Friday, December 29, 2006

The Dream of a Pathetic Little Man
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The Hardest Working Man in Show Business for Ugly People
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Must be rough having to put in three hour days...
He's Number One
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Shrub outpolls the Axis of Evil, as well as bin Laden...Satan, too.
It Can Get Crowded Inside a Little Bubbleworld
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Compare and contrast:

Fantasy a la Lieberman. As usual, WIIIAI's take is better than the actual Lieberdrivel itself:

Holy Joe Lieberman has an op-ed piece in the called “Why We Need More Troops in Iraq” in the WaPo, which describes him as “an Independent Democratic senator.”...

Joe fetishizes “security,” a word he uses seven times. Establishing security, he says, “will open possibilities for compromise and cooperation on the Iraqi political front.” Yes, everyone wants to be bipartisan centrist compromisers, given the chance. Remember the line in Full Metal Jacket: “inside every gook there’s an American waiting to come out”? Lieberman thinks inside every Iraqi there’s a Joe Lieberman waiting to come out, given enough, you know, security.

During his recent trip to the region, he says, “I saw firsthand evidence in Iraq of the development of a multiethnic, moderate coalition against the extremists of al-Qaeda and against the Mahdi Army”. He doesn’t say what that firsthand evidence was; I suppose we just have to take his word for it. I’m guessing he met one guy who told him what he wanted to hear, since that’s the standard of evidence elsewhere in the piece: he mentions “one moderate Palestinian leader” who told him that the US should stay in Iraq, and one American colonel who followed him out of a meeting and told him privately that the soldiers under him really want to “finish this fight” and know they can win it. So it must be true. If Joe threw in a cab driver, it could be a Tom Friedman article...

Also, at least according to some small blogger named Atrios (from Philadelphia, I think), today is C.D. Alston Day, a day set aside to commemorate denial--not the river in Egypt, but denial of reality.

And, last but by no means least, (h/t Scout Prime at First Draft), Riverbend has an update today. It's good to know she's alive, but, as you might expect, she doesn't have much cause for celebration as 2006 comes to a close. Rather than specifically cite something, please read the entire post. It's worth the time.
Just Do It
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It looks like Team Superwimp, aka the Cheney-Shrub administration, will once again display to the world the maturity of a four year old child playing war games with a cap gun. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Shrub did the thumb/index finger gun and shouted out "bang bang, you're dead!" while watching the closed circuit teevee footage...(c'mon: just because they say there won't be teevee footage doesn't mean it's so).

Well, you know what? GOOD, I say. First, I don't give a shit about the butcher of Baghdad. I knew he was a crook and a creep back in the 1980's, when Team Reagan lifted him up by his jackboots--and gave him a free ride following the USS Stark Incident--indeed, just to demonstrate how hypocritical THEY were, Reagan did his best to fan the flames of hatred towards IRAN at the time. I knew Hussein was a crook and a creep before he invaded Kuwait...although, to be fair, I likewise don't really care all that much about the kingdom. It's probably a bit of poetic justice--for both--that they share a border (oh, and an aside: Kuwait might be "supporting" the war in Iraq, but if you ask me, the "support" is awfully tepid, considering. Maybe that ought to tell US just how unpopular Shrub's ugly war of choice was...and is).

Anyway--let Saddam's corpse rot, along with those of his psychotic sons. Hell, maybe we can yank Bremer out of whatever spider hole HE'S settled into to make the announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him! Again!" Who-hoo. Only cost us...3000 soldiers dead, 25000 wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, $350 billion dollars, our international reputation...but Shrub gets his "bang bang, you're dead!" moment in the sun...for the last time.

Because once Saddam IS gone, it's finally over, and the boy chimperor's pathetic, juvenile (indeed, infantile) nature will have no more place to hide. Instead, it will be on display for all to see: the Iraq hellhole, the mother of all clusterfucks, the sheer horror of the ungoing, unending tragedy will be staring us right in the eye after the last little thread--Saddam himself--exits, unloved and unlamented, stage right. It will then hopefully become painfully, embarrassingly evident that the nightmare was wrought for no reason besides the desperate need to be vainglorious on the part of a cringing, little man...and, let's be fair, his equally cringing, soulless, forever frightened, socially inept base of political support. Fantasies of blowing things up--or hanging Saddam--sustain their othewise empty and meaningless existence between trips to the mall and/or church.

So, let them engage in some pathetic, wheezing, beer-belled, sunken-chest thumping one last time...the political equivalent of a used Mazda Miata for their bald-pate-male-menopause-premature-ejaculation last hurrah. Because, for them, it's over after that. Yes, we're going to have to clean up their mess, but for the next two years they've got nuthin'...and maybe more people will finally see them for what they are: scared...little...rabbits, who for too long have been deferred to.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Um, That's a Body. In a Garbage Dump
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I normally don't recycle images quite so rapidly (see below), but after reading a couple of articles about the Boy Chimperor's day, well, it really does make one wonder about disconnections from reality, depths of stupidity, and whatnot:

"We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan," Bush said, appearing before reporters outside an office building near his Texas ranch. Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates flanked Bush as he made his statement.

"The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding," the president said.

Um, yeah...Mr. Preznut, that's a body--in a (makeshift) dump. Dropped off as casually as one might an old fridge, or used tires. As the article states, there will be "little investigation and no chance that anyone would ever be arrested for the murders" (another body was also found).

You know, by most people's definition, murder victims dropped off in makeshift dumps would imply, at the very least, a rather severe breakdown in civil society. But Shrub and company are in serious denial mode...or hopped up on some powerful stuff...

Oh, and Chimp also insists he keeps the troops "in mind" as he continues his strategery-izing. Hmm...if that's the case, why is it only now that he's asking about a plan...almost FOUR YEARS into the invasion itself?

What a bubble boy...
Freedom is a Messy Thing
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That's a barely retouched photograph above--all I added was war criminal Rumsfeld's mug: he may be gone, but he sure as hell isn't forgotten.

Here's the story. If you've got the time, also check out the slide show.

That's this administration's idea of a success.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mixed Feelings
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This Christian Science Monitor article focusing on the expected 2007 spike in energy prices is definitely NOT good news for the country as a whole; however, it could be a sorely needed boost to the Gret Stet. Increasing prices presumably fuel, no pun intended, increased exploration and/or production, both on and off shore. This in turn should increase state revenues (and, under the current circumstances, will likely send oil company profits even further through the roof and literally into orbit). Of course, consumers--including Gret Stet'ers--will pay...probably through the nose.

For the record, I'd much prefer a sane, sound energy policy that isn't wedded to oil company whims. And the increased revenues flowing into state coffers will, again no pun intended, likely be a drop in the bucket versus the genuine need down here.

Oil, for the Gret Stet, has been a deal with the devil from the beginning. The revenues accrued have never been distributed with any measure of equity, while the costs of extraction, in terms of public health and environmental consequences, have been extreme. But, the state has made the deal, and those of us here live with it.

But next summer, when the reports of $4 or $5 a gallon gasoline are aired, with irate consumers complaining about it costing upwards of $150 to fill up, I'll admit that part of me will think that they've got a somewhat peculiar idea of what 'suffering' least compared to some struggling to return to even the semblence of a normal life along the Gulf Coast...
Better a Day Early Than Not at All

Full disclosure: I voted for Edwards in the Gret Stet primary last go round, for mixed reasons: the "race" was essentially over, and Sharpton was denied a spot on the ballot--hey, don't laugh: Reverend Al was, as far as I can remember, the ONLY candidate who appeared in Red Stick prior to the primary, and I still remember wishing I'd heard about the event BEFORE the fact.

Still, I didn't mind Edwards, at least at the time, and was impressed by the enthusiasm he generated. Unlike Kerry, who came across as a politician, Edwards seemed to have some star quality. Now, I wish he'd show a bit of righteous anger now and again, but that's just me. Anyway...

It sure is nice seeing him do his best to keep this region on the political map, because it's the right thing to do:

The North Carolina Democrat's campaign accidentally went live with his election Web site a day before an announcement Thursday that was supposed to use Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as a backdrop.

The slip-up gave an unintended double-meaning to his campaign slogan on the John Edwards '08 Web site: "Tomorrow begins today."...

"Better a day earlier than a day late," said Jennifer Palmieri, an Edwards adviser.

Earlier Wednesday, Edwards visited the site of his planned announcement for a photo opportunity. He did yard work at the home of Orelia Tyler, 54, whose house was gutted by Hurricane Katrina and is close to being rebuilt.

Edwards still will have to earn my vote...but his actions will definitely make me give him strong consideration...
Ha, Ha, Ha, Thud

I'm just laughing my head off at this example par excellence of satire at its best.

Oh, wait. Ignatius is, um, serious, it seems. In other words, we really HAVE turned the corner on the Clinton administration once and for all: Ignatius thinks WE should feel HIS pain.
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"I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume," he said.

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No one knows what it's be the sad man, behind blue eyes.

Actually, I feel a little bit of regret in posting such an obviously untrue picture...Shrub sure as hell wasn't in New Orleans at the height of the flood, but instead opted for the view from above--the, "here's looking down on you" approach. It must've just been awful. I mean, you know how stuffy those airplane cabins can get...
Holiday Wishes

Well, I enjoyed the break from work, if not necessarily posting...though my otherwise constantly aching shoulder and elbow are feeling a bit better.

After a couple of days west of the Mississippi in New (S)Iberia, I'm back in Stick Rouge, none worse for the wear. It was a nice Christmas, although to be honest, I can't say I got what I REALLY wanted...
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Here are a couple of reasons why that was at the top of my list. But hey, I'm willing to celebrate Christmas/Festivus/Hannukah/Kwanzaa whenever it might happen.

And, if you'll pardon the tangent (pun intended), last night, like most everyone else I guess, I saw the numerous reports about the death of Gerald Ford. To discuss his administration or that time would make for a literal boatload of posts (especially considering Cheney and Rumsfeld's prominent roles) I'll just make mention of something I noticed in passing: last night crop of pundits, over and over again, went out of their way to emphasize the media's portrayal of Ford as a klutz, and how unfair that was. Hell, I heard more references to Chevy Chase last night than I otherwise have this century...

OK, fine--so, contrary to media mythmaking, Ford WASN'T a klutz (and yeah, I'd previously known he was an All-American football player for University of Michigan, etc.). Good. But an after the fact we-was-culpa does zero good at this point, and the larger lesson is likely lost: I doubt seriously the media will apologize to George McGovern, a genuine war hero, for their portrayal of him as a communist dupe. Nor am I guessing Howard Dean will ever live down his being dubbed a radical hothead.

So, may the 38th President rest in eternal peace...I bear him no ill will. That said, it'd be nice if some of the retrospective was a bit more introspective on the part of our professional mythmakers...
Update: Um, I hope no one reads too much into the words "I bear him no ill will." Maybe I should've phrased that differently, something about not speaking too ill of the recently departed.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tis the Season
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Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like an eviction notice:

A federal appeals court told the Bush administration Friday that it does not need to immediately restart a housing program for thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims.

The ruling suspends an order by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who said last month that the Federal Emergency Management Agency violated the Constitution when it eliminated short-term housing assistance. Leon said the agency didn't explain its reasoning and provided victims only confusing computer-generated codes to explain its decision.

♫And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.♫

Once again, the Gret Stet wound up on the short end of the stick while the Bush administration placed politics above need, as usual.

It's not as if Mississippi doesn't deserve disaster relief, don't get me wrong. But it's hard to fathom or understand the degree of depravity with Team Bush: they're well aware of the disparity in damage...and the Army Corps of Engineers admitted that, in the case of New Orleans, it wasn't the disease, but the "cure:" their levees failed.

Shit, if the goddamned privatization worshippers had had their day back IN the day, we'd be looking at the biggest liability lawsuit in recorded history.

Well, ok, probably not--in fact, privatization ninnies usually squawk long and loud for, well, government protection...and usually get it. Still...

Anyway...after reading the article--and later, hearing Blanco blast it as yet another instance of political favoritism...alas, governor, it's probably too little, too late: if you had said this from the outset, i.e., if you had realized that Team Bush would just as soon shove you under a bus as say hello (and they would've found a bus for THAT), then people might still be listening. OK, tangent aside, my next thought was, well, what the hell do we expect from an agency that considers THIS acceptable housing

FEMA probably would consider THIS an acceptable surgeon

After all, they considered THIS an acceptable agency head

And, of course, THIS an acceptable president

Under the circumstances, as lunatic as they are, FEMA's decision today is well within their, um, line of reason, so to speak (reason being used in the same way that "logic" is used in conjunction with Microsoft Windows--not as an absolute descriptive, but more of a hit-or-miss sort of thing).

And something tells me THIS would be their idea of a good bridge.
Minister With (Investment) Portfolio
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Condoleezza Rice is willing to shed more blood...well, more of other people's blood, because it's "worth the investment."

Well, to be perfectly sanguine, Condi, here's the approximate blood investment thus far--in US soldier lives:
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That's roughly 3000 lives (five more announced today) at 6 quarts of blood each. Do the math (four quarts to the gallon, forty two gallons to a barrel), and you come to about 107 barrels of blood. Or about one barrel of blood per...18 million barrels of crude (export estimates). Good to know you think it's worth it, Condi.

Oh, and about two of these, plus a little more
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I suppose your response would be the usual disclaimer about risks. What I don't understand is how ANYONE could POSSIBLY think there would be some sort of reward, particularly as I continue to learn more and more about Iraq...something our public officials should have been doing BEFORE launching Operation Enduring Clusterfuck.

But I suppose when it neither your blood nor your money, you'll play fast and loose with both. And, if you have little or no conscience, you'll sleep surprisingly well...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bad Apple
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One thing that really struck me in this article about the Haditha massacre was a java script pop-up (called "Map"), detailing four additional "incidents" that no excuses can justify. And these were all within the last 12 to 13 months, i.e., Abu Ghraib is NOT included.

Nor are the doubtless other "incidents" that never were reported, investigated, etc., but incidents that only the naiively foolish might think haven't happened. War can and often does bring out the worst. Which is a major reason why you don't wage war if you don't have to.

Armed conflict shouldn't be a matter of ego. I wish someone in a position to do so had told this to our president. I'm certain he would've denied the accusation, and ignored the advice. But at least he would've been made aware, at least as aware as someone of his intellectual (micro) caliber can be...

Oh--unrelated, but Billmon brought together a number of his posts from 2003 that dealt with Iraq. Hmmm...come to think of it, this isn't unrelated at all. As he puts it:

If nothing else, though, the Whiskey Bar archives prove to my satisfaction that it was possible, even for a nonspecialist (which is all I'll ever be in the fields of foreign policy or military affairs) to see at least an outline of the disaster as it started to unfold. What was lacking in the corporate media was not the opportunity, but rather the insight, the courage and the independence to say what needed to be said -- at a time when the both the powers that be and the paying audience were unwilling to listen.

Well spoken.

And, don't know about y'all, but I'm planning on reading (or re-reading) most if not all the posts he cites.
Won't Leave Her...Cantilever

Just as an fyi, there's a pretty good Pravda-upon-Hudson article about New Orleans architect Albert Ledner, which includes the picture above as part of this slide show:

The Ledners returned to New Orleans for good in January and rented a condo. While Mrs. Ledner had entertained thoughts of staying in California, Mr. Ledner never wavered: “We had too much of an investment here.”

It doesn't say whether the investment was financial or emotional--it doesn't need to.
The Terrible Twos
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I guess we shouldn't be too surprised--Team Bush shows a remarkable lack-of-capacity for maturity, and if the cost is more death and destruction--for other people, of course--then so be it, says the boy king.

As Team Bush winds down the clock--only two years left. For some, it'll be two LONG years, and they might be the lucky ones...for others, time will run out much more quickly.

Yesterday--and, sorry I forget where I saw this, and who said it--but yesterday I came across a quote from a journalist in Iraq: he asked his driver how long he'd make it in Baghdad without a helmet, flak jacket, security, and so on. The driver replied, "oh, about four or five seconds." I doubt that was meant as a joke.

In contrast, I came across this story a couple of weeks ago written by James Phillips. He offers an on-the-ground impression of Iraq following Gulf War I. It makes for an interesting, and tragic comparison--while not being unrestricted in his travels, Phillips has a degree of autonomy that today's journalists in Iraq couldn't dream of.

I suspect his descriptions of "ordinary" Iraqi life, constrained as it was then, are also beyond the dreams of the average Iraqi today...
Paging Pundit Friedman...
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Tom...why no "Friedman Unit" for New Orleans? Instead, just an "F.U.", it seems:

Bob Herbert, America’s Open Wound

New Orleans

It’s eerie. The air is still. There is no noise. Night is falling.

The five stone steps in front of me once led to a porch, or maybe directly to the front door of a house. There is no way to be sure. The house is completely gone. All that’s left are the five steps, one of which is painted with the address, 1630 Reynes St. The steps sit alone, like a piece of minimalist art, at the front of a small vacant lot full of weeds and rubble. Next door is a house that is completely capsized, fallen over on its side like a sunken ship.

Welcome to the Lower Ninth Ward. You won’t find much holiday spirit here. In every direction, as far as it is possible to see, is devastation.

On another lot, piled high with the rubble of a ruined house, I saw a middle-aged man standing in the front yard weeping. He wore a dirty white baseball cap and he was sobbing like a child. I walked toward him to ask a question but he waved me away.

Whatever you’ve heard about New Orleans, the reality is much worse. Think of it as a vast open wound, this once-great American city that is still largely in ruins, with many of its people still writhing in agony more than a year after the catastrophic flood that followed Hurricane Katrina.

Enormous stretches of the city, mile after mile after mile, have been abandoned. The former residents have doubled-up or tripled-up with relatives, or found shelter in the ubiquitous white trailers of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or moved (in some cases permanently) to Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and beyond. Some have simply become homeless.

“This is a ghostly city, if you ask me,” said Sheila Etheridge, a waitress whose home was destroyed and whose three children are staying with relatives near Atlanta. “It gets real spooky when the sun goes down. They let me sleep in the back of the restaurant. But I’ll tell you the truth, we don’t have too many customers. You see what those neighborhoods are like. They’re empty. The people gone.”

The recovery in New Orleans has gone about as well as the war in Iraq.

In mid-September 2005, with parts of the city still submerged and soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division on patrol, President Bush made a dramatic, flood-lit appearance in historic Jackson Square. In a nationally televised speech he promised not only to do all that he could to rebuild the Gulf Coast, but also to confront the terrible problem of deep and persistent poverty.

“That poverty,” said the president, “has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.”

Now, more than a year later, the population of New Orleans is less than half what it was before the storm. The federal government has allocated billions for the city’s recovery but much of that money has been wasted or remains hopelessly tied up in the bureaucracy. Very little has gotten to the neediest victims, the people who were poor to begin with and then lost their homes and their livelihoods to the storm.

Many of the city’s hospitals and schools remain closed. Some will never reopen. There is very little public transportation. The politicians have come up with a stunning array of post-Katrina initiatives, but one grandiose recovery plan after another has faltered.

The terrible experience of the flood and its aftermath has left an imprint on the minds of most residents that’s as distinct as the water lines that stain so many of the city’s buildings. A cabdriver’s voice faltered as he told me about an obese woman who put pillows under her arms as the floodwaters were rising. She thought the pillows would help her float.

“She drowned,” the driver said.

Emotional and psychological problems are rampant, but there is a drastic shortage of mental health professionals to treat them. People are suffering from severe anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and other illnesses. Doctors told me that large numbers of mentally ill individuals have gone more than a year without taking their prescribed medication.

Many of the poor residents in the city feel that they’ve been abandoned by the government and the rest of America, and that the president broke his promise to help. “We’re in terrible trouble down here,” said a woman named Delores Goode, who stood outside the Superdome asking passers-by if they knew where she might find work as a baby sitter. “We were all over the television last year. Now we’re back to being nobody.”
Paranoia...the Political Success Story

I may not have posted anything, but I've certainly seen this horrible story about how the Libyian government is railroading a Palestinian doctor and six Bulgarian nurses to cover up their own incompetence. Children in a Benghazi hospital were infected, most likely by contaminated needles, and developed HIV. The convenient scapegoats in this case are, of course, foreign nationals.

Does that ring a bell for y'all?

Since 9/11, it seems as if wingnuttia has had a field day playing to fear, prejudice, and paranoia re: our particular case, foreigners whose skin tone is of a darker shade, e.g., the minuteman movement doesn't seem too worried about the U.S.-CANADIAN border. But I digress...the point is simply that, even as the Libyan government deserves our condemnation and contempt for an utterly shameless action, we might want to, ahem, notice some similarities to ourselves. These days, it's not even BEING foreign that turns wingnuttia all atwitter--merely being "not sufficiently 'Merikun" is often enough. Witness Glenn Beck, for instance. Or "Fraulein" Debbie Schlussel.
UPDATE:not to mention Rep. Vergil 'Carry Me Back to Old Virginia' Goode, R-VA...I'm sure he's a good friend of former Senator Allen.

Coincidently, Sadly, No! posted an excerpt from a Richard Hofstadter essay (turned into a book) entitled The Paranoid Style of American Politics. The excerpt is WELL worth reading, and Gavin M. accurately describes it as

"a near-perfect taxonomy of Wingnuttus americanus, that flourishing contemporary species that we know so well."

Indeed. Their paranoia, like I said, extends to pretty much anyone who isn't, well, pale-skinned--hence, their remarkably similar reaction to the teeming and, in their minds, non-white hordes of New Orleans following the engineering disaster that THEY refer to as a storm/act of God (never mind that New Orleans is multi-cultural/multi-racial--an accurate description of wingnuttia will include their tendency towards not wanting to be confused with facts once their mind is made up). And, while this is certainly a matter that goes WAY back in their history, it's not like we can't find some recent examples (and, as Billmon points out...and NOT only of the Deep-Fried Southern variety).

I think the Libyan example shows just how universal this sort of tendency, i.e., fear-of-the-other, is. It certainly makes it no less shameful. But, without holding out too much hope, this could be quite an enlightening (and not in a good way) example for us...if we took heed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Channeling the Psyche of G. Gordon
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The front "page" of the online Pravda on the Hudson has a slightly different version of the picture above, with the caption

The ceremony celebrating the handover to Iraqi forces included chanting, a karate demonstration and a musical interlude...

Click on the link, though, and you'll get a slightly different story (also seen at First Draft)

They slit the rabbit’s belly, ripped it open and feasted on the still beating heart. The commandos of the Iraqi army were celebrating on Wednesday after the Americans had handed over control of Najaf province.

Well, isn't that special? Their idea of "freedom" isn't all that different from a youthful Shrub himself...torturing small animals must give them a kind of rush that civil society just can't compete with, I guess.

I'm sure that paragon of democratic virtue, G. Gordon can relate, if not G.W. hisself.

But I wonder--has anyone told the latter that, at least for some Iraqis, "freedom" means "killing American soldiers?" Or that it's as likely as not that the people we're turning over "security" to don't really give a shit about U.S. interests in the region?

Oh, and check this out:

The local authorities closed all the roads in the city before the transfer ceremony, and while the security situation is relatively stable here, foreigners still needed a military escort to travel the five miles from the heliport at the old American military base to the site of the ceremonies...

The general public did not attend the event. Much of the audience was made up of the area’s powerful tribal leaders, who sat beneath a sign that read: “We are the sons of those who drove the British out in 1920.”

As soldiers paraded by a grandstand with top American and Iraqi military officials, as well as dozens of tribal leaders, a group of commandos with their faces blackened gathered for a demonstration of their courage.

Each man reached into his right pocket, pulled out a frog and bit its head off. They threw the squirming legs to the ground as the group’s leader held aloft a live rabbit. He slit the belly and plunged his mouth into the gash. The carcass was then passed around to the rest of the soldiers, who took their own bites.

It was explained later that this practice was especially popular among Saddam Hussein’s feared Fedayeen militia, whose members had done the same thing with live snakes and wolves.

Feel the love...
Mr. Bill

For some reason, I wanted to watch a Mr. Bill clip or two this morning--and the magic of You Tube made it possible.

Full disclosure: I'm old enough to remember when this particular episode first aired.

And, as most of y'all already know, Walter Williams is a Crescent City native.

OK, that's my tangent post for the week...moving back to more usual fare, why won't the Shrub administration propose a "surge" strategy for the Gulf Coast, where it might actually work?
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He's the reviser:

As he searches for a new strategy for Iraq, Bush has now adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."

It wasn't all that long ago (h/t Hullabaloo) when things were all wine and roses...or was that self-righteous whine and rose-colored glasses?

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

And, of course, who can forget

Bring 'em on.

There's more--Shrub's own take on "revisionist historians," "stay the course," "weapons of mass destruction," "the British government has learned," etc. etc. And, on the domestic side, we've got "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," to cite just one example.

You know, I keep seeing stories in the media about Bush being stubborn...or steadfast, stalwart, or whatever they decide call it. Well, it seems to me that the only quality that meets that criteria is...his stubborn refusal to recognize reality.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Protecting The (It Can't Happen Too Soon Enough) Former President
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I mean, if they're WORRIED about his safety and all, I can't think of a better place. And there's room for multiple generations.

Oh, and on the subject of Biblioteca Arbusto, SMU is apparently a little reluctant to play host. Maybe they should opt for a private sector solution.
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Public Service Announcement
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This is Osama Bin Laden.

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This is Moqtada al Sadr.

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And this is your president's brain.

Any Questions?
Water and Power Don't Mix
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Except when they're the hallmarks for the twin disasters of the worst administration ever.


Iraq is short on drinkable water... the amount of potable water currently produced in Iraq is at less than half the target amount. Like the DoD report, GAO notes that such water statistics are inaccurate; unlike the DoD report, it says why: "U.S. officials estimate that 60 percent of water treatment output is lost due to leakage, contamination, and illegal connections."


The broken city water system is losing about 85 million gallons of water in leaks every day. That is not a typo, 85 million gallons of water a day, at a cost of $200,000 a day, are still leaking out of the system even after over 17,000 leaks have been plugged.

Michelle Krupa of the Times-Picayune reports that the city pumps 135 million gallons a day through 80 miles of pipe in order for 50 million gallons to be used. We are losing more than we are using; the repair bill is estimated to be $1 billion - money the city does not have.


Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.


Sixteen months after flood waters surged through New Orleans' 9th Ward following the landfall of Hurricane Katrina and the bursting of levees, the devastated section of the city "remains all but vacant," The Times-Picayune reports today...

Only 3% of the ward's homeowners have applied for electrical permits -- "enough to power only 152 houses."

Three throws for a dollar? Give me three hundred throws, please. And mix enough ice in the tank to really make him FEEL it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Same Old Shit, New and Improved
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Give 'Em a Medal...or at Least a Certificate of Participation

Sorry for the slow start to's been surprisingly busy for a holiday week over here...

That said, I just don't know where to begin...between the latest uplifting-in-a-makes-your-shoulder-joints-pop-out-and-dislocate kind of way news from Iraq (OK, to be fair, this AMERICAN CITIZEN didn't get THAT treatment...but what happened to him was plenty bad enough...and I think we all know now that plenty of people ARE routinely being tortured in our names. Which is just...plain...sick).

Bob Herbert, to his credit, keeps reminding us of the Mission-Not-Accomplished (albeit promised) down here along the Gulf Coast--again, you'd think that maybe, just maybe, those with newly-found-fondness for nation-building might want to get some practice before embarking on Operation Spill Blood and Burn Money for NOTHING AT ALL. The Gulf Coast would provide PLENTY of practice, the need is quite desperate, and the investment already does and will in the future provide plenty of payoff.

Via Rising Hegemon, I see that Chimperor actually believes his daughters are role models...arrogance truly knows no limits, I suppose.

And it looks like, regarding Iraq, the "surge" strategery, or, in other words, Operation Refuse to Accept the Truth of Your Failure, is Shrub's not-all-that-surprising choice. After all, he might use "The Google," but I'll bet he never looked up Ben Franklin's definition of instanity.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Blast From the Past Post
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U.S. soldiers instruct an Iraqi to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas.

I thought I'd seen this before, and yeah, it's from December 2003:

On almost every corner in Iraq's capital city, carolers are singing, trees are being trimmed, and shoppers are rushing home with their packages—all under the watchful eye of U.S. troops dedicated to bringing the magic of Christmas to Iraq by force...

To that end, 25,000 troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 82nd Airborne Division have been deployed. Their missions include the distribution of cookies and eggnog at major Iraqi city centers, the conscription of bell-ringers from among the Iraqi citizenry, and the enforcement of a new policy in which every man, woman, and child in Baghdad pays at least one visit to 'Twas The Night... On Ice.

Immediately following the press conference, high-altitude bombers began to string Christmas lights throughout the greater-Baghdad area, and Wild Weasel electronic-warfare fighter jets initiated 24-hour air patrols to broadcast Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" over the nation. Armored columns struck out from all major allied firebases to erect a Christmas tree in the town square of every city, while foot soldiers placed fully lit, heavily guarded nativity scenes in front of every Iraqi mosque.

Because freedom isn't free...
Card Carrying Liar, English Version
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Again, for wingnuttia benefit: NO ONE questions whether or not Saddam Hussein was an ugly, vicious thug, and I'll sleep as good as our preznut following his execution...hell, I wouldn't even bat an eye if they let Jeb's guys down in Florida carry it out (aside: can the Bushes do ANYTHING right, or is this some sort of genetic thing?).

That said, it's now quite clear now--and WAS clear then--to anyone with more than a few functioning brain cells that Saddam Hussein was NOT a threat to the United States:

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.

In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."

Mr Ross revealed it was a commonly held view among British officials dealing with Iraq that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been "effectively contained".

Contained. Not a threat. But Shrub insisted on his war, and Blair played indulgent parent--and liar--to the former's childish demands.

Now watch as they try to pin blame for the worst foreign policy disaster in history on anyone except those responsible...themselves.
Shrub's Little Helper
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Ever wonder how Little Lord Shrubleroy manages to "[sleep] better than people would assume?"

I suppose wingnuttia might try to spin such "good news" as evidence that he's finally put away his coke spoon for good...or maybe it's just drug substitution...
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Juan Cole explains the fallacy--and stupidity--of the latest non-fix for Operation Enduring Clusterfuck.

Sorry to keep repeating here, but I'm continually amazed at how willing this administration, and their declining support base, is to throw away lives and money on the mother of all dipshit decisions, while conversely telling the US Gulf Coast to fuck off. I mean, that's more than just plain wrong. It's a sign of some serious degree of psycho/socio-pathic behavior...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Army of Shrub
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Not ready for duty:

As President Bush weighs new strategies for Iraq, the Army's top general warned Thursday that his force "will break" without thousands more active duty troops and greater use of the reserves.

Noting the strain put on the force by operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terrorism, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said he wants to grow his half-million-member Army beyond the 30,000 troops already added in recent years.

Though he didn't give an exact number, he said it would take significant time and commitment by the nation, noting some 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers could be added per year.

Officials also need greater authority to tap into the National Guard and Reserve, long ago set up as a strategic reserve but now needed as an integral part of the nation's deployed forces, Schoomaker told a commission studying possible changes in those two forces.

So...where are they going to get the extra troops? It's not like Jenna...or not-Jenna...has demonstrated any inclination to volunteer.

Then again, Team Bush economic policy might do the trick...

And tapping into the Guard and Reserves means more repeat performances of the post-Katrina, post-flood debacle, as critical disaster response teams get called respond to Shrub's disaster in Iraq. Geez.
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A big story moving around the internets today concerns South Dakota senator Tim Johnson, his physical health, and the implications given the razor thin Democratic majority...

In an interesting coincidence, I came across this Slate explainer piece about general Congressional attendence, which includes this paragraph:

In 1969, two years into his fourth term, South Dakota Sen. Karl E. Mundt, a Republican, suffered a stroke and was unable to continue voting. He offered to resign, but only on the condition that South Dakota's governor appoint Mundt's wife to fill the vacancy. The governor refused, and Mundt retained the Senate seat, even while missing three full years of votes. He even remained on three committees until 1972, when the Senate Republican Conference stripped him of these assignments.
Bitter Irony

Renaissance Village

Sunrise and Sunset
Baton Rouge, La.

They look for all the world like internment camps. The long rows of identical white trailers sit on flat, grim, barren expanses of land that are enclosed by metal fences. Armed guards are stationed at the entrances around the clock.

More than a year after the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of the poorest victims from New Orleans are still living in these trailer parks run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They have ironic names, like Mount Olive Gardens and Renaissance Village. A more accurate name would be Camp Depression, after the state of mind of most of the residents.

The “parks” are nothing more than vast, dusty, gravel-strewn lots filled with trailers that were designed to be hitched to cars for brief vacations or weekend getaways. The trailers, about 200 square feet each, were never meant to serve as homes for entire families. But in these FEMA parks, it’s common for families of five or six, or even more, to be jammed into one trailer.

I stood outside a trailer at the Mount Olive encampment on Monday afternoon, talking with Geraldine Craig and her 21-year-old daughter, Danielle Craig. The women, who have been unable to find jobs, seemed baffled and depleted by their long ordeal. As we talked, Danielle’s 2-year-old son, Javonta, scampered around in the dust and gravel.

Danielle’s daughter, Miracle, was 5 months old when Katrina struck. The baby was ill and receiving oxygen when it became clear that the family had to evacuate. “The doctors were taking care of her and she couldn’t hardly breathe,” Danielle said. “After we left we ended up in a shelter, and I said that my baby needed oxygen but they told us we had to wait.

“They finally sent us to a medical building and they put her on oxygen for about two hours, but the doctor said there was nothing wrong with her.”

Like so many thousands of others left destitute and all but despondent by Katrina, the family moved on — to Texas, back to Louisiana, eventually to Baton Rouge. It was too much for Miracle, who never got the proper medical treatment. She died last March. Her heart disease wasn’t accurately diagnosed until an autopsy was performed.

“I felt like it was my fault,” said Danielle. “I’m still depressed.”

When I asked if she’d been treated for depression, she shook her head.

“That baby was one of the many victims of the storm who were never officially counted as such,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children’s Health Fund, which has been providing medical and mental health services to children in the FEMA parks.

Dr. Redlener, a professor at Columbia University and the author of “Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do,” said he was outraged that so many thousands of the poorest victims of Hurricane Katrina are still stuck in limbo — unable to find jobs or permanent housing, denied adequate medical and educational services and with no idea when, or if, they will be able to return to New Orleans.

“The recovery of this catastrophe in the gulf has been as badly mangled by the government as the initial response,” he said. “Fifteen months have gone by and you still have these thousands of people who in essence are either American refugees living in other states who have no idea what’s going to happen to them, or they are living in these trailer camps, or in isolated trailers on their old property, which has been destroyed. They’re just waiting for something to happen. And the wait is interminable.”

Geraldine Craig said: “We just recently went down to New Orleans and they got nothing going yet, not in our neighborhood. So we’re going to be here for a while.”

The residents of Mount Olive Gardens and the even larger trailer camp at Renaissance Village in nearby Baker, La., face challenges that seem almost insurmountable. Even minimum-wage jobs are very difficult to find and difficult to get to because there is little public transportation. Many of the residents are elderly, or disabled, or illiterate. Some are mentally handicapped.

These are encampments of profound stress and sadness.

As I was telling Geraldine and Danielle Craig goodbye, and wishing them the best for the coming holidays, Danielle shyly handed me a photograph of her daughter. At the top was written, “Miracle Breyonne Craig.” At the bottom: “Sunrise: 3-19-05. Sunset: 3-10-06.”

Also on the subject of bitter irony, Oyster has some thoughts about Dollar Bill's reelection.
Spare $100 Billion for War?
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Once again, the "new way forward" for Shrub harkens back to his same, tired old formula--breaking out his begging bowl, just like he did in his businessman days, looking for suckers sufficiently impressed by his name...and willing to underwrite his incompetence:

President George W. Bush will soon seek about $100 billion in additional emergency funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report on Wednesday by Democratic staffers for two key panels in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Such a large request would mark a rapid escalation in the cost of the Iraq war at a time when public support is plummeting and Bush is looking for new answers to stem violence that threatens to spin out of control.

In a broad report criticizing Republicans' fiscal decisions, Democratic staffers on the House Appropriations Committee and House Budget Committee also noted that Congress already had appropriated about $379 billion for the war in Iraq...

The emergency funds, which likely would be submitted by Bush to Congress in early February, would be in addition to $70 billion already approved for the two wars in the current fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1...

The $100 billion, if submitted and approved by Congress next year, would be in addition to the record $447 billion the Pentagon is receiving this fiscal year for all military operations.

The House Democrats' report, titled "The Republican Legacy: Bad Budgeting Creates Burdens For Years To Come," said that despite significant increases in the Pentagon's budget, "The war in Iraq has left the U.S. Army's readiness at its lowest level in decades."

"Republicans have spent years handing out billions upon billions of dollars in tax cuts to millionaires while shortchanging our national priorities," said Democratic Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

"It is going to take us years to get back on track."

The report, co-authored by aides to Democratic Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, criticized the administration for resorting to emergency spending requests to finance the war instead of budgeting for it on a longer-term basis.

"The administration often does not submit supplemental requests until well after the Army needs the funding to pay for ongoing operations," the report stated. "As a result, the Army is forced to delay certain activities, such as maintenance of equipment, until supplemental appropriations are approved."

The White House has defended its use of emergency funding requests, saying it is too difficult to project future war costs in time for annual budget submissions to Congress. It also says it does not want to build such big costs into the Pentagon budget for fear that military brass will come to expect the added funding even after the war ends.

Oh, THAT'S the reason, eh?

Team Bush can't ever take responsibility, but insists on blaming someone else. It's literally government by pre-teens...
A Few Years of Difference

Back then it was "Mission Accomplished," "the United States and our allies have prevailed," and "Bring 'em on."

Times sure have changed:

President Bush, just now at the Pentagon (emphasis added):

"I thank these men who wear our uniform for a very candid and fruitful discussion about how to secure this country and how to win a war that we now find ourselves in."

h/t Attaturk.

And, courtesy of Dependable Renegade:

we're going to give [the military] the tools necessary to succeed and a strategy to help [them] succeed.


Worst. Preznut. Ever.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Two Sides, But Only One Coin

Zero might be giving it a little too much value.

I keep seeing the internet headline that Bush "won't be rushed" on Iraq...but has anyone noticed he won't so much as be bothered with the Gulf Coast?

It takes a special level of shallow and callow to double-down on disaster like this...

How pathetic? This pathetic:

Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.

CNN goes even further, saying that King Abdullah "read the riot act" to the dick, um, I mean Dick.

Either way, this underscores the literal chicken-running-around-with-its-head-cut-off Team Bush Middle Eastern policy: You've got the neo-con slavish devotion to Israel...then you've got Saudi Arabia treating us like incompetent hired help, i.e., they summon Big Time to tell him in no uncertain terms that while it might not be possible to unshit the bed, he'd better keep at it with his bucket and sponge (well, he'd better have HIS servants keep at it) until THEY say so.

As for the interests of, oh, I don't know, the UNITED STATES?!!? Neither Dick nor Shrub seems to really be all that concerned...hell, Shrub's been on an "I'm the 21st Century Harry Truman" kick/tantrum, when he hasn't been lamenting his permanantly tarnished legacy...which he insists, ruefully, will only be polished to a fine spit-shine "once he's dead." Aw, poor baby.

Don't worry about leaving behind any shine-kit, Shrub. Tarnish that bad don't even come out with a mix of hydrochloric acid, Lava soap, and Goop hand gel...
New Way Forward In Circles

Ah, a delay in the "new way forward." I guess "hard work"'s gotta take a back seat to, you know, ballgames and holiday parties, etc.

Of course, it's really hard work for a lot of people who DON'T get to wait things out until 2007. In fact, some of them won't even SEE 2007.

But, then again, what do you expect from someone who'd joke about a lie that's caused a six-figure death count...

"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Chairman Shrub

Does this mean Condi's in the Gang of Four?

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed in Washington belief on Tuesday that President George W. Bush will present to the American people "a new way forward" in terms of the Iraq war.

Hmmm...I guess we can expect additional, say, "To get stuck in a quagmire is glorious."