Friday, August 31, 2007

This Blogger will be down for maintenance

Between 12:01 AM 9/1/07 and sometime on 9/9/07.

Whoo Hoo! That was fun!

Several freeloading Congressmooches had what could have been the ride of their lives recently. As it turned out, it was better than a roller coaster ride.
A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.
But these were manly-men Republicans, being shot at fazed them not.
Despite the scare, Shelby, Martinez and Cramer said they believed the recent increase in troop levels has helped stabilize parts of the country.
If the country is so stabilized, how come the hajis couldn't steady their aim?

"Surge On" Gen Petraeus says "It's working"

But he wants that seat at the head of the JCS table so badly that he would admit that Dickwahd Cheney was his mother. But he has the numbers all finely cooked and arranged on the serving platter ready for the banquet he will set before the slathering hordes of Congress. But he sounds just as convincing as Westmoreland was about Viet Nam. But Westy was never right. And neither is Petraeus. But Petraeus is only facing retirement, with all his limbs and his health, if he screws up. But he can score a senior management position in a major corporation and a few cushy board seats if he retires. There are no IED's or snipers in a boardroom, just ask Tommy Franks.

Sizing up your Congressman

Much in the fashion of "Know Your Enemy" literature given to the troops, members of the various congressional delegations to Iraq that the soldiers were given flyers describing the various positions of this "foe".
The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.

In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. "Moran on Iraq policy," read one section, going on to cite some the congressman's most incendiary statements, such as, "This has been the worst foreign policy fiasco in American history."

The bio of Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.) -- "TAU (rhymes with 'now')-sher," the bio helpfully relates -- was no less pointed, even if she once supported the war and has taken heat from liberal Bay Area constituents who remain wary of her position. "Our forces are caught in the middle of an escalating sectarian conflict in Iraq, with no end in sight," the bio quotes.

"This is beyond parsing. This is being slimed in the Green Zone," Tauscher said of her bio.
So far no one has pinpointed where the sheets originated but with an administration that has politicized everything else they touched, it is hard to imagine they would leave the military untouched.

A slow unwrapping

Probably as much as Our Dear Embattled Leader's faiure to plan or the increasing death toll, the gradual revealing of the extent of corruption in Irag is a good reason for leaving that country.
The Army has suspended 22 companies and individuals, at least temporarily, from pursuing government work because of contract fraud investigations in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, an Army spokesman said Thursday. A total of 18 companies and individuals are barred for a definite period from government work. Seven more face debarment.

The court papers make clear that investigators have concluded that Lee Dynamics paid large bribes to numerous United States officials in Iraq and Kuwait. Major Davis is one official cited. Another is an Army officer, identified in the investigator’s report as “Person B,” because he is now cooperating with the investigation. He acknowledged receiving $50,000 in cash bribes from the company, the court papers said. Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation or the contracting office in Iraq at the time said “Person B” was Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who worked with an officer who has emerged as a focus of the investigation in the weapons case in Iraq.

That officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, was at the heart of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. She worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded the effort at the time. The general is now the top commander in Iraq. There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This train came from a long way off.

Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.
And the American people have seen it coming all that way. It is time for you to be mad as hell! There is no reason for you to take it anymore.

Jimmy B calls for impeachment

And he states the case in this little nutshell.
I have here in front of me a large number of pages that I keep for their significance. They are from a United States Senate hearing and are titled, "In Re Impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton."

He was only the 42nd person in our nation to make the commitment to "faithfully execute" the Office of the President and to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution."

He was being impeached over lying about girls.

Bush the President is our 43rd. He lied to the nation to get us into a war in Iraq that is without end. Every young person who has died leaves drops of blood on Bush's hands and those of everyone around him. He lied to the nation and daily he tries every greasy way to undermine the Constitution he is sworn to uphold. Thus making his oath false.

Clinton's charges seem frivolous. But Bush appears to have committed high crimes and misdemeanors and must be thrown out of office in the disgrace that he is.

See how they surge

Follow the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division as McClatchy reports on their day to day activity around Salman Pak.
Standing in a small room in the Iraqi home they'd raided an hour earlier, a dozen soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were trading jokes when 1st Sgt. Troy Moore, Company A's senior enlisted man, shouted out.

"We're bringing democracy to Iraq," he called, with obvious sarcasm, as a reporter entered the room. Then Moore began loudly humming the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Within seconds the rest of the troops had joined in, filling the small, barren home in the middle of Iraq with the patriotic chorus of a Civil War-era ballad.

U.S. officials say that security has improved since the Sledgehammer Brigade, as the 3rd Brigade is called, arrived five months ago as part of the 30,000-strong buildup of additional U.S. troops to Iraq and took control of an area 30 miles southeast of Baghdad. The brigade, with 3,800 soldiers, has eight times the number of troops that were in the area before.

Although the soldiers who since spring have walked and ridden through this volatile area mixed with Sunni and Shiite Muslims have seen some signs of progress, they still face the daily threat of roadside bombs, an unreliable Iraqi police force, the limitations of depending on Iraqis for tips and the ever-elusive enemy.
They do their job even as they know it is time to go, something that Our Dear Embattled Leader can't quite figure out for himself.
"Even though we've out-stayed our welcome, in the big picture of whether we've helped or not, I know we have," said Sgt. Christofer Kitto, a 23-year-old sniper from Altamont, N.Y. "But now it's just in a state of quagmire. The U.S. time here has come and gone."
Time to pack up and go home, but the Big Fool says to push on.

Quote of the Day

“The White House did offer a statement today on the Larry Craig sex scandal. A presidential spokesman expressed disappointment, but refused to say whether Craig should keep his job. That means the White House is trying to stay detached from Senator Craig in much the same way the White House has tried to stay removed from the lingering Gulf Coast problems since Hurricane Katrina.”
David Schuster,MSNBC journalist on "Hardballs"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Jack's Opera continues

For his continued cooperation with federal prosecutors, Jack Abramoff may get another delay in his bribery case.

Lawyers for the government and the disgraced former GOP superlobbyist are asking to postpone for another three months sentencing Abramoff for fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to corrupt public officials, to which he pleaded guilty more than 18 months ago.

During that time, Abramoff is expected to continue helping the government's investigators "for the foreseeable future," the two groups said in their request to U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle. The delay would be the fourth so far in Abramoff's bribery case and would push his sentencing date at least into December.
Ol' Jack must be in good voice And who would want to interrupt a beautiful song.

Quote of the Day

$500 Billion wasted on Iraq, and of course, providing basic medical services to 47 million Americans can't be done because it's a waste of tax dollars.
Dr. Attaturk

A better idea

Two years ago today

Katrina came ashore and showed to all the world the hollowness of George W. Bush. Never before has a US president followed one unmitigated disaster with another unmitigated disaster. On August 29, 2005 George W. Bush had that opportunity and seized it with both hands.

Heckuva legacy, Georgie Boy!

A simple question

But the answer has real world implications that may well be beyond the power of Our Dear Embattled Leader to grasp.
IS America’s presence in Iraq legal? As Republicans and Democrats debate the ethical and practical considerations for and against the withdrawal of the United States forces, this question scarcely comes up. But within a few months, it could, suddenly and with potentially decisive impact.
This is more than some lawyers lunch time argument and it is not something that ODEL can dismiss out of hand, but he probably will.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This will get ugly before it gets uglier.

The New York Times is reporting that multiple investigations of false invoicing, bid rigging, double billing, fraud and bribery are under way in Iraq. That pretty much covers the Republican pantheon of acceptable wartime behavior and, so far, the majority of those indicted are contractors.
Several federal agencies are investigating a widening network of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions of dollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and American forces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted to the largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.

The inquiry has already led to several indictments of Americans, with more expected, the officials said. One of the investigations involves a senior American officer who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in setting up the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeus was in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005, American officials said Monday.

There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, who through a spokesman declined comment on any legal proceedings.
No telling how far this can go, but something like this has to go as far as it can. Anything less would be a dishonor to all those who serve honorably and to those who give their full measure of devotion to their country.

Uncle Sam supports the insurgents

Which should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the events in Iraq. Guerrillas have always lived to some degree off the opposing forces. In Iraq, is seems we are providing a smorgasbord.
An embassy spokesman, Noah Miller, said in an e-mailed statement that, "in terms of contracting practices, we have checks and balances in our contract awarding system to prevent any irregularities from occurring. Each contracted company is responsible for providing security for the project."

Providing that security is the source of the extortion, Iraqi contractors say. A U.S. company with a reconstruction contract hires an Iraqi sub-contractor to haul supplies along insurgent-ridden roads. The Iraqi contractor sets his price at up to four times the going rate because he'll be forced to give 50 percent or more to gun-toting insurgents who demand cash payments in exchange for the supply convoys' safe passage.

One Iraqi official said the arrangement makes sense for insurgents. By granting safe passage to a truck loaded with $10,000 in goods, they receive a "protection fee" that can buy more weapons and vehicles. Sometimes the insurgents take the goods, too.
So tell me again, how are they different from KBR or Blackwater?

O those wacky Chinese

Seems there isn't anything they won't do, for a laugh or whatever.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday that he viewed with "grave concern" a news report that hackers linked to the Chinese army had broken into the computer system in Merkel's office.

Over the weekend, Germany's Der Spiegel magazine reported that Chinese hackers — reportedly connected with the People's Liberation Army — had penetrated computer networks in Merkel's office and several ministries.
Wen promised to help fight those who sabotage computers, but I doubt that was the PLA's purpose for their visit.

Quote of the Day

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally done something important to advance the cause of justice. He has resigned.
New York Times editorial 8/28/07

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ali Bush-ba and His Forty Thieves

Actually there may be a lot more than 40 thieves but the didn't give Matt Taibbi enough room to write about all of them. And write he does about how Our Dear Embattled Leader is giving the public Treasury to his private friends.
And just maybe, reviewing this appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles, it's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too, with the state police working for Corrections Corporation of America, and DHL with the contract to deliver every Christmas card. And why not? What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
That boy does have a way with words.

Another Republican, another public toilet

It seems that the poor boys just can't avoid getting into trouble in them. The latest is Sen. Larry Craig R-ID. A well announced homophobe, it would appear that his stand has, in fact, developed from a deep seated self loathing. Perhaps now he can get the help he so urgently needs.

Fairy tales do come true.

At the very least, seemingly wild rumors are sometimes confirmed. One such rumor concerned the resignation of Alberto "Fredo" Gonzalez from his position as Attorney General of the US. For most of us, the reaction of John Edwards says it best.
"Better late than never."
For others, the work of investigating the latest crimes of the man who sanitized the records of Our Dear Embattled Leader to hide or obscure his history of desertion, drug use and drunkenness, continues.

When is a secret not a secret?

Or vice versa? Pretty much whenever the CIA says it is. To help you make understand it, Joseph Weisberg tries to explain without giving away too many secrets.
How can information that’s a five-minute Google search away be classified? It’s simple. Classified information is not the same thing as secret information.
He helps to make sense of the senseless.

Monday Music Blogging

I am posting this on a whim. Seeing and hearing Mimi brings back pleasant memories.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quiet Day in Baghdad

Maybe the Surge is working.
Police found (11) dead bodies in the following neighborhoods in Baghdad : (8) dead bodies were found in west Baghdad ( Karkh bank) ; 2 in Doura , 1 in Adel , 1 in Washash , 1 in Mahmoudiya and 1 in Amel. While (3) dead bodies were found in east Baghdad ( Risafa bank) ; 1 in Sadr city , 1 in Sleikh and 1 in Amen .
That is 3 less anonymous bodies than the 14 they found last Sunday.

23 years after entering service

and 5 years after entering Iraq, they are just now getting around to installing something like this on HUMVEES.
The $1.4 billion contract the Army awarded to Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace Aug. 21 will buy 6,500 Common Remotely Operated Weapons Stations over the next five years.

Despite numerous improvements to vehicle armor, soldiers are still required to man crew-served weapons in highly vulnerable turrets of Humvees and other armored security vehicles.

Their heads stick up out of the top of the vehicles, exposing them to sniper fire and shrapnel from homemade enemy bombs.

The CROWS allows the soldier to control the turret weapon with a joystick and a computer screen from relative safety inside the vehicle and shoot with near-perfect accuracy.
There should be enough in place in Iraq to reduce the number of gunners killed and wounded in the final 6 years of King George's War.

The joys of body count.

You can use whatever number makes you look good. Just like in this story from the AP.
The military said it dropped a 500-pound precision bomb on a house in Samarra on Sunday after a group of 30 masked men who fought U.S. troops escaped into the structure. City police and hospital officials said seven civilians, including five children, were killed.

Lt. Col. Michael Donnelly, spokesman for U.S. forces north of Baghdad, said a gunfight broke out when the men ran into a house where U.S. troops were conducting surveillance. The group opened fire on the Americans, then escaped in a truck and were tracked by an unmanned drone above the city. They were seen darting into the house that was subsequently bombed.

Donnelly said there were U.S. casualties but he did not elaborate.

Master Sgt. David Rhodes, spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said the initial gunfight spawned “multiple engagements throughout the next several hours in the city as Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, attempted to apprehend the attackers.”

Toward the end of the fighting, the gunmen assembled in a mosque, then split up, with five of them driving to the house that was bombed.

“Air Force aircraft engaged with a 500-pound bomb destroying the house,” Rhodes said in an e-mail.
So it starts out with 30 masked men, then it becomes 5 driving to the house, where somebody found 7 bodies, including 5 children. Regardless of how many were killed, they were all AQI because they were dead in the house that was bombed.

Please tell me again why we are in Iraq.

Where's Osama?

While most of America has ceased to ask this question, knowing full well Our Dear Embattled Leader has no intention of catching him and losing his prime boogeyman, the full story of what was and what might have been in the early days of the chase are in Newsweek today.
How can that be? With all its spy satellites and aerial drones, killer commandos and millions in reward money, why can't the world's greatest superpower find a middle-aged, possibly ill, religious fanatic with a medieval mind-set? The short answer, sometimes overlooked, is that good, real-time intelligence about the enemy is hard to come by in any war, and manhunts are almost always difficult, especially if the fugitive can vanish into a remote region with a sympathetic population. (Think how long—five years—it took the FBI to track down Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympic bomber, in the wilds of North Carolina.) That said, the U.S. government has made the job harder than necessary. The Iraq War drained resources from the hunt, and some old bureaucratic bugaboos—turf battles and fear of risk—undermined the effort. The United States can't just barge into Pakistan without upsetting, and possible dooming, President Pervez Musharraf, who seems to lurch between trying to appease his enemies and riling them with heavy-handed repression.

The story of the search for the men known to American spies and soldiers as high-value targets one and two (HVT 1 and HVT 2)—Osama bin Laden and his possibly more dangerous No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri—is a frustrating, at times agonizing, tale of missed opportunities, damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't choices, and outright blunders. It has been related to NEWSWEEK by dozens of American, Pakistani and Afghan military and intelligence officials, as well as a few Qaeda sympathizers like Omar Farooqi. Capturing bin Laden "continues to be a huge priority," says Frances Fragos Townsend, President George W. Bush's chief counterterror adviser. It may be true, as Townsend points out, that Qaeda leaders do not have anything like the safe haven they enjoyed in Afghanistan before 9/11. But it is also true that Al Qaeda has been reconstituting itself in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that the terrorist organization is determined to stage more 9/11s, and maybe soon. "We have very strong indicators that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the West and is likely to attack, and we are pretty sure about that," says retired Vice Adm. John Redd, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, which coordinates all U.S. intelligence in the so-called Global War on Terror (GWOT). Hank Crumpton, who ran the CIA's early hunt for bin Laden in 2001-02 as deputy chief of the agency's counterterrorism center and recently retired as the State Department's coordinator of counterterrorism, says, "It's bad; it's going to come."
A long read, but worth the time needed to read.

Here is your chance

Because you know the guy next to you at work is too dumb to know Fox lies.

RUMOR: Gonzo is 'Good to Go'

Or so says Paul Bedard in US News & World Report. Our Dear Embattled Leader's little Fredo may be OK with this, after all he has the pictures safely stored away somewhere, but it goes against the "character" of ODEL to let his little buddy go until he is ready.
The buzz among top Bushies is that beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally plans to depart and will be replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Why Chertoff? Officials say he's got fans on Capitol Hill, is untouched by the Justice prosecutor scandal, and has more experience than Gonzales did, having served as a federal judge and assistant attorney general.
Even without the reasons given over at Talking Points Memo, the idea of replacing Gonzo with Dr. Doom looks like a real non starter.

General dissatisfaction.

Today in the NY Times magazine, Fred Kaplan has a serious look at the tension between the junior officers and senior officers in the US Army. There is always a tension between the two groups, but the effects of King George's War has seriously elevated the levels of tension.
Before and just after America’s entry into World War II, Gen. George Marshall, the Army’s chief of staff, purged 31 of his 42 division and corps commanders, all of them generals, and 162 colonels on the grounds that they were unsuited for battle. Over the course of the war, he rid the Army of 500 colonels. He reached deep into the lower ranks to find talented men to replace them. For example, Gen. James Gavin, the highly decorated commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, was a mere major in December 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Today, President Bush maintains that the nation is in a war against terrorism — what Pentagon officials call “the long war” — in which civilization itself is at stake. Yet six years into this war, the armed forces — not just the Army, but also the Air Force, Navy and Marines — have changed almost nothing about the way their promotional systems and their entire bureaucracies operate.

On the lower end of the scale, things have changed — but for the worse. West Point cadets are obligated to stay in the Army for five years after graduating. In a typical year, about a quarter to a third of them decide not to sign on for another term. In 2003, when the class of 1998 faced that decision, only 18 percent quit the force: memories of 9/11 were still vivid; the war in Afghanistan seemed a success; and war in Iraq was under way. Duty called, and it seemed a good time to be an Army officer. But last year, when the 905 officers from the class of 2001 had to make their choice to stay or leave, 44 percent quit the Army. It was the service’s highest loss rate in three decades.

Col. Don Snider, a longtime professor at West Point, sees a “trust gap” between junior and senior officers. There has always been a gap, to some degree. What’s different now is that many of the juniors have more combat experience than the seniors. They have come to trust their own instincts more than they trust orders. They look at the hand they’ve been dealt by their superiors’ decisions, and they feel let down.
The future of the Army wants more than ticket punchers on their watch. Sadly, Col David Hackworth said it all once before.

Quote of the Day

“You have your flak jacket on, and your Kevlar helmet and you’re surrounded by guys with automatic weapons as you’re standing there, talking to the mayor. And you realize there’s a dusty old car next to you and you’re saying, ‘God, I hope that doesn’t blow up.’ ”
Rep Brian Baird D-WA, who now believes the "Surge" might be working, describing what he calls progress.

Probably because the car didn't blow up.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Americans forget quickly, but Iraqis remember.

Even though it happened over 15 years ago, a lifetime to most Americans. And they don't forgive either.
It was one of the bloodiest episodes in the long, brutal rule of Saddam Hussein: With Iraqi troops fleeing Kuwait ahead of advancing U.S. troops in 1991, Shiite Muslim rebels took control of cities in Iraq's south and advanced on Baghdad.

Then, with Shiite rebels just 60 miles from the capital, Saddam's forces retaliated. In the next months, tens of thousands of Shiites were rounded up and executed, their bodies pushed into mass graves with bulldozers, like dirt.

This week, 15 former officials of Saddam's regime, including the notorious "Chemical Ali," Ali Hassan al Majid, went on trial for the mass killings, reopening old wounds in the now dominant Shiite community. But the anger wasn't aimed at just the former officials, who include some of the most notorious Saddam henchmen. It was also aimed at the United States for what Shiites still remember as a betrayal.

"Those who fought Saddam and threw him out of Kuwait for his criminal acts — killing people, looting possessions and destroying the country of Kuwait and Iraq . . . within a minute, they became his supporters and stood beside him to kill the Iraqi people," said Imam Saleh al Haidiri in a sermon Friday at the Khilani mosque in central Baghdad. "And he killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the most hideous ways."

Ibrahim Jaafer, 48, a merchant, also linked the United States to the wanton killings, which claimed his father and two brothers, whose bodies were pushed into a common grave. Jaafer fled and lived in Iran until the U.S. toppled Saddam in 2003. But there's little gratitude.

"Saddam is an agent for the Americans," Jaafer said. "It's known that America, Saddam and the Takfiris (Sunni extremists) are on the same side."
And we are supposed to be the friends of the Shia. With a president who has trouble negotiating a sentence in English from beginning to end, is it any wonder that we can't figure out the Iraqis?

He should avoid Armored Personnel Carriers

Because he is old enough to remember what happened to the Ngo brothers, Diem and Nhu, when they took a ride in one. Even if this is a planted story from Allawi's PR agency it should give pause to Maliki of Iraq.
Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, harshly criticized by Washington politicians last week for failing to bring about reconciliation among Iraq's political and ethnic factions, is increasingly isolated among his own countrymen as well.

He has lost the Shiite Muslim power base that brought him to power. Analysts say his support among Kurds could easily vanish, too, if the Kurds receive the go-ahead from the Bush administration. Nearly half of his cabinet ministers have resigned their posts or are refusing to participate in cabinet meetings.

Many say he is on his last legs as prime minister.

"He has to resign," said Salim Abdullah, a leading member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the Sunni alliance that officially withdrew its ministers from the government earlier this month. "We have nothing against Maliki as a person but there are reasons he failed. His advisors are yes men and he doesn't have the authority to do anything."
In fairness to M o I, it is unlikely that any successor would do any better given the various factions refusing to give up any power they may now have. But Our Dear Embattled Leader does need a fresh excuse for the continuing failure of his signature issue and legacy.

Do you know these names?

Donald Vance, Nathan Ertel, William Baldwin, Julie McBride, Robert Isakson and Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse. Six patriotic Americans who tried to stop the theft of millions of dollars of your tax money. For their trouble they were all fucked over by your government because the thieves were all Friends Of George.
One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.
You don't mess with F.O.G.!

The Surge Scorecard

How well is it providing for the security of the Iraqi? From the AP:
The AP tracking includes Iraqi civilians, government officials, police and security forces killed in attacks such as gunfights and bombings, which are frequently blamed on Sunni suicide strikes. It also includes execution-style killings - largely the work of Shiite death squads.

The figures are considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual numbers are likely higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. Insurgent deaths are not a part of the Iraqi count.

The findings include:

- Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths throughout the country compared with last year - an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year.

- Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. So far this year, about 14,800 people have died in war-related attacks and sectarian murders. AP reporting accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006. The United Nations and other sources placed the 2006 toll far higher.

- Baghdad has gone from representing 76 percent of all civilian and police war-related deaths in Iraq in January to 52 percent in July, bringing it back to the same spot it was roughly a year ago.

-According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization, the number of displaced Iraqis has more than doubled since the start of the year, from 447,337 on Jan. 1 to 1.14 million on July 31.
Before you find yourself sinking into a quagmire of facts, however, the US Army is there to save you.
Brig. Gen. Richard Sherlock, deputy director for operational planning for the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said violence in Iraq "has continued to decline and is at the lowest level since June 2006."

He offered no statistics to back his claim,
And so, like magic, it's working. And I'm thinking that BG Sherlock's nom de guerre around the E-Ring is "No Shit". How can you NOT trust him?

And then there is the Army of Dude.

Government policy formulated in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land

The neo-conmen are determined to have their war with Iran. They have made great efforts to find a smoking gun to justify their failed ideology.
A former CIA explosives expert who still works in Iraq told me: "The Iranians are making them. End of story." His argument is only a state is capable of manufacturing the EFP's, which involves a complicated annealing process. Incidentally, he also is convinced the IRGC is helping Iraqi Shi'a militias sight in their mortars on the Green Zone. "The way they're dropping them in, in neat grids, tells me all I need to know that the Shi'a are getting help. And there's no doubt it's Iranian, the IRGC's," he said.

A second part of the Administration's case against the IRGC is that the IRGC has had a long, established history of killing Americans, starting with the attack on the Marines in Beirut in 1983. And that's not to mention it was the IRGC that backed Hizballah in its thirty-four day war against Israel last year. The feeling in the Administration is that we should have taken care of the IRGC a long, long time ago.
The old and the new and something blue mixed together in their mad stew of murderous ideas. And just as in Iraq Nam, they know that after they are done, everything will be coming up roses.
Strengthening the Administration's case for a strike on Iran, there's a belief among neo-cons that the IRGC is the one obstacle to a democratic and friendly Iran. They believe that if we were to get rid of the IRGC, the clerics would fall, and our thirty-years war with Iran over. It's another neo-con delusion, but still it informs White House thinking.
No doubt about it, the Republicans were behind the emptying of public mental hospitals so they could populate their "think tanks".

Do as I say, not as I do.

Everybody is abuzz this week about John Warner coming down from the mountain and proclaiming that Our Dear Embattled Leader should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. To show his steadfastness, he has stated that he continues to stand by his remarks. Everybody thinks this is very significant. Everybody chooses to ignore his statement that he will not do anything to back up his words. It is how someone of his stature and mien says "just kidding".

Make no mistake, the Republican Party owns this disaster in Iraq. The blood is on their hands.

What next for Iraq

Three reports in the NY Times underscore the great confusion in Iraq that just won't get any better. The first explores the division between the generals on the ground and in the Pentagon as to when troops should leave. Curiously, the ones on the ground are the ones who want to go slow. Their point is that withdrawal would endanger the military gains that they have made so far. The Pentagon generals want a speedier drawdown because they are more aware of the state of the Army as well as the political vacuum that fails to support the military gains.

The second report give a look at the swirling milieu of politics in Iraq. With power and influence deeply divided and parochial, any attempt to find a common ground is like the proverbial herding cats. No one yet has the security of place to reach out to others and probably not the vision to do so, either.

And the final report, on the increased numbers of detainees since the surge began, illustrates why there will be no end in sight for the fighting. So long as we keep sending people to insurgency school, we will have to keep fighting.

But none of it will matter until Our Dear Embattled Leader rides off into the sunset, his legacy forever etched in headstones, and someone else has to finally try to clean up the mess of George W Bush's Glorious War.

Friday, August 24, 2007

43's Last Chance Saloon

Also known by it's previous name, the Iraq Nam Gardens is drawing a lot of interest as we creep into September. If you stop in, thirsty traveler, don't stay for a drink. This is the best you can get.
One way to look at the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq released this week is to review what it describes as the best-case scenario.

In that scenario, Iraq's security will improve modestly over the next six to 12 months, but violence across the country will remain high. The U.S.-backed central government will grow more fragile and remain unable to govern. Shiite and Sunni Muslims will continue their bitter feuding. All sides will position themselves for an eventual American departure.

In Iraq, best-case scenarios have rarely, if ever, come to pass.
The dancing girls are poxed, the games are rigged and the whiskey barrels have snake heads and gunpowder mixed in for flavor. The smartest thing any man or woman can do is beat feet out of there and burn down the house.

Mark your calendars!

Darcy Burner '08

And here is why it is a good idea.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Bob Murray Conundrum

Quote of the Day

He's saying, essentially, that 58,000 dead in Vietnam weren't quite enough, that maybe we should have twice as big a tragic memorial on the Mall.

And who's saying it? A man who chose not to serve, took steps, used family friends to get out of serving in Vietnam, didn't even show up for his own Guard duty, so that better, braver men could fight that war. He stood before those better, braver men today a coward in the company of heroes.
Paul Begala, on CNN by way of Froomkin.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The hardest job anybody can do.

Find out about one of the people doing it.

Poisoned Chinese crap kills Chinese, too!

And they don't have the luxury of news organizations broadcasting warnings and recalls of bad products. In fact they barely have any laws at all.
Take, for example, wine. Chinese vineyards can fib about the vintage on labels. They also can mislead consumers about where the wine comes from.

Some inexpensive “wines” may not even be wine at all. The state broadcaster, China Radio International, said investigators earlier this year found that “many wines consist of little more than water, pigment and alcohol, with trace amounts of grape juice.”

False wine labels don't fall into the category of bogus antibiotics, which killed seven people in China last year. No one has perished from sipping a mock merlot.

But the same toxic toothpastes and anti-freeze-tainted cough syrups that killed dozens of people in Panama and Haiti were on store shelves in China until last month. Other items recalled overseas — including seafood tainted with antibiotics, flammable baby clothes, unsafe extension cords and exploding batteries — generally remain in stores in China.
On the plus side, if you kill too many people or make too much money doing so they will kill you.

When is 1500 the same as 3900?

When the Republicans promise to buy something that our troops can use to stay alive.
Defense officials say fewer than half of the new blast-resistant vehicles being built this year to give troops better protection from roadside bombs will be delivered to Iraq by year’s end.

At least 1,500 will be in Iraq by Dec. 31, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. But the figure is less than half of the 3,900 an official previously said would be delivered.
What a sad state this country is in when a corporation can move lickety-split to get a corporate welfare subsidy and slow as molasses when it comes to producing something.

Boy, talk about lowering expextations

This is the first paragraph of a story on CNN.
Nightmarish political realities in Baghdad are prompting American officials to curb their vision for democracy in Iraq. Instead, the officials now say they are willing to settle for a government that functions and can bring security.
The fans keeps spinning and the feces keeps flying.
But for the first time, exasperated front-line U.S. generals talk openly of non-democratic governmental alternatives, and while the two top U.S. officials in Iraq still talk about preserving the country's nascent democratic institutions, they say their ambitions aren't as "lofty" as they once had been.

"Democratic institutions are not necessarily the way ahead in the long-term future," said Brig. Gen. John "Mick" Bednarek, part of Task Force Lightning in Diyala province, one of the war's major battlegrounds.
Wow! 5 years and 3500+ Americans dead and many thousands wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded, the country and its economy totally trashed, and just so we can replace Saddam Hussein with The New Improved Saddam Hussein!

Georgie, you should have stayed in Baseball.

Curb your Bush Dog Democrat

Find out more here.

The fellow on the left will be cropped on Fox

Ed Zurga/Bloomberg News in the New York Times.

How dare he get so close to Our Dear Embattled Leader and not clap riotously. After all , Dear Leader had just compared Iraq and Viet Nam for the purpose of blaming the Democrats for losing His Glorious Little War. What more could the VFW ask for? Unfortunately for ODEL, that gentleman's reaction appears to be the norm amongst people quoted by the AP for their reactions.
"The president's surge was supposed to create the political space for national reconciliation. Instead the politics have reached total gridlock, while the security situation remains essentially unchanged. By the President's own measures the surge has failed." - Ilan Goldenberg, policy director of National Security Network in Washington.

"The speech was an act of desperation to scare the American people into staying the course in Iraq. He's distorted the facts, painting all of the people in Iraq as being on the same side which is simply not the case. Iraq is a religious civil war." - Lawrence Korb, assistant defense secretary under President Reagan and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

"Bush is cherry-picking history to support his case for staying the course. What I learned in Vietnam is that U.S. forces could not conduct a counterinsurgency operation. The longer we stay there, the worse it's going to get." - Ret. Army Brig. Gen. John Johns, a counterinsurgency expert who served in Vietnam.

"The president emphasized the violence in the wake of American withdrawal from Vietnam. But this happened because the United States left too late, not too early. It was the expansion of the war that opened the door to Pol Pot and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge. The longer you stay the worse it gets." - Steven Simon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Not very well received at all. However, just to make sure you were listening, he also flip flopped on his support for Maliki of Iraq. Now he likes him. Let it never be said that Our Dear Leader doesn't know how to make news, He just doesn't know how to make sense.

Scapegoat time

And unless the Surge On General Petraeus tells Congress that the military effort is a total failure, his head is safe for the time being. Nope, this time the target of Our Dear Embattled Leader's feckless behavior is Maliki of Iraq.
When President Bush and Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stood side by side in Jordan last November, the president proclaimed the prime minister “the right guy for Iraq.”

By Tuesday, that phrase had all but evaporated from Mr. Bush’s lexicon.

Instead, Mr. Bush acknowledged “a certain level of frustration” with the Iraqi government’s failure to unify its warring ethnic factions. His comments at a meeting of North American leaders in Canada came just hours after the top American diplomat in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, called political progress in Iraq “extremely disappointing” and warned that United States support for the Maliki government did not come with a “blank check.”

It was not quite the vote of no confidence delivered by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee, who on Monday said Mr. Maliki should quit. But it was a striking attempt by the White House to distance itself from the Maliki government before September, when the president’s troop buildup faces an intense review on Capitol Hill.

That timing is no coincidence. Mr. Bush is already facing skepticism within his own party over the troop buildup, and will almost certainly confront repeated attempts by Democrats to force an end to the war. So he seems to be laying the groundwork for a new message, one that says, “We’re doing our job in Iraq; don’t blame us if the Iraqis aren’t doing theirs.”
This way there lies no fault with the military or those that command them. But gentle reader, please do not be fooled. As in all things, these remarks are directed to one audience only,
Experts say Mr. Bush does not appear to be trying to force Mr. Maliki out, if only because there is no obvious alternative. Rather, they say, the president’s remarks are aimed at a domestic audience. Back in January, Mr. Bush sold the troop buildup to the country as a plan that would tamp down violence and create “political breathing space” to allow the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to create a unity government.
Yes, his remarks are aimed at you and have no effect in the real world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Telling Coffin to look at the White House website 'may seem too glib an answer. My answer would be look at the law. But these are people that don't look at the law very often."
Sen Pat Leahy, responding to Dickwahd's lawyer saying he was not part of the Executive Office

Strange how that plays out

You Are 62% Strange!

Based on your score, it seems you do have a healthy dose of strangeness. You aren't THAT far out, but you are somewhat bizarre. Congratulations on being different and having some quirks. It makes you an interesting person!

How Strange Are You?
Quizzes for MySpace

With thanx to Alternate Brain

Sickly children make poor eatin'

And we all know how much the Republicans like to eat the young, both metaphorically as in Iraq and actually as in keeping Dickwahd Cheney alive. Still, the necessity of this prime Republican culinary speciality has made no impression on Our Dear Embattled Leader. When given the choice between a plethora of healthy, fatted children for his minions to eat with the signing of a Democratic sponsored bill and creating cruel internecine battles among his supporters for sickly slim pickings following his brave "stand in the doorway" against that bill, ODEL went for the door. Not even waiting for a bill he can veto, he is screwing around with the rules & regs to keep as many children out of The Children’s Health Insurance Program as possible. I suppose this mean spirited and potentialy deadly act is part of Li'l George's image of manhood. More likely, it is the result of a few too many whacks on the head from Dear Old Bar. We should be glad he hasn't tried to stick lit firecrackers up the little kiddies bums.

EXTRA: If you don't think he is sick enough to light the firecrackers, just read this McClatchy piece on lead paint.

Monday, August 20, 2007

To make money, you have to accept risk

And risk is probably the biggest commodity available on the Iraq Stock Exchange in Baghdad.
Despite the war-torn backdrop and a Stone Age trading system, Taha Abdulsalam, the CEO of the fledgling Iraq Stock Exchange, thinks investors shouldn't hesitate to dish out their dough - in dinars, preferably - to buy shares from the Baghdad-based market.

Since the stock exchange opened up to foreign investors earlier this month, Abdulsalam has been making his sales pitch in e-mails, phone calls and media interviews:

"Yes, there are many dangers in Iraq. Yes, there are many things you must accept. We have terrorists, we have political problems - any kind of problem you see in the world, yes, we have it," Abdulsalam said one recent morning. He was sitting behind his desk and smoking a cigarette while brokers clamored in the tiled lobby downstairs that serves as the market floor.

"But you must accept that risk because the prices are very low and there is an opportunity for you to be a great investor in Iraq in the future."
With the American markets going down the poop chute, this could be a golden opportunity to make Big Dinars real quick. And five years after the ideologically pure CPA brats came over to set it up, the Great White Father will be setting them up with computers.

Quote of the Day

When Democrats buy into ‘the problem of Iran,’ they just help Vice President Cheney, who should be committed with his recent statements.
Mike Gravel, in the Democratic debate, talking about Dickwahd's war mongerong.

Wrapping himself in the Bloody Flag.

And just like other scoundrels in the past, The Surge On General Petraeus will not rely on a crisply starched uniform with polished brass and "fruit salad" galore. Nope, our brave "Lakeitel" will give his testimony to Congress on the 6th anniversary of the September 11th attack. Safely wrapped in a flag stained by the blood of so many in New York and Iraq, he will bravely beat back any attacks on Our Dear Embattled Leader's right to leave office without ever admitting they died for ODEL's stupidity, cupidity and incompetence.

Monday Music Blogging

A little something to make you feel better on a Monday.

Nilsson 1941-1994

Headline of the Day

Bears eat man at beer festival
A 23-year old Serb was found dead and half-eaten in the bear cage of Belgrade Zoo at the weekend during the annual beer festival.

The man was found naked, with his clothes lying intact inside the cage. Two adult bears, Masha and Misha, had dragged the body to their feeding corner and reacted angrily when keepers tried to recover it.
Proof that we are edible if you have a good beer to wash us down with.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One way to do it

Romney runs from Bush — a little, carefully, sort of

Great headline from McClatchy. They give us a look at how the Mittster is gently dancing around Our Dear Embattled Leader and trying to make the circles bigger and bigger without any of the Red Meat Republicans noticing until after the primaries.
At the same time, Romney is careful not to offend primary voters who still like Bush, lauding the president, for example, for keeping the country safe. He also agrees with Bush’s overall strategy in Iraq, wants to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent and would preserve most of Bush’s landmark No Child Left Behind education law.

So just how different is Romney from Bush?

He and his campaign are walking a fine line. They increasingly cast the former Massachusetts governor as someone who will change things gone bad — a message for independents who don’t like the state of the country under Bush. But they also take care not to criticize the incumbent openly — a message aimed at Republicans who still like Bush and who will pick the party’s nominee.
Focus grouped as carefully as he is made up and coiffed. And just as substantial.

The quest for a "smoking gun" continues

We get the latest attempt to stir up a casus belli against Iran from the good people at McClatchy.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a top U.S. commander who is in charge of a large swath of Iraq south of Baghdad, believes there are about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in his battlefield area, military spokeswoman Maj. Alayne Conway said.

Conway said that U.S.-led forces have not caught any of the Iranians, but she said military intelligence and recently discovered caches of weapons with Iranian markings on them indicate that the Iranians are there.

Lynch's assertion is the latest in a series of accusations leveled by military officials against Iran. They have warned that Iraq's neighbor is actively supplying Shiite insurgents - specifically, the Mahdi Army - with deadly weapons that have killed dozens of U.S. soldiers.
Given what we already know about the support provided by the Saudis this is small potatoes. Far less than what the CIA did when the USSR was in Afghanistan, or what the Soviets and Chinese did during Viet Nam. And efforts should be made to stop it, in Iraq. But by no means is this a cause for war nor even a half baked brick in the wall that Dickwahd is trying to build. This is the price Dickwahd and Our Dear Sock Puppet Leader are making out troops pay for their stupidity. If anything, another reason why we should leave.

And it seems that Iran always helps Sadr's Mahdi Army and never Maliki's Badr Brigades. How curious.

And talk about leaving the door open.
She said a brigade of about 2,000 soldiers from the country of Georgia will soon be patrolling the border and may find further evidence of Iranian meddling.
Stay tuned, more to follow.

It never ceases to amaze me

That a country such as ours, on a continent that experienced no human tread before the onset of Homo Sapiens, a continent peopled by immigrants, can be so full of people making blood curdling cries in defense of "the native born".
Scores of organizations, ranging from mainstream to fringe groups, are marshalling forces in what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls "a war here at home" against illegal immigration, which he says is as important as America’s conflicts being fought overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While most of the groups register legitimate, widespread concerns about the impact of illegal immigration on jobs, social services and national security, the intense rhetoric is generating fears of an emerging dark side, evident in growing discrimination against Hispanics and a surge of xenophobia unseen since the last big wave of immigration in the early 20th century.

"I don’t think there’s been a time like this in our lifetime," said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow with the Migration Policy Institute and former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Even though immigration is always unsettling and somewhat controversial, we haven’t had this kind of intensity and widespread, deep-seated anger for almost 100 years."

The Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said the number of "nativist extremist" organizations advocating against illegal immigration has grown from virtually zero just over five years ago to 144, including nine classified as hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan supremacists.
From to 144 in five years all of it under the benevolent umbrella of the Bushoviks and Our Dear Embattled Leader. Thank God he is such a compassionate conservative!

Personally I want to say one thing to all those folks. My family has been in this country since the early 1600's. Being familiar with my family history, I know that my forebears said pretty much the same thing about your forebears when they came to this country. I hate the idea that they were right.

Security, not free food

Seven NCO's from the 82nd Airborne have an Op-Ed in the NY Times today that give a soldiers eye view of all that John McCain, Joe Lieberschmuck and the other Bushovik cheerleaders have willfully chosen not to see. Winning the military and losing the politics a guarantee for failure and that is the picture they paint.
Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”
Here we see how Our Dear Embattled Leader, following the cant of a group of discredited ivory tower intellectuals has easily destroyed one country and failed the hard task of leaving something positive in his wake. And Dickwahd wants to do it again in Iran?

Do spies get option grants?

And do shareholders get annual reports when their company does cloak & dagger work for the US? These questions are neither asked nor answered in the WaPo article on the privatization of the Defense Intelligence Agency. What is clear is that the Intelligence community, that favorite of Poppy Bush, is being mangled and mauled by his idiot bastard child.
The Defense Intelligence Agency is preparing to pay private contractors up to $1 billion to conduct core intelligence tasks of analysis and collection over the next five years, an amount that would set a record in the outsourcing of such functions by the Pentagon's top spying agency.

The proposed contracts, outlined in a recent early notice of the DIA's plans, reflect a continuing expansion of the Defense Department's intelligence-related work and fit a well-established pattern of Bush administration transfers of government work to private contractors.

Since 2000, the value of federal contracts signed by all agencies each year has more than doubled to reach $412 billion, with the largest growth at the Defense Department, according to a congressional tally in June. Outsourcing particularly accelerated among intelligence agencies after the 2001 terrorist attacks caught many of them unprepared to meet new demands with their existing workforce.
So they needed extra hands, an understandable response. The fly in the ointment ishow they got all those people.
The DIA's action comes a few months after CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, acting under pressure from Congress, announced a program to cut the agency's hiring of outside contractors by at least 10 percent. The CIA's effort was partly provoked by managers' frustration that officials with security clearances were frequently resigning to earn higher pay with government contractors while performing the same work -- a phenomenon that led lawmakers to complain that intelligence contract work was wasting money....

...Many companies that provide contract workers to the CIA and Pentagon intelligence agencies are headed by former employees of those agencies. For example, Abraxas, which is run by a former CIA case officer, has hired -- and then contracted out to the government -- more than 100 former intelligence employees over the past six years.
So out of the secret $Billions spent on intelligence we now have to pay twice as much to the same people to do the same work and pay for the corporate administration and provide a healthy (to them) profit to the CEO's and shareholders of these companies. Most assuredly an idea whose time should never have come.

Let me see your passport, ...please

I suspect there are a lot of posts out there with headlines like the one above since this report of the latest freedom busting move from "Dr Doom" Chertoff came out.
Americans may need passports to board domestic flights or to picnic in a national park next year if they live in one of the states defying the federal Real ID Act.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says there are no plans for a federal database of drivers' information.

The act, signed in 2005 as part of an emergency military spending and tsunami relief bill, aims to weave driver's licenses and state ID cards into a sort of national identification system by May 2008. The law sets baseline criteria for how driver's licenses will be issued and what information they must contain.
So far six states have passed laws refusing to comply, 21 states have shown various degrees of opposition. New Hampshire, the "Live Free or Die" state, sums up the opposition point of view well.
New Hampshire passed a House bill opposing the program and calling Real ID "contrary and repugnant" to the state and federal constitutions.
But perfectly acceptable to Dr Doom and Fredo and others of their ilk.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A good lesson from History

Adam Cohen, writing on the editorial page of the New York Times, reminds us that the Founding Fathers, while not really able to see the future, were familiar with the timeless nature of scoundrels, rascals and crooks.
Impeachment was one of the important checks and balances the founders built into the Constitution. At state ratification conventions, it was promoted as a tool for Congress to rein in any officeholder who “dares to abuse the power vested in him by the people.”

Impeachment of Mr. Gonzales would fit comfortably into the founders’ framework. No one could charge this Congress with believing that executive branch members serve at the “pleasure of the Senate” or the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that impeachment of President Bush is “off the table,” and there has been little talk of impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney or others in the administration.

Congress has heard extensive testimony about how Mr. Gonzales’s Justice Department has become an arm of a political party, choosing lawyers for nonpartisan positions based on politics, and bringing cases — including prosecutions that have put people in jail — to help Republicans win elections.

Mr. Gonzales’s repeated false and misleading statements to Congress are also impeachable conduct. James Iredell, whom George Washington would later appoint to the Supreme Court, told North Carolina’s ratification convention that “giving false information to the Senate” was the sort of act “of great injury to the community” that warranted impeachment.

The United States attorneys scandal is also the sort of abuse the founders worried about. Top prosecutors, most with sterling records, were apparently fired because they refused to let partisan politics guide their decisions about whether to prosecute. Madison, the father of the Constitution, noted in a speech to the first Congress that “wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject” an official to impeachment.
With the various Blue Dogs and other spineless scum like the one in my district, impeachment would be a tough row to hoe, but a very necessary one. Have you called your congressmoop lately?

Time to hang another Hussein

They got dad and the sons, so they might as well go after the daughter.
Less than a year after her father was sent to the gallows, Saddam Hussein's daughter is facing charges that also could lead to her execution.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said Friday that Raghad Hussein, 38, has been charged with financing the insurgents who have bedeviled this country since shortly after her father's regime was toppled in 2003.

Hussein is believed to be living in Amman, Jordan, as a guest of King Abdullah II.
If they really want to go after Raghads who are financing the insurgents, they would have better luck in Saudi Arabia

Another Bush another war, another Bush another recession

We can only wonder why anybody thought there might be a different outcome. If it happened to the smart one, how could we expect a different result from the dumb one?
Although few economic analysts put the odds of recession at better than 50 percent, most are now upping their probabilities.

"We've lowered our 2008 growth forecast to 1.5 percent, down from 2.3 percent previously and 1.8 percent in 2007. We now expect a consumer recession, for the first time in 17 years," said a revised forecast issued Thursday by Merrill Lynch.

Whether Wall Street’s turmoil brings a sharp slowdown or a full-blown recession depends on three inter-related variables: how quickly banks resume lending to businesses and home buyers; whether the recession in the housing sector bottoms out or deepens; and whether falling home prices and a lack of lending combine to hit the consumer’s ability to spend.

“What we’re going through now is unlike anything we’ve seen before. All financial crises have their unique characteristic — this one is characterized by a seizing-up in the home-mortgage market,” said Lyle Gramley, a former governor of the Federal Reserve System in the 1980s who's now with the Stanford Group, a consulting firm.

He puts the odds of recession at 50 percent.
Frankly, I thought Our Dear Embattled Leader got the recession thing out of the way at the beginning of his reign. Who could imagine he would go for a double?

Good thing he left out the earth tones

Call Our Dear Embattled Leader a moron, a Dickwahd sock puppet, a buffoon or even an evil doer, won't bother him at all. If you start talking about the way he dresses and as Popeye used to say, "That's all I can stands 'cuz I can't stands no more".
Last week, Marques Harper of the Austin American- Statesman wrote a short piece about the president's sartorial style on his Texas ranch, where Bush is spending a two-week vacation. The article was reprinted Tuesday in a Waco, Tex., paper, and the leader of the free world was not pleased.

Harper received a phone call that morning from White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino, who, Harper told friends, said the president read the article and was unhappy about the way he was portrayed.
And what terrible things did he say about ODEL's sartorial sense?
Harper wrote: "The president has two distinct looks when he's in Texas: the ranch-hand man and the crisp appearance of a ranch owner. In recent months, with his sliding popularity, he's opted to look more like 'Walker, Texas Ranger' than a sweaty, tough ranch hand." In the piece, an image consultant offered that Bush needed to "step it up" to keep his "bravado image" on the ranch.
Reality may not be able to touch Dear Leader, but keep your hands off his image, or else!

Seperating a rock from a hard place

This report in the NY Times shows in a microcosm what the US is doing in the macrocosm of Iraq, standing between opposing parties who just want to go at each other. In Falluja, the Marines are able to keep the warring parties apart, but only because they are there.
Security has improved enough that they are planning to largely withdraw from the city by next spring. But their plan hinges on the performance of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which has failed to provide the Falluja police with even the most routine supplies, Marine officers say.

The improved security in Falluja, neighboring Ramadi and other areas in Anbar Province, once the most violent area in Iraq and the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, is often touted as a success story, a possible model for the rest of Iraq. But interviews with marines and Iraqi officials in Falluja suggest that the recent relative calm here is fragile and that the same sectarian rivalries that have divided the Iraqi government could undermine security as soon as the Marines leave.

Some rank-and-file marines question how security forces here would fare on their own, especially when the vehicle ban is lifted.

If Falluja were left unsupervised too soon, “there is a good chance we would lose everything we have gained,” said Sgt. Chris Turpin, an intelligence analyst with a military training team here.
The Marines are just the lid on a slow boiling pot, the longer they stay the greater the boil over when they leave.

Tony Snow is terminal

Not just as White House spokesman but in all things. He did not say so, but why would a cancer patient leave the best health care plan in the world for big bucks unless he wanted to leave his family financially secure after he was gone. After all the lies he has told, it is hard to be sympathetic, but it is good to see him showing concern for someone who may actually deserve it, his family.

Nickel and dime

Remember the Bush tax cuts? Nickel & Dime would pretty well describe what most people received as their portion of that famous "beneficence". That worked so well that the Bushoviks have decided to apply the same strategy to troop withdrawal.
The White House plans to use a report next month assessing progress in Iraq to outline a plan for gradual troop reductions beginning next year that would fall far short of the drawdown demanded by Congressional opponents of the war, according to administration and military officials.

One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on “a sustainable footing” at least through the end of the Bush presidency.

The officials said the White House would portray its approach as a new strategy for Iraq
Rumor has it that all the troops will take a number and they get to go home when their number is called. That should easily last until January 2009. Most of the troop withdrawals planned seem to be little more than unsurging the Surge. And tucked into the middle of all this smoke and mirrors is this little gem.
Military officials said General Petraeus was still revising his calculations on what the exact mission of American troops should be, and how many would be required to carry it out. One senior administration official said the political debate focused too much on the overall number of Americans in Iraq. “It’s more than just the raw number of troops,” the official said. “It’s where they’re deployed and how.”
In the middle of a civil war, the where and how of deployment may affect the number of troops who get to go home early, but it won't change the outcome. It will give Our Dear Embattled Leader another tree to hide behind until he can ship out to Crawford and not come back.

Friday, August 17, 2007

And now it is unanimous

Everybody in the Blogiverse has now posted the Dickwahd clip. If you are the last person who has not seen it, give it up and watch.

The thought of it brings a tear to Dickwahd's eye

This is truly Grand Theft, by a true free market entrepreneur, and Old Dickwahd is probably wondering why the guys at Halliburton never had a vision this grand.
An owner of a defunct company accused of bilking the Defense Department out of more than $20 million — including charging nearly $1 million to ship two 19-cent washers — pleaded guilty Aug. 16 to federal wire fraud and money laundering....

....From 1997 to 2006, Corley and Wooten exploited an automated shipping payment system designed to speed shipments bound for U.S. forces overseas by submitting huge bills to ship inexpensive items, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said among the fraudulent charges were ones for $998,798 to ship two 19-cent lock washers, $492,097 to ship an $11 threaded plug and $499,569 to ship 10 cotter pins worth $1.99 each.

The investigation revealed the company had sometimes double-billed for supplies and charged even when the government denied its services,
WOW! That is truly thinking BIG! I'll bet that Dickwahd is already working on getting them a pardon from his little Boy King.

EXTRA: More good details here. Gotta love the way she blames her dead twin sister.

Jenna's getting married

According to CNN, no date or other details have been set. If it is not soon then the big question will be, does she keep the baby? After all, no Bush is born a bastard, it takes years of training.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Quote of the Day

Adios, Karl Rove. We shall know you by the rotten fruits of your labors.
Joe Galloway, delivering his epitaph for TurdBlossom.

Republican Business As Usual

I was tempted to write the word as 'Bidness' because it involves Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, former head of the Republican National Committee and all around BSD. However you write or say it, you know that anytime you have Republicans near large sums of federal money, a lot of it is going to end up in their pockets.
Among the beneficiaries are Barbour's own family and friends, who have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from hurricane-related business. A nephew, one of two who are lobbyists, saw his fees more than double in the year after his uncle appointed him to a special reconstruction panel. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in June raided a company owned by the wife of a third nephew, which maintained federal emergency- management trailers.

Meanwhile, the governor's own former lobbying firm, which he says is still making payments to him, has represented at least four clients with business linked to the recovery.

No evidence has surfaced that Barbour violated the law; at the same time, the pattern that emerges from public records and interviews raises ``many red flags,'' said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group in Falls Church, Virginia, that investigates the investments of government officials. ``At the minimum, the public is entitled to a full explanation of the facts,'' he said.

Barbour, 59, who is running for re-election this year, turned down an interview request. His spokesman, Pete Smith, declined in an e-mail to answer questions.
I don't know what the fuss is about. It's not like Mississippi has so many competent people that you can avoid family & friends. And, the people of Mississippi have been fucked over so often, they are probably all family to some degree.

Have you met Gail Collins?

She is a recent addition to the New York Times Op-Ed page. A warm, charming and intelligent lady, why don't you drop in an visit her? She is explaining Fred Thompson in a most delightful way today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More lipstick! More lipstick!

As the White House minions dress up Gen. David's report for him, McClatchy has two stories side by side today that would make whatever it may say irrelevent. The first reports on the concerns of members of the US military for the future of Iraq, despite a reduction in violence.
Despite U.S. claims that violence is down in the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officers are offering a bleak picture of Iraq’s future, saying they’ve yet to see any signs of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims despite the drop in violence.

Without reconciliation, the military officers say, any decline in violence will be temporary and bloodshed could return to previous levels as soon as the U.S. military cuts back its campaign against insurgent attacks.

That downbeat assessment comes despite a buildup of U.S. troops that began five months ago Wednesday and has seen U.S. casualties reach the highest sustained levels since the United States invaded Iraq nearly four and a half years ago.
So the violence is down but the lack of a political resolution means they are just waiting for the right moment.

The second report is a follow up on the right moment for one group.
Officials said Wednesday that as many as 500 people probably died in a series of coordinated truck bombings that devastated two northern Iraqi villages Tuesday and set a record for mass carnage in war-torn Iraq.

Residents and rescue workers in Tal al Azizziyah and Sheikh Khadar, two villages near the Syrian border in Nineveh province, spent Wednesday pulling the dead and wounded from the rubble of clay homes that had collapsed when the massive bombs exploded.

The confirmed death toll was at least 250 and climbing, officials said. Five hundred more were wounded, many critically. More than 100 one-story homes and shops were destroyed by the blasts.
But Our Dear Embattled Leader is determined to hang in there until he leaves office, no matter how many die. The much ballyhooed report will be just so much hooey.

Firedoglake libeled by Senator

The press release from Firedoglake.
Collins Campaign In Sexist Attack on Leading Blog

Firedoglake Calls for Apology and Firing of Collins Campaign Blogger

Washington, DC August 15, 2007 - On the same day that Susan Collin’s Senate reelection campaign chief of staff Steve Abbott was pronouncing that “we have long prided ourselves on our efforts to maintain a civil level of discourse over the course of spirited political campaigns,” Collins’ Director of Internet Strategy, Lance Dutson, launched a false and offensive attack against the highly respected blog, Firedoglake, best known for its groundbreaking liveblogging of the Scooter Libby trial.

Firedoglake’s founder, Jane Hamsher demanded an apology and the firing of Dutson for his characterization of the blog as “the foul-mouthed fem-blog FiredogLake.”

“I’m deeply offended that Senator Collins would speak about professional women in such a degrading and offensive manner,” said Hamsher. “It is well beneath the dignity becoming a sitting Senator to engage in such coarse and misogynistic rhetoric.”

Christy Hardin Smith, featured FDL blogger, said: “The sexist undertones used on Sen. Collins’ blog are appalling – the use of “fem-blog” is erroneous and dismissive. Citizens in this country have a right — an obligation — to hold those who ask us for our votes accountable. Women have just as much right as men to speak up for their country and their families, whether Senator Collins likes that or not.”

Firedoglake, one of the leading progressive blogs with over a half million readers per week publishes posts by Jane Hamsher, Christy Hardin Smith, Trex and Pachacutec — both male bloggers — and guest posts by an additional 4 women and 6 male bloggers. Firedoglake received critical acclaim with its in-depth coverage of the Valerie Plame case culminating in the blog’s live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Scooter Libby trial – coverage that drew applause from leading journalism professionals. The New York Times, in a page one story noted that “the Firedoglake ‘live blog’ has offered the fullest, fastest public report available. Many mainstream journalists use it to check on the trial.”

Highly engaged in the political arena, Firedoglake joined with Crooks and Liars, Digby’s Hullabaloo and Down With Tyranny, to launch the Blue America Pac, which raised half a million dollars during the 2006 election cycle. FDL features weekly interviews with candidates and recently hosted online conversations with presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Chris Dodd.

Quote of the Day

The evidence is now pretty conclusive that Mr Rove may have lost more than just an election in 2006. He has lost an entire generation for the Republican party.
James Carville

But you already knew this

Despite Bush's repeated statements that the report will reflect evaluations by Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said it would actually be written by the White House, with inputs from officials throughout the government.
Los Angeles Times.

A few weeks to two years

That is the expert opinion of how long it could take to remove the American presence from Irag. The difference is how much equipment and how many mercenaries you want to leave behind.
It would take nine to 12 months or longer to withdraw all troops, contractors and equipment safely from Iraq and phase out U.S. bases there, an analyst said after extensive talks with U.S. commanders and diplomats and Iraqi leaders in Baghdad.

The U.S. military in Iraq would prefer a somewhat slower-paced scenario to complete a full pullout over two years, while other experts “indicate it would be feasible” to pull out 10,000 troops and 10,000 contractors a month through Kuwait, said Anthony H. Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

These estimates do not mean the U.S. could not leave Iraq quickly, Cordesman said in a weighty report that is certain to get serious congressional consideration.

The more equipment and facilities the U.S. and Iraqi forces abandon and destroy, the swifter the exodus, Cordesman said.

“Under these conditions, the U.S. could rush out in as little as a few weeks and no more than a few months,” he said.
In one regard, it is fortunate that Our Dear Embattled Leader has decided to stay in Iraq. Given how badly they screwed the going in, you can just imagine what their idea of leaving would be like. Probably something like Elphey Bey and the Retreat From Kabool in 1842.

Oliphant and Toles

Two of the best in the business give their take on the worst.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Somebody's surge is working

But I don't think it it Our Dear Embattled Leader's vainglorious effort.
A week of relative calm in Iraq was shattered Tuesday when at least two truck bombs blew up in northern Iraq, killing as many as 175 people, and another truck bomb leveled a key bridge north of the capital.

Gunmen in military uniforms kidnapped five officials from a Ministry of Oil building in the capital in what may have been a sectarian attack, and five U.S. service members were killed in Anbar when their helicopter crashed.
And just for shits and giggles, the bad guys blew up another bridge and we got involved in a little internecine squabble.
Sayd Hussam al Musawi, a member of a southern Iraqi tribal council, said Iraqi and U.S. troops arrested Sheik Abu Rusil, who's also a tribal council member and who represents Sadr's political movement, in connection with the Friday assassinations of Diwaniyah Gov. Khalil Jalil Hamza and the province's police chief, Maj. Gen. Khalid Hassan.

Hamza was affiliated with the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Iraq's largest political party and a bitter rival of Sadr's Mahdi Army. The two organizations have clashed frequently in Diwaniyah. It wasn't clear if Hassan also had been affiliated with Badr or the Islamic Council.
It is a good thing Dear Leader has already told Petraeus what to say next month.

Is your wallet losing more weight than you?

It could well be because so much more is coming out of it these days than is going in.
Meeting with economic writers last week, President Bush dismissed several polls that show Americans are down on the economy. He expressed surprise that inflation is one of the stated concerns.

“They cite inflation?” Bush asked, adding that, “I happen to believe the war has clouded a lot of people's sense of optimism.”

But the inflation numbers reveal the extent to which lower- and middle-income Americans are being pinched.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its June inflation report that egg prices are 19.5 percent higher than they were in June 2006. Over the same period, according to the department’s consumer price index, whole milk was up 13.3 percent; fresh chicken 10 percent; navel oranges 19.8 percent; apples 11.7 percent. Dried beans were up 11.5 percent, and white bread just missed double-digit growth, rising by 9.6 percent.

These numbers get lost in the broader inflation rate for all goods and services, which measured 2.7 for the same 12-month period. Across the economy, rising food prices were offset by falling prices for things bought at the mall: computers, cameras, clothing and shoes.
The Fortunate Son wouldn't notice the price of eggs or milk because he very likely has never had to buy them in his life. You and I have to buy staples every week, for their prices to be rising like that will hurt everyone who has to work for a living. And didn't your boss just give you a 2% raise because that was the inflation rate last year? Oh, and about you driving to the store for a can of coffee? Fuhgeddaboutit!

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