This page shows all the posts for the "War in Iraq" Category from E Pluribus Unum
The most current posts are on the main page.

November 26, 2007

Shorter Bush White House:

OK, the dirty hippies were right about everything.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

November 19, 2007

Odds & Sods #45: Optimist's Edition

November 15, 2007

Here's how bad it's gotten in Iraq

MSNBC:

[S]ome U.S. Army officers now talk more sympathetically about former insurgents than they do about their ostensible allies in the Shiite-led central government. "It is painful, very painful," dealing with the obstructionism of Iraqi officials, said Army Lt. Col. Mark Fetter.

I'm hearing several things in that statement:

  1. The surge failed to produce results as advertised.
  2. The US Army did what it was told -- don't blame them for this mess.
  3. The politicians -- Iraqi, US, as usual -- screwed this thing up.

If victory was ever in the cards, it was going to be dealt out by a democratic Iraqi government that was on our side. That isn't going to happen now.

Why are we even still there?

November 09, 2007

Effective Disorder

by shep

Eugene Robinson:

"It's official: Bush Derangement Syndrome is now a full-blown epidemic. George W. Bush apparently has reduced more of his fellow citizens to frustrated, sputtering rage than any president since opinion polling began, with the possible exception of Richard Nixon. . .”

Mitch McConnell:

"The war is winding down. Next year's election is going to be about this Congress and what it failed to do"

Michael Crowley:

"I wonder whether the Democrats have been preparing for that possibility -- and what their contingency plans are if the Iraq debate tacks substantially back the GOP's way."

Karl Rove:

"The Democratic victory in 2006 was narrow. They won the House by 85,961 votes out of over 80 million cast and the Senate by a mere 3,562 out of over 62 million cast. A party that wins control by that narrow margin can quickly see its fortunes reversed when it fails to act responsibly, fails to fulfill its promises, and fails to lead.”

"People in the past who have been on the nutty fringe of political life, who were more or less voiceless, have now been given an inexpensive and easily accessible soapbox, a blog.”

And that’s one reason you’re out of the White House and forced to peddle your delusions on the permanently deranged pages of the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed. That is, after helping to create a permanent Republican minority.

Lets’ all pray for a slow and painful recovery.

H/T Dan Froomkin

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

November 07, 2007

Shorter (in every way) George Bush:

Please Mr. Musharraf, could you please get back to helping me spread my “freedom agenda”? Your check is in the mail.

(Oh, and Mr. Erdogan, I sure would appreciate it if you didn’t invade Iraq. Pretty please.

October 29, 2007

Domestic Fascism Awareness Week Kickoff

by Mark Adams

Courtesy Blogenfreude at
Agitprop: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Propaganda.

I know, I know ... the first word that popped into your mind was "Giuliani", wasn't it?
The kickoff begins with a tribute to the inspirational (or is that, "inspirational") David Horowitz and his praise of Disaster Capitalism's hero, Pinochet, of the "Miracle Economy."

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comOne can only hope progressives everywhere learn from the horrible mistake of hounding this old tyrant, a sad case of Activist International Tribunals, and Leave Rummy Alone.

Rumsfeld flees France fearing arrest

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France today fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint against the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

According to activists in France, who greeted Rumsfeld shouting “murderer” and “war criminal” at the breakfast meeting venue, US embassy officials remained tight-lipped about the former defense secretary’s whereabouts citing “security reasons”.

Anti-torture protesters in France believe that the defense secretary fled over the open border to Germany, where a war crimes case against Rumsfeld was dismissed by a federal court. But activist point out that under the Schengen agreement that ended border checkpoints across a large part of the European Union, French law enforcement agents are allowed to cross the border into Germany in pursuit of a fleeing fugitive.

“Rumsfeld must be feeling how Saddam Hussein felt when US forces were hunting him down,” activist Tanguy Richard said. “He may never end up being hanged like his old friend, but he must learn that in the civilized world, war crime doesn’t pay.”

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights (LDH) filed the complaint on Thursday after learning that Rumsfeld was scheduled to visit Paris.
U.S.A.


Run Rummy! RUN!

October 26, 2007

Arming the Terrorists

by shep

Certain people, who need not be named but who whisper in the ear of the president and the leading Republican candidate to replace him and who are hired by the most prestigious (and not so much) news organizations to share their opinions with the public, think we should attack the country of Iran for providing (completely unproven) support for insurgents fighting against the US occupation of Iraq.

Well, who wouldn’t want to attack the country that arms its enemies, who end up killing their troops? Still, the main moral difference between Iraq/Iran and this seems to be that the Soviets were actually invited into Afghanistan by its government (much like our own venture into Vietnam). (Can you imagine if they simply came up with some phony excuse to invade and occupy the country, hanging its leaders and killing a million innocent Afghanis?)

Yet the IEDs Stinger missiles and other support supplied by our Quds Force CIA and China, Pakistan and Iran (”The Coalition of the Willing”), killed 10,000 or more Soviet troops (good thing the Soviets didn’t have nuclear weapons and strategic bombing capability, huh?).

The (most ironic) poison fruit, poisons us still:

“Some American groups, particularly neoconservatives came to believe that they were responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. The Islamists that fought also believed that they were responsible for the fall of the union, and this may have indirectly lead to 9/11. Osama bin Laden, for example asserting the credit for ‘the collapse of the Soviet Union ... goes to God and the mujahidin in Afghanistan ... the US had no mentionable role,’ but ‘collapse made the US more haughty and arrogant.’”


But, as we have learned from tragic effect, they are absolutely incapable of learning anything from history:

“Some participants felt leverage was not the main issue; rather, US policymakers knowingly abandoned Afghanistan to the Pakistanis and Saudis to ‘sort out’ Afghanistan’s future. However, the participant said, ‘The Pak-Saudi agenda for Afghanistan was totally ruinous . . . it was [that] agenda which leads to Al Qaeda and all the rest of it. . . . Did you not see this in 1992, as it emerges?’”

The obvious answer is either “no” or they just didn’t think it mattered very much.

Regardless, the Soviets didn’t attack the US over arming its enemies in Afghanistan, we didn’t attack China for arming our enemies in Korea and Vietnam and China didn’t attack us for arming theirs. Pakistan has illegal nuclear weapons, Maddrassas, a Muslim population that is far more radicalized than Iran and it arms Islamic radicals who kill our troops in Afghanistan while it provides safe haven to Osama bin Laden (if he's still alive). We call it an ally.

In any event, the people who have shaped the foreign and military policy of the United States for the past seven years (especially Vice President Cheney) are not the people who should be allowed anywhere near that sort of power ever again. Just as their authoritarianism, bellicosity and aggression has made Osama bin Laden’s fondest wishes come true it has also driven the price of oil to record highs, funneling ever more $billions to countries like Iran and Russia even as it unites Muslim nations against us and weakens us economically and militarily.

If the nation’s political and media leaders had either the slightest bit of level-headed judgement or a functioning moral compass the neoconservatives wouldn't be setting the agenda, they would be driven from the public sphere in shame and eventually tried for their crimes against humanity.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

October 01, 2007

Lucrative Careers in the Disaster Capitalism Complex

An excerpt from John Cusack's eye-opening interview with Naomi Klein:

One of the distinguishing features of the Bush administration has been its reliance on outside advisers and freelance envoys to perform key functions: James Baker, Paul Bremer, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Richard Perle, Bruce Jackson, and so on...

Their power stems from the fact that they used to perform key roles in government -- they are former secretaries of state, former ambassadors and former undersecretaries of defense. All have been out of government for years and, in the meantime, have set up lucrative careers in the disaster capitalism complex.

And because they are freelance government contractors, they aren't subject to the same conflict-of-interest rules as elected or appointed politicians.

The effect has been to eliminate the so-called revolving door between government and industry and allow the disaster industries to simply set up shop inside the government, using the reputations of these supposedly illustrious ex-politicians as cover.

Read the whole thing.

P.S. Yes, that John Cusack.

September 20, 2007

Republican Party Commits Suicide (Updated)

Gosh, it's like the Hale-Bopp Comet all over again:

In March 1997, the cult group Heaven's Gate chose the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet as a signal for their mass cult suicide. They claimed they were leaving their earthly bodies to travel to the spaceship following the comet.

Similarly, by blocking a vote on the Webb amendment (which would have guaranteed a 15-month home rotation following a 15 month tour of duty), Senate Republicans committed political suicide, claiming they were supporting the troops.

Pretty fantastic stuff.

Here, in the real world, what was at stake can be best expressed by reading a comment from John Aravosis' blog:

"I remember well when my son in law was in Iraq for 12 long months. My wife did most of the heavy emotional lifting, consoling my daughter when the panic attacks hit. I did less, but I remember it well.

You see -- when a guy dies in Iraq they shut down all communication home until the next of kin can be notified. One unintended consequence of that is spouses know when somebody has died, but they don't know who. It's like that scene in A League of Their Own, except the tension and fear goes on for a day or two and then it happens again a few weeks later.

How many soldiers come back from Iraq to divorce? How many broken families has this war produced?

You don't support the troops if you don't give them adequate time home. You don't support families that way either.

Neocons say, it is a way to force an early withdrawal. I say, Bush should have thought about that when he started this cursed war.

...and Senate Republicans should have thought about it before they blocked a floor vote on the measure.

You know it's gotten weird when Robert Novak, aka the Prince of Darkness, aka the Douchebag for Liberty, tells it the way it is:

The failure of the Petraeus report to significantly alter the political climate on Iraq is bad news for Republicans in the 2008 campaign. The assessment by GOP insiders is that continued casualty lists in the election year will be fatal. President George W. Bush's statement offered little hope for relief.
And he said this before the Republicans "successful" filibuster yesterday.

P.S. By the way, the phrase "success in Iraq" -- now, more than ever --means one, and only one, thing: Bush Holds GOP Support On Iraq

UPDATE: More on Reid's inner circle and how its strategy on Iraq has shifted.

September 18, 2007

Gen. Pace: Didn't know what "Assume" REALLY means

U.S. Marine General Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation,” Pace said.
I'll give him credit, though, for admitting his mistake.

September 14, 2007

Edwards: “No timeline. No funding. No excuses.” (Updated)

Edwards goes over the heads of the President and the Congress and directly to the American people:

Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home. But Congress must answer to the American people. Tell Congress you know the truth...No timeline. No funding. No excuses.

Edwards has managed to frame the debate on his own terms.

UPDATE: Don't just sit there -- go on, call your Congressman. What are you waiting for? Tell them "no timeline, no funding, no excuses."

September 12, 2007

General Lies

by shep

General Petraeus, just like his civilian rulers in the Bush Administration (I'm shocked), continues to tout progress from The Surge:

"The tribes and the sheiks decided to say no more to Al Qaeda. They were tired of the indiscriminate violence, tired of the Taliban-like ideology and the other practices," he said. "They are Sunni Arabs rising up against a largely Sunni Arab Al Qaeda in Iraq."

I'm not sure what our extra 30,000 troops spread across Iraq has to do with that but, meanwhile, there are good reasons why we should keep 130,000 American soldiers, indefinitely, in a hated occupation in Iraq where 70% of the population says that The Surge has made life more violent and dangerous:

"A rapid withdrawal would result in disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, rapid deterioration of local security initiatives. . . . Al Qaeda in Iraq regaining lost ground. . ."

Obviously, no one has any idea what will happen in Iraq, with or without an American troop withdrawal. So why would anyone state as fact that Al Qaeda, who’s “indiscriminate violence” and “Taliban-like ideology and the other practices," has already been rejected and attacked by much more secular Iraqi Sunnis and which didn’t even exist in Iraq until we invaded and occupied the country, will regain lost ground if we were to withdraw occupying troops?

Your answer can be found here:

"The reason to emphasize al-Qaeda, aides said, is simple. 'People know what that means,' said one senior official who spoke about internal strategy on the condition of anonymity. 'The average person doesn't understand why the Sunnis and Shia don't like each other. They don't know where the Kurds live. . . . And al-Qaeda is something they know. They're the enemy of the United States.'"

Just as Bush and Cheney lied when they said that ”there’s no doubt” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, anyone telling the American public that they know what will happen if we begin to withdraw troops from Iraq is lying, plain and simple. To lay claim to knowledge of future events which don’t even make sense relative to your own characterizations of what’s happening at the moment can be taken for what it is: pure agenda-driven propaganda.

It’s a damned shame that Bush and the Republicans have so corrupted the relative non-partisanship and credibility of the US military but not really surprising. They’ve done the same with every single element of the US government from the Supreme Court to the Department of Justice when they thought it served their interests. There isn’t an honest bone among them and “fixing the facts around the policy” is all they know.

September 11, 2007

Petraeus: “I don't know” that Iraq war is making US safer

If you were putting your life on the line on the field of battle, if your son, father, husband or brother was risking his life for his country, the last thing you want to hear is your commanding general admit that he doesn't know if the mission is worth fighting for.

Watch it:

This is simply devastating and the effect on morale will be excruciating.

September 10, 2007

Odds & Sods #40: Petraeus Day Edition

September 06, 2007

Open Letter To Barack Obama

Geekesque calls on Sen. Obama to take the lead role in ending the occupation of Iraq:

There was a time for Congress to be the steering wheel of our Iraq policy. Now, someone needs to slam on the brakes.

That person should, by all rights, be you. You alone of any major candidate running in either party had the prescience and honesty to oppose invading Iraq. You understood the disaster that would unfold. This gives you credibility--as well as intellectual and moral authority-- that no one else on the national stage possesses.
[...]
Senator, you're either moving forward or you're moving backwards. Relative to other candidates, you're moving backwards on Iraq. How on earth is it even remotely possible that Hillary Clinton, a clinical study in opportunism when it comes to Iraq, is perceived amongst primary voters as essentially indistinguishable from you?

Do the right thing and the smart thing. For your nation, your party, and yourself. Step forward, demand the damn ball, and be prepared to accept the consequences one way or another. The voters will not punish you for speaking out against a tragical farce like our so-called Iraq debate.

Playing it safe will result in Bush winning and Hillary getting the nomination. Playing it safe is the ultimate form of living dangerously.

Sometimes you just have to step out of line.

September 04, 2007

Was Bush Aware Of Disbanding Iraqi Army?

by Mark Adams

The President and his former Iraq Viceroy are at odds about a trifling detail.  Did Paul Bremer have White House approval to include disbanding the entire Iraqi Army as part of his plan for wide-spread de-Baathification -- the one institution that might have been relied upon to provide employment and enforce stability throughout the war-torn country?  This decision is without a doubt one of the most controversial of the entire war, a true turning point..

The NY Times recounts the back and forth between Bremer and Bush, via Rumsfeld, where Bremer drafted a letter on May 20, 2003, sends it on the 22nd and heard back from Bush himself on the 23rd with a "heckuvajob" letter that did not mention the plan.

One get's the impression that the "C" student CEO PrezNitWit really didn't read Bremer's letter, or at least appreciate it's import.  That's more than understandable.  There was a lot on his plate right then, less than three weeks after his infamous "Mission Accomplished" declaration -- he probably believed his own press clippings, that the hard part was over. 

President Photo-Op certainly had another kind of awareness pressing in on him at that time. For instance, we're still going 'round and 'round about the White House's ability to spy on us, so in an Orwellian turn of phrase ...

DARPA's Congressional report announces that the controversial Total Information Awareness program will be known as the Terrorist Information Awareness program from now on, to emphasize that its purpose is to compile data on terrorists, and not to compile dossiers on US citizens. -- May 20, 2003
The very day Bremer gave the order dissolving what had been the world's third largest land army was a uniquely busy day for His PrezNitNess:

Dept SecDef Paul Wolfowitz was getting "grilled" on Capital Hill about the situation in Iraq ...

Wolfowitz tells Congress, “One of the keys to getting Iraq up and running as a country is to restore its primary source of revenue: its oil infrastructure.
That was also same day that the UN officially turned the country over to Bremer's CPA and Bush signs Executive Order No. 13303, granting immunity to oil companies working in Iraq to protect the UN's Iraq Development Fund's ability to pay for all of this so -- you don't have to.

General Tommy Franks evidently thought this whirlwind of a day would be a convenient time to announce his retirement as well.

BUT, what was really on the minds of the media, and public at large the third week of May, 2003?  What do you think the President was doing May 21, 2003, and talking about on the 22nd when all this went down? Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com

What was really important, taking precedence over supervising the future of the Middle East and the legacy we will be leaving our grandchildren?  Was George Bush burning the midnight oil, preparing for this monumental day in history?

In a very, very close vote, Ruben Studdard beat out Clay Aiken to become the next American Idol.

Probably not. The Bushes are "Idol's First Fans," after all

August 18, 2007

Cheney is a Dildo and Other Quyck Hyts

by Mark Adams

From his lust for Kralizec to his desire to privatize Social Security, Rudy unites left and right, by his stupidity.  Seriously, the guy is absofreakinglutely bat-shit crazy.

Obama figures out
he's just not that good at the 30 second sound-byte debate format -- cuts and runs from attending any more debates than those already scheduled.  I assume that means there will be a hard limit of no more than 47 more until we begin voting -- probably right after Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, there will be lots of arugula.

After watching some TPMtv, spotlighting Mitt Romney's profound ignorance of anything east of Boston Harbor, Raising Kaine concludes "Multiple-Choice Mitt" is a "Giant Foreign Policy Goofball."  News Hounds gets the hypocrisy of Romney's schpeel, but you really need to watch Josh Marshall put it all together to understand how profoundly delusional Romney is. 

Meanwhile, Eleanor Clift has a question for Mitt & Co. that might stop some of the GOP hopefuls in their tracks -- since of course, they'd have to think instead of regurgitating their 30 year-old talking points or trying to remember whether they we talking to an audience that preferred the flip to the flop.

Stop asking Romney and the other Republican front runners about abortion and start asking them where they stand on family planning.
Shorter Elly C.:  "Please stop talking about this wedge issue that is destined to lose the election for us.  Our candidates suck eggs on this."

Fred Thompson, who turns 65 today (thus eligible for all the entitlements he vows to abolish), is the only candidate who needed to have his fat, lazy ass trucked around the Iowa State Fair in a golf cart. 

Actually he looked kinda gaunt.  He'll need to scarf down a few more elephant ears to be the right's answer to Michael Moore. 

She really ought to take it easy on the old guy.  How many little blue pills can one man take?

I noted before that Mike Huckabee was kind spoken towards the Clintons, to the point where he would sound almost gushing if he weren't a Republican.  Rights Field's David Dayen thinks these remarks point to where Huckabee first got the idea that cars and buses were lame, that his super-coolness would be enshrined forever once his Harley cleared the shark tank.

This kid came from a dysfunctional family — alcoholic abusive father. And yet he didn't just aspire, he was elected president of the United States not once, but twice. That is an affirmation of the system. And it's a wonderful testament to give to every kid in America that no matter where you've come from, you've got an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
John Edwards gets ahead of the "gotcha" game and David Sirota approves, he rejects right wing framing of the "war on terra" in the same way that former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Meyers approved, connects with ordinary folks and David Brooks approves, talks the talk and walks the walk in a way RFK and MLK would approve, calls Coultergeist a "She-Devil," and I approve.  Atrios insults Instalinker and FU by comparing them to Annie Sunshine -- Digby approves.

Wingnuttystan still says, "Gotcha," cuz that's all they got.  I mean, what are they gonna do?  Buy into McCain trying to be the anti-war candidate?  Puh-Leeze.

More Wingnut News...

Vice President Cheney
is a dildo, what else to you call a dick substitute? (Do not Click if you are under age ... 40.)  Doctor BooMan advises us to use a condom anyway.

Speaking of nuts and other guilty pleasures of the alternate universe ... you know you just gotta click on a link that says Ron Paul teams up with Dennis Kucinich.

August 16, 2007

The BSing of America Continues

by Mark Adams

General Petraeus not only won't be writing "his" report on Iraq, he won't be talking about it either -- Condi and SecDef Gates have the honor of live bamboozlement come September.

Hilzoy has more.  Clearly, the Administration insists that Congress and the public be more open-minded to their single-mindedness.

It's no way to run a country, and it's certainly no way to run a war.
You of course are free to blame the traitors who leaked this shell game to the librule media whose only goal is to undermine Bush's dedication to his delusions.

CUT AND RUN I say!  Cut the damn country into iddy, biddy pieces; and then Run it right.

(HT: MoJo)

August 15, 2007

Cheney: Iraq “...a quagmire.”

This is dick Cheney, circa 1994, justifying why the first President Bush did not occupy Iraq after the Gulf War.


The question for the president in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam was how many additional dead Americans was Saddam worth, and our judgment was not very many. And I think we got it right.

It reminds of the guy who says, "I may not always be right, but I'm never wrong."

July 22, 2007

Please Stop What You're Doing And Watch This Video Right Now

I read this morning that John Conyers is close to initiating impeachment hearings from the House Judiciary Committee. Not sure this is accurate, but this video sums up just some of the reasons why he should get started right now.

P.S. Double-extra movie geek bonus points if you recognized the voice of Charlie Chaplin at the very end, taken from The Great Dictator.

July 13, 2007

Big Republican Lies On Iraq

by shep

No, I don’t mean Dick Cheney prostrate on the sand in Ramadi – however appealing the idea – I mean the monumentally deceitful propaganda being hurled at the American public by Republican leaders in both the White House and the Congress:

1) It’s about al Qaeda

This lie has been going on (and been debunked) since before the war. The truth is, Osama bin Laden was a foe of Saddam Hussein and his secular Baathist state. While the US invasion and occupation of Iraq opened a window for al Qaeda affiliates, they represent a small percentage of those fighting US troops and are currently despised by their erstwhile Iraqi Sunni partners. They are being killed and otherwise expelled from Anbar province to much public celebration by US officials. If the US leaves Iraq, neither Sunni nor Shiite nor Kurdish Iraqis will tolerate al Qaeda’s presence there.

2) If we leave Iraq, the terrorists will follow us here.

The truth is, if any of the Islamist terrorists (and not just al Qaeda) could strike us here, they would already have done so. Leaving Iraq won’t change their capacity to do that one bit, except that it would take away the radicals best recruiting tool and best excuse to attack us.

3) If we leave Iraq before we “win” the cost will be too great.

The truth is, no one has any idea what will happen if we leave Iraq except that we will no longer be bleeding troops by the hundreds and money by the tens of $billions per month. And Republicans have been consistently and insanely inaccurate on the cost-benefit calculation for Iraq policy from the beginning so there is absolutely no reason to assume that their guess is right this time.

4) Congress should let the generals decide how to run the war.

The truth is, as much as the President desires, the generals have run and will continue to run whatever policy is set forth by the civilian leadership of the government, just as the Founders intended and wrote into the US Constitution. Congress gets to write and fund war policy and the President, as Commander-in-Chief gets to execute that war policy, period.


In short, you can’t trust a word Republicans or the Bush Administration, including the Pentagon and the generals, tell you about Iraq or Iran.

[Cross-posted at Dispassionate Liberal]

July 05, 2007

Oblivious to Obstruction

by shep

Dear Norman Ornstein,

I’m writing you as the e-mailer Diane Rehm referred to this morning when she asked whether you thought that the motive and timing of President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby's jail sentence might revolve around the threat he could pose to the Vice President (and, perhaps, the President himself) as his avenues for avoiding prison had just been exhausted. You dismissed the idea out-of-hand, without offering the slightest reason for why that couldn't be the case.

I may be no resident political scholar but my take is, the politics of satisfying the base aside, there is no other reasonable explanation for the timing of the commutation since it would have been weeks before Mr. Libby likely would have had to start serving his sentence. In the interim, however, Mr. Libby would have had significant motivation to offer testimony against the Vice President and, possibly, Mr. Bush himself.

Don’t take my word for it, here is what other commentators have had to say as reported by The Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin:

The New York Times: "Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell."

Los Angeles Times: "The larger problem in commuting Libby's sentence is the message it sends to his unfortunately unindicted co-conspirator, Cheney.

Sidney Blumenthal writes in Salon: "Bush's commutation of Libby's 30-month prison sentence for four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice was as politically necessary to hold his remaining hardcore base for the rest of his 18 months in office as it was politically damaging to his legacy and to the possibility of a Republican succession. It was also essential in order to sustain Libby's cover-up protecting Cheney and perhaps Bush himself."

Norman Pearlstine writes on Huffingtonpost.com: "Bush's rationale might have had some merit had Libby been convicted solely of perjury. If that were the case, one might argue that he was convicted of a 'process crime'. . .

"But that isn't what happened. In addition to perjury, Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice. That was the most important charge against him. Patrick Fitzgerald's summation to the jury and his sentencing recommendation made it clear that Libby's obstruction precluded him from ever determining whether his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney had broken the law and what role the White House had played in outing Plame. . . .

"[T]he commutation of Libby's sentence is a cover-up, pure and simple."

Marcy Wheeler blogs for the Guardian: "[T]he real effect of Bush's actions is to prevent Libby from revealing the truth about Bush's -- and vice president Cheney's -- own actions in the leak. By commuting Libby's sentence, Bush protected himself and his vice president from potential criminal exposure for their actions in the CIA Leak. As such, Libby's commutation is nothing short of another obstruction of justice.

Josh Marshall blogs: "The real offense here is not so much or not simply that the president has spared Scooter Libby the punishment that anyone else would have gotten for this crime (for what it's worth, I actually find the commutation more outrageous than a full pardon). The deeper offense is that the president has used his pardon power to shortcircuit the investigation of a crime to which he himself was quite likely a party, and to which, his vice president, who controls him, certainly was.

Joe Wilson on NPR: "Congress ought to conduct an investigation of whether or not the president himself is a participant in the obstruction of justice."

With all due respect, considering what Charles O. Jones wrote in your recent book about Mr. Bush’s governing style, the use of executive authority to cover-up and obstruct finding of wrongdoing is such a consistent and predictable facet of the modern CEO, it seems incredibly naïve to dismiss it without argument. Especially when considering the timing and the political danger of exposing everyone involved in the underlying crime – a White House conspiracy that exposed and destroyed an entire covert counter-proliferation operation in the CIA.

Sincerely,
[shep]

June 09, 2007

Still Not Getting It

by shep

Joe Klein asks:

"A reasonable reader might ask, Why are the left-wing bloggers attacking you? Aren't you pretty tough on the Bush Administration? Didn't you write a few months ago that George W. Bush would be remembered as one of the worst Presidents in history? And why on earth does any of this matter?”

Worse yet, he seems quite earnest in his confusion.

Joe, let me explain: your problem is the same as most beltway insiders, you see everything in terms of politics. I mean everything. No substance. No ethical or moral principle. Just plain political calculation.

Your world – and by that I mean your career and colleagues and the politicians and politics you cover – is all about the competition to win and succeed. Pretty soon, there’s just no room left to analyze the real substance and truth of things.

Liberals don’t give a rat’s ass whether you are sufficiently and reliably partisan. We just don’t think that way. That’s for politicians, media elites (elites of most stripes, really), conservatives and kids in middle school.

No matter how many times you say Bush sucks, the next time you write something false, lazy, stupid or biased, you’re going to get called on it. It matters to us because it is wrong. Hellooooo.

We aren't offended by bad politics, we are offended by bad conduct. That includes arrogant statements by “liberal” columnists that it must be simplistic, extreme apostasy that we should de-fund a disastrous, illegal and immoral occupation in the Middle East. Maybe it’s a really bad idea (Hint: No. One. Really. Knows) but right now the official policy options fall somewhere between a 50-year occupation littered with dead American soldiers and innocent Iraqis or nuking Iran. Tell us again what’s simplistic or extreme.

Sorry if you are offended by the “tone.”

BTW, I liked your takedown of Dick Armey’s libertarian dogma.

H/T: Digby

May 29, 2007

Political Science 101: It's All About “67+290”

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Let's stipulate that if the Democratic majority in Congress intends to introduce legislation to end the Iraq war in a meaningful, expeditious way, it will need to have 67 firm votes in the Senate and 290 firm votes in the House. That is the number of votes you need to be bullet-proof against any presidential veto.

Question: What kind of bill can get those numbers? Answer: We can only guess. But let's apply some political science to do a thought experiment and find some answers.

Look at the graph below:

write your own bill.bmp

Here's what the graph shows...

The vertical axis is the number of votes in the Senate; the horizontal axis is the content of the bill. Notice that the point on the left end of the horizontal axis represents the Feingold amendment; it got 29 votes. The right end of the horizontal axis represents the bill that Bush signed (and that everyone hated); it got 80 votes.

The good news? Somewhere between those two points is a bill, any bill, that might have gotten 67 votes without being a rubber-stamped blank check. The bad news? Congress is not a laboratory -- you can't move a slider switch left or right to calibrate the perfect bill.

That said, Jonathan Alter takes a crack at it:

I wish the Democrats had played tougher by including Rep. John Murtha's provision that any troops sent to Iraq would have to be better equipped. Bush privately promised to veto that, too, and they should have called his bluff. Vetoing a bill with no timelines, only a readiness requirement, might have been hard for the president, even if Murtha's amendment was, at bottom, a sly move to send fewer troops.
Fact is, with "67 + 290" votes in the bag, Bush can bluff til he's blue in the face.

P.S. Did the Dems fail on the first go round because, as Jane Hamsher put it, "the message machine is broken?" Maybe. Is our Iraq policy being determined, as Glenn Greenwald says, "by a complete myth?" Maybe.

Did we -- you and I -- fail to convince the public that de-funding the war would NOT put the troops in jeopardy? Yes. Or maybe it is an impossible task given the time we have to work with.

I do know that more than one liberal commentator (I'm talking to you, Keith Olbermann) used the Republicans' very language to make the Democratic case -- thereby flunking the task miserably:

[Y]ou, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don’t give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands.
Cute -- but ultimately not helpful, to say the least. Doesn't KO know that you never, never, NEVER use your opponent's language and frames to make your own case?

So shuffle the deck and deal again. But remember: it's all about the number of votes you can get for your bill. And you need to start with 67 in the Senate and 290 in the House.

May 28, 2007

The War Prayer

"The War Prayer," a short story or prose poem by Mark Twain, is a scathing indictment of war, and particularly of blind patriotic and religious fervor as motivations for war.

The piece was left unpublished by Mark Twain at his death, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that the story would be considered sacrilegious. Twain's publisher and other friends also discouraged him from publishing it. Twain instructed for it to be published after his death, however, and is said to have quipped "I don't think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth."

May 27, 2007

Who Decides When A Vote Is Meaningful Or Not?

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Which votes are meaningless and which (if any) make a difference? And who decides that anyway?

On one hand, you have the recent toothless war supplemental bill that lacked any kind of timeline and contained consequence-free benchmarks. Everyone knows it was a shocking, rubber-stamped, blank check that would not change the course of the war. Nothing good was accomplished by its passage. As a result, our troops will keep dying.

And, it's safe to say, everyone knew it would pass. As a result, many voted against it knowing they would get the best of both worlds with their vote (I'm talking to you, Speaker Pelosi). Cynical or not? Whatever you think, this kind of posturing is nothing new.

Either way, the war drags on and our troops continue to die in vain.

On the other hand, you had the Feingold amendment that called for a firm withdrawal date. It got 29 votes. But, again, the outcome was a sure thing -- everyone knew it would lose. So it's safe to say that many voted for it knowing that they would get the best of both worlds with their vote.

So I have a similar question for those who voted for it -- was it really a meaningful vote if you knew nothing would be accomplished by it? Like the other vote, was it really just all about "going on the record?" And if so, isn't that also just political posturing of the worst kind -- especially if our troops keep dying while you do it?

Yes, you could simply do nothing after Bush's veto -- technically, that would end the funding of the war. But since when is doing nothing really an option? Edmund Burke said that evil triumphs when good men do nothing. How would that not apply here? I suspect doing nothing would have simply engendered more finger-pointing and blame-casting, not clarity. Meanwhile our troops would keep dying.

So curse me if you like -- call me an incrementalist. But I'd rather see one-quarter inch of forward progress at a time instead of what we have now which is a lot of bullsh-t political posturing in advance of the 2008 elections.

Not only that: I'll bet most people in the real world are like me -- if they haven't already written both parties off as hopeless.

P.S. Isn't this why Congressmen rarely get elected President?

May 25, 2007

Obama: “That's the truth in Iraq.” (Updated)

Sen. Obama:

I know the toll of this war. And what I know is, what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric; they deserve a new plan.

Gov. Romney and Sen. McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working. I do not.

And if there was ever a reflection of that, it is the fact that Sen. McCain required a flak jacket, ten armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, a hundred soldiers with rifles by his side, so he could stroll through the market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago for a photo-op.

That's the truth in Iraq.

UPDATE: ...to which a McCain aide replied (paraphrasing): "Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong."

...to which Bill Maher replied: "In case you don't know, an RPG is a rocket-propelled grenade and a bong is what McCain uses when he describes how well things are going in Iraq."

Date Certain: Wake Me Up When September Ends

So Obama and Clinton voted against the Iraq war supplemental, as did Pelosi.

But not Murtha:

Patience has run out and I feel a change in direction happening within the chambers of Congress. While we don't have the votes right now to change the president's policy, I believe that come September we will have the votes from both Democrats and Republicans to change policy and direction.

In September, General Petraeus will report back on the progress of the surge, and Congress will take up both the $460 billion base defense appropriations bill and the $141 billion Iraq supplemental.

The surge is not producing the results that were promised. And, based on my discussions with Iraqi Government officials, I don't believe they have the motivation to bring about the political and economic benchmarks agreed to. This is why September will be key.

Well. He's not the first guy to point this out, but much of the netroots has missed it.

The only question remains: are we, in fact, on the cusp of another "Tet Offensive," i.e., an exponential rise in the perceived level of violence between now and September that finally tips the Congressional scales against the president's policy?

In other words, isn't September (in fact) the "date certain" that the president fears so much -- and isn't he (in fact) the one who set it?

Isn't it logical -- and ironic -- that the enemy is simply crossing the days off the calendar until then?

May 24, 2007

Cave-In Or Smart Politics?

It would be instructive, at this point, to stop and examine how the Democrats got here.

First of all, at the risk of insulting your intelligence by restating the bleeding obvious let's stipulate that the people do not make policy. We -- the people -- elect representatives who do that. So when you hear that the people want the Iraq occupation to end yesterday, their representatives have to make their own individual calculation, namely this: What do my individual constituents want? And what will I have give up to give them that?

For example...let's say (for the sake of discussion) that 61% of the electorate is against the war. But as Michael Tomasky points out, the number 61 also holds significance in another context:

That's the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives who represent districts that Bush carried in 2004 (by contrast, only eight Republicans represent districts that John Kerry won). Many of these 61 are scared to death that they could lose their seats in 2008, and with good reason - the Republicans are targeting them and are intent on winning the 15 seats they need to regain control of the House.

De-funding the war would - there's no escaping it - put some of those 61 at risk. If you're thinking long term and you want a congress that might actually do responsible things about healthcare and global warming and even Iraq in the future, then now just isn't the time for the Democrats to force this issue.

So each Democrat has to ask himself: how bad do I want my seat? And what am I willing to give up to keep it?

It's not pretty; it's not lofty; it's not inspiring -- especially if you are a member of a military family who wants your loved ones home.

It just is what it is. And if this all comes as a shock to you, well frankly, you should be paying closer attention to how our system works.

Can you vote them out of office? Sure -- I'm pretty certain that the Greens or the Libertarians would love to have your vote. And you'd have the satisfaction of having voted with conscience.

But at the end of the day, would we be any closer to having ended the occupation? No.

Of course you might be thinking, "But in the future, these guys would think twice about doing this crap again."

But sadly, my friend, the future is now.

“When the disembodied voice on C-SPAN calls you pussies...”

"...you're probably pussies."

How bad was the Iraq funding compromise for the Democrats? This bad:

Odds & Sods #35: Neville Chamberlain Edition

  • If I'm Harry Reid, I guess I can always take some solace (as Reagan did) in the fact that I'm getting fire from both ends of the political spectrum. I mean come on! -- when was the last time a politician was accused by both Sean Hannity AND Keith Olbermann of being the second coming of Neville Chamberlain?

  • Note to Keith Olbermann: I love you, dude, but enough with the Chamberlain references -- first Bush, now Reid? WTF?

  • Is there anything more entertaining than reading Brian Williams write about The Sopranos on Slate magazine?

  • Well, even my presence in Bothell, WA this week couldn't help Blake Lewis -- so Jordin Sparks becomes the new American Idol. I guess it's no surprise: how many Melinda Dolittle posters were going to get sold anyway?

  • And speaking of the Democrats (and the netroots), I'm with Kos:
    The conservative movement spent three decades building up their machine and completing the takeover of their party. And some of you want to quit after one setback?

    That's embarrassing.

    Buck up. We still haven't completely lost this Iraq supplemental battle. And if we do, instead of crying and taking your ball home, resolve to fight even harder. We owe it to our troops in Iraq, to our families, to our neighbors, to ourselves.

    I have served for many years on the boards of several organizations and the politics at that level are apparently the same as the politics at the highest levels -- the stakes are just different. It's all about what you want to get done and how you work with (and against) people to get there. It's about having the votes to pass your motion, it's about building alliances (some temporary, some not) it's about winning and losing -- and surviving to fight another day. To me it's exciting but to others it's exhausting. To some it's personal, to others it's just business. So when I see what's happening with the Iraq supplemental bill, I'm not turned off -- I just see another opportunity to fight -- again, perhaps another day -- for what I believe in.

May 23, 2007

Maybe It Won't Pass...

by Mark Adams

In a time when our President is identified merely by one initial, "W," and the spine of the congressional Democratic leadership cannot be identified at all, I yearn for the days when 3-initial Democrats, FDR, JFK, even LBJ and the promise of RFK were something quite different than the breed in attendance today.

Democrats with Balls.

I, like so many on the left -- some far left, others only moderately so -- and even those wandering in the middle cannot express their reaction to the "Capitulation Bill" without using the word, "disappointment." Even that word hardly seems to capture the proper emotion.

I've seen weak displays of rhetorical tricks masking the inability to follow one's convictions before; swallowing principles to pursue the practical, pragmatic politics of the day. But what we witnessed yesterday with the cave-in by the Democratic leadership giving Bush yet another blank check for his Iraq war was nothing short of pathetic.

The most egregious example came from Speaker Pelosi herself, indicating that she probably would not vote for a bill she is actively helping to get to the floor. Could there be a more cravenly cowardly stance? Explain how this is not the height of hypocricy.

The oft quoted maxim by Margaret Mead advising us never to underestimate the power of a small group of dedicated people's ability to change the world because that's the only thing that ever has, neglects to consider the sheer stupidity of those people when they've been in elected office too long.

The only thing that gives me some solace is that the candidate I've been supporting for President came out on the right side of this issue, and so many others in the way he urges us to look at our foreign policy and reject the GOP framing.

The only way to beat them is to stand our ground and not give an inch. That's what John Edwards did today.

Today, he went to the heart of America's foreign policy establishment and called out the Bush crowd for their misuse of patriotism. He had the guts to say what all of us know—that the Bush Terror Doctrine has failed our troops and failed America by straining our military to the breaking point and sowing chaos around the world.

John Edwards offered a clear plan to rebuild our forces and cure the damage inflicted on our military by Bush's policies. He offered a vision of an America where moral leadership is once again the rule, and where we are stronger and more secure because of it.

John Edwards' principled stand remains strong and righteous. I've no doubt that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face a difficult choice -- one far harder than voting for cloture on the Feingold defunding bill when they knew it would likely fail.

Their choice, however, should not be that difficult -- if they really meant they way they voted on Feingold-Reid. We shall indeed see if they will put their money (rather, our money) where their mouths are. So far, their silence is deafening, and as you know, "silence is betrayal."

UPDATE: Chris Dodd is going to vote no on the Capitulation Bill, putting more pressure on Obama and Clinton -- and giving hope to those of us who still hold out hope...and want action.


UPDATE II: Kerry says NO too.

"An Iraq Bill Without a Deadline is Meaningless"

"We support the troops by getting the policy right and this bill allows the President to keep getting the policy wrong. We need a deadline to force Iraqis to stand up for Iraq and bring our heroes home, not watered down benchmarks and blank check waivers for this President. We support the troops by funding the right mission, not with a White House that opposes a pay raise for our brave men and women in uniform," Kerry said. "The original Senate legislation offered a roadmap to change course in Iraq. This new version enables the Administration and Iraqi politicians to deliver more of the same. I am determined to continue pressing this issue until President Bush changes course. We owe our troops nothing less than a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifice."
Call, make some noise. Be heard. Don't let this one go down without a fight.

Highest Gas Prices...Ever

It's official:

Gasoline prices have soared to levels never seen before as even the inflation-adjusted price for a gallon of unleaded topped the 1981 record spike in price that had stood for 26 years.
See kids: Iraq can't be a war for oil -- otherwise the price would have gone down!

I feel so much better now.

May 20, 2007

Contractor Deaths in Iraq Soar to Record

I'm going to tell you something you don't know:

[T]he total number of contractors killed in Iraq [is] at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews.

The numbers, which have not been previously reported, disclose the extent to which contractors — Americans, Iraqis and workers from more than three dozen other countries — are largely hidden casualties of the war, and now are facing increased risks alongside American soldiers and marines as President Bush’s plan to increase troop levels in Baghdad takes hold. ...

BTW, the term "contractor" can refer to anyone from a truck driver to a soldier of fortune..and anyone in between. I don't know how much privatization there was in previous US wars, but this sounds new -- and especially deadly -- to me.

May 18, 2007

Send It Back

by Mark Adams

For reasons I neither appreciate, approve of, nor care to understand, impeachment is still off the table.

(Okay, it's a numbers thing, and we lose, I know.)

So, what do you do when Bush, Inc. insists on their war in perpetuity, and laughs at the Democrats' pitiful effort to impose benchmarks he can and will ignore, and timetables we know he will never honor.

Atrios says send the little punk in the Oval Office the exact same funding bill he vetoed the last time, again and again. If he want's to defund the troops, so be it.

So does MarKOS.

Joe Biden approved of the idea last week.

How about you? Do you you agree with this statement?

“The American people gave Congress a mission to end the war - not a mission to accept meaningless benchmarks or endless temporary extensions. There is only one way to stop the president - Congress should use its funding authority to end the war. Congress passed a plan to support our troops and bring them home, and they should do it again. And if the president vetoes it - if he vetoes any bill that supports our troops but sets conditions - then he alone is standing in the way of what our troops need.”

Continue reading "Send It Back" »

May 15, 2007

Bush Taps New 'War Czar'

Look everybody -- the buck finally stops over there:

After a frustrating search for a new "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News has learned that President Bush has chosen the Pentagon's director of operations, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, for the role.

In the newly created position of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, Lute would have the power to direct the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies involved in the two conflicts.

Excuse me for asking, but isn't this why we have a National Security Advisor?
Lute would report directly to the president and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
...freeing up Hadley to...to...just what exactly does Stephen Hadley do again?
Filling the position had become a priority for the White House, after a handful of retired generals told the White House they did not want the job.
They turned down the Commander in Chief? Is that how far we've come now?

Among them, retired Marine Corps four-star Gen. Jack Sheehan, who proved an embarrassment to the White House after he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post saying there were "huge shortcomings" in the White House view of the strategy in Iraq.

"What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration," wrote Sheehan, "is that there is no agreed upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region."

In other words, we have no idea where we're going but we're making really good time.

Lute must gain congressional approval before he can assume the position.
...which is right next to Alberto Gonzalez, George Tenet and Harriet Miers.

May 11, 2007

Criminal Revisionists

by shep

In a May 4 op-ed aptly titled Rewriting History, Charles Krauthammer claims that President Bush’s public position was that the WMD and terrorist threats posed by Iraq were not imminent. To support this ridiculous assertion, Mr. Krauthammer points to a single line from the president’s 2003 State of the Union speech, which took place after more than a year of alarmist rhetoric from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials, clearly designed to convince the public that Saddam Hussein’s regime posed a dire and imminent threat.

Nevertheless, those who always doubted that Iraq posed such a threat were still left to wonder why we had to force busy UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq so we could rush to war in March of 2003. Why did we have to invade and occupy Iraq without the full support of the UN and all of our NATO allies, along with a significant number of Arab nations, similar to what George H. W. Bush managed to assemble for the Gulf War?

It is quite likely that our poor justification in international law, weak “coalition of the willing” and lack of Muslim Arab participation in this endeavor played a fundamental role in its tragic failure.

Obviously, the main reason behind this poorly planned and supported rush to war in the spring of 2003, was for the possible benefit to George Bush and other Republicans in the 2004 elections (Heckuva job, Rovie!).

Today, another of the founding neocon blackguards continued their miserable attempt to whitewash the fact that they are 100% responsible for taking the country into a disastrous, illegal war in Iraq, by trying to pin the blame on George Tenet. Say what you will about Tenet’s cowardice and self-seeking, Richard Perle’s balls should turn black and fall off for this outrageous blame-shifting:

“George Tenet and, more important, our premier intelligence organization managed to find weapons of mass destruction that did not exist while failing to find links to terrorists that did -- all while missing completely the rise of Islamist fundamentalism.”

Leaving aside the fact that it was chiefly the neocons and their Iraqi National Congress co-conspirators who created most of the bullshit about both Iraqi WMDs and supposed “links to terrorists,” what about “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”, did anyone else miss? As Richard Clarke and others have documented, while al Qaeda operatives finished their preparations to fly loaded airliners into the twin towers, Bush and the neocons were too busy planning their war for oil and hegemony in the Middle East to lift a finger to try to stop them, even as the Clarke and the CIA warned them that the threat was imminent.

It was the neoconservative bastards who ignored the Wahhabist threat until it was too late, took the country into disaster based on lies, and facilitated the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and thousands of US soldiers - so far. Tell me again why they are given a prominent voice in our public media, rather than an 8 x 10’ cell.

May 08, 2007

Odds & Sods #34: Detroit Edition

  • Barack Obama criticizes (Detroit) automakers on fuel economy. I would have liked to have seen him knock the unions, too, because they bellyache as much as anyone when the topic of fuel economy comes up. Bottom line: Detroit is reaping what it sowed.

  • Hey -- is everything seen through the prism of Detroit vs. Chicago? If so, the Pistons scored a big one for the Motor City, kicking the Bulls' ass again -- by over 20 points -- to go up 2-0 in the second round of the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs. Hey Obama -- can you play point guard?

  • Certain Europen governments have floated the idea that they'll let the US pick the next World Bank president -- but only if Wolfie leaves right now. Congrats, Bushies: another loss of world prestige on your watch.

  • $3.23: That's the highest-ever price per gallon of gas, corrected for inflation. It dates back to the oil-embargo years, the energy-shock, gas lines around the block, Carter years of the 70's. I mention it now because gas prices are higher than ever. And (coincidentally?) Bush's approval ratings are in Carter territory.

  • Does Romney believe in evolution or not? Inquiring religious fundamentalist zealots want to know. The rest of us? We just want to know...

  • ...Is Romney really just a science fiction fanboy with a great haircut and $2500 suit? Recently, Mitt claimed that the French engage in 7-year marriages with an option to renew or move on at the end of the contract. Turns out he read that in a science fiction novel. By a fellow Mormon. About Mormonism in space. And this, after saying his favorite book was Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. Wonder what Ann Coulter is thinking now?

  • Has the Republican caucus really given Bush a do-or-die deadline of September -- or else they walk away from Bush on Iraq? Color me skeptical.

May 04, 2007

No Democrat Started The War

by Mark Adams
Cross-posted. Also in Blue and Orange.

Let me be clear on one thing. Every single Democratic presidential candidate condemns the Bush Administration for its disastrous fiscal, domestic and foreign policies. Every single one knows Bush is a joke when he pretends to be the least bit competent on anything whatsoever. They understand that "compassionate conservativism" is a fraud. They all realize that the next president, who will undoubtedly be a Democratic president, faces a monumental task rehabilitating our nation's reputation in the world and economic and social rifts at home.

Nobody gets a cookie for being the "most" unlike Bush. Everybody will do their best to correct the disastrous course of our ship of state.

All of them.

Continue reading "No Democrat Started The War" »

May 03, 2007

Why Bush Lost The Iraq War

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

Recently, while browsing another blog's comment thread I was brought up short when I came upon this statement:

It’s still unclear where the main source of our problem in Iraq lies.
Gosh, where do we start?

But let's cut the snark and try to answer the man's question. Because until we can do that, not only will we have lost the Iraq war, we will have embarked on a path that will lead to one disastrous war after another, being bled dry by "leaders" who want one thing only: ultimate power.

Continue reading "Why Bush Lost The Iraq War" »

May 02, 2007

Veto's In: What The Dems Should Do Next

(cross posted at Daily Kos -- with poll)

OK, first things first: I was wrong.

Moving on...Chris Weigant wrote an open letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi detailing what the Dems should do now that Bush has vetoed the bill. In brief, here's what he says:

  1. Lose the pork.
    Any Dem who bolts will be known to have only been for the pork in the first place -- not a great position to take right now.

  2. Leave in the money for veterans' benefits.
    Let Bush complain about that all he wants -- this is our way of respecting the troops.

  3. Lose the timetable.
    Sorry -- if he didn't OK it this time (when he could have easily issued a signing statement taking the money and ignoring the deadlines), he'll never go for it. Besides, the American people will be the final judge of when it's time to come out (see below). I don't think they'll blame the Dems for not trying.

  4. Leave in the benchmarks -- but take out the consequences.
    You don't need any consequences written into the bill -- because the American people will provide all the consequences the Dems want or need.

    Check it out: Bush said, "When the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." Well, it's clear now (and the American people know it too) that the Iraqis aren't going to stand up anytime soon; they're too busy killing each other (or letting the government go on a two-month vacation). So leave in the benchmarks and let the electorate provide the only consequence that matters -- a massive electoral defeat for the Republican party in '08. By this time next year, the Republicans will be facing an exile from power that will last for a generation or more. What better consequence could the Dems ask for?

  5. Leave in the standards for troop-readiness.
    Again: this is how we respect the troops. And the Republicans? I'll leave it to sell the idea that, "you go with the Army you have, not the Army you'd like to have."
I'm sure this will infuriate those Dems who want to withhold all funding immediately -- after all, that is strongest position they can take. But here's the thing: it isn't the position that will get the most votes. In fact, it isn't even the position favored by the American electorate. So Dems have to look at what is possible. Remember, they passed the vetoed bill with 10 votes to spare in the House and 5 in the Senate. A stronger bill isn't going to pass.

Nor is a weaker one.

The scenario Weigant talks about is the most realistic one I've seen yet that stands a chance of passage -- while putting the Dems on the right side of the issue morally and politically.

You have to move the ball forward, even if it is just by inches at a time.

Iraq Reality Check

by shep

Reality check #1: there is no one to “surrender” to in Iraq, so you mendacious Republican traitors who claim that getting our soldiers out of being target dummies in a low-level civil war between native Sunnis and Shiites is tantamount to surrender, please let me know where I can meet you to beat some f*cking sense into you (or beat you to death, as necessary, as a service to our country).

Reality check #2: we are not leaving Iraq in most of our lifetimes. Even the most hysterically opposed Democratic “withdrawal” funding legislation calls for us to maintain action against al Qaeda, which, by itself, will fulfill the basic wet dreams of the neocons for American troops to occupy Iraqi bases for at least a generation.

Reality check #3: regardless of what legislation is passed, we will have no choice, morally or practically, other than to react to what happens on the ground. That means intervening militarily against: 1) systematic terrorism against civilians, 2) ethnic cleansing, or 3) open warfare that threatens access to Iraqi oil or to spill over to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, or, all of the above.

Reality check #4: there is no “war” to be “won” in Iraq. It’s about damage control. Some grownups will have to step forward and start to explain to the American people what our new mission is, what strategies have the greatest likelihood of keeping it from becoming the end of civilization as we have known it, and what we should expect the cost of those strategies to be.

We know that Republicans won’t be those leaders; they are literally insane. Unless Democrats start to ignore Republicans frames and go straight to the reality-based truth, we have no hope of building a rational, publicly supported Iraq policy.

While I agree that Congress should use threatened pullouts to tell the Iraqis that we will not continue the status quo and should also force us to end our current occupation strategy, the current “in to win” or “withdraw our troops” policy debate is, quite simply, simplistic and stupid.

April 26, 2007

General Petraeus Is A Tool -- And He Knows It

Admit it -- you've heard it time and again: "General Petraeus literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency." Problem is, the Bushies haven't read it.

Arianna:

[Petraeus'] newly-minted counterinsurgency approach calls for a ratio of 25 soldiers per 1,000 residents -- which would require 120,000 soldiers to provide the proper security for Baghdad, and roughly three times that amount for all of Iraq.

But let's just focus on the 120,000 soldiers that, according to the manual written by Petraeus -- "the expert on counterinsurgency," remember? -- are needed to secure Baghdad.

Simply put: we're not even close to that number. And never will be. Even after all of the planned 21,500 additional troops are sent to the embattled capitol, there will still only be 85,000 security forces there -- and that includes significant numbers of Iraqi security forces, whose readiness and loyalty have repeatedly proven to be unreliable at best...

Petraeus' manual also says that a muscular military presence is just 20 percent of what is needed for a counterinsurgency effort to succeed -- the other 80 consists of establishing political and economic reform, two areas in which the United States is also failing miserably.

This is a pretty devastating analysis -- and one that almost anyone should be able to deduce from the available facts. That we're not hearing it from the traditional media nor from the administration, the fact that the same old gasbag pundits are telling us to wait and see until September -- well, no matter. The American people aren't being fooled. They agree with Harry Reid: victory is not an option and our continued occupation of Iraq is simply bleeding us dry.

Gen. Petraeus can't change that -- and he should be ashamed of himself for selling out to an administration that is using him to prop itself up.

April 25, 2007

Rudy Pulls A "Dick" (Updated)

Rudy.bmp

MANCHESTER, N.H. —- Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

This is the worst kind of fear-mongering and Giuliani should be ashamed of himself.
cheney.jpgBut if he really wants that kind of debate then let the record show that America has already sustained nearly 50 thousand casualties in the various wars and terrorist attacks that have occured on Republican President Bush's watch.

Update: John Edwards nails it:

"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."

Bravo, Mr. Edwards.

April 20, 2007

Iraq War Funding Bill: With or Without Deadlines?

Looks like the House will compromise with the Senate by making the deadlines non-binding:

Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, a freshman Democrat who represents a district strongly opposed to the war, said lending his support to a bill that funds the war without setting a firm end date will be difficult. On the other hand, he added, Democrats might be in a tougher spot if they can't pull the caucus together long enough to act against Bush.

"We have to look at the political realities of being the party that's in control, and prove to the American people we can govern," he said.

Forward movement toward a worthy goal. That's what I would call success, albeit modest.
With Senate leaders nervous the final bill would fail if it included a firm deadline, aides said Democrats were leaning toward accepting the Senate's nonbinding goal. The compromise bill also is expected to retain House provisions preventing military units from being worn out by excessive combat deployments; however, the president could waive these standards if he states so publicly.

On Thursday, Pelosi, D-Calif., summoned Woolsey, Lee, Waters and several other of the party's more liberals members to her office to discuss the issue. According to aides and members, concerns were expressed but there were no loud objections to a conference bill that would adopt the Senate's nonbinding goal.

Watson said she would personally oppose the final bill, as she did last month, but would not stand in Pelosi's way if the speaker agrees to the Senate version.

"It's still a timeline," she said. "We're not backing down from that."

I'm sticking with my original assessment that (regardless of what he says now) Bush will sign the bill that Congress puts on his desk. I had said that he'd take the money and ignore the deadlines (via a signing statement). Now that the deadlines look more and more like they'll be non-binding...well, you do the math.

April 17, 2007

Bush marks ‘day of sadness’ for the nation; Iraq war families still waiting for similar tribute

So here's the thing: Bush traveled to Virginia to comfort the families of the victims killed in yesterday's shooting. But in the 4+ years of the Iraq war, has he attended one single funeral or similar tribute to our fallen fighting men and women? Nope.

Ever wonder why?

April 16, 2007

The Under (Message) Control Press

by shep

I hate to beat a dead horse (but I just had to use that metaphor to describe the rotted corpse of what was once our adversarial press) and it may be obvious to many that calling the media “liberal” is absurd as long as it fails to reveal the truth or speak truth to power.

But this Sunday offered yet another journalistic horror show of worthless he-said, she-saids, framed by soft-spoken center-left Democrats such as Carl Levin and Bill Richardson on one side and mendacious idiots such as John Kyle, bombastic assh*les such as Lindsey Graham and, not to mention, the psychopathic, megalomaniac Dick Cheney on the other.

Although a target-rich environment, let’s focus on just a couple of the major Republican lies that go continuously unchallenged by our pampered press poodles. Here’s icky Dick explaining why the Democrats are going to give him and the idiot king a blank check for an open-ended occupation in the middle of a bloody civil war – against the expressed will of the American public:

"I don't think that the majority of the Democrats in Congress want to leave America's fighting forces in harm's way without the resources they need to defend themselves."

Now an adversarial press interviewer, rather than one committed, above all, to another chance to interview our monstrous vice president at a later date (yes I mean you Bob), might challenge this frame thusly:

"But aren’t the Democrats proposing to get the troops out of harm’s way altogether and isn’t the administration’s policy to keep them there indefinitely?"

See, it not that hard. Even for a guy who isn’t paid ridiculous sums of money to interview the powerful for living.

Graham repeats the same lie in his Mike Wallace interview opposite Carle Levin. Then he adds this bit of inane, lying spin when Wallace forcefully questions him about the lack of political progress in Iraq:

"My point is that it took us 13 years to write our Constitution. Then we had our own civil war. Political reconciliation is moving forward.

Allrightythen. Let’s see how a liberal, truth-loving interviewer might handle that stupid analogy (they might simply say, “that’s a stupid analogy,” but that might seem “uncivil”):

“What does the development of democracy in America in the 1700s have to do with the situation in Iraq?”

or

“The writing of our Constitution and the American civil war were separated by more than 100 years; are you suggesting that is analogous to what is happening in Iraq?"

or

“But Senator, we didn’t have to write our Constitution in the middle of a civil war, while occupied by foreign troops.”

and

“If this is what political reconciliation looks like, how will we ever tell when it’s time to leave?”

So now you know why people who watch liberal fake news, know more than people watching Face the Nation and way more than those who watch Fox.

April 15, 2007

Record of Iraq War Lies to Air April 25 on PBS

Bill Moyers is ready to let 'er rip:

Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I've watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you'll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.
Bill Moyers is a national treasure. He, alone among anyone in the news business, has always said that the job of an independent press is to keep an eye on government. You'd think that there would be general agreement from everyone on all ends of the political spectrum, but sadly -- no. This is mainly because there are fewer and fewer sources of independent thought and reportage as bigger and bigger corporations buy up news outlets left and right. What's left is an uncomfortable partnership between government and business with business holding the upper hand. Mussolini called this fascism and he liked it. I call it bullshit and I thank god for the Internet.

Don't miss Moyers' presentation. Pass this along to everyone you know.

McCain Declares Defeat

by shep

From every public rationale: the UN resolution upon which our entire Iraq policy is predicated, the congressional authorization which provides all legal justification under US law, and the rationale upon which all original public support for invading Iraq was established, our mission in Iraq is complete. And it has been completely successful relative to those goals:

1) elimination of Iraq’s WMD program and any threat thereof,

2) punishment and/or removal of the Hussein regime as a consequence of its lawlessness,

3) and institution of a democratic constitution and institutions for the Iraqi state.

By what legal or moral justification does John McCain declare that our victorious exit from Iraq constitutes defeat?

Why does John McCain hate America?

April 11, 2007

Delegator-in-Chief

by shep

"Congress should not tell generals how to run the war."
--George Bush, April 3, 2007


"The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation."
-- The Washington Post, April 11, 2007


Now see, I thought Bush was saying that no one should "micromanage our military commanders" in the field but, apparently, IOKIYAR.


Um, no, it’s definitely not OK.

April 09, 2007

The DLC Doesn't Lead

by Mark Adams

They should be renamed, because they are the Democratic Party's leading compromisers and capitulators.

I'd like you to read something, and see if you agree that the official party-within-a-party-line of the Democratic Leadership Council is no better than President Bush when he says his sworn duty is to protect the American people -- when it actually is his sworn duty to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Normally, we would be skeptical of attempts by Congress to write war strategy into law -- as opposed to exercising its Constitutional duties to declare and finance wars.
The United States Congress has not declared war since WWII. Moreover, there is no obligation for Congress to fund a war it's membership no longer supports. These are legislative prerogatives, but certainly not their duty. Besides, this really isn't a war.

However, the DLC throws this framing into their argument to give George Bush exactly what he want's, a "clean" supplemental spending bill. Their "plan" is to (1) cave into Bush on funding after he vetoes the conditional bills, complete with their timetables, then (2) take a look at whether the surge escalation is working, and finally (3) to call for a diplomatic strategy.

(Cross-Posted and KOS-Posted)

Continue reading "The DLC Doesn't Lead" »

Social Science for Dummies

by shep

Shankar Vedantam does a regular drive-by social science column for the WaPo, called “Department of Human Behavior.” In this week’s episode, as in many past columns, Mr. Vedantum shows us some interesting facet of human behavior and psychology that, in the end, manages to absolve the Bush Administration for its inhuman behavior and psychology.

Vedantum tells us that, “[t]he political scientist [Columbia University’s Richard Jervis], who counts himself as a critic of the Bush administration [bitchin' bona fides, eh?] said a focus on this historical analogy [Iraq’s successful concealment of its pre-Gulf war WMD program] – not political pressures from the White House (emphasis added) – played the central role in the intelligence failure.”

Gosh, I’m no “scholar” at Columbia but I’ve been awake for the last four years and I can google:

cheney pressured CIA intelligence iraq

Low and behold, the first two links are from Vedantum’s own WaPo:

Government sources said CIA analysts were not the only ones who felt pressure from their superiors to support public statements by Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and others about the threat posed by Hussein.

Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Feith, and less so from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent.

About a week later, the Post’s Walter Pincus (a profile in journalism whom his colleagues would do well to emulate), again documents Cheney administration treason:

Senior intelligence analysts say they feel caught between the demands from the White House, Pentagon and other government policymakers for intelligence that would make the administration's case and what they say is 'a lack of hard facts.'

And I believe that the Post and a few others did a little reporting on some sort of dust-up around something called “the sixteen words”:

Beginning in October, the CIA warned the administration not to use the Niger claim in public. CIA Director George J. Tenet personally persuaded deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley to omit it from President Bush's Oct. 7 speech in Cincinnati about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

But on the eve of Bush's Jan. 28 State of the Union address, Robert Joseph, an assistant to the president in charge of nonproliferation at the National Security Council (NSC), initially asked the CIA if the allegation that Iraq sought to purchase 500 pounds of uranium from Niger could be included in the presidential speech.

Well, just as long as incessant White House pressure in the form of repeated visits and calls from the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State, setting up a parallel, fake intelligence office to compete with the CIA, and White House push-back against CIA warnings about discredited “mushroom cloud” claims, didn’t play the central role in taking the country into a disastrous war, based on a pack of lies.

April 07, 2007

Dear Mark Shields...

by shep

Regarding your recent appearance on the News Hour, opposite Rich Lowry, I have a few suggestions:

When Mr. Lowry claims that Senator Reid’s Iraq appropriations legislation is being driven by the “left-wing,” the correct response is as follows:

“It is the president’s position that is the extreme one; only around 30% of Americans favor Bush’s approach in Iraq.”

(or the reverse):

“Nearly 60% of Americans favor a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, so it’s hardly the left-wing position.”

When Mr. Lowry complains that Bush didn’t expand the military after 9/11, it would be useful to point out that we didn’t need a bigger army to go after al Qaeda. The only reason the Army and National Guard are nearly broken is because the president chose to invade and occupy Iraq instead.

One more thing, Speaker Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East will only be widely seen as a political mistake if pundits ostensibly representing the more liberal viewpoint say it is.

I know that practically no mainstream news source puts an actual Democratic partisan opposite the rabid Republican ones but please do try to at least point out the obvious and not give undue cover to White House talking points.

Perhaps it was because you have a cold. Get well soon.

Sincerely,
[shep]

April 05, 2007

Why Bush Won't Veto The Iraq War Supplemental

(cross posted at Daily Kos)

MSNBC asks: Are vetoes the key to a Bush recovery? The simple answer is "no" because I don't think he'll veto the Iraq spending bill.

Before I tell you why, let's look at some background...

A defining moment of Clinton’s presidency was Oct. 19, 1995 when he threw down the gauntlet to House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. “I will not let you destroy Medicare and I will veto this bill,” Clinton said referring to GOP legislation curbing the future growth of Medicare spending.

The standoff between Republican leaders and Clinton led to the government shutdown at the end of 1995. Clinton won the perception battle on Medicare and it helped him win a second term.

Looking back on it, the differences are stark: Medicare was hugely popular. The Iraq war? Uh...not so much.

“You guys took extraordinary advantage, very correctly so, of demonizing us,” Dole’s advisor Sheila Burke told Clinton strategist George Stephanopoulos during a 1996 campaign post-mortem at Harvard University. “We essentially lost the public relations war early in December (1995).”
The time for demonizing is over. My hunch is that Bush has gone to the well one time too many to be able to convince the public that the Democrats are dangerously crazy. As Bill Clinton would have said: "That dog don't hunt."

Speaking of the Clintons, Bush might be able to prevail -- by being a divider and not a uniter:

Bush’s veto threat may pay some dividends in that he’s splitting the Democratic ranks. While Obama sounds resigned to Bush winning on the veto, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton said Tuesday, “This is vetoing the will of the American people.” She added that “I’m not ready to concede” that Bush will ultimately make his veto stick.
I think Obama made a rookie mistake in saying what he said (whether or not it's what he meant). Hillary was much more on point.

As for other threatened vetoes (stem cells, discounted pharmaceuticals, labor unions) -- at this point, who cares? We're into the primary season already and these are all political theater. The Democrats will nationalize these issues on the way to the general election.

One lesson some members of Congress drew from last November’s election was that that the public was fed up with partisan discord. If that’s true, would a veto antagonize a public tired of confrontation?
In a word: no.

The public is already onboard with Congress. Everyone is tired of this endless occupation and they'll see Congress as being more than generous in giving Bush his war funding -- but with a redefinition of the mission.

So here's what happens next:

If Bush is smart, he'll sign the bill and then ignore the part about withdrawal timelines -- you know, with one of his infamous (and ubiquitous) signing statements. By the time it winds through the courts, Bush will be nearly at the end of his term. His legacy "secure," Bush will leave office -- but not before screwing the Republican candidate for president.

End result: Democrats add to their lead in Congress and also take the White House. But Bush will have accomplished one thing that he wanted: it'll be someone else who has to end the war, not him.

April 04, 2007

Grover Gets It:

by shep

“The base isn't interested in Iraq. The base is for Bush. If Bush said tomorrow, we're leaving in two months, there would be no revolt.”

No great moral imperative. No existential threat from the islamofascistterroristassholes. No moral commitment to the country and peoples we set aflame. Just more innocent souls on the pyre for the pure sake of fealty to The Leader.

And here’s another terrific peek into the mind of the authoritarian follower:

“In retrospect, some of his comments and interaction – that at the time seemed edgy but innocent enough – now seem questionable.”

You see, when Ted Haggard was the authority figure of the New Life Church, and said, “evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group,” and “pulled aside two men from his congregation and asked how often their wives had orgasms,” he seemed “innocent enough.” Once he was demoted and disgraced those same comments “seem questionable,” to those same (now former) followers who previously thought they seemed "innocent."

The need for the authority dictates the positive perception of everything from correct professional conduct to appropriate personal behavior, regardless of what one sees with one’s own eyes. In this case, the exact same behavior is judged differently on different days, only Haggard’s authority had changed.

Think of all of the former Bush supporters, from Paul O’Neill to Matthew Dowd, who were unassailable the day before they turned against the Bush administration’s conduct and savaged the day after. Those people were not unimpeachable originally because the supporters judged that they merited it due to their character and integrity. They were respected or reviled, based soley upon their loyalty to the authority figure.

Different authority; different righteousness. When it comes to their leaders, Republicans are simply incapable of judging ethical behavior.

Bush Doesn't Understand His Own Job Description

Things from Bush's Tuesday Rose Garden presser that you can brush off as just so much baloney:

"My main job is to protect the people..."
That's Bush Baloney #1.

Bush's main job is to protect the Constitution, not the people. That job description is so fundamentally important that he is required to swear an oath to fulfill it upon taking office. It's right there in...the Constitution!

Gosh, what could the framers have been thinking?

They were thinking that we needed to live in a Constitutionally limited republic where the people have certain inalienable rights. They were thinking that those rights must be protected against encroachment by any single individual seeking to gain absolute power. You know -- like the King against whom the colonists were rebelling.

As such, in Article I, they laid out the blueprint for the Legislative branch which was to be a co-equal branch to the Executive branch whose blueprint came in Article II. The co-equality was implemented through an intricate (but easy to understand) system of checks and balances.

Harry Reid:

[Bush] is president of the United States, not king of the United States. He has another branch of government, a legislative branch of government, he has to deal with.

Which brings us to Bush Baloney #2:

Congress shouldn't tell generals how to run the war.
Of course not -- who wants that?

But the fact remains: The military answers to a higher civilian authority, namely the President and his various delegates (e.g., the Secretary of Defense). In addition Congress has the authority to declare war and control the allocation of war funding. But above and beyond all that, these civilian authorities are nothing more than public servants who serve at the pleasure of the people. If the people want an end to a war, they have the final say so via the ballot box. True, the results of an election are not alwas easy to interpret, especially when it comes to foreign policy. But if ever there was a time when it was, this is it.

But why am I telling you that? You get it. It's Bush who doesn't understand his own job description.

March 30, 2007

Do Tell

Shorter Charles Krauthammer:

We have to keep fighting the war in Iraq, against the fanatics in Afghanistan, because that’s where the oil is.

March 28, 2007

Contact Your Congressman, Contact the President: End The Occupation

Virtually everything that Bush and Co. says will happen if we "cut and run" out of Iraq -- i.e., population in despair, our military in strategic peril, an Iraqi government too weak to provide security, militias and armed bands killing innocent people at will -- virtually all of those things are happening now, in Iraq, after over four years of our present occupation:

An influential retired Army general released a dire assessment of the situation in Iraq, based on a recent round of meetings there with Gen. David H. Petraeus and 16 other senior U.S. commanders.

"The population is in despair," retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote in an eight-page document compiled in his capacity as a professor at West Point. "Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate."
[...]
[McCaffrey's] bottom line is that the U.S. military is in "strategic peril" -- a sharp contrast to his previous views.
[...]
The government lacks dominance in every province, he added. One result is that "no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO [nongovernmental organization], nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi, without heavily armed protection."

Militias and armed bands are "in some ways more capable of independent operations" than the Iraqi army, he added.

And yet we're told that we must stay the course, that we cannot leave, as though more of the same will yield a different result.

Enough.

Congress will soon send a bill to Bush giving him everything he asked for in the way of war funding. But he has vowed to veto it because it forces him to end the occupation within the next 18 months. And if he vetoes it, the troops will be denied the funds they need to pack up and come home safely. If that happens the blame will lie with the president and no one else.

Call your Congressman and call your Senators. Tell them to support the bills in the House and the Senate that wind this war down. Tell them to stand firm.

And contact the White House and tell the president to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

Enough.

March 27, 2007

Republicans: Don't Deny Our Troops The Funds They Need!

As we know now, the House voted to give the Commander in Chief everything he asked for in the way of Iraq war funding -- and more. But you don't hear much about this fact from the traditional media.

Over 200 Republican congressmen voted against authorizing the funds in this bill. Don't hear much about THAT either.

And of course Bush now threatens to veto the entire bill altogether. Hello? If he vetos the bill, he won't get the money.

That's also a fact you don't hear much about in the traditional media.

With all of this in mind, I think it's time to create an Internet ad that brings this to light. Luckily, Bill from Portland Maine has written a script for just such an ad and -- for super double-extra bonus points -- inserted Bush's own words (in bold) to make the point more strongly:

OMINOUS ANNOUNCER WITH DEEP, RASPY VOICE: Republican Congressman [name here] voted against a bill to provide our troops with vital funding. This funding is badly needed for delivering of vital resources for our troops, like armor, food and other critical supplies that help them fight the war on terror and protect our children. But Republican Congressman [name here] voted to shut off funding for our troops. Our men and women in uniform need these emergency war funds. The Secretary of Defense has warned that our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions, and so would their families.

Republicans in the House like Congressman [name here] have sent their message, now it's time to send their money. Our men in women in uniform should not have to worry that politicians in Washington will deny them the funds and the flexibility they need to win.

Shame on you, Republican Congressman [name here]. Our troops deserve better than this.

Anyone dare me to produce the Google Video ad using this script?

Please Write To Your Senator Now

The Senate is poised to vote on legislation that will mirror the Iraq bill passed by the House.

Hopefully you live in a state where your Senator(s) already support this legislation. If not, please contact your Senators today and urge them to approve that bill.

Below is the text of a letter I sent to my Senators in Louisiana (Landrieu and Vitter) neither of whom supports the language in the House bill. Feel free to use it whatever way you like. But please don't wait -- the vote is coming up very fast.

[Feel free to add that "a solid majority of Americans say they want their congressional representative to support a bill calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by August 2008. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they would like to see their representative vote for such legislation, compared with just 33% who want their representative to oppose it," according to a new poll by Pew Research.]

Senator,

I understand the Senate is going to be considering passage of a bill similar to the Iraq war bill passed by the House. I am writing to urge you to vote in favor of it.

I understand that you do not support the approach that the House took because you feel that it puts the legislature in the position of "micromanaging" the war and ties the hands of our generals on the ground. I know how you feel about this. I felt the same way too. But then I thought about it some more and here is what I found:

The US military is run by civilians such as the Defense Secretary as well as the Legislative branch of our government. These parties are directly or indirectly answerable to the people. The same goes for the Commander in Chief -- he is a civilian who is elected by the people. And in November of last year, the people spoke loud and clear: it is time to end the war.

Now, the House heard the call and has given the Commander in Chief all the money he asked for and more. The troops have plenty of support to get the job done -- which is now defined by the House as "getting out of Iraq."

If the President vetoes the bill, then it will be he that is not supporting the troops, because he will be denying them the money to complete their mission.

The fact is we have achieved everything we set out to do when we invaded Iraq: Saddam is gone, there are no more WMD and Iraq has a government elected by the people. It is time now to declare victory and come home.

I hope you will vote in a way that supports this. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ara Rubyan
Baton Rouge, LA

Please use this language any way you like, but don't wait -- the vote is imminent and you might be able to make a difference if you contact your Senators now.

[Note: I was inspired by I Help You Blog’s “101 Great Posting Ideas For Your Blog” to write this post about citizen activism and the war in Iraq.]

March 26, 2007

“Dick” Cheney Hates The Constitution

cheney.jpg"Dick" Cheney is at it again:

Cheney called it a myth that "one can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements they need to carry out their mission."
Here are the facts, Cheney: The House has given the Commander in Chief all the money he asked for and more. The troops have plenty of support to get the job done, which is now defined by the House (translation: "budget appropriators") as "getting out of Iraq." That is the mission, Cheney. Bush can veto that bill but he won't get the money.

P.S. If this ties the hands of the generals on the ground, well, that's the way it is supposed to work: last time I looked, the military was governed by civilians like the Secretary of Defense AND the legislative branch of our government. The Commander in Chief is also a civilian -- who is elected by the people. So the people have the ultimate final say in this -- not the generals.

Get with the picture, "Dick."

March 25, 2007

The War In The Words Of The Dead

Newsweek has published a story this week that quotes from letters sent home by those in our armed services that were killed in combat.

The first letter was from Army Maj. Michael Mundell to his 17-year-old daughter, Erica:

"Tell all of your friends and your teachers that I said hello from Fallujah. I am doing well and our battalion is considered the best in the brigade. We are fighting the enemy and hopefully winning, though that is difficult to measure." He signed off with a pledge: "Never forget that your daddy loves you more than anything and that I will be home soon."
He was killed in action by an IED while on patrol in Fallujah. At his funeral in Kentucky, his casket was closed.

"Daddy loves you more than anything..." This is the kind of heartbreak that haunts you for the rest of your life. And it isn't anything new, not in war, not in this war or any other. So I almost didn't write about this...

... until I read the following passage, also from the Newsweek piece:

When Mundell was laid to rest in a hillside cemetery in Irvington, Ky., he joined the solemn company of America's fallen warriors—men and women who become objects of veneration, commemorated, in Lincoln's words, as the "honored dead" who "gave the last full measure of devotion."
I think it's important that we include the entire passage in context, from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
And this, of course, is why this war is such a waste and is so pointless. Does anyone believe that we are fighting to create a government of the people in Iraq? This is a war of Sunni vs. Shia, neither of which wants a government of the people. If they did, they wouldn't allow the mullahs to sit in final judgement of their constitution.

And not only that: what of our own system of government? How is it that the people can speak with such a clear voice not only in public opinion polls but also at the ballot box an yet the Commander in Chief can continue to go against our will?

Mark Bowden, celebrated author of Blackhawk Down, said it best nearly four years ago:

When a president lies or exaggerates in making an argument for war, when he spins the facts to sell his case, he betrays his public trust, and he diminishes the credibility of his office and our country. We are at war. What we lost in this may yet end up being far more important than what we gained.
It took a while, but the majority of Americans now agree.

End the war. Bring 'em home.

March 23, 2007

Green Zone Blast Unnerves UN Chief; Iraqi President Has Balls Of Steel

Way back in the day (c. 1974) I spent a summer in Beirut as an exchange student. It was the summer after the Yom Kippur War and it was also the summer that Yassir Arafat began building up the PLO presence in Lebanon. As a result, the Israeli Air Force was accustomed to low-flying flights at sonic speed over the Lebanese capital. Trust me when I say I have never -- ever! -- heard anything that loud in my life. The Beirutis would, of course, laugh saying that you could always tell the tourists because they were the ones who would dive under the cafe tables when the jets went booming overhead.

I remembered all that when I saw this video of the the U.N. Secretary General diving for cover after an enormous blast went off in the Green Zone during a press conference.

[Note: When the camera pulls back, check out the reporters in the audience -- they ducked too. But not Maliki, of course. He never even blinks barely winces -- he's like an fracking action hero!]


greenzoneblast.JPG

P.S. Maybe I'm not paying attention, but when was the last time a rocket exploded inside the Green Zone? Isn't that, um, a bit too close for comfort? [I guess I've been slacking off -- there was a rocket attack on the Green Zone in late January.]

P.P.S. What surge?

March 19, 2007

Iraq, Four Years On

Amnesia (David Byrne)

Peace on earth, soon we will be
Where nothing worries us
Lazy days, cool is the breeze
Across the universe

Armies of soldiers are sleeping tonight
And moonlight is kissing their eyes

When you awake you will be free
I'll be your lullabye

Alcohol, no need to feel
Rest in these fuzzy arms
Ease on down, amnesia
Baby's on valium

Keep us from danger and safe from all harm
From the wind and the rain and the fire

When you awake you will be free
I'll be your lullabye

When you awake you will be free
And then I'll be your lullabye

March 14, 2007

The House Democratic Proposal Is A Mess (Updated)

Fact is, the war's over. All that's left is, well, the shouting.

C'mon -- Saddam is dead, there are no WMDs, Iraq has a democratic government. Mission Accomplished, right? Declare victory and come home already.

In that context, the House Democratic proposal is a mess. I'd vote against it -- and I'm a yellow dog Democrat. I'd vote against it and start over with a much simpler proposal that provides 100% of the funding requested by the president with the proviso that the funds only be used to withdraw the troops (see above, "Mission Accomplished").

UPDATE: Here's another video of David Obey (D-WS). This time the camera captures him speaking to Tina Richards, the mother of a Marine and anti-war protester in the hall outside his office in Washington. The video runs over 6 minutes -- but hang in there, it is a fascinating encounter between two impassioned people who feel they are doing what they can to end the war.

Obey is a sponsor of Pelosi's supplemental spending bill that would pull U.S. troops out of Iraq by Aug. 31, 2008. "We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war," Obey stormed, later adding, "It's time these idiot liberals understood that!" Later, when another war protester also starts questioning Obey, he says: "That bill ends the war! If that isn't good enough for you, you're smoking something illegal."

Now I know that Obey has been on the Hill forever; at one point he reminds Ms. Richards that he was instrumental in passing the legislation that cut off the funding for the Vietnam war in the early 70's. On the other hand, I also understand that he fancies himself a rival of Jack Murtha, so I have mixed feelings about that.

But the most fascinating thing about the confrontation is when he says that "you don't have to cut off funds for an activity that is no longer legal." Clearly he believes that the current proposal somehow avoids the hot potato of defunding by first "making the war illegal." Not sure how that works; besides, there are lots of things Bush has done that are of, um, questionable legality, as Jon Stewart so humorously alludes to in the first video.

Watch the video. It's worth six minutes of your time as a fascinating glimpse constituency outreach in the halls of Congress -- and I say that with only a bit of irony.

March 12, 2007

Failing With Honor

I was watching a motivational speaker the other day who basically said, "There is no such thing as trying. You either do or you don't. Trying just means you failed with honor."

And so it goes with the Democratic congress on the Iraq war.

Right now it seems that they are suffering from paralysis by analysis when, in fact, they should pick a direction and go. Instead of trying to please everyone in their caucus (which ends up pleasing no one), Dems should look around: A huge majority of Americans are sick and tired of the war, think it was a mistake and want us out of there ASAP. And this is to say nothing of what they think of Bush.

Matt Stoller:

It's unlikely that we'll be able to get a bill through the House, and through a Senate filibuster, and through a White House veto, and past a constitutional crisis. Right? The votes aren't there. They just aren't.
So, just go for it. Future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were doing just now. The way seems pretty clear -- cut off funding and/or impeach the president. If you fail, you fail; but at least you failed with honor. And in two years, when the people vote again, don't you think they'll come after the congressmen that dug their heels in on the war? I think they will. And we'll be there to remind them who failed with honor and who ran and hid from the fight.

Bottom line (and here come the cliches): Half a loaf is better than none; don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good; don't just stand there -- do something! [Note: Just because it's a cliche doesn't mean it ain't true.]

March 10, 2007

Some Questions For Valerie Plame

by Mark Adams,  Cross Posted

Chairman Henry Waxman has invited Valerie Plame Wilson to testify before his House Committee on Oversight and Government next Friday, March 16th.  I'd like to know if Valerie Plame, and more broadly the CIA's counter-proliferation division and it's front company, Brewster Jennings & Associates (which "covered Ms. Plame), was specifically targeted -- and not simply a casualty of war.

Not since Fawn Hall have I awaited Congressional Testimony with quite the same emotional reaction.  There's nothing quite like a blond bombshell with movie star good-looks telling a panel of boring old men all the sordid details of an administration bent on waging a war that neither the American people or a majority of Congress support.

But if that isn't enough to get your attention, maybe this will:

Brewster Jennings CIA counter-proliferation network prevented a WMD "salting" operation by Bush White House in Iraq.

Continue reading "Some Questions For Valerie Plame" »

Bring 'Em Home, Bring 'Em Home

End the war, end the occupation.

"I believe the vote should be a vote of conscience," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, one of 71 members of a liberal coalition opposed to the war. "My vote would be for a safe, fully funded withdrawal of troops" by the end of this year, she said.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D), California: We want to make sure the American people know that this war must end, that we stand with them, and we're leading the charge here in the House of Representatives to do just that.


[Note: My daughter and I shot this last summer at an informal display outside a Farmington Hills, MI city park. The music is from Springsteen's appearance on The Tonight Show.]

March 06, 2007

100% Fully-Funded Withdrawal

Apparently, there's more than one way to end the Iraq war. One way has lots of support and the other way, not so much:

USA Today/Gallup Poll. March 2-4, 2007. N=1,010 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"Would you favor or oppose Congress taking each of the following actions in regards to the war in Iraq?

"Setting a time-table for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of next year"
Favor: 60%
Oppose: 39%

"Denying the funding needed to send any additional U.S. troops to Iraq"
Favor: 37%
Oppose: 61%

So, if Congress really only has one check on the Commander in Chief -- power of the purse -- what does this tell you?

It tells you that Congress should vote to fully fund a 100% withdrawal of US troops from Iraq before the end of 2008.

Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, is drafting an amendment that would allow financing only to protect American troops in Iraq pending a full withdrawal under a set timetable:

Assuming the supplemental bill is unsatisfactory to the caucus, war opponents are discussing whether to threaten to vote against it when it comes to a vote in the House floor in mid-March, unless the House leadership also permits a vote on the amendment from Ms. Lee.

Ms. Lee said her goal was to shift the discussion to a “fully funded withdrawal” from “cutting off funding.”

“There’s a distinction between cutting off funding and using the funding to begin a speedy and secure withdrawal within a specific timeframe,” she said.

A couple of thoughts:
  • Earlier polling had shown a very strong majority in favor of Murtha's proposal to make "surge-funding" conditional on certain readiness benchmarks. What happened to support for that? It cannot have melted away so fast. Is it all in how you ask the question?
  • As a practical matter, I'm not sure how Lee's proposal could be an amendment to the supplemental. For example, if the supplemental is shot down, how can the amendment to it pass and become binding? I'm not a parliamentarian so that seems confusing. But I like this approach.
Bottom line: Enough already with the non-binding resolutions that try to make everyone happy -- in the end, no one is happy.

End the war already.

Libby: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, Guilty (Updated)

cheney.jpgMSNBC:

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted Tuesday of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.
He got nailed on four of five counts.

Now I know Fitzgerald has said that the investigation has been "inactive" since before the trial began; he also said they (the prosecution team) could all go back to their day jobs.

But is it possible that Libby's sentencing might be contingent on his further cooperation with the authorities? If so, how long before Cheney resigns? If it happens, the official reason will be his recent health problems. But Libby's guilty verdicts are going to figure large in the calculation.

And, yes, he'll be pardoned along with Libby.

P.S. Saddle up the ponies! Can't wait to hear what Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have to say about this. [Update: Here's Joe Wilson on Keith Olbermann's Countdown.]

They're suing everyone in sight and this makes everything that much more interesting.

UPDATE: Jane Hamsher captures a telling detail:

Afterwards Mrs. Libby came up and hugged [defense attorneys] Jeffress profusely, then Wells, saying "love you, love you" with much emotion. Then all the rest of the defense team. She didn't hug Scooter however, or hold his hand, or even make eye contact.
Brrrrrrr --- ouch.

UPDATE 2: Nancy Pelosi:

Today's guilty verdicts are not solely about the acts of one individual. This trial provided a troubling picture of the inner workings of the Bush Administration. The testimony unmistakably revealed – at the highest levels of the Bush Administration – a callous disregard in handling sensitive national security information and a disposition to smear critics of the war in Iraq.

UPDATE 3: Attention Plame junkies (I'm talking to you, Mark): Huffington Post has the exclusive account of the jury deliberations, written by juror (and former Washington Post reporter) Dennis Collins. A must-read. No, really -- you have to read it.

UPDATE 4: Ari Emanuel says Cheney will resign on March 28.

UPDATE 5: Christy Hardin Smith has a positively fascinating and insightful analysis Libby's chances for a pardon. The title spills the beans: No Pardon. Period. In brief, she observes that Libby's future lies in the balance between Rove's influence over Bush vs. Cheney's. It is a must-read for Plame-junkies.

March 02, 2007

Forget About Stopping The War, Chalabi Will

by Mark Adams

Because Congress isn't going to do a thing about it.

David Sirota: "Democrats are not serious about ending the war, or even trying to slow it down."
"Democrats are considering cutting President Bush's $142 billion budget request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year by $20 billion, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said Thursday." - AP, morning of 3/1/07

VERSUS

"Just hours after floating the idea of cutting $20 billion from President Bush's $142 billion request for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan next year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad was overruled by fellow Democrats Thursday. 'Our caucus feels strongly that we should go with the president's numbers' on 2008 war costs, Conrad said." - AP, afternoon of 3/1/07
Nope, they'd rather pass a pork-filled defense spending bill than use the power of the purse.

This is the first time, ever, in the long history of the Internet Toobz, that Mark Noonan was right. (Gawd, it sickens me to actually type those words.)

But never fear, our savior will soon be here and all will be roses and liberators.

Continue reading "Forget About Stopping The War, Chalabi Will" »

February 28, 2007

Does Your Candidate Support Murtha's Plan?

Mine does :-)

by Mark Adams

Citizen 53 has posted the full transcript of an almost hour long interview with John Edwards from WNYC Radio. (Audio link to John Edwards interview).

This is an in depth interview with detailed examination of every position that matters in this election:

This interview is an excellent example of Edwards in full. shows his policies and much of who he is as a person, a human being, running for President.

If you have the time, I hope you will read it and offer your comments.

Clearly, what follows is better than any sound bite. is Edwards's views in depth, where he has an opportunity to expound. gives interested DKos'ers a chance to become better educated about Edwards, straight from Edwards, not from the flame wars in a thread that contains oft-repeated information and misinformation that, alas, is so prevalent in the blogosphere.

Get some coffee, settle back, and enjoy!

It's the following exchange that catches the eye. No other major candidate takes this position. None. As the Democratic Congressional Leadership quietly distance themselves from John Murtha's position that the time to get out of Iraq starts now, Edwards has Murtha's back:

BL: And what if you were in the house? This Murtha plan...

JE: I'm for it.

BL: ... to starve the war by requiring shorter stays for American troops, longer intervals between tours, some other things...you're for it?

JE: I'm for it.

BL: You'd vote for it.

JE: I'm for it.

BL: Alright then, do one other thing on this before we leave Iraq to distinguish yourself from the other presidential c...

JE: Can I interrupt you for just a minute?

BL: Sure

JE: You did that very quickly. The Murtha plan that I know about is one that requires American troops not to be sent back for another deployment in Iraq, some of them 3rd and 4th deployments without adequate training, without adequate equipment - is that what you're talking about?

BL: Yes.

JE: OK. Yes, I'm for that.

BL: Which is just an indirect way to stop the troop surge, true?

JE: Yeah, yeah - it certainly affects the number of troops in Iraq.

This is very clear. Surely THE most unambiguous statement a politician could ever make regarding the Murtha plan, and John Edwards is the ONLY presidential candidate saying this.

This is big folks, possibly the best talking point Edwards Supporters have.

Dems Hope To Embarrass Bush Into Bringing Home Troops (Updated Twice)

Murtha's plan, although popular with the people, is apparently DOA in Congress. Instead, the Dems (including the Blue Dogs) hope to pass a plan that requires the Commander in Chief to provide Congress with a "presidential waiver" for any troops that do not meet their "standard" for deployment.

Feh.

It's clear that the Dems are split into two camps: those that do not want to stay the course versus those who do not to change the course. As a result, they are trying to have it both ways which means they will have it no way at all.

Because no one is willing to lead the way with legislation to end the war (translation: "cut off funding") the difference between the Dems and Republicans is minimal, if not zero. So the war will keep going for at least another two years, if not longer. This, despite what the people want.

Bottom line: if Dems vote for the presidential waiver option, they will own the war for the next two years.

UPDATE: Russ Feingold is the only one so far who is talking sense:

I am working to fix the new proposal drafted by several Senate Democrats, which at this point basically reads like a new authorization. I will not vote for anything that the President could read as an authorization for continuing with a large military campaign in Iraq. Deauthorizing the President’s failed Iraq policy may be an appropriate next step if done right, but the ultimate goal needs to be using our Constitutionally-granted power of the purse to bring this catastrophe to an end.
Every day this war goes on is another day our country gets weaker. Period.

UPDATE: Chris Bowers thinks Steny Hoyer is behind the House refusal to allow a roll-call vote on Murtha's proposal. Makes sense: There's no love lost between those two rivals.

February 27, 2007

Poll: Majority Support Murtha Plan

Mark has already covered some of the results from the latest polls on the Iraq War. Here's more...

The one result that jumps out is that while the House Blue Dogs might not support Murtha, the American people support Murtha's plan, 58-39.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that "a majority of Americans now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and support putting new conditions on the military that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there."

All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war with Iraq was worth fighting, or not?

(Parenthetical number indicates result from last poll)

Iraq War worth fighting 34 (40)
Iraq War not worth fighting 64 (58)

Do you think (the United States should keep its military forces in Iraq until civil order is restored there, even if that means continued U.S. military casualties); OR, do you think (the United States should withdraw its military forces from Iraq in order to avoid further U.S. military casualties, even if that means civil order is not restored there)?

Keep forces 42 (46)
Withdraw forces 56 (52)

Do you support or oppose Bush's proposal to send approximately 22,000 additional U.S. military forces to Iraq?

Support 32 (34)
Oppose 67 (65)

Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush's plan by creating new rules on troop training and rest time that would limit the number of troops available for duty in Iraq?

Support 58
Oppose 39

Would you support or oppose Congress trying to block Bush's plan by restricting funding for the war?

Support 46
Oppose 51


There's more:

Continue reading "Poll: Majority Support Murtha Plan" »

Oh. Well, If You Strenuously Object...

by Mark Adams

image hosting by http://www.imagecoast.com/ ... then I should take some time to reconsider. -- A Few Good Men

Majority "Strongly Objects" To Bush Troop Buildup (via HuffPost)

Washington Post: Opposition to Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq remained strong. Two in three Americans registered their disapproval, with 56 percent saying they strongly object. The House recently passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the new deployments, but Republicans have blocked consideration of such a measure in the Senate.

These kind of numbers cannot be ignored. The breakdown among Democrats is in the 90%'s opposing the war and the Administration's handling of it.

The response from the Office of Vice President was refreshingly honest and blunt...

(more)

Continue reading "Oh. Well, If You Strenuously Object..." »

February 23, 2007

Iraq War: The Long View

Lots in the news today about Democratic tactical maneuvering (translation: "infighting") in Congress, re: the war:

  • Senate Democrats (translation: "Biden") want to pass a measure that sunsets the 2002 AUMF.
  • House Blue Dogs have stymied Mutha's plan to restrict funding contingent on meeting readiness benchmarks.
  • Progressive bloggers are pitted against each other, arguing the best way to proceed.
Time to step back and look at the big picture. How will history view this period?

Let's agree that historians will give this episode a simple paragraph their narrative of the times. It'll go like this:

    "Public opinion turned against the war. As a result, the Democrats took over Congress. However, the president prevailed because he was the Commander in Chief and there was not much the Legislative branch could do except shut off the money...or impeach the Chief Executive neither of which the Democrats were strong enough, united enough, nor resolute enough to do. Furthermore, none of the Democratic or Republican candidates for president was able to capture the public's imagination about what to do on this one, most important issue. So the war droned on for two more years, ruining lives and families at home and weakening the nation's standing around the world."
In short, history will not be kind to any of the players in this story: not Bush, not the Republicans not the Democrats.

February 21, 2007

Cheney: British Pullout A Sign Things Are “Going Pretty Well” In Iraq

cheney.jpgThe Brits are pulling out of Iraq -- and Cheney says that's a sign that things are going well in some parts of the country.

If that's so, then shouldn't the Brits be moving into the parts of Iraq that are, you know, not going so well -- like Baghdad?

(HT to Josh)

February 17, 2007

Heirs of Lincoln

by Mark Adams

My new favorite blog, Queequeg the Harpooneer, delves into the history books to annihilate the sophistry, distortions and outright lies of Rep. Frank Gaffney (R-Deluded) who not only misquoted Abraham Lincoln on the floor of the House of Representatives, but insists that despite the mis-quote, he accurately described the Great Emancipator's sentiments.

Queequeg indeed harpoons Gaffney. In fact, to truly massacre the metaphor, Gaffney didn't just subject the Congressional Record to a little white lie, but made up a whale of a story when he said Lincoln accused Congressmen who criticize the war are "saboteurs” and should be "arrested, exiled, or hanged."

Thanks to the Melvillian mariner, we know exactly how Lincoln thought, and how he behaved when he felt -- as a Congressman -- that the Mexican-American war was started by President Polk under false pretenses, that Congress had the right and duty to end the war through the power of the purse, and that the administration had deceived the American public by insinuating that it be over in a matter of months, not years.

Lincoln did not mince words in personally attacking a President he believe unworthy of the title Commander and Chief

His mind, tasked beyond its power, is running hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down and be at ease.

Again, it is a singular omission in this message that it nowhere intimates when the President expects the the war to terminate. … As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity!

Can you imagine the field day Honest Abe would have had with the current savant occupying the White House.

If you ever needed proof that there's no such thing as ghosts, it's that George Bush hasn't been seen running and screaming out into the Rose Garden, mumbling something about being haunted by a tall ghost in a stove-pipe hat.

February 16, 2007

How to respect the troops and reject the escalation

The Democrats in the House plan today to bring to a vote the non-binding resolution in the House that says we respect the troops but reject the escalation. A baby-step but forward movement to be sure.

After that, Rep. Murtha plans to introduce legislation that has considerably more teeth to it. It would allocate funds for the war only under the following conditions:

  1. The Pentagon would have to certify that troops being sent to Iraq are “fully combat ready” with training and equipment;
  2. Troops must have at least one year at home between combat deployments;
  3. Combat assignments could not be extended beyond one year
  4. Prohibition on “stop-loss” program forcing soldiers to extend their enlistment periods
It's a very practical approach that implements respect for the troops along with the power of the purse.

The Republican response?

“While American troops are fighting radical Islamic terrorists thousands of miles away, it is unthinkable that the United States Congress would move to discredit their mission, cut off their reinforcements and deny them the resources they need to succeed and return home safely,” [House Minority Leader John] Boehner said.
Listen to the hot-button words: "radical Islamic terrorists" and "cut off reinforcements" and "deny resources."

Say what?

In Boehner's world, you send the troops into battle to fight the terrorists, no matter what -- naked, barefoot and oiled up with a knife between their teeth, if necessary.

Outnumbered? Outgunned? No problem! We're the US Army! We're the Marines! We're the awesome Black Knight by God!

February 14, 2007

Campaigning on Iraq: 3 Strategies

OK, let's say you've got three major Democratic candidates running for their party's nomination for president.

  1. The first one says s/he was mislead by Bush about the war and that while voted to give him the authority to use force, s/he didn't necessarily give him permission to invade Iraq.
  2. The second candidate now says s/he flat-out made a mistake in voting to give the president the authority to use force.
  3. The third candidate says that s/he was against the war from the very start and said so to whomever would listen.
Given that the Iraq war will be the most important issue of the campaign, who are you supporting: Candidate #1, #2, or #3? And why?

February 13, 2007

What Lincoln taught us about war's wasted lives

Sen. Obama got in trouble the other day for saying this:

"We now have spent $400 billion dollars and have seen over three thousand lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."
He has apologized.

But really: don't you understand his point -- and agree with it?

Abraham Lincoln, a real war President, said it best:

"...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Does anyone believe that we have succeeded in bringing a "new birth of freedom" to Iraq? Does anyone believe that Iraq has a government of the people?

That said, do you really believe that our men and women didn't die in vain? That's not just a waste -- but a shame and a stain on our history.

February 06, 2007

Senate votes...to do nothing on Iraq War (updated)

I'm no Senate parliamentarian so I don't have the ability to explain exactly what happened yesterday except to say there will be nothing done in the Senate about the Iraq war for the time being. What might have been (at most) a non-binding vote of no-confidence did not take place, nor did a debate of any length on the progress and conduct of the war.

Nothing. No. Thing.

Here's the simple recap: Republicans mostly voted against debate and Democrats mostly voted for it.

It's not over, but it ain't exactly an auspicious beginning.

P.S. What I wonder about is what spooked the Republicans into voting against debate. My hunch? Cheney, et. al., probably told them that it would embolden Iran and force the US to expand the war to include Iraq's neighbor(s).

UPDATE: Senator Obama has introduced a bill in the Senate and Rep. Thompson and Rep. Murphy have introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The bill is called "The Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007."

The binding legislation ends President Bush's escalation by capping the number of troops at January 10, 2007 levels, puts forward specific benchmarks for success in Iraq and establishes a timeline to redeploy our troops. Redeployment, according to the bill, would begin no later than May 1, 2007, with the goal of all combat brigades redeployed by March 31, 2008 - a date consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Troops would be sent either home to their families in the U.S., to Afghanistan where more troops are needed to fight the war on terror or would remain in the region to train Iraqis, protect against more violence and perform counterterrorist activities. The Iraq War De-Escalation Act will refocus the efforts of American armed forces on Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden and urges the president to send, within 60 days, a Special Envoy to Iraq to begin the important work of diplomacy with key nations in the region.
Congressman Thompson is a Vietnam Veteran and a former U.S. Army staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Congressman Murphy is a former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq war veteran.

January 29, 2007

Newsweek: “Will pro-war stances hurt the GOP hopefuls for '08?”

Hey, Newsweek -- what took you so long?

070126_NA02_xtrawide.jpg

Better late than never, eh?:

Matt Dowd knows more about the politics of war than almost anyone who has worked inside Bush's inner circle. The president's long-time pollster was the chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign three years ago, when he helped frame the conflict in Iraq as a winning issue for his boss. But as Dowd surveys the field of 2008 presidential candidates, he's puzzled. "The American people have decided what they think about the war and are ready to look to the next stage," he says. "What I don't understand is why the big three GOP candidates have all chosen to follow the president's approach rather than offer up their own alternative."
Exactly! "What's their plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan?"

January 27, 2007

In a New Joint U.S.-Iraqi Patrol, the Americans Go First

I'm no expert on military strategy and/or tactics and so I mostly steer clear of the topic. But after watching the following video and reading the story after that, it's pretty clear (once again) that we're wasting our time in Iraq.

The video: CBS declined to broadcast the following report, instead putting it on their web site. Watch the video and then read the piece in the New York Times describing the same situation.

The article in the Times:

In a miniature version of the troop increase that the United States hopes will secure the city, American soldiers and armored vehicles raced onto Haifa Street before dawn to dislodge Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who have been battling for a stretch of ragged slums and mostly abandoned high rises. But as the sun rose, many of the Iraqi Army units who were supposed to do the actual searches of the buildings did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own.

January 25, 2007

Go Viral, Baby: Take the “Bite Me” Pledge and End The War

(Click to see larger image)

Glenn Greenwald:

Yesterday, Party loyalist Hugh Hewitt unveiled what he and his comrades are calling "The Pledge" -- a creepy, Soviet-sounding declaration of loyalty, all based on Gen. Petraeus' decree, that vows to repudiate any Republican who opposes the "surge"...Bush followers across the Internet are now huddled in strategizing conference calls, and leading right-wing luminaries such as Glenn Reynolds have endorsed The Pledge.
So, come on people, take the "Bite Me" Pledge! Sign the damn petition with the name "Bite Me," or any name you prefer. You can watch this hilarious SNL video if you need some ideas.

Forward this to your friends. Go viral baby! End the War.

Yeah, you have to provide an email address to verify the signature, but if enough people do this, it'll be worth it.

January 23, 2007

So Dumb, It Has To Work

by Mark Adams

This "plan" kill two birds. The wingnuts will be happy with it because we'll stop seeing the daily doom-n-gloom of a hundred funerals a day -- because the media will stop reporting all the "bad news" from Iraq.

The media will have no choice, because the other "bird" in the plan is to evacuate all American personnel from the country.

You see, the media is only hammering us with the daily death toll because American troops are in harms way. They'll stop if there are no more U.S. targets to worry about. Mmm, Kay?

Besides guys, you've got other problems, and other enemies you can be terrified of.

Allahpundit:  Is Hillary the best we can hope for among the Democratic nominees? Obama talks bipartisanship but votes a deep, rich blue. Edwards is running on a platform of class warfare. Of Gore let us say no more. Who’s left? Unless Mark Warner jumps in and figures out a way to beat all of them by running to their right, Hillary’s probably the most “conservative” (i.e., nominally hawkish) candidate in the pack. Terrifying.

Continue reading "So Dumb, It Has To Work" »

January 18, 2007

Iraq: Only 4 Questions Matter Anymore

(Cross posted on Daily Kos)

This is the headline this morning at MSNBC:

MSNBC headline.JPG

And, in a creative burst of linguistic irony, the first paragraph goes like this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - At least 14 people were killed and 31 wounded in a series of car bombings in Baghdad on Thursday, the third day in a surge in insurgent violence in the Iraqi capital.
Well.

Let's get one thing straight:

Americans pride themselves for being a practical, businesslike people -- we revere the free market. So when the president, or any leader, declares "Follow me!" we, as Americans, instinctively ask ourselves four questions:

  1. What are we being asked to buy?
  2. What is it going to cost us?
  3. Why should we believe him?
  4. What's in it for us?
We might ask those questions unconsciously or, like old Ben Franklin, we might use a pencil and paper. However we do it, that's really all there is to it. We ask those questions reflexively as a kind of protocol before we buy anything. We buy cars this way, we buy soap this way, we buy anything and everything this way.

Perhaps you've never broken it down quite like this, but if you'll stop and give it some thought, you'll know I'm right. We even elect politicians this way. And we definitely buy wars this way. Even Andy Card knows that.

So they can call it a "surge," they can call it an "augmentation," they can call it "reinforcements." Hell, they can call it "a banana" for all I care.

But this time, whatever you call it, the answers to each of those four questions adds up to "no sale."

Dem Iraq Proposals, Pick One

Jeffrey Feldman has posted a handy diary at Daily Kos that consolidates details of 6 different Democratic proposals that are alternatives to Bush's escalation. He's even got a poll on which one you prefer.

We all know that the very definition "Democratic Congressional Majority" means "herding cats." So it'll be difficult to offer one clear way out of Iraq any time soon.

But for those who think the Dems problem is that they have "no plan," well, think again. If anything, the exact opposite is true.

UPDATE: Rep. Lynn Wolsey's comprehensive proposal (to disengage in 6 months, reconstruct Iraq, and provide care for US veterans) seems to be carrying the day.

John Edwards' proposal is in second place:

I am opposed to President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq. Congress must act now to block funding of Bush's escalation of the war — and demand that the President provide a plan to leave Iraq.

January 15, 2007

Untwist Yer Knickers

by Mark Adams

Al ain't out and Hillary ain't pissed, despite what otherwise sober voices think.

My advice, consistent with the five basic principles of the Progressive Netroots, is not to play Hillary's game. Don't be defensive and apologetic, insisting that no offense was intended, but ask rather what size shoe the former First Lady wears, because her lack of an affirmative, absolute rejection of the escalation of the war seems like a perfect fit to John Edwards' call to stop the madness.

Any apologetic response, a "hey, I didn't mean you personally," defense, will come off weak and mitigate the importance of Edward's message.

Continue reading "Untwist Yer Knickers" »

JRE Echos MLK, Tomorrow Is Today

by Mark Adams

The General directs us to remember the wisdom of MLK. I believe that there is no coincidence that the theme, the three-word slogan that launched John Edwards' candidacy for president last month can be found in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech at Manhattan's Riverside Church.

There's more....

Continue reading "JRE Echos MLK, Tomorrow Is Today" »

January 12, 2007

A Tale of Two Embassies

Wonder which one gets more coverage?

As of Friday morning, Google news yields 1,944 hits on "Iran embassy Iraq," while "American embassy Greece" yields 343 hits. That makes sense -- the Iraq event happened Thursday, while the Greece event was Friday. I'll try to check back periodically.

January 11, 2007

The Shared National Sacrifice Act of 2007

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

Bush speaks! And there you have it: The Iraq war is "the decisive ideological struggle of our time."

Well. That's pretty serious talk. And I'll take it at face value.

That said, if I'm a Congressional Democrat, here's what I would do:

I would immediately draft a package of three related bills that accomplish the following:

  1. End all off-budget funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
  2. Roll back all existing tax cuts for people making, say, over $200 thousand in wages and passive income, and
  3. Renew (or not) the original Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
The first two bills should be designed to be "revenue neutral," i.e., the $100 billion Bush wants for this next round of war-funding should come out of the budget to be funded by increased revenues from rolling back the tax cuts. You could make the rollback cut-off point slide from the top-down as far as you need to raise the necessary funds. You'd try to preserve middle class tax cuts as much as possible, but -- hey -- it's not like we got so much in the first place, you know?

You could call the package of three bills by some exotic name like The Shared National Sacrifice Act of 2007, or The Protection of Future Generations' Prosperity & Security Act.

I should think all Democrats (including the Blue Dogs) would vote for these bills as would all non-Southern Republicans. You might even get up to a veto-proof majority. Not that Bush cares of course.

But heading into 2008, this would have the effect of showing that Democrats can show some leadership, some "bipartisanship," some vision, some responsibility, some sensitivity. It would show that Democrats are not just going to sit around and be blamed for losing the war.

Do it now and ram it through. Let's have a debate, baby. Congress controls the purse-strings. So let's talk about funding this war in the real world.

January 08, 2007

Early transcript of Bush's Iraq speech

Wait for it:

"Good evening my fellow Americans. Iraq, 9/11, terrorists, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. God bless America."
Whatever you do, don't make this into a drinking game.

P.S. Seriously, Bush will never end this war because then he'd have to relinquish his "wartime powers."

Powell on Iraq escalation: “The colonels will always say they need more troops”

Bush got it wrong in the beginning when he didn't send more troops to Iraq; now he's about to get it wrong again.

Robert Novak:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has gone public with criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy, is caustic in private about the proposed ''surge'' of 30,000 additional U.S. troops.

Powell noted that the recent congressional delegation to Iraq headed by Sen. John McCain heard from combat officers that they wanted more troops.

''The colonels will always say they need more troops,'' the retired general says. ''That's why we have generals.''

A footnote: Senior Republican senators are trying to get word to the president that any troop surge would be dead on arrival in Congress.

Yeah, I know: we're not big fans of Novak nor Powell (but for different reasons). That said, other sources have detailed Powell's disdain for Bush's war planning and execution.

P.S. For the record, here's the Powell Doctrine, one more time

  • Military force should only be used if there is a clear risk to national security
  • The force used should be overwhelming
  • Get, and hold, the support of the American people
  • The operation must have a clear exit strategy.
Additional points here.

January 07, 2007

Sidestepping the Surge Escalation

Howard Fineman:
Democratic strategists say it would be politically foolish to help Bush by crafting a bipartisan war policy. "Why should we try to come up with a compromise policy with him?" asks Mike Ward, a former congressman who was back at the Capitol for opening-day festivities. "If we do that, we take ownership of the war. Why would we want to do that?" Only one reason I could think of: to end the war faster so that the troops could come home.
Normally I'd be all for doing the right thing and devil take the hindmost. But the fact is, the Dems cannot end this war in any meaningful sense of the phrase. The president is the commander in chief and, shy of cutting off funding, the legislative branch cannot prevent him from having his war.

The best thing is for the Dems to hold all the hearings and investigations; insist that war funding be a part of the normal budget process; and pass bills like Leahy's War Profiteering Prevention Act. In other words, hang the war around Bush's (and McCain's) neck and make it THE issue in the '08 elections.

UPDATE: Joe Biden weighs in:

Sen. Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it would be a "tragic mistake" if Bush chooses to increase troops. But Biden, D-Del., said cutting off funds was not an option.

"As a practical matter there is no way to say this is going to be stopped," Biden said regarding a troop increase, unless enough congressional Republicans join Democrats in convincing Bush the strategy is wrong.

Biden added that it probably would be an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers if Democrats were to block Bush's efforts as commander in chief after Congress had voted to authorize going to war.

"It's unconstitutional to say, you can go, but we're going to micromanage," Biden said.

Unconstitutional? No. Bad politics? Perhaps. Micromanaging? Yes.

UPDATE 2: Josh Marshall (using more than my seven words) agrees:

Biden here is his reliably muddle-headed self. Congress can declare war (or, in this case, resolve to authorize the use of force) but not reverse itself later? Congress cannot redline certain defense expenditures?

Giving Biden the benefit of the doubt, what I think he is trying to say is that it would be utterly unproductive for Democrats in Congress to get bogged down in the tactical minutia of our Iraq policy. I completely agree. To surge or not to surge is really not the issue. But it would be nice to see a Democratic presidential contender better able to articulate that notion.

UPDATE 3: Murtha weighs in, taking a harder line than me, and basically telling Chris Matthews that Biden et. al. are full of it:

December 31, 2006

My Top Ten Most Popular Videos of 2006

This is the Top Ten list of most popular videos I created in 2006. They were posted on both YouTube and Google Video.

10. Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival
This is a 5-minute preview of the films being shown at the festival in January, 2007.

9. Amnesia
Inspired by David Byrne's song of the same name.

8. New Orleans Jazzfest 2006
The international music festival returns to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

7. Jesus Hates Democrats, So Vote AGAINST Stem-Cell Research
Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviziel gets creepy in an anti-stem cell research ad that ran in Missouri. This ad was eventually banned from YouTube -- but the proposition to support stem-cell research won, carrying Claire McCaskill into the Senate.

6. Tai Chi & Cool Jerk
My first video.

5. New Orleans Mardi Gras
Laissez les bon temps rouler! This video is the next best thing to being there.

4. My ad gets shown on The Colbert Report!
You're nobody til Stephen Colbert disses you. Crum-believable!

3. Bring 'Em Home
My daughter and I shot this one day at a municipal park in suburban Detroit; the music is from Bruce Springsteen.

2. Multiple ads for Democratic challengers
As a lark, I did 5 ads for Democratic congressional challengers: Patrick Murphy (PA-08), Paul Hodes (NH-02), Linda Stender (NJ-07), Jerry McNerney (CA-11), and Nancy Skinner (MI-09). I also did a generic ad for the Democratic party. Most got posted on candidate blogs and web sites, etc. Then Carol Gay (NJ-04) saw them and asked me to do one for her campaign. Eventually, Stephen Colbert saw THAT one and the rest is history -- see #4 above. [P.S. Carol lost, but many of the others won.]

And the #1 most popular video of mine from 2006 is...

1. Vote Republican (Because Jesus Hates Democrats)
A YouTuber sent me a video response to one of my candidate ads and I couldn't tell if he was being serious or not. So I, um, tweaked it to remove all doubt. An instant classic!

Saddam: Requiem for a bastard

Hunter said it best:

Saddam is dead. Another tin-cup Ozymandias, another man in history unworthy of the sand that covers him. Truly and without remorse, good riddance. He follows hundreds of thousands of better souls who, unlike him, deserved none of it. Let his requiem be a brief verbal farting of Fox News pundits, followed by the silence of eternity. May the rest of us deserve better fates.

December 30, 2006

Top Ten Articles Cross-Posted at Daily Kos

(This article was, of course, cross posted at Daily Kos)

Yesterday I listed the ten most read posts at E Pluribus Unum.

Today I'm listing my Top Ten "high-impact" diaries cross-posted at Daily Kos.

First, a word of explanation:

As you may know, there are thousands of diaries (posts) per day at Daily Kos. A tiny percentage become "recommended diaries" and are highlighted on a side-bar panel. An even tinier percentage are placed on the front page of the site. The vast majority of diaries come and go like waves lapping on the beach -- coming and going and being constantly replaced by new waves that also come and go. A "high-impact" diary represents the middle ground between a recommended diary and one of those waves on the beach. It is one of those diaries that gets the "optimum" combination of recommendations, comments and commenters. The system is somewhat arbitrary. Nonetheless, once a day, the high-impact diaries are recognized and share a brief moment of recognition.

These, then, are the diaries I posted at Daily Kos that recieved this recognition in 2006:

10. Connect dots:Cheney,Whittington=Bush lied under oath? (2/13)

8. (tie) Do the Democrats Have A Ground Game Like THIS One? (9/24)

8. (tie) (POLL) Dem Response To al-Maliki (7/25)

7. Fourth Generation Warfare: "You have to hunt like a network to defeat a network." (8/15)

6. NJ-04: Crum-believable! Colbert disses my ad for Carol Gay! (10/23)

5. Screw The Polls: Watch Prediction Markets (8/25)

4. Bush: Hiding a Serious Heart Condition? (8/23)

3. When Bush Taunts, Don't Defend: Attack Him Back HARD (6/29)

2. I'm an anti-war, yellow-dog Democrat -- and a Zionist, too (7/14)

And the highest impact diary I posted to Daily Kos in 2006 was...

1. Suskind: CIA knew "Osama backed Bush re-election" (6/21)

December 29, 2006

Top Posts of 2006

Without further ado (or waiting til Dec. 31), here are E Pluribus Unum's most-read posts of 2006:

10. Dad Gave Me The Keys (Mark Adams)

Wow, a real blog. How cool is this.
Mark's debut at EPU! Dude -- how cool are you?

9. Ohio Republicans, Offers That Can't Be Refused (Mark Adams)

In France, you can't even get away with taking a Viagra before a silly bike race. If they could prove that the Browns and the Cavaliers were "fixing" point spreads, or the Indians were throwing games, there'd be riots on Euclid Avenue. Push some inconvenient voters in the wrong direction, undermine our very democracy, and it's just business as usual.

8. Movie trailer mash-ups
Where else are you going to see the movie trailer for Brokeback To Future? OK, besides YouTube.com and every other blog and website on the Internets. All I can say is: God bless Google.

7. Marbury vs. Madison
I posted this in April, 2005 and it is still one of the most widely-read things I've ever written. It has bounced around in the top 50 sites (out of 175 thousand) at Google for the eponymous keyword phrase -- and it made a star out of our buddy Wince from Kansas:

Some would say God's Law is most high. Perhaps it is, as defined (for example) in the Bible. But we are not a nation that is governed by the church or the temple. Even if we were, all you have to do is look at the Talmud to understand that there is always more than one opinion about everything.

No, we are not a government ruled by the church. We are a government of the people, for the people and by the people. We follow a document that WE wrote.

Some would hope that God guided us in that ongoing endeavor. But if that is the case, it is also certainly true that God helps those who helps themselves.

It's hard to make your way through the difficult questions Wince, I know. But we all agreed, long ago, that this was a job for the people to do. We don't wait for God to judge these difficult cases for us.

6. What does leadership mean?

I think it was Chris Matthews who said voters respond most favorably to the candidate who can best articulate the following simple message: "Follow me!"
Bush did it better than Kerry and he won. The End.

5. Intelligent Design: “The sky is blue because God wants it that way.”
The title (and the post) is borrowed from Nobel Prize winner Eric Cornell. What more is there to add?

4. Commerce Committee to Vote on Net Neutrality Wednesday
This post contained the names and numbers of the everyone on the Senate Commerce Committee and I urged you to call them and tell them to support the Snowe/Dorgan amendment. Net Neutrality survived -- for now. Stay tuned.

3. Top Ten Chuck Norris Facts
Jeez, I didn't even write it. And/But this post ranks #9 out of 480 thousand sites listed on Google. I'm baffled...but endlessly amused (along with, apparently, the rest of the Internets):

A blind man once stepped on Chuck Norris' shoe. Chuck replied, "Don't you know who I am? I'm Chuck Norris!" The mere mention of his name cured this man blindness. Sadly, the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw was a fatal roundhouse kick delivered by Chuck Norris.

2. Foley Scandal: What's up with Rep. Rodney Alexander?
Major hat tip to Miss Julie, who asked the title question thereby inspiring this post, early in the Foley scandal.

And the #1 most widely-read post of the year...

1. Bush-Cheney Escape War Crimes Prosecution
Go ahead, click the link -- you'll notice that this post was "dugg" 854 times so far (and viewed nearly 4 thousand times at Google Video -- with a strange spike in traffic on the day after Christmas). It's Jack Cafferty breathing fire:

Under the War Crimes Act, violations of the Geneva Conventions are felonies, in some cases punishable by death. When the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Convention applied to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, President Bush and his boys were suddenly in big trouble.
I'll say. Senator Bill Frist, Congressman Dennis Hastert and their Republican stooges passed the Military Commission Act of 2006, destroying habeas corpus -- and allowing Bush-Cheney to get away without a scratch. This is a story that historians will be telling for decades to come.

P.S. Sometime soon, I promise to post E Pluribus Unum's Top 10 most widely viewed videos -- including the one of Stephen Colbert showing (and dissing) my ad for congressional candidate, Carol Gay.

December 21, 2006

All You Need To Know: AEI NeoCons Behind "Surge" Plan

by Mark Adams

There is no better reason to fully reject Chimpy's latest plan to "surge" tens of thousands of troops we don't have (and aren't about to pay for) into Iraq to save us from our catastro-phuck in the Middle East than to discover who supports it.

Bill Kristol and the ass-hats at the American Enterprise Institute.

(Note: never trust an organization like AEI who refuses to include a consonant in their abbreviation, or is pronounced like something Wiley E. Coyote would scream as he falls off yet another mountain cliff....AAaaaaaEeeeeeeeIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii............)

WASHINGTON - As official Washington breaks for the two-week Christmas-New Year's hiatus, it knows that the No 1 issue it will face on its return in early January is the White House's apparent "urge to surge" as many as 50,000 new troops into Iraq for up to two years in a last-ditch effort to claim what President George W Bush insists on calling "victory".

The plan, which was presented to Bush last week in a meeting with five national-defense specialists, including two associates of the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is designed to focus US military efforts on providing "security" for average Iraqi citizens against both the Sunni insurgency and Shi'ite militias that have, in the report's words, made Baghdad the "center of gravity of this conflict".

Drafted hastily - it currently exists only as a PowerPoint presentation - by its two main authors, AEI fellow Frederick Kagan and the former vice chief of staff of the US Army, General Jack Keane, as an alternative to the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) headed by former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton, it is called "Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq".

"Drafted hastily?!?" Great. Just unfuckingbelievably beautiful. Who the hell put these political dyslexics in charge?

We've been hearing about the grown-up from Daddy Bush's old team coming up with a plan to save Junior's ass for months, and these jerks are going to go with something drawn up on the back of an old draft deferral slip Cheney's been keeping in his scrap-book for 35 years.

I swear the Prez-nit-wit is actively trying to leave no doubt as to his legacy -- as the unquestioned, inarguably, absolutely worst President ever -- and that includes President of the Selena Fan Club, and President of Enron. He's had my vote as being worse than Buchannan or Harding as worst President of the USA for years now, but is Bush really trying to beat out the canibal Idi Amin as the worst President of anything, anywhere?

I wouldn't buy a wig from this guy if he were the President of the Hair Club For Men, even (in fact, especially) if he bought the company.

December 20, 2006

Bush: “We're not winning OR losing.” Translation: We're losing.

So Bush wants to increase the size of the armed services.

Just a quick thought: How are we supposed to do this? Isn't this the same armed services that was having so much trouble meeting its recruiting goals just a short time ago? Didn't they lower the targets AS WELL AS the, um, standards?

And another thing: I noticed today that Bush himself is now saying that we're not winning" but also adding "we're not losing."

Say what?

By now, it should be clear: insurgents win by not losing and we lose by not winning.

P.S. Who believes anything Bush says any more, anyway? He has zero credibility.

December 19, 2006

It's YOUR fault we're losing the war

Yeah, yeah, you -- YOU! -- get named Person of the Year by Time Magazine and what did you do? You lost the war.

Steven Colbert: American people, you should be ashamed! The president went and bit off a big piece of the Middle East and, like an eagle, brought it back to the nest and he's regurgitating it back into your mouths! Why won’t you swallow?!!

When history looks back at the actions of this president and the decisions he made regarding this war, you will go down as the most incompetent American people of all time. Deal with it!

December 18, 2006

Powell: “The active Army is about broken.”

Lots of trial balloons floating out there saying that Bush will lead the way forward in Iraq by sending more troops. Not sure what they'll do there -- secure Baghdad? That doesn't make sense because we don't have enough troops to do that. Secure part of Baghdad? Which part? And what does that mean anyway?

It's all moot because Gen. Powell has stepped into the breach to say that we have no troops to send.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you about that because… do we have the troops? You seem to be suggesting that we don’t.

COLIN POWELL: I’m suggesting that what General Shoemaker said the other day before a committee looking at the Reserve and National Guard, that the active army is about broken. General Shoemaker is absolutely right. All of my contacts within the army suggest that the army has a serious problem in the active force...

December 15, 2006

Advice Squad: The president's listening tour continues

Bush: "One fellow with an opinion suggested makin Osama bin Laden president of the world. I disagreed. Heard an interesting opinion from another fellow who wanted to blow up the moon with a rocket. I believe he's wrong."

December 14, 2006

Odds & Sods #28: The Contest Edition

  • Enter the contest to make Christopher Hitchens laugh!

  • Enter another contest to guess the father of Mary Cheney's baby.

  • OK, this isn't a contest, per se, but here goes...Attention Rosemary Esmay, Mark Adams and Double-Plus-Ungood:
    1. Grab the book closest to you.
    2. Open to page 123, go down to the 4th sentence.
    3. Post the text of the following 3 sentences on your blog.
    4. Name of the book and the author.
    5. Tag three people of your own.

    Here's my entry from page 123 of Robert Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas:
    The Bay of Pigs was a severe lesson. It taught the president, Bobby Kennedy later said, "that he could not substitute anybody else's judgement for his own." Lacerating himself for blindly following the CIA, the president repeatedly asked, "How could I have been so stupid?" (And, more wryly and ruefully, "Why couldn't this have happened to James Bond?")

  • U.S. uses Google for Iran intel? WTF?

  • Beware: A devil food is turning our kids into homosexuals!

  • Imagine a plane is sitting on a massive conveyor belt, as wide and as long as a runway. The conveyer belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Will you miss your connecting flight in Memphis or not?

  • President Bush is on a listening tour about Iraq? Why didn't he do this 4 years ago?

  • Speaking of Iraq, Simon Rosenberg makes a decent point:
    While so much of our discussion now is about the Iraqis taking more responsibility for their country, in practical terms turning over the reigns of power to the Iraqis means turning over the reigns of power to the region's Shiites. It also almost certainly means the strengthening of Iran, the revival of Al-Qaeda, a potential regional war and oil soaring way beyong $100 a barrel. If this is where we are headed our government better start having a big conversation with its people about the consequences of so many bad and niave decisions by the Republicans in charge of our government these past six years.
    Bush has pushed his latest Iraq address to the American people past Christmas and into 2007. What about the State of the Union? Shouldn't he just address it all then?

  • Barack Obama's middle name is (wait for it) Hussein. Will this be a factor in his (projected) candidacy for president?

  • Andrew Sullivan placed first in Right Wing News' competition for "Most Annoying Right-of-Center Blog" and second in the competition for "Most Annoying Left-of-Center Blog." Yeah, yeah, we know: he swings both ways. Ha.

  • Shouldn't Jack Black and Jack White do a remake of Ebony and Ivory?

(HT to Miss Julie)

December 13, 2006

Don With The Wind: Rumsfeld Packs It In

...and Jon Stewart lets him have it with both barrels.

"The Secretary's 6 year reign of condescension is drawing to a close. But before leaving office (in what can only be described as a huff) the Secretary took one last non-victory lap to Iraq. As always it was a surprise visit, to avoid the adoring mobs. I'm sure, though, as a precaution he wore his flower-proof vest."

December 08, 2006

ISG Report Aftermath: Where Are The Dems?

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

It is a real tragedy that no Democrat can/will lead on the issue of the Iraq war for at least another 12-18 months.

Here's why...

First of all, I understand that the Dems canNOT, should NOT, embrace/implement the ISG report. It is just a bag that they don't want to be left holding, you know?

I agree that the ISG report vindicates Jack Murtha. That said, the Dems have to brush off the ISG Report as redundant or even ridiculous. Seventy-nine recommendations? When you recommend that many things, you are essentially recommending nothing. It really is a CYA Report.

They'd be better off going back to Murtha and ignoring the ISG altogether. At least Murtha's declaration had the benefit of clarity.

And I also agree that the report is the "starting gun on the 2008 Presidential Race, where the best positioned candidate will probably be the one who comes up with the best solution to Iraq," but I don't agree that it is a good thing.

For example, have we got a clue yet who that is and what their solution is? Is it Clinton? Obama? Kerry? Biden? I'm not exactly inspired by any of them right now. Yes, Feingold puts his finger on the problem, but he's not running. And besides, I'm not hearing his solution.

Who will come up with the solution? And can we afford to wait for this candidate move into position at "the right time," i.e., during the '08 primaries?

Here's the thing: It seems like we are we going to have to wait until then before we get an inkling about how to get out of Iraq -- because we have ONE MORE ELECTION to conduct before the issue can "safely" be settled. Bush has no incentive to lead; and the Democrats are afraid of being blamed for whatever happens if they are the leaders.

I just don't see anyone, before then, who has the incentive, and/or the power and/or the cojones to stand up and lead the way out.

And if that is true, the most important question left, the only question left, is this one:

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

Odds & Sods #27: The Hollywood Edition

December 07, 2006

Odds & Sods #26: The Ladies in Red Edition

December 06, 2006

Odds & Sods #25: The Cut-and-Stay Edition

  • By the time you read this, the Iraq Survey Group will have released their report. But, really, is there any incentive for their recommendations to be taken seriously? Matt Taibbi:
    [W]ith the midterm elections over, and George Bush already a lame duck, the Iraq war is no longer an urgent problem to anyone on the Hill who matters...The Baker-Hamilton report is being praised for its cautious, sensible, bipartisan approach to the Iraq problem (Time magazine even called it "genius") but actually all it is is a tacit recognition of this pass-the-buck dynamic in Washington.

  • Al Gore has some advice for Bush: "[T]ry to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for [the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States] and instead recognize it’s not about [you]." Ouch.

  • Speaking of waking up to reality, the Wall Street Journal editorial page recently ran a short paean to John Bolton. [Sorry no link -- I got this out of the newspaper.] What a bunch of wankers:
    The announcement that Mr. Bolton will resign as US Ambassador to the UN...was no doubt cheered in Tehran, Damscus, Caracas, Pyongyang, and Christopher Dodd's Senate office.
    Right. Because it really is us against the rest of the world and if you're against John Bolton, you're a terrorist sympathiser. Whatever. Actually, what caught my eye and made me laugh was this statement about Bolton: "He has understood that the essence of realism is, or ought to be, to see the world as it is." Well then, this might come as a rude surprise to, say, George W. Bush. After all, the world changes all the time whereas we know that Bush's opinion of the world is as constant as the Northern star.

  • Holy crap -- Mary Cheney is pregnant. And, just to make things more interesting, she and her partner live in Virginia:
    The [newly enacted anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution] ensures that Mary's partner has no legal rights whatsoever in their child, or in what happens to Mary (or vice versa), such as if one partner has to go the hospital, the other can't visit. The law may even nullify any wills that Mary and Heather write regarding each other...

December 02, 2006

Odds & Sods #22: The Morning-After-Cherry-Nyquil Edition

December 01, 2006

Odds & Sods #21: The Bigfoot Edition

  • I was in Chicago Tues-Thurs and flew out yesterday morning just ahead of that monster storm. I understand 265 flights were canceled at O'Hare alone. It was cold in Baton Rouge last night too -- we got hit by the same cold front and the temp this morning just after sun-up was 40 degrees.

  • There are a few speakers who I always want to listen to if I have the chance, e.g., Robert Reich, Mario Cuomo, Arianna Huffington, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Clinton, Camille Paglia, Newt Gingrich and Kristina Vanden Heuvel are a just a few off the top of my head. I don't always agree with them and often I am diametrically opposed to their positions; but they are always interesting, articulate and challenging. David Gergen is also in that group.

  • Speaking of a collection of "Bigfoots," the Baker Commission's recommendations are due out next week and can I tell you that I have SO moved on in my mind to other stuff. To be blunt, it sounds like they've come up with a solution that is designed to please everyone but will, in fact, piss everyone off to one degree or another. Besides which, Maliki has already said that he wants the US to begin pulling out of Iraq by next summer -- and "don't let the door hit you in the butt yadda yadda yadda."

  • Speaking of Maliki, you had to laugh reading the Hadley Memo's description of the Iraqi leader as someone who is the captive of "a small circle" of advisors who are "coloring his actions and his interpretations of reality." Ouch!

  • Speaking of hypocritical bigfoots, it seems that Gov. Mitt Romney hired illegal immigrants to do landscaping at his private home.
    Asked by a reporter yesterday about his use of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, Romney, who was hosting the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, said, "Aw, geez," and walked away.
    Brilliant comeback, Governor!

  • At least Romney's lame comment was brief, unlike the logorrhea that Dennis Prager, et. al, suffer from. It seems that they're upset that -- wait for it -- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) wants to be sworn into office using a copy of the Koran and not the Bible!. Prager & Co. remind me of what Lincoln said about an acquaintance: "He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know." [P.S. Did you know that Congressmen are routinely sworn in without resting their left hand on any book at all?]

  • Crikey -- first we hear that two British Airways planes showed traces of radioactivity and now ABC News is reporting that an Italian security expert who met that Russian ex-spy has tested positive for a radioactive substance. Quick! Turn out the lights! You know you're going to have a bad day if you glow in the dark.

  • Speaking of medical tests for bigfoots, I hear that Sen. Obama will publicly be tested for AIDS. Let's see Hillary top that!

  • Speaking of bigfoots running for president, Kerry wants everyone to forget the botched joke and focus on serious stuff. Good luck on that, Senator. Maybe you should call Howard Dean for advice on just exactly how that works.

November 28, 2006

Odds & Sods #20

  • Newt Gingrich has a new theme for Iraq: "Victory or Death." Jaysus, that sounds like something out of a gladiator movie. Nonetheless, he invokes George Washington at Valley Forge with it. A bit of advice: if he wants to refer to the Founders, why not quote Patrick Henry instead -- "Give me liberty or give me death." No, wait, can't have that -- warrantless wiretapping and the rest of the president's agenda would be flushed down the toilet.

  • Is there anything more totally pointless than NBC's self-aggrandizing announcement that Iraq is now in the midst of a "civil war?" I guess if your memory is long enough, you can remember when the Vietnam war was described that way -- the conclusion being that we had no business getting in the middle of their argument. So maybe that's the import of this declaration. That said, aren't Matt Lauer and Brian Williams showing up kind of late to the party? In reality this just emphasizes what most of us already know: that the words "NBC News" have now officially become an oxymoron.

  • It's official: the Iraq war has now gone on longer than WWII. That war, of course, was fought by draftees, this one by volunteers. In our history, are there any other wars, fought by an all-volunteer army, that lasted this long? Could you count the Revolution in that select group? Correct me if I'm wrong.

November 27, 2006

Odds & Sods #19: Dems Get Their Republican Lame Ducks In A Row

  • The Post has a piece about how Bush can still escape being useless for the next two years. His staff is studying the Clinton (1994) and Reagan (1986) examples. But Leon Panetta gets his two cents in as well:
    "He really has to make a fundamental decision, and if he hasn't made it by now, it may be too late," said Leon E. Panetta, who was Clinton's chief of staff in 1994 and now serves on a bipartisan commission on Iraq. "He has to decide whether he's going to be willing to sit down with the Democratic leadership and cut deals and get things done. And he has to decide whether Iraq is going to be his whole legacy, good or bad, or whether he wants to get other things done."
    He also has to decide (if such a thing is possible) what role "Dick" Cheney will have in these last two years. It's Cheney who wants to go "full speed ahead" on Iraq; it's Cheney who wants to play X-treme hardball with judicial nominees and so forth.

    Lastly, while we're studying history, let's not forget to study Lyndon Johnson and the midterms of 1966 when the Vietnam war was falling out of favor and the Dems lost 47 seats making it impossible for Johnson to pass any additional Great Society legislation. Two years later, Johnson essentially resigned his office.

  • The quote from Leon Panetta reminds me that the Baker/Hamilton Commission will be coming out with their recommendations soon. And it looks like the fix is in:
    By the time the commission publishes a report it will have worked eight months coming up with a verbose, “centrist” way to say “Stay the course.”

  • Taking bets: Bush's first veto of legislation from the Dem-controlled Congress will be on: (a) Spending, (b) Foreign policy, (c) A social issue, (d) Intelligence.

  • Getting their ducks in a row: On Tuesday, December 5, House Democrats hear a presentation on Iraq from Dr. Z. Brzezinski, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Major General John Batiste, among others. The next day, they'll hear a presentation on the economy by former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin.

  • Out of the Running? Rep. Alcee Hastings is losing hope that he'll be named chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. But that doesn't mean that Rep. Jane Harman gets the nod; Pelosi is leaning toward a compromise candidate: Rep. Silvestre Reyes, "a quiet Texas lawmaker and former Border Patrol official who opposed the Iraq war from the outset." He gets bonus points for being a member of the so-far-chairless Hispanic Caucus.

November 21, 2006

Odds & Sods #17

Bush 43 now even less popular than his pop, an Iraqi comedian is among the latest casualties, a cartoon that will make you wince, Robert Reich takes a flyer at deciphering McCain, and a plea for better blog headlines.

  • Poll: "More Americans prefer Bush's father." Jaysus -- how bad do you have to be to rank below Bush 41? And, in a related note, what on earth was Jeb Bush thinking?

  • Walid Hassan was a rare individual. He was an Iraqi comedian and broadcaster in a country where speaking out can get you in trouble. He made fun of the fallout from the war -- the lack of safety and security, the blackouts, the gas lines, the corrupt politicians. People would stop him on the street and tell him their stories; Walid would then work them into his act. He was beloved. Now he's dead, his bullet-riddled body found on the street.

  • You might have to be "of a certain age" to get this cartoon, but here it is anyway. Click to see a larger version.

  • Robert Reich thinks he's figured out John McCain's real plan for Iraq. In brief: stand for something that NO ONE wants or thinks can happen, e.g., more troops, then when Iraq collapses simply say, "if you'd listened to me we wouldn't be in this fix." Then he (and he alone -- no Dems, please) can remain clean in 2008. Does this mean the Dems have to be for more troops? No. But it does mean that they should be careful not to buy into the Baker Commission's solution -- simply because then THEY'LL be left holding the bag. They'll own it going into 2008.

  • I wish more bloggers (starting with me) would take the time to learn how to write great headlines. It would make reading blogs more rewarding because you could zero in on the articles that had information in them that was of interest to you and leave the rest unread.

November 19, 2006

Odds & Sods #14

O.J. and Kissinger speak, the president ditches his turban, and TomKat may not realllllllly be married after all -- not that there's anything wrong with that. And the game of the century lived up to the hype.

  • Could O.J. Go to Court Again? If he did it, here's what might happen.

  • It used to be a truism that the president must never -- ever! -- be allowed to pose for pictures in any kind of funny hat. That said, look for Bush and the other world leaders to play dress-up for the cameras at the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference wearing traditional Vietnamese outfits called ao dai ("ow zai") complete with turbans -- please God! (click for larger picture, umbrella optional)

  • ...and, right on cue but sans the turbans, here they are!

  • Speaking of Vietnam, Kissinger speaks: "No Military Victory in Iraq"

  • Hollywood's non-wedding of the century: Cruise and Holmes are joined in make-believe holy matrimony? That reminds me: privatize marriage!

  • Ohio State beats Michigan, 42-39 in what we used to call "a barn-burner." If you turned it off at half-time, you missed a whole lot of football! Woody and Bo would have hated the game plan, but not the effort.

November 16, 2006

Political Odds & Sods, Thursday afternoon

  • Hoyer beats Murtha. Honestly I'm thrilled that there is a Democratic Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. The rest is detail. As for the traditional media calling it "a setback for Pelosi," get a life -- she's the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives. So far, so good. [P.S. Apparently, the Blue Dogs are not happy with Pelosi's pick, Alcee Hastings, for the Intelligence Committee.]

  • Rahm and Dean shake hands and call it a day. And Carville? Not so much.

  • I saw the headline about the University of California police shooting a student with a taser and ignored it. Why borrow trouble, you know? Then, after seeing it several more times, I finally watched the cellphone video. Honestly, there isn't much to see but, my God, the audio alone is profoundly disturbing. What I don't get is why they tased him, again and again, once he was on the ground. If all they wanted was to take him away, they should have simply cuffed him and dragged him off after the first taser brought him down.

  • The Times wrings its hands in despair over Iraq:
    ...[W]e are sure that even a few weeks more of drift and confusion will guarantee more chaos and suffering once American troops leave. Voters gave the Democrats the floor — and are now waiting to hear what they have to say.
    That's rich -- the Times went along for years while Bush's disastrous Iraq policy unfolded; now that the voters have thrown those bums out of Congress, the editors demand that the Democrats do something about it NOW, or else.

  • Arianna's on a Time Magazine panel to discuss their upcoming Person of the Year issue. Her top pick is Murtha; but her fallback picks are more interesting, among them Stewart & Colbert.

  • Sen. Dodd (D-CT) introduced legislation on Thursday to amend the horrific Military Commissions Act, restoring habeas corpus, narrowing the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant," limiting the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions, barring the use of information obtained through coercion, and more. Not a moment too soon.

  • I grew up in Michigan during the years that George Romney was the governor (and a one-time presidential aspirant). So I'm familiar with Romney family mojo. That said, I didn't take Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations seriously until I read today that it was Romney's Bain Capital group that was one of the parties that bought Clear Channel Communications for a cool $19 billion. Holy crap! Most candidates just buy ad time. Romney bought an advertising empire.

November 13, 2006

Who lost Iraq?

The Iraq Study Group is meeting with the president as I write this. Bloggers and pundits are speculating on what Baker and Hamilton will recommend. From a political standpoint they'll try to find some sort of recommendation that will not smell like "stay the course," nor "cut and run." In other words, they'll probably declare victory and call for the boys to come home.

But given what we were told we would accomplish when the we started this war, anything short of "total victory" will be judged a defeat for America. So the question then becomes: who lost Iraq? Will historians say that it was Bush and his war cabinet? Or will it be the congressional Democrats who are left holding the bag? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid need to be giving this some serious consideration right now. Republicans and their noise machine would like nothing more to get out from under this debacle ASAP. In so doing, Republicans will underscore their contention that Democrats are weak, Democrats hate the military, Democrats stabbed the nation in the back.

Josh Manchester, in a piece called Why Intellectuals Love Defeat, says that liberals, e.g., James Carroll, believe that "the United States is deserving of defeat, and through some sort of mental gymnastics, that defeat is honorable, because it smacked of hubris to ever have fought in the first place." Manchester continues:

I contend instead that the ultimate dishonor will be to leave hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of Iraqis to violent deaths; and that this is far too large a price to pay for Mr. Carroll to feel better.
Well, never mind that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have already died and for what? For Bush to avoid the label of "loser."

There's more:

In his book The Culture of Defeat, the German scholar Wolfgang Schivelbusch described the stages of defeat through which nations pass upon losing a large war. He examined the South's loss of the Confederacy, the French loss in the Franco-Prussian War, and the German loss in World War I. He saw similar patterns in how their national cultures dealt with defeat: a "dreamland"-like state; then an awakening to the magnitude of the loss; then a call that the winning side used "unsoldierly" techniques or equipment; and next the stage of seeing the nation as being a loser in battle, but a winner in spirit...The only problem for those such as Mr. Carroll is that we have not yet lost.
Jeez -- talk about a "dreamland"-like state.

That said, I lived through the Vietnam war years (I even had a draft lottery number) and I don't recall anything along the lines described by Schivelbusch and subscribed to by Manchester. If anything it sounds more like the train of thought followed by the South after the Civil War.

Manchester, again:

Like it or not, this mentality of permanent defeat plays a large part in the Democratic Party. It is now up to President Bush and the new Democratic congressional leadership to see that it does not become dominant.
What condescending BS. Bush and the rubber-stamp Republican Congress own Iraq. Whatever has happened there so far has happened on their watch.
How to do so? A charm offensive is not quite what is necessary. Instead, perhaps a combination of sobering events that will impress upon Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid the gravity of our current situation would do the trick. Why not invite both Pelosi and Reid to the White House every morning until the new Congress is sworn in - and ask them to listen with the President to his Presidential Daily Brief, describing what Al Qaeda has cooked up of late? Or, why not invite them along with the President to one of his private sessions with the families of those who have paid the ultimate price overseas? Speaking of those overseas whose lives hang upon American policy, Pelosi and Reid could be participants in the next conference call that Bush has with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.
Presidenting is hard!

Seriously, leave Pelosi and Reid out of it -- they have their own jobs to do. Fact is, we elected one man, George W. Bush, to be president. If he isn't up to the job, he should resign.

November 09, 2006

Democrats Turned War Into an Ally

It is somewhat ironic that Rahm Emmanuel is being recognized as the rocket-scientist who figured out how to parlay Iraq war fatigue and resistence into a new Democratic Congressional majority. In reality, Emmanuel resisted talking about Iraq for the longest time, instead focusing on domestic politics. It was Howard Dean who talked early and often about what a disaster the war was. And, truth be told, he had to fight Emmanuel every inch of the way to keep that train of thought and deed going.

I'm just saying.

November 04, 2006

The Saddam Hussein Verdict: 1992 Los Angeles Riots all over again?

Shortly after you read this, the verdict in Saddam's trial will have been announced. I'll leave it to others to speculate as to whether or not the timing of this event was set by the US in order to exert maximum leverage on the midterm elections. If that is so, then I wonder if the rocket scientists in the White House considered that the aftermath may not, in fact, be favorable to the US, or more specifically, to the Republican Party that designed, implemented and managed this disastrous war in Iraq.

Here's what I mean by that:

On one hand, I suppose you might imagine that Bush's brain trust thought that it would be a good thing for people to be reminded of what a butcher Saddam really was. Perhaps Karl Rove thought that if people saw his (Saddam's) ugly mug on TV Sunday and Monday, they'd vote for the Republicans in gratitude for"bringing Saddam to justice."

Maybe so. But sometimes this kind of thing takes on a life of its own.

Consider this:

What if the image on TV Sunday morning isn't of Saddam in the dock, but, instead, Baghdad ablaze like the 1992 riots in Los Angeles after the verdict in the Rodney King police brutality verdict was announced?

Do you think anyone planned for that possibility?

November 03, 2006

Amnesia: When you awake, you will be free.

I made the video, David Byrne made the music. Hope you like it -- tell me what you think.

Amnesia (David Byrne)

Peace on earth, soon we will be
Where nothing worries us
Lazy days, cool is the breeze
Across the universe

Armies of soldiers are sleeping tonight
And moonlight is kissing their eyes

When you awake you will be free
I'll be your lullaby

Continue reading "Amnesia: When you awake, you will be free." »

November 01, 2006

Boehner Blames Troops, Not Rumsfeld, For Iraq Debacle

by Mark Adams

Move over Mean Jean.  There's another congressman who wants to take your place as the stupidest representative to ever insult a G.I.

Demotion to Minority Leader isn't enough for this embarrassment to all of Ohio, or even losing his leadership position to become a backbencher (which he rightly deserves).  He shouldn't ever get elected dog catcher again.

GOP HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER JOHN BOEHNER: Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

WOLF BLITZER: But he's in charge of the military.

BOEHNER: But the fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president.

If this will be known as the year of the Democratic Tsunami.  2008 should be the Great GOP Purge if this guy remains the face of the Republican Party leadership.

This wasn't a blown punch line. This guy is seriously looking for someone, anyone to blame -- even if it's the brave men and women he and his cronies put in harms way.  He's not insulting to the military, he's dangerous.

Leave No Soldier Behind

by Mark Adams

If you don't study, work hard in school, get good grades, when you grow up to be president you're certain to disgrace your nation.

The Paper of Record:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki demanded the removal of American checkpoints from the streets of Baghdad on Tuesday, in what appeared to be his latest and boldest gambit in an increasingly tense struggle for more independence from his American protectors.

Mr. Maliki’s public declaration seemed at first to catch American commanders off guard. But by nightfall, American troops had abandoned all the positions in eastern and central Baghdad that they had set up last week with Iraqi forces as part of a search for a missing American soldier. The checkpoints had snarled traffic and disrupted daily life and commerce throughout the eastern part of the city.

Hey, I get it.  It was a choice between traffic jams ... or securing the capital and finding our lost GI.  That used to be a no-brainer in the quaint old days of a more chivalrous era.

Like four years ago ... Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld 9/20/2002:

"Throughout the history of our nation, we have been blessed by heroes willing to sacrifice their freedom to protect and defend our own.  It is still so today.  In foreign lands and on far away seas, courageous military men and women are fighting to defend our country's freedom.

"They do so knowing that if they should fall on the field of battle, should they be captured or lost, we will do everything in our power to find them and to bring them home,"  That is our pledge to them and to you.

The Carpetbagger makes the point that, "Maliki doesn't have 'command' over U.S. troops, but our soldiers abandoned all the positions in eastern and central Baghdad they had set up just as soon Iraqis told them to."

This happens under the watch of a President who promised exactly the opposite.

Back when we had Beloved Leader the Swaggerer he castigated the Clinton Adminstration for allowing NATO commanders to have US Forces under their command. "Never Happen under my watch" said he.

Dishonorable?  Too mild a word if you ask me.  It's criminal, and Dem Vet shows us just where in the Code of Conduct we find the mandate that we do not leave soldiers behind, a Code that earned many a hero more than just a Button, but a premature trip to Arlington as well.  Heros who, unlike the cretins running the show, knew the meaning of the words, "Honor, Duty, Code"

And now you know why they want to make Kerry a campaign issue, because the truth of the war is something they cannot handle.

Yes, this election is indeed about Iraq, and now it's not just the lies that got us there or the incompetence that turned it into such chaos we can't get out, or the war crimes, or corruption -- but now it's the cowardice of the 1600 crew too.

Do you really need any more proof than this:  Bush wants Rumsfeld, Cheney for rest of term - USATODAY.com

(Video) Because of Iraq

VoteVets is running this powerful ad now:

Because of Iraq, Osama bin Laden is still a threat.
Because of Iraq, our military is spread too thin.
Because of Iraq, there are more terrorists in the world.
Because of Iraq, America is less secure.

So if you see commercials telling you to be afraid of terrorism, remember: It's because of Iraq.

It's about Iraq, stupid (part deux)

Iraq is the central issue in this election and the choice is simple: if you think Iraq is going fine, if you want to stay the course, then vote for the Republicans. But if you think we need to change direction, then vote for the Democrats.

This election is your last chance to speak up and be heard -- until 2008.

Do you want to let things ride until then? Or do you think it is time to make a course correction?

Fact is, there are no easy solutions left. But the Democrats will (at least) ask the hard questions and try to find the best solution. On the other hand, the Republicans will just continue to be a rubber stamp for the the Bush administration's failed policies.

It's about Iraq, stupid

At this point, Kerry should get off the stage as quickly and as gracefully as possible. The longer he's in the news-cycle, the more this becomes about him. And this is NOT about him.

It's about Iraq, stupid.

So Kerry should cede the spotlight to the one man who can guarantee victory for the Democrats on November 7.

That man is George W. Bush.

For some unknown reason (and to the great frustration of his own party's candidates), the president continues to talk about victory in Iraq at this late date in the campaign. And/But instead of going back to his office and at least look like he's trying to win that war, he insists on stumping before crowds of Bush loyalists in places like Georgia. And/But in doing so, he keeps alive the one issue that hurts his party and helps the Democrats. He is either unable or unwilling to accept what this election is all about. Democrats, to their credit, HAVE figured it out:

It's about Iraq, stupid.

Democrats know that the closing argument for this campaign is simple: if you like the way things are going in Iraq, vote for the Republicans. But if you feel that we need a change of direction, vote for the Democrats.

Now, like most things in life, it isn't that simple. But, for once, the Democrats understand that when it comes to politics, most voters will only take the time to glance at a snapshot, not the whole movie.

cheerleader.jpgNow maybe Bush is reverting to his former role as a high school cheerleader. Maybe he sees his role as Morale-Builder-In-Chief. But even if Osama is captured -- or delivers another jihad-video -- on November 3, it won't change what this election is about:

It's about Iraq, stupid.

Bush is missing what everyone else sees: that every day we stay in Iraq, two outcomes will become more and more likely. Both outcomes are mutually reinforcing. Both outcomes are bad for Iraq. Both outcomes are bad for the US. Both outcomes lead to defeat in the Iraq war for the US.

It's about Iraq, stupid and Iraq is all about this, now:

  1. Life is going from bad to worse for the Iraqis.
  2. An anti-US Iraqi government is gaining in strength and momentum.
Over twenty thousand US casualties for that?

And/But still, Bush doesn't get it. Or maybe he does and he thinks that being a cheerleader will turn it around. I don't know anymore what he thinks and, really, I don't care. It doesn't matter what he says -- it only matters what he does.

And by staying the course in Iraq, by insisting that victory is around the corner, saying that the insurgency is in its last throes, and/or by bashing Kerry, by saying that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for the terrorists, he hurts the Republicans and he helps the Democrats.

He doesn't get it. He doesn't get that it really IS about Iraq, stupid.

October 31, 2006

Kerry won't take any crap from the White House

Where was this John Kerry two years ago?
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."
Now you can argue all you want about whether this is disrespectful to volunteer servicemen; I don't happen to think it was.

What you can't deny is that, for many (if not most) successful college graduates, the armed services are not going to be the first choice. How could it be, if they look around and see what's happening in Iraq?

That didn't stop that preening poodle, Tony Snow, from yapping:

"Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who’ve given their lives in this...This is an absolute insult."
An insult? Compared to what -- sending our fighting men into battle (and keeping them there) based on a lie?

Kerry's response:

"This is the classic GOP playbook...I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium."
No kidding. This White House only cares about servicemen and veterans if they agree with Bush-Cheney. If not, they'll be attacked and smeared at every turn.

Good for John Kerry.

October 26, 2006

NOT Stay The Course

by Mark Adams

Did you get the memo?  Rummy didn't, and boy is he pissed about it.

Now if you want to play semantic games, like the new and improved -- but exactly the same -- not changing our strategy but only adjusting tactics which is not "stay the course" because we've never been about "stay the course" ... so we're not changing anything when we change the slogan away from "stay the course" ... uh, erm ... be my guest.

Cheeze Whiz. We're fighting barbarians with a fucking scrabble board.

With all due apologies to Buddy Holly....

I wanna tell you how it's gonna be,
Believe what you hear, not what you see.
I'm gonna say it until I'm horse,
You know my plan's not stay the course.

You know my plan's not stay the course.  Not stay the course!

My plan is bigger than new Humvee,
But what it is you'll just wait and see,
You think the plan has got to be real,
Reality is not what I deal.

I'm gonna say it until I'm horse,
You know my plan's not stay the course.

You know my plan's not stay the course.  Not stay the course!
Not stay the course!
Not stay the course!
Not stay the course!
Not stay the course!

What voters expect (and want) the Democrats to do if they take Congress

In an eye-opening survey, Gallup has found that voters expect (and would approve of) Democrats doing the following things if they take over Congress on November 7:

  • Set a time-table for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq
  • Increase the minimum wage
  • Pass legislation to provide healthcare to those who do not have it
  • Allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from other countries
Similarly, voters do NOT expect Democrats to do the following, nor would they approve if they did:
  • Repeal the Patriot Act
  • Take steps to make same-sex marriages legal
  • Cut back on efforts to fight terrorism
Voters expect Democrats to do the following, but they do NOT approve of these actions:
  • Reject most of Bush's nominations for federal judges
  • Increase federal income taxes.
Lastly, voters do NOT expect Democrats to do the following, but would approve if they did:
  • Implement all anti-terror recommendations made by the 9/11 commission.
Bonus round: Voters expect Democrats to do the following and are evenly split on whether they approve/disapprove:
  • Conduct major investigations of the Bush administration.
Here's what Democrats have said they would do in the first 100 hours of a Democratic House of Representatives:
  • Raise the minimum wage
  • Repeal the Medicare legislation that forbids the government from negotiating with drug companies for lower prices
  • Replenishing student loan programs
  • Fund stem cell research
  • Implement those recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission that have thus far languished.
And my Republican friends tell me that they expect Democrats to do the following things (and that they do NOT approve):
  • Make George W. Bush's life a ghastly, living hell
  • Abolish Christmas
  • Provide unlimited nights and weekends for terrorists using cellphones overseas.
  • Install Osama bin Laden as Commissioner of Baseball

October 25, 2006

Iraq: Stay The Course?

If you think our country is on the wrong track, if you think things are going fine in Iraq, then vote Republican because they'll stay the course.

But if you think we need a change of direction, then vote for the Democrats on Nov. 7.

October Surprise: War Turns Even Deadlier in Iraq

Could it be that the worsening situation in Iraq becomes the main story -- the October Surprise -- between now and November 7?:

BAGHDAD, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The significant surge of violence in Iraq sweeping U.S. personnel, Iraqi armed forces and civilians has made October the deadliest for Americans in Iraq.

The U.S. army announced Wednesday the death of four U.S. Marines, bringing to at least 87 the number of American personnel killed in Iraq this month.

It seems predictable that the Republicans will try to use this news to scare people (including Democratic Congressional candidates) into "staying the course," saying that if we turn things over to the Democrats, things will get EVEN WORSE in Iraq. As if.

Problem is, the president has abandoned "stay the course," pretending like he was never for it all along.

And Democrats? Our message should be the same: if you are happy with the way things are going in Iraq, then vote for the Republicans -- they'll stay the course and you'll get more of the same. But if you've had enough, if you think we need to change course, then vote for the Democrats on Nov. 7.

October 22, 2006

Bush, Flip-flopper tells a whopper: Stay the course ... or not? Here's proof

Here's Bush saying he's never been "stay the course" and then a video compilation of all the times he (and other Republicans) have trumpeted that lame "policy."


October 19, 2006

Bush on the "Jihadist equivalent" of the Tet Offensive

STEPHANOPOULOS: Tom Friedman wrote in the New York Times this morning that what we might be seeing now is the Iraqi equivalent of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968. Tony Snow this morning said, "He may be right." Do you agree?

BUSH: He could be right. There's certainly a stepped up level of violence, and we're heading into an election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But what's your gut tell you?

BUSH: George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we'd leave. And the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here's how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they're trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw

Unbelievable. Where do I start?

Continue reading "Bush on the "Jihadist equivalent" of the Tet Offensive" »

October 18, 2006

Since 2003, 1 out of every 40 Iraqis have been killed by war-related causes

Why won't the traditional media talk more about this?

October 14, 2006

Baker Panel Rules Out Iraq Victory

Back in March, it came out that Congress had allocated $1.3 million to form the Iraq Study group co-chaired by Bush 41 fixture James Baker and 9/11Commission Chair Lee Hamilton. Other members included former CIA director Robert Gates, Rudy Giuliani, former Sen. Alan Simpson, former Clinton confidants Leon Panetta & Vernon Jordan, former SecState William Perry, former Sen. Charles Robb, and a player to be named later. [Note: Seriously, who did that turn out to be?]

Now, a draft of their report has been leaked to the New York Sun and it doesn't sound like they think we can win that war.

Blame it on Panetta and Jordan!

UPDATE: Wasn't the remaining player going to be Sanda Day O'Connor?

October 13, 2006

Cleland: "It's al-Qaeda, Stupid."

Wolf Blitzer moderates a debate between former Democratic Senator/war hero Max Cleland and the preposterously high-voiced Terry Jeffrey, editor of Human Events. Cleland is on fire:


JEFFREY: "I believe that were it not for the public dissatisfaction with what's going on in Iraq, the Democrats would have no chance at this time of winning in November. However now, I think they have a very real chance."

CLELAND: "If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his rear end. This has been a disaster - not just for the Republicans - for the country. We are four years into this war and we've lost a lot of fine young Americans there. It's time to redepoy our forces and bring the Guard and Reserve home and refocus on the real enemy. It is Al Qaeda stupid and this crash in New York should just remind us that it's been five years since 9/11. And if we don't get it now - that it's Al Qaeda stupid - we should be sent up the creek."

October 06, 2006

Warner: All Options On The Table

by Mark Adams X-Posted at D-KOS

How many times have we heard it?  Whether it was an explicit threat to a dictator that we would engage in preventive war, or the implicit threat that we're not afraid to test the latest "almost nuke" bunker-busting air-fuel penetrators in Iran, or the real thing in North Korea -- Washington has always maintained that it's best for the President to maintain the flexibility to always be able to state: "All Options Are On The Table."

Unfortunately, the unimaginative Neander-Con cabal who have highjacked our foreign policy only view this doctrine in one direction: escalation of military force to the point of total annihilation.

I don't believe that the idea of military flexibility is flawed.  It's use by the imperialist "unitary executive", sadly, is short-sighted.

Miraculously, some of the grown-ups in the GOP have remembered how the game really should be played.

Continue reading "Warner: All Options On The Table" »

October 01, 2006

October Surprise? Here's what the Republicans are up against (so far)

(Video included below)
(Cross posted to Daily Kos)

If I were a Democratic challenger for Congress, I'd use any (or all) of the following issues to beat my Republican opponent like a rented mule.

In no particular order:

The formula is simple:
  1. Bush is atrocious
  2. The Republican incumbent IS Bush
  3. So the Republican incumbent is atrocious.
  4. Had enough? Then vote for change, vote Democratic.


September 30, 2006

Bush-Cheney Escape War Crimes Prosecution


Continue reading "Bush-Cheney Escape War Crimes Prosecution" »

September 29, 2006

Bombshell Book: “Has Bush Lost Control Of Iraq?”

The video is short -- just 5 minutes. Watch the whole thing, then share it with your friends. Just click the SHARE button (lower right corner of video screen) and insert the appropriate email addresses.

Don't wait -- the election is less than 40 days off. If Bush and the Republicans hold onto their majority, God only knows what's in store for this country over the next two years.

This is what people will be discussing for the next 7 days, at least...

Watch it now and then share it with your friends. Time is tight -- the election is almost on top of us. Get the word out: Vote Democratic and stop Bush before it is too late.

NBC News:

Bob Woodward's new book, State of Denial, accuses US officials of deliberately trying to mislead the public about the worsening state of the war in Iraq.

Bob Woodward: There is public and then there is private. But what did they do with the private? They stamped it secret. No one is supposed to know. Why is that secret?

The book, to be released Monday, also claims senior US officials in Iraq urgently called for more troops as early as September, 2003 to contain the growing insurgency. But they were ignored -- the assessments considered too pessimistic.

Woodward: The insurgents know what they're doing, the level of violence and how effective they are.

Who doesn't know? The American public.

Continue reading "Bombshell Book: “Has Bush Lost Control Of Iraq?”" »

September 27, 2006

Um, Bush is not an idiot?

my-pet-goat.jpgI think that's what Bush loyalists are thinking as evidenced by their "non-partisan" analysis and discussion of the PDB of August, 2001 and Bush's reaction (translation: "none") to it.

It would be more entertaining (and insightful perhaps) to read their take on Bush's "The Pet Goat" moment, less than 5 weeks later, when the venue was different but the reaction was the same: nothing.

Anyone?

September 26, 2006

Olbermann blasts Bush and Fox News


Keith Olbermann:

The nation's freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as Al-Qaeda; the nation's "marketplace of ideas" is being poisoned, by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would've quit.

Nonetheless....

...the headline is this: Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done, in five years. He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

Continue reading "Olbermann blasts Bush and Fox News" »

September 14, 2006

Sen. Landrieu: “America is tired of the wrongheaded and boneheaded leadership...”

I've not always been in Mary Landrieu's cheering section. I haven't cared for her membership in the bogus "Gang of 14" or her silence while the Feds shafted New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But she did stand up today and say what needs to be said about the all-encompassing issue of the war in Iraq. Good for her.

September 12, 2006

Writing off Iraq

Bush:

The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.
So much for Anbar Province.

Keith Olbermann on Bush and 9/11

(Click to watch video)

CountDown-SpecialComment-Bush-911_0001.jpg

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government, by its critics.

It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.

They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused; as appeasers; as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."

They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken... a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated Al-Qaeda as much as we did.

The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had "something to do" with 9/11, is "lying by implication."

The impolite phrase, is "impeachable offense."

September 04, 2006

Sack Rumsfeld Now

rumsfeld-chamberlain.jpgHonestly -- did he think we wouldn't remember?

Frank Rich:

Mr. Rumsfeld didn't go to Baghdad in 1983 to tour the museum. Then a private citizen, he had been dispatched as an emissary by the Reagan administration, which sought to align itself with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam was already a notorious thug. Well before Mr. Rumsfeld's trip, Amnesty International had reported the dictator's use of torture -- "beating, burning, sexual abuse and the infliction of electric shocks" -- on hundreds of political prisoners. Dozens more had been summarily executed or had "disappeared." American intelligence agencies knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons to gas both Iraqi Kurds and Iranians.

According to declassified State Department memos detailing Mr. Rumsfeld's Baghdad meetings, the American visitor never raised the subject of these crimes with his host. (Mr. Rumsfeld has since claimed otherwise, but that is not supported by the documents, which can be viewed online at George Washington University's National Security Archive.) Within a year of his visit, the American mission was accomplished: Iraq and the United States resumed diplomatic relations for the first time since Iraq had severed them in 1967 in protest of American backing of Israel in the Six-Day War.

Five years ago, the world was with us. Not anymore.

September 01, 2006

Appeasment

by Mark Adams
The modern equivalent of Neville Chamberlain at Munich:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

When you coddle madmen, you end up paying a terrible price.

Field Marshall von Rumsfeld's insulting screed was a call to arms for the Liberal Blogtopians, editorial writers and Keith Olbermann. He likened those who disagreed with him as facilitators of death and destruction -- appeasers in the same manner as those who watched silently as Adolph Hitler built a military machine destined to destroy most of Europe

Despicable doesn't begin to cover it.

The right to dissent is the essence of the very freedoms this administration claims we are hated for possessing. Our beloved Defense Secretary believes that disagreement is not a democratic excersize in free speech, but appeasment of terrorists as bad as bowing down to a dictator.

And for the record, Rummy was appearing with his buddy Saddam Hussein after the US government confirmed he was gassing Kurds daily with chemical weapons he purchased from us -- the crime for which he is now on trial.

This photo, and the video should become as ubiquitous as flowers in spring.

UPDATED VIDEO LINK

UPDATE 2: READ FRANK RICH at Mother Jones!

Iraq and the Rules

by Mark Adams, or someone who writes a lot like me.

Hey, did you hear the good news?  We've made so much progress in Iraq that they are moving into a brand-spankin' new Headquarters for their military so they can start taking control of their destiny! 

This stupendous progress the Iraqi Defense Forces have made by "standing up" their new headquarters is testimony to Jenkins' Law: This law comes from the social and political commentator Simon Jenkins, and states that "any outfit moving into a splendid new headquarters is heading for the rocks" (The Times, 6th February 2004). The law is richly supported by caselore, not least the fact that London's crime rate "soared" the moment Scotland Yard relocated to a glass tower full of computer screens.

Look, the only "Mission" we "Accomplished" in Iraq is to forever change the dynamics of the Middle East. That's a done deal. What that dynamic looks like is now the struggle.

New goals? 1.) Leave the region no worse than we found it at the very least -- but leave we must, eventually. 3.) Avoid Armaggedon.

Item #2 I leave up to the Underpants Gnomes, who have a much better track record than the current crop of magicians in charge of DOD.

More and more folks are coming to the stated position of John Edwards, Kerry and Murtha, (phased redeployment and withdrawal) some very reluctantly, some of whom will never do so precisely because it came from Edwards, Kerry and Murtha.

We're dealing with bureaucrats over there. Most of those bureaucrats are well armed, and many use those weapons at the slightest provocation, but the entire political structure remains, in essence, bureaucracy. Sadr, Sistani, Maliki, are at the top of their own heirarchy, each with dififering degrees of rigidity or loosness in structure. Yet each of them, as well as every militia and party or political faction over there responds as all such organized groups.

Understanding this premise, the Laws of Life apply, especially Parkinson's Law:
Work expands to fill the time available.

Continue reading "Iraq and the Rules" »

August 30, 2006

Olbermann blasts Rumsfeld

Keith Olbermann responds with eloquence and passion to Rumsfeld's recent ghastly speech:

From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer's New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused... the United States of America?

Contact MSNBC management and express your support and thanks for Mr. Olbermann.
The email addresses: viewerservices@msnbc.com and letters@msnbc.com .

For Countdown in particular, the contact address is countdown@msnbc.com.

Anyone wishing to express their thanks directly to Keith can write to him at KOlbermann@msnbc.com.

Another useful thing to do: Go to Keith's blog, scroll down to the bottom, and rate up the importance of the story.

Last, and most important of all, watch Countdown tonight (8pm EDT, 7pm CDT). Network executives do, after all, pay attention to ratings.

August 23, 2006

Liar Or Dope? An Historical Fisking

by Mark Adams

And which dope is the liar?

George W. Bush, President of the By God U.S. of A., 8/21/06:

Now, look, part of the reason we went into Iraq was -- the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction.

There it is, the final word.  Lest there be any doubt whatsoever, the President has pronounced that THE MAIN REASON for the war was to eliminate Iraq's non-existent WMDs.

Dean Esmay, blogger extraordinaire, defender of the "Liberal Tradition" (which includes liberally revising history, defining prejudice liberally, liberally indulging in incomprehensible frustratingly hate-tilled rants, a liberal use of the ban button to silence the voices with whom he disagrees -- including those in his head, and drinking liberally) 6/4/03:

As one who has, for weeks, not really given a rat's ass about the issue, I've tried to stay removed from the "controversy." Especially because I'm not at all convinced that the people who are making an issue out of this would be satisfied if we found them anyway.

The fact is that I never believed WMDs were our primary reason for war against Saddam Hussein. After more than a year of regularly arguing in favor of taking out the monster in Baghdad, I'm bemused by people who now think that was our main reason for going. I suppose that's not entirely fair, because the whole world doesn't read my weblog, but I know I'm not the only one who said the things I said.

Heh, "bemused."  You must be laughing your ass off now, Butthead.

But wait, there's more.  He went on to prioritize the "real" reasons he was so bloodthirsty to cripple 20,000 of his fellow citizens and sacrifice the lives of another 2,600 -- not to mention the uncounted tens of thousands of dead Iraqis.

Continue reading "Liar Or Dope? An Historical Fisking" »

Osama wants us to "stay the course"

D'oh!

August 22, 2006

“We Won't Go To Heaven Because Of You.”

Bush:

We'll complete the mission in Iraq...I can't tell you exactly when it's going to be done, but I do know that it's important for us to support the Iraqi people, who have shown incredible courage in their desire to live in a free society. And if we ever give up the desire to help people who live in freedom, we will have lost our soul as a nation, as far as I'm concerned.
Don't laugh: It's talk like this that keeps his approval ratings above 35%.

But wait there's more:

While acknowledging that raging sectarian violence and mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq are "straining the psyche of our country," Bush said that withdrawing U.S. troops before the nation is stabilized would be disastrous.
Straining our psyche? That's psychobabble. The American people are strong than that.

Simply put: the majority of Americans now realize that our work in Iraq is done. Our soldiers have done all that they could be asked to do:

  • Disarm Saddam? Check.
  • Topple him from power? Check.
  • Killed al-Zarqawi? Check.
  • Set up democracy? Check.
It's time to bring em home.

But nooooo:

[T]he president...was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd.
I don't know what's worse: that Bush didn't see this coming, or his actual reaction to it -- puzzlement.

Puzzlement!

Think about that for a moment and tell me that doesn't speak volumes about how weak this man really is.

(HT to Bill in Portland Maine)

August 14, 2006

Entire Fallujah Police Dept. Quits

by Mark Adams

Via Quaoar's KOS diary: quoting an LA Times story picked up by the Statesman (LA Times link not yet available).

In Fallujah, meanwhile, hundreds of newly recruited police officers failed to show up for work Sunday after insurgents disseminated pamphlets threatening officers who stayed on the job, according to police officials in the restive western city.

"We will kill all the policemen infidels," read the pamphlets, "whether or not they quit or are still in their jobs."

Fallujah Police Lt. Mohammed Alwan said that the force, which he estimated had increased to more than 2,000, has shrunk to only 100. Alwan said insurgents have killed dozens of policemen in their homes and also attacked family members in a weeks-long intimidation campaign.

A Fallujah police major, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at least 1,400 policemen had left their jobs since Friday, 400 of them police officials above the rank of officer.

Marine Lt. Lawton King, who is stationed in Fallujah, called those figures "inaccurate and grossly exaggerated," saying that only 32 police officers had been assassinated since January and that "substantially fewer than the exaggerated 1,400" officers had failed to report for work.

Shorter Party Line: "Reports of the Iraqis standing up are grossly exaggerated."

August 05, 2006

Ending the neoconservative nightmare -- for Israel

I've said right from the start that Israel's war should not be confused with America's war. Unfortunately that boat has left the dock.

But that doesn't mean that we can't explore the relationship between Israel and America -- and how America's war may be damaging Israel.

Daniel Levy:

Disentangling Israeli interests from the rubble of neocon "creative destruction" in the Middle East has become an urgent challenge for Israeli policy-makers. An America that seeks to reshape the region through an unsophisticated mixture of bombs and ballots, devoid of local contextual understanding, alliance-building or redressing of grievances, ultimately undermines both itself and Israel. The sight this week of Secretary of State Rice homeward bound, unable to touch down in any Arab capital, should have a sobering effect in Washington and Jerusalem.
The calculus is simple: with friends like the neocons, Israel doesn't need any enemies.
Israel and its friends in the United States should seriously reconsider their alliances not only with the neocons, but also with the Christian Right. The largest "pro-Israel" lobby day during this crisis was mobilized by Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United For Israel, a believer in Armageddon with all its implications for a rather particular end to the Jewish story. This is just asking to become the mother of all dumb, self-defeating and morally abhorrent alliances.

It's The Stupid President's Stupid War, Stupid

by Mark Adams

There are many good arguments that the best Democratic election strategy this Fall is to wrap Iraq around every GOP candidate's neck and incessantly repeat, "It's the War, Stupid."  It's a similar suggestion to hanging the rubber-stamp label on the "Do Nothing" Congress, or just coming out and identifying the entire GOP as completely void of intellect as their leader, because "It's the Stupiidity, Stupid."  all variations on the "Had Enough" theme.

I cringe when I think of the arrogance it took for Bush to start the Iraq war.  The sheer naiveté it took for a man whose formal business degrees qualified him only to fail at every enterprise he undertook, whose life experience in no way prepared him to even suspect he was in any way capable of transforming the Middle East into a peaceful bastion of democracy -- settling decades of direct conflict and centuries of unrest with a simple promise of "one person, one vote."

Of course, as was always suspected, Bush had absolutely no understanding of what he was doing, how to do it right, or an appreciation of the consequences of the his actions.  The quote you're going to be seeing a lot of from former Ambassador Peter Galbraith's new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, comes to the internetz via Raw Story (HT: SusanUnPC at No Quarter)

Galbraith reports that the three of them [Iraqi-Americans briefing Bush about the likely post-invasion political situation] spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded,“I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”
I guess "G-Dubz" must have thought that the two oil-rich muslim combatants in the Iran/Iraq war were duking it out over dress-codes.  It does explain his fixation on the idea that Saddam gassed his own people.  What Bush apparently never appreciated was that, to the dictator Kurds and Shia weren't "his" people -- if he considered them human at all.

Continue reading "It's The Stupid President's Stupid War, Stupid" »

August 03, 2006

Maybe Murtha was right after all

(Updated below)

On Nov. 19, 2005 over a dozen Iraqis were killed in an incident at Haditha. The Marines initially said that they had been killed by a roadside IED and the subsequent crossfire between them and insurgents. But Time magazine later reported that the killings were a deliberate act by US forces. In May of this year, retired Marine Rep. Jack Murtha said that Corps officials told him the Iraqis had been killed in "cold blood." His statements ignited a firestorm of controversy, with various right-wing Bush loyalists accusing him of cowardice, lying, treason and worse.

Now, apparently it turns out that perhaps Murtha was right.

Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
And, in an unfortunate illustration of the cliche that timing is everything, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich has filed suit in Washington DC today, stating that Murtha "publicly and falsely accused the involved Marines ... of cold-blooded murder and war crimes."

Wonder who's paying this guy's lawyer?

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has some more on Wuterich's lawsuit.

August 02, 2006

The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation

This seminal work on 4GW can be downloaded here.

Another good sourcebook is The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century which I've put, ahem, on my wish list.

July 28, 2006

Howard Dean was right

Howard Dean is getting a lot of flack from both the right-wing Bush loyalists as well as daily Kossacks for calling Iraq's al-Maliki an anti-Semite.

So...that must mean he's in the mainstream.

Whatever you call it, I strongly approve of his comment. And why not? Dean has been right on Iraq from the very beginning.

Who would you rather trust -- Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and Stephen Hadley and Peter Beinart and Joe Lieberman and John McCain and Tom Friedman and Rich Lowry and Newt Gingrich?

Good luck with that.

July 27, 2006

Dean & Democrats versus al-Maliki: A No-Brainer

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

Howard Dean calls al-Maliki an "anti-Semite." The reaction from the Republicans is not surprising and frankly you can google it yourself. I won't provide links to their crap.

The reaction from Democrats?

Well, Reid, Schumer, Durbin and Pelosi got there first, condemning Maliki for not rejecting Hezballah and terrorism. Again, the reaction from the Republicans was predictable: they stood in opposition to the Democrats even though they had to become total hypocrites to do so. Sen. Cornyn, Speaker Hastert, Sen. Allen, Sen. Santorum -- they waved off the Bush Doctrine ("with us or with the terrorists") like it was a cloud of gnats. Feh -- whores.

More interesting was the reaction from Kossacks...

Well, if you're reading this, you already know that roughly 2/3 of Kossacks disapprove of Israel's actions in the war with Lebanon (polls here and here). Similarly, two-thirds disapprove of Reid/Durbin/Schumer/Pelosi speaking out against Maliki's comments (poll results here). God only knows what Dean's approval rating is after after calling al-Maliki an anti-Semite -- reading some of the comments, I would say a similar two-thirds majority disapprove. (see poll)

Now I know that Maliki doesn't have a lot of wiggle room. No, let me rephrase that: Maliki's #1 goal appears to be that he wants, someday, to die of natural causes. That is to say he is not interested in following the footsteps of Anwar Sadat (killed, more or less, for making peace) and/or Yitzchak Rabin (ditto).

But here's what REALLY chaps my ass: that we spent $450 billion of our money, sustained over 20 thousand casualties of our men and women (not to mention 100s of thousands of Iraqi civilians) we went through all of that ....

.... and we get a state hostile to our one ally in the region, and a theocracy/satellite of Iran to boot?

No, no -- that's not even the worst part. The worst part is that when Democrats point that out, when they stand in direct opposition to the rubber-stamp Republican Congress, they get slapped down by 2/3 of the Kossack readership.

This should be a no-brainer. Democrats CAN offer a clear choice and one that the majority of Americans already buy into. So...what gives?

Flame on.

July 17, 2006

Times of London: “Baghdad is now verging on total collapse”

Times of London:

A local journalist told me bitterly this week that Iraqis find it ironic that Saddam Hussein is on trial for killing 148 people 24 years ago, while militias loyal to political parties now in government kill that many people every few days. But it is not an irony that anyone here has time to laugh about. They are too busy packing their bags and wondering how they can get out alive.
Kind of forgotten about it now, haven't we?

Where's the US?

(HT to John in DC)

July 16, 2006

Generic “Had Enough?” Video Ready

This is a new, "universal" version of the "Had Enough?" videos I did to promote various Congressional candidates.

This one is new and somewhat different. It's something I came up with after reading Kevin Phillips' excellent book, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

I'm sure there are things that you'd change. So would I. But I'm throwing this out now, rather than wait until later when it might be more perfect.

Share it with your friends, etc. Click the "Share" button in YouTube.

June 29, 2006

When Bush taunts, don't defend: Attack him back HARD

(Cross posted at Daily Kos)

WaPo:

President Bush attacked congressional Democrats and the news media at a Republican fundraiser Wednesday night, accusing the opposition of "waving the white flag of surrender" in Iraq...
Ignore the taunts -- don't bother responding to this. And, for sure, don't repeat the words "white flag of surrender."

Instead, relentlessly repeat the Republicans' dismal record of performance and call for a change in direction:

Under the Republican war plan, we have seen over $300 billion wasted, over 20 thousand American casualties lost and still there is no end in sight.
You can extend this approach to every district where there is a Republican incumbent:

Bush = bad
Republican candidate = Bush
Therefore...
Republican candidate = bad.

Remember: do NOT respond to the taunts -- go on the attack and never let up.

So if you still think Iraq is going well, vote for the Republicans because they'll give you more of the same.

But if you've had enough, if you want a change in direction, vote for the Democrats.

Attack, attack, attack. Never let up.

June 28, 2006

Waging war...on the New York Times (Part Deux)

So the New York Times publishes a story about a coordinated plan that would use international banking data to track its terror-funding efforts.

One U.S. official was quoted as saying: "It will bring together representatives of the intelligence, law enforcement and financial regulatory agencies to accomplish two goals: to follow the money as a trail to the terrorists, to follow their money so we can find out where they are; and to freeze the money to disrupt their actions."

That official wasn't one of those anonymous leakers -- it was Bush himself, back when he was at the top of his game and had all the world with him, on Sept. 24, 2001, just 13 days after al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He announced the first of a series of measures that made clear international bankers were cooperating to track al Qaeda's funding.

No matter. The press must be stopped!

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.)

[N]o one elected the New York Times to do anything. And the New York Times is putting its own arrogant elitest left wing agenda before the interests of the American people, and I'm calling on the Attorney General to begin a criminal investigation and prosecution of the New York Times -- its reporters, the editors who worked on this, and the publisher.
I'm pretty sure that's how they sounded in Stalinist Russia.

Thomas Jefferson:

Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.
Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel:
Thirty-five years ago this week, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 against the Nixon administration's efforts to prevent publication of the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam War. Justice Potter Stewart wrote for the majority:

"In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry - in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government."

High on the job-description priority-list of an independent press is the task of keeping an eye on the government. My gosh! You'd think "conservatives" would understand this.

June 26, 2006

Bring Em Home

Here's a video my daughter and I shot while I was in Detroit.

The memorial was something we found by accident in Farmington Hills right outside Heritage Park. I don't know who put it up. The music is from Bruce Springsteen (from a performance on Conan's show) and the aerial photography was shot out the window during my flight home.

Hope you like it.

P.S. Click the "Share" button and send it to your friends.

Why amnesty for Iraqi insurgents is a deal-breaker

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

First of all, let's look at some Civil War history:

During the American Civil War, political prisoners and prisoners of war were often released upon taking an "oath of allegiance". Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction featured an oath to "faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the union of the States thereunder" as a condition for a Presidential pardon. During Reconstruction, retroactive loyalty oaths were required, so that no one could hold federal office who hadn't been loyal in the past.
Is this the basis for any kind of amnesty for Iraqi insurgents who have killed American military? No. And here's why:
  1. Lincoln's Proclamation was issued by (wait for it) Lincoln. In order for Iraqi amnesty to work the same way, Bush would have to grant it. Not Republican Senator Cornyn, not Republican Senator Alexander, not Republican Senator McConnell, not Republican Senator Chambliss, not Republican Senator Stevens. Amnesty would have to be granted by Republican President Bush.
  2. Lincoln's olive branch was granted to the side that was soundly defeated in the war. Needless to say, nothing of that sort has happened yet in Iraq.
  3. The fundamental issues of the Civil War -- slavery and states' rights -- had been resolved. Lincoln was inviting the defeated side to rejoin the Union. In Iraq the Sunni, Shia and Kurds are still at each other's throats. What issues have been resolved by this war?
  4. Lincoln himself said this at Gettysburg:
    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
    It is now painfully obvious that Iraq will be a theocracy, with the mullahs on the Supreme Court, sitting in final judgement of the Iraqi Constitution. That is not "government of the people, by the people, for the people." It's bad enough that our fighting forces died for that -- now we have to stand by while the insurgents are granted amnesty as well? No way.
The Maliki plan offers a timetable and benchmarks for the withdrawal of American troops. That's good. If amnesty is taken off the table, I could get behind the rest of the plan.

But amnesty is a deal-breaker.

June 23, 2006

Chenyburton Figure Pleads Guilty To War Profiteering

by Mark Adams

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker is "Shocked!" that Haliburton is involved in war profiteering in Iraq.

I don't think the shocking thing is that a subsidiary of Dick Cheney's old company was getting kickbacks from government subcontractors, but that one of the subcontractors plead guilty to paying Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc. (KBR) a bribe/ransom to secure a contract to feed our troops.

The shocking this is the guy wasn't bought off, or otherwise "taken care of" before he could play nice with Federal Prosecutors.  There is, after all, a number of ways someone could end up being a ex-person in the Occupation Zone.

Spinning Phase Two

by Mark Adams

From the Department of Like-That-Matters:  conservative author, columnist and White House correspondent for NRO, Byron York begins laying the foundation for discrediting the Senate Intelligence Committee's long, long overdue "Phase Two" report on its investigation into pre-war handling of intelligence.

Not to be confused with "Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats."  This part concerns what the administration knew, and how did they lie about it.  Not surprising that the Republican chair of the committee, Pat Roberts, has stalled this important work, again, this time in an effort to try and make Democratic lawmakers share the blame for this fiasco of a war and look as duplicitous as Bush Administration officials.  Roberts insists that the Democrat's pre-war statements be examined in the same light as those who had the complete, unedited, non-cherry-picked version of the available intelligence -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice, Powell and Feith -- especially Feith and his office of Special Plans.

Certainly most of the public should see right through the charade, blaming Democrats for the hold up.  Everyone except the few remaining Bush apologists left peeking out of their bunkers know all too well that it just doesn't matter what Ted Kennedy said about Iraq's nuclear ambitions and capabilities.  What mattered was the President and his war cabinet trying to scare us into believing that Saddam Hussein was trying to put nuclear weapons in Osama bin Laden's hands.

But that won't stop Roberts.  His mission is damage control, not fact-finding.

York, however, goes one step beyond Roberts in his attempt to prime the well of distraction by reminding his Bush-Bot audience that the GOP may not only have disloyal defectors in their midsts,

Republican lawmakers have lost effective control because two of their own, Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, sometimes side with Democrats.
...but also a mole:
Eric Rosenbach, hired by Sen. Hagel to work on prewar intelligence issues, came to the Senate after completing studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government under Rand Beers, a top foreign-policy adviser for Kerry. In Fall 2004, Rosenbach took three weeks to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in York County, Pennsylvania.
Gotta love this.  Without hesitation, York characterizes Rosenbach as "a key Republican committee staffer" who committed the cardinal sin of being a "veteran" of the Kerry campaign.

No doubt this will escalate into a full fledged corruption probe and hatchet job against this poor kid.  For all we or York knows, he was crucial only in cutting the crust of John Kerry's peanut butter sandwiches and taking out the garbage for three lousy weeks of volunteering in the campaign so he could get some real-world experience to apply towards his political science studies.

Lovely.

The article takes the mundane fact that while working on his masters degree, Rosenbach took a class taught by Beers and that evil traitor, ex-counter terrorism chief Richard Clarke, then got some brownie points holding Beers' briefcase for a few weeks -- unpaid -- as did many other fortunate sons in the right place at the right time; and not so subtly implies that he's part of the vast left-wing conspiracy that has hypnotized Chuck Hagel into apostacy.

(Hat Tip:  Maha)

UPDATE:  I found this piece which informs us that the the investigation of Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans is being nicely set up to fail, scrubbed clean by an experienced team of whitewashers.

June 20, 2006

You can't trust the Republicans to defend the country -- they're not smart enough (Part Trois)

They said it after 9/11, they said it after Katrina, now they're saying it about Iraq:

Q: Do you think that you underestimated the insurgency's strength?

Cheney: I think so, umm I guess, the uh, if I look back on it now. I don't think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we've encountered....

Gah!

Dean: “You can't trust the Republicans to defend the country -- they're not smart enough.”


June 19, 2006

Iraq: Worse than ever

Bush says that we must stay the course, yet more evidence surfaces that our policy is a real horror show.

Al Kamen:

Hours before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees. This cable, marked "sensitive" and obtained by The Washington Post, outlines in spare prose the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees' constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government.
Here's the cable -- entitled Public Affairs Staff Show Strains of Public Discord -- it's a must-read.

If we "stay the course," we'll get more of the same.

It's time to change direction.

June 18, 2006

Murtha on Rove: “...sitting in his air-conditioned office on his fat backside...”

War is over if you want it

Cenk Uygur:

  1. No WMDs.
  2. No link to Al Qaeda.
  3. Democracy installed.
  4. Regime change accomplished.
Iraq. Check.

What's left? What are we still doing over there?

The President will tell you that we are waiting for the Iraqis to stand up. Could there be a less clear and more ridiculous mission? When do we know they've stood up?

Are they squatting right now? Perhaps kneeling? I hope they're not lounging.

I can't wait for Bush to land on an aircraft carrier one day and tell us the mission has been accomplished -- Iraq has officially stood up. I wonder what it will do once it's standing? I hope it doesn't go for a walk.

The last time it did that, we had to liberate Kuwait.

Declare victory and bring the boys home.

June 16, 2006

House of Representatives OK's endless war

The final vote was 256-153.

Nationalize the election: Pledge to end the war

(cross-posted at DailyKos)

Yesterday, I suggested that there is a simple and clear way for Democrats to make a clear distinction between themselves and the Republicans: The Republicans want endless war, the Democrats want to end the war.

Now, I think it's time that Democrats nationalize the mid-term elections by offering that choice to voters:

  • If voters want endless war, they should vote for the Republicans.

  • If voters want to end the war, they should vote for the Democrats.
This is a clear choice. It's a choice that requires the Democrats to have a backbone. I think voters will understand that.

Of course the powdered and pampered poodle-pundits will want to know: HOW to end the war?

Continue reading "Nationalize the election: Pledge to end the war" »

Senate Republicans: Amnesty for terrorists who murder US soldiers

A gaffe is when a politician accidently tells the truth.

Here's a textbook example of a gaffe that cost a guy his job:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office on Thursday accepted the resignation of an aide who had told a reporter that Maliki was considering a limited amnesty that would likely include guerrillas who had attacked U.S. troops, the aide said.
In other news, Republicans come out for amnesty for terrorists who murder US soldiers.

Meanwhile, Democrats try to stop Republican "amnesty for terrorists" program.

Call or write your Senators
today and urge them to back the Democratic resolution. It's easy:

  1. Visit this site
  2. Look up your Senator's phone number, fax, and/or email address.
  3. Contact them today, urging them to reject Iraq's call for amnesty to persons who have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Urge them to demand that President Bush immediately notify the government of Iraq that the United States government opposes granting amnesty in the strongest possible terms. Urge them to support Sen. Menendez' and Sen. Nelson's "sense of the Senate" resolution on this matter.
Please do this right now, before you get distracted by the next email, phone call or other matter. The debate is happening right now in Congress and it is crucial that your voice be heard before it is too late and the news cycle moves on to the latest missing white girl in Georgia.

“It's a number.” Saying the Names of the 2500

The other day, White House spokesperson Tony Snow responded to reporters' questions about reaching the recent milestone of 2500 US military killed in Iraq by saying this: "It's a number. And every time there's one of these 500 benchmarks, people want something."

Well, yeah, people do want something. They want to know if all of this has been worth it. And the answer, increasingly, seems to be no, it wasn't worth it.

Here are the names of those 2500 servicemen who died in Iraq.

June 15, 2006

The choice should be clear: one party wants endless war, the other does not

On Wednesday, Bush again rejected calls for a timetable or benchmarks for success that would allow troops to come home. More and more Americans are convinced that this will be an endless war and an endless occupation.

The death of Zarqawi and the formation of (another) Iraqi government should have been the perfect moment for the administration to declare victory and begin winding down the war. Instead, we got vague assurances and equivication about the eventual outcome.

This makes perfect sense from Bush's point of view -- after all, why would the administration want to give back the absolute power it has seized in the name of fighting this war in the first place?

In the meantime, another grim milestone is passed: 2,500 US military killed.

OTOH, this is the perfect moment for the Democrats to offer a choice. They can pledge that the war will not be endless, the occupation will not be endless. It will end. The Democrats can pledge to do what needs to be done to end the war.

In acknowledging that, it will already have offered a clear choice versus the Republicans.

As for a specific plan, timing and benchmarks -- that is certainly debatable and should be open for discussion. Certainly that would be a meaningful discussion, unlike the useless debate that is occuring in the rubber stamp Republican Congress today.

In summary, the choice should be clear: one party will do what needs to be done to end the war, and the other will not.

June 13, 2006

Bush visits Iraq for five hours

Well, you know, he's a really busy guy but he had an opening in his schedule.

Attack: Now is the time for Democrats to go on the offensive

Rove is off the hook, Zarqawi is dead, Busby lost in California, Bush's polls are on the uptick -- these are all part of the instant conventional wisdom that says it's been a bad week or two for the Democrats.

Baloney.

The same people are still in charge who meant to destroy the career of Valerie Plame. The same people are still in charge who lied us into a war that has cost over 20 thousand American casualties and $300 billion. The same people are in charge that built a criminal enterprise that ran out of the House Majority Leader's office. And Bush's polls? His approval rating has been below 40% forever.

Democrats would do well to keep their eye on the big picture:

End the war in Iraq: It's over. Our work there is finished. Fact is, we killed Zarqawi from the the air. We could have done the same thing without any boots on ground. With Zarqawi out of the picture, the Iraqi security forces, the ministry of defense, the entire government is as ready as it's ever going to be to take over. Let them have it.

Ending the war will also allow us to end the President's unconstitutional seizure of "war powers." And if the rubber-stamp Republicans cannot exercise its oversight authority, the Democrats will.

Ending the war will also reduce the need for us to borrow endlessly from foreign governments. Under the Bush administration we have borrowed $1 trillion in foreign debt -- an amount equal to what was borrowed under all previous presidential administrations. Borrow and spend, borrow and spend, borrow and spend. It has got to stop.

Getting our finances straightened around will allow us to plan for the day we can be energy independent -- cutting our need for foreign oil. An Apollo-style program will promote jobs, address the problem of global warming and increase our national security.

These are just some of the things Democrats should be standing up for.

You've also got raising the minimum wage, rescinding tax breaks for oil companies included in the 2005 energy legislation, revising the Medicare prescription drug bill to allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices, cutting student loan rates and passing the remaining recommendations for improving national security by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

If I were a Democrat running for Congress, I'd use a simple formula:

Bush = bad.
Republican candidate = Bush.
Republican candidate = bad.

I'd go on the attack and I'd keep attacking without a let up. I'd attack Bush's dismal record in office; I'd tie Bush around my opponent's neck. Then I'd drop them both into the ocean and watch them sink to the bottom.

Attack, attack, attack. Never ease up. Never, never, never. Never ease up.

June 12, 2006

Guantanamo suicides “acts of war?”

This is one of the more bizarre reports I've heard in quite a while:

The suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amount to acts of war, the US military says.

The camp commander said the two Saudis and a Yemeni were "committed" and had killed themselves in "an act of asymmetric warfare waged against us".

Lawyers said the men who hanged themselves had been driven by despair.

You know, I'm trying really hard to give Rear Admiral Harris the benefit of the doubt here.

But the best historical precedent I can come up with doesn't reflect well on the current situation.

Those of you who are of a certain age will remember this story. I was 10 years old and it was pretty shocking. I've never forgotten it:

thqudc.jpgOn June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from the Linh-Mu Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon, Vietnam.

Eyewitness accounts state that Thich Quang Duc and at least two fellow monks arrived at the intersection by car, Thich Quang Duc got out of the car, assumed the traditional lotus position and the accompanying monks helped him pour gasoline over himself. He ignited the gasoline by lighting a match and burned to death in a matter of minutes. David Halberstam, a reporter for the New York Times covering the war in Vietnam, gave the following account:

"I was to see that sight again, but once was enough. Flames were coming from a human being; his body was slowly withering and shriveling up, his head blackening and charring. In the air was the smell of burning human flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think…. As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him."
Thich Quang Duc had prepared himself for his self-immolation through several weeks of meditation and had explained his motivation in letters to members of his Buddhist community as well as to the government of South Vietnam in the weeks prior to his self-immolation. In these letters he described his desire to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Prior to the self-immolation, the South Vietnamese Buddhists had made the following requests to the Diem regime, asking it to:
  1. Lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag;

  2. Grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism;

  3. Stop detaining Buddhists;

  4. Give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion; and

  5. Pay fair compensations to the victim’s families and punish those responsible for their deaths.
When these requests were not addressed by the Deim regime, Thich Quang Duc carried out his self-immolation.

Following his death, Thich Quang Duc was cremated and legend has it that his heart would not burn. As a result, his heart is considered Holy and is in the custody of the Reserve Bank of Vietnam.

As I said, I'm trying to give Rear Admiral Harris the benefit of the doubt -- maybe the suicides really were a political act. But if so, things are far worse than we thought (if that's even remotely possible) and, if history is any guide, there doesn't seem to be any hope for a good outcome from the USA's perspective.

June 10, 2006

Bush avoided attacking Zarqawi; felt it would undercut case for war

Something just dawned on me.

You know how I always say don't watch what they say, watch what they do? There's another thing.

Watch who they are -- because character counts.

MSNBC from April 2004:

Three times the the Pentagon drew up an attack plan [to Zarqawi], and three times, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi's operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

Yeah, I can hear the loyalists: don't look back, don't play the blame game, look to the future.

That's valid. But you know what? Character counts too. And if this is the kind of character Bush has...

People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president's policy of pre-emption against terrorists.
...then, no matter what Bush says, we can expect him to do more of the same in the future.

Because character counts.

P.S. I'm telling you: if I'm a Democratic candidate for Congress, the formula is simple. Bush = bad, Republican candidate = Bush, Republican candidate = bad.

P.P.S. More about Bush's refusal to pull the trigger on Zarqawi.

June 08, 2006

George Bush Sr. asked retired general to replace Rumsfeld

Sidney Blumenthal has the story, without mentioning any names.

P.S. Last week, Peter Beinart suggested in an interview that Bush 43 should fire Rumsfeld and bring in Brent Scowcroft. I wonder if he was tapped into the same story as Blumenthal.

Air raid kills al-Zarqawi

060403_alzarqawi_vsm.vsmall.jpgGood riddance. And kudos to the US and Iraq militaries.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr.:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Coalition Forces killed al-Qaida terrorist leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and one of his key lieutenants, spiritual advisor Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman, yesterday, June 7, at 6:15 p.m. in an air strike against an identified, isolated safe house."
The insurgents should be surrendering any time now. The war is all but over. We'll wrap this up and bring the troops home. There'll be parades and the people of Iraq will be throwing flowers and candy. Right?

June 01, 2006

Third Way on Iraq: Getting it Right, Then Getting Out

Jeffrey Goldberg describes Third Way's views as "similar to those of the Democratic Leadership Council, which helped Bill Clinton win the Presidency in 1992, but more sharply focussed on the practical business of electing Democrats."

Well, you could count me in the group that thinks the DLC was OK in its day, but that was then, this is now. In other words, it was effective during a time of Republican ascendancy; but now that we've seen the rotten fruit that the Republican tree bore, Democrats need to take a different approach. It isn't good enough to simply be "another cheeseburger;" Democrats need to offer a clear alternative while being realistic about who we're talking to.

This passage caught my eye:

Third Way has distributed a primer on countering the traditional Republican emphasis on national security. It cautions Democrats to "take fear seriously," and says, "Voters will not respond to approaches that ignore fear, mock it or try to intellectualize it away, like calling Bush a 'fear-monger.' " The voters, the guide says, "need to know that you understand the dangers we face." The primer counsels Democrats to "show comfort with the military," and warns candidates not to "pity or patronize the troops when criticizing the war. Remember that they are serving their country and proud of it." The guide goes on to note, "Progressives have always been surprised that the morale among troops deployed in Iraq is quite high -- they are doing their mission."
As you know, I live in "Red Louisiana" and I work in an industry that has put me in close contact with the military. That said, what they're describing makes sense.

Not only that -- they take a very practical approach, developing talking points on what the Democrats will do if they regain the Congressional majority:

  1. Turn up the pressure on the Iraqis
  2. Fix the failed Bush military policy.
  3. Protect our troops and our taxpayers from war profiteering.
This rings true to me.

May 29, 2006

2 CBS Crew Members Killed in Iraq Bombing

By now you've probably heard about this:

A CBS News cameraman and soundman were killed Monday and a correspondent was injured when the military unit they were following was attacked in Baghdad, the network said on its Web site.

Cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and sound technician James Brolan, 42, were killed and correspondent Kimberly Dozier, 39, was seriously injured when a convoy of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was hit by a roadside bomb, CBS said in a statement. The attack also killed a US army officer and an Iraqi interpreter.

I've never heard of Dozier, but then again I don't watch CBS News. On the off-chance that I might recognize her face, I went looking for a picture of her.

I found it on the USA Today web site:

"It is getting worse day by day," says Rod Nordland, Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief. "We can't work on the street anymore, and in terms of just wandering, that's not doable."
That sounds familiar, but hold on -- this article is dated April 2004.
[N]ow, he says, the resistance to the American occupation "is so widespread that it shows there either is a wellspring of discontent or an awful lot of Iraqis have changed their view. It's astonishing."
Yeah. We get that a lot.
dozier.jpg"Running an errand — you don't do that kind of thing anymore," says CBS' Kimberly Dozier from Baghdad. She doesn't spend any more than 15 minutes in any one spot. En route to report a feature about driving schools, she was riding in a GMC truck — the same kind of trucks used by the U.S.-led coalition — and got stuck in traffic.

"The looks that we got from all the Iraqis trapped in the traffic with us; none of us had felt it that way before. I feel so much more foreign than I used to and much more vulnerable because of it."

Kimberly Dozier is in critical condition. Her doctors are "cautiously optimistic" about her chances for recovery.

May 24, 2006

Revealing a 40-year-old horror

Bill Frogameni writes about the Pulitzer-winning reporters who exposed the U.S. Tiger Force's atrocities in Vietnam. They discuss why the case was whitewashed -- and its scary parallels to Iraq, including Rumsfeld's possible involvement in ending the investigation in 1975.

May 09, 2006

You're the decider -- what's your decision?

As faithful watchers of The West Wing know, the incoming President has 18 months, tops, to get anything done. So his/her campaign has to focus on what that is -- and leave the rest for later.

That said, I was interested to see this list of issues that Democrats in Blogville have reached consensus on.

Scan the list and tell me -- which one of these you would campaign on?

Atrios:

I think the "liberal netroots" does have a fairly clear consensus on a number of issues. I'm not going to claim every liberal blogger or blog reader agress with everything on this list - that'd be ridiculous - but nonetheless I'd say there's a pretty obvious general consensus on the following:
  • Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
  • Repeal the estate tax repeal
  • Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
  • Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
  • Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
  • Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise.
  • Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
  • Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
  • Reduce corporate giveaways
  • Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
  • Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
  • Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
  • Imprison Jeff Goldstein for crimes against humanity for his neverending stupidity
  • Paper ballots
  • Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter.
  • Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
I'm sure I could think of a few more things. I left off foreign policy because I find that most people who write about it imagine they're playing the game of Risk. It's nice to have nice bumpersticker doctrines which are ultimately meaningless, but basically "put grownups in charge" is my prescription. Kick the petulant children out.

...adding a few more things which would be obvious if we weren't living in the Grand and Glorious Age of Bush:

  • Torture is bad
  • Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
  • Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
  • Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
  • Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad
...oh, and I meant to include:
  • Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.

May 05, 2006

Rumsfeld confronted by CIA analyst: “Why did you lie to get us into the war?”

The video on the left is of the original event; the video on the right is of the analyst, Ray McGovern, being interviewed afterwards by Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Bush at 2004 Correspondents' Assoc. Dinner

For those of you who think Stephen Colbert was rude and unfunny at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Assoc. Dinner last weekend, watch the video of Bush's appearance there in 2004. He was really funny -- in fact, he killed 'em!

"Those weapons of mass destruction have gotta be somewhere."

May 04, 2006

Andrew Sullivan: $4 a gallon gas proves the war was not about oil

The mast-head on Andrew Sullivan's blog quotes George Orwell: "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."

Well, he's struggling with the obvious all right -- and losing:

One thing that today's high gas prices strongly suggest is that, whatever else it was, the Iraq war was surely not about oil. If you care about cheap oil above everything else, you'd have found some deal with Saddam, kept the oil fields pumping, and maintained the same realist policy toward Arab and Muslim autocracies we had for decades.
Here's Cunning Realist:
This is like a lawyer arguing that because his client used the wrong combination on a safe, surely he didn't mean to steal anything.

[...]

[A]scribing competence and intellectual rigor to the Bush administration---the assumption that it thought the war though carefully beforehand, weighing the risks and possible consequences, instead of using its patented faith-based approach. Based on what we know now about the prewar planning, and in light of Katrina, Miers, Kerik, Plamegate and everything else, exactly how is that assumption justified?

A couple of years ago, Sullivan's train of thought might have carried the day. But not any more. It's like Bush said:
"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."

Nice try, First Lady.

JR Hand:

Just now in an interview with CNN's John King, First Lady Laura Bush answered a question about her husband's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech of May 1, 2003, by saying that (paraphrasing) "the fact is that the mission had been accomplished for those aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. Their job was complete, and they were coming home."
So with that in mind, JR Hand re-writes Bush's famous "Mission Accomplished" speech:
["Newly understood" text in italics, Exclusivity-inferring emphasis added in bold to pre-existing text.]

---
"Thank you. Thank you all on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln very much.

Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, major combat operations in Iraq have ended for you only. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed, if we assume that everyone in the United States and all of our allies are on board this vessel right now, as I say these words.

And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. THEY still have shit to do. But you're done.

In this battle, we who are present here right now have fought for the cause of liberty and for the peace of the world outside the confines of this ship. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment, at least your part of it, which as I said, is now completed, yet it is you, the members of the United States military on this boat, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln made this day possible.

Because of you, and you only, our nation is more secure. Because of exclusively you the tyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.

Read the whole thing.

May 03, 2006

WSJ: Why we're losing the war

Because we suffer from white guilt.

It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty...

The collapse of white supremacy--and the resulting white guilt--introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world.

In Iraq, America is fighting as much for the legitimacy of its war effort as for victory in war. In fact, legitimacy may be the more important goal.

This would be laughable if it wasn't so pathetic.

Seriously -- who is this guy describing? Michael Dukakis? No -- he's writing this during a period of global hegemony by the neoconservative branch of the Republican party. George W. Bush has unlimited power to do what he wants -- and he suffers from white guilt?

This is straight out of Dr. Strangelove.

If what he says is true, then Bush and the Republican majority in Congress need to be sent packing immediately. Because if you are going to fight a war -- if you are going to invade a country and impose democracy at the end of a gun barrel -- then this kind of tortured mentality is more destructive and and self-defeating than almost anything else I can think of.

If you are the kind of pointy-headed neo-conservative intellectual that believes this crap, then you need to get out of government immediately.

Better not to invade in the first place than to get bogged down in this kind of war and suffer 20 thousand American casualties, $300 billion in losses from the Treasury and the wrecking of our reputation around the world for at least the next generation.

May 02, 2006

Where Were You When We Lost The War?

by Mark Adams

In response to Helen Thomas's dogged determination to get the President to answer why he wanted to go to war since every proffered rationale for the Iraq invasion has proved fallacious, Bush stated emphatically that neither he nor any President wants to go to war.
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War with Iraq was somehow just thrust on him. 

There he was, tending to the accumulated garbage at the ranch, clearing away the brush, when without warning, (or detailed invasion plans, hyped intelligence, a strategy for transforming the Middle East through military force, a "set" policy, or outright lies about WMD's) war came intruding on his vacation plans.

Fine.  Let's leave that fairy tale alone for a minute.  The question I have is, why doesn't the President want to win the war?

We've turned enough corners in Iraq to make a dodecahedron, yet not one purple-finger moment has alleviated the need for our presence to provide what passes for security there.  They haven't brought one single unit home because they were replaced by Iraqis who "stood up."

But it's not simply the refusal of the Pentagon to admit that they have not discredited the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force achieving clear objectives pursuant to an exit strategy.  There's more here, much more that indicates a clear pattern of undermining a peaceful conclusion to our military involvement in the region. 

Continue reading "Where Were You When We Lost The War?" »

May 01, 2006

Monday Morning: Odds 'n' Sods

The Decider blames the Generals
Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, recounts that he counseled Bush, the Commander in Chief, to send more troops to Iraq. We know the result. Condi Rice, the current Secretary of State, explains it away with this comment:

"When it came down to it, the president listens to his military advisers who were to execute the plan."
Why does Condi hate the military?

Iran: Double or nothing
Josh Marshall:

The only crisis with Iran is the crisis with the president's public approval ratings. Period. End of story. The Iranians are years, probably as long as a decade away, and possibly even longer from creating even a limited yield nuclear weapon. Ergo, the only reason to ramp up a confrontation now is to help the president's poll numbers....It turns on how far a desperate president will go to avoid losing control of Congress.
Lawbreaker in Chief
Boston Globe:
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution....

Bush has cast a cloud over ''the whole idea that there is a rule of law," because no one can be certain of which laws Bush thinks are valid and which he thinks he can ignore...

[H]e also thinks a very significant amount of the other laws that were already on the books before he became president are also unconstitutional...

Most people think this is normal behavior for the Chief Executive. It is not. The framers would be appalled. Fact is, the only way for things to go back into balance is for the Legislative branch to re-assert its Constitutional powers by exercising any or all of its proper authority:
  1. Sidetrack his agenda
  2. Cut off his funding
  3. Conduct proper oversight of his actions
  4. Impeach and and convict.
None of this will happen until the rubber-stamp Republican majority is overturned at the ballot box. In short -- if you're happy with the way things are, vote for the Republicans. If you believe things have got to change, vote for the Democrats.