Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A closer look at arming the Sunnis

Abu Haider, as he called himself, and about 80 other mostly Sunni residents — some of them former members of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a fiercely nationalistic insurgent group — had arrived to register as security volunteers. An American soldier photographed and cataloged the recruits. The result: a neighborhood watch program with ammo.
Sure they will work with us to get rid of another enemy, and be right friendly doing it, but in the end the US Army can not forget who these people are and where they came from because they haven't forgotten.
Once he's finished rousting al Qaida from Baqouba, Abu Haider indicated, he and others will go back to fighting American troops. "Our aims," he said, "are to get the occupation forces out."
And consider this bit of history from Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University and the author of "The New American Militarism — How Americans Are Seduced by War.".
The closest historical analogue, he said, is America's tactical partnership with the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s.

"The deal paid great dividends in the short run until the mujahedeen, in the form of Osama bin Laden's al Qaida, turned against us," he said. "I expect the same thing will happen in Iraq."

George says al-Qaeda, the military says Shiite militias

And I say, with apologies to Cole Porter, if they can't agree, let's call the whole thing off.
Despite President Bush's recent insistence that al Qaida in Iraq is the principal cause of this country's violence, senior American military officers here say Shiite Muslim militias are a bigger problem, and one that will persist even if al Qaida is defeated.

"The longer-term threat to Iraq is potentially the Shiite militias," one senior military officer said, echoing concerns that other American officials raised in recent interviews with McClatchy Newspapers.

Military officers hail the fact that violence is down as evidence that their campaign against al Qaida in Iraq is succeeding. But there's no sign of reconciliation between Sunni Muslims and Shiites, the rationale the Bush administration cites for increasing the number of U.S. troops in the country.
The first big mistake was thinking any rationale from the Bushoviks was rational. And from there the other mistakes lead to our current quagmire. And if you don't believe me, note how far apart the Bushovik thinking is from the position of the professionals on the ground in Iraq.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Headline of the Day

Stiff picked to run IRS
What appears to be an editorial comment on Bushovik hiring practices turns out to be her actual last name.

Why we need federal universal health insurance.

The judge overseeing a lawsuit against UnitedHealth extended his order barring former CEO William McGuire from exercising stock options, but he did allow the company to pay McGuire up to $3 million from an executive savings plan.

McGuire held stock options valued at $1.78 billion at the end of 2005, although that value has been hurt by a drop in the company's share price and repricing from the backdating controversy.
There is not a CEO on God's Green Earth that is worth that much money. And it all comes out of the premiums.

Maybe Gonzo can give them lessons

From the Marine Corps Times:
Pentagon and State Department officials will be under the gun on July 31 to explain the estimated $12 billion-a-month cost of continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House Budget Committee hearing on the cost of military operations and reconstruction costs comes after the Congressional Research Service, a bipartisan analytical arm of Congress, reports the that Congress has provided $610 billion already for the two operations and related costs for fighting terrorism, and will be spending an additional $147 billion in fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.
Everybody knows what it buys. It buys about 100 dead US troops each month, a couple of thousand dead Iraqis and a large number of well armed groups practicing their Civil War skills.

Susie Madrak sure can find neat things!

And I always end up following her lead.


You Are The Empress

You represent the ideal female figure: beauty and nurturing.
You bring security and harmony to many.
At times, you are also a very sensual person.
You are characterized by love, pleasure, and desire.

Your fortune:

You need to take some time to think about the role of commitment in your life.
It's possible you need to commit more to others, or deal with how others have treated you.
It is very important for you to support your friends and family right now, difficult as it may be.
You may need to look at your relationship with your mother, or your relationships as a mother.
What Tarot Card Are You?

This seems to piss off Bloviating Bill O'really

So I would be dreadfully remiss in not posting it.


Why wait until September?

When your boss has let you know what he wants you to say, it would be foolish to reach any other conclusion. That was made clear by the Surge On General Petraeus, speaking with ABC news.
U.S. generals expect to need a large contingent of troops in Iraq until the middle of 2009, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on Monday.

Such a timeline would hand President George W. Bush's successor the task of bringing U.S. forces home from Iraq, more than six years after Bush dispatched them to topple Saddam Hussein.
And it would seem that Our Dear Embattled Leader has also charmed PM Gordon Brown. I am afraid that it is still to early to retire your Friedman Units.

Quote of the Day

There are arguments you can make against programs, like Social Security, that provide a safety net for adults. I can respect those arguments, even though I disagree. But denying basic health care to children whose parents lack the means to pay for it, simply because you’re afraid that success in insuring children might put big government in a good light, is just morally wrong.
Paul Krugman, NYT 7/30/07

Monday Music Blogging

This weeks selection goes out to the 25% that still believe.



R.I.P. Ingmar Bergman

Ah, Ingmar, we hardly understood ye.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Prosthetics, the new growth industry

In Iraq, one of the many new areas for growth is the replacement devices for amputees. All wars destroy limbs but the frequent use of bombs, whether car or aerial, has result in a higher percentage of lost limbs, with legs comprising the largest number.
'Eighty per cent of the injuries that we see here are to the extremities,' says Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Mosley, an orthopaedic surgeon at the military hospital in Mosul that treats US soldiers, Iraqi civilians and members of the Iraqi security forces, and runs a clinic for recent Iraqi amputees. 'We see a lot of open long bone injuries or vascular injuries that require amputation. We do a lot of amputations below the knee. It is difficult to know how many amputees there are in Iraq, but I would say it is probably the number one operation performed.'
US casualties have access to the latest treatments of such wounds and the latest advances in prostheses. While the Iraqis have not yet been condemned to whittling out the crook in a tree, the available resources don't come close to that of the US military. Rest assured that if peace ever comes to this benighted country, they may soon lead the world in prosthetic advances.

Setting off on a fool's errand

McClatchy has posted a good overview of the situation facing Gates and Rice as they embark on their Middle East tour. Thanks to six years of consistent application and failure of neocon policy, the outlook is pretty poor.
But America's credibility in the region has plummeted. The U.S. has failed to stabilize Iraq, destroy al Qaida, pacify Lebanon, isolate Syria or bolster moderate Palestinians. Instead, its policies have fueled Sunni Muslim extremism and emboldened Shiite Iran, which America's moderate Arab allies consider the two greatest threats to their rule.

So far, its support for Israel's ill-fated war in Lebanon and its efforts to undermine popular radical groups such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon have borne little fruit. Along with its support for autocrats such as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, such actions have undercut American claims that it's championing Muslim democracy.
Add to that the usual hesitancy in dealing with short timers and things get even bleaker. One point does stick out in explaining the reluctance of the Middle East states to join in with US "efforts".
More than what Rice and Gates say on the trip, “people are monitoring the debate in Washington. Everybody is watching that very closely and then will draw their own conclusions,” an Arab official in Washington said.
The Arab world is watching to see if, while Gates and Rice are on the road, Dickwahd will whisper some poison in the Boy King's ear and cut them off at the knees. No one is willing to commit to something that could disappear tomorrow. But still they have to go on their quixotic journey because their work has to be done on the road and Dickwahd does his "best' work at home.

Walter Mondale slams the president

President Dickwahd, that is, not Little Boy George. And he has put his position into writing in the WaPo today. What he says has been covered before throughout the blogiverse, but he gives it context from his experience. And it is never wrong to repeat the truth.
The corollary to Cheney's zealous embrace of secrecy is his near total aversion to the notion of accountability. I've never seen a former member of the House of Representatives demonstrate such contempt for Congress -- even when it was controlled by his own party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every congressional request for information has been stupefying -- it's almost as if he denies the legitimacy of an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held accountable by the people who elected him.

Whatever authority a vice president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow, not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush -- including, apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio -- but he also pursues his own agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.
Sadly, he does not answer his question. Who besides Our Dear Embattled Leader can? And wouldn't that answer reveal far too much for this misadministration to survive. Maybe that is why they are so secretive.

Congratulations to the Iraqi winners of the Asian Cup

"Those heroes have shown the real Iraq. They have done something useful for the people as opposed to the politicians and lawmakers who are stealing or killing each other," said Sabah Shaiyal, a 43-year-old policeman in Baghdad. "The players have made us proud, not the greedy politicians. Once again, our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq."

The Iraqi team, known as the "Lions of the Two Rivers" beat three-time champions Saudi Arabia 1-0 in its first appearance in the Asian Cup final.

The jubilation over the victorious run of the team has given Iraqis a rare respite from the daily sectarian attacks, with men of all ages cheering and dancing in the streets after each win.
A wonderful moment in such troubled times.

Tom Paxton strikes again

Long ago, during another one of our countries wars, Tom Paxton was a folk singer. He wrote and sang lovely ditties as well as political tunes. Who from that era could ever forget the "Talking VietNam Potluck Blues". Tom is still writing and singing and has written a song to commorate the surge. With a chorus like this,
Chorus:
Hey! George W. told the nation,
"This is not an escalation;
This is just a surge toward victory.
Just to win my little war,
I'm sending 20,000 more,
To help me save Iraq from Iraqis.
you can go here to hear it all.

Ben Stein has a conscience

Actually he probably had one all along, which makes you wonder why he is a Republican. Old school, I guess. Whatever the reason, he is right on track with this weeks column in the NY Times.
Now, let’s think about what’s going on in America right now. We are in a war. We are apparently not winning the war. The military is desperately shy of funds, to the point where our fighting men and women are being shortchanged in training and equipment.

We also need more money for our soldiers’ pay, so their families do not have to live like church mice while their spouses are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. In these circumstances, is it fitting and morally right for the richest of the rich to be paying either very low taxes or no tax at all?

Is it right or even admissible in the human conscience that while teachers, emergency room technicians, police and firefighters are taxed at full earned-income rates — and often underpaid — that the highest-earning people in this country should pay at either very low tax rates or none at all?

Or, put it like this: do we dare send our men and women to fight for an America in which the very rich are so favored by the government that it amounts almost to an aristocracy?
And surprisingly, he carries it forward to a remarkably radical and sound idea.
Why don’t we just have a tax holiday for people who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years after they get back? This would be the tax code addressing real shortages, not an imaginary shortage of money mania (oops, I mean “entrepreneurship”).

Let’s keep it real: Congress can take notice of a mammoth inequity in taxation during wartime and make the tax on private equity and hedge funds approximate the treatment of other highly paid people — or it can continue down the road to the Bastille.
Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Quote of the Day

Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.
New York Times editorial

Saturday, July 28, 2007

How many Bodies In Baghdad this week?

Tues July 24:
Police found 18 dead bodies today. 3 in Doura, 4 in Bayaa, 1 in Qadisiyah, 1 Ameriya, 2 in Hurriyah, 3 in Amil, 3 in Sleikh, 1 in Kadhemiya.
Wed July 25:
18 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 15 bodies were found in Karkh, the western side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods ( 5 bodies in Bayaa, 3 bodies in Amil, 3 bodies in Saidiyah, 2 bodies in Shoala and 2 bodies in Elam). 3 bodies were found in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (2 bodies in Sleikh and 1 body in Amin)
Thurs. July 26:
Police found 20 dead bodies thorough(sic) Baghdad.
Fri. July 27:
Police found 7 dead bodies throughout Baghdad. 1 in Sleikh, 1 in Mashtal, 2 in Amil, 1 in Saidiyah, 2 in Bayaa.
Sat. July 28:
Police found 20 dead bodies in Baghdad today in the following neighborhoods : 17 ( seventeen bodies in west Baghdad ( Karkh bank) ; 3 in Kadhimiya , 3 in Amil , 2 in Bayaa , 2 in Shulaa , 2 in Ghazaliya , 1 in Qadisiya , 1 in Doura , 1 in Amiriya , 1 in Risala and 1 in Huriyaa . While 3 bodies were found in east Baghdad ( Risafa bank) ; 2 in Zafaraniya and 1 in Shaab
Total for 5 days = 83

Just like in this country, not much gets done on Fridays.

Marketing - It's not just for Republicans anymore

According to this report from McClatchy, other terrorists are now waking to its advantages.
Think: "Safe, clean and green."

One month after seizing the Gaza Strip in a military rout that shattered brittle Palestinian unity, Hamas is embarking on a radical marketing campaign to promote what it calls "the new face of Gaza."

They call it the "Gaza Riviera."

Lime-green Hamas banners flutter over Gaza City with a message in English for aid workers and journalists worried about being kidnapped: "No more threat for our foreign visitors and guests."

Bearded gunmen in blue-gray camouflage uniforms who helped seize control of Gaza now rush to settle routine neighborhood squabbles and family disputes.

Once-deserted Mediterranean beaches are now filled with dozens of families holding picnics to escape the summer heat until long after midnight.

On Monday, Hamas is planning to take journalists on a special tour of the Gaza Strip, from the packed beaches to the bullet-scarred security compounds its Islamist fighters overran last month when they ousted Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Their efforts are still amateurish, but who could object to a banner that reads "No more threat for our foreign visitors and guests." Rebranding has to start somewhere. No one expects Hamas to change overnight, but image control sure did work for Our Dear Embattled Leader.

The mind of your president.

The way it works is absolutely amazing. Sort of makes the Mind of Mencia seem the equal of Plato.
What he says is that a big increase would be the "beginning of the salvo of the encroachment of the federal government on the health care system."

Huh?

This is the president whose proudest domestic achievement was extending Medicare to cover prescription drugs, one of the biggest "encroachments of the federal government on the health care system" in American history. Honestly, it is mind-boggling that the president could say this.

And I might add that this is the president who engineered the largest federal invasion of public education in history.

But it gets worse. It also gets a little complicated, so stick with me for a second.

House Democrats want to fund an increase for SCHIP by reducing the federal subsidy for a program called Medicare Advantage that pays tax dollars to HMOs to give health insurance to seniors. It's an alternative to Medicare. The idea behind Medicare Advantage was that since large private bureaucracies are so much smarter than large public bureaucracies, it would be cheaper to pay HMOs to cover some seniors than doing it through Medicare.

Wrong.

The government now pays HMOs between 112 and 119 percent of what it costs to cover a person on Medicare. So if it costs the government $100 to cover Sadie Sickly of Illness, Ohio, the government will pay Selfless HMO Inc. $119 to take Mrs. Sickly off their hands. Selfless HMO Inc. – and lots of real life HMOs – make a boatload of money off Medicare Advantage because of this government subsidy.

The Congressional Budget Office thinks that 119 percent subsidy could be cut, and HMOs would still make money and patients would still get good services. So House Democrats want to reduce the government subsidy for HMOs to help pay for an increase in SCHIP funding. Pretty straightforward.

HMOs – surprise, surprise – do not want that Medicare Advantage subsidy to be cut. Neither does President Bush. He thinks the free market is so cool that it should be subsidized by the government.

You see, he doesn't want the government encroaching on the health care system, so he's going take your tax dollars and give them to HMOs so they can encroach on the health care system.
And if he could speak a complete sentence, who could doubt that his reasoning would be as convoluted as a plate of spaghetti, but the tomato sauce would give the spaghetti a higher IQ.

The Road to a Successful Surge

Looks like it has more potholes than patches. Every relationship between leaders will have some level of disagreement but this is not good.
Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."

At another meeting with Gen Petraeus, Mr Maliki said: "I can't deal with you any more. I will ask for someone else to replace you."
If we were dealing with a sovereign nation instead of an occupied one, Surge On General Petraeus would have shaped up or shipped out by now. Instead we have Our Dear Embattled Leader running two countries into the ground, at one time. Probably reminds him of his days in the oil business.

George W Bush will be running the country today

For a few hours, at least. That is how long Dickwahd will be incapacitated will his heart gizmo is replaced. While most of the nation desperately hopes his doctor will have an attack of conscience during the procedure, he is expected to be back on his feet and running things again by nightfall.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Wow moment in Iraq

You all those reconstruction projects in Iraq? The ones that we are shelling out Billions of dollars for? It seems that when they are complete, we are have to turn them over to the Iraqi government to run. One small problem.
The process of transferring projects to Iraq “worked for a while,” Mr. Bowen said. But then the new government took over and installed its finance minister, Bayan Jabr, who has been a continuing center of controversy in his various government posts and is formally in charge of the transfers. “After Mr. Jabr took over, that process ceased to function,” Mr. Bowen said.
But good old American ingenuity has found the solution to this impediment.
Because the Iraqi government will not formally accept projects ....the United States is “finding someone at the local level to handle the project, handing them the keys and saying, ‘Operate and maintain it,’ ” another official in the inspector general’s office said.
Needless to say, this has been about as successful as anything else the Bushoviks have done in Iraq. Like this.
In one of the most recent cases, a $90 million project to overhaul two giant turbines at the Dora power plant in Baghdad failed after completion because employees at the plant did not know how to operate the turbines properly and the wrong fuel was used. The additional power is critically needed in Baghdad, where residents often have only a few hours of electricity a day.
And the best is yet to come.
So far, the United States has declared that $5.8 billion in American taxpayer-financed projects have been completed, but most of the rest of the projects within a $21 billion rebuilding program that Mr. Bowen examined in the report are expected to be finished by the end of this year. Some of that money is also being used to train and equip Iraqi security forces rather than finance construction projects.
Talk about your Shock and Awe. I think I liked Our Dear Embattled Leader better when he was simply running a couple of small oil companies into the ground.

You know all about the Baghdad embassy, right?

You know, the one built with slave labor, the one built to be a self contained and fully functioning city in the middle of a Baghdad that no longer functions? Well according to one of the contractors, after spending all that money to build it, we should hope we get to use it for a very long time. Long enough to get our moneys worth.
Juvencio Lopez of San Antonio, a former project director at the embassy construction site, said he doubted the United States would ever abandon the compound.

"If the U.S. military leaves, we'd have to blow it up" to keep security secrets from falling into the wrong hands, Lopez said. "There's certain key designs for those buildings that we just don't want everybody to know. The Baghdad Embassy was the prototype of all future embassies."
Bye-Bye? Boom-Boom!

US tries to get its money back

After the departure of all those petrodollars you sent to the Bush family buddies over there in the Middle East so you drive down the block in your Hummer for a quart of milk, Our Dear Embattled Leader has divined a method to to call them home.
The Bush administration has decided to supply billions of dollars in advanced new weapons to Saudi Arabia, other Arab allies of the United States and to Israel, senior State Department officials and congressional aides said Friday.

The arms and aid package, which the officials said is to be announced on Monday, is part of a U.S. initiative to reassure worried allies in the Middle East that despite its troubles in Iraq, the United States remains committed to the region. It also is meant to send a signal of resolve to Iran's increasingly confident leaders.
So by pretending that we give a shit about them, we get them to give us our dollars back. And isn't it nice to see ODEL implement his No Country Left Behind policy? Why does Israel always have to whine about not getting the biggest piece?

Ooops! Sorry about that

Talk about a close call.

A 172-ton diesel engine destined for a Navy cargo ship under construction rolled off the back of a trailer early Thursday and crushed three cars parked outside a shipyard entrance, authorities said.

A woman waiting in one of the crushed vehicles narrowly escaped serious injury, police said.

“She’s awful lucky,” Sgt. Jeff Fellows of the San Diego Police Department’s traffic division said Thursday.
You can say that again!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The latest from DC

In which we see Our Dear Embattled Leader say it is all Harry's fault and Harry replies. "Up your nose with a rubber hose". Actually Harry said
“The president’s call today to pressure Congress to quickly complete a defense spending bill that does not take effect until October is simply the latest example of the president shamelessly hiding behind our brave troops in an effort to distract attention from his failed national security record and failed conduct of this war,” Reid said in a written statement. “It is time for the president and the Republicans to do more than just say the right thing. It is time they worked with us for the good of the country and our security.

“If the President and Republicans were as committed to this priority as they profess to be, they would not have placed our troops in harm’s way without a strategy for success or the equipment and support they need to do their mission,” Reid said. “Throughout this war, Democrats have had to force the President and Congressional Republicans to provide our troops adequate body armor, well-earned pay raises, and the health care they deserve when they return home. Just as importantly, we have repeatedly put forward a strategy for success in Iraq that will enhance our security.”
If you want to read the puerile crap ODEL spouted, you will have to look it up yourself.

What would you do?

If you were strapped to enough explosive power to spread you over several hundred square miles in a 30+ year old gizmo built by the lowest bidder that had once before gone ker-plooie? According to a report released today, some of our astronauts faced this situation and proceeded to get shitfaced.
At least twice, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk, an aviation weekly reported Thursday, citing a special panel studying astronaut health.

The independent panel also found “heavy use of alcohol” before launch that was within the standard 12-hour “bottle-to-throttle” rule, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, which reported the finding on its Web site.
It is a good thing that they don't have to do very much at the start of the flight and science has shown that pure O2 can do wonders for the wobbly kneed.

They got papers on Gonzo

The various lies of Gonzo about the many illegal activities of the Bushoviks can be confusing at times. And then there are the moments of clarity, like this.
Documents indicate eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The documents underscore questions about Gonzales' credibility as senators consider whether a perjury investigation should be opened into conflicting accounts about the program and a dramatic March 2004 confrontation leading up to its potentially illegal reauthorization.

A Gonzales spokesman maintained Wednesday that the attorney general stands by his testimony.

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.

Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.
The clarity comes from Gonzo's sticking with his testimony instead of revising it. This puts him in direct and obvious contradiction with the evidence. Apparently he has so much faith in his corruption of the Dept. of Justice and all the Republican activist judges out there that he has no fear of even the most obvious criminal act. It sure is nice to have friends.

UPDATE: And now FBI Director Robert Mueller has as much as said that Gonzo was lying through his teeth.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

And Dick Cheney smiled...

Street celebrations following the Iraqi national soccer team's Asia Cup semifinals victory turned into another cruel tragedy Wednesday when two suicide car bombs exploded amid throngs of revelers, killing 50 and injuring more than 130 in Baghdad, police said.

The attacks broke the wave of euphoria that swept the capital and other parts of the nation after the Iraqi team beat South Korea 4-3 in a close-fought game in Malaysia.

Thousands of overjoyed Iraqis poured into the streets of Baghdad, firing their guns in the air and waving huge flags. Iraqis danced and cheered for their mixed-sect soccer team, one of the last national symbols in a country that's disintegrating along strictly drawn lines of Sunni and Shiite Muslim and Kurd.

Witnesses said the first blast at 7 p.m. tore through a crowd that was chanting, "Today is your day, heroes!" in a public square of the once-upscale Mansour district. Iraqi police blamed a suicide car bomber; at least 30 people died and 75 were wounded.

"We were out celebrating in our neighborhood, standing, singing, shouting and clapping, with all the youths cruising in their cars," said Laith Abdul Rahman, 27, who survived the bombing. "What is the matter with these people? Can't they bear it that we Iraqis have something to rejoice in and be proud of?"

Less than half an hour later, a second explosion ripped through another crowd of soccer fans near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Ghadeer. It was unclear whether the festivities or the military post was the intended target. Iraqi authorities said 20 people, including several Iraqi soldiers, were killed. At least 60 were wounded.

Republicans willing to allow smuggled nukes in US

What else can you say about this passage from the NYT report on the Anti-Terrorism bill?
The compromises were necessary because of a veto threat from President Bush and opposition by Republican members of Congress. The bill, expected to come up for final votes next week, had cleared the House in January and the Senate in March but had been stalled until recently. Republicans claimed that some of the initiatives being pushed by Democrats, such as a requirement that all ship containers headed to the United States from overseas be checked for nuclear threats, were impractical and would disrupt global trade.
Nukes disrupt global trade, too, but most Republicans really don't care about that. Besides, if an attack occurs, they will hold it up as a vindication of all their own failures, and Fox viewers everywhere will believe them.

Quote of the Day

Prolonging the war for another two years will not bring victory. It will mean more lives lost, more damage to America’s international standing and fewer resources to fight the real fight against terrorists.
New York Times editorial today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Republican concept of the Best and the Brightest

President Bush's nominee to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was himself the subject of at least one complaint of employee abuse in his supervisory role at the Justice Department, eight former department civil rights employees charged Monday.

In a letter asking key senators to block the nomination, the former employees also charged that David Palmer's work in the department's employment litigation section was of poor quality and that he was reprimanded for one performance lapse.

The former employees, including three ex-deputy chiefs of the section, charged that Palmer's "work performance was well below the high standards expected of Department of Justice attorneys."

A slight correction, his "work performance was well below the high standards [corr. previously] expected of Department of Justice attorneys.". Let's face it, this guy is a shining example of the best that Our Dear Embattled Leader and His Little Fredo have to offer.

Read this before the next time you take a flight somewhere.

What you don't know can hurt you.

Gonzo lied again today

And, if given the chance will lie again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. This is to be expected because everyone with half a brain should know by now that the little beaner's only purpose is to protect Our Dear Embattled Leader and to hell with the country and the Constitution. However, according to the NY Times, he really did speak a true response at one point in his testimony.
And Mr. Gonzales, besides promising that he “will not tolerate any improper politicization of this department,”
Right, he is a trained professional and he knows how to properly politicize the DoJ. And he will make sure everybody else does, too.

As only Oliphant can




Click image for larger view

Ponder this at your next meal.

Is It Safe to Eat?

President Bush took a potentially useful step last week, appointing a cabinet-level committee to find ways to ensure the safety of imported food and other products. But his actions would be a lot more credible if the administration had not been cutting the staff and budget of food safety programs at the Food and Drug Administration while also planning to eliminate half of the agency’s laboratories.

Hearings before a House oversight subcommittee raised serious questions about the F.D.A.’s ability to protect the public against contaminated or adulterated foods. William Hubbard, a former top agency official who consults for a coalition of industry and consumer groups, told the committee that the F.D.A. has lost some 200 food scientists and 700 field inspectors over five years, exactly the wrong direction when food imports are skyrocketing. He also noted that the small budget increase the White House has proposed for food safety next year would be a decrease after accounting for inflation.

As if that weren’t discouraging enough, the committee’s chief investigator described how porous the current safety shield is. Agency personnel, he said, inspect less than 1 percent of all imported foods and conduct laboratory analyses on only a tiny fraction of those. Overwhelmed entry reviewers at one field office have so many items to screen that they typically have less than 30 seconds to decide whether an import needs closer scrutiny. Importers also learn to game the system by sending goods to lax entry points or mislabeling them. And they are allowed to take possession of suspect goods and arrange testing by private laboratories whose work is often shoddy or driven by financial concerns.

The F.D.A. insists that its plan to close 7 of the agency’s 13 laboratories will actually improve its capabilities, by allowing greater investment in modern equipment and training at the six remaining laboratories. That could conceivably be true, but the House investigator worries that there could be a tremendous loss of talent when laboratory analysts resign rather than be relocated. Congress and its research arm, the Government Accountability Office, will need to determine if this is a genuine move toward modernizing some aging laboratories, or a step that could further weaken the F.D.A.
NY Times editorial July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Can't even pick up the pieces without problems

From McClatchy:
It was just another car bomb, this time an old, blue Volkswagen Passat that blew up in a busy shopping district of Baghdad, one of four that killed and maimed Iraqi civilians Monday.

But the array of first responders who descended on the smoke-filled scene exemplified how militants aren't the only force that's undermining the plan to restore order to the violent Iraqi capital.

After the blast near a busy shrine in the mostly Shiite Muslim area of Karrada, Iraqi firefighters, medical workers, Iraqi police, traffic police, Iraqi soldiers, American troops, members of two powerful Shiite militias and ordinary residents jostled for control. With so many forces picking through the charred, bloody wreckage, no single group emerged as the one in charge, and the already frenzied scene spiraled into pandemonium.
Somewhere in all this, the Surge is supposed to bring order when they can't even clean up an explosion site. Is that the sweet smell of success in the air?

How a Republican says Thank You.

Republicans on the House Veterans Affairs Committee are trying to scuttle a committee-passed plan to provide pensions for World War II-era Filipino Scouts by getting a major veterans’ service organization to question whether this is the highest priority for improved benefits.

In a letter, the 13 Republicans on the committee complain about being blocked on July 17 from offering amendments that would have redirected the $875 million being spent on disability pay and pensions for Filipino veterans, including those who are not American citizens and who don’t even live in the U.S.

“Each amendment proposed alternative ways to spend the money going to Filipino veterans,” the letter says. Two amendments would have reduced the pensions, which would total up to $8,400 a year for a married veteran, and shifted the rest of the money to programs that Republicans see as higher priorities.
Just despicable!

Gonzo is lying again.

In preparation for his next comedy revue with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzo released a 26 page statement. In all that was the one line that had them rolling on the floor, laughing their asses off.
I decided that the best course of action was to remain here and fix the problems."
As this was unsworn, there is no penalty for telling such a big lie. And it is a lie simply because Gonzo is the source of all the DoJ problems. And he was only doing his masters bidding. He has absolutely no idea how to fix the problem unless Karl or George tell him what to do, and they won't. So Gonzo is left with shit on his hands. Tomorrow, when he appears before the committee, there will be the smell of mendacity in the room, and,in the words of Big Daddy, "There ain't nuthin' more powerful than the smell of mendacity!".

Monday Music Blogging

This song is dedicated to all College Republicans and, of course, to America's very own Fortunate Son.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

This one was only 18


Every US death in this war was a person with a life, all too often too short, that was sacrificed on the altar of George W Bush's cupidity, greed and lies. And because George W Bush is a coward for whom not admitting a mistake is more important than a soldiers life, there will be more deaths. Some will be people like Army Spc. Christopher D. Kube.
He was 18.

He was a newlywed.

He was killed on July 14, eight months after he arrived in Iraq on a deployment that made him nervous from the start, as one fellow soldier remembered. Back at his home station, Fort Carson, Colorado, he drew attention for being so young, so short, so slight and so cheerful.

"When I saw him I asked, `How old are you, 10?"' recalled his platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Eugenie Byron-Griffin. "`What are you doing here? You're a baby.' He looked me straight in my eye, with his chest poked out like he does, and he said, `I'm 17, and I ain't no baby. I'm a man."'
Yes, he was a man for an all too brief time and he died as a man for that damnable Texican pissant in the White House and every bootlicking Republican stooge in Congress.

Jimmy Breslin calls for Impeachment

In the honest, straight forward way that everyone can understand.

Tom Toles on Target


The enemy of my enemy...

Michael Ware had this report on the people the US military is arming against al-Qaeda in Iraq, today.



Can you spot the bad guys?

Can you catch the lies?

Juan Cole had this on his blog and I think every real American blogger should post it.


Don't know if this is good or bad

Two months ago, President Bush enthusiastically accepted an invitation to visit Singapore in September. But he abruptly changed plans, and his summit with Southeast Asian leaders is off. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is skipping an Asian meeting, too, and tossed out plans to visit Africa this week. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' mission to Latin America? Postponed.

The reason is Iraq.

As the White House struggles to show progress in the 52-month-old war, other important global issues increasingly are getting pushed to the side, according to U.S. officials, diplomats and analysts.
Given their propensity to screw up anything they touch, this is probably a favorable turn of events. Unfortunately the rest of the world doesn't look favorably on a one trick pony. Whoever takes office in Jan '09 will have a lot of fence mending to do and a lot of catch up, too.

Maybe we should let them eat cake.

Amb. Ryan Crocker is calling for the granting of visas to Iraqis working for the US in Iraq. The reason is simple to understand.
"Our [Iraqi staff members] work under extremely difficult conditions, and are targets for violence including murder and kidnapping," Crocker wrote Undersecretary of State Henrietta H. Fore. "Unless they know that there is some hope of an [immigrant visa] in the future, many will continue to seek asylum, leaving our Mission lacking in one of our most valuable assets."...

....A 43-year-old former engineer for the U.S. Embassy who gave his name as Abu Ali said Iraqis working with Americans at any level must trust no one, use fake names, conceal their travel and telephone use, and withhold their employment even from family members. Despite such extreme precautions, he said they are viewed as traitors by some countrymen and are still mistrusted by the U.S. government.

"We have no good end or finish for us," said Ali, who quit the embassy in June and moved to Dubai with his four children.
The Bushovik response is just what you would expect from people who were hired to keep government from working properly.
With Iraqi immigration to the United States stuck at a trickle, however, it appears that humanitarian concerns have been trumped so far by fears that terrorists may infiltrate through refugee channels. Bureaucratic delays at the departments of State and Homeland Security have also bogged down the processing of immigration requests by Iraqis fleeing violence.

Skeptics contend another reason the administration has been slow to resettle Iraqis in large numbers is that doing so could be seen as admitting that its efforts to secure Iraq have failed. The intense pressure for visas "reflects the fact that the situation is pretty dire,"
Yup, we can't find the bad'uns and we won't admit failure. And unspoken is the assumption that because they are Iraqi, they are disposable.

Another town votes for Impeachment

Last week the distance came into focus as West Hollywood officials made their city the first in Southern California to pass a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

West Hollywood was the 80th city or township in the nation to pass such a declaration, following similar actions in Michigan, Ohio and Vermont as well as six cities in Northern California, including Arcada and Eureka.

Citing perceived abuses of power and constitutional transgressions, such as domestic wiretapping and torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the City Council passed the resolution unanimously Monday.
Well done, West Hollywood!

Republicans nervous about veto threat

It seems that Our Dear Embattled Leader's threat to veto the State Children's Health Insurance Program renewal has Republicans worried. Many of them support the renewal as written and if vetoed they would have to go against their beloved Deciderer and override his veto or face electoral disaster. Yeah, right! What they have here is an opportunity to show voters that they can be brave and face up to and distance themselves from ODEL next year. After that "historic" moment, heralded with great fanfare from the Notorious Right Wing Media, they could safely go back to their filibustering ways with some political cover. And continue to prove that you can fool all the people all the time.

Multinational corporations need not obey the law

This is a concept that should surprise no one with a Republican administration. What might surprise honest people is that this applies to laws meant to apply to he allegedly most important aim of government policy, the Great War On Terra. The LA Times reports on this little mentioned perk for multinationals.
For more than a decade, leftist guerrilla and right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia have kidnapped or killed civilians, trade union leaders, police and soldiers by the hundreds and profited by shipping cocaine and heroin to the United States.

In that time, several American multinational corporations have been accused of essentially underwriting those criminal activities — in violation of U.S. law — by providing cash, vehicles and other financial assistance as insurance against attacks on their employees and facilities in the South American nation.

But only one such company — Chiquita Brands International Inc. — has been charged criminally in the United States. Now, a showdown is looming that pits some members of Congress against the Justice Department and the multinationals — including an American coal-mining company and Coca-Cola bottlers.
The Justice Dept. says they are reviewing various allegations, but considering the rot at the head of that Dept. you have to wonder what that is worth. For the companies, it is just an expense that can be written off and if people get killed, well gee whiz sorry about that but profits come first.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Fog of War

You read this report and you decide. Was it
The U.S. military said the dead were insurgents and the homes in the Husseiniya district probably served as weapons depots; troops observed seven or more secondary explosions after the air assault. By the military's tally, six fighters were killed and five wounded.
Or was it
the dead came from two Shiite Muslim families who lived in an area controlled by the powerful Mahdi Army militia. The bodies pulled from the rubble, locals say, were ordinary parents killed with their children in the middle of the night. Locals counted 11 corpses - two men, two women, and seven children. Another 10 were injured. Some Iraqi authorities put the death toll as high as 18.
You be the judge, but just remember this; They are still dead because of this fucking war that George W Bush and his Republican stooges started and just won't stop.

Finally some good news from Iraq

From McClatchy:
Police danced at checkpoints and gunmen fired their weapons in celebration Saturday as thousands of jubilant Iraqis poured into the streets of Baghdad after their national soccer team's 2-0 victory over Vietnam in a quarterfinal match of the Asia Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.

The impromptu citywide parade lifted the capital's wartime gloom and let Iraqis forget momentarily the daily frustrations of their lives.

Families spent precious gasoline cruising up and down the main street in the central neighborhood of Karada. Taxi drivers honked their horns and blasted patriotic music. Children, typically shut indoors for their protection, whooped and jumped in the middle of intersections. Iraqi women trilled from balconies, while throngs of ecstatic young men peeled off their shirts and waved them in the air.
Congratulations to the Iraqi team and the Iraqi people on their victory.

McClatchy notices the Republican Filibusters

And also notes the increasing number of Republican Filibusters.
This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that's rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.

The trend has been evolving for 30 years. The reasons behind it are too complex to pin on one party. But it has been especially pronounced since the Democrats' razor-thin win in last year's election, giving them effectively a 51-49 Senate majority, and the Republicans' exile to the minority.

Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation....

....This year Republicans also have blocked votes on immigration legislation, a no-confidence resolution for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and major legislation dealing with energy, labor rights and prescription drugs.
It is all passing strange that the Republicans are so hot for Filibuster. We all know that Our Dear Embattled Leader will use his Amazing Preznitential Powers to ignore any law he does not like. Whatever the reason, it just means that the Republican party will be that much closer to oblivion come November 2008.

What will it take to withdraw?

Not politically but the actual physical requirements of removing the Army from Iraq to secure loading points and returning all that shit to the good old US of A. The Army Times has an overview of the larger questions that need to be answered and are being planned for by the military, which unlike Our Dear Embattled Leader plans for everything.
Those “cities” — from al-Asad Air Base in the west, population 17,000, to the Anaconda base farther east, with 25,000 — hold more than the thousands of tanks, other armored vehicles, artillery pieces and Humvees assigned to combat units. They’re also home to airfields laden with high-tech gear, complexes of offices filled with computers, furniture and air conditioners, systems of generators and water plants, PXs full of merchandise, gyms packed with equipment, big prefab latrines and ranks of small portable toilets, even Burger Kings and Subway sandwich shops.

“What stays? What goes? And if it goes, where does it go?” asked Mintzlaff.

When it goes, most will go by sea. But it won’t be a simple matter of tagging, packing and loading.

Ever since U.S. authorities found plague-infected rats in cargo returning from the Vietnam War, the decontamination process has been demanding: water blasting of equipment, treatment with insecticide and rodenticide, inspections, certifications.

“I can’t overemphasize how difficult it is to meet U.S. Agriculture Department standards,” said Pagonis, whose 22nd Support Command supplied, fueled, transported and finally sent home the half-million U.S. troops of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-91.
Back when it was going in, Rummy screwed around with the tipfiddle and caused some serious problems. Assuming that no one is stupid enough to do that again, it will still be a monumental task. And that leaves the BIG QUESTION unanswered.
But perhaps the biggest question on planners’ minds is a more immediate one: Will it be a “fighting withdrawal”? Will some in Iraq’s wide array of armed groups attack the hundreds of convoys needed to move U.S. equipment south?
But the military has been doing this for a long time and as of today, we still have 548 days to put the plans together. George and his Republicans aren't planning on going anywhere soon.

The Surge is working

Not Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Surge but the one by the insurgents, inspired by his most recent piece bit of neo-conmen idiocy. According to DoD statistics, the insurgents have increased the number of attacks to the highest level since May 2003.
The data, obtained by Reuters from the Defense Department, showed an upward trend in daily attacks over the past four months, when U.S. and Iraqi forces were ramping up operations against insurgents and militants, including al Qaeda, in Iraq.

Pentagon officials were not immediately available to comment on the statistics.

The June numbers showed 5,335 attacks against coalition troops, Iraqi security forces, civilians and infrastructure.

June's total was 2.5 percent below an October 2006 peak of 5,472 attacks and slightly lower than the 5,365 attacks in May.

But because June has only 30 days, the average daily number of attacks was 177.8, higher than the 176.5 last October and 173.1 in May...

....The June 2007 statistics confirmed a significant decline in the targeting of Iraqi civilians, with such attacks falling 18 percent to 763 from a 2007 high of 932 in May.

Attacks on Iraqi security forces fell to 889 in June from 987 in May, while attacks on coalition forces rose about 7 percent to 3,671 from 3,423.
But the Surge is working because they are attacking us instead of Iraqis.

How curious.

On the day that the NY Times lead editorial started out like this.
If ever there were a moment for serious discussion about the Iraq war, this is it. Americans want President Bush to explain how he will extract the troops and contain the bloodletting and chaos the war has unleashed. Washington’s dwindling band of allies and Iraq’s neighbors are also waiting to hear. Pretty much everyone in the world wants answers except the president.

With the White House refusing to lead, lawmakers in both parties have begun to talk about the best way to end the war. But instead of seizing the opening, Mr. Bush and his team continue to spout disinformation and vacuous slogans about victory and, of course, more character assassination.
Our Dear Embattled Leader was taking it up the ass at Camp David. What it all means, I don't really know, but rumor has it that during Dickwahd's last colonoscopy the doctors tried to go in through his mouth because that was where all the shit was coming from.

WARNING: This is NOT Satire. But it should be


Our Great National Nightmare is Over.

According to Yahoo/AP, Our Dear Embattled Leader is no longer officially anesthetized. He is no more alert and comprehending than he ever was, but now it is all his own doing, again. Dickwahd al-Cheney can go back to being de facto president, a position out of the light that he is more comfortable with. And lastly, the doctors snipped five pieces from ODEL's colon. Ostensibly they are to be tested for cancer, but really they are just souvenirs for the medicos from the reigning Worlds Greatest Asshole.

Rebrand the Army?

And this is not about a new method of troop identification to replace dog tags, just another burst of Madison Ave malarkey to get the Iraqis to like us. The WaPo gave front page coverage to this brain dead $400,000 idea that should have been killed when it was first uttered.
In the advertising world, brand identity is everything. Volvo means safety. Colgate means clean. IPod means cool. But since the U.S. military invaded Iraq in 2003, its "show of force" brand has proved to have limited appeal to Iraqi consumers, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. military.

The key to boosting the image and effectiveness of U.S. military operations around the world involves "shaping" both the product and the marketplace, and then establishing a brand identity that places what you are selling in a positive light, said clinical psychologist Todd C. Helmus, the author of "Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation." The 211-page study, for which the U.S. Joint Forces Command paid the Rand Corp. $400,000, was released this week.

Helmus and his co-authors concluded that the "force" brand, which the United States peddled for the first few years of the occupation, was doomed from the start and lost ground to enemies' competing brands. While not abandoning the more aggressive elements of warfare, the report suggested, a more attractive brand for the Iraqi people might have been "We will help you." That is what President Bush's new Iraq strategy is striving for as it focuses on establishing a protective U.S. troop presence in Baghdad neighborhoods, training Iraq's security forces, and encouraging the central and local governments to take the lead in making things better.
That should work real good. Take the "image" and reality of an organization that, for 5 years, has been kicking down doors, shooting up anybody who has been in the way and dropping bombs at will, into a warm and fuzzy aid society. This is definitely an idea whose time has never existed, but we paid for it. Actually it makes perfect sense with an administration that substitutes image for reality in all things.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dirty Randy Cunningscam spills his guts

And you can read all about it at SignOnSanDiego. It seems old Randy was a greedy demanding sort who would call up his partners in crime and demand money whenever he needed it.
The Rolls Royce that drew so much attention early in the investigation was not the only car that Cunningham made the contractors buy for him. In only two days in early 2002, the congressman bought a $43,000 Thunderbird and a $41,000 BMW from Bob Baker Ford in San Diego with $63,000 of his payment coming from bribes. That was three months before Wade gave him $10,000 toward the used Rolls Royce.

In mid-2004 when Cunningham needed to make repairs to his boat, he called Wade and demanded $6,500 cash. Wade took the money out of his petty cash, stuffed the cash into a bulging envelope and rushed it over to a Cunningham fundraiser at a Washington restaurant, giving it to a Cunningham staffer.

In his prison interviews with investigators, as summarized by the FBI, the former congressman is reported to have:

Insisted there were no prostitutes at Wilkes' Washington poker games, but said Wilkes hired prostitutes for him during a Hawaii vacation. Cunningham was miffed that Wilkes got the “younger and cuter” prostitute and said he was “somewhat embarrassed on this occasion because he had some difficulty in completing intercourse.” On the next night, Cunningham again had a prostitute but said he “did not have sex” with her “because he felt guilty about his behavior.”
Feeling guilty or forgot his Viagra? Not exactly your ideal public servant, we can only hope his testimony will put his cadre of corrupters in jail.

Big day tomorrow

For about 2 1/2 hours, Our Dear Shitless Leader will be insensible to the world, much more so than usual, as a group of highly skilled professionals go fishing up his asshole (no, not Dick Cheney). In fact, dear Dickwahd will, for that time be de jure president as well as de facto president. Some blogs have thrown their hands up in horror at the thought, but really, what would be different? Even when he is full of shit, Dear Leader has never denied Dickwahd anything that he wanted. So be at peace and take the time to pray to your deity that, while the doctors are all tied up, Dickwahd's pacemaker will fry a circuit.

Bushoviks declare Presidential shit doesn't stink - EVER!

So Congress just might as well give up sniffing around. The latest declaration, reported in the WaPo, is that no US Attorney can pursue a contempt case regarding executive privilege because the Preznit himself has declared executive privilege. And he tells his stooge Fredo not to do it and Fredo tells the US Attorneys not to do it and it doesn't get done. All so neat, and you thought Our Dear Embattled Leader kept Fredo around because he liked the little beaner. And for those who don't believe in the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, consider this.
But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.
They have been trying to run this shit for at least 20 years.

Impeachment is beginning to seem way too lenient for this crew.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Quote of the Day - PM edition

"We hear an awful lot about — and you have said it — we have to buy time. We buy time for what? For a political reconciliation process that is not occurring, that is not working."
Sen Chuck Hegel, R-NE, suggesting to Amb. Ryan Crocker that there have been too many Freidman Units in Iraq.

Throw a bone to the troops

From the Army Times
The Army’s top enlisted soldier told troops serving in Iraq that war zone rotations will not exceed 15 months, according to an article in Dog Face Daily, a newsletter of the 3rd Infantry Division.

Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston visited soldiers from 3rd ID and Task Force Marne in Baghdad on Monday.

“Preston clarified the deployment extension, saying tours will not exceed 15 months,” the article said.
At least, not until Our Dear Embattled Leader needs more boots over there. What does a Sergeant Major know about being a Deciderer, anyway? Why Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey himself refused to guarantee that. But Gen. Casey knows what a hairball nutbag he works for.

A thoughtful and lucid assessment of Iraq

Former Ambassador Peter Galbraith his written just such a piece for The New York Review Of Books. If you thought you knew what is going on over there, you probably don't so go read this. If you don't know anything more than what you read in your paper or see on you TV, go read this, it is that important. If you have been drinking the Kool-Aid, this will be like a crucifix to a vampire, (can't you hear the hiss from Dick Cheney as he draws the cloak over his face) but if you are not yet hopelessly addicted go read this, it could save you.

Quote of the Day

Lately, the senator has been dividing his time between the American mission in Iraq and his presidential campaign, and they are going equally well.
Gail Collins, being mean to John McCain, in a principled way.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Got us another #3

Yes! Just in time to put a godly fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere, the Bushoviks have disclosed that the found the "missing link" between Al-Qaeda and and AQ in Iraq. Amazingly he has confessed to doing everything that Our Dear Embattled Leader has been telling us about all these months past. What makes this so special is that he is living proof that Dickwahd al-Cheney is right, waterboarding will give you all the information that you want to hear. In his 6+ years as VP and White House manipulator, this is the first time he has ever been right. What will Bill Kristol say?

Army to shift funds for MRAPs

After finally figuring out that Our Dear Embattled Leader and his faithful Republican minions are going to stuff every last available soldier and Marine into Iraq and keep them there, the Army is now making and effort to provide MRAPs to replace the Hummers, which were named after the best part of their procurement process. To do so the Army needs $1.2 BILLION. To get it they will shuffle funds from other accounts.
To cover the cost, the military proposes drawing money from various accounts used to support nondeployed troops, including $100 million for Air Force depot maintenance. However, the biggest chunk — $663 million — will be taken from the Army program that refurbishes equipment for units between deployments.

According to the Pentagon document, the maintenance workload for this particular effort has decreased because combat tours increased this year from 12 to 15 months.
If I read this right, they don't need to refurbish equipment between deployments, because they aren't coming home? How much money could we save if we extended deployments to 18 months?

The NY Times editorial board scores again.

It had to happen. President Bush’s bungling of the war in Iraq has been the talk of the summer. On Capitol Hill, some of the more reliable Republicans are writing proposals to force Mr. Bush to change course. A showdown vote is looming in the Senate.

Enter, stage right, the fear of terrorism....

....This administration has never hesitated to play on fear for political gain, starting with the first homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, and his Popsicle-coded threat charts. It is a breathtakingly cynical ploy, but in the past it has worked to cow Democrats into silence, if not always submission, and herd Republicans back onto the party line.

That must not happen this time. By now, Congress surely can see through the president’s fear-mongering and show Mr. Bush the exit from Iraq that he refuses to find for himself.
If only the front page could see as well.

The mighty Republican filibuster strikes again

And more people will die because the brave Republican senators who spoke out so resolutely against Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Adventure in Iraq have shown themselves to be Republicans first and bravery is just so much persiflage. Harold Meyerson, writing in the WaPo, serves up a well deserved helping of contempt for the "stout hearted" cowards.
They have seen the folly of our course in Iraq. The mission, they understand, cannot be accomplished. The Iraqi government, they discern, is hopelessly sectarian.

In wisdom, they are paragons. In action, they are nullities.

Perhaps they are simply farsighted. They have seen the problem with Nouri al-Maliki's administration in faraway Baghdad. They seem unable to see the problem with the Bush administration at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Well said, if only those paragons had a "Dorothy" to give them courage.

And if anybody is wondering, notorious Bush lapdog Joe Lieberschmuck, Independent senator from CT the dumbest fucking state in the union, voted with the Bushoviks (and is still waiting for his doggie treat).

A reminder from Ann Telnaes


Quote of the Day

If W. were a real cowboy, instead of somebody who just plays one on TV, he would have cleaned up Dodge by now.
MoDo today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A guide to car buying and repair in Iraq

With extra armor as the accessory of choice for your motor vehicle in bucolic Baghdad and elsewhere, the repair shops have prospered despite many new challenges. With that said, we give you this handy guide to what to look for in your new HASUV
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ARMORED CAR

Levels of nonmilitary armor protection typically are rated on a scale from two to six, with six being the best. The tradeoff is agility and speed. Testudo Security Consultants of Amman, Jordan, recommends level six protection in Iraq, "where the likelihood of attack is extremely high." But even the most robust vehicles are vulnerable to armor-piercing roadside bombs.

Testudo recommends that armored-car vendors replace standard fittings with heavy-duty:

— Suspensions.

— Door hinges.

— Brakes.

— Cooling and air-conditioning systems, particularly in the Middle East.

— Reinforced chassis.

— Resealing gas tanks.

— "Run-flat" tires.

The vehicle itself should look like a standard model, "to avoid drawing attention."

The Iraq that Lieberschmuck and Pace never see.

The Army Times has a report on the US efforts in Baqubah and Diyala province.
American soldiers backed by tanks, helicopters and at least one F-16 jetfighter rolled into the eastern part of Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province.

Gunfire could be heard in the main market district, and Sunni imams in four mosques used loudspeakers to call on their followers to fight the Americans, residents said by telephone. They spoke on condition of anonymity over fears for their safety...

...Elsewhere in Diyala, police Col. Ragheb Radhi al-Omairi said 29 members of a Shiite tribe were massacred overnight when dozens of suspected Sunni gunmen raided their village near Muqdadiyah, about 20 miles northeast of Baqouba. The dead included four women, al-Omairi said....

...In Baghdad, Tuesday’s deadliest car bombing occurred when a suicide driver detonated his vehicle near an Iraqi army patrol in Zayouna, a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad. The attack killed 10 people, including six civilians, and wounded three civilians, police said.

Elsewhere in the capital, a car bomb exploded across the street from the Iranian Embassy, killing four civilians. The late morning blast took place a few hundred yards north of the U.S.-controlled Green Zone and sent a huge cloud of black smoke over the city.
But in the VIP Iraqi viewing area Gen Peter "Wrong Way" Pace-Fuzz saw a whole different country.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hailed the progress achieved in Ramadi, where violence was once commonplace, saying “what I’m hearing now is a sea change that is taking place in many places here.”
And back home some folks, tired of all the shit being spread had this to say.
Kathleen Hicks of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies acknowledged that parts of Iraq had seen improved security but she “wouldn’t describe it as a sea change at all.”

“The bigger question is whether any kind of security progress at the pace we’re likely to see is going to translate into a political settlement,” Hicks said. “I think the answer is no.”

Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution saw no evidence of any lasting security improvements anywhere in Iraq. He said Pace’s comment “strains your credibility,” especially on a day when a National Intelligence Estimate predicted that al-Qaida would likely “leverage” its contacts in Iraq to mount an attack on American soil.
But Our Dear Embattled Leader is going to stay his course come Hell or high water (both have occurred in Texas during his reign) and his loyal Republican minions are going to support him to the end.

I knew his face wasn't real!

And The Politico, a normally worthless spouter of claptrap, brings us the real truth about erstwhile liberal, current conservative Republican and lifelong cult member Mitt Romney. It takes a team of specialists, at $300 a whack to construct that picture perfect face. But will anyone care? After all, IOKIYAR.

The Pentagon is playing games

War games, which is something they regularly do to give themselves an idea of what will result from various actions they may take. This time they are working on the possible results of US withdrawal from Iraq. According to the Washington Post article from Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks, the predicted results will not be good.
If U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq in the near future, three developments would be likely to unfold. Majority Shiites would drive Sunnis out of ethnically mixed areas west to Anbar province. Southern Iraq would erupt in civil war between Shiite groups. And the Kurdish north would solidify its borders and invite a U.S. troop presence there. In short, Iraq would effectively become three separate nations.

That was the conclusion reached in recent "war games" exercises conducted for the U.S. military by retired Marine Col. Gary Anderson. "I honestly don't think it will be apocalyptic," said Anderson, who has served in Iraq and now works for a major defense contractor. But "it will be ugly."
But this is not the only try by the governmental haruspices, and the predictions are as varied as the people making them. In the end the final quote of the article should be taken as the best course possible.
White, speaking at a recent symposium on Iraq, addressed the possibility of unpalatable withdrawal consequences by paraphrasing Winston Churchill's famous statement about democracy. "I posit that withdrawal from Iraq is the worst possible option, except for all the others."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dickwahd al-Cheney has to go.

It is not bad enough that he knuckles under to his Saudi overlords and lets them send their religious whackos to Iraq to blow up Iraqi citizens and US troops. No, now he has to make one more try to start another war, this time in Iran. Like a desperate gambler having lost every previous time, he has to make his play one more time. This time it's a sure thing. Sure to lose like all the times before. But Old Dickwahd is the real president, who can stop him.

The Guardian has the details.

Sen. David "Diaper Dog" Vitter comes out of hiding

And while it appears that that his nuts have not fully re-descended he does still have physical possession of them. And he even got his wife Wendy to do his her best Hilary Clinton imitation in his defense, something she swore she would never do. One can only imagine what price she extracted from the Republican pussy hound to say what she did. It is obvious from this video at Crooks & Liars which one is the man in the family.

Monday Music Blogging

My song to Our Dear Embattled Leader





And yes, that is what we watched on TV 40 years ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A very worthwhile cause ;-p


What is CNN telling us?

Headline on CNN online
U.S. touts progress as Baghdad bomb kills 10
The article from the AP also notes another 18 deaths, but we got progress according to some admiral and should be able to turn things over to Iraqi security forces in another Friedman Unit or two. The unspoken assumption is that more of the Iraqi forces haven't started shooting at us.




Click image for larger version

A: Our Dear Embattled Leader

Q: What do you call a Republican who loses the support of military families?

Not only has he lost the support of the American people, according to the latest NYT/CBS poll 74% think the war is going badly, but a poll taken in May shows 53% of military families feel the same way.
Penny Preszler, 46, a furniture refurbisher in Phoenix, said she had stopped wearing red on Fridays as she had done for the past year to honor the war effort. “It was when my son started saying he wished he could be injured so he could come home,” Ms. Preszler said.

“There was no pride left in his voice, just this robotic sense of despair,” she said, describing a telephone conversation with her son, Skyler, 24, an infantryman on his second tour of duty in Iraq. “Mom, we killed women on the street today. We killed kids on bikes. We had no choice,” she recounted his saying.

The same week, she said, her son told her he thought he had seen the worst when he had to pick up the body parts of his dead buddy, but then he saw an Iraqi boy picking up what was left of his dead father.
And consider this conversation between a Marine getting ready to deploy to Iraq and her Marine husband who is currently in Iraq.
“He started telling me that he doesn’t want me to go and do the things he has been doing,” said Corporal Ponce De Leon, 22, speaking by telephone as she boxed up her belongings in their apartment near Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“He said that ‘we have all decided that it’s time for us to go home.’ I said, ‘You mean go home and rest?’ And he said, ‘I mean go home and not go back.’

“This is from someone who has been training for the past nine years to go to combat and who has spent his whole life wanting to be a marine,” she continued. “That’s when I realized I couldn’t support the war anymore, even though I will follow my orders.”
These are the people that Republicans in Congress should be listening to, the people who have a very large individual stake in what happens in Iraq and in Congress. The people who can no longer be reliably counted on to vote Republican. These are the people that Karl Rove can't replace.

The Air Force just couldn't resist

Which would explain its increased presence in Iraq, including B1-B bombers. Despite everybody knowing that a 500 lb bomb is not a great way to get that pesky insurgent hiding in a house full of Iraqis, they just couldn't let the ground pounders get all the glory. And they get to use all the high priced hardware that just sitting around. And just in time, the Bushoviks have taken to calling every dead Iraqi an al-Qaeda, including numerous 3rd ranking leaders. It is the best of all worlds for the flyboys.

UPDATE: The Air Force will even explore the possibility of replacing their current anthem (Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder) with that timeless Styx hit, Mr Roboto.

What are friends for?

If not to provide the "suiciders" so dear to the heart of Our Dear Embattled Leader. According to US and Iraqi sources, the largest portion of the bombers comes from the folks who give Dick Cheney his marching orders.
About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.
The Saudis say they are doing all they can to stop this flow of bomber fodder, but others see a more self serving reason behind their inability to stop them.
Others contend that Saudi Arabia is allowing fighters sympathetic to Al Qaeda to go to Iraq so they won't create havoc at home...

....Askari also alleged that imams at Saudi mosques call for jihad, or holy war, against Iraq's Shiites and that the government had funded groups causing unrest in Iraq's largely Shiite south. Sunni extremists regard Shiites as unbelievers.
This seems far more valid as it lets the Saudis kill two birds with one stone, as well as a lot of Shiites. Dick Cheney is not expected to do anything to alter this situation that favors his masters.

Our Dear Embattled Leader to veto State Children's Health Insurance Program

After overseeing an increase in both the number of families below the poverty line and the number of families without health insurance during his 6 year reign, Our Dear Embattled Leader sees no need to increase the funding for a program that provides some health coverage to children of families without it and at the urging of his "senior advisors", (Dick Cheney), has declared he will veto the bill working through Congress, despite bipartisan support..

Spending $12 BILLION a month on his war of choice is A-OK with him, but health insurance for kids funded by a tax increase on cigarettes is bad. No doubt he subscribes to the stern western philosophy of John Chivington who famously stated it when asked by his militiamen if they should kill Indian children, "Nits make lice".

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I have found myself

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Another sign of success in Iraq.

From McClatchy:
The dress code at the Blue Star restaurant inside Baghdad’s Green Zone now calls for vest and hat.

Flak vest and Kevlar helmet, to be precise. And it’s a good thing.

At least four mortar rounds hit inside the Green Zone about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, killing two Iraqi civilians, according to a U.S. soldier who could not speak for attribution because he’s not authorized to talk to reporters.

Meanwhile, a State Department official, after initially denying that State had ordered its 1,000 Baghdad personnel to wear protective gear, said that a copy of the order obtained by McClatchy was an undiscussable security breach.

Saturday’s attack followed a barrage of up to 35 mortars and rockets that slammed into the Green Zone _ considered the safest place in Baghdad _ on Wednesday.

The embassy issued its memo later that day.
Does Brooks Brothers make a pin striped Kevlar pot and a button down vest?

Nick Anderson shows us how to Feel Good


Quote of the Day

George Walker Bush will leave his successor a mess of astonishing proportions to clean up. Our moral capital is diminished. Our leadership on the world stage is distrusted. Our health care system is broken. Our people are dispirited. Our planet is sick. Our children are dying in a stupid, useless war.

And I’m supposed to give a rat’s hairy hiney about Barack Obama’s middle name? Give me a break! I wouldn’t care if his middle name was Ignatz. I wouldn’t care if it was Shirley.
Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald columnist, giving his opinion on wingnut name games.

Maliki to Bush: Ok, you can go now.

The AP is reporting that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the government can survive without the US. Mind you, he is not saying it will be easy, but they can do it.
"We are not talking about a government in a stable political environment but one in the shadow of huge challenges," al-Maliki said. "So when we talk about the presence of some negative points in the political process, that's fairly natural."

Al-Maliki said his government needs "time and effort" to enact the political reforms that Washington seeks - "particularly since the political process is facing security, economic and services pressures, as well as regional and international interference."

But he said if necessary, Iraqi police and soldiers could fill the void left by the departure of coalition forces.

"We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want," he said.
The article goes on the indicate that this position arises from some sharp disagreements over strategies and tactics employed by the US troops, including arming groups who will, initially, fight al-Qaeda in Iraq. Wherever it is coming from, it is just that much more that Our Dear Embattled Leader will have to pooh-pooh to keep the troops in Iraq until January 2009.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bill Moyers Journal


We have met the enemy

And they are the guys we trained last month. In a report of the violence in Iraq, the NY Times leads with the only newsworthy event.
In a rare battle between American and uniformed Iraqi forces, United States troops backed by fighter jets killed six Iraqi policemen and seven gunmen during a predawn raid in which they captured a rogue police lieutenant, the military said Friday.
After a moment of excitement about a possible Iran connection, the report settles back into the the tried and true details of a day in Iraq.
A security official in the town of Muqdadiya in Diyala Province said seven men were killed Friday when gunmen attacked a house in the nearby village of Harbitila. The Iraqi Army also confirmed that a roadside bomb had killed a senior officer, Col. Abdul-Kareem Hameed, and three of his guards near Muqdadiya.

Farther south, in Wasit Province, the police found three unidentified bodies in the Tigris River. All were wearing civilian clothes, had been shot and showed signs of torture.

In eastern Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said five guards manning towers around the ministry had been killed in an insurgent attack with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. Nine guards were wounded. The compound is near the Finance Ministry headquarters, from which five Britons were abducted two months ago by kidnappers posing as government officials and police officers.

The body of Khalid W. Hassan, an Iraqi journalist working for The New York Times, was found in the Saydia district of southwest Baghdad on Friday....

....Also in Saydia, police officials said they had found about half a dozen bodies, including those of an 11-year-old girl and two women. All had been blindfolded, bound and shot in the head. A car bomb also exploded in the area, killing two civilians.

The Iraqi police reported finding 21 unidentified bodies in Baghdad on Friday. Although the body count in such suspected sectarian killings has dropped since the start of the latest Baghdad security plan in February, in recent days the police have reported finding 20 to 30 bodies daily.

Mortar shells fired yesterday afternoon at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and American Embassy, killed a senior Iraqi military officer, according to Iraqi Army officials.
The sectarian killings have found a new level, another mortar attack in the Green Zone and the Interior Minstry, IN BAGHDAD, was attacked with RPG's and machine guns. And Our Dear Embattled Leader is the only one who still thinks it will get better if we stay.

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