Friday, January 14, 2005

The "Screw it and Start Over Option"

Re: the post below, I managed to get the RAID stuff configured, but other issues came up--so, I'm starting over. And, I have an official excuse to get rip roaring drunk this evening.

At the same time, as fucking annoying as it is, re-installing the server OS and configuring the goddamned box is feasible...I made a mistake during the install (technically, I followed the instructions we've set up, even to the point of loading a local security policy despite my misgivings. The policy rendered the local admin account unusable--even in safe mode. Damn).

Now, I'm going to learn from that mistake--and strongly suggest that the particular instruction be changed.

If only political policies were so easy...then again, even if they were, the learning from your mistake part is pretty goddamned important.

If I'm not back later tonight, I'll probably have something this weekend (for a change).

Busy Morning

Am trying to deal with a hardware/software conflict on a new server here. Supposedly there is an onboard SATA Raid Controller, but I'll be damned if I can get the Raid controller software to locate it.

Back in a bit...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Paging Captain Renault

I saw this first at Rising-Hegemon, then linked over to First Draft for more details.

The Financial Times reports that the oil-for-food scandal is only shocking to wingnuts and peons:

For months, the US Congress has been investigating activities that violated the United Nations oil-for-food programme and helped Saddam Hussein build secret funds to acquire arms and buy influence.

President George W. Bush has linked future US funding of the international body to a clear account of what went on under the multi-billion dollar programme.

But a joint investigation by the Financial Times and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, shows that the single largest and boldest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food programme was conducted with the knowledge of the US government.

“Although the financial beneficiaries were Iraqis and Jordanians, the fact remains that the US government participated in a major conspiracy that violated sanctions and enriched Saddam's cronies,” a former UN official said. “That is exactly what many in the US are now accusing other countries of having done. I think it's pretty ironic.”

Oh, and the time in question here is February 2003. Team Bush was running the show. The ostensible reason for allowing the shipment was to ensure that Jordan had a petroleum safety net, because well, anything less than invasion was out of the question. After all, there was an election coming up.

Alexander Cockburn has more on the "scandal," and a few other observations here. He notes that the first big lie--weapons of mass destruction--didn't even remotely pan out, so the wingnuts had to quickly come up with another one--hence the statements of shock regarding the backsheesh.

By the way, the article suggests that even this "best laid plan" didn't actually work out--the oil in question was sold to Egypt, Yemen, Malaysia, and China.

Renault would be proud.

I think--I hope--blogger is back up and running...we'll see. Anyway, I was remiss in noting that my friend Ben should get credit on the previous post for pointing out the Cohen article. And, in the same email, he alerted me to Frank Rich's euology/dismissal of Crossfire--less a lament and more a "good riddance" piece.

Rich notes that the final guest on the show was none other than Armstrong "Show me the money" Williams. Even worse was that neither Bob "Plame Gaming" Novak nor Paul "Nothing Personal, Armstrong" Begala had anything of note to ask of Mr. Williams or to say regarding what to me is sort of an "astroturf on steriods" condition.

Aside: I watched Crossfire during the 1980's, then I recently caught a bit of it here and there--it's not like it was ever "good television," but I remember the Braden/Buchanan years to be slightly better (less bloviating and/or hollering). Abbie Hoffman once made an appearance--his first suggestion was that he swap chairs with Tom Braden (he said something like "on my right I've got a former speechwriter for Nixon, and on my left a paid CIA agent?").

Anyway, like I said, Rich goes beyond the end of Crossfire to look more closely at the so-called "duped" media and concludes with this:

Every time this administration puts out fiction through the news media - the "Rambo" exploits of Jessica Lynch, the initial cover-up of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire - it's assumed that a credulous and excessively deferential press was duped. But might there be more paid agents at loose in the media machine? In response to questions at the White House, Mr. McClellan has said that he is "not aware" of any other such case and that he hasn't "heard" whether the administration's senior staff knew of the Williams contract - nondenial denials with miles of wiggle room. Mr. Williams, meanwhile, has told both James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times and David Corn of The Nation that he has "no doubt" that there are "others" like him being paid for purveying administration propaganda and that "this happens all the time." So far he is refusing to name names - a vow of omertà all too reminiscent of that taken by the low-level operatives first apprehended in that "third-rate burglary" during the Nixon administration.

If CNN, just under new management, wants to make amends for the sins of "Crossfire," it might dispatch some real reporters to find out just which "others" Mr. Williams is talking about and to follow his money all the way back to its source.
Cohen Sees the Light...

Instead of being blinded by it. One of my least favorite liberals cracks a home run--or at least a solid double--with this piece, putting the CBS firings in perspective:

It took no less a sage than President Bush to put the firing of four high-level CBS News employees in perspective: "CBS said they would act. They did. And I hope their actions are such that this doesn't happen again." This from the man who fired not a single person in his entire administration for getting nearly everything wrong about Iraq and taking the nation to war for reasons that did not exist or were downright specious. Lucky for Bush he's only the president of the United States and not the head of CBS...

Bush's observation to the Wall Street Journal is the deepest wisdom of a man who has always been protected from his own mistakes and failures, whether it's the oil business gone bust or a wayward youth rescued by equal measures of religion and family connections. His is the privileged view of privilege itself -- that others should do what he would not. For all his pretense of aw-shucks ordinariness, Bush's inner Yale sometimes oozes out. Some people should pay for their mistakes. Some people never have to.

"...Bush's inner Yale sometimes oozes out." That's one of Cohen's best observations ever.

The Poor Man has some additional perspective on this. And, as most of y'all know, it's not like Bush's service "record" has been vindicated. Most evidence STILL indicates that the future commander in chief couldn't be bothered to, you know, actually serve (well, besides an extra can of beer to himself).

Now the person who walked out on a stateside billet at a time when those lacking an inner Yale to ooze out were getting shipped over to Vietnam is demanding multiple tours of combat duty from the troops. Unbelievable...
Metaphor of the Day

Technically, it's a simile, but since all similes are metaphors...anyway, The Poor Man's got it:

The Bush Administration is a lot like my large intestine - I don't really know how either works, both are sort of gross to think about, and both are very hard to get a good look at. But the most important similiarity is this: most of what they produce is shit.
Manufacturing not Dead

No, mass production is still going on strong here in the US, at least when it comes to manufacturing crises--a specialty of the Bush Gang:

The fabricated crisis is the hallmark of the Bush presidency. To attain goals that he had set for himself before he took office -- the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the privatization of Social Security -- he concocted crises where there were none...

In short, Social Security is not facing a financial crisis at all. It is facing a need for some distinctly sub-cataclysmic adjustments over the next few decades that would increase its revenue and diminish its benefits.

Politically, however, Social Security is facing the gravest crisis it has ever known. For the first time in its history, it is confronted by a president, and just possibly by a working congressional majority, who are opposed to the program on ideological grounds, who view the New Deal as a repealable aberration in U.S. history, who would have voted against establishing the program had they been in Congress in 1935. But Bush doesn't need Karl Rove's counsel to know that repealing Social Security for reasons of ideology is a non-starter.

So it's time once more to fabricate a crisis. In Bushland, it's always time to fabricate a crisis. We have a crisis in medical malpractice costs, though the CBO says that malpractice costs amount to less than 2 percent of total health care costs. (In fact, what we have is a president who wants to diminish the financial, and thus political, clout of trial lawyers.) We have a crisis in judicial vacancies, though in fact Senate Democrats used the filibuster to block just 10 of Bush's 229 first-term judicial appointments.

The Rude Pundit has some additonal things to say about the Bush plan to obliterate Social Security, as well as a working strategy to oppose it--hint: it involves an old joke.

However, while the machinery of propaganda works overtime in the Bush factory, a very real crisis gets remarkably little attention--that is, the ongoing clusterfuck that is the new Iraq. Here's a small sample of today's news from Mesopotamia:

A top aide to Sistani, and five others were assassinated just south of Baghdad. At least eight other individuals were killed in insurgent-related violence.

Juan Cole notes that more political parties and individual candidates are pulling out of the still-scheduled election...even as election workers in the country continue to find out just how hazardous the job can be.

In the Graner trial, evidence is emerging that the chain of command specifically ordered guards to "soften up" prisoners prior to interrogation. I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what that means--and Graner is no genius.

The White House strongly opposed recent Congressional initiatives designed to limit what can be done during "interrogations," that is to say, they wanted to keep torturing--why? I dunno--maybe they liked it.

And finally, in the aftermath of admitting that the WMD hunt was just a big fish story, Bush continues to assert that the war in Iraq was "absolutely" worth it. Bush once again relied on the strawman argument of "the world was safer without [Saddam] in power." For whom? It's certainly NOT safer for the men and women who've been killed in Iraq. It's not safer for people like the police officers shot by Andres Raya. The world is DEFINITELY not safer when Middle Easterners are radicalized by the specter of the US occupation and the US treatment of detainees. What the fuck is Bush talking about?

It's very easy for Bush to gloss over the dead--but would he whistle the same tune if the cost of war included members of his own family?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What Wolcott Says

James Wolcott, as usual, has a way with words when it comes to the Iraq fiasco:

I was skeptical about the claims and rationales for the war in Iraq, and three years later I don't think such skepticism was unjustified. Today we learned that the search for WMDs is being wrapped up with no evidence of banned weapons being discovered. Now [Roger] Simon has posted that the WMD threat was never the primary reason he supported the war. That may be. But that's how it was sold to the American people with scare talk to convince us that we must act now before it was Too Late and, as Condi Rice said more than once, the next smoking gun turned out to be a mushroom cloud. And again and again warbloggers would pounce upon a discovery of this mobile lab or that stash of shells or that trace of ricin and say aha! here they are, why aren't the MSM reporting this?--only to learn a few days later this was rusty material left over from the Iran-Iraq war...

Jim Lobe, delving into a 220 page report from the Defense Science Board regarding the preplanning for the war, writes:

"Before the war, the Pentagon civilians, who were backed by Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to exclude the State Department or the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from postwar planning and operations largely because of their belief that the two agencies would promote Sunni Arab nationalists in the place of Saddam Hussein. They, on the other hand, supported exile leader Ahmed Chalabi, a secular Shi'ite who, they believed, was committed to a thorough de-Ba'athification of Iraq and staunch alignment with the U.S. and even Israel.

"They also believed Chalabi's repeated assurances that U.S. troops would be greeted as 'liberators' by virtually all Iraqis, rather than as 'occupiers' and so planned to quickly draw down the 140,000 troops who invaded the country to only about 30,000 by early 2005."

Well, we've seen how well that panned out. Pessimism, schmessifism. It doesn't matter if the glass is half-empty or half full if the glass is filled with blood needlessly shed.

And now we've got to figure out a way to both get out of Iraq AND clean up the mess we've created (well, as to the latter, I'm hoping some folks recognize our culpability in that respect). That's not all that easy--to paraphrase Alistair Horne (and yes, I'm STILL trying to get through his very long history of the Algerian War), wars often continue on far longer than they should, killing more people, because leaders simply can't figure out a way to cease hostilities while at the same time saving face (and that's very loose paraphrase--if anyone requests, I can put the exact quote in comments, once I get home).

Given what we know about Team Bush, I think it's a pretty safe bet that the whole saving face thing is a lot more significant to them than the deaths of additional soldiers and civilians. To be honest, I also think they couldn't give a shit about the destruction they've brought about in Iraq, and most likely will wind up blaming the Iraqis themselves.

What a waste.
Iraq the Vote

Juan Cole's latest post links to an article I saw elsewhere noting that even Iyad Allawi admits that "pockets" of Iraqis won't be able to vote in the election, now about three weeks away. Cole goes on:

Jordan's ambassador to the US, Karim Kawar, is among the few officials in the region or in Washington to admit the truth: The January 30 elections in Iraq have no real validity. He estiamtes that 40% of the country won't be able to vote.

An election in which the names of the candidates in the various lists are still not known 18 days before the polls open is a sick joke, not an election. What could it possibly mean, to vote for anonymous politicians? And note that they are anonymous because otherwise the guerrillas would kill them. Again, I think the election has to go forward, but I just don't expect much from it. The resulting government will be of questionable legitimacy, and the guerrilla war will if anything intensify. The elections are like all the other Wizard of Oz spectacles put on by the Bush administration in Iraq since April 9, 2003 -- the appointment of Garner, the appointment of Bremer, the appointment of an Interim Governing Council, the capture of Saddam, the "transition to sovereignty," etc., etc. Each of these was supposed to be some magical turning point and the beginning of sunshine and rainbows, and instead the situation has deteriorated every single month for the past nearly two years.

However, you can presume that news like this doesn't cloud the beautiful mind of the dauphin. No, he's got more important stuff to think about, like how to rip apart Social Security (the Rude Pundit has more on this), or, as Oyster saw and posted about, how to play politics with faith.

The latter piece, from the Washington Times, includes this bizarre photograph. If you ask me, its further proof that Chimpy McShrub is what is known as a "dry drunk."
City of Fear

Robert Fisk writes in Counterpunch about the new Baghdad:

So, "full ahead both" for the dreaded 30 January elections and democracy. The American generals--with a unique mixture of mendacity and hope amid the insurgency--are now saying that only four of Iraq's 18 provinces may not be able to "fully" participate in the elections.

Good news. Until you sit down with the population statistics and realise--as the generals all know--that those four provinces contain more than half of the population of Iraq.
Team Bush Learns the Truth about Snipes

Today in Iraq is a good place to start with this one--in black and white (and courtesy of Tom Paine), you can review the hyperbole.

Here's the Washington Post article.

Here's the cost of war, in lives (coalition deaths/Iraqi deaths) and money.

And, for the record, here's what George W. Bush said in January of 2003:

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

In other words, the snipes were running amok.

Here's what Bush said in March of 2004:

One [slide] pictured Mr Bush looking under a piece of furniture in the Oval Office, at which the president remarked: "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere."

After another one, showing him scouring the corner of a room, Mr Bush said: "No, no weapons over there," he said.

And as a third picture, this time showing him leaning over, appeared on the screen the president was heard to say: "Maybe under here?"

No, they aren't there either.

Maybe, just to further the joke, Bush could've come across a flag draped coffin.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Uh Oh

From Fubar at Needlenose: This gives me a bad feeling--I think, sadly, we'll be seeing a lot more stories like this:

Authorities are trying to understand why a Marine who had spent seven months fighting in Iraq allegedly shot to death a police sergeant in the Central Valley town of Ceres and critically wounded another officer before being shot to death...

Investigators are exploring the possibility that the gunman, whom authorities identified as 19-year-old Andres Raya of Modesto, may have wanted to die in what police call "suicide by cop," because he didn't want to go back to Iraq. Although the Marines said Raya's unit had already been deployed to Iraq twice and was not scheduled to return, his family told investigators that Raya had expressed concern he would be shipped out again.

The report says that Raya's unit "was not scheduled to return"--that's not the same as saying that they WEREN'T going to return to Iraq. Look, for instance at what the Pentagon is doing with the Guard and Reserves (from Bob Herbert's column yesterday):

The Pentagon is also considering plans to further change the rules about mobilizing members of the National Guard and Reserve. Right now they cannot be called up for more than 24 months of active service. That limit would be scrapped, which would permit the Army to call them up as frequently as required.

After two tours, with the possibility of further combat, I don't think it's surprising that one 19 year old Marine snapped. The question will be how many more--and with what consequences?
Team Bush Sacrifices a Pawn

The trial of Charles Graner began yesterday.

I'd bet that Graner and Lynndie England are 1 and 1A when it comes to putting a face to the dark side of the United States. This is unfortunate: without justifying or defending the kinds of actions they engaged in, I find it dubious at best that their chosen tactics were the result of personal initiative--despite Graner's civilian job as a prison guard in Pennsylvania.

No, the faces that should be associated with this particular policy should include, but not be limited to, Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney--and George W. Bush. Folks like Graner and England are small potatoes--street-level dealers in a world dominated by big-time lords of torture.

At the same time, it's pretty incredible that defense attorney Guy Womack is likening some of the tactics used at Abu Ghraib to cheerleader routines--most cheerleaders don't smack folks in the temple hard enough to knock them out, nor do they pull people out of the stands and force them to masturbate, nor are attack dogs part of the squad--and their human pyramids don't tend to involve coerced, naked human beings. As for children on "leashes" (Womak's other "defense" of tactics)--well, to be honest, many years ago (in the 1970's) I DID see a kid on a tether at a mall, but it most certainly wasn't strapped to his neck in choke-chain fashion.

But hey, I could be wrong about some of the cheerleader stuff. I suppose we could ask the cheerleader in chief if he recalls anything like Abu Ghraib while at Andover and/or Yale.

Oh, and as to the supposed REASON for this kind of behavior--well, believe it or not, old, fat, drug addled Rush Limbaugh might have been onto something when he likened it to fraternity pranks, because it sure hasn't resulted in any kind of useful intelligence.

Hullaballoo has an excellent post, with numerous links, detailing the height of the absurdity: that, for all the end-arounds of the Geneva Conventions, we've succeeded in exactly one thing: pissing the shit out of otherwise insignificant people who now have a damn good reason to hate our guts. The corollary is that we've also managed to piss off folks, both in the Middle East and elsewhere, who weren't directly affected by these practices, but who are rightly appalled that we'd do such things. In the battle over hearts and minds, the actions at Abu Ghraib--and Guantanamo (there's no need to separate the two)--are the equivalent of getting rip roaring drunk on a crowded airplane and proceeding to take a giant dump on the beverage cart.

So, Graner will likely be found guilty--c'mon, the photos are pretty damn compelling, AND it's not like he DIDN'T do it--but something tells me that, while he might have had some leeway when it came to the specifics, the strategic planning, i.e., the idea that we need to hurt, to humiliate, to shame, to DEGRADE any who, either by their actions or just plain bad luck, came into US custody, certainly was passed along from up the chain--probably implied, as opposed to being ordered, but it doesn't take too much imagination to conceive of how it was done. My own guess is that various higher ups let low-level folks like Spc. Graner know that it'd be ok to "teach the ragheads a lesson."

Also, I believe one of the central tenets to the neocon mindset is the assumption that "the Arab mind" will only respond to force, or strength. Hence, the use of tactics designed to make prisoners feel weak...

Unfortunately, this blew up in their face. AND we've got an additional problem--apparently while the orders went out from on-high that the prisoners were to be humiliated, the insurgency was gaining strength. These days, it might not be possible to put on a "display of strength" for "the Arab mind." Sure, we can pound Fallujah into the paleolithic age, but whenever we mass forces in one area, the insurgency pops up somewhere else (like in Mosul). IF (and that's a big if)--IF "the Arab mind" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) is only impressed by "strength," then we're not doing a particularly good job of displaying strength.
What If?

Consider the following article from The New York Times and imagine if the target wasn't CBS News:

...The Bush Administration CBS News suffered a crushing blow to its credibility yesterday because of a policy broadcast that has now been labeled as both factually discredited and unprofessionally promoted produced.

"This should never have happened," said Colin Powell Leslie Moonves, the outgoing Secretary of State CBS chairman who announced the impeachment dismissals of the president, vice president, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Advisor four executives yesterday in the wake of an independent special prosecutor's panel's report. The prosecutor panel found that the Bush administration "60 Minutes" policy regarding Iraq program that dealt with President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard was full of outright lies, distortions, misstatements, fear mongering, cheap political manuevering, and just plain wrong--not to mention an appalling failure unfair and misleading after being pushed upon the public rushed to broadcast without proper consideration of the consequences for Iraqi civilians, the US military, the tax payers, and the general public vetting.

Just wondering...

Monday, January 10, 2005


Simbaud, who produces King of Zembla, alerted me to a major error in my post below entitled Meta -Meta-Post. Joe Bageant's work goes to King of Zembla BEFORE sites like Counterpunch and ColdType get their chance (and thanks for being cool re: my mistake).

Simbaud's site is well worth taking a look at--which I'm doing right now. Glad I decided to drink-in this evening.

So--King of Zembla is now on my blogroll--and hey, it looks like he's from the Bay Area, as is Scaramouche--and Balta, I think.

Simbaud, if you happen to come across this--a good friend (who comprises a significant percentage of my readership, alas) dropped me an email earlier, to say thanks for the Bageant essay.
Close to Home--Again

Timshel notes that two more soldiers from Louisiana were killed in Iraq today. Apparently their Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by a large bomb. There's more here:

[killed were] Robert Sweeney, III of Pineville and William Manuel of Oberlin.

Sweeney and Manuel were members of the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard.

A bomb big enough to disable a Bradley vehicle has to be very large. This is a very bad sign.

My condolences to the families.
Ski Masks: Not Just For Robbing Liquor Stores

As this Christian Science Monitor article points out (note: I might be the only person on the planet who ever used a ski mask for actual skiing--I must have been quite a sight at Cascade Mountain, clad in a leather biker jacket, ski-mask, and blue jeans, while I snow plowed down the easy slopes--hey, don't laugh. My only other skiing experience was as a teenager, and that behind a motor boat on False River)--anyway, ski-masks are now being used BY THE COPS in Iraq. Seems as if it hides their identity:

The choice of headgear is in response to being targeted as never before. Since October, four Iraqi police and national guardsmen have died for every American soldier killed, based on a Monitor tabulation. As more and more police and guards hit the streets, that ratio appears to be going up. In the first 10 days of January, at least 108 Iraqi guardsmen and police have been killed compared with 23 US casualties.

That doesn't bode all that well for Bush's "Iraqification" plan...but, as Maureen Dowd notes, this simply means that "winning" will most likely be defined the extent that it wouldn't surprise me if Bush eventually awarded HIMSELF a Medal of Freedom.

However, another op-ed writer at the Times, Bob Herbert, isn't buying it:

Mr. Bush's so-called pre-emptive war, which has already cost so many lives, is being enveloped by the foul and unmistakable odor of failure. That's why the Pentagon is dispatching a retired four-star general, Gary Luck, to Iraq to assess the entire wretched operation. The hope in Washington is that he will pull a rabbit out of a hat. His mission is to review the military's entire Iraq policy, and do it quickly.

Good luck, um, General Luck...

Herbert concludes:

The Pentagon is also considering plans to further change the rules about mobilizing members of the National Guard and Reserve. Right now they cannot be called up for more than 24 months of active service. That limit would be scrapped, which would permit the Army to call them up as frequently as required.

That's not a back-door draft. It's a brutal, in-your-face draft that's unfairly limited to a small segment of the population. It would make a mockery of the idea of an all-volunteer Army.

Something's got to give. The nation's locked in a war that's going badly. The military is strained to the breaking point. And it's looking more and more like the amateur hour in the places that are supposed to provide leadership in perilous times - the Pentagon and the White House.

And I'LL conclude with the umpteenth link to Billmon, who reopened The Whiskey Bar to note the Salvadoran Option. Check out the quotes and links he makes. I guess I'll have to call my Salvadoran friend (who survived the death squads by a miraculous stroke of luck) and ask him what he thinks of the new Bush plan (oh, and, to go back to Jesus' General for just a moment, here's what the Freepers think. Short version: they think it's a jolly good idea--nothing like revealing your true nature, eh? All that talk of democracy is, know. Their REAL opinion of Iraqis is along the lines of what Dick Cheney told Pat Leahy about a year ago.)
Rumsfeld: Waves Happen

The New York Times gives Op-Ed space to Tom Burka:

"Waves happen," Mr. Rumsfeld told survivors. "Weather is untidy. Sometimes you have to make do with the weather you get instead of the weather you want."

Mr. Rumsfeld also criticized the news coverage of the disaster. "They just keep showing the same wave over and over again," he said.
A Modest Proposal

The General J.C. Christian posts from his comments a suggestion as to who is most qualified to implement "The Salvador Option" in Iraq...

It's not anyone from El Salvador (although if any of the 380 Salvadoran troops comprising their contingent of the Coalition of the Willing has been to the School of the Americas, perhaps they can provide some training and/or assistance). But the individual in question certainly has a great deal of experience "in country."
Meta-Meta Post

From Bad Attitudes, I linked to King of Zembla's reprint of a Joe Bageant essay called A Mean and Unholy Ditch--The Sleep of Reason amid Wild Dogs and Gin.

Well, the title alone was worth a look. Can't say I agree with the essay one thousand percent, but it makes any number of good, solid points. Here's a one line teaser:

Quit feeling so bad and admit that Americans have willingly elected a murderous gang of fascist pissbrains. Now doesn’t that feel better?

Yes, it does.
Return of the Idiots

Democratic Underground starts 2005 with an impressive list. Note: Number 3, John Cosgrove, apparently has modified some of the language in the horrible bill he was proposing. The bill itself, had it been passed as originally written, would have made failure to report a miscarriage to law enforcement within 12 hours a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Cosgrove actually wrote to Maura in Virginia (editor at Democracy for Virginia) to report the change, after his office was deluged with email and phone calls--check out the clarification and update.

Otherwise, Top Ten rounds up the usual suspects...
My Bad

Update to the post below-- as The Rude Pundit notes, death squads were a part of Vietnam too--Operation Phoenix being the major instance, although WHENEVER you have a war (i.e., the breakdown of normal civil society), you'll have gangs roaming about. Anyway, check out the Rude One's post today (and, as always, the usual disclaimer--he doesn't mince words).
Like Spinning Donuts in the Yard...

Or goin' muddin' in a cane field--that's my latest take on the Bush foreign policy, as this weekend brought more catastrophic success in the Middle East, even as Alberto 'Abu G. the surfboarder' Gonzales saw himself pushed from the headlines by, among other things, the trial of Spc. Charles Graner--no lie. Graner's defense, by the way, will be that his actions were sanctioned by higher ups in the chain of command...

UnFairWitness has a number of links to stories I saw over the weekend, starting with this gem from Newsweek titled "The Salvador Option." Apparently the neocons have finally realized that fighting Iraq as Vietnam redux is a losing strategy, so they've opted for Central American-style death squads:

"We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

Aside: William S. Lind predicted just this scenario not long ago, taking the "break the back" metaphor and turning it on its head:

My favorite last week was the American general who claimed Falluja had "broken the back" of the insurgency. Insurgencies, like octopi, are invertebrate.

You know, at least we're finally seeing in the mainstream media--albeit in their usual lukewarm, mushy, milquetoast way--confirmation of a very sorry episode in recent US history, namely, the shameful support given by the government to cold-blooded killers in Central America (you know, like Saddam, although on a VERY slightly smaller scale):

Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions.

Nothing like fanning the flames of ethnic division in Iraq even more than they've already been fanned. But, as they say, desperate times call for desperate, apparently, killing civilians.

And, on that subject, once again, a "mistake" by US forces had deadly consequences:

An American air strike in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has hit the wrong target, the US military has admitted. The bomb demolished a house in Aaytha, killing 14 people, according to local officials. The US put the toll at five.

The military said it "deeply regrets the loss of possibly innocent lives", and promised an investigation.

"Possibly innocent civilians?" They DON'T KNOW? Or is it that they simply can't admit it...Neither is good. One implies ignorance, which is deadly under war conditions, the other implies mendacity, which guarantees we'll either lose--or be forced to adopt tactics that amount to genocide.

Staying on the subject of civilian deaths, Today in Iraq notes that five Iraqis--three civilians and two Iraqi soldiers (our "allies") were killed when US forces opened fire following a roadside bombing. Matt notes that Faux News harkened back to the old "if it's dead it's [name your enemy here]" bullshit, initially reporting that the casualties were "terrorists." Well, I guess Faux is working on the "domestic consumption" angle...

Speaking of domestic consumption, this Boston Globe op-ed (my source: Rising Hegemon), points out something I'd come across recently in Counterpunch--that, while it's right and good to mourn the victims of the natural disaster in South Asia, our actions in WEST Asia have caused quite a bit of destruction--yet we've hardly given it a second thought:

Not once did Pelosi or any American politician say in the last two years, "God bless Iraqi civilians" or any variant. Only one time has Bush uttered "God bless the people of Iraq," and that was in announcing Saddam Hussein's capture. Not once has he asked God's blessing for the courageous civilians and the families of Iraq who had no choice but to brave our bombs.

Let us do what we can for the victims of the tsunami. But no matter how much we weep for them, no matter what donations we spare, the offerings will not spare us from history's judgment, if not God's. Lugar said his heart goes out to the victims of the tsunami. No hearts have gone out to Iraqi civilians in this heartless coverup.

Powell said of the tsunami, "The power of the wave to destroy bridges, to destroy factories, to destroy homes, to destroy crops, to destroy everything in its path is amazing." He said, "I have never seen anything like it in my experience."

Yes, he has. It was in Iraq. The tsunami was us.

Today's news, by the way, isn't much better: two more US soldiers were killed--and four were injured--by a roadside bomb. Baghdad's deputy police chief was assassinated as he left his home, and another car bomb targeted a police station, killing four and wounding nineteen. Oh, and yesterday, the head of interim president Allawi's party was assassinated as well.

I'm thinking that it's a safe bet no one mentioned any of this to the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Because he'll just wave them away. He doesn't want to hear it--or any genuine news coming from the region. Instead, Bush opts for the political equivalent of hopping into the General Lee and riding the trails of Hazzard County...