Saturday, March 31, 2007

More of the same and an update in Iraq.

The NY Times brings the latest goings on in Iraq and a revision to the total from Tuesday's truck bombing.
The Iraqi government on Saturday gave its first official reckoning of the truck bombing Tuesday in the northern city of Tal Afar, putting the death toll at 152 people, a number about double that in early reports.
152, makes the numbers for today look almost normal.
Sectarian violence continued around Iraq on Saturday, when 27 people were killed in shootings and car bombings and 10 bodies were found in Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry. In Gabala, near Hilla, Shiite militiamen killed two people at a Sunni mosque and then burned Sunni stores in retaliation for the killing of the brother of a Mahdi Army militia leader. The Iraqi Army intervened to stop the attack on the mosque, said a member of Scorpion Brigade, a commando unit in Babil Province.
Another deadly day in another deadly month in Iraq.
The Associated Press count of U.S. military deaths for the month was 81, including a soldier who died from non-combat causes Friday. Figures compiled from officials in the Iraqi ministries of Defense, Health and Interior showed the Iraqi military toll was 44. The Iraqi figures showed that 165 Iraqi police were killed in March. Many of the police serve in paramilitary units....

...At least 83 American forces died in January and 80 in February, according to the AP tabulation.
And in DC the arrogant little peckerwood in the White House wants more of this and throws a hissy fit when the adults try to stop him.

President Bush to veto funds for troops

Under the weak cover of a little pork in the bill, Our Dear Embattled Leader has promised, once again, to deny adequate funding for the troops in Iraq.
"I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but I believe the security of our troops should come before the security of our peanut crop," Bush said in his weekly radio address, referring to a provision in the war funding legislation that earmarks $74 million for secure peanut storage...

...Bush repeated his promise to veto the bills if the timelines stay in - and if the unrelated earmarks stay in as well - because they "undercut our troops in the field."
Displaying the fabulous sense of "black is white" that is the hallmark of Bushovism, ODEL has, after six years of totally shameless pork padding in Republican sponsored bills, finally noticed that Congress always puts in a little extra and in his best Captain Renault imitation, is shocked!, shocked! to see it and will shut it down, along with the funding for the troops.

The Democratic response of retired Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Horne really says it best.
"Both houses of Congress have done their jobs and will soon finish a bill that will provide for the troops. When they're done, the only person who could keep funds from reaching troops would be the president...

...If the president vetoes this bill because he doesn't want to formally demonstrate progress in Iraq, never in the history of war would there be a more blatant example of a commander in chief undermining the troops. There is absolutely no excuse for the president to withhold funding for the troops, and if he does exercise a veto, Congress must side with the troops and override it."

New Hampshire doesn't like Our Dear Embattled Leader

The following results are based on 600 completed telephone interviews among a statewide random sample of adults in New Hampshire. Of the 600 interviews, 551 interviews were among registered voters (169 Republicans, 152 Democrats, and 230 undeclared voters). The interviews were conducted March 25 through 28, 2007.

The theoretical margin of error for the total sample of 600 is plus or minus 4 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split. The theoretical margin of error for the sample of 551 registered voters is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points, 95% of the time, on questions where opinion is evenly split.

Question wording and responses:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Approve Disapprove Undecided
Total sample 17% 62% 21%
Voters 17% 66% 17%
Republicans 42% 38% 20%
Democrats 1% 85% 14%
Undeclared 11% 74% 15%

Even the Republican approval rate is less than 50%. Will he reach single digits? Stay tuned for more details.

Friday, March 30, 2007

From the Army Times

We get a report on Gen. Pace's hearing with John Murtha's subcommittee. As has been disclosed elsewhere, all is not well in Equipmentland.
The military is so short of equipment that it will take years after the war in Iraq ends to bring it up to authorized levels, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs told a House subcommittee Thursday.

“It will take end of war plus two years to work off the backlog,” Gen. Peter Pace told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. “Without being able to give you a definite end of war [date], I can’t tell you exactly how long.”
But, the good General also disclosed that when you weren't looking, the Republicans were shortchanging the Army for years before the war.
“The vast majority of our Army units here at home are critically short of equipment and personnel,” Murtha said, adding this was leaving some stateside units “at the lowest readiness level.”

Pace acknowledged that figure and noted that the problem has been years in the making. For instance, the Army, he said, was $56 billion short of being fully equipped back in fiscal 2001, before the war began. “Then, you had four-plus years of war,” Pace said.
But some people still think the Republicans are better on national defense. Sort of like thinking that unprotected butt sex will cure AIDS.

The Rise and Fall of a Good Party Member

The Washington Post has a brief biographical summary of the stain of Monica Goodlings career at the Department of Justice.The heart of the matter can be described this way.
Part of a generation of young religious conservatives who swept into the federal government after the election of President Bush in 2000, Goodling displayed unblinking devotion to the administration and expected others to do the same. When she started at Justice, "no job was too small for her," and as she moved rapidly up the ranks, none "was too large," Corallo said.

"She was the embodiment of a hardworking young conservative who believed strongly in the president and his mission," said David Ayres, former chief of staff to Bush's first attorney general, John D. Ashcroft....

...To her detractors, Goodling was an enforcer of political loyalty who was not squeamish about firings -- of interns or of senior officials.

"She forced many very talented, career people out of main Justice so she could replace them with junior people that were either loyal to the administration or would score her some points," said a former career Justice official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal.
A smart, hard working woman with less patriotism than your average turncoat. And this is the quality of appointee that has spread throughout the DC establishment since Our Dear Embattled Leader was Gloriously Selected for His Calling. It will take a lot of time and hard work to root them all out.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Because I don't know any better.

Another day, another market.

From CNN:
Bombers launched two deadly strikes Thursday in crowded Shiite marketplaces in Baghdad and a town north of Iraq's capital, killing 119 people and wounding 171. At least 17 others died in other bombings and gunfire around the country.

The attacks erupted as Iraqi shoppers filled marketplaces Thursday to buy goods at the start of the weekend and the eve of the Muslim holy day of Friday....

...Additionally, Iraqi police found 25 bullet-riddled bodies across the capital.
No doubt marking the boundaries of John McCains safe neighborhoods.

McClatchy has more details here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good governance, Republican style.

McClatchy reports the latest on the VA:
The Department of Veterans Affairs backdated a key document and violated other rules as it pushed through a $100 million computer security contract that resulted in inflated prices and duplicate payments, according to a previously undisclosed report.

In the end, the contract turned into "an open checkbook" for various VA expenses, and the agency today can't detail the whereabouts of some $35 million in equipment purchased under the contract, the report by the VA's inspector general said....

....With a budget of more than $70 billion and more than 235,000 employees, the VA is one of the largest departments in the federal government. But the VA inspector general has repeatedly found that the agency doesn't follow proper contracting procedures, resulting in "significant dollar losses and failed projects," in the words of the most recent report.
Forget the vets when there are good Republican contractors in need of profits. And that is the nicest way you can put it.

But did he say they were sorry they did it?

When the lede for you article starts like this
The FBI didn't deliberately break the law by improperly obtaining thousands of Americans' phone, e-mail and financial records, Bureau Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

That was the good news. But then came the bad:
And follows up with this
It happened, Mueller said, because of "mistakes, carelessness, confusion, lack of training, lack of guidance and lack of adequate oversight."

Then came this line, which senators didn't find reassuring either:

The FBI's use of inaccurate information to obtain secret search warrants? The problem was "very lengthy documents . . . with thousands of facts."

Mueller didn't mention how the bureau also managed to lose weapons and laptop computers.
You just know the rest of the article will bring a painful smile to your face, unless you are connected to the FBI. Matt Stearns of McClatchy spares no jabs as he reports on the appearence of FBI director Mueller in the Senate today. It is something of a jolt when you finally remember that the FBI is supposed to be the heart and soul of domestic security.

Feeling safer?

Man of Integrity or a "Man Of Honor"

Listen to poor Gary scream in agony as he is forced to sell his property to the city.

Thank you Talking Points Memo

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tom Toles

Quote of the Day

The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real
John Dowd, attorney for Monica Goodling, a senior Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors

Monday Music Blogging

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Price of Integrity

McClatchy has a report on the consequences to one Republican congressmoop who voted against Our Dear Embattled Leader recently.
Five weeks after Rep. Bob Inglis broke with his party and his president to vote against the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, the South Carolina Republican is engaged in an all-out effort to save his seat....

... Many of Inglis’ GOP constituents have expressed their displeasure more bluntly.

“Mr. Inglis, I am outraged, embarrassed and ashamed at your vote today,” Mark Sternick, a constituent from Greenville, wrote in comments that Inglis has posted on his Website.

“My son is serving in the Army in Iraq today,” Sternick wrote. “With this vote, you might have just as well just put a bullet in his head and in his heart.”
Rep. Inglis' problem seems to be that he is more of a conservative than a Republican.
“Al Qaeda, Hezbollah -- those are our enemies,” he said. “The Democrats are not my enemies. They’re my countrymen.”

See how restrained we were.

But if they keep this up, we gotta take the gloves off. Or something like that. As we watch the case for war in Iran slowly build with help from Our Dear Embattled Leader's fellow fuckhead, Ahmedinejad.
U.S. News and World Report, citing an Army report from Iraq, said American troops working with Iraqi border guards inside the frontier were attacked by a much larger Iranian military unit in September east of the Diyala province town of Balad Ruz, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad.

The magazine reported that the Iranians were on the Iraqi side of the border when they fired at the Americans with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. No Americans were hurt in the incident, but four Iraqi soldiers, an interpreter, and an Iraqi border policeman remain missing.
And now they went and grabbed a bunch of limeys. We obviously have to attack them soon or people will doubt Li'l Georgie's manhood. As for myself, I doubt his sanity more than his manhood. And don't get me started on his evil Grand Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney.

Here we go again

Much is being made in the MSM and across the sentient part of Blogtopia (y!sctp) about the Republican senators who have been critical of Attorney General Gonzo and his continued presence in government. This is supposed to be a sign of the end of Fredo. In a perfect world, or at least one like that I grew up in, this sort of opposition would have Gonzo turning in his resignation if he wasn't already fired. The many years since those halcyon days have, for better or worse, turned me into a hard core cynic and that cynicism has me saying, "So what!" Which senators are in opposition? Why the loyal Republican opposition wing faction of the party. There is Arlen Specter, Our Dear Embattled Leader's favorite lapdog, who will bark and yip and always end up curled up in the lap of his master. There is Lindsey Graham, the integritudinous JAG who knows about the law and the military but sponsored the end of habeas corpus. And Chuck Hegel, the gimlet eyed veteran who growled in manly support of the troops and the Constitution but somehow never can find a way to vote against the CINCUS. With this kind of opposition, Gonzo does not have to worry about the Republican side of the aisle. OK, so I forgot to mention Gordon Smith. He is up for re-election and ODEL will cut him some slack in what he says, so long as he does not really get in the way. To this old cynic, there is no discernable Republican opposition to Gonzo yet and probably won't be until the courts rule against ODEL on the subpoena issue. And with the Dread Chief Justice Roberts and his scurvy crew, you know when that will happen.

And every extra day in Bush War II means more of the same.

Newsweek has a very sad report on some of the people who make up the daily Iraqi death toll. Too often they are just numbers to us. This brings some of their humanity to us.
Jawad Jasem, 44, was serving a customer at his pushcart outside the courthouse when the bomb exploded. The son of a poor Shia farmer, Jasem had wanted to be an engineer. When he was 18, family friends got him into the Air Force, where he earned good money working on jets—until the Army, desperate for infantrymen in the war with Iran, sent him to the front. He was wounded four times. He was not allowed to return to civilian life after the war, even though he had a wife and five children. "He used to tell everyone that the last day of his military service would be the happiest day of his life," says his younger brother, Kareem, a shopkeeper. "He said he'd celebrate with a great party in which he would make a feast for the entire city."

It didn't turn out that way. His last day of duty was April 8, 2003, when U.S. troops entered Baghdad. Jawad was among thousands of Iraqi soldiers who stripped off their uniforms and fled.

He started over, buying his pushcart and setting up in front of the courthouse. He built a good business. It was a predominantly Shia neighborhood, but the bomber killed members of both sects indiscriminately. "Evil has no eyes," says Kareem Jasem. "Jawad's shop had turned into just a big hole ... and his body was smashed into a wall."...

For Suhad Shakir, 36, her new job was a dream come true. She had always wanted to work with Americans, and she loved helping people. Last September she quit her post as a journalist at state-owned TV and jumped at an opening with the Iraqi Assistance Center, a Coalition-run office in the Green Zone that works with U.S. and Iraqi agencies to provide social services. It seemed safer than reporting, and it paid better.

On Feb. 4 she was on her way to work, waiting in the queue at a checkpoint near an entrance to the Green Zone which is often targeted by suicide bombers. Shakir was in the slow lane, for Iraqi cars that are subject to careful searches. A convoy of armored vehicles came roaring up and got stuck at the checkpoint. One of the bodyguards in the first vehicle threw a bottle of water at the driver in front of Shakir to signal him to move. The driver panicked and backed into Shakir's car. She tried to get out of the way but backed into the car behind her. Someone aboard the fourth vehicle in the convoy, seeing Shakir's sudden move, opened fire, hitting her once. The vehicle slowed and a goateed Westerner in khaki leaned out his window and shot her again in the face at close range. Then the convoy raced off into the Green Zone.

Iraqi cops think Shakir's killer mistook her for a suicide bomber, but they say they're continuing to investigate. "It is very important I know why she is killed and who killed her," said Shakir's mother, Salima Kadhim, dressed in black a month after her daughter's death. Like many Iraqis, she still waits.
Just people trying to live a normal life, support their families and in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well Done, Georgie!

From the Department of the Obvious

"The Treasury is being looted here. The taxpayer is being fleeced,"
Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking about the US Coast Guard "Deepwater" fraud.

Are you on the list?

If you have had problems traveling, being required to prove that you are really you, then the answer is probably yes.
Called TIDE, for Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, the list is a storehouse for data about individuals that the intelligence community believes might harm the United States. It is the wellspring for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates, created to close one of the key intelligence gaps revealed after Sept. 11, 2001: the failure of federal agencies to share what they knew about al-Qaeda operatives.

But in addressing one problem, TIDE has spawned others. Ballooning from fewer than 100,000 files in 2003 to about 435,000, the growing database threatens to overwhelm the people who manage it. "The single biggest worry that I have is long-term quality control," said Russ Travers, in charge of TIDE at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean.
A lot of people have the same or similar names. We have previously posted the problems of Catherine Stevens, wife of Sen Ted Stevens R-AK, who has been repeatedly confused with Cat Stevens the black male singer and muslim convert.
TIDE is a vacuum cleaner for both proven and unproven information, and its managers disclaim responsibility for how other agencies use the data. "What's the alternative?" Travers said. "I work under the assumption that we're never going to have perfect information -- fingerprints, DNA -- on 6 billion people across the planet. . . . If someone actually has a better idea, I'm all ears."
All ears, what a quaint way of putting it.The problem lies as much in what is done with what comes out as much as what goes in. It is raw data and the TIDE folks don't filter it and they give it directly to a lot of people, like airlines, who also do not and are not trained to filter it. And so thousands of innocent people undergo everything from inconvenience to 6 months in a Syrian or Egyptian prison. That is not security, It is, however, a source of pride to the Bushoviks.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Where have all the families gone?

Not back to their old neighborhoods in Baghdad, despite all the glowing reports from Gen Petraeus and others. Newsweek examined the facts on the ground to see what was really happening.
Tufan Abdu-Wahab, head of the Baghdad section in the Ministry of Migration and Displaced People, said in an interview that only a handful of Iraqi families had returned, and most of those were Shias returning to Shia districts, rather than to formerly mixed communities. Officials have a pretty good handle on this, he said, because the government is offering a bounty of 250,000 dinars (about $192) to each family that returns to its home, and they also pay a small benefit to families who are displaced, so people both fleeing and returning have a big incentive to register. So as of the end of February, 35,000 families--210,000 people approximately--had registered as displaced, he said. Of those, Abdu-Wahab says that only about 1 percent have come back--which would be 350 families in the first month of the security plan--but many of those have only returned to check on their belongings and leave again. Meanwhile, families continue to flee at the rate of 25 a day, according to the ministry's registration statistics, easily outstripping any returns. "Before it was 350 families a day leaving, so that's a big improvement, but it's still a lot. People still don't feel secure," Abdu-Wahab said.
Maybe someday the real numbers will catch up to the rosy reports. And maybe someday the cow will jump over the moon, which is an important step in making green cheese.

Quote of the Day

You shouldn’t be able to send young people into battle and die unless you’ve had someone die in your arms as a result of an order you’ve given
retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. J. Michael Myatt

With apologies to the ghost of Percy Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is George W. Bush, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

'Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Calling out the traitors

I saw this posted at Firedoglake and felt that I, too, should do my part to share the truth.

Dept. of the Obvious

Gonzo lied. We all knew that, but now the latest release of documents from the DOJ prove it.
Gonzales said last week he was not involved in any discussions about the impending dismissals of federal prosecutors. On Friday night, however, the department disclosed Gonzales' participation in a Nov. 27 meeting where such plans were discussed.
And in further news from the DOO, Our Dear Embattled Leader continues to stand behind his favorite butt-boy. After all, he was only doing what George wanted.

Betrayal, thy name is Bush

When Our Dear Embattled Leader commenced his Glorious Li'l War in Iraq, many Iraqis, thinking a new day was dawning, offered their services to the conquerors. Of those that are still alive, many have learned to their regret that the US puts no value on anything Iraqi. George Packer, writing in the New Yorker has detailed the misuse of these people and the way they have been discarded like some used McDonalds wrapper.
Millions of Iraqis, spanning the country’s religious and ethnic spectrum, welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But the mostly young men and women who embraced America’s project so enthusiastically that they were prepared to risk their lives for it may constitute Iraq’s smallest minority. I came across them in every city: the young man in Mosul who loved Metallica and signed up to be a translator at a U.S. Army base; the DVD salesman in Najaf whose plans to study medicine were crushed by Baath Party favoritism, and who offered his services to the first American Humvee that entered his city. They had learned English from American movies and music, and from listening secretly to the BBC. Before the war, their only chance at a normal life was to flee the country—a nearly impossible feat. Their future in Saddam’s Iraq was, as the Metallica fan in Mosul put it, “a one-way road leading to nothing.” I thought of them as oddballs, like misunderstood high-school students whose isolation ends when they go off to college. In a similar way, the four years of the war created intense friendships, but they were forged through collective disappointment. The arc from hope to betrayal that traverses the Iraq war is nowhere more vivid than in the lives of these Iraqis. America’s failure to understand, trust, and protect its closest friends in Iraq is a small drama that contains the larger history of defeat.
Republicans can take heart from one main difference between Iraq and Vietnam. In Iraq there have been no deep bonds formed between US personnel and the Iraqis. There will be no flood of "our people" relocated to the US when we leave. Most of them will simply end up on a trash heap, bound, tortured and executed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rabbi Jack claims another loyal Bushie

From the WaPo:
J. Steven Griles pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a felony for making false statements in testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in November 2005 and in an earlier interview with panel investigators. He is the 10th person -- and the second high-level Bush administration official -- to face criminal charges in the continuing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff's lobbying activities.
10 so far and most of them are still talking.

McClatchy begins to understand the problem.

And this estimable news agency has a report on what the US Attorney furor is all about.
Taken together, legal experts and other critics say, the replacement of the U.S. attorneys and the changes in Justice Department voting rights policies suggest that the Bush administration may have been using its law enforcement powers for partisan political purposes.

The department's civil rights division, for example, supported a Georgia voter identification law that a court later said discriminated against poor minority voters. It also declined to oppose an unusual Texas redistricting plan that helped expand the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That plan was partially reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Frank DiMarino, a former federal prosecutor who served six U.S. attorneys in Florida and Georgia during an 18-year Justice Department career, said that too much emphasis on voter fraud investigations “smacks of trying to use prosecutorial power to investigate and potentially indict political enemies.”
Remember, to a "loyal Bushie" black is white and up is down. If they say they are innocent, it is time to build the scaffold and oil up the hanging rope.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Bush gets a chance to desert his post.

The AP is carrying the story about the impending entrance of George Pee Bush into the Navy Reserve.
He and the other members of the Class of 2007 will be sworn in this year, Lt. Cmdr. Bill Schroeder of the Navy Reserve Intelligence Command in Fort Worth said Wednesday. They will go through a two-week officer indoctrination school, a year of Navy basic intelligence training and be assigned to Navy reserve intelligence units close to their homes....

...The 15 were selected in February by a panel of Navy officers who considered their qualifications, skills and education....Bush, a 30-year-old graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, will get no special treatment, he said.
That is one funny tag line. Does anybody know whose kids the other 14 members of this "crack unit" are?

Two of the Best

Pat Oliphant

Tom Toles

Quote of the Day

In a nation as rich as ours, it should be easy to pay for college. For some reason, we find it easier to pay for wars.
Bob Herbert, column of March 22, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Joe Galloway asks some questions

And by now we all know that Our Dear Embattled Leader will never answer them.
No doubt the contractors who are bloated like ticks on the billions they've sucked out of the public trough will write the checks to build George W. Bush a really fine presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

All of it will be a lie, just like the lies his administration told to beat the war drums five years ago.

How will the curators portray the broken military, the broken Constitution, the broken laws, the forever broken troops who came home missing limbs or eyes or pieces of their brains, the broken promises to cherish and care for the families of those who were killed and those very wounded veterans?

How will they portray the corruption, both real and spiritual, that this man and his accomplices have visited upon a nation and a people who once could be proud of their place in this world?

How and why did so many Americans, including so many in Congress and in the media, sit idly by while so much that was precious to us was bent and twisted and broken by men who had the power and the money to do the right things but chose to do the wrong things?
And we can't answer either.

Quote of the Day

In Iraq, today is always better that tomorrow.
Laith, from his blog post of 3/19/07

A new low for someone

From the NY Times:
Insurgents detonated a bomb in a car with two children in it after using the children as decoys to get through a military checkpoint in Baghdad, an American general said Tuesday.

Speaking at a news briefing at the Pentagon, Maj. Gen. Michael Barbaro, deputy director for regional operations at the Joint Staff, said American soldiers had stopped the car at the checkpoint but had allowed it to pass after seeing the two children in the back seat.

“Children in the back seat lower suspicion,” he said, according to a transcript. “We let it move through. They parked the vehicle. The adults run out and detonate it with the children in back.”

General Barbaro offered no further details.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a top American military spokesman in Baghdad, said late Tuesday that his office had no record of the bombing but that it was researching it. “I don’t know what event he’s talking about,” Colonel Garver said.
So now the thugs have sunk to their lowest point ever. But are they the bomb thugs or the propaganda thugs?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pat Oliphant - Still the Best

Bong Hits 4 Jesus - like Pt 2, I think

The Washington Post reports on the testimony yesterday before the Supreme Court. According to the WaPo, the justices seemed eager to take on a 1st amendment case. Young Mr. Frederick may be in luck on this one, the more so because Ken Starr is pleading for the opposition. In an effort to prove that the Lewinsky investigation was not a conspiracy but the result of overwhelming stupidity, he gave us lines like this:
This case is ultimately about drugs and other illegal substances
Proving to the rational world that the only illegal substances are the ones keeping that poor addled fool alive.

Gonzo in the departure lounge

Or so all the news agencies would have us believe. But when they start floating the names of your possible replacement, it is hard not to have your bags packed and ready.
One prominent Republican, who earlier had predicted that Gonzales would survive the controversy, said he expected both Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to resign soon. Another well-connected Republican said that White House officials have launched an aggressive search for Gonzales' replacement, though President Bush hadn't decided whether to ask for his resignation.

Support for Gonzales appeared to be collapsing under the weight of questions about his truthfulness and his management ability. White House spokesman Tony Snow offered a tepid defense when asked if Gonzales would stay on the job until the end of Bush's term...

..."The sands have been shifting pretty dramatically," one of the Republicans said.
But they still have to convince Li'l Georgie to give up his favorite butt-boy. Stay tuned for further details as they emerge.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Music Blogging

Quote of the Day

I really regret bringing down the statue. The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day
Kadhim al-Jubouri, the man who brought down Saddam's statue.

Happy 4th Anniversary to George & Condi and their Fabulous Family

March 19, 2003 - March 19, 2007


$ 409,716,422,365
and counting

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I O K I Y A R by Stuart Carlson

Another good day for Our Dear Embattled Leader

No member of the Bush family or his friends families were killed in Iraq. However 8 US troops and a number of assorted Iraqis were killed, not that anyone official really noticed.

Death of a 1000 polls

And the latest Newsweek poll has really sharp numbers for Our Dear Embattled Leader, unless you think 30% approval is a good number. Even worse for ODEL, it has trend lines for the last several years. It sure is lucky for ODEL that he doesn't believe a president should pay any attention to the people.

Leahy can handle the truth

It is the White House that has a problem with it. That is why the good Senator from VT. will be issuing subpeonas for various WH minions in his hearings into the US attorney firings.
The chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., last week delayed a vote on the subpoenas until Thursday as the president's counsel, Fred Fielding, sought to negotiate terms. But on Sunday, Leahy said he had not met Fielding nor was he particularly open to any compromises, such as a private briefing by the administration officials.

"I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this," Leahy said. "I do not believe in this, we'll have a private briefing for you where we'll tell you everything, and they don't."
This will no doubt have the Fux Noos people and the lesser Republican FUDmeisters howling for all their worth (which isn't very much). Leahy will no doubt catch a shitstorm so send him a note of support if you can.

Gonzo justice

McClatchy has a report on the fate of an American caught up in the kind of legal system favored by Our Dear Embattled Leader and his faithful dog Gonzo.
A U.S. citizen who was caught fleeing the recent fighting in Somalia was questioned about links to al Qaida by the FBI in Kenya, then secretly sent back to the war-ravaged country, where he was turned over to Ethiopian forces.

Amir Mohamed Meshal, 24, is now imprisoned in Ethiopia, where the State Department's 2006 human rights report says "conditions in prisons and pre-trial detention centers remain very poor" and "there were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees."

The fact that Meshal has landed in an Ethiopian prison without any semblance of due process raises new questions about what role the rule of law plays in the Bush administration's war on terrorism. Other suspected terrorists or "enemy combatants" have been exposed to extreme interrogation methods, secretly sent to countries that practice torture, held for extended periods without charges or lawyers, or put under surveillance without court warrants.
There really shouldn't be any questions about ODEL and his respect for the rule of law. In fact the same report shows clearly that lack of respect.
Meshal's treatment contrasts sharply with that of four British citizens who were caught fleeing the fighting, and of Daniel Joseph Maldonado, another U.S. citizen who fled Somalia and was arrested for entering Kenya illegally.

The four Britons were turned over to British officials, sent home and freed after they were questioned. U.S. authorities obtained custody of Maldonado and his two children from Kenya, flew them back to the United States and charged him in Texas with undergoing military and bomb-making training with al Qaida in Somalia.

The difference, said two other U.S. officials who are familiar with the case but also weren't authorized to discuss it publicly, is that Maldonado quickly confessed to his involvement with al Qaida and Meshal didn't. So while Maldonado could be brought home and imprisoned until his trial, one of the officials said, there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Meshal and keep him in jail in the United States.
No evidence, NO PROBLEM! Just ship him off to a country that doesn't need evidence and keep him on ice until you can cook up something good.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just don't hold your breath.

From CNN:
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Saturday he favored the extradition to his country of executives of U.S. banana producer Chiquita after the company's admission that it paid Colombian right-wing death squads more than $1.7 million.

"That would be normal. Extradition should be from here to there and from there to here," Uribe said.

Bong Hits 4 Jesus

When in the course of human events, the never ending wave attacks of the forces of Stupid wear you down to the point of giving up, there comes a moment so stupid that you have no choice but to continue. The case of Joseph Frederick, now approaching the Supreme Court, is one such event.
The message connected drug use and religion in a nonsensical phrase that was designed to provoke, and it got Joseph Frederick into a lot of trouble.

After he unfurled his 14-foot "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner on a Juneau, Alaska, street one winter morning in 2002, Frederick got a 10-day school suspension. Five years later, he has a date Monday at the Supreme Court in what is shaping up as an important test of constitutional rights.

Students do not leave their right to free speech at the school door, the high court said in a Vietnam-era case over an anti-war protest by high school students.

But neither can students be disruptive or lewd or interfere with a school's basic educational mission, the court also has said.
That last line is just a smokescreen. As this picture shows, there is not much that can be construed as "disruptive or lewd or interfer[ing] with a school's basic educational mission"

But, when you have a school principal that left her brain locked in the trunk of her car that day, you get this result.
[Principal Deborah] Morse saw the banner, confronted Frederick and suspended him. Frederick said she doubled the suspension to 10 days when he quoted Thomas Jefferson on free speech.
So I hope you noticed that he had a better knowledge of American History than she did. That said, normal adults should have stepped in and restored a little sense to the situation, but they didn't. And it went to court and it looks like it will go ALL_THE_WAY! Thanks in no small part to the likes of William Bennett and Barry McCaffrey and Kenneth "Kenny the DC Blow Job Queen" Starr, egging on the school administration. So we wait to see how The Dread Chief Justice Roberts, his scurvy lieutenants Scalia & Alito and the cabin boy Thomas will decide. Since the 9th District Court voted in Fredericks favor, my money is they will side with the forces of Stupid.

Walt Handelsman in Newsday

It is time to call a spade a spade, and a snake a snake.

In his weakly radio chat, Our Dear Embattled Leader accused the Democrats of trying "to micromanage our military commanders, force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and spend billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror." This should be humorous coming from a cementhead who drove two companies into the ground with his mismanagement. A "bidnessman" whose only success came from a job with no responsibilities except picking his nose in public and trading Sammy Sosa. No Georgie, micromanagement is not what you call an attempt to provide guidance to an enterprise with no management whatsoever.

On the other hand, the Democratic response needs to be more forceful and riveting in nature.When descibing the efforts of the Republicans this week, this doesn't cut it.
"Regrettably, our effort was blocked by Senate Republicans and a president who stubbornly refused to listen,"
What we saw were the efforts of Republicans who prefer to see US troops die as long as their friends make a good profit.

Your mercenaries at war

Jeremy Scahill reporting in The Nation gives us a deep;y troubling look at the rise of private armies in the prosecution of Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Little War. And thanks to the policies of Rummy one of the prime leaders among the Neo-Warlord armies is Blackwater.
Occupying the hot seat through these deliberations is the shadowy mercenary company Blackwater USA. Unbeknownst to many Americans and largely off the Congressional radar, Blackwater has secured a position of remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus. This company's success represents the realization of the life's work of the conservative officials who formed the core of the Bush Administration's war team, for whom radical privatization has long been a cherished ideological mission. Blackwater has repeatedly cited Rumsfeld's statement that contractors are part of the "Total Force" as evidence that it is a legitimate part of the nation's "warfighting capability and capacity." Invoking Rumsfeld's designation, the company has in effect declared its forces above the law--entitled to the immunity from civilian lawsuits enjoyed by the military, but also not bound by the military's court martial system. While the initial inquiries into Blackwater have focused on the complex labyrinth of secretive subcontracts under which it operates in Iraq, a thorough investigation into the company reveals a frightening picture of a politically connected private army that has become the Bush Administration's Praetorian Guard.
So now they are a part of the military establishment, without control, and in concert with others in the warlord industry, costing at least 10 times what a regular army costs. Reading further, we get to see how $2.3 million in protection services ends up costing $19.6 million in tax dollars. While Democrats try to simply find out how this mare's nest on contracts and subcontracts and who is working for whom and how much it actually cost, they are also trying to bring the mercenaries under the control of the military. How well this might work is questionable, given the success to date of the efforts of the Bushoviks to break the Army as a functioning force.

Every day we read of a new effort by the Bushoviks to destroy and dismantle the government, like some terrible army of termite bureaucrats eating a house from the inside out. The effort is so vast and complete that it is difficult to realize the full scope of it. One element remains the same with each disclosure, a small group of wealthy and influential people who seek to draw as much public value to themselves as possible before the collapse. And some have their own private armies to protect them afterwards.

Quote of the Day

“They don’t know anything about running government. They’re just political hacks. Gonzales is just a political hack.”
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, speaking about GonzoGate and other Republican failures.

And Efram Zimbalist in the role of Officer Barbrady

The FBI has leaked another stripe into the national underwear with their latest "warning" about "terrist" activities.
Suspected members of extremist groups have signed up as school bus drivers in the United States, counterterror officials said Friday, in a cautionary bulletin to police.
But there is nothing to see here, let's move along, folks.
Asked about the alert notice, the FBI’s Rich Kolko said, “There are no threats, no plots and no history leading us to believe there is any reason for concern,”
I guess they just wanted to see if we were listening.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another sky pilot does a ground loop

I am as willing to let folks practice their religion as the next man, but sometimes the practice seems very, very far from perfect.
A 10th Mountain Division chaplain was stripped of his rank and sentenced to five months in military prison after pleading guilty to adultery and threatening to kill his mistress when she wanted to end their relationship, Fort Drum officials said Friday.

Capt. John Lau — a Southern Baptist minister described by the mistress as a manipulative sadist — was tried by a military judge who also ordered him dismissed from the Army with all pay and allowances forfeited.

Lau, 50, admitted he threatened to hunt down and kill Amanda Tyler, a 34-year-old British woman he met in 2004 while stationed in England, brought to the U.S. and “married” during a mock ceremony last year at Niagara Falls.

Lau was so cavalier about his extramarital relationship that he routinely brought both women to official Fort Drum functions and introduced Tyler as his “wife’s friend,” he testified during a general court-martial Thursday.
I must have missed the Sunday school that taught that "Hypocrisy is next to godliness"

Why Scooter & The Shooter should be in Gitmo

From the opening statement of Valerie Plame Wilson at todays hearing.
In the course of the trial of Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, I was shocked at the evidence that emerged. My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA, and having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer. The CIA took great lengths to protect all of its employees, provided at significant taxpayer expense, painstakingly devised creative covers for its most sensitive staffers. The harm that is done when a CIA cover is blown is grave, but I can't provide details beyond that in this public hearing. But the concept is obvious. Not only have breaches of national security endangered CIA officers, it has jeopardized, even destroyed entire networks of foreign agents, who in turn risk their own lives and those of their families to provide the United States with needed intelligence. Lives are literally at stake. Every single one of my former CIA collegues, my fellow covert officers, to analysts to technical operations officers, even the secretaries, understand the vulnerabilities of our officers and recognize that the travesty of what happened to me could happen to them.
She lost her job. We lost part of our real security. People she worked with have probably lost their lives. Libby, Cheney, Rove and the others should no longer be free.

Gen Petraeus warming up his Westmoreland imitation

It was a "killer" routine when he was a cadet but it needs some polishing up after all these years. Nevertheless, he gave it a go and should be going public with it soon.
The top US commander in Iraq has requested another Army brigade, on top of five already on the way, as part of the controversial "surge" of American troops designed to clamp down on sectarian violence and insurgent groups, senior Pentagon officials said today.

The appeal -- not yet made public -- by Gen. David Petraeus for a combat aviation unit would involve between 2,500 and 3,000 more soldiers and dozens of transport helicopters and powerful gunships, said the Pentagon sources. That would bring the planned expansion of US forces so far to close to 30,000 troops.

News of the additional deployment comes about a week after President Bush announced that about 4,700 support troops will join the initial 21,500 he ordered in January. They are in addition to the estimated 130,000 troops already in Iraq.

"This is the next shoe to drop," said one senior Pentagon official closely involved in the war planning. "But you cannot put five combat brigades in there and not have more aviation guys, military police, and intelligence units."
First the camel puts his nose in the tent...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Alberto must go!

And you can sign the petition here.
If you have a blog, give them a post.

Time to start working on Plan B

The NY Times is reporting what many of us already know, Iraq is not up to scratch yet for the various benchmarks set by Our Very Generous And Embattled Leader.
The Bush administration, which six months ago issued a series of political goals for the Iraqi government to meet by this month, is now tacitly acknowledging that the goals will take significantly longer to achieve....

...A “notional political timeline” that the administration provided to Congress in January in an attachment to a letter from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had called for most of the objectives to be met by this month.

Four of the significant objectives are final approval of an oil law regulating distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the oil industry; reversal of the de-Baathification laws that are widely blamed for alienating Sunnis by driving them out of government ministries; the holding of local elections; and reform of Iraq’s Constitution.

A Pentagon assessment of progress in Iraq through the end of last year, submitted to Congress on Wednesday, notes that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki “has promised to reform his government, beginning with his cabinet and the ministries,” but that none of those steps had yet happened. It cited the “passage of a framework” last month for sharing oil revenues among Iraq’s ethnic groups as a modest sign of progress, but notes that the last two months of 2006, before Mr. Bush announced his new strategy, “saw little progress on the reconciliation front.”
But there never was any intention of holding to these benchmarks. Even the NYT knows this.
Administration officials have never rescinded the “notional timeline,” though the Iraqi government had already missed most of the deadlines by the time Ms. Rice gave it to Congress in January.
I guess the sooner we dispose of the idea of benchmarks, the sooner we can forget the concept of "Plan B". Georgie said he was going to keep us there forever and he is a man of his word.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Joe Plugs" gives a speech

I am no fan of Joe Biden D-Visa but it is fun to hear the truth spoken by someone who remembers how to do a little old time speechifying.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tom Toles Tuesday

Why it is good to be president.

Mr. Bush, having made his choice, went on to describe the delights to be expected later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Music Blogging

This video was made 3 years ago but as you will see at the end, only the numbers have changed.

Jesus has left the building

A lesbian couple in Gillette have been told they can't receive communion at the church they've attended since 1998, in part because they publicly opposed a bill that would have barred Wyoming from recognizing gay marriages.
No word yet on whether he was weeping at the time.

It sure took long enough

But Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley has finally got the boot. As a measure of how well he served the Bushoviks he was allowed to retire.
Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren asked for Kiley's resignation, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approved the action, a senior Pentagon official said.

In its official announcement, the Army said Kiley had requested retirement.
After they opened that can of worms, Kiley was going to go one way or another. It's too bad he gets out with a full pension while so many of the wounded are fighting for any kind of disability support.

UPDATE: The Army Times has an analysis of the disability numbers.
The 2006 disability retirement numbers released by the Defense Department show trends similar to an analysis of data reported by Military Times this week.

Though 10,460 soldiers went through medical retirement system in 2006, only 412 received lifetime retirement benefits. But in the Air Force, where 6,000 fewer airmen went through the process, 514 people received lifetime medical retirement benefits.

Read the new data analysis for 2005 and 2006 here.

The Navy and Marine Corps combined sent 5,348 people through the process, with 151 receiving permanent medical retirement.

Conversely, the number of injured soldiers given one-time severance pay in 2006 was five times the number of injured airmen. Service members with severance payments do not receive medical benefits for life or the other benefits that come with being a retiree, such as commissary and exchange benefits or continued military health care. This has proven problematic for service members who then go to the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical benefits, because they must first pay back their severance pay before receiving disability payments from the VA.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Filho da puta"
Traditional Brazilian greeting bestowed on people of the stature of George W Bush

Something everyone can support

Fisher House is an organization providing support for the families of wounded military personnel during their hospital stay. It provides housing at various hopitals around the country and travel assistance for the family members. I learned of this organization from a post by Lindsey Bayerstein on Tom Tomorrow's blog. If you want to give something, you can go HERE. If you have a blog, give them a post.

Congress gets an e-mail

Well, the cementhead who represents my district got this one.
Now that Halliburton is planning to move its corporate headquarters from Texas to Dubai, do you think this would be a good time to reconsider the wisdom of having a now foreign company providing vital support for our troops. Whether you are talking about rotten food, polluted drinking water, overpriced gasoline or simply overpaid mercenaries, shouldn't these services be provided by a true blue American company?

Given the large personal commitment to the military of so many of your constituents, you have a duty to speak out against selling their support to foreign corporations. If it wasn't good enough for the ports, why should the troops put up with it.
It's simple and easy to do. From HOUSE.GOV you can find your own cementhead's official website. Most have an easy to use e-mail setup, but there are those who just don't want to hear from you. For those you have to use the telephone or snail-mail. And be civil, unless you have established a prior working arrangement/

The moon gets green cheesier every day

McClatchy reporters Margaret Talev and Marisa Taylor interviewed the head of the New Mexico Republican party yesterday and today have this report.
Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

"Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.

"He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

"I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'" said Weh.
But, he hastens to reassure us, despite the Hallelujah chorus "Weh insisted this wasn't about partisan politics." So the state head of the Republican party calls the Republicans main Political Commissar to do something about a Republican US attorney who wasn't doing enough to attack the Democrats in an election year and he wants us to believe that it wasn't partisan? It sounds to me like their green cheese mine is boring down to the lunar Mother Lode.

The Poodle loyally follows his master.

Even into places he should know not to go. The WaPo details how Tony Blair has imitated Our Dear Embattled Leader even to the way the Brits treat their wounded soldiers.
British soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving "appallingly" poor care in British hospitals, according to families who have made complaints similar to those leveled against the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

"We gloriously see them off to war and then neglect them when they come back," said Phillip Cooper, whose son, Jamie, 18, is an soldier who was severely injured in a mortar attack in Iraq in November. "They lay down their lives for their country, then they get treated appallingly."

Detailing a long list of problems in his son's care during a telephone interview, Cooper said his son's colostomy bag has been allowed to overflow twice, forcing him to lie in his own feces. On one occasion, Cooper said he and his wife changed the bag themselves after nurses on duty at the Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, Britain's principal medical center tending to wounded soldiers, said they did not know how.
Walter Reed had a soldier lying in his own urine and the Brits have one lying in his own shit. It's been close to 100 years since military medicine was this bad but conservatives do so love to live in the past.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

The words of Inigo Montoya best describe my reaction to the AP-Ipsos poll that asked people what they looked for in a candidate.
A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll says 55 percent of those surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate.
If that is so how do you explain these results?
Among Republican and GOP-leaning voters, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani leads Arizona Sen. John McCain 35 percent to 22 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 11 percent, followed in the single digits by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.
Unless these numbers came from the other 45% who would seem to prefer lying, morally bankrupt candidates of decidedly low character.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Osama bin Laden turns 50

And Our Dear Embattled Leader is still looking for him in Iraq. He now says he needs another 8,500 troops on top of the 21,500 troops he asked for his "surge", to find the elusive Arab. Maybe he should have sent birthday greetings instead, to General Delivery, Waziristan. Just put "Address Correction Requested" on the envelope and ODEL would know where to find ObL.

Here we go again.

Most of the readers of this blog should be old enough to remember the beginning of the first Bush II depression. The bursting of the technology bubble amid all the happy talk and then the revealing of all the sordid details, culminating in Enron and WorldCom. According to Gretchen Morgenson, we are on the way to a reprise, this time using mortgages.

On March 1, a Wall Street analyst at Bear Stearns wrote an upbeat report on a company that specializes in making mortgages to cash-poor homebuyers. The company, New Century Financial, had already disclosed that a growing number of borrowers were defaulting, and its stock, at around $15, had lost half its value in three weeks.

What happened next seems all too familiar to investors who bought technology stocks in 2000 at the breathless urging of Wall Street analysts. Last week, New Century said it would stop making loans and needed emergency financing to survive. The stock collapsed to $3.21.

The analyst’s untimely call, coupled with a failure among other Wall Street institutions to identify problems in the home mortgage market, isn’t the only familiar ring to investors who watched the technology stock bubble burst precisely seven years ago...

...Already, more than two dozen mortgage lenders have failed or closed their doors, and shares of big companies in the mortgage industry have declined significantly. Delinquencies on loans made to less creditworthy borrowers — known as subprime mortgages —recently reached 12.6 percent. Some banks have reported rising problems among borrowers that were deemed more creditworthy as well.

And her article goes on to disclose some of the dogs breakfast that is the mortgage backed securities market. It is not a pretty sight. This one will probably hit us all, right about the time that China dumps its Trillion dollar US Treasury holdings.

Frank Rich

He writes, you read.

'Nuff said.

If Newt is running for president.

He is going to need some help.

Quote of the Day

And, we have to get a message through to every soldier, every family member, every friend of soldiers that the Republican party, the Republican dominated Congress has absolutely been the worst thing that's happened to the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps."
Army Major General Paul D. Eaton, on Real Time wirh Bill Maher.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi answers Bush's veto threat

President Bush’s Iraq policies weaken our military’s readiness, dishonor our nation’s promises to our veterans, and fail to hold the Iraqi government accountable for overdue reforms.

By threatening to veto the House’s military funding bill, the President is walking away from his promise to the American people. The President has vowed to veto a bill that contains his own reform benchmarks for performance by the Iraqi government, our Defense Department’s own standards for troop readiness, and America’s promise to our veterans.

With his veto threat, the President offers only an open-ended commitment to a war without end that dangerously ignores the repeated warnings of military leaders, including the commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, who declared in Baghdad this week that the conflict cannot be resolved militarily.

The House of Representatives will soon have a chance to choose a new direction for the American people. The bill the President dismisses out of hand will measure the Iraqi government’s actions by the standards Mr. Bush himself set, conforms deployment of our troops to existing military standards for readiness, and provides badly needed help to an overburdened military and veterans’ medical system wracked by scandal.

In the Bushovik world

Our Dear Embattled Leader has taken a few moments from his South American tour of very secure areas to reassure the public in the matter of the Justice Dept IG report on the multiple FBI violations of the law.
President Bush said today his administration is working to put a halt to law enforcement abuses of new anti-terrorist intelligence-gathering powers, and he expressed continued confidence in the attorney general and FBI director.

"These problems will be addressed as quickly as possible," Bush said at a news conference in Uruguay, his second stop on a six-day Latin America tour.
He is expected to name a new, more compliant Inspector General next week, upon his return.

A few good Scooter jokes

"Scooter Libby, who got indicted, has set up a legal defense fund to help pay his legal bills. It's pretty good, for a $1,000 donation you get a hand-written thank you note and the name of a CIA agent." --Jay Leno

"If convicted Libby could face the following penalties: obstruction of justice: 10 years in prison; making false statements: 5 years; perjury: 4 years; going to jail with the name Scooter: priceless." --Tina Fey

"Scooter Libby was found guilty of perjury, obstruction, and making false statements -- or as the White House calls it, a press conference." --Bill Maher

"I say if Bush doesn't pardon him, at least he should give him a new nickname, because if you have Scooter on the back of your prison jump suit, you are just asking for it." --Bill Maher

From Daniel Kurtzman,

The power of Coulter

Last week, following the most recent vile remarks from The Skank, the campaign of Sen. John Edwards began an internets push for $100,000 to answer her attack. How are they doing? According to the NY Times:
An Internet fund-raising appeal begun last week after the conservative commentator Ann Coulter referred to Mr. Edwards using an antigay slur has already yielded more than $300,000, Mr. Baron said.
Three times what they asked for in one week. That is how to marginalize her up. No one wants to support the opposition.

Friday, March 09, 2007

How it works

The Charlotte Observer has an article on the sad state of a North Carolina VA hospital. The key findings sum up the oversight process well.
A team of federal investigators spent four days at a hospital here in 2005 to see whether thousands of N.C. veterans were consistently receiving safe and thorough care.

Their conclusion: Not a chance.

In particular, they cited what they called the inadequate care received by two veterans who died at the hospital.

The inspectors determined the Hefner VA Medical Center, one of the fastest-growing VA hospitals in the U.S., was a mess...

...Using the clinically blunt language of the medical bureaucracy, the team describes a facility with poorly trained doctors and nurses who, among other things, cut corners on treatment, manipulated records and didn't talk enough with patients and families.
Two years ago they found the care to be sadly lacking. At this time the patients would include Iraqi vets as well as those of earlier wars. So they institute a plan for improvement, fire poor performers and bring in new equipment, right? Nope.
Though they never made a follow-up trip to Salisbury, federal investigators say they closed the case last year. Donald Moore, director of the hospital at the time of the inspection and now head of a VA facility in Phoenix, could not be reached for comment.
Not even a failed effort, but no effort whatsoever!. I wonder if they got a bonus for closing the case? And Don Moore is still on the prowl in Phoenix.

Newt Gingrich is a lying hypocrite

Raise your hand if you DID NOT know that.

What's your unit, soldier?

Because that's how we decide your disability. That and what state you are from. And how many folks from your state have served. And don't be in such a hurry, we didn't know you were coming until you showed up.That pretty much sums up the VA's method for dealing with disability determinations.
Veterans face serious inequities in compensation for disabilities depending on where they live and whether they were on active duty or were members of the National Guard or the Reserve, an analysis by The New York Times has found.

Those factors determine whether some soldiers wait nearly twice as long to get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs as others, and collect less money, according to agency figures.

“The V.A. is supposed to provide uniform and fair treatment to all,” said Steve Robinson, the director of veteran affairs for Veterans for America. “Instead, the places and services giving the most are getting the least.”
They deserve so much better than they are getting.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A morning commute ... in Baghdad

From the McClatchy blog:

As drove along I was thinking, “Oh, this is unusual; there are no traffic jams, no check stops.. I’m going to reach work very early.” It usually takes two hours to drive less than three miles to work.

Then the shooting began.

From both sides of the highway, I could hear gunfire … coming at me!

Then I realized they were shooting at one another and I was caught in the crossfire.

So that’s why the highway is clear. Furtively looking around,I saw a police patrol under the bridge and a policeman gesturing madly to me to hurry. I sped to the relative safety of the column under the bridge, and stopped, heart pounding. Will I make it safely home to my family today?? Or am I going to be just one more statistic, one more “unidentified body” for my colleagues to include in the roundup of violence for the day, we daren’t carry IDs lest they be used against our families.

And you thought a little gridlock was bad.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A doubleheader

From Pat Oliphant

When is a surge not a surge?

When it goes on and on forever. Or at least until Our Dear Embattled Leader is safely retired to some non extraditable location. And that is what Gen Raymond T. Odierno, commander of ground forces and #1 cheerleader of the surge, is calling for today.
The day-to-day commander of American forces in Iraq has recommended that the heightened American troop levels there be maintained through February 2008, military officials said Wednesday.

The White House has never said exactly how long it intends the troop buildup to last, but military officials say the increased American force level will begin declining in August unless additional units are sent or more units are held over.
There won't be anymore to send so as long as they are there, we might as well keep them there instead of bringing them home and then sending them back. And it fits right into the Republican ideal of "Love the War and Hate the Troops". Maybe if they stay long enough, somebody will come up with a plan, ya think?

Quote of the Day

"It is a shame that a man goes to war for his nation, and when he comes home he has to go to war to get his benefits and is treated like a criminal. You know what his crime is: He got wounded fighting for his country."
e-mail from disabled Iraq veteran to Joe Galloway

What a difference 4 years makes.

From McClatchy:
Four years ago, Iraqi poet Abbas Chaychan, a Shiite Muslim who'd been forced into exile during the predominantly Sunni Muslim regime of Saddam Hussein, hailed the American presence here in a poem that praised the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer.

"We have breakfasts of kabab and qaymar," he wrote, describing the new Iraq with a reference to a rich cream that's considered a sign of wealth. "We put, in your stead, Mr. Bremer / Better than a tyrant of our own flesh and blood, and his torture."

Last January, shortly after Saddam was hanged, Chaychan again put words to paper. But his outlook had changed.

"History is proud to write about him," he said of Saddam. "It wasn't a rope that wrapped around the neck / It was the neck that wrapped around the rope. ...

"From his childhood he was a leader, stubborn and against the occupation."

As the anniversary of the March 20, 2003, U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nears, many Iraqis, like Chaychan, are expressing nostalgia for the time more than 1,000 days ago when Saddam's statue stood proudly in Baghdad's Fardos Square.
Congratulations Georgie! It takes one heckuva guy to make Saddam Hussein look good.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scooter meet Cooter

"Yew two guys got almost the same name! Yew must be almost related. Like kissin' cousins or sumptin'. Hee, Hee, Hee"
While that scenario won't play out for a long time what with appeals and all, and given Our Dear Embattled Leader's penchant for rewarding what decent people call miserable failures, it is possible now that it will never happen (can you say preznitenshal pardon?), nevertheless Irv Libby has been found guilty of 4 of the 5 counts of his indictment. And along the way much of the malfeasence of this criminal consortium was exposed. So now we wait for the next round.

Australia has kangaroos, Our Dear Leader has kangaroo courts.

And the government of the Bush, by the Bush and most importantly, for the Bush will give us an edited look at how its done, after they have finished.
Reporters will be barred from hearings that begin Friday in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the 14 terror suspects who were transferred last year from secret CIA prisons, officials said Tuesday....

...In announcing the hearings, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he could not say which of the 14 would go first or how long the process would take.

No word of the hearings will be made public until the government releases a transcript of the proceedings, edited to remove material deemed damaging to national security, he said.
National security, thy name is Bush! Really and truly, other than all the rest of us Americans whom he doesn't care a fig about, who else would be damaged by what is said in the 'roo courts? Certainly not the detainees for their fate has for sure already been decided by the evil Vizier Dickwahd al-Cheney.

Tom Toles Tuesday

Monday, March 05, 2007

Why is this?

In a country owned by the richest corporations in the world, why can this be allowed?
McLeod, Duncan and Shannon described a system in which the injured have to justify their wounds in order to earn their disability payments. They said that Army medical personnel can diagnose their conditions, but case managers can question the diagnoses, prolonging their ordeal.

Paperwork gets lost, appointments get postponed and decisions get delayed,
Only if you Love the War and Hate the Troops.

Blood found in Dickwahd al-Cheney's veins

No doubt a leftover from his time before the UnDeath. The doctors moved swiftly to clean out the remnants.

Monday Music blogging

Looking at the faces in the crowd, this old cynic had to wonder how many of them voted for Bush.

Quote of the Day

"Plan B was to make Plan A work."
Gen. Peter Pace explaining to a group of governors that there is no plan in Iraq.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

If there was a God

This would be happening to evil bastards like Our Dear Embattled Leader and Dickwahd al-Cheney.
Stacy Beardsley, a soldier's wife released this week from the hospital after a grueling surgery, watched two men in pressed military uniforms walk steadily to her front door.

"Tell me he's just hurt," the Indiana woman told the pair, according to family friend Marilyn Piersdorf.

"Well, they couldn't tell her that," Piersdorf said.

Her husband, Army Sgt. William "B.J." Beardsley, who recently lived in Coon Rapids, died Monday in Diwaniyah, Iraq, 80 miles south of Baghdad, after a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle.

The 25-year-old soldier had re-enlisted, in part, for the health insurance to cover his wife's medical bills.

He died the day she left the hospital.
But no, the Evil One still lives and his Pinocchio stumbles about the Gulf Coast handing out flags to people who have lost everything. And still the self appointed guardians of our morality tell us we are a "Christian" nation. To which I say, HORSESHIT! HORSESHIT! HORSESHIT!If this were a truly christian nation, those two evil bastards would be getting buggered in Guantanamo as we speak.

California!! I thought this was in Iraq!

From CNN:
More than 1 million rounds of ammunition, a cache of weapons and a tunnel were found at a man's home after an explosive fire that forced a neighborhood evacuation, authorities said Friday...

...After the blaze was extinguished, crews discovered metal and wooden boxes of ammunition for shotguns, small handguns and assault rifles.

Dozens of metal and cardboard boxes filled with ammunition for shotguns, small handguns and assault rifles sat in a driveway. Two of the assault rifles were illegal,
It seems he had a problem with squirrels in the attic.

Reserves losing their jobs while in Iraq

And the law is quite explicit in saying that should not happen. It also has a limited enforcement arm to insure compliance. As a result, there is little or no enforcement and businesses, and the government itself, are refusing to rehire returning veterans. Ann McFeatters, writing in the Toledo Blade has some of the shameless details.
An Air Force nurse with 32 years in the military, seven in active duty, and nearly two-dozen medals for valor and service, was terminated from her civilian health-care job of 10 years when she was sent to Iraq for four months last year...

...Last November, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sent its annual report to Congress on veterans and disabled veterans working for the federal government. The press release said, "And by every measure, the Bush Administration is living up to its commitment to make career opportunities available to soldiers, sailors, and airmen." The report said the total number of veterans employed in 2005 out of a federal government work force of 1.8 million was 456,254. But the number of veterans newly hired in 2005 was only 5,000 more than the number hired in 2004.

That was also when 36 members of the Florida National Guard got letters, while serving in combat in Iraq, informing them that their jobs in a federal drug-interdiction program were abolished.

The Denver magazine report told of a 53-year-old Marine, in the service for 29 years, who deployed for nine months in Kuwait and Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

When he got home, he was fired from his $88,000-a-year job in a firm where he'd worked for 19 years. He was allegedly told by the Department of Labor, where his commanding officer referred him, that he didn't have a legal case unless he heard somebody say he was fired because of his military service.
When even the government does it, how can any business hold back? And when is any business going to tell you the real reason when they know they are breaking the law? Just another example of Republican values, Love the War and Hate The Troops.

Quote of the Day

While he is a Mormon, a religious sect that not so long ago tacitly allowed polygamy, Romney, unlike his Republican challengers - John McCain, Giuliani and Newt Gingrich have all had multiple wives even if not all at once - Romney has opted to settle for one wife.
Sydney Morning Herald article on CPAC

The rules for the warden

The LA Times has an Op-Ed written by Marine Captain Mike Carlson who was in charge of one of the detention facilities in Fallouja. The rules are simple in construct and every one carries an element of life or death.
[ 2 ]

It's not personal.

The enta who screams "meesta!" every 10 seconds for 48 hours straight isn't doing it to infuriate you, his captor. What it boils down to is that he can't pronounce "mister," and he was carrying that 155-millimeter round in the back of his pickup, and he was going to try to blow you up, and the reason he was picked by the insurgent leaders to haul the shell is that he's soft in the head, which is why he cannot stop screaming "meesta!"

The major who watches NASCAR races on satellite TV in his air-conditioned office at the battalion headquarters while you and your Marines march entas to and from the latrines in 120-degree heat isn't doing it to antagonize you, his subordinate. Frankly, he's just over here for the retirement money, and he didn't want to be in charge of four regional detention facilities in Al Anbar province any more than you wanted to end up as the warden in Fallouja. He wants to keep his head down and forget about the fact that if one, just one, of your Marines snaps and goes Abu Ghraib on a detainee, his pension is out the window.
Captain Carlson was fortunate, he and his unit finished their tour without major loss.

This is your legacy George - part 9

On the front page of the New York Times today is an article on the current way of life in Baghdad. The results of the civil war, called sectarian strife by those who want more bloodshed, are outlined by the streets that mark the boundaries of the different neighborhoods occupied by Sunni and Shi'a.
After centuries full of vibrant interaction, of marrying, sharing and selling across sects and classes, Baghdad has become a capital of corrosive and violent borderlines. Streets never crossed. Conversations never started. Doors never entered...

...The goal of the new Baghdad security plan is to fix all of this — to fashion a peace that stitches the city’s cleaved neighborhoods back together. After three weeks, there are a few signs of progress. The number of bodies found daily has decreased to 20 or fewer from 35 to 50. In some areas closely patrolled by American troops, a few of the families that fled the violence are said to be returning.

But even in neighborhoods that are improving or are relatively calm, borders loom. Streets once crossed without a thought are now bullet-riddled and abandoned, the front lines of a block-by-block war among Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, competing criminal gangs and Iraqi and American troops.

Some Americans who have seen both Bosnia and Iraq say Baghdad has come to resemble Sarajevo as it began to unravel in the 1990s, latticed with boundaries that are never openly indicated but are passed on in fearful whispers among neighbors who have suffered horrific losses.
Similar to Sarajevo at the beginning of that city's great tragedy, not the middle or end. The evil djinn of their passions has only just been let out of the bottle and no amount of US blood and treasure can put it back in for the Iraqis. That is something they will have to do for themselves. But never fear Georgie, they will always revere you for taking the cap off the bottle.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

A threat to your health can not impede the march to profit.

The FDA was created to protect the public from health problems caused by food and drugs. It is about to take action contrary to that mission and the WaPo has the story for you.

The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonia-like disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency's own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.

The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals.

The American Medical Association and about a dozen other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals would probably speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotics, as has happened with other drugs. Those super-microbes could then spread to people.

Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by InterVet Inc. of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle.

Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh the threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs.

Guidance is a good thing most of the time. When good science and good sense requires an override, it is criminal to continue on the guidance path. But corporate profit will have its way.

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