Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday History Blogging

A "primary document," that is, an original letter Abraham Lincoln sent to Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, was discovered recently during a routine search through the latter's papers at the National Archives:

The discovery of the letter was made on May 14 as Mr. Plante prepared for the arrival of a film crew working on a Discovery Channel documentary about Gettysburg. Searching in a collection of Halleck’s papers, Mr. Plante spotted the familiar signature.

"I was looking for something else," said Mr. Plante, who specializes in military history. "Frankly, where I found it was in an obscure place," he said, adding, "I was seeing everyday stuff and turned the page, and there was a Lincoln document." in the real Lincoln, not the two-bit, snake-eyed dipshit currently occupying the Oval Office.
Like Looting the Met

More blessings of freedom:

Fly into the American air base of Tallil outside Nasiriya in central Iraq and the flight path is over the great ziggurat of Ur, reputedly the earliest city on earth. Seen from the base in the desert haze or the sand-filled gloom of dusk, the structure is indistinguishable from the mounds of fuel dumps, stores and hangars. Ur is safe within the base compound. But its walls are pockmarked with wartime shrapnel and a blockhouse is being built over an adjacent archaeological site. When the head of Iraq's supposedly sovereign board of antiquities and heritage, Abbas al-Hussaini, tried to inspect the site recently, the Americans refused him access to his own most important monument.

Yesterday Hussaini reported to the British Museum on his struggles to protect his work in a state of anarchy. It was a heart breaking presentation. Under Saddam you were likely to be tortured and shot if you let someone steal an antiquity; in today's Iraq you are likely to be tortured and shot if you don't. The tragic fate of the national museum in Baghdad in April 2003 was as if federal troops had invaded New York city, sacked the police and told the criminal community that the Metropolitan was at their disposal. The local tank commander was told specifically not to protect the museum for a full two weeks after the invasion. Even the Nazis protected the Louvre...

The beautiful Warka vase, carved in 3000BC, was recovered though smashed into 14 pieces. The exquisite Lyre of Ur, the world's most ancient musical instrument, was found badly damaged. Clerics in Sadr City were ingeniously asked to tell wives to refuse to sleep with their husbands if looted objects were not returned, with some success. Nothing could be done about the fire-gutted national library and the loss of five centuries of Ottoman records (and works by Piccasso and Miro). But the message of winning hearts and minds seemed to have got through.

Today the picture is transformed. Donny George fled for his life last August after death threats. The national museum is not open but shut. Nor is it just shut. Its doors are bricked up, it is surrounded by concrete walls and its exhibits are sandbagged. Even the staff cannot get inside. There is no prospect of reopening.

Hussaini confirmed a report two years ago by John Curtis, of the British Museum, on America's conversion of Nebuchadnezzar's great city of Babylon into the hanging gardens of Halliburton. This meant a 150-hectare camp for 2,000 troops. In the process the 2,500-year-old brick pavement to the Ishtar Gate was smashed by tanks and the gate itself damaged. The archaeology-rich subsoil was bulldozed to fill sandbags, and large areas covered in compacted gravel for helipads and car parks. Babylon is being rendered archaeologically barren...

It is abundantly clear that the Americans and British are not protecting Iraq's historic sites. All foreign archaeologists have had to leave. Troops are doing nothing to prevent the "farming" of known antiquities. This is in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention that an occupying army should "use all means within its power" to guard the cultural heritage of a defeated state.

Shortly after the invasion, the British minister Tessa Jowell won plaudits for "pledging" £5m to protect Iraq's antiquities. I can find no one who can tell me where, how or whether this money has been spent. It appears to have been pure spin. Only the British Museum and the British School of Archaeology in Iraq have kept the flag flying. The latter's grant has just been cut, presumably to pay for the Olympics binge.

As long as Britain and America remain in denial over the anarchy they have created in Iraq, they clearly feel they must deny its devastating side-effects. Two million refugees now camping in Jordan and Syria are ignored, since life in Iraq is supposed to be "better than before". Likewise dozens of Iraqis working for the British and thus facing death threats are denied asylum. To grant it would mean the former defence and now home secretary, the bullish John Reid, admitting he was wrong. They will die before he does that.

Though I opposed the invasion I assumed that its outcome would at least be a more civilised environment. Yet Iraq's people are being murdered in droves for want of order. Authority has collapsed. That western civilisation should have been born in so benighted a country as Iraq may seem bad luck. But only now is that birth being refused all guardianship, in defiance of international law. If this is Tony Blair's "values war", then language has lost all meaning. British collusion in such destruction is a scandal that will outlive any passing conflict. And we had the cheek to call the Taliban vandals.
Closed Book

Jeffrey St. Clair reminds us that today's the 40th anniversary of one of the darkest incidents--no pun intended--in US Military/Intelligence Gathering history--the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in the Mediterranean Sea.

So why then did the Israelis attack the Liberty?

A few days before the Six Days War, Israel's Foreign Minister Abba Eban visited Washington to inform LBJ about the forthcoming invasion. Johnson cautioned Eban that the US could not support such an attack.

It's possible, then, that the IDF assumed that the Liberty was spying on the Israeli war plans. Possible, but not likely. Despite the official denials, as Andrew and Leslie Cockburn demonstrate in Dangerous Liaison, at the time of the Six Days War the US and Israel had developed a warm covert relationship. So closely were the two sides working that US intelligence aid certainly helped secure Israel's swift victory. In fact, it's possible that the Liberty had been sent to the region to spy for the IDF.

A somewhat more likely scenario holds that Moshe Dayan wanted to keep the lid on Israel's plan to breach the new cease-fire and invade into Syria to seize the Golan.

It has also been suggested that Dayan ordered the attack on the Liberty with the intent of pinning the blame on the Egyptians and thus swinging public and political opinion in the United States solidly behind the Israelis. Of course, for this plan to work, the Liberty had to be destroyed and its crew killed.

There's another factor. The Liberty was positioned just off the coast from the town of El Arish. In fact, Ennes and others had used the town's mosque tower to fix the location of the ship along the otherwise featureless desert shoreline. The IDF had seized El Arish and had used the airport there as a prisoner of war camp. On the very day the Liberty was attacked, the IDF was in the process of executing as many as 1,000 Palestinian and Egyptian POWs, a war crime that they surely wanted to conceal from prying eyes. According to Gabriel Bron, now an Israeli reporter, who witnessed part of the massacre as a soldier: "The Egyptian prisoners of war were ordered to dig pits and then army police shot them to death."

The bigger question is why the US government would participate so enthusiastically in the cover-up of a war crime against its own sailors. Well, the Pentagon has never been slow to hide its own incompetence. And there's plenty of that in the Liberty affair: bungled communications, refusal to provide an escort, situating the defenseless Liberty too close to a raging battle, the inability to intervene in the attack and the inexcusably long time it took to reach the battered ship and its wounded.

That's par for the course. But something else was going on that would only come to light later. Through most of the 1960s, the US congress had imposed a ban on the sale of arms to both Israel and Jordan. But at the time of the Liberty attack, the Pentagon (and its allies in the White House and on the Hill) was seeking to have this proscription overturned. The top brass certainly knew that any evidence of a deliberate attack on a US Navy ship by the IDF would scuttle their plans. So they hushed it up.

In January 1968, the arms embargo on Israel was lifted and the sale of American weapons began to flow. By 1971, Israel was buying $600 million of American-made weapons a year. Two years later the purchases topped $3 billion. Almost overnight, Israel had become the largest buyer of US-made arms and aircraft.

Perversely, then, the IDF's strike on the Liberty served to weld the US and Israel together, in a kind of political and military embrace. Now, every time the IDF attacks defenseless villages in Gaza and the West Bank with F-16s and Apache helicopters, the Palestinians quite rightly see the bloody assaults as a joint operation, with the Pentagon as a hidden partner.
Can't Be Bothered

From First Draft, more Team Bush ineptitude:

The federal judge who unsealed a whistle-blower case last month about insurance companies allegedly overbilling the National Flood Insurance Program is demanding that the U.S. Department of Justice get involved in the case or explain itself.

The unusual move comes from U.S. District Judge Peter Beer, who unsealed a case in which a group of former insurance adjusters say that they have collected evidence that insurance companies have defrauded taxpayers by overbilling the federal flood program while underpaying claims for Hurricane Katrina wind damage to save the companies money.

So much for looking out for the taxpayers...
Your National Media

June 8, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Lies, Sighs and Politics
In Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney completely misrepresented how we ended up in Iraq. Later, Mike Huckabee mistakenly claimed that it was Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

Guess which remark The Washington Post identified as the "gaffe of the night"?

Folks, this is serious. If early campaign reporting is any guide, the bad media habits that helped install the worst president ever in the White House haven’t changed a bit.

You may not remember the presidential debate of Oct. 3, 2000, or how it was covered, but you should. It was one of the worst moments in an election marked by news media failure as serious, in its way, as the later failure to question Bush administration claims about Iraq.

Throughout that debate, George W. Bush made blatantly misleading statements, including some outright lies--for example, when he declared of his tax cut that "the vast majority of the help goes to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder." That should have told us, right then and there, that he was not a man to be trusted.

But few news reports pointed out the lie. Instead, many news analysts chose to critique the candidates’ acting skills. Al Gore was declared the loser because he sighed and rolled his eyes--failing to conceal his justified disgust at Mr. Bush’s dishonesty. And that’s how Mr. Bush got within chad-and-butterfly range of the presidency.

Now fast forward to last Tuesday. Asked whether we should have invaded Iraq, Mr. Romney said that war could only have been avoided if Saddam "had opened up his country to I.A.E.A. inspectors, and they’d come in and they’d found that there were no weapons of mass destruction." He dismissed this as an "unreasonable hypothetical."

Except that Saddam did, in fact, allow inspectors in. Remember Hans Blix? When those inspectors failed to find nonexistent W.M.D., Mr. Bush ordered them out so that he could invade. Mr. Romney’s remark should have been the central story in news reports about Tuesday’s debate. But it wasn’t.

There wasn’t anything comparable to Mr. Romney’s rewritten history in the Democratic debate two days earlier, which was altogether on a higher plane. Still, someone should have called Hillary Clinton on her declaration that on health care, "we’re all talking pretty much about the same things." While the other two leading candidates have come out with plans for universal (John Edwards) or near-universal (Barack Obama) health coverage, Mrs. Clinton has so far evaded the issue. But again, this went unmentioned in most reports.

By the way, one reason I want health care specifics from Mrs. Clinton is that she’s received large contributions from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Will that deter her from taking those industries on?

Back to the debate coverage: as far as I can tell, no major news organization did any fact-checking of either debate. And post-debate analyses tended to be horse-race stuff mingled with theater criticism: assessments not of what the candidates said, but of how they "came across."

Thus most analysts declared Mrs. Clinton the winner in her debate, because she did the best job of delivering sound bites--including her Bush-talking-point declaration that we’re safer now than we were on 9/11, a claim her advisers later tried to explain away as not meaning what it seemed to mean.

Similarly, many analysts gave the G.O.P. debate to Rudy Giuliani not because he made sense--he didn’t--but because he sounded tough saying things like, "It’s unthinkable that you would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and be able to fight the war on terror." (Why?)

Look, debates involving 10 people are, inevitably, short on extended discussion. But news organizations should fight the shallowness of the format by providing the facts--not embrace it by reporting on a presidential race as if it were a high-school popularity contest.

For if there’s one thing I hope we’ve learned from the calamity of the last six and a half years, it’s that it matters who becomes president--and that listening to what candidates say about substantive issues offers a much better way to judge potential presidents than superficial character judgments. Mr. Bush’s tax lies, not his surface amiability, were the true guide to how he would govern.

And I don’t know if this country can survive another four years of Bush-quality leadership.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Let ', Hyperventilate

Billions get spent on no-bid government contracts...while real needs are studiously ignored. Call it business as usual for Team Bush:

A hurricane tracking satellite is about to stop working and supporters of a replacement are trying to cobble together the $375 million needed to build and launch another one.

Without a satellite, hurricane forecasting would be 16 percent less accurate 72 hours before a hurricane’s landfall, and 10 percent less accurate within 48 hours, according to Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center.

The satellite QuikSCAT is five years past its projected lifespan, Forecasters and congressmen say that makes it vulnerable to failure.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Rep. Charles "Charlie" Melancon, D-Napoleonville, have introduced companion legislation in the Senate and House calling for the federal government to replace the current satellite about to die.

"It’s crucial that our nation’s hurricane system be first class," Landrieu says in a statement. "With 50 percent of our population living within 50 miles of the coast, residents in these communities — in Louisiana, Florida and across the nation — deserve the best technology available to track impending hurricanes."

In addition to hurricanes, the satellite detects coastal winds, storm surges and other weather-related events, such as "El NiƱo."

"We need more advanced warning of storms and can’t afford to slide backward," Landrieu said. "This requires a long-term solution."

I can think of a good start: handing Team Bush their walking papers.
Sez Joe: It's Just so Hard to Find Good Help These Days

"I mean, I'm only asking 'em to risk their lives, their careers, and their families' well being to for the sake of my president's ego. And my own.

Is that too much to ask?"
Feeding Time at the Hog Farm

It's not like Don Young hasn't already shown many times what a greedy little prick he is...but just in case you needed a refresher:

It is no secret that campaign contributions sometimes lead to lucrative official favors. Rarely, though, are the tradeoffs quite as obvious as in the twisted case of Coconut Road.

The road, a stretch of pavement near Fort Myers, Fla., that touches five golf clubs on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, is the target of a $10 million earmark that appeared mysteriously in a 2006 transportation bill written by Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska.

Mr. Young, who last year steered more than $200 million to a so-called bridge to nowhere reaching 80 people on Gravina Island, Alaska, has no constituents in Florida.

The Republican congressman whose district does include Coconut Road says he did not seek the money. County authorities have twice voted not to use it, until Mr. Young and the district congressman wrote letters warning that a refusal could jeopardize future federal money for the county.

The Coconut Road money is a boon, however, to Daniel J. Aronoff, a real estate developer who helped raise $40,000 for Mr. Young at the nearby Hyatt Coconut Point hotel days before he introduced the measure.

I wonder if he left the $40,000 on the dresser.

Young, is also, according to TPM Muckraker, "roped into" the VECO Corporation investigation, and a top aide of his has already pleaded guilty in the Abramoff scandal.

But like a good Rethuglican, Don knows decorum:

When he was approached near the House floor by a reporter, Mr. Young responded with an obscene gesture.
"The Future, Mr. Gittes--The Future" *

In Los Angeles, DON'T rinse and repeat:

Los Angeles residents were urged on Wednesday to take shorter showers, reduce lawn sprinklers and stop throwing trash in toilets in a bid to cut water usage by 10 percent in the driest year on record.

With downtown Los Angeles seeing a record low of 4 inches of rain since July 2006 -- less than a quarter of normal -- and with a hot, dry summer ahead, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city needed "to change course and conserve water to steer clear of this perfect storm."

It is the driest year since rainfall records began 130 years ago.

More here.

Like I said yesterday, there are risks associated with living...some cities are prone to flood, some are prone to...well, in the case of Los Angeles, name it: mudslides, earthquakes, wildfires...droughts (and, I think floods as well in some parts of the city). A responsible government, run by adults, will take these risks into account and plan/respond accordingly (to be fair, the second link suggests that the city has a decent record when it comes to water conservation). A government of wingnut loons, in contrast, will fall asleep at the wheel and allow sick-minded, twisted individuals to attack us...then exploit the ensuing revulsion to loot the treasury, launch disastrous wars...and let the national infrastructure rot while they hog all the resources.

Some future.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Like a Vulcan Mind Meld, But for Dipshits

It really is a race to the bottom of the stupid pit for the GOP, ain't it:

Mitt Romney threw another big ol' history rewrite not even five minutes into the show when he was asked if he'd support attacking Iraq knowing what we all know now.
"Well, the question is, kind of, a non sequitur, if you will. What I mean by that--or a null set--that is that if you're saying let's turn back the clock and Saddam Hussein had opening up his country to IAEA inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction, had Saddam Hussein therefore not violated United Nations resolutions, we wouldn't be in the conflict we're in.

"But he didn't do those things, and we knew what we knew at the point we made the decision to get in."

Hoffmania goes on to cite the truth re: the inspectors, for those of us in the reality based community.

Meanwhile, a Tiny Revolution, citing Andrew Cockburn, notes an ugly truth about the hyperbole surrounding Iraq and WMD that tends to get glossed over by pretty much everyone...becuase, in addition to making Team Bush look like cynical dipshits--what else is new?--it casts Team Clinton in a less than flattering and cynical light. It's well worth looking at.

Actually, what continues to amaze me is the gullibility of the media re: WMD, specifically chemical weapons. It's as if they've never noticed or otherwise seen a chemical plant in their lives. Note to the media: chemical plants aren't small. They're big, ugly, and easily detectable. And, without them, you can't produce chemical weapons. Geez.
"Washington X-Ray"

Rick Perlstein looks through the window "official" Washington opened on itself re: Scooter's Goin' to the Pokey.

Personally , I find the Libby letters fascinating, an unmatched window into that most baffling of questions for ordinary citizens: how Washington thinks, especially, but not exclusively, its rightward precincts.

Of course, it's fascinating to see Henry Kissinger's name invoked as any kind of reliable witness, character as otherwise. But that's been a Washington disease for decades...

Similar verbal mobius strips are on offer from our friend Richard Perle...And James Woolsey...Or...Douglas Feith...And Alan Simpson: "all of this is so totally inconsistent with the basic attributes and the reputation of the man I know."

It's just, like, magic: a man who had never acted a certain way in his life, just suddenly started acting that certain way. Inscrutable indeed. It's easier to understand, even to respect, the cronyist buncombe say, of a Paul Wolfowitz: "He rarely talks about his motivation, but it is clear to me that it is in the noblest spirit of selfless service," "Despite some of the malicious gossip about him, I also know that Mr. Libby is one of the least partisan individuals you will find in Washington," yada yada yada. At least the only sin there is bathos...

John Bolton's letter is fascinating - an insiderish version of the kind of terrorist scare mongering that issues from Karl Rove's shop. He gives an intricate history of this dangerous world we live in and all the Bush administration initiatives to keep it at bat ("The attacks of September 11, shattering as they were, would be as nothing compared to a terrorist attack successfully using nuclear chemical or biological weapon. [ed. note: a lot of these guys apparently don't have comma keys on their, or their secretaries', computers]... Retaliation after the fact, however massive, could never bring back the innocent dead.... Preventing or defending against the use of these weapons has a small margin of risk, especially for those who are the potential targets. As the leader of one terrorist group once said to a Western leader: 'you have to get it right every time. We only have to get it right once.'"

Then the payoff: "In the face of all these demands, keeping every detail straight is impossible."

So there it is: yes, maybe he perjured himself. But only because he was so busy protecting us Armageddon. Don't you, dear judge, want us protected from Armageddon? (A bonus: that bit about "those who are the potential targets." In other words, Libby did all this heroic work for the American people with an al Queda bull's eye painted on his back!! What's a little obstruction of justice compared to that??)

Check out, too, the conservative victimology: "Harriet and Scooter Libby are both deeply loving parents and the suffering of their children has been a torture for them both"; "Despite some of the malicious gossip about him..."

There's interesting stuff, too, about a facet of the conservative thought-system I'll be writing more about in the future. I call the "Innocence Machine." It's in Doug Feith's letter, when he says "Scooter stood out in the government as a person of deeply philosophical outlook and humane principles... In these discussions, Scooter showed an admirable concern for preserving civil liberties." That's the classic conservative move (George Will made it last week in a highly defensive column defending conservatism): no matter what bad things conservatives might do, the only fair way to judge them is the "philosophy" they claim to clutch to their heart.

What's missing from every single one - every one: a single forthright statement about the magnitude of the offense for which he'd already been convicted.

Oh, another thing: as Joseph Wilson has noted, not a single administration official has ever so much as offered an apology to his wife for effectively ruining her 20 year career...not to mention having literally put her life and the lives of her loved ones in jeopardy.
Pig Spotting

A Rethuglican--well, Michael Bloomberg--chose NOT to overdramatize the threat of terrorism, but instead, sought to put it in proper context: yes, a threat, yes, something to take seriously, but no, not something to obsess on to the the point of literally pushing everything else beyond the event horizon.

"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life. You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist."

There's much more worth reading here, here and here.

Professional hysterics, residing as they do in the land of lunatic wingnuttia--and their minions of amateur rock throwers--pretend they're the only "serious" ones re: the threat of terrorism (while, interestingly, they willingly attach themselves to the highest flights of fantasy when it comes to "making Iraq a democracy")...meanwhile, even as they shout about the sky falling down because someone wants to take a blowtorch to the Brooklyn Bridge--and even as Team Bush shovels million dollar no-bid contracts to their political cronies as a consequence--life, with all its challenges, goes on.

Rudy Giuliani exploits 9/11 like a teenage Asian prostitute as he shamelessly prances across the country. But most Americans face dangers OTHER than terrorist attack, and he knows it. So too does every other person with more than a few functioning brain cells.

Hell, there's hardly a town of any size in this country that lacks a neighborhood where the average person would last maybe twenty minutes without being assaulted or worse. There are probably plenty of lunatics around who wouldn't mind assaulting you--or worse--for all sorts of dumb reasons, ranging from them not liking the grin on your face to being angry that you can afford a $75 dollar pair of tennis shoes to them being furious that you cut them off in traffic.

Add to that the people who don't want to kill you...but might end up doing so through sheer that nutjob taking on his cell phone and changing out the porno DVD...while racing his goddamned Hummer down I-10 during rush hour. Or his comrade in arms, the guy huffing a spraypaint and gasoline mixture from behind the wheel of his semi.

And that doesn't even take into account legitimate accidents, which can also leave you Then, like Bloomberg notes, you've got things like diseases, genetic or contagious.

Or maybe, you've got a federal levee system that fails during a storm. Or perhaps there's a slow acting but smoldering, grinding fury just waiting for a spark to set off a conflagration.

In other words, life is a struggle, and life has risks. And we--as individuals AND as a society--should act like adults, take the risks into account, and respond APPROPRIATELY. Life is both too short, and is too serious, to engage in the sort of ugly fearmongering that truly is definitive of the modern GOP.

Except, I guess, in the case of Bloomberg (some guy named Atrios uses this to suggest that Mike doesn't have a future in Rethuglican leadership. I think he might be right). Meanwhile, I'm gonna keep my eyes open lest I get whacked upside the head by a flying hogzilla.
Spark, Meet Powder Keg

If this gets out of hand, things could go from Mess O' Potamia to Even More Hellish Mess in a real hurry:

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Operation Stumblebum

It really is just kind of sad and pathetic more than anything else:

Bush insists Cold War is over

"Russia is not our enemy," Bush emphasized as relations between Washington and Moscow fell deeper into an icy chill with Putin's threat to retarget rockets at Europe.

In a swift turn of events, China joined Russia in criticizing the U.S. anti-missile system. Then, Bush faulted both Russia and China for their troubled records on democracy.
Iraqi Class of '07: "Get Us Out of Here. Please."

The blessings of freedom:

Cheated of Future, Iraqi Graduates Want to Flee

They started college just before or after the American invasion with dreams of new friends and parties, brilliant teachers and advanced degrees that would lead to stellar jobs, marriage and children. Success seemed well within their grasp.

Four years later, Iraq’s college graduates are ending their studies shattered and eager to leave the country. In interviews with more than 30 students from seven universities, all but four said they hoped to flee immediately after receiving their degrees. Many said they did not expect Iraq to stabilize for at least a decade.

"I used to dream about getting a Ph.D., participating in international conferences, belonging to a team that discovered cures for diseases like AIDS, leaving my fingerprint on medicine," said Hasan Tariq Khaldoon, 24, a pharmacy student in Mosul, in the north. "Now all these dreams have evaporated."

Karar Alaa, 25, a medical student at Babil University, south of Baghdad, said, "Staying here is like committing suicide."

Maybe some of the wingnut crowd would like to experience first hand the blessings of freedom. I'd be willing to bet that in exchange for fully paid tuition, most entrance requirements would be waived.
A Modest Proposal

Leahy on the Guantanamo dismissals (from Think Progress)

“Every time this Administration has been called upon to create a workable and fair system, it responded by seeking to remove judicial review and discretion and narrow the procedures even further. I hope this time the Administration will work with us to create a better system. The place to start is by restoring the hallmark of justice known as the Great Writ of habeas corpus so that there will be a check by an independent court to guarantee that basic safeguards and the rule of law are followed. That will also begin the process of restoring America’s reputation for justice around the world.”

And my own reaction is--why doesn't the Bush administration just DO ITS DAMN JOB? I mean, Jesus H. Christ, have you ever seen a bigger group of whiners than Team Bush? They shouldn't have the first problem using legal and accepted procedures to pursure suspects, arrest them, gather evidence, and properly try them. I mean, c'mon--we're talking about terrorists here, not people who may or may not have spat on a sidewalk.

Of course, that's a rhetorical point. The Bush administration asserts and demands the right to behave lawlessly not because it's difficult to catch terrorists otherwise...but because they're a goddamned gang of crooks. Plain, pure, and simple. And they know it.

The only real question is how long-lasting of a stain will this obscenity of an administration leave on the body politic...
Scooter's Fitzmas Stocking...

...Held a lump of coal.

While an orange jumpsuit awaited under the tree.

Meanwhile, in the non-reality based community, reaction ranged. Team Bush continued to stonewall despite the fact that it's no longer an ongoing investigation...while, and no, I'm not making this up, others asked for leniency based on his, um, "wartime" service...that is, his outstanding record of bravely staffing his desk, um, I mean, his post, during the Cold War and Gulf War I.

I always wondered why Those Dirty Commies/Saddam/Eurasians/East Asians never dared to invade DC.

Monday, June 04, 2007

In Other News

Fox Noise announces they'd like to offer pay-television in "Colored Waiting Areas" nationwide.
Dennis "Oliver" Milligan

Please, sir...

Once is not enough for Arkansas Republican Party Chairman Dennis Milligan:

At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [September 11]...

I'm guessing Mulligan, um, Milligan is already steeling himself at the thought of losing 3,000, oops, make that 2,500 citizens and a big ol' yawn when it comes to the furrners (and it's also just a guess, but I doubt Milligan cares two bits about them might-as-well-be-furrners...they-were-mostly-nigras-anyway down in New Orleans).

Sacrificing peace of hard work. But if anyone's up to the task, it's gotta be Dennis Milligan.
Laundered Bill

You know, I hope Dollar Bill benefits, just as every other citizen should, from all the guarantees and protections the Constitution and statutes, and his elective office provide in his upcoming trial...of course, his position, salary, and whatnot will go a long way towards hiring the kind of counsel who can actually level the playing field that way.

I'm even hoping for a speedy trial, so he can clue ALL of us in on the "honorable explanation" that's supposed to be forthcoming re: the cold cash.

But what's utterly UNFORGIVABLE has been his insistence on remaining in office at a time when, even in the very unlikely event he might "beat the rap," the mere appearance of impropriety should have been quite enough reason to do right thing and RESIGN. The LAST thing New Orleans needed for the past 20 months was a Representative who, on the face of things, seemed to embody the region's reputation for corruption. Hell, that reputation is at least one reason why he won his election (See the Oyster-Adrastos Theory). Mr. Jefferson had the opportunity to step aside in the interests of his city and region. He chose to look out for Numero Uno, and to hell with everything else.

What's genuinely sad is that, as best as I can tell (I never followed his career that closely, and I've got my own creep congresscritter to keep an eye on)...anyway, as best as I can tell, Mr. Jefferson is truly a rags-to-riches case of someone who, at least at the beginning, overcame long odds and succeeded on his merits. Now, quite honestly, it hardly matters whether or not he's actually guilty of the charges against him...history will judge him as a selfish bastard.

Well, Mr. Jefferson, you made your bed...
Seven Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter Foiling a Terrorist Attack

From Alternet:

1. In order to foil a terrorist plot, you must first find a terrorist plot. This is not easy.

2. Not just anyone can find and then foil a terrorist plot. You must have an incentive. The best incentive is to be an accused felon, looking at a long prison term. Under such circumstances, your lawyer will explain to you, you may be able to reduce your sentence by acting as an informant in a criminal case, preferably one involving terrorists.

3. The fact that you do not know any actual terrorists should not in any way deter you. Necessity is the mother of invention: if you can find the right raw material -- a sad, sick, lonely, drunk, deranged, disgruntled or just plain anti-American Muslim somewhere in the United States -- you can make your very own terrorist.

Note: Or you can wait until Team Bush abandons another major American city. Or hey, what the hell? Just prowl around a washroom with crappy towels. Bolshevism is soooooo last century....

4. Now the good part begins. Money! The FBI will give you lots of money to take your very own terrorist out to lots of dinners where you, wearing a wire, can record yourself making recommendations to him about possible targets and weapons that might be used in the impending terrorist attack that your very own terrorist is going to mastermind, with your help. It will even buy you a computer so you can go to Google Earth in order to show your very own terrorist a "top secret" aerial image of the target you have suggested.

5. More money!! The FBI will give you even more money to travel to foreign countries with your very own terrorist, and it will make suggestions about terrorist groups you can meet while in said foreign countries.

6. Months and even years will pass in this fashion, while you essentially get the FBI to pay for everything you do. (Incidentally, be sure your lawyer negotiates your expense account well in advance, or you may be forced -- as the informant was in the Buffalo terrorist case -- to protest your inadequate remuneration by setting yourself on fire in front of the White House.)

7. At a certain point, something will go wrong. You may have trouble recruiting other people to collaborate with your very own terrorist, who is, as you yourself know, just an ordinary guy in a really bad mood. Or, alternatively, the terrorist cell you have carefully cobbled together may malfunction and fail to move forward -- probably as a result of sheer incompetence or of simply not having been genuinely serious about the acts of terrorism you were urging it to commit. At this point, you may worry that the FBI is going to realize that there isn't much of a terrorist plot going on here at all, just a case of entrapment. Do not despair: the FBI is way ahead of you. The FBI knows perfectly well what's going on. The FBI has as much at stake as you do. So before it can be obvious to the world that there's no case, the FBI will arrest your very own terrorist, hold a press conference and announce that a huge terrorist plot has been foiled. It will of course be forced to admit that this plot did not proceed beyond the pre-planning stage, that no actual weapons or money were involved, and that the plot itself was "not technically feasible," but that will not stop the story from becoming a front-page episode all over America and, within hours, boilerplate for all the Republican politicians who believe that you need to arrest a "homegrown" terrorist now and then to justify the continuing war in Iraq. Everyone will be happy, except for the schmuck you shmikeled into becoming a terrorist, and no one really cares about him anyway.

So congratulations. You have foiled a terrorist plot. Way to go.

Of course, this strategery is void re: real live actual terrorist plots. Like with federal floods and natural disasters, you're on your own...though under the proper circumstances, Rudy Giuliani might grandstand on your death or suffering.
This Myth Is Officially...Busted

But, then again, what did anyone expect? Surge is the ultimate proverbial--and perverse--band-aid on a severed limb...and, unfortunately, that's not a figurative allusion.

Watching the latest in group-think denial is genuinely sick. The ONLY thing left in the "war," at least from a U.S. point of view, is how many more military deaths will we accept before we pull up stakes and get out. That's it.

As for who might create order out of the chaos Team Bush unleashed like an out of control oil-well blaze...well, again, like Bill Lind said, Sadr might be the the best of a bad, bad situation.