Sunday, December 31, 2006

Names and Faces

This is a hell of a way to begin the new year, The NY Times has an interactive feature online that lets you put a face and a name on every DoD identified death in Iraq. This should not be for normal people. This should be required reading for Our Dear Leader. Maybe it would help him Decide. If he cared.

EXTRA: And if that does not touch you, there is this article. I can think of only two hearts that would not be touched by this, one has a pacemaker and the other has been dead to humanity since his sister died.

Rummy & Saddam and a bunch of other people

Robert Fisk has the details.

Riverbend blogs the end of Saddam

And she is outraged. But you can read that yourself, along with her justifiable MSM criticisms. What caught my eye was her question at the end of her post.
One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?
Sadly, none of the above, but they will probably all get a ceremonial piece of the rope, mounted on an elegant mahogony plaque with an engraved plate. And the the thanks of a grateful Bush.

It's official now

The death of a Texas soldier, announced Sunday by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to at least 3,000, according to an Associated Press count, since the war began in March 2003.

A man who identified himself only as Dave sits among the gravestones of U.S. military who died in Iraq at Arlington National Cemetery, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006 in Arlington, Va. October, it was a particularly bloody month for U.S. troops in Iraq with 105 American deaths. (AP Photo/Chris Greenberg)

Quote of the Day

“We have tried again and again to have a say in the process. But we learned pretty early on that these were kangaroo courts.”
Barbara Olshansky, a lawyer who has coordinated much of the work of the [Guantanamo] detainees’ lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights

Saddam is dead and life goes on in Iraq

Across the country Saturday, explosions killed at least 78 people, police said, including 38 who died in a double car bombing in Hurriya, a mainly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Baghdad.

Sixteen corpses were found in the capital in a 24-hour period ending Saturday. Dumped bodies, often showing signs of torture, have been a signature of Shiite death squads.

Batting cleanup in a bloody mess

The Boston Globe has a long feature on the 399th Combat Support Hospital. Their work is now saving the lives of 90% of all US troops who reach them alive. They also work on any Iraqi brought into their facilities. And their facilities are close enough to the bad guys to come under attack from mortars and even a ground assault. And day after day they do their job, whenever the call comes.
The mass casualty call to action is the most dreaded in combat medicine. For sheer heart-cracking urgency, its only rival is the siren blare that warns of imminent incoming shellfire or rockets. Since arriving in Iraq in early October, the doctors, nurses, medics, and techs of the 399th Combat Support Hospital, a Massachusetts-based Army Reserve unit, have become intimately familiar with both signals.

They've handled scores of hideously wounded casualties so fresh from the battlefield that the stench of explosive still clings to skin and red-hot fragments of shrapnel sizzle and pop in torn flesh. And they've scrambled for cover behind sandbags or into concrete bunkers to the soul-jarring whump of mortar rounds "walking" the compound, and the rip-roar of automatic weapons at the far perimeter wire.

"You listen for sounds like you've never listened in your life," said Captain Kathy Ryland, 42, a trauma nurse from Camas, Wash. "You learn fast to recognize the difference between a shell blast that's too near and one that's too far away to matter. You live by speed because you can die by slow. That's true for saving our patients. That's true for saving ourselves."

They've treated young American soldiers punctured by bullets. They've treated the insurgents who pulled the triggers. They've treated Iraqi police cut down by roadside bombs. They've treated school kids blown up for what's become the cardinal sin in this suffering land -- being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And they and others like them still have to do this job because Our Dear Leader is still dithering about how to avoid admitting he was wrong, dead wrong in everything he did in Iraq. Perhaps he might want to consider this quote from Colonel Joseph Blansfield, the 399th's chief registered nurse.
"Heard about the glory of war? You're looking at it. This is the ground truth."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Interior is dark and dirty

Dark as oil and as dirty as a hog wallow. The latest in a series of investigations into Interior Dept management reveals some good ol' boys & girls doing bidness the old fashioned way. The NY Times has the details.
The Justice Department is investigating whether the director of a multibillion-dollar oil-trading program at the Interior Department has been paid as a consultant for oil companies hoping for contracts.

The director of the program and three subordinates, all based in Denver, have been transferred to different jobs and have been ordered to cease all contacts with the oil industry until the investigation is completed some time next spring, according to officials involved.
But really, this is a Republican administration, did anyone expect anything else from this crew?

Quote of the Day

"The Americans want him to be hanged respectfully,"
Najeeb al-Nueimi, a member of Saddam's legal team

A Passing Thought

While listening to the news on the radio, I heard someone refer to Our Dear Leader meeting with his "War Cabinet". And I thought, in passing, that here was Our Great Decider meeting with Crazy Dick, Imelda Rice and Hadley Lamarr, the very folks who were absolutely positive that invading Iraq was the perfect foreign policy move. These are the people who are supposed to admit that their best idea was a total disaster and come up with a new and improved way to success. And then the thought passed and I returned to my research on getting blood from a stone. My chances of success are much better than theirs.

Death does not take a holiday

And so the numbers of dead just keep on coming, Eid al-Adha or no.
The U.S. military also announced the deaths of three Marines and three soldiers, making December the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq, with 109 service members killed.

The bombing at the fish market in Kufa, a Shiite town about 100 miles south of the Iraqi capital, killed 31 people and wounded 58, said Issa Mohammed, director of the morgue in the neighboring town of Najaf. The man blamed for parking the vehicle was cornered and killed by a mob as he walked away from the explosion, police and witnesses said....

....In northwest Baghdad, two parked cars exploded one after another, killing 37 civilians and wounding 76 in a mixed neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, police said....

....On Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people near a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, and 32 tortured bodies were found across the country.
And so it goes, the bombings, the murders and the US forces in the middle preventing anyone from dominating and establishing whatever new order will ultimately succeed. But Our Dear Deciderer spent a whole 3 hours Friday working on his new way to stay the course. And cementing his legacy of failure in Iraq in place for eternity.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dept of Homeland Insecurity fails again

And for the second time in recent weeks the vessel of their failure was the Coast Guard. This time they were trying to create a traffic control system similar to that used in aviation.
The Coast Guard installed long-range surveillance cameras, coastal radar and devices that automatically identify approaching vessels to help search out possible threats.

But the radar, it turns out, confuses waves with boats. The cameras cover just a sliver of the harbor and coasts. And only a small fraction of vessels can be identified automatically.

Officials acknowledge the limited progress that the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard have made toward creating a viable defense here in Miami or at harbors nationwide against a maritime attack, despite the billions of dollars invested since 2001.
So a lot of Republican cronies were enriched for selling junk to the government. Our tax dollars continue to be pissed away on grandiose failures. In the real world, heck even in the corporate world, this level of failure would get you fired. In Bushsylvania DC they are probably already engraving Chertoff's Medal of Freedom.

Saddam Hussein dead at 69

Saddam Hussein, the dictator who led this country through 24 years of brutality, war and bombast before American forces chased him from his capital city and captured him in a filthy pit near his hometown, was hanged just before dawn during the morning call to prayer here on Saturday
And before him, almost 3000 American troops have died, God knows how many more will follow. And despite this, the Republicans are still the ones who lost the war.

And the latest from inside Iraq

Riverbend, because you need to know.

I hope Laura had her ruby red slippers on

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush were moved to an armored vehicle on their ranch Friday when a tornado warning was issued in central Texas, the White House said.

The vehicle was driven to a tornado shelter on the ranch at 1:30 p.m. CST, and the president, Mrs. Bush and their two Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley, sat inside until the weather cleared, deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said. They were never moved into the shelter, he said. The shelter is a few hundred yards away from the president's house on the ranch.
Oh, how the mind conjures images of Pickles and Bushie, enjoying a few "sundowners" as the wind howls outside the shelter.

You think, so he doesn't have to

“It’s important for the American people to understand success in Iraq is vital for our own security.”
Our Dear Embattled Leader, once again failing to explain why he never understood its importance. That may be the reason the Republicans lost the war in Iraq.

A river runs through it

It being Iraq and the LA Times details the story of the Tigris river patrol. For the most part they have become fishers of men and women and children.
Divers call it "the burial ground," an impenetrably dark stretch of the Tigris River, about 20 feet deep, passing through the heart of Baghdad.

Cruising the river on a recent day strapped into life jackets that double as body armor, members of Baghdad's river patrol pointed to bridges near where they swam as children and now recover the city's dead.

"Violence, terror — it is part of what is going on here in Iraq," said a river patrol captain who would not give his name, fearing that insurgents in his neighborhood would discover that he works with the police. He said he gave up swimming in the river years ago and bought a pool.

The patrol's commander, Lt. Col. Alaa Saleh Ibrahim, has learned this much patrolling the stretch of muddy river the last two years: It takes at least 10 days for bodies to surface in winter. Men float faceup, women facedown.

Fishermen find bodies tangled in the 10-foot-tall green reeds that line the sandy banks.

"This month we are relieved," Ibrahim said. "We don't have so many dead bodies."
Saddam set up the first patrol to clean up the bodies and we had to set up a second patrol to do the same when we took over. Nice legacy you got there Georgie Boy. Too bad you lost your wars.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

“When they are conducting armed aggression against the population, that is where we try and step in and stop it,” he said, adding that when the groups fight one another, “We sit back and watch because that can only benefit us.”
Lt. Col. Steven Miska, the deputy commander for the Dagger Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division

Send another 30,000 troops to do this?

Inside the NY Times today is a look at what goes on at ground level with the "boots" already on the ground. It is a very good look at what Our Dear embattled Leader was calling "winning" in Baghdad.
The car parked outside was almost certainly a tool of the Sunni insurgency. It was pocked with bullet holes and bore fake license plates. The trunk had cases of unused sniper bullets and a notice to a Shiite family telling them to abandon their home.

“Otherwise, your rotten heads will be cut off,” the note read.

The soldiers who came upon the car in a Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad were part of a joint American and Iraqi patrol, and the Americans were ready to take action. The Iraqi commander, however, taking orders by cellphone from the office of a top Sunni politician, said to back off: the car’s owner was known and protected at a high level.

For Maj. William Voorhies, the American commander of the military training unit at the scene, the moment encapsulated his increasingly frustrating task — trying to build up Iraqi security forces who themselves are being used as proxies in a spreading sectarian war. This time, it was a Sunni politician — Vice Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie — but the more powerful Shiites interfered even more often.

“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said.
WTF are we wasting our Army in this shithole for. Li'l Georgie started it for no good reason and only the Iraqi's can finish it. And that won't happen until we get out of the way. Escalating our troop presence will just prolong the agony. The Republicans lost this war and no good will come from getting more Americans killed.

Tom Toles Thursday

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Dear Embattled Leader lawyers up.

Because you never know what those Democrats will do when they get them some subpoena power.

sub·poe·na (sə-pē'nə) pronunciation

A writ requiring appearance in court to give testimony.
tr.v., -naed, -na·ing, -nas.

To serve or summon with such a writ.

from Medieval Latin sub poenā - Latin sub, under and Latin poenā, penis.

Which means they have you by the balls.

What they really mean

The junior varsity PR guy for the Crawford Crew responded to Joe Biden's criticism of the upcoming escalation of troop levels in Iraq. Their response was to call for Americans to refrain from calling "Bullshit" on their bullshit until they announce their bullshit. Sounds like bullshit to me, but I am one of those 70% of Americans who believe that the Republicans have already lost the war in Iraq.

At least the Keystone Kops were funny

The Department of Homeland Security said yesterday that it is investigating how four handguns recently went missing from its headquarters in Northwest Washington.

In the news today 70 people died

One was Gerald Ford, 38th President, and the rest were nameless except to their families.
The U.S. command reported three American military deaths Wednesday, bringing the U.S. death toll for December to 93 in one of the bloodiest months for U.S. troops this year. Some 105 soldiers and Marines were killed in October, according to an AP count....

...Two Latvian soldiers were also killed and three were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded under their Humvee, the Latvian Defense Ministry said. It was unclear where the incident took place, but Latvia has about 130 soldiers serving in Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad.

A top aide to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was killed in a raid by U.S. troops Wednesday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, an Iraqi lawmaker said....

....Violence struck Baghdad again Wednesday, with a car bomb killing eight civilians and wounding 10 near an Iraqi army checkpoint. Four more civilians died in a mortar attack in a Shiite neighborhood, and police found the bodies of 51 apparent victims of sectarian killings.
May they all Rest In Peace.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tom Toles Tuesday

Monday, December 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

“I think he knows it’s bad over there,but I’m not quite sure he fully appreciates the incompetence of what’s gone on.”
Anonymous friend, speaking of Dear Leader's awareness about Iraq, in spite of the fact that he does read newspapers.

Merry Christmas to all our taxpayers.

The Washington Post revealed details of an audit of a Defense Dept procurement relationship with the Interior Dept. The initial effort was legal and above board but as the audit reveals, it soon sank into the standard Bushovik mess of incompetence and corruption.
Defense turned to Interior, which manages federal lands and resources, in an effort to speed up its contracting. Interior is one of several government agencies allowed to manage contracts for other agencies in exchange for a fee.

But the arrangement between Interior and Defense "routinely violated rules designed to protect U.S. Government interests," according to draft audit documents obtained by The Washington Post.

More than half of the contracts examined were awarded without competition or without checks to determine that the prices were reasonable, according to the audits by the inspectors general for Defense (DOD) and Interior (DOI). Ninety-two percent of the work reviewed was awarded without verifying that the contractors' cost estimates were accurate; 96 percent was inadequately monitored.

In one instance, Interior officials bought armor to reinforce Army vehicles from a software maker. In another, Interior bought furniture for Defense from a company that apparently had not previously been in the furniture business. One contract worth $100 million, to lease office space for a top-secret intelligence unit in Northern Virginia, was awarded without competition. Defense auditors said that deal cost taxpayers millions more than necessary, and they have referred the matter for possible criminal investigation.
Armor from a software maker, must be pretty high-tech stuff! But sadly, it gets worse.
Defense paid Interior management fees of up to 4 percent for everything from pistol holsters to intelligence consultants to office leases. The Defense inspector general said the Pentagon could have saved $22.8 million by using the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

The Interior inspector general said Defense "could have used these monies to purchase as many as 50,000 sets of body armor to protect our soldiers."
It will take years to repair the damage that the malevolently incompetent Bushoviks have done to the federal government. I can only hope the public realizes that the Republicans should never again be allowed to run the government.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

All I want for Christmas is


That shouldn't be so hard to find but it is. Until then I wish to you



John Kerry says it all

In an Op-Ed in the Washington Post the junior Senator from Massachusetts lays out in clear detail the disasters of Our Dear Befuddled Leader in Iraq and and points the way to possible solutions.
No one should be looking for vindication in what is happening in Iraq today. The lesson here is not that some of us were right about Iraq or that some of us were wrong. The lesson is simply that we need to change course rapidly rather than perversely use mistakes already made and lives already given as an excuse to make more mistakes and lose even more lives.

When young Americans are being killed and maimed, when the Middle East is on the brink of three civil wars, even the most vaunted "steadfastness" morphs pretty quickly into stubbornness, and resolve becomes recklessness. Changing tactics in the face of changing conditions on the ground, developing new strategies because the old ones don't work, is a hell of a lot smarter than the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again with the same tragic results.
This insanity came from following the ideas of ivory tower academics that no sane person listened to before ODBL and Crazy Dick. His solutions may be broad and general, but that is the nature of being in opposition. They are also obvious and, thanks to Li'l Georgie's resolute stupidity, untried. Mind you, these solutions need to be formulated and acted upon by ODBL which insures that nothing will be done. Because as we all know, the Republicans have lost the war in Iraq and just won't admit it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Quote of the Day

"It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven." If that's true - literally true - where do you think the leadership of the Republican Party will be spending eternity?
R J Eskow

Dastardly Dick gets a pay raise

Because we all know what a good job he is doing.

It's official now

According to the Chicago Tribune the generals have rolled over for the Bushoviks and will support an unnecessary "surge" in troops for Iraq without any supporting political strategy change.
Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George Casey and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, comes days before Bush is to unveil a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq. Bush still must address concerns among some Pentagon officials and overcome opposition from Congress, where many Democrats favor a blue-ribbon commission's recommendation for a gradual withdrawal. But the recommendation by the commanders in Iraq is significant because Bush has placed prime importance on their advice. The U.S. command in Iraq decided to recommend an increase of troops several days ago, prior to meetings in Baghdad this week with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the defense official said.
And now Bushie can pretend he is a fearsomely clever war leader, Crazy Dick Cheney can squeeze more skimmed profits from bloated government contracts, Gen Casey gets his step up in grade when he retires and many more troops and Iraqis will die for no good reason. And all because the Republicans have lost the war in Iraq and just won't admit it.

Good reads for today

Robert Scheer

Bill Moyers

Chris Floyd

Robert Koehler

They will stay in Iraq, with major cuts in their support

From the WaPo, we get this from Dear Leader.
President Bush on Saturday told troops who are spending Christmas far from their families that "the coming year will bring change" _ but no reduction in support for their service and sacrifice.
To paraphrase John Mitchell, Attorney General for Richard Nixon and chairman of CREEP; Watch what they do, not what they say.

This is amazing!

The smallest form of life known to science just got smaller.

Four million of a newly discovered microbe — assuming the discovery, reported yesterday in the journal Science, is confirmed — could fit into the period at the end of this sentence.

Scientists found the microbes living in a remarkably inhospitable environment, drainage water as caustic as battery acid from a mine in Northern California. The microbes, members of an ancient family of organisms known as archaea, formed a pink scum on green pools of hot mine water laden with toxic metals, including arsenic.
When I first read this, I thought they were talking about the discovery of the origins of the modern Republican party. Where the scum was found would explain the Republican hostility to environmental laws.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Juan Cole "puts paid" to village idiot Virgil Goode

And he does so with the words of true Americans who, having been instrumental in the founding of this country, can speak to the basis of America in a way that a bigoted asshole like Virgil will never understand.
"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

Merry Christmas Mr. Bush

Insurgent attacks killed five more American troops west of the Iraqi capital, the military said Friday, making December the second deadliest month for U.S. servicemen in 2006.

So far this month, 76 American troops have died in Iraq, the same number that were killed in all of April. With nine days remaining in December, the monthly total of U.S. deaths could meet or exceed the death toll of 105 in October.
Our Dear Witless Wonder is making sure his Secretary of State and "office wife" gets a good return on her investment.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bill Schorr rings true

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Unfortunately, it is troubling to see that he still does not understand the need for urgent change in Iraq. The president seems lost within his own rhetoric. He is grasping for a victory his current policies have put out of reach and leaving our troops stuck policing a civil war."
Sen. Harry Reed D-NV noting that Our Dear Obdurate Leader is still delusional about most everything.

MoDo pops the question

It takes her awhile but she finally gets it out in the end.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Good news and bad news

The good news first, from all the news sources (AP here) we learn that Crazy Dick Cheney will testify in the Irv Libby spy trial. He will be called as a witness for the defense and so far no words of complaint. We will just wait and see.

From the witness we go to the witless, we learn from the WaPo that Our Dear Challenged Leader will be expanding the Army. One could say he has finally, after four years of Iraq and countless years prior to that wishing for Iraq, figured out that he needs more troops to fufill their mission. But since they have no mission except to be targets, the real reason is to enable him to ignore all calls for a withdrawal by having enough troops to prevent the total collapse of the Army and Marine Corps. Because as we all know:


And Little Georgie just has to wait out two more years and then he can go home and nobody can touch him.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Our Dear Leader polishes his legacy

An legacy that enshrines as its Great Shining Moment the total failure of his Glorious Little War in Iraq. And his latest embellishment was released by the Pentagon today.
Attacks in Iraq on U.S.-led forces, local security personnel and civilians have surged 22 percent to record levels, the Pentagon said in its latest quarterly report on Iraq published on Monday.

The report also noted a rise in civilian casualties and said this was directly linked to the rise of sectarian death squads, which were helped by elements of Iraqi forces....

....The average number of attacks per week rose to 959 in the three months from August 12 to November 10, from 784 in the previous three months,
And so boys and girls, our lesson for today from Dear Leader's legacy is simple:


Beware the Fool Whisperer

Froomkin points out the obvious today. It has long been known that Our Dear Befuddled Leader generally acts on the last advice given him. Sadly, his constant attendance on ODBL usually makes Crazy Dick Cheney the last one.
Whose advice does President Bush take most seriously on Iraq?

If the goal is figuring out which way the president is headed, the press corps could do the public a big favor by reporting on who is whispering in his ear.

Most likely, the chief whisperer is Vice President Cheney -- in which case the back-and-forth over whether Bush will change course is sort of pointless. Bush has made some pretty dramatic about-faces in the past. The same cannot be said of the vice president.
Crazy Dick has played the Evil Vizier role to perfection, making himself indispensable to the Fool-In Chief. The question that begs to be answered is what does he get from it. Unless you believe that he has been driven mad by his lust for power, you have to ask why he keeps pushing the F-I-C into the black hole of Iraq. Is Crazy Dick so blinded by ideology that he can not see the impending Thermidorean reaction that his efforts will bring? Maybe some day we will know this. Until then we can only hope for a short circuit.

Can the Bushoviks be any more incompetent?

After putting together a new manual for counter-insurgency warfare in Iraq, having forgotten all they learned in Viet Nam, the brilliant folks in charge at the Pentagon posted the entire thing on the web. All 282 pages. Out there for anyone, soldier, sailor, marine or jihadi to see.

Why do they hate America?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A law unto themselves

One night in mid-April, the steel door clanked shut on detainee No. 200343 at Camp Cropper, the United States military’s maximum-security detention site in Baghdad.

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.

The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.
What happened after this is absolutely disgusting. Vance is an American citizen who was working with the FBI at the time. Had he been an Iraqi one has to wonder if he would have ever been seen or heard from again. Joe Stalin and even Vladimir Putin would be quite comfortable with a system like this. Probably their only quibble would be the failure of the Army to put a bullet in the back of his head instead of letting him phone home.

Quote of the Day

Iraq after Saddam presented a unique opportunity to steer history on a new course. But instead the Bush administration drove it into a ditch.
Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek

From the pen of Nick Anderson.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

That was the message delivered by British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he dropped in unannounced in Iraq. The official reason was to discuss the handover to Iraqi forces as the Brits buggered out. Coincidentally he was in town for another big event.
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain pledged his support for the Iraqi government in a surprise visit here on Sunday. Less than a mile from where he spoke, gunmen in police uniforms seized 25 employees of an Iraqi aid organization.
And wouldn't you know it, that was the event that got all the press. The life of a poodle can be a real bitch sometimes.

Pure Cloud-Cuckoo-Land

From the ever-willing-to-get-other-Americans-killed Fred Barnes comes this piece of news that belongs more to the Twilight Zone than current US policy. Writing about Our Dear Slaphappy Leader's continuing quest for the Holy Grail in Iraq, "We're going to win.", Fred lets us in on this bit of inside information.
Last Monday Bush was, at last, briefed on an actual plan for victory in Iraq, one that is likely to be implemented. Retired General Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army, gave him a thumbnail sketch of it during a meeting of five outside experts at the White House.
So, after Iraq has lasted longer than US involvement in WW II, after losing 2900+ US troops and unknown thousands of Iraqis, pissing away Hundreds of Billions of Borrowed Dollars, ODSL finally has a PLAN! A real live plan to do something about his Favorite Little War. Well slap my ass and call me Sally! I never thought the little peckerwood could get this far.

Random thoughts right on target

Posted at PEJ News is a good review of the failings of Our Dear Contemptible Leader and his gloriously failed foreign policy by Jack Random. Well worth the read.
We can continue to debate the finer points of the Iraq Study Group recommendations but it will be a purely intellectual exercise until we recognize the albatross in the room.

The president is not only unwilling to seek a negotiated withdrawal, he is incapable of doing so. His credibility in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq has gone beyond absolute zero. He believes he is still in a position to make demands when the very ground upon which he stands is erupting in flames.

The New Augean Stables

That wonderful Toledo Blade has two articles this weekend that point to large piles of ordure that need to be cleaned up in Ohio. The picture is clear, Governor-elect Strickland has his work cut out for him. With a diligent effort, Ohio should be blue for some time to comes.
Tom Noe gave about $50,000 to the wife of U.S. Sen. George Voinovich's longtime friend, personal accountant, and campaign treasurer, according to records from his criminal trial.

In 1998, when Mr. Voinovich was governor, Noe received the first $25 million to invest in rare coins from the state. That same year, Laura and Vincent Panichi began donating to Mr. Voinovich's Senate campaign. They gave $12,000 to his campaigns through 2005, according to Federal Election Commission records.
And from the Bureau of Workmens Compensation comes this little bit.
The bureau — under fire for the past 20 months because of corruption in its investment department and accusations of waste in its managed care program — has a disturbing history of secrecy and a failure to police itself, said state Sen. Marc Dann, a Democrat who becomes Ohio’s attorney general next month.

The problems are rooted in the administration of former Republican Gov. George Voinovich — who trashed the bureau in his 1990 gubernatorial campaign as the “silent killer of jobs” and then used it to pump money into the state GOP machine, Mr. Dann said.
The Democrats should be able to keep the courts busy for a long time.

Pander bears

Jonathan Chait takes a look at the "Great Suck-Up" now taking place among the GOP hopefuls in the preznitential preliminaries. Through it all, he is, perhaps, kinder in his writing than he should be.
LOOKING OVER the field of potential Republican presidential candidates, one odd thing jumps out at me: Most of them have expressed deep hostility to the religious right's point of view in the past, and several of them are now insisting that they didn't mean a word of it.

One way to look at this is to conclude that they all said or did things they didn't mean, or that they have genuinely come around to the social conservative position. Oddly enough, this is the interpretation many social conservatives seem inclined to accept.

Or there's the other, more logical interpretation: The Republican Party's governing class is deeply hostile to social conservatism, and its leaders manage to fool the base over and over again.
There is no way of looking at the front runners, Romney and McCain, without making them look bad. They were lying then or they are lying now. Neither one should be a socially or politically acceptable position for a president, conservative or otherwise.

History does repeat itself.

Consider this from Daniel Whitaker, writing in the Sunday Observer.
The US is embroiled in an ill-considered occupation of a distant land; an initial welcome turned to violence amid human rights violations; it will be many years before extrication is possible. Not Iraq today, but the Philippines a century ago, an eerie parallel which might have provided valuable lessons.
It "might have provided valuable lessons" to someone who got better than a C+ in history.

Will the real Dear Leader step forward?

The Washington Post has a confused little piece today that attempts to discern whether Our Dear Obdurate Leader will change his mind on Iraq. The article is a ping-pong piece that bounces back and forth between opinions for both sides. There is one good point in it, however.
"I just don't believe that this president, with this vice president whispering in his ear every moment, is oriented to change," said retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in Bush's first term.
And so the Big Fool says to push on and will continue to do so because it is not his mind that needs changing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Scarecrow has a Modest Proposal

Over at Firedoglake Scarecrow has, in the best tradition of Jonathan Swift, attempted to post a satirical look at Our Dear Embungled Leader's desire to cement his reputation as the worst president ever.
I propose we unify Iraqis by encouraging them to stop shooting at each other and start shooting at us. Every time they start shooting at each other, we need to step right in the middle, to draw their fire away from each other. If we’re good at this, everyone will be shooting at Americans. That will reduce the number of Iraqis who have a grudge against other Iraqis; the sectarian hatred will lessen.

To succeed at this, we’ll need to arm and train the Iraqi forces, because when they shoot at the Americans, we don’t want untrained Iraqis accidentally killing each other instead. Embedding US advisers in Iraqi's forces will also help, and so will losing billions worth of weapons to the black market, where they can be distributed more efficiently.

We'll need to surge more troops into Baghdad to make sure we can get into the middle of every Iraqi firefight. And we should also expand the Marines and Army and make it easier to send our Reserves and National Guard, in case we have to “double down,” because we don’t want our policy to fail just ‘cause we ran out of troops to be shot at.
It is a valiant effort but for satire to succeed it should be seen as supporting an opposite viewpoint. Merely presenting Our Dear Befuddled Leader's grand strategy in Iraq in an almost verbatim manner, sadly, does not work.

Robert Fisk may wear his heart on his sleeve

But that does not, in any way, lessen the truth of what he writes.

Quote of the Day

About 40 percent of my unit were stop-lossed. Their first mission was to take down Saddam and his regime, and they seemed to understand that and agree with the mission to take down a ruthless dictator. Now they can't seem to understand why they are there, caught in the cross hairs of a civil war.
"Rebecca"--26 years old. 101st Airborne, US Army

More fun & games at Interior

Following on reports of billions in uncollected royalties and faulty oil & gas leases on public land comes the latest report that criminality may be involved. The NY Times has the latest details of what is happening in the oil bidness.
The Justice Department has begun two criminal investigations into the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, which is already the focus of several inquiries into its collection of royalties for oil and gas produced on federal property....

...The investigations are an unexpected development in what has already become a broad examination of the Interior Department’s oversight of companies that pump more than $60 billion worth of oil and gas each year from publicly owned land and coastal waters.
This comes as no surprise but it remains to be seen if the investigation gets more than a few low level fall guys. Given this administrations record of criminality, it should make the Teapot Dome look like a tempest in a teapot.

Bushoviks subordinate science to policy, again.

This time it is the U.S. Geological Survey that has to toe the ideology line. Of course the Bushoviks say this isn't so, but given their track record it takes a lot of Kool Aid to believe them. Consider this:
The new requirements state that the USGS's communications office must be "alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature."

The agency's director, Mark Myers, and its communications office also must be told — prior to any submission for publication — "of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed."

Patrick Leahy, USGS's head of geology and its acting director until September, said Wednesday that the new procedures would improve scientists' accountability and "harmonize" the review process. He said they are intended to maintain scientists' neutrality.
Harmony may make politicians happy and it certainly thrills ideologues but it does not work to the advancement of scientific knowledge. It does prevent the embaressment of disclosing the crackpot nature of Bushovik science and administration.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Consider this

The next time a Republican declares any government program too expensive and wasteful.
Spending on Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terror would reach a record $170 billion in fiscal 2007 under the latest U.S. Defense Department emergency spending request.

The military's request for $99.7 billion more in funding comes on top of the $70 billion that Congress approved in September and is 45 percent higher than the $117 billion in supplemental funding approved last year.
And this is just 1 year.

Quote of the Day

Bush hears many opinions and thus believes that "his knowledge is more complete than anyone who is advising him."
Andrew Card, former chief of staff for "The Decider"

Our Dear Pig-Headed Leader Listens to his Generals

But that does not mean that he pays any attention to what they say, unless they say what he wants to hear. Witness the current move toward implementation of the "Surge" troop buildup in Iraq.
Military planners and White House budget analysts have been asked to provide President Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 or more. The request indicates that the option of a major “surge” in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review, senior administration officials said Friday.

Discussion of increasing the number of American troops, at least temporarily, has coursed through Washington for two months, as a possible way to reverse the deteriorating security situation in Baghdad. But the decision to ask the Joint Chiefs of Staff to specify where the additional forces could be found among overstretched Army, Marine and National Guard units, and to seek a cost estimate from the White House Office of Management and Budget, signifies a turn in the debate.
And despite several prominent generals in and out of Iraq saying there was no value to increased troop levels now, it seems that ODPL has found some generals who do say what he likes to hear.
But Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who is assuming day-to-day command of American troops in Iraq from Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, is said to be sympathetic to the idea.

The surge proposal has also gained greater support among recently retired officers who served in Iraq, particularly if carried out as part of a broader political and economic strategy.
Note the conditional. Something that will be casually ignored by ODPL and his evil minions. The only lasting result will be increased casualties and the cementing of George W. Bush's legacy as the Worst President Ever.

Rummy leaves

And got a taxpayer funded farewell at the Pentagon on his way out. In his farewell speech he mixed the usual Bushovik cocktail of stupidity and Cheneyisms (is that redundant?) with a pugnacious tone. There were no new Donny quotes.
“Today it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, “but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well.”

In a clear shot at those considering an American withdrawal from Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld said, “A conclusion by our enemies that the United States lacks the will or the resolve to carry out missions that demand sacrifice and demand patience is every bit as dangerous as an imbalance of conventional military power.”

Mr. Rumsfeld has overseen the war in Iraq since the American invasion of March 2003. He spoke after receiving full honors on the Pentagon grounds on his last day of work there. The ceremonies began with a 19-gun salute before he walked the grounds to inspect representatives from all of the branches of the military gathered before him in formation in dress uniforms.
Alas, the door did not him in the ass on his way out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tom Toles Today

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Our Dear Leader by Sargent and Lukovich

Bush suffers major attack of the "slows"

With the only real purpose of putting off the possibility of his having to say he was wrong about Iraq. Despite havinf 2/3's of all Americans wanting to pull out of Iraq, Our Dear Incontinent Leader is determined never to say the W word.
Bush said, "I'm not going to be rushed into making a difficult decision, a necessary decision, to say to our troops, 'We're going to give you the tools necessary to succeed and a strategy to help you succeed.'"
This means that no matter how many people he may pretend to listen to, the only real result from ODIL will be the command to stay the course, with some fancy new words pasted over it to look new and improved.

And in the meantime, at least 55 more people died in Iraq while ODIL tries to learn about the war he started 4 years ago. But there is no need to rush.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The people really, really want a change.

Nearly eight in 10 Americans support changing the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq from combat to support and training, as proposed by the congressionally chartered Iraq Study Group, and 69 percent agree with its goal of pulling out most combat forces by early 2008. Nearly six in 10 favor direct engagement with Iran and Syria to help resolve the conflict in Iraq, and 74 percent back reducing U.S. military and financial support if the Iraqi government fails to make progress toward national reconciliation and civil order.

Bush has not managed to win back support with his decision to oust Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld the day after the Nov. 7 elections and his promise to develop "a new strategy" in Iraq, the poll found. Bush's approval rating stands at 36 percent, down four points from just before the elections and the second-worst of his presidency. Just 28 percent approve of his handling of Iraq, the lowest since the invasion of March 2003.
Makes me wonder what the rest of the folks are smoking.

Monday, December 11, 2006

One way to say thank you

Support the veterans who've served our country by sending them a phone card so they can call their loved ones over the holidays.

Veterans Administration (VA) budget cuts in recent years have left many of our nation's veterans at VA hospitals without the means to call their families over the holidays. These long distance calls are generally not covered by the VA, and many vets just don't have the financial resources to call all their loved ones.

So Working Assets, Veterans for Peace, CODEPINK, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Gold Star Families for Peace have teamed up on a project to thank our veterans by sending them phone cards loaded with 125 minutes of domestic long-distance calling time. We'll purchase these cards and deliver them to VA Medical Facilities all over the country on December 18th. (If you want to join in delivering the cards to a VA hospital near you, just click on the link you'll see after making your gift.)

$10 will cover the cost of phone cards for three veterans. $20 will buy six phone cards. $33 will buy ten cards. $100 will buy phone cards for 30 veterans to call home over the holidays. 100% of your gift will go directly to buying phone cards -- so please give as generously as you can.

God and the Pentagon

This post from the Daily Kos highlights the infiltration of godless evangelicals into the military along with their conduct skirting, if not breaking, the rules. Given the Air Force involvement, it gives new meaning to the old nickname, "sky pilot". Following yesterdays expose of the godless evangelical presence in our prisons in the NY Times, we should all be very concerned.

Call and Response

From Froomkin today comes this bit of dialogue from the meeting between Our Dear Leader and Vernon Jordan of the Iraq Study Group.
"Jordan: What do you mean by victory? When my mama told me to clean the garage, I cleaned the garage because I knew what she meant. But I don't understand what you mean.

"Bush: You have to speak to the American people with a simple message here. They understand what victory is, and if you come off of it, they'll think you're giving up.
So even the ISG can't get a straight answer about what ODL wants in Iraq. And through it all Crazy Dick Cheney just sat there.
During their entire session, Vice President Dick Cheney--a key architect of the war in Iraq--never said a word. Not one."
If the junior varsity has already baffled them with bullshit, why open your mouth and give away the game.

E.coli and you

With the latest outbreak of the virulent strain of this common bacteria, there is a growing hue and cry for food safety regulation for produce nowadays. It has reached the point that even the produve industry is asking for increased regulation, if only to protect their image. And once again the culprit is lack of funding for existing inspection.
Part of the problem, critics say, is that the F.D.A.’s food safety budget has been repeatedly slashed even as the agency’s responsibilities are multiplying.
Which is kind of like saying the problem with the Hindenburg was that it was on fire.
Overall, the F.D.A.’s food safety budget has been declining for decades, with money being shifted into the agency’s oversight of drug and medical devices, said William K. Hubbard, a former F.D.A. associate commissioner. He said the portion of the budget devoted to food safety has fallen to about 25 percent from 50 percent in the early 1970s.

Operating funds for the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the division at the heart of its food safety operations, have decreased to an estimated $25 million next year from $48 million in 2003, and the number of full-time positions has fallen to 817 from 950, according to F.D.A. records.

Food inspectors are a separate part of the F.D.A. budget that was not immediately available; however, the number of inspectors has declined to 1,962 from about 2,200 in 2003, F.D.A. documents show.
With the Democrats in charge of Congress it should be easy to pass an increased budget authorization but it remains to be seen if the produce industry gives enough to the Republicans to get the White House to implement anything of value.

Niall Ferguson on the meaning of the Baker Hamilton report.

In the LA Times today he has a column with his take on the report of the Iraq Study Group. Unlike others who have read their hopes and expectations into it, he sees a call to set up the conditions for a continued US presence in Iraq.
Most commentators have interpreted the report of the Iraq Study Group as a well-crafted admission of defeat. Predictably, that was exactly how President Bush himself reacted to it. "I … believe we're going to succeed," he told reporters Thursday. "One way to assure failure is just to quit." Addressing one of the report's key recommendations, he bluntly declared that Iran and Syria "shouldn't bother to show up" for negotiations about Iraq if they don't understand their "responsibilities to not fund terrorists" and if the Iranians don't "verifiably suspend their [uranium] enrichment program."

Yet anyone who bothers to read the report carefully — as opposed to skimming the executive summary — can see that it neither proposes "quitting" Iraq nor pins serious hope on Iranian or Syrian assistance. Quite the reverse.

Persuasion in the realm of grand strategy is more a matter of rhetorical art than science. The first essential step is to identify your target audience. Most readers of the report assume that it is directed at Bush. That is wrong. Its principal target audience is Congress, and particularly the new Democratic majorities in both houses. And the aim is not to persuade a stubborn president to admit defeat. Rather, the report's aim is to convince legislators that withdrawal from Iraq — no matter how much their constituents may yearn for it — is not an option. The report's other intended readership is Arab governments throughout the Middle East. The message for them is the same: A U.S. exit from the region is what you most have to fear.
Read together with yesterdays piece by Antonia Juhasz in the LAT and it makes a troubling picture that fits together very well with the character of the players involved with this American tragedy. And all we can do is yell at the screen like the audience in a slasher movie as the blonde sacrifice goes to open the door.

You agree with me, right??

That must be the question that Our Dear Obdurate Leader is asking as he goes around DC and reaches out for an alternative to the Iraq Study Group that will support his inability to change course in Iraq.
President Bush on Monday opened three days of intensive consultations on Iraq, saying the United States and countries across the Middle East have a vital stake in helping the fragile government in Baghdad succeed.

Bush went to the State Department to review diplomatic and political options - the latest in a series of consultations that dominate his agenda as he seeks a new course in Iraq.
Three days to find what he wants and then another 2 weeks, at least, to find a way to sell the idea to the rest of us.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said Bush hoped to be able to announce his decisions by Christmas but that the timing could slip. "It's something that we would like to see, but I'm not going to promise it," Snow said.
That should give him time to "gift wrap" another 50 to 100 troops to ship home in time for Christmas. Pardon my cynicism, but I don't believe this evil, lying sack of doggie shit will ever change his mind or course until someone takes a horsewhip to his worthless carcass. And that, sadly, won't happen any time soon.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How do you know the people love you?

When they celebrate your death with parties in the streets.
Thousands of jubilant Chileans streamed into the streets of Santiago after hearing that their former president, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, had died Sunday. Many danced and popped open champagne, while caravans of cars with horns blaring toured the capital for hours.
Do you think the old fart would have died sooner if he knew how much joy it would bring to the people?

The Bush Legacy grows

Not the one marked by multiple, continuing failures domestically, but the shining jewel in his Crown of Failures, Iraq. And let no one think that Our Dear Incompetent Oil Man and Leader will let anything like the Iraq Study Group deter him from "drilling the Mother of All Dry Holes". The NY Times has two articles today about DC reaction to the ISG. The first details efforts by the Bushoviks to evade any responsible action based on the ISG report or any other outside input. Also noted is their relief that no one else is smarter than they are.
He said former colleagues had told him they felt comforted by the recognition that there were no good options, because despite all of the intellect brought to the endeavor, the members of the panel had failed to make the leap from strategy to implementation. “It’s easy to suggest these steps in theory, but we haven’t been able to figure out the how,” Mr. Senor said. “Now, neither have these 10 wise men and woman.”
But what does it matter what they know, it is The Decider who has to decide.
Mr. Card said, “The president by definition knows more than any of those people who are serving on these panels.”

“The president’s obligations sometimes require him to be very lonely,” he said.
Poor little Georgie, so lonely, and yet still so pig-headedly stupid.

The second article looks to the Republicans in Congress who have to consider their positions 2 years from now in the face of this unwavering determination to stay the course by their Preznit.
No matter what positions they take today, all Republicans would prefer that the 2008 elections not be fought on the battleground of Iraq, said Douglas Foyle, professor of government at Wesleyan University.

“They don’t want the 2008 presidential and Congressional campaign to be about staying the course,” Professor Foyle said. “That’s where the calculus of Bush and the Republicans diverge very quickly. Everyone is thinking about the next election, and Bush doesn’t have one.
So all Bush has to do is stay the course for two more years then ride off into the sunset, Pinochet-like, to his new ranch in Argentina far, far away from extradition.

Iraq in pictures

From Tom Toles and Bill Schorr

Quote of the Day

“In the south, if the Americans give the Iraqis weapons, the next day you can buy them here, the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police — they all sell them right away.”
Iraqi arms dealer, who sold groceries in the front of his kiosk and offered weapons in the back.

Rummy visits the scene of the crime

On his way out the door, Don Rumsfeld visited the troops in Iraq one last time to give them an "attaboy" and say goodbye. Having disposed of proper planning and execution in this greatest disaster of American foreign policy, Rummy just had to go and tell the troops one last lie as if this would earn their forgiveness.
The outgoing secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, paid a surprise visit to Iraq this weekend and said American troops should stay in the country until the insurgents were defeated.

“We feel great urgency to protect the American people from another 9/11 or a 9/11 times two or three,” Mr. Rumsfeld said on Saturday, in remarks that were posted on the Defense Department’s Web site, in the Anbar province west of Baghdad.

“At the same time, we need to have the patience to see this task through to success,” he said. “The consequences of failure are unacceptable.”
The military is already suffering the consequences of failure, what Rummy was talking about was the hit that his reputation and ego would take if he or Our Dear Incompetent Leader or Crazy Dick were to admit that their Glorious Little War was anything other than a success that needed one last push to go over the top.

And so more people will die, day after day, until only God knows when.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Top Air Force lawyer crashes and burns.

A top Air Force lawyer who served at the White House and in a senior position in Iraq turns out to have been practicing law for 23 years without a license.
23 years. At least he wasn't a spy, we hope.

Another must read

Frank Rich.

And the NYT editorial writers hit the bullseye with their lead effort.
We were particularly drawn to Recommendations 46, 72 and 78. Under separate headings dealing with the military, the federal budget and the nation’s intelligence agencies, they share one basic idea: Government officials should not lie to the public or each other, especially in matters of war.

One should not need a blue ribbon commission to know that. But the fact that it had to be said, and so often, in the report goes a long way toward explaining how Mr. Bush got the country into the Iraq mess and why it is proving so hard to dig out of it.
And after a clear delineation of what the recommendations say they reach this sad conclusion.
It is mind-boggling that this commission felt compelled to deliver Governing 101 lessons to the president of the United States. But that fits with the implicit message of the entire exercise — a rebuke of the ideologically blinkered way Mr. Bush operates. The report shows that there have always been plenty of alternatives to Mr. Bush’s stubborn insistence on staying the course, and that if he were just willing to make an effort, it would be possible to forge a bipartisan consensus on the toughest issues.

It’s tragic that Mr. Bush could not figure that out for himself.
It is tempting to feel pity for the Idiot Bastard Child, in over his head, until you think about how many people he has killed with his childish behavior.

Another salvo in the fight against corporate welfare

The incoming Democratic chairman of the House Resources Committee has indicated a strong desire to investigate lax collection of oil & gas royalties and new legislation to close loopholes that gives away billions of dollars to the oil and gas industry.
“The Interior Department has a background of mismanagement, to put it mildly, in the collection of these royalties,” said Representative Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, a Democrat who will become chairman of the House Resources Committee next year.

Mr. Rahall said he planned a sweeping investigation of the Interior Department’s enforcement of royalty payments as well as the possible repeal of a 10-year-old law that allows energy companies drilling in deep coastal waters to avoid billions of dollars in payments.

“The oil and gas royalties system has never worked,” asserts a written summary of the committee’s top goals in the new Congress. “Instead it has proven to be a form of corporate welfare that has enabled oil and gas producers to undercut payments due the American people.”
This is good. For too long they have taken from public lands and kept all the profit to a few.

It's a sad day for the US

When the headline about the Vice President's hunting trip reads:
No one shot on Cheney's quail hunt
About the only thing that can follow it is this first paragraph:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Vice President Dick Cheney went quail hunting last week, and the senator lived to tell the tale.
But nobody got a blow job so it's OK.

Damage to the dynasty

Eleanor Clift has a web only commentary of the shattering effect of the '94 FL governors loss by Jeb Bush on the family plans for the next Bush president.
That election turned out to be pivotal because it disrupted the plan Papa Bush had for his sons, which may be why he was crying, and why the country cries with him. The family’s grand design had the No. 2 son, Jeb, by far the brighter and more responsible, ascend to the presidency while George, the partying frat-boy type, settled for second best in Texas. The plan went awry when Jeb, contrary to conventional wisdom, lost in Florida, and George unexpectedly defeated Ann Richards in Texas. With the favored heir on the sidelines, the family calculus shifted. They’d go for the presidency with the son that won and not the one they wished had won.

The son who was wrongly launched has made such a mess of things that he has ruined the family franchise. Without getting too Oedipal, it’s fair to say that so many mistakes George W. Bush made are the result of his need to distinguish himself from his father and show that he’s smarter and tougher. His need to outdo his father and at the same time vindicate his father’s failure to get re-elected makes for a complicated stew of emotions. The irony is that the senior Bush, dismissed by Junior’s crowd as a country-club patrician, looks like a giant among presidents compared to his son. Junior told author Bob Woodward, for his book “Plan of Attack,” that he didn’t consult his father in planning the invasion of Iraq but consulted a higher authority, pointing, presumably, to the heavens.
We all now know the consequences of Jebbie's loss but I think Ms. Clift underestimates the evil influence of the neocons on Our Dear Idiot Child Leader. As weak a leader as ODICL is, he could have made it through with minimal damage had he not been surrounded by a bad crowd. And that is an area where even the less than scrupulous Bush family got snookered. But that is another column for Ms. Clift.

Quote of the Day

"We have a classic case of circling the wagons. If President Bush changes his policy in Iraq in a fundamental way, it undermines the whole premise of his presidency. I just don't believe he will ever do that."
A former adviser to Bush the Elder

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pat Oliphant and Nick Anderson

When is the Coast Guard not a coast guard?

When it is run aground by rank incompetence using that favorite tool of the Republicans, privatization. In its efforts to expand its ability to protect our shores, the Coast Guard and its partners Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman, have done more damage to its fleet than any enemy since WW II.
Four years after the Coast Guard began an effort to replace nearly its entire fleet of ships, planes and helicopters, the modernization program heralded as a model of government innovation is foundering.

The initial venture — converting rusting 110-foot patrol boats, the workhorses of the Coast Guard, into more versatile 123-foot cutters — has been canceled after hull cracks and engine failures made the first eight boats unseaworthy.

Plans to build a new class of 147-foot ships with an innovative hull have been halted after the design was found to be flawed.

And the first completed new ship — a $564 million behemoth christened last month — has structural weaknesses that some Coast Guard engineers believe may threaten its safety and limit its life span, unless costly repairs are made.....

....And instead of managing the project itself, the Coast Guard hired Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, two of the nation’s largest military contractors, to plan, supervise and deliver the new vessels and helicopters.
And the big stuff was not all they screwed up.
Even some of the smaller Deepwater projects raise questions about management. The radios placed in small, open boats were not waterproof and immediately shorted out, for example. Electronics equipment costing millions of dollars is still being installed in the new cutter, even though it will be ripped out because the Coast Guard does not want it. An order of eight small, inflatable boats cost an extra half-million dollars because the purchase passed through four layers of contractors.
Once again the pure genius of the Dept. of Homeland Security keeps us safe? But have no fear, when the new Democratic chairman of the Homeland Security takes over, you can bet old Joe Lieberman will deal with this in the same clear eyed effective way he has called the Republicans to task for mishandling the war in Iraq. Or to put it another way, shut up and keep paying.

Fill up your SUV today, kill an American in Iraq tomorrow

You may not want to do so, but it looks like that is where the money spent on your gasoline is ending up. And the the folks in between are the good friends of Our Dear UnAmerican Leader and his evil vizier Crazy Dick Cheney, the Saudis. The AP has the known details.
Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents....

....Several drivers interviewed by the AP in Middle East capitals said Saudis have been using religious events, like the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and a smaller pilgrimage, as cover for illicit money transfers. Some money, they said, is carried into Iraq on buses with returning pilgrims.

"They sent boxes full of dollars and asked me to deliver them to certain addresses in Iraq," said one driver, who gave his name only as Hussein, out of fear of reprisal. "I know it is being sent to the resistance, and if I don't take it with me, they will kill me."

He was told what was in the boxes, he said, to ensure he hid the money from authorities at the border.
We are fighting mostly Sunni insurgents so the money comes from the Saudis. If we began to fight mostly Shia then the petro dollars would come from Iran. And if we turned around and left Iraq they would have a grand time fighting each other until they came to their senses in another 100 years or so. But they wouldn't be killing Americans and neither would you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Eat lead, suckers!

And breath it too, thanks to the hard work of Our Dear Incompetent Leader and his evil minions. After years of efforts to remove this heavy metal that, when ingested, turns intelligent children into mouth breathing Republicans, ODIL has decided that we have reached a point where there is now too little lead in the air.
The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.

Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.

A preliminary staff review released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week acknowledged the possibility of dropping the health standards for lead air pollution. The agency says revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant.

The EPA says concentrations of lead in the air have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 2 1/2 decades.
Ya see, without the proper levels of lead in the air the Republican party may disappear in the near future. Can't let that happen.

Tom Toles Today

Maybe if she had used a conundrum....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

10 more dead today

And that is just the American death toll. A whole bunch of Iraqis died too but nobody really cares about them. The big news was the presentation to Our Dear Leader the report of the Iraq Study Group. A report that should have begun with the words,"JESUS TAP DANCIN' CHRIST, HOW COULD YOU HAVE BEEN SO STUPID!!", said nothing unexpected and less than most Americans hoped for. But the ISG did have to be careful of ODL's self-esteem, mustn't damage that tender sprout. And so we wait and wonder how many more will die to keep the little mans ego from harm.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A bit of good news

From CNN:
The Colombia-born wife of a Georgia state senator emerged from hiding and turned herself in Tuesday to face a deportation order, but an immigration judge lifted the order and she was expected to be freed.

Sascha Herrera, 28, who had gone into hiding after the order was issued, arrived at the Martin Luther King Federal Building shortly before 8 a.m. and met with the judge and attorneys for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office.

Government lawyer Terry Bird said the judge lifted the order and agreed to reopen her case. He said she would likely be freed Tuesday pending a hearing on a petition filed by Herrera's husband, state Sen. Curt Thompson, to establish permanent residency for her. The hearing has yet to be scheduled.

They may have to walk when they leave Iraq

The US Army, badly used, badly supported and sadly in need of rehabilitation after 4 years of Li'l Georgie's Glorious War in Iraqistan. The Washington Post has the details on the slow destruction of of the Army's equipment.
But as the war has continued, Army leaders have recognized that they cannot afford to wait for a drawdown of troops before they begin overhauling equipment -- some of it 20 years old -- that is being used at extraordinary rates. Helicopters are flying two or three times their planned usage rates. Tank crews are driving more than 4,000 miles a year -- five times the normal rate. Truck fleets that convoy supplies down Iraq's bomb-laden roads are running at six times the planned mileage, according to Army data.

Equipment shipped back from Iraq is stacking up at all the Army depots: More than 530 M1 tanks, 220 M88 wreckers and 160 M113 armored personnel carriers are sitting at Anniston. The Red River Army Depot in Texas has 700 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 450 heavy and medium-weight trucks, while more than 1,000 Humvees are awaiting repair at the Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania.

Despite the work piling up, the Army's depots have been operating at about half their capacity because of a lack of funding for repairs. In the spring, a funding gap caused Anniston and other depots to lose about a month's worth of work, said Brig. Gen. Robert Radin, deputy chief of staff for operations at the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir.

"Last year we spent as much time trying to find available money as managing our program," he said. "We don't want to go into the next rotation . . . with equipment that's at the far end of its expected life."
Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyn Corp and so many other well connected corporations got huge contracts to provide shoddy products and slipshod services if they delivered anything at all. The US Army has to scrounge up the funds to keep the basic tools of its trade in working condition and still came up short. Those Republicans sure are good on Nationable Defense and pigs sure do fly good!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quote of the Day

American kids are killing and getting killed solely because the most powerful individual on the planet is too much of a coward to admit error and won't order their withdrawal.

Ah, Johnny, we hardly knew ye!

And that was too much for decent people. John Bolton has resigned.

Tom Toles today

Sunday, December 03, 2006

This is what Our Damnable Leader does to American citizens

Through his attorneys the New York Times has viewed video recodings of Jose Padilla during his 21 months of detention and isolation, without charge, by the US military.
“Today is May 21,” a naval official declared to a camera videotaping the event. “Right now we’re ready to do a root canal treatment on Jose Padilla, our enemy combatant.”

Several guards in camouflage and riot gear approached cell No. 103. They unlocked a rectangular panel at the bottom of the door and Mr. Padilla’s bare feet slid through, eerily disembodied. As one guard held down a foot with his black boot, the others shackled Mr. Padilla’s legs. Next, his hands emerged through another hole to be manacled.

Wordlessly, the guards, pushing into the cell, chained Mr. Padilla’s cuffed hands to a metal belt. Briefly, his expressionless eyes met the camera before he lowered his head submissively in expectation of what came next: noise-blocking headphones over his ears and blacked-out goggles over his eyes. Then the guards, whose faces were hidden behind plastic visors, marched their masked, clanking prisoner down the hall to his root canal.

Four armed and armored guards to take a manacled, blindfolded prisoner to the prison dentist. With no one to talk to beyond the interrogators, the only prisoner in his wing of the prison, no windows or clocks, at times no books, radio or other materials. It is not at all difficult to give creedence to his lawyers latest contention.
Now lawyers for Mr. Padilla, 36, suggest that he is unfit to stand trial. They argue that he has been so damaged by his interrogations and prolonged isolation that he suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and is unable to assist in his own defense. His interrogations, they say, included hooding, stress positions, assaults, threats of imminent execution and the administration of “truth serums.”...

....Mr. Padilla’s lawyers say they have had a difficult time persuading him that they are on his side.

From the time Mr. Padilla was allowed access to counsel, Mr. Patel visited him repeatedly in the brig and in the Miami detention center, and Mr. Padilla has observed Mr. Patel arguing on his behalf in Miami federal court.

But, Mr. Patel said in his affidavit, his client is nonetheless mistrustful. “Mr. Padilla remains unsure if I and the other attorneys working on his case are actually his attorneys or another component of the government’s interrogation scheme,” Mr. Patel said.

Mr. do Campo said that Mr. Padilla was not incommunicative, and that he expressed curiosity about what was going on in the world, liked to talk about sports and demonstrated particularly keen interest in the Chicago Bears.

But the defense lawyers’ questions often echo the questions interrogators have asked Mr. Padilla, and when that happens, he gets jumpy and shuts down, the lawyers said.

Dr. Hegarty said Mr. Padilla refuses to review the video recordings of his interrogations, which have been released to his lawyers but remain classified.

He is especially reluctant to discuss what happened in the brig, fearful that he will be returned there some day, Mr. Patel said in his affidavit.
All of this would explain why the "[f]ederal prosecutors have asked the judge to forbid Mr. Padilla’s lawyers from mentioning the circumstances of his military detention during the trial, maintaining that their accusations could “distract and inflame the jury.”

Damn right it would inflame the jury. And all Americans should be inflamed and outraged by this treatment of an American citizen. Let me repeat that, AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!

21 months incommunicado, without access to legal counsel and subject to interrogation and maybe more, and when they do bring him out for trial the charges have nothing to do with the reasons stated for his detention. And all this because someone said he was an enemy combatant without ever proving it. Something you would expect from your average Saddam Hussein of Joe Stalin, not in these United States of America.

If they can do this to one American citizen, they can do it to any and all American citizens. Whenever they please.

From the pen of Bill Schorr

A bit of snark in the New York Times

Tim Weiner, writing a piece on the Secret Service protection of POTUS, couldn't refrain from dropping a few snark bombs in his opus. I have bolded them for any Republican readers who may drop by.
Legend has it that King Mithridates, scourge of Roman emperors, concocted a universal antidote to protect himself from poisoners. Less omnipotent leaders have had to be on the lookout for lethal enemies ever since.

A renegade Russian spy died last month in London after ingesting or inhaling a rare radioactive isotope; he claimed before his death that his old comrades had killed him. That raises a question: in a world of invisible threats, how do you protect the leader of the last remaining superpower when he ventures out of the White House?

The Secret Service, charged with protecting presidents since the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, likes to keep its business secret. But eight years ago, the attorney general and the director of the Secret Service revealed many of the agency’s methods while in court trying to quash subpoenas for President Clinton’s bodyguards. (The issue was an obscure and long-forgotten controversy over sex.)

The goal of the Secret Service is “to provide a complete 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year protective envelope” around the president. (This all-enveloping phenomenon, known as “the bubble,” can ward off reality as well as danger.)

They recognize no zone of presidential privacy: “they accompany him to restrooms and other private places.” In public, they seek to “achieve seamless proximity”: they must stay so close as to be able to place their “hands on the hips of a president to move him in a particular direction.”

Deception and disguise are crucial elements: “Agents have dressed as major league umpires, soldiers, engineers, academics and priests.” In 2000, the Secret Service demanded the deployment of a decoy Air Force One on a trip to Pakistan.

Of course, “Secret Service personnel test the food the president eats.” For the last 43 years, every president who has died has done so peaceably, no small achievement in a dangerous world.
And a good thing they have done so these last 6 years. This country is not ready for Crazy Dick the Undead President.

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