Friday, February 18, 2005

A Modest Proposal

Greg at The Talent Show suggests the following as he notes a new "video game" called America's Army (link):

If they really want this game to accurately reflect the military experience, they should have the game completely take over the computer so the player can't check email, browse the web, do any work, etc. for as long as the game is in progress. Every day the player must complete a mission, regardless of what else is going on in their "real" life. The game continues like this for six to nine months or so, after which the game is in "reserve" mode and may restart itself at any time. If the player dies in the game, their harddrive is reformatted. If the player is only maimed, the screen shows nothing but a static photo from the inside of a military hospital for a few weeks and a few random keys on the keyboard stop functioning completely. Sounds pretty shitty, huh? Well, so is getting shipped off to war.

Sounds good to me, with one more suggestion: if you can figure out how to hack the game and go into "chickenhawk" mode, you can do any of the following:

Run off to Alabama, trash the house you're renting, show up at noon to not work on a campaign, get your teeth cleaned at a military facility--and claim thirty years later that you "served honorably."

Use any of the following excuses to avoid combat:

Pilonidal Cyst
Graduate School
Bum Knee
"Other Priorities"
"Minorities Volunteering in Large Numbers"
"I've got to feed my family."

Ah, what the hell--ANY of these excuses will work, too.

However, if you don't have political connections, forget it. Chickenhawk mode isn't for everyone...

I saw this at Jesus' General--Officer J.C. Christian notes that J.D. Guckert (alias Jeff Gannon) "isn't the only friend of Our Leader's who took advantage of capitalism's many benefits by creating an internets business."

But link at your own risk. Even if you haven't eaten (could cause dry heaves).
Goddamned Kids...Stay Off My Lawn!

In fact, says the pResident, don't even go to Lafayette Park--just scram, as Molly Ivins notes in this column, entitled Screw the Children:

In fact, that's something I've long noticed about George W. Bush: He really doesn't see any connection between government programs and helping people. Promoting the general welfare, one of the six reasons the Constitution gives for having a government in the first place, is not high on his list. I refer you back to his immortal statement while governor: 'No children are going to go hungry in this state. You'd think the governor would have heard if there are pockets of hunger in Texas.' He'd been governor for five years at the time.

No hungry kids during Bush's watch--and test scores rose, high school dropout rates lowered, because Bush gamed the system by covering stuff up. You know, back in the day, things were doubleplusgood in Texas. I heard they increased the sugar ration to a half kilo a month, although no god-fearing Texan would ever use the term "kilo." If pounds and ounces were good enough for Jesus Christ, they should be good enough for everyone else.*

And, thanks to governor Bush, Texas was winning the war on terror...ah, things sure was GOOD in the Lone Star Stet back then...

*half kilo=1.1 pound (approximately).
Why Do Hillbilly Heroin...

When you can get your grubby, drug addled paws on the real stuff?:

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is expected to visit Afghanistan with the top U.S. aid official to spotlight America's aid work there, officials said on Thursday.

I can see the balloon boy now--"Poppies...poppies."
Stop it, You're Killing Me

The Turkish Press has details on today's bombings in Iraq:

At least 40 people have been killed in violence in Iraq since Thursday night, security and medical sources said, including 26 in anti-Shiite attacks.

In the deadliest incident, 17 people died and at least 25 were wounded when a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up in a Shiite mosque in the southern Baghdad district of Dura.

I thought the Bush policy of tough interrogation, i.e., torture, was supposed to put a stop to that sort of thing. I dunno--maybe they haven't refined the technique, although apparently they're still working on it:

A cache of documents disclosed Thursday provides several instances of prisoner abuse by American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq that appeared to have been investigated only briefly. The documents, released by the American Civil Liberties Union, include one file in which an Iraqi detainee asserted that Americans in civilian clothing beat him repeatedly, dislocated his shoulder, stepped on his nose until it broke, choked him with a rope and hit him in the leg with a bat. Medical reports in the file confirmed the broken nose and fractured leg...

Another file concerns the discovery of a compact disk during an office clean-up in Afghanistan in July 2004 that contained images of what appeared to investigators to be abuse of detainees.

The report said the pictures showed uniformed soldiers pointing rifles and pistols at the heads of hooded detainees and posing detainees in awkward positions. A statement from a sergeant says that many such photos were destroyed after the April 2004 disclosure of mistreatment at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad...

Another case still under investigation by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency involves the death in 2003 of a prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, who had been in C.I.A. custody at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Mr. Jamadi's corpse was wrapped in plastic and packed in ice before being smuggled out of the prison, in an apparent effort to evade notice from military guards. The Jamadi case is not part of the cache of documents released by the civil liberties union.

An Associated Press article on Thursday cited investigative reports in saying that Mr. Jamadi had been found suspended by his wrists, which had been handcuffed behind his back. The dispatch said that soldiers who found his body said Mr. Jamadi's arms had nearly been pulled from their sockets...

The latter case refers to something known as "Palestinian hanging," which the Israeli government uses on, you guessed it, Palestinians. Funny, but I don't think it works there either. However, it certainly takes away any moral imperative, as well as opens up the possibility that we might slip up and torture the wrong folks. I guess they're supposed to understand if that happens.

And, as Bob Herbert points out, sometimes it does.
Shoe Bomb

Richard Perle was donated some additional footwear last night during a debate over Iraq with Howard Dean:

Howard Dean, the newly minted leader of the Democratic Party, and former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle made clear their opposing views on the war in Iraq during a debate marred by a protester who tossed a shoe at Perle.

Perle had just started his comments Thursday when a protester threw a shoe at him before being dragged away, screaming, "Liar! Liar!"...

"Defense is a lot broader than swaggering around saying you're going to kick Saddam's butt," Dean said Thursday, drawing cheers from the crowd in this city that overwhelmingly voted Democratic last November.

Perle said the war in Iraq was justified based on the intelligence available at the time. "Sometimes the things we have to do are objectionable to others," he said.

The "intelligence available at the time" was political crap, and anyone with half a brain knew it. Perle is, as usual, talking out of his ass--and he was reminded of his propensity to do this when asked about a statement he made in September of 2003, when he said that within a year, "a grand square in Baghdad named for President Bush."

His reply?

"I'd be a fool not to recognize that it did not happen on the schedule I had in mind," Perle said, adding that he did not deny that the administration had made mistakes in Iraq.

But, Perle added, "I will be surprised, yet again, if we do not see a square in Baghdad named after this president." He did not specify a time.

A square? How about a cemetery? It'd be more fitting. Or maybe we can rename the Green Zone wall after the dauphin: the George W. Bush 25 Foot Reinforced Concrete Wall of Liberation--Entry via secure checkpoint only, all others will be shot--this means you, Iraqi citizens.

However, Perle IS dropping hints that he's leaving the sinking ship (the "mistakes were made" element of his public statements). I'll give him credit for having a rat's capacity to sense danger.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

No Confidence

Rumsfeld stonewalls:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld steadfastly declined Thursday to give Congress a public estimate of the size of the Iraqi insurgency...

"They're not static. The numbers change," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "They're made up of different elements: criminals, Baathists, the former regime elements, the Zarqawi network and jihadists. Even though the jihadists are the smallest portion of them, they appear to us to be the most lethal."

Translation: I'm talking out of my ass--is the Senator's time up?

Dick Myers chimed in about the "limited" capability of the insurgency:

"They have a limited capacity," he said. They can conduct 50 to 60 attacks per day around the country, he said.

Except when they can conduct more attacks, like, say, on "election" day when the total shot up to almost 300. Myers has a wonderfully limited concept of term "limited." General--almost two years into the operation, and you're seeing daily attacks. Mission Accomplished? Not even close.

Rumsfeld also declares he has "no confidence" in estimates of insurgent strength, which is either a lie or a startling admission that he's blindly reacting to the rebellion. Either way, it's not good news.

Oh, one more thing: for those who'd like to take a short trip down memory lane, PBS ran a fairly decent Frontline titled Rumsfeld's War this week (here in Loosiana, it aired Tuesday night, and the show is available for online viewing). I recall watching Rummy have a great laugh about the word "quagmire," challenging the assembled press to ask him questions on the subject. I wonder if he's still available?

Nah, not a chance.

Other highlights include his theory of looting and how it's a sign of freedom, his rebuke of General Shinsheki, who carefully considered the force necessary to occupy the country--Rummy and his own version of Igor, i.e., Paul Wolfowitz, both cried that the General's numbers we're way off the mark, with Wolfie saying it was "hard to imagine" more forces needed for the occupation than the operation. Hmmm. Subsequent events seem to indicate that Rummy & Wolfie might be a little airy upstairs.

Image found at Scaramouche.

My personal favorite moment though, was a shot of D.C. in the evening, with a Dubya voice-over announcing that he'd given the order to

Disarm Iraq
Free its People and
Defend the World from Grave Danger,

Let's see--two years later, and

No Weapons of Mass Destruction--NONE. Plenty of regular weapons, though. Weapons that were never secured, and which now are in the hands of insurgents. I'd say that in the matter of disarming Iraq, Bush gets a D minus.

Free its People--apparently "freedom" to Bush means "killing" in plain English. AT LEAST 16,000 to date, possible a LOT more. Unless you're a fan of Death Wish movies, this scores a big fat "F."

Defend the World from Grave Danger--um, what exactly WAS the danger? To paraphrase Zell Miller, spitballs? Another failing grade.

I wonder if they'll make Rumsfeld sign the report card. Again, nah--he'd probably refuse to do even that.
"Intelligence" Chief

Whiskey Bar has the details.
Dowd, Rich, and a Son-of-a-Bitch

Two big guns in the New York Times's arsenal take aim at Mr. Guckert. Ms. Dowd:

I am very impressed with James Guckert, a k a Jeff Gannon.

How often does an enterprising young man, heralded in press reports as both a reporter and a contributor to such sites as,,, and, get to question the president of the United States?

Who knew that a hotmilitarystud wanting to meetlocalmen could so easily get to be face2face with the commander in chief?...

I'm still mystified by this story. I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?

At first when I tried to complain about not getting my pass renewed, even though I'd been covering presidents and first ladies since 1986, no one called me back. Finally, when Mr. McClellan replaced Ari Fleischer, he said he'd renew the pass - after a new Secret Service background check that would last several months.

Now, some folks might have a good laugh over Team Bush's deliberate snub of Ms. Dowd, but fundamental issues of fairness should apply, and the fact that Guckert/Gannon gets a free pass--literally--while an established reporter, like her or not, is put on a several months waiting list speaks volumes:

They paid conservative columnists handsomely to promote administration programs. Federal agencies distributed packaged "news" video releases with faux anchors so local news outlets would run them. As CNN reported, the Pentagon produces Web sites with "news" articles intended to influence opinion abroad and at home, but you have to look hard for the disclaimer: "Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense." The agencies spent a whopping $88 million spinning reality in 2004, splurging on P.R. contracts.

Even the Nixon White House didn't do anything this creepy. It's worse than hating the press. It's an attempt to reinvent it.

Reinvention in this case would be familiar to anyone who's studied, say, Soviet-era media.

Which is what Frank Rich notices:

When the Bush administration isn't using taxpayers' money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post discovered that even at an inaugural ball he was assigned "minders" - attractive women who wouldn't give him their full names - to let the revelers know that Big Brother was watching should they be tempted to say anything remotely off message.

Now, to be fair, some folks might not want genuine, independent sources of information. Such outlets cut into myths that have comforted them over the years--for example, someone commenting at YRHT bemoaned the Carter-era defense "cuts" that caused a major funk in the military of the time. Hmmm. Here are the cuts--military spending for FY 1978 was $115 Billion dollars, for 1979, it was $125 billion dollars, for 1980, $142.6 billion, and for 1981, $178.3 billion (and, to round out, FY 1977's military budget was $108.3 billion). In other words, the "cuts" resulted in $63.3 billion dollars of increased spending (oh, and auditing is virtually unheard of with defense spending, so we have no idea if the money was spent well or wasted. Hell, they could've been lighting cigars with $100 bills for all we know). But that doesn't fit into the myth.

Plenty of other things don't fit into the various myths--like Guckert himself, for instance. Or the fact that Iraq is a disaster. Or that Social Security ISN'T hanging on to fiscal soundness by its fingernails. But myth is strong--stronger than reality for plenty of people. So, they continue to believe.

It'll be a rude awakening.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Your Tax Dollars at Work

I got wrapped up trying to wrestle with a disk quota program over here--the program itself needed some tweaking, and a security agent installed on the server in question kept everything moving at a snails pace until I figured out how to shut it down...

Anyway, I noticed a couple of Billmon posts that look like an entire evening of solid reading--short version: Ibrahim Jaafari, who looks like he's got the inside track to become Iraqi prime minister, is no secularist. Da'wa, translated, might well mean "Doh!" Our soldiers have been getting killed for theocracy.

Of course, that assumes that ANY government can organize itself out of the chaos over there, which is still a great big IF. It will be interesting to see what sort of armed forces the interim government tries to organize, and how it will compete with/complement the US effort in that regard (which, as I noted yesterday, is, well, pathetic). If I was a betting person--I'm not--I'd put a substantial wager on civil war.

Civil war of course would keep the focus on the fertile crescent, but this interesting article is the flip side of the $300 Billion Dollar Policy (minus Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner, and body armor):

The insurgency in Iraq is providing militants with training and international contacts, the head of America's CIA has warned.

In his first public appearance as CIA director, Porter Goss said the conflict had become a "cause for extremists"...

"Those jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said.

"They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks."

No shit, Sherlock. I guess "fighting them over there" won't exactly turn out as planned, will it? Has there ever been a more ridiculous idea? Terrorists don't exactly load themselves onto LST's and storm shores. They operate in small cells, living inconspicuously, blending into the surroundings, before embarking on their murderous deeds--of course, it's a hell of a lot easier to do that kind of thing when you've got a government that apparently can't be bothered to read briefing material warning about terrorist threats. It's also a hell of a lot easier to avoid the spotlight when you've got a government that starts an overseas war without adequate planning or preparation, then gets eight divisions bogged down in the desert, barely able to communicate with locals because of a chronic shortage of translators. And it really helps when the war plays right into the hands of public enemy number one, a fundamentalist kook who's exploiting the violence we needlessly brought on in order to further his kook agenda...

Oyster and others noted today's rant from somebody who calls himself hindrocket at Powerline blog (Your Right Hand Thief has the link if you really want to look at it). Pocketrocket decrees that Jimmy Carter, who expressed skepticism about the Iraqi "election," is "on the other side."

Really? Because, when you actually stop and think about it, the present policies of the Bush adminstration have done more for fundamentalist Islamic kookism than almost anything else I've seen since, well, Ronald Reagan's insistance that the mujahadeen (i.e., the Taliban and Al Qaeda) were really "freedom fighters," and worth millions of dollars in aid a year...oh, and if I remember, Reagan was somewhat fond of a certain Iraqi dictator named...Saddam Hussein.

$300 billion and counting...ah, conservative means never having to say you're sorry about spending.
Looking for an Illustrator

Roger Ailes has an updated Goofus and Gallant story, but needs pictures.

America Blog has more on the Gannon matter, including this post which points out a major weakness in the Democratic party--their inability to understand that this is a legitimate matter to aggressively pursue:

Democrats in the US Senate are reportedly cooling to the notion of pushing for an investigation of the entire Gannon/Plame link. Why are the Democratic Senators backing off the idea of investigating this mess? Because now it appears Gannon was a hooker too, on top of everything else.

Yes, you got that right. Because we've uncovered even MORE damaging information about this guy and this White House, the Dems in the Senate are now getting cold feet. What? Do Democratic Senators have a soft-spot for hookers? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Did they never intend to really push for an inquiry, and now that we've given them reason for one they're getting scared they might actually have to do their job?

Yes, God forbid that someone actually asked a Democratic Senator to step up to the plate and do his God damn job. God forbid someone actually expected the Democratic party to take a swipe at this president. Think about it. Gannon is fair game when we think he might be involved with prostitution, but when we pretty much prove it, then the Dems scurry like rats.

Take a look at the post, and I also recommend the rest of Aravosis's site.

And I might as well add a link to the Joe Conason piece about Gannon/Guckert that lays (no pun intended) it all out in a concise manner.

Hullabaloo also adds something worth reading to the mix--here's the entire post, but this line certainly makes sense:

pay no attention to the naked gay conservative male prostitute sitting in the middle of the family values white house living room.(Digby attributes this to another writer who's name he unfortunately can't recall, but nonetheless credit wherever it's due).

And here's another point:

I hear endless braying about how the Democrats have to "fight back." And yet... we just don't seem to to have the heart to play the raw political game [Rethugs] play.


Like it or not, politics at the national level will often be a dirty business. Rethuglicans know this, and behave accordingly. Democrats either don't know, or maybe consider it beneath them--to the point that they've not only become the equivalent of whipping boys, but when presented with an opportunity to fight back, they choose to hide in the corner or under the rug. I think some of this is due to DLC leadership, which brought Clinton--and little else. In fact, one thing I've noticed over the last decade or so is how apologetic Democrats seem for taking positions that are at the core of what it means to be American. I wonder if that's due to the ongoing groveling for money that's at the heart of the political process these days (groveling that Howard Dean proved unnecessary, by the way).

Rethuglican-Lite won't work. Neither will turning tail when you've got a chance to note the hypocrisy of the administration--who, recall, might well have paid for Mr. Gannon/Guckert to lob softballs to one Scott McClellan--after all, they certainly paid real journalists. What prevented them from maybe paying a fake one? If Democrats want to be taken seriously, they need to take advantage of things like the Gannon matter. No, it's not pretty--but it's how politics is played these days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

$300 Billion Dollar Dumb

Robert Scheer waylays the administration (thanks to Rising Hegemon for the link):

For the last three years, administration apologists have tried to make the FAA the scapegoat for the 9/11 attacks. But it is the president who ultimately is responsible for national security, not a defanged agency that is beholden to the industry it allegedly monitors.

The terrible fact is that the administration took none of the steps that would have put the protection of human life ahead of a diverse set of economic and political interests, which included not offending our friends the Saudis and not hurting the share prices of airline corporations.

The warnings provided by intelligence agencies to the FAA were far clearer and more specific than suggested by Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission when she reluctantly conceded the existence of a presidential briefing that warned of impending Al Qaeda attacks. Rice had dismissed those warnings as "historical," but according to the newly released section of the 9/11 report, an astonishing 52 of the 105 daily intelligence briefings received by the FAA — and available to Rice — before the Sept. 11 attacks made specific reference to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Given this shocking record of indifference on the part of the administration, it is politically understandable that it tried to prevent the formation of the 9/11 commission in the first place, and then for five months prevented the declassification of key sections of the final report. Commission members, including its Republican chairman, Thomas Kean, stated in the past that there was no national security concern that justified keeping those sections of the report from the public.

And let's be clear: The failure to fully disclose what is known about the 9/11 tragedy is not some minor bureaucratic transgression. Not since the Soviets first detonated an atomic bomb more than half a century ago has a single event so affected decision-making in this country, yet the main questions as to how and why it happened remain mostly unanswered.

Even worse, what we do know calls into question our government's explanation that a diabolical international terrorist conspiracy exploited our liberal, naive society. What has emerged, instead, is a portrait of an often bumbling terrorist gang allowed to wreak havoc because the top tiers of the administration were so indifferent to the alarms, which former CIA Director George Tenet described so graphically: "The system was blinking red."

Had the business-friendly administration put safety first and ordered a full complement of air marshals into the air, over the obscene objections of airlines loath to give up paid seats, nearly 3,000 people might not have died that day. And had the president of the United States taken some time from his epic ranch vacation that August to order a nationwide airport alert, two bloody wars abroad, as well as an all-out assault on civil liberties in this country, probably would not have happened.

Instead, an administration that resisted spending the tens of millions required to fortify airline security before 9/11 is nearing the $300-billion mark on Afghanistan and Iraq. And declassified documents have unmistakably said the latter had nothing to do with 9/11. Meanwhile, those countries that at least indirectly did, most notably "allies" Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, have been let off the hook.

Indeed, the 9/11 commission was not allowed to get near that story: It is an unnoticed but startling truth that the basic narrative on the tragedy derives from the interrogations of key detainees whom the 9/11 commissioners were not allowed to interview. Nor were they permitted to even take testimony from the U.S. intelligence personnel who interrogated those prisoners.

When the truth and governmental transparency are arbitrarily trumped by the invocation of national security, the public is simply incapable of making informed decisions on the most crucial decisions we face — starting with whom we elect as our commander in chief.

The Flip Side of "If it's Dead, it's VC"...

Apparently is, "If it's a live body, it's part of the Iraqi defense force."This is so goddamned pathetic--calling little league ballplayers "future major league champions" would make more sense. The Independent has more details:

Training of Iraq's security forces, crucial to any exit strategy for Britain and the US, is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures for the number of combat-ready indigenous troops, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

Instead, only figures for troops "on hand" are issued. The small number of soldiers, national guardsmen and police capable of operating against the country's bloody insurgency is concealed in an overall total of Iraqis in uniform, which includes raw recruits and police who have gone on duty after as little as three weeks' training. In some cases they have no weapons, body armour or even documents to show they are in the police...

David Isenberg, an analyst at the British and American Security Council, said "disaster is too polite a word" for efforts to train Iraqi forces. "We are not being honest about the numbers," he added. "We have no consensus about who has been trained, about who we are talking about."...

The Iraqi police force is considered the biggest failure, being poorly equipped and trained. US officials also say that tens of thousands of Iraqis are claiming police salaries but are not working, and nearly half of the force has been sent for further training.

A police colonel told the IoS: "I keep on hearing that we have been trained and we have been given the arms necessary by the Americans. But I seem to have missed all that. We have had people sent here who I would not trust at all. I have discovered that the Americans have made no checks on these men. Do you wonder why police stations and army barracks get blown up?"

Coupled with this farce is the fact that the new interim government will be dominated by the Sistani faction with probable assistance from Kurdish elements--that is, we're likely to see both a distinctive tilt towards Iranian style government AND increased Kurdish autonomy, both of which are failures from a US policy point of view. US soldiers and Iraqi civilians will continue to die, although media coverage of the former will abate (who will want to report on the deaths of US soldiers in furtherance of theocracy?), and coverage of the latter will remain almost nonexistent.

Oh, and on the other side of the aisle, John Kerry demonstrated, as James Doolittle points out, why he lost the election:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry, whose baffling explanation of votes on Iraq war funding hurt his 2004 White House bid, said on Tuesday he would back President Bush's new $81.9 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think we're in a very different situation," Kerry told reporters. "I'm going to vote for this ... I think this money is important to our being successful and to the completion of the process."

Wanker. Twenty years in the Senate apparently has turned his brain to mush. The war is over--and the U.S. LOST. No amount of grandstanding, bloviating, cheerleading, or anything else will change this. It's OVER. Iraqis have made it resoundingly clear that they want us OUT: insurgents are giving EIGHT divisions all they can handle, the "vote," as weird as it was, will install a government that wants a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces, revelations that resupply is now as often as not handled by air drop underscores the point that we don't control the roads, the level of lawlessness in cities is frightening and the occupation forces can do NOTHING to stop it--and Kerry, of all people, thinks it can be turned around? Somebody might want to let the Kerry family know that their patriarch has misplaced his spine.
War is Hell

The Editors at The Poor Man fill in all the details, including the little known fact that the 101st Fighting Keyboarders' symbol is the Pillsbury Doughboy. hard work.
Missile Test Fails, Bush Hails "Great Success"

President Bush announced that yesterday's missile defense test failure was a "tremendous success, one which we look forward to repeating."

"My fellow Americans," an upbeat Bush said while speaking before a crowd of handpicked, carefully vetted supporters, "I have nothing but faith and confidence in the capability of the inteceptor," he continued, emphasizing each syllable in "inteceptor," as if he were afraid he might misprounounce it.

Mr. Bush then concluded with "Missile defense is a threat...I mean, it is a vital component of our national security strategy, now and into the future," while the adoring crowd cheered and genuflected in his direction.

OK, so I made that up...the article actually says:

Military technicians say they believe the failure of the $85 million test was caused by a problem with ground support equipment, not with the interceptor missile itself. A preliminary assessment indicated that the fault had occurred in the concrete underground silo, where a variety of sensors perform safety and environmental monitoring.

The interceptor, located at the Ronald Reagan Test Site (italics mine) at Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, was supposed to target a mock ballistic missile fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The target missile went off as scheduled at 9:22 p.m. Alaska time Sunday, but the interceptor failed to launch.

I'll give them credit--calling it the Ronald Raygun Test Site is perhaps the most fitting tribute we can pay to the former COIC. An installation that will be obscenely expensive and doesn't work. Hey, that's Ron to a T.

And, given the results--three flat out failures that I'm aware of, and probably more that they haven't announced, I wouldn't be the least surprised if the inteceptor missile itself was nominated for a high level cabinet position in the administration.

Yeah, THE Atrios already linked to it (and yeah, that's where I saw it first), but this is too good--the laff of the day, from The Poor Man:

Think about it: what are the chances that a media whore like Gannon would turn out to be an actual whore? It's impossible. It boggles the mind how infinitely unlikely this is. It's like if you found someone pirating CDs, and it turns out he actually had a peg leg and a parrot on his shoulder and sailed around the Caribbean saying "arrrrrr!" and plundering booty. You wouldn't believe it. But there it is: impossible, but true. Impossible truths are miracles, and only God can work miracles. Ergo, God exists. Q.E.D.

The rest of the story is that God's metaphors are about as subtle as a David Byrne art concept or, equivalently, getting clocked on the head with a cinderblock. Yeah, "whore". It's a "big suit", David. We get it already. I think brainless plankton on Neptune get the symbolism here. Jesus.

Monday, February 14, 2005

With Friends Like This...

Glad I decided to take a quick look at C-Span reruns. Just before turning in, I decided to glance at the Iraqi Reconstruction Funds Mismanagement Hearings... Reuters ran with the money story for the most part (linked to below) but I just heard this. Interesting:

Alan Grayson, an attorney who represents people hoping to get a share of reward money as they file under the U.S. False Claims Act, testified that a former FBI agent was recruited by an American subcontractor in Iraq, but walked out when he was asked to inflate charges for time and materials.

Grayson said the man 'refused twice and said, 'You all are going to prison.'

'The second time he was held at gunpoint in Baghdad, stripped of his weapons and security identification and then was released, defenseless, on the streets of Baghdad,' Grayson said. 'I'm talking about Americans holding guns on Americans.'

Grayson went on to say that the man managed to make it out of the country (via Fallujah). Probably took a few greenbacks. But still--it speaks volumes. At this point, Americans are turning on each other...

Sorry for such a late start, but another busy day at work kept me from hitting the internets for most of the day--and a special on shrimp at the local grocery store will keep me a tad busy this evening (well, it's frozen, but peeled--and at 5 bucks a pound, I'm not complaining. Time for a good shrimp curry).

Prowling around, I noticed that America Blog discovered Jeff Gannon is more than just a media whore (graphic content for those who go look). Hmmm. So, now we have the spectacle of the "family values" party embracing dope fiends AND sex workers...the irony is just too much. Next thing you know, Tom Delay will proudly announce he's a card carrying member of the ACLU.

I love watching all these folks who, as Atrios noted a couple of days ago, had no trouble with the Starr Report suddenly all a titter with the left noting the hypocris...IIRC, Guckert issued a challenge, not at all unlike "bring 'em on." Well, it was brought on, alright.

On that note, our $300 billion dollar investment in Iraq has brought on Iran lite in Mesopotamia, although the Gray Lady is doing its best to declaim that the chicken shit really--no, really--has a tinge of chicken salad aftertaste. That ought to be worth another $82 billion in off-book spending, according to the cabal occupying the White House--no doubt to be bundled into wads of $100 dollar bills and passed around like hush money.

By the way--Riverbend has a few things to say about the rise of fundamentalist Islam and associated mores--as usual, she's worth reading carefully.

Violence erupted in Lebanon, and while this can't be specifically tied to the Bush administration, I think one can say that the overall Bush policy in the Middle East, which embraces violence, helps set the stage for this kind of thing, i.e., violence begets violence. Wonderful. Just when it's critical that cool heads prevail, the "leader" of the free world displays all the signs of adult ADD and a childlike fascination with implements of war. That'll send a message.

Oh, and while I didn't note them this weekend--mostly I was trying to get over a cold that was the major thing I caught at Mardi Gras--I took a long look at this post from Hullabaloo, which links to a very informative New Yorker article about "extraordinary rendition." That sterile sounding phrase is the polite way of saying "send 'em to Egypt, send them to Syria--but wait till I'm outta the room." Contract torture--easy to get used to if you're Abu Gonzales. Digby's post AND the article are worth a long look.

Finally, I actually did try to note this morning a post I saw at Crawling Westward and the Advocate article Timshel linked to by Adam Nossiter that has enough irony to short circuit a major substation, but work had to be done. Short version: farmers in Louisiana, who voted red in large numbers, are feeling blue about the decision by Bush to make massive cuts in agricultural subsidies. However, they still support their dear leader...

I don't quite know how to react to stories like this--there's a certain part of me that looks at sees the dog who continues to get excited at the sight of their owner, even when there's no doubt the owner only wants to beat the shit of them--again. Yet, in a strange way, I can appreciate the values held by these folks, even the notion that "everyone must sacrifice a little," be it for the cause of patriotism, or god, or whatever. The Democrats need to appeal to these folks (something the DLC did a TERRIBLE job of doing)--and, it might not be as difficult as you'd expect. The Dems don't need to abandon the idea of tolerance or diversity to be successful--but they DO need to take it to the GOP, particularly THEIR leadership, and point out THEIR hypocrisy while at the same time taking steps to ensure that, say, rural lifestyles will be a bit more than fodder for a reality show starring a hotel heiress. Democrats need to stop apologizing, and start attacking. Which is why, to complete the circle, pointing out Gannon's bizarre dualisms is fair game. So is noting that Rush Limbaugh is more than just a big fat idiot--he's a big fat drug addict, too. And it's sickening that Abu Gonzales can't flat out say that torture is wrong (and stupid, as anyone who knows anything about interrogation knows).

If the Democrats began to show some spine, I think the GOP would literally implode.