Saturday, September 8, 2007

Veeeerrrry Interesting!

I especially like the sign someone holds up that reads "Nine NEOCON warhawks, ONE true republican"


Friday, September 7, 2007

Quote Of The Day

Who said this:

18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress....there are reasons for optimism....Iraqi security forces are in the fight....Within the next 60 days, six more regular army and six additional Intervention Force battalions will become operational....40 of the 45 existing battalions....are conducting operations on a daily basis....1,100 graduated from the basic policing course and five specialty courses. By early spring, nine academies in Iraq and one in Jordan will be graduating a total of 5,000 police each month.

....Numbers alone cannot convey the full story....there is no shortage of qualified recruits volunteering to join Iraqi security forces....I meet with Iraqi security force leaders every day....I have seen their determination and their desire to assume the full burden of security tasks for Iraq....Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition — and now NATO — support, this trend will continue.

Gen. David Petraeus's September 2004 op-ed in the Washington Post


All Time High

Did you know that troop levels in Iraq are at an all-time high?

That's right. Troops levels will reach 172,000 by Dec. But never fear, after the magical Petraeus report to Congress we'll most certainly have a draw-down such that the escalation is cut by one brigade!

I don't think it's premature to begin thinking about how the Iraqi's and regional players will respond to another Friedman unit being tapped onto the end of the American occupation. I suspect it won't be nice. And of course, there'll always be Iran with which to pick a fight.

It's also not premature to consider an American reaction to an Iraqi insurgent "surge". Could it be that by spring Iraq will be even further in the toilet and that the completely lame duck Bush will advocate more troops be sent to "provide security", or to fight the Iran-American War? Right now, I'd put my money on it.

And where are the Democrats? Congresspeople are spineless. But that's their nature isn't it? But I do suspect the ignoring of the people's will can further increase the chances of a sea-change in politics in 2008. And unlike in the 60's/70's, the activist reaction to a broken system will be not be a youthful protest movement. Rather, it will be a middle-aged netroot revolution that is more effective at recruiting new/young voters and pulling the levers of power (can you say $$$$$) to effect change. And this may be the perfect opening for John Edwards, who is the only half-assed serious candidate for President who is suggesting we get out of Iraq. John, this may be your opportunity ..... go for it!

If my predictions bear out, it's kind of ironic that the further deaths of Americans in Iraq will actually have the effect of promoting freedom in this country. A liberal backlash against the conservatism of the past 30 years would be a major improvement in the American body politic. It's too bad it has to be earned in an ironic roundabout way with so much tragedy and damage to our standing in the rest of the world.


Lather, Rinse, Repeat

A terrific summary by Atrios on the Petraeus report briefing (there'll be no report):

The Democratic leadership will try to put through a crap bill which does nothing but provide political cover for Republicans. Crazy liberals like me will encourage other crazy liberals to vote against it. This will be seen as deeply unserious by serious people, who think that it's very important that there's a bipartisan consensus to let George Bush do whatever he wants.

And we'll be back in another Friedman, another $100 billion, another 500 US troops, etc...
This is why it's important to not lose heart. When a progressive like Darcy Burner can get $120,000 from the netroots at the drop of a hat and lead in the polls in her district, it makes me happy. You see, the change I want to see won't happen overnight. I have to remind myself to be patient. The progressive netroot revolution is in it's infancy, and it will continue to take time to elect more and better Democrats.

In the meantime it's frustrating. But I'll just patiently do my part.


Wanker Of The Decade

If you ever doubted that Christopher Hitchens is a complete asshole, check this out:

The CIA had long thought Chalabi was a liar. His outlandish claims that a liberated Iraq would surely recognize Israel and would welcome permanent US military bases on its land soured Powell and Armitage on him as well. Armitage became to wonder how the INC was spending the millions of dollars that State was funneling to it. When Chalabi was unable to produce receipts, Powell's deputy ordered an audit. While the State Department's Inspectors General, Clark Kent Ervin, was proceeding with the investigatoin, he received a call from a Chalabi friend. 'Would Ervin like to come to dinner at the home of journalist Christopher Hitchens and meet Chalabi?' the caller wanted to know.
Those big tough Republicans were so completely conned by Chalabi that it's not at all funny. And Hitchens was a willing enabler. I wonder what his cut was from Chalabi?

Another interesting aspect is Powell. Given his awareness of the situation, it's make it all the more specious that he went along with supporting Bush in going to Iraq. Gives a little insight into just what is "normal" in Washington.

If I were a military family and prone to lose of temper, I'd be ready to consider violence against Bush.


Politics From Economics

Some of the better political analysis I read comes from a blog on economics.


Here's a couple of links to some great resources. First, this link to Krugman's list of things that Dems need to remember while facing Petraeus next week. (Hint: don't fall for the bullshit). Second, here's a really good link to a list of the Iraq benchmarks, and progress to date on each (hint: progress is zippo).



Today's jobs report was pathetic.

Even with the very optimistic government statistics the economy lost jobs last month. The other day there was a retail sales datapoint that was very good. I suspect that particular report was more of an anomaly and that the economy is significantly slowing.

Added: I didn't notice this, but the new report also revised June and July employment significantly downward too. All in all, this report on jobs was disturbing.


Here Comes That Bone!

Gen. David Petraeus, who delivers a much-anticipated report on progress in the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq next week, indicated to President Bush a willingness to consider the drawdown of 3,500 to 4,500 U.S. troops (WashPost) by early next year. Petraeus may also be willing to consider further reductions, based on conditions on the ground, military and administration officials told multiple U.S. news sources.
Told ya.


Taking It Back

Just when it all seems hopeless a little ray of sunshine peeks through. Go read the whole article at Alternet. It's good.

How can we change laws regulating corporate behavior when corporations dominate the political process? The answer is that change begins with the people, not their government. It always has. Civil society organizations and communities can align their interests to produce a wave that government leaders must either surf upon or drown within.
The people control the vital issue of legitimacy, and no system can long stand that loses its legitimacy, as fallen despots of the 20th century have demonstrated. Corporations have already lost much of their moral legitimacy. Business Week in 2002 found that more than four out of five people believed corporations were too powerful. A national poll by Lake, Snell, Perry, and Mermin two years ago concluded that over three-quarters of Americans distrust CEOs and blame them for the loss of jobs. An international poll by Globe Scan recently found corporations far behind NGOs in public trust.

Trigger events lie ahead that will create further openings for change. We can expect to see new global warming catastrophes, unaffordable energy price spikes, and new corporate scandals. We can capitalize on these openings if we can help people connect the dots--making the link, for example, between excessive CEO pay, companies' short-term focus, and the inability of the private sector to manage long-term problems like the energy crisis and global warming.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Al Qaeda In Iraq

Andrew Tilghman has written a nice piece about the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda asking the question, just how big of a problem are they? He does a fine job documenting the evidence and reaches a conclusion.

The short version? The Bushies are ginning up al Qaeda like they always have and that al Qaeda, while a concern, is a very small part of the Iraqi problem.


It's That Time Again!

The first grapes are in ... Pinot Noir ... 275 lbs of em' .... now journeying their way from sweet fruit into delicious wine!


In A Nutshell

A commentor at Josh's site sums it up:

I'm surprised there hasn't been more commentary in the press and blogosphere regarding the fact that, in simplest terms, whatever "progress" we are making in Iraq is a function of the fact that we have switched sides. I don't think the U.S. public, or even the media, are really grasping the fact that we are fighting for Saddam's people now, and the Shia are rapidly becoming the primary target (along with the mystical "Al Queda"). The silence on the topic is a little eerie.
Juan Cole has a guest post by a former Ambassador on the same subject expanding on this comment. And yesterday, I speculated that this is part of an expanding strategy against Iran.


Front Or Back?

More of the selective Pentagon statistics. If an Iraqi individual is shot in the back of the head, it's sectarian violence. If they are shot in the front of the head, it's criminal.

I kid you not.


Carrier Groups

Remember those aircraft carrier groups stationed in the Persian Gulf? It was widely assumed that you would need three to attack Iran. The Pentagon insisted that there would only be three in the Gulf for a brief time, one replacing another. The news reports I've read said exactly that.

Until today.

Barnett Rubin who broke the story about plans for the U.S. to attack Iran says there are three carrier groups still in the Gulf.

Is this true?


I Think I'm Gonna Puke

WaPo has a story today detailing the impending cave-in of Democrats on Iraq:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 — With a mixed picture emerging about progress in Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders are showing a new openness to compromise as they try to attract Republican support for forcing at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.

After short-circuiting consideration of votes on some bipartisan proposals on Iraq before the August break, senior Democrats now say they are willing to rethink their push to establish a withdrawal deadline of next spring if doing so will attract the 60 Senate votes needed to prevail.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said, “If we have to make the spring part a goal, rather than something that is binding, and if that is able to produce some additional votes to get us over the filibuster, my own inclination would be to consider that.”

Look at how the media has eaten the "mixed results" meme floated by the administration. By every reliable measure, the results of the escalation in Iraq are anything but "mixed".

Where have Democrats been lately in shooting down this nonsense? Many in the media have actually done a reasonable job in covering the plethora of reports showing that Iraq is a bigger mess than before. Yet where is Pelosi or Reid or any leading Democrats (other than John Edwards) when it comes to amplifying the message?


I'm not really surprised. Legislators legislate. And to do so in this case requires the sixty votes and ass-kissing some Republicans. Yet politically this is an awful move. And from a policy perspective they're simply going to take a few bones thrown their way (we'll have 5,000 troops home for Christmas!!!!) that they would have gotten no matter what they did. The war will continue indefinately and the Bush administrations contempt for Congress will be validated.


A Must Buy?

This could be one of those must buy items, although I'm unclear how my dogs would deal with it.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Who's The Idiot?

Several media types have taken liberties with describing the filthy dirty hippies of the internets and their illiterate nature. Kevin put together an interesting list to show us all the truth:

Josh Marshall: Princeton, Brown PhD

Markos Moulitsas: Northern Illinois University, Boston University Law

Ezra Klein: UCLA

Duncan Black: Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Brown PhD

John Aravosis: University of Illinois, UParis, Georgetown Law

Jeralyn Merritt: UMichigan, UDenver Law

Matt Yglesias: Harvard

Arianna Huffington: Cambridge

Brad DeLong: Harvard, Harvard PhD

Mark Kleiman: Haverford, Harvard PhD

Glenn Greenwald: George Washington, NYU Law

Jane Hamsher: USC (masters)
Like Drum, I can barely compete only having a Master's from USF. But I did have to read a book or two. I know it's a paltry comparison to High Broderism, but it will have to do.


Kick Butt John

More like this:

Now that another legislative showdown over Iraq is looming, John Edwards is returning to a theme that early on animated his campaign: The insistence that Congress stand its ground against the White House and force an end to the war.

On a conference call just now with reporters, John Edwards reiterated that message, this time in light of the upcoming reports from the White House and General Petraeus. He delivered a simple message: If Congress can't get an Iraq funding bill with withdrawal timetables into law, it shouldn't pass one at all.

"It’s time for Congress to stand its ground," Edwards said on the call, as transcribed by TPM's Eric Kleefeld. "If there’s no timetable, then Congress should not submit a bill."
Damned straight.


Nuke Stage

More info to put in the "we're going to bomb Iran" hopper:

From Larry Johnson's post at Huffington:

Why the hubbub over a B-52 taking off from a B-52 base in Minot, North Dakota and subsequently landing at a B-52 base in Barksdale, Louisiana? That’s like getting excited if you see a postal worker in uniform walking out of a post office. And how does someone watching a B-52 land identify the cruise missiles as nukes? It just does not make sense.

So I called a old friend and retired B-52 pilot and asked him. What he told me offers one compelling case of circumstantial evidence. My buddy, let’s call him Jack D. Ripper, reminded me that the only times you put weapons on a plane is when they are on alert or if you are tasked to move the weapons to a specific site.

Then he told me something I had not heard before.

Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can’t imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

His final point was to observe that someone on the inside obviously leaked the info that the planes were carrying nukes. A B-52 landing at Barksdale is a non-event. A B-52 landing with nukes. That is something else.

Now maybe there is an innocent explanation for this? I can’t think of one. What is certain is that the pilots of this plane did not just make a last minute decision to strap on some nukes and take them for a joy ride. We need some tough questions and clear answers. What the hell is going on? Did someone at Barksdale try to indirectly warn the American people that the Bush Administration is staging nukes for Iran? I don’t know, but it is a question worth asking.
I'm sure it was just a practice mission for some new pilots ... ya know, get a feel of what's it's like to have a reeeeeal crotch rocket!

Update: The White House is saying it was simply an ooops. A pretty good sized oooppps. Do you believe that?


Little Stevie

If you're a Soprano's fan, and you wonder what's happened to "Little" Stevie Van Zandt, check out Bruce's new album and you'll see he's back in the fold. The video cut on Amazon sounds pretty good.

Looks like Stevies trigger finger is workin' wonders on the Fender. But who's minding the Bada Bing?


Another Shoe Drops

Today's employment numbers stink:

Employment in the U.S. private sector grew by 38,000 in August, the weakest in four years, according to the ADP employment report released Wednesday.

The ADP report suggests nonfarm payrolls may have grown much slower than the 120,000 anticipated by economists. See Economic Calendar.

It was the second straight weak reading in the ADP index; July's reading was revised lower to 41,000 from 48,000 initially reported.

"A deceleration of employment may be under way," ADP said in a release.


One Plus One

Everyone knows that Bush wants to bomb Iran into the stone age. And everyone also knows that the army has been making nice with Sunni's in Iraq to counter "al Qaeda". What's that add up to?

If/when Bush attacks Iran, he's going to have a bit of a problem with Iraqi Shiites at the back door who are sympathetic to Iran.

So, if one plus one still equals two, could it be that the Sunni tactics are part of an overall strategy to return them to power in Iraq as a bulwark to Iran? It's really the strategy that makes most sense given the regional loyalties (can you say Saudi Arabia?) and the overarching need to protect Israel.

If so, Bush is on the verge of throwing more gasoline on top of the civil war flames in Iraq, with American troops still caught in the middle. Well, not the middle. Afterall, at that point we're on the Sunni side fighting the vast majority of the Iraq population.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I'm feeling a bunch of it.

The upcoming Petraeus report (written by the White House) is one of those events where you pretty much know the outcome before it starts. Kos has a great post up about it:

Despite the GAO report detailing the abject failure of the Republican's Iraq strategy, did anyone really think September was going to bring more than the same bullshit? The White House Petraeus report will take all about the Success(!) we're having, and do so by refusing to count all the dead people. Then, all those "moderate" Republicans who have been supposedly antsy about Iraq will declare that they're all still antsy, but willing to wait until the Magical Spring to make things happen.

The Very. Serious. People. in DC will furrow their brows and talk gravely about how all "responsible" people agree that sending other families' kids to die in Iraq is the "right" thing to do since it's the best way to protect their fragile little egos.

Then everyone will have a jolly good time accusing Democrats of hating the troops, at which point Dems can either 1) call bullshit and work to end this thing, or 2) cave, and see their approval ratings sink to low-single digits while sabotaging their electoral chances in 2008.

Either way, the media will buy the "Magical Spring" trope and run with it, not realizing that it would ultimately give way to "Magical Autumn", which would then give way to "Magical Never".
Jeez, I hope he's wrong and fear he's right. The Democrats do not have the votes to pass legislation stopping the war. But they do have enough votes to stop funding the war. But like Kos, I suspect they'll be driven by fear of a public backlash at "not supporting the troops" while being oblivious to the real backlash that will occur if they don't stop the war.

It's all so predictable and depressing. I'm going to try and hold out good thoughts that this time the Dems will do something that is a) right and b) smart.


Insider Revelations

I feel an obligation to point you to Jeffrey Rosen's interview with Jack Goldsmith. It's a quite lengthy ... and revealing expose' of the mendacity of the Bush administration.

If you don't want to read the whole thing, Glenn Greenwald does a nice summary.


Next Week

We in the American public are getting ready for the Petraeus report next week:

Be sure to watch the terminology. "Sectarian violence" is down. Except they don't count car bombings (which have amounted to 2600 this year) which are perpetrated by "insurgents", or Shia on Shia violence which is just a little intra-party squabble. Who knows what other bullshit will be flying around.

It's all so tiresome .......

This report to Congress is going to make Colin Powell's visit to the U.N. look like a man on truth serum.


Standing In Anbar

Bush made his recent pilgrimage to Anbar province right? Here's his view of Anbar:

This time, Bush visited Al-Asad Air Base -- an enormous, heavily fortified American outpost for 10,000 troops that while technically in Anbar Province in fact has a 13-mile perimeter keeping Iraq -- and Iraqis -- at bay. Bush never left the confines of the base, known as " Camp Cupcake," for its relatively luxurious facilities, but nevertheless announced: "When you stand on the ground here in Anbar and hear from the people who live here, you can see what the future of Iraq can look like."
Yeah, I'll bet those camp cupcake residents are highly representative of Anbar province.


The Rollout

Lynne has done a nice job of pointing out the Iran rumors of late below. Here is another source of information .... and these are credible sources. But what about it?

As I've said before, the rhetoric has been ratched up before without attack. The uses of the rhetoric for diplomatic purposes are well known. Yet, Bush is entering his last year soon and I have a feeling he doesn't want to go out leaving Iran as a problem.

Bush will do anything to be "not Clinton", and the Bushies have always felt very strongly that Clinton left the mess in Iraq and North Korea for them to "clean up". Will Bush really leave office with the open question of Iran and nukulur weapons? My gut tells me no. I tend to think that we're going into the real deal with an massive airstrike occurring sometime before the 2008 election. Bush sees it as good leadership, good optics, and good politics. In his eyes, an attack will be a winner for a leader with absolutely nothing to lose*.

One of the sources for this story is a respected Afghanistan watcher, Barnett Rubin. Here's George Packers postscript to his post about the rollout:

Postscript: Barnett Rubin just called me. His source spoke with a neocon think-tanker who corroborated the story of the propaganda campaign and had this to say about it: “I am a Republican. I am a conservative. But I’m not a raging lunatic. This is lunatic.”

*(note, Bush doesn't care what anyone else has to lose, that's the nature of narcissism).


Can You Blame Him?

From Al Gore:

"Modern politics seems to require and reward some capacities that I don’t think I have in abundance... such as a tolerance for... spin rather than an honest discussion of substance. Apparently, it comes easily for some people, but not for me."

-- Al Gore, quoted in Vanity Fair.
Can you really blame him? This is how we end up with the lowest common denominator for governmental leaders. The American voter demands a level of bullshit that is beyond the ability of quality individuals to accept. So we end up with politicians who, at some level, are pretty dysfunctional.

I guess it will continue this way until the body politic heals itself. Afterall, democracy is reflective of the governed. That's why Bush is so disturbing. If I really thought he was an anomaly, I could dismiss him. But he's not. The guy got enough votes despite his obvious incompetence to become President. The next election is key to see if we've learned anything from out collective experiences.



I know I know. It's a little like beating a dead horse. But I think it's important that we all be as well informed as possible to counter the current and ongoing media blitz on just how swell it's going in Anbar province. Here's Juan Cole's detailing of the real details:

Bush made a surprise visit to Al-Anbar Province on Monday, as part of his propaganda drive to get Americans to think we should stay in Iraq because "progress" is being made.

The debate over al-Anbar province is driven by the Bushies' desire to find any 'good news' to grasp at. Indeed, from 2003 forward, their criterion for objective reporting on Iraq was that it gave the 'good news.' When there obviously wasn't any good news, they started ignoring Iraq, as at Fox [Republican TV] Cable News.

Now the 'good news' appears (I swear to God) to be that you can "walk" in Iraq. That's the good news. The 8 billion people in the world walk every day, in most of the world's locales. Now it is an achievement to walk. That's good news of the highest order. Only, if you are American in Fallujah you might need a company of Marines with you so that you can . . . walk. (See below).

Is al-Anbar Province really paradise, as Bush suggested?

Al-Anbar residents killed 20 US troops in July. The total US fatalities in July were 79 according to, and some of those were presumably from accidents, etc. So al-Anbar, despite being reduced to the stone age, managed to kill a fourth or more of all US troops killed in combat in July. Al-Anbar is roughly 1/24 of Iraq by population. So it killed six times more US troops than we would have expected based on its proportion of the Iraqi population.

That's what the Bushies are celebrating, that the deadly al-Anbar has been wrestled down to only killing a fourth of the US troops killed in a month. It used to be more.

In mid-July, There were about 100 violent attacks in a single week in al-Anbar. That's a bright spot. That's progress. Since the year before, there were 400 violent attacks in that same period.

Well, yes, that's a relative improvement. But a hundred violent attacks in a week? That's being touted as good news to be ecstatic over? There were probably on the order of 1100 attacks that week in all of Iraq. So al-Anbar generated nearly one-tenth of all attacks. But it is only 1/24 of Iraq by population, so it is more than twice as dangerous with regard to the number of attacks than you would expect from its small population.

Fallujah, of course, was a trouble spot for the US military. I entertain dark suspicions that Bush had it destroyed for reasons of revenge. The November 2004 US assault damaged 2/3s of the buildings. Tens of thousands of former residents are still refugees.

One of the ways "calm" has been produced in the city is to simply forbid vehicular traffic. Since May, if you wanted to get somewhere in Fallujah, you have had to walk. So when the National Review tells us things are suddenly miraculously "calm" in al-Anbar, this is being produced artificially. Things would be calm in most hot spots if you could ban all forms of locomotion save walking.

The problem with producing calm by banning traffic is that it leaves you with a Somalia level of economic activity. IPS notes,

' Residents say unemployment is above 80 percent. Most of the rest who have some work are government employees. The huge industrial area has been closed by U.S. and Iraqi Army units '

80 percent unemployment? Now that is calm.

"Calm" has also been produced by death squad activity. IPS notes,

' Hundreds of suspected resistance fighters are now held at the Fallujah police station. Many have been killed on the streets; the police speak of finding "unidentified bodies". Several of those found dead had been arrested earlier, eyewitnesses and families of several of the men killed have said.'

So obviously if you round up a lot of young men and hold them without charge, and if you wipe out some others, "calm" is produced.

Another way of producing "calm" is to silence local journalists. Some have been arbitrarily arrested and then let go, with instructions to report the news as the Iraqi police tell them to. So we don't really know much about what is actually happening in Fallujah.

IPS quotes a local Sunni cleric:

' "To say Fallujah is quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets," said Shiek Salim from the Fallujah Scholars' Council. "The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.'

So, all these measures-- banning traffic, rounding up young men, silencing the journalists, etc.-- have at least ended the attacks on US troops, right? Wrong.

It was only last week; I mean, August 28 was not that long ago, but this one is already forgotten:

"BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives in a Sunni Arab mosque in Fallujah yesterday, killing 10 worshipers, including the imam, and shattering what had been a period of relative calm for a region once the most volatile hotbed of Iraq's insurgency."

Now, if ten worshippers were killed in a church just last week in a small US city of 200,000, would Congressmen be flocking there to proclaim how wonderful the security situation was?

Just a month before, a bomber killed two policemen in Fallujah and wounded 11 others.

On July 23, a female suicide bomber killed 7 policemen at a checkpoint in downtown Ramadi.

On July 8, a truck bomb killed 23 persons at a police recruiting center in Haswa, al-Anbar province.

On Monday there was this in Ramadi:

' A suicide car bomb attacked an Iraqi security checkpoint on highway near the city of Ramadi in the western province of Anbar on Monday, killing two security members and wounding three others, a provincial police source said. '
It's all so tiresome to have to continually document the obvious. But in the era when up is down, it's necessary.

More on Petraeus's potemkin villages here and here.


Bush World Tour Continues

This is why the internet is so important. How else would I know that my country is planning to declare war on yet another nation that has done nothing to us, except from reading a British newspaper?

THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert.

Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.

I truly feel like Alice, fallen down into Wonderland. Except it isn't wonderful. It's a nightmare. We're just begging for another 9/11.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Quiet American Style

They say the escalation has successfully "quieted" Anbar province. I guess you could call it that:

Via Firedoglake:

Fallujah is quiet these days. After all the fighting and destruction of 2004, U.S. and Iraqi forces call this success. Many residents are not so sure.

Fallujah, 60km west of Baghdad, produced some of the strongest resistance yet to U.S. forces and their Iraqi collaborators. These forces led two severe assaults on the city, in April and November of 2004. Three-quarters of the city was destroyed, massive numbers of people were killed.

There has been little by way of reconstruction.

The city sees no more of the kind of resistance attacks of old, and no more of the 2004 kind of crackdown. “We are so happy that our city is peaceful and quiet after all the battling that killed thousands of our citizens,” a captain in the local police force of Fallujah, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “We can patrol the streets without fear now, and arrest any person that we suspect to be a terrorist.”

There has been a good deal of this, residents say. Hundreds of suspected resistance fighters are now held at the Fallujah police station. Many have been killed on the streets; the police speak of finding “unidentified bodies”.

Several of those found dead had been arrested earlier, eyewitnesses and families of several of the men killed have said.

“This is fascist behaviour that shows the brutality of the Americans and the so-called Iraqi government,” a former member of the Fallujah city council who asked to be referred to as Mahmood told IPS. “Those young guys were executed without any trial. This brutality was not known in our city before this occupation began.”

Journalists inside the city are also quiet after a few of them were arrested and held for several days.


Residents speak of other reasons why the city is relatively quiet.

“But of course the city is quiet,” Rahemm Othman, a high school teacher, told IPS. “They are banning car movement, and that would make it as quiet as the dead. We are being subjected to slow death here, and the world is so happy about it.” The local police and the U.S. military banned car movement in May.


“To say Fallujah is quiet is true, and you can see it in the city streets,” said Shiek Salim from the Fallujah Scholars’ Council. “The city is practically dead, and the dead are quiet.”

One after another, residents spoke of Fallujah finding the quiet of the dead.


But resistance has not died altogether. Five U.S. soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down Aug. 14 near al-Taqaddum airbase on the outskirts of Fallujah.

At least 20 U.S. soldiers were killed in al-Anbar province to the west of Baghdad in July, several of them in Fallujah area. According to the U.S. Department of Defence, 1,257 U.S. soldiers have died in al-Anbar province, more than in any other Iraqi province.
A tactical success!

And a strategic failure.

A poster city for Iraq


A Reminder

Of just exactly why it is that we're still talking about this stupid war:


A Protest With Class

Just go read.

This is a breath of fresh air during a time when racism seems to be growing.


The Deal

Atrios, ever the blogger of few words, summarizes what appears to be the impending "deal":

As we head into the Month Which Everything Changes, here's the basic outline of The Deal:

1) Democrats, to court Republicans, agree to declare a bit of victory ("situation improving...")

2) They compromise on a bill which suggests very strongly that maybe, just maybe, if security conditions "continue to improve" that Bush should consider, if he wants, bringing some troops home. But, you know, nothing that constrains his authority as Supreme Leader to do whatever the hell he wants.

3) Since troop levels can't be sustained, this is in fact what happens beginning April so that by November of 2008, the number of troops in Iraq is just about precisely what it was two years (!) previously, when the awesome surge began.

4) Everyone owns the war now.
Bush is now openly saying that he hopes for enough "success" in Iraq such that the 2008 candidates "get comfortable" with maintaining American troops in Iraq.

Regardless of what the administration is bombarding the media with, this is the situation:

Tactically: The mission in Iraq of increasing security in Iraq has been a success .... everywhere there are concentrated American troops. Thus Baghdad has improved while southern Iraq is worse. American and Iraqi deaths are up from last year with summer being the "quiet" time. Like all occupations and insurgencies, we have and will continue to win every "battle" but lose because of a simple fact. Iraqis insurgent factions are at home, enjoy popular support and can be as patient as necessary. Americans are far from "at home", have no support in Iraq and can easily be bled dry. Tactically, we can only enjoy very limited success for short periods of time.

Strategically: Iraq continues an enormous failure. There is no central political governing authority. The Iraq government is illegitimate, and any American backed government will be immediately illegitimate. There has been no progress on solving the divisive issues. Strategically, Iraq continues to deteriorate.

Like it or not, those are the facts. No matter what Bush or the media say, it's only a matter of time before we lose. The only thing we can successfully do is cut our losses. The sooner the better. Unfortunately ego and imperialistic thinking are huge obstacles to preventing a long drawn out continuing quaqmire.

Update: One of the reasons that violence is down inside Baghdad is because the Shiites have won in the battle of ethnic cleansing.

Update: More on the new Iraq.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

More Like This



Tastes Like Chicken

MMMMMmmmmm. Finger lickin' good.



This is just how stupid your President is:

Via Kevin Drum, an excerpt of an "inside" interview with the idiot in chief:

First, Mr. Bush said, "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." With assets that have been estimated as high as nearly $21 million, Mr. Bush added, "I don't know what my dad gets — it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."

Then he said, "We'll have a nice place in Dallas," where he will be running what he called "a fantastic Freedom Institute" promoting democracy around the world. But he added, "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."
Yep, them 'ol coffers need replenishing alright. Afterall, how can you continue the Bush legacy without making tens of millions yourself? And the Freedom Institute? I'm sure he'll find plenty of corporate sponsors for his endeavors like Smith and Wesson, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Halliburton. They love them some Bush freedom.


Ethics On Stereoids

That's what it takes if you're in the Iraqi government:

State Department investigators in Iraq have concluded that the government of Nouri al-Maliki is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anti-corruption laws. The investigators also say that corrupt civil servants with connections to the government are seen as untouchable, and that employees of Iraq's watchdog Commission on Public Integrity have been murdered in the line of duty.

. . . The State Department investigation found that Iraqi ministries routinely refuse to cooperate with Iraq's Commission on Public Integrity, and the watchdog agency's investigators are often unable to enter government offices because they don't have enough firepower to defend themselves.


Slow Motion Coup

The slow motion, very public, coup to install Allawi and remove Maliki continues apace.

I'm sure installing a torturer as an openly American puppet will do quite a lot of stem terrorism and improve America's image abroad. Too bad they killed Saddaam ... we know he can do the job.


The Real Bush

This is it:

The NYT fronts word that a Texan journalist has scored something of a coup: a series of unusually intimate interviews with George Bush, during which the president chomped on an unlit cigar and swatted flies while daydreaming about his impending retirement.
After retirement, that picture will include a Budweiser too.


The Other War

Without comment:

The New York Times leads with word from southern Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters have driven government troops out of a key strategic area within striking distance of Kandahar.

A year ago, Canadian and American troops drove hundreds of Taliban fighters out of the Panjwai and Zhare districts southwest of Kandahar. In the last six weeks, though, insurgents have reclaimed control of a broad tract of the region, highlighting a bloody stalemate that is emerging across the country: Insurgents are no match for NATO troops in a pitched battle but can easily overpower or intimidate local police forces once Western soldiers leave. Officials in southern provinces said the Taliban's successes came as the group gained broader support, evolving from a close-knit ideological movement into a looser alliance of tribes disenchanted with the central government.