that in major US metro areas. That argument, on it's face, is specious. Throwing in a steady stream of refugees to the mix only further puts the lie to that argument.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

While Nero Diddles

In case the non-stop talk about Foley-Gate should make you forget, Keith Olbermannn reminds us of the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

This is probably the most horrific act of constitutional rape since... well, since ever. The constitution states that habeas corpus can only be suspended in case of rebellion or invasion, but our craven congress critters have once more given the boy king what he wants in his Never Ending War on Terror.

The president has now succeeded where no one has before. HeÂ’s managed to kill the writ of habeas corpus. Tonight, a special investigation, how that, in turn, kills nothing less than your Bill of Rights. Because the Mark Foley story began to break on the night of September 28, exploding the following day, many people may not have noticed the bill passed by the Senate that night.
Read the rest - find out how this one law rescinds the whole of our Bill of Rights (except for the Third Amendment, but really, who even knows what that one is?). Pass it on to everyone you know.

It's important that we not forget.

There Goes the "Parent Vote"

UPDATE: See story behind the headline.

This AP Breaking News headline on MSNBC should completely alienate any remaining Republican voters with kids coming up on draft age:

U.S. Army making plans to keep current Iraq troop level through 2010

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

David Frum is MAD

Not that anyone should be particularly surprised at my assessment of Frum's mental capacity, but his opinion piece in today's NYT certainly confirms it.

He makes four main suggestions about what BushCo. should do in response to the - most likely failed - North Korean nuclear test. All of which are foolish on their face:

1. Step up the development and deployment of existing missile defense systems.
This is just what our overstretched military budget needs. We are "eating the seedcorn" as it is, blowing through a couple of billion dollars per week in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spending more on a system that has failed every operational test is sheer idiocy. Any hope of stemming a nuclear arms race in the area would be dashed by just the announcement of such a program.

2. End humanitarian aid to North Korea and pressure South Korea to do the same.
While there is some merit to using some of this aid as a carrot and a stick, from a strictly ethical point of view it seems a callous thing to do to punish the already starving people of North Korea in this case. Not that this has stopped us - or the rest of the world - in the past. And should this cause a popular uprising in the DPRK, the collapse of Kim's regime will destabilize the entire region even more with a flood of refugees and the potential loss of control over whatever nuclear devices have actually been assembled. If a collapse is somehow avoided, there would be strong incentive for Kim to sell the technology or the actual devices for much needed hard currency.

3. Invite Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to join NATO — and even invite Taiwan to send observers to NATO meetings.
A sure-fire way to alienate China and lose any hope of gaining their leverage over North Korea. Additionally, this could potentially drive the North and China closer together in military cooperation against a suddenly united South East Asian theater, leading to a truly nuclearized North Korea. And anything that upsets the delicate balance over Taiwan, especially during a crisis, should be avoided at all costs.

4. Encourage Japan to renounce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and create its own nuclear deterrent.
Could there be a worse idea other than arming the DPRK ourselves? As soon as Japan makes such an announcement, China would make grave denouncements and perhaps move to redeploy nuclear and non-nuclear forces to counter such a perceived threat in their sphere of influence. They could conceivably even offer to post weapons on the Koreanpeninsulaa to counter the threat. I'm sure that China has learned the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I doubt that BushCo. has learned a single lesson from anything in history.

Whether North Korea's test was successful or not, I can't see anything in Frum's proposals that make any kind of sense in the world we all actually live in. Of course, given BushCo.'s record, Frum is exactly the kind of advisor/speech writer that Bush and his Cold-War-Cronies have cultivated.

Language Barrier

I've figured out why North Korea seems to have completely misread U.S. reaction to their nuclear weapons program. It's a simple thing, really; Kim Jong Il had no idea what the hell Bush was talking about.

"Nookyuler" just doesn't translate into Korean.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Whadda Ya' Gonna Do Now?

I can still remember hearing the southern drawl of a drill sergeant - somehow all Army drill sergeants are from the South - after I'd gotten myself into some kind of trouble during basic training. I might have gotten tangled up in a rappel rope, or made my way half-way up a vertical wall in an obstacle course. Whatever it was, there would be Sergeant Smith, looking disgusted and asking in that sarcastic way that only a non-com could manage. "Whadda ya' gonna do now, cadet?"

I've decided that every President needs his own personal drill sergeant. Bush more than most.

When I read this morning that North Korea had likely detonated a small nuclear device, it was the first thought that went through my mind. I can't imagine what option that Bush has left; our military has been stretched to nearly the breaking point, we've alienated most of the rest of the world and previous "discussions" with North Korea have been less than foundational.

"Whadda ya' gonna do now?"