Friday, June 15, 2007

"Currently Residing in the 'Where Are They Now' File"

Radar Online catches us up on the now-forgotten "Coalition of the Willing."
What--No Case of the Vapors?

Joe 'n Mudcat can't wag their finger enough when it comes to admonishing the "incivility" of the librul blogosphere/netroots...but I don't see any criticism of the little slugs who comprise Michael Weiner's segment of wingnuttia:

Last week, right-wing radio host Michael Savage was presented a Freedom of Speech award at Talkers Magazine’s annual New Media Seminar. C-SPAN, which aired portions of the two-day event, chose to not air Savage’s acceptance speech because the conservative talker only appeared in a pre-recorded DVD speech.

Savage is now claiming he is a victim of censorship. Repeatedly attacking C-SPAN this week as "fascists" and modern versions of the "brownshirt movement in Hitler’s Germany," Savage encouraged his listeners to call and email CSPAN about their supposed "blacklisting" of his speech.

On Washington Journal this morning, host and C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb read aloud some of the emails he has received from alleged listeners of Savage’s show. The emails defending Savage are filled with personal attacks, referring to Lamb as an "ass loser Communist," "pervert," "bed-wetting commie," and worse.

In a related post, Hullabaloo touches similar trends re: the left being held to utterly different and decidedly unfair standards relative to wingnuttia...which tends to be reinforcing: the left is CONSTANTLY placed on the defensive, even as the neo-con movement is virtually alone in being responsible for the mother of all fuck ups that is the federal government since 2001.
Nouvelle Orleans

Well, it is an international city:

The cash-strapped city of New Orleans is turning to foreign countries for help to rebuild as federal hurricane-recovery dollars remain slow to flow.
Kenya Smith, director of intergovernmental relations for Mayor Ray Nagin, said city leaders are talking with more than five countries. He wouldn't identify the countries, saying discussions were in the early stages. But he said the city is "very serious" about pursuing foreign help.

"Of course, we would love to have all the resources we need from federal and state partners, but we're comfortable now in having to be creative," Smith said. He did not know if the city would have to overcome any obstacles if it got firm pledges for aid, but "we want to make sure we're leaving no options unexplored."

For months Nagin has complained bureaucracy is choking the flow of much-needed federal aid dollars to New Orleans - slowing the city's recovery. As of June 8, the city said it had received just over half of the $320 million FEMA has obligated for rebuilding city infrastructure and emergency response-related costs. The city has estimated its damage at far more than that - at least $1 billion. And that doesn't include other improvements - such as raised neighborhoods - meant to help build the stronger city promoted by Nagin and his recovery director.

Discussions with foreign representatives have been occurring off and on since the storm, but Smith said the city became re-engaged after a news report in April that millions of dollars in aid offered by foreign countries after Hurricane Katrina went unaccepted.

It wasn't clear how much of the $854 million in aid originally offered remained on the table. In Katrina's wake, Cuban President Fidel Castro's proposal to send more than 1,000 medical personnel to New Orleans was among the offers of aid.

The federal government accepted about $126 million from foreign sources and encouraged some countries to give instead to private groups such as the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told a congressional committee last month.

Nagin said city officials are now trying to skirt the Bush administration and contact foreign governments directly "to see if we can get some of those dollars coming here."

Separately, Adam Sharp, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said Landrieu is working with the government of Saudi Arabi on ways it can help restore New Orleans' City Park.

In addition, Landrieu joined Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in asking Rice to respond to whether the United States is better positioned now to accept foreign aid should the need arise again.

Hmmm...something tells me we'd see state of the art Cat-5 hurricane protection, plus viable, comprehensive plans to reverse coastal erosion...AND high speed rail...before any of Castro's doctors disembark in the Crescent City (personally, I'd take the help--after all, it's not like Fidel has ANYTHING on the Saudis, but I'm not the one deciding, nor do I reside in the city, so...)...anyway, everything else would not only be a step in the right direction, but would underscore the federal governments embarrassingly inept and pitiful efforts. It might also provide another spark of hope...even as New Orleans defies the odds and moves forward, albeit painfully slow.

Aside: the other night I saw something called Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. The show's been in the Gret Stet before, and this most recent episode focused first on people gutting houses, then on folks working in pest control. If you happen to catch the show, I'd recommend it, if only to note the surprisingly confident--hell, indomitable--attitudes. Far from embodying any wingnut stereotype, the people featured were actively working--and working hard--to make things better...while more than once making typically Gret Stet promises of those small but essential celebrations that come at the end of a hard day: good food and drink, plus warm, pleasant company. No wonder the shrieking wingnut harpies don't get it.

They're torn trying to decide if it's worth it to crawl out of their parents' basement today...
Don't Grumble, Give a Whistle *

General Patreus must be a "glass-half-full-of-blood" kind of guy:

When Gen. David Petraeus drives through the streets of Iraq's capital, he sees "astonishing signs of normalcy" in half, perhaps two-thirds of Baghdad.

As Bill Hicks once said (in character as Officer Koon) re: the Rodney King tape: "It all depends on how you look at it...for instance, if you look at it backwards, we're helping him on his feet and sending him on his way."

With that in mind...

I'd bet General Patreus would call this "three-fourths normalcy." Shoot, compared to what you might find at a British soccer/football match, it looks kind of serene.

"Vision half-normal."

Half-wounded? Nah--half-healthy!

Half-bombed...but half-standing.

Yeah, it's all in how you look at it. Like with the Army. Some say it's half broken, but I'd bet General Patreus thinks it's half-fixed.
(note: the first picture is Photoshopped, but the others weren't retouched in any way.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sticking Around

Agent Orange is still horribly maiming and killing in Vietnam, over thirty years after the war ended. Indeed, many victims are young children...not exactly "enemy combatants," nor willing participants...

I suppose some elements of wingnuttia would, if pressed, consider them "collateral damage," while your more vicious 'nuts would resort to statements ranging from crude to cruel (and that's being diplomatic).

Makes you wonder what it'll be like in Iraq. After all, it's not like there aren't numerous examples of lingering DU effects from Gulf War I and the subsequent decade-long bombing campaign. In fact, if you're not squeamish, you can look up "dioxin," "Agent Orange," "Depleted Uranium," or variations on those, and see all sorts of horrific examples of...our tax dollars at work, unfortunately.

Well, if nothing else, such things make an absolute mockery out of any pro-war arguments centered on so-called "concern" for the Iraqi people. As things stand, the war has merely substituted one set of murders for another--hardly an improvement. Dumping poisons and toxins for some long-term maiming and suffering doesn't help either...
He's in the Shit, Maaaan...

Tony Snow reveals his man crush insists Shrub is "on the front lines [of the Iraq War] everyday:"

Q: Are there any members of the Bush family or this administration in this war?

SNOW: Yeah, the President. The President is in the war every day.

You know, what's kind of pathetic is that I can actually picture Bush in the White House basement, playing/digging in a sand box, wearing his little flight-suit costume, thinking the exact same thing.
Point of Comparison, Part II

Bird-Like Dinosaur

Bird-Brained President

Jail Bird.

Let's hope this is the start of a trend...a trend fully earned by this administration of crooks.
Peppermint Patty Lounge Jesus

I'm not sure what's weirder: religious nutjobs claiming that red candy cane stripes 'r teh blood o' Jeeeeesus...or the fact that Abu Gonzales's Justice Department thinks said nutjobs can claim discrimination under existing civil rights laws when appraised of their nutjobbery.

In the meantime, I guess we can stash Peppermint Jesus next to the chocolate crucifixes and Testamints.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Neo-Con Clown Posse

Matt Taibbi likens them to an endless line of clowns emerging from a Volkswagen:

The neocons remain a bold presence in the media for a number of reasons. Number one, they still have real political power. Dick Cheney is still the vice president, and the Pentagon is still guided heavily by the neocon-dominated Office of Special Plans (OSP), where the power is now reportedly concentrated in an office called the Iranian Directorate, charged with helping make the case for war with Iran. Amid all the public hand-wringing about a congressional demand for an Iraq withdrawal timeline, Washington is abuzz with rumors that the neocons are loading up for one last historical Hail Mary, a "long bomb" to throw at Tehran before Bush leaves office. The knowledge that they are crazy enough to try something like that makes people in the capital take them seriously.

But beyond that, there just hasn’t been any effort in the media to identify and really make clear the root causes of the Iraq policy failure. In the current Washington mythology – a mythology reflected in public statements of everyone from John McCain to Hillary Clinton – the Iraq War blew up in our faces for logistical reasons, because we didn’t send enough troops, or have a sound occupation plan, or have an “understanding of the insurgency.” It was the right war, wrong execution, wrong defense secretary. The failure had nothing to do with the mistake of placing our bets on a radical revolutionary policy of “pre-emptive invasion,” or with the White House’s authoritarian efforts to castrate the Pentagon and the CIA and replace them with their own intelligence-gathering and policymaking apparatuses.

The neocons may have been proven wrong in the particulars, and to ordinary people their legacy may turn out to be a nightmarish Middle East bloodbath and decades of debt, but in Washington they’re still revered as canny operators who swept two election seasons with a drooling mannequin for a candidate and for years ruled Washington with almost Caligulan abandon. They were idiots in terms of how the world worked, but they understood power in the Beltway better than Nixon, better than Clinton, better really than any White House clan since the Roosevelt years. That’s why they’ll keep getting top billing on talk shows and invites to all the best Washington parties, even if, as seems likely, they leave office 18 months from now with half the planet in flames.

In Washington there is no shame in being wrong; there’s only shame in losing. The neocons were wrong as hell, but they were also winners. That’s why no one should expect them to go away now. That’s especially true since their only real competition in the intellectual arena is the cynical third-way corporatism of the Democratic party, a tenuous and depressing alliance of business interests and New-Deal interest groups whose most persuasive “idea” is that it is not neo-conservatism. The neocons, wrong and stupid as they might be, at least represent a clearly-articulated dream of unchecked greed, power and big-stick foreign conquest that appeals in an elemental way to the dark side of the American psyche. Until America rejects that dream – and don’t hold your breath for that – don’t count on the Boltons and the Perles disappearing from view.
Point of Comparison

Bird-Like Dinosaur

Bird-Brained President (image from Dependable Renegade)

And Congress has some stale bread:

"The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania," Mr. Conyers said, referring to the White House by its street address. "This investigation will not end until the White House complies with the demands of this subpoena in a timely and reasonable manner, so that we may get to the bottom of this."

What's the old saying? Something about innocent people having nothing to hide?
To a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

William S. Lind on beauracratic inertia in the military high command, and how it plays out on a tactical and strategic level:

Nothing could testify more powerfully to the failure of U.S. efforts on the ground in Iraq than a ramp-up in airstrikes. Calling in air is the last, desperate, and usually futile action of an army that is losing. If anyone still wonders whether the "surge" is working, the increase in air strikes offers a definitive answer: it isn't.

Worse, the growing number of air strikes shows that, despite what the Marines have accomplished in Anbar province and General Petraeus's best efforts, our high command remains as incapable as ever of grasping Fourth Generation war. To put it bluntly, there is no surer or faster way to lose in 4GW than by calling in airstrikes. It is a disaster on every level. Physically, it inevitably kills far more civilians than enemies, enraging the population against us and driving them into the arms of our opponents. Mentally, it tells the insurgents we are cowards who only dare fight them from 20,000 feet in the air. Morally, it turns us into Goliath, a monster every real man has to fight. So negative are the results of air strikes in this kind of war that there is only one possible good number of them: zero (unless we are employing the "Hama model," which we are not).

What explains this military lunacy, beyond simple desperation? Part of the answer, I suspect, is Air Force generals. Jointness demands they get their share of command billets in Iraq, and with very few exceptions they are mere military technicians. They know how to put bombs on targets, but they know nothing else. So, they do what they know how to do, with no comprehension of the consequences.

In fact, the U.S. Air Force recently announced it is developing its own counter-insurgency doctrine, precisely because "some people" are suggesting air strikes are counterproductive in such conflicts. Well, yes, that is what anyone with any understanding of counter-insurgency would suggest. The Air Force, of course, cares not a whit about the realities of counter-insurgency. It cares only about protecting its bureaucratic turf, its myth of "winning through air power" and its high-performance fighter-bombers, which truly are its knights in shining armor, useful only for tournaments.

Once again, we see the U.S. military riding the perfect sine wave. It will seem as if it is beginning to get things right, only to ride the wave back down again into the depths of unknowing. It brings to mind one of my favorite Bob Newhart skits. Newhart is walking slowly behind a line of an infinite number of monkeys, seated at an infinite number of typewriters, trying to write the world's great books. Bob pauses behind one of the monkeys. "Uh, Fred, come here a minute. I think this one's got something. 'To be or not to be, that is thegzrbnklap.' Forget about it, Fred."

In this case, the gzrgnklap is airstrikes in 4GW, and the monkey is wearing Air Force blue.

That said, the high command is still orders of magnitude more competent than the doofus political leadership--but it's one hell of a grading curve.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat

A successful occupation wouldn't have repeat performances like the latest bombing of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. Period.

By the way, if you missed it last night, Frontline is well worth watching, and available for viewing online. It focuses on Paul Bremer's year of utter ineptitude and cluelessness as he turns a badly deteriorating situation into something quite a bit worse.

Note: it's really jarring to see the sheer ferocity of IED explosions captured on video...and I assume the footage is contemporary with the focus of the show. In other words, these frightfully destructive bombs were being exploded while Jerry and Rummy, et al were dismissing the insurgency as rag-tag dead-enders...and Shrub himself petulantly asked for more: "bring 'em on."

Despite Shrub's assertion that these images of "violence on the teevee screens" are making us all "sacrifice peace of mind," I don't think any television network is really conveying a sense of just how destructive IEDs were (and are) fact, I think the networks engage in a great deal of self-censorship when it comes to presenting the violent imagery of war. Hell, if they tried to be a little more accurate, the noise machine and wingnuttery would most certainly screech to high heaven about the "treason," before retreating into ever greater denial...

Like the denial that the occupation of Iraq is a total, utter failure. As today's news clearly demonstrates.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


You know, for me, the real question isn't whether or not Shrub got his watch stolen (says he'll "protect the American people," but he can't even protect his personal property)...anyway, the question for me is--

You mean he can tell the time?

Just saying...
Playing Games

People are wondering if Holy Joe is carrying White House water.
Shrub W. Hoxha

ЭаЪф я ΗόИЯл!

It's just somehow fitting that Albania is the only place where Shrub gets to play at "being presidential."
"Please! Please! This is Supposed to be a Happy Occasion! Let's not Bicker and Argue About Who Killed Who" *

If we weren't almost six years into this particular war, accidents like this would be a bit more understandable:

Afghan police mistook U.S. troops on a nighttime mission for Taliban fighters and opened fire on them early Tuesday, prompting U.S. forces to return fire and call in attack aircraft. Seven Afghan police were killed.

The contrast between US and Afghan reactions speaks volumes:

Maj. Chris Belcher, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said a combined coalition-Afghan force was ambushed by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from two sides while on the way to conduct an operation against a suspected Taliban safe house.

"Afghan and coalition forces took incoming fire and they responded to it," Belcher said. The forces called in air support, he said.

A policeman at the remote checkpoint said police called out for the approaching U.S. forces to halt.

"I thought they were Taliban, and we shouted at them to stop, but they came closer and they opened fire," said Khan Mohammad, one of the policemen at the post. "I'm very angry. We are here to protect the Afghan government and help serve the Afghan government, but the Americans have come to kill us."

Rahimi said the incident was being investigated and showed why Karzai has repeatedly called for increased cooperation and communication between Afghan and international troops, which would also help solve the ongoing problem of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

To us, it's a hassle--a nuisance. Pesky civilians in the way, follish policemen getting themselves shot...and tomorrow we'll all forget about them.

Unfortunately, the Afghans don't quite see things that way.

Oh--and they live there. We don't--but if anyone WANTS to go live there, I won't stand in the way. Wingnuts, now's your chance to enjoy the fruits of liberation.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Private Sector "Efficiency" in Action

The Washington Post and TPM blast some semi-truck sized holes through the myth.

And while they focus on one element of outsourcing--intelligence gathering/analysis--this same mythbusting could apply to any number of government functions.
Two-Faced and Shitfaced

Oh you just know Big Time's got his grubby little fingers all over this--a soft-peddle back door to diplomacy with Sudan--because their secret agents, when not engaged in wholesale killing in Darfur, do the occasional favor for us in Mesopotamia.

Well, ain't that special? And why am I not surprised?
Evolutionary Dead End And while it doesn't surprise me that some two thirds of the GOP is, well, not evolved enough to understand/accept evolution, it's not all that comforting to note that upwards of a third of Democratic and/or Independent voters likewise reject science.

It's not like there isn't precedent for accepting both evolution and religion--plenty of people are comfortable with that position. But rejecting one of the pillars of modern science is, at least for me, choosing the wrong side of the reality divide...which is the kind of thing that leads to follies like Iraq...or the abandonment of New Orleans.

And reality has a nasty way of asserting itself when you least expect it.
Team Bush's Latest Bright Idea: "Hey, Let's Arm Our Enemies!"

You know, when you think about how US forces are at times being killed by the very people they're supposedly training, this really comes across as an astonishingly bad concept--or a sign of total desperation:

With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

Attaturk saw the same story...and links to this as further confirmation:

Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling

Oh, one more thing: the Times article notes we've spent $15 billion dollars "building up" Iraq's army and police force...which means not only have we been played for suckers in a horrific, tragic, and deadly game, but we've squandered funds that could've made a substantial down payment on, oh, I don't know, only coastal restoration. Nice work.
Goofus in the Oval Office

I keep pointing this out again and again, but it continues to be worth noting--if the Bush administration can't fix the mess in New Orleans, how can anyone in their right mind think they can fix the mess in Iraq? I mean, this really is easy to understand: the Bush administration...ok, Cheney/Bush administration...consists of a cabal of vicious nincompoops, their incompetence matched only by their sheer greed and utter lack of concern for anyone else. I mean, geez: there's NO reason to not run tests on drainage canal pumps, unless you've got the perverse mind set of a mentally disturbed pre-teen. Oh, wait...