Friday, July 01, 2005

State Secret

Mike Luckovitch knows what motivates the Chimp in Chief

Luckovich's archives here.
What's the Difference Between VP Cheney, and a Vicious, Snarling Badger?

According to Attaturk, not a whole lot.

But the badger has two things going for it: it didn't lie to get the country into an illegal war--and it's got a decent ticker.
"Martial Dreams"

Paul Krugman analyzes Tuesday's pep talk:

Mr. Bush's speech on Tuesday contained a chilling message: America has been taken hostage by his martial dreams. According to Mr. Bush, the nation now has no choice except to keep fighting the war he wanted to fight.

Never mind that Iraq posed no threat before we invaded. Now it's a "central front in the war on terror," Mr. Bush says, quoting Osama bin Laden as an authority. And since a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would, Mr. Bush claims, be a victory for Al Qaeda, Americans have to support this war - and that means supporting him. After all, you wage war with the president you have, not the president you want.

But America doesn't have to let itself be taken hostage. The country missed the chance to say no before this war started, but it can still say no to Mr. Bush's open-ended commitment, and demand a timetable for getting out.

No shit. He notes that this isn't easy--particularly when a fat little Roveweiler sits in his pen waiting--hoping, even--for the chance to bark and bare his teeth at anyone suggesting as much. But, Krugman's right:

First, the war is helping, not hurting, the terrorists. Second, the kind of clear victory the hawks promised is no longer possible, if it ever was. Third, a time limit on our commitment will do more good than harm.

He goes on to argue that, despite Shrub's insistance that a timetable would "encourage" the insurgents to "wait us out" (easy for him to say--neither ne nor his eligible-for-military-service children are dodging bullets, RPG's, or IED's)--anyway, Krugman asserts that insurgents don't exactly need encouragement, and goes on to point out that as long as US forces are there to do the heavy lifting, the nascent Iraqi government has little incentive to counter--or, negotiate with--said insurgents.

He concludes:

The point is that the presence of American forces in Iraq is making our country less safe. So it's time to start winding down the war.

Fair enough--and true enough. However, the one small problem with this argument is that, with the cabal holding on to Washington these days, patriotism is fine so long as it DOESN'T interfere with power. And, if one has to go...
Blame Game

I see this Faux News story is getting some play with the big leaguers--short version: a mercenary private contractor was evicted from a Green Zone apartment by Iraqi forces--he was advised to contact a US Lt. Col. who was working with the Iraqis for assistance:

According to Peters, when he called Casey the next day, help was the last thing he received.

"If I had to put it in a word, he was vicious," Peters told, referring to his first conversation with the officer. "The guy came back really strong and made it very, very clear that he absolutely wanted me out of there, that the whole thrust of why I was over here was to make money."

Peters said Casey didn’t give him any explanation why he needed to leave and issued him a warning: "If I can find you, I'll have you out in 24 hours."

Faux News, as you might expect, isn't terribly preturbed by this--although Kos and Gilliard detect a degree of supply side sympathy from Murdoch's media minions:

But some contractors and their families contacted by are telling stories of verbal abuse and humiliation at the hands of a few individuals in the U.S. military.

Although these contractors say they stand behind President Bush and the U.S. military in the mission in Iraq and ongoing efforts to rebuild that country and put it on the road toward democracy, they say a few bad apples aren't helping in those efforts.

And, in the interest of "Fair & Balanced," Faux suggests a suitable villain: the Iraqis themselves.

The predicament facing both sides is that as the Iraqi government becomes more established, it is seeking to reclaim some real estate. The property in question was vacated by many after the Baathists fled the zone once Saddam was toppled; many Iraqis then moved in rent-free.


But to me the point isn't "who's to blame"--the point is the bickering and shouting in the first place.

My guess is that, in wingnut nation, examples will be brought up of tensions, say, among the allies in World War II...Gen. Bernard Montgomery's arrogance/irascibility (though we probably won't hear much about his racism), ditto with DeGaulle--some of the more even-handed might even mention Patton.

However, a major difference between the ego battles among general officers and the hair-trigger tensions displayed between regular soldiers and, um, "contractors," is the difference between a gentleman's tennis match and a chance encounter between two rival gangs in territory equally hostile to both. In the latter case, both side can see obvious reasons for making common ground, but neither really trusts the other--and, should shit and fan meet, who knows what could happen.

To keep somewhat on the same theme, you can also liken the tensions between soldiers and contractors, particularly under the circumstances they presently face, to that of a sports team falling apart while in the midst of a bad slump. When players start to bicker amongst themselves, it's not exactly a good sign.

Like it or not, the contractors are, for lack of a better term, "allies." Indeed, they are the second largest contingent in the "Coalition of the Willing," most speak at least passable English, and I'm guessing that most of the US citizens in this role have some direct military experience. That said, the very idea that "security" itself would be privatized--in the middle of a shooting war--is more than a little troubling. And it's worse when, at least in this particular shooting war, the military itself is losing.

That's BOUND to exacerbate tensions between soldiers making $1200 a month while Blackwater guys might pull down that kind of loot in a day or two. Combined with incidents like the recent, um, "misunderstanding" in Fallujah--AND the general sense that things in Iraq are, in a word, UGLY, we're looking less at a bad slump, and more at possibly the beginnings of a meltdown. And the dog days of summer will last another couple of months.

By the way--this is just the sort of situation that requires strong, exceptional leadership at the top--which means fat chance with the crowd occupying the 50 or so square miles on the north bank of the Potomac.
Cover Your Eyes...

No More Mister Nice Blog found the transcript of Shrub's interview with the London Times.

It's an undiluted mix...of arrogance and ignorance--with a side order of seriously fractured grammar and syntax. My gawd.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

If Only...

This is a more recent trip down memory lane--last year, I went to a Kerry rally here in Red Stick, and managed to quickly proffer my own advice to the then and present Senator--there's a post in my archives--IIRC, from May 2004, but I don't feel like looking it up, and don't expect either of y'all--ok, any of the five of y'all (this blog goes for quality, as opposed to quantity of readers--to look it up)...anyway, I told the Senator to emphasize "competence" as a campaign theme...which I don't think he ever did...and...

OK, I'm not THAT egotistical. But, here's Bob Herbert concluding an excellent editorial with more or less the same message:

The latest fantasy out of Washington is that American-trained Iraqi forces will ultimately be able to do what the American forces have not: defeat the insurgency and pacify Iraq.

"We've learned that Iraqis are courageous and that they need additional skills," said Mr. Bush in his television address. "And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting, and then our troops can come home."

Don't hold your breath. This is another example of the administration's inability to distinguish between a strategy and a wish.

Whether one agreed with the launch of this war or not - and I did not - the troops doing the fighting deserve to be guided by leaders in Washington who are at least minimally competent at waging war. That has not been the case, which is why we can expect to remain stuck in this tragic quagmire for the foreseeable future.

I keep seeing debates about the capability of Iraqi forces (and I think you know what side I'm on). What's wrong with a debate about the capability of our civilian leadership? (For the record--if the costs of this war weren't so tragic, I'd say that Bush and the Iraqi forces deserve each other).
Memory Lane

Or, a look at the origin of a particular species, the news/talk show--Alexander Cockburn reprints a piece originally published in Harper's--he called it The Tedium Twins, in honor of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer:

ROBERT MACNEIL (voice over): Should one man eat another?


MACNEIL: Good evening. Reports from the Donner Pass indicate that survivors fed upon their companions. Tonight, should cannibalism be regulated? Jim?

LEHRER: Robin, the debate pits two diametrically opposed sides against each other: the Human Meat-eaters Association, who favor a free market in human flesh, and their regulatory opponents in Congress and the consumer movement. Robin?

MACNEIL: Mr. Tooth, why eat human flesh?
TOOTH: Robin, it is full of protein and delicious too. Without human meat, our pioneers would be unable to explore the West properly. This would present an inviting opportunity to the French, who menace our pioneer routes from the north.

MACNEIL: Thank you. Jim?

LEHRER: Now for another view of cannibalism. Bertram Brussell-Sprout is leading the fight to control the eating of animal fats and meats. Mr. Sprout, would you include human flesh in this proposed regulation?

SPROUT: Most certainly, Jim. Our studies show that some human flesh available for sale to the public is maggot-ridden, improperly cut, and often incorrectly graded. We think the public should be protected from such abuses.

MACNEIL: Some say it is wrong to eat human flesh at all. Mr. Prodnose, give us this point of view.

PRODNOSE: Robin, eating people is wrong. We say ...

MACNEIL: I'm afraid we're out of time. Good night, Jim, etc., etc.

The narcotizing, humorless properties of the 'MacNeil/Lehrer Report,' familiar to anyone who has felt fatigue creep over him at 7:40 Eastern time, are crucial to the show. Tedium is of the essence, since the all-but- conscious design of the program is to project vacuous dithering ('And now, for another view of Hitler ...') into the mind of the viewers, until they are properly convinced that there is not one answer to 'the problem,' but two or even three, and that since two answers are no better than none, they might as well not bother with the problem at all.

Now, even though MacNeil/Lehrer has been stuck in sort of an evolutionary cul-de-sac (MacNeil left, but that appendage has been admirably regenerated with any of a host of, um, hosts), you could say it started a trend that resulted in the various cable TV shoutfests that substitute for real debate these days...

Or, you can also just have a laugh at a few of Cockburn's examples. Here's the whole thing, if you've got the time.
T for Texas

From Today in Iraq, here's an editorial from The Daily Texan, UT's newspaper:

In a prime-time televised speech Tuesday night, President Bush told Americans that the war in Iraq, the deaths of 1,744 U.S. soldiers, nearly 1,200 Iraqi security forces and countless innocent civilians were "worth it."

In times of war, it is important to see what is really going on. We are a world away from Iraq, and the distance abstracts the war into detachment for most Americans...

"Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed," Bush said. "Every picture is horrifying - and the suffering is real."

We agree, but rather than just listening to Tuesday night's speech, we ask you to see it yourself.

We find these images unbearably graphic, but these are the images that these people are faced with day to day. They don't have the choice to turn the page or change the channel. To them these photos are real.

We ask you to take a minute to look over these images, which are often violent and often distressing. But this is the reality of the war President Bush has told us we will "fight until the fight is won."

Is it worth it?

The photos are at the site.
The Brains of the Operation

Tom Burka senses Rummy's true intentions vis-a-vis long term strategy in Iraq:

"The U.S. Army is the best equipped, best trained, most deadly fighting force in the world," said Rumsfeld. "That having been said, if the insurgency isn't gone within the next couple of years, we'll leave it to the marginally equipped, moderately trained Iraqi army to finish the job."
The Old College Try

Well, it looks like Shrub's speech made a pretty quick exit from the collective radar screen (excepting possibly a few wingnut deadenders)...and, with about five minutes seconds nanoseconds of consideration, it's pretty easy to see why: he offered...nothing new...whatsoever.

This underscores the strategic, not to mention moral, bankruptcy of the administration. It seems as if they were so enraptured by their own propaganda that they found it unnecessary to even think about, much less establish a contingency, in the event that the rose tinge coloring their shades was actually red blood cells from the carnage.

Aside: I believe an interesting, although certainly never-to-be-asked question from the nation's water boys mainstream media to any high ranking official, i.e., Bush, Rummy, Cheney, etc., would be whether they've considered, or otherwise worked on a possible contingency in Mesopotamia that assumes a casualty count (among US forces--we know they don't "do body counts" for the insurgents/civilians killed--even though they do)...anyway, I wonder if they've planned for a scenario of 3500-4000 fatalities/25-28,000 wounded (roughly the ratio at present). In other words, what we see presently, but extrapolated over the NEXT two years. And, if they haven't considered this, why not?

At the VERY least, 3500-4000 deaths should be considered a "worst case" scenario (in fact, it might well be a "best case"--if things deteroriate further, that is, and it's not all that far fetched to think things WILL deteriorate--in fact, that's a pretty safe bet, actually). The military planners should be, well, planning accordingly. This ain't bean bag.

I find it troubling, although not all that surprising, that the press hasn't asked questions like that. It's merely a symptom of a much larger disease in the body politic, sort of a combination of "we went too far in Watergate" thinking combined with both raw survival instinct (my guess is that a real reporter in DC would have a pretty short career) and, at least for those at the top of the slag heap, an enjoyment of the perks that come with that sort of lifestyle. Finally, the lifestyle itself generates a degree of familiarity with the people they're ostensibly reporting on--and, while friends might not let friends "drive drunk," as it were, friends rarely call the cops when it happens.

But I digress. I honestly think that, while SOMEONE at a lower echelon might be "our tax dollars at work" on a project like that, I doubt seriously that the gang at the top is aware of the work product itself--or, if they are, they most certainly AREN'T in the mood to hear the details.

In a word phrase: they are completely out of touch (or "disconnected from reality," if you prefer). Ironic--the very same malady that supposedly afflicted Democrats some twenty years ago, when the "Reagan Revolution" was sweeping the nation turns out to be surprisingly non-partisan in pathology. And, in the case of the war, being out of touch makes for a nasty pathogen, indeed.

Again, to underscore this point--news reports report a miniscule audience for Peptalk Tuesday. While other factors certainly played into this, it's still not a good sign for Shrub--in order to CONVINCE people to 'join the team,' you have to catch their ear first. There is also decidedly little in the regular press in terms of follow up. Perhaps the wingnuttiasphere is still crowded around the embers if not carrying the dimming torch, but I really haven't checked. Besides, even if I did, what good would it do?

Bush want's to "transform the Middle East into democracy?" He want's to "train the Iraqi's so they can fight the insurgents themselves?" He want's to "root out the terrorists?" Um, gee, that's nice--but, how does he plan to actually DO these things? As it stands, Team Bush hasn't even PROPOSED a strategy, much less announced how implementation is to occur. It's all cheerleading...and more cheerleading (with an occasional snarl from the bald Rove terrier). But there's nothing behind it.

The Rude Pundit today makes the case that Shrub's latest attempt to wow the red-staters met with a collective yawn (at least in his direct experience). Whether or not his observation about Iraq itself--"...the United States (or the "coalition") has transformed Iraq from a relatively stable, if insane and murderous, dictatorship to a battle-scarred, body-part strewn shitstorm of a terrorist magnet, using American soldiers as bait and Iraqis as pawns"--has hit home with the public remains to be seen, except perhaps the last part about "soldiers as bait." No one likes to be strung to the end of a hook--if nothing else, it makes for a miserable time at the victory party (that won't come anyway... check out the entire post for more on that).

Finally, Bush himself seems to be getting smaller and smaller, at least when he ventures out into "the public." Unlike Reagan--or Clinton--any "Teflon" attached to Bush was of the manufactured variety, not the natural type that seemed to ooze from the pores of Bill or Ron...but now we're finding out that process of fabricating the stuff carries a high risk of cancer--which is what this administration is becoming, if it isn't already.
Next to Last Throes

Looks like the insurgents didn't get the Cheney memo--from Juan Cole:

Gunmen stormed the former insurgent bastion of Samarra in northern Iraq yesterday, killing at least two elite police commandos and injuring as many as six.

Witnesses said armed men in as many as 10 civilian cars marauded through Samarra, a historic Tigris River shrine city filled with archaeological treasures. They attacked a building used by security forces with mortars and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers. The gunmen then surrounded the hospital and began shooting at it until Iraqi and U.S. reinforcements showed up, witnesses said.

Samarra was the site of a U.S.-led assault last summer meant to rid the city of insurgents. Residents said tensions had peaked in the city after a Tuesday raid on a pharmaceutical factory by security forces.

The story goes on to list four more instances where "last throes" is, at best, the ugly, violent, decade long kind...

Cole comments:

When ten carloads of guerrillas can just drive into town and shoot it up, you know no one is really in control of the place.

Now THAT sort of sounds like Houston--at least on the loop during rush hour.

Or, maybe just grading on a curve:

For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota.


So what does "shifting the quota to the summer months" mean? From last reporting on last month's numbers:

They note that with only four months left in the budget year, the Army is at barely 50 percent of its goal. Recruiters would have to land more than 9,760 young men and women a month, on average, to reach the 80,000 target by the end of September.

And, finally, courtesy of the NY Times and When Doves Cry (see above), here's a handy graphic to judge for yourself:

I'd call that disassembling.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pop Quiz

From Republic of Dogs--saw it at The Poor Man

Who said this?

"You can support the troops but not the president."


"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions...these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today."


"Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly."


Who said this?

"[The] President…is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. [This] do[es] not make for a sound foreign policy."



"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."


And finally:

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."

Here's a hint for the last one: miserable failure.

Read the whole thing.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Damned Liars

A Republican congressman from North Carolina told CNN on Wednesday that the "evidence is clear" that Iraq was involved in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Meet U.S. Representative Robin Hayes (R-NC, and full of shit)

Thanks to Attytood, we have a full transcript of his batshit insane insistance of this non-fact:

Carol Costello (CNN): But there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was connected in any way to Al Qaeda.

Hayes: Ma'am, I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. There's evidence everywhere. We get access to it, unfortunately others don't. But the evidence is very clear.

COSTELLO: What evidence is there?

HAYES: The connection between individuals who were connected to Saddam Hussein, folks who worked for him, we've seen it time and time again. But the issue is where are we now. Nobody disputes 9/11. They would do that again if not prevented. Preventing 9/11 wherever it might happen in America, winning the war overseas, not bringing it here to our shores, is the issue in that regard.

COSTELLO: Well, are you saying that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11?

HAYES: I'm saying that Saddam Hussein -- and I think you're losing track of what we're trying to talk about here -- Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11. Did he make the phone call and say...

COSTELLO: There's no evidence of that.

HAYES: Well, I'm sorry, you haven't looked in the right places.

COSTELLO: I must not have, because I know of no evidence connecting Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. And, also, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And many people writing to us this morning wanted the president to explain those things.

The only "evidence" Hayes has is straight out of his ass...which might offer a explanation for his assertions (link is to a moderately tasteless photo).
A Steady Drumbeat

From Juan Cole, here's a link to a Flash presentation demonstrating graphically (but NOT graphic) the fatalities incurred in Operation-Actually-There-Was-No-Backup-Plan.

An interesting exercise is deselecting the United States--you get what I think in musical terms would be a significant rest at times. Add it back, and the steady beat returns.

Some coalition.
"Lorem Ipsum, Quia Dolor Sit, Amet, Consectetur"

Link via No More Mister Nice Blog.

In case you're wondering what the title of this post means--well, it's something a wingnut can point to if asked about "Renewal in Iraq."

Antiwar Person: Iraq has been destroyed by the invasion--and the security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that very little reconstruction work, if any, has been done.

Wingnut: What do you mean? Why, there's a whole page on the official White House web site devoted to Renewal in Iraq. And, you know what it says?
"Lorem Ipsum, Quia Dolor Sit, Amet, Consectetur"

(Note: it's called Greeking, but it's really Latin...)
He Labored Mightily, and Brought Forth a Mouse

I don't know if I can really offer much more on the appeal to foolishness than has already been said by far better writers...but...

Like Attaturk did, I made a small tally sheet to track some of Shrub's red meat phrases, which, coming from his mouth, sound more like microwaved chickenhawk leftovers. For the record, there were five direct references to 9/11--one every five minutes--and five more "almost 9/11" references--bin Laden got a couple of mentions, as did Zarqawi, while Al Qaeda clocked in with a single.

Whiskey Bar has more on the incredible shrinking cheerleader--as Billmon puts it, "at his best...he can come across as one of the boys...the Turkey Server in Chief. But he can't make himself larger than life, and neither can his cult followers, no matter how hard they try." He also noted some interesting choices of terminology, which could well be weasel words should the time come to negotiate with terrorists Iraqi insurgents. In the end, Billmon considers the speech lighter-than-air (my term)--and he's right. Unlike say, the "election," or the "transfer of sovereignty," which certainly were empty gestures, but empty gestures offering the appearance of something significant, last night was low wattage--or dim bulb, if you prefer.

There's no better example of this than the revelation by Mr. Purty Lips himself, Terry Moran, that it was a White House advance team member who began clapping late in Shrub's speech, managing to generate a tepid round of applause among the assembled. I mean, not only is Bush decidedly smaller than life, he doesn't even make it into the pantheon of infomercial emcees with his effort.

Let's see...Bush forgot neither Poland nor polls, though his memory seems, um, dim when it comes to Abu Ghraib. There was the usual mix and match of jutting-chin rheroric with occasional Kumbaya feel-good ("Beacon of Hope," "elections", "sovereignty,"), flypaper strategery--funny how our Iraqi "friends" weren't exactly consulted as to their becoming "the front line"...though Bush, in a rare moment of candor, admitted that "terrorists can kill innocent civilians"...yes, they sure can, particularly when an army of occupation isn't really able to, um, OCCUPY with any genuine degree of authority...there was the aforementioned "9/11" mantra, some obligatory references to allies and the UN--and, of course, an insistance that "Iraqification" is both innovative and workable--geez, if I had a nickel for every "trained Iraqi soldier/unit," I'd either be insanely rich (Team Shrub's numbers), or dirt poor (reality-based assessment)...Bush concluded with a literal request to fly the flag in support of the troops--and an odd little direct appeal:

And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our Nation’s uniform.

I'll let you pass your own judgement on Lt. AWOL himself putting in a plug for enlistment.

Steve Gilliard and plenty of others point out that this opens the door to questions as to the enlistment plans of George W. Bush's children--and, for that matter, an entire generation of neo-con keyboard commandos. 101st'ers--your Preznit needs you!

One thing I DIDN'T see was any significant understanding that the ship, as it were, has rather ugly, gaping holes on both the port AND starboard sides--in addition, shoals and reefs are dead ahead...but the captain insists on full steam, insisting that all is fine and eventually safe harbor will come into sight, as long as we stick to the course--said Cap'n Shrub, presiding officer of the USS Ship of Fools...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dubya Stands for...Weasel

CapitolBuzz has a partial transcript of Cheerleader in Chief's "important speech." Guess what?

Parrot-like, Bush will squawk "9/11" until Karl Rove gives him a cracker:

The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11...They are trying to shake our will in Iraq - just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001.

What an utterly cynical...parrot. Or weasel...he's a parrotweasel.

War is hell:

Democratic legislators stepped up criticism of the Halliburton Company on Monday for what they said was "war profiteering," citing Pentagon audits that question more than $1 billion of the company's bills for work in Iraq.

The estimates of excessive spending and improper billing by Halliburton, a Texas-based company that provides logistical support and oil-field repairs in Iraq, are more than twice as high as those in previous official reports. The findings, including previously unpublicized internal Pentagon studies, were released at a Democrat-sponsored forum that was held, Democratic leaders maintained, because the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans have refused to hold the contractor accountable.

And if you dare to be a whistleblower, well, let's just say that management has many tools at their disposal:

The hearing featured videotaped testimony from a former food manager in Iraq for Kellogg Brown & Root who said the dining hall where he worked in early 2004 charged the Army for 20,000 meals a day when it was only serving 10,000, routinely used expired foods and punished him for speaking to auditors by transferring him to the more dangerous outpost of Falluja.

Tbogg, citing this Houston Chronicle article, has more:

"We were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel from the bad food," Mayberry, who is now working in Iraq for another contractor, told the lawmakers in a videotape.

Oh, and don't forget the fuel:

At the start of the war, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had also awarded Halliburton a no-bid contract to restore Iraq's oil infrastructure. Under that contract, Halliburton was ordered to truck much-needed fuel into Iraq, and the assignment mushroomed to a total cost of $2.5 billion.

Under that contract, Waxman said, Halliburton was charging about $1.30 a gallon to truck in fuel from Kuwait. Executives from Lloyd-Owen International, which has been trucking in fuel for the last year, said they have been charging about 18 cents a gallon.

I wonder if they got the same $1.30 a gallon for sailboat fuel?

Yeah, war is hell--for Halliburton, it means having to come up with novel ways to spend all the money they're raking in while not getting too cheered up by all the death and destruction.
Mixing Metaphors

I'm mildly curious as to what bon mots (almost wrote bom[b]--guess that's sort of a Freudian slip) the Cheerleader in Chief will recite this evening...let's see...something tells me that "light at the end of the tunnel," "turned a [critical] corner," or references to body counts are right out. Hmmm...guess the only one left is "hard work" (.mp3 file).

Whatever It Is I'm Against It has a few metaphors--but I doubt Dubya plans on picking them up--their latest post asks "Is It Reigning Yet?"

As GeeDubya will remind us in 5 hours, today marks one year since he wrote (or possibly traced, I’m still not convinced he can read and write) “let freedom reign!” on a piece of paper, which he then put under his pillow, in the hopes that the Freedom Fairy, the little-known cousin of the Tooth Fairy, would take away the smoldering wreckage of Iraq and replace it with a Ruritarian utopia.

Patrick Cockburn, on the other hand, uses an artistic reference--From Turning Point to Vanishing Point:

A year ago the supposed handover of power by the US occupation authority to an Iraqi interim government led by Iyad Allawi was billed as a turning point in the violent history of post-Saddam Iraq.

It has turned out to be no such thing. Most of Iraq is today a bloody no-man's land beset by ruthless insurgents, savage bandit gangs, trigger-happy US patrols and marauding government forces...

The news now from Iraq is only depressing. All the roads leading out of the capital are cut. Iraqi security and US troops can only get through in heavily armed convoys. There is a wave of assassinations of senior Iraqi officers based on chillingly accurate intelligence. A deputy police chief of Baghdad was murdered on Sunday. A total of 52 senior Iraqi government or religious figures have been assassinated since the handover. In June 2004 insurgents killed 42 US soldiers; so far this month 75 have been killed...

To most ordinary Iraqis in Baghdad it is evident that life over the past year has been getting worse. The insurgents seem to have an endless supply of suicide bombers whose attacks ensure a permanent sense of threat. In addition the necessities of life are becoming more difficult to obtain. At one moment last winter there were queues of cars outside petrol stations several miles long.

The sense of fear in Baghdad is difficult to convey. Petrol is such a necessity because people need to pick up their children from school because they are terrified of them being kidnapped. Parents mob the doors of schools and swiftly become hysterical if they cannot find their children. Doctors are fleeing the country because so many have been held for ransom, some tortured and killed because their families could not raise the money.

Homes in Baghdad are currently getting between six and eight hours' electricity a day. Nothing has improved at the power stations since the hand-over of security a year ago. In a city where the temperature yesterday was 40C, people swelter without air conditioning because the omnipresent small generators do not produce enough current to keep them going. In recent weeks there has also been a chronic shortage of water...

Adding to the sense of fear in Baghdad is the growth of sectarianism, the widening gulf between Sunni and Shia. Shia mosques come under attack from bombers. Members of both communities are found murdered beside the road, in escalating rounds of tit-for-tat killings.

The talks between US officials and some resistance groups revealed in the past few days probably does not mean very much for the moment. The fanatical Islamic and militant former Baathists and nationalists who make up the cutting edge of insurgency are not in the mood to compromise. They are also very fragmented. But the talks may indicate a growing sense among US military and civilian officials that they cannot win this war.

In other words, all that hard work--for nothing at all.

Keeping to the theme, Christopher Allbritton takes issue with one of Rummy's (link from Needlenose)--

“We have to recognize that it's a tough, tough, tough world, and there are going to be bumps in the road between now and then.”

Bumps in the road”? Just earlier today, presumably before the Iraqi journalist was killed, an Iraqi member of parliament was killed in a car bomb attack. I can't even begin to tell you how many Iraqis have been killed in the weeks I was away. And how many more Iraqis, journalists or otherwise, will die because the Americans can't tell who's friend or foe? Those aren't “bumps in the road.” Those are signs that you went off the road without a map a long time ago.

Note: the journalist referred to in the paragraph above was shot in the head by a passing American convoy. Make sure to read the entire post, which is a far more realistic assessment than you're likely to hear this evening.

Allbritton goes on:

News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached.

When I was in Ramadi, I found the morale to be lower than expected. It wasn't rock-bottom among the Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, but it wasn't great. Most of the ones I talked to weren't confident they were doing anything worthwhile, and were instead focused on getting home alive. If a few Iraqis had to die to make that happen, well, war is hell.

I'm not sure who's winning this war, the Americans or the insurgents. But I know who is losing it: the Iraqi people. Those bumps in the road are their graves.

But this evening, we'll get the story from the hard work meister himself.

I dunno--maybe Dubya thinks he's such a hard worker based on his never ending campaign clearing brush out at the Crawford ranch--a campaign that requires weeks and weeks of vacation every year. Maybe he fantasizes that the brambles and briars are dangerous criminals like bin Laden or Zarqawi--out to git 'im--as he powers up the chain saw with a zeal and gusto that comes with taking real, positive steps to rid the world of the scourge of ter...

"Mr. President, I think that's quite enough for now--there's no need to chop up the dirt."

"Oh--guess you're right." He mutters at the ground, "you can run, ZAR-cowy, but you can't hide."

"Excuse me, Mr. President?"

"Um...oh, nothing."

And he ambles to the pickup truck...for the short drive to the house, where a wholesome dinner of fried chicken, snap beans, and hot cross buns awaits.

"Yep--it's hard work," he thinks to himself.
Sneak Preview

Attaturk surmises the outline of tonight's big speech:

I. Stay the Course

II. 9/11

III. Freedom on the March

* Wait for Mandatory "H00-ah" *


IV. They Hate our Freedom

V. Times are tough, more must die to make me look better.

VI. Things will get better.

VII. Stay the Course

VIII. 9/11

IX. Who else here hates Iran?

* Again, wait for pre-ordered "Hoo-ah" *


X. Stay the Course

XI. 9/11

XII. Don't be a Freedom Hater

XIII. God Bless America

You Can Bet On It

This morning's been moderately busy, and I also took the time to scan the usual sources, plus a diversion to the Science Times for an interesting piece about, well, time.

One thing I noticed on my scan was that you can always count on seeing a headline using the following two words: Iraq Violence. To make a crude pun on the paragraph above, it's almost like you can set your watch to it.

Today's look at Iraq Violence begins with a "helicopter crash" north of Baghdad--crash being an interesting choice of term--yes, it crashed, apparently after it was obliterated by a missile. In other words, crash is technically correct, although it might be better termed "crashed after being shot down." The Guardian goes on to note the following (and, hell, I had to start a tally sheet to make sure I didn't miss anything):

Two suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad, resulting in six deaths and 18 injuries.
Three suicide bomb attacks in Mosul, 33 dead (no reports of wounded).
18 dead in other attacks across Iraq.
A total of at least 1,338 deaths since April.

In other words, evidently the "violent" version of "last throes."

Now, it takes a special sort of person to turn this sort of shit into something vaguely resembling shinola...and, last night, after cooking/eating, I was treated to the latest attempt in the personages of Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. George Casey--the latter showing that the laws of physics are bendable, at least when it comes to defining "success:"

But there appears to be a perception that today, and in fact, over the last two months, that the violence is out of control, that it far exceeds any levels that we've seen before. That's just not the case. In fact, over the last seven weeks, we've ranged between 450 and 500 attacks over the course of a week. In August in Najaf, in November around Ramadan in Fallujah, and then for the elections there were 700, 800, 900 attacks over the course of a week.

Gen. Casey should be an author--he could write the travelogue Iraq on 70 Attacks a Day.

Rumsfeld, by the way, flopped around like a limp dishrag, first admitting, then denying that the US was/is negotiating with the Iraqi resistance, before finally settling on the non-persistance of memory defense:

I don't know anything about specific meetings on specific days.

He also suggested "Sunni leader" as the acceptable alternative to "insurgent leader," while Gen. Casey proffered "local and tribal leaders."

Elsewhere, press reports note that Team Bush is getting desperate, calling on the only genuine partner in the Coalition of whatever the hell they're calling it these days to help--in BOTH wars:

BRITAIN is coming under sustained pressure from American military chiefs to keep thousands of troops in Iraq - while going ahead with plans to boost the front line against a return to "civil war" in Afghanistan.

Tony Blair was warned that war-torn Iraq remains on the brink of disaster - more than two years after the removal of Saddam Hussein - during his summit with President Bush in Washington earlier this month...

"The Prime Minister was given a pretty depressing run-down of the prognosis for Iraq while he was in Washington," one senior Ministry of Defence source said last night. "The Americans are pushing for at least a maintenance of the troop numbers we have there now. Our latest intention is to reduce by at least half the number of our troops in Iraq within a year.

"It's difficult to see how we can square that circle."

(Link courtesy of Steve Gilliard).

And, while on the subject of Britain, let's note for the record that the WaPo evidently opted for a "better late than never" attitude towards the Downing Street Memo--nice to see that this damning bit of evidence finally is getting looked at by the spineless media.

Oh, and in case anyone forgot, the Cheerleader in Chief is scheduled to deliver his own reality defying pronouncement this evening, tentatively themed "Clear Path to Victory," which seems about as likely as time travel (I dunno--maybe Bush will announce that wormholes are a reality, and he plans to step back in time to try again--to LAND the plane on the aircraft carrier...Flight Suit Redux). Tomorrow the analysts will parse the language of the speech, and, like the courtiers in The Emperor's New Clothes, fail to notice the utter emptyness compared to the reality in Iraq.

Which a different section of the paper will cover--probably with a headline like:

Violence Continues in Iraq

Monday, June 27, 2005

Dubya Stands for...Wuss

From Democratic Underground:

President Bush likes to wax populist by calling the White House "the people's house," but his rules of decorum aren't what you would find in most people's homes...Bush once famously needled Adam Entous of Reuters for entering the Oval Office with a loosened tie.

"You look fine today, Adam. The tie," Bush told Entous, during a brief audience for reporters with the prime minister of the Netherlands.

Bush, who rates sartorial lapses only slightly below pagers and cell phones going off during his speeches, was being sarcastic. He really didn't think the loose tie was fine.

"It's not as bad as a beeper violation. But it's getting close," Bush said.

Bush recently hosted South Korean President Roh Moo-hyn in the Oval Office, where he was visibly annoyed by the nonchalance of visiting South Korean newsmen.

Members of the White House press corps understand that, as a rule, touching the furniture in the Oval Office is strictly forbidden. Even when Bush brings a group of journalists in for an informal chat, he does not invite them to sit.

So it was with unconcealed consternation that Bush sat through a brief question and answer session with the South Korean president, while two sound engineers from the South Korean press corps sprawled on a couch to get a good position for the remarks.

The generally loquacious Bush delivered his comments in short, abrupt sentences with a tone of impatience.

So profound was his air of injury that at one point, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, standing against a wall, stepped forward to peer at the offending sound technicians.

What a weenie.
Rip Rove a New One

You can spend quite a bit of time here learning about any number of people who've done something Karl Rove NEVER did--serve his country. Then, when you've finished, you might want to take a look at Kristen Breitweiser's open letter to Rover (Breitweiser's husband was killed on 9/11--he was working on the 94th floor of the South Tower):

One month after 9/11, we invaded Afghanistan, took down the Taliban, and left without capturing Usama Bin Laden - the alleged perpetrator of the September 11th attacks. In the meantime, Afghanistan has carried out democratic elections, but continues to suffer from extreme violence and unrest. Poppy production (yes, Karl, the drug trade) is at an all time high, thus flooding the world market with heroin. And of course, the oil pipeline (a.k.a. the Caspian Sea pipeline) is better protected by U.S. troops who now have a “legitimate” excuse to be in that part of Afghanistan. Interesting isn't it Karl that the drug “rat line” parallels the oil pipeline. (Yet, with all those troops guarding that same sliver of land, can you please explain how those drugs keep getting through?)

Now Karl, a question for you, since you seem to be the nation's self-styled sensei with regard to 9/11: Is Usama Bin Laden still important? Lately, your coterie of friends seems to be giving out mixed messages. Recall that in the early days, Bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive.” Then when Bin Laden slipped through your fingertips in Tora Bora, you downgraded his importance. We were told that Bin Laden was a "desperate man on the run,” and a person that President Bush was not "too worried about". Yet, whenever I saw Bin Laden's videos, he looked much too comfortable to actually be a man on the run. He looked tan, rested, and calm. He certainly didn't look the way I wanted the murderer of almost 3,000 innocent people to look: unkempt, panicked, and cowering in a corner...

More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country...

Karl, you say you “understand” 9/11. Then why did you and your friends so vehemently oppose the creation of a 9/11 Independent Commission? Once the commission was established, why did you refuse to properly fund the Commission by allotting it only a $3 million budget? Why did you refuse to allow access to documents and witnesses for the 9/11 Commissioners? Why did we have to fight so hard for an extension when the Commissioners told us that they needed more time due to your footdragging and stonewalling? Why didn't you want to cooperate so that all Americans could “understand” what happened on 9/11?

Since the release of the 9/11 Commission's Final Report, have you helped bring to fruition any of the commission's recommendations? Have you truly made our homeland safer by hardening/eliminating soft targets? Because, to me rebuilding a tower that is 1,776 feet tall where the World Trade Center once stood seems to be only providing more soft targets for the terrorists to hit. Moreover, your support for the use of nuclear energy seems to be providing even more soft targets. Tell me, while you write your nifty little speeches about nuclear power, do you explain to your audience how our nuclear plants will be protected against terrorist attack or infiltration? What assurances do you give that nuclear waste will not find its way into terrorist's dirty bombs and onto our city streets? And, how do you assure your audience that the shipment of radioactive material will not become a terrorist target as it rolls through their own backyards?

To date, you have done practically nothing to secure our ports, nuclear power plants, and mass transportation systems. Imagine if the billions of dollars you spent in Iraq were spent more wisely on those things here at home. Imagine what sort of alternative energy resources (bio-diesel, wind power, solar power, and hybrid automobiles) could have been researched and funded in the past three years. Talk about regaining the respect and support of the world, that is the one way to do it...

Finally Karl, please “understand” that the reason we have not suffered a repeat attack on our homeland is because Bin Laden no longer needs to attack us. Those of us with a pure and comprehensive “understanding of 9/11” know that Bin Laden committed the 9/11 attacks so he could increase recruitment for al Qaeda and increase worldwide hatred of America. That didn't happen. Because after 9/11, the world united with Americans and al Qaeda's recruitment levels never increased.

It was only after your invasion of Iraq, that Bin Laden's goals were met. Because of your war in Iraq two things happened that helped Bin Laden and the terrorists: al Qaeda recruitment soared and the United States is now alienated from and hated by the rest of the world. In effect, what Bin Laden could not achieve by murdering my husband and 3,000 others on 9/11, you handed to him on a silver platter with your invasion of Iraq - a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Which leads me to my final questions for you Karl: What are your motives when it comes to 9/11 and are you really sure that you understand 9/11?

Fill 'er up, to the tune of $100 or so a tank? Maybe:

Oil prices rose a dollar to a new record near $61 Monday...U.S. crude for August (OILOIL: Quote, Profile, Research) by 1700 GMT traded at a new high of $60.95 a barrel, up $1.11. U.S. crude is above $60 for every month to October 2006 with December 2005 setting a peak $62.35 a barrel.

London Brent set a record $59.59 a barrel, up $1.23.

"The market is testing higher to see what price levels this demand can endure," said Naohiro Niimura, vice president at the derivative products division of Japan's Mizuho Corporate Bank.


Gasoline prices, reversing a two-month slide, are again approaching records and at least one expert thinks they could hit $3 a gallon soon in the United States.

"We'll see it within a year," T. Boone Pickens, head of the billion-dollar hedge fund BP Capital Management, said on CNN's "In The Money" over the weekend...

Pickens said a shortage of oil is the main reason behind the price increase and didn't see how the world could produce more than the current 84 to 85 million barrels a day that currently comes out of the ground.

"We're coming up on a brick wall," he said. "The fourth quarter this year is going to maybe be the most interesting quarter I've ever experienced in my 50 years in the oil industry."
Ranting and Roving

Saw this over the weekend--Collective Sigh counts the ways Rove is...right?

When Karl Rove said liberals don't understand 9/11 and the consequences, he's perfectly correct. There are a lot of things I don't understand.

I don't understand how the Bush administration missed all the warning signals that an attack was about to take place.

I don't understand why security wasn't tightened up.

I don't understand why Bush sat in an elementary school classroom listening to children read while his nation was under attack.

I don't understand why, when we had al-Queda and the Taliban on the run, we didn't stay hot on the trail and finish the job.

I don't understand why the American people weren't asked to enlist in the military, pay higher taxes to pay for the war, or allowed to participate in any way besides going shopping or putting a "Support the Troops" decal on their cars.

I don't understand why, with the billions of dollars necessary to get the 9/11 perpetrators, Bush insisted on tax cuts for the wealthy.

I don't understand why Bush was so hell-bent on war with Iraq.

I don't understand why Bush continues to listen to bad military advice.

I don't understand why anyone would think torture and abuse of prisoners is "okay".

I don't understand why Karl Rove still has his job. He may be doing everything right, as in "right-wing", but "right" certainly doesn't mean "moral".
Positively Solzhenitsynish

After reading this, you'd think it was straight out of The Gulag Archipeligo:

...prisoners awaiting interrogation were made to lie face down for several hours in the main corridor and forbidden to raise their heads or make a sound. They lay this way, prayer, until the guard touched a shoulder and took them off to interrogation...

[the woman] was transferred to [another location]. In the admitting office, a [female] jailer ordered her to undress, allegedly for a medical examination, took away her clothes, and locked her in a "box" naked. At that point the men jailers began to peer through the peephole and [talk about] her...with loud laughs...

During [another] interrogation, the interrogator, a woman, undressed in front of him...all the time continuing the interrogation as if nothing were going on. She walked about the room and came close to him and tried to get him to give in...

Intimidation through enticement and lies was the fundamental method for bringing pressure on the relatives of the arrested person when they were called in to give testimony...

Playing on one's affection for [family]...was the most effective of all methods of intimidation...

Sound effects...The prisoner is deafened; sometimes he actually loses his sense of hearing...

A cigarette is put out on the [detainee's] skin...

[one prisoner] was forced to remain seated on a stool in the corridor [for hours]...

[another was forced] to stand on his knees--not in some figurative sense, but literally: on his knees, without sitting back on his heels, and with his back upright...

Sleeplessness (combined with standing, thirst, bright light)...[it] left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint...

Punishment cells...There were various aspects to punishment cells--...for instance, dampness and water...

Beatings-of a kind that leave no marks. They use rubber truncheons... wooden mallets and small sandbags.

We Don't Negoiate With Terrorists

I first saw these links at Whiskey Bar, and they underscore how desperate Team Bush is getting re: Iraq--no wonder Rove is working himself up into such a lather:

After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies.

The talks on June 3 were followed by a second encounter 10 days later, according to an Iraqi who said that he had attended both meetings. Details provided to The Sunday Times by two Iraqi sources whose groups were involved indicate that further talks are planned in the hope of negotiating an eventual breakthrough that might reduce the violence in Iraq...

The Iraqi sources, who have proved reliable in the past, said the American team included senior military and intelligence officers, a civilian staffer from Congress and a representative of the US embassy in Baghdad.

On the rebel side were representatives of insurgent groups including Ansar al-Sunna, which has carried out numerous suicide bombings and killed 22 people in the dining hall of an American base at Mosul last Christmas.

Also represented was the so-called Islamic Army in Iraq, which murdered Enzo Baldoni, an Italian journalist, last August; the Iraqi Liberation Army; Jaish Mohammed and other smaller factions. According to an Iraqi commander, one of the Americans introduced himself as “a representative of the Pentagon” and declared himself ready to “find ways of stopping the bloodshed on both sides and to listen to demands and grievances”.

The US officer also indicated that the contents of any discussion would be relayed to his superiors in Washington.

The Americans were then said to have launched into a lengthy session of questioning about the structure of the insurgency, which is far from a unified entity.
Coalition military intelligence has identified at least four separate strands of anti-American opposition, including Zarqawi’s jihadists, former members of Saddam’s regime, Sunni Arab nationalists and criminal gangs.

The links between these groups remain murky and the American team began to irritate the Iraqis with what some saw as a crude attempt to gather intelligence. They asked questions about the “hierarchy and logistics of the groups, how they functioned, how orders were dispatched, how they divide their work and so on”, the Iraqi source said.

“It was a boring line of questioning that indicated an attempt to discover more about their enemy than about finding solutions,” one of the sources added. “We told the translator to inform them that if they persisted with this line we would all walk out of the meeting.”

The Iraqis had agreed beforehand to focus on their main demand, “a guaranteed timetable of American withdrawal from Iraq”, the source said. “We told them it did not matter whether we are talking about one year or a five-year plan but that we insisted on having a timetable nonetheless.”

There was no word on whether or not US negotiaters were interested in holding therapy sessions with the insurgents, but at least one person--Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld--has certainly changed his tune lately, extolling the virtue of sweet tea and diplomatic tact (while most likely hoping that this bombshell--no pun intended--can be hidden in plain sight, which is a lot easier than it seems, thanks to a neutered media):

"They [contacts] go on all the time..."

Then he blamed the Iraqis:

"...the Iraqis have a sovereign government. They will decide what their relationships with various elements of insurgents will be. We facilitate those [relationships] from time to time."

Finally, Rummy sought to hedge the bet, as it were, by claiming that the US is "not going to try to bring in the people with blood on their hands," which, as anyone reading the Times article can see, is bullshit...of course, considering the sheer volume of steaming piles this administration has served up to at least a partially willing public, it's not surprising they'd put it on the menu yet again.

Now, speaking of bullshit, Gen. John Abizaid managed to pull a metric out of his ass hat last night, suggesting that we could claim victory IF we manage to stick around long enough to train an Iraqi security force ("There's only one way for the insurgents to win: that's to drive us out before the Iraqis are ready to assume the battle space"). Sounds like Abizaid is asking for seconds.

The "new and improved" Iraqi army, or security force, or legion of traffic cops, or whatever you want to call it isn't capable of properly functioning as dogcatcher. It's a pathetic mix and match of unmotivated young men looking for a paycheck and infiltrators--the former likely scared shitless they'll be targeted for collaborating (notice how many of these folks are wearing ski masks to hide their identity) the latter probably laughing at how easy it is to pull a fast one on us.

Oh, and Rumsfeld had a reaction to what amounts to a crisis of epic proportions with comments that sound like he hasn't quite awakened from his afternoon nap ("Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years"...yawn--ok, I made up the "yawn" part, but)...which again, is quite a different tune from his jaunty phraseology two years ago ("I can't say if the use of force would last five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that")--phraseology echoed by other players for Team Bush back during Mission Accomplished/flight-suit-dress-up-days. And, the violence continues.

Which means we can expect Team Bush to truly "go on the offensive," with emphasis on "offensive," i.e., witness the heart of the team, Dick Cheney, going after GOP Senator Chuck Hegel--or Rove's rant last week. Iraq is figuratively blowing up in their faces, and not so figuratively blowing up all around our military. As a result, the "tough guys," the ones who "know how to deal with terrorists," are, well, showing their inner wimp (which, as Billmon correctly notes, might be the ONLY, albeit slim, chance we have of salvaging anything in Iraq, i.e., the new century's "peace with honor"). But considering the rhetorical corner the wingnuts have insisted on putting themselves in, I expect to see quite a lot of bared teeth and hissing from them over the next few months as Iraq continues the downward slide.

Tomorrow, Bush will address the nation, using his classic, if ironic, backdrop of active duty soldiers. My guess is that his speech will be on the bland side, i.e., the good cop to RoveCheney's cornered weaselings. But neither vanilla paeans nor vicious howlings will affect the bottom line, which is that Iraq is already lost, and it's just a matter of time before the total costs are accounted for, in lives lost or shattered, and money spent. The only question is how low this administration will stoop in trying to maintain their grip on power. Something tells me that line is VERY low--like whaleshit at the bottom of the ocean low.