Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sure took the old fart long enough.

From the AP
Setting aside any doubt about his presidential aspirations, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, announced Wednesday he would seek the GOP presidential nomination.
I thought he did that right after he pulled his nose out of Jerry Falwell's ass.

Surge, just another way to love them some troops

And Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions are showing a concern for the troops that that rivals that of British Field Marshall Douglas Haig. To prepare for the "Surge" ODEL is cutting their training.
Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on year-long tours.
They will be as ready as trained troops. And no doubt they will be bullet-proof thanks to the excellent prayers of the Bushovik approved sky-pilots.

The military solution

The Army Times reports on one of the military's solutions to the MedHold problems at Walter Reed. As we all remember, last week the Army hustled in a bunch of contractors to patch up the problems at Building 18, on camera, of course.
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,” one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.
But having suffered one breach of discipline already, the Army is taking no chances.
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.
Sure looks like a "feather in his cap" for Walter Reeds "Col. Cathcart" Just in time after last weeks "black eye". And with no one talking, they should be able to continue lowballing the disability ratings. Or as Our Dear Leader wishes he could say without screwing up, "These boys are broke, why fix them?"

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

First the war, now the markets

There can be no greater loser in the Republican pantheon than a president who loses a war AND has a market crash. It does appear that Our Dear Embattled Leader will achieve that status. We all know that he has lost the war in Iraq.
Tuesday's stock market plunge shows the start of a "correction," the age-old euphemism for a steep drop in stock prices, but it may also signal worse news than that.

A steady stream of recent data shows mixed signals about where the U.S. economy is headed. The old sage himself, Alan Greenspan, suggests recession could be looming.

Fasten your seat belts - some economic chop could be coming.
When that miserable old hack, Greenspan say recession, you and I can be thinking Great Depression.

So appropriate

"This particular C-17, a hulking gray cargo jet out of Charleston, S.C., is dubbed The Spirit of Strom Thurmond, with the name painted decoratively in black above the front passenger door that Cheney boarded,"
Mark Silva by way of Froomkin

Exxon's tax cuts will give you the Hershey squirts.

And don't forget Con-Agra's contributions to Our Dear Embattled Leader and his incompetent minions. And how, you may ask, do they do this? Simple, no money coming in then no money for FDA inspections. No inspections, bigger profits and a little salmonella here and there, no big deal.
The federal agency that’s been front and center in warning the public about tainted spinach and contaminated peanut butter is conducting just half the food safety inspections it did three years ago.

The cuts by the Food and Drug Administration come despite a barrage of high-profile food recalls....Between 2003 and 2006, FDA food safety inspections dropped 47 percent, according to a database analysis of federal records by The Associated Press.

That’s not all that’s dropping at the FDA in terms of food safety. The analysis also shows:
# There are 12 percent fewer FDA employees in field offices who concentrate on food issues.
# Safety tests for U.S.-produced food have dropped nearly 75 percent, from 9,748 in 2003 to 2,455 last year, according to the agency’s own statistics.
But the corporations got their tax cuts, that should count for something. And those nasty old inspectors just found problems when they were around.

Dickwahd al-Cheney visits Bagram

Just in time to hear an explosion and watch the security response.
A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of the United States military base at Bagram while Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Mr. Cheney was not hurt in the attack.

The explosion killed and wounded a number of American and allied soldiers, Afghan and Pakistani truck drivers and laborers waiting for access at the gate. There were conflicting reports of the number of casualties and deaths.

The incident took place at the outermost security gate of the sprawling base, far from where Mr. Cheney was staying at the time. A few hours after the attack, Mr. Cheney traveled to Kabul to meet with President Hamid Karzai, and later left Afghanistan to fly to Oman. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing and said Mr. Cheney was the target of the attack, news agencies reported. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claimed to be a Taliban spokesman, told the Associated Press: “We knew that Dick Cheney would be staying inside the base.” He said the bombing was carried out by Mullah Abdul Rahim.

The claim could not immediately be verified.
So they set off a bomb, find out that he Cheney has landed and claim that he was the target all along. As if!

Monday, February 26, 2007

People favor the truth

When you give it to them. The latest WaPo/ABC News poll had this in it.
Some Democrats have called for cutting off funds for the war. The Post-ABC News poll found that 46 percent of Americans supported restricting funding for the war while a bare majority, 51 percent, opposed it.

There was clear support, however, for the kinds of conditions proposed by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who wants to establish requirements for the training and resting of military units that would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available to send to Iraq.

Murtha's plan has drawn fire in the House, including from some of his Democratic colleagues, after it was unveiled on a liberal Web site. The Post-ABC News poll, which did not associate the plan with Murtha, found that 58 percent of Americans said they support such new rules. Even some Americans, 21 percent, who supported the president's troop surge said they would favor rules for training and resting troops.
Funny, how Americans will support the troops if you give them the truth.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

These people are truly fucked!

And they were supposed to flyover the US, going from Guyana to Canada. Someone gets sick, the flight lands in Puerto Rico and now the family is enjoying the creature comforts of "America's Dachau", the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in (where else?) Taylor, Tex. And there ain't nobody gonna throw their bail. The best part is they are from Iran, so they sure as shit must be terrists. I'm betting the 9 yr old was going to bring a suicide belt to his class for "Show and Blow-up". They all do it, you know.


A tip of the hat to The Galloping Beaver for this.

Do you think you understand the Middle East?

Then you should read the latest offering from Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. It is long and detailed and worth a very careful read. The shifting sands of policy and alliance are not always what you think you see.

This is definitely a MUST READ.

What you don't learn at Sandhurst

The Sunday Observer has a good look at the new skill set Prince Harry will have to quickly learn when he arrives in Iraq. Not part of your normal military curriculum but essential to survival.
'I always look out for the little kid holding his ears,' he says by way of explanation. 'When I saw that in Afghanistan [where Choate served before Iraq] you knew in a few seconds you were going to hear the boom. The kids are sponges, you know. They are always aware what's going on around them.'

Soon a young officer more famous for partying than for soldiering - Prince Harry - will have to learn a set of skills not taught at Sandhurst. Choate's skills. He will have to learn how to survive the roads - where bombs are hidden in roadside rubbish piles and beneath the surface of the road, dug into old craters and hidden under carrion. To look for weapons that can be detonated by a command wire, by a hidden triggerman, remotely or by passive infrared.

The skills he will have to learn are in part an exacting exercise in memorising tiny changes in the environment: an old bomb crater on the road filled in, rubbish that appears where it did not exist before, a new oil drum among a roadside cluster, or one of the ubiquitous roadside concrete 'Jersey barriers' being moved.
I hope he learns his lessons well, for his men as well as himself.

The Klan doesn't have a monopoly on stupidity

I saw this in the Guardian today.
Wouter Van Bellingen has a good Flemish name. He is a former patrol leader in the Boy Scouts. He is an elected official of a party that wants more autonomy for Flanders. And he is a Belgian black.

Now, three couples in the town of Sint Niklaas - whose patron saint is Santa Claus - have judged their registrar by his skin and cancelled their weddings. 'I am not really surprised. I'm used to having more space on the train than my fellow passengers,' said van Bellingen...

...The cancellations happened independently of one another but in each case the couples or their parents were clear about their reason; they didn't want a black man officiating.
Maybe they were afraid that a black registrar presiding would result in their having black babies? I wonder what the town's namesake saint would say. He would probably be pleased by the reaction of the great majority of the citizens.
My books are now full until August and the people I marry all want me in their wedding photograph. The people of St Niklaas are so proud of their black registrar.'

As a result of the marriage controversy, local members of Belgian human rights groups have organised a symbolic mass wedding on the market square of St Niklaas to take place on 21 March, which is World Anti-Racism Day.

'It's going to be such fun,' said Van Bellingen. 'We have 200 couples so far and we're going to have the most crowded wedding photo ever, the biggest wedding dance ever and the most multicultural buffet imaginable.'
Sounds like a party to me.

Our Dear Leader's legacy continues to pile up

From the AP:
A suicide bomber struck Sunday outside a college campus in Baghdad, killing at least 41 people and injuring dozens as a string of other blasts and rocket attacks left bloodshed around the city....

...Earlier, two Katyusha rockets hit a Shiite enclave in southern Baghdad, killing at least 10, and a bomb near the fortified Green Zone claimed two lives, police said....

....A separate car bombing in a Shiite district in central Baghdad killed at least one person and injured four, police said.

In the northern city of Mosul, U.S. troops killed two gunmen in a raid and captured a suspected local leader of the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq, the military said. Additional details were no immediately available.

Iraq's interior ministry, meanwhile, raised the toll from a suicide truck bombing in the violence-wracked Anbar province on Saturday to 52 dead and 74 injured.
And the "last throes" keep getting laster and laster.
Direct fire attacks on U.S. soldiers are up 70 percent in Diyala since last summer, and fierce battles have raged since the Baghdad security plan was launched.

"We're working our way into the Baghdad security plan, and we won't be into the thick of it until late spring or summer. I expect more violence in Diyala through then," Mixon said.


UPDATE: McClatchys blog has this post from the mother of an Iraqi university student.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Better hope Ben Stein can't see the future.

Because this is what Ben is seeing today.
Is this what America is all about? We’re in a war and we cut taxes to stimulate the economy — and it probably did — and we are having million-dollar parties at home while our soldiers are paid starvation wages to offer up their lives in Iraq? We’re in a war and the government cannot afford to pay for adequate training for our soldiers, but the society at home is routinely having million-dollar weddings and bar mitzvahs?

Can anyone say “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”?
Damn! Just when Our Dear Embattled Leader is putting the empire together.

George Bush ain't no Jack Bauer

And Frank Rich details how Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney have done so much to enable Osama Bin Laden and leave the US as vulnerable as we were in 2001.

Another National Shame

Because with Our Dear Embattled Leader, you never get just one.
Nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty"--a category that includes individuals making less than $5,080 a year, and families of four bringing in less than $9,903 a year.

Quote of the Day

"If you can't get experts, it's really hard to do an expert job."
Kiki Skagen Munshi, a retired U.S. Foreign Service officer, commenting on the quality of people involved in the reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

It would bring a tear to the eye of Old Joe Stalin

The Nation has an update on the grossly underreported case of Jose Padilla and his KGB style detention.
Arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Padilla, a Brooklyn-born former gang member, was classified as an "enemy combatant" and taken to a Navy prison in Charleston, South Carolina. He was kept in a 9-by-7-foot cell with no natural light, no clock and no calendar. Whenever Padilla left the cell, he was shackled and suited in heavy goggles and headphones. Padilla was kept under these conditions for 1,307 days. He was forbidden contact with anyone but his interrogators, who punctured the extreme sensory deprivation with sensory overload, blasting him with harsh lights and pounding sounds. Padilla also says he was injected with a "truth serum," a substance his lawyers believe was LSD or PCP.

According to his lawyers and two mental health specialists who examined him, Padilla has been so shattered that he lacks the ability to assist in his own defense. He is convinced that his lawyers are "part of a continuing interrogation program" and sees his captors as protectors. In order to prove that "the extended torture visited upon Mr. Padilla has left him damaged," his lawyers want to tell the court what happened during those years in the Navy brig. The prosecution strenuously objects, maintaining that "Padilla is competent," that his treatment is irrelevant.

US District Judge Marcia Cooke disagrees. "It's not like Mr. Padilla was living in a box. He was at a place. Things happened to him at that place." The judge has ordered several prison employees to testify at the hearings on Padilla's mental state, which begin February 22. They will be asked how a man alleged to have engaged in elaborate antigovernment plots now acts, in the words of brig staff, "like a piece of furniture."
What they did to him, in your name and with your tax dollars, may finally see the light of day because of one small fact that still carries some weight in the courtroom. Jose Padilla is a US citizen. If the Bushoviks are allowed to get away with this disgusting treatment of him, then we all are at risk from this psychopathic government.

As an aside, I have always felt that Republican hatred of Joe Stalin was based more on envy that he could do what he did than any stated principle.

You would have to be a fool to disagree

Or Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney. Bill Richardson, in the WaPo to day, makes the simple and accurate case that diplomacy is an effective weapon when used. The point he makes is so glaringly obvious that it highlights the sad state of the Republican Party which has fostered an antithetical world view.
No nation has ever been forced to renounce nuclear weapons, but many have chosen to do so. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don't. This feat will take more than threats and insults. It will take skillful American diplomatic leadership.

Diplomacy is more than just talking to people. It requires speaking credibly from a position of strength. As the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as energy secretary, as a member of Congress and as a diplomatic envoy, I have always believed in and worked to achieve tough, credible and direct negotiations with adversaries. To be tough, you need strong alliances and a strong military. And to be credible, you need a record of meaning what you say. By alienating our allies, overextending our military, making idle threats and antagonizing just about everyone, the Bush administration has undermined our diplomatic leverage.
"Undermined our diplomatic leverage" and provided comfort and support to folks like Al-Qaeda who feed off the hatred their actions have generated. But being a Deciderer is a lot easier than knowing what you are doing, especially when Uncle Dickwahd is there to help.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Somethings I just don't understand.

McClatchy had a feature today on the politics of DC. The topic was an upcoming Bushovik attack strategery to label the Democrats as not "supporting the troops.
Few phrases in American politics sound so innocuous but sting so much.

Republican backers of the Iraq war have revived a tactic from the Vietnam era, trying to put Democrats on the defensive by accusing critics of President Bush's decision to send thousands more troops to Iraq of failing to "support the troops" that are already there.

This line of attack could explode next week, when Congress returns from a short recess. The Democratic majority will shift tactics from seeking nonbinding anti-war resolutions to trying to limit troop deployments and curb funding for the Iraq war.
Consider the fact that McClatchy had a column from Joe Galloway on Tuesday that should put paid to any thought that this line of attack had even a shred of validity.
This week, we were treated to a new expose of just how fraudulent and shallow and meaningless "Support Our Troops" is on the lips of those in charge of spending the half a trillion dollars of taxpayers' money that the Pentagon eats every year....

... The same politicians, from a macho president to the bureaucrats to the people who chair the congressional committees that are supposed to oversee such matters, have utterly failed to protect our wounded warriors. They've talked the talk but few, if any, have ever walked the walk.

No. This happened while all of them were busy as bees, taking billions out of the VA budget and planning to shut down Walter Reed by 2011 in the name of cost-efficiency.

Among those politicians are the people who sent too few troops to Afghanistan or Iraq, who failed to provide enough body armor and weapons and armored vehicles and who, to protect their own political hides, refused to admit that the mission was not accomplished and change course...

.... This shabby, sorry episode of political and institutional cruelty to those who deserve the best their nation can provide is the last straw. How can they spin this one to blame the generals or the media or the Democrats? How can you do that, Karl?

If the American people are not sickened and disgusted by this then, by God, we don't deserve to be defended from the wolves of this world.
How indeed can anyone continue to support the Republican party, once the Party of Lincoln,now the party that spits on wounded veterans.

The Kiwis get it




Link

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tom Toles Thursday


This is what Jack Murtha wants to stop

The NY Times has this article on the effects of Our Dear Embattled Leader's troop surge on the National Guard. In addition to returning 2-3 years earlier than they normally would, the are facing training and equipment shortfalls.
Changing the reservists’ schedules means abandoning previous promises that they would get several years between deployments. And the acceleration means that soldiers who usually drill just once a month and for a few weeks in the summer will have to begin intensive preparations right away.

“We’re behind the power curve, and we can’t piddle around,” Maj. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, said in an interview. He added that one-third of his soldiers lacked the M-4 rifles preferred by active-duty soldiers and that there were also shortfalls in night vision goggles and other equipment. If his unit is going to be sent to Iraq next year, he said, “We expect the Army to resource the Guard at the same level as active-duty units.”...

...Capt. Christopher Heathscott, a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, said the state’s 39th Brigade Combat Team was 600 rifles short for its 3,500 soldiers and also lacked its full arsenal of mortars and howitzers.
Despite all the usual right wing howling, this is what Jack Murtha's legislation is trying to stop. The idea of sending troops to war with less than they need is criminal. In a country owned by the richest corporations in the world, they should have everything they need. Including a president that knows what he is doing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A few good words from Joe Sestak

The McClatchy Washington bureau is reporting on a new bill put forth by Joe Sestak to deal with Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Little War.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. Adm. Joe Sestak commanded a carrier battle group in combat near Afghanistan, then in the Persian Gulf in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Now a freshman member of the House of Representatives, Sestak, a Pennsylvania Democrat, has introduced a bill calling for withdrawing all American forces from Iraq by the end of this year, while strengthening the U.S. military presence in the region and in Afghanistan.

Sestak, who defeated 10-term Republican incumbent Curt Weldon in November, has a Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard University. He served as the director for defense policy on President Clinton's National Security Council and once was the director of the Navy's anti-terrorism unit.

His bill would cut off most money for military operations in Iraq by Dec. 31.
Welcome aboard, Admiral.

The Unasked Question

I was reading Froomkin on the Irv Libby trial when a question that no one had addressed yet popped into my head.
Will Vice President Dickwahd al-Cheney make the effort to get Our Dear Embattled Leader to pardon Irv or will he do it himself?
Just asking.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quote of the Day

From Riverbend:
And yet, as the situation continues to deteriorate both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, and for Americans inside Iraq, Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.

Tom Reynolds would never do this.

The complete text of Rep. Slaughter's letter is included below:


The Honorable Robert Gates
Secretary
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Gates,

I urge you to explain why the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, once the crown-jewel of military medicine, has become a bleak and frustrating place for our wounded soldiers to recover, and what the Army intends to do to restore the integrity of its medical system.

This weekend's Washington Post series revealing the "other Walter Reed" was stunning. It painted a picture of abhorrent living conditions and a bureaucratic nightmare for our wounded soldiers in outpatient care. In striking detail, the series described how one of the outpatient facilities, Building 18, is marked by rodent infestation, mold problems, and crumbling ceilings. As if the facilities were not bad enough, wounded soldiers and their families must wrestle daily with an Army bureaucracy ill-equipped to provide them with the attention and care they need. Wounded soldiers are often left on their own to make and keep appointments, and fill out the 22 documents needed to enter and exit the Army's medical system.

The living conditions and bureaucratic battles frustrate and demoralize our wounded soldiers. Marine Sergeant Ryan Groves said it best, "We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it." Our wounded soldiers have made incredible sacrifices on behalf of the nation, and deserve the very best care throughout their recovery. The conditions at Walter Read are unacceptable, and an affront to our men and women in uniform.

I am encouraged to read in today's Washington Post that the facility's commander, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, has announced new repairs at Building 18, and a review of the Army's entire mission at Walter Reed. However, these improvements are long-overdue and I cannot help but think that they would not have begun at all had the Washington Post not blown the whistle.

The Washington Post's series is a major black-eye and an embarrassment for the Army and the United States. I would like a full explanation of how the conditions became so dire at Walter Reed in the first place, and what steps the Army plans to take to immediately rectify the situation. Please know that I stand ready to help provide the Defense Department with the resources it needs to adequately care for our wounded soldiers. I await your prompt response to this inquiry.



Sincerely,

Louise M. Slaughter

Monday, February 19, 2007

Well, whaddaya know!

Walter Reed Army Medical Center began repairs today on Building 18, a former hotel used to house outpatients recuperating from combat injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been plagued with mold, leaky plumbing and a broken elevator.
They moved right quick when they were splashed across the front page, didn't they? But they still need a close watch on them.
"We're starting to attack how we'll fix and mitigate" some of the problems, he said.
That is a real weasel quote if ever there was one.

We can only hope that the WaPo allows Dana and Anne to keep a bright light on this problem.

This should never have happened.

3137

Imagine, a whole political party on the Do-Not-Fly list

From CBS News:
The indictment said Alishtari tried to support terrorists between June and December by accepting an unspecified amount of money to transfer $152,000 that he believed was being sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan to support an Afghanistan terrorist training camp.

He believed the money would be used to fund the purchase of night vision goggles and other equipment, the indictment said.

He was also charged with money laundering for allegedly causing the transfer on Aug. 17 of about $25,000 from a bank account in New York to a bank account in Montreal, Canada. The money was to be used to provide material support to terrorist, prosecutors said....

...CBS News has confirmed that Alishtari is a donor to the Republican Party, as he claims on his curriculum vitae. Alishtari gave $15,500 to the National Republican Campaign Committee between 2002 and 2004, according to Federal Election Commission records. That amount includes $13,000 in 2003, a year when he claims to have been named NRCC New York State Businessman of the Year.
Or a Condi would say, no one could have imagined....

And now the Army Times

The Army Times posted its take on the MedHold fiasco for wounded veterans on Sunday. In keeping with its mission it provides information from the Army's point of view as well as the veterans. It doesn't make the story any better.
when it was time for the Army to take care of him, one of its wounded warriors, Van Antwerp gave up before he even began. Rather than fight for a higher disability rating, he quietly signed for 20 percent — and no medical benefits — saying he knew he couldn’t do better. He inherited his father’s stubbornness, he said, and refused to ask anyone to pull strings based on his dad’s rank. Then his first medical board counselor, the person who would help him make his way through the medical evaluation board system, left. The second, he said, “wasn’t on the ball.”

“The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible,” he said. “A lot of people are appealing, but I’ll be going to [the Department of Veterans Affairs]. I want to go home.”
AmericanBlog has a listing of the recent news stories that paint a cruel picture of the treatment of wounded veterans following their discharge from the hospital and into the bureaucratic miasma of post hospital care. But we can all take comfort knowing that the Republicans do love their troops and the moon is made of green cheese.

Welcome a new blog link

Normally I just add the link to the list but I think this new one for the Inside Iraq blog of the McClatchy Baghdad bureau is worth a regular read.

John McCain has an NSS moment

When asked what the options are if the Bush/McCain surge fails in its vague purpose, Sen John McCain had this response:
"I don't know what the other options are because if we fail here I think it's going to be very difficult to maintain the support of the American people,"
But even though he doesn't know what to do, he wants to be president. After 8 years of Our Dear Embattled Leader, the American public might have a problem with that.

NSS = No Shit, Sherlock

The REMF's always live well

Even in Iraq, where there is not a lot of real estate that can be called a rear area, the parasites manage to live the high life. The Guardian has an excerpt from Rajiv Chandrasekaran on life in the Green Zone. In it he describes the truly amazing ability of Americans to go anywhere in the world without leaving home.
A buffet featured grits, cornbread and a bottomless barrel of pork: sausage for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, pork chops for dinner. The cafeteria was all about meeting American needs for high-calorie, high-fat comfort food.

None of the succulent tomatoes or crisp cucumbers grown in Iraq made it into the salad bar. US government regulations dictated that everything, even the water in which hot dogs were boiled, be shipped in from approved suppliers in other nations. Milk and bread were trucked in from Kuwait, as were tinned peas and carrots. The breakfast cereal was flown in from the US...If you had a complaint about the cafeteria, Michael Cole was the man to see. He was Halliburton's "customer-service liaison", and he could explain why the salad bar didn't have Iraqi produce or why pork kept appearing on the menu. Cole was a rail-thin 22-year-old whose forehead was dotted with pimples. He had been out of college for less than a year and was working as a junior aide to a Republican congressman from Virginia when a Halliburton vice-president overheard him talking to friends in an Arlington bar about his dealings with irate constituents. She was so impressed that she introduced herself. If she needed someone to work as a valet in Baghdad, he joked, he'd be happy to volunteer. Three weeks later, Halliburton offered him a job. Then they asked for his CV.
With everything they could want provided at taxpayer expense, dutifully padded to insure desired profits, there was no reason to leave the Green Zone. Not that anyone had the curiosity to do so.
Even in the first months after the fall of Saddam's government, Schroeder was incredulous when I told him that I lived in what he and others called the Red Zone, that I drove around without a security detail, that I ate at local restaurants, that I visited Iraqis in their homes. "What's it like out there?" he asked.

I described the pleasure of walking through al-Shorja market, and of having tea in cafes in the old quarter. I spoke about discussions of Iraqi culture and history that occurred when I went to the homes of my Iraqi friends for lunch. The more I talked, the more I felt like an extraterrestrial describing life on another planet.
Throughout, the name Halliburton keeps popping up, as it does in so many reports about Iraq. I can almost imagine that if the US military was withdrawn from Iraq, Halliburton would find a way to keep up the fight just to protect its investments.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Dry Hole" George drills another one

This time it is those useful enemies, Al Qaeda. Yup, the same ones that George was going to get "Dead or Alive" before he went haring off into Iraq on some chimerical quest urged on him by his Vice President Dickwahd al-Cheney. Seems they managed to get back on their feet again.
Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.
So, like Michael Myers, they are back and Karl Rove is probably soiling himself with delight at the thought of another attack on the US, if he and Osama can work out the scheduling problems.

Republicans spit on returning veterans

Today the second part of the WaPo series by Anne Hull and Dana Priest covers the lives of the "lucky ones" living in the best accommodations, Mologne House. Despite the clean surroundings, maid service, bar and courtyard, the stories don't get any better.
An American flag T-shirt is stretched over his chest. He reaches for his dog tags, still the devoted soldier of 19 years, though his life as a warrior has become a paradox. One day he's led on stage at a Toby Keith concert with dozens of other wounded Operation Iraqi Freedom troops from Mologne House, and the next he's sitting in a cluttered cubbyhole, at Walter Reed, fighting the Army for every penny of his disability....

....Dogs are periodically brought in by the Army to search the rooms for contraband or weapons. When the fire alarm goes off, the amputees who live on the upper floors are scooped up and carried down the stairwell, while a brigade of mothers passes down the wheelchairs. One morning Annette opens her door and is told to stay in the room because a soldier down the hall has overdosed.

In between, there are picnics at the home of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a charity-funded dinner cruise on the Potomac for "Today's troops, tomorrow's veterans, always heroes."
I never knew that the definition of "hero" was something you use up and throw away. I do know that these men and women deserve so much better than this broken promise so tragically detailed these past two days. Perhaps I could react like a Republican to this stuff were it not for previous disclosures of the Billions of dollars wasted on and stolen by war profiteers like Halliburton, Blackwater and all the rest of the Republican donor class. Hotel Aftermath indeed!

Expanding my vocabulary

Thanks to the Satirical Report I have found a new name for Our Beloved Embattled Grand Vizier. No longer do I have to call him Crazy Dick Cheney or Dick "Dick" Cheney or even The Shooter. No, because of the excellence of SR and his own obsession with Iraq, OBEGV will henceforth be known as Vice President Dickwahd al-Cheney.

Let the news be proclaimed throughout the land.

No need to get the lead out

We are talking about kids here, and they don't vote or contribute, but the manufacturers and importers do. And that is why Our Dear Embattled Leader and His Dreadful Legions have given us this news fron CNN.
In 2005, when government scientists tested 60 soft, vinyl lunchboxes, they found that one in five contained amounts of lead that medical experts consider unsafe -- and several had more than 10 times hazardous levels.

But that's not what they told the public.

Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement that they found "no instances of hazardous levels." And they refused to release their actual test results, citing regulations that protect manufacturers from having their information released to the public.
What wonderful people. They have even regulated the coverups.

If you want to give something back




With the continued war on terror and a prolonged engagement in Iraq, many of the men and women serving our country are facing personal and financial hardships. Family budgets are strained and those who remain at home face a mounting workload. The large activation of Reserve and National Guard personnel has further strained the resources needed to take care of our troops and their families.

With the generous support of the National Association of Broadcasters, the four Military Aid Societies — Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society have come together to address these escalating needs by creating The Armed Forces Relief Trust a single, non-profit fund to better collect and disburse donations in support of the troops and their families in need.

The mission of the Armed Forces Relief Trust is to assist the military aid societies by providing a single vehicle to accept donations that will benefit the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families. Examples of such assistance may include payment for a soldier's airfare to fly home for his father's funeral, a special reading program for a sailor's daughter, special medical attention for a pilot's expectant spouse, or college tuition for a soldier's child.

Last year, the four emergency assistance programs disbursed more than $109 million in interest-free loans and grants to 145,000 individuals and families in need. But in order to meet our troops needs today, the Armed Forces Relief Trust is depending on the public's support.

Help boost the morale and welfare of our troops, better enabling them to focus on their important mission. Contribute to AFRtrust today.


One last little torture before you go.

The New York Times has a frightening look at what it's like to be detained by American troops in Iraq. These people are being detained and treated in the following manner, by US troops who are only following orders.
Mr. Ani said the electric prods were first used on him on the way to Camp Bucca. “I was talking to someone next to me and they used it,” he said, describing the device as black plastic with a yellow tip and two iron prongs. He said the prods were commonly used on him and other detainees as punishment.

“The whole body starts to shake and hurt,” he said. “And you lose consciousness for a couple of seconds. One time they used it on my tongue. One guard held me from the left and another on my back and another used it against my tongue and for four or five days I couldn’t eat.” ...

....But soon new guards came “who had had special thoughts,” he said. “They were not allowing us to talk. They cut off the salt, gave us food that was not fit for dogs. One guard named David sometimes brought us outside to stay in the sun, or when it was cold. He also didn’t respect our faith, telling us not to pray here, and when we moved not to pray there.”
And if you do get released, they have one more treat in store for you.
Then, shortly before 9 a.m., Mr. Ani said, he was brought to a table for one last step. He was handed a form and asked to place a check mark next to the sentence that best described how he had been treated:

“I didn’t go through any abuse during detention,” read the first option, in Arabic.

“I have gone through abuse during detention,” read the second.

In the room, he said, stood three American guards carrying the type of electric stun devices that Mr. Ani and other detainees said had been used on them for infractions as minor as speaking out of turn.

“Even the translator told me to sign the first answer,” said Mr. Ani, who gave a copy of his form to The New York Times. “I asked him what happens if I sign the second one, and he raised his hands,” as if to say, Who knows?

“I thought if I don’t sign the first one I am not going to get out of this place.”
No doubt this is the first step to bringing Democracy and Freedom to these poor benighted souls. When you read the whole article, it sure doesn't look like it is succeeding.

Fireworks for Condi's visit

From the NY Times:
Two car bombs exploded in an outdoor market in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 56 people and injuring scores in the deadliest attack since U.S. and Iraqi forces began a major security push around the capital last week....

...The death toll was reported by police and ambulance service officials on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media. At least 127 people were injured, they reported.
Condi's reponse to this impropmtu celebration," I had no idea they were planning this surpirse for me".

In other news, Michael Gordon the well known White House stenographer, tells us that the insurgents are developing new tactics after watching US troop habits for the last four years. He even reveals that, “We are engaged with a thinking enemy,” and "Officials say they are a fresh indication that the United States is facing an array of 'adaptive' adversaries in Iraq,". Is it possible? Next he will be telling us that the sun rises in the east. Is there no end to these dastardly fiends?

My continuing search for myself.

You Are a Boston Creme Donut

You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.
But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.
You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.
You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.
What Donut Are You?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This from a woman who was impressed by George W Bush.

In a surprise visit to Iraq Saturday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Iraqi officials to get an assessment of the Baghdad security plan and to gauge the prospects for reconciliation among the warring factions in Iraq.

Following her meetings, Rice declared herself “impressed” with the steps being taken.
But she still has to sneak into the country.

You know he lies

And now Frank Rich gives us a rundown of Our Dear Embattled Leader's lies about Iran, in case you forgot them.

Hollow words from a shallow man.

That would be Our Dear Embattled Leader who started a war and promised:
"We owe them all we can give them," Bush said during his last visit, a few days before Christmas. "Not only for when they're in harm's way, but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds, or help them adjust after their time in service."
And this is what they get as outpatients at Walter Reed Hospital.
Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon, 43, came in on one of those buses in November 2004 and spent several weeks on the fifth floor of Walter Reed's hospital. His eye and skull were shattered by an AK-47 round. His odyssey in the Other Walter Reed has lasted more than two years, but it began when someone handed him a map of the grounds and told him to find his room across post.

A reconnaissance and land-navigation expert, Shannon was so disoriented that he couldn't even find north. Holding the map, he stumbled around outside the hospital, sliding against walls and trying to keep himself upright, he said. He asked anyone he found for directions....

...Shannon, who wears an eye patch and a visible skull implant, said he had to prove he had served in Iraq when he tried to get a free uniform to replace the bloody one left behind on a medic's stretcher. When he finally tracked down the supply clerk, he discovered the problem: His name was mistakenly left off the "GWOT list" -- the list of "Global War on Terrorism" patients with priority funding from the Defense Department.

He brought his Purple Heart to the clerk to prove he was in Iraq.

Lost paperwork for new uniforms has forced some soldiers to attend their own Purple Heart ceremonies and the official birthday party for the Army in gym clothes, only to be chewed out by superiors....

....One amputee, a senior enlisted man who asked not to be identified because he is back on active duty, said he received orders to report to a base in Germany as he sat drooling in his wheelchair in a haze of medication at Walter Reed. "I went to Medhold many times in my wheelchair to fix it, but no one there could help me," he said.

Finally, his wife met an aide to then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who got the erroneous paperwork corrected with one phone call. When the aide called with the news, he told the soldier, "They don't even know you exist."...

...."Building 18! There is a rodent infestation issue!" bellowed the commander to his troops one morning at formation. "It doesn't help when you live like a rodent! I can't believe people live like that! I was appalled by some of your rooms!"

Life in Building 18 is the bleakest homecoming for men and women whose government promised them good care in return for their sacrifices.

One case manager was so disgusted, she bought roach bombs for the rooms. Mouse traps are handed out. It doesn't help that soldiers there subsist on carry-out food because the hospital cafeteria is such a hike on cold nights. They make do with microwaves and hot plates.

Army officials say they "started an aggressive campaign to deal with the mice infestation" last October and that the problem is now at a "manageable level." They also say they will "review all outstanding work orders in the next 30 days."

Soldiers discharged from the psychiatric ward are often assigned to Building 18. Buses and ambulances blare all night. While injured soldiers pull guard duty in the foyer, a broken garage door allows unmonitored entry from the rear. Struggling with schizophrenia, PTSD, paranoid delusional disorder and traumatic brain injury, soldiers feel especially vulnerable in that setting, just outside the post gates, on a street where drug dealers work the corner at night.
$300 Billion poured into that shithole in Iraq and this is the best that the Illustrious George W Bush can give the troops when they come back wounded. How low can that evil bastard go before people stop worshiping him?

Quote of the Day

"The guy has no core, his only principle is winning the presidency. He likes to call his campaign the 'straight talk express.' Well, down here we call it the 'forked tongue express.'"
Rob Haney, Republican state committeeman in Arizona's District 11, talking about John McCain.

Sure to be a bestseller



Borrowed with thanks

This is your legacy, George - part 8

Not all stateside duty is easy in the military.
Michael Balsley had been raised on a block of bungalows bunched cheek-to-jowl. There were pickup trucks or panel vans in front of many homes on Victory Drive, and flags were displayed on more than a few. The Stars and Stripes flew in front of the Balsley home.

It was a part of Preston's training to be prepared for the range of reactions he could expect. In the most extreme case, the father of a Marine notified at his home in Florida had doused himself with gasoline and set himself afire.

The porch light was on at the Balsley home. Preston knocked smartly. The screen door rattled. Inside, Jim Balsley was watching television and enjoying a root beer Popsicle. He opened the door and saw the two officers in their class A's with looks on their faces that said they didn't want to be there.

He knew at once, of course. There had been two casualties in his son's outfit -- the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division -- in the three months since they had deployed to Iraq, something he kept from Michael's mother. There was a feeling like a vise closing around his heart and his stomach. He thought: please no, please no.

Preston asked: "Are you James Balsley Jr.?"

"I am," he said.

"We have some tragic information about your son, Private First Class Michael Balsley. May we come in, sir?"

Preston is tall and rangy, and he seemed to fill the tiny living room with its comfortable chairs and couch and family photos and shelves of bric-a-brac.

The officers asked if they could sit. Preston wanted Jim and Beverly Balsley sitting because he was concerned they might faint. Beverly sat on the couch, Jim sat in Beverly's usual chair and Preston sat facing him.

It was hard to get the words out.

"The secretary of the Army has asked me to express his deep regret that your son Private First Class Michael Balsley was killed in action in Iraq today. The secretary extends his deepest sympathy to you and your family in your loss," Preston said.

Until he actually said the words, Preston thought that would be the hardest part. But when he finished he understood it was not. The hardest part was afterward.

"You've just given somebody the most devastating news they're going to get in their life," Preston said later, looking toward the ceiling of his office and sighing. "And there's really not much you can do at that point. There's really nothing you can do for them."

Things were becoming a blur for Jim Balsley. But through his own tears he saw that Preston was also crying.
How many more notifications do you need, Georgie, to burnish your legacy to your liking?

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The unnamed guest at the table

As Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil grand vizier, Dick "Dick" Cheney have been trying to convince the American public that Iran is the source of all evil in Iraq, the International Defence Exhibition is taking place in Dubai. As the various Middle East potentates restock their armories, little is said about how much will find its way to Sunni militants in Iraq.
What the American authorities are reluctant to admit, however, is that there are signs that the Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and their allies - including Jordan - have been equipping and training Sunni extremists in Iraq for some time now. Critically, not all the weaponry and munitions have been used against the militants' Shia and Kurdish Iraqi enemies. Some of them - including lethal roadside bombs - have been aimed at US forces.

"The growth of the official and unofficial Saudi and Jordanian support for the militants is one of the most worrying developments," a senior British officer has told me privately after a visit to Iraq.

The Bush administration has kept mum about this while it tries to concentrate the minds of America and the world on their new public enemy number one, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the region's chief sponsor of terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Should the deaths of US troops from this weaponry be classified as "friendly fire"?

And then there was one

And that one last one was the absolute stark raving mad Dick "Dick" Cheney.
Despite some of Cheney's predictions about the U.S. mission in Iraq having been proved wrong--most notably his assertion in May 2005 that the insurgency was in its "last throes"--he has retained his stature within the administration. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has moved from the White House to Foggy Bottom, political adviser Karl Rove has been demoted from his policy role at the White House and Rumsfeld has been replaced. Yet Cheney has held on to a powerful role.
And any one who thinks that any progress has been made toward the rescue of the US from Iraq need only remember this.
"But the real power of the vice president was that he could go in and talk to the president about whatever he wanted, and staff didn't always know what he was saying."
And the results have shown that the staff were not the only ones who didn't know what he was saying.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Compare the two

This comment from Jan 10.
"The Iraqis are going to have three brigades within Baghdad within a little more than a month. They have committed to trying to get one brigade in, I think, by the first of February, and two more by the 15th," the official said.

"So people are going to be able to see pretty quickly that the Iraqis are or are not stepping up. And that provides the ability to judge."
With this comment today Feb 16.
GEN. PACE: And if I may, the forces are still moving into position. You've got two of the Iraqi brigades in -- that were going to plussed up in Baghdad in Baghdad now. The third one is moving this month. So the major thrust in Baghdad has not yet started.
Our brave Iraqi allies missed their mark right out of the gate. I guess that means we are seeing pretty quickly how well Our Dear Embattled Leader's Brave Surge of Other People is doing.

When only the very best will do

You can count on the Bushoviks to deny it to our troops. Whether it is properly armored vehicles, adequate supplies or the best medical care when they are transported home.
About 30 VA doctors in four trauma centers around the country have treated about 200 severely wounded soldiers and Marines. The docs had been receiving the complete digital records from the Pentagon until the end of January, using the Pentagon's Joint Patient Tracking Application.

But on Jan. 25, when Shane McNamee, a physician in the Richmond VA Medical Center, tried to get the full records, he couldn't. He sent an urgent e-mail to VA chief liaison officer Edward Huycke.

"My JPTA account has been disabled within last few days," McNamee wrote. "I called the hotline and was told that all VA accounts have been locked. Could not get a good answer why. Anyhow -- I have 4 [Iraq/Afghanistan] service members to arrive within the next 2 days. This information is terribly important," the doctor wrote.
And the correct Bushovik response is:
Tommy Morris, director of Deployment Health Systems, responded the next morning to Parramore's inquiry, after contacting Ellen Embry, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force health protection. "I spoke with Embry and no agreements, no data sharing via access to JPTA."

The access cutoff came after Morris, in a Jan. 23 e-mail, instructed a colleague: "If the VA currently has access I need a list of persons and I need their accounts shut off ASAP. It is illegal for them to have access without data use agreements and access controls in place by federal regulations and public law."
Is there no end to what they will do?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

At the morgue

From the Baghdad bureau of McClatchy comes this heart wrenching story of a trip to the morgue to pick up the remains of a family member killed in an explosion. A trip undertaken by the women who are the only ones who can safely travel there nowadays.
When we got there, we were given his remains. And remains they were. From the waist down was all they could give us. “We identified him by the cell phone in his pants’ pocket. If you want the rest, you will just have to look for yourselves. We don’t know what he looks like....

....We were asked what we were looking for, “ upper half” replied my companion, for I was rendered speechless. “Over there”. We looked for our boy’s broken body between tens of other boys’ remains’; with our bare hands sifting them and turning them.

We found him millennia later, took both parts home, and began the mourning ceremony.
And the Republicans want to drag out this misery as long as they can. For what purpose?

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Whoa! Who let this dog out before Friday?

In a shocking report by the three top auditors for Congress, Defense and the effort in Iraq, we get a good look at just how much money was pissed away in Our Dear Embattled Leader's Favorite Shithole.
The U.S. government has squandered as much as $10 billion in public money on Iraq reconstruction aid because of overcharges and unsubstantiated expenses. More is yet to come, federal investigators said Thursday.

The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House committee their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State department officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.

More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors were questionable or unsupported, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.
And just in case you were surprised by the findings, consider this:
Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2.7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
No wonder they want to prolong the war, it is just too profitable to end now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pat Oliphant, Tom Toles and the Real World







And a dose of reality for Our Dear Embattled Leader


Quote of the Day

Sen. Graham…I consider you as cowardly as Rumsfeld, as Sanchez, and Miller and all of them
ex Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, responding to remarks by Sen. Lindsey Graham

George Walter Bush, the Anti-Republican

Or so this column from the Baltimore Sun would have us believe.
According to the latest Gallup survey, Republican self-identification has declined nationally and in almost every American state. Why? The short answer is that President Bush's war of choice in Iraq has destroyed the partisan brand Republicans spent the past four decades building.

That brand was based upon four pillars: that Republicans are more trustworthy on defense and military issues; that they know when and where markets can replace or improve government; that they are more competent administrators of those functions government can't privatize; and, finally, that their public philosophy is imbued with moral authority. The war demolished all four claims.
I believe.

George W Bush and the Republicans lost the war in Iraq.

WaPo adds humor to their Op-Ed page

And the first side splitting bit of backwoods humor is an apologia by Doug "Fucking Stupidest Guy on the Face of the Earth" Feith. This would be award winning comedy were it not for the thousands of people who died because of what he did. Perhaps, if he was not so stupid he might have some remorse.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Guess what?

Atrios has a pair of posts. They are transcripts of the remarks of two congressmen, Patrick Murphy and Jerry Nadler. And when you have read them, and any others Democratic remarks you may find, you will know one simple truth.

THE REPUBLICANS LOST THE WAR IN IRAQ!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Could you live with this every day?

The McClatchy Baghdad bureau has a blog. The entry today, in its entirety.
I'm still waiting.

At work I try not to react to jungle outside, even if for a few minutes a day. Sometimes I succeed. But today the events came rushing in and rudely intruded upon my precariously sustained neutrality.

I was called from home to be told that a nephew of mine was killed in the explosion in the city center. The explosion went off in a central, much frequented market, so there was no doubt it was targeting civilians. Then they called me to say it may not be him after all because there was no way to identify what was left ... only his cell phone in the pants' pocket.

Now I'm waiting, fearfuly, for confirmation either way.

The problem doesn't end there.

If it isn't him, it's someone's son anyway. But if it is him ... whom are we willing to risk going to the Morgue to receive the remains?? If and when we receive him ... where do we burry him?? Almost none who take the path to Abu Ghraib Cemetary return unscathed.

Perhaps we should revive the tradition of burrying our dead in our gardens. It's certainly a lot better that loosing other members of our family on the way to the cemetary or on the way back.

All this is contimplation. For I'm still waiting.
And the longer we stay in Iraq, the longer the Iraqis have to endure this.

More Bushovik love for veterans.

Because, if they have lost their arms and/or legs there is that much less of each veteran and that much less money needed to care for them.
Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.

The proposed cuts are unrealistic in light of recent VA budget trends — its medical care budget has risen every year for two decades and 83 percent in the six years since Bush took office
And all that money saved can make Our Dear Embattled Leader's fantasy budget look almost real.

Al Gore for President

You know you want it.

Sign the petition.

Something about John McCain

If your grandfather was talking nonsense like Saint John has been doing lately, you would be writing the note to pin on his sweatshirt before you left him at the bus stop.

Ari Fleischer to get the Electric Chair!

What a dream come true that would be. Still, that was the mental image that drove old Ari into the arms of the grand jury in the Valerie Plame case. And today we learned from Walter Pincus of the WaPo that Ari was, indeed, one of the treasonous bastards who revealed her name to assorted reporters in DC.
Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus testified in court this morning that then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, not I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was the first person to tell him that a prominent critic of the Iraq war was married to undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.
So, Irv was not the only one to be spreading the word. With luck they will all testify themselves into another grand jury.

Tom " Terrific" Toles


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Betty Bowers says goodbye to Anna Nicole Smith

This hasn't been a particularly good week for crazy people, has it? First, Astronaut Lisa Nowak tries to end a life. Next, Space Cadet Anna Nicole Smith comes to the end of her own. The first story is so sad because it is so unpredictable; the latter because it was not.
And if Betty can't put paid to the whole mess, no one can.

Matt Taibbi does not like Joe Klien.

The whole post is a good read, especially Tanya, but this tells you all you need to know.
Joe Klein is the living incarnation of American "conventional wisdom" -- a spineless, slavish watcher of polls who has no problem whatsoever denying today what he said yesterday.

Gen. Odom writes about the elephant in the room.

And in simple direct terms he makes clear what no one else wants to say.
The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq starkly delineates the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war. Victory, as the president sees it, requires a stable liberal democracy in Iraq that is pro-American. The NIE describes a war that has no chance of producing that result. In this critical respect, the NIE, the consensus judgment of all the U.S. intelligence agencies, is a declaration of defeat.
Through it all, he is considerate enough to only mention once the elephants progeny in the room. THE REPUBLICANS LOST THE WAR IN IRAQ!

That politesse aside, this is a MUST READ.

Quote of the Day

They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for.
Hillary Mann, formerNational Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs

Jonathan Chait writes about the long term effects of Kool-Aid drinking

And it is sadly simple, your mind rots and you turn into a Jar Jar Liebermann clone.
THERE IS something genuinely bizarre about those remaining supporters of President Bush's strategy in Iraq. It is not just that they are wrong — being wrong happens to all of us from time to time. It's that they are completely detached from reality.

Their arguments have nothing to do with what is actually happening in Iraq. They aren't claiming that Bush's critics have a wrong impression of what's happening in Iraq. They just seem to have no interest in the subject themselves. Their arguments take place almost entirely at the level of abstraction.
Who needs facts?

Zbigniew Brzezinski has a roadmap

For the extrication of the US from Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Little Quagmire. It is an excellent plan similar to many presented earlier and in the hands of competent leadership it would probably work. Unfortunately, at the beginning of his Op-Ed, ZB explicitly states why this plan and all the others will end up in the round file.
THE WAR IN IRAQ is a historic strategic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions. It is undermining America's global legitimacy. Its collateral civilian casualties, as well as some abuses, are tarnishing America's moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability.

Yet major strategic decisions in the Bush administration continue to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals — perhaps not more than the fingers on one hand. With the exception of the new Defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, these are the same individuals who have been involved from the start of this misadventure, who made the original decision to go to war in Iraq and who used the original false justifications for going to war. It is human nature to be reluctant to undertake actions that would imply a significant reversal of policy.
It's a muggs game to think the self supporting circle jerk in the White House will ever say they were wrong.

Our Dear Embattled Leader supports Ahmadinejad

It has long been a truism in government that when your domestic position is shaky you pick a fight with another country. The purpose of this is to unite your countrymen, in a flurry of nationalistic fervor, against a common outside enemy. As this article from the LA Times shows, Our Dear Embattled Leader is generously providing Iran with the "outside enemy" without being asked, and this is a concern to the majority of Iranians who were hoping to get rid of Ahmadinejad when his failures became too much for the electorate. Instead ODEL is providing the necessary props to the current Iranian leadership.
But many Iranians say the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program has become a rallying point for a president who otherwise would be facing substantial public dissatisfaction over soaring inflation, rising unemployment and widespread censorship.

This has been a source of frustration to Iran's reformists, who dealt the president's party a blow at the polls in local elections in December but complain that the Bush administration's threatening rhetoric has pulled the rug out from under them.

"You are harmful for us. We try to tell politicians in Washington, D.C., please don't do anything in favor of reform or to promote democracy in Iran. Because in 100% of the cases, it benefits the right wing," said Saeed Leylaz, a business consultant and advocate of economic reform and greater dialogue with the West.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad tries to make the international situation worse and worse. And now with the U.N. Security Council resolution, he can say, 'Look, we are in a dangerous position, and nobody can say anything against us, because the enemy is coming into the country.' Exactly like George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. They are helping each other. They need each other, I believe."
Mr. Leylaz has failed to notice that this is simply a case of one group of right wing whackos supporting another group of right wing whackos. And Our Dear Leader's history of giving aid and comfort to our enemies, whether they be Osama, Pooty-Poot or Ahmadinejad, makes these actions normal behavior for the Texican Twit.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

How do they do that?

Everybody's favorite dingleberry, Karl TurdBlossom Rove, has managed to embarass the White House with his unusual take on immigration and the guest worker program. As you well remember, he was quoted as saying,"I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas." But Ol' TB wasn't relegating all the menial work to the "good" immigrants, the truth is more exotic.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told ABC News that the White House does not deny that Rove made the remark but claims it has been taken out of context.
Unless the Texicans speak a different kind of English (a very real possibility), that statement is pretty straight forward. Add to that Karl notoriety as a well known bigot and race-baiter and it is hard to imagine any other context for that statement beyond the one in which it was taken. So, please, if TurdBlossom and the WH will not apologize for those remarks , then please just STFU!

Quote of the Day

Long before history develops a big interest in George W. Bush's immigration policy, historians will have to labor long and hard on the question of whether Bush was the white Idi Amin.
Jim Schutze , writing about the George W Bush Library at SMU.

Only if it supports the Agenda

That does appear to be the basis of Bushovik foreign policy decisions. Consider this tidbit from the WaPo today.
Since al-Qaeda fighters began streaming into Iran from Afghanistan in the winter of 2001, Tehran had turned over hundreds of people to U.S. allies and provided U.S. intelligence with the names, photographs and fingerprints of those it held in custody, according to senior U.S. intelligence and administration officials. In early 2003, it offered to hand over the remaining high-value targets directly to the United States if Washington would turn over a group of exiled Iranian militants hiding in Iraq.

Some of Bush's top advisers pushed for the trade, arguing that taking custody of bin Laden's son and the others would produce new leads on al-Qaeda. They were also willing to trade away the exiles -- members of a group on the State Department's terrorist list -- who had aligned with Saddam Hussein in an effort to overthrow the Iranian government.

Officials have said Bush ultimately rejected the exchange on the advice of Vice President Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who argued that any engagement would legitimize Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism. Bush's National Security Council agreed to accept information from Iran on al-Qaeda but offer nothing in return, officials said.
So Our Dear Embattled Leader, Crazy Dick and the late, unlamented Rummy subscribe to the theory that what you believe is more important than what you can achieve. And when you believe in war with Iran, it's "Damn the facts, full speed ahead".

Bloomberg News critiques Condi

And shows us a failure, just like her boss. And this article begins with her tenure as Secretary of State and leaves out her greatest failure, the World Trade Center.
In February 2005, Rice, already the star of the Bush cabinet, described for reporters on her maiden cross-Atlantic trip as secretary ``the tremendous opportunities ahead of us,'' including spreading ``freedom and liberty to places they've never been.''

Two years later, few of those goals have been realized. Iraq, and possibly Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, are sliding into civil war, Iran is pursuing its nuclear ambitions unchecked, Russia is ignoring demands for political and economic openness, and China is building ties with U.S. adversaries.

Rice's public approval rating is slipping, and she is getting more of the flak for the prosecution of the Iraq war than ever before.

``Condi is seen as being the loyal implementer of the president's policy priorities, and as a result she's getting the same kind of treatment as her boss,''
Despite having an oil tanker named after her, Condi is a classic ivory tower academic, weaving elegant theories and ideas that just aren't tough enough to stand up to reality. But like her boss, for Condi the agenda is more important than any reality and so we can look forward to more spiked heels and "spreading democracy" without any coherent plan based on what the real world has to offer.

Yup, this should work good.

From the AP we learn of the latest requirement for success in Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Little War, cooperation between Iraqis and US troops.
The new U.S. commander in Iraq warned on Saturday that the country was "doomed to continued violence and civil strife" if American and Iraqi forces did not work together.

Gen. David Petraeus took command of the 135,000-strong U.S. force, declaring "we will have to share the burdens and move forward together. If we can do that and if we can help the people of Iraq, the prospects of success are good.

"Failing that, Iraq will be doomed to continued violence and civil strife."
That is a pretty big IF. And on the other side the tiger waits.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Different cooks, same thin gruel

On the day that the report on the Office of Special Plans, Doug "Fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth" Feith's custom intelligence caterers group, comes out, we are treated to another tasteless and insubstantial entree of Bushovik "intelligence" by the current Secretary of Defense. And like the original concoction, this too is designed to seduce an abused public into supporting a war against an unnecessary enemy. This time Iran is the target of choice. The difference this time around is that the superbly capable US military machine has had it most important ground elements ground down, worn out, used up and strained to the limits. Stuck in the middle if "Indian country", they are in no position take on a new fight, but to the folks in the White House, the agenda dictates their reality. And so Our Dear Embattled Leader continues to rattle an empty scabbard at Teheran. No doubt they plan to crush Iran with air power, like we did to North Viet Nam.

Yeah, that should do the trick.

Brave men who will sacrifice as many other people as necessary

From the good folks at MoveOn.org


Mental Health and the VA

McClatchy has a feature article today on the state of the Veterans Administration's mental health care for returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The picture is not pretty, from spotty availability to uneven quality to lack of awareness of what is needed. To compound the problem, money or lack of it prevents the proper care from becoming available to the increasing number of new veterans who need it. The article highlights the necessity of doing more for these young soldiers who were willing to give everything for us. And we need to give so much more to prevent any more of this:
When she first saw it in December 2005, Ellen thought it was a Christmas list from her son Josh, who had just walked out the front door.

Then she read the words:

"Don't think this is because of you," it said. "You did the best you could with me. The faces and the voices just won't go away."

The note indicated Josh's imminent suicide and went on to apologize for the pain he would cause. He said he had just received a driving-while-intoxicated charge - a surprise since he rarely drank. "This kills all hope of becoming a police officer that I ever had," he wrote.

By the time Ellen realized what the note was about, she ran outside. Josh was getting in his truck. She grabbed the side mirror, yelling hysterically that he would have to run her over before driving away. He yelled back, about a friend who had been killed in Iraq.

"Your battle buddy would not want you to die," she screamed.

"Mom, you don't understand," he said. "I've been dead ever since I left Iraq."

Josh shot himself in the head a few seconds later....

.....Josh Omvig had been a happy kid who signed up for the Army Reserve the day after he turned 18. He spent an intense 10 months in Iraq and then suddenly was home again. In the space of six days, he went from serving in Iraq to sitting at his family's Thanksgiving dinner table.

A mental health moment

Not to soothe your mental health, but to consider the state of this man, one of the US interrogators in Iraq.
The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.
On the same day that we learn of the machinations of the aptly described "fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth" as he cooked the intelligence on Iraq to insure that war would result, we also learn more of the price of that recipe and that war. Another brick in the wall of lies and deceit that has turned Iraq into the biggest human tragedy and Republican failure this country has ever been a party to.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The administration has had very little problem making up things out of whole cloth when it comes to nuclear, so to see them mischaracterizing Greenpeace's position doesn't really surprise me."
Jim Riccio, a nuclear policy analyst with Greenpeace, commenting on White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's bald faced lie about Greenpeace.

Because Republicans can't handle the truth

Statement from the House Sergeant At Arms:
For Immediate Release

February 8, 2007

As the Sergeant at Arms, I have the responsibility to ensure the security of the members of the House of Representatives, to include the Speaker of the House. The Speaker requires additional precautions due to her responsibilities as the leader of the House and her Constitutional position as second in the line of succession to the presidency.

In a post 9/11 threat environment, it is reasonable and prudent to provide military aircraft to the Speaker for official travel between Washington and her district. The practice began with Speaker Hastert and I have recommended that it continue with Speaker Pelosi. The fact that Speaker Pelosi lives in California compelled me to request an aircraft that is capable of making non-stop flights for security purposes, unless such an aircraft is unavailable. This will ensure communications capabilities and also enhance security. I made the recommendation to use military aircraft based upon the need to provide necessary levels of security for ranking national leaders, such as the Speaker. I regret that an issue that is exclusively considered and decided in a security context has evolved into a political issue.

My nomination for Health Product of the Year


Anna Nicole Smith R I P

Vickie Lynn Hogan, you have made Rita Cosby relevant again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Image is everything



Thanks to Gordon for the heads up.

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Sen Jar Jar Liebermann hears a new tax

And he is pleased as punch to announce its impending arrival.
"I think we have to start thinking about a war on terrorism tax," Lieberman said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Bush's defense budget. "I mean, people keep saying we're not asking a sacrifice of anybody but our military in this war and some civilians who are working on it."
So as long as he is willing to make the military sacrifice, we should be willing to pay for it. But don't worry, he most assuredly will not ask any corporations to share the sacrifice, because everybody know corporations have no feelings.

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Quote of the Day

Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?
Henry Waxman D-CA, questioning a $4 Billion cash transfer to Baghdad

MoDo does Joe Plugs

In that inimitable MoDo style, she presents her chat with presidential candidate Joseph Biden D-DE.

See, she can make nice when she wants to.

Monday, February 05, 2007

For whom the Tom Toles.


The difference between a Democrat and a Republican

This particular item in Our Dear Embattled Leader's proposed budget will not be cut down in committee, as it has been these last 6 years.
-$36.6 billion for medical care for U.S. veterans, up 83 percent since 2001. Includes $3 billion for improved mental health services.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This is your legacy, George - Part 7

The NY Times today does a follow up to yesterdays market blast in Baghdad that killed at least 131 people. Many of the locals are blaming Our Dear Embattled Leader's surge for it because it drove the Mahdi Army away from the checkpoints that would have protected the people.
“The terrorists chose this spot three months ago and again yesterday so they could kill as many people as possible,” said Mr. Kaabi, a Shiite from Sadr City. “Trucks are not even allowed in the small alleys of the market. I wonder how the truck made it in.”

It was a question that traveled through much of Baghdad today, in the wake of the deadliest single bomb blast since the American invasion in 2003. Shiites in particular came prepared with an answer. They said the looming American-Iraqi security plan for Baghdad had weakened the Mahdi army, the Shiite militia loyal to the militant cleric Moktada Al-Sadr, emasculating the Shiites’ only reliable source of security.

Instead of making the city safer, they said, recent American efforts have opened Shiite areas to bombs that have left more than 450 dead since Jan. 16.

“A long time has passed since the plan was announced,” Basim Shareef, a Shiite member of Parliament, said today. “But so far there security has only deteriorated.”

An American military official, responding to the Shiite accusations, said that American checkpoints around eastern and central Baghdad last October seemed to reduce the number of car bombs until the checkpoints were removed because of objections from Sadr officials and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal Al-Maliki. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the American military spokesman in Iraq, called for patience as the new security plan rolls out.

Give the government and coalition forces a chance to fully implement it,” he told news agencies.
Give it a chance, Give it time. It seems that this is a standard whine from the Bushoviks. And every time we hear it, the result is merely a reinforcement of the original failure. The tragedy of this is that every time Our Dear Embattled Leader fails, people die.
“I saw with my own eyes young children flying from the windows of the apartments on top of the shops when the explosion arrived,” said Haydar Abdul Jabbar, 28, a car mechanic who was standing near a barber shop when the bomb exploded, sending up a plume of smoke several stories high. “One woman threw herself out of the window when the fire came close to her.”

Mr. Abdul Jabbar said he rushed to collapsed buildings, trying to help the wounded, but found mainly hands, skulls and other body parts. At one point, he discovered the remains of his close friend, who was engaged to be married.
It has been obvious for a long time, Georgie, that you don't care.

EXTRA: Just for shits and giggles, Georgie, read about the fun and adventure of fleeing your home to stay alive.

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