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December 30, 2006

Meet The New Boss

Snuff film or state-sponsored execution? You decide

If there isn't any other evidence that this execution is a farce and nothing more than revenge killing, then this is it:

The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Peace be upon Mohammed and his holy family.?

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.?

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, whom many believe Mr. Hussein ordered murdered.

“Moktada?? he spat out, mixing sarcasm and disbelief.

Murder as Photo-Op

Jane Hamsher describes my feelings of disgust over the pageantry of Saddam's execution sometime at 10 pm last night. I know it's weird to have this feeling over the death of a truly awful human being, but the thuggery of it all, from the blatant show-trial to the execution itself, doesn't convince me that we are much better than he was.

What's worse, the whole drama over Saddam has been heavily politicized by this war president, from the timing of the verdict to fit with the November election to timing the execution to distract us from the fact that this has been the deadliest month for troops in two years. Josh Marshall sums it up perfectly:

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.

What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?

December 26, 2006

Those Poor Kurds

They just have no idea what to do with their arbitrarily detained and mistreated prisoners:

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — The inmates began their strike with an angry call. “Allahu akbar!? they shouted, 120 voices joining in a cadence punctuated by whoops.

They thrust their arms between the metal bars and ripped away the curtains and plastic sheets covering the windows facing the prison courtyard. Their squinting faces were exposed to light.

Their Kurdish guards gathered, ready to control a prison break. There was no break. The inmates were able only to shove their bunks against the doors and barricade themselves in their cells. They settled into a day of issuing complaints.

They were not allowed the Koran, they said. Their rations were meager and often moldy. Sometimes the guards beat them, they said, and several inmates had disappeared. The entire inmate population had either been denied trials or had been held beyond the terms of their sentences, they said — lost in legal limbo in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq.

The prison strike here, on Dec. 4, ended when the local authorities agreed to transfer three unpopular guards and to allow copies of the Koran in the cells. But it exposed an intractable problem that has accompanied Kurdish cooperation with the United States in Iraq.

The Kurdish prison population has swelled to include at least several hundred suspected insurgents, and yet there is no legal system to sort out their fates. So the inmates wait, a population for which there is no plan.

The Kurdish government that holds the prisoners says they are dangerous, and points out that the population includes men who have attended terrorist or guerrilla training in Iraq or Afghanistan. But it also concedes to being stymied, with a small budget, limited prison space and little legal precedent to look back on.

“We have not had trials for them,? said Brig. Sarkawt Hassan Jalal, the director of security in the Sulaimaniya region. “We have no counterterrorism law, and any law we would pass would not affect them because it would not be retroactive.?

And They Wonder Why Hamas Is In Power

Please, keep giving unconditional support to these people:

JERUSALEM, Dec. 26 — For the first time in 10 years, Israel said Tuesday it will build a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, prompting Palestinian anger and American concern.

The announcement, by the defense ministry and settler groups, seems to run counter to the prevailing effort by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has offered a series of gestures to the Palestinians after a meeting with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, several days ago.

. . .Even before the meeting, Mr. Abbas was being criticized by his political rivals in Hamas, which preaches Israel’s destruction, for carrying out what it calls an Israeli and American agenda with little to show for it.

One Israeli official hinted that the new settlement may be part of a deal with West Bank Jewish settlers to get their tacit acceptance of the removal of illegal settlement outposts there.

Another Israeli official, however, insisted that the settlement was not “new,? exactly, but a revival of a settlement that was approved in 1981 and had become a pre-army school by the mid-1990’s.

The Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, the dovish head of the Labor Party, gave his approval to a promise made by his predecessor — Shaul Mofaz, then of Likud and now of Kadima and the current Transport Minister — that houses would be built on the site of an army base in the northern Jordan Valley to resettle some of the Israelis who were forced to leave settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005, according to a Defense Ministry official.

. . .The new settlement will be called Maskiot, and approval was given for the construction of some 30 houses. The Israeli official insisted that all construction would be privately funded.

They will be used by the 20 families of the hawkish Gaza settlement Shirat Hayam, which resisted evacuation and wanted to move as a group. To get them to leave Gaza peacefully, the army promised to keep them together.

The decision, the official said, “sort of went through and now it’s done and would be very hard to undo.?

They Can't Do Anything

Here's another example of how the U.S. military is woefully unable to do much about Eye-Rack's violence:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - For half an hour last week, mortar rounds rained down on Baghdad's largest Palestinian enclave. Neither Iraqi police at a station nearby nor U.S. troops at a base adjacent to the neighborhood responded.

At the end of the attack, the Palestinians counted their losses: six dead and 29 injured, including a repairman next to the compound's generator, two neighborhood boys with their heads and stomachs split open in the billiards hall, and the bean-seller beside his pushcart who screamed "Save me!" before he died.

Are You Happy Now?

You got your revenge on the A-rabs, any A-rabs, and we've paid double. Once again, I hope all the morans are fucking satisfied.

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9-11 Count

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday.

December 25, 2006

Merry Fucking Christmas

James Brown just died.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

In a small commemoration of his death and the current circumstances, here's the mp3 of "Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto"

Waiting For The Nuhremburg Trial

Atrios (and apparently quite a few other bloggers) strongly disagrees with Kevin Drum's suggestion that Democrats and liberals just sit back and allow the neocon dream in Eye-Rack run its course without interrupting it in any way, lest the warbots blame them for getting in their way of their inevitable victory in that country.

Their criticism are rightly based not only on the immoral calculus of dooming the Iraqi population to years of misery and bloodshed under U.S. occupation and escalation in order to hand liberals a political victory, but also on the fact that the unrepentant warmongers will never admit that they were wrong and will convince the collective limbic system of the next generation of uberpatriot suckers that they were right all along.

But Kevin Drum has history on his side. The latest example is that the Vietnam War was a fiasco which turned a huge majority of the country against it and at first we couldn't leave that quagmire fast enough. Drum says that if the surge fails then the public will reject another rerun of the dolchstosslegende. But we've added several thousand more troops and dropped more bombs in Vietnam than we did in World War II, and we still couldn't break the Vietnamese resistance. Yet one Reagan and three Rambo movies later, the 'Murikan public were still convinced that if we had stayed longer and lost more troops the jungles of Indochina, then we could have prevailed, like we did in Panama, Grenada and Leba - whoops, scratch that last one. But it was those dirty fucking hippies in Congress that got in the way of glorious, glorious victory.

Now this generation has been sold a bill of goods on the shitmire in Eye-Rack, and significant majorities now want out. But don't underestimate the stupidity and fickleness of the American public, especially with the pundits who advocated for the war still not being held to account and the news media that is only too happy to project the latest reich-wing talking point. Keep in mind that we are talking about the same American public where a full 30 percent cannot remember the year 9-11 happened. If that many can forget something as concrete as September 11, 2001, then think how many more will quickly forget the nuances of the Eye-Rack war, why we can't win, and turn on the Democrats if they pull the plug on their illusory victory.

I hate to say it but Mr. Drum is ultimately the right one. Yes it is honorable and courageous to put an end to this madness immediately, but as columnist Paul Krugman has elucidated recently, Democratic pragmatism and good governance will always fall prey to Republican demogoguery, and the latter will never learn their lesson if we keep cleaning up their mistakes. Of course, Krugman is talking about budget deficits, but on the war, the only way the public will wake up if they are, like the Germans and Japanese before them, have come to face the complete failure and defeat and are forced to look upon the atrocities of their own making with their cold dead eyes. Perhaps multiple massacres will be exposed. Perhaps the army will completely break down beyond any spin or coverup. In one form or another this country should see the end result of our folly. I would just want to add some qualifiers to Kevin Drums near-fatalistic solution for the Eye-Rack war that Democrats should not be blind followers. Keep throwing rocks on the lemon and engage in proctological oversight on the war, so that when the Day of Judgement is finally upon us, there will be ample evidence and irrefutable reminding us of our wrongdoing that will rival the Shoah Foundation.

December 24, 2006

"Flip-Flap, Flop-Flip"

That was what John Kerry said on The Daily Show during the Presidential campaign of 2004 when Jon Stewart asked him in an over-the-top, point-blank manner "Have you ever flip-flopped?"

Kerry could have knocked that out of the park, went down the list of how WorstPresidentEver has himself flip-flopped (I was against nation-building before I was for it, I was against the Department of Homeland Security before I was for it, I was against the 9/11 Commission before I was for it, etc, etc.) or he could have explained how contrived convictions is no substitute for good judgement. But he came back with that lame answer. If he didn't come up with a powerful standard response to that ridiculous "flip-flopping" charge that late in the campaign, I knew he was in trouble.

Welp, two years and one shitmire later, Kerry has been somewhat vindicated (remember, he still supported a war in Eye-Rack, just not Bush's war in Eye-Rack) and he has a new "I toldja so!" column in the Washington Post. There he FINALLY puts the smackdown on the discredited "stay the course" logic, but he also highlights an overlooked criticism of Bush's latest strategy:

We have already tried a trimmed-down version of the McCain plan of indefinitely increasing troop levels. We sent 15,000 more troops to Baghdad last summer, and today the escalating civil war is even worse. You could put 100,000 more troops in tomorrow and you're only going to add to the number of casualties until Iraqis sit down together at a bargaining table and compromise. The barrel of a gun can't answer the question of how you force Iraqi nationalism to trump sectarian loyalty.


December 23, 2006

Army STRAWNG! (Part III)

This part of the article about military recruiter's role in getting Boosh the surge that he needed made me want to vomit:

In his six years as an Army recruiter in South Dakota and now in Chicago, Sgt. First Class Roger White has heard his pitch rejected for all kinds of reasons: The job is too dangerous. My parents hate the war. I can make more money working.

But when Sergeant White tried to explain why he trusted that the military could continue to sustain and swell its ranks at a time of war, he said, one story came to mind.

A 39-year-old woman who once worked as a chemical specialist in the Army found herself down and out and living in a women’s shelter, he said. The Army came calling one more time, and she re-enlisted. Now, the woman is back in uniform at her previous job, serving in South Korea.

“It was amazing,? Sergeant White said, “to see how much change we could bring to just this one woman’s life.?

What the fuck? The army failed to help this woman get a job in the real world, and now he's happy bringing her back in the fold of foreign tours, substandard wages and Halliburton chow? I guess it's better than nothing, but if this is the trap the army is going to set for the poor recruits, and this recruiter is happy about it, then the army is in a sorrier state than it's ever been.

Fire The Generals. Fire Them Now.

Recently there was a veritable blogstorm over a Washington Post article where the Joint Chiefs of Staff were unanimous in their opposition to Bush's plan to "surge" the armed forces in Eye-Rack by 30,000 troops. Obviously this creates a cognitive dissonance coming from a man who has repeatedly said he will follow the advice of "the generals". Also, the Army Chief of staff General Shoomaker has advocated that the army needs to grow, but only by 7,000 a year because that is the maximum the armed forces can train and deploy per year.

But all those criticisms are now moot since the yes-mens fucking up the struggle for Eye-Rack have fallen into line with WorstPresidentEver's ill-conceived plan:

Top U.S. military commanders in Eye-Rack have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq. Bush still must address concerns among some Pentagon officials and overcome opposition from Congress, where many Democrats favor a blue-ribbon commission's recommendation for a gradual withdrawal of combat troops.

But the recommendation by the commanders in Iraq is significant because Bush has placed prime importance on their advice. The U.S. command in Iraq decided to recommend an increase of troops several days ago, prior to meetings in Baghdad this week with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the defense official said.

So the plan was recommended by Raymond "mock execution" Odierno? This is gonna go well.

Siding With The Winners

These are who we are trying to benefit when we implement the "80 percent solution":

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 — As the United States debates what to do in Iraq, this country’s Shiite majority has been moving toward its own solution: making the capital its own.

Large portions of Baghdad have become Shiite in recent months, as militias press their fight against Sunni militants deeper into the heart of the capital, displacing thousands of Sunni residents. At least 10 neighborhoods that a year ago were mixed Sunni and Shiite are now almost entirely Shiite, according to residents, American and Iraqi military commanders and local officials.

For the first years of the war, Sunni militants were dominant, forcing Shiites out of neighborhoods and systematically killing bakers, barbers and trash collectors, who were often Shiites. But starting in February, after the bombing of a shrine in the city of Samarra, Shiite militias began to strike back, pushing west from their strongholds and redrawing the sectarian map of the capital, home to a quarter of Iraq’s population.

The Shiite-dominated government publicly condemns violence against Sunnis and says it is trying to stop the militias that carry it out. But the attacks have continued unabated, and Sunnis have grown suspicious.

Plans for a new bridge that would bypass a violent Sunni area in the east, and a proposal for land handouts in towns around Baghdad that would bring Shiites into what are now Sunni strongholds underscored these concerns.

Sunni political control in Baghdad is all but nonexistent: Of the 51 members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city’s services, just one is Sunni.

The first sentence in the bolded paragraph is entirely fatuous. The second sentence is a gross understatement, as we shall see:

A college student with a Sunni name said he hid in his house, as Shiite militiamen went into homes on his block in late September and marched people away. A few days later, his uncle, a 35-year-old refrigerator repairman, was taken. The body was found in Ur, a Shiite stronghold in north Baghdad.

But unlike a bomb blast, where everybody remembers how someone died, the Sunnis’ losses seems to melt away. The Mahdi Army-controlled police station had no record of them.

Terrified, the men of the family scattered, settling on couches and in a garage of friends and family.

The student, Omar, is keeping a diary.

“One day I’ll be a teacher,? he said. “I should teach children what we passed through.?

I hope you're happy, all you warbots.

December 22, 2006

At Least They Have Their Trust Funds

Via Kevin Drum we learn that Republicans have deep-sixed Nancy Pelosi's plan to give two month's severance to the soon-to-be-unemployed Republican staff members:

As the old Congress wound down in a scramble of post-election activity, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered to pay two months’ severance to staff members working on some committees and in House leadership offices. But her offer was scuttled — by Republican lawmakers, who complained they didn’t have the opportunity to study the proposal and look at costs.

Welp, those staffers helped make the bed of the Worst Congress Ever, so they should sleep in it. But the thing that should gall the staffers is that their former bosses are the same losers now complaining that they don't have time to read a proposal, but who have made introducing bills for a floor vote with only one day at most to examine it a congressional standard, the most famous being the Patriot Act.

"Birth Pangs" Expecting Twins

As Garance Franke-Ruta says over at TAPPED, the Bushies aren't content with husbanding one civil war in Eye-Rack. Now the Crusader Zionists insists on inserting itself in a possible civil war between Fatah and Hamas, namely in the camp of Mahmoud Abbas:

The Chronicle has obtained a training manual distributed to officers of the Al-Haras Al-Rayassi, Abbas' Presidential Guard, during a two-week course held in Jericho earlier this year at which the chief instructor introduced himself as a U.S. Secret Service officer who served during the Reagan administration. The manual, titled "Advanced Protective Operations Seminar," is emblazoned with the logo of the Counterterrorism Training Group, which includes the U.S. government seal.

Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth after news of the training sessions leaked out that since Iran is helping arm and fund Hamas political and military activities, the United States wants to prevent "moderate forces" in the Palestinian territories from being eliminated.

"We are involved in building up the Presidential Guard, instructing it, assisting it to build itself up and giving them ideas. We are not training the forces to confront Hamas," Dayton told Yedioth. "Hamas is receiving money and arms from Iran and possibly Syria, and we must make sure that the moderate forces will not be erased," Dayton said....

Great. When Yasser Arafat died and removed an "obstacle to peace", the United States did nothing to support the new government headed by Abbas outside paying it lip service. Sharon decided to unilaterally pull out of Gaza without coordinating with the PA, making it look weak and allowing outside terror groups like Hamas to claim credit for the withdrawal. That later led to the election that put Haniyeh and Hamas into power. And now this country suddenly decides to support Fatah, but only as a proxy in a civil war? Good lord.

"They Do The Jobs Americans Won't"

I'm not the type of immigration hawk who want to cart all illegal immigrants out of the country in cattle cars, but still, let's cut the bullshit about immigration reform. Americans are willing to work for a decent wage; allowing foreigners to flood the labor force does not help indigenous Americans get those wages. Companies that continue to get away with paying poverty wages by hiring those who can be intimidated with deportation should be punished swiftly.

Loss for one is another's gain

Applicants line up to fill jobs left empty by Swift plant raid

By Fernando Quintero, Rocky Mountain News
December 15, 2006

GREELEY - The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.

Among them was Derrick Stegall, who carefully filled out paperwork he hoped would get him an interview and eventually land him a job as a slaughterer. Two of his friends had been taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and he felt compelled to fill their rubber boots.

"Luckily, they had no wives or family they left behind. But it was still sad. They left their apartments filled with all their stuff. I took two dogs one of them had. The other guy had a cat I gave to my sister," he said.

Greg Bonifacio heard about the job openings on television and brought his passport, his Colorado driver's license, his Social Security card and even a color photograph of himself as a young Naval officer to prove his military service.

"I don't want to hassle with any identification problems because of my last name," said Bonifacio, a 59- year-old Thornton resident of Filipino heritage.

As it turned out, the Colorado Workforce office that was taking applications did not require any identification.

That would come later for those who made it past the interview process.

Bonifacio was hoping to get a job in production or fabrication. So was Nathan Korgan, a former construction worker whose company closed and moved to California.

"I feel bad for the kids, but good for me," said Korgan of Tuesday's raid.

Asking Too Much Of Our Country

There are many reasons not to support the "surge" of 30,000 troops to Eye-Rack, like the fear of finally provoking a Shiite insurgency against our troops (would you like having 60 percent of the population against you? We already have enough trouble controlling the 20 percent Sunnis) the fact that it would stretch our already broken military even further, and the fact that it further ignores the silent disaster happening in Afghanistan. But liberal hawk turned unhappy customer Fred Kaplan at the Slate elaborates on what surge proponent John McCain has already said: it's just not gonna happen, namely because we are a nation of pant-pissing chickenhawks:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, when Bush was at peak popularity, and when the country was experiencing a surge of patriotism, Congress passed a bill expanding the size of the Army by 30,000 troops. Five years later, the Army has actually expanded by just 23,000 troops. It's still 7,000 troops short of that target. How does Kagan expect to attract 30,000 more in just one year, much less to do so two years in a row?

There are a lot of other logistical headscratchers Kaplan points out, like how the Army can now only recruit, train, equip and send off only 7,000 soldiers a year despite the need to expand the army by 30,000. But hey, why do we need logic when we can always wish for more ponies?

Update: Oh, right, THAT'S how it's gonna happen. . .

(via Atrios)

December 21, 2006

Fear Of A Muslim Planet

A U.S. Representative, a Republican naturally, felt the need to send this to his constituents about Keith Ellison:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and "In God We Trust" are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, "As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office." Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,

Virgil H. Goode, Jr.

70 East Court Street

Suite 215

Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

Really, there is no negotiations with lizard brains like these. Quit trying to "accomodate" them and remove them from the levers of power.


Bush supports the Democratic aspirations of raising the minimum wage - with one condition:

Bush said at a Wednesday news conference that any pay hike should be accompanied by tax and regulatory relief for small businesses, potentially a tough sell for Democrats, who are about to reassume control of the House and Senate.

Despite years and years of corporate tax breaks, Bush will not sign off unless he's given more tax cuts. Will Democrats take this from a sitting lame duck president, perhaps the lamest in history? We'll see.

The Mobius Strip Of Fatuousness

When historians come around to writing a definitive account of the Bush era, this koan to willful and militant ignorance from Cornerite Stanley Kurtz should be included somewhere for posterity:

Media coverage of Iraq has been biased, and that bias has indeed helped to shape events there for the worse. At the same time, conservative distrust of the media’s very real bias has inclined us to dismiss reports about problems in Iraq that are real.

In the end, I think the media bears fundamental responsibility for this. Had they been less biased–had they reported acts of heroism and the many good things we have done in Iraq–I think conservatives would actually have taken their reporting of the problems in Iraq more seriously. In effect, the media’s consistent liberal bias discredits even its valid reports.

But you are right that MSM’s failings place a burden on smart conservatives not to be too dismissive, just because of the bias. We wish the media were more balanced, and therefore more believable. But we only hurt ourselves if we automatically dismiss anything MSM reports. Again, I think the media bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for this problem. But conservatives still need to be smart about this, or we only end up hurting ourselves.

. . .But it’s a terrible shame that we’ve come to the point where our ability to believe news reports hinges on a those rare cases where the record shows freedom from liberal bias. The media has discredited themselves, making it tough to take them seriously even when they are right, and that has hurt us all.

The Hidden Hand Of The Frei Market

Via Kevin Drum, John Derbyshire at National Review Online's The Corner becomes bug-eyed at the fact that his health insurance premiums have nearly doubled without any apparent explanation.

My health insurer has just notified me, in a brief form letter, that my monthly premiums are to rise from $472.33 to $857.00 on January 1st. That's an increase of 81 percent. ***E*I*G*H*T*Y*-*O*N*E* *P*E*R*C*E*N*T*** Can they do that? I called them. They sound pretty confident they can. Ye gods!

Oh yes they can, Derb, because you free-market cultists and the useful idiots at the neo-liberal caucus have given corporate entities like privatized health care nearly free hand to do whatever they please, falsely believing that such liberties will bring us cheap and effective insurance. What was it you hammered over and over again? That the "freedom to contract" allows individuals to select health plans they believe is best for them? If the insurance company screwed you over like that, aren't you free to dump your plan and look elsewhere? Isn't it just another tenant of the Econ 101 course material influenced by the neoclassical conservatives at the Chicago School and Martin Feldstein? That "competition" will heal all wounds?

Real economists on the other hand realize that the health maintenance sector of the economy doesn't represent perfect competition and that people who shop around for cheap health premiums are highly likely to be ones that insurers find undesireable (read sick and costly) which will lead those services who actually sign up those individuals to go belly-up and leave behind health insurers who are more discriminating and more free to charge whatever health premiums they want.

But those neocons are right. Socialized medicine is only for commies, hippies and, ugh, Europeans. It has no place in this fair country.

Two Nations

If you believe the Bushtards on the cable news business reports, the economy is really humming. The stock market is at a record, baybee, and that translates to multimillion-dollar bonuses for the truly deserving CEOs:

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Investment bank Morgan Stanley's CEO John Mack has been awarded a bonus worth about $40 million in stock and options for 2006, according to a regulatory filing Thursday.

However, Mack's compensation is likely to be topped by one or more of his rivals, according to a report published Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

The payout comes amid a boom time for investment banks, advising private equity firms flush with cash in their pursuit of acquisitions, raking in hedge fund fees and profiting from elevated levels of bond and stock trading.

The high profits are translating into multi-million dollar bonus awards for bankers - two studies released in November show that Wall Street bonuses should rise by double-digit percentages this year.

The question people often fail to ask is how the newfound wealth of the corporate state is being distributed:

Morgan Stanley cuts 170 jobs

Morgan Stanley has cut 170 positions at its recently acquired subprime mortgage unit, Saxon Capital Inc., as part of its reorganization of the business.

The New York investment bank is shutting down Saxon's business of lending directly to consumers to focus on lending through mortgage brokers and mortgage servicing, said Morgan Stanley spokesman Mark Lake.

The job cuts, which was first reported Wednesday by National Mortgage News on its Web site, accounted for about 14 percent of Saxon's work force.

If they aren't careful, this country could find itself in a middle of an unwanted Marxist revolution.

December 20, 2006

Head Soldier In Eye-Rack Throws In The Towel


How sad it must be for Abizaid. He got the CENTCOM job in the first place because he's been such a team player for Rumsfailed, and all his bullshit about how a small, fast and hyper-mechanized army can easily take over countries that hate our guts. Now that the Rumsfailed doctrine has been so repudiated, he has no other choice but to resign:

WASHINGTON — Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq.

Abizaid has been the primary architect of U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since becoming head of the U.S. Central Command more than three years ago. He has strenuously resisted calls to increase troop levels to quell rising violence in Baghdad, arguing it would increase Iraqi dependence on Americans.

But a growing number of current and former officers have embraced the idea, some of whom have briefed President Bush as part of his monthlong review of Iraq policy, and the White House is believed to be considering the move.

"If you're going to change the strategy, in fairness to [Abizaid], let him go," said a former senior Pentagon official who has worked closely with the general. "He's given it all he's got, in terms of personal sacrifice."

Abizaid's planned departure clears the way for new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to recommend his own commander, a decision current and former Defense officials say is nearly as important as the new administration strategy expected to be unveiled by Bush in January.

Rich Lowery Turns On Eye-Rack


Rich Lowery rightly mocks Laura Bush's recent attacks against the media concerning their coverage of Eye-Rack in a new syndicated column:

First Lady Laura Bush spoke for many conservatives when she excoriated the media’s coverage of Iraq the other day. She complained that “the drumbeat in the country from the media ... is discouraging,? and said “there are a lot of good things happening that aren’t covered.?

What are those things, one wonders? One can only imagine how Mrs. Bush can figure that they outweigh the horrors in Iraq. The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 1.6 million Iraqis have fled the country, about 7 percent of the population. But that means that an overwhelming 93 percent haven’t left. Why doesn’t the liberal media ever report that? About 120 Iraqis are killed per day, nearly 4,000 a month. But most are still living. Couldn’t one of the morning shows do a soft feature on this heartwarming fact?

Then he finally joins those among us who has bought a clue:

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

. . .The “good news? that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war. An old conservative chestnut has it that only four of Iraq’s 18 provinces are beset by violence. True, but those provinces include 40 percent of the population, as well as the capital city, where the battle over the country’s future is being waged.

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

We'll see where his newfound distaste for rose-colored glasses takes us. But for now it is too little, too late for this draft deferment-in-waiting.

Bush: "We're Not Winning"


Okay, okay, Bush actually used the open-ended copout line, "We're not winning, we're not losing" but as today's Washington Post article says, it's certainly a far cry from Bush's pre-election thumpin' line "Absolutely we're winning!"

But don't take Bush's turnaround as a sign he's going to give up. Oh no, that is for other president's to do for him, preferably a Democratic one. The extra troop surge is just going to be another delaying tactic. I'll present TPM reader MD's likely scenario of what's going to happen in full:

It hit me the other day that what the surge is going to accomplish for Bush and Cheney is to take them through these next two years. By the time they can claim to have the extra troops in Bagdhad it's gonna be May or June. They'll be there a few months till everyone has to admit that it isn't working (though in the interim I would predict the first really horrendous event in which our troops suffer a big loss, like 200 men in one blast), then it will be the end of 2007 and the argument will be about whether we should remove some of the surge troops. That will take a few months, at least, and we'll be in the throes of a presidential election. Bush won't want to do anything too "political" at that point, of course, so he'll happily leave it to the new prez to make shitcakes out of shit. And Bush and Cheney will spin it for all it's worth for the rest of their lives...

December 19, 2006

Eye-Rack: We. Have. Failed.

William Arkin says what needed to be said in this online column. An outdated metric for measuring insanity is if doing something repeatedly while expecting different results.

A telling example is that it's been ten months since Iraq's only "level one" unit - a level of which Iraqi units can fight eithout American assistance - has been downgraded. Have they been upgraded during that time? How many level one units have been trained in those ten months? We went into this war unprepared, and now we are reaping the whirlwinds. Get out get yourselves together and next time you want to occupy a country that never attacked us, let us know what we're getting ourselves into before we go in.

Robert Farley of TAPPED got it exactly right with this graf:

The magic bullet that Connable (and, incidentally, the ISG) presents is a well trained and effective Iraqi military, one capable of overcoming sectarian division and carrying out a competent and efficiently executed counter-insurgency doctrine without resorting to genocidal bloodshed or fratricidal civil war. In other words, the expectation is that forces inevitably less capable than the units already deployed will be able to solve the problem and prevent insurgent control, bloodletting, brutality, etc. Right. This expectation itself depends on the assumption that an Army which has never been good at counter-insurgency will be able to train, in a remarkably short period of time (as the founding of armies goes) an Iraqi force up to the level of competence it will require to operate without substantial U.S. support.

The Return of The Teflon Republican

Greg Sargent of the Horse's mouth reminds Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz why he should be skeptical about John McCain's supposedly sincere efforts to increase the troop levels in Eye-Rack, namely that this is the same St. John McCain who admitted on an earlier edition of Meet the Press that such a plan was unworkable.

Sure, we can remind these hacks that they should do their goddamn jobs and report what the candidates say, not what they feel about them. But, the exercise is truly sysiphean when you get statements like this:

Why not accept that McCain really believes this and is taking a political risk? Maybe his position is dumb and maybe it isn't, but it certainly doesn't appear to be safe.

So St. McCain is to be given a pass because he takes a position he himself had earlier discredited? A position may be incredibly stupid, but he has taken a stand, right?

And all the while, every statement made by Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and now Nancy Pelosi is scrutinized, raked over the coals and second-guessed to no end and on every insignificant issue they can contrive? That's all good for the Democrats, but this type of blatant double standard turns a necessity in political reporting into a maddening conundrum.

December 17, 2006

"B-But What About All The Schools?"

Moving on to another Eye-Rackee institution in shambles, Kagro X at the Daily Kos writes a post highlighting the shameless shilling Laura Bush is doing for her husband's disaster in Eye-rack. Of course she trots out the usual canards, like how the media is biased and not reporting how the schools are being rebuilt. Well, the media is actually focusing on the educational situation in that country, and the results are not good:

BAGHDAD — Iraq's schools, long touted by American officials as a success story in a land short on successes, increasingly are being caught in the crossfire of the country's escalating civil war.

President Bush has routinely talked about the refurbishment and construction of schools as a neglected story of progress in Iraq. The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent about $100 million on Iraq's education system and cites the rehabilitation of 2,962 school buildings as a signal accomplishment.

But today, across the country, campuses are being shuttered, students and teachers driven from their classrooms and parents left to worry that a generation of traumatized children will go without education.

Teachers tell of students kidnapped on their way to school, mortar rounds landing on or near campuses and educators shot in front of children.

. . .No credible current national school attendance statistics exist in Iraq, whose education system was once considered a model in the Arab world. But examples abound of schools being closed or left mostly empty as parents flee the country or keep their children home.

So to all the wingers out there, Eye-Rack is an unmitigated disaster with nothing good coming out of it. Deal with it.

Eye-Rackee "Justice" In Action

Like every other thing in that shitmire, the Iraqi justice system is broken beyond all repair, according to the lengthy front page New York Times story today. The details are staggering, but one passage is metaphorical of how much of a sham this all is:

The judges dismissed the case against a man accused of joining an armed group after the Iraqi prosecutor told them there was not sufficient evidence.

He smiled as his verdict was read, but he did not leave the courthouse a free man. All the American-held detainees were taken back to the detention center. Those found guilty would be sent to Iraqi prisons. The man whose case was dismissed would be reviewed again by American military officials, who would determine whether to release him.

There's no Eye-Rackee sovereignty, period.

December 16, 2006

Go Big

Per the Thomas Ricks article last month, WorstPresidentEver is going to defy all popular demands and send even more cannon fodder - I mean troops - to the clusterfuck.

Merry Christmas, all you soon-to-be-deployed soldiers.

December 14, 2006

Let's Iraq's Future Dictator Be OUR Dictator

Scott Lemieux brings us this Jonah Goldberg column of which he argues for an Eye-Rackee strongman in the model of Pinochet. It's just part and parcel of the reich-wing's strange attraction to that terrorist military dictator.


Tony Snowjob announces the new Bush administration reversal - I mean policy - of giving daily body counts, in order to refute the impression that Bush "isn't doing anything" in the quicksand. I wonder how long it will take for them to claim they've killed or injured 133 percent of the insurgrents.

December 13, 2006

The World Bank = The CPA.

A big reason why the Eye-Rack war is such a disaster today is because the original Coalition Provisional Authority is such a black hole of political appointees, right-wing ideologues and other grossly incompetent characters that it earned a nickname among the military personnel as "Can't Produce Anything".

The original godfather of the war, former deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has been appointed to be the head of the World Bank, because, you know, he's the financial genius who predicted the Eye-Rack war can pay for itself with Eye-Rack's oil money. Now the career professionals at that organization are complaining about Wolfowitz running that place into the ground:

WORLD Bank president Paul Wolfowitz faces mounting criticism from directors of the international lending organisation who say he relies on political advisers with little expertise in development while driving away seasoned managers.

Half of the bank's 29 highest-level executives have left since Mr Wolfowitz, the former US deputy defence secretary and an architect of President George Bush's invasion of Iraq, took office in June last year. Among them is Christiaan Poortman, vice-president for the Middle East and a 30-year veteran, who left in September after resisting pressure to speed up lending and adding staff in Iraq.

"It was very sad to see someone of Mr Poortman's calibre leaving," Eckhard Deutscher, one of 24 executive directors who oversee the management of the lender, said. "The bank needs to be very careful not to lose too much of its human capital."

The exodus is damaging the poverty-fighting institution, which provided $US23.6 billion ($A30 billion) last year for projects such as schools and clinics, say directors and observers.

Perhaps it's just as well, the World Bank has done almost nothing to stem the poverty rate around the world. In fact, it might have even increased it.

The Army Is Broken

Army Strawng!

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for "full access" to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials.

. . .At least two-thirds of Army units in the United States today are rated as not ready to deploy -- lacking in manpower, training and, most critically, equipment -- according to senior U.S. officials and the Iraq Study Group report. The two ground services estimate that they will need $18 billion a year to repair, replace and upgrade destroyed and worn-out equipment.

If another crisis were to erupt requiring a large number of U.S. ground troops, the Army's plan would be to freeze its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and divert to the new conflict the U.S.-based combat brigade that is first in line to deploy.

Beyond that, however, the Army would have to cobble together war-depleted units to form complete ones to dispatch to the new conflict -- at the risk of lost time, unit cohesion and preparedness, senior Army officials said. Moreover, the number of Army and Marine combat units available for an emergency would be limited to about half that of four years ago, experts said, unless the difficult decision to pull forces out of Iraq were made.

"We are concerned about gross readiness . . . and ending equipment and personnel shortfalls," said a senior Marine Corps official. The official added that Marine readiness has dropped and that the Corps is unable to fulfill many planned missions for the fight against terrorism.

. . .According to Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, the Army and Marine Corps today cannot sustain even a modest increase of 20,000 troops in Iraq. U.S. commanders for Afghanistan have asked for more troops but have not received them, noted the Iraq Study Group report, which called it "critical" for the United States to provide more military support for Afghanistan.

"We are facing more operational risk than we have for many, many years," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. He called it "shocking and scandalous" that two-thirds of Army units are rated "non-deployable." He said the country has not faced such a readiness crisis since the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

December 12, 2006

Jimmy Carter: Has He Got Some 'Spaining To Do?

Via American Footprints, there's a neoconservative blog that makes a seemingly credible case that Jimmy Carter's new books has utilized some maps of the 2000 Clinton peace proposal between the Israelis and Palestinians that were plagiarized and mischaracterized from Dennis Ross's own book. If it is true, then it's very unfortunate that Jimmy Carter would go through with that. But then again, we are talking about a neocon making these assertions, so I'm taking the accusations with a boulder-sized grain of salt.

I Can't Stand It

I just can't stand it.

I'd comment on this, but for the bile forming in the back of my throat:

Rumsfeld: ‘It Is Not A War on Terror’ In a new interview posted on Townhall.com, conservative columnist Cal Thomas asks outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “With what you know now, what might you have done differently in Iraq?? Rumsfeld offers a remarkable response:
I don’t think I would have called it the war on terror. I don’t mean to be critical of those who have. Certainly, I have used the phrase frequently. Why do I say that? Because the word ‘war’ conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War. It creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera. It isn’t going to happen that way. Furthermore, it is not a ‘war on terror.’ Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and (through) a small group of clerics, impose their dark vision on all the people they can control. So ‘war on terror’ is a problem for me.

December 11, 2006

A New Way Together Forward

Newsweek reports that Bush is going to respond to the ISG report by revealing his new slogan - I mean strategy - for Eye-Rack called "A New Way Forward."

How fuggin' typical. Instead of real plans, we get a media sell. Let's see how far we're gonna fall for it this time around.

They Just Get Younger, Don't They?

This one probably commits sexual assault three feedings a day

This kind of bullshit only comes from Texas:

Four-year-old suspended for hugging teacher's aid

Bellmead, TX - Damarcus Blackwell's four-year-old son was lining-up to get on the bus after school last month, when he was accused of rubbing his face in the chest of a female employee

The principal of La Vega Primary School sent a letter to the Blackwells that said the pre-kindergartener demonstrated "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment."

Blackwell says it's ridiculous that the aide would misread a hug from a four-year-old.

Blackwell wrote to administrators demanding that the whole incident be expunged from his son's academic file because his son is too young to know what it means to act sexually.

How much do you wanna bet the child's race had something to do with his suspension?

December 10, 2006

From Domino Democracies To Domino Disorders


Bob Johnson over at The Daily Kos discusses the new David Brooks column in today's New York TImes in which Brooks descibes a nightmare scenario of which several Arab nations gets toppled by anti-Sunni insurgents and chaos reigns throughout the Middle East, only to eventually end up on our doorstep via terror acts worst than September the Eleventh ("apply directly to your forehead"). Bob Johnson calls it The New Domino Theory©, a rehash of a discredited theory that will no doubt be peddled by the Eye-Rack war dead-enders like David Brooks to justify our staying in the shitmire, and to therefore protect their diminishing credibility.

The warbots have promoted the theory that a successful Eye-Rack war will inspire the growth of democracies in the Arab world, like spring blossoms in the arid desert.

But they've supported a war president who desperately needed to market this fiasco to the gullible voters in this country, so he rushed through elections in Eye-Rack without providing the security needed for moderate voices to be heard. Now the elections have only sharpened sectarian divides that is now fueling the civil war and the moderate voices have since been lost by the wayside. And now those same morons have shifted from predicting a Renaissance to predicting an Apocalypes. But those two theories will not pan out for the same obvious reason.

Bush's fuck-up in Eye-Rack has provided a potent example to other Arab autocracies as to why their iron-fisted rule is a necessary evil and why any incipient insurrections will be put down swiftly and with full backing of their constituencies. A dictactorship may not be perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the "freedoms" being enjoyed by the Eye-Rackees. As I've said before, Bush's legacy will not be the one laid down by Harry Truman. It will be the ones provided by the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the 13th century. The Mongols invasion effectively ended the growth and liberalization of Islam when the clerics declared that the invasion was God's punishment for their not following the strict interpretations of Islam. The Bush invasion will do the same to whatever nascent democratization efforts in the Middle East.

Update: Ezra Klein mocks David Brooks a good one.

December 9, 2006

Arming The Civil War

Some time ago the office of the Inspector General released a report that says about 14,000 weapons that were supposed to be given to the new Iraqi army could not be accounted for.

Well, turns out the discreptancy covers only the time before the weapons were given to the Iraq army units. What happens to the weapons after being handed over to the recruits gives a much worse picture:

“I certainly concede that there are weapons that have been lost, stolen and misappropriated,? General Dempsey said. He noted that the inspector general had estimated that 4 percent, or about 14,000 weapons, were lost between arriving in Iraq and being transferred to Iraqi forces. Most of the weapons were pistols.

The general said that he thought the estimate was high and that accountability was improving. A weapons registry was being created, he said. “Serial numbers are being registered,? he said.

But the estimate of a 4 percent loss did not include weapons that were lost or stolen after being issued to Iraqi units. The arms dealers said this was the main source of their goods.

The arms dealers described several factors that kept weapons flowing from state custody.

Some have been taken by insurgents in ambushes or raids. Defections and resignations have also been common in Iraqi police and army units, they said, and often departing soldiers and officers leave with their weapons, which are worth more than several months of pay.

Yeap, keep enabling the disaster there, oh Wise Men. We can certainly fix this. First three years haven't done it, but by golly give us another 3-10 years, we'll figger it out! Especially with a tone-deaf president at the helm.

Civil War? Phhhsht, Naaaah!

These are just Iraqis going through a "phase":

Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad By JOHN F. BURNS BAGHDAD, Dec. 9 — Bands of armed Shiite militiamen stormed through a neighborhood in north-central Baghdad on Saturday, driving hundreds of Sunni Arabs from their homes in what a Sunni colonel in the Iraqi Army described as one of the most flagrant episodes of sectarian warfare yet unleashed in the capital.

The officer, Lt. Col. Abdullah Ramadan al-Jabouri, said that more than 100 Sunni families, many with very young children, had left the Hurriya neighborhood aboard a convoy of trucks and cars under cover of the nightly curfew. Government officials tried to urge the families to return by promising army protection, but could not persuade them.

. . .The fighting began around noon, when militiamen began rampaging through the only mixed district in Hurriya, a mostly Shiite neighborhood, and killed at least three Sunni Arabs. One family was shot as they left their home, with a 20-year-old man killed and his mother and younger brother wounded, according to an account given by the man’s father, who was at work as a security guard elsewhere at the time. The man said the three were hit by automatic rifle fire as they finished loading possessions into their car and prepared to drive to a safer area.

Colonel Jabouri said that skirmishes set off by the militia attacks continued for about five hours, until sunset. Meanwhile, a large convoy of Sunni Arabs waited in their vehicles outside the fortified Muhaimin mosque, waiting to drive to neighboring Sunni districts while local leaders negotiated with militiamen for safe passage.

A Sunni cleric, Sayed Ahmed Muhammad, said the negotiations also involved appeals from top government officials, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, for the Sunni families to return to their homes in Hurriya under promise of Iraqi Army protection. But the cleric said the assurances failed to persuade the Sunnis, whom he described as the last of more than 4,000 Sunnis to flee the area under Shiite militia threats in recent months. The convoy set out after dark.

And as for our finest men and women staying the course in the sandbox, you know, those thousands of soldiers who were supposed to protect the good people of Baghdad in OPERATION TOGETHER FORWARD, where the fuck were they?

The role of American troops in the turmoil was unclear. The Sunni cleric, Sayed Muhammad, said appeals for assistance from the First Cavalry Division, its headquarters about three miles southwest of Hurriya, had gone unanswered. But Colonel Jabouri said Iraqi commanders had told the Americans there was no need for their help. A First Cavalry Division spokesman said American advisers with Iraqi troops in Hurriya had reported only one instance of sectarian trouble, when Iraqi troops assisted a Shiite family under threat from Sunnis.

And they KNEW it was going to fail. Oy vey iz mir.

One Friedman Left In Afghanistan

I think we made a movie in the late 80's about this celebrating this type of quagmire happening - although back then the islamofashishehshes were the freedom fighters and the Soviets were the infidels deserving their costly disaster:

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The conflict in Afghanistan has entered a dangerous phase, and the next three to six months could prove crucial in determining whether the United States and its NATO partners can suppress a revitalized enemy — or will be dragged into another drawn-out and costly fight with an Islamic insurgency, according to senior military and security officials and diplomats.

"I think we are approaching a tipping point, perhaps early in the new year," said a Western diplomat in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Popular support for the central government is faltering, and Western military allies are deeply divided over how best to combat the insurgency.

On the other side of the fight, the Taliban has regained the strength to dominate large swaths of Afghanistan; government control is tenuous at best in at least 20% of the country, according to several Western diplomats and Afghan officials.

Militants have built a network of bases in the tribal hinterlands that straddle the frontier with Pakistan. Over the last year, a growing number of mobile encampments on the Afghan side of the border have given the insurgents greater self-sufficiency, military officials say, although the guerrillas still draw heavily on logistical support and weaponry funneled from the Pakistani side.

"They can come and go pretty much undetected," acknowledged U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., who is overseeing the training and equipping of the struggling Afghan national army.

Observers point to an inexorable upward trend in violence that includes suicide attacks, roadside bombs and border clashes. "We have a bona fide war going on," Harrison said.

A widely cited recent report by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, a panel of Afghan and foreign officials, said such attacks had increased fourfold from last year, killing at least 3,700 people so far in 2006.

What? You mean spending 25 times less per capita on Afghanistan than in Bosnia WON'T defeat the Taliban? And deploying 1/50th of the troops sent to Bosnia doesn't help either? And creating an Afghan military whose soldiers gets paid less than a Taliban is ass-ignorant at best? Well shit on me and call me a sundae!

This Nation Is Being Led By A Child

You know, the Iraq Study Group could have used the opportunity to really tear the president a new earhole with a extremely scathing report which doesn't mince words about what type of dipshit he and his cronies really are. They could have intended this report for a wider audience of reasonable people instead of the Bushies who are just going to dumpter the recommendations anyway. But no, the Wise Men were naive enough to think Bush will listen to them, and now they are facing the harsh realities of things:

Bush said he talked about "the need for a new way forward in Iraq" in his morning session with leaders from both parties and chambers of Congress, "and we talked about the need to work together on this important subject."

But some Democrats came away unconvinced that major changes were coming.

"I just didn't feel there today, the president in his words or his demeanor, that he is going to do anything right away to change things drastically," Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid, D-Nev., said following the Oval Office meeting. "He is tepid in what he talks about doing. Someone has to get the message to this man that there have to be significant changes."

Instead, Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.

Bush said that "in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America," recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill. "He's trying to position himself in history and to justify those who continue to stand by him, saying sometimes if you're right you're unpopular, and be prepared for criticism."

Durbin said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now - work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, "reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response" and emphasized that he is "the commander in chief."

The Rise of The Cassandras

A giant plus for the Iraq Study Group report is that it is direct and unambiguous in declaring WorstPresidentEver's adventure in Eye-Rack an unmitigated mistake that should have never been pursued. No Beltway pundit who wants to be taken seriously anymore would declare otherwise. Even those who vigorously cheerled the war are forced to eat their own words (more or less). New York Times columnist Paul Krugman gets to write a well-deserved "I toldja so" in yesterday's edition:

And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war - a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats - gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.

At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"

Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.

Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been proved wrong, I'd like to offer some praise to those who got it right. Here's a partial honor roll:

Former President George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, explaining in 1998 why they didn't go on to Baghdad in 1991: "Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Representative Ike Skelton, September 2002: "I have no doubt that our military would decisively defeat Iraq's forces and remove Saddam. But like the proverbial dog chasing the car down the road, we must consider what we would do after we caught it."

Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."

Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

Representative John Spratt, October 2002: "The outcome after the conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less certain."

Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."

Senator Russ Feingold, October 2002: "I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. ... When the administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has much to do with the troubling phenomenon of many Americans questioning the administration's motives."

Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. ... Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war - or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly - should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.

We must not forget about one brave soul who, despite going through a very tough re-election campaign, remained true to his principles and voted against this ill-fated war and reportedly said that he didn't care if his vote cost him the election. That would be Paul Wellstone, and sadly we were denied the opportunity to see if his vote vindicated by the election. Recently WCCO dug up old videos of Wellstone's speech during that critical time and compared his words to the facts on the ground today. Needless to say, the foresight was eerie.

December 8, 2006

Ethnic Cleansing Inc.

The Eye-Rack civil war is providing new business to professional movers in that country:

Iraqi movers are front-line witnesses to the violent purges that are transforming this capital's once-diverse neighborhoods into a mosaic of hamlets cordoned off by religious sect. At great personal risk and for very little money, they race through hostile territory to help families pack heirlooms and electronics in the minutes before fleeing.

The movers' callused hands and sad eyes betray the hardships of a job that brings to life a grim United Nations statistic: Sectarian violence displaces 1,000 Iraqis each day.

"All this moving isn't just changing the character of Baghdad. It's destroying it," said Abu Zaid, a third-generation mover who was too scared to give his full name.

In 1941, Abu Zaid's grandfather bought a red Dodge pickup, said to be the first kind of truck that Iraq imported, and established a family moving business. Abu Zaid's father added a white Mercedes truck in the 1980s to deliver furniture to Sunni and Shiite residents in upscale, mixed-sect neighborhoods.

Now, Abu Zaid said, his own yellow Hino truck is reversing his family's work, depopulating the very neighborhoods that his father and grandfather helped to fill.

"We lived for years without thinking about what's a Sunni or what's a Shiite," he muttered with bitterness.

Abu Zaid, a towering, rotund man, stood Tuesday at an informal gathering place for movers along a main road that links the predominantly Sunni western part of Baghdad with the majority-Shiite east side.

Iraqis intimidated into leaving their homes cruise this strip to find movers whom they can trust to be discreet, quick and fearless. Sometimes, the movers said, customers lie about where they live, worrying that they'll be turned down because their neighborhoods are rife with snipers and fake checkpoints.

Relatively safe trips to Karrada or Zayuna run from $35 to $50 an hour; forays into the deadly districts of Jihad, Doura, Ghazaliyah or Ameriya can fetch $200 an hour or more.

"Once - only once - I went to Jihad," recalled Abu Zaid, 30, who's a Shiite. "It was to move in a Sunni woman who had to leave a Shiite neighborhood. The minute we reached Jihad, clashes broke out between Interior Ministry commandos and insurgents. All I could do was dump the furniture and get out of there.

"I parked in an alley and went to ask a policeman how I could escape. He told me, `OK, go back to your truck and when I give you the sign, make a run for it.'"

Read the whole thing. Then ask yourself how the three year occupation could have prevented this fact of life from happening. Then ask yourself how continuing our presence in that country is going to help the situation. While the wise men and politicians pat themselves on the back over the ISG report, the country burns.

December 7, 2006

The Time NBC Was Actually Right

When I think of how consummately inept and meddling network television executives can be, I think of how NBC treated The John Larroquette Show which premiered in 1993. The early offering was a brilliant show of which the actor of the eponymous show plays John Hemingway, a recovering alcoholic who is sent to manage a run-down, inefficient, urban bus station in St. Louis. The whip-smart scripting that bravely addresses uncomfortable issues dealing with class, race and other stereotypes. An iconic sequence was during the pilot when Larroquette's character Hemingway and Dexter the black proprietor of the bus stop cafe, were being held up at gunpoint in Hemingway's office. Dexter tells the black stick-up man, pointing to Hemingway, "Shoot him, he's white!" Hemingway responds, pointing to Dexter "Shoot him, you'll do less time!" The comedy is balanced by the pathos of the main character desperately trying to stay on the wagon while dealing with the type of problems that would push the best of us to the bottle.

But, nope, Cheers had just been cancelled and the suits at GE wanted to recreate that magic, so they forced the writers to tone down the cynicism and lighten the mood. In later seasons, the show was mostly based in the main character's apartment and might have been known as John Hemingway's Place. So the show eventually made an unmourned demise two years later, mission accomplished.

The year The John Larroquette Show premiered was the same year that Frasier also premiered, and one of the creators, Peter Casey, was kind enough to give us the inside scoop on how it happened while guest-blogging on Ken Levine's page. That time, the creators wanted to do a show with Kelsey Grammar that would play him as a highbrow, multi-millionaire publisher paralyzed from the waist down who had a "sassy" Latina for a caretaker who will show the crusty old bird how to be more human. Yes, I know, ugh. Fortunately (this time) the Jack Donaghys intervened and insisted that the Frasier character remain intact so that they will retain the following that watched Cheers. Being the creative geniuses that they are, David Angell, David Lee and Casey worked around that limitation and eventually put on a hit show that was in their own image. I recommend reading the whole three part series, it's really illuminating.

Painting The Schools With Blood

While Bush and Blair are busy openly repudiating the ISG report, the situation in Eye-Rack continues to deteriorate:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The toll in one of the U.S. military’s deadliest days in Iraq rose to 11 when the military said Thursday that another soldier had died in fighting west of Baghdad.

At least seven Iraqis — six policemen and a 7-year-old girl — were killed in a series of bombings and shootings.

. . .Gunmen also broke into a school in western Baghdad, killing its Sunni headmaster in his office, then instructing teachers not to return, an Iraqi army officer said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday urged university professors and students to ignore a Sunni Arab insurgent group’s warnings to avoid class, calling them “desperate attempts.?

The group had sent e-mails to students and posted signs at schools and mosques saying students should stay away while it cleanses the campuses of Shiite death squads, according to a statement from al-Maliki’s office late Tuesday.

But they MUST set aside their differences or else. . .

Immaculate Conceptions

The reduction of teen pregnancies in this country is due to the knowledge and use of contraceptives, not counter-intuitive prescriptions to curious and fully pubescent teens that sex is icky and wrong and will make angels weep blood. Otherwise, if abstinence-only education worked, there's a hell of a lot of virgin births happening:

Sexual abstinence as an effective tool in reducing teenage pregnancy is a complete "myth", the Government's advisory body on the issue claimed yesterday.

The Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy said that research from the United States showed that contraception was the way to bring down rates. Researchers from Columbia University and the Guttmacher Institute examined the relative roles of abstinence and contraceptive use in the "remarkable decline" in US teenage pregnancy rates, which dropped 27 per cent from 1991 to 2000. They said that 86 per cent of the decline in teenage pregnancy was due to improved use of contraception.

Only 14 per cent of the drop amongst 15- to 19-year-olds was linked to reduced sexual activity, according to the study, published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

John McCain The Straight Shooter

If the national media rigorously held our elected officials to account for their words and predictions, I'll eat my keyboard:

Here’s what McCain said almost exactly a year ago:
“I think the situation on the ground is going to improve. I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.? [The Hill, 12/8/05]

via Atrios

The Pony Show

The Iraq Study Group report is out. And people who aren't self-serving politicians aren't impressed.

Of course they aren't, because I haven't seen a document so mealy-mouthed and so lacking of insight since, well, the September 11th Commission report, also co-written by the ISG member Lee Hamilton who just admitted what a sham his last blue-ribbon commission was. Basically it gives a lot of "musts" (the Iraq government MUST settle their differences and come together, the U.S. MUST get Syria and Iran to fix Eye-Rack, the U.S. MUST train more Eye-Rackee troops, etc. ad nauseum) without being detailed on how to achieve those goals [e.g. "Come on Asad, Ahmadenijad, help us out here. Puhleeeeze? We'll be your friends? Oh don't be like that!" (pg. 51)]. And they urge us to support and butress institutions like the Iraq Parliament which they admit is dysfunctional beyond all repair. They also tell us to train more Iraq security forces without discussing the fact that militia members get paid more than the regular Iraq soldier and that the U.S. military program for training Iraqi soldiers is too ill equipped to live up to that task anyways.

But the most damning thing is that while they admit that Eye-Rack is such a mess, they urge us to be patient and give it one final chance for it to work, even though that ship has long sailed. What kind of fools do they take us for? As Michael R. Gordon says in the New York Times today, "[n]ow the study group is positing that the United States can accomplish in little more than one year what it has failed to carry out in three."

Ho well, Steve Gilliard is right. If anything, at least the report will give those in the mushy-moderate give-the-president-a-chance crowd political cover to give WorstPresidentEver the harsh criticism that he so richly deserves.

If anything.

"It's Her Fault! She Fought Back When I Tried To Rape Her!"

The Israelis, in a pathetic attempt to shed the responsibilities incurred during the August war with Lebanon are now releasing self-serving videos and other evidence that purports to show that Hezbollah militants uses civilian infrastructure to fight the Israelis. Well that's a huge DUH, because that is exactly how guerrilla wars are waged. The people without the advantages of airpower and other military machinery utilizes all the tools available, including the civilian population, to launch their attacks. It has been that way since modern rebellions were waged and third world nations have started ejecting their colonizers. I should suspect that Hezbollah has been using similar tactics the last time Israel occupied the south from 1982 to 2000.

This time around they tried to subjugate a population using primarily air power and it didn't work. They found they would have to re-enter into another distasteful full-scale occupation that will not win them a lot of friends in the world, especially now thanks to instant internet news that will reveal all the messiness of that operation in real time. The only way Israelis can justify their misguided endeavor in Lebanon is to present themselves as victims, no matter how preposterous the claim is.

December 6, 2006

A Five-Day Work Week? The Horror!

Whining Republicans are reacting to the new rules being instituted by the new Democratic regime:

Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress yesterday was their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January.

The horror.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who will become House majority leader and is writing the schedule for the next Congress, said members should expect longer hours than the brief week they have grown accustomed to.

"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."

The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.

For lawmakers, it is awful, compared with what they have come to expect. For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon -- and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn't in recess.

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

Time away from Washington is just as important to being an effective member of Congress as time spent in the Capitol, Kingston added. "When I'm here, people call me Mr. Congressman. When I'm home, people call me 'Jack, you stupid SOB, why did you vote that way?' It keeps me grounded."

Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), who had intended to retire this year, only to be persuaded to run again, wondered whether the new schedule was more than symbolic. "If we're doing something truly productive, that's one thing," he said. "If it's smoke-and-mirrors hoopla, that's another."

Senate leaders have not set their schedule, but the upper chamber generally works a longer week than the House, though important votes or hearings are usually not scheduled on Mondays or Fridays.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), one of the architects of the lighter workweek, put the best Republican face on Hoyer's new schedule.

"They've got a lot more freshmen then we do," he said of the Democrats. "That schedule will make it incredibly difficult for those freshmen to establish themselves in their districts. So we're all for it."

After voting for themselves salary increases several times during the past decade while refusing to raise the minimum wage once, this new rule is token justice at best.

December 5, 2006

Fire The Generals

Buried deep within a pro-forma article about the upcoming Iraq Study Group report, Newsweek has a scoop from the shitmire that details how fed up the generals are with the situation:

The American military is fed up with Maliki. The ground commanders in Iraq felt betrayed by him this summer when he undermined a push to get control of the streets of Baghdad. The Iraqis failed to deliver on a promise to put enough troops on the ground. A four-star general who declined to be identified discussing a confidential conversation told of this encounter with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who was in charge of day-to-day ground operations. "Do you have enough forces? Enough to clear an area and stay there to secure it 24/7?" Chiarelli replied, "Of course not." The four-star recalls replying, "It's going to fail, it's absolutely going to fail." The Americans never had enough forces to sweep even half the city, much less secure it. Maliki made their job tougher by in effect forbidding the U.S. military from taking on Shiite fighters; ordering them to lift roadblocks around Sadr City, the Shiite slum, and ordering them to release prisoners suspected of running death squads.

Oh really? With all the grandstanding with last summer's "Operation Together Forward" it turns out we would never have enough troops to complete that grandiloquently named mission? And they sat on this simple fact up until now, after weeks upon weeks of utterly predictable failure?

The military has become too much of a haven for ass-covering careerist yes-men who tell their commanders what they want to hear so they can get that promotion. Withholding the truth about the situation does nothing to win wars, it only furthers an illusion. If these military men don't have the balls to call it as it is, then they need to retire immediately.

Update: Kevin Drum directs us to this piece of agitprop in the Washington Post by the military spokesman in Eye-Rack, General William Caldwell. He basically says everythings just hunky dory, that the Eye-Rack government is asserting its sovereignty from inside the Green Zone barricades, that the Eye-Rack army is the fugging Wehrmacht of Mesopotamia, and that it's not a civil war going on in Eye-Rack because Ken Burns hasn't done a documentary about it yet. Just get rid of these ass-kissing, smoke-blowing, Baghdad-Bob-impersonating careerist bastards, please.

The $125 Million Kangaroo Court

Well, the newly elected Democrats have their first test in saving our republic from WorstPresidentEver. Apparently man-or-monkey wants to build an institution completely outside our justice system of which to play judge, jury and executioner for all the "worst of the worst" terra-ists they have holed up in Guantanamo Bay. Prioblem is, they are going to do it without congressional approval, basically making this taxation without representation:

The Pentagon is invoking emergency authority to fast-track funding of a comprehensive war-crimes court compound at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a letter to Congress obtained by The Miami Herald.

Department of Defense spokesmen would not say when -- if ever -- the Pentagon had last invoked similar authority.

Nor would they specify which military construction already approved by Congress would be frozen to fund the courtroom project, which could cost as much as $125 million, according to U.S. government documents.

But, in a Nov. 17 letter to several Republican and Democratic senators and House members, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England explains the unusual move this way:

``Due to national security implications and extreme urgency, emergency construction was authorized pursuant to Section 2808 of title 10, United States Code.''

Congressional staff members say the price tag and the funding mechanism have stirred protests among key members of Congress with fiscal and operational oversight of the Department of Defense.

The Pentagon wants to build, in three months, a mini-city on an abandoned airfield to stage the trials -- two new courtrooms with space for two more, dining, housing and work space for up to 1,200 military and civilians working at the trials, and media, conference and classified information centers.

Mark my words. If Democrats allow this to happen, I will never vote for a Democrat ever again.

My Solution To The Eye-Rack War

With the report from the Eye-Rack Study Group due to be out tomorrow and with every blowhard pundit who has ever backed the war offering magical pony plans for how to get out of it, I just thought I'd offer my suggestion on how to right this wrong:

Get RID of that delusional, denying murdering sonuvabitch president from OUT the Oval office, NOW!

NEW YORK At today's meeting with reporters at the White House, the major topics for Press Secretary Tony Snow, as expected, were the pending release of the Iraq Study Group's report -- and today's surprise, the admission by Robert Gates, at his confirmation hearings as new Pentagon chief, that the U.S., indeed, is not winning the war in Iraq.

Snow said that, as far as he knows, the president has not backed away from his recent statement that the U.S. is actually "winning" in Iraq. He also suggested that Gates, elsewhere in his testimony, seemed to say that maybe we weren't losing and we weren't winning. And he charged that the press was being too negative about all this: "What I think is demoralizing is a constant effort to try to portray this as a losing mission," he said.

He was also pushed on the question of the Iraq conflict turning into a civil war -- which he seriously questioned. "Well, I think one of the dangers is that civil war had been used in a political context," he said. "It's interesting -- what intervened other than an election to get people to change the label?"

A reporter shot back: "The violence got worse, I suppose."

Snow concluded: "I said it's very difficult to figure out that there is any clear definition, and if you have one, please pass it on."

Unless Bush is removed, nothing will be achieved except more chaos and violence.

Morons Leading The Insane

The lizard-brain wing of the blogosphere are offering their solution to what they now recognize as a real clusterfuck in the country formerly known as Eye-Rack. Of course, the offerings of those who cheerled the initial misadventure in the first place is going to suffer from a deficiency in quality, originality,or insight. They range from "exporting Iraq to the region" to disrupting Iranian oil trading to regenerating a whole new mercenary Eye-Rack army replete with re-education centers and close proximity to U.S. soldiers.

But this plan by the appropriately named Jacksonion Party takes the cake:

What is that, pray tell?

The Jacksonian way out?

I promise you, you will not like it.

It is to widen the war and take out SYRIA using Egyptian or Jordanian or Kurdish troops in an 'Afghanistan style' light infantry attack and use US air supremacy to wipe out the forces of Syria wherever they appear.

. . .What is even better is that this offers a way out and a way UP for the Middle East. Iran, will either have to open up and HELP, in which case their people will get first hand knowledge of how the US operates and realize the insanity of going after us militarily and start to work hard on a new regime OR it will close up and become an immediate threat realizing that its existence is being threatened without a single shot being fired at it. It will lash out, in that case. And find the US Forces that have been stabilizing Iraq have already been shifting to counter them. The moment they *do* a two pronged attack from the southwest and northeast out of Afghanistan by US forces will put Iran out of operation in three weeks or so. Maybe even three or four months. Definitely not long as the regime is 'one deep' and are facing the hard demographics of their population coming to loathe them.

And who gets to run Iran while it recovers?

Simple: Afghanistan and Iraq.

And if you have time to read through the numbingly dense prose this writer puts forth (has he ever heard of run-on sentences?) you'll find that his ultimate goal is to create a pan-Islamic superstate in which Mecca and Medina is shared by everyone, all in an effort, ironically, to punish and correct Muslims for not being a "religion of peace."

Why can't these infants shut up and leave the thinking to the grown-ups?

December 2, 2006

Rumsfailed: Too Little, Too Late, Too Much For Bush.

Looks like the real reason Donald Rumsfeld got the heave-ho was not his crippling arrogance and incompetence, but it was the fact that he was no longer being a team player:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 — Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,? wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.?

And lookee here, he was even going as far as considering the Democrat's cut-n-run/retreat-n-defeat plan:

To limit the political fallout from shifting course he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.

“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,? he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ?

“Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist,? he added. Mr. Rumsfeld’s memo suggests frustration with the pace of turning over responsibility to the Iraqi authorities; in fact, the memo calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House’s sharpest Democratic critics.

The memo’s discussion of possible troop reduction options offers a counterpoint to Mr. Rumsfeld’s frequent public suggestions that discussions about force levels are driven by requests from American military commanders.

Instead, the memo puts on the table several ideas for troop redeployments or withdrawals that appear to conflict with recent public pronouncements from commanders in Iraq emphasizing the need to maintain troop levels.

As I've already said, Bush already has an exit strategery: to weather out this shitstorm for a couple more years all the while saying how great Eye-Rack is, and having other adults clean up his mess after he leaves. Those who tell him otherwise will need to start printing out their resumes soon.

The Christian Wing Of Hezbollah

Well, if this poll from this August was any indication, this was bound to happen sooner or later:

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 1 — The official goal was to overthrow the government, but the atmosphere was bizarrely festive on Friday as hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters poured into the center of Beirut, banging drums, chanting slogans, pressing shoulder to shoulder as they surged past army troops seeking to keep order.

. . .A recorded message by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, echoed over the square: “As I’ve always promised you victory, I promise you victory again.?

In this fight, the battle lines are not so much ideologically driven as leader driven. Many said they were present because their leaders had asked them to participate, including the few noticeable followers of Gen. Michel Aoun, the Christian whose party is allied with Hezbollah.

“Maybe Michel Aoun has made a mistake with this alliance, but the March 14 forces have made many mistakes over the years,? said Bernadette Chemail, of Kesrun, using the name for the governing coalition. “The Shiites are Lebanese; we cannot throw them away.?

General Aoun was the special guest at the rally and gave a brief speech from a lectern protected by bulletproof glass.

“We seek to return to power — not to rest on the seats of authority, but for the sake of our participation,? General Aoun told the crowd.

On one side of this fight are Hezbollah, its Shiite ally, the Amal party, and its Christian ally, General Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement. Their alliance, which is considered pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian, wants veto power over all government actions. On the other side are the March 14 coalition: Sunni, Druse and Christian parties aligned with the United States and France who control the largest bloc in Parliament, and therefore the government.

General Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah caused a huge split within the Christian community and may have cost him some political support. It was also clear that the Sunni Muslim community, one of the largest in Lebanon, was clearly in support of this government. In a rare show of support, the grand mufti, Muhammad Qabbani, gave the Friday Prayer from inside the Grand Serail.

Do we really need an ally like Israel that unites people of all faiths in the Mideast against us?

December 1, 2006

The New York Times Gets Shrill

The usually boringly dry editorial writers at the Times have written a screeching editorial that calls out Bush for having completely checked out of any management of the shitmire in Eye-Rack. What's remarkable about the editorial is this concluding sentence:

This administration has been orchestrating a foreign policy disaster of epic proportions, and history will remember both that the president failed to hear the warning bells and that many others failed to ring them loudly enough.

Gee, maybe the "others" like the New York Times?

Bush Picks A Side

And it appears that they are going with the winners:

The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.

The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.

Some insiders call the proposal the "80 percent" solution, a term that makes other parties to the White House policy review cringe. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 26 million people.

. . .A decision to step back from reconciliation efforts would also be highly controversial among America's closest allies in the region, which are all Sunni governments. Sunni leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been pressuring the United States to ensure that their brethren are included in Iraq's power structure and economy.

That last paragraph is important because if the Bushelvikis side against the Sunnis, the Saudis will also be forced to pick sides.