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April 30, 2007

Postscript To Darren Bernard's War On American Tech Workers

Remember how Bernard is oh-so-concerned about the shortage of qualified tech workers in this country that we must flood the marketplace with imports from India or China? Well, a study from Duke University shows that the reason why tech companies are clamoring to hire more foreigners is NOT because of quality and NOT because of quantity, but because of simple greed: foreign workers costs less money than domestic worker. Way to stick up for the bottom line, Darren.

Devilstower at The Daily Kos has more.

When Republicans Debate Immigration

Wow.

Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's influence on illegal immigrants.

The group was unable to take official action because not enough members stuck around long enough to vote, despite the pleadings of party officials. The convention was held at Canyon View Junior High School.

Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention, Larsen told those gathered that illegal immigrants "hate American people" and "are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won't do."

Illegal aliens are in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats, are trying to "destroy Christian America" and replace it with "a godless new world order -- and that is not extremism, that is fact," Larsen said.

At the end of his speech, Larsen began to cry, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. "by self invasion."

Republican officials then allowed speakers to defend and refute the resolution. One speaker, who was identified as "Joe," said illegal immigrants were Marxist and under the influence of the devil. Another, who declined to give her name to the Daily Herald, said illegal immigrants should not be allowed because "they are not going to become Republicans and stop flying the flag upside down. ... If they want to be Americans, they should learn to speak English and fly their flag like we do."

(via Crooks and Liars)

"We Were All Given The Wrong Intelligence"

Gary Trudeau, the cartoonist of the daily strip Doonesbury, is kind enough to rerun some period strips this week in order to put to rest that weak CYA excuse being peddled by the warmongers.

doonesbury.gif

April 28, 2007

Scandal Fatigue

When I hear of another lurid scandal like this that forces another Bush administration figure to resign, I think of this Simpson episode:

Burns: Well, doc, I think I did pretty well on my tests. You may shake my hand if you like.
Doctor: Well, under the circumstances, I'd rather not.
Burns: Eh?
Doctor: Mr. Burns, I'm afraid you are the sickest man in the United States. You have everything.
Burns: You mean I have pneumonia?
Doctor: Yes.
Burns: Juvenile diabetes?
Doctor: Yes.
Burns: Hysterical pregnancy?
Doctor: Uh, a little bit, yes. You also have several diseases that have just been discovered -- in you.
Burns: I see. You sure you haven't just made thousands of mistakes?
Doctor: Uh, no, no, I'm afraid not.
Burns: This sounds like bad news.
Doctor: Well, you'd think so, but all of your diseases are in perfect balance. Uh, if you have a moment, I can explain.
Burns: Well ... [looks at his watch] [the Doctor puts a tiny model house door on his desk]
Doctor: Here's the door to your body, see? [bring up some small fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk] And these are oversized novelty germs. [points to a different one up as he names each disease] That's influenza, that's bronchitis, [holds up one] and this cute little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here's what happens when they all try to get through the door at once. [tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The "germs" get stuck] [Stooge-like] Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Move it, chowderhead! [normal voice] We call it, "Three Stooges Syndrome."
Burns: So what you're saying is, I'm indestructible!
Doctor: Oh, no, no, in fact, even slight breeze could --
Burns: Indestructible.

To be fair, it's not a very good episode to begin with, but the point is still valid. There are so many scandals swirling around this administration that it's hard for any one person to keep track of, or for him to find one to focus on. And sadly, it is to their advantage.

Water Wet, Grass Green, Waronterra Makes More Terra. . .

Annual report on worldwide terrorism says that it has increased by 25 percent. Let's go to the tape:

WASHINGTON — A State Department report on terrorism due out next week will show a more than 25 percent increase in terror attacks worldwide in 2006 to over 14,000 -- almost all of it due to incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Based on data compiled by the U.S. intelligence community’s National Counterterrorism Center, the reports says there were 14,338 terror attacks last year, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005. Forty-five percent of the attacks took place in Iraq.

Five U.S. officials with knowledge of the report agreed to discuss it on the condition they not be identified.

Worldwide, about 5,800 people were killed in terrorist attacks, also up from 2005. The figures for Iraq and elsewhere are limited to attacks on noncombatants, and do not include strikes against U.S. troops in Iraq. The annual report’s release comes in the midst of a bitter feud between the White House and Congress over funding for U.S. troops in Iraq, in which Democrats controlling both houses favor a deadline to begin a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year’s edition, due to the extreme political sensitivities, several officials said. But ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or about the congressionally mandated deadline of Tuesday, the officials said.

More Time In Eye-Rack Means Less Stress On Troops

Nope, it's not a story from The Onion.

Extended overseas deployments affecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other locales overseen by U.S. Central Command should help to alleviate the stress on the Army, a senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today.

“I’m absolutely confident that that’s going to work and that’ll manage the pressure and the stress on the force,? Army Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, said during a satellite-carried news conference.

. . .The tour extensions will provide more predictability and stability for soldiers and their families, [Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno] said, noting the policy “will ensure 12 months at home station between rotations.?

Keep Those Goalposts Moving

When Bush says no timetables, he MEANS no timetables or any of its variants: no benchmarks, no goals, no progress reports, no hope:

The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush's top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.

This is just more evidence that the surge is nothing more than a cynical delaying tactic, a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Worst President Ever. Come September when the check is due, the shrubster will just smirk and say "um, yeah, about that. I know Eye-rack is an ungodly fuck-up, but as you can see there is a presidential campaign going on. It's going to be up to the next president to unshit my bed. Ain't my problem no more, Heh-heh-heh-heh!"

A poster on Kevin Drum's blog said it perfectly: if the term FUBAR hasn't been invented, we'd need to think up another word to describe Eye-Rack and the Bush administration in general. Yet, we have to live in a free world that has a leader that defines success as never having to admit he is wrong.

April 27, 2007

Imus Gets Canned, Limbaugh Stays

And the corporate media and the political elite remain oblivious.

Why We Call Them Wankers

Indeed.

(via Atrios)

More High Broderism

When a Democrat does it, it's called "flip-flopping". When Weathervane McCain does it, it's called being a straight talker - again - and "speaking his mind".

Your Washington press corps at work.

"Slam Dunk" Was Misinterpreted

George Tenet should have stayed in his bunker where he belonged. Now instead of him saying the case for the existence of Saddam's weaponsofmassdestruction was a "slam dunk", he is now saying that "slam dunk" referred to how easy it would be to lie to Americans about Saddam's weaponsofmassdestruction.

Got it? The actual existence of the weapons, as was being proven by the UN inpsectors, was not a slam dunk. But lying about it to warbots would be a piece of cake. And anyone who says otherwise are being mean to him.

Asshat.

Digging For Obama's Race Problem

I wonder how Steve Sailer would treat Barack Obama if the latter swore up and down that he is whiter than a winter in Aspen? To his face, he'd probably pet him on his fuzzy head and tell him "good boy", while in private he'd tell his friends, "Can you believe that mule-atto? Heh!"

April 26, 2007

The Army Lies Again

Yep, exclude bombings when making war statistics. . .that's fuggin' brilliant:

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Others, however, say that not counting bombing victims skews the evidence of how well the Baghdad security plan is protecting the civilian population - one of the surge's main goals.

"Since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option, they are redefining success in a way that suits them," said James Denselow, an Iraq specialist at London-based Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank.

Riverbend Calls It Quits

The blog "Baghdad Burning" written by the anonymous native Iraqi who calls herself "Riverbend" has been a must-see resource for those who were against or have turned against the useless Eye-Rack war. Her insights and her speed to call bullshit on most of the policies implemented by Bush and the neocons were invaluable. But her posts have become very infrequent because of the violence, and now she reports that she is on her way to either Syria or Jordan. That decision is the greatest indictment against the war she had been railing against from the start.

Darren Bernard Hates American Workers

That's what I can tell from reading Bernard's latest piece, if I am allowed to be as fair in my characterizations as he is fair in his characterizations. Corporate suck-up that he is, he parrots the company line by credulously using Bill Gates as "proof" that Chinese programmers are superior to American programmers, which is just Exhibit 1A in his attempt to give favortism to foreign workers over American workers. Sure he cites happy news that unemployment in the tech sector is at lows, except he fails to mention that those lows are the result of frustrated former tech workers leaving the tech industry altogether. Way to keep looking out for us Americans, Darren!

The De-evolution Of The Blame-Iraqis-First Campaign

Remember before and during the first part of the war how it's wrong and downright RACIST to deny the Eye-Rackees the pleasures and comfort of a Jeffersonian democracy that is guaranteed to be the result of WorstPresidentEver's invasion of that country? How come freedom is good for us but not good for the Arabs? Huh?

Well, the leading warmongers, having to deal with the chaos on the ground, have retreated back to their regressive, illiberal FAUXholes and have intensified their blamemongering on the "knuckle-dragging" Iraqis:

On the April 23 broadcast of his Fox News Radio show, John Gibson argued that the Iraqi people -- whom he described as "knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century" -- are at "fault" for the situation in Iraq. While discussing Iraq, Gibson said: "The one thing that drives me up the wall is [people] saying, 'Look at all the deaths you Americans have caused in Iraq.' No! 'Scuse me? We invaded the place, we knocked over Saddam, and then Iraqis began killing each other." Later in the show, Gibson agreed with a caller that the Coalition Provisional Authority's 2003 decision to purge the civil service of all former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and disband the Iraqi army "was a mistake." Gibson then stated: "[B]ut who is doing this killing? Give me a break. These are Iraqis killing each other. So what did we do? If you're saying it's our fault that we unmasked them as knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century -- fine! I'll take credit."

You know, if the Arab world had the equivalent of CAMERA, MEMRI to track racist and genocidally anti-Arab statements made in the Western media, they will have no shortage of examples like John Gibson's garbage.

(via Atrios)

April 25, 2007

Another Zombie Lie Against Abortion Revealed

Ezra Klein feels stupid linking to a massive longitudinal study whose conclusion says that having an abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer.

I don't.

The Unraveling Of The Puppet Strings

What? Do we really want a strong national leader in the guise of Egypt's Nasser? I think, privately, we wanted this because the previous prime minister, Ibrahim Jafaari was not being enough of a team player:

BAGHDAD — A broad range of prominent Iraqi lawmakers say they have lost confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to reconcile the country's warring factions. A leading Kurdish lawmaker said al-Maliki should resign.

Legislators from several parties told USA TODAY that al-Maliki lacks the support in parliament to push through laws, such as a plan to distribute oil revenues, that could reduce tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq's parliament has failed to pass major legislation since a U.S.-led security plan began on Feb. 14.

"He is a weak prime minister," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator who supported al-Maliki until recently. "This government hasn't delivered and is not capable of doing the job. They should resign."

The loss of support came as Democrats agreed Monday on legislation that would force U.S. troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1. President Bush, who said he would veto the bill, has argued that Iraq's government needs more time to calm sectarian violence.

April 24, 2007

Why I Hate Georgia IV

Yeah, I kinda figured I was in a different world when a white classmate of mine called a black girl a "nigger" in front of everybody, reducing her to tears, and he never suffered any repercussions. And this was back in 1995, not exactly the Dark Ages, for the rest of us anyways. But that was Athens, a college town, home of the University of Georgia Bull Dawgs, so it's just slightly less cosmopolitan than 'Lana. In Billyland, however, it gets a lot worse:

ASHBURN, Georgia (CNN) -- Students of Turner County High School started what they hope will become a new tradition: Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday.

In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.

"Whites always come to this one and blacks always go to this one," said Lacey Adkinson, a 14-year-old freshman at the school of 455 students -- 55 percent black, 43 percent white.


Kurds To The Rescue!

Yep, 20 percent of the population should be able to control the other 80 percent. Yeah, that's the ticket:

The Shiite mother and her son opened their door for the soldiers on night patrol. In walked the Americans, each brandishing an M-16 assault rifle. Next came the men wearing tan uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs and looking not quite Iraqi.

They spoke Arabic with accents as thick as crude oil. "Are there problems in the neighborhood?" said their leader, Captain Sardar Hamasala. "We're here for your safety. Let us know if there are sectarian problems or other kinds of problems - Sunnis threatening Shia, Shia threatening Sunnis." The black-robed mother and her son shook their hands. The soldiers stepped back into the cool night air of western Baghdad.

"The reason why people are willing to trust the 1-3-4 is because they're Kurdish," said Captain Benjamin Morales, 28, commander of Company B of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, the U.S. partner unit of Hamasala's company. "They don't live in the area. They don't care about Sunni or Shia."

This is quite possibly the first time since the days of Saladin, the revered 12th-century Kurdish warrior-king, that Kurdish forces have occupied swaths of Baghdad. They have been ordered to secure the streets for their historic enemies, the Arabs. He added later: "Here, they still talk about what happened 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. That's the way the Arabs think."

The UN Caves Again

This is what happens when you have a purported international organization that is simply the handmaiden of Bush's United States:

BAGHDAD (AP) - The United Nations will not include Iraqi civilian casualty figures in its next human rights report, a spokesman said Friday, omitting what many had viewed as a rare, reliable indicator of suffering in Iraq.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq had been releasing bimonthly reports assessing the human rights situation and providing death and injury tolls.

The last report was issued in late January, and U.N. officials in Baghdad had been saying for weeks that the new version would be released soon.

Mission spokesman Said Arikat told The Associated Press that the next report would be released on Wednesday, but he said it would cover a three-month period starting in January and would not have a casualty toll.

Arikat said casualty figures could be released "in the near future." He declined to elaborate on that issue before a news conference on Wednesday


The Rise Of The Settlers

You know the peace in Palestine is elusive when these parasites are gaining political momentum:

HEBRON, West Bank, April 20 — One night last month, 100 Jewish settlers marched down the main road here with little more than a stack of sleeping bags and claimed a vacant four-story building in the middle of an Arab neighborhood.

When an Israeli officer arrived to investigate, they handed him papers that they said proved they were the new rightful owners. After he left, they danced and sang to celebrate the first major compound that Jews had acquired in the ancient city of Hebron in two decades.

Spring 2007 was not expected to be a time of settler assertion. After the evacuation of 9,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza 20 months ago, Ehud Olmert was elected prime minister on a platform that included removing thousands more settlers from the West Bank and an end to the occupation of large swaths of that territory.

But much has changed in the past year. The militants of Hamas are in power in the Palestinian government, and Israel’s war with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah last summer has left Mr. Olmert politically weak.

Those who took over the Hebron building now say with confidence that they will stay for many decades.

“We know that we must say, ‘This is my place,’ and be determined to live in it,? said Yesca Levinger, 31, who is sharing a small room in the building with her husband and three children.

Political analysts say the settlers see an opening.

“They finished licking their wounds,? said Akiva Eldar, a columnist for Haaretz. “They feel much stronger because there is a kind of consensus that the disengagement was a mistake. They paid the price for the mistake, they are the underdogs and everybody in the Israeli mainstream has to ask for their forgiveness. The government will be very careful not to touch them.?

On Tuesday, Israel’s Independence Day, thousands of advocates plan to march to the site of Homesh, a northern West Bank settlement that the government evacuated in 2005. This week, the Israeli news media quoted military officials offering approval of the march, but on Friday they appeared to reverse that decision. A spokesman for the Israeli Army said officers would “take legal action? against anyone who tried to enter the area.

But organizers say warnings are not likely to matter in the West Bank, where blue and white posters proclaiming “Return to Homesh? were plastered on nearly every bus stop. Such protests have already had some success — when an evacuation of a settlement in Amona erupted in violent clashes, the army and the government were criticized as much as the settlers.

Come on, the Israelis weren't serious about stemming the West Bank settlers anyways, according to this:

For each of the last five years, the population of the settlements has grown by nearly 5 percent, twice the rate of the previous average growth, according to Peace Now, a group that opposes the settlements and closely tracks them. Kiryat Arba, the Jewish settlement less than a mile northeast of Hebron, has more than doubled in the last two decades, to 7,000 residents today. Hebron itself, considered to have some of the most uncompromising of the settlers, has some 700 Jews.

Outsourcing Torture In Eye-Rack

Since we are now relying on Saddam-era tactics in waging the war, let's just say we've failed in our mission and move on:

In one of the new joint American-Iraqi security stations in the capital this month, in the volatile Ghazaliya neighborhood, Capt. Darren Fowler was heaping praise on his Iraqi counterparts for helping capture three insurgent suspects who had provided information he believed would save American lives.

“The detainee gave us names from the highest to the lowest,? Captain Fowler told the Iraqi soldiers. “He showed us their safe houses, where they store weapons and I.E.D.’s and where they keep kidnap victims, how they get weapons, where weapons come from, how they place I.E.D.’s, attack us and go away. Because you detained this guy this is the first intelligence linking everything together. Good job. Very good job.?

The Iraqi officers beamed. What the Americans did not know and what the Iraqis had not told them was that before handing over the detainees to the Americans, the Iraqi soldiers had beaten one of them in front of the other two, the Iraqis said. The stripes on the detainee’s back, which appeared to be the product of a whipping with electrical cables, were later shown briefly to a photographer, who was not allowed to take a picture.

To the Iraqi soldiers, the treatment was normal and necessary. They were proud of their technique and proud to have helped the Americans.

“I prepared him for the Americans and let them take his confession,? Capt. Bassim Hassan said through an interpreter. “We know how to make them talk. We know their back streets. We beat them. I don’t beat them that much, but enough so he feels the pain and it makes him desperate.?

April 21, 2007

John Edwards Gets $400 Haircuts? Oh My!

Jumping down John Edward's throat and calling him some sort of hypocrite because he advocates for the poor while living an opulent lifestyle is a bit like criticizing someone who is concerned about AIDS in Africa for not getting AIDS and moving to Uganda.

This nation has suffered immensely because the media has successfully convinced enough people that Dumbya is the guy you'd rather have a beer with, despite his New England prep school and Ivy league pedigree. Why are so many quick to repeat the same mistakes again? Are old habit just too hard to shake off?

(via Atrios)

April 20, 2007

Catholic Church Abolishes Concept Of Limbo

Wow. So catholic church doctrine is NOT set in stone. Pay close attention all ye absolutists, who are quick to defend the Church's stance on the all-male clergy, homosexuality, and abortion:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation," according to the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which obtained a copy on Friday.

The thumbs-down verdict on limbo had been expected for years and the document, called "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised," was seen as most likely to be final since limbo was never formally part of Church doctrine.

Pope Benedict authorized the publication of the document.

According to the CNS report, the 41-page document says the theologians advising the Pope concluded that since God is merciful he "wants all human beings to be saved."

It says grace has priority over sin, and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ's special love for children, CNS, which is owned by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, quoted the document as saying.

Limbo, which comes from the Latin word meaning "border" or "edge," was considered by medieval theologians to be a state or place reserved for the unbaptised dead, including good people who lived before the coming of Christ.

"Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered ... give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptised infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision (of God)," the document said, according to CNS which is part of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference.

Tim Wise On Don Imus

Tim Wise has finally put out a long awaited column, and as usual he doesn't disappoint. He pretty much hits the nail on the head early on in the essay, an observation that is typically missing from the usual commentary:

One thing has been made clear by the Imus incident: namely, white folks are incapable of blaming other whites for white racism and racist behavior. Despite all the demands by whites that blacks take "personal responsibility" for their lives, their behaviors, and the problems that often beset their communities--and especially that they stop blaming whites for their station in life--the fact is, we can't wait to blame someone else when we, or one of ours, screws up. So please note, from virtually every corner of the white media (and from black conservatives who are quick to let whites off the hook no matter what we do), the conversation has shifted from Imus's racism to a full-scale assault on rap music and hip-hop. In other words, it's those black people's fault when one of ours calls them a name. After all, they do it themselves, and Imus can't be expected not to say "ho" if Ice Cube has done it. At this point, I'm halfway expecting to hear Bill O'Reilly say that white folks wouldn't have even heard words like nigger if it weren't for 50 Cent.

Yep. We always hear about how blacks as a group can't take personal responsibility for their violent booty-shaking hip-hop jungle music, but Don Imus is treated as a special case and not a product of a white-owned media empire that fails to be sensitive to racism.

Tim Wise also says something that I have been meaning to say for a while about this controversy:

But blaming rap is not only conveniently opportunistic, and intellectually dishonest, given all the pandering about personal responsibility. It also ignores the reasons why rap music sometimes--though not as uniformly as some seem to believe--peddles images of violence, or lyrics that are sexist. After all, if eighty percent of all rap music purchases are made by whites (and that is the conventional wisdom), then white consumers must be responding, via their purchases, to an already held impression of black people. Without such a pre-existing mental schema firmly in place, the images of blacks as gangstas, pimps, dealers and "hos" wouldn't resonate nearly so much as to make possible billions of dollars of sales annually. In other words, perhaps whites need to consider the possibility that the thug image has been marketable, and thus created a financial incentive for black artists to play to that trope because these images comport with the negative things that much of white America believes about blacks in the first place. Things which they believed, it should be noted, long before Cool Herc threw his first house party in the Bronx.

If white folks were interested in buying CDs by rap artists who sang about radical social transformation and community uplift--and yes there are many, many such artists out there--then that's the music that would be churned out in larger numbers. But white consumers aren't, by and large, looking to buy songs about overthrowing the system from which we benefit. White boys in the stale and lifeless 'burbs would rather listen to songs about guns and drugs, and being a thug, through which music they can live a more exciting life, if only in their fantasies. So in the ultimate irony, it is white buyers who make that kind of rap profitable, but instead of asking for any responsibility from them, we blame the artists for doing what they're supposed to do in a capitalist system, which is respond to market demand, no matter the social consequences. Naturally, of course, it isn't capitalism that gets the blame--a thoroughly European creation that has brought misery to millions, as did state socialism (another issue from the womb of Europe)--but rather, the black folks who have taken the bait offered by the market system. Even better is to read Cal Thomas's column from this week, in which he blamed liberal values and permissiveness for the coarseness of rap music, rather than the values trumpeted by the right, like profit-making.

Actually, the data shows that the percentage of those who buy rap albums are as high as 75 percent or as low as 60 percent. But the fact of the matter is that whites still maintain the singular power to influence the hip-hop market, and the result is the prevalence of violent, mysoginistic music that is laced in greedy opulence. I recently saw a documentary on PBS where hundreds of aspiring rap artists are lined up outside a recording company competing for a deal. Nearly all of them are spitting the same old "hard" lyrics that is the staple of today's hip-hop, but when asked by the interviewer why they can't be more positive, all were unanimous in saying that the suits refuse to hear anything other than gangsta violence, money and hos. Which brings us to the lesson that the same media companies that have brought us Don Imus are the exact same media companies that gave us today's rap music. The fact that the black community is to blame for that phenomenon is absurd. At worst, some have entirely internalized the trash they hear and see.

"Are We In The West Bank?"

We have clearly ran out of ideas and lost the war if we actually go through with this:

U.S. to cut off Baghdad neighborhood with barrier
Commanders hope the wall will prevent attacks on the Sunni Arab districts it surrounds.
By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer April 19, 2007

BAGHDAD -- A U.S. military brigade is constructing a three-mile-long concrete wall to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city.

U.S. commanders in northern Baghdad say the 12-foot-high barrier will make it more difficult for suicide bombers, death squads and militia fighters from sectarian factions to attack one another and slip back to their home turf. Construction began last week and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Although Baghdad is replete with blast walls, checkpoints and other temporary barriers, including a massive wall around the Green Zone, the wall being constructed in Adhamiya would be the first to essentially divide a neighborhood by sect....

. . .Sunnis and Shiites living in the shadow of the barrier are united in their contempt for the imposing new structure.

"Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?" said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who identified himself as Abu Ahmed, 44. "This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation."

. . .Several residents interviewed likened the project to the massive barriers built around some Palestinians zones in Israel.

"Are we in the West Bank?" asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said that access to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya has been cut off.

Come on, we can't run an occupation without an occupation wall, can we? The Israelis are never wrong when it comes to that sort of thing [/sarcasm]

The Return Of The Death Squads

Now what surge protectors?

Death squads are returning to the streets of Baghdad despite the security plan for the capital launched with great fanfare by the US two months ago.

As Iraqis bury the 230 people killed or found dead on Wednesday, ominous signs are appearing that the Shia militias have resumed their tit-for-tat killings. There is a sharp increase in the number of dead bodies found bearing signs of torture, with 67 corpses discovered dumped in Baghdad in the first three days of the week.

People in Baghdad, both Shia and Sunni, do not dare move bodies left lying in the rubbish outside their doors though they sometimes cover them with a blanket. One corpse was left lying for days in the centre of a main commercial street in the Sunni bastion of al-Adhamiyah in east Baghdad. He was believed to be a victim of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which has been killing Sunni who belong to other guerrilla groups or are associated with the government. Local people say that US and Iraqi forces stationed in a newly renovated police station in al-Adhamiyah as part of the security plan seem unaware of what is happening around them.

. . .The truce by the Mehdi Army militia, though never total, may now be ending because it was met with an escalation in violence by the Sunni insurgents. In a gruesome video posted on the internet a group linked to al-Qa'ida showed a masked gunman shooting 20 kidnap victims, all police or soldiers, in the back of the head. The group had demanded the freeing of all female prisoners by the government.


April 19, 2007

Training Eye-Rackee Army No Longer A Priority

I guess they weren't standing up fast enough:

WASHINGTON - Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.

But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.

Grand Old Police Blotter Days

Wow, two Republican lawmakers, two raids and two resignations in two days? It might not be a record, but still:

In a second blow to House Republicans this week, the FBI raided a business tied to the family of Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) Thursday afternoon as part of an ongoing investigation into the three-term lawmaker.

Details of the raid on Patriot Insurance Agency in Sonoita, Ariz., were not immediately available. Renzi’s most recent financial disclosure form lists the business as an asset belonging to his wife, Roberta, and valued at $1 million to $5 million.

Little is known about the inquiries into Renzi’s activities, but according to media reports the Justice Department has been running a two-track investigation into Renzi regarding a land deal, as well as a piece of legislation he helped steer that may have improperly benefited a major campaign contributor. It was not immediately clear which investigation the raid pertained to, and neither his attorney nor his spokesman could be immediately reached for comment.

As a result of the raid, Renzi is stepping down from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office obtained Thursday evening by Roll Call.

“Today, the FBI came to my family’s business to obtain documents related to their investigation,? Renzi said. “I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth. Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation.?

And that's following the raid on Rep. John Doolittle's property.

Harry Reid: The Iraq War Is Lost

I remember when a certain Howard Dean said those words, and everybody thought he was cuuuh-raaaaaayzeeeee!

The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday. "I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.

Reid said he had delivered the same message to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, when the US president met with senior lawmakers to discuss how to end a standoff over an emergency war funding bill.

"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."

FAUX Nooze Push Poll: Withdrawal From Eye-Rack Is NOT Surrender

Well, well, what have we here?:

One Senator recently claimed that setting a date for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is more accurately described as a date for surrender — do you think it is accurate to compare withdrawal with surrender?

Yes: 33 percent
No: 61 percent

(via ThinkProgress.org)

Parallel Justice Systems Still Exists

But it's not about race - really!

HOUSTON -- After spending a year behind bars, Shaquanda Cotton walked out of a central Texas youth prison Saturday pretty much like many 15-year-olds would: eager for a hug from her mom and pining for a Big Mac.

So McDonald's was the first stop for the soft-spoken black teenager, who was abruptly released by Texas officials after nationwide civil rights protests erupted over her sentence of up to 7 years for shoving a teacher's aide at her high school.

"I feel like I have a second chance," she said, moments after devouring her hamburger. "I'm going to be a better person now. I'm a good person, but I want to be a better person."

. . .At the heart of the controversy, which exploded across hundreds of Internet blogs and then scores of newspapers and radio and TV stations in the last three weeks, was the seeming severity of the teenager's sentence for an offense that caused no documentable injury to the teacher's aide.

Three months before Cotton, who had no prior criminal record, was sentenced by Paris Judge Chuck Superville in March, 2006, to up to seven years in youth prison for the shoving incident, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl convicted of the more serious crime of arson to probation. Later, when the white teenager violated her probation, Superville gave her yet another chance and declined to send her to prison. Only when the youth violated her probation a second time did the judge order her locked up.

School officials, the Paris district attorney and the judge have all strongly denied that race played a role in the prosecution and sentencing of Cotton. But her case has coincided with an ongoing investigation of the Paris school district by the U.S. Department of Education, which is examining allegations that the district systemically discriminates against black students by disciplining them more frequently

That's One Way To Duck A Midterm

Apparently a theory surrounding yesterday's closure of 8 East Bank buildings is because there was a Chemistry 1021 midterm scheduled that day:

Patel said she wasn't sure about the motives of the threat, but Chemistry 1021 had a test and said that "could be the reason."

"I don't know what was going on in that person's head when they announced the bomb threat," she said.

Heather Raco, first year pre-veterinary student, said she had a test in Smith Hall right before it was evacuated.

Raco said she left the building for a coffee break and when she came back all the doors were locked.

She and many other students had a chemistry mid-term in Smith Hall later in the day, she said.

Come on, I took that class, it's only 30 questions, multiple choice. If it was organic chemistry, then maybe I would have understood the need for the threat.

And Here Comes The Thought Police

Because rational thinking after national tragedies are soooo last century:

BOULDER (AP) - A University of Colorado junior has been arrested, and suspended from school, after allegedly making comments that sounded sympathetic to the Virginia Tech gunman.

Police arrested CU-Boulder student Max Karson on suspicion of interfering with staff, faculty or students of an educational institution.

CU police Commander Brad Wiesley says Karson made comments about understanding how someone could kill 32 people - during a class Tuesday.

Students reported the comments at about 1 p.m. Wiesley says people in the class interpreted Karson's statements as threats.

Actually, it appears that this kid is not exactly your model student But does this constitute making a specific threat? No. Did he have plans to do harm against anyone? No. Does what he did constitute yelling "fire" in a crowded theater? No. So what kind of police state are we living in?

The Debate Is Over. Bush Has Lost

Bush can go ahead and veto the Democratic war funding bill. He's not going to win any friends beyond the 30-percent dead-enders he's already got:

In the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, taken April 10-12, 69 percent of Americans say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq. That's the most negative assessment yet recorded, up from 54 percent who thought things were going badly last June and 62 percent in October.

The public's view: it's not working. Only 29 percent of Americans believe that sending additional troops to Iraq will make it more likely the U.S. will achieve its goals there. Only 21 percent believe the U.S. and its allies are winning; the prevailing view (62 percent) is that neither side is winning.

. . .Asked which side they take in the standoff between Congress and President Bush, the result is not close: 60 percent of Americans side with the Democrats in Congress and 37 percent with the President.

That 37 percent is a persistent figure.

-- 37 percent say if President Bush vetoes the Iraq funding bill, Congress should pass a bill with no timetable for withdrawal. 48 percent favor another bill with a timetable, and 13 percent want Congress to cut almost all funds for Iraq by next year (making a total of 61 percent who favor restrictions on funding).

-- 37 percent want the U.S. to keep troops in Iraq as long as they are needed. 35 percent want the U.S. to begin withdrawing immediately and 26 percent want to see all U.S. troops withdrawn by next March (making a total of 61 percent for withdrawal within a year).

April 18, 2007

VT Killer Was Institutionalized, Was Still Able To Get A Gun

Sure, there may have been a time when faced with a tragedy like the one in Virginia, we would have put political ideology and blamemongering aside for collective mourning. But, as WorstPresidentEver loves to say, 9-11 changed everything, when right after the attack, blaming liberals for being pussies and Muslims everywhere for not going on their knees and begging for forgiveness was all en vogue. So, if we must point fingers, we must point them at the forces that have allowed former mental patients easy access to handguns:

April 18, 2007 — A court found that Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho was "mentally ill" and potentially dangerous. Then it let him go.

In December 2005 — more than a year before Monday's mass shootings — a district court in Montgomery County, Va., ruled that Cho presented "an imminent danger to self or others." That was the necessary criterion for a detention order, so that Cho, who had been accused of stalking by two female schoolmates, could be evaluated by a state doctor and ordered to undergo outpatient care.

. . .Police obtained the 2005 detention order from a local magistrate after it was determined by a state-certified employee that Cho's apparent mental state met the threshold for the temporary detention order.

Under Virginia law, "A magistrate has the authority to issue a detention order upon a finding that a person is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization or treatment.


Wendell Flinchum, the chief of the Virginia Tech police department, said that it's common for university police to work with state-affiliated mental health facilities instead of on-campus counseling because it is easier to obtain a detention order.

"We normally go through access [appealing to the state's legal system for help] because they have the power to commit people if they need to be committed," Flinchum said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Cho was taken to Carilion St. Albans Behavioral Health Center in Radford, Va., a private facility that can take 162 inpatients, according to court documents.

Other news reports said that a form Seung-Hui filled contained a section asking if he received any involuntary psychiatric help. He put down "no" and no background check was done. Simple as that, easy as pie.

We'll Control Our Own Country By The End Of The Year. . .Really, I Swear!. . .Why Are You Laughing? Stoppit!

Boy, Bush really picked a cut-up to replace Jafaari, didn't he?

The apparently coordinated onslaught, the deadliest in Baghdad since George Bush implemented his security surge two months ago, provided sobering punctuation to a declaration by Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who announced that Iraqi forces would assume control of security in every Iraqi province by the end of the year. Yesterday, British forces transferred control of Maysan province, making it the fourth of 18 to be handed to Iraqi control.

But Baghdad is a different matter. Mr Maliki has been under huge pressure from the anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a political ally, to commit to a timetable for US-led foreign troops to leave Iraq. But Mr Maliki insists that a withdrawal must be linked to conditions on the ground. And yesterday's mayhem served to underline the scale of the task facing Iraq's fledgling army and police force.

They Knew

More evidence of Bush's fuckups before the 9-11 attack gave him a four-year shot in the arm:

PARIS (AP) - A French intelligence service learned as early as January 2001 that al-Qaida was working on a plot to hijack U.S. airliners, and it passed the information on to the CIA, a news report said Monday.

France's Le Monde newspaper said it had obtained 328 pages of classified documents on Osama bin Laden's terror network that were drawn up by the French foreign intelligence service, the DGSE, between July 2000 and October 2001.

The Defense Ministry didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Le Monde reported that the documents included a note dated Jan. 5, 2001, which said al-Qaida had been working on a hijacking plot for months. The intelligence note reported that bin Laden had attended a meeting in Afghanistan in October 2000, where a final decision to carry out the plot was taken, the newspaper said.

French intelligence officials apparently had no idea that al-Qaida was plotting to crash hijacked planes into buildings, as happened in the Sept. 11 attacks.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XIV

Would more guns prevent this tragedy:

Baghdad (AP) - Four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad today, killing at least 178 people and wounding scores - the deadliest day in the city since the start of the U.S.-Iraqi campaign to pacify the capital two months ago.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the bombings "horrifying" and accused al-Qaida of being behind them.

In the deadliest of the attacks, a parked car bomb detonated in a crowd of workers at the Sadriyah market in central Baghdad, killing at least 122 people and wounding 148, said Raad Muhsin, an official at Al-Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken.

A police official confirmed the toll, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Among the dead were several construction workers who had been rebuilding the mostly Shiite marketplace after a bombing destroyed many shops and killed 137 people there in February, the police official said.

. . .About an hour earlier, a suicide car bomber crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslim neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The explosion killed at least 41 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 76, police and hospital officials said.

. . .Earlier, a parked car exploded near a private hospital in the central neighborhood of Karradah, killing 11 people and wounding 13, police said. The blast damaged the Abdul-Majid hospital and other nearby buildings.

The fourth explosion was from a bomb left on a minibus in the central Rusafi area, area, killing four people and wounding six others, police said.

Or this?

BAGHDAD — Police in Ramadi uncovered 17 decomposing corpses buried in two schoolyards in a district that until recently was under the control of al-Qaida fighters. At least 85 people were killed or found dead across the country Tuesday.

. . .In a sign that Shiite death squads are on the move again after more than two months of inactivity, 25 bodies were found dumped in Baghdad on Tuesday. The three-day total, after weeks of smaller tolls, was 67.


Bush Sat On It

Mark Benjamin of Salon.com had another scoop on how there was a report produced in November 2004 on many of the issues concerning the Walter Reed outpatient program that we are now hearing about this year. Just another way the Bushies support the troops.

April 17, 2007

John Derbyshire, Just STFU

NRO contributor John Derbyshire wonders why there weren't any Rambo-style acts of heroism during the Virginia Tech massacre yesterday. John Cole of Balloon Juice patiently reminds him that there were:

People are taking potshots at Derb all over the place, and they should. And while this pen and paper fantasyland machismo should be knocked for the silliness that it is, it should also be mocked because it is just flat out wrong.

Read the whole thing.

April 13, 2007

From "Rough Girls" To "Fragile Flowers

Oy vey iz mir, these wingnut clowns.

April 12, 2007

You're Shocked?

The good Roger Ailes is outraged that prominent media critic Howard Kurtz would admit he and his pals were part of the problem in enabling Don Imus's career in racial crudity and thus to our not-yet enlightened dialogue about race in this country. I, however, remember when Howard Kurtz blamed the Jayson Blair scandal purely on affirmative action and wondering if a similar white person would have gotten away with so much. And this was during the time when he and most of his media ilk have ignored the very structural problems that has led this country to a destructive and useless war. If that isn't an example of white know-nothingism that has led to the success of the likes of Don Imus, I don't know what is.

No Shit, Sherlock

US admits Green Zone is no longer safe as suicide bomber strikes at heart of government

US officials admitted last night that the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe any more, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital.

American and Iraqi security officials were last night investigating how a suicide bomber evaded a ring of security checks and blew himself up in the assembly's cafe, killing three MPs and five other people and wounding more than 20.

About 100,000 US and Iraqi soldiers are on the streets of the capital as part of the troop "surge" begun two months ago; while security inside the Green Zone has been tightened following the recent discovery there of two suicide bomb belts.

But after the deadliest attack ever in the Green Zone, US officials warned that nowhere is safe in Baghdad. "The international zone is not safe, it is just safer than the rest of the city," said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver. "Enemies of the country are trying to drive a wedge between the people and the government." In Washington the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said: "We know that there is a security problem in Baghdad. This (crackdown) is still early in the process and I don't think anyone expected that there wouldn't be counter-efforts by terrorists to undermine the security presence."

Fubar Surge

That's it. Eye-Rack is a failure. If you can't protect the Green Zone, you have failed. Deal with it:

Explosion at Iraq parliament cafe An explosion has hit a cafeteria at the Iraqi parliament, killing at least one person and injuring several others, witnesses said. The cafeteria is reserved for MPs and their staff and the explosion happened during lunchtime.

The parliament building is located inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.


MC Rove, The Mark Fiore Remix

Watch it.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XIII

Buried deep within a bullshit article repeating Bushian talking points about how Eye-Ran is somehow training both Sunni and Shiite militias lies this bigger story:

Caldwell also painted a mixed picture of the violence in Iraq eight weeks into a security plan intended to quell turmoil in the capital. From January to March, civilian deaths dropped 26 percent in Baghdad, he said. But violence surged in many areas outside the capital, resulting in a rise in civilian deaths across Iraq over the same period. Most of the victims were killed by car bombs or suicide bombers, he said.

From February, when the security plan was launched, to March, the total number of deaths -- civilians, Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops -- rose by 10 percent, he said. "What does this mean? It means that we still have a lot of work to do," Caldwell said.

"The goal of these murderers is to ignite a cycle of violence. They want to murder people of one sect to try to provoke revenge killings, so that this country will be divided and weak," he added.

So, at best, we put a leafblower to the pile of dandelion spores, increasing the chaos. Is this fuggin great or what?

Only For My Boilerplate Multimillion-Dollar Contract Go I

Katie Couric is caught lying and plagiarizing on camera and what do they do? They fire the producer:

"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric may vividly recall her first library card, but the network says she was unaware that her online video essay about the virtues of libraries was largely a work of plagiarism.

CBS News said this week the April 4 installment of "Katie Couric's Notebook" consisted mostly of passages lifted verbatim from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow that was published in March.

The producer responsible for Couric's piece was fired on Monday night, hours after the Journal contacted CBS News to complain, network spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said on Tuesday.

Although the text for the minute-long video was written in first person -- introduced by Couric with the line, "I still remember when I got my first library card" -- Couric did not compose the piece herself and was unaware that much of it was plagiarized, Genelius said.

If this is what passes for "journalism" and accountability, then Brian Williams has no right to complain.

Silver Lining In Arab Profiling

Ezra Klein points us to a WSJ article (sub. required) in which Arab actors are a high commodity in this new era where them Mud-slims are the bad guys and we need the Jack Bauers in order to put some boots up their asses. I'll predict that someone in the reich-wing fever swamp will suggest that librul Hollywood is financing terra-ists, or something.

Still Not Working

You know how the warbots are saying that the Surge™ is working because the numbers of bodies stemming from sectarian cleansing have dropped from massacre levels to just plain carnage? Well the truth is that the reason the numbers of bodies have been falling is because the potential victims are leaving in droves:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Nearly two months into a Baghdad security plan intended to calm the Iraqi capital by protecting residents from sectarian violence, Shiite Muslim militia members are still driving Sunni Muslims from religiously mixed neighborhoods.

Iraqi soldiers, usually ethnic Kurds, reportedly have intervened in some instances to stop the militia campaign. But interviews with Sunni residents found that most of the efforts go unchallenged in a city where it's increasingly rare for Shiites or Sunnis to remain in neighborhoods that the other sect dominates.

Residents displaced in the past four months describe a new effort that haunts them after they flee. It begins with intimidating phone calls, then escalates into bombings or the dismantling of Sunni homes.

The residents said the perpetrators were members of the Mahdi Army militia, which is loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr reportedly has told his followers to lie low and not challenge U.S. troops as they fan out across the capital in an effort to restore order.

But that show of cooperation hasn't prevented the militia from trying to cement its grip on some formerly mixed-sect neighborhoods, residents report.

Warring Is Hard Work

Yes, the report that Bush is seeking a new Eye-Rack War czar to handle his problems with that shitmire is truly pathetic, but as the New York Times analysis of the situation says, it's not the first time WorstPresidentEver has delegated responsibility for the war:

Four years after the fall of Baghdad, the White House is once again struggling to solve an old problem: Who is in charge of carrying out policy in Iraq?

Once again President Bush and his top aides are searching for a high-level coordinator capable of cutting through military, political and reconstruction strategies that have never operated in sync, in Washington or in Baghdad.

Once again Mr. Bush is publicly declaring that his administration has settled on a strategy for victory — this time, a troop increase that is supposed to open political space for Sunnis and Shiites to live and govern together — even while his top aides acknowledge that the White House has never gotten the execution right.

. . .It is telling that Mr. Hadley and Mr. Bush are still wrestling with this problem. Four years ago, both had hoped and expected that by 2007, Iraq would essentially be a cleanup operation, involving a comparatively small American force. Instead, the current force of 145,000 is building to 160,000.

For both men, deciding who in Washington should take the reins on Iraq strategy is hardly a new task.

It was in August 2003, five months after the American invasion, that Mr. Bush ordered the formation of an Iraq Stabilization Group to run things from the White House. That action reflected the first recognition by the White House that Donald H. Rumsfeld’s Pentagon was more interested in deposing dictators than nation-building.

When that group was formed, Mr. Rumsfeld snapped that it was about time that the National Security Council performed its traditional job — unifying the actions of a government whose agencies often spent much of their day battling one another. That approach worked, for a while.

But then the insurgency in Iraq grew formidable, reconstruction efforts were slowed, the State and Defense Departments reverted to bureaucratic spats, and the White House never managed to get its arms around the scope of the problem, in Baghdad or in Washington.

That was evident earlier this year when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the new defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, openly clashed on the question of who would provide the personnel for new Provincial Reconstruction Teams that were charged with trying, once again, to rebuild Iraq.

But that was only a small part of the problem: When the Iraq Study Group turned out its recommendations in December for revamping strategy, it cited “a lack of coordination by senior management in Washington,? declaring that “focus, priority setting, and skillful implementation are in short supply.?

Yep, after all his fuckups, Bush still thinks he has a leg to stand on to challenge the Democrats who want this war to end. Bully for him.

Quelle Surprise

Upon receipt of the subpoena, the White House "accidentally" loses a bunch of incriminating emails. Whoopsie doodle:

The White House acknowledged yesterday that e-mails dealing with official government business may have been lost because they were improperly sent through private accounts intended to be used for political activities. Democrats have been seeking such missives as part of an investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Administration officials said they could offer no estimate of how many e-mails were lost but indicated that some may involve messages from White House senior adviser Karl Rove, whose role in the firings has been under scrutiny by congressional Democrats.

Democrats have charged that Rove and other officials may have used the private accounts, set up through the Republican National Committee, in an effort to avoid normal review. Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision-making and deliberations. White House aides' use of their political e-mail accounts to discuss the prosecutor firings has also fanned Democratic accusations that the actions were politically motivated.

Briefing reporters yesterday about an initial review of the private e-mail system, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel declined to discuss whether the political aides were driven by a desire to conduct business outside of potential review. "I can't speak to people's individual e-mail practices," he said.

Stanzel conceded that the White House had done a poor job of instructing staff members how to save politically oriented e-mail and said that it has developed new guidance for the more than 20 staffers who have official as well as political e-mail addresses. He also said that the White House is trying to recover the lost e-mails.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XII

. . .

BAGHDAD - A suicide truck bomb exploded on a major bridge in Baghdad early Thursday, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars toppling into the Tigris River below, police and witnesses said.

At least 10 people were killed and 26 injured, according to hospital officials. That toll was expected to rise.

Police were trying to rescue as many as 20 people whose cars plummeted into the waters below.

Hours after the blast, waves lapped up against twisted girders sinking into the water, as police patrol boats searched for survivors.

The al-Sarafiya bridge connected two northern Baghdad neighborhoods — Azamiyah, a mostly Sunni enclave, and Bab al-Muazam, a mixed area.

Tony Blair's Imus Moment

So finally Great Britain has a black problem. I am just so proud:

Tony Blair yesterday claimed the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture. His remarks angered community leaders, who accused him of ignorance and failing to provide support for black-led efforts to tackle the problem.

. . .Giving the Callaghan lecture in Cardiff, the prime minister admitted he had been "lurching into total frankness" in the final weeks of his premiership. He called on black people to lead the fight against knife crime. He said that "the black community - the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening - need to be mobilised in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids".

Mr Blair said he had been moved to make his controversial remarks after speaking to a black pastor of a London church at a Downing Street knife crime summit, who said: "When are we going to start saying this is a problem amongst a section of the black community and not, for reasons of political correctness, pretend that this is nothing to do with it?" Mr Blair said there needed to be an "intense police focus" on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks. The laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders "taken out of circulation".

Strange, these are the same population of blacks that conservatives in this country are always putting on a pedestal when comparing against native-born blacks. Oh well, an underclass is an underclass.

April 11, 2007

Al-Jazeera Banned In Afghanistan

Looks like our efforts in that country has produced another totalitarian Muslim state that rejects the press freedoms represented by that news station:

"The Afghan government ordered a TV station in the country to suspend broadcasts of all Al-Jazeera English language programs, the station's director said Tuesday.

"A statement from Lemar TV said the Ministry of Information and Culture, which oversees media in Afghanistan, did not provide reasons for the order. The station complied, but contested the order before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

"The director of the station said the ministry told the attorney general's office that Al-Jazeera is 'inflicting a killer blow to the cultural order and the legal authority of the government.' Ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment."

Jesus, even Saddam Hussein allowed Al-Jazeera. Christ.

(via Brian Ulrich of American Footprints)

"B-But Al Sharpton. . ."

Any moron who says that Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are hypocrites because they don't criticize rap music obviously never listen to both those people unless they says something that annoys them. Both Sharpton and Jackson have lambasted rap music for years, and let's not forget Sharpton's little crusade against a certain Boondocks cartoon more than a year ago.

Update: Since it was too much work for various commentators to depress their fingers a couple times on their mouse's right-hand button and use a search engine, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog does it for them:

...an anti-rap movement ... began in March [2005], soon after shots were fired by the rival entourages of 50 Cent and the Game outside a New York radio station. Al Sharpton demanded that the Federal Communications Commission ban violent rappers from radio and television, and he launched a boycott against Universal Music Group, which he accused of "peddling racist and misogynistic black stereotypes" through rap music. Sharpton expressed special concern about white perceptions of African Americans. Rappers and their corporate supporters "make it easy for black culture to be dismissed by the majority," he said, and the large white fan base "has learned through rap images to identify black male culture with a culture of violence."

Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition signed on to the boycott....

(via Digby)

April 10, 2007

Supporting The Troops

DoD proposes to extend the tours of everybody in Eye-Rack by three months.

Democratic Congress More Popular Than Bush

Loser:

Overall approval for Congress is 40 percent. The survey shows Bush's approval ratings remain in the mid-30 percent range, that a striking 39 percent strongly disapproves his handling of foreign policy and the war on terror, and that the public has scant hopes that the president and Congress can work together to solve the country's problems.

Jigaboos vs. Wannabes

Atrios has the right idea in putting up the extended version of the exchange that has put Don Imus in the doghouse:

IMUS: So, I watched the basketball game last night between -- a little bit of Rutgers and Tennessee, the women's final.

ROSENBERG: Yeah, Tennessee won last night -- seventh championship for [Tennessee coach] Pat Summitt, I-Man. They beat Rutgers by 13 points.

IMUS: That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos and --

McGUIRK: Some hard-core hos.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos there. I'm gonna tell you that now, man, that's some -- woo. And the girls from Tennessee, they all look cute, you know, so, like -- kinda like -- I don't know.

McGUIRK: A Spike Lee thing.

IMUS: Yeah.

McGUIRK: The Jigaboos vs. the Wannabes -- that movie that he had.

IMUS: Yeah, it was a tough --

McCORD: Do The Right Thing.

McGUIRK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

IMUS: I don't know if I'd have wanted to beat Rutgers or not, but they did, right?

ROSENBERG: It was a tough watch. The more I look at Rutgers, they look exactly like the Toronto Raptors.

IMUS: Well, I guess, yeah.

RUFFINO: Only tougher.

McGUIRK: The [Memphis] Grizzlies would be more appropriate.

Yep, while the media is obsessing over the term "nappy headed hos" they are ignoring how racially tinged the whole conversation is. Even to the point that Imus allows a even more invidious (if not as widely known) racial slur to be used on his program.

BTW, I can't exactly put my finger on why Imus and his gang chose to single out the Rutger's team for derogation. Perhaps some of you out there can help me:

team-photo1.jpg

teamphoto_2007.jpg

Building A Stratified Society

Remember this whenever someone complains about affirmative action:

College freshmen wealthier, study says

By James M. O'Neill, Bloomberg | April 10, 2007

U.S. college freshmen are wealthier than at any point in the past 35 years, and the income gap is widening between their families and the rest of the nation, a study indicates.

This academic year's entering class came from families with income 60 percent greater than the national median, as tuition increases shut out lower-income students, the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a report Monday. The gap was 46 percent in 1971, according to the study of more than 8 million students over 40 years.

The findings, based on the biggest and longest-running survey of college students, may buttress criticism from members of Congress over the increasing cost of a college education. Tuition and fees have risen 35 percent so far this decade at public four-year institutions and 11 percent at their private counterparts, the researchers said, citing College Board figures.

"Students from wealthier families can endure greater fluctuations in 'sticker price' than poorer students," José Luis Santos, a UCLA professor and co-author of the report, said in a statement. "As a result, more students entering college come from homes that are increasingly wealthier than the national median income."


Training The Mahdi Army

More evidence of how we are simply husbanding a civil war:

As part of a nearly eight-week-old plan to temper violence in Baghdad, U.S. forces last month set up a permanent base and resumed security sweeps in the enclave for the first time in three years. Sadr's black-clad fighters -- who battled U.S. forces in the past -- have appeared to stand down, even as Sadr publicly condemns the U.S. presence.

But soldiers with a U.S. military police unit that has provided police training and patrols in Sadr City for most of the past 10 months said the Mahdi Army disrupts their efforts every day. Most of the Iraqi police they train are either affiliated with the militia or intimidated by it, the soldiers said. At worst, they said, militia infiltration in the police might be behind attacks on Americans, even though Iraqi officials offered assurances that the Mahdi Army was lying low.

"I don't really think there is an end or a beginning. I think it's all intermingled," Staff Sgt. Toby Hansen, 30, said about the Mahdi Army's relationship to the police trained by his unit. "Eventually, when we leave, they're going to police their own city. They're going to do it their way."

April 9, 2007

A Secret Plan To End The War

I hope it doesn't involve an invasion of Cambodia:

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, told "Hardball" fill-in host David Gregory that if the 'surge' has not yielded success in Iraq by August 2008, then "this president, and the Republican majority from the last Congress, we do have a 'Plan B,' but we're not going to give it to the enemy."

Gregory did not push him to shed light on the back up plan, but Gingrey conceded that "adjustments" would need to be made if victory had not be achieved in Iraq by August 2008.

Gingrey's comments are reminiscent of an oft-mentioned Republican contention that any timelines regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq should be kept secret.


Eye-Rackee Army STRAWNG!!

Nicely done, war planners:

Iraqi forces began taking a back seat in combat operations in Iraq last autumn, even before President Bush started deploying 21,500 more troops chiefly to spearhead a security crackdown in Baghdad, according to a new Pentagon report.

The report shows that Iraqi military units began assuming greater responsibility for operations in the earlier part of last year. But the trend has reversed. In October, U.S. forces were conducting 8% of the combat operations, while 72% were joint missions. By January, U.S. units were conducting 33% of the operations, and the percentage of joint operations had fallen to 59%.

In addition, the number of Iraqi army and other units in the lead has declined to 92 in February from 94 in November, while the number of U.S.-led missions has been increasing.

The quarterly report to Congress, required by law, covers the period immediately before Feb. 13, when the U.S. began building up troop levels and implementing its new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

Every Time Their Lips Move

After everything that has been exposed, after everybody but the 30-percent nutters know that the war is a complete lie, to think that Darth Cheney would continue with his warmed-over bullshit is just well past maddening:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

. . .The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

Another Hazard Of Outsourcing

210259_3.jpg

I just gotta say, the woman in the story is just being too sensitive [/racial rationalizer]:

When the new chocolate-coloured sofa set was delivered to her Brampton home, Doris Moore was stunned to see packing labels describing the shade as "Nigger-brown."

She and husband Douglas purchased a sofa, loveseat and chair in dark brown leather last week from Vanaik Furniture and Mattress store on Dundas St. E.

Moore, 30, who describes herself as an African-American born and raised in New York, said it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out the label just after delivery men from the Mississauga furniture store left.

"She's very curious and she started reading the labels," Moore explained. "She said, `Mommy, what is nig ... ger brown?' I went over and just couldn't believe my eyes."

She said yesterday each piece had a similar label affixed to the woven protective covering wrapped around the furniture.

"In this day and age, that's totally unacceptable," Moore said.

. . .Moore said she called the furniture store the following day and three other times since, and feels discouraged that no one has returned her calls.

When interviewed yesterday by the Star, Romesh Kumar, Vanaik's assistant manager, passed the buck to his supplier, Cosmos Furniture in Scarborough.

"Why should I take the blame?" he said. "I'm a trader, I don't manufacture. I sell from 20 companies, maybe 50 companies. How can I take care of all of them?"

He said that he would check similar stock and make sure other labels were removed.

"That's terrible, that's a racial ... something?" Kumar said. "This is entirely wrong, but it's not my fault. It's my job to sell good product to people."

He said the best he could do is to give Moore the telephone number of his supplier, so she could take it up with him.

The owner of Cosmos Furniture, Paul Kumar, no relation to Romesh, said he was upset to learn packing labels on products he sold carried a racial epithet.

"I import my products from overseas," he said. "I've never noticed anything like that. This is something new to me."

He passed the blame to a Chinese company, but apologized for the labels. He said he would contact the furniture maker in Guangzhou and demand they remove all similar labels.

April 8, 2007

And There Goes The Surge™

Not like it was working anyways:

BAGHDAD Apr 8, 2007 (AP)— The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday.

The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.

. . ."God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them not against the sons of Iraq," the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "You have to protect and build Iraq."

(via Atrios)

April 7, 2007

Another Belated Bernard Bashing

I hope Darren Bernard knows that the civil rights activities like voter registration in Alabama did NOT start with Bloody Sunday in 1965, but in 1961. It always nice how wingers nitpick the Dems while ignoring the gaping inconsistencies among the Republican slate of candidates.

Prudenizing, Washington Post Edition

While highlighting the uncomfortable fact that the Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) are actually being made in Eye-Rack, and are not an export of Eye-Ran, and therefore a casus belli for an invasion, Atrios stumbles upon an example of the Washington Post doing what we in the media criticism business affectionately know as "Prudenizing." Apparently, an earlier version of a Washington Post story that appeared on its website was the one written by Reuters that included the fact that a raid turned up an EFP factory. The "official" version that will appear in the print edition excludes that pertinent fact. We haven't seen this type of manipulative, hawkish journalism since Hearst era.

April 6, 2007

Goodling Resigns

Looks like when she realized that she can't really plead the fifth while acting as an official in the Justice Department, so she decided she has a better chance at immunity if she becomes a private citizen.

Problem solved.

Curioser And Curiouser

About a week after the former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger swore straight up and down that he wasn't replaced by Rachel Paulouse because of political reasons, we now learn that three of his top aides have resigned their posts and have taken demotions and smaller salaries within the local USA office:

3 federal prosecutors quit manager posts They left their management jobs with the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office and will go back to prosecuting cases.

By Dan Browning and Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune

Last update: April 06, 2007 – 3:22 PM

In a surprising move, three top lawyers in the Minnesota U.S. Attorney's Office resigned their management positions Thursday and will return to prosecuting cases.
The resignations of the first assistant U.S. attorney, who is second in command, and the chiefs of both the criminal and civil divisions of the office, were communicated internally late Thursday afternoon, according to a source with direct knowledge of the events. The job changes followed a visit to the office by a representative from the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, issued a harsh statement Friday after learning of the resignations.

"This is another example of the proud corps of U.S. Attorneys being deprofessionalized," Schumer said. "We wonder in how many other offices the same lack of confidence is taking its toll. Attorney General [Alberto] Gonzales has a responsibility to see that the finest people are put in these positions, not simply cronies."

The resignations are certain to raise questions, especially in light of the controversy surrounding Gonzales and the way the Bush administration replaced eight U.S. attorneys around the country since August.

Minnesota's U.S. Attorney, Rachel Paulose, took the job in March 2006. No one has linked her to the controversy in Washington.

"It's just absolutely extraordinary that these three top managers would voluntarily demote themselves," said one defense attorney knowledgeable about the office. "I mean, it's a rank cut. ... And then it would be a salary cut, too."

A source familiar with the office said Thursday's resignations were more about management style and communication than politics. But they take on added significance because they follow a number of other managers who have voluntarily stepped aside since Paulose took over.

. . .Paulose said the three are excellent prosecutors.

"The community will benefit from their focus on prosecuting high-profile, sophisticated cases in the years to come," she said. "This office remains focused on our law enforcement priorities and service to this community."

If they are so good, why did they have to step down? Even in the midst of the attorney scandal, the Bushies still engage in suspicious behavior.

Update (via John Aravosis):

Seems like Paulose was being too much of a fundyclown and tyrant for the top aides, but even at that it doesn't make sense why they would accept a demotion and pay cut. If I were them I'd just leave for a more lucrative post in private practice.

One More Exit Until Morton Downey Juniorville

Yep, all this clip needs is a healthy dose of "Shut up! Shut up!!"

Boy, it's scary how someone can be so worked up over wetbacks.

(via Jim in LA of The News Blog)

April 5, 2007

Yet Another Casualty Of Bush's Fuckup

The New York Times has a feature article about a soldier wounded in Eye-Rack during the initial invasion, who ended up burning a trailer home because the Bush Republicans couldn't bother with setting up a competent system to deal with all the PTSD cases that were coming home:

DUNBAR, Pa. — Blinded and disabled on the 54th day of the war in Iraq, Sam Ross returned home to a rousing parade that outdid anything this small, depressed Appalachian town had ever seen. “Sam’s parade put Dunbar on the map,? his grandfather said.

That was then.

Now Mr. Ross, 24, faces charges of attempted homicide, assault and arson in the burning of a family trailer in February. Nobody in the trailer was hurt, but Mr. Ross fought the assistant fire chief who reported to the scene, and later threatened a state trooper with his prosthetic leg, which was taken away from him, according to the police.

The police locked up Mr. Ross in the Fayette County prison. In his cell, he tried to hang himself with a sheet. After he was cut down, Mr. Ross was committed to a state psychiatric hospital, where, he said in a recent interview there, he is finally getting — and accepting — the help he needs, having spiraled downward in the years since the welcoming fanfare faded.

“I came home a hero, and now I’m a bum,? Mr. Ross, whose full name is Salvatore Ross Jr., said.

Nope, the only bum is the one currently using soldiers like Sam Ross in order to protect their eroding political agenda.

April 4, 2007

Where Medieval Rules Of Law Now Applies To Americans

A federal judge says evidence that is obtained through torture are now admissable in trying Jose Padilla:

MIAMI (Reuters) - Evidence from alleged al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla can be used against him at trial despite defense claims the American's arrest was based on information obtained through torture, a U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke refused to reconsider a magistrate's ruling in
September to admit Padilla's statements to the FBI as evidence in his trial
starting on April 16 on charges of conspiring to aid Islamist extremists overseas.

Cooke said the defense failed to raise any new arguments.

The warrant the FBI used to arrest Padilla at Chicago's O'Hare airport in May 2002
was based in part on information provided by two prisoners held at the U.S. military
jail at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Abu Zubaydah and Binyam Muhammad, prosecutors
acknowledged in November

.

And you wonder why the Iranians went wild with the Brits before releasing them today. We just have no standing when pleading human rights with the rest of the world.

Beware The Dhimmicrats

When I first saw the pictures of Nancy Pelosi in Syria wearing a hijab, I immediately knew the right-wing nuts would complain about how Pelosi is capitulating to those A-rab Mud-slims. As I've said before, those nuts are as predictable as the tides, and Mahablog shuts down their pissing and moaning completely.

(via Atrios)

Messing up the Message

Can't these people understand that Baghdad is safe, that McCain says you can stroll around that particular marketplace without being harmed? Why do they have to mess up the narrative?

A newborn baby was one of at least 14 children and adults killed when a suicide bomber detonated a lorry laden with explosives close to a primary school in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk yesterday.

The latest massacre of Iraqi children came as 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.

Since I Couldn't Be There. . .

My reich-wing congressman John Kline held a town hall meeting yesterday in Lakeville. Since I was burdened with domestic duties that night, I couldn't make it to that media-controlled photo-op. But Jeff Fecke of Minnesota Monitor was able to get in (he was prevented from live-blogging, however) and provided us with the highlights. My favorite is the Iraqi refugee who had to flee because of the current violence who pleaded Kline to continue the violence so his former country can be free to practice the type of democracy the United States enjoys. Can someone say "right-wing plant"?

(via Chris Truscott who also provided his own account of the meeting)

How The Other Shoe Dropped

Really, the U.S. thinks it can mess around with foreign nationals and not expect a response? One of these days this country will learn somehow to live in this world:

A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.

Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.

In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment.

Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil - and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.

And once again, Tony Blair can thank Dumbya for the latest crisis he's in.

Another Victory In The WaronTerra

Send him off to Gitmo!

April 3, 2007 — - A middle school student who allegedly confronted a girl with a knife has become one of the youngest Americans ever charged with terrorism.

Late Monday, Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas officially charged the 14-year-old boy from Mesa, Ariz., with terrorism, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and carrying weapons on a school campus.

The alleged crimes took place two weeks ago when police say the boy, who is an eighth grader at Powell Junior High School, approached a girl with a knife as she walked home from school. The girl escaped and called police. When the boy failed to show up at school the next day, police visited his home.

They found a backpack full of weapons including a handgun and ammo, chains, and rope. Police said they want the boy to be tried as an adult.

The charge of terrorism includes "substantial interruption of a public facility or establishment with a deadly weapon," according to the county attorney's office.

Mesa Police say the youth admitted to planning to take his class hostage. The boy told police that he intended to kill the girl, whom he singled out at random, police spokeswoman Holly Hosac said.

Yes, what the kid did and was allegedly planning to do is serious, but it is not terrorism since it's a political tool used to achieve specific political ends. Unless this kid was planning on not releasing his hostages until the proletariat is fully represented in the parliament - or until this country worships Allah - this just doesn't qualify.

FBI Becomes The Police Arm Of The Right-Wing Movement

This local piece in the Washington Post reports that the FBI have been conducting political intelligence on Eye-Rack war protestors:

A secret FBI intelligence unit helped detain a group of war protesters in a downtown Washington parking garage in April 2002 and interrogated some of them on videotape about their political and religious beliefs, newly uncovered documents and interviews show.

For years, law enforcement authorities suggested it never happened. The FBI and D.C. police said they had no records of such an incident. And police told a federal court that no FBI agents were present when officers arrested more than 20 protesters that afternoon for trespassing; police viewed them as suspicious for milling around the parking garage entrance.

But a civil lawsuit, filed by the protesters, recently unearthed D.C. police logs that confirm the FBI's role in the incident. Lawyers for the demonstrators said the logs, which police say they just found, bolster their allegations of civil rights violations.

The probable cause to arrest the protesters as they retrieved food from their parked van? They were wearing black -- a color choice the FBI and police associated with anarchists, according to the police records.

FBI agents dressed in street clothes separated members to question them one by one about protests they attended, whom they had spent time with recently, what political views they espoused and the significance of their tattoos and slogans, according to interviews and court records.

The revelations, combined with protester accounts, provide the first public evidence that Washington-based FBI personnel used their intelligence-gathering powers in the District to collect purely political intelligence. Ultimately, the protesters were not prosecuted because there wasn't sufficient evidence of trespassing, and their arrest records were expunged.

Similar intelligence-gathering operations have been reported in New York, where a local police intelligence unit tried to infiltrate groups planning to protest at the Republican National Convention in 2004, and in Colorado, where records surfaced showing that the FBI collected names and license plates of people protesting timber industry practices at a 2002 industry convention.

Several federal courts have ruled that intelligence agencies can monitor domestic groups only when there is reason to believe the group is engaged in criminal activity. Experts in police conduct say it is hard to imagine how asking questions about a person's political views would be appropriate in a trespassing case.

Of course, this breach of public trust only qualifies as D.C. news, not national news, according to the insane pro-Bush editors at that paper.

(via ThinkProgress)

April 2, 2007

Where The Marketplace Of Opinion Calls Bullshit On McCain

Following up on the last post that noted Weathervane McCain's campaign junket in the Iraqi marketplace, you know the one where he incredulously said Eye-Rack is safer even though he was under heavy military guard? Well, the locals can't really see what the hell he was getting at:

BAGHDAD, April 2 — A day after members of an American Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain pointed to their brief visit to Baghdad’s central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans’ conclusions.

“What are they talking about?? Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!?

The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company — and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.

“They paralyzed the market when they came,? Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. “This was only for the media.?

He added, “This will not change anything.?

Well, that was just one Iraqi, I'm guessing there are plenty more who agree with what the Senator is saying:

Merchants and customers say that a campaign by insurgents to attack Baghdad’s markets has put many shop owners out of business and forced radical changes in the way people shop. Shorja, the city’s oldest and largest market, set in a sprawling labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, has been bombed at least a half-dozen times since last summer.

. . .In recent weeks, snipers hidden in Shorja’s bazaar have killed several people, merchants and the police say, and gunfights have erupted between militants and the Iraqi security forces in the area.

During their visit on Sunday, the Americans were buttonholed by merchants and customers who wanted to talk about how unsafe they felt and the urgent need for more security in the markets and throughout the city, witnesses said.

“They asked about our conditions, and we told them the situation was bad,? said Aboud Sharif Kadhoury, 63, who peddles prayer rugs at a sidewalk stand. He said he sold a small prayer rug worth less than $1 to Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the American forces in Iraq, who accompanied the Congressional delegation. (General Petraeus paid $20 and told Mr. Kadhoury to keep the change, the vendor said.)

Mr. Kadhoury said he lost more than $2,000 worth of merchandise in the triple bombing in February. “I was hit in the head and back with shrapnel,? he recalled.

Ali Youssef, 39, who sells glassware from a sidewalk stand down the block from Mr. Kadhoury, recalled: “Everybody complained to them. We told them we were harmed.?

He and other merchants used to keep their shops open until dusk, but with the dropoff in customers as a result of the attacks, and a nightly curfew, most shop owners close their businesses in the early afternoon.

“This area here is very dangerous,? continued Mr. Youssef, who lost his shop in the February attack. “They cannot secure it.?

Look, even if that particular marketplace is safe, touting it's lack of violence just misses the elephant in the room.

tet.jpg

That is the picture of Saigon during the first day of the Tet Offensive. Except for the dead VC in the foreground, you'd never know that there's a goddamn war going on. Juan Cole (via Americablog) explains how "mundane" civil life during wartime can get:

Look, I lived in the midst of a civil war in the late 1970s in Beirut. I know exactly what it looks and smells like. The inexperienced often assume that when a guerrilla war or a civil war is going on, life grinds to a standstill. Not so. People go shopping for food. They drive where they need to go as long as they don't hear that there is a firefight in that area. They go to work if they still have work. Life goes on.

It is just that, unexpectedly, a mortar shell might land near you. Or the person ahead of you in line outside the bakery might fall dead, victim of a sniper's bullet. The bazaars are bustling some days (all the moreso because it is good to stock up on supplies the days when the violence isn't so bad). . . McCain, you see, knows exactly what I know about guerrilla wars and civil wars. Hell, people used to shop freely in Saigon in the early 1970s! And if he is saying what he is saying, it is because he is attempting to convey an overly optimistic picture with which to deceive the American public.

So for John McCain, protected by an extensive military convoy, to tell the Iraqi people that their perceptions of reality is wrong, makes him not only a fool, but a highly paternalistic fool.

April 1, 2007

Suicide Vests Found In The Green Zone; Weathervane McCain Insists Eye-Rack Is Safer

While Saint McCain is bloviating and visiting bombed-out marketplaces under heavy security convoys, two suicide vests were found Saturday within what is supposed to be the safest place in Baghdad. Makes you wonder about the ones they didn't find.

Gains

This makes the Republican support for the Surge™ they didn't believe in even more appalling:

Iraq death toll jumps 15 percent in March

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 2,078 people died in Iraq last month, 15 percent more than in February despite a massive security crackdown in Baghdad, the epicentre of violence, a security official said on Sunday.

On average, 67 people died across the country every day in March, compared to 64 in February.

A significant increase in Iraqi civilian, army and police deaths was evident last month, the official said, based on detailed statistics collected by the defence, interior and health ministries.

Civilian deaths topped the toll with 1,869 Iraqis killed in insurgency and sectarian bloodletting in March, compared to 1,646 in February. Another 2,719 civilians were wounded last month, compared to 2,701 in February.