« January 2007 | Main | March 2007 »

February 28, 2007

Firing of U.S. Attorneys Were Politically Motivated

Typical:

A political tempest over the mass firing of federal prosecutors escalated yesterday with allegations from the departing U.S. attorney in New Mexico, who said that two members of Congress attempted to pressure him to speed up a probe of Democrats just before the November elections.

David C. Iglesias, who left yesterday after more than five years in office, said he received the calls in October and believes that complaints from the lawmakers may have led the Justice Department to fire him late last year.

Iglesias also responded to allegations from Justice officials that he had performed poorly and was too often absent, citing positive job reviews and data showing increasing numbers of prosecutions. He also noted that he is required to serve 40 days a year in the Navy Reserve.

. . .Iglesias was among seven U.S. attorneys notified by phone on Dec. 7 that they were being fired without explanation. An eighth prosecutor, in Little Rock, also was removed in December, to make room for a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove.

The charges by Iglesias added a new dimension to the ongoing controversy over the fired prosecutors, at least four of whom were presiding over major public-corruption probes. Although other fired prosecutors have publicly defended their records, they have never alleged that political pressure related to an ongoing criminal investigation played a role in their dismissals.

In addition to Iglesias's probe of Democrats, fired prosecutors in Arizona, Nevada and California were conducting corruption probes involving Republicans at the time of their dismissals.

. . .In an interview Tuesday, Iglesias said the two lawmakers called him about a well-known criminal investigation involving a Democratic legislator. He declined to provide their party affiliation, but his comments indicated the callers were Republicans.

New Mexico media outlets reported last year that the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Albuquerque had opened a probe into allegations involving former Democratic state senator Manny Aragon and government construction projects in Bernalillo County. No charges have been filed in the case.

Iglesias said the lawmakers who called him seemed focused on whether charges would be filed before the November elections. He said the calls made him feel "pressured to hurry the subsequent cases and prosecutions" but said he did not receive similar contacts from anyone in the executive branch. He acknowledged he made a mistake by not reporting the calls to the Justice Department.

Referring to the calls, Iglesias said: "I suspect that was the reason I was asked to step down, but I don't know that I'll ever know."

Iglesias said other criticisms of his performance by the Justice Department "are demonstrably untrue statements." He added: "We all have a right to defend our honor. I felt like my honor and the honor of my office was attacked."

Iglesias produced statistics showing that his office's immigration prosecutions had risen more than 78 percent during his tenure and said the office prosecuted record numbers of narcotics and firearms cases as well.

Iglesias cited a January 2006 letter from Michael A. Battle -- the Justice official who fired him -- commending him for "exemplary leadership in the department's priority programs." A November 2005 evaluation obtained by The Washington Post also said Iglesias was "experienced in legal, management and community relations work and was respected by the judiciary, agencies and staff."

Former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, now general counsel for Lockheed Martin, this week praised Iglesias as "one of our finest and someone I had a lot of confidence in as deputy attorney general."

But Roehrkasse said Justice "had a lengthy record from which to evaluate his performance as a manager, and we made our decision not to further extend his service based on performance-related concerns."

Dealing With The Walter Reed Problem

If the administration officials aren't dissembling over how to handle the scandal over how they handled Walter Reed outpatients, they are now playing the omerta game with the soldiers who provided the testimony for the story in the first place:

Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media.

“Some soldiers believe this is a form of punishment for the trouble soldiers caused by talking to the media,? one Medical Hold Unit soldier said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

It is unusual for soldiers to have daily inspections after Basic Training.

Soldiers say their sergeant major gathered troops at 6 p.m. Monday to tell them they must follow their chain of command when asking for help with their medical evaluation paperwork, or when they spot mold, mice or other problems in their quarters.

They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.

. . .The Pentagon also clamped down on media coverage of any and all Defense Department medical facilities, to include suspending planned projects by CNN and the Discovery Channel, saying in an e-mail to spokespeople: “It will be in most cases not appropriate to engage the media while this review takes place,? referring to an investigation of the problems at Walter Reed.

One of these days, the U.S. military must realize it is part of our political democracy, not a freelance player that can make its own rules. If it takes a disastrous loss in Eye-Rack to make them realize such a simple truth, then so be it.

February 27, 2007

What The Standardized Testing Mania Has Wrought.

Oy vey iz mir:

With schools under increasing pressure to improve test scores, Mount Diablo High School has resorted to a new way to motivate students: by race.

The Concord campus on Friday held separate assemblies for students of different ethnicities to talk about last year's test results and the upcoming slew of state exams this spring.

Jazz music and pictures of Martin Luther King greeted African-American students, whereas Filipino, Asian and Pacific Islander students saw flags of their foreign homelands on the walls. Latinos and white students each attended their own events, too, complete with statistics showing results for all ethnicities and grade level.

"They started off by saying jokingly, 'What up, white people,'" said freshman Megan Wiley, 14. Teachers flashed last year's test scores and told the white crowd of students to do better for the sake of their people.

"They got into, 'You should be proud of your race,'" Wiley said. "It was just weird."

Several parents later told the Times that the meetings smacked of segregation resurrected.

"Why did they have to divide the students by race?" said Filipino parent Claddy Dennis, mother of freshman Schenlly Dennis. "In this country, everybody is supposed to be treated equally. It sounds like racism to me."

Principal Bev Hansen said she held the student assemblies by ethnicity this year and last year to avoid one group harassing another based on their test scores. The 1,600-student campus, one of the most ethnically diverse high schools in the Mt. Diablo school district, is roughly half Latino, 30 percent white and 15 percent black, with Asian nationalities rounding out the mix.

Now why would the school do such a boneheaded thing like that? Oh. . .

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools, school districts and states must report and are accountable for scores in reading and math for specific races, English learners, special-education students and economically disadvantaged students. All statistically significant groups must show continuous test score improvement.

"It shows that there's so much pressure to raise test scores that teachers and administrators are trying to do anything they can," [President of the National Center on Education Policy Jack] Jennings said. "Sometimes what they choose is not very wise."

All I have to say about this is, go whites!

Whaddaya Know? Obama IS Black Enough

Yes, the polls done this early before the primaries are almost worth one of the phone calls needed to conduct those polls. But I hope this puts to rest the echo-chamber meme about Barack Obama somehow alienating blacks:

The opening stages of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have produced a noticeable shift in sentiment among African American voters, who little more than a month ago heavily supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton but now favor the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton, of New York, continues to lead Obama and other rivals in the Democratic contest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. But her once-sizable margin over the freshman senator from Illinois was sliced in half during the past month largely because of Obama's growing support among black voters.

. . .Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December, but the changes among black Democrats were dramatic. In December and January Post-ABC News polls, Clinton led Obama among African Americans by 60 percent to 20 percent. In the new poll, Obama held a narrow advantage among blacks, 44 percent to 33 percent. The shift came despite four in five blacks having a favorable impression of the New York senator.

African Americans view Clinton even more positively than they see Obama, but in the time since he launched his campaign, his favorability rating rose significantly among blacks. In the latest poll, 70 percent of African Americans said they had a favorable impression of Obama, compared with 54 percent in December and January.

As I said before, Obama problem is not with black voters, it's with white voters, especially those that vote in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, where the populations of blacks is three and one percent respectively. Once he wins the white voters, he can easily get over with blacks, especially with him being the Democratic candidate.

Thanx A Lot, Club Rappers!

Via Blackprof.com there is a short film by then high schooler Kiri Davis that is refreshingly revealing and brutally honest. The first part she shows a bunch of black girls admitting that among themselves, black is not necessarily beautiful, which explains the hair relaxers, the weaves, the skin bleaching, and lack of attention to dark-skinned girls with natural hair.

The next part, the part that almost made me vomit, the documentarian recreated the famous experiment performed by Dr. Kenneth Johnson where she had black preschoolers choose either the black doll or the white doll. 15 out of the 20 kids chose the white doll, some saying specifically because they are white.

Now why, in this day in age, would black children hate themselves so much? Would it be because they are bombared with these types of images?

tipdrill.jpg
Scene from the Nelly video "Tip Drill"

Yep, the women considered desireable by these horrible rappers are light-skinned and have straight hair. Perhaps they should stop that, but then they would lose their market share among whites.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part III

Linky:

BAGHDAD – A car bomb exploded today near a park popular with young soccer players, killing at least 18 boys in a city west of Baghdad known as a centre of the Sunni insurgency, police said.

The attack occurred just three days after more than 50 people were killed outside a mosque in a nearby village where the imam had spoken out against the group "Al Qaeda in Iraq." pointing to an increasingly bloody attempts to silence its opponents.

But the deaths of the boys, aged 10 to 15, left authorities grasping for a possible motive.

The bomb-rigged car blew apart late this afternoon while the boys were playing in central Ramadi, about 112 kilometres west of Baghdad. Both local police and state television said 18 boys died.

Whack-a-mole anyone?

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part II

Apparently, not so well:

Nearly two weeks into the newest Baghdad security plan, the daily count of murder victims dumped on the city's streets has declined significantly, a likely sign that Shiite Muslim militia groups aligned with the Iraqi government have reined in their members or sent them out of the capital.

But deaths from bombings and mortar attacks, after an initial decline, have returned to the levels of the previous two months, suggesting that the plan's initial measures have had little impact on the Sunni insurgent groups believed to be responsible for most of that violence.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have released only limited information about what steps they've taken to secure the city since the plan's official kickoff on Feb. 15. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told President Bush last week that the plan, dubbed Operation Enforcing the Law, so far had been a "dazzling success." U.S. officials have been more cautious, saying that it may be months before the plan can be labeled a success or a failure.

Statistics compiled from official daily reports of the Interior Ministry and other Iraqi government sources, as well as interviews in 20 Baghdad neighborhoods about the plan's initial measures, however, show that some early judgments are possible about the plan's effectiveness. With most members of Congress expressing skepticism about the plan's prospects for success, such information could prove useful in the debate over Bush's plan to commit a total of 17,500 additional troops to the plan in the coming months.

From Dec. 1, 2006, through Feb. 14, the number of people killed in public places from violent attacks averaged 14.8 a day. From Feb. 15 through Monday, the number declined, but just barely, to 13.8. Car bombs were up slightly, from an average of 1.2 a day to 1.6, while roadside bombs were identical at 1 per day.

Injuries, on average, rose from 40.4 a day to 52.8 since the start of the plan, while bodies dumped by death squads declined from 22.8 a day to 14.6.

The increase in car bombs is particularly troubling. Members of Shiite militias often have cited Sunni car bombings as the driving force for their activities, which include targeting Sunnis for kidnapping and execution. On Sunday, the government announced new measures to stop car bombs, including prohibitions against parking or standing along major streets.

But American officials say such steps could force insurgents to turn to suicide bombers on foot, as they did on Sunday when a woman detonated herself at the predominately Shiite Mustansiriya University, killing nearly 50 people.

The Shiite militias have held back because they've decided to see what the Americans can do with their surge. Now their patience is running short. That is what happens when you have a monkey president appoint a general who doesn't even follow his own advice.

Cheney Not A Casualty In The Waronterra

Are we still winning?

A suicide bomber attacked the entrance to the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan Tuesday during a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, killing up to 23 people and wounding 20 more.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said Cheney was the target.

Talking to reporters later, Cheney said he heard "a loud boom" and was informed by Secret Service agents that there had been an explosion.

Apparently there was an underground bunker where Cheney was kept snug after the terra-ists tried getting to him.

Running The Army Into The Ground

How much longer can this continue?

Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's special training range in California.

They are now making preparations to leave their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question whether that decision means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat.

The desert training was designed specially to prepare soldiers for the challenges of Iraq.

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours.

Update: This story leads to another major story by the San Francisco Chronicle of which apparently everybody missed:

Soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division had so little time between deployments to Iraq they had to cram more than a year's worth of training into four months.

Some had only a few days to learn how to fire their new rifles before they deployed to Iraq -- for the third time -- last month. They had no access to the heavily armored vehicles they will be using in Iraq, so they trained on a handful of old military trucks instead. And some soldiers were assigned to the brigade so late that they had no time to train in the United States at all. Instead of the yearlong training recommended prior to deployment, they prepared for war during the two weeks they spent in Kuwait, en route to Anbar, Iraq's deadliest province.

As the Pentagon prepares to boost troop levels in Iraq by 21,500 people, such logistical and training hurdles are emblematic of the struggles besieging a military strained by unexpectedly long and grueling commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's happening just about to all the units now," said Lawrence Korb, who oversaw military manpower and logistics as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. "No unit is completely combat ready."

. . .It also leaves the troops in the United States to train on equipment that is often completely different from the gear they will be using in Iraq. For example, the 2-7 battalion had to train on obsolete models of humvees that are no longer used in Iraq, said Crissman, the battalion commander.

"We trained with a smaller set of equipment, and I will admit that presented some challenges," Crissman told The Chronicle before his unit left for Iraq.

The 2-7 also had no time to train at Fort Irwin in California's Mojave Desert, where Arabic-speaking role players and trainers simulate conditions of battling Iraqi insurgents. Instead, they conducted a three-week exercise in the forest of towering pines and oaks hung with Spanish moss outside the division's base at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Such deficiencies decrease the level of troop readiness, said Korb.

"There's gonna be more killed and wounded," he said, "because they are just not ready."

February 26, 2007

Next On FAUX Nooze, More Annapalooza

These shitbirds can't be anymore transparent. FAUX Nooze host John Gibson admits that he believes people are "weary" of the news coverage of his favorite shitmire, so he is working to distract his idiot viewers from the problems in Eye-Rack by broadcasting the sad pageantry that is the struggle over Anna Nicole's not-yet-even-cold body.

[CLIP ANDERSON COOPER] There’s a war on, there’s a war on, there’s a war on.

GIBSON: My complaint about this is what you’re listening to when you hear that guy lecture the audience, is you’re listening to news-guy snobbery. Essentially saying, “I’m better than you. I know what you want to hear about, but I’m better than that story. I’m too high class for that story. I won’t stoop to what you want to hear about.?

I’m not playing that. People want to hear about the Anna Nicole story, I’m happy to tell them.

And Democrats wants FAUX to darken their doors and allow these bullshit artists to cover their debates? Christ help me.

Condi Beating The Dead Godwin Horse

Secretary of State Rice once again disgraces her office by implying that critics of the Bush administration's failed war in Eye-Rack are somehow Nazi appeasers or something, I can't quite make out what she's saying.

But still, she wishes it was WWII, because this war would be over by now.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part I

*Sigh*

BAGHDAD, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A blast at an Iraqi ministry during a ceremony attended by Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi killed six people on Monday but the vice president was unhurt, a ministry employee and police said.

Police said six people had been killed and 31 wounded. The employee said he had seen four dead bodies.

Two police sources said the blast happened inside a hall at the time Abdul-Mahdi, a Shi'ite leader, was at the Public Works Ministry building.

February 25, 2007

Sharpton's Family Owned By Thurmond's Family; Thurmond's Relatives Deny It

Wow. . . just, wow:

In a revelation that will stun the nation, the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of America's most powerful black leaders, has unearthed a shattering family secret - his ancestors were slaves owned by relatives of the late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond.

It is an ironic twist of fate that inexorably links one of the most vocal civil rights activists and an icon of Deep South segregation.

A team of some of the country's most trusted genealogists spent two weeks examining Sharpton's family background.

Sharpton learned the results of their work this week. Today, in the first part of a Daily News series, Sharpton talks about the emotional shock of learning how his family was so closely linked to a man who embodied everything he despises.

The Rev. Al Sharpton sat silently in the sanctity of his Manhattan radio studio as his family's roots were laid bare before him.

Of course, when confronted with the direct burden of slavery, the sons and daughters of the Confederacy seek to distance themselves:

Relatives of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond greeted news of the family's shocking connection to the Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday with some nervous chuckles and one outright denial.

"That's a bunch of baloney," said Barry Bishop, the son of one of Thurmond's sisters.

"I've never heard anything about it," said Bishop, of Greenville, S.C.

"Well, have you seen documents?" he asked.

When told that genealogists from Ancestry.com had located historic documents that confirmed that Sharpton's great-grandfather Coleman Sharpton was enslaved by Thurmond relatives in the 1800s, Bishop responded, "Since I don't know anything about it, I'm afraid I can't comment."

Typical.

Another Painted School

Whatta surge:

A suicide bomber killed at least 41 people and wounded another 46 outside a university in northeast Baghdad on Sunday.

Iraq's interior ministry said the bomber was wearing a vest packed with explosives.

He detonated the bomb when guards stopped him near the entrance to the business studies school, which is part of Mustansiriyah University, police said.

February 24, 2007

The Dagger Is Already Whetted

Glenn Greenwald is showing appropriate consternation at the biased and unflattering media narrative being perpetrated agains the congressional Democrats who want to end the war. As he says, it's just maddening how the majority of the country, including majorities of the Democrats and independents, favor bringing the troops home as soon as possible, but they are still marginalized by the mainstream media as the "anti-war left".

But that is exactly why it will be counterproductive in the long run to put an end to this war on our own terms. According to this nation's dolchstosslegende, it is the dirty fucking hippie liberals in Congress who prevented us from enjoying glorious, glorious victory over the gooks in Vietnam, and if the Democrats attempt to do the "right thing" and nip this disaster in the bud, they will be blamed for denying this country glorious, glorious victory over the sand niggers. Then at some future date, some jumped-up johnny nationalistic politician will convince us, again, that we can dominate completely some third world country for some bullshit reason, and even more of our soldiers and even more innocent civilians will be slaughtered. The political reporters have already put the bullet in the chamber and are ready to squeeze once we submit to our better angels. Since it is obvious that the elite political class prefers the war to continue unabated, we should give them what they want and all the consequences that follows.

February 22, 2007

The Broken Army

Maybe they can just share the firearms:

The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

. . .“We’re behind the power curve, and we can’t piddle around,? Maj. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, said in an interview. He added that one-third of his soldiers lacked the M-4 rifles preferred by active-duty soldiers and that there were also shortfalls in night vision goggles and other equipment. If his unit is going to be sent to Iraq next year, he said, “We expect the Army to resource the Guard at the same level as active-duty units.?

. . .Capt. Christopher Heathscott, a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, said the state’s 39th Brigade Combat Team was 600 rifles short for its 3,500 soldiers and also lacked its full arsenal of mortars and howitzers.

Oh yeah, I forgot: ARMY STRAWNG!

Soldier Found Guilty Of Rape-Murder of Iraqi Girl, Anna Nicole Is Still Dead

If only this type of news was on the air twenty-four/seven:

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A U.S. soldier was sentenced to 100 years in prison Thursday for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family last year.

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, of Barstow, Calif., was also given a dishonorable discharge. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years under the terms of the plea agreement.

The military judge hearing the case, Col. Stephen R. Henley, issued a sentence of life in prison without parole, the maximum for the charges. Under military law, the defendant is given the lesser sentence unless he violates terms of the plea agreement.

Earlier Thursday, tears rolled down Cortez's face as he apologized for the rape and murders. He said he could not explain why he took part.

"I still don't have an answer," Cortez told the judge. "I don't know why. I wish I hadn't. The lives of four innocent people were taken. I want to apologize for all of the pain and suffering I have caused the al-Janabi family."

Kinda puts this story in a more troubling perspective, doesn't it?

"We Must Fight Them Over There. . ."

Mother Jones has a major new issue out where they examine the Eye-Rack war, it's factions and it's effects. If there's one thing anyone should take out of it, it is that the Eye-Rack war did nothing about worldwide terrorism. In fact, if anything, it only made it much, much worse.

iraqterrorism.gif

Of course, Eye-Rack and Afghanistan are both jihadistans of terrorism, a militant's practice ground for waging war on crusaders, Jews and apostates, so they don't count. The rest of the world, however, still experienced a 35 percent rise in attacks and a 12 percent rise in fatalities from those attacks.

If that weren't enough, it turns out the Bushies are lying about their effectiveness in waging their waronterra (PDF):

Nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics reported by the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI from the September 11 attacks until early 2005 had some inaccuracies, the department's inspector general said on Tuesday.

. . .The report found that only two out of 26 statistics were accurate after reviewing the number of terrorism convictions in the 2003 and 2004 financial years, the number of convictions or guilty pleas from September 11, 2001, through February 3, 2005, and the number of terrorist threats tracked by the FBI in 2003 and 2004.

"We found many cases involving offenses such as immigration violations, marriage fraud, or drug trafficking where department officials provided no evidence to link the subject of the case to terrorist activity," the report said.

Keeping us safe from terra-ists? Hell, they can't even tell the goddamn truth about it.

February 21, 2007

Ellison, Not You Too. . .

Here we are, literally 22 months before the election, and new Congressman Keith Ellison is already doubling down on his favorite horse:

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said on Tuesday that he is backing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in his campaign for president. "Not because he's black," said Ellison, who is black. "That's identity politics. I reject identity politics.

"He speaks with a unifying spirit," Ellison said.

Speaking to a Black History Month lunch-hour event for about 100 employees at Star Tribune headquarters in Minneapolis, Ellison said he supports Obama's message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.

Well, at least he can certainly do a lot worse than Barack Obama.

Walter Reed Story Already Told Two Years Ago

The jokers at the Pentagon are having fits over the pair of bombshell stories in the Washington Post over the mistreatment and neglect of injured outpatient military personnel at the Walter Reed Hospital complex. Sorry boys, but you really fucked the dog on this, especially since this story was reported two years ago by Salon:

They shouldn't have been so surprised. In early 2005, Salon brought to the attention of Walter Reed officials disturbing information based on interviews, medical records and other Army documents which showed that soldiers receiving outpatient treatment for mental wounds were suffering from a shocking pattern of neglect. At that time, Walter Reed officials refused to discuss Salon's findings. Instead, they issued a statement saying it just wasn't so: "We are satisfied that there is a very high level of patient satisfaction with their treatment," the statement read.

In early 2006, Salon alerted Army and Walter Reed officials of a very similar set of concerns: some soldiers with traumatic brain injuries were not being screened, identified or treated. They were falling through the cracks. The Army and the hospital declined to talk with Salon about those issues, this time citing privacy concerns of patients. "I cannot arrange an interview," Lt. Col. Kevin V. Arata, an Army public affairs officer, wrote in an e-mail. In a separate written statement to Salon, Walter Reed said they had a good program to take care of brain injuries.

I guess when the Eye-Rackee shitmire has gone to shit, it's easier to expose how goddamn incompetent our millitary leaders are.

February 19, 2007

Guess Who's Back

The New York Times has a feature about Bush's failed Waronterra:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 — Senior leaders of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistan have re-established significant control over their once-battered worldwide terror network and over the past year have set up a band of training camps in the tribal regions near the Afghan border, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.

American officials said there was mounting evidence that Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, had been steadily building an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan. Until recently, the Bush administration had described Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri as detached from their followers and cut off from operational control of Al Qaeda.

The United States has also identified several new Qaeda compounds in North Waziristan, including one that officials said might be training operatives for strikes against targets beyond Afghanistan.

American analysts said recent intelligence showed that the compounds functioned under a loose command structure and were operated by groups of Arab, Pakistani and Afghan militants allied with Al Qaeda. They receive guidance from their commanders and Mr. Zawahri, the analysts said. Mr. bin Laden, who has long played less of an operational role, appears to have little direct involvement.

Officials said the training camps had yet to reach the size and level of sophistication of the Qaeda camps established in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But groups of 10 to 20 men are being trained at the camps, the officials said, and the Qaeda infrastructure in the region is gradually becoming more mature.

. . .Since 2001, members of various militant groups in Pakistan have increased their cooperation with one another in the tribal areas, according to American analysts.

The analysts said that North Waziristan became a hub of militant activity last year, after President Musharraf negotiated a treaty with tribal leaders in the area. He pledged to pull troops back to barracks in the area in exchange for tribal leaders’ ending support for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but officials in Washington and Islamabad conceded that the agreement had been a failure.

During a news conference days before last November’s elections, President Bush said of the campaign against Al Qaeda: “Absolutely, we’re winning. Al Qaeda is on the run.?

But in a speech several days ago, Mr. Bush painted a more sober picture of Al Qaeda’s current strength, especially inside Pakistan.

“Taliban and Al Qaeda figures do hide in remote regions of Pakistan,? Mr. Bush said. “This is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West. And these folks hide and recruit and launch attacks.?

Officials said that both American and foreign intelligence services had collected evidence leading them to conclude that at least one of the camps in Pakistan might be training operatives capable of striking Western targets. A particular concern is that the camps are frequented by British citizens of Pakistani descent who travel to Pakistan on British passports.

In a speech in November, the director general of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, said that terrorist plots in Britain “often have links back to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.? She said that “through those links, Al Qaeda gives guidance and training to its largely British foot soldiers here on an extensive and growing scale.?

If only we took this operation as seriously as Bosnia. . .

February 18, 2007

Putting The Cart Before The Horse

surge.jpg

Friday:

Maliki Hails Lull in Violence; Iraq Security Plan Showing 'Fabulous Success,' Bush Is Told

BAGHDAD, Feb. 16 -- The relative lull in violence is a promising sign that the Baghdad security plan is off to a good start, the Iraqi prime minister said yesterday, while a top U.S. military official cautioned that it might be a temporary letup as militant organizations assess the new measures and gear up to fight back.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured President Bush that the three-day-old plan "has achieved fabulous success," according to an account of the conversation released by the prime minister's office. Speaking by secure video link-up, Maliki also told Bush that officials will be "firm in dealing with any side that breaks the law, regardless" of their sect.

Sunday:

Car Bombs Kill 60 at Market in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Monday, Feb. 19 — Two days after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called the opening steps of the security crackdown here a “dazzling success,? two car bombs tore through a crowded market on Sunday and killed at least 60 people.

The attack occurred only minutes after American soldiers passed through the area on patrol, underscoring the difficult nature of trying to quell violence on Baghdad’s streets, where car bombs have been an almost daily occurrence and suicide attacks directed at civilians so common that many of the markets have been closed to vehicle traffic in recent days.

The blasts on Sunday occurred in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, devastating an open-air market, setting dozens of cars ablaze and causing the partial collapse of a two-story building that housed several electronics stores.

The street was littered with charred televisions, satellite dishes and small generators. Shattered blue tiles and glass and blood were trampled as the survivors of the attack tried to rush more than 131 wounded people to the hospital. They wrapped the dead in rugs and blankets and whatever else they could find.

The explosions occurred within seconds of each other, according to witnesses, and were likely detonated in cars already parked in the area, according to Iraqi officials.

BTW, didn't anyone recognize that the acronym for the new Baghdad escalation, Operation Imposing Law, spells "OIL"?

February 17, 2007

Where Atrios Outscoops The Media

In the first post, Atrios links to a story posted on Americablog where we have John McCave trying to appease the fundyclowns by supporting abstinence-only education. He asks the right question the media should be asking but are afraid to: did the New John McCain actually save his virginity before marriage?

Few posts later, we find the answer to the question: he was a he-man navy guy out of the academy who's out exploring and experiencing the world, what the fuck do YOU think?

February 15, 2007

It's Time We Ban Sexual Moralists From Our Schools

This is what passes for sex ed these days?

In the matter of the "gum game" -- the yucky attempt in Montgomery County schools to impress upon teenagers the dangers of sexual promiscuity by asking them to share a piece of gum -- all involved now appear to be appalled at themselves.

"In hindsight, it's gross and disgusting," says Gail Tierney, founder and head of the Rockville Pregnancy Center, the evangelical, antiabortion clinic that taught abstinence classes to thousands of Montgomery schoolchildren until the gum hit the fan.

"It's a disgusting, gross exercise that no adult should have asked a child to do, no matter what the purpose," says Brian Edwards, spokesman for the county school system, which has now banned the Pregnancy Center from public classrooms.

Via Thinkprogress.

Gee, That Wasn't Too Hard, Was It?

Darren Bernard puts out the rare column whose contents I largely agree with. Schools shouldn't ban portrayals of certain works like Huckleberry Finn, Heart of Darkness or To Kill A Mockingbird because they expose the ugly realities of what happened in the past that might offend overly sensitive people. And they shouldn't ban A Catcher In The Rye because it contains naughty words.

But I still have a couple of quibbles, first this graf discussing Heart of Darkness:

There might not be much chance of a return to colonial times, but the ethnic and religious ills of even developed societies should make people think twice about sweeping the lessons of the past under a carpet of political correctness.

I think we can all safely assume that the Eye-Rack war is an imperialist adventure in all but name. The supporters could be heard during the run-up to the war and the early parts of the occupation telling us it would be downright RACIST not to give these poor Eye-Rackees their democratic utopia free of Saddam. Now that things have gone to hell, those same people, including Bernard, have settled for the tired old tactic of victim-blaming the uncivilized natives.

Also Bernard claims that shielding people from racially insensitive texts will lead them to think words like "nigger" are perfectly okay to say in polite company, pointing to the plethora of rap music that use that term as proof. Well, that may be true of white people, but blacks have used that word among themselves knowing perfectly well the ugliness and animus behind that word.

But other than that, pretty damn good.

"Bigots"

If we had an honest media, Donahue would never have a forum outside his newsletter.

To be fair, though, the Left Behind series is expressly, unapologetically and apparently homicidally anti-Catholic.

Kids These Days

HAH!

While the House of Representatives debated weighty matters of war and peace yesterday, President Bush headed to the YMCA.

In a brightly lighted basement gym, he visited children bending paperclips into different shapes and urged Americans to volunteer as mentors. He talked not of armies in Iraq but of "armies of compassion" at home. Even the kids seemed confused. One asked why he came. "I came to see you," the president responded. As the cameras clicked away, a 7-year-old boy made peace signs. "Put your hands down," Bush chided playfully.

. . .He observed four activity stations where youngsters were being guided by adult mentors, including one station where they disemboweled a computer. As Bush chatted with some children, other youngsters were overheard by a pool reporter.

"He's my favorite president," one said.

"My favorite president is President Obama," another replied.

"Who's that?"

"He's the first black president.

Via TAPPED.

February 14, 2007

And It Begins

Vietnamese and Somali refugees will have nothing on the number of Iraqis settling here:

Moving to address the flood of refugees fleeing war-torn Iraq, the Bush administration and the United Nations have developed a plan that would bring several thousand of them to the United States over the next 10 months, officials familiar with discussions of the plan say.

Under the plan, which is expected to be formally unveiled this week, the United Nations began its first large-scale screening this month of Iraqis who have fled to Syria and Jordan since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It hopes to register 135,000 to 200,000 of them to determine which Iraqis have fled persecution at home and would be eligible for refugee status.

The United Nations expects 13,000 to 20,000 Iraqis to be deemed eligible for resettlement abroad. The United States hopes to resettle at least 5,000 of that group this year, with the first arriving in late spring or summer. United Nations and Bush administration officials emphasize that those figures may change if conditions change in Iraq and neighboring countries.

Advocates for the refugees welcomed the plan but said too few people would be helped.

Like I said before, all you anti-Muslim bigots who wanted this war because you hate A-rabs, swallow your damn pride and learn to live with your mistakes.

February 13, 2007

Welcome To The Police State

But at least it's OUR police state:

The Iraqi government on Tuesday ordered tens of thousands of Baghdad residents to leave homes they are occupying illegally, in a surprising and highly challenging effort to reverse the tide of sectarian cleansing that has left the capital bloodied and Balkanized.

In a televised speech, Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the new crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the setup of new checkpoints run by the Defense and Interior Ministries, both of which General Qanbar said he now controlled.

He said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.

. . .Samantha Power, a public policy professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government who has written widely on genocide, described the plan as either a public relations ploy that would never be enforced, or worse, a prelude to more sectarian cleansing and catastrophe.

“To do this in the middle of a war when tempers have been inflamed and militarization is ubiquitous seems to be putting the cart before the horse,? she said. “You haven’t stopped the willingness to ethnically cleanse, but you’re imposing the moral hazard of ethnic cleansing on the cleansee? Unless you create security first, you are paving the way for a potential massacre of returnees.?

But Gays Still Can't Enlist?

Army STRAWNG!

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called “moral waivers? to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army’s moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent.

Waivers for less serious crimes like traffic offenses and drug use have dropped or remained stable.

. . .While soldiers with criminal histories made up only 11.7 percent of the Army recruits in 2006, the spike in waivers raises concerns about whether the military is making too many exceptions to try to meet its recruitment demands in a time of war. Most felons, for example, are not permitted to carry firearms, and many criminals have at some point exhibited serious lapses in discipline and judgment, traits that are far from ideal on the battlefield.

In all, over 125,000 people with criminal histories have enlisted in the armed forces during the last three years, and as the article says, the military is often an avenue for an individual bereft of options after being convicted of a crime, and there is evidence that those with moral waivers have higher re-enlistment rates (again probably tied to the fact that their criminal histories is a limiting factor in their futures). Also I do believe that people shouldn't be automatically barred from the military, or any other profession for that matter, after they have served their debt to society. How could they rehabilitate if they are shunned?

That being said, this increase in recruiting those with criminal records does signal the fact that the Eye-Rack war is robbing the military of warm bodies, and nothing else.

Flori-DUH.

It is a given fact that a lot of teenagers like to have sex like rabbits. It is a fact of life, that's why there's no law against it, (at least not outside of Jawja).

But apparently if the kids take pictures of themselves enagaing in a sex act in the state of Florida, they've committed a felony:

Combine unsupervised teenagers, digital cameras and e-mail, and, given sufficient time, you'll end up with risque photographs on a computer somewhere.

There's a problem with that: Technically, those images constitute child pornography. That's what 16-year-old Amber and 17-year-old Jeremy, her boyfriend, both residents of the Tallahassee, Fla., area, learned firsthand. (Court documents include only their initials, A.H. and J.G.W., so we're using these pseudonyms to make this story a little easier to read.)

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next--perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm--but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

That's right, in order to protect these kids, we must arrest them and try them as sex offenders.

Morons.

West Point Dean To 24 Creator Joel Surnow: "Stop It."

Apparently anticipating a recent report that says that torture doesn't work and interrogators are too influenced by torture scenes presented in the popular media (i.e. 24) Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan and four others went to meet with the producers of 24 in November in order to tell them to quit using that fanciful shortcut that never works in real life to resolve crises, or if they have to, show the consequences of such actions:

"People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they've just seen," said Tony Lagouranis, who was a U.S. Army interrogator in Iraq and attended the meeting.

"The kids see it, and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about '24'?" Finnegan said.

. . .Joe Navarro, an FBI interrogation expert who was at the meeting, said he wouldn't want anyone like Bauer on his team. "Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected," he said. "You don't want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems."

Welp, Joel Surnow, the series right-wing producer, remains unconvinced that torture is a failed policy whose only end is to create republics of fear ruled by depraved maniacs:

The show's co-creator and executive director, Joel Surnow, 52, a self-described "right-wing nut," seemed stunned by the complaints, but gave no hint that the torture scenes would be toned down - or shown not to work. "We've had all of these torture experts come by recently, and they say, 'You don't realize how many people are affected by this. Be careful,'" Surnow conceded. "But I don't believe that."

Eh, who can blame him. Apparently he only giving the people what they want.

FAUX News: Completely Without Merit

John Amato at Crooks and Liars highlights a comment made by Rupert Murdoch that would be extraordinary if the content wasn't already known by those whose intelligence exceeds that of a sulfur mollusk:

Asked if his News Corp. managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq, Murdoch said: "No, I don't think so. We tried." Asked by Rose for further comment, he said: "We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East…but we have been very critical of his execution."

Sure, but what do you expect from a network that gives in and pays money to terrorists?

February 9, 2007

"F*@king Stupidest Guy On The Face Of The Earth"

The above quote was what fellow fuckup of the Afghan War and Eye-Rack invasion General Tommy Frank said about former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith as reported by the weathervane journalist Bob Woodward in his hagiographic book Plan of Attack.

Today, Walter Pincus, one of the few reporter who didn't have a thumb up his ass during the run-up to the war, reports that the same Douglas Feith, the one who was running a parallel intelligence gathering operation out of the Pentagon, "the stovepipe", for the express purpose of finding ANY kind of information to justify the war, whether it's real or not, is now saying that he never actually believed any of the bullshit that was bubbling up:

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith's activities as "an alternative intelligence assessment process."

. . .In a telephone interview yesterday, Feith emphasized the inspector general's conclusion that his actions, described in the report as "inappropriate," were not unlawful. "This was not 'alternative intelligence assessment,' " he said. "It was from the start a criticism of the consensus of the intelligence community, and in presenting it I was not endorsing its substance."

Someone put some handcuffs on these criminals please. It's embarrassing that they are breathing outside air.

Via Kevin Drum.

Update: Marty Kaplan has it exactly right on Big Media's priorities concerning the Bush Administration lying their way into an unwinnable war:

If Doug Feith looked like Courtney Love's bad dream of Marilyn Monroe, would the cable "news" networks clear their schedules when evidence of his manipulation of pre-war intelligence hit the wires? If "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth," as Gen. Tommy Franks called Feith, were a now-dead Playmate, would Wolf go wall-to-wall with the story of the neocon Fifth Column within the Pentagon?

What would it take for "Today" to pay as much attention to the silent coup that lied us into Iraq -- Wolfowitz in a platinum wig? Perle in a paternity suit? Cheney in methadone rehab a diaper? MSM: RIP.

February 8, 2007

Happy Jonah Goldberg Day

werewinning.gif

As Matthew Yglesias reminds us, today is the two year deadline for Jonah Goldberg to make good on his ill-conceived and scornful bet he made with Juan Cole over the outcome of the Eye-Rack war:

Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.

. . .One caveat: Because I don't think it's right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I'll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.

Ah, that little oh so unnecessary insinuation that Juan Cole is in league with terrorists would have made the vindication ever so sweet. But apart from the dire ramifications the willful ignorance of Goldberg and his kind will have on this nation and the Middle East, the real winner here is Goldberg. In the two years between his offer and now when he has conceded that he was utterly, utterly wrong, Goldberg has managed to land on his feet with a cushy opinion-writing berth in the Los Angeles Times, pushing out liberal mainstay Robert Scheer in the process. Juan Cole, on the other hand, was a victim of a neocon smear campaign that successfully blocked his move to what was once considered to be a prestigious post at Yale. The lesson here is that because of the powers that be, even if you are right, you still lose.

NEWSFLASH! Debating The War Doesn't Endanger The Troops Says General

The soldiers are not babies who aren't able to fight a war and listen to the debate at home. And the enemy, whoever the fuck it is, doesn't give two shits if we support the war or not. They just want us out of their damn country So will two-bit hackjobs like Lieberman just STFU already?

Pace: As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported.

Gates: I think they’re [the troops are] sophisticated enough to understand that that’s what the debate’s really about.

Got that? Now crawl back to your caves.

We Do Need To Talk About The War

I generally avoided the kabuki theater that was the battle over whether we get to debate the war in Eye-Rack as it stands as so much raw, uncut bullshit that talking about it will only diminish me further. Apparently John Warner sponsored a weak-kneed, non-binding resolution whether or not to agree with Bush's Surge™ (but not whether the war was a stupid fucking idea in the first place), and a few other Republican Senators such as Hagel and Bob Smith of Oregon feel some discomfort about the war. But the rest of the rat bastard Republicans want to block discussion of any resolution by holding a filibuster, and every Republican except for Coleman and Susan Collins voted against cloture.

That's right, Chuck Hagel is all talk but no action and Warner voted against his own resolution.

But that's not the best part. Seems that the media reported this act of utter spinelessness and legislative dysfunction in a way that cast a rather bad light on the Republicans, especially the vulnerable ones who are up for re-election. Seven Republican Senators, five of whom voted against cloture, signed a letter whining that they weren't allowed to debate the war EVEN THOUGH THEY VOTED NOT TO DEBATE THE WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE. Perhaps they were swayed by this testimony by Peter Pace.

February 7, 2007

Worst Than Civil War

I admit that I've been dilatory in highlighting the conclusions of the NIE released during the Friday-night dump, but it should put to rest the debate over whether Eye-Rack is in a state of civil war:

Iraq is unraveling at an accelerating rate, and even if U.S. and Iraqi forces can slow the spreading violence, the country's fragile government is unlikely to deliver stability to its people during the next year, according to a much-anticipated assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The report, titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," catalogs an array of forces pulling the country apart and concludes that to call the situation a civil war "does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict" because the causes of violence are so varied.

Didja all hear that? Ken Burns couldn't even begin to make a documentary covering all the angles of this shitstorm of a clusterfuck.

But what about The Surge™?

Soldiers on the ground agree: no amount of escalation is going to stop the trend:

Soldiers interviewed across east Baghdad, home to more than half the city's 8 million people, said the violence is so out of control that while a surge of 21,500 more American troops may momentarily suppress it, the notion that U.S. forces can bring lasting security to Iraq is misguided.

Lt. Hardy and his men of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., patrol an area southeast of Sadr City, the stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

A map in Hardy's company headquarters charts at least 50 roadside bombs since late October, and the lieutenant recently watched in horror as the blast from one killed his Humvee's driver and wounded two other soldiers in a spray of blood and shrapnel.

Soldiers such as Hardy must contend not only with an escalating civil war between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but also with insurgents on both sides who target U.S. forces.

"We can go get into a firefight and empty out ammo, but it doesn't accomplish much," said Pvt. 1st Class Zach Clouser, 19, of York, Pa. "This isn't our war - we're just in the middle."

Almost every foot soldier interviewed during a week of patrols on the streets and alleys of east Baghdad said that Bush's plan would halt the bloodshed only temporarily. The soldiers cited a variety of reasons, including incompetence or corruption among Iraqi troops, the complexities of Iraq's sectarian violence and the lack of Iraqi public support, a cornerstone of counterinsurgency warfare.

"They can keep sending more and more troops over here, but until the people here start working with us, it's not going to change," said Sgt. Chance Oswalt, 22, of Tulsa, Okla.

Expect things to go umistakably to hell come this summer.

Nut-Picklering

Nedra Picker, who hails from the "they fail to mention. . ." school of opinionated political "journalism" is now playing stenographer to known bigot Bill Donahue in order to trash the John Edwards presidential campaign.

Via Glenn Greenwald.

February 6, 2007

Fuggit. Give Them The War.

I've said before that if Democrats and liberals try to be the responsible adults and end this abortion of a war they will get nothing but blame for denying this country its glorious, glorious victory over the mud-slims. Kevin Drum, who inspired my current position, points to this Weekly Standard article as Exhibit A for the coming neocon backlash if the dirty fucking hippies don't shut up and clap harder:

[If] the surge is seen to fail, they will be the ones who made it more difficult, demoralized the armed forces, kneecapped the commander, and telegraphed to the enemy that our will was cracking, and we would shortly be leaving.

The Democrats have also given Bush a partial alibi for a possible failure -- he tried, but at a critical moment they threw in the towel. This argument would be plausible enough to attract support from a great many people.

If these clowns want to learn the hard way, then so be it.

Bush At 32 (Gallup)

Loser.

February 3, 2007

No, He Doesn't Give A F**K Any More

About you or his presidency:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 — More and more Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay higher premiums for coverage of prescription drugs and doctors’ services under President Bush’s 2008 budget, to be unveiled on Monday.

Single people with annual incomes over $80,000 and married couples with incomes over $160,000 already have to pay higher premiums for the part of Medicare that covers doctors’ services. The income thresholds rise with inflation.

Budget documents show that Mr. Bush will propose a similar surcharge on premiums for Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit. In addition, the president will ask Congress to “eliminate annual indexing of income thresholds,? so that more people would eventually have to pay the higher premiums.

The proposal, expected to raise $10 billion over the next five years, is one of many advanced by Mr. Bush in a $2.8 trillion budget that aims to eliminate the deficit by 2012.

In his budget request, Mr. Bush expresses alarm about what he calls “the unsustainable growth of federal entitlement programs,? and he proposes savings in Medicare and Medicaid that far surpass what he or any other president has sought.

The president contends that he can make the rule changes without any action by Congress. But Congress could try to block some or all of the changes.

Really?

Sunni-Shiite Split in U.S. Is Widened by Iraq’s Shadow

DEARBORN, Mich. — Twice recently, vandals have shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses popular among Shiite Muslims along Warren Avenue, the spine of the Arab community here.

Although the police have arrested no one, most in Dearborn’s Iraqi Shiite community blame the Sunni Muslims.

“The Shiites were very happy that they killed Saddam, but the Sunnis were in tears,? Aqeel Al-Tamimi, 34, an immigrant Iraqi truck driver and a Shiite, said as he ate roasted chicken and flatbread at Al-Akashi restaurant, one of the establishments damaged over the city line in Detroit. “These people look at us like we sold our country to America.?

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities, and have been blamed for events including vandalism and student confrontations. Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam.

Long before the vandalism in Dearborn and Detroit, feuds had been simmering on some college campuses. Some Shiite students said they had faced repeated discrimination, like being formally barred by the Sunni-dominated Muslim Student Association from leading prayers. At numerous universities, Shiite students have broken away from the association, which has dozens of chapters nationwide, to form their own groups.

“A microcosm of what is happening in Iraq happened in New Jersey because people couldn’t put aside their differences,? said Sami Elmansoury, a Sunni Muslim and former vice president of the Islamic Society at Rutgers University, where there has been a sharp dispute.

Though the war in Iraq is one crucial cause, some students and experts on sectarianism also attribute the fissure to the significant growth in the Muslim American population over the past few decades.

Before, most major cities had only one mosque and everyone was forced to get along. Now, some Muslim communities are so large that the majority Sunnis and minority Shiites maintain their own mosques, schools and social clubs. Many Muslim students first meet someone from the other branch of their faith at college. The Shiites constitute some 15 percent of the world’s more than 1.3 billion Muslims, and are believed to be proportionally represented among America’s estimated six million Muslims.

Sectarian tensions mushroomed during the current Muslim month of Muharram. The first 10 days ended on Tuesday with Ashura, the day when Shiites commemorate the death of Hussein, who was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and who was killed during the bloody seventh-century disputes over who would rule the faithful, a schism that gave birth to the Sunni and Shiite factions.

The Shiites and the Sunnis part company over who has the right to rule and interpret scripture. Shiites hold that only descendants of Mohammad can be infallible and hence should rule. Sunnis allow a broader group, as long as there is consensus among religious scholars.

Many Shiites mark Ashura with mourning processions that include self-flagellation or rhythmic chest beating, echoing the suffering of the seventh-century Hussein. As several thousand Shiites marched up Park Avenue in Manhattan on Jan. 28 to mark Ashura, the march’s organizers handed out a flier describing his killing as “the first major terrorist act.? Sunnis often decry Ashura marches as a barbaric, infidel practice.

Last year, a Sunni student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor sent a screed against Ashura to the Muslim Student Association’s e-mail message list. The document had been taken off SunniPath.com, one of many Web sites of Islamic teachings that Shiite students said regularly spread hate disguised as religious scholarship.

Azmat Khan, a 21-year-old senior and political science major, said that she, like other Shiites on campus, was sometimes asked whether she was a real Muslim.

“To some extent, the minute you identify yourself as a Shiite, it outs you,? Ms. Khan said. “You feel marginalized.?

Yet some Shiite students said they were reluctant to speak up because they felt that Islam was under assault in the United States, so internal tension would only undermine much-needed unity among Muslims. At the same time, the students said, the ideas used by some Sunnis to label Shiites as heretics need to be confronted because they underlie jihadi radicalism.

Fuck you Bush. Fuck you very much.

Petraeus *hearts* Mercs

God help us:

The Defense Department plans to continue hiring private contractors to provide security at reconstruction projects in Iraq and to train U.S. and Iraqi military officers in counterinsurgency, despite problems with past contracts for such jobs that traditionally have been done by military personnel.

The contracting out of these wartime activities comes at a time when the United States is stretching its resources to provide the additional 21,500 troops in Iraq that are needed under President Bush's new strategy, which involves stepped-up counterinsurgency operations in Baghdad and the expansion of economic reconstruction activities.

During an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new top commander in Iraq, said he counts the "thousands of contract security forces" among the assets available to him to supplement the limited number of U.S. and Iraqi troops to be used for dealing with the insurgency.

A former senior Defense Intelligence Agency expert on the Middle East, retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, said last week that contracting out intelligence collection and security for Army units and their contractors "results from actual military forces being too small." He added: "I can't remember a subordinate commander considering mercenaries as part of his forces."

Under the new contract now out for bids, the winner is to monitor all convoys, maintain a Web site, provide "Iraq-wide unclassified daily reports," as well as "provide relevant and timely intel/ops reports throughout Iraq" -- referring to intelligence/operations reports.

The U.S. government will provide about 134 vehicles, primarily sport-utility vehicles, but also armored personnel carriers. The government will also furnish weapons and ammunition, but the contractor must identify the people to whom the weapons will be issued. Employees will have access to government dining facilities and post exchanges, "where available," and will be entitled to "acute medical and dental services to include medical evacuation under emergency circumstances . . . at no cost" while they are "in theater."

Another contract up for bids is the operation of the Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence (COIN CFE) for up to three years at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, in a section called the Phoenix Academy, which is devoted to joint U.S.-Iraqi training. Established in 2005 by Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq then, it will now operate under Petraeus, who recently rewrote the Army's counterinsurgency manual.

Last May, a Pentagon news release said COIN CFE, which involves U.S. and Iraqi personnel, was established "to help units adapt to and train for the war against terror in Iraq as it is fought today." At that time, it was a week-long course with 31 trainers and classes with about 40 trainees, including "brigade commanders, battalion commanders, company commanders and senior staff -- including noncommissioned officers," the news release said.

Under the new proposal, contractors will handle a variety of classes, including a special seminar for "general officers and senior field grade leaders at the multi-national corps and division levels." The group for senior leaders will be limited to 25, while the lower-level classes will include up to 70 students and will involve not just Iraqi army forces but also Iraqi National Police.

Treason

FBI agent testifies that Libby learned about Valerie Plame's name and occupation from none other than Darth Cheney:

After a long day or legal wrangling and no witnesses, an FBI agent took the stand shortly before 3 p.m. She is Deborah Bond, a 19-year veteran, called into the probe of who may have leaked name of classified agent.

She described the bureau's interview with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on Oct. 14, 2003. Asked where he first learned of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, he had told the FBI then -- from the vice president, on or about June 12 that year, in a telephone conversation.

Vice President Cheney had also said that she worked in "CP" or counter-proliferation at the agency. How did Cheney know this? From someone at the CIA -- possibly director George Tenet, but Libby wasn't sure.

Impeachment is too good for these Bush bastards.

Meanwhile, In That Other War. . .

It's gonna be a hot year:

Hundreds of Taliban militants overran a southern Afghan town that British troops left after a contentious peace agreement in October, destroying the government center and temporarily holding elders hostage, officials and residents said Friday.

The assault, days after a Taliban commander was killed outside the town of Musa Qala, raises doubts about the future of the peace deal, which has been criticized by some Western officials as a NATO retreat in hostile Taliban territory.

Two residents of Musa Qala estimated that between 200 and 300 Taliban fighters had overtaken the town. They said the fighters took weapons from the police on Wednesday and destroyed the town's government center late Thursday.

Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said an "unknown number" of militants had entered Musa Qala. He said late Friday that no NATO-led forces were in the town.

Eeewwwgh. . .

Baghdad truck bomb kills 121 - police

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A huge truck bomb killed 121 people and wounded 226 in a busy market in a mainly Shi'ite area of central Baghdad on Saturday, in the deadliest single bombing in the capital since the 2003 U.S.-led war.

The blast in Sadriya shattered food stalls and smashed the facades of shops, setting some on fire. Three car bombs ripped through the same market in December, killing 51.

"It was a terrible scene. Many shops and houses were destroyed," said one resident, Jassem, 42, who had rushed from his home nearby to help pull people from the rubble after hearing the ear-splitting explosion.

The casualties swamped the capital's hospitals. There were chaotic scenes at Ibn al-Nafis hospital in central Karrada, where hallways overflowed with wounded on trolleys and relatives and friends screaming for help.

February 2, 2007

Eye-Rack And Afghanistan To Cost More Than Nam

Happy now, bitches?

So far, Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $477 billion, according to the House Budget Committee. Of that, $379 billion went to Iraq.

On Monday Bush will announce that he'll seek $100 billion more to pay for the both wars through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2007. He's also expected to seek another $145 billion for war spending in fiscal 2008 and $50 billion more for fiscal 2009. Total cost: $772 billion.

Most experts think the U.S. military will be involved in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond 2008.

The Vietnam War cost $536 billion, after adjusting for inflation.


Surge In Drug Users

Army STRAWNG!!

Tonight, Local 2 investigates a new danger for U.S. troops in Iraqi war zones. Our hidden cameras uncover how drug users and even addicts are being ushered into military service as tens of thousands of new troops are being sent to Iraq.

KPRC Local 2 investigative reporter Stephen Dean's investigation is leading to action in the nation's capital.

Congress and the Pentagon are now reacting to our investigation. We've been sending our hidden cameras in with people who want to be soldiers, and when they get into these recruiting offices, we found they're being told a drug problem may be no problem at all. Recruiters are even helping people to avoid some of the drug testing.

Just minutes into our hidden camera visits to military recruiting offices, we found Army recruiters describing a urine test packet for prospective solders. Our Local 2 Investigates producer is told if he fails this drug test, he can still get into the Army.

This is part of the reason they had to end the Vietnam war, because the ranks were rife with undisipline and drug usage. Today's army is deteriorating right before our eyes and all Bush could do is fiddle while the country burns.

Surge Upon The Surge

I thought the extra 21,000 was going to be the total number of troops being sent to Eye-Rack. Turns out they are just the combat troops, silly me:

President Bush and his new military chiefs have been saying for nearly a month that they would "surge" an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a last, grand push to quell the violence in Baghdad and in Anbar Province. But a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the real troop increase could be as high as 48,000 -- more than double the number the President initially said.

That's because the combat units that President Bush wants to send into hostile areas need to be backed up by support troops, "including personnel to staff headquarters, serve as military police, and provide communications, contracting, engineering, intelligence, medical, and other services," the CBO notes.

How do we know they are lying? When their lips are quivering, that's how.

February 1, 2007

The One Where He Believes In Global Warming But Still Blames Enviromentalists

Here's the money quote buried deep within Darren Bernard's usual litany of scorn towards the usual suspects:

The Earth is warming, likely because of both natural climate variation and human-created emissions.

But the problem, you see, is that dirty fucking hippies like Al Gore and climatologists are too hysterical about the subject and are not letting Big Oil give their side of the debate. But, alas, Bernard does seem to have a point, in his own way:

Update: Of course, I hope Bernard knows that the "dissent" against global warming is being bought and paid for by the Big Oil lobby.

It is one thing for scientists and congressmen to be frustrated by the dissent of a vocal minority. It is very much another for them to issue veiled threats to squash technical and policy debates. If the green crowd were as confident in their models as they claim they are, they should not need to bully the few skeptics who remain. Such obvious suppression of opinion is not a redeeming detail to people on the fence of the debate - that is, most Americans.

Indeed.

Not Just Halloween Anymore

Black Jesus, help us. . .

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- White students at Tarleton State University in Texas hold a party in which they dress in gang gear and drink malt liquor from paper bags. A white Clemson University student attends a bash in blackface over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. A fraternity at Johns Hopkins University invites partygoers to wear "bling bling" grills, or shiny metal caps on their teeth.

From Connecticut to Colorado, "gangsta" theme parties thrown by whites are drawing the ire of college officials and heated complaints from black and white students who say the antics conjure the worst racial stereotypes.

. . .At an off-campus "Bullets and Bubbly" party thrown by University of Connecticut School of Law students in January, pictures showed students wearing baggy jeans, puffy jackets and holding fake machine guns.

The University of Colorado's Ski and Snowboard Club advertised a "gangsta party" in September, with fliers featuring rappers and fake bullet holes. The theme was dropped after complaints, but some students, who didn't get the message, showed up in gangsta garb, hoping to win prizes.

Often such parties go unnoticed outside campuses until students post pictures on Facebook.com and other Web sites. That's how images of the Clemson party surfaced this week. One student wore blackface; another white student put padding in her pants to make her rear end look bigger.

Harold Hughes, a black fraternity member at Clemson whose frat brothers attended the party, said white students "see this on MTV and BET they think it's cool to portray hip hop culture." Hughes said he found it especially offensive that the party was held over a holiday created to honor the slain civil rights leader.

Many white Clemson students said they did not believe the party was held to intentionally offend blacks, and after news of the party reached beyond the campus, organizers issued an unsigned letter of apology.

I'll have more to say about this later, I promise. Meanwhile, here are some photos courtesy of The Smoking Gun.