Friday, October 22, 2004

Bush "Just Doesn't Get It"

Read this open letter by Brooke M. Campbell to George W. Bush--and, once again, take a look at the advertisement, if you've got the chance. Summary: Brooke's brother Ryan was killed on April 29th--four days after his tour should have ended. Thanks to Donald Rumsfeld's idiocy, however, Seargent Campbell's tour was extended.

In March, as Campbell points out, Bush appeared at a black tie dinner and joked about the non-existent WMD's. A month later, her brother was killed looking for them.

Hardly the subject of a joke.
Paper or Plastic? Hmmmm.

Ben Tripp examines the undecided voter:

If you shout "fire" in a crowded theater, most people will respond, one way or another. Most of them will run out onto the sidewalk and start to form a lynch mob; some of them will boldly check the theater for combustion-related activities. The undecided voter is the guy still sitting there in the middle of row 43. And not because there wasn't a fire. This mug just can't make up his mind whether to burn to death or see the rest of the movie.

Tripp goes on to identify three types of undecided voter--there are probably more than three types, but three always fits nicely into written or spoken opinion (well, for the record, Tripp actually identifies FOUR types, but dead people are likely to remain torn between Bush, Kerry, or a minor party candidate). First, there are the contrarians ("you can't make me!"), then you've got the attention mongers ("yes, I'd be happy to take your takes-forever-to-complete, god-awful-survey--and did I tell you about the time I almost broke my leg skiing?"), and finally, the true undecided, who's place on the linear hierarchy of existence is somewhat below that of slime molds. That might be a little harsh, though, considering their peergroup--reporters for the mainstream media (OK, not you, Ian)--really haven't given them much to go by.

In his second paragraph, though, Tripp makes note of an interesting group of people which the media is doing their level best to ignore--GOP'ers who've finally had enough. Daily Kos has a page that notes some of the more significant individuals and organizations that recognize the danger of four more years of Bush. Compare and contrast Kos's list with another--the list of beliefs held by Bush's supporters of things that are just plain wrong. Not open to argument--but demonstrably false.

Why hasn't the media noted that? If the reverse was true, i.e., if a Democratic candidate for president was leaking this kind of support, the media would most likely be asking "how big of a rout will it be?" Yet, they've simply omitted this story, proving that the propagandist's most effective tool is often silence.

And, if you think about it, the media HAS gone out of their way to profile the reverse--we were treated to "40 minutes of Zell" during the coronation ceremony for the dauphin, followed by the first serious attempt to have a live duel in the television age...
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The Three Little Pigs, Apparently.
The New York Times, Talking Points Memo, and Campaign Extra have more--the latter includes a link to Bush's web site where you can see this pathetic attempt to channel the ghost of Reagan's "Bear in the Woods" ad.

They will stop at nothing...

I Approve this Message

Salon (subscription required or wait through an ad) notes organized efforts by some who are so put out by Bush that they'll put out to see him ousted:

The party in question would be the climax (if you will) of, a nonpartisan activist group whose Web site encourages "young people everywhere to have sex with voters on Election Night, and to withhold sex from non-voters until the next presidential election." Votergasm also features racy voting-themed photo spreads and a game in which players must guess a voter's party affiliation based solely on the person's head shot. The group's goal, according to the Votergasm home page, is to "send 100,000 first-time 18 to 25 year old voters to polls for the 2004 elections, and to catalyze 250,000 orgasms by the morning of November 3."

Salon comes through (no pun intended) with links to and Porn for Progress, which are also proclaiming the power of libido over Dubya. Salon's link is safe for work. Use your discretion with the other three.

They're going all out for the cause...
Dubya: "Deciding Your Trick or Treat Costume--Is Hard Work"

Some of the big league bloggers have noted Dubya's "planned day off" this Saturday, and have speculated this could be a sign that the October Surprise is nigh. A friend alerted me to the fact that Colin "Paisley" Powell is off to Asia this weekend, possibly providing cover for the pReznit.

The Talent Show, though speculates that Bush's vacation could simply be a chance to play dress up again. They think Commander Codpiece might have a taste for leather this time.

And somebody needs to tell him that trick or treat ends at 8 o'clock sharp.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Drug War

Riverbend has some interesting remarks about Iraqi pharmacopia--both legal and illegal--as well as what you do to stay calm when combat rages all around.

That's another thing that angers me about the wingnuttery regarding the debacle--they don't seem to have the first clue as to what modern war entails. No, I don't have personal evidence either, but at least I try to imagine the consequences of dropping multiple 2,000 pound bombs, smart or not, into an urban area. I try to consider the implications of clusterbombs in a confined space. I at least contemplate the noise of tanks, RPG's, assualt rifles, machine guns, and the potential destruction these devices can wreck on a region. Wingnuts don't care at all. Instead, they come up with more and more ridiculous analogies to justify the loss of life, the injuries, and the carnage--while they sit comfortably at their desks.
Took the Cure

Timshel restored my sense of outrage, linking to this Media Matters page about Mary Landrieu's appearance on Fox News last night.

Since my cable package doesn't have Fox News (and I wouldn't watch it--much--even if it did) I've been relatively innoculated from the slithering globule of infectious pus embodied in the entity known as Sean Hannity. The .wmv file is probably the most I've seen of it. And it makes me glad I don't watch Fox News--my televison would be shattered many times over.

I've not been all that impressed with Landrieu at times, but she absolutely did the right thing last night. Hannity looked and sounded like the disease I assumed him to be, based on what I've read. Check out Timshel's link, and hit Media Matters as well if you want to/have time to do so.

And, if you don't: Thing Hannity berates Senator Landrieu--that's right Sean, it's SENATOR Landrieu--show some respect--because she refuses to take his ridiculous bait regarding whether or not Kerry's mentioning Mary Cheney during the final debate was "appropriate." Landrieu was asked to appear in order to respond to a Cheney "interview" with Hannity--and she said she was going to stick to the topic, which she did. Hannity proceeded to throw a hissy fit.

I'd call Hannity a prick, but that would be insulting to those who've earned being called a prick. Hannity's a weenie.
From "The Glass Half Full" Department

The Onion's front page story this week is "US Finishes a Strong Second in Iraq War:

BAGHDAD—After 19 months of struggle in Iraq, U.S. military officials conceded a loss to Iraqi insurgents Monday, but said America can be proud of finishing "a very strong second."...

American tanks and infantry surged out to an impressive early lead in March 2003, scoring major points by capturing Baghdad early in the faceoff. The stage seemed set for a second American victory in as many clashes with Iraq, with commentators and generals alike declaring the contest all but decided with the fall of Tikrit in April 2003.

"In spite of jumping out to an early lead and having the better-trained, better-equipped team, I'm afraid we still came up short in the end," Casey said. "Sometimes, the underdog just pulls one out on you. But there's no reason for the guys who were out in the field to feel any shame over this one. They played through pain and injury and never questioned the strategy, even when we started losing ground."

"The troops were great out there," Casey continued. "It's not their fault the guys with the clipboards just couldn't put this one away."

Casey said that, although the U.S. military did not win, it did set records for kills, yardage gained, palaces overrun, defensive stops, and military bases stolen.

"The Americans can be proud of the numbers," Casey said. "All things considered, there was some very impressive maneuvering out there. We kept the folks at home on the edge of their seats, that's for sure."

PFC Brian Walters was part of a squad defending Fallujah for the past three months.

"We're looking at an opponent who just keeps coming at you until the echo of the whistle," Walters said. "I gotta hand it to them, they weren't gonna roll over. We were just out there playing not to lose."

Former civil administrator of Iraq L. Paul Bremer said the U.S. troops performed admirably, adding that overconfidence may have been a factor.

"After that strong start, I really thought that we were going to take it home," Bremer said. "I'd say we can chalk this loss up to a combination of Iraq's home-field advantage and a poor second-half U.S. game plan."

Here's the rest of the article.

Non Issues

Sorry for not posting sooner, but I've been a little busy here at work (also, Blogger wouldn't let me log in until the sixth try), and there's also little that's registered on my outrage meter--well, beyond the usual stuff, which I'll get to in a bit.

However, I just finished reading Chris Suellentripe's (typo deliberate) ridiculous Slate column that follows up on the equally stupid "Kerryisms" they ran this summer (do they still run Kerryisms? I haven't seen any in a while). Yes, Kerry speaks in complex sentences. Some people would even consider that a sign of intelligence.

I don't know--maybe Suellentripe prefers the incoherence of his dog in the race. Watching Bush bark in response to piddling questions is an exercise in national embarrassment.

Then there's the "outrage" over Theresa Heinz Kerry's statement about Laura Bush. Ms. Kerry said, "Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job -- I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things."

Ms. Kerry apologized when reminded that Ms. Bush was a librarian and schoolteacher until 1977. Yet Karen Hughes, the female prison guard of the administration, further upbraided Ms. Kerry--because being a mother "is a real job."

Manufactured outrage--yawn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The New York Times's um, Stiff Upper Lip

The "newspaper of record"--well, the paper, formally known as the newspaper of record, once again manages to be unintentionally funny, this time with their description of Jon Stewart's reality television makeover of Crossfire:

"They said I wasn't being funny," the star of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" said, rolling his eyes expressively. "And I said to them: 'I know that. But tomorrow I will go back to being funny," Mr. Stewart said, adding that their show would still be bad, although he used a more vulgar expression...

He also used an epithet for the male reproductive organ to describe Mr. Carlson.

Sort of reminds me of this:

Vice President Dick Cheney cursed at Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, in a confrontation on the Senate floor while members were having their annual group picture taken earlier this week. . . . According to [an] aide, Mr. Cheney . . . responded with a barnyard epithet, urging Mr. Leahy to perform an anatomical sexual impossibility.
The Washington Times.

After Mr. Cheney successfully delivered the epithet and started to walk away, Mr. Leahy sotto voce referred to the Vice-President using a term more often heard in taverns and locker rooms than in the august Senate chamber, a term that refers to a sexual act commonly acknowledged as taboo among all cultures that proscribe incestuous contact between a mother and a son.

Mr. Cheney apparently hearing Mr. Leahy's remark stopped, turned, and invited his colleague from across the aisle to engage in a sexual act that is considered a felony in some states, and which involves oral-genital contact.

Mr. Leahy then suggested that the president of the Senate take his gavel and use it to perform an act that, while not technically impossible in anatomical terms, would certainly be considered both unseemly and unhygienic, and which would require an unusual combination of single-minded ambition and physical relaxation.

Mr. Cheney wasted no time in informing Mr. Leahy that he should feel free to perform yet another anatomical impossibility this one involving aviation, a standard sexual act, and a rolling doughnut.


It's Only a Game, but...

James Wolcott's closing paragraph about last night's Red Sox/Yankees game makes a very valid point:

Twice, the umpires set aside their professional egos, practiced true collegiality, erased a mistake, and did the right thing, risking the wrath of Yankee fans. Think how rare that's been in the Bush-Cheney years, admitting error and correcting it--taking the right stand after making the wrong stand. Last night the umps reminded me of a better America I'd almost forgotten we'd had, one where reason every once in a while prevails.


From Salon

Their caption? Let's Roll!
More Wednesday Fun

Another from Needlenose, this time Swopa directs you to Bad Reporter--make sure to check out the fine print.

Then there's a link from Atrios, so you've probably seen it: Spring Break Fallujah, featuring the Bush twins in camoflauge. Like Mr. Eschaton's caption says, it's "just like Nintendo--except you die." Something also tells me an Iraqi spring break might not be quite as "Girls Gone Wild" as the one in Florida.
Shop Till You...

Saw this at Needlenose--Greenboy cites Unfair Witness as his source:

The Banana Republican Catalogue
Warning: Drink at your own discretion when viewing--I almost spit my coffee out.
The Final Four

Not Kerry/Edwards and Cheney/Bush, but the best press hacks on the campaign trail, according to New York Press's third round of Wimblehack 2004. There's even a gratuitous (and safe for work) picture of Lena Olin (long story--check out the link).

Anyway, I was 50/50 on picking the final four, selecting Elizabeth Bumiller and James Bennet to move on--well, to be fair, I gave an explicit nod to Bumiller, and strongly implied Bennet would make it based on the draw (Bennet was matched with Gorm Voelver of Politiken, the Danish source for Campaign USA 2004). Alas, I thought sure Cal Thomas would come through, but Karen Tumulty obliterated him--you've really got to check the article for the full story. And in the bracket I stayed away from, Howard Fineman scored a decisive victory over Jill Zuckerman, setting up a Time/Newsweek death match in the semis. The New York Times (described as akin to Spanish clay court specialists at Roland Garros in the initial article) finds itself in a zero-sum game in the other bracket.

So--who advances? Um, Lena Olin. No, that's a DIFFERENT contest. This is for media hack/whore/shill of the 2004 season--the gold medalist of hackdom. Only once every four years do we get a chance to see them stoop THIS low (off-year elections are sort of like the Winter Olympics in this particular metaphor).

Damn, this is difficult...but I'll have to go with Bumiller over Bennet, and, based on her extraordinary effort (like I said, the article is worth reading), Tumulty over Fineman. We'll see what New York Press decides.

Finally, here's one of the passages that caught my eye. You'll have to guess as to the other:

ANY YOUNG JOURNALIST working the campaign trail for the first time will quickly learn how to spot the New York Times reporter on the plane. Unfailingly, the Times guy is the one sitting in the pole position at the front aisle seat just behind the candidate and his entourage, and in crowds he's the one with the four-foot rod up his ass who pushes everybody out of the way to get to the front because he's the New York Times, goddamnit.
Bush to Vets: Thank You for Your Sacrifice--Now Go Away

1.7 Veterans have no health insurance, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School and advocacy group Physicians for a National Health Program.

more than 1 in 3 veterans under age 25 lacked health coverage in 2003, as did 1 in 7 veterans, age 25 to 44, and 1 in 10 age 45 to 65...

more than two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed and 86 percent had worked in the past year, according to the analyses of government surveys...

"Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people. And uninsured veterans are denied the care they need - turned away because they can't pay," said Steffie Woolhandler, a study author and co-founder of [PNHP]...

Many of the uninsured veterans were barred from Veterans Health Administration services by a 2003 Bush administration order halting enrollment of most middle-income veterans...

The new rule excluded from VA medical care unmarried veterans earning more than $25,000 annually and married veterans earning $30,000.

Terry Schow, director of the Utah Division of Veterans' Affairs, said uninsured veterans earning even less also are ineligible for VA services because they own a ranch or a farm.

In other words, let's shatter some myths: uninsured veterans are NOT for the most part mentally ill and/or homeless. Uninsured veterans are NOT simply too far away from VA facilities. Uninsured veterans find themselves without health care coverage because the Bush administration decided to cut them out in order to save what amounts to a drop in the bucket when it comes to the federal budget. How compassionate.

For the record: a number of years ago, I drove a taxi up in Madison (Union Cab), and sometimes dropped folks off at the VA Hospital. It was right next to UW Hospital geographically, but it might as well have been in the Third World in terms of what the waiting area/check in looked like. I don't know--maybe the working part of the facility was in better shape, but I doubt it. And this place was probably one of the better VA Hospitals.

Veterans, whether or not they served in combat, swore an oath to defend the United States--to the death, if necessary. In return, we OWE the men and women of our military, at the very least, a decent set of benefits--including lifetime heath care--as well as our gratitude.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

On Progress and the Press

ABC News reports on the kidnapping of the Baghdad head of CARE:

Gunmen seized the head of CARE International's operations in Iraq a woman who has worked on behalf of Iraqis for three decades as the British government on Tuesday weighed a politically volatile American request to transfer soldiers to dangerous areas near the capital.

One can only hope that Margaret Hassan will be as lucky as John Martinkus, who was held for 24 hours before being released by militant nationalists.

Why doesn't SOMEONE important make a very public statement asserting that "progress" is NOT people being beheaded? Progress is NOT people being abducted. Progress is NOT bombings EVERY day. Progress is NOT suicide bombers killing people in the getting redder by the day zone. Progress is NOT sending soldiers off on a suicide mission.

Hussein's been overthrown...well, jolly good for, well, um whoever. It certainly hasn't affected ME one iota. Bush, though, crows about it like that alone is worthy of ultimate celebration. Hey, Mr. pResident, here's some news: just because you put your name on the correct line of the test doesn't mean you aced it. You actually have to answer the questions as well.

A genuine newsperson would ask Bush if he'd be willing to personally tell the families of those who've been beheaded that "they're better off." A genuine reporter would ask Bush to explain how "progress" coincides with suicide bombings throughout the country. And, a genuine newsperson wouldn't allow the dauphin to strut around, sneer, or pout when asked an uncomfortable question. I think it was H. L. Menken (note: yeah, it was) who said "the only way a reporter should look at a politician is down." Yet, the press corps fawns over Bush to such an extent that you'd think they were trying to take him to their high school prom.

Forget it, press corps. The guy has a mommy complex.
Top Ten Conservative Idiots

Democratic Underground had their final debate summary before heading into the stretch run of chronicling conservative idiots. In the interest of ensuring no dilution of the idiot pool, they decided to focus at the top of the slag heap, concentrating on Dubya.

Points of emphasis--check out #3, that is, the non-story about--gasp--Mary Cheney's lesbianism. Hmmm. Short version: Lynne author of lesbian novel Sisters (excerpt: Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl), is all in a huff--indeed, her face is Rethuglican red because she's in such a snit--because John Kerry mentioned her daughter last week. Kerry, for those who don't remember, suggested that the younger Ms. Cheney likely considers her sexual preference to be essentially innate--unlike GOop'ers Rick Santorum, Jerry Fawell, and Alan Keyes. Indeed, Fawell and Keyes made an example out of Mary Cheney, the former describing her as "errant," the latter using the term "selfish hedonist" (Hey, what's wrong with a little selfish hedonism every now and then?). Lynne has zero shame. If there was true justice in the world, she'd personally get saddled with Halliburton's asbestos debt once Big Time has the Big One, leaving her a pauper. Alas, that'll never happen (the debt, not the Big One for Big Time), so I'll have to simply visualize Lynne Cheney as Bag Lady. But, damn that would be nice.

Also, take a look at #5, the We love--no, hate--no, love Canadian medicine. Yes, that's the initial irony regarding the vaccine debacle. But DU does the research, and discovers that the "personal accountability" administration, which blames England this time, forgot to mention that the firm which produced the contaminated vaccines is an outsourced company. Think about it--if they hadn't gone to the land of tea-drinking limey scum, which happens to have an excellent board of health (the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency), who knows how many contaminated doses would have wound up here.

Then there's point #6--Bush's insistance that he "met" with the Congressional Black Caucus...well, in a manner of speaking, he did--after they showed up at the White House and refused to leave. Bob Schieffer probably represents most of the working press in the sense that I seriously doubt he had any clue as to the particulars of the meeting and how it came about--because he probably has no clue as to issues affecting the black community, and likely couldn't care less. I'll bet Bob is VERY concerned, though, about making sure his dinner reservations are in order for whatever posh Washington restaurant he chooses to head to tonight.

The rest of the list is worth reading as well, so check it out if you've got the time.

You're Fired

CNN reports that Jon Leiberman, Washington bureau chief for Sinclair Broadcasting, was fired by the company after criticizing their plans to run anti-Kerry propaganda disguised as news:

The Washington bureau chief for a chain of television stations that plans to run a documentary critical of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Monday he was fired for publicly criticizing the company's decision to air the program.

In an interview published Monday, Jon Leiberman told The Baltimore Sun that Sinclair Broadcast Group's decision to air the 45-minute film as a news program was "biased political propaganda."

Leiberman later told CNN he was fired after the story hit newsstands.

"The reason for my firing was that I relayed what they called proprietary information from an in-house meeting and I divulged it to the media, which is against company policy," he said.

Atrios is following Sinclair's stock price, which is great news for anyone shorting it. Investors, though, might not like it aping the plunge of the Titanic.

Full steam ahead.
Disrespecting Tony Blair

CNN reports on an effort by The Guardian UK to urge US voters to show a degree of sanity and deselect one George W. Bush. Here are some red state blooded 'mericun reactions:

"Hey England, Scotland and Wales, mind your own business. We don't need weenie-spined Limeys meddling in our presidential election."

Have you not noticed that Americans don't give two shits what Europeans think of us?...I don't give a rat's ass if our election is going to have an effect on your worthless little life. I really don't. If you want to have a meaningful election in your crappy little island full of shitty food and yellow teeth, then maybe you should try not to sell your sovereignty out to Brussels and Berlin, dipshit. Oh, yeah - and brush your goddamned teeth, you filthy animals.

Consider this: stay out of American electoral politics. Unless you would like a company of US Navy Seals - Republican to a man - to descend upon the offices of the Guardian, bag the lot of you, and transport you to Guantanamo Bay, where you can share quarters with some lonely Taliban shepherd boys.


Real Americans aren't interested in your pansy-ass, tea-sipping opinions. If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it.

To be fair, there were some letters of support--but you get the idea re: the wingnut reaction. Also, to be fair, the Kerry campaign (and Britain for Democrats Abroad) have gone on record as officially discouraging the idea.

In other news, the tea-sipping Limey assholes are thinking of bailing out the US in at least one area of Iraq--that is, other than Basra, where they truly have bailed us out, big time:

Britain has about 9,000 troops in Iraq, operating in the relatively peaceful area around Basra.

Emphasis on "relatively." Basra isn't totally safe, but it also isn't in complete rebellion, like the "American controlled" sector.

Back on topic, though: the reaction from the wingnuts to the Guardian's efforts speaks volumes. These folks, quite honestly, couldn't point Britain out on a map, much less name any of the countries participating in the "coalition." And we're going to trust their candidate to provide world leadership? Unfuckingbelievable...
Forget About ANY Independent Reporting in Iraq

Note: This was supposed to post at around 6:00 yesterday, but, as usual, Blogger decided to balk. Let's see if it'll show up this morning. Fortunately, little has changed in regards to this since yesterday...

Link via Needlenose. Here's a post from Christopher Allbritton, who writes Back to Iraq. Short version:

Mr. Allbritton is friends with an Australian reporter, John Martinkus, who was kidnapped and held for 24 hours this weekend in Iraq (funny how that didn't really register here in the US). His kidnappers were Iraqi nationalists, fighting for the resistance. Apparently they confirmed several important facts about him--his nationality and his generally unfavorable view towards the occupation. Because of this, he was freed.

You know, back in the last war, I found it more than a little disgusting when Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf displayed a fuzzy video image from a smart bomb--you could make out the crosshairs as it sped down towards a bridge. Just before impact a small truck sped directly through the sights. Stormin' Norman gloated "You just saw the luckiest guy in Iraq," eliciting a hearty laugh from the assembled press corps, and probably the same from the awed masses here in the US.

Well, now the tide has been turned, and it's not nearly as hilarious--Mr. Martinkus is probably the luckiest guy in Iraq NOW. The nationalists who captured him allowed an interrogation session with a sheikh from Fallujah. Does anyone doubt what would have happened if they'd turned him over to said sheikh? Instead, they let him go--and, if he's smart, he'll get the hell out of there. (note: Martinkus DID leave).

Sadly, Mr. Allbritton also appears to be leaving. I haven't referenced his website nearly as often as I should have--he was/still is until he's gone--one of the few independent voices reporting from the area. But it makes no sense to stay when the best you can hope for is kidnappers with a degree of conscience (emphasis on degree--after all, they took Mr. Martinkus at gunpoint, after having stalked him for several days). However, this story is worth considering whenever you hear Bush, et al, crow about "progress." No one is there to verify.

Monday, October 18, 2004

What a Coalition in the Middle East Should Look Like

In a sense, this is sort of a moot point--Your Right Hand Thief posted a link to this article which indicates the United States and it's puppet strong ally Allawi have ruled out any occupying force comprised of nations bordering Iraq--and the US will do ANYTHING to make it look like Iyad is in at least some nominal degree of control.

At the same time, I'd like to note the differences between the Gulf War I coalition and this year's model. Note that not a single nation comprised of mainly Arabic speaking peoples has contributed troops. Also, note the large discrepency in actual numbers of soldiers--not to mention costs incurred.

In short, the Bush coalition isn't. And that's no slap in the face to Britain, Australia, POLAND, Italy, or any of the other "members." It's simply a fact. The "coalition" is a lot more like a limited partnership, with the other nations assuming the role of limited partner.

If a genuine coalition--including Arabic speaking nations--had been established, perhaps Iraq wouldn't be quite the mess it is right now. But the fact that no Arabic speaking nations wanted to participate--and particularly, the fact that NO nations BORDERING Iraq came along for the misadventure (recall the wingnuts hollering for Turkish heads to roll?)--speaks volumes as to first, their lack of confidence in the success of the Unites States' invasion, and, just as important, their lack of fear towards any expansionist tendencies of Hussein.

And, now come the obligatory 'that doesn't mean I support Saddam' section. No, I didn't, and neither did anyone else opposing Bush's stupid war. We did, however, recognize reality--that Hussein was boxed in. He was contained. No, it wasn't a picnic for the Iraqi people--and it's not a picnic right now. But the invasion was not a new beginning for the region. It was and remains a festering sore that could erupt at any moment. As I've posted before, the only thing I was surprised by was the incredible rapidity with which things fell apart--but, then again, I assumed that Bush would at least pay lip service to the Powell Doctrine. He didn't.

Our soldiers are paying the price.
Reality-Based Analysis

I'm sure Bob Herbert is a good man--he might even be a religious man. But he apparently is one of those danged reality-based folks when it comes to Iraq:

There should no longer be any doubt that the war in Iraq is an exercise in lunacy. It was launched with a spurious rationale, the weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be a fantasy relentlessly stoked by obsessively hawkish middle-aged men who ran and hid when they were of fighting age and the nation was at war.

Now we find that we can't win this war we started. Soldiers and civilians alike are trapped in the proverbial briar patch, unable to move around safely in a country that the warmongers thought would be easy to conquer and then rebuild.

There is no way to overstate how profoundly wrong they were.

Our troops continue to die but we can't even identify the enemy, which is why so many innocent Iraqi civilians - including women and children - are being blown away. The civilians are being killed by the thousands, even as the dreaded Saddam Hussein is receiving first-class health care (most recently a successful hernia operation) from his captors...

As the pointlessness of this war grows ever clearer, the president's grand alliance, like some of the soldiers on the ground, is losing its resolve. When John Kerry, in the first presidential debate, mentioned only Britain and Australia as he mocked Mr. Bush's "coalition" in Iraq, the president famously replied, "You forgot Poland."

Poland has 2,400 troops in Iraq. But on Friday the prime minister, Marek Belka, announced that he will cut that number early next year, and then "will engage in talks on a further reduction."

Mr. Belka has a political problem. He can't explain the war to his constituents. And that's because there is no rational explanation...

The president and his apologists never understood what they were getting into in Iraq. What is unmistakable now is that Americans will never be willing to commit the overwhelming numbers of troops and spend the hundreds of billions of additional dollars necessary to have even a hope of bringing long-term stability to Iraq.

This is a war that never made sense and now we are seeing - from the troops on the ground, from our allies overseas and increasingly from the population here at home - the inevitable reluctance to forge ahead with the madness.

The president likes to say he made exactly the right decision on Iraq. Each new death of a soldier or a civilian, each child who loses a parent to the carnage, each healthy body that is broken or burned in this war that didn't have to happen, is a reminder of how horribly wrong he was.

And most of y'all have probably seen or at least heard of this from Sy Hersh--another reality-based analyst--speaking at Berkeley recently (this has been posted on several blogs, but I actually first saw it in an email sent by a friend of mine):

There was more — rumors of atrocities around Iraq that to Hersh brought back memories of My Lai. In the evening's most emotional moment, Hersh talked about a call he had gotten from a first lieutenant in charge of a unit stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. His group was bivouacking outside of town in an agricultural area, and had hired 30 or so Iraqis to guard a local granary. A few weeks passed. They got to know the men they hired, and to like them. Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.

"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'

And while we're killing granary guards and lord knows whom in Fallujah, the insurgents are likely holed up in safe areas--because, let's face it, our "presence" in large swaths of Iraq is basically a heavily armed garrison. Individual neighborhoods get the treatment periodically, but we simply don't have the forces available to police the country.

Now it looks like our policy might well become "if it's dead, it's insurgent," demonstrating clearly that this isn't at all like Vietnam, where the policy was "if it's dead, it's VC." VC is totally different--only two syllables...

On a Wing and a Prayer

My guess is that most folks with any degree of concern about the country took a look at the Suskind profile of Bush in The New York Times, and perhaps also saw this from Knight-Ridder--Atrios posted it twice to make sure it reached a wide enough audience:

WASHINGTON - In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

You mmight call that the ultimate in faith based initiatives--the administration was dead certain that Iraq would be a cakewalk, to the extent that NO planning was made for the aftermath. Thanks to their dead certainty, death is now a way of life in Mesopotamia.

As for the Suskind profile, I've noticed a number of bloggers have lifted various passages, but no one I've read--yet--seems to have touched on this one:

[Mark McKinnon, longtime media advisor to Bush] started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

So, the faith based, (presumably) Christian community, according to McKinnon, also carries a fly-over state-sized chip on their shoulder, and is ready to support disaster...well, at least some are. I'd like to tell McKinnon about the large number of Kerry-Edwards signs I see right here in Baton Rouge, which is about as "red state" as it comes. To be sure, Bush has his supporters here--but at a certain point, even some of them can see through the lies--maybe because, while they might not like the elites on the coast, but they don't have much use for empire either, since the only thing they get out of it is a friend or relative horribly maimed, or worse.

At this point, the ONLY thing Bush has in common with the "red state" people is his accent. It might be too late at this point, but the Democrats should challenge his "man of the people" lie--along with all the other lies. Bush is an elite--the Cowboy from Kennebunkport--emphasis on bunk--who reaches for empire without engaging in any of the work that goes into establishing it, much less maintaining it. The entire image is...a lie.