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Saturday, April 10, 2004

Whiney Joe to David "I'm Writing As Bad as I Can" Brooks: I'll always be here for you. 

Disgusting. Brooks quotes Lieberman as if Whiney Joe were somehow either responsible or a representative Democrat. Man, there's nothing lower than trolling for media coverage in Brooks's column, is there?

And I think I'll put in this quote from Brooks: "If people like Sistani are forced to declare war on the U.S., the gates of hell will open up."

Two reasons:

First: To lay down a marker for when we know that Bush's policies have totally ... Well, make up your own coarse expression.

Second: This means that the Shi'ite Sistani has Bush by the balls, right?

Oh, and third: Kos—targetted and abused by wingers, operatives, and the overly pliant for his very success—got this analysis spot on from the word go, when nobody else was saying it: Sistani is the one with whom we must ultimately make a deal. Maybe Bush should have Karl make a call...

Iraq insurgency: Some unfiltered information 

A letter from an unnamed contractor, via Josh Marshall:

The fighting two nights ago was loud and widespread throughout the northern and northwestern parts of Baghdad ... areas such as Yarmouk, Sadr City had almost continuous gunfights and rocket attacks. When we heard US forces using the main gun on M-1 tanks at 1 AM we knew it was serious insurgency at hand. ... There was a report of a massive ambush by one security firm that tried to drive in from Amman. Reports have 25-40 gunmen opening up on them. They lost all of their vehicles and had to be given a mercy lift by a passing Iraqi minivan. ... The abductions of the Japanese hostages is a sign that we have entered a new phase of bad as abduction requires a permissive environment for the hostage taker.
(via here)

A new phase of bad... Eesh.

General Kimmet is wrong if he thinks that he will destroy the Badr brigade or Sadr Army as a military organization because there isn't really one ... he will disperse them into small, highly armed teams of friends and ... voila! Al Qaeda-Iraq or Hezbollah-Iraq will be borne in numbers we will not be able to control. Since the ICDC [the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps] seem to have run off and joined the opposition in Nasiriyah it may reflect the true loyalties of the new Iraqi army and Police. No one is going to cross their family, tribe or religious community for the Americans.

Leaderless resistance.... You'd think the wingers would understand that....

The correct answer is to back off, leave Sadr alone and start to throw lots of money into jobs projects and utilities for the south before this summer's electricity and gas shortages ... will that work? Probably not. But we have just antagonized the core of the Shiite resistance and putting them to work is better than letting them fight us 24/7.

An actual policy prescription. I don't think the operatives in the "Republican Palace" are going to go for "jobs projects" in a big way, though, do you?

Don't sign this petition! 

It calls for Bush not to accept the nomination in 2004. And there are several Republican signers. As one of its authors writes:

Core Republicans are experiencing an Oh Shit Moment where they are realizing that Bush could actually lose the election. Even though the polls for the last month have indicated a close race between Bush and Kerry, core Republicans have always believed their candidate would prevail in the end.
(via Smart Genes Weblog)

I like the idea of an "Oh Shit Moment" for Republicans. (Seems like some RNC hacks are feeling that way: "Mr. [Roger] Stone, who worked to help Mr. Bush win the Florida ballot fight in 2000 [said:] "While the conduct of the war was probably a plus for the president, it now has the potential to be a negative."

We want the Republicans to lose, right? Since only a Democrat can start to undo the damage the Republicans can do. Like cockroaches in the ktichen cabinets, it isn't so much that they're there, it's what they leave behind....

Text of the Bush PDB: It's money 

Is here in HTML, via The Agonist, and in proprietary PDF, via CNN.

And you know, the funny thing is, there's no money sentence. That is, there's no sentence that says: "AQ is going to hijack four airplanes on 2004-09-11 and fly them into the WTC, the Pentagon, and the White House." So, no "actionable intelligence," right? File and forget, and get on with the vacation....

But not so fast. The entire PDB is money.

Remember the old Sherlock Holmes story?

HOLMES:... And the curious incident of the dog in the night.
WATSON: The dog did nothing in the night.
HOLMES: That was the curious incident.

So, what are the curious incidents in the PDB? In fact, there are two:

1 There are no action points in the memo. There is no plan. We know that the intelligence people "had their hair on fire" over the summer about AQ chatter. (Read Clarke's book, or see here.) And here's a memo all about AQ, and there's no plan for dealing with AQ. In a CYA town like DC, that's almost unheard of. And if the memo doesn't have any CYA in it, that means there was no pressure from Bush to do anything. Otherwise, the action points would have been there. Bush's passivity here is almost surreal. (Bush's defenders keep sliming Clinton for an inadequate response on the AQ-attacked USS Cole. All the more reason for action points in this PDB!

2. There was no followup. The widows keep asking for it, and noone can show it, for the good reason that there wasn't any. Here again, Bush is almost surreally passive.

NOTE For background, back here and here.

Yep, we negotiated with 'em. So they aren't terrorists, right? 

Wonder how many phone calls to Crawford this took?

The US-led coalition and insurgents in the Sunni bastion of Fallujah agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire beginning today at 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) after six days of fierce clashes which claimed the lives of hundreds of people, an Iraqi mediator said.

However, the insurgents threatened to kill a presumed American citizen unless the siege of the Sunni Muslim town was lifted in the latest example of their new tactic of kidnapping foreigners to win concessions on the ground and put pressure on US allies in Iraq.

"The two sides have agreed to observe a 12-hour ceasefire tomorrow, Sunday, at 10am," or 0600 GMT (1600 AEST), a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Hatem al-Husseini, said.

"This will pave the way for the gradual pullout of US Marine troops from Fallujah," Husseini said after a meeting with coalition officials in Baghdad on his return from the mediation talks in the town west of the capital.

A senior coalition spokesman had no comment on the negotiations but said a statement would be issued later today.

The apparent breakthrough came after the coalition suspended offensive operations in Fallujah and offered the talks.
(via The Age)

Weird. We offered the talks.

So tell me again what our policy is here? Did we get the "bad guys" in Fallujah we started this thing for? Have we arrested Sadr? And why are we negotiating with his army if we want to arrest him, or did we flipflop on that?

So tell me again why the war in Iraq should make me feel safer? 

From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash:

Americans are also increasingly concerned that by invading Iraq, the Bush administration has increased the risk that large numbers of people will be killed or injured in a future terrorist attack on the United States. Forty-two percent of those polled now share that concern, whereas just 28 percent of those polled at the end of the last year were similarly worried.
(via Newsweek)

More blowback.

But it's OK! Since Bush has been serious about funding the first responders... Oh, wait....

Iraqi insurgency: "Negotiating with terrorists" verbiage now inoperative 

Following up on this Atrios post, it seems that the military (never mind the operatives in the "Republican Palace" in the Baghdad green zone) don't believe they are fighting terrorists, at least not in Fallujah:

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition military spokesman in Baghdad, dropped references to the insurgents as terrorists and criminals - "We do not negotiate with terrorists" - and described them as likely remnants of Saddam Hussein's military.

"We believe what we are seeing in Fallujah are former military, perhaps former Saddam fedayeen, perhaps former Republican Guard," he said. "How they fight indicates military training, rather than terrorist training."
(via Knight Ridder)

Former Republican Guard, eh? You mean the guys Bremer fired, while allowing them to hold onto their weapons?

When I wear my tinfoil hat, I can almost believe this chaos is exactly what Bush wants, since he seems to be achieving chaos so brilliantly.

Iraq insurgency: Meet the new boss 

The RNC-... Oh, I'm sorry, CPA-picked Iraqi Interior Minister "resigned"—if it were the US, we'd say "to spend more time with his family"—and the RNC... Sheesh, I keep saying that, I meant to say CPA (back) immediately picked a new Interior Minister. Stirling Newberry has some useful analysis on the meaning of these latest orchestrated events:

After pressuring the old Interior Minister, Nori al Badran, to resign, military governor Bremer appointed hardliner and long time Provisional Iraqi Governing Council member Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaiday to the Interior Minister Post.

Mahmoud's appointment, combined with the decision to lift sanctions against weapons sales and exports to Iraq, signal that the US is going forward with preparations for an all out "Iraqetization" of the occupation, with the intent of equipping the police force. Sumaiday is a proponent of an appointed new Iraqi government, a "security first" policy and a refusal to negotiate with violent or even dissident elements in Iraq.

However, taken together, his public statements paint a clear picture as someone who has been unwavering in toeing the US line on Iraq, and an active and charismatic spokesman for it. His promotion to Interior Minister sends a clear signal that the US intends to escalate, not negotiate, through he current crisis.
(via The Agonist)

Though I must say, it isn't clear who to negotate with, or what to negotiate about. Perhaps Bush had decided, as President Clinton did in the context of a far more slow-moving coup, "We'll just have to win, then."

Incidentally, Sistani has his own militia, and they're still on the sidelines. What's up with that?

President Vacation flipflops the flipflop of the original flipflop and releases the PDB 

On Easter Saturday, yet, as alert reader Xan points out. Details:

At the demand of the 9/11 commission, the White House made public on Saturday a classified intelligence document from a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that told President Bush of al Qaeda plans to attack the United States with explosives or hijack airplanes.

The document, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States" ... said the FBI had detected "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."
(via Reuters)

Airplane (dot!) ... Hijack (dot!) ... Buildings in New York (dot!)....

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted in her public testimony to the 9/11 commission last week that the memo contained mostly historical information and did not warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

Her account could be contradicted by the fact that the memo included information from three months beforehand that al Qaeda members were trying to enter the United States for an attack with explosives.

Maybe to Condi three months is history.... Anyhow, President Vacation reads the memo, and ... Takes a long nap, and goes back to cutting brush.

Operation Mellifluous Footwear continues! (back).

One tank: $100,000,000. One grenade: priceless [update] 

More proof that we're winning:

A U.S. tank was set on fire on a highway west of Baghdad on Saturday and locals said it had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a 10-year-old boy.
(via Reuters)

The problem with asymmetrical warfare is that, well, it's asymmetrical.

No, but seriously. If our invasion and occupation of Iraq has brought happiness to just one small boy...

UPDATE Leah reminds us to check out 1 Samuel 17:49.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: Yes, I'm sorry the troops in the tank are in danger. And I'm even sorrier they were put in that position by the fecklessness and strategic masterminding of President Vacation (back).

UPDATE Kerry's reaction to this incident:

“I saw on television before I came in here, the images that have not been as present as they might be to Americans, they're the images of a tank being hit by a rocket, RPG, the images of the wounded—our soldiers—our young men, scrambling out of the tank, bloody. That is the price of serving your country. We honor, every single one of us here today, we come here today first and foremost to say to our troops how proud we are of them, how grateful we are for their service to country, and how much we support them even as they carry out a difficult task at a difficult policy. No matter what our feelings about the war, we support the troops.''
(via MSNBC)

Damn straight. And who made the policy so goddamned "difficult"?

Spit in the Ocean 

Atrios points us to the news that the Pentagon is recognizing reality and is going to request more troops. This being the Bush Administration, of course, there's the fine print:

Abizaid told reporters in Iraq he wanted several thousand more troops, and indicated they may come from the 3rd Infantry Division, which only returned from its last Iraq deployment six months ago.

How sick is this joke? Earlier this week, while I was in France, Le Figaro quoted an analyst with Jane's Defence Weekly about the necessary U.S. response to the burgeoning revolt (no link, sorry). Advised the analyst: send in overwhelming force. "The first rule of counterinsurgency is that more troops you have, the fewer deaths you suffer." According to Jane's analyst, the conventional metric would dictate at least 500,000 troops in Iraq. We currently have 135,000.

Bush is sending in a few thousand. How long before people wake up to the lethal incompetence we've unleashed on ourselves?

"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on." --Catch-22

Reading Terminal: Philly shoots itself in the foot yet again 

So I'm blogging away, enjoying the Reading Terminal's new WiFi facility—and recharging my battery.

And a security guard walks up, and tells me I can't be plugged into the wall.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because it's wireless."

"That doesn't apply to the wire running into the wall! Can I talk to your supervisor?"

And so the supervisor comes over.

"Why can't I plug my computer into the wall?" I ask.

"Because you aren't paying for the electricity."

"Can I give you a quarter?"

"It's a policy."

"It's a stupid policy. I'm not going to spend my money here if I can't do this. Why did you get the WiFi installed? Can I talk to the marketing director?"

"I'm the marketing director. I'm the head of security."

Well. In some ways, no big thing. The security people were perfectly good humored and courteous. But it's still a stupid policy. I could be writing a laudatory posting about the Reading Terminal Market, just like I did last Saturday, hoped to this Saturday, and for many Saturdays to come, and instead I'm writing this.

Sheesh. Looks like I need to write to, attention "Kelly Novak," about how stupid this policy is. Readers, especially if you're from Philly, please feel free to write too.

"Bring it on!" 

They are, aren't they?

Editor and Publisher on Judy "Kneepads" Miller 

It's a three-ring circus! After Miller gets done clowning, Okrent comes on, and then Sulzberger. And none of them talk about the circus elephant: The way the Times, and so much of the SCLM, enabled the Iraq war by serving as "house organs" for Bush.

so far the public editor has looked the other way in failing to comment on the damning recent statement by Sulzberger on the Miller/WMD controversy. It constituted an indictment of the way he, and Miller's editors, saw her role in covering WMD and the war from "the inside" (reported at E&P Online, March 22).

Sulzberger admitted that Miller's sources were wrong "absolutely." But then "the administration was wrong ... So I don't blame Judy Miller for the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction. I blame the administration for believing its own story line to such a point that they weren't prepared to question the authenticity of what they were told."

Well, if [Miller's sources] weren't going to question themselves, wasn't it the role of the press to question them -- instead of so often acting as stenographers for inside sources and defectors? No one is blaming Miller for not finding WMD in Iraq (though she tried mightily while she was there), but rather for hyping their existence before and after the war. The Times too often swallowed the government's narrative on these weapons of mass disappearance.

And some high-placed intelligence analysts (not to mention other members of the media and vast numbers of the American public) surely believed in the authenticity of what the Times was telling them. One imagines a circle of blind animals, linked to one another: The Times tied to the tail ohttp:// the government which was tied to the tail of Iraqi defectors who were tied to the tail of the Times.
(via Editor and Publisher, from American Leftist)

A "circle of blind animals" ... Well put.

Fortunately, all the institutional problems that led of Miller's stenography have now been fixed, and current coverage of the Iraq war, the 9/11 commission, and the various criminal investigations under way against the Bush administration are in no way affected. Oh, wait...

Iraq insurgency: Contractor captured, held hostage 

More proof that we're winning:

Television footage on Saturday showed an American, apparently a civilian, being held hostage by Iraqi guerrillas.

Britain's Sky News aired film from Australia's ABC showing the man saying he had been seized after a convoy was attacked.

The Pentagon had said on Friday that several civilian contractors and two U.S. soldiers were missing after a military fuel convoy was ambushed on the main highway west of Baghdad.

"They attacked our convoy," the American said, sitting beside a hooded gunman in the back of a car before it sped off past a burning tanker truck on a major road.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said he was aware of the footage but could make no further comment on it. Up to four civilians may be missing after Friday's convoy attack, he added.

"I had as few as two and as many as four. But I haven't any hard numbers on contractors unaccounted for," he said.

Civilians are widely employed by the U.S. military in Iraq, as truck drivers and security guards among other tasks.
(via Reuters

This whole concept of privatizing the war isn't looking so good now, is it? Maybe the "largest mercenary army in the world" (See "Republic of Mercenaries," back) could go in and rescue the guy... Or maybe not...

NOTE As usual, get your war coverage (the Iraqi war, I mean) from The Agonist.

More troops to Iraq: Rummy to Abizaid: "Thanks for your input, now I'll decide." 

Sigh... Those cakewalkers just don't want to let go, do they?

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid has requested more forces for Iraq and was discussing plans Friday with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a senior defense official confirmed.

Abizaid told reporters in Iraq he wanted several thousand more troops, and indicated they may come from the 3rd Infantry Division, which only returned from its last Iraq deployment six months ago.

Pentagon officials said it was unlikely the 3rd ID would be called up so quickly.

The senior defense official said Abizaid's request was too specific for a warfighting commander to make. The forces Abizaid gets will be decided on by the Joint Staff in Washington. He is supposed to limit his requests to capabilities and Washington decides, based on scheduling and skills and equipment, how to fill those requirements.

Rumsfeld promised this week if Abizaid wanted more forces he would get them.
(via UPI)

Funny we need to do this to fight some bitter-enders, isn't it?

Remember how Shinseki was ridiculed and humiliated by exactly the same Washington cakewalkers who are now deciding for Abizaid? Sheesh!

Hey, here's an idea! Why don't we give a few (more) billions to Blackwater, and let them fight the whole thing?

NOTE For some very nice quotes on the cakewakers being very publicly wrong see the as-ever excellent Kos.

Iraq Insurgency: Iraqi Governing Council tottering 

An Iraqi "vocal supporter" just turned against us:

As the U.S. sought to stamp out uprisings across central and southern Iraq, its civilian administrators faced a different kind of turmoil in Baghdad.

A Shiite member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Abdul Karim Mohammedawi, suspended his membership in the 25-member body and four others threatened to follow suit to protest what they described as collective punishment of Fallouja residents by Marines.

"We condemned U.S. military operations in Fallouja which [were] a form of mass punishment in response" to last week's killing and mutilation of four U.S. security contractors, Adnan Pachachi, a senior council member, told Al Arabiya television. Pachachi has been one of the occupation's most vocal supporters.
(via LA Times)

Man, we can't even hold onto the stooges....

NOTE Excellent analysis from Billmon here.

The War President 

(for larger image visit: Michael Moore)

Those who take the most from the table
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the taxes are destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill
Speak to the hungry of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.
--Bertolt Brecht

NOTE For the original artist and mirror sites, see back here.

Bush flipflops the flipflop on the PDB 

Bush is a meta-flipflopper!

The classified briefing delivered to President Bush five weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks featured information about ongoing al Qaeda activities within the United States, including signs of a terror support network, indications of hijacking preparations and plans for domestic attacks using explosives, according to sources who have seen the document and a review of official accounts and media reports over the past two years.

The information on current threats in the briefing, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," stands in contrast to repeated assertions by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other Bush administration officials as recently as this week that the document is primarily historical and includes no warning or threat information.

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which has demanded that the 11/2-page document be declassified, referred to it in a March 24 report as "an article for the president's daily intelligence brief on whether or how terrorists might attack the United States."

White House officials, after indicating Thursday that the briefing document could be declassified within a day, announced yesterday that they were delaying any release until at least next week.

"We are actively working on declassification and are not quite ready to put it out," said Sean McCormack,
(via WaPo)

It takes a while to fill up a slime bucket as big as the one they'll need to beat this one.

"Bush Was Warned of Possible Attack in U.S., Official Says" 

Well, well, well.

WASHINGTON, April 9 — President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday.

A "government official"—Deep Throat2?

The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001. A report by a joint Congressional committee last year alluded to a "closely held intelligence report" that month about the threat of an attack by Al Qaeda, and the official confirmed an account by The Associated Press on Friday saying that the report was in fact part of the president's briefing in Crawford.

The disclosure appears to contradict the White House's repeated assertions ...

Masterful understatement!

that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was "historical" in nature and that the White House had little reason to suspect a Qaeda attack within American borders.
(via The Times)

And now Bush is on vacation again. Impeachment, anyone?

Calypso Fly Swat Jamboree 

The best posts are the ones that write themselves. Or better yet, the ones that someone else writes for you. Which is exactly the case as it applies to the following entry from MJS. Plus, you can dance to it.

by MJS

I was shaking the trees when a monkey fell out
He landed hard and he started to shout:
"Why everybody always messing with me?
I’m just a stupid monkey in a stupid tree!"

I was swatting at flies when the monkey came round
He got real mad and he jumped up and down:
Why everybody got to remind me
I need a fly swatter and a strategy!

Come on down now, come on down
Come on down now, come on down
Swat at the flies that are buzzing around
Swat the flies and shake the trees
That stupid monkey just do what he please

I was drinking a soda in the Lone Star state
Looking at the sky and thinking of fate
Just then a monkey on the radio station
He say: Don’t ask me nothin’ when I’m on vacation.

I was dodging a bullet in the sands of Iraq
I was hoping my buddies had covered my back
Just then a monkey fell out of they sky
And gave us fake turkey and a plastic pie

Come on down now, come on down
Come on down now, come on down
Swat at the flies that are buzzing around
Swat the flies and shake the trees
That stupid monkey just do what he please

I was shaking the trees when a monkey fell out
He landed hard and he started to shout:
Why everybody always messing with me?
I’m just a stupid monkey in a stupid tree

I was swatting at flies when the monkey came round
He got real mad and he jumped up and down:
Why everybody got to remind me
I need a fly swatter and a strategy!

(repeat chorus)

Lyrics by MJS.

Friday, April 09, 2004

5:00 horror: Bush flipflops on the PDB 

Like we knew he would (back):

The Bush administration announced Friday that it would declassify a top-secret presidential briefing paper [, titled ""Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,"] that outlined the threat from Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

It remained unclear whether the entire document would be declassified or the government would black out certain sections, claiming national security requirements.

"It comes from the most sensitive sources and methods that we have as a government," Vice President Dick Cheney [in2002, when the document was first requested]. "It's the family jewels, from that perspective."
(via Miami Herald)

Dick "Dick" Cheney's "family jewels"? Eeew....

And isn't it great that all the "foreign leaders" the wingers and their MWs were whining about can see that Bush can be rolled? Now that's really great for the country, isn't it?

"Bush Administration Says Voting Was Free From Fraud" 

In Algeria ...

Still, the kind of headline I like to see! (via AP)

The Days Of Our Lives 

This day, Tresy has returned from Paris. We may love Paris in the Springtime, (and we do) but we love Tresy all the days of our lives.

And now to two of our Friday not-regular features:

TODAYS QUESTION: Who said or implied that there was a "silver bullet" that could have prevented 9/11, by which, to be completely clear, we mean what happened on that day in 2001, and do not mean could have prevented the date or the day themselves from happening?

ANSWER TO TODAY'S QUESTION: No one. Absolutely no one. Mention of a "silver bullet" in relation to 9/11 occurred only in Condi Rice's rhetorical answer yesterday, during her public testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission, to a non-existent accusation.


If 233 is the answer, what are the questions?

Okay, it's a trick question. Here's a hint. Yes, there are two correct answers.

Another hint: If 78 is the question, what is the answer? Or, if 5 is the answer, what is the question? Last hint: If 500 is the answer, what are the questions? Yes, there are two correct answers to that one, too.

If we were as classy as the NYTimes Sunday Crossword Puzzle, we'd withhold the answer until tomorrow.

But we ain't, so here are the answers:*

233 is the number of days the Bush administration had been in office on the morning of 9/11, 2001; to be absolutely clear, that number does not refer only to that morning; the entire day was their 233rd day in office. For the reference see Condi Rice and at least one of the Commissioners.

233 is also the number of days since taking office that President George W. Bush has spent at his Crawford Texas ranch.

78 is the number of visits since taking office that he has made to Camp David.

5 is the number of visits since taking office that he has made to the family manse in Kennebunkport.

500 is the number of total days, thus far, that President Bush has spent in visits to these three "retreats."

500 days is also 40% of the number of days, thus far, that President Bush has been in office.

Please note: farmtoons accompanying illustration can be found here

We apologize if we may have seemed excessively tendentious in our phrasing of this post, but we are blogging under oath today. Exactly what oath we are, unfortunately, unable to specify in a PG-13 world, and on this, a family blog.**

*Answers courtesy of Josh Marshall and the WaPo.

**This is a family blog in the sense that all who post here are members of their own families, we like to think of Corrente and its readers as one kind of family and blogtopia, (thank-you skippy) itself as a proudly post-modern extended family that includes all manner of humankind, elfkind, hobbits, all animals, all non-vertebrates, all manner of flora and fauna, the oceans and all other waters, rising and not rising, the very planet itself, and all the rest of the universe. ***

***Andrew Sullivan liberal idiocy or liberal self-parody prophylactic: This statement is a willful exaggeration (see also irony, parody, and satire) of liberal inclusivity, though it is true that I loved the three Lord of the Ring movies, am inordinately fond of animals, wild and domesticated, plants as well as foodcrops, cultivated and uncultivated, as well as the planet itself and its human inhabitants, in the sense that Gary Snyder means in his brilliant little book, "The Practice Of The Wild," and I love a fair number of those humans; I'm not that fond of the universe - fascinating yes, but also awfully scary.

Updated for numerical accuracy: the correct number should have been 233, not 322. I win the booby prize.

UPDATE See farmer's portrait of President Vacation.

Red and blue 

Excellent analytical material here, on a series originally published in (where else...) the Austin American-Statesman.

Laugh along with aWol 

Jay Leno:

"The White House Easter egg hunt will be open to the public, but President Bush will not be there. How embarrassing would that be? It's bad enough he can't find weapons of mass destruction, what if he can't find any Easter Eggs either."

"President Bush has begun his Easter week vacation in Crawford, Texas. It's part of his plan to get in touch with ordinary Americans, to see what it's like to be at home and not working."
(via Reuters)

If only it didn't hurt so much when I laugh....

Bush in the White House: The lights are on, but nobody's home 

The numbers tell the story:

President Bush spent the second straight day out of public view on his ranch in Crawford, Tex.

This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
(via WaPo)

Of course, I guess we can all be thankful that Bush isn't working any more than he is ....

Ben-Veniste: Grandstanding by 9/11 commission members blew it 

If they didn't lay a glove on Condi, that's because they weren't punching.

As Ben-Veniste told Paula Zahn on CNN last night: "The difficulty was, in the format [with eveh member being given 10 minutes to speak], we just didn't have enough time to go into long answers and get our questions addressed."

He added: "Our point is this. We had intelligence information regarding al Qaeda operatives. We knew about planes as missiles. The question is, if we had butted heads together, because we knew the FBI wouldn't talk to the CIA. The CIA wouldn't talk to the FBI. This is a leadership issue to butt heads together and shake the trees and get the information that was in the system into the hands of individuals who could make a difference. We didn't do anything to protect our airports.

"There were CYA ["cover your ass"] missives going out, yes, there's a potential for hijacking. But nobody did anything different."
(Froomkin in WaPo)

Condi was waiting for the tree to shake, instead of shaking the tree herself.

Kerry weighs in on Iraq: Administration gridlocked by ideology and arrogance 

It's good to hear this said at last. Also, I like the measured way Kerry is talking here.

"This administration has been gridlocked by its own ideology and its own arrogance," Kerry told about two dozen Democratic donors at a breakfast meeting. "Yes, we can succeed but, boy I tell you, it's a lot tougher."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said President Bush should admit the conduct of the war in Iraq and the country's subsequent reconstruction "is more complicated than they thought it was."

Critics have complained that Bush rushed into war with Iraq on the advice of hawks in his administration like Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and without a realistic plan for its aftermath.

Kerry said Bush had failed to minimize the risk for U.S. soldiers in Iraq as well as the cost to taxpayers.

"This administration has stubbornly refused to involve other countries in the real decision-making," the Massachusetts senator said. "I think this is a failure of diplomacy, a failure of foreign policy, a failure of creative leadership."

Kerry said the United States now had three options in Iraq.

The first -- to continue along the same lines -- would mean American troops would remain exposed, taxpayers would bear billions of dollars in costs and "we will go down a very dangerous road where the outcome is very difficult.

Option two, you could just say 'okay, you guys don't want democracy? We'll see you. We're out of here.' Not acceptable, because nobody believes that we are better off with an Iraq that is unstable.

The third alternative -- what Kerry called the "smart" approach --- was to reach out boldly and clearly to the international community, explain their stake in not having a failed Iraq and give them real say in its transformation.
(via Reuters)

He's talkin' sense, Merle!

And Bush will reach out to anyone else when hell freezes over. Looks to me like the June 30 deadline is a fig leaf for option 2: "we're outta here." As usual, Atrios is right: We need to find something that works."

Readers, what do you think of Kerry's options? Are there others?

UPDATE Comment from alert reader SW:

Option #2 isn't a Bush option. They are building 14 permanant bases. We might cut and run regarding the pretense of reconstruction the country. But there is no way these guys are giving up their bases. The bases are why they fought the war. Getting someone to sign the treaty granting basing rights is the only purpose for the interim government that we are going to "hand off" soverignty to 9/30. So we are never leaving Iraq. They've got Gitmo in their eyes.

See Chalmers Johnson's The Story of Empire on this point.

Friday cat photos 

A little old, but still timely!

An elaborate Neolithic burial site uncovered in the Shillourokambos settlement on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus reveals that the friendship between cats and humans may go back 9,500 years. Prior to the discovery, Egyptians were thought to be the first to keep cats as pets, around 2,000 to 1,900 BC.

Scientists, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Science, say a skeleton of a young cat was found just a few inches from the remains of a human, buried in a similar fashion.
(via CNN)

And the cats weren't listening to us back then either (unless they wanted to, of course).

Paris in the Springtime 

Boy, look what happens when you go away to Paris for 2 weeks to catch a little RnR.

Watching the US screw up from a foreign vantage point is an interesting experience. First thing you discover: the rest of the world goes on. While the French press amply covered the disintegrating situation in Iraq, the main show was its own confrontation with the privatization and austerity policies of the Chirac government, reaction to which recently catapaulted the Left into the catbird seat in regional elections. If you want to see what vigorous public debate on domestic economic issues looks like, watch the French when their cherished social safety net is threatened. I realize (and so do the French, from the amount of play that foreign reaction to the anti-"reform" vote got in its own press) that with unemployment rate over 9%, a VAT of 19%, and public debt exceeding EU limits, the French may arguably be in a state of denial about the need for change.

But you know what? From what I could tell, they don't much care what the outside world thinks. And one has to admire a country that can actually drive the President to roll back at least one austerity measure because of its adverse effect on "young artists." As Tom Frank scathingly points out in the current Harper's, in America the Right can be on the verge of rolling back every progressive reform instituted since Teddy Roosevelt, and the very regions and sectors being decimated will vote to return the Right to power, as they have at every opportunity over the last 20 years. Thank you sir, may I have another?

Who's in denial?

There was also extensive, nearly obsessive coverage of the 10th Anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, and the extent of French complicity in the tragedy. I'll go out on a limb and guess there was nearly no such coverage in the US press, despite ample reason for self-criticism on our part.

From what I could tell, the semi-official French stance on our unfolding catastrophe in Iraq is one of genuine horror at the human tragedy and apprehension at the implications for the world economy. But it's hard to miss the self-desconstructing discourse of an editorial in Le Figaro reflecting this stance, headlined "Don't Taunt the Americans," which in the course of advising its readership to resist "Schadenfreude", couldn't help but recall that France pretty much advised, based on its own unhappy colonial experience, that this would happen. Still, Le Figaro insisted that fingerpointing be put aside in favor of supporting constructive solutions that recognize the critical importance of a stable Iraq to the world at large. Whether this is to include adding troops to Iraq, however, as the delusionary minds in our government seem to hope for, I very much doubt.

Meanwhile, meta-coverage of our own press "coverage" of the Falluja atrocities marveled at its willingness to self-censor the worst images for the sake of not repeating the Somalia experience, and unduly undermining the war effort. As one article drily observed, it's hard to maintain the official line about "foreign terrorists" and "dead enders" if you display footage of children kicking charred corpses.

As for the French "war on terror," obviously I can only speak from anecdotal evidence, but for the record, every subway and railway station trash can has been nailed shut, and street-level trash cans have been replaced by transparent plastic garbage bags. Every railway station is continually patrolled by teams of uniformed soldiers toting military assault weapons. Ubiquitous signs advise citizens to report any unattended parcels, which citizens seem to do: the Musee d'Orsee was evacuated while we were there for just this reason.

Meanwhile, while standing in line at Customs in the Atlanta airport yesterday, I was able to discard my sandwich wrapper into a lovely metal trash can.

Then again, as Condi was testifying at more or less the same time, "no silver bullet" can stop a terrorist attack.

President Vacation 

BUSH: "I can't swat at flies anymore." (via Condi here).

Now we know why!

NOTE Thanks to The Agonist for the snappy headline.

UPDATE The latest lyrics from MJS "Swat the flies and Shake the Trees," up here.

A little reality therapy on the jobs numbers from Paul Krugman 

We all should have thought of this as soon as the numbers came out. Where's our war room?

For perspective, it helps to remember what solid job growth looks like. During Bill Clinton's eight years in office, the economy added 236,000 jobs per month. But that's just an average: a graph of monthly changes looks like an electrocardiogram. There were 23 months with 300,000 or more new jobs; in March 2000, the economy added 493,000 jobs. This tells us not to make too much of one month's data; payroll numbers are, as economists say, noisy. It also tells us that by past standards, March 2004 was nothing special.

And we should be seeing something special, because our economy should be on the rebound. Bad times are usually followed by big bouncebacks; for example, last year long-suffering Argentina had the fastest growth rate in the Western Hemisphere (8.7 percent!), not because of the excellence of its economic policies, but because it was recovering from a severe slump.

America hasn't had an Argentine-level slump, but we have a lot to recover from. After three years of lousy job performance, we should be seeing very big employment gains — and even after last month's report, we're not. It would take about four years of reports as good as the one for March 2004 before jobs would be as easy to find as they were in January 2001.
(via The Times)

We're still too easily intimidated....

Bush has now managed to unite the Shi'ites and the Sunnis 

We always knew he could do it!

Anbari, like other Sunni clerics, insists that while the insurgencies may reinforce each other, they do not share a command. "There is no connection. Each is its own phenomenon," he said. "But finally both of them are aiming for the benefit of the country, because the enemy is the same."

The notion of occupier as enemy appears to be spreading here. Several Baghdad residents said they were responding to the Fallujah appeal with the urgency and resolve seen after a catastrophic natural disaster. As appeals issued from the minaret loudspeakers, hotel workers, security guards and businessmen listened intently to the call for assistance to "the good people of Iraq who are facing the fire of coalition forces," then returned to work wearing solemn expressions.

"We don't need a call from the mosque," said Mohammed Najem Mausoumi as he gave blood in Kadhimiya. "A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim. This is the real Islam."

Like others in the cheerfully crowded tent, he bristled at being asked whether he was Shiite or Sunni.

A few moments earlier, Wan, the elderly contributor, had done the same. "Muslim!" she shouted, stamping a foot for emphasis. "Mohammed!"

The Sunni-Shiite divide, already narrower in Iraq than in some parts of the Muslim world, is by all accounts shrinking each day that Iraqis agree their most immediate problem is the occupation.
(via WaPo)

Well, when Bush comes back from vacation I'm sure he'll take care of it.

NOTE Kos (as usual) has excellent analysis, interpreting this as the beginning of a true Iraqi nation-state. Who knew?

Down the memory hole with Fat Tony 

Of course, Scalia never wants anything taped ("plausible deniability") except he forgot to announce that at this particulular event.

A federal marshal guarding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ordered two reporters to erase audio recordings they were making of Scalia's speech to a group of high school students in Mississippi on Wednesday, prompting protests from local journalists who said they were victims of official interference with the press.

"I find it very curious where a Supreme Court justice spends a significant amount of time talking about the Constitution, he seems to omit the part about freedom of the press," said Jon Broadbooks, executive editor of the [Hattiesburg] American. "What authority does the marshal service have to try to confiscate reporters' tape recorders?"
(via WaPo)

None whatever, Jon. Your point?

In the Light of the Silvery Naked Moon! 

John Gorenfeld has the Rev. Syung Myung Moon's latest post "cornonation" caper which features a recent photo of the majestic Rev. Moon hisself dressed up like some guy from one of those old Emperial margarine commercials. Also includes a link to a fundraiser dinner where the True Parental unit heaps chicken-ala-king onto that Jesus shoutin' hillbilly Roscoe Bartlett's banquet plate. Harold Ford Jr. too. (yeeks - what's with that guy?)

Plus, there's some nudity stuff and sex stuff too.

By all couples sleeping naked together will get rid of all homosexuality. In the night everything will be unified into one.

Cool. Just like sophmore year in college. At least back in the mid-seventies. Before there were homosexauls. Well, maybe there were one or two hairy-backed fruits chasing Andrew Sullivan around the Boatslip in P-Town, but that was about it. Otherwise, no, but lots of cheap Ludes! And 40 cent Buckhorns! Cheap Ludes and 40 cent Buckhorns and skinny-dip swimmin' with bow-legged women! Where do you think two thirds of the current suburban population of Columbus, Ohio came from anyway. Huh?

Well, that was back when you could feel confident about sleeping naked with just about anything over the age of 16 wearing a halter top or a Foghat T-shirt. Sadly, those halcyon days are gone, by and by, and I myself no longer sleep naked with anyone at all anymore - ever. Including Mrs. Farmer who was carted off by the UPS "man" (who I had always warned was a night feeding homosexual) several years ago during a freakish ice storm. Ever since that cold barbaric nordic evening I have slept in a pair of Kangaroo Upland Bird Boots and a warm pair of neoprene socks, one on each foot, so that I can easily flee in the dead of night, in the event homosexual teenage girls come for me too, and try to charm me with cheap quaaludes or force me listen to Grace Jones records!

"In the night everthing will be unified into one."

Beware the tuxedo Moonie. Flee in the night. Flee in comfort. Flee in Neoprene!


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Bush about to flip flop on PDB 

You know, the one presented to Bush at his "ranch" with the title "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Members of the commission, who have been allowed to read the August 2001 report but have not been allowed until today to discuss most of its contents, joined unanimously on Thursday in calling for the entire document to be declassified and made available to the public.

In response, the White House said it was hurriedly trying to declassify the report, and White House aides said it could be made public as early as Friday, an extraordinary reversal by the White House given its insistence a year ago that the contents of the President's Daily Brief were so highly classified that they could not be released even to the commission.
(via NY Times)

Extraordinary? What's extraordinary about (a) Bush caving and (b) using classification to cover his ass, all the while claiming he's acting on principle, and then (c) throwing the principles overboard when the heat gets too great?

Bush lied, people died 

Thanks to American Leftist. (This site doesn't seem to make individual posts addressable, so scroll down to "Sunday, April 04, 2004". There are fullsize images there, and mirror sites.)

Via The Poorman via Sisyphus Shrugged.

Republic of Mercenaries: Large part of the Iraqi war completely privatized—and completely out of control 

I can't believe today could get any weirder, but it has.

Under assault by insurgents and unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence or help under duress, private security firms in Iraq have begun to band together in the past 48 hours, organizing what may effectively be the largest private army in the world, with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence.

"There is no formal arrangement for intelligence-sharing," Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command headquarters in Baghdad, said in an e-mail in response to questions. "However, ad hoc relationships are in place so that contractors can learn of dangerous areas or situations."
(via WaPo)

Ad hoc? WTF? Sounds like plausible deniability to me.

There is no government vetting of contract workers who carry weapons. "The CPA has let all kinds of contracts to all kinds of people," said one senior Defense Department official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "It's blindsided us."

Combine that with the this Letter from a contractor (via Atrios) about Ugly American behavior from the mercenaries, and you get a very, very ugly picture.

Wait 'til one of these cowboys blows up a bus with pilgrims in it...

NOTE For more on Iraq mercenaries, and how they are being run by Republican operatives see back here.

How to fight the Qaedasphere? 

I don't know, but the first step is surely understanding the enemy, which Bush, Condi, Rummy, Cheney and the rest of the gang have consistently failed to do.

"It's a loose network of the willing," a Marine colonel lately returned from Baghdad told me Wednesday. "We are a hierarchy, so we look for other hierarchies to fight. But it's clear that what we are facing in Iraq is network-based. There's no one leader or leadership -- just like the first Palestinian intifada against the Israelis. That was a network of local groups who were able to give the appearance of a national movement. You can deal with that, but it takes maybe 10 years. We can't even plan for the next two months."
(via Alexander Cockburn in Salon)

Leaderless resistance, eh? Why the heck can't the wingers understand that?

Lots of other good stuff in this article. Get the Salon day pass.

Republic of Mercenaries: Get your mercenary gear! 

From the Blackwater Pro Shop.

Yech. Though on the other hand, why not appropriate the imagery? (via TBogg).

Bush diplomacy: Piss all over them, then demand their help 

Is this pitiful, or what?

The United States has asked more than a dozen countries to join a new international military force to protect the United Nations in Iraq, a proposal critical to persuading the world body to return there after two massive suicide attacks against its Baghdad headquarters last year, State Department officials said.

Washington has approached France, which led opposition to the war in Iraq, as well as India, Pakistan and other nations that were reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq, U.S. and European officials said. The list includes "a good global mix," said a State Department official familiar with the proposed force. But no Arab countries or neighbors of Iraq are on the list, with Turkey notably absent.
(via WaPo)

Asking for help from the cheese-eating surrendur monkies... Oh, heck, that was just a little towel-snapping, Jacques! All in fun ... And that "old Europe" stuff? Well, you know Rummy... And the UN—we're all paid up now, right? No? I'll put Condi right on it....


We know that Bush took time off from massaging contributors in Crawford today to phone Condi and tell her she did a great job. But he didn't say at what. Whatever it was, it wasn't lying, 'cause these lies aren't any good at all!

August 6 PDB

CLAIM: There was "nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S." in the Presidential Daily Briefing the President received on August 6th. [responding to Ben Veniste]

FACT: Rice herself confirmed that "the title [of the PDB] was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'" [Source: Condoleezza Rice, 4/8/04]
(via CAP)

Of course, if it were something important, like a blow job....

Readers? Any lawyers out there who can say whether this is perjury as opposed to just liking? It looks like a direct contradiction to me, and she was under oath.

From Crawford, Bush panders to so-called "hunters" 

I guess if you've got $20,000 dollars free you can call yourself a sportsman or whatever you damn please.

Bush roamed his 1,600-acre ranch with about 20 representatives of hunting and fishing groups.

But one of the current president's own aides has strongly criticized the practices of one of the hunting groups visiting the ranch on Thursday.

Matthew Scully, a presidential speechwriter, accused Safari Club International of mistreating animals in his 2002 book, "Dominion."

The club's members pay up to $20,000 to hunt elephants, lions or other animals, either abroad or in American "safari ranches," where the animals are penned in by fences.
Scully said the organization turned nature "into an endless theme park and the creatures into so many animatronic figures."

Scully did not return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
(via AP)

Heh. Wonder how long Scully's going to keep his job?

The Widows rip Condi a new one 

It was Condi's job to get the information

MATTHEWS: You once said that she was either lying or she’s incompetent. What do you think of her now? Do you think that’s still a fair judgment, I mean if it ever was one?

BREITWEISER: I have to say, with a laundry list of questions that that Commissioner Lehman asked her, she said she didn’t know a lot of things. And I would question what exactly did she know? And if she didn’t know it, who else would know it?

It’s her job to know that information. It’s her job to relay that information to the president and to actually, in our opinion, inform the public.
(via MSNBC)

Condi had to have known that airplanes could have been used as missiles

MATTHEWS: Let’s go through the points mentioned.

Condoleezza Rice today said that she’d never been briefed on planes being used as missiles. She reiterated that today, even though we know that Richard Clarke – and this has been uncontested – had prepared as far back as 1996 for planes being used as missiles at the Atlanta Olympics.

BREITWEISER: Not only the Atlanta Olympics, but they were doing workups for the Utah Olympics. So you know what? How does she not know that? You take the G8 Summit…

Unasked and answered question: Why no meetings to "shake the trees"?

KLEINBERG: Right. And the other thing that strikes me is that they’re talking about the FBI and the CIA not speaking to each other. Historically, that has been the case. What I don’t understand is that, considering that we knew that there was this threat, OK, why they didn’t have them in a meeting?

You know, Richard Clarke said that during the millennium plot, they had all of the principals involved in a meeting together to make sure that they could overcome that stone wall. Why couldn’t we do that? And why did they poo-poo it and they say no big deal and we didn’t need the meeting? How did they know that? Maybe if the FBI, the CIA, and the attorney general and everybody was in one room and they were talking about all of the issues – and where the threat was coming from-- they would have been able to pull at these threads.

Unasked and unanswered question: Why weren't the fighters scrambled?

MATTHEWS: I want to talk to you about the people who may have dropped the ball.

VAN AUKEN: Well, my first reaction is there’s another part to Condoleezza Rice’s statements, which was that they were focused on traditional hijackings. And they did nothing to thwart a traditional hijacking on that day either.

So when a plane misses its mark in the sky – you have a very crowded Northeast corridor – you can’t have errant planes running around there. Nobody sent up a fighter jet to go see what was happening, not to shoot the plane down, but to intercept it. So I don’t understand, if they were focused on traditional hijackings and even had that as a warning inside the PDB, why they were so slow to respond.

Unasked and answered questions: How did some officials know to stop flying?

LORIE VAN AUKEN, WIDOW OF 9/11 ATTACK: We also know that people stopped flying domestically. Ashcroft stopped flying. Pentagon officials stop flying the day before September 11. They were warned not fly on September 11. We think San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was told not to fly. That’s all domestic. You know, everybody keeps telling us how they were focused outward.

MATTHEWS: You’re talking about before 9/11 they were warned?

VAN AUKEN: Yes. Yes, right.

Fact checking Condi's ass 

Nice to have this in the same news cycle!

Thanks, Center for American Progress (via Atrios).

Say, how's that perjury charge against Richard Clarke coming? 

Condi: Waiting for the tree to shake, instead of shaking the tree 

I guess this glossary thing is catching on. Slate's William Saletan has a good one: "Decoding Rice's self-serving testimony". My favorite:

Chance: Factors that the administration couldn't be expected to influence because they were non-systematic. Example (answering charges that the administration might have disrupted the 9/11 plot by holding regular Cabinet "principals" meetings on terrorism): You cannot depend on the chance that some principal might find out something in order to prevent an attack. That's why the structural changes that are being talked about here are so important. Synonym: Lucky. Example: I do not believe that it is a good analysis to go back and assume that somehow maybe we would have gotten lucky by "shaking the trees." … We had a structural problem.

Bottom line: They didn't have the information because they didn't make it a priority to get the information. Just like Clarke said (back here).

First Thoughts on Condi 

Blame The Clenis™!

"We believed very strongly that an inadequate response would embolden the terrorists"—or words to that effect.

This in response to Gov. Thompson's half-assed question meant to give Ms. Condi a chance to alibi why the Bush administration had absolutely no response to the Cole bombing. Granted it had happened on the Clinton watch, but only two months before they left office, and they passed onto the Bush administration their policy, which was well along in establishing on an "actionable" basis that Al Queda and Osama were to be blamed, and such action would have included following through on their strategic previous promise to the Taliban that were there to be another attack, like the Cole, that could be tied to AQ and Osama, the Taliban government would be held responsible and be the object of direct sanctioning action, including possible military action.

Note that once the Bushies had the confirmation that it was the usual suspects, which had to be early in their administration, they did nothing - nothing strategic, nothing tactical. That was the distinction Condi made for Sen. Kerrey when he also asked about the Cole. Essentially, the Clinton administration had determined that they too needed to frame a strategic response to the Cole, for which they needed to pin down responsibility to the Afghanistan based Taliban, but they ran out of time. The Bush administration at the highest levels—Cheney, Wolfie, Rummy, and Condi—decided a response to the Cole profited them nothing, and they didn't need to worry about getting criticism because Clinton could always be blamed.

Note the assumption that whatever was good for the Bush administration was what was good for America. Note also, that their lack of response did not keep them and their surrogates, and with Condi's testimony today those at the heart of this administration have to be included here, from blaming the Cole on Clinton, and basking in the ignominy that accrued to their predeccesors' so-called lack of response, though their lack of response was based on better intelligence than the Clinton administration had, but for exactly the same reasons. Audacious arrogance!

"You cannot depend on the chance that something will fall out of an agency, a meeting, or whatever the hell those stupid Clinton people claim they were doing when they were at THEIR so-called battlestations," or words to that effect.

This at the end, in response to Thompson. Yes, but what you can depend on is that nothing, no information, no dots to be connected, will fall from nothing, from no meetings, from a total lack of attention.

Condi revels in heaping scorn on "process," that favorite of the do-nothing Clintons; that process is substance and substance is process is too post-modern for Condi; maybe why she doesn't see that saying what your policy is, talking about grand strategic visions, "framing" arguments are not the same, though not unrelated to, TAKING ACTION! The Clinton battlestations had worked to thwart any AQ attacks on American soil for the eight years following the first Trade Center bombing; maybe until they had their own doubtless superior battlestations up and running, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to continue some of what had worked for the previous administration.

Note also how meaningless were those daily briefings of the President by CIA chief Tenant. And not because of any fault of the President necessarily. The Clinton administration's daily meetings at the next level down made more sense.

The emphasis on the August 6 briefing of the President by Condi in Crawford is amusing - as if anyone really expects this President to connect any dots on his own. If Condi et al didn't connect the dots, they weren't going to be connected.

Initial response to this morning: Condi seemed defensive, had clearly come with talking points she looked forward to using to gain control of the hearing. She looked combative, contemptuous; where was all that charm - or do they just mean her smile, which I'll give her, is an exceedingly nice one. And note that she gave them exactly three hours and not a minute more. The rightwing will revel in her contempt for this process and the Commissioners tasked with carrying it out. I don't think most other Americans will. I don't think she beat back Clarke, and I don't think this is over.

One indication - MSNBC has the four widows on right now, and they are ripping all kinds of new orifices in Condi's testimony. Mindy Kleinberg has just asked the question that even if no dots could be connected before 9/11, what about that morning, what about the President finally hearing that two different airplanes had crashed into the WTC, wasn't that the time that any decently prepared administration would have finally had to connect the dots, in which case, why did President Bush read a story to a class of children?

More later: let us know what you thought.

Clarke on Condi: She proves my point 

They didn't have the information because they didn't take the trouble to get the information. Important, just not urgent.

Clarke: Well, Peter, I was asked by Senator Gorton if the adoption of the strategy in February, as opposed to September, would have stopped 9/11, and I said no. And Dr. Rice said no. I think we agree on that.

The adoption of the strategy would not have stopped 9/11. What I've said might have had some effect on 9/11 would have been if Dr. Rice and the president had acted personally, gotten involved, shaken the trees, gotten the Cabinet members involved when they had ample warning in June and July and August that something was about to happen.

And frankly, I think that Dr. Rice's testimony today, and she did a very good job, basically corroborates what I said. She said that the president received 40 warnings face to face from the director of central intelligence that a major al Qaeda attack was going to take place and she admitted that the president did not have a meeting on the subject, did not convene the Cabinet.
She admitted that she didn't convene the Cabinet. And as some of the commissioners pointed out, this was in marked contrast to the way the government operated in December of 1999, when it had similar information and it successfully thwarted attacks.

So I don't see that there are a lot of factual problems with what Dr. Rice said.

There are one or two other minor points here or there that I think are probably wrong, but overall I think she corroborated what I said. She said it was inefficient to bring the Cabinet members together to have them work to stop the attacks that they had been informed were coming.
(via ABC)


While Crawford slept ....

Rice transcript 

9/11 Commission: Bush still suppressing documents 

First, Bush hides them. Then, he tries to suppress them. Then he flipflops and says he'll release them. The commission goes through them and says what it wants. Then Bush flipflops again and holds some of them back. Stonewall!

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks announced yesterday that it has identified 69 documents from the Clinton era that the Bush White House withheld from investigators and which include references to al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other issues relevant to the panel's work.

The White House turned over 12 of the documents to the commission yesterday, officials said. But 57 others, which were not specifically requested but "nonetheless are relevant to our work," remain in dispute, according to a commission statement. The panel has demanded the documents and any similar ones from the Bush administration.
(via WaPo)

Meanwhile, the WhiteWash House says they're "continuing to cooperate." Man, if this is cooperation, I wonder what resistance looks like? Come to think of it, I do know. They haven't actually tried to arrest any Democrats yet, like they did on the House floor last year... Yeah, cooperation....

Condi-lie-zza under oath: An instant "gap analysis" from Walter Pincus 

Walter Pincus chatting:

Toronto, Canada: You wrote that there were some gaps that critics would pursue. What were the most glaring gaps, in your opinion?

Walter Pincus: One obvious gap is just what the Aug. 6 PDB said about FBI concerns about then current al Qaeda highjacking talk and what was done about it. Another was what followup came after the July 5 meeting she had with Clarke where the commissioners have been told the warning about a spike in terrorist threats never was passed down the line to FBI field offices, for instance. And what did Chief of Staff Andy Card do to follow up.
(via WaPo (live))

And because of the deal Kean made to get Condi to testify, they can't call her (or anyone) back, to reconcile the gaps. And people call this commission partisan?!

So how's Condi doing? 

Feel free to post the play-by-play here.

And watch for the questions (back) ....

UPDATE Now they tell us. The Pulitzer-impaired World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) found space on its front page for an article about sushi this morning, but not for a guide to Condi's appearance before the 9/11 Commission. Sigh. Anyhow, they've published one now.

UPDATE Rice weaseling:

Rice said that when the Bush administration took office, the emphasis was on continuity, and several Clinton national security officials, including counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke, were retained. But she did not attempt to directly rebut Clarke's charges that the Bush administration did not take the terrorist threat as seriously as the Clinton administration had.

Commissioners grandstanding:

The panel decided in a closed-door meeting last night that each member would have about 10 minutes of questioning and that they would proceed in alphabetical order, several members said. The approach is a departure from the commission's previous practice of appointing two lead questioners who had more time than the others, and reflects the members' desire to be aggressively involved in the high-profile hearing.

The problem is, that you can't accomplish very much in 10 minutes. Bad idea.

Families applauding as a PDB gets read from (an old one, though):

Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democrat, was the first of the 10 members of the bipartisan panel to challenge Rice, focusing particularly on a briefing given to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at which a document was presented entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

As members of the audience, including some family members of 9/11 victims applauded, Ben-Veniste demanded that the report be declassified. He said even its title had been kept secret until now. Rice said it contained no specific threats.

Which Condi says is "old reporting."

Condi, your point?

The point is not that the information was not in that report. The point is that the administration didn't believe it was urgent enough to follow up on. It's their job to figure out what imformation is important, and go get it!

Condi (if she isn't lying) seems to think of herself as a passive consumer of intelligence: if it isn't "actionable," she does nothing. Where was the plant to get actionable intelligence? Well, the man with a plan had to wait eight months for a meeting....

A taxonomy of lying 

From CNN here, Rutgers law professor Sherry Kolb:

This quote stings:

Suppose that -- as many suspect has already occurred with respect to the Iraq War -- our executive branch officials lie to the American people in order to motivate important votes, and those lies lead to unnecessary and unwanted death and injury.

In that case, such lies, whether under oath or not, should be treated as the crimes that they are and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The news hook is Condi testifying under oath. I wonder why?

Explosions inside the Green Zone 

Retrain your attention here 

Say hello to Approximately perfect

Oh. My. God
A picture of John Ashcroft made entirely with little photos of porn people.

There's an oily lubricant joke there somewhere.

Hey! Remember when we were all going to be retrained to work in high paying high tech gizmoparks on whirring computers and learn how to plug one fancy gizmopark into another fancy gizmopark and deliver lusty bid'ness to bid'ness "services" to whoever the hell wanted that crap in the first place? And then - all retire to our all humming networked wonder homes in the Pacific Pallisades at the age of 45? Rememeber all that bullshit? So we all went out and got ourselves a heapin' helpin' of retrainin' and relearnin' and gizmopark accessorizin' including plowing through reams of imbecilic computer-lingo techno-jibberish HELP! books written by functional illiterates who couldn't compose a coherent sentence if their reproductive organs depended on it - and all that? Whatever. Well, forget it. Its time to git retrained in something else.

I'm not yet sure what that something else is but I have a feeling it might involve ringing doorbells and asking some poor tired bastard hiding inside if they've heard the good news; Jesus Holyrollin' Christ is coming, and I have a little booklet written by functional illiterates that I'd like you to read right now.

Or, maybe we'll all be retrained as porn stars? In either case, your reproductive organs may depend on it!


Visit: BUS CAMPAIGN LIES: and read....... Bush Campaign Lie #22: The Bush Plan Will 'Double the Number of Workers Receiving Job Training'.


Night of the Condi 

Condolizzard Rice channels her inner reptile in preparation for today's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

When The Music's Over (rearranged)

What have they done to the earth? - Ravaged and plundered And ripped her - And bit her - Stuck her with knives - In the side of the dawn - And tied her with fences - And dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound - With your ear down to the ground - We want the world and we want it, We want the world and we want it, now - Now? Now!

Persian night! babe - See the light! babe - Save us! Jesus! Save us!

Turn out the light - For the music is your special friend - Dance on fire as it intends - Music is your only friend - Until the end - Until the end - Until the end

With apologies to The Doors


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Republic of Mercenaries 

Excellent analytical post on Iraq mercenaries by Kathryn Cramer.

Did you know that "British mercenary firms now qualify as the UK's most lucrative export earner from the country in the past year"? I certainly didn't.

Of course, in our country, mercenaries both foreign and domestic are
run by Republican operatives.

Maybe this is what is meant by becoming a service economy...

Condi-lie-zza's "mindset" excuse; How stupid do they think we are? 

I have to say, if Condi, her handlers, and (now that Bush is vacationing once again) Acting President Rove think this piece of spin is going to win for them, they should think again:

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice plans to testify tomorrow that the Bush administration was acting in a pre-Sept. 11 mindset in its efforts to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and must be judged in that context, administration officials said yesterday. (via WaPo)

So, she agrees! The Bush adminsitration's focus on states prevented them from seeing the real menace clearly—or listening to anyone would could have set them straight.

It's their job to get into the right mindset.

And then, in their post-9/11 mindset.... They invaded Iraq.

And here we are. I don't care if she she sings like Condi-lie-zza Minelli...

And for those of you who will be able to follow along at home, here are the questions the 9/11 "Family Steering Committee would like Condi to answer. Let's see if any of them get asked. Here's a good one:

5. After the revelation of the Aug 6th Presidential Daily Briefing which warned that terrorists may hijack planes, you explained,

“It was an analytic report that talked about UBL’s [bin Laden's] methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998.
It mentioned hijacking, but hijacking in the traditional sense and, in a sense, said that the most important and most likely thing was that they would take over an airliner, holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives.” LINK

Comment: Al Qaeda attacks have one goal--- killing as many people as possible, usually in a spectacular way. Further, al Qaeda’s attacks are often lethal, well-planned, simultaneous strikes against symbolic or high-profile targets. Those characteristics are inconsistent with the conclusion that the most likely scenario would be hijackings in the traditional sense, especially when coupled with bin Laden’s declaration in 1998 that "every American should be a target for Muslims,” and that it is “the duty of Muslims to confront, fight, and kill British and American citizens." LINK

Please describe the analysis of al Qaeda methods of operation and what bin Laden had done historically which led you to conclude that an al Qaeda attack would be simple hijackings?

Good question! I certainly hope Condi's handlers have prepared for it, and I hope someone on the 9/11 commission asks it.

Iraq insurgency: Sunnis and Shi'ites joining forces, while Sistani calls for calm 

More doubleplusungood news:

Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued his first official comments about the violence on Wednesday evening, condemning the U.S. approach to dealing with the Shiite uprising. In a written statement bearing his seal, Sistani called for both sides to pursue a peaceful resolution and "refrain from escalating steps that will lead to more chaos and bloodshed."

But across Baghdad, Sistani's moderate message appeared to have been drowned out by an increasingly vocal cry from mosque minarets for people to resist the occupation and to donate money and blood to help resistance fighters in Fallujah. In perhaps the clearest sign yet of the convergence of Sunni and Shiite uprisings, announcements from Shiite mosques called on people to help Sunnis in Fallujah, while residents of Sunni neighborhoods lauded Sadr and his followers.

Portraits of Sadr and graffiti lauding him have appeared on mosques and government buildings in Sunni towns west of Baghdad, according to Arab media reports. On Monday night, gunmen loyal to Sadr joined with Sunni insurgents in Baghdad in attacking U.S. soldiers on patrol in the first reported act of collaborative Sunni-Shiite resistance activity.

"The Sunnis and Shiites are now together," said Fatah Abdel-Razzaq, 31, the owner of a falafel stand in Sadr City, a sprawling slum of 2 million that has long served as Sadr's stronghold.

In Karbala, as with Kufa and other cities south of Baghdad, Sadr's militiamen have assumed effective control of the municipality. Black-shirted members of the Mahdi Army have taken over police stations and government buildings.
(via WaPo)

It's great that we sought out Sistani (really rather moderate) so now when we need a calming influence. Oh, wait ...

It is possible, of course, that Sadr launched his uprising because he knew he was on the way out, and so good will come of all this, since the Iraqi majority will... well, do what, exactly?

Vote for Chalabi? Well, maybe not.

Split the country into three parts? Turkey would be very unhappy about a Kurdish state, and we would be very unhappy if (say) a Shi'ite south allied itself with (nuclear capable) Shi'ite Iran, and (nuclear) Pakistan. Well, maybe not.

Let us occupy their country for the forseeable future? Well, maybe not.

What are the good outcomes from this, anyhow? Readers?

NOTE From alert reader Xan, Juan Cole gives the reasons Iraq and Iran won't get together, even if they're both Shi'ites; but then we counted on the Shi'ites never getting together with the Sunnis either ....

Well, There's Still Afghanistan To Feel Good About 

Much more to say about Iraq, but listening to Rumsfeld's afternoon news conference, yes, we're finally sending more troops, made me so angry, I have to calm down before I can have anything sensible to say.

So, let's look at the good news from Afghanistan. No, not this. Or this. Or this.

The good news is that an official report has bubbled up to the surface of media consciousness that lays out specifically the ways in which the Bush administration went for a quick, cheap, dirty victory against the Taliban, and achieved almost nothing of lasting value, not even any certainty that the Taliban is truly vanquished.

I know you knew that, but this story puts the issue back in play.

Better news even than that, Sy Hersh is all over the report, the retired military man who wrote it, and you know what that means.

Everything you ever suspected about bribing war lords and not giving a damn about putting Afghanistan back together is true.

Go read.

He's A Uniter, Not A Divider 

Something so satisfying about this headline:

"Terrorism Policy Spawns Steady Staff Exodus"

And the reporter isn't just talking about in the last forty-eight hours.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism.

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

Some also left because they felt President Bush had sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the "war on terror," former counterterrorism officials said.

"I'm kind of hoping for regime change," one official who quit told Reuters

There's more.

Life in a democracy is so much cheerier when journalists actually do some journalism.

This wasn't necessarily an obvious story, and not particularly glamorous, but it's the kind of connecting the dots summary I surely do admire.

Props to Caroline Drees and Reuters

So much for real estate with an ocean view 

And goodbye Manhattan....

The Greenland ice sheet is all but doomed to melt away to nothing, according to a new modelling study. If it does melt, global sea levels will rise by seven metres, flooding most of the world's coastal regions.

Jonathan Gregory, a climatologist at the University of Reading, UK, says global warming could start runaway melting on Greenland within 50 years, and it will "probably be irreversible this side of a new ice age". The only good news is that it a total meltdown is likely to take at least 1000 years.
(via New Scientist)

Heck, they vote Blue... Who needs 'em ....

Say, what about AQ's #2? I thought we were going to capture him in Pakistan? 

Just asking.

Of course, all the Iraqi stuff may have gotten in the way .....


This one's gotta sting:

The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone.
(via Harold Meyerson in WaPo from Atrios)

Welcome to the party, Harold...

And this one too:

"Where are the people with the flowers, throwing them in the streets, welcoming the American liberators the way Dick Cheney said they would be?" Kerry said. "This is one of the greatest failures of diplomacy and failures of judgment that I have seen in all the time that I've been in public life."
(via Newsday

Everything Is Going As Predicted 

Doesn't the following read like a parody?

SHIELDS: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American security workers were killed in an ambush by machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A cheering crowd dragged their burned and mutilated bodies through the streets and hanged two bodies from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what will be the impact of this atrocity on Iraq, on American policy and American politics?

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Mark, it gives lie to the theory that we've turned the corner in Iraq or that this is -- the violence is the work of foreign Islamic militants. To watch that vitriolic, vituperative, teeming crowd cheering the mutilation of those Americans, women, you know, throwing things at the body, their shoes at the body, a 12-year-old poking the corpses, was -- was as unsettling about our future as it was repulsive to watch. And the Bush administration, thinking about its own reelection, has come up with this foolish June 30 turnover date. Turn over to whom? The Iraqi governing council, over one third exiles, has no credibility in the country. From talking to people who have been there -- and I certainly have not -- the Sunni triangle is as anti- American as ever. The majority Shi'ites have a virtual veto power, and are willing to use it, over almost anything we want to do. And we're still paying a price because Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ignored General Shinseki, who said we're going to need more troops there afterwards.

The final, ultimate irony is the one Bush hope, the only hope right now, is that the United Nations special envoy, Brahimi (ph), can somehow negotiate something over the next six to eight weeks.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, General Anthony Zinni, the CENTCOM command commander prior to -- prior to the war, Marine four-star general, said this will scare off international participation. We're going to find ourselves increasingly alone in Iraq.

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) alone right now. Anybody who thought that being an occupying power in Iraq hasn't read their history in the slaughter of the British troops in 1918 and 1919. But we are there, and this is not like Somalia under the Clinton administration, where there was a very small commitment, and you could cut and run and it wasn't even much of a political embarrassment. I would think that this would strengthen the resolve of the American people, the outrage over it.

I think, quite frankly, Democrats who take the line that -- who follow Al's line and decide they're going to make this a Bush-bashing -- Bush administration-bashing operation are making a mistake, and I think Senator Kerry, instead of limiting himself to outrage over this, saying, Oh, this is because we didn't bring the U.N. -- I think that's a political mistake.

SHIELDS: Political mistake, Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, you know, America's there, America must stay. But the people who didn't read about occupying forces and what they might meet is the Pentagon, not the State Department but the Pentagon, who insisted on believing Ahmad Chalabi, who said we'd be met with sweets and flowers. The United States has never recovered from not being prepared for the aftermath of the war and taking over in Iraq. And now the wages of that are haunting us still.

And June 30 is a -- is a mirage. It just -- I don't see how it can happen because the very people that the United States would be turning it over to are the very people who bamboozled us about what we'd find in Iraq, and that's the Ahmad Chalabi and the other exiles on the Iraqi governing council.

SHIELDS: Pete King, let me ask you this. The Marines are outside of Fallujah. There has to be a necessary military response, necessary military response will inevitably involve civilian casualties and Marine casualties. Does that -- doesn't that start again a cycle of violence, I mean, the portraits of this further inflaming anti-American feeling? I mean, there's a sense that you don't know how to get out or really what to do.

KING: Well, there's bound to be some anti-American feeling, but there's going to be more if we do nothing. The fact is, we have to make the tough decision. We do have to go into Fallujah. I think the Marines will do it. It'll probably be done within the next several days.

But I also have to disagree with Margaret and Al to this extent. First of all, we can go back and debate what happened after the war, but all of the things that people said were going to happen, as far as refugees, as far as utilities, as far as these mass uprising -- did not happen. It is confined to an area. I've been in Baghdad. I've been in Mosul. The fact is, there it is relatively under control. Fallujah has been a city which we stayed outside of, and this group made the mistake of going through the town. They were not supposed to. This was an unauthorized -- they were supposed to go around the city. They went through it. It's terrible what happened. But I think we make a mistake if we say this thing is, you know, just collapsing. It's not.

Also, John Kerry -- who is he saying we should bring in? I mean, the U.N. won't come in. The French won't come in. The Germans won't come it. So it's not like people are waiting to come in and we won't let them in. And as far as the June 30 turnover date, that was a date insisted upon by the Europeans. They said there won't be any hope of getting help unless we set a date.

Now, we're still going to have our troops there, but we are going to gradually be turning it over to a government. And you know, again, I don't know what the answer is, other than what we're doing now, which I think, in the context of history, will be looked upon as the right thing to have done.

SHIELDS: More of the same, Bob? Is that the answer?

NOVAK: Well, it's -- there's no -- there's no choice to it. You see, the problem is that we're -- we're seven months from a-- from an election. It seems like seven days from an election, not seven months. And-- and there is just a tendency that whatever happens, you-- the politicians are saying, Gee, how can I -- how can I protect myself or how can I bring this to my advantage, when I think ordinary Americans out there are just outraged by this -- by this -- by this barbaric treatment, and the last thing they want is some kind of a bug-out or turning it over to the French.

HUNT: Well, we certainly can't...


HUNT: Well, we certainly can't bug out, but we have the -- we have-- that what Brahimi is doing over there now, Bob. Bob has this wonderful formulation. He says, basically, anybody who didn't read history wouldn't understand what was going to happen. Terrible things have happened. Obviously, Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld didn't read the same history that Bob Novak did. The aforementioned General Zinni said it in February, not afterward, and this week said...

SHIELDS: He did.

HUNT: ...this week again said the fact that...

NOVAK: So what did...


HUNT: ...have a post-war plan is shocking. Bob, you have to stay. You can't cut and run.

NOVAK: All right.

HUNT: But what you want to do is basically say, Hey -- but there's no accountability. There ought to be accountability from...

CARLSON: And by the way...

HUNT: ...the people who made this mistake.


NOVAK: ...politics, Al! You know that!

HUNT: That's not politics. That's called accountability.


KING: First of all, the war was won. Secondly, the fact is, there was no mass migration of refugees out of the country. There was not mass rebellion throughout the country. The fact is, 75, 80 percent of the country wants us to stay. It's 8 to 1 that people say life will be better in Iraq next year than it is now. They're optimistic about the future.

Or is it just me?

Shields comes closest to getting a handle on what has always been the fundamental contradiction in Bush's grandiose "Initiative" to bring the blessings of democracy to the Middle East by means of a full-scale invasion and years-long occupation of a Saddam-less Iraq, but do any of these fine people sound as if for them the people of Iraq are anything but an abstraction?

Note that diversionary ploy employed by Rep. King; it continues to be trotted out so often it's achieved meme status, i.e., whatever unanticipated bad things are happening in Iraq, they're less bad than the most terrible of the pre-war predictions, none of which happened, so that pretty much absolves the Bush administration of responsibility for any of the predicted less bad possible negative results of invading Iraq that have happpened.

Aside from the fact that war-skpectics weren't the ones who made those predictions, which weren't really predictions so much as projections of potential humanitarian crises by the international organizations whose job it is to prepare for such crises before they happen, the predictions of the war-skeptics have proved entirely more prescient than those invocations of the liberation of Paris in 1945 offered up by that corporate tag-team, Rummy, Wolfie & Rice.

However, since we're dealing with matters of life and death, national security, and as the President would have it, the path to a more peaceful world, it would be rotten form for any of us to point out who was right and who was wrong. We might be accused of gloating, or worse, of being on the side of our enemies.

Eric Alterman doesn't care, bless his liberal bleeding heart.

What we said before the war, in no particular order

The invasion of Iraq will cause, not prevent, terrorism.

The Bush administration was not to be trusted when it warned of the WMD threat.

Going in without the U.N. is worse than not going in at all.

They were asleep at the switch pre-9/11 and have been trying to cover this up ever since.

And they manipulated 9/11 as a pretext for a long-planned invasion of Iraq.

Any occupation by a foreign power, particularly one as incompetently planned as this one, will likely create more enemies than friends and put the U.S. in a situation similar at times to Vietnam, and at other times, similar to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon; both were disasters.

An invasion of Iraq will draw resources and attention away from the genuine perpetrators of the attack on us, and allow them to regroup for further attacks.

Bonus: Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” will increase anti-Semitism worldwide.

You can find more of Eric telling them we told them so, with links to prove it, here

Here's an interesting prediction to look back at from November of last year. Anthony Cordesman of CSIS could hardly be considered either left-leaning or anti-war, except perhaps from the fun-house mirror perspective summed up by the words, but he has been skeptical of both the Bush doctrine and its application in Iraq. Months into the occupation, about the time that Bush went off to London with his six chiefs to sup with the Queen, CSIS released Cordesman's analytical critique of how the occupation was going, which is summarized nicely in this news analysis from The Independent, as posted to Free Republic here, which has the added advantage of including some freeper responses.

The all the more devastating because of the unusual level of access provided to its author, Dr Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on Iraq. He concludes that US soldiers are dying because of the ideological approach of the administration, and "two years into office, the Bush national security team is not a team".

Mr Cordesman accuses the administration of preparing the ground for "a defeat by underplaying the risks, issuing provocative and jingoistic speeches, and minimising real-world costs and risks." Senior US officials were also deeply scornful of claims by administration officials that Saddam and his former aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri are orchestrating guerrilla attacks.

The report, based on a visit to Iraq by Dr Cordesman earlier this month, entitled Iraq: Too Uncertain To Call, says the army is confident it can contain guerrilla attacks but says they are becoming more sophisticated and tactics are changing.

Dr Cordesman suggests the Coalition Provisional Authority should abandon its heavily fortified headquarters in Saddam's old Republican Palace in central Baghdad. He says: "The CPA's image is one of a foreign palace complex replacing Saddam's and far too many CPA Americans in Baghdad are talking to Americans who should be working with Iraqis." He says, after extensive talks with US officers in the main combat divisions, that the CPA is seen as an over-centralised bureaucracy, isolated from the military, relies too much on contractors "and is not realistically evaluating developments in the field."

Dr Cordesman points to an important flaw in US planning since mid-summer when the Interim Governing Council was established as the Iraqi face of the occupation. He says that it has delayed "nation-building" in Iraq because of divisions, personal ambitions and lack of local following. A critical question here, which may determine the success or failure of President Bush's plan to create a provisional Iraqi government with real legitimacy, is how far the failings of the council are carried over into a new body.

Iraqi politicians independent of the US-appointed governing council interviewed by The Independent all believe that the council wanted to delay elections because its members feared they would not be elected. "They just want time to loot the country and then get out," said one Iraqi leader bitterly.

There is little in the track record of the US administration to suggest that Dr Cordesman's recommendations will be carried out, particularly at a time when Washington wants to show results on the ground in Iraq in the months before the presidential election.


The report concludes that there is an overall problem with the US administration's advocacy of "democracy" in the Middle East. "It is largely advocating undefined slogans, not practical and balanced specifics.'' It was often seen as showing contempt for Arab societies, or as a prelude to new US efforts at regime change.

"Empty slogans" Like this, perhaps?

"When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace. Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat. "

That statement, the work of Bush speechwriters, is at least coherent and not content-free. But when those speechwriters have the President say, " And that is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into chaos," the rhetoric is emptied of meaning by the fact that Iraq had been in a state of perpetual chaos from the moment those GI's pulled down that statue of Saddam.

When Bush isn't reading a speech, when he's recalling talking points, the emptiness of the rhetoric is more obvious, but oddly, the President is the best spokesman for what his Iraqi policy is really about. Here he is yesterday, in Arkansas:

THE PRESIDENT: Bob was telling me Brian Mackham (phonetic) is here. Where's Brian? Somewhere. Brian, thanks. You just got back from Iraq?

MR. MACKHAM: My dad did.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, okay. Hi, Dad. Thank you. I appreciate your service. (Applause.) Mr. Mackham. Mr. Mackham. Colonel Mackham. What are you?

CORPORAL MACKHAM: -- Lance Corporal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel now as far as I'm concerned. (Laughter and applause). Thank you for your service. Thank you for helping make America more secure.

We've got tough work there because, you see, there are terrorists there who would rather kill innocent people than allow for the advance of freedom. That's what you're seeing going on. These people hate freedom. and we love freedom. And that's where the clash occurs. See, we don't think freedom is America's gift to the world. We know that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. That's what we know. (Applause.)

And Mackham will tell you there's a lot of brave people there that want to be free, but they've been tortured and terrorized and traumatized by a tyrant. And it's going to take a while for them to understand what freedom is all about. We will pass sovereignty on June 30th. We will stay the course in Iraq. We're not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins. We're not going to cut and run from the people who long from freedom. Because, you know what? We understand a free Iraq is an historic opportunity to help change the world to be more peaceful. That's what we understand in this country.

So, some Iraqi's are a little too damaged to really understand what freedom is all about. But in general, they long for freedom, too. Because God has given to all human beings a desire to be free. True enough, say I. But what do Iraqi's mean by "freedom." What does the President? Or, for that matter, God?

And here he is on Monday in North Carolina:

Saddam Hussein once again defied the demands of the world. And so I had a choice: Do I take the word of a madman, do I trust a person who had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, plus people in the neighborhood, or do I take the steps necessary to defend the country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.) Thank you.

We're still being challenged in Iraq, and the reason why is a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of terror. Terrorists can't stand freedom. They hate free societies. And yet, we know that free societies will be peaceful societies. We also believe that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every person in this world. It's one of the values that we hold dear. These killers don't have values. They want to shake our will. So we've got tough action in Iraq.

But we will stay the course. We will do what is right. We will make sure that a free Iraq emerges, not only for our own security, but for the sake of free peoples everywhere. A free Iraq will change the Middle East. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq will make America more secure. We will not be shaken by thugs and terrorists. (Applause.)

"Empty slogans."

Cordesman's prescience feels almost revelatory, doesn't it? Then again, you can't go wrong in assuming that this President will always eschew complexity, nuance, and reality in favor of the simple, the direct, the abstract, the comforting, however compelling and undeniable are the facts have to be ignored.

Here's an abstract of Cordesman's latest CSIS report (fair warning, it's a PDF file)on how we're doing on that nation-building mission in Iraq.

Republican operatives now running mercenaries and paramilitaries in Iraq and at home 

Let's put two and two together. First, this story from WaPo:

The role of Blackwater's commandos in Sunday's fighting in Najaf illuminates the gray zone between their formal role as bodyguards and the realities of operating in an active war zone. Thousands of armed private security contractors are operating in Iraq in a wide variety of missions and exchanging fire with Iraqis every day, according to informal after-action reports from several companies.

The Blackwater commandos, most of whom are former Special Forces troops, are on contract to provide security for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Najaf.

The Defense Department often does not have a clear handle on the daily actions of security contractors because the contractors work directly for the coalition authority, which coordinates and communicates on a limited basis through the normal military chain of command.

(via WaPo)

OK, then.

There's one chain of command for the military—hat would be the one that operates Constitutionally, is accountable to Congress, does press conferences, and has personnel who took an oath to serve their country.

Then there's a second chain of command for the CPA—that's the one that operates in a "gray area," is accountable to noone but the CPA, doesn't do press conferences, and has personnel who signed a contract to perform certain services.

So now we know the CPA is running the mercenaries. And what is the CPA? Why, a branch of the Republican National Commitee (the RNC), of course:

Republican figures also permeate the wider CPA staff, including top advisers to U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and the Iraqi ministries.

The U.S. team stands in deep contrast to the British team that works alongside it, almost all of whom are civil or foreign service employees, not political appointees. Many of the British in Iraq display regional knowledge or language skills that most of the Americans lack.
(via Detroit Free Press)

The CPA politicized? By the Bush administration? Why, you could have knocked me over with a feather! But then, of course, the only language these guys need to know is American English and whatever it is that Bush speaks, and the only regional knowledge they need to have is of voting patterns in the swing states.

Anyhow, the UK has noticed this and they're not pleased:

British officials say that ... the Coalition Provisional Authority under Mr. Bremer has become too "politicized," meaning that events are orchestrated and information controlled with the American political agenda uppermost in mind.
(via The Times)

OK, so we've now got Republican operatives, accountable to no one, running a private army in Iraq, and "orchestrating events." Hmm.... Like Fallujah?

Can it get worse?

Of course. This is the Bush administration, remember? No matter how bad it is, it can always get worse. The RNC is also running paramilitaries domestically (back here). All part of privatization ("A Republic of Mercenaries," back) don't you know.

This is a thousand times worse than Iran-Contra. Ollie North wanted off-the-shelf capabilities for covert action outside Constitutional restraints. Here we have a off-the-shelf overt private armies, again outside Constitutional restraints, and the SCLM doesn't even cover it as a story.

Iraq insurgency: A good roundup from The Agonist 

Texas Republicans: Being a drag queen is OK, it's just being gay that's evil 

Readers, I am not making this up!

Photographs of a male Republican candidate for the Texas House in women's clothing surfaced last week, and party leaders urged the candidate, Sam Walls, to withdraw. Mr. Walls, 64, rejected the calls on Monday, saying he would not give in to "blackmail" from opponents trying to use "very old, personal information" to force him out of the race. "Now my opponent is using the private information in an attempt to intimate that I am a homosexual, which I am not," Mr. Walls said in a statement.
(via The Times)

And the beauty part is a Republican whining about the use of "private information." Say, does being a drag queen rise to the level of an impeachable offense?

Can it be true that Bush is on vacation right now? 

Even I can't believe this. Readers?

Iraq insurgency: More doubleplusungood news 

Nice one, hitting a mosque. I'm sure that will cool the situation down. Heck, they weren't Christians anyhow.

U.S. forces battling Sunni insurgents in this violent city apparently hit a mosque filled with people Wednesday, and witnesses said as many as 40 people were killed.

It was unclear what hit the mosque. Until that incident, reports showed at least 30 Americans and more than 150 Iraqis were dead in the fighting for the city.

Anti-American violence intensified and spread to cities in northern Iraq on Wednesday as a U.S. helicopter went down and a Marine commander confirmed 12 of his men had been killed in fighting west of Baghdad.
(via AP in the Boston Glob)

I guess I can't use the word "clusterfuck" any more, though it's totally appropriate for what Bush is doing. It's not respectful enough of the dead, though.


Bush keeps saying "I didn't have the information"—but why didn't he? 

Presidents are supposed to know this kind of stuff. Condi keeps saying the same thing, and she had more reason to know.

So the real question is, Why didn't Bush have the information?

To which the answer is that he, his Russian specialist enabler Condi, and the neo-con cabal were all focused on threats from states, instead of threads from non-state organizations like AQ. That's why the focus on missile defense, for example.

So Bush didn't have information on AQ because he didn't go looking for it, and he didn't go looking for it because he and his advisors didn't think it was important.

As things turned out, Clarke could have told them the information was important, but it took him eight months to get a meeting.

Then comes 9/11. And they keep the same mindset, refused to let the facts confuse them, and go to war with a state: Iraq.

And here we are!



"Yesterday, Vice President Cheney threw out the first pitch at the Cincinnati Reds opening game. President Bush, he threw out the first pitch at the Cardinals game. It's nice to see they've got time for that kind of stuff now that everything in Iraq is under control."
(via Reuters)

Bush really should hire himself a professional comic... Instead of Dennis Miller....

Bush holds back public speech Condi-lie-zza was going to give from 9/11 commission 

Condi was going to give a speech, in public, and the 9/11 Commission can't get a copy of it? Is that ridiculous, or what?

he White House has refused to provide the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks with a speech national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was to deliver on that day touting missile defense as a priority rather than al Qaeda, sources said on Tuesday.

With Rice slated to testify publicly before the commission on Thursday, the commission submitted a last-minute request for access to Rice's aborted Sept. 11, 2001 address, sources close to the panel said.

But the White House has so far refused on the grounds that draft documents are confidential, the sources said.
(via Reuters)

Then again, maybe Bush will cave.
The White House could still back down and provide the full speech to the panel. Bush has backed down in the past.


Condi's never-given speech, of course, focussed on Republican boondoggle missile defense, and not on terrorism or AQ, showing the Bush administration was focussed on states, instead of entities like AQ, so it's entirely natural that Bush would hold it back.

Stupid, but natural.

Your Gratuitous Morning Weirdness 

Todays idiocy: Little Green Booger Flickers

The excitable magnificos from the ranks of the LGBF, here, are having a Blanche Du Bois moment. Listen:

4/6/2004: Hosting Matters Does Right

I’d like to thank Hosting Matters for being a really stand-up company, and not bowing to pressure from people with a transparently vindictive agenda: Hosting Matters Support Forum - What’s up with the racists?

The LGF haters, probably inspired by Markos Zuniga and his sycophants, are trying every avenue to hurt us today, including this one. They have also written hateful notes to our advertisers, of course.

Bold emphasis above is mine. Evidence for this vindictive "probably" conspiracy event, all apparently orchestrated by none other than Markos Zuninga and his legions of sneaky leftist tools, apparently revolves around the dramatic allegations contained within this startling seditious communique: HERE.

Awful isn't it? The horror, the horror! Why it's grounds for a duel, or something theatric like that. Anyway. The busybody web-fauna of the LGBF have wasted no time when it comes to backfilling their own comments section with so much appalled consternation, quivering indignation, and other such histrionics. Whatever.

In any case, none of this really has anything to do with anything and it's actually just a chance for me to introduce my new nationally syndicated cartoon series called Little Green Booger Flickers. (See illustration above)

If the vibrating tuning forks of LGF are as much fun as I think they may be I expect to enjoy a long and rewarding working relationship mining their comment threads. I also expect that the silly bastards will do most of the work for me. Which is the way it should be, right?

I sit back on the front porch with a cool glass of traditional family value home squeezed lemonade like some big daddio master overseerer while talkative right wing ditto birds do all the chirping and I laugh and profit from their noisy recorded labor. Hehehe... it's the 'Merican way. Hain't it? Sure it is. I can't wait for the Little Green Booger Flicker Christmas card royalty checks to start rolling in!

Praise Jeebus and Joseph and Jack Daniels and all the Little Green Booger Flickers of the latter days!


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Bush Iraq Clusterfuck: Was the plan for dealing with Sadr a case of "wag the dog"? 

Here's what the plan wasn't:

A secret plan to have American forces snatch Mr. Sadr was scrapped last fall only days before it was to have been carried out, senior Bush administration and military officials said, confirming a report in The Wall Street Journal.

They said the decision to scrap the action had been made by senior American officials on the advice of other Shiite clerics in Iraq, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who described Mr. Sadr as inconsequential and warned that his stature would only be enhanced if he was arrested, the American officers said.
(via NY Times)

And here's the plan now:

While combating attacks by Mr. Sadr's militia on Tuesday, American officials are seeking for now to enlist other Shiite clerics in a plan to marginalize Mr. Sadr...

And there has also a continuing plan to arrest Sadr:

[A] secret warrant for [Sadr's] arrest was issued months ago by Iraqi authorities in connection with the killing of Ayatollah Khoei last April, shortly after he was returned to Iraq by American military forces.

In describing the warrant, American officials indicated that a decision had been made to seize Mr. Sadr soon, with a spokesman, Dan Senor, saying there would be "no advance warning".

But the American officials in Baghdad declined to say when they would execute the warrant.

But there's not a word in the article that would explain how shutting down Sadr's newspaper—the spark that ignited this uprising—fits into any of these plans. It sure didn't marginalize Sadr, and it sure didn't help get him arrested.

In addition, there are these curious facts about dates:

A senior Defense Department official who outlined the likelihood of a slower approach said American concerns had been complicated by two dates now approaching — an anniversary and a holiday.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of the killing of Mr. Sadr's father, a leading cleric, and his two elder brothers, deaths that occurred under the rule of Saddam Hussein. And Friday is the first day of the Shiite religious festival of Arbayeen, which will bring hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims to the Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.

So, again, why on earth shut Sadr's paper down now???

Recall the British concerns "events are orchestrated .... with the American political agenda uppermost in mind" (back here). And recall also that the CPA is dominated by Republican operatives.

Could it be that there are other dates Bush has in mind? That is, the date Condi is going to testify, and the date Bush and Cheney are going to visit? Let's get that commission stuff off the front pages and off the air...

Bush Iraq Clusterfuck: Sunnis and Sadr Shi'ites join against US 

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

But even as the Coalition Provisional Authority declared Sadr -- son of Mohammed Sadr, a renowned Shiite religious figure killed by Saddam Hussein's regime in 1999 -- an outlaw, much of Iraq vented its frustration with the yearlong U.S. occupation by openly supporting his efforts.

But Tuesday afternoon, one of the worst possible scenarios the CPA could imagine came true in a public way when the Sunni-led resistance forces publicly declared their support for Sadr.

This development would have been unthinkable a week ago as the previous resistance organizations have been led by religious Sunni -- who consider the Shiite heretics in Islam -- and former Baath members whose secular regime brutally oppressed the Shiites for decades.

But even as U.S. tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles surrounded Sadr's headquarters in a vast Shiite neighborhood named for his father, emissaries arrived from the tribal leaders of Sunni regions and from the largest resistance movement in Iraq to offer their services to Sadr in his fight against the Americans.

Inside the Sadr office building, which was defended by about 100 armed and 400 unarmed men and boys, was cordoned off by the U.S. military, three obviously Sunni clerics arrived with a letter for the leaders of the Mehdi Army.

"We have come to see how our friends are doing," Sheikh Hudor al-Abari told United Press International.

(via UPI)

Granted, it's UPI...

Bush Iraq Clusterfuck: Remember the Agonist? 

Now that major combat operations have broken out again, it's time to check out the Agonist again. He's not back to the old intensity, but it looks like he's gearing up....

Bush, feeling tense, snaps towel at everyone in sight 

And no wonder, since he's a "hypertense, death-dealing fiasco" (back here)

Anyhow, he's on a campaign trip to Arkanas. First, Bush insults a guest:

"You and my mother go to the same hair-dye person," Bush said to Briery, whose blondish bob bore little resemblance to Barbara Bush's shock of white hair.

The audience in the gymnasium laughed, and Briery smiled, but replied firmly: "President Bush, I'm a natural blonde."

"Oh, yes," Bush agreed.

"I'm just a natural blonde," she repeated.

"I couldn't help myself, sorry," Bush shrugged.

Uh uh. When you snap the towel twice, it's on purpose.

Then, Bush insults his host!

He turned to Bob Watson, superintendent of the El Dorado Public Schools - who had opened the meeting by inadvertently insulting Bush.

"Governor - excuse me, President," Watson said.

Bush muttered, "How quickly they forget."

When Watson offered to shake Bush's hand, the president shot back: "Just don't hug me."
(via AP)

What a... likeable guy. Bush seems nice until things don't go his way. No wonder his handlers won't let him in front of the 9/11 commission alone.

Also, there's no byline on the AP story. Wonder if AP is shielding their reporter from retaliation by The Goon Squad?

National DNA registry, anyone? 

No. They would never do that!

Read this disgusting proposal. Aside from the truly disgusting civil liberties implications, will the results be kept private? I doubt it.

The hair, saliva and sweat of federal workers could be tested for drug use under a government policy proposed Tuesday that could set screening standards for millions of private employers.

The proposal will expand the methods to detect drug use among 1.6 million federal workers beyond urine samples. It is being implemented with an eye toward the private sector, however, because it would signal the government's approval for such testing, which many companies are awaiting before adopting their own screening programs.

The rule is subject to a 90-day public comment period. A final plan could be issued by year's end.
(via AP)

Notice this is all done by Bush fiat. No discussion, no law, no public debate.

And hey! When the Bush twins take the test, I'll take the test!

Last of illegal arrests at RNC 2000 in Philly thrown out—just in time for RNC 2004 in Manhattan 

Given that for the Republicans, homeland security and electing Bush are one and the same, I always assumed that Tom Ridge was appointed DHS head because of the fine job he did throwing activists in the slammer illegally during the RNC 2000 convention in Philly.

And presumably, he's setting up to do the same thing this September.

A judge cleared three activists Tuesday of charges they brawled with police during street demonstrations outside the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Judge William J. Mazzola acquitted the trio of riot and assault charges after reviewing a videotape of the fracas shot by another protester.

About 400 people were arrested during the protests, most of which occurred several miles from the arena in which Republicans met to nominate George W. Bush. Only a few people were convicted.

(via AP)

Tactically, this means that RNC activists should video everything. And bring lots of cell phones that take pictures, beam them to blogs, and we'll RSS them live...

I also wonder if the NYPD has any great reason to love Bush, given how he's stiffed the first responders. Wonder if they would stand aside... Readers?

Bite the Big Apple, George....

Kerry hits back on "flipflops" 

Some young Republicans have no manners?! Film at 11! They could start to improve by not calling people who disagree with them traitors. Then they could disassociate themselves from the LGFers....

Greeted by a small group of protesters shouting and clapping together rubber beach sandals called flip-flops, the Massachusetts senator rebuked them, saying, "Obviously some young Republicans are proving that they're very rude and they have no manners. They don't want to hear the truth."

"You want to talk about flips and flops?" he asked hundreds of supporters at a rally in Cincinnati. "This president said one day Condoleezza Rice is not going to testify and the next day she is going to testify." Kerry also said Bush had flip-flopped on taxes and education, as well as his 2000 election promise to maintain fiscal discipline in Washington. The U.S. budget deficit has now reached a record $500 billion.
(via Reuters)

Good to see, but Kerry needs to read the blogosphere. We have a much better list for him here.

UPDATE Here's a good Bush flip-flop site. 96, count 'em, 96. Those young Republican's aren't just impolite: they're entirely delusional.

I guess the Lexicon of Liberal Invective is working. Kinda. 

"SCLM" comes up #3 on Google.

Not "aWol," alas, though this is interesting. Nor "YABL."


Readers, any ideas on how to propagate these memes more effectively?

Republican coup 2004: Jebbie's electronic voting machines a disaster 

Think it can't get any worse?

The new touch-screen voting machines that we're using in South Florida are seriously flawed. Yet again, Florida has the potential for another Election Day debacle. However, that's not the bad news. The bad news is that our leaders are in a state of denial about the problem.

While computerized voting is here to stay and conceptually superior to anything else, that's not the issue. The issue is that the current systems are flawed. Until we fix these problems, we'll just have to bear the cost of creating a voter-verified paper trail. That's the backup, and while expensive, it pales in comparison to the costs of the presidential election fiasco of 2000.

In a paper published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Symposium on Security and Privacy, the authors said the following regarding one particular commonly used electronic voting system: ``We identify several problems, including unauthorized privilege escalation, incorrect use of cryptography, vulnerabilities to network threats and poor software development processes.''

In case you're not a techie, this loosely translates into, ``The system is a disaster.''
(from The Miami Herald via AJP)

And all those Democrats that were illegally removed from the rolls in 2000? That's all been fixed, right? Oh, wait....

More fun with operation names 

Here's the original post on noxious, testesterone-fuelled, Orwellian operation names, and here are some suggestions from alert readers:

Operation Bubble Gonads—for just about anything Bush does

Operation Talking Wood—the joint appearance of Bush & Dick before the 911 Commission (d. wineman)

Operation Steaming Load—Iraq qWagmire (d. wineman)

Operation Snapping Towel—When Bush visits with Waura, Condi, KaWen,and Mary Matalin (emal)

Operation Bohica Summer—from my GW1 vet e-pal: Bend Over, Here It Comes Again (pansypoo)

Thanks, alert readers! There's a lot of great stuff here, and maybe some of these will start showing up in future headlines....

And Operation Bohica Summer is especially appropriate for those cancelled troop rotations, isn't it?

Bush Iraq clusterfuck: US forces spread too thin? 

Looks like Shinseki was right on the force levels we'd need in Iraq. For which the Piranha Brothers in the WhiteWash House (back here) promptly nailed his head to the floor. Anyhow:

British experience in Northern Ireland showed that 20 troops per thousand of population -- the equivalent of 500,000 in Iraq -- was the strength best suited to maintaining order in a restive community, Clarke said.

But a sudden call for reinforcement could also fan the flames, [Michael Clarke, director of the International Policy Institute at King's College London, ] added: "That in itself is a big step toward a manifest crisis -- being seen to have to reinforce."

The prospect of simultaneous Sunni and Shi'ite uprisings -- the nightmare scenario for any force in Iraq -- has been faced before, when a Western army tried to pacify Iraq eight decades ago.

"The British took three years to turn both the Sunnis and the Shias into their enemies in 1920," journalist Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent newspaper. "The Americans are achieving this in just under a year."

Britain crushed that revolt with massive air strikes that killed thousands of Iraqi civilians.
(via Reuters)

Pessimistic? Or realistic?

Bush Iraq clusterfuck: The rule of law 

I love this quote from Bremer:

"We will suppress these minor-sized militia, which are illegal."
(via The Times)

So, now these clowns want the rule of law. The only problem is that we need to use our army to get the job done. If these clowns really wanted the rule of law in Iraq, they would have arranged for the effort to be truly international (i.e., not the Coalition of the Billing), wouldn't have allowed Iraq to degenerate into chaos after the invasion (Bush thought it would be a "cakewalk," remember?), and would have visibly and powerfully upheld the rule of law from the beginning.

One really obvious way to uphold the rule of law would have been to try Saddam's sons, instead of killing them. Since we are now trying Saddam, apparently we learned from that mistake—but these guys, given the situation they've gotten us all into, shouldn't make the same mistake once.

Oh, and I like "minor militias," too. Minor enough to cancel the troop rotations, apparently.

Bush Iraq clusterfuck: Bush cares about one thing and one thing only: getting elected 

Surprise! Of course, we already know that the "Republican Palace" (!) is a nest of Republican operatives. But it seems that the Brits know too, and they're not pleased.

British officials say that while they are sympathetic with the daunting management task that Americans have undertaken, they also believe that the Coalition Provisional Authority under Mr. Bremer has become too "politicized," meaning that events are orchestrated and information controlled with the American political agenda uppermost in mind.
(via The Times)

On the latest escalation, Bush must have figured "better now than later."

But the Brits don't want their troops dying so that Bush can get elected.

Say, doesn't that apply to our troops too?

And from the Pulitzer-heavy LA Times.... 

Pessimistic or realistic?

Now that thousands of rioting Shiites have been added to the persistent Sunni insurrection targeting the U.S.-led occupation, it is absurd to define the enemy as only foreigners or agents of the captured tyrant Saddam Hussein. The "coalition" forces are the foreigners, in fact, and the U.S.-financed quisling local government fools no one, regardless of the planned "handover" of power.

Under the false conceit that the adventure made sense as part of the fight against terror, the U.S. seized a country containing a major portion of the world's most valued and scarce resource. Yet our leaders expect the natives to believe that the corporate camp followers of the U.S. military are only swarming over their country for the purpose of humanitarian reconstruction.

Just how dumb do we think they are?

while it would be great if that country were to end up in the column of democratic societies, the tragic events of recent days once again remind us that it is an outcome made less likely by each additional day we presume to know what is best for the rest of the world — and we impose those views with our awesome military power.
(Robert Scheer in LA Times)

"Just how dumb do we think they are?" Good question....

Poor old Times sinks further into mediocrity 

One solitary Pulitzer....

UPDATE Thanks to alert reader upyernoze for the correction; hands typing faster than brain.

Isn't information on 9/11 exactly the kind of information a President should have? 

So why does Bush think saying "Had we known" is going to help him?

Especially when it took Clarke eight (8) months to get a meeting with him?

And Condi had numerous examples of terrorists using airplanes as missiles (kamikazis, anyone)?

And we know from whistleblower Sibel Edmonds (back here) that there are plenty of documents showing AQ plans for attack on US soil?

Waiting for Thursday, Condi-lie-zza....

And for whenever our sock President and his puppet master deign to appear....

UPDATE Gary Hart rips Bush a new one in Salon here, thanks to alert reader Budman:

Suppose that in March or April, 1941, 14 Americans with lengthy backgrounds in national security affairs had reported to President Franklin Roosevelt that the United States was going to be attacked somewhere, sometime, somehow by the Japanese, that this attack would result in large numbers of American casualties, and these officially-appointed Americans had strongly recommended to the Roosevelt administration that it take urgent steps to help prevent such an attack. Further suppose that Roosevelt had done little if anything in response to this warning, and that almost eight months later, as it happened, the Japanese attacked American facilities at Pearl Harbor, and almost two thousand Americans died. Suppose after this attack official inquiries were launched, as it also happened, as to why there was a failure of intelligence, what actions were or were not taken based on what intelligence there was, and what could be done to prevent such catastrophic surprises in the future. And finally suppose that the official commission created to investigate the tragedy of Pearl Harbor failed to call upon the original 14 Americans who forecast the attack and forewarned against it.
Now move this supposed scenario forward to 2004 and you have virtually a perfect fit and an actual set of circumstances.

FDR. Now there was a war President. Even if, wheelchair-bound, he couldn't prance on a flight deck.

Your Bill Bennett ~ Traditional Marriage Moment... 

For no particular reason.

Here comes the hunka-hunka burnin' love bride:

The bride is a woman of wonderous fascination and a remarkable attractiveness, for with manner as enchanting as the wand of a siren and a disposition as sweet as the odor of flowers, and spirit as joyous as the caroling of birds and mind as brilliant as those glittering tresses that adorn the brow of Winter and with heart as pure as dewdrops trembling in a coronet of violets, she will make the home of her husband a paradise of enchantment like the lovely home of her girlhood where the heaven-toned harp of marriage, with its chords of love and devotion and fond endearments sent forth the sweetest strains of felicity that ever thrilled the senses with the rhythmic pulsing of ecstatic rapture." ~ The Charlotteville Chronicle social/society page. 1926

Sweet screechin' mother of creeping baby Jesus!
Where do you go from there? I hope she comes with extra batteries and a good pea soup recipe.


George Bush's Zippo War 

"President Bush is not fazed by other candidates' war records. He said, 'I may have not fought in Vietnam, but I created one." - Craig Kilborn

Catalexis on blogging, the right wing windmill, framing the debate, and the media's fun house of mirrors. Read: George Bush's Viet Nam

And thanks pansypoo...
Friday, April 02, 2004
a little news item in today's paper just struck me. In Irving, TEXAS, a gate at a sewage plant forced 70 millions of raw sewage into a river. the shit flow sent at least 8 manhole covers skyward and shit geysers at least 4 feet and closed part of a golfcourse and park.

so that's where all of george's shit has been hiding.

...for the Kilborn line. :-) (Which predates Ted Kennedy's recent remarks)


Iraq clusterfuclk: "End of major combat operations," eh? 

Fallujah beseiged, 4 Marines dead.

U.S. troops battled Iraqi guerrillas Tuesday on the edges of Fallujah, which hundreds of Marines and Iraqi troops have surrounded in a major operation to pacify one of Iraq's most violent cities. The military reported four Marines killed in the area.

The Americans were killed by hostile fire Monday, bringing to five the number of Marines killed that day.

The military did not give details on the deaths, saying only that they took place in Anbar province, where Fallujah is located.

U.S. and Iraqi troops have sealed off the city for more than 24 hours, blocking roads and digging trenches in preparation to move in to root out insurgents after the slaying and brutal mutilation last week of four American civilians.
(via AP)

UPDATE More from a WaPo embedded reporter:

EMBEDDED WITH THE MARINES IN FALLUJAH, April 6--U.S. Marines are inside the flashpoint city of Fallujah in force. They have met significant pockets of resistance but have overpowered it, killing an undetermined number of enemy fighters and taking some prisoners.
(via WaPo)

Monday, April 05, 2004

Iraq clusterfuck: Sadr, Sistani, Chalabi all playing both ends against the middle 

While our troops get shot. (Hey George! What's the latest on that body armor?)

[W]hat is now transpiring is also a battle for control of the Shiite street to see who will eventually lead Iraq's largest ethno-religious group.

These latest events are also a clash of leadership between Sadr, who demands an immediate withdrawal of U.S. and other coalition troops from Iraq and the milder, more-moderate stance adopted by the older Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who favors a quieter transition and advocates a more cautionary approach.

Sadr, on the other hand, is opposed to waiting for the June 30 hand-over date, demanding the U.S.-led coalition leave immediately. With Shiites forming about 60 percent of Iraq's population, Sadr believes his coreligionist should assume immediate control of their destiny.

Sadr is relatively young and inexperienced but commands, nevertheless, a following strong enough to stir trouble, as became evident this past weekend. He rules over much of the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City, named after his father who was killed by Saddam, and is believed to have about 5,000 armed followers.

The development to watch for now is to see if the mainstream Shiite movement falls in behind Sadr, and joins the anti-U.S. movement, or instead, if they opt to wait on the sidelines for the United States to remove Sadr from the political scene.

Politically for Sistani, allowing the Americans take out Sadr would be the most advantageous move. The removal would leave the political playing field clear for Sistani, who would then be the only Shiite leader left standing. Since Saddam's downfall last spring, a number of prominent Shiite leaders have been killed.

However, if Sistani, or the Iranian-backed al-Badr Brigade, with more than 10,000 armed supporters jump into the fray, it could spell real trouble for the United States. Iran, one must also suspect, is not without interest in the outcome of events in neighboring Iraq. Tehran's ayatollahs would undoubtedly revel in Washington becoming ingrained in an urban war in the slums of Baghdad.

Already, Monday there was talk of sending more troops to Iraq to help quell the troubles. In its last rotation, the United States has downsized the number of American troops in the country from 130,000 to about 100,000. But if the violence continues, additional forces would certainly be needed.

Another danger, of course, is that Sadr would attempt a "hostile take-over" of the Shiite leadership by trying to physically eliminate Sistani, a possibility that should not be discounted. Should Sadr prove to be successful, it could place the militant ayatollah in an unprecedented position of power and give the U.S.-led coalition a genuine cause for concern. On the other hand, an attempt on Sistani could also pitch Shiite against Shiite, making the June 30 deadline for handing the country over to Iraqis highly questionable, and that despite the fact President George W. Bush reaffirmed Monday the date was not subject to revision.

Regardless of the outcome, there is one Shiite who stands to gain by the removal of either ayatollah -- Ahmad Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress -- and the man on the fast track to become the next nexus of power in Iraq.

Second, what is unsettling about this turn of events is until now at least, most of the violence emanated from the Sunni population and was mostly limited to the area referred to as the Sunni Triangle. The horrendous killing and mutilation of four civilian contractors last week, for example, took place in Fallujah, in the heart of Sunni-populated territory.

But this recent outbreak involving the Shiite community sets a dangerous precedent and has moved the conflict to previously quieter areas of the country. If not intelligently addressed, it could rapidly broaden into a quagmire and draw the United States into a vicious version of an Iraqi intifada, and a conflict without a foreseeable end.
(via UPI)

Eesh. Thank God Bush has a plan. Uh, what's the plan?

NOTE to Kerry: Your message on this, whatever it is, is coming through as "more diplomacy." That's not going to cut it, analytically correct though it may be.

Run Away O'Reilly 

Bill O'Reilly - go screw yourself.

WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- Last week, radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson of CNN's Crossfire that he would like "a shot at Bill O'Reilly," after he was asked what conservative would he most like to take on during the 'rapid fire' segment of the show.

G Gordon Liddy: "O'Reilly is an embarrassment to our side," - "O'Reilly is no good at radio and part of that reason is because his most nuanced response to a complex question is "SHUT UP."

O'Reilly's producer (FoxTV) invites Liddy to appear on O'Reilly Factor if he apologizes for statements. Liddy responds: "Tell Bill to pound sand, I'm not apologizing for anything." - Offer to appear withdrawn.

Liddy: "Bill did what all bullies do, he ran when someone stood up to him. I found this to be true of bullies as a child and I found it to be true in prison."

Heh. Liddy Takes Aim at O'Reilly

Atrios has more O'Reilly capers here: O'Lielly (as if you didn't know that already)

"Crooks": More successes for school vouchers! 


One school that received millions of dollars through the nation's oldest and largest voucher program was founded by a convicted rapist. Another school reportedly entertained kids with Monopoly while cashing $330,000 in tuition checks for hundreds of no-show students.

But so far, efforts to impose more rigorous academic standards on voucher schools have failed.

Milwaukee's 14-year-old voucher program has served as a model for others around the country. It doles out state money to allow poor parents to send their children to private schools. Wisconsin will spend $75 million this year on vouchers for more than 13,000 students.

The schools are required to report virtually nothing about their methods to the state, or to track their students' performance. Proponents say that frees the schools from onerous bureaucracy. But some say the lack of oversight makes them a prime target for abuse.
(via AP)

Stealing an education from children... Pretty low. But what we've come to expect from Republicans.

Iraq clusterfuck escalating 

Not good....

Meanwhile, US Apache helicopters sprayed fire on the private army of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr during fierce battles on the western Baghdad district of Al-Showla, witnesses and an AFP correspondent said.

"Two Apaches opened fire on armed members of the Mehdi Army," said Showla resident Abbas Amid.

The fighting erupted when five trucks of US soldiers and the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps (ICDC) tried to enter the district and were attacked by Sadr supporters, Amid said.

Coming under fire, the ICDC, a paramilitary force trained by the Americans, turned on the US soldiers and started to shoot at them, according to Amid.
(via from Atrios)

Eesh. I wonder what the plan is, here? (And, at this point, I'd really like to hear what Kerry has to say.)

Bush mini press conference: YABL, YABL, YABL 

From Dear Misleader:

"What is important for them to hear is not only that, but that when I realized that the stakes had changed, this country immediately went on war footing and we went to war against al-Qaida," the president said.

"It took me very little time to make up my mind, once I determined al-Qaida did do it, to say, 'We're going to go get them,' and we have," Bush said.
(via AP)

Well, the only problem with Bush's statement is that only nine days after 9/11, Bush had already decided to sidetrack our entire military into Iraq, which had nothing to do with AQ or 9/11 at all. See here:

President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.

I just wish they'd stop lying. We all know they had the agenda to remove Saddam from Day One and 9/11 supplied a good excuse for it. Why not just 'fess up?

Bush wants you to shop—just not to comparison shop 

Bush uses the same style of argument for Iraq and for his tax policies.

With Iraq, the question is not: (1) Was it good to overthrow Saddam? The question is: (2) Was war in Iraq the best use of our military, given AQ?

To make the best use of your resources, you have to "comparison shop" between a lot of good things, and the very few best things—and that's what Bush doesn't want you to do. (Since if you answer "yes" to (1), you might well vote for him, but if you even think of asking (2), you probably won't.)

The economist's term for "comparison shopping" is "opportunity cost" (back here) , and that's what a successful CEO takes into account when deciding where to invest.

So with tax cuts, the question is not: (1) Will tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy? The question is: (2) Are tax cuts for the rich the best way to stimulate the economy?

And again, to make the best choice, you have to comparison shop. Most professional economists will answer "Yes" to question (1), the question Bush wants you to ask, but answer (2), the question Bush doesn't want you to ask, with a resounding "No!"

"Almost any tax cut or spending increase would succeed in boosting a sluggish economy," said William G. Gale, an economist at the Brookings Institution. "The key question is, therefore, not whether the proposals provide any short term stimulus but whether they are the most effective way to provide stimulus."

Gale and others argue that a more effective economic stimulus would be tax cuts more narrowly targeted to lower-income people, who would tend to spend a larger portion of their tax cut than would wealthier people. According to an analysis of Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts by the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, more than half the tax relief this year went to taxpayers earning more than $100,000 a year.
(via LA Times)

Bush is like an 18th century doctor who, because his remedies of bleeding and purging didn't actually kill the patient, claims credit for the cure.

And the economy is rebounding in spite of Bush's medicine, not because of it. Not that you or I see any benefit from the rebound, of course (back) but that is a separate issue.

NOTE Of course, the RNC attack machine has started AstroTurfing on Bush's Orwellian "tax relief" (see American Journal of Politics). The bogus letter begins: "President Bush’s economic policies are right for America and home state>.." and AJP notes the usual lies in it.

And speaking of thumbsuckers, how about this inane lead from "C"BN? 

That would be the SIC stronghold "Christian" Broadcasting Network.

The American military is preparing to take serious action in Fallujah after last week's atrocities against Americans there. The military is promising a massive response that will be targeted at finding "the bad guys in town."
(via "C"BN)

"The bad guys"? Who do they think they're writing four? Six-year-olds playing cowboys and Indians?

Talk about infantilizing the audience! And remember—this is Bush's base!

Fun with operation names 

"The operation, code-named 'Vigilant Resolve'"....

Man, these overcompensatingly macho, testesterone-fuelled, and totally Orwellian "operation" names are getting to be too much. Back in the day, these names were just random words, put together for security purposes. I wish we could return to that practice, to make the news just a little less noxious, and to stop the news anchors from having to say them with a straight face. Except for FUX, of course. They can say anything with a straight face.

Maybe we could start inventing some "Operation" names for ourselves. I'll start:

Operation Fragrant Weasel—for the dirty tricks program The Goon Squad at the RNC is running (Arizona; Kerry's FBI files.

Operation Mellifluous Footwear—for Bush's Olympic-event-grade "flipflops" (back) on the 9/11 commission, and elsewhere.

Operation Xanax Cowboy... 'Nuff said.


NOTE From a suggestion by alert reader ... Mellifluous.

UPDATE More up here.

Another thumbsucker from Elizabeth Bumiller 

Hey, a little fluffing is part of the job, but this is ridiculous. KaWen and Condi—Bush's valkyries. Along with Waura and Babs.

Enablers is more like it. And three "towel-snapping" references! Isn't that fabulous?

NOTE Thanks to alert reader Melanie.

Nailing Condi-lie-zza: The testimony of Sibel Edmonds 

From the Toronto Star (since naturally the SCLM isn't covering this:

When Condoleezza Rice takes her seat before the independent 9/11 commission here Thursday her assignment will be nothing short of halting the most serious assault yet on the credibility of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Sitting in the hearing room as Rice testifies will be a 33-year-old former FBI translator who may yet hold the key to the question now engulfing this nation — did an indifferent Bush administration ignore specific warnings that Al Qaeda was about to launch horrific attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001?

While allegations brought by former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke have swung the tide against the Bush White House in recent weeks, Sibel Edmonds delivered her own broadside against her government in private, during more than three hours of testimony to investigators for the 9/11 panel on Feb. 11.

Edmonds, who was hired as a translator by the FBI nine days after the attacks, told the investigative panel she has seen and handled intelligence documents and cables that show Rice, the national security adviser, is wrong when she says there was no advance warning of air attacks on U.S. soil.

She saw intelligence documents that pointed to the use of aircraft against skyscrapers in major U.S. cities.

"We had various information from various sources and investigations," she said in an interview yesterday.

"In terms of specific cities? Yes. It was not only New York and Washington, D.C. There were four or five cities specifically named.

"There were specific activities known. Domestic institutions were being targeted and airplanes were going to be used. That was known. Now, did it say Sept. 11, 8:30 in the morning? I am not aware of such information. Did it say it was going to crash the planes in the building? I am not privy to that information.

"But there was specific information on the use of airplanes. There were people issuing orders and information on people already in place in this country months before Sept. 11."

She said she is not passing on hearsay, but information on specific documents, the names of witnesses, the names of FBI agents and other information so investigators can rely "not on my word," but on the documents themselves. Most of them were dated April and May, 2001, she said. She has previously provided such information to congressional investigators.

Edmonds, a Turkish-born U.S. citizen, said she was "appalled" by Rice's public statements, delivered in a number of television interviews, that there was no information indicating planes would be used on domestic targets.

Had Rice indicated that she did not know, Edmonds may have given her the benefit of the doubt.

"Then I would say maybe the FBI did not take the information to her, maybe she didn't know," Edmonds said.

"But she's is saying `we' did not know, including herself, her advisers and the FBI. That statement is not accurate. I've never really been diplomatic in life. It's a lie and a lie is a lie."
(via Toronto Star)

And given that Bush tries to destroy the career of anyone who crosses him, Sibel Edmonds has shown great courage by coming forward. Good for her!

Musical Interlude: Fun with "Drunken Sailor" 

The lyrics are here. They're kind of fun, and the whole family can sing along:

What do you do with a drunken sailor,
What do you do with a drunken sailor early in the mornin'?

[CHORUS]: Way-hey, and up she rises,
Way-hey, and up she rises,
Way-hey, and up she rises, early in the mornin'!

Shave his belly with a rusty razor,
Shave his belly with a rusty razor,
Shave his belly with a rusty razor early in the mornin'!

Throw him in the back of the paddy wagon,
Throw him in the back of the paddy wagon,
Throw him in the back of the paddy wagon, early in the mornin'!

Inspired by Kerry advisor Roger Altman's remark that "drunken sailor" describes Bush's budgetary policies.

Readers, can you think of any lyrics to add?

NOTE Thanks, Melanie.


""Put him in the bunk with the captain's daughter" (alert reader dwight meredith)

"Throw him back to the right-wing Orcas" (alert reader Bud)

The Wreckovery: Feel like you're not getting any benefits from it? That's because you aren't 

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." Truer words... From Bob Herbert in the Times:

What is happening is nothing short of historic. The American workers' share of the increase in national income since November 2001, the end of the last recession, is the lowest on record. Employers took the money and ran. This is extraordinary, but very few people are talking about it, which tells you something about the hold that corporate interests have on the national conversation.

The situation is summed up in the long, unwieldy but very revealing title of a new study from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University: "The Unprecedented Rising Tide of Corporate Profits and the Simultaneous Ebbing of Labor Compensation - Gainers and Losers from the National Economic Recovery in 2002 and 2003."

Andrew Sum, the center's director and lead author of the study, said: "This is the first time we've ever had a case where two years into a recovery, corporate profits got a larger share of the growth of national income than labor did. Normally labor gets about 65 percent and corporate profits about 15 to 18 percent. This time profits got 41 percent and labor [meaning all forms of employee compensation, including wages, benefits, salaries and the percentage of payroll taxes paid by employers] got 38 percent."

The study said: "In no other recovery from a post-World War II recession did corporate profits ever account for as much as 20 percent of the growth in national income. And at no time did corporate profits ever increase by a greater amount than labor compensation."

In other words, an awful lot of American workers have been had. Fleeced. Taken to the cleaners.

The recent productivity gains have been widely acknowledged. But workers are not being compensated for this. During the past two years, increases in wages and benefits have been very weak, or nonexistent. And despite the growth of jobs in March that had the Bush crowd dancing in the White House halls last Friday, there has been no net increase in formal payroll employment since the end of the recession. We have lost jobs. There are fewer payroll jobs now than there were when the recession ended in November 2001.

So if employers were not hiring workers, and if they were miserly when it came to increases in wages and benefits for existing employees, what happened to all the money from the strong economic growth?

The study is very clear on this point. The bulk of the gains did not go to workers, "but instead were used to boost profits, lower prices, or increase C.E.O. compensation."

I have to laugh when I hear conservatives complaining about class warfare. They know this terrain better than anyone. They launched the war. They're waging it. And they're winning it.

Nothing new here, of course (See "Jobs flatlined under Bush—a touch of the overseer's lash", back.)

But we can't say it enough. When Bush and the MWs say "the economy" ask "Whose economy?" and answer "Not mine!"

Pacification operations begin in Falujah and Shi'ite areas of Baghdad 

Winning hearts and minds....

Reports from Baghdad say U.S. forces have launched a helicopter strike on a Shi'ite district in the western part of the Iraqi capital.

U.S. troops also began a major operation code-named Operation Vigilant Resolve in Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold where four American civilian contractors were killed and their bodies mutilated by jubilant mobs last week.
(via VOA)

Who knows... Maybe the cakewalkersrunning the show (here) want Iraq to break up into Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish nations? Since that's certainly one obvious possibility.

Two minutes of hate.... 

One of the most bizarre comments in L'Affaire Kos (back; and back) came from none other than Glenn "I've got tenure" Reynolds readers. Quoted approvingly thus:

[T]here seems to be a lot of hate out there.
(via InstaHack)

Where has this guy been? After Rush... And Anne Coulter wanting to kill the liberals... And every day on Little Green Footballs.... And the freepers...

Wingers: If you want to see clearly, take the beam out of your own eye before you take the speck of dust out of your brother's!

Bush's Iraqi clusterfuck 

Juan Cole asks a very pertinent question:

How did the CPA get to the point where it has turned even Iraqi Shiites, who were initially grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, against the United States? Where it risks fighting dual Sunni Arab and Shiite insurgencies simultaneously, at a time when US troops are rotating on a massive scale and hoping to downsize their forces in country? At a time when the Spanish, Thai and other contingents are already committed to leaving, and the UN is reluctant to get involved?

And one answer would be: The cakewalkers are running the show.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Can someone explain to me how Bush's Iraq clusterfuck is making me safer? 

The latest:

Seven U.S. soldiers were killed and more than 24 wounded in clashes in a mostly Shiite neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, an Army spokesman said early Monday, as a week of protests and violence escalated across the country.
(via WaPo)

From the ever-informative Juan Cole:

So far, about 60% of clashes with Coalition troops had occurred in the Sunni heartland of Iraq. But the violent clashes in Najaf, Baghdad, Amara and Nasiriyah may signal the beginning of a second phase, in which the US faces a two-front war, against both Sunni radicals in the center-north and Shiite militias in the South.

Lovely. I know! Let's give them tax cuts!

Meanwhile, it turns out the the fighting is a major "combat operation" involving air strikes:

"This was combat operations today," said a senior coalition military official late Sunday as the fighting still raged on the southern outskirts of Baghdad. Aircraft were brought in, he said, because "we needed to add some combat power to change the terms of the battle." The official spoke on the condition that he not be identified.
(via Knight Ridder)

But have no fear! From deep within the—I kid you not—Republican Palace, the RNC's Baghdad office (here) has the spin well under control:

The political side of the coalition tried to put a good face on the day.

"These incidents are not insignificant," said Coalition senior advisor [and Republican operative] Dan Senor. But, "the majority of Iraqis are working with us." He characterized Sunday's fighters as "isolated pockets" and "a miniscule percentage" of Iraq's 26 million people.

I know! What the Shi'ites need is tax cuts!

Not looking good in Iraq. Cakewalk, anyone? 


A demonstration in the southern city of Najaf turned deadly as Salvadoran soldiers -- under Spanish command -- exchanged fire with supporters of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the city of Najaf. Reports from the scene indicate that at least 19 protesters and 4 coalition troops were killed.

The violent clash has left much of the Shiite sections of Iraq in near chaos.

This represents the most serious clashes between coalition forces and the Shiite population. Previous large scale fighting has usually occurred between coalition forces and Sunni population, from which more militant members and former Baath Party members had led a year long resistance to the U.S.-led presence.

But the Shiites -- which had suffered terrible oppression under Saddam's rule -- have been reluctant to resort to violence, preferring demonstrations and political maneuvering to confrontation.

If full scale fighting breaks out, which Sunday night it appeared as very possible -- between U.S. forces and the Shiite followers of Sadr, it would represent the largest setback for the U.S. occupation of Iraq so far, as Iraq's 60 percent Shiite population, which has rarely fought the coalition -- could be forced to choose sides. That would set the stage for a bloody civil war, or more widespread opposition to the U.S.-led presence from a population that has arguably benefited the most from the U.S. invasion.

After the estimated 5,000 demonstrators traded gunfire with the troops in Najaf, crowds turned out in Baghdad, Kerbala, and Sadr's home village of Kufa to "declare war on the American occupation," said one supporter.
(via UPI)

Not sure there are many good options here. Presumably some administration official who has credibility (assuming there is one) is on the phone to Sistani... Though this does remind me powerfully of the search for moderate Iranians in the Iran-Contra affair.

Yech. What a mess. What a fully forseen and warned of mess. Maybe somebody can explain to me how this Iraqi clusterfuck is helping make me safer?

Living in public and "The Kos Scream" 

Matt Stollar (via Atrios) has a brilliant post on the "The Kos Scream" (below) . To summarize, Stollar contrasts the (mostly winger) talk show sphere with the (mostly liberal) blogosphere, and points out that unlike radio, blogging creates a history.

The millions of words that Kos has posted over the years are all accessible over the Internet. Those words have gained him the trust of hundreds of thousands of readers.

But they are also targets of opportunity for any winger attack machine with data mining capability: A single ill-considered comment can be taken out of context, distorted, and magnified—just like the SCLM magnified The Dean Scream (and then apologized for pushing a distorted non-story well after the deed, and the damage, were done).

The Dean Scream only happened on TV. By contrast, The Kos Scream happened on the Internet, and so the attack machine was able to go after not only Kos himself, but anyone who is or was linked to him. And, by the "six degrees of separation" anyone is going to be linked to him. Meaning that any degree of distortion and magnification is possible. Talk about handing a winger a loaded gun...

What to do? It's the very strength of blogging—our willingness to put ourselves on the line in public, and to build a community through shared words—that has just been used against us. And it will only get worse, the wingers being who and what they are.

Oddly, when Stollar looks for a solution, he comes up with the following:

I don't have an answer to the combination of a reactionary media environment smacking up against an open and free wheeling discussion chamber. It'll probably be solved by a long-term cultural change in the media environment. The best I can do in terms of practical solutions is wonder if it might be a good idea for the major papers to assign someone to a 'smear' beat, so readers can better understand how the manipulation of information pushes the political culture. Because it's clear that smearing someone is now easier than ever, and this increasing ease-of-smear is going to continue to create uncomfortable pressure for all sides.

Stollar has an interesting idea, but aren't newspapers really too slow for this? And will they defend us?

Since we can take more smears from the wingers for granted, can't the blogosphere come up with an answer on its own? Like an RSS-driven smear alert? Readers?

UPDATE I'm reminded by alert reader MJS to mention that Mr. Stollar oddly omits The Howler from his discussion. Seems to me, though, that Bob Somersby is more about SCLMology than defending the blogosphere from winger attack. Still, he might welcome a new beat.

Back to making money on T-shirts, PayPal, and mugs 

God, it's like Junior High.

Kos said something inflammatory, InstaHack jumped on it and transmitted some winger memes, newly Beltway-compliant Kevin Drum decided the wingers would play nice if we did, and now Atrios has to pull his donation pages.

What a farce.

Of course, you can't blame the DNC types and the campaigns for being skittish, with the winger attack machine as efficient and effective as it is in transmitting its memes through the SCLM. So from the standpoint of winning, Kevin Drum (in his way) and Atrios (in his own way) and the campaigns (in their ways) are making the right decisions for us all.

On the other hand, the real issue is how easily the manufactured outrage by the wingers gets transmitted, and how the smallest slip—or even deviation from the CW—by us gets magnified. I'm not sure how to fix this problem.

I do believe that taking money from Democrats won't fix this problem; the official Democrats, and we, need to do our own things in our own ways for both of us to win.

And I also believe that caving to the likes of InstaHack and the LGFers and the MBFs won't fix this problem either. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

Incidentally, analytically, Kos was right (back), as so often.

And it's exactly because Kos is so often right that InstaHack and his ilk seek to destroy him (and all of us). Kos has provided us all with many useful analytical and rhetorical tools, and we can't even begin to change our lives for the better, or save the Republic from its enemies, without such tools. Our readers know this, and the usual winger tactics of manufactured outrage and character assassination (via Atrios) won't change that.

So, back to making money on T-shirts, PayPay, and mugs!

UPDATE More up here.

Looks like some Shi'ites don't want to wait for the June 30 handover.... 

Was Fallujah only the beginning?

Iraq was wracked today by its most violent civil disturbances since the occupation started, with a coordinated Shia uprising spreading across the country, from the slums of Baghdad to several cities in the south.

By day's end, witnesses said Shia militiamen controlled the city of Kufa, south of Baghdad, with armed men loyal to a radical cleric occupying the town's police stations and checkpoints. More than eight people were killed by Spanish forces in a similar uprising in the neighboring town of Najaf.

In Baghdad, American tanks battled militiamen loyal to Moqtada Al Sadr, the radical cleric who has denounced the occupation and has an army of thousands of young followers.

At nightfall today, the Sadr City neighborhood shook with explosions and tank and machine gun fire. Black smoke choked the sky. The streets were lined with armed militiamen, dressed in all black. American tanks surrounded the area. Attack helicopters thundered overhead.

"The occupation is over!" people on the streets yelled.
(via The Times)

Sistani, of course, would prefer to take power through elections. Looks like Sadr is a little more hotheaded, and wants it all now.

Incidentallly, Steve Gilliard at Kos has said for some time that the Shi'ites are the story to pay attention to. From way back in 2003, when all things seemed possible ...

Meanwhile, official Washington is discovering that Bush has no plan for the June 30 handover either:

Asked whether the transfer of power is coming too soon, [Republican Senator Richard] Lugar said, "It may be, and I think it's probably time to have that debate."

The only problem: The Shi'ites are already having the debate, and in the streets.

Lugar said there are still far too many questions about what will happen after June 30.

He said the administration has shared no plans with his committee regarding an ambassador, who the 3,000 embassy staff will be, and how they will be kept safe.

"This is a huge new exposure of Americans," Lugar told ABC's "This Week."

He added, "At this point, I would have thought there would have been a more comprehensive plan."
(via AP

Mercy. Lugar expects a plan from the Bush administration? Where has he been living for the past three years?

It's starting to look like events in Iraq are moving faster than debates in Washington, or the desires of the Bush Election Campaign, either. "Events, dear boy. Events...."

And where is the positive liberal and Democratic position on what to do about the Iraqi qWagmire? (See Soros below) I know what Bush would say: Give the Shi'ites tax cuts! But what is our policy?

UPDATE More cakewalking.

Soros: WOT, and Iraq as part of WOT, plays into AQ's hands 

Soros makes a strategic contribution. Where is Kerry, where is the DNC, and where are we on a positive way forward from Iraq? We can't really have Fundamentalists flying airplanes into our buildings, or letting off loose nukes in our cities, can we? So what is the liberal, and what is the Democratic vision? How can our positive core values work in the 21st Century?

The Bush administration is in the habit of waging personal vendettas against those who criticize its policies, but bit by bit the evidence is accumulating that the invasion of Iraq was among the worst blunders in U.S. history.

War is a false and misleading metaphor in the context of combating terrorism. The metaphor suited the purposes of the administration because it invoked our military might. But military actions require an identifiable target, preferably a state. As a result, the war on terrorism has been directed primarily against states like Afghanistan that are harboring terrorists, not at pursuing the terrorists themselves.

This does not mean that we should not use military means to capture and bring terrorists to justice when appropriate. But to protect ourselves against terrorism, we need precautionary measures, awareness and intelligence gathering — all of which ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which terrorists operate. Declaring war on the very people we need to enlist against terrorism is a huge mistake. We are bound to create some innocent victims, and the more of them there are, the greater the resentment and the better the chances that some victims will turn into the next perpetrators.

The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush administration is more likely to bring about a permanent state of war than an end to terrorism. Terrorists are invisible; therefore, they will never disappear. They will continue to provide a convenient pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy by military means. That, in turn, will continue to generate resistance, setting up a vicious circle of escalating violence.

The important thing to remember about terrorism is that it is a reflexive phenomenon. Its impact and development depend on the actions and reactions of the victims. If the victims react by turning into perpetrators, terrorism triumphs in the sense of engendering more and more violence. That is what the fanatically militant Islamists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attacks must have hoped to achieve. By allowing a "war" on terrorism to become our principal preoccupation, we are playing straight into the terrorists' hands: They — not we — are setting our priorities.

By using the war on terror as a pretext for asserting our military supremacy, we are embarking on an escalating spiral of terrorist/ counterterrorist violence.

And now the policy proposal that isn't:

If instead we were to set an example of cooperative behavior, we could not only alleviate poverty, misery and injustice in the world, but also gain support for defending ourselves against terrorism. We will be the greatest beneficiaries if we do so.
(from George Soros in the LA Times)

Though I'm not sure what "cooperation" would look like. Readers?

NOTE Clearly, nothing can be done until Bush is no longer President, because nobody in their right mind would trust him, and threats and force can only carry us so far. It also seems clear to me that the Fundamentalist forces abroad and in the United States are one and the same, in that they both seek to escalate the cycle of violence (see Campaign Against Fundamentalism, back here.) I'm not clear on how a policy of cooperation can be started without the uncooperative acts of preventing Bush from being elected, and ridding the SCLM and the policy making apparatus of Fundamentalist influence.

Why is Proconsul Bremer always surrounded by large men with goatees, sunglasses, and semi-automatic weapons? 

In other words, mercenaries.

Doesn't the Army have Special Forces that can do the job? What's going on?

The 9/11 Truth Page 

An interesting project from Disinfopedia. Check it out!

300,000 down 2,700,000 to go 

Alert reader Hobson points us to the following post by MaxSpeak (and it would sure be nice if the DNC was faxblasting stuff like this. Like they're paid to do.)

The question is WHEN, or HOW RAPIDLY. In January of 2001, the Bushies implied a return to trend that required over 300,000 new jobs a month. This month's is the first report that overcomes that hurdle. In terms of job accumulation over the past year, we are still way behind.

The problem with some conservative commentary is this:

If the job prediction was noithing more than a return to trend, then the White House was practicing hokum by implying that this return to trend depended on their tax cuts.

If the job growth they predicted was nothing more than a return to trend, then the tax cuts are ineffectual in producing jobs, since all we're doing is getting back to trend.

If the household survey is more accurate because it captures all those magical job gains in self-employment and entrepreneurial pastimes, then this month's report stinks badly.
(via MaxSpeak)

Don't confuse us with facts! Bush knows! So that that we may believe!

Never Give Up On A First-Rate Mind 

Truly first-rate that is. Not first in his class first-rate. Top-drawer first-rate. Someone like Leon Wieseltier.

No one could be more surprised than am I to find myself praising either Mr. Wieseltier or his mind.

It was not always thus. When he first began to make his presence known at The New Republic back in the early eighties, I was among his most devoted admirers. I looked forward to finding his name in the Table of Contents. But by the nineties I'd begun to dread seeing it there.

I'm not sure if I changed, or Mr. Wieseltier changed. I think it was the issue of race that ultimately divided us, as more and more he seemd to became comfortable with the Peretz apostasy on that and related matters; no, it wasn't a case of Wieseltier revealing himself to be a racist, only that he was too ready, like so many of TNR writers nurtured by Mr. Peretz, to accept a critique of liberal positions on race that were less a critique than an unearned assumption of intellectual and moral superiority, especially in regards to the issues of affirmative action, poverty, and "welfare." Wiseltier's pieces increasingly became jeremiads, his tone. scourging, as this or that Democratic policy position, this or that feminist, this of that black intellectual was shown to be a worthless fool. Occasionally, I would return to check out what he had to say and be rewarded with calm insight. Then I stopped even doing that; it was too painful to read his wrathful excoriations of anyone who didn't view the Israeli/Palestine horror the way he does.

Today, I noticed a Wieseltier piece online at TNR about the recent Supreme Court hearing, on the constitutionality of that magical phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, with this intriguing title and subtitle, "Under God And Over" "What America Can Learn From Its Atheists." The article does not disappoint. This is Leon Wieseltier at his best, wry, brilliant, insightful, the writing itself, majestic without being full of itself. Something else it is; unafraid to take on the fuzzy religiosity of so many of the voices one hears on this topic of what should be the church/state relationship in a secular democracy. Unfortunately, the article resides behind a subscriber wall, although I do think TNR has some form of day pass, so let me urge you to find a way to read it by giving you a brief sense of what Wieseltier has to say.

He starts with this brilliantly funny unlikelihood.

It was the first time that William Rehnquist ever put me in mind of Søren Kierkegaard.

The "it" refers to Wieseltier's presence in the chamber during oral arguments, those for the government handled by our old friend, Ted Olson, whose positions Wieseltier pretty much flays to the bone, and those for the plaintiff handled by the plaintiff, "Michael A. Newdow, the atheist from California who was defending his victory in a lower court..." whom Wieseltier ends up admiring, with a few reservations of course, but whose challenge to an official government vision of an America "under God" Wieseltier ultimately finds " terrifically stirring."

Wieseltier gives us as stirring an account of what it was like to be there at the Supreme Court that day, interwoven with a nuanced, learned, commentary on religious meaning, religion vs. morality, the founder's Deism, and the ways in which a defense of religion can become a denial of religion.

The discussion that morning fully vindicated the majesty of the chamber, as legal themes gave way to metaphysical themes and philosophy bewitched the assembly. But something strange happened. Almost as soon as philosophy was invited, it was disinvited. It seemed to make everybody anxious, except the respondent. I had come to witness a disputation between religion's enemies and religion's friends. What I saw instead, with the exception of a single comment by Justice Souter, was a disputation between religion's enemies, liberal and conservative. And this confirmed me in my conviction that the surest way to steal the meaning, and therefore the power, from religion is to deliver it to politics, to enslave it to public life.

Some of the individuals to whom I am attributing a hostility to religion would resent the allegation deeply. They regard themselves as religion's finest friends. But what kind of friendship for religion is it that insists that the words "under God" have no religious connotation? A political friendship, is the answer. And that is precisely the kind of friendship that the Bush administration exhibited in its awful defense of the theistic diction of the Pledge. The solicitor general stood before the Court to argue against the plain meaning of ordinary words. In the Pledge of Allegiance, the government insisted, the word "God" does not refer to God. It refers to a reference to God.


At the Christian demonstration outside the Supreme Court that morning, one of the speakers remarked, as she reminded her listeners that "the Soviet Union was definitely not a nation under God," that "I guess it's not a surprise that if you don't acknowledge God you don't care about lying." Are there no religious liars? Not if you hold that religion and morality are the same; or if you deem a statement to be true because it includes a mention of God.


Justice Breyer wondered, in a challenge to Newdow, whether the words "under God" referred only to a "supreme being." Citing United States v. Seeger from 1965.....Breyer suggested that the God in "under God" is "this kind of very comprehensive supreme being, Seeger-type thing." And he posed an extraordinary question to Newdow: "So do you think that God is so generic in this context that it could be that inclusive, and if it is, then does your objection disappear?"

Needless to say, Newdow's objection did not disappear, because it is one of the admirable features of atheism to take God seriously. Newdow's reply was unforgettable: "I don't think that I can include 'under God' to mean 'no God,' which is exactly what I think. I deny the existence of God." The sound of those words in that room gave me what I can only call a constitutional thrill. This is freedom.


And there is another problem. It is that nobody worships a "very comprehensive supreme being, Seeger-type thing." Such a level of generality, a "generic" God, is religiously senseless. Breyer's solution was another attempt to salvage religious expression by emptying it of religious content. But why should a neutralized God be preferred to a neutral government? The preference is attractive only if religion is regarded primarily from the standpoint of politics.


There is no greater insult to religion than to expel strictness of thought from it. Yet such an expulsion is one of the traits of contemporary American religion, as the discussion at the Supreme Court demonstrated. Religion in America is more and more relaxed and "customized," a jolly affair of hallowed self-affirmation, a religion of a holy whatever. Speaking about God is prized over thinking about God. Say "under God" even if you don't mean under God. And if you mean under God, don't be tricked into giving an account of what you mean by it. Before too long you have arrived at a sacralized cynicism:

And take a look at this wonderful reminder of the centuries-long tradition of religious leaders being among the most insistant supporters of a separation between religion and government.

Justice Stevens recalled a devastating point from the fascinating brief submitted in support of Newdow by 32 Christian and Jewish clergy, which asserted that "if the briefs of the school district and the United States are to be taken seriously," that is, if the words in the Pledge do not allude to God, "then every day they ask schoolchildren to violate [the] commandment" that "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord in vain."

As Wieseltier reminds us, those ten commandments are not suggestions. Why oh why aren't any of those thirty-two members of the clergy ever invited on any of the cable/broadcast news shows to be the countervailing guest to the inevitable Christian fundamentalist, instead of or in addition to the inevitable Barry Lynde? Could it be because all that talk about Americans and their deeply held religious beliefs has the effect of denaturing them?

For the argument that a reference to God is not a reference to God is a sign that American religion is forgetting its reasons. The need of so many American believers to have government endorse their belief is thoroughly abject. How strong, and how wise, is a faith that needs to see God's name wherever it looks?

I'm among those who, while knowing that Michael Newdow is absolutely right about the Pledge of Allegiance, had wished he'd not brought his suit. Reading Leon Wieseltier, I too experienced "a constitutional thrill" along with a realization of how wrong and how cowardly is such a position.

Find a way to read the whole essay. It's a wonderful basis for initiating a discussion of how to craft better arguments in support of the church/state separation doctrine, and how to better frame our response to the right's organized insistence that their own constant efforts to undermine one of our most basic constitutional principles is only a response to some sort of left-wing secularist attack on religion in general, and Christianity in particular.

Coming Soon! ~ MASTERS of DELUSION! 

Learn to throw your voice!

Tickets available from the Office of Special Planning. (all purchases are non-refundable)

Have a nice day.

"Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?" - former first lady Barbara Bush - "Good Morning America" March 18, 2003


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