Sunday, December 31, 2006
Update: The name of the 3000th soldier who lost his life at the very end of 2006:
"Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, was killed Thursday by small arms fire in Baghdad, the Defense Department said."
"US foreign policy experts said Rice must shoulder much of the blame for the lackluster diplomacy.
"Great secretaries of state have compelling views of the world and/or are effective negotiators -- Secretary Rice has so far demonstrated neither," said Aaron Miller, who advised six secretaries of state before joining the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington.
Even staunch supporters acknowledge that Rice, weighed down by the failed policy in Iraq, has little that is positive to show for her work so far."
Well...we all know what she shows a flair for:
keeping the boyking happy...
Larisa Alexandrovna at her blog At Largely explains to wingnuts why this logic is faulty:
"Let me help you by explaining that one can oppose executions without supporting the crimes committed of those executed. Wow, hard to digest? I know, inbreeding will shrink your brain, did you know that?
But more importantly, this fringe that is the "enemy within America" just so happens to include the Vatican (hardly left leaning) and a cadre of Conservative voices (also hardly left leaning) who have a myriad of reasons for opposing this execution.
Some people oppose the execution because it was based on a flawed trial. Think about it, Saddam Hussein was a monster, we all know this. So why is it that he was only convicted for 148 deaths dating over 25 years ago? Ask yourself that question. Because if signing a death sentence warns execution, then should President Bush not also stand trial?
Clearly there is a reason why other crimes were not brought up or allowed, at this administrations request, to be introduced.
But you don't want to know facts. You don't even want to know where Osama is (remember him, wanted dead or alive?). What you want is some sort of feeling that you matter and that you are a real American. Unfortunately, real Americans like you, are the reason Saddam came to power to begin with.
Those opposed to the execution are not mourning the death of Saddam. What they are mourning is the loss of our own national conscience. Some are, as I have pointed out, not happy with the farce of a trial in a country to which we are attempting to (so they say) export democracy. Some are not comfortable because of the timing, which just happens to be during a holy time in Muslim religion. Not that you would know this as xenophobes are busy only with flag waving and gay bashing."
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Update: Whig sent me a link which will make even the DHS take notice!
"Despite deep-seated mistrust and hostility, the two most powerful groups of tough, inner-city rodents -- squirrels and rats -- have formed an evolutionary alliance to secure their bailiwick of sewers, city parks and other public works, as well as to further encroach upon human territory and food supplies. For the first time in history, squirrels and rats have put aside their differences, deciding to MATE, in order to create a more deadly, hybrid "master" rodent race.
The offspring of the Squirrel / Rat axis, commonly known as "sqrats," have the heavy shag fur of the gray squirrel species, and the huge fangs and slimy long tail of the urban Norway rat. The new creatures have the agility and speed of the squirrel with the brute force of the rat. This gives them the ability to spread pneumonic plagues and other diseases among the human population at an unprecedented rate."
""It was this man, Gerald R. Ford, who led our republic safely though a crisis that could have turned to catastrophe," said Cheney, speaking in the Capitol Rotunda where Ford's body rested in a flag-draped casket. "Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon."
Strangely, he did not mention resigning in disgrace, breaking the law, or impeachment...
"David “The Other Limbaugh” Limbaugh writes that since Democrats were right about Iraq after all, it means they were actually kind of negative-wrong, which is sort of like being wrong in two directions at once, so therefore the Republicans were right, and we must attack Iran."
It's hard to be a warmonger when all your best efforts end up quagmirish.
"The pattern is clear: The higher the score on the aptitude test, the better the performance in the field. This is true for individual soldiers and for units. [...]
Smarter also turns out to be cheaper. One study examined how many Patriot missiles various Army air-defense units had to fire in order to destroy 10 targets. Units with Category I personnel had to fire 20 missiles. Those with Category II had to fire 21 missiles. Category IIIA: 22. Category IIIB: 23. Category IV: 24 missiles. In other words, to perform the same task, Category IV units chewed up 20 percent more hardware than Category I units. For this particular task, since each Patriot missile costs about $2 million, they also chewed up $8 million more of the Army's procurement budget."
But they might not ask so many questions....
Or maybe this one: Loch Ness Monster watch! Remember the time difference because all you get at night is ... dark!
Update: Iowa's CornCam (didn't seem to work with Firefox) is also deadly. (via JakSon).
"Salafi" is, similarly, a respectable term referring to the original generations of pious Muslim scholars who emerged during and after Muhammad's death--and then to a group of 19th century Islamic reformers who wanted to simplify and modernize their religion. But while the "Salafis" 150 years ago execrated the spiritual Sufis, they did not preach violence.
Although they prefer the "Salafi" cover, Wahhabis throughout the Muslim world refer to themselves by that name when the doctrines of their inspirer are challenged, just as Communists flaunted their affiliations in their own milieu. Still, many Western commentators have adopted the habit of identifying Wahhabis by a palliative name in an effort to be "sensitive."The Sunni terrorists in Iraq have worked even more linguistic magic on Western media, who have assigned them the title of "insurgents." But too much blood has been shed for Westerners to continue flattering Muslim extremists in this manner.
The Sunni murderers in Iraq are terrorists, not insurgents.
And they are Wahhabis, backed by Saudi Arabia, not pious "Salafis."
As George Orwell knew, the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their real names."
The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is who controls the armed forces. Civilian command of the Army is a cornerstone of our democratic system.
My brother told me that he takes his oath to defend the Constitution seriously and that he will fight and die if necessary to honor his commitment. When I asked him if he would be offended if I participated in activities opposing the war, he replied that it was not only my right but my obligation, and the obligation of all civilians opposing this war, to try to change bad policy. "Give us good wars to fight," he said."
"Victory being out of the question at this point, the only democracy my brother is fighting for in Iraq is our democracy. The only constitution he is in Iraq fighting to defend is our Constitution. If my brother dies, it will not be for a mistake but rather because of his deeply held belief that the time it takes us as a people to figure out through democratic processes that we are wrong is more important than his own life.
This places upon us an obligation. My brother and other service members living and dead have given us the sacred responsibility to use the democratic means we have at hand to bring judgment to bear on whether any given war is worth our soldiers' lives."
"What are you, fellow citizens, willing to do to defend our Constitution? Will you dignify the sacrifices of our soldiers? Will you honor my brother's faith in our system? Will you let my brother or others die to eke out a slightly smaller disaster in Iraq? These are the questions we face in the wake of the Baker-Hamilton report.
My brother is betting his life that you are not going to ask this of him. He has placed his trust in the idea that we will not ask him to die for anything less than the necessary defense of our democracy. Reasonable people may at one time have disagreed about the necessity of the Iraq war, but now that it has become abundantly clear from every quarter that we cannot win, will you be responsible for asking my brother to stay?
My family begs of you: Do not ask this of him. Do not ask this of us. My brother is doing his constitutional duty. Now it is time for us to do ours."
"....this brazen US-sponsored bid to topple the popular Islamists who had brought Somalia its first peace and security in 16 years has already begun to backfire. Looting has forced the transitional government to declare a state of emergency. Clan warlords, who had terrorised Somalia until they were driven out by the Islamists this year, have begun carving up the city once again. And the African Union, which helped create the transitional government, has called for the immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from the country, as did Kenya, a close US and Ethiopian ally.
They had little choice: the invasion was a clear violation of international law and a UN security council resolution, which the US itself pushed through earlier this month, that explicitly forbade troops from any neighbouring country from joining even the new peace-keeping force it authorised for Somalia. That still did not prevent the Bush administration from issuing a strong statement of support for the Ethiopian offensive.As with Iraq in 2003, the US has cast this as a war to curtail terrorism. The real goal of course is to gain a direct foothold in another highly strategic and oil rich region by installing a client regime in Somalia. The US had already been violating the UN arms embargo on Somalia by supporting the warlords who drove out the UN peace-keepers in 1993 by killing 18 US soldiers, in order to push out the Islamists. That effort failed and an Ethiopian invasion remained the only way to oust a group with popular support. All independent experts warned against such a war, saying it would destabilise the region."
Oh, well then. Cheney is really feeling the pressure. Only two more years of utterly corrupt power and so much to do, he's gotta move fast.
Update: Moonbootica has more.
Just curious, does the hanging of Hussein go in the Iraqi column or in the apparently uncounted evildoer column? Bush apparently thinks killing Saddam makes the war all worthwhile....
CNN asks the question:
Will Saddam Hussein's hanging help bring stability to Iraq?
goes on in the shadows between kings and henchmen, yet it affects us all. (Mangled snips of article follow:)
"M K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001)."
"The year 2006 has thus made it clear that the
The heart of the matter is that apart from the bleeding wounds in
“In a similar fashion, but in an even more fundamental sense,
“But failures may often hold the key to success. In a way, the current failures in regional policy may open a window of opportunity for the
“Without doubt, a palpable sense of urgency is already apparent in
“The struggle over control of oil and gas and their transportation routes is bound to intensify in 2007. It will remain central to the geopolitics of
Already, geopolitical circumstances in the
Least of all,
"It is my belief that once the GOP agrees that Bush and Cheney are too big of a foreign policy liability to remain in office that evidence can by produced that directly contradicts Bush and Cheney's representations, and calls their truthfulness and law-abidingness into such question that impeachment will not be a political liability for anyone. For one example, the NSA could leak evidence that clearly shows they have been spying without warrants on American phone calls, and that it had nothing to do with, or was not significantly limited to suspected terrorists. I admit that that belief of mine is largely one of faith. But I have a high degree of confidence in my hunch.
Impeachment is a tool for removing executive officers that are not fit to remain in office, for any reason. If Bush refused to show up for work he could be impeached for it. If he became incapacitated, he could be impeached for it. In this case, he has lost the ability to lead, he is showing dangerous psychological tendencies, and the country can't wait for a functioning presidency until his term of office is up. In this situation, the duty of the Congress is to replace him. And since Cheney has all the same problems and is showing all the same tendecies, Congress must take radical and unprecedented steps.
However, having said that, the actual articles of impeachment must have more legal basis than asserting the President has lost his credibility and is pursuing bad policies.
We will see what oversight turns up. The important thing to remember here is that we are not going to convince 18 Republicans to impeach the President AND the Vice-President over upholding the rule of law (barring really damning revelations). We are going to convince them on two wholly practical considerations:
1) Bush and Cheney are incapable of directing our foreign policy and not acting responsibly as commanders-in-chief.
2) Bush and Cheney are destroying the GOP brand and hurting the party's future political prospects.
These two facts, and they are increasingly accepted by Republicans (at least quietly) as facts, form the basis for a consensus.It is not about revenge or gaining political power or, ultimately, the rule of law. It's about doing what is absolutely critical for the well being of the country."
"The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.
These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'
Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.
Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.
What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?"
Friday, December 29, 2006
A troop surge is "not going to stop the hatred between Shia and Sunni," said Thompson, who is especially bitter because his 4-year contract was involuntarily extended in June. "This is a civil war, and we're just making things worse. We're losing. I'm not afraid to say it.""
"ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks total sales at more than 45,000 retail outlets, reported that sales for the week ended Saturday increased 5.2 percent over the year-ago period. Foot traffic fell a slight 1.3 percent during that same period, indicating that shoppers were making bigger purchases with fewer trips, according to Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak.Much of last week’s strength was from Friday and Saturday,though the finale wasn’t as strong as hoped for. As a result, Martin believes that total holiday sales will probably not meet the 5 percent growth forecast, though holiday sales growth will be at least 4.5 percent."
Just a note, the stores make a lot of money off of gift cards that are never redeemed, or partially used. I just used my Barnes and Noble card, leaving only $1.53 left on the card. The clerk could not give me the remainder in cash. The stores count on many people tossing the card, not caring to worry about every penny.
"The US Army is close to collapse. Four tours borders on being assigned to punishment battalions. How many times can you send a man to die and expect him to come home alive? What happens to his family, his life? Not much except a divorce and years of counselling. Recruiters are now telling the most ridiculous lies to teenagers to get them to the Sandbox.
The 109th Congress may be the worst Congress in American history. And that would take some doing. They failed their reposnibilties as a legislative body to find out the truth of our war in Iraq. They chose party over duty at every turn.
The 110th Congress will do no such thing. Just asking basic questions about the conduct of the war will expose it's failure.
While Lieberman thinks our army is made up of automations, the reality is that it is crumbling before our eyes. How many men have gone UA? How many are in Canada now? We don't know and the Army doesn't want to find out. How many men have been chaptered out after a combat tour or two?
The destruction of the Army is slow, but visible. Death penalty murder trials, declining enlistment rates, divorce rates climbing. Reporters are just now asking these questions. What happens next. When is some happy talk colonel embarassed because his grunts have to gun down Iraqi soldiers drawing down on them or refuse one more pointless patrol.
We're coming fast towards 1970 and the Army which stopped fighting. Humans can only take so much. The people who have enlisted have gone above and beyond what is expected of them. But that cannot continue. Bush's war will come to an end. When is no longer the issue. The only question is how."
"The only lessons that are valid for Iraq are the ones that we learned in Iraq:
1) We never should have gone there in the first place.2) There's not much we can do, short of leaving, that will make it better."
Also: The reporting did not cause us to lose in Iraq:
"But bad news doesn't lose wars. Losing wars creates bad news."
When Leany raced to the aquarium, she thought it odd to find the place relatively calm and quiet. According to the Daily Record, she says: "When I got there, all seemed fine. I looked at the tube containing the sensor and saw a turtle beneath it. As I watched, a few large bubbles emerged from beneath him and rose to the surface next to the tube."
"I realized what must have happened. We like to give all our animals a treat at Christmas and sprouts are a really healthy choice for sea turtles. But they do produce similar side-effects to those experienced by humans who eat too many sprouts." "
"This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.
Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions."
Who is going to tell her our preznit is giving it all he's got and had a hard thought for three hours today to think of a ... you know... actual plan? That nothing that has happened in Iraq was on their Plan A list so they didn't know what to do? That destroying a functioning country's infrastructure was the fun part and somebody else will have the hard job to clean up the mess? That Iran is next? Who is going to tell her that Bush is indifferent to the agony he's caused, the terror he's produced, the horror he's let free?
That there was no real reason?
Cheddarvision! Up close! Watch cheese dry! It's really ... really ... boring...
The gauntlet has been thrown, the challenge is clear! I must find a more boring webcam than this!
"In Iraq today we have a responsibility to do what is strategically and morally right for our nation over the long term -- not what appears easier in the short term. The daily scenes of death and destruction are heartbreaking and infuriating. But there is no better strategic and moral alternative for America than standing with the moderate Iraqis until the country is stable and they can take over their security. Rather than engaging in hand-wringing, carping or calls for withdrawal, we must summon the vision, will and courage to take the difficult and decisive steps needed for success and, yes, victory in Iraq. That will greatly advance the cause of moderation and freedom throughout the Middle East and protect our security at home."
Ok, Joe. We send more troops like we did this last summer (which gained absolutely nothing, remember?) Then what? Go on aimless patrols? Stand around? Attack something, anything even if it inflames the factions? Which side? Here are some really simple Cliff Notes of the war: The Saudis who are our 'friends' are Sunni. The Iranians are Shia. We have indicated we don't like Sadr. But we need the Shia to support al-Maliki. So we throw in with Iran and piss off Saudi Arabia who indicates they will support the Sunni. Iran and Saudi Arabia are eyeing each other. You have an solution for this horrific tangle, Joe? What? (/grabs shirt collar and shakes) What is the plan?
And just a reminder....people who start wars usually have a plan BEFORE they start, you know.
Sinfonian says it better.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
"There are reports that the
Sources say the former Iraqi dictator's execution by hanging could come as early as this week; which is consistent with what an unnamed Iraqi official told the Associated Foreign Press, "We will not waste time. We will look at the security situation and [Saddam and his convicted co-defendants] will be executed immediately at the very first opportunity we get after the appeals chamber finalizes the verdicts.""Unless it's to hide something like this.... maybe we never captured Saddam Hussein:
"The outcome of their meeting turned out to be quite scandalous. Sajina claims that the person she encountered was not her husband, but his double. If someone were to say for sure that it was not insinuation, it would have been easy to believe the wife with a 25-year experience. It is also possible to assume that Saddam has simply changed since the day of his sons' deaths,
On the other hand however, those statements of Hussein's wife can in fact be quite understandable. After all, this is the easiest way to demoralize an enemy."
Maybe he and Kenneth Lay are hanging out in Paraguay....
"Keyhole combined satellite photographs to create a radically new view of the planet. Now anyone can enjoy aerial views of any corner of the world from their home computer. The software has so far been downloaded more than 100 million times.
An entire "geoculture" has arisen around the new Keyhole technology. Google Earth fans have created a blog listing the coordinates of the Seven Wonders of the World. Others have created sites where famous expeditions like that of Antarctic pioneer Ernest Shackleton can be followed precisely. And huge archives with city views linked to Google Earth maps are being built on the photo website "Flickr." "When I recently traveled to Berlin for a conference," says Hanke, "I planned my walks on the basis of the images on Flickr."
Hanke, a family man, is proud of what he has initiated. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) no longer publishes its reports on the hot spots of environmental damage in book form, he points out. UNEP has opted for an electronic format based on cartography provided by Google Earth.
The Internet community will help expand Google Earth to provide three-dimensional images. Anyone interested in participating will be provided with a program known as "Sketch-Up," which makes views of houses and streets look three-dimensional."
"No one knows which system will win in the end. The approach chosen by Microsoft still has weaknesses, for example when it tries to render overlapping buildings as seen from above. Google Earth, of course, has to make sure its users survey their cities as completely as possible, rather than focusing on landmark sites like the Eiffel Tower."
"The Gulf state is among oil producers, including Iran, Venezuela and Indonesia, looking to shift their currency reserves into euros or sell their oil, which is now priced in dollars, for euros. The total value of the reserves held by the U.A.E. is $24.9 billion, Suwaidi said.
The dollar has fallen more than 10 percent this year against the euro.
Part of the reason for the decline is the outlook for slower U.S. growth, which makes the dollar a less attractive investment.
But fears that the dollar's level is unsustainable because of the heavy indebtedness of the United States to other countries is also behind the weakness this year, analysts said.
The shift to euros underscores its growing role as a reserve currency nearly eight years after its establishment. Central banks often keep the details about their currency holdings a secret."
I bet Bush thinks this is the reason:
"Almost all euro bank notes have traces of cocaine, according to a study by German scientists."
Jiang said snakes, a popular restaurant dish in the south in the winter, could sense an earthquake from 120 km (70 miles) away, three to five days before it happens. They respond by behaving strangely.
"When an earthquake is about to occur, snakes will move out of their nests, even in the cold of winter," Jiang was quoted as saying.
"If the earthquake is a big one, the snakes will even smash into walls while trying to escape."
Maybe the snakes just don't want to be EATEN!
"Gates lacking the urge to surge? This is interesting. In yesterday's New York Sun, Eli Lake reports that Sec Def Robert Gates is actually quietly opposing President Bush's plan to escalate the conflict by adding 30,000 to 50,000 more troops to crush the Mahdi Army and other Shi'a militias in and around Baghdad."
Update: Via Atrios and Editor&Publisher, AP says the soldiers aren't too hot on it either.
Sinfonian has more.
"In this season of eating too fast and drinking too much, both of which may bring on hiccups, herewith Dr. Travell’s little-known but, in my experience, absolutely effective cure:
There is a small flap at the back of the upper palate called the uvula. Pressing the end of a butter knife or spoon handle firmly against it for three seconds or more will make the spasms stop. The only problem is to keep the hiccupper calm enough to avoid gagging.
In dozens of attempts with friends and family, I found it worked every time. As a magazine editor, I ran a brief item, and scores of readers confirmed that it did.
This hiccup treatment may also stop snoring, if you have the nerve to wake someone and try."
Um.... I think I'll pass on that last suggestion unless I really want to be beaten to death with a spoon....
"It was called "Operation Together Forward". Remember that old wheeze? It was the military operation whose name was so wretched that I assumed it could only have been named by Democrats. And it was an absolute fucking failure.
The plan was announced on 14 June 2006 by the then-recently installed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, and intended to increase security conditions in Baghdad through instituting major new measures. Operation Together Forward was planned as an operation to be led primarily by Iraqis but with Coalition support and would put about 70,000 security forces on the streets of Baghdad.
70,000 troops didn't get the job done in the summer, so what makes BushCo think that an additional 15,000 to 30,000 now is going to be able to accomplish what they couldn't? This is delusional claptrap. It's bullshit of the first water."
"“I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting,” Major Voorhies said."
"Last year, for instance, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein secured a $1 million earmark in a Senate funding bill to establish a Western Center for Food Safety and Defense at UC-Davis. It would have been the first FDA-affiliated center of its kind on the West Coast.
"(It) will play an important role in identifying potential threats and finding solutions to ensure the security of our food supply," Feinstein said at the time.
But when congressional negotiators met to craft a final spending bill, according to sources familiar with the sessions, the proposed UC-Davis food safety center lacked the support of Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., a conservative member of the House GOP leadership. The money was dropped."
"FDA believes ''that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day,'' said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Officials said they don't think special labels are needed, although a decision on labeling is pending.
Because scientists concluded there is no difference between food from clones and food from other animals, ''it would be unlikely that FDA would require labeling in those cases,'' Sundlof said.
Final approval is still months away; the agency will accept comments from the public for the next three months."
Hiding withing a maze of bureaucracy, I found this. But I'm not sure if I can type in: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? and have anyone pay attention....
The news, published in the Austin American-Statesman, says that the squirrels apparently come into contact with sensitive electrical equipment on utility poles, which can cause 700 area outages a year.
According to Austin Energy supervisor Karl Hauer, "He's a formidable foe. Ask anyone who has been stuck in traffic or left in the dark because of a squirrel."
Austin Energy is reportedly spending more than $100,000 annually to install deterrents on equipment to keep the animals at bay.
However, many Texans say that the power companies are just making excuses by blaming their faults on squirrels."
Is anyone paying attention to this nefarious perfidy? ... Or do I mean perfidious nefariousness?
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"Senior American officers said the increase in naval power should not be viewed as preparations for any offensive strike against Iran. But they acknowledged that the ability to hit Iran would be increased and that Iranian leaders might well call the growing presence provocative. One purpose of the deployment, they said, is to make clear that the focus on ground troops in Iraq has not made it impossible for the United States and its allies to maintain a military watch on Iran. That would also reassure Washington’s allies in the region who are concerned about Iran’s intentions.
The officials said the planned growth in naval power in the gulf and surrounding waters would be useful in enforcing any sanctions that the United Nations might impose as part of Washington’s strategy to punish Iran for what it sees as ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons. And the buildup would address another concern: that Iran could try to block oil shipments from the gulf in retaliation for United Nations sanctions or other American-led pressure.
Steps are already being taken to increase the number of minesweeping vessels and magnetic “sleds” carried by helicopters to improve the ability to counter Iranian mines that could block oil-shipping lanes, Pentagon and military officials said."
Then the grim yet resolute face of our Dear Leader will appear on our tv screens to inform us we are now at war with Iran....which is what his neocons friends have been aiming for all along:
"Yet there is little doubt that these same neoconservatives still exert the greatest influence on the thinking of our current President, and the more decorated among them still command great respect from our nation's media stars. They are as bloodthirsty as they are detached from reality, as amoral as they are radical, and it is long past the time that just a fraction of the scorn that they so plainly merit be heaped upon them.
The immediate proximate cause prompting this observation is this most repellent article in the leading neoconservative magazine, Commentary, by Arthur Herman, a History Professor at George Mason University. The article, entitled Getting Serious About Iran – a Military Option, is an all-out demand that war with Iran commence as soon as possible, and it offers a detailed plan for how the war should be executed."
Update: But we do have this:
"In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.""
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
"A few years ago, in the wake of 911 when achieving the American Empire looked like somewhat less actual work than it does today, Max penned the most famous Boot-ism ever: "Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets." Now, though, Boot despairs that the U.S is capable of generating sufficient troops from within our own borders to carry out that mission.
What happened was that instead of enlightened foreign administration, we got Iraq Proconsul Jerry Bremer in a business suit and desert boots, running satchels full of large, unmarked bills from the Oval Office to the Green Zone. It's a far cry from even the tailings of the original. And the administration's astounding series of screwups in that country has led to a situation in which Army recruiters are struggling to meet their quotas in every demographic. Max is now so discouraged by the scuffs on his boots and the dust on his jodhpurs and the stains on his once-pristine pith helmet sweatband that he proposes a wholesale redistribution of particular burdens.
"Some experts are already starting to wonder whether the war on terrorism might break the all-volunteer military. But because reinstating the draft isn't a serious option (the House defeated a symbolic draft bill last year, 402 to 2), some outside-the-box thinking is needed to fill up the ranks. In this regard, I note that there is a pretty big pool of manpower that's not being tapped: everyone on the planet who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident."
In other words, pith on it: let's hire out the grunt work. We need another right hefty chunk of troops to spread democracy, and Max knows just where to find them.
What he proposes is the establishment of The Freedom Legion, a force to be recruited from among legal and illegal US resident non-citizens as well as through "recruiting stations from Budapest to Bangkok, Cape Town to Cairo, Montreal to Mexico City."
"The simplest thing to do would be to sign up foreigners for the regular U.S. military, but it would also make sense to create a unit whose enlisted ranks would be composed entirely of non-Americans, led by U.S. officers and NCOs.""
"Recruiting from among our own citizens and legal residents is tres expensive. The Congressional Budget office estimated a few years ago that adding 20,000 troops to the Army would cost $100 billion in the first five years and $10 billion annually after that, which numbers you can mulitply to account for many more troops and the difficulty of training and commanding a corps of soldiers for whom English might be a second, third or unknown language.
While we probably can find any number of willing recruits overseas, we might possibly encounter some resistance from local populations who hold both our government and its various military adventures in less than high regard, and from governments that may balk at the idea of US military training for those among their own citizenry who might eventually return to use that training against those governments. So, to the expense of recruiting, training, maintaining and commanding the Freedom Legion you can add that of protecting the recruiters and recruits in the far-flung lands we attempt to mine, exhaustively screening recruits to forestall the inevitable attempts to obtain the best military training in the world by people who wish us ill, and bribing the host governments into allowing us to do this.
Beyond the practical difficulties, which would be enough to scuttle the plan in any sane country, recruiting abroad would indelibly stamp the United States as an empire in official thought and deed. Boot thinks that’s a fine idea; one of his favorite Kipling quotes is “Ye dare not stoop to less,” from, appropriately, The White Man’s Burden. He once said of the US imperative to take up that burden that “Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.”
And that, really, is all you need know about Max Boot and his ideas of what’s good for this country."
"The Iraqi government is considering a new oil law that could give private oil companies greater control over its vast reserves. In light of rampant violence and shaky democratic institutions, many fear the law is being pushed through hastily by special interests behind closed doors."
"Oil, of course, can be politically explosive at the best of times, let alone the worst. So, when the country with the third largest oil reserves in the world debates the future of its endowment during a time of civil war, people sit up and take notice.
The Iraqi government is working on a new hydrocarbons law that will set the course for the country's oil sector and determine where its vast revenues will flow. The consequences for such a law in such a state are huge. Not only could it determine the future shape of the Iraqi federation -- as regional governments battle with Baghdad's central authority over rights to the riches -- but it could put much of Iraqi oil into the hands of foreign oil companies."
Update: Thanks to Tengrain's comment, I did research on the ISG's recommendations for Iraq and its oil. Sure enough:
"In other words, the United States will transform its military occupation into a management occupation.
We would help the Iraqis set up this new oil industry, and in turn--well...this is obvious--the United States would become customer "numero uno" to this new oil industry. We teach the Iraqis how to use corporations to turn oil reserves into billionaires, and a few close friends of the Bush family get to call the new Iraqi oil tycoons "cousin"--just like Saudi Arabia."
"And hence, whereas the Neo-Cons saw themselves as creating an free market garden of eden that would transform Iraq, the Middle East and the world, the ISG has proposed creating an oil nationalism that would transform Iraq, the oil tycoons of Texas and Saudi Arabia, and the oil tycoons of the world (who mostly live in Texas and Saudi Arabia).
Saudi Arabia 2.0 is what we would get: an oil nation run by immoral princes with special relationships to oil conglomerates in the U.S."
"In other words open it up to Western Big Oil companies. No nationalization, let the companies make the profits."
that Bush dreams it will be.
"To be brief, the decision to not engage Iran and Syria will likely have much bigger consequences than we may currently know. Not only in the short term, but over the course of years as the potential for rebuilding relationships and trying to work together in stabilizing (sort of) the region is passing us by. And yes, we can say how this is the “grand plan” of Bush and the neocons, but that really isn’t the point here.
With respect to an escalation in Iraq, there is only disaster written all over that. The blowback against our troops in Iraq, troops in the region, and the potential for retaliatory attacks here in the US is enormous (look no further than what is going on in the UK as proof). There could easily be another 50,000 – 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties in a short period of time if there is a focus on Sadr City and al Sadr’s militia. Attacks would increase against our troops, and our overall military would suffer greatly in the long run as well."
Update: Madison Guy over at Letter From Here blog compares Baghdad to Stalingrad, quoting from the Miami Herald:
"A major buildup would commit the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to decisive combat in which there would be no more strategic reserves to be sent to the front. As Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway pointed out Monday, "If you commit your reserve for something other than a decisive win, or to stave off defeat, then you have essentially shot your bolt.""
The dominoes begin to fall ..
Update: Matthew Igleias offers proof with a Glenn Reynolds quote.
"To put it another way, our system attributes to people in their capacity as voters the very truth-detection skills that it assumes they do not have in their capacity as consumers."
Makes me never want to eat or drink again....
Update: More damning videos.
Eep! Forgive me for that mental image....While Rome burns, Bush hides under his bed sheets? .... Bush tries to run out the clock on his Amazing and Excellent Preznit Adventure? .... Bush waits for the Saudis to save his ass once again? ....Bush dreams about what his manly muscly liberry will show about his macho and better'n Poppy prezidentin'?
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
"First there was the “mission accomplished” banner. Then, last year, there was a “plan for victory” and, just this past October, the presidential assertion, “Absolutely, we’re winning.” Now that President Bush is seeking “a new way forward” in Iraq, he is embracing a new verbal construction to describe progress there: “We’re not winning. We’re not losing.”"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
"Zuzu of Feministe reports a disgraceful ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court (or a fair ruling according to a disgraceful law, depending on how you look at it). The Court has upheld a 10-year prison term for a 17-year-old boy who received a consensual blow job from a 15-year-old girl."
They must be so proud.
After Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) said this: "Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior."
Like that other poor public official who demanded that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict be solved in a Christian-like manner....
You notice what the Department of Agriculture does? They criticize South Korea for rejecting the beef and ask to see their testing methodology. How dare they say no to mad cow flavored with dioxin!
Sounds like Bush is running the department, doesn't it?
Friday, December 22, 2006
"Some of the children potentially face legal separation from their detained parents if relatives, friends and others don't step in soon and formally take over guardianship, Gajardo says. St. Peter and Paul officials and others are scrambling to avoid such a development and Gajardo says they have until January.
"We do not want these kids to be split up. We don't want siblings split up. We want them to be back with their parents," Gajardo said."
Tell me why we had this raid again?
"First and foremost, George W. Bush is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What this means, mostly, is that he has rather desperate insecurities about himself, and compensates by constructing a grandiose self-image. Most of his relationships are either mirroring relationships--people who flatter him and reinforce his grandiosity--or idealized self-objects--people that he himself thinks alot of, and hence feels flattered by his association. Some likely perform both functions. Hence his weakness for sycophants like Harriet Miers, and powerful personalities like Dick Cheney.
Even as a narcissist, Bush knows he isn't a great intellect, and compensates by dismissing the value of intellect altogether. Hence his disses of Gore's bookishness, and any other intellectual that isn't kissing his ass. Bush knows that his greatest personal strength is projecting personal affability, and tries to utilize it even in the most inappropriate settings. That's why he gives impromptu backrubs to the German Chancellor in a diploamtic meeting--he's insecure intellectually, and tries to make everyone into a "buddy" so he can feel more secure. (Pathetic, isn't it?)
The most disturbing aspect about narcissists, however, is their pathological inability to empathize with others, with the exception of those who either mirror them, or whom they idealize. Hence Bush's horrifying insensitivity to the Katrina victims, his callous jokes when visiting greivously injured soldiers, and numerous other instances. The guy simply has no capacity to feel for others in that way. When LBJ was losing Vietnam, he developed a haunted expression that anybody could recognize as indicative of underlying anguish. For all his faults, you just knew he was losing sleep over it. By the same token, we know just as well that Bush isn't losing any sleep over dead American soldiers, to say nothing of dead Iraqis. He didn't exhibit any sign of significant concern until his own political popularity was sliding--because THAT'S something he can definitely feel.
"Bush knows that things aren't going his way in Iraq, and he knows that it is damaging him politically. He also sees that it is likely to get worse no matter what he does, and in fact it may be a lost cause. However, he recognizes that if he follows the recommendations of the ISG, that Iraq will almost certainly evolve into a puppet state of Iran, and given his treatment of Iran he will completely lose control of the situation--and he will be politically discredited for this outcome. The ONLY chance that he has to avoid this political disaster, and save his political skin, is to hope against hope for "victory" in Iraq. Advancing the "surge" idea offers Bush two political advantages over following the ISG recommendations. One is that if it is implemented, maybe, just maybe, he can pull out some sort of nominal "victory" out of the situation. The chances are exceedingly slim, granted, but slim is better to him than the alternative (none). Alternately, if the "surge" is politically rejected, he gains some political cover, so when things inevitably go to shit, he can say "I told you so" and blame the "surrender monkeys" for the outcome. Most people probably won't buy it, but some (his core base) will.Now, I know what many of you are thinking--is George Bush willing to risk the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands more American soldiers, on an outside chance to save his political skin, in a half-baked plan that even he knows probably won't work at all? Damn straight he is. Because George Bush is that narcissistic, that desperate, and yes, that sociopathic as well."
Update: 12/23 fixed quote.
"The talking point of the moment, and the one that is sure to be adopted is called the Surge. The Surge, simply put, is bringing in a theoretical 20,000 to 50,000 additional troops. Never mind that the military already is stretched to the breaking point and recruitment has been underwhelming.
And please let no one remind the Brain Trust of Texas that last summer the same Surge plan was tried and the violence escalated. More troops = more targets. And no one will say how long the surge will last. My guess: 2008, when it can be some other president’s problem.
The Surge, we are told with a straight face, will secure Baghdad, kick some Islamb-o-fascist ass, train their troops and police force (Like Calliope weaving by day and unravelling by night, their police and military are thought to be largely composed of the insurgents themselves, but shhhhh, don’t mention that to the Decider), and secure Chimpy’s place in history. I think his rightful place is pretty much guaranteed already."
Morse thinks the draft is imminent:
"I think that Bush had a plan all along to reinstitute the draft. There's no other way he can sustain his failed war in the Middle East, and now with the talk of expanding the military in the wake of that fiasco, a draft is the only recourse.
This is how it begins. A few lower ranking administration officials floating a trial balloon, which the White House immediately backs away from.
President Bush's secretary for Veterans Affairs said Thursday that "society would benefit" if the country brought back the military draft, then clarified that he doesn't support such a move.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson spoke a day after Bush said he is considering sending more troops to Iraq. The administration has for years forcefully opposed bringing back the draft, and the White House said Thursday that its position had not changed."
Update: Watertiger notes how convenient the 2009 date for the draft is...Georgie will have been long gone and nobody will blame him for the wreckage.
Update: AOL has a poll.
"In today's press conference, President Bush dodged a question as to whether he'll overrule top military brass if they oppose his reported plan for a "surge" of troops in Iraq.
"That's a dangerous hypothetical," he said, concluding his answer with "nice try."
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the White House was promoting the "surge" idea "over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.""
There is no doubt that these moves are intended to signal to the Iranians (as well as to what the Times describes as "Washington’s allies in the region who are concerned about Iran’s intentions") that we are capable of an offensive military strike against Iran:
Senior American officers said the increase in naval power should not be viewed as preparations for any offensive strike against Iran. But they acknowledged that the ability to hit Iran would be increased and that Iranian leaders might well call the growing presence provocative.
One purpose of the deployment, they said, is to make clear that the focus on ground troops in Iraq has not made it impossible for the United States and its allies to maintain a military watch on Iran.
Bush officials cite two "justifications" for these maneuvers: (1) to enforce any sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council as a result of Iran's refusal to comply with its resolutions (sanctions which have not yet been imposed), and (2) to deter Iran from a military blockade of oil shipments in retaliation for not-yet-imposed sanctions."
And look at the very convenient death of Saparmurat Niyazov, the dictator of Turkmenistan. The logic of a warmonger:
"For the National Review
It is possible that the incoming leadership (whenever it does finally settle down) will prove eagerly pro-American, going so far as to permit a U.S. base in the country. This would close the ring around Iran, and dramatically increase the tactical options (e.g., helicopter missions) for any future U.S. operations in the vicinity of Tehran, which is close to the Turkmeni border, and which includes several major nuclear installations.
According to a bi-partisan group of military experts — it doesn’t matter what direction you come from — there are no good military options in Iran."
Has anyone checked to make sure it was a heart attack and not a polonium salad?
Blue Texan at Unclaimed Territory:
"The warbloggers shrieked and screamed at Murtha (Powerline later called him "disgusting" and Michelle Malkin accused him of "hanging the Marines"), and of course propped up the Great Leader. But in their frantic demonizing of Murtha and the media they never bothered to ask this critical question about Haditha: why were the Marines there? Why were Marines getting blown up by IEDs and knocking down civilian doors in Anbar, almost three years after Mission Accomplished?
We should remember that the cretins (as Chris Matthews called them earlier this week) who put those guys in that terrible situation are just as responsible for Haditha as the men on the ground. If you put overstressed combat soldiers in an untenable situation, bad things happen. John Murtha, who was a Marine for 37 years, understood that. The warbloggers like Mobius Dick, who've never served, still don't."
"Now the Democrats are back in control of Congress. They’ve pledged not to be as irresponsible as their predecessors: Nancy Pelosi, the incoming House speaker, has promised to restore the “pay-as-you-go” rule that the Republicans tossed aside in the Bush years. This rule would basically prevent Congress from passing budgets that increase the deficit.
I’m for pay-as-you-go. The question, however, is whether to go further. Suppose the Democrats can free up some money by fixing the Medicare drug program, by ending the Iraq war and/or clamping down on war profiteering, or by rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts. Should they use the reclaimed revenue to reduce the deficit, or spend it on other things?
The answer, I now think, is to spend the money — while taking great care to ensure that it is spent well, not squandered — and let the deficit be. By spending money well, Democrats can both improve Americans’ lives and, more broadly, offer a demonstration of the benefits of good government. Deficit reduction, on the other hand, might just end up playing into the hands of the next irresponsible president.
In the long run, something will have to be done about the deficit. But given the state of our politics, now is not the time."
Update: Matthew Yglesias agrees with Krugman's assessment.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
" The report of James A. Baker's Iraq Study Group has already become a benchmark for Iraq policy, dominating the print and electronic media for several days after its release, and generating excited commentary by all manner of leadership types from Washington to London to Baghdad. Even if most of the commentary continues to be negative, we can nevertheless look forward to highly publicized policy changes in the near future that rely for their justification on this report, or on one of the several others recently released, or on those currently being prepared by the Pentagon, the White House, and the National Security Council.
This is not, however, good news for those of us who want the U.S. to end its war of conquest in Iraq. Quite the contrary: The ISG report is not an "exit strategy;" it is a new plan for achieving the Bush administration's imperial goals in the Middle East."
"At on Dec. 31, hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents will be instantly declassified, including many F.B.I. cold war files on investigations of people suspected of being Communist sympathizers. After years of extensions sought by federal agencies behaving like college students facing a term paper, the end of 2006 means the government’s first automatic declassification of records.
Secret documents 25 years old or older will lose their classified status without so much as the stroke of a pen, unless agencies have sought exemptions on the ground that the material remains secret."