Friday, September 17, 2004


I saw where even more documents have turned up regarding Dubya's National Guard Vacation--in this instance the New York Times thought it best to focus on an effusive letter from George Senior to Maj. Gen. G.B. Greene Jr., who was then in charge of the training center at Lackland Air Force Base.

But what got me to smile was the document dump apparently contains a press release that's surfaced before. It says:

George Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed. Oh, he gets high, all right, but not from narcotics.

The Smoking Jet has a similar quote:

George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed ... As far as kicks are concerned, Lt. Bush gets his from the roaring afterburner of the F-102.

Now, technically COCAINE isn't in the press release, but I hear that young Dubya (and, apparently, Ms. Laura) took a toke or two at times (hell, that's about the one thing I can actually like about them--well, that, and the Missus apparently was anti-war during the Vietnam era). I guess the TANG wasn't exactly up to speed--no pun intended--when it came to matters Bush.

Now, I don't have any proof, but the more I read about the end days of young George's adventures in the air, the more it seems as if there's something chemical in his past that he doesn't want us to know about. Was he arrested? Did he use family ties to stay out of jail? Hmmm. I know the late J.H. Hatfield has his problems, but that's what he alleged. It'd be nice if a genuine news organization would check around. The documents have probably been burned, but plenty of folks should still be around--it'd be interesting to hear what they have to say...
Swift Yacht Vets for Bush

L:ink from Bad Attitudes: Corey Anderson has storyboards from the upcoming ad.
Good Idea

Saw this at Daily Kos--Drinking Liberally, a way to do something productive while engaging in all the activities one normally does at a bar--because you're AT a bar. Believe it or not, there might be enough left-thinkers floating around Baton Rouge to try this, provided I can find them.

Then again, New Orleans is an hour away--not that I'd want to imbibe then hit I-10 for the return trip. But if a Friday or Saturday happy hour could be organized, there's always the hotel option--or an official designated driver.

Bush bashing by the pint. I could live with that.
Paved With Good Intentions

Counterpunch's Web Site of the Day is a Flash Animation entitled The Road to Hell. Have a look.

As I've often said here (and out in the real world where I live), I'm an A.B.B.'er all the way. The Flash movie makes the point that both major parties are--well, on the road to hell--but I'm not quite ready to throw Kerry out with the bathwater, to mix my metaphors. But at the same time I don't consider the Senator to be the savior--just someone to staunch the bloodflow.

By the way--the link above lets you choose between streaming and downloading. I chose the former, but had to reload once. I guess the Counterpunchers are giving the site plenty of hits today.
Making the Case

The News Hour has a transcript posted of last night's interviews with Jon Soltz and Stan Coerr, both veterans of the Iraq war. Coerr is a Bush supporter, Soltz backs John Kerry.

Here are excerpts from Soltz's remarks:

John Kerry's the only one of the two candidates running for president who understands my war, the war I fought in Iraq, who understands what it's like to be far from your family in a war that... let's be honest, the truth has not been told. John Kerry's the only one of the two candidates who has the ability to put our direction on course...

the first thing we need to note here is that the president is a failed commander- in-chief. President Bush sent soldiers like me to die for weapons that we can't find.

If that doesn't prove that he's failed his last four years as president, frankly, I'm not sure what does. Sen. Kerry is the only one of the two candidates who has the credibility to bring allies to our side.

Our force levels in Iraq are so high that soldiers like myself, who spent, you know, an entire year... or some of them have spent entire years in Iraq, have come home for a year, and are now going back. 43 percent of Operation Iraqi Freedom Three is going to be guard and reserve forces...

And I'll tell you what, going it alone hurt soldiers like me. Going it alone burdened our American army to a point where we've had to back draft people in our military.

I went to war because of this backdoor draft. Even though my time was up, I still went, and I did my duty. But the American public has a right to know the truth about this war...

It was a dark day for me when I had to return home from the war in Iraq, have some bad dreams, go to my veterans hospital only to find out that the same man who sent me to war has turned his back on me when I came home, and decided that he was going to close our veterans hospital here in Pittsburgh on Highland Drive.

He's turned his back on his veterans and he's led our country in the wrong direction in Iraq...

My unit did not have body armor when we went to Iraq. When we got on the ground, I went from Kuwait to Baghdad in a convoy. Baghdad's very different from the southern part of the country where there's a British contingent...

And when we went to Baghdad, I heard my president tell our country that our mission was accomplished, and that same night I had two RPG's flung at my convoy and one of my trucks blown up. He clearly wasn't leveling with the American public. And then when I was in Baghdad, we started losing soldiers every day.

Every day we went out, there was combat. And when one of my soldiers died, I had to hear my commander-in-chief so eloquently entice my enemy with, "Bring it on," a deep sorrow day for me as an officer inside Iraq...

If John Kerry is a traitor, then so am I. John Kerry fought for his right to come home and question his war in Vietnam; 12,000 Americans died after he testified in the senate. And I fought for my right to question this president's policies in Iraq.

It was a dark day for me when I had to go to the hospital in Germany to see one of my soldiers who was blown up. For the first time in my life, you know, I cried in uniform. I had to look at this guy and I had to say to him, you know, "I hope that this is worth it." ...

The fact of the matter is this administration is not being truthful with the war in Iraq. They've continually tried to tie it to al-Qaida. We've committed 85 percent of our ground army. Soldiers like me have died for weapons we can't find.

And they let Osama bin Laden run around in Afghanistan with zero of our ten military divisions not allocated to that. They failed us. They failed our soldiers. They failed our men and women in uniform.

They won't support mandatory funding for veterans health care. They won't support, you know, giving Iraqi veterans more than a two-year claim against the VA system. We know that these soldiers are going to have problems with PTSD. They won't sign a real concurrent receipt. They're closing our veterans hospitals, and they've broken our army to a point where we had to stop loss people in past their time.

It is time for them to level with the American public.

OK, so that was a pretty lengthy excerpt--and I didn't include any of Coerr's remarks, although you can link to the entire segment above and look for yourself. But Mr. Stoltz was eloquent in his statements, and deserves to have his voice heard. In particular, I was glad to finally see some focus paid to the horrible way in which George W. Bush treats veterans. He sees them literally as throw-away soldiers, good for cannon fodder in order to salve his ego (because he won't admit he's wrong) and annoyances upon returning home. Bush's "thanks" to our men and women in uniform is to deny them healthcare--while he exposes them to Depleted Uranium overseas.

Call it compassionate conservatism.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Steve Soto has some interesting information regarding Gallup's polling data and methods--seems as if they've weighted Republican votes more significantly than hard data suggests. That probably why they keep showing a substantial Bush lead (8 points) even as other pollsters show that any sort of Bush bounce, post-convention, has evaporated as quickly as any hard questions about Iraqi WMD's.

Gallup thinks voters who identify themselves as Rethughlican will comprise almost forty percent of the electorate--which would be significantly higher than in 1996 or 2000.

Soto notes two things: first, the Gallup organization has been extremely gracious and open in providing data regarding their methods. Second, he cites Daily Kos to note that the CEO of Gallup is a large contributor to the GOP. Could this possibly influence their decision to give more weight to GOP voters than recent history would suggest?

Perception can be a significant factor in an election outcome. I'll let you decide for yourself if this story is true or not, but I was told a few years back by someone who claimed to be in the know on this: in the 1987 Louisiana Governor's election, Buddy Roemer's pollster took a single percentage point from five other candidate's totals, added them to his guy's numbers, and rode that to victory when Edwards conceded on primary night. Buddy showed "movement" when everyone else was stagnant.

So, I think Gallup's numbers should be taken with a dollup of sodium chloride--and, let's not forget, there might well be a number of NO voters on Bush also not reflected in the polling data--I don't know if anyone has factored in what I think could be a substantial number of people who don't pay attention to politics a whole lot, but who are sick and tired of the pResident running roughshod over basic American principles like the right to be left alone. We'll see, I guess.
Iraq the Vote

Off topic, but: I took advantage of the day off yesterday to handle some chores around my apartment--my home might be my castle, but since I live alone, I'm both king and serf. However, I did have time to stop by a few websites to see what all's happening. First, I'll shout out to everyone in New Orleans--thank the gods the Crescent City was spared the worst of Ivan. At the same time, prayers and mantras go out to those along the Gulf Coast where the storm vented its fury.

Without trying to detract from the devastation wrecked by the hurricane, but if you happened to watch Nightline on Tuesday, you can't help but see similarities between the destruction in Najaf and the aftermath of the storm. Nature of course can't be controlled, but the damage done by the assault should lay waste any claim by the warmongers that the Iraq war will ever be considered a success. To paraphrase the famous line, you don't destroy cities in order to save them.

In this light, a report (that I'm sure most of y'all have heard about) from the National Intelligence Estimate that paints what at best could be considered a bleak picture. Noting that the situation on the ground would likely range from "tenuous" to "civil war" isn't exactly Mission Accomplished--which might be why Scott McClellan endorsed the principle of flip-flopping, or, as he put it, "flexibility."

More good news out of Iraq includes the kidnapping of three civilian contractors--two Americans and a British national, along with a suicide bombing in Baghdad, which killed at least thirteen people. In Fallujah, airstrikes killed upwards of sixty people and injured lord knows how many, thus proving that smart bombs are just as capable of wanton destruction as plain old dumb bombs. The "Coalition Press Information Center" (how's that for an Orwellian-style name?) claimed the dead were all allied with Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, who I guess is rivaling Moqtada Al-Sadr as the Emmanuel Goldstein of the New Iraq. How did the "Coalition Press Information Center" KNOW they were allied with Zarqawi? Hmmm. It doesn't say. I wonder if yet another old aphorism from the Vietnam Era has reared its ugly head: if they're dead they're [enemy].

In New Jersey, a woman who's son was killed in Iraq "heckled" (CNN's term) First Lady Laura Bush, who was stumping for her husband. Apparently Sue Neiderer had the temerity inquire as to when Mrs. Bush's daughters would enlist to help fight this glorious battle. Ms. Niederer was promptly arrested--I guess she'll be charged with exercising her First Amendment rights outside of a "free speech zone."

Kofi Annan apparently found where he left his spine, declaring that the war in Iraq was "illegal," prompting an international tut-tut from Coalition of the Willing--well, actually the US and Britain. I think Australia and Poland made some noise as well, but let's be realistic as to exactly who runs the show. Annan will likely put his spine back in the closet, especially as Dubya plans on addressing the General Assembly next Tuesday.

Not that it would make any difference whatsoever, but I'd love it if the delegates would simply walk out on Bush--after all, Bush has given the UN the finger since January 21, 2001.

Finally here, take a look at the last two installments of The Rude Pundit's plan for destroying (politically) George W. Bush. I won't put words into his mouth, but one element of his strategy is to point out the difference between the coalition that fought in Gulf War I versus the pathetic Coalition of the Willing that Bush II managed to cobble together. I note this because I keep wondering why the press doesn't ask two obvious questions whenever Bush II mouths off about how many countries are participating--one, how many total soldiers are provided by countries OTHER than England, Italy, and Poland, and two, how many countries in the coalition are officially Arabic speaking?

Kuwait is the sole Arabic speaking country officially "with us," in Iraq--although they're providing no soldiers. Coalition partners other than England, Italy, and Poland make up less than one tenth of the total forces (and slightly less than half of the non-US contingent--and the source is a right wing site). That's NOT a genuine coalition--that's window dressing.

So Bush will holler (when he's not mumbling) about how "my opponent" actually changes his mind when confronted by reality--but make no mistake: Bush Blundered, and he blundered badly. And it's a sign of his utter arrogance and inability to empathize that will have him sacrifice more American lives for simply political expediency--so he doesn't have to admit that he made a mistake. Imagine that and think: would YOU willingly send people to die just to save face? Would you vote for someone who does?


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Peckerwood Pericles

Werther's take on the ninth circle of Zell in Counterpunch.

Meanwhile, let me be one more person breathing a sigh of relief in regards to Ivan the terrible hurricane. That said, prayers/mantras go out to the folks along the Gulf Coast who've hopefully either found high ground or at the very least are in solid structures.

I'll be watching the reports throughout the evening--even if I take a little time away from the house. State employees were given the day off tomorrow--which is probably a good thing. Even as the hurricane hits to the east, it'll be a good sized rain with lots o' wind here in Red Stick. If nothing else, fewer folks driving to and from work will leave the streets open for any late evacuees.

See y'all tomorrow.
Making the World Safer

One shooting and three beheadings at a time. Welcome to BushWorld, where everything seen through the looking glass.

Even as I assume they support pResident Bush, Capital Hill Republicans are concerned about the latest sign of desperation regarding the Iraq mess--a last minute plan by the Bushoviks to divert almost $3.5 billion dollars earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction into the security budget.

The request comes as heavy fighting continues between U.S.-led forces and a variety of Iraqi insurgents. The violence and bureaucratic delays have slowed spending of reconstruction funds. Lugar said only $1.14 billion has been spent as of Sept. 8, almost a year after it had been approved by Congress...

Lugar said the reconstruction spending is important for winning the support of Iraqis. Efforts to improve security should be aimed at allowing the projects to proceed, he said.

''If the shift of these funds slows down reconstruction, security may suffer in the long run. In short, security and reconstruction must be achieved simultaneously,'' he said.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., described the request as ''an acknowledgment that we are in deep trouble.''

Under the State Department's proposal, spending for police, border patrols and other security measures would be boosted by $1.8 billion to a total of $5 billion. There would be 45,000 more police, 16,000 more border patrol guards and 20 additional National Guard battalions.

Water and sewer programs which would shrink from more than $4.2 billion to more than $1.9 billion, and electricity, would be reduced by more than $1 billion from $5.47 billion.

I don't know if the Guard battalions are US or Iraqi forces (I'll assume Iraqi unless I find out otherwise), but all evidence suggests any program for arming Iraqis puts guns in the hands of insurgents. Meanwhile, civilian Iraqis will continue to be angered by our inability to provide basic services like water and electricity.

And, for the wingnuts arguing that the Iraqis themselves are to blame: uh, no. As the occupying force, the United States is responsible for security--which includes protection of services like water and utilities.

By the way, if you happened to watch Nightline last night, you could see pretty clearly just how bad things are. Koppel, to his credit, noted that he got it badly wrong in regards to Najaf last January. Back then, the city, holy to Sh'ia Muslims, was relatively calm, and Ted suggested that it could be a model for a future Iraq.

Anyone watching last night's footage would wonder if Ted meant that Iraq could soon enjoy the benefits of Afghanistan-style rubble. The Shrine to Imam Ali might still be relatively unscathed, but the rest of the city is wrecked in a way that makes the Bronx in the late 1970's look like the City of Tomorrow. Any hearts still beating or minds still functioning normally in Najaf will remember the Americans as the folks who blasted the city to smithereens.

Would YOU trust folks who did that to your house, your property, or your city?

Meanwhile, all Bush can do is act as if Iraq is still a simple matter--he was in Lost Wages Monday, crowing about how proud he was to, um, serve in the National Guard if what he did can be dignified with the term service. Meanwhile his twin partner in hate, Dick Cheney, mocked Senator Kerry, who had the temerity to agree with BushDick that the removal of Saddam Hussein was a good thing (again, for the record: I think Kerry's support of the war was NOT a good thing. My own take on Saddam Hussein is that I couldn't give a shit about him, and wish he'd up and die already--but to crow about getting him at the cost of over a thousand killed and seven thousand wounded--200 wounded this week alone--is akin to removing a boil by cutting off a limb. Anyway...). Cheney apparently has plenty of time to mock Senator Kerry--perhaps he could do so at a funeral for one of the soldiers he sent off to die.

Oh--and has anyone actually seen a BushDick plan for Iraq's future? I didn't think so.
Quote of the Morning

From Nevsky42, in comments at Your Right Hand Thief's site.

The article he links to (sounds similar to the USA Today story somewhere down below) has the following line:

Severe flooding in area bayous also forces out wildlife, including poisonous snakes and stinging fire ants, which sometimes gather in floating balls carried by the current.

Oyster's take:
Vote for Democrtats unless you like swimming in a contaminated flood, dodging floating balls of fire-ants.

Nevsky's observation: If we get rid of contaminated flood areas full of floating balls of fire ants, where is Dick Cheney going to be able to deposit his larvae?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

When the Levee Breaks

In Baton Rouge, we've been able to watch the storm news without having to seriously imagine the possibility of a complete wipeout. That's because, for those of y'all hitting the site from outside the state, BR is pretty far inland--about 150 miles as the pelican flies. We're also on relatively high ground, with elevations ranging from 20 to 50 feet above sea level.

An hour south, though, lies (IMHO) the most unique city in the United States, New Orleans. They're not quite so lucky. If Ivan keeps tracking westward (CrawlingWestward, as Oyster put it), well...there are about a million or so folks who just don't want to think about that right now, even as they prepare to get the hell out of Dodge. The question, however, is: will Dodge be there when they can go back?

USA Today has an article about the doomsday scenario. And a while back, the New York Times had a story and interactive which demonstrated how vulnerable the Crescent City is to bad weather.

For the most part, the city is about 5 to 8 feet BELOW sea level (with some exceptions. IIRC, the French Quarter is actually about a foot or so ABOVE sea level--not that it'll mean all that much in this kind of hurricane). The basin is roughly midway between the river and Lake Ponchartrain (I think one of the neighborhoods is Gentilly), and then there's the water diversion scheme adopted after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, which, again IIRC, would push heavy floodwaters eastward. At the time, few people lived in or around New Orleans East, but that's not the case today.

Additionally, the city is more vulnerable to a heavy hit because coastal erosion has taken a big bite out of Plaquemines Parish, which lies south of the Big Easy. The Mississippi River levee giveth, in the sense that it prevents flooding, but it taketh away because the floods themselves deposit silt that builds up to the point where you've got land to begin with down here. Bedrock simply doesn't exist.

New Orleans has for years gambled on not being hit by the big one. Here's hoping the bullet is dodged once more. If Ivan hits east of the city, there will still be heavy wind and rain, but there won't be quite the monster storm surge. If on the other hand, you get a direct hit--or if Ivan lands a little westward, like around Morgan City or Grand Isle--uh oh.
Look Over There

Jeffrey from Library Chronicles found this--the Top 25 Censored Stories for 2004-05 from Project Censored.

Remember, it isn't paranoia if they really ARE out to get you.
Time Lapse Incompentence

Sorry to be a little late on the post today--I was out exercising last night (tennis match), and I'm finding that age catches up with you. Then there's the question of where Hurricane Ivan will vent its fury...

Still, I managed to catch up with my normal sources, and came across this post and link from Your Right Hand Thief, who I hope will be spared the wrath of 'Cane--along with Jeffrey, Daisers, and everyone else down in the Crescent City.

Check out Oyster's post, and, if you have the time, link to the longer article in the Atlantic Monthly. Oyster concludes with "You'd have to be f-ckin crazy to want four more years of these incompetents." Indeed.

Yet, there is surprisingly little reaction from the public. Perhaps this is because the media has managed to hide the loss in Iraq under the rubrick of "terrorism happens," without providing the relatively simple explanation that our loss there is the result of stunning incompentence on the part of those in power.

Unfortunately, the Kerry campaign seems to have straightjacketed itself for the most part when it comes to pointing out the obvious flaws in Team Bush's reasoning. One, Iraq was not a threat. I don't care how many doomsday scenarios the crazies (link also via YRHT) put out, the fact is that Saddam Hussein was a defanged thug hanging on to power through a combination of legacy/inertia and a relatively effective program of targeted thuggery on the part of his security team. His control ranged more or less over about two thirds of Iraq--the northern Kurdish territories were essentially autonomous, for instance.

Hussein was not going to attack us--he was far weaker than he was when he invaded Kuwait. The idea that he'd be in cahoots with fundamentalist Islamic jihadists is ridiculous. Hussein's goal was to hold onto power long enough to pass it along to one of his sons, most likely Qusay. And there's no guarantee that he was in position for this to happen.

Besides, the price thus far--one thousand plus US soldiers killed, roughly seven thousand wounded, more than ten thousand Iraqi civilians--all for one pathetic creep, two of his sons, and his grandson--is hardly a price I'd find acceptable.

Were there alternatives to immediate invasion? Probably. The alternatives would have required more than the intelligence provided by a confirmed liar like Ahmad Chalabi--never forget that conservatives who supported the invasion were basically tools of this asshole. Hell, the invasion itself could have (and, in retrospect, SHOULD HAVE) followed some of the dictates of the so-called Powell Doctrine, at least those parts regarding overwhelming force being used against the enemy. But, remember, the Bush Team wasn't fighting for strategic reasons--this was supposed to be the icing on the reelection cake.

In the end, we didn't even have a single Arabic-speaking country truly sign on with the invasion. Not Saudi Arabia--and even Kuwait, Saddam's target, only provided an entry to Iraq.

Why don't the wingnuts ever mention that?

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Persistence of Memory

This post at Daily Kos links to a Newsweek article about the latest news from Iraq, which, to put it diplomatically, is FUBAR'ed in a way that almost does injustice to the term FUBAR:

It's not only that U.S. casualty figures keep climbing. American counterinsurgency experts are noticing some disturbing trends in those statistics. The Defense Department counted 87 attacks per day on U.S. forces in August--the worst monthly average since Bush's flight-suited visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln in May 2003. Preliminary analysis of the July and August numbers also suggests that U.S. troops are being attacked across a wider area of Iraq than ever before. And the number of gunshot casualties apparently took a huge jump in August. Until then, explosive devices and shrapnel were the primary cause of combat injuries, typical of a "phase two" insurgency, where sudden ambushes are the rule. (Phase one is the recruitment phase, with most actions confined to sabotage. That's how things started in Iraq.) Bullet wounds would mean the insurgents are standing and fighting--a step up to phase three.

Another ominous sign is the growing number of towns that U.S. troops simply avoid. A senior Defense official objects to calling them "no-go areas." "We could go into them any time we wanted," he argues. The preferred term is "insurgent enclaves." They're spreading. Counterinsurgency experts call it the "inkblot strategy": take control of several towns or villages and expand outward until the areas merge. The first city lost to the insurgents was Fallujah, in April. Now the list includes the Sunni Triangle cities of Ar Ramadi, Baqubah and Samarra, where power shifted back and forth between the insurgents and American-backed leaders last week. "There is no security force there [in Fallujah], no local government," says a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad. "We would get attacked constantly. Forget about it."

Kos goes on to point out that he and Steve Gilliard both foresaw the possibility of a protracted campaign back in the days when the warbloggers were braying "Mission Accomplished" --and one particular Jackass (no pun intended) announced

"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice. There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on."

Well, they brought 'em on. But then I thought to myself, "Hey, wait a minute. Wasn't there a military exercise in 2002 that, while not getting all the details correct, portended one hell of a lot less rosy scenario than the one Bush promised?" Turns out, my brain cells were functioning correctly.

Here's a link to The Guardian UK's article on Operation Millenium Challenge. Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, the nominal commander of "the enemy," i.e., Iraq, ran circles around "the good guys," to the extent that the rules were changed to ensure he lost.

Unfortunately, in a real war, you can't change the rules in the midst of combat.

Now, to be sure, Van Riper's tactics are in many ways different from the actual strategems used by the Iraqi resistance, but the point is quite clear: the US is not invincible. And the situation on the ground in Iraq at this point favors the insurgents. No, that's not playing into the hands of the enemy--just the opposite. It's taking a very hard look at the facts and not letting emotion hold sway over intellect.

This is why the Bush team is doing their best to package the debate on Iraq in the simplest possible terms--us versus them, if you don't believe us, then you must love Saddam, etc. However, Iraq is NOT easy, and no matter how much paper you use to cover up the festering sore that it's become, you can't hide the fact that soldiers are dying, Bush was lying, and the US (and the world) are worse-off because of this foolhardy invasion. Adding insult to the injury is that it wasn't like there weren't warnings--Bush just chose to ignore them.

Just like he ignored his guard service. Just like he ignored his business failings.

Who's gonna bail him out this time?
Top Ten

The Top Ten Conservative Idiots is actually an abbreviated list this week--there are only four idiots, but, boy, talk about a big four: George W. Bush clocks in with six instances, Dick Cheney picks up a couple (or several, if Bushspeak is used), while the Media and Bill O'Reilly each grab a slot. O'Reilly's is particularly good--he apparently fell for a Bart Simpson like prank.

Now, there's definitely idiocy to be found on the link--but what about those who FOLLOW the idiots? I'm reminded of the line in Trainspotting: They're [the Brits] just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers.
On Playing for Keeps

Several items ended up on my electronic reading list that are worth mentioning. Via the new James Wolcott blog, this post from Digby which further links to Steamboats Have Ruined Everything, which goes back to someone named William Hazlitt, writing an essay in 1820 entitled On the Spirit of Partisanship:

They do not celebrate the triumphs of their enemies as their own: it is with them a more feeling disputation. They never give an inch of ground that they can keep; they keep all that they can get; they make no concessions that can redound to their own discredit; they assume all that makes for them; if they pause it is to gain time; if they offer terms it is to break them: they keep no faith with enemies: if you relax in your exertions, they persevere the more: if you make new efforts, they redouble theirs. While they give no quarter, you stand upon mere ceremony. While they are cutting your throat, or putting the gag in your mouth, you talk of nothing but liberality, freedom of inquiry, and douce humanité. Their object is to destroy you, your object is to spare them---to treat them according to your own fancied dignity. They have sense and spirit enough to take all advantages that will further their cause: you have pedantry and pusillanimity enough to undertake the defence of yours, in order to defeat it. It is the difference between the efficient and the inefficient; and this again resolves itself into the difference between a speculative proposition and a practical interest.

Digby's take:

Hazlitt was right. And never more than today when the stakes are so high.

As I said, we have been fighting this beast forever. Conservatives are just more inclined to fight and more serious about winning. But, I have seen the Republican agenda change from conservative to radical in the last 30 years and their candidates from steady, stolid leaders to firebrands and incompetents. America is the most powerful nation on earth. If the modern GOP boasted prudent, tested leadership and a simple desire to avoid radical change, I would still oppose them but I would not be worried. But, these people want to wildly experiment on a global scale and their track record of the last three years is devastating. History proves that bad things do sometimes happen. Being barely left standing to say "I told you so" will be no compensation.

In the same spirit, The Rude Pundit offers his own advice, beginning with this stand-up metaphor:

The Rude Pundit is Godzilla to Rove's Tokyo.

He goes on:

The pundits are wrong about the effect of negative campaigning. Any viewing public that wants to know about Scott Peterson, wants to see car wrecks at NASCAR, and watches Growing Up Gotti and Bill O'Reilly is essentially the same crowd that was rooting for the lions at the Coliseum back in the day. And you gotta choose: are you a lion or a slave? It's time for Kerry to learn what delicious fresh organ meat tastes like. He needs to gnaw on some intestines.

I for one am glad that someone else notices the anomaly of negative campaigning: nobody says they LIKE negative campaigns, but they are devastatingly effective. I've posted on this several times--my own take is that a 'lesser-of-evils' system like we've got all but guarantees that the better negative campaigner will have the advantage. Right now, Rove is taking his pound of flesh. But he's not entitled to a drop of blood (the last line was shamelessly taken from this NY Times Magazine piece about one Billy Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice). At the same time, as Alexander Cockburn points out, Kerry keeps dropping the ball by refusing to make some mightly big Bush negatives part of his message.

Now, to be fair, some Bush negatives are becoming part of the debate--to wit, the now infamous memos that have sparked a debate rarely seen--But they've become an argument on the ability of typewriters to produce superscript characters. Unfortunately, this detracts from the real issue, that Bush the young man was irresponsible in a manner remarkably consistent with his present persona. That's because no one really wants to discuss the twin fuck ups of Iraq and Afghanistan--and Team Bush is effectively deflecting any debate on the economy via their man-behind-the-curtain control of Swift Boat Veterans Who Lie.

Well, it's time that someone took the gloves off of the Kerry campaign (The Rude Pundit suggests taking out Bush's kneecaps--figuratively, I assume). The CBS and USA Today memos (Digby credits USA Today with the two extras) can and should be used to attack the essential character of George W. Bush as a liar (this is contemporary, as Bush lied about his service record when running for president); they should ask pointed questions as to his history of drug and alcohol abuse, they should ask why he declared the war over in Iraq when it had barely begun, they should ask why Afghanistan is still a mess and Karzai can barely drive through Kabul without a phalanx of US troops guarding him (the same goes for Allawi in Iraq), they should ask him why two million employed Americans in the year 2000 were subsequently laid off and haven't yet been rehired, they should ask him why our roads stink and our schools aren't performing to standars, they should ask why our water and air quality are getting worse, and why 45 million Americans don't have health insurance--while Halliburton rakes up government contracts like so much swill at the trough, and Ken Lay enjoys his numerous houses when he should be placed in the stockade and pelted with rotten vegetables--and THEN sent to jail.

And when this has been done over and over, take the time to remind the public that the conservative movement is just plain dumb--they honestly think the US would WANT to go it alone as cop-of-the-world, when anyone with more than a few functioning brain cells can see the advantage of establishing common cause with allies--hell, if nothing else, that would allow us to strengthen areas RIGHT HERE where we are vulnerable--our ports, our airports, and so on.

Keep hammering away at the Dauphin--and watch him squirm. That's the one thing Bush can't handle--thinking on his feet. In fact, thinking period seems like a bit of a test for him.

Monster Truck

If a Hummer still makes you feel like a girlie-man (and, as a friend recently noted, how can anyone NOT laugh at the name "Hummer"), then try out Navistar's new offering:

The new CXT, short for commercial extreme truck and built from the same platform as the heavy truck maker's typical tow truck or cement mixer, will be sold starting this week by Navistar's International Truck & Engine subsidiary.

At 258 inches, or 21-1/2 feet long, the CXT's about 4-1/2 feet longer than the new Hummer H2 pickup, and about 2 inches longer than the F-350 Crew Cab. But it really towers over what's on the road now is in height, at 108 inches, or 11 feet, a foot above a basketball rim and more than two feet taller than the Hummer or the F-350...

The price for the CXT ranges from about $93,000 to $115,000 fully loaded, with such creature comforts as a DVD player and leather upholstery.

Buyers will also have to have a fair amount of money to fill it up -- it's projected to get between 6 and 10 miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

No word on how many soldiers a day.
The Greening of Iraq

This post by Timshel alerted me to a local story about Iraq, published in today's Advocate. After taking about 30 seconds or so to disprove a few assertions made in the piece, Mr. Prado concludes:

I don't mean to diminish the hard and entirely necessary work Major Juan Rodriguez and his brothers are doing in Iraq, but sometimes a little context is necessary for these things. Iraq won't ever be a better place with more people out there like him. Unfortunately rebuilding a boardwalk isn't going to make up for indiscriminate bombing, tortuous prisons, and near-total lack of a plan for victory. This is a completely screwed situation I don't have any answers for, and while these stories are welcome, a little bit of context couldn't hurt. Things aren't a picnic over there.

That's a pretty effective summation.

One other thing: as I noted in comments at his site, the report indicates, perhaps erroneously, that the boardwalk being repaired is within the Green Zone. Unfortunately, the reporter, Debra Lemoine, doesn't make it clear whether or not she understands what the Green Zone IS, namely the part of Baghdad where a modicum of security exists and where the administrative headquarters of the US and the Iraqi government are. Interestingly, it is the part of Baghdad where Saddam built his own set of administrative structures--which the US and interim government are using.

I wonder if Iraqis feel a little like 'meet the new boss, same as..."

The Green Zone is surrounded for the most part by a twenty-five foot high concrete wall, and access is extremely limited for average Iraqis. By the way, the Zone isn't entirely safe--mortar attacks occur with some frequency, along with bombings in or around the entrances--but it's a lot safer for Westerners than other areas (particularly Sadr City, which is pretty much a no-go, except for the odd convoy).

So, I guess it's nice to see that some sort of project is ongoing--and, hopefully, it will be something of benefit to the population one day. But under the circumstances, it seems as if this is the proverbial drop in the bucket, while the rest of Iraq is experiencing the outer eye-wall of a figurative hurricane.

Or, as I concluded in my comments, it's like trying to bail out the Titanic with a demitasse cup, even though it's been quite some time since the ship struck the iceberg.
War is Politics by Other Means

At least two of the big hitters in the blogosphere, Atrios and Steve Gilliard, point to this Washington Post article about the assault on Fallujah last April. Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, the commander on the ground, has some interesting things to say about the decision to attack:

Conway arrived in Iraq in March pledging to accelerate reconstruction projects as a way to subdue Anbar province, dominated by Sunni Muslims. But on March 31 he was confronted in Fallujah with the killing of four U.S. security contractors, whose bodies were mutilated or burned by a celebrating mob. Conway said he resisted calls for revenge, and instead advocated targeted operations and continued engagement with municipal leaders.

"We felt like we had a method that we wanted to apply to Fallujah: that we ought to probably let the situation settle before we appeared to be attacking out of revenge," he said in an interview with four journalists after the change-of-command ceremony. "Would our system have been better? Would we have been able to bring over the people of Fallujah with our methods? You'll never know that for sure, but at the time we certainly thought so."

He echoed an argument made by many Iraqi politicians and American analysts -- that the U.S. attack further radicalized a restive city, leading many residents to support the insurgents. "When we were told to attack Fallujah, I think we certainly increased the level of animosity that existed," Conway said.

He would not say where the order to attack originated, only that he received an order from his superior at the time, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the overall commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Some senior U.S. officials in Iraq have said the command originated in the White House.

Moving the clock back up to the present, today's news is unfortunately more of the same and then some. Dozens of Iraqis from throughout the country were killed in the various attacks by insurgents, followed by US retaliation (which was indiscriminate, killing combatants, non-combatants, and a correspondent for Al-Arabiya television).

In this type of war, tactical "victories" can amount to strategic defeats, and that's pretty much what occurred here. There is not a single area that could be described as "pacified," and our continued resort to military action will continue to outrage a population sick and tired of our presence.

Bush and his supporters will argue that the mission ended the regime of Saddam. Well, yes. But to crow about this "accomplishment" when the true measure of the Iraq invasion continues to play out is like a football team assuming they'll win because they scored a field goal in the first quarter. And, in this case, it looks like Team Bush really didn't have a plan for the rest of the game.

So, instead, they'll simplify (imagine that). Anyone who dares criticize will be accused of being a "Saddam lover," or worse. Iraq itself will be swept under the rug by a compliant press corps that dares not upset the dauphin and his vicious, evil Roveservant. Unfortunately for the country and especially for those actually wearing the uniform, such simplification and obfuscation means they'll both pay the price and be ignored--which suits Bush just fine. He personally never had much use for the military anyway.

This country, however, DOES have a strong, vested interest in our soldiers--not to mention a strong, vested interest in our reputation as a nation. Allowing the Bushoviks free reign is costing us dearly. Our position in Iraq is untenable. The doctrine of Preventive War has proven to be an utter failure. The costs of Bush's invasions, in lives and money, show no sign of abating any time soon, and our power and prestige have sunk significantly. When we finally pull out of Iraq--and we will--the world will perceive it--correctly--as a loss, and this will reduce our influence even further.

Amazing--all this because Bush wanted a glorious little war to base his reelection on...