Friday, July 13, 2007

Travel Day

For personal reasons I'm on the road through Sunday night. Thanks for stopping by, as always. See you Monday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Denial--Not Just a River in Egypt

Road Block

If you haven't yet read it, check out Pravda's latest on the New Orleans diaspora. Sad to say, it speaks volumes: the world's richest country goes out of its way to turn its back on its poorest citizens, even as the cost of Operation Throw Money Away in Mesopotamia--and Afghanistan--tops $12 billion a month.

Beyond Relevance

You know, it really is just kind of sad and pathetic watching him play out the remaining year and a half or so like a team with no chance of making the playoffs...or, maybe closer to the mark, like a loveless marriage, but one where old Shrubby still tries to pretend like he he periodically threatens to beat the shit out of, you name it, the press, the Congress, Al Qaeda, just because, well...that's pretty much the only way he knows how to express much of anything, even if it's clear as a bell that on pretty much any level, the clown's gotta muster all the strength he's got left just to get out of bed and get dressed each morning.

And if you think it's bad now, just wait until this time next year...
Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission

Even BoBo could get a license

"Protecting the American people," as Shrub is fond of saying, doesn't, you know, actually extend to...protecting the American people (h/t Rising Hegemon):

Undercover congressional investigators posing as West Virginia businessmen obtained a license with almost no scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that enabled them to buy enough radioactive material from U.S. suppliers to build a "dirty bomb," a new government report says.

The investigators obtained the license within 28 days from officials at the NRC, the federal agency that in addition to regulating nuclear power plants oversees radioactive materials used in health care and industry, the report by the Government Accountability Office says. NRC officials approved the request with a minimal background check that included no face-to-face interview or visit to the purported company to ensure it existed and complied with safety rules, the report says.

Using a post-office box at Mail Boxes Etc., a telephone and a fax machine, the undercover investigators from the GAO obtained the license "without ever leaving their desks," the report says.

After counterfeiting copies of the license, the GAO undercover agents ordered portable moisture density gauges, which contain radioactive americium-241 and cesium-137 and are commonly used at construction sites to analyze the properties of soil, water and pavement. The investigators ordered 45 gauges -- enough to build a bomb with enough radioactive material to qualify as a level-3 threat on the International Atomic Energy Agency's scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the most hazardous.

OK, so their mailbox was a little nicer than BoBo's...I doubt that was the deal maker/deal breaker, though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Problem Solving

I think I know EXACTLY how to get enough support for the Webb amendment: call Scooter up for duty. Then I wonder how many nanoseconds it would take for the Senate--and the administration--to realize that war is, indeed, hell.

Mission Accomplished...
Time to Change the Benchmarks...Again

Like Welcome Wagon, but with mortars:

Insurgents unleashed their most intense mortar attack to date on the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing 3 people and wounding 18, according to a statement from the American Embassy.

The attack set off a succession of explosions that could be heard on both sides of the Tigris River about 5:30 p.m. Multiple rounds landed inside the Green Zone, seat of the embassy and the Iraqi government. The attack came from northeast of the Green Zone, a predominantly Shiite area.

The three killed were an American soldier, an Iraqi citizen and a foreign citizen. Five of the wounded were American civilians, two were members of the American military and three were working for American contractors, according to the embassy statement.
Petty Officer, No Class

I finally found time to take a look at a story that made the rounds of blogaea yesterday. Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General, made it clear just how ugly and petty this administration is.

A direct order to always mention Shrub at least three times...per page, in EVERY speech. Official discouragement to diss--sorry, I meant attend--the Special Olympics...because it's associated with the Kennedy family. Political considerations overriding genuine scientific analysis on everything from contraception to second-hand smoke. Requests to speak on behalf of Rethuglican candidates and attend political briefings.

Well, color me as unfuckingsurprised. And given these revelations, is there any doubt the administration would resort to unprecedented levels of pettiness in politicizing government institutions like the Department of Justice? I mean, shit--professional assclowns like Grover Norquist and Tom DeLay have all but itemized their intentions to turn DC into a one-party town...fortunately, they and their fellow travellers are such smug-yet-incompetent-creeps that the public rightly finds them repulsive. Well, that might be putting it diplomatically.

Because "repulsive" hardly begins to describe psychopaths who'll take us to war for no other reason than to consolidate political power...
He's a Diaper Dandy!

Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase "junior senator."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Stay the Course"

The Shrub Limited

What a pathetic little man:

Mr. Bush told the Cleveland audience that he appeciates "how tough it is on our psyche" to be fighting a war, and that he never wanted to be "a war president."

"I fully understand that when you watch the violence on TV every night, people are saying, is it worth it? Can we accomplish an objective?" Mr. Bush said. "Well, first, I want to tell you, yes, we can accomplish and win this fight in Iraq. And secondly, I want to tell you, we must, for the sake of our children and our grandchildren."

The president said his commitment to building a free Iraq stems from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and his determination not to allow America to be caught unaware again. He has long described the campaign in Iraq as part of a wider war on terror. His critics have long accused him of falsely implying a link between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Bush told the audience that an American failure in Iraq would embolden terrorists and encourage attacks on the United States, but that success in Iraq would mean a stable, democratic government there that would be an anchor for the Middle East.

The White House issued a statement in advance of the president’s remarks, accusing his harshest critics of spreading a "myth" that the war was already lost, contrary to the opinions of American military leaders and diplomats.

In other words, the same, sorry crap, with the same, certain outcome. First, if it's so goddamned important, then there should be a general call up/draft/whatever you want to call it, and a general mobilization...and genuine tax increases to pay for it. Second, if withdrawing "emboldens our enemies," then what the hell does killing American soldiers on a daily basis do? It certainly doesn't seem to scare them, although the very real prospect of winding up dead isn't exactly a winning message for our military recruiters. Finally, it's one thing to do something strategically dumb, like invade Iraq...but then insisting on the tactical stupidity of urban guerrilla warfare, well...if that's NOT grounds for impeachment, it should be.

Oh, and Shrub's insistence that he "never wanted to be a war president" ? Well, if that isn't the last refuge of this particular scoundrel. The boy chimperor couldn't get fitted for a flight suit fast enough, and his pathetic "bring 'em on" taunt literally reeked of schoolyard cowardice...too bad it wasn't a schoolyard, but a very serious and deadly business. What a coward...and a liar.

Or maybe it's just that Shrub never wanted to be a war president...who lost the war. Well, that's the chance you took when you started it, asshole. And regardless of the price you'll pay in history's judgement (the worst president of the modern era), you should consider yourself pretty damn lucky, compared to all those who've suffered or died, thanks to your foolishness.
Iceberg Dead Ahead!

Looks like the next stop for the Straight Talk Express is Davy Jones' locker.
The Daily Grind

This Nation article might take some time to finish, but pretty thoroughly chronicles why our occupation of Iraq has ZERO chance of success.

Hell, it would almost be comical if it wasn't so goddamned, maddeningly tragic, and why everyone promoting the occupation, from Shrub on down, must be considered seriously delusional. It also points out the VERY obvious fact that war, by definition, is brutality and ugliness as a matter of policy...which is why you don't go to war unless you absolutely have no other choice.

Here's a short version of the article, courtesy of Bob Herbert (though do take a look at the whole article, if you can budget the time):

July 10, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Abusing Iraqi Civilians
With no end yet in sight for the long dark night of the Iraq war, The Nation magazine is coming out this week with an article that goes into great and disturbing detail about the brutal treatment of Iraqi civilians by some U.S. soldiers and marines.

The article does not focus on the handful of atrocities that have gotten substantial press coverage, like the massacre in Haditha in November 2005. Instead, based on interviews conducted on the record with dozens of American combat veterans of the war, the authors address what they describe as frequent acts of violence in which U.S. forces have abused or killed Iraqi civilians--men, women and children--with impunity.

The combination of recklessness, wantonly destructive behavior born of panic and deliberate acts of cold-blooded violence by G.I.’s are believed to have cost the lives of thousands of innocent Iraqis, the article says. The soldiers interviewed said they believed that only a minority of U.S. troops engaged in objectionable behavior, but the toll of their actions has been huge.

The article describes soldiers and marines frustrated and fearful in an alien environment in which the enemy hides among civilians and uses acts of terror as the primary tactic. "The mounting frustration of fighting an elusive enemy and the devastating effects of roadside bombs, with their steady toll of American dead and wounded, led many troops to declare an open war on all Iraqis," said the authors, Chris Hedges, a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, and Laila al-Arian.

Jeff Englehart, a 26-year-old Army specialist from Grand Junction, Colo., said in the article: "I guess while I was there, the general attitude was a dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi. You know, so what?"

For a lot of troops, he said, that attitude tended to morph into a debilitating sense of guilt after their return home.

Kelly Dougherty of CaƱon City, Colo., who served in Iraq as a sergeant with a National Guard military police unit, remembered investigating an incident in which a military convoy ran over a boy, about 10 years old, and his three donkeys. When she and others from her unit arrived at the scene, the boy was lying dead by the side of the road. The donkeys had also been killed.

"We saw him there," she said, "and, you know, we were upset because the convoy didn’t even stop. They really, judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down."

Accidents, even those caused by recklessness, are bad enough. More disturbing are the incidents described in the article in which G.I.'s routinely abused civilians. Among the worst abuses have been the shootings of innocent civilians and the improper arrests that have occurred in the course of raids carried out by soldiers and marines looking for insurgents.

There have been thousands of such raids. An extraordinary number of them — the vast majority, according to the interviews for article — were exercises in futility, yielding nothing but grief and terror for the innocent families whose homes were invaded.

"So you have all these troops, and they’re all wound up," said Army Sgt. John Bruhns of Philadelphia, who participated in many raids while serving in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib. "And a lot of them think once they kick down the door there's going to be people on the inside waiting for them with weapons to start shooting at them."

In most cases, there is nothing more than a terrified family on the other side of the door. In instances in which unarmed civilians are shot and killed in raids, which happens frequently, it’s not unusual for G.I.'s to plant weapons by their bodies and to arrest survivors on false charges of participating in the insurgency, the article says.

"Every good cop carries a throwaway," said Joe Hatcher, who served with the Army's Fourth Cavalry Regiment in Iraq. "If you kill someone and they’re unarmed, you just drop one on 'em."

The article emphasizes the extreme stress that G.I.'s are operating under in Iraq. A byproduct of that stress is the tendency to stereotype and dehumanize all Iraqis. What the soldiers find out, after they get home, is that in dehumanizing the people they supposedly were fighting for, they often end up dehumanizing themselves.

There is no upside to this war. It has been a plague since the beginning. But it's one thing to lose a war. It's much worse for a nation to lose its soul.
"I'm Ready for my Perp Walk, Mr. DeMille"

Vitty don't lose that number.

Monday, July 09, 2007

George, Do You Mind if I Call You "Mandrake?"

"Denial of access can be like denial of essence."

(Insert, no pun intended, your own reference to Lynne, provided you don't get totally grossed out)
Bush Has 'Special Salute' for the Troops

And, of course, there's the inevitable "adjustment" as to what we can expect from "the Iraqi government," which daily makes Stephen Colbert's 2006 remarks look less like a joke and more like serious, astute, and prescient analysis.

Four years in, and, at best, Green Zone and airport are somewhat under control...although the road back and forth makes a midnight stroll through the South Bronx look like a pleasant afternoon in the park.
Why Bother With Executive Privilege?...

When you can claim "Cult of Personality."

Makes executive privilege sound kinda wussy-ish, don't it?
On General Principles

Geez...another busy day, although I'd like to think that it'll count for job security in an uncertain future...anyway...I've been meaning give him the treatment for some time, because he's such an insufferable ass.

The Cowardly Kristol

On off days, he dons his other costume...the chickenhawk.