Friday, August 19, 2005

Hold 'em or Fold 'em

Hullabaloo cites Kevin Drum in a post today--both are worth a good look, and both are thinking about long-term trends in the Democratic party...but Drum's rhetorical question to Democrats should be asked of Team Bush as well:

...if you do believe we can win in Iraq, let's hear what you mean by "win" and how you think we can do it, and let's hear it in clear and compelling declarative sentences. "Stay the course" isn't enough...

Conversely, if you don't believe we can win in Iraq, and you're only suggesting we stay there because you can't stand the thought of "looking weak," then your moral compass needs some serious adjustment."

As I said, Drum and Digby are looking at this from a perspective of examining Democratic Party strategy--but there's nothing wrong with likewise demanding straight answers from the gang running the show (even if the odds of getting a straight reply from them could be measured in megaparsecs). And, to date, I can't think of a single instance where the Bush cabal has been put on the spot and directly asked to put some cards on the table.

Indeed, David Ignatius (hat tip to Ben for the link) spends today's column attacking various Democrats for what amounts to "lacking the vision thing." While there might be some truth to that (Joe Biden as president is about as inspiring as dog food for dinner), hammering Howard Dean for lacking an Iraq plan--while NEVER so much as ASKING for one from Bush--makes little sense. Dean didn't get us into Iraq--Bush did. And, more and more evidence indicates to what extent Bush was willing to lie in order to get us there.

Again, this is why someone like Cindy Sheehan is so compelling...oh, and I'd like to wish her all the best, like so many others have done in light of mother's condition. She's asking a basic question, and refusing to accept nonsense like the latest insane rantings from Dick Cheney (WARNING: the link is to Faux News). Now, if only the "free press" would follow up and demand some REAL answers.

"Stay the course," "until the mission is complete," "freedom," etc., under the circumstances, mean nothing--you could substitute random words and not make any less sense. Team Bush needs to come clean with the public, and explain once and for all WHAT the plan IS and HOW they intend to accomplish it.
The Politics of Hate

The Editors use a well-timed Paul Begala essay as a starting point to chronicle a few of the hatemongers greatest hits. Here are a few gems offering insight into the average winger mind-set:

We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.

Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX)
Mother Jones, 8/1995

Get rid of the guy. Impeach him, censure him, assassinate him.

Rep. James Hansen (R-UT)

The middle part of the country–the great red zone that voted for Bush–is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead–and may well mount a fifth column.

Andrew Sullivan
London Sunday Times, 9/16/01

Let me put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts to the region the words of Senator Durbin, certainly putting America’s men and women in uniform in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals.

Karl Rove

Wouldn’t it be great if anybody who speaks out against this country, to kick them out of the country? Anybody that threatens this country, kick ‘em out. We’d get rid of Michael Moore, we’d get rid of half the Democratic Party if we would just import that law. That would be fabulous. The Supreme Court ought to look into this. Absolutely brilliant idea out there.

Rush Limbaugh

Oh, and speaking of Rush, the pill-addled popinjay (to distinguish him from Snitch, who's merely DRINK-addled)--anyway, the pill-addled popinjay is evidently too strung out to keep track of his lies. Asshole.
A New World Record

Attaturk notes that the torch was passed from St. Ronald of Densewood to Little Lord Shrubelroy:

Today is the day that George Bush sets the record for vacation days for an American President, 336. Breaking the record in 4 years and 7 months, impressive in that they woke Reagan up after 8 years to inform him he had set an unbreakable level of iconic detachment.

From being born as the son of a son of a son of wealthy patricians, through the gentlemens grades of "C", to flying jets so as to keep the Viet Cong from invading the Gulf Coast to steal his blow, Dear Leader has been a notible, yet propped up unachiever his entire life. That he could so quickly lounge his way into the Presidential record-books is an impressive act of non-action indeed.

Hard Work...
Buy One, Get One Free

How's this for a double dose of wingnuttia--a chance to reveal their inner misogynist AND spit on the troops:

Court Rules U.S. Need Not Pay for Abortion of Doomed Fetus

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 18 - While suggesting that its decision might seem "callous and unfeeling," a federal appeals court here ruled Thursday that the Navy need not pay for an abortion received by a sailor's wife, even though doctors said the fetus had a birth defect and could not survive.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came in the case of a 23-year-old woman who lives in Bremerton, Wash. Her name was not disclosed.

The woman terminated her pregnancy in 2002 after she learned that her fetus had no forebrain or cerebellum, a fatal condition known as anencephaly.

The couple, who have an annual income of less than $20,000 dollars, will be billed for the $3,000 dollar procedure. How nice.

Here's a more detailed explanation of anencephaly.

Wingnuts can argue all they want, but I don't buy the "little soul" argument for a millisecond. A fetus afflicted with this condition is more likely than not to be stillborn. If not stillborn, "then he or she will usually die within a few hours or days after birth."

I'll forego making any jokes about why wingnuts might feel a certain kinship with those lacking a forebrain.

The point is that in a modern world, with modern medicine, termination/abortion or whatever you want to call it is simply an option that should be available to a woman in this situation. If a woman chooses to continue a pregnancy under such circumstances, so be it.

And health care--even military health care, i.e., government health care--should cover the costs.

Denial of this claim is a slap in the face.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tragedy Repeated as Farce

A minor league collection of the loons who went agog over Terry Schiavo surfaced last week up in Wisconsin to spew their peculiar form of bile:

Staff Sgt. Chad Simon was laid to rest this week with full military honors, a hero who gave his life for us in Iraq.

Of course, the folks at Pro-Life Wisconsin couldn't resist taking a kick at his flag-draped coffin.

Three days after the Monona Marine's funeral, the Pro-Lifers put out a press release claiming that Simon was "murdered by those in charge of his medical care." Late Friday, under legal threat by the lawyers for the Don and Marilyn Anderson Hospicecare Center in Fitchburg, the Pro-Lifers backed off the murder charge.

Still, the Pro-Lifers warned that this could happen to you. Julie Grimstad of Pro-Life called Simon's health-care power of attorney document "signing your own suicide note. It may be legal, but it's most certainly immoral."

Then, if it's possible to get more appalling, the group goes on to tout Grimstad's seven "End of Life Decisions" brochures.

Know what, Julie?

Taking advantage of a family's grief for your political purposes is truly immoral.

Simon, 32, and the father of a 6-year-old son, was severely injured Nov. 8 by the same roadside bomb that killed Lance Cpl. Shane O'Donnell of DeForest, and two other members of their Madison-based company.

Simon came home from Iraq and received medical care here until mid-July when his doctors determined he would not recover. His family honored his "health-care power of attorney," which gave the ability to make decisions to his wife, Regina.

Jack Schuster, the family's attorney, said Regina Simon made the decision after much soul-searching. A judge OK'd the removal of the feeding tube.

"It was all done legally. If they want to debate the morality, who are they to judge?" Schuster asked. "Hospice provided the highest level of loving care. To accuse them of murdering him is the height of immorality."

Schuster said Regina Simon wondered why Pro-Life, "if they were really so concerned about my husband, why didn't they contact the family before he died?"

Well, because it's not about Chad Simon.

It's about a group of publicity-hungry hard-liners that lost its favorite poster girl when Terri Schiavo died this spring.

"Taking advantage of a family's grief for your political purposes is truly immoral." Exactly.
Good Advice

Oyster reminds us to "avoid taking poker tips from this guy. He doesn't know when to fold'em."

Which reminded me of an old classic called Poker With Dick Cheney.
On Noble Causes

Another busy day over here while we stay one step ahead of internet threats...

Last night I was thinking about a few things, and, coincidentally, a number of posts fall broadly into the same outline, beginning with Tbogg's, um, analysis of Ben Shapiro's decision to stay on the sidelines this go round (and, presumably, during any other conflict). Steve Gilliard does the same here.

There's a reason why the wingnut crowd takes such umbrage over the moniker "chickenhawk." It's quite an effective and devastating critique, particularly when Operation-Plan-for-Lunch-but-Not-for-an-Insurgency is failing at least in part (emphasis on "in part") because of insufficient forces (larger numbers would merely delay the inevitable, but, back to the point). This generation of the species instead seeks to hide 'neath the wing of their forebears who's examples include lengthy vacations, callous bravado--and sheltered children who, like Shapiro, will never experience the gut wrenching terror of combat (likewise their families will never experience the hollow emptiness that comes from a housecall delivering bad news).

So what, you might ask?

Well, aside from the fact that refusing to back up words with deeds is hypocritical, I remember that not all that long ago Saddam Hussein was hyped as the Hitler of the Middle East--with WMD and nuclear ambitions to boot. 9/11/01 is routinely likened to 12/7/41 and Shrubusto routinely goes all out in the rhetoric department--"war pResident, GWOT, first battle in the GWOT, etc., etc. etc.). Strong words...

But, like the modern generation of c'hawks, I find it remarkable that such strong language is followed up with such little backing in the "actions" department. Consider: during World War II, a general call up went out...a draft was authorized, millions of dollars were spent promoting armed forces enlistment, commodity rationing was in place--hell, even little children (like my dad at the time) were pressed into "service" collecting things like tin cans for metal drives. War bonds were promoted and sold--and so on.

You could write a dissertation on the subject (and I'll bet more than a few HAVE been). The defeat of fascism was seen as the defining struggle of the early/mid 20th century, and everyone who could did their part...

Where are the metal drives of today?

My actual thought last night was something like, "hey, wait a minute...if this war is even HALF as critical as Shrubelroy insists, then why such a pathetic contribution from the 'Coalition of the Willing' or whatever they're calling it these days?" If the war in Iraq was REALLY a defining battle--can't, say, Italy or Poland (NEVER forget Poland) do better than a few batallions?

Look at the nations bordering Iraq--Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. How many troops were provided by ANY of these nations? (and, of course, the REAL irony is that Iran is right now the big winner, at least according to Juan Cole). Surely they'd be concerned if Hussein was a mini-Armageddon waiting to happen.

And, as I noted, our own committment--along with that of our junior partner Britain--wasn't exactly what you'd call all-out-man-the-battle-stations. Not at all. Team Bush didn't even demand anything approaching a shared sense of sacrifice, but instead, insisted on tax cuts, despite the very real fact that NOTHING is more expensive than war EVEN if it was somehow possible to keep profiteering and price gouging out of the equation.

Sure, they took Baghdad and "occupied" the country in blitzkrieg-like fashion. However, to use a sports analogy, scoring first doesn't mean you've won the game, although evidently the "coach" thought it worthy of a now embarrassingly premature carrier celebration.

Now we've got a combination of grim reality overseas and, speaking of embarrassing, an almost surreal disconnect on the part of Vacationer-in-Chief, who apparently doesn't understand five week vacations in a time of war kind of undercuts any suggestion re: the cause.

Which is why, I think, Cindy Sheehan--and others--are being heard. Team Bush's sure thing has gone horribly awry--and they evidently don't really care all that much.

Unless the gang in DC is an even greater collection of stumblebums than I think they are, there's no way they considered Iraq a "defining struggle"--although, in yet another ironic twist, the loss in Iraq (and Afghanistan) will have serious repurcussions. No, they considered Iraq redux more of a quick bitch-slap--to be followed upon with an equally quick bitch-slap of whatever candidate the Democrats nominated in 2004...

Well, they managed to squeak through the election, but the war blew up in their face. Because of this, people like Sheehan are able to ask "just what do you mean by noble?" And they simply don't have an answer. Because a war of choice is NEVER a noble cause--even when it's over quickly, without many US casualties (and, of course, being the reigning superpower means you NEVER have to be concerned with casualties that AREN'T yours--even as you claim you're only there to "help").

And it's especially not a noble cause when you can't or won't answer the question of whether or not it's important enough for YOU--or your kids--to make the ultimate sacrifice. Try explaining that, by the way, to people like Cindy Sheehan.
Served With Cheney Mashed Potatoes or Rice

Shroeder, at People Get Ready, delivers a boneless bucket of chicken(hawk) to Larrys Northern and Matledge for their efforts in Crawford. Northern, you'll recall, decided to tilt at small wooden crosses instead of windmills (his record was mixed--he managed to kncck a number over with his trusty pickup truck, but one punctured a tire...and several got stuck in the undercarriage). Co-winner Matledge is cited for his cloud-shooting skills.

Check it out here.

PGR has become a daily read for me, by the way, and I'll add it to my roll as soon as possible. At this point, there might actually be enough LA bloggers to look into establishing a Drinking Liberallychapter (or check and see if the existing one listed for NOLA is still extant).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

October 2001

The link to AllSpinZone is from Eschaton, so I'm just adding another voice to the hue and cry:

This afternoon, the National Security Archives at George Washington University released some stunning documents, that seem to further corroborate the Downing Street Minutes, as well as buttress the argument that there was precious little post-war planning in the rush to topple Saddam...the date in the first bullet point...[is] 10/2001 - barely one month after the events of September 11th, when all efforts of the U.S. government should have been focused completely, and without hesitation, on finding Osama “Who?” Bin Laden.

More here.

What the hell were they thinking?
Survival of the Dimmest

Dim, yes, but not harmless--in fact, quite the contrary. Needlenose nominates WIIIAI for Quote of the Day, based on the following:

They decided, in a move we Americans know all too well, to lie in order to survive the initial news cycle of the story.

That's definitely got my vote; however, check out the entire post if you've got the time (it's short).

WIIIAI also links to Lenin's Tomb for additional details, and here's the latest from The Guardian.

I mean, geez--imagine if Menezes was your husband, boyfriend, sibling, or child.

Update: Once again, I'm displaying presidential-like lapses...the Guardian article carries a photograph of Menezes after he was shot--notice what he's wearing.
Watch for Wheels Falling Off

Thanks to The Editors and Steve Gilliard.

Things are still pretty busy over here, but I've had a few moments to prowl around--and came across this interesting article (Gilliard's link is via Salon):

CLEVELAND -- The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.

"We feel you either have to fight this war right or get out," Rosemary Palmer, mother of Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, said Tuesday.

Schroeder, 23, died two weeks ago in a roadside explosion, one of 16 Ohio-based Marines killed recently in Iraq.

The soldier's father said his son and other Marines were being misused as a stabilizing force in Iraq.

"Our comments are not just those of grieving parents," Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. "They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated."

The Schroeders also noted their support for Cindy Sheehan, and the military personnel in Iraq, stating, "It's not the fault of the troops. It's the fault of the plan."

The first paragraph is the real crux of the problem--there's simply no way for Team Bush to up the ante troopwise, unless any of the following occurs:

Massive enlistment on the part of the 101st Keyboarders.
A military draft that somehow manages to succeed without massive riots and/or the disintegration of the military itself.
A genuine coalition ready, willing, and able--especially the latter--of establishing a semblence of order in Iraq.

For ANY of those, lotto odds look good in comparison.

So, we're faced with, at a certain point, the inevitibility of withdrawal, and the question then becomes how many unphotographed coffins Dubya is willing to have flown in to Dover AFB in order to salve his massive ego.

Well, if there's any such thing as a sure bet, I'm pretty certain we won't see Shrubusto playing Captain Tailhook ever again.

By the way--once again, news out of Mesopotamia won't emphasize any newly painted schools because, well, upwards of 50 or so people who were alive yesterday but who are dead today--including at least 2 US soldiers--are, quite frankly, more newsworthy, regardless of how enamored wingnuttia is of the smell of fresh latex-base. Not only is the war over for those 50--so is everything else...forever.

And this sort of carnage will go on...and on...and on. Which is why a lot of "ordinary Americans" are getting off the lurching Bush bandwagon when it comes to Iraq. They recognize the level of shit storm out there on the horizon, and, at the very least, realize that this is in no way what the neo cons promised back in the halcyon days of 2002-03. If they additionally either opposed the war on moral and/or ethical grounds--or, perhaps are beginning to question, on moral and/or ethical grounds, discretionary conflict--then all the better.

Because if this is happening, the phrase "lame duck" will be too kind in regards to Bush. His place in history won't even be that of a peckerwood'll be more like a peckerwood Buchanan.
Best Offense/Defense, etc. etc. etc.

Our office hasn't been affected by this, but some are, so my morning will be busy--mostly applying patches to the odd machines that didn't get updated last go round.

Back in a bit.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


First the pundits bloggers, THEN the pundits, now the intellectuals are catching up with the facts re: Iraq:

It's over. For the U.S. to win the Iraq war requires three things: defeating the Iraqi resistance; establishing a stable government in Iraq that is friendly to the U.S.; maintaining the support of the American people while the first two are being done. None of these three seem any longer possible. First, the U.S. military itself no longer believes it can defeat the resistance. Secondly, the likelihood that the Iraqi politicians can agree on a constitution is almost nil, and therefore the likelihood of a minimally stable central government is almost nil. Thirdly, the U.S. public is turning against the war because it sees no "light at the end of the tunnel."

As a result, the Bush regime is in an impossible position. It would like to withdraw in a dignified manner, asserting some semblance of victory. But, if it tries to do this, it will face ferocious anger and deception on the part of the war party at home. And if it does not, it will face ferocious anger on the part of the withdrawal party. It will end up satisfying neither, lose face precipitously, and be remembered in ignominy...

for the Bush regime, the worst picture of all is on the home front. Approval rating of Bush for the conduct of the Iraqi war has gone down to 36 percent. The figures have been going steadily down for some time and should continue to do so. For poor George Bush is now faced with the vigil of Cindy Sheehan. She is a 48-year-old mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq a year ago. Incensed by Bush's statement that the U.S. soldiers died in a "noble cause," she decided to go to Crawford, Texas, and ask to see the president so that he could explain to her for what "noble cause" her son died.

Of course, George W. Bush hasn't had the courage to see her. He sent out emissaries. She said this wasn't enough, that she wanted to see Bush personally. She has now said that she will maintain a vigil outside Bush's home until either he sees her or she is arrested. At first, the press ignored her. But now, other mothers of soldiers in Iraq have come to join her. She is getting moral support from more and more people who had previously supported the war. And the national press now has turned her into a major celebrity, some comparing her to Rosa Parks, the Black lady whose refusal to move to the back of the bus in Atlanta a half-century ago was the spark that transformed the struggle for Black rights into a mainstream cause.

Bush won't see her because he knows there is nothing that he can say to her. Seeing her is a losing proposition. But so is not seeing her. The pressure to withdraw from Iraq is now becoming mainstream. It is not because the U.S. public shares the view that the U.S. is an imperialist power in Iraq. It is because there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Or rather there is a light, the light an acerbic Canadian cartoonist for the Calgary Sun drew recently. He shows a U.S. soldier in a dark tunnel approaching someone to whose body is attached an array of explosives. The light comes from the match he is holding to the wick that will cause them to explode. In the month following the attacks in London and the high level of U.S. deaths in Iraq, this is the light that the U.S. public is beginning to see. They want out. Bush is caught in an insoluble dilemma. The war is lost.

I think I know why Bush is so disdainful of history--without a doubt it will judge him harshly. However, he's still going to be a lot better off than, say, people like Casey Sheehan, who died for a lie--HIS lie.
"Coming Home"

Hat tip to Today in Iraq.

This guy might be one of the luckier ones:

I don't have nightmares, or see faces. When there is a flash outside my window at night I know it's just lightning and not a flare or explosion. I can even drive without cringing at the slightest pile of rubble along the roadside in anticipation of an ear-rending explosion and shrapnel tearing through my flesh. I rarely get into fights with people who I imagined are "eyeballing me." I actually adjusted quite well.

It certainly could have been worse. One of my buddies got locked up in an institution by the police for being a danger to himself. Another woke up in the hospital with no memory of the beating he received from those same police - not for being a danger to himself, but to everyone else. One guy got a brain infection and wakes up every morning expecting to be in Iraq. Two more are in Afghanistan, having re-upped rather than deal with being home. Five more went back to Baghdad as private security guards. Their consensus on how it is a second time around: still hot and nasty.

The ones who are still around here I don't see as much as I used to; that doesn't come as much of a surprise. Too many things have happened since we got back a little over a year ago. Busy schedules and girls have gotten in the way. Classes have to be attended, jobs worked; life goes on.

War stories end when the battle is over or when the soldier comes home. That's one way to tell it's a story. In real life, there are no moments amid smoldering hilltops for tranquil introspection. When the war is over, you pick up your gear, walk down the hill and back into the world, where people smile, congratulate you, and secretly hope you won't be a burden on society now that you've done the dirty work they shun.

Lying there on that bathroom floor, with my dog eyeing me and wondering if a coup d'├ętat would be necessary to ensure his continued food supply, I did figure out one thing: My problem was, I had the wrong definition of home. All my life I learned it was "where the heart is." Things are much easier now that I've figured out that home is just a place where you receive mail.

Definitely check out the entire article if you have the time.
Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer

Operation Dim Bulb was less than a shining success--according to ntodd:

Then I confirmed the perp was in fact caught. Peter informed me that the dude got nailed, as it were, because one of the truck's tires was impaled by a cross, and the cops found a couple more crosses apparently jammed in the undercarriage.

He's referring, of course, to one Larry Northern. This post from First Draft also includes an interesting comment: Northern is quoted by spocko as having supported a particular (GOP) candidate for sheriff because said candidate's slogan was 'Don't do crime because you're going to do the time.'

Guess Mr. Northern will find out if that's true.
Priceless--Well, in a Manner of Speaking

Take a look at Oyster's post. Then check out Karaoke Joe's comment.
New & Improved--With Double the Wingnuttia!

The Talent Show demonstrates that for certain members of the 'nut persuasion, it's all about living in the present.
The Downward Spiral

Billmon's latest, is, as usual, worth a good read--or two--and in conjunction with these articles from Atrios and Kos, they not only are things you've probably seen, but reflect a pretty disturbing trend--sort of a global fallout from political wingnuttery of the Rovian variety.

Whiskey Bar offers the ultimate sneak peak, commenting on the latest from Studio Abu Ghraib, and examining the possible ramifications should the movies EVER make the light of day:

But surely Gen. Myers understands that while shots of helpless little boys being anally raped don't exactly meet local community standards (either here or in Iraq) the Freedom of Information Act doesn't have an obscenity exemption. Or a stupidity exemption, which would have left Myers, not to mention his boss, completely in the clear.

In other words, GSAVE might be off the table as far as GW is concerned, but unless the videos get flushed down the memory hole, we're unlikely to hear much more about Saddam's "rape rooms."

There are good reasons, both for and against general release of what amounts to shocking, disgusting material--arguing against, it's highly likely the Iraqi variety of wingnut WILL go batshit insane and seek to exact revenge (Billmon compares and contrasts with our wingnuts who insisted that Fallujah be razed following the brutal attack on the private contractors in March of 2004). The people who would bear the brunt of such a reaction would, once again, be soldiers simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However, in the end, he argues for openness, despite the risks, because, if nothing else, it might force us to come to grips with the reality of the occupation (emphasis on "might," given that the original images have largely faded from public consciousness)--he cites the release of Srebrenica footage by way of comparison--AND the uncomfortable fact that if these get pushed under the rug, what's to prevent even WORSE abuses in the future?

Like, say, shooting someone in cold blood? As the facts of the Jean de Menezes case GRADUALLY come to light (which in itself is almost certainly by design, the hope being that the initial, sensationalist claims will be remembered, while the reality is forgotten--lost in the swirl of headlines), it's becoming clear that this was badly botched from the get-go. Menezes was NOT wearing a heavy jacket, he did NOT jump the turnstile--he PAID--evidently he'd been attacked by white British youth just a couple of weeks before he was attacked by the cops, who didn't exactly show any restraint, but coldly put seven bullets in his head.

So sorry...carry on. other thing. In a VERY convenient coincidence, Closed Circuit Television footage, otherwise ubiquitous throughout London, particularly the Underground, somehow was on the fritz at the station in question. Gee--imagine that.

Finally, while maybe not as horrific as the cases noted above, the Rove-worshipping minions of wingnuttia managed to pull off a twofer in Crawford--in the absence of any SwiftBoatable evidence to truly attack Cindy Sheehan, they've decided to hoot and holler about Ms. Sheehan's personal life and/or family...and at least one wingnut decided he wanted to spit on a memorial to the fallen...ok, he didn't actually spit--instead, he went after the memorial with his hillbilly chariot.

Welcome to political spin, 21st century--I guess that's what Shrubleroy meant when he said he wanted to "raise the tone."

Monday, August 15, 2005

What...No "Let's Get it On?"

From my sister, who expressed surprise that one of Marvin's best ISN'T included in the new Bill Clinton music collection--a compliation CD soon to be available at the Museum Store in Little Rock:

A compilation CD featuring some of former US President Bill Clinton's favourite rock 'n' roll, jazz and gospel songs is to be released.

The Bill Clinton Collection: Selections from the Clinton Music Room will be the first in a series of CDs of the former president's favourite tunes.

Artists featured on the albums include John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Judy Collins.

Nope, no Let's Get it On, no Sexual Healing, no Whole Lotta Love--but if you order right now you can take your choice of free gifts--Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman...or a fine Jamaican cigar...

Late Update: Geez, where's my brain? A Clinton collection should DEFINITELY have Devil With the Blue Dress...
"You Can't Eat Federalism"

The now delayed Iraqi constitution is likely to have little impact on the Iraqi people, as Robert Fisk points out:

Today is supposed to be "C" day, according to President Bush and all the others who illegally invaded this country in 2003. However, in " real" Baghdad - where the President and Prime Minister and the constitutional committee never set foot - they ask you about security, about electricity, about water, about when the occupation will end, when the murders will end, when the rapes will end.

They talk, quite easily, about the "failed" Jaafari government, so blithely elected by Shias and Kurds last January. "Failed" because it cannot protect its own people. "Failed" because it cannot rebuild its own capital city - visible to it between the Crusader-like machine-gun slits in the compound walls - and because it cannot understand, let alone meet, the demands of the "street"...

...Iraqi guerrillas are now striking at the Americans 70 times a day and so fearful are senior American officers of an increase in attacks that this has become their principle reason for trying to prevent the release of 87 further photographs and videotapes of the Abu Ghraib prison torture and abuses.

In Real Iraq, it makes no difference. For the "street", Saddam is history, there is no reconstruction and the filth of Abu Ghraib causes no great surprise - because most Iraqis knew all about it months before the West opened its horrified eyes to the pictures.

As for the constitution, I asked an old Iraqi friend what he thought yesterday. "Sure, it’s important," he said. "But my family lives in fear of kidnapping, I’m too afraid to tell my father I work for journalists, and we only have one hour in six of electricity and we can’t even keep our food from going bad in the fridge. Federalism? You can’t eat federalism and you can’t use it to fuel your car and it doesn’t make my fridge work."
Is it Beginning?

The "Marine of the Year" snapped over the weekend:

LAWRENCE, Mass., Aug. 14 (AP) - A veteran recently named "Marine of the Year" for his service in Iraq has been charged with attempted murder, after the police said he fired a shotgun on Sunday from his apartment as a group of noisy revelers stood outside a nightclub.

Two people were hit by bullet fragments and suffered minor injuries.

The veteran, Daniel Cotnoir, 33, had called the police minutes earlier to complain about the noise coming from the street shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reported.

He later told the authorities that someone had thrown an empty bottle through his bedroom window, the newspaper reported.

Mr. Cotnoir was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

During his tour in Iraq last year, Mr. Cotnoir had been a military mortician responsible for preparing soldiers for open-coffin funerals.

The job took a heavy psychological toll, he told The Eagle-Tribune in an interview last month after The Marine Corps Times named him its marine of the year, an award presented to him at a ceremony in Washington. At the time, he was getting counseling at a veterans hospital.

"It's a lot harder to talk about the job now than it was at the time to actually do it," Mr. Cotnoir told the newspaper then. "The stories I've gained from my deployment aren't the kind of stories you share."

I actually hope this is settled in a reasonable way--if the injuries really are minor, and if Cotnoir is truly remorseful, then maybe they should consider reducing the charge...However, it underscores a potential problem I've posted about more than once: if Tim McVeigh and John Mohammed snapped following a far less costly war, how many veterans will be affected by this one, and what will they do? Recently, I've seen reports of suicide, muder-suicide, and so on.

That's horrible enough--but what's going to happen when returning veterans realize Team Bush and the wingnuts really don't give a shit about them? Things could get VERY ugly.
Armor All

Geez...body armor, at least the body armor that actually works, is STILL slow in getting to US soldiers:

For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.

The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates - a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.

Moneywise, by the way, we're still talking about a drop in the Pentagon budget bucket: a total cost of $160 million dollars (DOD's budget for this year is in the $450 BILLION dollar range). What this really reflects is piss poor planning across the board on the part of Team Bush, who evidently thought that our forces needed nothing heavier than flower, candy, and kiss resistant material. Guess they were wrong.
With a Whimper

I think the pundit class is starting to get it re: War in Iraq, Mark II. Over the weekend Frank Rich admitted the obvious--we can stick a fork in it:

Nothing that happens on the ground in Iraq can turn around the fate of this war in America: not a shotgun constitution rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline, not another Iraqi election, not higher terrorist body counts, not another battle for Falluja (where insurgents may again regroup, The Los Angeles Times reported last week). A citizenry that was asked to accept tax cuts, not sacrifice, at the war's inception is hardly in the mood to start sacrificing now. There will be neither the volunteers nor the money required to field the wholesale additional American troops that might bolster the security situation in Iraq.

WHAT lies ahead now in Iraq instead is not victory, which Mr. Bush has never clearly defined anyway, but an exit (or triage) strategy that may echo Johnson's March 1968 plan for retreat from Vietnam: some kind of negotiations (in this case, with Sunni elements of the insurgency), followed by more inflated claims about the readiness of the local troops-in-training, whom we'll then throw to the wolves. Such an outcome may lead to even greater disaster, but this administration long ago squandered the credibility needed to make the difficult case that more human and financial resources might prevent Iraq from continuing its descent into civil war and its devolution into jihad central.

Combined with polling data that shows the war about as popular, oh I don't know, burning piles of dung left on the front porch, it's not all that surprising to see folks like Rich announce the beginning of the end (his op-ed is being reflected in straight reporting), while wingnuttia begins a witchhunt.

Well, the war is definitely all over except for the shouting (and wingnuts can do just that)--which might explain the bizarre behavior of el presidente, who, in the midst of political meltdown on a scale that makes the Wicked Witch of the West's look like a minor setback in comparison, can't be bothered with a mom who lost her son, and instead seeks comfort in greenbacks and little league...neither of which demonstrates any degree of capability as a leader (although the former will cement his reputation as a shill).

The very REAL problem for the wingnuts, though, is that reality--which they've been scorning now for quite some time--has a nasty habit of asserting itself...and it's doing so across the board--the splendid little war gone horribly awry, the centerpiece of the domestic agenda no longer even on the table, 9/11 was, at the very least, a case of Team Bush asleep at the wheel, Plamegate is about to take down the evil mastermind, and, in a final ironic twist, the invasion of Iraq, in addition to being THE clusterfuck of the new century, has the additional distinction possibly being RESPONSIBLE for the reintroduction of a small stash of chemical weapons--in Mosul (i.e., in Iraqi Kurdistan).

At this point, Shrubusto won't be riding off into the sunset as much as fading away and radiating...sort of like an old-style television--when you'd shut it off (on foot, mind you, as remote controls were prohibitively expensive) the picture would shrink to a tiny dot before finally disappearing.

It'd be nice if he took the rest of the GOP with him.