Friday, August 12, 2005

Rosa Parks--A Wingnuttia Interpretation

King of Zembla calls this--deservingly--the post of the day:

What Fox News Channel Would Have Done to Rosa Parks

Cindy Sheehan – in case you’ve been living in a box or you only watch the mainstream media – is the mom of slain Iraq War veteran Casey Sheehan. She is protesting in front of George Bush’s Crawford ranch this month. This grieving mom has been characterized as a flip-flopper, accused of putting on a public circus, lambasted as a publicity seeking grandstander and criticized for not truly speaking for her family since an aunt and a godmother Matt Drudge found somewhere in the Sheehan family disagrees with her. The conservative attack machine is in high gear in the efforts to tear this woman down.

That made me think of how it would have been in the Civil Rights era if Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge and the rest of the gang were around back then.

O’Reilly: “Rosa Parks claims she speaks for all of the African-Americans in the South, but in fact, we have found two African-Americans who say they disagree with her. They say she’s just trying to gain publicity and doesn’t speak for anyone in her race. They would know, they’re black.”

Check out the rest.
Faith Based Environmental Policy

From Needlenose. Surprisingly, this isn't a Shrub initiative, but the reality in Malaysia, where forest fires from neighboring Indonesia are literally choking the locals:

PORT KLANG, Malaysia/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Malaysians prayed for rain on Friday and a quick end to the country's worst pollution crisis in eight years as residents choked on acrid forest-fire smoke blowing in from neighboring Indonesia.

As the call to prayers echoed from mosques around the mainly Muslim country, the premier called for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus to seek divine intervention to wash the skies of a week-long haze that has threatened public health.

Speaking of possible environmental damage--but more of a long term variety--here's a sobering article from the Guardian:

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.
Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

Great...a worst case scenario means the only thing you can do is pray that the ensuing catastrophe somehow is survivable. Of course, the mouth-breathers don't seem to mind, given their belief that eternal reward awaits them...too bad their grandkids are the one who will pay the price.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Tbogg sums it up: What happens in our torture chambers stays in our torture chambers:

Senior Pentagon officials have opposed the release of photographs and videotapes of the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, arguing that they would incite public opinion in the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and officials at risk, according to documents unsealed in federal court in New York.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement put forth to support the Pentagon's case that he believed that "riots, violence and attacks by insurgents will result" if the images were released.

The papers were filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan in an ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain under the Freedom of Information Act the release of 87 photos and four videotapes taken at Abu Ghraib. The photos were among those turned over to Army investigators last year by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, a reservist who was posted at Abu Ghraib.

In other words, I'll bet the pictures and videos aren't all that pretty.

What's surprising is that anyone would BE surprised that abuses would occur. War is, above all, a breakdown of social order. Some are given outrageous amounts of power, usually the byproduct of having lots of weapons and strategic or tactical advantage...and anyone unfamiliar, i.e., the entire population in Iraq, has the potential to be labeled "enemy," and therefore unworthy of rights (that is, if they are even deemed human, as opposed to charming terms like 'alibaba' or 'gook'). "Our soldiers" are no better or worse than soldiers throughout history, and history demonstrates over and over again that such things happen with astonishing regularity in times of war.

Perhaps the only real difference is the evidence...people engaging in such activities usually don't capture it on film, tape, or electronically...for reasons that should seem pretty obvious at this point.

I won't apologize for anyone committing abuses, but once again, the real blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of those who insisted that Iraq needed to be invaded, and invaded on their terms. They STILL don't have any rational justification for this war-of-choice, and the consequences of the war are as much their responsibility as they are of anyone ordered over there in the first place.
Shouldn't He be Riding a Short Bus?

The "rangers" and "pioneers" engage in a little shrub worshipping:

Some 230 people attended the fund-raiser at Stan and Kathy Hickey's Broken Spoke Ranch, a 478-acre spread next to Bush's ranch. All have contributed at least $25,000 to the RNC, and many are "rangers," an honorary campaign title bestowed on those who raised $200,000 or more for Bush, or "pioneers," those who have raised $100,000 or more.

The fundraiser collected more than $2 million dollars for a cashed-strapped organization known as the Rethuglican National Committee...

Bush rode over in a chauffered black Suburban (EPA ratings average out for the various flavors of this SUV at about 15 m.p.g.):

From the window of his limousine, President Bush got a motorcade view of more than 100 anti-war protesters camped outside his ranch as he rode to a political fund-raiser today near his spread. Bush did not stop.

Law enforcement agencies used their cars to block two intersecting roads, where the demonstrators have camped out all week, and required them to stand behind yellow tape. They were not asked to leave their makeshift campsite.

Cindy Sheehan, a California mother leading the protesters, held a sign that read: "Why do you make time for donors and not for me?"

Welcome to the "new" of portable Green Zones.
More Wolcott, Please

Billmon is taking a break, but fortunately Wolcott has been prolific enough to pick up the slack this week--here's a sample of his latest:

Roger L. Simon I don't consider a liberal hawk. Because he isn't. He isn't much of a liberal of any kind.

Instead, he typifies a subset of bloggers who day-in, day-out bash the UN (particularly over the "oil-for-food" scandal") while saying damn near nothing about the billions of reconstruction money lost or stolen in Iraq and the sweetheart deals for companies like, yes, Halliburton; who dump scorn regularly on the ACLU and minimize the brutalities at Abu Ghraib; who pull that "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left me" shtick (or its cousin, "When I was young, liberalism meant this [fill in blank with noble cause], and now it means this [fill in blank with outrage du jour]; who accuse those who don't share their righteous urgency of "not getting it" or having "a pre-9/11 mentality;" who trash Juan Cole but never make a peep about Daniel Pipes or David Horowitz; the sort of blogger who even at this late date kvetches that the MSM is withholding the "good news" about Iraq...well, you get the idea.

Totten and compadres seem to think that I consider anyone who simply voted for Bush as morally culpable for everything Bush has done since on the foreign and domestic fronts. But I made it clear that I was referring specifically to bloggers who support Bush's War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq, bloggers who slant conservative Republican in the overwhelming of majority of their posts and--

--and then at irregular intervals rhetorically wag their hands to say, Hey, don't pin a label on me, I support a woman's right to choose, or gay marriage, or decriminalization of drugs, etc.

As if that absolves you for vigorously championing an immoral war based on lies, supervised by a leadership class corrupted by ideological cowards and incompetents. Even if the War on Terror is the only policy of Bush's you passionately supported and still stoutly defend, you fucked up bigtime. Because, because leaving aside the ghastly loss of lives, the wrecking of our military, and the destruction of so much of Iraq's past and present, the true beneficiary of the war has been one of Iraq's neighbors. As the Juan Cole you relish despising recently declared, "The Iraq war is over, and the winner is...Iran."

Exactly. Those at the top of the slag heap--and their minions down here at my level--make a big show about their supposed "patriotic" values, when in fact they might as well be paid agents of the mullahs and the same vein, I'll guess most folks stopping by are likewise aware that certain types of "christians" should have the label unceremoniously stripped from them, a la old time military discipline/dedmotion, for reasons so patently obvious that they need not be repeated here.

I just wish the Democratic party would pick up on both the style of Wolcott's post AND the substance--as to the former, here's a decent enough example, courtesy of the State party in New York--but as to the latter, Democrats keep dropping the ball...

I mean, this one is a no brainer: the American public TRADITIONALLY is wary of foreign entanglements. The war in Iraq--an idiotic, open-ended, discretionary conflict which offers NOTHING to this country, even IF we could somehow miraculously come away with, say, a small defeat as opposed to Dubya's biggest hangover (well, sort of his hangover--he gets the booze-like rush, WE deal with the headache come morning)--anyway, in Iraq, it's obvious to all except the intellectual equivalent of pocket lint that Bush has fucked up badly. Yet, the Democratic leadership refuses to take this and run with it. I just don't get it...

Cindy Sheehan--a citizen of this country, nothing more (albeit a citizen who, unlike most of wingnuttia, is well aware of what the term "sacrifice" means), is doing a bit more than truly honoring the memory of her son--she's showing how to OPPOSE an administration that's spent the last four years spitting on the concept of democracy. Yesterday, Arbusto-loco was forced to acknowledge Ms. Sheehan's presence (even if he considered her unworthy to gaze upon his visage). The Democratic party leadership could learn a lot from that.

And, as for wingnuttia--don't even TRY to deflect blame on this one--your foolishness, your hubris, and your idiocy has weakened the country, killed almost 2000 US military personnel, and STRENGTHENED Iran (thanks, dingbats). The Democratic party leadership might not be ready to nail y'all on that--but I think the public is getting sick and tired of the ever widening disconnect between Team Bush...and reality.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Easy for Him to Say--But Still Wrong

His Shrubness deigned to utter a word or two about Cindy Sheehan today, while insisting that his "policy" in Iraq, which as best as I can discern consists awarding fat-cat, cost-plus contracts to his cronies while other people--like Casey Sheehan--are killed with grim regularity--is the right thing to do:

Bush said he had "heard the voices of those saying, 'Pull out now.'" And he said, "I've thought about their cry and their sincere desire to reduce the loss of life by pulling our troops out. I just strongly disagree."

"Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy," the president told reporters between meetings with his military and foreign affairs advisers.

Outside his sprawling ranch, California mother Cindy Sheehan sat on the road with a growing group of war protesters who have pitched tents in shallow ditches. Sheehan's son, Casey, was killed five days after he arrived in Iraq last year at age 24.

It's awfully easy to argue in favor of "staying the course," when you and yours aren't doing the dying. More important, there's not a shred of evidence that maintaining the US presence is somehow convincing "the terrorists" of anything, except perhaps the extreme stupidity of the administration. Instead of showing leadership, they opt for cheerleadership--without taking into account the costs of their ugly little war. Like the cost paid by CASEY Sheehan, Mr. President--one of the 1,840 (and counting) killed.

You should remember at least ONE of their names--after all, you're the one who sent them off to die.
The Jerk

Kudos to Dolores Kesterson, who refused to be a prop for Bill O'Reilly:

Then O'Reilly introduced Dolores Kesterton who did not bend or back down throughout the interview. Her son Eric died in Iraq and had been an unwavering supporter of the administration. Kesterson claimed that she had been against going into Iraq because she believed we should have finished the job in Afghanistan.Although O'Reilly tried to intimidate her into saying that Eric had died for a noble cause, Dolores would not give an inch.

Kesterson went on to describe the meeting she had with Bush after her son's death. She requested time alone with him and was granted three minutes in a tiny cubicle. According to Kesterson, Bush marched in and "was in my face."

"I'm George Bush, President of the United States and I understand that you have something to say to me in private."

Kesterson was not impressed with the meeting claiming that Bush did not seem to care.

At this point O'Reilly decided to use the lecture/soliloquy technique.
Using his fatherly tone he told Dolores that he respected her opinion but didn't want to see her used like Cindy Sheehan.

"I think Cindy Sheehan is being used by far left elements who object to our way of life. Everyone knows. Hillary Clinton knows..."

Kesterson firmly objected to the notion of being used and O'Reilly started to get steamed attacking Michael Moore and the Fenton Group who writes Cindy's press releases. Fenton Communications is a very well established PR firm and O'Reilly's attack on them was nonsense.

Then he peppered her with a string of bizarre questions.

"Do you believe that we're a bad country and evil country?"
"Do you have Michael Moore's view of the U.S.?"
"If you had to choose, would you go with President Bush or Michael Moore?"

Dolores Kesterson without a moments hestitation gave her answer.
" Michael Moore has not killed thousands."

O'Reilly has been awful enough this week, going out of his way to throw dirt clods at Cindy Sheehan (with some help from fellow travelers from Planet Wingnuttia--for those who have a high speed internet connection, Crooks and Liars has several streaming videos)--and he apparently thought Kesterson would be a willing foil...or at least an easily cowed guest.

She was neither--instead, Ms. Kesterson showed remarkable courage and fortitude. In contrast, O'Reilly came across as even more patronizing than usual.

Dolores Kesterson is truly a patriotic American. Bill O'Reilly is sad sack of shit.
Get Your Kicks With Crude at 66

Let's $2.50 cents per gallon of gasoline--and, oh, a 40 gallon tank--a fill up will cost an even $100 dollars...

And then, if you live up north, you've got the heating bill to contend with...

However, the silver lining to this cloud is that the Gret Stet, at least, should collect plenty of revenue. For that matter, Needlenose noted that a certain South American populist likewise will be flush with cash, which, if invested wisely, could make for dramatic improvements in living standards for Venezuelans.

Of course, there's an additional cloud to this silver lining; namely, that money will also flow to areas that have a high concentration of people who aren't exactly friendly to the United States. In other words, the cost of driving around in SUVs includes payments to those who want to kill Americans.

Hummer--10 Miles to the Gallon. 2 Soldiers a day (that is, on a good day--sometimes, it's worse).
Rush Dumbaugh

Think Progress points out that EIB's latest smug, flatulent bellowing about ratings points is a bit off the mark:

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh, through his radio syndicator Premiere Radio Networks, sent out a press release titled “Limbaugh Leads the Race Against Liberal Talkers,” purportedly comparing his ratings to those of progressive talk stations.

The release lists ratings info for five cities — Austin, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Memphis — for Spring 2005 (March 31 to June 22). In two of those cities, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the stations that Rush claims he “defeated” didn’t switch to the progressive talk format until July 2005 — after the ratings period in question ended. Two of the other comparisons are also misleading. Rush claims to have won the ratings battle in Austin — but the progressive alternative is a low-watt station that broadcasts not out of Austin, but 20 miles away in bustling Pflugersville, Texas. The same is true of Rush’s performance in San Antonio, where the weaker progressive talk station is actually based in suburban Devine, Texas.

As for me, I didn't even KNOW there was an AM radio station at 1380 on the dial--until a friend alerted me to one of Air America's newest it's programmed into both my car AND home radios. And I'll look for the NOLA station the next time I hit the Crescent City.

So, Rush--take a pill and get over it (and we all know what kind of pill).
Operation What Cause?

Four more US soldiers and one Marine were killed over there, while Nero fiddles Bush "vacations" and avoids uncomfortable situations (even if his minions show a degree of pure crass that's appalling even by Texass standards).

The other day I pointed to Angry Arab's simple question re: Iraq--"what is the mission?"--and, to date, I don't think anyone has managed to deliver a satisfactory answer. It's obvious, for instance, to all but the most deluded, that Iraq will NOT be democratic in any Western sense of the term. That's not a reflection on Middle Easterners, or Arabs, or whoever--it's simply a matter of examining the conditions on the ground. Hell, I'd bet that a sizable portion of "realistic" conservatives (i.e., Kissinger) would happily rehabilitate Saddam Hussein himself if, as a result, Iraq was somehow stabilized.

The WMD canard, as the neo cons themselves admit, was pablum for the masses. Subbsequent "justifications" for war show equal contempt for the public.

And, while Mesopotamia seethes, this country has truly gone off the deep end, with torture not merely being tolerated, but out and out celebrated. As noted above, significant numbers of wingnuts people go out of their way to attack the mother of a slain soldier, because she insists on getting some answers from...a president, i.e., NOT a king, or tribal chief...a president--that is to say, a PUBLIC SERVANT. Conservatives, supposedly the champions of free markets and limited government, hand out no-bid contracts in the billions of dollars while passing legislation to dramatically increase the Federal Government's power.

For what?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lower than Nixon

William Rivers Pitt also has a few things to say about Cindy Sheehan's vigil-in-a-ditch-down-the-road-from-the-ranch:

No mother who lost her son to this Iraq war should be made to stand in a ditch, and yet that is exactly where Cindy Sheehan stands today, by the side of the road in Crawford, Texas. She has been standing there since she heard about the 20 Marines who were killed in Iraq last week, since she heard George W. Bush describe from his vacation home the noble cause for which those Marines died.

Cindy's son, Casey, died in Iraq for that cause more than a year ago. She heard those words from Mr. Bush and went to Crawford. She wanted to talk to the president. The folks in the ranch sent out a couple of lackeys to speak with her. "They were very respectful," Sheehan said later to CNN. "They were nice men. I told them Iraq was not a threat to the United States and that now people are dead for nothing. I told them I wouldn't leave until I talked to George Bush. I want to ask the president, 'Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?' Last week, he said my son died for a 'noble cause' and I want to ask him what that noble cause is."

Today, she is standing in a ditch by the side of the road in Crawford, waiting to speak to Mr. Bush. Many who hear this may have the obvious reaction: Who does this woman think she is? Who thinks they can just bop down the road and speak to the president? This is an important man, and there are security concerns, and anyway, who thinks they can just show up for a sit-down like this?

Well, Sheehan did get an invitation of sorts. A presidential spokesman described Bush's time in Crawford (approximately five weeks, or about as much vacation time as the average Frenchman gets) as a chance for him to "shed his coat and tie and meet with folks in the heartland and hear what's on their minds." Sure, this administration has raised secrecy and isolation to a zen-like art form, but it sounded pretty clearly like George goes to Texas to talk to the folks. Cindy Sheehan would like to talk...

The Nixon and Bush administrations share a number of fascinating similarities. Both inspired stunning vituperation from those who opposed them. Hunter S. Thompson, avowed life-long foe of Nixon, remembered him this way: "Let there be no mistake in the history books about that. Richard Nixon was an evil man - evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it. He was utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency. Nobody trusted him - except maybe the Stalinist Chinese, and honest historians will remember him mainly as a rat who kept scrambling to get back on the ship."...

Nixon and his people were obsessed with secrecy and with dirty tricks. The boys in the Bush White House share the sentiment, and have managed to surpass the Nixonian standards. Nixon wanted to destroy his critics. Bush and his people have actually destroyed more than a few, including a deep-cover CIA operative married to a man who attacked Bush's Iraq policy in print.

Both were dogged by protesters wherever they went, yet here is the point at which the similarities diverge. Bush has the benefit of First Amendment Zones, which keep demonstrations far away, out of sight and out of mind. He would just as soon flush himself down a toilet as speak to someone critical of his actions. More than any other administration in recent memory, this Bush crew represents the triumph of the Yes-Men. Bush is in his bubble, managed and spun, and nothing gets through.

Nixon, on the other hand, went a different way one interesting and significant night. In May of 1970, right after the Kent State shootings, when civil unrest across the nation had reached a fever pitch and opposition to the war had roared again to the forefront, Nixon woke his personal valet in the middle of the night. He grabbed a few Secret Service agents and set off for the Lincoln Memorial. There, he spent an hour talking with a large gathering of war protesters encamped around the monument.

The Time Magazine article from May 18, 1970, recalls the scene this way: "When the conversation turned to the war, Nixon told the students: 'I know you think we are a bunch of so and so's.'" Before he left, Nixon said: 'I know you want to get the war over. Sure you came here to demonstrate and shout your slogans on the ellipse. That's all right. Just keep it peaceful. Have a good time in Washington, and don't go away bitter.' The singular odyssey went on. Nixon and his small contingent wandered through the capital, then drove to the Mayflower Hotel for a breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs - his first restaurant meal in Washington since he assumed power. Then he withdrew to his study in the Executive Office Building to sit out the day of protest."

There will be a large anti-war protest in Washington DC on September 24th. Is it even conceivable that George W. Bush might remove himself from the White House that day to speak with the people who disagree with his leadership? The idea is laughable on its face.

Cindy Sheehan is not in a large crowd in Washington DC. She is not camped on the Lincoln Memorial. She waits for Mr. Bush in a ditch by the side of the road in Crawford, arguably the safest and most comfortable spot in America for this self-styled cowboy. Yet he does not emerge to speak to this woman who lost her son to his war. Somehow, it seems a safe bet that not even Richard Nixon would keep this woman waiting.
Designated Rude

I don't know if this really counts as 'proudly lowering the level of political discourse:'

Let us ponder for a moment the sensibility of a man, our President, who refuses to give Cindy Sheehan the time of day. Trent Duffy, speaking to the sweaty press in Crawford, declared that Bush met with her in July 2004, "and he was glad to meet with her at that time," as if Cindy Sheehan had her one shot and the President doesn't need to give the time of day to her anymore. Maybe if she donated $100,000 to the Republican National Committee, he'd find some more time.

Public relations-wise, this is an easy one, isn't it? If you're the President, you meet with Sheehan. You invite her in. You give her some lemonade. You listen. You say you're sorry. And then you let her go back out. PR problem over, no? Fuck, while she's talkin', you can have monkeys dancin' in your head. But doesn't this seem like a no-brainer?

Unless, of course, you don't give a shit. Unless, of course, you think of yourself as unquestionably right and, frankly, you couldn't give a happy monkey fuck what the opposition says. And, of course, Bush doesn't.

So often symbols of protest are created by the power of the opposition. Right now, Bush is making Cindy Sheehan into a more powerful figure than he could ever imagine. Than he could ever wish for himself. In the end, if Sheehan indeed becomes a new Rosa Parks, then, like the war itself, the President will only have himself to blame.
Rules and Regulations

WaterTiger's take is as good as any I've seen:

Let me get this straight.

A 4-star Army general is relieved of command because he had an extramarital affair with a civilian...

and Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, a 3-star general, whose domain included the running of Abu Ghraib, is probably going to get a Preznitial Medal of Freedumb?

Wow. Just wow.
Um, That's Actually PFC Lawson

Well, I guess if you're going to put on a show, you might as well go all out:

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (AP) -- William Lawson looked every bit the retired Marine general this summer as he stood before a crowd of 200 people, demanding that a cemetery properly dispose of the American flags placed at the graves of veterans.

He had on khakis, the Marines' summer service uniform, complete with a general's stars and row after row of medals, including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal. He even wore an eye patch.

It turns out, however, that Lawson wasn't a general at all -- or even a World War II combat veteran. His 19 months in the Marines were all spent stateside -- he ended boot camp after Iwo Jima -- and he never rose above the rank of private first class.

Lawson, 78, admitted the charade after being confronted with his records in interviews with The Marine Corps Times and The (Shreveport, Louisiana) Times. The media checks occurred after Lawson appeared at the flag rally in late June.

"It's something that snowballed," he said in stories that appeared in both newspapers this week.

Lawson did not answer his home telephone Monday when called by The Associated Press.

The Marine Corps Times said Lawson could face federal charges for wearing unearned medals and false rank insignia, and the Marine Corps inspector general is investigating.

Actually, I think the real problem for PFC (ret.) Lawson is simply a matter of who he was pretending to be:

Federal prosecutors will not charge a White House volunteer for allegedly impersonating a Secret Service agent at a Denver speech by President George W. Bush.

The volunteer forcibly ejected three people from the event on March 21 because they arrived in a car bearing a bumper sticker that read: No-more-blood-for-oil.

The three spectators -- Democrats who have been asking the Secret Service to investigate the matter -- said they were taken aside by an event staff member and told a Secret Service agent wanted to see them. They said the man who eventually did eject them dressed and behaved like an agent and threatened to arrest them if they misbehaved -- but never said he was Secret Service.

Prosecutors disclosed their decision not to press charges in a letter to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and two Democratic members of the state's House delegation, the Rocky Mountain News reported Thursday.

The letter offered no explanation for the decision, and did not name the alleged impersonator because he was not charged. The complainants have been demanding to know the man's name so they can sue him on free speech grounds, the newspaper said.

Private Lawson--don't you know that Team Bush HATES the military?
Good Morning, This is Your Wake Up Coup

Busy morning here...anyway, took a look at the paper of record and saw what amounts to the understatement of the week, if not the year:

For his part, [Alaa al-Tamimi, newly deposed Mayor of Baghdad] said, he had lost the sense of enthusiasm that had brought him back to Iraq after nearly a decade in exile.

No Shiite.

In continuing violence, the United States military announced today that four American soldiers were killed on Tuesday and six others were wounded when insurgents attacked a patrol near Baiji in northern Iraq. Two Iraqi policemen and four civilians were killed in a suicide car bombing today in western Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said.

The deposed mayor...who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.

"This is the new Iraq," said Mr. Tamimi, a secular engineer with no party affiliation. "They use force to achieve their goal."

The group that ousted him insisted that it had the authority to assume control of Iraq's capital city and that Mr. Tamimi was in no danger. The man the group installed, Hussein al-Tahaan, is a member of the Badr Organization, the armed militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, known as Sciri.

The militia has been credited with keeping the peace in heavily Shiite areas in southern Iraq but also accused of abuses like forcing women to wear the veils demanded by conservative Shiite religious law.

"If we wanted to do something bad to him, we would have done that," said Mazen A. Makkia, the elected city council chief who led the ouster on Monday and who had been in a lengthy and unresolved legal feud with Mr. Tamimi.

"We really want to establish the state of law for every citizen, and we did not threaten anyone," Mr. Makkia said. "This is not a coup."

Mr. Makkia confirmed that he had entered the building with armed men but said that they were bodyguards for him and several other council members who accompanied him. Witnesses estimated that the number of armed men ranged from 50 to 120. Mr. Makkia is a member of a Shiite political party that swept to victory during the across-the-board Shiite successes during January's elections.

I guess this is yet more evidence that the "last throes" of the insurgency is the violent version of "throe," although this article might call the use of such terms into question:

If the US Army and its Iraqi allies are killing as many insurgents as reports indicate they are per month, why is the insurgency intensifying instead of collapsing?

The Bush administration has been extremely reluctant to comply with the requests of a Congress controlled by its own party and issue detailed figures, or "benchmarks" on progress in combating the insurgency. But a study of the best figures and estimates available publicly suggests that the level of attrition reported and widely believed to be inflicted on the insurgents is in reality a lot less than the figures indicate.

For if the figures widely quoted are accurate, then the insurgency should be either collapsing already or, at the very least, shrinking dramatically in its resources and capabilities as its combat units and intelligence networks should have been suffering unsustainable attrition...

If the figures for the past three months are accurate, the insurgents have been losing 10 percent of their real strength per month, or almost one third in only three months, but the continued rise in the number of casualties they are inflicting on US and allied Iraqi forces strongly suggests that, on the contrary, they are maintaining their strength or even extending it: That view, incidentally is also held by several US Army analysts who have spoken on condition of anonymity to UPI.

Therefore, either the US estimates of casualties inflicted on the insurgents are vastly inflated, or the insurgents are able to recruit within Iraq at a level that at the very least keeps track with their losses, and even if they are losing large numbers of experienced, highly trained cadres, they are able to replace them almost immediately with no discernible strain on their ability to sustain their current level of operations.

The latter explanation, while possible, appears unlikely. It is not hard for any insurgency to replace activists lost in attacks very easily and quickly in terms of absolute numbers. But the loss of combat veterans and leaders cannot be replaced overnight...

Therefore, either many of those being killed and detained are not insurgents at all or, far more likely, they are indeed, but in general they are just foot soldiers being scooped up.

Most alarmingly of all, the figures suggest that the insurgency is able to operate and organize among a far wider cross section of the Sunni Muslim minority in Iraq than the widely quoted estimates have suggested, and that it enjoys a far broader popular support base in the Sunni community This, in fact, is the conclusion reached by several US military analysts, speaking on condition of anonymity to UPI.

It appears, therefore, that the figures quoted are as accurate and reliable as it is possible for them to be in such a situation. But it is the conclusions to be drawn from them that make the grimmest reading.

And, how is Team Bush reacting to this latest spell of news? Well, if this transcript is any indication, someone ought to prepare a rubber room for SecDef:

Some 60 years ago, with the war in Europe turning against them, Hitler's forces faced defeat, and in desperation, the Nazi regime carried out some of the most indiscriminate acts of violence that had been seen during the war. With allied forces closing in on Berlin, Hitler ordered destruction of German infrastructure, and sent Germans, even very young children, Germans, out to face almost certain death as soldiers. If Germans were no longer willing to shed their own blood to ensure their right to survival, Hitler said, they deserved to die. The world saw in these acts the true nature of totalitarianism and its capacity for self-annihilation...

One additional note. Every year since September 11th attacks, Americans have commemorated that anniversary. This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports You Freedom Walk. The walk will begin at the Pentagon and end at the National Mall. It will include many of the major monuments in Washington, D.C. reminding participants of the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation that has so successfully defended our freedoms. Freedom Walk participants will be invited to a special performance by country singer Clint Black. And more information about this event will be on the Department of Defense website,

Rant 'n shill...although, if you can stand it, check out the entire link or look for the streaming video from C-Span, because words can't describe the level of disconnect evident in Rummy and Dick--Myers, that is.

Iraq is falling apart before our eyes, and the best they can come up with is...a parade.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Now Playing

Well, it'd be nice if they did manage to get this on cable TV, as Dennis Doros, who co-owns the rights--with his wife, Amy Heller--to Winter Soldier, says:

Like a live hand grenade brought home from a distant battlefield, the 34-year-old antiwar documentary "Winter Soldier" has been handled for decades as if it could explode at any moment.

Now, the 95-minute film - which has circulated like 16-millimeter samizdat on college campuses for decades but has never been accessible to a wide audience - is about to get its first significant theatrical release in the United States, beginning on Friday at the Film Society of Lincoln Center...

Its distributors say that the war in Iraq has made the Vietnam-era film as powerful as when it was new, and its filmmakers are calling it eerily prescient of national embarrassments like the torture at Abu Ghraib.

When it was made at a three-day gathering in 1971 of Vietnam veterans telling of the atrocities they had seen and committed, major news organizations sent reporters but published and broadcast next to nothing of what they filed - prompting the veterans to organize what would be a pivotal antiwar demonstration in Washington a few months later.

When the film was finished a year later, it was shown at the Cannes and Berlin film festivals, at theaters in France and England, and on German television. But in the United States, the television networks would not touch it, the film never found a distributor, and it disappeared for decades after playing a week at a single New York theater and a one-time airing on Channel 13...

The relevance of this grainy, ancient documentary comes from descriptions of abuse that could have been ripped from contemporary headlines, notwithstanding the changes in today's professional soldiers and their evolved, high-tech methods of warfare.

Listen, for instance, to the former Army interrogator as he describes using "clubs, rifle butts, pistols, knives" to extract information - "always monitored" by superiors or military police, he says - and recounts his superiors' overriding directive: "Don't get caught."

Or hear the former Marine captain, speaking of "standard operating prtocedure," describe how easily individual transgressions, overlooked by superiors, became de facto policy: "The general attitude of the officers was - I was a lieutenant at the time - 'Well, there's somebody senior to me here, and I guess if this wasn't S.O.P., he'd be doing something to stop it.' And since nobody senior ever did anything to stop it, the policy was promulgated, and everybody assumed that this was right."

Mr. Doros said he hoped the film would be shown on cable television, where anyone could see it, particularly today's troops and tomorrow's. "They should see that war isn't always what they imagine from movies and books and modern media," he said. "That the atrocities, the gore, the daily horror of bombs bursting out and bullets riddling your friends' bodies next to you, have been glossed over."

What gives "Winter Soldier" its power, he and Ms. Heller said, is not merely what is said on screen - accounts of Vietnamese women being raped or mutilated, children being shot, villages being burned, prisoners being thrown alive from helicopters - but who is saying it, and how they are shown.

It introduces us to Rusty Sachs, a handsome, curly-haired former Marine helicopter pilot, who recalls with an ironic smirk how his superiors instructed him not to "count prisoners when you're loading them on the aircraft - count them when you're unloading them," because, he says flatly, "the numbers may not jibe." He describes contests to see "how far they could throw the bound bodies out of the airplane."

And it introduces us to the gentle-sounding, Jesus-like Scott Camil, a former Marine scout and forward artillery observer, who in a whispery voice relates his personal journey from rah-rah patriot to trained killer to medal-winner to self-preservationist Angel of Death. "If I had to go into a village and kill 150 people just to make sure there was no one there to kill me when we walked out, that's what I did," he says.

Like other veterans, Mr. Camil - whose testimony at the Winter Soldier Investigation inspired Graham Nash's song "Oh, Camil!" - conveys how desensitized they became, and how dehumanized the Vietnamese became in their eyes. "Whoever had the most ears, they would get the most beers," he says of his comrades' corporeal trophies. "It became like a game."

What's the line about those who fail to remember the past? Something about how they're doomed to repeat it?
Why Read Blogs?

OK, I didn't post about this at the time, but Whiskey Bar did, citing the WaPo as the source:
A provision tucked into the 1,724-page energy bill that Congress is poised to enact today would ease export restrictions on bomb-grade uranium, a lucrative victory for a Canadian medical manufacturer and its well-wired Washington lobbyists.

The Burr Amendment -- named for its sponsor, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) -- would reverse a 13-year-old U.S. policy banning exports of weapons-grade uranium unless the recipients agree to start converting their reactors to use less-dangerous uranium . . .

The amendment is just one of dozens of obscure special-interest provisions included in the energy bill, which the House passed yesterday and the Senate is expected to pass today.

I learned a lot of things from that article -- not counting the almost unbelievable corruption and stupidity of your average Dixiepublican, which I already knew about.

I learned that weapons-grade uranium is the nuclear feedstock, so to speak, for a number of medical isotopes.

I learned that the companies that make those isotopes operate their own private reactors, using uranium purchased from the U.S. government.

And I learned that those reactors are not, repeat not, subject to the same security restrictions as government-owned megadeath factories:
By contrast, Nordion already has enough highly enriched uranium to make one or two Hiroshima-size bombs, and its factories do not have to meet the same security standards as Energy Department facilities.

Nordion is the Canadian company that purchased the export loophole in the energy bill -- which, under the circumstances, we might reasonably call the "Arm Osama Amendment."

Now I bow to no man in my love for my would-be adopted homeland and her proud commercial traditions, but the idea that a medical company in the Great White North has enough weapons-grade uranium to recreate the Manhattan Project is frankly terrifying. Think about it: the McKenzie brothers with nukes.

Well, the energy bill is law--Dubya signed the giveaway bill yesterday...and only now does "the newspaper of record," or, in Billmon's words, Pravda on the Hudson take note:

The new energy law weakens limits on exports of highly enriched uranium, a change opposed by people who fear the spread of nuclear weapons and by the top nonproliferation official at the Energy Department.

Feeling safer?

For the life of me, I can't figure out HOW Team Bush can, in any way whatsoever, be considered "strong" on terror...9/11? Asleep at the wheel. Osama bin Laden? Let him walk scot free out the back door. War in Iraq? Might as well be Al Qaeda's recruiter. And now this...

Oh, and by the way, the amendment to the bill, which set all this in motion, is called the Burr Amendment, named after the North Carolina senator who attached it...maybe he should consider the following:

Examples of radioactive material in the public domain
Greensboro, North Carolina (1998)
19 tubes of cesium is missing from a hospital and is never recovered. Unprotected contact with the tubes could have caused serious injury or even death.
A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

In the case of Christopher Hitchens, we could also add the Dan Quayle corollary, "A mind is a terrible thing to have. Or not to have a mind at all."

The gin soaked popinjay gave further indication that he's gone off the deep end with this ridiculous screed, nicely summarized by No More Mister Nice Blog as "If the Iraq war ultimately fails, it's American liberals' fault for not cleaning up the mess my hero George W. Bush made."

Snitch goes on to suggest that the answer in Iraq is as simple as large American cities twinning with Baghdad, followed by a spate of charitable giving. He goes on to note that his "serious anti-war friends" (does he have friends, as in plural, anymore?) reply that "to the effect that it's the job of the administration to allocate the money, so that there's little room or need for civic action."

Um, Christopher, regardless of what your "friends" think, the reality is that Iraq has turned into such a hellhole that the very suggestion that we're but a few goodwill gestures from making Iraq a model democracy is simply stupid--and more than a little pathetic.
Spot the Terrorist

Juan Cole points to this highly appropriate post from Bob Harris, that, complete with visual aids, demonstrates in no uncertain terms just exactly who George W. Bush--and the people who support him--think is a threat. Hint: it ain't Osama...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dragged Through the Drudge

Most of y'all stopping by have probably seen or read somewhere that Matt Drudge slithered out from whatever rock he was sheltering under to slime Cindy Sheehan. But there's A LOT MORE to the story than the selective tidbits wingnuttia wants you to hear. Needlenose linked to this:

So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.

But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally "detached from humanity" and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.

Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and "in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent," said: "Who we’all honorin’ here today?"...

"My daughter said to him directly ‘I wish I could bring my loved one back’ and he said something like ‘so do we.’ Later she told me that after he made his remark he gave her one of the filthiest looks she had ever had gotten in her life.

"I just couldn’t believe this was happening. It was so surreal and bizarre. Later I met with some of the other 15or 16 families who were at the White House the same day and, sure enough, they all felt the same way I did.

"It’s interesting that they put us each in separate rooms. I heard this was done to prevent any type of group outburst and since it’s easier to control a situation when people are separated. Looking back, all I can say is that the meeting with Bush was one of the most disgusting experiences in my life.

The entire article is worth a look.
Special Relationship

No, not Dubya and Condi, but the dependency between a country that's addicted to 10 miles to the gallon SUV's...and a nation with crude:

"The Saudis are in a great position today," said Jean-François Seznec, a professor at Columbia University's Middle East Institute. "We cannot be enemies with everybody. We need their oil desperately."

Indeed, the alternatives to Saudi Arabia are fewer today than seemed to be the case just three years ago. Predictions of a boom in Iraqi oil have been proved wrong; Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer, is locked on a collision course with the West; Venezuela is following an erratic path; and Russia's commitment to market reforms and foreign investments seems increasingly unreliable.

All this has added to Saudi Arabia's already impressive clout. What is more, other powers - mainly from Asia - seek greater access to its resources and have been increasingly courting the Saudis. "They can play the United States against other buyers, like China," Mr. Seznec said. "And why wouldn't they?"

American officials, furious over Saudi Arabia's handling of the investigations after 9/11, recognize this new reality. The warmer relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States were on display last April, when Crown Prince Abdullah - who succeeded his half brother, Fahd, on Monday as king - visited President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. As a sign of public diplomacy, and personal bonds, they kissed on the cheek and held hands.

Yesterday represented a kind of reunion for the Americans who led the first gulf war in 1991. The United States delegation met with King Abdullah at the monarch's farm near Riyadh. In any event, the group remained in the country less than four hours.

"As the world's largest producer and as the world's largest consumer, our two countries have a special relationship," Samuel W. Bodman, the secretary of energy, said earlier this year after meeting in Washington with his Saudi counterpart, Ali al-Naimi. "We are, at least in certain respects, partners."

Even the contentious issue of high oil prices has been smoothly swept under the rug. Over the last two years, crude oil prices have more than doubled, and closed yesterday at a record $62.31, up 1.5 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

I saw the above story at Juan Cole's site--his response is as good as any:

Despite Americans' talk about not liking to be dependent on the Saudis, their actual policies (and certainly those of the Bush administration) are calculated to increase the dependency, not lessen it.

Remember that the next time you complain about those spreading Wahhabi-influenced madrasahs. You might as well complain about cows while eating ice cream.
Operation Drop the Ball

Team Butterfingers Bush had bin Laden trapped--then let him get away:

During the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush and John Kerry battled about whether Osama bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora in the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Bush, Kerry charged, "didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill" the leader of Al Qaeda. The president called his opponent's allegation "the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking." Bush asserted that U.S. commanders on the ground did not know if bin Laden was at the mountain hideaway along the Afghan border.

But in a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught. "He was there," Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK. Asked to comment on Berntsen's remarks, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones passed on 2004 statements from former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19 New York Times op-ed. "Bin Laden was never within our grasp." Berntsen says Franks is "a great American. But he was not on the ground out there. I was."

In his book—titled "Jawbreaker"—the decorated career CIA officer criticizes Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon's own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora, says Berntsen's lawyer, Roy Krieger. (Berntsen would not divulge the book's specifics, saying he's awaiting CIA clearance.) That backs up other recent accounts, including that of military author Sean Naylor, who calls Tora Bora a "strategic disaster" because the Pentagon refused to deploy a cordon of conventional forces to cut off escaping Qaeda and Taliban members.

Hmmm...let me guess...maybe the troops weren't there because the Bushitters were busy getting ready for Operation Let's Don a Flightsuit. And now, almost FOUR YEARS later, Iraq is a hell hole, Afghanistan ditto...and bin Laden, once again, no longer concerns the dauphin. Mission accomplished...
Going in Circles

In western Iraq, neither the trip nor the destination is much fun:

With most of the fighting over after a large-scale invasion of the western Iraq town Friday, the troops in Haqlaniyah spent hours Sunday under a fiery sun looking for an adversary that often shoots and vanishes without a trace.

Their frustration mirrors that of units in much of western Iraq, where homebred Sunni Muslim insurgents - some angry about the downfall of secular dictator Saddam Hussein, others seeking the dream of a Sunni theocracy - have joined with foreign fighters coming across a porous desert border looking for the glory of international jihad.

The guerrilla fighters often leave a rear guard to fight advancing U.S. forces, while moving the majority of their men on to other towns where the Marines have no presence and the police have fled or been disbanded.

For the past two years, the U.S. military has staged operations through the vast deserts of western Iraq, chasing insurgents up and down the Euphrates River valley that splits the sands.

As troops walked in and out of houses Sunday, they heard phones ringing. An Iraqi interpreter working with the Marines, who gave his name as Sabah, picked up phones when he could reach them in time.

When he hung up, Sabah smiled. The callers said to be careful - the Americans are on their way.

"We need to win the intelligence war, that's what it's all about," said Marine Capt. John A. Kasparian, a spokesman for Marines in the area. As more Iraqi troops move into towns, they hope to be able to get a better idea of who the insurgents are and how they operate, he said.

Hmmm...Jeffrey found an article that, among other things, should put a rest once and for all to the nonsense about "trained Iraqi troops:"

My time as a Team Leader in Iraq was temporarily interrupted when I was sent to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad to train the Iraqi army. I was more than happy to do it because we were being told that in order for us to get out of Iraq completely the Iraqi military would have to be able to take over all security operations. The training of the Iraqi Army became a huge concern of mine. During the time I trained them, their basic training was only one week long. We showed them some basic drill and ceremony such as marching and saluting. When it came time for weapons training, we gave each Iraqi recruit an AK-47 and just let them shoot it. They did not even have to qualify by hitting a target. All they had to do was pull the trigger. I was instructed by my superiors to stand directly behind them with caution while they were shooting just in case they tried to turn the weapon on us so we could stop them.

Once they graduated from basic training, the Iraqi soldiers in a way became part of our battalion and we would take them on missions with us. But we never let them know where we were going, because we were afraid some of them might tip off the insurgency that we were coming and we would walk directly into an ambush. When they would get into formation prior to the missions we made them a part of, they would cover their faces so the people of their communities did not identify them as being affiliated with the American troops.

Not that long ago President Bush made a statement at Fort Bragg when he addressed the nation about the war in Iraq. He said we would "stand down" when the Iraqi military is ready to "stand up." My experience with the new Iraqi military tells me we won't be coming home for a long time if that's the case.

Well, I'll hand it to the wingnutters--they've got one thing right when they argue that "Iraq is nothing like Vietnam." Compared to the "training" noted above, ARVN forces actually amounted to something.

But that was a different era, I guess.
Equal Time

Steve Gilliard expressed surprise that this ran in the Salt Lake Tribune, although I vaguely recall that they've run similarly "surprising" articles in the past:

President Bush has thrown in with those who think that an idea called "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools...

But why stop there?

While the science teacher is at it, he might make the study of astronomy more poetic by including the theory that the sun is not a frighteningly impersonal thermonuclear furnace but actually the flaming chariot of Phoebus Apollo streaking across the sky.

Or he might calm the students' fears of being adrift in a soulless universe by casting aside all this Copernican nonsense and admitting that, as any fool can see just by looking up, the Earth stands still and the sun, moon and stars revolve around us, er, it.

Perhaps Gilliard is surprised by the irony of it, given that Mormons are generally known for being more earnest than ironic (then again, maybe the bicycles and thin ties are their version of retro chic). Still, I noted in the past that "Creation Physics" (because, after all, relativity is 'just a theory') isn't exactly stirring up the same degree of snit in the nation's schoolboards (though, I think it was Jeffrey that pointed me to--no lie--a website promoting just that). a certain sense, there might be some good to come out of Bush's pronouncement--given that most everything he touches turns to lead, maybe his endorsement could be the first toll of the death bell for an idea who's time belongs squarely in the dark ages...
Wingnut Thruway

Posted for those who might not read Eschaton on a regular basis, here's a quick take on the blogosphere's resident quacks.
Weekend Review

As expected, a certain idiot in a small Texas village took to the airwaves Saturday and proceeded to ignore reality...why am I not surprised? I'm sure Chimpy had the highest of high tech scanners busily combing the ranch for yet more brush to clear, while he studiously--if such a word can be applied his case--avoided Cindy Sheehan, who would like a word or two with His Flightsuitedness. Most folks probably know by now that Ms. Sheehan's son was killed in Iraq (note: Cindy Sheehan will be in Baton Rouge on September 24th, IIRC).

Meanwhile, some of those who've been fortunate enough to return from the war met in Dallas for a Veterans for Peace National Convention (Hat tip to Simbaud and Arthur Silber) know, I'm continually amazed, and not in a good way, by the wingnut penchant to claim concern for the Iraqi people--concern that becomes a yawn when you bring up the uncomfortable reality that the Iraqi people are being killed on an all-to-routine and constant basis...and, if death eludes them today, there's the ever present possibility of succumbing to the effects of Depleted Uranium, which in Baghdad is now 'five times the normal rate, the equivalent of having 3 chest x-rays an hour' (note: DU affects US personnel, too).

But, to stay on the subject of Iraqis for just a moment, here's an Iraqi editorial that gives as good a description as any as to the situation in-country (from Today in Iraq):

The gates of hell
By Jamal Mudhafar
Azzaman, August 7, 2005

The headline of this article is not a title of a science fiction film. It truthfully translates what is currently taking place in Iraq.

The gates of hell are now wide open – thanks to U.S. invasion – and their fires have enveloped almost everything in our country.

There is no electricity, no water, no fuel, no food rations, no security, no sewage…

There is terror everywhere and there is fear of everything – fear of the present and of what lies ahead in the future.

All indications tell that our future is bleak as there is nothing left in this country that makes you feel secure about your own future and that of your children.

What is happening is not a war, rebellion or insurgency. It is mass killing and annihilation coupled with torture and brutal and barbaric dismembering of innocent people.

Bombing and shelling of towns goes ahead and no one gives a damn for the lives lost and property damaged...

Fear and terror have gripped the nation. Wherever you are at any time of the day you are liable to be killed by a stray bullet.

Stray bullets are no longer the prerogative of U.S. troops and their tormentors – the insurgents.

Almost everyone in Iraq now use their guns to shoot in order to scare, wound or kill.

If the bodyguards of a senior official want to reach a destination on time and are delayed by traffic jam, they fire in the air to scare other drivers to give way.

If someone is injured or killed as a result it is his or her problem.

Killing by mistake is now perhaps one of the main causes of death in Iraq.

Trust between the people and the government has collapsed. And now we are at the mercy of the stars because neither U.S. troops nor the government have the slightest idea of who is blowing up whom and why?

Not exactly a beacon of hope, or whatever catch phrase the dullwitted one has written up for him (I'm sure 'making progress' will have a revival sometime soon).

Finally, to round out the weekend, I see that YRHT found a story that I saw over at AmericaBlog about Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse (who, incidently is a Gret Stet native and sister of pro basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes)...Greenhouse is the "Principal Assistant Responsible for Contracting in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," i.e., her job is to ensure that, well, let's go to the regs themselves:

Federal Acquisition Requirement 3.101: "Government business shall be conducted in a manner above reproach ... with complete impartiality and with preferential treatment for none."

Greenhouse saw a problem with--who else?--Halliburton:

In her job, Greenhouse is mandated by Congress to get the best quality at the cheapest price from the most qualified supplier. Over her objections, KBR was awarded three multibillion-dollar war-related contracts, two of them without competitive bidding.

Together, they are worth as much as $20 billion — the entire cost of the Manhattan Project, adjusted to today's dollars.

Greenhouse's most strenuous complaints were over the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, estimated at $7 billion, originally planned to handle oil field fires that might be started by Saddam Hussein's troops. When that failed to happen, it morphed into an agreement to repair oil fields and import fuel for civilians and soldiers.

The contract was given to KBR in March 2003. In Greenhouse's view, that process violated federal regulations concerning fair and open bidding. Halliburton denies that.

A month before KBR got the contract — and three weeks before the U.S. invaded Iraq — she had demanded KBR officials be ejected from a Pentagon meeting attended by high-ranking officials from the Corps and the Defense Department. "They should not have been there," she said. "We were discussing the terms of the contract."

Later, she would tell Democratic members of Congress: "The abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have ever witnessed during the course of my professional career."

At the Corps, Greenhouse said she was told KBR was the only qualified firm.

With the country on the brink of war, she reluctantly signed the RIO contract. But next to her signature, she boldly wrote an objection to the only thing she felt she could challenge — the contract's length, five years. One year would have been more than fair, she said. After that, it should have been put out for bid among contractors with top security clearances.

"I caution that extending this sole source contract beyond a one-year period could convey an invalid perception that there is not strong intent for a limited competition," she penned in neat cursive.

In June, she was asked to testify before the Democratic Policy Committee — formed by Democrats who said their efforts to get the Republican-controlled Congress to investigate alleged war profiteering had been repeatedly denied.

She was joined by a former Halliburton employee who said KBR fed spoiled food to American troops and charged the government for thousands of meals it never served.

Halliburton would not specifically address the former employee's claims. Norcross said taking care of troops is "our priority."

"I thought she was very courageous to come forward and blow the whistle," Rep. Henry Waxman of California said of Greenhouse. "The administration ran around her and ignored her. We owe her a debt of gratitude."

And if she is forced out?

"I would find that outrageous," Waxman replied. "They should be promoting her."

But, guess what? The forcing her out. No good deed goes unpunished, and no despicable act goes unrewarded in Dubyamerica.