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March 30, 2007

They Are Mad As Hell And They Are Not Gonna Take It Any More

Let's see how peaceful this mass Sadrist demonstration is gonna be:

BAGHDAD - Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr made a scathing attack on the United States in a statement issued on Friday, blaming it for Iraq’s woes and calling for a mass demonstration April 9 to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall.

The statement was the first by al-Sadr since March 14 when he called on his supporters to resist US forces in Iraq through peaceful means. Al-Sadr has been said by US and Iraqi officials to be in neighboring Iran. His aides insist he is still in Iraq.

The latest statement was read to worshippers during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, a holy Shiite city south of Baghdad where al-Sadr frequently led the ritual.

“I renew my call for the occupier (the United States) to leave our land,? he said in the statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “The departure of the occupier will mean stability for Iraq, victory for Islam and peace and defeat for terrorism and infidels.?

Update: More from the New York Times.

Surging Car Bombs

terrific:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. general on Friday said suicide attacks and car bombings soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month, and that insurgents had used a child in a second suicide attack last week.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, also characterised the rising use of chlorine bombs in Iraq as "poison gas attacks."

"Chlorine is a poison gas. It is a poison gas being used on the Iraqi people. Before these attacks, the last time poison gas was used on the Iraqi people was by Saddam Hussein," Barbero told reporters at the Pentagon.

. . .Violence throughout Iraq surged over the past week, killing 300 people. The past week was the bloodiest since the start of the U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad in mid-February.

But-but the Shiites like all the carbombs because they aren't retaliating [/bushbot]

HillaryCare 2.0

I agree with Kevin Drum. Me likey a plan that screws over those that keeps screwing the rest of us over.

March 29, 2007

Hopeless. Utterly, Utterly Hopeless.

Why does the Bush-hating librual media depress us with stories like these:

BAGHDAD, March 29 — The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun’s family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east.

The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car.

“If anything happens to us, they’re the ones responsible,? said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf.

The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had just won a title.

The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.

After the police took the body away, all that remained in the alleyway was a pool of blood, a bullet casing and the upper half of Ms. Saadoun’s set of false teeth.

Oh yeah, if you think the Bush surge is working, ask Saadoun's orphans how they think it's working. In any case, the rest of the story gives the impression that the remission in Baghdad is falling apart:

“The forced evictions started up again this month,? said Capt. Benjamin Morales, 28, a Bronx native who commands a company of the 82nd Airborne Division that oversees a swath of western Baghdad taken over by Shiite militias last year. “In my area, that’s the biggest thing that’s going on.?

Captain Morales’s unit, Company B of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, was among the first additional American units to enter Baghdad. It moved into the Ali Salah neighborhood at the start of February to work alongside Kurdish soldiers brought in from northern Iraq.

The first month was quiet. A couple of explosions, some shooting here and there.

But a few weeks ago, the eight remaining Sunni Arab families living near the American and Iraqi base had again begun to receive threats, Captain Morales said.

Four families lived to the north of the base. Militant Shiites marked those homes with big X’s, splashed red paint across their front doors and shot at the buildings with Kalashnikovs. Two families moved out. Last week, the other two woke up one morning to find that the militants had chained their doors shut.

. . .Now there were three Sunni Arab households left in the neighborhood.

Goddamn Low-Wage Workers Are Earning Too Much

Apparently, if you don't get paid like Wal-Mart workers, you are being overpaid:

RICHMOND, Va. — Circuit City Stores (CC) said Wednesday that it plans to cut costs by laying off 3,400 store associates and hiring lower-paid workers to replace them and by trimming about 130 corporate jobs. Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 consumer electronics retailer behind Best Buy (BBY), will lay off store workers it said were earning "well above the market-based salary range for their role" and replace them with employees who will be paid at the current market range, the company said in a news release.

"We are taking a number of aggressive actions to improve our cost and expense structure, which will better position us for improved and sustainable returns in today's marketplace," said Philip J. Schoonover, Circuit City's chief executive.

The company also plans to outsource its information-technology infrastructure operations to IBM, a move that is expected to cut IT expenses by more than 16%. About 50 of Circuit City's IT workers will move to jobs with IBM and remain on the Circuit City contract. The other 80 corporate positions will be cut.

Welcome to the new service economy, kids, where unions are corrupt, but whatever the corporations do is A-OK.

And what are the new stipulations of the service economy? Check it out:

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

. . .While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percent in 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, average incomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with the year before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

The gains went largely to the top 1 percent, whose incomes rose to an average of more than $1.1 million each, an increase of more than $139,000, or about 14 percent.

The new data also shows that the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.


John McCain: Democrat?

If that's true that at one point he seriously considered switching parties, then Ralph Nader is right, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the parties since McCain would be the worst Democrat since Zell Miller.

MC Rove

I'd be remissed if I didn't post this (just have your puke bucket ready)

Progress

towards oblivion:

Hours after truck bombs killed 85 people on Tuesday in a Shi'ite area of Tal Afar, up to 70 Sunni Arab men were shot dead in a town which only a year ago was held up by U.S. President George W. Bush as an example of progress towards peace.

Iraq's Sunni vice president urged the government on Thursday to do more to purge security forces of militias after a group of Shi'ite police shot scores of Sunni Arab men after the two truck bombs in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border.

The governor of Nineveh province, which includes the town of Tal Afar, said policemen who took part in the reprisal shootings were arrested but then freed again to prevent unrest.

via Atrios.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XI

Is the "grace period" over?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers launched two deadly strikes Thursday in crowded Shiite marketplaces in Baghdad and a town north of Iraq's capital, killing 119 people and wounding 171. At least 17 others died in other bombings and gunfire around the country.

The attacks erupted as Iraqi shoppers filled marketplaces Thursday to buy goods at the start of the weekend and the eve of the Muslim holy day of Friday.

In the deadliest attack, at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated in a crowded open-air marketplace in Baghdad's Shiite district of Shaab. At least 76 people were killed and 85 were wounded.

. . .Earlier, in the Diyala province town of Khalis, north of Baghdad, three car bombs detonated at a marketplace, killing 43 people and wounding 86.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said that the first two bombs exploded in quick succession at a market in the central part of town. Minutes later, a third car bomb exploded after Iraqi security forces arrived at the scene.

Khalis, a predominantly Shiite town, is 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed province, has been the scene of much violence during the Iraq war.

If You Don't Fight This War, Zarqawi Will Eat You In Your Sleep (Boogah! Boogah!)

John McCain just said this yesterday:

"The consequences of failure are catastrophic because if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."

Jesus, even when we do kill the terra-ists they are still a threat. Not a nice endorsement to either wars, you blockhead.

via Atrios.

National Review To Abu Gonzalez: Resign.

Did someone spike the kool-aid at the editor's office or something?

Once again, credit to John Aravosis.

Wow.

Trying to gin up support for the Surge™ in Eye-Rack by quoting anonymous postings by a couple of Iraqi bloggers is bad enough. Having those postings turning out to be three weeks out of date and written by bloggers associated with known neocons is even more pathetic.

via John Aravosis of Americablog, who is even more terser than me.

March 28, 2007

The Coming Apartheid State

They hate Jimmy Carter because he's right:

"Over half of the Jewish population in Israel believes the marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is equal to national treason, according to a recent survey by the Geocartography Institute.

The survey, which was conducted for the Center Against Racism, also found that over 75 percent of participants did not approve of apartment buildings being shared between Arabs and Jews. Sixty percent of participants said they would not allow an Arab to visit their home.

Five hundred Jewish men and women participated in the poll, which was published Tuesday.

According to the survey, racism against Arabs in Israel has seen a sharp rise since a similar survey was conducted two years ago.

In 2006, 247 racist acts against Arabs were reported, as opposed to 225 one year prior."


The Privileged

Forget the fact that the Bushies caught up in the attorney scandal can't really hide within the "executive privilege" bunker since the right-wing trolls have completely destroyed that concept during Monicagate. The fact that they used RNC e-mail addresses to plan the prosecutor purges should deny them that excuse, Kevin Drum explains.

You Can't Be Too Paranoid

Darren Bernard sneaked by with one of his rare Monday columns, so naturally expecting his usual Thursday column I completely missed it. And boy is it a paternalistic, pant-pissing doozy. Here, his targets are the six imams who are suing US Airways for not letting them board their return flight home even though they've been cleared of any connection with terrorism, and the two Muslim civil rights organizations championing their causes.

It was nice of Bernard to parrot the airline's self-serving "investigation" into the matter that (surprise!) completely absolved the airline. But even if the the account of what the airline says is perfectly true, it still doesn't show that the imams were especially disruptive to warrant their being kicked off the flight, just that they prayed, sat on the airplane and asked for seatbelt extentions. How dare they.

After tossing a back-handed riff on CAIR's Saudi money (which, unlike Bush's Saudi ties, make them suspicious) and MAS's ties with the Muslim Brotherhood that he describes as "violent" (notice that he doesn't say "terrorist" since the group doesn't even appear on the State Department's list of foreign terror organizations), he conflates their support for the imams with their support for the Muslim taxidrivers that refuse to transport alcohol. While I agree that the cabdrivers aren't reasonable, Bernard seems to think that Muslims have no right to complain and accept whatever comes their way with toothy grins. Maybe he could do a an even exchange with the Muslim civl rights groups: they stop complaining about certain affronts if Bernard stops complaining about suspicious Muslims and assorted bands of hippies. Then we shall all be happy.

Isn't It Too Early For Attack Ads?

Apparently not, especially if the political attack ad is aimed against someone who was not elected and has just lost his job.

Digby highlights an ad against one of the fired prosecutors David Iglesias running in New Mexico by a group calling itself New Mexicans for Honest Courts. Their name makes it clear that they used to keep it halfway honest back when they were against "activist judges" during the 2004 campaign, but now they have come out to play interference for the beleaguered Bushies. If the Justice Department isn't so politicized, perhaps this group should be investigated for improper politicking.

Support Yer Troops

This is disgusting:

"We immediately requested to go to Fort Bragg to see our son," Bob Pesta said. "We were refused."

"I just wanted to hold his hand," Joan Pesta said. "I just wanted to say goodbye. They said we could not come and if we did, we'd be arrested."

It was at that moment -- when an Army functionary refused permission for the grieving parents to rush to to the side of their dead son -- that everything turned dark and sour at the Pesta house. The Army's explanation to the Pestas that there were no visiting facilities at the base morgue was not good enough for a family deep in shock and grief.

"There were too many questions and too few answers," Bob Pesta said. "No one one knew what anybody else was doing. They left us telephone numbers that didn't work or were connected to fax machines. Answering machines were full. It was a weekend and nobody would call us back."

And all because he died in the wrong country.

Ours.

Fighting The War On Crutches

Perhaps there's some German compound word that adequately describes how ridiculous this situation has become:

Last November, Army Spc. Edgar Hernandez, a communications specialist with a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, had surgery on an ankle he had injured during physical training. After the surgery, doctors put his leg in a cast, and he was supposed to start physical therapy when that cast came off six weeks later.

But two days after his cast was removed, Army commanders decided it was more important to send him to a training site in a remote desert rather than let him stay at Fort Benning, Ga., to rehabilitate. In January, Hernandez was shipped to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., where his unit, the 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, was conducting a month of training in anticipation of leaving for Iraq in March.

Hernandez says he was in no shape to train for war so soon after his injury. "I could not walk," he told Salon in an interview. He said he was amazed when he learned he was being sent to California. "Did they not realize that I'm hurt and I needed this physical therapy?" he remembered thinking. "I was told by my doctor and my physical therapist that this was crazy."

. . .Hernandez is one of a dozen soldiers who stayed for weeks in those tents who were interviewed for this report, some of whose medical records were also reviewed by Salon. All of the soldiers said they had no business being sent to Fort Irwin given their physical condition. In some cases, soldiers were sent there even though their injuries were so severe that doctors had previously recommended they should be considered for medical retirement from the Army.

Military experts say they suspect that the deployment to Fort Irwin of injured soldiers was an effort to pump up manpower statistics used to show the readiness of Army units. With the military increasingly strained after four years of war, Army readiness has become a critical part of the debate over Iraq. Some congressional Democrats have considered plans to limit the White House's ability to deploy more troops unless the Pentagon can certify that units headed into the fray are fully equipped and fully manned.

. . .It is unclear exactly how many soldiers with health issues were sent to the California desert. None of the soldiers interviewed by Salon had done a head count, but all agreed that "dozens" would be a conservative estimate. An Army spokesman and public affairs officials for the 3rd Infantry Division did not return repeated calls and e-mails seeking further detail and an explanation of why injured troops were sent to Fort Irwin and housed in tents there during January.

Army strawng, brother. Army strawng.

Poll Dancing

Looks like 59 percent of Americans do want a mandate to get out of Eye-Rack by August of 2008. Sixty percent according to the Gallup poll. Of course, since they are not a supermajority, they can be written off as the "anti-troop fringe" while the 33 percent are still considered "serious".

This just fits in the larger narrative. The legacy of the Bush administration and of the 12 years of almost unbroken Republican congressional rule over Capitol Hill has pushed people to favor Democrats over Republicans by 15 percent. Also it has pushed for greater majorities to favor social programs and helping the less fortunate. In fact, except for blips around 1994 and 2002, the public has always favored Democrats over Republicans (which is why Democratic members of congress represent more people) yet for some reason the pundit class and the political news coverage has conspicuously favored Republicans over the past years. For example, when was the last time you've heard people on the teevee talk about helping poor people? Exactly, they were all about poor folks back when Katrina hit, but then they quickly switched to the Blame Ray Nagin game.

The pundit class can continue to try to convince the people to reject liberals and their ideas, but I think people think that since they pay taxes to their governments, they expect to see those taxes work for them, not to enrich the monied class.

March 27, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part X

New York Times:

BAGHDAD, March 27 — Attackers killed a prominent member of an Iraqi tribe that had taken a stand against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and in other violence today more than 53 people were killed in gunfire and bomb attacks.

Among the attacks were two suicide bombs in the northern city of Tal Afar and the murder of two elderly Chaldean nuns in Kirkuk.

Gunmen attacked a car carrying Harith Thahir Khamees al-Dari and fired a rocket-propelled grenade, killing him and wounding his driver, in Abu Ghraib, the authorities said.

“We accuse Al Qaeda,? said a relative of the family, Abu Abdullah. “The sheik has his stands against Al Qaeda, as Al Qaeda started targeting the innocent, civilians and children, police and army.?

In Kirkuk, residents walked in shocked silence in a funeral procession for two nuns, sisters, who had lived and worked in the city for many years.

Sister Margaret Saour, 80, and Sister Fadhila Saour, 71, were known in their neighborhood for their devotion to the church and to charitable works. On Monday, they attended evening prayers at the Chaldean cathedral, said one of the cathedral’s priests, Saoor Shamel.

Their last minutes were filled with terror. After midnight, gunmen entered the sister’s house, which is near the Kirkuk government building. They shot Margaret, who was blind, and then turned to Fadhila. Terrified, she tried to flee, but before she could cross the yard, the attackers stabbed her to death.

. . .In another attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt at a bus stop near a restaurant in Ramadi, west of Baghdad in Al Anbar province. At least 10 people were killed and 20 wounded, according to Col. Tariq Yusuf, the security supervisor in the city.

Reuters reported that at least 17 people were killed and 32 wounded in the attack, in an area frequented by the Iraqi police and where local tribes have joined the tribal alliance against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the insurgent group that claims ties to the Qaeda organization and has been associated with some of the most destructive attacks in Iraq.

Update:

BAGHDAD, March 28 (Reuters) - Gunmen stormed a Sunni district in the northwestern Iraqi town of Tal Afar overnight, killing dozens in apparent reprisal for truck bombings in a Shi'ite area, Iraqi officials said on Wednesday.

Police, military and health officials said as many as 50 men were killed in the attack on the Sunni district of al-Wahda in the volatile town, whose residents are a mixture of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen, near the Syrian border,

"I wish you can come and see all the bodies. They are lying in the grounds. We don't have enough space in the hospital. All of the victims were shot in the head," a doctor at the main hospital told Reuters by telephone.


Press Secretary Tony Snow Has Cancer.

Spread from his abdomen to his liver. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh will blame the White House for playing up his illness for sympathy votes. In any case, all the best to him and his recovery.

March 26, 2007

Go To Hell, Couric

opus2007032349105.jpg
Berk Breathed has the right idea

Taegan Goddard of the Political Wire asks the only question one must ask of Katie Couric's 60 Minute interview with the Edwardses:

Why did Katie Couric keep pressing John and Elizabeth Edwards on 60 Minutes last night about their decision to continue his presidential campaign when she didn't give up her job as host of the Today Show when her husband was diagnosed with cancer?

Maybe if John Edwards gets a mammogram, then maybe they'll finally get off his back.

via Kevin Drum.

March 25, 2007

Bush's Man Date

r3486725062.jpg

No, it's not photoshopped or Farked.

via First Draft.

Shut Up. Just Shut Up.

Bastard.

President Bush accused the Democratic-led Congress of wasting taxpayers' time picking fights with the White House instead of resolving disputes over money for U.S. troops and the firings of the U.S. attorneys.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush called on Democratic leaders in Congress to move beyond political discord and take bipartisan action on both issues that have driven a wedge between the Bush administration and Capitol Hill.

He urged them to accept his offer to allow lawmakers to interview his advisers about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors -- but not under oath -- and provide documents detailing communications they had about the firings with outside parties.

Democrats, armed with subpoenas for Bush's top political adviser Karl Rove and other top aides, are pressing the White House to allow the advisers to answer questions under oath about the firing of eight federal prosecutors. Bush says the Democrats are simply playing politics, trying to create a media spectacle.

"Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people's business," Bush said. "We have many important issues before us. So we need to put partisan politics aside and come together to enact important legislation for the American people."

Wasting taxpayer's time? Wasting our time? What the fuck do you call the unpayable deficits and that shitmire you call a war in Eye-Rack, the one you can't manage out of a paper bag? God, to think he can say such unfiltered horsecrap at where he is - why the hell should ANYONE take him seriously anymore.

Zbigniew Brzezinski on the Waronterra

Jimmy Carter's former National Security Advisor is dumping on us Americans for being so scared of our own shadows over 19 madmen with boxcutters. I say "so what"? Us dirty fucking hippies have been saying the exact same thing almost immediately after the planes hit. I remember during that time that my biggest fear was not of an invading A-rab mob out to kill us all, but that this country would respond in the way we did respond - by making this much, much larger than a criminal act that should be prosecuted.

But let us not forget that Mr. Brzezinski was among those that first empowered those jihadists that targeted this country in the first place. Of course Bush and Clinton neglected to clean up Afghanistan after the Soviets left, leaving a broken country wracked in civil war until Islamic fundamentalists took over. It would be nice if his role was acknowledged.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part IX

Looks like the Shiites have put up with enough of the unilateral disarment:

BAGHDAD, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed with gunmen in a town south of Baghdad on Sunday shortly after a Sunni mosque was set ablaze in an apparent revenge attack for the destruction of a Shi'ite mosque in the town a day earlier.

Gunmen stormed the Sunni mosque in Haswa, a religiously mixed town about 50 km (35 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, on Sunday morning and destroyed its minaret in a blast. The building was set on fire, a police official said.

They said at least four people were wounded. A second Sunni mosque was attacked but damage was reported to be minor.

A suicide truck bomber exploded outside a Shi'ite mosque in Haswa on Saturday, killing 14 and wounding 21, Hilla police said. The provincial health directorate and Baghdad police put the toll at 16. Only the mosque's minaret was left standing.

March 24, 2007

Buh-Bye Gonzo

The document dump on Friday reveals that Abu Gonzalez basically authorized the firings of the attorneys. Of course, Bush still stands by his man, which when you look at the case of Rumsfailed means that he's outta here by Monday if I were a betting man.

March 23, 2007

Eye-Rack Safer Than Chicago And Detroit?

Apparently, that is what the Republican Representative Tim Walberg from Michigan said just yesterday. Perhaps he won't mind telling the U.N. Secretary General that highly relevant fact:

BAGHDAD, March 22 — Like most of the bombs that insurgents launch into the heavily fortified Green Zone, the mortar shell that exploded in the crook of a tree on the compound’s eastern edge at 3:40 p.m. local time today caused some structural damage and no casualties. But this one carried a particularly resonant message about the continuing violence that plagues the capital.

It struck about 250 feet away from the riverside residence of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. At that moment, Mr. Maliki and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, were holding a news conference inside the residence to mark Mr. Ban’s first visit to Iraq. In another room were gathered many of Iraq’s top political officials.

. . .The deafening explosion startled the secretary general, who momentarily ducked his head as windows shattered outside and flecks of plaster drifted down from the ceiling. Mr. Maliki barely shifted.

Putz.

What Is Superior Than Single-Payer

Because single-payer health care is Soviet Medicine:

Blue Cross of California "routinely" violated state law when it canceled individual health insurance coverage after policyholders got pregnant or sick, making no attempt to determine whether they did anything to merit such "harsh" treatment, according to a state investigation of practices that appear to be industrywide.

State regulators plan similar investigations of other health plans in California, and the findings against Blue Cross ratchet up the risk of liability for other insurers, many of whom face lawsuits from consumers who claim they were illegally dumped and subjected to substantial hardships.

. . .The state investigation found that Blue Cross used computer programs and a dedicated department to systematically investigate and cancel the policies of pregnant women and the chronically ill regardless of whether they intentionally lied on their applications to cover up preexisting medical conditions — a standard required by state law for canceling individual policies.

Regulators examined 90 randomly selected cases of policy cancellations — out of about 1,000 a year in California — and found violations in each one.

Yes, any idiot can think up a number of potential problems with single-payer or any other system of socialized medicine until the cows come home - it should be obvious that any one of the alternative system is vastly superior to the way health care is primarily distributed now. It should be obvious that the impersonal machinery of capitalism and medicine should not mix.

via Kevin Drum.

Can The Military Even Give Me The Correct Time?

Welp, the Pentagon is caught in yet another lie as they are forced to admit that more soldiers than previously reported have deserted the army:

A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted the Army last year, or 853 more than previously reported, according to revised figures from the Army.

The new calculations by the Army, which had about 500,000 active-duty troops at the end of 2006, significantly alter the annual desertion totals since the 2000 fiscal year.

In 2005, for example, the Army now says 2,543 soldiers deserted, not the 2,011 it had reported. For some earlier years, the desertion numbers were revised downward.

. . .Some Army officers link the recent uptick in annual desertion rates to the toll of wartime deployments and point to the increasing percentage of troops who are on their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But an Army spokeswoman, Maj. Anne Edgecomb, gave different reasons. Most soldiers desert because of personal, family or financial problems, Major Edgecomb said, adding, “We don’t have any facts to indicate that soldiers who desert now are doing so for reasons different from why soldiers deserted in the past.?

Lt. Col. Brian C. Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said the desertion data errors were caused by confusion among employees who tally them. “They were counting things wrong, and doing it inconsistently,? Colonel Hilferty said in an interview.

He added, “We are looking at the rise in desertions, but the numbers remain below prewar levels, and retention remains high. So the force is healthy."

Well at least we can be confident that remains below the levels reached during the VIetnam war, At least as it is now reported by the military.

March 22, 2007

All This And Rabbit Stew

Guess what my sister found in our church video library?

rabbitstew.jpg

Yep, it's a cartoon collection prominently featuring one of Warner Bros. "Censored 11" titled "All This And Rabbit Stew." Being a product of its time, that cartoon short was simply mired in racist imagery that many would find objectionable. At first I was surprised that this cartoon would be released on videotape in 1989 of all years, since this and other cartoons were banned in 1968. But apparently this particular cartoon was made part of the public domain so anybody could release it. But still I'm kinda surprised that my church would see fit to make it available or someone would see fit to donate the video in the first place. Oh well, since the cartoon is part of the public domain, that means it can be YouTubed and AOLTimeWarner can't say jack about it, so enjoy the film, you racist you:

Son Nixonian, It's Scary

Now instead of an 18 minute gap, there is a 18 DAY gap in the recently released emails and correspondences:

WASHINGTON, March 21 — The dismissal of eight United States attorneys has elicited a long and ever-growing list of theories by Democrats on Capitol Hill about ulterior motives and suspicious coincidences. Now there is a new one: the document gap.

Democrats on Capitol Hill were privately urging reporters on Wednesday to press the Bush administration to explain why in the thousands of pages of e-mail messages and documents turned over to investigators, there is almost nothing from Nov. 16 to Dec. 7, the day seven of the firings occurred. In contrast, there are hundreds of pages from the weeks after the dismissals. One of the last e-mail messages before this period was sent by D. Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, to Harriet E. Miers, then the White House counsel, and includes a request that the White House approve the plan. “We’ll stand by for a green light from you,? said the Nov. 15 e-mail message.

A little more than a half-hour later, Ms. Miers replied: “Not sure whether this will be determined to require the boss’s attention. If it does, he just left last night so would not be able to accomplish that for some time.?

Come on, as Representative Brad Miller said, the Bushies aren't doing anything extraordinary by releasing these documents. The Clinton administration was releasing 4,000 documents a day to the witch-hunting Republicans. The only thing WorstPresidentEver is proving here is that he's hiding something.

March 21, 2007

Sahel In Somalia

More on the "success" of the U.S. backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia:

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - Insurgents dragged the corpses of two soldiers through the streets of the Somali capital and set the bodies on fire Wednesday after a fierce street battle killed at least seven people, witnesses and medical officials said.

An Associated Press photographer saw insurgents drag the bodies of one Ethiopian soldier and one Somali government soldier through the streets of northeastern Mogadishu and then set them on fire.

As one of the bodies was still burning, women wearing head scarves and long, loose dresses picked up stones and pounded it as a handful of young men looked on.

Ethiopia sent soldiers into Somalia in December to help defeat an Islamic movement that threatened to destroy Somalia's internationally recognized government. While the Islamic forces no longer hold territory, they have started an insurgency to overthrow the government and drive out the Ethiopian troops.

Well, to be honest, I kinda doubted that this was to be coming, since they signed a sham peace agreement and all.

Oh yeah, in case you are wondering, sahel is an Iraqi word, meaning literally "dragging a body through the streets." That's what the Americans did to Saddam's statue, that's what the Iraqis in Fallujah did to those contractors the month when everything went to hell (April 2004), and that's what the Somalians did to those that invade their country, American or otherwise.

It's Hard Being A Millionare

Oh cry me a fucking river:

Being a millionaire just isn't the same these days

NEW YORK (AP) -- Renee Weese has reached an enviable goal -- she's become a millionaire. But like many others whose net worth has risen in recent years to seven figures, she doesn't feel particularly wealthy.

Not that long ago, the word "millionaire" conjured up visions of chauffeured limousines and extravagant shopping trips and elegant yachts. These days, a millionaire is more likely to be the guy or gal next door who saved carefully -- and perhaps benefited from the sharp run-up in housing prices -- but still worries about covering the exploding costs of children's educations, caring for aging parents and funding their own retirements.

Weese, 51, of Atlanta, Georgia, credits her good financial fortune to good-paying jobs and windfalls when her startup insurance company went public and, later, when it was taken over by a bigger insurer. Still, Weese worries about how far the money will go.

As she puts it: "I know I have more money than a lot of people do. But I don't feel I can sit back on my heels. I have lots of years ahead of me, and elderly parents I help financially a bit, and kids and grandkids."

Hell, if it's THAT tough, I'm willing to trade my negative wealth for your "problems."

Christ, when will we stop with this plutolatry?

Thank You, David Ehrenstein

Because you have made a conscious decision to get hung up over Barack Obama's race in the way you never did for any other Democratic candidate running for president (except, perhaps, for Al Sharpton) you have given certain racist pillheads on the radical reich the plausible deniability to make fun of Obama based on his skin color.

I've said over and over again, Obama's problem is not with black voters, it's with white voters. If a ham sandwich was running as a Democrat, blacks would vote for it in droves, which is understandable considering the cavemen occupying the Republic party. The "he's not black enough" canard is just an excuse for commentators to race racial analysis without impugning the racial innocence of white people. Let it go NOW.

It Costs More To Be Stingy

Here's an argument for the intractable Israeli hawks who think its a good thing to starve a population into changing its government. It looks like it cost the international community more to cut aid to the PA than it is to give the money to the PA and let them handle their own affairs:

JERUSALEM, March 20 — Despite the international embargo on aid to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas came to power a year ago, significantly more aid was delivered to the Palestinians in 2006 than in 2005, according to official figures from the United Nations, United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Instead of going to the Palestinian Authority, much of the money was given directly to individuals or through independent agencies like the World Food Program.

The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations say the Palestinians received $1.2 billion in aid and budgetary support in 2006, about $300 per capita, compared with $1 billion in 2005.

While the United States and the European Union have led the boycott, they, too, provided more aid to the Palestinians in 2006 than 2005. Washington increased its aid to $468 million in 2006, from $400 million in 2005.

The European Union and its member states alone are subsidizing one million people in the West Bank and Gaza, a quarter of the population, as part of their effort to avoid creating a catastrophe from the embargo.

Asked if the European Union could spend any more money on the Palestinians if it recognized the new Palestinian government than it does now, a senior European diplomat laughed and said, “We’d probably spend less.?

One side effect of the redirected aid, some officials said, is that while starvation has been avoided, institutions are withering and a culture of dependence is expanding.

In 2007, the United Nations began a humanitarian appeal for the Palestinians of more than $450 million, twice the 2006 appeal, the third largest United Nations request, after Sudan and Congo, ahead of 18 other disasters.

“These numbers are quite stunning,? said Alexander Costy, head of coordination for ?lvaro de Soto, the United Nations special Middle East envoy, “given the relatively small size of the population of the Palestinian territory.?

He added: “What we do know for sure is that Palestinians, and their economy and society, are becoming increasingly dependent on humanitarian handouts, and this dependency is growing fast. For a state in the making, I think this was a step backwards in 2006 and a cause for alarm.?

There's an easy partial solution to this problem, just have Israel let go of the tax money the PA is legally entitled to

While Israel recently handed over $100 million of the sum as a humanitarian gesture to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, Israeli officials say that as of today, they are holding back $475 million in money belonging to the Palestinians, a big hole in the normal Palestinian budget.

March 20, 2007

Spitting On The Troops

Phunny.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part VIII

Welp, at least they ran em outta Baghdad:

BAGHDAD, March 19 -- Dozens of insurgents wielding machine guns surrounded the police station before dawn Monday in Duluiyah, a majority Sunni town about 45 miles north of Baghdad. The five officers on duty walked out, hands to the dark sky, and waited to be executed.

But instead of firing, the insurgents' leader spoke: Repent, he commanded, or die.

"So we swore to quit the police and support the Islamic State of Iraq," recalled Mohammad Hashmawi, one of the police officers, referring to a militant Sunni organization active in many parts of the country.

Apparently content, the insurgents stole the officers' decrepit weapons and the station's communications equipment, blew up the building and released the officers. A similar scene played out simultaneously at another police station in the town, said police Capt. Hussein al-Jaburi. It was the fifth police station in the town to be destroyed by Sunni extremists in two weeks, he said, leaving just three standing.

Later, Hashmawi said he would keep his vow. "I have seen death with my own eyes, and I don't want to see it again. I will return to being a farmer. I tell you that the decisions and control of the city are in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq."

March 19, 2007

No More Socializing The Costs

Atrios links to a post by eonomist Nouriel Roubini in which he makes clear that the housing collapse is the fault of deregulation and nothing else, and that the creditors shouldn't get another bailout like the S&Ls of the late eighties received, one reason because it would bankrupt the government because the bailout would be very massive, and two because they are the least deserving victims of this crisis. If Democrats want to distinguish themselves from Republicans, they would hold these loan companies accountable and help out the thousands, maybe millions, who are forced out of their homes.

Eye-Rack: The Fourth Year

And whatta cakewalk it was!

New Poll: Life Is Hell, Yanqis Drop Dead

Not a lot to say about this ABC/BBC/ARD poll, I'll just let the pictures do the talking:

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Joseph I. Lieberman, R-Connecticut

mcgee.jpg
Joseph Lieberman, artist's conception.

Who on God's green earth is surprised by this?

WASHINGTON -- It's no secret that Joe Lieberman got strong support from Republicans last year, and that he has made strong overtures this year to Senate Republicans as he pursues a new, more bipartisan legislative path.

But new data show the extent of the help he got from big GOP donors in the last weeks of his 2006 campaign, as they poured more than $1.5 million into his final pre-election push - with subtle but unmistakable help from the White House.

The information was compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Its data are the first detailed look at the sources and amounts of GOP money that went into the Lieberman campaign.

. . .In the general election, in which Lieberman ran as an "independent Democrat," his take from Republicans soared 80 percent. He collected more money from Republicans than from Democrats. And of major donors - giving $200 and more - Republicans exceeded Democrats.

. . .Officially, the White House stayed out of Lieberman's 2006 race, and Lieberman, who today caucuses with Senate Democrats, did not actively seek its support. But the signs from the White House were unmistakable.

. . .There were other signals. On primary day, White House political guru Karl Rove called the senator. "He's a personal friend," Rove said later. "I called him. It was a personal call."

That call, leaked to media organizations at the time, "sent a message to Republicans across the country to embrace this guy. When Karl Rove calls, most Republicans ask how high they should jump," veteran GOP strategist Scott Reed said last week.

So when we call him "Quid Pro Joe" you know exactly what we are talking about.


March 17, 2007

Oh, They Are Good

All this time, the White House spin machine has been successful in building a wall around the president concerning the prosecutor purge and making the issue all about Deputy Attorney Kyle Sampson and Attorney General Albert Gonzalez.

But then again, the soundbite that they have repeated, ad nauseum, is that the prosecutors "serve at the pleasure of the president." Well, they are going to wish they have never made that part of their damage control strategy since there is one small, tiny, legalistic little detail that we are missing: only the President gets to fire the U.S. Attorneys, not the attorney general or his deputies.

As the DailyKos diarist Mary2002 makes clear, no firing of the US attorney could be made without the direct approval of the president, per constitutional law. If Abu Gonzalez or Kyle Sampson were acting independently in firing those prosecutors, they would have committed a federal crime and should be removed immediately. If they are not charged with a crime, then President Bush himself would have to explain why he approved the removal of eight prosecutors with glowing job performance reviews.

Hey, if criminal testimony from a sitting president was good enough for Bill Clinton, then it's damn well good enough for Bush.

March 16, 2007

"Do As I Say" Diplomacy: Palestinian Edition

Looks like Fatah and Hamas has formed a coalition, however tenuous it is, to form a unity government. The bad news is that it looks like they've united against a common enemy - Israel. And because they haven't aquiesced to Israeli demands, the EU and U.S. will still deny aide.

You know what, why don't they just get it over with, invade their country, kill their leaders and convert all of them to Christianity? Because these actions just further proves that democracy and self-determination among the Arabs in the middle-east is just another dead end that will not win any favors from the West. Autocracies and tyrannies get more respect and engagement than the Palestinians simply because they wash their hands of the Palestinian problem and have renounced their grievances against Israel. As Ken Silverstein said, that open hypocrisy makes for very dangerous implications for political progress in the Mideast.

Reverse Midas Touch In Somalia

Eric Martin of American Footprints provides a much needed update on the "success" enjoyed by the Ethiopian Army last year in routing the Islamic Courts government that was set up in Somalia. In short, despite all the rhetoric saying otherwise, an insurgency has taken hold that is giving the Ethiopians a headache. Any moron with a fifth-grade education can make that prediction. That the "peace treaty" was a delaying tactic so the militants can organize against the invaders. But of course we are not dealing with morons.

We are dealing with conservatives.

We're Waiting, Howard Kurtz

Glenn Greenwald wonders when Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz will write a hard-hitting expose on the homicidal fanatics dominating the fever swamps of the right-wing blogosphere. After all Kurtz made a big deal out of far less concerning the left-wing blogs.

"I Was Not Involved" - Attorney General Albert Gonzalez: 4/3/2005-3/??/2007

The complete quote from that now infamous presser by Abu Gonzalez goes like this:

"I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. . .That's basically what I knew as the attorney general."

Other than the fact that how the hell could he not know what his own Chief of Staff was doing, he had a pretty plausible alibi.

Which lasted all of three days now that new e-mails have emerged that show that Gonzalez was discussing the purge of USAs even before he became the AG:

The messages also show that an internal administration push to remove a large number of federal prosecutors was well underway even as Alberto R. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, was preparing for Senate hearings on his nomination to be attorney general.

Gonzales talked "briefly" in December 2004, the messages show, with D. Kyle Sampson, who would become his chief of staff at Justice, about the plan to remove U.S. attorneys. Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said Gonzales has "no recollection" of discussing the prosecutors' firings at the time, when he was preparing for his January 2005 confirmation hearings.

Yep, that's all Mr. Torture Memo has left, the Busheimer's Syndrome defense. Since there doesn't seem to be any Urbandictionary or Wikipedia entry for that affliction, I shall define it here:

Busheimer's Syndome: 1. (n) a disease that afflicts any Bush administration official that is currently under questioning or investigation for a crime in which they conveniently forget certain details of the relevant events, usually utilizing various forms of the phrase "I can't recall"; c.f. Scooter Libby's entire defense during his obstruction of justice/perjury trial.

2. (n) A disease that afflicts many pundits and commentators of major news outlets in which they conveniently forget certain events during the Bush administration in order to make new observations favorable to their agenda or to the Bush administration itself; c.f. neocon mea culpa over Eye-Rack war.

It's funny, back when I made this post, I resigned myself to the fact that it's never going to go much farther than that. Now it's revealed that the very Karl Rove is directly involved in the political purging of the prosecutors and it has grave implications for the Bushies. Only thanks to the subpoena power of Democrats, the persistence of the liberal blogosphere led by Josh Marshall, and the local media who sees significance in the unexplained firings of their U.S. attorneys did this story has finally got more than legs, and will lead to more and more realization that we are, in fact, ruled by the Worst. President. Ever.

Khalid Sheik Muhammed: Stonecutter

I'm going to shamelessly copy Attaturk's post entirely because, in light of this story, it's just too goddamn funny:

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(sung in the tune of "We Do" from the The Simpsons episode "Homer the Great")

Who controls the British crown?
Who keeps the metric system down?
I do! I do!

Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
I do! I do!

Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Gutenberg a star?
I do! I do!

Who robs cavefish of their sight?
Who rigs every Oscar night?
I do! I do!

Bwaahahahaa, ahem, oh yeah. Because of the fact that we tortured Khalid Sheik Muhammed, I'm inclined to believe any such "confessions" are bullshit and further demonstrate the need for uncoerced testimony in open court.

March 15, 2007

We Have Racist Cops In The MPD?

John Aravosis of Americablog couldn't believe that a guy like Lt. Bob Kroll, the guy who reportedly called Keith Ellison a terrorist, would still be on the police force.

Come on, John, just last year we've elected a sheriff who admitted he used the word "nigger" to describe black people. Sure, the city is liberal enough, but it is still a mutiethnic island in a sea of white.

U.S.A To New Orleans: "Go To Hell!"

Scout of First Draft crafted what is possibly the best post on post-Katrina New Oreans ever. It was prompted by this post by NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge and the comments that followed. Apparently whenever he does any news report on the Katrina disaster, he gets two separate responses depending on who is offering their opinions:

I've been covering New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on a regular basis since Katrina. That's about 19 months. Whenever one of my stories makes Nightly, I get two very different reactions. Locally, people say "Thank you" to me and NBC for continuing to keep the city's plight before the eyes of the nation... from that nation I get, "Enough already! I am sick of hearing about New Orleans!"

The comments following his posts shows why President Bush failed to address Katrina during his SOTU and why Lieberman is refusing to use his powers to investigate the administration's conduct during that disaster: they just don't care anymore, the people of New Orleans deserved what happened and should just go away. Here are just a sampling:

. . .Keep electing Ray 'school bus' Nagin, I'm sure that will win the rest of the country over.

. . .I am sick - of hearing how every taxpayer in America should pony up a couple grand to subsidize the rebuilding of a cesspool of a city that will just be wiped out again by the next "unlucky" hurricane.

. . .Americans are not just tired of the Katrina aftermath they are dispappointed that the folks elected in Louisiana don't have the sense of a muskrat who would move if his habitat is threatened.

And so on. Even though it's an exercise in futility in answering these clowns, Scout takes the time to patiently point out that the hometowns of each of these commentators have suffered or are likely to suffer natural disasters. In the wake of the fact that the Army Corp of Engineers installed faulty flood pumps during the wake of the Katrina disaster, knowing that it won't stand up to another Katrina-like disaster. They can thank their lucky stars that 2006 was a mild hurricane season.

March 14, 2007

Very Odd. . .And Hyperpartisan.

As posted by ThinkProgess.org the Washington Post online politcal columnist Dan Froomkin has noticed that the incriminating e-mails that have suggested that the firing of the eight prosecutors was a political operation were using domains owned by the RNC, namely gwb43.com. Not sure if I'd be less outraged if the emails were done using government domains, but there you have it.

A Tales of Two Surges™

The AP and Reuters offer two different views on how effective the surge has been in the past month. The AP gives a pretty glowing version:

BAGHDAD - Bomb deaths have gone down 30 percent in Baghdad since the U.S.-led security crackdown began a month ago. Execution-style slayings are down by nearly half.

The once frequent sound of weapons has been reduced to episodic, and downtown shoppers have returned to outdoor markets — favored targets of car bombers.

There are signs of progress in the campaign to restore order in Iraq, starting with its capital city.

But while many Iraqis are encouraged, they remain skeptical how long the relative calm will last. Each bombing renews fears that the horror is returning. Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents are still around, perhaps just lying low or hiding outside the city until the operation is over.

U.S. military officials, burned before by overly optimistic forecasts, have been cautious about declaring the operation a success. Another reason it seems premature: only two of the five U.S. brigades earmarked for the mission are in the streets, and the full complement of American reinforcements is not due until late May.

U.S. officials say that key to the operation’s long-term success is the willingness of Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic political parties to strike a power- and money-sharing deal. That remains elusive — a proposal for governing the country’s main source of income — oil — is bogged down in parliamentary squabbling.

Promising signs
Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs. Gone are the “illegal checkpoints,? where Shiite and Sunni gunmen stopped cars and hauled away members of the rival sect — often to a gruesome torture and death.

The rattle of automatic weapons fire or the rumble of distant roadside bombs comes less frequently. Traffic is beginning to return to the city’s once-vacant streets.

“People are very optimistic because they sense a development. The level of sectarian violence in streets and areas has decreased,? said a 50-year-old Shiite, who gave his name only as Abu Abbas, or “father of Abbas.? “The activities of the militias have also decreased. The car bombs and the suicide attacks are the only things left, while other kinds of violence have decreased.?

In the months before the security operation began Feb. 14, police were finding dozens of bodies each day in the capital — victims of Sunni and Shiite death squads. Last December, more than 200 bodies were found each week — with the figure spiking above 300 in some weeks, according to police reports compiled by The Associated Press.

Since the crackdown began, weekly totals have dropped to about 80 — hardly an acceptable figure but clearly a sign that death squads are no longer as active as they were in the final months of last year.

Bombings too have decreased in the city, presumably due to U.S. and Iraqi success in finding weapons caches and to more government checkpoints in the streets that make it tougher to deliver the bombs.

In the 27 days leading up to the operation, 528 people were killed in bombings around the capital, according to AP figures. In the first 27 days of the operation, the bombing death toll stood at 370 — a drop of about 30 percent.

Reuters, however, elected to go with a more tempered and sobering version of events:

Car bombs in Baghdad, at a record high in February, remain a serious concern despite a month-old U.S.-backed crackdown, a U.S. general said in a more sober assessment than one given by Iraqi officials on Wednesday.

Major General William Caldwell said murders and executions in the capital since the Baghdad security plan began on February 14 had been halved but that "sensational" car bombs blamed on al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab militants had spiked in February.

"We reached an all-time high there in February," Caldwell told a news conference, without providing a figure. He said U.S. and Iraqi troops were investing a "tremendous amount of effort" in finding car bomb factories in the Baghdad beltway.

While Caldwell said there had been a "positive" reduction of overall murders and executions since the plan got under way, he warned of a slight "uptick" of violence in the last seven days.

"We are concerned about any levels of violence that indicate an increase versus a decrease ... We are watching it very carefully," he said, adding it would take months before the plan makes a big difference in easing violence that has pushed Iraq to the brink of all-out sectarian war.

"The Iraqis have really shown restraint. They are not taking retribution," he said, referring to retaliatory sectarian violence that in the past has followed car bomb attacks.

But an Iraqi Sunni militant group said on Wednesday it had captured an Iraqi brigadier general and posted copies of Ministry of Defense credentials that identified him as a deputy director but did not describe him as an officer.

Ansar al-Sunna has claimed several abductions and killings since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Earlier, Iraqi military officials offered a less cautious report than Caldwell's, saying civilian deaths and car bombs had fallen sharply in the first 30 days of the plan.

Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier Qassim Moussawi said the number of Iraqis killed by violence in Baghdad between February 14 and March 14 had fallen to 265 from 1,440 and that the number of car bombs was down to 36 from 56.

So one article says bombings have decreased, while the other say it is at an all-time high, what gives? In any case, the Reuters article is correct in noting how changes in troop concentration in any part of the country brings a predictable lull in violence while insurgents and death squads adapt and change their tactics. The Shiite death squads have until now decided to cooperate, but as the last post show, their patience has ended.

March 13, 2007

Shiites To Surge™: Times Up.

While the Bushies and some in the wire media has been singing hosannas about the success of the Surge™. they keep forgetting that it is only because the Shiites have been willfully cooperating, and have since engaged in a lopsided unilateral disarment against the Sunni militants. Now after suffering a series of spectacular attacks, they are now demanding that they take matters into their own hands:

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of Shiite Muslims, beating their chests in mourning, accompanied 17 coffins through Baghdad's main Shiite district Monday, demanding that militiamen be allowed to protect them after a wave of attacks on pilgrims.

"Despite the heavy security presence in Baghdad, we are seeing the terror and bombings escalate and more innocents being killed," said a man who identified himself by a traditional nickname, Abu Fatima Sadi. "When the Al Mahdi army was providing protection, there were no violations."

This year, the Al Mahdi militia, led by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr, held back from protecting millions of Shiite pilgrims making their way to the holy city of Karbala for weekend religious rites. The move came after intense pressure by the Shiite-led government to give a U.S.-Iraqi security plan a chance to succeed.

Attacks against Iraq's Shiite majority, however, have persisted despite the month-old crackdown, intended to clear the capital of sectarian fighters and anti-U.S. insurgents.

. . .More than 220 people were killed in the last week as Sunni Arab militants unleashed suicide bombers and gunfire on the Shiite pilgrims who converged in Karbala to mark the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi officials have reported a modest drop in recent weeks in the number of execution-style killings, which are considered to be a signature of the Al Mahdi militia.

Police recovered 11 bodies in Baghdad on Monday. Before the security plan was launched Feb. 13, the number often exceeded 30 a day.

But bomb blasts, mortar fire and other attacks have persisted, and at least 13 Iraqis were reported killed and dozens injured Monday. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of three U.S. personnel the previous day.

Some of the Shiite mourners at Monday's funeral complained that the decision to rein in the militiamen left them exposed to Sunni militants intent on reigniting sectarian fighting.

"This plan is not effective and has no results to show so far," said a man who gave his name as Abu Zahara Ghrayji. "You can see the evidence of the increasing bombings and terror every day."

He demanded that police work with the militiamen to protect Shiites at major gatherings.

Now we'll see how the Surge™ will work.

Moral Laughingstocks

60 Minutes did a segment on Sunday on how the Bushies have turned their backs on Iraqi refugees, refusing to resettle them here even after they left their country to ruins. The reasoning behind it, according to a weasel-faced State Department official, is that they are circumspect of potential security risks, meaning that those Eye-Rackees may be terra-ists.

You know what? We, this country, do not deserve that sort of caution or the comfort that comes along with it. We invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 under completely false pretenses, failed in our attempt at social engineering and has left a power vacuum that has since been filled with chaos. If the world hates us now, wait until they have to absorb the 2 million Iraqi refugees because we are unwilling to clean or atone for our own messes. From then on we shalll surely be the moral laughingstocks among the nations.

General Peter Pace Thinks Alexander The Great, Attaturk, Etc., Are Immoral

Who cares if they were great military leaders, all that matters that they are Teh GaY!

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed mild regret Tuesday for voicing his belief that homosexual acts are "immoral," but he stopped short of an apology as gay rights groups and a powerful Republican senator rebuked the general for the comments he made to the Chicago Tribune.

. . .In the interview with the Tribune, Pace said his views were based on his personal upbringing.

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace told the Tribune editorial board. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way.

"As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not," he said. "We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior."

That's quite interesting, especially in light of this highly timely report by Anne Scott Tyson in tomorrow's Washington Post:

The number of homosexuals discharged from the U.S. military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy dropped significantly in 2006, according to Pentagon figures released today, continuing a sharp decline since the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts began and leading critics to charge that the military is retaining gay and lesbian personnel because it needs them in a time of war.

According to preliminary Pentagon data, 612 homosexuals were discharged in fiscal 2006, fewer than half the 1,227 who were discharged in 2001. On average, more than 1,000 service members were discharged each year from 1997 to 2001, but in the past five years that average has fallen below 730.

"It is hypocritical that the Pentagon seems to retain gay and lesbian service members when they need them most, and fires them when it believes they are expendable," said Steve E. Ralls, a spokesperson for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit group that opposes the policy.

True, but it's a hypocrisy they are willing to deal with due to the circumstances.

Abu Gonzalez In Hot Water

It's official, the Bushies working with AG Gonzalez and Harriet Miers were directly involved in the political purgings of the eight prosecutors:

“Just when we thought our faith could not be shaken any further, it has been,? said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The latest revelations prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there has been unprecedented breach of trust, abuse of power and misuse of the Justice Department.?

Mr. Schumer was reacting to disclosures by administration officials on Monday that the White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers.

The furor was heightened this afternoon as the House Judiciary Committee released copies of e-mail messages between Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and D. Kyle Sampson, a top aide to Mr. Gonzales who quit on Monday, discussing changes among United States attorneys. A Sept. 13, 2006, note from Mr. Sampson to Ms. Miers, for instance, names some prosecutors “who, rumor has it will be leaving? and other “in the process of being pushed out.?

Mr. Schumer, who called over the weekend for the resignation of Mr. Gonzales, renewed that call today. The senator also said Karl Rove, President Bush’s top political adviser, “should not wait for a subpoena? but should come before Congress at once to tell what he knows about the affair.

So should Ms. Miers, the one-time Supreme Court nominee, “who was deeply involved in this ill-conceived project,? Mr. Schumer said.

Of course, all Gonzalez would say is that he accepts all responsibility, even though he's innocent. Can't these people ever stop lying?

United States of Israel

Sometimes I wonder if it makes any damn difference which party is in power:

Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.

Now why would one country have such significant veto power over US foreign policy? Oh yeah. . .

As everyone knows, House and Senate Democrats are trying to put together an Iraq war spending bill that will pressure the President to bring the troops home sooner rather than later. There is a general consensus on most issues relating to Iraq.

However, the authoritative Congressional Quarterly daily report reveals today that some Democrats are fighting Speaker Pelosi's language which would prevent the President from going to war on Iran without the approval of Congress. Simply put, Pelosi wants to avoid a repeat of the Iraq experience in Iran.

For the Dems, this is a no-brainer, or so one would think. But, according to the CQ some of the same Democrats most vehement about ending the Iraq debacle are resisting denying the President unilateral authority to go to war on Iran.

The hypocrisy is astounding. It is worth noting that the AIPAC conference begins in Washington this weekend with thousands of citizen lobbyists are being deployed to Capitol Hill to deliver the message that Iran must be dealt with, one way or another. This battle over the Pelosi language is part of the overall Iran effort. And you thought it couldn't happen again!

Indeed, Attacking Iran at this time with this army is just so laughably absurd and will only contribute to the ruination of this country that anyone who advocates for that plan has nothing but ill will towards this country. I guess we all know which country's welfare the Israeli apologists has in mind: their own, not the US.

Morons all.

"Curveball" Revealed

curveball.jpg

I guess with the Eye-Rack war in shambles, the media decided it was time to start naming names:

The Iraqi defector known as Curveball, whose fabricated stories of "mobile biological weapons labs" helped lead the U.S. to war four years ago, is still being protected by the German intelligence service, an ABC News investigation has found.

Intelligence sources, who provided ABCNews.com with the first known photo of the man, say he has been resettled in a small town near the Munich headquarters of the German service, which has continued to honor its original commitment made when he fled Iraq in 1999.

. . .Behind the scenes at the CIA, however, a former senior official says he was trying to keep the Curveball information out of the Powell speech.

"People died because of this," said Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of European operations at the CIA, who has written about it a new book, "On the Brink." "All off this one little guy who all he wanted to do was stay in Germany."

. . .The CIA has since issued an official "burn notice" formally retracting more than 100 intelligence reports based on his information.

March 12, 2007

Salvador Option II

Apparenlty the monkey president does have a backup plan if his Surge™ doesn't get the results:

American military planners have begun plotting a fallback strategy for Iraq that includes a gradual withdrawal of forces and a renewed emphasis on training Iraqi fighters in case the current troop buildup fails or is derailed by Congress.

Such a strategy, based in part on the U.S. experience in El Salvador in the 1980s, is still in the early planning stages and would be adjusted to fit the outcome of the current surge in troop levels, according to military officials and Pentagon consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing future plans.

But a drawdown of forces would be in line with comments to Congress by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates last month that if the "surge" fails, the backup plan would include moving troops "out of harm's way." Such a plan also would be close to recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, of which Gates was a member before his appointment as Defense Department chief.

A strategy following the El Salvador model would be a dramatic break from President Bush's current policy of committing large numbers of U.S. troops to aggressive counterinsurgency tactics, but it has influential backers within the Pentagon.

"This part of the world has an allergy against foreign presence," said a senior Pentagon official, adding that chances of success with a large U.S. force may be diminishing. "You have a window of opportunity that is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large U.S. force eventually gets to the point that it is self-defeating."

Ah, but you see, there are still those pesky little drawbacks of repeating the support of government backed death squads:

Years after, the U.S. role in El Salvador remains controversial. Some academics have argued that the U.S. military turned a blind eye to government-backed death squads, or even aided them. But former advisors and military historians argue that the U.S. gradually professionalized the Salvadoran army and curbed the government's abuses.

El Salvador veterans and experts have been pushing for the model it provides of a smaller, less visible U.S. advisory presence.

Yeah, those advisors and military historians can tell that tale to Oscar Romero.

The Army IS Deliberately Holding Down Disability Ratings To Keep Down Costs

As a corollory to Sunday's article about how the military is forcing wounded vets to serve in Eye-Rack, the Army Times has put out a "he said, she said" sounding article in which the facts tell you all we need to know: in 2001 642 soldiers were approved for disability retirement. Now in the midst of wars that has claimed thousands of wounded, only 209 were approved of the same benefits in 2005.

How To Ride Public Transportation

Sure some people might be scared off by stories like this:

A shooting occurred on a Metro Transit bus this evening in north Minneapolis, and one person was taken to a hospital, the transit spokesman said.

. . .The shooting occurred on the No. 5 line, which Gibbons described as the “most heavily used in the region.?

He added that “because of the communities it goes through, it has its share of difficulties.? The No. 5 runs from Brooklyn Center, through north Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, south Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and the Mall of America.

Public transportation has the emphasis on the word "public". You can't choose the people that ride on the bus (or train), it comes with the territory. I used to ride that line in order to go to work in Bloomington, didn't really feel unsafe.

But the most important rule is that it is neer a good idea to give an eyefuck, even for a moment. These people on the bus lines and trains like to be kept alone and would only give up their personal space if they have to. Unfortunately even when people like Sarah concentrate on observing this rule they might still get unwanted attention. So we are forced to humor people, big deal. Makes the trip more interesting. I hear people in other places not known for their "Minnesota Ice" likes to have conversations with complete strangers.

Halliburton, the Great American Country

Because that is why we are handing out billion-dollar contracts to that machine of cronyism for the past six years, right?

Well, not anymore, because before long we are going to hand billions of dollars in defense contracts to an overseas company:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Mar 11, 2007 (AP)— Oil services giant Halliburton Co. will soon shift its corporate headquarters from Houston to the Mideast financial powerhouse of Dubai, chief executive Dave Lesar announced Sunday.

"Halliburton is opening its corporate headquarters in Dubai while maintaining a corporate office in Houston," spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The chairman, president and CEO will office from and be based in Dubai to run the company from the UAE."

Lesar, speaking at an energy conference in nearby Bahrain, said he will relocate to Dubai from Texas to oversee Halliburton's intensified focus on business in the Mideast and energy-hungry Asia, home to some of the world's most important oil and gas markets.

"As the CEO, I'm responsible for the global business of Halliburton in both hemispheres and I will continue to spend quite a bit of time in an airplane as I remain attentive to our customers, shareholders and employees around the world," Lesar said. "Yes, I will spend the majority of my time in Dubai."

No, there are no corporate taxes or taxes on employees, so Halliburton can just launder its profits to this country tax free if it likes, making Dubai (who's already rich off the oil anyways) nothing more than another offshore tax shelter. So if anyone wonders why the Bushies won't revoke tax breaks for offshore companies or block offshore companies from contracting with this country, well here you are. The Bushies were just biding their time to maximize their profits and screw this country that has so enriched them. I'm sure taxpayers everywhere are gonna looove that idea.

March 11, 2007

20/20 Finally Does Something Useful

The newsmagazine 20/20 has for a long time given itself to covering fluff pieces and nonsensical snifflings by that reporter-savant John Stossel, but now we see that it did something for the social good for a change:

March 10, 2007 — Its official: Tyrone Brown, the man sentenced to life in prison for violating probation with a single marijuana cigarette, will be a free man.

ABC News' "20/20" documented this story in November 2006. Brown is African American, poor and without connections. His harsh sentence was contrasted with the mercy shown a white criminal who murdered someone, then repeatedly violated his parole with cocaine.

The privileged criminal, who was the son of a Baptist minister and the brother-in-law of a U.S. congressman, was never sent to jail, and now even his probation has been lifted.

Brown was involved in an armed robbery that yielded $2. He, too, was first sentenced to probation, but when he violated it just once with a marijuana joint, he was sentenced to life. He has served 17 years.Both men were sentenced by the same judge, Keith Dean.

. . .After the "20/20" report, Dallas voters ousted Dean from the bench, and Friday Tyrone Brown was granted a "conditional pardon" by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Are Our Borders Secure?

Not to distract from the main point of the story of Iraqis fleeing the chaos caused by our invasion to this country, but the first few paragraphs gave me pause:

Assad’s desperate flight from Iraq began on foot.

For days, he trekked from Iraq to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece. He slipped through remote rural villages and crossed a river’s rushing waters to escape the violence that had left his cousin dead and his father in hiding.

Finally, after paying smugglers to get him on flights to Spain, Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico, he joined the crush of Spanish-speaking migrants on a bus ride to America’s doorstep.

Fortunately, Assad immediately went to the border patrols and asked for asylum. But still, how easy could it be for Al Qaeda terrorists to slip through our borders like that?

Drawing Blood From Stones: Ordering Our Injured Into Battle Edition

Salon.com has a major story about how the military is ordering soldiers who are classified as medically unfit to serve to go back to Eye-Rack. Once it was that they'd allowed soldiers back to the shitmire who are otherwise injured, but this time they are literally dragging injured vets kicking and screaming into the War That Can't Be Won:

"This is not right," said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. "This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers," he said angrily. "If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight."

Well I for one can understand the desperation behind this move. Back when Bush was going to have his Surge™ no matter what, military commanders warily pointed out that WorstPresidentEver only has about 20,000 troops to play with.

Welp, today the Codpiece Commander has made official that his Surge™ is going to get even Surgier, announcing that over 8,000 more troops will be needed to secure Eye-Rack and Afghanistan. I sure hope he is right about this. But then again, he was supposed to be right about the original Surge™, which has only produced results like this:

BAGHDAD, March 11 — Sunni militants burned homes in a mixed city northeast of Baghdad on Saturday and Sunday, forcing dozens of families to flee and raising the specter of a new intimidation tactic in Iraq’s evolving civil war, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

Militants also continued their campaign against Shiite pilgrims on Sunday, striking as the pilgrims returned home from the southern city of Karbala after observances there for the Arbaeen holiday drew millions of people over the weekend. The worst attack, a car bombing, killed at least 19 people in Baghdad as they were riding home from the south in a pickup.

Attackers burned both Sunni and Shiite homes in a neighborhood of Muqdadiya, a city of about 200,000 in Diyala Province, about 60 miles from Baghdad. There were differing reports about how many houses were affected. A security official in Diyala said that at least 30 houses were completely burned, including occupied and abandoned buildings, while a Sunni Arab politician from the area said that only six houses were destroyed. Some witnesses said as many as 100 houses were set on fire.

Victims from both sects blamed the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization for Sunni extremists that has taken over several other towns in the area. Residents said the group had recently demanded money, weapons and oaths of support from the local populace.

They said the burnings were intended to scare people into giving in or running away. Dozens of families fled the city, either left homeless by the attacks or terrified that they would be next.

“I left everything behind because I didn’t want to contribute to harming other Iraqis,? said Abu Muhammad Khailani, a Sunni, who said he escaped to a Shiite village for protection.

“I know why they want the money and weapons,? he said. “They will kill innocent people and do whatever it takes to reach their goals.?

The attacks reignited fears that Iraq is being hollowed out by efforts in some areas to drive out those who do not support an extremist sectarian agenda. Many mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad have already been transformed into homogenous enclaves, with both Shiites and Sunnis issuing death threats to the minority sect and even those who intermarry or maintain cross-sectarian friendships.

All I'm saying is that the Shiite militias are holding back to see what the Americans can do, and I'm not sure how long their patience is going to hold out.

How Politicized Is The Justice Department

Well by 2004, they have investigated a total of 298 Democratic elected officials and only 67 elected Republicans. Which would mean that the eight fired attorneys are just the tip of the iceberg.

How Republicans Support Their Troops

Marine Corporal Matt Sanchez has been a loyal soldier in more than one way. Not just the service to his country, but his service to spreading reich-wing ideology and condemning those that dare criticize the clusterfuck in Eye-Rack. Now that it has been exposed that Sanchez was a gay porn star, the military is beginning inquiries into wheter to expell him under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

John Aravosis has the best commentary on this farce:

They need to see if Dont Ask Dont Tell covers sodomy, and "telling" I presume, BEFORE you enlisted. You know they're gonna kick him out. There is no way a gay-porn star male prostitute is going to be permitted to remain in the Marines, regardless of his claims that he's not gay. As I mentioned before, the irony here is that Matt Sanchez's friends on the right, who gave him an award for his service, want him kicked out of the Marines, while the folks on the left, who he claims hate him, are the ones fighting for his right to serve. Think about that one, Matt, the next time you do interviews talking about how much the Party of "Faggot" embraces you.

Rove And New Mexico Republicans Conspired To Fire U.S. Attorney

So sez chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party:

Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

"Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.

"He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

"I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'" said Weh.

How's That Surge Coming Along: Part VII

. . .

Bombs killed 29 people in Baghdad on Sunday, one day after Iraq signaled that world powers and neighboring countries had agreed it was vital to all to stop sectarian violence spreading in the region.

A car bomb targeting a truck transporting Shi'ite pilgrims killed 19 people in central Baghdad, police said. The blast in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Karrada wounded 20 people.

The pilgrims were returning from the holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad, where millions gathered over the weekend for the Arbain ritual despite attacks by suspected Sunni Arab insurgents that have killed scores and raised communal tensions.

In eastern Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a minibus, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police said. The blast ripped the minibus apart in an area of northeastern Baghdad near the Shi'ite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

March 10, 2007

Democrats Finally Quit FAUX Nooze Debate

Sorry, why should people entertain entities that openly makes fun of them:

A month ago, the Nevada Democratic Party entered into a good faith agreement with FOX News to co-sponsor a presidential debate in August. This was done because the Nevada Democratic Party is reaching out to new voters and we strongly believe that a Democrat will not win Nevada unless we find new ways to talk to new people.

To say the least, this was not a popular decision. But it is one that the Democratic Party stood by. However, comments made last night by FOX News President Roger Ailes in reference to one of our presidential candidates went too far. We cannot, as good Democrats, put our party in a position to defend such comments.

In light of his comments, we have concluded that it is not possible to hold a Presidential debate that will focus on our candidates and are therefore canceling our August debate. We take no pleasure in this, but it is the only course of action.

Sincerely,

Tom Collins
Chairman, Nevada State Democratic Party

The comments he was referring to were these:

It is true that just in the last two weeks Hillary Clinton has had over 200 phone calls telling her in order to win the presidency she must stay on the road for the next two years. It is not true they were all from Bill.

[Laughter]

And it is true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?'

Video here. Ailes also make vague threats against John Edwards that he risks "losing voters" if he doesn't come to the FAUX Nooze lions den they call a debate. It took em a while, but Democrats have finally decided not to play by their rules anymore.

March 9, 2007

How Convenient

The Pentagon just happened to "lose" a videotape showing Jose Padilla's interrogation, the contents which might prove why Padilla is mistrustful of authority figures like his lawyers. Who else wants to call "bullshit" on this?

A videotape showing Pentagon officials' final interrogation of al-Qaida suspect Jose Padilla is missing, raising questions about whether federal prosecutors have lost other recordings and evidence in the case.

The tape is classified, but Padilla's attorneys said they believe something happened
during that interrogation that could explain why Padilla does not trust them and
suspects they are government agents.

Padilla attorney Anthony Natale said in court papers that the March 2, 2004,
interrogation at the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., could contain information the
government conveyed to Padilla that "directly impacts upon his relationship with
his attorneys."

Prosecutors and the Pentagon have said they cannot find the tape despite an
intensive search.

America's Heroes Reject America's Mayor

You know how Rudy Giuliani only became a viable candidate for president because of his on-screen performance during the wake of 9-11? Also at that time this country heaped praise upon the firefighters who risked and lost their lives during that day.

But the thing is, the firefighters know the true story of what happened that day and the lack of support they received from Giuliani, and they have not forgotten about it:

Early on, the IAFF made a decision to invite all serious candidates from both political parties — except one: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

We made this decision after considerable soul-searching and close consultation with our two New York City affiliates, the Uniformed Firefighters Association Local 94 and the Uniformed Fire Officers Association Local 854, as well as our former Local 94 President and current IAFF 1st District Vice President covering New York.

The IAFF recognizes that Mayor Giuliani generally enjoys a favorable reputation as a result of his actions immediately after the tragedy of 9/11. As such, we want our affiliates and every one of our members to clearly understand the reason and rationale behind this very serious and sober decision.

Many people consider Rudy Giuliani "America's Mayor," and many of our members who don't yet know the real story, may also have a positive view of him. This letter is intended to make all of our members aware of the egregious acts Mayor Giuliani committed against our members, our fallen on 9/11, and our New York City union officers following that horrific day [...]

The disrespect that he exhibited to our 343 fallen FDNY brothers, their families and our New York City IAFF leadership in the wake of that tragic day has not been forgiven or forgotten.

In November 2001, our members were continuing the painful, but necessary, task of searching Ground Zero for the remains of our fallen brothers and the thousands of innocent citizens that were killed, because precious few of those who died in the terrorist attacks had been recovered at that point.

Prior to November 2001, 101 bodies or remains of fire fighters had been recovered. And those on the horrible pile at Ground Zero believed they had just found a spot in the rubble where they would find countless more that could be given proper burial.

Nevertheless, Giuliani, with the full support of his Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, decided on November 2, 2001, to sharply reduce the number of those who could search for remains at any one time. There had been as many as 300 fire fighters at a time involved in search and recovery, but Giuliani cut that number to no more than 25 who could be there at once.

In conjunction with the cut in fire fighters allowed to search, Giuliani also made a conscious decision to institute a "scoop-and-dump" operation to expedite the clean-up of Ground Zero in lieu of the more time-consuming, but respectful, process of removing debris piece by piece in hope of uncovering more remains.

Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill.

Ouch, that's gotta hurt.

(via Daily Kos)

"The Wire" Already Did This Story

I'm not sure why a potentially new scandal involving the abuse of Patriot Act provisions by the FBI is even making the news just now. The third season of the critically acclaimed HBO show, "The Wire" already had that in their storyline when the local police were frustrated in tracking phone calls of a drug dealer:

Lieutenant Cedric Daniels: (to FBI Agent Terrence Fitzhugh) How did you get around the wiretap laws? Agent Fitzhugh: What's Stringer's given name? Lieutenant Daniels: Uh, Russel Bell, why? Agent Fitzhugh: Well, for the time being, his momma named him "Ahmed".

March 8, 2007

Drawing Blood From Stones

The Center for American Progress has a new report out that states that seventy-two percent of Army divisions have been deployed to Eye-Rack or Afghanistan more than once. In total, 420,000 out of 1.4 million military personnel have been deployed to Eye-Rack/Afghanistan more than once. People like to pretend they can keep this up, but with the equipment shortages, the lack of training, and the strain being put on military families, they are just dreaming.

March 7, 2007

Fixing A Broken Bureaucracy: Less Than $1 million dollars

support the troops.jpg

Reptilian conservatives electing to spend money on more taxcuts and more Eye-Rack rather than to spend this government-scale pittance to support our troops: priceless

A proposal to keep seriously wounded vets from falling through the cracks of the bureaucracy was shelved in 2005 when Jim Nicholson took over as the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department, according to the former VA employee who was responsible for tracking war casualties.

As a result, seriously wounded veterans continued to face long delays for health care and benefit payments after being discharged from the military, says former VA program manager Paul Sullivan.

The program, called the Contingency Tracking System, had been approved by Nicholson's predecessor but died once Nicholson took over the VA, Sullivan told ABC News.

Sullivan said he was told the cost of the system -- less than $1 million to build and requiring a handful of staff to maintain -- was prohibitive.

And to think, there are at least three separate investigations, one from Congress, the Inspector General and another presidential "blue ribbon commission" that were ordered to find out what is already known: Republicans fucked up, big time.

(Via TPMmuckraker)

60,000 Marriages Broken By The Eye-Rack War

So much for the "protecting the sanctity of marriage" bullcrap we keep hearing from these right wing snakes:

We hadn't talked about the possibility of him being deployed for months, not since President Bush had declared, "Mission accomplished." But I knew exactly what he meant; I didn't know then what it would mean for us.

We weren't prepared, and neither was the Guard. The Guard sent him into harm's way without providing some of the basic equipment and materials, such as global positioning systems, night vision gear, and insect repellant, that he would rely on during his year-long tour of duty at LSA Anaconda, the most-attacked base in Iraq, as determined by the sheer number of incoming rockets and mortars, which averaged at least five per day.

Unlike active duty military, the National Guard had no functional family support system or services in place. While the Guard was scrambling to get it together, my husband was already gone, and I was alone, just months after we had moved to Seattle.

. . .The escalation contradicts the advice of top U.S. military officials. Although the majority of Americans are opposed to the "surge," most members of Congress are reluctant to block the supplemental appropriations request that will fund it, claiming that they don't want to abandon the troops. Congress has abandoned the troops for nearly four years. It is the soldiers, their families, and the people of Iraq that pay the human costs. The tab so far: more than 3,000 dead U.S. troops, tens of thousands of wounded, over half a million Iraqi casualties, roughly 250,000 American servicemen and women struggling with PTSD, and almost 60,000 military marriages that have been broken by this war. Including mine.

And how do these flaghuggers respond to the fact that this war is tearing military families apart? By telling a good joke about it at their expense:

At a conference on post-deployment care and services for soldiers and their families, a Marine Corps chaplain asked, "How do you know if you're an SOB? Your wife will tell you!"

Har-de-har-har-har. The remark got the predictable round of applause from the capacity crowd, which, with one exception, wasn't living with anyone who had recently returned from Iraq. I was that exception, and it infuriated me that this was a joke. The Pentagon's solution for the constant stress endured by those of us who felt bewildered and betrayed was: "Learn how to laugh." With help from the Pentagon's chief laughter instructor, families of National Guard members were learning to walk like a penguin, laugh like a lion, and blurt "ha, ha, hee, hee, and ho, ho."

Hoooo, mercy. There has to be a special place in hell reserved for these assclowns.

Coulter's Comment As The Winning Message.

Yep, that's right. Digby explains that the reason why Anne Coulter's slur against John Edwards initially didn't get much media attention (compare with how they covered Whoopi Goldberg's comment against Bush during the Kerry campaign) is because, however crude it is, it fits right with the right-wing meme against Democrats and liberals that have been totally internalized by the media. In fact, the media only started reporting it when a few conservatives started complaining about it.

The main reason why Republicans have been so relevant and have won so many elections since the sixties is the way they've portrayed Democrats as wimpy and impotent - in other words, homosexuals. And since they are homosexuals, they are deviants and perverts, just like we know all homosexuals to be. The simple fact that seems to escape the media commentators is that this is not the first time she has accused prominent Democrats of being gay. She called Al Gore a "fag", said that Hillary Clinton a lesbian, and accused Bill Clinton of having "latent homozexuality". Arnold Schwartzenegger became governor because he's a hard-bodied beefcake while Governor Gray Davis was an effete little chicken (this was made clear when Taco Bell did that campaign where you get to vote for Schwartzenegger by buying a hard crunchy beef taco, while a vote for Davis came in the form of a limp chicken soft taco.) It's a tactic that has been inculcated into the minds of the voting public: Republicans are strong, Democrats are weak. Republicans are the "daddy party", Dems the "mommy party".

Anyways, Digby has done more research than me and has made the case already, so as they say, go read Digby.

Surge Not Even Enough

So sez the Army:

Ground commanders in Iraq are calling for 7,000 additional reinforcements for the ongoing buildup of 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, but none will be Marines, the Corps said Monday.

“The Marine Corps contribution to the surge in Iraq remains the same, two infantry battalions and a Marine expeditionary unit, at approximately 4,000 Marines,? said Corps spokesman Capt. Jay Delarosa.

Defense officials announced late last week the plans to send the 7,000 troops as support for the additional troops President Bush called up in January. The move involves significantly fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office’s recent assessment that 27,000 troops would be needed for support, but goes against earlier promises made by Pentagon officials that additional support troops would not be needed for the buildup.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told a Senate panel last week that commanders on the ground in Iraq have asked for 6,000 to 7,000 additional support troops.

“It is a war going on,? England told the Senate Budget Committee at the March 1 hearing. “Things are going to happen, and people are going to request troops.?

At this point, even half a million won't be enough to contain the clusterfuck.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part VI

Now that's a surge:

MOSUL, Iraq, March 6 (Reuters) - Dozens of gunmen stormed an Iraqi jail in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and freed up to 140 prisoners in one of the biggest prison breaks since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, police said.

Militants attacked Mosul's northwestern Badoush prison just after sunset
in the ethnically mixed city and overwhelmed police, who were forced to
call the U.S. military for backup.

Most of the prisoners were believed to be insurgents, police said.

It was unclear if there were any clashes between gunmen and police during
the incident.

Saddam Hussein's nephew, Ayham Sabawi, escaped the same prison in
December after he was accused of financing the Sunni insurgency against
U.S. forces and the Shi'ite-led government.


I'm. . .Outraged?

New York TImes has a front page, above-the-fold exclusive that Barack Obama has bought and sold stocks in companies owned by two of his biggest political donors at a combined loss of $13,000. They also report that there is no evidence that his actions in the Senate led to the enrichment of the stock of those companies. But those mitigating facts are buried until the fourth paragraph since the Golden Child might have struck a quid pro quo deal, whatta story!

Look, the fact that Halliburton and its political enablers continue to exist relatively unscathed, the whiff of corruption do to Obama's actions or inactions are the least of our problems. But, hey, they can write whatever they want to tar a Democratic political candidate.

DLC Loses It's Tax Exempt Status

The Democratic Leadership Council, created by the New Democrats in the 1980s, has long been a stumbling block of the Democratic party that has checked the populist movement inside the party and has given prominence to those that espouse the corporatist views. It has, until recently, been a force that has eroded the oppositional nature of the party and has advocated cooperation with the Republicans, including the prosecution of the Eye-Rack war. The election of Howard Dean as chair of the DNC and the recent elections has gutted their influence, and now that they wont disclose their political donar like all political action committees are supposed to, and since they don't exist to serve the public interest, the FEC has revoked their tax exempt status, making them a for profit corporation like they always were.

Corrente has more.

March 6, 2007

Please, No More Expat Bullshit

The Washington Post has a long feature on Ayaan Hirsi Ali who fled from religious persecution from her native Somalia, became a Dutch minister until she came to this country under duress from her participation in a film that angered Muslim fanatics, one of whom famously murdered the director. Now she is aligning herself with those neocon reptiles at the American Enterprise Institute, the very architechs of the disastrous Eye-Rack war.

Look, I sympathize with her contention that there must be reforms in the Islamic world if it wants to be full participants in the civilized world, but she is not going to convinced reasonable people if she joins up with those imperialist nutcases. I'm sure there are other reputable organizations she can join that don't want to spread further misery throughout the world, but instead she sold herself off to those she perceive have to most power to change things. We've already suffered the consequences of listenting to the 1001 Tales told by Iraqi expats, I certainly do not want the same process repeated for another country. She should know better than to associate with these people, but she did it anyways. And that is too bad.

Iraqnam, Part III

Looks like Bruce Springsteen will have to write another song to describe this farce of a travesty:

From Serving in Iraq To Living on the Streets; Homeless Vet Numbers Expected to Grow

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007; Page B01

It was a bad week for Aaron Chesley. He talked back to the staff at a Baltimore homeless shelter, got into an argument with a fellow veteran and missed an appointment for his post-traumatic stress disorder counseling session. "Are you still watching the news?" his counselor, Anthony Holmes, asked.

Maybe that's what had set Chesley off. He had been showing progress since he came to the program last fall. But television footage from the war could cast him back in Iraq in an instant, back to fingering the trigger of his machine gun, scanning the horizon for insurgents. And Holmes knew it wouldn't take much for Chesley to land back on the streets. "No. If the news is on, I turn my back," Chesley said.

In a homeless shelter filled with Vietnam War veterans, Chesley, 26, a former Catonsville High School honors student who joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2000 to help pay for college, was the only one in the facility who fought in the country's latest conflict. But across the nation, veterans of recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowly starting to trickle into shelters, officials say.

The number of homeless veterans from recent wars is hard to gauge. From 2004 to 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs provided shelter to 300 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan tours, out of the tens of thousands who have served.

That figure "is not even close to accurate," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, because it doesn't include the "others sleeping in buses, their cars or on the streets."

In New York City alone, he said his organization has helped 60 homeless veterans since 2004.

FAUX Nooze On Scooter Libby Verdict

Nope, you can't make this up:

fauxlibby.jpg

And it looks like they did their job well.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part V

Yep, things are going swimmingly over there:

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Tuesday in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims streaming toward the holy city of Karbala, killing up to 90 people in one of several attacks targeting the faithful ahead of a weekend holiday.

. . .The coordinated attack Tuesday happened on a main street in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Capt. Muthana Khalid. He said up to 90 people were killed and more than 150 wounded.

An Associated Press cameraman at the scene said the bombers struck a crowd of pilgrims filing into a pedestrian area. Ambulances and Iraqi police were swarming the area and there was no immediate sign of U.S. forces.


Libby's Convicted

Four out of five counts of lying, perjury and obstruction of justice. Nice.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part IV

A two-parter; this:

A suicide car bomber turned a venerable book market into a deadly inferno and gunmen targeted Shiite pilgrims Monday as suspected Sunni insurgents brought major bloodshed back into the lap of their main Shiite rivals. At least 38 people died in the blast and seven pilgrims were killed.

The violence - after a relative three-day lull in Baghdad - was seen as another salvo in the Sunni extremist campaign to provoke a sectarian civil war that could tear apart the Shiite-led government and erase Washington's plans for Iraq.

And this:

The American military command in Iraq reported today that nine American servicemen were killed in two blasts north of Baghdad on Monday, making it the deadliest day in weeks for U.S. troops.

Six soldiers were killed and three others wounded by a blast that struck near their vehicles during combat in Salahaddin Province, the vast Sunni area that stretches north from the capital through Samarra and Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit to northern Iraq.

Another bomb attack killed three soldiers conducting combat operations in Diyala Province, the restive area northeast of Baghdad where Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias fight daily for control of the large city of Baquba and the fertile region around it.

Also, at least 10 Shiite pilgrims were killed today as they trekked from Baghdad to the holy city of Karbala south of the capital to mark a Shiite holy day.

March 5, 2007

The Right Wing Noise Machine

Puh-thetic.

I'm sure someone like Howard Kurtz in the traditional media will give this story the attention it so richly deserves [/sarcasm].

(via Kevin Drum)

Update: Gee, that didn't take long at all, did it?

Update II: Per usual, FAUX Nooze manages to outdo the competition in mishandling the non-story (Lesbians speak in lisps? How did they come up with that stereotype?).

Rely On God Because You Can't Rely On FEMA

Did we ever have to hear of these problems during the Grand Forks flooding?

FEMA abruptly closed down a site housing Hurricane Katrina victims Sunday because of health and safety concerns, and its weary residents said they were being left in the lurch once again since losing everything in the storm.

A 48-hour deadline to leave fell on Sunday night, and FEMA scrambled to find new places for the 58 households.

Although many residents said they would have been happy to keep on living there, the Federal Emergency Management Agency determined it was too risky because of ongoing problems with raw sewage and periodic power outages.

"They know how to put me out, but they don't know how to help me out. That's how I look at it," Allsee Tobias said about FEMA. He lost his home in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans to post-Katrina flooding. "Pack and pray. That's what they told us."

. . .Residents said they questioned the genuineness of the sudden concern for their health because the stink of sewage has been a nuisance for about a year.

"It's very unhealthy. The question is why did it take a year?" said Ron Harrell.

He lived next to the site's sewage treatment system with his family, and the stink of sewage filled the air as he spoke. He said his two sons have repeatedly complained of health problems, which could be related to the sewage.

Pray and pack.

Jesus.

"A Civilized Tribe"

While some denial queens try to downplay the effects that slavery and racism has had on our country, apparently it is still easier to hate the Black Man than to stand up for what's right:

CHEROKEES will expel descendants of black slaves they once owned, a move that has exposed the unsavoury role played by some Native Americans during the Civil War and renewed accusations of racism against the tribe. Members of the Cherokee Nation, the second-largest Native American tribe, voted yesterday by 77 per cent to 23 per cent in a special poll to amend their constitution and limit citizenship to those listed as "Cherokee by blood". The move stripped tribal membership from freedmen - those descended from slaves - and blacks who were married to Cherokees. They have enjoyed full citizenship rights for 141 years. Opponents denounced it as a racist plot to deny tribal revenue - including $US22billion ($37billion) a year from casino takings for all US tribes - to those not deemed full-blood Cherokee, and to block them from claiming a slice of the tribal pie.

Supporters say it was a long overdue move by Cherokees to determine their own tribal make-up. Freedmen were granted full tribal membership under an 1866 treaty that the tribe was essentially forced to sign with the US government after the Civil War.

So does that mean the tribe will expell EVERY non full-blooded Cherokee from their fold just like the "freedmen"? Oh no no no my friend, this is where the legacy of defining blacks as three-fifths as a human kicks in:

The vote limits citizenship to those who can trace their heritage to a "Cherokee by blood" list, part of the Dawes Rolls census created by Congress in 1906.

Under that census, anybody with even a trace of African-American blood was placed on the freedmen roll. Those with full Cherokee or mixed white and Cherokee ancestry, even if seventh-eighths white, were put on the "Cherokee by blood" roll.

Today about 25,000 of the 270,000 Cherokees are descendants of freedmen, but the tribe is growing rapidly, with 1000 new citizens a month entitled to a share of the $US350 million annual budget.

Those in favour of expelling the freedmen have said that, without the vote, thousands more descendants will seek tribal membership to cash in on its revenue and welfare network.

So not only is it plain-as-day racism in allowing mostly-white Cherokees to cash into the gambling revenues, it's also simple greed in order keep their share of the pie as large as possible.

March 4, 2007

Obstructionism Is Now Good

When conservative strategist Grover Norquist says bipartisanship is like date rape, he wasn't kidding:

At the Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday, right-wing activist and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist urged conservatives not to work to accomplish anything in the current Congress.

“Get married, develop a hobby, learn to belly dance, learn to golf — you know, we got two years free, but we gotta spend time and effort playing defense here,? Norquist said. “Our job is to say ‘no, no, no, no’ for two years.?

Norquist predicted, “People are gonna go, ‘oh maybe this bill isn’t as bad as it looks.’? But he warned, ? Don’t eat it, don’t swallow it, don’t touch it. Nothing good passes this Congress.?

So much for the importance of the Upordown Vote™.

Update: As a commentator on Steve Benen's blog said, this is just typical of these lizard-brain conservatives. They will stop at nothing to make sure that government doesn't work, that it will fail the public trust, because to them the government is a worthless entity that gets in the way of private rapacity over those without the means to protect themselves and the consequent enrichment of the elite few. The New Deal was a disaster to these snakes because it instilled in the public mind that government does work for the people in order to improve their lives, and indeed the policies helped create the (white) middle class that we know today. Since the conservatives are all about hyper-stratification in order to create a new nobility, that just can't happen.

March 3, 2007

"Support Yer Troops" Ribbons No Longer In Demand

It's about time:

For three years after the invasion of Iraq, it was difficult to drive more than a few miles through middle America without seeing a car displaying a magnetic yellow ribbon.

The magnets, bearing the slogan “Support Our Troops?, became a symbol of patriotism for millions of US motorists.

But as support for the war fades, demand for yellow ribbons has collapsed.

Magnet America, the largest manufacturer of the product, has seen sales fall from a peak of 1.2m in August 2004 to about 4,000 a month and now has an unsold stockpile of about 1m magnets.

“We have enough supplies to meet demand for years to come,? said Micah Pattisall, director of operations. “Every product has a lifespan and this one has run its course.?

. . .At its peak, the North Carolina-based company employed 180 people to handle sales, marketing and distribution. Today, it employs 11 people.

If it was really about supporting our troops and not using them to support Bush's policy, they'd still be selling faster than war bonds.

March 2, 2007

If A Republican Says "Faggot" In The Woods. . .

John Aravosis of Americablog notes how the mainstream media and the wires completely, seemingly willfully, ignored the way Anne Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot" in front of an audience in a lead conservative conference, an audience that includes the vice president and every major Republican candidate except John McCain.

One commentator on his blog puts it the best way:

Edwards/Kerry state the truth - that Mary Cheney is a lesbian - and all hell breaks loose.

Coulter calls Edwards a faggot.

[crickets]

Yep.

Ooooooh, Snap!

Ann Coulter is such a cut-up! I can't understand why conservative humor isn't more popular in this country

Baghdad In The Dark For Six More Years

Or somewhere "in or around that area". Good thing WorstPresidentEver will be kicking back in Crawford by then, am I right?

Getting full-time electric power turned on in Baghdad, a key wartime goal toward which the United States has spent $4.2 billion dollars, won't be accomplished until the year 2013, U.S. officials said yesterday, in what others called a significant setback for the new U.S. initiatives to quell Iraq's bloody insurgency. Power outages in the Iraqi capital are frequent, leaving residents without electricity for an average of 17 or 18 hours a day. For most residents without personal generators, that means not just no lights but dead radios and televisions, heaters, washing machines and water pumps.

Army Brig. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, the senior U.S. military officer overseeing reconstruction efforts, told reporters yesterday via video teleconference that the Iraq government plans to increase power generation "to catch up with demand" for electric power by 2013, "somewhere in around that area."

. . .Electricity generation in Iraq today is slightly below prewar levels. According to U.S. State Department data, Iraq was producing 3,958 megawatts per month before March 2003, and as of mid-February, production was running at 3,640 megawatts. Baghdad enjoyed 16 to 24 average hours of power per day, and enjoyed an average of 6.7 hours per day in December, 4.4 hours average per day in January, and 5.9 hours so far in February.

The article also says that the counter-insurgency handbook written by new head General David Petraeus doesn't emphasize enough how important providing electricity is to winning hearts and mind. The handbook also recommends 140,000 120,000 troops for Baghdad alone, a number that even Bush's surge won't even be close to meeting for that mission, so what does that tell you?

The Moment We Were Waiting For.

Subpoena time!

A House Judiciary subcommittee approved today the first in what is expected to be an avalanche of subpoenas to Bush administration officials. They will likely explore corruption and mismanagement allegations on everything from pre-war Iraq intelligence to the mishandling of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

The first round of subpoenas concern the recent controversial firings by the Bush administration of seven U.S. attorneys, some of whom were pursuing public corruption cases against Republican members of Congress.

The House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law, chaired by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), approved subpoenas requiring four former U.S. attorneys to appear at a subcommittee hearing next Tuesday. The former U.S. attorneys include Carol Lam of California, David Iglesias of New Mexico, H.E. Cummins III of Arkansas, and John McKay of Washington state. The subcommittee approved the subpoenas by voice vote; no Republican lawmakers were present.

It's about time we see what these Bush bastards have been up to during the six years of Republican rule.

Liberal Media Reaches Past 1865 To Find Skeletons In Obama's Closet

Well, turns out Barak Obama's white mother had ancestors that owned slaves. You hear that Black Amerca? Not only is Obama not black enough, his people once owned y'all!

Update: Just so you know how tone-death of history this "revelation" is, try finding any black person descended from slaves that DIDN'T have any slave-holding ancestors, because of all the, you know, rapes and stuff.

Police Lieutenant Allegedly Called Ellison A Terra-ist

Of course they are denying it as is standard procedure for the purpetually embattled police department, but the two officers who should be well versed in the omerta culture of their department wouldn't have come forward if Lieutenant Kroll haven't said it. And if he did, it wouldn't surprise me at all. The MPD is a bastion of suburban conservatism forever at war with the liberal and mutlicultural elements of the city and at the same time disconnected from it. Which is why the FOP endorsed for the first time ever a Minnesota Senate candidate, and the candidate is Republican Mark Kennedy, despite Amy Klobuchar being the goddamn prosecutor putting their criminals in prisons for so many years.

via Jesse Poppe.

60 Percent Of Americans Are Commie Socialists

So sez New York Times:

A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

. . .The poll found Americans across party lines willing to make some sacrifice to ensure that every American has access to health insurance. Sixty percent, including 62 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans, said they would be willing to pay more in taxes. Half said they would be willing to pay as much as $500 a year more.

Nearly 8 in 10 said they thought it was more important to provide universal access to health insurance than to extend the tax cuts of recent years; 18 percent said the tax cuts were more important.

“I wouldn’t want to pay a lot of taxes, but if it was spread out and everyone paid their fair share, it would be fine,? said Don Galvan, 50, a computer programmer from Ringwood, N.J., who considers himself an independent. “Everybody should have some kind of medical coverage, in case they or their children get sick. Especially children.?

Perhaps we might get a supermajority once stories like this hits the airwaves:

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren’t so hard to find.

If his mother hadn’t been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte’s own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George’s County boy died.

March 1, 2007

Running Our National Guard Into The Ground

Would Bush Junior still play fighter pilot in today's National Guard?

Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.

The report found that heavy deployments of the National Guard and reserves since 2001 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorism missions have deepened shortages, forced the cobbling together of units and hurt recruiting.

"We can't sustain the [National Guard and reserves] on the course we're on," said Arnold L. Punaro, chairman of the 13-member Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, established by Congress in 2005. The independent commission, made up mainly of former senior military and civilian officials appointed by both parties, is tasked to study the mission, readiness and compensation of the reserve forces.

"The Department of Defense is not adequately equipping the National Guard for its domestic missions," the commission's report found. It faulted the Pentagon for a lack of budgeting for "civil support" in domestic emergencies, criticizing the "flawed assumption" that as long as the military is prepared to fight a major war, it is ready to respond to a disaster or emergency at home.

From Virginia and the District of Columbia to Indiana and New Mexico, National Guard units lack thousands of trucks, Humvees, generators, radios, night-vision goggles and other gear that would be critical for responding to a major disaster, terrorist attack or other domestic emergency, according to state Guard officials.

The equipment shortage extends to Gulf Coast states such as Louisiana and Mississippi -- devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina -- where Guard units have only a fraction of what they would need to respond to another large-scale disaster.

The Louisiana Guard, its gear depleted by Iraq and Katrina, is short of Humvees and trucks such as high-water vehicles critical for a major evacuation. "We are really concerned about vehicles," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana Guard. "We would have enough for a small-scale issue . . . maybe a Category 1 tropical storm we could handle -- an event that doesn't involve massive flooding or massive search and rescue," he said. But for bigger disasters, Louisiana would need help from other states.

Update: Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report reminds us of one of Bush's more famous lies during the 2000 campaign:

Of all of Bush’s misstatements from the 2000 presidential election, one of the most obviously-false attacks was on military readiness. Indeed, then-Gov. Bush blamed Clinton and Gore directly for “hollowing out? the military. “If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, ‘Not ready for duty, sir.’? BC00 campaign aides later acknowledged it was a bogus charge, but that didn’t stop Bush from repeating it.

That wasn't a misstatement. It was a promise.

"I F**cked Up, I Trusted Me"

Kevin Drum points us to another mea culpa by a former war supporter, i.e. warblogger. Sure, some of us bleeding heart types might be inclined to forgive him, The Grand Moff Texan has been so embittered by the devastation and carnage caused by such blinding imperialist arrogance to give these pant-pissing mushheads any kind of pass. His cynical takedown of that apology is pretty long, but this comment struck me as the ultimate truth in this so-called Clash of Civilizations:

You were alienated from the people who maintained the same standards of civilization that you pretend to be defending. You were dragged along by the same kind of religious zealots and ideological absolutists you see as a threat, but only when they're Muslims.

You think you are confronting a fundamentalist threat from outside your civilization, but I've been confronted with a fundamentalist threat inside my civilization since I was born. That's why I know better than to fear the former and serve the latter.

Our fundamentalists differ from their fundamentalists only in that ours have killed more people.

Indeed.

Nutpicking In Extremis

These lizardbrain conservative reptiles are so goddamn predictable you can set a watch to them. Glenn Greenwald noted on Tuesday how the reich-wing blogosphere is using the attack on Dick Cheney in Afghanistan as a blunt object to accuse liberals of wanting him dead, utilizing the practice of nutpicking in order to make that case. He predicted that the methane gas from the fever swamps will eventually permeate up to the graven stones of the "legitimate media".

Sure enough, on his blog Media Notes, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz gives these rantings the airplay they don't deserve (although he did emphasize eventually that the random and anonymous blog comments that these accusation of liberal treason are based upon shouldn't be taken too seriously.)

Once again, Glenn Greenwald does the legwork and argumentation necessary to put these clowns in line. I'm just giving him the airplay that he deserves.

98 BAYBEE!

98th percentile on the PCAT man, BOOYAH!

Now if I can only do something about my GPA, I'm all in. . .

I Think I've Seen This Movie Before

"Morons" is the only word to describe these. . .these. . .morons:

Last October, the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device, the fruition of decades of work to make a weapon out of plutonium.

For nearly five years, though, the Bush administration, based on intelligence estimates, has accused North Korea of also pursuing a secret, parallel path to a bomb, using enriched uranium. That accusation, first leveled in the fall of 2002, resulted in the rupture of an already tense relationship: The United States cut off oil supplies, and the North Koreans responded by throwing out international inspectors, building up their plutonium arsenal and, ultimately, producing that first plutonium bomb.

But now, American intelligence officials are publicly softening their position, admitting to doubts about how much progress the uranium enrichment program has actually made. The result has been new questions about the Bush administration’s decision to confront North Korea in 2002.

“The question now is whether we would be in the position of having to get the North Koreans to give up a sizable arsenal if this had been handled differently,? a senior administration official said this week.

. . .Two administration officials, who declined to be identified, suggested that if the administration harbored the same doubts in 2002 that it harbored now, the negotiating strategy for dealing with North Korea might have been different — and the tit-for-tat actions that led to October’s nuclear test could, conceivably, have been avoided.

Because WorstPresidentEver decided to engage in brinksmanship over an uranium enrichment program that is probably non-existant, scrapping the "toothless" Agreed Framework letting the North Koreans use the plutonium they already had to make the nuclear weapons that they didn't have five years ago. And we are supposed to believe these snakes about what they have to say about Iran? Fool me twice, shame. . .shame on you. . .

Good God, I'm Agreeing With Him

He gets it about right. Why have full fledged classrooms and a college campus when student-professor interactions are not necessary? Why not just have online classes and cut some major costs?

"Stop Snitching" Campaign Doing It's Job

stopsnitching.jpg
Does Not Help Reduce Crime And Misery


With Witnesses at Risk, Murder Suspects Go Free

When Yusef Johnson, a 15-year-old honors student, was killed outside an apartment complex here so gang-infested it is known as Crazyville, a witness came forward within days and told the police she knew the man she had seen fire the fatal shots.

In another case three months later, in November 2005, officers found two people who identified a street gang leader as the man they saw kill a marijuana dealer named Valterez Coley during a dispute over a woman.

And when Isaiah Stewart, a 17-year-old wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet from a recent brush with the law, was gunned down that December, another Newark teenager sketched a diagram of the crime scene, correctly identified the murder weapon and named a former classmate as the person he had watched commit the crime.

They seem like slam-dunk cases, but none of the three suspects have been arrested. It is not that detectives are unsure of their identity or cannot find them. Rather, it is because so many recent cases here have been scuttled when witnesses were scared silent that the Essex County prosecutor has established an unwritten rule discouraging pursuit of cases that rely on a single witness, and those in which witness statements are not extensively corroborated by forensic evidence.

The 3 are among at least 14 recent murders in Newark in which witnesses have clearly identified the killers but no charges have been filed, infuriating local police commanders and victims’ relatives.

In 8 of the 14 cases, according to court documents and police reports, there was more than one witness; in two of them, off-duty police officers were among those identifying the suspects. But in a DNA era, these are cases with little or no physical evidence, and they often involve witnesses whose credibility could be compromised by criminal history or drug problems, or both.

“No one wants to solve these cases and lock up the killers in these cases more than we do,? the county prosecutor, Paula T. Dow, said in a recent interview. “But we have to weigh the evidence and move forward only if we believe that the witnesses are credible and that they’ll be there to testify at trial.?

The tension between the police and prosecutors here over the evolving standards of evidence required to authorize arrest warrants is a stark example of the profound effect witness intimidation is having on the criminal justice system in New Jersey and across the country.

Surveys conducted by the National Youth Gang Center, which is financed by the federal Department of Justice, have found that 88 percent of urban prosecutors describe witness intimidation as a serious problem.

In both Baltimore and Boston, where “stop snitching? campaigns by rap artists and gang leaders have urged city residents not to cooperate with the authorities, prosecutors estimate that witnesses face some sort of intimidation in 80 percent of all homicide cases.

In Essex County, prosecutors report that witnesses in two-thirds of their homicides receive overt threats not to testify, with defendants and their supporters sometimes canvassing witnesses’ neighborhoods wearing T-shirts printed with the witnesses’ photographs or distributing copies of their statements to the police.

Dozens of New Jersey murder cases have been undone over the past five years after witnesses were killed, disappeared before trial or changed their stories.

Look, a lot of people don't like the police - unless of course you need them, then they can't show up fast enough. So the grassroots support for the "Stop Snitching" campaign is just wrongheaded in so many ways.

On the other hand, the witness protection programs at the local level is just deplorable, so unless these states like having criminals run free, they should start being serious about protecting those that will help make the case against the predators.