Sunday, September 30, 2007

The story of a modest man

A simple working man who did something in Panama that no one else had done. Eduardo Arias read the list on ingredients on a tube of toothpaste and saw the words diethylene glycol. And because dozens of Panamanians had died because of cough syrup made with diethylene glycol labeled as glycerin last year, he knew it was poison. So he did something else that nobody had done, he took a tube to the Health Dept and began the world wide campaign against the Chinese habit of substituting poison for glycerin.

Until now no one outside of Panama's Health Dept. knew his name. He has received no reward or honor or even thanks.
He did not seem to mind.

“At least I contributed something,” he said.

Bill Maher asks the question that Rahm can't answer

And unless you are crazy about Maria Bartoromo, you can bail out in the middle of the clip.

It's for a good cause

I'm not quite sure what that cause is because Our Dear Embattled Leader has never seen fit to tell us. But it must be good because the Republicans in Congress keep supporting it 100%.
Joshua Jackson Reeves, four days old, slept undisturbed in his mother’s arms, blissfully unaware of war, or a city called Baghdad, or his mother’s shattered heart.

Leslie Reeves, gently traced her baby’s chin, a miniature version of another’s chin, and smiled through wet eyes.

On Friday, Sept. 21, Reeves delivered her 7-pound, 14-ounce boy into this world without complications. Soon afterward she phoned Iraq to deliver the happy news. There, Spc. Joshua H. Reeves, her soldier-husband of two years, was stationed with troops from Fort Riley, Kan.

He was due to come home in November for two weeks of vacation from war.

One day’s joy turned to sorrow on Saturday, Sept. 22, as a bomb detonated as Joshua Reeves’ Humvee drove down a Baghdad street. Leslie Reeves, a Hendersonville native who had returned to be with her parents while she delivered, was still in the hospital with her new baby when she learned she was a widow.
Maybe it has something to do with his legacy.

And let's not forget one for Uncle Dickwahd.
Since May, the women have packed their suitcases every 10 days and flown from Columbia to San Antonio. There, they spend up to 10 days at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, caring for Sgt. Terry Fleming of Eastover.

He is Ida Fleming’s son and Bennett’s brother.

Terry Fleming, 25, was severely burned on his arms and legs in a May 12 roadside bomb blast in Iraq. He has spent the past five months in the medical center’s intensive care unit for burn patients.

Fleming has undergone multiple skin grafts and blood transfusions. He can’t lift his arms and is missing tips of his fingers. The burns on his left arm have not healed. He has tried to stand and walk, but even two steps cause horrible pain where his skin is tight from grafts and surgery, Bennett said.

But there are positive signs for Fleming’s future. The heat from the explosion singed his face but did not disfigure it, Bennett said. “You can tell he had on his helmet because he’s not burned on top of his head,” she said. “But you can see the imprint of the strap on his chin and face.”

Those marks will vanish with time. Recently, Bennett caught him looking at his reflection in a hospital window. “I asked, ‘You like what you see?’ and he said, ‘No, not really,’” she said. “But I told him, ‘You’re living. That’s the important thing.’
Or maybe we can put this into John Boehner's small price.

Sy Hersh looks at the Cheney Plan to attack Iran

In this week's New Yorker, he examines the planning and realities of the looming attack on Iran that would be the capstone to the Bushoviks plan for eternal war in the Middle East.
At a White House meeting with Cheney this summer, according to a former senior intelligence official, it was agreed that, if limited strikes on Iran were carried out, the Administration could fend off criticism by arguing that they were a defensive action to save soldiers in Iraq. If Democrats objected, the Administration could say, “Bill Clinton did the same thing; he conducted limited strikes in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and in Baghdad to protect American lives.” The former intelligence official added, “There is a desperate effort by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.
And all signs indicate that we are in the run up to an attack. And just like the attack on Iraq, the possibility that the other side will react differently than expected has no place in the planning.
“They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk,” one recently retired C.I.A. official said. “They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002”—the months before the invasion of Iraq, when the Iraqi Operations Group became the most important in the agency. He added, “The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

That theme was echoed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national-security adviser, who said that he had heard discussions of the White House’s more limited bombing plans for Iran. Brzezinski said that Iran would likely react to an American attack “by intensifying the conflict in Iraq and also in Afghanistan, their neighbors, and that could draw in Pakistan. We will be stuck in a regional war for twenty years.”
Having not yet been able to convince enough Americans that this is a good idea, Dickwahd will have to create an incident to justify his attack. As there are no radio stations on the border, expect US troops to be "ambushed" by "Iranians", another Republican small price to pay.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tom Toles

A good year for farmers

If they weren't caught. Found this item in the local paper in Nevada County.
Illegally-grown marijuana seized in Nevada County through August this year appears, conservatively, to be worth between $123 million and $205 million, based on federal estimates of crop value and local figures on plants confiscated. That figure is based on state and national law enforcement wholesale costs per pound, assuming a yield of 1 pound per plant.

That dwarfs the value of legal crops grown here in 2006 - the latest figures available - when farmers, loggers and livestock producers produced goods valued at $16.2 million. Those figures appeared in the annual crop report submitted by Nevada County Agriculture Commissioner Jeffrey Pylman in August.

The 41,000 marijuana plants seized here this year far exceed the 4,863 found during 2006, which would have brought roughly $14.6 million on the low end and $24.3 million at the high. That compares more closely with the county's $16.2 million value for legal crops in 2006, but does not count legal pot crops and illegal plants not seized.
The dollar values are probably overblown, makes the authorities look good, but that is a lot of plants laid low by John Law. Think of the good they could have done. Oh, and the local paper, The Union, is located in Grass Valley, CA.

Spend 15 months in Iraq and what do you get?

15 months older and changed in so many ways. Damien Cave talked to troops of the 10th Mountain Division’s Second Brigade as they prepare to return to the US after 15 months south of Baghdad. They have seen and done things that soldiers have done in every war, but through it all is a sense of loss. The loss of important time in their lives and of friends.
Specialist Barranco-Oro remembered him as a joker, a wiry leader from Standish, Mich., who was nicknamed Ski. He had been close not just with Sergeant Wisniewski but also another soldier shot that same day by a sniper, Pfc. Matthew Bean of Pembroke, Mass.

Private Bean later died. Specialist Barranco-Oro, a medic, said he still wished he could have been there to help. He was in another patrol area at the time.

The shock, he said, has flooded back as his return home approaches. “You would never, never think one of your friends won’t be there with you,” Specialist Barranco-Oro said. “Never.”

“You make so many plans: ‘We’re gonna go to Bean’s wedding and live it up; we’re going to Standish with Ski and go hunting and to party it up.’”

He leaned forward and stared straight ahead.

“We’ll still go see the families and stuff,” he said. “But it’s going to be different.”

Looking for real soldiers

Alex at Army of Dude writes in response to The Lying Lump of Lard, Rush Limbaugh. In his post he provides details and pictures of some of Rush's "phony soldiers".

His post would shame a normal human being.

Rush and his friends will probably attack him.

Quote of the Day

"I turned and engaged the car with approximately 20 to 30 rounds from my M4 rifle. After I no longer felt the threat to my life, I turned back to cover my sector,"
Unnamed Blackwater employee describing his actions during the Blackwater Massacre. The car contained an unarmed man, woman and child.

Collateral damage

Bill Moyers Journal last night had a horrific segment on refugees from Iraq and the consequences that will come of this. As much as anything in Iraq, the question of how to deal with the millions of Iraqis who have fled their country is another ticking time bomb in a region that does not need any more bombs of any kind. Watch it here.

Left of Boom

Rick Atkinson, writing on the front page of Sunday's Washington Post, has begun a series on the signature success of Republican Party War on Iraq, the IED. It is the one tactic and weapon that has managed to stay one step ahead of effective counter measures.

As early as 2003, Army officers spoke of shifting the counter-IED effort "left of boom" by disrupting insurgent cells before bombs are built and planted. Yet U.S. efforts have focused overwhelmingly on "right of boom"-- by mitigating the effects of a bomb blast with heavier armor, sturdier vehicles and better trauma care -- or on the boom itself, by spending, for example, more than $3 billion on 14 types of electronic jammers that sometimes also jammed the radios of friendly forces.

For years the counter-IED effort was defensive, reactive and ultimately inadequate, driven initially by a presumption that IEDs were a passing nuisance in a short war, and then by an abiding faith that science would solve the problem.

"Americans want technical solutions. They want the silver bullet," said Rear Adm. Arch Macy, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington, which now oversees several counter-IED technologies. "The solution to IEDs is the whole range of national power --political-military affairs, strategy, operations, intelligence."

Chasing the silver bullet, which requires $Billions in new defense spending while short changing the strategy that could have prevented much of the "small price" our troops are paying, is the ne plus ultra of Republican war fighting. Make lots of money and let someone else's kids get killed.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bush family capo caught in 'strong arm' move

Not quite as catchy as a Daily News front page but it does capture the aroma of what is coming forth from the State Dept. Inspector General's office these days.
Aides to State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard threatened two investigators with retaliation this week if they cooperate with a congressional probe into Krongard's office, the chairman of a House of Representatives panel and other U.S. officials said Friday.

The allegations are the latest in a growing uproar surrounding Krongard. Current and former officials in his office charge that he impeded investigations into alleged arms smuggling by employees of the private security firm Blackwater and into faulty construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Blackwater, again. And now we have our government using its offices to try to muscle the investigation. And another turd lands on the pile of Our Dear Leader's Legacy.

We got smoke, we got mirrors, Roll 'em!

In an effort to prove that both Mencken and, by attribution, Barnum were right, a group of Senate Republicans have put forth a proposal on Iraq that they could support. Two problems with their 'brilliant' idea, they are all but one up for re-election and desperate and they already support their 'new' position.
A small group of Republicans facing election fights next year have rallied around war legislation they think could unite the GOP: Call for an end to U.S. combat in Iraq, but wait until President Bush is out of office.
It is going to take a lot more than this lame proposal to make voters forget that the Republicans have supported the war all the way, through every single death and dismemberment.

Public Service Announcement

Wes Clark needs your help

If you have not yet heard, Rush Limpbaugh insulted the troops of the US Army on his radio show the other day. Wes is organizing an e-mail campaign asking the Lying Lump of Lard to invite Jon Stolz on his show and tell Stolz to his face that he is a phony soldier. You can read it and send it from here. Give it a try, it's free and maybe we can make Ol' Lardbutt squirm.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

McClatchy has done some journalism

And has put together a collection of the Blackwater shooting sprees, including the Blackwater massacre that started it all. You can read the stories with whatever degree of scepticism you want, but try and imagine this shit going on in your city or town.
Batoul Mohammed Ali Hussein came to Baghdad for the day.

A clerk in the Iraqi customs office in Diyala province, she was in the capital to drop off and pick up paperwork at the central office near busy al Khilani Square, not far from the fortified Green Zone, where top U.S. and Iraqi officials live and work. U.S. officials often pass through the square in heavily guarded convoys on their way to other parts of Baghdad.

As Hussein walked out of the customs building, an embassy convoy of sport-utility vehicles drove through the intersection. Blackwater security guards, charged with protecting the diplomats, yelled at construction workers at an unfinished building to move back. Instead, the workers threw rocks. The guards, witnesses said, responded with gunfire, spraying the intersection with bullets.

Hussein, who was on the opposite side of the street from the construction site, fell to the ground, shot in the leg. As she struggled to her feet and took a step, eyewitnesses said, a Blackwater security guard trained his weapon on her and shot her multiple times. She died on the spot, and the customs documents she'd held in her arms fluttered down the street.

Anyone who moved was shot until the convoy left the square, witnesses said. Also among the dead was Kadhim Gayes, a city hall guard.

It took two days for Hussein's family to retrieve her body from the morgue. Before they could, her sister signed a sheet acknowledging the contents of her purse, which had been collected by security guards at the Baghdad city hall — a Samsung cell phone, a change purse with six keys and 37,000 Iraqi dinars ($30), gold bracelets, a notebook, pens, and photos of her and her children.
She's dead, she must be a terrist.

And to think, this was the same company that just three years ago was doing business on the cheap and getting a lot of people killed in Fallujah.

Quote of the Day

Our Army today is out of balance for several reasons. The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, describing the state of the US Army as Dear Leader gets ready to attack Iran.

Somebody still believes in the Constitution

And it is our good fortune that she is a sitting judge on the US District Court.
A federal judge in Oregon ruled yesterday that two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional, marking the second time in as many weeks that the anti-terrorism law has come under attack in the courts.

In a case brought by a Portland man who was wrongly detained as a terrorism suspect in 2004, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Patriot Act violates the Constitution because it "permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment."

"For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law -- with unparalleled success," Aiken wrote in a strongly worded 44-page opinion. "A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill-advised."
Ill advised indeed! I recommend that everyone send this news to their congressional delegation as a reminder that outside the Beltway most of us have not conceded our way of government to Osama.

Blackwater, fastest guns in the Middle East

Heck, you don't even have to look cross eyed at them to get blasted. Initial reports indicate that Blackwater has about double the number of shooting incidents as their competitors. Blackwater would have you believe that is because they escort high value targets in the toughest areas. The truth is simpler. When you are a merc in Iraq, you can shoot any non US persons, any time, anywhere because thats what mercs do.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joe Galloway has seen the face of evil.

And he really and truly hopes that you will, too. And soon.
The Bush White House may have gotten most everything it's touched wrong, but it's raised fear mongering to a fine art. It's wrapped itself in a cloak of invisibility named National Security that quashes all questions, stifles all debate and conceals a multitude of sins.

The equal branches of government, meant to keep a chief executive greedy for power under control, have failed the American people for nearly seven years of the Bush administration. Shame on Congress and shame on the judiciary for their dereliction of duty and failure to protect the inalienable rights of the American people under the Constitution.

Shame, as well, on the American people, who've been too busy shopping, too busy partying while Rome burns, to pay as much attention to the steady erosion of their rights as they do to Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton or O.J. Simpson. Shame on most of the news media for regularly parroting so many of the administration's assertions about Iraq, Iran, terrorism and so on without bothering to ask whether or not they're true.

Meanwhile, men whose incompetence has become legendary, men who seemingly have no common decency, nor even a smidgen of good intentions, dare to claim for themselves the mantle of Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.
How long can we 'Party Hearty' as the Republicans rip the heart out of our country?

The Soul of a New Republican

Because they sure as hell ain't like my daddy's kind of Republican. If you want a good look at the inside of Satan's Own Cesspool, read the latest from Matt Taibbi.

There is something about D Dock

Seth Hettena, writing in the New Yorker, reveals an interesting nexus of apparently disconnected corruption at the Capital Yacht Club.
There, across the Washington Channel from the Jefferson Memorial, is the Capital Yacht Club, where Craig lives on a forty-two-foot Bertram yacht called the Suz II, named for his wife, Suzanne, who stays back home in Idaho....

...Craig’s boat shares D Dock with the Cw S Way, a thirty-eight-foot Chris-Craft out of Valdez, Alaska. That boat’s owner is Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. In July, federal agents raided Stevens’s home outside Anchorage; now the F.B.I. is investigating whether he took illegal gifts from an oil-field-services company. (Stevens denies any wrongdoing.) Craig sponsored Stevens for membership in the club, describing him, on the application, as an “experienced boater, great guy, and longtime friend.”

Another of Craig’s neighbors on D Dock was Randy (Duke) Cunningham, the California Republican congressman who is serving a prison sentence for accepting millions of dollars in bribes, including the hundred-and-forty-thousand-dollar cost of the Duke Stir, a forty-two-foot yacht. On board, Cunningham kept a document that prosecutors called the “bribe menu.” The Duke Stir’s previous owners, a gay couple, had named the vessel Buoy Toy, but Cunningham quickly changed it. “I bought the boat,” he once said, “not the life style.”
Some people just aren't meant for a life at sea.

It's official, The Plan is working

The Republican Party plan, as implemented by Our Dear Embattled Leader, to redistribute US oil and gas assets to deserving oil companies. The report prepared by the Inspector General of the Interior Dept found the following.
The Interior Department’s program to collect billions of dollars annually from oil and gas companies that drill on federal lands is troubled by mismanagement, ethical lapses and fears of retaliation against whistle-blowers, the department’s chief independent investigator has concluded.

The report, a result of a yearlong investigation, grew out of complaints by four auditors at the agency, who said that senior administration officials had blocked them from recovering money from oil companies that underpaid the government.
This is another piece of the picture of the Republican administration. Less an administration than a plan to loot the treasury and strip the nation of its assets.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Headline of the Day

From McClatchy:
Bush astounds activists, supports human rights
A word to all activists, he was just talking, don't hold your breath waiting for anything remotely resembling action.

How do you define Hypocrisy?

With three little words, The Republican Party. Forget about how the Republicans have lost the war in Iraq and want to continue killing US soldiers. Forget about how, after trying to destroy public education with No Child Left Behind, the Republicans now want to destroy health care for children. Forget about how the Republican party desperately wants to start another war with Iran to try and advance a goal that failed its first step in Iraq. But do remember Iran because ABC News has this choice morsel.
For more than 25 years, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities say they have suspected the New York-based Alavi Foundation is a "front" for Iranian espionage and anti-American activities.

For more than 25 years, court records show the foundation has been publicly defended and represented by the New York law firm where attorney-general nominee Michael Mukasey is a partner: Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.

The foundation says the firm continues to represent it.

Mukasey personally handled at least one matter in court for the foundation.
So the nominee for Attorney General has had a close working relationship with what may be the prime Iranian espionage group in this country. And if Dickwahd gets his way, when we go to war with Iran, Iran may very well have an agent in one of the top cabinet posts in our government. Because you know, if given a choice between a piddly government salary for 18 months and a fat juicy retainer from a long time client, the Republican will always work for the long time client.

No comparison

41 days' worth of Iraq spending would provide health coverage for 10 million children each year
And Our Dear Embattled Leader wants to veto the S-CHIP bill and stay in Iraq forever, without ever telling us why we are there. That pretty well sums up the soul of a Republican.

Just in case the words seem bland I stole this (sans regrette) from The General.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bait and Shoot

Things must be going so well because of the Surge. How else can you explain US snipers now having to bait their traps.
"Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, said in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. Forces."
Things are going so well that any Iraqi with a little curiosity is now an insurgent. That should pretty much cover all of the population still breathing.

Here come the Thunder Chickens

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, nicknamed ``The Thunder Chickens,'' will be based at the Al Asad Airbase in western Iraq for at least seven months of combat operations. The Marine Corps Ospreys, known as MV-22s, will be used to ferry Marines as well as cargo throughout predominately Sunni Muslim Anbar province.
Seeing as how we spent all that money developing them, we might as well see if they work. Let's just hope they don't kill too many Marines.

A moment of wonder from 60 Minutes

Ezra Klein has a portion of the transcript of the 60 Minutes interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Like Mr. Klein, I was gobsmacked by this part as Scott Pelley tries to get MA to say something nice about Our Dear Embattled Leader.
AHMADINEJAD: As an American citizen, tell me what trait do you admire?

PELLEY: Well, Mr. Bush is, without question, a very religious man, for example, as you are. I wonder if there's anything that you've seen in President Bush that you admire.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, is Mr. Bush a religious man?

PELLEY: Very much so. As you are.

AHMADEINEJAD: What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children? You just can't wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man. And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn't sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed. Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone. But having said that, I don't think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.

PELLEY: I take it you can't think of anything you like about President Bush.
A real Wonder of Duh moment there. Maybe Dan Rather is right.

Monday Music Blogging

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Who was hurt

When the Republicans filibustered the Webb amendment? Not the Senate Republicans, they proudly showed their undying support for Our Dear Embattled Leader and His Republican Party War Against Iraq. Why they even got erstwhile Democrat Joe Lieberschmuck to vote with them, as usual. No, the ones hurt most are the families of the troops and the Army Times has a feature story on the terrible burden that Our Dear Embattled Leader and his Stooges have put on them.
Shanan Conklin couldn’t fight back her tears as she watched her husband, dressed in his Army uniform, play with their 16-month-old daughter.

A few short hours later, he would be on a plane, headed for 15 months in Iraq.

Two Christmases and more than 450 days of separation.

“My whole heart is right there,” Shanan Conklin said. “I tried making sure the bills were taken care of, making sure we took enough pictures, making sure we took enough walks, making sure we spent enough time together. As much as you do, I don’t think you’re ever prepared for it. I’m not ready. I’m not ready at all.

At least eight of the Army’s 44 active-duty brigade combat teams have deployed three or more times. Another six, including three from the 101st Airborne Division, will leave this month or next for Round Three or Four; and three more brigades will deploy before January.
But these people count as nothing compared to how badly Dear Leader would feel if he had to end the Republican Party War Against Iraq. And so they deploy and redeploy and redeploy and every time a few less come back standing up. And of those that do.
About 30 percent of Fort Drum soldiers screened three to six months after returning from deployments are referred to the post behavioral health clinic, said Todd Benham, the department chief.

“We’re pretty aggressive about getting them seen,” he said. “Eighty-five to 90 percent are coming in for follow-up care. The biggest referral issues are [post-traumatic stress disorder], sleep or anxiety concerns and [traumatic brain injury].”
More stress on the family as these problems are treated and then 12 months is up and it is back again to make ODEL look good.

They deserve so much better from our government.

Adm Fallon comes out against war with Iran

And he had the consummate gall to say so to Al-Jazeera television!
“This constant drum beat of conflict is what strikes me which is not helpful and not useful,” Adm. William Fallon said in an interview with Al-Jazeera television, which made a partial transcript available Sunday.

Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, wraps up a seven-nation tour of the region on Tuesday that included stops in Persian Gulf countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of the talks with military and political leaders were dominated by worries about expanding Iranian influence and U.S. accusations that Iran is supplying arms and training to Shiite militiamen in Iraq.

“I expect that there will be no war and that is what we ought to be working for,” said Fallon during the Friday interview at Al-Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar. “We we should find ways through which we can bring countries to work together for the benefit of all .... It is not a good idea to be in a state of war. We ought to try and to do our utmost to create different conditions.
Does he have official sanction to say this? Or will he be fired next week. I hope he did so with approval because if he is fired, we will get some ass kissing chickenshit in his place.

This is how Republicans begin a presidential debate

Osama would be proud of them.

A bit of Bill Maher

About 5 minutes in, Janeane Garafolo explains why right wingers are right wingers. And Bill frames the war debate very well.

The Iraqis are feeling their oats

And all it took was a handful of mercenaries.Today Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki made his and his country's feelings about said mercs very clear.
"The Iraqi government is responsible for its citizens and it cannot be accepted for a security company to carry out a killing,"..."There are serious challenges to the sovereignty of Iraq." In Arabic, he used the word "tajawiz" which can be translated either as "affronts" or "challenges."
Last Sunday's Blackwater Massacre was the final straw, now the Iraqi government is demanding it be treated asif it really is what Our Dear Embattled Leader says it is, a sovereign country. There were also separate calls for the release of an Iranian seized by US troops in Kurdistan.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, demanded the Iranian's release on Saturday, saying he was a member of an official delegation that was in the autonomous Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah with the full knowledge of the Iraqi government and local authorities.
Soon Dear Leader will make the reality of the situation clear to Miliki and Talabani. Asituation made very clear by Juan Cole.
Plus, Mam Jalal, if you are a president and have to plead with a foreign general to release your own guest from prison, you don't have any sovereignty left and haven't had for some time. You've been colonized.

A neat trick

Our Dear Embattled Leader sent his regular war budget request to Congress at $141 Billion. Needless to say, this was not enough to pay for the Republican Party Crusade Against Iraq. So ODEL cranked up a $50 Billion supplemental request, off budget to make his deficit spending look not quite so bad and allegedly dedicated to acquisition of MRAPs and rehabilitation and replacement of all the equipment worn out by the Republican Party Crusade Against Iraq. A normal president would have included this request in the regular budget, but Dear Leader is not a normal president. His budget requests are designed more for political points and to forestall any calls to defund his war. And he will once again have success funding his Great Failure because Congress needs leadership to stop the madman and hasn't found it yet.

R I P Marcel Marceau

Bip est mort.

From the pen of Stuart Carlson

Saturday, September 22, 2007

If only

Your Love Life is Like Pretty Woman

"I want the fairy tale"

You believe that love is truly blind, unpredictable, and surprising. Two very different people can easily find true love.
At least, that is how it will happen when you marry a gorgeous billionaire someday ;-)

Your love style: Sensual and flirty

Your Hollywood Ending Will Be: Surprisingly happy
What Movie Is Your Love Life Like?

Up yours! Georgie

And all the other unAmerican Republicans and pusillanimous Democrats who voted for the Resolution of Senate Shame the other day. Yesterday I received an e-mail telling of their $500,000 in contributions since the resolution. They were asking for another $500,000 to press on with the attack. I just came back from their web site where they had a graph with the following caption.

We've reached 99% of our NEW goal of $1,500,000! ($1,493,550.88)
Go here if you want to do your part in the fight.

George W Bush plays politics with childrens lives.

Which should come as a surprise to no one not suffering from severe oxygen deprivation. Despite the support of Republicans, many of whom know they are dead meat come election time if they oppose this, George will stand on his newly created principles rather than let our tax dollars go to saving the health and lives of children. For the record, we are talking $35 Billion over 5 years at a time when we are pissing away $3 Billion a week on Georgie's Personal War, which he has no intention of ending. And unlike the Waste of War, the increase to SCHIP will be actually paid for by a cigarette tax increase as opposed to bumming the money from China and the Saudis and others.

These people deserve so much more

Than the failed "leadership" of George W Bush and the Republican Party.
March 16, 2006. Southeastern Afghanistan. A fierce ambush and bloody firefight. It was over in a flash and Moss was left on the verge of death.

He was impaled through the abdomen with a rocket-propelled grenade, and an aluminum rod with one tail fin protruded from the left side of his torso.

His fellow soldiers worried: Could he blow up and take them with him? For all anyone knew, the answer was yes.

Still, over the course of the next couple of hours, his buddies, a helicopter crew and a medical team would risk their own lives to save his.
Their bravery is daily mocked by the stupidity and cowardice of George W Bush and Dick Cheney. These soldiers, and all their brothers and sisters in arms, deserve so much more from those who sent them in harms way.

Two quotes of interest

From McClatchy on the domestic investigation of arms smuggling and Blackwater.
The U.S. weapons-smuggling investigation was mentioned in a letter sent Tuesday to State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who for years has been investigating wrongdoing by private contractors in Iraq.

Waxman didn’t name Blackwater but charged that Krongard, the State Department's top watchdog, was impeding an investigation "into whether a large private security contractor working for the State Department was illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq."

Waxman said that when Krongard heard about the criminal investigation, he sent an e-mail ordering his investigative staff to stop work until federal prosecutors in North Carolina could brief him. Krongard delayed the briefing for weeks, then assigned a member of his congressional and media staff, instead of an investigator, to the case, Waxman said.

Krongard disputed the charges in a statement.

"I made one of my best investigators available to help assistant U.S. attorneys in North Carolina in their investigation into alleged smuggling of weapons into Iraq by a contractor," he said.
You see, if you poke a Bushovik in the right spot he will tell you what you didn't know you wanted to know. Or as the New York Times puts it.
The North Carolina investigation was first brought to light by State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, who mentioned it, perhaps inadvertently, this week while denying he had improperly blocked fraud and corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Krongard was accused in a letter by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, of politically motivated malfeasance, including refusing to cooperate with an investigation into alleged weapons smuggling by a large, unidentified State Department contractor.

In response, Krongard said in a written statement that he ''made one of my best investigators available to help Assistant U.S. Attorneys in North Carolina in their investigation into alleged smuggling of weapons into Iraq by a contractor.''

His statement went further than Waxman's letter because it identified the state in which the investigation was taking place. Blackwater is the biggest of the State Department's three private security contractors.

The other two, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, are based in Washington's northern Virginias suburbs, outside the jurisdiction of the North Carolina's attorneys.
While the full details won't be known until after Dear Leader's Democratic successor is sworn in, between now and then they should be revealing where a lot of the "bodies are buried".

Dr. Doom knows all about you

And he is getting more and more information about you every day. Do not think for one minute that you can continue to be a threat to Our Dear Embattled Leader without the good Dr. knowing it.
The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials.

The personal travel records are meant to be stored for as long as 15 years, as part of the Department of Homeland Security's effort to assess the security threat posed by all travelers entering the country. Officials say the records, which are analyzed by the department's Automated Targeting System, help border officials distinguish potential terrorists from innocent people entering the country.
But you have nothing to worry about except that not all the information is accurate. So you may still be taken away for a mistake.

"You are mine, all mine!"

Oceania is at war with Eastasia

We have always been at war with Eurasia. And if you doubt you memory, consider this little refresher on the amorality of international politics from the Village Voice.
New York's tabloids and assorted pols came unglued yesterday about the very idea of Iran's crackpot hardliner Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wanting to visit Ground Zero.

Where were they when Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, whose regime boils people to death, was courted by George W. Bush and Mayor Mike Bloomberg?

Don't let your own blood boil at the thought of a bad guy visiting our sacralized 9/11 site. Condemn it, if you want, but Ahmedinejad was just trying to score political points, as our own pols do all the time at Ground Zero. He got what he wanted: The angry U.S. reaction will play well back home in Tehran, especially with the radical mullahs who really run Iran and like to stir up hatred for the "Great Satan."
It is all politics and rather than have any real animus to each other, what we see is all posturing to give the other guy a hand keeping his people satisfied.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Picture of the Month

You can read the cover story here.

Quote of the Day

It seemed to be typical of the recent over-hyped success of the Anbar Awakening that you would have to fly from Baghdad to Damascus, and then drive six hours back across the desert, to get only 40 minutes outside Baghdad in order to see it for yourself (you could go with the U.S. Army as well, but you learn mostly about Americans if you are with Americans and end up sounding like a visiting columnist for the New York Times).
Patrick Graham, "How George Bush became the new Saddam"

Hi-Yo Blackwater Away!

The mercenaries have been given the green light to resume their protection racket for the State Dept. and despite soothing words from folks like Condi it appears that the Iraqis have been told to pound salt and keep their heads down.
American diplomats today resumed travel in Iraq in convoys escorted by Blackwater USA, the private American security contractor, less than a week after the Iraqi government banned the company following a shooting in which at least eight Iraqis were killed....

....That the American Embassy chose to resume work with Blackwater, when so many questions are currently being raised by the Iraqis about the company’s work, showed how hamstrung American civilian officials are here without private security contractors, who provide the bulk of the protection for diplomats.
No one really expected Our Dear Embattled Leader to stand between his good old boys and their profit, but it does point up something very disturbing. Even with the bulk of US ground forces in Iraq, we need to hire a warlords private army to protect our diplomats. Just one more turd in the pile of Dear Leader's Glorious Legacy.

Yesterday Georgie threw a hissy fit

In his "press conference". Last night Keith Olbermann dissected Li'l Georgie's lame ideas, in a manner that should be standard operating procedure for all news networks. You can watch it here.

If the New York Times can get it

Why can't Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats figure it out.
The current Republican leadership, now in the minority, has organized its entire agenda around the filibuster. In July, the McClatchy newspaper group reported that Republicans were using the threat of filibuster more than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Remember, this is the same batch of Republican senators who denounced Democrats as obstructionist and even un-American and threatened to change the Senate’s rules when Democrats threatened filibusters in 2005 over a few badly chosen judicial nominees. Now Republicans are using it to prevent consideration of an entire war.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On the edge of collapse

As the GAO reports, the Armed Forces are currently maintaining their
mission requirements and report high overall readiness rates for their deployed units in the midst of the demanding wars.
But what is really going on is Peter robbing Paul to maintain that level.
The strain on military gear caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is forcing the Army and Marine Corps to operate on the margins worldwide, shorting next-to-deploy units in favor of longer-term needs at increasing risk to worldwide readiness, according to a new report.
And then when it is done we will have to pay to replace all that has broken or worn out.
As a result, the cost to repair, replace and recapitalize that equipment is going to “increase significantly,” GAO said in a report released Wednesday.

But the task of figuring out those costs is being hampered by Defense Department accounting procedures that do not require the Army and Marine Corps to report the costs of equipment reset with enough detail to give Congress visibility on whether the money is being spent as planned for the units deploying or preparing to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, GAO said.

And because the Army was not required to track its reset costs from the start of the wars, it has no historical data that can be used to estimate future costs, the GAO found.

The precise cost won’t be known until the end of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, GAO said, “It will likely cost billions of dollars to repair and replace equipment.”...

...“Units . . . continue to report significant shortages during their training cycles that affect their ability to train,” the report states. “Thus, the services may be sacrificing short-term equipment needs for longer-term modernization goals.

“Until the services’ reset strategies target shortages of equipment needed to equip units preparing for deployment and give priority to those units over longer-term needs, the Army and Marine Corps will be unable to minimize operational risk by ensuring the needs of deploying units can be met.”
And the important point to remember is that this is just the equipment cost. Personnel are extra.

Before the surge

Dear Gen Betraus, beloved of those who enjoy troops dying, was in charge of training Iraqi forces so they could stand up so we could sit down. The latest news from Iraq is that training is not going very well.
In another sign of U.S. struggles in Iraq, the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least July.

The delay, noted in a Pentagon report to Congress on progress and problems in Iraq, highlights the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress in some areas.

It is the second time this year the target date for completing what is known as ``Provincial Iraqi Control'' has been pushed back. The Pentagon report submitted to Congress on Monday hinted at the possibility of further delays.
Some may call this a failure, but in reality it was Our Dear Embattled Leader's fallback positions in the event that Republicans in Congress got a brain. You see, if the Iraqis stood up and we stood down, ODEL would have been required to bring some troops home. And we all know that won't happen on ODEL's watch. The fewer troops there, the fewer troops die and that would make Li'l Georgie very unhappy. Of course, ODEL didn't need the plan but since it was already started, it was allowed to finish and add another page to the Republicans efforts to destroy the US Army.

This should promote stem cells

It takes our friends from the frozen north to tell us aboot a breakthrough in stem cell research that should make it palatable to all but the stupidest Republican.
Men have a source of potentially life-saving stem cells between their legs.

A team of American researchers has found a way to easily identify stem cells in the testicles of adult mice that can be coaxed to turn into brain cells, muscle cells, heart cells, blood cells and even blood vessels.

One day, they say, male patients may be able to turn to their own testicles as a source of stem cells to repair an ailing heart or kidney or to fix the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
Or if you have a mean streak, you could tell your Republican friends that to get the cells they need to cut off your sack. Don't worry, they will believe you, they believe anything if you tell it right.

Bring back KO!

I like Alison, she is a good fill in for Keith Olbermann, but she obviously doesn't have the clout to stop MSNBC management from polluting Countdown with OJ stories in the lead position, as if he were news. For two days now, I have had to change the channel to keep from losing dinner (thank you John Stewart).

E-Mail MSNBC at and let them know what you think.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

H.L.Mencken, the Baltimore Nostradamus

Joe Galloway doesn't go quite that far in his praise of H.L. for divining that we would someday be ruled by a moron, but he is impressed at how well George W Bush fits the image of the predicted idiot bastard child.
On July 26th, 1920, the acerbic and cranky scribe wrote in The Baltimore Sun: "...all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily (and) adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
What follows is a litany of the many ways that our IBC fits this description. Sadly he ends with the only words appropriate for the state we are in..

God help us.

Republicans show they hate the USA, the troops and the District of Columbia

The Republican filibuster is on a roll they amassed their evil minions to deny passage to a bill that would restore one of the fundamental rights of all people in the United States, Habeas Corpus. Then with shreds of the Constitution, stained with their dreadful slobber lying on the floor about them, they turned their hate filled eyes upon the troops in Iraq. With a vote of 56-44 the filibuster prevented an honest vote on the amendment offered by Sen. Jim Webb to provide proper and adequate time at home between deployments for the men and women volunteers who put their lives on the line every day for Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Failed Occupation of Iraq. To the Republicans, troops are props, not human beings who deserve respect, good leaders and good equipment. And in one final spasm of hate the Republicans claimed ownership of everything that is wrong in this country by using a procedural vote to prevent a bill giving Americans living in the District of Columbia the right to representation in Congress.

A proud day for Republicans, they have loudly proclaimed to all their unbound hatred of the United States of America.

Arrrgh! I just be recollectin'

That today is "International Talk Like a Pirate Day" and I hope everybody is having arrgh grand old time mangling the English language in their attempts to sound like an old Cornishman.

There will be a test later.

S.O.P or B.A.U

The Iraqi government has issued a preliminary report about the "Shootout at Blackwater Corral" last Sunday. It sounds very much like so many other reports of mercenary violence in that country.
A preliminary Iraqi report on a shooting involving an American diplomatic motorcade said Tuesday that Blackwater security guards were not ambushed, as the company reported, but instead fired at a car when it did not heed a policeman’s call to stop, killing a couple and their infant....

...The report said Blackwater helicopters had also fired. The Ministry of Defense said 20 Iraqis had been killed, a far higher number than had been reported before....

...“The traffic policeman was trying to open the road for them,” he said. “It was a crowded square. But one small car did not stop. It was moving very slowly. They shot against the couple and their child. They started shooting randomly.”

In video shot shortly after the episode, the child appeared to have burned to the mother’s body after the car caught fire, according to an official who saw it.
In the movies nobody likes the gang of gunslingers hired by the evil cattle baron. In an administration locked into image over substance,it is curious that our cowboy preznit would hire a gang of gunslingers to protect his evil oil barons. Maybe he isn't really a cowboy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Harry is calling the Republicans hand.

In a surprise move today, Sen Harry Reid has as good as said 'no more compromise'.
The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation.
Lest you wonder if he knows what he is doing, consider this quote.
"I think they've decided definitely they want this to be the Senate Republicans' war, not just Bush's. They're jealous," he said with a smile.
It sure looks like we will be seeing Republicans reading from the phone book as they really and truly have to filibuster their saggy old asses of to protect Our Dear Embattled Leader. And show what they really care about, and no it is NOT the troops.

Quote of the Day

"Iran is not a suicide nation,"
Gen John Abizaid, US Army Ret., not realizing that Dickwahd al-Cheney is a suicide bomber awaiting his appiontment with martyrdom.

Headline of the Day

Fallon denies animosity with Petraeus
You see, when Adm Fallon referred to Gen Petraeus as “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” he was merely praising two of the generals better qualities.

Tom Toles Tuesday

A comic interlude

Watch out! OJ's on the loose! Well, actually he is in custody and not likely to be loose for a while. The erstwhile football star-cum-slasher, in jail for armed robbery this time, is not quite as compelling as a missing white woman but the media frenzy departments make do with whatever they can get their hands on. It you are still a little fuzzy about what is happening, Eugene Robinson has a neat, compact explanation that will save you spending hours watching the prattling poltroons on TV.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Quote of the Day #2

“If mothers ruled the world, there would be no god-damned wars in the first place.
Sally Field, from her Emmy acceptance speech. If you don't remember it, that is because Fox cut out the italicized words.

Mercs shoot up bystanders, lose license

But thanks to Paul Bremer and his corps of Republikiddies there seems to be a law exempting mercenaries from liability when they shoot non-US personnel. Do not be surprised if the Iraqi parliament seeks to change this with greater dispatch than they have shown up to now. Blackwater, on the other hand, is very well connected with the White House mob. Eric Prince and his company have a relationship with Our Dear Embattled Leader that probably matches that enjoyed by Louis "Lepke" Buchhalter and his Brownsville Boys with Lucky Luciano, so there will be no serious repercussions for the company and probably only a minor dip in profits before ODEL puts Malaki and his crew in their place. Probably the only ones who will suffer are the troops who will have to face an increasing number of Iraqis who have had enough of ODEL's Benevolent Occupation. But troops are nothing to Republicans, profits are everything so after a lot of fustian and bombast it will be business as usual for Blackwater in no time.

Monday Music Blogging

Emmylou Harris, some guy named Cash and a kid name of Marty Stuart

PS Don't miss the bit at the end, a must see.

Quote of the Day

"The issue here is, having been engulfed with terrorist activities from the beginning, from 1948, we learned a good lesson — if you want to remain a democracy you must be willing to let them have their day in court.''
Emanuel Gross, a retired Israeli Army colonel and military judge writing in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court on behalf of Guantanamo detainees.

Yup, even the Israelis think Gitmo is a bad idea.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Army training

McClatchy has a piece on training methods for the Iraqi army. One paragraph really stood out.
Temple hopes an influx of Iraqi sergeants trained in two-week courses led by his battalion can help solve the problem. That senior enlisted rank didn’t exist in Saddam Hussein’s military, but U.S. officers say it’s critical to an efficient command structure.
Two weeks. That should make "Shake N Bakes" look like lifers.

Anbar South?

Seems that some of your Shiite sheiks south of Baghdad want to get the Americans to give them some weapons and training so they can do something about the folks giving them a hard time. Down that way that would be the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades and various as yet unnamed criminal groups.
Army Capt. Majid al-Imara, who said he has been charged with establishing the new force, said each battalion will be made up of 350 men chosen by tribal leaders, and they will be armed and equipped by the Iraqi government and paid $300 monthly, he said.

Col. Peter Baker, the commander of the 214th Fires Brigade that took over Forward Operating Base Delta near Kut in June, also said the idea was for the tribal volunteers to act as an “auxiliary police force” that could provide security in an organized fashion but let the sheiks maintain control of tribal members.

One of the obstacles is the lack of a single enemy, such as al-Qaida in Iraq, which alienated Sunni tribal leaders and even other insurgents by killing sheiks and trying to impose a strict interpretation of Islam.

Shiites are getting increasingly fed up, however, with the fighting among rival militia groups, as well as the criminal nature of gangs engaging in extortion and setting up illegal checkpoints.

Weems acknowledged fears that the tribal leaders could abuse their authority and said he expected the movement to start with small groups that would receive mandatory training in when and how to use force, with careful monitoring.
And so we set up another organized armed group. To do what the Iraqi Army or the police is supposed to do. In an area where they probably don't like us any more than they do in Anbar. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Know your enemy

A wise dictum and one mostly honored in the breach by the Bushoviks. Thanks be to Juan Cole for pointing the way to this piece from Pepe Escobar, writing for Asia Times Online. In it he makes clear what is actually going on in Georgie's beloved Anbar.
Asia Times Online talked to Abu Risha this past spring in Iraq. He explained, crucially, that he had set up the council after his father and two brothers were killed by al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers. Yes, it was personal. Petraeus then joined the bandwagon. Abu Risha is not, and never was, a Salafi-jihadi. He considers himself an Iraqi nationalist. He's not in favor of a caliphate. But he's definitely in favor of restored power to Sunni Iraqis.

Petraeus was indeed smart enough to marvel at the possibilities of a marriage of convenience between the occupation and Sunni tribes. Al-Qaeda for its part was clumsy enough to force "Talibanization" down Anbar people's throats. But this does not mean that Abu Risha and his 200 tribal leaders are pro-occupation, or even pro-Iraqi government. Eighty percent of these tribes are sub-clans of the very powerful Dulaimi tribe. Al-Qaeda's close relationship is with the Mashadani tribe, which used to be very close to Saddam Hussein. What matters is that with varying degrees of disgust, both big tribes detest the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

Way beyond any "success" claimed by Petraeus, what's happening in Anbar is once again a replay of what happened in eastern Afghanistan in 2001. Local tribes profit from US largesse - and weapons - and then proceed with their own tribal and/or nationalist agenda. What matters for all these players, most of all, is restoration of Sunni power. The Dulaimi tribe and sub-clans, armed by the Americans, as soon as they have a chance, will try to topple the US-sponsored puppet government in Baghdad.
To his credit Petraeus grabbed an opportunity that came his way. To his shame he smudged the colors and blurred the edges of the true picture to support an unsupportable position. And in this country we have a CEO president doing what all CEO's do, covering his ass. A power crazed VP, his critical faculties destroyed by strokes, charging ahead with his preconceived notions. A Secretary of State who can't even tell when someone is bouncing quarters off her ass. And a Congress that has come to embrace its own impotence.

A year and a half can be a very long time.

Gates hates the troops as much as Our Dear Embattled Leader

First he was making some teasing remarks about drawing down the troops and now he shows his true colors. Just like ODEL, he will break the Army rather than bring them home before a Democrat gets in the White House.
With the Senate expected to resume debate this week on anti-war legislation, Gates sharpened his criticism of Webb's proposal. It would require troops get as much time at their home station as their deployments to the war front.

Gates was asked in broadcast interviews about recommending a veto to Bush should the proposal pass. "Yes I would," the Pentagon chief said.
No way the troops get a break while Georgie is still around to take the rap.

UPDATE: John McCain doesn't like Webb-Hegel, it must be good.

Give me liberty or give me another look at that weapons system

Simon Jenkins considers the increasing curtailment of liberty and freedom in Britain and the US and gives us a look at the source of our problems.
The growth of Islamist terror, always described as "al-Qaida linked" (as international crime was always "mafia-linked"), meets Eisenhower's thesis. With the threat of communism gone, the military/industrial complex needs a new cause. Allied to a booming police and intelligence bureaucracy, it has grasped eagerly at terrorism. It has no interest in keeping that threat in proportion, and every interest in exaggerating it. To cover the bungles that led to 9/11, this security/industrial complex portrayed the terrorists as awesome and ubiquitous, capable of building vast bomb-proof bunkers in the Hindu Kush, fake plans of which were dumped on a gullible press. State security agencies dance to the tune of Oh! What a Lovely War. They enslave the language of freedom in the cause of repression.
So long as you stay properly afraid, they will make their profits and keep their chosen "leaders" in power. Because power is more important than any liberty you may think you should have.

Every army needs a supply line

Unless you are Sherman marching through Georgia, and even he would have had problems if he had not been facing a beaten foe. Unlike Sherman, our troops in Iraq may face a similar situation against a foe that merely waiting for the time to fight. The impending departure of the British from southern Iraq could require the attention of the US Army in protecting the main supply route from Kuwait to the north.
The route, a lifeline that carries fuel, food, ammunition and equipment for the war, crosses desert territory that is home to rival militias and criminal gangs. In interviews, Americans stationed in the southern provinces and Pentagon planners say they are closely watching the situation there as the British pass security responsibility to local Iraqi units.

There is little talk of increasing the American troop presence along the major supply route, which links Baghdad and Kuwait and is called M.S.R. Tampa, although officials in Baghdad and Washington say other options include increased patrols by armed surveillance aircraft, attack helicopters and combat jets.

The significant attention being paid to security in southern Iraq came as the senior allied commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, announced plans in Washington this week to reduce American troop presence by five combat brigades across the country by next summer.

General Petraeus, in an interview this week, said he was confident that continued allied and Iraqi patrols along the supply routes, and a growing Iraqi security presence in the south, would guarantee protection of the desert roadways.
The good general's faith in the Iraqi forces is touching but it is not matched by any similar feelings among the locals of that region.
But Iraqis in the Basra region fear that the Iraqi security forces are too heavily infiltrated by the militias to ensure order in the city, a vital oil hub where smuggling, banditry and carjacking have long been a way of life for powerful criminal gangs.

Iraqi policemen in Basra privately concede that they are afraid to confront the militias, who have powerful backing in the religious Shiite parties that run Basra, and that if they arrest criminals they face retribution from powerful tribes and criminal gangs....

....“Since a year ago the British forces started to only worry about their own safety, neglecting the locals’ safety,” said Hakim al-Mayahi, the provincial council member in charge of the security portfolio, on Sept. 2. “The tribes and the locals have better weapons than our security forces, who weren’t provided with more than the usual Kalashnikovs and R.P.G.’s while the tribes even have mortars and heavy machine guns.”
With responsibility for security being given to forces like this consider what needs to be protected.
To keep the war effort going each day requires about 3.3 million gallons of fuel, the equivalent of filling the tanks of 150,000 automobiles, as well as enough food to serve 780,000 meals, according to statistics at the Third Army headquarters.

Although far more vulnerable to attack by roadside bombs and ambush, land convoys are cheaper than hauling the same volume of goods by air.

In comparison, on any day, the Third Army headquarters launches about 110 airlift missions, moving about 3,200 people and 400 pallets of supplies
In an emergency, airlift could probably supply the basics until a relief could be organized, but with the Army stretched to the max who would be available to go to their relief? And if Cheney gets his way and attacks Iran? With an administration that has done its damnedest to destroy the Army and Marines, shouldn't we be expecting the worst? And no, Blackwater and KBR won't be riding to the rescue, at least not until they renegotiate their contracts sharply upward. The only real solution is to redeploy forces southward, including all the 'penny packet' outposts in the cities, and prepare for the eventual pullout while the Army can still control events in their AO's.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The enemy of our enemy doesn't like us either.

Just last month, ABC News, the BBC and NHK commissioned a poll of Iraqis and it is safe to say there were no surprises in the results.
among a random national sample of 2,212 Iraqis, 72 percent in Anbar expressed no confidence whatsoever in United States forces. Seventy-six percent said the United States should withdraw now — up from 49 percent when we polled there in March, and far above the national average.

Withdrawal timetable aside, every Anbar respondent in our survey opposed the presence of American forces in Iraq — 69 percent “strongly” so. Every Anbar respondent called attacks on coalition forces “acceptable,” far more than anywhere else in the country. All called the United States-led invasion wrong, including 68 percent who called it “absolutely wrong.”
And Georgie said Anbar was a success.

Up yours, McCain!

From the good people at

Quote of the Day

Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most extraordinary wastes in all of American history.
Mark Morford

A lesson in war for deserters and draft dodgers

From Wesley Clark:
Don't ever, ever go to war unless you can describe and create a more desirable end state. And doing so takes a whole lot more than just the use of force.
Failing to learn this lesson results in this.
How tragic it is to see old men who are unwilling to talk to potential adversaries but seem ready to dispatch young people to fight and die.
Sadly, the lessons of any war usually fade faster than the last notes of Taps.

An interesting idea

The Army said Tuesday it will begin testing a composite, nonmetal Humvee utility vehicle that is 900 pounds lighter than its conventional counterpart so it can carry extra armor to better protect soldiers against roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The prototype vehicle’s frame and body is made of nonmetal composites — a combination of fiberglass, balsa wood, foam and carbon reinforcements all held together with resin.

The body of the tan composite prototype has a sandpaper feel. The fenders are pliable and can be easily bent by hand, flipping back into place when released.

“We can put the strength where we need it,”
The extra armor may help to sell this, but bending the fenders won't win a lot of hearts and minds.

First, the Surge and now the Tease

And all in support of the Sleaze in the White House. The Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had started the slow unzip the keep the rubes happy as he does his part of the Washington burlesque.
One day after President Bush announced a limited drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq by next summer, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that it might be possible to reduce U.S. forces there further over the course of next year, down to approximately 100,000 troops by the end of 2008.
The back filling began almost as soon as he spoke those words.
Gates spokesman Geoff Morrell later emphasized that the defense secretary's comments were his "personal views" and did not represent administration policy or a formal military plan.
You see, despite his important position in the administration, he wasn't speaking officially even thogh every news agency was hanging on his every word. And after 6+ years of this crew we should know better than to believe what is said. It is what they do that hurts our country most.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Webb amendment is resurrected

The Democrats in Congress now see this as the best chance of forcing the hand of Our Dear Embattled Leader in his Holy Crusade to kill as many US troops as necessary to keep from admitting the error of his ways. This amendment, which mandates time at home equal to their last deployment, is troop friendly enough for Republicans to support it. And more might do so now that ODEL has shown his willingness to hang the party out to dry to protect his ego. Three more and it could be a winner. There are at least that many Republicans looking at forced retirement in 2008. But as we have seen before, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When voting starts, many fine words are quickly forgotten.

Bill Richardson scores a touchdown

"The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue," Richardson said. "You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush."

"And ordinary life is beginning to return."

Babs must have dropped Li'l Georgie on his head a few times too many because he has the strangest idea of ordinary life. Leila Fadel with the assistance of McClatchy Newspapers special correspondents Sahar Issa, Mohammed al Dulaimy, Laith Hammoudi and Jenan Hussein gets some real life examples of what may become ordinary life in Iraq. Even the most fortunate one has the sort of life that most people would willingly forego.
Muhsin al Ribaawi, 45, a Shiite, lives in Hurriyah, a once-mixed neighborhood in northwest Baghdad that's been devoid of Sunnis since they were forced out in December. The change was good, Ribaawi thinks. He can travel freely through Shiite neighborhoods throughout the capital, though he never ventures into Sunni enclaves. He no longer sees as many bodies dumped on the streets. As a supervisor for roads and bridges in Baghdad, he used to encounter as many as 20 a day. "I'm so happy for that," he said.

Still, life is hardly back to normal. Dirty and disease-ridden, the water that comes from his tap is "terrifying."
How many bottles of Jack Daniels does it take to make a Connecticut born preppy see this as ordinary?

From VoteVets

Joe Galloway has seen this before.

It’s a long journey from now to January 20, 2009, and the blood of many Americans and even more Iraqis will flow freely and stain the hands of those who allow this insane war to continue at the behest of a stubborn, unseeing, unthinking man from Crawford, Texas.
George and every Republican who votes with him have the same blood stained hands.

Quote of the Day

But no amount of smoke could obscure the truth: Mr. Bush has no strategy to end his disastrous war and no strategy for containing the chaos he unleashed.
New York Times editorial

I hope Krugman is wrong

Paul Krugman makes a prediction about what we can expect from America's own "Fifth Column", the Republican Party.
What all this means is that the next president, even as he or she tries to extricate us from Iraq — and prevent the country’s breakup from turning into a regional war — will have to deal with constant sniping from the people who lied us into an unnecessary war, then lost the war they started, but will never, ever, take responsibility for their failures.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

If you're not too busy

Another milestone

More than 1,000 Marines have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a grim milestone reached Sept. 6 with the death of four Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Marines, according to Defense Department statistics.

The four Marines were assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion. They were Cpl. Christopher L. Poole Jr., 22, of Mount Dora, Fla.; Cpl. Bryan J. Scripsick, 22, of Wayne, Okla.; Staff Sgt. John C. Stock, 26, of Longview, Texas; and Sgt. Michael J. Yarbrough, 24, of Malvern, Ark.
One more shining moment in Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Legacy

The Petraeus Bump

For Our Dear Embattled Leader is not what is was prepped to be. CNN had this headline today.
Poll: Bush approval holds at 36 percent

Tom Toles Today

Toles has the knack for explaining difficult problems clearly and succinctly.

Rest in Peace

2 G.I.’s, Skeptical but Loyal, Die in a Truck Crash in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 — “Engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act,” the seven soldiers wrote of the war they had seen in Iraq.

They were referring to the ordeals of Iraqi citizens, trying to go about their lives with death and suffering all around them. But sadly, although they did not know it at the time, they might almost have been referring to themselves.

Two of the soldiers who wrote of their pessimism about the war in an Op-Ed article that appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 19 were killed in Baghdad on Monday. They were not killed in combat, nor on a daring mission. They died when the five-ton cargo truck in which they were riding overturned.

The victims, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26, and Sgt. Omar Mora, 28, were among the authors of “The War as We Saw It,” in which they expressed doubts about reports of progress.

“As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day,” the soldiers wrote.

Sergeant Gray’s mother, Karen Gray, said by telephone on Wednesday from Ismay, Mont., where Yance grew up, “My son was a soldier in his heart from the age of 5,” and she added, “He loved what he was doing.”

The sergeant’s father, Richard, said of his son, “But he wasn’t any mindless robot.”

Sergeant Gray leaves a wife, Jessica, and a daughter, Ava, born in April. He is also survived by a brother and a sister.

Sergeant Mora’s mother, Olga Capetillo of Texas City, Tex., told The Daily News in Galveston that her son had grown increasingly gloomy about Iraq. “I told him God is going to take care of him and take him home,” she said.

A native of Ecuador, Sergeant Mora had recently become an American citizen. “He was proud of this country, and he wanted to go over and help,” his stepfather, Robert Capetillo, told The Houston Chronicle. Sergeant Mora leaves a wife, Christa, and a daughter, Jordan, who is 5. Survivors also include a brother and a sister.

While the seven soldiers were composing their article, one of them, Staff Sgt. Jeremy A. Murphy, was shot in the head. He was flown to a military hospital in the United States and is expected to survive. The other authors were Buddhika Jayamaha, an Army specialist, and Sgts. Wesley D. Smith, Jeremy Roebuck and Edward Sandmeier.

“We need not talk about our morale,” they wrote in closing. “As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Quote of the Day

to say that you don't know when a war is going to end doesn't mean that you don't think it's going to end.
Tony Snow, proving that this administration has done more to keep Tinker Bell alive than any Democrat, ever.

Chris Dodd has a good idea

The janitors hate ideas like this because it means a bunch of pee stains on the Senate seats and floor to clean up after the vote.

A small price

Just what you can expect from a big prick, figuratively speaking.

Leave it to MoDo

To discover that, as a youngster, General Betrayus was known as "Peaches".

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nope, not safer yet

But the safety of America is not the reason why we are in Iraq. That is still a state secret.

Warren Stroebel of McClatchy has a good rundown of the important points today.

Quote of the Day

The next six months in Iraq are crucial -- and always will be.
Eugene Robinson, explaining how Our Dear Embattled Leader needs Tom Friedman, inventor of the Friedman Unit, almost as much as he needs Osama

"Bush has found his exit strategy,"

That quote from Kenneth Pollack in todays LA Times shows that even the right wing press organizations have finally figured out what is going on. Or to use the words of Paul Richter,
The talk in Washington on Monday was all about troop reductions, yet it also brought into sharp focus President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.

The plans outlined by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, would retain a large force in the country -- perhaps more than 100,000 troops -- when the time comes for Bush to move out of the White House in January 2009.

The plans also would allow Bush to live up to his pledge to the defining mission of his presidency, and perhaps to improve his chances for a decent legacy. He can say he left office pursuing a strategy that was having at least some success in suppressing violence, a claim that some historians may view sympathetically.
That last bit may require a heavy endowment to George's post White House Thimk Tank. In the meantime we are treated to the same tired old patter, gussied up with some ribbons and paint, as Betrayus and Crock call for more American deaths in Iraq.

A simple question

Among all the memorial presentations and retrospections today, the 11th day of September, will any show Our Dear Embattled Leader bravely protecting those school children while Osama atacked?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Just 2 more Friedman Units

And we can send home all the extra troops that aren't doing anything except dying. In the meantime the violence is down, except for these people.

- Around noon, a parked car bomb targeted civilians in Al Atifiyah near the ambulances center. Two civilians were killed and 5 were injured. Several ambulances were damaged.

- Around 5 p.m., a roadside exploded at Yousifiyah ( south of Baghdad) killing 2 people and injuring 13 others.

- Police found ( 10 ) unidentified bodies in the following neighborhood in Baghdad : (8) were found in west Baghdad (Karkh bank) ; 2 in Saidiyah, 2 in Bayaa , 2 in Amil , 1 in Risala and 1 in I'laam . While (2) were found in east Baghdad (Risafa bank) ; 1 in Sadr city and 1 in Sleikh .


- Around 10 a.m. a road side bomb targeted an Iraqi army convoy in southern Kirkuk. One civilian was killed and 4 others were injured.


- Around 3.30 p.m., a truck bomb exploded at a village north west of Mosul killing 10 people and injuring 60 others.


- Around 5 p.m., gunmen killed and then burned the body of the manager superviser of finance in Basra city ( north of the city near Basra gate).
Pity, they can't enjoy the increased security.

Coming soon to a Theater of Operations near you

Thanks to Joe at AmericanBlog for this

David sings Georgie's tune

And together with Ambassador Crock, danced the bloody two step as he called for two more Friedman Units to allow for sufficient deaths to keep VP Dickwahd functioning. Perhaps one of the most amusing statistics presented was this.
Petraeus testified that in Baghdad, the number of deaths due to "ethno-sectarian violence" has dropped by 80 percent since December.
As every body else has reported this past week, the death squads have learned to shoot their victims in the front of the head to keep the totals of "ethno-sectarian violence" to a non threatening level. Regardless of what the dynamic duo may say, the deaths, American and Iraqi, will continue because Our Dear Embattled Leader is never going to pull out of Iraq while he is in office.

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