Saturday, June 2, 2007

Here We Go Again

Big plot uncovered in New York to blow up the world!!!! Time for new logo's on cable news, Bush to mention al Qaeda about fifty times, fear to strike the hearts of all!!!

I'm gonna predict right now that when the details are known, these were a bunch of losers with a lot of beer talk, few resources and weren't even close to really doing anything.


It's the Economy Stupid

This is part of next week's news:

FBI officials said a new report, due to be released Monday, will show an increase of about 1.3 percent in violent crimes, including a 6 percent hike in robberies and a lesser increase in homicides. Competing explanations include escalating gang violence and an increase in the juvenile population. Much of the new crime was focused in urban areas; the Post off-leads with news that the Washington D.C. violent-crime rates spiked by nearly 9 percent last year.
It's quite simple. Overlay crime rates with real wage growth and employment and you'll find a distinct correlation.

Despite the headlines, the economy has not been stellar for most people. High paying jobs are being replaced with low paying service jobs, depressing real wages. Spending has been good, but done on borrowed money. The rich have definitely benefited, but that's a very small portion of the economy. It's not surprising that crime statistics will show an increase in crime as the economy continues to slide.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Read It and Weep .... Literally

Via Atrios:

U.S. officials tell ABC News that the troop levels in Iraq cannot be maintained at the present level, either politically or practically, with the military stretched so thin.

But that does not imply an immediate drawdown. Officials tell ABC's Martha Raddatz the senior commanders in Iraq -- Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno and Gen. David Petraeus -- want the surge to continue until at least December, and expect to report enough progress by September to justify the extension.

The drawdown would begin in February 2008, although each of the two generals supports a slightly different plan.

Plan one, which officials say is being pushed by Odierno, calls for a reduction in troops from roughly 150,000 today to 100,000 by December of 2008.

Petraeus champions a slightly different approach that would be to cut the troops down to roughly 130,000 by the end of 2008, with further reductions the following year.
Rolling Stones:
You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown.
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown
Update: From Firedoglake:
Iraq's president [Talabani] tells ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" this Sunday that Iraqi forces can take over, but not any time soon. When asked when the Iraqi army will be ready to defend its country, Jalal Talabani said, "I think the end of the next year." But officials have serious doubts about that statement.
Of course Talabani has been saying this exact same estimate for years.
2 years ago, Talabani said:

[T]wo years should be enough time for Iraqi forces to rebuild and secure control of the country as well as take over the job currently being performed by some 140,000 U.S. troops.
A few months ago we abandoned trying to train Iraqi's, moving to the escalation to pacify Baghdad. Now we're back to training Iraqi's again.

Have you noticed the change? On the teevee, in the news, the focus has shifted from pressure to get out to "signs of improvement" and "need to stay past September", all right on cue. It's all so patently obvious and predictable. But the media just plays the stenographer and repeats what they are told without any context or skepticism.

I repeat:
You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown.
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown
Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown


"Don't Worry .....

.... about Siegelman, the girls will take care of him."

That's what a political operative told the governor of Alabama who had just unseated Siegelman in a run for the governorship during a highly contested close election. The "girls" refers to the operatives wife and another U.S. Federal prosecutor.

Why was he so confident that "the girls" would take care of Siegelman?

At the moment, the state's former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.

Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove "had spoken with the Department of Justice" about "pursuing" Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.
And just what did the girls dig up on Siegelman?
Siegelman was convicted of appointing Scrushy [also indicted] to a hospital regulatory board in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to a campaign for a state lottery to fund education. Defense lawyers have argued that Siegelman drew no personal financial benefit from Scrushy's donation to the lottery campaign, and they note that Scrushy had served on the hospital regulatory board under three previous governors, before Siegelman reappointed him. The reappointment, they have argued, offered little of value to Scrushy except more work.
Everything. Absolutely everything that Karl Rove touches turns to shit. Everything.

Update: Here's another case, very similar to this one. The conviction was thrown out on appeal.


Bonus Quote

President Bush met with a woman who's son was killed in Iraq. When she asked what the mission was in Iraq (and he couldn't answer), she said she was now on a mission to bring the troops home.

Later, Bush gave her a Presidential coin and said:

'Don't go sell it on eBay'.
Class act that guy.


It Was .....

It was 40 years ago today ........

Added (h/t TalkLeft), The Fab Four:


Media Savy

Republican Wayne Allard will never be accused of being media savy:

According to Colorado Confidential, Sen. Wayne Allard's (R-CO) press office made a rather significant mistake in a press release sent out to commend first responders.

The problem was with the third paragraph:

"First responders in Colorado have recently provided critical services in the face of blizzards and tornados," added Allard. "Since I don’t think first responders have really done anything significant in comparison to their counterparts who have dealt with real natural disasters, I have no idea what else to say here…"

The press release was corrected and resent 19 minutes later.
Methinks a staffer is now out looking for a job.


Tit For Tat

TEHRAN, May 31 (Reuters) - Rebels killed in clashes with Iranian forces this week had recently infiltrated border areas of the Islamic Republic carrying U.S.-made arms, an Iranian commander was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Ten rebels and seven Iranian border guards were killed in clashes in a northwestern area close to Turkey, according to Iranian media reports on Wednesday and Thursday.

"The weapons ... included M16 weapons which are being provided through channels linked to forces present in the region," General Rastegar-Panah, identified only with his last name, told state radio.

The report referred to "American-made weaponry and arms".
I'm sure it's just an Iranian propoganda routine. Bush would never do something like this.


A Coup?

Remember how I posted awhile back about all the ministers of Iraq who are going to be out of Iraq at the same time? Add this to the mix:

Iraqi PM al-Maliki told Lara Logan of CBS Evening News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that he has a real fear of a coup by the Iraqi army.

Al-Maliki said that some of the officer corps have been creating problems and even violating the security of military operations. He stated, "I'm not afraid, but I have to watch the army, because those still loyal to the previous regime may start planning coups. Those people don't believe in democracy, and for that reason we are monitoring the status of the army very closely."
It certainly wouldn't be a shock.

Meanwhile, the Friedman Generator keeps on chunking along.


Quotes of the Day

Charlie Pierce on Fred "cornpon" Thompson. After noting his qualifications for government (hint: zip):

Therefore, all of the earnest speculation about his manly-man appeal to the base is based on how much utter bulls**t the man can sling between now and the first primary. He's a performance piece, nothing more. There isn't an ounce of authenticity to him that isn't storebought. He actually is the complete fake that the Cool Kids pretended Al Gore was in 2000. He's even from Tennessee and, it is said, he once dated cute li'l Maggie Carlson, the chipmunk-cheeked lightweight in the moonman glasses who once famously thought Gore was talkin' too smart for the likes of her vaporous self.
I would personally be willing to purchase, for viewing, a copy of the DVD "A Face in the Crowd" for every Washington reporter and pundit. They need to see it, savior it, and maybe even learn something.


GDP Update

Barry explains why GDP (I posted about it previously) is worse than the headline number (those headlines again):

Yesterday we learned that in Q1 2007, the economy expanded at the near zero growth pace of 0.15%. That's practically flatlined. This was the worst reading since a 0.2% increase in Q4 of 2002.

What's that, you ask? In the media, GDP was reported at 0.6% you say? Um, no -- that's the annualized rate -- take Q1 GDP and go mulitple it 4X and THAT's how you get to a still pitiful 0.6%.
Add in inflation, and the GDP number shows we're already in a recession.


Contagious ... Media?

I'm always suspicious of headlines. Always.

When the news was trumpeting the idiocy and selfishness of the guy with tuberculosis, I was immediately on guard and wondering about the rest of the story. Well, it turns out that this guy is no ignorant dolt, but rather an personal injury attorney. And now this:

In an interview with ABC News, Speaker asked for forgiveness for exposing airline passengers, but says he has a tape recording of a meeting with health officials where they allegedly told him it was all right for him to travel.
Hmmm. Ok. So if they told him he could travel, that kinda let's him off the hook for that decision. Apparently health officials then contacted him in Europe and told him to stay there. He didn't want to get stuck in Europe (he will have to be hospitalized for months), so he then came home. While not the smartest move in the world, it's certainly understandable to not want to be stuck that far from home. And does anyone really doubt that the current administration wouldn't have labeled him a terrorist or something, refusing him entry? In fact, he was flagged to not return, but the system failed to stop him. Digby made the point that his behavior shows American exceptionalism in avoiding health care in Europe. I'm not sure I agree with that, wondering if he just didn't want to get stuck. Why didn't CDC officials, having allowed him to travel, pay for an air ambulance to fly him home and to Denver for treatment? Afterall, they told him he could go.

Once it again, it's looking like the media/headline story was wrong. This guy was portrayed in a quite unflattering light initially. And, also once again, showing that you simply cannot believe much of what goes out over the airwaves. The need to journalistic speed and sensation has ruined their credibility.


Global Idiot

The papers are all tut-tutting this story today about Bush starting a "new" initiative on global warming:

In his announcement, Bush said he wants to hold talks between the world's top 10 to 15 polluters (USAT has a handy chart that lists who they are) to set up what his chief environmental adviser calls "aspirational goals" by the end of 2008. Bush said he would present his proposal at next week's G8 meeting, where it was widely expected that his administration would come under fire for its failure to act on global warming.
This confuses me. And anytime I'm confused by Bush, I'm suspicious. Besides, didn't we already have an international initiative on global warming called Kyoto? Why reinvent yet another wheel?

On the surface this looks like a come-to-Jesus moment. But we all know the idiot king well enough to doubt any sincerity involved in Bush accepting global warming.

Critics are saying this is too little too late. That's likely to be true. I also suspect it's all fluff .... P.R. to deflect criticism at the upcoming G8 summit and that Bush has no intention to do anything about the issue. This is his M.O., lots of bells and whistles and zero substance. Or, put in language even he can understand, "all hat and no cattle".

Update: Froomkin does a very nice "A" "B" comparison of how the U.S. media lapped up the drivel put out by Bush's announcement vs. the more accurate coverage overseas.


Eaten Away

You know how I'm always railing-away about inflation. Here's a tangible measure:

Remember. Gold is a repository of value, i.e. it takes the same amount of gold to buy a car today as it took 20 years ago. But if you want to use dollars to buy a car, go get yourself a wheel barrow.


Barney Bolts

Some Friday humor:

WASHINGTON — In a move that could have devastating political fallout, Barney Bush, First Dog of the Bush Administration, has announced he is leaving the White House, effective immediately.

Funny blog too.



Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."

We really do have a mad man at the helm. Are we really, really stuck with him until January 2009? ThinkProgress has more.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gwen Awful

I saw Gwen Ifill interview Al Gore last night and totally agree with Digby's assessment.

Isn't it funny to continually watch interviewers demonstrate, right on the spot, exactly what Gore is saying in his book?

This volume moves beyond its criticisms of the Bush administration to diagnose the ailing condition of America as a participatory democracy — low voter turnout, rampant voter cynicism, an often ill-informed electorate, political campaigns dominated by 30-second television ads, and an increasingly conglomerate-controlled media landscape
Funny that.


Oversight Oversight

Here's a list of hearings scheduled by Jerod Nadler (D-NY):–

The National Security Agency’s wiretapping program and proposed expansions;
– The erosion of Habeas Corpus through the Military Commissions Act;
– The sanctioning of torture through the Military Commissions Act and other government policies;
– The practice of “extraordinary rendition,” or government sponsored kidnapping;
– PATRIOT Act threats to privacy rights, including the FBI’s abuses of the National Security Letter authority and intrusions into Americans’ “Freedom to Read”;
– Government surveillance of First Amendment-protected activities; and
– The gutting of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Voting Rights Divisions.
That's a good start. But wake me when there are subpoena, impeachments, concept of Congress or something tangible.


Here's a Shock

The CIA is trying to block the publication of Valerie Plame's memoir:

Valerie Wilson, the former Central Intelligence Agency operative at the heart of an investigation that reached into the White House, sued the agency in federal court in New York today over its refusal to allow her to publish a memoir that would discuss how long she worked for it.

Although that information is set out in an unclassified letter to Ms. Wilson that has been published in the Congressional Record, the C.I.A. insists that her dates of service remain classified and may not be mentioned in “Fair Game,” the memoir Ms. Wilson hopes to publish in October.
Here's the info they have their panties twisted about:
The letter was entered into the Congressional Record by Representative Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington, in January 2007. It said that Ms. Wilson had worked for the government since November 9, 1985, for a total of “20 years, 7 days,” including “six years, one month and 29 days of overseas service.”
Let's review. Top government officials "out" her as an undercover CIA agent. But now the CIA won't let her publish a book because of information that is in the public domain already (including now, the NY Times)?

Hmmm. This just doesn't make sense. I'm soooo confused. Why in the world would the Bush administration be wanting to put unreasonable, irrational, roadblocks in the way of Valerie Plame?

Yet another lawsuit against the government for Plame.


Just a Day Out Shopping

A Michael Dukakis moment anyone?


Not Only Does He Have Cancer .....

Glenn Greenwald shows us Freddy and his wife:

And Glenn's caption?:

Social-Christian conservative Fred Thompson, who believes in traditional marriage (he's "pro-traditional-marriage"), is pictured below with his current wife -- 25 years younger than he, 4 years younger than his own daughter -- after the 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner
No comment. The pic speaks for itself .....

Ok, I can't help myself.

I wonder if Freddy has taken his daughter wife to a purity ball? What is it with Republicans and these blondes?

And please, can we stop the media and it's march to describing Thompson as "folksy". Yeah, right:
Thompson, a former senator now starring on "Law & Order," had an un-folksy profession: Washington lobbyist. He represented a British insurance company, Canadian cable television, a savings and loan association, and Westinghouse. ... And, by the way, Thompson's presidential campaign is to be led by Tom Collamore, a former vice president of corporate affairs for the Philip Morris tobacco company.
Folksy like Conneticut frat boy Bush.


Memory Hole

From Atrios, this is a news report from Jan 30, 2007:

Even Republicans supporting President Bush's new Iraq strategy have been saying this is the last chance for the Iraqi government, and there may be an underlying message for the President there as well. US News Political Bulletin hears from GOP strategists with close ties to Capitol Hill that the President and his senior aides are too optimistic about keeping GOP congressional support for the Iraq war over the long term. One senior Republican adviser says Bush has "until April or May" to improve things in Iraq. If he cannot, he could face a GOP rebellion that could result in reductions in spending for the conflict and legislation to start bringing the troops home.
ah huh.

Here's another good one:
AMMAN, Jordan - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country's forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.

"I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007," Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.


More Blogging Attacks

From Editor and Publisher:

NEW YORK: The Associated Press is moving to protect its content by partnering with the technology company Attributor, which will track AP material across the Internet. The arrangement will allow Attributor to "fingerprint" AP copy down to a level where it can be identified anywhere on the Web.

"Our goal is to get a feeling for some of the useful ways to monitor content," said Srinandan Kasi, vice president, general counsel and secretary at the AP. "We are looking at it not just to protect our rights but to derive some intelligence."
They're goal is to charge for content use, plain and simple.


Big Three or Little Three?

James Surowiecki writes a nice column today on why the American automakers are screwed up.

I'll give you a hint as to his conclusion. They're not tanking because of health care costs.


South Kor .... ah ... Iraq

Froomkin does a very nice job today summarizing why Bush's comparison of Iraq to South Korea is wrong:

It's troubling because American troops have been in South Korea for more than 50 years -- while polls show the American public wants them out of Iraq within a year.

It's flawed because in South Korea, unlike Iraq, there's something concrete to defend (the border with North Korea); and because Iraq, unlike South Korea, happens to be in a state of violent civil war.

It's dangerous because the specter of a permanent military presence in Iraq is widely considered to be one of the most inflammatory incitements to Iraq's ever-growing anti-American insurgency, and may even be destabilizing to the entire region.

And it's telling because it gives credence to persistent suspicions that establishing a long-term strategic presence in the Middle East was a primary motivation for this misbegotten war in the first place.
I've got more words to describe it, but I'll be nice and let Froomkin's explanation stand.


Slumping, Not Slumped

Barry has been explaining why the realtor associations and some economists are incorrect about the housing correction. Today, he does it in charts which lead to one inexorable conclusion. The housing slump is far from over and is closer to beginning than ending.

In other economic news, the revised GDP for last quarter stunk, hovering just above the recession level at .6%*. Meanwhile, the Fed continues to say stuff like "inflation is sure stubborn" while reassuring everyone that we will not have a recession. Of course, what else could they say?

In some good news, gasoline imports are up and gasoline stocks are improving (that's good news?) causing gasoline prices to ease a bit. I suspect they'll ease until the fall annual crunch when the excuse is that the refineries have to switch over to heating oil.

But hey, be like the stock market. Party on to new highs!

*Note: If you factor in real inflation, we're already in a recession.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I seem to be seeing a whole bunch of news and blog posts today about Bush wanting to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely .... sorta like Korea or West Germany.


Where have these folks been? We're building a gazillion dollar embassy there, permanent military bases, and show no signs of leaving militarily. It's a neocon wet dream to have American bases in Iraq forever, and has been so stated for years. Is this really news? If so, it goes a long way to explaining the media's participation and willful ignorance of what's actually been happening in Iraq.

Anyone who actually thought it was Bush's plan to "win" and withdraw simply hasn't been paying attention.


Boltin Joe In Iraq

CNN’s Paula Hancocks “talked to Lieberman and reported, ‘He said he was happy with the progress.‘”
Doesn't he look happy?


Lather, Rinse ....

Have you ever seen one of those videos of a bridge that has, due to earthquake or accident, lost part of the roadway? In the video you see cars moving merrily along until all the sudden they disappear over the edge .... and into the water.

Well, this reminds me of that:

As best I can piece it together, Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq ran a sophisticated sting on US troops in Diyala province on Memorial Day, killing 8 GIs. First, they shot down a helicopter with small arms fire. Two servicemen died in the crash. The guerrillas knew that a rescue team would come out to the site. So they planted a roadside bomb that killed the rescuers. And, they knew that yet another rescue team would come out to see what happened to the first. So they planted roadside bombs and destroyed the second team, as well. Altogether 6 rescuers were blown up in this way. The guerrillas run this routine on Iraqi police and troops in the capital all the time. As US troops increasingly take on policing duties, they become vulnerable to the same operations that have wrought such mayhem on Iraqi security forces.
I also read that insurgents are planting IED's with stronger explosive power and burying them under concrete in the roadways. After blowing through concrete the explosives are still strong enough to blow up vehicles.

It's was a very bad day in Iraq yesterday, and a couple of really bad months since the escalation.


Connecting the Dots

Neat blog find: Connecting.the.Dots. His "About Me" reads:

ROBERT STEIN, editor, publisher, media critic and journalism teacher, is a former Chairman of the American Society of Magazine Editors, and author of “Media Power: Who Is Shaping Your Picture of the World?” Before the war in Iraq, he wrote in The New York Times: “I see a generation gap in the debate over going to war in Iraq. Those of us who fought in World War II know there was no instant or easy glory in being part of 'The Greatest Generation,' just as we knew in the 1990s that stock-market booms don’t last forever. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to spare our children and grandchildren from being slaughtered by politicians with a video-game mentality." This is not meant to extol geezer wisdom but suggest that, even in our age of 24/7 hot flashes, something can be said for perspective. The Web is a wide space for spreading news, but it can also be a deep well of collective memory to help us understand today’s world. In olden days, tribes kept village elders around to remind them with which foot to begin the ritual dance. Start the music.


Quiet Day ..... So Far

I haven't had much to write today.

Ok, now pick yourselves up.

I did notice Bush chastizing his conservative buddies on the immigration bill. I guess he's not quite happy with some of the lowest approval ratings ever, now he has to try and find a way to alienate the solid 30% of wacko's who support him no matter what .... except if he let's "them" in.

Also heard Fred "chronic cancer" Thompson is entering the Presidential race, like in July. Many handicap him as a favorite to win the nomination and to make a good run at Pres. I still contend that the country will never elect someone, at least for now, who has the Big "C", no matter what his doctors say. As I've also said, he's getting a pass for now because he's in the shadows. If he comes out and starts to be a contenda, expect the big C to be front/center.


Why I'll Vote Kucinich

Good article over at Democratic Underground:

Dennis Kucinich recently did the unthinkable. He went beyond accusations of Bush’s war being a mistake, to expose the real motivations for the war. Of course, it should have been obvious from almost the beginning that Bush’s motivations for war in Iraq were not at all in accordance with professed American ideals. His claims of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein connections with al Qaeda never had any basis in actual evidence; almost immediately after our invasion of Iraq we moved to protect the oil supply while allowing everything else to go to hell; Bush provided no-bid contracts to his cronies, with little oversight, while billions of dollars went missing; and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report provides numerous recommendations (or maybe ‘demands’ is a better word) on how the Iraqis should handle their oil.

But Kucinich actually says it out loud: The Iraq War was not a “mistake”; the primary motive of the Bush administration for invading Iraq was to provide a cheap source of oil for American oil companies; we are currently trying to force an agreement with Iraq to gain their consent for our “theft” of Iraqi oil; Kucinich calls Bush’s invasion of Iraq what it was – a war crime; and he points out the obvious: How can our current imperialistic stance towards Iraq possibly lead to stabilization of that country or the surrounding area – as we are currently claiming as our primary reason for staying there?


Where Does My Money Go?

War Resisters has a pie chart.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Can't Resist

Pew does a regular poll comparing reported happiness to political party. Consistently, Republicans have polled as being happier than Democrats. This is so even when controlling for wealth.


Allow me to speculate. First, Republicans* tend to see the world in black/white terms. This simplifies life a great deal in that all life situations are view simplistically as either good/bad. Thus all the world's ills can be easily and comfortably categorized accordingly, judged, with solutions at the ready. It's not until they, personally, are faced with a non-manichaen situation that their world get disturbed. Fortunately for them, most of the time they're not in that state and therefore "happy". And even when disturbed, it requires cataclysm to change ideology rather than just a temporary shift .... which is human nature.

I think it may also have to do with denial. Republicans seem to notoriously be able to accept ideology without scrutiny. Thus the ideals that base their dualistic view of the world are easily consumed, integrated and spewed forth without the need to explore, verify or validate. Again, it's not until a personal crisis intrudes that they can be challenged.

This all leads to the famous saying, "a liberal is a conservative who's been to jail". As long as ordinary life bumps along, the oblivion of blind obedience to ideology and ignorance of a world around them makes for a peaceful, almost blissful, existence.

Democrats and liberals on the other hand, by definition of progressivism, are uncomfortable. They are distressed by the world's ills and injustices, even when it doesn't affect them personally (but especially if they're living it). Liberals want change, with the motivating factor being unrest. So of course there's a degree of unhappiness that is always involved as a stimulative force. Note, the poll question doesn't discuss fulfillment but rather happiness. Who would want to maintain the status quo when you think it sucks?

*Of course I'm stereotyping. I realize it doesn't apply to "all" Republicans. But then a poll by definition is an attempt to stereotype.


Waddya Expect?

Is this really any surprise?

TEHRAN, Iran - U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari and two other Iranian-Americans have been “formally charged” with endangering national security and espionage, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.
Given the widespread reports of U.S. covert actions in Iran, do you blame them? I have no idea if these folks are really covert, but who does? And as I've mentioned before, if this were occurring in the U.S. wouldn't the FBI be rounding up "the usual suspects"?


Yelling Into The Void

Patrick Fitzgerald, in his sentencing pleading on the Libby case, is all but screaming and pointing at Cheney as the real bad guy. Given Fitz's integrity and the grand jury rules, methinks Fitzy now knows what it's like to scream under water himself.

I hope the judge takes it into consideration that Libby is taking the hit for Cheney, and sentences him accordingly.


The "S" Word

Democrats are "holding off" on calling for a special prosecutor in the prosecutorgate mess.


They claim they need more than the appearances of wrong-doing.

Am I nuts or what? I think there's a whole lot more than the appearances of wrongdoing. It's a good damned thing that the Congressional Dems aren't firemen or they would ignore a house with billowing smoke coming out the windows.

As I wrote earlier, what's the point of oversight if there are no consequences. The job of Congess isn't to hand over a fati accompli case to a prosecutor, that's the prosecutors job. Give a prosecutor the job, money and time to investigate and let it go where it may. Do you really think that if it was a Democratic President and a Republican Congress in this situation, we wouldn't have a hotel load of special prosecutors running around by now?


Fight Them Here .... Ah ... There

This is so pathetic I find it difficult to even write about despite it being in the news the last two days:

The Iraq war, which for years has drawn militants from around the world, is beginning to export fighters and the tactics they have honed in the insurgency to neighboring countries and beyond, according to American, European and Middle Eastern government officials and interviews with militant leaders in Lebanon, Jordan and London.

. . . Maj. Gen. Achraf Rifi, general director of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon, said in a recent interview that “if any country says it is safe from this, they are putting their heads in the sand.”

Last week, the Lebanese Army found itself in a furious battle against a militant group, Fatah al Islam, whose ranks included as many as 50 veterans of the war in Iraq, according to General Rifi. More than 30 Lebanese soldiers were killed fighting the group at a refugee camp near Tripoli.

. . . In an April 17 report written for the United States government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, said battle-hardened militants from Iraq posed a greater threat to the West than extremists who trained in Afghanistan because Iraq had become a laboratory for urban guerrilla tactics.

“There are some operational parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States,” Mr. Pluchinsky wrote. “More relevant terrorist skills are transferable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe,” he went on, citing the use of safe houses, surveillance, bomb making and mortars.

A top American military official who tracks terrorism in Iraq and the surrounding region, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said: “Do I think in the future the jihad will be fueled from the battlefield of Iraq? Yes. More so than the battlefield of Afghanistan.”

Militants in Iraq are turning out instructional videos and electronic newsletters on the Internet that lay out their playbook for a startling array of techniques, from encryption to booby-trapped bombs to surface-to-air missiles, and those manuals are circulating freely in cyberspace.
Still screaming under water here.


Goalpost Shifting Time

From this mornings LA Times:

WASHINGTON — U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success.

In September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to present Congress with an assessment of progress in Iraq. Military officers in Baghdad and outside advisors working with Petraeus doubt that the three major goals set by U.S. officials for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will be achieved by then.


With overhauls by the central government stalled and with security in Baghdad still a distant goal, Petraeus' advisors hope to focus on smaller achievements that they see as signs of progress, including local deals among Iraq's rival factions to establish areas of peace in some provincial cities.


Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats' skepticism. But some counterinsurgency advisors to Petraeus have said it was never realistic to expect that Iraqis would reach agreement on some of their most divisive issues after just a few months of the American troop buildup.
Never realistic? No shit sherlock. Look for the focus to shift to "local" successes as opposed to reductions in deaths or any sort of real changes.

The military has been sending out these types of signals for some time now. The Pentagon is clearly trying to change the conventional wisdom of focusing on improvement by September. They're on the ground, they know it's not achieveable. The military types are never going to come forward and say, "fogettaboutit, this thing is a loser". Like good soldiers, they'll say it's doable and continue to forge new and improved plan to "win".

As long as policymakers and decisionmakers want to be in Iraq, the military will find justification to be there.

The ball continues to be in the Republicans in Congress's court.

Republican watch continues.

Meanwhile ten soldiers were killed yesterday.

Update: And eight today ..... so far ten so far.


Cheney's End Run

There is a good post about the duplicitious dealings of Cheney, et. al., over at Many Angry Gerbils. (and isn't that a great blog name?)

Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.
This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Sentiment

From Digby of course:

The only thing I know for sure is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are not going to withdraw from Iraq. They are playing a rough game and would rather see the troops die without bullets and body armor than admit in any way that their occupation is a failure. The Democrats remain somewhat paralyzed in the face of such sociopathic intransigence (who believes Cheney won't pull the trigger?) and the media remain unwilling to report this in any but schoolyard terms. So, the country must debate this under water --- and that makes us feel helpless and panicked as we watch more people dying in this useless ridiculous face saving exercise.

I don't know what we can do other than just keep building, building, building the pressure until it's unthinkable for Republicans to win their next election supporting this "war." Making the argument falls mainly on us, the activists and the grassroots --- and we are going to take a beating from the media for our trouble. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll be able to come up for air in 2008.
"So the country must debate this underwater". Doesn't that just sum it all up? I don't know about you, but I often feel that way, as if I'm screaming at someone under water.



How Goes It?

Lara Logan let's us know how it is in Iraq after her return from a six week absence.

Two key points made by Logan.

1). The insurgents are adapting faster.

2). American military folks don't really mind more American's dying because fewer Iraqi's are dying.

Now that's progress!



I read this quote today from Henry Waxman:

Waxman explained that “you must ask the questions” and “you must do the oversight if we’re going to keep people honest, if we’re going to provide the checks and balances that our Constitution envisions.” By pressing forward with the investigation, investigators have revealed a disturbing pattern by Doan to mislead and cover-up her true intent regarding these partisan briefings.
And I agree with Waxman. But my question is this. Investigations usually result in political pressure = accountability. But what happens when political pressure doesn't do anything? In my lifetime, I only recall the occasions of Clinton and Nixon's impeachment where Congress actually implemented a consequence. I suspect there may others, but in general they are rare. Congress, in general, has historically depended on the cooperation of the Executive in bowing to "pressure".

So Waxman and Congress can investigate until the cows come home but I really don't think it's going to result in anything because Bush refuses to have any respect for Congress, voters, and the Constitution. So until Congress actually implements a consequence, i.e. contempt of Congress, impeachment, prejury charges, or the like, isn't it all becoming redundant hot air?


The Pony Search

I keep reading stories like this one today:

[Sessions] indicated Sunday that Republicans will be ready by September to look at bipartisan efforts to draw down the troops that were part of the surge to help secure Baghdad.

"We have to be realistic," Sessions said on CBS's Face the Nation. "We have to know that we can't achieve everything we'd like to achieve. We have a limited number of men and women we can send to Iraq, and we can't overburden them."

The senator added that, when General David Petraeus is reporting back on the progress of the surge in September, "I think most of the people in Congress believe, unless something extraordinary occurs, that we should be on a move to draw those surge numbers down." [...]
Statements like this one made by the very conservative Jeff Sessions are being seen as evidence that "the train has left the station" on trying to tamp down expectations for September.


When has anyone ever held accountable for these types of statements? Is it not totally possible that by September Sessions and McConnell will have different statements reflecting the "progress" in Iraq? I can't believe that anyone, especially liberal bloggers, would believe anything these folks say about the future, particularly if it involves bucking the Preznit.

Foggetaboutit. Come September Petraeus will report progress and all the good Republibots will march to the tune. And even if Pumpkinhead brings up a gotcha quote, it will all simply be whitewashed away .......



This would make for a bad day:

The NYT talks to "more than a dozen" Delta Company soldiers in Iraq and fronts word that most of them are disheartened by their mission, and many feel they're stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of violence that they're powerless to end. Members of the unit say they became particularly disillusioned when they realized members of the Iraqi army that the U.S. military had trained were attacking them.


May 9, 2007

May 9th is the date the United States became a dictatorship.


The War Prayer

Mark Twain's words are, unfortunately, still relevent.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Compare and Contrast

This quote to the post I put up the other day by Spencer Akerman:

“‘In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war,’ said Sergeant First Class David Moore, a self-described ‘conservative Texas Republican’ and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. ‘Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.’”
Update: Within two minutes, I ran across this:
"Before that fight, there were a few true believers." Captain Rogers said. "After the 29th, I don't think you'll find a true believer in this unit. They're paratroopers. There's no question they'll fulfill their mission. But they're fighting now for pride in their unit, professionalism, loyalty to their fellow soldier and chain of command."
Spencer Akerman is no conservative nutbar who's pro-war. He's adamantly anti-war. But his reports of troop morale are in distinct contrast to these two examples.


Murky Blackwater

Isn't it bad enough that American troops are stuck in a crossfire between various factions that make of the anarchy that is Iraq? Now they have to intervene in battles between American contractors and Iraqi government forces?


Worse Treatment Than a Dog

Once again our intrepid government has botched an execution. This time in Ohio:

The execution team stuck Christopher Newton at least 10 times with needles Thursday to insert the shunts where the chemicals are injected.

He died at 11:53 a.m., nearly two hours after the scheduled start of his execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. The process typically takes about 20 minutes.

"What is clear from today's botched execution is that the state doesn't know how to execute people without torturing them to death," American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio attorney Carrie Davis said Thursday.
But here's the kicker:
But Newton, who had insisted on the death penalty as punishment and made no attempt to appeal, chatted and laughed with prison staff throughout the delay. It took so long that the staff paused to allow Newton a bathroom break.
And what caused the delay? Prison officials (in typical form for government these days) blamed Newton who weighs 260 lbs and was a chronic drug user. That's right. It was the victim's fault the government with all of it's abilities and resources was not able to execute and execution effectively.

How in the world can anyone support the death penalty? Setting aside all moral considerations, if the state can't even carry out the execution itself without f#@king it up, how can they be trusted to not execute an innocent guy?


Just a Question

Let's suppose for a moment that you are a soverign country. Let's further suppose that it's reported in the international press that undercover agents have been sent to your country to destroy industries that you value and to undermine your government.

What would you do? What would Bush do if that country was the U.S.?


Protect My Kids

Charlie Pierce has a response to President Bush who famously told David Gregory last week that the only thing standing between Gregory's kids and terrorist was our mighty leader:

Look, sport. I'll take care of my kids. One of the ways I'll do it is to make sure that you and your creepazoid vice-president don't send them off to be killed on the basis of lies, trickeration, and the fact that you never flattened Daddy on the front lawn that night you were sockless. Another of the ways I'll do it is to make sure they fight as hard as they can to recapture the constitutional rights -- and the culture of civil liberties -- to which they are entitled by nature and by nature's god, to make sure they never again have to live under a government staffed by legacy idiots and the products of fourth-rate right-wing diploma mills. The last way I'll do it is to make sure they recognize and appreciate those things about this country that actually are worth fighting for -- most of which you wouldn't recognize if they fell off a shelf onto your head. Protect my kids? Ace, I wouldn't hire you to mow my lawn.


Tale Of The Tape

Within the last several years, the DFH (dirty f@#king hippies) have consistently predicted no end to the war in Iraq. Despite what Pentagon officials, administration officials, and pundits have been saying, the DFH's have been right. One subset prediction was that the "surge" was nothing more than an escalation. From today's headline:

BAGHDAD - Americans have opened nearly 1,000 new graves to bury U.S. troops killed in Iraq since Memorial Day a year ago. The figure is telling — and expected to rise in coming months.

In the period from Memorial Day 2006 through Saturday, 980 soldiers and Marines died in Iraq, compared to 807 deaths in the previous year. And with the Baghdad security operation now 3 1/2 months old, even President Bush has predicted a difficult summer for U.S. forces.
The DFH's were right again ..... unfortunately.

So looking forward, does anyone really think the punditry and it's conventional wisdom is right about the future of the war?

Update: Stories like this are depressing:
Previously, the military arranged to fly the remains of Sonoma County soldiers and Marines killed in Iraq to San Francisco or Oakland, then had the caskets transported the rest of the way home by hearse.

This time, Santa Rosa Mortuary Eggen & Lance Chapel mortician and military veteran Bill Grafe mentioned to a Department of the Army official in Virginia that Schober's remains could be flown directly to Santa Rosa. The official said, "You have an airport?" [Typical, the Pentagon can't figure out where airports are]

Now that the military mortuary service is aware there's a Sonoma County airport, we hope it won't ever again have cause to use it.



Glenn Greenwald has a terrific post about the biggest myth of ending the war in Iraq. He dissects how conservatives have been successful in equating war defunding with an immediate impact on troops, i.e. if war funding stops then in the middle of a battle troops will run out of bullets or someone will come around and take their body armor. Greenwald explains how this is nonsense and gives us the consequences:

So Alter is correct that Americans became convinced that de-funding constitutes troop abandonment. But that does not excuse what the Democrats did here, because the principal reason that Americans became convinced of that myth is because Democrats themselves embraced and propagated it. And now that myth lies cemented at the center of our political debate, and as a result, the most effective Congressional weapon for ending the war -- the one the Founders designed for that purpose -- has become politically radioactive, all based on a ludicrous notion that literally has no basis in reality.
In order for Democrats, and Congress in general, to reclaim their right to stop a war via the power of the purse they will have to re-educate the American public on exactly how it works. And above all, this first begins with discontinuing language that equates funding with supporting the troops.