Friday, February 17, 2006

Mission Accomplished

From the jungles and rainforests of Central America...

to the Mesopotamian Desert.

John Negroponte must be awfully proud:

U.S. and Iraqi authorities discovered an apparent death squad operating within the country's Interior Ministry last month when Iraqi troops prevented a group of highway patrol officers from killing a Sunni Arab man the officers had arrested, an American military spokesman said Thursday.

Then again, maybe he's a little upset--they got caught.

The story goes on to say the American military wants to make 2006 in Iraq "the year of the police."

I wonder what's arabic for "La mano blanco"?
Some Folks, You Just Can't Reach


Thanks to Jeffrey. Another link of his is slightly more uplifting...well, in a NOLA kind of way.
Friday House Blogging

Shifting gears for a second, this Advocate editorial lets me pretend to be young AND post a pic of Michael's manor:

While it’s important that city centers be improved, as Baton Rouge is making strides in downtown, the areas just outside downtowns are part of the CEOs for Cities study.

Baton Rouge leaders don’t have to look far for ideas about how to build on early successes in downtown. There are studies about ways to improve Old South Baton Rouge, the area between downtown and LSU, and the midcity area out Government Street.

These require a push. Urbanism is by its nature more complex than throwing up a subdivision on a green field far from anywhere.

One of the virtues of the hard work of urbanism is that it builds upon infrastructure already in place — the street grid, the sewers, fiber optic lines — so that the taxpayer or utility ratepayers don’t have to subsidize sprawl.

And as the CEOs for Cities report indicates, many young people are willing to be the urban pioneers in and around downtown Baton Rouge.

It’s an issue for the city’s economic future, and by city in this instance we mean the entire metropolitan area that orbits the city’s center. “Metro areas with vital centers will fare better in attracting talented young adults,” the CEOs for Cities report said.

If we want to keep our talented young people from LSU and Southern at home, we ought to pay some attention to providing the urban life that the study said many of them desire for their futures.

I'm definitely in the downtown for the young part, well, guess I can pretend not to notice my thinning--and graying--hairline.

Here's to "new urbanism," even if it's Red Stick.
Protecting the American People by Outsourcing

Suspect Device has the article, Think Progress has additional bullet points:

The Bush administration has outsourced the operation of six of the nation’s largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country with troubling ties to international terrorism. The $6.8 billion sale would mean that the state-controlled Dubai Ports World would control “the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.”

Some facts about the UAE:

– The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

– The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.

– According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.

– After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts.

I suppose "glass-half-full" types might point out that if New Orleans gets hit with another major hurricane, maybe Team Bush can be persuaded it's really a terrorist attack. After all, Shrub will probably be on yet another vacation-from-his-vacation...and the rest of the administration won't be paying attention either.
Public Relations

Rumsfeld stands before the newly renamed "Implements of Freedom and Democratic Compliance"

Looks like Big Time isn't the only one hitting the sauce these days:

The United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Friday.

Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.

Gee, Don--I wonder what on earth gave them such a negative, um, image? (no pun intended).

Rummy then threatened to show those gathered just exactly how messy freedom could be...
From the Producers of Law and Order, Criminal Intent

Update (with a hat tip to Attaturk for some of the descriptives):
In the one-party, um, two-party political system, it's the function of the opposition, as well as the co-equal branches of government, to provide checks and balances and guard against foolish, arrogant, vindictive, war-mongering, dangerous psychopaths seeking to exploit horrible tragedies for political gain. But that's not happening. Instead, we see the triumph of the Mayberry Machiavellis, the Texass Mafia, and Big Time Dick Cheney. And Arthur's willing to "make it all go away."
These are their stories.

I'd say "coming this fall on NBC"...but it's been shoved down our throats since 01/20/2001.

Can't take credit for the pic--a big thanks to the person who DID put it together.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

If You Can't Stand the Heat...

Cheney is "in a state of meltdown," according to this story FDL linked to. Guess I'll shed a crocodile tear or two for "poor old Dick."

On second thought, maybe not. The hell with 'im.

Like a lawyer friend of mine told me last night: if it'd been anyone else, you can be damn sure the police investigation would've been a LOT more thorough, a LOT more prosecutorial, and a LOT LESS sympathetic to the perpetrator. At a minimum, you'd be looking at something like reckless endangerment, REGARDLESS of whether or not the accident occured on private property.

I'm guessing the breathalyzer would've quickly been put to use as well. One beer--yeah, right.

As for me, I consider Dick's little Texas adventure to be pretty much a metaphor for the entire administration to date: shoddy or no preparation, arrogance, bumbling, inattention, incompetence...and shoot first before you even know what you're aiming at. Way to go...Dick.
"And Cheney, You're Doing a Heckuva Job"

The Boy Chimp stands by his man.

I guess it isn't all that surprising. This, for example is how they define success in Iraq:

The gunfight by the Tigris River was over. It was time to retrieve the bodies.
Staff Sgt. Cortez Powell looked at the shredded jaw of a dead man whom he'd shot in the face when insurgents ambushed an American patrol in a blind of reeds. Powell's M4 assault rifle had jammed, so he'd grabbed the pump-action shotgun that he kept slung over his shoulders and pulled the trigger.

Five other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division scrambled down, pulled two of the insurgents' bodies from the reeds and dragged them through the mud.
"Strap those motherf-----s to the hood like a deer," said Staff Sgt. James Robinson, 25, of Hughes, Ark.

The soldiers heaved the two bodies onto the hood of a Humvee and tied them down with a cord. The dead insurgents' legs and arms flapped in the air as the Humvee rumbled along.

Iraqi families stood in front of the surrounding houses. They watched the corpses ride by and glared at the American soldiers.

Fifteen months earlier, when the 1st Infantry Division sent some 5,000 Iraqi and U.S. soldiers to retake Samarra from Sunni Muslim insurgents, it was a test of the American occupation's ability not only to pacify but also to rebuild a part of Iraq dominated by the country's minority Sunnis.

More than a year later, American troops still are battling insurgents in Samarra. Bloodshed is destroying the city and driving a wedge between the Iraqis who live there and the U.S. troops who are trying to keep order.

Violence, police corruption and the blurry lines of guerrilla warfare are clouding any hopes of victory.

"It's apocalyptic out there. Life has definitely gotten worse for" Iraqis, said Maj. Curtis Strange, 36, of Mobile, Ala., who works with Iraqi troops in Samarra. "You see Samarra and you almost want to build a new city and move all these people there."

Soldiers such as Sgt. Powell desperately want to reach out to the community, but they're mired in daily skirmishes. Residents have fled, and a 7-mile-long, 5-foot-high earthen wall that U.S. soldiers built around the city last August has failed to keep out the insurgents.

Many of the American troops who patrol the city say they don't see much hope for Samarra. Some officers privately worry that the city will fall to insurgents as American troops withdraw...

Specialist Michael Pena, a beefy 21-year-old from Port Isabel, Texas...opened fire. Boom-boom-boom. Boom-boom-boom.

Call and his men dashed out the front door. Pena had shot an unarmed Iraqi man on the street. The man had walked past the signs that mark the 200-yard "disable zone" that surrounds the Alamo and into the 100-yard "kill zone" around the base. The Army had forced the residents of the block to leave the houses last year to create the security perimeter.

American units in Iraq usually fire warning shots. The Rakkasans don't.

A few days later, Call said his brigade command had told him, "The Rakkasans don't do warning shots." A warning shot in the vernacular of the Rakkasans, Call said, was a bullet that hit one Iraqi man while others could see.

"That's how you warn his buddy, is to pop him in the face with a kill shot?" Call said incredulously. "But what about when his buddy comes back with another guy ... that and the other 15 guys in his family who you've made terrorists?"

Looking at the man splayed on the ground, Call turned to his medic, Specialist Patrick McCreery, and asked, "What the f--- was he doing?"

McCreery didn't answer. The man's internal organs were hanging out of his side, and his blood was pouring across the ground. He was conscious and groaning. His eyelids hung halfway closed.

"What ... did they shoot him with?" McCreery asked, sweat beginning to show on his brow. "Did someone call a ... ambulance?"

The call to prayer was starting at a mosque down the street. The words "Allahu Akbar" - God is great - wafted down from a minaret's speakers.
The man looked up at the sky as he heard the words. He repeated the phrase "Ya Allah. Ya Allah. Ya Allah." Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.

He looked at McCreery and raised his finger toward the house in front of him.

"This my house," he said in broken English.

McCreery reached down. With his hands cupped, he shoved the man's organs back into his body and held them in place as Call unwrapped a bandage to put around the hole.

"He's fading, he's fading," McCreery shouted.

Looking into the dying man's eyes, the medic said, "Haji, haji, look at me," using the honorific title reserved for older Muslim men who presumably have gone on Hajj - pilgrimage - to Mecca.

"Why? Why?" asked the man, his eyes beginning to close.

"Haji, I don't know," said McCreery, sweat pouring down his face.

An Iraqi ambulance pulled up and the Humvees followed. They followed the man to the hospital they'd raided a few days earlier. The soldiers filed in and watched as the man died.

Call said nothing. McCreery, a 35-year-old former foundry worker from Levering, Mich., walked toward a wall, alone. He looked at the dead man for a moment and wiped tears from his eyes.

A few days later, Call's commander asked him to take pictures of the entrails left by the man Pena had shot, identified as Wissam Abbas, age 31, to document that Abbas was inside the sign warning of deadly force.

McHenry, who was driving, told him, "There's not going to be much left, sir. The dogs will have eaten all of it."

Pena was up on the schoolhouse roof manning the same .50-caliber machine gun. He didn't say a word about the man he'd killed. As he stared at a patch of earth in front of him, at Samarra and its wreckage, he couldn't contain his frustration.

"No one told me why I'm putting my life on the line in Samarra, and you know why they didn't?" Pena asked. "Because there is no f------ reason."

And we also know how they define success here at home: the Gulf Coast.
Personal Responsibility

I'll be spending the afternoon sobering up before calling the cops, um, actually dealing with some stuff here. Might just take a couple of hours, but it might be longer. Back then.

I'm the one who pulled the trigger booted the server...

Bob Herbert on Deadeye Dick:

Mr. Vice President, It's Time to Go

It's time for Dick Cheney to step down — for the sake of the country and for the sake of the Bush administration.

Mr. Cheney's bumbling conduct at the upscale Armstrong Ranch in South Texas seemed hilarious at first. But when we learned that Harry Whittington had suffered a mild heart attack after being shot by the vice president in a hunting accident, it became clear that a more sober assessment of the fiasco at the ranch and, inevitably, Mr. Cheney's controversial and even bizarre behavior as vice president was in order.

There's a reason Dick Cheney is obsessive about shunning the spotlight. His record is not the kind you want to hold up for intense scrutiny.

More than anyone else, he was fanatical about massaging and distorting the intelligence that plunged us into the flaming quagmire of Iraq. He insisted that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons and was hot on the trail of nukes. He pounded away at the false suggestion that Iraq was somehow linked to Al Qaeda. And he spread the word that the war he wanted so badly would be a cakewalk.

"I really do believe," he told Tim Russert, "that we will be greeted as liberators."

Well, he got his war. And while the nation's brave young soldiers and marines were bouncing around Iraq in shamefully vulnerable Humvees and other vehicles, dodging bullets, bombs and improvised explosive devices, Mr. Cheney (a gold-medal winner in the acquisition of wartime deferments) felt perfectly comfortable packing his fancy 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun and heading off to Texas with a covey of fat cats to shoot quail.

Matters went haywire, of course, when he shot Mr. Whittington instead.
That was the moment when the legend of the tough, hawkish, take-no-prisoners vice president began morphing into the less-than-heroic image of a reckless, scowling incompetent who mistook his buddy for a bird.

This story is never going away. Harry Whittington is Dick Cheney's Monica. When Mr. Whittington dies (hopefully many years from now, and from natural causes), he will be remembered as the hunting companion who was shot by the vice president of the United States. This tale will stick to Mr. Cheney like Krazy Glue, and that's bad news for the Bush administration.

The shooting and Mr. Cheney's highhanded behavior in its immediate aftermath fit perfectly with the stereotype of him as a powerful but dangerous figure who is viewed by many as a dark force within the administration. He doesn't even give lip service to the idea of transparency in his public or private life. This is the man who fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his White House meetings with energy industry honchos as secret as the Manhattan Project. (Along the way he went duck hunting at a private camp in rural Louisiana with Justice Antonin Scalia.)
This is also the man whose closest and most trusted aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice as a result of the investigation into the outing of a C.I.A. undercover operative, Valerie Wilson.

Mr. Cheney is arrogant, defiant and at times blatantly vulgar. He once told Senator Patrick Leahy to perform a crude act upon himself.

A vice president who insists on writing his own rules, who shudders at the very idea of transparency in government, whose judgment on crucial policy issues has been as wildly off the mark (and infinitely more tragic) as his actions in Texas over the weekend, and who has now become an object of relentless ridicule, cannot by any reasonable measure be thought of as an asset to the nation or to the president he serves.

The Bush administration would benefit from new thinking and new perspectives on the war in Iraq, the potential threat from Iran, the nation's readiness to cope with another terror attack, the development of a comprehensive energy policy and other important issues.

President Bush's approval ratings have dropped below 40 percent in recent polls. Even Republicans are openly criticizing the administration's conduct of the war, its response to Hurricane Katrina and assorted other failures and debacles.

Dick Cheney is a constant reminder of those things the White House would most like to forget: the bullying, the intelligence failures, the inability to pacify Iraq, the misuse of classified information and the breathtaking incompetence that seems to be spread throughout the administration.

Mr. Cheney would do his nation and his president a service by packing his bags and heading back to Wyoming. He's become a joke. But not a funny one.
The Pasha of Kenedy County

Big Time "regrets" shooting a man in the face...said something like "you can't blame anyone else," which I guess means the focus groups didn't really go for "it's Whittington's fault for getting in the way."

But that sure didn't stop Dick from pouring a cocktail, eating a sumptuous dinner...and deciding when he can issue fiats and edicts:

Vice President Dick Cheney says he has the power to declassify government secrets, raising the possibility that he authorized his former chief of staff to pass along sensitive prewar data on Iraq to reporters.

Cheney coupled his statement in a TV interview Wednesday with an endorsement of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his ex-aide. Libby is under indictment on charges of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about disclosing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

"Scooter is entitled to the presumption of innocence," Cheney told Fox News Channel. "He is a great guy. I worked with him for a long time. I have tremendous regard for him. I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case, and it is therefore inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case."

Cheney then invited Patrick Fitzgerald to accompany him on his next hunting trip.

OK, I made that up. About Fitzgerald, that is. The part about edicts and fiats, no.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

When Chickenhaws Squawk

The clothes make the chicken--bwak!

So, Big Time's finally decided it WAS time to fess up...haven't seen any of the footage, but Firedoglake notes several things, including Dick's demeanor: somber and sober (unlike his condition on Saturday)...but somewhat distant (no "New Dick" here).

What I find amazing is Dick's expressions of anguish. Wonder if he's ever so much as given a thought about the thousands of people he and Shrub have sent, albeit by proxy, to eternal "freance and peance" guess is on the shy side of nanoseconds.

Meanwhile, in other news, I guess most folks stopping by are aware of a brand new set of Abu Ghraib torture photos available for perusal. You can view them here or here, among other places, and sadly, they are not photoshopped in the sense of making them something other than what they are: a shockingly ugly and despicable sign of how low Team Bush is willing to bring the United States in order to serve their own ugly political agenda.

Well, whaddya expect from drunks with guns?
The List

Best one I've seen so far is from Juan Cole: the Top Ten Ways Iraq is Like Harry Whittington...

And it probably gives away my age (and I'm not getting any younger) but Big Time now has something in common with Claudine Longet.
Strange Thing About History

Sometimes it repeats itself...

Vice President Big Time Burr

Benedict Rove

Sometimes it doesn't...

Smirk Chimp in Chief
First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then...

Goin' Quail Huntin'

Shot in the Face

Let's see...we've got pResident Shrub I guess it's not surprising to find a few more fits (well, kinda) from the movie.

Just be glad I didn't find any photos of the hooker scene, although questions are being asked.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Free--To Have Your House Raided at 2 a.m.

In case you're wondering what it means to be free in Iraq, Riverbend provides us with a reminder.

I wonder if that's the plan Team Bush has for this country, too...
Compare and Contrast

H/T Bring It On and Dependable Renegade...

How is Hurricane Katrina like or not like the Chernobyl disaster?
Glorious News!
(sarcasm alert)

We All Love Big Time Brother

Oil Prices have dropped below $60 dollars a barrel! Doubleplusgood!

Sugar ration's been increased--half kilo a month!

A smashing victory over the forces of Central Asia, um...well, things are certainly smashed. The media just refuses to focus on the good things. Iranians and Syrians sure are a bunch of bastards, eh?

Please don't put the rat cage over my face again...and, um, no, I don't want to go hunting with you, sir...
Guess He's Not a Suitable Donor After All

Harry Whittington had a "minor heart attack..."

Guess that's what they call it after a "minor peppering or spraying" with a pellet shot gun...

Molly Ivins has more on Whittington--who, by Texas standards, is apparently a somewhat decent human being. Which might explain a few things.
Hunt With Dick and Jane Friends
or Dingbat Dick Gets His Gun

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cult of Personality

Well, photoblogger is behaving like regular blogger--a small image upload is taking, oh, only 5 tries per attempt...but at last, Shrubjongil.jpg is "preserved" for posterity...

Anyway, the above pic is in response to the following four posts--here, here, here, and here that both caught my attention this morning and describe, better than I can, the sort of GOP'er mindset prevalent these days: blind fealty to dear leader who spared us from 9/11...well, um, actually, he didn't, even if he and Deadeye Dick Fudd wear what should be a national--and, for them, personal--humiliation like it was a badge of honor...

Oh, and just an aside re: Big Time's bagging of a donor Saturday: do you think Harry Whittington, once recovered, will have the nickname "Daffy" bestowed upon him by His Chimpness? "It's Duck Season, Fire!"

However, I think Big Time's abject stupidity in handling firearms--and the media being all too willing to downplay the story--point to profoundly disturbing, undemocratic, and indeed, anti-American trends...trends that, unfortunately, are becoming all the rage among the punditocracy, the federal government itself, and, to be sure, those cultists who consume in bulk what Ashley Morris rightly calls "Kook-Aid."

These trends help explain, as Peter Daou recently noted, why an Administration where the scandals come so thick it would require multiple large container ships to hold them all continues to smirk its way along. Meanwhile, the destruction of the national treasury is rivaled only by the destruction of Iraq, while along the Gulf Coast, stunning incompetence is paired with an equally stunning utter lack of concern.

And the media, the punditocracy--and the 38 percent of die-hard Bush supporters that they apparently think constitute the body politic--continue to reside in an ever- more-obvious world of their own creation, oblivious to reality. Criticism of ANY type, as Greenwald notes, becomes grounds for labeling, if not libeling.

The ONLY way to describe such group-think is by calling it what it IS: literally, a cult. Cultists are prone to dismiss or ignore obvious failings, or, when convenient, seek scapegoats for affixing blame. Hence, what is for me the VERY obvious failure of Team Bush between 1/21/01 and 9/11/01 to function in the role of "executive," that is, to ascertain potential threats BEFORE they became an ACTUAL threats (despite TONS of warnings and/or evidence) becomes, for the cultists, merely a point in time "without form, a void." The true believers screeched for a war against Iraq, thinking that dear leader was bound to smite on a scale not seen--indeed, when all seemed safely in the bag, a victory prance was organized and arranged for them to express their adulation. This prance had all the subtlety of an old Roman triumph. Of course, in this case, it might as well have been Caligula declaring victory over Neptune.

But the cultist has far too much invested psychologically--so the sheer stupidity of Team Bush's strategery in Iraq is ignored...while blame for this is assigned to...the war's opponents. Shrub and Deadeye have both been fond of stressing this of late.

Likewise, at home, the equally stupid handling of Hurricane Katrina--remember, Shrub was TAKING A VACATION FROM HIS VACATION at this time, mostly because he was too petulant to deal with the very real questions embodied by Cindy Sheehan's vigil--anyway, the ignorant, inept response to a NATIONAL CALAMITY that was so awful that even a partisan GOP committee gave it poor marks--was and will be, for the cultists, the fault of Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin. Nevermind that this was the biggest storm to hit the Gulf Coast since Camille...yet neither the pResident nor V.P. Fudd was even in Washington, much less in a position to work with idiot Brownie. Nevermind that for a NATIONAL CATASTROPHE, which is what Katrina was, there was NO national plan--even though we ALL knew Katrina wasn't a matter of "if," but "when."

Nevermind that a genuine PLAN for evacuating half a million people would, BY NECESSITY, REQUIRE the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT playing an active, if not leading role, utilizing not merely buses, but rail AND air transport--the latter freely available to the federal government in the form of military transports in Texas, Florida, and South Carolina, i.e., in the vicinity of the Gulf Coast (those who whine about buses, usually in conjuction with Blanco and Nagin, reveal not only profound ignorance as to the logistics, but show their inner racism when they CHOOSE to ignore the obvious necessity, in this case, of moving people out of the region BY AIR TRANSPORT, which was done several days later, at much greater cost in lives and money).

Nevermind that obtaining a warrant via FISA is, as far as I can tell, about as easy as falling off a log. Nevermind that NO ONE CAN DOCUMENT A SINGLE INSTANCE where legitimate efforts to go through the FISA procedure resulted in denial by a FISA judge. Nevermind that it's probably a mix and match of sheer incompetence and political data mining behind Team Bush's decision to bypass what is already a pretty clear concession to government in contravention of the 4th Amendment...

And nevermind that if ANY of this had been done by a Democratic Administration, Tweety and the Punditocracy would've been pissing themselves in orgiastic glee. I mean, shit, if V.P. Al Gore had accidently shot his hunting partner--and not bothered to inform the public--Tweety, et al, would be hollering "Almer Fudd" until they were hoarse. If Bill Clinton had decided that he couldn't be bothered with FISA--of if he'd fucked up by invading Iraq, or spent money more lavishly than LBJ in his heyday, do you think they'd all insist that "only a few whackjobs hate him." Jimmy Carter was vilified for a desert fiasco in Central Asia--but HIS desert fiasco didn't kill 2500 soldiers.

Finally, I'll note the Shrub Cult's insistance on defining themselves as "Christian," when NO evidence of such persuasion exists. And, therefore, I will no longer refer to that particular movement as the "Christian Right," since they are neither. They are fundamentalists, yes, but they engage in a weird sort of idol, personality, and money that is decidedly NOT Christian. And their habits are not merely irritating--they are dangerous to the security of the nation.

Jesus would be rolling over in his grave...but Stalin would feel right at home.