Thursday, May 31, 2007

Too many to honor each individually

From the Army Times.
Soldiers from Fort Lewis, Wash., and Fort Drum, N.Y., who are killed in combat will be honored during monthly group memorials instead of individual services beginning in June...

...“As much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harm’s way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies,”
Bravo, Li'l Georgie! Well done, Dickwahd! How many more do you need?

Did you see it?


John Moore/Getty Images

Joe Galloway saw it and was moved to write about the folly and waste of our best by our worst.
There's one stark image that lingers in my mind from Memorial Day 2007. It's that photograph of the young fiancee of a slain Army Ranger sergeant stretched facedown and full length on the cold earth of his grave at Arlington National Cemetery. She was embracing with love all that she and we have lost.

Did you weep for her, America? Did you weep for him? Did you feel or even notice the pain and suffering that radiated from that image?

Did it speak to your heart of the events - the grotesque mistakes of a president and his underlings and the utter failures of a Congress and both political parties - that brought the sergeant and his fiancee to that place?
How many more will you and I let die for a lie?

Headline of the week

Weak growth figures not cause for panic, experts say
And it is followed by the irrational exuberance of economic experts doing what they are told.
Government statistics released Thursday indicate that U.S. economic growth ground to a near stop in the first quarter of 2007, a sign that's often interpreted to mean recession is lurking. Most economists don't think the sky is falling, however, and believe a strong rebound is already under way.
And they are positive that green cheese will be found on the moon.

This woman deserves a Cabinet post.

Who knew that humble student loans were such a profit center? Or that they would be so deeply involved in scandal and stink, a veritable training ground for new Bushoviks? And Ellen Frishberg is the best yet to emerge.
A former financial aid director at Johns Hopkins University who cultivated a national reputation as a stickler for ethics accepted more than $130,000 from eight lending industry companies during her tenure, twice as much money as previously disclosed, according to documents and interviews.

In 18 years at Johns Hopkins, Ellen Frishberg advised the federal government on rules for officials dealing with the student loan industry and lectured peers on the need to avoid perceived conflicts of interest. "Appearance of impropriety is as important as impropriety itself," she said in a 2000 presentation to California aid administrators.

This month, Frishberg resigned after the university concluded that she failed to comply with ethics policies by accepting $65,000 from a lending company she had urged students to use.

But her financial ties to the industry were more extensive than Hopkins or Frishberg have publicly said, amounting to at least $133,695, according to hundreds of pages of financial records, contracts and e-mails The Washington Post obtained from Senate investigators.
Talk about practicing what you preach! This woman could have been the new Attorney General if the stars had been right.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Waiting for Lieberman


McClatchy
has a piece on Joe The Weasel's trip to Baghdad today. In an attempt to show he is VP material, he went to a suk to see 'real Iraqis'. And as the troops waited for him, they discussed what the would say to him.
Williams wasn't sure if he'd say how he really felt. But if he could, he'd ask about body armor.

"I don't want him to snap his fingers to get things fixed," Williams said, referring to Lieberman. "But he has influence."

Next to him, Spc. Will Hedin, 21, of Chester, Conn., thought about what he was going to say.

"We're not making any progress," Hedin said, as he recalled a comrade who was shot by a sniper last week. "It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at."

But as he waited two chairs down from where Lieberman would sit, Hedin said he'd never voice his true feelings to the senator.

"I think I'd be a private if I did," he joked. "It's just more troops, more targets."
Understandable attitude, but without he and his brothers and sisters in the military speaking out, sparrowfarts like Joe can say everything is going great.
Then Lieberman walked in, wearing a pair of sunglasses newly purchased from an Iraqi market that the military had taken him to in southeast Baghdad. He'd been equipped with a helmet and flak vest when he toured the market, which he described as bustling.
One point of interest, Joe got to chat with his nephew over there.
Cpl. Adam Miller flew in from Taji, north of Baghdad to meet with his uncle, Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Joe is a real patriot, putting his nephew where his mouth is. Writing a check with his sister's kid that his saggy old ass doesn't have to cover, ever.

Quote of the Day

What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes.
Andrew Sullivan, blogging for The Atlantic.

Sometimes it just explains itself

The NY Times has a report on the efforts to improve the quality of interrogation by government employees. The odds are against any improvement from the get-go.
As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.
How can any one imagine things getting any better when they are already at the epitome of Bushovik excellence in work standards.

People are spitting out the Kool-Aid

The New York Times went to the voters and interviewed them in the states of Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. What they found should be enough to get any Republican with an ounce of sense to tell Karl Rove and Dickwahd al-Cheney to go pound salt.
“My patience for this war, it’s run out,” said Ms. Thompson, 53. “I think this is the most expensive, stupidest thing ever done. My frustration has reached a level that is so unsettling, something has to be done.”

Though voters here in the 10th Congressional District have elected a Republican to the House for as long as anyone can remember, there is a newfound hostility about the war that is being directed toward Mr. Kirk, who was narrowly re-elected to a fourth term last November.

Nor is Mr. Kirk alone in his struggle to appease increasingly restless constituents. He and 10 other Republicans in Congress recently delivered a warning to President Bush that conditions in Iraq needed to improve soon because public support of the war was crumbling.

While a majority of Republican voters continue to support Mr. Bush and the Iraq war, including the recent increase in American troops deployed, there are concerns that the war is undermining the party’s political position. A majority of Republicans who were interviewed for a New York Times/CBS News poll this month said that things were going badly in Iraq and that Congress should allow financing only on the condition that the Iraqi government met benchmarks for progress.
The days of the Preznit and his pissants peddling their Potemkin policies to the public may soon be past. Don't forget to do your part to save our country.

Nevada

It is something of a surprise that in a state that is home to Las Vegas, legal brothels and lots of sand, the best show in town is the governor. Jim Gibbons, the erstwhile quietly corrupt congressman and alleged assaulter of cocktail waitresses, is making quite a stir in his early months as the governor.
In the last few months, Mr. Gibbons, a Republican, announced a plan to turn coal into jet fuel to raise money (problematic, as Nevada has no coal to speak of) and proposed paying for a $3.8 billion shortfall in highway construction money by selling water rights under state highways (it turns out the state did not actually own the rights).

He told a local editorial board he could not pronounce the name of his energy adviser because she was “Indian” — she is Turkish — and vetoed a bill that would stop budget-busting tax breaks for builders of “green” buildings before issuing an executive order to end them anyway (with the exception of four companies).

Mr. Gibbons is the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into whether he failed to report gifts from a military contractor while serving in Congress. The governor, who would not be interviewed, has denied wrongdoing, and once suggested that Democratic operatives might have paid off newspaper reporters who have written about his troubles with the F.B.I.

And faced with a collapsing public education system and extensive state infrastructure needs, Mr. Gibbons at one point threatened to veto the $7 billion two-year state budget and shut down government largely over his desire for a security center in Carson City — an idea that law enforcement officials dislike — and his plan to save small businesses two hundredths of a percent on their taxes.
And his wife is no slouch either.
Mrs. Gibbons also announced a ban on alcohol in the governor’s mansion, but then concluded that when a wing of your home is named after a local liquor tycoon and the state has a long and storied history of imbibing at official events, it is best not to deny your guests a glass of wine.
Unfortunately, his clown show distracts from and interferes with the solutions to many serious problems facing Nevada. Problems that will no doubt continue during his time in office.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Valerie Plame was a spy.

One of ours, supposed to be a good guy, you know. And the latest filing from Patrick Fitzgerald details what can be made public about her long career with the CIA (our spies). You would have to be a disgusting, America hating traitor to reveal her identity.

And for another look at what is happening in this case, check out Froomkin.

Tuesday Monday Music Blogging

It occured to me that if Our Dear Embattled Leader can repeat the same failed ideas over and over again, then I can do a little repeating myself. And so, here is a short summation of ODEL's Fahbulous War Plan.


Even the soldiers get it.

Which should be the "canary in the coal mine" for even the dumbest Texican, which is a pretty good indicator that Our Dear Embattled is not dumb, he just had evil intentions for Iraq.
But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber’s body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.

“I thought, ‘What are we doing here? Why are we still here?’ ” said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. “We’re helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us.”
In fairness, not every soldier understands. The first timers and FNG's who still have Kool-Aid on their breath are still snorting and pawing the earth for a little action. If they survive, they will change. The only one who won't is Our Dear Embattled Leader.

Go away for a few days and nothing changes.

Gunmen wearing police commando uniforms abducted five British civilians from a Finance Ministry compound in Baghdad today, British officials said, reviving questions about links between government security forces and criminal militias.

The United States military also said that 10 American soldiers died Monday in separate attacks, making May the deadliest month for American troops since November 2004. And in the capital, two car bombs blasted crowded neighborhoods, killing at least 32 people and wounding more than 100, according to an interior ministry official.

The abduction — conducted just before noon by gunmen in police vehicles, who according to witnesses entered the fortified Finance Ministry complex without firing a shot — was one of the most brazen, coordinated assaults on Western civilians at an Iraqi government complex since the war started.

The ease with which the attackers worked has amplified concerns about whether elements of Iraq’s government are playing a direct or implicit role in attacks on westerners.
May '07 has become the third deadliest month for US troops so far, remember that Our Dear Embattled Leader has promised to get even more troops killed in the months ahead as part of His Surge. Five Brits were kidnapped, probably with government help and IMHO as revenge for something the Brits did in the south. And a pair of car bombs killed more than 30 people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stop me if you have heard this one before. Or better yet, let's do everything we can to stop Our Dear Bloodstained Leader.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Taking time off for Memorial Day

In between picnics and parties, stop for a moment and look upon a few of the reasons why we call it Memorial Day.



And if it is all too ancient history for you, try this more contemporary list.

Their pictures are here, don't even try it if you don't have a high speed connection.

I will see you all again on Tuesday.

US military records now online.

Not everything, but if you want to see if great uncle Fred really did enlist in WWI you can find out now at Ancestry.com.
This year’s Memorial Day weekend comes with the introduction of a perfectly timely service: Ancestry.com has posted the U.S. military war records of 90 million troops who served the nation from 1607 through the end of the Vietnam War.

The site also includes the names of 3.5 million troops who’ve been killed in action, including 2,000 from the war in Iraq.

And as part of the introduction, there is no cost to search the database from now through the June 6 anniversary of D-Day. After that, unlimited access will cost $155.40 per year.
Get it while it's free and if Mormon missionaries show up at your door, just put a load of rocksalt in their hides. They aren't really Americans, you know.

Sarin is the cause

The latest report, funded by the DoD and the VA and using Pentagon data about troop movement in Bush War I, lays the cause of Gulf War Syndrome at the feet of the Sarin plume from the destruction of Saddam's Chemical weapons depot at Khamisiyah.
In 1999, working on behalf of the Rand Corp., Beatrice Golomb, professor of internal medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, reviewed every study she could find on the issue. She said it was the first time anyone had pulled all that research together.

Golomb said she found a link between symptoms of Gulf War veterans and their exposure to sarin, pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and bug repellent, all of which overstimulate muscles by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, a chemical that signals muscles to stop moving. The tongue, being a big muscle, eventually cuts off a person’s ability to breathe if it is overstimulated.

In the case of the bug repellent, the ill effects are aimed at the bug, not the person wearing the repellent.

In large enough amounts, PB is harmful, but in small doses it acts to prevent nerve agents from overstimulating muscles, and the effects of PB itself are temporary and reversible.

Exposure to sarin alone would be problematic enough. But for Gulf War veterans, exposure to sarin as well as PB and/or bug repellent may have been what ushered in Gulf War syndrome.
The VA says it will study this further.

Everything DID go according to plan.

And the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released today makes clear that the chain of events from initial invasion to the current state of affairs was accurately modeled in reports to the White House. Some of the main points predicted:
- Establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a long, steep and probably turbulent challenge. They said that contributions could be made by 4 million Iraqi exiles and Iraq's impoverished, underemployed middle class. But they noted that opposition parties would need sustained economic, political and military support.

- Al-Qaida would see the invasion as a chance to accelerate its attacks, and the lines between al-Qaida and other terrorist groups "could become blurred." In a weak spot in the analysis, one paper said that the risk of terror attacks would spike after the invasion and slow over the next three to five years. However, the State Department recently found that attacks last year alone rose sharply.

- Groups in Iraq's deeply divided society would become violent, unless stopped by the occupying force. "Score settling would occur throughout Iraq between those associated with Saddam's regime and those who have suffered most under it," one report stated.

- Iraq's neighbors would jockey for influence and Iranian leaders would try to shape the post-Saddam era to demonstrate Tehran's importance in the region. The less Tehran felt threatened by U.S. actions, the analysts said, "the better the chance that they could cooperate in the postwar period."

- Postwar Iraq would face significant economic challenges, having few resources beyond oil. Analysts predicted that Iraq's large petroleum resources would make economic reconstruction easier, but they didn't anticipate that continued fighting and sabotage would drag down oil production.

- Military action to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would not cause other governments in the region to give up such programs.
And the reports were circulated to people who could make a difference. It is known that it got to Dick "Cap't Last Throes" Cheney but not whether he let his whiny boy see it. Not that it mattered, if Unka Dick said go, not even Condi's sharpest pair of heels would have stopped Our Dear Embattled Leader from bravely saying "Attack".

The Marines fail to deliver

The equipment requested by the troops on the front line. This would not be news except that the Marines has supposedly put in place a process that acted on feedback from the people doing the actual fighting.
Of more than 100 requests from deployed Marine units between February 2006 and February 2007, less than 10 percent have been fulfilled, the document says. It blamed the bureaucracy and a "risk-averse" approach by acquisition officials.

Among the items held up were a mine resistant vehicle and a hand-held laser system.

"Process worship cripples operating forces," according to the document. "Civilian middle management lacks technical and operational currency."
Just like in any other large corporation, it sounds great until implementation. The only fly in this ointment is that when they fail, real people die.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

This is a terrible, terrible joke

And the joke is on us, all of us who think that the military can defeat an enemy they can not understand. And the irony is that there are currently many capable and honorable gays serving in the military and others who would willingly enlist, if they could be treated as human beings. But the troglodytes are so afraid of an "attack in the rear" that they will give a priceless advantage to the enemy in front.

The war in Iraq was lost not by any failure of the troops, but by the constant and insistent failure of the Republican 'leadership'.

Everyone is a critic

And in a town full of sparrowfarts, one true sparrow lets his feelings about Our Dear Beshitted Leader be known. You can watch the video here. You will have to watch an ad first

The General Forgives

General J.C Christian is in a forgiving mood and Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minons are the recipients of his willingness to forgive and forget.As an aide-memoire, he has compiled a list of mistakes that could have happened to anyone.
  • Jose Padilla is arrested for plotting to explode a dirty bomb. The charges are later changed and Padilla is accused of plotting to turn on the gas in a number of apartments and then light a match to them. Those charges were eventually dropped and currently, Padilla is charged with being a Chechen Resistance recruiter and filling out an application to be a terrorist.
  • 8.8 billion dollars is placed on pallets and transported to Iraq where it is never heard from again.
  • In preparation for Hurricane Katrina, a FEMA contractor makes a web site inquiry about renting buses to evacuate New Orleans residents. The contractor finally orders the buses 18 hours after storm makes landfall.
  • The Department of Defense releases an 105 year old man from Guantanamo after it is determined he isn't a terrorist.
The man is a true Christian, and heterosexual to the core.

Tom Toles says it all


Heaven protect us!

Because the Bushoviks, sure as hell, won't. In another example of their guiding principle that nothing is so important that it can not be turned into a profit center for their friends, we find the Navy indulging in deliberate waste, fraud and circumvention of the rules designed to prevent such from happening.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service embarked on a plan to shield U.S. ships around the world with rings of floating, rubberized barriers.

The investigative service is responsible for security and probing criminal wrongdoing, including fraud in Navy contracts. But auditors concluded that NCIS hired companies that did little or no significant work on the boat barriers yet collected millions of dollars in fees.

Invoices, e-mails and audit documents obtained by The Washington Post also show that the General Services Administration, the agency that awards and oversees federal contracts, allowed the Navy to sidestep federal procurement rules designed to ensure competition and protect taxpayers from abuse and fraud.

"Millions of taxpayer dollars went out the window, given to companies who did nothing in return," said Eugene L. Waszily, a former deputy GSA inspector general who reviewed spending under the boat-barrier contract. "This was particularly disturbing because it was a national security project."
All this and more led to this strange situation, "Eventually, NCIS investigated its own contract." And in an example of deeply the Bushoviks have worked into DC culture, the NCIS blamed the GSA for the problem.

Quote of the Day

“At heart, I am a fairly quiet girl, who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way,”
Monica Goodling, proving once again that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Surge fails to impress the opposition

And the details can be found courtesy of McClatchy reporter Scott Canon with contributions from Mohammed al Dulaimy on the scene.
A body suspected of being one of three missing American soldiers was pulled from the Euphrates River on Wednesday, and the U.S. military announced the deaths of two Marines and seven soldiers in separate attacks Tuesday, bringing to 80 the number of American service members who've died in Iraq so far this month.

Five Iraqi civilians were killed and 17 wounded in a morning gun battle just outside the walled-off Green Zone, the central Baghdad refuge for U.S. military headquarters and Iraqi government offices. Thirty unidentified corpses were found throughout the capital.

Outside Baghdad, a suicide bomber exploded at a bustling cafe in Mandali, a bustling town on the Iranian border, killing 22 people and wounding 13.

The mayhem comes as statistics that McClatchy Newspapers compiled suggest that the violence, which had dropped in the first weeks after the U.S. began adding troops to Baghdad, is creeping up again.

Statistics on the numbers of car bombs, roadside bombs, people wounded and people killed show that May is likely to be the bloodiest month so far this year. The number of anonymous bodies found on Baghdad's streets, victims of what U.S. officials call sectarian murders, is averaging 22.5 a day, up nearly 50 percent from April and March and equal to the rate in January, before the troop buildup began.
So more US troops are being killed and the number of Iraqis being killed is rising to pre Surge levels. Can someone think of a reason why we are still in Iraq other than George and Dick have an unquenchable thirst for the blood of others?

Splitsville for Wolfie and his cuddlebunny

And the NY Post has it here.

John Edwards gave a speech today

If you have any interest in policy, diplomatic and military, that makes sense and would actually help our country survive in a wild world, you should read it. You may not agree with everything, but it sure is nice to hear a candidate for president basing policy on something a little more substantial than Jack Bauer.

Some headlines from the NY Times

As Comrades Search, Fatal Bomb Wreaks Havoc
Iraqi Police Say Body in U.S. Uniform Is Found
Suicide Bomber Kills 15 East of Baghdad

So the question today is; How many of these will we see before we stop seeing this.
Democrats Pull Troop Deadline From Iraq Bill

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Dept of No-Shit-Sherlock.

From the AP, we get wind of the valiant efforts to discover the evil plans of al-Qaeda for their next attack. We learn of these efforts because of the valiant efforts of Our Dear Embattled Leader to make himself and his minions look heroic in front of his heroic speech to the graduates at the US Coast Guard Academy.
President Bush, trying to defend his war strategy, declassified intelligence Tuesday asserting that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist cell that would conduct attacks outside Iraq — and that the United States should be the top target.

The information mirrored a classified bulletin from the Homeland Security Department in March 2005, reporting that bin Laden had enlisted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his senior operative in Iraq, to plan potential strikes in the U.S. The warning was described at the time as credible but not specific and did not prompt the administration to raise its national terror alert level.

The declassification of the intelligence came a day before Bush was scheduled to speak about terrorism at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
The borders are leaky, the control of our ports was almost sold to the highest bidder and these graduates will have to wait until we get some cutters built that won't break apart on the open seas because their construction was overseen by ODEL's friends and contributors. So when all is said and done, I guess that these folks figured out that OBL and the boys wanted to attack the US should really be considered a miracle.

No Shit Sherlock!

Monday, May 21, 2007

What to make of this?

Instead of slowing down, worldwide carbon-dioxide levels have taken a sudden and alarming jump since the year 2000, an international team of scientists reported Monday...

...Instead of rising by 1.1 percent a year, as in the previous decade, emissions grew by an average of 3.1 percent a year from 2000 to 2004, the latest year for which global figures are available, the scientists reported in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences....

....The spurt in the CO2 emission rate is especially worrisome because it marks a reversal of a long-term trend toward greater energy efficiency and away from carbon-based fuels, the report's authors said.
It is just way too easy to blame Our Dear Embattled Leader and his evil Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney, but the timing is right. And you know they have been doing all that they can. But I think the rest of us have been altogether too eager to follow in their carbon footprints.

As the little old lady who pissed in the ocean said, "Every little bit counts".

Even sitting on the 3rd largest pool of oil

Doesn't make it any easier to get a tankful of gas in Iraq.
But from dawn to dusk two or three times a week they push the rusty vehicle up an incline, one slow car length at a time, to buy gasoline they can scarcely afford.

Their Sisyphean shove to the front of the line repeats itself throughout the week so Abu Mohammed can drive a gypsy cab around Baghdad.

If he makes $20 in a day ferrying his fellow Iraqis around the battered capital, $18 of that - 23,000 Iraqi dinars - will go for gasoline.
You would have to drive a separate Hummer for each foot while working at Wal-Mart to pay 90% of your income for gas.

Quote of the Day

It is hard not to see the fingerprints of Karl Rove.
The New York Times in its editorial "Why This Scandal Matters"

More on Karl Rove's 'Voter Fraud' Fraud

This one coming from McClatchy in which they examine the activities of one of TurdBlossom's more productive termites, Hans von Spakovsky.
During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.

Writing as "Publius," von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was "no evidence" that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.
It is going to take years, even decades to repair the damage done by the energetic evil minions.

Monday Music Blogging

The Corries



Like all versions of this song that I found, they left off the last verse which is as follows

When I awoke, twas but a dream, and peace a dirty word .
I tried to tell them of my dream, but not a word they heard .
And then it got me fighting mad, and I knew just what I'd do.
I'd fight nonviolently for peace, until my dream came true.


Seems to me that we should hear that more often.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Marine Capt. writes in support of gays in the military

And he does a pretty good job of it, too.
The common perception is that the “don't ask, don't tell” policy is necessary because straight service members will not be able to do their jobs properly if gay men and women are allowed to serve openly alongside them. Some people also say gay service members would not be able to control their homosexual urges. Proponents of this argument make it seem as if gay service members will immediately try to strike up romantic relationships with every man or woman within arm's reach.

Am I the only one who feels that, of all the arguments, this one is a little too chauvinistic? Or am I wrong to assume that no one, regardless of gender, could ever resist the allure of a man in a foxhole who hasn't showered in three days?

Why do we still cling to the as-yet unproven notion that if gay men and women are allowed to serve openly, unit cohesion and morale would suffer? This assertion is an insult to the professionalism of the U.S. military and an affront to our Constitution.
But the Corps being the Corps does what it does best. He has been relieved of duty and transferred to Okinawa. Capt. Josh Gibbs is taking this in stride as he seems to have already decided to leave the military.
“Honestly, my military career will be coming to an end shortly,” by choice, the nine-year Corps veteran said.

“I was told, we don’t comment on policy, that’s not our job. That’s what I want to do — I want to be somewhere where I can make change happen,” he said...

....This experience has also pushed him in a new direction, he said. “I’m standing up for what I think is right. I’m obviously not in the right place. If I want to make a change, I need to be someplace else.”
So everybody agrees, nothing to see here, let's move along.

As the old saying goes, "Eat Shit and Die!"

And that seems to be the guiding principle behind the standards, or lack thereof, for Chinese food processors. The WaPo has has a look at the problem and begins with a litany of rejected shipments.
Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.

Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.

Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.

Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught -- many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.
If you grow or raise all your own food, you won't be too upset at the rest of the article. If not, then consider this one point brought out in the article; just because a shipment was rejected once doesn't mean the Chinese exporters won't relabel it and try again.

George Bush calls for continued support of al-Qaeda

Our King George is not so mad as to come out and directly say so but consider what is already occurring because of his single minded devotion to attacking and then staying in Iraq.
In one of the most troubling trends, U.S. officials said that Al Qaeda's command base in Pakistan is increasingly being funded by cash coming out of Iraq, where the terrorist network's operatives are raising substantial sums from donations to the anti-American insurgency as well as kidnappings of wealthy Iraqis and other criminal activity.

The influx of money has bolstered Al Qaeda's leadership ranks at a time when the core command is regrouping and reasserting influence over its far-flung network. The trend also signals a reversal in the traditional flow of Al Qaeda funds, with the network's leadership surviving to a large extent on money coming in from its most profitable franchise, rather than distributing funds from headquarters to distant cells.

Al Qaeda's efforts were aided, intelligence officials said, by Pakistan's withdrawal in September of tens of thousands of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border where Bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, are believed to be hiding.

Little more than a year ago, Al Qaeda's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles.

"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," said a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official.
In four short years, Iraq has gone from being a country where there was no Al Qaeda, except in the US protected northern no-fly zone, to being a major cash cow for Osama as well as recruiting poster and training facility for new recruits. And let us not forget that they are also perfecting weapons and tactics for dealing with the US military. I doubt that even a gaggle of Hollywood screenwriters could have developed a better scenario for building and developing Osama's mob than Our Dear Befuddled Leader has done in his GWOT.

So let's see, he has given us death, destruction,huge debts, severe damage to our military (which he loves so much), great moral and actual support for terrorists while attacking the freedoms that he says Osama wants to destroy. And he wants to stay another two years at least to complete the job. Impeachment would be a blessing for our country.

Where has all the money gone?

Gone to Pakistan for "services rendered", sort of. It seems that we are paying about $1 Billion a year to reimburse our staunch ally for military activity against the Taliban & al-Qaeda in its territory. But there is one little fly in the ointment, Pakistan has ceased such operations and announced it was doing so 8 months ago. So why are we still paying.
Some American military officials in the region have recommended that the money be tied to Pakistan’s performance in pursuing Al Qaeda and keeping the Taliban from gaining a haven from which to attack the government of Afghanistan. American officials have been surprised by the speed at which both organizations have gained strength in the past year.

But Bush administration officials say no such plan is being considered, despite new evidence that the Pakistani military is often looking the other way when Taliban fighters retreat across the border into Pakistan, ignoring calls from American spotters to intercept them. There is also at least one American report that Pakistani security forces have fired in support of Taliban fighters attacking Afghan posts.

The administration, according to some current and former officials, is fearful of cutting off the cash or linking it to performance for fear of further destabilizing Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is facing the biggest challenges to his rule since he took power in 1999.
Well, who would have guessed that we had hitched our wagon to a spavined horse? But he is the only horse we have so we keep tieing ourselves closer to someone who isn't really doing anything to help himself.
A study of the roughly $10 billion sent to Pakistan by the United States since 2002, conducted by Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, found that $5.6 billion in reimbursements was in addition to $1.8 billion for security assistance, which mostly finances large weapons systems.

But those weapons are more useful, the authors concluded, in countering India than in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The United States has also provided about $1.6 billion for “budget support,” which Pakistan can use broadly, including for reducing debt.

In contrast, only about $900 million has been dedicated to health, food aid, democracy promotion and education, in a country where illiteracy rates are about 50 percent, and American policy makers say the education gap has opened the way for religious schools that can become hotbeds of extremism.
Sure looks like Our Dear Embattled Leader has found himself another way to breed terrists. And no doubt when the time comes for Musharraf to flee the country, he will have a well stocked retirement account somewhere.

Thieves welcome here.

The New York Times has a front page article on criminal telemarketers that prey on the elderly, sick and gullible using commercially available information. Calling people who are lonely, confused or just not aware, the get these folks to give them the information needed to loot their bank accounts.
Telemarketing fraud, once limited to small-time thieves, has become a global criminal enterprise preying upon millions of elderly and other Americans every year, authorities say. Vast databases of names and personal information, sold to thieves by large publicly traded companies, have put almost anyone within reach of fraudulent telemarketers. And major banks have made it possible for criminals to dip into victims’ accounts without their authorization, according to court records.

The banks and companies that sell such services often confront evidence that they are used for fraud, according to thousands of banking documents, court filings and e-mail messages reviewed by The New York Times.

Although some companies, including Wachovia, have made refunds to victims who have complained, neither that bank nor infoUSA stopped working with criminals even after executives were warned that they were aiding continuing crimes, according to government investigators. Instead, those companies collected millions of dollars in fees from scam artists. (Neither company has been formally accused of wrongdoing by the authorities.)
And the various corporate accomplices never will change their ways as long as the profits exceed the expense. Just one of the costs of business, like appearing to cooperate with the authorities. And the thieves know this very well.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Shades of Pancho & Black Jack

From the Army Times:
The Army’s top officer in southern Arizona on Friday ordered soldiers at Fort Huachuca not to travel into Mexico because of recent drug-related violence across the border.

Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, commander of the Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca, issued the order after a drug cartel assault force overran the town of Cananea on Wednesday.

The attackers killed seven people, including five police officers, before police and army troops hunted down and killed 16 of the assailants in ensuing mountain gun battles.
No wonder the locals want to come north.

UPDATE: As this LA Times article shows, it is pretty bad down there.

Sermon Optional




But don't forget the free will offering $10 minimum

The New York Times gets it.

From their editorial today comes this gem of wisdom.
Each time, we’re told Mr. Bush repays loyalty with loyalty. We’re told it’s a sign of character.

We don’t buy the explanation. The more persuasive answer is that Mr. Bush protects his embattled advisers because they are doing precisely what he told them to do.
You can read the whole thing if you don't get it yet.

From McClatchy in Iraq

First the news from their daily roundup of the days violence, we get more of the same.
-20 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 17 bodies were found in Karkh, the western part of Baghdad, in the following neighborhoods 5 bodies in Amil, 3 bodies in Ghazaliyah, 2 bodies in Saidiyah, 2 bodies in Hurriyah, 2 bodies in Bayaa, 1 body in Shoala, 1 body in Mahmoudiyah and 1 body in Sheikh Ma’aroof. 3 bodies were found in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad, in the following neighborhood (2 bodies in sadr city and 1 body in Ur neighborhood)

-A police source in Basra city said that police patrols found 15 bodies in different neighborhoods yesterday evening and today morning. The source said that torture was obvious on the bodies.

-15 civilians (Shiite Kurdish people) were killed when members from Qaida organization raided Hameed Shafi village (100 Kms north east Baqouba) around 6:30 am. Jawad kadhum al Bazzaz, the deputy of the local council head, said that the insurgents came to the village driving pickups disguised as Iraqi army members. According to Bazzaz, the insurgents claimed that they said they are going to search the village for weapons caches and when they isolated the men, they killed them.
There is more if you want to read it.

And on McClatchy's blog for its Iraqi employees there is an impassioned plea for the US to get out and let the Iraqis sort out their own solution. The english may not be perfect, though much better than Our Dear Leader, but the feeling is true.
we will have our own civil war and as we talk to people live with them, they are tired of war and their patriot feelings will unveil a bright future. And if not what worse could happen...

car bombs are killing civilians (on daily bases), in many times hundreds were killed. Mass kidnappings more than 100 employees were kidnapped from the governmental buildings. Terrorists and militias are rounding up tens of people from markets and central Baghdad, bridges are bombed, neighborhoods are cleansed (on sectarian bases). Tens of dead bodies are found every day in Baghdad and many cities.

Please someone answer me... Why the presence of foreign troops is necessary? Why? what can happen more? instead of 30 dead bodies found daily in Baghdad for the next 10 years if the troops didnt leave... after the pullout we will have 60 dead bodies a day for one year after the pullout...

...To all American families we are sorry for your loss and our deep sympathy with you. the American mothers lost more than 3000 son in Iraq but the Iraqi mothers lost about 600,000 people and this MUST STOP....

...we had enough, let our country go free. by staying; you are forcing people to join Al Qaeda and militias.
Too bad the writers does not realize that we cannot let Iraq just go free. They must buy our New Improved FREEDOMTM. How much oil you got to trade?

Another mess to clean up

Caused, as all those before, by a failed Republican ideology. This time it is Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss of the House Homeland Security Committee who is looking at and pushing for action on the US Coast Guard's Deepwater program.
"They stopped after ruining eight boats," said Taylor, a former Coast Guard reservist who commanded patrol boats. "What angers me is we have eight ruined boats, $100 million spent and no one is held accountable. No one has been demoted."

The 13-foot section added to lengthen the ships ended up causing the hull to buckle under the stress of rough waters. In addition, whistleblowers alerted congressional investigators that small search-and-rescue boats that the 123-foot vessel carried had radios that were not waterproof - a finding an incredulous Taylor said was "bizarre."
But despite all the evidence to the contrary, the corporations involved say they were right on target.
"Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, along with more than 600 suppliers from over 41 states and many best-of-breed manufacturers from around the world, form the industry team that is committed to supporting the Coast Guard's Deepwater program," Margaret Mitchell-Jones, ICGS communications director, said in a statement.

"ICGS and its suppliers are meeting the terms contracted by the Coast Guard. While costs and capabilities have expanded due to post 9/11 requirements, these are not cost overruns to the baseline contract, but rather reflect changes necessitated by new mission requirements." The program, she said, "has achieved significant progress."
Notice the language used. Either they think you are too stupid to realize what you are seeing and hearing or by saying "the industry team that is committed to supporting the Coast Guard's Deepwater program," and "The program, she said, "has achieved significant progress." they are admitting that the program was never designed to be a success in shipbuilding. Rather, it was intended to be another Republican designed Cost+Expense+Expense+Expense profit center for their selected "Friends of Bush".

Rosa Brooks considers the torture question.

Brit "Bitter Beer Face" Hume's Fox programming inspired question about torture at the Republican candidates debate, that is. Her conclusion, in a nutshell (no pun intended) is, 8 out of 10 Republican presidential candidates have forgotten what it means to be an American. If they ever knew in the first place.

Inspectors General are good

So long as they don't really inspect and, in general, look they other way. When they start to think they should perform according to their job description, then they become that most dangerous of creatures in DC, an embarrassment to Our Dear Embarrassing Leader.
STUART W. BOWEN JR.'S job is to investigate alleged waste, fraud and mismanagement of the U.S. tax dollars being used to rebuild Iraq. He's done that job so well that he is himself under investigation.

This is no surprise to me. Since assuming the post of special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction in 2004, Bowen has issued one damning report after another documenting the misuse of billions of dollars that should have been used to restore Iraq's economy and civil society. In doing so, he has embarrassed the Bush administration and its allies in Congress. Embarrassing them has proved to be something that an inspector general does only at his peril.
So rather than cure the problems uncovered, the Bushoviks mount a counter attack to obscure and possibly end any further embarrassment so their friends can loot and pillage in peace. Such is the integritude and honestality of the current Republican party. Until the IG's receive the greater protections called for by Mr Ervin, they will continue to work in a political combat zone at great risk.

Blair receives the traditional Iraqi greeting

As he makes his farewell tour to Baghdad, the Iraqis greeted him with four mortar rounds, three landing within the Green Zone. While not quite as impressive as the explosions that greeted Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney, the were somewhat closer to the honoree.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose premiership has been dominated by his unpopular decision to join the Iraq war, arrived here on a farewell visit Saturday, and three mortar shells or rockets slammed into the compound where he met with Iraq's leaders.

The attack on Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone wounded one person, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor. One round hit the British Embassy compound, security officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Most certainly a greater sign of respect than any from Our Dear Embattled Leader.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

“We’re now putting these people in danger that I never thought they’d be under because we cannot secure the country,
Sen. John McCain, bemoaning the sharp increase in contractor deaths in Iraq.

Too bad they can't all work in the Baghdad marketplace, right John?

Democrats decry another Bush failure to support the troops.

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to urge you to reconsider your objections to H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

Your office's recent Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 raised several concerns regarding this bipartisan legislation that the House of Representatives passed yesterday by an overwhelming 397-27 margin.

In particular, the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 objected to sections 601 and 606, which raises military pay 0.5% above your proposal, and Section 644, which provides an extra $40 per month for surviving spouses of fallen members of our armed services.

Mr. President, you have consistently called on Congress and the American people to support our troops. Considering the sacrifices that our military families make, the Democratic proposal to provide the troops with the pay raise they deserve and an increase in benefits for the spouses they may leave behind is one small way that we can support our troops.

When it comes to supporting our troops, our actions must match our words. Please join us in supporting our troops by reconsidering both your veto threat to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, and your objections to an increase in military pay and survivor benefits for the brave men and women serving our country in the armed forces.
Respectfully,

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker

Steny Hoyer
Majority leader

James Clyburn
Majority whip

Rahm Emanuel
Chair, Democratic Caucus

Ike Skelton
Chair, House Armed Services Committee

Ellen Tauscher
Chair, Strategic Forces Subcommittee

Steve Israel
Member of Congress

Even the WaPo is beginning to see the light

From the editorial page today where you can find an editorial that begins:
IT DOESN'T much matter whether President Bush was the one who phoned Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's hospital room before the Wednesday Night Ambush in 2004. It matters enormously, however, whether the president was willing to have his White House aides try to strong-arm the gravely ill attorney general into overruling the Justice Department's legal views. It matters enormously whether the president, once that mission failed, was willing nonetheless to proceed with a program whose legality had been called into question by the Justice Department. That is why Mr. Bush's response to questions about the program yesterday was so inadequate.
and ends with:
"And so we will put in place programs to protect the American people that honor the civil liberties of our people, and programs that we constantly brief to Congress," Mr. Bush assured the country yesterday, as he brushed off requests for a more detailed account. But this is exactly the point of contention. The administration, it appears from Mr. Comey's testimony, was willing to go forward, against legal advice, with a program that the Justice Department had concluded did not "honor the civil liberties of our people." Nor is it clear that Congress was adequately informed. The president would like to make this unpleasant controversy disappear behind the national security curtain. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Pretty tough stuff from an editorial page best known these days for licking boots. Is this the end of Rico?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Somebody is putting that New Improved Stupid in the water again.

And McClatchy has a report on the currently known results.
"There is absolutely no U.S. government plan for a NAFTA Superhighway of any sort," said David Bohigian, an assistant secretary of commerce. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., a powerful member of committees that would authorize and pay for a NAFTA Superhighway, if one were being planned, dismissed the notion as "unfounded theories" with "no credence."

And yet: A pending congressional resolution condemns it. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks darkly of "secret funding" for it. Nativist commentators fulminate against the four-football-field-wide behemoth as a threat to private property, national security and "a major lifeline of the plan to merge the United States into a North American Community," as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly wrote.

Responding to denials, Rep Virgil Goode, R-Va., the chief sponsor of the House of Representatives resolution opposing the NAFTA Superhighway, scoffed: "I've heard that line before. They're just calling it something else. ... It's a decrease in our security and an erasing of our borders."

Goode is hardly alone: His resolution has attracted 21 co-sponsors, from both parties....

.... Here's what Paul, a GOP presidential candidate, told a New Hampshire audience: "They already have a plan for a highway running from Mexico up to Canada, a 12-lane highway with trains running in the middle. It's going to be an international highway. And there's been some secret funding already into our budgets to start this program moving. There's going to be eminent domain powers used to confiscate tens of thousands of acres to build this."

Variations on the theme abound.

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan says it will be a 10-lane highway, not 12, but adds that it will include oil and gas pipelines.
Life was so much easier when they just put flouride in the water.

Our Dear Embattled Leader loves his troops

And his love is so nourishing that he is compelled to keep them from the temptations of Mammon.
In the veto threat against the National Defense Authorization Act, the White House says they're opposed to two things: Increased survivor benefits of $40 a month to spouses of those who lost someone in military service, and a pay increase to all personnel, across the board, just half a percent higher than what the president endorsed.
Then again maybe it's because when you are on the battleline, you don't need money and when you are dead you no longer work for the government. And if they don't like it, they can always sign up with Blackwater.

And may the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has resigned his post, effective June 30.
ABC News

According to the NY Times his departure is accompanied by one of the best corporate whoppers I have heard in a long time.
"He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution and we accept that," the board said in its announcement of his resignation.
So much for Paulie SmallNuts. Don't doubt that we will probably hear from him again, unfortunately.

Quote of the Day

The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp.
Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar in thw Washington Post today

The Wolfie Saga continues

Now he wants a graceful exit with no official blot upon his reputation. He is not at all bothered that his reputation in fact has more flies buzzing around it than Grandpas outhouse.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called Reverend.
Christopher Hitchens, eulogizing Jerry Falwell.

They will have to redefine success again

The latest report from the GAO on Iraq shows the "Surge" isn't doing too well.
Newly declassified data show that as additional American troops began streaming into Iraq in March and April, the number of attacks on civilians and security forces there stayed relatively steady or at most declined slightly, in the clearest indication yet that the troop increase could take months to have a widespread impact on security.

Even the suggestion of a slight decline could be misleading, since the figures are purely a measure of how many attacks have taken place, not the death toll of each one. American commanders have conceded that since the start of the troop increase, which the United States calls a “surge,” attacks in the form of car bombs with their high death tolls have risen.
Even with Tony Snow saying the Surge has just begun, it doesn't look good for the visiting team.

A sweet Forget-Me-Not

For the fox as he prepares to take up guarding the hen house.
A senior lobbyist at the National Association of Manufacturers nominated by President Bush to lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission will receive a $150,000 departing payment from the association when he takes his new government job, which involves enforcing consumer laws against members of the association.

The lobbyist, Michael E. Baroody, wrote recently to the commission’s general counsel that the severance was an “extraordinary payment” under a federal ethics rule, requiring him to remove himself from agency matters involving the association for two years. Under the rule, a payment is “extraordinary” if an employer grants it after learning that the employee is being considered for a government position and it is not part of an established compensation or benefits program.

Mr. Baroody said in the letter that the payment would not prevent him from considering matters involving individual companies that are members of the manufacturers’ association, many of whom are defendants in agency proceedings over defective products or have other business before the commission. Nor would it preclude him from involvement with smaller trade groups like those representing makers of home appliances and children’s products that have alliances with the association.

If Mr Baroody sees no conflict of interest after that lovely going away gift (where does one register for those?), it would seem that he sees no difference between the goals of the NAM and his new position. Quintessential Bushovism.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Congratulations to Gonzo

On the return of his memory. And just in time to stick it to his Deputy AG McNulty to celebrate his announced retirement. And he did it without the aid of the pharmaceutical industry or electroshock or waterboarding either. No wonder Our Dear Embattled Leader is going to keep him.

Jerry Falwell, M Y B I H

He wouldn't want to be with a bunch of Mormons anyway. (h/t to Trey & Matt)

Looks like Wolfie will pay for his nookie.

Which is not to say that he has never done so before. But how many times did he actually pick up the tab? Anyway, the World Bank committee looking into his particular corruptions has determined that, yes he did do it and, yes it was a violation of the rules. And they also determined that the full governing board should make the decision to fire Wolfies saggy, corrupt old ass, or not. Took them long enough.

UPDATE: The Guardian reveals that Wolfie knows how to say it as well as do it. According to one witness, he was heard to say, "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too." Sounds like he wanted a fun threesome.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ooops!

Sometimes even the best of intentions have bad results, as the good people of Ship Bottom, NJ discovered recently during efforts to rebuild the beach.
The Army Corps of Engineers said Monday that it has found and removed all the World War I-era military munitions possible to find on two Long Beach Island beaches, which could be opened to the public by the end of this week.

The material was dumped at sea by the military decades ago, where it sat until it was sucked off the ocean floor and shot through a dredge pipe up onto the sand as part of a beach replenishment project over the winter.
They did use the best high tech available to find everything they could but just to be on the safe side.
As an added precaution, the Corps will ask local governments to prohibit digging deeper than 12 inches on the beach, and to ban the use of metal detectors this summer in those two communities.
What they need is a good shark scare to take their minds off this.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Monday Music Blogging



Offered in hopes that Our Dear Embattled Leader may someday find his way.

Happy Mothers Day, Georgie

As the nation marks what you like to call the "holiday" of Mothers Day, did you give any thought to the mothers of the 5 soldiers killed in the ambush yesterday? Did you think of the mothers of the 3 missing soldiers? Or the mothers of their children? Their mothers and those of the 3300+ who preceded them, can you console them with the knowledge that anyone who died for your benefit didn't die in vain? Can you restore the joy of their lives to them? Maybe you could ask your BFF Jesus to do you a favor. Wouldn't that be a wonderful Mothers Day gift? Did you even think of your own mother? No, I didn't think so. But hey, I have an idea that should work gangbusters for you. Why don't you bring Mothers Day to Iraq? It would mean so much more to them than dumb old democracy and the world would see what a wonderful guy you really are. Then you could fill your favored newspuppies with good stories instead of stuff like this.
Every day, dozens of families line up at the [National Iraqi Assistance Center where families search US records for missing relatives], a collection of slate-gray trailers inside a fortified blast wall. They clutch the photographs and identification papers of their loved ones. There's a quiet solidarity among these broken families.

Kereem watched once as security guards turned away a frail woman in her 60s from entering the center, apparently for not having the proper identification. The woman, who was holding a cheap homemade sack, broke down in tears as she told the guards she was looking for her son.

Kereem asked for the son's papers so that she could look for him in the system. The guards wouldn't allow it - only immediate family members can search the records, they said - and the woman was left outside in the sun, alone.

Toledo Blade has the latest explanation


From the notorious Republican congressmoop from Tiffin or Dublin Ohio, Paul Gillmor. Mr Gillmor, whose house in another Congressional district is pictured above, does not actually own the house. According to a letter to the Toledo Blade two weeks ago,
Mr. Gillmor wrote that the Columbus-based law firm and lobbyist Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease has the property for him in a trust, a vehicle that ensures moneyed public officials a degree of privacy from public disclosures.

All congressmen must notify the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct before transferring assets into a trust.

The House Legislative Resource Center contains no record of notification by Mr. Gillmor. And the past 10 years of financial disclosures by the Republican congressman indicate that no such trust exists.
Now, after proper consultation with his attorney, his spokesman has a new explanation.
His spokesman, Mr. Mascho, said Friday that a trustlike entity that is “not a trust” controls the house, so there is no need to provide notification to Congress.

“The congressman’s house was never placed in trust,” reads a statement released Friday by Mr. Gillmor’s office. “There was simply no reason to create an independent trust as it would have served no purpose and would only have added expense and delay.”

Residencies are exempt from financial disclosure, but in Mr. Gillmor’s earlier letter he wrote that his property holdings “are only real estate investments.”

“Gillmor’s response raises an issue of whether the property is properly characterized as an investment, in which event it would have to be disclosed in his financial disclosure statements,” said Karl Sandstrom, a Washington lawyer who specializes in congressional ethics.
At least we think it was an attorney, he could have been a shovel salesman. And another thing, why doesn't he want to live amongst his loyal peasants?

Jordanian newspapers have a different perspective

Of what is happening in Iraq. Juan Cole has posted a digest of Jordanian newspaper articles about the latest Middle East trip of evil Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney. It is obvious that they have not received the latest set of talking points about Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions.
"Cheney is in the region on a salvation mission because he knows that the anger against the US policies in Iraq primarily is against him for he was behind the decision to go to war, he was the one to lead his country into failure, and he was the one who has shown more arrogance and vanity than he has shown wisdom and political acumen. The result was this unending deterioration in Iraq."
And
"The neighbor countries, with the exception of a few countries that have their own designs and interests, are eager to establish stability in Iraq. They realize that the perpetuation of the conflict there will endanger them and destabilize them. This is why they want a genuine tackling of the Iraqi crisis that will save Iraq from the chaos that is killing people and not a plastic surgery operation with which Cheney wants to embellish the ugly picture that his policies and decisions have created."
Can't you just hear the howls of fraudulent outrage from the likes of the Loofah King and Rush The Reusable Colostomy Bag if the NY Times or WaPo printed something like that? It must be nice to have a free press.

Ezra Klein supports a working government

Something that has been disappearing since the ascendency of neo-conmen, Grover Norquisling and other modern day anarchists. With the acceleration of this process by Our Dear Embattled Leader and his greedy minions, his theses become even more important.
If Congress must constantly approve high-profile emergency expenditures that funnel hundreds of billions of dollars toward Iraq, and states cannot pick up the slack, there will have to be cuts in funding for police and schools and jails and Pell Grants and the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs and the nation's infrastructure and all the rest. So is it any surprise that law enforcement is extending a beggar's cup to Philip Morris, public colleges are becoming less affordable and UC law schools are shilling for corporate dollars? And that it's all happening even as the globalizing economy demands ever higher skills, as ill and traumatized Iraq war veterans are going without care, as roads and schools are crumbling and myriad other minor catastrophes are underway beneath the notice of the national media but well within the range where they harm ordinary Americans.

Such unhappy outcomes are not merely morally unsettling, they're often economically inefficient. Government spending can be more than necessary, it can be desirable. It can step in, for instance, when the market fails to deliver public goods that society desires but private entities haven't figured out how to fund. (It's useful having a national military, right?) And it can use its regulatory power to ensure that competition works to increase well-being rather than to simply amp up industry profits.
Norquisling style anarchy just doesn't work when you need to build a bridge or construct a school, but without the school and the bridge you know nothing and get nowhere.

To leave your homeland

Is a difficult task at the best of times. When you live in Iraq the task is much worse. The LA Times provides a look at the path of one family and their travails is getting passports to leave the only country they have know.
Foreign travel was never easy for Iraqis during the 34-year rule of Saddam Hussein, who barred most people from leaving the country. Restrictions loosened after his April 2003 ouster, and in July 2004 the new Iraqi government began issuing so-called S-series passports to millions of people clamoring to travel for the first time.

Now the noose has tightened again.

The United States announced in January that it would no longer accept the hastily crafted S passports, with their pasted-on photographs and handwritten information. Instead, all Iraqis coming to the United States must show G-series passports, which were introduced by the Iraqi government about a year ago and meet international anti-forgery and other security standards. European and most Middle Eastern countries have done the same.

The rule affects Iraqis already outside the country as well as those still here, and it comes at the worst possible time for them. An estimated 2 million people have fled Iraq to escape its violence, and millions more desperately want to as the mayhem increases and health, education and other services deteriorate.

The government cannot keep up with demand for the new passports, leaving would-be travelers facing a wretched choice: Pay hundreds of dollars — even thousands, depending on family size — to unofficial middlemen to speed up the process, or go the official route and end up like Allawchi, who ending up waiting 70 days — nearly twice as long as the process is supposed to take — to get his passport.
And this is just the first step, now they have to get out and find a country that will take them. And they live with the knowledge that they are not safe until they are wherever there is.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The format is familiar

To anyone who has a local small market paper, this may look like a rundown of last weeks activity involving the local police dept. This is one day in Iraq.
Baghdad

- Around 8 a.m., a suicide truck (Hino) driver led his car near a petrol station at Al-Meda'en, but the police commandos of the checkpoint in the neighborhood exploded the truck with the suicide driver inside who was killed at the explosion . No casualties recorded.

- Around 9 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded at Amiriya neighborhood targeting civilians. Among the injured civilians was Iraqi vice president Tariq al Hashimi's son.

- Around 11 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded without any casualties when an American patrol passed by the commercial street in Saidiya neighborhood.

- Around 12 p.m., a roadside bomb exploded in Baladiyat neighborhood when an American patrol passed in the area. No casualties were recorded.

- Around 5:00 p.m., a roadside bomb detonated in Abu Ghraib targeting an Iraqi army convoy. One Iraqi soldier was injured.

- Around 4:30 p.m., two mortar shells landed in the Green Zone, causing unknown causalities.

- Around 5 p.m. gunmen raided citizen Qassim Sweedan's house in the Latifia area and bombed it. There were no casualties.

- Around 5 p.m., gunmen opened fire on civilians in Aadhamiya, killing two and injuring one.

- Around 5 p.m., a mortar shell landed in al Madaen, injuring one resident.

- Police found 17 dead bodies throughout the capital today. Four in Baia, four in Amil, one in Saidiyah, one in Mahmoudiya, two in Hurriya, two in Khadra, one in Aadhamiya, two in Doura.

Salahuddin

- Early in the morning, gunmen bombed the house of Asad's Ali brother after forcing the family to evacuate the house in Hay al-Sikak in south Samara (north of Baghdad). Asad Ali is the chairman of Samara municipality.

Diyala

- A roadside bomb exploded in al Saadiyah town of Khaniqeen. The blast killed two women, and two civilians were injured.

- A roadside bomb exploded near a civilian car in al Muqdadiyah city, al Wajihiya town, killing two civilians and injuring three.

- Police men clashed with gunmen in central Baqouba today when the gunmen tried to kidnap a citizen. Two gunmen were killed and one was detained.

- Police found one dead body in Baqouba city.

- Health officials in Baqouba hospital said the hospital received one injured man. His injuries were caused by an attack by gunmen in the suburbs of the city.

Basra

- At dawn, a roadside bomb exploded when a British vehicle passed through Timimiya neighborhood (near Ashar) in downtown Basra (in southern Iraq ) causing some damage to the vehicle but no casualties.

- A British patrol recently found a trench filled with ammunition north of Zubair (35 km west of Basra ) including 20 mortar shells, 30 artillery shells and two grenades.
I guess that for the folks over there, this is normal nowadays.

A fount of compassion

Radio talk show host “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger is tired of all the complaints she hears from military wives who say they’re lonely and overwhelmed.

“You’re not dodging bullets, so I don’t want to hear any whining — that’s my message to them,” said Schlessinger
In fairness to the douchebag, her son is deployed to Iraq and she doesn't whine, which may be an indicator of how much she cares about him.

A message from John Edwards

An opportunity to truly support our country and our troops.




SupportTheTroopsEndTheWar.com.

The temptation is great

To use some sort of headline using "The Foggo of Corruption" to write about the new indictments of Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and his BFF and apparent partner in crime, Brent Wilkes. It is with great restraint that I let the story speak for itself.
According to the new indictment, Foggo provided Wilkes with "sensitive, internal information related to our national security," including classified information, to help him prepare proposals for providing undercover flights for the CIA under the guise of a civil aviation company and armored vehicles for agency operations. Foggo allegedly then pushed his CIA colleagues to hire Wilkes' companies without disclosing their longstanding friendship.

In a June 2005 e-mail to the head of CIA air operations quoted in the indictment, Foggo offered to "use some 'EXDIR grease'" on Wilkes' behalf - apparently a reference to his title as the agency's executive director.

Prosecutors say that in return, Wilkes offered to hire Foggo after he retired from government service. In the meantime, he allegedly treated his friend to a Scottish golf trip during which they racked up a $44,000 hotel bill at the luxurious Pitcastle Estate.
It is looking like TurdBlossom got Carol Lam fired a little too late.

What hath God wrought?

In the case of Monica Goodling, He seems to hath wrought a real badling. The NY Times reveals more details in the career of this righteous Republican.
“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.”

Ms. Ashton’s ouster — she left the Executive Office for United States Attorneys for another Justice Department post two weeks later — was a critical early step in a plan that would later culminate in the ouster of nine United States attorneys last year.

Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?”

Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.

And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
No blowjobs for this Monica, she was there to give Justice a good fucking.

What does Raytheon have that the troops in Iraq don't?

A beautifully expensive defensive system to combat rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and even more deadly anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Just because it is well behind in development compared to existing technologies is no cause for concern to the Pentagon. MSNBC has the details of this story of defense corporate welfare putting profits before the lives of American troops. One of their methods was the use of the proven Cheney system of selection as described by Lisa Myers.
But that’s not exactly what happened. In May 2006, a technical team was put together and, in the span of three days, evaluated Trophy, Raytheon’s own system — called Quick Kill — as well as five other Active Protection Systems. We asked Kotchman about the team’s composition:

Lisa Myers: Do you know how many of the 21-person technical team worked for Raytheon?

Kotchman: To the best of my knowledge, none.

Army documents obtained by NBC News, however, show that nine of the 21 technical experts — as well as all the administrative personnel — were from Raytheon.

Despite a mandate to present the Army with a solution incorporating the best elements of other systems, the selection team concluded that of the seven APS considered, Raytheon’s own Quick Kill was “the clear winner” and “scored highest in the trade study in all categories except risk.”

Myers: It appears as though Raytheon was allowed to select itself.

Kotchman: I don’t know that to be a fact, and so I really can't comment on it.
Notice the brilliant use of the Gonzo defense when questioned. But when Congress required a truly impartial look at the various technologies, a different story emerged.
To carry out this work, the Office of the Secretary of Defense picked the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a respected federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) which the Pentagon frequently calls upon for scientific and technical expertise.

Over the course of four months, IDA analyzed classified and unclassified data on 15 different APS, including Trophy and Quick Kill. The team also met with the U.S. Army as well as the Navy, Marine Corps, Office of Force Transformation (OFT), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), elements of the Intelligence Community (IC), and the government of Israel.

Their mandate, as set forth by Congress, was to find the most promising short- and long-term solutions to the scourge of PRGs and ATGMs.

IDA’s draft report, obtained exclusively by NBC News, found Trophy "the most mature" APS, one "with significant demonstrated capabilities against several types of threats."

“They rated Trophy the farthest along, the top system of the 15 that they looked at,” said Phil Coyle, the longtime Pentagon tester, who reviewed the IDA report for NBC News.

By contrast, IDA found Raytheon’s Quick Kill to be relatively immature and fraught with significant development risks. Important components like the radar, which is supposed to track and identify incoming threats, are not yet fully developed and testing of the system as a whole is on hold while the warhead — needed to intercept and destroy threats — is redesigned.
Pentagon procurement has long been a dicey process when it comes to both honesty and utility, but you have to wonder how those involved could be so willing to sacrifice US troops for up to 5 years or longer if it doesn't work, for some as yet unknown reward.

When you have no meters in place

There is no way to meter the flow of, oh let's just say for example, crude oil. That situation will give rise to a report suggesting a shortfall of 100,000 to 300,00 barrels per day between the amounts produced and the amounts accounted for.
Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.

Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy was valued at $5 million to $15 million daily.

The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly two million barrels pumped by Iraq each day, but the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents and corrupt officials control significant parts of the country’s oil industry.
Four years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq by a bunch of Texican oilmen, and they are just now getting around to metering the flow at the wellheads and terminals. Obviously this is the work of all those bad guys over there.
As sizable as a discrepancy of as much as 300,000 barrels a day would be in most parts of the world, some analysts said it could be expected in a country with such a long, ingrained history of corruption.
Needless to say, Halliburton would fit nicely into this environment.

The Holy Grail of the Bushoviks

Vacation. You didn't think it was anything important, did you? And not just for the big fish, even a second banana like Bradley Schlozman considers his time off more important than Congress. You can read his letter to Sen. Leahy here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

From Pass the Ammunition to Praise the Lord.

An officer who began his career as a field artilleryman has been nominated for promotion to major general and assignment as the chief of chaplains.

The position of chief of chaplains is designated in law. Officers normally serve in the post for four years, just as with other statutory positions.
I am glad the skypilots have someone to watch over them. Still, it is too bad he is not a real Baptist.

Quote of the Day

Gonzales: "Contrary to being gun shy, this process is somewhat liberating in terms of going forward."

In some ways I can see it. Gonzales's big secret -- that he really has no idea what's going on around him -- is now out in the open, and he's still the attorney general!
Froomkin

And on Capitol Hill yesterday...


BINGO!

From the pen of Tom Toles


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Look Georgie! It's Democracy in action!

And it is happening in Baghdad, Iraq, where a majority of the parliament has signed on to a bill calling for an end to foreign troop buildups and a timetable to get them out.
The bill would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from parliament before it requests an extension of the U.N. mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq, al-Rubaie said. It also calls for a timetable for the troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of the foreign forces.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in November to extend the mandate of the U.S.-led forces until the end of 2007. The resolution, however, said the council "will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the government of Iraq."
That seems pretty clear. Like all democracies, this might take a while to consummate but there is no denying the intent of this action. Your move, Georgie.

Today is Thursday May 10

And Attorney General Gonzo is returning to the Senate to repeat, literally, his previous boffo performance. Check out the coverage at Firedoglake.

In the White House, Our Dear Embattled Leader promises to veto anything from Congress that is not 100% to his liking, as expected.

Now that's loyalty

In a remarkable show of party loyalty, 11 moderate(??) Republicans in a meeting with Our Dear Embattled Leader, TurdBlossom and various other minions, have offered themselves up for a primary challenge in the next election. Ostensibly the meeting was to show their displeasure with Dear Leader's policies (who could ever do such a thing?) but in fact they were merely providing some cover for ODEL as they gave Mr. Blossom an opportunity to find proper replacements for them in 2008. Unfortunately Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney was not able to attend.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Some not so bad news

It would appear that the amorphous group known as "They" were not able to sell their plan for $4 gasoline, this year.
If there's a bright spot in the gloomy price outlook, it's that the EIA discounted the potential for $4-a-gallon gasoline.

"Although many oil market analysts have talked about the potential for retail gasoline prices reaching $4 per gallon this summer, EIA does not expect the U.S. average price to get anywhere close to that level as long as the oil infrastructure remains largely unaffected this summer," the agency said.
Sure, there is still some hope, if something appropriately disastrous happens. But until then "They" will have to eke out what profit we can from $3+ gasoline.

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