Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday "Art" Blogging
(no, not Ted "Art" Haggard)

A senior U.S. general compared Iraq on Thursday to a "work of art" in progress, saying it was too soon to judge the outcome and playing down violence and friction with Iraqi leaders as "speed bumps" on the road.

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"A lump of clay,
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can become a sculpture,
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blobs of paint
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become paintings
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which inspire."
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"Every great work of art goes through messy phases
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while it is in transition."
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"The transition is not always a pleasant thing to watch as it happens,
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but when common goals are achieved,
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speed bumps,
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and differences of opinion along the way
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are soon forgotten."
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Cap, But No Gown
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Alan Richmond makes it clear that ignorance is, for him, no impediment. Thanks to Ashley Morris for the links.

I suppose if I'd actually read Richmond's GQ piece (evidently not available online), I'd be more than a little, um, steamed:

[Richmond] was displeased, for instance, with his trout amandine meunière at Galatoire's because "it looked and tasted fried." Although the traditional French preparation of meunière calls for the fish to be sautéed, it is still a little like dissing tuna sashimi for being raw, as Galatoire's has been serving trout amandine meunière fried for better than a century.

And the fact that he decided that NOW was the time to loudly dis the city speaks volumes about his character--he sounds like the kind of person who'd kick an animal that had just been (deliberately) hit by a car.
Common Sense Versus the Clown Show
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Well, maybe there is a God, and perhaps she's gonna show us a bit of mercy after all...

The manufactured Kerry non-"controversy" has fallen by the wayside, in favor of another fallen GOOP'er, this time evangelical Ted Haggard, who claims he was "tempted," but vehemently denies having tasted any, um, ripe fruit (hmmm, if only Adam had thought of that, instead of blaming "the girl," but Genesis presumably harkens back to "a simpler time")...Well, I guess "the dog ate my homework" isn't, to go back to another simpler time, "operative" under the circumstances.

But, you know, all the dirty sexual laundry cluttering the political utility room really is just a sideshow. The GOP ballbreaker, of course, is Enduring Clusterfuck, where the Rove/Shrub Ship of State has broken apart on Reality Reef--and no amount of clever stage managing will convince anyone that a little bit of bailing is all that's needed.

That's not to say they won't try, and Cap'n Shrub himself has been seen staggering along certain areas of the deck, occasionally rearranging a chair or two, or, more often, alternately insisting that the (eye)rock they crashed into wasn't all THAT bad...while chiding the crew for thinking that the ship is, well, going down.

Now, why would anyone think that?

U.S. officer describes disarray in Iraqi army

In an assessment for a military journal, a U.S. Army officer who advised Iraqi troops concludes the goal of having Iraq control its security "will exceed" the new army's capability "for some time to come."

In an article for Military Review, Lt. Col. Carl D. Grunow wrote that "without steadfast American support, these officers and soldiers will likely give up and consider the entire effort a lost cause."

Congress Tells Auditor in Iraq to Close Office

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

As Bechtel Goes By PAUL KRUGMAN

Bechtel, the giant engineering company, is leaving Iraq. Its mission — to rebuild power, water and sewage plants — wasn’t accomplished: Baghdad received less than six hours a day of electricity last month, and much of Iraq’s population lives with untreated sewage and without clean water. But Bechtel, having received $2.3 billion of taxpayers’ money and having lost the lives of 52 employees, has come to the end of its last government contract.

As Bechtel goes, so goes the whole reconstruction effort. Whatever our leaders may say about their determination to stay the course complete the mission, when it comes to rebuilding Iraq they’ve already cut and run. The $21 billion allocated for reconstruction over the last three years has been spent, much of it on security rather than its intended purpose, and there’s no more money in the pipeline.

The failure of reconstruction in Iraq raises three questions. First, how much did that failure contribute to the overall failure of the war? Second, how was it that America, the great can-do nation, in this case couldn’t and didn’t? Finally, if we’ve given up on rebuilding Iraq, what are our troops dying for?

That's just a couple of examples, for argument's sake. If you REALLY want the ever more depressing details, Juan Cole and Today in Iraq are a daily dose of grim.

But, more significant to me, is that we tend, contrary to Shrub's assertion re: "violence on the teevee screens," to see very little footage coming out of Iraq...and that's because, well, it's simply too dangerous for reporters to go out and get the story.

Think about it: if Iraq was even just moderately bad, Team Bush would be prancing about...well, like a certain boy chimperor on an aircraft carrier back in May of 2003. Instead, we get news of "unannounced visits" after the fact...because an "announced" visitor wouldn't exactly be greeted with flowers, candies...or as "liberators" now, would they, Messrs. Cheney...and Wolfowitz?

Aside from the sheer difficulties in collecting and reporting, we've got the added bonus of an administration cloaking itself in ever more layers of secrecy and classification (except for when it suits them to give away the trade secrets...nice) know, if I was a Democrat, I'd counter Shrub's whining about Democrats "having no plan" with a forceful insistence that THEY open the records...because how the hell can you have a plan if you're unable to determine the facts on the ground? But that's just me, I guess.

However, despite the veil over Mesopotamia, both by design and circumstance, I think the public is becoming ever more aware of the unfolding disaster: too many young men and women are coming home either horribly mangled--or in coffins--the news that DOES manage to make it out isn't exactly uplifting (the impending verdict for Saddam Hussein, conveniently scheduled for November 5th notwithstanding...hmmm, you know, I'd bet that Shrub would personally pull the trigger--and have it broadcast on HDTV--if Rove thought it'd help 'em keep control for two more years), and THEN you can add in all the other elements of clown rule: the Ted Haggert/Mark Foley soap operas...their UTTER incompetence down here along the Gulf Coast (again, I'm surprised and more than a little angry that THIS issue has received so little fact, I'd surmise that the general public likely knows LESS about the disaster down here than the one overseas), the sheer arrogance (rules--like the freaking CONSTITUTION--don't apply to THEM)...etc. etc. etc.

Or, at least you can hope that the public is fed up with...the hype. And that they'll hold the ones who created the mess accountable...
The "Enabler"
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Well, lets all give a big shout out to loose lipped Team Bush--and their dingbat chorus of symps-- for again placing ultra short-term political interests above long term national security:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet” to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.”

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked” at the public disclosures...

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,” said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.”

The government had received earlier warnings about the contents of the Web site. Last spring, after the site began posting old Iraqi documents about chemical weapons, United Nations arms-control officials in New York won the withdrawal of a report that gave information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.

The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents — most of them in Arabic — would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.

As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might say: "Team Bush--and wingnuts--you DA MAN!"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Flying Low
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Brother, can you spare $50 billion?

The U.S. Air Force is asking the Pentagon's leadership for a staggering $50 billion in emergency funding for fiscal 2007 -- an amount equal to nearly half its annual budget, defense analyst Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said on Tuesday.

The request is expected to draw criticism on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are increasingly worried about the huge sums being sought "off budget" to fund wars, escaping the more rigorous congressional oversight of regular budgets.

Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thompson, who has close ties to U.S. military officials, said the big funding request was fueled by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. England told the services in a October 25 memo to include the "longer war on terror," not just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in their emergency requests.

"This amount of money is so much bigger than the Air Force would normally request ... it hints at a basic breakdown in the process for planning and funding war costs," said Thompson.

He said the Air Force had identified $30 billion just in past war-related costs that were not approved by the Pentagon.

The Air Force's proposed emergency budget is nearly half the $105.9 billion it requested as its total base budget for fiscal year 2007, which began on October 1.

Tell me--how Team Bush is "strong" on defense again?
Mission Accomplished
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Well, maybe this is what Team Bush means when they say we're 'making progress:'

U.S. firm Bechtel wraps up Iraqi rebuilding efforts

San Francisco-based engineering and contracting firm completes its final job after spending three years rebuilding Iraq, collecting $2.3B in government contracts.

Engineering and construction firm Bechtel Group Inc. is leaving Iraq after spending three years rebuilding the war-torn country that netted the company roughly $2.3 billion in government contracts...

After all, what's a few, um, THOUSAND dead soldiers, a few TENS of THOUSAND wounded soldiers...and a few HUNDREDS of THOUSAND Iraqi deaths, when you're talking about a few BILLION dollars?

I guess to Bechtel, that must be the cost of doing business. And to them, other people's blood isn't such a terrible expense.
What Else Can You Call It...
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...when you give not just a free ride, but an all-expenses paid vacation, complete with luxury accomodations (not to mention a get-out-of-jail-free card) to a gang of petty thugs who couldn't effectively run a condom concession at a whorehouse...and then pile up on the undead corpse of not just John Kerry, model 2004, but also his once-breathing, backbone equipped alter-ego of some 30 plus odd years ago?

I'm sure everyone has either seen or read the transcript of Keith Olbermann's latest commentary, so I'll only touch briefly on some of the more obvious examples of Team Bush verbal diarrhea--the sick jokes about WMD, Cheney's F-bomb, Cheney's other brain-dead utterances ("greated as liberators," "reconstituted nuclear weapons," "last throes," etc.), virtually anything and everything Donald Rumsfeld has ever said...

They've spat on the Constitution, played politics with a level of cynicism that virtually has no precedent, gutted the military (see Billmon for more), practiced cronyism on a level not seen since the mid-to-late 19th century...and, when not worshipping Mammon, try to play God.

And the dim bulbs in the national press corpse (sic) lap it all up like kittens at the mother of all milk bowls.

Notice how this barely gets any traction? Or this? George Allen's pleasant little brownshirts merit mention only because Mike Stark is (gasp)...a blogger (meaning, in journalese, he must've brought it upon himself).

Nero's supposed fiddling while Rome burned was at least a mere solo act. These days it seems like the powers that be, and their lackeys in the press are doing their best rendition of Handel's Messiah.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sid Senator & Nancy
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Walcott warns GOP'ers like George Allen as to the risks of aping punk rockers:

Republican poseurs such as Allen and the aspiring stranglers in his party are mimicking this late decadent phase of punk, not its early sonic idealism and adventure. I just hope one of them doesn't overdo the rough stuff and leave a dead body behind in the hotel room some night. Let Sid and Nanch be a cautionary tale to those Republican lawmakers looking to go a couple rounds with the next woman within fondling range...
Over There, Over Here
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Another terror color code...

Hmmm...considering how the terror alerts seesawed during the 2004 election season HERE, I'd say the Mesopotamian model is a bit understated...not quite chaos?

Judge for yourself.

Meanwhile, Bubble Boy continues to do what he does best--demonstrate a vacuum's basic principles:
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There's every reason to throw this administration out on their ear--or at least send them a shit-sandwich, special delivery--for the way they've thoroughly, and perhaps permanently, made a big old mess out of Mesopotamia (with an even bigger mess potentially on the horizon)...but I'll repeat something I said yesterday, especially since Pravda on the Hudson managed to take a break from the story of the moment (what John Kerry did or didn't mean), and instead looked at the counterbalance to Debacle Iraq, that is, Debacle, United this instance, a quick glance at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans:

John McDonogh High School has at least 25 security guards, at the entrance, up the stairs and outside classes. The school has a metal detector, four police officers and four police cruisers on the sidewalk.

In the last six weeks, students at McDonogh, the largest functioning high school here, have assaulted guards, a teacher and a police officer. A guard and a teacher were beaten so badly that they were hospitalized.

The surge hints at a far-reaching phenomenon after Hurricane Katrina, educators here say. Teenagers in the city are living alone or with older siblings or relatives, separated by hundreds of miles from their displaced parents. Dozens of McDonogh students fend largely for themselves, school officials say.

Oh, and while Shrubleroy alternately lies about Democrats, or what John Kerry meant, or waxes Kumbaya about a "democratic" Iraq that now has about as much chance of eventually happening as Shrub personally shitting 24 carat gold bricks in the Rose Garden to pay the cost of Enduring Clusterfuck, it's more than a little "interesting" (to use one of his favorite words) that the US Gulf Coast is curiously absent from his speechifying...and it's more than a little interesting to watch the dwindling base try to justify abandonment of a major American city/entire region of this nation.

Over there, virtually no expense is spared...well, except the cost of actually keeping the army fed and adequately equipped (funny how that goes). Over here, the level of whining and moaning about the geographic suitability of the Gulf Coast for habitation--by people who've never so much as set foot here--would provide enough hot air to heat the Northeast come this winter, if they could figure out a way to bottle it (note: they can't, they won't, and, as they have for a century, they'll be relying on Gulf Coast production for a substantial portion of their energy needs).

What a bunch of pathetic do-nothings. Their forebears ought to be ashamed...

OK, to fully move the topic to domestic matters, specifically this region, yesterday I was musing about coastal restoration, Cat 5 protection for NOLA, and so on (inspired in part by this beautiful, but ominous photo posted by Oyster)...and it hit me: you know what? It's not like the original development that CAUSED coastal erosion just "happened." The levees didn't build themselves, the canals and shipping channels didn't dig themselves. These massive projects were done by people. People with far more primitive technology than that which we possess. People who, yes, either didn't plan, or didn't know how to plan, or made the wrong plans/compromises re: long term considerations...but who nonetheless accomplished epic tasks.

This generation could likewise accomplish--or at least begin--the modern equivalent, i.e., correcting the mistakes...but instead there's a whole contingent who throw up their hands, bitch, whine, moan, and otherwise act like little children being asked, for the very first time, to tidy up their room.


Come to think of it, maybe we should challenge these whining, bitching, moaning numbnuts to show a little consistency: if coastal restoration is too hard, then why is it ok to throw money away in the Iraqi desert? In fact, why should we embark on ANY large project? Roads turn to why bother to grade or pave them? Houses eventually fall down, so why bother building them? Crops require constant tending, fertilizer, and so on...and even then a fair amount of produce rots before reaching the market...then you've got topsoil depletion, runoff, etc.... so let's just give it up (besides, it's an "unnatural" use of the land anyway). Yeah, just give it all up, move back into caves, resume a hunter gatherer lifestyle...and hope evolution personally looks upon you kindly.

And, damn...I haven't even mentioned regions like Tornado Alley, the Rust Belt, the Pacific Ring of Fire, and so on, which, as we all know, have risks associated with habitation. But the biggest risk of all, it seems...are people who cringe and cower, then bitch and moan...which, come to think of it, is their classic response to both domestic AND international issues (i.e., Shrub's 'terrorists might be in your backyard' campaign).

Calling them "pathetic" is actually being generous, come to think of it.

Back to back conferences today...I'll be out of the loop until at least 2 or 3pm...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And You're Gonna Trust This Clown to Fight a War...
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Todd J. Gillman writes in the Dallas Morning News: "If someone had bet a year ago that the president, eight days before Election Day, would devote half a day to rallying Republicans in a House district held for two decades by Tom DeLay, the best minds in both parties might have scoffed.

"But there was Mr. Bush on Monday afternoon at the Sugar Land Municipal Airport, prodding thousands of screaming partisans to vote for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the congressional candidate whose name the party couldn't even get on the ballot."

Gillman writes that "with his approval rating percentage in the mid-30s, options have dwindled for places he might make a positive difference. Sugar Land made the cut, and that suited Democrats just fine."

And who was allowed in? "Access to the rallies was tightly controlled. County GOP officials offered tickets to people who volunteered to make phone calls or do door-to-door campaigning this weekend."

As for the order of the day in Sugar Land, Gillman writes: "Mr. Bush offered a tutorial at Monday's rally -- and bungled it. 'If you want to send Shelley to the United States Congress,' he instructed, 'you're going to have to take a pencil into the ballot box.'

"In fact, pencils aren't an option. New electronic voting machines will be used throughout the district, and many Republicans fear she won't collect her full share of support because of the tedious and unfamiliar way voters would have to dial in her unwieldy name, letter by letter."
Puppets...and Puppetmasters
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Well, looks like Team Bush policy is to ask "how high" when Moqtada Al Sadr, relaying the message through lackey Nouri al-Maliki, demands that they jump:

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Maliki ordered that the security cordon be lifted hours after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a civil disobedience campaign in Sadr City to protest the blockade, which the U.S. military launched Wednesday in an effort to find an abducted U.S. soldier and capture a purported Iraqi death squad leader...

Precisely at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), the deadline set by Maliki, U.S. armored personnel carriers pulled away from the roadblocks. Young men in pickup trucks drove through the streets waving banners of the Mahdi Army, and drivers of other vehicles honked their horns in celebration.

In Bushspeak, "support the troops" must mean "you're on your own and we can't be bothered." Meanwhile, William S. Lind speculates on what might happen if Act III of this ongoing tragedy unfolds as they've, um "planned" (as if Team Bush and "plan" could actually be put together in a sentence.
If They Took a Lower Road, It'd Be the Subway

The stage managed case of the vapors by yer GOP over John Kerry's remarks is, well, pathetic when you consider that barely two years ago they were proudly donning Purple Heart Bandaids...
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(I just couldn't bring myself to post the picture of that doddering old bat from the GOP convention...and besides, I think a good use of an otherwise disgusting accoutrement would be to shut Tony Snow's claptrap nice and tight).

Anyway...back to the latest GOP hissy fit: I'll defer once again to WIIIAI. On a related issue--Big Time bemoaning the "lack of civility" on the part of Democratic politicians--he said, "That's like the pot telling the kettle to go fuck itself."
Getting a Little Nervous, I Guess...
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I'm not really a Wonkette reader, but hey, credit where credit's due:

Spotted on 10/19, by an eagle-eyed Wonkette reader: The Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck making its way up to the Cheney compound at the Naval Observatory.

Fun fact: Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services has been contracted by the Secret Service for our Executive Branch’s record-not-keeping needs.

The present contractor providing Pickup & Destruction of Sensitive Waste Material services is Mid Atlantic Shredding Services and the current rate is $0.095 cents per lbs.

You better get crackin’, Dick — that evidence won’t destroy itself!

Funny enough, right around October 19th a story came out about the 20th anniversary of the revelation of the Iran/Contra scandal (actually, the exact date will be November 3rd). David Addington, Big Time's current chief of staff, wrote the GOP minority report on Iran/Contra.

Might explain both the attitude re: an Imperial Presidency...and the appearance of a shredding company at Dick's bunker...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Shrub: "I've Got a Plan..."
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Well, not exactly--you see, what Shrub's actually doing is trying to foist the blame for Operation Debacle in the Desert on the Democrats...because they supposedly don't have a plan. And he "does."

Here are some of the details:

It had been almost a year since I was in the Iraqi capital, where I worked as a reporter in the days of Saddam Hussein, the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, and the occupation, guerrilla war and religious resurgence that followed. On my return, it was difficult to grasp how atomized and violent the 1,250-year-old city has become. Even on the worst days, I had always found Baghdad's most redeeming quality to be its resilience, a tenacious refusal among people I met over three years to surrender to the chaos unleashed when the Americans arrived. That resilience is gone, overwhelmed by civil war, anarchy or whatever term could possibly fit. Baghdad now is convulsed by hatred, paralyzed by suspicion; fear has forced many to leave. Carnage its rhythm and despair its mantra, the capital, it seems, no longer embraces life.

"A city of ghosts," a friend told me, her tone almost funereal.

And here's an example of a "pacified" Iraqi town:

There is a police station in Yarmouk but the police are holed up inside, powerless to intervene, because the insurgents are better armed. The best way to bribe a policeman these days is with bullets; they stop expensive cars and where once they demanded money, they now want ammunition. Last week 18 policemen were killed in a Sunni ambush in Khan Bani Sa’ad, 20 miles north of Baghdad, because they had run out of bullets.

Over HERE, is it just me, or have others noticed that the debacle on the Gulf Coast, aka, Team Bush's response to 2005's hurricane season--and the flood of New Orleans--has been swept under the proverbial rug? Even the online Pic ignored it in an op-ed today. This at-home reflection of the incompetence that brought us the "New Iraq" is as damming a testimony to Team Bush incompetence as their casual dismissal of the daily death toll over there.

You don't reward that sort of incompetence and stupidity--you show it the door.
Ah, Youth
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The attractive young women pictured above look like they could be typical US college students studying dance...or at least that's what I thought when viewing the slideshow. But instead, their lives have been turned upside down, no pun intended, by the chaos of "Mission Accomplished:"

In today’s Iraq, with conservative religious parties and radical militias exerting growing influence over every aspect of life, even dancing is an act of bravery.

“Society is overwhelmed by these religious ideologies,” said Tariq Ibrahim, a male dancer in the Baghdad troupe, the Iraqi National Folklore Group. “Now a woman on the street without a head scarf attracts attention. What about a woman onstage dancing?”

Together they are a band of 10 women and 15 men from varied religious backgrounds. Once they toured the world together. Today they are simply trying to survive, hoping one day to thrive again as a troupe. But the religiosity sweeping Iraq does not bode well for their future.

Female participation in folk dancing is considered haram, or forbidden, in Islam. Ayatollah al-Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq, has issued strict guidelines against dancing in various situations. The country’s Shiite-led government, the dancers said, is naturally trying to marginalize them.

“Religion in its essence does not match with art,” said Fouad Thanoon, the group’s director and lead choreographer. “So when religion and government come together, that will affect art very much.”

The group has more immediate worries about extremists. Recently one of its members, Bushra Yousif, 21, a petite woman with delicate features who has been with the group for six years, received a note at home warning her to leave within 48 hours. A bullet was included in the envelope.

She was probably singled out because of her profession, she said, but she will continue to attend rehearsals every day. She loves dancing too much, she said describing it as the highest form of art to “deliver a message through your body.”

The entire article briefly chronicles the history of the Group, which, despite the thuggery of Saddam Hussein, managed to survive and, at times, even thrive. Now, thanks to Operation Enduring Clusterfuck, the very concept of "the arts" might well become a thing of the past in Mesopotamia...and, for the artists themselves, mere survival is a dicey, deadly game.

And yet there are some numbnuts who think we've been too "soft" in the course of the them, every person in the region is "the enemy," and must be dealt with accordingly, even to the point of using nuclear weapons. To snuff out the lives of...pretty young women.
Gun Show!
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All Sales Final...Cash 'n Carry...NO Spare Parts.

Actually, NOT Cash 'n Carry...more like Crazy George and Crazy Rummy's blow out--no pun intended--final extravaganza: They're GIVING 'em away:

The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded...

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

In a written response to the inspector general’s findings, the American military largely conceded the shortcomings. The military said it would assist the Iraqis in determining the spare parts and maintenance requirements for the weapons. The military also said it has now instituted a “process to accurately issue weapons by quantity and serial number listing.”

Because the inspector general is charged only with looking at weaponry financed directly by the American taxpayer, the total of lost weapons could end up being higher. The Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon inspector general are expected to look at weapons financed by all sources, including the Iraqi government...

...the American military was not able to say how many Iraqi logistics personnel it had trained — in this case because, the military told the inspector general, a computer network crash erased records. Those problems have occurred even though the United States has spent $133 million on the weapons program and $666 million on Iraqi logistics capabilities.

Billmon calls it "Abbot and Costello Join the Army." My own take relates to something I think I first saw over at YRHT: what do you expect? DOD can't even audit its spending, so who knows where the money's going?