Saturday, December 03, 2005

Democrats Lack Unified Position on Iraq

The "DUH" post of the week and a natural followup to my last entry...

Democrats Lack Unified Position on Iraq

...The only position Democrats seem to share is that Bush's current strategy is flawed.

Otherwise, they have widely disparate views about how — and when — to get out of Iraq, raising the question of whether the lack of a unified message could hinder Democratic efforts to turn Bush's woes and mounting public frustration about the war into liabilities for GOP candidates during congressional elections next fall.

"There simply is no party position on Iraq ... It's every man and woman for themselves," said Ross Baker, a political analyst at Rutgers University in New Jersey who closely monitors Congress...

Guys, find a clear position. 'Stay the course' is not a plan; it's a bumper stick slogan. Come up with a counterplan. Yea, it's real great that Katrina outed for you the Bush administration as the incompetent, uncaring buffoons they are. And it's fantastic for you that the phony 'honor and integrity' bubble the Republicans created for themselves burst as Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, Bill Frist, Duke Cunningham, and others find themselves mired in legal troubles. And how fun it was to see that the Miers debacle further exposed Bush's cronyism and his mommy complex. And I do love that the religious right (Pat Robertson, etc) are acting so crazy now that they're even offending Christians. And how convenient that the media is finally doing its job to expose the lies that lead to war. And how tragically well-timed that new revelations about the Plame case, prisoner torture, etc have shown Americans that this administration is willing to do anything to win this war, except wage it competently and humanely... But seriously, you guys gotta do some work too.

Okay, maybe you don't agree with Murtha, but at least he's got a clear position and the credibility to back it up. What's Joe Lieberman got? Besides his head up the President's ass? Hillary Clinton's trying to play to both sides- criticizing Bush for mismanaging the war and the prewar intelligence, while also defending the war and asking for even more troop investment. Nice strategy; this way whichever view is more popular next year, that's which one she'll claim directly. Harry Reid is still trying to decide if he thinks bin Laden is alive. And Howard Dean, well who knows what he's up to these days.

Democrats still think they can coast to victory by being the party of Not Bush... How'd that work last year, guys?

Oh. Right. You lost (well, according to the machines).

This country needs real leaders. The country is ready to hear that it's you. Speak to them.

Again- More Murthas, please.

More Murthas, Please

In Defense Of Journalism

There's a great new article by Sydney Schanberg in the Village Voice discussing the supposed impending death of traditional media (ie. newspapers and magazines) and the rise of new media (ie. blogs). Schanberg notes that while blogs are a great new resource for alternate information sources, true journalism cannot survive without hard journalism finding fresh stories. He states "serious journalism is labor-intensive and time-consuming and therefore requires large amounts of money and health benefits and pensions. The blogosphere has plenty of time, but as yet none of the other items."

If Old Journalism Dies . . .
Where will new media get the news?

Schanberg lists a few recent news stories that confirm our faith in traditional media-

1. The L.A. Times 'Curveball' story about the Iraqi informant whose "unreliable statements to German intelligence officials about Iraq's germ warfare weapons were not only used but exaggerated by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq in 2003".

2. The story that the Washington Post and the New York Times about Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, stating that "[a] top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons."

3. The devastating National Journal story which stated that "President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter" and that the briefing "was prepared at the request of the president, who was eager in the days following the terrorist attacks to learn all that he could about any possible connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda."

4. The Rolling Stone story - The Man Who Sold The War - about John Rendon, a man hired to help the White House sell the Iraq war. A must read article. It stated that Rendon's firm "has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help 'create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power.' Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name—the Iraqi National Congress—and served as their media guru and senior adviser."

5. A recent Nation article entitled All the King's Media, an insightful essay on the state of media in George W. Bush's America. It states that now "The major media stood too close to the throne, deferred too eagerly to the king's twisted version of reality and his lust for war. The institutions of 'news' failed democracy on monumental matters."

All great articles, all good defenses that hope remains in today's journalism.


Just rounding up some stories before I go to bed...

-The military responds to the Iraq propaganda story:
Military Explains News Propaganda in Iraq

-The 9/11 Commission said the U.S. hasn't made many improvements in anti-terror security areas:
9/11 Panel Gives Gov't Poor Marks on Reform

-James Dobson working with the U.N.? Thanks to John Bolton, that could happen:
Dobson Meets With Bolton To Set UN Policy

-And the Big Oil Execs try to downplay their relationship with the White House... 'We did not have relations with that man, Mr. Cheney':
Oil executives clarify task-force contacts

Friday, December 02, 2005

George Washington Wouldn't Cut and Run

I saw this baffling cartoon in the Daily News yesterday-

First off, the idea of comparing George Washington to George W. Bush is insulting not only to Mr. Washington but to anything he was ever connected with (the people on that boat, his wooden teeth, that cherry tree, and the $1 dollar bill).

Secondly, the idea of comparing the two conflicts is even more ridiculous than the WWII talking point. George Washington and our other founders didn't invade another country. They weren't trying to 'liberate' a country across the world for dubious and ever-changing reasons. They were trying to liberate themselves. They were fighting a revolution in their own country against its rulers. They didn't need/want an exit strategy... because they didn't want to leave. They wanted the British to leave; that was the whole point. In this artist's mind, where would Washington cut and run to if he had the dreaded T-word (timetable)? Back up to Boston? Philadelphia? Which players in the Iraq war does the artist believe Mr. Washington represents?

Me thinks the artist needs to study their history better.

After all, was it not George Washington who spoke of "avoiding foreign entanglements"?

I did a rant about the Iraq liberation/Revolutionary War comparisons back on my old LiveJournal blog this past March, reimagining our independence story to make it fit the Iraq model. It involves a unilateral invasion by the French, a colonial insurgency, and Poland.

Also- A great column by Arianna Huffington on a similar note:
Dems' Template for Success: Follow John Murtha... and George Washington

Humor Break

Some humor-based political fun.

-Google "Terrorist Sympathizer". Hit 'I'm Feeling Lucky'.

Seems accurate to me.

(This in response to this of course)

- The Sardonic Sideshow has her own take on Bush's Iraq speech:
Dubya, Dubya, Dubya Dot Victory

-The Air Force has a released a guide to spotting a terrorist.

Bob Harris think he has found someone who fits the description

Bad News For Rove?

The tangled web between the White House and reporters in the Plame case gets tanglier*.

In C.I.A. Leak, More Talks With Journalists

A conversation between Karl Rove's lawyer and a journalist for Time magazine led Mr. Rove to change his testimony last year to the grand jury in the C.I.A. leak case, people knowledgeable about the sequence of events said Thursday...

[*It's a word if I say it is]

White House ' Very Concerned' About Paid Iraq Propaganda

Conservatives not only defended the Iraq media propaganda efforts by the U.S. military and defense contractors, they have praised them. I gave my own quick take on this story last night, so I won't repeat myself here.

Anyway, conservatives may be praising it, but...

The White House not only denied knowledge of the program, but Scott McClellan assured reporters that "We're very concerned about the reports". Oop. Guess it's a big fucking deal after all.

In addition, the Senate Armed Services Committee summoned top Pentagon officials to Capitol Hill to explain the program to them. Senator John W. Warner (R- VA), who heads the Committee, said in a statement that "I am concerned about any actions that may undermine the credibility of the United States as we help the Iraqi people stand up as a democracy... A free and independent press is critical to the functioning of a democracy, and I am concerned about any actions which may erode the independence of the Iraqi media".

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch defended the program in Iraq, saying it's needed to combat Zarqawi's media presence.

[New York Times has the info: Senate Summons Pentagon to Explain Effort to Plant News Stories in Iraqi Media]

What story is Drudge leading with today? KING KONG RULES!

Bill'O The Baby

How did Bill O'Reilly decided on the names on his enemy list?

Arianna Huffington takes a look:
Update: The Bill O'Reilly Blacklist

Is it because the Daily News broke the story in 2004 that he had settled his infamous "falafel" sexual harassment suit for between $2 million and $10 million? Let's run that one through the No Spin Zone.

The St. Petersburg Times probably owes its spot to the running feud O'Reilly has had with the paper's Eric Deggans, a columnist whom he disparaged on his TV show as "a dishonest, racially motivated correspondent writing for perhaps the worst newspaper in the country." Deggans had criticized O'Reilly for giving cover to the federal government's response to Katrina. So now payback's a list?

As for MSNBC, that network's Keith Olbermann has regularly taken O'Reilly to the cable-news-woodshed -- mentioning him on no less than 43 shows over the last thirteen months. And on Wednesday night Olbermann gave O'Reilly the three top slots in his "Worst Person in the World" segment, saying of O'Reilly's list: "You call it defamation, Bill. We call it precise quotes from your show."

So "media defamers" = people that make Bill'O look bad with honest reporting?

What a secure, tough man. No wonder his ratings are in the toilet.

The Wisdom of Mr. Donald Rumsfeld

Rummy, Rummy, Rummy, what are we gonna do with you?

There was a press conference yesterday at the Defense Department with Sec. Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This conference is wonderfully indicative of how great some of our military leaders are and how... not Mr. Rumsfeld is. Mr. Rumsfeld should stop appearing with human beings capable of basic compassion and intelligence; he just ends up looking bad.

Reporters turned the discussion to torture, a practice that happens regularly under Rummy's regime, and is something he apparently doesn't understand our policies on. Here is Rumsfeld answering a question on what U.S. forces can/should do to prevent Iraqi forces from using torture after we give them control... See if you can find the irony in the first part of this statement:

"Iraq knows, of certain knowledge, that they need the support of the international community. And a good way to lose it is to make a practice of something that's inconsistent with the values of the international community. I think they know that... Obviously the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of."


That pretty much disputes the entire (current) rationale for the war, eh Rummy?

And here's a back and forth between Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace on handling torture incidents:
GEN. PACE: "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don't see it happening but you're told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There's a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done."

SEC. RUMSFELD: "But I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."

GEN. PACE: "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it."

Stop it? Why do that when you can take pictures instead?

Our Secretary of Defense, ladies and gentlemen. Take a bow, sir.

Crooks and Liars has video:
The Rummy and Pace Show

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Propaganda in Iraq?

The propaganda story.

I don't want to harp on it, but I don't want to ignore it either.

Here's the story- The L.A. Times reported that "As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military 'information operations' troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor..."

It further states that "Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and... [are] designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military."

Basically the same sleazy media manipulation practices that gave us Armstrong Williams and Jeff Gannon here in the U.S. are at work in Iraq.

My take on all this... Sadly, this is hardly the most offensive story to come out of the war. It's not even by far the most offensive in this week alone. Certainly I would prefer the use of media promotion to win a war rather than bullets and bombs. Look, I know winning over the 'hearts and minds' of the people in that area is key to victory. So I have no problem in theory with the U.S. military wanting the local papers in Iraq to write about progress where it can be found. And if certain troops want to write their own takes on the war and have them published, well that's fine. I encourage soldiers to communicate whatever message they want. The problem is, of course, that it's not as wholesome as all that. This isn't like when we went into Afghanistan and dropped leaflets down to explain why we were there. I am all for that.

The issue here is that the military was paying the newspaper to print this information. That is propaganda, pure and simple. The fact that the military went through such efforts to mask their role in 'planting' these stories shows that they knew this was scandalous. Of all the ways they could have gone about seeking a more positive appearance in the press, they chose the least ethical. To build a democracy there and simultaneously undermine the basics of a free and independent press is hypocrisy.

In short, it's not the worst thing we've done, but still counterproductive to our stated goals in Iraq.

PS- After the Judy Miller/Scooter Libby debacle, someone should tell the New York Times that it's incredibly ironic for them to be covering this story. We still have problems with a press free from government influence here in the States too. The Times editors, unfortunately, learned that lesson recently the hard way.

A Plan For Victory- A Day Later

More fallout and reaction to the President's BIG SPEECH on Iraq.

-A Time reporter who was embedded in Iraq says that the President lied when he said in the speech that Iraqi forces “primarily led” the assault on the city of Tal Afar. The reporter, Michael Ware, was embedded with the U.S. troops who participated in that assault. He said that the Iraqis force did not lead; that the U.S. green beret special forces were the leaders. President Bush... lie? I do not believe it. Think Progress has video of Ware's interview on CNN:
Embedded TIME Reporter: Bush Lied In Speech Yesterday About Iraqi Security Forces

-Andrew Sullivan was impressed by the speech. Mostly impressed that it even took place, but impressed nonetheless:

-Jon Stewart looked at the whole story last night. OneGoodMove has video:
Operation Not-That-Bad

-Finally, the New York Times has a fantastic editorial today on the speech:
Plan: We Win

Key passage- It has been obvious for months that Americans don't believe the war is going just fine, and they needed to hear that President Bush gets that. They wanted to see that he had learned from his mistakes and adjusted his course, and that he had a measurable and realistic plan for making Iraq safe enough to withdraw United States troops. Americans didn't need to be convinced of Mr. Bush's commitment to his idealized version of the war. They needed to be reassured that he recognized the reality of the war.

They get it.

The White House still does not.

President Bush Called To Duty...

...Jury duty.

Sorry, jury, he's busy saving the world.

Will Bush heed his call to (jury) service?

The Bush Family Smiletime Variety Hour

I was at the Union Square Holiday Market here in NYC the other night to look around. I went to see if my favorite booth from last year - The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild - was still there and was pleased to see they were. They sell quirky items like finger puppets, mugs, and dolls featuring cartoony versions of famous historical figures (If the Tickle Me Freud isn't one this year's top gift items, this is a sad world). One of their new items this year is the 'Axis of Evil III' finger puppet set, featuring- George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleeza Rice.

Here is the set-

Here's a summary of the power structure in the Bush administration-

Here's President Bush, doing something that could finally get him impeached-

And finally, here's the President at home with his fellow puppets-

They're sooo cute! Keep up the good work, guys!

Another Big Speech on Iraq That Won't Matter

From David Corn, a pretty fair and balanced look at Bush's latest Iraq speech:

Another Big Speech on Iraq That Won't Matter

The Wacky Adventures of Bill O'McCarthy, Pt. IV

Bill O'Reilly is an American hero. He destroyed France, outed media meanies, and is saving Christmas (just like Ernest did!).

Now he has another victory under his belt- Lower gas prices.

Bill'O explained to Fox News’s Neil Cavuto how his amazing, Peabody Polk Award-winning reporting forced the CEOs of some of the powerful companies in America and the world to lower their prices:
CAVUTO: That the CEO’s of these companies, who are part of a cabal…

O’REILLY: I have guys inside the five major oil companies - my father used to work for one of those oil companies by the way - who have told me that in those meetings they look for every way to jack up oil prices after Katrina, every way, when they didn’t have to. They got scared because of my reporting and reporting of some others. They said, “Uh ho.”

CAVUTO: So wait a minute, you’re not, you’re taking credit for gas prices being down from where they are?

O’REILLY: I said my reporting and some reporting of others. They got scared.

For the record, I do get a lil' scared when watching his show, so maybe he's right.

Think Progress has video:
O’Reilly Claims He Is Personally Responsible For Lower Gas Prices

America: A Brief Parable

The Wacky Adventures of Bill O'McCarthy, Pt. III

As you may know, because it is the most important and pressing issue in America today, a war has been declared on Christmas by secularists who want to "get Christianity and spirituality and Judaism out of the public square" (you mean the founding fathers?).

You know this because Bill O'Reilly mentions it every day. On his radio show. On his TV show. And on his website. This must bring in really good ratings. Bill'O is extremely disturbed...

...about the growing use of the phrase 'Happy Holidays' in business advertising. Christmas needs to be front and center. Other holidays, you're on notice. In addition to his rants on the subject, Bill'O has also made your holiday shopping easier by publishing a list (he likes lists) that lets you know where your favorite stores stand on Christmas.

But what's really at stake here? O'Reilly set the record straight on the true meaning of Christmas...

Courtesy of Think Progress, here's what Bill'O said on Monday's 'Factor':
"Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born. Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable. More than enough reason for business to be screaming 'Merry Christmas'."

And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

So show baby Jesus your love- visit the O'Reilly Christmas Store today!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Survey Says...

The jury appears to be in on Bush's speech today and the victory "strategy" and the verdict is... *yawn*

As a caller on NY1's 'The Call' just said "When the newspapers come out tomorrow, the headlines all should read 'More Of The Same'."

What was interesting for me to observe was how, as the day went on and people thought about it more, they realized just how pointless the whole thing was. Nothing new, no coherent plan, just taking the long way to say "stay the course".... Case in point- the AP stories. I check Yahoo several times a day and kept track of what the top story was on the whole thing.

First take on the story (morning)- Bush asks for patience over Iraq

Second take (afternoon)- Bush fails to allay doubts about US Iraq policy

Third take (this evening)- Bush Attempts Hard Sell on Iraq Progress

This current AP article is a good take on the story. It's pretty skeptical of the strategy, because well, they read it. I find this noteworthy because they're just a wire service, and not an editorial, and even they can't take it. The opening passage:
President Bush's depiction of Iraqi security forces as "helping to turn the tide" is difficult to square with persistent setbacks in handing control of the country back to its own people.

His suggestion that Americans are solidly behind the mission also understates opposition at home, and his hard sell on the rising quality of Iraqi forces overlooks complexities on the ground.

And the last three paragraphs completely smack down his 9/11/war on terror talking points...

As he did before the invasion, Bush tied Iraq to terrorism, to make the case that a stable Iraq would make for a safer America.

He declared, "The terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity. And so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror."

Iraq was not, however, the terrorists' chosen battlefield until Saddam was defeated and extremists poured across unsecured borders.

Sorry, George, even the AP isn't gonna reprint your lies at face value and that's almost kind of their job.

PS- I also like this headline, which says it all, from Yahoo Asia News:
Bush pitches war strategy, more dead in Iraq

"You're going straight to hell, Senator"

Semi-related follow-up to last entry...

Unlike the brainless Katie Couric, Don Imus knows how to respond when someone spews talking points at him.

Imus had Sen. Lieberman (R D- Connecticut) on his program this morning. Lieberman went on and on about the progress in Iraq and rejustifying the war, adding nothing new or concrete to back this up, but basically just repeating all the main talking points from the White House. It basically sounded like he just reading the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq document, only less enthusiastic. Imus was dumbfounded that Sen. Lieberman could be so... dumb. He went off on him, at one point saying "Somebody's got something on you, this is crazy."

The highlight was Imus hitting the nail on the head when explaining what he thinks the war was about:
"See I keep thinking, though, Senator Lieberman, after we drove him out of Kuwait, for the next 10 years he didn't do anything. And then all of the sudden, after we couldn't find Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and the wheels came off of that operation, and then after September 11th when this country wanted to demonstrate that we would respond to this vicious attack, from essentially the Muslim world, that we looked around for someone to smack and they, the Iraqis, looked like the easiest target. And we were told by Vice President Cheney, and the rest of these people, that we'd be greeted as liberators when we rolled into Baghdad. And so we went there... and they drummed up all this jive, and we now know none of it was true. So we rolled in there and we got this mess on our hands."

Lieberman's simple response: "Uhh, well a lot of it was true. And some of it was fake."

Thanks for coming, Joe. You've been fantastic.

Later exchange:
Imus: "No wonder Gore won't talk to you."
Lieberman: [*laughs*] "I think it's a profile in courage for me to come on this program today."
Imus: "Yea, with this nonsense, of course it is."

And at the end, discussing the holidays and different faiths:
Lieberman: "On good behavior, we're all gonna end up in Heaven together. And I hope to find you there and I hope your mood is better."
Imus: "Well if you keep this up, you won't be there. You're going straight to hell, Senator."

Crooks and Liars has video: Imus Smacks down Joe Lieberman

The Wacky Adventures of Bill O'McCarthy, Pt. II

Bill O'Reilly says those who favor withdrawl from Iraq wouldn't have gone after Hitler.

Okay, so he's choosing talking point #2. An excellent choice!

Money quote:
"These pinheads running around going, 'Get out of Iraq now' don’t know what they are talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in WWII that were saying, 'He’s not such a bad guy.' They don’t get it."

And coming from a military expert like O'Reilly, I take that criticism to heart.

Think Progress has video:
On Today Show, O’Reilly Compares Murtha With Hitler Sympathizers

27 Seconds

That's how long it took President Bush to mention 9/11 in today's speech.

Damn, I had 31 in the office pool.

Remember the formula!

[hat tip- Think Progress]

The Wacky Adventures of Bill O'McCarthy, Pt. I

Part 1 in a series of looks inside America's favorite paranoid, narcissistic pundit- Bill'O!

After old Bill'O was unfairly smeared by the "far-left smear sites" because of the "satirical riff" he did about San Francisco deserving a terrorist attack, he promised to "name names". He would let his viewers, the heroes, know who supported these anti-American "gutternsnipes". Well look out, guttersnipes, you're officially on notice!

In addition, Bill'O is targeting all who support propraganda. And no, Bill'O does not know what irony is. He has published the list, which will continue to grow as he uncovers even more enemies of, ummm, whatever it is that Billy believes in:
Media Operations that Traffic in Defamation

The following media operations have regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites:

- New York Daily News

- The St. Petersburg Times


These are the worst offenders. In the months to come, we expect to add more names to this list. We recommend that you do not patronize these operations and that advertisers do the same. They are dishonest and not worth your time and money.

Identifying these Communist organizations is a good start. No American should associate with them.

Bill'O allowed me a sneak peek at next week's additions to the list:
-The San Francisco Chronicle [Ban them or bomb them ASAP!!!]
-Andrea Makris [Harassment, schmarrasment- you loved it, baby!]
-C-Span 3 [Camera angle seems a tad liberal to me]
-The internet; all of it [NOTE: Exempting NewsMax, Drudge Report, Michelle Malkin's blog, and]
-The American People [Disapproves of the war- therefore, hates America]

To be safe, do not patronize anything or anyone without his approval.

BONUS!- Listen to the O'Rant: Bill O'Reilly goes Nuts

Memory Lane

Ahhh, good times.

Honoring Rosa Parks

All NYC area buses will leave the front seat empty tomorrow- as a tribute to Rosa Parks.

Other cities (Boston, Cleveland, Montgomery, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.) will have similar tributes.

A great way to honor an American hero.

US buses pay tribute to Parks

NEW York’s bus system will be among dozens in the US paying tribute to civil rights icon Rosa Parks tomorrow, the 50th anniversary of the day she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man.

In Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses in New York City and Long Island, the seat behind the driver will be symbolically reserved for the late Parks, whose act of disobedience and subsequent arrest prompted a bus boycott and proved a major turning point in the country’s civil rights movement...

9/11 Justifies Wars, Not Strict Airport Security!

The government is easing airport security rules, allowing small scissors and tools onto planes.

Why not tiny box cutters too? Kiddie knives?

Anyone really need scissors and tools on a flight? For in-flight arts and crafts classes, maybe? Someone call the stupidity police. I'm no fan of some of the more Orwellian 'homeland security' things (ie. that pesky ol' Patriot Act), but tight airport security is a no-brainer. Was there really a demand for these restrictions to change? Did confiscating tools, etc, really take up too much time. I sincerely doubt it.

Feds to Allow Scissors, Tools on Planes

Our National 'Strategy' for 'Victory' in 'Iraq'

Well, the White House did unveil this morning the "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" report.

Greater detail on the report available on the White House website:
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

The bottom line is that it is not worth all the fanfare; it's very underwhelming if one expected a collection of big new ideas (such as the U.S. switchover from ground forces to air cover many were expecting). There is nothing really new here... In fact, this is just an old document, dusted off for public release now in hopes pacifying Bush's critics, both in Congress and those pesky American people, on the war. Those expecting a new grand plan for victory that accounted for current scenarios, sorry. No such luck.

Not sure how the White House revealing they began working on a victory strategy after the war began is meant to pacify any intelligent person.

And as I expected, it contains no acknowledgement of any of the big mistakes made (an important step so one can correct them and move forward in a positive direction). Nor does it give the impression that much progress has been made so far (one step forward, two steps back). Rather, it does actually come off like something that we should've been reading in May 2003.

I do, of course, appreciate the White House for finally revealing their specific (well, in a more coherent manner than usual) strategy. The document outlines the status of everything, outlines challenges, how to proceed, and (just in case we didn't know) states that "failure is not an option". Sounds like a good strategy!

Mostly, we've heard much of this before in soundbites. From the AP report:
The plan says increasing numbers of Iraqi troops have been equipped and trained, a democratic government is being forged, Iraq's economy is being rebuilt and U.S. military and civilian presence will change as conditions improve.

Meaning- It's hard work, we're making progress, democracy is on the march, and as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

All things we've heard before. Now, however, we get them in specific, strategic terms.

Also from the AP report:
"It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam (Hussein) was finally removed from power," the report said.

Well gee, guys, that's not what you told us 2-3 years ago. You didn't even factor in the generational grievances. How long does it take for such grievances and divisions to be healed? Well, if not two years, I suppose three our four will do it.

The report does, however, pinpoint some potential problems- those not exactly cooperative with the new democracy:
The document says, however, that multiple challenges remain. Any support that countries, such as Syria or Iran, are giving to terrorists or insurgents must be neutralized. The Iraqi government must make sure its ministries can sustain a national army. And Iraqi security forces must not be infiltrated by those not aligned with the new Iraqi government.

The document also makes clear that "No war has ever been won on a timetable".

Also something we have heard before. A lot.

Let's just wait and see how this non-existent timetable coincides with the 2006 congressional elections, just like the White House rushed the Iraq war resolution to coincide with the 2002 elections. Of course, I'm sure I'm just being cynical. This administration has been nothing but forthcoming on this war and has never given us a moment's pause to doubt their integrity. [*cough*]

Read the full PDF document here. And let's keep our fingers crossed.

Climate Change Is Just A Theory. We Believe In Intelligent Warming.

The U.S. isn't planning to make extra efforts to combat global warming.

We were making efforts?

US rules out extra pledges on global warming

The United States ruled out making extra pledges to fight global warming beyond 2012 on Tuesday, angering environmentalists who accused Washington of blocking a 189-nation conference in Canada.

Chief U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson also strongly defended President George W. Bush's environmental record, saying emissions by the world's biggest polluter had fallen more in 2000-2003 than in the European Union...

Iraq war- Two stories.

Two different stories on the war, both with a unique take on the situation:

#1- The New Yorker/Seymour Hersh

Where is the Iraq war headed next?

Video of Hersh on the Today Show: Video

#2- Newsweek

The New Way Out

And Fareed Zakaria chimes in: Panic Is Not the Solution

Democrat Theatre

Proof that the Republicans don't have the monopoly on stupidity...

-Harry Reid speculates that Osama bin Laden is dead. His reasoning is just basically "Ohh I hear there was some kind of earthquake in Pakistan. Maybe it killed Osama. I hope so anyway!". Unless he has any kind of proof to back up that statement, that's a pretty irresponsible thing to just throw out there. Harry, why don't you guys actually go find out where bin Laden is? Get the war on terror back on track. Just a crazy idea I had!!!


-Hillary Clinton defends the Iraq war, but videogame violence? Stop it now!

Hillary Clinton targets new rise in video game violence

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thoughts on Iraq, President Bush, and the Future.

[Warning: Long entry ahead]

Obviously, I write about Iraq on a daily basis. I was never a supporter of this war, but the reality has far exceeded my worst fears. It's one bit of bad news after the other and all we get from the White House are talking points and questionable assurances that all is a-okay.

Still, sometimes I wonder if I am overly negative? Or just being realistic?

Bush supporters (what's left of them, anyway) constantly complain that all the media does is write about the deaths in Iraq and the bad things there and criticize Bush. They state that the media should write about the good things happening in Iraq. Is this a fair point? And, more importantly, are there actually good things happening there other than talking points created in PR releases?

I'm curious how people feel about this.

I posed that question- is the media failing to report on the good news in Iraq? - to a number of my friends over the past week. The answer I got back from all of them was basically "If good things happened in Iraq, they'll report them. We're just waiting for that to happen".

Here's my thoughts- For one, I have never bought the liberal media bias charges, specifically in regards to this war. If there is any bias in media, it is for ratings and profit. The Plamegate mess has exposed just how BS the bias charge is. They want access and they want big stories. The NY Times, thanks to Ms. 'Run Amok' Judy Miller, helped the administration sell their war (but no, it must be anti-Bush because Maureen Dowd, a columnist, don't like him). Bob Woodward sold out too. Tim Russert still can't figure out how to ask anything other than softball questions on 'Meet The Press'; he's in this mess too deep. Most of the media was asleep at the wheel before the war, happily cheerleading for the war because it made people feel good to wave the flag. That they have now begun focusing on the reality of the war is just them playing catch-up.

Regarding the idea that all the media does is discuss the bad news in Iraq, well I think that's the reality. Could the media maybe report more on positive things? Of course. But is that the real story? The place is a hellhole and all reports indicate is not only not better than under Saddam, in some areas it has only gotten worse (mass graves are out; roadside bombs are in). We're just treading water over there. People are dying, the infrastructure is destroyed, and you can't tell enemy from friend. As for good things happening there- I have to question this.

Good news that comes out of Iraq are things like parliamentary elections or a school being reopened somewhere. But even these 'good news' stories are shadowed by the harsh realities of life in Baghdad. Elections are inspiring, yes, but how much progress can be made if by going to vote you are risking your life? "90% of the people who voted today were not attacked! Go democracy!". And when a school reopens, how long before it is blown up or attacked? Can the children truly get an education when they and the teachers must constantly be on guard? I don't wish to downplay these things, and I give the Iraqis great respect for dealing with this, but in the end aren't these just symbolic victories?

Lord knows this administration loves staged, symbolic victories (The Mission Accomplished photo-op, Jessica Lynch, and the Saddam statue incident in Iraq; Pat Tillman in Afghanistan). Real victories... they're not so good at. The Iraqis are on a day-to-day survival lifestyle and that's no way to live. We certainly wouldn't celebrate if life in America were like this.

Almost all the genuinely good news I hear or read (such as the securing of the road from Baghdad International Airport to the Green Zone) are victories of the Iraqi forces. Victories that our presence there hindered (and were only necessary to begin with because we bungled the initial invasion). Progress was/is achieved when U.S. forces step back and let the Iraqis come to the forefront.

Finally, is good news in a warzone really good news if it has no effect on how bad of a warzone it is? A decrease in violence would constitute good news. A small section of a small town getting electricity back for a few hours a day? Not so much.

And the blame for this I believe fairly lies with the Bush administration and the incompetent way they waged this war. They failed to plan for a post-invasion occupation... Heck, they failed to plan for the possibility that a) the war might last more than a week or two, and b) the Iraqis might actually fight back. Think about it. And it was just announced that tomorrow the President will unveil the White House's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq". Strategy for victory? Shouldn't they have come up with that before the war?

In addition, despite whatever the President says about withdrawal being a "mistake", I have no doubt that they will withdraw next year. All this yelling at the Democrats for wanting to 'cut and run' is a political ploy. We all know we'll be pulling out at least some troops by next year. President Bush and the Republicans just don't want the Democrats to get the credit for bringing our boys home. And so the Murthas of Congress are labeled 'cowards'. But make no mistake about, this war is over. The administration is just waiting for the politically opportune time to end it officially. On their terms. When it works best for them. Not for the troops. And not for the Iraqis.

The big reason given against withdrawal is that it would leave Iraq in a state of disaster. Not sure what they believe will happen. That terrorists will flow in and begin killing people? No, that happened already. That the country will descend into violence? Happened already. That the various factions will start fighting amongst each other? Happening already. And much of this is intensified by our presence there, as John Murtha has noted (and I'll take the word of war heroes like him and Chuck Hagel over people like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld who've never seen military action). Leaving will always be messy. But it needs to be done. The Iraqis have asked us to go. Any further delay now by the President only proves his real concern is the political fallout.

And not only have they left Iraq a disaster, they have destroyed the credibility of the Executive branch with the Congress and the public for a generation. I would like to see them impeached, but that all depends on if the Democrats can regain control of Congress next year. And despite the polls, that's definitely still a stretch.

We are also seeing things in this war that the United States has never seen before in its history- officially sanctioned torture, the use of chemical weapons in civilian areas, and other acts that we would consider criminal of our enemies. Is this not doing more damage than good? How long will it take for our image around the world to recover from this?

And I suppose, for me, that is the biggest mess of this... not what this war has done to Iraq (which, yes, can become a great success in 10 years or so once the Iraqis take control of their destiny), but what it has done to our own country. It will be a long time before this country gets over this war and heals the divisions that our "uniter, not divider" President has caused. It is 2005 and we are still not over Vietnam. The 2004 election, and its revisiting of Vietnam vis-a-vis Iraq, made that clear. We are still not over the 'long national nightmare' of the Nixon scandals. The fact that every scandal has "-gate" tagged onto it makes that clear. The peaceful and prosperous Clinton years made progress toward moving forward optimistically to the next millenium. The Bush administration has damaged all of that. They have given us a new war, and new and greater political scandals/crimes, to haunt us for another 30 years. Whoever the next President is, either Republican or Democrat, much of their term will be devoted to undoing the political damage (not just here, but mainly abroad) of this administration.

The only people who continue to defend this President and his war (and it will always his war, not that of the United States) are the now-minority who want to believe in President Bush's leadership. But as poor of a leader he is in general, and he is an even worse Commander-In-Chief. He is the only Commander-In-Chief to never attend a single funeral of a fallen soldier (is he afraid that the families of the fallen might have tough questions for him?). He is the only Commander-In-Chief to cut taxes during wartime. And, though he likes to ridiculously compare this conflict to WWII, he has not taken FDR's lead and asked the country to make sacrifices for the war. Not that Americans want to make any.

President Bush is not a good leader. Supporting him blindly is not patriotism. Part of being a good leader, and a patriot, is admitting to mistakes and working to correct them. But President Bush is incapable of that. He does not look at the facts and seek to correct his actions in response to them. He looks at his actions and demands that the facts correct themselves instead. That is the type of poor leadership that rushed us into the war and has prolonged it since then.

Over 2,100 U.S. soldiers are dead. Hundreds of troops from coalition ranks have died as well. Around 30,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. What did they die for? The answer changes on a weekly basis. I imagine we'll get the latest version of the rationale tomorrow. Will it make any difference? NO. Was this worth it, no matter how Iraq turns out? No. The damage has already been done. And people continue to die. And it won't end until the President makes the tough decision and begins withdrawing troops, so that the Iraqis can truly move forward. Or, to him, so he can move forward with his unwanted domestic agenda. And we can go back to fighting the real war on terror. Somewhere, Osama bin Laden is hiding. Let's go find him. If the President knows how.

Just my three cents. I do hope for the best, I really do, I just won't be holding my breath.

Insurgency? What's an insurgency?

What's an insurgency? Donald Rumsfeld doesn't know.

Rumsfeld: Don't Call Them 'Insurgents'

More than 2 1/2 years into the Iraq war, Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided the enemy are not insurgents.

"This is a group of people who don't merit the word `insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend...

..."I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe." Still, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of `insurgent.' He promised to look it up....

2.5 years into the war and they're playing with semantics. Lovely.

Peace Activists Kidnapped In Iraq

That's what you get, ya damn hippies.

[*lights up cigar; listens to Rush Limbaugh*]

Video Shows Activists Kidnapped in Iraq

Al-Jazeera broadcast an insurgent video Tuesday showing four peace activists taken hostage in Iraq, with a previously unknown group claiming responsibility for the kidnappings.

The Swords of Righteousness Brigade said the four were spies working undercover as Christian peace activists, Al-Jazeera said. The station said it could not verify any of the information on the tape...

New Orleans: A Man-Made Disaster

A New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial makes the point that what happened there was not an act of God.

What happened in Mississipi and other areas was an 'act of God'.

What happened in New Orleans- that was a failure of people.

Disaster was largely man-made

And still no word from the White House on that grand plan...

Valerie Plame Retiring From CIA

Valerie Plame, now eligible for her full pension, will retire next month from her position at the CIA...


Valerie Plame, the glamorous secret agent at the heart of the CIA leak scandal, is quitting the agency to become a full-time mom.

Plame, 42, wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, will retire next month from the CIA after 20 years tracking proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, CIA officials confirmed.

It was exposure of Plame's identity as a CIA operative in a 2003 column by Robert Novak that lead to the massive leak probe that resulted in last month's indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief-of-staff.

Friends and colleagues told The Post the leak scandal forced Plame, mother of 5-year-old twins, to leave the CIA early because the exposure effectively ended her spying career...

Thanks Scooty! Thanks Karl! Thanks Dick! Thanks Mr. Novak!

Winning the war against political critics terrorism! Woooo!

Open wide, here comes a spoonful of truth!

On last night's 'Colbert Report', Stephen looked at the discussion of withdrawal from Iraq.

He understands when we should withdraw... NEVER.

See video here

Hatch's Freudian Slip

Here's what Sen. Orrin Hatch said on Fox News about the war:

"The Democratic Party seems to be taken over by the Michael Moore contingent in their attitude toward Vietnam, and they continually call for a withdrawal of troops at a time when we haven't finished the job."

I imagine President Nixon Bush is very mad at this slip-up.

We should just be glad that Hatch didn't give away the President's 'secret plan' to end the conflict...

Butcher of Bagh-sad

Saddam isn't happy about the conditions of his trial.

Poor guy.

Hussein trial adjourned amid courtroom rancor

Talking Points

A look at the big Iraq talking points right now and my reaction to them:

-#1: The 'troop morale' talking point: Criticizing the war hurts troop morale.

I have to question if the people who spout this old chestnut truly care about troop morale. To me it seems just a more emotionally appealling way for them to demonize war critics and shame them into stepping in line. I seriously doubt the majority of soldiers care that politicians all the way here in America want to have serious, adult discussions about this conflict. This talking point is one that is likely spouted by the same people who believe putting a $2 'Support The Troops' magnet on their car fulfills their obligation to think about the war.

Soldiers are tough and put up with a lot of shit on a daily basis. They are living in a warzone where the person they see walking down the street could be their killer. The idea that their morale will go down not because they're stuck in a fatal quagmire watching their friends die, but because some people criticize the mission and want to bring them home, says a lot more to me about the people who say it than those they try to smear. No one is criticizing our troops, we criticize the mission that was forced on them and the Commander-In-Chief and Defense secretary who bungled it.

-#2: The WWII talking point: If withdrawal supporters like John Murtha were around during WWII, they would have advocated surrender and retreat.

Yes, because this Iraq mess is exactly like WWII. WWII was a preemptive invasion of a foreign nation for ill-defined reasons based on faulty and misleading intelligence that was supposed to last three days or so but instead will last three years or more and also destroyed U.S. credibility worldwide. Yep, that sounds like WWII alright. Also, it's not surrending if the people we 'liberated' are asking us to leave their country. That's called fulfilling one's promises.

-#3: The friendly disagreement talking point: The White House respects critics of the war, but just doesn't agree with their positions.

The White House stopped their torture-defending campaign earlier this month to smear war critics. At first, these critics were "dishonest" and "irresponsible" and aligned with "Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing" of the Democratic Party. But they quickly changed tune and now criticizing the war is an "entirely legitimate discussion", but the White House just begs to differ. What this basically amounts to is the White House putting on the white gloves before slapping its opponents. The rhetoric against war critics remains as firey and personal as ever.

-#4: The "we won't cut and run" talking point: The United States must stay the course in Iraq; we won't cut and run.

They just mean they won't cut and run on the Democrats' terms. It is known now the U.S. already has a withdrawal plan (that Gen. Casey prepared for the Defense department) and hints from Condoleeza Rice and others confirm it will begin next year. I'm sure Karl Rove is making sure this coincides with key phases in the '06 campaign season.

-#5: The 'watch us rewrite history' talking point: President Bush never linked Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Fox News tool Chris Wallace tried to help out the White House on this front yesterday. Wallace stated: "T]hat specific quote there where you say he couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t saying that they were linked at all. He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn’t saying that they would like to use al Qaeda. So you’re making a link there that the President never made."

Wallace ignores the fact that President Bush, and other administration officials, mentioned Saddam and Al Quaeda and 9/11 together in the same sentences in so many speeches in 2002 and 2003 that polls last year showed an overwhelming number of Americans believed Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Even though Bush had never said Saddam was responsible, they worded everything in a specific way knowing people would make their desired mental conclusion. Still, to say that Bush never linked them is a lie.

In just one speech in November of 2003, Bush said things like "Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks" and "Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training". These statements were, and are, untrue.

Watch Wallace spin like a dreidel here.

I'll stop here for now... before I hurt troop morale.

What if America was Iraq?

I dug up this article that Juan Cole wrote last year, taking what's happening in Iraq and translating it into an American setting so that people can truly grasp the level of violence and anarchy there. The situation hasn't exactly improved in a year, so it's worth reposting. The war supporters try to blow off the violence ("Stuff happens", as Rummy would say) and play up small victories here and there, but if this was their country, they wouldn't call it anything but an unmitigated disaster.

Read the link and think if anything that occurs in that environment can genuinely be called a success...

What if America was Iraq?

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll...

When The Iraqis Stand Up...

History Lesson

During the Second World War, within a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor, Senator Robert A. Taft, 'Mr. Republican,' made these important remarks:

"I believe that there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government..... Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think it will give some comfort to the enemy.... If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country more good than it will do the enemy, and it will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cry Me A River, Cunningham

Another corrupt government official bites the dust. Dropping like flies this year, aren't they? Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty today to taking $2.4 million in bribes. As a member of a House Appropriations subcommittee controlling defense dollars, he took bribes and gifts from defense contractors in exchange for securing them government contracts.

When he resigned from office today, Rep. Cunningham is described as having done so 'tearfully'. Gosh, he must be real broken up about getting caught. My heart is breaking for you, Douche Duke.

Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty to graft and tearfully resigned Monday, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors...

...Cunningham's plea came amid a series of GOP scandals: Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case...

See video of his speech: The Duke goes down Crying

And as if it didn't look bad enough already, Mr. Ethics himself, Tom Delay, came out to defend Cunningham.

Money quote:
"Duke Cunningham is a hero. He is an honorable man of high integrity.”

And Delay would know about integrity.

Laura Bush, You Just Made O'Reilly's List

The war on Christmas continues! Those gosh darn secularists are trying to destroy the wholesome origins of Christmas (in full effect this year)... Luckily for America and Christmas, there are people like O'Reilly looking out for all of us. He has been urging his fan(s) to boycott any stores that use a generic "Happy Holidays" greeting over the phrase "Merry Christmas". Because all them other holidays suck. And because this is apparently an important issue. And because apparently O'Reilly got a ratings boost when he did this same rant last year.

On his radio show earlier today, O'Reilly's plan was to watch "the many ways in which Christmas has been diminished in the marketplace and the public square. He'll name names and look at how the battle for Christmas is shaping up this year." You'll notice that Mr. O'Reilly likes to name names. Occassionally he even follows through on that 'threat'. Joe McCarthy is looking up and smiling. The war on Christmas was also the top story on tonight's episode of the O'Reilly Factor.

I have one name for O'Reilly's list- Laura Bush.

Her unamerican, secularist remarks upon receiving the White House Christmas tree today:
"Well, all things bright and beautiful is the theme this year. I think it will be really bright and beautiful with this fabulous tree. But thank you all very much. Happy holidays. I know this is the real start of the season, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and so I want to wish everybody happy holidays. And we'll see you later this week with the White House decorations."

Laura Bush, you're on notice.

Bush to Press for New Immigration Plan

The President decides to change the subject away from Iraq by unveiling new ideas for revamping the country's immigration policy.

Karl Rove, you tricky devil, you...

Bush to Press for New Immigration Plan

President Bush is trying to build support for a comprehensive immigration strategy — and mollify conservatives wary of his guest worker plan for foreigners — even though Congress has shelved the issue for now.

Republican congressional leaders have postponed work on immigration proposals until early next year, partly because lawmakers are divided over the scope of such changes and whether foreigners illegally working in the United States should be allowed to stay...

If interested, see video of the speech here:
President Bush’s Speech on Immigration

Supreme Court Falling Apart

A chunk of the Supreme Court building fell off:
Supreme Court Chunk Falls By Crowd

Friggin' building is probably trying to commit suicide.

Two Congressmen Hurt After Vehicle Flips in Iraq

Three U.S. congressmen were in Iraq under military escort when their vehicle flipped over; two were injured, but are reported to be doing okay. I certainly applaud any member of Congress who goes over there to see this mess in person. That's real leadership and I respect that. I wish some of the more hawkish members of Congress would do the same (Jean Schmidt, you book that flight yet?). Still, I can't help but wonder how this trip changed the opinions of the three congressmen last week. Do they still want to stay the course? Privately, I'm sure it was more than just bones that were shaken in that trip.

Two Congressmen Hurt After Vehicle Flips in Iraq

A military vehicle carrying three congressmen overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport, injuring two of them, the U.S. Embassy said Sunday.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., was sent to a Baghdad hospital for evaluation, said Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., who was also in the vehicle but was not hurt when it overturned Saturday...

...The politicians were riding in a convoy that was driving in the middle of the road, a common practice used by the military in Iraq to deter oncoming motorists. Shortly after dark, an oncoming tanker truck refused to yield, the embassy said in a statement...

Driving in the middle of the road hoping to avoid disaster? Sounds like Bush's Iraq policy in a nutshell.

Democrats and the War

The Nation issues an ultimatum to wishy-washy Democrats regarding Iraq-

Shit or get off the pot.

Democrats and the War

Everything that needs to be known is now known: The reasons the Bush Administration gave for the American war in Iraq were all falsehoods or deceptions, and every day the US occupation continues deepens the very problems it was supposed to solve. Therefore there can no longer be any doubt: The war--an unprovoked, unnecessary and unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial-style occupation--is a moral and political catastrophe. As such it is a growing stain on the honor of every American who acquiesces, actively or passively, in its conduct and continuation.

The war has also become the single greatest threat to our national security. Its human and economic costs are spiraling out of control, with no end in sight. It has driven America's reputation in the world to a historic low point. In the meantime, real threats suffer terrible neglect. These include more terrorist attacks, jeopardized oil supplies, rising tension with China, the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and even natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. All are pushed aside as this Administration pours the country's blood, treasure and political energy into a futile war. In short, ending the Iraq War is the most pressing issue facing America today. Until it is ended, a constructive national security policy cannot be forged...

[T]ypical, however, are the other presidential hopefuls, Senators Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Evan Bayh, who continue to huddle for cover in "the center." They offer little alternative to Bush's refrain "We must stay the course!" Nor do the party's Congressional leaders and its head, Howard Dean, once a leader of antiwar sentiment. Can such politicians, who cannot even follow a majority--in the Democratic Party, a large majority--really be considered leaders?

The Nation therefore takes the following stand: We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position. Many worry that the aftermath of withdrawal will be ugly, but we can now see that the consequences of staying will be uglier still. Fear of facing the consequences of Bush's disaster should not be permitted to excuse the creation of a worse disaster by continuing the occupation...

...There is no other way to save America's security and honor. And to those Democratic "leaders" who continue to insist that the safer, more electable course is to remain openly or silently complicit in the war, we say, paraphrasing the moral philosopher Hillel: If not now, when? If not you, who?

Note: This was written pre-Murtha. So the "who" question may already be answered.

Sorry, Hillary. You lose.

New Orleans Begins The Journey Back

Some good news out of New Orleans...

-Schools are reopening:
First New Orleans School Opens Since Katrina

Greeted by welcome signs hung over the door and in the hallways, students began returning Monday to the first regular public school to reopen since Hurricane Katrina hit three months ago...

-And Mardi Gras will take place, a little scaled-down:
New Orleans Planning Shorter Mardi Gras

City officials on Wednesday announced a scaled-down plan for next year's Mardi Gras celebration that will still cover both of its traditional weekends but be four days shorter than usual.

The hurricane-battered city's plan is to allow eight days of festivities for the annual pre-Lenten party, and to consider corporate sponsorships to help defray the city's cost, said Ernest Collins with city's Office of Economic Development...

Should be noted these are all local developments/victories- still no help from the White House.

Guess Ward Sutton was right.



Some war-related links...

-A number of Iraq war veterans plan to run for Congress next year. In what must be a frustrating situation for the pundits at Fox News, most of them are Democrats. I wish them all well and give my pity to any of the Jean Schmidt-esque chickenhawks planning to run against them:
Veterans take on new battle: run for office-

'Fighting Dems' see options in the war against terrorism

-A Republican senator urges Bush to publicly address the nation about the war. Wow, slow down Senator, that's crazy talk!:
Senator urges Bush to explain Iraq war

-And Frank Rich once again beautifully sinks his teeth into the lies that lead to war:
Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ...

2nd Time Reporter to Testify in Leak Case

Another Novak has been called to testify in the Plame investigation...

2nd Time Reporter to Testify in Leak Case

A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.

Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue....

President Bush, just pardon everyone on your staff already so we can stop this criminalization of politics.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday Afternoon Reading

Some quick links for now...

#1- World leaders get ready to discuss key environmental issues this week in a big summit. As usual, the Bush administration is not attending. Environment what? Do we live in one of those now? Glad to see the lessons of this past hurricane season are so quickly forgotten. Bushie's gotta get back to work defending torture and pretending he isn't gonna pull out from Iraq next year:
World Leaders to Discuss Strategies for Climate Control-

Bush Administration Shuns Conference On Strategies to Build on Kyoto Pact

The nations of the world will meet in Montreal this week to start discussing the next step in combating the global warming problem, hoping to devise a successor to the Kyoto Protocol that was scorned by the Bush administration in 2001. But the United States is saying it doesn't want to talk...

#2-Ayad Allawi, the guy the Bush administration thought was gonna be Iraq's 'George Washington', gives a damning indictment of the situation in Iraq now, stating the human rights abuses are just as bad as it was under Saddam. He states "People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things." Mission accomplished? The article also makes mention on the likelihood of Bush withdrawing troops next year. No way, man! Bushie won't cut and run! Only cowards do that!:
Abuse worse than under Saddam, says Iraqi leader-

· Allawi in damning indictment of new regime
· Bush prepares way for US troop pull-out

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime...

#3- And the Bush administration, reelected to battle terrorism and bring terrorists to justice, showed just how bad they are at it with the recent indictment of Jose Padilla. The illegal and unconstitutional way they handled this case, which was to be one of their greatest war on terror success stories, has actually made it harder for them to prosecute the case. Incompetent, immoral, and illegal. So glad the Bush crew is running this country:
The Bush Administration's Use of Torture Means Padilla Cannot Be Prosecuted on Original Charges

The U.S. Justice Department has decided not to charge Jose Padilla with trying to build a "dirty bomb" or with having ties to Al Qaeda -- both of which were supposedly why he was arrested in the first place -- because the only evidence supporting those charges comes from two high-ranking Al Qaeda members whose testimony was obtained under torture...

See also this NY Times article:
In Terror Cases, Administration Sets Own Rules

Just another day in George W. Bush's America.

Who's The Bigger Dick?